Fiction Review #1: "Last Time" by Jon Fain
Jon Fain submitted a piece to City. River. Tree. in last month that I've been unable to push from my mind. And the thing is - here's the thing - I'm not sure if I want it out or not, and you tell me if that's not the mark of a good story.
It opens with a small boy visiting his grandfather's farm. All is well. There's a warmness to the language that just seems to hug up the sad, horrible core. It's so warm that if you take the whole thing in one bite (and you kind of have to, given its length), you don't quite taste the bitterness inside until two seconds later, and then it hits you full on in the back of the throat.
What makes it magical is that the core of it is literally right in the middle - "the baby cats were dead" - and Jon takes us in and out of a barn to get there, to that dark middle, where he straight on tells us that those kittens are dead, even though they're "still warm".
The boy follows his grandfather outside with the warm bodies and he understands that the cats are dead. And then, here goes Grandpa, just being Grandpa, throwing two of the kittens over a ridge and into the open sky, full of sunshine. Grandpa then takes the kid's dead kitten out of his hands and throws it, too, because hell, we don't bury cats in this place.
They might come back.
Thanks, Stephen King.
Anyway. I loved the story and my hope was that by writing this review, it would leave me alone, and yet now, having written it, I somehow doubt that very much. Well done, Mr. Fain.
"Last Time" by Jon Fain - 241 words