Two things really stuck out to me in this: the fact that most of the story is descriptions of specific past events and the main present action at the end is heavily implied, which gives a tension and contrast that in turn gives the ending a weight that it wouldn't otherwise have. The second thing is this line: "questions flew out of his mouth like angry bees" Simple and awesome.
I absolutely agree with the previous comment-- the line about the bees is amazing. It's an extremely vivid image and perfectly gets across what was intended. Great story with great use of using the past to show what came of the present.
It's an interesting way to portray an abusive husband. The prose is very "tactful" so to speak. It doesn't have the rawness or disturbing vulgarity it could've had, but the husband's thoughts are not completely coded either. I almost get the feeling that to an extent it portrays how an abusive husband can seem to be perfectly normal and loving from the outside, and yet be a monster on the inside, without even realizing it. I think the scary part is Caitlin's psychology—the fact that she thinks her husband is right as well. In reality many women in such relationships end up in such relationships because they allow themselves to treated that way; and this issue is portrayed here as well. I wish more works of fiction would focus on this issue rather than merely focusing on portraying a monstrous abuser.
I agree with the above comments, except for the one that this portrays an abusive husband. Yes, I suppose it does that, but far more importantly, it portrays the psychology and mindset of the abusive husband's target. Of course, I want to shake this woman and say, "Wake up. Can't you see how you're being manipulated by this guy? Can't you see how he is using your own intelligence to beat you down and make you submissive to him?" The story works precisely because you stay with the woman and the mind set she has adopted that allows her to rationalize what is being done to her. I was also impressed that you tell this story so succinctly. Keeping it tight adds to the story's power.
There is an underlying viciousness to the narrative, all the more effective because it is never brought out into the open. There's a line from an author interview recently that your story reminds me of: "...the truth of the story is the body under the frozen lake. as the story goes on the ice is melting and at some point that body is going to come to the surface. It’s all about how fast the ice melts, who’s going to find the body." http://paulmcveighwriter.com/interviews/cate-kennedy/ Chilling portrayal of how the victim feels in these kinds of relationships.
Wow. Riona's comment about story is a keeper: the truth of the story is the body under the frozen lake.
This glimpse into how the mind of a victim works is absolutely chilling to the core. I loved the way you got to watch her thought process and how absolutely twisted and manipulated it was, and yet you could easily see that Caitlin believed every word she was saying. This was a great short story.
Nice step into victim mentality. Easily, the best line is the words flying like angry bees. There are a couple places where a closer look at the punctuation could make things cleaner.
Angry bees. Love it. My friends and I were just discussing this issue last night. Succinct and powerful - well done.
My favorite part of this story was how she couldn't remember the "and what." This was an eloquent and simple way to express how the psychological trauma of her husband's abuse had led her to doubt herself, even to the point of doubting her own thoughts and memories.
The victim aspect of this story is excellently portrayed, the way that an abusive relationship can turn a person inwards, create seemingly 'logical' reasoning and justification. I really enjoyed this story, amazing what can be done with such a short word count.
What a powerful story! Great description and alliteration with the line "She pressed a shivering ice pack on her swollen cheek"!