anxiety men mental illness short fiction short stories

Keygoyle – a drabble

(From Chuck Palahniuk, a prompt about a closed space. There are three here, in this story)

Kyle pulled out of the driveway, blinking away tears.

Kyle didn’t see it, paranoia like rabid dogs loose in his head.

They’ll wait before doing anything which might get them caught, he tells himself.

In his mind, he imagined them with terrible clarity. How she would respond to him, the unknown lover.

Each time he left for work, part remained inside, a gargoyle. Guarding.  Peering through the keyhole.

Red with feeling, like the light he missed.

The scream feels liberating as the car crumples like paper in God’s right hand.

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The Fever by Megan Abbott


Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs posits that when base needs are met, then your desires become more refined. Which usually means that your fears probably work on the same level. If you’re not risking death every single time that you give birth, then you’re worried that they will live to be healthy adults and when they’re healthy adolescents, you’re worried about any number of factors. Within the haunted house of parenthood and adolescence, Megan Abbott knows where the ghosts live and shows them to you.

The Fever ably captures the beauty and passion, the terror, the contradictory desire for freedom and privacy, the secrets that women keep from themselves and one another. She uses social media and how it intertwines and defines the worlds of young people subtly and effectively. In the iconography of the modern world, the online video is the sermon, the blowing of the whistle or in this case, the further descent into collective hysteria and projection of deeply held emotion.  The projections, the hypocrises, the tribal nature of modern american youth and their parents, the narcissism and the drive to make an issue about them have harnesses thrown upon them and made to drive Abbott’s story home. She has a tight grip on her prose and her plot, suggesting in a few words, a cauldron of primal emotions and poignant agonies.

Along the day she writes these beautiful, painful moments and whirling, panicked people that kept pulling me along to it’s conclusion. Each book out carries the best of the last and adds to it. She avoids the heavy info dumping that shows a writer too enamoured of a subject and uses the facts to build a hallucinatory, heady story that kicks you in the teeth by it’s ending.

There’s a breathless sensuality to her work so that you are compelled and appalled, drawn to the memories of your own adolescence and either grateful or in mourning for your own spent or misspent youth.  Read it, it’s a powerful and graceful book.