By Thom Brodkin
This little love story between Peter and Delilah is a treat to read! Opening on a scene from a secluded, less-traveled path overlooking Lake Quinault in Washington, Silence connects real, physical love to the beautiful imagery of nature.
If you haven’t looked up pictures of Lake Quinault (or better, actually BEEN there!), I would highly encourage it. This place looks beautiful! Added to Top Places To Visit? Absolutely.
The way the story is written is, overall, good. There is such a small amount of dialogue, which really increases the pacing of the story. Really, the dialogue can be summed up into two sentences: “Is this seat taken?” and “It’s a free country.” It starts when the narrator is some age, assumed to be younger. I’m imagining early twenties. It jumps to five years later and the narrator goes through normal relationships. Then the story jumps through Peter and Delilah’s entire life together after they meet five years later, from their first date to death. It mentions children, pets, and vacations so you know they had a long, healthy relationship. But most importantly the center of the story revolves around their trips to Lake Quinault.
Thom uses some good one-liners, as any good short story should. The entire art of the short story is creating a whole life, or world, in as little words as possible. And, I think Thom did a good job of that. Take the reason Peter allocates to why every relationship didn’t work after he met Delilah for the first time. He says, “At its core was a sunrise and a conversation that didn’t happen.” This tells the reader, without going into detail about any relationship, that they were all destined to fail.
This intentional lack of detail brings me to another point about this story: the entire focus is on Delilah and nature, almost blending the two together. The story doesn’t give much detail about how Peter looks, their kids, their house, or really anything about their life. This is exciting because in the beginning Peter describes Delilah as kind of..unconventionally pretty..? He says, “Not all men might have said the same thing,” when he describes how she looks the first time he sees her. I think there’s a connection between that line, and how Thom connects society’s dependence on technology and lack of attention to natural beauty. And I think this is to say that when Peter first sees Delilah that he has an appreciation for her that can only be felt when looking at something so grand as the sunset over Lake Quinault.
Another motif in this story is silence…..OBVIOUSLY. But Thom portrays this motif so, so well through several oxymorons. Like, “The silence that followed was both loud and revealing.” You can’t get more oxymoronic than that! I mean, Peter and Delilah have conversations through their silence. Yes, you can have conversations through silence! There’s an appreciation for the silence and the way the two bond through it on this deep emotional level. “She wordlessly told me she understood the moment.” What a sense of connection there.
I think I would give this story…… 3.5 out of 5 stars. And I know what you’re thinking, “That’s harsh, A.R.! You just praised it!” And it is worth praising. It has some really good aspects to it, and it’s a good story. And I get it, following a prompt can only end in so many ways. But it was still predictable. Cute….but predictable. I don’t mind that there’s little dialogue. I think it fits the scheme of the story well, and I actually enjoyed that aspect. But, there needs to be more showing rather than just telling, a little more description in there. This would really make the story stand out. The story only uses about 1,300 of the 3,000-word limit. So, there’s a lot of room for growth there. Definitely worth the read!
Thank you for reading! Have you read this story yet? What did you think of it? Join in on this discussion in the comments below!
Interested in reading this story? Or more of Brodkin’s work? Read it here.