By Karen Kinley
Where do I even start with this one? I was just drinking my morning cup of coffee and reading when I was just punched in the teeth out of nowhere.
I think a great place to start for this one is language. Kinley does a wonderful job with language in this piece. It is poetic, yet distraught. There is so much stress built up in the story by the way Kinley flows together different literary devices. She builds us such a tiny room, but with so much imagery that it feels cold. A room with thin walls, but not TOO thin, a PlayStation as the source of light, and complete loneliness. Loneliness plays a big factor in this story, for sure, which I’ll touch on a little later in the review. But Kinley almost makes loneliness feel like a tangible object in the room. Kind of like it’s all Jeremy really has left. And it’s all done through beautiful language.
Another great part about this story is its little bit of backstory that’s kind of littered throughout it. There’s no big dialogue piece that says, “Hi, this is Jeremy and this is his life.” No, Kinley is better than that. I think my favorite part of the entire story, and if it were a book, then the entire book, is when Jeremy is recalling Deadbeat and we learn that even at eleven-years-old Jeremy could pick out a deadbeat when he saw one. That gives us SO much information in one sentence. That line is key to understanding where Jeremy is mentally. He’s a kid that’s seen and heard WAY too much. It’s a beautiful line, really.
A big thing I want to touch on is the way we see his mother almost forgetting about Jeremy. We see this when Jeremy is recalling the times his mom would make his bedroom feel like home and now she doesn’t do that. I’m sure we’ve all been in a situation where one day it just clicks and we feel like we’re fading from somebody’s life. Or somebody is fading from ours. And I definitely got that feeling in that little glimpse of backstory.
There’s a big piece to this story that had me going back and forth. The repeated line, “I can’t stay with you anymore.” At first, I thought it was the mom saying it. Then I thought it was Jeremy. Then back to the mom. And I’ll be honest, I still don’t know. But it’s fun to imagine both of them. Because depending on who’s saying it it brings an ENTIRELY different feeling. For Jeremy, I almost get this sense of independence and freedom. For his mother, I get disappointment, guilt, despair, and exhaustion. So for a writer to bring so many conflicting emotions to a single line depending solely on the perspective is just wonderful to read.
I don’t want to make this review exceedingly long. This is one of those stories that I feel like I could go on and on and on and on and…well………….on about. I’ll get right to it. I would rate this story 4/5 stars. Let-me-tell-you-why. This story could definitely be five stars, and I almost put it there. I loved a lot about it, especially the tension that it brought to the forefront. I wanted more feeling from the ending. Not just in the ending though, but throughout the entire story building up to that DRAMATIC ending. I didn’t get Jeremy’s sadness in the end, or any feeling from him at all. Is he relieved that she’s gone? Is he sad? I had so much emotion from Jeremy throughout the story, but then nothing. And it could be that he’s feeling numb, which would be reasonable. But, I feel like I didn’t get that. The story is a little under 1,200 words, which leaves a LOT of room to build that emotion. Overall, really wonderful storytelling and I will definitely be reading more of Kinley’s work.
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 Karen Kinley’s work? Read it here.