“The Secret Life of Engineers,” a story by David Borofka, just went up on the Emerging Writers Network, as the winner of the 2007 short fiction contest. It is a story about the strange and patient unraveling that goes on when, as a grownup, you try to understand things about your parents’ lives. The narrator’s mother feels abandoned by the father’s business trips, and slowly gets derailed:
Those last years before he moved her into Willow Springs were tough on my father; my mother had become a habitual night walker, and she had been quick to open a door and beat a hasty exit in all kinds of weather. She was looking for my father who was asleep beside her in their queen-sized bed. But he never saw the irony: her great fear of abandonment had given wings to her feet, thus leading to the separation that she feared most of all.
I liked the pace of this story. It was measured — the story gave plenty of time and room to enjoy the mysteries of the parents’ lives, but never slowed down to the point that my attention wavered.