I’ve just discovered “A Pocketful of Silence,” a story by Tarl Roger Kudrick, one of the editors of the excellent On The Premises, published in Anotherealm. I’ve had the privilege of being edited by Tarl, and gained a great deal of respect for him in the process. It’s nice to see what his work is like on the other side of the equation.
“A Pocketful of Silence” is about a brush with adventure. I recognize the narrator’s burning longing for it:
When I was fourteen I hated my life, and it was no longer Nancy Drew’s fault, but Dana Scully’s. Yes, Agent Scully from The X-Files. I wanted to embrace the sexy danger, mystery, and wonder that surrounded her in every episode, and never see a well-manicured lawn again. Back then I wrote protest songs and stood outside malls, flailing away on a guitar and screeching at everyone who dared to walk by. I had the kind of passion I thought would fuel my heart forever, but always burns out eventually.
Even though I like my life now, some days I miss feeling like I’m giving off so much light, people have to look away or go blind.
What stands out in this story is the attention to detail. No character is wasted. For example, the narrator is close to a boy she tutors named Damon. The boy’s father is a fairly minor character, but quite vivid:
I haven’t been in Damon’s basement since his eighth birthday party, when the plumbing broke. His dad made a pinata out of a pillowcase, hung it from the water pipes running along the unfinished ceiling, and gave all the kids hockey sticks. His dad tries, I’ll give him that.
Similarly, here’s an image of a friend of the narrator:
Two nights later she comes over and I buy the pizza. It’s an apology she’ll recognize and accept. I dance around exactly what I found, but tell her everything except the telepathy, which even I have trouble believing. I can tell my vagueness grates on her from the way she tears her pizza into little bits before eating it.
I’ve seen a certain taste for quirkiness in some of the stories On The Premises has published. In “A Pocketful of Silence,” I thought I recognized some of that same quirkiness from a different angle.