"Autumn / Something Sweet / ...Oh, who knows?" was written by Linda Foster and posted May 28, 2010 on Scribophile which is a website that encourages people to write and critique each other's work. The story should take about 10 minutes to read. I don't personally know Linda. I found her story by chance.
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This short story is exactly what I think of when I think "short story." It is very short, just over 1,000 words, and spends a great deal of time building up to a revelation. I don't know about you guys, but I did not see the end coming.
An important aspect of short stories is diction or word choice. "Something Sweet" requires very careful diction so as not to reveal the surprise until just the right moment. Linda creates action, suspense and setting by focusing on the man's emotions: "With concerted effort, I waited patiently for her to work her way to where I was stationed, near to the back of the store" (emphasis added). His reactions are almost stereotypically vulgar - the ogling and desire - and exactly the kind of attention we suspect this cougar wants.
But what do we know? This woman isn't on the prowl - she's just shopping. And this man isn't hitting on every skirt in the store - he's really just a Teddy Bear! What does this Teddy tell us about humanity? This story reveals how being single is just as normal as being in a hot-and-heavy relationship. Our culture bombards us with messages of romance - soap opera romances, the ideal marriage, the celebrity affairs, passion here, passion there, passion on every channel - but these passionate moments are brief and not the pinnacle of life, or are they?
Love is the greatest thing about life. But what about the rest of life? What about those less-passionate days. Aren't they just as important? What about single people? They lead interesting lives, too. What about the day you climbed that mountain, got that promotion, took that chance that turned out. Or what about that time you made someone's day, received a pat on the back or bought that great bargain? These are the small victories that make every day special.
Love takes many forms. Here we have a passionate woman, living her life passionately - just not the Hollywood version. Her apartment may be messy and maybe she's not a great cook. But she's not in an abusive relationship. She's not wallowing in loneliness. She does have a job and supports herself. And she seems happy.
I hope "Something Sweet" made you smile. Tell me what you thought and happy reading!