“I had convinced so many people of so many things over my life, but this would be my greatest feat: convincing myself what I was doing was reasonable. Not decent, but reasonable.”
She likes to read. She thinks she is better than the people she is surrounded with. Be it her colleagues or her boss; her one-eyed mother who taught her how to beg and reflect people’s insecurities and make a living out of it; or the clients who come to her for a hand job.
“That’s what I remember most about my childhood: stains. I couldn’t tell you the color of my mom’s eyes, but I could tell you the stain on the shag carpet was a deep, soupy brown, and the stains on the ceiling were burnt orange and the stains on the wall were a vibrant hungover-piss yellow.”
The first person narration, which verges on outright honest to downright cynical and highhanded is a winner. And of course, Flynn knows how to twist and turn the language to suit her needs and satiate the thirst of the reader. Using her linguistic power and her masterful storytelling abilities, she thrills, creates suspense and entertains on every page, effortlessly.
Now, let’s circle back to the story. In this short story, the narrator interestingly works in a psychic parlor, called Spiritual Palms, which in reality is a soft-core sex outlet. She works hard and is good at her job. The male clients who come to her adore her and have become her friends. One, even recommends books she could read. Yes, our narrator likes to read.
She is after all no ordinary small-town girl. She is sharp-witted, observant, aspires to be erudite, and possibly, if an opportunity presents itself, will leave the drudgery of the small town behind. And escape to a big city which with its smarter and grander ways, will get her.
And then when she thinks she has got it all figured out, enters Susan Burke. Rich, smart, mousy, and jittery. An odd combination. But, then who is looking. Our narrator is blinded by her supposed ability to read people. So blinded that she forgets to acknowledge the core human characteristic, something she has ostensibly aced:
Using the art of pretension as a trope, Flynn plays the narrator against Susan and comes up with short , pithy and highly effective dialogues, which also does a good job of taking the story forward.
To add to the mystery and create a brilliant climax, another character is added to the mix. Miles. Susan’s fifteen-year-old dark, angry, threatening, and introverted stepson. A typical teenager. Except that he isn’t.
“Miles was never a sweet boy,” Susan admits.
When Susan invites our girl to her Victorian mansion to clean it off its dark forces, the story turns spooky. It becomes a ghost story and stays that way, until the big reveal.
What’s the big reveal? Pick The Grownup to find out. You won’t regret reading this contemporary, engrossing, and highly entertaining short story.
- The smart, witty and in some cases, shocking and irreverent writing.
- The character arcs of the narrator, Miles and Susan Burke.
- Hallmark of Flynn’s stories — the unapologetic exploration of human psyche.
- The length. Too short, Gillian. Please give us a longer book to immerse into.