Day 6: Cowgirl by Susan Steinberg
Cowgirl is a story told in a single long sentence; well, in what would be multiple sentences except for the semicolons. It starts with a semicolon as if we are breaking into an ongoing loop, only seeing part of the story:
; it was virtual, the killing; it was conference call, the killing; it was party line, a party; it was everyone talking at once; it was everyone talking and me in charge; it was nearing morning, almost light; it was the doctor begging me, come on already; it was the doctor begging me, do it already; it was me saying, you do it already;
The structure gives it a breathless rhythm as if it were all meant to be read in one long breath, words spoken so fast because they can’t be contained because your thoughts are everywhere all at once, and you can’t even pause long enough for a period.
We are dropped in the middle of a situation with no buildup to set the stage, and in this it mimics the sudden world shift that happens when you get that phone call out of the blue. Someone’s been in an accident. Someone has cancer. Someone is dead.
And someone is dying in the story – the discussion the narrator is having with the doctor is about pulling the plug on her father, her father whom she caught cheating a long time ago and that led to her parents divorcing and to her being more than a little troubled. The weight of it all comes crashing down on her while she’s on the phone with her family trying to make a decision about whether it is time to end her father’s life.
I hadn’t heard of Steinberg before I read this story, but this project is already a win because I’ll be looking for her in the future.