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Exploring the art of fiction

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Author: Maria Kenny


Author’s Note

Sometimes in ordinary conversation, when you’re thinking of nothing to do with writing, a small comment can topple a full story into your head. This is what happened with this story. I was discussing with a friend how art is critiqued. During the course of the conversation he mentioned ‘details from,’ which basically, in his words, meant that the critic is zooming in on a small section of the painting, discussing the finer details and later revealing the whole picture. As my friend spoke, an image of a woman sitting in a doctor’s office came to mind. Behind the doctor was a window that she was staring out of. Due to the wonderful mechanics of the brain, I had the whole story within seconds and don’t recall the rest of the conversation with my friend as I had begun writing it in my head.

I knew Kay had Alzheimer’s, but I wanted the reader to believe it was her husband. Alzheimer’s is such a horrible, robbing disease. Not only stealing away memory, but essentially the life of the carrier. They are not the person they were, except in moments when lucidity returns and presents the most terrible beauty. Recognition, realisation, only for it to be taken away again.

We get small glimpses into other people’s lives. A teenager might bump into us at the train station without apologising and we will bemoan the youth of today, maybe not realising that said teenager has just lost her mother, or self-harms, or has just failed an exam. The lady who skips us in the queue and has the audacity to look us as if we did wrong, might have a child in hospital, or an abusive husband, a mother who keeps wandering off, as is the case with Sarah…

The point being, we never know what is going on in anyone’s life and we are so consumed with our own that, truthfully, unless it affects us in some way, we don’t really care. We all believe we’re not that important in the grand scheme of things and yet we worry about what other people think of us—we behave accordingly and begrudgingly envy those who step outside the norm whilst also condemning them.

For me this story is more about how society does not pay attention, how quick we are to judge without thinking that there may be an underlying reason for someone’s inordinate behaviour.

In our interactions with others, we never get the full picture, only details from…

 


MARIA KENNY has lived in Dublin all her life. She works with children with special needs in a primary school. Her short stories and flash fiction have appeared in journals in Ireland, the UK, and Mexico such as The Ofi Press Magazine, The Galway Review, Amethyst Review, The Cabinet of Heed, and The Casket of Fictional Delights. She was longlisted for the WoW award 2016, highly rated in the Maria Edgeworth Short Story competition 2018, and was shortlisted for the Kanturk Flash Fiction Competition 2019. She is also a featured writer for the online journal The Casket of Fictional Delights. She is currently in the throes of editing her second novel. She tweets @mpkenny1000