Saturday, February 12, 2011

Ashes on the Water

Short Story by Gwendolyn Clare

A young woman mourns the death of her sister in a water-scarce India where every river is guarded by men with guns and razorwire. The desert is encroaching on what was once verdant farmland. But she wants to scatter her sister's ashes into the river so they can float down to the sea, as is tradition. The caper becomes complicated, and eventually comes to the solution I'd guessed at from the beginning, before our character decided to take a quicker but more dangerous option.

Not an exciting story, but concise enough that it doesn't drain the reader. Clare does an excellent job of fleshing out this future India in so few pages, and the narrator grows from the experience, finding purpose for her life and no longer wanting to spend it chasing after her sister. At first, I thought her plans at the end seemed rather obvious, but I realized that the point isn't that these were astounding ideas, but that she finally had enough hope for the future to plan for it. Direction in life and hope create a positive feedback loop, once she was done mourning. Sweet, simple story.

3.5 out of 5.

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