“What Took You So Long?” by Vince Sgambati from Saints and Sinners 2013: New Fiction from the Festival (Bold Strokes Books).
Full disclosure: I have a story in this anthology.
This was my favorite story by one of the other contributors and I was disappointed that the author was not in attendance at last year’s festival so I could tell him so. While reading it I was continually struck by how much it felt like the beginning of a novel. Here’s hoping.
Recently divorced schoolteacher-on-summer-hiatus Nick has just inherited his Aunt Winifred’s farmhouse in upstate New York, due to the death of her longtime “friend” Ida, who Winifred’s will granted the right to continue living in the house. No one in Nick’s family has ever spoken openly about Winifred and Ida’s relationship, at least not in his presence. It’s always been a matter of “rolling eyes and snide remarks”.
The house is now his, so Nick takes a trip to determine what needs to be done to sell it.
I’ve read this story several times now, and each time I don’t simply read the words so much as fall into them. The descriptions of everything—the house, the town, the more upscale resort town neighboring it, and Merrill, who was part of Aunt Winifred and Ida’s social circle—are perfect. Absolutely perfect. They make me want to move in. I want that house, that town, that life. I am rooting for Nick, who has played it safe all his life (to the point of getting walked on), to move in, reach for the brass ring, and finally have the life he deserves.