“Stained Glass” by Karis Walsh from Saints and Sinners 2013: New Fiction from the Festival (Bold Strokes Books).
Full disclosure: I have a story in this anthology.
The method the author uses to tell this story is fascinating. She alternates between the point of view of each of the two characters and sections of “Stained Glass”, the graphic novel they are creating together, by mail, without ever having met in person or even spoken on the phone. They can’t do those things because Anne is a virtual prisoner, subject to having very nearly every move she makes tracked by her domineering, violent husband. She manages to carve out thin slivers of time in which to write installments of the “book” (to steal a term from musical theatre) for the graphic novel and send them off to Rory, who is every bit as trapped by her own situation.
Possibly Rory is agoraphobic; maybe she’s OCD; or it could also be that her affliction is a combination of those disorders, I’m not sure. Regardless, drawing is her means of escape. Together they’ve crafted a story about a woman, Sage, who is abducted by a dark figure with the specious self-bestowed moniker The Redeemer, and a heroine named Kristall who must come to her rescue. Communicating via the book and illustrations, they’ve also built a fascinating and unusual relationship, and found the encouragement each needed to push the boundaries of her confinement. But is the bond they’ve forged strong enough to allow each woman to fully break free from her respective prison and join forces for real? The story is extremely open ended. It seems likely that this is the beginning of a larger story. I’d love to know what happens next.