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Short Stories 365/237 | N.S. Beranek

“Laura Left a Rotten Apple and Came Not to Regret the Cold of the Yukon” by Lynn Jamneck from So Fey: Queer Fairy Fiction (Lethe Press 2009). Edited by Steve Berman.

The placement of this piece in the anthology is perfect. This story is precisely what is needed after the brutality of the last one.

I didn’t realize until reading this just how fuzzy I was on details concerning the Yukon Territory. After I stopped reading to correct that situation, I realized why I’ve never paid it much mind: I’m from Chicago, and as much as I loved almost everything about growing up there, I hated the cold. It was a big part of the reason I chose to go to college 300 miles south of my hometown, and why I re-located due east of there. The Yukon? Heck no. Besides, I never, ever want to be that close to Sarah Palin. Brrr!

I loved main character Laura’s forthright voice and bold attitude. She’s a best-selling, Manhattan-based author who has hit a wall, creatively, so she chucks everything and trudges off to the Yukon in search of fresh head space. You have to admire that. Right off she meets Sergeant Gwen Morrigan and sparks fly. I liked the sergeant’s self-assured, calm demeanor and the hints that, underneath, she had a playful side.

My brain tried to make something out of the similarity of the sergeant’s name to characters in the Arthur legend, and then out of the comment that Esther, the proprietor of the local general supply, makes about Laura’s destination being “like Brigadoon” during a blizzard, but neither reference seemed to pan out. Laura uses the desolation of the Poniwok to re-gain her focus for work and makes headway on a new novel. Sergeant Gwen goes about her own business. Whenever they cross paths the conversation is layered with other meanings. Gwen seizes an opportunity to invite Laura to accompany her while she makes her rounds looking for game poachers. While they are out and about an incident happens that, frankly, I’m not sure I understood. It seems magic comes into play, and there are more hints of something magical at work after that. I couldn’t quite put it all together, but I enjoyed the interactions between all these characters so much that the fact that I wasn’t sure what made it possible simply didn’t matter. Laura left the “rotten apple”, re-found her voice and found Gwen. That’s good enough for me.