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Short Stories 365/297 | N.S. Beranek

“Emily Theory” by Safwan Khatib from Diverse Voices Quarterly Volume 6, Issue 21.

Full disclosure: I have a story in this issue.

The narrator’s father works in the coal mines of Elkins, West Virginia. His mother is a housewife. He is a fifth-grader, and his sister Emily is a little older. She moves around their house without uttering a word, and he theorizes that she is actually the devil. He’s stunned to realize his best friend doesn’t share that opinion.

The end of the story is rather strange and I confess, I am not entirely sure what is supposed to be happening. It almost doesn’t matter, though. The language draws you in, the pacing is brisk, the voice strong. I’ve read it three times and all three times I was thoroughly engaged. I’m just not sure what is supposed to be going on with the dad, why the mom does what she does at the end, or what she may be about to do next.

The nifty thing is, it’s available to read for free here:

http://www.diversevoicesquarterly.com/emily-theory/

So, what do you think?

Interesting side note: I went looking for clues online and discovered that the author is very young, just seventeen! He’s had several stories and poems published, and has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize.