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Short Stories 365/362 | N.S. Beranek

“Wallflowers” by Jonathan Harper from Daydreamers (Lethe Press, 2015).

This volume will be released in March. I was given an advanced reader copy by the publisher.

Perhaps you saw this comment back in review number 136: “I found escape mid-way through my freshman year of high school when I fell in with (read: was saved by) a group made up of stoners, headbangers, and lesbians.”

Until then, I was a wallflower, just like the protagonist of this next story. He’s part of a group connected by their lack of identity. He says of them, “We were wallflowers. Scarred, ugly, odd and untalented, we rarely spoke, never participated. We were all acutely aware that while the adult world mostly ignored us, the young were in the habit of attacking their weak.”

Of course he’s wrong about the adult world. Adults attack each other all the damned time, don’t they? They just have different means.

I liked that, just as with the previous story, we have an unreliable narrator, and the piece is an examination of the lies we tell to one another and ourselves about who we are, as we struggle to figure it out. In this case those lies take on a life of their own.