I’ve known Jeffrey Ricker for mumble-mumble years now, and I’ve always loved his way with a turn of phrase. (I almost wrote “envied” there, and I do, but I’m trying to cut down on sounding bitter as much as possible, so I won’t mention how often I’m super freaking jealous of his turns of phrases).
Ahem. Where was I? Ah! “Charlotte’s Mother.” That link will take you directly to the story. This wonderful short fiction piece penned by Jeffrey Ricker was the runner-up in the Saturday Evening Post Great American Fiction Contest and also appears in an anthology, which is available for order here.
In short fiction (well, in all his fiction, but again, bitter) Ricker excels at character. A touch of description here, a line of dialog there, and boom, I see a character fully formed in my mind. He does that here with Charlotte (and Charlotte’s mother) with deft little traces: Chanel No 5; in keeping cigarettes in the glove-box five years after quitting; a hat never questioned; the unreliability of wind chime memories.
The narrative: daughter-and-mother, mother recently having up and left her care home somehow, daughter dealing with the reality of her mother not knowing her, touches and burns just a little bit. I know so many people dealing with the reality of this, and “Charlotte’s Mother” represents it so apparently effortlessly.