#ShortStoryMonth Day Seven — “A Fear of Flying” by J. Allen Scott


The Cheese Stands Alone

As a huge, huge fan of linked short fiction, it occurred to me that at least once this month I should look in the other direction. Today is that day.

There was an anthology I found through Bookcrossing called Red a few years ago, and it had a really curious (and interesting) premise: the editor, driving home, saw a red scarf hanging on a sign, and gave that image to the writers as a prompt. What resulted was Red, an anthology of stories with that simple premise, and I ended up quite enjoying the collection, and one story in particular.

“A Fear of Flying,” by J. Allen Scott joins two men on a plane flight while things are going very, very poorly on the flight. Like, it’s possible this flight is going down poorly. And the two men, who are very much in love, are having an odd argument: one of them is telling the other he should go. The other is refusing, there’s no way he could leave the first man behind.

But they’re in the plane? How does this even make sense?

Like most of my favourite stories, this one has that dash of something other at play, and the ultimate resolution of the story left me sniffling a bit, but loving the idea of the character and the world and, yet, satisfied at this one glimpse into it. It’s a story that begins and ends and is self-contained. I’d revisit it, of course (I always want to do that), but it struck me as a great example of a story I really enjoyed that stood by itself.

Other stand-alone stories I enjoyed? From This is How You Die, the second Machine of Death anthology, “”LAZARUS REACTOR FISSION SEQUENCE,” by Tom Francis (Supervillainy, the lair of a genius, and the admixture of a machine that is never wrong in predicting how you will die when offered a blood sample. So good.); also, David Puterbaugh’s “Save the Last Dance for Me,” from Best Gay Romance 2014 (but bring a tissue, because this romantic tale is also kind of sniffly).

What about you? What’s your favourite short story that is self-contained, satisfying, and set apart from the other fictions of that author?

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