Short Stories 366:6 — “An Open Letter to the Family,” by Jennifer Brozek

coverEpistolary format is a hard format to pull off. Writing a fictional narrative through a letter puts an extra burden on character voice to do it all: world-build, provide the POV lens for the entire theme and plot, you name it. I have a love of epistolary format, so when I saw this story in Disabled People Destroy Science Fiction I grinned and buckled in.

The story in the letter is, on the surface, fairly straightforward: a woman with a disease that has left her in chronic pain in normal gravity has been living in a zero-g station, and while that alleviated the pain, it has left her legs—which didn’t function—all the further atrophied and brittle and in danger of causing worse harm should they be damaged. So she makes a choice.

That’s the power of the story, and it’s something I absolutely adored. The choice is made. this isn’t a letter asking for permission. This isn’t a letter asking for forgiveness. This letter is a declaration of a choice, and there is no option for debate. It is done and this missive is to the whole family at once to say so (and I loved in particular the mentions of particular family members and the “stop inviting me to visit when it is excruciating for me”). Every word in the letter has just the right intonation, and there are some sly asides that hint at the humour I’ve found so common among spoonies.

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