Short Stories 366:117 — “Lone Women,” by Victor LaValle

coverOne of the more contemporary of the stories in Long Hidden: Speculative Fiction from the Margins of History, “Lone Women” brings us to 1914 Montana, and a lone woman homesteader, and a trek that’s somewhat miserable on the back of a wagon.

We meet Adelaide Henry on this trek, and though she is heading to her new homestead alone after the loss of her parents, there is a widow traveling with her with four blind sons as well, and there is a sense that Adelaide is afraid in a general sense and a specific one: she’s trying to outrun something, perhaps? Their group stops for the night, and she feels quite vulnerable unless she is near her three-locked steamer trunk—and at this, it becomes clear that Adelaide has definitely brought something with her to try and start her new life.

The unfolding story is one of betrayals both minor and major, of the harshness of trying to start over, and doing so completely unprepared in both skill set and finance, but also of others reaching out and offering support and aid. But it’s also about the secret in the trunk, and how things we’ve long considered evil and wrong might indeed be something else in the right place, at the right time, with the right circumstances.

There was more than a helping of sadness and repression and failed potential in Adelaide’s story (as well as the story of the trunk) thus far, and it was nice to see at least the hope of an uptick at the end.

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