Short Stories 366:254 — “Fannin,” by Bryan Washington

coverIn Lot: Stories, there’s a narrator who shows in about half of the stories (a third?) and nudges the narrative a little further along each time. He has an older brother, an older sister, a mother and a father in the first tale—when his father leaves them—and as the stories progress, the sister meets someone and moves out (and emotionally and physically all but removes herself from the family thereafter), the brother is killed overseas after joining the military, his mother sells the restaurant the father left them with, and so on. I’m embarrassed to admit I was so used to this character popping up that I’m going to admit I didn’t realize this story was narrated by the sister for quite a while.

But there we go. We get a glimpse into Jan, and a brief interaction she has with her father at one point in the story before she has married, but after she’s already withdrawn from her family. I say her father, but there’s ambiguity in the moment, and Jan’s certainty reads almost willful, and I think it matters more than Jan is sure than whether or not the man was, truly, the absent father who left them in such a dire position in the first place.

This time with Jan isn’t long—two moments, really—but we see her with a friend (and potentially running into her father), and then we see her once she’s met her husband-to-be and visits her mother to let her know she’s getting married. Those two moments, one with each parent, bookend a character who comes off cold, aloof, and borderline cruel whenever her youngest brother is the narrator, and grants just enough space in her head for the reader to consider her in a different light. Embarrassment over not realizing who we were with at first aside, I really liked the opportunity to side-step here, to see this recurring family again, but though a different lens.

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