I keep taking breaks from His 2, and I don’t think I would have needed to had it not been our year of 2020, the perpetual trash-fire, but it is, and I have been. These short stories are firmly of the 90’s, with all the pain, grief, and sorrow thereof, and they are incredible and wonderful—I am truly loving this book—but they’re also often quite relentless. And relentless brings me to the next story in the collection I’m going to mention, which is G. Winston James’s “Storm.”
Fiction set up in a way that explores AIDS/HIV from the outside-looking-in is something I often struggle with, given how many voices from living-within were silenced, lost, and/or erased, but James pulls this pathetic fallacy trick with “Storm” and the result is so sharp it draws blood, frankly. We’re with a young man in a hurricane, in his home, and he, his mother, and his brother are ministering to his brother, who is delirious and in the end-stages of his illness. The storm was misreported/misrepresented as being less damaging than it turned out to be, and the healthy brother is watching as pieces of his house, as well as whole buildings he can see from his broken windows, are swept away and destroyed.
All the while, the brother is dying, the mother is grieving, and the brother is stuck somewhere between trying to make sure they survive and knowing the world around him is being irrevocably changed. The storm looms over everything, the personal grievances, the upcoming losses, resentments and love, and the young man knows this doesn’t end when it stops, but instead will create a new, forever damaged, kind of now. As metaphors go, it’s perhaps not subtle, but throughout the story, the keenly felt sense of survivor’s guilt/survivor’s resentment is perfection.