My name is Peter and I am Rebecca's husband, she suggested I post this here.
This is a story I wrote a while back and recently received the rejection email - I have a collection of them. I like submitting to this particular magazine because it gets passed around judges/critics, especially if one judge likes some of it but not all of it. This means you tend to get back a lot of suggestions and comments even if you don't make it in, which is helpful.
My favorite comment from the judges about the following story was this one:
"While I enjoy the abstract nature of the story, it's too abstract to leave the reader feeling satisfyingly confused."
Anyway it's not perfect as all the comments I got back from the reviewers pointed out, but something I found interesting is the amount of trouble they had identifying who (or what!) had died, a few cottoned on to the fact that it was a child and thought it may have been a still birth, only one of them thought it was - at least for me, the author - about a baby, not a toddler, a child or a miscarriage.
I don't know if the confusion is because of the way I wrote it - obscure, partly because it was difficult to write and I had a hard time making myself be direct - or because of some blind spot people may have for SIDs.
I know a lot of people who read Rebecca's blog have suffered a SIDs loss and I guess you guys might be better judges. I hope it at least helps to let someone know they are not the only one to feel the strange mix of emotions that comes along with hearing platitudes, something I know Rebecca has written about before as well.
I guess the idea behind it is, what it would mean to try and "get better" on the basis of platitudes...
Anyway, here is a story about SIDs - slightly edited because of a typo and some syntax/meaning issues the judges had.
By Peter Howard
Word count: 356 including title
“At least he didn’t suffer.” She washes the blood off the mattress cover.
“He’s in a better place.” She stands in his room, thinking of each small thing, and screams.
“You’re still young….” The bus driver watches her in his mirror on her way home from the support group and she smiles, it seems to disturb him. She tries the smile out in the reflection in the window. A middle aged woman with deep set rings around her too wide eyes stares back.
“He’s an angel now.” She kneels in front of the altar and talks in an old gray building, whispering alone in the dark.
“Time heals all wounds.” Her legs give out from under her as she shuts the front door. Her head hits something hard and everything goes away for a while.
“It was for the best.” The counselor looks at her oddly when she explains how relieved she is and she feels shame.
“You’ll get past this.” She burns his pictures, his clothes. The fire spreads into the dry garden and firemen put it out. When they find her she is practicing her smile in the bathroom mirror.
“You need to move on with your life.” She talks of progress in group. When she goes dancing people won’t stand close to her.
“God has a plan.” When she loses her job she reminds herself not to worry about the future and when they ask her to volunteer she readily goes to the institution and lets them close the door, for observation they say.
“You can always have another.” In the dark the bus driver grunts and squirms. She bites into her hand to keep the memory of his only laugh away from this moment.
“I know how you feel, my dog….” The vet talks but she keeps trying to hand the funeral flowers out in the waiting room. She tries to explain as they put her in the cell.
“He is waiting for you.” When the light goes out, she claws at her wrist.