A new entry in my weekly Strange Horizons retrospective.
This week's Strange Horizons Flashback story:
- “Until Forgiveness Comes,” by K. Tempest Bradford
- Another unusual format: An NPR-like radio news report from a very alternate history, about the anniversary of a devastating train-station bombing. This is another one that makes me cry every time I read it. (Published in 2008.) (2,000 words.)
- “Marcus has only seen his father's face in pictures and on the anniversaries when Titus's ghost returns to relive those final moments.”
(See also the full list of Flashback stories.)
I love the unusual format of this story; I always thought it would make a great audio piece. And I love the sense of the deeply worked-out alternate history, especially in such a brief space. I especially love that even though it's very clearly a 9/11 story, it's not only a 9/11 story; the alternate history adds both distance and resonance, makes the story more universal while situating itself firmly in an alternate specificity.
And I love the heartbreaking fragments we see here of people's lives torn apart. The multiple viewpoints: some people wanting to put the past behind us, others saying we need to keep it present.
And most of all, I love that final paragraph, about Dierdre, the bomber's widow; the complex tangle of emotions, the compact melange of grief and the attempt to forgive.
I was going to end there, but having said that, I now want to add a particularly personal note: It was weeks ago that I scheduled my post about this story for this week; so it's entirely a coincidence that this turned out to be the week when I talked for the first time, by phone, with relatives of the woman who killed my father. In their pain and their puzzlement, I think I heard some echoes of the ending of Tempest's story. As noted above, I always cry when I read this story; but this time, it made me really sob. Cathartic, at a time when I think I needed that without realizing it. Thank you, Tempest.