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“The String” and “Memory Dog” available as ebooks

I’m working on getting some of my forty-so short stories available in electronic format, and these are the first two.

“The String” was a Nebula Award finalist.  When I was writing a lot of short fiction, I thought of a short story as a stool needing three legs.  At least, that’s how many distinct elements I needed for a story to have what a photographer might call “depth of field.”

Two of the legs, in this story, are the possibility of a cure for cystic fibrosis, and a puzzle that my father worked on for several years.  My sister and her boyfriend flew a kite, which got caught in a tree.  In the process, the string became horribly snarled, and the pull of the kite tightened those snarled into something that looked like a massive, complex knot made of yards of string.

My father, who delighted in puzzles–he always had a huge jigsaw puzzle in progess on a large marble table in our living room (he was the customer for op-art and entirely white puzzles that were 2′ x 3′), and crosswords are his particular delight–seized on this mass of string as the perfect puzzle, because there were no knots in it.  The ends had never crossed, one being held by my sister, and one being attached to the kite.  He tied the ends to large nails, as markers, and proceeded to try to untangle the string, patiently loosening one snarl after another, looking forward to the day when it would suddenly be just a very long piece of string again.  But he left it in a hotel room, and a maid threw it away.  He was extremely disappointed.

I dedicated “The String” to Wanda Collins Plymale, whom I met the first evening at Virginia Tech, in 1970, in the dorm.  We became close friends, and remained so until her death, at age fifty, from cystic fibrosis.

When I met her, she had not been diagnosed.  She was strikingly beautiful, with green eyes and what I might call merled hair.  It contained blonde, brown, white, and gray strands, but overall it looked blonde and was two feet long.  When she was twenty-five, and a teacher, she was diagnosed.  She spent her life in service to others when she could no longer work, volunteering for various causes.  She was alive when I wrote this story.  I miss her tremendously.

The third leg of the string is, of course, the complexity  of family dynamics.

I’ll do “Memory Dog” in a separate post.

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