Genre: Short Story
Approximate word count: 3,000 words
Availability Kindle: YES Nook: YES DTB: NO
Although Robyn Bradley knew she wanted to be a writer as far back as Mrs. Shea’s fourth grade class, she claims her writing skills were honed while working in radio. Her Masters of Fine Arts in creative writing might have also helped. When not writing fiction she runs her own copywriting business and obsessively dreams about George Clooney. For more visit the author's web site.
Convinced that her dead twin daughter, Charlotte, is reaching out from the great beyond, Anne will do anything to make her happy. But how far will she go? What is real and what isn’t?
There was a time I avoided reading short stories. Maybe it was because I read so fast it felt as if I was done almost before I started. It was at least partially because I didn’t feel a short story could be as engrossing as a novel. Recently I’ve changed my mind. A few very good short story collections have convinced me otherwise. Done right, with a very tight focus, a short story can serve up emotions that are more concentrated. I feel like an analogy belongs here, but all those I’m coming up with are drug references. I guess the high of a novel lasts longer, but isn’t as intense. This story is one of those done right.
Reviewing a short story without accidentally slipping in a spoiler is tough. You have a teaser in the description. The FYI section below talks a bit about Vanishing Twin Syndrome, which figures prominently in the story. All that’s left without re-telling the story or giving a spoiler is to describe how it made me feel.
As a man, I’m not sure I can truly imagine myself in the place of Anne, the mother and main character in A Touch of Charlotte. However, as a father and grandfather I can get part of the way there and that’s plenty close for me. Although never explicitly stated, Anne suffers from post partum depression. The story takes you on an emotional roller coaster as Anne cycles through emotional highs and lows, elation, terror, and disorientation, bringing you along for the ride. It’s a ride you’d never want to take in real life, but may well help better understand others who have.
The premise of this story revolves around Vanishing Twin Syndrome (VTS). It was something new to me and sent me off on a quest to find out more. What happens in VTS is during the early stages of a pregnancy multiple fetuses start to form. While still early in the pregnancy one of the fetuses “disappears” being absorbed into the other fetus, the placenta, or the mother.
Although first recognized in 1945 it has only been during the last twenty to thirty years as ultrasound use during pregnancy has become more common that medical practitioners have realized how frequent this happens. Studies have shown that in roughly one out of eight pregnancies where multiple fetuses were detected early in the pregnancy via ultrasound that VTS occurs. A few online sources if you’re interested in more are Wikipedia and the American Pregnancy Association.
Rating: ***** 5 Stars