Shorts - Page 2

Songs for Night and Steps Through the Mist

Each woman encounters another individual — in four of the tales, a man — who triggers her insecurity about the future and taps into her obsession with how things ought to be.

Unlike the heroines of Heroes, who continually struggle with reutf8g to the wider world as it is, the often bewildered women in Zivkovic's harsh imaginings — whether gifted with the ability to visit the dreams of others, beset with ghostly visitations from the past, or cursed with the horrifying task of choosing one of all possible futures (none, alas, very appealing) — are engaged in a struggle with imagined, internal landscapes that have little to do with the reality of others.

"Would you consent to be the one to choose who should be sacrificed on the altar of the happy majority?" asks Katarina in "Hole in the Wall." Faced with the alternatives of her own death and choosing the future every time she closes her eyes, she is really questioning which is better: to withdraw from the world or to act in it, despite the possibility of less than ideal outcomes. This question echoes throughout the book, answered finally in the last and most beautiful story, where the older woman with the cherished alarm clock sees her past reenacted and is thereby cleansed of overwhelming memories. "Who knew what dreams might visit her?" Zivkovic writes, when "[no] urgent work awaited her anymore." (Ari Messer)