We recently published Leonora Desar’s stunning “Woods.”
Here, we ask her two questions about her story:
1) I love how this story parallels that experience some of us have had with pets: Our parents driving out to the middle of nowhere, dumping off an animal, saying “they’ll be better off here.” Was this parallel something you had in mind as you were writing this piece?
Yes, and thank you! It was a Sunday morning. Early. I wanted to watch cartoons but instead I was thinking about Depressing Things. One of these was a story a friend’s husband told me: his family used to “retire” his pets, not by taking them to the retirement home, but to the woods. This seemed like a raw deal—
1) no bingo
2) no mahjong
In seriousness, though, that story cuts me. He told me this over ten years ago and I still ruminate on it. I wanted to write about it but as I wrote it turned into humans, little boys. I like it when stories do that (sometimes), and often I hate it, I want the stories to obey and get in line.
In this case I hope it worked. I felt it getting away from me and instead of trying to reel it in I let it go, gave it my blessing.
2) The ending is so powerful, the mother saying all these wonderful things would happen in the woods, and none of it, of course, is true. Or is it?
Oh, can we pretend just a minute that it is? They’re all hanging out and posting stuff to Facebook, or maybe Insta. Maybe they’re all really into Twitter, the wolves and things—they even know how to thread.
I wanted to call this “Lies My Mother Told Us.” But it felt neat—too neat. I like trusting my reader. I like white space and silence and a little ambiguity. In the end, the reader knows.