We recently published Kathryn Milam’s gorgeous “Change Is Coming.”
Here, we ask her two questions about her story:
1) There are only three lines of dialogue in this story: two places and “soon.” I love how much is implied in these tiny phrases! The narrator replies wordlessly — were you ever tempted to let them speak?
This story started with my musings about passion and how it can consume one’s life. Artists, writers, musicians, athletes even, all become absorbed in their work and often neglect the rest of their lives in the process. Relationships can suffer particularly. I do a lot of intricate crochet, and sometimes I look up while working on an especially lovely project, and it’s been hours since I interacted with anyone.
The subject was way too big for a story, so I turned to passion between people. I wanted to depict how the sensuous aspects of our obsessions can lure us away from the reality of the daily. The dreamy quality of the dialogue coupled with the physical details of the dinner tempts the narrator to abandon her family and her responsibilities. She follows that temptation without a word, mesmerized by it all, much as the beauty of language draws me to the page and makes me forget I’m supposed to make dinner and or have a conversation with my husband.
So, no. She couldn’t speak. The narrator is the silent partner in this scenario, weighing her options as she imagines what her world might be.
2) There is so much rich detail in the scene between the painter and the narrator: the description of her art, the music, the food … and then we end with this quiet image of the husband waiting at home, listening for the children. The contrast here really speaks to the narrator’s mindset! What do you think is waiting for them at home?
The real world waits for them. We can immerse ourselves in voluptuous beauty, indulge our fantasies, but in the end, the life we’ve chosen won’t go away. Will the narrator explode her family to follow this dream? Is the family, and all that entails, an anchor that prevents her from living a fully creative life as obviously she is tempted to believe? Or are her husband and children a mainstay that allows her to explore without drifting away into a seductive netherworld with its own messiness and madness? Even the artist’s life is untidy, with her hands all smudged with paint, as she freely admits. Change is coming, for sure, but what will that change mean? I’m still thinking on that.