We recently published Rachael Smart’s powerful “Ways with Water.”
Here, we ask her two questions about her story:
1) The specificity of the imagery in this story is so stunning and rich — I love lines like “Back home his kisses taste of rust and hurry, of pâté before you knew it, tequilas with a twist of salt.” And yet this story is so small to be so rich with detail! Did you have to pare it back any, or did it exist in this format from the beginning?
Giving language to loss is rarely achieved in brevity. For one reason or another, this became a preoccupation for me a few years ago. This tiny story is far bigger than its triptych suggests. I think it was always like this – rich (ish). Word dense. Think mint choc ice cream for breakfast. I deleted ‘riding shot gun’ in the opening paragraph early on but felt adamant that llama print knickers was essential. The cloth a womb pleats itself out on is a sacred thing.
2) There is such a deep and painful loss here, and that haunting last line is just so heartbreaking. Do you think there is any hope that the narrator’s pain will ease with time, or is she trapped, sea-gazing, forever?
People always take their pain to water, don’t they? A body of water is a holding space, a perspective point. She will always look out to sea, I think, trying to catch a glimpse of what-not-was but gazing is always interrupted by a sequence of blinks. It is a grace that the eyes offer reprieve. I believe the hurt some women hold needs a language of its own. She’ll look on other beautiful things again, I’m sure of it.