We recently published Ashley Hutson’s sharp “How to Become Fictional.”
Here, we ask her two questions about her story:
1) This story starts with such a simple thing, a gurgling drain, and ends with the reader doubting the reality this woman’s husband has created for her. I love that you just went all out with that ending — did you ever consider stopping sooner? Or did this story always need to go to this extreme?
Oh, it needed to go that far. No other ending was possible. This piece speaks to the escalating absurdity of marriage when the bullshit is neck deep and no one has a shovel. I gotta say, the whole thing gives me a chuckle. It’s so bitter. I love it.
2) There is so much going on with the relationship here. On the one hand, we have a husband who refuses to accept his wife’s truth (that the drain is gurgling). On the other, we have a wife wanting to believe she lives in a palace “filled with sunlight and love and clean corners.” Could this pair ever come together in a way where they have both the gurgling drain and the sunlight and love? Or is the wife always doomed to end up senseless, on the moon?
The sunlight and love part isn’t her wish, though, it’s the lie the husband tells her to shut her up. He needs to exile her from reality so he can avoid anything that requires his effort or his concession that things aren’t peachy keen. And she knows it’s a lie, and he knows she knows it’s a lie, but he’s committed to the lie because it works. It’s attrition warfare. Consider the movie cliché where the newly dead scream at the living to try and get their attention, and when no one sees them, no one hears them, or when they are met with dismissal, with disbelief, the ghosts finally realize their predicament. Not being seen or heard or acknowledged is tantamount to not existing.
As long as she’s with him, she’s doomed. It’s the moon for her.