We recently published Anna Pembroke’s devastating “Lovely Boys.”

Here, we ask her two questions about her story:

1) I love the narrator’s obsession with the neighbor children here — there’s something so sweet about it, yet simultaneously a bit terrifying. As we learn, the narrator has very good reason to focus on something outside of her own home life, but do you think she is romanticizing these boys and their circumstances as, perhaps, being better than they are?

At the point we encounter the narrator in the story, I think it’s fair to say her understanding of reality has morphed substantially. She has reached a stage where the actuality of their experience is inconsequential: her perception of their existence is devoid of any objective truth but is as real (to her) as the pink light of the sky. The narrator needs this utopic perception of the boys to anchor hope and innocence, however warped, into a life which has none.

2) There are so many implications with that ending! Did the narrator do something to cause this blackout, is she in danger, will those lovely boys be okay! Here’s the real question, though — do you think the narrator will be able to extract herself from this situation? Or is she trapped?

To my mind, the narrator is trapped regardless of whether or not she can remove herself
from the physical situation. The trauma of the abuse will leave a lasting impact on her
psyche, permanently shaping the way she interacts with the world. I can only hope that her passive acceptance eventually yields to something more retaliative, but, truthfully, I doubt it will.