We recently published Lyndsie Manusos’s enigmatic “The Following.”
Here, we ask her two questions about her story:
1) “Because maybe the darkness could give back after taking.” This is such a great story, I love it, but that line is so powerful and hopeful — it is my favorite moment in a story full of amazing moments. So. If you could get something back from the darkness (any kind of darkness), what would it be?
I wrote this piece right around when my second daughter was born. Darkness was familiar during those long witching hours, those sleepless nights (still a few sleepless nights lately). If you asked me after such a night, I would ask for the darkness to give me back a sense of being well-rested and awake. Energy! Long-lasting and without the crash of coffee.
In terms of items, something that I might find on the lip of a mysterious hole, I think it’d be the first journal I ever wrote in. My parents bought it for me when I was very young. I wrote my first stories in there, one about a whale, another about a sloth. I read each story aloud to anyone who’d listen. And I honestly don’t recall what happened to it. So if the darkness gave it back to me, it’d be a confirmation of sorts, like writing came full circle. Who doesn’t want affirmation for their passions?
2) I love how the narrator in this story gives us the facts, the realistic details, but still thinks things like maybe their grandparents are on Saturn. That combination of acceptance and hope is such a powerful one — do you think people like the narrator will be better able to deal with what is happening in this world than someone who leans more to either side?
I sure hope so, because I cope with the unknown and any kind of grief in a similar way to the narrator. Meshing logic with a bit of the fantastical, or at least the possibility of the fantastical. That’s why I love speculative fiction so much, with writers like Amber Sparks, Helen Oyeyemi, Karen Russell, Ted Chiang etc. I love the breadth that genres like science fiction, fantasy, and horror provide to navigate emotions, such as immense loss. Especially now, with *waves hand at the world,* genre provides both a lens and a cushion to explore these types of events that a year or two ago would seem absolutely inexplicable or otherworldly.