On a Cold Winter’s Night: (Holiday Spectacular Story #20)

As noted here, I’m commenting daily on the WMG Holiday Spectacular—which is a great project that releases a story every day. These might be reviews. Or not. They might be interesting. Or … um … not. They will be fun, though. For me, at least.

Here’s the next story.


“On a Cold Winter’s Night”
Cate Martin

I went to the grocery store earlier today, with the idea that I would use the drive time and any other quiet moments to plot a story I intend to write soon. It turns out, however, that there was a problem with this idea. I had read “On a Cold Winter’s Night” just before I left the house. So, instead of thinking about my own work, my thoughts kept returning to this story.

It’s really well done. It’s compelling in a harsh kind of way. But that alone, however, would not have caused me to lose concentration. No, the mere fact that this is a really good story—all buy itself—would not have put me off my game like that.

I kept thinking about the characters, though. The father. The mother. Our main protagonist, Will. Each of his three sisters.

There is a lot going on here.

I am willing to bet that I could use this story as the foundation to write several thousand words over themes these characters are playing through: what it means to be loved or simply to love, whether love should be unconditional—even if it should be, what does that look like? I’m also thinking about what it means to be an adult, or what it means to be a spouse or a parent. If you truly love someone can you see certain truths, or not? If not, is that a bad thing?

If you’ve been around here for long, you may know that I have a few short stories that I go back to every now and then. This may well turn out to be one of them. I know that I’m going to read it again sometime, though. I’m wondering whether follow-on readings will give me the same feelings I have right now–whether I’ll be as enthralled by the relationship I’m dwelling in, which in this case is the relationship between the boy and his father, or whether being in a different place of my own life will result in reading a different slant more strongly.

I say that because I don’t think there are any throwaway characters in this work.

As I drove to the grocery store, turning it over in my mind, I realized that every character has a point of view here, and every character has something to say about all of those questions that I was asking up earlier in this conversation.

“On a Cold Winter’s Night” is chilling to the bone, and as such there is no dross to be found in either its prose or its structure.

Highly recommended.

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