Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Short Story: Gargoyle by Joyce Carol Oates

Gargoyle by Joyce Carol Oates is one of the the Stories of the Week 2008 in Narrative Magazine.

What to make of loneliness. Can you imagine? Three-fifteen a.m. and you lie spread-eagled in bed in your cocoon of a bed in your ripe swollen cocoon of a body while I drive through the snowy drizzle querying myself about life.

Driving along a deserted boulevard. Yellow street lights high atop slender poles. Rain, snow. Mist. Wind. What to make of loneliness. Not anger, not rage, not the wish to die or even the wish to murder. I’m too exhausted for all that. Just loneliness. What to make of it. Aloneness. Can you hear me? Can you guess? Never. You are eight months pregnant now and lie sleepless beside my lover, your spine aching, your stomach bloated, you are a beached bewildered mammalian creature gasping in the air.

Here we are privy to the thoughts of a mistress, who speaks of her loneliness to the wife of her lover. No, not verbally but in her thoughts. As if she almost wills her to listen. She talks of the wife never being alone, what with three children and fourth on the way. Meanwhile, the wife also is awake, silently lying beside her husband so as not to disturb him. She gets up and roams silently throughout the house finally coming to stand near a window. Does she think of the mistress? Does she resent her husband? The mistress' tone is despising towards the wife. She amosts hates her. So does the wife although it is not said in here.

Gargoyle asks a very important question. The mistress speaks of her loneliness. What about the wife? She might not verbalize it but her movements imply it. In the darkness of the night, she is as lonely as the mistress even more so despite having a husband and three children. Both are united in their aloneness. Loneliness. It is so tangible here.

I make my way cautiously to your front door and put out my hand, as if to ring the doorbell. But I don’t ring the bell: I merely press my fingertips against the window.

And you, inside, in the warm slumbrous depths of the house, hesitate only a moment before putting out your hand as well, so that our fingertips meet—nearly meet—through the glass.

I had not read anything by Joyce Carol Oates till date. After reading this short story, I am going to check out more of her works.