“Come Go With Me” by Nora Bonner – Story #9 of Deal Me “IN” 2016

The Card: ♥10♥ The Ten of Hearts

The Selection: “Come Go With Me” – from the Indiana Review magazine – which is (from the magazine’s website) “now in its thirty-eighth year of publication, Indiana Review is a non-profit literary magazine dedicated to showcasing the talents of emerging and established writers. Our mission is to offer the highest quality writing within a wide aesthetic.” This story appeared in the Summer 2015 issue.

The Author: Nora Bonner. See her online at norabonner.com, where the picture above is also from. 🙂

The Suit: ♥♥♥ Hearts are my suit featuring selections from Indiana magazines, or Midwestern magazines featuring Indiana authors.

img_6202What is Deal Me “IN” 2016?  For an explanation of the Deal Me In challenge, see the sign up post. For a look at my deck of cards/story roster see here. Since 2016 is my home state’s bicentennial, in this year’s edition of my annual Deal Me In challenge, I’m reading only stories that have an Indiana “connection”of some kind.  Deal Me “IN” 2016 is also now officially endorsed as a Legacy Project by the Indiana Bicentennial Commission!

Come Go With Me

I selected this story from the magazine as it was identified in the table of contents as a finalist for Indiana Review’s annual fiction prize. (The winner gets $1,000 – not bad for a short story, eh?) It was a very interesting story. I particularly liked our narrator, Emily, a young girl describing her immediate family’s efforts to “rehabilitate” her juvenile delinquent-ish male cousin (Brian) who is a few years older than she. Making the relationship even tighter is that Emily and Brian’s parents are brothers and sisters – I mean two brothers married two sisters. Not common but not unheard of either.
Emily’s father is a man of faith and feels that’s what Brian needs more of as well. As he tells Emily, regarding her cousin’s upbringing compared to her own:

“We chose to let God choose. Uncle Gary (Brian’s dad) was an example of what happens When we don’t leave it up to God. God wouldn’t choose for Uncle Gary to leave his family. God wouldn’t choose for Aunt Sally to stay in bed all day while her son ran around without her supervision, God wouldn’t choose friends for Brian who talked him into robbing a gas station and wouldn’t tell him to cut a man with the razor blade he’d hid between his fingers.”

Part of the “treatment” for Brian involves a family trip up to Huron National Forest. As seems to be true for many people who think they have “all the answers” to complex human problems, Emily’s dad soon learns turning Brian around will not be an easy – and perhaps even an impossible – task. Part of the backdrop for their time is that the lake shores are experiencing a swarm of toads. So many that they’re always underfoot and even make the sides of the road appear to move. This phenomenon added a surreal and even biblical plague-ish feel to the story.

I was rooting for Brian, and enjoyed hearing this story from Emily’s perspective. She was also rooting for him, though she seemed to realize better than her dad that he may already have reached critical mass on the way to living the wrong kind of life. I also liked how frankly Brian challenged her father’s beliefs, and her father’s answer:

“I keep thinking that you’re going into the woods to bring us back something to eat,” Brian said. “Bear meat. Coyote.” I made a face. “What do you go out there for,” he asked, “bird watching?”

“I talk to God,” my father said.

“And God talks back.” Brian chuckled.

“Sometimes,” my father said.

Brian threw his bowl into the fire. “What does God sound like.” The plastic bubbled; flames devours the cardboard.

“He speaks in my thoughts.” 

“How do you know you’re not just thinking what you want God to say?”

My father waited a long time before he answered. “He almost never says what I want Him to say.”

A fine story, and the events it chronicles rang quite true to this reader.

(Playing card image above found at http://playingcardcollector.net/2013/04/20/lo-scarabeo-the-fairy-people-playing-cards/
Toad picture from http://www.nicolanaturalists.ca/2012/08/29/another-successful-season-of-amphibian-monitoring-summer-2012/)

Personal notes:

I have a memory from childhood of experiencing not a swarm of toads, but certainly a large number of them. We had gone to some sort of picnic for my dad’s office near a lake and they seemed to be everywhere. This was new to me and my brothers, who had suddenly seen in a few minutes more toads than we’d seen in our entire lives. I remember our pleading with our parents to take some home as “pets” and, though not thrilled with the idea, they eventually relented. The toads didn’t survive long, as I recall…

The tens in my Indiana deck of cards feature a picture of the Indiana War Memorial in downtown Indianapolis. Up until 2007 I’d spent almost all of my working life at jobs in the downtown area, and would frequently walk at lunchtime. The War Memorial was one favorite terminus of my walks and I would often bring a “brown bag” lunch and, after climbing all those steps, enjoy the view (great from up there!) while I ate. Even if I walked “just for the exercise” at lunch, I would often include a couple up and downs of the monument steps on my route. It was great for that as well. More information about the Indiana War Memorial may be found at http://www.in.gov/iwm/2333.htm

Next up in Deal Me “IN” 2016: “What Happens in Hell Stays in Hell” by Clint Smith