This week I’m going to stay close to home, so to speak, and recommend Mike Bonnet’s short story “Olive and Jasmine” from Halfway Down the Stairs. In the spirit of transparency, my own short story “Route 22” is included in the 51st publication, with the theme of Upside Down, and of course I recommend all of the poems, fiction, and non-fiction contained in “Upside Down.”
Bonnet’s story concerns family and features excellent narrative voice. An elderly matriarch with her children and grandchildren is described as viewing the scene as follows, “Lil ensconced herself in the corner slurping too loudly on tea. She’d given up anything harder after Wilf’s liver had finally given out 4 years earlier. A perplexing array of toddlers scurried round her feet. Grandchildren tumbled over great nieces and nephews – Andrew’s progeny wrestled her sister Judith’s. Young Archie landed head first on the beloved matriarch’s handbag, Lil helped him off with a discreet prod of her foot.”
The story is focused on what we are, and are not willing to do in the spirit of family and togetherness.
It’s also a story of two sisters, “Olive and Jasmine” (the title characters).
The change in dynamics of the cold-war sister-rivalry is described as follows: “The speed of the overtaking left her dizzy and adjustment was made that much harder by the fact that she hadn’t slowed down herself. She was still eating Michelin-starred taster menus courtesy of clients, still chosen to work on the next big campaign, it’s just that people no longer seemed to care as much as they used to.”
The story then takes an unexpected turn (which I won’t give away) involving an internet troll.
Bonnet writes lightly and with a clear voice and sense of humor throughout the short story.
I highly recommend that you give Olive and Jasmine a read.