He got up and sat on the edge of the bedstead with his back to the window. “It’s better not to sleep at all,” he decided. There was a cold damp draught from the window, however; without getting up he drew the blanket over him and wrapped himself in it. He was not thinking of anything and did not want to think. But one image rose after another, incoherent scraps of thought without beginning or end passed through his mind. He sank into drowsiness. Perhaps the cold, or the dampness, or the dark, or the wind that howled under the window and tossed the trees roused a sort of persistent craving for the fantastic. He kept dwelling on images of flowers, he fancied a charming flower garden, a bright, warm, almost hot day, a holiday—Trinity day. A fine, sumptuous country cottage in the English taste overgrown with fragrant flowers, with flower beds going round the house; the porch, wreathed in climbers, was surrounded with beds of roses. A light, cool staircase, carpeted with rich rugs, was decorated with rare plants in china pots. He noticed particularly in the windows nosegays of tender, white, heavily fragrant narcissus bending over their bright, green, thick long stalks. He was reluctant to move away from them, but he went up the stairs and came into a large, high drawing-room and again everywhere—at the windows, the doors on to the balcony, and on the balcony itself—were flowers. The floors were strewn with freshly-cut fragrant hay, the windows were open, a fresh, cool, light air came into the room. The birds were chirruping under the window, and in the middle of the room, on a table covered with a white satin shroud, stood a coffin. The coffin was covered with white silk and edged with a thick white frill; wreaths of flowers surrounded it on all sides. Among the flowers lay a girl in a white muslin dress, with her arms crossed and pressed on her bosom, as though carved out of marble. But her loose fair hair was wet; there was a wreath of roses on her head. The stern and already rigid profile of her face looked as though chiselled of marble too, and the smile on her pale lips was full of an immense unchildish misery and sorrowful appeal. Svidrigaïlov knew that girl; there was no holy image, no burning candle beside the coffin; no sound of prayers: the girl had drowned herself. She was only fourteen, but her heart was broken. And she had destroyed herself, crushed by an insult that had appalled and amazed that childish soul, had smirched that angel purity with unmerited disgrace and torn from her a last scream of despair, unheeded and brutally disregarded, on a dark night in the cold and wet while the wind howled

Category: short story

  • 30 Small But Awesome Online Literary Magazines image of tag icon

    Evaluating online literary magazines can be tough. According to Duotrope, there are thousands out there and more popping up every day. It’s just not that difficult to throw up a website and start publishing friends. But the online literary journals below raise the bar far higher. They have made publishing online not just a vehicle for […]

    June 17, 2016

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  • “Uneven” Short Story Collections image of tag icon

    One of the most common critiques I hear for short story collections is that they’re “uneven.” I don’t hear it very often for novels, and only occasionally as a critique of an author’s oeuvre. A few brief samples: Publisher’s Weekly called David Foster Wallace’s “Brief Interviews with Hideous Men” uneven. Seattle Times called Evan S. […]

    May 2, 2010

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  • John Grisham’s Ford County image of tag icon

    On November 3rd, John Grisham is dipping into the short story realm with his first collection, “Ford County,” which has a manly ring to it (it’s where his first novel, A Time to Kill, takes place). Nice to have the commercial boys dip into a realm normally owned by the literary folk. I predict sales […]

    October 20, 2009

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  • Fiction Bonanza image of tag icon

    There's a flurry of new short stories being released over at Five Chapters these next fifteen days. Instead of serializing a story over five days, there's a new short story each day, including some from collections I've been reading lately — Jennine Capo Crucet, who won the Iowa Short Fiction award this year, and Lori […]

    August 24, 2009

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  • Short Stories as Moles; or, the Literary Journal Scene in Germany image of tag icon

    Thanks to Absinthe Minded (great name, by the way), for referring me to this article in the Goethe Institut about the literary journal/short story scene in Germany. Love the opening: “Like moles, literary magazines burrow through the subsoil and often bring literary treasures to light. They live on self-exploitation, are sometimes short-lived and bizarre, and […]

    August 9, 2009

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  • 10 Greatest Short Story Writers? image of tag icon

    Over at Listverse, they do a great job of amassing a huge number of Top 10 Lists, but the ten greatest short story writers is wack. Okay, they have some shoo-ins (oh, and they limit it to American short story writers). O’Henry? I’ll grant that. Poe? Sure. Then debatables. Asimov? Well, he’s a talented writer, […]

    August 5, 2009

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  • Guardian Summer Short Stories image of tag icon

    The Guardian has released their summer short story bonanza, which includes some as short as a thousand words. Dave Eggers offers “A Fork Brought Along,” which has the amazing distinction of being the funniest story I’ve ever read about a fork. AM Holmes contributes “All Is Good Except The Rain” which has so much dialogue […]

    August 2, 2009

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  • Short Story Censorship image of tag icon

    In a high school English class unit called Love/Gender/Family Unit, Kathleen Reilly taught short stories by David Sedaris, Laura Lippman, Stephen King and Ernest Hemingway. But not anymore. She recently resigned, after parents demanded she remove the stories from the curriculum. Parent Sue Ann Johnson was one of the more vocal objectors to the stories, […]

    July 1, 2009

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  • Frank O’Connor Short Story Prize image of tag icon

    The shortlist for the Frank O’Connor International Short Story prize is out, and they did much better at creating a shortlist than last year, when the Jhumpa Lahiri coup took down the prize. An Elegy for Easterly by Petina Gappah (Zimbabwe) Singularity by Charlotte Grimshaw (New Zealand) Ripples and other Stories by Shih-Li Kow (Malaysia) […]

    June 29, 2009

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  • Review: “Fugue State” Brian Evenson image of tag icon

    The stories in “Fugue State” will haunt you. Brian Evenson has a remarkable ability to come up with creepy tales that won’t be extracted from your head. For example, take “Invisible Box.” Imagine a girl sleeping with a mime, a mime that’s still dressed up with the gloves and the face paint. During the completely […]

    June 29, 2009

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