While reviewing and accepting work for Levitate, I try to be as honest and firm as possible with my decisions, and this story in particular had my best review. “The One who Finally Arrived” is a short story written by Doug Smith, who is a teacher and author, about one of his patient stories from the time he was hospital worker. The story follows a sweet old woman by the name of Marjorie, who is on her deathbed, and her sister, named Virginia. Marjorie only has a few days left to live, and hopes every day that her sons will come visit her. Virginia stays by her side as much as she can, and comforts Marjorie, talking to her and tending to her every day.
Marjorie reminisces about her past, and all of her life experiences. Her sons, John, Joseph, Jacob, and Joshua have all separated, and they very rarely visit Marjorie. One of Marjorie’s sons, Jonah, had passed away in recent years. As the story progresses, Marjorie’s health worsens, and her voice withers away. But she manages to whisper to Virginia that she can see her son Jonah. The next day, when Virginia is away, she returns to discover that Marjorie has passed, and instead of mourning, Virginia smiles, knowing that Marjorie had her wish granted, and has been reunited with her son Jonah.
This story was absolutely beautiful. It’s written in 3rd person omniscient view, and it works really well for getting as much information as possible in a smoothly executed way. You are able to understand how both Marjorie and Virginia are feeling. The situation and dialogue feels so real, and you feel like you’re living through it yourself. Though it’s such a short story, you feel like you get to know the characters so well with a limited amount of words and information. Even though the subject is sad, the ending is bittersweet, and while it might bring a tear to your eye, it warms your heart at the same time, and I find that very admirable, as something so bittersweet as this is very hard to put into words and write it effectively.
Death is something that nobody truly understands, and likely will never understand, as it’s interpreted differently by everyone, and you can never know what happens afterwards until you die yourself. It’s difficult to cope with, as the unknown is horrifying to ponder, but this also leads to stories like this emerging, with a positive lens on the subject, giving hope to those who are scared of death. Dealing with the fear of death isn’t easy, because it is something truly unavoidable, so it’s important to cope with it in ways that help you come to terms with it and view it positively or comfortably for yourself. This story does a great job of putting us in Virginia’s perspective, and smiling with her as she imagines Margerie and Jonah reunited together. It’s a sad thing that Margerie passed, but a good thing that she’s in a better place with her beloved son.
Spookie Zigler, contributing Fiction editor and Art editor
Read this piece in Issue 7 of Levitate Magazine!