“One Sun Only”
by Camille Bordas
from the March 7, 2022 issue of The New Yorker
Camille Bordas has been one of the more regular contributors to The New Yorker in the past five years. I’ve enjoyed her stories, and I’m always all the more impressed when I remember that she used to write in her native French before starting to write these in English. I’m not one of those who could tell these weren’t written by someone who knew English front to back. And she’s got a great way of controlling the tone of her pieces. This one starts with some awful things, but ultimately the tone is much more pleasant:
This is not a rewrite of that story in which plants and animals and people keep winding up dead over the course of a school year, but it starts the same, and it feels odd not to acknowledge, so I will. I just did. Things kept dying. My father first, in June, then the puppy my ex-wife had adopted to help the children get over their grandpa, and then the school janitor, Lane. Right after Halloween, Lane had died during lunchtime in the cafeteria, in front of the kids. Heart attack. A few weeks later, my son, Ernest, came home from school and told me that he hoped there was no afterlife.
“I hope there’s no afterlife,” he said. We were in the living room, looking through the window, waiting to see if the rain would turn to snow. “I hope he’s not watching over me.”
I asked who he meant. I thought maybe he was talking about my father, but perhaps it was Lane on his mind. I didn’t think it could be the dog.
That’s a great start! I am anxious to finish the story and to hear what you all think.