Finally getting back into the Stories of the Week with this wonderful little story by David Ryan. “State Forests” was published by Booth, the graduate literary magazine of Butler University.
The basic summary of the story is this: a man encounters another standing on a bridge waiting to jump. They both jump, but the man contemplates his existence on the way down:
For how long we fell I don’t know. I put on weight and my hair thinned and grayed. We lost interest in each other’s conversation. We flew into little silent rages and moments of extraordinary gratefulness. It was hard to talk over the roar of the approaching water but, you know, you get used to shouting. You forget the water. You just keep falling and falling. I woke a thousand times. I dreamed about driving for miles and miles, looking for state forests, places to stop. Places with names: Loyalsock, Susquehannock, Hogsback. Would the river smash us like stone? Would our hearts explode instead, before we hit the surface?
Can you feel that? That’s me crying silently on the other side of your computer monitor. This story is about life, friendship, relationships — all encapsulated in one short blip. David Ryan has been published all over the place — including in Tin House — and with this story, I see why. His grasp of emotion and word usage is powerful and effective.
Check it out — you’ll be glad you did.