by Birdie Etchison from the March 15, 2010 issue
Tagline: Dave was always there--until one day he wasn't. That's when Carrie realized what she might be missing.
In A Nutshell: Carrie is a truck stop waitress. Dave is a regular customer who is sweet on her. She's afraid to say yes to his repeated attempts to take her out on a date. Just when she thinks she might have been making a mistake, she sees him with a young girl and she assumes he's married. This seems to be confirmed when he introduces the girl as his daughter. Turns out he's divorced and just got custody. Carrie and Dave start dating and end up getting married.
1. This was a tightly written story with a casual voice that makes you feel as if the author was a girlfriend. One way Etchison does this are these little asides (in bold):
"I like waitressing. You meet nice people and--" I pause and smile. "I get good tips." Dave is my best tipper, and I think he knows it.
The next day, the door opens at 12--did I mention Dave always comes at noon?--and in comes Dave with Hannah.
Also, the last two paragraphs are in such a friend-to-friend tone. There's no flowery, over-reaching vocabulary or sentence structure.
As for me, I have a man who loves me, and who I'm happy to love right back. How neat is that?
Lastly, she uses first person, present tense, like she's really there with you talking face to face.
2. Once again, we have a misunderstanding where the protagonist thinks, "Oh, no, he's married!" But it's quickly resolved, of course. But this is a handy and common way to create a climactic high point. Strangely, in WW stories, this climax is often two thirds of the way through, a little earlier than in longer fiction. I haven't figured out why yet.
3. This is the second story in a row to feature an epilogue paragraph, a highly unusual occurence! Really! If you're a subscriber, you know I'm not just making this up.
This story could have ended here where Dave has just asked her to go with him and his daughter to the zoo:
I nod and Hannah smiles. "Sounds good to me."
But no, Etchison shows us how the story really ends, which I like. The author even brings back Carrie's friend, Molly, for a little cameo-type appearance.