>One Story‘s 101st issue is “Familial Kindness” by Kirsten Sundberg Lunstrum. It’s a traditional story with a familiar cadence, and it focuses on a very domestic scene. Alma is preparing for her daughter’s wedding when she is surprised by a visit from Charlie Dunne. Charlie is Alma’s sister’s husband and we eventually learn that Sara has died and that Charlie has come for Lovisa’s wedding. As the preparations continue–Charlie helps a great deal–we learn how lonely both Charlie and Alma are, how they have in common some resentment toward Sara, her irresponsibility and self-centeredness. And so the reader develops an expectation. Frustrating that expectation might have made this a more powerful story, but the ending we are given is also satisfying. The outcome is by no means certain but we have a sense of what may come in the future for these characters, and that’s not a bad thing.
Lunstrum is an accomplished writer and this is a very solid story. What appealed to me most about it were the perfect details: the sand that Alma sweeps from the house, the recollection of Charlie’s hair from his wedding to Sara, the sewing of Lovisa’s wedding dress. All these things are delivered in ways that not only let us see, but also show us character, particularly Alma’s. This one’s worth a read.