I wish I could say, "I wanted to write a story about..." But I seldom think that way. I usually find myself writing something and maybe eventually along the way thinking something like: "Hm, I seem to be writing a story about..." And then after a while, maybe I start to wonder if anyone might be interested in reading this story about... And then, if I think some poor bastard somewhere might be hard enough up to be interested in reading this story about something, I start thinking maybe I should finish this story about something.
Along the way I realized "Convergence" seemed somewhat different from many of my stories. A lot of my stories have more of a comic edge to them, and this one seems quiet, flatter in tone. I realized I was thinking about the people who have lost their spouses, maybe because of an illness like cancer. I thought that if that happened to me, I would probably go quiet, cut myself off. The protagonist in this story puts all his concern into raising his middle-school son, but cuts himself off from everything he enjoys because things are no fun without his wife. He used to be an amateur boxer, but it's no fun since he can't come home and have his wife treat his wounds and kindly scold him for being an idiot. When he suspects his son is being bullied in middle school, he wants to protect him by working on his boxing, which reminds him of lessons his own father tried to teach him, probably futilely.
The narrator's voice isn't lowbrow, but it's not artistic either. He's a salesman, a decent, nice guy in a little over his head, full of grief but not knowing how to talk about it. His son's troubles lead the man to meet the school nurse and for the first time in a long time, he feels an attraction, he feels an interest. We don't know where it will lead. In the last line of the story the man lifts his hands and says, “Who knows?”
Robert Mcbrearty's stories have been widely published in such places as the Pushcart Prize, Narrative, Missouri Review, and previously in NAR. His most recent collection of stories is Let the Birds Drink in Peace. His story, "Convergence," appears in issue 291.6; his other works in NAR are "Dinsmore's Paradise" (289.2), "Episode" (291.6), and "The Helmeted Man" (294.3/4).
Photo by Gustavo Carrancio