Short Story of the Day, Runaway by Alice Munro

“A story is not like a road to follow … it’s more like a house. You go inside and stay there for a while, wandering back and forth and settling where you like and discovering how the room and corridors relate to each other, how the world outside is altered by being viewed from these windows. And you, the visitor, the reader, are altered as well by being in this enclosed space, whether it is ample and easy or full of crooked turns, or sparsely or opulently furnished. You can go back again and again, and the house, the story, always contains more than you saw the last time. It also has a sturdy sense of itself of being built out of its own necessity, not just to shelter or beguile you.”
― Alice Munro, Selected Stories

Horse by Raymond Duchamp-Villon
Large Horse by Raymond Duchamp-Villon

From my blog (I called it an “Online Journal” then), The Daily Epiphany, Saturday, September 12, 1998this is the conclusion of the story of when one of our kids’ pet Fire Bellied Toads escaped and I bought a replacement without telling them

A runaway returns

I had a lot of trouble sleeping last night. Tossing and turning and turning and tossing, I ended up on the couch in the TV room. I kept hearing a noise from the window. A tapping, or maybe a melodious scraping sound coming from the window. My exhaustion muddled mind imagined all sorts of horrible possibilities for this sound; when I’d turn on the lights, there would be nothing there.

Finally I realized that what I was hearing was simply the sound of raindrops hitting the glass. It has been almost four months since it has rained at our house, I had forgotten the sound completely.

Today I was out of sorts, headachy and tired. We ran some errands in the morning (soccer games canceled because of muddy fields) and Candy dropped me off at home while she took the boys to a church carnival. I made an omelet and was sitting on the couch eating, watching “Planet of the Apes” and generally trying to imitate a vegetable when a movement in the kitchen caught my eye.

There he was, hopping across the tile floor, heading out of the kitchen, our missing toad. I guess he’s been hiding behind the cabinets or something; luckily I was there to see him make his run. He was hopping pretty well, seemed no worse for wear for his few days on the lam. I scooped him up before the Giant Killer Dog woke up and deposited him back into the aquarium.

We had to come clean with the kids, had to tell the truth about why there were now three fire bellied toads in there. They weren’t upset at our deception, only happy that we now have three toads.

They decided to call the new one “Runaway.”

And a Short Story for today:

You could argue about whether or not Alice Munro is the best short story author of all time… but there is no argument that there are none better. She did win the Nobel Prize for literature for her short stories – something very rare. This story, from the New Yorker’s 2003 fiction edition is a little longer than most of the fiction I link to here… but it is worth the time (as is anything Munro has written).

Runaway by Alice Munro

From The New Yorker

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