2014 – January 8 – Isa

Man with snow shovel in city

Oh, snowy day.

What does January 8 bring us? Why, “Isa” by Rachel Ambrose, of course.


Isa, my roommate, is a great snack buyer, so I almost never go hungry even though I hate the grocery store. Maybe if my apartment wasn’t so comfortable, I would feel the need to leave it unprompted once in a while. But that day is not today.

What a great opening for a character study, which this chapter mostly is.  The unnamed protagonist is a twenty-six-year-old part time hermit who would “like to burrow into my little yellow pool of shag rug, and stay there…” All this responsibility stuff is more than she wants to deal with. Give her a comfortable pad, potato chips, just enough cash to pay the bills, and she’s good to go. After spending my Wednesday evening chipping, chopping, and salting a parking lot covered in three-quarters of an inch of ice, I sympathize completely. But, I digress.

There’s a comfortable voice here, and plenty of fun observation to carry us along until the story kicks in, which it does on the final page. Isa, the snack-providing roommate, is moving out. Her little brother requires her care for a (possibly long) time, and she will have to leave the apartment.

This, I believe, is what is called a catalyst in writing circles, and it works well here. One senses that our little carpet-hugging mouse is about to change in big ways. Will she enjoy the process? Will she end up with “someone who doesn’t wash and uses his dirty boxers as dish rags”? Time (one month, precisely) will tell.

And, isn’t that just the way with life? One day you’re snuggled up with a cat in your lap, and the next you’re chipping %@#% ice from a #%@^^ parking lot.  “Isa” is more sedate than other stories in the collection, but it’s got a strong voice, interesting character, and keen observation. I’m looking forward to the next installment.

What did I miss?

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About Stephen

I live in beautiful New Castle, Pennsylvania with fellow writer, Susan Urbanek Linville, and a herd of reformed feral cats.

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5 Responses to 2014 – January 8 – Isa

  1. susan tepper says:

    I think you nailed Isa quite well here, Stephen. She is a most unreliable narrator and such a compelling character voice. I think she is capable of going in just about any direction, which pulls me as a reader to want to know “what is next”?

  2. Guilie says:

    Agree with Susan–you nailed the story in all its glory (eww, a rhyme). The voice here tacked me to the page from the first line (I hate the grocery store, too), and I loved all the rest. This is one I’m especially looking forward to next month. Where will our Claire be at on February 8?

  3. Mandy says:

    Lovely visuals in this story. Claire Worthington, I’m dying to know what’s around the corner for you.

  4. Michael says:

    Very well done. The last line was a corker!

  5. Yes, I agree here. I liked the voice in this — it carried the story through. And now I really want to see where this goes next… Very different in tone and style from what we’ve read already…

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