Boyle has me from the first sentence with this one:
My daughter is walking along the roadside late at night - too late, really, for a seventeen-year-old to be out alone, even in a town as safe as this - and it is raining, the first rain of the season, the streets slick with a fine immiscible glaze of water and petrochemicals, so that even a driver in full possession of her faculties, a driver who hadn't consumed two apple Martinis and three glasses of Hitching Post pinot noir before she got behind the wheel of her car, would have trouble keeping the thing out of the gutters and the shrubbery, off the sidewalk and the highway median, for Christ's sake. . . . But, that's not really what I want to talk about, or not yet, anyway.
There is an instant understanding here. I have three teenage daughters. I live in a safe small town. My daughters could be out walking too late at night...I don't want to continue reading this story! I think I know where it's heading.
But, Boyle is masterful. I can't stop. The story line above shifts back and forth with the narrator's musing about meteors - the Tunguska in Russia one hundred years ago, and Chicxulub on the Yucatan Peninsula some sixty five million years ago.
"Chicxulub" is, without a doubt, one of the most powerful short stories I've ever read. The story is gripping, but it doesn't end the way you would expect. I'm sorry I can't give much more of a summary - this is a story you need to experience for yourself. Boyle includes a sentence near the end that perfectly ties the two aspects of the story together. It made me pause and shake my head in admiration.
Thank you so much, Nymeth, for leading me to this story. It's one I doubt I'll forget!
John, our host from The Book Mine Set, is on vacation. If you've written a post for Short Story Monday, please leave your link in the comments so I can visit you!
(photo from the NY Times)