Short Story Review: “In the Vauxhall Pleasure Garden” by Sunny Singh

4 of 5 stars.

The easiest of romances is the distant crush, the imagination’s relationship with a stranger. It gives pleasant (albeit false) memories and adds a bit of happiness to an otherwise lonely reality. This is the tale of a distant crush, a wordless crush. A crush of routine and inferred meaning.

Graham lives a lonely, guarded life–half out of necessity. He works in intelligence, switching up his routes through town, sticking to the foods and drinks and patterns that he’s used to. He notices when things change–that’s what makes him good at his job. He establishes a pattern in his home neighborhood of London, of finishing a crossword on a bench in the Vauxhall Pleasure Garden–always the same bench–and then heading to his quiet pub for a single pint.

One Spring a woman alights on his bench and reads for a spell. Then some weeks later, she comes again. And he notices. Soon, he expects her arrival and notices her aged, simple beauty. But they don’t talk, nor even share a glance. But he crushes on her.

One day, he catches her name when she takes a phone call–Catherine. But he doesn’t use it. However, eventually they learn to say Goodbye to each other. And later yet, Hello . . .

The organic growth of the relationship of strangers is beautifully depicted, as is the interplay between Graham external and internal lives.

This tale appears in the anthology An Unreliable Guide to London by Influx Press, London. I received my copy of this anthology directly from one of the contributing authors through bookreviewdirectory.wordpress.com.
 
 
 
[Check out my other reviews here.]

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