Review by Sabrina E. Ogden
For me, looking back at my friends now, the signs of there being a serious problem were kind of obvious. And the night he threatened to kill himself when she tried to break up with him was the biggest sign. But even then… even then she thought he was the perfect guy for her. And that maybe, with all the love she had to give, she could fix the demons that silently possessed his mind.
Over time the threats became more common. And each time she would question their reality he’d say it was a joke. She never did laugh. And she never did walk away. Their marriage came and went; their lives moved forward. And years later, I’m still waiting for my phone to ring.
It will ring. It’s only a matter of time.
In “Practice” by Bob Pastorella, we read a chilling tale of young love. The kind of love that blinds you to any potential problems, or when they do manifest themselves, the person is so “right” for you that you’re willing to overlook them, and even… possibly fix them.
As the story begins, it’s just another afternoon at work for Markus until the phone rings and he’s given a partial message about his ex-girlfriend, Shelly.
From there, Markus recalls memories of his relationship with her. We read about the last time he saw her, the first day they met, problems in her personal life, their second date, and a moment of revelation that leaves the reader shocked.
Delicately balanced, the story showcases both the good and bad memories, and you can feel an inner struggle with Markus as he recognizes signs of a serious problem with his girlfriend. The story leaves you wondering how their relationship finally came to an end. Did he walk away? Did she walk away? Did they even discuss the problem, or did they continue to pretend that it wasn’t there?
Practice showcases a wide range of emotion yet is written with incredible warmth. You can literally feel the inner struggle with both characters. With each glimpse into the past, you can see Shelly slowly falling apart, and you cringe a little at the lack of recognition of her problems by Markus. Although it isn’t actually written, it seems as if Markus knows there is a problem with his “perfect” girl, but doesn’t really know if walking away or staying is the better option.
Bob Pastorella’s use of emotion within the story is told with such realism it doesn’t have to be specifically written on the page. You’ll know what the characters are feeling… and you’ll be left feeling those emotions, too.
“Practice” by Bob Pastorella is a perfect addition to the Warmed and Bound Anthology.