I am very happy to present my very first review of unpublished work. I hope there will be many more such reviews. Thank you to Patty for volunteering to be my first!
His Brother’s Fiancé is an interesting short story by Patricia Anne Hayes about Brian’s yearning for his younger brother Tim’s fiancé, Emily. The story begins with Anna Cole, mother of four grown children, happily at work on a dinner for her family. Immediately the tension between Brian and Emily is introduced when Anna says that Emily will be joining the family for dinner and Brian fidgets uncomfortably at the mention of her name. He struggles throughout the meal, his awkwardness compounded by the fact that Tim never shows up or calls.
The Cole’s are very real and endearing with their friendly banter and individual personalities. I felt like I was peeking in at a family I, or anyone else, could easily know. If she wanted to, the author could enhance the story even further by using Anna’s character to offer insight into Brian’s attraction and do some foreshadowing. That said, Hayes uses subtle family dialogue and setting description to effectively move the plot and build tension in a way that made me want to keep reading. I wanted to know where Tim was and what Brian was willing to do to get close to Emily.
The end drives me crazy in a good way. The build-up hits a climax in which our two main characters are alone and Emily’s fiancé is missing. The moment between the two could be slowed down even more if the author wants to tease us. Maybe long enough for the reader to get an idea as to where Emily stands. Does she share Brian’s feelings? Is she repulsed by him? Does she want him to stay until Tim comes home or does she want him to leave? Or maybe we’re supposed to be left wondering those things.
There are two distinct ways of looking at the ending:
1) There’s no closure. The reader is left to allow their imagination to run amok and never really know where Tim is and how Brian continues to handle his attraction to Emily and whether Emily feels the same way. Or…
2) There IS closure. It’s the story of hidden feelings and nothing more. The focus is unrequited love and the suppression of urges—merely a snapshot of normal sibling rivalry with an eerie undertone for good measure.
Perhaps it’s both. Either way, there is room for the story to expand and I hope it does. Hayes has set the stage for a story that could go in almost any direction: thriller, romance, mystery, etc. Thank you again Patty for sharing your art, it was a pleasure to read and review it. Keep on writing!