Posted in Short Stories

Mary Ladd Gavel: The Rotifer

Deal Me In 2019 – Week 17

8♠ 8♠ 8♠ 8♠ 8♠ 8♠ 8♠ 8♠

I must pause here to explain that I am a recognizer of people. I am sort of Paganini, or Escoffier, of recognizing. People who say,”I remember faces but I just can’t remember names,” are amateurs; I remember thousands of faces for which I have never known a name.

Mary, the narrator in Mary Ladd Gavel’s “The Rotifer”, observes a rotifer under a microscope in college. The little guy is caught in some algae. As Mary attempts to help, a mishap occurs with the tiny drop of water – or the rotifer’s entire universe, however you want to look at it.

short stories century

This small event isn’t necessarily a major part of the story but it’s the beginning of a quirky little narration by Mary about how her world works and how she might or might not fit into it. As light-hearted as the story may seem, it doesn’t take long to realize we’re seeing something akin to destiny, freewill and maybe even the “butterfly effect” as possible themes.

A few little stories about Mary’s life serve to question how her decisions might help or harm those around her – or even what effect her indecision might have on her life. Or does it really even matter?

Yes, now it sounds kind of deep but it’s actually fun and funny. Quite a feat on the part of the author.

I read this story when I selected the Eight of Spades for week 17 of my Deal Me In 2019 short story project. It’s included in The Best American Short Stories of the Century edited by John Updike. My Deal Me In list can be seen here. Deal Me In is hosted by Jay at Bibliophilopolis.



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