David Madden: The World’s One Breathing

Deal Me In 2019 – Week 19

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McLain feels now the loss of his own children. He has lost touch with the girl he met and married in Lexington and who divorced him in Huntington. From the girl he married and divorced in Pittsburgh, he gets only a Christmas card each year, with a group picture of her and the boy and the girl McLain sometimes longs to see in the flesh. His father loved the mines. Well, McLain likes his freewheeling life in New York, always on the move.

David Madden’s “The World’s One Breathing” is another short story from the collection Home and Beyond: An Anthology of Kentucky Short Stories edited by Morris Allen Grubbs. This story, as with many of them in this collection, deals with people who have left their homes – sometimes for bigger and better things – and for varying reasons are headed back, at least temporarily.

home beyond

McLain has left Black Damp, Kentucky (based on a Google search, I think this is a fictional town, but a well-named fictional town) to pursue a career in television journalism and has done well for himself. He finds himself on a bus headed back home because his mother is dying – probably in the same bed in which he was born.

An interesting addition to this story is that McLain happens to be riding this bus back home while astronauts are getting ready to land on the moon for the first time. This juxtaposition of one homecoming on earth while another home-“leaving” occurs beyond earth is enough to make this story fascinating. In fact that’s all it needs for a good story.

However, another addition of a just-out-of-prison fugitive popping up at one of the stops along the bus ride who ends up killing a police officer while he attempts to reunite with his wife and son seems to be just a little much. I understand that this is another story of someone wanting to get “home” back but it just doesn’t seem to fit well.

McLain eventually gets back to Black Damp but not necessarily to the house where his mother is dying.

I read “The World’s One Breathing” when I selected the Three of Hearts for Week 19 of my Deal Me In 2019 short story project. My Deal Me In list can be seen here. Deal Me In is hosted by Jay at Bibliophilopolis.

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