Short story: “Everybody’s Girl”

by look i have opinions

“Everybody’s Girl,” by Robert Barnard

Appeared in the Crime Writers’ Association anthology Mysterious Pleasures, 2003, edited by Martin Edwards; appeared in Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, May 2005

A little more than eleven and a half pages, perhaps 3,000 words

A tale of an emotional vampire hiding in plain sight. The set-up and reveal of Ruth’s true nature is very clever. I’m a little uncomfortable, though, about the trope of the evil child and teenage seductress; the story blames Ruth for everything from her adult friends’ unhappiness to her own murder. Probably not a good attitude to take in real life, where children and teens are often unfairly held responsible for the failings of adults.

The last two pages switch rather abruptly to a different point of view, with a bunch of exposition and a major flashback. I find this clunky. I want to throw in some section breaks, not for clarity’s sake—it’s very clear and easy to read as it stands—but for elegance’.