Short story: “Ten Things to Know About the Ten Questions”

by look i have opinions

“Ten Things to Know About the Ten Questions,” by Gwendolyn Kiste

Appeared in Nightmare Magazine, issue 36, September 2015

4233 words

I found it interesting that although the disappearances are coded as suicides, the real horror here is the way society responds to them. “The school sends me home with a note. My mother reads it after dinner and passes it to my father. Neither of them look at me. They never look at me again, not closely. They don’t want to see what the test sees.” (I wouldn’t mind having written those lines.) (Edited to add: I think this is true in real life too. Suicide and mental illness are stigmatized and mythologized and built up into big, scary things when they are mostly just symptoms of organic ailments and unhappiness.)

I’m not sold on the title, because the framing device of the piece is the questions themselves, not ten things to know about them. I’m also not sure about the ending—I feel like the bit about talking to Tally is overkill, since all we need there is a hint that the narrator will disappear eventually too. Still, a good story.