Jill McCorkle, “Turtles”

Carly thinks back on past loves while pining for the hottest guy in the nursing home.

(from Creatures of Habit)

This is a sad, sad story fueled by the fairly universal fears of getting old and feeling useless. I love stories told by unreliable narrators, and this one slowly comes through in that respect. Reality gets bent gently, not flat-out shattered like sci-fi. Not knocking sci-fi.
Here’s a line I like:
“Carly tells them she doesn’t like the fact that the only big window near her room is made of stained glass and it gives her a dark sad feeling to try and see through it.”
Every story in this collection has an animal name — “Snakes,” “Chickens,” “Starlings,” “Billy Goats” and more. This story is set at the Turtle Bay Nursing Home, but nobody reliable has ever seen the turtles who supposedly live in the marshland behind the home.
We talk about turtles a lot at work.

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