Recently published by Word Riot, “Heimlich,” a short story by Mandy Campbell Moore, promises to unsettle from its eerily calm yet chilling opening line: “An ugliness blooms in Nina’s husband when their daughter is born.” The juxtaposition of these two “births”—one presumably a cause for celebration and one a cause for dismay—immediately puts us on guard. This is not the average couple with growing pains; something more has gone wrong here.
Moore continues to unsettle us, building tension between Nina and Alex through carefully selected details and gestures that define these people so well, it’s as if they’re the neighbors whose ratcheting frustrations we can’t avoid hearing through a thin, shared wall. Alex nags and controls, Nina drifts through the days, bleary and placating, and we await a violent confrontation that can’t help but explode. Then Nina makes a choice that deftly defies our expectations and leads to a heart stopping conclusion. Top notch storytelling and lucid, seamless prose make this a tale you won’t soon forget.
About the Author:
A graduate of Antioch University’s MFA program, Mandy Campbell Moore is in the final throes of her first novel. She is a North Carolina native who lives in Los Angeles.