After finishing The Girls by Emma Cline this week, I felt a bit bereft. I really hadn’t wanted the book to end. I had seen on Goodreads that she had a short story, Marion, so thought I would try and find it. I was in luck. A quick google found it available online in The Paris Review. You can read it here if you are interested. The story was the winner of the Plimpton Proze and I can see why. There is a lot packed into very few pages (one of the reasons I love short stories when they are done well).
Although there isn’t a direct link to The Girls, there are themes that are similar. A young teenage girl makes friends with a slightly older girl, escaping to her unconventional home because her own home life isn’t that happy. For her, though, it is more than friendship, it’s liked being saved…
“Marion was my first best friend. I never had the framed photos that girls like to give each other. I had never worn friendship bracelets, or even hated anyone else with another girl. My life seemed like something new and unasked for, Marion smiling at me in the sunshine, letting me wear her woven ankle bracelet for days at a time, braiding my hair that had grown colorless and thick, full of dust and the peculiar smell of heat.”
They spend the summer lazing, smoking, drinking and obsessing on boys – one in particular- thinking and behaving like they are older than they are. But they are still teenagers, still discovering themselves and still not really aware how the real world actually works. It leads to them making terrible choices, turning the story darker, and ends their friendship.
Again, I got completely lost in the language and the story. I really like the way Emma Cline writes, the way she draws me in with descriptions that make me feel the heat of the summer, the loneliness of being a teenage girl, and the angst of not quite knowing your place in the world. I already recommended The Girls as a read earlier this week but for those not sure this is an excellent introduction or taster of what is to come.