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Michael Wayne Hampton: We Share the High Points of Our Lives in Our Stories

Story Girl

photo credit: Jim Pennucci via Flickr

My friend Christina told me a great story yesterday. She’s had the same gynecologist since she was in high school. He’s an absent-minded old man with the demeanor of a country doctor. Each year she goes in, gets in the stirrups, and talks about school while her gynecologist jokes about her mix-matched socks and pokes around her down below. Last week while she was at her appointment she caught a curve ball. Her gynecologist had bought a brand new speculum warmer, and forgot to mention it to her. So there she is, pants off, knees to the ceiling, when she feels something warm go inside. Suddenly she doesn’t know whether to jump off the table bare-assed and appalled, or just ride it out and see what happens. She shared this story with me, and I laughed. My day had a little more sunshine. That’s the power of a good short story.

 

The value of the short story is that it’s truly how we experience life. We don’t move through our days building a long catalogue of everything we see or do. We only save the high points. They are our gifts. We pull them out in bars or waiting rooms to make life worth living.

 

Short stories save the threads of experience we’ve weaved them out of. To know a person you have to listen to their stories. They reveal where they’ve been, what they love, and where they return to in the quiet instances when life allows them the stillness to imagine and remember.

 

 

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About Michael Wayne Hampton

Michael Wayne Hampton earned his M.F.A. in Writing at Spalding University. His work has appeared in publications such as McSweeney's, The Southeast Review, and 3AM Magazine among many others. His fiction most recently appeared in Atticus Review and decomP, and this year his short story “Swimmers” was nominated for Best American Short Stories by Atticus Review. He currently serves as an English faculty member at UC Clermont, and is at work on a number of creative projects. He can be reached through his blog at motelheartache.blogspot.com.

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  1. Jim Contreras
    May 31, 2012 at 5:14 pm #

    Love the “in the quiet instances” line. nice.