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Currently Listening: Bonnie Jo Stufflebeam

You might want to skim “Every Song Must End” by Bonnie Jo Stufflebeam and queue up a playlist on Spotify or Amazon Music or whatever your preference is before you read this story. I did just that, hit play, and read.

Goosebumps. 

Bonnie Jo Stufflebeam tells one hell of a story. That’s no secret. You might also know that she is a multi-genre specialist, curating an annual Art & Words show, but she takes her skills to a new level if you indulge her in this story from UNCANNY MAGAZINE . The story of a wife and husband slowly falling into polyamory told in the way only Stufflebeam can, set to a seductive soundtrack that plays perfectly with each scene. Each section starts with something like this:

Currently listening: “Mecca by Wild Beasts”

The soundtrack reinforces the subtlety of the story, taking the jitters of new love that come from a glance, a smile, the brush of a hand, to new heights. Stufflebeam shows the kind of non-judgmental attitude toward her characters that made writing for the TV show Mad Men famous, never judging them for their exploits. Yet here, it’s easy to care deeply for the characters–as they do for each other–because there is no subterfuge. Two couples share their partners and gain enjoyment from the other’s pleasure. 

“There was this: even as she ruminated over the choices she could make, she knew that she had already made hers. He was in her before they had even seen one another naked.”

Stufflebeam

Fidelity and monogamy are not the same thing. Monogamy is sleeping with a single person. Fidelity is truth. Under these conditions, you can be faithful and still have multiple partners. 

“She had already taken him in like a sacred city welcomes its worshippers.”

Stufflebeam

Stufflebeam toys with (and answers) the question of whether you can love two people wholly. Completely.  More importantly, she poses the question, can you love more than one person without someone getting hurt? Do hopes and dreams–to become a settler of Mars in this case–outweigh secondary devotion? And what remains long after fury of love subsides, leaving only the rubble of a tornado in its wake, and the story and playlist is finished? The beauty of the character’s honesty, and the truth that many people only know under marriage-wrecking circumstances. Sometimes, even though you love someone completely, faithfully, you can still be capable of loving someone else. Not because your heart isn’t full though.

Some hearts are capable of growth. 

If you want to know what that feels like, queue up this playlist and take a read. Start a garden and let love grow.

If you want to read more of Bonnie Jo Stufflebeam’s work, consider pre-ordering our anthology The Way of the Laser via Kickstarter and visit her website.  

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Categories: Short Story Collections, Uncategorized

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