Skip to content

Log Out



THE STORY GOES OFF THE RAILS. That’s because the narrator went off the rails first, but I didn’t notice this turn of events until the novel was almost done, until someone disappeared, until the murder happened, until the narrator just went and did what she did. Wait. The narrator is a man, a man who did what he did. Why don’t I know who did what? Someone—maybe an editor, I fear an editor—is going to ask if the “she” is a typo, and I am going to have to think back to when I was concocting this story, to when I first conjured up the turn of events that led to another character’s startling demise. A character who might be someone we care about, who maybe shouldn’t die. Cannot die. Our investment is too great, the details of the altercation too bizarre to be believed, even by me. Alas, too many stories are strewn along the tracks, too many tales have gone off the rails, and now I’m back where I started. Writing for the love of writing. Even when writing leads to abandoned stories. Those rails again. It’s the anarchy of love.



Pamela Painter is the award-winning author of five story collections, most recently Fabrications: New and Selected (Johns Hopkins). Her stories have appeared in numerous journals and anthologies,  on the YouTube channel Cronogeo, and have been staged in Los Angeles, London, and New York.




Image depends on its subscribers and supporters. Join the conversation and make a contribution today.

+ Click here to make a donation.

+ Click here to subscribe to Image.

The Image archive is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.

Related Fiction

Three Stories


Diane Williams

The Guests


Alisa Ganieva

Assembly Line Prayer


Renee Simms



Alexander Ramirez

Receive ImageUpdate, our free weekly newsletter featuring the best from Image and the world of arts & faith

* indicates required