“Weight of the World” by José Pablo Iriarte
“She Opened Her Arms” by Amanda C. Davis
Reviewed by Nicky Magas
Mark would do anything for his eight year-old son Jason in José Pablo Iriarte’s “Weight of the World.” Even leaving with his wife and son to take the eight-day journey back to Earth from their home on the moon is nothing if the treatment of Jason’s aggressive cancer is successful. But the prognosis is grim and Mark must struggle with his own emotions to put on a positive face for Jason. The weight of the world is pressing down on Mark and his family—literally—and the responsibility of being optimistic for all three of them is starting to take its toll. The science in “Weight of the World” is secondary to the feelings of a father who must simultaneously prepare himself to bury his child while providing his family with emotional strength. While I appreciated the literal connotations of the title, a part of me wanted to know more about moon cancer and the complications that lunar living has on the human body. Regardless, “Weight of the World” is a decently written piece that does exactly what it intends to—tugs at the heartstrings.
Would it be better to have a normal brother? This is the question Amanda C. Davis poses in her story, “She Opened Her Arms.” Amber’s brother Michael is a little slow. She’s heard all the whispers before and is used to people telling her it’s such a shame that he is what he is. What she isn’t used to is adults telling her that Michael isn’t her real brother, or that faeries took the real Michael away a long time ago. Now, curiosity sends Amber on a quest to rescue her real brother, and to learn the true meaning of family. Unfortunately, too much of the story in “She Opened Her Arms” is left up to reader speculation. The nature of Michael’s disability, the legend of the faeries and even the information Amber needs to get her real brother back all happen somewhere between the lines. As a result the reader is left feeling as if only half the story has been told, and too much of the missing information happens to be the structural, world building parts. Subsequently, the echo of lost exposition overpowers the moral of this story.