Shoshana Akabas begins “By the Creeks of Wyoming” with just a hint of what’s happening: “Aspen leans over and says, ‘You know, Natalie’s telling everyone about your brother,’ [ . . . ].” Who is Natalie and what’s going on with the narrator’s brother? Akabas hooks us into the story and then reels slowly, the answers appearing one by one, so brief they could almost be overlooked.
While the story of what happened to the narrator’s brother becomes distorted through the gossip of Natalie, the narrator’s friend who is slowly drifting in a different direction now that they’re in high school, it becomes clearer for the readers each time the narrator responds to the classmates who have heard the gossip. I loved this slow burn, the piecing together of the puzzle until the full picture is revealed.
The narrator’s brother plays a large role in the story, but Akabas chooses never to actually place him in the story. He’s always on the other side of the door or wall, an unreachable and almost legendary figure.
Melancholy and rife with the emotional ups and downs of high school, “By the Creeks of Wyoming,” is a quick yet beautiful read.
“By the Creeks of Wyoming” by Shoshana Akabas. AGNI, 2021.