People Like That Are the Only People Here

by Marie Lorena Moore

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Last Updated September 5, 2023.

This story is a piece of metafiction, a text that draws attention to the fact that it is a text by departing from or even parodying the traditional aspects of a fictional narrative. For example, most stories do not acknowledge their status as stories; they simply proceed as though reporting fact. However, this text begins with the narrator's acknowledgment that "there seems to be neither" beginning nor end of it:

The whole thing is like a cloud that just lands and everywhere inside it is full of rain.

Certainly, some life events—in this case, finding out one's baby has kidney cancer—don't seem to unfold but rather seem to fall out of the sky on top of a person. Further, the narrator tells us what the "start" is: "the Mother" finds a clot of blood in her child's diaper. "What is the story?" the narrator asks, drawing attention to the fact that this is just a story. We later learn that "the Mother" is a writer, and her husband wishes she would "Take notes" on their experiences with their baby's cancer in order to write a story that will pay for his treatment. This idea never sits well with her, but in the end, the narrator says,

There are the notes.
Now where is the money?

The story is written in such a way as to make readers think that the Mother herself has written it, an idea supported by the third-person limited omniscient narrator. The narrator knows the thoughts and feelings of only one character—the Mother—and so the reader is encouraged to understand and relate to her feelings much more so than the doctors or even her husband. She is sympathetic in her guilt, her grief, her horror at the stories of others' children, and her relief that her child may not have to undergo the tortures of chemotherapy when his brain is still in such a young stage of development.

The Mother herself never gets a name, drawing attention to the idea that her motherhood completely and absolutely consumes her identity during this time of her baby's illness. Before the illness, she had joked about how many babysitters he'd had, and she recalls how "unmotherly" she'd felt for so long; now, however, she is all mother, "the Mother" in her love, her suffering, and her helplessness to save her child from pain.

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