Story of the week: "In The Beginning, Nothing Lasts" by Mike Strahan

My new story of the week is "In The Beginning, Nothing Lasts" by Mike Strahan, published in the Oct. 2007 Orson Scott Card's Intergalactic Medicine Show. Set in the 1930s dust bowl, the story opens with a weeping mother watching workers dig her son's grave. While this may sound like a tragic if everyday occurrence, the mother isn't weeping tears of grief. Instead, she is excited, happy, because "her son would not die until yesterday." In short, her son is coming back. Today he is dead in the coffin. But come yesterday, he will be freed from that wooden box and be alive in his mother's loving arms.

Welcome to the resurrection, where people live their lives backward. Where you get a second chance to undo all the mistakes and sins of your life. The main regret of Beulah Irene's life was losing her son at age three to a horrific accident, so for the last few decades she's focused on her son's return. Naturally, things don't work out the way she planned.

New writer Mike Strahan creates a surreal world in this story, using past tense to indicate events which have yet to happen--except in the sense that all time is flowing backward, so the future is always past and the past future. Even though this setup could cause confusion in the hands of a lesser writer, Strahan's wonderful prose doesn't miss a beat. This story not only tugs at the heart strings, but also leaves one questioning what it means to "wipe the slate clean" of all the things we regret in our lives. Highly recommended.