Okeechobee

by Claudia Zuluaga

Sometimes I wish I could go back to the days when life was so much simpler. Childhood was blissful. Back then we seemingly had no worries in the world. Nothing really mattered like it does today. Life was fresh, truly unaffected and far from jaded. It’s ironic that days now, we wish to be days then. Certainly while we were children we wished to be older. We were so eager to experience the world.

It’s funny that despite how young we are, sometimes we know many things. Oblivious at times, yes, but our understanding at other times seems to be taken from universal knowledge. Open-minded to events unfolding before us, we observe. We are slowly molded by these events we see. Being open-minded has its pitfalls.

Zuluaga’s "Okeechobee" is a descriptive tale of a family trip to an old friend of father’s. At first glance everything seems to be out of some 1950’s family fantasy. Mother and father happily married with two daughters going on a family outing. But that isn’t the case.

The narrator has a sense of impartiality, and she is much more of an observer than a participant. The narrator deals with sensation as it arises. It pours through her observing senses.

The editor, Caitlin McKenna, has commented on Zuluaga's use of three cars within the story. The pattern of images evokes the child’s sadness. The narrator feels the sadness. How it will all affect her in the long run remains unknown. But the story lets us develop our own feelings, and the narrator offers insight at the end -- the desire for her mother to be happy. And, finally, the narrator expresses a state of mind, guilt, that rocks us.


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