The Only Way Out
Is Through

A Story

by Alethea Black
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This story will be read aloud on Friday, January 29th at 7:30 at The Players Club in NYC, as part of an evening of four of my short stories read by some wonderful actors, including Campbell Scott, Patricia Randell, and Bill Camp. The Players Club is a beautiful space--Edwin Booth's former home--and the reading is FREE. Come by and say hi.

Heartfelt thanks to everyone who helped with the story, and to everyone who reads it.

Wow! What a story. So well told. So believable. The characters are real. . . . Wish I could attend the reading.

Stepping out of the narrative to tell us the outcome was daring and perfect.

A wonderful and almost familiar story. Perhaps even in the old sense of the word---that the deer functions as a "familiar" whose sacrifice offers a moment of unexpected respite for father and son. You see the crack where the light might slip in. I love the dark beauty and humor that she weaves throughout the telling, and I think it will work wonderfully in a live reading. Wish I could be there. Thanks for this story.

It is, indeed, a wonderful story! I grew up within walking distance of the Players Club. How I wish I could hear this being read and retrace my own adolescent steps, so different from Derek's! Congratulations for something with real beauty in an area where so little of that seems to be able to survive.

I grew up near Pawling, so I have an inkling where the idea for part of the story originated. Excellent story.

This story is so resonant and sure. Thank you. The father's helplessness is palpable as he tries to connect, and when he probably says exactly the wrong thing, but there's no contempt for him, rather a spare generosity. I keep turning over in my mind the flash-forward about the boy.

What happens next? :) Thanks for another wonderful piece. In just the length of a short story, you give so much to think about and to appreciate.

As a real emancipated child myself and now a father of three, I had tremendous feelings for the father and son. Truly life in another form.

Incredibly vivid. You really captured the essence of the pain and struggle so many teenagers and their parents have coped with in the past, present, and inevitably the future.

What a great depiction of the intensity of life with teens. Very well done!

Breathtaking story. It will stay with me for a long time. I'm curious why you included the scene with the mom and five kids -- what was its narrative purpose?

Such wonderful comments. Thank you.

I tend to write the story just as it comes to me, and narrative purposes only reveal themselves after the fact, if that makes any sense. Same goes for symbolism; only after this story was finished did I one day notice, as Stephen Spencer did, the similarities to Abraham and Isaac.

That said, even though this is principally a story between a father and son, I like the way the scene in which Derek is harassed gives the reader a glimpse into what his life might sometimes be like outside the confines of the story.

Good piece, Althea. Good point about what Derek's life is like outside the awareness of his family. I was thinking that myself. The tag at the end regarding the injured deer right after the father pleads with his son not to kill himself---heavy and totally connected. Such an interesting contrast. Son tries to kill himself, but father does his best to thwart him. A deer is injured on the road and it is killed to be put out of its misery. Was that contrast done on purpose?

Gutsy, wonderful story. I loved the risk you took projecting into the future and I think it really works. Wish I could be at the Players' Friday night.

I loved the projecting into the future, it gave the reader hope. Short stories are too often self-indulgent--the "angst" of an "artist."

Excellent, truly remarkable.

A wonderful story! I love the voice, specifically how its humor and specificity offer a delightful view of the breadth of the character's thoughts and life. Great work!