PodCastle 053: Change of Life

by K. Tempest Bradford.
Read by MA in PA.

It all started because I wanted a pet. All of us younger kids did. But Mom always said that there wasn’t room for any pets cuz there were so many kids. She had a point, I guess. There were nine of us. But then David, my oldest brother, left home when he was only seventeen and a half to join the Peace Corps. Mom cried for three days straight. Dad said it was only because she was going through the Change of Life.

The day after she stopped crying there was a bunny in the living room. No cage, just a bunny. I guess Dad bought him hoping it would cheer Mom up–and it did. She sat on the couch holding the bunny for hours and told us all that we had a new family member: David the bunny. Katherine, my oldest sister, said that Mom named it David out of a sense of displacement or some other big word she liked to use just because she wanted to be a psychologist or a psychiatrist or some kind of person who messes with your head.

I wasn’t impressed. I wanted a dog.

Rated G. Contains a menagerie.

Posted a day early in honor of Fen of Color United.

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15 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    Txistu said,

    May 18, 2009 @ 1:11 pm

    “I wasn’t impressed. I wanted a dog.” That sums it up pretty well for me.

  2. 2

    R.G. Quimby said,

    May 18, 2009 @ 5:16 pm

    A very interesting story, but to me it seemed rather hollow at times. Was anyone else hoping to learn more about how Mom was able to suck her errant children into the pets? And why would some of the pets/kids choose to return in the end, while others didn’t? I guess the “magic” of the whole thing felt kind of unclear.

    Still, I found the mother character to be an intriguing mix of sympathetic and utterly creepy, which made me really interested in finding out what else would happen. The resolution was clever, though still pleasantly creepy.

  3. 3

    Jennifer said,

    May 18, 2009 @ 7:38 pm

    This was just so incredibly predictable with this premise, but I kept on listening for the horror of it all. I can’t figure out how old the narrator is supposed to be, or how smart/stupid she’s supposed to be in knowing exactly what’s going on. Hard to MISS what’s happening, and yet she’s all “I hope Chuckie gave me a present?”

    I think the pets came back after they were freed of the kids, on their own recognizance. Like a regular animal looking for home again.

  4. 4

    R.G. Quimby said,

    May 18, 2009 @ 9:46 pm

    *slaps forehead*

    Yeah, that makes sense. For some reason, I guess I was kind of buggy about whether or not the kids themselves were turned into animals, rather than trapped in the animals or whatever it was.

    As far as the age of the narrator, I was imagining a kid of 7-years-old or so, but that’s just me. I think it had a lot to do with the blase (but rather optimistic) way that the narrator reacted to the mother’s obsessive behavior.

  5. 5

    Travis said,

    May 19, 2009 @ 1:11 pm

    This was an amusing story. I agree that it was awfully vague about the very aspect which qualified it as Fantasy. Given the setting, though, and the youth of the main character, I think it’s perfectly understandable that the creepy events described here would be relegated to a family secret that is better not discussed.

    Unfortunately, I must say that the reading was awkward. I got the impression the reader was going away for a break after every single sentence, then coming back and editing the pieces together later. It broke up the flow of the story and I found it very distracting.

    Oh, and by the way, the Authors and Readers get credit on the website. Shouldn’t the person doing the introduction also be credited?

  6. 6

    Reed said,

    May 19, 2009 @ 3:46 pm

    I thought the story was quite creepy – the happy ending took the edge off, but, well, who knows what happens if Mom doesn’t get grandchildren soon? Nevertheless I found it enjoyable and I liked the narrator a lot (I’d put her at about 9 or 10 years, rather than 7, btw.).

  7. 7

    scatterbrain said,

    May 19, 2009 @ 4:45 pm

    I enjoyed this story quite a bit; the combination of a plot I think resembles Philip K. Dick’s early work with a child narrater who uses childish language and grammer works perfectly for the story.

  8. 8

    David said,

    May 19, 2009 @ 6:30 pm

    Nice work. It’s a fun change of pace for this feed, being reminded that fantasy is no less fantastic when it’s done on a smaller scale and wrapped up in a way leaving nearly everyone none the wiser. I wouldn’t want every story here to be like this one, though.

  9. 9

    Robin Sure said,

    May 21, 2009 @ 6:50 am

    Maybe it’s my cruel aging nature showing through, but the intro spoiled my mood for the whole story. If I want to listen to amateurish kids reading recipes, I’ll head down to Clonepod. I’d hoped that Escape Artists were going to keep good quality readers going, but this episode really disappointed in that regard.

    The story wah meh, mildly more interesting at the end, but the child viewpoint made it pretty slow for me.

  10. 10

    Erica said,

    May 21, 2009 @ 10:43 pm

    I didn’t get the intro at all–wasn’t sure what it had to do with the story, other than that the narrator of the story was also a kid. I liked that the story dealt with fantasy without recognizing it as such, though I agree with the earlier comment that you have to wonder why the narrator didn’t figure out what was going on. Kids are actually really good at that sort of thing.

  11. 11

    Thomas said,

    May 22, 2009 @ 10:41 pm

    it annoyed me, intrigued me, entertained me, bothered me. again, a formula ending, but with this story, any other ending may not have been well received. I liked how the story was constructed (through the eyes of a younger sibling) and the reader did an excellent job of telling the story.

  12. 12

    LINKS…OF…INTEREST! (Interest…Interest…interest…) « The Cafe in the Woods said,

    June 10, 2009 @ 4:21 pm

    […] read any of Bradford’s work, Podcastle recently ran a short story of hers called "Change of Life". Hop on over and have a listen, then head to her website and […]

  13. 13

    Dave (aka Nev the Deranged) said,

    June 23, 2009 @ 8:55 pm

    Man, this was a pretty disturbing look into dementia. A slight twist on the ending could have easily rendered this a Pseudopod story.

  14. 14

    Natasha said,

    June 24, 2009 @ 11:39 pm

    The first story I’ve heard on this site that I really just didn’t like. I thought the story was predictable, the style annoying, and the narrator didn’t seem to. Know when the sentences. Ended. The story was going along, missing kids, crazy mom, when all of a sudden the mc says something along the lines of “I knew what was going on.” What? That came out of the blue! How did she know, and what was going on? There was nothing in the story to convince that the mc had any clue, other than that the author said so.

    This story had a promise of a good idea but wasn’t fleshed out nearly enough

  15. 15

    SoCuteUrl said,

    June 26, 2009 @ 1:57 am

    Was that reader Steve Ely’s wife in disguise?

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