Issue #188: The Remains
by Laura Spence-Ash

188-coverOne Story works hard to support emerging writers, so it is a special thrill to present a debut author in our pages: Laura Spence-Ash! Contributing editor Will Allison will do the proper introductions for this unique and moving story. For now, let’s all raise a glass to a promising new writer, and the start of a successful career. —HT

In our latest issue, we’re excited to present Laura Spence-Ash’s first published story, “The Remains.” I’m a sucker for mystery, and this story had me from the start: “Sergeant Bill Marshall was the one who found her white bones in a fetal position, nestled inside a tweed coat and a red woolen hat.” The “her” in question is Sophie Constantine, who, we learn, lived a quiet, solitary life in a bustling Queens neighborhood. The cause of Sophie’s death is revealed soon enough, but “The Remains” is more concerned with the bigger question of who she was. Spence-Ash tells the story in five sections, each from the perspective of a different character who knew Sophie or was in some way touched by her death: the police officer who found her skeleton, her next-door neighbor, her tailor’s daughter, her former boss, and her ex-husband. Over the course of these five mini-stories, a nuanced and moving mosaic of Sophie emerges. It’s a story about death, yes, but it’s more a story about life: how we exist, beyond the grave, in memory, and how our lives affect the lives of others, often in ways we’ll never know. Be sure to check out our Q&A with Laura Spence-Ash to learn about the real-world inspiration behind her debut story, how long it took her to write it (my fellow slow writers, you will be comforted), and more.

8 thoughts on “Issue #188: The Remains
by Laura Spence-Ash

  1. Fabulous story, Laura. Thanks for sticking with it. I LOVE the multiple voice, multiple narrative structure. I wondered as I read if it would work, and it really does, in your hands. I’m still thinking about Sophie, and Zoe and all the unlived lives they touched. very moving. Good luck with whatever is next. I’ll be watching for your work.

  2. This is a wonderful story. I’ve read it a couple of times just to savor it. I’m so glad you wrote it from multiple character pov, Laura. It’s inspiring that you stuck with your vision for the story. Write on! And thanks to One Story for publishing.

  3. I too love this story. I read it a couple of times just to savor it. It’s inspiring that you stuck with your vision for the story, Laura. Write on! And thanks to One Story for publishing!

  4. Lovely story and lovely writing. Laura’s exquisite attention to detail gave the reader insights to all the characters and made them whole and real. Congratulations on a first published story. I hope for many more.

  5. This was an excellent story. Thank you Laura, and One Story for bringing it to us! I am left with many questions….I would love to see this story developed into a book. Each character, it seems, has so much more to say. They’re all so interesting … I want to know so much more about them!! Thanks be to the author. If I had another story by Laura, I’d sit up late into the night to read it.

    Keep writing Laura; I’ll follow you anywhere!

  6. I must tell you that I was going to let my subscription lapse after my third year ended. My second-to-last copy arrived several weeks ago, and I will be a subscriber for as long as you’re publishing. “The Remains” is the very type of story that makes One Story what it is — a unique and new voice, one that makes us appreciate the power of memory and the written word. Bravo on publishing such a wonderful story. Though I know this story took her some time to write, I hope we hear more from Spence-Ash in the future. Keep up the great work, friends.

  7. “The Remains” is a quiet story with lovely sentence rhythms that suit each character we meet. The way it shifts POV to tell Sophie’s story while leaving so much subtext for the reader to fill in about her and about each of the characters we meet is accomplished seamlessly. I, too, think it could be a novel, but it has its own completeness at this length, too. I’ve been struggling with a story with multiple points of view. This story gave me hope that I can bring it home. Thank you, Laura!

  8. Something about the sadness of the narrative that draws me in, keeps me interested. I love the progression of characters in this story, moving from the distant unrelated toward the intimate. The things that might have been and just never quite were, and the things that actually were but didn’t quite fully mature. Sad. Beautiful. Thanks for the story. The Faulkner reference is perfect – from As I Lay Dying, which is also told from multiple points of view and is engagingly sad and beautiful.

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