One Story Issue #262: Rachel Lyon’s “You’ll Know When It’s Time”

Right around the time I was accepting the fact that I was going to have to put down my beloved, seventeen-year-old cat, a story called “You’ll Know When It’s Time” came across my desk. Something clicked in my head; this, I thought, is what people say to you when you’re dealing with having to put down your pet. Sure enough, the first line of the story was, “Once the cat died she would move to Delaware.” Excited to be reading a story by Rachel Lyon but unwilling to go there, I pushed the manuscript aside, then buried it under some folders, where it sat while I faced grim reality.

Weeks (months?) later, I finally read the story. To my great relief—which quickly turned into delight—the story was as funny as it was moving. Who would have thought you could both cringe and laugh, reading a story that dealt with such a gruesomely delicate topic? Of course, “You’ll Know When It’s Time” is about much more than a cat and a cat-owner. It’s about marriage, infidelity, parenting, aging, and so many other things. Rachel Lyon is a powerhouse of talent, and our new issue stands as a testament to that. We hope you enjoy Ida and Denny’s last hurrah as much as we did.

2 thoughts on “One Story Issue #262: Rachel Lyon’s “You’ll Know When It’s Time”

  1. Whew.

    Ida’s conflicted with so many problems, you would think that’s it’s hard to keep track. She tries to keep busy with distractions but those same distractions as far I can see is what gets her through the day.

    Like you said Patrick, the telling of Ida and Denny is happy and sad. It’s comforting but not at all at the same time because the future is now blank for Ida.

  2. I have only found myself laughing aloud in bed reading twice. I have smiled and guffawed hundreds of times, but full-bodied, nonstop laughter is something else. The first was The Canterville Ghost by Oscar Wilde, and now I can add You’ll Know When it’s Time to the list.

    While Rachel Lyon’s wit and gift for dialogue are great, her humor means more than a few literary skills. It accentuates and brings out Ida’s desperate state: alone and getting old as her memory fades and she plans a move that will take her farther from her daughter. The humor exacerbates Ida’s awful situation. The expression “comic relief” is not only a cliche, but it’s often off base. Great humor shows the tears.

    This is a brilliant story. Rachel Lyon is a star talent. I hope to see more of her work. I’ll remember to get out my handkerchief.

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