One Story Issue #276: Jackie Thomas-Kennedy’s “Extinction”

When it became clear that the pandemic wasn’t going to be over anytime soon, and social distancing turned into lockdown, and lockdown turned into finding new ways to live and stay creative and sane, we at One Story began to anticipate the pandemic-related submissions we were bound to receive. As they started to come in, I couldn’t help but wonder if someone was going to write a story about how weird we all became. What I mean is, consciously or not, we all had to reinvent our notions of interaction and intimacy. We all had to find new ways to lend emotional support, and we all had to find new ways to receive emotional support.

It wasn’t a smooth process, by any means. We were living in a world of constantly changing information, trying to cope with a global health crisis that immediately and bizarrely had become political. And as the spring of 2020 edged toward summer, everything became more challenging, more unsettling, more of a mirror held up to our faces, showing us ourselves in stark relief.

I’ve been a fan of Jackie Thomas-Kennedy’s writing for a long time, so I’m particularly thrilled to be presenting “Extinction” to you. This, in many ways, is the story I was wondering if someone was going to write: a story about how our world was (and still is) upended, and how it changed us not just in obvious ways but in subtle ways we might not even have been aware of. How do we make the best of things when a better version of our world is rapidly receding from our view, when distancing becomes isolation, and when we can’t trust ourselves to make the best choices? “Extinction” puts its finger on the pulse of our current lives. It’s both a story for our times and a story with staying power.

1 thought on “One Story Issue #276: Jackie Thomas-Kennedy’s “Extinction”

  1. This was a compelling story on many levels. The story effectively explores estrangement in the middle of a pandemic.

    We don’t find until the end of the piece an essential truth about Billie, the protagonist, and Shannon who is absent neighbor. Billie does not hear from or see Shannon for months over the course of the story though they are neighbors, becoming obsessed about her. Billie chose family life because it was something her mother had been seemingly denied due to work responsibilities with children to raise. Billie is a caring mother and wife. To her it’s a life of comfort even if there constant annoyances and miscommunications. Shannon, however, became a wife and mother due to an unexpected pregnancy. Billie, it seems, is mom for an entire neighborhood.

    Extinction depicts family life well. A lot of copy is about food, stickiness and sloppiness. The story feels authentic. I felt like I was in Billie’s kitchen the whole time.

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