“If I Loved You” is a short story from a collection called If I Loved You, I Would Tell You This (2010), written by American author Robin Black.
A woman dying of cancer writes an imaginary letter to her new neighbour, who has uncharitably built a fence along their boundary line. This fence prevents her from getting conveniently out of her car in the driveway.
Here’s the subtext: this woman’s garage has obviously been built stupidly close to the boundary line, by someone who would never have predicted a future in which a new neighbour would want to build a fence. This is a comment on how we sometimes do things with great optimism. The optimism comes back to bite us later. Instead of optimism, this narrator now goes for ‘maybes’. (This explains the style of narration.)
That surface level plot about the fence offers a fairly didactic message about how we never know what’s going on in someone else’s life, symbolised by the fence itself. We put fences around ourselves to avoid considering other people’s pain. Continue reading “If I Loved You by Robin Black”