Warning: Spoilers ahead.
In this story, the main character is in a car accident that kills her body. But, we quickly find out, her brain is being kept alive through a method that she and her partner developed. She figures out a way to communicate with her partner (difficult since the only part of her left is her brain) and together they keep working on their project. Among other things, they figure out a way to allow a brain to "see" using another person's eyes.
Tragically, from the beginning the partners know that they have very limited time - they know how to keep a brain alive after the body has died and to slow the deterioration of the functionality of that brain, but not to keep it alive indefinitely.
There is some science talk in this story, but it was unobtrusive and easy to understand. It was just enough to give the story weight without pulling attention away from the storyline.
The writing is beautiful. Descriptive, but concise. It really drew me into the story in a way that I was not expecting.
I love this idea that although this woman died a very sudden death, she was given a little bit of extra time. Time to finish up what would be her life's work. Time to see her sons one more time, even if they were unaware of her presence. And time to accept her soon to be permanent death.
The fact that she had the strength and dignity to choose to die before her brain deteriorated completely is beautiful to me. And the fact that her partner held the picture of her family so that her last thoughts would be of them was utterly moving. I may have been fighting back tears on public transit.
Not only do I think this piece is absolutely award-worthy, but I will be seeking out more of Ms. English's work. I can't wait to see what else she has done.
Do I think Totaled by Kary English is award worthy?
Current rankings for Best Short Story:
3. On a Spiritual Plain