A Cup of Salt Tears by Isabel Yap

This story is just thick with the idea of sacrifice. What would you give for the person you love?  Who would you traverse with?  Literature is full of stories of people giving up something consequential to save someone they love.  One could probably argue that to be one of the prime plots of all fiction.  Much like the Moon in poetry, it’s a topic often touched upon. But this story handles this well-treaded ground in beautiful, haunting fashion.

Makino’s depiction of grief is so well-done and raw. I think too often we like to think of grief as this burst of emotional energy that just keeps on firing off rounds until it’s exhausted itself.  But in this story, grief is static.  It lives Makino trapped in this sort of perpetual, glacial sadness. And for my money, that seems to be a more succinct expression of the emotion, especially when considering the circumstances of her husband.

I also like that the author avoids making the husband this really attractive guy. That would have felt too much like a poem.  Instead, we get a pretty ordinary guy who through his *gasp* personality and loving spirit manages to get this gorgeous woman to fall in love with him.

The Kappa is a thing of pure sensory in this story. Every time he comes on the page, the author just drowns you in these ideas you can touch, taste and feel.  I swear after reading the story, I can know what the exact texture of this creature is like.   Without that degree of focus on making you sense Makino’s movements against the supernatural entity, I don’t think it would have been half as haunting. The author knew exactly where to spend her literary coins in this story and thus knocks it out of the park.

This story lingered after I was finished and I have a feeling it will linger much like the Kappa’s love for a long time.

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