When my composition teacher announced that we would indeed have homework to do an audible groan went through the whole classroom.
"Nothing too hard," she assured us as she wrote out our assignment on the board.
I was sitting in my room a couple days before my analysis's were due. I stared down at the list of short stories my teacher had given, trying to decide which ones I should go for.
They all had obscure titles, and I had not one inkling as to what any were about, so I just picked some at random.
The Lottery by Shirley Jackson caught my eye. I was told of one teacher who made her students read it in class so that she could witness their reaction to the ending in person. It intrigued me, so I looked it up and quickly read it.
I honestly had no idea what to think of it. I still don't. It was definitely not what I was expecting. I had to read it twice to really let it soak through.
The Last Leaf by O Henry was the next one I decided to read, and was much more light-hearted than the previous story.
The ending made me weep, though, and the message really struck a chord with me somehow.
I hadn't ever read a short story before this. I like big, thick, scary books. I like challenges. I've always told all my writer friends that I am unable to write short stories since all my ideas are far too big to fit in just a few pages.
I realized, though, as I was reading through the titles on my list, that there is a whole lot of magic in a story that is short.
It's hard to get a message through, even when you have a whole book to tell it. When authors are able to be brief and short, but can still pull on our heart-strings and make us think, that is a rare gift.
I have a new appreciation for short stories. And I have found that the saying is true: Sometimes a little is a lot.