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Story Spotlight: "Dirty Darlene" by Sarah Kate Levy

The pathos-inducing “Dirty Darlene,” a fall 2010 story by Sarah Kate Levy, follows an aging taxi driver with withered looks who woefully mistakes a one-off sexual encounter with a client as something more than it is.

The title character’s tragedy is further amplified by her backstory. Her past is riddled with miscues and heartbreak:  We hear references to an abusive former lover, and an aborted child who would have been the same age now as the boy with whom she has a drug-induced tryst. We are also filled in on how as a former school bus driver, she had assumed the role of big-shot protector of the bullied, only to be brought down several notches by a lesson to a bully gone wrong.

Her story culminates in a high the reader knows all too well as being a mirage. She pretties herself up, bolstered by a delusion. In a devastating passage, we find that “she felt she knew a secret, and better, for the first time in her life, it wasn’t something hiding, but rather, something shared.” The story’s outcome is inevitable but its blow is nevertheless potent.

Read, comment on, and share “Dirty Darlene,” our latest Story Spotlight.