“Revenge” by Josepha Gutelius is a pretty extraordinary piece: hallucinatory, puzzling, full of vivid images and deliberate ambiguities that make this an extremely rewarding story—once you reread it once or twice.
It reminds me of the works of Laird Hunt and Amelia Gray, authors who are adept at creating an extremely unreliable (i.e., confused, sick, insane) narrator. Sometimes, as readers, we just have to let go and enjoy the ride, accepting the plot’s overall instability as part of its structure, sort of like how an Escher drawing is an intentionally unstable structure, amorphous and concrete at the same time. That’s been my experience with this piece, which BlazeVOX should be commended for publishing in its latest issue.
I’m willing to bet your interpretation of this story will be different from mine, and moreover, will change upon rereading. This is a dense, complex piece about three individuals: the speaker (“I”–male or female? Not sure…but I imagine this is a female character), the Nurse, and an unseen but essential third character, a male, referred to only as “he” or “him,” with whom both the speaker and Nurse have/had a relationship of some kind.
Perhaps more than in other stories, this piece absolutely hinges on its title: “Revenge.” I can only imagine how my interpretation (particularly of the Nurse and her identity/motivation) would be different if this story had a different name, something more compassionate perhaps.
His face was for some reason replaced in my mind by a large potted fern.
The story is full of rich, surprising metaphors and images like this. Damn, I wish I’d written this piece.