‘Free’ by Clare Wigfall

A woman, hitchhiking across Spain, walks into a quiet bar in a quiet village in the middle of a quiet afternoon and orders a drink. Out of so slight a frame emerges a story I’ve read countless times and yet cannot quite put to bed. Of course, one reason lies in its audacious sin of omission, that little artificial gap in the story’s surface that seems to contain the clue to its interpretation. (Raymond ‘No Tricks’ Carver, you suspect, would have hurled the book across the room.) And yet there’s so much more to it than that, from the poise and restraint of the writing, to the echoing sound of that fly swatter coming down hard on a flat surface to signal that the story, in its material sense, is done. In recent times, I’ve come to thinking that the story represents an answering call to Kate Chopin’s ‘The Story of an Hour’: ‘“Free! Body and soul free!”’ 

In The Loudest Sound and Nothing (Faber & Faber, 2007)