“An Abduction” by Tessa Hadley

Some months ago, I stashed away a link to An Abduction in Instapaper and finally got to reading it last week. I was drawn into the story immediately. Hadley writes in a wonderful voice, giving the opening almost the feel of non-fiction:

Jane Allsop was abducted when she was fifteen, and nobody noticed. This happened a long time ago, in Surrey, in the nineteen-sixties, when parents were more careless.

Of course, this journalistic style is immediately obstructed by Hadley diving into Jane’s mind:

She was home from boarding school for the summer, and day after day the sun rose into a cloudless sky, from which Jane couldn’t unfix the word “cerulean” which she’d learned in the art room. (She wasn’t clever or literary, and was nervous of new words, which seemed to stick to her.)

The story goes on to account the case of her abduction, which is perhaps misidentified as such for Jane willingly joins her abductors, a trio of college boys out looking for girls who declare upon seeing her that “she’ll do”, a back-handed insult that Jane ignores. There are some wonderful excursions into the minds of other characters, with shifts in POV managed with an amazing grace. I fully expect this story to end up in the 2013 Best American Short Stories anthology.

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