Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?
Joyce Carol Oates
One of our deepest social fears is getting what we want.
Opening the door and facing our strongest desires manifested is the surest way of freaking us out. There’s a reason that one of the most stereotypical curses you can throw into a piece is may you get what you wish for. Most of the time what we want isn’t what we think we want, but we’re too busy or too afraid to pick apart our desires to get at the basis of our longings. We stick with the surface because the surface is easier.
So then we do open the door one day and look at our desire smack in the face and it scares the everloving crap out of us. Joyce Carol Oates has long been one of my favorite horror authors, because she’s so capable of writing creepy, unsettling fiction without telling the reader, here, right here is that thing that’s supposed to scare you.
Connie is a young creature full of the desires that young creatures tend to be full of. However, she’s also at that age where she’s beginning to be aware that the world is not the shining thing she thinks it is and that’s part of where her tension comes from. Connie knows that she doesn’t want to be like her poor, sad, plain sister and she suspects that she’s pretty enough to be set apart from her. But then she’s slammed with the realization that the world is in fact not a toy-that she is probably the toy herself for all of the reasons that make her special. Who the stranger is doesn’t matter all, what matters is that this is the twisted end to the road she’s put herself on.