This post is part of a series on the 2020 BBC National Short Story Award.
Nine members of an Irish family head out for a picnic to celebrate William’s birthday. Right from the start, there are power games to play:
There’s a stand-off in the front yard. No significant progress can be made until the men decide who’s driving. It’s the same every time we go anywhere together.
William’s younger son, Buff, tends to be overlooked, never having quite achieved as much in his parents’ eyes as his brother. But Buff’s wife Victoria (our narrator) hopes to change that: she plans to announce today that she’s pregnant, and is sure that this news will alter the balance of favour within the family. But the weather won’t play along with what Victoria has in mind…
Jan Carson’s story revolves around the subtly shifting dynamics of this family. She packs a lot into an essentially mundane situation, and you really get a sense of the currents and hierarchies at work.