20 March 2013

The Present is Tense

by Robert Lopresti

I am happy to report that the new issue of The Strand Magazine is out.  I haven't seen it yet, but unless the editors are playing a cruel joke on me, it features "The Present," by yours truly.  This is my first appearance in The Strand, and I think John Floyd is the only other member of our little band to show up in those pages so far.

So, what's the story about?  A woman named Maggie goes to the mall to buy a birthday present for her son, and while there she sees a couple of people and -- well, she gets a sense that I think parents are particularly susceptible to; namely, that something is wrong with this picture.

I remember attending a science fiction convention when my daughter was about six.  Such conventions tend to be very friendly places and at one point we were in a hospitality room and my kid was chatting pleasantly enough with a stranger.  I had to leave for a minute and I turned to my wife and said "See that guy?  For all I know he's the nicest person on earth, but don't leave him alone with her."

When I got back my wife told me she had gotten the same creeped-out feeling about the guy.  I have no idea if it was justified.

But that feeling is not where "The Present" comes from.  It actually grew from the last scene, a scene that I suspect is played out a number of times in this country every year.  I wanted to write a story that allowed me to use that last scene.  If you read it I think you'll understand what I'm talking about.

One more thing about "The Present."  It is the first story I have ever written that my eighth grade English teacher might like.  You see, it's full of Meanings.

Now, I have occasionally used a bit of symbolism in a story, but in this one I went hidden-depths-crazy.  Rest assured you can enjoy the story just fine without noticing them, but if you want to unleash your inner English teacher out, here's a chance to give him or her some exercise.

In any case, I hope you enjoy the tale.


  1. Congrats. I need to find a copy. But I relate to your comments regarding English teachers. My frosh year in College my Prof wanted to know if those were really my words in describing some civil rights issue in one of the top news magazines at that time. It was too original. She also read a few of my efforts in front of the class and praised them. Guess what my semester grade was? "C." Next semester, with a dfferent Prof I got an "A." Go figure. Yours truly, Toe.

  2. Rob, congratulations on your first appearance in STRAND. I know the feeling you mention about your six-year-old. I had that when my sons were little. Now my grandson is thirteen, and I still get that feeling sometime. He calls me "strict." I consider myself "careful." I look forward to the story.

    Toe, on behalf of those teachers who don't quelch student creativity, tie their students in chairs, lock them in closets, or sexually assault them, I apologize for all the perverted idiots that show up not only CNN, but also in our lives.

    In the tenth grade, I turned in an essay that the teacher gave back with a note. "I don't understand this. Please submit another work for grading." Made me so mad that I sent it off to a magazine and the piece was published.

  3. Congratulations!

  4. Congrats, Rob! I hope this appearance in The Strand is the first of many.

    I look forward to reading your story.

  5. Congratulations! Followed by envy. Followed by admiration, and anticipation.

  6. Your posts does a great job of making me want to read the story!

  7. Congratulations, Rob. But I'm not surprised. If I can't find an issue, maybe I can get it on-line.

  8. Way to go, Rob. You're on a roll. Keep on doing what you're doing. It's working.

  9. Rob,
    Congratulations on the STRAND publication! I'm another STRAND alumnus. It's a very nice credit to have.

  10. I figured if I had missed a Strand-contributor in our crowd I would be duly informed. Thanks, Terence.

    My 8th grade teacher was not at all a bad guy. He just wanted us to find the Author's Message. Remember the Woody Allen play where the author's message is delivered by a Western Union boy on a bicycle?

  11. Just came home to find an acceptance note from a different new magazine. Quite an interesting year....

  12. Congratulations, BOB! I look forward to reading it.


  13. Excellent news! I look forward to reading "The Present."


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