the short story project


Giovanna Rivero On:

Invitation by Claudia Hernández

Imagine that one apparently nondescript, rainy afternoon, the famous phrase ‘we all have an inner child’ were to casually become a reality. Imagine that that boy or girl knocks on the door, calls out to you and insists on a meeting. Will it be a pleasant encounter? A settling of debts? A reconciliation? Perhaps a formal expression of the unequal relationship between an adult and the child of limitless, fantastic potential we once were? Or is it all just a senile hallucination? Redemption? A trap? A passage to something else? In this unsettling story by Claudia Hernández, “Invitation”, all of these scenarios are entirely possible. The Freudian concept of heimlich  –  the strange secret that reveals itself in the midst of familiar things that suddenly makes the everyday world seem uncanny – would appear to be at the heart of this excellent story. Its best quality, however, is that it avoids the temptation of a simple, sentimental climax and instead warns us of the enormous risk we run if we decide to open the can of worms that is the terrible paradise of childhood. No worthwhile revenant can be restored with good intentions, or the death of childhood, and Hernández knows that very well. Now that quantum thinking has established itself in the 21st Century imagination, it occurs to me that ‘Invitation’ is that too: a fantastic and irresistible invitation to reconnect with our alternative selves – not the ego, but the spirit – and take a peep at all the potential fates that might still be ours, even if it means making some painful changes.