Connecting with Stacey Grimes’s “Zig Zag Lane”

by Ra'Niqua Lee  ·  November 14, 2016

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“Things that get hit by cars: cats, dogs, robins. Joggers, children on bicycles. Ants, beetles, spiders. Ponies, cows. Hawks, eagles, doves. Wooly bears and other caterpillars. Styrofoam soda cups, but Styrofoam soda cups don’t feel pain.”

Stacy Grimes’s short story, “Zig Zag Lane,” first published in Five Points Vol. 12 No. 2, begins with Deb, a woman who witnesses the accidental killing of a snake. As she watches the snake thrash and writhe in the road from the safety of her car, guilt causes her to wonder what she could have done to prevent his death.

Later, a different woman, Big Sara, treats a wounded snake in her bathroom. Big Sara has run over the snake with her lawn mower, and she works quickly to clean the gash while the snake explores the foreign territory of her bathroom sink. Big Sara connects with the snake in their shared moment.

“The snake struck at its reflection, and when it did, the mirror moved. Now [Big Sara] could see the snake in the mirror, and the snake could see her in the mirror. They looked at each other for a long moment. The snake seemed to understand.”

Accidents, guilt, and hope for forgiveness drive the story forward, and Grimes’s subtle questioning of engendered guilt and emotion is particularly interesting. As Big Sara says, “Everything dies.” Man or woman, old or young, human or any other species on the taxonomy pyramid—we share the same fate in the end. We are all connected and our paths wind and converge like the coil of the dying snake and the twisting and curving of Zig Zag Lane.