Connecting with Brian Kiteley’s “Dr. Black”

by Brooke Allen  ·  April 29, 2018

Getting older is a way of life. It’s just the way it is. Adults fear each coming birthday, but children celebrate them. Children love the idea of growing older. Teenagers sneak out from their warm homes just to attend the wild parties where all the popular students will be. But, is growing up as great as they believe it is?

In “Dr. Black” first published in Volume, 17, number 3, by Brian Kiteley, the narrator buries his deceased daughter in the woods near his house. In this flash fiction piece, adult situations are blended with child-like details. For example, as Dr. Black buries his child, two little girls appear and: “They smelled of a powdery substance Dr. Black ate as a child.” As death circles the scene, these children appear to create a contrasting innocent atmosphere.

But, maybe they’re not so innocent.

One little girl is wearing a leather jacket. The adult material catches Dr. Black’s eyes, and he describes it as, “black leather on so young a creature.” This “young creature” has been forced into an adult situation, but isn’t it peculiar how she dresses like an adult? These little girls walked into the woods knowing the possible dangers they could find. Instead of remaining safely inside their mother’s arms, they ventured out into the dark world to find mischief. They wanted to find adulthood.

When the young girl wearing the leather coat speaks to Dr. Black, she speaks in a language he does not understand. This offers another contrast between a child and an adult. Dr. Black has lost all innocence with adulthood and speaks differently from the children. The little girl is striving for maturity, but her age preserves her innocence. Children and adults speak completely different languages because of the years between them. I will never remember all the thoughts I had as a child, because my brain is completely rewired now. I speak a new language.

Growing up too fast could mean an innocent’s demise. Just look at Dr. Black’s daughter. She stays up late watching TV with her parents. When Dr. Black wakes up, his daughter is dead on the couch. Children should go to bed early and not stay awake late like adults do.

So many children desire an older age. They forget to enjoy their youth. I was guilty of this as well. I couldn’t wait to turn 16 and be able to drive a car, or turn 18 and be able to vote, or turn 21 and be able to drink. I was always looking forward to the birthdays where my life would forever transform.

Some things never change.

Brooke Allen is a student at Georgia State University pursuing a degree in Creative Writing. She hopes to become an editor and script writer after graduation.

Photo courtesy of: Jones, Jordan. “Desolation | The North Realm.” Pinterest.