Here is Where, by Morgan Omotoye, is billed as the eighth novellete published by Open Pen. These neatly packaged literary gems aim to encourage ‘growth within our talented, fertile, literary underbelly.’ This latest work is the author’s debut, a deliciously incendiary tale of unrequited love, narrated retrospectively.
As the blurb on the back cover states, Pacific Hale is in love with her best friend, Dorothy Shu. They talk on the phone late into the night, often about one of Dorothy’s recent dating experiences. Pacific is required only to be a listening ear, to make encouraging noises as though interested in whatever detail is being relayed. Her mind wanders into fantasy at times. On one memorable occasion she becomes so distracted that she responds with a witticism that makes her laugh. This does not go down well with Dorothy.
Weeks pass during which Pacific pines. Her mother worries about her wellbeing. Important schoolwork is neglected. When Dorothy eventually calls again, Pacific is beside herself with relief, rushing to do her friend’s bidding – until she comes to realise what has been planned and why.
Along the way the reader is offered snippets of Pacific’s past and future. The tale being told evokes all the insular awkwardness of teenage thought and behaviour. Much is conveyed by the posters chosen to grace bedroom walls, and the mixtape Pacific is creating for Dorothy, carefully recorded from the radio and edited on a double tape deck. The girls talk yet never really share how they feel. They are works in progress, aspiring to copycat images of those they admire.
Although just over one hundred pages in length, this is a story with vivid depth. Supporting characters offer a wider dimension. I was particularly drawn to Pacific’s fondness for Dorothy’s family, of whom in reality she knew little. All was reminiscent of being a teenager and the challenges of surviving on one side of a valued yet uneven friendship.
I advise checking out each of these pocket sized, subversive publications. They are well worth reading.
The Open Pen Novelettes
Shitstorm by Fernando Sdrigotti
One Thing by Xanthi Barker
The Prick by Mazin Saleem
In Lieu of a Memoir by Tadhg Muller
Never Seen the Sea by Holly Watson
Bad Boy Poet by Scott Manley Hadley
Not Far From the Junction by Will Ashon
You Ruin It When You Talk by Sarah Manvel
Here is Where by Morgan Omotoye
Still to come
I, Nerd by Max Sydney Smith
Good Choices by Bonny Brooks