Short Story: “At the Trail of the Sand Dunes” by Billie Adwoa McTernan
This short story of a passionate tryst between two strangers may technically be a romance, but it is anything but romantic. Although the interactions of this one-time couple are at the center of the plot, it is the inward dialogues of the characters that the meat of the story can be found. The characters meet by happenstance and share a romantic and sexual experience that is outwardly casual, but inwardly causes them to pause and reflect upon their own situations in life. This nuanced romance becomes a story of freedom and constraint, self-doubt and loneliness. By juxtaposing these personal thoughts of failure, unhappiness and loneliness against their lively and passionate, yet impersonal evening together, McTernan points out the paradox of intimacy in an increasingly interconnected yet isolating world. McTernan’s writing jumps effortlessly between the perspectives of the two characters, creating a layered and nuanced plot that intrigues and, at the very end, shocks.