In relationships, there tends to be an ignorance of the possibilities of emotional abuse. Typically, families accept it as normal after being weaned into it through a gradual increase of manipulation. “Autumn Sky” exemplifies just that through its example of a middle-aged wife struggling to feel safe in her own home.
I love this short story for how it portrays abuse as just more than a physical thing; it can involve sexual, emotional, and verbal abuse as well. Through all of Julia’s trials, Pryke handles the subject of abuse with care, explaining its every facet to her reader. Her husband’s threats and accusations seem to be Julia’s typical day, no more out of the ordinary than a hug or kiss. The descriptions of her behaviors, from collecting receipts to endlessly cleaning, show her disheveled, broken character.
As an educational piece, “Autumn Sky” does fantastically. It informs the reader of a scope of issues with emotional abuse but keeps them interested through the plot and manipulation of Julia’s husband. The piece ends on a higher note, but often, emotional abuse ends poorly or, even after divorce, brings pain and heartbreak. It would be interesting for Pryke to explore this further, perhaps in a longer piece.
All in all, I mark this a PLEASE READ and encourage my readers to check it out! “Autumn Sky” is free to read in the Amazon Kindle store, linked here, which is accessible on any device.