I get a recall notice for a hairdryer I bought and never use. The notice says that there have been a few incidents of the dryer blowing up while in use. Reports of hospitalization. They note that they being are required to recommend that consumers stop use of the product immediately. They are not telling me to stop, they assure me; they are just letting me know what they are being made to do. A required recommendation. Letter of the law. Use away.
I think of writing a story, about a girl who is given a hairdryer for her birthday, from her aunt. The aunt is the one who gets a recall email, a year after the fact. She ignores it, or she reads it and thinks, it’s no big deal. Skimming. Delete. A few weeks later, a phone call. Her niece’s hairdryer blew up while she was using it. It exploded in her face. The niece is in the hospital. She’s lost her sight. The aunt digs up the email again. Reading it closer—reading it. She is horrified.
The story can end there, or/but what happens next? Does the aunt confess? Does she carry her black deed and her guilt silently, becoming more anxious and depressed and withdrawn as each day passes? She can never be forgiven; she can never forgive herself.
Maybe the niece, though, thrives on being blind. Maybe she gets to be on national television, thus fulfilling a lifelong dream. Maybe the how is a small matter, as long as it happens. Like the mom who didn’t care that her sons were lying, only that it was getting them—all of them—on TV. It was so exciting. In the moment. She even managed to cry for the cameras.