This is… nice, by which I mostly mean sad. Good variations on themes of solitude, guardedness, and repressed need; pretty and stoic. But man, those last two sentences — would anybody make a case for their inclusion not being a mistake? Sorry, but I get a bit put out when short stories explain the significance of self-evident details and especially when, as happens here, the conclusion of the story seems to function similarly to the “restate thesis” part of the five paragraph essay.
Oh, but so far this Politics Issue of the NYer is really good; you should really read George Packer’s What’s the Matter with Rural Ohio piece in all its racial, cultural, educational, class-different maddening glory.