For the short story reader. Updated every Monday.

The Short Form

“Death in Miami Beach”

Herbert Gold


In love, we seek freedom and purity even more than the comfort of diminished isolation. Those few fortunate ones who have the talent can bear the paradox of love. The rest of us are harassed by our contradictory demands—join me, make me free. With age and ageing, the model of all voyages (learn and grow, diminish and weary), comes final approach to the ultimate simplicity which love seeks to confound—death. A paradox forever out of balance to answer a grave black simplicity: we are ill used. The facts we make for ourselves disappoint the intentions with which we make them. The opposable thumb, which is said to be responsible for civilisation and history, gives us no answers here, though with it we can grasp our pens and break insects in our hands. Finally we die, opposable thumbs and all.

We read it in The Age of Happy Problems.

Originally published in Encounter: April 1961.