The story “Willa” takes place near Crowheart Springs in Wyoming. David Sanderson notices the absence of his girlfriend Willa. He and a few others are waiting for a pick-up train in the station of the small town. He asks several people and it becomes clear, that she has gone into town, which is dangerous since there are wolves outside. David decides to look for her, against the warnings of the people in the station. Walking along the only lonely road he sees a wolf, which is scared of him. Without wondering about that David reaches a honkey-tonk bar, where “The Derailers” are playing that evening. Without paying David walks in and finds Willa. They talk about music and mirrors and Willa explains the effects of perception and expectation. Slowly it becomes clear that they both died a long time ago and that they are ghosts. The pick-up train the people are waiting for in the station will not arrive as the train they have been traveling with derailed. With the knowledge that David is already dead, he can remember the derailment. Together they walk back to the station. It becomes obvious that David and Willa think they live in a completely different time while they are already in the year 2006. At that point David is able to see different stages of the station building. In the year 2006 the building is struggling to keep up its appearance. To their horror they discover a sign which says, that the building shall be demolished in June 2007. Inside nobody believes them. Willa and David try to do their best to convince the travellers but except for a child nobody believes them. Together they walk back into town to see “The Derailers” again, while they wonder if the group succeeds in making the train arrive with their will power.

My impression

This is the first short story of Stephen King I have ever read. It is written in a simple style and without many stylistic devices. The third person narrator is linked with David’s point of view. While David is described in a natural and human way, Willa seems to be strange at first sight. The plot shows parallels with “The Sixth Sense” with Bruce Willis. At first, the reader asks himself, what the creepy event of the short story might be. Since the reader slowly gets the idea, that they aren’t alive anymore, and the main characters see the positive aspect of being a ghost, there isn’t too much horror effect left. I enjoyed reading the story, because Stephen King invites the reader to an experiment of thoughts – what it would be like to be a ghost- and tries to show the positive aspects of being a ghost.

In my opinion this quotation sums up the idea of the story quite well:

“Succinct, fast-moving …. This collection’s most successful stories start unprepossessingly but then head for unknown territory, off in the far reaches of Mr. King’s imagination.” – Janet Maslin, The New York Times


2 Responses to “Willa”

  1. Basil McJagger Says:

    The Derailers are a real band. I play piano and organ for them. We are based in Austin Texas. Stephen King wrote about our song “Hey Valerie” in Entertainment Weekly.

    All of us in the band are very much still alive.

    I thought it might be nice to let you know that little detail is based on fact.


  2. en2kn Says:

    Dear Jan,
    I like it how creative these stories are!! That maybe sounds a little weird but it’s not that common to read stories that are so unpredictable so I think you had a really good time reading it 😀
    I read all the summaries of the short stories but this is the one that I liked most, mainly the mix of a story that seems to be quite authentic and a supernatural element.
    Good language!

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