This story by Tsetsi won the 2006 Storyglossia Fiction Prize, and was published in Issue 16 in late October and beat out some damn fine competition. Reading through this story, it becomes clear that the story is deserving of the status editor Steven J. McDermott afforded it.
Tsetsi's story is great on many levels: it tells a story almost never told - that of one waiting behind while her husband is at war, as opposed to the more common story of the soldier himself; the great little details Tsetsi includes (examples below); and also, those details she left up to the reader to come up with on their own (which I know from reading his blog is a huge plus in the mind of Storyglossia).
As stated, the story is told from the viewpoint of Nan, one whose husband (re-reading it, I'm assuming husband and not boyfriend), Marc, is over in Iraq and not due back for quite some time. She works as a desk manager at a hotel and happens to be on duty when a solider on leave is checking in with his fiancee. Noticing the manager has screwed them over, tacking on an additional $50 to the regular room rate having noticed it was a soldier on leave, she creates a scenario that places them in a nicer room than originally reserved. From there Nan recalls Marc vicariously through Tanner, the soldier.
Nice usage of small details: the plastic plate the Chinese food is on, noticing the television anchor smiling in between stories of ied's exploding in Iraq and American obesity, the floor Nan dives onto late in the story smelling like dust, and the list goes on. Tsetsi is very observant with her writing, and these little touches go a long way into creating the scenarios written about.
There are many scenes though where she is more than content to allow her readers to connect the dots on their own - and based on a lot of what I read these days, that's a difficult task for a writer, as most are willing to tell the reader everything happening, how it is happening, and what the characters are thinking when the things are happening. Tsetsi never goes into great detail about Marc, just mentioning him two or three times, and almost always in reference to something she notices about Tanner.
There is also a scene where the young couple arrives back at the hotel shortly after going out for dinner that first night they're together and Nan is trapped in their room, having gone into try to capture some of Marc through Tanner's things. A conversation between Tanner and Jennie, the fiancee, occurs while Nan is stuck under their bed which the reader ends up connecting the dots as to what is going on through Nan's interpretation. This also leads up to a gripping finale, and again, Tsetsi starts the ball rolling, getting things to an emotional high, and then ends the story, not afraid to leave her readers without a pat ending.
A great choice by McDermott.