It Gets Easier

a Short Tale of Comical Catastrophe

He'd never guess that his very courage to commit could be the cause of his own downfall.

* 2nd Prize International Short Fiction Award, Writers' Village, Winter 2015
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It Gets Easier

He'd never guess that his very courage to commit could be the cause of his own downfall.

Jake's loved and lost, suffered failed relationships and felt real sorrow, but the new girl in his life may just be the one to finally put an end to that life.

His girlfriend Samantha is sweet and kind, full of joy, and the kind of girl Jake can be perfectly content sitting in complete silence with. It's so comfortable, so easy, to fall completely for her. In fact, Jake would do anything for Samantha, anything at all.

Just returned from attending Samantha's family reunion, Jake's high as a kite, basking in the realization that he's been officially accepted as one of the family. He can't believe his luck, especially as he's driving off into the sunset with Samantha herself and so looking forward to those precious, anticipated moments alone with her. What could possibly go wrong?

Thump thump resonates from the trunk of the car as they speed along the highway together.

Thump thump.

He falls head over heels for her... but not exactly in the way he intended.

It gets easier. The words echoed through Jake's mind, soothing and sweet. His new mantra.

He stole a few seconds from the task of watching the view ahead and exchanged them for another glance at Samantha in the passenger seat beside him. She was so beautiful, so full of life, and possibly the one.

It gets easier.

Jake knew loss better than he knew love. Quick, familiar flashes of the faces of the girls in his past hovered in his view as he stared over the steering wheel, his mind still busily anticipating the actions of every driver and vehicle on the highway ahead. He took his position in the driver's seat very seriously, especially with Samantha sitting beside him. He didn't want any harm to come to her at all, not by the ignorant actions of the other drivers on the road and definitely not when he was personally responsible for her safety.

"Slow down! You're tailgating," Samantha's bow-shaped mouth warned, subtly dominant but still sweet.

Jake loved the girlish way his girlfriend's eyes sparkled at any excitement, whether she was inspired with a devilish idea or even a bit frightened.

"I've got it," Jake reassured with just a touch of teasing in his tone. "My foot was on the brake. I was watching him."

"Well, you better be. If anything happens to Mom's car..."

"Don't worry. I'm a superb driver. I've got it."

Samantha turned toward Jake and smiled at him. He felt the instant warmth on his cheek; it tingled the skin beneath the downy hairs on his neck. It made his heart skip a beat.

It was easier, this time. He could open up his heart again, let her in. He could love her forever.

Jake's eyes followed the bumpers of the cars speeding past in the fast lane as he drove extra carefully just for Samantha. He knew what a big step it was to earn her mother's respect and trust, and he wasn't going to mess it up. Not for anything.

"Whoa... did you see that guy! He nearly nicked that Toyota's bumper as he changed lanes!" Samantha's eyes were wide with disbelief, and Jake fell for her just a little bit more.

He loved the way she drew a deep breath before shouting, as if she required the extra energy before accusing another bad driver of wrongdoing. She was adorable through and through. From her golden hair pulled back in a playful ponytail all the way to the tips of her pastel-painted toenails, she was sunshine itself all bottled up in the perfect little body.

"Yeah," Jake agreed, pulling himself out of the pleasant distraction of his brief daydream. "He was in some hurry, wasn't he."

"Geez. He could've killed someone... can you imagine if he'd clipped the front of Mom's car! Oh, she would have a—"

"A cow?"

Jake's wish came true; the song of Samantha's laughter unfolded, filling up the car and making Jake's heart go thumpety-thump.

"You're ridiculous," she said as her laughter trailed off. "And you have no idea how my Mom is about this car."

"Really? She doesn't seem—"

"You didn't notice how perfect everything was around the house? How everything was laid out like it was plotted out on a map, and there wasn't a speck of dust or dirt to be found, even though everything was set up outside?" ....

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Listen to a sample of the story...

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Narrated by:

Alex Knox. Knox is a classically trained American actor and graduate of the Yale School of Drama who has narrated and produced audiobooks in a variety of genres. He has performed in the country's top regional theaters, including the Pasadena Playhouse, South Coast Repertory, and Yale Repertory Theatre. Alex wrote and performed "No Static at All," a one-man play about finding spiritual enlightenment in the music of Steely Dan. The show has performed to sold-out houses in New York (earning a 5-star review from Time Out magazine), Seattle, and Los Angeles. He has been awarded the Stanley Glenn Award and the Hollywood Fringe Festival "Best Solo Performance." (Site, IMDB)

Editorial Reviews

The more we lie the easier it becomes to lie. The steps away from truth lead us into chaos and the more we take them the easier and easier they get. Until finally we become numb to truth. Utter horror becomes humdrum. Herein lies our descent from innocence to guilt, from heaven to hell. It's a macabre tail but a true tail. Justine Avery tells it like it is. And so well.

Justine Avery’s short story, It Gets Easier: A Short Tale of Comical Catastrophe, is a fascinating fictional work. The story begins with Jake repeating his newly-conceived mantra, “It Gets Easier.” He is driving his girlfriend Samantha to an outlying reservoir, in her mother’s borrowed car. Although Samantha seems anxious, wanting to make sure he does not have an accident and cause damage to her mother’s car, there is also a comfortable, easy feeling between the two characters. He is feeling confident in their growing relationship, silently contemplating their future together. The intriguing story continues ... and ends with the mantra, “It Gets Easier.”

The art of writing a short story includes the elements of character, setting, plot and conflict; Justine Avery skillfully molds these elements together in her fictional short story. Ms. Avery is certainly a master writer in the short story genre. In just a few pages, the reader has a good understanding of the two characters, the car in which they ride, and the area where they park. The plot and conflict are revealed – this review will not include a spoiler, you simply have to read the story. One way to judge a superb short story is the “unexpected twist” test. The reader should want to re-read the story immediately, to see all the overlooked subtle hints and clues. Ms. Avery’s short story met this test. It is an exciting and surprising romp that the short story lover will not want to miss!

A teasing story that begins deceptively as a teen romance and segues by many a clever twist into noir comedy and horror. It confutes the reader's expectations all the way to a shocking close.

Reader Reviews

This book has a Creative and effective balance between action and dialogue Justine Avery, transitions It Gets Easier from a romantic drive to a ruinous discovery. I love the Plot twists as the reader learns that the couple may not know one another to the extent that is originally portrayed. The changes of the story had my more anxious to read it even more I stay up late nights just to finish the whole book I love it A+±++++ it's a must buy! I highly recommend this book!

Murder Mystery with a twist.

It is such a well written book! It is extremely descriptive, I especially love the way the authors plunges into the murder. Ahhh! I adore murder mysteries. I am so much into murder and mystery combined with a twist of love that this was up my cold blooded ally!


This book is way richer than you would think because of its size. You will get more from this story than novels 10 times its size.

The story starts off soft but without ruining it for you its change A LOT.

I am going to be reading a lot more of Justine's stuff for sure.

As a fan of Justine Avery's work, this short story finds itself lovingly out of place (seemingly) among the rest of her literary canon, however, once you keep reading, you realize it's a true Avery work. Jake and Samantha are cutely flirting and getting more and more serious--a typical light romance blended with the pace of short storytelling that says just enough to keep you interested. However, with one quick turn of the page, Avery pulls the rug out from under the reader and quirky little romance turns into...well, you'll just have to see for yourself! I never thought 20 pages could keep me engaged so well, and turn a romance into a suspenseful tale like that, however, that's what Avery does best. Knowing she's the queen of the twist enables you to take on the variety of genres she tackles with the anticipation of an out of the blue turn that keeps you engaged. As a first time reader, one could easily get into reading all of her books in order to witness just how skillfully she blends genres and keeps you guessing. You'd think that a writer who relies on twists would start to run out of interesting ways to play them up, however, Avery seems to have a whole bag full and I hope she keeps writing more and more!!

Twisted Tales

'It Gets Easier' seemed to be centered around a young man who had once given up on love but then found who he thought was "the one." If a woman wants to know what goes on in a mans mind when he is interested in her, Justine Avery provides a great depiction. The story starts off with the young couple spending quality time together. While Jake has had many failed relationships, he is sure that he and Samantha will work out because, 'It Gets Easier' as she says.

After attending a family reunion with Samantha, Jake believes that this could turn into something long term during their car ride home. All seems to be going well, enjoying one another's company. Jake thought he would never feel this way about anyone, that he would never find love again. Jake is so desperate for love that he is willing to do anything.

Then it happened; Samantha is not who she seems to be and neither is her mother. They are keeping some deep and dark secrets that Jake has willingly become a part of it. Jake's quest for love has landed him in high water this time.

'It Gets Easier' is a compelling read and is sure to grab your attention. With rousing characters and an intriguing plot twist, this book pulls you in and leaves you wanting to read more! I definitely recommend this book as a good read.

Short and enticing

Short and enticingGave it five stars because it was a short read, precise and well written.

Justine has a way with words very descriptive the way he describes Samantha I didn't expect it to end like that!!!

Highly recommend anyone who loves good story telling to read this short book.

Shocking and unexpected!!

I absolutely only enjoyed this story. I love reading short tales, but I didn't expect it to be as short as it was.

Justine Avery knows how to shock her readers in such a short amount of reading. I was honestly not expecting this shocking plot twist from what started as a sweet beginning.

I would love for the author to make a book filled with a collection of her short stories. It seems to me, She knows how to write a thrilling tale!

Just what the doctor ordered! It Gets Easier was recommended to me by my best friend and I decided to dive in when I had a day off from work.

This short story tugged on a bunch of different emotions in its 14 pages and was definitely worth the read. The plot twist in the middle came completely out of left field but did make sense given some of the foreshadowing (hindsight is always 20/20).

In only a short amount of time (and pages), Justine Avery captured my attention and I hope she decides to start writing longer stories where she has a chance to truly develop more character depth!

Justine Avery is an absolute literary genius. I have read every one of her short stories and It Gets Easier is definitely at the top of my list for being one of my favorite! The story starts out as somewhat of a love story, and just as things are going so well for the couple, they are moving directly to a major plot change. I especially like It Gets Easier because the switch in the plot was not predictable at all. I was shocked! You're going to love this short story. It literally has something for everyone. Romance and suspense are both portrayed perfectly throughout the short story! Being such an easy read, you'll get hooked from the first chapter and you won't want to get up until you're finished. Can't wait to read the next one by Justine Avery.

Nice imaginative style from the author, she pulls you right in and then ends with a nice climax that ties everything in well. I thoroughly enjoyed this fun read

While not usually the kind of story I go for, I decided to purchase this based on the title.

The title itself speaks of hope and I was not wrong.

I was quite surprised with the twist, this is the first time I've read a story by Justine, but I certainly will check out her other stories,

hoping they will be as good as this one.

Young love is a delight to read, and without wanting to give too much away, I would definitely recommend this book.


This book is wonderful. I'll admit in the beginning, it seemed the teenage love story didn't at all match the cover or title, but it all ties in together so masterfully. The style is fresh and new but at the same time very familiar. If you're a Steven King fan, this writing will definitely speak to you. Such a creative take on an age-old concept! Loved it!

Surprising ending!

This story has a great opening. It catches me immediately, introducing our main character without any fuss.

As it goes on to describe the relationship between Jake and Samantha I was further sucked in, however as it continued, regaling us with every thought Jake has on the subject and how he loves Samantha's every move I found myself thinking, "Okay, we get it, he loves her."

I also found the idea that a woman who would invite a man to a family reunion wouldn't already know what he did for a living extremely jarring and unbelievable. That's a first date question. However that seemed less unbelievable and just less important once I got to the end. It clearly set up a situation in which you would be suspicious of Jake.

Because of that, I was expecting some shenanigans. But -without spoiling the ending- I was expecting it to go the direction it did, but not the way it did.

I feel bad for Jake. Definitely a good short story. I recommend it.

At first glance, you'll think It Gets Easier by Justine Avery is a cute little love story about a broken boy who had finally found love again, but with in these short pages, you will see how completely and utterly wrong you are.

Samantha is the perfect girl, and after meeting her family Jake is happy to finally be in a relationship that he sees going somewhere. As the couple drives off into the sunset feeling truly in love, until things go way way bad.

Shock, confusion and disbelief will be the three main words that you will feel as you read this short story. I'm not much of a short story lover myself, but Avery knows how to kick it in gear very quickly, and the twists pop off like fireworks keeping you intrigued the entire time.

The ending is one you won't see coming, but you will thoroughly enjoy the ride there. I give this book 4 out of 5 stars, I think Avery could work on character development, but other than that this was a winner in my book.

I enjoyed this short story. In just a few pages the author was able to present; a compelling story, memorable characters and a plot twist I didn't see coming.

The author has a way of making a very twisted story appear out of no where. The story started out so innocently, but in a few short pages, it turned very dark. The author very cleverly crafted the title of the book throughout the story which is always a very interesting thing to experience especially when done well. I think that this book overall was quite interesting; You go from thinking this is just a nice little story to something very different by the end. I think that there could definitely be sequels made of this book. Overall, I recommend.

You won't guess the end of it

Intriguing short story. Gets you cozy before the surprising twist. Love, drama and dark comedy, all in one in just couple of pages.

Justine Avery does it again - she has come out with another short story that amazes me with its depth. Even though this is a short tale, it is full of detail and provides a good read. You can tell that the author takes a lot of pride in what she does and it comes through in the care she takes with crafting each work. The great thing about a shorter piece of work is that you can read it in one sitting - on your lunch break and while commuting to work on the bus.

As for the story itself, the dialogue was written with a very natural flow as if the characters really were having the conversation as they drove along. It all sounded very true-to-life. I loved the plot twist during the middle of the tale. It gave me quite the chuckle and was certainly an unexpected surprise. Then the twist upon the twist was hilarious!

I can't wait to read more of Justine's work. This is the second piece I've read by her and even though both were so very different, they were both enjoyable.

Yet another incredible book by Justine Avery! It Gets Easier, like Justine's other books, is a simple but expertly delivered short story. It starts out lighthearted and almost fluffy, but quickly takes a dark turn. Later, just when you think that the surprises are done, this story gives the reader one more dark element.

In essence, the story is about a boy who thinks that his new girlfriend is perfect. He thinks she might even be the one that he ends up with forever. He is willing to do anything to gain her and her family's approval. All of these thoughts and concerns take place over a harmless drive to an abandoned reservoir. Upon arrival, something very different than the boy's expectations happens.

All around, this piece is well planned and masterfully told. It is comical by its abruptness, and has you laughing even as it shocks you. It Gets Easier is a very short story, but just like Justine's other works, is still fun to read. Its lack of filler and simple style is a joy to read.

Despite the dark shocks towards the end, I recommend that you read it more than once. It gets easier.

I wasn't sure what to expect when I first began to read this short story. I was pleasantly surprised by the humor, cleverness, and suspense that permeated the entirety of the piece. The writing is engaging, concise, and gripping. Despite the brevity of the story, I found myself entering into this fictional realm with eagerness to find out what was happening beneath the surface of a seemingly innocuous premise. Justine infuses a stark sense of dubiety throughout the unraveling interactions and gradual revealing of the intentions of the two main characters. Her command of dialogue is clearly on display here as well. It is through this dialogue, or lack thereof at particular moments, that keeps the reader intrigued by the characters' relationship. This story subverts romantic clichés by adding nuance and dimension to the characters' personalities that make the story come alive. I was very pleased by how it concluded and look forward to reading more of her work. A very fun and unpredictable read!

“When the hidden masks of The Known, dwell inside the unknown corners of your life.”

Justine Avery’s “It Gets Easier” is a book that is impossible to put down until its resolution. Like Avery’s previous works, the text is able to make the reader stick till the very last word leaving them wanting more. The story is full of plot twists and the way Avery slides between Romance and Thriller is remarkable.

The story opens with Jake taking his girlfriend on a drive. It gives the readers the comfort of reading romance as Jake appreciates his girl’s laugh and her other imperfect perfections. He concludes that he might fall in love with her but little did he know that life had something else planned for him. Nothing is actually the way it seems, is it?

Avery seems to have found a way of knitting Thriller and Romance together in a satisfying way and the story is full of potential. A good read altogether.

While It Gets Easier by Justine Avery is a really short story, it has multiple plot twists and elements of a full size novel making it an enjoyable read.

In the very beginning readers are introduced to the main characters: Jake and Samantha. It starts off sweet, Jake is really trying to make it work with his girlfriend, Samantha, and they are riding in a car together. Both of these characters are relatable and seem innocent in the beginning. Then, start the twists. They were unpredictable and added an element of dark humor to the story.

Overall, this story is a quick and easy read and you will enjoy every minute. I'm looking forward to reading more from this author.

This is a short read. Dark and comic. Something for the times when your up late in bed or your snuggled up in the corner of an airport. Most of the story takes place in a car moving through the night. Which is an adapt metaphor for the writing itself. The pace is quick and you feel safe inside the car with the characters, but you know your surrounded by darkness. Some of the descriptions are pure fun. As in "He loved the way she drew a deep breath before shouting." Or "The hem of her dress teased just at her knees." The story has a plot twist and you won't see it coming. By the last page you'll find yourself chuckling by how it all turns out.

A Short yet Captivating Tale!!

I have to say this is my second Justine Avery but for sure not my last. She really knows how to write a plot twist it made me feel like It was in the car with them! There were a few hints along the way none of which I picked up on but later think to yourself good one! Great Read! I'm already on my third Justine Avery and many more after that I am sure!!!!

There is nothing like your first love, as Jake finds out. You literally feel like you are in the car with them. It is so full of life and relatable feelings until its not. Seriously you have to read it to believe it because the ending will take your breath away.

This is the first piece that I have read by Justine Avery, and I have to say that I was wholly impressed by the ease with which she was able to fit the plot into such a compact number of pages without sacrificing quality in her writing as a result.

I am a big fan of short stories and their ability to make use of limited space with extraordinary results, and Justine has done an exceptional job of pairing her style with nearly-perfect pace. The story begins unassumingly, but also in a manner that alerts the reader to something waiting to reveal itself once the story has progressed a bit. That progression builds up perfectly though--never long enough for the reader to lose interest in what might be coming, but at a speed that pushes you to read faster and faster in order to reach what you believe the story is about to share with you.

And then the plot below the surface reveals itself, and you're blown away. At least I was. So I re-read it again, and I dissected certain sections more. I allowed short passages and single word choices to marinate on my mind and the story had even more of an effect on the re-read. Often, I am disappointed because a writer will try to fit too much information or too many unnecessary details into a short story. Justine does not make this mistake, and it has me eager to read the rest of what she has written.

The dialogue flows smoothly between the characters of opposite sex, those same characters have depth that is difficult without providing too much backstory, and the entire short left me in a mood to read anything I could get my hands on today.

The short story has been becoming a bit of a lost art in recent years, and now i'm hoping that Justine Avery can keep cranking out stories like this and prove that trend false moving forward.

I don't typically read short stories as short as this one, but Justine Avery and "It Gets Easier" has made me reconsider my decision to give short stories a chance. In 14 pages, the story took me for a ride that I didn't expect.

The book started off on a happy note with Jake describing his girlfriend. Avery was able to convey how smitten he was with her and how he saw a future with Samantha in great detail that didn't over embellish. I believe Samantha as innocent and a beautiful girl. I instantly liked the characters and was ready to read a love story. Then the twist happened. Something I didn't expect, but greatly welcomed. It was clever and left me wanting to read more about Samantha and her life, but also answered any questions I may have had.

Again, I enjoyed reading Avery's short story and if she can take me on a journey in so little pages, I can only imagine what she could do in a longer book. I look forward to reading more of her works in the future.

Justine Avery's short work of fiction titled "It Gets Easier: A Short Tale of Comical Catastrophe" is a twisting yarn of mystery and intrigue that will keep you guessing all the way up to the end. Then, if you are like me, you'll immediately start fresh at the very beginning to re-read the tale and see if you can see all the twists and bends coming, only to be even more delighted upon finishing it the second time around. The best short stories are the ones that leave you wanting more, keep you engrossed to the last word and make you want to find another one from the same author immediately, without haste. "It Gets Easier" fills all of those requirements and then some. Because this is a short work, telling you the plot will likely give away some of the excitement I felt as a reader. I do not want to do that. If you haven't already been convinced to pick it up… keep reader. Otherwise, what are you waiting for?

Still here? Spoiler… you won't see it coming. It will grab hold of you and flip you you upside down. What begins like a soft romance between a hopeful boy repeating the mantra, "It gets easier, it gets easier…", helplessly flirting with his girlfriend in the passenger seat, slowly shifts into a black comedy about the pitfalls of dumping a body. There. I didn't ruin it, but I wish you would have just picked it up and read it a paragraph before.

Highly recommended! Loved this story!

Expect the Unexpected

A quick and well written tale, Justine Avery's It Gets Easier starts off with a bond between two characters that twists into something absolutely...different. Justine does a remarkable job, in just a short amount of time, of developing the relationship between Jake and his girlfriend, all while having us believe it would be obvious on how the ending would have turned out. It was a great read, that since purchasing I've read numerous times, and I would hope that you get the opportunity to enjoy it as well!

This short story reminded me of Gillian Flynn's The Grownup in its tone. The very beginning seemed so straight-forward; I expected I knew how the story was going to go. I ended up being very wrong, but I wasn't mad at all! I was pleased.

There were a few sentences where the wording was a bit clunky, but that didn't detract from the overall cleverness of this piece. I'd love to read more of this author's short stories, especially if they were combined into one accessible volume.

I found this story very unique and interesting. I like how Justine set the stage. I felt like I was flying in the sky, I look down and see this peculiar man driving a car and all of a sudden, I am flying in the car with his newly found girlfriend in the middle of their conspiracy. I was a fly. I was able to go into Jack's mind. It was a dip in and dip out. Of course, these are my thoughts after I finished the story because when I first started listening to the conversation, I was disoriented and trying to figure out why this guy is totally obsessed with this girl. Justine's approach in sketching out Jake's character and giving him a creepy and stalkerish demeanor is the entire premise behind the plot of this story. I was able to pull out my own interpretation and view my own insightful life lesson. This image is now burned in my mind the next time I see this in life. Thanks Justine!

What a trill! ‘It Gets Easier’ is a short mystery that has it all; intrigue, irony, humor and paradox. Strap yourself in for this roll coaster of a ride! This brilliant author will lead you in one lighthearted direction only to whisk you off in a head spinning twist and plunge you into a magnificently orchestrated ending that you will never see coming.

It Gets Easier is a feel-good road trip for the wrong reasons. The characters are masterfully painted from the pen of Justine Avery and deliver a portrait of dark unthinkable profiles. The story digs deep into the madness that surrounds us every day in news stories that haunt our subconscious. Avery’s ability to put the reader in the driver’s seat with surprises around every corner makes this a must read for any fan of dark comical tales.


I adored this story! The light-hearted and happy tone of the beginning totally betrayed what happens next, and I was seriously surprised in the best way. I was also sad that the story was so short, because I was just simply hooked on the characters and wanted to know what would happen next! I highly recommend It Gets Easier for anyone looking for a short but incredibly fun read.

Another great example of storytelling by Justine Avery!

Captivating and macabre.

A wonderful story that begins by flooding you with all the nostalgic emotions and electricity of young love, then quickly shifting into pitch black comedy. Justine Avery captures the characters perfectly in this short story filled with dark humor and surprise plot twists.

This short was gave me the same feeling as when a new song comes on. I ended up humming along with it, then it was over and I was left still humming the tune. I hope there is more coming.

Wonderfully written! A must read for anyone who enjoys dark comedy. It's rare to find an author who can develop characters so deeply in such a short story.

Amusing mind-bender from Justine Avery. Jake and Samantha, newly dating, are driving toward an unspecified destination. The situation and dialogue seems mundane on the surface, but Avery commences her sleight-of-hand immediately as she gets into the head of Jake. Right away, we sense something isn't right. Jake is solicitous to a creepy degree about his girlfriend's safety while he drives the car. He idolizes everything about her, even her "pastel-painted toenails". Samantha asks about his job, and Jake answers evasively, "I'm between gigs at the moment." We start to wonder where they're going, anyway. Meanwhile, something is making thumping noises in the back of the trunk ...

Any other description will be a spoiler, so I'll stop. Avery is an excellent plotter with a flair for twist endings. All I can add is a personal anecdote: growing up as a child in the Arizona desert, my father once pointed out a rattlesnake, slithering slowly in the dirt in our front yard. His hand on my chest to keep me from moving toward it, he said, "See that? That's a rattlesnake. They're pretty, and they'll kill ya. Stay away."

Good advice.

5 out of 5.

* 2nd Prize International Short Fiction Award, Writers' Village, Winter 2015

January 2016