What did I learn with this one?
Feedback was critical. I hammered away on my own until I lost all objectivity, then I trickled it out to a few people, then I submitted it to larger circles. In effect, I road-tested this one. And every time I convinced myself nobody would notice a part that didn't work, someone would call me on it.
My biggest problem with this story was muddy character motivation. When I asked myself what was going on, I realized I wasn't even sure what I wanted to say. So I forced myself to figure it out and then rewrote again.
Now I can honestly say this is the best short story I've ever written. Whether or not my effort was good enough to make the cut, remains to be seen. But it's happening slowly. I'm getting better.
Optimism: Cloaking the bitter seeds of self-delusion, since 2011.