The Body Farm
It began with a letter. At least, that’s when it began for me. I worked the night shift and came home weary. The house was dark and silent when I pulled up in front. The sun rose bloody that morning, as though it knew what was coming. Heavy clouds soaked up the crimson light like a bandage over an injury.
Somewhere in the woods, an owl is screaming. The cry recurs at irregular intervals, ragged and breathless. The sky is a chalkboard slate, the moon a pastel smudge directly overhead, offering no directional guidance. I have finally admitted to myself that I am lost in the wilds of Tennessee.
Dharma at the Gate
Reprinted: New Stories from the Midwest
Lucy wakes up with his smell on her clothes. Before school she packs herself a lunch, putting in extra food for him—he will not bring anything from home, and she can’t abide his habit of getting by on nothing but sodas and candy bars from the vending machines.
Winner: First Place, The Chautauqua Contest
On the morning of the first frost of winter, Jesse walks to the barn with the ground crackling beneath his feet. In one hand he holds a spokeshave, in the other a bucket of varnish. His breath glazes the air. The sun has barely risen, outlining the high clouds in gold.
In the Spirit Room
Crab Orchard Review
After the funeral, Jolene and I went back to our mother’s house. We had grown up in these same rooms, though the
place was somewhat altered now—our mother, who believed in plants the way other people believed in God, had turned our old playroom and study into greenhouses over the years.
The Girls of Apache Bryn Mawr
There were eight of us in the cabin, all Jews from the north side of Chicago. A few girls had been to Camp Reeds before and spoke knowingly and loftily about what the rest could expect, the campfire songs, canoe races, and marathon games of Capture the Flag.
Porcupines in Trees
At midnight, she is still awake. The cabin is a noisy place, filled with the bang of a shutter, the groan of ancient plumbing. Lila wanders therooms, unnerved by the density of the darkness. There are no street lamps here. No ambient city glow, soaking up the stars. Trees clack in the wind outside. Lila shivers inside her robe.
I was carrying a son. I knew this because he would not rest, particularly at night, inside my stuffy bedroom. Eloise’s snoring grated on him. He flipped and wriggled inside my womb. He was ravenous, and he drank me dry every night, so that I woke each morning with a parched mouth.
The Fourth River
After midnight, Cosmo found himself in the baby’s room. The crib was half-assembled, missing its front panel and the carved headboard. A mobile of paper flowers hung from the ceiling. The diaper pail was already in place, gleaming beneath the bare bulb. Cosmo had brought a trash bag.