Anjali Joseph was born in Bombay. She read English at Trinity College, Cambridge, has taught English at the Sorbonne, and has written for the Times of India in Bombay. She was commissioning editor of Elle India. Saraswati Park, her first novel, was published in 2010. It won the Betty Trask Prize and the Desmond Elliott Prize, and was joint winner of India’s Vodafone Crossword Book Award for Fiction, as well as being shortlisted for the Commonwealth Prize for Best First Book, the Ondaatje Prize, and the Hindu Literary Prize. Another Country, her second novel, was published in 2012 and was longlisted for the Man Asian Literary Prize. The Living, a third novel, appeared in 2016.
An extract from Everlasting Lucifer
Ved Ved sat at the bar in the executive lounge and sipped at his peppermint tea. With a sigh a slender girl came and sat next to him. The lounge was busy. She put down her satchel, another cloth bag, a book, four magazines, and on the counter a glass of champagne and a plate containing girl-sized amounts of different things: salad, salmon, cheese, chocolate pudding. She sat on a stool, sighed again, and took off her hat. What was she wearing? Some sort of jumpsuit? She crossed her legs and shook out long black hair. She smiled at the huge window, beyond which it was dark and planes were taxiing, landing, or allowing passengers to embark.
No, Ved Ved said to himself. He’d absolutely had enough of executive lounge hipsters, trust fund kids, with their accents, their perfect skin, their phones and tablets and rising inflections. He looked younger than he was. People talked to him. Don’t look, he thought.
She lifted thin arms to coil her hair, and stuck what seemed to be a single blue chopstick through it. Ved saw a little armpit fuzz, and wasn’t put off. He felt a stab in his stomach, around the navel. He stared at her cheekbone, at one slightly upward slanting, long eye. She looked round, smiled at him amicably, opened a magazine and sipped her drink.
She wasn’t going to talk to him. He was going to have to talk to her.
He’d just begun to contemplate this when he heard some idiot blurt, ‘Where are you travelling to?’
It was him. She looked up, glass in hand.
‘Where are you going?’ he said, and smiled. She was looking at him. He wanted to die. This meant she was beautiful.
‘I’m flying to Bombay,’ she said. Her voice was clear, high.
‘So am I,’ he said. ‘9 o’clock?’
‘Are you studying? Is that where you live? Bombay, Mumbai,’ he went on, desperately.
She remained calm, open.
‘Do you live in Mumbai?’
‘No. I’m going back to Assam. But first I’m spending a few days with some old friends. I studied in Bombay.’
‘What did you study? I’m sorry,’ he said quickly. Maybe I’m interrupting your drink and – My name’s Ved.’ He put out his hand. This was the usual, boyish, frank, etc.
‘Keteki,’ she said, not taking his hand, but smiling, not out of pleasure but as a gesture, a glass of cool water given to a guest as his due.
‘That’s a beautiful name. What does it mean?’
‘It’s the name of a bird.’
Ved Ved, the scoundrel, smiled, stroked her smooth full mouth with his gaze. ‘It must be a beautiful bird.’
She smiled. ‘Actually it’s a trickster.’
‘A trickster. It leaves its babies in other people’s nests to bring up, and it looks and tries to sound like a bird of prey so other birds leave it alone.’
She had a couple of white hairs that did decorative things near her ear. Her eyeliner had made a blob under the inner corner of the eye nearer him. He had never before realised how beautiful any of these things were: armpit fuzz, smudged eyeliner, white hairs. Secretly, for years, he must have been infatuated with them all.
‘But it has a sweet voice.’ She smiled again. Excuse me. ‘I just want to go and… before we have to board.’
‘Oh, that won’t be for a… Do you want me to keep an eye on your stuff?’
Bret Anthony Johnston
Half of What Atlee Rouse Knows About Horses
American writer Bret Anthony-Johnston is the author of the internationally bestselling novel Remember Me Like This, which was featured on BBC4’s Books at Bedtime series, was named a Notable Book of the Year by The New York Times Book Review, and is being made into a major motion picture. He also wrote the multi-award-winning short story collection Corpus Christi: Stories, which was named a Best Book of the Year by The Independent and The Irish Times, and was shortlisted for Ireland’s Frank O’Connor International Short Fiction Prize. A graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, he has received awards from the Natinal Endowment for the Arts, the National Book Foundation, the Pushcart Prize, the Virginia Quarterly Review and elsewhere. His work has appeared in Virginia Quarterly Review, Esquire, Glimmer Train Stories, The New York Times Magazine, The Paris Review, American Short Fiction and The Atlantic. He wrote the documentary Waiting for Lightning, which was released in theatres around the world, and he is the Director of Creative Writing at Harvard University. He lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
An extract from Half of What Atlee Rouse Knows about Horses
His daughter’s first horse came from a travelling carnival where children rode him in miserable clockwise circles. He was swaybacked with a patchy coat and split hooves, but Tammy fell for him on the spot and Atlee made a cash deal with the carnie. A lifetime ago, just outside Robstown, Texas. Atlee managed the stables west of town; Laurel, his wife, taught lessons there. He hadn’t brought the trailer—buying a pony hadn’t been on his plate that day—so he drove home slowly, holding the reins through the window, the horse trotting beside the truck. Tammy sat on his back singing made up songs about cowgirls. She named him Buttons. No telling how long he’d been ridden in circles at the carnival. For the rest of his life, Buttons never once turned left.
A year later, days after Hurricane Celia hit and everyone was digging through soggy debris for ruined photo albums and missing jewelry, an old woman from Corpus called Atlee about a chestnut mare. It wasn’t hers. She’d found the horse standing in her fenced backyard, soaked to the bone and spooked. “I think the storm dropped her here,” she said. He drove out and threw a rope not around the mare’s neck but her hoof, then coaxed her into the trailer with quiet talk and sugar beet. He ran an ad in the paper, hung signs in the feed stores, called every rancher he knew. He named her Celia and she turned out to be as fine a horse as he’d ever seen, smart and sure-footed. No one ever claimed the old girl. Not something he’d been able to parse.
The most beautiful thing he’d ever seen were the wild horses in Arizona. He’d gone to deliver Celia to a couple in Phoenix; they needed a companion horse for an old blue roan that was cribbing and stall-walking. Atlee was going to miss her and that must have been evident because after supper, a ranch hand said he knew something that would cheer him up and they drove out to the Salt River. No one knew how long the herds would survive. The state considered them stray livestock and staged round-ups without notice or due process. But Atlee saw a hundred horses that first evening. He glassed the mesa with the ranch hand’s binoculars and found the animals in the orange dust. They pawed the ground and threw their heads. They clacked their teeth and nipped each other, bucked and gave playful chase. Wind lifted their manes and tails. They bit at each other’s knees and reared up and sniffed the air. When one of the stallions caught a scent, maybe of Atlee himself or the truck or the ranch hand’s cigar, they broke into a run like nothing he’d ever witnessed. The herd spread and gathered, spread and gathered, one tremulous and far-ranging body, until they came together in a gorgeous line, a meridian dividing before and after.
Every Little Thing
Celeste Ng is the author of the novel Everything I Never Told You (Blackfriars/Little, Brown UK), which was a New York Times bestseller, a New York Times Notable Book of 2014, Amazon’s number 1 Best Book of 2014, and was named a best book of the year by over a dozen U.S. publications. Everything I Never Told You was also the winner of the Massachusetts Book Award, the Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature, and the American Library Association’s Alex Award, and has been translated into over twenty languages. Celeste has also been awarded the Pushcart Prize, the Hopwood Award, and a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts. Her second novel, Little Fires Everywhere, will be published in September 2017 by Little, Brown UK. Celeste grew up in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and Shaker Heights, Ohio, in a family of scientists. She has taught writing at the University of Michigan and Grub Street in Boston and currently lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts, with her husband and son.
An extract from Every Little Thing
First let me try and explain: it’s like falling into deep, deep water. A sudden plunge that knocks your breath away, and once you go under, you forget which way is up. One minute I’m in line at the bank, or crossing the street, or pushing my cart through the Sav-Mart. Then something trips me and my memory opens up and I tumble in. Maybe I see a barrette in someone’s hair and suddenly I’m six years old, at the Gimbels perfume counter. Eight greasy fingerprints on the plate glass front. Eleven atomizers on a tray, piano music tinkling through the store stereo. A poppy seed stuck in the saleslady’s front teeth. She turns her head towards Leather Goods and two wisps fly loose from her tortoise-shell clip and my mother slips a bottle of Chanel No. 5 into her pocket and a snail of sweat creeps down my back and she pulls me away by the hand. I live it again, every little thing, and when I come back to the present the teller is shouting Miss? Miss? through the hole in the plexiglass, cars are honking, a quart of ice cream is melting to soup in my hands. On my back the same wet snail-trail. In my nostrils, Chanel No. 5.
You’d think this memory would’ve made me a straight-A student, a Jeopardy Champion. You might call it a gift. I wouldn’t. In school, when I opened my locker or sharpened my pencil or sat down with a quiz, I’d suddenly fall into some other day, some other moment. Ten minutes later I’d still be standing there, lock in hand as the late bell rang, or my pencil would be ground down to a nub, or the teacher, gently and sadly, would say, “Brianna, time’s up.” Even now, behind the wheel, I get lost in a memory and find myself parked at the Dairy Queen by the train station, or the hospital where Caitlin was born, or on Route 6 halfway to Chatham, and Caitlin, if she’s in the car, says, “Mom, you have the worst sense of direction.” But I can’t help it. Once I heard a story on the radio about a woman like me. She had scientists baffled. “Hyperthymesia,” they called it: highly superior autobiographical memory. They thought there might be forty or fifty people in the world like us, people whose pasts keep opening up and swallowing us down. I went to a doctor once, myself. I thought he would look at me and just know. But he took my blood pressure and told me to take a vitamin and said I was just fine, and I never told him. I never told anyone.
That’s how I ended up cleaning rooms at the Meadowlark. It’s just one of those little motels that dot every roadway up and down the Cape, nothing fancy, and the pay isn’t much. My mother sighs every time my job comes up. She’s spent all her life cleaning too: thirty-five years across town at Channel 17, dusting the archive rooms, vacuuming the studio and wiping down the desk after the eleven o’clock news. All those years she kept picking the wrong men: they didn’t hit her or try to touch me, but they drank or ran around or slipped bills from her purse or sat in their underwear watching Maury all day. Uncle Tommy, Uncle Jimmy, Uncle Tony, Uncle Robbie: all of them big men with names like little boys, who stayed for a while and made my mother cry and then drifted out of our lives, some on cue, some on their own. She’d wanted more for me, a husband and a house and a job where I had to wear pantyhose. Instead it’s just me and Caitlin, just enough money for rent and food and a movie once a month. But I work at the Meadowlark because there, my memory doesn’t matter. If the sheets are changed ten minutes later, no one cares at all.
So this is what happened last week.
Christine Dwyer Hickey
Back to Bones
Born in Dublin, Christine Dwyer Hickey has written seven novels, the most recent of which is The Lives of Women (Atlantic Books UK, 2015), a play, and a short story collection, The House on Parkgate Street and other Dublin Stories (New Island Books, 2013). Her story On Christmas Eve Night was broadcast on RTE Radio One and After the Fourth War appeared in The Irish Times (2016). A former private detective, she has been a full-time writer since 1992, twice-winning the Listowel Writers’ Week short story competition and also in 1993 won the Penguin/Observer short story competition. Her novel The Cold Eye of Heaven (Atlantic Books, 2011) was Irish Novel of the Year in 2012. She is married with three grown-up children and divides her time between Dublin and Italy.
An extract from Back to Bones
She opened the bedroom curtains that morning and noticed there were buds on his tree and, about to turn back into the room when the day caught her eye – the awakening back garden; the view down the slope and over the wall to Stranraer Parade. Beyond that again to the Loch, where the haze of winter had finally lifted. Acres of water bristling with light. So, Spring had come then, despite everything.
She watched for a while as the midday ferry sheared its way through the loch, passengers on deck with their faces turned sunwards. She could just about make out the coast of Ireland, or a mauve rim of Northern Ireland anyway, from where she had come on a similar day, a long time ago. Shiny new husband a shield to the breeze, one arm haltered about her neck, the other pointing out the this-and-that of his Scottish childhood.
She tried to recall the winter just gone. November was missing, December was vague. There had been Christmas of course – Christmas with Ruth. A weepy Ruthie in her sturdy Edinburgh house, cautiously decorated. ‘You don’t think Daddy would mind?’ You don’t think he’d find it disrespectful?’
‘It’s only a few old Christmas baubles Ruthie.’
‘Poor Daddy. Poor, poor Daddy. To think he was here last Christmas, sitting in this room on that very chair sipping his brandy…’
A full week, there’d been of that, comforting Ruthie, fluffing tissues out of a box; fluffing the same few sentences out while she’d been at it. ‘I know my darling, I know, but your father had a good life. He went the way he would have wanted to go – quick and clean, and on the golf course.
Ruth like a child – a forty-four year old child with no child of her own, no reason to pretend to be strong. But Ruth was her child, even if she’d had enough of all that mothering business by now.Years and years of it. Max and Ruth had barely left home when her husband stepped into their place with his blood pressure pills and his cholesterol ratings and that hiatal hernia for God’s sake, like a spoilt family pet requiring constant attention. All those years of fussing and…
‘I did not want to nag’ she said aloud. ‘I never wanted that.’
Her voice in the silent house.
She had dreaded the nights but as it turned out, found them easier to manage: bed as soon as it began to grow dark, flask of tea, crossword puzzle, library book. The television had become her companion, drifting in and out of sleep while it sucked up the hours.
And now another long day ahead of her.
She wandered through the house for a bit, looking in doorways, before slipping out to the back garden. She walked the pebbled edges of the lawn, then crossed it at a diagonal. She did that again. At the bottom of the garden she stopped and looked up at the rear view of the house. How odd it looked. Three upstairs windows – two small, one large. A black pipe tilted up the middle. The largest window was opened and she could see pale green lining on the back of a curtain and, where the breeze had given it a twist, the darker green pattern of the curtain itself. But something was wrong. The curtains for a start. The windows too, the pipe-work. Everything was unrecognisable. For a moment she thought she had wandered into a neighbour’s garden and was looking up at the wrong house. But everything else was familiar: the bench, the overgrown pond, the cast-iron bird table filled with old leaves. The tree. It was the rear of the house itself that she didn’t recognise – those curtains and whatever lay behind them. A bedroom – her bedroom, surely it would have to be?
She could feel herself slipping. Her body felt too light, her heart too large. She had lost the bedroom. She had lost the bedroom and the bed within it and now she was losing herself.
She needed to breath. Breathe long and deep. Head to chest, breathe, come on now breathe. That’s it. Gone. After a moment her heart settled down. She lifted her head to a pigeon twitching on the garden wall and felt the cold, clammy ground under her slippered feet.
Back in the bedroom she placed her hands on the green velvet curtains. The curtains were new. Of course. The material bought in the January sales in Ayr after the Christmas visit to Ruthie. A woman called Mrs Munty had made them up; there had been a wait of six weeks. A tiny button-bed house on the far side of Cairnryan. The sewing machine took up most of the parlour. They had cost a fortune, and she could remember thinking as she’d signed the cheque, surely a woman who charged so much, could afford to live in a better house? That was the curtains. This was her bedroom. Everything back in place. Grief – that’s all it had been, impish fingers reaching inside her, pulling at her memory, messing with the controls. Grief, that insidious bastard.
British writer Daisy Johnson was born in 1990, studying English Literature and Creative Writing at Lancaster and Creative Writing at Oxford. Her debut short story collection, Fen, was published by Cape and in the US by Graywolf. Her novel, Eggtooth (Cape), is due in 2017. She was the winner of the AM Heath Prize and the Harper Bazaar short story prize. Her short fiction has appeared in the Boston Review and the Warwick Review and she also publishes poetry. Daisy currently lives in Oxford with her partner.
An extract from Blood Rights
When we were younger we learnt men the way other people learnt languages or the violin. We did not care for their words, their mouths moving on the television, the sound of them out of radios, the echo chamber of them from telephones and computers. We did not care for their thoughts; they could think on philosophy and literature and science if they wanted, they could grow opinions inside them if they wanted. We did not care for their creed or religion or type; for the choices they made and the ones they missed. We cared only for what they wanted so much it ruined them. Men could pretend they were otherwise, could enact the illusion of self-control, but we knew the running stress of their minds.
We left Paris one morning knowing we would never go back. English was the language of breaking and bending and it would suit our mouths better. None of us would ever fall in love in English. We would be safe from that.
Moving did not suit us; we were out of sync, out of time with ourselves. We rented a big, wrecked house out by the canal. Tampons swelled the drainage system; our palms were crisscrossed with promise scars barely healed before the next one. We promised we would never let it happen again. What had happened in Paris. None of us would let our food ruin our lives. The old walls of the house grew stained, dark swells of rustish wash across the sagging ceilings.
Greta came back most nights mournful; she’d been hunting roadkill. Arabella grew purposeful with unease, raided the butchers and spent the long days cooking up a storm of meat pies, of roasted birds inside birds and thick, heavy, unidentified stews. I was swept along by their disorientation, found myself lying in wait for the large, unafraid mice that populated the kitchen, found myself obsessed with daytime television, endless hours watching old quiz shows or the shopping channel.
We settled. Eventually. Greta, dancing the way she used to, bare feet tapping along the corridors, said it was a stupendous house, a house that knew how to feel. I laid down mouse traps and culled whole colonies in a day. We ate the leftovers of Arabella’s cooking obsession in one long, sluggish evening and then emptied everything in the fridge into the bin. There was nothing in there we needed more than what we would have.
Arabella invested in a pair of wellington boots, put on one of the mouldy raincoats we’d found in a cupboard and went out on a reconnaissance mission. Came back talking, without pause, on seed-planting schedules and wind direction. She’d been, she said, in the local pub and she’d met men there who she thought would taste like the earth, like potatoes buried until they were done, like roots and tree bark. English men never really said what they were thinking: all that pressure inside, fermenting. We could imagine it easily enough.
She held out her hand, told us to taste it, told us she’d been able to smell their salt-of-the-earth insides across the barren winter fields. We sucked until we could: fen dirt heavy enough to grow new life in it.
Mistress Mickle All At Sea
Born in Boston, Elizabeth McCracken is the author of five books: Here’s Your Hat What’s Your Hurry (stories), two novels (The Giant’s House and Niagara Falls All Over Again), the memoir An Exact Replica of a Figment of My Imagination, and Thunderstruck & Other Stories. She has received grants and fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Liguria Study Centre, the American Academy in Berlin, the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, and the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study. She taught creative writing at Western Michigan University, the University of Oregon, the University of Houston and the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop. She holds the James A. Michener Chair in Fiction at the University of Texas, Austin.
An extract from Mistress Mickle All at Sea by Elizabeth McCracken
New Year’s Eve in a Rotterdam garret, the whole block blacked-out, bottle-rockets rattling the casements: Mistress Mickle, villainess of the children’s game show Barnaby Grudge, off-duty and far from home, ate a cold canned hotdog in the dark and pronounced it delicious. These were the last minutes of the old year. She’d come from Surrey to visit her half brother, Jonas, whom she’d last seen in Boston just before their father had retired to Minorca. Expatriation was the family disease, hereditary: thanks to an immigrant ancestor, they all had Irish passports. The world was their oyster. An oyster was not enough to sustain anyone.
“This happen off-ten?” she asked. “Blackouts, I mean.”
“Off-ten?” he mimicked, then he said, “nah. I don’t know what’s going on.” His Boston accent was thick as ever, but years in England had bent her diction, and she couldn’t decide which of them should feel superior. The blackout was in its third hour. She’d hated the darkness at first but now it had gone on long enough it would be the story of the evening, and so was essential. Let the New Year arrive unelectrified, lit only by pyrotechnics, thought Mistress Mickle.
The Dutch did not wait till midnight to celebrate. Through the enamel tabletop they felt the detonations of fireworks, explosion after explosion in the dark. Life in wartime, if you knew nobody was dying, probably, and the privation would end by morning. She jumped at every salvo. She was a nervous woman. When Jonas fished out a joint she didn’t turn him down, though it had been decades. Maybe it would calm her. Last year she would have had a drink but she didn’t drink anymore. She was 49, which didn’t surprise her; Jonas was 39, a shock. He had long insufficient blond hair he was trying to drum up into dreadlocks and a thick dark beard he’d trimmed to round perfection. Why couldn’t he take care of anything else so well? He was a fuck-up. He said so himself. It was as though fucking up were his religion, and he was always looking for a more authentic experience of it: bankrupted by Scientology, busted for selling a stolen antique lamp, fired from an Alaskan cannery for stealing salmon, beaten up by a drug dealer, that is, a ham-headed college kid who dealt ecstasy but took only steroids himself. For the past six months he’d lived in this garret, renting the space beneath an Irish woman’s kitchen table, with access to her stove and sink and toilet and, occasionally, herself. The Irish woman had gone back to Kilkenny, would return tomorrow. Tonight Mistress Mickle was sleeping in her bed. The Irish woman must never hear of this. Jonas’s pallet was still spread out under the table they now sat at, his pillow at Mistress Mickle’s feet.
At 11:30 the lights came back on.
“Oh good,” said Jonas.
“A shame,” said Mistress Mickle.
Jonas shrugged. He was a lifelong shrugger. It was the genuflection of the devout fuck-up. “Let’s go to the street,” he said. “Midnight will blow your mind.”
Ethel Rohan is the author of The Weight of Him, a debut novel first published in the United States (St. Martin’s Press, February 2017) and forthcoming in the UK from Atlantic Books, in June 2017. The Weight of Him won the inaugural Plumeri Fellowship (US). Rohan is also the author of two story collections, Goodnight Nobody and Cut Through the Bone, the former longlisted for The Edge Hill Prize and the latter longlisted for The Story Prize. Winner of the Bryan MacMahon Short Story Award (2013), her writing has appeared or will appear in The New York Times, World Literature Today, The Irish Times, The Stinging Fly, Southword Journal, and Banshee Lit, among many other periodicals and anthologies, including The Bristol Short Story Prize Vol. 5 and the Flash Fiction International Anthology. Raised in Dublin, she lives in San Francisco with her husband and family.
An extract from The Sun
Most everyone, our parents included, rarely used our proper names and called each of us Triplet. We hated Triplet. Not that we liked our birth names all that much, either. Ruth, Mary, and Elizabeth—straight from the bible and without imagination, especially in an era that had started to use baby names like Blue and Apple. Any name, though, was better than Triplet. Ruth, Mary, and I were identical. We stood tall and thin, had brown eyes and browner bobs, thick eyebrows, thin lips, and a map of dark blue veins in milky skin. I was the oldest by twelve minutes, Mary was in the middle, and Ruth was the youngest. Ruth was also the most trouble.
People were divided on whether Ruth was ill, crazy, or plain bad. It had all started in kindergarten. One of Ruth’s classmates, every chance he got, would trace his snotty fingertips over any flash of her skin he could catch. After his repeated offenses, Ruth claimed she couldn’t tolerate to be touched, not by him, not by anyone, not ever. Specialists throughout Dublin, and all of Ireland, confirmed the crippling condition was as real to Ruth as her brown-laced-with-hazel eyes. I could never understand how her no contact rule extended to Mary and me, though, the two people closest to her in the world, especially when it was all in her head, like.
I remembered Ruth, Mary and me together in the womb—our slick, twig arms entwined and each of us sucking on a sister’s tiny thumb. We scuttled like fish inside Mam. The lap of amniotic fluid in our mouths matched the beat of our pebble-sized hearts. We heard, too, our parents’ voices, their words stretched and distorted, and fading in and out, just like how everything sounds underwater. Back then, our parents seemed happy, excited.
“Stop,” people said. “There’s no way you can remember any of that.”
I did remember. Especially how my unborn sisters and I glowed.
Ruth’s condition worsened over the years and when we were twelve, and nearing the end of sixth class and the beginning of secondary school, she deteriorated to a disturbing degree. If anyone accidentally touched her skin, the barest brush, she screamed and sometimes dropped to the ground in convulsions. People grew afraid of her, and almost no one wanted to be around her. Mam and Dad forever worried. Mary felt sorry for her. I seemed to be the only one angry with her. I wanted Ruth to go back to normal. I wanted her, Mary, and me to be exactly how we used to be together, in the womb, and in the world those first five years. Ruth’s phobia was all in her head. She needed to get over it.
It stunned me how little it seemed to bother Mary that Ruth was forever out of our reach. We were her two-thirds and we couldn’t even touch her.
“Why do you always have to go on about it?” Mary said.
“Doesn’t it drive you crazy?” I asked. “It’s like not being able to touch a part of yourself.”
As Ruth’s symptoms grew, so did my anger. Her zero contact condition didn’t add up. Like how could she wear clothes, if her skin was so sensitive? Or bear to touch herself? Or allow Jimmy, our cockatoo, to perch on her hands, arms, shoulders, and head? If she could make all of that okay in her mind, why couldn’t she make contact with Mary and me okay, too?
Whenever I quizzed her, she went into a rage—shouting and throwing her shoes, or any make-shift weapon.“It’s people touching my skin I can’t stand,” she wailed. “It’s like slugs slithering over me, covering me in their slime.”
I convinced Mary we were the only two people on earth who could fix Ruth. “We are her. If she can touch herself, then we can touch her, too, and if she sees we can touch her, then this all starts to end.”
I dug Mary’s and my yellowed First Communion gloves from Mam’s keepsake drawer—soft and silky, the gloves had been participants in a holy ceremony and would be ideal for our purposes. Mary and I waited until late that night. When Ruth fell into a deep sleep, we pulled on our gloves and tip-toped across our bedroom. I nodded at Mary, indicating we should act in unison, but she shook her head. My breath held, I reached out a shaky hand and touched Ruth’s face, the barest glance with my gloved, polyester fingertip. Ruth shot up on her bed and screamed her tonsils almost out of her throat.
Door to Door
Kevin Wilson was born in Sewanee, Tennessee, and is the author of a story collection, Tunneling to the Center of the Earth, which won the Shirley Jackson Award, and two novels, The Family Fang and Perfect Little World. His stories have appeared in One Story, Tin House, A Public Space, Ploughshares, and elsewhere. He has received fellowships from the MacDowell Colony, Yaddo, Rivendell, and the KHN Center for the Arts. He lives in Sewanee, with his wife, the poet Leigh Anne Couch, and his sons, where he is an Associate Professor in the English Department at Sewanee: The University of the South
An extract from Door to Door
Daisy was the middle sister. She was in charge of bad ideas. Jennifer, the eldest, was tasked with revising and developing these bad ideas. Ena, the youngest, simply did what she was told. More often than not, Daisy managed to force her sisters into the adventure that would get them whipped later by their mother. More importantly, she managed to steer them toward danger without ever being blamed for it later. Her sisters’ strange amnesia allowed her, forever and ever, to do the most damage and yet suffer the least consequences. And this afternoon was no exception. Each girl wandered through their own house, looking for any object that might fetch a fair price, anything that they could sell.
Their mother was long gone, off at five in the morning to clean the houses of people so rich that Daisy imagined them simply as rays of pure light. She would not be home until seven at the earliest, and so the sisters, freed from school, thought of this window of time as purely their own, no one to lay claim to it, no one to dissuade them from whatever they wanted.
Daisy laid out a silk sheet, decorated with an ornate gray-and-red dragon. Her mother had not brought it with her from Japan; it had been given to her by a man who had pursued her until he found out about Daisy and her sisters. Anything in their tiny house that spoke to their Asian heritage had come from white people, as if they thought their mother needed to be constantly reminded that she was Japanese, as if any of them could forget.
When they rode the bus, when they shopped for groceries, when they walked up and down the halls of their school, they were always the only Asian people. They were used to the strange way that people would stare so openly at them, at how out-of-place they were, and then, as if by some magic trick, the way that they became invisible to those same people, forgotten, not worth the effort of remembering. The few times that they had seen another Asian person, always an adult, never another child, they felt an instant gratification, that they weren’t alone. But the adult would regard them, Daisy and her sisters only half-Japanese, their almond-shaped eyes, their olive skin, their hair dark brown and wavy, and then turn away without a second glance. “We’re not Japanese enough for them,” Jennifer had explained to Daisy and Ena. “What about white people?” Ena had asked, and Jennifer laughed so loudly that a few other people on the bus had turned to look at them. Jennifer shook her head and then said, “We’re definitely too Japanese for them.”
Daisy’s own father, who had met her mother when he was stationed in Japan, had brought her to Nashville, sired three daughters, and then ran off to Denver, Colorado, with less than a goodbye. They hadn’t heard from him in two years, since he sent Daisy a card for her seventh birthday, not a single dollar to go with it. Daisy had set it on fire and then she and her sisters stamped it to ashes in the driveway.
Their mother had demanded obedience, manners, deference to their elders, but they were so poor that the sisters couldn’t figure out what good manners would change about their circumstances. And their mother was so tired from her work that she eventually gave up; she let them turn slightly feral, beating them only to slow them down, not to stop them.
Each time one of the sisters found something good enough to sell but negligible enough that their mother would not notice its absence, they placed it atop the silk sheet, and soon they had a decent pile of goods, among them a chipped coffee mug they’d stolen from a Waffle House, back issues of Teen Beat, a fake ruby ring, a Canadian penny they had found in the pocket of a jacket at Goodwill, a can opener, a rubber-band ball, a Ronnie Milsap cassette that had belonged to their father, and a Kikoi cloth skirt that one of the rich ladies had given to their mother, but which she had never worn, the colors so garish that it could only be worn on vacation. Daisy gathered up the corners of the sheet to make a bag, and listened as the contents shifted around as she gathered it up.
“How much do you think we can get for all of this?” Daisy asked Jennifer.
“I don’t know,” Jennifer admitted.
“A hundred dollars,” Ena suggested.
“Not that much, you idiot,” Daisy said.
Ena, undeterred, not the least bit fazed by cruelty, then said, “Enough so that we can each buy a Dana doll?”
“Maybe,” Daisy finally allowed, the desire for a brand-new Barbie so strong that she believed that she could talk this bag of random wares into cash.
Born in 1988 and raised by two journalists, American writer Kathleen Alcott is the author of the novels The Dangers of Proximal Alphabets and Infinite Home, the first of which was published in the United States when she was twenty-three. Infinite Home, released in 2015, was nominated for The Kirkus Prize and shortlisted for The Chautuaqua Prize. Her journalism has appeared in outlets including The Guardian, The New York Times, and The New Yorker, and her short fiction has been listed as notable by The Best American Short Stories. A native of Northern California, she divides her time between there and New York City, where she serves as an adjunct professor at Columbia University.
An extract from Reputation Management
Alice Niemand had been working for the company two years when the young Hasidic man died, and it made her look at her things, the cashmere cardigans and the pebbled bathmats, and consider how she had earned the money to buy them. On a normal day, it was easy enough not to examine: she never went into a workplace, never talked to anyone who did the same job she did, never discussed aloud the clients whose reputations she had repaired, never shook their hands or heard their voices, these lawyers and dentists and PTA mothers with some angry review or mug shot to suppress. The man who was dead—nineteen, a boy really—had been the victim of sexual abuse by the Yeshiva teacher who had been Alice’s client. The boy had claimed to be his victim, she reminded herself, but then came another feeling, lower in her body, which seemed to ask, in the way it roiled: why would anyone claim that?
On the coast of California where the garnet had eroded to make the sand purple, and from a multi-colored veranda in the New Orleans garden district, and in view of children pushing toy boats in the Jardin du Luxembourg, she had reviewed files summarizing lives and careers and misdemeanors, had typed the stiff sentences that financed her comfortable life. Her parents were as impressed by her new place in the world as they were intimidated by the gifts she sent to their sagging split-level home in the middle of the country. What could they do with an iPad that they couldn’t on their computer, the pauses between their thank yous said, what should they put on these asymmetrical walnut serving boards? Would she be visiting sometime? They were sorry to say they did not have the money to make it to New York. It was never mentioned that the cost of the things Alice sent could have easily covered the flights that would put the three of them in a room together.
Alice had bumped from one Craigslist apartment to the next in the years after college, making friends chiefly to learn from them, when to tilt the head in the course of flirtation, how to conduct oneself in an expensive restaurant, never telling anyone about her father’s job ringing up purchases of gas and Snickers, her mother’s meager income selling Mary Kay cosmetics. She had visited the office, a hyper-color portrait of Silicon Valley opulence, for three interviews and a training session. It was her last month in San Francisco and the last hiring period in which the company bothered to meet anyone in person.
A guy on a skateboard had careened down an aisle that separated two rows of desks, clipping the heels of the formal, uncomfortable shoes Alice wore, and she watched as he landed on an L-shaped couch and began to comment on a Ping-Pong game. To the right of a freestanding iron staircase nearby, a man jogging on a treadmill typed on a computer that hovered above it. “Casey prefers the running desk to the standing,” Alice’s tour guide explained, with a satisfied laugh that she understood she was meant to mimic. In the company kitchen, the snack foods, arranged by color, sat up straight on transparent shelving. “There is such a thing,” she heard a departing tour leader say to a group of new IT personnel, “as a free lunch.”
Lisa McInerney’s debut novel The Glorious Heresies (John Murray, 2015) won the 2016 Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction and the 2016 Desmond Elliott Prize. It was shortlisted for Best Newcomer at the 2015 Irish Book Awards, longlisted for the 2016 Dylan Thomas Award, and named as a 2015 book of the year by The Irish Times, Sunday Independent and Sunday Business Post. It has been optioned for television by Fifty Fathoms with Julian Farino to direct; Lisa will write the adaptation. Her second novel, The Blood Miracles, will be published by John Murray in April 2017. Recent publications include the short story Redoubt for BBC Radio 4 in December 2015, the short story Berghain for the anthology The Long Gaze Back (New Island 2015), and the short story Saturday, Boring for the anthology Town and Country (Faber & Faber, 2013). She lives in Galway with her husband and 15-year-old daughter.
An extract from Navigation by Lisa McInerney
Jack goes to meet Monty Carthy to get some smoke but Monty’s forgotten it, or says he’s forgotten it, and obliges Jack to return with him to his grandfather’s caravan, parked up in the front driveway of his mother’s house. Sit down there now, he says, and Jack finds himself across from the grandfather—
Paddy, says Monty, Paddy, this is Jack Hegarty, from Mallow the one time, he’s in Hawthorn Drive now.
Oh, will you give him my blood type while you’re at it? Jack thinks, and watches the floor.
Monty’s real name is Martin but he’s called Monty because he’s hook-nosed and gaunt and threadbare, like spite’s worn him hungry; he’s the twentysomething-year-old bulb off Mr Burns. This is not a nickname Jack nor any of Jack’s buddies came up with: Monty’s place in the world precedes them, and Jack feels very green around him; Jack feels scared. But the task has fallen to him, and now he’s got an arrangement with Monty that’s threatening to become comfortable. He’s wedged in with him. Jack never wanted to be his friends’ drug-runner.
Paddy takes up nearly the whole couch opposite. His nose is red raw. He’s balding and what’s left he’s shaved down; stubble clings to the back of his head in a fat grey crescent, rising at the bottom over folds of neck flab. His belly heaves in a snug black T-shirt. Monty roots in a cupboard four feet away.
Sorry now for coming in on top of you like this, Jack says, and Paddy goes Sure it’s no skin off my nose, and Jack thinks this is because his nose was flayed long ago by the looks of it.
Right, says Monty, and presses a zippy bag, folded over, into Jack’s hand, and Jack tries to tuck it into the waistband of his jeans politely, if this is ever a thing that can be done politely, and wonders if he’s becoming good at this or sensitive about the palms, because the weight of the bag seems unsubstantial. How would you know? he asks himself, you’re hardly an expert, and across from him the mass of the grandfather says And don’t be telling no one where you got that, to which Monty laughs, How is that any way to be doing business?
He can come back here, says Paddy, so long as he doesn’t tell anyone else the way.
Jack feels the leaving of the caravan as an escape and he is, despite himself, ashamed of feeling this, because it’s not the transaction that bothered him but the company.
Eddy decides to go in via the back door because there is a girl, already, outside the front, bawling and hiccupping, bow-legged on the step. Eddy thinks fuck her, it’s too early for that kind of carry-on. That’s the conduct of someone who’s been drinking since noon. That’s the collapse of a binge. No thanks, can’t be dealing. There is something about Eddy that compels drunk people to cling to her. Some manner, some affable tic, some blush of feeling. It’s illusory, or it’s oversoon, a harbinger of eventual softening – the day will come when she’s rounded out and maternal, flabby-waisted and calm. But now she’s late. Everyone’s saturated and she’s sober, the fault of last-minute plans and a bad, bad mood, a text from a boy she thought might have liked her, a boy she’d read wrong . . . a dark pique in her bedroom, the boy and the mood
The Hazel Twig and the Olive Tree
British writer Richard Lambert is a poet and novelist, and a graduate of the MA in Creative Writing at UEA. His poetry collection Night Journey was published in 2012 and he is the recipient of an Arts Council award to write a new collection, The Nameless Places. Individual poems have appeared in The Spectator, the TLS, Poetry Review, Poetry Ireland Review, PN Review, The Rialto, and The Forward Anthology 2014. His novel The Wolf Road was longlisted for this year’s Caledonia Novel Award for unpublished debut novelists and he is currently on Escalator, a talent development scheme for writers in the east of England. He has a PhD in history about descriptions of landscape in medieval France, and has worked in higher education, local government, and the NHS. He lives in Norwich.
An extract from The Hazel Twig and the Olive Tree
The Hazel Twig and the Olive Tree:
A lost story of Jorge Luis Borges 
Irving Samuelson, University of Texas, Austin
In January 1935, Jorge Luis Borges lost his job as literary editor of the Saturday supplement of Buenos Aires’ mass-market daily newspaper, Crítica. One month after his departure, the supplement published a piece by a certain Herbert Lock, retelling the story of the adulterous lovers Tristan and Isolde. It has hitherto been believed that copies of this story had not survived. In fact, until now, Borges’ editorship and Lock’s Tristan story had been considered unconnected, despite the compelling arguments this author made in a 1993 article, that showed that Herbert Lock and Jorge Luis Borges were one and the same. But now further evidence, refuting the glib malignities of earlier critics, namely a bill of sale from a bookshop in Jerusalem, and an interview with a member of the 1930s Argentine avant garde, have added weight to my earlier arguments and definitively show that a hitherto lost story of Jorge Luis Borges has come to light.
The supplement Revista Multicolor, which Borges co-edited with Ulyses Petit de Murat between June 1933 and January 1935, came out in Buenos Aires on a Saturday, a day of the week imprinted upon Borges’ memory, for it was on a Saturday in November 1926 in the Orangery Restaurant of Palermo Park that Borges lost his fiancé Norah Lange to another man.
This was a break so significant that it was the moment to which Borges would allude in that lost, now rediscovered, story of 1935; and it was also the moment which was to dominate the next seventy years of his life. Even once he had made the re-discovery of romantic love in old age, which allowed him finally to step from the shadow of family (he shared a flat with his mother until her death in 1975) to be with the young Maria Kodama, he still lingered over that first loss of Norah Lange.  So much so that it received the most oblique and final of textual references in his gravestone inscription, a line from a late, intimately autobiographical story, ‘Ulricca’, in which the memory of a lost love is finally redeemed. And thus he closed the circle on that first loss, and revealed too, how far for him the textual and biographical were merged.
The impact, then, of that meeting of Norah and Oliverio Girond, that preposterous, cruel couple (at parties Norah would stand on tables and declaim her poetry, while Oliverio once drove a funeral carriage through Buenos Aires taunting his defeated rival with a papier maché caricature of him) was long-lasting. A photograph records that Saturday when the literary elite of the city gathered in the restaurant in Palermo Park: Borges stands unaware that, though he arrived at the lunch with his girlfriend, he was to depart alone.
 This paper was rejected by Modern Fiction Studies. The anonymous referee, to whom I would dedicate this article were it not that he has chosen to remain nameless and that any dedication, where Borges is concerned, is owed to absence, concluded his report with characteristic cruelty: ‘notwithstanding the author’s shrill protests, this story never existed.’
 Samuelson, ‘A Lost Story of Jorge Luis Borges’, Hispanic Review, 44 (1993), 234-47.
The household was strange: even as an old man Borges informed his mother of all his movements and each night before going to bed, would receive two sweets from the family maid like a little boy.
Sally Rooney was born in the west of Ireland in 1991. She lives and works in Dublin, where she graduated from Trinity College with a BA in English Literature and an MPhil in Literatures of the Americas. Her work has appeared in Granta, The White Review, The Dublin Review, Winter Papers and The Stinging Fly. Her debut novel, Conversations with Friends, is forthcoming in twelve territories worldwide, and will be published by Faber & Faber in June 2017.
An extract from Mr Salary
Nathan was waiting with his hands in his pockets beside the silver Christmas tree in the arrivals lounge at Dublin airport. The new terminal was bright and polished, with a lot of escalators. I had just brushed my teeth in the airport bathroom. My suitcase was ugly and I was trying to carry it with a degree of irony. When Nathan saw me he asked: What is that, a joke suitcase?
You look good, I said.
He lifted the case out of my hand. I hope people don’t think this belongs to me now that I’m carrying it, he said. He was still wearing his work clothes, a very clean navy suit. Nobody would think the suitcase belonged to him, it was obvious. I was the one wearing black leggings with a hole in one knee, and I hadn’t washed my hair since I left Boston.
You look unbelievably good, I said. You look better than last time I saw you even.
I thought I was in decline by now. Age-wise. You look OK, but you’re young, so.
What are you doing, yoga or something?
I’ve been running, he said. The car’s just out here.
Outside it was below zero and a thin rim of frost had formed on the corners of Nathan’s windshield. The interior of his car smelled like air freshener and the brand of aftershave he liked to wear to ‘events’. I didn’t know what the aftershave was called but I knew what the bottle looked like. I saw it in drugstores sometimes and if I was having a bad day I let myself screw the cap off.
My hair feels physically unclean, I said. Not just unwashed but actively dirty.
Nathan closed the door and put the keys in the ignition. The dash lit up in soft Scandinavian colours.
You don’t have any news you’ve been waiting to tell me in person, do you? he said.
Do people do that?
You don’t have like a secret tattoo or anything?
I would have attached it as a JPEG, I said. Believe me.
He was reversing out of the parking space and onto the neat lit avenue leading to the exit. I pulled my feet up onto the passenger seat so that I could hug my knees against my chest uncomfortably.
Why? I said. Do you have news?
Yeah yeah, I have a girlfriend now.
I turned my head to face him extremely slowly, one degree after another, like I was a character in slow motion in a horror film.
What? I said.
Actually we’re getting married. And she’s pregnant.
Then I turned my face back to stare at the windshield. The red brake lights of the car in front surfaced through the ice like a memory.
OK, funny, I said. Your jokes are always very humorous.
I could have a girlfriend. Hypothetically.
But then what would we joke about together?
He glanced at me as the barrier went up for the car in front of us.
Is that the coat I bought you? he said.
Yes. I wear it to remind me that you’re real.
Nathan rolled his window down and inserted a ticket into the machine. Through Nathan’s window the night air was delicious and frosty. He looked over at me again after he rolled it up.
I’m so happy to see you I’m having trouble talking in my normal accent, he said.
That’s OK. I was having a lot of fantasies about you on the plane.
I look forward to hearing them. Do you want to pick up some food on the way home?
American writer Smith Henderson is the author of the debut novel Fourth of July Creek (William Heinemann), a 2014 New York Times Notable Book. It was the winner of the 2017 Translation Prize by the French-American Foundation, the 2015 John Creasy (New Blood) Dagger Award and the 2014 Montana Book Award. It was also a finalist for the 2015 PEN Center USA Award for Fiction, the James Tait Black Prize, the Ken Kesey Award for the Novel and the Texas Institute of Letters Jesse H. Jones Award for Best Work of Fiction. The novel also made the longlists for the 2016 International Dublin Literary Award, the Folio Prize, and the VCU Cabel First Novelist Award. Henderson was awarded a 2011 PEN Emerging Writers Award in fiction, and a 2011 Philip Roth Residency in Creative Writing at Bucknell University. His short story, Number Stations, won a Pushcart Prize and a finalist honours for the University of Texas Keene Prize, where he was a Michener Center for Writing Fellow. His work has been anthologised and published in The New York Times, American Short Fiction and New Orleans Review. An accomplished screenwriter, he is a staff writer on the The Son for AMC. Born and raised in Montana, he now lives in Los Angeles, California.
An extract from The Trouble
The boy dawdled down the road into Tenmile with the practiced nonchalance of a troublemaker, shifting along like a raccoon, in terrific fascination at the foil wrappers and sun-scalded aluminum cans blown flat into the weeds at the side of the two-lane highway, stopping for items worthy or simply shiny, peering, sometimes picking one up, and then moving on. The sun had eased into the trees of the mountain, and Henry was at the put-in by the river watching the kid cross the bridge into town. Songbirds darted to their final assignations in the bleeding light. The bats pitched themselves at right angles into the mayflies milling above the water. Henry tossed the crust of his sandwich out his pickup window high over the river and watched as bats honed and dove for it. The boy arrived at the town square. Henry started his truck and rolled alongside him.
“Son,” he said. The kid stopped. Thumbed his pockets. Henry dropped the truck into park and left the engine running. “You from around here?”
A tall, handsome kid. Vivid blue eyes, hair black and shiny as a beetle shell.
“Nope. My aunt has a place somewheres.”
“You don’t know where.”
“You mind I ask her name?”
“Nope,” the boy said.
Then the boy didn’t say who his aunt was.
“You wanna give me that name?”
In the shaded dusk, Henry could not tell if the boy was a smart-ass or just profoundly stupid.
A streetlamp winked twice and came full on.
“It’s Brenda Parks,” he said, straightening up into the light. “You know her?” he asked.
“There’s only six thousand people live in Tenmile, son. Get in.”
The kid smirked and looked away. Like a plan had come off or was set in motion. He dashed around the truck and got in. Said his name was Keith. He’d been praying for a ride since Forsyth, where he’d been looking for his uncle. He said he was eighteen, but Henry didn’t believe it. The scar on his arm was from a fight in Seattle. So was the tattoo. Seattle had marked him up good. But then he found Jesus, His forgiveness. He wasn’t gonna lie about nothing no more. He had stuck needles in his arm and had been on the wrong path. He wasn’t gonna lie about it. He was saved and had decided to find his aunt, see if he could get a clean start. His uncle—the one in Forsyth—said she was in Tenmile, so that’s how Keith come to be here. All of this was the truth.
“I see,” Henry said at the conclusion of this biography. They went past the bars, the barbershop, and Dairy Queen, then out on the county road.
“This some kind of fire truck?” the kid asked.
Henry said it was. The first water tender he owned, in fact. A twelve-hundred-gallon tank bolted and welded to a Ford F-150. Did the boy have a driver’s license? Would he be looking for work? Could he study up for the kind of test you need to take to drive an even bigger truck and operate a pump and enter into the profession of wildfire fighting? Henry studied the boy.
“Holy shit.” The kid fairly vibrated at his good fortune. “Pardon me.”
Henry plucked a business card off the dash.
“Keith, you come out to this address tomorrow morning at eight. Ask for my mother, Kelly, to get you started on the paperwork.”
Henry pulled into the drive. A grave unsmiling old woman hefted herself out of a wicker chair on the porch and tilted her head back to look at them.
“One favor. You tell your aunt who gave you a job.”
“I sure will.” He scanned the card for Henry’s name. “Thanks, Mr. McGinnis.”
“Folks call me Daddy. Tell your aunt that Daddy brought you home.”
Victor Lodato was born in New Jersey. His novel, Mathilda Savitch (2009), was hailed by The New York Times as “a Salingeresque wonder of a first novel” and was a “Best Book of the Year” in The Christian Science Monitor, Booklist, and The Globe and Mail. The novel won the PEN USA Award for Fiction and the Barnes & Noble Discover Prize, and has been published in sixteen countries, including the UK (Fourth Estate). Victor is a Guggenheim Fellow, as well as the recipient of fellowships from The National Endowment for the Arts, The Camargo Foundation (France), and The Bogliasco Foundation (Italy). His short fiction and essays have been published in The New Yorker, The New York Times, Granta, and Best American Short Stories. His new novel, Edgar and Lucy, will be published in March 2017. Victor currently divides his time between Tucson, Arizona and Ashland, Oregon.
An extract from The Tenant
When Marie saw the small house, nestled almost invisibly among weedy hills and sycamores, she thought, jackpot. She thought, heaven.
Hell, she thought, I could live and die here.
Of course, all she said to the McGregors was, ‘It’ll do.’
The McGregors owned the property and lived in the large house next door – though next door was a relative term; the main house was at least a hundred yards away. Through the trees all Marie could see of it was a patch of pale blue siding – which, in the right mood, she could easily pretend was part of the sky.
The right mood was not uncommon lately. It often involved gin. Marie was careful not to put the empties in the recycling bin. She didn’t wish to give the McGregors the wrong idea.
Luckily they hadn’t asked her to fill out one of those renter-information packets, or done a credit check. They’d been satisfied with her offer to pay the first six months in advance.
As soon as Marie signed the lease, she felt a weight lifted from her heart. Maybe this lightness had something to do with the land and the trees, which reminded her of the estate she’d grown up on, across the valley, in the Rincons.
Not that she’d been particularly happy there – but it was childhood and so, at a certain age, revered. And certainly it hadn’t been terrible. Her parents had been decent people – though they’d had their edges, their sorrows. Their moods had oppressed her as a child, but now she saw it as a good sign, a sign that perhaps they’d wanted more than what they’d had. When they died five years ago on the highway, it had been their first trip out of Tucson in twenty years. They were going to Apache County to see the ruins, but made it only as far as Pinetop. A sleep-deprived trucker carrying a load of frozen fruit had swerved and toppled.
‘Blueberries everywhere,’ one witness had said.
The caskets had been closed.