Summer Stories: The River
Welcome to Summer Stories, The Spokesman-Review's annual short fiction series. Now in its fourth year, Summer Stories brings works by some of the region's best writers to the pages of The Spokesman-Review for 10 weeks. After trips to the fair, the lake and the woods, Summer Stories this year goes to the River.
By Jess Walter
This was the summer you drank beer with Joey and did stupid stuff in the Spokane River. The summer of 1981 – you cliff-jumped in Post Falls and body-surfed the Flora rapids and rafted the Bowl and Pitcher, all drunk – like you were making a safety video: Things Not To Do in Moving Water.
By Rachel Toor
When she was 8 years old, Autumn, who’d only ever been called Timmie, told her mother that she had pretty much given up on ever having a heteronormative relationship, though not exactly in those words.
“Mama,” she said. “You know how there are girls that wear dresses and play with dolls, who mess with their hair? Girls that boys like?”
By Stephanie Oakes
People throw all kinds of things in the river.
That’s what Saul used to tell me. Back in our parents’ day, people would use the river for a dump. Anything unusable, unwanted, un-wished for, thrown with a pitcher’s form, all rotator cuff and desire, into the surging navy waters. The river would swallow it, glinting, until whatever you wanted gone was out of sight forever.
Sometimes forever is not as long as people think.
By Thom Caraway
Little Garrett was so surprised he turned in a circle three times before he saw the bee. He held it in the palm of his hand. ... Little Garrett put his face down to the bee, its abdomen pumping slowly, fine hairs rippling across its tiny body.
By Chelsea Martin
What is a day if not an opportunity? An opportunity to make a change in the world. An opportunity for greatness. To step outside of what is expected of you. Let the day sweep you off your feet, take you away, propel you forward, maybe around in a loop, sort of like a lazy river, I guess you could say.
By Asa Maria Bradley
“We’ll follow the river for the first bit.” Jessie grinned, flashing dimples Julie used to think were adorable.
“Watch the road.” She closed her eyes and leaned against the window. She couldn’t see his frown, but his annoyance turned the air in the truck chilly against her skin. It surprised her how little she cared. She shouldn’t have gone on this trip, but they’d planned it for months and she’d never been to Lake Roosevelt.
By Ben Cartwright
Simmons loved to run the river trail past what was normal – season, time of day, duration. If a normal person said the end of October was about the limit for trail weather, she bought ice cleats and made sure to run a 10k in January, shaving three minutes off her personal best. If a man at a gas station remarked on her 13.1 bumper sticker and told her, unsolicited, that a woman should never go running alone, she told him, unsolicited, about the man whose fingers she broke in Tikrit on her second tour.
By Paul Lindholdt
You got anything alongside a river? At Ken’s question Sheila ceased a beat, her shrill charm upended. Her clients in Jet City didn’t care to live anywhere near the White River, its flotsam and flooding hazards, its gravel gnashing like bad teeth.
Sheila found her voice and piped across the continent to Ken in faraway New York. There is one place. But the yard’s a mess. Her lacquered nails tapped her desktop and fumbled for a manila folder beneath a stack of flyers. I can send you some photos.
By Kris Dinnison
The fish was dead. Tara knew it even before she poked at its limp body, which was draped across the river rocks like a discarded sock. When she pressed the stick against the fish’s belly, tiny insects rose in a cloud and then fell again onto the rotting flesh. The fish was big, and now that she was closer she saw something had taken bites out of it, exposing the flesh and some of the delicate bones that had given the fish its shape.
By Shawn Vestal
When the power went out, Francis had no one to ask for help. No friendly basement to sleep in. No calls came in checking to see if he and the kids were all right. The soccer league had been their lives – they were a Shark family, and being a Shark family had defined their hours and friendships and identities, had filled sleepovers and weekends and vacations. But they were, decidedly, no longer a Shark family, so Francis got a motel room for the kids, and he spent the cold nights at the house with the dogs piled all around him.