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Inspired by a project the Minneapolis Star had planned in 2013, the original idea for “Summer Stories” was to run a serialized novel in Sunday’s Today section of The Spokesman-Review. When several local authors started releasing short-story collections around the same time, Carolyn Lamberson, then the features editor, had another idea.
It was quiet for 140 years. Then, in March, the mountain began to rumble: earthquakes, bursts of steam, blue flame, ash clouds that sparked 2-mile bolts of lightning. All spring, the volcano seethed, spewed and shuddered, magma bubbling up its throat and pushing the north flank out 5 feet a day.
Spokane Public Radio will begin broadcasting The Spokesman Review's Summer Stories series on Monday. This year, the series has been curated to honor the 40th anniversary of the eruption of Mount St. Helens.
It was a Sunday morning in May, and Ben had just left Angela’s dilapidated Seattle apartment building in good spirits. After a year of flirting, yearning and maneuvering (and with the aid of some Jack Daniels added to the espresso they sipped while playing chess at Last Exit on Brooklyn the night before), he’d finally gotten Angela to invite him home.
As a matter of fact, I never wanted to kill my neighbor's cat. But sometimes things happen, and sometimes one thing leads to another, and sometimes you're just kind of swept along in a landslide, and then all of a sudden you're trying to hide a dead cat. It happens.
Paw Paw said it was just hippies on the mountain got smote. And fornicators. “Nary a Christian among them,” he said. “What about my Grandpa Murphy’s camp,” I said. “Closed,” Paw-Paw said. “And they was Catholic anyway – not Christian.” “Catholic is Christian,” my mother said. “And it’s not just hippies up there.”
When Mom fell in love with the man of ash, we tried, at first, to be happy for her. We vacuumed, we mopped, we sang. We swept up the ashes without complaint. Even then the thin film of him settled beneath our fingernails or whirled up at us from a plumped cushion, catching in our eyelashes.
Hank went down to the dock before dawn. Dirty spring snow lingered along the cobble path that led from cabin to lakeshore. The mist hung so thick that he heard the canoe before he saw it, the rhythmic clunk of aluminum on wood.
Hugh Hubert, the proprietor, founder and sole employee of Hubert & Sons Long-term Catastrophes, sat at a grimy table and tried not to smile. He asked, “Have you considered volcano insurance?”
I saw my twin sister working at the Waffle Hut outside Kid Valley, her hair longer and grayer since we last spoke. That was nine years back, when mom died. An aneurysm seemed to have been waiting and waiting for just the right moment, and then POP! Mom’s gone. Sixty-seven and healthier than either of us, knocked to the ground by a tiny gremlin, right there outside the Goodwill.
Clara was 15, but when Miriam looked at her, she could see her as a baby still. She’d been a fat baby, and Miriam had complained endlessly about what it felt like to carry her.
College hadn’t worked out for Yeller: He had not even learned to drink well. By spring, his second sophomore year at Eastern Washington University, Yeller was an Eagle and a fairly lost bird.
If it weren’t for my daughter’s fever, I might never have talked to Susanna. But we live in a world of rules, and the rule at preschool was no preschool if your kid has a fever. And that’s where it started, this strange set of events.
It came as Father said it would come, a shroud over the sun, a night in the day, a black pall upon the earthly coffin of the wicked. At the campground, the Forest Service man came and asked for $16.
Long before works of short fiction read by talented actors are broadcast into our homes, cars and assorted listening devices by Spokane Public Radio, they begin life in a live performance setting. Since 1985, “Selected Shorts” has been performed before enthusiastic audiences on stage at New York City’s Symphony Space. During the COVID-19 pandemic, “Selected Shorts” organizers, like many other artist groups, have pivoted to virtual. The first “Virtual Selected Shorts” program debuted on the Symphony Space YouTube channel on Wednesday night.
In the final installment of the 2019 Summer Stories series, Jess Walter tells the tale of a teacher dealing with the parents of his worst student. Revisit previous entries in the Summer Stories series at spokesman.com/summer-stories.
“You know what the problem is, don’t you?” Paul leaned forward. It had been a sunny day, but evening settled in cool. It smelled like grass and hot concrete. Al knew this look, the tone. “Geez, Paul, can’t you wait until we start drinking?” He poured the scotch.
In the final month of her final summer working at Dairy Palace, Debbie Baker’s boss asked her to be the Dairy Princess in the end-of-summer parade. After three-and-a-half years of wearing a black-and-white cowhide-patterned paper crown while dispensing cone after cone of soft-serve every afternoon, it was finally her turn to wear a glittering tiara.
Molly’s work is different because it feels so human. If you saw one of her watercolors in an art museum, you wouldn’t think a second about it being out of place. Because it wouldn’t be.
Tommy rolls another joint and hands it over the back of the bench seat to the hippie chick riding shotgun in the 1966 VW van that picked him up more than an hour ago hitching on Highway 80 across the southern Idaho desert.