We hadn’t yet left the house when the first harbinger hit. It was late May and almost two years since Wife No. 5’s departure (my mother was No. 1 and would have left my father like the other four if she hadn't had a stroke first).
After three years on the island, I stepped off the ferry, back onto the mainland and was greeted by the cruel sound of children eating ice cream. There had been no such treats on the island. No children. I would see my own son tonight at 8 o’clock, but would I recognize him?
In January, I lost my motivation. That didn’t seem so weird. It always happens in January. First, I make the resolution, then I lose the motivation. It’s an annual thing, like those swallows at Capistrano or how everyone is suddenly Irish in March.
He’d bought the microwave two months ago, after Julie moved out. She took their microwave. And their cat. Those were the two things they’d bought together as a couple: a microwave and a cat. In retrospect an ominous pairing. She left her four yoga balls and a blanket.
Aidan Baker didn’t know everything about the world, but he was pretty sure senior prom wasn’t supposed to smell faintly of manure. And in all his mom’s old favorite teen movies, the music at prom had never had to compete with the screech of the train wheels on steel rails.
Apple Pirn stood in front of the kitchen window in her old Vermont farmhouse among the fruit flies and cidery light wearing a thrift store blouse with the front unbuttoned to expose her sagged breast. The man on the telephone had told her to wait and so she was waiting.
When her daughter comes in wearing a mask, Margery thinks she’s dreaming. She thinks this isn’t the real world. The ghosts in the walls knock. The cockroaches fall out of the cupboards. “Listen, Dad. I really need you to come with us to the new house."
John watched a blackbird light on the window sill. Feeling numb, he looked away and further berated himself. “He’s so self-enclosed,” he overheard Samantha tell their oldest. “He doesn’t hear me.” The children knew and didn’t know. They moved in his presence like worlds in orbit.
Naturally, it was surprising to wake up the way we did, with the clocks and calendars wrong, and the direction of the sunsets and sunrises switched, but soon enough the unthinkable became routine, as it always does.
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.
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.