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November 12, 2011 Little Hossein was the first person I knew who died. We started calling him Little Hossein when Big Hossein moved down from the mountains to live with his brother Mohammed, our cook. Little Hossein was older than me, but just my size.
November 12, 2011 When dad and me came over the dunes, we saw the clot of boys down near the water, their naked suntanned legs blocking the guy who washed up on the beach overnight. Dad pushed his way in, and they let him since he's on the force even when he's not dressed like it.
November 10, 2011 The old man started it. In simpler days, when Martin was a boy, he and his father had been able to go to the airport and watch the planes take off and land from any gate they wished.
November 10, 2011 Emma's frustration couldn't get her across the river fast enough. She blasted the radio to hear over the din of traffic. Her voice was silenced when a truck ahead smashed a compact into a van a few cars ahead.
November 4, 2011 Today, it is a brownstone rowhouse with concrete steps. I stand on the second one and knock. The man who appears at the door wears jeans and a plain gray t-shirt. I tell him that my name is Moira, that I'm not from around here, that I'm hungry and in need of a place to sleep.
November 4, 2011 Her nose drained down her lip, tried to freeze there, but dropped to a button on her coat. Winter's gravity pulled everything toward the sidewalk. She imagined stopping there, but the wind pushed her legs further down the street. Rusty pulled up in his truck, yanked his coat and briefcase toward him, and pled with her to accept the offer.
November 2, 2011 Marion's wife was obsessed with snow villages. She had begun collecting them three years prior, after their son entered rehab for the fourth time.
November 2, 2011 The train squealed to a stop. He waited for the doors to open, but only the one on the left obliged. He stepped on to the platform. Bitter air blasted his face and fingers. He tightened the strap of a lightly packed duffel bag that hung on his back, just below the shoulder blades.
October 30, 2011 When Tad's mother found she no longer needed sleep, they left town. It was full, she said, of dirty old men and devil worshippers. She drove north, away from the Mason-Dixon line. Tad wasn't scared. He rode in the back, between the blue fold-down seats, on a blanket that smelled like Sarah the Doberman.
October 29, 2011 We could've camped back in the junipers, two famished birds, a hairbreadth away from each other. Our language might've been more faithful; the lights might've been on in our thinking. We could've done without that edge, without that gaping hole, without that no-sound of the desert thrumming in our ears, stoning us in.
October 23, 2011 When Myrna first laid the egg we were both really excited. It was the color of butter, with freckles just like Myrna's freckles. We took the normal goofy photos: Myrna holding the egg up in front of her belly and doing the "I-can't-believe-this-was-inside-me!" face, the egg wearing my A's hat. We felt really warm and proud.
October 23, 2011 I'd been thinking of it so long it seemed like the only thing to do — to show my baby, who had eyes as green as water and whose name means the sea, the ocean.
October 22, 2011 Wren and Mark had a lot in common. They liked sweet potato fries more than regular ones and the movie Gattaca. When they were together, they drank white wine and hypothesized about passers-by. Gay or straight? Fat or pregnant? Homeless or hipster?
October 16, 2011 Darius Kroger had a talent for moving impossibly heavy objects. When he was a child he could haul a cast iron stove uphill, on one shoulder, as if it were a knapsack, or stack cows on top of one another half a dozen deep. As a young man, he once lifted a three story house off its foundations without upsetting the teacups on the kitchen table or the water in the upstairs bathtub.
October 15, 2011 When the woman fell from the sky, she survived long enough to utter one word: "crane." Later, we debated what she'd meant. The bird? The machine? The verb? A name? Someone even vaguely suggested that she'd gasped out a different word entirely. That maybe we'd misheard.
October 15, 2011 Sonya stared at the dust that kicked up when the SUV drove away. Dried leaves swirled in its wake. Her fingers, red and swollen from her shift at the slaughter house, plucked at the edges of a kitchen towel. What had the man said?
October 15, 2011 Later, the woman in the blue silk blouse would say that he stumbled. I would see her on the news, on the little wood-grained TV high on the wall in the hospital room. The stranger who grabbed for his elbow as he fell, who gave him CPR afterwards — later she would say that out of the corner of her eye she saw him stumble.
October 8, 2011 The first time I heard Mr. Cargould's full name was the day he won first prize in the raffle. I was down at the station for the drawing, hoping to take one of the cash prizes, but no, 20 tickets to Mr. Cargould's one, and it's his name Janice pulls first from the bin: "The Weatherby bolt action rifle goes to: Mr. Preston T. Cargould!"
October 8, 2011 "There's been a lot of turnover at that house," his mother, Patti, told her friend on the phone when the Lillers moved out. Forrest drew the house next door standing on its chimney with its wire- and pipe-filled crawlspace kicking in the air like a kid doing a handstand. Turnover.
October 2, 2011 Brilliant rays of piercing sunlight broke through the wisps of mystifying clouds in the morning. A train churned to a halt as travelers and passengers began to flow out. Somewhere, a bird answered the train's whistle with a song of its own. It was his first time here.
October 2, 2011 "Please don't say that," Mommy pleaded. "You know it hurts my feelings." Contrary to her tone, she held a fixed smile that spoke to a larger contentment. Her skin appeared almost bloodless, virgin. One might say she never looked better. "I'll say what I want." Daddy, on the other hand, had seen prouder days.
November 13, 2011 One sip should be enough. One long sip should fill the burning hole in my stomach. But then after the first sip the hole gets bigger and burns harder. I need another. Pretty soon the beer is a joke, like trying to put out a brush fire with the leftover ice in a glass. I need something stronger.
November 13, 2011 You are out in the twilight of Wilmington when everything is blue and you are very tired so you drive and drive and drive and drive until the sky is red because pollution spreads this far, you know, and the radio in your car plays songs you didn't even know existed...
November 13, 2011 She has grown so fat that she spills out of her bedroom slippers. The swollen, cracked skin on the bottom of her feet scratches against the hardwood floors as she treads down the hall. When she reaches kitchen with its smooth ceramic tile floor the shuffling stops.
November 12, 2011 For Round 7 of our contest, we asked you to send us original works of fiction that have a character come to town and someone leave town. After reading more than 3,000 entries, we have picked our winner!
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