We’re pleased to present an excerpt from Kat Gardiner’s new collection Little Wonder today. Influenced by music and memories, the short stories in this collection center around Gardiner’s time in the town of Anacortes, Washington, and feature numerous appearances by notable musicians like Neko Case and Tiny Vipers. Gardiner’s distinct voice and sense of timing offer a unique perspective on the quotidian, the surreal, and the creative.
We stood in the courtyard by the stage and passed a bottle of red wine in a circle, while the other women stayed inside and talked about their children.
HER NAME WAS WOW
It was one of the two days we had off that summer. My husband nursed a sweating beer, and the wooden boat beneath us creaked with the movement of the current and the tide. He pointed to the small boat tied to the back of the boat we were on. “Why’d you name her that?” he asked.
Jake smiled into the lip of his IPA. “You’ll see,” he said.
Hours later, after the sun left us for the ocean, my husband and I lowered into the small boat to row to camp. It was slender, lithe. Constructed in the Native way, a rib cage of wood surrounded by the skin of some kind of ethylene instead of some kind of animal. I stepped in first, water unsteadying my feet, and sat down on the front bench. My husband came in next, pushed off and as he did, the floor exploded in phosphorescence. Glitter. A glow-in-the-dark ocean showing through the shell.
We were both in such awe, we didn’t even realize we were chanting her name.
WHEN TIFFANY DRESSED UP FOR HALLOWEEN, SHE WENT ALL OUT
He sat at the decoupage table in the corner and stared at the ground. His beard, bushy and giant. His neck curved down like his head was too heavy with all that booze in it. You could smell it on him from the counter; fresh from his mouth and stale from his clothes. His jacket, camel-colored and thick and covered in oil stains. When he hiccupped he wove with the exaggerated waves of a ship.
It wasn’t until he spoke that I realized who she was.