Sleepless and ruminating at midnight, Phoebe gives up, gets up, and looks out her bedroom window at the night’s full winter moon, street-light bright, sharp-edged, with an icy-looking cloud hanging beside it. A couple, illuminated in the moonlight, ice-skates on the small neighborhood pond across the street. For a moment she thinks the couple could be her father and Dotty, his second wife, waltzing across the ice. Her father was once a very good ice-skater and dancer and has led Phoebe in occasional waltzes around a dance floor or an ice rink. As the couple skates closer, she sees it’s someone else, someone much younger, no one she knows, but playing at romance and showing off, the way Dad and Dotty might have done under her window on a winter night. The skater holds the woman close and leans toward her mouth. Just as Phoebe thinks he’s about to kiss her, he spins her away, her short woolen skirt flaring, and races ahead, teasing. He looks up and briefly makes eye contact with Phoebe at her window, a look she interprets as intrusive and cocky.
In which Danko’s kin do not stamp out his flaming heart, but place it gently back inside his chest. by Shane Inman
In which the weakest of Danko’s kin, so timid in old Izergil’s telling, kneels with a needle chipped from his rib and a thread woven from his sinew and stitches the young man’s chest so delicately he leaves no scar.
At first, the shining darkness appeared to be an island. Or were they imagining it? The four friends had been to this beach at the edge of this ocean for three consecutive years, but no one could remember ever seeing an island. “Maybe there’s a crack in the ocean floor and last night magma seeped through and created an island,” Stacey suggested. The others nodded and made noises of approval because they were young and hungry for earth-moving events. They watched the island as it seemed to rise and fall with the waves until they realized that it was getting closer. Could islands move? “Maybe it’s a whale,” Colin said, and then they all saw it as if for the first time. A whale.
The hawks are circling fast in a dark blue sky. A slow breeze blows, shaking the chain-link fence around the yard. The sun is high and hot, and I am either humble or bored. Like everything has already been written, and I’m just highlighting the parts I want to remember.
Mark was behind the counter at Java Time that day, which pleased no one because while he was a nice guy (the first thing anyone said about him: just the nicest guy), he was also a remedial person with the dopey goodness of a golden retriever—symbolically golden, a retriever who has never suffered—an affect that permeated every facet of his work, from the quality of his soy-milk foams (flaccid), to the strength of his drip coffee (burnt), so we all endured an internal clench when we saw him, though no one, previously, had clenched with such unmediated extravagence as Jesse on the fabled day when he discovered Brittney Kern post (and also pre) coitally in bed with Danny Miller following one of Brittney’s infamous pool parties, to which Jesse had not been invited on account of his still-delicate, sub-ninety-day sobriety and the inevitability of drunken debauches at a Brittany party, which caused more than a few of us to question the wisdom of this particular relationship at this particular time…
Rick brought the girls, when they came up the mountain to get away from the tsunami the scientists had predicted. They were adult women, but Edith, in her late sixties, thought of them as girls. Nice girls, young ladies, but still very young, neither of them much over twenty-five. Far from home, if their homes even still existed, they both needed some mothering and Edith felt happy to give it. She never got to see her grandchildren as often as she wanted, and now she worried about them and their mother, Edith’s daughter.
I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but when the monsters came…
What’s that now? When the first behemoth stood before us, were we filled with awe? Were we terrified? Having often thought of ourselves as greater than, did we finally think of ourselves as less than? Even much less than? Did we gaze upon the titan and equate humanity, in the grand scheme of things, with ants? Or not quite ants, maybe grubs? Did we tacitly decide definitely not amoebae because amoebae can seriously mess your shit up, and us, well, confronted by the embodiment of our existential dread, did we lose the capacity to think we could mess your shit up anymore? Could it be, listening to the roar of the colossal creature, that we mentally ceded our place at the top of the food chain, bowing before the sublimity of this leviathan?
Two weeks after his daughter began first grade at Peck, Skip Whittaker left his family at home in northern Jersey and found an apartment off the southern stretch of Lake Placid’s Main Street. Eighteen years had passed since the world descended upon the town of two thousand for the 1980 Olympics, to which local authorities had built a 90,000-square-foot museum in the town’s center. When Skip Whittaker arrived that October, banners bearing the Games’ interlocked rings still hung in situ from lampposts in the center of town.