Cover

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pp. 1-9

Contents

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pp. ix-x

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My Mother's Stories

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pp. 1-13

They were going to throw her away when she was a baby. The doctors said she was too tiny, too frail, that she wouldn't live. They performed the baptism right there in the sink between their pots of boiling water and their rows of shining instruments, chose who would be her godparents, used water straight from the tap. ...

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The Eyes of Children

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pp. 14-24

The two seventh-grade girls came running to the playground, their pink cheeks streaked with tears, the pleated skirts of their navy-blue uniforms snapping in the wind. It was a windy Friday. Some of the children looked at the sky to see if it would rain. ...

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The Evening News

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pp. 25-43

Their fears appear nightly, as routinely as the newscaster's face. Framed by the plastic black rectangle of the portable color television set Maria's parents had given them, the newscaster's head and shoulders normally fill two-thirds of the screen, and the man's face is always calm, pale salmon. ...

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My Father's Laugh

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pp. 44-69

My name is Thaddeus Alexander Cooper III, but you can call me Thaddeus. I'm sitting here in Marsha's bedroom looking out the window and writing this, and I'm wondering when it's going to rain. I know that it will rain. That and the fact that I'm writing this to save my goddamn life are the only two things I'm certain of. ...

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The Daughter and the Tradesman

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pp. 70-82

She knew she wouldn't be bothered if they thought she was still asleep. Their sounds were harsh and sudden: one of the aluminum chairs scraped against the kitchen floor; the heavy frying pan slammed the top of the stove. Soon she would smell coffee. Bobbi knew their routine well. ...

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Idling

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pp. 83-91

Sometimes when I'm hauling I drive right past her house. The Central Avenue exit from the Kennedy Expressway, and then north maybe two, three miles. The front is red brick and the awnings are striped, like most of the other houses on Central Avenue. ...

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The Transplant

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pp. 92-105

The forsythia yellowed the northern city's spring, and Luke wanted to get drunk as he lay in bed and once again began to read Melissa's letter. The smoke from his cigarette curled golden in the room. The coffee in the mug next to him grew cool. ...

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The Intersection

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pp. 106-116

We stood in small circles on the grass by the intersection. I wanted to touch Stacey's hand. It was barely morning. The sun was just coming up. I wanted to tell Stacey that I hoped she was all right and not afraid. That I was not afraid. A boy on the ground was bleeding from his forehead where the policemen had clubbed him. ...

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World Without End

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pp. 117-127

"Gloria in excelsis Deo," Peter said as he steered his squeaking Chevy down Hampton Boulevard, a Winston bouncing on his lip. Glory be to God on high. It was Sunday morning, Memorial Day weekend, the beginning of the tourist season. Most of Norfolk's residents and visitors were eating breakfast or still in bed, asleep. ...

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The Walk-On

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pp. 128-146

In the beginning Nick sits in a second-row desk, the first day of a fall semester sophomore speech class, eagerly tapping his feet and chewing bubble gum. He stands when the instructor nods to him, jogs to the front of the room, cocks his baseball cap, then leans over to get the catcher's signals. ...

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Nonna

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pp. 147-161

Follow her now as she slowly walks down Loomis toward Taylor, her heavy black purse dangling at her side. Though it is the middle of summer she wears her black overcoat. The air conditioning is too cold inside the stores, she thinks. But the woman is not sure she is outside today to do her shopping. ...