Cover

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Front Matter

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Acknowledgments

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Contents

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Country Girls

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pp. 1-24

THE PICTURE on the cover of the dairy magazine was of a middle-aged farm woman, about forty, smiling directly, yet shyly, into the camera. She wore five blue ribbons around her neck. Her skin was clear, almost translucent, and her eyes were lovely and innocent, not the innocence of the religious devout or a child ...

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Wide Like an Eagle’s Wings

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pp. 25-50

MANNY STOOD on top of the weathered wooden cable spool in her yard, trying to see what Senator John F. Kennedy would see if he visited her family’s farm on his campaign tour. Beyond their paint-peeled barn and aluminum tractor shed with the unhinged door was their clumpy cow pasture, ...

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La Maison de Madame Durard

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pp. 51-64

HOPING IT would make her seem dramatic, like someone from out of town, Marie undid the buttons on her coat so the fabric fell open around her hips and the hem draped her ankles. Peter Schneiweiss and a few townies were bowling. At the end of the bar, in her jacket ...

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Mr. Hellerman’s Vacation

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pp. 65-82

MR. LAWRENCE Hellerman’s brain is yawning against the slick coat of drugs the psych nurses give him to sleep. His mind moves like a glacier sliding south, leaving odd deposits on the landscape: a shoe burning in the fire, the eyes of deer like a trail of turds, work boots, hunting knives, ...

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The EE Cry

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pp. 83-96

FRANK WASN’T sleeping at night. Instead, he sat on the living room couch and made lists of the new spring diets he and Barbara would start in the morning, like the six-day “Wild Rice Diet.” You eat plain wild rice the first two days, the second two days you eat wild rice salad, and the last two you eat wild rice casserole. ...

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Alfalfa

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pp. 97-106

IT’S EIGHT-FORTY p.m. on a Saturday night and Ruthie Marie Hinnenkamp is not out driving around the countryside with her boyfriend John and her best friend Margaret in John’s El Camino. She is not squeezed between John’s hard hip bone and Margaret’s fatted thighs; she is not lusting after either of them. ...

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Vegetative States

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pp. 107-120

I STAND at my Auntie Jenny’s hospital bed and watch her breathe. That’s all she has to do—makes living look easy. Whenever Auntie Jenny forgets to breathe, a gray machine wheezes and feeds some mix of oxygen into her lungs. The air pushes her chest up and then her lungs slowly deflate. ...

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Mother

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pp. 121-140

FROM WHERE she sits at the desk in her bedroom, Deborah can hear her mother, who has been camped on the living room couch for three days, nibbling saltines. The low hum of the soap operas, even though Deborah has insisted she wear headphones, penetrates the walls and Deborah’s skin. ...

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The Fifth Season

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pp. 141-156

“DO YOU remember when all the neighborhood kids had ringworm?” he asked me from his hospital bed, inviting me to imagine, I suppose, that the lesions corrupting his brain were a similar phenomenon. I said yes, but really only one kid in the neighborhood had had ringworm, and it wasn’t even ringworm—it was impetigo. Or so I remember. ...

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Heavier Than Air

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pp. 157-172

LINDA PREVKEY closed her eyes, and her immaculate voice, a voice I’d rarely heard outside prayers, floated above the rest of our bored sixth-grade voices. The veins in her lids were the same blue as the eyes they covered. We stood in a circle at the front of our desks, reciting our last morning Act of Contrition. ...

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Stigmata

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pp. 173-186

LINDA PREVKEY closed her eyes, and her immaculate voice, a voice I’d rarely heard outside prayers, floated above the rest of our bored sixth-grade voices. The veins in her lids were the same blue as the eyes they covered. We stood in a circle at the front of our desks, reciting our last morning Act of Contrition. ...