Cover

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Title Page

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Copyright Page

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Table of Contents

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Echo Sounder

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pp. 3-20

Mares’s father wakes her in the aching hours before dawn. Summer, and all is stagnant, unmoving, save the crickets who call through her open window, uneasily in their warm night’s cadence. “I have something to show you,” her father says, scooping Mares in his arms...

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Gatlinburg

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pp. 21-24

Well, it’s not a word I’d use in everyday talk, she says. She gets up, opens the oven door to check on their meal. Heat and the smell of food that’s lived too long in the freezer vapors over her face. She closes the oven door, the food needing a minute more. I’m not even sure I know what accoutrement means, she says...

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Matters of Breeding

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pp. 25-31

My clothing and luggage are spread on the bed. She’s spread on the bed, too, freshly showered, naked. It’s three a.m., Monday. New York City’s settled. We’ve been together six months, she and I...

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Zebra

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pp. 32-47

The eulogy is short. Kinina doesn’t cry, sits quietly with the woman and man who want her to call them Mom and Dad, with their sixteen-year-old son, Grant. “He’s your brother now,” the woman says. They’re white. Kinina is not...

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Animals

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pp. 48-53

She blacks out often. Acne scars her breasts. White wine, vodka, and a splash of red Gatorade mixed in a Smucker’s jam jar—that’s her drink, what makes her black out...

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Orphans

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pp. 54-62

My parents were killed when I was nineteen. The propane tank on the trailer home somehow exploded, chewed them up in a bright blue flame. “Poor girl,” people said. I was sad, but everyone else seemed sadder, which I didn’t understand. People die. That’s what they do...

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Hit-and-Run

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pp. 63-80

It’s nine p.m., Williamsburg, Brooklyn. It’s sheeting rain, the first solid rain in two months, and the ground, hardened by the summer heat, refuses to absorb it. The runoff floods the street, the sidewalk, traveling in wide, swift streams...

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Aching Hours

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pp. 81-83

It’s been some time since they were a couple, at least a month. Probably longer. Maybe three. They look like siblings. Sloane says no, wants nothing to do with him now. Still he persists, stands in front of her building in the aching hours of morning, every morning, and calls out her name. He calls it but once, loud and begging. “Sloane!” he calls...

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Orient

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pp. 84-98

I’m clapped, Leesa thinks, certain the man following her into the Macy’s lingerie section is security. Pausing at a pile of sale underwear, she buries the stolen watch and sifts through the panties, like she’s shopping...

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Separate

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pp. 99-107

My father has no left hand. He lost it in an accident when I was an infant, leaving him a rounded stub dark and as rough as bark. Growing up, it’d terrify me. I hated him tucking me into bed at night, his stump jabbing at the sheets and cover like a nightstick. Even now, at twenty-four, I’m creeped out by it. Whenever he’s in...

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Prenuptial

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pp. 108-111

He says nothing, unlocks the apartment door and allows her in first. It’s Saturday, early August, late afternoon. The hallway smells of boiled cabbage, old tea. It smells of burnt plastic. The boy closes the battered door behind him, bolts both the locks...

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Breaking Up

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pp. 112-118

I won’t recommend the Empire State Building, that’s for sure. The Empire State Building I wouldn’t recommend as a place to break up. Not unless you’ve been drinking and don’t mind a tearful elevator ride down, long and awkward and packed with foreigners and foreign languages, everyone but you and her overjoyed by the...

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Three Days. A Month. More

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pp. 119-128

The room, hot from the late spring sun cutting through the bare windows, smells of burnt onions and bad milk. “You itchy?” Lena asks her sister. She itches, has been itchy ever since Raho spent the night between her and Maria on their dingy, gray-sheeted bed, Raho and Maria squirming about every few...

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Acknowledgments

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pp. 129-130

I’d like to thank Ronald Spatz for publishing my first story and Laura Furman, Dave Eggers, and Zadie Smith for championing it; Frederic Tuten for his instruction and insight; John McCaffrey, Chris Ross, and Heidi Durrow for their helpful critiques and support; Terra Chalberg for her publishing expertise; Aaron Burch and Hobart; Thom Didato and the entire Failbetter crew...

Back Cover

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