Cover

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Anne Porter Prize Winners, Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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Contents

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pp. vii-vii

Acknowledgments

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pp. ix-x

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Honey

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pp. 1-4

The neighbor is in jail. The words snitch, rat, and dead man and two frowny faces are spray-painted the color of charcoal across his trailer. What idiot thinks a frowny face is threatening? Her laughter, edgily uncontrollable, feels inappropriate. Beside the trailer is a half dismembered motorcycle chained to cinderblocks, and below it, a large oil stain. ...

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Night Train

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pp. 5-22

From his upstairs glassed-in porch, Will has an osprey’s view of the water surrounding his dock, now lit by an underwater light. He is watching for snook. Some night soon, he is certain, there will be a net filled with a curving silver fish, and until then he can spend his time waiting. ...

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Void of Course

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pp. 23-34

I drag the suitcase through the rainy street, cursing and muttering. It scratches and thumps on the pavement because one of the back wheels is busted. Henry’s carrying a laundry bag over his shoulder, and it’s got a lot more crap in it than the suitcase. I always pack too much when I visit home, but Henry, he hasn’t complained once. ...

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The Expense of a View

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pp. 35-44

Lang arrived with flowers. The stems were wrapped in damp paper towel in his fist. When Gracie let him in, he brushed by her, emptied the old flowers into the garbage, and refilled the mason jar he had given her with the fresh ones. How would she tell him? ...

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Three of Swords

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pp. 45-56

An old man abducted a small child. She was four. I’m certain she was four. I saw it happen. He picked her up off the sidewalk and put her under his arm. She cried the whole time, but he called her by a name that wasn’t her name so no one would know he was a stranger. But I knew. ...

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Thinking About Carson

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pp. 57-64

My dog and I love the ocean. Daily, we wander up and down the coast. Today, like many days, we walked in the rain. Clean spray fell diagonally into my face and rested on my cheeks and nose and lips. Martin wandered up against the dunes weaving his way among the driftwood pieces, ...

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Compliance

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pp. 65-76

I work in Compliance now. This week anyway. Last week I worked in Acquisitions. I worked the phones, but they sent me to Compliance when I said, “Hello, Acquee, Acquiescence.” I knew it was not acquiescence, but I was flustered. The guy on the other end of the line said, “Excuse me?” like he was insulted. ...

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My Old Man

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pp. 77-90

My boy Quentin and I take walks in the morning. He shuffles and stops often to cough and lean on the wood cane Dr. Brad gave him before we left the city. The steady sound of the creek is always all around us, and the air smells of dry grass. Quentin is happier here than in the city, and so am I. ...

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My Doppelganger’s Arms

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pp. 91-104

When I first saw her, she was wearing a long-sleeved, white T-shirt and gray men’s cotton pants rolled up almost to her knees. She was carrying a white Styrofoam cup with a lid and a straw as she walked along the beach. I noticed her from far off because she looked so aimless, not like someone walking briskly down the beach, ...

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Festival

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pp. 105-122

Baby Michelle slept like a kitten against Sheila’s chest, Nick’s white crew hat completely covering her face so it was hard to tell she was anything other than part of the baby sack. Nick lifted the edge of the hat with his thumb, but all he saw was the hat’s arcing shadow; even her tiny red fists had disappeared into folds of cloth. ...

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How to Make an Island

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pp. 123-134

Edith is leaving. Her friends are having a party for her on a boat. She invited me because we’re always together and because she’s scared of boats. She said she’d feel safe if I was with her. All around us is gray water and gray air. Fog moves among the coastal mountains. In the distance are low islands. ...

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Blue Plastic Shades

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pp. 135-154

Fred’s mother switched on his clown face lamp and leaned over him with a damp washcloth. He lay in his little red bed, afloat, sweating, a glass of water bluish on the bed stand. She folded the cloth in three parts and placed it across his forehead. “Take a sip of water, Freddy,” she said and propped his pillows up behind him. ...

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The Grandmother’s Vision

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pp. 155-160

The grandmother, Carolina, had gathered all the family members who were still alive and not incarcerated to the lake to scatter her youngest son’s ashes. One-armed Billy, Charlotte, and Duke with his metal canes were the only three of the seven who fit the bill, except for Jordan, ...

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The Island of Cats

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pp. 161-171

The surface of the water is the color of metal. Gray reflects gray. The canoe slips into steely water. Mud squelches under Billy’s tennis shoes like weight sucking him into the shoreline. This weight feels right, normal, the slow sucking of each step, the slow and constant effort. ...