Publication Year: 2012
Sheehy's stories shine a spotlight on the bleak fringes of America, giving voice to the invisibles who need it most. A dismal assistant teacher spiking her coffee after school is suddenly locked in a basement with a student who has just witnessed his father's murder. A seventeen-year-old girl at a skate rink whose name no one can remember is motherless, friendless, and sure she will be the next to go. The heartbroken victim of a miscarriage dreams of her fetus's voyage through the earth's plumbing. The estranged addict son, certain of his innate goodness, loses himself in a blizzard and fails his family again. Sheehy's characters learn that however invisible they may feel and whatever their intentions, their actions incur a cost both to themselves and those around them. They struggle to tame or come to terms with the forces they meet—the tragedies—that are far larger than their small existences. In this debut, Sheehy illuminates the all-but-silent note of adult loneliness and how we cope with it or, perhaps, just move past it.
Published by: University of Georgia Press
Title Page, Copyright
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I gratefully acknowledge the publications in which the following stories appeared previously: “A Difficult Age,” Saint Ann’s Review 8, no. 1 (Summer/Fall 2008...
Meat and Mouth
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Maddy left Luke Dixon sitting in the bully’s chair and went to the Christmas-lighted window, willing the boy’s loser dad to drive that blue Ford truck out of the woods. His lateness was eating into her weekend...
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The end of my fifth summer singled it out forever in the stream of my childhood. Many days my mother and I cooked canned soup on a toy stovetop in our basement, pretending bombs had ruined the upstairs...
The Tea Party
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He fell in love, briefly, with a younger woman. They met on project and hit it off one morning in the coffee line, making small talk to ward off a panhandler...
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Now the snow poured down so Mason only glimpsed the road between wiper flaps. On the windows the snow built to ridges and fell away, and when he looked out seeking a familiar glimpse of flat, snowbound farmland...
Henrik the Viking
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Six weeks, seven. Perhaps one-third of women experienced light bleeding or spotting during the first trimester. About thirty percent of them miscarried. This last fact should not scare them, Dr. Kornblum elaborated in her California monotone, but give them hope: consider the 70 percent who got their babies...
Smiling Down at Ellie Pardo
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After the Second World War an ambitious developer cleared woods east of the city, measured acre lots, and built colonial houses and cottages. Though he’d had a vision of white money flocking to the country, when the bank seized the land...
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High above, propped-open windows let ghostly winter light into the station. Pigeons fluttered in and out, a constant disturbance of wings. He had seen five trains arrive and empty, fill with new passengers, and depart...
A Difficult Age
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Look at it this way. Fourteen years old and I stand six feet two inches high, a lummox with charm like the muttering lord of the dead. Last summer most of my mom’s breasts were removed, which is no excuse, though it is a reason...
After the Flood
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The Mississippi swells up and covers the town and the surrounding forest, devastating all visible creation. Hundreds of egrets fly north; there is no counting the dead. The steeple of St. Francis of Assisi marks the submerged...
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As the story went, the Dravinski family lived on a federally owned wildlife preserve south of the city. The man of the house, a naturalist, had gone to high school with Erik’s father, the sort of friend who never dropped in without a buddy. On the day this Dravinski telephoned, Erik saw his father happier...
Variations on a Theme
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When the park service truck pulled up, I was in the bathhouse office, penciling water temperatures in the logbook. The hum of the running engine gave me a nauseated kind of relief. Ranger Chuck jogged in, kid face showing...
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Page Count: 192
Publication Year: 2012
Series Title: Flannery O'Connor Award for Short Fiction