“The Grove”

When you’re trying to build momentum as a writer, every publication feels like a major victory. I woke to excellent news this morning. Bridge Eight plans to publish my short story, “The Grove,” in its third issue, to be released in November 2015.

Here are a few paragraphs to whet your whistle.

The boy whips a green hickory nut across the shaded yard, and Dog—a hundred and ten pounds of furred muscle— launches after it. His little sister laughs at the rooster tail of sand thrown by the dog’s hind feet. The boy shushes. The little girl claps both hands over her mouth.

The boy is thin and tall for his age, his skin smooth and sun browned. He is barefoot and shirtless in cutoff Sears Toughskins. He trots toward the dog in one rut of the long sandy driveway that runs beside the house, a cluster of tiny black gnats pursuing him. Dog drops the slobbery hickory nut at his feet.

“Good boy,” he says. The little girl, like the gnats, always pursuing the boy, catches up with them and throws her arms around Dog’s neck. The boy throws the nut again.

Dog patrols their nine acres of pasture, their few cattle and horses, and the old tin-roofed house set back in the hardwoods beside the big orange grove. He chases away the coyotes and stray dogs that sometimes emerge from the grove to harass the livestock. Dog killed a stray once when it tried to attack a new colt barely on its legs. The boy had buried the dog in the pasture where it fell with its throat torn out. Sometimes Dog disappears into the grove for a long time. The boy waits for him until he returns with sand spurs in his coat and rabbit’s blood on his muzzle.

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