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by Kim Magowan

We’re checking in at the campsite, and the girl in the window reminds us to use flashlights at night. “It gets really dark, with only starlight. You need to watch for the low, sturdy stumps.”

“Low sturdy skunks?” repeats my baffled husband.

The window girl laughs and laughs.

As we carry our sleeping bags and gear to our cabin, Gina says, “Watch out for the skunks, Dad. They may be short, but they’re sturdy.” Annie laughs, all of us laugh, so much harder than when Charles intends to joke.

Somewhere here is a metaphor for marriage: a flashlight casts its pie-wedge over pine-needles; obscure shapes crouch in the dark.


Kim Magowan lives in San Francisco and teaches in the Department of Literatures and Languages at Mills College. Her short story collection Undoing won the 2017 Moon City Press Fiction Award and was published in March 2018. Her novel The Light Source is forthcoming from 7.13 Books in 2019. Her fiction has been published in Atticus Review, Bird’s Thumb, Cleaver, The Gettysburg Review, Hobart, New World Writing, Sixfold, and many other journals. She is fiction editor of Pithead Chapelkimmagowan.com 

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