July/Aug 2016 • Vol. XXXVIII No. 4 FictionJuly 1, 2016 |

Wintering Over

At first the old man hadn't seen the creature so much as signs of its passage: vine maples moving contrary to the wind, a shadow shape-shifting above his cabin, a thing more spectral than material. Later he found scat on the trail leading to the creek hydro generator and, later still, prints in the mud above the beach. He was no outdoorsman—despite his famous self-confidence (his youngest daughter would say infamous) he made no claim to woodcraft expertise—but the extended claws, the proximate toes, the deep print were almost certainly a bear, a grizzly most likely, although it would be later, after Flynn delivered the spotting scope, that he would discover she was a sow with two cubs. By June, after the snow had melted from the higher clear-cuts, when the green-up was reaching full bloom, he would watch her through the scope as she and her cubs fed on the sedges and horsetails and cow parsnips. Once he was fairly certain the bears were feeding on a carcass, although whether it

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Neil Mathison’s short story “The Cannery” won the 2013 Fiction Attic Short Story Contest and has just been published in Modern Shorts: 18 Short Stories from Fiction Attic Press.

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