Fall 2013 • Vol. XXXV No. 4 FictionOctober 1, 2013 |

Cicadas

When the grandfather clock standing behind her strikes four, Hannah Strawhecker sets aside the quilt she is making for her father-in-law. Four o'clock means it's time for his milk. The Mason jar is still upstairs on the bedside table. She always has him drink out of the same one. If the jar ever breaks she will see it as a portent, then laugh at herself and go down to the cellar to get another one. Running her hand up the smooth banister, she thinks of all the hands of her husband's family, their rights going up, their lefts coming down. Upstairs she places her ear to the door, stops her breathing to listen to his. It's July and he's dying in his grandson's bed. Aden gave up his room back in May when it was decided Hannah would take care of Pug through the summer. Hannah's father died three years ago and there was nothing she could do to save him. While she knows there's nothing she can do to save her husband's father either, she can at least bring him a glass of milk, one in th

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Austin Smith is currently a Wallace Stegner Fellow in Fiction at Stanford. He has had poems published in the New Yorker, Sewanee Review, Yale Review, Pleiades, Poetry East, and others. His first collection of poems, Almanac, was chosen by Paul Muldoon for the Princeton Contemporary Poets Series and will be published by Princeton University Press.

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When the grandfather clock standing behind her strikes four, Hannah Strawhecker sets aside the quilt she is making for her father-in-law. Four o'clock means it's time for his milk. The […]

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