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Hitchhiking Across an Ancient Sea

Kristine Kathryn Rusch

The prairie grass, rich and tall and fine, tickles my chest as I walk. A child could get lost here. I’m six-eight, and I feel dwarfed by the endless vista of grasses, undulating in the breeze. The air smells fresh, like a sea breeze, and I wonder what Karen will think as she stands at the edge of the prairie, land stretching far as the eye can see.


The rain slanted sideways the day Nikki arrived, hard, pelting rain without chill, the kind of storm unique to the Pacific coast. I had just pulled my boat in—the day’s catch not quite what I expected—when she stopped in front of McIver’s Store.

She was driving a brand new Volvo, dark blue, obviously a tourist car because the paint-job wouldn’t have survived in the salt-laden air more than a month. Her legs were long, her hair dark and red, her eyes covered with sunglasses despite the darkness of the day. But it wasn’t so much her body I was looking at. It was the air of silence she carried around her, like a piece of fragile glass separating her from the world. Sylvia Plath called that glass a bell jar, and I hadn’t seen one since my mother’s shattered twenty-five years before.

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