An installment in our weekly series, The By and By.
In the West Virginia of long ago, when it was a place with work that lured people, rather than spitting them out into the world, the Calabrians came to mine the coal, the Sicilians to lay the rails, the Abruzzese to chisel lovely stonework on the railroad tunnels and passes—you can still find that abandoned work in places, overgrown in ivy and filth, the names of its artisans lost to history.
A short story from our Winter 1995 issue.
They said adolescent despair; they said anger turned inward; if they were Sidney Grau, M.D., Ph.D, consoling Tansy’s mother by the family's blue expanse of swimming pool on New Year’s Eve, they said troubled child at the end of the twentieth century. But Tansy’s sadness, which was hers and no one else’s, didn’t explain why this pair who looked like her mother and father suddenly had morphed into Mike and Carol Brady on an extended car trip: sharing the road, taking time to smell the flowers, smiling vacant, creepy smiles.
A Points South story from the 100th issue.
In public, she wore head wraps so tight they gave her headaches. Nevertheless, at some point, the hissing caused people to stop what they were doing and squint all around, in search of the sound that happened to be coming from her scalp. It was awkward, and also dangerous, for she was being hunted.
A short story by John McManus.
I first met Max on my way home from the Gulp, a bottomless whirlpool in the Everglades where people go to commit suicide. This was in 2005. You have to hike six miles along a blackwater canal dug by Andrew Jackson’s slaves, to a remote lake where you wade out until you’re sucked under to drown. Your body turns up in the Intracoastal Waterway. I don’t know the physics of it.
Boys looking for trouble, strangers on a Jet Ski, and a once-in-a-lifetime catch. A short story from our Fall 2009 issue.
Two brothers, both tattooed, came to this place years ago. In the drear of evening, they stripped to their long johns and, both feeling buxom with drink, swam to the sunken highway. It had gone under winters ago. Long after the road had ceased to be a thoroughfare of logical travel, a dike gave way and the lake waters rose and the asphalt sections broke and what remained was a ramp of pavement and loose rebar leaving the shore and going down into the murk. Like a road leading to the frigid nethers of the world.
A short story from the Summer 2018 issue.
Instead of coming to my birthday party, Shelby decided to become a Mormon. Every year since I turned nine it was me, my Nan, and Shelby eating meringue and lighting off snakes and spinners. Then her new church threw her a potluck, and she picked deviled eggs and dip over me. I got so mad I wanted to tell her what I really thought. That she was only getting saved—converted, dunked, brought into the light, whatever—because her dad said he’d pay for BYU. She knew her tips would never cover West Virginia, so she was going along with the God stuff.