For the short story reader. Updated every Monday.

The Short Form

“from Children's Reminiscences of the Westward Migration”

Karen Russell


We have lived a string of dull, thirsty weeks. Everybody is irritable, and looking for someone to blame. Our wagons bump along, a pod of wooden leviathans, eaten away from the inside by mold and wood-boring mites. Our road is full of tiny perils, holes and vipers, festering wounds. Today would have been indistinguishable from the twenty before it, except that Clem and I finally got a good ball play going.

As soon as we got done striking camp and picketing the horses, we went exploring. Just north of the campsite, a quarter mile downstream, we found a clearing in a shallow stand of pines. In the center, a shrunken lake, an unlikely blue, was fringed with radish reeds. Behind us, you could see the white swell of the wagon sails, foaming over the trees. And the sky! The sky was the color that we'd been waiting for, our whole lives, it felt like. An otherworldly alloy of orange and violet, the one that meant a thunderstorm at sundown, and night rain for our stills.