For the next two Sundays, we’ll be looking back at some of the highlights from the past year’s worth of Sunday Stories. What follows are excerpts from a few of the stories that we published this year; there are plenty more to delve into in our archive.
Mona’s paradiddles echoed maddeningly through the days. Her hands brought rhythm out from every surface: from the kitchen counters as she cooked, from the coffee table as they ate, from the thin hallway as she wandered the apartment after dinner. And sometimes, at night, Ellie swore she could hear the paradiddle against the pockmarked wall between the two bedrooms.
From Catherine Tung’s “Paradiddle” (March 17).
Those first few days had been bottomless — finding out it wasn’t mono, which, feeling increasingly devitalized, she’d assumed it was (how scandalous, she’d thought, a grown woman with the kissing disease) — she might have inured herself to thoughts of the future. There was so much inside her to be angry at, so much that was out of her control, the least she could do was forgive herself this selfishness.
From Nicole Haroutunian’s “To Be Old” (July 7).
As a teenager she details facts about these distressing objects, people, and situations in her silver journal. She attempts to write poems explaining their power over her. Her classmates boldly watch Twin Peaks and The Shining at slumber parties. They read Stephen King novels at night while Tatum prays and listens to vintage Paul Simon CDs instead.
From Ursula Villarreal-Moura’s “Parts of Laura Palmer” (August 11).
At the early end of the night she told him to get in her car and they drove to her place where she picked out a crooked box pregnant with beer and they took it and drove out along Highway Nine to the lake where they parked and wandered through the dark to the pier stretching out twenty feet over the lake loud with fish cresting the calm waters. He set the soles of his feet right there at the top of lake and they leaned back and looked and he could swear he saw the purple galaxies dusted over the stars. She drove him back and he slept.
From J David Osbourne’s “Like Most Things Easy” (September 22).
The biggest trout ever taken out of Mt. Hood Lake couldn’t have pushed seven pounds. I wondered if Grandma might break that record now, but I also worried that the yellowed, frayed line on her pole might not stand up to a bigger fish. I’d been in too much of a hurry to hit the road and had failed to prepare the way I usually do.
From Cameron Pierce’s “Our Love Will Go the Way of the Salmon” (March 31).
A decade later, I find myself wondering who I would be if I had never walked down that staircase—it feels as though I would be a shade less myself. But I did walk down those stairs, and maybe I even knew a little bit at the time, though I couldn’t have known entirely, that the earthquake was coming, the one that would crack open a chasm that separated my life Before from After. Everything feels momentous and nothing feels serious at nineteen. Nothing like this has ever happened to anyone else before, and it can’t possibly matter in the long run yet.
From Laura Goode’s “If You Still Hate Birds” (November 3, 2013).
I want to look back on my life and remember it happily and lovingly and proudly, and if I have to remember my life differently, if that will make me happier, then yes, I want to remember differently.
From Joseph Riippi’s “Because I Want So Badly to Be Loved” (April 7).
If you like what you’ve read, there are plenty more in our archive.