Marcel Jolley


Of course there is no contingency plan for a search party. Becky is wary even to use that term. Hansen is not missing. They simply do not know where he is.

“Isn’t that pretty much the definition of missing?”

“Being snippy won’t help, Cassie,” Becky says.

“And we’re sure he doesn’t have his phone with him?”

“He was swimming, Liz,” Becky says. “And the boys know we have a strict no electronics policy when camping.”

Cassie hides her chuckle beneath a throat clearing. Everyone in this group of mothers has heard the chirping of texts echoing among bird calls since their arrival at the camp. The pricy REI and North Face tents keep out the rain and cold but at night cannot hide the glow of screens from within. Hansen has never been burdened by rules anyway, as evidenced by his swimming beyond the approved area without a buddy.

“Well,” Becky says. “Whatever we do, we do not need to alarm the other boys.”

“I assume most of them already know,” Sarah B says. “Which boys were here, Cassie?”

Cassie studies the dirt under her shoes. With twenty plus boys wearing interchangeable Under Armour and Nike gear, she has trouble telling Carsons from Hunters from Hansens.

“Finn, Samson, and Tristan.”

“And you told them not to tell the others, right?”

When Cassie says no an athletic sigh rocks Becky’s snug yoga top.

“They’re going to talk anyway, Becky. And the more people who know he’s missing, the more who will be looking.”

“Again, can we please not use the word missing?”

Several of the mothers appear on the verge of hyperventilation. They pluck the calming weight of phones from their pockets in direct violation of the electronics policy. Those not looking at a screen scan the trees and nearby water. No one has yet called out Hansen’s name.

“So, Cassie,” Sarah H says. “What would the Boy Scouts do in a situation like this?”

Cassie feigns deep thought, biting back on how BSA protocol would have seen Hansen and his henchmen sent home after their first breach of the rules, never allowing this situation to materialize.

“Well, we’d likely split into teams of two adults, so there would be no one-on-one contact when he is found. Then we would fan out from where he was last seen and sweep back to the camp. Not a whole lot different than what we were about to do anyway.”

Cassie should just let the other mothers continue nodding but cannot help herself.

“And then his parents would be notified and he would be sent home.”

“That seems a bit extreme,” Sarah B says.

“I’m not saying we have to do that, just what BSA policy would likely be.”

“Brendan and Manda are coming this afternoon anyway, so we can bring the subject up then,” Sarah B says. “Does anyone know when they’re showing up?”

“Tyler has select tryouts in Lake Oswego until eleven,” Becky says. “Then it’s a three-hour drive, so maybe two-thirty?”

Cassie looks at her wristwatch when the others eye their phones.

“That gives us about four hours. Let’s divide into three groups of two, spread out and walk the woods back to camp. The other two can head back, let the adults know what’s going on, and help with the morning classes.”

The groups of two are so preordained words are unnecessary. Becky and Sarah B will return to camp, Cathy will go with Liz, and Jules with Sarah H. Nathan’s mom will accompany Cassie, so much her social equal that they are the only two who shake their heads when Becky asks if everyone has their phones.

“It’s back in my car,” Nathan’s mom says. “No electronics. That’s the policy, right?”

There is no discussion of reshuffling the pairs. Cassie steps through the bushes to what has become the staging area for water activities, where only fifteen minutes earlier she had found the sheepish trio of Finn, Samson, and Tristan looking out at the cove. She picks up the three air horns she purchased at Big Five to call the boys in from swimming.

“Each group takes one. We simply give a shot when we find him so the others know he’s been located and is okay.”

No one can argue with this plan. Sarah H, who homeschools and runs geometry for the co-op, divides the terrain between the water and the camp into three sectors. Cathy and Liz will take the ridge nearest the water and therefore be responsible for the shoreline. Jules and Sarah H choose the middle swath along the trail to camp. Cassie and Nathan’s mom are left with no real choice but to fight through the overgrown gulley. 

“One more thing…”  

They all look at Cassie when she speaks, so ready to watch this woman disappear into her delegated slice of the woods.  

“We should probably start calling his name.”

Cassie is rarely asked her opinion, but if ever asked she would say the bulk of responsibility—and therefore the blame—lays with the father. Take this group of Wilderness Explorers for example. Most of these boys’ fathers leave for work in pointy brown shoes and hybrid or fully-electric luxury sedans, returning at five to train for endurance races or coach some activity at which they once excelled. They are solid role models, giving their offspring something to emulate and their spouses motivation to apply makeup for their trips to CrossFit. Granted a few of the boys have part-time or absent fathers and seem to be doing just fine, but such scenarios surely engendered deep-seated motivations that Cassie’s mere two terms of psychology at Clark College leave her unqualified to diagnose.

Cassie can also admit blame on her part. Xander is more or less unchanged from when they met almost twenty years ago at Wafertech. She was a receptionist and Xander the wunderkind IT guy so skilled that he was allowed to roam the office in Trailblazer gear and t-shirts for obsolete heavy metal bands. He had seemed so smart, and Cassie assumed that anyone with an X in their initials was somehow bound for greatness.

Xander is smart, Cassie often reminds herself, and a good provider who has leap-frogged through the IT field and provided them with a home in an upscale zip code and two reliable cars. But like a border collie, Xander needs challenges or that intelligence finds other outlets. Rather than tearing up the living room furniture, Xander’s unused intellect has festered into uncanny abilities with fantasy sports teams and the video games he plays in the basement. That space has been modified into a replica of his mid-twenties apartment—though mercifully free of roommates most nights—which he has dubbed his Man Cave, a term Cassie can now see designates somewhere a middle-aged man can masturbate to computer porn and hear anyone entering with enough warning to get himself together. She should be mad about this but enjoys having complete control of the living room TV and appreciates those cybersluts supplying a service that would otherwise fall to her.

There is Clyde’s role model. There is the reason her son’s heroes are YouTubers and he appears to melt in direct sunlight. There is the reason Clyde’s mother, who set up her first tent at thirty-six, is a driving force in Wilderness Explorers. She has learned to start fires, find or build shelters, and sleep among the coyote howls despite a failing back that needs more than the half-inch of support her Thermarest supplies.

Watching her fellow Explorer moms start through the brush in Uggs and lululemon stretch pants, Cassie wishes a father were present. Finn’s dad is the lone adult male on the outing, this being one of his two court-mandated weekends per month. Of the many daily tasks available for adult leaders on this weeklong trip north to the Puget Sound he has opted for barista, remaining in camp every morning to prepare coffee for the mothers in his portable french press. Cassie imagines Xander here, cargo shorts and Birkenstocks offering little protection against the irritant leaves that his wife and son can identify but he cannot. She stifles a snicker.

Hansen’s father will be here in three hours. Brendan spends his days performing some job so high-powered Cassie has yet to learn his proper title. Any inquiry of how work is going meets with an exasperated headshake and no more. He has led several hikes without needing frequent breaks or limping at the meeting the following Tuesday night. He is only absent today due to an engagement meant to propel Hansen’s younger brother even further along the arc of success, not because of some computer football draft. Brendan is one of those people who can be concurrently hated and adored and appear pleased either way. He is still over a hundred miles away, but like his missing son, his presence dominates the camp already.

“So Clyde,” Nathan’s mom says. “That’s a cool name.”

Cassie nods but does not agree. She never has and perhaps never will. The name appears to have been outlawed in 1958 and after thirteen years of daily use still strikes Cassie as too clunky to ever stage a comeback.

“Thanks. He’s named for Clyde Drexler.”

Nathan’s mom cocks her head. She and Nathan are new to the group and her earth tones suggest either urban hippy or religious homeschool, both a long way from the hardwood.

“He was a guard for the Blazers back in the eighties and nineties,” Cassie says. “That’s what happens when your husband gets to the paperwork before your epidural wears off.”

Nathan’s mom laughs, then calls Hansen’s name again to compensate. They all started strong but the name rings sporadically now, the call of a seasonal bird whose friends have already flown south.

“So you and Clyde were involved in Scouts before starting this Explorers group?”

“Yeah, for about a year.”

“Nathan and I looked into Scouts. We went to some meetings and a campout. And a hike. Then, well, I don’t know…”

Cassie cannot tell if Nathan’s mom is extending an olive branch or a fishing hook. Does she want to hear about the heavy religious overtones that bubbled up around gay leaders or the inclusion of girls? Perhaps she also saw how the bossier Scout Moms could turn any outing into a PTA meeting with shitty food and terrible hygiene. They are already off the trail—no need to further thicken the brush underfoot.

“It just wasn’t for Clyde and I.”

Nathan’s mom nods.

“Yeah, us too.”

“There are a lot of good aspects. The skills, I mean, but there’s also a lot of peripheral stuff that bogs things down.”

“Well, Cassie, you do a really good job of incorporating what you learned there. I’ve been meaning to say that. You bring the good parts and throw away what’s unnecessary. A group like this needs that or it could become really disorganized.”

Cassie says thank you and yells Hansen’s name. She is echoed by a voice she thinks to be one of the Sarahs.

“So Nathan is enjoying himself?”

“Yes, all the boys have been great. It’s nice that it’s a group from their school, and not just a bunch of kids thrown together, like Scouts. They are already friends, I mean.”

Cassie says nothing, Mark Zuckerberg and company having now apparently warped the definition of friend for two generations. If acquaintance has become obsolete, could society not at least adopt associate for all ages?

“The older boys have been good to Nathan. Your son, of course, has been really helpful. And Hansen is, well, he is just a natural leader.”

Hitler also had a following. Of course Cassie says no such thing, choosing instead a tight smile that neither agrees or disagrees. She can admit to a flush of excitement when Manda and Hansen arrived at the first organizational meeting of the Wilderness Explorers. If there existed a real-life equivalent of following someone on social media, Cassie has been doing just that with Hansen’s family since kindergarten. Manda and Brendan and their children had cast a satisfied shadow over every play, every music performance and every field day, and always with smiles that seemed lifted from a picture frame in a staged house.

Despite seven years of shared education and extracurriculars, Hansen still only addressed Clyde by name after taking the social temperature of any given situation. Clyde regularly reassured Cassie that Hansen was okay, but Cassie could recognize a burgeoning asshole when she saw one and knew such behavior was learned. Come on—you do not get to just drop random letters to make yourself sound unique. You are not Manda. You are just another Amanda.

“Yeah, Hansen’s a good kid,” Cassie says. “Always has been.”

“Are he and Clyde close? I mean, because of their condition?”

“Not any more than anyone else. Their allergies are similar but different. Clyde is peanuts—which are actually a legume—and Hansen is tree nuts. And they have different degrees of reaction.”

Cassie always suspected these years of being stuck at the food sensitivity table at school and other activities to be one source of Hansen’s sporadic incivility towards Clyde. What kind of bond can be expected from a relationship based on mutual weakness?

“We thought Nathan might have a nut allergy but got him tested and…ow. Fuck.”

Nathan’s mom has found a tangle of devil’s club running beneath the undergrowth. They share a grin over her cursing and both wince at the streak of blood visible between the hem of her all-weather fabric pants and her over-engineered hiking sandals. Cassie spins her fanny pack to the front and pulls out a Band Aid and cleansing wipes, holding them up.

“Always prepared, right?”

Nathan’s mom smiles and takes both.

“Thank you.”

“On second thought, forget I said that,” Cassie says. “The BSA would probably sue me for copyright infringement.”

They both laugh. Nathan’s mom wipes her ankle, which—like so much in child rearing–is not as bad as originally thought.

In the end the fathers receive the credit, and the shortcomings and blame fall to the mothers. A failed boy has been mothered too much. A caring mom is told to cut the cord. And then come the accusatory designators—Soccer Mom, Tiger Mom, Helicopter Mom, and the one currently rattling around Cassie’s brain when at idle, Snow Plow Mom. Xander had explained the term as if Cassie did not also have Google on her phone.  

“It means you push away any obstacles in Clyde’s path,” he had said. “Eliminating challenges before he can even attempt to confront them.”

When she had huffed—a plea for comforting or at least commiseration—he let the definition land with a thud and retreated to his Man Cave to catch up on work, jerk off, or wage war against teenagers.

The charge had been leveled by one of the clean-shaven business dads in BSA, those who dropped off and picked up their boys wearing crisp slacks and tucked-in shirts and only attended Courts of Honor and the occasional single-day event that did not require more ground clearance than their Tesla possessed. He even had the backing of the other fatherly faction, those who drove in from the rural areas and led campouts encased in enough camouflage that they should have been rendered invisible to the boys. The Scout Moms were no doubt in agreement, evidenced by the distance they kept when the two fathers had pulled Cassie to the far end of the church’s rec room.

“The point of the merit badges, the rank advancement—heck, the whole thing—is that the boys do the work,” Business Dad had said. “If we help them too much, well, it defeats the purpose.”

Cassie had nodded but said nothing, an action mirrored by the Business Dad. His cohort had stroked a stringy beard that Cassie imagined was in constant danger of being caught in whatever machinery she assumed he worked around.

“Yeah. This ain’t Cub Scouts, after all.”

She assured them both that she understood and after leaving the church that night never returned. Her letter to the troop leaders, cc’ing the local council, lay unsent on their home computer. The defense she had constructed, covering everything from obtrusive religiousness to overaggressive leadership styles, had so far only been unleashed on her mother. Cassie averted her eyes when she passed any of the fathers at Costco, and the mothers who braved contact stayed on the safe neutral grounds of how fast all the boys were growing and looming orthodontia costs.

Somewhere along the line caring for your child, wanting to help, had become a crime. You cut a particularly tough piece of meat for them and suddenly you are to blame for the downfall of an entire generation and therefore society. Then came the unparenting crowd, ready to let their kids eat dirt and get scars that will never heal properly. They dropped their offspring into activities like a roulette ball, happy to let everyone else guide their child and make the required corrections. Just look at how Manda had lit up when they were planning the first outing for the Wilderness Explorers.

“Oh, this is great,” she had said. “Cassie can run the food allergies cooking station. She does it for Clyde anyway, and probably knows Hansen’s allergies better than I do.”

Cassie had contributed to the collective laugh that followed but not argued the point. Manda assumed even her son’s weakness was known to all and somehow became another endearing trait. Cassie did in fact know Hansen’s triggers better than Manda and the boy himself. In addition she had researched Celiac Disease for Michael and the best vegan options for John B, even though he only joined them sporadically now that summer soccer had started back up again. She knew what caused rashes and inflammations and what constricted airways beyond the point of even shallow breath. She could locate each of her boys’ EpiPens in even the most sloppily-loaded backpack. She knew exactly what allergens were hiding in snacks that claimed all-naturalness and energy but somehow still tasted like candy, making them irresistible to teenagers who should have known better.

So Cassie is allowed to be a Snow Plow Mom for other children but not her own. This is expected of her despite never being asked to or thanked afterward. Sometimes she wonders if any of the Beckys, Mandas, or Sarahs knew exactly how much she did or if they would notice when she stopped.

They hear Sarah B well before seeing her. Even by staying on the trail she rattles the surrounding woods like an animal with ten times her BMI. She has been running but thanks to her new HIIT routine that she insists they all need to try has no need to catch her breath after arriving.

“He was trying to swim to the rock.”

“Which rock?”

A valid question by Nathan’s mom, given their camp being surrounded by a shoreline of nothing but rock. Had Nathan been a stronger swimmer he would have made his way to the mouth of the cove that comprised the approved swimming area. From there a boy could see the small rock sticking out in the sound holding a lone withering tree, crying like a siren to those in the prime demographic for stupid dares.

“It’s just around the point.”

“And well beyond where they’re supposed to go,” Cassie says. “How did you find that out?”

Sarah B looks down at her Vibrams. Her breathing is steady but sweat lines her brow.

“Finn and Tristan admitted it. Samson is likely in on it too. He was crying just as hard as them.”

“So their plan was to do this while the rest of the group was all at breakfast?” Cassie says.

Sarah B nods.

“Apparently he thought he could do it in fifteen minutes. He does hold the club team record on several of the longer races.”

“This is the ocean, though, not a pool.”

“They said they lost sight of him just outside the cove,” Sarah B says. “Tristan was supposed to run out and confirm that he actually got to the rock but you found them first, Cassie, and they got scared.”

Nathan’s mom turns toward where she thinks the rock lays, which Cassie recognizes as off by at least forty-five degrees.

“Did any of the other boys know? Nathan didn’t say anything.”

“Kevin didn’t either. But all the boys look a little sheepish. Cassie?”

Cassie can shake her head with no reservations. Like Nathan, Clyde is not a good enough swimmer to have even known of the rock’s existence. More importantly, Clyde and Nathan lay on the opposite side of a social reef from the other boys that only the most freak tide would carry them across. Barring any drastic changes, they would always hear of the exploits of Hansens and Tristans and Samsons second-hand and after the fact.

“What about the boys’ mothers?” Nathan’s mom says. “Have they heard anything?”

Sarah B shakes her head. Cassie waits for eye contact but gets none, Sarah B’s silence the indicator of how this will be handled. They will close ranks and pretend none of the adults have heard rumblings of the dare around the cook stations or seen Hansen and his ilk treading water at the mouth of the cove, eyeing the distance to the rock.

“Well, at least now we can focus on the shoreline toward the sound,” Cassie says. “With any luck he just tired out and is sitting on the beach somewhere. Do you remember the trail we took to the tide pools the other day?”

Sarah B nods.

“Okay, you and Becky head out that way,” Cassie says. “About halfway there you should be able to find some place where you can see the rock. We’ll backtrack a little and swing out to hit the shoreline on the way back to camp and take another look.”

Sarah B agrees and finally makes eye contact with Cassie.

“What about the boys? Should we have them help?”  

“That’s up to you and Becky, I guess.”

Wanting more of an answer than this, Sarah B looks to Nathan’s mom. Kind and one-hundred percent innocent, the woman’s only offering to Sarah B is the head twist of a non-predatory bird studying its reflection in a picture window. Sarah B turns to go but then buries a hand in the pocket of her khaki shorts. Even this simple movement makes her well-toned tricep leap into action.

“Also, for whatever its worth, the boys said Hansen had one of these after breakfast.”

The energy bar wrapper is mangled and leaves a smudge of chocolate on Sarah B’s thumb when she hands the cellophane to Cassie. Nathan’s mom flanks them, attempting to decipher the script on the back that would make even the youngest parent reach for cheaters. Sarah B appears ready to run but stays, studying the wrapper from a safe arm’s length.

“It’s just an energy bar, right? We didn’t see anything that says peanuts so it shouldn’t be an issue.”

“Peanuts are more a problem for Clyde anyway, not so much…” Cassie pauses, moving the wrapper back and forth to focus. “Shit.”

“Shit?” Sarah B says. “Shit what?”

“The chocolate.”

“Hansen can have chocolate. He does all the time.”

“Regular chocolate, yes. But this one is made with hazelnuts. Like Nutella?”

Sarah B cocks her head and Cassie wants to slap her. If these parents are going to elect one boy to be Superman they damn well should know his Kryptonite. Nathan’s mom leans in, still trying to read the fine print.

“Hazelnuts are bad?”

“For Hansen, yes,” Cassie says. “Bad.”

The sweat on Sarah B’s brow has dried but her breathing is now ragged.

“Okay, okay…”

“Stay calm, Sarah. The plan remains the same, we just might be dealing with a different problem. Do you know where Hansen’s EpiPen is?”

“No, no I don’t.  I don’t even know how…”

“Just calm down, okay?” Cassie says. “It’s to help him if he has a reaction. Go back to the camp and find Clyde. He’ll know what it looks like. Hansen’s should be in one of the top pouches on his pack, that’s where I tell them to keep their pens. Have Clyde show you how it works, it’s really simple–orange to the thigh, blue to the sky. Remember that, okay? Take the pen with you out to the tide pool trail, since that’s the most likely place he would swim back to shore. If you hear one of the other air horns, get the pen there as soon as possible. Does everyone still have their horns?”

Sarah B says yes but does not move. The beautiful muscles of her arms and shoulders dance in place around her tank top but in the end do nothing.

“Okay, then,” Cassie says. “Go. Go now.”

Sarah B spins and takes off. Cassie crumples the wrapper and stows it in her fanny pack. Nathan’s mom takes her in with a look Cassie can only assume is admiration.


Cassie’s yell startles Nathan’s mom and stops Sarah B just before she disappears into the trees. Her look begs Cassie to say no worries, everything is fine.

“Don’t take the other boys with you, okay? Make sure they stay in camp.”

Boys will be boys. Mistakes are how we learn. You cannot hold their hand forever. Cassie imagines every possible platitude will be used to either grant or beg forgiveness when Manda and Brendan’s Range Rover arrives in the parking lot. The perfect couple will initially disregard them all, but with the passage of time and mellowing of emotion they too will have no choice but to pick the one that serves them best and make that their mantra.

All through this rain forest, defenses are being fashioned, excuses firmed up. Not by Cassie, though. Just let one of them try to pin any of this on her. Clyde’s condition has made her the default allergies expert, but she is only responsible for her special diet cooking patrol. Had that energy bar attempted to cross her station’s boundary it would have been intercepted immediately, but damned if she was able to police the entire camp continuously. Some of them would no doubt recall Cassie’s early lobbying for a completely nut-free activity environment, but no one could admit to remembering her efforts now. They had dismissed that suggestion as they had many of her attempts to bring some of the BSA order to the Wilderness Explorers. If they had wanted rigid rules they would have joined the Scouts in the first place. Cassie had tried, though, and not one of them would be able to deny that.

And good luck if one of the Scout Dads or Xander tried to call her a Snow Plow or Helicopter Mom or leveled the charge of mother-smother. Were that the case she would have been on the lookout for such energy bars from the moment they went on sale alongside the kayaks and big-screen TVs when you walked into Costco. She would have commandeered the box as soon as she saw Becky unloading it from her car in the camp parking lot, knowing Hansen’s lack of understanding of his own condition and limitations was only rivaled by his taste for sweets and sense of invincibility. She also would have taken action at the first rumblings of Hansen’s asinine dare, knowing full well a boy raised in heated pools was unprepared for the swells and currents that the ocean held up its sleeve.

They could not accuse Cassie of any of these offenses, or of robbing the boys of a chance to learn responsibility and grow through their missteps. Despite her innocence, Cassie still failed to see the supposed crime. Why would any loving parent, upon noticing an obstacle in their child’s path that threatened to remain there for the foreseeable future, not take every advantage to remove that obstacle? If that is not love, what is?

Nathan’s mom has said nothing for five minutes. Cassie suspects the woman is calculating the minimum amount of meetings she and Nathan must attend before gracefully exiting this supposed outdoor group that has managed to lose a boy. Or maybe she, like Cassie, is wondering if they will be expected to stay in camp the remaining three nights if Hansen is found in anything less than perfect condition.

Hey,” Cassie says. “Are you okay?”

She wants to tag Nathan’s mom’s proper name onto the end of her question but finally admits to herself she does not know it. Nathan’s mom appears to also realize this but is too polite to say so.

“Yeah. I guess. Or maybe not.” She laughs where a sob would fit just as well. “This is just a little more real than what I thought we were signing up for, you know?”

Cassie smiles.

“I agree. It’s not how I planned to be spending my morning. We should all be learning orienteering right now. But with any luck we’ll be back on track soon. Things will work out.”

Nathan’s mom breathes deep and holds up crossed fingers.

“I know Nathan has some growing up to do, but I don’t know if I want his lessons…I mean, I realize I can’t shelter him from everything forever, but…”

They both know Nathan’s mom will not finish this thought. The two women retake their side-by-side walk toward the shoreline.

“Nathan is a good kid. He’s going to be fine.”

“Thank you.”

“I mean it,” Cassie says. “Nathan is just cautious, like Clyde. Hopefully on trips like this they learn to let their cautions down a little. The same way kids like Hansen learn to be a little more cautious.”

Again Nathan’s mom holds up her crossed fingers. Maybe she has kept them crossed this entire time.

“Thank you, Cassie. You are a great asset to this group.”

“Oh, you don’t have to say that.”

“No, really. No offense to Becky and the others, but I think that without you, the Explorers would never have gotten to the point it has. I know we don’t have proper leaders as such, but I feel like you are the real leader here.”

“That’s very nice. Thank you.”

“You’re welcome.”

Cassie stops.  

“Can I admit something to you?”

They are not yet close enough to see the water of the sound, but Cassie can hear waves hitting the rocks.

“Yeah.  Sure.”

“I don’t know your name.”

When Nathan’s mom laughs this time some of the sob sneaks out too. Cassie laughs also.

I know, I feel like an asshole.”

“No, no, not at all. There are a lot of names to learn.”

“I was going to wait and hope to figure it out later,” Cassie says. “But damn it, I want to be able to address you by name. I am so sorry.”

They are both chuckling now. Nathan’s mom wipes away a tear and waves off Cassie’s concern with fingers now uncrossed. She is catching her breath to speak when an air horn cuts through the woods, bouncing off the thicker trees. Accompanying the horn is a yell containing no identifiable words but communicating everything. Cassie realizes hours will pass before she learns the name of Nathan’s mom.

Marcel Jolley was born in Skagway, Alaska, and now lives in Camas, Washington, with his wife and son. He is the author of the story collections Neither Here Nor There (Black Lawrence Press, 2007) and Priors (Black Lawrence Press, 2012), and the novella The Following Sea (Black Lawrence Press, 2013).