“Crossing,” by Branden Boyer-White
Jul01

“Crossing,” by Branden Boyer-White

When Clara first saw him Virgil reminded her of a horse. He was tall, two hands above the other men in the street; he wore his working life on his body in the strength of his upright back, the stomp of his gait. Wind and sun marked the skin of his cheeks. The War was over, the Union had won and men were returning from the battlefields ready to make a life. But this man was not a soldier. He had a wagon that Clara watched him hitch to a post. She trailed him, into Nearcy’s Grocer where he bought whiskey and matches and salt, and then to the hotel on Second Avenue. She caught him on the front porch. “Where are you going?” she asked. Virgil looked. The girl before him was tall and held her chin high. Hair dark as dogwood. She had strode up him in her laces and stays from the frills of the Madison city crowd: men in trousers, women with parasols and pearls on their ears. It hit him then. Virgil had the sudden sense he had just seen the girl step out of a river and all of this, the city, flowed back and fell away from her, dripping down—her skin naked and her hair loose and wet. He blinked and it was gone. He answered her question. “I’m going West.” “Yes.” She waited, pressing him with her waiting. “Wyoming territory.” “Are you a farmer?” Virgil turned his head and spit into the street. He wondered briefly what it would be like to kiss her. “Trapper. That’s mountain land.” “I’m Clara.” “Clara,” he repeated. Men like Virgil came East in the spring to sell and buy—crops, fur, provisions, wives. They posted ads, stayed in hotels and found girls looking for a place to travel to. They hoped for daughters with ruined names and unmarried women nearing thirty. Clara already had several prospects. She would have a home and children and the comfort of a husband’s business, her own match set of everything she had ever known. She looked at the man in front of her. Clara knew that if he could carry her, away from there to someplace else, she could hold on. “What’s your name?” she asked. They married the next day and went West. *** Virgil’s cabin sat in a clearing in a valley. Clara imagined the valley was how the bowl of the sea would appear if you emptied it: impossibly wide and re-flooding with sky. The air smelled clean, cold and dry. The grass in the clearing waved thigh-high and the pines on the mountains were so green...

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Branden Boyer-White Awarded Fall 2011 Orlando Fiction Prize
Oct01

Branden Boyer-White Awarded Fall 2011 Orlando Fiction Prize

BRANDEN BOYER-WHITE’s fiction has appeared in Third Coast Magazine and the Los Angeles Review, received Honorable Mention in the 2011 AWP Intro Journals Project, and was shortlisted for the William Faulkner-William Wisdom Creative Writing Competition. An ardent devotee of Virginia Woolf and gender-bending, she could not have been more thrilled to win the Orlando Prize and thanks, with a huge heart, A Room of Her Own. Branden lives in Los Angeles, where she is finishing a collection of stories. Branden’s winning short story, “Crossing,” was published in Issue No. 11 of the Los Angeles Review....

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