This Side of Water: Stories by Maureen Pilkington
English | 2019 | General Fiction/Classics | ePUB | 1.6 Mb
This Side of Water: In This Side of Water, Maureen Pilkington’s bright debut collection, precise and vivid language delivers flawed characters to their moments of reckoning. A married woman goes to the cemetery to resurrect her father; a young girl at a beach club witnesses her parents’ infidelity; an icy New Year’s Eve leads a devoted husband to violent clarity; a teenager spies on her mother and a Catholic priest; a Russian “dancer” visits her American husband and plays a dangerous game. In these sixteen stories, the backdrop of water—the Long Island Sound, the sulfur polluted Monangahela River, a koi pond, a basin of holy water, a tear in a boy’s eye—provides a salve for these characters, ferrying them to personal ports of renewal and resolution.
“Still tough,” one of the men said.
I looked at my audience before I walked up to my spot. Mr. Patella had burgers stuffed in the sides of his mouth, doing a Marlon Brando. All the men had bloated stomachs, their belly buttons pulled like the knot in a balloon—except for Dad’s, still tight as a drum. He liked to say his muscle tone came from laying sheet rock, not lying in the sun. Sometimes I saw Cheryl, the best-looking teenager who hung out at the lifeguard shack, checking him out.
“Shoot,” Dad yelled. His streaked hair was glistening and the comb marks made deep rows as if a miniature plow machine worked the land of his head.
I stood on my marker and gave my best shot. I heard an immediate clink. A hit. This meant that Dad would give me a swig of beer. I walked to the keg area, confident. The men cheered and when I turned to catch Dad’s eye he was observing Mr. Patella’s impersonation of President Nixon before he noticed me and handed me his cup.
I left the pit and found Mary Beth in line at the snack bar. “You didn’t wait for me, Nan. You never do.”
“My Dad was waiting for me, but I’m finished now. I’ll meet you on the wall.” I was lightheaded from the Michelob I had guzzled. Draft beer served the best head. “