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The Way It Began

Photo of Victoria Redel

Victoria Redel

the way it began

Chapter 1

They went, not in the day, but then in the dark with no shoes on their feet, the road pokey with broke-up shell.

And the boy to the girl, Let’s be quick.
I can’t, said the girl. My feet are girly.
The boy to the girl, That’ll change, and held back a branch, thought she’d passed but heard the snap and then the girl, Can’t you even try being nice?

Chapter 2

By day, by the river, they kept to scrub, hid among boulders, slept with their shoulders cool against granite.

Just wind, he said. Wind heard in the night, whushed through fir trunks. By morning the woods quiet, not a limb cracked on the path.

Chapter 3

He was afraid of kind words in the dark.

Chapter 4

She was afraid of finding a heart safety-pinned inside her jacket.

Chapter 5

Berries in the brush, tart against tongues, the boy’s lips stained, Like a girl, the girl said.
The boy to the girl, You’d like that.
The girl laughed and said, I guess we’ll find out.

Chapter 6

Was she afraid she’d grow wings?

Chapter 7

Was he worried she’d always sleep next to him?

Chapter 8

They came to a town, kept to its limit. Lights on in houses and then lights off.

The boy to the girl, Do you miss much of it?
Not what I thought I’d miss, said the girl.

Chapter 9

The boy woke scared and woke the girl.

Shoes and toast, said the girl to calm the boy. And the boy to the girl, Toast and milk. Then the girl, Milk and toast and shoes and soap.

And the boy to the girl, We better stop this and go to sleep

Chapter 10

Rain, then not.
Dry ground, dry riverbed, knotty bramble and burr stuck so they picked at each other,

Like animals, said the boy combing fingers through her hair.
Good ones, said the girl licking salt from his arm

Chapter 11

The girl to the boy, Will it always be this way?

Chapter 12

The boy to the girl, Can you even remember the way it began?

About the Author

Victoria Redel

Victoria Redel is the author of Before Everything (2017, Viking Press), as well as four previous books of fiction, including the novel The Border of Truth (a 2007 Barnes and Noble Discovery Book). Her novel Loverboy (2001, Graywolf/2002, Harcourt) was awarded the 2001 S. Mariella Gable Novel Award and the 2002 Forward Silver Literary Fiction Prize, chosen in 2001 as a Los Angeles Times Best Book, and adapted for a feature film directed by Kevin Bacon. She has also written three books of poetry, most recently Woman Without Umbrella (2012, Four Way Books). Redel’s fiction and poetry have been widely anthologized and her work has been translated into five languages. Her second collection of poems, Swoon (2003, University of Chicago Press), was a finalist for the James Laughlin Award, and her first collection, Already the World, won the Tom and Stan Wick Award. Redel is a professor at Sarah Lawrence College. She has received fellowships from the National Endowment for The Arts and the Fine Arts Work Center.

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