2014 First Fiction Sampler

High as the Horses' Bridles
By Scott Cheshire

The year I turned eighteen, Mom finally decided she was better. She sat up in bed one day, came marching down the stairs, and said she had to go for a special session at the hospital. Dad took her, and they came home with tremendous smiles on their faces; I don’t know whose was bigger.

“Full remission,” Mom said.

Dad took her face in his hands, and he kissed her. Never saw anything like that before. He kissed her so hard, she started pushing him off, and she was laughing, but he wouldn’t let her go, she was laughing so much. Then he stopped, and picked her way up in his arms, and she was up there almost to the ceiling, and laughing, while he played biting at her belly. This is my most favorite memory. Not just because of how lovely, but because it woke me up to their lives in such an unexpected way. Like a bucket of cold water over my head. I’d been living peripherally, in my own home, walking along the walls like a mouse, following the same daily paths in hopes of avoiding direct contact with the people who owned this home.

But here they were, right in front of me. Mom was back, and fully charged, and she swore she would set this house aright because this was a churchgoing family. I have to say there was a welcome sense of security in having her back and taking the lead, and we returned to church as a family. Dad was reluctant to go. He’d since taken to calling the Brothers in the Lord apostates.

But he went anyway, for her. We all did, arrived just as service started, and left as it drew to a close. We spoke with no one. Mom also somehow managed to ignore the fact that I’d had a serious girlfriend for the last few years.

Excerpted from High as the Horses' Bridles by Scott Cheshire, published July 8, 2014, by Henry Holt and Company, LLC. Copyright © by Scott Cheshire. All rights reserved.