From Our Staff | September 26, 2007

Michael Byers’s winning story from our 1993 contest is another first publication. “Settled on the Cranberry Coast” tells the mid-life story of solitary characters in the Pacific Northwest. The story’s bachelor narrator, Frosty, recalls his high-school acquaintance, Trudi, as a hardscrabble girl who ran with the kids from the reservation; now, he is a retired teacher turned carpenter and she is a Park Ranger. They reunite when Trudi hires Frosty to refurbish the house she’s bought for herself and her granddaughter, Andrea.

Byers develops the relationship between Frosty and Trudi not so much through their interactions as through Frosty’s growing interest in Andrea. Having retired precisely to preserve himself from the demands of other people’s children, Frosty nevertheless devotes himself to drawing the child out of her shell. This variation on the romance is well-matched to the dispassionate first-person voice of the story. As Frosty repairs Trudi and Andrea’s wrecked house, he creates a space in which their insular family might – somewhere beyond the margins of this story – expand to include him.

-Stephanie Carpenter

[Download this story.]