Nathan Poole (fiction, ’11) has been named one of two winners of the 2012 Narrative Prize, a $4,000 annual award for the best short story, novel excerpt, poem, one-act play, graphic story, or work of literary nonfiction published by a new or emerging writer in Narrative magazine. Nathan won for his short story, “Stretch Out Your Hand.”
I saw it go out from the ends of her hair. So many long strands of light. Milky, drifting upward—each hair casting off something that looked like silk until all the filaments were impossibly thin and lucent and seemed lost where they passed through the lamplight. They rose from Ruth’s head and congregated in the joists of the ceiling. A bright, glowing nest.
“The fever’s broken,” my father said. He lifted my younger sister out of her bed, legs dangling, toes pointed down. Her arms hung unfastened behind his neck, where the fingers curled up in two loose fists. He pressed his cheek against her forehead to feel her temperature again and he held it there for a long moment.
“Momma, it’s broken,” he said, nearly shouting at my mother.
“O Jesus, thank you. Thank you, Jesus,” my mother said, patting the base of her neck with her hand—a little rhythm she makes when grateful. She sat down on the edge of Ruth’s bed and touched the empty indented place on the mattress. She patted it with her palm and smoothed the sheets. “For this,” her hand seemed to say as it formed its particular rhythm, “for the coolness of this place, right here, on this bed. Thank you.”