The Cost

“I dreaded the day my godson would run up against a white person’s prejudice.” Rilla Askew on race in America and a family’s nightmare.

Source: Longreads
Published: Dec 16, 2014
Length: 20 minutes (5,065 words)

Rhumba

The writer and her husband, who live in the Sans Bois Mountains of southeastern Oklahoma, deal with a rattlesnake problem:

“Nineteen-year-old Faith comes in the door after a bit, hunting her camera. ‘There’s a snake coiled in the yard,’ she says, her voice remarkably calm. Little eight-year-old C.C. marches to the living room, stands in front of my snake-phobic mom, and announces: ‘There’s a big snake in the yard, Grandma. We think it’s a rattling one.’

“Daddy is up from his easy chair and out the door like a shot. I hurry around trying to locate my phone to take pictures while the rest of the family troops out to see it—except for my mother, of course, who wouldn’t go out there on a dare.

“By the time I reach the porch, the rattler has uncoiled and begun crawling away from the house toward a flat nest of sandstone slabs and boulders beside the pond path. I catch a glimpse of it gliding rapidly through the dead grass, its diamond markings mottled, but distinct. Its size is almost beyond belief: even winding S-like that way, the rattler is longer and thicker than any I’ve ever seen.”

Source: Tin House
Published: Sep 3, 2013
Length: 15 minutes (3,998 words)