For Lorenzo Esteban Benavente and my father
LAKE SUPERIOR, 1974
A slight wind picks up and moves over the lake, clinking rocks together in the wash. Salvador squints into the darkness. The way his fellow construction workers talked about America’s proximity, he’d half expected to sight the faintest outline of one of its cities’ skylines as a shimmer set deep against the horizon. Instead, there’s only the night and, stretching to meet it, the mumbling water.
He pulls at the cinch of his plastic bag, checks the knots of the floaters lining its perimeter, and slides his arms through the shoulder loops. Its belly is an airtight pouch that he hopes will keep dry his few possessions: a pair of pants and a shirt to change into once he makes it to the other side, twenty American dollars he purchased at a desperate rate, and a letter of introduction to Maria Sotelo, the cousin of a Catalan marine from his ship. She works as a corporate attorney in Chicago, but the Catalan assured him she’d help him file for political asylum.
He breathes in the scent of spruce and pine, fir needles, damp moss and soaked-through branches. He supposes he will miss Canada. Slick and uneven stones are scattered underfoot, the water temperate from the long summer days. When it’s at his waist, he turns to take in the bell-shaped silhouettes of the pine trees. Behind these, the forest rises to the east, where, months before in St. John’s, the Infante Carlos docked and he and the other marines and cabos were given their final shore leave: ten hours on land. He had hugged several pints to their table. The men were drunk and shouting the bawdiest Spanish songs they knew, not that anyone there understood the lyrics. Most of the marines were relentless, miserable hard winds. When enough alcohol mixed with their blood, they became determined that Salvador, the lone Basque in their regiment, should suffer. In his unit’s ranks, too, was the Catalan, a prematurely balding and narrow-boned target who tried to reason with the regiment’s full stable of bastards and for this endured their cruelest acts. Salvador had set the beers on the table. “Tengo que mear,” he said. One pointed to the other end of the bar. “Ladies’ room’s that way.” They laughed among themselves but didn’t watch as he walked past the restroom and out the side door and into the city. In the morning he sat with his face against a bus window, searching for its cool patches, slipping in and out of sleep, picturing the Infante Carlos’s bow as it cut open water back to Spain. At a checkpoint entering Quebec, an officer stepped in and scanned the faces of those on board. Salvador kept his head down, studied the used Q-tip at his feet, its head matted with brown-yellow wax. When he glanced up, the officer was gone and the driver shifted the bus into first gear, then second.
Standing in the water of Lake Superior now, he’s smiling for the trouble he probably made for the men on the ship, when a white bird with an immense wingspan launches from a tree. It swoops in a long arc, its feathers catching the moon’s light, before disappearing into the shadows it rustles. Salvador waits for it to reemerge, understands he’s stalling, so turns to the lake and its dark, looming expanse. “You just need to get to the other side,” he says, catches a breath and pushes off, the lake floor disappearing beneath him. He reaches with his right arm, pivoting his body and tilting his head, reaching now with his left arm, pulling everything before him that much closer, and submerging once more.
BAY OF BISCAY, 1968
He broke the surface and blinked hard, water running down his face. The sun was behind the soldiers, and he couldn’t make out their features or excited talk. He swiveled, anticipating the three boys. He’d passed the blur of their flailing limbs as he swam toward the sun’s warped reflection, had thought briefly of trying to help, of grabbing one by the arm, and would have if not for the burning of his lungs, the pressure upon his chest.
“Well?” a soldier asked.
Before him, a boy gasped for air. To his right, the other two splashed up, crying with the breaths they swallowed. Salvador raised the chain and medallion he’d retrieved from the bay’s floor. Several of the soldiers cheered; the rest groaned. “Me cago en Dios.”
He treaded water and smiled, the sun warm upon his face. The soldiers exchanged peseta coins—winnings collected, losses paid.
“Dry off, merluza,” a soldier told him. “Come get your share.”
The three boys shivered on the dock and ignored each other while they dressed. Only one watched Salvador as he went from soldier to soldier, receiving duros from those who had bet on him.
Tied to a sycamore, bored, stoically weathering the torment of flies, was the mule his father had told him to bring from Mundaka. He would have expected Salvador home by now.
The final soldier Salvador approached was scarred along the left side of his neck. Salvador knew better than to meet the soldier’s eyes. The raised scar tissue was colorless, but at its base the skin was a livid pink. The buttons of the man’s uniform sang with heat.
“Who are your parents, chaval?” the soldier asked him. There was no humor in his voice.
Salvador shielded the sun with his hand. The soldier’s left eye was milky, and around it, spiderweb scars latticed his skin. He had a southern Spanish accent. The s sound couldn’t clear his teeth. These were the ones to avoid. Raised on detrimental amounts of sun and menacing stories of the Basques
up north, they reached for their batons if you sneezed in Basque.
“They make cheese and meat.”
“And if I followed you home, what would I discover?”
“Just pay the child his duro,” another soldier said. “The kid’s won you more than even you can drink through tonight.”
“He’s no child,” the soldier with the bad eye said. “In a few years he’ll be aiming a rifle at us like these other bushy-eyebrowed, long-eared fuckers.” Weeks before, the Basque liberation group ETA had assassinated the Spanish police chief in the neighboring province. Ever since, their provinces were in a state of emergency. Spanish soldiers and police emptied from trains and glared at anything with a trigger finger. In their village, the Elgorriagas’ oldest had been arrested. When they’d finally released him, his jaw no longer closed evenly.
“The boy’s thinner than your dick. If his family had a rifle, they sold it long ago.” The soldier addressed Salvador and winked. “Venga, chaval, what are your parents’ politics?”
“They’re sheep ranchers. They don’t have any politics.”
“There. ¿No puedes ver? Now pay the child so we can get out of here. My throat’s drying in this heat.”
The soldier with the bad eye glared at him. Salvador braced for a slap or a punch, but instead the man playfully clipped Salvador’s chin, then opened his right fist. There, in his palm, sat a duro. Salvador knew better than to reach for it. “What are you going to do with this?” the soldier asked.
“Help feed my family.”
His tone fell flat. “Then start swimming.”
He flicked the coin over Salvador’s head. Circles pulsed around the water it disturbed. When the soldier smiled, scars bunched together and lifted. “First two are on me, chicos,” he said, turning away from Salvador as a body splashed into the water. The boy who had been watching them was no longer on the plank, and at once Salvador dove after him, the duros clenched in a fist as he pointed down, one uninterrupted line, then undulated his body in a motion he’d never been taught but had always made sense. In this way he closed in on the boy clawing at the water. Salvador gave him a wide berth and saw clearly the unpredictable path of the coin. He reached for it with his free hand, but this upset the water and pushed it out of reach until it settled weightlessly on the bay’s floor. Salvador scooped it, crouched down, and pushed off, but waiting for him was the boy. He grabbed Salvador and worked with both hands to pry open his fist. The two thrashed, the boy straining to get under a finger, the squeeze intensifying upon Salvador’s chest. His ears popped and he tried to lock eyes with the boy to tell him We are sinking; you are going to kill us both. But the boy, struggling against the pressure in his own head, fought closed-eyed. Salvador kicked at him repeatedly and finally connected with his midsection. The boy’s eyes opened wide, a stream of air bubbles spilled from his nostrils, and Salvador raced them to the surface, his throat closing. There was a whistling in his head, a scream, a terrible shriek, but he nevertheless glanced down to make sure the boy was fighting just as he was to reach the sun’s bending light.
The water ripples at his approach. He angles his head to draw in a breath. The stars’ reflections stretch and disappear. In two hours, maybe three, he’ll cross the invisible line of the border separating Canada from the United States and break yet another law. He keeps the shore to his right. His strokes are automatic. If it is anything like Spain, then nearing the border there are bound to be floodlights, figures about the boundary line, boats, agents patrolling the lake. He’ll have to be careful, should swim further out.
Salvador doesn’t look over his shoulder, for fear that his entry point, along with everything he’s tried to put behind him, might be close. Clear your thoughts, he tells himself. Let time disappear. Focus on your breathing. Lose yourself in the repetition. Nothing good comes from chewing on the past. He counts his strokes. One, two, three. Bat, bi, hiru. They are the Basque beads to his rosary. Bat, bi, hiru. Hail Mary, full of grace. He intones the prayer in measures of three beats. Bat, bi, hiru. Holy Mary, Mother of God.
He tries not to think of his mother, gone now almost two years, tries not to think of who she became, the subject of the villagers’ whispering. “Sure, so long as you don’t loosen the straps, she’s fine company.” He wants to remember her before the useless doctors in Bilbao diagnosed her with what they were calling circular insanity, before there was much need for her to go to them, wants to recall the mother of his youth, when she was occasionally still able to offer him a touch of warmth.
The evening that he had returned home with duros in hand, pulling along the mule his father had wanted, she’d been sitting outside by the door while his sisters chased each other. Salvador had expected to find his father there waiting for him, destroying himself with worry as he did whenever his children or wife went out into the world.
She turned and smiled at Salvador. Lately, her smile could be slippery, unreadable, but in that moment it was firm, her eyes alert. This knifed him with relief. Salvador gave her the duros, and she sighed, not for what acquiring them had cost him but for what they soon would. She stood and messed his briny hair. “Come, my igerilaritxo.”
After tying the mule to a post, he followed her to the kitchen, where the pot scraped over the iron stove, his chair on the floor, spoon against bowl. Salvador was sensitive to each noise. He wasn’t sure where his father was, but he feared every sound could rouse his attention. He ate in silence while the bobbing and twisting candle flame on the table stretched restless shadows on the walls. They’d catch his eye and tighten his tired body.
His mother said, “Don’t worry. He won’t be back for a while. He’s searching for you.” Then she added with a snort, “Likely at the bar.” His father had fought in Spain’s civil war to repel the fascists’ invasion. The lesson he learned from that losing fight had apparently been: Suspicion and fear are your only shield against the world. His anxiety had intensified with the police chief’s assassination. Drink provided a passing respite.
Salvador had left his bedroom window open, and now, in bed, insects knocked about the ceiling. A summer breeze circled the room. He listened carefully to the house settling, to the asynchronous buzzing tap of an insect on the window, listened for anything to indicate his father’s approach. He tried to stay awake, to remain prepared for his father’s rage, but when he blinked it was somehow morning.
He tilted his head, scrunched his face, searched for any sound of his father in the house. Perhaps he hadn’t yet come home. From his window, though, Salvador saw that he had. The mule was still tied to the post, but its lifeless body was flush on the blood-muddied ground, its neck falling over the rope that leashed it.
Salvador took the shovel to dig its grave. Knowing his father, he had continued stabbing it long after its spirit had passed. He was trying to show Salvador there were consequences to being gone so long—just because nothing had happened to him this time didn’t mean he’d escaped anything. Salvador dragged the mule by its hind legs around the bend to the start of the forest, away from the house and from where his sisters would be able to watch but before the roots webbed the soil. The mule’s legs were already stiff. Flies busied its open mouth as its head bounced without resistance over the rocks and uneven ground.
Salvador closes his eyes against these thoughts and shifts away from the shore to his right. The black lines of the forest trace a dimming saw blade’s silhouette. Perhaps there, last month, is where the border agents caught the Armenian—arrested and deported when their dogs finished with him. For days, those at the construction site spoke of little else. Granted, the Armenian’s fate became bloodier with each telling. Salvador passes a shelf and the lake floor drops away, the water cools. He’s becoming familiar with the lake’s contours and currents and congratulates himself for this, when he spots several quickly moving lights near where the shore should be.
They’re probably fishing vessels or perhaps the Canadian Coast Guard, though nothing beyond them indicates a checkpoint. The forest is gone. Let them have the shore, he thinks. This is my lake, and the night, likewise, belongs to me.
His body feels good, strong, better than it did when he swam the shoreline days ago near the lumberyard, proving to himself it could be done. But the following morning, Canada’s immigration agents surprised them at the job site, arresting some, running off Salvador and the others, confiscating whatever they couldn’t quickly grab. Their employer—a skinny man fueled by lamenting his finances and sucking on cigarettes—had been promising their back wages for weeks. Salvador and his fellow construction workers knew who’d contacted the authorities.
Several of the men had a connection at a logging company outside a provincial park, but Salvador didn’t join them. Surviving in Canada never interested him—he wanted a life in America, had since he was sixteen, since first examining every photo in the brochure Western Range had mailed to the houses in his village. He had hid their copy deep in a dresser, but one day he entered his room to find his mom sitting on his bed, flipping through its pages. He knew every photo in it by then. Against the California and Nevada foothills, they showed Basques like him on horseback or with a shepherd’s staff among their flock. The men started as shepherds, signing a three-year contract with Western Range,
but many decided to stay. His mother was nodding, as if to this very thought. They’d been suffering her unpredictable and uncontrollably swinging moods more often. She could be helpless and confused one moment, violent the next. Their father, who would slap a thick palm against Salvador and his sisters most times they upset him, now wrapped his arms over his wife’s to protect the children. Salvador was finding her pills throughout the house: bottom of the toilet bowl, in a jar of rice, sprinkled in a flowerpot.
“Ama,” he said cautiously, entering his bedroom and shutting the door.
She kept nodding. “We should all be trying to get out of here.” He wasn’t certain if she was mocking her husband or not. “We should all be worried,” he’d frequently say. But increasingly Salvador was hearing this communal imperative outside the house, too. His classmate Octavio had joined ETA. “We should all be fighting for the liberation of the Basque Country,” he’d tell Salvador, who cared little for a cause that so resembled his father’s during the war.
His mother continued flipping through the brochure. “I’ll go first. I’ll be waiting for you.” She pointed at a photo. “Here, in California.” She pronounced it as if for the first time, each syllable its own word.
He smiled with her, felt they were playing a game. “You’ll be waiting a while. I have my military service before they let me sign. Two years till I turn eighteen, then fourteen months of my life given to the military.”
She closed the brochure, solemnly, like a priest finishing mass. “Then I guess I’ll be waiting. But don’t be too long.” Less than a month later, Salvador and his father found her body.
He squints at the calm water ahead. Nothing to evoke the vision of those photos in the pamphlet. How many times had the men at the construction site spoken of the United States as if it was meters beyond where one’s vision ended? He knows, though, from his months as a marine, how deceiving the horizon can be, how an object in the distance will remain there while another can quickly dominate the vista.
Drawing in a breath, bringing the air in deeply before releasing it slowly, until his lungs demand another, he wonders if he’s too far out in the lake to have seen the lights along the border. He should have crossed it already—an hour ago, at least. He tries to recall the well-worn map he had studied. Where might he be now in that slanted blue oval? Could he have been pointing in an eastern direction this entire time, swimming farther into the vastness of this lake? Not likely, but then again, the night is the horizon no matter where he turns.
A tightness in his right hamstring pulls him from these calculations. Careful now, he thinks, slowing his pace. Careful.
The man at the naval recruitment office in Bilbao had been reluctant to give Salvador his enlistment papers. He’d been filling out the form distrustfully, but his pen stopped tracking the page altogether when Salvador told him his age. The sigh was of someone finally offered what he’d long wanted but who’d become too hardened by the waiting to now reach for it.
“I’ve been behind this desk for five years,” he said, removing his glasses and folding them. “Do you know who’s always—and I mean always—been on the other side of it?”
“Mothers begging me not to take their sons. Fathers insisting they’ll lose the baserri without the extra pair of hands. I’m from Burgos. Me and my boots, we’ve never taken one step on a farm, but the first book I write will be on its day-to-day workings. From their complaining, I’ve become an expert. Hell, at this point I can do a whole book on scything.” Salvador nodded, let the man talk. “But not once in all those years—five of them, did I say?—not once has someone come into my office begging to start early.” He intertwined his fingers on the desk. His fingernails, like his teeth, were stained a muddy nicotine yellow. “So what’s this about?”
“I want to serve my country, sir.”
The recruitment officer capped the pen and set it in its copper holder, folded his arms over his chest and leaned back. His tongue worked the inside of his mouth, his jaw hitching side to side. “I see.” It took him most of a breath to say it.
“Sí, señor.” Close to a year had passed since his mother’s funeral, but most days Salvador found himself back in that church, in the muted light getting through the stained-glass windows, its pale colors reflected on him, his two sisters, his father, the rest of the village. She had disappeared one bone-soaking day in December, the rain a furious, crooked veil. Salvador and his father bunched their shoulders against it in search of her. Clara Berriotxoa, with her house by the water, was telling neighbors that she had seen a figure along the cliff’s edge. She had been in the middle of the kitchen, though, and when she pressed close to the window, the figure was gone. Clara was a nervous woman, prone to such sightings. Her husband had been killed in the war, and after the bombing of Gernika, she, like thousands of others, put her children on a ship, this one for Russia. Any village could be bombed next. She was told they would be returned at the war’s end. But their side lost, and she never saw her children again.
His father stood under the eaves of Clara’s house while she retold what she’d seen. Salvador was away from the two of them, peering off at the billowing green earth that ended abruptly at the cliffs. His father was considering the two children’s beds through the window near them, the toys on them as though Clara’s pair might yet return, then leveled that same look onto Salvador. Salvador ignored him, studied the limited distance, the curving roads and tree-dotted hills soon lost in the rain. He imagined his mother out there, a lightness in her step, each one taking her further from her husband, closer to the life she wanted. A few hours later, though, when the tide began to pull back and the rain relented, they went to the cliff’s edge and saw her body trapped and twisted in the rocks below.
At her funeral, it was the villagers’ talk that had Salvador making fists in his lap, trying to keep hold of his anger. They were patting his father’s back, sighing heavily, somberly whispering among themselves.
All he saw fighting for our land, and now this.
The poor man.
He was never given a moment of peace in this life.
Salvador wanted to tell them his mother hadn’t always been incapable of controlling her thoughts. Her husband had done this to her. He’d divine threats in the wind. It wasn’t strictly the Spanish police or military he feared, nor, for him, who they called forth: ETA. What haunted him was the violence people were determined to do to one another. He committed himself to a single question: How do I protect my own while existing amid this? It wore on her, strained and exhausted them all. The villagers didn’t know what living in that house was like.
“My father was a gudari,” Salvador told the recruitment officer. “During the war.”
“Want to follow in your father’s footsteps, do you? You are aware, yes, that ours is a different army, the one he resisted, actually?”
“I know. I want him to have to see me in the uniform.”
The officer scratched the back of his head and smiled. He returned to the paper. “I hope you’re ready for the abuse from your fellow recruits. The second they hear your accent it will start. The battle cry there is Death to Basques. Every single time you charge—up a hill, to the mess hall, doesn’t matter. And if you’re not the one shouting it the loudest—” he shook his head “—then they’ll really go after you.”
“Nothing I haven’t experienced already.”
Taking the bus home, a man near him shuffled his newspaper. The front page showed the crater in Madrid. ETA had assassinated Admiral Carrero Blanco, detonating an excessive quantity of explosives under the street, throwing him and his car over a five-story building. The man with the paper whispered to his seatmate, “One more pothole, one less asshole.” Carrero Blanco had been Franco’s handpicked military successor. The other man, his hand covering his mouth, said, “Spain’s first astronaut.” Both chuckled, but around them was a nervous energy—the Spanish government would retaliate.
Salvador repeatedly slid his pinched fingers over the edges of the envelope that held his enlistment orders, a continuous motion that increased his regret. Heat flushed his cheeks and forehead. He became too ashamed to look at those seated around him. Soon, some of them would be pinned to the ground by police. For others, soldiers would turn their front doors to kindling during raids. Then there were his friends fighting the dictatorship, risking their glimpse at life to do so. Would he be ordered against them, against his own people? He squeezed his eyes shut, worried the bridge of his nose with thumb and forefinger. What had he done?
To the side is a light. Had it been there moments ago? It’s just above the water, larger and brighter than the stars’ reflections. In twenty minutes, he could reach it if he wanted to, but he continues southwesterly.
Though he shivers, his motions are even and fluid. He attempts to find the outline of the forest’s edge or anything indicating that the shore might be close. Nada. He allows himself, nevertheless, to imagine the wind rippling the lake’s surface, the waves pushing him forward as he crawls from the water and stands wobbly-legged in America, putting on his clothes—though they’re probably as wet as him now—and using the twenty dollars to get to Maria Sotelo in Chicago.
He can’t stop shivering. It further knots his hamstring. “Come on,” he tells it. How far out has he gone? Had he misjudged the lake’s dimensions?
Somewhere behind him, he crossed over the night and is far along on its other side now, closing in on its end. The pitch of it has begun offering an inky blue to the eastern corners. He thinks of his hamstring—he’s been out here too long. Not the worst idea to be close to that light, should anything happen to him. He bends his direction toward it. Cautiously. Slowly. So as not to make a sound but to also keep his hamstring from tightening further. Again, he coaches his leg, “Come on, you bastard.” The light, as he nears it, becomes a flashlight tied to a fishing boat’s prow, shining into the water. Its aura glows upon two figures slouched in the boat. He peers at them but can’t tell if they’re wearing uniforms. Perhaps they’re border agents posing as fishermen.
And then, at once, his leg cramps. A torch cuts into his seizing right hamstring, and the water turns thick. He treads with his arms and attempts to stretch the cramp, but the pain and unbearable heaviness of it spreads. “Me cago en Dios,” he says between panicked breaths, his leg curling as he inadvertently drinks water and tilts his head so his nostrils remain clear. The sky is large and far from him; water laps across his forehead. His hamstring convulses, and an imaginary hand grabs hold of his ankle and starts pulling him down. “No.” That boy from long ago trying to pry the duros from his hand, sinking them both. The world rises away.
Help, he thinks he screams, but the water closes over the top of his head and a weight squeezes his lungs and he sees his father above him, feels the thick fingers around his neck on what would be his last night at home. Earlier that day, news came that a raid had snagged the Arostegui brothers. Another, the village’s mayor. Retaliation for Carrero Blanco’s assassination. The police then killed Octavio while he attempted to wire a bomb to a section of the rail line in Urduña. It would have severed the Basque Country from Spain, at least by rail. Salvador had crumpled his enlistment orders and thrown them in the kitchen’s trash can.
That night he lay in his bed, staring at the ceiling, the windows open to a neighbor’s barking dog and another, farther away, answering the call. California had been a child’s dream. What was required of him was the same as the others his age: action against the dictatorship, a self-sacrificial spirit. Eventually his thoughts lost their cohesiveness, and he must have fallen asleep, because he was startled awake by hands squeezing shut his windpipe. Not tightly. Fingers in conflict with their intent. He thrashed, swinging again and again at the face over him, and when the bones in his father’s nose crunched under his knuckles and the warmth of blood spilled across them, his throat opened, and he could breathe once more.
Salvador bursts out of the water.
Nearby is the fishing boat, but the two men have their backs to him. They’re leaning forward, searching the water. Salvador controls his breaths, remembers his father wheezing on the ground, remembers the blackness of blood at night. “Vamos,” he had shouted at him. But when he lifted his head, Salvador saw what light there was in his glassy eyes. His father tried to smile—a grimace he couldn’t hold, one, somehow, of pride—then lowered his head. Salvador relaxed his hands. The fear and hurt that seeped from his father’s bones on account of the war he fought, they would come for Salvador, too, if he fought it. “What you’ve been running from,” Salvador said, stepping around him, “caught you long ago.” But downstairs, wedged into the front door’s jamb, were his enlistment papers retrieved from the trash. Hijo de puta. He considered the staircase, how he might counter, then chuckled. The bastard had cornered him. He stuffed the papers into his back pocket, opened the door, then was walking away from the house.
He now feels, beyond the eastern horizon, the pull of home, of his father’s efforts to get him out of Spain, and he wonders, still, if he’s making the right decision by honoring it. “Venga,” he muscles, kicking quietly with his good leg, cringing against the spasms in the other, aware, suddenly, of the pangs in his stomach, of his complete hunger, the nothing he has left to give. Shades of murky blue tint the sky, pocket the blinking stars.
The men sit in the boat. Their voices rise and fall as they question one another. The flashlight catches segments of the slanted angle of their fishing lines. They sweep the light across the lake, but Salvador is far enough from its read. He bobs in the water, his eyes skirting the surface, as he continues flexing his cramped leg. “Anyone out there?” one calls. They don’t seem to realize they’d be able to see better without the flashlight. “Hello?” If these truly are fishermen, then maybe he is close. Dawn isn’t far away. The American shore mustn’t be either.
His hamstring throbs, but the burn is tolerable. He swims farther into the lake, measuring his strokes to the rhythm of the rippling surface so as to muffle them, but the engine turns and the boat makes a slow passage. Whatever they may have heard, they’ve given up on it. Salvador sees clearly that they’re fishermen, older and overweight, their postures tired. They’re trying their luck elsewhere, and as they pass, he smells the coffee one brings to his lips, can practically feel its heat. They haven’t been here long. He’s close. When they disappear into the darkness, he gazes up. Fewer stars than before. The sky is changing colors. Somewhere in the east the sun approaches, but he angles away from it and all else there, toward the direction he’s certain the fishermen recently had set out from and where the lake floor is populated with small stones and rises to meet the shore.
Julian Zabalbeascoa’s stories have been published or will appear in American Short Fiction, Copper Nickel, Electric Literature’s The Commuter, The Gettysburg Review, Glimmer Train, Ploughshares, Ploughshares Solos, Shenandoah, and other publications. He is a visiting professor in the Honors College at the University of Massachusetts Lowell and lives in Boston.