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The University of Southern Mississippi The University of Southern Mississippi

The Aquila Digital Community The Aquila Digital Community


Spring 5-2017

Beacon Light and Other Stories Beacon Light and Other Stories

Joseph Arnold Holt
University of Southern Mississippi

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Part of the Fiction Commons

Recommended Citation Recommended Citation
Holt, Joseph Arnold, "Beacon Light and Other Stories" (2017). Dissertations. 1314.

This Dissertation is brought to you for free and open access by The Aquila Digital Community. It has been accepted
for inclusion in Dissertations by an authorized administrator of The Aquila Digital Community. For more
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stabbed and had bled out before the prison guards found him in the morning. As for his


track practice. It was unseasonably warm, and she wore thin polyester shorts and a school

t-shirt showing an image of athletic feet with wings.


And in truth, Rachel had nearly forgotten Brad Van Laecken, which was close enough,

she felt, to forgiving him.

[Tried and True]

And Rachel fit in at school she blended in. She made friends, and she dressed

nice, and some weekends she and her girlfriends would go to games or the mall or to

outdoor markets in the city center. In the summer before her senior year, she saw Darren

Hunt at the state fair, in the grandstand at an evening concert. At a break between songs


changed. He was still pale and gangly,

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Rachel told Darren it was nice seeing him and that she remembered him fondly,

then she slipped away before the band returned for its encore. She took the bus home

early, before her curfew. And back home she changed into her shorts and running shoes,

lakes, as she often did, lithe as a doe, watchful like an owl.


Fall of her senior year her mother parked in the garage and ran her engine

overnight. A neighbor found her two days later. Rachel ha

years time enough that she no longer thought of it as home. But she and Bethany drove

up without any ado, and the night before the funeral they walked with their two other

sisters around the canal by Lake Superior and went out for pizza. Their server was a

finger to her chin.

school are you at now? Are these your

Voight had grown into a woman, bright and cheery and self-

was that older boy. Do you re

Page 137


have pretended he did.


He watched her for a long time. He was sniffling and his chest heaved in an embarrassing



Rachel stayed in the parking lot. Black clouds had gathered to the south. The wind

blew in gusts and fat raindrops began dotting the pavement.

Her phone beeped from her tote bag and she took it out ready to send Darren an

angry reply. But instead, her home screen showed an exclamation point inside a triangle,

and beside that an emergency storm alert. TAKE SHELTER NOW. CHECK LOCAL MEDIA.

She watched from the window as the trees rustled in the wind. The rain came

down hard like buckshot, and dirt and sand pelted the glass even there on the fourth floor.

Far off was the circular drone of a public warning system. Across the parking lot, a large

branch cleaved from a tree and landed on the roof of a minivan.

Rachel stepped back and tripped over something her fabric strap,

picked out of the ditch. The brass buckle kicked up and struck her on the chin, and she

Page 138


got to her feet and swung the strap like a discus thrower, intending to launch it through

the window, but her release was off and it whizzed through the doorway into the

bedroom, bursting away a chunk of drywall. And then Rachel had a dark idea.

She carried the milk crate into the bedroom and examined the closet ductwork. It

er the

duct and pulled down with both hands to see that it would hold. The open end of the strap

was frayed and she put it through the buckle at an angle, twisted it into a loop and slipped

it over her head. Then she ratcheted the buckle and stepped off the crate.

In short time she awoke on her stomach. Around her were bits of plaster and

brick. She was in the center of the living room. Looking up she saw the treetops across

the parking lot and white sparks from a severed power line. The sun was out. All was

calm, surprisingly. She reached up and released the buckle, and in doing so saw a trail of

had happened to the wall.

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