Short Story: “What You Can Do”

AscentMy short story, “What You Can Do,” was published this past weekend at Ascent. the literary magazine hosted at Concordia College and edited by W. Scott Olsen. Scott had an excellent insight on the original version of the story, and I made some changes at his suggestion. This is my first short story published since I had one in my college’s literary magazine sometime in the last millennium.

The story begins with:

On a sunny February morning, Howard Stevens worked a shovel up and down the sidewalk in front of the giant colonial he and his wife Ellen had bought in 1980, right after he got tenure at the state college nearby. Five dry inches of snow had fallen the night before, and Howard had risen early. The house faced south, and if he had the walk shoveled, salted, and sanded by 9:00 there would be a whole day of sun to finish the melting. “Don’t be fooled by the calendar,” he had told his son too many times over the years. “The sun is strong this time of year. The days are getting longer. Nature’s on our side.”

Howard knew to pace himself. He didn’t want to get winded, and he didn’t want to get too sweaty. If he worked steadily, he could get it done in an hour, and today, he wasn’t in a hurry. It wasn’t at all windy, and the sun was indeed strong. The work would be done well, and he even might enjoy a conversation or two. That young couple down the street with the big dog liked to talk. Besides, with Ellen gone, there was nothing for him in the house.

You can read more here

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