Mesha Maren

Mesha Maren is the author of the novel Sugar Run, from Algonquin Books. Her short stories have appeared in Tin House, Oxford American, the Southern Review, Triquarterly, Crazyhorse, and elsewhere. She serves as a National Endowment of the Arts writing fellow at Federal Prison Camp, Alderson, in West Virginia, and is an assistant professor of the practice of creative writing at Duke University.

Organ Cave

Randy Colburn shifts his case of beer from one hand to the other and tries not to pay attention to the children. The world is full of children. It must have always been this way, but he’s noticed it more lately. All he wants is his twelve-pack of Natural Ice and he ends up in line at the gas station behind a family of four. “You heard your mama at the house, you ain’t gettin’ no cake,” the father says to a little redheaded girl who’s pointing at a rack of Hostess snacks. Randy focuses on how good his Natty Ice will taste, how he’ll open one up in the truck and drive slow, enjoying it, the warm July night-wind coming in the window. He wonders whether he ought to buy a pack of Pall Malls. He’s not sure he wants cigarettes but he’s pretty positive he deserves them, and he’s thinking this conundrum over and stepping up to the counter when he smacks into something. He looks down to see the little redhead sprawled at his feet, crying. Her brother is a few steps behind her, looking from his sister to Randy and back again. Their father is in…