Excerpt from Battleborn by Claire Vaye Watkins, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

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Battleborn

Stories

By Claire Vaye Watkins

Battleborn
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  • Hardcover: Aug 2012,
    304 pages.
    Paperback: Aug 2013,
    304 pages.

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Print Excerpt


“Good night, Andy,” I said. “Please don’t call me again.”

When I hung up, I heard the sound I had already come to know: a quick creak in the floorboards above me. Razor Blade Baby’s body shifting. The unpressing of her ear from the floor.

Then Razor Blade Baby came to my door the next morning—this morning—I did not say, No. No, thank you. We rode our bicycles to the old Hilton Theatre, down Lake Street. Her hair flapped behind her as though lifted by George Spahn’s Pennsylvanian swarm.

I bought a hot dog before the matinee from the concession stand. I covered it with mustard, onions, kraut, jalapeños. Razor Blade Baby nervously fingered a Ziploc bag of peeled carrot sticks hidden in her purse.

Here in the theater I know I ought to try, ought to carry that weight, ought to paint over the past. But I can only do my best. I hold my hot dog near her face. “Want a bite, Razor Blade Baby?”

“Claire,” she says. “I could be your sister.”

And though we have known this since she moved in—well before—this is the first time either of us has said it aloud. And I admit now, it sounds softer than it felt. There is something thankful in the saying.

I nod. “Half sister.”

The lights in the theater dim. Technicolor figures—ghosts, cowboys, Gregory Peck—move across the screen. In Duel in the Sun Pearl Chavez asks, “Oh, Vashti, why are you so slow?”

“I don’t rightly know, Miss Pearl, except I always have so much to remember.”

Excerpted from Battleborn by Claire Vaye Watkins. Copyright © 2012 by Claire Vaye Watkins. Excerpted by permission of Riverhead Books. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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