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Family Circle 2009 Fiction Contest Winner: "Our Atlantis"

After my second year ended, I stayed at school for summer session. Madge drove out to spend an afternoon. It felt strange to have her there, strange to sit with her on the steps of the dorm, looking out over hills rather than whitecaps, as if we were two different people in the shells of those bodies. Madge seemed to study the landscape. Her bare toes dug at the concrete until I was sure they'd be raw.

"Have you heard from Kiri at all?" I asked.

"I heard she's home for the summer but . . ." She shook her head and shrugged, and we fell into silence. After a few minutes, without looking at me, she said, "I'm not taking classes this semester."

"You're . . "

"No. Not this semester. My mom's sick. She'll need some help."

"Madge," I said, but she shook her head again and looked out across the hills where students moved along the winding pathways.

She left a little while later, her car disappearing around the bend in the narrow campus road. In her fender, Atlantis gleamed.