Clair Compton earned a honorable mention for her fictional piece, “Feral.” Clair was born and raised in Oakland, CA. She spent years bouncing around; she studied film in New York City, drove a skidsteer for the sugar beet harvest in Minnesota, worked in a nursery in Savannah, and had the unique opportunity to get to know some of the diverse people and landscapes that make up this country. She found herself at home in Missoula. Her first semester at U of M, she participated in the Wilderness and Civilization program and now studies English with a double focus on creative writing and literature and the environment.
The day after my rat, Frank, died, I decided I would tan his pelt. Buck had a week off from the oil fields. Wind spewed sediment as I sat on our bare-wood balcony that had been painted tan in spring. I made the first incision. He was cold and the air was thick. When I found him he looked as though he was dreaming: running, but still. Now he looked like flesh. I leaned over the five-gallon bucket and scooped out his insides. My blue-veined feet framed the bucket so far away. A suffocating wind gathered and scooped me up. I thought this must be what it feels like to drown. Frank had been a present from my partner, Micah, before he left me. Three years and almost two-thousand miles away, all I had left was the rat’s limp, soggy skin. I grabbed a slab of wood, stretched his arms and legs to the corners, and pinned them down to work a butter knife through the squelching flesh.
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