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The Eighth Silo

The sugar beet factory across the street from my house exploded when I was eight. It flamed out in a blue blaze of molasses that lifted cars a mile away. This was panhandle Nebraska and such events were extraordinary: seven silos down, the eighth held erect by the sugar it still contained. My sisters and I ran outside and licked sweetness off the wooden deck, the trampoline, the grass. We could not believe our luck. The harvest was ruined but dessert was everywhere. My parents stood at the fence and watched us grow sticky with sugar dust, lobbing unconvincing protests about hygiene. It was the year they couldn’t hold themselves up, and neither could sugar and neither could we.

Kathryn Phelan earned a master’s degree in creative writing from Trinity College Dublin in 2013. Her writing has been published in The Sun, The Best American Sports Writing, The Masters Review, the Irish Times, The Telegraph, and more.

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