“‘It Could Happen To You’ is an unforgettable story about a family of three finding a UFO. As it slowly builds towards the eerie, it finds power in finely crafted scenes about the mundane aspects of child-rearing. There’s so much beauty in its everyday insights, in lines like “This is how most of parenting happens, silently across the gulf of a car or a living room, semaphore flags of agreement or tension.” And the story’s lustrous last sentence fulfills its promise of fusing the real with the incredible, calling into question how we know the difference.” This is how Fall Fiction guest judge Anita Felicelli described Trent England’s third place story, “It Could Happen To You,” which we are proud to share with you today. Dive in below:
Pete’s finger traced a light in the sky that Celeste could see better now: a faint traveling beam, weaving an arc in the air, lazy, consistent. She knew what it was.
In the end, they decided to keep it.
Celeste sat in the passenger seat while Pete drove the Volvo the long way home, all back roads and dark streets, cutting through unlit neighborhoods, people asleep. She flipped down the visor above her head and watched Tiger through the vanity mirror, the glow of his phone the only evidence that he was awake. He hadn’t yet told them what had happened that had made him call and ask to be picked up in the middle of the sleepover, nor uttered a single word since Pete and Celeste had arrived at Lucas Conroy’s house.
She couldn’t get the image out of her mind. Tiger, flooded with light from the sconces by the door, sitting on the Conroys’ front porch steps, arms locked around his legs. How long had he been sitting there? Lucas’s father, Rick, stood there behind him, and waved when the Danners pulled up. Pete asked her to stay in the car, claiming this was quote-unquote guy stuff. She watched Pete back slap with Rick — Rick in his Rutgers shirt, Rick who was a broker in the city and wouldn’t let Belinda go back to work, Rick who’d once, in front of Celeste, made a joke about women with big asses. She watched the two dads shake their heads and look down at Tiger as if to say, What can you do, and then Pete knelt down and looked Tiger in the eyes and said something she couldn’t make out and he hugged their son for a long time and led him back to the wagon. He was a good man, Peter Danner, even if he’d snapped at her earlier that night during dinner. He was a good father, a good tipper, a good small-talker, and thankfully, a good driver in the middle of the night, on these unlit roads unfamiliar to her, being herself from the city, somewhere else, not here, a place nothing like this.