From “Pair of Strangers”

Secrets, Dexter thought. We all have secrets. He looked at her and an idea began to form in his head. He was, after all, The Reader.

“Yeah, it’s true that we don’t know each other,” he said. “But from what I gather, we’re it right now. Just you and me.” He took a sip on his vodka, rattling the ice as he did. Memories started colliding in his head, and he stared off into nothing, several long seconds ticking off.

 “Pain is a nasty thing,” he finally said, his attention still fixed on some faraway place and time. “We carry it inside, wrapped around our hearts, letting it slowly squeeze the life out of us. If we don’t let it go, we slip into mere existence. We perform the motions, but there is no joy in anything we do.”

In this collection of nine stories, VanPatten deftly captures the pain and hope that is the human existence. From all walks of life and from different times, the characters confront life-altering events and learn what it means to make choices. The Whisper of Clouds promises to both haunt and intrigue you.