I’ve been a fan of Andrea Barrett’s work for many years. She is perhaps best known for her National Book Award-winning novel Ship Fever. But she is also an accomplished short story writer, and her astonishing collection, Servants of the Map, which was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, is one of my favorite books. Her new short story, “Archangel,” (being published as a special double issue here at One Story) follows in the footsteps of these earlier works, seamlessly tying together the world of science and history with the emotional lives of her characters. Set in 1917, “Archangel” concerns Eudora, a young American X-Ray technician, working at a hospital for soldiers fighting after the armistice, during the allied intervention in Russia. As she tries to help the wounded, Eudora meets a young soldier named Boyd who has injured his leg–a piece of bone, from a fallen friend, has been blown into his body from an explosion. As Boyd’s story begins to unfold, it draws Eudora closer to him, until she understands that he wants what they all desperately want: to go home. Echoes of the current wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are woven throughout this skillful tale, and the emotionally gripping conclusion sets “Archangel” among the best short stories I’ve read in a long, long time. Visit Andrea Barrett’s Q&A to find out more about how she wrote this compelling piece. Personally, I loved the factual detailing, as well as the repetition of words, and the image of the icy toboggan run that made me fear that Boyd would take his own life. The final turn in “Archangel” moved me to tears, and I believe captures the feeling of this nation as we head into the New Year–in desperate need of good news and hopeful for better times, but still facing a long, cold winter.