Though “conflict and confluence” was only a suggested topic for submissions this fall, the pieces we’re publishing from these three writers encounter the concept insightfully and lyrically, in essay and in almost-poem. All contain narrators at vulnerable moments, moments of youth and trial, moments in which currents are capable of leaving deep grooves. These three are narrators with protection peeled away at the very moment of entering borderlands: doing exactly the things they’re not meant to be doing, or seeing and knowing exactly the things they’re not meant to see and know. Except that, in some strange way, they are meant to do and see and know them, even as they flinch and recoil and somehow manage to look again. Even as the reader will inevitably flinch and recoil and look again. As the reader watches the writer commit world to mind, mind to story, and story to page, trying to make sense of all of this.