One hot summer day twenty years ago, the day after my father died, my brother and I placed a few sheets of four-foot by eight-foot plywood in the center of the attic at my parent’s house, the same house I live in now with my wife Anne and our three boys, the house we are selling. Putting the boards in was hard work that required twisting and bending and lifting, and it strained our muscles. Dust motes and pink asbestos particles clung to our sweaty skin, and splinters pierced our fingers; I enjoyed the work, more from the pleasure of my brother’s company than the job’s inherent value or purpose.Read more.
Something about the smell of Dr. Schein’s office reminded Larry Dugin of visits to the school nurse when he was a child—white walls, white cabinets, and grey rug; next to where Larry was seated, the syringe disposal box with its tilted lid; the magazines on the table that previous patients had forgotten to return to the waiting room. He lost himself in the history of his own health every time he entered this office. Dr. Schein, standing grim-faced and stiff in front of the lightbox on the opposite wall, was Larry’s oncologist.Read more.
The sun was setting as they rode back up the entrance road to the farmhouse. Douglas breathed in the pungency of the newly turned soil as if it were a harbinger of what was to come. There was now a small sports car parked behind the Toyota; the crate, minus one of its sides, sat empty between the house and the corrugated shed. Emrys greeted them at the front door, holding it open. Squinting against the raw light, and before inviting them in, he gestured with one arm towards the sky behind Gwen and Douglas. The dogs barked, again and again, out of sight.Read more.
For the first 20 years of Douglas Williams’ life, his grandmother Mary had been tightlipped about her past—what had brought her to America, what and who she had left behind. During the last week of his last semester of college, Douglas’ father Llewelyn Williams Jr., fearing a downturn in Mary’s health, insisted Douglas join the family at the nursing home that had housed her for the last five years. That evening, after a short visit from a priest during which she insisted she was healthy as ever, she asked about Douglas’ upcoming Army service and if he still expected to be stationed in Europe for a time. When Douglas answered yes, she made this request of him: Please look up my brother-in-law Joseph, who might or might not still be living in Wales. She gave Douglas a photograph of her long-dead husband Llewelyn Williams Sr., noting that she had none of Joseph, but that the two brothers, born a few years apart in age, shared enough features for the photo to be useful. Promise you will do this for me, she insisted. Douglas kissed her on the forehead and promised he would. Mary’s request took everyone by surprise, especially Douglas’ father, himself equally tightlipped about his origins—as if it were a family obligation to bury the past.Read more.