I was born in the winter of 1982. A week later, my father transported me and my mother from the town hospital back home on a wooden horse cart. The unrelenting snowflakes oscillated from the dreary sky and soon smothered the blanket under which my mother cuddled her infant daughter. Many years later my mother confided, or complained, that my father grudgingly hauled the cart choosing broken road and stones for the wheels to roll over to declare his vexation at having another girl.Read more.
Afternoon. A mist of not-quite-rain. Stacking wood by the side of the shack. River Gum, bought in to mix with the bush wood. Admire its deep desert-red, its dense solidity, its promise that winter has its comforts too: this is the only wood that knows how to burn hot and slow and all the way through to the morning.Read more.
At the entrance of the yurt, Larry pulls a large group of keys from his pocket; one key for the door of the yurt, one to the gate above the entrance of the lava cave, one for the lightbox, one for Tom’s mansion, one for his car, and one for his bike lock. He’s always loved the perfect circle of the yurt. There are no hidden corners, no set-aside spaces, everything can be taken in, in one sweeping look…Read more.
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.
Jimmy is proud to have lettered in basketball. But he has come to think of his Saint Ambrose high-school varsity jacket as a private and public symbol of his life. It is a sort of Scarlet Letter of taint and shame for being sexually abused as a child and a bold blue A rating from the Health Department like at the zoo food stand where he works for appearing safe and clean.Read more.
Big Tiny and Polly owned a neighborhood grocery store with two Conoco pumps out front and rarely more than three customers at a time inside. No TV or radio played in the background, no beer or cigarettes sold, and they didn’t bother with a cash register. A narrow counter ran from the front window almost to the back door, two aisles opened perpendicular to the counter, and shelves lined the walls. Other than a well-stocked cold drink box and an old Hotpoint refrigerator filled with dairy products, that was it. I worked as the store’s only employee in the summer of 1963, when I was thirteen and secretly held Cassius Clay as my hero.Read more.