Dead EndMary Jumbelic
“Mom, why are all the police cars and fire trucks here?”
“What did you say, honey?” I said, covering my free ear. “Police? Fire trucks?” Noise at the reception counter made it difficult to hear. I gestured to co-workers to lower the volume. A quick reply of silence followed. They listened to the boss, my prerogative as the Chief Medical Examiner. Read more.
Watercolor for BeginnersJanna Whitney Rider
It was as if all my colors had changed. There was no control or curation to my feelings anymore, only raw and wild outbursts. I tried explaining to a friend, “I’m a Jackson Pollock painting right now. Red! Blue! Yellow! I prefer a bit more nuance. Something impressionistic typically suits me, like shadows that fade in the afternoon sun. Purple and gray into peachy yellow ochre – these are my colors.” Read more.
A Bright Cold Day in AprilMichael McGuire
It was a bright cold day in April of 1984 when I tested positive for the HIV virus. I remember the date and the weather because not only does the devastation of life-altering news make one hyperconscious of his environment and bring the physical world into magnified bold relief, I was that week also reading Orwell’s 1984 for the third time… Read more.
Ignoring Vital SignsHilton Koppe
These days I see my mum less often. But I see her better. Since I moved from the city to work as a country doctor twenty-five years ago, she visits a few times a year. She stays for a week or more. We get to share breakfast, lunch and dinner. Tonight, I am sitting with her in our lounge room. My kids are in bed. My wife is out. We are watching Fiddler on the Roof. Read more.
Papa’s Mysterious RexEtya Krichmar
It happened a long time ago in a small town of Kotovsk, located in Eastern Ukraine, which belonged to the Soviet Union. Mama, Papa, and I sat in the back of the menacing-looking, Khrushchev-Era four-story building in front of our ground floor apartment’s window. The three of us enjoyed the last few days of the good weather. It was pleasantly warm for an October evening. Read more.
Antidote to TruthCarol Ann Wilson
Standing in Tiananmen Square that autumn day in 1998, I marveled at its vastness. The few people populating its more than fifty-three acres seemed like ants on an enormous sidewalk. The square could hold many, many more. Multitudes. Read more.
Dora’s Deathbed: First MovementGary Levi
“I can’t feel a pulse,” Mae says, her rose-lacquered fingertips probing the carotid of her dying friend Dora. Mae’s a just-retired nurse, so what she says carries weight. Even though she’s here in her civilian capacity, like the rest of us, to watch Dora die. Read more.
A Father’s ArmsSu Cummings
The thermonuclear bomb and I practically share a birthday—that was the first hydrogen fusion device with the power of 800 Hiroshima bombs. They called it the superbomb, the “city killer.” Physicist Enrico Fermi said its “practical effect is almost one of genocide.” I always knew the fear-begotten arms race and I grew up together. Read more.
Born StillAnna West
I was watching a gothic tableau play out from the corner of a hospital room. A pale girl lay on the bed below. Dark hair on white pillows. White sheets between her legs stained with blood. I felt compassion for the pale girl and the three people bending over her. Two nurses and a young doctor. A cry caught in his throat. “We’re losing her!” Read more.
Hope is what filled Helga’s letters, in fact, they were overflowing with hope. Hard to imagine so much hope inside a prison cell. That first year awaiting trial moved slowly, with little to do inside that cell. Helga was in solitary confinement for over eight months.
My mother and her sister, Helga, were part of the resistance in Nazi Germany. As teenagers they worked as couriers, smuggling anti-Hitler newspapers across the mountains from Czechoslovakia into Germany. Read more.
Bobby’s Irish GoodbyeJoyce McKenna
It’s always been remarked upon in my family — by family I include all my cousins — that whenever there’s a large gathering, my brother Bobby, youngest of all the twenty-one cousins, will slip away unnoticed, thus aptly demonstrating the “Irish Goodbye.” He began his disappearing act at the age of two and a half. Read more.
Back in the seventies, J-Bee drove a cab in New York. Tips were in nickels and dimes. When he’d saved enough, he hitched across the country. He arrived in Berkeley in summertime, land of eucalyptus trees and soup kitchens where the sun sets backwards, over the vast, sleepy, amnesic Pacific. Read more.
The Other in ParisN. M. Campbell
Marianne paced as she walked around the space praying. It was a lull between the movements, so she took a moment to stretch her legs. Fourteen years ago and a month, she did not remember this being so hard.
“Mama!” Marianne ran back to her daughter’s side and squatted down next to her. Read more.
Lost And FoundAida Bode
The decade of childhood – 1981
The little girl’s red hair looked like a splash of sunrise on the white pillowcase. She moved her head to the edge of the bed and then opened her hazel eyes that shone like two big pieces of amber that had just started to cool down. Read more.
Who Do You Trust?Bridget Verhaaren
The baja sauce zings my tastebuds with fire from the ancho chili peppers. The light, flaky sauteed mahi mahi and fresh guacamole with lime make for fish taco perfection. Digging my toes deeper into the sand, I take another bite – a Chronic Taco party in my mouth. Gary and I sit on the warm sand and watch the waves crash onto the beach. Read more.
Men Will Be MenAndrew Sarewitz
We haven’t spoken in years, but I almost always remember George’s birthday. The first day of summer. This year, it landed on Father’s Day. Without a message attached, he texted me a photograph of his family. Not the one that raised him when he and I were growing up. This is of him, his wife and three kids. Read more.
A Run HomeJennifer VanIwarden
It is important that you know that I am a very sensitive person. So much so I have worked really hard to not be. I have found it too difficult to feel all the world’s problems on top of my own. I have worked to build walls so as not to feel it all. Read more.
New York City had never seen such dreadful weather. The rain poured on Sunday with such ferocity as to relieve wavering worshippers from attending services, for it suggested that the heavenly deity would rather that they stay at home. No sooner had night fallen, however, than a bitter cold set in, first freezing the remnants of the day’s precipitation upon the streets, then turning the rain into heavy snow. Read more.
Carry On BaggageErin Conway
The flight wasn’t long from Guatemala City to Dallas, two hours. It wasn’t long from Texas to Wisconsin either, two and a half hours more. Finding something to do for that timespan was nothing compared to the twenty-four plus hours it took to visit my brother and his family in Tel Aviv. Read more.
Climbing in VainStuart Baker Hawk
I was sitting in a poolside chair nursing some mixed concoction at Bally’s Las Vegas. Two days earlier, I stood atop Mt. Whitney via the Mountaineer’s Route, the same route first climbed by John Muir in 1873.
I had several more peaks to grab on my list. Denali in Alaska at 20,237 feet was next up, the highest peak in all fifty states. Read more.
The Man Can DanceAlyssa Katz
My father, George Katz, was drafted into the U.S. military in 1942. Life in the military began in Roosevelt Field, Long Island, where he received a physical examination. The exam revealed flat feet and a high IQ. Owing to the high IQ, he was not sent overseas for combat. Rather, he stayed on the mainland in the U.S. Army Air Corps (today the Air Force) working on airplanes. Read more.
Why We Should Synchronize With the SeaMichael McQuillan
We can delve into pictures as we would with a text. This one shares insights. To find them I shed sneakers, drag toes through moist sand and breathe deeply. Eyes face the horizon. On a weekday there is no one else here. I drink in the air, sights and sounds, a healing balm for the chaos of our so-called civilized world. Read more.
The Lost Room and Everyday ObjectsDebbie Robson
Now that I have finished watching The Lost Room mini-series on catchup tv (actually catching up with a show first screened in 2006), I have a new respect for objects. You know, they are not as simple as they appear to be. They sit quietly minding their own business. But in an indefinable way, they do have lives of their own — as I will try to demonstrate. Read more.
Misfits of the Animal Kingdom: ButterfliesSusan Abercrombie
Forewing: I acquired a fear of butterflies the same way I acquired a favoritism of the color blue. One day, I simply decided. I’d cringe when they flew near, drawing my arms close to my chest to reduce their chance of using me as a landing pad. I’d stare at pictures of them on Google, examining their paper-thin wings and furry faces. Read more.