It was a quiet October day, drizzling and cold as dusk edged its way over the hills. In southwestern Wisconsin, out in the hollows far from any civilization, a small cabin renovated into a viable home stood by an outcropping of trees. Smoke was billowing from the chimney while chickens scuttled around the wet grass. A glass storm door was the only thing preventing the cold breeze from seeping its way into the house. Through that glass door, a woodstove squatted low to the floor, casting heat to fight back the cold of the crisp autumn day. However, this wasn’t just any October day.read more...
I used to see Michael’s father nearly every day. He would be sitting on the steps of a church at the corner of Chestnut and Central, his face turned squarely into the bright sun and his eyes would be closed. He could be getting a suntan except that if you wait long enough you see that he periodically drops his head into his hands and remains like that, head bowed and cradled, his shoulders occasionally shaking. He looks like a statue…read more...
Only the bride was still.
The bride, LeighAnna Hope Camden, sat on the floor of the church dressing room in an avalanche of white. She had yet to put on the dress. The slip alone was thirty-eight yards of netting covered with a fine batiste. Batiste, Bastille. LeighAnna wondered if the netting was fomenting rebellion.
Once upon a time, there was a girl who believed that if she confessed her love to her best friend, her life would leave her body: she would move on. This would cause her best friend great pain, and to save Artemio from hurting, Esperanza suffered the pain of never telling him how she felt.read more...
The classroom is small, and there is a faint staleness in the air, like the scent of days-old burnt pastries in a kitchen. Chairs too small to fit adult bodies are stacked in the far corner beneath the one window of the room, and all the tables have been pushed against the perimeter, circling him and the others like an elevated moat of laminate wood. The walls are covered with crayon drawings from the children who are there during the daytimeread more...
Nine-year-old Liz Walters knew the old playscape was off-limits and had been for years. She hadn’t planned to climb the ladder. This was just going to be a reconnaissance mission.
By mid-afternoon on a Friday in late August, she’d crossed Johnson’s cow pasture and was standing behind the closed-up village school, contemplating the sad condition of its abandoned playground.
Janine wants me to write it all down. She still doesn’t believe me, despite everything I’ve been through and everything I’ve put her through. She wants me to write it down so then I’ll realise how crazy it sounds. The boat took me back. Right back to New Guinea in 1943. It wasn’t time travel exactly, but it has to be close.
But I’m getting ahead of myself.
Sometime in the pre-dawn hours, outside of a Mexican village called the Three Sisters, a teenage boy had climbed to the top of a 500-foot-high transmission tower.
To us in the new day, our faces skyward, he looked like a tiny hovering angel, his gaze directed over the mountains of the Three Sisters, from which the village drew its name. He was oblivious to the shouts of his people so far below, in whose midst I stood.
Then suddenly as we watched, he dropped from the sky, and nearing earth, he took on flesh, while losing it, too, as the sheer-sided struts sliced through the falling body.
They are such nice clothes.
But how can I wear them, in light of how they’ve come to me?
With an exuberant air, Dulcianne presented me with two large trash bags. She was my aunt, but for as long as I could recall, always only Dulcianne.
“Her family left all of these behind,” she said.
Then: “They took only the jewelry and the furniture.”
And then: “I think they might be ‘bout your size.”
I accepted the bags with splayed fingertips. They’d been sitting in one of the sixth-floor apartment rooms with, I understood, two polished bookshelves and a dead body.
It’s April 1963, the snow is mostly melted, the ice is gone from the sidewalks, and we’re streaking, we’re flying, we’re absolutely airborne on our bikes as we race to the center of town. Flash has a sleek new racer, one of those Schwinns, accented bright blue on the frame and handlebar. He’s hunched over in an aerodynamic crouch, so low you can’t see his eyes. The rest of us – Ziti, Rando, myself – we’re green with envy, so jealous we can’t see straight, but it doesn’t matter, not really; we know sooner or later our parents will give in and we’ll all get one.read more...
Erin goes to Coney Island. The year is 1952.
Long before the bus makes the familiar turn towards the shore, she can smell Sheepshead Bay. The saltwater, combined with steam clams and the scent of cotton candy, makes her nauseous. As they approach Coney Island, Erin looks out the window and watches the people walking along the boardwalk. The August heat hangs like a weight over the day, making everyone move in slow motion like they are stuck in wet cement.
“I don’t believe in God.”
That’s the first thing Jack Reed says in class. Not surprising really, Mickey Powell thinks. Most years there is someone, more often a guy than a girl, who wants to define the terms of engagement on the first day, to get the battle, so to speak, onto ground he felt safe on. And what do kids know about God, anyway? What does anyone know?
“You’re awake, Ronnie,” the big woman said. She was sitting at the foot of my bed. A man, decidedly less portly, was standing next to her, smiling. Who were these people? The room seemed out of focus. I couldn’t understand why they were calling me ‘Ronnie,’ when my name was Harry. And where was my lovely Monique? What in the hell was going on?read more...
Late one night, dangerously late, at that hour when stillness and darkness cloak the sleepless, and when an aching heart silences reason, Angie posted to Twitter.
The days are long, the nights are cold. I miss you, still.
As a rule, Angie does not speak from the heart, not in writing, and certainly not on social media, which she largely disdains. She’s a scholar.
“When I lost the woman I loved, I knew it was because she was afraid of me. I saw it in her eyes… the fear….”
This was how I began my first ever face-to-face colloquy with my first ever and only psychotherapist at forty-six years of age. She thought I was talking about my wife from whom I was recently separated.
Clipped to a rope line at the summit of Dufourspitze, Deidre Moon was on top of the world. The panoramic view unfolded beneath a sapphire sky. An amphitheater of four-thousand-meter peaks poked through a swirl of clouds. Italy to the south, the Matterhorn to the west.read more...
It wasn’t until the fourth or fifth time she played Iris’ voicemail that it dawned on Satya just how long she had gone without leaving her narrow slice of South Ealing Road. It took several more times before the full meaning of it sank in.
Satya…I know you probably don’t want to talk, but this is not just your daily motivational, so please listen to me: I just got out of Waterloo Station. Simon isn’t there anymore. They’ve replaced him with someone new. I’m sorry, but I thought you should know.
The young man working the two-pump gas station at the corner of Main and 443 stopped a black minivan with an upraised hand so he could fill Annie’s gas can. His narrow face and weak chin gave him away as a Scanlan, but she had no idea which one. Mickey? Eddie? Tommy? Or was he old enough to be Mick, Ed or Tom? He lifted weights and was cock-proud of his broad chest and thick biceps, one of which was tagged with an eagle tattoo, a screaming patriotic bird of prey, talons extended. He looked at her sideways as he eased the nozzle into the can.read more...