In her dream, she was in Cajun country. There was a river where crawfish were being pulled up, and there was a bar at the bottom. She dove down, holding her breath, seeing all the strange personalities in the crystal-clear water. She saw a man smoking, and that confused her most of all. She wanted to stay, shoot pool, order a drink, but after just a few moments she had to grasp for the surface, clinging to the dock and gasping for breath. She wanted to ask the people to tell her their stories. But the river swallowed her words. Continue reading →
It was the last night of camp, and a particularly large bonfire was built for everyone to gather around, toast marshmallows for s’mores and sing camp songs for the last time while the music counselor played her acoustic guitar. The stars were terribly bright, the moon was full, and the hum of nocturnal insects was a constant backdrop beneath the songs and conversation. Friendships forged over lanyards and canoes were promised to continue—visits over school vacations! letters!—but really everyone was saying goodbye tonight, everyone was flashing their smiles in the flickering light of the fire for the final time. Continue reading →
Independence Day. Her dad had woken her up at 9 for the parade, when the Texas air was already humid enough to cut into thick slabs. Now they were sitting on the curb, the backs of their necks sticky with sunscreen, watching the high school band march by. Screeching as it turned the corner, the first float of the day came into view—a giant, papier-mache slice of watermelon, complete with seeds as big as her head. Representatives from the Chamber of Commerce stood circled on the platform around it, waving slowly. She was young enough to wave back. Continue reading →
She was dashing between the awnings, pausing under the brightly-colored plastic, flapping madly in the wind, for protection from the sudden downpour. The heavy, foreboding slate-gray clouds had rolled in out of nowhere, and Main Street was packed with unknowing passersby, their heads ducked uselessly against the onslaught, the collars of their soaked jackets pulled upward, rushing to the warmth of home. The clattering thunder rattled her teeth as she made another sprint, her pocketbook clutched firmly against her chest. Forks of lightning, chiseled and sharpened by some scowling ancient god, split the sky into jigsaw puzzle pieces. Continue reading →
The crossroads. This spot in the park had always felt somehow holy to her. She had never been exactly sure why, but it was the kind of spot she could imagine fairies gathering, leading their enchanted changeling away from the mourning Titania. She left coins or little bits of food here sometimes, nestled amongst the plants gathered in the shade of the thin elm trees, knowing they would be useful to some chipmunk or squirrel. She had no doubt that their spirits were just as playful and powerful as fairies or anything else. Maybe it would bring her good luck. Continue reading →
She stood beside the ice cream truck, studiously examining the various frozen confections that were displayed on its side. There were so many choices and picking the proper one felt terribly important. She finally settled on a popsicle which consisted of alternating layers of chocolate and banana, and also requested one of the little men attached to a parachute, which she’d greatly enjoy launching from the second floor of her house later. She sat on the front porch and sucked her popsicle, the sweetness of it combined with the insistence of the July sun feeling like summer in a nutshell.
It was only the last thirty-five seconds, but after four barren years that was enough. She sat there in her banged-up car, and as his familiar voice wrapped itself around her she felt like he was her Jimmy Stewart, wrapping her, wet and shivering, in a blanket after finding her in the San Francisco Bay. She hadn’t realized how tense and nervous she had been until the blank, blissful calm she felt upon listening to him again had enveloped her. Her mind was a shaken Etch-A-Sketch, ready for him to mark out the boundaries of again. Continue reading →