A day with her mother in Brenham, nestled in the rolling central hills. Spring, bluebonnets scattered thickly in all the fields and along the side of the state highways. Never felt more Texan than when her heart swelled at the sight of them. The Blue Bell creamery, the tour of the ice cream being made and packaged and then sweet little scoops. Then the nunnery where they bred miniature horses, a newborn foal quietly nuzzling his mother in a stall. Antique stores with armadillos on the walls and diners and the outline of Texas everywhere. She would be leaving soon. Continue reading →
He knew she would always be there, knowing he would always be there, waiting.
They had never met. He knew she was a world away from him. She came to him in his dreams, her voice lingering but quickly fading in those hazy moments upon waking. It was like a record listened to backwards to reveal secret messages, but just as he felt he was beginning to comprehend it it was gone, leaving him cold and alone in his studio apartment. Continue reading →
The wide-bladed, dully green St. Augustine grass was smooth and comparatively cool against the soles of her feet, a welcome respite from the sun-baked asphalt. She was wandering the neighborhood today, with no particular destination in mind, and had just crossed over from the sidewalks of her block to the field that made up most of the community park around the corner. The playground was deserted. There were unavoidably large outcroppings of clover here, the interspersed white flowers tickling her, but she was careful not to step on the dandelions. She didn’t want to crush any future wishes. Continue reading →
Rita carefully folded her periwinkle sundress and placed it in the bottom drawer of her walnut dresser. She picked up the empty basket and returned it to the laundry room. She used to enjoy the ritual of exchanging her summer clothes for the sweaters and turtlenecks she used to fight the chill of autumn, but this time it, like seemingly everything lately, was making her a little sad.
It was only five o’clock, but already the day felt as if it had gone on far too long. Rita considered going to bed, but knew if she did her mother would nag her about the importance of keeping a regular sleep schedule. So instead she walked to the backyard and sat on the slab of concrete that tried unsuccessfully to pass as a porch. Continue reading →
It was a lousy gig, but at this point any gig was worth taking. I had all the usual bullshit dreams of coming to New York and making it as an actor but here I was dressed up every day in a monkey suit for the screaming kids at a second-rate pizza joint. At the moment I was outside on my cigarette break, no longer noticing that the jaded lunchtime crowd didn’t notice me. Going out and getting falling-down drunk seemed like a good plan for tonight. This sure is a great town. Not soul-crushing at all. Continue reading →
His eyes slowly fluttered open and he stared at the ceiling. Here it was, his thirteenth birthday. He hadn’t expected thirteen to feel that different from twelve, but something did feel off and unfamiliar somehow. Arthur stretched his bony arms backwards over his head and then sat up, rubbing his rumpled hair.
At the kitchen table downstairs, his mother already had his favorite breakfast of orange juice, french toast, and a sunny-side-up egg laid out for him. As he sat down, she hurried in from the kitchen, grabbing his shoulders and kissing his cheek. “Good morning, birthday boy!” she said overly cheerfully. Continue reading →
This was not what I expected from the end of the world. Where was the brimstone, the lake of fire, the many-headed beast? Instead all we got was the lights going out, one by one. And then, finally, the sun. It did not set one final time. It was just not there anymore, and we were in unspeakable darkness. But no one panicked. Everyone seemed to peacefully accept the fact that this was all there was. Whatever was coming next, it had to be better than the mess we’d made of things here. Not with a bang, but a whimper.Continue reading →
Coffee, strong coffee. Sending vibrations, shockwaves, directly to her brain, which in turn set her fingers flying across the keys of her maroon Smith-Corona, each push resulting in clattering contact with the page, ink as black as the coffee against virginal paper. Five pages now. Not stopping until it was done. Another sip of coffee, more inspiration seizing hold of her. Always better to compose on a typewriter, tapping into the creative power of her literary ancestors, a direct lineage from the heroic bards of the past down to her, alone at her desk but wrapped in words, words, words. Continue reading →
It was the most heartbreaking thing I could imagine: an entire mysterious lifetime being abandoned and then forgotten. I considered my purchase of the ancient suitcase stuffed with faded photographs to be something of a rescue mission. I wouldn’t know the names and stories behind the grave, staring faces, but I would be letting them live on somehow anyway. I hoped someone would be so kind to me. Flipping through the stacks there in the musty antique store, I found myself already inventing entire histories for these strangers who had slipped, lost and lonely, through the cracked boardwalk of time. Continue reading →
It had seemed strange at first, of course. But now that the ratio of cephalophores to those with their heads still attached was roughly even, he scarcely noticed it anymore. They were just more bored New Yorkers, standing in line impatiently at the bank, making too much noise in the house across the street.
Then, one day, that all changed.
As the years passed, he remembered it like one would remember a car accident. Her glittering smile was the fragments of a shattered windshield scattered across black pavement, and nothing would ever be the same for him again. He had passed so many sleepless nights wondering how his life would be different if they had not crossed paths that day. He would have been saved from all the pain, but he could no longer imagine his life without her. She had been filling it up for so long, even if what she’d been filling it up with was the emotional equivalent of a full-body cast. Continue reading →