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Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Harvest Moon (La Mercè)

Moonlight penetrated the back windows, throwing bright, other-worldly patches onto the bare floor. Sitting on a pile of books, Kate stretched one bare foot into the light. Jason would be there soon. Her brother, the rock.
She could hear the clatter of the downstairs neighbors as they prepared their dinner. Quiet neighbors who knew nothing, who read about people like Kate in the newspaper. She pretended to forgive their ignorance, alternately despising and envying the softness in their speech, the banality of their arguments.
Avoiding the moon’s white squares, she crept to the darker front room, to the door with the caged window that gave onto the patio where Ben paced. She watched him from behind the thin curtain. Earlier, when she had pulled it back, there he had been, his face a blotching snarl that snapped at the glass, making her squeal and jump, her heart pumping adrenaline she didn’t need. She had phoned Jason then.
With long strides Ben crashed across the porch, fierce in every movement, arms jerking out as if to punctuate a lecture, or to knock out imaginary rivals. He turned, abruptly stopping, his arms crooked at his sides as he sniffed the night air. His head jerked up and to the right, his eyes blazing a hole through the glass into Kate’s throat. He ran at the door then, threw himself against the window grate, howling in pain before he struck.
Kate willed her breath back and opened the window.
Her voice was broken.
He limped off the porch and resumed his pacing. Headlights shot through the hedges and like a wild boar Ben froze.
‘Kate!” Jason called as he pulled the car up. He beeped. “Kate? You ready?”
He had been there before.
She watched Ben tear across the patio and out to the street. She heard the car’s horn again, then listened as Ben’s yawp faded away up the hill and became a labored, frothing pant.
Kate shouldered her bag and unlocked the door.

Sunday, September 22, 2013


Issue 1 of 101Fiction has included my story "Implosion", along with seven other stories having to do with the phoenix and/or autumn. Below is the link to my story, and below that, it's translation into Spanish. Happy Fall!



Su cólera era el derrame del vino oscuro, casi morado, que empapaba las fibras blancas y almidonadas del mantel. Con su furia de rabioso bermejo formaba pilas, barría el éidolon caído, y los pardos despojos esqueléticos crepitaron al liberarse.
Saltaban chispas de sus largas uñas que martilleaban – ratatatá – contra el mármol donde se tumbaría. No serían suficientes las débiles pavesas de su ira. Se quitó el chal de ajustados hilos violetas, colocó su sonrisa al costado de su manera de atar los cordones de los zapatos. Dijo su nombre; con el susurro que había erizado su barba, avivó las llamas.

Friday, September 20, 2013

10 March 2003 (Time Travel)

Rising from this autumn solstice, I step onto the path I wore thin. My heart flutters with the scent of lilac and my need for your surgeon to say We got it all.

33 words for  who urged us to time travel and specify the year. I, of course, travel to Pep. 1-4-3

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Phone Call

This one was it. Janie knew as soon as she dialed the number. Her big pay-off was about to happen. The phone chord, stretched taut to reach into the pantry, was quivering in the excitement of Janie’s big moment. The tiresome research and endless waiting, the patient vigils, the cutting and pasting were done. She had put off the phone call until all the stars were aligned, the pieces of the puzzle -the enigma of Janie- were in place. More than once she had taken a deep breath, considering the risks, and held that breath while she recalled all her past disappointments, reliving those carefully constructed dreams that had been dashed in an instant. Success, fulfilment, happiness: nudged just beyond her reach. Was this yet one more beguiling rainbow about to be smudged grey?
Janie wanted to hang up, wanted to press her finger against the button, put the phone quickly back in place, but she knew this was it. This was her crowning glory, her longed-for triumph. She remained curled around the receiver, squatting inside the dark pantry, the door jammed shut on the phone chord. The quivering phone chord. Janie held her breath between rings.
On the third ring she coughed. A tickly cough that she knew was just beginning. She could feel it working up into a coughing fit that would not stop just because the person at the other end of the line was about to answer the telephone.
Holding the receiver close against her ear, Janie wrapped the trembling phone chord, the quivering coil about her neck and pulled. Slowly she tightened it, choking back the cough. Tighter. Cough. Tight. Ring.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Curses, Foiled Again!

Sunday morning’s forecast
promised lightning, droning rain.
I drew back the curtain
with hard-clutched book, to no avail.
Double-crossing weather channel!
Sunshine! Blue skies!
Wherefore art thou washing machine?
Scrubbrush? Mop and pail?

wants a 33-word example of an apostrophe.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

So You Wanna Be a Bruin

Harvey was born to be a hockey player. Snow and ice were to him what roses and red were to poets. Other kids would beg their dads to fill up little rubber pools in the summer, but Harvey would start nagging at Halloween for his dad to fill up their rink, though it would never freeze before mid December.
While his sisters plastered their walls with pictures of David Cassidy, Harvey had just one poster: Gerry Cheevers in his goalie mask. From his desk or his bed, Harvey could count the stitches drawn all over it, dreaming of the day he would bear his own NHL scars.
From the first white-edged freeze to the last slush-covered game of the season, the tough-assed kids fought over who would play goalie. Names were called and sticks were slapped on ponds all across town as pick-up games on quick-shoveled ice began.
Harvey knew he wasn’t supposed to go out on the ponds. That’s why his father made him the backyard rink, goddammit, so his mother wouldn’t have to worry about some dumb-assed townie taking a stick to his head, or pushing him onto thin ice and into freezing pond water. But Mark Conway had double-dared him at school, and the boys were all headed to Musquashcut. If Harvey was to be the town’s next star goalie, if he wanted to be in Gerry Cheevers’ league, there was no question of who would play that Sunday against the dickheads from Hingham.

When Harvey’s little brother Tommy came looking for him after church, there was no one left on the pond but Harvey. He sat holding snow to his mouth, sticking his tongue through the upside-down V in his front teeth.
‘Lemme see,’ said Tommy. Harvey took the bloody snow away and smiled.
“Wow,” breathed Tommy. “Mom’s gonna have a fit.” Harvey nodded. He motioned for Tommy to grab his skates and stick.
“Where’s your glove?” Tommy was kicking at the hardened snow. Harvey shrugged.
“Did we win?”

Friday, September 6, 2013

The Seventh Chakra

They were alone in the loft, the light fading. Someone had told her the soul leaves the body through the crown of the head. She spoke, her soft words his last tether, unraveling.

33 words for, including tether, crown and loft.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Just Look at Them and Sigh

“Stop telling people to picture me with a beard,” she says to me as we leave the bank.
“I’m sorry,” I say. I give her my sheepish smile. She doesn’t look at me. She’s annoyed.
The guy at the bank knew her father, remembers what he looked like. When I mention the beard he nods emphatically – he recognizes the resemblance without my graphic reminder. Deep, dark-chocolate eyes under a broad forehead; arms that can reach anywhere; a stride the rest of us have to jog to keep up with.
There are other traits. I joke about her being tight fisted (other mothers cluck and correct me: she is prudent). I feel undeserved pride in her studiousness. I acknowledge as mine her being thoughtful and quiet; a woman of few words, but he was even more introspective, reticent and frugal of utterance.
My athletic ability. His posture. My sarcasm (okay, this may well be learned rather than inherited). His unexpected fragility.
I marvel at many of these (and cringe at the one), but what most astonishes me as I gaze upon my daughter, watching for her father, is their grace. Not in the long-legged, short-trunked loping gait she now uses, an exact replica of the way her father used to cross the very same stretch of empty pavement. Not in the take-no-prisoners stance she adopts when the meal is over and the dishes are perched in the sink, waiting for her to slowly, thoroughly, dispense with them. She shares with him a way of softening her face, loosening her body language and mellowing her voice when another person, friend or foe, stranger or family, allows her a glimpse of their pain. The strange, almost mystical dignity that I thought corresponded only to him, and so had lost, is finding its way back into the world, on the shoulders of his daughter. My daughter. Our daughter.
“I’m really tired of it,” she says two blocks later.
I shrug, keep walking. She takes my hand.

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