Their Christmas cards always came with a photo of them smiling, their arms wrapped around each other’s waists. One year they were rock climbing in Fiji, another they were skiing in Switzerland.
After I moved to Oregon, away from California for the first time, Granny came up for a visit. This was a few years ago and I was still living under the swell of hope a move can bring.
What the boys did not hear from the girls, and what the girls did not hear from the boys, was the shattering, shattering, shattering. Only the Revere girl could hear it. Only the Wellesley boy could make her lips unkissable, but not sealed. And she said, you can’t leave here the way you are. And he said, I thought, I thought you knew. Didn’t you?What the boys did not hear from the girls, and what the girls did not hear from the boys, was the shattering, shattering, shattering. Only the Revere girl could hear it. Only the Wellesley boy could make her lips unkissable, but not sealed. And she said, you can’t leave here the way you are. And he said, I thought, I thought you knew. Didn’t you?
The bark of the apple tree is black; alone in the garden, black. It cuts into the winter like calligraphy. The winter paints white dogs yellow and makes the night luminous and in a way unreal, anesthetized sleep blowing through the streets, a flood of quiet, quiet.
Outside Sky Bar, we smoke a cigarette, take a few snaps, try to hype each other up. Everyone on St Catherine is just in their civilian drag. We definitely stand out. Nobody shaved their facial hair so pieces of wig keep getting caught in our beards.
She peels down the steps past the same planets she saw on her way up. The land beneath her gradually comes into focus; a group of seagulls picking at something in the sand, the grid of sidewalks. She thinks that when she gets home she will bake her mother a pink cake with five layers.
His moods dictated his weight. We carried on at restaurants that note just how cold their noodles come.
Four days in Goa nearly killed me. It started the morning my bus arrived in Mapusa and I didn't see my uncle Quinton waiting for me. A swarm of rickshaw drivers had crowded the bus doors when I got off.
Dad smiles, shows us the wrong side of his face in this wide grin we haven’t experienced yet. I pat his back and feel guilty for not doing the same for Mom.
As the old white lady stood there, with her slightly slouched, guilty­-looking body language, I realized that there was something familiar about her, but I couldn’t place it. It was like she was one of my close friends’ grandmothers whom I’d met before briefly, but I knew that wasn’t correct. Then again, she looked like every white person’s grandma.
As the train rattled through the darkness, she reached into her pocket and felt the ticket stubs. She ran her thumb along their ragged edges. She was tired and weak, dizzy with the day’s efforts, but it had been worth it: now her boy would have a good life, with a good mother who could afford to shop at fancy stores and take him to the zoo every day.
This is the way he walks: north on Grace to College, east on College to Manning, south on Manning to Dundas, then west on Dundas back to Grace. It’s just a square. This is the way he walks every day, but it’s not just one time, he does it over and over again.
At the top of her journey, Johanna cracked a lager. She was thirteen and thinking of the beautiful sea. The smothering western sea. The concrete stoop leading down to it from her old house, in the coastal town where she used to live.
It wasn’t assault, exactly. Or maybe it was. Either way it happened quickly. It stopped. Tree-scales scraped barkily against the cotton of her tee-shirt. The boy was walking away. Willa’s earbuds had fallen out of her ears, dangling over her collarbone.
Everything was dark for a really long time. Her mind tried to push through in the morning, but couldn’t even then. She finally woke up surrounded by red vomit, and considered herself lucky she’d fallen asleep sitting up on the couch. She said “lucky” one or two times before it became meaningless. She was chasing God.
The mayfly perched on my shoulder. “Angry is better than sad. But unsheathing a sword at an insect is useless. I only live one day, but I hear many stories, some of them human, some of them not human. Tell me your troubles. Even a sheet of paper feels lighter with another hand to carry it.”
I went home with blood in my underwear. When Petra asked what happened later that week, holding my panties like a science project over the washing machine, I told her I started my period. YAY, she squealed, pronouncing me woman. I took the tampons she bought me and dipped them in cups of water, awed at how far the cotton could expand.
Cheese pushes the button under the counter with his middle finger. He can see both faces in his Plexiglas reflection smiling back at him. The kid doesn’t see it. He’s somewhere else.
Ines then backed further and further away towards the car. The sun was beginning to set and the air was cooling. The volcano was making its small eruptions just a few miles away. She looked at her little brother, locked away.
I held my talking point, digesting his words after. ‘You knew.’ I might have meant Shannon, but I think now I was talking about more: ten years of Loder-fucking-Shannons that had, and have, only something to do with girls.
Lone white face in a sea of black, Furo learned fast. To walk with his shoulders up and his steps steady. To keep his gaze lowered and his face blank. To ignore the fixed stares, the pointed whispers, the blatant curiosity. And he learnt how it felt to be seen as a freak: exposed to wonder, invisible to comprehension.
The big refrigerator units in the basement hummed back to life as the next batch of cows was herded in except first they washed away the blood so as not to spook them. When I cried I was made fun of so I stopped crying for three whole months.
HERE IS what I saw: The first night they sleep together—I looked—I know how soft and slow he is, I know. Can he be that slowsoft way, with a stranger? Can he be any other way?
I walked along the street, following K. Without the neon bar lights, the street was dark. It was hard to get the lighter to catch because of the strong wind. I stood close to K and opened my coat. Inside my coat, K, lowering her head, lit the cigarette carefully.
Where you’re going I don’t know, and whatever’s motivating you to get there is none of my business, but please tread carefully. Out there, it’s going to be tempting to throw away everything you know about yourself. You’ll find excuse after excuse to take on new personas. And then you won’t know what parts of you are real.
My camera had disappeared too. When and where had I dropped it? I scanned the path that I had run along so frantically. There was nothing there but the gathering darkness, silent, as if nothing had happened.
From his window seat on the plane he looks out over the ocean, which looks like a tangle of lines in this light. The light makes the water look alive. He can’t solve what time it is where he is, because he’s not sure where he is, precisely
A month after they married, Kevin found a job. “What a relief,” he said, and everyone agreed, though it was only a year-long contract.
Magda is six foot in work heels and billed herself as Jessica, as in Rabbit, way before zaftig redheads got popular, but her ex Shawn is small and freckled, and Magda once told me, drunk over steaks at Moxie's, that the skin of his spine smells like a milk-bathed baby's.
On the street a man reached out and touched my father's shoulder. “Sir! Hey Sir! Sir!” he said to my father. When my father turned to face him the man took a screwdriver from his pocket and thrust it into my father's face, above his right eyebrow.
I am cleaning out my father’s office. A room frozen in time since his accident. His cell phone still on the charger, papers still in the fax machine where he left them.
Four girls were crowded around Linda with a phone receiver pressed to her ear. Their faces were excited and free in ways she had only ever experienced secondhand, and in ways that made her feel a little ill.
He couldn’t help thinking that the fish, cruelly separated from the water and thrashing its tail angrily, wriggling helplessly, was almost as big as he was. He felt there had to be something else, a reason to throw the fish back into the lake, and as far away from him as possible, before the creature had no option but to use a secret weapon – its dorsal spikes perhaps, the ones his father said it didn’t have – and to fill him with a dreadful pain in order to get away.
“Summer rush,” Rodney said, “Summer loving!” Louise and I were going into the fire bath five, six times a day. Except then in the mornings, we weren’t allowed to say a word about it because according to Rodney our cackling disturbed the guests.
The day before I found out we had ordered Chinese, which we ate out of plastic cartons, with plastic forks and knives, so that cleaning up was easy and that when we were finished enjoying our food we could just throw everything away.
He once raped me in a heap of leaves in the woods. It was at a party. I don’t remember much besides hearing the laughs of the rest, who were probably by the fire pit, talking about a band or maybe graduation. I remember he was strong. He smelled like dust. Before he brought me there, he told me he could love me.
Al gives me zero. All day long he sits glued to his armchair, drinking glass after glass of V-8 juice and making a mess with his crackers. The crumbs end up everywhere—the upholstery, the carpet, all over the little table he drags in front of the TV.
“I think we need it. All of us,” she says, serious for a second because that’s what divorce does, but she doesn’t let it linger, “we’ll go back to France, the Dordogne. Or the Riviera. Do you remember France? Dan was twelve I’m sure. That would have made you eight. Or nine.”
Or perhaps the light is out, the oil having burned down to the rough clay. Or perhaps he finds his own way to the door, the old woman calling behind him, cursing, as she always does.
Clap taps my shoulder; rubs my hair and calls me baby; holds her breath under the covers before coming up for air, gasping, reaching for my face in the darkness: a game we play, like looking at each other through a mirror until our eyes start to water.
That is that. No questions about me or Andy. In their worlds, he does not exist. I know they mean nothing by this. You can’t blame people for adapting to their environments. What good would considering my circumstances do for them? No, they do not need to do that now.
The first time I smoked speed, I felt my lungs expand so wide that they took in an entire tropical sea filled with miniature sea creatures that swam up and down my chest and tickled deep into my balls.
“Bears!” says M. Palanquin, “Blossoms! When you have returned to your places we will begin the dance once more and this time with the proper accompaniment!”
“Looker,” Peggy said as I hustled Gilligan’s order to Jailbait, our 16-year-old grill chef and the boy Peggy slept with off and on. Peggy had a thirteen-year-old son and a husband who’d turned funny after his return from Gulf War Number 1.
I still haven’t finished my screenplay, and I have to admit I don’t know how. Why is my life important enough to write a script about? Why is anyone’s?
After a time, the figure settled back down into his former place, became one of the bodies on the floor, unable on the one hand to discern a path in the jigsaw, unable on the other to force what will he did possess upon them. Then again, perhaps he had been afraid his warm gap on the floor would close.
"Water? Coffee? Tea?" the receptionist asked. I asked for water. She returned with a small bottle and a rocks glass on a wooden tray. She set the tray on the coffee table in front of the couch, poured the water from the bottle into the glass, set the glass down on a coaster then left with the tray and the empty bottle.
Their Christmas cards always came with a photo of them smiling, their arms wrapped around each other’s waists. One year they were rock climbing in Fiji, another they were skiing in Switzerland.
After I moved to Oregon, away from California for the first time, Granny came up for a visit. This was a few years ago and I was still living under the swell of hope a move can bring.
What the boys did not hear from the girls, and what the girls did not hear from the boys, was the shattering, shattering, shattering. Only the Revere girl could hear it. Only the Wellesley boy could make her lips unkissable, but not sealed. And she said, you can’t leave here the way you are. And he said, I thought, I thought you knew. Didn’t you?What the boys did not hear from the girls, and what the girls did not hear from the boys, was the shattering, shattering, shattering. Only the Revere girl could hear it. Only the Wellesley boy could make her lips unkissable, but not sealed. And she said, you can’t leave here the way you are. And he said, I thought, I thought you knew. Didn’t you?
The bark of the apple tree is black; alone in the garden, black. It cuts into the winter like calligraphy. The winter paints white dogs yellow and makes the night luminous and in a way unreal, anesthetized sleep blowing through the streets, a flood of quiet, quiet.
Outside Sky Bar, we smoke a cigarette, take a few snaps, try to hype each other up. Everyone on St Catherine is just in their civilian drag. We definitely stand out. Nobody shaved their facial hair so pieces of wig keep getting caught in our beards.
She peels down the steps past the same planets she saw on her way up. The land beneath her gradually comes into focus; a group of seagulls picking at something in the sand, the grid of sidewalks. She thinks that when she gets home she will bake her mother a pink cake with five layers.
His moods dictated his weight. We carried on at restaurants that note just how cold their noodles come.
Four days in Goa nearly killed me. It started the morning my bus arrived in Mapusa and I didn't see my uncle Quinton waiting for me. A swarm of rickshaw drivers had crowded the bus doors when I got off.
Dad smiles, shows us the wrong side of his face in this wide grin we haven’t experienced yet. I pat his back and feel guilty for not doing the same for Mom.
As the old white lady stood there, with her slightly slouched, guilty­-looking body language, I realized that there was something familiar about her, but I couldn’t place it. It was like she was one of my close friends’ grandmothers whom I’d met before briefly, but I knew that wasn’t correct. Then again, she looked like every white person’s grandma.
As the train rattled through the darkness, she reached into her pocket and felt the ticket stubs. She ran her thumb along their ragged edges. She was tired and weak, dizzy with the day’s efforts, but it had been worth it: now her boy would have a good life, with a good mother who could afford to shop at fancy stores and take him to the zoo every day.
This is the way he walks: north on Grace to College, east on College to Manning, south on Manning to Dundas, then west on Dundas back to Grace. It’s just a square. This is the way he walks every day, but it’s not just one time, he does it over and over again.
At the top of her journey, Johanna cracked a lager. She was thirteen and thinking of the beautiful sea. The smothering western sea. The concrete stoop leading down to it from her old house, in the coastal town where she used to live.
It wasn’t assault, exactly. Or maybe it was. Either way it happened quickly. It stopped. Tree-scales scraped barkily against the cotton of her tee-shirt. The boy was walking away. Willa’s earbuds had fallen out of her ears, dangling over her collarbone.
Everything was dark for a really long time. Her mind tried to push through in the morning, but couldn’t even then. She finally woke up surrounded by red vomit, and considered herself lucky she’d fallen asleep sitting up on the couch. She said “lucky” one or two times before it became meaningless. She was chasing God.
The mayfly perched on my shoulder. “Angry is better than sad. But unsheathing a sword at an insect is useless. I only live one day, but I hear many stories, some of them human, some of them not human. Tell me your troubles. Even a sheet of paper feels lighter with another hand to carry it.”
I went home with blood in my underwear. When Petra asked what happened later that week, holding my panties like a science project over the washing machine, I told her I started my period. YAY, she squealed, pronouncing me woman. I took the tampons she bought me and dipped them in cups of water, awed at how far the cotton could expand.
Cheese pushes the button under the counter with his middle finger. He can see both faces in his Plexiglas reflection smiling back at him. The kid doesn’t see it. He’s somewhere else.
Ines then backed further and further away towards the car. The sun was beginning to set and the air was cooling. The volcano was making its small eruptions just a few miles away. She looked at her little brother, locked away.
I held my talking point, digesting his words after. ‘You knew.’ I might have meant Shannon, but I think now I was talking about more: ten years of Loder-fucking-Shannons that had, and have, only something to do with girls.
Lone white face in a sea of black, Furo learned fast. To walk with his shoulders up and his steps steady. To keep his gaze lowered and his face blank. To ignore the fixed stares, the pointed whispers, the blatant curiosity. And he learnt how it felt to be seen as a freak: exposed to wonder, invisible to comprehension.
The big refrigerator units in the basement hummed back to life as the next batch of cows was herded in except first they washed away the blood so as not to spook them. When I cried I was made fun of so I stopped crying for three whole months.
HERE IS what I saw: The first night they sleep together—I looked—I know how soft and slow he is, I know. Can he be that slowsoft way, with a stranger? Can he be any other way?