All Stories

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3/17/2014

Notes from the Ballroom

First day of Ballroom Dancing Class. To kick off the class, our teacher gave us a speech on the importance of being graceful in a consumer culture. She called me up to the front of the room to help her demonstrate the first dance we’ll be learning, which is the Charleston. As I was going up the steps, I somehow tripped over the microphone cord, tangled a loop of it around my neck, and fell off the stage. It was an accident; I am not sure how it happened. Fortunately, I was not killed. I could have been killed if the stage was higher. I could very easily have been caught by the cord around my neck and choked to death. I felt that the class was less than concerned about my personal safety. ()

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3/10/2014

Ordinary Birds

The house was called Seven Gables, but it had no gables to speak of. It looked like a large, dingy cardboard box that someone had abandoned in the middle of a parking lot. It was flat and squat with two chipped, cement steps and two dull, unwashed windows like vapid eyes blinking over the top of the scrubby hedge. It did not have seven of anything in particular. Yet there was something brave about a house that called itself by such a lofty name. It might not have terraces or marble staircases, it was saying, but it could dream. ()

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3/03/2014

Teachers

Our high school health teacher was old and wizened, a tiny scrap of a woman, pale and brittle and hunched over, like a dried out fingernail clipping. She had a mop of short, curly white hair, but everything else about her was parched and desiccated. Even the hair, if you looked at it closely, was dry: the curls like tightly woven clusters of wire, arranged in narrow loops around her small, pinched head. ()

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12/31/2013

Tracings in Snow

When Matthew was sixteen years old, he ran away from home. He did not return until Christmas Eve fourteen years later. He showed up on the lawn late at night, while the family was gathered around the tree.

“Is that Matthew?” demanded his younger sister, peering out the window. They all pushed around her and squinted through the panes, which had little rings of frost around each individual square. Matthew was standing by the apple tree in the backyard, one arm raised to support his weight against the branch where the tree house used to stand. ()

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8/17/2013

Diluvium

It started with a cat. My daughter brought it home from school one day while I was still at work and when I get home, there’s this vile, flea-ridden cat in my living room.

“Excuse me,” I said. “What is this cat doing here?” I was still all grimy and sweaty from a long, hot day in the vineyards, so I couldn’t just march in and remove it myself. (I have a strict policy about no muddy boots in the living room, even when the person wearing the boots is me.) So I had to stand there, shouting for help. ()

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7/1/2013

The House Behind the Oaks

The house my mother wanted had plum trees in the backyard. When the breeze swept through, flurries of tiny white petals swirled down from the branches, settling on the green velvet lawn like a pattern on a carpet. The house my father wanted was entirely different. A succession of large, airy, box-like rooms marched proudly down a hillside, completely empty of furniture or possessions. I think my father liked the rooms better because he imagined them staying that way. ()

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4/1/2013

Feathers

Here is a picture of Ellen and me having a conversation: We are sitting in a room that glows. Ellen does that to rooms. She draws all the light into her body and sends it radiating back out again through her skin and eyes, and through her voice, which is jewel bright, as rich and opulent as her conversation, which is what I like about Ellen. The door opens. ()

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3/25/2013

Waterproof and Green

I’d been kicked out of school a second time, and my parents refused to take me in. They said I was on my own now; they washed their hands of me. I packed up what possessions from my dorm room fit into my Penn State duffel bag, bused home from the depot for the last time, and was standing on the front step of our house when they informed me of their decision: I wasn’t allowed inside. I was banned, and furthermore -they said- this was not a hasty decision, made in the heat of anger. This was final. I was disowned for good.()

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3/4/2013

M.J.: A Love Story

M.J. Martin was in love with his bus driver. He had loved her for years. M.J.’s bus driver was a beautiful woman: tall, broad and muscular. She had been slightly less broad, and more muscular, at the age of thirty-two, when M.J first met her, but had otherwise changed very little. M.J. thought she held her own marvelously well. She had shiny dark skin like satin, lustrous eyes, and a voice like a stentorian fireworks vendor, shouting into a bullhorn on the Fourth of July.()

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2/25/2013

Monologue of a Co-Worker Recorded while Polishing Silverware at the Stanford Faculty Club

Hey what’s up, you mind if I sit here? I figure you’re polishing silverware, I’m polishing silverware; we might as well polish together. Also, I’m avoiding management. Management has this rule, we’re not allowed to wear jewelry on the clock. But you see this diamond stud in my ear? I never take it out. It’s there to remind me of who I am. I’m not just a common waiter; I’m only eighteen. I got career potential. Management is a little upset. If I sit here, they might not notice my earring. You mind? Thanks!()

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1/20/2013

Eden, Revisited

(Being a Blasphemous Account of the Garden of Good and Evil, by Adam.)

First of all, as I explained to God after the event, a lot of blame has been cast around over this whole “garden” situation, and some of that blame has fallen on the Wrong People. A gentleman doesn’t like to say mean things about his wife, so I won’t say that Eve was a narrow-minded con artist with a penchant for hanging out with the lower (reptilia) classes of species. But I think a lot of people who read the story after the fact, and observed some of the finer details, may have noticed that I neither created Woman, nor was I consulted about the design. (…)

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2/18/2013

The Haunted Fairy Castle

I spent the morning reading the classifieds. There are no jobs. None. I had a red pen with the cap off, all ready to circle jobs in my area, but after an hour of reading, there were no red marks on the entire paper. I am desperate. In this whole world, how is it possible that no one needs a recent college graduate with a PR degree? (…)

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