Over the falls

November 20, 2015

I asked him why he wanted to go over the falls, and he told me how he swam in the river as a child, about the tug of the current, about how inevitable his life already felt. He had built a barrel in his garage. He had padded it with special foam. He had practiced holding his breath. He was not afraid of the dark.

Everyone floats downstream, he said. But not everyone gets to know exactly when it’s all going to change.


Rest room

October 20, 2015

In the bathroom of the funeral home, she washed her hands, then reached for a paper towel. As she pulled it from the interlocking stack, it carried its brethren with it, their thin bodies drifting to the floor like souls.

She had known better than to apply mascara to her bottom lashes, but nonetheless, a ghost of her make-up hid in the crease below her eye. She wiped it away with one finger, then let her palm cup the side of her face for two heartbeats, assuring herself of the warmth beneath her skin.


Hurricane-force words

October 4, 2015

Emotions eddied about her like leaves blown in a gutter, and her eyes were the color of a brewing storm, but he had always loved winter rains. Is there anything I can do? he asked, and he meant it; he would have done anything to make her understand how deeply he felt. He wanted to wrap her in hurricane-force words, hold her fast at the center where the winds were quiet enough for her to hear him say, I love you.



August 4, 2015

I have stopped wearing jewelry—it is the only way to keep it out of the small, swift hands of my 11-month-old—but I made an exception the day we took him to see where everything began.

In the restaurant at the edge of the desert, he grabbed the pendant’s cord, gave it a twist, looked up at me with pool-blue eyes.

Be gentle, I said, prying his fingers away. I was wearing that when I met your father.


Lawn chair

July 28, 2015

He put the lawn chair outside, in front of the window with the peeling paint. It fit better in the grass than it did inside on the green shag carpet, and then he didn’t feel so alone. He was joined by the people walking by, the birds in the neighbor’s tree, the thoughts he couldn’t let himself think inside, where they might get trapped against the tobacco-stained ceiling, like balloons after the party. He sat there in the lawn chair, drinking beer and feeling correct, trying not to think about what would happen when the weather turned cold.


Between the lines

July 12, 2015

They told her she could color between the lines, that it would make her less anxious.

But that is what drives me to make change, she said, and she took a thick black marker and drew her own line, one that crossed through sets of intricately meshed shapes from one side of the page to the other.

The observers had no protocol for world-alterers. If she will not comply, we cannot fix her, said the doctor in charge. They turned away from the drawing girl and her worried eyes.



July 8, 2015

Step right up, said the hawker, his front teeth crooked and black. She curved her hands around both eyes and took the Midway in small, round portions. Only then could she handle the lights shooting down the ferris wheel’s spokes, the glowing faces on the haunted house, the cavalier swing of the pirate ship.

The only thing you should be doing with those hands is holding on to your tickets, the hawker said, and she refused to acknowledge him. She could smell the cotton candy, and it filled her with sweet, sickening dread.


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