The captain

July 6, 2015

She found herself once again standing in waist-high mucky water, pushing around a red plastic tugboat. The clouds washed by above her, as if the whole world were made of fluid, and her choice not to grow up made as much sense as anything else.

You can’t stay in there forever, her sister called from the banks of the pond. Her sister, who had chosen to go to college, to get married, to have children, to constantly furrow her brow. You’re not a mermaid.

But I am the captain of this ship, she muttered.


The voyage

July 4, 2015

When he was young, he asked his mother to replace the chairs in his room with suitcases. I can stack them up and sit on them, he said. If they’re packed at all times, I’m always ready to travel.

She obliged, taking him to thrift stores in search of cheap suitcases. His room began to look like a left luggage office.

What if you can’t take them all? she asked one day. There are so many here.

But I am already on the voyage, he replied. I haven’t had to leave anything behind yet.


More shape than self

May 10, 2015

On a rainy day before I saw you for the first time, the fog on Mt. Tam turned trees to silhouettes, sucked details into its gaping, white mouth. I stopped to look across the mountainside at one lone tree that has seen many storms. Still, it grows.

I thought of that tree as I watched your pixelated silhouette for the first time. You were curled, more shape than self, growing.

There’s the heartbeat, said the doctor, and I laughed, delighted by the only detail I needed.


Slow motion

May 2, 2015

He spent their vacation taking videos of the mountains. He watched his footage in their hotel room in the evenings, while she drank glasses of wine and read her book on the balcony.

She grew impatient by the third day, angry that he was filling up their camera cards with high definition files.

Why not just take a photo? she said. It’s not like they’re moving.

Oh, but they are, he said. It’s just that they move slowly. If you wait long enough, you will see what I mean.


This story first appeared on 100 Proof Stories+, a new publication I’m curating on Medium. If you want to tell stories in the 100 Proof style and have photos to go along with them, I’m accepting submissions for this new venture.



April 30, 2015

In a landlocked town in a landlocked state, he built a ship in the backyard. He hoisted the sails on windy days, and it strained the hawsers that held it to anchors sunken into concrete. He polished the figurehead he found leaning against the wall of his father’s garage and installed her, her face to the sky, her breast to the fence between his yard and the neighbors’. His wife called him Captain after that, and some days, after she left for work, he called in sick and spread out his charts, planning his next voyage.


Mission Pentecostal

April 14, 2015

Inside the storefront Pentecostal church, the preacher exhorted his flock in Spanish, and two small girls beat tambourines, blue and pink streamers tied to the side of their instruments flailing in time. I locked eyes with one of them as I passed the doorway, both of us wondering where the other was headed. Outside, women fried plantains in bubbling oil, the scent blessing the sidewalk. I nodded at them, and they nodded back, and I wondered how they managed to hang on here, with their food and their prayers, as the city turned as if from water to wine.


Fear of flying

March 28, 2015

We cannot correct for the determined, for the mad, for the exhausted. We cannot correct for sudden downdrafts, runways turned slick with invisible ice, eyes blinded by an unexpected lightning flash. We cannot correct for the broken wire, the critical screw unspooled from its threads, pieces of bird thudding through the blades of the engine turbine.

We cannot correct for any of these, and so we buckle in, open a magazine, close the shade, and exhale. We hope. We fly. We land as safely as that moment allows.


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