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Mortar

October 6, 2018

For months, the steps to our front door have been crumbling, the mortar sending plumes of dust into the dark crawlspace underneath. I came home from traveling to find a deepened dip, as if landing had become supplicant: Fix me. When I carry heavy bags, I step quickly, afraid of collapse.

I spent years constructing watertight staircases over my own dark spaces. But today, I am afraid to open the front door of my heart and step onto the landing. My mortar is pulverized, and my mouth is full of screams ready to unleash.

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Dinner at the end of a long day

March 31, 2018

At my son’s request, I make him peanut butter and jelly, emulsified guilt on each slice of multigrain bread, bound with a sticky layer of sweet, strawberry relief.

Alongside the sandwich, I offer grapes, diced pear, slices of cucumber. He eats, or he does not. He gulps his milk greedily, demands more.

This solution seems too easy. I flog myself with nine tales of other dinners I might have cooked for him: couscous with garbanzos, lentil salad…I had so many ideas. I pour a glass of wine for myself. This day, it is enough.

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Body text

April 30, 2017

One day, she awoke to find the ghosts of letters printed across every part of her skin. It was as if she’d gone to bed wrapped in newsprint, stories overlapping stories, headlines and body text.

I’ve been reading too much, she said over breakfast. I think I need a break from the news.

It’ll be here when you get back, he said, peering over the folded-down corner of the local paper.

Outside, she rubbed lemon juice into her flesh, and reclined in a deck chair, waiting for the sun to bleach away the words that haunted her.

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After the end

April 29, 2017

So many hundreds of days from now, she found herself floating on a raft she made by strapping together things taken from her house before the water consumed it. Somewhere below her lay Florida. Above her, the sky had turned to haze.

She always thought she would give up at the end, let go when the government and her community and family were gone.

But she still had some drinking water and a compass, and she knew, somewhere north, America still rose above the waves. She clasped one fist overtop her paddle, and began to row.

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Doe-eyed daughter

April 28, 2017

Doe-eyed daughter, you speak of women and children, of things they need to be secure. You sparkle in your ballgown. You share photos of your artfully arranged body on a carpet behind your son, hands folded next to a true world leader, your saddest face cheated out ever so slightly as you put your hand on the most solemn of memorials.

Do you think we don’t see your father’s ear bend toward your mouth? Do you think we miss what he says next? You may be beautiful, but you are still as transparent as your crystalline life.

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Revolutionary thoughts

April 27, 2017

She walked along the top of the high wall, her arms out to balance her.

This isn’t easy, she said, and he nodded, following her path from road’s lower vantage point. But the view is much better.

They had left for their walk without phones, without anything to track their location. No one knew where they were.

I had forgotten what it felt like to know only one person was listening, she said.

He nodded, already worried she’d discover he was passing information through shadowy channels, telling them all her revolutionary thoughts.

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Consequences

April 26, 2017

We stood around the kitchen table listening to stories from that day’s march. Those of us who had not been there shared, guiltily, our reasons why—obligations and specific applications and children who might struggle in the crush of signs and long legs.

Assuming there’s a country left in which to march, we’ll be able to do it another year, one of us said.

That assumes there’s a world left in which to march, another replied.

There will always be a country left in which to march, said another. It’s just a question of what the consequences become.