Time to act

March 22, 2017

The bridge soared high above the parkway, and she wondered why people never chose to jump from it, to leap toward the unforgiving landscape below. People ran, walked, stared straight ahead, but did not stop to consider what could be, how things could end so suddenly.

Above her, a military helicopter shredded the sky. The sunlight was growing soft and golden, but she could not let that distract her from the challenges at hand. It was time to hurtle toward whatever rushed at her. It was time, finally, to act.


Late night disconnect

March 21, 2017

Does she want another round? asked the bartender to the couple in their 60s, gesturing at the seat the wife had abandoned. Do you?

Sure, said the husband. And she probably does, too. She just went out to smoke.

The wife returned before her round appeared, and the two watched the TV play footage from so many years ago. They drank their drinks. They exchanged no words for a long time as the towers burned.

Tell me again why we should let them into the country? growled the wife.

They shook their heads. They left the bar.


City of memory

March 20, 2017

I have been imagining the walks I’ll take when I return to my hometown. I imagine wandering down Connecticut Avenue, around Roosevelt Island. I have been visualizing the approach to National. I have checked to make sure a few favorite restaurants are still open.

Nothing has changed, a friend says. People still have to get up and go to work.

But I know I’m conjuring a memory, flimsy and slippery.

It’s Trump Country now, my husband says, and I sigh, knowing that the city I’ll recognize on the surface has been marred by darkly-cast stones.


No relevant skills

March 19, 2017

Do you know why he hired him? she asked. The new employee in question had no relevant skills, and did not, it seem, even have the right skills to figure out how to do the job.

He’s a friend, her colleague said. They have trusted each other for a long time.

She thought about that awhile, about all the things that would go undone, and, even more troubling, about all the things that would be done wrong.

What does that mean for us? she asked, finally.

It means, no matter what, we’re screwed.


Incoming missiles

March 18, 2017

They sat at the edge of the continent, looking out into black water.

Would we see it coming? she asked. Would we have any warning?

What would warning do? he replied. If death is inevitable, does it help to know when it will arrive?

But she could think of things, many things, that she might do with an extra five or ten minutes. She laced her fingers in his, still scanning the horizon for incoming missiles. She had never felt so threatened. She had never felt so safe.


A compassionate delivery

March 17, 2017

My grandmother’s family escaped the Great Famine for the hard land at the edge of the St. Lawrence. Not long before she died, I visited her, and she sent me off to get my own dinner. She wanted to be there to receive the man from town who delivered her Meals on Wheels three days a week. They shared stories of the Ice Storm, of families, of their days. He nourished her with company, then left her to eat, to tuck away leftovers for the next day. She may not always have been full, but she was never hungry.



March 16, 2017

In the early light, he heard the door burst open and he rolled, hoping for a way out, hoping for a mistake.

The men came at him with clubs and bats, and he didn’t have time to think much about his daughter, his wife. He mostly thought about how to protect his head, but then, sometime in the darkness that descended after three or four blows, he didn’t even bother with that.

Do you hear the feet rushing along the hallway? Do you hear them pounding bats into their palms? Listen closely. These tactics are not new.