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Erosion

February 18, 2017

The rain is washing California bare, drawing out the mud that holds up spillways and trees. Why it’s raining? my son asks, and then he answers, Because the clouds are full of water.

So many of my people are inundated, the wash of bad news eroding their strength. We are sodden with worry, making calls with damp fingers, sending postcards into an impenetrably murky swamp.

Will we see the sun again? Will the clouds empty? I have my own questions. I don’t have answers. I am too busy filling sandbags as the rain erodes what’s left of my hope.

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Docile

February 17, 2017

For years, I have seen a man and his schnauzer walking in my neighborhood. Each time I pass them, the schnauzer has been alert, quick-footed, briskly trotting along the curve of the lake.

Yesterday, though, I saw the man sitting at a café, the schnauzer standing, docilely, under the table, staring at nothing, and I wondered, How long does it take to become so tame?

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God bless America

February 16, 2017

We hold these truths to be self-evident, but these facts, these alternative facts, they are nothing but fake news. Do you see this true thing? No, you don’t, because it’s false, and if you think this is confusing, just wait, because the best people, the very best people, are working on something unquestionably counterfeit for you, something so authentically specious you will have nothing to do but stand back and admire just how tremendous it is. You will drop your hateful tone. You will acknowledge the ways in which the deception is bonafide. Stop asking questions. Stop asking. Stop.

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The future dentist

February 15, 2017

Because smiles fascinated him, he always wanted to become a dentist. He traveled to America, ready to learn, ready to greet others with twinkling eyes, the corners of his mouth upturned, and we welcomed him, taught him the inner workings of the jaw.

No, no one smiles. The country he once called home is a drooling mouth decayed by war. The country he calls home today is close behind.

He still has more to learn about teeth, but right now, he just tries to discern what’s next in a country that seems to want to spit him out.

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The palace of disillusionment

February 14, 2017

Somewhere, high above the glittering city, she checked her phone, hoping for a message that said he loved her.

All day, she’d hoped for a bunch of flowers, or maybe a jewelry delivery—nothing she needed, but things she wanted, like any woman might.

As a girl, she had dreamed of a man taking care of her. She had imagined how handsome he would be, how rich, how powerful. Now, she lived in the palace of disillusionment, unsure if he knew what the calendar said, or, even, who she really was.

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Meditation

February 13, 2017

She settled into meditation, into the small room deep in her head none of them could touch. There, the noise of rage quieted, the work retreated, and her friends and family, with their deep love and constant need, fell away. But it took her longer than usual to get there.

The time to enter had stretched longer day by day. Even when she could find the door, some days it was as if it took her long minutes to find the key. She feared the day might be approaching when she could no longer unlock that room and escape.

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Exit strategy

February 12, 2017

She scrambled eggs in a kitchen lit only by the hissing blue burner flame. It was nearly time to wake the children, to hustle them into outfits and fill their bellies before rushing them out to the car.

She ate as the food was ready. By nightfall, they would be hundreds of miles away, and she needed strength for the journey.

Her husband slept, unaware of the packed suitcases in the trunk of her car. If she hurried, they’d be gone before he awoke, before he could say yet another thing about what he had the right to grab.