Mar 14

I Had a Dog.

Sleeping in a pet cemetery, I hate small spaces
My friend with all the life, during her declining years.
In the new world, no dog anymore licked up my tears

Her geriatric form, with sensible slowness,
always gentle, she dragged herself up the final rungs,
Labrador ears, proud otter tail, four feet moving.
Too sturdy and solid to understand death, nosed open the unused latch.

Fistfuls of her fur, soft as I remembered
rank breath on my face
massive, wide-set shoulders, tail beat against my headboard

Dear diary, come back for me,
if you leave we'll see you soon
My arms pass right through, cut across the panel of moonlight.
Jan 01

Twenty Percent Off for the New Year


"I've sent people walking out of here carrying twenty books that I've handed to them," says the woman. She's old, but surprisingly sturdy looking, tall and lean, with short, silvery white hair. Her job at the book store keeps her spry. "There's nothing left."

"Nothing you'd recommend I get for her?" says the man. He's younger, fatter, wearing a gray and green jacket although it's warm inside. It bunches around his neck. "Look, just tell me your favorite novel."

"It's gone. Sold out." She doesn't tell him the title and he doesn't guess. "You know that new Michelle Obama book?"

"Yeah?"

"Well, that won't cut it," she says. "Too many people reading it. And there's all those blank pages in the middle." She turns around like she's giving up. "Wait, how about - Oh! Gone. Nevermind." Whatever book she saw in her mind is sold out as well. She's given away the very last copy. "Does she read bios? Memoirs?"
Dec 22

The Lizard

"She's beautiful, if you think about it," said Anna, "But in a different sort of way."
I wasn't convinced. "She's a lizard." My friend Anna was showing me her new pet: a long, low, bearded dragon that crouched motionless, glistening under an orange-tinted heat lamp. "How do you even know she's a she?"
"Does it matter?"
Anna reached into the tank with both hands and lifted the lizard out in front of her. She cradled it in her arms like a baby, and it blinked lazily and flicked its grayish tongue at her. "Do you want to hold her?"
"No, thank you."
"Are you scared?"
I was, but not of the lizard. I was scared that I would hold it too loosely, and drop it, or too tightly, and crush it. Either way I would have killed Anna's pet. I would have felt the same way about a hamster. Or a baby.
"She's not slimy, you know."
Dec 22

Swing Summer

We go, that afternoon, to the tallest swings in town. We have to, because we are the tallest kids. Not as tall as our parents, yet, but our legs are long enough that when we go to the smaller swingset, we scrape them on the ground. I meet my best friend on the corner in front of my house and we walk the rest of the way together. The sidewalk is hot with the summer sun, so hot that I say I can feel it through the soles of my shoes. She says that's silly. She's called Alice. She's not older than me, but she wants to be.

We meet Sam and Isaac at the corner of the playground. They got there earlier but waited for us, leaning against the fence and talking about Isaac's new bicycle. Sam has dark, curly hair that he keeps up in a hat. He has a little brother but didn't bring him today. "Where's Teddy?" I ask him.
"Home. He's having a birthday party?"
"How old is he turning?" asks Alice.
"Ten."
Isaac snorts. "Imagine being so excited about turning ten."
May 13

The Baseball Coach

Uncoachable kids become unemployable adults. You’ve gotta get your kids used to someone being tough on them. That’s just the way it is. That’s life. Kids aren’t really kids nowadays. They cry too much. They don’t hit the ball the way they used to. None of them want to be the hero of the game. Marcus is crying in the locker room; he’s trying to be quiet about it, but I can hear him sobbing. He has to shed a few tears over that dropped ball, so next time he won’t miss it. It sounds harsh, but kids have got to learn to be ball players or they won’t learn to be anything. Our team’s still in it for the trophy, but we won’t win it unless these kids get it together. Rubbish, rubbish, dropping the ball, slippery fingers.
May 07

Ghost Ship (working title)

I swear on my rank of Admiral that all of the information in this file is true, or at least that I believe it to be true, and am greatly confident in doing so in light of this evidence gleaned from documents kept on the Lusitania prior to and during the events that unfolded. After you read it, I think you will believe in it too.

    -Admiral Henry S Cavelle, March 5, in the year of our Lord 1861
Excerpt from the Ship’s log of the vessel HMS Julianna,  November 12, 1859:
Mar 27

How to Fly

Vera flew. She’d always wished for it, to soar above the ground. She loved the feeling of weightlessness. She wasn’t sure how she was doing it, but she flew. Until, all of a sudden, the sky melted off and she was back in her bed, tucked under rumpled covers, awake again. A dream. It was always a dream, and the dreams always ended before she could really set about doing what she’d wanted to do. If she’d known how short a time she’d be able to fly for she wouldn’t have wasted time doing so many loop-the-loops. She felt cheated, she felt angry, she felt the hairs stand up on the back of her neck. It didn’t count, if she’d just dreamed it. She couldn’t really fly. She wasn’t special, she wasn’t much of anything. She was plain-looking, shy, and had a poor memory. She didn’t have any remarkable skills; she could play the piano but not very well.
Mar 27

How to Fly

Vera flew. She’d always wished for it, to soar above the ground. She loved the feeling of weightlessness. She wasn’t sure how she was doing it, but she flew. Until, all of a sudden, the sky melted off and she was back in her bed, tucked under rumpled covers, awake again. A dream. It was always a dream, and the dreams always ended before she could really set about doing what she’d wanted to do. If she’d known how short a time she’d be able to fly for she wouldn’t have wasted time doing so many loop-the-loops. She felt cheated, she felt angry, she felt the hairs stand up on the back of her neck. It didn’t count, if she’d just dreamed it. She couldn’t really fly. She wasn’t special, she wasn’t much of anything. She was plain-looking, shy, and had a poor memory. She didn’t have any remarkable skills; she could play the piano but not very well.
Feb 15

Nothing to Say

The morning was crisp and cold. Fall had just begun. Laura was bundled tightly in her sweater. Her ears were numb and cold, but the rest of her was cozy. She carried a suitcase, pressed tightly against her chest. She could hear her own heartbeat echoing through the metal clasps. The bus stop was still a couple of blocks away, but the blue line shuttle was leaving in only a couple of minutes, so she decided to cut through an alleyway to get where she was going a bit faster. At the end of the alley, silhouetted against the clear blue sky, she saw a shape she thought she recognized. A tall, slim, man, he was underdressed for the weather in a light synthetic jacket but stood straight, not appearing cold. His hair was buzzed short, cropped even closer to his scalp than Laura’s was. He was facing away from her, but even from the back she noticed a familiar bobbling to his stride.
Feb 06

The Changeling

Something absolutely horrible has happened. I can feel it in my heart. I can feel it in my bones. I never should have left the baby alone, even for an instant. Now, even though his bassinet is occupied, I can tell that the thing inside is not my son. Even as much the same as they look, I know what has changed. I am his mother, I cannot be fooled into believing that that tiny monster is the same as the beautiful boy who was my own flesh and blood. I cannot bear to make eye contact with the thing in the swaddling blanket. I should toss it in the fire. It glows with an iridescent sort of evil. I shouldn’t have let my child out of my sight during his first week. Didn’t I know how vulnerable they are then, how close to the other world? My real son has been stolen from me and replaced by a changeling, inhuman, right under my nose, and there is nobody I can tell about it because they all have forgotten the old ways.

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