Time sped by after I broke up with Tommy, zipping before my eyes in little more than a blur. Before I knew it, February had turned into summer, and Jackie had turned 18 and graduated from high school. I found it hard to believe that I would be 21 in a few short months, that Jackie would be going to college, and that truly nothing would ever go back to how it used to be. Mostly, I could barely fathom that it seemed as though we were finally starting to seem normal again. (more…)
Daniel is sitting on the couch in his sister’s apartment, phone blaring dial tone in one hand and the other twisting and untwisting the cap of a skinny bottle of Polish vodka, the only bit of alcohol his sister kept in the condominium because Daniel told her to.
“Sarah, I’m not some addict. I’ll be out of your hair by next Tuesday.” (more…)
[Originally printed on the back page “Local Voices” op-ed column of the Lake Lavender Coupon Clipper Monthly, May 1986. Reprinted with kind permission of the author of the piece, Peggy Saunderson.]
It seems that every time you open up the newspaper or turn on the news, teenagers are getting into some kind of trouble. Well, instead of focusing on the negative like everybody else, I’d like to tell you about three local teenagers who are making a positive difference. While others (myself included!) complain about Libyan dictator Muammar Qaddafi, these three decided to do something about it. (more…)
When she thought about it (and she thought about it often), Daisy was amazed that Martin was interested in her. Sure, she was a great cook; she grew her own vegetables on the farm, and insisted on the best cuts of meat at the local butcher shop, shunned store bought pie-crusts and preserved her own fruit. She had made quite a success of the small village eatery where the local farmers had lunch with their families on Sundays after church and occasionally celebrated this or that and where teenagers took their first serious dates on Saturday nights, hoping for some necking and maybe more later; but when it came down to it, one had to admit, Daisy was rather homely looking. (more…)
The tree house burnt down in 1983. From the day it was built by Henry Cornwell’s dad back when we were seven to the day it went up in flames almost five years later, Henry and I spent many afternoons there.
After school, sometimes we’d trade moon pies for trail mix – Henry loved trail mix – and then we’d draw on the wooden boards inside with chalk. Tic-tac-toe, hangman, or just some silly sketches – mine were all stick men or stick women or stick dogs – but that Henry did have talent. His drawings looked like drawings. (more…)
Dinner, on an evening during Initsa Jubilee’s fourth year, began no differently from any other, except that Father Jubilee glared at his daughter over the thick, black frame of his glasses a chew or two longer than usual, and, when she blew bubbles through a straw in her glass of milk, he cleared his throat with a rumble so great that the delicate wine goblets in the next-door neighbor’s china closet rattled and shook, when normally, he would have simply reached across the yellow table, gripped the glass in his mammoth hand, and flung it against the wall. (more…)
The night of our third date, Michelle and I drove to an all-night pharmacy to go Dutch on a morning-after pill. Her old K-car hadn’t warmed up yet. She wore her winter coat over her scrubs, the ones with the teddy bear print, and we sat silently for a few minutes in the drive-through lane while her St. Christopher figurine rattled itself loose from the dash. (more…)
Chelsea Laine Wells
You will think of it again and again irresistibly, too often, the arc of Cain’s fall, his arms flung wide and his sick body like a bird skeleton picked clean of feathers and meat and flattened in the sun, his head swept back like a doll’s head loosely moored, the balls of his arched feet rolling against the edge of the third story eave until he was horizontal and cutting down through still summer air past his bedroom, past the window seat where you squirmed against him, (more…)
It wasn’t that Sebastian was ashamed of his wife, Grace, who was seven months pregnant with twins. It was just that before the pregnancy, her body used to fit into tight jeans, and even tighter sweaters, curves his tongue and his fingers traced like riding a roller coaster, up and down, and loops even. Now, it felt more like running a tongue over the Grand Canyon. Sebastian wasn’t ashamed of Grace. He just no longer wanted to have sex with her. (more…)
You are curiously aware of your stomach, the way when you were in college, a hit of acid made you curiously aware of your skin. At a gallery party, you fought shyness with too-much Chablis on an empty stomach, and a few days later, your stomach foams. (more…)
The walk from the bus stop to Natalie and Dennis’ house was longer than Gerard had thought. The October wind sliced at his bare hands as they wrapped around a brown paper bag.
He wished he’d brought gloves. He wished he’d brought his backpack. He wished he knew what the hell he thought he was doing. (more…)
I’m an average guy. I live in the suburbs. I’m lucky enough to have a well-paying job as a computer programmer. I have a loving wife. I have two kids that I love very much, but sometimes they drive me up the wall. I’m a normal guy by all accounts. Oh, but there is one unusual thing about me. I can remember what it was like in the womb. (more…)
She walked in from the bathroom wearing only a t-shirt—her legs, smooth, shiny, and the color of raw cinnamon, rising from the floor to the hem of the shirt that hid the promise of their juncture. (more…)
Oh, Lord heap mysteries upon upon upon us, but entwine entwine our work with laughter laughter low and all is well now, hush now, close your eyes and sing hush-a-bye loo lo loo lo lam, sing hush a bye loo lo loo, and our work with laughter loo lo loo. (more…)
Daniel sits at the lunch table, the red and black varsity jacket clinging to his 12-gauge chest. The de Leon county manufactured burrito is closer to his mouth, his teeth, than I am.
Sarah, are you thinking about fucking that boy? The voice rumbles behind my ears. I grit my teeth, gently. Haven’t you had enough, Sarah? Don’t you understand I’m never going away? You are my meat puppet, little girl. The sooner you understand that, the better off you’ll be. I open my palms and slam them against the tabletop three times. The lunchroom chatter trickles, falls to my feet. Daniel stares, mid bite. (more…)
We drove out to a tree farm and sawed down our own tree and fought bitterly throughout the entire process. After much debate I ended up acquiescing to Victoria’s nominee, which was the biggest, tallest tree in sight. We had high ceilings, she reasoned, so we might as well use them. It was dark, the place was closing, and as I knelt on the frozen ground, sawing our tree, a gaunt old woman in an oversized flannel jacket walked up and stared at me working for a while, taking puffs from a handrolled cigarette. The sawing was much harder than I imagined it would be, and I was sweating and shivering simultaneously. My sawing hand was a block of frozen flesh and bone. I finally looked up at the woman and told her, through clenched teeth.
“We’re almost done here.”
“No, ya ain’t,” she told me, flatly, and sauntered back to her trailer. (more…)
Punk shows are like that. The guys that you know just well enough to fear are all in the crowd. They’re the hookups, the ones with the weed and the acid. They rage just a few feet away, circle jerking, moshing, shoving strangers, elbowing dudes in the face. You are in awe of them. You couldn’t get in there and do that. Here’s where your women’s lib stuff breaks down. Here’s where you feel the raw strength of men, and you feel, even though you are wearing baggy jeans, a loose Tshirt and not one fucking speck of makeup, here’s where you feel that, yes, they are more powerful than you. Yes, you’re a pussy, and there’s no getting around it. (more…)
Chelsea Laine Wells
Your daughter wants you to scratch her back while she falls asleep. She calls you from the other room, her voice high and irritating and swooping down into petulance. Come scratch my back. Your husband holds up his hand like a claw and flexes it, indicating that his fingernails are too short, and smiles at you in that porpoise way he has that makes you wonder if he isn’t mildly afflicted with Down’s Syndrome. You push your exhausted body off the couch and move deeper into the small, dull apartment to appease the voice. (more…)
And two more illustrated folktales by Ryan Sinon
In the heart of an old pine forest there lived a young Faun who was quite proud of his goat legs. They were tightly muscled and covered in brown fur. Whenever the wind blew the fur moved like grass in a field. He walked with a purposeful gait, chin forward, eyes alert, and at the slightest sound his long, felt-like ears flicked to attention like a pair of soldiers. His bare chest was the color of a hen’s egg, and equally as smooth, except for a diamond shaped tuft of hair at the center.
That’s me, the thing on the couch. TV: on. TV kept me company after school, taught me what no one else would. “Sex and the Single Girl” was the ABC 3:30 Movie’s theme during Valentine’s Week. I didn’t know for sure what sex was but at age nine I was, by definition, a single girl. The movie, Jacqueline Susann’s Valley of the Dolls, was teaching me that growing up female means you’ll become addicted to pills, booze, or men. I was leaning toward men. Boys really. Just one. I was hooked on Charles Slattery, and like any good addict, I kept this a secret. (more…)
When nobody is watching, my daughter steals books. She’s some kind of book stealing criminal actually, and she’s only five. She has shelves and shelves of them in her room, but she’s no longer interested in those books anymore. No, now she only wants the ones that don’t belong to her.
I should’ve seen this coming. Even as a baby, when I would read to her, she would grab at the corner of books and tug, pullingthem beneath her blanket. At first, it was cute. Precious even. But if I tried to take a book away from her, she would get this crazed look in her eyes and start to cry, and not a normal cry, but one of those demonic Rosemary’s baby kind of cries, so loud and horrific that her face would turn different shades of blue. In order to make her stop, I would eventually give in, letting her keep the book with her in the crib, watching all night from a rocking chair in the corner to make sure she didn’t get a paper cut or poke out an eye or try to put it in her mouth. As it turns out, I was enabling her even then.
After community college I get a job babysitting all the grimy-faced neighbor kids on the wrong side of town. They’re a rough crowd. Every one of their households has a utility drawer filled with expired medication, marijuana dust ground into the couch cushions, and an unloaded gun on the highest shelf. I provide adult supervision, which is unnerving. I was not necessarily the most responsible kid in the car on a Saturday night. For example, since kids make me nervous, I might pop a couple Benerol to take the edge off. Benerol is a doctor prescribed headache medication specifically designed for female physiology. It makes you the kind of sleepy where all you want to do is stay up and talk. In one word: fantastic. (more…)