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Queen For A Day

     I was a woman with a past and I wasn’t about to apologize for it. Stefan Gaulte, the photographer I worked for, had called me into his office. “Sit, sit,” he said with a sweep of his hand, leaning back in his chair like a potentate. I settled into one of his two George V high-backed chairs, looking at him across the antique birch morgue table he used as a desk, waiting to lose my job. But then his phone rang. It was Ursula, his stylist, who was arranging a casting call for noon that day, and he stood up to give her his picks from the models’ head-sheets that were arrayed on his desk: this one’s too blowsy, that one’s fabulous, I don’t like her ears. Continue reading →

Pickle

Yolanda glanced at the timers seated on steel fold-up chairs under the white tents at the edge of the Olympic size pool, three timers per lane. She noticed the way they casually, so confidently chatted with each other during the race and then how they simultaneously got up and approached the edge of the pool, looking intently at the water as they pushed the appropriate buttons on their gadgets; one of them authoritatively writing something on a clipboard. She had to remind herself that they were just parents, like her, volunteers timing their kids at a swimmeet. But she wasn’t like them. She checked the Hannah Montana watch on her wrist, the one her daughter would no longer wear, and saw it was almost time for her to relieve one of these parents.

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Not All Who Wander Are Lost

Many times during my life I’ve changed location, moving from one side of the country to the opposite, south to north, most recently back south. Each change of place presents challenges, yet I eventually conclude, “This is where I belong for now.”

In recent years I’ve wondered how different the experiences of patriarchs and heroes of Hebrew Scripture might have been had they been women. As a result I’ve written a collection of stories imagining them as women. The story of a female Abraham fits your forthcoming theme of change, I believe.

“Leave your country,” God told Abraham, “and go to the land I will show you.” Had Abraham been a woman, what might she have experienced as she followed God’s call to venture far from home? Continue reading →

Angelica’s World

Now at her deathbed, she reveled in the scratchy tunes of tangos, sweet, flowery perfumes and photographs revealing the insidious passage of time.  There was magic in these small things, things that belong to the living… Continue reading →

Retirement Fund

Overlook Cafe II by Sung Kim

Overlook Cafe II by Sung Kim

She pores over the stock report in the business pages the way I devoured Siddhartha when I was her age, reading between the lines for clues to the meaning of life. “Should I buy Wal-Mart shares? Or do you think Pier One has more potential for…Mom?”

I glance up from my sketchpad. How should I know? Me, the money idiot?
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Halfway To California

Feel Good IV

Feel Good IV

I fly United Airlines to California. As the plane lifts, we crest buildings and trees and hills. A three-story brick school building that could hold hundreds of students becomes the size of a postage stamp, then finally disappears. I wish the memory of Patty would also disappear, at least for awhile.

Patty is one of my students, and she is sixteen years old. She has watery blue eyes, and she seems fragile and eager to please. All the kids hate her because she smells, and because she’s a Weigly. Her father, Shotgun Weigly, is the only cab driver in town. He wears grungy tee shirts with holes in them, and he has a big belly. He also has a good heart, I think. Most people try to avoid him, just as they try to avoid Patty. Do you know what the students call fleas in Coaltrain Hills? Weigly bugs. All the way from first grade to twelfth. Continue reading →

Obit Weary

The Writer

The Writer

It is sixteen minutes to eight in the morning and the dead cannot wait. You would imagine they have all the time in the (other) world, to twiddle their thumbs (or what remains), to adjust to their new permanent situation, luxuriating in the certainty of having eternity languidly stretching ahead. You would expect them to be undergoing the ultimate thinning process, to float in limbo or haunt places and/or people to while away the time waiting for D-day or do whatever you are supposed to do when you are dead. But in my line of business, the dead cannot simply be made to wait. No, I am not a mortician if that is what you are thinking. I do not tend to their earthly remains, but to a more ethereal notion-vaporous, quite volatile entity that is their memory-by writing the final proclamation of their departure from this world to a (hopefully) better one. Continue reading →

The Man From the Circus

Trapeze

Trapeze

1.

No-one stayed at home that night. I’d lived on the island for seventeen years, and I didn’t remember the circus ever coming to Skye before.

I had stepped out for a cigarette halfway through the girl-on-the-pony show. I liked the idea of the girl-on-the-pony show, but the reality of it depressed me. I could see the gobs of glue holding on the horse’s plume, and the girl had lipstick on her teeth. Continue reading →