Tuesday, October 1, 2013

< Vacation >

Sorry, novel-writing and teaching must take priority over short stories for the time being.

As with all my "vacation" posts, here are some links to short stories I adore:

Metamorphosis by David Eagleman
OCD (written and performed) by Neil Hilborn
The Chair of Rejection by Stacey Richter

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Frequent Flyer

It’s the lack of sleep that kills her during business trips.

It’s not the amount of work. It’s not even the time change, with he and she each moving their bedtimes and alarm clocks to make sure they get just ten minutes to see or hear each other on video conferencing each day.  It’s that she can’t fall asleep without him there.

She tries to trick herself — she leaves her clothes and the light on, lies down on top of the covers, because then it’s not sleep, it’s just a nap, it doesn’t count. She sets up her pillows on the couch, on an armchair with her legs hanging half off an ottoman. When it’s not a bed, she thinks, maybe she won’t feel so lonely.

But things get worse as the trip drags on. Her body anticipates her deceptions, is no longer fooled. She gives up on “trying” to sleep, and just stays awake until her body can’t take it any more and crashes in place: induced narcolepsy. But then she adjusts again, cruising towards true insomnia, until everything aches her eyes like looking too long at a computer, even when she's outside and a screen is nowhere to be found. Adding or cutting back on caffeine doesn’t help. Exercise doesn’t help. She won’t take sleeping pills. The only good nights are the ones where they can leave the line open, when they find that window of time where the sky is dark in both his part of the world and hers, and she can fall asleep next to the phone, listening to him breathe.

And this isn’t even half the story. He’s the one on the road, not her.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Two Kinds

There are two kinds of people in the world, he said. Those who take their wedding rings off before they cheat, and those who leave them on.

No, she said, there’s only those who cheat, and those who don’t.

When she went to the bathroom, he cancelled the hotel reservation.

Monday, July 1, 2013


“I’ve been arrested,” he said.

“Figures,” she said, and hung up.

Later, Jurek would wonder if things might have gone better for him if he’d used his one phone call on someone other than his ex-girlfriend, but that night he returned to his cell with a sense of peace, knowing he’d gotten exactly what he deserved.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Light of My Life, Mover of Moons

I tell our daughter to marry a man who can cook.  At six, the reliability of her acquiescence is suspect, but you lead by example, standing over the bubbling pot and steaming cast iron, tongs in one hand, wooden spatula in the other.  A kitchen towel has been tossed over one shoulder, and you stand in bare feet -- one resting, tilted, on the ankle of the other.

She spends more time with me, and so I know you think she loves me more.  But she loves you like I do:  completely, carelessly, sometimes thoughtlessly, because we believe in you like C.S. Lewis believed in the sun: not only because we see it, but because by it we see everything else.  The world would not be the world without you in it.  How could she watch you take the glasses off my face to wipe away the smudges and not fall in love?

I see you in her.  I'm sure you see yourself too... just as I see the blemish on my face in the mirror before my features have even come into focus.  But she reflects more than our flaws.  I see you in her laugh.  In her righteousness and self-sufficiency when she walks away from the charismatic bully on the playground.  In her bravery and loyalty when she tells her friends she will keep them safe in the deep water on the beach.  In the certainty of her moral compass and her choice of over-easy eggs for breakfast.

You tell our daughter to take care of me when you're not around.  One evening, as I walked home with her, she told me to look at the moon.  It's almost full, she said.  I looked, but being taller, couldn't see it behind a tree branch.

Don't worry, she said, I'll run to the end of the street.  The moon always follows me.  I'll bring it where you can see it.

I didn't tell her that the moon seems to follow anyone who looks.  So much easier to explain, don't worry, Daddy already moved it for me.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Victory, Of Sorts

You wanted to be in a relationship with someone who would push you to be better. I was scared, but I love you, so finally I agreed.  I think I pushed too hard, but at least now, with you down on the ground, you can see who I really am.

Monday, April 1, 2013

< Vacation >

Again, a month off.  I think you'll like these stories while you're waiting for me to post again:

The Wrong Grave by Kelly Link
Seahorse Sex by Molly Giles
Angry Child by Benjamin Rosenbaum
The Egg by Andy Weir