Friday, July 5, 2019

2 Minutes. Go!

The sun sets and you try to remember. Janice, you live inside the truth, but your silly notions of justice queer you; You smell like filth. You smell like disaster, loss, and beauty - like a sweet rotten smell that climbs inside your head, throttling you with the bleak reality; you want to turn the other cheek, but no one hurt you. You want to ride, singing, into the future, but you don't even exist anymore ,,, you are light memory, clawing at the edge of ragged sleep.

Remember when you were small and time seemed almost static, swimming in the omnipresent afternoon? Janice, time was that you didn't know anyone. You were floundering. You were a joke and the village idiot all rolled into one. They wanted you to fail, Janice.

Don't look at me like that. Avert your eyes. This isn't an exhibit. I'm not your monkey, Janice. You won't tell this story. And you won't get the recompense you feel is owed to you. You are blasphemy and truth, a stolen kiss on a winter's morning. You exist without my consent, spinning, and you are making us all dizzy, Janice.

Close your eyes now. You deserve this rest.


  1. Beautiful... and I love this line: "You are blasphemy and truth, a stolen kiss on a winter's morning" ... this would be cool as a song.

    1. Same line as Leland. But also the phrase "clawing at the edge of ragged sleep." My insomnia nods vehemently. Also the part about spinning. There's a lot happening in so few words!

    2. They wanted you to fail, you were a joke and village idiot - that kills. The outsider. I guess she's dead. A suicide?

    3. I highlighted that same line. So much going on here.

    4. I love many of the lines in this including the one that ends with this: "throttling you with the bleak reality; you want to turn the other cheek, but no one hurt you." You always do a lot of sensory stuff in your writing that is so cool.

  2. [I'm cheating... I posted this on my timeline yesterday. Sorry if it's a repeat for you]
    I went to the fireworks display. What else was there to do? I was living in a town somewhere between the size of one that has no Independence Day celebration at all and one that has turned it into some kind of an entertainment spectacular.

    Folding chairs and chaise longues surrounded the area that was cordoned off. First they were empty, then people started to claim their seats.

    There was only one empty space amidst all those chairs. It puzzled me why there would be an empty space in a place that everyone would have considered prime real estate, but I came to understand the real reason.

    A young boy, perhaps seventeen, pushed an elderly man in a wheel chair into that spot. Grandfather and grandson, perhaps? A moment later, a woman in her late thirties or early forties sat down on the old man’s other side.

    As the flag was slowly run up the flagpole, I heard the high school band strike up the national anthem.

    I watched as the old man struggled to stand. With the assistance of the boy and the woman who surely was his daughter, he stood tall, and removed his hat—a blue one with some gold braiding that I couldn’t recognize from where I stood. Crisply, he saluted the flag.

    I was surprised to see the young boy drop to one knee, beside his veteran grandfather. He looked down at the ground even as his grandfather looked up at the flag.

    When the anthem came to an end, the boy rose to help his father sit again in the wheelchair.

    I was not the only one to notice the contrast. Someone sitting behind them started screaming at the boy, something about how dare he disrespect the flag his grandfather fought for.
    Sometimes, crowds go silent at exactly the right moment.

    This was one of those times.

    The old man turned in his wheelchair and spoke loudly and clearly:

    “I did not fight for the flag. I fought for what the flag stands for. I fought for the Constitution, for the Bill of Rights, for my fellow Marines, and for my family. My grandson is fighting for those same ideals. And you, sir, are fighting for a piece of cloth. Leave my grandson alone.”

    The man who had shouted turned red enough that I could see it, even from a distance, but he sat down and muttered something to his wife.

    The fireworks were loud that night, but they couldn’t hold a Roman candle to the truth in that grandfather’s words.

    God bless America, and all her ideals. God bless the men and women who fought for and sometimes died to keep those ideals alive. God bless her even when we stray. And most of all, God bless those who hold those ideals up like a torch, in daylight and in dark, in war and in peace, in uniform and out, at attention and on bended knee.

    1. I love it, but I have to confess I'm completely confused why literally everyone can't see that kneeling for an anthem is a respectful thing! Kneeling in our culture always shows respect, regard, and even deference. Is it possible they're pretending to miss something this obvious?

    2. I've asked that question more times than I can count. And they're missing the fact that he got advise from a veteran friend of his to kneel rather than to just sit through the anthem. We kneel before God and monarch. How can one tell the difference?

    3. That said, some protestants resist kneeling in church, so perhaps that's an undercurrent. I don't know.

    4. I would never kneel before a god or a monarch, ever. I'd rather die. But for me, kneeling is something we do when having sex (right?), when we honour someone we respect, and more pertinently, when someone gets injured out on the field while we watch as players and coaches.

    5. It's strange. Sitting, kneeling, standing - it should be fine. They're listening, they're respecting. Mmm. It's a sweet story and the man's words are strong. And the boy shows respect to age and his grandfather, and his grandfather's superior wisdom/experience, I was thinking, as I read. I like how the grandfather is the only one who speaks. His voice has more command - the interrupter's statement is only mentioned as a report.

  3. And one that's flash non-fiction
    There are some songs that touch my heart deeply. This is the story of one of them: Garth Brooks’ “Unanswered Prayers.”

    I grew up on a farm on the border between Colorado and Nebraska, the son of a farmer and a housewife. We went to church almost every Sunday.

    In the 1960s, there wasn’t much mention of homosexuals in the news or on television. But I knew something was different about me by the time I was five. I knew I wanted to ride off into the sunset with a cowboy, and I had a huge crush on Adam Cartwright on Bonanza.

    The other kids in my tiny country school knew, too. The first time I was called “fag” was in first grade. I had no idea what it meant, but some part of me knew it applied to me, and it was bad.

    Little by little I learned more about homosexuals. How evil they were. I learned words like “abomination.” How to be afraid of men in public restrooms. How to avoid men with lisps.

    I learned too that some of the same men who ranted about iniquity during the day would force themselves on a young boy at night.

    I prayed that God would change me. That somehow he’d make me “normal,” that he would make me less attractive to my abuser, that he’d make me want to kiss Miss Kitty on Gunsmoke instead of Festus.

    But God didn’t.

    Years went by. Still I prayed. I went through a few levels of hell in those years. When I lost my oldest brother, whom I idolized, to a train accident, I was seventeen. In my anger, I gave up on the idea of God. If God was really there, how could he let my brother die? How could he let me be an abomination?

    I didn’t find my way back into a church until decades later, just about the time I heard a song from Garth Brooks on the radio. A song called “Unanswered Prayers.” By then, I’d accepted myself as being gay, of understanding that God had a part in me being that way. But when I heard that song, I flashed back on all the times I’d prayed for God to change me from the way he made me into something that other people thought I should be. And for the first time, that night, I offered a prayer of thanks that he’d not answered those prayers.

    And that’s why I cry whenever I hear that song, and why I still thank God for not answering all my prayers.

    1. Heartfelt and wise. Odd that we both wrote about our reactions to popular songs. (Although mine was more fictional, it still contains plenty of nonfiction elements... although I wish I owned a Martin guitar.)

    2. This is so sad. The Pride march was today. I hope no one has to go through this. No one should ever be abused or made to feel they are less than a person. And no one should get away with abusing others. Views have changed/are changing and I'm glad of that.

    3. Love this Leland. Thanks so much for sharing it.

  4. [This one wants to expand, so I'll link to it later if that happens.]

    Seagulls cry like brushstrokes across whitewash. Like ravens gulping at a landfill.

    Peripheral. I watch you walk away.

    I like the Beatles a lot, but I don’t love the Beatles. I mean, I probably should love the Beatles. They were the soundtrack of my childhood, in many ways. I’m the right demographic: white, northern, English, old. Memories brimming with cobblestones, smokestacks, and rag-and-bone men. But I love so many bands ahead of them. Not sure why. Even though “And I Love Her” is one of the greatest love songs of all time. And “If I Fell,” too, a near-perfect melody wedded to the most genial and incisive of lyrics: “Cause I couldn’t stand the pain.” Sometimes I take my old Martin acoustic out of its case, all neglected and ashamed, with its patina of dust, and I play “And I Love Her,” those tiny Spanish hammer-ons and pull-offs on the A and D strings, and I’m reminded how demonstrably I should truly idolize that fucking band, and I wonder why they’re not quite at my pinnacle, how they’re the unwinnable K2 to my other more haughty Everests.

    A whole lot of hard day’s nights and plenty of yesterdays, you might say.

    Well, that kind of happens.

    Like, why did Samantha become a memory of a sunrise and a sunset while Astrid stole my entire skies? How am I here not there? Why is there something instead of nothing?

    Wait. Let me backtrack. Or forward track. Or sidetrack. This is how I want to meet the first aliens we encounter. I want to tell them, “This is the world that treasures Keanu Reeves.” What do you think? Honestly, that covers it all, the superficiality of celebrity culture and the sweetness of being risibly, brittly human and plausibly zenlike on this rocky, watery spaceship amid our dopey fixations.

    Astrid might argue. She always argues.

    The modest span of a woman’s back, the valleys alongside the ridge of her spine. The twin dimples poised above her hips, low as crescent moons in the sky of a gentle planet, soft encounters by a glancing visitor. Do you have any idea how long I’ve needed that? It’s all a fad, every minute. If we live it, we love it.

    If she goes now, I’m burned by the world.

    I loiter in the umbra of her night.

    1. That last line kills... and I'd replace Keanu Reeves with Chris Evans, but that's 'cause he loves dogs and has a cute butt, but it's perfect the way it is! Also love "Like, why did Samantha become a memory of a sunrise and a sunset while Astrid stole my entire skies?" ... I'll look forward to the augmented story!

    2. Thanks, Leland. You always give such kind yet also helpful feedback (I never know how a metaphor will land). I chose Keanu very deliberately. For a number of reasons, he's having this weird cultural moment right now (and I know that will one day date the story) that feels almost otherworldly and wildly disproportionate. I don't know, maybe he loves dogs too, and I wouldn't be surprised, but the reference was very conscious and nothing to do with looks. Seriously, Google "Keanu Reeves having a moment" or "why is Keanu so popular right now?" It's definitely a thing.

    3. It definitely is a thing... it's like people woke up one morning, after he's been working for years, and said WOW. I can't remember if the New Yorker referenced it or not, but I cred that awakening to the fact that he "appeared" in an electronic game. That's a medium that I think we writers ought to be paying more attention to, but I fear I'm too old to remodel my brain to accommodate multiple scenarios and paths to a satisfying end.

    4. Great ending about Astrid. Beautiful and romantic. Particularly like the dimples image. And the comparison between women - how some will melt your heart and some will just pass on through leaving no indent.

      The Keanu thing made me laugh. He was all over social because he helped the people stranded at the airport. And also he rescued dogs. Defo made me think more highly of the guy - and it's funny cos we don't know him personally... but people will think they do... I guess...

      Ah, the Beatles. My favourite has to be 'Something'. The little bit in the middle.

    5. I totally got the Keanu thing. I don't get him and his moment, either. And the Beatles. So deceptively simple. Really just loved the piece. Looking forward to more.

    6. And for me, the Keanu thing was largely thanks to his answer when Colbert asked him about the afterlife.

    7. DA this was awesome and I look forward to the next piece connected to it. I too loved the description of a woman's body. You managed to mention things that most don't and still make it totally visual. Als since I'm probably the only one that gets why the Keanu thing is happening now without having to Google it (and it's definitely not his first time having a thing -- might be the third or fourth as Vickie already indicated) I'm happy to give a brief dissertation in the FB group if you're truly interested. But here it is in a sentence: Keanu is a movie star that can still laugh at himself on film when his face is 25feet high.

    8. Oh and one more thing, thanks for the reference to rag and bone men. I'd only heard the term once before and didn't know it's meaning. One of my fave singers calls himself that and now it's even more perfect in my opinion.

    9. Ha ha, I love everyone's comments. And yes, Keanu remains humble, for sure. Oh, and Lily, this is going to date me horribly, but I remember hanging out at my grandparents' house as a kid in Manchester and hearing the clip-clop of pony hooves as the rag-and-bone men made their way slowly up the street with their flatbed wagons, literally calling out "rags and bones!" as they went. I just read about the Egyptian Zabbaleen, who seem to operate similarly.

      Oh, Dan, I just realized that rag-and-bone could be rendered as R&B!

  5. Part 1:

    I think it was Robert Frost who said the world would end in fire or ice. But we know that’s not how it happened, don’t we?

    It was tepid indifference that did us in. Reacting to violence with an angry emoji instead of righteous indignation. Looking at a cute overly groomed dog in Thailand instead of feeding the hungry mongrel at the door. Clucking our tongues at people stupid enough to seek asylum in country with too many haters.

    When it was all over, there remained two upright bipeds, and by “upright,” I mean “still on their feet.” They were forced to look up and around when the bars on their phones went from four to three to two to one, and eventually no bars at all.
    The world was quieter than they imagined it would be. This might have been from too many songs played too loud on their earbuds, or it might have been because the birds and other noisemakers were nearly extinct from the chemicals in the air. Or it might have been radiation. It was hard to tell when everything was called fake news.

    Their names were Harmony and X.

    Harmony’s parents were musicians. At least that’s what their Facebook pages said, when there was still Facebook. The truth was Harmony’s father was a professional gambler with professional-sized losses and her mother was an influencer—someone who made a fraction of a penny every time she persuaded someone to buy something she featured on her social media accounts.

    X’s parents were, well, he wasn’t really sure what they were. If they had Facebook pages, he never found them. If he’d thought to look for their MySpace pages, he might have learned that they had horrible taste in music and were high most of the time. If he’d known them in real life, he’d have known they were high all the time. He didn’t even know their names. He called them M and P, for Mama and Papa, when he shouted through the door for them to bring him food or advise them of an internet outage.

    Harmony lived west of Denver, near the west end of the longest street in North America: Colfax Avenue. X lived way out east in Colorado, near the eastern terminus of the same street.

    Harmony and X didn’t know each other. Yet. When the last cell signal died, they both felt a mysterious pull toward downtown. They had never heard of Petula Clark or they might have understood downtown’s magnetism. They also did not know about boots made for walking, so each started out with very inappropriate footwear. Crocs for Harmony, Doc Martens for X.

    1. Part 2:

      Each was surprised by the lack of traffic when they ventured out toward the street. All the traffic reports they’d seen online showed massive traffic jams, but the reality was far different. The street was nearly empty.

      Harmony walked past cafes with big windows and no lights on, which was okay, because she wasn’t hungry, and anyway, she was trying to lose weight.

      X walked past porn shops that had no windows, and if he’d stepped inside, he’d discover that even the batteries in the vibrators were dead.

      X saw Harmony first. He watched with curiosity as she skittered from one side of the street to the other, looking curiously in store windows, then casting her eyes down. She had expensively styled hair, the sort that tries too hard to look casual. Clothes that promised too much and revealed too little. His thumb twitched as if he were ready to swipe past her. Until he realized she wasn’t on his phone.

      When she noticed him, she saw a scruffy guy in a T-shirt that probably needed laundering, vintage Levi 501s, and eyes staring back at her. She wrinkled her nose slightly, which was to say she found him moderately attractive but wasn’t about to let him know that. One slip and he’d probably expect her to cook and do laundry and God knows what else. Her thumb twitched, too, but she was tentatively scrolling through the pictures she imagined on his profile. Different haircuts, different hair colors, different T-shirt’s. She scrolled more slowly, more certain with each that the next would be the one that exposed his own favorite part of his body, assuming any viewer would find it equally attractive. But the last picture that came up in this mental scrolling was of him smiling, without a shirt on.

      They closed the distance between them awkwardly. Neither was used to the idea of meeting someone in the flesh, certainly not meeting the first time.

      “‘S up?” He queried.

      "Hangin’,” she responded.


      “Where are you going?” She asked.

      “Oh. You can see me. I forgot. I just didn’t want to seem too, you know, pushy.”

      “Oh.” She was surprised he didn’t stink. In fact, he smelled wholesome and good. Who knew? “What’s your name?”


      “No, not your screen name, your real name.”

      “X, son of M and P.”

      “Huh. Okay.”

      “What’s yours?”


      He smiled at that. “Pretty.”

      She was masterful at hiding any emotions on her face. She’d practiced on her webcam for hours. She was less successful at controlling her pulse, which she was afraid he could hear.

      He, on the other hand, was unconcerned about his heartbeat. It managed itself. It was only a simulation, anyway.
      X was an android, you see.

    2. whoa, I want this to become a book. Were they so involved in messaging each other that they didn't see the end of the world happen and went out to meet on a date, found the world empty, but didn't notice? That's what I pictured, which is hilarious.

      I spend so much time avoiding people on mobiles in the street or on the Tube and trying not to collide with them (wondering how they stay alive), or watching people 'in conversation' but ignoring each other on their mobiles...

      There's some really funny lines in here. my faves:

      It was tepid indifference that did us in. Reacting to violence with an angry emoji instead of righteous indignation.

      They also did not know about boots made for walking, so each started out with very inappropriate footwear. Crocs for Harmony, Doc Martens for X

      X walked past porn shops that had no windows, and if he’d stepped inside, he’d discover that even the batteries in the vibrators were dead.

    3. Thanks ;) Yes, it started as a riff on the idea of "pictures or didn't happen" and "It's only real if it's on TV"... taken to present day where people practically live online. Thanks for the encouraging words!

    4. I want more. More. More. Love these people, the setup, the details.

    5. Oh YEAH. Leland you must keep writing this. It's AWESOME. I laughed out loud many, many, times. I liked so many lines I stopped trying to pick just one to talk about.

    6. Yes, more of this! It has a slight Black Mirror feel yet is entirely Leland Hermit. It's intriguing.

  6. To fading

    I give you nothing in the eyes of this sacred summer; a cold distancing you need to get you through this night. It will breathe, the truth, resurrect you in a blink, deliver you from the evil you bang on about. Yet you love it so, inhaling its dank breath; relishing this reality, this true relationship, the deepest one you’ve ever shared with another – behold, the biggest loss you’ll feel when claws wrench it away.

    I watch you. Like a child you sleep, breathing the nether, the empty, a time of bliss and quiet, and still, so still. A sculpture, palest cheeks carved into the pillow. I’m scarcely aware that you exhale. Do you? Are you real? I sometimes wonder.

    The way you tilt your chin and look at me in that way you have when you think I’m not seeing you, it makes me weary now. Weary of tomorrow. If only you could stay like this, simple, away from the world you find so difficult to trudge through. It starves you of what you need. You never tire of telling me this. Reminding me. Informing me why the creative inside of you is dead.

    They killed it, you say. And sometimes you cry. But you know I can’t bear to see a man cry. Your endless desire for empathy is a drowning. You would have steered me away from you, dragged me across a lake, pretending you could walk on water. And now you disintegrate into dreamtime, the only safe crossing for you.

    What if you don’t wake up? What if you just stop? What if? This second is the longest and I keep the door ajar for you, waiting. Outside an owl sounds and I know it echoes here for you.

    1. Wow. This is pain distilled into beauty. The visuals are strong, and the owl’s call and echo at the end make me feel the emptiness. Thank you for writing and sharing this.

    2. Thanks, Leland :) I haven't quite decided what their relationship is :)

    3. I think they haven’t yet either!

    4. Lovely and sad. And you're right there are so many ways to go on the relationship front.

    5. I love the dark romanticism in this, Vickie. And he undercurrent of anxiety. It's beautiful.

  7. Part 1

    When Miriam saw her Eli for the first time, after the nurses at Brooklyn Hebrew Maternity had cleaned him and wrapped him and placed him in her arms, she thought about so many things. How she and Manny would run the restaurant, with her caring for a new baby. How everything would change. And then, as she gazed into his just-opened eyes, brown like his father’s, all her rambling thoughts blended into a single refrain: I’m going to lose him. One day, a girl will come along and take my boychik away from me.

    She now feared that day had come. She knew it wasn’t going to be the furrier’s daughter. Anyone could see that hoity-toity girl was only using him to make her father angry. But a mother couldn’t tell her fifteen-year-old son a thing like that. As much as it hurt Miriam to know the girl would break his heart, she had to let him experience the pain.

    This one, though. This Evelyn, who’d waltzed in with her marcelled curls and doe eyes and asked her son to make her an egg cream, in Yiddish yet, she was going to be the real trouble. He didn’t have to say a word and she knew, like a mother knows, that Evelyn was the reason he smiled while he worked, why he kept sneaking looks out the window while he filled customer’s orders at the deli counter. Miriam ached to ask him a million questions. Does she come from a good family? Does she love going to the movies as much as you do? Can she cook?

    She tortured her husband with these questions when they went to bed, dog-tired from working all day. Finally Manny would say, “Miriam. Enough. When he wants us to know about her, we’ll know about her. And then you can ask all the questions you want.”

    Finally, one evening while they were closing up, while Manny put chairs on top of tables and Miriam closed out the register and Eli swept the floor, there was a look on her son’s face. Like he was chewing on something he couldn’t quite figure out how to say.

    “Boychik,” she said, motioning him over.

    “I already swept back there.”

    “You missed a spot.”

    1. Love it. The characters are so real and warm, and the mother's fears and emotions real. And she doesn't ask and decides to let it be, but she still shows control by asking him to sweep again :)

    2. Sigh. So perfect. I’ve not seen the word “marcelled” for years and it’s absolutely the right word. I love your characters.

    3. Thanks! Sorry Part 2 got separated.

    4. I'd never even heard the word, so I learned something as well as had the enjoyment of reading another Laurie Boris piece. :)

  8. Quiet

    There are no words,
    No interruptions;
    Save for this stillness there is
    Nothing but the muffled snore
    Of a jet cat snoozing amid even steps
    Of two hands, ever-counting ways to sneak
    Around this quiet to chime a disturbance.
    Humming, the squat fridge joins in, bringing
    A rhythmic design to the evening.

    Outside, garden voices scoop up in a swarm,
    Bee-like, phrases mixing into white noise.
    My pen top scrawls across the table to a stop
    And I roll a blackberry idly, inhaling
    Coffee’s sense of musty earth. This time is
    Precious, still, and I am at rest, finally.
    Upstairs spills the stagger of a distant cough,
    Reminding me of the crowd I am

    1. Gorgeous and rich. I also like the way you’ve presented this visually; short lines growing to longer lines as the noise grows and then diminishing again.

    2. And boy does it reach its ending perfectly thanks to that line length thing and the sounds and associations of the word choices.

  9. Part 2

    “Sorry.” He came over with his broom and gave the space another once-over.

    “So.” Miriam straightened the stack of menus. “When do we get to meet her?”

    He raised his head, on his face the same befuddled look he’d worn when he first started learning his Torah.

    “Your Egg Cream Girl.” She plucked up a menu and playfully swatted his arm with it. “When do we get to meet this mysterious creature?”

    The befuddlement intensified. A knot tightened in Miriam’s chest. Already? Not like the furrier’s daughter, she hoped.

    “I don’t have an Egg Cream Girl, Mom. I think you’re making up stories again.”

    “Oh, I am not, you little pisher. With my own eyes I saw her, with the hair and the smile she gave you…?”

    She hadn’t seen him blush so red in a long time.

    “Miriam,” her husband pleaded. “Leave the boy alone.”


    Manny tutted gently at her, wove his arm around her waist, gave her temple a peck. “Why don’t you go on up, take an early night? We’ll finish up down here.”

    She was about to protest, but then she understood. A little man-to-man talking. Well, good. Maybe it’s a good time for that. She took off her apron and sashayed up to their apartment over the deli. Washed her face and massaged cold cream into her skin and rolled curlers into her hair. Dawdling as long as she could until finally, she heard the two sets of footsteps on the stairs.

    She held off as long as possible but couldn’t keep the questions out of her eyes. As Manny dropped to the bed, as he took off his shoes. Finally, as if he were torturing her with his silence until the last moment, he relented. “Relax, mamaleh. She’s someone else’s Egg Cream Girl. She’s engaged to be married. She’s not the one.”

    Miriam sighed. Relief washed over her at first. But not the same sort of relief as when the furrier’s daughter broke his heart. This was mixed with sadness. And anger, truth be told. How dare a woman already spoken for toy with her son! She had half a mind to march over to wherever that Evelyn girl lived and shake the living daylights out of her. She came back to her senses when Manny lighted a hand on her arm. “It’s gonna be okay,” he said. “If I’m remembering correctly, you weren’t the first girl that turned my head.”

    “Is this what you talked about with my boychik? How his father ran around Brooklyn sowing his wild oats until he was ready for marriage?”

    “No.” Manny gave her a small, teasing grin. “I was just becoming a better man for you.”

    “Ha. That line went out with the horse and buggy.”

    “He’s fine, Miriam. Look, he’s only seventeen. Maybe…maybe you’ve been seeing it all cockeyed. Maybe instead of losing your boychik, you’ll be gaining a daughter.”

    That was exactly what Manny’s mother had said to her, the night they’d announced their engagement. Her mother-in-law didn’t exactly look happy about it, though. It looked like a compromise. It looked like what Miriam was thinking at that very moment.

    When Manny fell asleep, Miriam slipped out of bed. Padded down the hallway to Eli’s room. The door was open a crack, her boy in heavy slumber, half his face illuminated by the glow from the streetlights. And she stood there for a while, timing his breathing with his, and knowing that at least for now, he was hers, and hers alone.

    And that whomever the future Mrs. Abramowitz was going to be, she’d better treat her boychik’s heart with respect.

    1. Oh, some future Mrs. is gonna have a lot of hurdles to clear! You made me smile. Thank you.

    2. This was a great piece. Place, time, characters all of it so tangible. Loved the dad and boychik is in such trouble.

  10. It's simple

    We can run with them or we can fall behind, he said, and I believed him. Everything he said was true. We can hide or we can be proud of who we are, step out and stand tall. We can be whomever we want to be, no matter what obstacles spring up in our way. And I believed him. We can live by our own ethics, be true to ourselves, and we will never encounter anyone who argues us down if our intentions are good. We can live simple lives and be simple people. If we stay away from the fire we won't get burned. And I believed him. I was ten.

    1. Truths were easier to believe at ten, but I hope she still holds them close.

    2. This was heartfelt. It was also like a delicious memory.

  11. Travellers

    It’s comical and tragic how she floats between walls, the silent watcher becoming the studied, the scarlet magician defeated. These lines were painted long before her arrival, their essence already etched into the red soil made solid. Dust is all they know, and dust keeps smothering the spaces in between thought, the gaps of knowledge covered anew, as paper evens cracks. The tailor arrived yesterday, carrying his dispirit trapped in a glass jar, empty except for a listening ear. A stub of gristle marked the removal, but I did not flinch. He eyed me curiously, seeking evidence of my fear, my repugnance, yet I gave him nothing. I watched him go, the hours of travel drawn on his back, blank on his face. I did not think of him again until I heard the cry. The night split in two.

    1. Wow. What an awesome setup! I can hear and feel that scream.

    2. I love the first line of this.

    3. You're on a roll, Vickie! A rich one.

  12. RC attempted to conceal from the staff how important the visits he had with her had become for him. Nurses could be awful gossips especially about doctors and patients. They could even be that way about people and things they didn’t care about.

    Nurse Gladney was particularly clever at figuring out when he was up to something and it was pretty clear she didn’t like him much. It was probably the tats. And since she was the epitome of a scary Black grandmother type there was no charming her into thinking he might just have fucked up self esteem about his body and the tats helped him evolve into something more interesting, than what he actually was. No, even in the absence of the obligatory swastika, she just assumed he was an asshole skin head and treated him accordingly, with a 30 gallon trash bag full of disdain.

    He was used to the assumption that he was a racist. He’d experienced worse. Hell, he’d doled out much worse critiques of other people with his fists. Let he who judges also be judged. That’s how it went right? It’s how he knew nothing he’d done or hadn’t done would have changed much about what the head nurse thought of him anyway. Of that he was no less than 7000% certain.

    Leila had come in on the perfect night. It was a full moon and everyone knows what that means in a hospital. It’s a night meant to deal with a very high volume of patients, overwhelming catastrophes, and irrational mood swings. Everybody but everybody was expected to be off kilter or out of sync.

    The incoming were especially consistent that way. Chatty, nude, knife-wielding, opioid addicts with wounded and grumpy police escorts. Numerous bloody and mangled survivors from thirteen car freeway pile ups. Public school teachers who’ve had psychotic breaks and cut the locs off their favorite students in an attempt to help teach them the rules of engagement with White America. Avadon Meclerick General Hospital morphed into the Eagles, Hotel California on nights of the full moon. Everyone was welcome. Nobody saw you leave.

    Knowledge was power though and RC was, like a lot of the staff, prepared for the worst. That’s why it came as such a surprise that by 9:45pm they still hadn’t seen much action in the emergency room.
    Later, RC would concede that it was probably God deciding that there wasn’t much point in distracting him from the one person he needed to be focused on. Leila was the only patient that needed RC’s undivided attention that night and many of the nights to come during her stay. For him she was patient zero and he above all others at Avadon Meclerick was the one person who could bring her back from the brink.

    1. Love the messing with stereotypes that you do... and of course I want more.

  13. II.

    Her wounds weren’t exactly life threatening. Skull fracture, distended cornea, dislocated shoulder, two broken ribs, sprained ankle, at least four broken fingers to go with a broken arm, and what was probably a busted left ear drum given the amount of blood coming out of her head there. She looked far worse than she actually was. But when he locked eyes on her at 10:08pm as they wheeled her passed the main nurses station where he was mopping, RC knew she was near dead anyway. From the look on her face it was clear she’d lost all hope of leading the kind of life that said she didn’t deserve exactly what had happened to her.

    Terry was part of the EMS crew that brought her in and one of RC’s three work friends. He got the skinny from him. Eventually.

    “She was attacked dude.”

    “No shit. Really Terry? I couldn’t tell from her looking like an over used punching bag tossed outta Bruno’s lame ass gym on Miracle Mile.”

    “Yeah, yeah. I get it you want details.”

    “Everything you got.”

    “You don’t know her, do you?”

    RC shook his head, while simultaneously daydreaming of patience.

    “It sounded like she’d gotten a lift home from a friend of her boyfriend and the guy beat the shit out of her when she wouldn’t give him any.”

    RC made a masterful attempt not to growl his next question. “Where the hell was the boyfriend?”

    “Not there, dude. How the hell do I know?”

    “You got a name?”

    “Yeah her wallet says her name is Leila. Leila Dupree.”

    1. and you granted my wish! Would love to hear more about this guy and Leila!

    2. How do you do this in so few words? An interesting nonstereotypical character with hints of a backstory, an intriguing scenario that makes me want to find out what's going on, and a succinct conversation that advances the plot effortlessly and expertly.


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