Posts tagged "dialogue"
The Birthday Place

The Birthday Place

“You know, Mother, today is my birthday.” I have reported this three times in the past hour. Across the room, on the sofa where she leans beside my father, Mother smiles. “That’s wonderful, dear.” The dear is generic, a term she employs when she forgets who I am. “And where is your birthday place?” “You...
Louie’s New Truck

Louie’s New Truck

The tiny Montana town I grew up in had one main intersection where two highways came together at a T-shaped junction. One stop sign told vehicles traveling east to give way to the north and south traffic passing straight through town. On the corner stood Dad’s pharmacy: a two-story, baby blue, eyesore of a building....
Math Lesson

Math Lesson

In the box of unsent cards my parents have kept to mark a family’s life, I find “Congratulations on Your New Addition!” Chosen no doubt for the next child who would arrive, the next name to stitch onto the quilt that hangs on the wall above my father’s chair, thirty-three names now, grandchildren and great-,...
Leili in the Doorway

Leili in the Doorway

Light from Leili’s bedroom illumined the far end of the dormitory hallway. I hesitated. She would be waiting, just as she was each Thursday night, my duty night at Beau Soleil, a boarding school in the Swiss Alps, where I taught English and my husband taught mathematics. “Malinka,” Leili called me. “Little one.” She grinned...
Crossings

Crossings

When Mom got sick I quit my job and moved back West, where the wide roads were choked with cars and no combination of busses and trains could get me from the neighborhood of old bungalows and new construction sites to the big hospital north of town in under two hours. Denver had exploded while...
\'in-glish\

\’in-glish\

I learned to speak English in preschool, at two and a half years old, still young enough to do away with any lingering Chinese accent. Though, sometimes, I wonder if every trace had been scrubbed away, listening intently to my own voice rattling around in my skull for signs of foreignness. The cheery teachers sang...
Blue

Blue

Years ago, Dad, you asked me at midnight to come outside. I followed you—of course I did—out of our house, into the humid dark. My feet brushed against the cool lick of grass, my hair lay still against my face in the unmoving night. Crickets whispered. A car on 55th Street hummed as you handed...
The Burnt Plane

The Burnt Plane

As Jason Murphy’s mom drove us to the farm, I wondered how it would look now that his dad was dead. It had been almost a year. I pictured man-high weeds and rusty tractors, the house dark and empty, the giant barn rotting with its roof caved in and black birds flying out the broken...
Eight Quarters

Eight Quarters

In his maximum-security prison, where I visit him for the first time, Kevin suggests that with our eight remaining quarters, perhaps we should try the photo booth. This is something he wrote about in his letter: how a photo would mean so much. I can’t keep the film copy, he wrote, but you could scan...
Fun for Everyone Involved

Fun for Everyone Involved

I lived with my father in a pink duplex. I slept in a brown velour recliner on a jalousie-windowed porch. My father, Fred, slept in a king-size bed that filled the bedroom, and I never went in that room, it was all mattress. The pink duplex was on a dirt road, MacCleod. Interstate Highway 4...
Punch Line

Punch Line

One night when my wife is pregnant with our second child, she asks me for a glass of water. It’s late, and though it is a minor request, I still grumble as I sleepwalk to the kitchen. Who can say what time it is? Even the clocks are asleep. But the water is there, and...
Fast Food

Fast Food

The snow-white husky under the pew in the foyer is watching the humans at the butcher block table in the middle of the kitchen. The father in the suede suit coat has been back from his job twenty-two minutes and forty-eight seconds, and is eating eleven peanuts cracked open from their shells, three smears of...
A Conversation with My Father

A Conversation with My Father

My father is eighty-six years old and sitting in his reclining chair in the living room. He beckons me to sit on the footstool. He has a request. “I would like you to write a script and make a movie about your mother,” he says. “Her life story,” he adds. I want to please him,...
Things She Says

Things She Says

about things she said I never said that. You’re making that up. Stop making things up. Stop making things up about me.   in praise Stop making that up: No one hates you. Everyone is jealous. Everyone falls in love with you. My gorgeous girl. Lots of men will fall in love with you. You’re...
Calcification

Calcification

Less than a year had passed since my mother died from a burst valve in a heart no one knew was faulty. That’s raw when you’re ten. And then Buttercup died. Buttercup was an albino guinea pig with eyes like maraschino cherries. She wasn’t mine. Samantha owned Buttercup, loved her. She gave the rodent a...
Little Lesson on How to Be

Little Lesson on How to Be

The woman at the Salvation Army who sorts and prices is in her eighties, and she underestimates the value of everything, for which I am grateful. Lightly used snow suits, size 2T, are $6 and snow boots are $3. There is a little girl, maybe seven, fiddling with a tea set. Her mother inspects drapes...
Electricity

Electricity

After spending most of the day on a plane, too young to drink miniature bottles of liquor but too old not to resent it, crammed between my amma and a man in baggy churidar, there it was, not quite as I remembered but intimately familiar nonetheless: Mumbai airport. Redolent with humid, fan-beaten air; dark arms...
Apocalypse City

Apocalypse City

It’s a friend’s birthday and her house is packed, so I settle into a seat on the porch across from a guy I just met. He’s late-twenties, in a beige button-up, cargo shorts and flip-flops, with a paunch and a grizzly beard. He’s a theoretical physicist finishing a PhD, soon to be employed by Raytheon,...