Posts tagged "characterization"

Intro to Creative Writing

Professor Stevens dislikes donuts; the icing gets stuck in his beard. Fridays he breakfasts at Burger King before heading out to the lake, where he smokes cigarettes on the shore and ignores his wife’s phone calls. He idolizes James Dickey. He’s no good at fiction. The Department Chair’s out to get him. He strolls into...

Comfort Food

I woo Jeanne’s appetite with her favorite Southern foods. Grits, banana pudding, Miracle Whip, and bologna loaf on white bread. French dressing over cottage cheese. Sausage gravy over biscuits: pallid sauce so thick with grease that the leftovers will congeal, gray and lumpy. Tomorrow I will reheat them to mash over her toast. When she...

A Stranger at Dusk

Looking out the window of our front room at dusk that chilly day in the spring of my twelfth year, I saw a tall man weaving toward our front door. I was intrigued not only by his peculiar gait but also by the fact I did not recognize the man.  Strangers were rare in the...

The Moment

No sound from the kids, not for fifteen minutes. I trust they’re asleep. I get my tiger-striped chenille robe off the back of the bathroom door and put it on over my jeans and flannel shirt. I am that cold. Lately I stand sometimes for a whole half-hour over the floor furnace. Other times I...

Homeroom

We were the leftovers, assigned to Home Room in the Home Ec room, tucked away in an upper corner of the aging Horace Mann Junior High School. Inexplicably, our Home Room teacher, Mr. Roan, taught Shop. Every morning he climbed the flights of stairs from the noisy, oily machines of the basement, clutching his coffee...

The Watch

It dangled like a bracelet from my aunt’s wrist. Shiny gold links clinked softly as she arranged her hair in the mornings, curls teased and then tamed. The watch clanked against an aerosol can of hairspray, dinged against a crystal bottle of perfume that she raised momentarily to her neck. I must have been the...

Spoiled Love

My hands clenching my abdomen, I emerge from the bathroom and drop to my knees at the crossroads. To the right is my husband; to the left, my mother. Some instinct I thought had left me when I married kicks in and I crawl toward my mother, asleep on the spare twin in my son’s...

Devotion

Where I grew up in Queens, New York City, there was a boy living in the house across the street. His name was Sherman. Somewhere, there is a photo of the two of us from the day I turned seven: I am in a yellow dress and a yellow birthday hat, running down the driveway...

Closing Time

Pedro the dishwasher told me about how his sister died. We were drinking gin at a table by the window. He dried his hands off with a towel, ran his fingers through his black hair and described the way the hot water was still running when he found her hanging from a cord in the...

Tuesday Evening at the Rue de Fleurus

Evening drops into the courtyard like a black cat lowering its back.  A muted clink of dinner spoons spills from open windows into the courtyard, where the concierge’s dog yips en francais at a pair of American tourists who have found their way to 27 rue de Fleurus.  I sit and smoke a cigarette between...

Crosswords

My mother loved crossword puzzles, spending hours, sometimes, until she managed to work out the answers to clues like “bright colored aquarium fish” and “English composer, Frederick.”  “Danio,” she’d finally fill in, and “Delius,” and for a day or two she’d leave the large Sunday newspaper puzzle face up on the end table by the...

May Showers

Like this, the man says, smoothing a dollop of salve across his wife’s shoulder blades, over the rashes blooming there like teacup roses. With two fingers, he works the cream in circular motions down her rib cage, along the row of black stitches lining the curve of her spine.  Look here, he says, and here....

Twan’t Much

At the tire repairs factory, I knew a man named Jack who had no teeth, who brought the same thing for lunch every day, a fried egg sandwich in a wrinkled and stained paper bag. He had a family he could barely support, one that didn’t have, as my father often said, “as much as...

Snakes

It’s 4:40 a.m. in Managua and I’m shivering. I’m waiting in the entryway of the place where I’m staying, waiting for someone to pick me up and take me to interview the country’s young leader, Daniel Ortega. All I’m told is to be ready to run. I’m wearing sneakers, t-shirt and shorts, and I have...

The Potato Harvest

This is the morning that summer ends. In one hard frost our garden has become an abandoned battlefield, the last vestiges of the living lay stiff and frozen, black wilted zucchini leaves like limp umbrellas stand as pathetic monuments, tattered flags, over what was, only yesterday, a vegetable garden. Potatoes love one heavy frost. It...

Vitamin M

In the Navy, Vitamin M is the cure for all ailments.  Ship medics prescribe extra-strength Motrin, thousands of milligrams, twice, three times the recommended dosage to treat headaches, hangovers, back pain, stiff necks, fever, carpal tunnel, plantar fasciitis, even acne.  My husband, in his nine years of military service, has adapted easily to the ibuprofen...

In Case of Emergency

In her left hand she holds the vase he made her, heavy and cool.  His initials are carved in the bottom, deep ridges made of the familiar initials in the painfully recognizable handwriting.  They were there before he proposed, and they still endure even after he dumped her.  There’s a hammer in her other hand,...

Kathy

When I took Kathy to my meet my parents, Dad got out his boarding-school yearbooks. He’d never done such a thing, shown anyone the elegant 1930s volumes—certainly never to one of my girlfriends. I suppose her work as an educator made his sharing of that lost world relevant, but he also was showing a pretty...