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childhood

The Little Blue Horses

December 3, 2020

Rochelle and her mother lived in a large town that was on its way to becoming a small city. On her way to school, Rochelle often stopped to watch the crews of construction workers erect a new house in the hole where, only a few days before, one of her neighbors’ houses had loomed in sour glory, a car parked on its front lawn, silk flowers sprouting along its foundation like hair plugs. 

Polly, Looking

December 3, 2020

Polly’s problem after the accident, really one of her largest problems, was an inability to prune what she saw and what she thought, to stop her brain. She was both too easily distracted and too attentive. When she’d gotten out of the hospital, she’d gone on a looking binge. Ned brought her photography and gardening books, stacks of Sotheby’s catalogues he found at the local Goodwill store, piling them everywhere as a hedge against her glitches in language. Polly spent one unnerving afternoon flat on her back in the yard, watching trees encroach on clouds. There hadn’t been much to do but observe.

Muster’s Puppets Presents

Claire was coming over with her boyfriend—her partner—and Joan was baking mince pies in preparation, though she couldn’t remember whether Claire liked mince pies. It was difficult to keep everything straight with four children who changed their [...]

The Realm of Possibility


“I have to do the wee,” announced the child.

“You have to make a wee,” her mother said. “And I asked you before we got in the car, remember? It’s too late for that now. You can go at the gym.”

“I have to do the wee,” the child repeated.

Suffer Me to Pass

It was only a beer bottle I found in the middle of the trail, but it pinged an impulse in me to go. Get back to the car, give up our Saturday hike. I didn’t tell Cheryl, who stood by while I picked up the bottle and knocked off the dust. She’s known me for thirty years, since our kids were babies, and mostly she endures my jumpy nervousness. But a single empty beer bottle in the big, wide open of Oregon on a sunny June day—it was silly, even for me, to get worked up over such a thing.

Illustration by Landis Blair

A Friend

March 2, 2020

Margo’s daughter came home from school that Friday with a new friend. From the window in the kitchen, where she was trying and failing to make decent croissants for the third time this week, Margo watched the bus deposit her eight-year-old daughter, Anya, and some unknown boy, which was odd because the town was so small and Margo had often been at Anya’s school to volunteer and had no memory of him.

Sparrow

When the fledgling fell 
from its nest, by meager attempt,
by pinwheel descent,
and lay, unguarded,

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