“Sol, up and at em’. You’ve got to do your chores before the bus comes,” I hear Mama holler from the kitchen. I pull the bed covers tighter around me. I need to gather my courage. Today is momentous. Ginormous. I’m a little scared. Today I start the 5th grade. This morning I’m beaming aboard the school bus to zip to my new school on planet Unis. I’ve never even ever left Guernsey and today I’m rocketing to Unis!
It is late. Mae sips her tea, the street darkening out her window. Falling snow with flakes big and heavy glisten under haloed streetlights, blanketing everything in white. She loves the snow. She loves the stillness, with sounds muffled and distant. A perfect Christmas Eve. Silent night, holy night, all is quiet, all is bright.
This is Mae’s street. Eighty-six years she’s lived on this street. She remembers as a little girl watching in wonder from the same window – from the same chair – the snow falling in great soft sheets as it covered the roofs of the same porches and steps. Continue reading “Mae’s Street: A Christmas Novella”→
The window was open just enough to let in the cool night air. Bernice keeps the shade pulled low. From her La-Z-Boy she sees the bobbing figures of passersby as they walk under the streetlight. She sees folks hurrying to appointments, leisurely strollers pushing carriages and teenagers hand-in-hand looking so starry eyed she wonders how they don’t bump into other pedestrians.
Years of observation from the window’s three inch vantage allows Bernice an undiscerned intimacy with each passerby. She can predict who will pass by and when, their moods and styles of dress. Sometimes she hears their cell-phone conversations as they scold children, plead with spouses and set meeting dates. She listens. She knows their names. Continue reading “Prisms on Parlor Walls”→
When I retired, I resolved that once I walked out the door, I would never return. I let everyone know that I unequivocally did not want a fuss made over me at retirement – no parties or recognition dinners. I had learned the value of a clean break at one of my very first jobs.
Eric and I married in 1975 and we immediately moved from Montana to California so Eric could pursue a graduate degree at the University of California, Davis. I landed a receptionist’s position at the university’s Avian Sciences Department, a large department with more than forty professors within the School of Veterinary Medicine. Continue reading “A Pearl of a Girl: A memoir”→
The dress is hopeless. Standing in front of the three-way mirror at Dillard’s, I look at the way the dress clings too tightly around my hips and drapes slackly across my chest.
Reflected in the mirror, watching me, is the quintessential aging cowboy – six feet, bearded, white hat, chewing on a toothpick – leaning with his arms crossed on an empty clothing rack like it’s a split rail fence post. “Do you want to know my opinion?” he drawls. I catch his eye, trying to be good humored. “Not good,” he says shaking his head and scratching his beard while working the toothpick with his tongue and teeth.
A short story. Day’s End was published in the Saturday Evening Post’s 2015 Great American Short Stories competition anthology.
Frank reaches for a cigarette in his left shirt pocket. He’s been cultivating the north section of farmland since dawn with only a couple of breaks for lunch and to relieve himself on the tractor tire.
For Frank, cultivating’s a time of reflection. The wheat harvest was good, 35 bushels to the acre. Fortunately the crop was in before it succumbed to drought or was hit with hail, safely stored in bins or hauled to the elevator. Frank relaxes into the movement and hum of the tractor. Continue reading “Day’s End”→
I remember the summer of 1952 as momentous. Momentous because that summer plumbing was installed in our family home that sat on a dirt patch forty miles south of the Canadian border. I was seven with four siblings below me.
For my Mama, a house with no running water, not to mention hot running water, made any kind of washing task an immense job. I remember there was always a galvanized milk bucket of water heating on the old coal stove, ready for the men to use to wash up when they came in from the fields; and for bathing babies in the kitchen sink and our once-a-week sponge bath before church on Sundays. Mama filled the bucket with the hand pump at the kitchen sink and on Mondays she had the stove going full-blast to keep three buckets steaming for laundry, which included that day’s diapers. Continue reading “The Commode”→
I spent my teenage years encased in plaster. Well that sounds melodramatic. Let me start again. I wore a body cast from age 13 to 17 for curvature of the spine – scoliosis.
Clinically, the idea was that if a child, whose spine was growing in the shape of an S, was encased in plaster while growing, her spine would grow straight. Makes sense. Except for me, I didn’t grow. So, after wearing body casts for three years, at age 16 my doctor finally decided that a surgical fusion of nine thoracic vertebrae was the course of action, adding one final year to my sentence. Continue reading “Act One: A Memoir”→
Walt stands at the work-shed door and looks across the expanse of prairie to the highway. He can see at least a mile and a half down the road that cuts a swath to the horizon and on a quiet morning like this he hears the approach of vehicles before they appear in the far distance.
He loves the early morning with meadowlark calls rising from the prairie grasses. He picks up a small stone and throws it in a perfect high arch landing it squarely in the center of a puddle, breaking the thin layer of ice formed during a night of unseasonably cold temperatures. He never resists the chance to break the fragile ice on a puddle – bringing back memories of he and his brother scrambling, shoving and tripping, legs tangled, to be the first to stomp on puddles and hear the satisfying crack of ice. Continue reading “If Only He’d Liked the Girls”→
Elaine can’t believe she’s just heard George Gray… George Gray!… announce her name. Plain Elaine from Fargo, North Dakota’s name is being called across the airwaves on national television.
For decades she’s fantasized George booming out her name in his rich baritone announcer voice to “COME ON DOWN” on The Price is Right, the show TV Guide called “the greatest game show of all time.” After years of cajoling, Elaine finally convinced her best friend, Julie, to accompany her to Los Angeles. They’d planned their trip for a year and had matching shirts with “I love you, Drew!” printed in bright red letters and hearts across the front. Never had Elaine ever expected to actually become a contestant. Continue reading “Elaine Brown… Come on Down!”→