Rosario held the phone a few inches from her ear as Maria chastised her from a thousand miles away. “I can’t believe what I’m hearing, Rosie. Who needs instructions for how to relax?” Rosario promised she would give it a try that day. “There’s nothing to try, Rosie. Just go sit in the pool and when you think of your job, tell that thought to get the hell out of there. Relax!” She told Maria that she would definitely go to the pool that afternoon. "Not good enough. You’re on vacation! Read more [...]


Timmy was struggling to get the tip of the coat hanger through the bowl of the bong when he realized how silent the camper had become. “If you stoners are finding my activity fascinating, I doubt we need this cleaned after all.” Scott shook his head like he was trying to break a trance. “I don’t know, brother, you’ve got a steady style to what you’re doing. Don’t underestimate yourself.” The silence returned for a moment before Kyle blurted, “I wouldn’t want to go to Read more [...]


Among the Boca Bay’s residents, the collective noun for Doris, Margaret, and Ruth was constantly evolving around their latest exploits, so when they met on the veranda to liquor up for Canasta night, Ruth knew a new moniker would soon make the rounds. She dreaded what it might be. “Goodness,” she said to Doris, “are you okay?” “I’m fine,” Doris replied. “Oh, the tan? Yes, I stayed out in the sun a little long.” Margaret cackled. “Doris, you and I have been under the same Read more [...]


Clara had no patience for Abe’s sour moods, whatever the cause, but especially when it had something to do with bowling, a stupid sport she appreciated only for its ability to get her husband out of the house three evenings a week. She hated everything else about it. He’d been in a snit since Friday night, when his team lost their spot in the tournament semi-finals. Normally he’d have spent the next day rehashing the minutia of the match and would seem to get it out of his system, but Read more [...]


Marilyn tried to see her sister as a stranger would. She tried to peel back the layers of their life together, to see Kathleen without seeing the snitch who sold her out to Old Lady Grady for snatching apples from the tree instead of taking the sanctioned ones that already fell, without seeing the girl who cleverly campaigned for vacuuming so Marilyn was stuck with the dishes, without seeing the girl who punched Stella Robins in the chest for joking that Marilyn had spent the summer taking advantage Read more [...]


I remember here. It was summer, hot too early, a look of something like surprise on people’s faces as they fanned themselves with their hats and hands. A girl with yellow hair, not blonde. She said my name was pretty. "Cash-us", she said, over and over like she was trying it on for size. On that bench over there, a woman had a little cooler, juice boxes for a dollar. Business was good. Two boys with star wars figures, the bigfoot and Han Solo. They both wanted to be Han Solo. Everyone Read more [...]


James smiled as he noticed the Dewey decimal number on the spine of the book, then looked at the cover framed beneath the cellophane wrapper. A Good Man is Hard to Find.  Flannery O’Connor. James had heard the guy’s name but hadn’t read any of his books. “Thanks Uncle Phil. So when’s it due?” Phil made a dismissive motion with his hand. “Take your time, I’ll cover the late fees. Though officially, January 14. So have you read her?” Phil asked, putting down his eggnog and Read more [...]


I had no business being at the wedding. Tracy and I had only been together for six weeks, and while I was smitten, it was quite early for meeting her parents and aunts and cousins and old friends. In my family, you don’t take a date to a wedding unless you want to get asked questions about your own impending wedding, and I quickly learned that Tracy’s family was the same way. We endured a steady series of inquisitions from curious relatives and each time I replied with the same jovial, “we’re Read more [...]


A full seven minutes had passed before Dean realized his sister had slipped a verbal jab right past him. He was usually on guard against such attacks, but she'd buried it in one of her sermons about the horrors of how fast-food companies abuse their cattle or how much water it takes to raise one pound of beef or whatever hot-button issue Mother Jones had most recently preached about the sins of carnivores. Whenever the topic came up – meaning any tangential thread that she could grab Read more [...]


The clock in Ronnie’s head didn’t run concurrent with the clock in the kitchen. Not even close. He’d imagine a project, something simple like fixing the plaster in the bathroom where a hundred too-strong swings of the door had driven the knob into the wall. It would be an hour or two on the clock in his head, but on the kitchen clock, that meant the bathroom floor was cluttered with putty knives and spackle tubs and rags for a full three weeks before Ronnie finally finished the job. Ronnie’s Read more [...]