Leslie squinted at the menu and willed her stomach to coöperate. She’d done her regular half hour on the stair master, and sat in the steam room for a good 20 minutes. That had always worked before to sweat out a hangover. Maybe she was getting old. Thirty and change was when things caught up to you, she’d always heard, but didn’t want to believe. The overhead light caught on the heavy silver
In the Carl’s Jr. parking lot across the street, two teenage boys in hanging-open red Carl’s Jr. shirts were arguing with a square woman who was standing in the drive-through lane. Parked at the pick-up window was a dingy white minivan with a punched-out headlight. The woman stabbed a finger into the air between her and the teenagers. One of the teenagers clutched his belt with a fist as if
I woke up missing my big toe, my hair in a mullet, and with a half-eaten donut on the bedside commode. A shepherd preached in the courtyard and the witch had parked her broom in the middle of the drive. Some kids were smacking each other silly with its funny end.
I clambered up from the linens, grabbed the donut and headed to the yard.
The kids pointed at my hair and the oozing stump of toe.
One of the men mentions buoyancy, and that’s when I know: they’re talking about me.
I had suspected. This is our third day in the same hotel, the third day I’ve ventured down to the pool in early evening to catch what gold remained from the day, and the third time four bespectacled Australian men pulled lounge chairs up poolside to face me and talk together while I swam.
It’s a small
in memory of José Saramago
I don’t remember when I stopped being able to hear. That makes it worse. There’s no moment I can hold up and point to and say Look. It happened to me also.
I know the day that it happened, I do. When the whole audible world is replaced by a dull shush, that’s a milestone. You mark the date. For me: workweek, Tuesday, at the bank. Sometime after lunch I
Jethrob Macromanni’s only real friend was a nameless horse. He would take the horse on long walks to the town lake and that was normal. He would also ride the horse to and from the bar—because of that the horse had a reputation around town.
Jethrob would tie the horse to the hitching rail out front of the bar and drink all night; he, notoriously, would get blackout drunk, so the people there
Nell hung up the phone and turned to her sister. “I need you to drive me down there.”
“You still haven’t learned how to drive?” Agnes had just come in from the storm. She had an umbrella, but she was still soaking wet. “Where did they take him?”
I did too much for her, but Pnina emailed to say the lamps would be ten dollars for the pair and she had to have them. Small, steel, bedside lamps with cat-print shades. Pnina had asked me to execute the deal, because she wasn’t very happy about driving, even on cool, calm, sunny Sunday mornings.
“Imagine it, Pnina,” I said, “Having a big fat ice cream sandwich for breakfast, a
Everyone just calls me Al. Well, not everyone, exactly, as I do not have that many friends here in this country, but all those who do call me Al. You can call me Al.
It makes me laugh how mixed up you Americans are. You get everything so completely wrong that I am laughing so hard! For instance, I read that you think we communicate among ourselves by placing notices in those hugely thick
There’s nothing quite like the Chinese educational system, where by the very same formulas that are drilled in the students’ heads day in and day out, concrete “this-is-the-answer” studying is added and multiplied to compose a single adolescent’s entire life. I’d walk the hallways of Beijing Number 80 High School marveling at the head in front of me. It was always craned over a book, rich with
Each night this necklace cools
till its fever smells from silk
covers the dirt with buttons
and sleeves helping you reach
for a stone small enough to swallow
though it’s her mouth that’s lifted
that stakes everything on a single rock
for shoreline –just like that! a tiny pill
taken with water and you find yourself
Standing, hunched, in his bedroom, he would plan to pack the bare essentials—one pair each of underwear and socks, one t-shirt for each day, one pair of jeans, a collared shirt—but would end up frustrated, confused.
Which underwear, for example, looked best on him? Which fit in such a way, or were made from such materials, that caused his genitals to sweat the least? And which, of these, might
Gavin, a middle school history teacher, stood in line at the supermarket, ducking his head, trying to go unnoticed. Though he only had a few items, he hated the self-check machines, afraid he’d make a mistake or the price wouldn’t ring up right. Some of the employees were his former students: conversations like scripts from bad commercials he couldn’t suffer through again. So he waited in the express
Gently, Dr. Sukimoto suggests it is time for Sharon to get her affairs in order. Dr. Sukimoto is her favorite oncologist. The flaps of hair on either side of his face remind her of the soft ears of a beagle. When he says these words, Sharon, whose dissertation chair a dozen years ago complained she had an undisciplined mind, has an errant thought. She imagines not a will, but a daisy chain of names.
A country grows, waters its deserts, raises its children, cultivates trees, constructs cities, opens schools, equips hospitals, defends its borders, builds skyscrapers, programs its computers, fights a necessary war, accepts immigrants, starts businesses, names its restaurants bistro or gourmet, goes to another war and then another. This is when minions work for their masters, dogs bite every stranger,