The Queue

“Hey, is this the back of the line? Vous faites la queue pour—?”

“Yeah, this is the end. Whoa, back it up, buddy: six feet, at least.”

“Yeah, yeah, I know all about that. It’s not my first time.”

“Well then, keep your distance, okay?” Read more →

Last Summer

June
We are watching birds disappear from the window.
She sits in his chair, looking smaller. He isn’t gone yet, he’s still in the bedroom at the end of the hall, but he’s barely aware of it. The fact of his existence becomes more improbable with each passing day.
The birdfeeder twirls in the wind. Read more →

Lessons in Cartography

I don’t like it when people say I’m growing like a weed. In Madabec, weeds grow beside the highway. They get buried in dirt and choked with road salt. They get stuck living out their days under power lines while everyone drives past on their way to some place better. Weeds don’t go places. I’m no goddamn weed.

Neither is Simon but he keeps forgetting.

I guess it’s hard for him to imagine on account of his grandma always going at him. She’s meaner than a snake and calls him stupid and useless because he did grade eight twice. Read more →

Shiva

Ann first heard them at the snack shops below Bhojvasa, a rest stop for backpackers twelve thousand feet up in the Indian Himalayas. She was sitting at a picnic table, staring at the dusty valley and the white peak of Mount Shivling shimmering like a mirage in the distance, when behind her she heard French. It wasn’t the European variety of the language, with its sit-up-straight, staccato precision. This was French from Quebec. The wide, easy vowels were unmistakeable. Read more →

The Necessity of City Walls

Arnold knocks on my door and asks me to turn down the music. His face is red, but his face has been red since I was a child. Arnold doesn’t raise his voice. He stands sweating and straining against his wet white dress shirt until he’s satisfied with the decibels. Only then does he leave, puttering down my flagstone path toward the road, avoiding the lawn that is an inch or two longer than he prefers.
“You know you can always just text me, Dad,” I yell to him as he hits the sidewalk. He waves me off and then begins climbing the steps back into his formerly immaculate house next door. “It’s not that hard, I promise.” Read more →

Three Short Pieces

Any bad thing someone can do to you can be done in a marriage. Say there is a man, a woman, a dog, and scholarship money from a mid-ranked university, enough to rent an apartment, and find one. You get to the apartment, where there is only one bed, and perhaps not even a couch, and the dog is there, joyous. The dog never buys the groceries and it does need to be walked, and a jealous husband might refuse to do both of those things if he has to share his wife’s love. There is a bottle of pills on the bedside table beside the photographs, curlers, and last week’s underwear. The pills are for pain. There are too many of them; the pain-relief hours, at this point, outnumber the marriage hours, but not the hours of company from the dog. Read more →