Retirement

Retirement

A chocolate éclair seemed like a really good idea.

Instead, she went out and bought new art supplies. A blank sketchpad, acrylics, brushes, rollerball pens with glittery ink. Stars appeared on the paper, vivid blue stars outlined in silver; spiky orange stars with tulip buds in their centers; gently sloping emerald green stars that dripped lavender tears. She got up from her new art table, disbelieving the clock that told her three hours had passed.

The Paratrooper

The Paratrooper

“You’re in Poland, in the southwest part of Poland. Can you move your head?” because I thought maybe he had hit his head when he touched down. Even in the 1 a.m. darkness I could see how handsome he was, but it was cold out, and dark, and dangerous, and we had to move quickly. “Can you move your arms?” His arms were crossed across his chest, like a corpse, but I was so relieved that he wasn’t dead, I could barely speak. “Come on, we have to move quickly to get you out of this field.”

Kansas

Kansas

Mackenzie held the reins while Caitlin, Sherman and Deedee rode behind him, under the cover of canvas and surrounded by pots and piles of clothing. Mackenzie knew to go west, but keeping his terror and uncertainty hidden from his siblings took all of the effort that he wasn’t spending on guiding the horses. “Where are we gonna go, Mack?” wondered Deedee. Mackenzie thought to himself, “I’m only 11, how am I supposed to know where we’re gonna go?” but he knew better than to say it.

The Choker

The Choker

Even as a toddler Geneviéve had admired that ruby when it hung from her grandmother’s neck; indeed, the whole choker made her feel bewitched and her favorite moments growing up were when her grandmére allowed her to handle, ever so gently, the things in her jewelry case – – except that the choker, with its already-dulling satin finish, could not be touched. But then Grandmére gave the choker to Geneviéve for her 16th birthday, from which time it sat in her own jewelry box until she was – – as her mother so irritatingly put it – – old enough to be responsible for the stir she would cause by wearing it.

When Dolphins Ruled

When Dolphins Ruled

The dolphins thrived and were deeply respected – – held in awe, even, by the other creatures of the briny deep. From ctenophore jellies to blue tangs, from purple spotted octopi to moray eels, from black-tipped reef sharks to harlequin nudibranchs, there was not a soul among the whole world’s oceans who thought ill of the dolphins or their ability to create and maintain goodwill among all beings, to employ their souls’ music to educate and entertain, and to hold in their gorgeous minds the maps of the world’s contours. The dolphins ruled in peace for more millennia than could be counted.

The Feather

The Feather

Every night Papa came home with his clothes, his hair, his fingernails, his lungs and his soul brimming over with grime and dust from the tin mine down the moor. Millie knew how to milk their only cow and Mama had shown her how to make the savory meat and vegetable pasties the miners took with them into the ground to keep their stomachs full from morning ‘til night. It was harder to know what to fix for him at suppertime, but every once in a while Mrs. Polcraft would stop in and show her something new in the kitchen, or a stitch she hadn’t yet learned with the needles.

The Hat

The Hat

“I know! But, I’m telling you, before the accident Heather and her daddy were always at sixes and sevens, but after how he pried her out before the car blew up, after that he could simply do no wrong. It’s true! Even when she made that loan so he could invest in Darren’s tech start-up and then it went belly-up and Ray couldn’t pay her back, she never said one negative word to him. And you know how she is about technology! Always going on about the latest, best thing! She had to be disappointed about that!”

Brothers By Choice

Brothers By Choice

Archie sat on the park bench, thinking about RP, about their years of friendship, about all the late nights and long weekends they’d spent together, drawing maps and scrutinizing budgets and leaning over engineering plans. He thought about how RP had, somehow, turned the kids who’d bullied Archie in grade school into their gang of best buddies in junior high. How in the world did he do that?

The Kite

The Kite

It was a sizzling hot summer Sunday afternoon in Annapolis, where Mario had come to visit his son, Ernesto and his wife Julia, but of course Lyrica was the real pull. Having grown up in Havana and spent most of his adult life in Miami, Mario had no problem with the heat – – or so he thought, as he wiped the beads of sweat from his forehead.

The Bear

The Bear

Everyone marveled at her nose for mushrooms. This was the same nose that smelled the bear before she saw it, or its tracks, or heard the ruckus it was making as it broke through the brush ahead of her, seeking his own fishy breakfast. It was Ogira’s luck that the wind was coming from the north, giving her notice of the bear before it noticed her.