Dusty Trophies [minutelovestory 117]

Posted by on Jul 28, 2015 in minutelovestories | No Comments

With knees like macaroni, she couldn’t quite lift her feet. White sneakers hip width apart, she swung her arms from her sides, outstretched and above her head, wriggling her hands as if she were signaling a searching helicopter, as if she were trapped among apocalyptic boom rubble, her zigzagged body coated with the silt of disaster. She’d smack her palms together at the apex, triumphant.

These aerobic inventions that reject jumping, they’re “Just Jacks,” she says. Just Jacks could’ve been a dating game show in the days when Louise’s own mother offered cigarettes in etched crystal tumblers on the Thanksgiving table, flanking the spatchcocked turkey. “You cut it open down the center,” her mother instructed, rubbing a blue-tinged turkey thigh with a whole butter stick. “You just cut apart the backbone and it drops open.”

Just Jacks make the dogs pace. They howl at her dancing, but Louise’s swinging motions and crisscrossing made them uneasy. Scuffling inside the doorframe, bumping against each other.

“I’ll walk them around the block,” offered Stewart, loosely tying a cotton sweater over his sunken shoulders and the dogs following behind him on the sidewalk look like those wooden pull toys, if you looked quick, squinting.

Draper’s Dead Body [minutelovestory #115]

Posted by on Nov 18, 2014 in minutelovestories | No Comments

Lately he’s taken to carrying paperbacks with us on errands. The other afternoon in front of the swap shop, he pulled a copy of Stephen King’s “Bag of Bones” out from underneath his seat and folded it back onto itself, the spine having acquiesced some time ago. It’s been hot this week, so he puts the windows down and from the motion-sensored sliding doors, I can see his pale right arm dangling over the dent on the passenger’s side, like one of those fake jokey appendages flopping about from your locked trunk, meant to convince fellow drivers you’ve got a dead body stowed away in a manner defiantly sloppy. You’ve left it alone like a fool, with inept haste, believing you’ve actually succeeded in secrecy.

Two nights ago, Anthony sat at the kitchen table, his elbows on the spotty lacquer we’d paid a West side refinisher to make sophisticated and gleaming, a part of my Hollywood Regency phase when I had a brass and glass vanity in the bedroom and a Dorothy Draper chest in the reliably vacant guest room. Drinking diet soda and eating sugar cookies right out of the bag, he invited me to join in.

Bereavement [minutelovestory #80]

Posted by on Nov 17, 2014 in minutelovestories | No Comments

I’m in mourning. I’m in the midst of bereavement. That’s it.

My walk to work used to be five hundred twenty-four feet from door-to-door. I knew the city, its walkups and its trees, its graffiti, some of it partly obliterated by the city’s attempts to sanitize its streets. I knew the homeless slumped on its corners and I knew when they were gone, leaving behind a stuffed animal in a baby carriage or a sleeping bag sprinkled with torn cardboard.

My husband brought me here. He should be grateful I’m in this new city as his partner, though I cry consistently, like daily prayer. I weep while grocery shopping and a kind sales associate with shiny hair and scrubbed skin offers me homeopathic cures and I bring home more and more supplements to stock our cupboards and my husband and I impatiently wait for them to take hold.

Everything is not all right.

He’s better-looking than me, did I mention that? We’re the couple people look at and wrinkle their noses and raise their shoulders in confusion, cock their heads to one side and I can see them wondering, ‘How did this happen? How did you two end up together?’

Penned [minutelovestory #28]

Posted by on Nov 16, 2014 in minutelovestories | No Comments

Young parents surrounded the pen of the petting zoo. A few mothers jiggled a fussy toddler on a hip. Most idly sipped coffee from paper cups, promptly deposited in the correct color- coded bin once emptied. Pairs of women’s legs in varying proportions, most encased in black spandex, exposed well-built muscles earned from the individualized attention of a personal trainer. A bluegrass trio twanged and plucked – the Sunday morning soundtrack.

One of the most lithe blondes, boasting a recent pedicure of Fireberry, black Raybans shielding her eyes, pressed against the spindly picketing, staring impassively while her daughters, ages five and two, both blonde, both more serious than she had expected of her own offspring, ran about with two geese, several pygmy goats, three chickens, and a tiny, delicate lamb. ‘A cavalcade of cuteness,’ she mused.

“You know,” a voice from beside her gullied, “those farm animals are crapping all over the kids.” She turned to her left. He was unfamiliar in a button-down shirt thin enough to reveal his ill- chosen black Hanes t-shirt beneath. Likely not even a parent, given his stubbornly factious tone.

She sighed and thought, ‘Let my kids run around in crap. They’re just babies.’

Vow [minutelovestory #96]

Posted by on Sep 17, 2013 in minutelovestories | No Comments

Nothing but you.
You are my heart. You are my rock. My reason. My breath. You are my broken down furnace. You are my empty bottle of white whiskey. You are my water-damaged book of braille. You are my first thought. My last memory. My stumbling devotion. You are my mooring. My safe place. My honor. You are my dream come true. You are my tarnished locket. You are my deep, unswimmable sea. You are my terminus. You are my forever. My beacon. You are my tattered typeset. You are my midnight addiction. You are my unlikely candidate. My dark horse. My dirty joke. You are my rooftop. You are my unlooped rope. You are my lantern in the dark. My overblown wish. You are my tower of dusty mix tapes. You are my luminous composite. You are my imaginary friend. My rabbit, rabbit. My reset. You are my best intentions. My compulsion. You are my arrow. You are my have to have. My anchor. My lingering courage. You are my opaque atmosphere. My orbital lifeline. My unsure thing. My last chance.

Split-Level Stories (for Jeremy Miranda) [minutelovestory #111]

Posted by on May 28, 2013 in minutelovestories | No Comments

I asked him to stoke the woodstove in the freshwater pond. He said the creak of its iron door reminded him of something like a narwhal’s strident voice. It was 3 a.m. and the ink and glue, showing us how we live and die, dropped off into the sea, where unsteady rocks gang up and insistent spray kicks into the yellow colonial’s first and second story windows and the homesteaders inside are satisfied still. They love that house pitching forward, listening to the sea’s adventures, adore the marsh running through their living room. Isn’t that what living rooms are for. For living. For moving.

Don’t forget, there’s also a spindly ladder pushed into that ocean’s floor, its stanch and devoted feet deep in sand, bioluminescent animals with no need for sight crawling around it.

It’s a ladder weighted by memories, I told him.

He says that memories are not stable, prone to distortion. Some might claim that they’re newly born lies. I say they are not untruths, but fictions, pieces hooking into disparate stories. Each of them has the capacity to be potent and mighty, like the long-gone teratorns with a wingspan measuring the both of us and even more.

Surprise [minutelovestory #54]

Posted by on Apr 19, 2013 in minutelovestories | No Comments

You so provocatively texted me “I have a surprise for you”, that my thoughts ran from the salacious to the sweet. I imagined naked photos of you, a tripod arranged in your bedroom, dim lighting, but that didn’t seem like something you would do. You could be, however, surprising. And so I thought you’d bought us Springsteen tickets, because I could easily imagine us singing Born to Run together, drunk on the tequila you’d snuck into the stadium, a slim metal flask tucked into the waistband of your dark denim AG jeans. Or maybe you’d purchased a silk geisha robe in the turquoise color I’d been wanting, but unable to find, snatched it up downtown for a steal and wrapped it in purple tissue with a tulle bow.

But none of this. No.

When I arrived at your house, on the Shaker-style dining table was a photo of us, arms slung over shoulders, heads tilted toward one another, a moment captured at a friend’s birthday party. I was wearing red and my skin seemed oily, a shining white swath on my forehead. You looked distant, wary, left eye smaller than the right. I’d never noticed this before. What a surprise.

Slainte [minutelovestory #66]

Posted by on Apr 19, 2013 in minutelovestories | No Comments

Gathered around the table, its two wide leaves included, producing an expansive dining arrangement, ten high-backed chairs are drawn up and the linen tablecloth once belonging to my grandmother, patterned with grapes and pineapples, drapes onto the laps of my dinner guests. Counterclockwise, we have Denny, an overweight reformed cocaine and sex addict whose wife, Tanya, 18 years his junior, only allows him to have sex with her three times a month. To endure these episodes, Tanya gets drunk on vodka tonics with lime. Next to Tanya is dark-haired Gretchen, who’s been smacked twice with the open fist of her husband William, seated adjacently. Gretchen’s told me several times she’s convinced William has sex with men. William cheats at golf and once killed a kitten with a tennis racket. To his left is Beatrice. She wears her hair in a bob and masturbates to Stravinsky and her girlfriend, Laurel, steals yogurts from the office refrigerator. Across from Laurel, Donna and Michael laugh at William’s joke about Gretchen’s most recent fender bender. To my right is Jonathan. He is extremely affable, has left me twice and embezzled money from my sister four years ago. To your health, flock of liars. Murder of fibbers. School of deceivers. Salud.

Signpost [minutelovestory #58]

Posted by on Apr 18, 2013 in minutelovestories | No Comments

“They flew like a saucer would if you skipped it across the water.” Kenneth Arnold had witnessed something blinding in the sky while searching for survivors of a C-46 Marine Transport crash in the Cascade Mountains. A peripheral distraction he couldn’t explain. Little green men were spotted in France. It had grown global! Kenneth determined that extraterrestrials had been visiting the earth, shuttling back and forth, producing outstanding monuments along the way, signposts they would recognize. “How else could the Giza pyramids be explained?” he asked his wife. After dinner, as Barbara washed the dishes, listening to the radio, humming, Kenneth frequently stared into the strange sky, searching for a welkin signpost.

One summer night, he dreamed up the premonition for curing human loneliness. Machines resembling sweet, anodyne sea lions would listen to the forgotten elderly, watching them tell stories they were sure no one else cared to hear. Electric eyes, dark and thickly lashed, would follow the aged and infirm as if they were sensate, communicating a safe and kind consciousness beneath slow blinks. Over Barbara’s scrambled eggs, Kenneth explained that the extraterrestrials will build these machines, the panacea to human frailty. He shouted, “They’ll eradicate our loneliness! We will all feel loved!”

Epaulets [minutelovestory #37]

Posted by on Apr 18, 2013 in minutelovestories | No Comments

From the kitchen, she’d heard water running. In minutes, she’d found Luis naked, seated on the edge of the tub, flaccid penis and balls pressed up against its unsympathetic coldness, shrinking from it even while huddling up against it as some sort of porcelain ballast. In her fleece robe, barefoot, Bonnie had asked him what he was doing. She didn’t ask him to leave. Luis explained in untroubled tones: “I give massages in the nude.” The strain of clothing rubbing against his own body, impairing the movements he wished to impart from his own to another’s, was brutal against his skin. Luis lived as a nudist, exclusively existing naked within his own home. Bonnie thought, ‘Like Britney Spears and Steven Tyler.’ The wiry hairs on his shoulders stood on end like epaulets. She stared at them, considering their profound strength in standing upright, the shower tile behind him becoming more and more blurred with her blinkless gaze. The closeness of his pale, naked form intimately behaving like a lover reminded Bonnie of something or someone, but definitely not of Richard, who had nosed around in their darkened bedroom for years like a needy puppy.