Story no. 29. Some of my friends are doing a 30/30 poem-a-day challenge for April. As I am not a poet, I am going to try to update this blog every day for this month.

I. Now

Clunk. Clunk clunk clunk. Splash. Clunk.

Tamarla peeked out of the third-story window of the crag house built on the stone in the middle of the river. A dark figure stood on the bank at the end of the chain bridge. It paced back and forth over the dirty quay, pulling bricks and stones loose from the wall to hurl across the river at his door.

“Tamarla, come out,” a voice like honey and the view from a lion’s stomach called. “I want to talk to you. I need you to make me a vest.”

Tamarla the tailor eased the window open a finger’s-width. “Come over the bridge, and I’ll measure you,” he said over the water. Another stone arched through the air before chocking against the wood of the door below him.

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Story no. 28.

To my twenty-year-old self from my twenty-six-year-old self:
Please don’t stand in front of the mirror in your underwear and sports bra and take a “before” photo. That book Dad has of workout before-and-afters is mostly a lie, and losing weight is not going to make people love you any more or make it any easier to love yourself. When you find that photo in five years, it’s just going to make you sad to remember how much you hated yourself.

From my twenty-year-old self to my twenty-six-year-old self:
. . . wait, but I — we — you — whatever — we do lose weight, right?

From me-at-26 to me-at-20:
. . . not exactly.

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Story no. 27. 

The bloobie dropped from cruising height to communication height an arms’ length from Eliza’s nose.

She had been daydreaming, her brain somewhere in the south Pacific or maybe on the tundra in spring, feet carrying her toward the market without much input from her frontal lobes, so the sudden whoosh and appearance of the alien made her start backward, arms wheeling wildly.

It arched its neck down to look at her, antenna and eyestalks twirling inquisitively. It adopted the I-Wish-To-Communicate position: floating like a vertical log in the air, tail rolled up beneath, segmented arms folded neatly over its torso. She noticed this one had only four pairs instead of the usual seven.


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Story no. 26. 

Little Jimmy lay next to her for still, long, slow minutes, breathing. Emma could feel the weave of the sheets rubbing across her shoulders, the backs of her hips, the backs of her thighs. The afternoon was dry and crisp and brittle like the winter-kill grass beside the stoop. An air conditioner still clung to the windowsill of his bedroom. He mostly didn’t heat the trailer in the winter months; when it was his weekend to have Lucia he dragged an old electric radiator into her bedroom.

Story no. 25.

Charlie’s car was affectionately known by his coworkers and students as the Doughnut. The crash had completely destroyed the driver’s side door, crunching it up like a ball of aluminum foil and leaving a a crumple all down the back that meant you had to fold down the back seat from the inside to get inside the trunk.

Pretty much all his money had gone for his legs: the reconstruction; then, when that failed, the amputation; then, when he’d recovered a bit, a wheelchair; and finally the physical thterapy to get used to his technosticks. It hadn’t left much money for the car, so Zach, his younger brother, had rummaged through the scrap yard until he found a door that matched his ’87 Oldsmobile. It was pink. The rest of the car was brown, with silver streaks where the fucking truck had dug in its fucking claws. Somehow that made it the Doughnut.

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Story no. 23.

She didn’t look like a stereotype to him.

“Of course, this is exactly the stereotype,” she explained, gesturing to herself. “The scarf and the jacket and the falling-down bun — ” here she touched the side of her head ” — and the skinny jeans and the Converse — all the stereotype. I fit it to a tee.”

They sat across from each other in the ice cream shop just south of Harvard Square. She had a scoop of maple walnut with wafers crumbled over the top. He had a chocolate milkshake.

“It would have been one worse if not for this stupid fucking thing,” she said, jerking her head toward the limb that splayed out awkwardly from underneath the table. Her right leg was encased entirely in black plastic and straps, a polka-dot besocked foot just poking out from the very tip of the whole mess. “I was going to make you do something quirky with me. Roller-skating.”

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