Memories of running

I helped her sit up. Her breath shallowed and her eyes were unfocused, looking beyond me, beyond the hallway. She was so fragile, and I was careful not to jostle. She sat forward and I readjusted the pillows. I saw through thin nicotine hair to a grey-pink scalp, mottled with freckles and small sores. Her […]

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Just Ruth

“Ruth,” she said. I felt her in my marrow in the time it took to speak her name. The measure of a single syllable and everything shut down. “Who?”

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The Boden men

“You still a hound dog?” she asked. She reached out to take my hand. Even at her age – 88 – there was still raw sinew in her. Her fingers, long and crimped, wrapped around mine, and gravity pulled me in. The gravity of family. She didn’t look near as wasted as Connie let on, […]

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Tomato day

We sat in this same room, me and Ruth, before she moved away. We were friends, and we were on the edge of something that owned too much sky.

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The boys were outside, listless, pretending to play in the snow. Brady tried building a snowman, Sam plowed it down, rushed into it like a linebacker. Brady stood back and watched, waited for Sam to move along, and started to rebuild. There was a lesson of endurance there. Or a precursor of insanity. Maybe both. […]

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A conversation

Shoes removed, parka hung-up, coffee on the table. The amenities were done. “So how was the flight?” she asked. “Good, once we started flying. No bumps. Good landing.” “Yeah, good. I never thought you’d make it.” “I was worried. No bullshit, Connie. I don’t like flying, and the thought of coming back made the back of […]

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The Queen’s giggles

For a woman who hit 70 last spring, Connie looks the same, just a different version of the one I remember. She was always older, in age, in disposition, but now there are more creases, more lines around the eyes, and her hair has softened to a dull grey cotton. When I see her eyes, […]

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Welcome home

You always imagined you’d return as some kind of exultant hero, the prodigal son, back to reclaim your place on the intricate stage that is family. You imagine the flowers presented– sure, flowers, why not? – and the hugs, the warm eyes, the baked goods, the overlapping conversation so generous with welcome. It wasn’t so […]

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