Seventh Grade

Every day Amanda Treese would draw hearts on her math warm-up when she finished it, and finally Matthew Taylor, who sat next to her, couldn’t take it anymore and he said, “What do you love?” “What?” “What are you saying that you love with all these hearts?” She looked at her paper. “It means love.” “I know it means love. But …

Twirling

  Miss Jeanette Theresa picks up a fallen branch from the water oak. Ozeal Autin watches her march around the front year. He thumps, thumps, thumps the top of his head. Miss Jeannette Theresa slams her feet into peat moss, an earthy sponge. Her hand dances around alligator bark. Her wrist rotates in perfect circles. She twirls. She twirls and …

Trombone

When I was a child, my father’s trombone hung from a hook in the utility room in the basement. It was the color of dull brass, with a few greenish patches. It was an unremarkable piece of household flotsam among the extra furnace filters, metal folding chairs, and boxes of old clothes to give to charity. He played it a …

A Rural Life

When the birds and bees die off because of chemical misuse, where will procreation be, who will make love? Only the Doomsday Clock will keep moving and gasping. Every field is being stripped. Big Dude tractors, and grain hoppers the size of two car garages. Harvest is part of mid-America; it’s what we do; it’s how we feed the world. …

The Martyr

Who are you? You don’t know? No. I’ll come closer. Your face.  What happened to your face? You don’t remember? No. Are you sure?  Look. It’s horrible.  The holes in your face.  Your chest.  Your stomach. Yes.  So many. Why are you laughing? Children laugh.  Don’t you know children laugh? Stop.  Stop it, please.  The sound. It hurts. Yes.  It’s …

Marco and Nothing

Marco looked at the empty space that his sculpture was going to occupy.  What the hell did he have to say that would be worth occupying this space with?  His collection of found objects that were going to be used for the assemblage lay in boxes and sat in bags all around him.  He had metal and wood and plastics …

The Letter Opener

I pulled open the small drawer below the wall phone and saw a point of silver sticking out beneath the mélange of business cards, a sticky pad, and a strip of lime green cloth. Sucking in a sharp gasp of air, I said, “I never gave up hope I would find you. I just put you in the wrong drawer.” …

Bulletproof

After my father’s third wife left him, he tacked up a paper target onto the center of the cathode ray credenza and pegged a picture of my latest step-mother over it. He towed the fridge into the sitting room, packed with Pabst. Beside it was a cinder block-sized container of BB pellets for his pump action rifle. From an inflatable …

Secret Admirer

You’ve fallen a little in love with your oncologist. The wisdom in the creased skin around his eyes, the sureness of the neat part in his silver hair. The way he holds the chart with steady hands, his intense look as he scans the results. How he turns to you, and only you, with his knowing smile. “Tell me how …

Taylor Boughnou

Reminiscent   To-day, I thought of you.  Who I’m kidding?  Not a day that memories of you, of us—how we were together, slips past.  How long it’s been now: a year, many years or was it in another time and place, an entirely different lifetime?  I try some times purposely, pretending not to remember those times or you.  But it …

Now, Then

I’m fifty years ago, at a party, drinking a martini and smoking a cigarette.  I’m wearing my suit and tie and idly listening to little pieces of three different conversations.  Wasn’t West Side Story a wonderful movie?  How about the new president and his promise to have a man on the moon by decade’s end?  Is there going to be …

Commercial Pilot

My alcoholism was never once suspected. I had made it a strict habit not to get completely bombed under twenty-four hours before flight. Much of the time outside of flying and the twenty-four hours prior to flight time, is obliterated. I have a home in Los Angeles, and I have a home Pittsburgh. I have had two marriages, and remember …