Thursday, August 15, 2013

A Confession

               They sit over coffee, friends of many years, both married half a lifetime now.

               “How’s Jack?”

               “Jack’s Jack.” Grace sighs. “Always the same—like his name. Do you know that’s really his name? Not John. Not Jackson or Jacques or Giacomo. Why would parents name a boy just Jack?”

               Anne shrugs.

               “Annie, do you remember when we were kids, how we used to play being grown-up and glamorous, married to exciting men? I was going to be Graciela and you’d be Anna Maria, and our husbands—“

               “Oh, wait! I remember. Mine was…Thorne, or something?”

               “Thorndyke. And mine was Sebastian.”

               “What romance-novel names,” Anne laughs.

               “And we were going to live in a huge castle on the moors, all of us, each in one of the wings, and we’d ride horses all around the desolate landscape and listen to the voices of the spirits in the air. And our children would be half-wild and beautiful and love the wind and the rain and each other, and they’d have a tragic and passionate relationship like Heathcliff and Cathy.”

               “Now why would we have wanted that for our children?”

               “Because it was exciting and full of life.”

               “Gracie, are saying you’re unhappy with Jack?”

               “No—that would be more interesting. I’m ahappy, I guess—neutral. Somewhere in between.” She leans over the table. “Annie. I have to tell you something.”


A few blocks away, Jack, Just-Jack of the plain name, to whom she is not Graciela but the grace of God, is getting ready to clean out his wife’s car. He loves doing little things for her. She walked to the cafĂ© to meet an old friend, so he’ll surprise her. Clean the interior, vacuum, wash the car.

               He opens the glove compartment and pulls out old badly folded maps, her registration card, the manual, a few miscellaneous papers.

               Then something drops on the seat. He picks it up and stares. For a moment he can’t grasp what he’s seeing.

And then he does.


Written for the Trifecta challenge. This week's word: grasp.


Thursday, August 8, 2013


They begin to hear the screams just after dark. People stop what they are doing, look up from their dinner or their reading. Spouses look at each other tentatively.

“What was that?”

“It’s that damn TV next door. Comes right through the walls.”

“That’s not a TV. It’s outside.”

They rush to their windows. All along both wings of the building curtains open, shades go up, lights are turned out for better vision. Two figures near the bushes inside the curve of the driveway. A man and a woman?

“They’re just having a fight.”

“I don’t know. Looks like he’s attacking her. Maybe we should call the police.”

“Police don’t want to get involved in domestic things. Neither should we.”

A few go back to what they were doing, raising the volume of their televisions a little higher to drown out the sounds. Most are transfixed against their will, bound to the sight in front of them. The woman is on the ground now, on her hands and knees behind the bushes, blocked from the sight of some of the onlookers. The man seems to be gone, but then comes back, running toward the woman, who screams again. The watchers are getting more nervous now. They are knocking on their neighbors’ doors, asking what’s going on, if they should do something.

Look, nobody’s out there. If it was something really bad, somebody would be out there, wouldn’t they? The police would be here. They look at each other and nod hopefully. Yeah, that’s right.

Rumors start. Maybe they’re filming a movie. I saw some trucks parked around back today.

You know, I think I did hear something about filming somewhere around here.

None can admit the argument is weak. The noise subsides. They go to bed reassured.

The next day’s paper reads Woman Stabbed to Death Outside Apartment House While Dozens Look On.

They drop their heads, cover their eyes with their hands.

God, forgive us.

We didn’t know.
Written for Trifecta Writing Challenge. This week's prompt was the third definition of the word weak: "not factually grounded or logically presented <a weak argument>"

Thursday, August 1, 2013

My entry for Trifecta Writing Challenge this week: using the word "band" in its third definition of gathering together into a group.


The last day of July, and I can only sit here and watch it go by. My favorite month of the year, my beloved summer, getting ready to disappear.

Soon I’ll begin to mourn for the sensuous nights, with their warm seductive breezes and the way the air smells, the leftover scent of the sun baked into leaves, grass, juniper shrubs. The way the crickets band together in the trees, their songs loudening as the days shorten, raging against the dying of the light.

Standing under green canopies in sudden summer storms, waiting for the brief chance to run to the next tree, the next doorway, trying to outrun the rain as we try to outrun the onrushing fall.

And when July turns over on its back and August eases in, with it comes the loss that will be one year old this month, the not-yet-over grieving, the longing for other years; and the cricket song repeats over and over “she’s gone, she’s gone, she’s gone.”