always short and almost true stories

 

I write really, really short stories. If I pay attention, and listen closely, they show up everyday. I can’ t make this stuff up. Well, sometimes I can. Here are some of my favorites:

 

Peaked

When we dared to be honest about marriage,

we knew there would be peaks and valleys.

I just didn’t know the peaks would be minutes

and the valleys would be years.

 


 

Dawn

The coffee serves proxy

for words we aren’t ready to say,

just yet.

I’m sorry.

Don’t touch.

It’s not funny.

Still mad.

You ok?

Almost ok.

Miss you.

Love you.

Finally, good morning.

Two cups, one dawn.

 


 

Truth

For some of us, marriage is having a steadfast truth teller by our side.

Someone to let you know if you’re wrong

(even if you already know),

when you’re right

(especially when you’re not sure),

and that it’s time to leave

(at last),

and there’s leftover sunscreen in your nose and

kale between your teeth.

 


 

 

Promises

When I promised to love you forever, I didn’t mean continuously.

I’m tagging out for certain bodily functions

(toenail clipping, the phlegm season, uneven snoring)

and activities that are healthy for you, but not so much for me

(snow camping, hundred-mile bike rides, roasted beets).

Mayonnaise on sandwiches.

Possibly, soy milk.

Actually, soy milk is acceptable.

Forever can last a lifetime when we understand our limits.

And by we, I mean me.

 


 

 

Lunchtime

He considers the possibilities before him.

Anticipation, discovery, adventure.

Laughter, love, satisfaction.

Yes, this is the right choice.

Opening the pickle jar,

he commits himself to their shared life

and carefully builds two magnificent sandwiches.

 



The brothership                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   

The three pirates flew over the magic island in their boat

made of sticks and string and bumblebee wings.

At sunset they landed on the grassy hill with the lizards,

who were really gentle dragons

(who were really mama and papa).

 


 

 Lessons from sky diving

Parachute packing for one’s family is risky and tricky business.

Harder yet, to let them pack for themselves.

Trust is a learned skill, not a natural talent.

So is letting go, requiring several lifetimes to master.

 


 

Dare

Forever a risk taker, he was a daredevil, explorer, adventurer.

Rules need not apply when one eats danger for breakfast.

He’s older now, but not quite done.

One more challenge lies ahead.

He checks to make sure the coast is clear.

Leaving his walker behind, he rises and scales the step stool,

unobserved and triumphant.

 


 

Balancing

My dad was always the tallest, smartest, strongest.

Certainly, the handsomest. The one we could lean on.

Today, he’s hesitant and a bit wobbly,

a fall waiting to happen.

Dad is stubborn, refusing his cane.

I am his daughter, equally stubborn,

so I offer myself instead.

 


 

Giving

He always keeps extra change in his pocket to give away.

I suggest this might be dangerous,

because they’ll just want more.

That’s lucky, he replies,

because I have plenty more to give.

 


 

 

 Leg room

Traveling on the overnight train to Seattle,

a kind looking man sat next to me.

We made small talk and I offered him a piece of gum

before we both settled in with our books.

Two hours later, he turned and said,

“Don’t freak out, but I am going to take off my leg.”

 


 

 Overheard

“Ryan, I mean, what is your superpower in real life?

Like how Mom can see behind doors,

and Dad can open anything with his teeth,

and I am half monkey.

Everyone has magic.

So where’s yours?”

 


 

 

Next

 I am more than the fiction that arrived

on my doorstep, without permission

or a place to sit.

Unmaking, undoing,

unintentionally tripping over the past,

including what may have happened yesterday afternoon.

I am a mess in a shimmering universe of glorious messiness,

writing myself through the next chapter of life.

 


 

 Carwash

In his dreams, Carlos is a concert pianist.

He works at the carwash,

the one with the lavender piano,

just beyond the detailing area.

He practices during breaks, surprising everyone.

 


 

Controller

Eli’s gig as an elevator operator is the best job at the Chicago Stock Exchange.

He knows when to expect the ups and downs,

and masterfully controls

the red button that makes them so.

 


 

Crossings

I see him everyday, walking by my office,

eyes sheltered beneath an enormous straw hat.

Today I am walking too, and we meet at the train crossing.

His shopping cart overflowing, he nods hello.

I smile back.

We wait as the train flies by, and cross the tracks together.

Returning to finish our work, we head in opposite directions.

 


 

Unicornia

Our six-woman band, The Unicornians, began as an excuse to wear shiny unicorn horns

and make songs for every occasion.

It was great fun until one (not saying who)

believed we weren’t taking ourselves seriously.

She wasn’t wrong,

but we we weren’t about to give up the disco ball prance-and-play.

Serious One chose not to participate,

so we sent her off with a sweet ukulele concert and rainbow confetti toss.

We suggested she keep her unicorn horn,

because we secretly hoped she would prance in private.

 


 

 

Protection

She decided to move light, tossing her books, boots,

the last bit of guilt,

plus the broken umbrella that never protected her anyway.

She kept the silver compass,

just in case it might.

 


 

 

Detour                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      

The bright orange detour sign clearly instructed,

“Don’t be in such a hurry, I promise you won’t be late.

There’s an alternate route, made especially for you.

Open the windows, breathe deep, and turn up the music.

You have time for the whole song.”

 



Lifeskills at 60

Toss an amazing salad,

brew strong coffee,

arrive on time,

say I love you,

listen,

apologize,

forgive,

spot a scam,

make beautiful lists,

form my own opinions,

conjure new ideas,

get excited about yours,

look you in the eye,

mean it.

 


 

Rules

The book had one rule.

Keep what sparks joy, toss the rest.

I boxed up everything I forgot I had.

At first it was easy, but memories are messy

and mine resist organized religion of any kind.

I sat still for a few months, wondering what was wrong with me.

Eventually, but probably not soon enough,

I gave away the book and kept my life.

 


 

Settled

Maybe, California.

When I saw the name on the map, I circled it in red.

However, I wasn’t convinced until I saw the sign in the middle of somewhere.

A few houses with confusing front porches,

a painted wooden fence, peeling more than a little.

An open gate to a gravel path, lined with wild white daisies,

tiny perfection in their prime.

Home.

I settled in the mountains, no questions asked.