How to Save the World

I think I know how she feels. In California there was an heiress who believed she’d die if her mansion ever was completed; the workmen kept adding crazy little rooms and windows and stairs to nowhere and were still working on it when she died.

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Shirley

The idea crept into my mind, and festered, that maybe Shirley wasn’t even a child at all, that our “daughter” was actually an underdeveloped twenty-something escaping the barbed poverty that forces people to prey upon the good intentions of others in order to survive.

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Method Acting

“So,” Tad said, “Did you see the aliens?”

Constance and Bill looked startled. As if this was the question that made the evening strange.

Although I was grateful to Tad for raising the subject, I also resented him. I should have thought of it. I placed my clog directly atop his sneakered foot and pressed down gently.

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How Good I Can Be

The cakes have cracked open and shrunk in their paper cups, letting out their final gasps of moisture while dying, still in the oven. 

“Oh, Betty,” I say into my microphone, looking at her with mock-flirtation, “you’ve outdone yourself.” Betty’s cheeks redden beneath their dusty powder coating. The audience murmurs in adoration. My timing is spectacular.

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Where Water Runs

We wrote a novel together. Leaps of imagination—gender, age—opened up points of view. Prompts took us into authentic dialogue, imagined conversations, compression and expansion of time, significant details, descriptions, revision, and research.

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SAD Season

Some of us aren’t meant to survive, even if everyone is constantly telling us how. Even if we have the blueprints for everything we’ll ever need. We just keep buying the wrong pants for our blood types.

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A Guide to Living with It

Walk among petrified cacti in Arizona. Drive through the disheveled planes of Texas where dryness has cracked the earth and made it buckle. Say, “I love him, but I think he has a drinking problem.” In the time it takes to cross Texas, resolve to ask this question, which isn’t a question.

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Chloe

We feared health inspectors. We feared someone with a clipboard and a badge coming in and asking to see the back rooms, the prep kitchen, the basement. At any time someone could shut us down because of the obvious rat infestation.

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The Procession

The tiger hadn’t reacted to the looming finger. Why not? the mother thought, disappointed. Just a snarl. Or swipe of a claw. Not to hurt the boy, of course, but because that’s what tigers did. The mother was pleased the beasts did not act like real beasts, but shouldn’t they at least have the instinct to protect themselves?

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Tragedies of the Week

Wednesday was quiet, for the most part. During lunch Jerry wondered if we might have a Clear Day (CD). It’s been nearly a year and a half since we had a CD. Sam, who sits in the Productivity Stall behind me, heard us talking and wanted to start placing bets. I didn’t think it was a good bet since a CD is so rare now. Sam is always trying to predict how things turn out. I stayed out of it.

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