Beneath the old sarcophagus and inside the core of Reactor 4, there remains a black, molten mass. The mass has a name, though I’m not sure who named it. (Only a few people have seen it in person, and it’s unclear if any of them are still alive.) They call this black, molten mass the Elephant’s Foot, and if you look at it for more than five minutes, it may be the last thing you see. The blackened lava has solidified in parts and formed rings, loops like the bark of a tree. At its center, the Elephant’s Foot continues to burn. Thirty years later the wolves and deer and wild boars have returned, the sun is scorching, the mushrooms are scraping their fresh caps against the sky, oh my, oh my! And the core is still melting.Read More
I remember every second: the shock of how very hot things feel very cold, the way my finger stuck to the plate, the skin tugging as I pulled it off, screaming as my grandmother ran the cold water. “Bet you won't do that again,” she told me. “Don’t just do things because people tell you to.'”Read More
HEMNES, named after the Norwegian word for “home,” left with your husband when you asked him to move out. All through the days and weeks that followed, you pushed remnant furniture across hardwood floors, liberated desks and armchairs from parallels, and right angles, arranged rooms for friends who didn’t yet exist.Read More
I remember not realizing I was only wearing underwear and a T-shirt until I caught one of the responding police officers checking out my ass. White granny-panties with pink polka dots and a man’s neon green tank top with Kennebunk Maine written across the chest. We went there every Fourth of July. I’d bought the shirt only a month earlier. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to wear it again.Read More
My grandmother sewed sachets and other things. She filled these little packets with lavender or scented them with strawberry oil and tucked them into drawers with underwear or socks or shirts. I still have tiny bundles of lavender I’ve brought with me from house to house, dresser drawer to dresser drawer. The scent is long gone.Read More
He places his mouth over mine and releases a slow, deep exhalation into my mouth. I don’t pull back as I breathe it in. Ali and Jason are making out. I’m high, I feel like a cloud, like my head is separated from my body and for the first time this ethereal lure removes me from my mind and allows me to surrender.Read More
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.Read More
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.Read More
Love is adoring children so much that you decide not to have them on account of your shit genes, race, and gun-nut country. After all, addiction is an enemy cavalry in, like, half of your chromosomes—along with refined abuse.Read More
One day late in life, Alice acquired a husband. Our Alice…or so we’d assumed.
He was a small, dark presence in her house. Measly. Scrawny. Slope-shouldered. A husband, we were told, but in our view more like an ill-matched suitor. A timid if persistent petitioner. We could have easily ignored him except for the shock of his showing up in the first place.Read More
I always believed in blind dates, especially when arranged by my kid brother. He's the tall, good-looking one surrounded by beautiful people in the ad agency where he runs their biggest accounts. Then there's me, the bookworm—the divorced woman with two young boys holding down a job while juggling joint custody rules. You can image how little time I had to meet men.Read More