The Lovers

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The law degree did him no good. The teaching position tied her down. Free spirits, Alice and Steven couldn’t bring themselves to follow a conventional path any longer. They had some savings. They sold the condo and bought a shack in the woods.

After Eden, the arguments about money started. He found a side gig writing briefs. She asked her father for a book advance. If it hadn’t been for that, they might have starved. Settled in and surprised at the ways their paths diverged, each found happiness elsewhere. Ten years on, at the station, they didn’t recognize one another.

The Star

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 He takes stock of himself, answering questions about love, work, and money from an online survey. He’d expected something to be off. He’d hoped it wasn’t him. No such luck. Noting the site is ad-free, he trusts the advice.

Find your strengths, your weaknesses. Stop coasting. Clean up, make food and share it. Dig deep if you want to find fulfillment.

He’s at a loss. He goes to the pound. Gets a dog. A sweet pit bull, one whose ears were never clipped. She sleeps under his desk at work.  Tummy up, vulnerable, a support animal. Co-workers stop to pat her.

Off the Grid

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My parents sent me to this stupid camp. Wooden cabins, steel spring bunks. You can’t bring phones. No internet. Nothing happening here anyway. That’s why they did it. I live my life online. They say I’m missing out. “Swim in a lake, hike, pick up rocks and learn to skip them along the shore,” they said. “Breathe fresh air.”

It did get fresh, I’ll admit that. There’s a boy’s camp close by. My friend and I snuck out one night. We played board games in the moonlight. Who knew the counselors did bed checks? What did my parents expect?

A Widow Twice

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Shelly never could explain herself. Not as a teenager when her mother asked her where she’d been so late. Not as a young mother when her husband left her a widow. Fifty years later, a widow twice, it was her strong belief that she could get along without a man.

Dry eyes, a straight back, Shelly stood at the graveside. Her bottle black hair, a concession to old age, matched the dark raincoat wrapped around her spreading waist. Her daughters each had someone. She couldn’t explain why she envied them the happiness they had found with men who adored them.

In Cold Blood

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A moth fluttered from the folds of my favorite silk scarf. Seeing multiple holes, I shrieked. It was down to tenting the house or murder. I chose murder. Moth murder.

Once committed, it became an obsession. Scanning the walls for tiny oblong specks of black, I stopped for every one. A trail of smudges showed my progress through the house. I averaged ten a day.

But a spider’s web had trapped many more. I had planned to dust the corners soon but I’m keeping the spiders. Though they bite me at night, the enemy of my enemy is my friend.

Key Deer

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Tent packed, sleeping bag in the car, Sophie set off for the Florida Keys where, at fifteen, she had ducked through mangrove channels, oars pacing past leaf littered roots and crowding branches. With the divorce final, Sophie needed a vacation. 

Drenched in sweat, she would breathe the soggy air, gathering the constituent parts of herself that had withered in a confining relationship with a man she still loved. She would smile at deer flashing their white tails as they sped away. 

Water sheeted the windscreen. Sophie pulled over, the car rocking, the wind howling. Wet noise covered her inevitable disappointment. 

She’s Not That Into You

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Mother Nature announced that her nephew, Dorian, was limbering up for a run along the East Coast. Not known for her empathy, the goddess told an AP reporter that she’d be cheering him on.

She mugged for the camera. “Don’t you love my new look,” she asked pointing to her melting ice caps. “Things are so fluid now.” She held a towel, maybe longing for a hot bath or a long shower. “Global warming has changed my whole look. So many insects, forest fires, new algal blooms.” 

She ended the interview saying, “It’s a new world. Get used to it.”