When five hundred naked gnomes turned up at the Felton Auto Body Shop, the whole town was busy spraying water on their houses and trimming dead grass and trees. Everyone but Fred Hale missed the dispirited group straggling along Main Street.
He expected the little people since they’d phoned. Ready with brushes and gallons of paint, he covered over smoke damage, painting each gnome in traditional red, blue and green colors. Boots were all black. It took a few days, but Fred felt a certain pride. Especially when the freshly painted group appeared on talk shows advocating for prescribed burns.
“I don’t say women’s rights—I say the constitutional principle of the equal citizenship stature of men and women.” ― Ruth Bader Ginsburg
“the greatest menace to freedom is an inert people; …public discussion is a political duty; and… should be a fundamental principle of the American government.” ― Brandeis concurring with Holmes in Whitney vs. California, 1927
“He (Nabokov) used words to paint pictures. Even today, when I read, I notice with pleasure when an author has chosen a particular word, a particular place, for the picture it will convey to the reader.” ― Ruth Bader Ginsburg
Quotations from Goodreads in a review of Ginsburg’s book, My Own Words (2016)
It wasn’t the first dark day, but it was the first the owls stayed out hunting until it seemed to them that they’d stayed too long. The yellow cast to the sky reminded them not of moonlight, more like cool firelight. But the silence gripping the countryside made them think again. Eerie and quiet. Cool and gliding from one tree to the next, over meadows where mice dodged into holes between stones that marked a boundary from one farm to the other. But the birds had eaten their fill. Dusky day turned to dusky night. The world turned upside down.
Convinced that the New Yorker publishes only depressing fiction, Homeland Security missed the monsters landing in Manhattan. The administration got involved when their Russian counterparts cited a credible report from The Onion. But, it was too late. Soon monsters were cavorting with city rats. If you think the aliens were big before, OMG. Hybrids the size of Teslas literally popped from the sewer grates.
Fortunately, the White House saw the situation as an opportunity. Democratic mayor plus vermin problem equals election year coup. It might have worked, except the whole thing was a set up. The rat-monsters wore MAGA hats.
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?
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.
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.
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.”
Anticipation is a feeling that I have when waiting for the red icon on the street sign to turn green. Cross to make a left turn. Across again. Walk three blocks through ranch style houses, their yards a riot of fall color. Occasionally, they look like our yard, their grass burned out and shriveled from drought. I think of xeriscaping the whole thing or maybe paving it with concrete. When I open the door, I will find you in your scanty robe. I will hold you close. You will fuss over me, feed me scones and tea. Then to bed.