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BookshelvesThey were building bookshelves, the first born and the younger brother. Actually, they were only staining them. The father and the younger brother had built them the day before. Now the first born and the younger brother were staining them.
Actually, the first born was staining the bookshelves. She started it, and she would finish it.
Should I use this big brush? she asked with first-born self-doubt.
It won't fit in the can, he said with younger brother common sense. Then he'd gone inside to play games, and she'd stayed under the carport to stain. Three shelves down and he was back.
Staining is different than painting, she said.
It just is, she answered.
Well, as a man about to stain for the first time, explain to me how it's different, he said. She never stopped staining.
Well, the brush leaves these little marks where you start a stroke. So after it's covered, you have to go back with long strokes a
You are the yellow spring sun
on fresh yellow-green grass,
virgin grass that is studded
with white and blue flowers
and has not been mowed
You are the smell of
good dirt (but all dirt
is good dirt) freshly turned and
drying in the lazy sun.
You are sun-ripened tomatoes
straight from the vine
warm and firm
loaded with salt and pepper
with a good tall glass of tea
so sweet it could put you in
You are the porch swing covered in
pine pollen and
that creaks a familiar
against my weight.
You are inch worms
bright green and brown
dangling from the trees,
gossamer threads and
measuring the length
of my arm.
You are the first warm rain
of the spring time
that freshens the earth and
ushers in the brand new
You are a chilled melon
on a scorchingly hot day
with sugar and spice but
really just salt that puckers my
tongue while the cold juices
You are the moon shine on
new leaves in my
back yard while the
Cora 2:25She felt better after the cab ride, when they were slowly walking toward the edge of the city. They were skipping the bus because she wanted to walk. Marc knew it would exhaust her, but he thought that was her goal. Neither paid much attention to the man who walked out of the alley behind them until he touched Cora's shoulder. She gasped and spun, wielding her cast-arm like a club, and Marc made fists. The man laughed.
Easy, he said. I'm on your side, though it's easy to forget.
Aress, you bastard, Marc grumbled and lowered his fists. Aress snickered.
I'll take her home from here, the Enforcer said. I have to speak with Cora privately. Aress didn't waste his words and Marc appreciated that, though he felt decidedly hesitant. You can wait for her at the red sofa, if it makes you feel better. I'll see that she gets safely through the hole.
You'd better, Marc threatened vaguely. That arrangement sat better
Cora 2:24She wasn't herself. Or, more specifically, she wasn't how Marc was accustomed to seeing her. She'd been pleasant enough the long way to town, and she hadn't been rude on the ride to the sprawling house. But now that they were at the house and there were lawyers scuttling about the baseboards she wasn't herself. She was more brier than flower, he mused, prickly and painful if not overly terrifying. No one ever died from a few brambles, but they weren't pleasant.
Where's your kid, Cors? Gone to school? It was the man he recognized from the news, Harmon Lishene. Marc had imagined he would be taller.
Where's your blonde? Whoring herself in the coffee shop? She looked mad enough to spit, and Marc didn't seem to be the only man surprised by that. Lishene himself seemed pretty surprised by her words.
At least he's more your age, the millionaire muttered and looked at Marc. More your style, too. You deserve him. That hurt more than anyone would l
Cora 2:23It's not so bad, Cora murmured and squeezed Marc's hand. I'll take care of you. Marc looked down at the dark-eyed flower; she was petite, though he'd never really realized it before. She was smiling back at him but he couldn't shake the feeling in his gut. He felt like an inmate being led down death row; this would be awful. They were standing at the door and Marc's feet felt like hot lead. He wanted to dash away and slide through the hole, but Cora was still smiling at him. I'll go first, she said softly and dropped his hand to go through the door. He fidgeted.
She tapped on the door and Aress looked up from a file. He had a mess of papers scattered across his desk, but seeing Cora put a little smile on his face. He'd never had to rescue one of them before; he was fond of her as though she were his bottle-fed kitten. Back so soon? He was trying to be snide, but it didn't work. He couldn't be nasty to her.
I have a present for you,&
Cora 2:22She stood in front of the open door and touched her fingertips together, then lifted her knuckle and tapped lightly. He was sitting at the desk, scratching in a file with his pen, and he grunted something that she assumed was a greeting. Hello, Aress, she said softly and took a step inside. He looked up at her, over the edge of his glasses, and a slow smile spread across his face.
Well, Cora, this is certainly a surprise, he said and leaned back in his chair. She heard the springs creak and he tapped the end of the pen against his lips. This is Jacob, he said and indicated the chairs in front of his desk. Her eyes widened; she hadn't seen the middle-aged man sitting in the office. She'd never seen anyone in the office before. Jacob nodded at her and Cora took a step back.
I'm sorry, I didn't realize, she stumbled, but Aress was shaking his head.
No, no. It's a routine visit, and we were nearly done anyway. Would you mind waiting jus
Role reversalI'm at the funeral.
I looked at the text and rolled my eyes. Of course she was. Where else would she be? She didn't have to tell me about it. I already knew.
I put down the phone and picked up the paintbrush and kept painting. I made a few angry strokes and put it back down. She needed to know what she'd done. She needed to know I was in the middle of something important. I picked up the phone and fumbled with my thumbs.
Second coat of loam.
She should have known not to text me today. She should have known better than to text from a funeral. She was in Missouri, and I was going through my own stuff. I didn't have time for her funeral-texts. I slammed the flip cover and dropped the phone on the floor and looked at my paintbrush. The phone vibrated across the floor, touched my leg, then slid the other way.
She got the point. She'd interrupted me in the middle of something that was much more important than any funeral. The second coat was magical an
My lionAdmittedly, I was a rotten child. I liked to spend my time throwing rocks at stray dogs. No one ever bothered to stop me until the old voice in the alley.
Why are you throwing rocks at puppies? It was an old man voice, deep and gravelly, so I didnt stop.
Because I want to, old man, I retorted and tried to sound mean. There was no warning before I heard a yelp and felt dirt under my shoulders. I tumbled over and realized the yelp had come from me. I lay on the ground and listened to my heart beat. That old man had pushed me down, and now he would pay. You asked for it! I yelled and grabbed the first rock I laid hands on, then jumped up to face him.
At first I could only see stars. Then I saw the lion. He was sitting like a giant cat, and his tail twitched around behind him.
Dont eat me! I yelled on instinct and dropped my rock. He licked his lips.
Why not? I heard the old man voice ask. Was this a trick? I looked ar
People doing stuffRain. It was going to rain, and that was the long and short of it. He could not stop the rain by wishing or willing, though he tried both as he clenched the steering wheel. It couldnt rain. Not yet. Not while he was still driving the truck. Not while the desk was still in the back of the truck. Uncovered. Vulnerable. Exposed.
Please please please, he said and lurched forward in his seat. The truck wasnt moving, because of the stop light. The rain was falling, sporadic kamikaze drops on the windshield. He turned the wipers on and hoped, but they didnt move. He knew they wouldnt. The light turned green and he lunged forward, his feet amateurishly working the clutch and the gas in his almost-panic. He smoothed out and slipped into third just to catch the next red light.
No, he pleaded and watched the clouds again. The drops were falling faster and he looked for shelter. He was still blocks away from her house and he doubted hed make it
The Coffee GodThe Coffee God behind the counter shuffles foot to foot, a dance of steam and espresso. Black painted fingernails, inch gauged ears and a gray striped sweatshirt, hood crooked on his back. There's a cigarette tucked behind one ear; it bobs and twitches with each step.
“Non-fat caramel latte,” he calls, just as he always does, part of a spell, part of a mantra, toneless (just a tuck at the end). I reach. He looks up.
The espresso maker hisses.
There's something like a grin, something like a spark, something like a shared secret linked eye to eye. When he passes over the drink (rough cardboard sleeve hot to the touch), he lingers. Our fingers brush, a shiver, a jolt, a ten-watt shock.
The Coffee God tilts his chin, shouts, “Hey, mind if I take my break now?”
and ducks around the counter without waiting for a reply.
He slips his cigarette between his lips without taking his eyes from mine. I follow him out the door.
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