Chrstmas Present #3: I Have Forgiven You

Posted by on Dec 23rd, 2017 in Blog, Short Fiction | 1 comment

Here is the full text of my short story I Have Forgiven You, as published in the literary journal Metamorphosis a few years ago.  Merry Christmas and all the best for 2018!   Do you know that I’ve forgiven you?  I felt so unwelcome when I first came into your family.  Your house was overheated and aggressive with the smells of pine and boxwood, and everybody was talking at once, to everybody except me. My first mistake was getting engaged to your only son the same Christmas your oldest granddaughter got engaged.  Missy showed her ring and everyone whooped and hugged Joel and clapped him on the back and welcomed him into the family.  I showed mine and you nodded politely.  Well, I was 25 and already divorced.  And Tom and I had been living together for a year.  That didn’t go over with you in those days, when you were still vigorous enough to be judgmental.  Later, when your grandchildren cohabited, you learned to overlook it, but a mother-in-law is a more exacting judge of a daughter-in-law. What hurt me the most was when your judgments extended to my kids.  They weren’t potty trained early enough to suit you.  They didn’t eat enough to suit you.  They made too much noise to suit you.  Whenever something got broken, my kids came under suspicion, never Missy’s. I can’t claim to have forgotten, but I have forgiven.   Who could hold a grudge against you in this state:  gray and thin and loose-skinned like a baby bird, your hair a scrub of wild white tufts barely covering your scalp. I patiently spoon lemon ice through your cracked lips.  You close your eyes with delight at each bite.  I’m glad to finally be able to please you in some way.  I hope you know that I’m glad to do this for you. We don’t talk much.  You’re practically deaf now, although I suspect you don’t know it.  You never could understand half of what I said anyway.  You’d wince like I was hurting you and say, “PARDON me?” so impatiently.  I always talked too fast for you, in my New York way, but maybe, too, you weren’t interested enough to really pay attention.  It was only your own daughters, and their children, who were interesting to you. We always did leave a lot unsaid.  You come from that generation who kept things private and kept up appearances.  You grew up in a slower-paced era when people stayed put and had all the time in the world to get to know each other, so intimacy didn’t need to be hurried.  Your generation got to know people by the gradual accumulation of their actions and seemingly-inconsequential words over the years, not by gushed confessions on second meeting. I finally came to know you that way, in your own slow time.  And, by the same method, you probably came to know me better than I thought. I came to suspect that you were more like me than I thought.  I recognized the unhappy child’s determination that her children will have the childhood of her dreams.  Over the years, Tom left me clues in what he told me about his own childhood:  the homemade ice cream, the nature walks, the winter afternoons that you spent playing...

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Christmas Present #2: Merry Go Round

Posted by on Dec 16th, 2017 in Blog, Short Fiction | 1 comment

Here is the full text of my short story, Merry Go Round, published several years ago in the literary journal Metamorphosis. MERRY-GO-ROUND You are a skinny little girl, but you have a big round belly like a starving child.  “Barrel belly” your family calls you affectionately. You watch the world from the safety of your mother’s body, peering out with longing eyes from behind her legs.  Your sister touches bugs, runs races with boy cousins, and chips her teeth riding too fast on her bicycle and falling off.  She has black grit under her ragged fingernails, and her hair is always messy.  When your mother brushes your silky, fawn-colored hair, you are careful to keep it as neat as she made it. You are at a park today, and your sister has ridden all of the rides.  You are holding her hand. Your father squats to speak to you.  “Wouldn’t you even like to ride the merry-go-round?  We’re getting ready to go home.” “Don’t force her, Ken,” your mother cautions. Your sister pumps your arm up and down. “Ride the merry-go-round!   Ride the merry-go-round!  Pleeeeease!” You raise your  pale, round face to it.  The legs of the horses are at the level of your eyes.  They are brown, black, milk-colored.  They wear bright necklaces of flowers.  Some are still.  Some churn up and down as the platform spins.  Some rear their heads and show square white teeth.  Children laugh above the tinny, gay music. Your hearts squirms like a minnow in terror and desire. “Ride the merry-go-round! Please!” Your sister pleads again. You remove your hand from her sticky, grimy one.  The ride has stopped.  Another group of noisy children teems toward it. “Would you like to ride?” your mother asks. You nod. “Well, all right, then,” your father shouts, swooping you up and depositing you on a black horse. “A white one,” you whisper. “What?” “I want a white one.  One that doesn’t go up and down.” He lifts you and plops you onto one of the milky-white horses, one that doesn’t churn. “Okay?” he asks. You nod again. Your father backs away.  The platform starts spinning and the music begins its skipping tune. Your mother stands smiling.  Your father has raised the video camera to his eye, his cigarette dangling forgotten between  his slabs of lip.  Your sister bounces on her horse and waves wildly each time she passes them.  You sit straight, both small hands wrapped around the metal pole.  You gaze straight ahead, unsmiling, in solemn dignity. ...

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Christmas Present #1

Posted by on Dec 10th, 2017 in Blog, Short Fiction | 0 comments

Over the next few weeks, I will be offering some of my short fiction to my readers.  Here’s your first present:  my short story Infamy, recently published in the December issue of PIF Magazine.  You can read it for free HERE or order for your KIndle (for only 99 cents!) HERE....

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