Family unites us; but it's also a challenge. All about fighting to stay together, and loving every moment of it.
A Letter to Ed
Lena was in disbelief about her fathers death, but the worst part was finding out that he lived so close to her while she spent years trying to find him and his family who never had a relationship with her or her mom. She never believed in miracles until the day the balloon crossed her path. A balloon with a letter attached to it that was written by his landlord, Roberto Gustavo Rodriguez. A humble and kind Mexican-American man who had two apartments he rented above his house. Lena’s father, Edward Bartnik, was a US Veteran that fought in World War II. He was never the same when he returned and when she was 17, he disappeared. Lena had spent over twenty years trying to find him. She knew something was wrong with her father, but she never asked or questioned him or his actions. She sat in her car in front of Roberto’s house crying. She was nervous to find out what Roberto had found as well as to read the details of her father’s tormented soul. Lena held Roberto’s letter in her hand as she reread it in pain. Her hands shook from a severe nerve problem that she needed surgery for, but couldn’t afford. She had spent all her money moving and looking for her dad so as a result, she opted for meds. However, the meds weren’t as effective. The letter read…
The Bread of Sorrow Aunty Vero’s scolds resounded across my room walls. My room—my sanctuary; the only place I was me and felt at pseudo-peace in this world.
Grandpa is a retired pianist. Today, he is struggling to open a tin of beans. I have decided to plant some bulbs in the garden because it’s the end of September, things are turning brown and everything seems to be arriving at a sort of death. I think: it will be nice to have some spring bulbs hibernating through winter, ready to surprise us in a few months. When I come back from university for Spring break, there will be daffodils blooming everywhere.
Jean Luca was a singular man. His life was that of a roamer: not aimless, but free nevertheless. He was a stout man, salt and pepper hair, a beard prickled by the elements, and a stomach rigid with a diet of salame and fontina. His skin was leather, his fingers thick and the nails lined with earth, his eyes were a deep brown. In their reflection, an eternity of snowcapped peaks hiding starkly blue lakes and spotted with green pines. Jean Luca belongs to the Alps, he spends his life caring for his cattle, tending to their every need, walking alongside them as they graze the prairies of green. Every day his alarm rings at 3. The morning greets him with a sky of constellations and herds of fleeing mountain goats. He walks to the corral, close enough to still hear the breathing of his cows throughout the night. Water, feeding, cleaning, milking. Cerise follows loyally behind, wagging his tail as he assumes his responsibility of gathering his hooved companions. The sun emerges from the depths of the valley and the cows reluctantly trundle out of their evening pens. The cacophonous ringing of their bells echoes the squeaks of the marmots, scrambling through rocks and ducking back into their underground cities. Jean Luca mechanically folds his loaf of bread and a half eaten wheel of cheese into a cloth, tucking it away into his satchel alongside some logs of salame and his opinel knife. He has wandered these mountains since he was a boy. He knows them well enough now to realize just how insignificant his presence is in all of their magnitude, how menial his existence is in this flourishing and vast ecosystem of life. Despite this internAlized realization, he walks on. Along his way he tends to the hiking paths, adjusting the signs, repainting the colored wax indicators on rocks and trees. People come from the world over to walk the trails of Valle D'Aosta and Lucano treads solemnly ahead, his work unknown, his footprints concealed by the changing flows of a nearby stream, the colossal destruction of a hail storm, or the imprints of a German tourist's crampons. Most days are the same, bringing him a few hours closer to the advent of a new season or another cattle competition.
Good Grief and the Treasure Under the Coconut Tree
All that’s left of him is here on this old blue boat. I’m reminded by the sight of it, how he could care for people and things, but also how he could run away from life on occasion. I guess that’s how he ended up here in Belize City, thousands of miles away from a family that loved him. The paint is chipped and faded, but the functional qualities of the boat remain intact. It has the same stoic utility my grandfather possessed in droves and I imagine him beckoning Melissa and I aboard. He is gone now and this old blue boat is what remains.
The sound of the leaky faucet woke Walter up at 5:45 am again. “God damnit.” Walter slowly sat up, feeling all the aches and pains in his back as he did. He wiped his mouth with the blue checkered handkerchief his wife had given him on his 62nd birthday.
A Scratch Can't Hurt
It was a still, dark and fog filled morning when Matthew 'Matty' Hawkins arrived on the new job site at his usual six am. His crew, the men he had been working with for the last ten years (first as a fellow chippie and laborer and for the last seven as their foreman), had started to arrive shortly after Matty, grumbling and discouraged by the unpleasant start to the day. Libbie Kelly, owner of Flipping Majestic Constructions had handpicked this team when she started the business ten years ago. The majority of the crew - Libbie included - had all been apprentices at the same time. Now almost twenty-five years later, they were the best crew Matty had ever worked with.
PaPa's Black Book
""Congratulations! Miss Moorehouse , you are now the proud owner of this well restored 1948 Ford Super Deluxe V8 Station wagon."
Every Trick in The Book
Kayla and Nicole’s troubles began to build after the loss of their parents. Years of hardship began to take its toll. It was a normal day for the sisters, or so it seemed but little did they know, their lives were about to change.
In Kinsley's Honor
FAITH, FAITH ALEXANDER, Stay with me is all I could hear as I drifted in and out of consciousness. I could feel myself drifting. She's losing too much blood.
Desirae was born and raised in a small town in Louisiana just west of New Orleans called Bayou Gauche. Now this town isn't known for anything in particular, in fact, most people don't even know it exists at all. Like most of the community, Desirae spent all of her free time fishing. There were lots of great places to fish in Bayou Gauche, it was mostly water after all, but Desirae's favorite place was beneath a weeping willow by the oil well where her grandma Soria taught her to fish. It was in this spot that when Desirae was nine years old, she spotted a Loa swimming beneath the water. It was a catfish as big as Desirae herself, with flowing whiskers that reached past its tail fin. It swam to the surface of the water, shimmering gold in the sunlight for a few seconds before disappearing again into the dark depths. Grandma Soria explained to Desirae that a Loa is a spirit that oversees human interaction with the natural world and that praying to these Loas brings fortune and good health. Ever since that day, Desirae would beg her grandma to take her to that same willow so she could cast her line into the murky water in the hopes of finding fortune. She would pray for shiny gems, gold coins, and sweet candy, and even after two years of no luck, Desirae was determined to catch the Loa. She would run to her grandma's house every day after school, and the two of them would fish by the willow until the sun went down.
Another day at home in my pajamas. Ah, the quarantine life. It definitely could be worse. To be a college student now is arguably a pandemic best-case scenario.