C.S Lewis got it right: friendship is born when one person says to another: "What! You too? I thought I was the only one!"
Fish & Chips
I’m so desperate for a break from this muddy and uncertain Spring of 2021 that the drive to the Berkshires seems like a vacation all its own. I’m setting off in the morning to solve a minor mystery. In high school and college I worked at a restaurant. A tiny place, a dozen tables, and a robust takeout business. Fish and chips cooked to order, to the specifications of a long dead Irishman. An online review once described it as having great food, but looking like someplace out of Deliverance. They were not wrong. My memories of my teens and early 20s are all tied up in the place. Sneaking cigarettes out back between orders. A beer at closing. The inevitable dating of the hot dishwasher. And last week, someone went there to find me and leave me a message.
Tat, tat-tat, tat her pen nervously taps the empty page. I’m not a singer. Poet? yes. Singer? No. What was I thinking? Anna ponders to herself, as she tosses the pen onto the table. “Ahhhha!” She pulls the pencil out of her bun, flips her head back, and her long brown curls waterfall over the iron chair; as her eyes yearn for inspiration in the sky.
Small Daily Words
Beth plopped down on the couch. She was tired. As much as she like being an RN, the 12hr shifts were just long. The sound of call lights and IV pump alarms echoed in her ears. It felt so good to put her aching feet up. She ran her finger through her short, black hair. At 42, this wasn’t getting any easier. After a moment and a few deep breaths, she grabbed her pen and her little black notebook. Time for her evening ritual. She enjoyed jotting down things she had noticed throughout the day, little things worth remembering. It was a habit she began in high school. Over the years, she had developed a collection of such books filled with everything from treasured personal moments; to nursing life anecdotes, usually involving her patients; to encounters at the coffee shop; or the way the leaves had fallen from the tree that morning. Once smartphones came along, she tried a couple of different apps, but it wasn’t the same. To her, there was just something about the visceral experience of pen and paper that made all the difference.
Prior to her father’s death, Jessica had only seen John maybe once or twice a year at family gatherings. She liked him well enough. She knew him to be kind and a little eccentric—but for most of her life, he was never really more than her father’s business partner.
Just Another Day
The Little Black Book Penny looked on in amusement as her co-worker danced around the kitchen. She always looked forward to her shift on a Friday. It was the only day of the week she and Wendy worked together and they made a good team. She loved a good work atmosphere, but then again, who didn't? It made the day pass quicker.
When Rose opened her mailbox at her new apartment, she was surprised it was already packed with mail. All her bills transferred over, even junk mail found a way to her. But the orange pamphlet made no sense. There was no return address, just her first name written neatly in cursive.
This all started when we met almost a lifetime ago. We grew up in the same neighborhood, on the same block, three houses down from one another. Our parents were close because they moved into the neighborhood on the same day and were around the same age. It was safe to say, we would naturally be best friends, which eventually happened, in fifth grade. When this magical event took place, we were seniors in high school, both with full ride scholarships to the colleges of our choosing. Every summer we help the elderly couples in our neighborhood. During our summer before college, we united two people after a fifty-year misunderstanding, and gained much more than we bargained.
It was a hard job; there was no denying it. But the families made it harder. Henry should have been in a home by now but his daughters were still clinging to his ‘independence’. The fact that he was clinically dependent upon Mara made no difference; he was, and had always been “a private man, not one to make a fuss”.
The day I met Fred
It was a spring morning in Riverside Park when Fred changed my life. I always presumed it was him. It had to be. When the cherry blossoms blanket the sidewalk with candy floss, I always wonder what happened to him.
A Job To Do
Most days there are crows outside my apartment in the old sycamores that look dead in winter. Sometimes they try to get my attention; other times they are merely a comforting presence. A few days ago they catapulted me back to that August day just over 2 years ago when their relatives, the ravens, lined the top of the A-frame on Farrar Street. That was the first time I went to Matt's house, full of excitement and uncertainty. I was not sure what my future held and was therefore open to signs and portents from the natural world. Since the massive black birds were the only ones home that afternoon, I asked them why they were there.
Chapter One: Flight Her sister, Char, who was chaos personified, and mother were at it again. They were always fighting. And when they weren’t it was only because they were too spent from the last argument to do anything at all. Roaming around the house like zombies with heavy bags under their eyes. Avoiding each other until they recovered strength enough to fight again.
The sound of sprinklers carried across the green as they rotated. The air was cool, still early, though it already carried the promise of midday heat. The sky was a hazy blue, with wisps of cloud, sun still low in the sky. A little girl sat against the cool concrete foundation of the public library. She had bony knees, one of them with a scrape. There were grass stains on her white socks. Her long brown hair was tangled and starting to frizz up from the humidity. She had a huge corduroy book bag with appliquéd flowers on it, the bag dwarfing her small frame. On her lap was breakfast; a candy bar, and a can of coke with beads of condensation running down the sides. She took a long, satisfied sip. Both acquired via a vending machine.