Somber men in charcoal suits carried the empty casket. Uma watched, stricken, as they lowered it into the gaping hole beneath the sycamore tree. That crowd that gathered was silent, many still struggling to come to grips with the reality that had brought them all together in this moment.
Summer rain pattered on the rooftop like some incessant drummer pat-pat-patting this Wilmington, Delaware home. Horace Karl played an augmented reality game when the door opened. There was a shuffle of wet coats and an umbrella in the mudroom that aroused Karl’s attention.
“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” The old nursery rhyme played over and over in her mind as the barrage of insults kept coming. For hours she had sat in a stony silence with tears streaming down her face and reciting the rhyme to herself.
I woke up the next morning in a daze. My alarm blared its loud melody to wake me from an angry slumber. I had no desire to get up and join my girls for brunch.
Darren let out a deep, worried sigh. “Fuck.” Joyce sat patiently picking at her hash browns as he took in the news. An uncomfortable silence lingered, before Darren offered his hesitant thoughts. “Okay. Okay, well, fine. We’ll be fine. I’m doing good at work; we can move to the suburbs, somewhere where the schools are good. You might need to quit your job, but I can take care of us. I’m sure my parents would—"
A dry Arizona day did not prepare me for my day. It started as clockwork with school and my part time apprenticeship before waiting for an alternative transportation in the evening. I made a quick request and waited for my ride after exchanging and signing paperwork to the toll truck.
Barbara ‘Babs’ Butterford rose from her seat with a suddenness that attacked her once in a while
, and often when doing so, sent her broken framed glasses askew.
Peter and Fred boarded a plane six days after I arrived in Beijing. I was busying myself snapping photos at every turn, recording expenses and conversations, for the Travel feature. The sunlight slanted across my frequent haunt, the Palace Museum, in the early mornings of a beautiful spring. I satisfied my homesickness for Washington, D.C. by wandering through this temple to the arts. For the sake of the article, I’d also visited the typical tourist destinations of China, and was now preparing to tour various Buddhist temples in and around the city. I set out for Biyun Si, the Temple of the Azure Clouds. I never got to any temple beyond it.
Disaster; this is how 23 year old NYU art student Clara Reynolds feels tonight and her wryly long brown hair that is thrown in a messy bun is the first clue. Drowned in oversized clothing with period cramps stabbing her stomach, she could only manage to sprawl out on her couch in front of the TV. Her studio apartment smells of pure muliebrity instead of the ink smell that Clara’s art career usually generates, making her freckled covered nose flinch. No bra, no appetite, no self confidence, and no desire to join the happy people on the streets of New York living their best lives, Clara’s eyes are glued to the TV. Well not entirely glued, because even though it is only approaching 5 pm her eyelids slowly closed and for 3 minutes she peacefully dozed off. That of course ends when New York needs to remind the poor girl that the city doesn’t sleep, and she bounces at the sounds of the cabs or homeless people.
Gemma found herself staring out the window at work, a little diner in Whitefish Montana, as she often did when she got distracted by the noise from the nearby Amtrak station. Listening closely, the hustle and bustle was just starting, which meant that the once daily passenger train to Seattle would be arriving soon, probably in about 90 minutes. A swift glance at the clock assured her that her guess was pretty accurate, meaning that a few soon-to-be-passengers would drop by for a quick bite to eat before boarding, something she’d often thought about doing herself, just jumping on the train, and seeing where it took her, but never having had the courage to actually do. Just as she had this thought, the bell above the door tinkled, and she found herself staring open-mouthed at the man who’d just walked in.
It was late in the evening, and we were on a date. Nothing fancy, just a movie followed by dinner. We were talking about how uncomfortable Midsommar made us feel, but at the same time, I found it kind of enlightening. Cris didn't like that. Cris was my middle school crush, cliche huh? Finally, after all these years and rejections here and there throughout high school, he decided to ask me out. Said he had been "meaning to ask me for a while" apparently, I guess people really do change after college, but I digress. He was the one driving. We were on the freeway when someone crashed in front of us. He pressed hard on the brakes, causing him to stop just in time, but the car behind rammed into us along with the car in the next lane, causing our car to flip multiple times. Next thing I know, Cris and I were on the floor. I kept hearing him say to me that everything was gonna be okay, but I knew it was bad. My body was in such excruciating pain that I knew I was dying. It was getting harder to breathe and I was also starting to lose feeling in my legs and arms. He told me to count the birds that were in the sky so I wouldn’t leave him alone. I started counting them, but after five I started closing my eyes little by little. “No! You can’t leave me, please!” I could hear his voice fading away and was replaced by an intense high pitched sound instead. I could see the lights of the ambulance reflecting on his face.