Here's a list of my short stories, along with brief excerpts from each:
"Robert Redford at the Salad Days," The Villager (April 1996), pp. 7, 13-14, 24.
Darren called those times our salad days. After his mother died and left him all that money. Our son Aaron was six months old. People used to tease me about how Darren and Aaron rhymed and how I should change my name to Sharon or Karen so we could have a family poem.
First of all, I didn't really choose "Aaron." It belonged to my dad, and he never had sons to pass it on to, only me. Secondly, I wouldn't change my name more than I have already. On my birth certificate, it says Arleen, but the summer before ninth grade, I started signing myself Arlyn. That was when Marilyn Monroe died.
"Seeing Things," Oasis (January-March 1996) pp. 12-24; reprinted in The Best of Oasis (January-March 2000), pp. 59-70. Nominated for a Pushcart Prize.
Mom says there's a pervert loose in the neighborhood. He's supposed to be driving a white car and have gray hair down to his shoulders. Mom says he's cruising around with his private parts hanging out of his pants, searching for little girls like me. She tells me to watch out and run like hell if I see him. But she doesn't have to worry because I'm planning to stay as far away as possible from that guy. Not like the old me.
The old me would've waved down every white car I saw so I could have a good peek inside.
"Ticket to Ride," Writer's Forum, Vol 21 (1995), pp. 75-87.
On the Monday of my driver's test, I daydream about me and my friend Rita cruising the neighborhood with no adults in the car. I dash out the door the minute the afternoon bell rings and take a seat on the bus before anyone else, right behind the driver. He's this old guy, about thirty-five, who doesn't shave and is always chewing on an unlit cigarette. Sometimes when I get on the bus, his eyes are glued to my tits. He never says hello and doesn't know any of us by name. All the girls think he's a pervert, and none of them can believe I'm sitting so close to him today.
"Kaddish," North Atlantic Review, Number 7 (1995), pp. 150-163.
Papa melted away one night, like the butter in Mama's frying pan. At least that's what my brother Sam told me the next evening, after Mama lit the Sabbath candles and said the blessing without Papa. Something she'd never done before in my five and a half years.
"You know how butter starts to bubble?" Sam said. "In a little while, it has no color or shape. It's just steam rising in the air. Well, that's what happened to Papa, and you may be next."
"Because you ask too many questions."
"The Refrigerator Door," Prairie Dog (Spring 1995), pp. 24-27.
"Two beers a day," Mamma said. "That's all you get."
"Yes ma'am," Boydy Springer replied, hanging his head like a guilty child, although he was almost forty-five years old.
If he so much as opened the refrigerator door after finishing his second beer of the evening, Mamma would call out to him, "Boydy, you come away from there, this instant." He'd slink back into the living room and have to listen, once more, to her account of how she watched his father, Ethan, go to seed from drink and how that was all she would stand for in this life.
"Waking Beauty," Potpourri (May 1994), p. 8; reprinted in The Best of Potpourri (November-December 1994), pp. 15-16.
Every day for many years, Mr. and Mrs. Thornton said to one another, "If only we had a baby, things would be perfect." But they remained childless.
One morning not too long after she turned thirty-eight, Mrs. Thornton relaxed in a steaming bath, covering her face with a hot washcloth. A frog hopped in the open window beside the tub and whispered in her ear, "You will have a daughter before the next spring is over." The following April, Rosie was born.
"Uncle Benny," Poetry Forum (November 1994), pp. 10-12.
I found out about my Uncle Benny by accident. I must have been about seven at the time. Anyway, I was by myself on an errand for Mom in my parents' bedroom. One of Dad's dresser drawers was open a crack, just enough that I knew I had to look inside. I pulled the drawer slowly toward me, and my hands shook a little while I cleared away socks and handkerchiefs. Hidden at the very bottom was an old photograph of my father's family. My dad, grandmother, and aunt stared back at me with sad eyes and turned-down mouths. But the other boy standing at the edge of the picture was new to me. His face was a blur, as if he had turned away the moment the photographer shouted, "Say cheese."
"A Kiss for the Dead," Muse Portfolio (Fall 1994), pp. 15-21.
The week before I started high school I refused to leave the house because I was convinced I was about to die. Locking my bedroom door against the world, I emptied all of my drawers, tore the incriminating pages out of my diary, and threw away my teen magazines. I ripped up postcards I'd received in return for three-page love letters to my favorite T.V. stars.
"Pink Johnny and the Chinaman," Flipside (Fall 1993), pp. 21-22, 45.
The first day of class, Johnny Pinkston ran up and down a deserted hallway in an unfamiliar building on campus, looking for his room. Each time he seemed to get close, the numbers jumped wildly out of sequence.
"Is anyone there?" he shouted, cupping his hands to his mouth. "Can someone tell me where room three-o-six is?" But the distant echo of his voice was the only reply.
Finally, in desperation, he opened a door and hoped he'd made the right choice.
"Unbroken Glasses," Imagine (July-August 1992), pp. 42-44; placed in the top 25 in the 1991 Writer's Digest Short Story Contest.
Barreling through the December night in Kate's rust-colored Mazda, we complained bitterly about insensitive boyfriends and frustrating jobs. As if these things were all that mattered.
"Why do you suppose men hate the idea of commitment so much?" Kate asked. I knew she was thinking about her own failed engagement, although she was still too disappointed to speak about it in the first person.
"I've been reading some articles," I replied.
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