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I had the romantic idea that living four floors above a restaurant on a busy street in a big city would bring people into my life. I thought it would mean I always had something to do and someone to talk to.

The people outside my window, the ones I knew only from the tops of their heads, somehow disappeared after 10 p.m. The city seemed to continue on, validated by the sounds of the cars on the streets but the people were sucked away. I didn’t know how or exactly when. …


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photo by Author

I rifle through unsorted boxes of paperwork and souvenir silk handkerchiefs, trying to find my lost mother in the folds. I pry open an old Japan lacquer box and smell roses. Inside is a tiny envelope, made to hold the card given with a bouquet of flowers. Ancient rose petals inside are browned to powder but the fragrance speaks of a newly opened bud — the phase when roses are most insistent.

PAVIA PLATE

The heading on a brittle piece of stationary, found under everything else, written with a shaky hand. …


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Photo by Alcy Filho on Unsplash

Sadye Lee was a small, trim woman, a woman with what everyone assumed was a large capacity for patience, the mother of six stairstep kids, two years apart each, three boys and three girls. She was known for her control over her rowdy children, her beautifully tended home and for never failing to get her brood to services every Sunday and Holy Day of Obligation.

There was a list of each special date the Catholic Church celebrated with a mandatory mass taped to one of the walls in her laundry room. She updated it every January when the new list came out. …


Eliza Josephs — savior.

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photo by author

She may have been born a child of privilege but she never exhibited even an ounce of entitlement. Her nature was sweet and pure, kind and empathetic.

She was not a healthy baby and in addition to some issues with her stomach she also had a cleft palate which required surgery to repair. Her surgeon did her best but Eliza’s cleft was deep and she was left with a significant scar at the midsection of her upper lip. When she smiled the upturned corners of her mouth made two parallel lines, the scar a third.

Thus, when Eliza smiled, the area under her nose looked like it had been smacked with a spork. …


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Photo by Aaron Katz on Unsplash

In public I do all the right things but can we be honest? If you listen closely to everything I say you might notice how I manage never to use his preferred title. I can’t do it so I skirt around it.

I’ve learned to allow people to think I’m sincere when I couldn’t be more ironic. “His Majestic Presence” is my go-to when other folks are around to hear when I’m forced to refer to him. If I bow my head when I call him this, it seems to infer reverence. On the inside, however, I see myself hocking a loogie onto his angry face and the imagining is easier if I can close my eyes and really see myself doing it. It’s a win-win. …


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Photo by Greg Rosenke on Unsplash

I’m seventy-seven and just two months ago I moved into a brand new condominium. My husband, Owen James Secousse, died four years ago and I just didn’t need the four bedroom home anymore. The youngest of my five children moved out almost twenty years ago now.

Since this is a story about my current doorbell perhaps I should fill you in on a few ancient facts. The place I just moved out of was not my first home. Owen and I moved six times in our marriage before we came to live in that last house. I’m not sure if there is something inherently wrong with doorbells but I never had a working doorbell in any of those seven homes. …


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Photo by who?du!nelson on Unsplash

Deevich, as Danielle was known to her friends, wasn’t old enough to drive yet and almost everything fun was at least fifteen miles away from her house. The quickest route to town involved Cherry Hill Road.

When they named Cherry Hill Road they could have skipped the Cherry — there were no cherry trees on Cherry Hill Road. There was, however, one helluva hill. Deevich had tried to ride her bike up the road once before. Her skinny, muscleless thighs weren’t up to the job.

That single time Deevich tried pedaling up the road (the descent was easy, just sit on your bike seat and apply the hand brakes now and then) she got about half way, moved her bike off the road and found a nice flat rock on which to sit while she waited for her father to drive by on his way home from work. It was a waste of several hours of her time but worth it not to have to feel the pain caused by trying to pump her 10-speed up any more of Cherry Hill’s hill. …


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Photo by Icons8 Team on Unsplash

My Covid cove, my bat cave, my caveat,

My Cul de sac, my home, my pasta pot.

Don’t forget my heart’s disease/

Maskless citizens, listen. Please.

Stick a cue tip up her nose.

Wait & hope the traffic flows.

Eight hours isn’t all that far.

She drives a good reliable car.

I’m making her spaghetti.

When she comes it will be ready.

Pasta, forbidden carbie food.

“Love Apple” sauce, my gratitude.

Covid’s pounding. Foreheads feverishly hot,

My Cul de sac, my home, my pasta pot.

A 14 day quarantine is necessary?

Just to make noodles for my baby…

The pandemic is raging. 200,000 dead seems pretty bad to me.


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Photo by FRANKYDEE from Pexels

Straightway Dangerous’s mother had too much time on her hands. Nobody expected anything of her, nobody needed her for anything so she was allowed to linger, flopped on her bed or the couch in the family room, with her face under a blanket asleep or when awake, hidden behind the pages of books.

What she was reading might surprise you. She might be lazy and entitled but Straightway’s mother had her head poked inside of The Poems of Emily Dickinson: Including Variant Readings Critically Compared With All Known Manuscripts: [In Three Volumes]

Straightway was five years old when she learned how she got her name. …


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Photo by Charity Petras on Unsplash

Go ahead, girl. The advice resounded, silently though, like a muted drum inside her head. Soon she could feel it in her fingertips. Just the beating.

Go ahead.

Her soul eventually intervened and she figured it out. She started crying because she really needed something good to find its way to her.

He knew it when she walked through his door.

He wished he wasn’t eating beans. Anyone could tell they came from a can and for some reason eating canned beans felt excruciating. They looked so stupid on his Chinet plate. He wished his hair wasn’t wet. …

About

Judy McLain

“I’ve been absolutely terrified every moment of my life & I’ve never let it keep me from doing a single thing I wanted to do.” Georgia O’Keeffe

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