Friend of the Bottle

She sits at the oak desk with eyeliner and gin, with lipstick and eyeshadow. The silk stocking she’s not yet donned sits next to the plate of lime wedges she had the foresight to slice after reading the letter and before unstoppering the bottle.  She sits at the oak desk and ignores all that’s on… Continue reading Friend of the Bottle

Four Thousand Kilometers Above Jupiter

I named the spider Billy. I was supposed to kill him—sacrifice is the term in the experimental protocol—after the experiment was complete, but I didn’t want to. I didn’t even finish the experiment. Why bother? Whatever electromagnetic event wiped out comms with the transport ship took out my exterior cams too, so I’ve been flying blind… Continue reading Four Thousand Kilometers Above Jupiter

Teddy the Tortoise

Teddy the tortoise had been roaming the ward longer than anybody else. Not even Audrey the elderly orderly knew who named him—or why he wandered the garden paths at night. Ann never admitted, not even years later, that she was behind it, but someone—let’s just say it was Ann—started sticking candles on Teddy’s back on… Continue reading Teddy the Tortoise

The Underside of the Fern

It wasn’t seeing the fern that had Liz worried. She knew the fern well. She knew every plant, every fallen log, every crossing of the creek that wound through the birch forest near the old farmhouse she shared with her grandmother. Had been watching it grow for years. But she wondered why she was looking… Continue reading The Underside of the Fern

Special Delivery

The mailboxes were Cliff’s brainwave. He called ‘em antioxidants because he read in some newsletter that clutter was a cancer that killed co-living spaces deader than doornails, so after downing his morning kombucha he zipped down to the free store and scooped up four used ones.  Used mailboxes purchased for zero dollars are liable to… Continue reading Special Delivery

A Steamy Day and a Missed Connection In Honduras

Thoughts after one journey and before another “Tell me,” she said, “why gringo women wear such ugly shoes.” She said it in Spanish, her tongue forming the precise syllables that I envied and still failed to produce after years of practice. Her name was Viviana, and she was my Spanish teacher. We were practicing my conversation… Continue reading A Steamy Day and a Missed Connection In Honduras

How to Almost Run into Massive Hippos (Hint: Be Drunk)

Also: pay no attention to where you are going Three of us lurched down the narrow path carved into the dense forest.  Weaving our way from one side of the path to the other, we paid no attention to the various squawks and rustlings produced by the creatures surrounding us. Having consumed an intemperate number of… Continue reading How to Almost Run into Massive Hippos (Hint: Be Drunk)

Dusty Around the Eyes

Names change colors when you are dusty around the eyes. Watch a gerenuk at sunset while listening to a Walkman. These two odd sentences are mnemonics I constructed to remind myself of chains of thought that occurred to me while learning to do anthropological fieldwork in East Africa. Searching the forests of the Semliki Valley… Continue reading Dusty Around the Eyes