Twilight Loons

You and your wife are driving across Canada, along a lake you don’t know the name of with the windows down just as the sky is twilighting in the warm early autumn when you hear a bird crying. Your wife says “Pull over,” and you do. From here, you can see the wind setting up a rippling across the water, and you start to speak, but she places a palm on your chest and says, “Wait, I’ve heard this before.”

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There was a stretcher waiting for me, the freakin’ brake already disengaged, I’m sure. The OB hovered over me, practically breathing up my vulva, sharpening his cesarean scalpel. The baby’s blood pressure was falling. No longer Mrs. Nice-Guy, the midwife blocked him with her hippy little body, yelling, “Push!” in my face. I looked at my husband. He was texting. The spirit to push swirled out of my body like the soul of a heaven-bound cartoon character.

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Not a Sin

He turned his back to her, not in a mean way, but a natural one, because the machine beeped and he loved his coffee fresh-brewed. He loved his wife, too, but on days when she woke up cranky, and he reckoned she wanted to take it out on him—whatever it was—he put into use what he’d learned over the many years: it often pays to be a little deaf.

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The Shells on the Moon

The latest real astronauts found a collection of sea shells on the moon’s surface. They didn’t have to dig far. It was near the place where the first lunar landing was and they were gathered in a way that signaled a greeting or a gift and the astronauts wondered if the first astronauts had somehow missed this collection or if the shells had found their way to this place after that momentous visit all those years ago.

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Moonrise Over the Fluff ‘N’ Fold

It’s eleven-thirty on a Tuesday night. Beth and I lift clothes out of an industrial washing machine. The wet jeans are heavy, but they feel cool against our forearms in the hot laundromat. I feel something round and foreign in the back pocket of my cutoff Levi’s. I fish a sand dollar out of the dripping denim, hold it up against the fluorescent light of the Fluff ‘N’ Fold. A palm-sized moon.

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Does God Cry?

“What do you and Younger Son have planned?”

“Nothing, I swear.”

Father’s raised fist was poised to eliminate Mother’s look of contempt. He paused and for a moment Mother hoped that he would see himself clearly, as he had a few times before; lower his fist, go into the house, take a six pack out of the propane powered fridge, take down his fly rod and go to the river leaving Mother wondering what would happen in the future to recreate this tableau and wishing Older Son would return from a gathering of The Brotherhood.

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Barbie Tag

After getting the lead role in a Hindi movie, I had sat down with Vritika, my stepma, and Dad, and asked them if I should pursue acting or continue preparing for the IIT-JEE exams to get into an engineering school. A day ago, I had called Mom and my stepdad and asked them the same question.

First time in my entire life, all the four oldies were in complete agreement. “Acting. You’re an inborn show-stealer.”

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Spring Fling

He burst through the door and rushed in, all but buckling over the scuffed-up ivory sink. What had he just done?

He ran the water as cold as the tap allowed and splashed his entire face before bracing himself with the basin. Against his tongue he still tasted her. Against his fingers his still felt her. Against his body he still wanted her. When he closed his eyes, he saw her, his body trembled, his heart quickened. A chilling disgust shot through his veins, so he forced his eyes open.

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Watch Me/ Say My Name

Cali is out of work for three weeks before it looks grim enough that she talks her sister into designing a website where for a price men can message her to do anything that they want her to do. In four days, the sisters understand that “anything they want” is predictable enough that they can have a menu with set prices. What keeps the guys coming back, and they do, is that she always says their name while she’s doing what she does, with a little lilt at the end, the way

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