Before All This

When Teresa laid wide awake in her sleeping bag on the floor next to Andreia’s bed, breathing her ice-cream breath and asking her to tell another story, sometimes Andreia wanted to sit up, flip on the lights, shake the kid hard, and tell her: Don’t you know? People pretending everything is fine is the first-best sign that things are about to go bad.

Sexy Thing

Elise sat cross-legged on the couch, the trumpet across her knees. “It figures a hurricane would show up the weekend Kevin’s supposed to ask me out. You think Danielle will get close?”

The Garbage Patch

She helps herself to a plate of inari, some pickled cucumbers, then eel. She orders only one water bottle. This is all she can afford. She chews on it slowly, hoping to make it last.

Everything Will Be All Right in the End

Ritchie shut his eyes and tuned his bandmates out. He thundered his sticks along his tom-toms and broke out into a full-on drum solo. Luiz’s customers caught on—some visibly disturbed by the swell of heavy music on stage, while others whooped and gave approving nods.


He stumbled out of the woods with a book pressed under his arm the day I was explaining to Lacy about the particular loveliness of California ladybugs. Blue faded to white in the legs of his jeans, boring holes in the knees. He had amassed more dirt underneath his fingernails than I had ever dreamed of preserving.


In demanding a new dog, I broke my mother’s cardinal rule, which was to be content with everything I had. She told me that I was lucky, that other children from broken homes grow up with absent parents, or get sent to orphanages, or become juvenile delinquents, she yelled. She told me to accept my lot in life, and I tried, I really did, but I could not stop the gurgle of longing from rising in my throat. It shocked me sometimes, the strength and physicality of my desire.

Phase Five

She’d never had anxiety before, never had to pause at each stage of dressing to practice deep breathing, assuring herself that once she got past the door, she’d be okay. Usually that held true. But if Doug came to get Jax, if they left her alone in this strange place, would she be able to keep breathing?

Long Division

Forget the grit of the dirt that you dig your heels into. Forget the force that the Earth exerts upon you just as you exert upon it. Forget air resistance and center of mass. The principle rests only on Newton’s second law: F = ma.