What can YOU say in six sentences?
The night was surreal. The path led past a decayed log, its innards burst open, glowing phosphorescent green like the guts of an alien. Lantern fireflies appeared sporadically in winks, their butts randomly blinking on and off like mini warning lights and above, trillions of stars spattered the black abyss. It was there in the woods that all of our childish fears collided, the deep density of the forest, the immensity of…Continue
Back in the early 1970s, before chew toys and waste management were known to men of our somewhat rural hamlet, a 10-year-old couldn’t mow the grass without first scouting for deer legs and skulls that might otherwise become missiles capable of amputating his own stalks.
A taxidermist lived up the street, and he discarded all the carcasses in the piney woods behind his home, pieces of which found their way onto the…Continue
Somewhen in the 1970s we stopped eating things that our parents ate of frugal necessity: my mom and dad were mid-teens, then young adults, in the UK during the war years; my own childhood diet included many wartime recipes until their death knell was sounded by the beep of the microwave oven and convenience.
In England, a country which imported sixty per cent of its food in 1939, rationing was rapidly introduced and lasted in some forms until the mid-fifties. There were some…Continue
My parents leaving, guilty-faced, me in my far corner bed, puzzled revulsion at blood-stained sheets right where my head would rest. Long, high room, distant door, dirty cream walls and total lack of knowing what I was doing there (‘not in front of the children’).
Only solace – and small delight – the view from the two-storey tall windows…Continue
The summer I was eight, Pam and I spent a couple of days thinking up words for lipstick colours. (Yeah, I know - but eight is young!) I ruled a sheet of foolscap paper into five columns and fifteen or so rows, so as to write them all down.
We didn’t fill the sheet – reached forty-two or -three in total. Most of them I contributed – Pam (whose…Continue
My childhood neighborhood wasn't the kind of place you expected to destroy its children. Quite the contrary - it expected the most from them, always pushing for better. But better is a relative thing, unconquerable, like weight; it's not just a matter of finally reaching it, exhausted and teary, but chasing it down over and over, certain our mothers were right when they said we'd find happiness if we'd just lose those last few pounds. And so one by one our brilliance faded and we began to…Continue
The trains ran so close to Laura's house that they shook the sooty, wood-panel walls of her shuttered living room. Something so mischevious and capable can stay a mystery for only so long. That last summer we slipped through a place in the fence where the warped chain link peeled back from its rusty post and traipsed through the high, brittle grass to the crest of the hillside tunnel. As the train passed beneath our bare…Continue
I want one of those shakes right now, so creamy and melty and perfect for a scorching summer day. And that was before our family had air conditioning too. And now I don't run my AC because I'm too poor, and it's ninety degrees, and all I want is that cool chocolate shake sliding down my throat. And my hands around that chilled metal container. And to sit in air conditioning on those high stools, and the cooks shouting, and the waitresses running, and the greasy man sitting next to me, and my…Continue
Goulash Pharmacy was an old school pharmacy, around which the world built up a bustling strip mall. Yes, it held all of the typical medications and knickknacks found at Walgreen's, but Goulash had a little diner in the back, complete with robin's egg blue counters and booths and vinyl stools to match, serving up pancakes, hash browns, burgers, grilled cheese, and the biggest shakes a girl could ever want.
My siblings and I sporadically received a pittance of allowance money;…Continue
Is it bad that my earliest memory is a painful one?
I was three and a half years old (because half years held much greater importance in those days), and I was playing with the boys, Dan and Steven, who were each a full year older than me. They were showing off, as boys always do (even these days), by leaping from a desk to a chair to another chair to a bed; already a gender activist, I decided that I could jump equally well, and I should be given a turn.
Our house is perched atop a gentle hill, just steep enough that my five-year-old self loved rolling down or sprinting and falling the remaining length. At the bottom of the hill stood the site of several "Swing Olympics", where my siblings and I performed countless acrobatic feats, sticking almost every dismount. To the right of the "Swing Stadium" stood the backstop, which was rusted over with age and used primarily as a soccer goal.
But the best part of our backyard was…Continue
Though a small troupe, the Bolter Basement Productions put on grand shows, many of which were "illegally" documented by home video. The three young performers, my sister, my brother, and I, bravely played martians and mailmen and old men and young stars and teachers and anyone else we imagined into existence. We printed tickets and programs for our faithful audience of two, and each show was well-received with hugs and cheers.
I envy our carefree creativity now. Now that I am…Continue
Jackie Ruth, my best friend, and I were students at the Morris Winchefsky Yiddesheh Shul two days a week after regular Anglo school. We were small, patient children, able to entertain ourselves with word games and spelling quizzes while we waited for the 104 bus to lumber its brown self around the corner of Monkland Avenue and carry us to class.
They lived in King George V avenue, which had too many ‘V’s for my comfort.
On the way there I sensed that my mother was not entirely comfortable. I knew, goodness knows how, that she considered the woman a bit of a fool. I knew I did not like the child George.
Halfway through tea he climbed onto the round, white linen-covered tea table and crawled right across it, negotiating a path between the teapot and the milk jug and the sugar bowl and the plate of bread and butter…Continue
“Come brother, have some.” He is quite the vision, the smirking imp cloaked in red holding out temptation. I am excited by the offering in such a quiet and hallowed place, overwhelmed by the power of our choosing. We are good Catholic boys but wonder, who is really watching? I take the wine from him. I imagine a pointy tail poking out the back of his cassock.
In hand, I hold my extra deck, doubles, singles and triples, cards bent around the edges, some just plain worn out. Most are lesser players, ones I’ve already saved, held together with a thick rubber band like a wad of pure cash. They sail through the air like lazy fly balls. They are all good sports, hoping to hit the wall perfectly, to hang as close as possible for a win. Wilson readies his own deck of losers; he’s hard…Continue
I didn't know it could happen until I saw it in black and white on TV--loud, floor shaking, flashing, making me hug my knees and wonder what else didn't I know was coming to get me?
I was too afraid to crawl out of the closet and save my brother who was sleeping, though I knew it was coming, and my left eye watched from the closet door that was open one inch, watched the shadow trees shiver and shake their shadows on the wall, and I saw the shape coming to get…Continue