Tuesday, December 29, 2015


First published in Boston Literary Magazine, Winter 2015.

When Angela learned she couldn’t have children—something she’d looked forward to since getting a doll house for her third birthday—she turned to drugs and alcohol.
When she awoke in the hospital after the overdose, her sister, Eileen, sat in a chair reading a Bible.
When Angela exited the rehab center for the second time, Eileen waited in the car to take her to the halfway house.
When, three months later, Eileen opened the door to her home with a smile, Angela hugged her sister and wept.
When her nephew, Joseph Anthony Ridgeway, was born, Angela was in the delivery room.
When she held Joseph for the first time, she felt joy.
When the bridge collapsed and the swollen river swallowed the car containing Joseph’s parents, Angela’s mind went numb.
When Joseph first called her Mommy, Angela felt complete again.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

A Child is Born

I came out of the Quick Stop and found her in the back seat of my ten-year-old Camry. I don’t know who she is, or why she chose my car. I do know she’s having a baby any minute now based on the size of her belly and the sounds emanating from her. Note to self: in the future, remember to lock car doors, or give up cigarettes, or both.

I ask her name. She says it, I think. It’s buried in one long scream and a lot of huffing.

She’s pretty and has a slim body—or will have once the baby comes out—and nice legs. Blonds interest me. For that matter, so do redheads and brunettes. I’m not so excited by the lavender lipstick or neon, multicolored fingernails. Still, in other circumstances, if I wasn’t so afraid of talking to girls and making a fool of myself, I might ask her out.

I agree to drive her to the hospital. She thought she had time to walk there. Obviously, that didn’t work out so well. 

Traffic comes to a halt when we’re three blocks away. The honking of stopped cars due to an accident at the intersection tells me it might as well be three miles ahead. 

“This isn’t good,” I say.

“At least my water broke before I got in the car.”

“Your what what?” I feel light-headed.

I consider driving down the sidewalk, but there are too many Christmas shoppers. And it’s dark. I might hit someone paying more attention to their phone screen than where they’re walking. Maybe that’s what happened up ahead. Texting is just as dangerous when walking as when driving.

A scream from the back seat engulfs all the other sounds. I peek over my shoulder. She’s lying on the seat, knees up, legs spread, skirt bunched near her waist. “It’s coming,” she says.

“NO,” I respond. I want to run, but my legs won’t let me. They seem to have other ideas as to how I should spend my next few minutes. Another note to self: when finally at home, chop off legs for insubordination. 

I jump out of the car and look around. “Somebody help. She’s having a baby!” Everyone stares straight ahead. “She’s your wife,” a nearby cabbie yells through the window. “Man up.”

“She isn’t. I don’t —“

A second scream interrupts me. 

“It’s coming now. Get in here.”

I look around for help once more. A young woman walks by. I open my mouth, hands waving over my head. She gives me the finger.

“Aaaagh.” I open the back door. Look inside. Notice she’s not a natural blond. Avert my eyes.

“Oh, come on. You’ve seen a pussy before,” she says.

Actually, this is my first. 

“Okay, just breathe. . .or relax. . .or whatever it is you’re supposed to do,” I say.

“I am, you idiot. Now get your hands in there and get ready.”

I put my hands between her legs and close my eyes. Two more grunts and I feel something wet in my hands. I think it’s a head. I still can’t look. Then there’s more. A body. I sense the mother slumping into the seat. I look down and see a healthy baby boy in my hands. His chest rising and falling with each breath. The umbilical cord keeps him tethered to his mother. I try my best to not throw up.

“What’s your name?” she asks.

“Joseph. What’s yours?”

“Mary,” she replies. Laughing and holding her stomach with both hands, she says, “What do you think we should name the baby?”

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Revenge of the Nerd

This week's 5 to 50/55 challenge. Prompt words below.

Her red hair and pale skin reminded him of a peppermint stick, her voice as sweet. He scrutinized her in the mirror, her body no longer a girl’s. Her finger traced a pattern across his naked chest. He closed his eyes, moaned. When the blade crossed his throat, his eyes opened and his bladder emptied. (55 words)

Prompt words: peppermint, girl, empty, mirror, voice