culture

The Elevator

I saw you in the elevator.

You wore feather earrings and worn leather boots. You had an apron in hand, so I can only assume you were going to or from work. I wore a blue hoodie and carried a notepad in my messenger bag.

The moment I saw you I smiled because there was something beyond pretty about you. You looked warm and smart and trustworthy. We made brief eye contact. You saw me smiling at you and your face sort of lit up. Then you looked back at your phone and finished your text message.

I intended to get off on the 12th floor but decided to stay on until you left. We rode that elevator all the way up and all the way down. You stayed. I stayed too. We both pretended not to notice that neither of us had moved. (more…)

Stella’s Voice

“You can choose twelve.”

The words hit me like a sucker punch. My hands found my knees as I struggled for air that had come so easily just a moment before.

Thirty-four young girls stood lined up against a bus with black letters that had faded into blurred lines. A few stared at their worn shoes. I was thankful for that because I could not bear one more set of eyes on me. The rest watched me with desperation and guilt, wanting so badly to be chosen, but knowing what that would mean for the ones who were not. My soul seemed to collapse under weight of the choices before me.

I turned to the Mr. Diacov who stared at me in an effort to avoid the silent pleas from the girls. Black buttons struggled to hold his grey suit together around the bulge of his stomach. The dark circles under his green eyes nearly matched his coal-black shaggy hair and the stubble that covered his chin.

“Please.” I begged. “There must be something we can do. The home can hold more than…” (more…)

The Chase

children-runningThey slid into their booth with goofy smiles, careful to avoid further tearing the rips in the red pleather seats. Rudy’s Cafe had been their favorite little food joint since college. It was the highlight of a random road trip James and Alex had gone on and the two friends made the hour-long trip back once or twice a year ever since.

James picked up the laminated menu and began searching for what made his stomach growl the loudest. Alex already knew what he wanted so he scanned the rundown cafe to see if anything had changed since their last visit.

Rudy’s Cafe had opened in 1981 according to the story on the back of the menu and the decor had never quite made it out of the decade. White and black linoleum tiles checkered the floor. Every inch of the walls and ceiling was covered with 1980’s memorabilia or movie posters. A life-size image of “The Fridge” stared at Alex from the door of the men’s restroom. (more…)

Hungry Eyes

Sitting in these seats countless times before was not enough to keep Sarah from scanning the sanctuary. Each beige seat folded up against the backrest when not filled. A myriad of lights hung ready to be used with the flick of a button from the industrial looking ceiling. Memories of the first time she walked through the doors seemed like fiction now. It all seemed so large then, but the crowd of two thousand or so that would join her this morning now felt like a family.

The soft pop of a chair flapping down drew her attention. She was ready to explain that the seat was saved for a friend, but much to her surprise it was Mark that had sat down with a Starbucks cup in his right hand. Whatever caffeine the beverage was providing had clearly not reached his half-asleep eyelids yet.

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The Tip

Jenna barely heard the rough clicks of Sam’s key in the door over the gentle hiss of the water as she washed the vegetables. A quick sigh escaped from her mouth. As much as she loved her husband, after work he tended to be a bit grumpy. The fresh stack of bills that lay on the counter would only make it worse. She turned off the water and began to wipe her hands when she saw him come into their tiny apartment, turning to close the door and lock it behind him.

Jenna grinned at the sight of him. He had an unassuming cuteness about him. When she had first seen him at their church she never would have pictured them together. He had shaggy brown hair, hazel eyes, and an average frame that could easily be lost in a crowd, but he was smart enough to know that those were not his strength.

The first time Sam had approached her it was simple and quick. He introduced himself and came off as shy. Each time they spoke after that he emerged from of his shell a little more. It did not take long for Jenna to see his heart and know that it was more beautiful than any other she knew. He had a rare combination of a sweet spirit and powerful intellect. Sam could make you feel like the most wonderful person in the world or like you didn’t exist. He knew the power of words and just how to use them.

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Into the Fire

It looked like a normal letter from the middle school Max would be attending in the fall, but as I read a hollow rattle rolled through the page from the shaking of my hands. I dropped it on table, grabbed my keys and fled. This is my default action in the face of tragedy. I first learned this when I was about Max’s age.

We were driving to a cabin on the Lake of the Ozarks. An army of trees with shades of green that Crayola could never hope to box surrounded the road on both sides. Two yellow dotted lines marked the way to a perfect weekend. Just me, my dad, and a lake full of fish. I stared over the high dashboard looking for the sign that would mark our turnoff. This would begin our game of who can spot the water first.

A flash of movement was all I saw before the impact jerked me forward. My dad told me to stay, but I was so drawn to the front of our station wagon that I barely heard his words.

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Knights, Spies, and Astronauts

Growing up in Hollywood was not as glamorous as it sounds, but the education is unmatched in all the country. In class I was taught geometry, history, and biology, but on the way home I learned how to recognize drug dealers and whores. I could spot a hopeful actor or actress from across a restaurant by the script they kept folded in their back pocket. My friend Dickson and I never finished at the top of our class in school, but outside those walls we felt like Einstein and some other smart guy like Einstein.

My family moved to Hollywood when I was still in diapers because my dad was an actor. He mostly did plays, but wanted to be in the movies. He was always talking in weird voices and pretending he was other people. Sometimes he would let me play along with him. We were knights and spies and astronauts. No matter what adventure we shared it always ended with a tickle fight and lots of laughter. After a while we didn’t pretend anymore. He said it was because I was getting older now and it was time for me to grow up. Luckily I got a new best friend right around the same time.

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