A waterfall, radiant, pulsing with light, heavenly. I want to step through the frame and dive in. "Bottoms up." My aged friend breaks the spell. "Next round's you." The smell - ashtrays, beer, urinal mints - brings me fully back. I see my own face, among bottles, in the mirror behind the bar.
--John Peck, Oakland, CA
There is something compelling about my beard. My fiancee scratches at it like the whiskers on a feline. “Why don’t we get a cat?” I say to her. “I’m allergic,” she says. Now I have a rash on my neck from her overstimulating of the follicles. “Let me see,” she says. “Are you allergic to something?”
--Justin J. Murphy, Topanga, CA
Three miles from her house is a dairy. In the morning the smell wakes her. After breakfast she is sick. By lunch, accustomed. By dinner, sore. After days, she goes to watch the cows, their bulging udders. How they produce again and again. How they keep going back for more. How she will not manage.
--Marcus Corder, Spokane, WA
Things His Wife Did Not Know
His grandchildren taught him to use a cell phone and internet. He wanted to hear her voice and arrange bingo dates at the senior center, where they had met. Email to write passionate letters during the afternoons that his wife napped. He was 84. He had given up on marriage, but not on love.
--Lindsey Morrone, San Jose, CA