Keep the Faith

Every morning when Ethan wakes up, he brushes his teeth, washes his face, and puts on the clothes his mom laid out for him four hours earlier. Then he goes out to the kitchen, grabs whatever box of cereal is on the counter and pours it into a bowl with some milk, if there is any. Carefully closing and locking the door behind him with a key he keeps on a bright yellow lanyard in his backpack, he heads down four flights of stairs to the street below.

 

The cranky purr of MTA buses and honking horns greet him, clouds of exhaust hanging in the air. He greets it all back with a smile. Then he starts his seven block walk to school, giving a polite wave to the crossing guard who makes sure he gets across the intersection safely.

 

About halfway there, he says good morning to a man who has set up house with a handful of discarded cardboard boxes, hoping to brighten his day. His mom taught him that you never know what someone is going through, and sometimes you get to be the sunshine — like he is for her, she always says.

Read More

The Interrupter

My thoughts are jumbled. They never seem to come out clean, in a straight line. Is that how they’re supposed to go? I don’t even know. Too many distractions. Even now. Especially now. Ugh. What’s this on the internet? There must be an article I haven’t read. Or a meme I haven’t seen. The incessant construction is maddening. Every morning it starts. Some days I’m startled out of sleep. Others, I’ve been up waiting for its inevitable commencement. What’s that? Oh, the dog across the hall going for another walk. His leash jingles every time. Or is it my neighbors keys? Who knows. Focus, I tell myself over and over again, as if that will help anything. It’s the same as telling someone to calm down. Calm down. Breathe. That’s another good one I try, so I can focus. And write. No dice. I wonder where that phrase came from. I guess I can guess, but I won’t. Here’s Danny, the cat. How cute and sweet — now, when he’s fed. When he’s not, he’s the greatest interrupter of all. Practiced and agile, he knows the right buttons. The right triggers, no matter the time or place, to get me up.

Read More

Ghost Town, Part 1

The town seemed as if it’d been asleep for hours — days, even — but a lone bed & breakfast still had its front light on. The plan was for it to be a one-night stay. They’d get up at dawn, perhaps grab a cup of coffee if it was offered, and be on their way.

She woke up before him. With a long day ahead, it was best to let him sleep a bit longer. She grabbed a sweatshirt and headed out for a walk. It was the first exercise she’d had in days, and it felt good to get out even if it was in such a sleepy old town.

Cool air came in off the mountains, making her thankful for the sweatshirt as she steered herself toward what must have been Main Street.

Something was off.

No one was in the street, but a sinister air filled the silence. As she walked, she realized there were more than a few faces staring back at her from behind beat-up, rotted-out window frames, the paint long ago peeled away.

Now self-conscious, she tried to act normal as she picked up the pace and redirected her course back to the b&b. Priority number one just became getting away from whatever secrets lurked beneath the surface in this sleepy old town.