60 of 365

A man sat on his deck, enjoying a quiet afternoon. A bird cried out from the power line. A fellow occupant was attempting to shove the poor soul to the ground. A flutter of wings ensued, their neighbors voicing annoyance with repeated squawks as the line bounced. The man joined in with a few squawks of his own. It was a useless effort. The victim held tightly to his perch. The line fell quiet, the pecking order in balance once more.


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He straightened the soup cans, sometimes alphabetizing the labels. He restacked the containers of yogurt and cottage cheese, and twisted all the milk jugs so the expiration dates faced out. He separated the limes from the lemons, and rescued a bundle of asparagus from the broccoli bin. He had abandoned his practice. Now he spent his days here. He could not be happier.


58 of 365

He used the key from under the terracotta pot and slipped through the back door. Inside, a commercial for a travel agency specializing in virtual vacations played on the television. A grocery pallet containing powdered milk and vacuum-sealed produce sat on the counter. Water was boiling out of a pot and onto the induction stove. He pressed the button to cancel the heat. The bubbles stopped. The house was empty. She had escaped.


57 of 365

He closed his eyes and listened intently to the background sounds of the disc's main menu. A cacophony of footsteps and conversation, a train coming to a halt, and a muffled announcement over a loud speaker. The sounds played on a twenty-second loop. He counted the loops. By the twelfth loop, he had deciphered the announcement and pressed play.


56 of 365

She was a popular health columnist for the local paper. The years of fame had provided her with a lavish bungalow and serious case of hypochondria. When she grew sluggish and began missing deadlines, her boss threatened to fire her. When she shared the news of the cancer, her coworkers were offended she would imagine such a thing. Then her name appeared in the paper, not as a byline for the health column but first in the list of obituaries.


55 of 365

It was late in the afternoon. He stood at the wash bin, cleaning his latest catch. He slit the belly and extracted the guts. Holding the stomach in his hand, entrails falling through his fingers, he felt something hard where nothing hard should be. Through a small incision, he retrieved a gold ring. Inside the band was an engraving. An etched phrase that would soon send him across the sea from which he had just returned.


54 of 365

The porcelain face was frozen in observation. The deep red lips eternally mute, the green eyes in constant memorization of the passersby. The girl was sitting on the grass, caressing the doll’s face from the temple, down the jawline, to the tip of the chin. She paused briefly to circle the chipped ear and then ran her fingers through the doll‘s auburn curls. To the girl, the doll was priceless, it was all she had left from a life long gone.


53 of 365

The girl took three stones from the pile. The boy smiled and took two, leaving behind a single stone. “You get the last one. You lose,” he said. The girl sulked away. “Who’s next?” the boy offered to the young crowd. The game had become a recess ritual. The winner held the power of supremacy. The boy had won each game for the past month. He was callous and took no pity. The children agreed that the only solution was mutiny.


52 of 365

The sign read, “Road Closed.” He glanced around and climbed over the concrete barrier anyway. He knew this was a ruse meant to slow down him and others like him. He proceeded past warnings for trespassers and old street signs that had been spun around to mislead. Then a clearing in the trees gave way to a small hill with an entrance covered by two steel doors. He knocked. The doors strained to open, and he walked inside.


51 of 365

She had used newspaper to cover each window on the first level of her three-story brownstone. The glue with which she had coated each page now coated her fingers. Sunlight penetrated the day’s news and cast a glow over the kitchen sink. She read the headline as she rinsed her hands. Her eyes widened, she frantically tried to tear the page off the glass. The glue held its grip. It was happening and she could do nothing to stop it.


50 of 365

She nuzzled her temple back and forth against the brocade wallpaper. She did this many times a day, nearly wearing the paper away. One morning, she abandoned the nuzzle and attacked the wall. She took claw after claw to the formal covering, scattering strips of the paper about the floor. In her flurry, she tore through the drywall as well. With her mouth, she retrieved the pouch from within the wall and sauntered away, fully satisfied.


49 of 365

They hid behind the couch, under the dining table, within the long drapes, and in the hall closet. At last, keys rattled the lock and the bright light of the corridor filled the room. Everyone leapt out and yelled, "Surprise!" The guest of honor screamed and then burst into laughter. She hugged her friends endearingly. In the commotion, no one saw the man in the corner grab the envelope and slip out of the apartment.


48 of 365

She was a connoisseur of hats. Wool berets, floppy sun hats, and baseball caps. Knitted beanies with crocheted flowers, cloches wrapped in unassuming bows, and one tweed trilby adorned with a lace rosette. Those that could be stacked or folded filled her dresser drawers. Those that needed more careful attention hung from hooks on her walls. Each day, inside or out, she required a hat. Only when she hid beneath them did she feel safe.


47 of 365

That morning, he had purchased a crate of preserved fruit from his neighbor’s farm stand down the road. The fruit he unloaded next to the multivitamins on the top shelf. The next shelf down contained canned vegetables, dry goods, and bags of salt. Below that were first aid supplies, flashlights, and batteries. He stored water on the bottom shelf. When his watch alarm beeped, he shut the basement door and locked himself inside.


46 of 365

She cried in the morning. Her mind felt clearer at dawn than any other time of day, thus this is when she grieved. It was a rational grief. A healing grief. Much to the contrary were her attempts to mourn at dusk. The dishes that sailed across the room, shattering to pieces upon impact. The flowers she shoved in the face of the young delivery man, nearly suffocating him. No, night was not a time to mourn. Mourning in the morning was the only way.


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Her face reflected below looked nothing of the image from her memory. She lay prone on the thick branch that jutted out over the water, the soles of her hiking shoes flush against the trunk thwarting any possible descent. Here she had spent each morning for the past year. The tree was the last of its kind. It stood proud within a field of stumps, spared for reasons unknown. It was immune. This trait they shared.


44 of 365

Around the handle of the suitcase hung the luggage tag. Stamped on the leather was a street address and city, no name. She was among many to be sent there, and she would return the tag upon arrival, so her name held no importance. She became fixated on the detail they had made trivial. The tag with no name. The passenger with no name. She felt herself disappearing with each step toward the gate. But the plane was waiting. As were they.


43 of 365

Most of the art enthusiasts has gone by the wayside, leaving him to his thoughts in the vast corridor. The piece on the far wall drew him in. He leaned in, as close as was physically possible without brushing the tip of his nose against the paint. He examined the intricate strokes, admired how they played with the tight weave of the canvas. Then he felt the pang in his stomach. It should have been his work hanging on that wall.


42 of 365

The bus lurched forward before I had found a seat. I was thrown back and nearly fell into the lap of an elderly woman. She gave me a disapproving look, as if I had invaded her personal space on purpose. I grabbed the metal bar and caught my footing, though my body was still susceptible to the sporadic acceleration of the driver. And then I saw her, sitting with her back to me, the fingers of her visible hand twirling a stem of jasmine.


41 of 365

The shoes lay strewn across the lane, the heels torn from the soles, the black suede ground into the asphalt. From the sidewalk, he watched the residents part their drapes in curiosity, then broadcast looks of worry as cars swerved to avoid the debris. He ventured into the street and peeled up a sole. Written in permanent ink on the leather was the dead drop he sought.


40 of 365

She spent her afternoons at the neighborhood thrift, paging through dusty books in search of new lands and new companions. When she happened upon the inscription, her heart stopped. It was simply composed, lacking originality to the outsider, but full of meaning to those who mattered.

"To the love of my life. Yours, V"

The kinds words though were not what intrigued her, rather it was the page on which they lay.


39 of 365

It was rush hour in the underground station where strangers waited shoulder to shoulder for the next train. They were family for that brief moment. But even in families, things go unseen. The pain overtook him. He grasped his arm and collapsed. The ground rumbled and a rush of air blew through the room. His sideways stare caught feet shuffling around him toward the opening doors of the train. He was left there alone, a dying oversight.


38 of 365

The storm circled, eyeing its target, a proud young maple standing alone on the roadside. The tree shed its leaves in the wind, prominent traces of autumn cast over the ground. The final leaf released its grip and fell to a puddle below. It broke the surface and sent a ripple to the surrounding bank, capsizing every floating piece of orange and yellow in its path, stirring up the calm sea, announcing the arrival of winter.


37 of 365

He spent the morning alone in the library basement, pacing the stacks, skimming every shelf. The mildewed air coupled with the fluorescent lights overhead made his eyes hurt. And then he spotted it, the sea of black plastic binding coils nearly swallowing it whole. His cell phone vibrated in his pocket. He answered. "I found it. Where can I meet you?"


36 of 365

The headlights were following her, she was sure of it. She had sensed she was being watched upon leaving the store. The two bright bulbs in her rear view mirror confirmed it. A few car lengths behind her, illuminating the low thick fog, every turn, every side street, they were there. She pulled into a stranger’s driveway and waited, one mississippi, two mississippi, three mississippi...she had seen the lightning, now for the thunder.


35 of 365

One hand clutched a disorganized gathering of papers. The other hand held a plain brown cane and braced the weight of his body as he waited for a break in traffic. A car yielded, the driver motioning him to cross. He leaned his upper body into the street, his legs reluctantly followed suit. The cane gave way as he stepped from the curb. The papers burst from his arms as he fell, a decoupage of parchment on the damp evening road.


34 of 365

A man emerged from the hanger with grease on his hands. He pulled a rag from his back pocket and wiped the first layer of black from his fingers. "What can I do you for?"
"I need a plane," the boy said.
"Can't help you, son. We only got parts here, nothing that'll fly."
“I’ll give you a hundred dollars,” the boy said without hesitation.
The man looked the boy over, shook his head, and tucked the rag back in his pocket. “Come with me.”


33 of 365

There had been a rash of thefts in recent days. Homegrown vegetables had become currency, being the only means of food for most. But she had Hurley, her loyal retriever. He took possession of the garden, napping among the raised beds during the day, standing guard at night. He would patrol the surrounding fence, barking at the slightest rustle of leaves. But she had grown used to his bark. It rarely woke her now. This was a problem.


32 of 365

They had stopped for gas, bought a bag of chips from the convenience store, but otherwise, they had passed every nuance of the road just to ensure their arrival by tomorrow's sunset. They were trapped in the trailer for a thousand more miles. He despised the trailer. Its four walls slowly creeping in on him, no privacy, no distance from his father's rants. He was subject to every word, a thousand words for every mile of the thousand miles.