Break of Dawn

Dawn slipped her fingers between Carlo’s. They squinted their eyes from the sunlight as they walked out of the dorm building.

“I’m just gonna head to class from here,” Carlo said, taking his hand from Dawn’s.

Dawn grabbed her cellphone out of her back pocket and slid her thumb across the screen. “You have 15 minutes. Come to The Cup with me.” She crossed her arms and frowned.

“I want to read over my notes.”

“You can come to The Cup with me. I’ll test you.”

“Nah, just go.” Carlo pointed his hand with the notebook to The Cup, the coffee shop across the field.

“Hug me first.” Dawn closed her eyes and held her arms open.

Carlo wrapped his arms around Dawn’s shoulders and kissed her blonde head. “Bye Dawn,” he said before letting her go.

“Text me when you’re out,” Dawn said as Carlo walked away.

*

The bell on the door jingled as Dawn entered The Cup. She stopped as soon as she stepped in. The counter’s line ended near the entrance. She scanned the couches and tables in the dining area for someone she knew.

“Looks like everybody had the same idea.”

Dawn smiled and turned around when she heard his voice.

“Andriel!” She hugged him. “You’re out of class early. Usually I don’t see you here for another 20 minutes.”

“Yeah. Professor showed up late, turned on some movie made in the ’80s about the culture of Guatemala and was on his iPad. He obviously didn’t want to be there today so why should I?”

Dawn shrugged. “Nobody cares about anything anymore.”

“Nope.”

The line moved up and Andriel puffed his chest out and purposefully walked into Dawn. “Excuse me, miss,” he said in a deep voice.

She grinned and pushed him away. “You’re such a creep.”

Andriel rubbed one of his big hands through Dawn’s hair, pulling it in front of her face.

“Cut it out!” She laughed and parted her hair. Read More

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My mother would scrunch her nose and her forehead would crinkle. Her blue eyes would slant and her barely visible eyebrows would almost touch. “I don’t like fish,” she’d say as she’d either push the plate away if my grandfather placed it in front of her, or wave her hand in front of her nose and back away as he opened the oven with his navy blue mittens.

*

“You ready for some swordfish, Casey?” my grandfather raised his voice above the hum of the stove’s fan. He had his eyes on the fish as he carefully placed it on the long plate on the counter. He removed the mittens and grabbed bottles of green seasonings to cover the peach flesh with.

He pointed his sweaty nose to the kitchen table as he made his way over with the dish.

I clutched the back of the kitchen chair that I always sat at (it used to be my mother’s spot at the table when she was a kid) and shook my head no. My hair flopped back and forth over my shoulders and I bit my bottom lip with my buck teeth.

“No? What do you mean, no?” My grandfather looked at me, eyes squinted. “This is good fish. It’s home cooked. I thought you liked it.”

“I’m not hungry.” I looked at the blue tiles on the kitchen floor. Little particles of dirt clogged the once white cracks.

My grandfather eyed my face, but I pretended not to notice. Read More

Eavesdropping

Last semester, one of my fiction professors assigned the class an eavesdropping assignment. That night, I was reading in the library when an unhappy couple caught my attention.

I raised my head from my book as I heard feet shuffle across the carpet. It was just about midnight, and I hadn’t seen any other students in the library’s basement. I sat cross-legged on a chair, one elbow leaning on the round table, the other on the corner of my open book.

A sigh came from between two shelves. “I can’t believe this.”

A short guy with black hair shook his head as he looked up. He held a cup of coffee in each hand and his jeans swished around his sneakers. He tucked his chin downward to sip from one of the white cups as he headed to one of the fluorescent-lit study carrels.

He gently kicked the green door, and it squeaked and swung back into a blue chair that was in the way. Next to the chair was another chair, where a girl with puffy chestnut hair in a dark sweatshirt and blue pajama pants sat. She slouched across from her laptop that was surrounded by packets of paper and a notebook.

“You’re so lazy. I can’t believe you couldn’t get your own coffee,” the guy said as he handed her one of the white cups. “You made me go all the way to Starbucks and come back here. You’re so lazy.” Read More

Unclipped

You’d think my Aunt Ebba would own a cat. One of those fluffy Persians that could sit on her lap as she stroked its fur with her scarlet finger nails. But no, she owned an obnoxious cockatiel named Pikachu.

Aunt Ebba loved to talk—she spoke three languages. So did Pikachu. He was all that she had left in her maze of a Victorian house. They’d watch Spanish soap operas together; Pikachu would recite French poetry as he stood on her shoulder, nuzzled up against her chin. It was astonishing, but quite sad. Aunt Ebba was lonely.

She hadn’t worked since her job at the florist as a teenager. After that, she went to college to study literature, but no career came from it. She married straight out of college, into a wealthy family. Her first husband was my Uncle Ty. He was a stock broker from New York. Aunt Ebba was in love with him; she gave up everything for him. She moved from her close-knit family in Jamestown, Rhode Island to live with him in his luxury apartment in Manhattan. He led a stressful life, and died young of heart failure. They had one son, my older cousin, Winthrop.

After Uncle Ty died, Aunt Ebba was depressed. She wouldn’t eat, she couldn’t sleep. She’d call my father, her brother, and cry to him on the phone about how she saw Ty in her dreams, and how she thought he was leaving her “signs from the other side” wherever she went.  She’d talk about how Winthrop looked so much like him, with his curly hair and small lips. My father would twist the phone’s cord as he gently spoke, and glance over at me and my mother, who stood behind me, hands on my shoulders. She would take me into another room when my father was on the phone with Aunt Ebba. I was a little girl then, and the sad tone in my father’s voice would upset me. My mother, with her teal watery eyes, would take my wrist and lead me away.

“Aunt Ebba has that really bad cold again, Liliane. Daddy needs to talk to her to cheer her up,” she’d say as she squatted down in front of me to stroke my hair when I asked why my father was unhappy. Read More

“Discriminating Mind Leads You in the Proper Direction”

In one of my fiction classes, my professor passed around fortune cookies. We each had to create a story from our fortune. My fortune read, “Discriminating mind leads you in the proper direction.”

Discriminating Mind Leads You in the Proper Direction

Cleo stood beneath the orange glow of the streetlight, giving her yellow umbrella a red tint. She could no longer feel her shivering fingers. The rain in her frizzy hair slipped off her bangs to mingle with the cold sweat on her cheeks. Her eyes were set on the tail lights of the crinkled piece of metal that used to be a car. She was almost home from her yearbook club meeting at school when she crossed paths with some of the neighborhood’s outcasts.

Moments before, Jack, Morgan, and Jose stumbled toward Jack’s 1991 Pontiac Grand Am. Cleo watched as the rowdy group of teenagers went for the driver’s door.  A few minutes earlier, they were nagging Cleo to come for a “joy ride” with them, but she shook her head and said no from across the street.

Jack, with his lazy black eyes that were being overtaken by red, repeatedly pulled on the door’s handle, baffled by why the door wouldn’t open. Morgan peered inside the window with his hands cupping the sides of his curly, dark head and shouted, “I’m going to sit in that seat!” over and over again. Every time Morgan repeated himself, Jack became more frustrated and pulled harder on the door’s handle and mumbled words even sober Cleo couldn’t understand. He had created his own language and when he spoke, almost squatting as he used all of his drunken strength to pull the handle, it sounded like he was about to cry. Jose was hunched over with his hands in his pockets behind the other two as he eyed the mysterious door. A sly grin staggered across his face when he fingered what he knew were the keys in his pocket.  He slowly put together the words, “I am the best,” in a thick Spanish accent and faltered forward with the key in hand. Jack tilted his head at the sound of the jingling and he turned around, still clinging to his car’s handle.  Morgan was too busy pressing his face up against the window explaining how he was going to sit in the driver’s seat or never allow himself to breathe again. Read More

The Two-Legged Dog

One of my older stories that I wrote as a child. It was originally hand-written on Thanksgiving 2001. Shortly after, I typed it up and saved it (this story has traveled through many computers). I did some editing not long ago. I figured I’d post it on here for some opinions.

It all began one afternoon as I rested on the back porch. When I heard the door slam, I raised my chin from my paws and breathed in the cool air. Bill carried a cage with a cloth over it out of the old, rusty pickup truck. His boots whirled up the crunchy leaves as his feet stomped down the hill. A strange bark came from within the cage — it sounded like Betty when she saw a rat. What we really needed around the house was a good ol’ cat. I came out from beneath my blanket and trotted down the wooden steps to investigate.

Bill opened the gate on the pen out in the field, pulled it shut, then set the cage on the ground. He knelt down, swung it open, and stood back. He placed his hands on his hips as he peered into the cage.

“Come on,” he said, calm but serious. Read More

Tokalu

My mother hated that sound. The sound of the gun. It excited me. My tongue dangled out of my mouth and my ears perked up more than usual. My sister Winona and I would scramble toward it. If it caught our mother, Imala, by surprise, she scattered to the den. When Winona and I were kits, we weren’t allowed to venture into town near the people, their dogs, and the gun to watch the greyhounds race. Our mother didn’t like the idea of us wandering over there–even as young adult foxes. When we were kits, Winona and I would sometimes sneak out when our mother was hunting. She often caught us on our way home. She’d lecture us, ramble on about how people are nothing but selfish, inconsiderate, evil-hearted monkeys who believe they rule all land, water, and skies. Our father was shot and killed by a fully-clothed man, who most likely shot him for his fur. He succeeded with the help of his hound dog. Winona and I never met him. We were born shortly after that tragedy took place. When we were older and about ready to be on our own, we did what we wanted. I was often out of the den, journeying somewhere. Mom pretended not to worry when I strayed off and told me that she wanted me to go out and do my own thing, but her nervous habits gave her away. When I told her I was leaving the den, she’d pace, her bushy tail would hang stiff. She’d avoid the subject of my father altogether, even though it was the one thing on her mind whenever I or Winona left the den. It was me she worried about the most. Winona never went too far. My mother didn’t want me to be alone. Sometimes she’d ask if I’d met any nice vixens to settle down with. But I doubted any vixen would be able to handle the things I liked to do. If they were all like my mother and my sister, I thought.  Read More