You Can Feel It

The fog rolled onto the beach. The whine of leaf blowers echoed as maintenance men cleared away dust and dried leaves from the boardwalk. An army of cleaning crews made beds and vacuumed rugs in motels and beach houses along the shore. The tiny shore town was preparing for the season. Weak beams of sunlight trickled into the windows of the town’s market.


Roxanne groaned lifting a tray of wheat breads.

“I think I tore my hamstrings.”

“You don’t have hamstrings,” Sherri told her, carrying three trays of English muffins. “You don’t have nothing.”

“No I’m serious. Can you pull a hamstring? I think I pulled wait where are the hamstrings?” Roxanne walked in circles to show Sherri her sore leg. Sherri started unloading bags of buns.

“Look alive ladies, pick up the pace,” Mr. Martindale said hurrying back to his office to track down his missing magazine shipment and knock a few heads at the distribution center.

Bobby Lee scooted around him on the mini forklift with pallets of produce. The damp played hell with her arthritis. She rubbed her knee with one hand while executing a perfect turn past the meats with the other.

“Hey, Miss Bobby ruin a holiday in four words,” Sasha called behind from the deli counter.

Heading towards produce Bobby Lee yelled back, “Plant based turkey breast!”

Laughter rippled across the canned foods as staff circulated the inventory.

After eighteen months of shuttered doors and dark stores the season was coming. Soon the parking lots would be full of license plates from New York or Pennsylvania. Soon there will be long lines and unbearable traffic. This town, like many others, will swell with cotton candy, hot buttered corn on sticks and other people’s memory making.

AJ rollerskated from canned goods to the back of store and puts his CD from home into the store’s ancient sound system. “The Electric Slide” booms across the store. Dancing breaks out in the aisles. The sun stood higher in the sky and the sands warmed. Thick lines of sea gulls perched on stores and houses in anticipation. Mr. Martindale returned from the back of store to show off his funky dance moves. The fog rolled away from the beach.

There is a Word For This

The steel needle drove through the black fabric. She made tiny neat stitches in the knee of her youngest’s treasured must be worn tomorrow sweatpants. She admired her repair and packed away her sun-faded sewing box. It was ten minutes after her bedtime, forty minutes past when she had promised to wind down. She stretched her back on the floor and finished folding laundry.

Next she emptied the dishwasher of the clean and loaded the dishwasher with the dirty. She wiped down the stove and countertops. She closed all of the flung open kitchen cabinets with frustrated taps. She fished for socks lost under the sofa and dirty tees abandoned on the backs of chairs. She started a load a laundry and carried up a warm basket of fresh laundry from the cold basement. She folded another load. Finally finished for the day, her love hung in the air of the sleep quiet home like smoke.

The overstuffed laundry basket hangs low against her hip as she headed upstairs at last. It is some time after midnight. She does the terrible arithmetic of what time it is now against what time she has to get up. She climbed into bed but not into sleep. Surrounded by a sleeping world her mind awakens. She could draw or paint or knit or buy a Fiestaware teapot from North Dakota or find out what her favorite childhood TV stars look like now. Mentally she swipes through the kaleidoscope of diversions. The teetering stack of books on her bedside table gives her a flirtatious wink.

She knows the Japanese word for a pile of books awaiting to be read is tsundoku. Her fingers trailed down the spines. She knows the Chinese word for bedtime revenge is baofuxing aoye, the term describes workers who have to work long hours will stay up late. As she turns the page on a book on global warming or a book on fabric inspiration for mixed media or finally finds out if Lawrence Todhunter got away with murder, she snuggled into that sweet pocket of time that is hers and hers alone and wonders if there is a word for this.

The Hairdresser

“Hold down your ear, baby,” Betts said.

The kitchen air was heavy with singed hair and hot grease. Betts pulled the smoking metal comb through the thick coils hair. Marty winced from the heat. Betts lay the hot comb in its oven and blew on the girl’s skin.

“You can let go now, baby girl.” Betts let the child stretch while she took a puff from her cigarette. “What grade are you in now? High school? Starting college?”

Marty laughed. “You know I’m in the third grade Miss Elizabeth. But I am very smart.I’m the fast reader in my whole class.” Marty did a little shimmy on the kitchen stool. Her head half Afro puffs, half straighten swayed from side to side.

“I know that’s right.” Betts went back to work. “I’ve known you before you were you.” Betts added the curling iron to the stove to heat. Betts and Alberta, Marty’s mother, had grown up together. They had shared a crib, played with dollies, and later gone on double dates. She rubbed Pink Lustre through Marty’s natural curls from scalp to ends. Her hot comb moved through the child’s hair. From a daub of AfroSheen on the back of her hand, Betts rubbed the grease into the girl’s edges and started to curl. Alberta had married young and then came Marty. Betts had chairs at two salons and did heads at home. The old friends couldn’t see each other much.

Marty’s head was a mass of shiny uniform curls. Marty raised up her head as Betts showered her in a fragrant cloud of hair spray. Holding Marty’s face in her hands, Betts could see Alberta in the schoolyard.

”What side do you want your part?”


“Hold this around your neck tight.”

Marty draped the the splotched towel around her thin shoulders. Betts laved Vaseline around her edges.

“Thank you again for doing this, Miss Elizabeth. You are a true lifesaver,” Marty said. “I can’t believe how long it took to get my old cornrows out and then when Michaela never showed up with the extensions I was panicked.”

Betts took a long drag of her Marlboro and stirred the relaxer. The bite of the lye made their eyes water. With a wide toothed comb, Betts parted Marty’s fluffy Afro into eight sections.

“Girl, stop. We’re family. You have a ton of new growth and your scalp might burn. Let me know when it starts to tingle, okay,” Betts said. She worked the Dark ‘n’ Lovely through Marty’s hair, pulling and smoothing. From the tightness in Marty’s shoulders Betts could tell her scalp was beginning to burn.

“You know you are the only one who still calls me Miss Elizabeth. You do know you’re grown right.” Marty laughed.”I know. Mom laughs at me but it just doesn’t feel right.”

Betts was quiet and suddenly feeling her age. She patted Marty’s arms and guided her to the kitchen sink. In the cool water the red brown coils melted into silky waves.

“I know this water feels good.”


“Look at you.” Betts opened her arms wide.

The years had changed them both. With a crown of silver and auburn locks, Marty had grown older and more beautiful.  Betts’s bones felt frail in Marty’s strong embrace. In her arms, Betts could feel Marty shake from tears. She rubbed the woman’s girl’s baby’s back to comfort her. They held each other for a long moment. Then Betts held Marty’s face in her hands to say goodbye and I will see you again to old friend in her heart.

“It was so kind of you to come, Miss Elizabeth.”

Betts wiped Marty’s tears and headed back down the aisle.

The Crow

My mouth tastes of iron. My head aches. My eyes open slowly and the world is a blur. My face is wet. I wipe my mouth and stare at the bright red blood on my fingers. I smell gas and burnt rubber. I close my eyes and rest my head. I remember this morning. Bailey and I argued about what. A wave of nausea rises in my stomach. We fought over that bird. A crow, no two crows had built a nest in the massive half dead black walnut by our garage.

Every morning the male crow screamed at me when I left for work and every evening he screamed at me when I came home. First Bailey joked about the bird having a crush on me and he started quoting The Raven. Next when I told him I was afraid he tried to tell me about this nature documentary he’d watched that said crows were as smart as dogs and cats and could recognize faces and hold grudges.

This week the crow had taken to waiting for me to get out of my car and dive bombing my face. I had to run and cover my face. Last night the crow hit the back of my head and I fell in the driveway. I tore my tights and spilt Candace’s gift bag on the ground. This morning I told Bailey to be a man and do something about the goddamned bird and he told maybe if I didn’t drink so much I wouldn’t fall so often. I told him if he had a real job I wouldn’t want to drink. That was the beginning all the unsaid things being said. All of our hurts and fears raged out. I threw his jug, the big one, the one he had made for me on the floor. Before the pieces shattered I wanted to gather them all up and hold that jug tight and take back all the things. Bailey grabbed my arms to shake me. I felt myself lifted up . Then Bailey looked at my face, looked at his own hands, and walked away.

Wait that wasn’t this morning it was yesterday morning. Bailey packed an overnight bag and left yesterday morning. I went to my first showing with puffy eyes. This morning I woke up on the living room with an empty bottle of wine and half of our jug glued together. Bailey never came home, never called. I remember the Jensen property and my morning appointment with the Patels. Sam was going to have my ass if I was late again. I remember splashing water on my face and getting dressed at breakneck speed. I remember having a screwdriver eye opener and dashing for my car. I remember the crow. Squat and iridescent black, he landed on my hood. I honked. He cawed. I revved the engine and it walked back and forth with deliberate steps. I screamed and he slammed his beak into my windshield. I could see myself in his mirror black eyes. Hatred flowed between us. I accelerated forward and he flew up to his nest and mate and I reversed and he returned to my hood. I remember now we did this seven times. My eyes fly open. I am in my car in front of my house. The crow had landed at the end of my driveway. He had walked back and forth slowly. I had thrown my car into reverse and floored it. I had crashed into Mrs. Hall’s pickup backing out of her driveway across the street. Oh my god oh my god, I need to help her.

The sound of sirens fill the air as I open my car door. I look up. From his black walnut branch, the crow crooks his head, looks down, and caws.

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

A heavily synthesized version of “Don’t You (Forget About Me) drifted out of the elevator as the doors opened. Dean stepped inside. This song was from that movie, The Breakfast Club, one of Meryl’s favorites and now one of his favorites too. That is a good sign. Dean pressed the button for the top floor the executive level. He had been nervous all day. The CFO, Tom Sugarbaker, had left a voicemail on his extension late last night inviting him to lunch today. His stomach roiled all morning. And Dean wished he hadn’t spilled black coffee on his polo. He goes to the same dinky coffeehouse near his bus stop every work morning and they either spell his name wrong or get his order wrong and today they did both. How hard is it to fucking spell Dean its four fucking  letters  you would think after seven years they could remember blonde roast two sugars and soy milk. Dean had backhanded his half drunk coffee cup bearing the name Dan into the wastebasket. He had slammed his fist on his desk.

“Dude, you good?” Trevor, one of the accountants, asked as he walked past Dean’s cubicle.

Dean blushed. “I had to kill a fly.”

With a concerned look, Trevor had nodded and walked away.

Dean examined his polo shirt in the mirrored elevator doors. The stain was gone but his shirt was cool and damp. His hands were damp too. He wondered if he should give Meryl a quick call for a moral support. He knew she didn’t like to be bothered and wouldn’t talk to him for weeks if she got really annoyed. The elevator opened with a cherry ding.

The air was different on the executive floor. The lights seemed brighter too and nice artwork lined the walls. Dean entered the CFO’s office vestibule. No Sheila, No Tom just a, terrific view from the wraparound floor to ceiling windows.

Dean sat in the little chair by the secretary’s desk. He wished he had a glass office, with the fantastic adjust to your body chair, and a picture of his wife in a silver frame. He wanted her to be happy, no more fighting over who was overspending more. He convinced himself that Mr. Sugarbaker noticed Dean’s late hours and never asking for overtime and how Dean filled in for Cassie when she went on maternity leave. Dean figured Mr. Sugarbaker noticed how much Dean loved Sugarbaker’s Confectionary. Dean figured a raise and a promotion were in line. Everyone knew Hollis was retiring and Dean had seniority.

Dean waited and waited.

“And I told you might think you’re grown but as long—“ Sheila yelped at the sight of Dean’s intense face in her work area.

“Boy you scared the crap out of me. May I help you?”

“I’m here for my 12 o’clock with Mr. Sugarbaker.” Dean’s voice was as tight as an archer’s bow.

“Not today sweetie Tom had a lunch meeting with the new marketing director Don Something or Other. Give me your name and the reason for your visit and I talk to—“

Sheila looked up from her calendar deskpad and Dean was gone. Dean marched purposefully back to the elevator. As the doors closed “Hungry Like the Wolf,” filled his ears.

Dean’s stomach gurgled. He realized he had completely forgotten to eat. His stomach gurgled louder.

Trevor wheeled his desk chair to the opening of Dean’s cubicle. “You good? Bad sushi again.”

“I’m great.” Dean was smiling, relaxed. “I have diarrhea. I’m going to leave a little early today. If Hollis asks tell him I will make up my hours before week’s end.”

Trevor made a skank face and wheeled away quickly. Using Hollis’s username and password Dean had printed a generous corporate check for himself complete with a signature from Mr. Sugarbaker and created a fake invoice to disguise the missing amount. Dean slipped the check into his wallet and pictured the smile on Meryl’s face during a romantic dinner at the best restaurant in town.

Outside the lines

Holmes:  This is “That’s So Delco,” the show that focuses on the big and little stories that define Delaware County and I’m your host, Stevie Holmes. With us this morning via Zoom is controversial, artist Felonious Monk. Thank you for joining us.

Monk: [nods solemnly]

Holmes: And for our viewers I wanted to explain we agreed to allow Felonious Monk to keep his/her identity secret. That’s why you’re in silhouette. But why the all black monk’s hood? Are you making a statement on faith? Are you commenting on religion’s role in dictating culture?

Monk: No.


Holmes: Could you elaborate?

Monk: No and no.

Longer silence.

Holmes: [chuckles] Answers like that are what drove me out of teaching. You’re gonna make me work for this, aren’t you. What do I call you Felon? Monksy?

Monk: I don’t make statements I make art. And comments are the realm of art critics. Call me what you like. I’ll answer if I chose.

Holmes: I see. I get it you’re saying you want the focus on your work not your personality but the whole anonymous cloaked figure persona draws more attention to you. Isn’t anonymity putting the focus back on yourself?

Monk: I can’t help if people are drawn to mysteries. I’m not a puzzle looking to be solved. I’m just not tryin’ to get arrested.

Holmes: Fair enough Speaking of crimes let’s talk about your “art.” What some people call graffiti. Your logo the “All Seeing I” has popped up on buildings all over DelCo for years. Most recently on the sides of several supermarkets across the Main Line. What are you trying to say?

Monk: I don’t say things. I make art. Maybe more people should be saying something about what communities have markets, maybe more people should worry about access to healthy food versus a little spray paint.

Holmes: Your public sculptures are shocking, Overnight these massive installations appear, giant Hersey kisses sculptures on Kinsey elementary school lawn in Garden City, a chain of pink Dumpsters at the memorial park in Clifton Heights, the giant inflated obscene hand gesture at the Garnet Valley new housing/shopping development. It costs to remove your works. Some may ask why do you have the right to damage private or public property.

Monk: Some may ask about school funding. Some may ask about political cronyism and kickbacks and misuse of public funds. Some may ask where will poor working people live when you need to spend half your check on housing. Maybe some people may ask and investigate. I wouldn’t know I make art.

Holmes: Do you consider yourself an artist or an activist? Why not work in a gallery?

Monk: You can call me what you like. I choose how I answer.

Holmes: So wait you don’t consider yourself an artist.

Monk: Let me tell you a story. When I was little I could read but not well not quickly. Kids made fun of me. Teachers made fun of me. I would fall behind. I needed help.  So I would daydream and draw in my textbooks. One day I left my history book in my desk and when I opened it the next day the teacher, a new teacher she was young and pretty,  had written over one of my drawings: “Study harder. You’re no artist.” I continued to draw and I got into art school and I graduated and I got a nice respectable job but under my nice respectable shell I burn. My art is my fire. So no I’m no artist Miss Holmes I just make art.

Holmes: [Silence.]

The Church Secretary

Outside the church secretary’s office there were screams, the thunder of automatic gunfire. Frail in a blue flowered dress, she jumped at each sound. Sweat running down her thin neck soaking into her slip as she waited for the gunman to find her. Talitha covered her mouth to stop screaming.

Frozen, she crouched beneath the heavy metal desk. Her back bent. Her hands clenched. Her lids shut tight. Talitha prayed.

Her mind was dulled trying to think what to do, where to go. She had been practically raised here, this sacred place was home, her safe place. This was her parents’ church. She remembered her daddy’s proud face as watched the trees he’d planted in front of the church bloom. She remembered when that lot was full of cars every Sunday, when the pews were full of families. Her heart beat quieted to the images of dances and picnics, jumble sales and Christmas pageants, soup kitchens and fried oyster dinners. She saw herself helping her momma in the kitchen when she could barely see over the lip of the big double cast iron sink. This church was the steam rising off hot sudsy water and the laughter of women. Talitha wrapped herself up in the memory of her mother’s arms.

Outside in the sanctuary, it was quiet. She held her breath straining to hear. The sound of her heart filled her ears. Now barely forty heads bowed here once a week. So many families had moved away, children she had taught during vacation bible school were grown and gone. Her church sat dark except for Sundays and AA meetings. But this church was still Talitha’s.

This Sunday had started like so many others. As she fished for her big bunch of church keys she could hear the choir practicing, a handful of children playing up in the old nursery. She had popped into the church office early to try to pay bills, robbing Peter to pay Paul. The new pastor was good but young and she liked to be around to see there weren’t too many changes. Suddenly the shooting began. Talitha wiped at her tears.

Outside in the church hallway, the sound of steady, deliberate footsteps echoed. Under this roof, she met her dear Samuel at a dance, they had been married here, and she lay down flowers for his homecoming. She had seen enough taken from her. Under her desk, her tiny body steeled. Adjusting her hat and dusting off her knees, Talitha stood tall.

The Mail Room

The mailroom was supposed to be professional. Bloodworth/Sterling Mail & Communications Services prided itself on professionalism, efficiency, and customer service, at least that is what it said on its corporate website with a goofy grinned group of models In blue and gray uniforms and that is what it said on the wall of this windowless warehouse mail room. Charlie was playing a raucous game of handball against the tagline wall. Laughing by the bins, Billy and Other Billy were billowing white plumes of Brass Knuckles and betting on when Charlie would injure himself. I was mad at myself for leaving my AirPods on the kitchen table. My head dropped back.  I am so bored. I glared at my phone. It was only 9:16.

The mailroom was efficient in its way. Bloodworth/Sterling Mail Center SouthWest 43 managed 27 fan clubs. Our section handled musicians, mostly aging rock bands I never heard of and pop stars I wouldn’t listen to. Today’s agony were the fans of Michael Smith, a boy band breakout star whose big puffy lips and stupid pretty face was on teen girls’ bedroom walls across the globe. My department was Fulfillment. I don’t know what that even means. We brought in the fans’ letters and packages to the stars, opened them and sorted them. That’s it carry, open, sort all day for minimum wage. Where’s the fulfillment? For sorting there was a bin for normal fan letters. Another bin was for mad as a bag of frogs letters. There was a bin for fans’ nude photos. We had a cork board for the really funny nude pics. Gifts, usually stuffed animals, socks (why do fans send their favorite singers socks?), phone cards, hand knit sweaters, went into yet another bin. Pretty much anything good we kept. We were all twenty-somethings, mostly college students except for Old Man Dan who was I don’t know forty maybe. I just know he had kids, a mortgage to pay, and like to tell us how things were back in his day when kids weren’t so entitled. Old Man Dan and my boy Gomez scanned the letters for hard luck/feel good stories that got sent over to the individual celebrities’ management companies, so if a celebrity had new album to drop or a movie to pump or a DUI they could do a hospital visit to a lucky fan.

To the left was Data Capture, the girls entered the fans’ names and contact info so the loyal listeners would learn about tour schedules and contests. The loyal listeners also got ads for spray on hair, inside the egg egg scramblers, and other garbage when the mailing lists were sold. I could hear Irina fussing at her boyfriend over the phone. Tisha, Lulu, and Hailey were talking about The Office again. Weird Stephanie announced this was her song and started awkwardly dancing next to her desk. Fulfillment and Data Capture, clad in identical blue and gray uniforms with our plastic bins and our laptops, are only joys in this place were each other and stuffing our backpacks with socks and Beanie Babies. Chicks be so loud, I thought. Weird Stephanie caught me staring and smiled. Oh hell no. Quickly I looked down at the letter in my hand.

The mailroom did value customer service. I did what I never do I read the letter I had just opened. It read: Dear Michael, It has been one year since I joined the Michael Smith fan club. I never thought I would win a backstage pass. I never thought you and I would spend one special night together. Even though our time in the tour bus was brief I will hold it in my heart forever. I promised to never share our secret love. I love Scarlet Carson Smith and all her movies especially the ones with the wizards and I would never break up your home. Memories of that precious and our son are enough—

“I got another winner for the cork board!” Gomez shouted. Other Billy hooted. Charlie turned and his hard ball careened off the Bloodworth/Sterling company motto wall and smacked him upside his head. Now Billy hooted. The Data Capture girls popped up and turned in unison like prairie dogs. Irina headed for the first aid kit. I slipped the letter and photos of a suspiciously puffy lipped toddler into my B/S embroidered company uniform pocket and grinned from ear to ear.

Of Wolves and Angels

Iridescent damselflies flitted across the scum green pond’s surface. Rafe thought of visiting his abuela in the Keys during summer vacations, days by the water, falling asleep in the sun. Images of Carmine floated up from the pond, his crooked smile. Rafe wiped at his eyes and aimed his rented boat towards the dock.Iridescent damselflies flitted across the scum green pond’s surface.

Rafe thought of visiting his abuela in the Keys during summer vacations, days by the water, falling asleep in the sun. Images of Carmine floated up from the pond, his crooked smile. Rafe wiped at his eyes and aimed his rented boat towards the dock.The boat rental guy said follow the path and you can’t miss the cabin. The rental guy also said Rafe was a fool to come out all this way because she don’t talk to nobody. The rental guy said it serves him right if he gets his head blown clean off his shoulders. Rafe pulled alongside the dock marked private no trespassers. On the dock, Rafe stood on shaking legs and steeled himself.

Throwing back his shoulders Rafe walked into the woods. He belonged in a forest as much as he belonged on the moon. Rafe was a city kid who grew into an unapologetic hipster. With a good face and a better body, Rafe learned a few bottle tricks, honed his sexy banter, and transformed in a successful bartender. That is how he wound up working for the Spider. The money and the partying were too good to ask questions The money and the partying were too good to give up even for Carmine. Rafe told himself Carmine would come back and then he told himself things would turn out okay in the future. Rafe now knew he was wrong on both counts.

“I know you,” a voice said.

The distinctive sound of a pump shotgun being racked broke the green stillness. Arms raised, Rafe froze. Seconds ticked away.

“Call me Ace. I was a mixologist at all the big venues, the Troc and Club Ciro—“

“Ace, that’s not what your mama named you.” Her words sliced through him.

“I- I- Rafe, I’m Rafe.”

A figure stepped out the darkness. “I remember you. You were behind the bar at Dahlia’s that night.” She measured him. “Put your arms down.”

Rafe looked at the tall, lean woman with a scar on her forehead and eyes that bored into your soul. She was a legend. She was certain death if you crossed her. She was Tru. And Tru was a private detective. Rafe’s mouth went dry as ash. Massaging his hands, Rafe eyed her still raised shotgun.

Reading his mind, Tru motioned towards her shotgun and said, “This is the price I’ve paid for peace of mind. It call her Wilma.”

“I know you’re retired but I have money and I want to hire you.”

“Rafe, that’s an old English name isn’t it? It means, let me think, wolf’s counsel. Am I your wolf?”

Tru placed Wilma on her shoulder and strolled away up the path. “The yellow pages are full of PIs, counselor. Go find yourself a dick.”

Rafe was suddenly drowning, fighting to stay upright under waves of fear. “Wait, wait, I’ve come all this way. I can pay. Name your price.”

Tru continued walking away, waving bye bye over her shoulder.

“He needs you.” Rafe floundered, sputtering. “I need you. Rafael, mamá called me Rafael. She told me it meant God has healed. She named me for an angel. I’m no angel. I’m just confetti after the party is over. The angel of my life I threw away and now he’s missing. Carmine started hanging with some new friends and—and I don’t know,” Rafe wrenched his fingers through his hair. “No calls, no texts, no online, and no one has seen him in weeks. Even if he’s not mine. I need to make sure he’s safe.”

Tru sighed. She stopped and looked up to clear still sky. “Come on, you’ve found your wolf.”

Continue reading “Of Wolves and Angels”

The Gamechanger

Food is medicine. Chartreuse leaves sparkled with vitality. Megan had tried yogi. She had tried mediation and deep breathing. Megan had even prepared for a 5K well she bought sneakers. Nothing made her feel better. She held up a bunch of celery to the morning light and beamed.

With reverence Megan broke off each stalk with a satisfying snap. Her fingers lavished each stalk in cool water. She had heard of the benefits of celery juice on a morning talk show and again and again in those radio ads. After a few hours of internet research, Megan knew she was on to something real, some revolutionary. The last few years had been hard and the last few weeks unbearable. Her joints ached, her back was sore, and she was so tired. She fell asleep constantly while working from home, during Zoom classes, in front of the TV on the sofa. Days seeped into one another and Megan was a zombie circling the walls of her condo.  The Vitatasic Juice Cyclone newly unboxed gleamed on the countertop.

The juicer roared devouring leafy yellow green stalks. The scent of celery filled the kitchen reminding of Megan of countless past diets. She shook away the tragic memories of nonfat cottage cheese and celery stick lunches. This is different, she thought. Megan smiled down at the thin liquid with murky sludge at the bottom. This is resuscitation in a glass, not just a return to health but freedom from the threat of new disease. Megan drank.

The glass sat half empty on the counter. Flushed and sweaty, Megan rested her forehead against wonderfully cool toilet bowl rim. She kneeled on the floor of her bathroom until the bitter dregs in her stomach quieted. After a few more dry heaves she washed her face, fished her sneakers out from under the bed, and went outside to take a long walk.