by Michael Neal Morris
I spent a lot of afternoons with my grandparents as small boy, especially in the years between my mother’s divorce and the beginning of her marriage to my step-father. They often took care of my brothers and me while my mother worked double-shifts at a nearby Kip’s. They even dropped us off and picked us up from catechism classes, where I was preparing for my first communion. At their house, I spent most of my time with my grandmother. She, of course, made and served the requisite cookies and helped us with homework. But she also kept us busy with things to draw and color on, or she took us outside to show us her marvelous backyard garden. I loved playing in that backyard, especially when play really meant sitting under the bushes with a book, smelling honeysuckle while watching a lizard’s throat change colors on the fence, or watching my grandmother in her big sun hat prune the flowers she had coaxed to grow in the odd mix of soil found at Dallas residences. It was here she showed me how to peel and eat a pomegranate from a tree she had taken care of. Continue reading
By Judith C. Dumont
Names have been changed to protect the privacy of individuals who are not the author.
Tuesday afternoons usually find me huddled down in meetings and this Tuesday was no different. In the suite of my workspace, I was processing a program launch when the door suddenly opened.
“Ms. Dumo—“ she stammered. “Oh, I will come back. I didn’t know…”
It was P, a former student. She had just graduated the previous term and was now working part-time at the college while taking her last few pre-requisites for nursing school. It wasn’t like her to barge in—her nature was always respectful and humble, especially when it came to my time. She was rare that way.
“Hey! I’m in the middle of…”
“Yeah, I can go. I can…” Her eyes darted to the floor. She pulled at her long braid, wrapping it around her neck like a scarf.
“P, you okay?”
“I’ll come back…” Her eyes darted as she backed out of the room.
My co-worker made eye contact with me. “It’s okay,” she said. “We can stop for a bit.”
“Thanks.” I stood up. “P. Come in. Come in.”
by Lauren Young
Dr. Bidiwala held Kyle’s enormous hand in the air, as close as possible to the ceiling, by the yellow fluorescent light box. He rotated the hand slowly as he inspected it. A baseball mitt. A bear claw. A cartoon hand. The damn thing cast a shadow on our faces.
“Wow,” the neurosurgeon mumbled, deep in concentration. “You’re a real, live acromegaly patient, Kyle. I’ve seen one before, in medical school, but I never got to look at him up close. He wasn’t my patient. But you . . . look at your hands.” Continue reading
by Amy Dennis
Running, I turned onto the sidewalk along John King Boulevard. I cover this route a lot. It’s my only focused time outside, so I really should unplug and tune in to what’s happening around me: the sweet smell of cedars in the local park; gray rabbits scuttling under a brick wall as I trot toward them; school kids released to the wilds of a fenced playground for brief recess. These are the pretty little details of my otherwise cookie cutter neighborhood, and I appreciate their earthiness. But this whole running thing isn’t just about sucking up fresh air and spinning off calories. It’s my therapy time, think time, idea time. Sure, it looks like I’m just jogging along, but I may be mentally rearranging my living room, trying to remember how old my parents are, or praying (again) for courage. Almost always, though, on every run, I bring along the nearest set of cheap ear buds. I plug in, and most of the time, I let the music take me away somewhere else completely.
by Billy Dennis
Billy Dennis Jr. 3-4 years old
Billy Dennis Sr.
Keeton Park Golf Course
I’ve tried to work out how old I was at the time. My best guess is that I was between two and three years of age. My father, Billy Dennis Sr., a legend of Dallas golf, brought home a 3-iron that he found discarded on the golf course. The club had been cut-down by cutting the middle section out and welding it back together. This was before they really engineered clubs for kids, so even cut-down, the club was so heavy that it almost caused me to fall over on my backswing. But I adored it. Golf quickly became my life. After all, it was my dad’s life and his looked pretty good. “It doesn’t matter if you’re three or ninety-three,” my dad would say as I swung away, “if you can stand, you can play golf.” Some kids have their security blanket. I had my 3-iron.
by Shayn Davenport
My brother Josiah has always been my wingman. Like me, he is strong and stout. Besides our blonde hair, we are every bit the Czech image our father has passed onto us. He is exactly two years younger than I am, and he is one of my best friends. He knows everything about my life.
“Are you ready to go, Josiah?”
“In a minute. I have to piss.”
“Hurry up; Mom will be back soon and I’d like to avoid that whole shit-storm.”
“No shit, should we leave a note?” cynicism laces Josiah’s laugh.
“Yeah, she’ll be wracked with worry about her two lovely boys.”
We both have feelings of despair. He feels the abandonment and emptiness of our family. It is as deep as Death Valley and just as dry. One good thing about inattentive parents, though, is they don’t miss you when you’re not around.
by Amy Dennis
Fearlessness is a slick shyster. We tend to think of fearless acts as those steps of faith that balance on the tightrope between dreams and disaster. Not always. Fear rides around in our back pockets every day, just waiting for the chance to hold us back from our own growth. The good news? Fear’s alter ego, fearlessness, hitches a ride, too. It’s in the other pocket: the odd, brittle good luck charm from your childhood that you can’t quite bring yourself to ditch.
Women especially tend to hold fear close, like a trusted companion. Sometimes that’s healthy. Fear can, after all, prevent us from engaging in dangerous behaviors. Fear settles into our guts and raises goosebumps along our unsuspecting arms, pulling us away from dark corners of decisions that don’t even need to be made. So powerful are those instincts that they often override the stubbornness and social dissatisfaction that can lead to powerful life changes. What does that look like?