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Caprese, Footballs, Guilt & Telephone Calls

Caprese Salad 2 500When I woke up at Joel’s apartment, there was only a table lamp throwing a puddle of low golden light near the sofa I was on. I knew instantly where I was, but it took a few minutes to piece together the why of it. I remembered Joel tossing me a cushion with instructions to “put your feet up, relax” when we took our wine to the living room after cleaning up the dinner dishes.

He’d washed, I dried. We had both devoured the dinner he’d made. It was a seriously wonderful meal: caprese salad to start, spaghetti carbonara with a side of broccoli rabe. It was like Joel was wooing me by making all the childhood favorites. I’d brought the wine, spent a couple of hours in a shop in Del Mar, talking to the owner before selecting an expensive Pinot Grigio from Italy to start, and an even more expensive Barolo to accompany dinner. I was trying to impress Joel and it worked. He whistled when he saw the Barolo. I got another, “Nice work, Vela,” comment which was a thing I had seriously begun to covet.

~Excerpt from the novel-in-progress The Difficulty of Ending, by Donna Marganella


images-1Other than oil and tornados, the first thing you think about when someone says Oklahoma is football and Indians. There is a giant billboard on the interstate that says Sooner Country. I thought I saw one earlier for OK State, the Cowboys—which is a bullshit name. I would rather they named all the teams after Indians—every single team. At least that way we would win sometimes. The Cowboys don’t need any more adulation or credit.

The billboard reminds me of when I was ten, and we used to play football across city lawns. Our yards were too small for a field so we had to play across four. Thornton, the kid who had the ball had a Voit. It was perfectly sized; I could wrap my fingers around the white rubber lace and hold the smooth brown rubber scales with one hand. My hands were small, but with the Voit I could throw a spiral like a spinning drill.

I told the old man about it, Mom’s new boyfriend, and the scheme to get me football for my birthday. I heard them whispering. But when the day came my gift was a big fat Wilson football—a knock-off that I could hardly hold with two hands. The boyfriend said my hand would grow into the ball. It wasn’t a Voit, like I’d wanted. Like I asked for.

~Excerpt from a work-in-progress titled Regalia by Mark Radoff


guilt_by_xpoppymay-d52p3veGathered around the dining room table, my family waits. Their faces, uplifted, hold expressions mixed with consternation and disappointment, yet I sense a sort of openness there too. I am hoping it is an openness that will allow them to someday forgive me. I’ve run back to them, to the family fold. I know my mother and father will forgive me wholeheartedly but for my older sister, Lisette, forgiveness won’t come so easily. She has always seen the world in black and white. My family had not exactly banished me. But after my quickie marriage and ensuing year with Randy, I was masterful at avoiding them, at side-stepping their judgment and discontent. Perhaps I had banished them.

~Excerpt from short-story-in-progress, “Spooning” by Jill Dyan Martin


images-2Harold stumbled over his words, “I’m committed Mr. Petrinado, I am.”

“You are not committed!” roared Petrinado. “You are nowhere near committed. In my day, a man put his work first, God and country second, and his family someplace after that. You know you’re committed when your first marriage falls apart. Jesus, I had already filed for divorce by the time I reached your age. That’s commitment.”

Harold’s shingles zinged into life. “I’m not even married yet, Mr. Petrinado.”

“That’s what I’m talking about. Hopeless,” said the Chief God before dissolving into a fit of coughing that lasted several seconds. Harold clenched his teeth to keep them from chattering into the phone.

~Excerpt from a novel-in-progress, The San Jose Suicide Hotline by James Albert

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