All posts by Susan Shafarzek

A Very Small Adventure by Susan Shafarzek

Photo of plane flying in sky
 

Many, oh, many, many, years ago, a friend and I took a plane trip to Minneapolis, Minn. It was not a first flight, but it was a first time west for both of us. Our flight began in Newark, N.J. This friend believed, or professed to believe, that airplanes only stayed in the air because the passengers kept willing it to do so. Perhaps she was being facetious, but in any event, that was probably our only worry. In those days, no one searched your luggage and the rows of seats seemed not to be … Continue reading A Very Small Adventure by Susan Shafarzek

Dear Portland: a Love Letter to My Childhood Sweetheart by Melissent Zuwalt

Photo of Japanese lanterns
 

We first met holding hands at the outdoor Saturday market, vendors selling tie-dyed tee shirts and us eating foods that seemed exotic to me, like yakisoba noodles and teriyaki chicken. You revealed an existence better suited for me—one that lay beyond the endless berry fields and tractors and crippling solitude of my rural childhood. Although our time together was limited, you were the first city I ever knew, dear Portland. And my love for you was instant and deep and true. Remember how, when I was in high school, I tried to visit you as … Continue reading Dear Portland: a Love Letter to My Childhood Sweetheart by Melissent Zuwalt

Culture Shock by Rachel Lutwick-Deaner

Photo of kayaker on water
 

Fifteen years ago, I knew that moving to the Midwest would be a kind of culture shock. I knew it because I googled “Regional Food of Michigan” and the first thing that came up was “cereal.” But I didn’t know then what I know now, that Midwestern Nice was going to be the real shock. I always felt shy growing up on Long Island. Part of that shyness was that I was an outsider from the start. We started our lives as a family in Palo Alto, Calif., where I was born at Stanford University … Continue reading Culture Shock by Rachel Lutwick-Deaner

I Don’t Miss You When You’re Not With Me by Bridget Verhaaren

Photo of two wedding rings
 

I reach for a glass jar of sweet gherkins and notice the same unfamiliar woman is following me down another aisle in the grocery store. I wonder if it is a coincidence. My gut tells me otherwise. The wavy-haired woman is looking down at her phone. Moving toward her, I pretend to search for stone ground mustard. I am now close enough to see she is on social media. Startled I am so near, she stammers, “You, you, you look familiar.” I look at her and know I have never seen her before, unless I … Continue reading I Don’t Miss You When You’re Not With Me by Bridget Verhaaren

A Death Remembered by Miles Fowler

Close up photo of JFK coin
 

At recess, I was talking to a friend on the schoolyard, when a kid came up to us and said that President Kennedy had been shot. He did not say he had died. He just said he had been shot. I turned to my friend, and we exchanged uncertain looks. There was something smart-alecky about this kid, and I accused him of trying to put one over on us. I was twelve years (plus two months) old that November 1963, and I had read a book about the Secret Service, so I knew that the … Continue reading A Death Remembered by Miles Fowler

For Ali by Elizabeth Bird

Photo of bouquets of funeral flowers
 

My flight is booked. I’ll be with you at the hospital, and I’ll stay for your recovery when your kids go back to work. It’s been just a few days—plenty of time for the doctors to figure things out. We’ve been talking on screens for too long; I can’t wait to hug you! And then our brother is on the phone, a strange urgency in his voice. “She wants to see you; she needs to see you.” “You told her I’m coming? I’ll be there in forty-eight hours. I’m on my way!” “She wants to … Continue reading For Ali by Elizabeth Bird

Missing by Richard Key

Photo of gardening gloves on tops of tools
 

These searched for their family records, but could not find them and so were excluded from the priesthood as unclean. Ezra 2:62 I can’t tell you exactly what percent of my waking hours is spent looking for things. It could be as little as twelve percent. Probably closer to thirty. It’s worse at certain times of the year. Tax season seems to be a period when I drive myself mad searching for one thing or another: proof of a charitable contribution, a 1099 form, a statement from my Swiss bank saying everything’s cool. In my … Continue reading Missing by Richard Key

An Incident On the Red Line by Miles Fowler

Black and white photo of people in a subway car
 

I would describe what I witnessed that day as a meeting of the mundane and the spiritual. I was a young man living in Boston, Mass., in the late 1970s, when I saw something that made an indelible impression on me. It was one unexpected gesture made by someone from whom I should have expected it, but I might have been too jaded. Besides, at the time, I was preoccupied by my own disquiet at seeing another’s ill fortune. The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority, locally known as “the T,” still deploys four color-designated rail lines. … Continue reading An Incident On the Red Line by Miles Fowler

The Letter by Cheryl Somers Aubin

Photo of blue mailbox
 

To the new family I sent a letter about the house and our memories of living there for forty-five years. I did tell them lots of information about the house that they needed to know. I gave advice about things to do. I was helpful. I did not tell them how heartbreaking it was for us to move our mother to a memory care facility —her new forever home. I did tell them we’d been happy. I did tell them about the bleeding hearts that grew by the side of the house and seeing a … Continue reading The Letter by Cheryl Somers Aubin

Tsunami Stones by Karen Mittelman

Photo looking through redrocks
 

All along the coastline of Japan, hundreds of tall stone tablets stand as warnings about the possibility of natural disasters. Many date back to the 1880s, when two deadly tsunamis battered the coast and killed more than twenty thousand people. Carved with care, the ancient tablets convey messages from one generation to the next, advising those who read them to seek high ground after an earthquake, and to avoid low-lying areas in case of floods. One of the most well-known is called the Aneyoshi tablet, a four-foot slab of stone placed high up on the … Continue reading Tsunami Stones by Karen Mittelman