Regina’s Raspberry Jam

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Everyone loved Regina’s raspberry jam. No one could get enough of it, either. As fast as Regina could produce it, it’d get bought up and consumed within the first couple days. No matter what she did, demand always outpaced supply.

From the moment that one popular food blogger mentioned her jam, Regina was inundated with orders. Something about the jam was extraordinary. No one could quite put their finger on it, either. People even went so far as to investigate the suppliers of the raspberries to see if they were selling Regina something special, like a hybrid variety or something. Nope. Just regular, organic berries. They were high quality, but nothing you couldn’t find at a Whole Foods or another high-end retailer. Continue reading “Regina’s Raspberry Jam”

Pretty Little Bugs

As one might imagine, a degree in Film doesn’t immediately lead to job offers. At the age of 23, I was desperately looking for a job – any job, really – but if I could find one that used my talents and my passion, I’d be ecstatic. When I refreshed the job section of Craigslist and saw, “Cameraman Wanted” with an email address, I shot off an email as fast as I could and within an hour I heard back.

After a brief email exchange, the next day I ended up interviewing with a thin, well-dressed man in a beautiful midtown apartment. The man, who introduced himself as Andrew, was polite and straightforward. “Do you have any moral issues with homosexuality and filming homosexual acts?” he asked, studying me for a reaction.

Continue reading “Pretty Little Bugs”

Great Potential

When I was growing up, I was always the girl everyone said would make a great mom. It made sense; I love being around kids. I was a babysitter for the neighbor’s children when I was ten, and they liked the work I did so much they recommended me to their friends. When I finished high school, I was one of the few people who knew exactly what she wanted to do after college: teach! What better way to enjoy children than being a formative presence in their young lives?

After I got my Masters, I was lucky enough to get a job as a kindergarten teacher in the city. Growing up on a farm in the Midwest was something I’ll always be proud of; great people, strong faith, meat and potatoes meals, and all that, but I really hoped I’d end up in a big city. Lo and behold, my prayers were answered. Continue reading “Great Potential”

Tunnel Rat

centipede

(A horror story about war.)

I’m sharing the story because I was forced to sit through it during New Year’s Eve dinner and I’m so freaked out and god damn itchy that I need to get it out of my system. I’m sure some of you are going to breeze on by this little tantrum here and go right to the meat of the story because you’re thinking, “hey, I’ve got a strong stomach.” Well, go for it.

Boring stuff out of the way: he was drafted, and since he was short and skinny, he was a perfect tunnel rat. Those were the guys who wriggled their way through the ridiculously narrow tunnels the Viet Cong used to transport personnel and weapons, set boobytraps, and all that. And when I say narrow, I mean narrow. Here’s a pic.

So, gramps was wriggling around in a tunnel one day and a few bad things happened. First, the two other people with him got killed by a solitary VC while they were standing around the hole. Being a few feet underground and about twenty feet through meant grandpa couldn’t see who attacked them or know if anyone survived. He later learned he was the only one left alive, but he assumed the VC attacker would soon start throwing grenades into the tunnel and he’d be done for. After a few minutes with no sign of any incoming attack, grandpa breathed a sigh of relief and starting moving forward again. A little while later, though, it starting pouring rain. The tunnel began to fill with water. Continue reading “Tunnel Rat”

Comfort Food

My wife lost her battle with bone cancer a year ago. I have no one.

I’ve worked from home for the last six months. My employer has been sympathetic and accommodating after everything that happened. Too many workplaces neglect and end up getting rid of disabled employees. I guess I should feel valued.

Breakfast was mac and cheese left over from the night before. I hadn’t made enough for the meal to be even remotely satisfying. Stock prices and quantitative analytics spilled from my computer monitors as I tried to concentrate on work. My eyes kept drifting over to the picture of me and Brynn on our wedding day. I have no attention span when I’m hungry.

I groaned as I lifted myself into a standing position. My knees were shot. I made my way over to the kitchen pantry and got a bag of chips and a bottle of soda. Coughing as I trundled across the office over to my desk, I’d already opened the chips and was pushing them into my mouth. As I walked by and saw my reflection in the glossy murk of my hibernating television, I could swear I saw Brynn standing by my side. When I blinked, she was gone. Just like a year ago. Continue reading “Comfort Food”

Sprouts

My sunflower seeds started talking to me last month. I couldn’t believe it; I’d been lonely for such a long time. It felt good to have friends. I bet it was my mom who asked them to keep me company. I miss her terribly.

The clearest memory I have of Mom was when she told me that all the beauty in the world grows from something small. I was helping her in the garden, and we’d just planted sunflowers. My favorite. A couple days later, she showed me the tiny, burgeoning sprouts that would eventually become the towering, yellow flowers I loved so much. She repeated what she told me about beauty. I remember being amazed. I’d wake up every morning and head outside and check their progress. Each time, they were a little bit bigger. Continue reading “Sprouts”

Under My Teeth

Something’s living under my teeth. Whenever I chew, it screams. I had to stop eating. Now I blend everything up and drink it so I don’t have to hear the sound anymore. Brushing my teeth is out. More screaming; bloodcurdling shrieks stopping only when I don’t apply pressure. Even when I sleep, if my mouth closes and my teeth click together, my ears are pierced with the sounds of agony. Continue reading “Under My Teeth”