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Ruth & Jimmy #1: The Exquisite Egg

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Ruth & Jimmy #1: The Exquisite Egg

“Do you think an egg ever wakes up in the carton one day and says, ‘Holy shit. I’m just one of a dozen!’ That it’s always been just one of a dozen?”

“What?” Jimmy stood on the deck, folded in half, grunting over the power washer that would no longer spark and turn.

“It was never as special, never as revered or cherished as it thought,” she said. “Just an ordinary egg among eggs.” A book lay closed in her lap, and the backs of her bare thighs stuck to the plastic deck chair. She lifted them one at a time until they thwacked loose.

“Jesus,” he said. Broken machinery lay in parts across the width of six deck slats.

“Jesus me? Or Jesus power washer?” she said, squinting.


“Jesus,” she answered. “You said Jesus.” She mimicked his exasperation. “Did you mean, Jesus, I wish you would shut up, Ruth? Or Jesus Lord God, please help me with this power washer?

He squatted, and his knees cracked. He peered at her pointedly, his face scrunched either from confusion or the sun’s glare, she wasn’t sure which. “Jesus,” he repeated and shook his head.

He sat then, with a final hrumph, the bulk of him piled like a cairn next to an assortment of discarded tools and mechanical miscellany. “I think eggs are eggs. I like to eat them in the morning while drinking coffee.”

“Fine,” she said and picked up her book, opening it to the bookmark.

He sighed. “Is this your way of telling me you feel like an egg?”

“Yes.” She snapped her book closed once more.

A baby cried inside the house next door. Chloe, 6 months. “Don’t be too friendly,” she’d told Jimmy after the child was born, “or they might ask us to babysit.”

“Didn’t you think life was going to be more…” she paused. “Exquisite?”





“No.” His knees cracked again when he stood, and his t-shirt had bunched into a sloppy knot above the waistband of his shorts—camouflage Army fatigues cut off at the knees. He did not correct it before he disappeared inside through the back screen door.

She heard his footsteps, steady and plodding, down the basement steps.

He returned carrying an empty cardboard box. He still had not fixed his shirt.

She watched him as he tossed power washer parts into the box—Four days from a razor, dark stubble lined his cheeks and chin. A smear of oil stretched from the pointer and middle fingers of his right hand up to just below his elbow. The stitching of one belt loop had lost its hold, and the loop pointed east (stupidly, Ruth thought).

“Still no?”


He stood and pulled his shirt down.

“Then, what did you think it would be?” she asked. A small metal bracket of some kind lay behind his heel, and she gestured at it.

“What did I think what would be?” He waved a fly away from his ear. “Thanks,” he said, retrieving the bracket from the floor behind his heel.

“Life!” she said. Why wasn’t he following?

“I don’t know, Ruth. Jesus.” He turned in a circle, scanning the floor for missed parts. “I didn’t think anything. One day I was born. That was fine, I guess. I don’t remember it. And then every morning from then until now, I’ve been waking up, getting out of bed, and doing stuff. I hope it’s the right stuff. I try not to fuck it up. And I try not to be an asshole.”

“Well, don’t get mad about it,” said Ruth.

“I’m not mad,” Jimmy answered. “I just don’t understand what you expect. It’s not a parade every day or… whatever. The world isn’t barfing out magic all the time. I mean sometimes, sure. And that’s nice and all, but–”


“Magic. Stop. Listen. What did you expect?”

She opened her book again to the bookmark and shrugged.

“I thought it would be a little more exquisite.”


Written by little p

June 28, 2017 at 3:37 pm

free range shit eggs

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I can’t blame it on the heat, I suppose. Nor can I blame it on you.

I cannot finish a sentence without the sudden urge to be in the next room. And then the next. And the one beyond that. I am a cat who cannot make up her mind where to sit, who cannot make up her mind whether to love you or slice you open and hiss.

There are two birds kickaree-calling to one another in the back yard. They seem fine; although, I wouldn’t know it if they weren’t. I do not know the language of birds. Maybe they are singing sonnets. Maybe they are screaming death threats. I wouldn’t know the difference.

When we aren’t too busy fearing the unknown, we are romanticizing it, don’t you think? Aren’t both a detriment? One sets you up and leaves you there. The other sets you up to fall.

I try to stay in the middle–keep a simple inventory and do math. But I cannot keep Mind still, and Body tries to follow.

The grocery store should not be harrowing. I go, donning my most ordinary pedestrian suit, inner dials turned to numb. But there at the eggs, I cannot focus through the glass. “The Climb” is playing. Miley Cyrus. How old was she when she recorded that? Thirteen? What did she know of climbing mountains at 13? Yet still. I love the song. A woman interrupts it periodically to announce specials over the loud speakers and call for help in numbered lanes. I hate her for the interruption. And I hate myself for hating her.

But mostly I hate the pedantry and my inability to stay above water when paddling through.

A man and a woman stock shelves in the next aisle and chit chat. I can’t focus enough to register their conversation and cannot un-focus enough to stop hearing it.

What is the thing I read about chickens? “Cage Free” sounds nice, but isn’t always. “Cage Free” could be a dark shed with 200 chickens in a space meant for 10, shitting in the same place they eat. “Grain fed” maybe, but with some shit mixed in.

“Shit eggs,” I say to myself out loud.

It is just enough noise and movement to feel normal and momentarily present.

I reach for a dozen called Free Range and hope they come from a sun-drenched yard full of hens whom a ruddy-cheeked chicken farmer calls by name.

Written by little p

June 7, 2017 at 2:29 pm

Posted in thought

time travel

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I time traveled this morning.

A slow jog uphill, past the Masonic cemetery, past tidy rows of marble and stone, death and internment so neat and clean (defying the messy lives that preceded them), past chain-link, past waving flapping snapping heralding boasting patriotism, past the pond.

The pond’s fringe and underwater beasts had ripened in yesterday’s sun. Olfactory neurons touched electric fingers and zapped. Amid the smoke and fiber, I slipped through the sidewalk, subterranean, and reemerged on my grandparents’ dock in Minnesota.

Minnows in buckets. Unfortunate fish strung through with wire and tied to the dock. I pull mussels from their muddy riverbeds and watch them snap shut. Cattails and reeds grow tall and thick where the river bends and snakes from lakes Rush to McGowan.

The din of teenagers carries and mutes when I go under. They jump from the rusty bridge a quarter mile over, disappearing into the murky depths just before the dam. They come with their families to the fishing resorts on the other side of the highway every summer, wear ripped Led Zeppelin t-shirts and smoke. I do not know what to say to them and so I let my sisters and cousins do the talking while I braid grass and dandelions and watch for turtles.

At least thirty years later and still this din.

The hill is steep and my knees scream age. I slow my jog and scan the pond’s edge for signs of life.

Written by little p

May 27, 2017 at 11:38 am

Posted in thought

the fighter jet

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There’s a hole in my pocket big enough to lose the few things I’ve tried to keep: My keys and a jet most recently.

“Not a jet; a fighter jet,” he corrects me.

He is five, and semantics are important.

It was orange and plastic and came from his father’s house, small enough to hide in his closed fist…if five were not too young for closed fists.

He handed the jet–fighter jet–to me for safe keeping before he climbed into the barber chair. I put the trinket in my pocket, forgetting the hole.

“What are you thinking?” the barber, a man named Bob (according to the name plate glued to the mirror), asks me. He combs my son’s shaggy blonde hair, and I think: Home. I am thinking of home.

“He says he wants it all the way short,” I say. “Boy short,” as if there is only one way to cut a boy’s hair. I don’t have any other descriptor words. I use my hands awkwardly. I don’t know boys. And I don’t know hair.

Mine is long and neglected, pulled back in a loose bun, framed by age and chaos–chaos because I drive with the windows down like a dog (except for the driving part, because dogs do not, except in cartoons). Also, because I do not care enough. I do not see the point.

At some crux in a girl’s life, she decides how she will earn her keep. Chubby and crooked in my youth, I chose smart and self-reliant. I also chose pleasing, although I would not name that until later. My keep has never depended on beauty or youth, and that feels like solid insurance now.

Barber Bob studies my boy’s hair; but he is also studying me. Am I the complaining type? Persnickety? Will I hover? He begins.

I watch cheerfully, smiling, encouraging, falsely easy-going, low-maintenance, chill and super. Pleasing. I will bend and adapt. It’s just hair, and I will not make a fuss, I promise you, Bob.

Every blonde inch gone, he looks older, his face slimmer. It’s fine.

We carry history in our hair, I have been told.

When it is done, we ply the gum ball machine by the door with pennies until my boy has two blues and one red. Bob sweeps blonde locks into a dustpan.

The fighter jet is gone by the time we reach home.

Written by little p

May 7, 2017 at 10:12 pm

Posted in thought

electrified nerve bundles

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He is five and wants to know what will last forever. I tell him nothing trying my best not to sound morose.

“But what about that building?” he asks. It is big and made of brick and steel.

“Nope,” I say.

“Could the wind knock it down?”

“If it’s strong enough,” I answer.

“How strong? Like a tornado?”

“Yes, a tornado could knock it down.”

“But a tire would last forever because it’s rubber.”

We are in the car, and he is watching traffic through the window. It is streaked blue with crayon and smudged with fingerprints. I do not want to wash it off.

“Tires are made of rubber,” I say, although I’m sure it’s more complicated than that. “But even tires will break apart eventually.”

“If you leave them in water will they break apart?”

“Probably. It would take a really long time, though.” I don’t know if this is correct but I assume it is.

“How long?”

“I don’t know. A lot longer than you and I will live, I guess.”

“Are we going to break apart?” he asks.

I do not like to sugarcoat. We are science. We are neutrons and electrons, cartilage and tissue. We are electrified nerve bundles with terrible memories. We are congealed stardust careening through space; and perhaps the only magic of us is that we are here—laughing, crying, and forgetting our size–and then gone.

“Our bodies will, yes,” I answer. “I’m going to love you forever, though.”

“I’ll love you forever, too,” he says.

And just like that, we’re okay.

Written by little p

April 24, 2017 at 6:38 am

Posted in thought


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You have attached to me like a battered ship to an anchor. Such confidence you’ve placed in my immovable grip on sea floor, and I do not mean to disappoint; but I should tell you that the floor is shifting.

Written by little p

April 2, 2017 at 8:16 am

Posted in thought


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Where did all that verve go, driving you around the morning on sturdy cypress legs? You were taller just before, unshaken and clear. Rooted and reaching. Until a familiar chorus fell into the hole in your head. Look at you now, Dear, clearcut to the couch by a blade that has neither heft nor shape but is plenty sharp enough.

Isn’t that something, how a mind turns and bends? The nature of us would be more predictable, you’d think, what with all this talk and cartography.

Scenic coastal highways spiral around then down, and our thoughts cruise past with the windows up. The weatherstripping has lost its grip, and the outside roar no longer charms. Thoughts curl around your sturdy trunk and slow to idle with the radio off. Here they have parked to mourn.

Written by little p

March 25, 2017 at 3:35 pm

Posted in thought