Why Didn’t You Cry?


It was the third day of summer when they told you that your mother and father weren’t coming back. As you stood in the front yard, watching the police cars roll down the street, imagining that they would stop before the house, or after it, that they had come for someone else, and realizing in the same second that they had in fact come for you, and only you, you curled your bare toes into the grass, inhaled the salty tang of your sweat, and stared blindly into the heat. Continue reading


When the Sea Dries Up


When you are children still fresh from the womb, your fathers will tell you the truth that their fathers told them: All things die, but not the sea. The grass withers and the flowers fade, but the sea will never dry up. It has no beginning and no end. The sea is forever. Continue reading

Sylvia’s Sister


Martin did not want to meet Sylvia’s family. He said he did, and even agreed several times to drive them both to her parents’ house, but something always came up to prevent them from going together, so that in the end Sylvia had to make the hundred-mile drive herself to see her family, and tell Martin all about it afterward while he watched TV.

Still, Sylvia believed Martin when he said he wanted to meet her family someday. She also believed him when he said he wanted to marry her. She had known Martin for eighteen months and had been in love with him for nearly ten, and so she did not really want to believe otherwise.

Continue reading

Under the Red Moon


The night I ran away was a Sunday, October 18, 11:38 PM. I remember because my little brother gave me his watch before I left, and that’s what it said.

We stood in the field behind the house of the people who pretended to be our parents. The grass chafed at the soles of our feet. A low wind pricked and tingled our skin. Under the glowering red moon we felt small and fragile, like paper dolls stripped of their clothes. Continue reading



You will not need to look for him. He will come to you. He will come to you on a warm night, the last night of September, and you will see him, smell him, feel him, even with your eyes and your mind and your heart closed. Like joy, like pain, he will demand to be felt. And you will feel him.

On your front stoop you are sitting with your knees together and your feet apart and you are smoking a second cigarette. You never smoke more than one before bed. But it is the last night of September, and tomorrow is October and autumn and cold and emptiness, and tonight the rain is pleasant. Still empty, but warm, and therefore a little comforting. So you are smoking a second cigarette with your eyes closed, imagining the smoke as it curls and presses against the walls of your lungs, seeing its dim meandering path in the dark like the negative of a forgotten photo, allowing yourself a rare moment to feel nothing.

And then him. Continue reading

An Old Man in a Far Country


Inspired by a true story from the life of my grandfather, who spent his last years working in the Middle East to support his family in the Philippines.

You work as a mechanic in a land of yellow sand and wind and nothing else, where at noon the people turn their faces to the place where Muhammad was born and drop to their knees and pray. You do not pray with them – you pray to a different God – but you do it in secret because if you do not do it in secret they will send you back to your own country, or worse. And you cannot afford to return to your country now, even though with every day that you are in this strange place, a small part of you stops breathing. Continue reading

The Three Postcards


I open my mailbox to find three postcards. One blue, one green, and one the color of stones touched by melting snow. No name, no postmark. Just little pen-and-ink drawings, light and tenuous, of the places they must have been. The drawings don’t resemble any places I’ve ever seen, in pictures or in real life. Maybe they’re drawings of places beyond this earth. Continue reading