"Reflections" by Mark Ari

I don’t know what death is. I don’t believe what anyone says about it, though there are plenty of folks who think they know something. That’s okay. Maybe they know what they think they know. If they know it and feel it strongly enough, then I’m sure such confidence is great for them. It must be comforting.

This last year, I didn’t speak to Mom much. I always called her once a week no matter where I was living in the world. Usually on Sunday. My father sometimes got on the phone. When he did, he was brief. But mom wanted to chat. On the phone or when we saw one another, she’d start the same way. “What’s cookin’, kid?” Before I could answer, she’d sing. A verse or two. Some love song from the fifties. I’d wait until she was done to get on with it. I’m not comfortable on the phone. When the news is good, it feels to me boastful to say it. When the news is bad, it sounds like whining. So she’d ask what I ate that day. Really, Mom? You want to know what I had for breakfast?

People say she is in “a better place.” I try not to wince. I say it, too. To comfort my father. I don’t know what else to say. His dementia is such that he relives losing her every moment of the day. The same questions over and over. She died? When? I wasn’t in bed with her last night? How did she die? Where was I? I couldn’t save her? There was a funeral? Was I there?

Posted on March 10, 2017 .

"Ponds" by Chloe Firetto-Toomey

We’re the last to board. The wheels of the plane jolt us into the air against the weight of the world. She watches England diminish into royal blue hues as ice crystals frame the portal, and the clouds become giant molars drifting under us. I cry most of the journey, wailing and gasping, my newborn ears popping in the pressurized cabin. At Miami International Airport we press through the crowds as American and Spanish accents clamor over the tannoy. My large, hairy father waits patiently in the arrivals lounge, his oceanic eyes shiny and expectant. He spots us and opens his wingspan to greet us, enfold us.

Posted on March 24, 2016 .