Category Archives: little white lies

the boy with the guitar

The Boy With the Guitar

If he could change the way things are he’s not sure he would. The child is the only thing that kept her from becoming a statistic in a lifetime worth of studies.

She was 17 when she chose and in the back of her mind she knew. After that it all just kind of…happened. She never thinks about what her life could have been like. She’s not sad but she’s not happy. She doesn’t know what happy is and if this is it then so what?

She knows she’s a good mother. Her mother was a good mother and she was a melancholy child. Her son is melancholy (for a boy) and she isn’t sure whether to be relieved or concerned. Despite everything she likes herself and figures that if he turns out like her it could be worse.

She does what she has to. Doesn’t everyone?

Are there people who can do anything they choose? How do they choose? Maybe she would have been successful in a meaningless career. Maybe she’d have lived a glamorous life: traveling the world and making friends with names even she could barely pronounce. Maybe she’d only come home for holidays and send her family postcards on their birthdays. Maybe she’d be lonely.

He picks his nephew up on Sundays so she can rest.

He only sings happy songs, even if the child is sleeping.

In a few years, the child will know he was never part of anyone’s dream but at least he’ll never have to realize the dream didn’t come true.

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the golden lady

The Golden Lady

Her daughters never visit. If she had sons they would. Sons don’t forget to visit, but neither do daughters.

She doesn’t drink because she doesn’t drink alone. But she would, if she wasn’t.

She’s a waitress in the airport and her customers are always angry because she’s slow. But she’s nice, so they feel bad. Next time they’ll go to the noodle bar.

She lives in a rent-controlled apartment that’s the size of a train car and about the same shape. There are gaps between the boards in her hard wood floors but she only wears slippers in the winter.

She doesn’t own a cat, mostly because she’s stubborn and afraid of being a stereotype.   She owns a bird, but doesn’t really like him, or her, whatever. And when he dies she won’t get another pet.  Maybe.

Her answering machine is in a drawer alongside a flashlight with no batteries and a deck of 51 cards. She says it leaves no room for spontaneity.

She loves the color of watermelon rinds and one of her pillowcases is green.

On Sundays she treats herself to fresh squeezed orange juice from the stand around the corner. She goes downstairs and knocks on the door of the elderly Chinese couple. Sometimes their son answers, or his wife. She says “good morning” and asks if they’ve read The Times yet. They lie and offer her the comics. She thanks them and tries not to run up the stairs. Their home smells of food and she’s not sure if it smells good or bad, but if they ever ask her in she’ll accept.

She takes her juice and paper to the breakfast nook which is really just a folding chair and a box with a table-cloth which is really just a towel. She crosses her legs and signs aloud as she leans back. The chair wobbles.

She wonders why Doonesbury isn’t funny.

She finishes her juice, rinses the plastic cup and puts it in her only cupboard.

And then she paints her face gold. She puts on her costume and prefers that you call it an ensemble.

This particular Sunday she couldn’t find the silk flower she carries in her pocket and she panicked because she thought she’d lost it but then she remembered that she gave it to a little girl who was crying and the girl didn’t even say “thank you.”

She takes a train and two buses to the Park. She sits near the front by a window but doesn’t look out. A man chooses to stand rather than sit next to her so she smiles at him. He looks away.

She waves at the man with the marionette but he doesn’t wave back. She says “good morning” to the woman selling maps but she doesn’t respond.