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Miles Per Gallon

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By Beth Kander

I forgot to hold my breath as we drove past Pine Valley Cemetery and that's when the soul of Nancy Chase slid into me through my nose.

Abruptly hit with a wave of icy air in both nostrils, I gasped. In the passenger seat, the salesman gave me an oily smile and asked if I was all right. His name was Ryan or Bryan, I couldn't recall. He was forgettable, a stereotypical car salesman who exuded over-the-top friendliness underpinned by a dark cynicism about the whole world and all the people in it. Almost as if the only thing he was optimistic about in the entire known universe was the very car he was trying to sell me, a well-maintained 2010 Mazda CRX that he claimed got up to forty miles per gallon (highway).

"I'm--" I started to reply to Ryan-or-Bryan, but then I realized I didn't know how I was, or even what I was or who I was anymore. Nancy Chase was rattling around my room like a frustrated baker in someone else's kitchen, rummaging around …

Mild Optimism?

I wrote a flash fiction piece today but think I actually want to submit it somewhere, which means I can't publish it here... unless it gets rejected, in which case expect to find it here along with some snark soon ;-)

Storm Warnings

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By Beth Kander

It was 3:47 AM when Debbie's iPhone started screaming at her to take cover.

Eep eep eep! Take shelter now. Check local media. Eep eep eep! 

She lay in the too-soft hotel bed for a moment, wondering whether or not she really needed to get up and head down to the lower level of the Fairfield. She silenced the phone. It started shrieking again.

I'll feel like a real idiot if I stay in bed due to sheer laziness and a tornado really does touch down here.
She got up, quickly pulling on her tennis shoes and a bra. If she had to deal with strangers at four in the morning, doing so barefoot and braless was not an option. She headed to the stairwell, cursing the tenth-floor room location but aware that taking the elevator would be stupid.
When Debbie reached the lobby, there were only two other hotel patrons down there. They appeared to be a married couple, red-faced and wide, she with big mussed bottle-blonde hair, he with a bad combover. They were wearing matching camofla…

You Need To Let My Daughter Tell You No

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Okay.

You're not going to like this, but hear me out. I need you to let my daughter tell you no. 

Yes. You. 
I'm not addressing the random stranger at the grocery store, the bus driver, the old ladies at the diner who squeal with delight when we walk past their table. I'm not talking to strangers (for the record, they're definitely not allowed to just randomly come up and touch her, and trust me, that enforcement is something I'm on top of every.single.day.). 
I'm talking to you, the adult in her life who genuinely adores her, who can't wait to squeeze her, who fiercely wants her to cuddle up to you. I understand that your motives are pure. I appreciate how much you love my child. 
And that's why I need you to listen to me, and listen to her when she tells you no. 
She is small. She is adorable. I absolutely get your urge to want to hug her and hold her. She is the most huggable kid that has ever existed. But she is a person. She is her own person. She is a…

Things I Learned When a Fledgling Fell

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We have a birdhouse in our backyard. To our delight, a sparrow family lives there, and they have three babies who made their arrival a couple of weeks ago. We've enjoyed watching those wide-mouthed (wide-beaked?) youngsters sing for their supper, watch their parents puff their little feathered chests and holler bird cusses at our dog when he takes a step in their direction, and generally took joy in the antics of our tiny winged backyard tenants. Then yesterday, one of the fledglings fell from the house.

It happened right after I finished mowing the lawn (thank goodness for that timing - and side note, if you want to feel irritated about uninvited misogyny, check out my Tweet from while I was mowing). I wasn't the one who noticed the fallen fledgling. It was our dog, Oz, who spotted it. I saw Oz run over to the back of the yard, put his nose to the ground, then look over at me. "What's up?" I called. Oz looked down, wagged his tail, and looked over at…

The Painters

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By Beth Kander
They had never painted the place before. They wound up there years ago, unexpectedly. Got used to it. Then one day it was sleepily raining, and the walls within were just as depressing, and no one remembers who shouted “LET’S PAINT!” but suddenly there were brushes, rollers, deep green and rich mahogany hues. The walls went from drab, stained, pale half-yellow to alive. The mood went from tired and brittle to electric. Someone painted a door. "Oh," they wept with relief, "I thought we'd forgotten how!" As the thunderless rain yawned outside, they walked through the door and were gone.




I Think I'm A Painter Now

Three days ago, two professional painters were supposed to paint two rooms in our home. We were going to pay them money, they were going to paint the walls, that was the arrangement. Wild, I know.

We paid them the money.

They primed some walls.

But they did not paint them. Ding! Their estimated time was up. They gave a new estimate, of double again the amount of time already estimated to paint the two rooms.

Comedy ensued.

Trips to Menards happened.

And now we're on the second night in a row of two novice painters (that'd be Danny and me) trying to get the paint job done after the kiddo goes to bed. So from roughly eight PM until midnight for me and until two in the morning for The Sleepless Wonder, we've been taping baseboards, edging, painting first coats, second coats...

We have finished one of the two primed rooms.

And started on a hallway.

I think this is our life now.

I am no longer a writer.

I just paint walls.