Diane, Five

“Quickly,” said Mavis, pulling her brother's hand, “we have to go quickly.” At once! her mother would shout when she wanted her room clean, her bed made, or her toys in the toy box, and sometimes that's what she would use with Lewis, but not this time, because to go quickly was the very thing [...]

Diane, Four

“She's a owl!” said Lewis, gesturing with his spoon. At that moment the light above them flickered, the room strobed and the kids, as though impelled by the illusion of the world's momentary stillness sat in perfect quiet for several long seconds afterwards. Lewis at last laughed mischievously as though he had done something, which [...]

Diane, Three

“Have you been up there?” asked Mavis. Lewis had put the spoon back into his mouth and it was hanging there idly now, his eyes glazed and aimed toward Diane. “Up to the top?” Mavis didn't respond. “No,” said Diane, “I'm a dancer down the bottom, but I'm not very good at it.” “Why?” “Because [...]

Diane, Two

At the table the children were quiet. Lewis held his spoon in an overhand grip and looked with a kind of tendresse down into his bowl between scoops at the slick of melted ice-cream, again with the wordless, absorbed manner of someone identifying, practically, step by step the things that pleased him, umbrellaed from the [...]


“Not like that!” whined Mavis. “Not like that, she doesn't like it like that! Lewis stop! Stop Lewis!” There were steps out in the hallway, a floorboard creaked and the children stopped for a moment. Mavis crossed her arms and pantomimed her disapproval with a big frown. But for Lewis her annoyance was a part [...]

Grace, Two

From a cold, hard distance Tammy looked like a warm person. There was something (head buried in her chicken-fried steak sandwich, her lunchbox of leftovers from the funeral) about those sustained and indiscreet looks up and around her, at the other children in their groups, talking and laughing and moving that signalled a profound willingness [...]


Grace's mother fanned herself with the funeral program. Tammy saw it in her periphery. Her hand was sweaty, the hand which gripped her own. Tears and sweat made a clear, glistening mask, glittered in the corners of her mouth and in the pocket beneath her lower lip and her small, round chin. As for Tammy, [...]