RIGHT THERE, a lockdown flash fiction piece


Fine, true, it was in a cemetery. What can I say? Not that I would post that, maybe, or tweet the fact, but yes, I own it.

Hey, it’s a different world now, right? And when we Liked each other’s comments on a Local Music page, then ran across each other again in a Green New Deal thread, then became Friends, it wasn’t long before we wanted to see each other in flesh and blood.

No restaurants. None of the parks opened up again yet. Not a single bar. So I took a chance. I don’t mean a COVID-era screw-social-distancing chance; more like a he-may-never-reply-to-this chance.

In these long slow times, I had been pondering exactly that—time. It was like I now, finally, had learned how to inhabit the present: hearing birdsong, studying a fallen pine cone, gingerly planting seeds.

But wait, behind the immediate, there would rise every so often a swift breeze from the future, tipping me into conjecture and confusion and hope, asking me to set questions against trust, and measure mission by the rule of belief. An impossible place. Just give me straight apple blossoms; give me the winging gull.

Later, with dark perhaps, might come a different sort of wind. The past, of course, whistling half the night to have me remembering childhood, pondering my parents, dreaming layer by layer into further generations; tumbling back.

Which is how I came up with the cemetery for our meeting place. I wanted to scatter rose petals and purple irises across my brother’s grave. I wanted to sit silent, to watch, to hear small bees in the California lilac above it.

I needed to cover it all—bring past, hold present, have faith in future—as I met him first time amidst fading gravestones, under ancient oaks, eyes following together the tumbled clouds.

“Wonder if one of the mausoleums is open…” he grinned.

I punched his arm. We didn’t need to be anywhere but right there.

We had time.


  Jan. 20

I am beyond excited to be almost finished writing my first Middle Grade novel, which could be summed up as Diverse Step-family meets Rude Ghosts…

Or, excited and tarrying, as it’s a disconcerting feeling to be done with a world one’s been living in for 2+ years. That could be why I keep thinking of another must-add scene, a loose thread that hasn’t been tied up yet, just one more conversation, a couple more pages that really nail the theme…

Jan. 27  

Seven pages later, four crucial scenes written, I think I really am on the last chapter. I don’t want to let it go. At this point, even the upcoming drudge-work of checking chronology and searching for words repeated too often, the daunting days of revision, sound good.

Okay, before I steel myself to go back to that last chapter, a random excerpt, just for fun:


Back in my room, even though it’s probably only about 2:00, I whip on my thickest flannel pajamas.  Still way too cold. Socks, slippers, the pink sweatshirt from yesterday. And just for good measure, the long Indian scarf Dad gave me when he and Mom told us they were getting married. It feels good to have it on.

“Sally McMally?”

Grandpa’s in the kitchen, it sounds like, and I do want to go hang out. Except I’m really scared he saw that the Book is gone. “Ya?” I cross my fingers and am about to head for the door when something rustles under the bed. Or squeaks. Or yowls and flies out from under it chasing something that’s even faster.

Perched on my chair hugging my knees, I squint at the little chase scene and then roll my eyes. It’s Calico. And nothing. Or just whatever it is that she keeps batting ahead of her like a maniac. Probably a crumpled-up piece of newspaper. Wrong. It’s like there are sparks flying from it and kind of a trail of blue-green smoke. It’s what’s left of one of the pages of the Book, which is hidden way back under the bed. And then Calico half-hisses half-growls at me like, What the heck are you looking at?

This is when Grandpa rolls down the hall to my door tooting the bicycle horn he seems to think was a good addition to his walker, and says fairly grumpily, “Tea will be stone-cold at this rate. Your mother’s off shopping again.”

Okay, tea with my grandfather sounds just fine right now. I cross the room fast, keeping my eyes on Calico. And the page between her paws. Safe. I think. But then Grandpa’s eyes widen and he looks like he’s going to have a stroke. Oh man, did he figure it out? I spin around and stare into my room but except for the cat stretching up on its hind legs and trying to push the page, which has stopped sparking, smoking or anything else unusual, under my pillow, there’s nothing astonishing going on…


“FIGMENT OF FOOTLIGHTS AND REVERB”, An Excerpt from the short story

…Another alley, somewhat wider, crosses this one, meanders west, invites her in. When she steps, sudden, into it, there is now just a little more light; fading garlands roping a splintering roughhewn door, candles in a window, sleeping or sliding figures that flash in moon glow on either side. The sudden gleam of brass hinges, a silver latch, then fluted window frames in rose-pink walls…

Silhouettes bend whispering around a fitful circle of spark and glowing coals. A sleeping cow; nearby the flat blue screen of cellphone cradled in a wrinkled hand, a twist of incense. Princess’ heart quickens. There really is everything yet to know!

As she performs a clumsy pirouette, wanting to pull every vision, every sound into her mind, twine them around her soul, there is a tap on her shoulder.


It is the boy, the handsome one, the one from Ramlila Maidan. Right. That one. Rude it may be, but she does not answer him a word. How did he― What is he even doing here? This moment? It is only hers