Fiction

Mae finished her wine, and felt briefly aglow. She squinted into the sun, turned away, and saw a man in the distance, on a silver sailboat, raising a tricolored flag.

“How old are you?” the woman asked. “You look about eleven.”

“Twenty-four,” Mae said.

“My god. You don’t have a mark on you. Were we ever twenty-four, my love?” She turned to the man, who was using a ballpoint pen to scratch the arch of his foot. He shrugged, and the woman let the matter drop.

“Beautiful out here,” Mae said.

“We agree,” the woman said. “The beauty is loud and constant. The sunrise this morning, it was so good. And tonight’s a full moon. It’s been rising full orange, turning silver as it climbs. The water will be soaked in gold, then platinum. You should stay.”

Excerpt from The Circle – Dave Eggers

Aside
Fiction

Mom was also in the kitchen, rinsing a colander of broccoli under the faucet.

I looked at her when he was off and back.

Nice boy, she said

Not a desert, I said.

What do you mean? She put the broccoli aside, to drip into the sink.

You said Joseph was the desert?

She ran her hands under the tap. Nah, not the desert, she said, as if that conversation had never happened. Joseph, she said, is like a geode—plain on the outside, gorgeous on the inside.

I watched her dry her hands. My mother’s lithe, able fingers. I felt such a clash inside, even then, when she praised Joseph. Jealous, that he got to be a geode—a geode!—but also relieved, that he soaked up most of her super-attention, which on occasion made me feel like I was drowning in light. The same light he took and folded into rock walls to hide in the beveled sharp edges of topaz crystal and schorl.

He has facets and prisms, she said. He is an intricate geological surprise.

I stayed at the counter. I still held the Lego train in my hands.

And what’s Dad? I said.

Oh, your father, she said, leaning her hip against the counter. Your father is a big strong stubborn gray boulder. She laughed.

And me? I asked, grasping, for the last time.

You? Baby, you’re—

I stood still. Waiting.

You’re—

She smiled at me, as she folded the blue-and-white-checked dish towel. You’re seaglass, she said. The pretty green kind. Everybody loves you, and wants to take you home.

Excerpt from The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake – Aimee Bender

Aside