A tiny girl cupped her eyes against a tree and yelled numbers as fast as she could remember them. “Fifteen… sixteen… seventeen…”
While talking to the colonel about how to administratively process Nicole’s death, I volunteered to walk through the house where she was murdered. We started the conversation sitting on opposite sides of the executive desk in his office. A bookcase stood against the wall facing us. Plaques from his previous commands and a rack filled with dozens of commander’s coins that he’d been awarded over his multi-decade career sat on the shelves. He had a large, hovering presence even while seated, but the power dynamic between us was the least of my concerns. Nicole was all I could think about.
It started innocently enough. A hike in the Oakland woods after a heavy rain. The ground still wet, the dense foliage sated and glistening. She hiked for exercise, to meditate, to escape the demands of a job in graphic design. It was a routine, an enjoyable way to recharge.
My mother holds me down, her hands locked around my wrists as I am screaming, writhing in pain. It is midnight, or sometime after. The fluorescent lights of my room feel too bright, they burn against my skin, cursed with hypersensitivity.
In 2004 I stopped reading books. I had just stopped smoking. I’d stopped smoking because I’d nearly completed writing a novella when my laptop sputtered and died. The data, despite some effort, was unrecoverable. I grieved like someone dear had died.
It was mid-summer, 1972, when I was 12 years old, that my parents sold our small row home on Clarion Street in South Philadelphia. They bought a finer row home in a suburban development dubbed Briarcliff, which rested in the Delaware County town of Glenolden.
When John Thompson Morris of Philadelphia turned forty-four, he took early retirement from the presidency of his father’s Iron Works to pursue other interests. Morris, unlike his father and uncles, preferred the role of benefactor, one who reaches into the past and buys up rare objects, then donates them for public edification.
When I was a junior in high school, I got a job at a flower shop. I worked there for almost five years, scraping money together for SATs and prom dresses. On the weekends I roamed South Jersey roadways and highways in the shop vans.
On my last day of radiation, I sat eagerly awaiting my release from six months of treatment. In anticipation, my eyes scanned the fluorescently lit, crowded waiting room of Abramson Cancer Center. As I waited for my name to be called for the last time, I thought about the young girl—about five years old—who I […]
Hearing Big Audio Dynamite or Tori Amos, I’m transported to the passenger seat in my brother Manny’s golden pickup truck when he drove me to Ithaca for a college interview. I was 26. He was 23. On the highway, two state troopers pulled us over alongside a stretch of browning cornfields.