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Shorts!

The Long Run


He paused and looked at her, "What else is there to say?"

What needed to be said had been said, and it was he who had done most of the talking. Her body and mouth remained still, except for the one silent nod she gave him, and a suggested shrug in between sentences. 

He didn’t need to wait for her response;

she didn’t put up a fight. 

She looked away, far across the lot of picket fences, and her gaze pierced right through the suburban Arcadia, to that other place her mind went sometimes. 

There was a time when their life had been nimble, when smiles were just smiles, not crooked strains, when every small occurrence seemed like a riddle for them to understand in their later years – a time when they would be wise and knowledgeable regarding all things life.

Now was that later they were thinking of then, but he felt even more clueless in his late forties than he had at 20. Their life has long begun to feel bothersome to him, a chore that just dragged on and on, yet the inevitable end of it wasn’t something to look forward to either. 

Living together, living apart, what did it really mean in the long run? They have done their duty, and released themselves from the debt they carried all those years. They have made their parents happy with the grandchildren they gave them, and their bosses with the time and zeal they spent earning them money. They boosted the economy by buying cars, and invested in the future with the house. 

It all meant nothing, now that their future was gone. 

It made him think back to that tedious marathon he ran several years ago, during which his feet went completely numb halfway through the run. Despite the exhaustion, his feet wouldn't stop moving forward, like two mechanical devices in strange disobedience to their master. 

Even after having long left behind the finishing line. 

They never stopped.


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Limbaugh


Limbaugh expects results. Like the motivation-detecting expert that he is, 
he immediately tunes in on people's ambitions and abilities. 
Unproductive. 
In Limbaugh's world, that is the worst possible, yet most frequent outcome of his inquiries.  
Where do you see yourself in five to ten years? One of the usual questions and 
the common setup, luring the applicants toward the pitfall. 
Were it not for his shady repertoire, he would be afraid to ask that question anyone out there in the real world, including friends and family. 
At my summer house in Tuscany. Clever.  
In one of the offices on the top floor. Even worse. 
Limbaugh waits for someone to say  
Alive, somewhere in the Western hemisphere, but it doesn't happen. 
It never happens. That's what he would say. 
But no one ever asks.


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Letter from home


I’m waiting for a letter from home. I’m waiting for wonderful things. I have been too far away, and far too long gone. My skin is frail now, after all this time of not being around those who know me. My family. I’m waiting for a letter from them. 

They usually write two pages, my mother the first one, my son the second, or half of it. He used to draw pictures before he could write. His little hands must have grown these past years. His handwriting changes with each letter. "Hi Mom, I miss you" – Chris, 4 years ago. The o and u looked round and painted, and very reassuring. 

Last year then, his messages became shorter and more cryptic, and the pen seemed to pierce through the page itself. Little blots here and there. "Doing fine. Nothing new here."
"How’s school?" is what I always ask in my letters, but he never gives me an answer, except for the little dots of ink he leaves at the end of paragraphs. Does he still go, I wonder, as I lie in my room at night, sleepless. 

The mailman must think me crazy, because I am always the first one standing at the cell door. He pushes his little cart through the hallway, pauses and opens the zipper of his bag for those who have mail. Today, he greets me with a smile, and reaches through the door to hand me a letter. 

Finally. I rip it open. 

"Guess what.." my mother writes, in unusually even letters, "we finally got a computer. You know how long Chris wanted one." I stare at her words. "Money is always so tight, I never thought, I could afford to give him one. You should have seen his face. I told him, this is Christmas, Birthday and next year's Christmas all in one."

These are printed words, typed with a keyboard. I can read them, yet I don’t know what they imply, other than the things they say. I'm not sure if they even have any other meaning. I anxiously turn the page. No scratchy pen. No familiarity. Instead: words, clean and tidy, and strangely aligned. "Hi Mom. I got a computer-"

And the bars move in on me.