Author Information: If you’re ever feeling cynical about the resiliency of the human spirit, look to Chloe Sparacino to be reminded that we can–indeed–press forward, even when great tragedy strikes. With words that send the hairs on my arms straight into the air, Chloe fearlessly gives voice to her personal journey and reminds me that I’m not alone. She is also very pretty.
I think my best friend asked for Legos from Santa when we were six. Legos, or video games, or something normal like that. I, on the other hand, well, I was kind of a weird kid.
“Have you been a good boy this year?” Santa wondered through his stringy, ivory beard, which looked just like it was supposed to.
“Uh huh,” I replied—overly eager, looking up into his bespectacled eyes. It was strange to me that Santa chose the Sears in Parkway Plaza Mall every year to stop his sleigh, and I was talking to my friend Skyler about it one day at recess. We were both on the swings, so our paths only crossed at the bottom, which made our conversation choppy. Read the rest of this entry »
“Are you nervous?” I asked. The engine hummed while she thought, and her fingers searched the steering wheel—like its grooves and divots were braille that would silently signal an appropriate answer.
We were stopped under the red of the streetlight on Pennsylvania in her silver, Chevy rental, the one she told me looked just like a Mini-Cooper on the phone the day before, but—in reality—looked nothing like a Mini-Cooper. She had flown into town to speak at a pastoring conference, and—since it was over—had the afternoon free before she headed north again.
“Yeah, yeah, I am,” she said, her voice sneaking an octave higher than normal. “I just, I’m not sure what to expect, I guess.” We were quiet for three blocks. Read the rest of this entry »
The biggest storm of the decade hit L.A. that day—December 18, 2010—which felt right because that was the Saturday I was supposed to get married. Instead of waiting under the garden gazebo in my stone, fitted suit, I was in line for Space Mountain in the back of Tomorrowland with my oldest nephew and niece, wearing a crimson beanie I’d bought the day before to keep my head warm, and an impossibly obnoxious, construction-yellow poncho. Raiden was tugging on my sleeve and telling me how even though the ride seemed scary because it was really dark inside it wasn’t that bad, and how it was so much fun it made you smile even if you didn’t want to. I told him I’d been on it before, and he said, “oh.” When I grabbed him under his arms and swung his ragdoll body up over my head, his third-grade legs settled around my neck, and he sat on my shoulders until we got to the door. Hannah stood next to me, resting her flaxen head on my ribs, and wrapped her hand around two of my fingers. Read the rest of this entry »
If I could whisper into my fourteen-year-old ear, I’d tell me not to say anything in the kitchen that afternoon, because my mom would be embarrassed of how she reacted and I’d cry harder than I ever had before.
I walked through the kitchen door, since it was next to the garage, which is where I put my pewter, BMX bike every day after pedaling home from school, the one with pegs on the back wheel that I had saved up to buy the summer before freshman year. I was fat, so the two-and-a-half mile ride made me sweat more than my friends, and I’d always grab a paper towel from the wooden stand on our canary-and-cream tile countertop to wipe away the salty drops from my pimpled forehead. I threw my backpack on the floor and leaned against the wall. My dog’s black, ceramic food bowl was under my feet, and my mom was drying dishes at the sink with one of those deep red, waffle-pressed rags. My sister was sitting on the counter, or maybe leaning against it; I can’t remember. But she was there, which was why the whole thing started, in a way. Read the rest of this entry »
There were two people in front of me in line at the Starbucks by my house: one, a stocky, stump-of-a man, the other, a plush, I-bedazzled-my-iPhone Latina. I looked at the patterned taupe and gunmetal tile, and traced the edges with my eyes until the barista called out.
“I can help whoever’s next.” Which was me. I walked to the counter.
“Do you guys have for-here mugs?” I asked, slinging my messenger bag to the front of my chest, and pulling out my brown, leather wallet, the one my students told me only balding men should own.
“Yeah, what did you want?”
“Perfect,” I said. I was going to stay for a couple hours and start on a story I’d been flirting with since the week before. “Can I get a grande black coffee?”
“Yeah, it’ll be $1.85.” While she went to fill the cup, I opened my tri-fold Geoffrey Beene and pulled out my blue, Chase debit card. She set the steaming coffee on the counter between us. Read the rest of this entry »
Large, suspended signs hang above the streets of San Diego, and, like metropolitan nametags, identify the neighborhoods that sprawl across the Southern Californian city. The one in Kensington is bright pink at night, and when the neon lights up it breathes a rose hue over the evening and bounces off the faces of couples walking their dogs. University Heights has one on a cherry trolley car that sits above my favorite coffee shop, and is prettier in the day, I think. The one in Normal Heights, on Adams Avenue, looks like it belongs outside a 1950’s diner, where the waitresses skate to your table with impossibly balanced trays of soda pop.