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Every day the world offers up the same secret: it’s not what we think it is; we’re not who we think we are. We’ve been distracted, acquiring and angling the furniture with its one good side to the audience, assembling a supporting cast, practicing lines, cueing the flattering lights. Heartened by rave reviews written by us, read by us, challenged by no one because shared with no one, we rehearse ever stronger entrances, exit only when dead, if then. The corpse in the right light can instruct. Stinking it stays at center stage basking, peripherally rotting, insisting on relevance, taking its bow. I sit in a car at an intersection of time and desire but also at a meeting of two roads insignificant to anyone but me and give them meaning but only to me. If the world ends today, and it will, this crossing will have existed in vain except for me. Even the girls who years ago passed on the sidewalk in the brisk breeze that blew up their skirts will not know its significance. I meant to offer something positive. A consciousness we call human, which has grown by killing rivals, makes something like sense to us of phenomena that persist whether interpreted or not. The world doesn’t need us. We don’t need it except to escape irrelevance. Every other living thing lives without the meaning we insist every living thing needs. The sun ignores us, but it torches the tops of the sycamore leaves that turn expectant faces in its direction, and only I, alone at the stop sign, sense the unseen from the seen. Half the leaves—the half not shaded by others—brighten through. And that’s all it takes. A place. The sun. My noticing. A memory. And all becomes unspeakably, regrettably dear.

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He’s not always easy to see. I can be talking to him in my room on a rainy afternoon with the radio playing and sharing a blueberry pie, and my dad will open the bedroom door and Deuce’ll be gone and it looks like I’m eating a pie by myself and talking to the radio. Read the rest of this entry »

Grammar and my own impatience landed me in jail. If I had only turned the page, I would have seen my healthy ex-fiancee smiling for the camera on the day of her promotion, very much alive in the finance section. Read the rest of this entry »

The 5:42 to Belgenhagen left the station without our engineer. He chased it desultorily to the end of the platform waving his pastry in vain at the empty locomotive car as we pulled out from the shed into the icy dawn with certain questions. Read the rest of this entry »

The light I saw flickering in my wife’s eyes as we sat at the little table we use for dinners that don’t involve watching reruns and the radiant golds that shimmered behind her, framing the face I love best after my own, Read the rest of this entry »

He’s never done me any good, as far as I can tell, nor any harm. I hope He’s as ambivalent about me. We’re at Halloween mass and the children have come as animals from the ark. Read the rest of this entry »

He had leveled eleven trees to unobstruct his view of the gulf, trees he had planted in a neat row every six paces along his waterfront at a time when the gulf was the last thing he wanted to see. Read the rest of this entry »

I feel as if I’d met you yesterday though it’s been thirty years and at my age that means I die tomorrow or at best the day after. So what shall we do this blue evening streaked with gray? Read the rest of this entry »

Ron and Don are in the same class. Jesus wept. Lovely, youthful, naive boy-god Jesus didn’t know the half of it. I go behind the burning bush outside the cafeteria and puke. They could so easily be separated, I tell the principal Read the rest of this entry »

—What if she dies while I’m away?
—You can’t stay home until she dies.
—I can’t leave either, while she’s alive.
—I don’t like where this is going. Read the rest of this entry »

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299-WORD NOVELS

Character, conflict, emotional impact. And sentences! Everything you want in a novel, without one extra syllable.

Behind the Pseudonym

The pen name David B Dale honors my parents Beatrice and Dale. David+B+Dale = davidbdale

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