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Wisdom is rare in adults. Those who have it made life impossible for everyone around them as children. We beat it out of the weak. It threatens us like joy. Like water balloons. Like youth. We want everyone to be old, and we don’t want to be wet. Or too dry. Or too anything. We want everything to be just so. We like to know where things are. Have you been to a grocery store? We’re obsessed with the size of the nuts. We think it measures worth. Are they colossal? Giant? Are they grand? (Grand is not a category of nut size, but if it were, we’d calibrate the right price for a grand nut and we’d pay it feeling righteous. Also—without telling you anything you don’t already know—we’d pay more for a grand nut to a place that would gift-wrap, and even more to a place that would gift-wrap and call a “grand nut” a “colossal nut.”) Nuts are sold in a round cardboard foil-lined container wrapped in the image of a friendly man who loves nuts, and veracity, and a square deal, and whose name is inoffensive, goofy even, maybe just initials. (And a reclosable plastic lid.) When he says “Honey Roasted Nuts” with “real honey” we should all be unnerved by what else “honey” might mean, and cheapened. But instead, we’re grateful for our paychecks. We’ve matured. “Honey-roasted nuts” in quotes is the least of what we’ve swallowed. The nuts cost a dollar ninety-nine in a package that would retail for a dollar and a half. Hardly nuts at all. Barely protein. They’re mean small fragments of nut meat that deliver salt and sugar. God bless them. Good from nothing. If we had found them, roasted them, seasoned them ourselves, we’d be heroes.

I owe the Xuuxu my life but no gratitude. Once they flushed us from our valley and stood us naked, side by side in the long grass under the sickle moon, lowlands clansmen that the colonists favored Read the rest of this entry »

Although I could be fired for asking out loud, your city council have all been wondering if other towns are shrinking too, and if so, what’s being done to stop the trend or reverse it. Read the rest of this entry »

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 »

Before it grew too big to lift, the hospital could have moved to a better neighborhood or invested in its neighbors. Instead it pushed out handymen and cleaning ladies and street hawkers like my uncles 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 »

So, this is the ocean, I thought. The poets call it everything but what it is, poison from here to the horizon. My girlfriends in their candy colored bikinis ran ahead to the pier. Read the rest of this entry »

We hired a double for Bob so that the Bob the world required could be places Bob could not be. We oversucceeded. Immediately, Bob was a fraud. Read the rest of this entry »

We are the family of everyone who means us no harm, whatever the results of what they do. We love Pizza Friday, snow days, and getting into pajamas in the afternoon when we’ve spent the day at the beach. Read the rest of this entry »

—Nevertheless you did kill him?
—I was present at his death.
—Present with a knife.
—Mine was not the only hand on that knife.
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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