Tag Archives: Undergrad Portfolio


A voice is floating

through the room

touching no one.

The girl next to me

is at her birthday


last weekend.

I am watching

the Cubs

beat the Giants

last night.

Only fifteen





Yawn. Stretch — arms, legs. Sigh. Hear Puff purr. Turn. Feel — cool breeze, warm sun. Smell cut grass. Fresh. Moist. Yawn. Stretch. Turn. Sleep.


Mandy was named after a Barry Manilow song.  It didn’t do a thing for her love life.  Somehow, Barry Manilow’s name didn’t seem to evoke the same images as, say, the Rolling Stones.  It didn’t help that “Mandy” was a song about rejection.

It wasn’t that guys didn’t like Mandy.  She was very popular with men.  They all confided in her, shared their joys and sorrows with her, and told her all their tales of unrequited love.  They just didn’t think of Mandy in that way.  She was a very good friend, practically a sister, to a whole lot of men.  They just weren’t sexually attracted to her.

There was the other bunch, of course, who thought that telling you their first name counted as foreplay.  Mandy had already been on a few too many of those dates.  She got better and better at trusting her own instincts, which also meant she had fewer and fewer dates.  By the time Glenn and Patti introduced her to Eugene, Mandy was just about ready to join a convent.

Eugene came as a nice surprise.  He also came with his own collection of Barry Manilow tapes.  Already Mandy knew that this would not be the usual sleep-and-run kind of date.  Eugene had to be a decent guy.  He also didn’t even try to kiss her on the first date!  Of course, it’s hard to work up a lot of passion after a round of miniature golfing at King Putt’s, but still.

Their second date, to Strikes & Suds bowling alley, was rather pleasant.  Eugene wasn’t unduly competitive, and seemed genuinely interested in whether or not Mandy was having a good time.  Dating Eugene was a lot like going out with her brother, but Mandy knew that it took a while to build up a relationship.  Perhaps the sparks would come, and even if they didn’t, she could still have fun in the meantime.

Eugene took Mandy to see her beloved Cubs play in a Spring Training game, and bought her a Cubs hat (although she already had one) and a Cubs baseball.  Although the hat was overdoing it a little bit, Mandy enjoyed the attention.  Here they were on their third date, and Eugene was only now holding her hand.

Mandy and Eugene did something together every week.  Mandy worked second shift at the nursing home, but her days off rotated.  One of them was always spent with Eugene.  He didn’t call her at work so that she wouldn’t get in trouble.  Instead, they made their plans before the end of each date.  Mandy hardly had time to think in between dates.  At least she was dating someone, even though it was really hard to think of Eugene as a boyfriend.

One night they went to dinner at Glenn and Patti’s house.  Mandy knew that the couple considered setting up Mandy and Eugene as one of their success stories.  Eugene continued to be polite and considerate.  Tonight, though, it didn’t quite feel considerate.  Eugene wanted to take Mandy home before she was ready to go.  He didn’t claim that he himself wanted to leave, but rather that he knew Mandy had a long day tomorrow and that he wanted to get her home.  He was insistent — to Glenn and Patti — that it was time to go, not addressing Mandy on the matter at all.  Although she was displeased about the situation, she told herself that Eugene was the first man she had dated in a long time to care about her needs instead of his own, and she just wasn’t used to it. Mandy agreed on the details of their next date, scheduled for her next day off.

The next date was somewhere between pleasant and boring, but Mandy’s concerns about Eugene were forgotten.  The following week, though, Mandy just didn’t want to see Eugene.  It wasn’t that she particularly disliked him.  After seeing him every week for eight weeks, she just needed a break.  Being with Eugene felt more like going steady in high school, with your own brother, than dating.  On top of that, Mandy just needed time alone.  She liked being alone; that’s why she had her own apartment.  She couldn’t call Eugene and feign an illness to cancel the date; that would by lying.  So Mandy did the next best thing:  she turned off the lights and pretended she wasn’t home.

Eugene didn’t take this well.  After pounding on the door a couple times, he left.  Mandy tried to breathe a sigh of relief, but thought better of it.  This might not be over.  She left the lights off, just in case.  It wasn’t long before Eugene was back with reinforcements.  Mandy heard Patti pass her bedroom window saying, “She probably just fell asleep.  You know how hard she’s been working at the nursing home.  I’m sure she’s quite all right.”  Mandy knew that this was being said as much for her own benefit as Eugene’s.  So with suitable pillow wrinkles on her face, Mandy answered the door.

Patti gave Mandy a sympathetic look and abandoned her.  Eugene gushed about how worried he was — he was all set to call 911.  Mandy pretty much repeated what Patti said outside her window.  Happy that all was well, Eugene suggested that of course they should still go on the date.  When the date was over, he gave Mandy a very chaste peck on the lips — their first kiss.

By now, Mandy was really pretty tired of Eugene.  It wasn’t that he wasn’t basically a nice guy; he was.  He was always a perfect gentleman, which was such a refreshing change — really.  She couldn’t even imagine him as a sexual being.  He did seem to have her best interests at heart, even when he went a little overboard.  Aside from being vaguely bored, there was nothing concrete that Mandy could put her finger on.  She just didn’t want to go out with Eugene any more.  Now she just had to figure out a way to end the dating.

It wasn’t going to be easy.  Eugene wanted to go out with Mandy.  He saw no reason to stop, and Mandy had a hard time coming up with one that sounded polite.  After all, Eugene wasn’t really a creep; he couldn’t just be callously dumped.  Nor was it likely that he would immediately move on to his next conquest.

Mandy started with the semi-direct approach.  She told Eugene that she couldn’t see him next week.  She waffled, though, when Eugene asked her why not; she made up a story.  Naturally, then, they had plans for the following week instead.  At least Mandy would have her first real free time in a while.  But Mandy’s joy was tempered with the knowledge that it was temporary; she and Eugene still had plans for a date, even if it wasn’t right away.

She started thinking that maybe she could survive an every-other-week thing.  But that would be dumb.  Why force yourself to date someone you don’t want to?  Mandy had never taken an assertiveness training class, though.  She could be aggressive when her self-preservation was at stake.  But she had no clue how to get rid of a “nice guy” — well, a nice guy who was a little too nice and actually gave her the creeps sometimes.

At the end of their date, Mandy tried to avoid planning another date.  Eugene asked if there was someone else she was seeing.  No, of course not!  Mandy felt like she and Eugene were moving too fast, even though they were actually going nowhere.  They’d not yet even French-kissed, and Eugene’d never touched anything but Mandy’s hands and shoulders.  Still, it seemed to Mandy that Eugene was way more attached to her than she was to him, and than she’d ever be to him.  There were just no sparks for her at all.  Eugene was nice to do things with, but they really had nothing in common to talk about.  Although Mandy had always considered herself overly romantic and nostalgic, she couldn’t imagine celebrating an anniversary of their first date, or telling her children about this period in the life of “mommy and daddy.”   In fact, as much as she wanted children, she just couldn’t fathom having them with Eugene.

Mandy didn’t know how to tell him any of this.  She figured guys could probably take rejection easier if there’s another man than if they were being rejected and there’s no one else on the horizon.  Guys were such fragile little things.  Since creating an imaginary boyfriend was beyond her, Mandy told Eugene that she needed a break.  She wanted some time alone to think about stuff.  Eugene wanted to know what she had to think about, and why it excluded seeing him.  This was not going to be easy.

Mandy didn’t have any real answers, and she knew it, and Eugene knew it.  Eugene very nicely and politely demanded a reason why they should stop seeing each other.  Mandy was too polite to tell Eugene that he gave her the creeps sometimes and wouldn’t take no for an answer.  And since she was right — Eugene wouldn’t take no for an answer — they dated some more.

Eugene remained respectful on their dates, and continued to show interest in Mandy’s enjoyment.  He talked about the things she wanted to talk about, let her choose what they did together, and never tried to do anything that Mandy didn’t want done–except continue dating.  When Mandy tried again to end it, she could tell that she’d genuinely hurt Eugene’s feelings, after all he’d done for her.  He looked like he was going to cry right on the spot.  And they continued dating.

Finally, Mandy called Eugene’s answering machine at a time when she knew he wouldn’t be home, and left a message canceling their date.  Breaking up one date at a time was the best she could think of.  Mandy received a call at work that night from Eugene asking why she canceled the date.  The telephone call only surprised Mandy because she was sure that by now Eugene knew that she wanted to dump him.  But she stuck to her guns; she couldn’t go out with him on Tuesday.

Monday, Eugene actually came to where Mandy worked to see her.  He somehow managed to combine polite, pathetic, and perturbed in his quest to change Mandy’s mind, but she was firm.  She couldn’t go out tomorrow.  He tried to convince her to go out her next day off instead — the following Monday.  Mandy refused to make a commitment to date him next week.  She wasn’t going to see him this week; right now, that’s all that mattered.  He finally left, with no date for tomorrow and no date for the following week.  Mandy’s stomach felt queasy instead of relieved.  She tried to ignore the feeling and enjoy her day off.  Right.

When Mandy returned to work Wednesday, Eugene had sent her flowers at work.  Everyone told her how lucky she was to find such a guy in this day and age; no one ever sent them flowers.  Truthfully, no one had sent Mandy flowers before either.  Under any other circumstances, it would’ve been a sweet gesture.  Instead, Mandy felt awful about not liking the flowers and not trusting Eugene.  Why couldn’t she just be appreciative, she asked herself.  No wonder she never had dates.  Look at the kind of person she was!  She was lucky that Eugene had stuck with her.  Mandy really didn’t feel very lucky, though.

The following day, Eugene showed up at Mandy’s work again, where everyone commented about the lovely flowers and how lucky Mandy was to have him.  Mandy wanted to puke.  Eugene again asked if she wanted to go out the following Monday to see the latest Star Wars movie.  She turned him down, even though she thought it made her look ungrateful and undeserving, not to mention stupid.

Clear out of left field, Eugene asked her if she was seeing Hugh again.  Hugh was a loser whom Mandy had mentioned in passing during one of their first dates.  She was surprised that Eugene would remember him.  She was even more surprised that Eugene would think she’d ever want to see Hugh again in this lifetime.  There was no reason to mention Hugh’s name.

Mandy’s denial only served to plant Hugh’s name in her co-workers’ brains, next to the image of the ever-so-nice, clean-cut Eugene who sent Mandy flowers.  Some of them had even heard stories of this chapter in Mandy’s unwritten Dates From Hell anthology.  The next night at work, Eugene brought Mandy take-out sweet & sour pork, her favorite.  She was overjoyed that he didn’t mention seeing each other again at all.  He didn’t actually have to, though; now Mandy and Eugene were seeing each other every night — where Mandy worked.

Eugene was never at the nursing home for too long, just long enough to make a good impression on Mandy’s co-workers.  They were happy to see that finally Mandy was in a decent relationship.  Finally a guy was interested in Mandy for herself.  What a lucky girl!  He brought her flowers and her favorite dinner, took her out every week instead of expecting to watch television at her house between her cooking dinner and breakfast.

Sunday night, the night before her day off, Eugene again mentioned wanting to see her the next night.  Mandy again declined.  She had no “good reason” to give Eugene.  She just didn’t want to spend Monday with him.  Eugene slipped Hugh’s name into the conversation again.  “You know I’m not seeing anyone else,” Mandy responded with a hint of anger.  The damage was done, though.

Tuesday, after Mandy’s day off, Eugene again showed up at the nursing home with extra crispy chicken.  Mandy wasn’t there.  Eugene was quite convincing in his display of concern–after all, they’d all heard stories of what a loser Hugh was.  Maybe he really did go to see Mandy, and, well, Eugene decided he should go to Mandy’s apartment to check on her.  Of course he had to break into the apartment, to see if Mandy was all right.  Naturally, his fingerprints would be in the apartment; he and Mandy were dating.

When the police later questioned Mandy’s co-workers, they attested to Eugene’s good character, and mentioned this loser Hugh whom Mandy had dated in the past and who might have planned on seeing on her day off.  It goes without saying that Eugene sent a wonderful flower arrangement to the funeral home.  For a while, he even made sure that there were always flowers in the vase on Mandy’s grave.  Eugene was such a nice guy.

Prince Rupert III

Once upon a time, there was a prince named Prince Rupert the Third.  His father was Prince Rupert the Second, and his grandfather was Prince Rupert the First.  It was a family thing.  In those days, it was the custom for evil witches to cast spells on princes and turn them into frogs.  Then some princess would come along, kiss the frog, and turn him back into a prince.  That’s just how things were done.

One day, Prince Rupert the Third was out for a stroll, since it was a nice day and all.  He knew it was risky, that he might run into an evil witch, but he wanted to have a life and not spend all his time hiding in the castle.  So he was outside on sunny day, when whom should he meet but Dorice.

Dorice, of course, was a witch.  Now, if you actually spent some time with Dorice, you’d know she wasn’t very evil at all.  She always returned her library books on time, helped collect food for the local food pantry, and ran errands for a neighbor who was homebound.  But still, she was a witch.  Witch culture at that time said that if you meet a prince, you turn him into a frog, period.  And so she did.

This should have been a terrible thing for Prince Rupert the Third, who was now just plain old Rupert in his new frog community.  All his life he was told about how terrible it would be to be turned into a frog, and now it had happened.  But you know what?  Rupert didn’t think being a frog was all that awful.

Rupert did miss some things, like butter pecan ice cream and coloring books, but on the whole, being a frog was kind of cool.  For one thing, frogs got to go swimming whenever they wanted to.  They didn’t have to wait an hour after eating, or worry about finding a bathing suit that fit.  If they wanted a dip in the pond, then SPLASH there they were!  And once you got used to them, flies and bugs didn’t taste so bad.

As a frog, Rupert noticed a lot of things that he never saw as a prince.  He noticed how pretty a sunset is when it’s seen through the cattails in the pond.  Rupert saw how his pond was really like a city, with so many different kinds of life in it.  He noticed how different each lily pad is from the other lily pads, and each blade of grass from the other blades of grass, and each frog from the other frogs.  As a prince, he only noticed how things were the same; now he was excited to discover how they were different.

Frogs don’t wear tiny watches or hang little calendars on the reeds in their ponds, because they don’t need them.  Frogs don’t make a lot of appointments.  Still, time does pass, and Rupert was a frog for quite a while in froggy time.  He had frog buddies who showed him what to eat and when to hide.  He sang at night, just because it was so great to be a frog.

Then one day, they heard a noise – a big noise.  Rupert and his friends stopped singing and looked up.  There she was, the most beautiful princess any of the frogs had ever seen.  She had beautiful dark, curly hair and beautiful dark eyes.  Rupert smiled a big froggy smile, but then he frowned.  He knew what would happen next.  The princess (he would later learn her name was Rabecca the Fourth) would lean down and kiss him, since that was usually the princess’s only job in these stories, and the kiss would turn him back into a prince, and they’d live happily ever after.

There was only one problem:  Rupert didn’t want to go back to being a prince.  He liked the pond and his friends.  He liked looking up at all the stars at night, and seeing the sunset through the cattails, and hopping from lily pad to lily pad and over logs and stuff.

Rabecca, of course, spotted Rupert right away among all the other frogs.  Even as a frog, he was very handsome.  She reached down and gently lifted him up.  But before you could say “ribbit’ three times fast, Rupert hopped out of Rabecca’s hand and kissed her on the cheek—a nice big froggy kiss.  Right then and there, Rabecca turned into a frog.

Rupert showed Rabecca all the wonders he’d discovered in the pond, and she made many frog friends herself.  After they spent time getting to know each other better, they decided they liked being each other’s best friend, and they lived happily ever after.

OK, The Truth

You know, I get so tired of talking about it.  The cops ask me questions, and then people ask me what the cops asked me, and the newspaper and TV people – everyone wants to talk about it.  Of course the worst part, though, is that no one believes me.  In fact, the newspaper people made up their own version of what happened.

OK, my husband’s family, his uncle, we used to live together.  You know how crowded that can get, two families together, and all their stuff.  To tell you the truth, I was never that crazy about his uncle anyway, but don’t tell anyone I said that.  The guy kept making stuff up, you know, hearing voices and stuff.  Finally we just moved.  Even my husband couldn’t take it any more.  Well, we had the girls to worry about too, you know!

So we move to this nice little town.  Well, it was sort of nice.  I mean, it wasn’t a dump or anything.  The women were real nice, welcoming me and the girls.  We did all that usual stuff together that women do together.  They never once treated us like outsiders, the women, and someone should put THAT into the record.  But no, no one thinks THAT part is interesting.  They just want to talk about the bad stuff.

OK, so there we were, living in this town, not having a bad life at all.  If my husband had problems, he didn’t mention them.  You know how men are.  They keep everything to themselves.  Then they say dumb stuff like “you know why I’m mad.”  Right.  Or they sulk.  There’s nothing worse than a sulking man.  OK– nothing except a man who’s just a little bit sick, although try telling THEM that!  One sneeze is the end of the world!

But my husband, he had a decent job in this town, my daughters and I did well, the girls grew up into young ladies any mother would be proud of.  It wasn’t long before they had suitors, young men who wanted to marry them and treat them well.  Such nice boys.  Both girls were engaged at the same time, I’m proud to say.  Both were going to be fine wives, just as I taught them.

Then THOSE men came.  My husband brought them home, said they needed a place to stay.  OK, we had guests before.  Hospitality is important to us.  Gotta be nice to people.  Well, the other men in the town, they didn’t like the guests.  That’s the truth.  The guests dressed kind of funny, all fancy colors on their clothes and stuff.  You know how small towns can get.  They just don’t like outsiders, especially if they look so, well, different.

So I make my husband’s favorite meal for his guests.  They start in on the wine – we all drink wine with our meals, mostly because the water’s so terrible.  Anyway, we’re eating and drinking and there’s this loud noise outside, and not a very nice-sounding noise.  Next thing you know, there’s pounding on the door.

Now I gotta tell you, this is where the newspapers start making stuff up.  The neighbors, the men who were banging on the door, they just wanted the strange men who were our guests to come outside.  They wanted to know who these strangers were who dressed so fancy.  OK, the men from the town were a little drunk; they’d already had their own suppers I guess.  You know how a little too much wine makes men, well, less than nice.  But the town men never planned to DO anything to our guests.  Well, not anything major anyway.  But instead, the newspapers made up all this horrid stuff about what the men wanted to do to our guests.  And THEN, like that’s not enough, the papers said that my husband offered to send our daughters out instead.  Can you believe that?  My husband would NEVER do such a thing!

Well, I can understand my husband wanting to be nice to our guests.  That’s the right thing to do.  We still had some wine left over from supper, and so my husband offered the men outside the wine.  I know what you’re thinking:  Why give wine to a bunch of rowdies who are already drunk?  But I gotta tell you, it worked!  He gave them the wine, and they passed around to each other and then passed out.

Personally, I think that should have been the end of it, but the guests thought there were gonna be more problems once the men woke up, so they told us to get the heck out of there.  My daughters – their fiancés didn’t want to go, and we ended up leaving without them.  Just took off out of town like the Devil Himself was after us.  Men panic over the smallest things!

Well, I’d say “the rest is history,” but the press has messed that up too.  My family and I, we were never apart during the whole ordeal.  When we finally found another nice, quiet town, there I was with my husband and daughters.  It wasn’t at all like that lame story the newspapers made up.

Lot, he says not to worry about it.  He says no one really believes what they read anymore.  He’s such a good husband.

Fairy Tale

Taryn Baxter was lucky.  Well, at least that’s how it looked.  Ethan was her childhood sweetheart, and even the Grand Canyon couldn’t contain the depths of their love for each other.  Marrying each other was as natural and expected as learning to run once you learned to walk.

The wedding was beautiful, of course.  Taryn wore white, and was probably one of the few girls left in town who could.  Her sister Samantha wore a shimmery lavender dress.  Sam was engaged to the best man.  The mothers cried for the beauty of the whole thing, and the fathers cleared their throats a lot.  As the newlyweds left the church, Taryn’s kindergartners formed a color guard on the sidewalk, tossing politically correct birdseed.  Lots of photographs were taken, even though this wedding was beautiful enough to be unforgettable.  The whole thing was like a fairy tale, and you just knew they’d live happily ever after and have the right number of kids and write cheery newsletters every Christmas about the family’s major accomplishments of the year.

It really was supposed to be that way.  Taryn did everything right.  She saved herself for her wedding night and surprisingly enough, so did Ethan.  They went to the pre-Cana wedding classes to meet with the priest and learn about themselves and each other.  They went on an Engaged Encounter weekend with other couples from St. Eva’s.  They were devoted to each other without being disgusting or clingy.  They loved each other enough to enjoy each other’s company; they loved each other enough to spend time apart.

Taryn and Ethan didn’t fight much.  Ethan had lived alone long enough to handle Taryn’s allergy to ironing boards.  Taryn had enough brothers to get over Ethan’s inability to put the seat back down.  When the honeymoon was over, they discovered that they genuinely liked each other.  All the same, one night a week, Ethan hung out with the guys, playing cards or bowling or doing whatever guys do, and Taryn spent that same night with the girls, or her sister and mother, mostly talking, and usually talking about guys in general and their own in particular.

It goes without saying that it wasn’t long before Taryn was pregnant.  The guys razzed Ethan that now he was going to smell of peanut butter instead of Aqua Velva, and that he’d know more about the Berenstein Bears than the Chicago Bears.  The girls teased Taryn that instead of having one husband and one baby, she’d really have two babies.  And of course everyone mentioned what leaky things babies are, and how Ethan and Taryn would never again sleep through the night.  They laughed and bought cute baby stuff whenever they had the chance.  Boy clothes, girl clothes – they bought both.  Better to be ready for anything than to just have a bunch of generic stuff lying about the house.

They were on their way to the Lamaze class at the hospital when Ethan went back into the apartment building to get the coupon book; they always went out to eat after class.  It was a way of reminding themselves to be a couple in addition to being parents.  That was one of the things they’d learned in the many parenting books they’d read.

When Ethan went back into the building—that’s when Taryn stopped being lucky.  So did Ethan.  As much as Ethan loved Taryn, apparently that’s how much Vince Sassenberry hated his own wife, Grace.  Unfortunately for Ethan, the first shot Vince fired at Grace missed, and went through the hollow door.  The second shot fired at Grace made it a double homicide.  That was no consolation for Taryn.

Taryn moved back into her parents’ house right before the baby was born.  That was their idea, really.  Taryn was so withdrawn that they feared for their grandchild’s well-being.  Shortly after Julianna was born, Taryn went back to teaching kindergarten, but her spark was gone.  She was lost without Ethan, and she was mad.  She’d done everything right, everything the way she’d been taught.  For what?

Slowly, slowly, Taryn began to recover.  Julianna was a delightful child, with a sense of humor and an innate charm that she probably wouldn’t outgrow once she was too old to be “cute.”  Taryn made sure that Julianna got to spend time with Ethan’s family.  At first she merely dropped the baby off, but after a while she stopped in to tell them the latest cute thing Julianna did.  By the time Julianna was talking, Taryn stayed for the whole visit.  It was no coincidence that the visits happened more often than not when Ethan’s brother Ted was home.

Somehow, spending time with Ted wasn’t the same as being disloyal to Ethan, since the two men were so much alike.  Ted had that same half-smile that Ethan had when he wasn’t sure about something.  They even sounded alike on the phone.  Since Julianna liked everybody, she was naturally pleased to see her Uncle Ted.  Sometimes, seeing the man and toddler together, Taryn would imagine that they were really father and daughter rather than uncle and niece.

Even though Taryn started to become attached to Ted, he made sure that the relationship didn’t progress in the direction that Taryn was starting to aim for.  Well, they did have sex one night, but Ted was really, really drunk, and Taryn wasn’t any more sober than he was, and afterward they were never quite sure whether or not it had actually happened.  After that, though, Ted spent less and less time with his family, at least when Taryn and Julianna were there.  By the time she noticed Ted and some bearded guy at the mall one day, Taryn had already begun to wake up and start looking at Mr. Tighe, the fifth grade teacher.

Julianna was four when she was her mother’s bridesmaid.  This wedding was much more subdued.  A few photographs were taken, a small notice was placed in the newspaper, but Julianna was the only one in white.  Taryn’s dress was eggshell, which very much fit the mood of the event.

Mr. Tighe and Julianna never quite became attached to each other.  Then again, apparently Mr. Tighe and Taryn didn’t either.  After two children were born to the couple, the marriage died.  It was a fairly painless death; neither Taryn nor her husband had enough passion for each other to even fight.  Mr. Tighe brought in the divorce papers, Taryn signed them, and he left.  She could have been signing a field trip permission slip for Julianna.

It was a while before Taryn noticed that she was actually in love again.  By now she’d given up on the whole thing, actually.  All she actually wanted was a friend, someone she could talk to.  Well, really, she wanted someone to cry at the end of West Side Story with, and someone to talk her into going on the scary rides at the fair.  Jasmine turned out to be a little bit more than that.  By the time Taryn and Jasmine became lovers, it seemed as natural to Taryn as loving Ethan had been.

When they moved in together, Jasmine brought her son Caleb to the family mix, making them a nice couple with four perfect children who were, conveniently enough, two boys and two girls.  There was no pre-Cana or Engaged Encounter this time.  However, the commitment ceremony at the Unitarian Universalist Church was actually just as beautiful as Taryn’s wedding to Ethan had been.  Of course, this time the crying and throat-clearing of parents had a different meaning, but at least the parents came.  Although the newly wedded couple couldn’t legally register as domestic partners, Jasmine’s company was enlightened enough to consider them a family and carry Taryn and her children on Jasmine’s insurance.

It would be really nice to be able to say that Jasmine and Taryn and the children all lived happily ever after.  Unfortunately, Mr. Tighe had a cow when he found out and there was a huge custody battle over the two children he had fathered biologically, although not emotionally.  Eventually Taryn won, but it was a nasty situation for a while.  Jasmine’s ex-husband stayed out of the whole thing.  He was OK with Caleb living with his mother; that was better to him than having everyone find out that his ex-wife was a lesbian.

Taryn and Jasmine were devoted to each other without being disgusting or clingy.  They weren’t militant about being lesbians or married to each other.  They were a family, not a political statement.  They went out to eat twice a month without the kids, and Tuesday nights they had breakfast for supper.  They argued about whose turn it was to take out the trash, and whether or not the kids should be playing with Barbie dolls and guns.  The women did eventually agree that there was no correlation between a life of crime and whether or not a child put the lid back on the toothpaste, and saved their parenting battles for important things, like whose turn it was to do the dishes. They wrote cheery newsletters every Christmas about the family’s major accomplishments of the year.  And although they didn’t live happily ever after, they came pretty darn close.

Deranged Fruit

The apples are on drugs, you know.

I heard it from the pear.

He told me what the apples do,

but no one seems to care.


They sell themselves to get some dough.

they have no shame or pride.

The pear had witnessed it himself!

The apples say he lied.


The pear told me the other day

the apples got arrested.

The peaches went and bailed them out —

or so the pear attested.


The apples seem so harmless that

I don’t know what to think.

The peaches say the problem is

the pear, who is a fink.


There’s not much left that I can do.

I could just make fruit salad.

The pear and apples would shut up

and end my little ballad.


Now I suppose you think that’s gross

to eat the pear and apples.

You’re right.