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Mutual of Omaha's Wild...

turtle

They sat on the couch together, wrapped on in a blanket watching tv.

"Leatherback sea turtle males enter the sea as a child, they will never return to land, " the documentary explained.

"Wow, imagine being born into a world with the crush of gravity - and then leaving it almost immediately to be in the three D world of the ocean for the rest of your life. Never knowing a sunny beach as a male sea turtle."

"leatherback turtles return to the region where they hatched to mate and nest.", said the soft british narrator.

"I wonder if they all become gay once they are back in the water."

His husband hit the mute button.

"Gay? and how do you come up with this amazing scientific thought, Jacque Cousteau?"

"well - it says that even the lady turtles only come on land once a year to nest and leave eggs."

"so if they're all gay - where do the eggs get fertilized?"

"no - what I meant is - for a month a year - they all becoming heterosexual - through some hormonal change - return to where they were born, fuck everything in sight - then go back to hanging with their homo homies for the rest of the year."

"homo. homies. you frighten me. so you know human sex doesn't work that way right?"

"omg no. I am a gold star gay - no vag badge all the way. i wonder if nature creates a mad flush of gay hormones back into the turtles after mating season makes them FORGET THEY EVER HAD HETEROSEX! Wow, I'm brilliant!

But, honey, I'm more worried about all these parentless little leatherbacks who head to the sea with no mommy or daddy to guide them.

What if a shark is waiting off shore in a feeding frenzy. they'd be better on the beach - under little umbrellas with mai tais instead of in the mean dangerous ocean."

"um. wow. hormones to make male turtles forget they had straight sex? you are not well.", he said unmuting the television.

"The most predominant threats to leatherback sea turtles occur on nesting beaches. Coastal development has reduced the area where they can successfully nest, dogs and other animals often destroy their nests, and people harvest their eggs for food. Naturally, only one or two of thousands of eggs will make it to adulthood." said the narrator.

"I'm beginning to think I'm glad i'm not a sea turtle. gay or straight."

"amen sister. now shush and let me enjoy the program."

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resplendent

pink waiting room chairs

It wasn't clear to her what she was going to do. She'd received the call a few horrible hours beforehand.

The car had skidded out of control on early morning black ice and rolled, killing the driver, her brother-in-law, and the front seat passenger, her twin sister.

Peggy had met David a few years previous at school. David taught art at a school for the deaf, where Peggy had taken her first job out of college teaching English. Despite then working and living in the deaf world, Peggy was in love. She and David were soon married.

Behind the door across from her was their son Jeffrey. Miraculously, but for scrapes, bruises and a broken wrist, he had survived. Her hands fumbled with her handbag, as she waited impatiently in the hallway.

She was dressed for Easter Mass. A resplendent pink dress, an exaggerated white pearl necklace. She'd come straight here without thinking about it, and now felt horribly overdressed, pretentious and ridiculous. Her makeup ran on her face, her hair was frizzing out. The day so far had been the worst she could remember.

She did not know sign language, and earlier, had tried speaking to the boy through an interpreter. When the gravity of the situation occurred to him, he let out this unearthly moan, unlike any noise she had ever heard. He turned away from them in the bed and said or did nothing else.

Here she was a few long minutes later, desperately trying to find the right thing to do, when her son nudged her.

He said quietly, "He's texting me."

"Texting you?" , she replied, woken up from her worried mind.

Of course, they were texting! The language of any kid under fifteen these days is texting or DM's. Why hasn't she thought of that? 'Pull your head out, Margery,' she thought to herself.

"Yeah, he's worried you are angry with him."

"Oh my gosh, honey, what for?"

"Here…" , he said, handing her the phone.

"I am afraid Aunty is upset with me for crying." the text read.

"Oh my dear, no," she said outloud. "Let's go in and talk to him together. Would you type for me?"

Her son nodded and they got up and opened the door to Jeffery's room. He had sat up in bed, his face lit up as they entered.

"Tell him that we love him and would never be angry with him. That we are here to help him, to take care of him."

The two boys looked at each other and tapped their phones.

Her son showed him his screen.

"I don't know what to do. What do I do?"

She pulled a chair up close to his bed.

"We take care of each other," she said softly, letting her son transcribe. "This is a horrible thing, but we'll take care of each other."

She reached out and gently touched his face. He held her hand for a moment and then let out a sudden giggle.

Looking down at his phone, smiling, he began furiously tapping. Giggling again, he showed her his words.

"Mama never wore pink because she said you always wore it so much better. She was right."

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outta

black and white shot of shower

He'd spent all day prepping. He'd done the perfect beauty ritual - a bubbling clay mask, scrub and moisturizer. He'd oiled and straightened his beard, his fucking facial hair was flawless.

He'd pressed his favorite shirt. The floral with just enough formalness but still casual at heart. He'd not eaten the day before so he could fit into his sexy slim fit jeans. He'd back off 30% on his usual fragrances.

He arrived at dinner. He sipped on chardonnay and decided against more bread - until thirty minutes had passed. The server understood, she'd obviously been there herself.

"Even if he's not coming you should have something to eat, honey.", she'd said.

He had the largest alfredo pasta ever, more wine than seemed humanly possible and two tiramisus for dessert, with a third in a to-go box.

no email from him. no text.

After stumbling home, he had already been sitting under the hot shower for 20 minutes waiting for his sour, angry mood to improve.

"Wash that man right outta my hair, my ass.", he muttered to himself.

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despite this soft death

donuts

A bookish man with an unkempt mop of greying hair sat nervously fumbling through large pieces of parchment. Stepping up into the soft mauve spotlight, staring up nervously, he began to speak.

"Are you reminded of your youth when you have a mouthful of fresh hot french fries?

Of lost loves at the taste of a lemon poppyseed cake.

Of your drunk aunty the way your tongue rolls around in your mouth over a perfect risotto.

How he tasted in the shower that November morning before he left when you crunch into a crumpet laden with butter and honey.

Your father who used to embarrass you screaming at waiters in restaurants when you are served a slightly over-toasted sourdough crouton in a caesar salad.

Carbs are........

Carbs.................

are killing you softly. Yet, despite this soft death, we cannot help ourselves.

Carbs are love,

our intimacies,

our memories,

Carbs are sex.

All this and more when I cried a small tear this morning when I woke up alone, without donuts."

Finger snaps moved across the room like the wave at a football stadium, the room filling with affirmative murmurs of no longer hushed observations.

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the dirt is still here

sprout

I was out for my Sunday run when I saw him kneeling in one of the flower beds. The old Placer place had been on the market so long it really was a surprise when it finally sold. Its yard was overgrown and the house, far removed from the street, took on a southern gothic air. The moving vans came and went, the neighbors all eager to see who their new neighbor was. He continued his work nonstop until everything was meticulously manicured and restored. Watching him work was like watching someone fulfill the most devout monastic journey.

This admiration went for several Sundays. We grew to expect each other, looking expectantly from our respective worlds. It started with a smile to a stranger, which turned into a friendly wave. Finally, I circled back after a wave and stopped to talk to him.

He introduced himself as ‘the gardener,’ curiously with no proper name. The first thing I noticed was his dirty fingernails. The second was the large-scale chain and lock around his neck. He wore a sunhat that was in scale with the rest of him. He was a gigantic man with tattoos seemingly everywhere.

I told him how much I admired his dedication to the garden, that I never seem to find time to work in my own. That with the hustle bustle of life - the internet, the job, the wife, the kids, my folks - that it felt like so many things fell through my fingers.

"See here," he motioned, pointing to a handful of dirt in his hands, letting it fall between his fingers, "What you are missing is that even though it falls through my fingers.... the dirt is still here."

He reached down, gently caressing the fallen dirt he'd just dropped like one might the soft cheek on a child.

"It never goes away, ya see....," he said with a friendly smile, looking back up at me,“..it's just waiting here to be worked another time. Sure as shit, it fell through my fingers, it just means I have to reach for it again another time rather than considering the earth as "lost" to me, or as some kind of failure. The dirt is always waiting for me here. The dirt doesn't get offended.

Your only requirement is be to aware and present right in this instant, enjoy who you are with now, like we clearly are......versus being distracted by all the things you could be doing. Do your very best for the person or task you are in right now, and let the rest fall away.

I figure that's how I became a good man in the garden. When I'm out here - nothing else matters, and I give my best self to just this task. There are other tasks in life, to be sure, but they'll come in their own time. You'll see. It's like a magic spell."

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