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Before Bebe goes to bed, she reads a book. When she wakes up, Bebe reads a book then, too.

Most people tell Bebe not to read so much. They say it will hurt her eyes or that she’ll get flabby from sitting around all day. Her mother says reading in the morning is just an excuse to be lazy. Bebe kindly disagrees.

“Mama,” Bebe glances over the spine of her hardcover, “I really don’t see what the problem is with my reading at the table.”

“It sets the tone for the day. If you want to read to go to sleep, fine. But reading when you wake up? Your head’s always somewhere else.” Bebe’s mother is not at the table. She’s pouring coffee into her favorite black mug to drink before she leaves and into her granite travel mug to take with her to work. Her spoon clinks a few times against the side of the mugs and then clatters loudly in the sink.

“I like the tone I’m setting.”

“You have to speak louder, Bebe!” Bebe’s mother was running her hands under the faucet. The handle squeaked back off and she was on to frying eggs and fresh salsa into a hot pan.

“I like my routine! It’s calming.”

Her mother scrapes the spatula round the spattering pan. “Mija, I know. But your teachers say you read during class. You’re a smart girl but you need to apply yourself.”

Bebe’s book clamps shut. “Mama,” she frowns, “Do you remember how I used to be? How I used to spend my mornings?”

She could see her mother’s shoulders rise and fall. Bebe returned to her book.

Quietly, her mother sneaks a plate of huevos and tortilla under her nose. “It’s a quick breakfast, but you need to eat.”

Bebe pushes her book aside as her mother sits at the table with only her coffee.

“Mama, aren’t you going to eat?”

She blows at her coffee. “You go ahead. I’m trying to diet.”


“Okay, give me your fork. I’ll have a bite.” Her mother scoops up some egg and washes it down with a little coffee.

Bebe blew at her food. “Have you ever tried to blow on ice cream like it was something hot?” she said, dishing some egg warm egg into her mouth. “Mr. Reyes says we do it because we’re trying to get the ice cream the same temperature as our breath.”

“Is Mr. Reyes the only teacher you listen to?”

Bebe blushes. Her mother cackles.

“I’m sorry, baby. Go ahead. What is this about ice cream?”

“Well… I was thinking… that reading, is a lot like that. When I get too hot or too cold, reading helps bring me up or down. That’s why I like to start my day that way. I don’t know. Does that make any sense?”

Her mother sips at her coffee. “No. Not really. But I’m just happy for you that you’re not skipping school anymore.” She sighs, looking at the microwave clock. “If being a bookworm makes you happy, then I’m happy.”

Bebe smiles with her head down and eats faster. Her mother slides her chair out. “But do me one favor, Bebe?” She leans over and kisses her on the forehead. “Mr. Reyes isn’t the only teacher that is trying to make you smarter. Keep your books in your backpack, okay?”

Bebe rolls her eyes. “Okay.”

Her mother kisses her on the cheek. “Oh. You taste like huevos.”

“And your breath smells like coffee.”

Bebe’s mother swats the back of her head. “Vamos, bookworm. You have a bus to catch.”


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Filed under Flash Fiction, Session XXII


If I had a dime for every time I had this dream, I would shoot myself. I’m walking down a hallway and Sadie is sitting there with blood on her hands. Sometimes she says it’s her own blood. Sometimes it’s mine. Or Chev’s. Or she’s licking it off her fingers. Occasionally Chev comes by with an axe or a chainsaw. Sometimes he sneaks up on me and I turn around and the dream ends. There are nights when the dream repeats over and over again. I will wake up in my bed only to see Sadie there with blood on her hands. At first it freaked me out, then I got angry, and now I’m just exhausted. When I wake up to see Kira standing over me, I know that it’s probably just another dream again.

“Why haven’t you returned any of my calls?”

I think it was at this time I realize that she is real and I panic. I shoot up in the bed and hit my head against the wall trying to get away from her. I’m not sure why the real Kira standing there is more shocking than a dream Kira. Just unexpected, I guess.

“Whoa, Diz,” she was cracking up. “I’m sorry. I just wasn’t–” she catches her breath, “I wasn’t expecting that.” She wipes away a tear. “Are you okay?”

Seeing Kira in my room laughing at me makes me want to cry, and not because I’m upset at her. It’s almost a release seeing Kira here again. I want to unload all my worries on her, but still…

“Why are you in my room?” I ask, rubbing my head.

She stops laughing and pulls out her phone. I watch her with my jaw locked and my gut tells me something bad is coming. Maybe this is a dream after all.

From underneath a pile of clothes comes The White Stripes’ “Seven Nation Army.”

Kira clicks the phone shut. “That’s my ringtone, is it not?”

“Mhmm,” I grunt, palming a hand over my eye and through my hair. I probably look like a mess.

“So why haven’t you been calling me back. We can’t get through to Chev or Sadie, either, and your mom just said she didn’t know what the Hell was wrong with you. So?”

“So what?” I snapped. “I didn’t feel like calling you back. It’s fine.”

“It’s not fine.”

“What do you even care anyway? You’ve already moved on, started a new band.”

“I’m sorry. I thought we were still friends. I didn’t realize I was just your lead guitarist.”

“Don’t try that guilt trip shit on me.”

“Get dressed and be downstairs in ten minutes. We’re going for a walk. You don’t come down, I’m dragging your sorry ass down.” She slams the door on the way out.

Red lights on the clock tell me it’s almost noon. Why do I feel so tired? My head keeps humming with Sadie mumbling about blood on her hands. Outside the window, the jays are chirping. If only the world could stop and be quiet just for one moment.

It only takes me two minutes to get up and get dressed but I was sitting in bed the other eight. Kira is in the kitchen having a cup of coffee and chatting with my little brother.

“Morning, sunshine!” Kira says, chipper and put together. Her jeans and shirt look washed and her hair is tied back in a ponytail. I must look like a mess. My hair always sticks up in strange places in the morning.

Seamus was smiling but now that I’m here, he’s staring gloomily at the table. We haven’t talked much since that night. And when he does, he only talks about visiting Sadie. I yelled at him about how she’s a dyke and he needs to stop getting in her pants. We haven’t spoken a word to each other since then.

“Want some coffee? Breakfast? You guys have real maple syrup here! I’m so excited about it.”

“No, I’m okay.”

“You sure?”

“Let’s just get this over with.”

Kira sighs and pushes back her chair. She pats Seamus on the shoulder and says something in his ear. He’s smiling again, though I can’t help but wonder if it’s at my expense. Whatever.

Silently, we grab our coats. It’s one of the warmer days so far since the beginning of the month. I can’t even see my breath when the door opens and I wonder if I need a jacket. I glance over at Kira and she doesn’t say a word.

In fact, the entire walk occurs in silence. It wouldn’t be so bad if my head wasn’t tumbling around in a million directions.

“So, what’s up?” I ask. Kira stops abruptly. I turn to see her standing with her arms crossed.

“You tell me. Why has everyone dropped off the map? Seamus says he doesn’t know what’s up but he’s a terrible liar.”

“At least he knows when to keep his mouth shut.”

“So that’s it? You’re keeping something from me? Why? Because I haven’t been there to hold your hand?”

“That’s not–”

Kira breaks her stance to free up her hands. She puts a finger at my nose. “Come on, Diz! Are you really such a fucking baby all the sudden?”

I can’t meet her eyes.

“It’s none of your business.”

“Fine. I’m heading over to Sadie’s house next since it’s on the way to Chev’s. Maybe they can tell me something.” She spins on her heel and walks back to her car.

“Seamus didn’t tell you? About Sadie?”

“What about her?”

“She won’t be home right now.”

“Don’t fucking play games with me. Where is she?”

“She’s under surveillance at the hospital.”

Kira taps her foot three times and sighs deeply. “Get in the fucking car.”


“You can explain or not explain but you’re coming with me.”

“I can’t.” An image of Sadie with blood on her hands and Chev sneaking up on her with an axe comes to mind. It makes me shiver.

“Why? Tell me, please.”

“I just… please don’t go to Chev’s, Kira.”

“Does that mean you’re coming? What else are you going to do all day?”

Stay inside and watch T.V.

“Fine. Let’s go.”

Maybe I’m still dreaming, I think as I buckle the seatbelt. The wheels scratch against the ground as the car pulls away.

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Filed under Novel, Session XIX

Cold Eggs

It’s Sunday but the sun isn’t even out. It’s cloudy anyway. Sadie pokes her eggs with a plastic Little Mermaid fork.

“Why aren’t you eating your eggs?” Her mother inquires. ”You always like them scrambled.”

“Not always.”

“When you were a little girl you used to love–”

“I’m not a little girl anymore.” Sadie glares at her mother. She keeps glancing at the seat to her right, the one her father used to occupy when he was alive. It’s a nervous habit. “I’m just not hungry.”

Her mother doesn’t say anything. She continues eating.

“It’s cold, anyway…”

Metal crashes on the uneven table. The noise makes Sadie jump. Her mother clutches her head. Sadie hates when she does that. She hates that her mother acts like she’s this constant headache. She’s so dramatic.

“I pray every day–”

“Here we go again.” Sadie rolls her eyes.

“How about this, then! I work every day for you and I have been working to put this food on your plate! And the least you can do is when we have these rare moments where I’m not at the hospital and you’re not locked in your room or hanging out with your friends, then we can have some mother-daughter time together! Is that so much to ask?”

“So,” Sadie cringes, stirring her eggs. “It finally comes out.” She stabs the fluffy morsel. “You don’t like who I hang out with. You don’t like Dizzie.” Her fork pushes against the plate.

“Please, Sadie. Don’t do this. I love your friends and Dizzie has been a blessing, but all I have is you.”

The fork skids violently against the surface of the plate. The muscles in their jaws jump as they wince.


“Mother. Stop. I’m going to hang out with my friends and that’s that.”

“At least come back to church with me,” her mother pleads, hands folded like the virgin Mary.

“Sadie, I’m glad you worship at home. Believe me, ever since you set up that shrine in your room, I’ve thanked God every day. I just don’t understand why you wouldn’t want to go to church. Pastor Thomason knows more than anyone I know about God. He can give you a new perspective.”

“Has he met God? Has he shook His hand? Has he stared Him in the eyes?”

“Well, not exactly. But he–”

“Then he doesn’t really know, does he? I’m sick of all this speculation and all this talk about what could be. What about right here? What about right now?”

“Sadie, please. Think about it? It’s what your father–”

Sadie’s chair screeches on the floor as she stands.

Her mother sighs. “I’m sorry, Sadie. Just… please help me understand what it is you want out of your life.”

Sadie leans over, takes the fork and pops the fluffy piece of egg into her mouth. She straightens herself out and stands there, chewing and then swallowing. “Right now the eggs are cold. And I want to go to my room and go to bed.”

When Sadie gets to her room, she slams the door behind her.

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Filed under Novel, Session XIX

Sleep is for Cats

If I never have to wake up again, I’ll be the happiest kid on Earth. Nine years of school is too much for any brain to endure. Now I have four more years of torture. If I was Amish or born in Jamaica or something, I’d already be done with school. I’d live on a farm or an island or something until I died. But now…

“Seamus! Wake up!”

“Mno,” I groan into my pillow. The side I rolled my face into was slick with drool and it got all around my eye. “Mnooo!” I groan, though Mom hadn’t yanked the sheets off yet. What was keeping her?

I open my other eye–the dry and crusty one–only to receive a blast of even more wetness, blinding me completely. Mom had acquired one of my old squirt guns.

“Maaawm! You wet my bed!” It sounds weird now that I said it out loud.

“Put yer sheets in the dryer an’ take a shower. I wonder sometimes if I raised a boy or a cat!”

Aw, man. What a crappy morning. What a crappy life.

“Dizzie!” I hear my mom yell down the hall. Why’d she have to wake me up first? I impress even myself with my mighty yawn as I hurled my pile of sheets into the dryer. They’re pink with flowers. My parents decided to give me a queen-sized mattress one day but I guess couldn’t bother to buy new sheets. I think these ones belonged to Grandma at one point, thought maybe Grandpa had them thrown out. Oh well. It’s not like I ever had much of a choice.

Showering is kind of fun nowadays. I won’t go into details, but I never have enough time to clean anything else.

Breakfast is not so fun. I can’t stand being around Dizzie and now that we’re both going to high school, she’s going to be driving me there too.

“Morning, Freshman!” She gives me a noogie as I come down the stairs.

“G’offa me, Ditz!”

“You’re gonna have to come up with better ‘n that if you’re in high school, little Shamey-wamey.”

“Let. Go! Maaawm!”

“Dizzie. Let go o’ your brother! Seamus. Grow a pair. I don’t want you gettin’ the livin’ snot beat out o’ ya on yer first day.”

Dizzie rolled her eyes. “Oh, come on, Mom. This isn’t your high school in Ireland. We don’t have soccer hooligans ready to pounce on fresh meat. Just jerks and douchebags.”

“Like you,” I mutter.

“Exactly. So stay sharp!” She smacks my ass and if I’d been chewing gum, I would have swallowed it. “Where’s brekkie, Mom?”

We notice Mom is sitting with sunny side up eggs, toast and tea.

“Whatever’s in the cabinet.”

“But… eggs!” Dizzie hops from foot to foot and points at Mom’s plate.

“You wanted eggs, you should have been up when I was making them.”

We grab some wheaties and milk.

“I’m leaving!” Mom says. “Have a good first day, you two!”

The drive there isn’t actually that bad. Dizzie blasts Sonic Youth the entire way there so we don’t have to talk. But she did say one thing as soon as we got into the car: “If anyone actually does want to beat you up, you tell me. Kira and I will kill that fucker.” She gave me a lingering look and then buckled up. I think she might have been serious.

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Filed under Novel, Session XIX