Midnight on the Roof. That's where he'll be. I know Santa Claus is real. I know that because he's my Dad.

It was small things at first. I made a list:
1) A wistful smile on Mum's lips each Christmas Eve. 
2) The way she hummed "I saw Mommy kissing Santa Claus" without noticing.
3) The fact we ALWAYS put out cookies and beer for him before Christmas Day. And a carrot for Rudolf.
4) My last real memory of him dressed in his large red gown and hat with white fur trim telling Mum he had to go. His...

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Hard to think now, gazing into her eyes as we lay side by side, that we'd only met on the train an hour ago. I'd been standing at first. She sat with a mother and two small kids, chatting away; she'd been so gentle, loving, playful with them. Occasionally, she'd look out the window. Several times she caught my eye in the glass, and smiled at my dimmer reflection. When the family got off at Bristol I sat down, the carriage empty now. We chatted about our lives, her boyfriend, my wife and grown up daughters. A generation gap meant...

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This sludgy finger of water curling around the land. A mucky smile that hides whatever you slip inside of it. The lake never tells.

So I'm pleased you chose this place to meet, my dear. You have solved a riddle I've kept hidden behind my own smile. Come closer for a moment so I can see your face in the moon. Let's walk down to the water's edge and peer deep into eternity.

I didn't want to meet you tonight. My plan was as unsettled as a river. But you pinched it off into something definable, and I feel calmer...

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I couldn't sleep with her next to me. The smell was making me crazy. She dead to the world, breathing her breath, rustling the covers, each movement sent her smell across the bed. Sour. Sick.

For weeks she wasted away in front of me. Now she didn't eat and her body was starting to draw on what little reserves we left. All fat gone, now her muscle. I was afraid to touch her. Afraid to look too closely. Afraid to see her slow wasting death.

But we still shared this bed. She and I, as always. The only difference now...

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Sal knew it was too late the minute the whistle blew. That train had been keeping time in Millersville for twenty years and when its screech filled the air, everyone knew it was one in the afternoon. An eclipse could turn the day to night and no one would doubt it was in the PM if the train sounded. Heart racing and pulse pounding, Sal made a desperate dash down the road, passing the stable and skidding to a halt. "Now there's an idea." If some idiot wanted to leave a saddled horse loosely tied to this hitching post just...

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They say that I come from a family of heroes. And I suppose that is true. Uncle George, who rescued an entire family from a burning building. Cousin Bethany, the dashing soldier. Cousin Allister, who sailed his boat up river and discovered the Lost Tribe of Allawak. My father, the boxer and revolutionary. Great Aunt Marya, who sang so sweetly that she brought down the Monster Carescu, him and his entire government. Great great great Gramma Florence and Granpa Sidney, who together fought brigands for some queen in some other country. They were quite dashing I am told. As others...

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There was a comma where a semicolon should have been. This drove her crazy. She thought of actually shooting herself in the head but that would have required a 3-day waiting period; besides, she hated guns. So she kept going through the papers, red slashes here, smiley faces there. But many more slashes than smileys. Soon she just started making slashing smiley faces. Her students wouldn't know the difference, she thought.

After all, they couldn't tell the difference between simple punctuation so how could they get her irony?

John, her favorite student and best writer in her Senior Classics class...

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"Come here," I whisper loud enough for her to hear me.
She gives me a look and laughs, tilting her head up to the sky.
"Kay"

The bark of the palm tree leaning over the ocean against my hand is hard but smooth.
Like the shore's winds blew away every crack and bump.

"Here," I pat my lap as I prop myself against the tree.
Mocking a shocked look, she kicks the sand up so it sticks against my wet foot.
I stare down for a moment as she comes to settle on my lap.
Her hair smells like salt...

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We made a little church of our own when we promised to marry. You asked me when I barely understood how to love you, and I'd been innocent so long that I think the moment you told me you loved me you became ever more desperate to snap me up. Three days after the initial declaration came the proposal. I ran away from you and hid.

You're a terrible boy. Everyone says so. I'd heard the talk since the beginning of time and I'd seen the queue of sobbing girls you left behind you. And yet.... you told me loved...

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The Potentate surveyed his creamsicle tower cooly.

"Were my instructions not clear," he asked in the calm manner so many of his associates found so frightening. "Was the language I was speaking truly so difficult to decipher?"

Nobody spoke up at first, though everyone knew two things: the longer he went without an answer, the angrily the Potentate would get. The second fact, whoever spoke first stood a good chance of receiving the brunt of his displeasure. As was often the case, everyone opted for an intense anger spread over the whole group, then face being a direct target of...

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