I hoped they would stop worshiping the coat soon. After my husband Ed spilled coffee on his shoulder I'd washed it and put it out on the line to dry.

Someone from town happened to pass by as it swung from the line. He said he saw the face of Jesus in it. Right where Ed had spilled the coffee.

They came after. Ed tried to run them off with his shotgun. He tried to sick the dogs on them. They still came. All wanting to look at it. Take a piece of it home with them.

I took it...

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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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His life was on the line.

Strung from tree to tree, across the back yard, his priorities blew in the wind. There were his coat and slacks, accompanied by an assortment of lively, but respectable, neckties. There was his underwear. There was his hockey jersey.

There were his one-year-old's Big Boy Diapers, and his wife's sweaters, and his dog's blanket.

And there was the note.

He slowly, thoughtfully pulled in the line, taking the items down, one by one. When he reached the paper, his heart caught in his throat.

"If you had another chance," it said to him, "would...

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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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He didn't think he was much of a cat person until he met Matilda. He'd found her one morning in a battered cardboard box on his doorstep and, seeing her huge green eyes and tiny paws, took her into the house. But he didn't know then that Matilda was a very special cat.

The first couple of years passed and Matilda grew from a small ball of fluff into a fully grown feline with glossy black fur. But it was the third year that Matilda began to change dramatically.

The black began to fall away to be replaced by bright...

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"Who among you, if her son asks her for bread, will instead give him a stone?"

I was paraphrasing, and quoting out of context, but she didn't know that. She was just a foolish, naive, ignorant, innocent young girl. She'd begged and pleaded for the opportunity to raise a pet. The goldfish just hadn't been enough, either. Oh no; she wanted a mammal.

So the baby gorilla came home with me one day, fresh out of acting school. This little guy was GOOD. He could play dead with the best of them. He could even slow his heart rate to...

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Until now, she'd never thought of herself as pretty.

She'd never thought of herself as anything close to it. Too tall, too dark, too weird-looking in general, too much stomach fat and too small a face and too much that was just plain wrong.

Too little personality at first and then too weird a personality later. Too much for other people to deal with.

Too timid to speak up, too hinged on other people's expectations of her.

Too affected by what others said, too stupid to bring up her own ideas or her own thoughts.

And how that's changed.

Now...

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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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He ripped the tape off the top of the box, and thrust open the flaps. There was a small cardboard van inside. He took it out gingerly, and held it up to his face, and smiled. The cat inside meowed at him.

The mail-order company had come through once again! He placed it on his shelf of Interesting Things.

He had taken it upon himself to order the most interesting things he could find in the local newspaper or on eBay and arrange it on this shelf. That way, he could impress almost anyone who walked through that door. The...

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