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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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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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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Not everyone knows this, but Kate Beaton is obsessive, the painterly equivalent of a Method actor. To create each new page of "Hark, a vagrant!" she recruits Swiss artists' models to dress in period clothing and pose in front of the Alps. Frozen in position as well as in time, they are required to make only the most ridiculous of faces for her art to take fruition. Eyes are stressed. At least half of the models have held a spot in Guiness for eye-bugging capability.

Once their minds are relaxed after a sufficient period of standing still, they are required...

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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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Four beautiful years. She had sat at this dining room table, polished every day by ol' reliable Miss Hamm, when they ate their first dinner of lamb cutlet, squash, and fingerling potatoes. He was all razor sharp grins as she giggled at the pieces of potato that he purposefully left dangling at the side of his smile.

Next year, at Thanksgiving, they had had their newborn, squirming at the side of the table with all of his raw and tender newness. He and his mother rambled on about the beautiful, perfect baby boy as if the two of them had...

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morning. you are up and out the door.
morning. you are up and out the door.
morning. you are up and out the door.
morning. you notice something different. you are up and out the door.
morning. you notice something different. you have lost some hair during the night. you are up and out the door.
morning. you notice something different. you have lost some hair during the night. you get a little concerned. you are up and out the door.
morning. you notice something different. you have lost some hair during the night. you get a little concerned. you...

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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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It was the fall that surprised me most. Stumbling, suddenly in darkness, in a vile body that felt alien, so different, so limited, so odd - nothing to...before.

They never believed me, never believed what I said, when I tried to explain where I belonged (this tongue is clumsy and cannot say the words I need - I use words like "sky" and "stars" and "above" and "far" but none of them even begin to describe home - home is the closest approximation I have, but it is, I find, unhelpful)

They tell me that such things - I -...

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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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