If your parents are going to name you after a song, there are a few things they should think about.

For a start, it needs to be a good song. Actually, no, it needs to be an actual name. Nobody wants a kid called "You know what they do to guys like us in prison."

But it still needs to be a good song. A really good one. Not some one-hit-wonder.

And it should be subtle. I mean, "Penny Lane" - that's obvious. "Layla"? Not so much.

Maybe I'll change my name to Layla, when the forms come through. Or...

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'Kenya.'

I looked up from my book. 'Huh?'

'Kenya.'

'Can I what?'

'No, the country. Kenya.'

'Yeah, okay, in Africa. What about it?'

'We found him there. He's working in an aid camp for Somalian refugees.'

'Him? Who?'

'You know who I'm talking about.'

I put the book down, forgetting it. 'How certain are you of this? There can be absolutely no mistake, understand?'

'Positive identification. No question.'

'Anecdotal or visual? We need to be sure.'

'Oh, absolutely visual. A low flying drone picked him up leaving a market. He had a couple of bags of veggies and a rack...

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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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"I'll be 69 this year."
I lifted my eyes from my book, struggling with my irritation. Across from me sat a woman, her eyes clouded with reflection as she stared over my shoulder. "Forty years I could have spent with someone who adored me if I hadn't have been so blind."
I blinked. I couldn't quite tell if she was actually speaking to me. I folded my book around my thumb and waited. The ache in her voice spoke to the same in mine and I refused to look at my phone that had hummed more than once, someone far...

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god finger-painted the sky in blue, and glued on layers of fluffed cotton for the feel of it. he carefully arranged macaroni noodles below it, forming the shapes of volcanoes, of funeral pyres. he was making a field. he imagined sun ripened workers tending his pasta land, sweating and itching, and he made it so. they did not have time to wonder who created them. god was thoughtful enough to give them mountains to look at. he was proud of that. he took his artwork home for his mother to see.

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My four-year-old son was out of control. He tried to climb EVERYTHING, he made crazy yelling noises all the time, he had about a ten-word vocabulary, and he slipped out of his room every night to sleep with his pet jungle cats.

And it was all his grandpa's fault.

I should have seen it coming the day my son was born. I held him in my arms, showed him to my father-in-law, and said, "Hey, Dad, ain'tcha proud?" And he just twinkled his eyes at me, and ran his hand through his dreadlocks, and grunted bemusedly to himself.

I should...

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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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One hundred and eighty thousand pounds. Sterling. Sitting on her dresser, in tight little wads of cash. One hundred and eighty thousand pounds is a lot of money. Hell, before today, one thousand was the absolute maximum I had seen in any one place at one time, and that was in the hands of Stu, the dealer, and he was just flashing it around to show off. One hundred eighty thousand? It damn near crowded everything else off the dresser. And she was just, what, going to leave it there?

"Where's this from?" I asked.

"You know where it's from."...

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Until now, she’d never thought of herself as pretty. She though of her body as a reclamation project. One of those trash dump sites that had filled up and had to be pounded down, covered over and made to look like something else. Something stable and pretty. Like a piece of ground someone would be willing to invest in - maybe build some houses on and raise kids without ever knowing what was underneath.

She couldn't fix everything, of course. Those scars...well, there just wasn't much she could do about them. Long sleeves, not tanning too much so they wouldn't...

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