"Vera Recovering from Kickball (Monday Morning Listening to Steve Earle Without English Muffins)"
Vera's fantasies involve (at alternating times) pizza with banana peppers and feta, Roger Moore (early, "The Saint" Roger, if possible, thank you), and playing kickball professionally. Though she has little or no practical chance, the latter is the only one she actively pursues. Really, we're all just dancing on Bob Dylan's coffee table.
"Taking The Cure (Jane Doing Reference Work)"
There are a bunch of stories that no one's ever told. Or if they did, nobody ever told her. Somebody's having a birthday party down the hall, but Jane's stuck listening to 80's music on cassette. It was the kind of thing she and and I used to do. Jane's got a few notebooks. One for ideas, one for regrets. But the one she refers to the most is the one with the lies she's been told.
"Way Back in Sherando Woods; Sigrid Tells Dark Stories"
There's a fair amount of roof on the bedroom floor. Fallen in, fallen down. I lay myself down on a moldy box spring, pick up a blanket of shingles and cover my naked self. Sigrid pulls the toilet into the living room, sits and watches rain fall through a broken window. We are all alone.
"Priorities (Mary on Tuesday)"
Slow down, she says to no one in particular. You've always gotta be doing at least three things at once. Just pick a thing and do it well. She shakes and head and laughs. I get it, the world's a busy place, a complicated place. But you'd do better by picking one thing and putting your energy into that. It's never clear is she's talking to me, to the world, or maybe to herself. And of the three things you think you have to get done at once, one is trying to think of something snarky to say to your ex, and one is watching cat videos. Just be smarter about where you spend your energy. She stops talking to no one in particular, sits up taller, and looks out the window at the cloudy afternoon.
"October (Northeast Alabama Phoebe)"
Twenty-four years of watching the fall and listening to that damn interstate. No one up there even knows she's here, and that's just the way Phoebe likes it. She's talking about when she used to play mini golf when she was little but Phoebe's memory is in the backseat of an impala that's been up on blocks since 1978. She waltzes with her lover who is not here to the music of an entirely different species. Phoebe gives interstate 59 the finger as sweet old route eleven floats us peacefully underneath it. She's well on her way.
"Breathing At Last (Jane, Recently)"
In my dream, I know it's a dream. I'm watching a video, and I know it's a video, even though I'm watching it in my eyes, not on a screen or on a teevee. The dream/video starts with the last light of the end of the tunnel disappearing, as the train rounds a corner inside the tunnel. Then just occasional flickers of light and sparks on the walls of the tunnel. Then, completely without warning, the tunnel ends and light floods the lens. After so many years in the dark, there's brightness all around me. The train is rolling along a beautiful cliff above a western river. My lungs have fresh air in them for the first time in years.
"Waiting (Alice, December)"
Alice rarely needs saving, but every so often when she's in over her head, she freaks out a little and needs a wee rescue. Far too often there's no one around who is qualified, and she slowly sinks under the water.
"Kinda Like The Newlywed Game (Mary After Work)"
Mary used to have a job as a game show host a few years back. She would dress up like a 1950's housewife and ask the contestants embarrassing questions about their ex-lovers. It was only on a weird local station that nobody much watched and even fewer companies advertised on. Her show was on right after one of those local talent shows that was taped in front of an audience at the local high school auditorium, so a surprising number (and assortment) of people saw her. The station got bought out by some big media company, and Mary works retail now. People come in all the time and recognize her without knowing quite where they recognize her from.
"Those Secret Purchases (Laurel, After Work)"
When you see her where she works, behind the counter at the pharmacy, you'll assume she's a shy young thing who doesn't get out much, and whose evenings are generally spent in the company of her cat Larry. And one level there's a lot of truth to that. But be aware that there's another side to Laurel, that only men with a quiet but confident demeanor and a healthy chunk of disposable income get to enjoy.
"Vera Channeling a Colorado Diner Waitress"
I hear the voice of God. It comes over to my table and tells me about the winters here. It refills my coffee and says yeah we get some snow but the next day its all blown to North Dakota. The voice of God says you want patty or link and I think of harmonies and angels and Patsy Cline.
"Giggletipsy (Caroline at the Market)"
I walk along your beach, the ocean in my feet and the sun on my arm. I lie on a blue towel with three beers in my tummy and a three day old newspaper nestled under my feet. There are days so perfect and pure that you're sure that if you can just lie down for a nap and then get up again it will all be fine and normal and good again.