5. A Few Extra Bucks, by Sankar Chatterjee
It was an unusually hot summer Saturday morning in New York. Cheng Li, a Chinese Ph.D. student in city’s university, was already late for a guest lecture. He would decide to cut through Brooklyn’s Orthodox Jewish neighborhood. He found dazed Shlomo Rosen on sidewalk.
Cheng: You OK, sir?
Shlomo: Air conditioner! Not functioning!
Entering the premise, Cheng found nothing wrong and turned it on. Shlomo offered a $10 tip.
Cheng: No need, sir.
Shlomo: You don’t understand. Today is Sabbath; I’m not allowed to turn on any machine.
Cheng took the bill. For next four summers, he would spend his Saturday mornings in that neighborhood.
4. The Red Bridge, by Don Tassone
All the kids in my neighborhood crossed it on our way to school. Gently arched, the red bridge spanned a deep creek and made our journey through the woods safe and fun.
One summer evening, when I was 15, I met Lisa Jasper there. As kids, we’d crossed the bridge together many times on our way to and from school, but we’d never been there alone.
Leaning over the railing, we watched the fireflies flickering in the trees and listened to the restless murmur of the creek below. Then I turned to Lisa and kissed her, and she kissed me.
3. Forgiveness, by Russell Conover
She was devastated when he stole her personal money and abandoned her. Initially she called the cops and tried to find him, but she had no luck. Now he, and her savings, had vanished.
She really tried to forgive him, knowing he was struggling. He wasn’t in a good place emotionally, and he was only grasping for a way to get by. Sucked for her, but he was desperate.
Nope. She couldn’t do it. He’d traumatized her so badly that she’d always be scarred. A lump formed in her throat, just remembering.
Moving on was the only option. Be strong.
2. A Long-Awaited Trip, by Chloe Ford
“Did you lock the front door?” I ask, as we clear the bridge and head out of town.
I see him wince, answer enough: “Turn around.”
His thoughts are as clear to me as if a bubble and words appeared above his head, but arguing is pointless.
I jump out as soon as we’re back in the driveway, and feeling silly, I can’t help darting inside to check on things.
The blow catches me right across my face and I know I’m going down hard. The floor comes up to meet me.
If only we’d kept on driving.
1. How Was Your Weekend? by Ian Fletcher
Fuck! He’s at the coffee machine. No escape.
“Hey, Ian! How was your weekend?”
“OK,” I say.
“And you?” I add, as one does.
“Great! I … I … ” blah, blah, blah.
“Do anything interesting yourself?” he asks.
I trawl for some event to say something about …
“What’s your take on Trump’s decision to … ?” he continues.
I have no interest in the matter (nor has he) but regurgitate an opinion to satisfy this empty chatterer.
“Nice talking to you!” he says, energized.
“You, too,” I lie, already drained by 9:00 a.m. on Monday.
Being an introvert is tough.