A man with the right scruffed-up beard and breadth of chest swaggered into the S and M dungeon that was my place of business, and twenty minutes and one grand later had my chin — still soft with the downy fluff of teen-girl skin — held steady in one paw while the other one flew at my face so hard and fast that I ceased to exist as the same collection of matter I had been the previous instant.
When Sarah’s mother, Penny, got sick four years into our marriage, we decided to move back to Mississippi, considering it penance for the sins of our youth. We signed a lease on a house, a white one-story on the historical register with a wraparound porch and angels, stars, and the moon painted on the transom above the front door.
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Dad’s leftover stew, the kids’ Lunchables, coffee and pie with a friend
A detour in Samoa, an encounter in a bar, a snowfall in Colorado
Conspicuous consumption, retail therapy, a botched makeover
A miraculous experience, a mixed-faith couple, a big fat question mark
A commercial fisherman, a difficult pregnancy, a widowed father
Flunking a driver’s test, frightening a bully, grown up at fourteen
After school, after a divorce, after an earthquake
Under the Milky Way, after the fireworks, out of the closet
A ghost in the house, the police at the door, a phone call in a dream
Bowing to men, kissing in public, crossing the border