The poker game lasted for hours. It was raining in the forest and all four of us were in Janie’s big tent. Two cots gave us seating and we put our cards on top of the ice chest. For a while I was winning, then Shay took all my winnings with a full house. I hate losing, even if it’s only matches. Tomorrow I would play a trick on Shay to get even . . .
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She moved to a house in the country so she could see the stars. I thought of her this morning as I rolled my trash barrels out to the alley for trash pickup day. It was still dark. I looked up at the sky and picked out the constellations I recognize. She knows what she’s doing, my friend, because looking at stars is good for your soul.
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Dan crouched behind the leafless lilac bush. He quickly rolled up 5 new snowballs. His mittens were soggy but he hardly noticed.
“Come out, you yellow bellied coward,” Tom called.
Snowballs at the ready, Dan stepped out and began to fire missiles at Tom, who was next to the garage. “Take that, you villain!” Dan shouted. Tom ran an evasive zigzag across the snow. He carried a giant snowball – as big as a basketball. It was aimed straight for Dan’s head.
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“Aren’t we lucky?” she said. The sun lit the sky with red and orange and yellow in a blazing sunset over the ocean. She sat on a lounge chair on the balcony of her Greek hotel with a glass of wine in her hand. She looked at Gretchen and smiled.
Gretchen raised a pistol with a silencer and aimed it at her. She . . .
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Snow closed the road. The radio said there were people working to clear it but we might be sitting by the side of the highway for quite a while. My spouse smiled at the kids. “At least we won’t get scurvy. We have that bag of oranges in the trunk. And a carton of strawberries!”
“And blankets,” I added.
Their only concern was that they couldn’t get a signal on their phones.
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I would love to go to London with you. We could use my frequent flyer miles.
Well, yes, I think they can be transferred.
You and who? You want to go to London on my miles but you don’t want to go with me?
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“I wish I could go back to that time in my life, the best of times, and live it all again.”
Her companion wheeled her chair closer. “Oh, when would that be?”
“I guess in my early 30s. When my children were young.”
“That was a happy time for me, too,” her friend said. “I was so madly in love with my children.”
“Yeah. Great grandkids just aren’t the same. I mean, I love them, but . . . ”
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The way she said the word “Goodbye” set off alarm bells for me. She sounded like she was saying goodbye forever. Was she thinking about suicide? That didn’t seem like her. Maybe she had an escape plan in mind. She was in danger – if she had a way to disappear safely that might be what she was up to. I decided to go over to her place to talk with her. I . . .
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I love to travel. Do you? It’s exciting to visit other places. I like to leave the desert and go somewhere green and wet. I like to try local food. I like to see oceans and mountains and forests and vast fields of corn and all the things I could never see at home. I like the tiny coffee shops and bakeries and internet cafes in strange places around the world. I’m ready to pack my suitcase right now.
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I like the tourist destinations just as much as the tourists. I like to drag around all over the state and visit the parks and famous restaurants and funky little ghost towns. But the balloon fiesta brings out the most people from everywhere. It’s so much fun. Every year. The balloons are beautiful. You should see it.
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