The Tractor

When I walk through our woods in northwestern Indiana, especially the barren woods at the end of winter, I see my eight-year-old self again, helping my grandfather clear out tree trunks during a three-week Easter vacation on my grandparents’ property in central Michigan. I grew up in Germany, and this visit to the States was the only time I spent with my grandfather before his death two years later.

Annette & Grandpa on Tractor (1971) 2

… I was hopping in my thicket, bursting for joy at that power play, cheering for the tractor and my grandfather to win against the brambles.”

In my hands I can feel the metal of the chain that my grandfather had slung around a tree stump, my palms getting hot against the chain links. I am straining against the weight of the stump behind me, pulling the chain, aiming for the hook at the rear of the tractor that my grandfather is backing up towards me. The engine drones. The tractor’s giant back wheels, deeply grooved and as tall as I am, scrunch up the brambles in front of me. The tractor inches towards me, and I inch towards it, and eventually I slip a chain link into the hook. My grandfather waves for me to step back, and I jump behind the stump into more brambles.

“Something could always come loose and snap back at you,” he had warned.

Indeed, a branch once snapped back at my husband’s shin when he moved a log that jammed the front loader of our tractor. Thankfully it didn’t hit his knee or it would have shattered it, but the resulting bruise and swelling had him hobbling for weeks.

Standing in my grandfather’s woods, I watched him shift the tractor out of reverse, and then sit twisted, his right hand clasping the steering wheel as he maneuvered it and turned to see what was going on behind him. The tractor strained against the weight of the stump. The tractor was stronger than I was, but the stump got caught in the brambles which clung with their thorns, their roots planted firmly in the ground. Spindly as they were, they had power. The tractor sputtered black wads of diesel fumes from its stovepipe exhaust. All the while I was hopping in my thicket, bursting for joy at that power play, cheering for the tractor and my grandfather to win against the brambles.

Eventually the stump bounced free of the brambles’ clutch, and I jumped out of the woods and onto my seat on the fender, and we roared to where we were assembling a woodpile for burning.

My grandparents’ property was so vast that I was astounded that even getting the mail was an undertaking coming, as I did, from a country where land is cut into compact parcels, the borders of which are always in sight. Here, I couldn’t tell where one property ended and someone else’s began. Neighbors were invisible, and only the lake beyond the hill beyond the pond was not entirely owned by my grandparents. Every day my grandfather and I rode out on the tractor, with me, bumping in my seat on the fender, grabbing the thin metal rod that served as a seat back to get the mail, to check on the property and decide what the day’s chores would be.

How many times we pulled logs out of the woods, I don’t remember. Sometimes I managed to hook the chain, sometimes I didn’t. Sometimes those fallen trees were simply too heavy, or the chain was too short, or my grandfather couldn’t get the tractor close enough.

I loved this kind of work; I loved being outside even if the weather was dank and the woods were muddy. I didn’t get hungry, and I didn’t get cold. I loved being able to do hard labor. I wanted to be out of the house, away from my grandmother and her religious babble. She was into the Rosicrucian Order at the time, and took every opportunity to slip a religious quote into everyday happenings. Rather tellingly, I remember none of them. Instead I remember that she let me peruse the kitchen cabinet where she kept my grandfather’s favorite cream-filled, chocolate glazed cookies, and during my visit she always restocked them so he wouldn’t realize that I was eating them.

My grandfather was not the cuddly type, and would yell at me, or worse, poke fun at me, because I wasn’t understanding something with my limited English and my ignorance of outdoor work. Up until then I had only pushed my parents’ lawn mower and clipped the grass around my mother’s flowerbeds. Nevertheless I remember that quiet rhythm of steady work, the jolty ride on the tractor’s fender, and the thrill of steering the tractor when he put me on his lap and how he let me hold the steering wheel on a straight part of the dirt driveway.

The tractor that my husband and I now own isn’t anything like my grandfather’s. It’s a green and yellow John Deere, not a gray and maroon Ford; it’s got an air-conditioned cab, not a plain butt-fitted seat. There is no seat on the fender, and maybe that’s why I don’t ride it. I have yet to learn how to operate it. For now, I am happy to direct my husband when he backs it up to attach the brush hog to mow the meadow or wave him to maneuver the front pinchers to pick up a pile of branches.

Lately, my husband and I have been splitting wood. A giant pile of logs, chain-sawed into chunks, has to be turned into firewood or it will rot. On a patch of open meadow, the tractor sits rumbling, its rear towards us. The wood splitter is attached to its rear three-point. My husband, in baggy overalls, heaves chunks of wood onto the metal hydraulic line, then presses down the lever to advance the blade towards the wood. As the cross-shaped blade meets the chunk’s round face, it either glides through the wood as if it were butter, cutting it into four neat logs that I, hovering, catch and throw into a big wire cage that we will later stack in the wood shed. Or the wood’s clingy fibers strain to keep to log together until they surrender to the blade’s unrelenting force and smaller logs pop off. Or the wood cracks open, bang! We both jump back as a large splinter flies off, either lunging towards my husband’s steel-toed boots or jumping towards my helmet and mesh-wire screened face.

In summer, we get sticky from the tractor’s diesel engine heat mixed with the humid air and all the wood particles we’re generating. Now and then we take off our helmets and work gloves, wipe our brows, take a swig from a water bottle, and survey our work. For us city dwellers, seeing the pile of wood grow is deeply satisfying.

In the evening, we return home sweaty and dusty. I love the feeling of fatigue in my limbs and the delicious sleep it brings. The next day a twinge in my upper back reminds me of an afternoon picking up freshly split logs and flinging them into a wire cage. But most importantly, the diesel fumes, the weight of the wood, and the rhythm of togetherness, the taking on and handing off, reconjures the memory of outdoor work best performed by two.

Annette Gendler is a writer and photographer in Chicago and can be visited at Her memoir, An Impossible Love, Revisited, is forthcoming from She Writes Press in spring 2017.

Another Guy’s Shoes

Taco Bell

Don’t ask why we were in Taco Bell. We never go to fast food joints, and when it comes to Mexican food, there are so many taquerias in our small California town that there’d be no reason to go to Taco Bell. But there we were at the Taco Bell on Center Street, sitting on metal chairs on the leafy patio, on a cool fall day, and this guy comes up to our table. Shifty-eyed, skinny, wearing saggy jeans, a faded Oakland A’s t-shirt, and royal blue athletic shoes, showy. Nikes I guess. They had that boomerang symbol on the sides. “Want to buy some shoes?” he asked us. I was confused. Why was he asking us? Were our shoes out of date? Mine were New Balance, comfortable, nothing fancy. I thought of them as a recent purchase, but that could mean five years old. My husband’s were whatever running shoes were on sale at Big Five.

The guy looked both ways and repeated his question.

“Hey, do you want to buy some shoes?” This time he lifted one foot and wagged it. “They’re brand new. I only put them on to walk here.”

They did look pretty new. He wasn’t carrying anything. It wasn’t clear what he was going to walk home in if we bought his shoes.

“Size 10,” he added.

“No, man. Thanks,” my husband said.

The guy nodded sadly, as if it was what he expected. He looked around for another customer, and then walked away, treading lightly, as if his feet weren’t quite touching the ground.

Jacqueline Doyle lives in the San Francisco Bay Area. Her flash has appeared in PANK, Monkeybicycle, Sweet, 100 Word Story, and Quarter after Eight, and is forthcoming in Post Road and The Pinch.

On Going Up

I don’t need to ask where we’re going. I trust this driver. I trust her sense of direction, and I don’t care about her driving abilities. I like careening around corners, springing up in the seat as the shocks bump over frost heaves. This is the north, and the roads take a beating. Logging trucks tear through woods, dripping pinesap and forest bark from row after row of harvested trees. And somewhere creeping along back roads, semi-trucks transport hidden waste from power plants. But I rest my head against the back seat window, happy to be seven years old, happy to let the music on the radio fuse in and out with the music I hum: a mix of elementary school rhyme, eighties pop, and classroom choir. I drift in and out of sleep. The repetitive thunk of small potholes wake me enough to see: yes, my sisters are still seated beside me; yes, my mother is still driving; yes, she knows the way; and yes, we’re taking that familiar road north, making the end-of-summer trip to the big lake.


water scientist

The repetitive thunk of small potholes wake me enough to see: yes, my sisters are still seated beside me; yes, my mother is still driving; yes, she knows the way; and yes, we’re taking that familiar road north, making the end-of-summer trip to the big lake.”

I’m only seven, but already a water scientist. Part of my study, the one study where I share data with my sisters, is to test warmth in different bodies of water. At home, not far from the state border that separates Michigan’s Upper Peninsula from the Northwoods of Wisconsin, we live near a lake, small and spring-fed. There aren’t any year-round homes, but a few cottages dot the perimeter. On the bigger lake, Superior, we go to the only natural beach we know, dip into waters icy as the Atlantic, or as cold as I imagine salty ocean water to be. At seven, I haven’t been to the ocean. This doesn’t bother me. Fewer people have visited Lake Superior than the beaches on the oceans. And this makes me proud, part of a special (is it corny to say Superior?) group. And now I am a tester. It is late summer, and the warmth of lake water must be compared, tested, and logged. I jump in the waves, holding hands with my fellow lake scientists, ages 12 and 14.

My skin is the most sensitive, so they hold me, dangling between their two different bodies — one stout, more muscular, the other lithe and stretching towards puberty, and me, frog-like, with sea anemone toes and fingers, the perfect water human thermometer. The waves reach one sister’s knees, the other’s thighs, and then me, stretched in between, crucifixion-like. When the waves come, I brace myself between the two sister posts, curl up my legs to my shoulders, so my bottom gets soaked and water snakes up my shoulder blades.

I scream. We all scream. And this is okay. It is part of our duty as a lake-water-warmth-tester scientists. How loud we yell is a measure of coldness or warmth. It’s a measure of surprise, and my sibling scientist team likes surprises.

We scramble in and out of the water. Reheat ourselves on the sun-toasted sand. Scrambling is a sibling scientific technique. When we test our own lake-water back home, there will be no sand, but there will be the dock: its wood planks warmed by the same sun.  We’ll scramble in and out of our small lake, too.

Our mother/driver says it’s time we travel down, time to return home (and I think time to finish water testing and jump immediately into your own small lake). We leave our suits on to save memory. We’ve all done this before, the summer before last and the summer before that.  We know (and relish) the feel of our own lake’s water after spending hours in Superior’s cold wet. Our lake will feel like bathwater, and we will love it even more.



We travel down, about one hour south from one lake country to the next. Our lake is named “Finger,” and this always makes me smile. It’s not so much like a finger as an entire fist in hang-loose formation. One of my older sisters showed this to me, molded my hand by pushing my three middle fingers down, my thumb and pinky out, said, Heeeeey, Coooool, in one cooing breath by my ear. My thumb is the small bay, and my pinky is where the lake curls around a marsh island. My sister tells me my hand makes the best lake model: my pinky is slim enough and has just the right amount of curve.

My sibling scientist team, in the second half of the study, runs into Finger Lake. Our swimsuits are still damp from Lake Superior. The water is so warm. We agree to pretend that the lake is our private heated swimming pool, because this is what wealthy must feel like. We’ve just returned from the cold ocean and are now enjoying laps in our own pool. No tourist has it so good. Our mother leaves us celebrating our scientific studies. She walks back up to the house.




We travel up to Lake Superior year after year, August after August. And each trip, we test water warmth. The years pass, I don’t record how many and I don’t remember the last exact year I traveled with my scientist team in full: sister, sister, mother/driver, and me, thermometer. Why is it my year of seven is the strongest of all the other memories? Was the day that perfect? Was one body of water perfectly chilly and the other perfectly warm? Maybe I don’t remember one specific day, but a mating of days. And maybe the waters are mixed as well: small, freshwater lake body mingles with the largest freshwater body of them all. And the wet of our swimsuits can only hold memories for just a few hours but long enough to cover traveling up or down.




A decade later, on the early spring morning my mother dies, I can’t find my older sister — the middle water scientist, the one with strong shoulders and tree-trunk legs. She is the closest to me in age and comfort. And she has left me and my other siblings. She climbed into her car and drove up. When she calls from the road, she says she’s ten minutes from Lake Superior. She gives a weather report: the air is unusually warm for so early in the morning, for so far in the north, for so early in the season. I tell her the air is the same where I am: warm, almost unbearably so. But no doubt the water is different. No doubt all waters are different.




A year after my mother’s death, I get ready to drive up to Lake Superior with my sisters. Before gathering our things for the day-trip north, we walk down to our own small lake. We carry our mother’s ashes in a modest urn, one not meant for show but for temporary travel. In an informal ceremony near the shore, we scatter ashes from the urn onto the leaves and bark beneath a pine tree. There is no breeze. The air isn’t stifling but is comfortably still.  When we tip the urn back upright, the remaining ash settles, makes a soft swishhhhhh within the half-full container.

On the drive north, the urn is held between my sisters and me, three of us sitting in the backseat. The car is full of siblings. We discuss the climate.

At the big lake, we release the rest of the ashes, not on the sandy shore, but directly into the curls of waves. The lake temperature is now, and will forever remain, so very different.

Michelle Menting’s poetry and prose can be found in many journals and magazines, as well as in the chapbooks Myth of Solitude and Residence Time.


Gas Shortage

It was 1973, and there were long lines at the gas station. The Yom Kippur war was the cause, although all I knew about that was the wait to fill my gas tank, which I needed to do frequently for my daily trips to the psychiatric hospital in Belmont, Massachusetts to visit my husband.


I thought that through sheer force of will and the power of good intention, I could save my husband from his personal demons.”

Jim had two breakdowns within a couple of months. The second one landed him in the hospital, which looked a bit like nearby Harvard, all brick Georgian buildings in a green and gold autumn landscape. I thought that through sheer force of will and the power of good intention, I could save my husband from his personal demons. The wait for gas became part of the struggle. I had to visit Jim every day and return him to who he had been, a Fulbright scholar and the Phi Beta Kappa who loved football and Friedrich Schiller, not the trembling man who had recently looked at a copy of Manet’s painting of a boy soldier playing the fife and read sinister meaning into it. “He’s going to die in battle and no one in his family will even know what’s happened to him.”

Those were the days when a psychiatric hospitalization was covered by insurance for 30 inpatient days. In one month, after the benefits were up, the patient would cue up magically to wellness and be released. I wanted to believe that. I did everything I could. I visited Jim faithfully, participated in family group, and saw the social worker who was assigned to me for the duration of Jim’s stay. Doris was a kind, older lady who’d been around the block many times with relatives of the mentally ill. I hated her. She tried to undo my conviction that I could cure Jim. “If you don’t take care of yourself,” she said, “you can’t care for anyone else.” I had to admit I felt like I was in combat. The hospital was my Golan Heights. The enemy was psychotic depression and I was a battle-fatigued wife who was just beginning to understand mental illness. When the nurse who was leading family group spoke to me with soft sympathy, I was undone. Armor penetrated, I sobbed in her arms.

Our marriage ended in divorce three years later, after a lot of therapy for us both, and a lot of wading hip-deep in guilt for me. No one thought to try to treat us as a couple, although that was the other broken part. The mental health system just looked at us like distinct atoms to be handled separately.

It took me several weeks to screw up the courage to tell Jim I was leaving. During those weeks I had an excruciating crick in my right shoulder muscle. I had told no one in our families what I was going to do, fearing their shocked disapproval. I could hear them saying, “You just don’t run out on your sick husband, or “ for better or worse, in sickness and in health.” I really wanted to have children and Jim had said he’d “cooperate” but couldn’t promise to actually raise kids with me. My shrink said, “You didn’t sign up for this.” Plus, Jim was back working but threatening to quit with the expectation I’d take care of him forever. It was time.

I sat Jim down in our kitchen and blurted it out. “I’m leaving.” The muscle spasm in my right shoulder disappeared instantly. I moved into a friend’s apartment in Cambridge while I looked for a permanent place of my own. I left behind almost everything I owned except my clothes. The pain of loss and guilt turned me into a fugitive. Later I would regret not taking photographs, family mementoes, and cherished books.

The aftermath of my leave-taking was complicated, and my social network divided into two camps. I was either the selfish spouse who couldn’t take the heat. Jim’s hard-boiled aunt said, “She thought it would all be beer and skittles.” She also commented on Jim’s depression. “He’ll just have to snap out of it.” Or I was the gutsy young woman who made a difficult decision and chose independence. My brother said, “You got the monkey off your back.” Although he’s the one who has stuck it out for 40 years with a mentally ill wife.

After a year of too much casual sex, too much alcohol, and leaving therapy too soon (all related, I’d say), I lost my job to Harvard’s system of treating librarians like faculty. You were promoted up or you were out and I was out. My experience with a husband who had a serious mental illness had led me to the next gate in my life. I wanted to understand this life-altering illness called depression and I wanted to capitalize on my talent for giving people advice, which had emerged in my work as a reference librarian. Stung by being fired, I also wanted to get myself a big fat credential. I took classes in psychology so I would have more to offer a graduate program and I sent applications to schools in the Midwest.

I became a psychologist. And I have made progress. I still have an attraction to the unhappy and anxious, but I don’t beat myself up for this. Even more important, I no longer believe I can cure anyone, including myself.

Jim? He went on to a life of under-employment, which in the United States, until Obamacare, was always accompanied by no or lousy medical insurance. His health deteriorated, his weight climbed up, and he smoked heavily. He was a writer and eked out a very modest living. He had at least one long-term relationship with a woman. He had several brief hospitalizations for his depression.

Jim died in 2001 of a heart attack while at work. He was 55 years old. A friend called to tell me and also told me that Jim had just started a new job and had a new girlfriend.

I happened to be visiting New England a few days after the call. It was a trip I had planned months earlier to attend May Arts Weekend at my son’s school. My flight arrived in Albany, New York, too early to go to the school, and I drove to the site of the Battle of Bennington, where in 1777 Americans prevailed over the British forces in the early days of our country’s war of independence.

It was the day of Jim’s funeral in Boston. I was completely alone in the state park that commemorated the battle site, in a green and gold New England spring morning, with a promise of the lushness summer would soon bring. Looking out over the mountains of southern New York into Vermont and Massachusetts, I said a prayer for Jim, who had lost his battle with the demons he carried within him. I said a prayer for me too, another casualty of the war.

Marie Davidson is a psychologist and writer in Glenview, Illinois.  She has had essays published by the JRC Press in From Oy to Joy  and From There to Here.


An Act of Charity

The summer my wife, Carrie, and I went on a road trip out west to Yellowstone Park, it was the first time we’d ever traveled so far in a car for a vacation. We drove over four thousand miles, round trip, from Maine by way of a Triple A Trip Ticket that had our route highlighted so we wouldn’t get off track.

Carrie’s sister, Millie, was going to feed the cat and collect the papers and mail, so there wasn’t anything to fret about when we were away. She’d water the couple of plants we had, too.

camera final

It was so brown, flat and empty that we hadn’t imagined such a place ever existed, except maybe on the moon.”

We were into our third day on the road, somewhere in western Nebraska. It was so brown, flat, and empty that we hadn’t imagined such a place ever existed, except maybe on the moon. Carrie kept asking where the trees were and saying the only time she ever saw so far was when she was looking straight up to the heavens. She was right about that. You could actually see the curve of the earth, because there wasn’t anything to block the horizon no matter which way you looked.

The wide-open spaces kind of appealed to me though. Filled me with some kind of awe, you could say. But Carrie wasn’t of a like mind on that score. She thought it was way too desolate and it put her off some.

“Where would your friends or family be out here? People can’t live in such a place,” she said, but then I pointed out a house sitting way off from the highway.

“Somebody does,” I remarked, and Carrie just shrugged her shoulders, saying, “Not me . . . never.”

We pulled into to a rest area to stretch our legs and relieve ourselves, and we saw this old car off to the side with its doors wide open. Three kids were running around like they were playing tag and a man and a woman we figured to be their parents were standing there just looking kind of lost. We parked across from them, and the woman gave us a friendly wave.

We were about to head into the facility when the man asked if he could have a word with us. We turned and walked over to where they were parked. The kids stopped their chasing about and stared at us as if we’d just magically appeared out of thin air.

“Thank you, sir,” said the man, extending his hand to shake.

He couldn’t have been more than 25, and the woman with him looked even younger. Both had this haggard and wary expression on their faces that gave me the impression that life had not been too easy for them.

“My name’s Josh and this is my wife, Carmen. We’re in kind of a bind. We ran out of cash on our way home to Laramie and only have enough gas for a few more miles. We thought we were fine, but underestimated what we’d need to get back home. Kids haven’t eaten since yesterday, too.”

Here the young man took a deep breath that looked to pain him and slowly continued.

“Would it be possible to get a small loan from you? Enough to get us on our way and get the kids a little something to munch on? We’ll pay you back as soon as we get home. Just give us your address. You can trust us. This has never happened to us before. Had to get to Kansas City for my mom’s funeral, so we took off from Laramie half prepared.”

My wife gave me a quizzical look, but I could tell that she was feeling sorry for the couple and their brood. They looked like decent enough people to me, so I asked how much they needed. When I looked around, I saw that their kids had resumed their playing near our car.

“Thank you, sir. I figure $20 for gas will get us home. If you have another $10 for the kids to get something to put in their bellies, that would be great.”

I gave my wife a glance and could tell she was okay with giving them the money. As soon as I reached for my wallet, the woman grabbed my wife’s hand and thanked her profusely.

“Please give us your address, so we can mail it right back to you, ma’am,” she said.

“No . . . that’s okay. Don’t worry about it. Glad to help,” I said.

“Oh, please let us pay you back,” insisted the woman.

“We’ll get paid back some other way, dear. A good deed always has its rewards,” said Carrie.

“That is tremendously Christian of you,” said the man, tucking the bills into his pocket.

“Well, good luck to you and your family,” I said, taking Carrie by the hand and moving us in the direction of the restroom.

When we returned to our car, there was no sight of the family we’d run into in the parking area. My wife and I sat for a while thinking about the poor folks we’d helped and feeling pretty good about our act of charity.

“It was the right thing to do, honey,” said Carrie, squeezing my arm affectionately.

“Yes,” I said. “It was the only decent thing to do.”

That night we reached Guernsey, Wyoming, where we planned to stay on the last major leg of our west-bound road trip. When we gathered our things to take into the motel room, we discovered that Carrie’s camera was missing.

“Did we leave it back where we stayed in Lincoln?” asked my wife.

“No. I think we contributed more than $30 to those folks back at the rest stop,” I answered, thinking of the kids playing around our car while we talked with their parents.

“No . . . really? You think those kids stole it. Well, I can’t . . .”

“Hate to think that . . . but, yes, I’m convinced they did. I know your camera was in the back seat.”

“Oh, that’s just so awful! Can’t imagine anyone putting their children up to stealing from people. What’ll we do?”

“Nothing we can do. We don’t have their address. All we know is that they were going to Laramie . . . if, in fact, they were.”

“We should call the police.”

“And what would we tell them? We don’t even know their names.”

On our return home, we stopped at the same roadside rest area where we’d had our bad experience. Just for the heck of it I asked the attendant if she remembered seeing the couple we’d run into. She gave us a surprised expression and then lifted a bag from behind the counter.

“You the people who left this behind?” asked the woman, removing Carrie’s camera from a sack.

We were more than a little stunned, to say the least. “Yes, it’s ours. But how . . .?”

“A young couple said they found it in the parking lot and hoped you might come back and get it. And, Lord almighty, here you are. Isn’t that just the darnedest thing?”

“Did they say anything else?”

“Not at that time, but they came back a few days later and told me to put this envelope in the bag with the camera.”

We thanked the attendant and returned to our car. But we were in shock. There I opened the envelope and found a piece of paper with handwriting on it and three 10 dollar bills.

The note read as follows:

Our oldest child has a problem with taking things that don’t belong to him.
When we got back home, we found your camera, and he confessed to stealing
it from your car. We feel so bad and hope you come back to that rest stop so
you can get your valuable. We’re still not sure what to do with our child’s problem,
but we hope returning your camera shows him how to right a very
bad wrong. We may have to tie him up in the basement until the devil is out
of him. Bless you and thank you for your kindness. God be with you always.


“Oh Lord, they wouldn’t do that to their child, would they? That would be so cruel.”

“No . . . I doubt it. They’re probably just joking about tying him up.”

“Well, they didn’t strike me as the joking type. We have to try to get in touch with them.”

“There’s no way we can find them, honey. There’s no address on this envelope.”

“Maybe they left it with the attendant. Let’s go ask.”

We checked back with the lady in the rest stop, but she said the young couple hardly spoke a word when they dropped off the camera and, later, the envelope.

Carrie was so upset at the possibility that a child might be abused on her account that she even suggested we go toward Laramie and try to track down the family.But I convinced her that it would be like looking for a needle in a haystack without having their names, and we continued on home to Maine.

Since that trip a few years ago, we’ve pretty much put the whole thing out of our minds. But every so often it comes up in conversation – and we start worrying about that kid all over again.

Michael C. Keith is the author of eleven story collections, a critically praised memoir, and two-dozen non-fiction books. Find out more at