Monday, March 25, 2013


            One of you will lie, he says, giving me advice the way big brothers are wont to do—his favorite phrase—are wont to—as in parents are wont to worry when their little girl. . .
I’m not a little girl!
When their little girl goes out with a man . .
A man? Joe’s . . .
A man 8 years older than she is, a bearded man who shows up in leathers and a Harley. . .
            A Honda.
            .  .  . motorcycle to meet them.
            He was wearing a helmet.
            But he only brought one as reckless men are wont to do.
            I have my own.
            You do? End of monologue. He’s staring at me, waiting for me to produce the helmet, no doubt, which I can’t do since we’re in his car on our way to Mom and Dad’s for Easter.
            It’s at home, I say, in my dorm. I just didn’t have it that day.
            Convenient explanation, he says. And your boy friend—emphasis on boy—is a man.
            Of course he’s right about that. I’d been going out with boys until Joe came along. Joe, tall, blond, handsome, just a hint of beard really. He keeps it trimmed.
            My brother starts again. One of you will lie. That’s all I mean to say. One of you will lie.
            I wonder if I’m the liar. We’re almost there—two more stoplights. We never make them both so I have a minute to decide: who will lie?
            I can’t tell her, I say at the first light. Omission isn’t really a lie.
            Liars are wont to say that, he says as the light changes.
            The second light is also red. I think he slowed down so we’d catch it. If I tell her, she’ll lie and say she’s so happy—a lie. . . . Which makes me tear up because my mother would lie to spare me, to make it a nice day for us all. If I lie, everybody will know I’m lying, but it won’t ruin the day, at least not publicly.

            We’re there. I’m out of the car, walking towards Mom in her slim green dress, smiling, arms out, noting my tights, the blousy tunic, the slight bulge.
            Oh, Darlings, she says, meaning us both. I’m so glad to see you. She looks at me, the usual up and down—and . . . and . . . I see you have something to tell us.
            I nod, and we both burst into tears, neither of us lying. My brother was wrong as he is wont to be, but I see him nod and smile—glad to be wrong for once in his life.

© 2013 Kathleen Coskran

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Final Resting Place

            He hid the scissors. The only explanation. They were never in the drawer or on the kitchen counter or even on his desk. She’d found them on the TV, under the bed, between two cushions on the sofa and, once, in the bathtub in an inch of water.
            “Put them away,” she said. “Put them in their final resting place.”
            “I don’t know where they go,” he said.
            “I’ll show you,” she said. “They go in the scissors’ drawer.” She knew he hated that answer, but she did it anyway. Where’s the masking tape?  he would say. In the masking tape drawer, she said.
            The wine puller?
            In the wine puller drawer.
            That little flashlight I bought last week?
            In the flashlight drawer.
            On and on.

            So, when she’d been looking for the scissors, any scissors, for twenty minutes, she confronted him.
            He straightened up from the workbench where he was clamping strips of wood he’d glued together—another model boat or airplane or helicopter to hang from the ceiling.
            “I don’t know,” he said. “Have you looked in the scissors’ drawer?”
            “Not there.”
            He shrugged, went back to tightening the tiny screw on the C clamp, a mockery of concentration.

            The first projectile—a wad of paper—missed him, but the wet rag she’d found on the floor hit him in the back of the neck.
            He didn’t turn to face her, but his big hand went to the cloth, caught it before it fell to the floor, and in one grand and graceful gesture he flung it back. She caught it, threw it, he ducked this time, so it slammed the peg board of tools, tangled in a row of screw drivers, and hung limply.
            He tightened the next clamp.
            “This is serious,” she said. “They’re really lost this time.”
            “The scissors.”
            “In their final resting place at last,” he said and crossed himself before going on to the next clamp.

© 2013 Kathleen Coskran