Essay published in The Threepenny Review, Spring 2016.
We meet a fat diamondback five minutes down the trail. He is stretched across the path, dozing in the shade of a juniper bush. I’m an adult, so I want to act like one, but I’m crying so hard I can’t inhale and snot is dribbling into my mouth. It takes me twenty minutes to inch past the viper, while his tongue whips the air. After that, I search out a long, heavy stick to thump on the ground and jostle the creosote scrub before passing. My husband, Kevin, and our two friends are sympathetic, but my pace is agonizingly slow, and they drift ahead. I hear them chattering, always around the next bend, while blood bangs through my head like a Taiko drum.
Read the complete essay online in The Threepenny Review.
Utne Reader – Spring 2015
Originally published in Tin House – Winter 2014
My parents meet on a blind date in 1976. Richard with his leather cowboy hat and hand-painted jean jacket, Meridy with her purple turban and kohled eyes. He reads her aura; she reads his tarot cards. The first time they make love he has an epileptic seizure during the night and urinates in her bed. Nothing is simple.
On their third date, he takes her to an Italian restaurant in the Castro, the kind of place where “That’s Amore” plays on an infinite loop. “There’s something important I have to tell you,” Rich says. “I am carrying a spirit-child with me, a little boy, and he’s ready to be born into the here and now.”
Most likely, Meridy doesn’t believe him. But there is delirious magic in his way of speaking. A few weeks later, he looks into her eyes after lovemaking and says, “There. Now you’re pregnant.” So she is.
Read the complete piece on Utne Reader.
A Strange Object Press — Covered W / Fur — March 31, 2015
“Descarga” – Oil on canvas – Meridy Volz
This cat Fritzel was odd. She wasn’t pretty like Angel or Bon Bon, and she wasn’t smart either. Just one of those weird, piebald cats with personality issues. Maybe I didn’t like this cat so much. But once you have a cat, you keep it until it dies. When Fritzel was a kitten, she charged face-first into my dad’s knobby middle knuckle and half-blinded herself, turning one eye opalescent. That didn’t help her looks.
Fritzel often napped in a spiral beneath my mom’s painting chair. Late one afternoon, turpentine sloshed out of its jar onto her back, and she licked herself dry. She did the strangest of death dances, cruised sideways and backwardsall around the house with her tail stick-straight, frothing at the mouth and gurgling and grunting. Which was the end of Fritzel. So I know what turpentine can do, though I’m still guessing about its flavor.
Turpentine smells like Coca-Cola stripped of sweetness, with a dash of fiery death, and it’s the pervasive scent of my youth.
Read the full microessay on Covered W / Fur.
Literary Orphans – “Ella” Issue – February 18, 2015
“Interpreter,” I announce, entering the examination room. “Sorry to keep you waiting.”
“Oh good, you’re here,” says Dr. Lichter, without looking up from the file in her lap. “We got through most of it, but find out what Mrs. Magaña wants to ask.”
I hang my purse on a hook beside the sharps disposal box. Mother and patient sit on folding chairs against the window, striped in sunlight leaking through the blinds.
“Cuál es su pregunta?” I ask her. Mrs. Magaña answers in Spanish and I transform her words into English, almost without thinking, without analyzing. I assume her voice and mannerisms. We speak in near unison.
Read the complete story on Literary Orphans.