The fourth is magic
While I was dancing, another grad student said, “I know someone who dances just like you.” I said, “No one dances like me.” Besides, I was chasing after women. But the next semester, when I saw Steve, a decidedly student in a turtleneck, my whole body shook with wild interest. Later, when I saw him dancing, I was offended: “I don’t dance like that!” But funny enough, my dancing that night caught his interest. Within four months of meeting, she proposed marriage on July 4th weekend. Four months later, he said yes. Now, long married, we still dance, somewhat alike. – Michel Maude
Don’t cry for me
My mother said, “I hate when people cry at funerals.” “When should they cry?” I asked. You looked at me like I was crazy. I knew her answer: never. But she wept, when she thought no one was looking, for my dead father, the love of her life, and for my lost brother in the streets. I threw her a party when she passed away. She would love it. Some mourners shed tears even though I wrote “Don’t cry!” On the cake, prop a stern little photo of her in blue icing. – Susan Parker
I remember my mother who brought you to our apartment in Moscow, a little life wrapped in a white blanket. We shared bunk beds for years. You threw yourself on the floor, tantrum—your grandmother wanted you to take your summer reading seriously. We both long for our absent fathers. You have often expressed yourself so fully, and I envied your courage. She played the good girl: disciplined, hurt, discouraged. I got too far. We parted. Until I discovered our old photos, and mailed them on my birthday. And here we are: my hand is firmly on my little sister’s shoulder. – Gloria Novikova
see the light?
My child prays every night for Dad: “Help Papa get rid of the oxygen.” Prior to Baba’s Covid-19 admission to the hospital, my son was admitted with pneumonia. Only 2 knows the pricking of needles, the network of tubes, and the tickling of plastic in the nostrils. He said to Baba sympathetically, “This is your nose itching.” On July 4th, we avoided crowded fireworks displays to watch amateur performances from the porch of my parents’ cottage in West Virginia. The sun set, bats swooped in, and the sky exploded with color. My son and dad held each other while marveling at the light in the darkness. – Anna Rollins