My Work

Short Stories


Here are some recently published (or to be published) short stories.

My other work:

MemoirPoetryOther Writings

 

A Woman of some Years

Alba Cuenca, a woman of some years, looks back on her life. Memories of self-doubt, rebellion, and a near death experience bring her to a state of grace.

Comments after reading of November 10, 2010

...Your story is subtle and nuanced and elegant. It seems flawless.

...Alba Cuenca...is you!!! And also all of us because you have recognized the universality of the "earnest and graceful beating of our small wings." I had tears at the end of your reading. Alba means dawn. A beginning? 

...I loved your story. Tasted the sofrito. Breathed in the jungle air. Felt the earthquakes and the life quakes. Envied the wild child.

Excerpts

A woman of some years, well beyond silver gray, Alba Cuenca is making her way on foot to the shopping plaza in Escazú, a small town not far from San José where she is spending her first retirement vacation. It's like playing hooky, she writes her colleague Ruth, just now beginning the spring semester in Buffalo. Alba misses the excitement of those first days of classes, the students all dressed up, new shoes, eye make-up, big earrings.

When it came to boyfriends, Alba was a little on the wild side. Her eccentric boyfriend Benito intended to own a barn where he would install a Blaupunkt sound system and play the Brandenburg Concertos for his horses. He wrote Alba a long letter once--she brought it to school for me to read--and had his family chauffeur deliver it at dinnertime right in front of her parents. For three typed pages, Benito discussed the nature of his love for Alba and more or less ordered her to adore him properly and walk with him through the narrow gate into a new level of loving. He quoted Gide, Verlaine, Rimbaud, Freud, and his Havana analyst, who had told him that the fact that she, Alba, played with Benito's Karmann Ghia's handbrake when they were out for a drive had phallic connotations. Phallic connotations. Besides, who were we to know Gide or the other one, Rimbaud? No one in Havana back then said the things Benito said. He bamboozled Alba, who, in spite of everything, was naive.

... Hours later, the tremors have stopped. Alba closes her eyes and sees a risen Alba at the earthquake ruins standing on a mound of rubble...

... She understands how short and yet how immeasurable the sum of a life is and how wrong it is to lament its brevity, for the brevity, like the silence in the amusement park after the season has ended, is part of its beauty.

Then silence, peace on earth, Alba at the kitchen table, the gift of grace sifting over her like fine golden flour.

 

 

A Strong Man

[A new story in the works]

Anita is a twelve year old school girl from Havana vacationing in her uncle's farm, Rancho Azul. In that enchanted rural world, she finds and loses paradise.

Excerpts

Here comes Anita Reyna one shoe on one shoe off, both crusted with red clay soil, running and jamming her feet into her shoes at the same time she's snapping the buttons of her green and tan plaid cowgirl shirt. She's out the door of the thatched roof farmhouse at Rancho Azul, hoping for the best.

Her Uncle Rodrigo, a Valentino look-alike whose jet black hair never did go gray, had been an avid fencer, rower, and skeet shooter. Now in his early fifties he is a man of many projects at Rancho Azul. Anita is his helper, no, more like his shadow. He's gruff with her, barks orders, go get me the hammer, go pick three lemons, run in and get some matches, calls her cachanchán, go-fer. Anita feels needed, perhaps indispensable. Who cares about the cachanchán moniker when he calls her to begin an adventure.

Penny-ante dominoes after dinner by the light of the Coleman lamp exhaling its whissssshhhhhh. It's as if we could hear the night breathing, Anita tells them, and they agree a little absentmindedly as if they were talking through a dream "uh-huh uh-huh, sí se-ño-ri-ta." A hummingbird sized June bug darts in the open doors, get it, get it, they yell at the Spaniel who knows enough not to go after the crusty devil. "¡Dominó, dominé!" "I have dominated at dominoes." Uncle Rodrigo slams down his last tile, gets up, goes for his gun, empties his Colt 45 into the night sky in case someone is lurking in the dark... Buenas noches.