I fly up the on-ramp like a thousand butterflies lifting from the earth. Merging, I hear honking. It sounds like an elephant trumpeting. I become a snake, slithering, scales glittering, into the next lane. I’m nosing the car in front of me, I need to get going. The driver is a three-toed sloth, raising his middle finger. Damned slowpoke. Hurry if you don’t want me stepping on your back feet.I spread my peacock tail, iridescent green with turquoise eyes bright with expectation. Make room for me! There’s not a minute to lose. With a graceful leap, I land in the fast lane. At last I can gallop, a gazelle, my blood warm and flowing fast, on my way to the airport to pick up my husband. He’s been in Antarctica for two months, sampling ice cores, measuring the warming of the globe. Climate change. Usually the words land on me like two bricks, but today they are just two crows flying alongside me. Nothing slows me down today. The truck in front of me, an armored rhinoceros, tries to slow me d…



Most people think I'm an angel. I am the one who will water all your plants, inside and out, while you're gone, or write you a character reference so glowing you can read it in the dark. I’ll bring you my special vegetable soup when you're sick, or drop by with brownies, just because. I even look like an angel, with my curly golden hair and a round face like a renaissance cherub.

I don’t like to make a big deal about it. I go by what they say in the Bible: “Beware of practicing your righteousness before men to be noticed by them; otherwise you have no reward with your Father who is in heaven.” If I feed your dog when you have to work late, I’ll just say, “Oh my gosh, I love little Lala! It really brightened my day to see her!” Or say I bring my neighbor some of my fresh-baked chocolate chip walnut cookies. She may try to tell me how sweet and thoughtful I am, but I’ll just say, “Oh no, I just love to bake, and if I ate it all myself my teeth w…



The adorable two-year-old was singing again. We all had to stop talking about our adult concerns — I happened to be talking with my sister Sheri about the politics of school funding, that being of interest because I’m a teacher, and she counsels people in prison who are generally poorly educated — and show our admiration, if not our veneration, of this precocious child. Not that she wasn’t cute. She made us all smile with her hugs and little stories about her stuffed animals and the way she said “babbit” instead of rabbit. It’s just that my husband Bill and I had moved on from the natural method of making babies through the tedious technical routes, and were now considering the nerve-racking and humiliating process of trying to adopt. So sometimes when little Angelica performed, I cried, but only in my sisters’ bedrooms, or my mom’s, if we were at her house. The mother of this little blessing, my sister-in-law Melanie, was as serene and self-confident as a summ…



I had thought things were going well. I’d made a chocolate matcha marble cake, worked on it all morning. The kids were splashing in the pool, and I was making small talk with Lawrence’s sister--my sister-in-law--Kelly. I’d known that Lawrence had a close family and it might take a while for them to accept me. In fact, I was talking to Kelly in hopes that I could somehow break through her mistrust of me, which she tried to hide, but which I could plainly see. Now, his mom was always kind to me, and I actually felt like his dad and I had a special bond. What I learned as I went along, though, was that Lawrence was actually the black sheep of the family. That is, if you can call being a successful corporate attorney with a beautiful home and a wife who--well, how do I say this without sounding vain? I am often embarrassed by people telling me how attractive I am--if you can call that a black sheep. To be honest, I just don’t think that’s happened too often to…


4. THE SURPRISE  (Kelly)
  I really did feel bad for Melanie. I didn’t understand why Larry, or Lawrence as she liked to call him, had married her, but they were happy, they had their little girl and another one on the way, so who am I, or anyone, to judge someone else’s marriage? Although I have a good moral compass, and am generous, considerate, and helpful to others, I’ve had a blind spot when it came to Melanie. Maybe I felt she’d stolen our brother from us; but the fact of the matter is, Larry had pushed himself away from us to the point where it seemed like he was in some kind of outer orbit, like Saturn or Uranus. Not all the way out to Neptune, but the distance was there and we had to accept it. If I’m honest, my sisters have gotten more comfortable with her. Of course, they have kids, the great glue that bonds all mothers. No matter how much free babysitting I do for them, I’ll never be in that club until I have one of my own. My dad loves Melanie, to the point where I’ve wond…


He had some questions. He wondered if there was an edge to the universe. He knew it was expanding, always expanding. But way far out there, was there an edge, that you could fall off of?
And what if the universe is just part of something even bigger? And all the stars were like grains of sand. Would its inhabitants be able to predict the future of earthlings, the way we can predict the behavior of atoms, when we split them?

Can the flapping of a butterfly wing on a beautiful summer day cause turbulence in a heart?
Does anyone know that there’s a star (called Sagittarius A star) dancing around a black hole in the center of our galaxy?
If a powerful flare flashed out of the sun and caused a current to run through the earth and all the lights on the earth were dimmed, would the rhythms and desires of women's bodies once again be ruled by the moon?

The tendency of an object to resist changes in its state of motion (inertia) varies with the mass (according to Newton.) Could a person make hi…


“When’s your last day?” the woman asked. “They’re giving me some time to wind things down. Get things tied up. Et cetera. Next week some time.” He drummed his fingers on the teak table, put his right ankle on his left knee and flicked his foot a few times. Took a sip of his bourbon and water. She’d never seen his face so tense, his limbs so jittery. “So what exactly did you say to this woman, this remark that got you canned?” “I swear, Meg, all I did was try to make her feel good by complimenting her outfit. I thought it would cheer her up.I knew she’d been struggling with some personal problems. I didn’t know what they were, I just overheard things in the coffee area. It wasn’t until they allowed her to ’confront’ me—he wiggled his fingers—that I found out that, I guess she felt her husband was being emotionally abusive. You might think that that would be an excuse for her being hypersensitive, that she might explain that. But that’s not how it went. She used it as an excuse to be angry…