She was proud of her family, the prestige it had achieved and maintained over several generations, each son and daughter upholding the honor of the family’s name by achieving success across a wide variety of fields — business, politics, a profession, the arts — accomplishment was as necessary to the family as food and shelter, and she accepted the burden of expectation with a sense of responsibility that was only matched in intensity by her eagerness to experience the success she felt was her birthright.

The Next To Last Vacation Day

There is a feeling of dread on the next to last vacation day, coming from a realization that the plans made at the start of the vacation are destined to fail, that this time of leisure (like all things) will not live up to expectations, and also that it’s too late now to salvage this time away.


He had an acne cyst at the top of his nose, between his eyebrows, which would routinely fill, then drain. Yet even when empty the cyst seemed engorged, a visible furuncle on his forehead.


The town prided itself on its tolerance, which it defined as liberty, the freedom to live as if the role of government was no more than a concept in sixth-grade social studies, to act like nobody was watching you and if they were then shame on them, to think however they pleased, even if those beliefs would, if put into application, would infringe upon other’s liberties in a manner not at all compatible with the tolerance everyone exhalted.


He felt trapped, programmed to behave morally with the knowledge that all his good will, all his charitable deeds, all his willingness to turn the other cheek was by definition dooming him to a life of frustrated ambition and second-place ribbons. And while he knew what he must do in order to achieve better success in life, namely to throw off the inhibitions that had been placed upon him during his schoolboy years, he knew he could not live that way, that any attempt to live that life would leave him feeling terrible about himself, would not allow him to sleep at night.


She looked at her phone, and he looked at his. She raised her eyes to look at him, and as he returned his gaze she looked at his phone. So he looked at hers. He thought of saying something about her phone, but being unable to think of any witty or interesting remark or any other comment which wouldn’t highlight the awkwardness of the moment, he looked down at his phone. And she looked at hers.


Other fencers on the team could match or exceed her skill with the foil, others had as much if not more experience, others were as fast or faster in their reflexes — yet nobody on the team could dispute she was the team’s leader.