From the story Angelfish

As in:

Marjorie’s breakfast this morning is the chalky icing on a store-bought powdered donut. She’s put two fingers through the hole and is scrolling slowly forward with her tongue. She does this leaning out over a paper plate, so that the little avalanches of unloosed powdered sugar do not tumble down the front of her blouse.

Because I am her brother, and because the quality of brotherhood I aspire to involves a certain duty to  inject brotherly advice, I wonder aloud about the nutritional merit of powdered donut icing. I then try to warn about the three large mugs of coffee she’d guzzled and whether some preemptive relief might be in order.

“I’m ready,” she insists.

On the road, approaching a rest stop I ask, “do we need to pull off?”


Seven miles later we are parked on the shoulder somewhere beyond Waitsburg, and she is over the bank, finding a way.

I would like to yell “snake” but we are older now. At least I am older. Marjorie is Marjorie without regard for chronology. Our Grandma Beth was among the few who professed to understand Marjorie and I do not recall her ever demanding that Marjorie act her age. It just wasn’t a meaningful point of reference. Still isn’t.

I am thinking about my blood pressure when she comes back into view, her flannel overshirt pulled down and tied at the waist. She stumbles a bit at the top of the sandy bank and so I start over to break her fall. She ignores me and, like a surfer slicing into the face of a wave, she slides on the soles of her sneakers back down to the shoulder of the highway.

Next segment, Permeated.

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