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The Sun Magazine

Essays, Memoirs, & True Stories

Plain And Simple: A Journey To The Amish

In the summer of 1967, Sue Bender saw Amish quilts for the first time, and found herself mesmerized standing before them. She was taken with their austere beauty; she became obsessed with them. The following Autumn she joined a quilting class and began to spend hours in her studio (where she worked predominanatly with clay) making quilt patches and moving them around to form various patterns. Whenever she could, she would go where Amish quilts were displayed. She wasn’t looking to buy, only to feel the calm they conjured in her, to ask herself the questions they evoked about the people who made them: what were they like? How did they live?

Three Friends

The past year has not been easy for our family and our neighborhood. In September, my wife’s cousin and close friend was found dead on her living room sofa. A month later, another close friend suffered a heart attack and died on the way to the hospital. A month after that, in the early morning of the Sunday before Thanksgiving, our next-door neighbor died of cancer. None of these was a timely death, if there is such a thing: all three were in their mid-forties, in the middle of careers, marriage, and parenthood. Three good people died in the middle of their lives and through no fault of their own, and I find myself asking why they died, and discovering that the answers that used to comfort me are suddenly out of date.

The Man In The Mirror

0n the best of days, it’s a little like falling in love; like opening a stuck window inside yourself; like taking a drug — one that’s perfectly legal, dispensed by your own apothecary, your strange and marvelous brain. I don’t understand it. I just know I blaze more brightly, my senses keen, my mind and body in communion. Running, I’m a boy again, bolting out the classroom door — not a man behind a desk, a weight upon the world.

Fiction

Harper Screamed Again

Harper lost the Wheeler account. He felt it slip through his fingers like something warm and sticky, making a mess of everything. He spent the rest of the morning in Johnstone’s office, staring at the burgundy carpet as his boss leaned a finger into Harper’s face and raged.

Elmer Slow Bear

Elmer Slow Bear was the handyman at Anderson Ranch orphanage. He was a huge, slow giant of a man, who almost never talked. In someone smaller, Elmer Slow Bear’s stolid, enduring, imperturbable silence in the face of all events might well have been taken as patience, as meekness and humility — as Christian virtue. In a man of his size and complexion, however, many found the reserve unnerving. Mr. Cody, the history teacher, referred to him in private — with more than slightly nervous humor — as “My Bad Conscience.” Also, as “Doom.” Most people called him Elmer, and stayed out of his way.

Letting The Cat Out

Peter sprawls across the floor of my living room, which is also my kitchen and dining room, and talks to me about my life. He smells like alcohol swallowed too fast. The cat is under the coffee table, eyeing him with distaste.

Readers Write

Escapes

My memory of that night twenty-five years ago remains vivid. I was eighteen, on my way to a dance with my friends. We were street-smart and tough, filled with the kind of macho bravado characteristic of city-bred adolescent boys. A dance meant excitement — girls we had not met or encounters with rival groups. As the night progressed, the dance seemed similar to a score of others we had attended. We danced, tried to impress girls, and slipped out occasionally to sneak a beer. Toward the end of the evening, a friend of mine named Billy exchanged angry words with a boy we didn’t know. The police at the dance broke up the conflict before it grew into a fight.

Personal Stories By Our Readers ▸
Quotations

Sunbeams

As for conforming outwardly, and living your own life inwardly, I don’t think much of that.

Henry David Thoreau
Excursions

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