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The Sun Magazine

Essays, Memoirs, & True Stories

A Woman's Place

When my mother claims that “my own kind has betrayed me,” she means women, generally, and me, specifically. Between us yawns a gap not just of a generation but of a social revolution. My mother was content to be a housewife; I — computer literate, liberal-to-left, educated — celebrate the achievements women have made during my lifetime and believe in the flexibility and potential of feminist politics. In my mother’s eyes, however, feminism has, at best, abandoned her; at worst, it has actively hunted her down.

Bitter Lessons

What's Wrong With American Teachers

Last week I picked up the Poughkeepsie Journal in a luncheonette near Vassar. Over coffee I started to read a piece by an actor titled “The Actor’s Mind.” Fine, I thought, tell me something about acting. But here is how the thing opened: “As a young man in high school facing my future I only knew one career I didn’t want. And that was a schoolteacher’s.”

Christmas In Seattle

The phone rang, echoing down the long hallway. I froze, listening. It stopped in the middle of the third ring, and a few seconds later I heard heavy footsteps coming my way. I sat up and swung my legs over the side of the bed, the springs and frame squeaking loudly. I stared at the scarred door. Feet scraped to a stop just outside it. Then there were three loud knocks, and a deep male voice demanded, “Are you Fred Hill?”

Homework

Our decision to educate our children at home grew out of circumstance as much as ideology. We lived a long way from the school, and the bus wandered many miles to pick up all the rural children. Getting to school, going to class, and getting home again would have taken our children twelve hours. We weren’t willing to commit them to that long a day.

Bigger Than Words

What does it mean to love the earth, to love it in its unglamorous particulars, to get close to the sweet stink of our decay, the armpit of the world and its asshole? The planet isn’t real for me. It’s too big, too abstract. What’s real is the street I live on, the sky outside my window, the middle-aged man in the mirror still fighting a battle over whether to eat one more cookie.

Fiction

Angel Of Lamentations

If he stood without slouching, Nikos’s eyes were level with the average person’s hip bone. He had long arms and large feet, and all his toes were the same size. His right foot was splayed so that if he were walking north it would point northeast. This was useful when he got lost in snow or mud because it enabled his companion, Sylvie, to track him down.

Go Fish

I have an all-right singing voice; it can be quite good, but that’s kind of rare. I get shy and that turns it all around and I go way off-key. I don’t know what I was doing, but I took this job delivering a singing telegram to a group of old women who were playing cards by an outdoor pool. They had about fifty decks stacked up with rubber bands around them, some of them double, and triple-wrapped. There were about thirty cards at the bottom of the pool on account of the tremendous wind and their inattention.

Oh, Anthony

She squints into the afternoon sun to avoid the cop’s eyes as he leans against the open screen door. “All right, Maria,” he says, squaring his shoulders and digging into his pockets like all the cops she’s seen on TV. In New York this dope couldn’t be a crossing guard. He doesn’t even have the sense to keep one hand free to go for his gun in case of an emergency. “We’ve got your brother down at the station again. He was over at the Safeway on Dunklin this morning, walking up and down the rows, opening packages and eating the merchandise right then and there. Didn’t have a cent on him. You folks are going to have to keep an eye on that boy. Who takes care of him?” he asks, peering over her head into the cluttered living room.

Your Own People

I dream that I am trying to call home from an underwater phone booth. l dial, then hold my lips tightly closed and listen to my father asking, “What? Who’s there ?” When I open my eyes to the achingly bright sunlight, I am still holding my breath.

Readers Write

The Kitchen

In the sixties, when I was six or seven, Dad worked at night by candle, light to paint a picture of our cabin, which he’d built by hand using a team of horses and mechanical tools. He didn’t paint people, just the corner you could call our kitchen — the logs in the fireplace luminous with orange and yellow flickerings and shadowed in deep blues, the old wood-burning range an altar of black granite and glinting nickel. Even the crude washstand piled with dishes, pans, and homemade wooden bowls and spoons became profound in Dad’s painting. The broad colors he used to streak the oval mirror looked to me like something grand and unknowable — perhaps falling stars reflected from the window.

Personal Stories By Our Readers ▸
Quotations

Sunbeams

Christmas reminds us that it is not enough to bring God into
our hearts. When God comes, God never comes alone. Jesus
asks us to take in his strange friends, his dispossessed and
uprooted children, his unpopular causes and projects.

Doris Donnelly

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