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The Sun Magazine

Essays, Memoirs, & True Stories


Dale and I sit in opposite corners of the nearly empty McDonald’s where I come to grade freshman English themes — he by the front window and I in the back near the restrooms. Twenty years ago we worked together, but now Dale is homeless, and I pretend not to know him.

The Predator's Garden

Until I started a garden, I never considered deer predators simply because I did not consider plants prey. As a transplanted city dweller, I imagined that sighting a deer from my living-room window was the blessing of a rural lifestyle. Were I a nongardener, no doubt it would still be so. However, this ardent planter now gazes upon his front yard with an entirely different set of eyes.

Fathering The Night

Carrying the baby horizontally across my chest like a football usually calms him, and often puts him to sleep. But not tonight. He’s still crying, cycling through his whole repertoire: the screechy fear cry; the lower, throaty demand cry; the pitiable gasping interspersed with slobbery whimpers. Kapa nursed him an hour ago at midnight, so he isn’t hungry. Teething — always a suspect — doesn’t seem to be the problem tonight: he isn’t drooling much, nor is he clawing at his ears. I may give him a dropperful of Tylenol anyway, to help me relax.

My New Neighbors

A new couple has moved into the apartment next door to mine in this ancient Victorian. They are using the same bed as the previous couple, Nicole and Peter, whose dramatic lovemaking I would hear quite clearly as their headboard pounded my living-room wall. Sometimes I would hear Nicole moaning and feel comforted, although it was always hard to face them in the lobby afterward.


Dance Lessons

My parents were dancers. Though practical and predictable in all else, they let their passions surface in the rumba, the tango, the dances that conjured up exotic places and smoldering emotions. For my mother, it was a requirement that any husband of hers be light-footed and know how to lead. My father was the only man my mother had ever met who could do the cha-cha without counting under his breath.

Sleepwalking To My Sister

No one knows exactly when my sister disappeared. When I think of her now, a funnel, dark and deep, opens before me, echoing back her name: Victoria. When did I become too old to shout her name into the void and expect an answer?

The Window Seat

Despite his name, Himmelman was not a Jew — at least not as far as he knew; on the other hand, neither was he an antisemite. Not that he had ever thought about it, and he really didn’t now, except that the seat next to him was the only one left on the plane, and it was apparently reserved for the man whose chaotic approach amazed Himmelman, and whose bulbous features and skullcap clearly marked him as a Jew.

Readers Write


I was riding the express elevated train south into Chicago, watching the stops fly past and staring at the route map above the doors to avoid eye contact with any other passengers. Over the rush-hour din, I heard a man across the aisle telling the conductor that he had gotten on the wrong train. He was going to Loyola, but he had accidentally gotten on this express train, which wouldn’t stop again until twenty minutes south of Loyola. He chuckled and said that in his eighty-odd years, he had never taken the wrong train.

Personal Stories By Our Readers ▸


I never get lost because I don’t know where I’m going.

Zen master Ikkya

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