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The Sun Magazine

Essays, Memoirs, & True Stories

Luck Disguised As Ordinary Life

My fortieth birthday was approaching like a tidal wave. I was single, childless, and questioning my life as a performance artist with a cult following but no steady income. I lacked the requisite evidence of adulthood: a couch, a dining-room table, a matched set of dishes, a color television. Although I tried to convince myself that this was because I had recently separated from a lover who owned nearly all of the furniture and electronic devices I had used for seven years, I knew the real problem was that I’d dedicated my life to my work and I wasn’t getting famous fast enough. There were no book contracts, no movie deals, no television appearances coming my way. I needed help, a map to guide me through the midlife moonscape of defeat.

We Don’t Know What It Is

It’s Saturday afternoon, and G. is napping on the couch while the same two CDs play soft salsa over and over. She’s got her teddy-bear blanket pulled up around her face, her bare feet sticking out; they don’t get cold, though, because she’s got no sensation in them. It astonishes me how soundly she sleeps. I can stand right next to her, looking down at her with so much love that I’m sure its headlamp beam will wake her, but — nothing.

Living for Swans

A man and a woman sweep the dust from the treeless main street of Wisdom, Montana. At first this seems a foolish task — one for those with too much time on their hands and an unhealthy craving for tidiness. But if the dust were allowed to settle, this tiny outpost would resemble a ghost town. The couple push the dust west toward Idaho; the wind picks it up and deposits it right back at their feet. But I sense progress somehow. And dignity.

Fiction

The Eye Man

The eye man came to town with a group of doctors and nurses who carried suitcases filled with medicine and Bibles. They were accompanied by a troupe of boys and girls who dressed up like daisies and frogs and sang religious songs in English. The eye man wasn’t a doctor himself. And neither the doctors and nurses nor the boys and girls who dressed up like daisies and frogs knew, or would tell me, what he was. He was simply “the eye man.” He made eyes.

Bird

On a hot summer day when my brother was eight months old, my father carried him to the top step of the back porch, lifted him over his head, and tossed him into the weeds. Benny wasn’t hurt badly, considering: his left wrist and elbow were broken, his shoulder was dislocated, and he had a serious concussion. My father took him to the hospital and sat up with him all night. We didn’t find out until about six months later that, besides the broken bones, Benny was deaf.

The Empty House Of My Brokenhearted Father

It was 4 A.M. and I was walking home from the bar with another man’s wife. I’d been in love with her since she was a little girl, but my good friend had snapped her up very young. I never had a chance. They’d been married ten years, had two boys, and were settled in a house in the town where I grew up. Her husband worked long hours, swam Olympic laps of beer. I’d been traveling, hadn’t seen her in a long time. My parents had just separated, abruptly and disastrously, and I’d taken my father’s side. My mother had left him for another man.

New Courses

Most of us twiddled our thumbs in childhood — that is, interlaced our fingers and rotated our thumbs around each other — unconscious of our participation in an ancient practice dating back centuries within the Zoroastrian, Buddhist, and Sufi traditions. Khalil Patuknon, fourth-order Sufi and Confucian adept, will instruct in the proper method of twiddling, based on his twelve-year retreat in the Khartoum Mountains.

Visions

Sheila says the truckers yell awful things, things would make me turn red as a beet if I heard, but I never hear. Sheila says sometimes they even punch me a little, but I just write faster. I don’t know. I never remember anything that happens once my Talent grabs hold.

Readers Write

The Impossible

She convinced us that eating the end of a pickle would kill us, that we could drown in a teacup, and that a glass of water on the night stand would make us fall out of bed to our deaths, its jagged shards cutting our soft necks.

Personal Stories By Our Readers ▸
Quotations

Sunbeams

“Writing is the only profession where no one considers you ridiculous if you earn no money.”

Jules Renard

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