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The Sun Magazine

Essays, Memoirs, & True Stories

A Night On The Beach

To celebrate the arrival of the new year, Grace and I went to the south coast with our friend Pete. We stayed only a short walk from the beach, in a house that belonged to Andrew, a fellow Peace Corps volunteer who had flown home for the holidays. It was a one-room wood-and-thatch structure with a hammock and seven surfboards, a couple of them split in the middle and repaired with duct tape. When we arrived, stinking from the long bus ride, Grace and I took turns bathing in buckets of well water, naked behind towels that we held up for each other.

Ghost Triangle

That winter, after Betse and I discovered we were infertile, I became fascinated by pearls. My passion for them resembled an addiction, though I hesitate to call it that. There was a ritual aspect to it, a heady anticipation, an urgency I didn’t always understand.


One night when I was sixteen, my father got out of bed, went into the living room, and fell to the floor. He was a big man, and from my own bed I heard the noise and felt the house shake and heard my mother call out, “Roy! Roy! My word!”

The Distance

It is summer, lovely summer, and I am sitting beside my son, Josh, on the couch grabbing a bit of leisure between gardening and everything else. He is wearing shorts, and I touch the large scar on his left leg and say, “It’s healed so well,” remembering when the wound was a crater almost the size of my palm. “It has,” he says, running his fingers over its shiny surface. “Did I ever tell you,” he asks, “that when the doctor in Lima was cleaning it out, after he gave me a spinal — did I ever tell you I had a spinal?”


I was a daily drinker, a frequent opium user, and a bona fide cocaine addict. I was a devotee of Demerol and a dabbler in Darvocet. I was a Percodan-pursuing, Seconal-seeking, codeine-consuming, 100 percent, fully certifiable, equal-opportunity substance abuser. But it was the tranquilizers that got me through the day. A lonely visitor to an alien and hostile planet, I needed those little blue pills. They were my lifeline, the atmosphere from which I dared not emerge lest my blood boil and my lungs explode. I was forever pouring them out of the bottle to fondle them and look at them. I would spread them out and count them, arrange them and pile them, many little piles and then a few big ones. I would finger them and feel them, snort them and chew them. I did everything but fuck them. Without them I was lost; with them I could carve out a little space for myself, a little breathing room.


The Mayfly Glimmer Before Last Call

Jackie was nineteen, a cocktail waitress in Niagara Falls, New York. She worked in a bar on the other side of town and would come into our place with the other waitresses after her shift was up. Jackie was something else, the way she shook her hair. She had a face that you immediately liked and wanted to examine closely and maybe figure out what it was that made it so nice. I’d invariably flub her order, come up a drink short, forget to put amaretto in her slammer, grenadine in her sunrise. I failed her because I wanted to please her. She tipped me anyway — she made her living on tips, couldn’t not tip me — but tipped me with disdain, as if I were a leper on a pleasure cruise hanging out by the shuffleboard courts selling fake Hawaiian jewelry.

Stories By Sparrow

I got a job in a library. Every day I stole a book. By the end of 10 years, every book in the library was in my apartment.


We never did cocaine on weekdays, only on weekends, and Dave always made us stop by eight o’clock on Sunday, right after Sixty Minutes, because otherwise he was a mess at work the next day. One Sunday, we didn’t stop until two in the morning, just before the last guests left. The minute they drove out of sight, Dave turned from the door and threw a punch that landed on the side of my mouth and slid down along my chin. It wasn’t the first punch he’d ever thrown, but because I hadn’t been expecting it, it probably hit the hardest. He said it was my fault the guests hadn’t gone home earlier, that I had tried to keep them there, just to annoy him. Then he went off to take a shower. I called Howard.

Readers Write

Last Chance

It was New Year’s Eve, and my spry, healthy, eighty-eight-year-old grandpa had been left rather loosely in my care while my parents were out of town. Grandpa lived alone and, in reality, took care of himself, though I was on call should something go wrong.

Personal Stories By Our Readers ▸


That which you worship is the first thought that comes to your mind when you are suffering anxiety.

Ibn ’Abbad of Ronda

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