Short Stories

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Short Stories 2017-12-28T14:58:26+00:00

Calabasitas

By Chas McNamara Riding the train back to my hometown, I’m holding a photo of my friends and me with my uncle Mando standing behind us. How carefree we were back then, close-knit and full of love for one another. Mando is happy and bursting with life in the photo. This is how I want to remember him. I’ll place this photo on the altar at his grave for our Day of the Dead picnic. In August he succumbed to old age and the unmerciful heat of the Chihuahuan Desert. He was seventy. November third will be the first Dia De Los Muertos when my family will remember and honor his spirit. The celebration of his life has drawn me back to the place I grew up wanting to leave. I hold the photo to my chest, watching the desert streak by, recalling how I dreaded becoming a copper miner like everyone else and how I wanted to escape the desert heat. It was intolerable. After high school I left Arizona hopping freight trains heading east toward Las Cruces, working in fields and sleeping outdoors. I ended up in Santa Fe working as a waiter. It’s been eight years. When [...]

By | October 6th, 2018|0 Comments

The Scent of Balsam

By Charles McNamara The aging woodsman hunted every inch of his cramped log cabin searching for his journal. Am I losing my mind? He moved boxes of cornmeal, rice, tea, coffee, flour, and salt sitting on a shelf above a handmade table. It wasn’t there. Winchester shells sat under the window. Next to them were playing cards, toothpicks, and a yellowed box of Alpar Toothache Drops. The slogan on the box read “To Quiet the Pain.” The journal had fallen under the window. Clutching the journal to his chest, he sighed with relief. It was a record of his thoughts and observations for the past twenty years since he’d moved into the North Woods to be alone. Laurent Bouyea sat on a rough-hewn bench outside his cabin. He opened the thick leather-bound journal across his lap and began to record his thoughts. Bound in tanned deer hide, it was cracked with age. The book smelled faintly of pipe tobacco. The pages were brittle. What remained of the original stitching barely held it together. He put on his wire-rimmed spectacles so he could see the words that appeared and disappeared as his eyes flitted across the pages. I’m getting older [...]

By | December 28th, 2017|0 Comments

The Hedge School

by Charles McNamara   Sean McNally could feel the dew begin to settle on the land like the hunger of Ireland. Hunger made him fight to embrace every good thing in his life so pain and emptiness would not force him to crumble in despair. Chestnut brown hair stuck out from under his tweed flat cap. His eyes and mouth were tightly drawn from contending with hopelessness. He was nineteen. The rutted dirt lane leading from his parents' tumbledown cottage meandered between endless stone walls dividing the tenant plots. Sean climbed over a wall into the wet grass and walked toward the stoic arch of a Celtic church abandoned hundreds of years ago. Summer vines hugged the arch as if to comfort the aging stones. Sean climbed the arch and settled in to watch for the British. One at a time, thirteen children appeared beneath him pushing, through the hedgerow into their ring of stone seats at the clandestine school. The hedge master, Aiden Gallagher, hugged each of the children. Four were Sean's age, six were around twelve and three were barely nine years old. He was the local scribe, historian, poet, and Bible study teacher, feeding his eager pupils [...]

By | December 4th, 2017|0 Comments

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