penguinI have no idea what happens some weeks when we get together to post our two-minute two-steps on JD Mader’s website. On Friday, this happened. Eight-nine comments. Spectacular writing.

Here are three of my pieces. Lightly edited, for your protection. [Note: language some might find objectionable.]


Ethereal. He didn’t even know what the word meant, but when he saw the girl toss the club high into the air and twirl before catching it, it was the first word that floated into his mind, like cool water flowing over his heated skin the summers of his childhood. Her arms were smooth, limber, a bit of soft fabric swirled over her shoulders as she moved. Her hair streamed out behind her, strawberry taffy, and all over she had that appeal of a spun-gold confection. When she stopped and bowed, he told his body to move, intent on meeting her, at least learning the name of the beauty he couldn’t define except for that word. But he stood frozen to the cobblestones, unable to will himself forward, yet unable to leave.


He drove. Her hands trembled too much to trust her reactions behind the wheel. He slid glances at her, swallowed, fluttered with the radio, scowling at the misfits who called in to talk shit about their favorite teams. “We can still turn back.”

She shook her head. Not only would they lose the deposit, she had to do this. It was her gift to herself, if the tests came back the right way. It had been decided. And when she decided something, it stayed that way. Her father had taught her that, tough old coot, and she was dedicating this day to him.

“Jumping out of a fucking plane,” he muttered. “Your dad’s gonna come back from the grave and kick my ass.”

She sniffed. Wondering if they had a vest small enough to fit her. Wondering how a tiny set of clips, a relatively fragile set of nylon straps and metal, could hold two plummeting humans together. “You should be so lucky.”


“You brought the penguin?” He rolled his eyes and turned to the woman behind the counter, who looked like she’d rather be home eating ice cream out of the carton and watching some celebrity bullshit on TV. “Tell her.”

The nurse glanced up and shrugged. “We’re not responsible for personal effects.”

Tears welled up and spilled over. Personal effects. Like she was dead. The man searching her knapsack was being so rough with the little guy. Big hands pawing him like he was a grimy old T-shirt. She’d hoped the penguin would bring her comfort. But if someone stole him, it would crush her. Anyone looking would see a cheap little gift made in China, but she believed in Velveteen Rabbit stories. If she cuddled it enough and told it enough of her troubles, she could love it into existence. If only it worked on people.