Durham Skate Park

But in the end, I always came back to Durham, a city that fit me like an old leather jacket, edgy enough that I didn’t feel embarrassed to call it my own, but small enough that I felt safe there, even with my father breathing down my neck about getting a real education.

TC's of Durham

A woman in red underwear and one of human Bill’s undershirts was sitting on the couch, looking back and forth between Regina and the parrot. “Hi,” Regina said, and she suddenly had the overwhelming urge to paint a pomegranate. Maybe it was the smell of sex in the air, or the thrill of finally letting go of something that had been haunting her. The sweet sourness of it all.

Home Depot #3620

I questioned all of Elise’s preschool teachers and the parents of her toddler friends. No one knew a Cindy. I wanted to be as nonchalant about Cindy’s apparent non-existence as my daughter was about finding God way deep down in the mud, but I didn’t have it in me. Cindy was creepy. She made Elise creepy.

Accordion Club

In my dream my face is always the same. My face only knows how to smile. In the dream  my face wears blue eye shadow and knows how to say all the right things without speaking. My dream face is a veneer, a mask with no strap, a lipsticked memory in a man’s mind. 

Satellite Park

It was exhausting, to think of so many creatures whose very existence had been denied: the Dobhar-chu, the Honey Island Swamp Creature, the Beast of Bladenboro, the Loch Ness Monster. Oh, the loneliness of the disputed sea serpent!

The Scrap Exchange

When the kids took an art class there last week, making signs with their names on them out of pool noodles and bits of yarn and plastic tubing like the kind they use on oxygen tanks, mama stood by and shook her head like we’d all lost our minds.

Elodie Farms

Inside, it became very clear what kind of farm this was. A horned, white goat wearing a bow tie sauntered past without acknowledging me. “Hello, Frankie,” said the woman in the brightly colored dress.

Maplewood Cemetery

It was my grandmother who taught me how to laugh. And it was the Sister Edith, with the statue in her classroom of the Virgin Mary holding baby Jesus in her arms and stepping on a snake with her bare feet, who taught me that there is more than one way to be strong. “You keep on picking the harder way,” she told me, and I just bared my teeth at her, or turned over the desks in her classroom.

Oak Island

Of four children, I was the basketcase. This is what my mother said of me. My father, too, after each of my tantrums or crying fits or what my older siblings came to call my “episodes.”

Edison Johnson Aquatic Center

It is a tiny exercise in faith, to trust that the shiny black path will be there, again, when I next look for it. It is a simple and perfect path, the length of the pool and back, and I follow it again and again.


Raymond D’s been living up the road from me for twenty years or more and he sits up at that bar nearly every night of the week that he’s not sitting on my porch and someone oughta ask him how he feels about that flag, but no one ever does.

Ayr Mount

The time we saw a ghost standing between us, the time we followed a tobacco trailer through the countryside until it stopped at the sea, the time we crushed the Lily of the Valley beneath our feet searching for mushrooms, the time we never found what we were looking for.

Oval Park

Everyone knows about the Dodo Bird, but who remembers the Golden Toad or the Arabian Ostrich? Bachman’s Warbler or the Bali Tiger? And what about the Caribbean Monk Seals? The Christmas Island Shrew? The Pyreanean Ibex, with its horns like daggers threatening the sky?

The Oaks at Northgate

There will be no picking of magnolia blossoms. Feel free to pick Black-Eyed Susans, chicory, and other wild perennials at will, should you find them growing on the grounds.