Literary Journal – Spring 2016

Later, That Same Life

Short Story by Robert Moulthrop

After my thirtieth birthday, I knew what I knew. I could cross the street without getting knocked over; I could sauté soft shell crabs and make a lemon mousse; I could start a relationship with a woman, and stop it; my sister had become my friend; and my parents had morphed into people – Leonard, the weird painter and his adoring wife, Frederica—circling me easily in their twin orbits of manic creativity and nurturing support, fixed as polestars.

Everything about Leonard, my father, was big – he was tall and round and his booming voice rattled the glass in the windowpanes. For him, painting was the most important, the only thing. One of the first lessons I learned and passed on to my sister, Betsy, as soon as she could understand, was to be in art with Daddy or not to be with him at all.

“Look at any of these damn art books you want to,” my father said when I was four. We were standing by the bookshelves in the hallway where volumes were stacked and piled on the shelves. “Any you can reach. I’ll move some down. Here.” And the large hands moved some books, three and four at a time, off the top shelves and shoved them onto bottom shelves closer to my eyes. “This one is good,” he said, opening it and holding the big bright flowers close to my face. “Look at this one first.” He reached down some more. “These are statues,” he said, opening a book to show me very white people being eaten by a snake. “Can you say that, ‘statues?’

“Leonard, you goose,” I remember hearing Mama from the kitchen. “What are you doing with that boy?”

“I’m teaching him about art,” my father said. “He’s four-years-old, for chrissake. It’s time he knew.”

“Statues,” I said. That snake looked pretty good.

“And this here is primitive art. Kids are supposed to like this stuff.” He opened the book and for a minute we were both looking at a picture of a carved monkey with a hugh straight stick coming out from between its legs. “Oh, what the hell,” said my father, “look at ‘em all. It’s all art, for chrissakes. Just make sure your hands are clean and put ‘em back where you found ‘em. Both of you,” he said, squatting down, looking my sister straight in the eye. She was two and sitting right beside me. “Don’t you drool on ‘em,” he said, smiling at her, “or I’ll have your head for breakfast. I got to use those things when I teach.” I nodded and Betsy, watching, nodded with me.

He was a good teacher with us. He loved questions, and I loved learning about art, about life, and about my Dad. I once asked him why Matisse used so much red (“it’s a human color, not a natural color”) and since Matisse could outline all his people and things in black why was it so bad to stay between the lines in the coloring books (“Because Matisse was a genius who put on the damn lines after he knew what he was painting and those coloring books were made by fascist idiots who want every damn kid to be the same Frederica, tell those stupid Culbertsons next door I’m going to come over there and rip their children’s fool coloring books into a thousand pieces if they make my kids color inside any damn lines.”), and who were those three guys with the snake and how did they come to get stuck together like that (“they’re children who bothered their father one time too many with foolish questions and he let out the pet snake that lived in his studio and it came after them and ate them for breakfast.”), and why the penis on Michelangelo’s David looked different from mine (“he’s older, eat your peas.”)

I knew what I knew about my mother, too. As a child I watched her at the stove stirring a pot of soup with a long-handled wooden spoon, one hand on her hip, her head tilted slightly into the steam, the small smile coming across her face and I would hear her humming, or I would see her upstairs, bent over my bed, gray light coming straight through the window onto her dark head, and I would watch her hands moving by themselves, tugging, tucking, patting, smoothing, then would watch her move to the center of the room and stop, turn, look at the room, then over at me, and run over to me, swoop me into a big hug with one of her made-up words – “keenareenio” she would say giving me a big squeeze; or “wondalubrious child” as she kissed my cheek. Or I’d watch her not say anything at all, sitting, waiting, with one of the cats in her lap, listening for a stray sound from upstairs, Daddy’s slippers moving across the floor after his nap, or the clicking of the house after the furnace shut off. If I were close by the old wooden rocker, and quietly touched her arm, she would pull me into her lap,

with the cat, and stroke my hair, too, and you think, this is nice, being here with this happy, peaceful woman who is where she wants to be.

I knew that all Daddy needed was someplace to paint and someone to make sure he had enough to eat and enough money for paint and canvas and beer for him and his friends. And I knew that all Mama needed was Daddy, which was, I supposed, enough for her. And when I thought about Betsy and me – where we were before we became brother and sister, what would have happened if we’d never been born or had different parents – I knew we had come into a family that wanted children. Of course after we came, they needed a place to put them. Which was how we wound up in Framingham instead of “that place in the North End with the balcony right up against the skylight; that light was terrific,” Daddy would say; “and one bedroom and the toilet down the hall,” Mama would finish; “But it’s still the suburbs,” Daddy would continue. “I hate these mean little houses and these little people. What the hell am I doing living in the middle of a bunch of insurance adjusters, for crissake?” “You’re a professor,” said Mama. “I’m an artist,” said Daddy. “You’re a professor and an artist,” said Mama. “They’re learning from you. And besides, we got the house for free from Grandma.” After that, there wasn’t too much to say.

Grandma Altschuler, Mama’s mother, bought the house in Framingham for Mama and Daddy, sure her grandchildren would be begging on the street if she didn’t intervene. Our house sat at the very end of a cul-de-sac called Anderson Way; on either side and marching straight through the rest of the neighborhood and up to Route 9, the houses had started as identical two-story colonial boxes with high-pitched roofs and dormer windows, but were now each a little different: walls had been punched out and original frames jostled, extra dormers or fancy windows or even whole rooms had been added. But no one had worked on our house, and when we moved in, our plain and simple house stayed that way: grass, two stick trees in front, and four dark green rhododendron bushes on one side. We kids tried to be as plain and simple as our house, but the kind of parents we had made staying simple difficult.

Our friends’ fathers – like  Mr. Culbertson next door – drove cars to offices; our father raged and painted in our garage, went into Boston or New York or Washington, D.C. for exhibitions of his work at galleries whose owners, he would later shout, “took their cut and never did a damn thing to help the sale.” Sometimes he drove off in the afternoon to teach a class. Our friends’ moms had short hair, baked cookies and went to the PTA; our mom had very long, very black hair, wore long silver earrings, taught us to bake, told us the PTA was anti-union, and nurtured what she called “your father’s genius.” But even with the differences, they were just Mama and Daddy.

Of course there were eruptions, tremors that left a fine residue of emotional dust in the family landscape.

One time, when I was six, Mama and Betsy and I were playing Superman; Daddy was in the kitchen getting a sandwich, listening to us play while he sliced the bread. I, of course, was The Man of Steel; Betsy was Lois Lane, and Mama was pretending to be an evil villain, Hawk Woman, I think, in a cape.

“That’s not the way it goes,” I said, with all the authority of my six years. “Hawk Woman doesn’t go like that.”

Daddy was out of the kitchen in a flash, waving the bread knife. “Don’t let me hear you criticize anything about your mother’s acting. Your mother was the best damn Clytemnestra you’ll ever see. You count yourself lucky you’ve got a real professional here in your living room playing the best damn evil Hawk Woman you’ll ever see.”

“Thank you,” was all Mama said before she swooped and pounced on the Man of Steel. I had no idea what Daddy was talking about, but I never criticized Mama’s make-believe again.

Another time when I was nine, there was a fight that made me think my universe had come unstuck in front of God and the Culbertsons. Mama and Daddy started inside – something about the heat – then moved out onto the front porch, then back inside, around and through the house, back and forth. Then it turned out not to be about the heat. It turned out that Mama wanted Daddy to take some money from Grandma. They had been going at it for a while – Mama’s  soprano against Daddy’s bass, one against the other, back and forth, sounding, from upstairs, like a faraway rainstorm – when all of a sudden the volume increased and I felt as if Betsy and I were standing on a hill, lightning ripping the sky, moving closer, and I was wondering whether we should head for under the bed or out in the yard or over to the Culbertsons as Daddy erupted, saying he was “damned if he would take one penny more, your damn mother just wants to give us money because she hates me and hates my art.”

“Leonard, you goose,” said Mama, still in a sweet voice but now banging open cupboards and slamming doors around the kitchen “this house needs to be air conditioned, it’s a hundred and eighty degrees in here in the summertime and who cares where the money comes from. Besides, what my mother thinks about your art doesn’t matter one sweet patootie.”

There was a long, long silence, the kind that made me real nervous. I took Betsy’s hand and we went to the top of the steps to listen. Then we heard Daddy’s voice, real quiet: “You know, Frederica, you are the damndest woman. You are absolutely right. What do I care about what that silly woman thinks about anything? And it will, you know, be just fine to be cool.”

I took Betsy’s hand and we walked downstairs and stood by the kitchen door. Mama was walking slowly toward Daddy, swinging her hips. She was smiling in a way that even back then made me think she was, for some reason, glad she and Daddy could holler at each other. She marched right up to Daddy. The top of her head was under his chin and her face was almost in his chest.

“You . . .” she began. Daddy pulled Mama close with both his arms, squeezing her tightly to him so that she could barely move at all.

“’You,’ yourself,” he said, “are the damnedest woman and I love you.”

“I love you, too,” said Mama. “You big, stupid ar-tiste.” And she threw her arms up and around him and Daddy leaned down from his six-foot-four and kissed her square on the mouth.

“I can’t imagine,” Daddy said, “why I’ve put up with you these ten years.”

“Eleven,” said Mama. “Because I’m the only one that would put up with you and besides you like my sweet potato pie.”

“You know,” said Daddy, “I was just thinking of that because you said that about ‘bet your sweet patootie,’ and that got me to thinking about your sweet potato pie, and I was wondering if you were making some while you were roaming around the kitchen here.”

“No, goose,” Mama said. “Why would I make you a pie if you and I were having a big fight?”

“Because you love me,” said Daddy, his arm around her waist. They were strolling together across the kitchen and towards the steps.

“Not that much I don’t,” said Mama. I was ready for a family squeeze, but Mama looked right through me and Betsy as if we were made of glass, keeping step with Daddy as they walked together, almost side by side, up the stairway to their bedroom.

“But if I treat you right,” said Daddy, “well, I guess maybe then you might then make one.”

“I might,” said Mama.

“And,” we heard Daddy say from upstairs, “while you’re back in that kitchen cookin’ up something delightful in all this heat, I will get out to the garage and finish up my fantastic disconnectivity of the spectrum project that’s giving them fits over at the department.”

We heard the bedroom door close, then one minute later Mama was downstairs, pressing a whole dollar bill into my hands. “Here,” she whispered, “walk up to Banyon’s and buy you and your sister some of those sour balls you love so much, then go over to the park and play for a while.” When we came back, the late afternoon was cooler and the house smelled of warm sweet potatoes, cinnamon, and cloves, a strange fall aroma for a mid-summer day.

* * *

Now I’m a chef at Lochobers. I like the hours and the high backstage drama of, say, producing eight orders of phylo-wrapped snapper while my friend, Jacques, is screaming at his scallops at the next range.  I have a girlfriend named Jenny; she’s a lawyer. My sister Betsy works with computers: she likes the quiet, she says.

I remember the morning my sister came to my third floor Beacon Hill apartment. It was only eleven; she must have known I’d be asleep, because she leaned on the bell until it shot me right from my dream. I struggled out of bed, wrapped the sheet around me, and stumbled for the door. “What’s the matter?” I asked, when I saw her.

She came in and stopped, standing quietly in the middle of the room.

“What is it?” I asked. “I’m due in the kitchen in an hour. Just sit a minute while I start the coffee so I can start my brain.” I went to the sink and behind me I heard her walk over to the refrigerator.

“You use those Scotch-Tape Post-Its,” she said in a wondering tone.

“Me and everyone else I know. If I don’t write it down I forget,” I said, measuring the beans into the grinder. “Don’t you do that?” I asked. “Write yourself a note and slap it up where you’ll find it.”

“No,” said Betsy. “I remember.”

“You would,” I said, in as neutral a tone as I could manage.

“Try turtle,” Betsy read aloud from a yellow square posted at eye level.

“Yeah,” I said, starting the grinder, “I need to find out if there’s any legal way to get freshwater turtles for the restaurant.”

Betsy stood quietly, eyes focused on the refrigerator door, until the noise from the grinder died away.

“Shoulders,” she read from another.

“I’m tense,” I said. “I hunch my shoulders. Jennifer keeps telling me to relax. Everybody keeps telling me to relax.”

I measured the water into the coffee pot. “And? So?” I prompted.

Betsy didn’t answer, but instead opened her purse. She reached slowly down into it and pulled out a handful of the little yellow squares. They looked like the ones I had put up on my refrigerator, except these had been folded in half, so that the glue on one edge made it stick to itself. She began to open them, one at a time. Then she turned them around and, one at a time, pushed them to me across the smooth surface of the table. Each had one word.

They were written in a printed handwriting that looked familiar, but at the same time not. Refrigerator. Stove. Cupboard. Dishwasher.

“What is this?” I asked. “Why did you walk across the Commons and get me out of bed to look at these?”

She handed me another. Easel,  it said. I looked more closely at Daddy’s handwriting; the familiar easy loops and lines made a word I didn’t want to read. I began to smooth the paper, rubbing it with my fingers, trying to push the word off the page.

“Where was it?” I asked.

“Mama found it,” Betsy stopped and looked at me directly. “Mama found it on the easel,” she said finally.

She pulled some more of the half squares out of her purse. “That’s why I woke you up,” she said, and slapped them on the table.

I put down the square I was holding. “Do you want some coffee?” I asked.

“No,” she said.

I walked to the stove, thinking as I did how the word “stove” signified for me a shiny white appliance in my apartment, and at my job, a large black machine, but that their common ‘stove-ness’ was something I knew intuitively. I wondered – first  fearfully, then quickly in anger – when I, too, might begin to forget.

“Maybe it’s a new project,” I said. It easily could have been. Daddy was always experimenting, always forcing canvas and paint and frames to stretch beyond their boundaries. Once, when we were in grade school, he had us come out to the garage and walk through thick, gooey green and red and blue and purple paint – first with shoes on, then in bare feet – all over a canvas stretched across the floor. Another time he made Betsy cry because he took all her paper dolls to make a canvas about President Kennedy’s assassination.

“It’s not a project,” Betsy said.

“How do you know?” I asked, watching the coffee, hoping it would drip more quickly. Outside the golden October sun beat onto the red brick wall across the street. I wondered what would happen next.

“Mama found them,” Betsy said. “And when she asked Daddy, he didn’t say anything. Then he said he sometimes forgot what things were called. But just sometimes. Mama says he’s forgetting more and more.”

She began to pick up the yellow notes, one at a time, reading each one to herself, then placing it purposefully on the dark wood table. Together they looked like autumn leaves. Then Betsy started to cry, clenching her jaw and swallowing to keep back the tears.

* * *

Then it was March, with afternoon sun slanting through bare branches, pushing some beginning red buds through gray bark skin. Out in Framingham, by myself, I could feel the sun through the cold wind. I rang the bell as I always did, two shorts and a long, the family ring, then pushed open the door. There was the faint aroma of cooking from the kitchen, but the house felt empty. I turned back to the porch and suddenly saw Mama behind me at the bottom of the steps.

“Oh, James,” she said. I turned.

“What is it, Mama?” I said. She didn’t seem to be crying but she looked cold. She wore a winter coat over her housedress and apron.

“He’s been in the garage all morning,” Mama said. Even now none of us ever called it ‘The Studio.’ I walked down the front steps and looked around the corner. All the doors were closed and the shades were down.

“That’s great,” I said. “He’s painting again. Finally. I knew he’d get it back.”

“No,” said Mama. “I don’t think he is. He’s just been sitting there for hours and hours. Come inside.”

“Maybe he’s thinking,” I said.

Mama gave me a look, and so I followed her into the house, listening to the old furnace rumble warm air around places that still seemed cold.

“I’ll fix some tea,” Mama said when we got to the kitchen. She took the kettle from the stove and walked over to the sink. I could see a gray line down the part in her hair, waiting for the dye. But she was wearing big long earrings of Indian silver and turquoise, so I knew she was feeling a little optimistic. “We’ll just have some tea,” she said, “and then everything’ll all be calm and wondalubrious.”

“I’ll just go out,” I said. “Just to say a quick ‘Hi!’“

Mama started to say something: “Just . . . “ But she stopped and turned away.

The grass in the back yard, brown and pale green, was spongy under foot, bumpy where the roots of the oak trees lay just under the turf. I imagined the grass resting on roots and air. I opened the side door to the garage, and was ready to shout a Hey-There-Daddy when I saw him, sitting in shadow, his back to me. He was wearing his painting clothes – blue farmer overalls and a red checked shirt. The light fell through the skylight on his work area, falling across an old series of bright red and orange canvases – shapes  pushing the edges of simple wooden slat frames – that he’d called his Get Stuffed Period, something to do with an academic colleague talking about “the disconnectivity of spectrally consonant colors.”  As my eyes opened to the dark, I saw my Dad turn and look at me and watched his eyes go wide with fear.

“Hi,” I said quietly. “It’s just me. How’s it going?”

Still the fearful eyes and the sound of the stool scraping on the floor as he edged farther into the dark.

“It’s James, Daddy,” I said, finally. “James. Your son.”

He relaxed slightly, the huge muscles of his shoulders and neck letting go a little as he looked away. “How’s it going?” I asked, moving through the light from the skylight over to the corner where he had set up his easel.

“Why are you working in the dark?” I asked, letting my hand rest on his shoulder. He shrugged off my hand, but continued to sit. The brush in his hand was stiff with bright yellow paint; there were flecks of yellow on the floor at his feet. I looked at the easel in front of him. Across the middle of the untreated, unprimed canvas was a single line of thick yellow paint, crossing from an edge and wavering to a stop somewhere beyond the center of the canvas. Two drops of yellow paint dropped from a blotch the size of a child’s fist.

Daddy turned his head and looked up at me, meeting my eyes for the first time since I had come into the room.

“Is it finished?” he asked.

* * *

“Of course I’m complaining. You think I want to be a widow?” Mama said to us across the table in the hospital cafeteria right after the end, the heart attack that had slammed him into a four-day coma before he stopped breathing.

Mama broke off a piece of white plastic fork, then lined it up with the other white plastic shards on the table in front of her, like teeth she planned to string on a necklace. My sister had come straight from work and was fingering a book of computer print-outs in her lap while she looked at her half-eaten slice of apple pie. Outside the window the amber and orange leaves caught the light from the slanting sun. I pushed another plastic fork across the table to Mama.

“But it’s better this way for a lot of reasons,” she said. “If this had to be, then this is better than hanging on and hanging on like Aunt Sally, finally just a vegetable in that terrible, awful place. Daddy’s lucky and I’m lucky and we’re all lucky.” She broke off another piece of fork and gave her head a little shake. “I know you both think I’m crazy.  But when you’ve lived as long as I have, you better learn to look on the bright side or I tell you you’re going to sink right into that Pond of Despair. We get through this, believe you me, everything’s

going to be peachy keen. Again.” She broke off three little fork pieces one after the other, then lined them up, “Peach-y-keen,” she said, touching each one in turn. Her eyes were bright, but she wasn’t crying.

“You’re not moving, are you?” I asked, suddenly panicked that she had a secret plan.

“Not on your life,” she said. “Everyone says ‘Don’t move,’ and for once in their lives, everyone is right. Annie Whatsit, down the block, she sold that house and went to Florida or some such place and nobody ever heard from her again and then she died.” Mama looked across the table at each of us in turn. “I have no intention of that,” she said.

“So what are you going to do?” asked Betsy.

“I’m going to change the house,” said Mama.

Betsy and I looked at each other. “Is there money?” I asked.

“Of course, goose,” said Mama. “What’s the good of spending all that time teaching art to undergraduates who mostly think it’s useless and an easy ‘A’ and then get angry when they find out it’s the most important thing in life and that getting an ‘A’ from your father was about as likely as finding a ruby in their Grape Nuts . . .” She paused and blinked for a moment, then continued as if she hadn’t stopped. “. . . if you don’t have good insurance and a pension and can leave something behind to your poor widow and her two wonderful children?”

She looked over at me, her eyes bright. “And don’t look at me like I just grew an extra head, James. I’ll joke about things as long as I need to, and when I cry it’ll be long and loud and by myself thank you very much. I don’t intend to share that depth of grief with anyone except your father.”

She stopped and drew a breath. “And right now I need Betsy to make me some plans for the house so I can go to the town zoning board and get it through. I know exactly what I want, too.”

“Mama,” said Betsy, “I’m an engineer. Computers. Remember?”

“I know that,” said Mama, patting her hand. “But you can do this. This is simple.”

* * *

So two months after Daddy died, after what Mama called “That Awful Memorial, your father would have died of laughter,” we gathered around the kitchen table to look at Betsy’s clean-lined drawings. Mama had dyed her hair all black again, and now was busy twisting it round and round. She had told Betsy to design plans that pushed the living room out by four feet with two bay windows and, on the other side, extended the dining room with a combination greenhouse and sewing room, and a whole new room across the back of the house, complete with fireplace. Upstairs, she had demanded walls knocked down and rooms put together. Betsy and I had decided that Mama was changing as much of the outside as she could so that she could be freshly started on a new journey. Part of me really supported her, but a larger part felt that my childhood home was being ripped apart for kindling.

By now Mama had pulled her hair back, twisted it into a bun, and stuck a pin through it. She stood up. I was surprised to see she wasn’t wearing any earrings and had left off every bit of makeup – not even lipstick. She stood there in the overhead light from the kitchen, looking sad and forlorn.

“What do you think?” she asked.

“What’s going on?” I asked.

“Well,” she said, “do I look pathetic or what?”

Betsy blinked and said, “You look . . . woeful.”

“That’s it,” said Mama, coming round the table to give her a hug. “Woeful is exactly where I’m headed. Now come out to the living room and listen to this.”

Dutifully we followed Mama into the living room.      “You’re the zoning board, see?” said Mama. “And here I am, just coming in, only I’m gonna’ wear the black dress and those pearls your father gave me that Uncle Will brought back from Japan after the war. Now.” Mama smoothed her dress down with the palms of her hands in a gesture that seemed to transform her. Her shoulders hunched a little and her head turned slightly on her neck, and when I next caught a look at her face, I felt a stab to my heart. This poor woman, I thought. Why had I always thought her so able, so competent? This sad little sparrow needed help.

“I come before this board,” said Mama, “not as a stranger, but as someone who has lived almost all my life in your midst.”

I watched her right hand grasp her dress, and her fingers begin to pull and twist the fabric.

“We’ve . . . I’ve . . . raised my children here, working in the PTA and the church bake sales and I want, desperately, to stay right where I am. But I can’t stay in the house the way it is. There are just too many memories, too many . . . associations . . . with my wonderful husband. He . . . died, you know, two months ago.”

I could see the beginning of tears in her eyes. I was surprised. Mama had said she wasn’t going to cry, except by herself. I could feel my own tears begin to well up, and I was reaching for my handkerchief when I felt Betsy’s hand on my arm.

“All I’m asking,” Mama’s voice had dropped to a whisper, each word coming out in a raspy voice as if dragged from an inner vault of sorrow, “is a mere two-and-a-half foot extension on the front of the house, with some slight additional footage for two bay windows.” Then she looked directly at Betsy, and with the barest hint of the remembrance of a smile, said, “Number 37 Anderson Way will be a sweet little Victorian cottage, not just another colonial, something really new and wonderful for me and for the neighborhood. And I will be able to stay with my neighbors . . . and with my friends.”

“Mama,” said Betsy, “it’s three-and-a-half feet, not two-and-a-half.”

“Well, I know that,” said Mama, now standing and completely in charge. Her eyes snapped back at Betsy. “And so will they if they’ve looked at the plans. But if a poor old widow woman can’t make a mistake about feet and inches while she’s in the throes of throwing herself at the mercy of this damn zoning board, I don’t know what.”

“That’s pretty good,” I said cautiously. “How did you do that?”

“Do what?” said Mama.

“You were somebody different, there,” I said. “Somebody I’d never seen before.”

“You,” said Mama, looking right at me, “have a very selective memory. Not only was I the best damn Hawk Woman you ever saw, and a wonderful Clytemnestra, but I was a fabulous Linda Loman.”

“You never told us,” Betsy said.

“You never asked,” said Mama.

“But,” I said.

“Oh, you two,” said Mama. “If I’d started to act, your Father would have fallen apart. Who knows how many masterpieces I created by keeping the soup kettle on?”

I looked over at this new person and wondered who she was. “You going back to acting?” I asked.

“You bet your sweet patootie,” Mama said. “I was hoping it would be like riding a bicycle, which I never could do, but if I could have, I would have been able to after I’d stopped, if you see what I mean.” She paused for breath. “And it is. So I will.”

And she meant it.

The zoning board came through, maybe because the garage was now a garage and the cars were inside and off the street, or maybe because of Mama’s performance. My sister’s plans for the house were realized in wood and plaster, chimney bricks and glass, and she began to think less of computer systems and more of something she called “the totality of form.”

And after Mama’s opening night as Amanda in the Cambridge Rep production of The Glass Menagerie, we had the party back at the house. A long way home to Framingham, but Mama insisted.


Robert Moulthrop, author and playwright, lives and works in New York City. He is translator of the new Danish children’s picture book about Death (Cry, Heart, But Never Break). His story collections To Tell You The Truth and Elvis’s Dog…Moonbeam, are available from Amazon. Awards include: NY International Fringe Festival, NJ State Council on the Arts, Literal Latte Fiction Contest, Cartaret Writers Association, Wordrunner e-Chapbook, and Helen Magazine. Publications include: Tahoma Literary Review, Reed, Berkeley Fiction Review, Confrontation, Eclipse, The MacGuffin, and Sou’Wester.