Day Hike

Under the dripping pines
the men talk of gadgets:
a new phone with more games,
a portable blood pressure monitor.
The mothers hand out snacks:
crackers, raisins,
shining tubes of yoghurt.
The men call for more pace:
the goal lies up ahead,
embrace the challenge.
The mothers murmur of
exercise programs, outgrown shoes,
period pains, mutual friends.
The trail forks,
choices offered.
The mothers turn away,
caught in the slipstream of
their striding men.


Palo Alto, CA

Michelle is a British ex-pat, mom to two girls, two dogs and two horses, with a vigorous interest in feminism, history and crochet.

Warm Springs

It always felt like summer there. The window over the kitchen sink was open, the sink where my mother washed my hair, singing the White Rain shampoo commercial over and over to keep me from crying. I wiggled my wet scalp away from her fingers whenever she stopped. My eyes never forgot that first sting from the lather and I held that memory like a small whip of guilt over her with every shampoo. 

My mother tended to my wordless grandmother, opening the white-curtained windows next to Grandmother’s bed after her early morning bed bath. She smelled chalky with Ivory soap, sweetened by Jergens’s lotion and talc. The window went up in the morning and stayed open all day until the moths came out and flung themselves at the screen.

Every morning, I would take my little dog Rinny out for some exploring. He was a mongrel, some kind of mixed terrier, black and tan, the size of a shoebox. He was named for the mighty war dog Rin Tin Tin. 

It was early in the day. Rinny trotted off ahead. I poked along behind.

All at once, there were snarls and deep throated growls, yelps and snapping of jaws and teeth.

A pack of dogs of all ages and sizes had run up out of nowhere, lunging and biting at something in the center of that sudden circle of fur and muscle.

It was Rinny.

There was a German Shepherd flashing copper and tan, diving in toward the center. There was a collie lunging up on its hind legs, looking nothing like the beatific Lassie.

There was an assortment of mutts and mongrels of small and medium sizes, all raging around wherever Renny was.

I walked toward them.

A screen door slammed. I saw the slim outline of my mother on the porch, one hand over her heart, one cupped around her mouth. I heard my name being called with her voice.

I turned back around and walked toward the storm.

Everything was lifting and fading like a campfire.

I waded in.

The shepherd and collie reared up higher than my head. I felt the wet from their spit on my arms, on my cheeks and forehead. 

I went in deeper.

Dogs were ankle deep, knee deep, shoulder high. One or two were screaming but they didn’t sound like Rinny.

In the middle of it all, I saw him, fighting back, all small snapping teeth and torn ears.

I bent down and scooped him up. The shepherd and big collie were fighting each other. I held Rinny under my chin and over my heart. I shouted up at the tall ones and down at the little ones with everything I had, louder than I knew I could be. 

I walked out of the circle. Not a tooth, not a claw, had touched me.

I don’t remember what came right after-not walking up the hill toward my grandparents’ front porch and my mother, not when I finally put Rinny down so that he could run around to the back of the house. He was fine except for those ears that healed crooked.

What I do remember is the late afternoon light aiming in on my mother and me from the open-air circle in the wooden ceiling of the ancient bath house. How it lit up the mirror-clear water that smelled like sulphur and was the same temperature as our insides. How I hated the smell of the rubbery bathing cap but loved the scent of the scratchy white towels.

What I remember is floating there on my back next to my mother and how the light lit us up and how there was just that one round patch of blue above us.

I thought about the bubble that surrounded me when I walked in among the dogs and how their teeth must have bounced right off of it. How the warm water felt a little like that bubble. How beautiful and clear it was, how long and pale my mother’s fingers looked shimmering under the water like that. How, if I thought about it, I bet I could just float away.


Ashland, VA

Mary Jo is waiting for Spring. 

Brothers' Bond

When we were kids growing up in Yonkers, my little brother and I loved baseball.

I was probably around 11 and he was 8, when I would bug him every day to go out and have “a catch." He would say, “No, you throw too hard and hurt my hand.” I would promise him that I'd throw it easy, so he would come out and play. 

When we got outside, I threw it hard and hurt his hand. 

One day, when we were playing catch, I hit him squarely on the forehead. There was a cut and some bleeding, and he started to cry. I felt terrible. All I could think to do was to give him my prize possession, a dinosaur named Ally. I don't think he really cared about the dinosaur, but at least I made the gesture. 

Another game we played, one I made up, was called “dart baseball." I had my brother hold up an old baseball bat, while I threw metal tipped darts at it. The idea was to get the darts to stick into the the wooden bat. It was all going along well, until I threw an inside pitch towards the bat handle where my brother was holding. The dart stuck more into the fleshy part of his hand than in the wood, immediately ending that game, and any future planned games of dart baseball. 

Somehow, my little brother survived childhood and didn't end up hating his big brother. In fact, as adults, we are good friends today. 

Our brothers' bonding through baseball experience may not have been typical, but that's just how it played out – and little brother still has the scars to prove it!


Richmond, VA

On Dancing, Again

BEFORE I NEVER learned to dance, I did try. Truly, I did. We had organized dances to go along with our organized religion and the CCD dances set up by the parish were great places to meet the girls you'd never see in your all-boys high school. 

Since the testosterone zone of a growing boy is difficult to channel...wants to be it's own wild pony and all that, I got myself to as many CCD dances as I could afford. 

There, one drippy March afternoon, I remember seeing a girl working her dance moves spectacularly, and with powerful grace amidst the tribe of what I supposed were her girlfriends. I'd never seen any of these girls before but I definitely wanted to get close to this one powerful dancer.

They were together in a dark corner of the gym near the stage. You couldn't make out their faces as they were silhouetted by the lights blaring from the stage. The vista was too exciting.

I pushed through this fragrant buzzing mix of girls, right up to that one most athletic dancer and asked her. Rather, I yelled into her ear as she turned her head and gave me the classic, "what?" mime with the one palm cupping the place where an ear would be if not for all that wild hair.

Surprisingly she grabbed my hand and pulled me deeper into the middle of the girls. 

Remember, those were the days of the Twist, the Swim, and the Mashed Potato, so there wasn't much touching. I guess the point was, if there was a point, was to thoroughly impress your dancing partner with your moves while not accidentally knocking her or anybody else in the head with your elbow. 

We danced three times, I believe, before the much hoped for slow dance arrived. Never mind those hopes, I best remember her taking my outstretched hand, again, and lifting it high and slightly behind her, palm to palm. She tucked her chin under my ear with her cloud of fragrant, sweaty hair almost covering my face. I think it was ok, though. At this point my eyes were the last of my senses in operation.

I was doubly blinded. The hair, the easy way this strange girl folded herself into me. I could hardly breathe.

As the song dragged to a close I remember the painfully shy boy inside me tripping me up by demanding I come up with some cool commentary or really good joke. The slow dance always anticipated a fifteen minute break for the band and I couldn't stand the thought of this girl escaping with her giggling friends into the ladies room never to be heard from again. 

I hadn't said one word as we danced head to head, chest to chest. The girl hummed the song....she could even hold the tune. I was enchanted. And nervous.

The song ended and she just stood beside me with her head down as the fluorescent lights snapped on and the nuns and priests chaperoning politely clapped for the band. 
The vision changed so abruptly. 

I moved to face her and she lifted her chin to reveal a beautiful heart-shaped face, beautiful, but horribly scarred, peeking out from behind the forest of dark hair. 

Burns. and many marginally successful skin grafts. And the most piercing look from her beautiful dark eyes.

She said, "So-o?" 

Epilog; Her name was Bonnie, one of the funnest, funniest girls I ever knew. We went out on several 'dates'. Things a fifteen year old can do involving homework and Vanilla Egg Cream fountain drinks. She dumped me, graciously, for a guy named Guy. I've always hated that name.


North Chesterfield, VA

A Minimalists Guide to Coping

Less is more,
so they say.
I will try,
start today.

The less I think,
the less the pain.
Turn off the brain,
give it rest.
Sweet coma,
might be best.

Shutting down.
It's okay.
Awake again,
in better days.
Sweet repose,
almost there.
Getting cold,
losing air.

Dreaming now,
better world,
all is well.

Wake me up,
when this hell,
has passed on.
But if not,
leave me be,
with sweet dreams
of fantasy.


Richmond, VA

It's Personal

I've been meaning to revisit this space for some time. I get a lot out of this free-write situation at Life in 10. I've been growing and improving as a writer in my professional life. I know it's partly thanks to this part of Internet land. It's an important part of my evolution as a person. The thing is, every time I come here to write, I only have incredibly deep and vulnerable stories to reminisce on and retell. I want to arrive here with a funny story to tell. I want to forget the sadness I carry around with me. I almost forget how sad some of my stories are until I tell them to new ears and feel the energy in the room change. I don't want to have to worry about hurting the people I would like to write about. 

Here I am, a story teller, who has a hard time telling her own stories. It's quite the pickle. I want to tell a story about a new guy I met, but I recently broke up with my boyfriend of six years and he'd certainly read it. I want to pen a story about how I learned I'm attracted to women, but don't want to offend the beautiful women I've come to love. I want to write a story about how frustrating my mother is and how I never want to be like her, but she's always on my social profiles seeing what I'm up to. I want to tell a story about my brother and how the random tufts of hair on his shoulder always made me crack up, but that would end inevitably up sad. I want to tell everyone about a guy who spread herpes around Richmond with reckless abandoned and ruined women's chances at a care free sex life. I want to write a story about my recent phone call from my dad. 

So, instead, I write stories about other people and share them with the world--triumphant stories of hope and dedication and creativity. I ask everyone I meet 52 questions and figure out what stories they have to share and tell. Maybe they need to get something off their chest. Maybe they need to build a business and just need the world to know. In a way, they are my stories, too. Their experiences and dreams become mine. They help me understand my own stories. They help me love myself and the future ahead. 

I'll be back and promise to write a story for you. One of mine.


Richmond, VA

Megan Wilson is a writer for a variety of magazines and newspapers and the founder of

The Last Cookie

Don’t tell me about the dark side of the moon or the depths
of the ocean where the sun never reaches, I was annoyed, but

he wasn’t paying attention. He was defending pain. The pain of
love gone sour. He was only a minor god, of sorts, and it probably

wasn’t his fault, but I wondered if he would concede that the idea
had failed. He brushed cookie crumbs from his shirt. These were

special, cashew and almond biscuits, the ghee melting down his
throat with the sugar. Why does your love hurt, he was asking, 

reaching for another one. Expectation, I said, expectation. Didn’t
you see that coming, like weeds in a garden, a design flaw. But

then, that’s probably just my fault. He smiled. I shouldn’t tell you
this, he said, a conspiratorial tone, love sat right there one day and

cried, just like you, did I break people, it asked, make them sad
because I expected too much from them. I thought of what

could have been, of waking up alone, of never knowing. There
comes a point, he said, when you just cannot eat one more cookie.



I am a poet from Bangalore, India and I post my work on

Some of my poems have recently appeared in The Lake, Ekphrastic Review, Parenthese Journal and The Calamus Journal.

Let It Be

Childless by choice are we. The dust of our decision has settled comfortably around us. Five lovely years of marriage, resting inside the beautiful life we’ve made for ourselves, and for each other. We are full and complete, calling each other family. Yet... In the back of my mind, always, was a wondering. A wondering if after, say, 5 years of marriage, the baby bug would bite and I’d feel a longing – unfamiliar at first, then a constant companion – to start a different kind of family. “Tough luck,” I would tell myself stoically. “You made your decision, you are out of time, there is nothing to be done.”

I suppose I know myself all too well. Right on schedule, after 5 years as a wife, I now surprisingly start to see the point in having a child, the beauty in making a new life. Yes, it’s a perfectly wonderful and logical next step. Yes, it would indeed add a richness and fullness to our days and years. Suddenly I am terribly interested in participating in one of life’s activities on which I never opened the lid. Having a baby was always for others. 

I am 42 years old. Suddenly, I’d pay good money to get my last 3 years back. I’d take 39 – 39, why not? No need to be greedy. It’s right on the verge of forboding 40. It’s risky but not too risky, and getting pregnant at that age is a bit like an underdog winning. But God doesn’t need those 3 years back. He just needs to say yes, this is the plan. My body is strong and healthy and surely capable of a few new adventures.

Did you know that if you ask yourself the same question 1,000 times, you still may get a different answer the 1,001st time?

Did you know that in some languages, “wait” and “hope” are the same word? Now I do both, and I will do both with equal patience. I have always found God to be full of surprises.

It's Time

This writing class has become a conduit for my life’s blood. It’s one way I see inside and a place I let myself glance, however cursorily, into those aching wounded fearful places and experience them on the page, with witnesses. It is also the place where I explore and dream and hope and wonder because that is what is primarily inside of me though I had lost track of it for a long long time.

It’s a time to wonder. It’s a time to explore. It is fucking time to hope again, to set myself up with chances for joy and delight, to allow in the faith that life holds as much joy as I’m willing to absorb.

There’s a lining on the clouds these days. Sometimes the sun breaks through. On my morning walks by the river with my friend, we imagine. I am beginning to visualize a different life, a free, undetermined, joy-filled, creative life where I’m busting at the seams. Where dreams become reality like they used to, where I have the energy to create and plan and manifest. The last 3+ years of living with a deeply depressed and therefore self-absorbed person have wiped out my inherent ebullience and positive “can-do” mindset. 

This week he agreed to a separation. I will finally have time and space to RELAX. To stop carrying his world, his heavy, weighted world, on my shoulders. I have become exhausted. I am beginning to feel hope again that I can regain the fabulous life I used to have, that one day soon, after the grief, or, perhaps, as the grief pours through me. Perhaps the grief will flood me and wash out the rage and fury and resentment and sadness and expectations and hopes and dreams for our marriage and will leave me        e m p t y.

Then, in that silence and vastness, I imagine the fresh tender shoots of spring flowers beginning to emerge, tilting their heads towards me as if to encourage me too to come out of the cold dark ground and to greet the sunny warm days with color and freshness. I am preparing. My colors are ready to bloom.


Richmond, VA

Tick-Tock I Got a Clock

“So small you’ll barely notice it,” the surgeon said as he whipped out the ‘Pacemaker’ display board and waved his finger over the ideal model for me.

“Tiny,” my husband, the ex-nurse exclaimed and rolled his eyes the way his fellow Cubans do when patronizing you.

Mesmerized by the thirty-five foot sized Big Ben the doctor would soon be shoving into the eight inch pita pocket he’d whittle out of my flesh, I felt faint, lightheaded, and nauseous. My normal, corpse-like pulse of 37 beats per minute shot off the charts. Did I just scare up a self-cure? “Right! Wish’n ain’t getting!” As a drag acquaintance once shouted at me, from the back of a convertible Cadillac in a Gay Pride parade, when she failed to get my attention after a fit of frantic waving, “Holy Homo!” she screamed. “Over here Mary! I’m in your face!”

My husband and the doctor rattled on, delightfully animated as they marveled over the advances in modern medicine; and how lucky I WAS to be born in this celebrated decade of new- fangled bits and babbles, mechanical wonders, and ingenious robots dominating health care.

Valentine’s Day 2018, is a day that will live in infamy for me. Stripped, shaved, and scrubbed clean with a vial cleanser labeled HEBECLEAN, I lay on the gurney, berating myself for indulging in that last slice of my husband’s butter creamed iced birthday cake, the size of my head topped with a Shirley Chisolm afro. What was I thinking?

What the hell? All my life, this Pollyanna had dieted. Denying chemically sweetened indulgences, I devoted myself to organic everything. Even my T-shits from Whole Foods are 100% organic cotton from Georgia. An avid jogger, I ran marathons. Long walks with my dog, Lucy Honeychurch, and swimming 50 laps (O.K. 25 if you count back and forth as one) 4 times a week are woven into the fabric of me. “Holy Homo! I might as well have eaten a tower of Little Debbie cakes, washed them down with a Mountain Dew, chain-smoked, and sampled every glittering drug offered me during my barhopping ‘Decadence Decade.’

A week after surgery, I stared at the man in the mirror as he removed the ‘user-friendly’ bandage. My stomach flip-flopped as I stared at his twenty foot long Frankenstein stitched scar; obviously hand sewn by a blind nun on the run after pilfering a case of Holy Communion brew filed under ‘Happy Holiday.’

I counted the mementos of war marking the battles of his life. The white corded scar from neck surgery ran horizontal to the latest scar on the walk of fame. Interesting how the two hernia welted scars meet the pink appendectomy stripe that overlaps the vertical slash, from intestinal repair surgery, to complete a triangle. Tres Gay! Including the latest reveal, he boasted an even half dozen.

The man in the mirror smiled back at me and somehow I didn’t feel quite as lonely as before. Patched as am, I knew he’d never abandon me when I wept over the deterioration of a body that once drove men to distraction. Looking in his eyes, I could tell he knew well the promise Lupus made to deliver complicated surprises. He’s the type who’d hold my hand and wipe away the dribble from my ancient plaid bathrobe when I’m even older than I am today. Together, our mechanical miracles creaking to a gentle stop, we’ll catch the last train to providence.


Richmond, VA