Soup.

She hummed as she chopped the carrots. Sometimes nonsense notes, sometimes the melodies to hymns of which she had long since forgotten the words. The knife made a gentle ‘thwap, thwap’ against the cutting board, soothing in its regularity. She used the edge of her palm to push the diced carrots back up onto the blade, then scraped them off into the pot of slowly simmering soup. There was something comforting, something calming about making soup. Taking the small bits and pieces and leftovers of meals and dropping into a bit of water, or, if she’d thought ahead, some stock, somehow produced a thing greater than the sum of its meager parts.

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Diner Pie and Seedy Motels.

Les didn’t really want to leave. It wasn’t the hotel, Heaven knows it wasn’t that, they were all the same. Sleeper Suites, Pearl’s Inn, The Fawn Motel, they were all the same. Small rooms, door directly to the outside, thirty years out of date and in terrible disrepair. That’s why he chose them, actually, because he knew he’d find work. Les was a jack-of-all-trades, good at most repair jobs, and couldn’t stand to stay in one place for long. He’d roll into town, set up residence in a somewhat seedy motel, exchanging rent for repairs and a bit of cash for food and fuel, and then move on when most things were in order and he got the itch to drive again.

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Margaret and the Wedding.

Margaret fidgeted in her seat. Her mother had given her a couple crayons and a small pad of paper to keep her occupied, but she'd filled them up, front and back. The ceremony hadn't even started yet, and she was bored. She kicked her feet, which was okay right up until she accidentally kicked the back of the seat in front of her, where her grandmother Marie was sitting. She turned her head and gave Margaret such a look that she sat still for a full minute afterward.

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To see and be seen.

Ashley spread her blanket out on the sand and smoothed out the wrinkles. Then she settled in. People of all ages, sizes, and styles walked by in front of her. She thought about unwrapping her sandwich, but she wasn't ready to fend off the seagulls yet. So she rested back on her elbows and watched. An older gentleman walked by, in a full grey linen suit, with a twisted wooden cane in one hand and his wife holding his other. She had a sundress that brushed her calves, and looked as though she could probably use a cane too, but her husband held her close. A runner came up behind them and called "On your left!" before running past in her neon pink running shorts and lime green tank top. Her ponytail swished back and forth as she ran.

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An Unorthodox Wedding.

Stasi watched out the window of the SUV as she fingered the lace on her Grandma Ernestine’s dress. She had always loved this dress, the dress Gram had chosen for her wedding in 1946. She loved that it was teal instead of the now traditional white. She’d never seen another dress approach it in pure style. Her mother had agreed to let her wear it for her own wedding, saying “It’s blue enough to count, it’s new to you, it’s borrowed, and it’s definitely old.” And now, here she was, driving around with Pastor Tom, her mother Freya, Martin and his dad Alberto, and Greg and Ruth, hoping to find somewhere perfect for their wedding that night.

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Clara's Taste.

She tasted the salsa. Mmm, just about perfect. Maybe another squeeze of lime though? Clara squeezed a small wedge of lime over the salsa, stirred it in with her chip, and tasted again. There we go. She wrote the winning combination down on her notepad next to the bowl, now a bit splattered with tomato and lime juice, and moved on.

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Garden of Memories.

Walter held his wife’s arm as they walked out into the sun. Betty loved sitting on the bench in their garden, so every day the weather allowed it, he’d help her outside to enjoy the sunshine. Sometimes he pulled up the dandelions that continually invaded the lawn around them. Often, though, he would simply sit and hold his wife’s hand. She didn’t speak much anymore, but she still seemed to enjoy his presence, and would sometimes even lay her head on his shoulder. 

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Coffee Shop Romance.

Gabi stared, dazed, out the window, half-listening to the buzz of noise around her. It was her slow hour, just after the morning rush and just before the lunch crowd filtered in. The coffee shop she worked at, Café et Thé, had a good mix of comfortable broken-in seating and high tables for people to work at, so there were always people around, mostly her regulars, but they were all busy with their laptops and books and conversations. Sam wasn’t here yet to entertain her, so she just watched people out the window. A man with a vivid purple mohawk and a business suit walked by Paulo, the shop’s local mailman. Gabi grabbed a cup and filled it with the daily blend and a sugar cube, just in time for Paulo to walk in and set a dollar and change on the counter.

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Ira and Maude.

“Ira? IRA?”

“WHAT, Maude?” Ira leaned out of the bathroom, toothbrush still hanging out of the corner of his mouth.

“Ira, I think you’d better come look at this!” Maude yelled back, sitting on the edge of the bed, looking at her feet. Ira walked over, scratching his side as he moved, then tugging his white undershirt back down again.

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Peeps and Art.

She liked the yellow peeps, mostly, because yellow didn't seem as garish a color to put in your body as magenta or electric blue. Violet had cut a slit in the thin plastic wrapping around their box and let them sit on the counter for a few weeks. She stared at them now, willing herself to wait. They were her Easter morning tradition, having just one before church, after her usual breakfast of eggs and toast. Violet couldn't stand them fresh, all spongy and odd textured, but once they had sat open, aged a bit, their texture became like nougat and that, that she loved.

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