Excerpt from short story “Lola”

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When my boys were younger, I lived in the pauses between my family’s clamoring wants and needs. A tremulous truce where no one was tugging at my clothes, asking for something; a ride to school, a half-eaten candy bar in the checkout line at the grocery store, another child. In one of these rare, stuttering stops of unsteady quiet, I watched from the kitchen window, hands pruning in hot, soapy water as my three boys tossed a red ball around in the backyard with their father. In the periphery of my consciousness I was aware of faint shouts, high-pitched laughter, the lusty, groaning of a distant lawnmower, the scent of cut grass tickling my nose, a hazy August heat that trapped beads of salty sweat on my upper lip, and made my dress stick to my thick thighs. But all I could focus on was the red ball being thrust up into the air again and again, the false joviality of this round, plastic thing, covered in dirt, being manhandled. The red ball dropped by pudgy, sticky, clumsy, toddler hands. The red ball rolling, down the hill and away. The red ball, caught by a small foot near the edge of the yard, nearly free now trapped again in an endless game of keep it up.

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