A Trick of the Light

He smiles and puts his arm around me. Around us, the light is soft. Golden hour, photographers call it. The few minutes of transition between dawn and bright daylight, or between daylight and twilight, when neither long shadows nor too much light overwhelm the subject.

We’re like a couple of kids, giggling all the way home from school. His laughter is joyful. I tell him that he looks relaxed and happy. Healthy. “It’s peaceful here,” he says.

My phone chirps on the nightstand, waking me up. The summer sun, already high, streams through my window.

“He’s gone,” my mother says.


By: Carrie Prefontaine

A Loving Touch

I roused from sleep, not quite awake, at the gentle brush of a hand on my hair. It was comforting, just like books say.

“Ms. Violet P. Kittycat has come to snuggle,” I thought, shifting to the bed’s center and tossing off the sheet in the still summer night air. I waited for her to choose which arm she wanted to drape over, left or right, and started sliding back into sleep.

The touch came again, gentle strokes from my head down between my shoulder blades, as a hint of Joy perfume wafted my way. My dead grandmother’s favorite scent.


By: Jennifer Nardine


She referred to me as her sister for the last year she was alive and could still speak. “Yes, Mom, you have a sister named Joan, and a daughter named Joan. Do you like that name?”

“I must have, I picked that name for you, didn’t I?”

A moment of clarity within a year of fog.


By: Joan Bihun

A Goodbye

I stroke her hair, telling her I love her as she takes her last breath.

The wrinkles between her brows melt away. She’s even more beautiful now.


By: Joan Bihun

Hands Full of Flowers

My mother once told me I came into the world with my little fists squeezing and releasing, reminding her of the four o’clocks under the window of what would become my childhood bedroom — petals curling and unfurling with the sun.

Later, when people passed me on the sidewalks of my life, I would steal glances at their hands: a clump of marigold, rows of tulips, a single tiger lily — my favorite.

And later still, when the hands of my lover reach down to brush the dust from my headstone, I look up and see miles and miles of tiger lilies.


By: Grant McMillan


After reruns of Friends, I tuck her into bed, place her trifocals on the nightstand, secure the oxygen tubing beneath her chin. “Sweet dreams,” I whisper, smoothing back her white hair so I can kiss her forehead.

“‘Night, Mama,” she says, calling me by her name.


By: Trish O’Connor


“When will I see you?” my 97-year-old mother demands over the phone.

“Tomorrow,” I promise.

“You better, or I’ll pick you up and choke you.”


By: Trish O’Connor

Six Words

Sinatra croons. Mother dozes. I scroll.


By: Trish O’Connor

Old Man, Old Forest

The old man is small. The old forest around him is big — swallows him up like soil swallows a fallen seed. But the man’s body, his sprouted seed, has had its fair share of sunshine and water, a lifetime’s growth, hasn’t it? It doesn’t hurt now when he thinks of his grandparents, his parents, childhood friends, his partner — one by one the decades unfold, their losses tucked in between. He looks up and smiles as ribbons of gold light filter through the branches, frayed threads sparkling at the corners of his vision like lightning bugs — like memories.


By: Grant McMillan


I was left in a drop box at the shelter around a year of age, no one really knows how old exactly. The day they met me I bounced off walls, couldn’t comfortably sit near or be pet by any one of them. I bit every hand that fed me for the first year in my new home, except for one. I trusted the mom. It took many years with the family before I believed they wouldn’t abandon me. Now, at 12 (maybe I’m 13?) they say I’m the most loyal dog you’d ever meet. Redemption.


By: Joan Bihun

Kahva Says…

Kahva is our adored 13-year-old standard poodle whose eyes have expressed a lot of strong opinions over the years on various things — how much we work, what we feed her, how many times the ball should be thrown, whether that person coming down the street is a danger warranting a barking tirade or just the kindergartener neighbor on a scooter. I fear we’ve been disappointing her. “Oh dear,” seems to be in her expression most of the time, “I’m afraid you’ve gotten it wrong again.” Stress yawn, disgruntled sigh, as she plops to the floor. “Guess I’ll just nap then.”


By: Joan Bihun


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Tiny Tales from the Digital Pedagogy Lab 2021 Copyright © 2021 by Laura Gibbs is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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