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All Saints Day


She was by my side at the front door in an instant. Big, breathing noisily, a lit cigarette in the corner of her mouth.

“May I help you deputy?” she said, and began to cough. I grabbed her hand; the two of us filled the doorway.

“Pauline A. Lafky?” The man stared hard at something over mom’s shoulder. I checked behind us, but the hall was empty. She nodded. He handed her a wad of folded pages wrapped in blue.

“You’ve been served.” He turned around and clomped down the narrow wooden stairs, his nightstick smacking the handrail.

My mother unfolded the papers and began to cry. My father appeared at the foot of the stairs with my birthday present under one arm. He looked stupid with long hair and a wild shirt. He turned sideways to pass the deputy on his way up.

“It’s the first of the month, Paulie,” he said extending a hand toward my mother. “I forgot they serve on the first.”

She stared at him, tears falling.

He looked at me. “Happy sixteenth-birthday, Kiddo.” His smile was framed by a new, dirty mustache.

“I don’t want anything from you,” I said and turned to walk back into the house. My mother’s nails bit into my wrist. I gasped, turned back.

She took a last drag than flicked her cigarette past him, over the handrail and exhaled a blue cloud. “Hush, child. The man brought you a gift.”


Karyn Powers lives and works in central Wisconsin, where she shares her life and cottage with husband, Pat, and two urban Retrievers. She is a published poet with award-winning haiku, and is currently shopping for an agent for her martial arts, amateur sleuth, four-book series, Blue Dragon Mysteries.


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