Forgot your password?

We just sent you an email, containing instructions for how to reset your password.

Sign in

  • The couple entertained often, primed to share humor, adventure, and news. From these gatherings they harvested true friends.

    It was a spectacular day, ripe for a harmonious alchemy of steaks and red wine. No clouds to obscure the sun, no flies to swarm the food, no cause for personal insanity. A seagull flock fragmented the sky and she recalled seafarer lore that bird flight inland foreshadowed a storm.

    She’d invited a mixed group of folks, a practice that sent his brows arching. She was a butterfly who winged in eclectic social spheres, forever the one to crossover. The intention was to reward stalwart volunteers who’d endeavored to create something profound. On last minute impulse she included a casual friend, one who brought her own wolf.

    The last couple arrived first and the woman proffered a pie, apple ensconced in a basket. Wolf lurked in spirit-like, with great economy of movement. His Hawaiian shirt was belted in his shorts, not the free flow of typical peers, demonstrating his cinched-in style. His eyes panned their home in calculated appraisal while he prowled about like a burglar.

    The other guests arrived and filtered to the patio, all fresh and fully alive: a perky blonde and her creamily tanned retiree, an eighty-year-old Lutheran, two South Americans awaiting Green Cards, and a self-conscious accountant with her seldom-social husband.

    It was the latter man that the wolf ignited with political invective - what a means of establishing rapport. He struck like lightning, banishing peace, slapping it aside with word thunder.

    Soon their guests were mixing it up, everyone’s face afire. The wine flowed and, alas, the whine flowed, voices adamantly pouting. Instead of social gathering, their party had become a bully bitch session, verbal swords slashing hot air. All of the jousters seemed to agree Obama was to blame, but the dire one-upmanship and statistic whips were exhausting.

    When had diatribe replaced dialogue?

    Her husband retreated behind the armor of his aluminum grill, her knight shielded from the ambush of mean spirits. She was walking a runway between the kitchen and patio table, relegated to replenishing hors d-oeuvres. They attempted change of venue, moving the party inside, to alter the tone of the evening. Her husband hurried the steaks, so every one tasted medium rare. At least the chewing was apolitical. The salad was a bit soggy, but the fries were crisp – and the coffee was served rather quickly. The apple pie was sumptuously cinnamonned and they had a chocolate cake, but the best piece came when it was over.

    They grew up in the Midwest where the fine arts of porching, good manners, and waving to the passengers of each car passed on the road were ritual, along with neighborly casseroles. The rules of engagement were fixed: no religion, no politics, no sex. Polite was rite and enragement was not aloud. Slow and gentle was the speed of conversation, like the ocean breezes that floated across their patio that day, unnoticed by their guests.

    She wished she’d thought of tossing the crackers from the Nambe bowl, with its dull mirror-like surface, and taken it around to reflect the adamant faces. The bowl shape, now washed and replaced on the shelf, resembled a raindrop - or a tear.

    No one could grow in the shade of this rage, the red of anger shuttering the blue of the sky. How to stop the reign of ugly words, of people who interacted in order to combat, to extend hate rather than reach understanding?

    It was only another election.
    • Share

    Connected stories:


Collections let you gather your favorite stories into shareable groups.

To collect stories, please become a Citizen.

    Copy and paste this embed code into your web page:

    px wide
    px tall
    Send this story to a friend:
    Would you like to send another?

      To retell stories, please .

        Sprouting stories lets you respond with a story of your own — like telling stories ’round a campfire.

        To sprout stories, please .

            Better browser, please.

            To view Cowbird, please use the latest version of Chrome, Safari, Firefox, Opera, or Internet Explorer.