The Most Frightening Animal on Earth

book chapter from Closer To Shore by Michael Capuzzo

Fortunately for everything else that swam, the great white grew slowly. Its body stiffened along three parallel muscles that ran from snout to tail. With the new bulk came a decline in speed, and the shark’s narrow teeth, once ideal for snaring fish, broadened out so that catching small fish grew almost impossible. Adaptation was not difficult. The shark’s size and strength were enormous advantages now, and its speed still remarkable for its size.

Like an infant child, the shark’s head had rapidly achieved adult size, expanding massively. Twenty-six teeth bristled along its top jaw, twenty-four along the bottom jaw. Behind these functional teeth, under the gum, lay successive rows of additional teeth, baby teeth that were softer but quickly grew and calcified. Every two weeks or so, the entire double row of fifty functional teeth simply rolled over the jaw and fell out, and a completely new set of fifty rose in its place. White and new, strong and serrated. Broken or worn teeth were not an issue of the apex predator. Continue reading “The Most Frightening Animal on Earth”

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The Last Known Survivor Of The South Tower Of The 9/11 World Trade Center Attack

by Andy J. Semotiuk  from Forbes

Ron DiFrancesco was a Canadian working on a U.S. immigration work visa in the South Tower of the World Trade Center on 9/11. He was a manager at Euro Brokers’ office on the 84th floor. As a Canadian he felt as if it was a unique honor for him to have been appointed to his position and to be working in the World Trade Center, regarded by many as the most prestigious building in Manhattan.

When the first plane hit the North Tower, the people in his office heard the crash and saw the flames and smoke emanating from that building. They did not know yet that a hijacked plane had been involved. As the phones started ringing and people started asking Ron and the other employees there what happened, they surmised that a small plane had lost its way and accidentally hit the building. They could see that the flames from the crash were forcing people in the North Tower to flee and in some cases to jump to escape the fire. As news reports started coming in giving more accurate accounts of what was happening, Ron got a telephone call from his good friend in Canada telling him to get out of his building. He heeded the warning and made his way over to the elevators. Just then the second plane his tower. Continue reading “The Last Known Survivor Of The South Tower Of The 9/11 World Trade Center Attack”

Excerpt from “The Story of an Hour”

Excerpt from “The Story of an Hour” by Kate Chopin

Knowing that Mrs. Mallard was afflicted with a heart trouble, great care was taken to break to her as gently as possible the news of her husband’s death.

It was her sister Josephine who told her, in broken sentences; veiled hints that revealed in half concealing. Her husband’s friend Richards was there, too, near her. It was he who had been in the newspaper office when intelligence of the railroad disaster was received, with Brently Mallard’s name leading the list of “killed.” He had only taken the time to assure himself of its truth by a second telegram, and had hastened to forestall any less careful, less tender friend in bearing the sad message.

She did not hear the story as many women have heard the same, with a paralyzed inability to accept its significance. She wept at once, with sudden, wild abandonment, in her sister’s arms. When the storm of grief had spent itself she went away to her room alone. She would have no one follow her.

Continue reading “Excerpt from “The Story of an Hour””

Deliverance

Excerpt from piece originally published in The New Yorker

by Lena Dunham

Family legend: I am four. It’s midafternoon, between mealtimes, and my mother has a friend over. They are chatting in the living room and I am playing in a corner when the buzzer rings (another guest has arrived) and I cry out, “Dinner’s here!”

We are being raised on delivery, but it’s a fight. Every day around 6 p.m., my parents come home (from their studios, which are two floors below in our building, on Broadway, with its rounded fire escapes) and the dinner debate rages.

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Miracle Workers

by Taylor Mali (www.taylormali.com)

 

Sunday nights I lie awake—

as all teachers do—

and wait for sleep to come

like the last student in my class to arrive.

My grading is done, my lesson plans are in order,

and still sleep wanders the hallways like Lower School music.

I’m a teacher. This is what I do.

 

Like a builder builds, or a sculptor sculpts,

a preacher preaches, and a teacher teaches.

This is what we do.

We are experts in the art of explanation:

I know the difference between questions

to answer and questions to ask.

Continue reading “Miracle Workers”

An incomplete list

(novel excerpt)

An incomplete list:

No more diving into pools of chlorinated water lit green from below. No more ball games played out under floodlights. No more porch lights with moths fluttering on summer nights. No more trains running under the surface of cities on the dazzling power of the electric third rail. No more cities. No more films, except rarely, except with a generator drowning out half the dialogue, and only then for the first little while until the fuel for the generators ran out, because automobile gas goes stale after two or three years. Aviation gas lasts longer, but it was difficult to come by.

No more screens shining in the half-light as people raise their phones above the crowd to take pictures of concert stages. No more concert stages lit by candy-colored halogens, no more electronica, punk, electric guitars. No more pharmaceuticals. No more certainty of surviving a scratch on one’s hand, a cut on a finger while chopping vegetables for dinner, a dog bite.
Continue reading “An incomplete list”