Conte, a journal of narrative writing.

Lost Cool
I have lost whatever it is I call "my cool." I am moving through the
rooms of my house, slamming doors, manhandling objects,
muttering madly to myself, because my mother, in the ten minutes
that I left her alone, arose from the chair in which, smiling up at me,
she promised to stay (saying, "This crossword puzzle will take me
all night, I'm sure"), took a pizza from the freezer, put it in the
toaster oven, wrapping and all, and jacked it up full strength - and
when I come back she greets me in wonder, as if I have returned
early from a great journey, and proudly offers me dinner, gesturing
over her shoulder towards the oven, from which dark smoke is
beginning to curl.

OK, I am going to go back in there and hug her, as if nothing
happened. We are going to make another pizza in the microwave
(and let the first one smoldering in the garbage stay forgotten). We'll
sit at the table and share it, and talk about the damn birds swarming
at the feeder. How many of them are there? Where do they sleep at
night? Why are they fighting with each other? Why can't they be
Yep, and in the chanting of this mindless mantra, the particles
of my fractured cool will settle, the swarming in my own head will