Pia Z. Ehrhardt's fiction and non fiction.

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Hurricane (finally) Isaac.

Posted on August 30, 2012

The New Orleans streets are a mess with shredded branches and other debris – roof tiles, broken signs, errant gutters – but the city, I think, so far, came through fine. People know how to handle hurricanes down here. It’s the fucking levee failures that killed our spirit until we got it back. Isaac was a bear. No steering currents, slow moving (and then it stalled over us), not much of a center, just an ill formed mess of wind and rain that finally got its act together enough to matriculate into a Category 1 hurricane. I stayed home and Malcolm went to a safe house with his client. Winds gusted up to 90 mph, but our house is solid and old and on…

Three Cigarette Stories

Posted on August 22, 2012

ONE: SMOKING IN THE HOUSE My mother is private with her grief. Since my father’s death last year there has been almost no talk of him. When she got back from the funeral, she put his clothes in boxes for Goodwill, and rearranged the furniture in the den. She won’t discuss what she will do now. She’s 55. I want her to do something. I think I know what is best for her. I always did. I remember watching her get ready to go out with my father, dressed in a green silk shirt, her hair up, red lipstick, frowning in the mirror because, she said, “The light was bad,” and thinking: She should look happier than that. The light is fine.I can see her,…

Stop

Posted on August 22, 2012

Accept that your husband’s heart always belonged to his first love. You should’ve noticed sooner because she works in your building and won’t look you in the eye. She takes the stairs because you ride the elevator. Give him back to her. It’s been sixteen years of marriage and there’s so much that’s hard—him asking why you have on that tight skirt when it’s for him; you turning your face to the wall while he climbs in bed at 1 a.m. after office drinks; you forgetting to kiss him for days; him checking your cell phone bill for calls made late at night, finding none, but not putting the pages back in order. Check his cell phone bill and you might find her number fifteen times…

Baby Hater

Posted on August 22, 2012

Babies get in my way. Babies interrupt everything good, like morning coffee and TV, a phone call you like, sleep, sex when you’re finally not too tired to have it. You leave your husband and go to the nursery at 2 a.m., painted so cute, go to them, and that’s the only place you want to be, and there’s no chance to leave, or trust they will be okay if you turn your back on them. They won’t. SIDS. Meningitis. A blanket kicked off and now the air-conditioning vent’s blowing right on them. They are babies. They need you. Do you need them? What do they do for you? They fill you up like an ocean inside a balloon. It’s too much water for…

Some Light, Some Don’t

Posted on August 22, 2012

We are in Chinatown looking for a good price on a Zippo lighter. My son wants one with with no logo, no Elvis face, no Mets, no #1 Stunner in fancy script. Just plain silver, the size of a matchbox, when matchboxes were the size of matchboxes. He’s fourteen and still looks nervous striking a match, like he’s afraid it’ll singe his fingertips, so he does the trick where you turn the matchbook cover around and you squeeze the match between the cover and the flint. Some light. Some don’t. I want him to be afraid of fire. Of fire and of twenty other tragedies that can happen when I look away, when he spends the night at his best friend, Jed’s, when he…