Grok

Florie Lorraine stood in running shoes and swishy shorts at the top of the stairs, bouncing her phone in her grasp. The phone, a basic model with a slide-out keypad and no Internet connection, lit up with a tiny chirp as it jostled against her hand.

The house was dark, gray hints of dawn in the windows, and she was the only one awake. She descended one step, then another, then paused to text her best friend, who was five hundred miles away and, she knew, still asleep.

I don’t want to go for a run.

Later, the day would likely turn hot and stifling, the mid-summer sun burning through the shade trees to drive the tourists into the quaint gift shops on Main Street or the eccentric historical society storefront, or back to their hotel rooms. Florie would serve them iced tea or iced coffee or Coke at Delcy’s Cafe, and listen to them quibble about the historical facts of Abraham Lincoln’s time in Rider’s Point, Illinois — a town, Florie knew, the president had never visited during the six years he made his home on the banks of the Sangamon River. Still, like most other towns in central Illinois, Rider’s Point had clung to some sense of inheriting the Land of Lincoln and had, in the 1950s, capitalized on it any way they could imagine, mostly low-tech attempts at tourist-traps associated with the log cabin, the stovepipe, the backwoods lawyer. Half asleep and half way out the door, Florie tried to picture her hometown with some snazzy visitor center decked out with touchscreens and holograms like the presidential library down in Springfield.

Again, the tiny chirp, this time to alert her of her friend’s message: I grok that.

Nerd.

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Jilt

The only thing Susan considered a sin was the waste of food. She puttered in her garden, plucking basil leaves and pulling potatoes. She paused beside wheat fields and relished the smell of summer corn. She lingered over her morning coffee like a sacrament. It was not that these romantic moments singularly defined her sense of the sacredness of food — she raved about worker justice over dinner with friends and turned off the faucet while brushing her teeth to conserve water. But to waste any product of the whole process of food production was to jilt those farm workers and bee keepers and cows and chickens and corn stalks–all the resources combined to bring that food to table.