Richard Schmitt
Living Among Strangers

Richard Schmitt - Living Among Strangers

Richard Schmitt is the author of The Aerialist, a novel (Harcourt 2001). He has published fiction and nonfiction in many… Read more »
Andrew Siegrist
Nightmare Prayers

Andrew Siegrist - Nightmare Prayers

Andrew Siegrist is a graduate of the Creative Writing Workshop at the University of New Orleans. His work has appeared,… Read more »
Laura Jean Schneider
No Sunshine When She’s Gone

Laura Jean Schneider - No Sunshine When She’s Gone

Laura Jean Schneider has an MFA in Fiction Writing from Vermont College of Fine Arts. Her fiction and non-fiction has… Read more »
Joy Ellison
Sitti’s Scars

Joy Ellison - Sitti’s Scars

J.M. Ellison is a writer, scholar, and grassroots activist. They are interested in using stories, both fictional and true, to… Read more »
Alexandra Renwick
The Monsieur

Alexandra Renwick - The Monsieur

Alexandra Renwick is a dual US & Canadian author whose short fiction has been translated into nine languages and performed… Read more »

Living Among Strangers

Richard Schmitt

Dump trucks rattle up where the asphalt ends. Men in boots go afoot into the woods carrying tripods and tool boxes. They shove wooden stakes into the sand and tie ribbons around trees. Yellow steel-jawed contraptions mouth longleaf pines and tear them roots-and-all from the earth. Palmetto bushes are bulldozed into piles and burned. Frightened displaced critters, snakes and rodents, their burrows crushed, their lives upended, scoot down tire-tread ruts into this upscale neighborhood south of Sarasota. Kids ravage the building site, finding tiger skulls, elephant tusks, bear claws. They run through the streets screaming “Dinosaur bones!”

“No,” I tell them. “No prehistoric land carnivores lived in Florida. I know, children, I was a school teacher.” They take a step back. “Seawater,” I say, “sharks and crustaceans lived here before us.”

Dewy mornings I don my Nikes and powerwalk the wide looping streets quiet before the sun clears the trees and starts the Spanish-tile rooftops steaming. I stride unstained sidewalks, skip over crisp-edged curbstones. Fat SUVs roll by, men in suits, moms seeing kids off to school. “Morning” everyone says. “Good morning, Mrs. Beamons!” I wave and say it back as if I know these people. As if I… Read more »