A Visit to the UPS Counter A small machine in a deep fold of my brain lifts each corner of my mouth in turn and I smile at the pretty woman behind the counter. A whisper automated sends a spark to my chest, and I let go all the charm I can muster as the worm in my groin stirs, recoils, from the electricity of this unfamiliar arena. A feeling, not unlike hunger fear paints the inside of my stomach. Her teeth are straight and white. Her eyes reflect something from the inside I’d never seen. I am validated. ###### Family Gathering I was picked up by one leg dropped hard onto the middle of the living room. I sat there for a long time looking at the flocked wallpaper. A lady in a bright, red dress joined me, sitting quietly, expressionless, staring straight at me her legs opened in a wide “V” her back straight and stiff. Two little kids and a dog joined us. A boy, about ten a girl, five. The dog was solid black. His mouth was open as if to bark, but I couldn’t hear anything, only the adenoidal breathing of the little girl playing with her doll house and creating her own little family gathering in the living room of a tiny cardboard house.