Category Archives: Deborah A. Upton

Looking Back by Deborah A. Upton

I had noticed how Evelyn treated me in front of everyone, mainly how
cold she was toward me, but I didn’t say anything about it, even later
when we were alone. I just figured it was something that occurred
between sisters, once in a while. But when the phone rang early the
next morning waking my husband and me, it shocked me to hear that my
sister had taken her own life. No one had prepared me.

It’s strange how you look back for clues, telling yourself you should
have seen more. Maybe I would have if I had remembered when I was
three years old how my Aunt Ellen slit her wrist and bled all over the
stairs as she came down to die on the floor in front of the couch
where Uncle Bobby slept. No one talked about it ever again after her
funeral, Momma told me, as I cried for my sister. But it was when I
was told that my grandfather, who had died long before I was born, had
committed suicide by hanging himself from a limb of the tall
cottonwood tree on the back acres of his farm that I began to see the
pattern. I’ve always dreamed of being beneath the water watching the
sun’s rays penetrating my world where I am hidden. I wonder if Evelyn
was hidden in her own world when she swallowed the pills that took her


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Coming Clean by Deborah A. Upton

“Are you blind?” Deanna yelled, tension pulsing in her neck. “How can you sit there in one spot all day long,” she was looking at the worn-out recliner her husband sat in, “and watch that damn depressing crap?”

She didn’t wait for his reply. She let the wind help her slam the back door on her way to the garden plot, where she fell down on her knees. As her body shook, she dug into the freshly turned soil, filtering it between her fingers. An earthworm fell to the earth, landing on the pile forming on the ground, and immediately went to work. Deanna paused to watch. She wasn’t used to seeing such industry in her garden, except by her own effort. She watched as the worm took dirt into one end, knowing it would eventually come out the other. She didn’t mind that kind of crap, though, because at least it was productive crap.

Suddenly overwhelmed with anger, she burst into sobbing, hysterically. How dare him to be so blind to my need, she thought. He’s not even as good as a worm. Unable to control the sobbing, she purged herself of the anger from deep down inside. It felt good to come clean.


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Not Today by Deborah A. Upton

He wasn’t going down the mountain today—besides, he’d much rather stay in the mountain valley, away from the hectic life in the city below. Picking a wrench off the floor, he tried to loosen a bolt under the truck. He saved a lot of money working on his vehicles in his garage. Fighting the bolt some more, he cussed under his breath. No, he wasn’t going down the mountain today, even if it was for his own brother’s funeral. They hadn’t ever been close anyway—it was as though his brother lived in another world. He gave the bolt a yank, knowing he had been the one who had taken their mother’s money in her final days, not his brother. He yanked again, causing the truck to sway. Falling off the jack, the rear axle fell on his foot, which instantly started throbbing. Surely it should be numb longer than this, he thought. He had taken his mother’s money and it was all gone, just as his brother was gone. It probably wasn’t a good idea to be alone, he realized, but there was no way he could go down the mountain today, even if he wanted to.


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Inner Flaws by Deborah A. Upton

A young man told me of his going to the core of the ship, a place
where not many were allowed to go, describing the darkened room where he slept.

“The room had just enough eerie green light to guide you to your bed. My berth was the one on the top. To reach it I had to pull myself up over the front edge, ducking and pulling my legs in then rolling over onto my back, with just a few inches between my face and the ceiling. There was a small curtain I could pull, enclosing myself in what felt like a tomb. I never heard any sounds coming from behind the other pulled curtains. I never really slept, though. What I thought were
dreams were really my own fears oozing from the confines of my manipulated mind. The whole time I lived in this manner I adjusted to the lack of sleep. Even now when I go to bed, I close my eyes, but I don’t sleep. I dream awake and now the dreams have become dangerous.”

He held out his hand and begged me to take the gun from his hand.

But there wasn’t a gun. It was then when I started not trusting him.


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Done Fighting by Deborah A. Upton

The man sits at the table glaring at the woman on the other side. Their eyes lock, causing him to scowl. Both of their shoulders tense up. For twenty six years he has been fighting this woman.

He clenches the edge of the table, causing his knuckles to turn white.

Her hand moves, then she quickly pulls it back. Her tongue clicks, then she growls, “No.”

Watching her intently, he waits for her to make a mistake.

Disbelief spreads across her face.

Maybe, just maybe, he thinks, hope rising.

Her lower lip starts quivering. “Pass,” she mutters, weakly, turning her head away.

“Finally,” he yells and slaps down his last tile onto the game board. “I not only have the last word, but I have also finally beaten my little sister at Scrabble.”

He smiles at her, fondly, realizing that he really does like her.

Maybe he always has.


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Borderless by Deborah A. Upton

Back in the 70s I drove my wife, her niece, and two in-law sisters
down to the border to shop. We went in a pickup truck. Up front were
me, a sister-in-law, and a niece. In the covered back were my wife
and another sister. We crossed the Rio Grande. They shopped for
Mexican pottery, glass roosters, and a concrete donkey with a cart.

I wandered around. One shop had a slab of meat still with ribs
hanging in the window. It looked dried up. Flies had feasted on it,
many still clung to it.

Being hungry, I went back to the truck. Opening the ice chest I found
no ice. I wasn’t in the mood to eat melted cheese on wilted lettuce,
but that’s all I had.

Later, I loaded the truck, almost breaking my back lifting that heavy
concrete donkey cart. By then, I was fed up with the whole trip. I
told my sister-in-law, the one who had ridden up front on the way
down, that since she was the one with the donkey cart, she’d have to
ride in back on the way home.

My wife glared at me.

Later back home, I found out that sister-in-law had a bad case of
hemorrhoids. And I had been so insistent. I’m just glad I was up
front and couldn’t hear the complaining.

I don’t ever want to go back to the border, especially, with a bunch
of shopping women.


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Loose But Not Connected by Deborah A. Upton

“He knows what he’s doing. He’s being mean to me,” Marian complained.

“No, he doesn’t,” Jamie replied. “His brain is like a sponge with
holes in it. He has Alzheimer’s. Don’t you understand what that
means? He can’t make connections.”

Reaching into the dryer, Marian pulled out freshly cleaned pajamas—the
same ones she had taken to the nursing home yesterday. She found them
this morning in the dirty cloth hamper in her husband’s room, still
neatly folded and in a pile. Now she had to do them all over again.

Spreading the pajamas out on the ironing board, Marion slammed the hot
iron down on the cloth, steaming more than the steam iron.

“If they wouldn’t keep losing his pajamas in the wash, I wouldn’t have
to be doing this myself at home.”

“Well, why don’t you quit buying him pajamas?” Jamie replied. “Then
when they lose them all, he’ll just have to go naked.”

Marian met her friend’s eyes, “I’d be tempted to, but….

“But what?” Jamie asked

“He keeps holding hands with Gracie.”

“What’s that got to do with pajamas?”

“He knows what he’s doing. He just wants to make me mad.” Marian
raised her hand to her temple.

“What’s the matter?”


“Something’s wrong.”

“Did you know if they would quit losing his pajamas I wouldn’t have to do this?”

“What are you talking about?”


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