Author Archive

Friday, July 25, 2014


by Ceil Kessler


He was safe.

No phones would ring, no thieves could break in, no internet hackers would steal his identity.

Enclosed in his one-bedroom bungalow ten miles outside of Raleigh, Joe planned for everything.

He could still get around if need be. His handicapped-modified car allowed him to visit people and go to stores. But otherwise, he had a monthly standing order at the grocery store, and the people from social services would visit on the same day. Always the 3rd of the month.

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Friday, June 20, 2014

Ask Ceil – I Have an Opinion

by Ceil Kessler

Batman Desktop

Dear Ceil,

Why do I have so many opinions, and why do I talk about them? I had no idea I cared.

Soapboxing in Susquehanna

Dear Soapboxing,

There are several reasons why we might voice our opinions. Only a couple make any sense.

1. We need to hear ourselves talk.

Friday, June 13, 2014


by Ceil Kessler

Wisteria Raindrops

“Where are we going?” Dad asked again.

“We’re meeting my friend, Kathy, for lunch.” She wasn’t my friend.

“Oh, where’s that?”

I pointed. “Right there.”

“We’re having lunch?”


“Who are we meeting?”


I pulled into a parking space. I didn’t cry.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Birthday Surprise

by Ceil Kessler


Veering from my regular commentary on the weirdness of life; here’s a longer flash fiction piece for your Friday. If you are about to eat cake, I suggest you wait until you’re done to read this. I’ve already put one person off cake with this story.  –Ceil

The refrain of the birthday song was wobbly and askew; young and old crowded the table of Tommy Hinterforce, now aged 9, as he thought earnestly about his wish. He blew air and jots of spittle over the field of buttercream and extinguished 10 candles (one for good luck). Janet Hinterforce, eager for the company to be gone, hurried to his side and began cutting slices. It was after she’d cut the fourth one and lifted it onto a plate that a severed finger rolled out of what was to be the next piece, intended for Jeremy Thussleman, a loud child with early onset body odor.
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Friday, May 30, 2014

The 3 Weirdest Work Experiences I’ve Had, Part II

by Ceil Kessler

Candle smoke

Thank you for waiting patiently for Part II of this article. (If you have no idea what I’m talking about, please feel free to transport over to the first part of this article right here.)

These two very short stories are about people, and the things I learned from them.

In college, I worked in customer service at a bank. I opened accounts, helped people figure out how to add and subtract, that sort of thing.

My office was at the end of a long hallway. The other customer service guy, whose office was right next to mine, was named Jimmy Carter. (No relation. In any way.)

The hallway outside our offices was dark, and because the front of the bank had glass walls, everyone who approached us was backlit, like they were walking out of Heaven.

Friday, May 23, 2014

The 3 Weirdest Work Experiences I’ve Had, Part I

by Ceil Kessler

The spiralling decent

Everyone has weird work experiences, and mine are some of my favorite stories to tell. If you’ve met me in person, there’s a good chance you have heard at least one of these stories.

I won’t go into the old food and miscellany I’ve found pressed between the pages of library books, or the magical smells of transient people that wafted freely from the periodical section of the Red Bank Public Library. Nor will I repeat the tawdry secrets that people entrusted me with, while shopping for bras at the women’s boutique.

I won’t detail the many late-night phone conversations I had with a guy named “Ray-Ray”, while I worked the radio station overnight shift. Or the time I worked at the hospital and had to bring a corpse down to the morgue.

But today, I will tell you about filing dockets.

Friday, May 16, 2014

The Three Weirdest Ways I Was Ever Asked Out

by Ceil Kessler

Flower Machine...

There are people who stay with you through your life. Through time and tide, you always find yourself going back and drawing on their memories. Not for support. Not for insight. Not even for humor.They are people who blow quickly into your life, and breezily leave just as fast, leaving a giant “What the hell was that?” in their wake.

Who knows why we revisit these memories? Perhaps–like every time we try pimiento cheese sandwiches, or listen to Cannibal Corpse–we keep these memories around to periodically check if they make sense yet.

These are the top 3 weirdest ways that anyone has ever asked me out on a date. No, I don’t understand them. Perhaps in some small way, they represent a general unknown quality of the universe. They are, if you will, the theoretical sub-atomic particles that the Large Hadron Collider exists to make sense of.

I have no such relationship collider. I only have you.

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Friday, May 9, 2014


by Ceil Kessler


It was June of 1998 when I moved to the small town of Latrobe, PA, population almost 9,000. I’d just bought a nice brick house with a fenced-in yard for my dog, about four minutes from my job. It had room for a vegetable garden, and I didn’t mind that it backed up to a battered alley, or that some of the houses around it weren’t nearly as well kept-up. I could relate; I could hardly call myself “handy,” and I wasn’t about to judge anyone else.

The house across the street, though, was at a different level of disrepair. Long ago, someone had planted two pine trees in the front yard. From that day to now, no one had so much as taken a set of clippers to them. They towered over the one-level house, and shed needles directly onto the sagging roof, their acids further corroding and staining the old roofing tiles.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Ask Ceil – You’ve Got Mail

by Ceil Kessler

Through The Elements

Dear Ceil,

Almost every day, the mail carrier brings me a pile of garbage mixed in with really, really important paperwork. Also, the important stuff looks JUST like the garbage. Also, I’m terrible at making decisions about what is garbage and what is important. Also, my mail now occupies four grocery bags.

Make it stop.

Overwhelmed in Ocala

Dear Overwhelmed,

When we are confronted by any problem, humans employ a “fight” or “flight” reflex. This was all very well and good when we were daily threatened by sabre-toothed tigers or very angry goats (sometimes they lunge). But today, our anxieties are centered around more benign threats: whether or not we’ll need a plumber soon, for instance, or if we truly have the correct cable package.

Or, how to deal with mail.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Ask Ceil – Mustache and Beard Edition

by Ceil Kessler


Dear Ceil,

I have a long, luxurious beard named “HR FluffNStuff”. I recently read that beards are almost past their “peak attractiveness”. Is there any way for me protect my face veil from shame?


Hirsute in Hempfield

Dear Hirsute,

Ah, yes. The fashion peak of facial hair. The worry of the woolly woebegone. The fear of the fleecy flocculent.


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