Postcard proseIssue 16 | October 2012

Mary’s Cruise

by Dan Nielsen

The discount tickets were a wedding present from her parents. When the engagement ended badly, Mary exchanged them for one first-class. 

A waiter named Carlos folded Mary’s napkin into a hat, put it on his head at a rakish angle, and did a suggestive dance. He then removed the napkin from his head and transformed it into a flower. He bowed and gave the napkin/flower back to Mary, the only woman without an escort at a table of middle-aged couples. Am I supposed to use this now? Mary asked.
Tim was the cruise comic. After his set, he sat beside to Mary at the bar. He told her about his Letterman appearance, a Stupid Humans Trick involving three miniature Frisbees.
I guess I missed that one, Mary said.
I have it on tape. If you want, we can watch it later in my compartment.
No thanks, Mary said.

Mary lay awake for hours. Finally, she dressed and went up on deck. She was completely alone. The moon was full, but fading, as a false dawn colored the horizon pink and violet. At a table with a linen tablecloth and an assortment of freshly baked rolls, Mary poured coffee, adding real cream and sugar. She chose a roll and broke it open. It was warm inside. The butter melted and pooled. 

About the author

Dan, like everyone, has recent publications, but for a change he’ll mention one oddity from his past—The Random House Treasury of Light Verse—where he shares a page with William Carlos Williams and John Updike. The story of how that happened is too long to include here.

Read our current issue:


Two poems by Anne Babson
Vignette, Townhouse, 9 a.m. by Troy Cunio
Night Becomes Day Over the West by Megan Foley
Yukon River Aurora by D. B. Goman
Two Poems by David Havird
Cretan Love Letter by Emily Linstrom
Holland by Rick Mullin
Fear in Kenya by Kristina Pfleegor
The Lounge Lizard by Ed Shacklee
Two Poems by Sarah J. Sloat
Night Flight by Vicki Stannard
Koinonia Farms by Alina Stefanescu
Thessaloniki, Four a.m. by Anastasia Vassos
Imaginary Oceans by Jason Warren
Two Poems by F. J. Williams

Postcard prose

It’s Salty by Kelly Hill

Travel notes

Anchorage in the Great Land by Karen Benning
The Value of Small Money by Megan Hallinan
Screensaver by Sandra Larson
Thirty Cents by Tommy McAree
Gokarna by Kate McCahill
Going Places by Rachel Miller-Howard
Susanville CA: Notes From The Road by Susan Volchok