Karen E. Bender is the author of the novel Like Normal People (Houghton Mifflin), and co-editor of the anthology Choice (MacAdam/Cage). Her stories have appeared in The New Yorker, Granta and Zoetrope, and have been anthologized in Best American Short Stories and the Pushcart Prize anthologies. She teaches creative writing at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington.

The Memorial

We found out over the phone, while on vacation. The housesitter called us to tell us that he was at the animal hospital back home with our cat, Smokey. And then he put the vet on the line. We heard about age-related kidney disease, complete renal failure. We learned that medication and intravenous fluids might help keep him alive another month—or maybe just another week.

My Fear of the Rabbi

We see Rabbi X. walking down the streets of our small Southern city, and we see others staring at him. He wears the outfit of…

On Prayer

A friend of mine just left her husband. She told me that she had been unhappy in the marriage for a long time but couldn’t…