Ranch House

A garden-variety ranch house on a street full of garden-variety ranch houses. His tidy room’s a refuge from dirty dishes, unmade beds, soiled laundry. Seated at his desk, door closed, he studies photosynthesis, marvels at light’s transformation into sustenance.

Muffled voices rise above a sitcom’s canned laughter. Footsteps echo down the hall.

“You don’t get me,” she says, walking past his bedroom

“I’ll return to counseling,” his father says.


Doors slam. An engine roars. Tires squeal. He imagines her Plymouth, speeding into darkness. Tastes metal. Returns to his books, to the ingenuity of plants, to the magic of light.

After teaching history at several universities, James Z. Schwartz moved to Evanston, IL, not far from Lake Michigan.

Photo Credit: Takashi Hososhima


6 Responses to “Ranch House”

  1. Charlie says:

    Love how the story contrasts the boy’s longing for knowable, certain things while living in a house filled with swirling emotions.

  2. Kirby Olson says:

    I like how the very normal world if the ranch house allows people to deal with strangeness of plants and humor.

  3. Janice says:

    Wonderful story –

  4. Marple says:

    Excellent story – such a world of detail in such a short paragraph. Genius!

  5. Jonathan says:

    It is, an entire world in miniature. A lovely contrast too between miniature worlds, between the plants the boy studies and the floundering, messier adult world beyond the door.

  6. P.J. says:

    Wonderful snapshot.

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