Nonfiction is content, sometimes presented in the form of a story, presented as truthful and accurate depictions of people or events. Using simplicity, clarity, and directness, the specific facts and assertions may or may not be true depending on the biases and preferences of the author, however, they are presented as empirically and historically factual.
Like fiction, it can take many forms. Journals, photographs, textbooks, travel books, blueprints, diagrams, biographies, memoirs, profiles, these are all forms of nonfiction prose. They tell of real people and real places. But there is something intangible about nonfiction as well. It is or can be depending on the razor-sharp wit, eagle eye, or discerning tongue, a moment of realization. It may tell simple truths or portray epic vistas. It is truthful but may not always be true. Nonfiction is subjective. It is the world as seen through the author's eyes. The truth as they see it.
We hope you enjoy the work of these talented authors. We applaud all of our contributors and encourage everyone to continue to follow their artistic and literary dreams. For those whose works we’ve selected, we hope this is just the beginning of an illustrious career in the arts.
by Frank Richards
I must be the Charlie Brown of writers because I’ve never been able to figure out what “style” is all about. What does that word, ‘style,’ mean? I’ve always had a problem with it. If there were such a thing as “styleblindness,” a disease like colorblindness, I’d be the first to test positive.
“But,” you say, “everyone knows what style is.” Wrong. Everyone thinks they know what style is. But when you ask them, no one can define style precisely. No one can tell it to you straight.
I first became aware of my deficiency back in grade school when I was learning to write long hand. I was the only left-handed kid in Miss Gorham’s third grade class. She tried to figure out how I was supposed to hold the paper and pencil so the page wasn't smeared. She kept changing my hand position on the desk until my arm curled around the paper like an upside down ‘G.’
The other kids laughed when they saw me writing. “Why are you holding your hand like that? Why is your paper upside down when you write?”
They thought it was funny. I didn’t. Long after they went out to the playground for recess, I was still hunched over my little desk, tongue sticking out of the corner of my mouth as my crabbed hand slowly but diligently moved my number 2 pencil across sheets and sheets of that brownish, newsprinty writing paper in the Chieftain tablet they...
by Paul McWilliams
Like the many millions that have come before you, and like the still many millions around you, you may find yourself facing both a troubled past and an uncertain future. Initially and unavoidably, both your past and your future need to be faced concurrently. In so doing, you may then successfully devise a mindset such that can foster your release from a debilitating past and your release into a functional future. This is the required work of growing up and becoming a mature and responsible adult. Along the way, you’ll likely find kind fellowship and aid, particularly if you’re earnest and tenacious.
People the world over spend countless hours, days, and even lifetimes lamenting the shortcomings inherent in a less-than-ideal childhood. As result, many people have resentments which smolder and burn, turning them into complexes more harmful and difficult to overcome than any of the original affronts. No doubt, irresponsible parents and teachers who neglected to truly guide and mentor their respective children or students have caused countless legions of young adults to falter and fail, often tragically, well before commencement into adult life. As unjust and despairing as this can be, eventually, one must take stock of one’s life and carry on.
The wise thing to do is to look back with a measure of both detachment and compassion, and then, with resolution, determine to make peace so that you may move on with living. Cultivating a forgiving disposition is paramount. This is easier said than...
by Penny Camp
What makes a place a home? I grew up on a small farm in Sunnyside, Washington, where my dad raised sheep and my mom took care of the house and yard. For almost twenty-two years I called this place home. But home wasn’t the location, Sunnyside. It was where my parents were. I moved in and out until I got married at twenty-five, but their house was still home. Even after being married twenty years, whenever I visited my parents, I would say I was going "home."
I did a Google search for “what makes a home.” The following are my favorites:
A home is any place where you are comfortable and feel as if you can be yourself.
A home is not a place; it’s a feeling.
A house is just a place with a roof, but a home is a place where you live, laugh, and feel comfort.
I lived in Baker City, Oregon, for twenty years. It’s where my husband and I moved in 1994 after getting married. We bought our first house a year later. It was old, built in 1901; small, barely 750 square feet; and needed some work. It wasn’t bank financeable because it didn’t have a foundation, so the previous owner had to hold the contract. We slowly turned it into a home. We painted walls and planted a lawn. Eventually, we put a foundation under the house and a new roof up top. We got to know our neighbors and...
by Sandra Niedzialek
I joined a writing critique group in the spring of 2019. I wanted to learn how to write both fiction and nonfiction. I was rather confident that I wouldn’t have any problems. How hard could it be after writing business letters and lesson plans for thirty years? Plus, I wanted to be a writer when I retired, so I was excited when I saw a posting for a writers' critique group in the area where I lived.
The first meeting was held at Hardees. It was a meet and greet to discuss goals and purpose. This was how I met Dorice Nelson. She was 89 years old and feisty. I thought she was more my age at first because she was vibrant, focused on the group, and professional. She and I had something in common. We had both been English teachers. She had published five books, and also did some editing for professional writers. She was clearly more experienced than me. The critique group assumed we would exchange work and give each other feedback. Dorice decided otherwise. It was all of us writing and she gave the feedback. After all, she was the published writer.
For our second meeting, I took a scene from a story I had written. Dorice told me I could not write that scene in first person. I asked why not? The rest of the meeting was a lesson for me about first person. The next meeting, she growled at me. I...
by Fran Schumer
The Corona virus presents new challenges. Stuck at home, and with more of us sleeping, eating and working here, and a dirtier house, I was finally going to have to figure out how to use my new vacuum cleaner. Ordered a year ago, it mostly sat in its box while I made do with sweeping and a little hand-held vacuum I'd bought for $19.99. At one point, I'd figured out the basics, how to plug it in and how to get the cord to fly back into its hard, sturdy self. But that was six months ago, and being of an age where I'd be triaged out if I had Covid-19 in Italy, I no longer remembered any of it. After coffee, I re-figured out how to plug it in and turn it on, but what about all these attachments? For some reason, the company had sent us additional accessories. No one in this house would ever be thorough enough to use them, I knew, and they only confused me.
"What do you suppose you use this for?" I asked my husband, waving a plastic wand with tentacles.
"I don't know," he said, looking up from his crossword puzzle (he, too, was working at home). "Try it."
After hours of Googling and YouTubes (men are the best at explaining household gadgets, I'd discovered, after Dad Cooks Dinner helped me figure out how to use an Instant Pot), I was actually vacuuming.
Frankly, it was fun. Having struggled...
by Brigitte Whiting
I understand a little bit about wild turkeys. They're on a constant hunt for food, drifting through the neighborhood scrounging what they can. But I don't know how it happens that a few will either be left behind by the flock or leave it. This past fall, I'd walk around the garage and before I even saw them, I'd hear their shrieks and the loud scuttle of their wings. They've remained in my neighborhood all winter, two toms and a hen.
At this point in early March, I view them as neighbors and look for what they're up to. They pick through the sunflower seeds that fall from the birdfeeders, and hunt throughout the yards for anything edible. A couple of times I've accidentally dropped a small chunk of suet and when I looked a short time later, it was gone, presumably snatched by a wild turkey
I try to figure out how close they are to each other. Wild turkeys take turns standing guard, remaining absolutely still for a few minutes before they move again, and that continues with the three. They'll fuss a bit with each other when one has found a good hunting spot. They fend for themselves, but seem to gain a sense of safety from being with the others. If I catch sight of one, I can be quite sure the other two are straggling somewhere not too far away.
About an hour before sunset, the three wander back into the trees, only...
by Penny Camp
Get up early. You can’t ride all day if you sleep in. Braid your hair tight — you don’t want it flapping in the wind. Make sure you don’t wear the undies with the seams down the back because after a long day of riding they will make your bum sore. If it’s hot, wear shorts under your gear. It’s nice to get the sweaty pants off when you take a break. Wear the comfortable boots you can walk in. You don’t know for sure that you’ll get a parking spot right outside of your destination. Make sure you bring a snack and some water. It’s nice to take a break and have something to eat. Bring a sweater or long sleeve shirt. The weather can change fast when you’re on a bike. Make sure you have rain gear. If you don’t, it will certainly rain. Always wear a scarf or bandanna around your neck. You don’t want a wasp stinging you in the gap between the helmet and jacket. Wasp stings hurt much more when you have to put your gear back on.
Check the air pressure in your tires before you leave. Top off the oil. Make sure everything is strapped down tight. Fuel up before you meet the group. Don’t be offended if the guys don’t want to ride behind you. They still don’t understand that women can ride just as fast as men. If you do beat them, don’t gloat too much.
by Penny Camp
Saturday mornings were special occasions at our house when we were growing up. My friends begged to spend the night so they could be part of the Saturday morning ritual.
Mom would take out her green plastic bowl and splash in a little water, a little cocoa powder, some flour and sugar, stir it all up, put it in a pan on the stove, and then add a little milk and stir some more.
While the cocoa was heating up, the soft dough biscuits were baking in the oven. She made them from scratch — no boxes or mixes.
When the cocoa was taken off the stove and the biscuits removed from the oven, we eagerly grabbed a biscuit and tore it into bite-size pieces. In our hurry to devour the world’s best breakfast, we'd burn our fingers. Mom would laugh and tell us to wait.
We smothered the torn-up bits of biscuit with cocoa and topped it all off with a pat of butter. The butter melted into the cocoa, leaving a yellow smear on top. If there was any cocoa left on the plate, we'd grab another biscuit and mop up the remaining cocoa with it.
Afterwards my friends would go home and tell their moms about the wonderful breakfast we'd eaten and beg them to make it. They'd call my mom for the recipe, but there wasn’t one. Mom learned to make it from my Dad’s Mom, and she didn’t have a recipe either. Mom...
by Holly Miller
When I was a child, my mom and Aunt Leona would pack us six kids into our blue Chevy Belair and drive to a local mobile home dealer (they were known as trailers back then). We would walk through the new homes, just for something to do. How I loved the new-home smell, the pristine floors, countertops, curtains, décor, and furniture. It was great fun to see the different options and imagine living in one of them. Since they were not connected to water and sewer, toilets were all taped shut so nobody would use them. When I became a mom, I enjoyed taking my own kids to the dealers to look at new trailers. Great, cheap fun.
Fast forward forty years to when my husband and I were looking at RVs. Our purpose then was less about entertainment and more about finding a suitable RV to live in with our one-year-old son while we toured the country. My husband had been saving for years for this day, when he could retire from a full-time busy medical practice and forty years of being on-call. I love to travel, but I wasn’t sure about leaving Lincoln County, Maine where I had spent my entire fifty-two years; and where our adult children, eight grandchildren, and my family of origin still lived.
Our first decision was choosing which type of RV would be most suitable for us. There are motorized class A, B, C and Super Cs. There are two options...
by Brigitte Whiting
Autumn is falling in Maine, harder this year than I remember over the last few falls. We've had two nights of close to freezing temperatures, not enough to ice over the birdfeeders or kill any of my plants yet, but cold enough to turn the furnace on. My red maple that overhangs the deck has several dozen bright red leaves—it teases me each year by starting out with completely red ones and then as the days move forward, other leaf edges are tinged with deeper reds, and the later leaves turn either burgundies or yellows.
Elsewhere, looking up into the trees, some of the maples are brighter maroons and others are dotted with yellow leaves. The colors change slowly—there are thousands of leaves on even a single tree and each one goes through the process. Photos and paintings try to capture the effect and they can, of masses of colors, but not the subtle tints happening from day-to-day. Some leaves are already freckled with fungi. The oaks, their leaves like large hands, are still green.
I had never experienced how amazing the fall colors were until my husband Bob and I moved to Maine. He grew up in Connecticut and Massachusetts. I grew up in southwestern Alberta where I noticed the pale blue asters and goldenrod blooming during the falls, but we had very few trees, and the willows along the creek went from dusty green to brown. When I was in fourth grade, my...
by Penny Devlin
Every year shortly before spring, the Gurney’s Seed & Nursery Co. catalog shows up on my doorstep. The cover is plastered with a WARNING label in big black letters informing me that if I don’t order now, this will be my last catalog. It also has coupons: $100 off with an order of $200 or more. Who can’t afford to save $100?
Being the good consumer that I am, I sit down with my catalog and start planning my garden for the summer. Have I ever successfully grown a garden? Nope. Will I be successful this year? Not likely. I start out with good intentions which quickly fade once the precious little seedlings sprout and are crowded out by weeds. Oh sure, the first dandelions pull out easily enough, but then life gets in the way, and by the time I remember to go outside and check the garden, the pesky invaders have turned into full-grown weeds and the precious Gurney’s seeds have all been choked to death. But I can grow a good weed!
I have even gone so far as to start the seedlings in the house weeks before planting them. I follow the instructions and spread the requisite number of seeds per square inch and make sure they have sunshine and warmth. They slowly break free from the soil and reach for the light. I wait until the last frost is past and transplant them outside, where they slowly die off and shrivel...
by Brigitte Whiting
Mornings, I like to have a Kindle eBook open on the dining room table so I can read and look out into the backyard to see what might be happening.
I live in a raised ranch with an attached two-car garage. My deck, which is off the kitchen and dining room, is built on the roof of the garage so it's anywhere from five to eight feet above the ground. It's accessible through a patio sliding door and by the exterior stairs. From where I sit at the dining room table, I'm facing east and looking out across the table and over the deck to the birdfeeders and the birdbath, and then outwards through my backyard trees to the horizon and the sky.
One morning this past January, when the sun didn't rise until after 7:00 a.m. and the ground was covered with snow, I was reading a part in Damon Knight's Creating Short Fiction in which he was talking about really paying attention to one's surroundings. He included an exercise to close the book and look carefully at everything around me.
I decided to do the exercise. I closed the cover on the Kindle and looked over my deck to a gray squirrel having breakfast at the green metal birdfeeder, and then beyond it into the winter-bare trees in my backyard where even the pines and spruces seemed nearly as empty as the maples and oaks. The sky was a bank of clouds, a layer of faded-indigo...
by Sarah Yasin
A book club I’m part of recently discussed The Ruins by Scott Smith. It’s not a book I would have finished reading based on the first 50 pages, but sticking with it afforded me insight into what a narrative voice can do. The story is about a group of young tourists who venture into an off-map area of an archeological dig in Mexico. They find themselves trapped, unable to move on because of guardsmen on horseback threatening them with arrows if they move down the path or retreat back. They are stuck there. Their problems increase when the vines around them gradually take on characteristics of mandrakes, drinking their bodily fluids and eventually speaking in human voices.
At no point was I personally afraid during the reading of this book, yet this is a good specimen of contemporary horror. Here are some qualities of the book which I laud in the horror genre:
• A slow burn.
• Misfortune meted out in proportion to vice and stupidity, and the age-old warning that sacred spaces should not be disturbed.
• An antagonist who does not communicate. This is extremely difficult to pull off, and arguably The Ruins does not pull it off, but think of the great horror villains who don’t speak: Michael Myers, Jason Vorhees, and the alien invaders from Independence Day.
• A progression of the enemy’s power which increases exponentially. At first the vines seem to move toward things, then they laugh, then they speak, ...
by Penny Devlin
Go to work every day. Do your job. Do it well. Always learning, getting better every day. Soaking in the letters that become words, that lead to success.
Meetings, instructions, to-do lists, directions — the words start to drown like a river of brown muddy water rushing through a gulley. Flash floods brought into the valleys by heavy spring rains. A flash flood of words. Gasping for air, bobbing along on the massive tumble of letters.
It starts as a trickle. Dad has cancer. Terminal. Plans, letters, research. More words. More letters. Finances, doctors, funerals. Burial, estate, inheritance. Even more words.
A period of peace. The flood recedes to a trickle. Breathe. Fresh and precious air. Take a vacation. No worries. All is well.
The words start rolling in again. Mom’s sick. Hospitals. Questions. Doctors. More words. Big words. Cholangiocarcinoma. More directions. More doctors. Again? The words blur. The water muddies. It rises quickly.
Doctors, emergency rooms, hospital beds. Medications. Lots of medications. Lots and lots of words. Pamphlets. Instructions. Directions. Special diets. Chemotherapy.
No more chemo.
Hospice. Rolling beds. Catheters. Doing things you never thought you’d have the strength to do — but you do them anyway. Big words. Lots of letters.
Keep swimming. Head above water. Gasp for air.
Funeral plans. Burial. One step forward, two steps back.
The words and letters are all jumbled. They make no sense. Can’t breathe. Gasping for breath. The words are all gone now. Just a blur. A pile of...
by Jen Lowry
On our homeschool adventure today, we dreamed aloud of the places we would travel to if we could. My kids and I agree: Ireland and Scotland are our top two places to visit. We played music from Spotify and sang aloud to the merry tunes of the Irish.
That somehow led us to talking about other places to travel to, and Canada came into the conversation. Memories flooded in of the summer after my eighth-grade year when my daddy loaded us up and we took a road trip. Yep, from our tiny town of Maxton, North Carolina.
That summer we drove all the way to Canada, listening to Marty Robbins the whole way.
I know every single lyric to “El Paso,” and will sing along with the best of ‘em.
“Out in the west Texas town of El Paso, I fell in love with a Mexican girl.”
Daddy had no plans. We had no hotel reservations because he wanted to ride like the wind. That made it really difficult when we rolled into town at the same time of the Dental Convention — yes, teeth. Dentists must have these meetings. I am witness. We just had his atlas and the greatest hits of Marty Robbins, an aggravating brother who complained at every stop, and me with my books piled at my feet on the floorboard.
When we made it to Canada, we stayed a whole of three hours. Yes, this is a true story. I do write fiction, ...
by Brigitte Whiting
I had no idea what milkweed looked like because I'd never seen it, but I'd always wanted it to grow in my yard so I could see the monarch butterflies.
For the longest time, I've hoped the patch of wonderfully fragrant plants with pale purple flowers growing at the intersection next to my yard would spread into mine. Once in a great while, one plant would start but never bloom, but this year, four planted themselves in my front yard, and three blossomed. One evening this past August while I was watering those and the wildflowers, I noticed the largest caterpillar I'd ever seen hanging onto the top leaf of that plant, a pale green one with dark rings. I wondered if it was perhaps a monarch caterpillar, but as far as I knew, I didn't have milkweed.
I looked it up, but I still wasn't sure. Two days later, it had turned into a pale-jade chrysalis that hung on the post of my new front railing. I mentioned it to my writer's group, and yes, those were milkweed, and yes, that was a monarch chrysalis. Twelve days later, it emerged as a butterfly.
More caterpillars, sometimes three munching on the same leaf, ate, and grew, and two of those made their way to my front porch. Another six found any one of the thousands of available spots in my woodsy front yard, and I didn't see them again.
One chrysalis dropped off its silk hitch, ...
by Brigitte Whiting
The monarch caterpillar couldn't decide where to turn itself into a chrysalis. He wandered across my front stoop so many times I was afraid I'd step on it so I stopped using the front door. One time, he'd be crawling up a post of the front railing. Another time, he'd be on the bottom doorsill. In the end, after two days of deciding, he clung to the bottom corner of the doorsill. From there he pulled himself together until his dark rings were almost side-by-side.
When I next saw him, his chrysalis had dropped an inch to the cement stoop below. I moved him, his body still soft, as carefully as I could with a maple leaf so I couldn't possibly step on him. I hoped for the best.
That was on August, the thirteenth.
The night of August 19th, it rained hard. The next morning, I looked out as I often did, and his chrysalis was gone. I saw, though, an inch-long furry creature, the same jade color and length as the chrysalis had been, lying on a mat. He'd been in the chrysalis for seven days, and changed from a smooth round caterpillar with evenly-spaced dark rings into something fuzzy with dark spots down his spine. Monarchs are poisonous for most creatures, and elsewhere on the mat was a dead beetle that, I assumed, destroyed the chrysalis covering. I moved the entire mat to a safer spot, and hoped for the best.
Three hours later, a...
by Angela Hess
I am twisted, bent, and deformed on every side. Everyone trying to use me to serve their own purposes, to justify their own beliefs and actions. Their eyes constantly sliding away from my pure, unaltered form, too brilliant and painful to behold without their chosen filters to dim the bits of me they find troubling. The bits that undermine their view of themselves and their self-constructed world. I destroy all the constructs, cut through all the deceptions, lay them naked and exposed.
I find myself perpetually unwelcome. Few can tolerate the discomfort of my presence. And yet I shine forth, inviting the most courageous to look, to see, to be transformed themselves rather than constantly fighting to transform me. I am the painful path to deliverance, joy and peace. Few there be that choose this path. Few there be that can even see through their own tangled webs of deception to find it. They fear to be ensnared by me, but in reality, they are the ones that ensnare themselves, and I am the one that sets them free.
Bio: Angela discovered her passion for writing nonfiction when she started a blog after the birth of her first child as a creative outlet and a way to process this new stage in her life. Writing keeps her sane in this crazy stage of mothering multiple small humans. She has previously published in Village Square and the Ensign.
by Brigitte Whiting
On a Monday afternoon, I carried a bucket of water outdoors to refill the birdbath. A male goldfinch jumped down from the bath’s rim, and hopped away as quickly as he could to creep beneath a nearby spruce branch. I thought how odd he was so unafraid.
Over the next days, he hopped about pecking for seeds and insects in the front and back yards, and crouched on the edge of the birdbath, lifting and shrugging his wings, and then lowering them, wondering perhaps what was amiss. His bright yellow chest feathers turned dusty and dull — he must have longed to bathe. Somehow, he got himself to the top wire of one of the tomato cages I’d set over the taller wildflowers to protect them from the deer, and from there, he reached for the black-eyed Susan’s seed-head.
Each morning, I wondered if he’d survived the night. I wanted to rescue him — he was so quick that was unlikely — and I learned he’d dislocated his shoulder, and even if the wing was reset, he’d never fly again. It seemed cruel to cage him.
On Sunday afternoon, a week after I’d first noticed him, he was perched on a wire cage in the front yard. Then, other goldfinches flew in to join him and sat on the surrounding tomato cages. Somehow, I knew they’d come to say their good-byes. My windows were shut so I couldn’t hear whether they chirped...
by Angela Hess
What does a hero look like?
George Bailey is a hero.
George Bailey dreamed of traveling the world.
George Bailey gave up his dreams to care for his family and community.
Rudy left his family and community to pursue his dreams.
Rudy fulfilled his dream of playing football for Notre Dame.
Rudy is a hero.
Heroism looks like
Sacrifice. From the Latin
My husband had been chasing his dream of becoming a pilot for many years when I first met him. Already in possession of his private pilot license, he spent the first year of our marriage continuing his work towards his commercial license. We were poor college students though and couldn’t afford to pay for the actual flight hours he would need to get his commercial license. We needed a loan. And to get the loan, we needed a co-signer.
My parents would have co-signed, but they were in a bad financial situation themselves. My husband was reluctant to ask his parents, but I pressured him until he gave in and called them. His dad invited us over to their home to discuss the matter.
I remember the scene vividly. ...
by Luann Lewis
Another rejection letter and I feel like a loser. Yeah, I know, I’m not trying to make a living doing this. I even claim to be “writing for myself.” But we all want validation and, let’s face it, us writers want readers. So here I sit, at my “writer’s desk,” a little desk that I slid over in front of our balcony window. It is here that I sometimes write, sometimes stare outside, but sometimes simply let my eyes fall on the magazines poking out from next to my binders. Those thin and shiny magazines with little known names have published my stories and sit there to remind me that occasionally (and only occasionally) my work appears someplace.
This desk is so tiny that these things are right up in my face. It’s not annoying, it’s cozy. Isn’t that what we say about
by Janet Harvey
In June, I will expect to find my special place in Townsville, Queensland. Last year it was in Darwin, Northern Territory, and today my place is in Hobart, Tasmania.
We live in a truck, a 2004 Isuzu 350NPR turbo automatic to be specific. On this
In this space, in the walk-around queen-sized bed, my husband lies sleeping. He fell heavily to the concrete slab floor of a fishmonger a few weeks ago—there was no handrail. With a cracked lumbar vertebra and soft tissue damage, my precious spouse spent over a week in the hospital. He can't lift anything heavier than a beer; he can't twist or turn easily. The strong painkillers are still necessary and he sleeps two or three times during the day. I try not to worry.
My stash of yarns, a kaleidoscope of brightly
by Brigitte Whiting
This past summer and fall upturned me. The birdfeeder, usually so generous, abdicated her job, and I had to scrounge for food during the long wet season. My mother told me it was unusual to have such a rainy August and October. She would know. I was born in mid-spring so I could only know what I lived with now. It was hot, or it rained, or it was cold.
I was still just a kid, so I played with my siblings. We red squirrels enjoyed romping and chasing each other through dark tunnels and around tree trunks while our mother watched us from a low tree branch or sat in the grass.
Then one day, she told us, "It's time for you to fend for yourselves. Snow and cold will soon be here. We reds need to eat every day so we must store food. Find a home and make it snug and dry using leaves." She looked up and around at the grass
She continued. "If you use your noses and eyes, you'll find acorns under the leaves. Bury as many of those as you can but remember where you put them. You'll be glad you did when it gets cold."
I shivered at the thought of cold air and I balked at
by Joy Manné
This essay is part of a Talk-Back series – I owe that title to Karen. A Talk-Back is my response to a chapter in a WVU textbook, my communication with its author.
This Talk-Back is a response to the exercise in Lia Purpura’s chapter, ‘On Miniatures,’ (Flash-Non-Fiction, Rose Metal Press, p.4-5) where the instructions are ‘Take an essay you’ve been working on and read it aloud to yourself in a fresh place. Reading in the car at a red light … In a coffee shop (best in another country) … In a library …’
You instruct me to take one of my essays to a completely new and unfamiliar space and once there, to read it aloud to myself and note what strikes me.
But I do not know how to write an essay in Flash Non-Fiction. I’ve written many essays in my time: school essays, university essays, reaction and response essays, articles on various subjects including Conscious Breathing
‘Take your essay,’ you command me, as if I have many of these WIPs lying on my desktop, or in desk drawers, or on the floor under my computer, or on the...
by Lina Sophia Rossi
“Why the F--- Do I want to see
The last time I hung out with my Uncle Dan is when I dragged him to Gatorland to do something touristic. He flew down from NYC to Orlando, FL to visit me for about a week. Time flies as they say and he was going to fly back the next day. He was a recent widower and had just had a lobectomy for lung cancer. I felt bad, I was working a lot and all he wanted to do was hang out in a bar restaurant. Uncle Dan was a dead ringer for Humphrey Bogart.
He was my father’s mother’s brother. My father was very close to him. Uncle Dan and his wife, Aunt Nellie (for Immaculata), were my brother’s Godparents. Uncle Dan was in the Navy, like my dad and my brother. Uncle Dan served in WWII. For a social studies project in junior high, I interviewed him and his brother, Pat (Pasquale) who was in the Army, about their WWII service. Uncle Dan was a gunner’s mate on the Navy cruiser USS Canberra, which was torpedoed during the aerial battle of Taiwan-Okinawa. The ship took on water from a blast in the hull and he had to drag dead sailors who were sleeping in their barracks out. I guess he was a bit shell-shocked, but nothing...
by Angela Hess
“Does he look at you?”
My cousin’s innocent question triggers a flashing red warning light in my brain. My baby doesn’t look at me. I assumed he was too young still, but my cousin’s baby is only four days older than mine, and they are already getting smiles from him. My baby is a week shy of two months. I know what the doctor will ask me at his two-month check-up: does he make eye contact? And I know the diagnosis they will start watching for if I say no.: Autism.
My brother is autistic. My husband managed several group homes. I did respite work with a young man with Down syndrome. We are not strangers to the world of individuals with disabilities. But as I stare at my baby with his thick dark hair and his big blue eyes staring off into the distance, willing him to look at me, that word looms large in my mind, taking on substance, and as the reality of it hits me, I feel myself emotionally withdrawing from him. As if an autism diagnosis would make him less worthy of my love. As if he and his life would be of less value with that label attached to them. And I know, whether my child is autistic or not, I need to work through these thoughts and feelings. Unravel the tangled web of my subconscious thoughts to discover the triggers for my emotional withdrawal. The...