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 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...
Read more: A River of Words
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, ...
Read more: Canada, Marty, and The Exorcist
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, ...
Read more: Monarch Butterflies
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...
Read more: A Monarch Chrysalis
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.
Read more: Truth
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...
Read more: The Goldfinch
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.
Sacrifice. From the Latin sacer (sacred, holy) + faciō (do, make). To make holy.
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. ...
Read more: Of Heroes and Holiness
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. Next to those are four binders full of stories, some published, some not, that I’ve printed out — just in case. Just in case the world explodes and there is no Internet left, no cloud, or all of my devices go down at once and refuse to come up. Or more likely just in case I die and nobody knows my passwords.
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 uncomfortablysmall stuff? We say that when other people find it uncomfortably small but we love it. My desk is cozy. Strewn across the tiny area are various objects: a cross...
Read more: My Desk
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 truck chassis is built our motorhome of fiberglass, timber, metal, plastics, and toughened glass. Living permanently on the road helps my ex-soldier to sleep—it reins in his PTSD just a little, as does humour. There is a large, black toy spider perched on the flywire window screen over the kitchen sink that we finally named yesterday. Say g'day to Hubert.
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 coloured wool, is stored under that bed. I knit and crochet especially when I am stressed; I have made cat toys and dishclothsand hats...
Read more: My Mobile Space
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 which was now covered with leaves.
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 the idea of finding my own nest. My mother's had been warm and inviting but now she bared her big front teeth and...
Read more: A Red Squirrel's Narrative
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
Techniques, PhD papers in Buddhist Texts and Psychology. But what you mean is a FnF essay: ‘writing that is intimate and mysterious and compelling too, on an idea or topic in which I will measure myself anew’. You, oh Lia, want an ambitious work that demands attention.
‘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...
Read more: Talk-Back, Dear Lia, on FnF
by Lina Sophia Rossi
“Why the F--- Do I want to see a F—ing alligator jump up to eat a F—ing chicken hanging on a clothesline?”
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...
Read more: Reunion
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...
Read more: A Fear of Broken Things
by Louise E. Sawyer
It is a joy to hold a lovely scene, a delightful moment, in memory.
Frank was four and I was five and getting ready to start school when Dad and Mom moved us into a new house on Glasgow Avenue—a three-bedroom home that wasn't quite finished—in a suburban area of Victoria on Vancouver Island. It was very exciting because we moved next door to Grannie Price and our aunt Lil. About two years later, Aunt Lil married Uncle Rod and their first daughter, Barbie, was born.
I remember we three kids, toddler Barbie, my brother Frank, and me, sitting beside Grannie on the couch, listening to Winnie the Pooh stories told in Grannie's Pooh voice, Piglet voice, and Eeyore voice. Oh, do we remember Eeyore whom Grannie loved to mimic at any time during the day? "Somebody must have taken it." How like them." "If it is a good morning, which I doubt." "We can't all, and some of us don't."
We enjoyed the neighborhood of middle-class families with backyard gardens, a Scout hall next door, cats and dogs, a vet family down the street, and neighbors across from us who owned a black-and-white TV. We never had a TV in that house. I grew up with stories, books, comics, music lessons, and church, and playing on the street!
As children, we happily roamed the street with wagons, roller skates, stilts, bikes, and snakes. Yes, the boys loved to scare me by throwing...
Read more: Wild Roses Growing in the Ditch
by Albert Orjuela
At some point, everything comes to an apex. Status quo can only persist for so long before the natural balance of the universe calls for consumption, and then it all comes down to a choice. That’s it, a lone decision that ultimately leads down a pathway to a higher level or otherwise ends in destruction. The evolution of everything can be traced back to that specific point in time, the single particular moment where a decision must be made. Whether it is decided using a refined skill or purely on the basis of intuition, the consequence is being eaten instead of eating. And this is that moment for me.
Billions of years ago, there was an instant that ultimately resulted in the creation of the human race. 200,000 years of good choices and human civilization has not only continued, we’ve flourished. Great things have been accomplished, and we’ve grown so much… possibly too much. On a cosmic scale, we quickly arrived at what may be our pinnacle. Because the outcome of this moment will determine if everything we’ve ever done in our history has value or, instead, becomes completely meaningless. Either the last few hundred millennia have been a complete waste of time or the universe, as we know it, will continue to exist (at least for another moment). As what happens right here, after this very second, could undo the very nature of time and destroy the fabric of space.
My wife said...
Read more: Hazardous Happenings
by Carolann Malley
Sending your writing out into the world can be scary whether you write poetry, fiction, or nonfiction. But, at some point, if you are a serious writer, you will do it. Getting a rejection letter back can be more devastating than asking a girl out as a teenager and being turned down or sitting at a dance with no partner—all night. It can make you doubt yourself, but it shouldn’t.
I’ve been on both sides of the publishing fence. I’ve written poetry and sent it out hoping some editor would like my poems and decide to publish them. I have submitted work which was accepted on the first submission. I have submitted work which was rejected by one journal and accepted by another, and I’ve sent out work to have it turned down by journal after journal. I’ve also been the poetry editor for a literary journal and made the decision about whose poem to publish from the thousands received. Along with that responsibility came the job of sending out those dreaded rejection letters. At times, I rejected poems that I loved because the journal just didn’t have the space for one more poem.
Based on my experience as a poet, fiction writer, nonfiction writer, and as a poetry editor and writing teacher, I sometimes give advice to friends, associates, and students who become discouraged when they send out their work only to have it rejected.
Don’t feel bad when you receive your first, second, ...
Read more: Dealing with Rejection
by Brigitte Whiting
I took an hour to walk outdoors in my yard, first to clip dead honeysuckle branches, pluck dandelions, and then to fill the birdbaths and feeders. And to ponder what to write about one of my backyard neighbors, the gray squirrel, Sciurus Carolineses. Its name is derived from the Greek words skia meaning shadow and oura for tail—it sits in the shadow of its tail—unless it's somehow lost its bushy tail. One of my current squirrels lost his last winter and has only a tuft left but manages quite well in getting enough to eat.
Gray squirrels live either in dens, holes in living trees woodpeckers have abandoned, or nests—drays—they build in the forks of trees using twigs and dry leaves. Their work of upkeep continues year-round. One winter day, I jammed my snow shovel into a section of torn carpet on the deck and wondered how I'd cut it, but later, I happened to notice a squirrel ripping and tugging the carpet for chunks to line her nest. During cold winter spells, several squirrels may share a nest for warmth. Otherwise, an individual squirrel or a mother with her young—she has one or two litters with three or four kits a year—lives there.
Squirrels are inquisitive and aware of their surroundings. Anytime I move a chair or add a feeder on the deck, they'll slink to each changed item, sniffing it, and creeping in closer to examine it until they deem it harmless.
Read more: Backyard Neighbors
by Angela Hess
My four-year-old son has a friend over. I overhear my son’s friend tell my two-year-old daughter, “Gracie, you can’t come in here.” Then my son’s voice: “It’s okay, she can play with us. Here, Gracie,” he says, presumably handing her one of the toys they are playing with. My mama heart swells with pride and love at the kindness and generosity of this gesture, and I wonder how much longer this innocent willingness to include his little sister in his games with his friends will last, how much longer before peer pressure teaches him it’s not cool to bring his little sister along to play, how much longer before his loyalty to his friends outweighs his loyalty to his siblings.
It’s my senior year of high school. My sister is a sophomore, two years younger than me, and struggling with friends. My mom suggests that my sister sitwith me and my friends during school lunches. My sister appears at the bench-encircled tree that my friends and I have claimed as our lunch-eating territory. She doesn’t say much, and I don’t say much. We eat our food; I talk to my friends. I belong to this group of friends, but I am not its leader. I don’t know if we have a leader. We’re just a group of people with varied ties to one another who congregate at the same place for lunch each day. We are not the popular kids. Some of us are smart, some...
Read more: Betrayal
by Angela Hess
I can hear my parents’ raised voices upstairs. They are fighting again. I turn on the sink faucet, letting the sound of the running water drown out their voices. I thrust my hands in the nearly scalding hot water and methodically scrub each dish in the sink and load it in the dishwasher. Then I do the hand wash, soaking, scrubbing, rinsing, drying, and carefully putting away each piece. The ritual of tidying up the kitchen eases my anxiety about my parents’ argument. I can’t stop them from arguing, but I can make our home a cleaner and more pleasant place to live in hopes of soothing the frustration and hurt feelings.
My dad always occupies himself with something after a fight to let off steam. My mom usually cries. When I hear my dad turn on the TV, I creep upstairs. My mom is sitting on the floor in her room, back against the wall, knees drawn up to her chest, wiping at the tears streaming down her face. I slowly and carefully seat myself on the floor in front of her, my chin resting on my knee. I wait for her to talk. I don’t remember what their fight was about; I just remember that my mom needed someone to listen and validate her thoughts and feelings. I listened. She needed someone to reassure her that it was my father that was being unreasonable, not her. I reassured her.
One time I was...
Read more: The Weight of Emotions
by Brigitte Whiting
I'm sorry that I hadn't thought of how I would take care of a puppy. It had seemed like a good idea, accept the gift of a puppy from acquaintances. She had the coloring of a coyote and was named Brindle for those tawny markings. I'd never had a dog before. Growing up, my family had only cats, mousers. But I hadn't wanted to say no to this cute little dog.
So I brought her into my rented single-room cottage and left her there most of the day while I went to college classes. I taught her the basic tricks: beg, roll over, sit, and she learned each of them in a single lesson. After we got through the newspaper training period, she held her bladder until I got home.
I drove a white '54 Chevy with an automatic transmission, a car that when I first bought it for $75 leaked oil so badly I wasn't allowed to park it on friends' paved driveways. It turned out it had an oil pan leak that was easily fixable. The car lumbered around corners but it was transportation to and from school and work. I took Brindle in it on errands, to the grocery store where several times a stocking clerk tapped me on the shoulder to tell me my dog was inside, and I'd chase her back outside and instruct her to go back to the car, but as I made my rounds pushing the...
Read more: An Apology
by Louise E. Sawyer
It was Christmas Day 1950 and my sixth birthday. Under the tree was an unusually long, large box with my name on it. I was excited to open it. I couldn’t wait. When I finally did, I was amazed to look upon the most gorgeous doll I’d ever seen. She was 24” long, like a three-month-old baby, and I gently drew her close to my chest. I adopted her immediately as my baby.
My doll had wavy and curly brown hair. Her smile was painted on her face but her blue eyes blinked. She cried like a baby when I picked her up. I was thrilled to the depth of my being. I felt a sense of oneness and a desire to care for my baby with her soft cloth body and her tiny hard fingers and toes.
Her name was Baby Precious.
The gift was supposed to be special. My grandmother, aunt, and uncle-to-be gave the doll to me because they realized life was changing for them. My aunt and uncle-to-be were planning to get married the next year. Indeed, they did, and there is a photo of me with my hair in pin curls and I’m holding Baby Precious. I was getting ready as a junior bridesmaid to wear my long turquoise dress and lead the wedding procession down the aisle of our chapel.
Baby Precious was my most precious possession as a child but what I didn’t know was that she would provide emotional...
Read more: Baby Precious
by M Clare Paris
I think about death quite a bit. Not morbidly, nor do I worry about what happens when one dies. Although I enjoy a spiritual life, I am also philosophical about the end of my life. If there is something else, it will be darned interesting. If there isn’t, I won’t know or care! Most of my concerns have to do with my beloved family I will leave behind.
I have a kind of cancer that keeps on giving. I am presumed free of cancer at the moment, but even that is not certain. Since it could crop up in any organ, but scans only see down to a certain size, a new bit could be incubating. And while we will certainly fight it for as long as is reasonable, it is also reasonable to assume that, at some point, either I will become tired of the fight or it will overwhelm all defenses.
I’m not being negative, here. But I maintain my right to be aware and practical and real about my prognosis. In the meantime, I am doing my best to really enjoy my life, especially by spending time with my mother, my grown daughters, my grandchildren, and my husband. Even those opportunities are sometimes curtailed by complications in my health care.
The things I am concerned with are these: I worry that my girls won’t have the answers they crave when they think of half-remembered stories of my life and theirs,and that I will...
Read more: Downsizing
by Louise E. Sawyer
My father, Thomas George Sawyer, was absent at my birth and absent the first seven months of my life.
It was Christmas Eve 1944 at the two-story white house on Beechwood Drive-my Grannie’s house in Victoria, the capital city of British Colombia on Vancouver Island. Grannie Price, my mother Ethel, and my aunt Lil invited my father’s sister-in-law Margaret and her two girlies, Betty and Peggy, over for dinner to celebrate Christmas together, since Ethel’s husband Tom and Margaret’s husband Bill were officers in the Canadian Air Force in England.
I'm sure the women were dressed in their best dresses, skirts, and sweaters, complete with brooches. And the two little girlies looked cute with their curly hair and party dresses. Grannie was hosting the meal and handed bowls of food to her daughters, Ethel and Lilian, as she scooped up mashed potatoes and gravy from the pots on the wood stove.
It was a somber time for everyone with the men gone. Who knew what was happening to them each day and what the future would bring? It was all so secretive. The wives knew nothing concerning the details. Where were they right now? Were they on a bombing mission? But my Grannie and her daughters did their best to entertain their guest and her little children. I'm sure they served up smiles and laughter as they all settled down to eat.
My mother, Ethel Louise, was big with child, due on New Year’s Day, and did her best...
Read more: Absent But Present
by Brigitte Whiting
I'm always looking for ideas to use in writing: for that prompt at which I first gulp and then slowly retrieve some thread of an idea, for the poem I need for the Monday morning poetry group, for an essay that's due in two days.
I've heeded artists' advice and taken excursions. To art galleries. On field trips to museums, a cruise on Lake Winnipesaukee, to a playhouse. Infrequent flights out West when I peered down at meandering rivers, knobby mountain ranges, the scattered lights of tiny towns on a vast dark prairie and wished I knew where I was on the map.
When I've walked through nearby state parks or parked at the lake, I've pondered which words to use to describe the settings. Later, what I remembered were the brilliant red maple leaves carpeting the dry grey sand and a red squirrel quarreling with me over an acorn. And sitting on a green bench set along what used to be the tramline to the Poland Spring Inn when a midsize dog jumped up next to me, its toenails clicking on the boards, its owner not far behind. "Pay attention," I'd reminded myself after that.
I'd gone on one field trip in which the drive through western Maine and into New Hampshire was one my husband and I had taken many times but this time the route seemed unfamiliar and I'd wished I'd brought a map—wherever we'd driven, I was always the copilot with...
Read more: Gathering: A Contemplative Essay
by Brigitte Whiting
Last spring, a wild turkey hen incubated her eggs for twenty-eight days. When they hatched, she scrambled to keep up with them. Poults to scientific literature. Babies to her. She didn't need to teach them to scratch for bugs—they came with that instinct. Nighttimes during their first four weeks, she sheltered them in their nest on the ground to protect them from predators and the weather.
She'd started with a dozen poults. Some were stolen by coyotes and raccoons, others died from cold rainy weather, and now she had four. For protection, she banded with two hens and their broods into a flock of twelve.
Each day they walked through the woods and yards searching for food. Beneath some birdfeeders, they scratched through sunflowers shells for kernels and insects. "I remember," she said, "when pickings were easy here. Alas, a tom broke the birdfeeder and the freebies ended. Still…" She looked each poult straight in the eye. "Remember where you find food. And see those pines. Soon you'll roost in them."
"I wish I could fly now," her oldest poult said, and took off running, its still-short neck pulling it forward, its stubs of wings flapping, its thin legs running, but no lift-off.
"Wait a few days," she said.
Mornings and afternoons, she, the other two hens, and their nine poults scratched through the grasses and mosses, nipped leaves, and swallowed last year's acorns and seeds whole. When they moved from one yard...
Read more: Seasons in a Wild Turkey Hen's Life
by Joy Manné and Karen Barr
Teacher – Karen Barr
Student – Joy Manné
WELCOME TO WEEK 8 OF SUBTEXT.
There is no word count, but the challenge is to get all ten types of subtext in as few words as possible. Here they are:
Show don’t Tell:Using emotions and motivations indirectly and concisely, either by behaviors, body language, suggestive dialogue, internal thoughts or setting clues. The 2. Unspeakable:A complex set of desires and fears that can’t be efficiently described, a pileup of emotions that resists easy articulation. 3. Mania: An emotional overinvestment in any object that can’t possibly give back what the individual wants from it. 4. Wrecked by success: What if wishes and fantasies turn out more powerful than their real-life satisfactions? 5. Unthinkable thought: A thought that threatens a character’s entire existence, it is subversive and is thought of, but gets pushed out of the mind. You can think anything you wish, but you can’t always say aloud what you really crave or desire, sometimes for whatever reason, it’s just unmentionable. 6. Denial: A chaotic way of not hearing dangerous or intolerable information. 7. Indifference-Unhearing: It is not a form of denial but a kind of psychic impermeability, a mode where nothing gets through—an unattended switchboard. In this mode, the pain of others becomes bothersome, an annoyance. 8. Filtering: In the era of multi-tasking, people probably talk more and listen less than they ever did. Talk is cheap and has been for some time, ...
Read more: Lesson in Subtext
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