Eating the Leaves

[fiction] She starts training for everything at once: motherhood, the apocalypse, a local 5K. The Pulitzer-winning earthquake that promises to obliterate the Pacific Northwest. A high-altitude decathlon. North Korea. She stops drinking (but still drinks some, because obviously the world is terrible and who can bear it?), stockpiles prenatals, buys new shoes. Functional shoes. She […]

Unreliable Objects

[creative nonfiction] July 4, 1976. Our town parade, when everything waves—beauty queens and politicians sprouting from convertibles washed and dried in the street with soft rags the night before, Betsy Ross flags nodding off porches. Firemen’s kids pelt non-firemen’s kids with hard candy, sirens moan, only this time, nobody’s hurt. Everyone still smokes. And later, […]

Lookin’

[creative nonfiction] New in Indianapolis and recently divorced, Charles went out to Madame C. J. Walker’s Ballroom in 1942. He heard it was the place for Negroes to mingle. On a mission to find a nice colored girl to start over with, he straightened his tie before following the music up the stairs. There he […]

The Girl Who Will Fly

[fiction] My daughter, the ballerina, has a mane, thick as a horse’s, and bronze from two weeks ago, when she dyed it. It’s impossible to get the whole thing in your hands. Delicate flyaway strands escape my fingers. She sits on a stool I have wedged in the bathroom. A ray of sun lights up […]

You Will be Saved

[creative nonfiction] for Rose Williams Close-cropped curly hair, pitted, blueberry skin—my first reaction was dread, with my incipient bias spluttering warnings: They are all violent. All a bit crazy. Stay away. We ignore each other—I huddled by the corner grading answer sheets while you ruled a coterie of veterans of shelters, prisons, rehabs, halfway houses. […]

Getting Away

[fiction] I whizz by houses in my old neighborhood at such a speed that they are just a blur to me. The sirens are blaring from behind, getting closer and closer. I kick my piece-of-shit Dodge into fourth gear and push the accelerator to the floor. There’s a jolt and it feels like we’ve jumped […]

Spark

(after Wilkins)

What I remember is walking inside the house, being asked if I wanted a drink. It may have been Pabst or Natural Ice or Bud Light or Budweiser or Corona. I don’t know. I don’t know what I drank. I’m sure now that we talked, in a group or alone. I can hear myself laughing, full throated and boundless. We might have played dominoes smacking them onto the wooden kitchen table or knocking with our knuckles when we had no bone to play.

What I remember is nothing, nothing and then the wall near the bed, pale and cold, staring at my face partially submerged in dark sheets. Eyelids weighted by mascaraed lashes, I looked at the white wall and waited.

When My Mother Held the Sears Door Open for Me

[creative nonfiction] I wanted to follow my brothers and sisters through. I did not mean to walk into the glass door beside the open one. My body, though slight, could not slip between its molecules; I shattered that crystal barrier. I created the shards that brought the pain and the blood drops and the shame. […]

Hard Winter

[fiction] Cheryl’s bones cracked as she leaned back into her chair, the bent wood snapping and sagging under worrisome weight. John hadn’t come up the back stairs yet, leaning himself on the peeling, metal railing as he dragged his lumbering feet. She had listened for those familiar footsteps, straining her good ear in the direction […]