Creative Nonfiction

NO EASING INTO IT by Lori Yeghiayan Friedman

November 7, 1994: I sat on William and Luke’s bed, listening to the ring, ring in my ear, each ring getting fainter like a distant alarm. I was about to hang up when someone answered—a man. “Hello,” he said, startled, like maybe I’d woken him up.  “Hi,” I said into the receiver of the beige rotary phone on my lap. I scanned The Yellow Pages opened next to me on the faded maroon bedspread. I checked the ad: Did I get the number right? I looked out their bedroom window and up at the night sky: What should I say?

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SECONDARY PROBLEM by Kate Lindstedt

Tell your mother you are going to see a movie. Ride with Hannah in her gold Honda Accord to the liquor store on Harrison, the one that doesn’t card. Watch the sun skirt behind clouds while she buys a handle of Malibu. Fling ping pong balls into cups of Tecate at Chloe Peralta’s house. Take shots of blue liquor until the night whirls in your stomach. Wake up crying on shag-carpeted stairs because out of everyone here you will be the last to find love. When your mom asks how the sleepover was, say it was fun. *** Fly 2,586

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THE PULL by Ann Kathryn Kelly

I’ve felt the pull for years, to see what’s out there, how it differs from what I understand of the world. I’ve traveled distances to feed the pull. One destination, while still in the planning, thrilled me. Africa’s “Big Five” beckoned: lion, leopard, elephant, rhino, buffalo. I had my telephoto lens and a new bush hat—wide-brimmed, khaki-colored, with proper ventilation at the crown.  I pushed aside months of gripping headaches and growing fatigue, instead buying airfare, getting vaccinations. Nothing was going to sideline me. “You have a cavernous angioma.”  I looked at the doctor in his white lab coat with

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FRAGMENTS by Chelsea Plunkett

I. My mother tastes like the peanut butter sandwiches she made when I refused a homemade meal, Chai-spiced tea to soothe bronchitis, and a sprinkle of powdered sugar on brownies and banana bread. Her taste is stolen bites of cream cheese mixed with sugar as we make pumpkin cheesecake, steady instructions for achieving the streusel on sweet potato casserole, and chocolate frosting on birthday cakes.  In the time of new prescription refills, when she sleeps for days on end, sugar and fat dance on my tongue. It’s a momentary high from stolen food to fill an emotional void, whole boxes

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SATURDAY NIGHT (AT THE ER) by Fran-Claire Kenney

Trigger Warnings: anxiety, mental illness, self-harm, suicide At best (at first), it feels like mooching off. There are all these kids in the pediatric ward with oxygen masks gripping their faces like leeches, or their scalps shiny against the fluorescents, or their parents sitting watch in a casually tragic state of exhaustion next to big beds containing little, broken people. And there I am, looking twenty-one though I’m actually not, and I’ve got, wait for it, anxiety. Everybody says they have anxiety. People don’t just say they were in a crash and felt each rib snap under the car door.

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I DIDN’T MEAN TO WRITE THIS. by Susan Rukeyser

I meant to write about young environmental activist Greta Thunberg and her impact, how she was received on her recent visit to the US. I loved how uncomfortable Greta made the “grown-ups,” including me. I was dismayed and unsurprised by the sexism chucked at her like crumpled, plastic water bottles: How dare she not smile?  But Greta’s visit coincided with the final stages of my divorce, and—perhaps you understand?—in that tender time, everything was metaphor.  ~ I read about a funeral held for a 700-year-old Icelandic glacier which had melted to the point that it could no longer move. It

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A CIRCULAR SCAR by Shannon St. Hilaire

A guy I dated briefly once asked about my mother of pearl ring. Everyone knows a ring has a story.  “I won’t tell you,” I said before I could stop myself. Then I corrected, saying I bought it off Etsy, but it was too late. I would never tell him the story of my ring, because to know and understand my ring was to know and understand me. If I told someone about my rings, about this ring in particular, it would signal to me that I trusted them, and they trusted me, too. And I had no interest in

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WHOSE HUNGER by Kristen Estabrook

In the hours prior to dinner, she studied her reflection in the mirror, checking and rechecking the flaws in her complexion, adjusting and readjusting the height of her hair, while thinking about sex. On their second date, he had asked about sex. He had asked if she was ready. She was not. “It’s only the second date,” she had said. She wondered if he would ask again and expected that he would. She wondered what she would say this time. That it was only the third? Then she remembered. Her period. Her period! She was on her period. That worked

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ALL THE THINGS WE’LL NEVER HAVE by Christopher DeWan

I remember, there was going to be a birthday party for Michael. He was turning ten. Michael was always interrupting, saying things that weren’t funny or important, because he couldn’t stand not being the center of attention. My mom said it was because he didn’t have a dad. But Michael’s party meant I could go to the toy store to buy something I wanted, even if I would have to give it away. And the party would be a chance to see Karen. Karen was older and maybe that’s why she didn’t suffer so much from not having a dad.

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WHAT IT HAD IN ITS MOUTH by Arielle Burgdorf

What can make viewing it so memorable is the fact that as each day passes, the rock changes colour depending on the light and atmospheric conditions, and never remains the exact same permanent hue.   Red, the only color that stays with you. A massive red rock, rising out of a grassy field. Sun warming the stone, casting shadows in the crevices. The golden, reddish-brown fur of a wild dog peeking out from behind a bush. And the final red, rusty, dark splattered all over the white jumper. A baby, missing from the jumper. The same question, on yours and

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