Feed on


5143OVKiD8L._SX344_BO1,204,203,200_     51niUnvB9nL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_51cat7WErgL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_41YaQalqrbL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_

Another dusty sunset filled the rearview mirror as the wheels on our car scraped against the pebbles.

“Bella, they used to shoot movies down this road; makes one hell of a dust devil for car chases, don’t it?” Chris’s tone wasn’t questioning, rather, it left no room for an answer. Dads typically aren’t called by their first name from their children, but I never saw Chris as much of a dad. Even in our old family photos, I would see the same stiff and uncomfortable man, unsure whether he should pose and hug me for the picture.

“Friday nights me and the boys would ride up to the river, drunk as all hell, camp out and do some fishing. Good days.” He never liked to sit in silence, so on the long road trips where he would take me back to my mom’s, he filled the time by telling me stories of his life before I was a part of it.

“Hey, I saw you throw something into the river yesterday. What were you doing at the river?” I asked him. “Just wondering, I know you don’t like to go there since the incident.” Kendrick, Chris’s deaf brother, was hit by a drunk driver the year I was born. Lisa, my mom, always told me to keep quiet about the incident because it wouldn’t be good for Chris to return to the state he was in after it happened. Maria and I rode our bikes down to the river yesterday, that’s where I noticed him, standing motionless with his feet submerged in the coursing water. Noticing my abrupt statement, Chris’s hands tightened on the steering wheel.

“Oh, I uh, saw something in the water I thought I recognized. Piece of scrap metal from somebody’s old shed I assume; it was shining up from the road, the way the sun hit it just right.” Quickly, I looked at his face to see any trace of dishonesty in what he said, but all I saw was the same opaque expression he always had.

“Really? Well, Maria and I saw you while we were biking, so it thought I’d ask.” Surely, I thought, he had a reason for returning to the river, but what was it?


That rest of the car ride home was filled with silence. Unlike our usual routine, Chris didn’t seem on edge with the prolonged absence of words or conversation. Very slowly, I looked back up at his hands, which were now tapping the wheel, bouncing with the tune that must have been playing in his head. Whatever he was doing down at the river will forever be a secret to me. Xanax bottles, all of them empty, filled the space under my passenger side seat, and one rolled out from underneath, fitting itself in the small space between my feet. Yellow hues reflected from the bottle and onto my skin, creating a tinged pigmentation that reminded me of a skin disease. Zipping up my jacket, I looked out of the window and watched the white lines on the road race past the car’s wheels. In that moment, my father didn’t feel the need to explain himself, and I didn’t see any reason for him to; it felt like, for once, we had found a way to communicate and understand each other.



“Sweetie! Is that you?” I heard Connor’s voice float through the apartment as I shut the door. I made a face. I had his birthday present folded under my arm. If he came to greet me in the foyer, I’d be dead in the water because he’d ask me what I had and he always knew when I was lying. Like, damn dude let me surprise you once in awhile.
“What’s for dinner?” I called back, trying to deflect him from a question he hadn’t even asked. It smelled heavenly, and even though my nose said it was pasta night I didn’t want to get my hopes up that he was making his from-scratch marinara sauce. I dropped my keys in the bowl on the console table, slipped off my coat, and tucked it away into the coat closet, and crept into the house softly, shifting his package behind the other things I’d picked up that afternoon. It was a cold, overcast day, and snow flurries had drifted down between the towering buildings. But I had made my way through stores, excited for Connor’s birthday and Christmas. And as I tip-toed over the hardwood floors, towards a fast hiding spot in the living room, I smiled as I thought of giving him his gift in just a couple of weeks.
“Your favorite,” Connor said, speaking over the classical jazz coming from the kitchen speakers. Normally he was an NPR-while-he-cooked guy, but maybe the snow made him feel festive. I heard him shift around a few glasses and quickly put away his gift before meeting him in the entry to the kitchen, as he headed my way with a long-stemmed glass of white wine.
“Thank God, I’m famished. Shopping takes a lot out of a girl, you know.” I grinned up at him as he kissed me on my forehead.
“Did you have a fun day out?” he asked, walking back to the counter to stir something into the cauldron of red sauce. I took my glass of wine and sat down, warming up.
“I did, as a matter of fact.”
“Shocker,” he interjected quickly, shooting me a smile over his shoulder. I stuck out my tongue at him.
“The girls and I all met at Saks because you know that Nikki just had to find a dress for Jim’s office party, you know, a month early because she’ll change her mind six times when all the VPs wives mention on Facebook what they looked at.” I rolled my eyes but with love. Nikki was great, but could be a bit extra. But so were Maya and Lilly. “And then we just kind of strolled and spent the day looking at this and that.” Connor made a mmm and I smiled at his back. He was so handsome. He was wearing a dark gray cashmere sweater, hie sleeves pushed up, and one of my aprons wrapped around his body. Superfrilly gag-gifts from my friends who knew I hated to cook. His dark salt and pepper hair was disheveled, making made him look ten years younger than he was.
“Oh,” I said, “but we ran into Jessica Lowe in Neiman Marcus.” I paused and he turned and gave me a look. We didn’t like Jessica Lowe and, yes, that was a collective we.
“What was that cow doing there?” he asked, acid coating every word.
“Trying on a beautiful dress, that poor thing.” By that poor thing, I was talking about the dress. I took a sip from my glass. Jessica Lowe had given us a lot of grief when it became apparent Connor and I were serious about each other. Jessica Lowe hadn’t liked it that I was younger than she was, and 25 years younger than Conner—everybody seems dying to know—and from a slightly lower tax bracket. His was that type of wealthy where you wondered if God asked for a loan to start Eden. Anyone under that .01 percent was apparently money-grubbing trailer trash, though to Jessica. She had grown up with Connor and, in my opinion, was bitter that he’d never been interested in intertwining their empires—and households—the way she had been interested in doing. But she was a two-dimensional villain in my life. A fly at a horse’s blinders. But she was still a pest.
Connor make a tsk noise. He’d hated how so many people had given me a chilly shoulder when we had taken interest in each other.
“The dress really was beautiful, Connor. I think it was a McQueen. And of course Maya and her are friendly so I had to stand there with this dumb, placated smile—” I paused to re-create the face and he chuckled—“on my face while they just snipped at everything and everyone they could think of. I never thought they’d stop.”
“Did she say anything to you?” His tone was casual, but I could hear the protective edge to his words. I got up out of the barstool to go to his side and wrapped my arms around him.
“Just the usual snide, don’t you like this dress? Isn’t it beautiful? Doesn’t it look beaaauuutiful on me? I gave her beautifully passive-aggressive retorts.” I could feel his shoulders relax a bit, and I took this opportunity to steal some of the pasta sitting in the serving bowl.
“Hey! You can’t wait ten minutes?” He swatted my butt as I scampered back to my wine glass. “Go be helpful and set the table, won’t you?” he teased as he turned again to the food. I set the table and put out food for our dogs, who were out with the dogwalker. I refreshed our wine and helped Connor bring out the food, which, as always, was delicious. A lot of nights we ordered in, or our housekeeper made food, but on the weekends or when we got home earlier from work, Connor would take to the kitchen.
I should’ve married one of those Southern housewives. They’d cook for me, he’d joke.
You’d kill yourself if you married a housewife, I’d shoot back.
In my defense, I was not Connor’s secretary, his nanny, or his first wife’s personal shopper. Meeting him at an office party when I was a paralegal wasn’t so much fate as it was subtly elbowing Samantha Wilson out of the way to introduce myself. But that was just so I could network, Scout’s honor. I had no idea that we’d get along so well, that it would be like fire when we touched. Samantha wasn’t cut for the city, anyway; she moved back to Texas and her Facebook is full of posts involving burlap and Mason jars. She would’ve hated this life.
During dinner, we talked about the upcoming week and the holiday plans. What did we want to do for Thanksgiving? His birthday? When did we want to put out the Christmas tree this year? It was probably the snow flurries that made us think about all these things, as well as all the holiday decorations I saw while out shopping today. I jotted down a quick list of things we needed to do in the next week while Connor scraped the last of the pasta onto his plate.
“I think I’ll take the boat out tomorrow, just one last time this season.” he said as I was writing down the Whitmans on the list for gift baskets.
“I thought you took it out one last time like three weeks ago.” I said, not bothering to look up.
“Yeah, but…” he trailed off. He knew I didn’t get the boat thing. I never got the boat thing. Especially when it was this cold? I mentally threw up my hands like my friend Rebecca did whenever her husband did something husband-y.
“Okay, Popeye the Sailor Man. I’ll just invite the girls over tomorrow night then.” He always took a stunning amount of time out on the boat and at the boathouse. I wrote down cars? and pondered if it would be nicer for him to be interested in classic Porsches instead of the latest from Pursuit Boating.
“I need to call Tomas and talk to him about those parts I was telling you about. I want to see if the boat is still making that weird noise before we order them. Because why order it if it was just a fluke?” He started to clear the table and I bit my pen’s cap. Tomas was Connor’s boat guy. I didn’t know a single thing about boats. I’d tried. I swear I did.
“What time do you think you’ll head out?” I asked as he took my plate. We’d leave the dishes for our housekeeper to do in the afternoon.
“Probably around eleven. I don’t want to be out there too late.” Connor called from the kitchen. I jotted the rest of my thoughts down about holiday plans before helping him take care of leftovers.
“Want to watch a movie? I hear they put that cool documentary about the car industry on Netflix,” I said as I wiped down the counter.
The police officers came in the evening. I’m ashamed that I fainted. I’d never fainted in my life. The girls didn’t know whether to stay or go after I passed along the news that Connor had been in an accident, was dead. I made them go and knew that as soon as they had dispersed from the elevator, they’d be on their phones, telling everyone. They’d be my alibi, whether they liked it or not.
The minimalist apartment was suddenly too big now when it was just me. I kept all the lights on, terrified of some unidentified entity, as if turning off the lights would mean I too would be grabbed and dragged into the deep and unforgiving water. Similarly, I kept myself wrapped in one of my favorite blankets. It was white fur and the softest thing I’d ever felt. It instantly soothed me, and it warmed me, as I found myself shivering more this fall than previous ones. And our two giant, lovely, Great Danes, Hermés and Manolo, followed me around everywhere whimpering ever so slightly as they asked where their daddy was. I wanted to cry to them and explain that he wasn’t coming back and I was so sorry, that sometimes fate was cruel to us, but instead sadly rubbed their soft ears and let them sleep in the bed with me, taking comfort with the weight balance on the mattress.


Listen, I swear to God I wasn’t going to wear it, I really wasn’t. And as soon as we entered the funeral home, as soon as I heard the first gasp, reverberating in the white, solemn building, I cracked inside, whoo boy did that half bottle of red wear off real quick. I looked over at my friend, who clasped my hand and motioned for me to keep walking, not to look to see who made the soft exclamation. So that’s exactly what we did. Instead of acknowledging the murmurs and the purr of scandal running through the pews, my best friend and I made our way to the front of the church so that we could lay my husband to rest.
A beautiful, black silk Alexander McQueen evening gown is probably going to attract attention anywhere, let’s face it. Even drunk me could understand that. Throw in that it was eleven o’clock in the morning, a quarter of the skirt was really just lace, and the off-the-shoulder sleeves were, too, lace, drunk me could definitely understand why they were whispering. But God, didn’t they at least have the decency to do so in the ladies’ room, inevitably doomed to have awkward run-ins there with my best friend or myself? Have some class, bitches.
They thought I killed him. My husband, I meant. Which is why I really wore the dress. Someone ordered it in my name from Neiman Marcus, haha, we know you killed your husband, heifer, here’s a scandalous dress. The news of the insurance money coming through had just hit the Avenue, no doubt. As if there wasn’t going to be an investigation into Connor’s death, as if I’d want him dead. Who goes fishing in November? I have no idea but then again men are stupid. But just because men are stupid doesn’t mean I’d want Connor gone. But I knew I wasn’t going to roll over when given the chance to look people in the eyes until they were the ones to turn away. He wouldn’t want that for me.
The service was led beautifully, but in truth I don’t remember much of it. Ash to ash, dust to dust. The ride to and from the burial site was mostly made up of my friend, Maggie, babbling on about what everyone was wearing. It was what she did when she was nervous. Mother and Father couldn’t make it, and Connor’s mother looked at me like I was a walking ball of rat poison. She had been quite adamant about taking a different car from me in the procession, even though I wasn’t sure how the concave-looking woman was able to get out of bed at her age. Clearly she wasn’t a fan of the dress. I’m not entirely sure why. It was absolutely beautiful. Connor would’ve loved it.
November, what a month to die in. And of course you rarely choose when you die, but November? I pulled my coat closer to my body as we stepped away from the hole where my beloved now rested. I had opted out of talking during the service or the memorial. I had sat unwavering in the first pew, behind oversized sunglasses and listened to those who did speak, thanking those who came to offer their condolences. There were of course the few pointed comments about “taken too soon,” and glances to see if I was crying—but I knew it wouldn’t be the right amount regardless. Too much and it would be look at those crocodile tears, and too little it’d be tsk, heartless. They had no idea how when I got the call I fell to my knees, and how Maggie, Kaitlyn, and Nikki—over for a girls’ night—thought I would have to be sedated. Nikki sent for her personal psychiatrist, a tiny woman with a gray bob who had patted my hands sympathetically and given me the number of someone who was really good at helping with loss.
Our two dogs, really, are the reason why—I told myself and others—that I wouldn’t have people over after the funeral. It would upset them too much and there’s just been too much going on, I said, and who the hell was going question a bereaved widow and her dogs? No one of polite company, of course.
When I got home, I poured myself another glass of the red wine Maggie and I—mostly I—had been drinking before the funeral. Rich people didn’t drop off casseroles, they had catered casseroles and lasagnas and condolence fruit baskets sent over. And I spent the rest of the day, sitting in a black lace crepe evening gown, drinking from a glass of red wine, in a kitchen with too many white cabinets. The dogwalker came and went, and the phone rang several times. I ignored each of these things. The clock struck one; the fog rolled into the city—fog I had not known was coming—and I was reminded I’d need to sleep at some point, that I’d need to put this day to bed. I needed to hang it up with this beautiful, tragic dress.


Dear Megan,

In the middle school library, the first time I saw you, you were sitting cross-legged on a bean bag chair cradling a book in your hands. Dark brown curls fell down your shoulders as you read aloud to the visiting third grade class. I was fresh out of grad school and excited to be a grossly underpaid middle school history teacher. I looked like a history teacher too, that or an English teacher. With my corduroy pants, striped sweater, and glasses perpetually halfway down my nose, I really could have been either one, that is, until you saw me whip out my pocket sized Declaration of Independence. You were the most beautiful librarian I had ever seen. You even had the thick rimmed librarian-style glasses that framed your grey-blue eyes perfectly when you looked up from your book and smiled at me.

Continue Reading »

Or Something

 “It didn’t sit right with me. It felt like frostbite and searing skin.” She thought as she barreled through the field on her way home from Clementine’s Grocery. She had never seen someone weep with such intensity; it was as if his whole body was grief and salty tears and pooled snot were the only way he knew to communicate.  Her lips quivered and her shoulders ached, she was running on empty and the house seemed so far away.

Continue Reading »

Attack of the Ducks

The clock struck one; the fog rolled into the city. New York City was usually a pretty lively city at night. But tonight, it was dark and quiet. Emily and I, dressed in all black clothing, crept alongside the endless rows of buildings that lined the streets of New York City like traffic barriers that line the sides of highways. The thick fog coupled with the impeccable darkness of the night and thickness of the fog made it impossible for Emily and I to see more than five feet in front of us. No one dared to be out at this hour. Even the prostitutes, who were always out in droves by now, were nowhere to be seen. No one dared be out when the ducks began to attack.

Continue Reading »

This story is about a man named Skinny who was living alone and knows that he does not have much longer to live. Throughout the entire story he doesn’t know how to tell his kids that he is going to die. You start to feel bad for him because all he wants is to have a nice fun night with his kids but they just don’t understand. When he invites them over one weekend he made dinner for them but they didn’t show up until really late at night. He had accidentally fallen asleep and let the food burn in the kitchen. His son was upset that he can’t do anything right but if they had shown up on time everything would have been perfect. As the reader you can see things from both sides of the story, so you can see how they all screwed up. Even though Skinny doesn’t make the best choices I still feel bad for him because I can see things from his point of view.

I loved how Belle Boggs was able to create the character’s age without actually giving you it until the very end. I would have been really very much okay if the age was never said at all actually. Belle Boggs gave the reader a character and filled out the portrait of this woman but by doing it by drawing the negative space to show this part of the woman’s life. And it increases as you get into the depth of the story. First, it’s shaky hands. Then it’s the issue of pride and parking in a handicapped space. Then it’s gray hair. Then it’s the description of how long she’d been voting, who she’d voted for, how she or other women voted. The way she was able to do this was a subtle type of stunning and I greatly appreciated it. 

And of course, this is also masterfully done with being also being the continued flip of the “Imperial Chysanthemum” and Loretta story. 


This was such a beautiful portrayal of what life is like with a transgender family member. This is still such a taboo topic for some reason, so being able to gain a better understanding through this piece was incredible. I think that Boggs took a very sensitive subject and was able to tell a story without either tiptoeing around certain subjects, or offending anyone and I think that is very hard to do in these particular situations. One element of Boggs’ writing that always sticks out to me is how she never gives the audience a stereotypical ending. The majority of her pieces end after the closure of a seemingly insignificant scene, and especially in this story it was very frustrating because I was left with so many questions. Did the daughter end up coming around? Did Jonas get the full operation? How do the mindsets of each character change as time goes on? It is both frustrating and impressive how she is able to do this, but to be honest it is more frustrating. I want answers, I am not the type of person who is creative enough to come to my own conclusions I need someone else to do that for me. That being said however, I did greatly enjoy her work and respect her as an author.

I’m bored of saying readings were interesting. This reading was insane. How do these authors come up with these stories? I know we aren’t supposed to say bad things, and this wasn’t bad reading, per se, but I literally couldn’t help but think throughout like, half the reading that Nemecia needed major therapy.

The narrator had a clear voice, but do we read things without a clear voice? This is a story written in a first-person narrative, which further encourages a “clear voice” and if anything, the cousin’s character seems more complex than the narrator. Which is of course intricately shows the narrator’s own issues. She struggles to find her own sense of self outside of her seemingly-abusive cousin. And when she does try to find her own self, shine in her own light, her cousin tries to take it from her.

My questions about the story and what I feel are missing links from the story are not few and I’m left frustrated. Which may be exactly what the author wanted to leave the reader with. It seems like it’s a neat ending, that this girl has found relative peace and that the cousin has a relatively cookie-cutter LA life and everything is fine. And it drove me absolutely insane.

Jonas, by Belle Boggs

Belle Boggs has succeeded again in creating a story that you can jump into. Like Imperial Chrysanthemum, she did not conclude the story in the typical sense. What I appreciated most about this story was that it left you wondering and thinking about the different outcomes. There’s no happy ending with a tidy bow. It makes the story that more real because it allows you to dive into the depth of the situation the characters are in and think about what they would do in that situation. Jonas, or rather Joan is still feeling uncomfortable being herself. Their daughter, Jessica, is still upset with her father for choosing to transition. And Melinda still doesn’t really know what to do other than try to support her partner’s happiness. Stories about transitioning are not often told from the partner’s point of view, so it was interesting to feel some of the emotions that she was going through. I’m curious as to how she got into the mindset to write this very complicated story. The transition process isn’t something I’m intimately familiar with and I’m also curious as to what research—if any—was done and how it was done. I also think writing it as a fiction piece makes the subject easier to deal with for some people. It’s a buffer, of sorts, while still dealing with and broaching an important topic.

I loved the relation between ‘Election Day’ and ‘Imperial Chrysanthemum’. It is brilliant the way Belle Boggs uses two stories to show two different point of views. ‘Imperial Chrysanthemum’ is told in Loretta’s point of view and it doesn’t portray Cutie in the best light. She is a stubborn, annoying old woman that Loretta has to deal with. But in ‘Election Day’, we see that there is so much more to Cutie then was shown in the first story. She is hurting and even though she can be stubborn there are reasons for that. She really does have feelings and is actually very lonely. I really liked that Boggs separated this into two different stories because it added more depth to the characters, in my opinion. If she had talked about both in one story I don’t think we would have gotten as much out of both characters.

You will never be alone, you hear so deep

a sound when autumn comes. Yellow

pulls across the hills and thrums,

or the silence after lightning before it says

its name – and then the clouds’ wide-mouthed

apologies. You were aimed from birth:

you will never be alone. Rain

will come, a gutter filled, and Amazon,

long aisles – you never heard so deep a sound,

moss on rock, and years. You turn your head –

that’s what the silence meant: you’re not alone.

The whole wide world pours down.

By William Stafford

This poem’s title encapsulates what this poem is about, assurance. To assure the reader that they will never be alone, even in times it may seem inevitable. The author makes a point throughout the poem that even though the reader may feel alone, the reader will never actually be alone. They will always have nature and those who care around them. The line “you were aimed from birth” creates a sense of purpose no matter who the reader is or what they have experienced in their life. I could see how religious people might connect this poem with God. After all, God is supposed to instill a sense of assurance in people’s lives, much like this poem does. This poem also alludes to the fact that the reader might not truly realize they are never alone until they are faced with those worries. It takes a lot of self reflection to establish a sense of self, but how can you establish that if you are not alone?

Two Loaves of Bread, a Lemon Pound Cake, and a Donut for the Walk

By Jessica Kennedy


Inside the bakery, an old man waits for his regular order: two loaves of bread, a lemon pound cake, and a donut for the walk back home. Every second and third Thursday, not counting the other days where he can be seen walking the sidewalk of Main street. Main street is the busiest of all the streets in the town of Chantham, North Carolina. Businesses fight for available spaces of real estate, only to pay out of the wazoo for rent. All around the man, people hurriedly shuffle through to get to their desired shop, ordering their normal things or risking it for a new experience. Some are tourists visiting the historic town just outside of Wilmington, and some are natives. Either way, Main street is never dull.

Continue Reading »

Mary Rossi

Facing It

A warrior walks home alone at night; thirty, wrinkled clothes, worn-out face. She carries a gym bag on her shoulder.

Sunday night. Midnight; it’s a horrible time, her mind all wound up with thoughts that she can’t push aside. She has one more stop to make. As she reaches her destination, she pauses a moment by the door, stares up at the bright “Open” flashing purple and green above her; hypnotizing. It soothes her some, shifting her focus to the present for just a moment. There are no customers inside, the lone worker seated in one of the chairs as he thumbs through a magazine. She heads inside.

“What kind do you want?” the guy asks, pushing a book of designs at her to look through; she pushes it back.

She’d had an idea earlier that morning, as well as where on her body she had wanted it, but both had changed at the last minute. It was why she’d made the appointment in the first place; she had grown tired of looking at her arm. Had grown tired of people staring at it whenever they too caught sight of it, had grown tired of having to always wear long sleeves because she had grown tired of people staring at it. They reached all the way up to her shoulder, the scars, all crowded together with barely any skin left in between or around. Deep and long and red-black, she’d done them all herself. In a way, she was proud of them; they showed that she wasn’t afraid of pain, that she was strong.

It had been this pride that had convinced her not to go with her original idea, right as she was taking her last lap earlier that evening in the pool. She would wear them like badges of honor; she didn’t need to hide behind a couple of pricey ink drawings. But she’d made the appointment already, and as she climbed out of the pool, she had wondered what she might get now instead.

In the chair, her leg jiggles nervously as the guy preps his tools. Her gym bag sits on the floor next to the chair, her wet swimsuit and towel stuffed inside. Tangled up with both is a battered old book; Macbeth. She likes to read during breaks while she rests.

The snap of latex stings her ears as the guy pulls on a pair of gloves, then reaches for the metal needle, the tip hovering just above the back of her sterilized left hand. Her right hand white-knuckles the armrest.

But screw your courage to the sticking-place.

The needle hums across her skin, drawing blood. She can’t look away fast enough; it’s like a trigger being pulled, thoughts erupting in her mind, the sudden glint of red like the flash of a shot being taken.

All my pretty ones? Did you say all?

At night, she has nightmares of dusty wedding rings and empty swing sets, of blood and bullets. Mother/father/sister/brother/son/daughter/friend. In these nightmares, she can feel the painful kick of a gun against her shoulder, and wakes with a phantom pain throbbing there. Shakespeare is her favorite writer because of how she must use every bit of her focus to understand, and on bad nights she’ll spend until dawn beneath the covers, slowly working her way down page after page until her mind is relatively quiet.

Come to my woman’s breasts, and take my milk for gall.

Lady Macbeth. Broken mind/broken spirit/broken morals; killer/sinner. Who could love a woman like that? wonders the warrior, fretfully.

A little water clears us of this deed.

Not water (chlorine/sweat/blood/tears); not words (whispered names/whispered apologies/prayers for forgiveness, for peace). Not anything.

What’s done cannot be undone.

Four years of fighting; you are what you now, forever.

The guy pulls back the needle at last, and she looks down to see.

She’d decided on the design just as she was leaving the gym that evening, the idea coming to her so suddenly, so clearly. It was so simple, so perfect. No chance of forgetting what you are, so why try?

What, will these hands ne’er be clean?

Pale red splotches, on the backs of her hands and along her fingers, the skin swollen and pink around and beneath the ink.

Out, damned spot.

Bloodstains; faded-looking, almost gone, but still there nonetheless. Always there.

Out, I say.

Her hands ache as she picks up her bag from the floor and pushes open the parlor door, stepping out onto the sidewalk. She walks home quickly, the cold air whipping painfully against her hands. In bed, she sleeps on her back with her arms on top of her covers, fingers spread slightly out. The pain is enough to keep her mind off her usual thoughts, allowing her to slip easily into sleep. Just as her usual dreams are beginning to take shape, the clock down the street strikes one, and as it does, the fog rolls into the city.

In “Night at the Fiestas,” main protagonist Frances struggles with who she is and what she wishes to become.  As the story begins, she is a sixteen-year-old overprotected and modest young women who yearns for more. She is not satisfied by her surroundings, herself, or her family. One could say she is a little ashamed.

On the bus ride to Santa Fe to partake in the Night at the Fiestas, Frances attempts to read her book and ignore her overly friendly father–the bus driver. She wants little to do with his conversation and interaction with others. She even moves her seat to be further away from him and his unwarranted disruptions. Slightly agitated, she continues to read until she begins speaking with a mysterious man who claims to be a painter. The interaction which involves flirting, and probably a little lying, leaves her unmoored.

Eager as she is to get to the Night at the Fiestas, to become someone new, someone different: she is aware that she is continually uncomfortable. This discomfort does not waver throughout the festivities or conversation with her fast-paced cousin Nancy.  It instead moves her inward to reflect on who she thinks she is and who she thinks she wants to be.

This startles her and warrants a realization all its own.

Don’t grow up too fast. Don’t be adverse to change or routine. Use your discernment.


No, Lila remembered. He had not. Instead he gathered their things awkwardly in his arms, as if he were going to run off with them, leaving her standing alone and embarrassed. She had grown panicked then, standing in the checkout line. She had been afraid of being deserted. That part she did not share with Donnelle.

This paragraph from the short story “Opportunity” by Belle Boggs is an interesting way of explaining her thoughts in her Lila’s head. Here we see Lila describing this moment in such a depth, but not over wording her emotions. The choice in words, at the right moment, gives the emotional depth, but still carries the story along without prolonging the emotional monologue that a lot of writers do.

As someone who is not extremely familiar with the transition process, much less how they affect a family, I found this short story very intriguing and insightful, despite it being fiction. The confusion our main character, Melinda, goes through only adds to this experience.

Melinda wondered if Jonas would have ever made this decision without the therapist leading him there. Another woman, she thought, might be angry with the therapist, angry with Jonas for having a fake heart attack when he was supposed to be working and for taking an early retirement and having something as inconvenient as the mind of a woman inside the body of a man. Surely she would be angry.” Pg 102

I think the conflict here is extremely valuable to the story; isn’t this what any woman in her shoes would be thinking? She isn’t sure how to respond to this situation, though she mentions at least twice how nice it would be to be someone’s “partner” instead of someone’s “wife”. The sentence “Surely she would be angry.” is a clear indication that she knows how most women would react; probably very similarly to her vulgar sister who made a comment about not wanting her husband, Roland, “getting his thing chopped off”. But Melinda doesn’t feel that way. She seems almost excited about the changes in her husband, noticing the newer, softer skin and sweeter smell of him. In the last sentence, when they are at the egg art exhibit, she decides she likes the “idea of the surprise inside the egg, something special and hidden and fine, something to make you catch your breath.” (Pg 112) I believe, personally, she is making metaphor of her husband’s transition to a woman and  the pleasant changes and surprises it could hold for their family.


In “Homecoming” Boggs writes about how one’s family history can influence the decisions one makes in life. In Boggs’ story, Marcus, the main character, comes from a broken family where both of his parents are in jail. Tiff, Marcus’s aunt whom he lives with when both of his parents are sent to jail, ends up stashing Papo’s (her boyfriend) cocaine in her refrigerator, and causes Papo to go to jail.

Marcus has high expectations for himself despite certain limitations that might hold him back, like his family’s history with drugs and spending time in jail, the lack of having a car, and the constant guilt he feels about sending his hard-earned money to his mother. Marcus is described as being a “good boy” (131) and a “solid B student.” (131) When he begins to sell drugs for money with his friend, Wally, he understands that what he is doing is wrong, but in a way, he still sets a standard for what he is and is not willing to do in this immature action he partakes in.

“…if we get some more stuff. We could get some pills, some coke, maybe some heroin.” 

Marcus thought about Skinny, what he’d said about being a junkie. “I don’t want to deal heroin,” he said quietly. (166)

Due to the unfortunate circumstances of Marcus’ family history with getting into legal trouble, it seems inevitable that Marcus, a good student and athlete, will make the same poor decisions his family (mother, father, aunt) has made. This circumstance makes the reader think that Marcus will live his life getting into legal trouble, much like his parents. Boggs’ references to Marcus’s family throughout the story indicate that, although Marcus has a lot going for him, he will never be able to escape from his family’s past, which is formed through bad decisions and habits. Before the night of homecoming reaches an end, the reader already anticipates the outcome of Marcus’ bad decision to sell drugs at the school. “Some people he told to take just one; others he dealt to silently, accepting their praise stone-faced and serious.” (164) The reader already has an idea that, at some point, Marcus will be caught and punished for selling drugs at his school. The influence that Marcus’ family has in his life has already begun to do its damage, and the reader can foresee that Marcus will probably live a life very similar to that of his parents.


Belle Boggs “Jonas”

This short story was very interesting to me because I haven’t come upon many short stories about the transgender transition process and how it affects a family. This topic is something that is still seen as controversial in many societies, so it is great to see it written about in this detail. It is not something that is relatable to most people, so Boggs has to dig deep into the emotions behind what is going on instead of just picking from the surface. Boggs does a great job of keeping the reader engaged and interested in a story that most people can’t relate to, but find intriguing and different. Today’s society needs stories like these in order to help encourage a progressive and accepting world. Melinda wasn’t focused on the huge changes that were happening in her life, but rather how she can support what makes her partner happy. Every couple in the world can stand to take that type of advice. I also appreciated that the story didn’t completely resolve itself. Melinda’s daughter, Jessica, was still very upset and not on speaking terms with Jonas (Joan). Jonas was also in the beginning stages of feeling comfortable with the changes happening to her body. These aspects of the story are what really makes it feel real and makes a mostly unrelatable topic, relatable.

Belle Boggs story “Election Day” is a short story that continues the story “Imperial Chrysanthemum”. It is about a woman named Cutie and her caretaker Lauretta. Cutie is going to vote in the election. There is a depressing theme to the story. Cutie is thinking about her old age and how repetitive the years of her life have been. Seeing people come and go living in the houses near her and going to vote in the election every year she can. Things get worse when she finds out Lauretta is leaving her to move on with her life. Seeing someone much younger than her able to move on with her life and do new things would make her feel even worse about herself. She is constantly in shame of her shaking hands and unable body. “She likes the dark privacy there, no one to see her hand shake as she practices her name first in the air before committing it to paper. Cora Tyler Young, she writes finally in the space for governor” (boggs 178).

Older Posts »