by Grace Elliott
I am trying to learn how to write personal essays. For years, I have struggled with how to write true stories about myself. I worry about the lack of special in my life, the lack of event.
“The point is not the events,” I tell myself now as I try to learn how to write essays. “The point is the frame.”
Of Rats and Men
by Luna Adler
On the eve of Thanksgiving, you open your front door to find a dead rat sprawled in the middle of the sidewalk. The animal resembles a half-smashed piñata, shapely but definitely battered, with blood leaking from its body. Sure, you believe yourself to be handy—you know the difference between a Phillips head screwdriver and a slot head and, to the chagrin of everyone who loves you, have never been afraid to mess with a few electrical wires. But you have major issues with vermin and in the past your boyfriend would have dealt with it. Now, three months after your break-up, there are less than 24 hours before your mother arrives for Thanksgiving dinner and a giant rat lays dead by your doorstep.
On Springsteen and Other Fathers
by Rax King
My father dies towards the beginning of a year that ends with the release of Springsteen on Broadway on Netflix. He loved the Boss, the E Street Band, and especially Clarence Clemons, so this is just one more thing that he would have really liked…would have. But he’s never going to see it, just like he’ll never see a post-Trump America or the end of Game of Thrones.
by Lisa Calcasola
Sometimes I forget that for the vast majority of my life, I hated my eyes. It was a powerful kind of hate, subtle, yet all-encompassing. I did not have to consciously think the words: I hate my eyes, I hate how small they are, too skinny and slanted, just like they say, no eyelashes, no heavy eyelids, can I even convey expression through these eyes that are so, so small? Rarely would these thoughts cross my mind in such a steady stream. Rather, they were part of the jumbled, incohesive messaging that constructed my inner dialogue, which informed my very being, whatever small perceptions I held of myself as an adolescent.
Peaceful, The World Lets Me Down
by Eva Dunsky
The constant sunshine in my hometown of Los Angeles is where I’ll start. The further you get from the beach, the higher the temperature climbs, and when I was thirteen, spring called for shorts, t-shirts, and keds, the year being 2009 and the style icon being Green Day’s Billie Joe Armstrong. Your clothes were important — either you were cool and you subscribed to the trends, or you were uncool and dragged your backpack around on wheels. Or maybe, if you were like me, you forged an alternative look and hoped for the best. I remember wearing the shorts and tanks I wore every year, the ones I had inherited from older cousins or purchased at the thrift store near my house.
A Track List for Piercing Tongues
by Dorothy Bendel
“Big Mouth Strikes Again” (The Smiths)
He opened his mouth so I could inspect his tongue, thick and squirming like Jabba the Hutt’s. I aimed the needle at the sweet spot: dead-center, between two purple veins in a pond of saliva. I knew to avoid veins like I knew to avoid earnest declarations of love, which only bring trouble. I can’t remember his name. I’ll call him The Mark.
by Nate Waggoner
When he was a boy, Roy Sullivan was out in the fields, hacking away at grain with a scythe. Picture a turn of the 20th century kid, maybe in overalls, sweating, buzz cut, diligent, serious. An expansive field lies in every direction around him. This grim tool in his hand, the tool of a psychopomp, the last tool you ever see. The way Death might show up with it one day and attack you crossing the street, or might wait around in your room with you for months, checking his phone. Little Roy cut and cut in the Southern sun, and the sun went away and clouds crept out, and a bolt of lightning struck his blade, bounced off it and sets the crops on fire.
My Father’s Face
by Alex DiFrancesco
I am scrolling mindlessly through Facebook when an article jumps out at me. In the accompanying picture, a woman has a thought bubble with nothing in it. The headline says the article is about people who cannot see pictures in their mind.