Category Archives: Nonfiction

Jellyfish Season

by Naphisa Senanarong

The day my mother and her three sisters floated out to sea on an inflatable raft, the jellyfishes were on their annual, fatal pilgrimage to shore. A sea of white, she’d described. The storms parted, like in an animated children’s movie, revealing poison lotuses blooming as far as the eyes can see. I picture them: Ariel’s sisters, muted mermaids drifting onto a patch of hostile ocean—round eyes and naive parted lips, like posters of girls in the fifties congregating around some kitchen appliance. They were too young to register that afternoon as their first brush with mortality. No matter, because life had many more for them—at the hands of loved ones, behind doors too heavy for small fingers, Ohioan winter closing like cracks around frozen throats, in rooms with too many people, hospital beds with too few, restaurants that smell like chicken oil, bathrooms that smell like old blood—leftovers—fine mixtures of rust and self. Smells that linger—how they got used to those, always finding them in unexpected places: hair, collars, breaths.

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In Some Matter of Unknown Time: Love Song for a Coastal Town

by Julie Marie Wade

This story begins with salt—three and a half bushels of it—excellent, fine, strong, & white¹. That’s what the explorers wrote in their log, leaving Seaside on February 20, 1806.

These men had traveled from Missouri, army volunteers under the command of Captain Meriwether Lewis and Second Lieutenant William Clark. It was the first United States expedition to venture all the way west, across the Continental Divide and down into the Columbia River basin. But then the explorers met winter in the Pacific Northwest and found themselves dripping (some things never change), rain riding every gust of wind, the dim light heavy as a helmet on their heads, and the elk meat at risk of spoiling.

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The Lion in the Gardens of the Guenet Hotel

by John Coyne

In the final days of our in-country Peace Corps training in Ethiopia, we had a
celebration dinner at the Guenet Hotel in the Populari section of the capital, Addis Ababa.

The Guenet Hotel, even in 1962, was one of the older hotels in Addis Ababa. It wasn’t in the center of town, but south of Smuts Street and down the hill from Mexico Square, several miles from where we were housed in the dormitories of Haile Selassie I University. While out of the way, this small, two-story rambling hotel, nevertheless, had a two-lane, American-style bowling alley; tennis courts; and most surprising of all, an African lion in its lush, tropical gardens.

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My Life in Turtles

by Allen Long

When I was a boy in Arlington, Virginia, in the Sixties, I owned a box turtle that came when I called him. His name was Grover, and he lived underneath the evergreen trees in our backyard. I stood in the middle of the lawn, holding his meal of raw hamburger and iceberg lettuce and shouted, “Grover.” Within seconds, he sprinted at turtle-speed to where I stood, and he let me crouch down and talk to him while he ate his meal. I was gentle with him, he allowed me to hold him without protest, and he never retreated into his shell on my account. Continue reading

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We Named Her Amelia

by Susan Thornton

We named her Amelia. I spent an hour in the Christian gift shop on Main street looking stupidly at audio tapes of gospel songs, video tapes of the Living Bible, refrigerator magnets with cheerful Christian sayings, before choosing a cross to put in the box with her ashes. Then I drove to the mall, where I found a kiosk called “Things Remembered.” I chose a gold plated brass name plate and waited while the young woman engraved it with her name. Gerry warned me that the ashes made a very small packet. She only weighed a little over a pound. We put the ashes in the box, with the cross, and Gerry sealed and varnished the box, and glued on the name plate. Continue reading

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