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Weekly Featured Essay

In this week’s featured essay “Lost & Found” Toti O’Brien offers an entrancing, structurally layered remembrance of her beloved uncle and his deathbed obsessions with a murder that took place on the university campus where he had long served as an engineering professor.

Lost & Found

by Toti O’Brien

There is death, and there is untimely death. They are different. Twenty years after your passing I still wonder about the appropriateness of your early call. About its legitimacy. I think of these two decades apparently stolen from you—an expanse of days, weeks, months, inexorably attached, marching forward without hesitation. They did not stop and wait to see if you’d catch up, when you slipped off board. No. Time didn’t look back.

I do. When I glance behind my shoulder I see an intricate, colorful landscape you might have enjoyed exploring . . . I wonder why you weren’t given a chance. Is there any ratio to life’s diverse spans? Any reason beyond erratic sentencing? Any justice?

 

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Papi and Me

by Ricardo José González-Rothi

A sixteen-degree forecast for North Florida was about the only type of day one would dare wear a herring bone wool sports coat and not look out of place. As I peeled the plastic bag off the hanger and pulled it from the closet, I noticed the handkerchief in the breast pocket.

The prior summer, I had found myself consoling a despondent mother, making funeral arrangements, and sorting through my dead father’s belongings. He had owned the jacket for over thirty years, probably only wearing it three or four times. Sporting hand-crafted leather buttons, wide lapels, and stitched lining, Papi boasted about “the thick and precise weave, that it was handmade in Scotland… .” He had bought it on sale at Schlessinger’s, paying cash. It was the only nice thing my father ever bought for himself since we came to America.

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Mizungo

by Sophia McGovern

Kampala is a hive. Streets teem with cold, dark faces that turn to land on me from everywhere—from the backs of motorbikes, from inside vans bursting with strangers. From police officers wearing semi-automatic rifles like sashes. These faces stare at my white skin that reeks of money and a life in an America that more closely resembles the lost Eden.

Strange hands brush over my skin, and quickly take hold of my soft hair. The one familiar hand I cling to leads gently. It wards off propositions and proposals from men who can’t see past my female form and pale skin.

I am coveted.

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Valediction

by Terry Richard Bazes

Although we were strangers when I was a young man, in time my father and I became very good friends. It was, I think, the experience of being business partners that did it—an unlikely circumstance since neither of us knew anything about real estate. But somehow, we got caught up, knee-deep in the subdivision of a one hundred-year-old Chappaqua estate where we were decidedly the interlopers. In that improbable heyday of our time together, we bought stock, bartered and schemed. I navigated the politics of a fractious step-family, and he lent money that he couldn’t afford to lose—and worried so much that he lived on Tums. Eventually he got his money back and we made our profit—and our friendship. “I didn’t think you had it in you,” he said.

After that—when I lived far away and had sons of my own—my father and I spoke mostly on the phone. At first, in that shy way of his, he wouldn’t quite know what to say, and so there’d be a moment’s silence until I would find a way to begin. But there were always all the things we didn’t say—not because they couldn’t be said, but because there was something more articulate in the noiseless depth of feeling between us. And so, when I went down to Florida to visit him, I always sat beside him and it never really mattered what we talked about.

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The Places They Could Go

by Rebecca Potter

I have a lump in my throat as soon as Pomp and Circumstance begins and the graduates file in. I sit with other robed teachers on one side of the graduating class, so close I can smell Ethan’s too-strong cologne and read the glittery inscription painted on Olivia’s mortar board: I applied to Hogwarts but was accepted at UK. Go Wildcats! Family and friends of the graduates surround us in stadium seating. Some wear suits and ties and others wear plaid button-down shirts tucked into khaki shorts. Several parents carry bouquets and gift bags. Phones out and ready. Now and then someone yells something like “You go, girl!” or “We love you, Matt!”  For a moment or two I put myself in the place of one of those parents watching a ceremony that officially says my child is grown and will be leaving me soon. I exhale deeply to prevent myself from crying.

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This Is a Dickie Lee Song

by Maria Trombetta

Dammit, Dickie Lee, you were supposed to live forever. You always said to me, “No way, uhn uhn, not me. I’m never gonna die. I’m gonna live forever. I’m stayin alive, like John Travolta. Stayin aliiiive, iiiiiiv—ah!”

He used to say he was born in the Sonoma State Hospital on March 6th, 1948. I can’t find any records of anyone being born there, no doubt his parents brought him there when he was a baby, less than two years old, after they realized he was blind. Albert says that Dickie Lee was on the little kid unit with him, Baine Cottage. When I met Dickie Lee he asked me my name, date of birth and place of birth. Vital facts that he stored in his mind for years. The fever that made him lose his eyesight may have pushed another part of his brain into overdrive, because he had a thing for dates and for music, an incredible memory bank that held lyrics and birthdays. He could tell anyone what day their birthday was going to fall on this year and next year. When I saw him in last April, he told me that in 2015, my birthday would be on a Friday.

“Your name is Maria Trombetta and you were born on January 30th in Santa Rosa, right? You are married to Jonathan Palmer and his birthday is September 9th and he was born in Baltimore. Is his sister still Diane Bowcher and her birthday is March 31st?”

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Step Over

by John McCaffrey

The best year of Allen Iverson’s life was my worst. Determined to shed a “me-first” image, AI had bought into a team concept under new coach Larry Brown and propelled the underdog 76ers into the 2001 NBA Championship series against the star-powered Los Angeles Lakers. On the way, he had won the All-Star and League MVP trophies, dazzling fans and fellow players with his mercurial quickness and relentless offensive attack. He was relentless and fearless going to the basket against much larger foes, flinging his tat-laden, skinny body into thick seven-footers, finding a sliver of an angle to arch the ball up and under massive arms, taking the invariable hit, and falling, his cornrows glinting in the arena light, like a spent bottle-rocket. The miracle was never that the ball went in, which it almost always did that year, but that he got up off the floor after such a beating. But he did, every time.

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 MORE RECENT WORK: Like what you’ve been reading? All the fine essays published throughout the history of the magazine can be accessed via the contributors/archives page.


New Anthology Released

We are pleased to announce publication of our new anthology Encounters, which features fifteen eclectic essays originally appearing in bioStories magazine, all focused on some of those chance encounters that can transform our lives.


Recent Issue Reviewed at NewPages

Appreciation goes out to Katy Haas at NewPages for taking time to review the Winter/Spring 2016 Issue.