Winter/Spring: Volume 7, Issue 1 New Issue Released!
Weekly Featured Essay
In this week’s featured essay, Jiaqi Li introduces us to a primary school classmate, Yuelong, a boy her teachers told her and her classmates they should treat as if he did not exist.
Yuelong Ma was a transfer student. For almost two years, he was in our class, but his presence was hardly felt. Our inability to take notice of him wasn’t his fault; my previous headteacher ruined things for him from the very beginning. On his first day with us, the headteacher briefly introduced him, saying only “Yuelong Ma used to study in class 8, but from today on, he will be with us.” He was sort of lanky. He had big eyes. Before I could cast a second glance, the headteacher sent him to her office to do some errand so that he would not hear the rest of her speech. But when the door closed, she hesitated to resume, knitting her brows and biting her lips. She was a very young teacher, and in retrospect, it must have been a tough issue for a novice headteacher like her to address. She wanted to do right. The silence built to a depressing note, and we started to whisper to each other. She cleared her throat and said, “There were some irreconcilable issues in his old class, and I volunteered to accept him into our class as I think he is kind.” She paused, glancing at our faces, and continued, “But he is still a bad student. You guys should never play with him. Just leave him be.”
by Michelle Cacho-Negrete
My experience is the same as Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s who said, “My mind only works with my legs.” I’ve written every essay, thesis, short story on my feet. My mother insisted I was even a rambler in utero, the truth of that confirmed by an article proclaiming babies walk in the womb. They press their tiny feet against the uterine wall and push off, those first circular strolls an introduction to the exhilaration of movement. My mother was an incessant walker: the mile and a half to the Brooklyn/Manhattan subway, then climbing stairs to her third-floor job as a file clerk, enjoying a brisk lunch-time jaunt, and later reversing the sequence to go home.
by Susan Moldaw
Despite my skepticism, about a year ago I went to see a medium at a mindfulness spa in Arizona. The medium met me in the hotel lobby and led me to a small, windowless room with two straight-backed chairs and a desk between them. We sat and faced one another across the wood divide. She had full cheeks, a snub nose, and a blond bouffant that fell blowzily past her shoulders.
“You’re here because your father wants you to understand he’s with you all the time,” she said. Her clear voice conveyed authority. She tapped her high-heeled sandals against the concrete floor.
I reached for the box of Kleenex on the desk, my rational mind already a muddle. My father died five years ago.
An Unreasonable Couple
by Marlena Fiol
On June 9, 1941, two years into the second Great War, as Nazi troops advanced deep into the Soviet Union, a young, single, adventurous doctor named John Schmidt boarded a ship in New York for the eighteen-day trip to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, a stopping point on his way to Paraguay. The Atlantic Ocean was a war zone patrolled by Nazi submarines. Because the U.S. was still neutral, the ship’s name and two large American flags were painted on both sides of the hull. At night, the ship sailed fully lit. It was a mighty blazing vessel, making its way through dangerous waters, carrying among its passengers a zealous man on a mission.
After spending a few days in Rio, John boarded a plane that took him across the vast land of Brazil. He arrived in Asunción, the capital city of Paraguay, on a cold rainy afternoon in mid-July. Gaunt and emaciated from almost constant diarrhea and vomiting during more than a month of travel, he deplaned and breathed in the smoky, sweet, heavy, pungent odors of Paraguay.
by Joyce H. Munro
I’m pretty sure I know how the fire started, though I can’t be certain. Newspaper reporters weren’t certain either. You can read evasion all over their conclusion: “The origin is supposed to have been a defective flue in the basement of the Riverside Hotel.” Defective flue, my eye. Something more combustible happened down in the basement that night in 1875.
Eight o’clock—closing time at Nat’s Oyster Saloon. Knowing Nat, he probably told his kitchen help to go home early, business was slow anyway. Then he stayed on alone to close up the place. His pride and joy. Recently opened in downtown Milton, Pennsylvania, on the lower level of his father’s new hotel. The place of resort for gents and ladies. Good square meals at reasonable prices. Best desserts in town. Fresh bivalves served in any style desired. Raw. Baked. Stewed. Scalloped. Fried.
If you’re like me, you eat your oysters on the half shell or fried. Forget chopped-up or soupy. My husband likes them fried, he, being from the south where frying is de rigueur. Ever since we moved to the Philly area, he’s been on the lookout for restaurants serving decent fried oysters, but there’s only one that meets the desires of his taste buds—the Oyster House in Center City. So on occasion, we have resorted to frying them up ourselves.
by John Garcia
The other week when I followed a dirt path in an industrial area of Kansas City, Missouri known as the West Bottoms, I found a kitten. Or, I should say, it found me. The trail twisted around trees and over rusted train tracks and past a camp of homeless army veterans. I was a reporter writing a story about federal budget cuts in programs for homeless veterans for The Kansas City Star. I wanted to ask them what they thought of the reductions.
Just as I was looking for a place to sit, I felt something claw into the back of my right thigh. I jerked around and looked over my shoulder while swatting at my leg. Whatever it was, dug in deeper, and I turned faster and faster, cursing, and finally grabbed it but I lost my balance and fell. One of the vets stepped over me, bent down and picked up whatever it was that had been squirming in my hand. He looked down at me, the trees behind him towering above us blocking the sun.
“Cat,” he said.
Mercy in Decline
by Connie Miller
Somewhere in her late fifties, my mother started telling me I had to kill her. She’d reiterate the request periodically, as if to tattoo it onto my brain. “I can’t bear the thought,” she’d repeat, “of becoming bedridden and dependent. You have to kill me before that happens.”
My mother’s end-of-life plans, emphatic as they may have been, hovered like storm clouds on a far horizon, ominous but reassuringly remote. Until she started falling. She cracked her head on the corner of a table. There was blood on her carpet. The retirement community where she had stayed on after my father died was 2000 miles away from me. That distance, manageable for occasional visits, yawned, abruptly, into a chasm.
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.
Winter/Spring: Volume 7, Issue 1 New Issue Released!
Twenty-two essays from Volume 7, Issue 1.
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.
Issue Reviewed at NewPages
Appreciation goes out to Katy Haas at NewPages for taking time to review the Winter/Spring 2016 Issue.