New Issue Released
2019: Volume 9, Issue 1 is out now.
Featuring work from: Steven Beckwith, J. Malcolm Garcia, Jay Bush, Gary Fincke, Barbara Altamirano , Tracy Youngblom, Zach Reichert, Devorah Uriel, Chris Davis, Kirk Boys, Patrick Dobson, Mario Loprete, Dennis “Suge” Thompson, Flo Gelo, Peyton Vance, Susan D. Bernstein, Rosanne Trost, J.D. Scrimgeour, Sara Birch, Robert D. Kirvel, John Donaghy
Weekly Featured Essay
Rescuing animals–and others–through the fierceness of love.
by Hannah Melin
When Avery grows up, she will be an “animal rescuer, just like her Mom!” Every adult in Avery’s life is assigned an animal: a kangaroo for her father, a vulture for her mother. For the first week as her babysitter, I am watched cautiously from behind a stuffed lion. After a week of careful consideration, I am labeled a zebra.
No jokes are made about Erin’s title as a vulture. Erin grins and swings Avery around in a hug when she correctly recites a fact on the wingspan of an African Condor or the lifecycle of a Common Turkey Vulture. Above their television set, framed photos of Avery in diapers are mixed in with fuzz-headed owlets, fledgling eagles, and newly hatched vultures. Foot-long, sleek black feathers are tucked between well-worn romance novels and dog-training guides.
Blood on the Stoop: Four Tales
by Evelyn Martinez
Fat maroon spatters cascaded from the second-story entrance of the Victorian house where I lived on 15th Street to the sidewalk, coalescing into a splashy blob at the front curb, almost dry and shockingly vivid against the grungy cement.
We lived one block from Notre Dame Grammar School. My guardian, Antonia, did not trust me to travel to and from school on my own. Class dismissed at 2:45 pm, and I’d shoot out the door, out the gate, and into the beige 1953 Mercury double-parked out front. While the other girls sauntered out in chatty clumps, I’d be tripping over Antonia’s sharp knees to slither into the back seat behind a grumpy Arturo Hill, her current husband. They were old. I was ashamed of them and of myself.
On that afternoon I skidded to a stop outside the school entrance, confused. Where were they?
I waited and waited. Something was wrong and I had no clue how to respond. Daring to walk home was risking Antonia’s rage.
Click Here to Chat with an Online Therapist
by Shellie Richards
Concerned about your test score? Click here to chat with an online therapist.
My immediate concern was not my test score, but that an intrusive dialogue box would appear in the lower right-hand corner. Hello! How can I help you today? Only I wasn’t trying to return a pair of ill-fitting sandals or a T-shirt that ran small. I had just finished the test for the Asperger’s Quotient, and my score had me deep in Asperger’s territory. I was in the thick of it. But I was not concerned. I was not even surprised.
In true Asperger’s fashion, I did not want to chat online. I don’t prefer to chat. I prefer to talk about why I am even here to begin with. I want to know about the human condition, if suffering makes us who we are, whether we are alone. I want to know the why of things. Why is why I took the test. Curiosity. Suspicion. And so I answered fifty questions about my imagination, about counting things, about comfort.
When the Sun Rises without You
by Barbara Joyce-Hawryluk
Her chest rises and falls, hitching a little as her eyes track the second hand of the clock until it reaches twelve. In twenty-nine minutes, she’ll be dead.
A question aches inside Julie Silke, a grim tear bleeding down a sallow cheek. How do you close your eyes for the last time? Let the lids fall, little by little, as the person in front of you, the one you loved from the second you felt her kick inside your womb, slowly vanishes from sight. Forever.
She doesn’t want to leave her only child. She doesn’t want to die.
by Fabrizia Faustinella
The sky was darkening, crowded by black, ominous clouds blown by a forceful wind. Dust and leaves swirled in the air, waiting for the rain to ground them again. I could feel and smell the humidity from the Gulf. I almost could smell the sea. I certainly could hear the loud shrieks of the seagulls and saw several picking up trash in the desolated parking lot of the grocery store. The horizon was a brilliant crimson, spectacular and eerie. Was the sun setting in a large pool of blood? Why do I think such stupid things? Vivid imagination or cognitive distortion? Forget it. I’d better hurry up. The storm was coming.
I loaded the groceries in the trunk of the car and I drove away. Traffic was light. It felt strange to see the entire road ahead of me, almost deserted. I didn’t want to be the only one out there when the storm hit and I tried to speed up a little. Nobody was waiting for me at home, and I wanted to get back before dark. I forgot to leave the lights on when I left, and I didn’t look forward to the darkness of the driveway and backyard.
I had to stop at a red light. As the lid of a garbage container blew away in the wind, plastic bags, paper cups, empty cans, and all kind of debris were sent flying and skittering across the ground. Farther ahead, on the sidewalk, I saw a man in a wheelchair, alone. He struggled to move forward. He was one of the many homeless people who roam the streets of our city. It’s hard enough to be homeless, but to be homeless and stuck in a wheelchair, how much harder can that get?
by Susan Nash
In our family we don’t get cancer. We get drunk. We take drugs. We smoke. We have a wide variety of personality disorders. We fall down and break bones and have very high cholesterol, but we don’t get cancer.
That’s what I used to think anyway. But I was wrong. I now know that my dad has had prostate cancer, although he claimed at the time that he was just having his appendix out. I’ve had multiple basal cell carcinomas removed, even if those don’t really count. And then my sister got a rare and aggressive lymphoma that irrevocably and unalterably confirmed that Cancer is part of our family.
The Texture of Scars
by Karen J. Weyant
At seven, I already had scars.
The comma-shaped scrape near my left eye was from Chicken Pox. It was a small notch, but deep enough that I could feel the tiny fold of skin with my fingers. A fine white slash on my cheek was from a cut on a barbed wire fence. This smooth scar was nearly invisible, but sometimes, when my fair skin burned and freckled from the sun, the line appeared brighter, a thin white string etched across my cheek.
Cleveland City Blues
by Joe Kowalski
In the autumn of 2016, my car was double-booted because I had forged a single-day parking pass, and so I had to take the RTA Blue Line transit to Tower City in order to walk from there to Cleveland State University. Along the way, I stopped at the corner store formerly known as For Goodness Jake’s. There was an older man inside, beard peppered and scattershot against his pale skin. His clothes looked like they had been found outside of Goodwill. The dude bought a candy bar and struck up an energetic conversation with another man sitting outside on a bike.
The shabby man was speaking intensely, so I stopped to make sure that he wasn’t harassing the poor cyclist. He was clearly drunk, but the cyclist didn’t seem threatened by him. The conversation turned to politics. Eventually the man turned to me, his pupils swirling a bit before focusing.
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.
Want even more? Here are links to our two most recent issues:
Work from twenty-two fine writers. You will be transported into war zones, alongside horse tracks, within homeless shelters and food kitchens, laundromats and trailer parks. These true stories will inspire, enrage, provide hope, and change your perspective.
A full-bodied, eclectic issue featuring twenty-five essays.
Don’t Forget to Check out Our Anthologies
Encounters features fifteen eclectic essays originally appearing in bioStories magazine, all focused on some of those chance encounters that can transform our lives.