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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

With this week’s feature, the title says it all:

A Life in Five Buicks

Roadmaster

Summertime, Hopkins, Minnesota: I toddle from the back door of the Elmo Park Apartments, skinny in suspendered blue corduroy pants. My dark, water-slicked hair is caught just above the right ear by a bobbypin.

          Suddenly, I stop short. Looming before me in the driveway is my father’s new, two-tone Buick Roadmaster, massively at rest on its tumescent whitewalls. The car, jade and loden green, fills my vision like a whale; as if its mighty grille of chrome baleen could suck up the road. Four incredible tunnels in its side, leading to God-knows-where, attest to its pedigree.

          The neighbors have flooded out to gawk, as amazed as if dad had taxied up in the B-24 Liberator he had flown in the South Pacific. The women, pregnant in cotton housedresses with bright scarves wound around their pincurls, stroke the monster’s bulging flanks. The men, beer bottles in hand, wear pleated pants into which white undershirts are tucked. They stride up and spank the Buick commandingly, nod at the engine statistics, call it “she.” 

          At my appearance, all turn with tolerant amusement to savor my response. I am gaping at the giant intruder, eyes smoky with suspicion. Attempts to pull me near for an introduction fail. To everyone’s delight, my confusion soon resolves itself into a drawn-out wail.

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MORE ESSAYS

Gardening with Mary

by Carolyn Bastick

Mary was the previous owner of my new Minneapolis home. I learned she had died that autumn, only sixty-nine, taken quickly by cancer. She was a gardener. An Army photographer. Her photograph filing cases (disappointingly empty) were to be left in the basement, too heavy to move. I was happy to allow them to remain in my keeping.

My move to this new home in 2017 was not planned. I was not supposed to be in Minnesota. The daughter of a British Army officer accustomed to the upheaval of military life, back in 1981 I had barely given a thought to the consequences of marrying an American and moving to the Twin Cities. Yet for over thirty-five years, I held England close to my heart, waiting for the day I could return.

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Eye of the Beholder

by David Raney

Call me male-ish. According to cultural assumptions, men are supposed to like guns, but I’m not really a gun guy. As a boy I wheedled a BB gun for Christmas with the solemn vow not to shoot birds, which I did at the first opportunity. “You’ll shoot your eye out” runs the refrain from the movie Christmas Story, and at least I didn’t do that. But I shot out a bird’s. Stalking the wild sparrow in our back yard, I missed innumerable times before chance brought down a luckless thing from our birch tree, a bead of blood vividly welling where its eye had been. I stood over it dumbfounded until a rap at the picture window startled me and I saw my brother pointing in the dramatic full-body pose we now refer to as J’Accuse! before running off to find my mother and bring down justice. It didn’t surprise me when I later read that the last wild passenger pigeon, out of billions darkening pre-1900 American skies, was killed in Ohio by a boy with a BB gun.

Men are fascinated by cars, too, I’m told, and football and fixing things, and we’re competitive sexbots, comparing conquests and notching headboards. I don’t really qualify as “manly” on those counts either, though I can be adolescently competitive in the sports I care about. But testosterone levels aside, here’s my question: Is it possible to connect with people first as humans, and only afterward as men and women? Unless we’ve taken monastic vows, we interact with each other all day, at work and play and school, shopping, dating. But sometimes it seems less interacting than circling: shy, cocky, avid, wary, desperate for attention, wishing we were invisible.

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The Animal Lover at Seven and Thirty-seven

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.

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Blood on the Stoop: Four Tales

by Evelyn Martinez

I

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.

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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.

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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.

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Flotsam

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?

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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:

2019: Volume 9, Issue 1

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.


2018: Volume 8, Issue 1

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.