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Weekly Featured Essay

Our feature this week is from Amy Roost, who brings us a braided essay that explores the injustices that accompany violence against women and ethnic minorities–those witnessed and those experienced firsthand.

Modesty and Other Provocations

by Amy Roost

Frustrated, yet disciplined, I throw back the covers and rise from the warmth of my bed. I make coffee, feed my confused cats their treats, open my laptop at the dining room table and begin taking dictation on the intrusive thoughts that have kept me tossing and turning all night. Although I’m a night owl by nature, early morning is my favorite time of day to write. The apartment is peaceful, interruptions are few, and there’s the reward of the soft light at dawn that makes anything seem possible.

I chose writing as my second career because I wanted to ‘be the change’ by shining a light on social injustice. The hours are long and the pay sucks, but it feels like I’m finally making a difference in the world instead of merely collecting a paycheck. I spend three hours getting good work done before reluctantly heeding the “time to stand” notification my iWatch keeps sending me. Thinking of Einstein’s advice on the importance of doing nothing as a way to generate creative ideas, I go out for a walk. It’s a crisp October day and I head toward the harbor. A gentle onshore breeze combs my skin and I feel the burden of multiple deadlines begin to lift. At the two-mile mark I stand before the rippling sails of The Star of India, an old clipper ship that graces San Diego’s bayfront. I take in several deep breaths of briny air before turning around and heading for home, and more work.

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Gracepoint

by Amy Suzanne Parker

          The dense gusts outside of my apartment conjure black clouds that amass overhead. It’s 3 a.m., August 28, 2015, and I can’t help but ingest the blackness around me. Like drinking ink, venom. There is a tropical storm, Erika, in the Atlantic Ocean, gaining strength. Together, she and I whirl in the darkness.

          I awake from a vivid nightmare of past sexual abuse. Flashes of my grandpa’s hands on my seven-year-old body and a blue condom keep appearing in my mind, while the tropical storm surges in my head. Erika sweeps her skirt in a spiral in my skull. Soon I find myself in the bathroom, the cap of the Klonopin bottle off, the bottle tilted toward my open hand, a bottle of SmartWater to wash it all down. After the pills, the vodka in the pantry. I read somewhere that the combination of benzos and alcohol is fatal.

          I put the cap back on the Klonopin bottle, dress as quietly as possible, grab my purse and keys so I don’t wake my sleeping boyfriend who works two jobs, and plug “Tampa General Hospital” (TGH) into my phone for directions.

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At Ease

by Tim Bascom

I have a vague memory of curling up in the carpeted footwell of a car when I was only three or four, back in the days before seat belt laws. I think I fell asleep down there with the warm purr of the engine, oblivious to the problems of the outer world, problems that were for adults to resolve, not me. And later, when I was on family vacations as a ten- or eleven-year old, I clearly remember getting tired of sitting between my two sweaty brothers then throwing my chubby pre-pubescent body over the back seat into the luggage area of our Rambler station wagon, where I sprawled across the duffle bag that held our canvas tent and across the flannel sleeping bags. The Rambler swayed and rumbled. I could see out the rear window to the stars, which glittered in the immense sky, flickering as we passed under silhouetted trees. And I dozed off without thought or worry. Limbs loose. Free of pain. Hair whirling in the breeze from an open window. Without a care.

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Big League

by Joe Dworetzky

 “Are you the one?”

“This is Jim Fitzgerald,” my voice mail said. “I’m looking for a Joe ‘Doorsky’. If you are him, please give me a call. It’s about Kensico Little League.”

Kensico Little League?

Kensico was where I played baseball as a boy. My family moved away more than thirty years ago. I had never heard of Jim Fitzgerald.

I called him back and gave my name.

“Which one?” I asked.

“The one who played Little League in Valhalla, New York.” “Yes, I’m that one.”

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Familiar

by Terri Sutton

I had forgotten what it was like. To be Black and applying for something … a job, a loan, an apartment. It had been almost ten years since I bought my condo and three times that since I’d interviewed for a job.

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The Opening Tip

by Richard Ault

The moment is frozen in the amber of my mind: I am caught, still hanging, held aloft by the updraft of the crowd’s roar, dropping the ball in the basket. In that waking dream, I never come down. To this day, even in my eighties, this is a highlight not just of my high school basketball career but of my life.

In reality, though, from that height, my senior season came down with a crash, and all too often even now when I wake up at two or three in the morning, I still try to figure out why.

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Stone City

by Kymberli Hagelberg

A pack of young cousins crowded into the back of the yellow brick chapel. We were hovering behind the last pew near the stained-glass doors, all of us itching to move on to something more interesting. Indoor services take longer, but I was grateful not to have to stand outside. A cold drizzle that bounced off acres of tombstones beyond the chapel doors would have spotted the suede coat I loved to show off and flattened my carefully blow-dried hair.

That’s what I recall about the service for Uncle Bob, my mother’s eldest brother: my teenage vanity, the green pears on the buffet table at the wake afterwards, and the bottle of gin a cousin commandeered for us when one of the aunties looked away. 

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The Wall

by Eszter Szentirmai

“It was our chance to get out. We had everything lined up, the car that was supposed to pick us up, the driver … Our bags were packed with the essentials. We knew exactly what we had to do, how to hide, how we were going to make it across the border into Austria. It was risky, but it was possibly the least risky time to go. So many people were leaving then. And the Communists were much more preoccupied with squashing the revolution and didn’t have the manpower or the time to pay attention to the mass exodus. We had only a tiny sliver of time before they would organize and bring in more people, so we knew that if we were to leave, it had to be fast. This was in 1956, ten years before your father was even born …” 

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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.