Grocery Shopping With My Dead Mother
By Jodi Freeman
Under the store’s florescent lights I see that this handwritten recipe for Chicken and Dumpling Soup is as fragile as dry butterfly wings. The creases are as good as rips. The page is the color of rancid butter, dotted with grease marks, marred by years of being folded into fourths and stored with 3X5 cards and Good Housekeeping clippings in the unremarkable yellow plastic box.
I snuck my mother’s recipe box out of my father’s house with the other kitchen items I took to my first on-campus apartment. Not that he wouldn’t share it with me, but he would have insisted the artifact itself remain safe at home. I didn’t trust myself to explain that I’m hollow and imagine my mother’s food will fill me. Everyday things that will hold my skin to my bones. Won’t articulate that these recipes may be the letter she never left, explaining what I needed to know about being a woman that she didn’t live to tell me. Continue reading “ISSUE 21: MARCH 2019”→
Many thanks to Judge Charles Rammelkamp for choosing our contest theme and volunteering his time to select the three prizewinners. Thanks also to the 250 brilliant writers who entered this contest.
FIRST PRIZE: Andrew M Stockton, Sunday Lunch (Again) SECOND PRIZE: Lesley Middleton, Little Joe THIRD PRIZE: Mark Warren, The Cleaner
Judge: Charles Rammelkamp
First Prize: Sunday Lunch (Again) by Andrew M. Stockton
Judge’s Comments: Sunday Lunch (Again) is like an oyster concealing a pearl. Just as the food smells are described as “invisible but powerful,” so is the secret of incest that’s only alluded to. Is it the daughter’s father? Her uncle? Both? All that’s certain is the shame and the “naked, remorseless memories” behind the sham of the family dinner.
Sunday Lunch (Again)
By Andrew M Stockton
Walking into cooking-smells, cabbage, the roast, food smells, invisible but powerful, making me salivate. “Hi, it’s me; your daughter’s home for Sunday lunch! Feed me!”
Dad’s laid the table, and the tablecloth is so bright and white it could warn ships about hazards. Wish I’d had such a hazard warning years ago. Mum checks the cutlery and moves the bottle of wine that uncle Danny bought to hide a small stain on the cloth. Continue reading “CONCEALMENT – WRITING CONTEST RESULTS”→
Pants and shirt pressed, tie tucked between the third and fourth buttons, he pedaled into the March wind. Once around the town Square, he dodged traffic and cut down a side street that would dump him onto the main quad in plenty of time to turn in the work he’d spent the weekend compiling before his 2 PM Calculus I lecture. His advisor had warned him not to go down the rabbit hole of Rajnipal’s Third Theorem, but after two years of proofs and equations, he was about to come out the other end. He’d be famous—reasonably so. Not cover of Time famous, but well-known enough to snag one of the ever-dwindling number of tenure track jobs on offer at flagship institutions.
Just as he squeezed the handbrake in preparation for the turn onto University Avenue, a car door swung open before him, followed by the chatter of a cell-phone-holding coed. “Can you believe she wants me to pay for the dress myself? I mean—oh my God, something hit me!” Continue reading “ISSUE 13: MARCH 2017”→
I saw her walking toward the Ponte Vecchio again late in the afternoon. Not even her eyes could tell where, so warm and lustrous, but always cast down as if the earth speaking, and her father watching, always watching, though not directly, as if a master guiding a horse from behind that, with the tap of a switch or the flick of an eyebrow or some low whistle in his throat, could make her turn or pirouette. She only had to hear the wind to move closer or more distant from everything around. He could direct her ever so subtly in a new direction like some magician probing a dark secret.
This passionless movement of the earth below her feet and the father’s power to move it and to watch his daughter move with it over the Arno, back and forth, was like some frothy wave of light. Her long brown hair twisted over her shoulder made me wonder. She looked like some melancholic angel fallen to earth, though no words passed between us, only this languid, distant walk, a product of her father’s training, his mind, his thoughts. Here he was with daughter pausing to his reckoning, her face consuming my heart like some wild inextinguishable flame night and day on the streets of Florence. Continue reading “ISSUE 9: MARCH 2016”→