This issue has a bully thread running through it; the essays range from humorous to painful, and remind the reader that childhood is often a rollercoaster of dodged threats, unwanted pursuits, emotional crises, and coming to terms with how to best situate what other people put us through so we can move on with our whole lives.
Childhood can be funny, heartbreaking, and dangerous; and some parts of it are unforgettable.
In The Bibliosquatter, Glassman confesses her childhood secret life at the library; and by secret we mean secret. You can’t help but be impressed and awed by the lengths she goes to while escaping her personal bully. What were 1970s parents doing again?
Halscheid’s flash piece recalls the meanness of boys who waited for her daily, harassing her and mocking her appearance as she tried to best cover her starving body during her father’s illness. The narrator’s loneliness becomes something we can’t un-feel.
Jacobson’s haunting memories of a girl he loved and her unexplained disappearance from his life linger like salty air or soft flowers; the entire narrative feels like something evoked from a mysterious scent, something that triggers a sense of loss but exchanges what it takes for something beautiful.
In Breaking Character, Kovac’s childhood ballet takes a Lord of The Flies turn that, while bringing a laugh, also owns up to how we feel deep desires and rages even when very young — emotions and wants on a level that feel familiar from an adult perspective. (Her recounting of a teacher’s memories of winters in Germany is not to be missed. You’ll appreciate The Nutcracker on a new level.)
Waters tries to make peace with her mother’s obsessions with what other people think of her and her family. Many readers will recognize the experience of trying to please a parent who cannot be satisfied, and spending years seeking the best way to accept that parent and to love oneself.
Finally, Williams explores a relationship that spans childhood to adulthood, and that reveals some uncomfortable truths about competition, judgement, and control in unexpected places. Readers no doubt will recognize some version of this evolution in their own lives. The reappearance of the rabbit (What is the rabbit, in fact?) towards the end of the essay is a brilliant touch.
Come read and enjoy!
The writers have worked hard to bring you their experience, wisdom, and places for empathy and understanding. Our team of readers and editors are privileged to assist.
P.S. Submissions open soon for our next issue: February 1, 2021-April 2, 2021.
Thank you for your support.