Happy Halloween! In this month’s New Writing on the Net, reader Rebecca Williamson shares her favorite new fictions and essays published online in the last month. Find your weekend reading list right here.
“Shadows and Light” by Meg Pacelli | Everyday Fiction, October 7
I want more of her smell, and as I pull shirts from the closet, bringing them to my face and greedily breathing it in, I see that the closet floor is lined with gifts. They are wrapped in brown paper, and carefully labeled — with my name. There are nine. One for every year we’ve been apart.
“Outpouring” by Vin Maskell | Hobart, October 13
I learn to hold each bottle at arm’s length and let the amber liquid fall to, and seep into, the dirt, the soil of my parent’s retirement house. The liquid bubbles momentarily as it soaks in, creating a darker hue of soil. There is a rhythm to the process. A fluidity. And rather than just memories, there is gratitude. You can never thank your parents enough because you can never fully appreciate all they have done for you.
“My Mother in Seven Superlatives: A very brief memoir” by B.G. Firmani | Southeast Review, October 22
My mother’s past seemed mythic to me, so different from what I saw as the diminished present that we were stuck living in when I was little. In some ways I saw my mother’s past as still happening, or in fact only waiting for her so that it could resume again. In my mind it was separated from the present by a kind of river that she could swim in order to get back to it; if I were lucky, I’d swim it with her.
“Leaning into the End of the World” by Matthew Hawkins | The Normal School, October 14
Jude stroked Nathaniel’s full unibrow, like one would a caterpillar in the wild, and told him that he’d killed three people and only two of them were after the election. When Jude said this, he spoke slow and elongated his syllables, like it hurt. This didn’t bother Nathaniel. He believed in second chances. He thought about how Jude’s voice sounded like a hymn. Deep down, Nathaniel felt like they were fulfilling some sort of fucked up prophecy by being in that bed in a discarded Motel 6, outside of Atlanta, together—an afterthought to the world. With everything considered, Nathaniel still had faith things happened for a reason.
“#CampusClear# by Rebecca Chase | Scoundrel Time, October 20
My stomach is not good at digesting so much death. Sometimes I have to lie down on the floor. Sometimes I have to teach a class, and even though the students’ screen are dark I keep talking. I’ve been present for one death and two births in my life, not counting the births of my own two children. They say hearing is the last of the five senses to go; we keep singing to the dying until the body clicks out.
“Border Funeral” by Victoria Blanco | Kenyon Review, October 2020
Five years after Abuelita’s death, I asked my mom what she thought Abuelita meant by “las flores son para los vivos, no para los muertos.”
“I guess she was trying to express that we should enjoy the time we have with her now, and also honor her death wishes,” my mom replied.
Fine lines etched my mom’s face; she was now in her seventies. Later, over dinner, she asked me to spread her ashes at the base of the Franklin Mountains, the shadow of which she has lived under since she arrived in El Paso as a young doctor. The thought of her death made my chest tighten. When I had collected myself, I argued with her. I don’t like the idea of my mom’s ashes scattered across the hard desert floor. “Where will I bring you flowers?” I asked her.
Curated by Rebecca Williamson