Narrative

Narrative

In October 2013 I flew out of Heathrow while sitting next to a friendly British man. It was in that liminal space between the UK and the US that I traveled, as Sontag described it, to the land of the sick; four hours from landing, I began to drip sweaty...
On Fluency and Surrender

On Fluency and Surrender

Google’s first result for “stutter synonyms” is “stammer” but I prefer the former. It always feels like a letdown when synonyms don’t ring true. Stammerers approximate. Stutterers struggle. “Stammer” comes from a Proto-Germanic variant of the verb “stumm,” meaning “to mute.” “Stutter” also comes from a Proto-Germanic verb, but this...
You Were Always on My Mind: A Love Letter to Migraine

You Were Always on My Mind: A Love Letter to Migraine

We met when I was eleven—on the cusp of my first blood—in that Taco Bell on University with the refried beans stuck to the windows. I thought you were so cool with your Pearl Jam T-shirt, Nevermind spinning in your Discman. Curling into that corner booth, I rested my head...
Running After Her

Running After Her

I sit in a slant of winter sun in the living room I share with my husband, Tim. From its safety, I Google the medication I must take to stay free of locked rooms where nurses strip me, chart my scars. Then I add, “+ pregnancy.” Hunched before the screen,...
Bath Hour

Bath Hour

I run the bath at 3 a.m. Occasionally at 4 a.m., 2 a.m., 1 a.m., 5 a.m. Whenever my small body shivers with fever and can’t get warm, but more so, like this morning, when the pain builds like waves, like a California earthquake, spreading across my back and down...
Rain on the Wind

Rain on the Wind

My sweatpants bound my ankles together. An inventory on the sink beside me: on a clean paper towel, a shiny packet of lubricant and a mint-green catheter wrapper, ripped open. The toilet seat numbed my butt cheeks, flesh on chill porcelain. A table-top mirror balanced atop a milk crate in...
Let's Say

Let’s Say

“Let’s say I found the key behind a secret panel,” Andra whispers. Tonight, instead of my ten-year-old sister, she’s Julie, the beautiful detective from The Mod Squad. I’m not four-year-old me either, but an equally beautiful teenager named Heather whose foot is chained to a bed. “Now I just have...
Out Back

Out Back

They hear me coming before they see me. I round the corner of the house, my entrance heralded by cockatiel cheeps and peeps and a call just for me. So quickly they have learned my new routine. I pause at the window, press my face to the screen. Through double...
Conduction

Conduction

When people next to you begin to swipe left and right on bodies on their phones, the black glass like polished fulgurite, don’t feel like you have to feel left out just because you’re aro/ace. Join in their looking at the faces and chests, even if they have to tell...
Last Words

Last Words

The dictionary, red and tattered, sits in a cardboard box in my garage along with a telephone, its only button programmed to speed-dial my mobile number. Both items once belonged to my mother. For a time, the dictionary and its 1,550 pages of definitions comforted her. A woman of words,...
Hollywood

Hollywood

I call my mother to tell her I’m dying. I am laying on my back on the dirty off-white carpet of my apartment in Maryland, having another panic attack. Of course, I am not dying. I feel outside my body, as if I’m looking down on myself telling her my...
A Cleaving

A Cleaving

My mother, my mother’s mother, and her mother, and her mother, and her mother’s mother—their worries, fears, traumas, triumphs—all live here in the bowels of my bowels. Tucked in right next to my womb, curled like a sleeping retriever. The pulsing and pushing and swirling of want and need wrapped...
10.23.15

10.23.15

You want to—or at least feel you should try to—make some meaning out of that night, the night you jumped off the roof. Everything went black, you weren’t expecting that to lift, but it did and you find yourself in ICU three days later, intubated; every limb and appendage in...
Olfactory

Olfactory

These days, she is furious about his smell; men’s deodorant, she says, and doesn’t want her clothes washed with his. He is offended. He once held her against his bare chest. She furrowed into his freckles, into his chest hairs, now spindly like worms out in the sun too long....
Sick and Well Time

Sick and Well Time

I have to write down somewhere how I feel on the days when I don’t move and I don’t stay still. When my legs slide over the bed-edge and I’m walking to the bathroom, putting toothpaste on the brush, tasting mint on my tongue—and still part of me is back...
Latest Issue
Issue 65 / Experiences of Disability

Issue 65 / Experiences of Disability

This special issue considers all aspects of illness and disability: what it is, what it means, how our understanding of disability is changing. The 15 brief essays explore how disability is learned, lived over the entire course of a life, and how our changing understanding of disability shapes the way we experience ourselves and others....
Craft Essays

Craft Essays

In our Craft section, special issue guest editors Keah Brown, Sarah Fawn Montgomery, and Sonya Huber, discuss how our current social and political climate shaped the essays chosen; Erin Van Rheenen interviews Lavinia Spalding, editor of The Best Women’s Travel Writing; and Nancy Geyer talks memoir with Rebecca McClanahan.
Teaching with Brevity

Teaching with Brevity

Apprentice writers, students, and teachers can use our Brevity Archives and index to examine various craft elements and subject areas, and to locate models for essay types and craft techniques.