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 rivulets in the air-conditioned plane. I...
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 one, “staut,” means to push,...
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 on the greasy Formica and...
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, I cry for my unconceived...
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 my legs. Even at age...
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 front of me, poked up...
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 to figure out how to...
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 walls of mesh and cage...
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 you what makes someone attractive....
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, my mother wrote the food...
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 goodbyes. I want my sister...
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 in tight like a lowercase...
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 your body broken; a smashed...
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. They breathed into one another’s...
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 in the bed, folding and...

Experiences of Disability: Our Guest Editors in Conversation

Sarah Fawn Montgomery: Editing this Brevity special issue, Experiences of Disability, has been an interesting process that reminds us of the power of language and the privilege of publishing. Can you both talk about why you initially wanted to edit this special issue, as well as the ways the emergence of COVID-19 and our current...