Creative Nonfiction

Answers to Questions Not Anticipated

Ricardo José González-Rothi

I slip the CD into the car audio slot and the music begins. As always, Cole tells me he likes riding in my tiny car because we can play CD’s and listen to music and we dance and get silly while driving. I hunt through Goodwill stores and garage sales, always looking for “hidden jewels,” preserved covers and discs without scratches on the tracks. Cole is very specific about his likes. He doesn’t much care for little kid tales. He likes The Four Tops, Jimmy Buffett, The Beatles and Raffi. This day I slip in Jimmy Buffet’s “Greatest Hits” into the slot. Track 7.

The Voodoo Shell

Marianne Dalton

I hold the tarot card in my hand and stroke the silky surface, studying the illustration. It’s a colorful drawing of a woman seated on a throne. She’s beautifully dressed in a red billowy gown with a crown of moons on her head. I rub my fingers over the image as if using a paintbrush, imagining I’m the artist creating it. Mom’s voice interrupts my dream drawing. She directs me with her sweet sing-song upbeat tone. Put the card here on the table, face up, and then take another from the stack and flip it over next to it. Mom smiles and looks me straight in the eyes. Her cobalt blue eyes glisten and sparkle. I’m mesmerized.

Choosing Gratitude

Nancy L. Glass

Amanda, our hospice nurse, answered the door when I rang the doorbell, showed me where to leave my shoes and escorted me into the den, where I found Faiz’s mother, Haima, sitting on the floor. Haima apologized that the air conditioner was out again, for the second time in a week. Within minutes, my slacks and blouse stuck to my skin, and the air in the den felt heavy despite a frantic fan and the open window in the breakfast room.

Fear in America

Kathleen Tighe

My students are working their way through The Rime of the Ancient Mariner when the superintendent’s voice crackles over the loudspeaker. “Excuse me teachers and students. We will now conduct a hard lockdown drill. Hard lockdown.” My class responds immediately, leaving their desks and joining me in the corner furthest from the room’s single entrance. Cody flicks the light switch off, and all sink to the floor.

A Kitten Before the Fire

David Kennedy

This was not how Senator William Sharon had intended to spend his retirement. Having amassed his fortune, failed to obtain re-election, and outlived his wife, Sharon had dreamed of living off the interest, tossing aside the newspapers once he tired of politics, and paying for discreet liaisons who could be trusted to dispose of themselves once they were no longer needed. It had come as an unpleasant surprise that the tides of business were ever-changing and unpredictable…

A Smile, A Nod, A Reckoning

Jan Zlotnik Schmidt

He once smiled at me with small brown eyes that had a yellow gleam. He once sat by my child’s bed and read me fairy tales, “Wynken, Blynken and Nod,” “The Sugar Plum Tree,” and the poems of Robert Louis Stevenson. In summer he held my six-year-old hand and delighted in taking me with daddy-longlegs steps up the hill to the big lake where we sat on our haunches and watched tadpoles skitter in the shallow water at the edge of the shore. I was his treasured soul—

Pop Goes the Weasel

Paul Benkendorfer

I stood with my father on the BART platform of San Francisco, our luggage in hand and three plane tickets tucked tightly away in my pocket. We had spent the previous week with my older brother and his girlfriend to celebrate my nephew’s second birthday. The walkway was damp and covered with puddles that had formed during the rainy night. The day was humid, carrying with it the soft heat of a Bay Area July. A weird aroma of cinnamon mixed with the sewer steam of the city wafted through the breeze. Little light crept in the sunny afternoon day from above the stairwell.

Love and Patience on Mount Pico

Scott Edward Anderson

“Are you sure this is a road?” Samantha asked as the black basalt paving gave way to dark, red dirt, and the deep-green grass seemed to grow closer and closer to our rental car.
“It’s supposed to be the fastest way,” I answered. “According to Google Maps…”
Then I realized I’d lost the cell signal and my iPhone was navigating blind.

Meditation’s Coda

Michael McQuillan

The window’s tree is a friend. Its limbs pulse with rain as Sabbath meditation sifts preoccupation.
The living room corner, home within home, contents me. The sill’s cup of French Roast stimulates my molding words as poem and essay phrases on what seem urgent social concerns.

Some People Say the Holocaust Never Happened

DJ Grant

An exhibit about the life of Anne Frank has been traveling the world for decades.1 Anne Frank was a Jewish girl in hiding from the Nazis in The Netherlands during the Holocaust, the systematic destruction of the Jewish people of Europe during WWII. The diary she kept while in hiding from 1942 to 1944 is an exemplar testimonial of the Jewish experience of persecution.


Joanne Jagoda

My husband’s triple bypass surgery had gone well, and his recovery was uneventful, but ten days later, during the night he woke me up and told me he was having trouble breathing. After a sleepless night, I drove him to the emergency room, at 5 A.M. His newly patched heart checked out, but the doctors admitted him…

The Clay

Karin Doucette

The autumn evening in The Hague is cooling as I lean my bicycle against the steel stairway and step into the brightly lit atelier. It’s tucked in the corner of a green-colored building on Noordeinde, at the bottom of the long street leading up to the Dutch king’s palace.

A Mistake in the Lady

David Kennedy

Judge Sullivan, although a young man and even more junior judge, had heard his share of difficult questions from lawyers but had never seen such a simple question prove so vexing.
“I am sorry, counsel,” he said, “but I must have misheard. Could you please repeat the question?”
“Of course, Your Honor.” David Terry cleared his throat and began again. “Mrs. Sarah Althea Sharon, where were you born?”

Running Rhythms

Jon Weldon

Spring Street was strangely archaic – white concrete, not asphalt, with meandering black lines of tar. It met my legs abruptly, returning their bounce with an equal shock back, deadening and harsh, until they would get loose on the dirt road. I turned along the edges of the campus-like collection of foster homes…

Birch Trees Circling a Clearing

Jan Zlotnik Schmidt

I’m hiking with a friend on a trail next to a reservoir. On one side of us blue water, on the other, several white birch, striking amidst the dense foliage. I stop to take photos, the white streaks like long strokes of paint in a landscape of darker hues. I walk up to one, the scabbed bark so much more apparent on a closer view.

Chasing Blue Butterflies

Marianne Dalton

With his arms outstretched toward the open window, Dad chuckles like a little boy. I released another one! I clap my hands in support just as a thin ray of golden light shines into my eyes. As I walk over to the shimmering window and peer out through the bronzed dreamy sunlight, I see the front yard of my childhood home.

Daughter of the Hibernian Isle

David Kennedy

Among the well-bred and refined ladies of San Francisco, the prevailing opinion was that there could be no better sport than the breach of contract suit filed by Sarah Althea Sharon, née Hill, against Senator William Sharon. Let the men have their boxing-matches, the boys their football games — why, this was entertainment of the highest order, a clash in the greatest rivalry of all, that between the sexes.

In the Fourth Quarter

Linda Schifino

I was sitting at my kitchen counter munching on leftover pizza when my phone pinged with a text. A dear friend was offering condolences on the death of another friend. My pizza dropped from my hand, and my breath caught in my chest. I had been away recently, distracted for a few weeks with travel plans, exhausted after returning home. Just the day before I thought about emailing my friend but didn’t get around to it. Now, she’s gone.

Pa Bliye Haiti

Christopher Parent

In the summer of 2010, my wife, Melissa, and I set off for Jacmel, Haiti, a port city of around 137,000 people that sits on the country’s Southern coast and about 40 kilometers from Port-au-Prince. It was seven months after an earthquake had made a desperate nation look apocalyptic and ravaged an already fragile infrastructure. Jacmel was damaged but serene in comparison to Port-au-Prince, where the streets were blocked by debris and traffic medians were filled with displaced residents sleeping in USAID tents.

The Strange Case of the Love Contract

David Kennedy

It took everything in Justice Stephen Field’s power to restrain himself from laughing.
“In the City and County of San Francisco, State of California,” the document stated, “on the 25th day of August, A.D. 1880, I Sarah Althea Hill, of the City and County of San Francisco, State of California, age 27 years, do here in the presence of Almighty God, take Senator William Sharon, of the State of Nevada, to be my lawful and wedded husband, and do here acknowledge and declare myself to be the wife of Senator William Sharon of the State of Nevada.


Trina Chapman

The rush over, the news relayed, decisions pending, I peered over at the sack hanging on the side of the bed that held the blood leaking from my son’s kidney and felt helpless. I looked down at his body on the hospital bed, the size of a man now. As a teenager, he hadn’t really wanted me near him for a couple of years, but there lay his hand, so small to me now, though an adult size.

Sparks of Hope

Michael McQuillan

Mind discerns God’s glory in sublime dawn’s slanting sun. Stiff legs spring toward fleeting sight. Arrival evokes awe, till tears at fading light. Glass pane frames what I perceive, renews what I believe, what Hebrew Prophets fervently conceived, as Christ’s Sermon on the Mount decreed: God’s work on Earth is ours.

The Irishman

Anna West

I never knew your name. I don’t need to know it to remember, your wild heart branded my soul. The first time I saw you, my family and nine other souls working on the construction of a large water catchment project in Kenya were riding in an old armored van given to us by the British Army. We were crossing the Rift Valley on our way back from Nairobi, travelling toward the Aberdare Ranges where we lived.

All Roads Lead To Istanbul

John RC Potter

In the early 1990s on a frosty winter’s weekend, I attended an international school job fair at Queen’s University. I had only been teaching in Canada for a few years, but there had been a freeze on salary for teachers in the Province of Ontario.