Photo of THE toast rack by author

It’s strange how a writing prompt can ring a bell. One word. Toast. And my mind spirals, as if inside of a whirlpool, until it finds the resting place that exists in memories of my mother and my grandmother.

My mother died in 2012 and it freed me. I don’t want to be too dramatic or overstate anything but my mother was viewed by the world as being a sweet and loving person but she hid a negative, critical streak. If a person didn’t keep themselves tightly wrapped like she did, she didn’t like it. …

Hazel preferred the fetal position while sleeping. The experience was better if she had her blue and yellow blanket tucked between her knees and if Mamie, her Mother, forgot to put Granny Auntie’s Bitter Apple spray on her thumb. The vile tasting spray was made to keep dogs from chewing at itchy spots but Mamie Darnell didn’t worry for a second that the label said:


Mamie would be damned if she was going to pay for braces for Hazel. …

photo collection of the author

Chuck Swanson always wears a tie.

He ain’t no ordinary guy!

He’d swing all day in place of work,

An unpaid, child-like sort of jerk.

You’d think he’s hiding something,

But his shades are just a fun thing.

They make a groovy fashion statement

When he hits the playground’s asphalt pavement.

The executives in charge of hiring

Exhibiting their faulty wiring,

They think this swinger holds a secret.

His secret? He’s a big dick.

While his family goes hungry

His work ethic stays funky.

No 9 to 5 for this guy!

Put behind a desk — he’d die.

“I don’t…

Photo by Birmingham Museums Trust on Unsplash

The monster sat, legs ready to spring to action if need be, hidden behind two moss covered rocks. Tall blackberry canes formed a natural fence of briars all around. The two rocks provided a framework for the view.

Stanton Hildebrand dipped his brush, loading the Sable hair with paint from a small tube of lamp black to make his signature.

S. HILDEBRAND, neat and legible. Stanton always wondered about painters who signed their work in an unreadable fashion. …

Photo by Brooke Lewis from Pexels

Nomi started getting the idea that living off the grid was really not, as her parents wanted her to believe, the best possible life for a child. There was so much she was curious about and often her Mother, Rifka and her Father, Peter, didn’t want to give her an answer. She could tell when they were tying to change the subject or give her some sort of a pat answer when she pressed for more information. Worse was when they told her that the world was evil.

She’d seen no evidence of it.

Still, all she had to refer…

A Shasta Daughtry Story

photo from the collection of the author

My grandmother, Shasta Daughtry, was born in 1909. She was last in the line of a long string of births and her mother was done with mothering about two babies before Shasta came along. One of her older sisters tried to do the job of raising her but she, like everyone else, quit the job when it seemed like Shasta was out of danger of toddling into something that would hurt her.

Shasta was pregnant by the time she was 13. Back then a girl having a baby at 14 wasn’t exactly usual but it also…

I had the romantic idea that living four floors above a restaurant on a busy street in a big city would bring people into my life. I thought it would mean I always had something to do and someone to talk to.

The people outside my window, the ones I knew only from the tops of their heads, somehow disappeared after 10 p.m. The city seemed to continue on, validated by the sounds of the cars on the streets but the people were sucked away. I didn’t know how or exactly when. …

photo by Author

I rifle through unsorted boxes of paperwork and souvenir silk handkerchiefs, trying to find my lost mother in the folds. I pry open an old Japan lacquer box and smell roses. Inside is a tiny envelope, made to hold the card given with a bouquet of flowers. Ancient rose petals inside are browned to powder but the fragrance speaks of a newly opened bud — the phase when roses are most insistent.


The heading on a brittle piece of stationary, found under everything else, written with a shaky hand. …

Photo by Alcy Filho on Unsplash

Sadye Lee was a small, trim woman, a woman with what everyone assumed was a large capacity for patience, the mother of six stairstep kids, two years apart each, three boys and three girls. She was known for her control over her rowdy children, her beautifully tended home and for never failing to get her brood to services every Sunday and Holy Day of Obligation.

There was a list of each special date the Catholic Church celebrated with a mandatory mass taped to one of the walls in her laundry room. She updated it every January when the new list…

Judy McLain

Shit Creek survivor. Storyteller. Feminist liberal. Southern without the accent. Chihuahuaist.

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