All posts by Erika Raskin

Beholder by Erika Raskin

Photo of shards of broken blue dish
 

I went on a museum field trip not too long ago and had a revelation. I’m sure I’m not the first person to have pondered the following—but isn’t it wild to think that all sorts of currently priceless artifacts may well have started off as gee gaws shoved in the junk drawers of days of yore? I mean the pottery fragment on display could have come from a set of unregistered-for-salad plates some caveman’s new bride couldn’t put in the give-away bag fast enough. Or you know, accidentally dropped. In other words, it’s entirely possible … Continue reading Beholder by Erika Raskin

Serenity by the Sea by Virginia Watts

Photo of orange suitcase on beach
 

  Today is Nora Richard’s seventy-fifth birthday. She sighs, blows her nose, rests her head back against the scratchy, cheap couch that came with Apartment 205 inside Serenity by the Sea, an assisted living community she and her late husband moved into six years ago. Another long day stretches ahead of her like a superhighway to the moon. Mornings are the worst without Harvey brewing eight cups of Chock full o’nuts drip coffee instead of two cups because a full pot of brewed coffee really makes this place smell like home. Harvey’s baritone voice talking … Continue reading Serenity by the Sea by Virginia Watts

How To Survive The Buffet by Jessica Mendoza

Photo of party guest's hand holding food
 

  You’re twenty. Fresh-faced. Everyone else in this writing cohort is watching you, rubbernecking, wide-eyed, pale. They can smell the blood in the water. They know you are going to say something, you must say something. Silence is not an option. The woman who submitted the piece is proud of it. Proud. Admittedly, her prose is clean, precise, purposeful. She has her MFA. She’s earned it. She uses it to write about people whose suffering she could never begin to comprehend. Her little scrap of prose chronicles the murder of a fictional anonymous boy in … Continue reading How To Survive The Buffet by Jessica Mendoza

Betelguese by Stephanie Coyne DeGhett

Photo of twisted building in fog
 

  What the sky chart would indicate is that he and his dog, Bella, are looking at is the constellation Orion. But what he sees is the Frozen Butterfly, one of the constellations his sister taught him. Jack had contemplated bringing his daughter out to stargaze with him, maybe do a little storytelling to his grown and unsettled girl. But she was reluctant in the cold, so it’s just him and Bella—named for Bellatrix, the constellation’s third brightest star. He’s looking at it now, picking it out in the Butterfly’s wing. The first time he … Continue reading Betelguese by Stephanie Coyne DeGhett

The Eyes of an Editor by Erika Raskin

Photo of parking garage sign
 

I recently accepted a beautiful piece of writing by an author who wrote back to thank me — and to graciously say he’s open to feedback—which was a lovely, appreciated response. Writers have been known to bristle at suggestions. I can’t remember the exact details but there’s a literary legend about an editor getting punched in the nose at a cocktail party over the unauthorized insertion of an Oxford comma. I, on the other hand, am a firm believer in the benefits of a second pair of eyes. On pretty much everything. Bathing suit selection, … Continue reading The Eyes of an Editor by Erika Raskin

Cats by Christine Tucker

Black and white photo of baby hands holding adult hand
 

  Hey, son. It’s your Mama. Hope y’all are doing good up there. I’m callin’ cause I’ve got a little problem here. So, did you hear about that storm we had a couple days ago, that derecho? Well, none of us had ever heard of one before, either. It was a perfectly nice day and then the wind starts a blowin’ and sounding like a big ‘ole freight train. The trees in the front yard were all bent over double. I’m telling you, it was like the end of days—I never heard such a noise … Continue reading Cats by Christine Tucker

Stupid Old Oak Tree by Kathleen McKitty Harris

Close up photo of tree bark
 

  It’s just a stupid old oak tree, I keep telling myself, while I sit at the kitchen table and watch the white winter sunlight bathing its branches. It’s dying, I say, as I wipe away tears and busy myself with numbing, necessary tasks. Its branches are dropping and it’s trying to tell us and it’s going to kill someone in the process, I think, on frigid, windy nights when its massive canopy creaks and arches over yards humming earlier in the day with shrieking children and yapping dogs. It’s necessary, I explain to a … Continue reading Stupid Old Oak Tree by Kathleen McKitty Harris

Speechless by Peggy Schimmelman

Photo of open-beaked bird
 

In the small Appalachian town where I was born lived a squat, bowlegged, hairless doctor. Some called him a quack and a dope fiend, but in 1954 he delivered me on his dining room table, spanked me ‘til I cried, and thirteen years later laid his cigar in an ashtray as his flabby fingers probed my pubescent neck while he peered through Coke Bottle lenses down my throat, past my recalcitrant tongue, exploring the mystery of vocal cords that refused to function. I cringed at his questions, so on point that I wept, as one … Continue reading Speechless by Peggy Schimmelman

Bonfire of the Vanities: Coming to a School Board Near You by Deborah M. Prum

Photo of cover of Rats, Bulls, and Flying Machines
 

Twenty years ago, a reporter called me with bizarre news, so bizarre that I instantly wrote him off as a prank caller. He claimed he was from a town out West, maybe in Colorado? I am fuzzy on the details. I didn’t write down a word he said because I didn’t believe he could be serious. He asked if I was the author of Rats, Bulls and Flying Machines: A History of the Renaissance and Reformation. I replied in the affirmative, wishing he’d get to the point. At the time, I worked from home, a home … Continue reading Bonfire of the Vanities: Coming to a School Board Near You by Deborah M. Prum

Time Suck by Erika Raskin

Photo of old vaccuum
 

  Here are things that I have done to avoid writing: chase my recalcitrant dog around the house for an entire afternoon trying to clip his nails, read all the comments on an article I wasn’t even that interested in, and although the effect would be transient at best, close my laptop to reorganize the kitchen cabinets. Last week, as I was struggling with the same sentence for more time than is either normal or healthy, the doorbell rang. An enthusiastic man introduced himself and his assistant. ‘I promise we’re not here to change your … Continue reading Time Suck by Erika Raskin