All posts by Susan Shafarzek

My Most Memorable Patient by Roselyn Elliott

Photo of red Accident and Emergency sign
 

Ten years after graduation, at seven a.m., Sunday morning, I round the corner to my office and nearly stumble into a distraught family in prayer. Six adults, seated with their heads bowed, listen as a Catholic priest, and a Baptist minister, beseech God to help them. A teenage boy leans against the doorjamb, listening, but obviously uncomfortable. In a second, I decide the clergymen have the situation under control and proceed directly to the ICU to learn what has happened. As I guessed from the looks of the people in my office, the news is … Continue reading My Most Memorable Patient by Roselyn Elliott

My Air Force Shrine by Miles Fowler

Photo of gun and pictures on wall
 

My study may be a mess, but, on one wall, I have meticulously created a shrine of sorts. My “Air Force Wall” is—like my connections to its theme—a mixture of the authentic and inauthentic. The shrine came together mostly by accident. As I chose things to put up on the wall, it was only when I saw the pattern that was emerging that I made the air force theme deliberate. Two of my half-siblings, sister Terri and late brother Michael, as well as my late brother-in-law Brian (Teri’s husband), were in the United States Air … Continue reading My Air Force Shrine by Miles Fowler

Snow Day by Ari McGuirk

Photo of drug paraphernalia
 

Marinara stains blotted my white hoodie’s waist hem like blood droplets. Posters of fighter jets lined the grey walls of the recruiter’s office. A Dodgers baseball cap squeezed straight brown hair over my ears and scraggly peach fuzz climbed my jawline. A tuft of jet-black hair topped the recruiter’s head, sides shaved to the scalp. Fluorescent light reflected off his desk’s glass surface. Next to his U.S. Air Force insignia, a name tape read “Daigle.” I’d been studying rank insignias, and four chevrons on his uniform’s sleeves meant Staff Sergeant. Families bundled in winter coats … Continue reading Snow Day by Ari McGuirk

The Wounded Warrior of East Boston Terrace by Cyndy Muscatel

Photo of woman with bandaid on hand
 

I have a scar under my chin, right at the end where it meets the jaw. You can’t see it unless I’m hanging upside down, which is a rare occurrence these days. I’d forgotten about it—hadn’t seen or touched its roughness for years. But then my granddaughter cracked her chin open jumping backward into a swimming pool. All the blood reminded me of when I was five and jumped off a wall. Like Humpty Dumpty, when I landed I cracked open—but just my chin. It didn’t hurt. It was only when the TWO GIRLS started screaming. … Continue reading The Wounded Warrior of East Boston Terrace by Cyndy Muscatel

A Room Called Remember by Mary McCue

Photo of stars in sky
 

The sound of rustling leaves, like old fashioned petticoats, soothed the cold lodged like a stone above my brow. Compliant for once to the vagaries of my body, I stretched out on the floor letting my mind wander toward the Blue Ridge sprawled across the horizon in a color I love because of its smoky calm. How relieved my father would be to see where I live. In a rare heart-to heart conversation two years before his death in 1992, I told him how unhappy I was in my marriage of thirty years “We’ve come … Continue reading A Room Called Remember by Mary McCue

The Trees Are a Better Mother by Genevra Levinson

Black and white photo of bare tree
 

Genevra Levinson is an Honorable Mention in Streetlight‘s 2020 Essay/Memoir Contest It is autumn. I think of Mary Oliver’s river of loss as I watch the trees burn fragrantly and allow themselves to be naked in their distance from the sun. I wonder about this kind of graceful dying, and how we humans grapple with death and the strangeness of our own faces during the fall season—the dying season. The ghoul-masks, monsters, blood, and skeletons no longer thrill me darkly as they did when I was a child, nor fill me with dread as they … Continue reading The Trees Are a Better Mother by Genevra Levinson

Stripping by Vicky Oliver

Photo of outside of goodwill store
 

Vicky Oliver is an Honorable Mention in Streetlight’s 2020 Essay/Memoir Contest It was an orgy of silk and satin and velvet. Twenty cocktail dresses sprawled on my floor, all temptresses still in their peak, wanting to be touched, craving admiration. They each had their stories and I thumbed through them the way most people listen to golden oldies, remembering with a mixture of awe, sadness, and a lurch of nostalgia that tugs somewhere between the heart and the gut. This was me, I thought. They all were, and not so very long ago. The sleeveless, … Continue reading Stripping by Vicky Oliver

Finding Barbie’s Shoes by J Brooke

Photo of Barbie
 

J Brooke is an Honorable Mention in Streetlight’s 2020 Essay/Memoir Contest There were many reasons I didn’t play with Barbie dolls. Besides being gender-nonconforming before the term existed, besides not liking girls in my class who did play with Barbie dolls, and besides knowing that for every Barbie I was given for a birthday or holiday, there was some present I would have actually enjoyed that I would now never receive, there was the utter anatomical stupidity of that useless toy. Forget Barbie’s disproportionately tiny waist and large breasts that became famed objects of scrutiny … Continue reading Finding Barbie’s Shoes by J Brooke

Turner and Bobby by Debra King

Photo of child's hands drawing
 

When I was a toddler, I named my hands “Turner” and “Bobby.” Turner was my dominant right hand, the one used to access closed doors and cupboards. My parents say I blamed “Turner” when I spilled a glass of milk. “Bobby” was the diminutive for Robert, my father’s name. He would take my left hand when we walked or crossed the street. It is debatable whether this phase of early childhood can be remembered by a child of two, or if it is imprinted because I have heard more than once the story as told … Continue reading Turner and Bobby by Debra King

A Sign by Carol Jeffers

Photo of blue butterfly
 

Carol Jeffers is an Honorable Mention in Streetlight’s 2020 Essay/Memoir Contest “Stephanie wanted you to have her eyes,” her sister Susie said. “Please say you’ll take them.” That was in 2018, the second time she died. *** Seven years earlier, the blips on the monitor flat-lined, the alarm went off. The ICU team flew into action. Gloved hands thumped her chest, injected epinephrine, jolted her silent heart. Seconds ticked by. Minutes. Stephanie’s soul was suspended, a chrysalis dormant among the milkweeds. She languished between the light and the dark. That was the first time my … Continue reading A Sign by Carol Jeffers