All posts by Susan Shafarzek

Puzzle Envy by Vicky Oliver

Photo of hand holding pen filling in crossword
 

Each week, my husband completes the New York Times Sunday Magazine crossword puzzle in about thirty minutes, leaving no square unfilled. He writes in pen and never crosses anything out. Starting at 1 Across, and moving across the puzzle like a ravenous lawnmower razing grass, he completes all the Across sections to approximately 120 Across, only deigning to glance at the Down clues if he reaches a difficult patch. If I were an insecure person, I’d feel pretty dumb by comparison. The only clues he ever asks my help with are the names of makeup … Continue reading Puzzle Envy by Vicky Oliver

Bring Out the Champagne! by Susan Shafarzek

Photo of wine glass on colorful tablecloth
 

Yes, champagne, please. It’s a red letter day here at the essay/memoir neighborhood of Streetlight: time to announce (appropriate fanfare) the outcome of our sixth essay/memoir contest. It’s a time of hopefulness, vaccinations and all, even if we are—for the second year in a row—announcing the winners of our contest in the midst of an ongoing pandemic. I feel grateful for all the help I’ve had, especially to Paula Boyland who co-judged and to Emily Littlewood, who kept us ‘blind’ in our reading by keeping track of the entries for us. But, most of all, … Continue reading Bring Out the Champagne! by Susan Shafarzek

Abraham’s Mustard by Philip Newman Lawton

Photo of people walking down sidewalk
 

There was small marble sculpture of an aged figure on an unpretentious pedestal near the eastern end of St. Donatus Park, a leafy space in the old city of Louvain, Belgium. The figure was that of a seated elder with eyes wide open and a biblical beard; were there not an owl on his lap, were his hands not serenely folded, he might have been a prophet. The pedestal bore a placard, in Flemish, that read, “Wise is he who wants to know where Abraham gets the mustard.” The park had a wide dirt pathway, … Continue reading Abraham’s Mustard by Philip Newman Lawton

An Audiobook Review: Landslide by Susan Conley, Narrated by Rebecca Lowman by J Brooke

Photo of Landslide book cover
 

There are audiobooks enhanced by the author’s voice reading their own words (Becoming by Michele Obama), and those where an otherwise terrific book in print is hindered by the author’s out-loud read (Kamala Harris’s The Truths We Hold). And then there is the third category, a wonderful book in print made into a terrific listen by a professional actor relating to and embodying the characters (what Jim Dale did for the Harry Potter series). Landslide, Susan Conley’s newest novel, about a contemporary family living (and seemingly sliding) in rural Maine, is the third category of … Continue reading An Audiobook Review: Landslide by Susan Conley, Narrated by Rebecca Lowman by J Brooke

Falling Down by Celia Meade

Photo of baby
 

On a windy day in December, just after the sun had set, I stepped out to go to the grocery store for milk. The wind whipped my hair across my glasses, and I didn’t see the uneven sidewalk by the Greek restaurant. It wasn’t icy but I fell anyway. The sidewalk smacked my chin hard, and I bled all over my delicate silk scarf. A gold crown rolled out onto the sidewalk. Someone was making moaning, animal sounds and that someone was me. My spectacles dug into my cheek, the concrete pushing them past their … Continue reading Falling Down by Celia Meade

Eighteen Years and Seven Months by E. H. Jacobs

Photo of hands using cell phone
 

Rebecca leaned into the driver’s-side window while I let the engine idle. Her brown hair had lengthened over the summer, and some strands fluttered into the car. The constellations in the ink-black sky and two lampposts illuminated the gravel parking lot. Hugging me, she said in a voice raspy with fatigue, “Thanks for coming with me, Dad.” I waited while she crossed the lot—the pebbles crunching underfoot interrupting the rhythm of the frogs and insects on this rural New Hampshire night. As she approached the road to return to the summer camp where she worked, … Continue reading Eighteen Years and Seven Months by E. H. Jacobs

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