All posts by Susan Shafarzek

Three East Third by John Gredler

Pigeon
 

***John Gredler is an Honorable Mention for Streetlight’s 2018 Essay/Memoir Contest***   I now had the second floor at 3 East Third to myself, a mattress on the floor, my radio cassette player and piles of books on either side. Not much else, not even a chair. Two tall windows faced the brick wall of the neighboring building with the faded letters spelling Provenzano Lanza Funeral Home painted on it. A small garden below allowed morning light to come in and the sounds of traffic to echo constantly day and night. The floor, old wide … Continue reading Three East Third by John Gredler

Indelible Tracks Essay by Erin Levens

Train Tracks
 

***Erin Levens is an Honorable Mention of Streetlight’s 2018 Essay/Memoir Contest***   I know I’m falling asleep when I slip under the cowcatcher onto a bed of hay. Strands of hay poke through the bars of iron used to clear the track of obstacles impeding the train’s journey. I curl up and feel protected and safe behind these bars. I trust that the train will guard me with its power. My holy place is a train station. I remember standing on the platform careful to stay behind the white line. Four, five years old. If … Continue reading Indelible Tracks Essay by Erin Levens

Shadows in the Afternoon by Miles Fowler

Light through small, barred window
 

The day before Halloween 1967, I came home from school, turned on the television, and discovered the supernatural soap opera Dark Shadows. All I saw was the episode’s final minute: A beautiful blonde descends a staircase and stops in front of a portrait. She loosens her scarf to reveal two puncture wounds on the side of her neck. It seems that the glowering man in the picture is probably the vampire that bit her. Cut to commercials, followed by the closing credits, which are accompanied by the haunting theme, composed by Robert Cobert and performed … Continue reading Shadows in the Afternoon by Miles Fowler

A Road Trip Through Texas After We Stopped Loving Each Other by Ashley Stimpson

Car parked by curb
 

***Ashley Stimpson is the 3rd place winner of Streetlight’s 2018 Essay/Memoir Contest***   You insist it’s okay to smoke in the rental car, that you’ve done it so many times and never had to pay a cleaning fee. Gently as houseflies, my four left fingers land on the window buttons each time you reveal the Camel Lights from your shirt pocket. Every few hours, I have one too, so you won’t ask if I’m upset. A hot wind shotguns the breath from my lips before I feel even a pang of satisfaction. The highway south … Continue reading A Road Trip Through Texas After We Stopped Loving Each Other by Ashley Stimpson

Hot Toddies by Anne Carson

Person drinking from mug
 

***Anne Carson is the 2nd place winner of Streetlight’s 2018 Essay/Memoir Contest*** Before my older sister outgrew me, outgrew our entire family’s chaos, we shared a bedroom. For a few years there, we were good company for each other. We would stay up after bedtime and role-play storybook fantasies about our futures that seemed more like memories of a former life together centuries ago—as shopkeepers in some village. She on the twin bed beside the windows on the front of the house, me on the bed closer to the hallway. We sold fine goods, maybe … Continue reading Hot Toddies by Anne Carson

24 Hours by Heather Bartlett

View through back of ambulance
 

***Heather Bartlett is the 1st place winner of Streetlight’s 2018 Essay/Memoir Contest***   “Working for 24 hours straight is all about your perspective,” he says. “Your body can handle it. Human beings adapt. Think about it. How many times have you stayed up all night studying? Or partying?” “Sure,” I say, “but this is different.” It’s so hard. Physically. Without sleep I have to interact with so many people, make decisions and make sense. Both a patient and my partner are depending on me when I’m definitely not my best. I’m only partially sure it … Continue reading 24 Hours by Heather Bartlett

We Have Winners

Balloons and Confetti
 

Congratulations to the winners of Streetlight’s 2018 Essay/Memoir contest! But first, a little whining. Judging a contest is a lot of hard work (whine, whine). I hasten to say I don’t mean the reading of the entries. That’s really fun. It’s the making of decisions. I had good help, but we had some very tough contenders. Everyone (perhaps with not quite as much whining as myself) agreed it was hard to make these decisions. We saw excellent writing, acute observation, heartfelt disclosure. Only three winners could prevail. I’m hoping that those who didn’t win will … Continue reading We Have Winners

Death in Vienna by Brett Busang

Painting of bulidings in Vienna
 

Michaelerkirche goes back to the 1200’s and looks it. Being from a country whose ancient history—as far as English-speaking people go—stretches back to Plymouth Rock, I have no local frame of reference. What is the 13th century supposed to look like? Ancient and forbidding, I would think. Dark most certainly—though accommodations have been made for 21st century prejudices, which include a yearning for visibility. Yet I gave the 13th century my due attention and was duly rewarded. I seemed to understand its unpainted stonework, its dankly disarranged furniture, its pointy architecture. (Baroque people had re-shaped … Continue reading Death in Vienna by Brett Busang

Only Skin Deep by Linda Nemec Foster

broken pearl necklace
 

If I could erase anything from my distant past (not the recent one), it would be that first half of fifth grade from September to December of 1960. The country was on the edge of its Camelot years with JFK and Jackie, perfectly coiffed, on his arm. I was on the edge of my first meltdown: pre-adolescent, pre-pubescent, pre-everything. Stuck in fifth grade, I viewed the universe from a basement classroom in the bowels of St. Wenceslas Elementary School in a boring suburb of Cleveland. Most of the teachers were nuns, relegated to black and … Continue reading Only Skin Deep by Linda Nemec Foster

Maida’s Little Books by Susan Shafarzek

Drawing of a house made from neon wires
 

Maida Westabrook was a brave little girl who had a “floating mass of hair, pale gold and tendrilly” and also a serious chronic illness, which had at one time confined her to a wheelchair, but that was in the past. She could now walk, albeit with difficulty, and had many friends. She also had a devoted—and, happily, wealthy—father, a widower who cherished the life of this his only progeny and thus was devoted to making her life satisfying, stimulating, and worthwhile. To that end, as can happen only in fiction, he provided her (in a … Continue reading Maida’s Little Books by Susan Shafarzek