Category Archives: Essay/Memoir

For Ali by Elizabeth Bird

Photo of bouquets of funeral flowers
 

My flight is booked. I’ll be with you at the hospital, and I’ll stay for your recovery when your kids go back to work. It’s been just a few days—plenty of time for the doctors to figure things out. We’ve been talking on screens for too long; I can’t wait to hug you! And then our brother is on the phone, a strange urgency in his voice. “She wants to see you; she needs to see you.” “You told her I’m coming? I’ll be there in forty-eight hours. I’m on my way!” “She wants to … Continue reading For Ali by Elizabeth Bird

Missing by Richard Key

Photo of gardening gloves on tops of tools
 

These searched for their family records, but could not find them and so were excluded from the priesthood as unclean. Ezra 2:62 I can’t tell you exactly what percent of my waking hours is spent looking for things. It could be as little as twelve percent. Probably closer to thirty. It’s worse at certain times of the year. Tax season seems to be a period when I drive myself mad searching for one thing or another: proof of a charitable contribution, a 1099 form, a statement from my Swiss bank saying everything’s cool. In my … Continue reading Missing by Richard Key

The Letter by Cheryl Somers Aubin

Photo of blue mailbox
 

To the new family I sent a letter about the house and our memories of living there for forty-five years. I did tell them lots of information about the house that they needed to know. I gave advice about things to do. I was helpful. I did not tell them how heartbreaking it was for us to move our mother to a memory care facility —her new forever home. I did tell them we’d been happy. I did tell them about the bleeding hearts that grew by the side of the house and seeing a … Continue reading The Letter by Cheryl Somers Aubin

Tsunami Stones by Karen Mittelman

Photo looking through redrocks
 

All along the coastline of Japan, hundreds of tall stone tablets stand as warnings about the possibility of natural disasters. Many date back to the 1880s, when two deadly tsunamis battered the coast and killed more than twenty thousand people. Carved with care, the ancient tablets convey messages from one generation to the next, advising those who read them to seek high ground after an earthquake, and to avoid low-lying areas in case of floods. One of the most well-known is called the Aneyoshi tablet, a four-foot slab of stone placed high up on the … Continue reading Tsunami Stones by Karen Mittelman

The Notebook by Susan Valas

Photo of pen on open notebook
 

Susan Valas is the 3rd place winner of Streetlight’s 2022 Essay/Memoir Contest It’s a drizzly-gray day in the spring of 1966. I stroll out the back door and climb into my dad’s Thunderbird with minutes to spare as I wait for my family. Like any eleven-year-old, I rummage through my father’s console hoping to find Clorets gum, or maybe some pipe cleaners. But lurking in a bunker inside of me is a tangle of hope and dread that I will also find a clue. And I do. Below the passenger seat—a throne upon which a … Continue reading The Notebook by Susan Valas

Pandemic Casserole by Catherine Pritchard Childress

Photo of casserole in white dish
 

Catherine Pritchard Childress is the 2nd place winner of Streetlight’s 2022 Essay/Memoir Contest Offering food as a form of comfort for those in mourning is as much a part of my Appalachian upbringing as Vacation Bible School and dinner on the grounds. Where there is death there will be cream soup casseroles and fried chicken, jugs of sweet tea and deli trays. Condolences unaccompanied by a Pyrex dish (name written on masking tape and secured to the bottom) or a lidded Rubbermaid container  (“Honey, I don’t need it back”) are lacking—or so we’ve been raised … Continue reading Pandemic Casserole by Catherine Pritchard Childress

What Killed the Video Star by Betty Wilkins

Photo of Blockbuster store
 

Betty Wilkins is the 1st place winner of Streetlight’s 2022 Essay/Memoir Contest Rewind. By September 2002, I had been out of college for nine months and the student loan officers were calling to collect my debt. I was only working thirty hours a week as a technical writer and editor of university computing documentation, which sounds more glamorous than it was and came with zero benefits. Calvin and I had moved out of a bad living situation with another roommate, so with only the two of us to share the rent and utilities money was … Continue reading What Killed the Video Star by Betty Wilkins

Whiskey Island Mango Salad by Janine De Baise

Photo of salad with fruit
 

Whenever I say that my extended family camps together in the summer—living in tents, cooking over the fire, and bathing in the river—someone will ask, “And you all get along? For a whole week?” Sure, I say. Of course, I’m lying. My family includes my seventy-something father who loses his temper if he doesn’t get an afternoon nap, my sister Carroll who just stops talking at the first sign of trouble, my sister Laurie who has been known to threaten family members with a sharp knife while making fruit salad, my brother Kevin who refused … Continue reading Whiskey Island Mango Salad by Janine De Baise

Then We had Ice Cream by Isabel Wolf Frischman

Photo of black man on bench that says "Whites Only"
 

In the summer of 1967, the year of my high school graduation, the Newark, N.J.-adjacent town of Plainfield, where I grew up, exploded with race riots. I was in Washington, D.C. when it happened, working as a G-2 clerk-typist for the U.S. Post Office. I didn’t witness the events in my hometown, where an incident in a diner escalated into full-blown violence in reaction to police brutality against people of color. Fifty-one years later, as an officer handcuffed me for attempting to drape the crown of Queen Isabella of Spain with a foot-square piece of … Continue reading Then We had Ice Cream by Isabel Wolf Frischman

The Camel’s Hump by Albert McFarland

Photo of people riding camels in desert
 

The Moroccan village was the same color as the surrounding hills and empty desert. The landscape had three primary colors: sandy tan, sky blue, and, occasionally, palm tree green. The young couple, tourists traveling into the hinterlands, found menu choices equally limited where options, like all resources, were scarce. The couple carried their argument from the restaurant into the night. The man, angry, pulled the woman close, roughly gripping her sweater. “Take care what you say.” From the shadows down the dusty narrow side street emerged a small group of young men, boys really. The … Continue reading The Camel’s Hump by Albert McFarland