Tag Archives: childhood

Haunted By Halloween by Priscilla Melchior

Close-up photo of group of orange mini-pumpkins
 

I despise Halloween. I don’t wish ill of others. I hand out candy. I praise fairies and princesses, soldiers and supermen. I even humor parents who dress infants as vegetables or baby birds—but all the while, I’m inwardly rolling my eyes, wishing the night to be done. I blame this on one childhood Halloween: the night that penicillin stood between me and perfection. This was during the late 1950s, before every drug and grocery store sold plastic masks and costumes. We dressed in whatever getups we could find, and I had waited a lifetime, I … Continue reading Haunted By Halloween by Priscilla Melchior

A Cottage by the Lake by Miles Fowler

Photo of a pond reflecting the sky
 

Most of the year while I was growing up, my family lived in a seven-room house in Worcester, Massachusetts. It had three bedrooms, one and a half bathrooms, and a two-car garage, although we didn’t have two cars yet. Every June, after school was out for the summer, we would pack the car and drive to our cottage by a lake in Rutland, Massachusetts, where we stayed until Labor Day. The drive seemed long when I was little, but it could not have been more than forty minutes. My father’s parents had given this cottage … Continue reading A Cottage by the Lake by Miles Fowler

Piano Lessons by Miles Fowler

Close up of Story and Clark piano
 

The Story & Clark piano with its warm, reddish brown finish looked nice in the living room and probably improved the appearance of our home. The problem was that none of us played the piano. So my parents decided that their middle child—me—should take lessons. My older brother already had plenty of activities. My younger sister was not considered. At nine, and without a lot of extracurricular activities, I was apparently the perfect candidate. Except that I had no interest in studying the piano, or any other instrument. My grandmother, a kind and generous person, … Continue reading Piano Lessons by Miles Fowler

A Visit With Santa by Priscilla Melchior

Santa waving in the falling snow
 

Clichés abound this time of year. It’s the one season in which it’s OK to speak of holiday magic or lapse into sappy memories like those that surfaced recently when I ran across a 1956 photo of 4-year-old me on the lap of Santa Claus. Understand, I’m talking about The Santa Claus—not some run-of-the-mill helper who brings up the rear in an annual Christmas parade. I mean he who sat upon the throne-like chair in Richmond’s Miller & Rhodes for the latter half of the 20th Century. Whole books have been written about his reign, … Continue reading A Visit With Santa by Priscilla Melchior

Why Do I Have Happy Memories

two puppies playing in grass
 

One summer evening, long after dusk, I was relaxing on a porch in a comfy chair next to a novelist I’d just met when she softly announced, “The stars in the sky look like an ocean. But I’m high, so maybe that’s just a stoner-thought.” I flicked my eyes up and verified that the cloudless, night sky did indeed resemble a boundless ocean, then I assured her, “No, no. It does look like an ocean.” I understood her concern because stoner-thoughts—while they may appear initially as profound, inspired ideas—often collapse under scrutiny. That said, I … Continue reading Why Do I Have Happy Memories

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

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

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

The Hit Lady by B.K. Marcus

2 birds sitting on a lamp post
 

She was four-foot-something, ancient, squat, and elegant. I assumed she was Russian, though I only ever heard her speak once. She was born before there was such a thing as the Warsaw Pact, before the Cold War, before the founding of the Bolsheviks. Even in her diamonds and furs, she did not seem out of place in our eleven-story, turn-of-the-century university building, nestled between Harlem and the Hudson, where the elbow-patched faculty of the 1970s lived alongside the Old World émigrés of earlier decades. I could already see over her hat by the time I … Continue reading The Hit Lady by B.K. Marcus

Pigeon Girl by Sara Alaica

Two birds in a tree
 

A white pigeon sat in the gutter, waiting. Her wings were folded up like sails of a ship at anchor, her head bobbing in a sea of cobblestones. Slobodanka stopped, crouched down and peered into the bird’s brown almost red eyes. They blinked at each other. She reached out her hand slowly towards the bird, expecting it to fly away, but it didn’t move. The pigeon was like silk, smooth and shiny, her body firm and substantial under the girl’s fingers, weighted with warmth. She set her books down, looked up and down the street, … Continue reading Pigeon Girl by Sara Alaica