Photo Story: The Woman in Silhouette

Ah, we knew this photo would inspire many good stories. That odd suspension between light and dark conjured a range of interpretations. We couldn’t decide on just one.

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Photo Credit: Ginger Fierstein

The night scenes had been going on forever, it seemed like. Erik couldn’t get the headlight shot blocked correctly and Lorraine was getting pissed. She was tired of this role. Tired of cinematography. Tired of Erik’s hoarse voice barking at her to move this way, tilt your head that way; lean into the contrapposto, baby, come on, work with me. “Flaming arsehole,” she thought. She found her center of gravity and made her body symmetrical around its axis. Erik cursed. He called her unspeakable names. The sheepskin lining the pockets of her coat felt damp and matted in her fists.

—m a harrison


Marnie was never going to be a pretty girl; her grandmother had made that clear from the beginning. “You’ll have to find another way to make the nice boys like you, because that face is only going to attract the bad ones.” Marnie was six at the time, sitting at the kitchen table as Gram cooked dinner. She had a Bible Stories coloring book, and she was making all the planks in Noah’s ark a different color, like a rainbow. She kept pushing the crayons back and forth across the page while Gram was talking. But she heard every word.

—K.M. Kendrick


You tease me about my sleepwalking. Like the night I ate doggie biscuits, thinking they were cookies. You fed them to me laughing with grape jelly spooned on top.

Tonight I squat and piss on your leather recliner and wipe myself with pages from your daily planner. You don’t laugh. You guide me to the front door. You tell me the road is full of fireflies. See how many you can catch, you say. I haven’t chased fireflies since the third grade. I run silly after one with hands outstretched, but it escapes. I don’t remember them flying so fast.

—Jeff Switt


She distinctly recalls her grandmother making supper, the memory an ache. The crunch of fresh celery severed by a sharp blade. A warm puff from the oven, popped open to check tuna casserole. Grandma’s hands, smelling of aloe lotion, with their swollen knuckles and papery skin, ever busy, opening stubborn pickle jars, splashing ice cold milk into faded Flintstones jelly glasses.

But the woman with the strong, kind hands is now replaced by a wandering wraith. The girl hugs her sweater tighter, calling out into the dark, hoping to hear some response. Hoping to catch the faint scent of aloe.

—Emily Colby

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