Oct/Nov 2021

e c l e c t i c a
n o n f i c t i o n


(These are excerpts—click on the title to view the whole piece!)

The Periodic Heart
(Spotlight Runner-Up!)

I studied the chart above Mr. Vaughan, wondering if my egg-bald teacher shined his head. In my mind, I pictured my mother not as the volatile woman I lived with, but as an element. I sketched out an atom and labeled its parts. Protons and neutrons clustered at the center; electrons orbited around both. My pencil traced out a name: rosinium. I would call the atom after my mother's Italian name, Rosina. Unsure where to put her on the periodic table, I flipped through my textbook to the section on isotopes and decided the half-life of my imagined element was at the lower end of the spectrum Mr. Vaughan had described. A little more than the five years of cobalt-60 and a little less than the twelve years of hydrogen-3.

M. M. Adjarian

This Essay is About Everything

As the light poured in I took photos of the children—my daughter, a peaceful silhouette, lifting spoon towards lips. In the background, a tree's dark limbs like elongated fingers and the sun—a spectrum of light—riding in waves behind her. She is never still in life: jumping from couch to couch, performing a play, arguing, putting her little brother in a leg lock. She's as stubborn as stone and willful as a colt. Our days turn into battles of wills reminiscent of Moby Dick and Captain Ahab. I spend swaths of time taking away privileges to maintain a semblance of order, before she rams herself into the raft of our day, smashing it to bits. Her will is so much stronger than mine. Perhaps she is the captain and the whale. Perhaps I am only the boat.

Andrew Bertaina


We went as a family to the funeral home (my brother wasn't in town yet, but he wasn't particularly close to my father), and we had to make decisions about issues we didn't care about. My mother had to decide what to do about clothes and knick-knacks my father had left behind. She even had to deal with furniture and parts of a house designed for someone almost a foot and a half taller than she was. It's taken her six years to get to the point where she remodeled the bathroom he always used, changing the shower to one better suited to her. There's no way not to think about my father when using that bathroom. One care comes after another; one woe succeeds another. People don't die just once. They die again and again, at least for the living, especially those who have to live with the absence every day for the rest of their lives.

Kevin Brown

State Your Name

Detective. Ken. Goode. This is the first moment he has been shown to us. He is introduced formally, with his full name. Good to meet you, Detective Goode. No, not good—thrilling. The camera has panned, has swept across the sweltering landscape (albeit rapidly), and here he is, one presumes wiping sweat from his eyes. Exhilaration. My heart is beating faster right now, as I write this. Although I have to admit I abandoned the novel a few sentences later when the point of view failed to deliver the full Goode I was hoping to occupy, nor the worldly omniscience I would have accepted in Goode's stead. Ah, but the confident careening into that full name—such a sense of adventure!

Robert Fromberg