Pushcart Prize Nomination: Anthrocon, 2017 and The Flour Baby
The Wolf is still wrapped in its delivery box when I lose my shit. It’s two hours before the start of the event and I can’t believe this is happening. I’m upstairs in my room with my blinds closed and my lamp on. My bed’s made, table cleared, and makeup brushes put away. It’s my Urban Decay eyeshadow palette that triggers the panic and also maybe the white of my bed columns. Don’t ask me why.
Nominated for Pushcart Prize
Diesel and I met last September at a small liberal arts college in Ohio on move-in day. I was riding up the elevator of my freshman dorm, Barns, with my cart full of stuff, when this girl slammed her hand against the door and said, “Wait. I’ll squeeze in.” Hindsight 20/20, I should have intuited right then and there that a girl like her might be the one to spark my downward spiral, but I was too busy freaking out so I didn’t register the possibility until much later.
When Isabelle lifted the Baby from the ivory box, breast milk leaked into her nursing bra. The Baby’s hands were hidden by plastic, and Isabelle carefully untwisted the pale pink ribbons from around her wrists, belly, and tiny feet. She was heavy, six pounds maybe, dressed in a baptismal outfit. All lace and satin. Inside the box, Isabelle noticed the directions manual but she did not pick up the booklet immediately. Instead, she pressed the Baby to her bosom, feeling her steady heartbeat, the way her skin was not skin but something so eerily similar that soon Isabelle couldn’t tell the difference.
The Art of Jealousy
Lillie was always the understudy. So when Maud grabbed her one afternoon after advanced class and whispered, “We have twenty minutes.” Lillie followed. In the empty dressing room, where dance bags and street clothes hung onto hooks, Maud dug through her backpack and brandished a pair of kitchen scissors.
When I was seventeen and dreamed big ballerina dreams, I also revered Aerosmith. I sat on the window ledge of Pacific Northwest Ballet memorizing Steven Tyler’s lyrics with my friend Jenna Butala. Crystals dangled from our necks. Names of boys like Santo vibrated against our lips, as we threw our buns back. Joe Perry jammed inside our Walkmans. We had no body fat, and we could do splits against the walls and turn thirty two times on the tips of our toes whenever the urge compelled us. Frat boys begged to take us to concerts at the Space Needle, while random men on roller skates at Lake Washington flew down onto their knees asking us to marry them.
The Diving Board
His name was Heath. For the candy bar, his mother once said. He was fourteen that summer and way too lanky for his age. The hair on his head and under his armpits grew thick and dark—manly. Shaggy bangs fell down his face, always covering his eyes and leaving bare his most noticeable feature: super sensual lips that loved to rhyme and push out freestyle rap. Around his neck, he wore a lucky shark’s tooth.
The Flour Baby
Sally yanked open the kitchen cabinet, grabbed a brand new sack of unbleached flour, then plopped it on the countertop, a cloud of puff startling her. “Stupid baby lesson,” she mumbled. But Sally kept on doing what her health teacher had required because she was on the verge of flunking eighth-grade and, no matter what, the devil wouldn’t catch her inside Clover Middle next year. Sally had big plans: she was getting the hell out CT and going to LA.
Nominated for Pushcart Prize
The Interior Designer
This was Phase One: The Lure. I’d researched his whereabouts and decided on meeting him at the diabetic fundraiser, such an innocuous place. My plan: to swirl around a glass of wine, then to take a deliberate step and bump into his shoulder, almost spilling the entire contents of my Pinot noir on his sleeve. The scheme worked. “Oh, no. You okay?” he said, grabbing my elbow.
So few stories make me laugh from the outset, but “The Interior Designer” made me laugh many times, the way a good Lorrie Moore short story does—not from wisecracking, but from painful and awkward observations from a narrator who is unaware of the dynamics at work in the world around her. The narrator of this short story navigates her world with a fresh sense of figurative language that makes you both unsettled and amused, until you realize where the character is headed and just how bad of a place it might end up being. I found myself pausing to admire the writer’s fresh use of imagery, but also to give the narrator time before she made the next bad decision in a series of inevitable but questionable choices. I was hooked; I had to know where this self-proclaimed “termite” in the foundation of good marriages would end up. I found out, and it was even more heartbreaking than I predicted."
- Sarah Creech author of Season of The Dragonflies