Bread because my brother is always hungry, always demanding food and he’s figured out that I have been flipping over leftover heels of old bread for his sandwiches.
Mustard. Yellow is cheapest. Brown is my brother’s favorite but you didn’t send money this week so I can’t afford it. If we buy the big jar of mustard, it will cost more but last longer.
Ham. A slimy patina of grease has developed on the last of the lunch meat and I wipe it off with a paper towel before serving it to my brother, hoping we can last two more days until the church brings the monthly food box.
Coffee, for endlessly refilling mom’s cup as she sits at the table reading fan fiction, losing herself in a world where Spock and Kirk are lovers and the companions from Doctor Who have crossed over into Middle Earth and are falling in love while destroying the one ring. I refresh her coffee again and again, lingering to catch a glimpse of words over her shoulder, blinking away from the smoke spiraling up from the cigarette in the thick snot yellow and green ashtray my brother made in ceramics class.
Pasta because it fills my belly and even if we don’t have sauce, I can cover it with margarine and eat until my stomach paunches out and tell myself I just need to keep eating, keep filling the empty spaces until you finally come home.
I’ve been taking a lot of chances with my writing lately. Sending to places I wouldn’t normally send, trying experimental forms I haven’t tried before. I think all the writing I’ve been doing lately has helped me find my voice. And finding my voice has given me the freedom to subvert it. Like, what if I tried something new? What if it doesn’t work? What’s the most I can lose?
I’ve been working a lot at not self-rejecting–that is, not assuming I’m going to get a no so I don’t bother trying. Recently, I submitted a proposal for an academic book chapter. I almost didn’t submit. I wrote and rewrote my proposal and tried and discarded several approaches. I finally told my wife, what if it’s not accepted. And she said, “You’ll have exactly what you have right now, except you won’t have bothered to try.”
That’s a thing. Self-rejection is worse in some ways than actual rejection because at least when you submit and get rejected, you can commiserate with your writing friends who have all been rejected before.
Hello. I’m very much trying to win this short story contest with a whopping 500 grand prize.
You do have to register to vote and confirm your email – once you do that, when you click on my story, you’ll see a gray heart. If you click it and it turns red, you’ve voted. I would greatly appreciate if you would help me win this prize. Voting ends the 16th at 11:59 PM PST.
Please consider taking this five minutes to help me out!