ROOTLINES PUBLICATION ANNOUNCEMENT
In 2018, I published a poetry collection called the last four years.
That book is a time capsule of my high school experience – the raw, searing aches of growing up. It was in turns outrageously honest and elusive, dizzy and awkward and confessional. At the time that I published it, I was an anxious high school senior and I was still in the closet. I had just been accepted into a college in Boston and I was leaving my small mountain town in North Carolina to live in the city for the first time.
My creative writing teacher shared a quote from Rainer Maria Rilke that sums up how I’ve spent the last three years since then: “Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart…the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now.”
My time since publishing TLFY has been spent living through every question and grappling with every strange and frightening and hopeful answer. What I have come back to, again and again, is my connection to the earth. To the mountains I come from, that I keep returning to. The roots that give me the strength to grow branches.What does it mean to be a queer, neurodivergent woman living in the mountains of Appalachia? How is my home being affected by climate change and a carbon-based economy – and how can I stand in solidarity with indigenous groups that have long been fighting to prevent this destruction? What can I do to oppose the violence that is still being committed against the Appalachian mountains?
I don’t have any perfect answers. But I’ve been living through the questions. rootlines is the result.
I am so grateful and excited to announce that Wilde Press will be publishing my sophomore poetry collection.
The book is coming out on April 21st at 8:30 PM EST. I can’t freaking wait for you to see it. You can pre-order your copy here.
All pre-ordered copies will be distributed directly by me, not through Wilde Press, and all the profits will go directly to the Indigenous Environmental Network.
(Originally Published on the Zoon Garden Blog)
It’s 2:22 in the afternoon, on June 22nd, 2020 – and I am sitting by a river in the Appalachian mountains. These are the oldest mountains in North America. Warm, green, and unrolling across fourteen states, this land is home to countless creatures. Trees ripple in the summer heat. Jagged boulders stare over miles of blue. Owls screech overhead and frogs belt out songs for the summer solstice. And I sit by the river, toes sinking into the mud, watching.
Last week, on June 15th, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. This ruling overturned the Fourth Circuit Court’s decision which prevented the pipeline’s construction, and upheld “a permit granted by the U.S. Forest Service that the project’s developers could tunnel under a section of the iconic wilderness in Virginia" (Gilpin 2020). The Atlantic Coast Pipeline effort is led by Dominion Energy and Duke Energy. If it is allowed to be constructed, this 600-mile pipeline would thread through West Virginia, Virginia, and North Carolina, harvesting 1.5 billion cubic feet of natural gas every day. It would cross through the Appalachian trail a total of 34 times, causing irreparable damage while disproportionately affecting marginalized communities.
Dominion Energy and Duke Energy claim the pipeline is motivated by an increased demand for natural gas and a desire to provide economic opportunity for the people living in the affected areas. Yet the numbers don’t add up: according to the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis, there is no increase in regional consumption through 2033 in most scenarios. The U.S., however, is projected to become a global leader in natural gas exports in the next five years – meaning that it is likely that this harvested gas will be shipped overseas. Further, the economic opportunities presented by this project require specialized workers who will likely be hired from out of state, negating any promise of economic opportunity for the people who actually live in the affected areas.
The cost of the pipeline’s construction is estimated at about $8 billion and according to the co-director of the Environmental Law and Policy Clinic at Duke University, these funds will “take decades to recover.” This shows that even at a basic business level, the proposed pipeline simply doesn’t make sense – if the companies have their consumers at heart, then why not place the $8 billion investment into renewable energy which allows for long term solutions without crippling environmental and public health effects?
These environmental and health effects don’t affect consumers evenly, either. The more populated areas are protected by federal restrictions, so the pipeline is designed to run through poor rural areas in order to avoid these restrictions. The pipeline targets black communities in particular: it plans to place a compressor station in Union Hill, a town founded by freed slaves after the Civil War. This compressor would pose a danger to the health and safety of this community, and is a blatant act of environmental racism. According to a 2013 study by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, although 24.25% of all North Carolinians live within a mile of an EPA registered polluter, “41% of residents of Latino clusters and 44% of residents of African American clusters live within a mile of such pollution sources.” The pipeline will also deeply affect American Indian tribes whose land it crosses over: “American Indians comprise just over 1 percent of North Carolina residents, but they make up 13 percent of those living within a mile of the gas pipeline’s route” (Ouzts 2018).
As of today, the pipeline is 6% finished and held back by eight permits. The Supreme Court’s decision on June 15th represents one less barrier. Dominion Energy and Duke Energy plan to finish construction by 2022. We can’t let them. The Atlantic Coast Pipeline represents a threat to public safety, environmental ethics, and social justice. We have to show up for our mountains and for each other.
Zoon Garden has linked several petitions below that we ask you to sign today. We are also linking all the resources referenced in this article. Study up, speak out, and share this information. We need you.
[Originally published in the Black Swan Cultural Magazine]
Ten thousand feet in the air, I crumpled like a tin can. My knees hit the ground, my vision squeezed into white light, and I caught myself on my palms, heaving on the side of the mountain.
“It’s okay,” Vamsee said from behind me. “It’s okay, it’s natural, it’s okay.”
I met Vamsee yesterday afternoon. At the time, I’d been sipping crystal wine and dangling my legs over the porch. Now I was splayed at his feet and barfing.
He pulled my hood over my ears. It had fallen down when I pitched forward to puke.
“Your ears,” he said. “It’s cold – your ears. You are okay?”
Wave after wave of sick tore through me. He’d packed lunch for us – cheese sandwiches, bananas, nuts. When we’d reached the top, he handed me the food and asked me how I was feeling.
Dizzy. Cold. Exhausted. Wild and alive and extremely nauseous.
I had choked down the food and said I was fine.
Now his food made a roaring reappearance.
“I’m sorry,” I gasped, trying to blow the view. “God, I’m sorry, I’m sorry –”
“Why are you apologizing?”
“I’m sorry –”
Tears and snot and vomit. Not enough oxygen in the air. Shaking, all over.
“It’s elevation sickness,” said Vamsee. “It’s normal, it’s okay. You are okay?”
More vomit. White foaming gushes of it.
“Okay, that is quite a lot,” he said.
“I’m sorry. God, I’m sorry, this is so gross, I’m sorry–”
I’d never vomited in front of someone before. It was the ultimate vulnerability, the ugliest way someone else could see you.
“Don’t look,” I said.
“It’s okay,” he said, “it’s okay.”
He helped me to my feet when I was done, this man I barely knew, and he offered me his water.
“No,” I said, “no, no, I’m not putting my barfy mouth on –”
“It’s okay,” he said.
I shook my head and took out my own water bottle. Empty. I pretended to drink it anyway. Then I dug around in my bag for the Korean mint another hostel-mate had given me. It was a green sphere that tasted like charred apples.
“I’m fine,” I said. “It’s so much better now that it’s out.”
“Good,” said Vamsee. “That’s good. The elevation here, it is hard on the body.”
We still had a three-hour hike back down the mountain. My ears were ringing.
“I can keep going now,” I said.
“You are sure?”
“Yeah. I’m good now. I just needed to get it out.”
I tried to hang onto my body, to stay hitched in my skin and wrapped around my bones. We started walking again.
The Alps towered around us like jagged bones. Tangled weeds swayed by the path side. Vamsee paused every few minutes, turning around to ask if I needed to rest.
“I’m okay,” I said, again and again. “I’m good now.”
The world felt dreamy, sputtering, like my vision lagged a split second behind. I followed the wavering red backpack in front of me, casting aching eyes to the mountains. Thinking, the Alps were the child star of mountains. Young, ruthless, famed. These mountains didn’t care. They knew they were gorgeous, they knew you didn’t belong here, and they knew they didn’t owe you shit. That’s why I liked them. There was something enchanting about their grand indifference.
I stopped at odd intervals, staring into the frozen peaks, heart buckling in my chest. Thinking, this was the type of beauty that could destroy you. This was the type of beauty that should destroy you.
We walked. And walked. And walked.
Vamsee told me about India – the caste system, the science classes that were taught in English. We clambered over rocky hills and squelched through mud. We said bonjour to passing hikers. I told Vamsee about America – the sprawling south and angry news, the ancient tiny mountains that I came from.
Fog rolled through the valley. It left mist on our noses.
When we finally made it back, I was scraped to the bones. Eroded to my center. It felt like years of me had fallen off my skin.
We sat at the bus stop together. The sun was gentle, the air rich again. Engines coughed down the street.
“You are okay?” Vamsee said again.
I imagined myself as a cup, emptied out. Scrubbed clean, turned over. So much new space to fill.
“I actually really am,” I said.
A woman sat down between us. We grinned at each other over her head.
I was ravenous to rebegin.
yours in haste,
F. Paul Wilson, the author of six New York Times bestsellers, continues to attend writing conferences for one reason: the people.
“I have a lot of friends that I only see at these things,” he says. “After fifty years you get to know a lot of your fellow writers. A fair number of them don’t hang around…but there are a bunch of us who have been around forever.”
If you’re nervous about meeting other authors, you're not alone. But remember that people want to meet you. Everyone is looking for their community, and this is a prime place to find it. So let's talk about writing conferences -- and what to expect from your first one.
Rocky Colavito, an English professor and aspiring horror writer, has been to over 100 conferences. During his time at these events, he found the community very open. “People are easy to talk to,” he says. “I was sitting outside waiting for a panel and I heard this guy talking to another group. He casually mentioned a place I know in western New York, and I piped up something. Then he was like, ‘Where you from?’ and it turns out we’re practically neighbors. They’re very open and they’re very supportive. It’s not competitive.”
In other words, don’t be afraid to speak up! If you don’t reach out, you’re much more likely to spend the weekend alone. This comes into play even more in the evening.
The social element of conferences extends beyond business hours. According to F. Paul Wilson, the publishers throw parties in the evening – an excellent opportunity to connect with other writers.
“That’s where you meet, where you talk,” Wilson says. “Then you see each other in the early part of the day. You hang out after the panels. You just have to let it happen naturally. Just hang out and listen, or you could offer to buy someone a drink.”
Writing conferences tend to follow a standard structure, the differences relying on the size of the event. Larger conferences have multiple tracks, where writers choose between panels that are happening at the same time. Smaller conferences have one panel at a time.
Panels allow participants to hear from professionals in their field. These professionals often include agents, editors, and a keynote speaker – usually a successful author who lives in the area of the conference. They sit in a row before the audience and answer questions posed by a moderator. Each session lasts around one hour.
Ginjer Buchanan, a retired editor from Penguin Random House, served as a regular panelist for writing conferences across the nation. She worked for Penguin for 30 years and left as the Editor in Chief of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Imprint.
“I was going [to the conferences] as an editor,” she says. “The companies considered it part of your job. So if you’re invited to a conference, there’s no question of getting time off. And of course, the writer’s conference always pays to bring in authors and editors. I did the Pacific North West, the Southwest Writers Conference, several smaller ones in the Midwest, a couple in the South, a big convention in horror – I usually attend all the major ones.”
After the panels, writers are given the opportunity to connect directly with agents and editors in brief work sessions.
“You sit down with the potential authors, the fifteen minute thing,” says Buchanan. “It’s hard to get a real sense of a person in that, but that’s the way they’re structured.”
Then, following these meetings, larger conferences may hold a banquet. “Everybody wants awards so they have the awards banquet on Saturday night or Sunday afternoon,” says F. Paul Wilson.
An enormous incentive for attending writing conferences is the professional opportunities. This is due to the presence of career-boosting figures such as editors and literary agents, but conferences also provide valuable instruction in the craft.
Christopher Smith, an aspiring horror writer, favors that aspect. “I always thought that I understood character and point of view,” he says. “I didn’t think I needed to learn anything. It wasn’t until [the instructor] started talking about it that the light flipped on in my head: I have been doing this wrong for years. I’m still processing so many different aspects that I’ve picked up, that I’m excited to try out.”
Author F. Paul Wilson and Penguin Random House editor Ginjer Buchanan emphasize the networking opportunities at these events.
“When I joined Science Fiction Writers of America, they would have an editor-author reception every year in November,” says Wilson. “I would just hang out with some of the editorial assistants who were really nobodies – but they hung in there and twenty years later they were running science fiction. Then I could always just call up the EIC [Editor in Chief] who was someone I knew from way back and say, ‘I got a new novel! Can you take a look at it?’ Or if I know a writer who I think is really good, have them take a look at their first novel. I’ve gotten a lot of people published that way.”
“That’s part of how you get submissions,” says Buchanan. “A part of the process is actively, as an editor, going out and trying to find things. Of course, that can be as simple as going to lunch with an agent to see what they have, but the writer’s conferences – that’s a part of trying to actually find authors. We don’t necessarily depend on just getting submissions from agents. And agents do the same thing! They go to writer’s conferences. They go to conventions. They’re looking for people.”
“A big part of success as a writer is showing up,” says Wilson. “You’ve gotta keep showing up. If you’ve got talent, you’re gonna make it. There are a lot of talented people who stop showing up and that’s it – you’re never gonna make it if you’re not there.”
yours in haste,
You’ve got the itch. You want to work on a project, you need to, you’re burning up with it, it’s driving you crazy, but every time you open the document you’re faced with a blank page and a blinking cursor. What can you do?
Here are a couple ideas – not to “cure” writer’s block, because it isn’t something to cure but something to work through – to get your words rolling again.
1. WRITE LIKE NO ONE WILL EVER READ IT.
When I was a kid, I thought I was immune to writer’s block. I’d go into a creative frenzy every time I had an idea, no matter how strange or overdone the concept was, no matter the outrageousness, no matter the sensibility. No edits. No publication. Just me and my story. Of course, when you’re turning writing into a career, things get different. You have to consider the bigger picture – structure, clarity, plot, character – while still somehow maintaining the childlike belief that your story is telling.
I believe that the greatest cause of writer’s block is insecurity. It’s hardest to write when you don’t believe in your story at a very core level. So my suggestion is to bang out that first draft like no one will ever read it. You can edit later. You can worry about structure and clarity and plot and character later. For now, your goal is to write. For you.
2. LEARN SOMETHING NEW
I developed one of my favorite novel concepts from a documentary film. The more you open yourself up to knowledge, the more likely you are to find inspiration. It always helps to read other people’s work, learn something new, and absorb content similar to what you want to create. In this same vein, it is immeasurably helpful to find writer friends. People who hold you accountable. People who understand your vision. So join a writing club, or hop on an online forum, or take a class. Find your people!
3. MAKE A PLAYLIST
It’s hard to see a project through to the end, especially when you’re writing a novel. I think it helps to make a playlist with songs that would resonate with your characters. Play it in the car, on your way to work, before you fall asleep at night, and you’ll constantly get to live in your characters’ heads.
I hope this was helpful! Remember to check out my social media to keep updated on my journey!
yours in haste,
LOSS & LOSING
This has been a year of glorious mistakes.
Don’t get me wrong -- I’ve had some amazing moments of success, moments where I felt almost delirious with power and happiness. But I’ve also had moments of stomach sinking loss and regret. I’ve shut down at times when I needed to communicate. I’ve messed up on important projects. I’ve gotten rejected by friends, lovers, and otherwise. But most importantly, I have learned.
There is loss, and there is losing. These words carry something hollow, the absence of something, a defeat, a misplacement -- different layers of a related concept, yet slightly different. To me, loss is a process, a progression. Loss is a horrible but necessary step towards becoming the fullest version of yourself. Losing is a matter of perception.
A friend I met this year shared a jolting goal he had for the year: to get rejected at least ten times.
“Why would you want to get rejected?” I asked him.
“Because it means that I’m trying,” he told me. “It means that I’m putting my work out there.”
In his eyes, getting rejected was an accomplishment. Rejection may be a loss, but it didn’t mean he was losing.
I’ve carried this mindset with me throughout this year, as I’ve navigated the growing pains of independence and creative attention. When I think of my losses this year, it’s clear that many of them were necessary. When I shut down during a vital moment, I learned the importance of being vulnerable. When I screwed up my project, I learned attention to detail. The rejection of others taught me how to accept myself.
I am learning, and learning, and learning.
yours in haste,
Wow, it has been a hectic couple of months. To make up for it, here are a TON of writing updates, plus a brand new original poetry video!
UPDATE #1: Almost two months ago, I was announced the grand prize winner of the Serendipity Literary Agency's nationwide writer discovery contest. That has been the primary cause of my hecticness, because along with other great prizes, winning the contest meant that...
UPDATE #2: I've been granted a full editorial manuscript and consideration for representation with the Serendipity Literary Agency -- with one of the top literary agents in the country (who I have admired since I was a TEEN)! Which also meant that...
UPDATE #3: I finished and sent in a full manuscript of my latest project: a novel. This novel has been in the works for almost two years now, and I rewrote the whole thing with the help of a professional editor here in Boston before sending it in. The book went from 60K words to 50K words throughout that editing process, and most of those words were rewritten. But oh man, it is so much better than it was before. Editing is hard -- but it is AWESOME.
Update #4: Two of my short stories have been accepted into literary magazines based in Boston! A short story I wrote called God's Glitch is now published in the Stork Literary Magazine, and a poem I wrote called Routine will be in this year's edition of The Emerson Review.
Update #5: I have been working closely with the non-profit Writers Without Margins, this year working as an assistant editor. This meant designing their cover, checking for manuscript errors, and guiding the non-profit through the self-publication process. Their journal is now officially published and is available on all Amazon platforms, and will also soon be available at Barnes and Noble! Check them out at www.writerswithourmargins.org !
Update #6: For the last four months I have been working on a 20 page thesis paper that examines trauma theory in relation to expressive writing -- how expressive writing may have psychological benefits for trauma survivors, how that process operates, etc. In this process I've had the chance to interview survivors of trauma, attend writing workshops at a re-entry center, and examine my own experiences through a new lens.
Update #7: Check out my new poetry video below! It's a poem about always feeling unsatisfied, and running to a new place even when you are happy where you are. Basically, ambition that doesn't have an endgame. Fun stuff.
Anyway, thanks for reading! I hope you enjoyed all those updates. All is well here!
yours in haste,
My name is Brie. I am another non-Kelsey wanderer through the universe—though funnily enough, it’s the wandering I want to touch on, today. Writing this with snow enveloping my red-brick home, I, like you reading this, am the product of a thousand forks in the road taken, an impossible amalgamation of choice and something else—luck? fate? nonsensical, pure chance?
Raised in a tradition of faith, I press back on inherent design, preset destinies like railroad tracks, and yet--
I have always felt that the universe is playing tricks on me. Tricks of timing, perfect or absolutely, comically abysmal. tricks of the light; tricks of paths and crossings and leavings and song.
Kelsey had been to my hometown before she met me. Mere miles apart, and we didn’t know each other yet. She’s showed me an entry from that night, where, with her toes in the sand, she speaks of waiting for something.
I go to college a thousand miles away, and there are still pine trees outside my window. I speak in unison with people I barely know; a well-timed ‘good evening’ at work ends up with adoptive host-parents; our families trading Christmas cards. My short haircut coincides pretty much exactly with some personal revelations (ironically, one not preceding the other).
I catch the eyes of someone from my dream in crowds, convince myself they’re an assassin from an alternate dimension, (that, or my one true love). The morning before I leave my home, I bob like a cork on the sunrise waves, and my laughter is a living thing, because the storm on the western horizon is cut wide open by the stretch of a rainbow.
Three friends scattered up and down the eastern seaboard, the unquantifiable vacuum of the US postal system, and somehow, three letters arriving on the exact same day.
My grandmother would call these miracles. Me? I simply extol in all-caps texts to my best friends: THE UNIVERSE IS MESSING WITH ME.
And then of course to wonder: for what?
For me? all that trouble, a finger brushed over three stamps, a postman feeling oddly industrious, a yellow envelope sliding to the top of a pile, just so I could feel my breath catch in my chest as I turned the dial of my old-fashioned college mailbox and saw it there?
On the bad days, it feels ludicrous— the audacity to think we could matter like that.
But I do not have a monopoly on miracles. And let’s apply the same logic to a flower in some unwalked Maine woods in midwinter. For what? All that trouble, each curling leaf, whistling hair, a frost not a moment too soon, a thaw not a moment too late, something guiding each foot elsewhere, just so it could breathe its soft color onto the morning snow once, and fry when next things drop below zero?
The whole of human history turns on a dime. If Alexander the Great had eaten a bad date as a gangly preteen, perhaps there never would have been such a thing as Sputnik. If a girl from the blue ridge mountains had never introduced herself in verse, the novel I’ve just finished would stay an idea, in some unopened journal, gathering dust.
So which tricks of the light matter? Which miracles ought to be made mountains, what do we do with all this impossibility?
Mary Oliver, who’s been on my mind since her passing, says it best:
“It's like a schoolhouse
of little words,
thousands of words.
First you figure out what each one means by itself,
the jingle, the periwinkle, the scallop
full of moonlight.
Then you begin, slowly, to read the whole story.”
All this impossible chance, one story. And it all matters, even when it doesn’t. A pianist I interviewed a few days ago told me, ‘everything is everything’, and he’s right. it’s all this.
It’s all here, alone in pre-dawn light or tangled up with strangers, stumble and coincidence, as I laugh, laugh, laugh, at the staggering, ridiculous, blessed ways the universe is messing with me.
Okay, I say, throwing my hands in the air. you win. I’m listening.
How lucky we are, to exist, we say to one another, and I think that’s the truest way I’ve found to say it. I am here, in all the strange and awkward and unpoetic ways and all the divine, eternal ones too.
I am here, and again, Mary Oliver asks it just right:
“Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”
So, trickster universe, I’m listening. I take my impossible chance with both my hands, with the audacity to call it mine, to claim this accident of light for my own.
And some naïve part of me sings out, ‘see? it’s listening back’, when the letter comes.
GUEST POST: MEGAN & RIVER ROCKS
Hello, everyone! I’m Megan, one of Kelsey’s friends. Like Seward in the previous post, I’m taking over the blog this week because Kelsey is working on Super Exciting Writer Things, and she asked me to help out with the blog while she takes over the world. So, happily, I’m aiding and abetting the world domination.
Today, I’m going to share with you guys a bit about Kelsey, in the form of a memory. You should recognize some of the main characters: the dashing heroine (yours truly), Kelsey Day, and our friend Brie, who Kelsey has mentioned before. But, in any case, here’s the story:
It was the kind of cold that helped me breathe, that slapped life into my skin, made me draw my coat in closer, grin into a thick scarf. We were in Kelsey’s mountains, where everything is blue—blue as my glasses, as my bedroom walls, as blue as the university that I call home. Kelsey led us down a narrow, winding trail, Brie close behind her, and I followed in the back.
Confession: I am terrible at hiking. I think too much about where I put my feet, consider the most efficient path that will avoid getting mud on my boots. I’m painfully slow as I try to keep up with Kelsey and Brie, who trod forward with thoughtless ease, as if they couldn’t imagine anything simpler. But that’s just how they are—the world seems to unfold beneath their feet, throwing arms open in welcome. Impossible things happen to these two, my friends, my favorite writers. I’m not quite like Brie and Kelsey in that way, not brimming with soul, but it doesn’t bother me. I’m all brain; I drip with pragmatism and puns, and as we walk, I watch where I tread.
We stop at a creek, one of Kelsey’s favorite places. She bends down to pick up a rock from within the icy trickle of water. Something to remember this moment by, she says, for when the three of us are sprawled across different states, thousands of miles apart. Brie lets out a low hum, searches for a pebble, a kind of magic in the ritual. I’m a writer; I know the power of repetition. Three girls, two rocks stolen from a secret place, and--
And I can feel it, the weight, the author’s pen lingering in the air: Pick up a rock, too, Megan.
But I can’t. Don’t. Agonize over it for about thirty seconds. It’s the stupidest thing in the world, but—when Kelsey and Brie picked up that rock, it meant something to them. It was important, infused with memory. For me, who never thinks about quirky-lovely things like picking up rocks from riverbeds, I would just be gathering the pebble because I felt like I should. An action born of obligation. And that ruined the repetition, didn’t it? A narrative should be chosen, not forced.
So I shove my hands in my pockets and scan the trees like I’m not thinking anything at all, like I’m not jagged and irreverent and too stuck in my mind for my own good.
We walk back through the trail, winding back to the car, and my brain, which absolutely sucks at letting things go, is still asking: Should you have picked up a rock? Will you regret this? And Brie and Kelsey are talking, and I’m a few steps behind them, and in that moment I feel a little bit sideways, and then suddenly--
Kelsey falters in the middle of the path; Brie jolts to a stop beside her. I slow wary steps, uncertain. Kelsey bends down into the dusty trail below us, picks up a small rock in thin, long fingers, and hands it to me. I blink, closing my palm around it. The piece is dark and gutted, teardrop-shaped with a sharp edge.
I look from the rock back to Kelsey, shooting her an inquisitive glance. She shrugs, starts walking again.
“I don’t know,” she says, “It just reminded me of you.”
Kelsey and Brie are moving again, and I remember to pick my way along the path behind them, even as my eyes turn back toward the rock in my hand. Somehow, it’s exactly the right shape for me to run my thumb over the wide edge, the movement calming, repetitive, thoughtful.
I tuck it into my pocket, and I don’t say anything. But I smile, where no one can see me. Because now there are three girls, three rocks, and three different stories. And each of our narratives are chosen.
kelsey day is a young award winning poet who grew up in the blue mountains of north carolina. she has received recognition for a collection of short stories, as well as two novels she published at the ages of 11 and 13. today she is studying creative writing in boston, massachusetts.