365 Short Stories: Week 6 (and a few days), Love

IMG_1970A few week ago, I fell in love again. For me, it only takes a small opening. I felt the zing in my chest, found 8 pm energy even as the sky fell grey with rain and sleet, and wanted to talk about my new beloved to everyone. I tend to fall in love easily and usually it isn’t with a person. This time, it was with an art installation project in our hometown, one that invited the community to come together in an abandoned store and write love letters, 1000 in two weeks, which we did. These kind of projects inspire me. You can read about 1000 Love Letters here.

Feeling the same giddy love for art of letter writing made me think about how love can feel a million trillion different ways and the objects of our desire may take a variety of form. So with my story project, which to date had been random in choice, became about love. From February 5-14, I looked for love in all of the short story places.

Here’s where I found it…

Unrequited in “Araby” by James Joyce at Fiction

Haunted in “Jealous Husband Returns in Form of Parrot” by Robert Olen Butler at Web Del Sol

Made up as you go along in “Morton Bonsey” by Randall Brown at 3:AM Magazine

Any size in “Crushed Ice” by Gary Fincke at SmokeLong Quarterly

Between siblings in “Nobody” by Tom Kealey at Sunday Rumpus Fiction

Longed for in “Flotsam” by Diane Cook at Redivider

Sweet in “Zorba’s” by Mathieu Cailler at Scissors and Spackle

With an unexpected twist in “Scapegoat” by Michelle Coppola from Short Story America on Quiddity

Rendered fragile with time in “Immortalizing John Parker” by Robin Elizabeth Black at Freight Stories

Grown fonder with absence in “Lemons” by Frances Lefkowitz at 100 Word Story

Click any one of these shorts and feel your heart begin to stretch towards something you hadn’t yet found to fall in love with.

365 Short Stories: Week 5, Mother Figures

Something pretty interesting happened at 365 Short Stories this week–remember, the choices are random. They were all about mothers.

Beginning with Robin MacArthur’s beautiful story at Shenandoah, “Wings, 1989” and ending with a visual narrative brief by Amy Porter in First Inkling, each story this week featured a narrator whose close observation of a mother/grandmother (or both) figure instructed the development of the viewpoint character over time.

In between, we had “Rose” by Dylan Landis at r.kv.r.y; our weekly classic, “Hell-Heaven” by Jhumpa Lahiri at The New Yorker; “Up High in the Air” by Laura van den Berg at Boston Review; and “The Long Beep” by Casey Hannan at Wigleaf.

My own story, “Alchemy” fits in well this week, too, thanks to the supportive editors at Monkeybicycle.Photo1

Here are some great opening lines…

From “Wings, 1989”: “That day in July my mom came out of the house, wiped her soapy hands on her thighs, and told me to get my lazy bum up off the grass and go weed the peas.” (MacArthur)

From “Up High in the Air” : “Just after the Fourth of July, my mother called to tell me she thought her hair was on fire.” (van den Berg)

From “Rose”: “Leah’s grandmother washed and dried her dinner plates, stacked them in the oven and set it on broil. She hid her pearls in the toilet tank, where they coiled under a rubber flap and created a perpetual flush.” (Landis)

From “The Long Beep: “My mother’s fingers are scissors. There are lines to cut. My mother doesn’t cut them. She pinches my grandmother’s lips. My grandmother’s eyes stay closed.” (Hannan)

My daughters with me, their mother. I'm pretty sure they're paying attention.

My daughters with me, their mother. I’m pretty sure they’re paying attention.

47 Flat Street Gets Some Love Letter Lovin’

IMG_3414February rolled in with biting temperatures, yet stalwart romantics flocked to an empty storefront bedecked in sheets of cardboard painted red. As the night progressed, so did the interactive art installation called One Thousand Love Letters, a project conceived by Dalia Shevin, an artist in Brattleboro, Vermont.

Dalia’s goal is to save the love letter, which she considers an endangered species.

IMG_3398She began to raise money to rent the space, provide complimentary hot drinks, paper, pens, and stamps, and maybe even to pay some volunteers, through Kickstarter with a goal of $1,200. In no time, she received $4,184, a clear testament to the charm of her vision: to have the community as a group write 1,000 love letters in two weeks.

For two weeks, 47 Flat street will provide shelter from the cold where you can sit down with a hot cup of cocoa and write your heart out. The project will conclude with a special reading of selected letters on or around Valentine’s Day. Don’t worry; directions are provided.

IMG_3409At the end of the first night, 131 letters were written. My daughter, Luci, who wrote a love letter to me, her very grateful Mom, wrote letter number 10. I wrote a love letter to my house later in the evening coming it at number 83. My fiance, Bob, was Mr. 100. He wrote a letter to a pair of birch trees he admires from the living room window each morning as he sips coffee and writes poetry.

There were letters to babies, fathers, mothers, grandmothers, teachers, the IMG_3417graduating class of BUHS 2013, friends, lovers, houses, trees, and the first letter, written by Dalia herself, is a love letter to the town of Brattleboro.

As Dalia said in her Kickstarter video, “Brattleboro had some really some hard times in recent years. We had a hurricane, and a major flood, and some violent deaths, and a major fire. I want this as an opportunity for us to come together…. Being a place that values art and the written word and just being a small town that knows how to take care of each other.”

I was most struck at how one person with heart and vision transformed a empty storefront, splashing a dismal dingy space with color and light and filling it with warmth and creativity.

IMG_3402Go, Dalia!

Brattleboro, this is who we are!IMG_3403