My Name was Supposed to be Elizabeth Ann

— Stories from the Roads (Not) Taken

The venetian blind Lady Liberty at the heart of “Bring Me Your Yearning” actually existed. In 1986, two days before the 100th anniversary of  New York’s original Statue, she mysteriously appeared overnight in the middle of the Susquehanna River near my childhood home of Dauphin, Pennsylvania, seven miles north of the state’s capital. Her origins …

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Writers are nosy creatures. We eavesdrop. We people watch. We collect other people’s stories like sea glass, shiny bits of treasure we hoard then barter with the muses. The inspiration for The Nail Club is one such gem. Years ago, my nail tech B. shared that one of her most difficult clients at her former …

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“The Daffodils” began a few years ago as an assignment for an online creative writing class through Gotham Writers Workshop. The details are vague, but I remember a map of a fictional town and instructions to write a story of no more than 750 words, which then and now is very difficult for me. In …

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Richard Norris Brooke’s 1881 painting “A Pastoral Visit” depicts an African American family at table with their pastor and is, according to the National Gallery of Art website, his “most celebrated [rendering of] everyday life.” It was also the subject of a Story A Day May prompt and the inspiration for my short story, “Ask …

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At dawn’s approach, Liv closes the cabin door behind her but does not bolt it. The Scavengers will break in, regardless, once they divine Grandmere’s passing. Besides, she has almost everything she needs secured at her back and waist. Grandmere had made sure. She scrubs an arm across her face. Her tongue is thick, her …

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When you’re a kid, disaster is the sound of silence. Of adults’ metallic whispers like needles in your ears.  It tastes like soda, sweet and carbonated, tickling your nose and throat as you swallow, then sloshing in your overfull stomach.  It is also the words of a forbidden book. ***** It begins as a gift–an …

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Every September, I have to memorize new rosters, create new seating charts, and manage the needs of dozens of new students. This year, I’m sharing a different kind of roster–a roll call of former teachers who helped me learn not only the kind of teacher but the kind of human being I strive to be. …

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A wooden plaque containing the final two lines of Robert Frost’s “The Road Not Taken” hangs beside my desk at work. It is one of my favorite poems by one of my favorite poets. However, “The Road” is one of those poems that readers can get remarkably wrong, erroneously interpreting the final stanza (and therefore …

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