The Furious Gazelle

Literary as hell.

Tag: creative nonfiction

“Still Dancing (behind the glass)” a memoir excerpt by Katherine Davis

At the time of my bone marrow transplant for Hodgkin’s lymphoma, without retrospect’s safety net, morning came. I remember the scent of bagels from a biscuit shop across the street from the hospital. Sprinklers doused flower beds of marigolds, daffodils, daisies. I walked with my mother and sister to Swedish Hospital on Pill Hill in Seattle, entered, heard the elevator doors closing, sealing me off from the world of people worried about getting to work, kids scrambling for buses, sunlight amid trees. I did feel lucky that the official Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center inpatient facility didn’t have room for me. Devoted only to transplant patients, it seemed a dark forbidding place. Death, a gentleman in top hat and overcoat, held the door for families who walked in and didn’t leave. Instead, I would be committed to Eleven South West, a wing of the huge Swedish Hospital which the Hutch used for overflowing cancer cases. I much preferred being in a place called “Swedish” which conjured images of vigorous blond women, meatballs, and massages. Also, I liked it because it seemed more normal—white and sterile, instead of sinister and shadowy—and teeming with diversity. I may have been preparing for a torturous exit, but in the same facility, there were babies being born, tonsillectomies, broken arms, concussions, heart attacks. I didn’t want to be surrounded only by people like me. In Swedish, there were different dramas taking place, more like living than death. 

Despite having visions of nineteenth-century asylums, I entered my laminar airflow room on 11 SW in April 1986 with relief and terror. It certainly was not the torture pit of my nightmares. But it was horrifying in its anonymity. Welcome to the institution, baby! There was one hospital bed in front of a wall chock full of mysterious equipment—suction tubes, pumps, monitors, gauges, plugs. There were two chairs covered in blue vinyl, a television, stationary bicycle, clothes cupboard, and tray on wheels. From the hospital corridor, you entered a small room, a vestibule where you anointed yourself before seeing me. Okay, you actually scrubbed your hands with antiseptic soap and put on a surgical mask to protect me from germs. During my pre-transplant chemotherapy, you also had to don shoe covers, gown, and paper cap. It was actually fun after a while to watch the doctors go through all this just to see me, made me feel like royalty instead of a usual denizen of purgatory. Once dressed and cleansed, you could pass through a second very solid door, making sure the door to the general corridor was closed first, letting no germs in. The bathroom and wall with television were to your left, the bed to your right. Opposite the door, a huge window with triple-paned glass looked down on a magnificent view of St. James Cathedral. In the distance, there was Puget Sound. If this had been a hotel, I would have been very impressed. The triple-paned glass on the window was to ensure no breeze permeated my atmosphere; I was to live on rarified air pumped in through special vents. At the time, I also thought the extra panes discouraged despairing patients from jumping—momentary flight, then nothingness. 

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“The Inheritance” by Christine Fair

Sitting across the rotting planks of a water-worn picnic table at a lake dive in Rome City, Indiana, Chris glowered at Bob and strained not to hear him. She studied his ruddy face with his pale, hooded, sky-blue eyes. His face was unmistakably and disappointingly redolent of her own. In anger, her mom would shake her head slowly and deliberately while growling in revulsion, “You look just like him.” She usually managed to render “just” a two-syllable word to make her point. Chris hated this actuality and longed to resemble her mother who always lingered just beyond her reach. But his widow’s peak, unruly hair and godawful teeth were all lamentably hers too. Maintaining her own teeth was a Sisyphean task. They’d crack or break. Dr. Hill would patch them up. They’d break again and Dr. Hill, again, would do the needful. Bob simply let his rot. In fact he seemed proud of these gaping holes as they were yet another signifier of his indifference to the consequences of his decisions.

She wished she could be tender or something like that. But, “This putrid son of a bitch” rolled around in her head like her moist sneakers in the dryer after an early run in the dew-kissed grass of spring. She tried to appear indifferent as he plowed along in his flat, nasal Midwestern voice which also—irritatingly—sounded like a more masculine version of her own hilljack voice.  Episodically her ears grabbed onto his words and she could feel that familiar anger rearing up on its hind legs, begging for permission to lunge at him, sink its teeth into his crepe-skinned neck and suck out whatever life lingered in that wankstain’s body. She forced herself to intermittently grunt or nod, feigning interested disinterest. The task helped to keep his venomous words at bay. 

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Book Review: People I’ve Met from the Internet

As Stephen Van Dyck was coming of age, the internet came of age around him.

For a gay teen in a small town, the internet meant the freedom to find other gay boys and men for dating, casual hookups, and friendship. In his new book, People I’ve Met from the Internet, Van Dyck has published a meticulously kept list of these encounters annotated with stories.

The list itself, published in non-annotated form at the start of the book, is entertaining to read, with snippets like “cuddled, asked me to call him Dad” that hint at a larger story. Van Dyck began maintaining a list of people he met on the internet over ten years ago as an art project. Though some encounters on the list are innocent (a few female friends, and some purchases of furniture through Craigslist) the meetings are overwhelmingly hookups.

The list grows more self-referential as we move through time to the point where Dyck began maintaining the list (at some points, he notes that people may be acting differently around him, either being more guarded or acting strangely on purpose, because they’re aware that he might write about them). This tracks on Dyck’s own evolution from the young teen he was at the start of the book to the performance artist he’s grown into by the end. Continue reading

“Sore Finger Road” by Adrienne Pilon

There’s not much in the hot desert that stretches from California into Arizona, save giant tumbleweeds, strangely anthropomorphic cacti with upstretched arms for branches, and a long, long highway that is interstate 10, replete with mirages and, every so often, a blip in the road for gas stations.  The last time I traveled down that highway the temperature was topping out at 121 degrees. It was July, but this was hot even for July. We– my husband, children, and nephew—had just crossed the border into Arizona, on our way to Sedona for the annual family vacation, when I saw a remarkable road sign.    I shouted out: “Did you see that? The sign for Sore Finger Road?”

     No one else in the car had seen it.  They didn’t believe me. Instead, they all laughed, and my husband looked over at me and said something about my vivid imagination and projecting and excess energy, because I couldn’t drive.   

    He was right, because on a road trip, I share the driving.  I’m a good driver, and I like to be in control. Hurtling down a highway at 80 miles per hour is much more appealing if I am the one doing the hurtling.  This time, though, I was confined to the passenger seat for eight hours with a bank of pillows to prop up my heavily bandaged left hand because, you see, I had one very, very sore finger.  

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CONTEST ANNOUNCEMENT

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Dear readers,

While it is still September, supermarkets already have their Halloween sections out and my candies look like eyeballs. THEREFORE Halloween contests are upon us and it is time for you to make us cry tears of terror. Send us something haunting, grotesque, pumpkin themed, etc. and you could win a book in the genre of your choosing as well as a $25 Barnes and Noble gift card. The top contenders will all be published on our site. Only one gets the coveted book and gift card.

Acceptable forms of writing for this contest are the same as our regular submission guidelines which are here: http://thefuriousgazelle.com/faq/ . The only rule is that this is a Halloween contest so your piece(s) should reflect that in whatever way you deem Halloween-ish.

That’s right piece(s)! We will take up to five submissions from each contestant. Please send your submissions with Halloween Contest Submission in the subject line of your email. The Deadline is Friday October 24, 2014.

BOO!

-The Furious Gazelle Editors

“Bee, Telephone, Flower” by Rebecca Lawhorne

Check out a new essay titled “Bee, Telephone, Flower” by Rebecca Lawhorne, below.

Rebecca Lawhorne was born on a Christian commune in rural Alaska, but was migrated to an island in Florida. After years of feeling like she was missing out on an essential part of the human experience, brutal weather and wild animals, she moved herself back north. She now shares her life with two farm-raised women and their dogs, practices subsistent living and attends the Univeristy of Alaska, Fairbanks, studying under poets Derick Burleson and Sean Hill. You can pick her brain at moonpixie.tumblr.com and tune into her radio show “Hipstery” on KSUAradio.

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