For our Homecoming issue, we went dark in our story selection—reminding us of the city of Pittsburgh, the decadence and decay, the faces on the street that pass us by. The life that sprouts out of ruins. In these stories, we are taken to places throbbing with heart and awakening, alongside the delicacy of death. These characters in these two pieces captivated us and gave us chills, with similar fatalist and foreboding tones.
In “The Birds” by Moriah Howell, we see a young girl’s passage into womanhood by ending a baby bird’s suffering. Our narrator, Chickie, “knew there was something wrong with it, something that made her afraid,” reminding us that we become the persons that bind us.
In “Beth Likes Balloons” by John Marshall, a couple discusses the most artful suicide over a game of darts, while subverting the reader’s perception of the characters and the game along the way. We traverse territories with heavy emotional weights—from Texas, to Jackson, to the skies above. “Beth has always been attracted to those balloons, had always considered riding one to peak altitude, taking in the scenery, and then hurling oneself overboard.”
We are also featuring an interview with Jennifer Clement, decorated writer and president of PEN International. Clement discusses the political possibilities of writing and her relationship to genre and language. From Clement, “Life, and the writing, is different if you know a chair is feminine or a car is masculine. It’s like having shadows that surround language at all times.”
We hope these pieces lurk in the shadows and surprise you, as they did with us.
-Courtney Luk and Nancy Garcia