“Savages” in The Milo Review

My thanks to editor Rebeca Morales for including my story “Savages” in the summer issue of The Milo Review. This outstanding quarterly  features art, poetry, fiction and non-fiction.

“Savages” involves a lonely women who finds solace in an unusual hobby:

The savages are waiting; they know I’m outside the door. Some I will feed, others I won’t. It’s not like dinner arrives predictably in the wild. This way they stay keen and vigilant, like nature intended.

They live in a long narrow room with glass on one side, and I control everything they need: light, temperature, food, water. I keep a close eye on them and am usually able to save the ones that get sick. I’m a better mother than most.

Thank you for taking a look at my work. I hope you enjoy the story; I am especially fond of this one.

 

“Happy Hour” in Minerva Rising

header_20140213Great news on the writing front! Minerva Rising Issue #5, containing my piece “Happy Hour,” is now in print. I’d love for you to read what I’ve been working on, and also to support this independent literary journal. Minerva Rising’s motto is “Celebrating the creativity and wisdom in every woman.” To purchase a subscription or buy individual issues, please click on this link.  Thank you for your support of women writers.

Here’s a preview of “Happy Hour”

Roni picks up her vodka tonic, takes a long swallow, wipes her mouth with the back of her hand.

“I wasn’t sure what it was at first,” she says, setting down her glass. “I thought it might be a turtle. But then it swam up close and stopped, maybe ten feet from me, and I saw it was a river otter. I smiled. I thought it wanted to play. ‘Hello there,’ I said, or something like that, and it growled.”

She shakes her head. “Yeah, that scared me. The otter went under then—I could see the water swirling towards me. I started backpedaling. The next thing I knew, it was biting the hell out of my legs.”

“Oh my god,” I breathe, “that must have been horrible. What did you do?”

“Screamed. Kicked. I tried to push it away—that’s how this happened.” Roni holds up her left hand; half her little finger is gone. I had been wondering about that.

“I got bit about a dozen times.” She pulls up her pant leg to show me, and I notice she has stopped shaving her legs. Sure enough her calf is riddled with scars: punctures and a couple dark crescents. “There’s one on my thigh that took fourteen stitches.”

I peer at her leg, look back up. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen Roni, and studying her today is a pleasure I wasn’t prepared for. Like most women who are good-looking in their youth, she has grown more striking, as if now that her beauty is fully formed, she has taken possession of it. I would recognize that face anywhere, though much about her has changed. Her skin is very tanned for one thing, not those orangey tans you bake or spray on, but a weathered tan that shows the white laugh lines around her eyes. Her dark hair, which she used to wear in a long smooth braid, is now short and choppy. She is bigger, too, filled out with muscle; her arms are spectacular in that lime green tank top. What surprises me most is her smile—there’s an upper tooth missing on the side of her mouth; I can’t stop focusing on it. How long has she let that go?

“Jesus, Roni. How did you get away?”

“Someone in a boat heard me and zoomed over. They smacked the water with a paddle till the otter swam off. I had to get rabies shots.”

“Ewww. In your stomach?”

“No, they don’t do it that way anymore. Still hurts though. They give you shots in your hip when you come in, and then you get five more in your arm over the next month.”

“So they knew the otter was rabid?”

“No. You can’t tell if an animal is rabid unless you test its brain tissue.” She frowns. “I don’t think it was rabid, I think it was just protecting its young.” She lifts her drink and takes another swallow. “Otters have their pups wherever they can find cover—piles of driftwood, old beaver dens, log jams. I’d been fishing near the shoreline, near this huge fallen tree. I got hot, so I dropped anchor and went for a swim.” She flashes a grin, and the gap in her teeth comes back into view. “Wrong time, wrong place.”

 


The Lambda Literary Awards

Each year Lambda Literary honors writers in the LGBT community. The 2014 ceremony took place in June in New York City. Congratulations to all the talented writers who went home with an award. I was a finalist in the Lesbian General Fiction category for my story collection SURVIVAL SKILLS, and for this I am grateful and proud.

What a wonderful opportunity we writers have: to illuminate, to educate, to foster understanding. The stories in SURVIVAL SKILLS explore all sorts of partnerships because that is the world we live in. The relationships in these tales are neither explained nor defended; people simply fall in and out of love with whomever steals their hearts, as they always have and always will. I want only to connect, to reveal not our differences but our commonality.

I have not always operated so quietly. Like other gays and lesbians, I have been ridiculed, sidelined and outraged. I have marched, donated, signed petitions, written letters. In 1978, I attended what was then called the Gay Freedom Day Parade. Harvey Milk rode in that parade, the first openly gay councilman. “Stop Brigg-otry” buttons were handed out, along with flyers that read, “Tell Anita Bryant You’re Against Discrimination – Vote June 7.” My partner and I carried a large homemade sign: “Our Love Will Defeat Your Hate.” The first rainbow flag, designed by Gilbert Baker, made its debut that summer, and everywhere you looked you could see those rainbows waving in the blue sky. Talk about pride.

People are both strengthened and comforted by their own ilk, which is why being part of a team feels so right and is furthermore necessary if changes are to take place. The trouble is, identifying as a team member and being recognized as one can build the very fences we want to take down.

As a lesbian—and I flinch at the label, wishing I didn’t need to use it—I have been offered an interesting perspective. Most of the people I meet are uncomfortable with secrecy. I have found that if I share my own life as readily and matter-of-factly as they do theirs, they are relieved, even grateful. What we have in common, which is nearly everything, is what they hunger for. What we all hunger for.

For many in the LGBT community, bridging the divide is not so straightforward, and I don’t want to minimize their struggle. But tremendous social progress continues to be made, and I hope that my stories, in their quiet way, are playing a part in this evolution. I am a lesbian author and a Lambda finalist. In the bigger picture, in the best of all possible worlds, I am a writer.

The “Lammys”

Congratulations to the 2014 Lambda Literary finalists and winners!

Here’s a brief but moving montage of some of the authors talking about books that changed their lives.

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Manatee Gardens

An embarrassment of riches this month with another of my stories, “Manatee Gardens.” featured in the wonderful Blue Lake Review. Many thanks to Mitchell Waldman, fiction editor.

The Blue Lake Review is a first-rate journal, published monthly, and I am thrilled that four of my short stories have made their appearance here.

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The Golden Age

I am grateful to Alison Stedman, senior fiction editor, for including my story “The Golden Age” in the summer issue of Halfway Down the Stairs. This issue  focuses on the subject of possession:

“Our possessions, the things we choose to own, are signifiers of our selves, external reflections that remind us of who we are, or want to be. We pick objects to represent us, to be our wordless emissaries. We display certain possessions to impress others, or to tell our story for us. Our stuff becomes a shorthand, a way to share who we are with an audience without revealing our history or hearts.”  –  Roxanna Bennett

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