We at Hippocampus Magazine are delighted to announce the winners of our first contest, the Remember in November Contest for Creative Nonfiction. A big congratulations to our winners!
If I were the type to write happy endings, I’d end with the four-foot, six-inch fence. It stood in the center of the brightly lit indoor ring of Cedar Lodge Farm, a show barn in Stamford, Connecticut. It was a November evening in 1982 and my hour was just about up. My mother would arrive any minute to fetch me for dinner and homework.
“Why is there a bed?”
Dad was under the impression he’d been hired to work as a doctor again, although Mom had explained to him, many times, that he would be living here now. Obviously he’s unable to accept that this could really be happening to him. Or maybe he’s confused because his former colleague, Frank, lives at Huron Woods, too. They were ear, nose, and throat doctors together for over two decades.
The first time I heard the story of the opera Aida, I was sitting on the screened porch with my grandfather. Out beyond the screen, the fireflies sporadically lit the velvet darkness. On the porch, the light from the kitchen window cast a soft glow touching the top of my grandfather’s balding grey head. It didn’t quite reach me, lying prone on the old metal glider. I remained in darkness, hearing the story of the Egyptian princess who died sealed in a tomb with her lover Radames.
My father and I stop near the fountain in the middle of a plaza. Baobabs and coconut trees lean over us and we are arm in arm as if we have been walking like this our whole lives. We sit on a bench as if we are not strangers, as if twenty years and the three thousand miles between Minnesota and Colombia have never separated us.
Sometimes leaving a person alone is an act of love.
I was riding on a bus along Christopher Street when I looked out the window, past the gingko trees that were just turning yellow and dropping stinky fruits on sidewalks around Manhattan, to see Jason walking with his arm resting across the shoulders of his long-time girlfriend, Clarissa. Her long black hair tumbled over his steady shoulder. He enfolded her in his warm embrace. His lips were near her ear, and by his half smile, I imagined he was saying something clever. Jason’s face was heavier than when we were a couple.
We lived, my grandmother and I, next to the line that separated white from black. There was, in that time and place, no legitimate mixing of the societies. If I looked west from my yard along Bay Street, I could see the black side of Mullins, but I could never go there and had little reason to look. My life was on this side.
When I was in college, as a naive twenty something, I imagined a literary agent to be on par with a unicorn: a magical being that can transport you from one place (unpublished) to another (published) in one swoop. They lived in a faraway place (NYC) and no one ever really saw them, or could prove their existence. Yet, we needed to believe in them… Just as I was giving up hope, I met Weronika Janczuk, a literary agent with Lynn Franklin Associates in New York City.
Yes, it’s a how-to book all right, but not just about dealing with the rejection of a manuscript. The goal of this book appears to be preemptive, an instruction manual on how to write so as to minimize the chance of rejection. That’s right: yet another tome on technique, writing dramatic scenes, developing characters, how and when to research, the do’s-and-don’ts of collaboration, writing query letters, preparing proposals, and, last but not least, marketing in all its facets, peddling to agents, publishers, self-publishing on the internet. But this one is different.