Creative Nonfiction

Photo by Justin Flythe

Melanie Marquez Adams


Interpreting East Tennessee

By Melanie Márquez Adams 

A young woman serves as a Spanish interpreter for a patient in physical therapy, and she finds it is impossible to stay completely detached from the situation, the way she’s been “taught” to do. 

I am not a mediator, that’s not my role. But I know they are hoping I can be just that for them. Iván ends up apologizing—the pain has gotten the best of him—and I interpret that he wishes to continue the treatment. The therapist gives us a better attempt at a smile this time, perfect teeth and all, turning his back to us as he tries to figure out with the receptionist the dates for the remaining appointments. 

I let my guard down and before I can stop him, Iván is whispering in my ear. One of his friends has been arrested. He will be deported in a few days. He is scared.

Sjohnna McCray


Origin

By SJonhna Mccray

A writer’s name leads to confusion, mispronunciation, and interesting nicknames, but by tracing it to its source he gains insights into the passions of his long-absent Korean mother.

Because my mother left us when I was nine, I never asked questions. Some children keep memories of their mother alive through constant chit chat and imagination but I did not. I let my father keep all the information on Chong Suk McCray along with a brown paper bag of her hair. The first time he sobbed was in my grandmother’s basement with a bottle of gin and this crumpled bag of hair. He said, “You don’t know how much I loved that woman.” He was right; I had no idea.

Deanna Mitchell


A Road by Any Other Name

By Deanna Mitchell

A young woman returns home to Georgia and attends a town hall meeting about changing the names of streets named after Confederates. What she hears motivates her to stop sitting on the sidelines and start working toward change in the ever-evolving American South. 

My best friend and I have a healthy obsession with the American South. Or rather, the progress of the American South. He’s a white guy and I’m a black woman so we have fun with it. We treat it like a sports team; tracking stats, embracing major players, holding our breath when subversive strategic choices are made, anything to make our team—our little pocket of the world—better.

Anna Rollins


Double Bind

By Anna Rollins

A parent considers the risks to delivering her baby in an era of aggressive medical intervention and of Donald Trump.

After we voted, we walked out of the courthouse, and I snapped a photo of the two of us in front of a bench and some shrubberies. George was asleep, an activity he preferred to engage in during daylight hours, outdoors, and often in direct sunlight. I was in a pink sweater, smiling, trying to appear more well-rested than I felt; I envisioned showing the photo to George when he was older, saying, see—this is when we made history together.


If I Can’t Have You

By Grace Yanotta

A teenage girl caught in the middle of being an “average fifteen year old” starts to discover her unique self when her family fosters a dog.

And I swear to God, he sees me, that next morning, as the sun rises through the sheer curtains of our living room. He looks at me and he sees me. Something I could be. Something worth it. I peel myself off the couch as he yelps and jumps in his pen. I sit down in there too. He rests his head on my leg, the way he likes to, and I put Yvonne Elliman on my phone yet again, and somehow I elect to devote myself to this emotionally-challenged, socially-stunted, alien-looking mess. I see him too.