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grief

Illustration by Anna Schuleit Haber

The Pardner

It has been a year and five days since Mayowa lost her daughter—lost, because she cannot say the other word: suicide. 

Trout

Two years after her mother’s death, Jane’s boyfriend asked her to marry him, and nine months later, they moved across the country to start their new life. Jane was twenty-nine, ready to step away from Phoenix after a hard few years. Ryan had taken a job at a recording studio in Tennessee, and he pointed out that the public schools there were as bad as the ones in Arizona, so she could easily fail teaching fourth graders in either place. Her father was a kind, if distant, ichthyologist, and he seemed to think the move was maybe not ideal, but maybe not a bad idea. Jane was excited to start over. She’d been adopted when she was six, and she thought of six as the beginning of her real childhood. As they drove out of town, she decided twenty-nine was the beginning of her real adult life.

Illustration by Jen Renninger

Kodak Moments

The summer I turned twenty-six, I stopped taking pictures. This wasn’t just out of character—this was abnegation of character, so foundational was my belief in a photographic clenched fist around the past. I have always been a writer, but I’ve never been a competent diarist; until that summer, I had measured out my life with photo sleeves.

What She Didn’t Leave


Dear friend, dear fearless        reader, dear soft spot, dear        drummer’s
Backstage sweat-soaked T-shirt        kiss, dear one                  sweet     world-without

-End, dear if you             find this, dear feckless, damned darkness,        dear friendless
Foundling pitbull & your shredded        fleece bed, dear pitiful                 scrawl, stained 

Illustration by Chloe Scheffe

Amsterdam

In Amsterdam I lived with a man who was always sad. His younger brother had died in a car crash when my lover was sixteen. Though it had been thirteen years since the accident, he carried the loss as if it were an heirloom. He had brought the loss from Copenhagen, where he was raised, to London, where we met. And now in Amsterdam, I felt it in our flat, its foggy chill. I watched him while he was sleeping and saw the sadness flutter behind his eyelids. Sometimes when he woke, he was on the brink of tears. His name was Örjan, and I began to think of the umlaut over the O as a mark of sorrow: It hovered like a shadow. 

The first time I invited Örjan into my bed was right after he told me about his brother. I pulled the story out, unraveling him line by line, until he began to shudder and weep and I had to wrap my body around his. I liked his sadness, the way it made his silences seem full. When he tied on his running shoes and set out for a jog, I knew he had demons to outrun. When he stared, unblinking, into his coffee, I was sure he was thinking that if his brother were still alive, he would now be twenty-seven, the same age as me. 

Illustration by Chloe Scheffe

Galicia

Antje came to Spain three years ago. She worked as a hotel maid in San Sebastián, where she met Mathis and married him. He was a manager at the hotel. He was eight years older. She was twenty-four and had left Germany after her mother died. Her mother had been in Kabul, serving as an engineer in the Bundeswehr. Antje had never traveled abroad before.

Illustration by Gosia Herba

Worldly Goods

As far as Henry could tell she never seemed to wonder what it all amounted to or who she was becoming. Her thing with Henry was part of it, too. She liked him. He was her type. She said this in a way that simultaneously turned Henry on and gave him the feeling that he’d cleared a very low bar. 

Jamie’s Hair

His hair declared him his own bohemian, a middle-class free spirit
with a mortgage to pay down, a racing bike, a subscription to Netflix,
and a frau as deceptively frail as Hans Memling’s palest Madonna.

Report from Ground Zero

My alarm went off, and I lay in bed listening to the weather and news. It was September 11, 2001—an ordinary day, a workday, one of those early fall days that Minnesotans look back at longingly from winter’s chill. I went downstairs, switched on the radio in the kitchen, and sat down to breakfast with the newspaper. Shortly before eight, the newscaster said that a plane had flown into the World Trade Center in New York.