ICYMI #007: New beginnings.


New beginnings.
ICYMI no. 007  |  January 2021

Welcome to ICYMI Monthly. Every month, we feature four essays and two craft pieces handpicked by our editors.

In our 25+ years, Creative Nonfiction has published hundreds of original works, most of which have never been available online. Now we're sharing some of our best writing with you. Happy reading!


ESSAY  |  True Story #9 (2017)
RESURRECTION  |  Rebeca Dunn-Krahn
After a string of deaths, a family does everything it can to keep an ailing chicken alive. 

"After a week I said, 'What's going on with that chicken? Is she getting worse? Staying the same? What's the deal?'
     'Sometimes better, sometimes worse, sometimes the same.'

     It began to dawn on us that maybe we should euthanize Minerva. It seemed cruel to allow things to go on as they were. Then again, she didn't really show signs of pain or distress, just extreme tiredness. Maybe it was extreme to kill a chicken for being tired." Read →


ON CRAFT  |  CNF #47, Female Form (2013)
THE "LITTLE DID I KNOW" MEMOIR  |  Elizabeth Stone
Shocking discoveries that change everything

"Almost always, it is built out of the rubble of an earlier version of a life story. Often, the first marker of such a memoir is that, directly or indirectly, it involves a secret of some sort, often sexual: something like a concealed adoption, adultery, bigamy, homosexuality, incest, sexual abuse, or a racially mixed background—and maybe even several of these." Read →


ESSAY  |  CNF #71, Let's Talk About Sex (2019)
HE WAS MY FIRST, TOO  |  Roger Tolle
A licensed surrogate partner helps a man have his first successful sexual encounter

"Opening the door, I almost ran into a gaunt man with caved-in posture. His eyes darted up to meet mine, then scurried back to the floor in front of him.
     'OK,' I said to myself as the door swung shut behind him, 'maybe I don't look as young and sexy as I used to, but at least I’m not dealing with socially constricting paranoia like he is.'

     Five minutes later, Michael formally introduced me to the gaunt man. I'll call him Ted. My job would be to guide and partner with him in his first successful sexual experience." Read →


ESSAY  |  CNF #59, Marriage (2016)
THE MATH OF MARRIAGE  |  Elane Johnson
One simple equation compels the author to take a fifth trip down the aisle

"You are walking down that plushly carpeted aisle for the first time, your satin heels sinking into the rug so that you wobble a little on your daddy's arm, and you see through the mosquito netting of your veil the pewter pipes of the organ, flat against the back wall like a display of rifles in a gun rack, and the looming, gilded cross hanging in front, illuminated just right so the carved Christ, Episcopalian and clean and tidy—not the Catholic church's slumping, half-naked, bleeding, suffering Savior—gets most of the glory. Suspended on wires that make Him dance, not unlike a puppet, in gusts from the central A/C, the Son of God waits with His arms outstretched as if He's planning to grab you when you get there. You turn your head left and right, nodding slightly at the mayor, at some friends from high school, at some faces as foreign to you as this thing you are about to become: married." Read →


ON CRAFT |  CNF #61, Learning from Nature (2016)
A teacher-writer heads to the beach to try out one of her own writing prompts

"I was well into my second trimester of pregnancy with my sixth—and final—child during a hot Indiana summer. Then, so much of my time was spent trying to overcome the typical pregnancy discomforts, which were exacerbated by my age (mid-thirties, just old enough to be considered of "advanced maternal age") and the unusually humid weather in my hometown that summer. Uncomfortable was not the word I would use to describe my state at the time; I was in misery, bodily distress! But that did not change the fact that I had writing deadlines—deadlines that did not heed the symptoms of my condition." Read →


ESSAY  |  CNF #67, Starting Over (2018)
THE DARK MONTH  |  Christopher Collins
A father tries to let go of memories from deployments in Afghanistan

"When I hold my firstborn, Patrick, for the first time, embracing him against my chest, my Army-issue brown T-shirt is still damp with sweat and blotched with patches of dried sand from the nineteen-hour trip from Afghanistan to Ohio. My son is six weeks old, buttoned to the neck in a long-sleeve white onesie with a brown giraffe on his chest, and I can smell the stench of breast milk on his breath. His body is warm and fleshy and light—just a little heavier than the 8.79 pounds of an M16A2 rifle fully locked and loaded with a thirty-round magazine of 5.56-millimeter ball ammunition. And as I hold him between my calloused, dried palms and peer into his blue eyes, that same methylene dark as his mother's, I realize his entire existence is just delicate enough that if I want, I can rip him in two." Read →

#cnftweet  |  Twitter Daily Contest

@TaraAdele: It had been 20 years since I last pedaled as though the world was mine. But now, I craved a bike as much as I do breath from behind a mask. As I held my new bike's handles, coasting against the wind, the wheels' hymn resounded like my favorite gospel.
10:35 PM · Jan 5, 2021

@KTGanfield: My metronome is dog's black flagged tail. Have you met or seen her from afar? She's seen you, her pal, for sure. Everyone's a friend, even the men—always men—who say she looks like a dirty mop. She shakes it off like sidewalk chalk. I'll follow her lead.
6:50 PM · Jan 5, 2021

witness, disbeliever
Between-the-lines reader.

Chemo driver
Hospice coordinator
Narcotic administrator
Bedding changer
Last breath observer.

Next of Kin
Obituary writer
Cadaver donor
Ash spreader

First dater.

11:59 AM · Jan 11, 2021

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