Notes on the Fiction Selections

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March 21, 2021 by The Citron Review

The legend goes that one day when he was sixteen, my dad bent down to tie his shoes and could not reach his toes, so he decided to start running. My childhood memories are peppered with images of NordicTracks, watching my dad finish races, and the wall calendars he would use to track daily, weekly, and monthly mile totals. I have never known someone to love running as much as my dad. He has conquered 5Ks and 100-mile races and everything in between. And when I took up the sport in college, it became one of my favorite ways to spend time with him.

I am not naturally athletic. As a child, I had exercise-induced asthma and still remember the embarrassment of running the mile in high school and nearly passing out. But, my dad encouraged me to give running a chance and helped me train for a 10K when I was 21. That was all it took for me to be hooked. I have been running ever since.

This past fall, my dad was diagnosed with cancer. He is doing well, but is unable to run. Although he will not admit it, I know it hurts his soul that he cannot. During February, a friend challenged me to run 100 miles. What started as friendly competition turned into a mission to honor my dad—he cannot run, but I can, so I did. I ran the 100 miles and am recording my daily and monthly miles to share with my dad until he can get back to the trails comfortably and safely. My totals might never be as impressive as the ones I have seen him write for years on calendars, but running gives us a kind of secret language, and that is worth so much more.

Safety and comfort have been at the forefront of most of our minds for the last year. While numerous pieces about the pandemic have been submitted, it is “Sequestered” by Linda Wastila that we’ve chosen to publish. Wastila uses the isolation of home as the tense setting of a larger story. Wastila exposes a truth. While the world is experiencing this pandemic together, life, in all its emotional messiness is still very much happening. It continues whether we choose to confront it, or like the narrator, conceal it for as long as possible.

Concealing is exactly what the narrator in Star Su’s “Freezing Point” refuses to do any longer. With ethereal imagery and dizzying language, Su presents a woman ready to liberate herself from a dishonest man.

“City Lights” by Mark Cassidy is a tribute to poetry legend Lawrence Ferlinghetti and his famous bookstore. Presented almost entirely in dialogue, Cassidy unfolds a superfan moment that is completely relatable to anyone who has traveled to see a much-admired location. Cassidy leaves us with a great mystery that I will not ruin, which adds a playful tone overall to the piece and a good excuse to reread closer a second time. “City Lights” becomes even more meaningful considering Ferlinghetti’s passing in February at 101 years old.

“Alone with Others” by Gordon W. Mennenga follows an unnamed narrator through vignettes culminating in her thoughts of death. This piece caught our attention because stories like this are hard to accomplish. Each paragraph works as its own mini story and they work together unfolding a tapestry of quirky life.

Be well and enjoy!

Elizabeth De Arcos
Senior Fiction Editor
The Citron Review

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