Notes on the Fiction Selections

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June 20, 2021 by The Citron Review

I have never considered myself an athlete. I like to run and am not-so-secretly obsessed with a popular group fitness studio, but still, I was an asthmatic, chubby child who was more likely to pass out during P.E. class than to impress anyone with my physical abilities. My husband, on the other hand, could have easily been a professional athlete and has all the trophies to prove it. My children, thankfully, have inherited his natural abilities and are gifted in many areas. When the pandemic hit, probably the most devastating part for our family was our inability to move our bodies in the ways we were used to. Naturally, as our part of the world is opening up again, a return to sports and fitness has been a godsend. But, there has always been one minor hiccup: what to do for my middle son.

My middle son is nonverbal autistic. As soon those words come out of our mouths, numerous roadblocks form. Some recreation centers have said they could accommodate him, but they really could not. Some have flat out said they would not be able to. Most places that do offer accommodating sports have mile-long waitlists or are too far away from home. So, when we happen upon a swim teacher who also teaches special ed P.E. or when the gymnastics gym less than a mile from our house offers classes for children with unique abilities, we rejoice in our luck. When everyone’s needs to move their bodies are fulfilled, we have a happy house.

Citron’s Summer flash selections are full of movement. In “Her Kingdom Come” by Kristen Zory King, a mother marks summer by the tiniest of movements: ants. Throughout the piece, the narrator’s mother lays siege on the tiny invaders. She is truly an unstoppable force.

Summer and the beach are synonymous. In Lorette Luzajic’s “Found Objects,” a simple beach scene plays out pre-pandemic. Luzajic’s imagery centralizes on the ordinary: a walk, collecting beach treasures, the way the sun illuminates a character. Though the author mentions the impending collective trauma, the heart of the piece is not about the pandemic at all. Instead, it is the yearning for normality that is the true star of the story.

Remember when you were a child and summer felt like a magical time where anything could happen? Reading “FAYE FURR KNEW SHE WAS NOT AND NEVER WOULD BE WACK” by Beth Gilstrap evokes exactly that feeling. Faye is the girl in the corner, watching the world around her, until she isn’t, until she participates. The way we desperately want to be a part of something bigger, but hold back because insecurity and fear is at the heart of the story. Faye’s bravery to be herself is inspiring, even if you are far from the days of youth.

Many people I know lament the loss of those days before technology was so readily available. Summer, in my house at least, often means escaping the heat by sitting in front of television, or for my children, on a tablet or video game console. While reading “Left to their own devices, they became them” by Michelle Morouse, I took great pause, which I feel is exactly her point. Are we simply our devices? Especially after emerging on the other side of lockdown, Morouse’s cautionary tale about a woman who lost her family to the technology hits differently, and it is a great reminder of how fiction can make us examine our hearts carefully.

Myna Chang’s “A Practical Guide to Making Rain” reminds us that summer is dry and at moments desperate. Reminiscent of a tent revival, Chang’s story follows a man promising to help end a drought, but he is seeking all the reimbursement he can find. If summer has a villain, it is this character. Chang shows the desperation of the people willing to trust this man and buy his snake oil all for a bit of relief. 

“Origins” by Sara Cappell Thomason begins on New Year’s Eve, when two roommates reach a turning point in their relationship. Thomason explores unexpected long-term romance and the mystery of how relationships begin and fall apart. I fell in love with the entire last paragraph where Thomason’s imagery stings both the narrator and reader alike.

I hope you enjoy our summer selections and that you’re able to read from a place of healing and hope as we move into the future together.

 

Elizabeth De Arcos
Senior Fiction Editor
The Citron Review

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Backyard Mosquito Hawk by Charlotte Hamrick, 2017.

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