This journal captivated my interest from the beginning with its colorful and surreal cover art of a boy drawing while a fez-wearing turtle directs him (“Boy and Turtle Drawing” by Judy A. Muscara-Orfanos, acrylic on cigar box). At only 6” x 6” and about 40 pages in length, even the physical size of the journal captured my attention and begged to be taken along for an enjoyable read on the go. It held me through to the end with the imaginative prose, much of it written so beautifully it borders on poetry. Kirsten Rue writes in her piece “Spelling,” that “she is the child born between others. She is the one with the sandy-sprouting skull, pink-shelled fingertips, snowflake collars . . . She rides a bandy-wheel and counts the glitter in the sky.”
All of the pieces come in at 500 words or less, making it an addicting read – easy to take with you but hard to put down.
The pieces included in this issue are surprising in how much they can convey within the space restraints, many of them much shorter than the limitations require – the authors taking the risk to prove how much can be said in just a few sentences. For example, Liesl Jobson in “Grams”: “‘Let them remain innocent, at least, about the race against time.’ [My kids] already know about blades and bandages and the stomach pump in the emergency room.” Jobson’s piece shows a daughter supporting her mother through her struggles with her weight loss, while the mother recalls a conversation with her sister. The sister is concerned for the psyches of the teens, but the mother is all too aware of the pain and struggle they have already experienced.
Kim Parko’s “Possum Remedy” is remarkable for its imagination, but it also says something so much deeper about loneliness. The story is about the cure for the “sadness disease”: “take two possums and call [the doctor] in the morning.” She finds and “kidnaps” the possums from their tree, but they decide to stay of their own will after getting to know her. When she went to tuck in their children, the young possums “were scared and lonely.”
I opened the window so that they could hear the cries of their children coming from the tree.
“Oh, that’s just the wind,” Willard said.
“Yes, the wind is so terribly sad,” said Womple.
“Yes,” I said, “it’s even sadder than me.”
In “Arizona” by Aaron Burch, his female companion is cleaning out “a rental car’s worth of life.” He helps her load everything into the dumpster but keeps a small ivory elephant figurine, emblematic of how much of worth comes in tiny packages – much like Quick Fiction itself. “I’ll keep it, that tiny elephant. I’ll make a place for it on my mantle, or maybe I’ll toss it on the table next to my door, right next to my keys and loose change.”
Whatever you do with your copy of Quick Fiction, keep the treasures it holds close to your heart.