Lowestoft Chronicle is about travel, but it’s not necessarily a travel log. The characters in the stories, in the poems, are on journeys—journeys in physical space or journeys in the heart and mind.
This issue’s fiction chronicles traveling with a girlfriend who has Seasonal Affective Disorder, moving to the plains to help build a railroad, taking the upsell on a cruise in Paris, and wandering into a movie set. “Stains from the Mint Julep I Never Tasted,” by Rasmenia Massoud, starts, “I look down at the vomit on my shoe and wonder if we’re even going to make it to Amsterdam.” The story follows the narrator on a road trip with her friend Evie to Amsterdam, far away from the troubles she left behind. Before leaving, her best friend had proposed to her, which she declined. Repeatedly saying “mea culpa” (which translates to “my fault”), the narrator becomes a mess as she gets high and wanders around a foreign city by herself.
dl mattila transports us to a plane ride in his poem, in which the “S O Bs” are actually “Souls On Board” (yeah, I know what you were thinking):
But engines aren’t what make the gizmo go,
or give it oomph to rocket toward the sky;
it’s down-home folk, our neighbors, you and I,
(the superstitious kind - those in the know)
the ones who finger-circle in our seat,
pull-up on armrests, elevate our feet.
In the nonfiction section we see the adventure from the other angle: from home. Sharleen Jonsson, in “These Are The Days,” has to make due at home as her husband is off on a fishing trip. She lays out the days for us with how productive—or unproductive—she is. On day one, she finally decides to clean out a drawer filled with matches, a task she always puts off to do until later because it is never a good time to do it. At first, she is impressed with herself, but we read humor as she is quickly dissatisfied:
I am enormously pleased with myself, and stand back and admire the bag the same way I stand at the threshold of the kitchen and ogle the floor on those rare occasions when I wash it.
I close the tidy drawer and am amazed at how easily it glides, now that there’s no paper jamming the top and sides. I open and close the drawer again, exhilarated by the silkiness of the movement, revelling in the simple pleasures of housekeeping. And it washes over me, a cold-water awareness of my self-righteousness. I can’t stand myself. I feel a sudden, overwhelming urge to drink too much wine, eat way too much chocolate, and watch reruns of Sex and the City deep into the night.
Which is what I do.
Lowestoft Chronicle presents entertaining and exciting stories that lend themselves toward travel without dipping completely over into travel writing.