Mesoamerican Triptych – William Fleeson

Pérado I. Pérado stretched over its one paved road, the village elongated to avoid the mud of the side streets. Haitians called out Blan! – “White man!” – wanting attention or a cash handout or, failing the former, cash alone. I stopped for lunch at a roadside shack. They had rice and chicken and pikliz…

The Other Half-Orphan – Thomas Stewart

I was not the first. I knew that when it happened. But you feel like the only one it’s happening to. Because it’s happening to you, and there’s only one you. My father died when I was 23. He was diagnosed with oesophageal cancer in July and died in February the next year. For the…

The Ache for Home – Sally Gander

The ache for home lives in all of us, the safe place where we can go as we areand not be questioned. Maya Angelou The box room where I was staying was dark, always dark. The window let in only a sliver of light and the lamp cast a weak pool of yellow over dark-painted…

Lord of the Ocean – Aneeta Sundararaj

“China is going to take over our world,” my friend declared. Unlikely to happen! I didn’t say the words aloud, though, for this man’s convictions were delivered with such ferocity that any meaningful debate was impossible. Rumour had it that he believed that every country was doomed to inevitable failure unless it bowed down to…

Back Home in Old Kentucky – Bailey Vandiver

Kentucky governor Happy Chandler once said Kentuckians are always either coming home or thinking about coming home. On the day that tornadoes devastated my home state, I was longing to be home. It was December 11, 2021, and I woke up in a New York City hotel room to the news that tornadoes had ripped…

When Will My Sense of Linear Time Come Back From the War? – Nat Guest

Time’s gone weird, hasn’t it? Hasn’t time gone weird? I’m really struggling with it at the moment. I don’t know what day it is. I’m not sure whether it’s day. It’s 2023 next year. It’s still March 2020. It’s the dead zone between Christmas and New Year. It’s been Wednesday for months. I’ll be dead…

The Generation of Dogged Persistence – Marie McMullin

‘When All Looks Bleak, Keep Going, for What Else Is There?’ – The Generation of Dogged Persistence The setting: my kitchen in the early evening, lights filtering through the window and the door open onto the hallway. The atmosphere: cheerful but low-key, with a smidgen of excitement at the prospect of letting (reasonably) loose. The…

Reading Heat-Moon in Nicaragua – William Fleeson

For a dusty Central American beach town, San Juan del Sur has a ton of history. The former fishing village once offered passage to Forty-Niners on their way from the US east coast to California. Cornelius Vanderbilt grew his fortune by running a waterborne transit line for that gold rush: faster than overland travel, the…

The Trials and Tribulations of Route 17 – Zahira P. Latif

I stood at the bus stop, waiting for the number 17 into Birmingham city centre. I had been waiting for over 20 minutes, and the queue at the stop had now built up to well over 20 people. I can drive, but car ownership had lost its appeal. I was tired of having to cart…

My One of The Kind Relationship to Chinese Food – Chris Liberato

Before I became a more adventurous eater in my late twenties, my appreciation for traditional Asian food consisted of the bowls of phở that my friends would seek out when we visited Boston. I was fascinated in particular with how my chef friend Charlie approached his noodles: requesting his steak served raw on a side…

Mick Jagger Used to Call Me Mum – Jacqueline Ellis

When I was little, the dark staircase between the front and back rooms of my grandparents’ two-up, two-down terrace house had been a mountain. Each step a jagged, granite foothold; the shadowed landing a dark cloud hiding a kingdom of giants, or a castle encased in twisted branches. Their bedroom glowed yellow; the edges of…