My story, “Dirty South,” is now out in the spring/fall issue (volume 38.2) of Mid-American Review! Though it’s not available online, single issue copies are available for purchase here.
All of us were all from somewhere else.
Although more and more often, the somewhere else we were from hardly existed. It had been swallowed up. By what? We hardly even knew ourselves. All the same, that somewhere else was still our template.
There had been cul-de-sacs there, we thought (a dim memory), and newspapers tossed onto lawns at four o’clock each afternoon, by a boy older than us who had had a good bike and a pitcher’s squint.
There had been nothing to do.
There had been sprinklers.
We had rushed from that somewhere else to this place, and on our way we’d sped past billboards advertising things that were just up the road, and eroded red-clay gullies, and mare’s nests of barbed wire and discarded tires. All knit together by a green tangle of vegetation that had gotten out of hand.
The lumpy green blanket of kudzu that covered everything was our birthright. We had read our James Dickey back at Georgia and Auburn and Tech and Alabama, and we knew about the land we’d inherited. We knew it was a falsehood, that if you opened your windows at night (a thing none of us had done since we had lived in the unair-conditioned somewhere else of our childhoods), you could hear it growing. It was a falsehood that its broad, handed leaves smelled of the Kool-aid we hadn’t drunk since then either. Or that in the dark it sent questing fingers over the blacktop of county-maintained roads.
We knew all these things. But none of us had ever seen what lay underneath it.