“Flight of Fancy” explores themes of adolescent attraction, personal freedom, disappointment, and misunderstanding. There is a strong focus on the ego as part of the human experience and the way it disrupts relationships. The protagonist is guided via his perception of supposed “signals” of attraction and acts according to what he believes is expected of him. There is rarely a display of his honest feelings; rather, he often interprets the behavior of his female companion in terms of what the other boys at the school yard have told him. There is a mode of behavior, a template, which he believes dictates female displays of attraction. That mode is of course incorrect, but the protagonist is too young and inexperienced to escape that mentality. This exploration of the protagonist’s expectations is relevant today because it speaks to the very human difficulty of establishing stable relationships early into one’s life. Due to simple inexperience, a potential relationship can be abandoned or ruined based on perception and a lack of open communication.
‘Caul’ is a short story about the passage of time and how memory is what ties us to our existence. In this short story, the narrator observes and understands what was taking place in his family and the lives of his neighbours; through this understanding, he empathises with their experiences. No matter how much time passes, memory is still relevant and is part of identity — even if the physical environment has changed, the history that underpins a place is still relevant.
The story “Movier & Stillier” looks at how, as adults, we accept the use of misleading language as normative and how, when our perceptions are challenged, indeed, even when our perceptions are bested, we revert to what we know. It also bespeaks the use of language for control: in the story, a young girl decides to use more honest language, and is teased for it, thereby causing her to abandon her principled stance on word use. In short, this is a story about human habit, and how words are used to enforce that habit.
“The Complicated Life of a Fictional Therapist” uses satirical humor and quirky point of view to delve into how the people we consider the most “put-together” are honestly struggling with average problems like caring and motivation.
Mistakes or poor treatment in romantic relationships create tension and leave the individuals involved with a choice — to forgive or not to forgive? If the goal is to stay together, forgiveness is a huge part of moving on. But is the partner more likely to make the same mistakes or behave in the same inappropriate ways if forgiveness is granted? Holding the partner accountable might encourage changed behavior, but what if that doesn’t work? How do you know when the healthy choice is to forgive or to let go?
How is the self conceptualized when viewed from someone else’s perspective? This foreign perspective brews doubt and confusion within the subject’s mind. It results in a gradual decline of confidence which, in turn, leads to complacency or inaction. “Only Fools Can Be Truly Happy” draws on this confusion of self-perception and attempts to bring forth the complexity and unpredictability of human behavior.
We will all eventually die, and although that seems an unhappy fate, fiction, fantasy, and celebrations can help us cope with that inevitable end. “Drowned Dreams” is about abuse, fear, and death. Halloween is a celebration where such topics are permissible in circles they would normally not be spoken of, creating an environment where necessary topics are briefly considered non-taboo. My story is in part a reminder that all time is borrowed time, and we will all eventually give our bodies back to the earth it came from, decay being a form of freedom and rebirth.
“The Winning Way” examines the slow, insidious chipping away of one’s own conscience through adherence to rigid belief systems, which provide a comforting certainty. It takes a hard look at what humans are willing to give up to feel connected, and how easy it is for us to fall prey to sinister ideas and beliefs when we are hungry, nearly starving with unmet needs. This story taps into a drama currently playing out in the world, as COVID-19 runs rampant, along with conspiracies. Many families are watching as vulnerable loved ones cleave to groups such as QAnon. They ask themselves, “How can they believe these things?” This story is a response to that question.
In the 1950s, Harry Harlow performed a controversial psychological experiment in which he separated baby monkeys from their mothers and placed them in isolation for months. The effects included: mental distress, depression, aggression towards self and others, and obliteration of social instincts. Animal rights supporters’ outrage led to the criticism of solitary confinement for humans in prison — if the effects were this debilitating for monkeys trapped in a cage, how then can humans cope with the same conditions? On a larger scale, the past year (2020) has introduced large swaths of Earth’s population to governmental lockdowns due to COVID-19. Though much of the world has since reopened, we have been faced with the reality of isolation and its trade-offs when it comes to contracting COVID-19. “The Rabbit Hutch” grapples with the effects of social isolation and the desire for freedom despite what might be waiting for the narrator outside of lockdown.
The following fiction piece explores historical events such as the Cold War, which in many ways still influence domestic and foreign policy in the U.S. It also touches on the current stance the government is taking in relation to the UFO phenomenon, concepts of ‘misinformation,’ American cultural history (principles relating to the constitution and blind patriotism), and the general surrealness of living in the U.S. In “The Perpetual Metronome,” the author attempts to tie these themes together in a way that can be enjoyed as a surreal story laced with the drowsy nostalgia of Rust-belt, upstate New York — or really, anywhere U.S. — and full of historical references and existential dread.