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Narrative Magazine

It's been years since they were all together for more than a holiday gathering, and more than twenty years since they were in this place—mountain lake, paddleboats, hikes with bagged lunches. When Vera made the reservation, she told Glen that she had only one reason in mind, a gathering of their children—because it all goes too fast, she said—and now they are all there, arriving from their various adult lives and sliding right back into their childhood roles.



The confessional did not catch their eye at first. It looked like a part of the dark woodwork in the antique shop or like an old mahogany ticket booth. The dark mesh screen of the opening was rusted, years of dampened breath of all who had knelt and whispered there. It’s had many, many lives, the shop owner told them. She was barely five feet tall with close-cropped orange hair and round, green glasses. She stood with her hands deep in her trouser pockets and swayed to-and-fro as if on the deck of a ship while reciting the history.


The Oxford American

Marnie surveys the house and everything in it daily knowing this could be the last time she is here, the last time she fills the deep tub with bubbles so she doesn’t notice the rust stains around the drain, or waters the large overgrown azaleas out front. It could be the last time she sits on the porch swing and watches the convicts who regularly pick up trash along the Interstate that runs just beyond the pasture where the neighbors have a few goats and cows, or the last time she settles into the too-soft mattress on Roland’s bed wishing she could feel him there beside her.



The news would have been shocking anywhere but seemed especially so in a town like ours, or so we liked to believe: a young mother choosing to asphyxiate herself and infant son in the family Volvo while her husband was at work in the city and their daughter in pre-school at the Episcopal Church. Everyone knew who she was, had seen her at Whole Foods or Dunkin Donuts of the carpool line—the young fresh-faced woman in sweat pants and comfortable shoes, hair yanked up in a high ponytail—a look common enough to the pregnant and newly post-partum.

The Lineman


I know people are amazed by all the wireless invisible stuff, and so am I, but I have to say I never got over being in awe of the real honest-to-God wires stretching across this country and around the world, those we can see and tend, those that can drop and jerk around like a snake, light up a mud puddle and fry the fragile life out of anybody.

Going Away Shoes


"Debby Tyson is a mythical stereotype, the oldest child who stays home to tend the sick and dying mother while her sisters marry and have prosperous lives elsewhere. They pity her, she can tell.


The Atlantic

Dear Dr. Love, By now you have gotten several letters from me and this will probably be the last. I don’t care that you never respond. In fact, I’m glad that you don’t, because if you did, a response would show a weakness in your professional ethics.


Another Dimension


Ann has not been back to her childhood home in over two years, not since the death of her father, but her brother, Jimmy, has updated her on all the changes he and his new wife have made. Ann has not met the new wife but could tell from the pictures Jimmy sent at Christmas that she looks a lot like the ones before her: short, blond, young, some pedigree or another Jimmy will find worth telling.

Magic Words


Because Paula Blake is planning something secret, she feels she must account for her every move and action, overcompensating in her daily chores and agreeing to whatever her husband and children demand. Of course I’ll pick up the dry cleaning, drive the kids, swing by the drugstore. This is where the murderer always screws up in a movie, way too accommodating, too much information.

Happy Accidents


I have always been big on the end justifying the means, the Karmic shuffle of it all—a path that allows for missteps and interesting discoveries, mistakes and second chances. A person who has made a lot of mistakes in life would be a fool to profess otherwise, and though I am a lot of things, a fool is not one.

Me and Bigfoot

The American Scholar

It is snowing, a freak blinding storm that likely will shut things down for days. Thank God. Just last night under a clear winter sky, I had wished for a sign, or at least some kind of divine intervention between me and the matchmakers of the world—all those well-meaning friends who are far more upset over my single status than I am. They drop by unannounced to offer me comfort and advice and descriptions of various men as if they were hot entrées on a silver platter.

Essays & Interviews

Cuss Time

The American Scholar

"My dad often told a story from his days as a mail carrier where he confronted a little boy no more than five perched up in a tree in a yard severely marked by poverty and neglect. The kid looked down with dirty face and clothes and said, 'Whatcha want, you old son of a bitch?'”

As a Matter of Fact


“Years ago, my mom called to tell me that someone she knew had sent her a picture of me that had appeared in her local paper. The woman had said, 'I had no idea your daughter was so pretty.' My mom insisted that it really was the very best picture that she had ever seen of me — 'You look so good,' she said. 'I can’t get over it.' I had no idea what picture she was talking about and asked to see it. What arrived was a photo of the wonderful writer, Julia Alvarez, with my name under it. We had read in the same series and the names and photos got mixed up. I called my mom immediately to say 'That’s not me!' She said: “'But it says it’s you.'”

Plague of Silence


“Today, I was out running errands in Hillsborough, North Carolina, and noticed a truck following close behind me. When I pulled into the left turn lane, he pulled up right beside me and motioned that I roll down my window. I assumed he would tell me that one of my tires looked low or perhaps I had forgotten to close my gas cap, and was preparing myself to thank him for his kindness. Imagine my surprise.”

Original or Backwards


“For a brief time in my early Sunday School life, I had a teacher who understood the Bible the same way Brett Kavanuagh understands the constitution. She stuck close to the original language and intention. She liked the literal truth of it — like how Lot’s wife (a.k.a. not worthy of a name) got turned into a pillar of salt (for years, given southern pronunciation, I thought they meant pillow), and how Abraham’s wife, Sarah, at age ninety and with no reference to menopause or bone degeneration, gave birth to her baby boy, Isaac.



“My kids laugh about a long-ago night when we went to eat at a place called Bugaboo Creek. It was a restaurant chain — now defunct — designed to look like a Maine hunting lodge with talking animal heads on the wall and birthday sing-alongs from the waitstaff that shook the walls and invited the birthday person to kiss a giant moose head puppet. It was a favorite kid-friendly spot when my children were growing up and though they had outgrown much about Bugaboo, it was the last outing we had as a family unit.”


A Conversation with Jill McCorkle

The Swanee Review

Jill McCorkle discusses her career and life as a writer with The Sewanee Review.

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