I stayed home from work today because I’m sick, which was an opportunity to write, despite my achy body. It was an added treat to get my colorful copy of Toad Suck Review in the mail, shipped from the Department of Writing at the University of Central Arkansas. I turned the pages, which always fills me with a small amount of dread. I’m always afraid to look at my words, afraid I will see something in my story I don’t like. Afraid the editors will have made a mistake with my text.
The issue is thick, since it is annual, so I decided to go to the Table of Contents instead of paging through. “Central Market Women” did not appear under the “Fixion” category, but since they have other clever section titles, I kept looking, thinking maybe there was a “Flasch-Fixion” section as well. Instead, I found my story under “Nonfixion.” I thought for a moment about my story, about how in the story, blood spontaneously flows from wrists of shoppers; about how debit cards slip from hands and fly all the way to the rafters; about how arms spin until they rip off. I chuckled. Obviously this was a mistake. I can’t believe that the editors who chose this piece believe these events to be true, nor can I believe the young, ambitious writing students placing the pieces in the issue actually thought these things happened. No, instead, I was warmed by a different scenario. I imagined tired, hungover students throwing accepted pieces together at 2:00 am, past their deadline, not really caring anymore, and sending the issue off to production without looking back. Yes, it warmed me. It warmed me, too, to unwrap the issue, to free it from the entertainment section of The Echo, the university’s student paper. And it warmed me, before that, to first see the white, square, return-address label, Toad Suck Review, Dept. of Writing, etc., cut out and taped with nothing more than exhaustion, care, dedication and passion, just as I had done hundreds of times only with my name on the return address, shipping my story, my submission, to such places as this, in hopes that someone on the other end, in that university or basement office, would be warmed by what was inside.