Chapter 16
A Community of Tennessee Writers, Readers & Passersby


What does it mean to go where you don’t belong?

We’re driving up to Marquette, a college town in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula for the beginning of my freshman year, something no other Vargo has ever done in the history of the Vargos. As we drive, I grow more ashamed with each passing mile marker. My father is old and we are poor and I am 18, trying to reinvent myself in a place I’ve never known.

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Throwing Scissors

When safety feels like suffocation

Maybe, like my mother, I am not as afraid of fear as I thought. Because, right now, every part of me wants a storm I can stand before.

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What the F?

A civil war, a brush with death, and a really good tan

The brain is a funny thing. Well, my brain is. Hilarious, really. In my fear, my neurons forgot the commands for putting on flip-flops, but they could formulate the thought: I hope the newspaper will mention the lovely golden hue of my cadaver.

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People of the Pandemic

Remembering the first days of the coronavirus crisis

Nothing illuminates the beauty of the average day quite so brilliantly as the fear that the average day has vanished indefinitely — maybe for always.

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St. Jeter the Kitty Cat, Pray for Us

Sometimes transcendence comes during a marathon of potty breaks and toddler demands

There are certain things in life that are inevitable, which means that over time, the Litany will likely get longer. If the tradition continues for my daughters, well into their adulthood, it’s very possible that I, should they choose to promote me, may make the Litany myself.

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Dog in the Bottoms

A four-legged role model shows me how to live in the moment

Each time I regain consciousness, I look for Zo’s white tail. Usually, I spot it flicking back and forth — ahead of me, to the left, to the right, sometimes behind. If I don’t see that waving beacon, I call. Soon I hear, then see her racing toward me at full speed, 45 pounds of solid enthusiasm.

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