A Conversation With PEN America Best Debut Short Stories 2018 Author Alex Terrell
“I have always been fascinated by the idea of women being monstrous and beastly because it ruptures the dominant Patriarchal ideal of the shy woman.”
She would awaken in the woods. In sunlight. Underneath trees and laying on rocks.
Unsheathed and exposed to all manner of elements. But she was warm. Leaves were twisted and mashed into her hair, but she could not feel them on her scalp. This was a reminder that her hair was not hers. It belonged to the girls in India who cried when their heads were shaved and their sorrow could be bought and sold for $79.99 a pack at Lovely’s on Bright Street. She’d only needed three packs.
She paid her cousin, Drea, sixty to put the weave in and another twenty for the pizza she ordered. That investment now had leaves attached to it. And mud, she found.
She also found that there were no tracks, from small animals or large ones. No drag marks. And no explanation for the scratches on her arms and ankles. The bottoms of her feet were stained black like she’d been dancing around in pitch. Her fingernails, which had been short last night, were now long.
She stood on unsteady legs, knees knocking together, quaking under the weight of her body. Out the corner of her eye, she saw several versions of herself dressed in all white, and as a buzzing behind her eyes settled into a slow ache, she thought,
Black Warrior Review
Black Warrior Review
More by this author
“Every interaction between adult siblings presents a chance to get more clarity about the past. Hopefully, we’re able to seize at least some of these chances.”
“I wrote much of the story listening to jazz, including the title song, for inspiration on how to shift without imposing too much of a structure.”
“I wanted to portray the pain of trying to reach someone who is inside their own, unreachable pain, and how this often puts untenable pressure on relationships.”
More in this series
“When writing this story, I was thinking explicitly about a tendency in players to play games as murderous kleptomaniacs.”
“Some stories just flow out of you and you try to keep up as you write them. This story was not like that.”
“When you’re a kid you’re not sure if you don’t know something because you haven’t been taught it or because you’re not supposed to know.”