Cover Photo: This Is an Essay About Stranger Things (for the Girls Who Love River Phoenix) by Marie-Helene Bertino

This Is an Essay About Stranger Things (for the Girls Who Love River Phoenix)

“He singes the parts of you that are hidden by your first real bra.”

It is 1988 and you are transitioning to your first real bra. It is a skinny, unimpressive thing and so are you. You and your best friend push bikes down the creek path that only you and your best friend know about. You know she is your best friend because she’s wearing the other half of the best friend necklace you won on the boardwalk with five dollars and an arm’s length of Skee-Ball tickets. Be Fri St End. An owl above hoots what sounds like a word for an impossible invention. You lob your bike through a chain link hole and pause, listening.


What was that?what-was-thatIt’s nothing,


What was that?

What’s that?It’s for jokes and chain mail.


Only rich girls steal,

Millennial hot take

What was that?

At least we were together,What is the internet?I don’t know.The only people embarrassed to age are the young.

You still can’t forgive Winona Ryder?

I miss you,


What was that?

I didn’t hear anything.

Marie-Helene Bertino is the author of the novel 2 A.M. AT THE CAT’S PAJAMAS and the story collection SAFE AS HOUSES. Awards include the O. Henry Prize, The Pushcart Prize, and The Iowa Award for Short Fiction. She teaches at NYU and in the low-residency MFA program at the Institute for American Indian Arts (IAIA) in Santa Fe, and  is an Editor at Large for Catapult. In Fall 2017 she will be the Frank O'Connor International Short Story Fellow in Cork, Ireland. For more information, please visit: