Pen 2 Paper: The Ones that Got Away

Every year, Pen 2 Paper receives so many entries that we love, but that never make it to the finalist round. This year, we wanted to recognize some of those from 2017, so we present a monthly web feature: The Ones that Got Away. From January through October, P2P co-coordinators Susie and Laura will each post one of our favorite non-finalists from the 2017 contest. Enjoy!

All entries posted with permission, authors retain all rights.

August 30, 2018

Laura's Pick: Blood Samples and Wooden Virgins Eden Summerlee

Summerlee’s short story of a trip to the hospital for blood work starts off as solid observational comedy (“The hospital's name reads like a Tinder profile.” What an opener!). Before long, it takes a turn into the surreal, as the first-person narrator describes the journey her blood takes up a suction tube on its way to a lab. The tube of her blood is its own entity, expanding the gaze of the body it comes from—a perk of epilepsy, the narrator explains. Is the blood pov weird for weirdness’ sake? Or does it point to the strange places the mind goes while waiting in hospital rooms, or experiencing a seizure? Either way, Summerlee has brought us along on a delightfully odd adventure.

Susie's Pick: I Can Handle It Rick Blum

Losing the ability to do daily tasks is a natural part to getting older, but can be quite frustrating for everyone. Throw a disability or disease into the mix, and it can be even harder. A person may have to re-adapt every time another ability is lost. Sometimes, doctors can’t confirm what or when things will happen, making it difficult to plan for the future. In I Can Handle It, Blum offers readers a clever way of thinking about and dealing with situations like these. Whenever he would reach a new plateau with his Lyme Disease or Multiple Sclerosis, he would say one simple statement to himself and make himself truly believe it. I think this was his way of accepting the progression of his situation and not allowing himself to worry about what would come next. After all, we all know worrying doesn’t help anything. First published in Breath and Shadow, April 2018.

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