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Volume 4 - Issue 2
On Belonging

Letter from our Fiction Editor

My name is Christopher Louis Romaguera, and I am the new Fiction Editor at The New Southern Fugitives. I am a Cuban-American writer who was born in Hialeah, Florida, and raised in Miami. For the majority of the last ten years I’ve lived in New Orleans, where I got my MFA at the University of New Orleans. I’ve been published in The Daily Beast, Curbed National, PANK Magazine, New Orleans Review and other publications. I have been a monthly columnist at The Ploughshares Blog for over the last two years.

That is my writer’s bio. But that doesn’t explain my love of stories. My love of stories, my love of writing, started differently. I fell in love with stories as a child, sitting and hearing my father and mis abuelos create a world I had never been to strictly through stories, Cuba. I learned to love stories between games of basketball on my old block, each of us telling a story, real or stretched, from our different homes, different schools, different lives. The first audience I ever had for my stories sat on the green power box. I learned and loved my first friends through stories on that old box. All of our stories, about belonging. Wanting to belong somewhere, or to each other, or just on this planet. I started to write, because I wanted my stories to be solid, to be something physical, so that if nothing else, at least my writing, my thoughts, could be held, could belong to me.

As Fiction Editor, I selected three short stories that all center around the theme of “belonging.” As we exited a 2020 that had many of us isolated from our loved ones, from the places and people and things we love, a lot of us are left wondering where we belong in this world. In each of the three fiction pieces in issue two of volume four, we see characters yearning to belong: to their families, to their homes, to the world around them. Each of these stories feels like it needs to be told.

In “A Mothers Gift,” Michelle Tang writes about Vida, who navigates trauma and her family as her mother’s funeral approaches. In “Benediction,” Adam Carter writes a first-person narrative that sums up the narrator’s life on the first line and takes the reader through the journey back to that line with a resonant final image. And in “The Days Without Time” Caroline Fernelius takes the reader up and down the South, up and down the memories of a childhood, searching for meaning. Each of these stories needed to be told. Each of these stories about belonging. Each of these stories belonging to all of us, to read, to listen to, to know, to start this new year.

Christopher Louis Romaguera

In addition to the fiction selections, Issue 2 includes John W. Bateman's creative nonfiction piece, “Southerners Don’t Lie: We Tell Polite Stories,” which follows the author as a young boy and his family’s humorous story telling.

"A Mother's Gift"
Fiction by Michelle Tang

"“Bea swore us to secrecy, Max and me,” Lu told her niece, holding Vida’s hands tightly in her own. Vida noticed Lu’s upper body was weaving as she sat, and her cataract-ringed eyes were not focusing. The stink of white wine blended with the smell of lilies inside Vida’s nostrils, a nauseating combination. The woman wondered if her aunt would wake up tomorrow with a hangover and regrets, but she made no move to quiet the older woman."

-Michelle Tang, "A Mother's Gift"

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"The Days Without Time"
Flash Fiction by Caroline Fernelius
"Eight miles down Galveston island, far away from monogrammed tote bags and Japanese fusion food, our little house was beautiful because we knew it could not last, each year giving something of itself to the salt-ravaged air—a water-heating unit, a lawn chair, a skin of mint-tinged paint."

-Caroline Fernelius, "The Days Without Time"
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"Southerners Don't Lie: We Tell Polite Stories"
Nonfiction by John W. Bateman
"Was I going to inherit a castle? What in the hell was I doing in Arkansas? On a dirt road? Were my ancestors ex-patriots? Disenfranchised? Did anyone know? Or care?"

-John W. Bateman, "Southerners Don't Lie: We Tell Polite Stories"
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Fiction by Adam Carter
"He took a swing at me and it clipped my jaw but I was ripe from my old man hitting me. I grabbed Jimmy by that fancy collar and started working over his fancy braces and I beat them until they ran straight through his lips. I got kicked out of school that year but when I came back Jimmy Pickering was done laughing."

-Adam Carter, "Benediction"
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