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A moment that defined my life came in a statement of eleven words: "I hate Haylee because she is black and I hate black people." I was about ten years old and monumentally crushed.

It was recess time, only halfway through the day, and yet a fight was already in process. I honestly cannot remember the content of the fight. All I remember is the heat of the …

The night my mother went crazy I was thirteen years old.
Throughout my childhood, she had been my womb, my world, my queen, my playmate, my only friend. Her love had kept me shackled; chains made of velvet and silk, yes, but still chains. She had kept me under a bell jar, like the miniature statues of saints and Madonnas that decorate Italian homes.

The night my mother went …

Standing on the Tybee Island pier under a full moon with a salty breeze caressing my cheek, I learned to love again. Simply. Honestly. And with no strings attached. There was no future, no past, just that moment. For once I lived, and loved, fully in that moment. And I learned that I could love again.

My father and I set out on a trip to reach my grandmother who had suddently taken ill. The trip would take us from New York City to Mexico, and it would take us through some pretty unfamiliar places, as we hurried to get to our destination. Upon our arrival we were surprised to see how well my grandmother looked. We were so elated, and joyful. …

Finding ways to make sense of our grief can be a daunting task. Looking deeply into the things that were important to my twin brother, Stewart, is my way of keeping a piece of him close to me. My trip to New York was one of those moments.

After a long flight, we piled into the cab and set off for the one-hour ride to Park Slope. Mom looked …

Many with moms who are Borderline call them Nons. My Non can very quickly vacillate between best friend and evil adversary. In the wake of a childhood led by Non, there's this impossible tugging of hate and love that tears at every moment, every decision, every stage in my life. There is a residue of the very person who is supposed to be my life giver instead being the person …

Everyone I’ve talked to about his or her cancer experience has said the same thing about the moment, that surreal moment when that they heard the words “You have cancer.” Out-of-body experience, moving through water, like watching a movie…. just a few ways to describe that crystalline moment when the clock stops and your world changes forever.

For me, it happened so fast; I didn’t have time to …

I stand at the head of a 10,000-plus people line waiting to escort a hobbling eighty-year-old African-American woman into the Convention Center for a gubernatorial rally featuring the President of the United States of America. It is Wednesday, October 20, 2010. We are in Portland, Oregon, and the sun is bearing down (miracle number two). I am well into my second year of unemployment. An overweight deacon peers at …

Right after the Friday night football game, still dressed in my cheerleading uniform, I stood at the order window of the local hangout. Happy teen voices celebrated life, our senior year, our future.
A whisper, hot near my ear, got my attention. "Tell me, what's the ‘J’ stand for?" His tone held a hint of amusement.
Turning, I looked into a handsome face. Brown eyes. Smooth skin. Pouty lips. …

She passed me a note. Ducking the teacher's stare, I read it. A coming out, a crush announced, a heart laid on the line...all for me.
I smiled at her and mouthed the words, "You too?"
We held hands as we left class that day.

How Two Cobras Changed My Life
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My friend with benefits who I was deeply in love with came home from the bar. I roused myself out of bed and went to let him in, and then went back to lay on my bed. He followed me, and rolled over so his face was right above mine. "Were you sleeping?" He asked. "A little," I replied. "Are you groggy and half awake?" He inquired. "Nope." I replied …

It was after church and I was going to lunch with a old teacher of mine and her family. She was singing "Tik Tok" by Ke$ha. And in that moment I saw that life was worth living.

The police officer was sitting on our couch in front of my parents and I bearing the heavy news we were about to be told. They had discovered my 16 year old brother in my alley just a couple hours before, after a call from the neighbors. The officer described everything my brother had been wearing that night and asked me to confirm it, every detail he said was correct. …

One day, when I was 24 and not sure that I really wanted to live, I walked into a church basement and heard a woman, a truck driver's wife from Stoughton, Massachusetts, tell her story. She talked about how she used to do what I did and that she no longer did it and that she was finally all right. It was the first time I had heard anyone share …

Every year it's a bit different.

The first year, it was tragic. Every detail of February 10 was etched so clearly in my mind: the hard calluses on my palms from rowing competitions, the uncanny thirst in the back of my throat, that sinking feeling that I'd be doomed to adolescence forever. There were details that I'd attributed as somehow significant: the tulip painting on the hospital wall, the …

It was a few months ago when I realized nothing will ever MAKE me happy. I've had a lot of jobs over the years, trying to make a living. Somewhere in the process, I forgot to have a life. So now, I'm doing what I've always dreamed. I'm writing novels that I enjoy and taking time to actually live rather than wasting my life "making a living." Don't get me …

Jill and I were almost six that summer, scrabbling in the dry earth as we carved roads for her brother’s cars and trucks. We sprawled on our stomachs and zoomed our vehicles through clouds of dust.
A woman in high heels approached. Her steps faltered. We looked up. Past her teetering stilts, past the wide petticoated hemline of her starched cotton dress, past the tan sack of groceries she …

Charred disposable diapers were all that remained of my unborn son's nursery. A single, white, ceramic bowl, intact, sat in my unloaded dishwasher, the top shelf of which was now teetering atop a mountain of ash. Iron Horse champagne from our honeymoon, saved for a special occasion, soaked into the unstable floorboards. The 750 square foot deck relatively untouched from the flames framed the hole where the …

“I have to be honest with you, in a situation like yours, there’s not much hope.”
The words filtered through my somewhat altered state of consciousness, making their way to a brain beleaguered by an unrelenting pain so intense that suicide had set up camp in there months before just waiting for the word to carry out its mission.
“Not much hope.” “Not much hope.” “Not much hope,” the words …
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The Moment Book

Moments from the SMITH Community

Tomorrowland "Daisy, F3," my son Archer says as we pull into our parking spot. Disneyland’s about to open and we've arrived, just the two of us, our last hoorah before school starts. *** The alarm goes off and I pull the pillow tightly over my head. My husband, Hal, offers to wake the kids so I roll over, fall back asleep until Archer's voice wakes me, this time for good. "Hi, Mommy. It's …
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With Both Hands Whenever I think of my mother, my mind flips to this story. Not to the whole story, but right to the middle of it, the worst moments of it. For me, that's where the story always starts. My mother was beating the hell out of me. The first few blows seemed to come from every direction as I grabbed my nightgown and pulled it over my head, not …
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Reasons to be Thankful By Robert Israel They scraped me off the street, my bicycle in a heap nearby, and ever so gingerly placed me on the gurney. A crowd of curious onlookers watched intently, thankful they were not being loaded onto the ambulance. The nurses at the hospital were calming as nurses are wont to be, and administered an intravenous tube of morphine, and soon everything around me became fuzzy and numb, and the …
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Read More Community Moments →
 
SMITH Magazine

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