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I was six months old when my father left for Vietnam, as a first lieutenant with the 101st Airborne, the Screaming Eagles. My brother ran through the house like "Soupy-man," cape draped over his shoulders: "My daddy fly up in the air, my daddy fly up in the air!" I had no idea who my father was when he came home a year later, inching over the backseat of …

The night before, I had asked Fabienne for a separation from the dingy green room of the Theater of Living Arts in Philly. Then I wept. Very rock & roll.

I was on tour with Brad, playing big clubs filled with good people, and getting paid close to enough to cover my bills. On the way up this was the dream, but it was beginning to feel depressingly …

In the South China Sea, my first deployment overseas in the Navy, around 2100 LT Berger brought me into his stateroom to notify me of the Red Cross message warning my father was nearing the end of his battle with cancer. There were other messages and I refused to go. I wanted to stay and complete the deployment with the crew.
Previously, on a ‘work up’ …

My Dad passed away about a month after I graduated high school and it was the most devastating thing to ever happen to me. I was my moms rock, I made the funeral arrangements, I helped keep track of whether the bills were being payed, made sure she ate..made sure she woke up in the morning. She and my little sister (whose not really related..but she was like family) started …

One day, while strolling my infant son through the passionate bleakness of that Winter, I made a bargain with God. “If you can give this baby health, if you can give him a normal life, I promise I will be complete. I will never ask for another one.”

Four years later, on an Autumn day filled with slanted sunlight and bronze warmth, I took my promise back.
Read more »

All that was missing was my signature.

I stared at the blank space near the bottom of the page, pen in hand, my wrist tingling with anticipation.

The letter itself was simple and to-the-point. It was full of sentences like, “Thank you for the opportunity,” and “I look forward to continuing our professional relationship.” Sentences designed to be forgotten and inoffensive. …

“What is that?”
“My fish.”
“Fish. Don’t. Have. Feet.” Mrs. Lyons, my kindergarten teacher, was a stout five feet, dressed almost entirely in black polyester, and usually had a black sweater draped over her shoulders like a cape. There was always a scowl with a permanent look of disgust on her face, and she was usually shouting at someone. Hearing …

My heart stopped, tears sprang to my eyes, my hands shook and I silently gasped “Oh my God!” with the last breath I would take for what seemed like an eternity. The voice on the other end of the line excitedly said, “This is Joy O’Neill.” I don't know what she said next. We had been corresponding for years, but she had never called before. I heard her name …

Remember
When we got out of the car in
Iowa, and
It was dusk and the sky was
A palette but I didn’t tell you so?

Remember
It was dusk and
We stood in the field off
The deserted highway and
You told me
This is Where Murders Happen
And walked back to the car,
Muttering about Children of the Corn,
Waited in the passenger seat,
But I …

I grew up in a Catholic home. I wouldn't describe it as a "religious" home, but it was a home where everyone was expected to go to church every week and attend Bible study on Wednesdays. I served as an altar boy from the time I was old enough until I graduated from high school. At one point I even considered becoming a priest.

And then I found …

When I was 15 years old I was raped by an ex boyfriend because I told him "no" and he wouldn't listen. I got pregnant and didn't tell anyone about the rape or the pregnancy until I was 6 months along. I don't believe in abortion, and I considered adoption. At age 16 I had my son on January 13, 2009. I looked at his little face and held his …

I was an asocial, retired, 64-year-old school teacher with no business sense and very little start up money when I bought an 1884 Victorian mansion in Louisville Kentucky and turned it into a charming Victorian Inn. I had reinvented myself as an Innkeeper.

Thus began a life of dealing with cantankerous contractors, harrowing housekeepers and no shortage of strange and interesting house guests. I had always been …

“I’m eighteen. I can do what I want, and you can’t stop me.” There she stood scowling, hands on hips, our beautiful, stubborn daughter, proclaiming her independence. Independence? More like repudiation of everything we parents represented.

We should have seen it coming. We’d scrimped in order to pay for on-campus housing up at UCSC so Rachel could enjoy “the complete college experience.” Little did …

After Mom came out of surgery she wouldn't wake up. Not really. She had a stroke that makes her left side weak. She speak-slurs. I am learning her new language quickly though. After hours of a loud nurse yelling inane questions they decided another surgery was needed. Personally, I wouldn't wake up to perky girls yelling either, but what do I know?

They're the brain surgeons.

When I finally got to mile 22 I realized I was going to finish: I was going to finish my first marathon in my home town of Chicago. As I plugged along so exhausted I thought my legs were going to detach from my body, I realized that I have never done anything like this before.

And I don't mean the obvious, of actually running 26.2 miles. I …

All my life I’d admired Aunt Jean from afar. It wasn’t just the feelings of a shy, awkward kid looking up to an elder, or seeing through rose-colored glasses. There were powerful reasons to admire her. Beauty. Wealth. Mystery. Elusiveness.

She exuded everything I wasn’t. She was tall, blonde and gorgeous. Her face, a former model and actress’, had sculpted cheekbones, large hazel …

All my life I’d admired Aunt Jean from afar. It wasn’t just the feelings of a shy, awkward kid looking up to an elder, or seeing through rose-colored glasses. There were powerful reasons to admire her. Beauty. Wealth. Mystery. Elusiveness. She exuded everything I wasn’t.

She was tall, blonde and gorgeous. Her face, a former model and actress’, had sculpted cheekbones, large hazel …

It was 1993, during an era when casual drug use had graduated from smoky basements with lava lamps and Hendrix music to parties hosted by 30-something hausfraus enjoying a smorgasbord of side dishes on chrome and glass-topped coffee tables. Many otherwise unremarkable suburbanites were trying drugs, and Mary and I were among that club.

We hid out at “the apartment” above the crowded bar, the only illumination the dim …

It was Wednesday November 30th, 1994 at 10:30 am, I was in my office when the phone rang. It was the Doctor calling with the results from my biopsy she had done a week earlier.

I said good morning and without skipping a beat she told me,"If I do not remove a third of your lip within a month you will be dead."

Ignoring her horrible bedside manner, …

In 1968 I was 28 and a gay man so closeted I was a monk hiding in a cell in a monastery in Springfield, Illinois. I was raised in a large Catholic family in a small town in Massachusetts. When I was a boy, I fell in love with another boy when I was about 10. I had suspected something was different about me earlier. I …
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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 →
 
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