Coming Soon! A collection of nonfiction works by Stephanie Harrison: Men from a Broken Country

Mary Janes

She wore homemade dresses and store-bought black patent-leather shoes (Mary Janes), and she loved her shoes, the crescent of white anklet sock that showed between the toe and the strap, and how that crisp contrast drew attention to her feet (and away from her dress), and she loved how her Mary Janes provided entrée into an exclusive circle--a world of pretty girls wearing pretty things--so that at recess she was one of the girls who jumped rope and worried about whether or not the boys on the monkey bars could see the reflection of her underpants in her shoes' shiny patent-leather; and she loved, best of all, the click of her Mary Janes against the worn linoleum in the girls' bathroom, the acoustics in that room amplifying and rounding the tone of her tread, giving it the elegant pitch of an old soft-shoe routine, and how, in the girls' bathroom, she might really be Rita Hayworth: beautiful, impetuous, and destined to marry a prince; and so, when her kindergarten teacher, Miss Pritchard, asked her to show-and-tell her most prized possession, who could blame her for choosing her Mary Janes, for carefully slipping off first the right shoe, then the left, and presenting them to her class like a pair of onyx slippers?

©Stephanie Harrison, first published in Northwest Review

Selected Works

You crossed the line, my friend Ann tells me. I’m visiting her in California. We’ve borrowed a trailer perched on a small mountain so that we can have a quiet place to write. Now I’m trying to explain why I can’t focus, why my nerves are so jangly. Why I can only take short, shallow breaths ...
He reads Ragtime while being poisoned by a nurse with a woodpecker tattooed on her ankle, and afterwards he describes this to Lily over hamburgers and beer--he is ravenous (go figure)--and she chuckles...
Effortless, like floating in the Great Salt Lake. Forty years ago, as a boy, Zach McKenna did this while on vacation in Utah, and he's never forgotten the sensation of lying still on the surface of the water, arms and legs spread wide, perfectly buoyant. Lately he's been thinking that in the span of a lifetime, these moments are too...
This is how I remember it: I'm ten or eleven, lounging with my cousins and Aunt Corinne on her sun porch. She's wearing a pink Chanel-style dress, like Jackie Kennedy, and she's sipping iced tea from a hot-pink metal tumbler. She's just discovered, she tells usthat someone is living in her house while she and my uncle are at work. Her crossed legs are bare and one of them jiggles up and down while she talks. As she grows more excited--telling us about her strange feeling, the little things she couldn't put her finger on...