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

The Discreet Charm of Chemotherapy

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 as he'd hoped and they both think, This isn't so bad, but the next week he is a little weaker and the woodpecker nurse is gone and the boy across from him--he can't be more than fourteen--hums Puff the Magic Dragon as he's pumped full of what looks like tobacco juice (dark is bad? he asks the nurse; she shrugs) and he wonders why his own solution appears so harmless, like something he might have found in a bottle on his grandmother's dresser (eau de toilette is good? he asks the nurse; she shrugs), and that night he dreams of a monster chasing a red balloon and somehow he knows he is one or the other, but he doesn't know which, and when he wakes Lily is kissing him, then she murmurs sleepily that he tastes like Ajax, and he thinks, This will end eventually, but two weeks later he's even more tired and his veins have turned a deep purple and the woman across from him, wearing false eyelashes and an Eva Gabor wig, is being pumped full of something that looks like molasses (thick is bad? he asks the nurse; she shrugs) and he knows there is no way of describing to anyone, even Lily, the way she'd fished a worn tennis ball from her purse and dropped it between her feet, then rolled it back and forth as the needle went in.

©Stephanie Harrison, appeared first in Hayden's Ferry Review

Selected Works

You crossed the line, my friend Ann tells me. Iím visiting her in California. Weíve borrowed a trailer perched on a small mountain so that we can have a quiet place to write. Now Iím trying to explain why I canít 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...