Fading Light

Open to Interpretation is a juried book competition of photography, poetry and prose. In the words of publisher Clare O’Neill, “A good photograph tells a story. But it tells a slightly different story to every viewer. Open to Interpretation’s publications have launched to great critical acclaim and have provided a venue for photographers and writers from all over the world an opportunity to have their work published in a remarkable collection of images and words.”

Last fall I went online to review the photographs that had been selected for the next book in the series and submitted my responses– a prose piece of less than 300 words, and two poems– to three of the posted images. In February I received a congratulatory email informing me that two out of the three had been selected to appear in Open to Interpretation: Fading Light. “The response to our call for submissions was great,” Claire wrote, “and Judge Jacqueline Kolosov was delighted with the high-quality of the work received.”

My prose submission titled “Stew and Roses,” written in response to a photo by Elizabeth Siegfried (see below), was also given ‘Honorable Mention’ by the judge for the ‘Fading Light’ competition. The theme for the next book by Open to Interpretation is ‘Love + Lust’ with a new call for writing submissions open now until August 6, 2013. For more information on the competition or to order any of the books in the series, visit: http://www.open2interpretation.com.

Photo by Elizabeth Siegfried

Photo by Elizabeth Siegfried

Stew and Roses

Back at school I skipped two classes to smoke cigarette after cigarette in the girls’ room and waited to get caught, hoping for a suspension. I got community service instead: a whole Saturday helping you.

I stood in your kitchen with my arms crossed tight; stroking my nipples under the lace bra I got with the money snuck from Ma’s purse. Old as dirt and nearly blind, you didn’t notice. I asked what you had for me to do.

“Fetch the bag from that icebox,” you said, and when I handed it over, you cradled it in the crook of your arm before reaching inside and pulling out a squirrel, fur matted and one leg mangled. “You ever seen a fatter one?”

I tried not to hurl.

“Getting yourself in a fix ain’t hard,” you said, stroking that dead thing like a pet. “Now let’s see if you got enough smarts to skin this critter and make us some stew.”

I had nothing to prove, especially to you, but I took the knife and held my breath, pressing the blade clean through the fur and into the flesh. You got your stew all right—we ate it on chipped plates, sitting together beside three wilted roses in a glass—and I got something I didn’t see coming: a Saturday that tasted real, the way most things these days hardly ever do.

The story above is copyrighted with all rights reserved by Debka Colson.

The photo above, titled “At Ninety-Eight,” is copyrighted with all rights reserved by Elizabeth Siegfried. For more information about Elizabeth’s work, please see her website: www.elizabethsiegfried.com.


About HomenDunRoamin

Teaching Artist & Writer: fiction, poetry & nonfiction. Recently completed work: a hybrid memoir. In progress: a novel set in an unnamed Latin American country on the brink of war. The book examines violent and nonviolent resistance and the choices women are forced to make to survive.
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6 Responses to Fading Light

  1. Barbara says:

    Wow! Not sure how but in less than 250 words you created two very distinct characters tossed into a scene that feels wonderful, funny, and creepy all at once. It ended too soon!

  2. Jody and Ken says:

    Killer story! Just great! With an exquisite moment of reconciliation and revelation. Really lovely piece. Thanks. I have to say that as guy who takes a lot of pictures that my heart sank at the photo. My first thought was that it was an amateurish snap, unthinking taken it the least forgiving way. But the very harshness of it kept me going back to it. I felt as if the photographer, like life, had mistreated this woman. Great redemption in the story. Ken

    • Ken– Thank you so very much! I’m truly touched. Have you ever had squirrel stew? I was treated to it when I lived in the south.
      (For those of you who don’t know Jody and Ken, do check out their exquisite site on food and cooking: http://thegarumfactory.net– I HIGHLY recommend it!)

      • Jody and Ken says:

        I have not, although people in rural Michigan (where I grew up) were known to occasionally eat it. By the time my own culinary history had evolved to the point where I actively would have sought it out people were being discouraged from eating it. Jacob Kreutzfeld Syndome, the neurological disorder contracted by consumption of cattle infected with bovine spongiform encephalopathy (Mad Cow Disease) has now also been detected in people who’ve eaten squirrel and, if memory serves, possum, so I’m afraid it will have to refrain this lifetime. Ken

  3. Ken, I hope the signs of Mad Cow Disease show up by the time 30 years or so have passed. That’s how long ago I both cooked and ate squirrel stew and possum. Thanks for the warning– I too will now refrain for the rest of this lifetime. Debka

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