“The Split” in Masters Review

In 2011 I moved to Eugene, Oregon, where I was alternately and sometimes simultaneously very happy and very sad. In Oregon I learned independence and grew into myself as a writer and as a person, but I missed my family in Texas terribly.

In 2012 I wrote a story and used my experiences. “The Split” is about a woman who, upon moving to Oregon with her girlfriend, discovers that she has literally split in half, leaving part of herself at her childhood home.

Today that story appears in one of my favorite magazines, The Masters Review. It took four years to find the perfect home; I think there’s a lesson in there about persistence and the subjectivity of editorial taste, maybe something about creativity as emotional outlet. But also, there’s just a story: https://mastersreview.com/new-voices/the-split-by-bonnie-jo-stufflebeam/

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“Everything Beneath You” — Beneath Ceaseless Skies (January 2015)

My short story “Everything Beneath You” appeared in Beneath Ceaseless Skies in January 2015.

beneath-ceaseless-skiesFirst line: You don’t know me, but I changed the world.

Inspiration: In the late winter of 2014 I was having a rough time with depression. I wasn’t feeling excited about anything I wrote, and that combined with a break in therapy and the lack of sunlight brought on the worst funk I’ve experienced. Fed up with feeling awful, I decided that I needed to force myself to grab hold of any opportunities that presented themselves. When my sister asked me if I wanted to go with her to a local Lantern Festival, I said yes even though it felt like the last thing I wanted to do.

Each lantern display at the festival had a plaque. Most described Chinese myths. The myth that stood out the most to me was about seven fairy sisters. Having to keep up with my nephews, I took a picture of the plaque to read again later and moved on. I stood on a lantern boat shaped like a dragon. It cost money to board the stationary boat, and my partner only had enough for one of us. As I stood there looking at the water, I told myself I’d turn it into a story, partly as a thank-you to him for letting me have the experience over him and partly because I had to do something, anything, to lift my spirits.

The beauty of the festival–the bright lights, brisk air, and the presence of family–brought me out of my depression just enough to allow me to start the story. I wrote about a woman who felt confined to a body and a world that constricted her. I wrote about a woman with grand ambition; she wants a ship of her own, a body that she can alter as she pleases, love. Once I finished, I felt invigorated. Though the depression hadn’t completely gone, I was inspired to keep working. I pledged to write a novel within the year. I did. And when Beneath Ceaseless Skies took the story, I completed another goal: publication in one of my favorite magazines.

Read it for free: http://www.beneath-ceaseless-skies.com/stories/everything-beneath-you/

Art: Whisper by Jennifer Stufflebeam

“The Land of Phantom Limbs” — Flash Fiction Online (January 2014)

My story “The Land of Phantom Limbs” appeared on Flash Fiction Online in January of 2014.

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First line: “After the grenade went off under him, they had no choice but to cut off Jon’s arm.”

Inspiration: In high school I read Johnny Got His Gun. The frantic pace of the narrative moved me to tears, especially in one particular chapter, where Joe remembers his girlfriend, Kareen, and thinks in increasing desperation that he will no longer be able to hold her:

“Joe dear darling Joe hold me closer. Drop your bag and put both of your arms around me and hold me tightly. Put both of your arms around me. Both of them.”
You in both of my arms Kareen goodbye. Both of my arms. Kareen in my arms. Both of them.
Arms arms arms arms. I’m fainting in and out all the time Kareen and I’m not catching on quick.
You are in my arms Kareen. You in both of my arms. Both of my arms. Both of them. Both
I haven’t got any arms Kareen.
My arms are gone.
Both of my arms are gone Kareen both of them.
They’re gone.
Kareen Kareen Kareen.
They’ve cut my arms off both of my arms.
Oh Jesus mother god Kareen they’ve cut off both of them.
Oh Jesus mother god Kareen Karee Kareen my arms.

-Dalton Trumbo’s Johnny Got His Gun

I wanted to write a tribute to this scene, which I often return to. But I also wanted to give my character the happy ending I wish Trumbo’s Joe could have had.

Read for free: http://flashfictiononline.com/main/article/the-land-of-phantom-limbs/

Illustration by Richard Ware; he takes commissions at richw.ware@yahoo.com.