Archived Anticipation

Episodic audio stories, podcasts, are a relatively novel storytelling medium directly a product of the streaming culture of the late 2010s and beyond. Yet oral storytelling is not new and is where all other storytelling comes from. From the first time a neanderthal communicated something they had learned or experienced, humans have translated stories through the voice.

The Magnus Archives is a podcast produced by the Rusty Quill studio, an upstart individual production company based in the UK working with Acast, and it is their most successful title. It is a horror story centering around a fictitious institution in London that catalogs and researches paranormal reports throughout England. It debuted in 2016 and has since gone on to be nominated for Best Arts Podcast from The People’s Choice Podcast Awards, and winning 5 Audio Verse Awards (Writing of an Audio Play Production, Vocal Direction of a Production, Performance of a Supporting Role in an Audio Play Production, Performance of a Leading Role in an Audio Play Production, Audio Play Production), and winner of the Best Audio Drama or Fiction Podcast from the 2019 Discover Pods Awards.

Without giving away spoilers for those who haven’t heard of it, or who are behind on their listening, or who have yet to start, I’ll share my impressions and experience thus far.

Continue reading “Archived Anticipation”


I remember our first family computer as a mauve, clunky, fascinating piece of machinery with a pixilated Windows logo on the screen. And on the other side of that screen was a world of opportunity limited only by imagination.

My father would show me this world, a world he learned the language of by teaching it how to play games as simple as Pong or as complex as Tomb Raider.

Then, my mother showed me the worlds hidden behind words and song. In particular, she showed me Bible verses and hymns jumping off the printed papers.

“Can I borrow this?” I asked her, holding out the pamphlet of the day’s planned sermons and songs, tucked in the pew.

“Borrow it? What for?”

“I want to copy these,” I said, and set it on the computer desk at home with the large, mechanical keys under my fingers.

“Okay, but you have to bring it back.”

Continue reading “Type”

Class of 2020

When I graduated from high school, my mother, father, and middle school aged brother and sister sat in the bleachers and cheered. They got pictures, clapped when the principal announced my name, and hugged me after the ceremony was over.

When my brother graduated from high school, I travelled from 1,500 miles away to sit in those same bleachers. I saw what he watched years before, seeing a parade of red caps against the football field floodlights, the sticky heat settling on the metal, and I cheered when they called his name, too.

This year, my sister graduated high school and got her high school diploma in the mail. She watched the livestream of a small ceremony from somewhere else in town. She didn’t even have to get out of her pajamas.

Only a few months later, I completed my bachelor of fine arts degree.

The death toll continued to rise, with friends and family growing ill, or losing loved ones. People all over the country bicker about the right way to handle the crisis of a virus that threatens everyone without prejudice.

So, my graduation is celebrated in the extra room that serves as my study in our trailer home. I have with me my water and coffee, and a microwaved breakfast bowl.

No trips to pampered rooms and stadiums. No hugs from my parents. No siblings looking on.

The experience is the same for the other 21 people in my graduating class and countless more across the country. A stream on phone and laptop screens and a list of names in homes from coast to coast. Snapchat videos and emoji-laden text messages commemorate the event, but no hats go up. No tassels turn. No one dances across the stage.

Yet, am I any less a graduate? Have I done less to earn my GPA, my BFA? Am I a disappointment to my family for a lack of fanfare? Is there less fairness in the world because I couldn’t roll my chair across the stage to take a slip of paper that will come in the mail instead?

In my own mind, perhaps. But the smooth paper of the degree between my fingers is real. The shiny ink reads my name. I will not be undone when I remember that I am done.

She, We, Her, Me

She lit the entire room like a sun with all its warmth, and the same gravitational pull. She brought the rain, the wind, the life to my world. All it took were a few words.

“I’m writing, too.”

Before I knew it, the characters we had in our heads were playing together. We made new ones to fit in each other’s worlds and we passed stories back and forth. We drew each other; we drew our characters; we shared secrets and gossip through notes and doodles.

Then I heard her sing, as I tried desperately to sing along so that some of her rays might shine on me, too.

Continue reading “She, We, Her, Me”

No Peace

Being in a mass shooting event is one of my greatest fears. Saying that, most normal people don’t hope to be targeted by a shooter or claim to thrive in that situation.

What I mean is that when I worked in a grocery store alongside my girlfriend, we had a plan for what we would do if someone came in with a gun. How we would have to rely on our own abilities to get out and get help.

What I mean is that I paid extra for groceries to be delivered to my car so I wouldn’t have to go inside.

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How I Met Her

“Do you know the gay girl that works in Hy-Vee?”

My coworker, Kerrie, asks me this late in our graveyard shift. Eleven hours left. I’ve barely been awake long enough to give her a proper answer.

“Not all gay people know each other,” I reply, half snark, half patience.

Kerrie shrugs but still eyes me knowingly. “Well, she’s really cute. She has an elephant chest tattoo that she was telling me about. She wants a pride tattoo, that’s how I found out she was gay. You should talk to her.”

I laugh, a little. “Yeah, maybe. We’ll see.”

Continue reading “How I Met Her”

Test Cat

In 2011, Osama Bin Laden was killed, HBO debuted “Game of Thrones,” Japan was hit with a massive tsunami, Meryl Streep won an Oscar, and the world population reached 7 billion.

It was also the year I graduated high school and got my first job as a sales representative for Cutco Cutlery, a subdivision of Vector Inc. With my case of display products in hand, I knocked on doors and demonstrated high-end kitchen knives in living rooms all over town.

When I took the job, I was eager to see where the possibilities would take me. There was potential for growth! But after a month of only knowing people who couldn’t afford the product and my father’s constant urges to drop the gig, my outlook was bleak.

Still, I persisted. My dad had given me a phone number of one co-worker, David, who happened to have a son that I graduated with, and we’d set up a meeting for me to pitch the knives to him.

We met in the early evening. I pulled up my hand-me-down Buick on the curb outside of the suburban single-story under a pink Florida sky. I knocked and a man in his forties with short, salt-and-pepper hair and a symmetrical smile greeted me. I introduced myself on his front step and he welcomed me inside, out of the humid heat.

The home was small and simple, little touches of personality inviting. Next to the kitchen was a shelf set shaped like a coffin, painted black and lime green, with horror movie props of varying authenticity that David showed off to me.

As we admired the pieces, a ball of black and blonde fluff on four legs barrelled down the hall and collided with my leg, bounced back, and hissed at me. A quiet burst of air. I laughed and watched her scamper away with fuzzy tail raised high.

“Sorry about that,” said David, “That’s my ex-wife’s cat. She left her with me. I’ve been calling her T.C.”

T.C.?” I repeated, confused.

“Test Cat. Don’t know if I’ll keep her.”

“Well, I hope you do,” I said. “She looks like she needs a home.”

We sat on the living room floor with the contents of my display spread between us. I showed off kitchen knives with long, elegant handles that cut through the demonstration rope, scissors with hand-fit grips sliced through a shiny penny, and Test Cat shot herself from one end of the living room to the other. She pounced on the rope, played with the zipper on my bag, pawed sheets of paper, and dove into her cube cloth toy. Typical kitten antics. It threw me off of my script on occasion, but only because I was laughing at her.

When the demonstration was over, David agreed to purchase a pair of scissors and a multi-purpose knife. We moved into the kitchen to grab a pen and fill out forms, collecting payment information, copying numbers in the proper order, and Test Cat followed us with a curious eye and another little hiss.

“Do you want her?” David asked.


Of course I did. I want all the cats. Especially a cute little puff-ball full of energy. But I was living with my dad and the family cat, notoriously grumpy and territorial. I couldn’t take a kitten right now.

“Let me ask,” I told him, then left with my case and the order form in the passenger seat. I drove home with the memories fresh, and anxiety equally so.

Surprisingly, my dad accepted the offer for T.C., potentially just to satisfy his co-worker and help him, but regardless of motive I was elated.

A week later, while David’s order was on its way to him, I showed up again with a cat-carrier in place of my display knives. We packed up T.C., without much of a fuss, and I brought her to her new home.

T.C. as a name never settled right with me, though, not the way T.C. easily settled into the new place. She was in my lap, she was on the couch, she darted back and forth through the living room day after day, she tried to get the older cat, Scarlett, to play with her. We all loved her instantly. Dad called her ugly, only because he didn’t want to admit that he liked her. I knew that.

I posted a picture of her on Facebook, hoping for name suggestions, but nothing unique came to mind. Nothing that fit her.

It wasn’t until one day my family and I decided to check out the new shop that had opened in town: off-brand Build-A-Bear, essentially, one of our favorite childhood places. I didn’t get anything, not desiring to spend the small amount of money that I had on something that I didn’t need, and instead enjoyed going along with my pre-teen siblings as they indulged.

My brother selected a shark to stuff, filled with fluff and snuggly soft, and was sampling from the buffet of sound-bites available. We went through roars and bubble sounds, “I-love-you”s and “twinkle-twinkle-little-star”s, until we discovered a recording that had us all in stitches — a kitten-ly “meow.”

It struck me, then. The perfect name for my new kitten was Shark! Her carrier could be the shark tank, when she played and bit down on you it was a shark attack. And the name “Shark” gave rise to many cute-sy words and nicknames to give her.

Ever since, Shark has been Shark, and I think she loves her name. She snuggles me, she sleeps by me, and she spends her time near me. When I am gone for long periods of time, she sleeps in my place in bed or outside my door. I think she is grateful for a lovingly chosen name, as she was lovingly chosen to be my companion.

I didn’t know, when I walked into David’s home, that I would find my best friend there. How could I have? But, even though the job with Cutco didn’t work out, I feel that it gave me more than I could have ever expected. It gave me Shark, and that is something priceless.

Road Trip

Headlights paint the strip of road stretching endlessly before and behind the red chevy. I pull my hand across my heavy eyes. Don’t look at the clock. It’s not been as long as you think. A pained glance at the digital dashboard. 3:42 am.

1,000 miles from home.

500 to get home.

My travelling companions slumber in the back seats, one with tail and paws curled atop a suitcase, the other propped with a pillow against the passenger side door.

With the advent of cruise control, there’s one less thing to occupy my mind while scanning the vestiges of highway all grass and weeds and shadow. So I think of home.

Once, home was where we’re going. With family, old friends, memories both pleasant and unpleasant. We lived in the homes, apartments, on the couches of our loved ones. We suffered and we shone, we hurt and we loved. Isn’t that what makes a home? The place you belonged enough to feel everything, with everyone you knew? Is home where you grow from the roots of others?

Or, is home where you strike out? In search for belonging, do we find home where we plant ourselves among tepid topsoil and brutal independence? I thought that might make my home, where we departed from. A place I could craft myself and truly be who I wanted. Should home not be amongst our things and newfound pride?

But, where we are going is too dark and inhospitable. Where we left, we are too stifled.

A nudge at my elbow from a fluffy, soft head. “Mrrm?” She mews.

My hand gratefully releases the steering wheel to caress the cat. Her round eyes reflect light from the darkness and her whiskers tickle my skin. She slinks into my lap for a moment before disappearing under my legs to rest at the base of my seat.

We’ll only let her walk around for a little while, we’d agreed. It’s not the safest, but I feel bad leaving her cooped up the whole trip. Now she basically has the run of the place.

As far as she knows, this is her home now. The room she stays in at my mother’s house will be home until we make the drive back. She is home wherever she is.

I look in the rearview mirror not to see the emptiness behind, but the shadowed form of blankets and girl sprawled along the backseat. There, we have the essentials we packed and some comforts to keep our spirits up. Is that enough to call this a home, the kind away from any other home? It’s not ideal, but in a pinch can this be home enough?

In the back, my girlfriend stirs in a dream. On the floorboards, my cat purrs. Between their love, their loyalty, and the optimism they instill in me, have I found home in a feeling?

Perhaps home is none of the things I know. Home is the intangible parts of it all; of the experience in roaming and in settling, the confidence and pride it takes to love oneself, to love others and be loved in turn, the core comforts of breathing air and staying warm, and the family you make for yourself.

When I stopped searching for home, home found me.


The Xbox controller sits comfortably in my hands. I am snuggled into the corner of the couch where the armrest meets the backrest of our new-pre-owned couch, blue with small white dots that doesn’t smell like us quite yet, legs mostly tucked under me. I’ve got my glass of ice water and my girlfriend has brought home some Gobstopper candies in a bag on the coffee table.

The lights are on. It’s late at night.

I am a little purple dragon, and my fire breath has just bested Gnasty Gnorc. The anticipated battle is over quickly. I am proud. Overall, 89% of the game is complete. There are challenge levels I could return to for more treasure, but there’s something else I want to do.

“This one’s my favorite,” I say to my girlfriend, beside me on the couch in her colorful elephant patterned pajamas. My feet stick out from how I’m sitting, pressed against her hip.

“We never had this one,” she replies. She hugs her knees to her chest. “I’ve never even played the original version.”

“I’m going to 100% this one,” I tell her. I’m confident. I’m excited. I want to experience every bit of this game, again.

With a magical sound, bwing, the game opens.


proclaims the television screen. The letters sway and sparkle.

I’m the purple dragon again, sucked into adventure with fairies and fauns and green orbs that have stuck through my memory for a decade. And now they are beautiful.

The grass moves under and around me, the gems sparkle like new, and the sky is detailed with stars and streaks of color that could have never been there before. The characters have polished faces instead of exaggerated, caricature gestures with their block bodies.

I’m not a purple dragon. I’m a little girl who wears a cotton nightgown with lace around the hem and beaded socks on my feet. I have my favorite plush toys with me, I’m wrapped in blankets. Daylight filters through slatted blinds.

I’m smiling. My dad is with me, showing me how to use a Playstation controller and what will happen when I load a game. These are my favorite characters, I dream about playing with them in person. The music, lively with a bouncy beat, fills my blood. I hand my dad the controller during the hard parts.

I’m tearful. My girlfriend strokes my hair and coos over me. The colorful world swallows me within a few steps, envelopes me in the dialogue I didn’t know I still had memorized. It welcomes me back to a place so similar, wearing a new coat of paint.

I see myself then, and I see myself now. I’m different. I’m the same. There is a piece of my past that I hadn’t expected to find, here. I started out secure. I put down the game, outgrew it, and time made me insecure. Vulnerable. Broken. Healing. I pick up the game, and I see a full circle. I come back secure.

The outsides changed: my controller, my company, the graphics. It took time to grow. The insides are still the same: I am.