Creative Nonfiction

Writing the stuff that hurts

Photo by James Peacock on Unsplash

I have an essay that went live this week. I wrote it months ago and I’m happy that it’s found a good home. It’s a very personal piece that was a sucker-punch to write and, if not for my critique group, would have ended up yet another discarded half-finished thought in a drawer.

I read that piece last night and cried. Not just a little whimper but a good long lament with lots of tears and noise. Then I thought, What have I done? I already know this story. If it makes me weep, why…

Creative Nonfiction

After all these years

Photo by EV Collins

When my son was three years old, he told me a story. He described being in utero. Swimming, his hair floating in the waves. The whooshing sound like a heartbeat, like his drum. A feeling like when the cat makes bread on his chest and purrs. He said there was a bright light and a man wearing a mask and he was very cold. I wrote the whole story down, as close to verbatim as I could, in his baby book

A year later, as we sat looking through the book, I asked him about it. A vacant stare, the…


A story of loving two men

Great Blue Heron Fledglings- Photo by E.V. Collins

It wasn’t love at first sight or anything so profound. Instead, it was a gradual process of getting to know one another. Nigel was a biologist. He’d written his doctoral dissertation on the milkweed bug. I learned many interesting facts from Nigel. When I complained about the critters that were feasting on my milkweed, he explained in great detail the non-sex life of the Oleander aphid. They give birth to themselves, or rather clones of themselves without actually having aphid intercourse.

I found all of this fascinating. My husband, Hugh, did not. Bugs were of no interest to him except…


That’s a Tomato Plant, Sweetie

Photo by manish panghal on Unsplash

I was proud of that “Dare to Say No” T-shirt that mom picked up at the JS (that’s what we called any of the myriad of thrift shops where we bought all our clothes except for shoes and underwear (it’s short for Junk Store).

An impressionable, eager to please kid, I wore that anti-drug campaign slogan with pride. …


How my phone became my BFF

Photo by Rahul Chakraborty on Unsplash

We had a black rotary phone on a small end table in the living room. If I picked it up very carefully and held my breath, I might be lucky and our neighbors, our party-line, wouldn’t know I was listening in. I’d hold my hand tightly over the mouthpiece, but most of the time they’d detect my presence.

Somebody’s listening in. Hang up that damn phone right now,” they’d demand.

Their kids did the same when we were on the phone though. It was one of our first hobbies. …


What’s changed in a year?

Photo by Vera Davidova on Unsplash

As a home care nurse in Baltimore, I learned years ago how to get in and out of a house without touching any surface with my bare hands. My first AIDS patient had open sacral wounds and explosive diarrhea. I was nervous, so I called my supervisor for a reassuring pep talk.

“Are you planning to have sex with him?”, she asked.

I assured her that hadn’t entered my mind, or his.

“Well, are you going to share a needle with him?”

I hoped not.

“Get over yourself then and go see him. Just wash your hands.”

I’ve been stuck…


To make up my mind

Photo by Eugene Neviarouski on Unsplash

Phyllis had always had a difficult time making up her mind. Her mother never gave her much chance to practice, and so that particular skill just never fully developed.

Regular or decaf? Chocolate or vanilla? The white socks or the blue ones? Simple choices people make hundreds of times every day were burdensome to Phyllis. It wasn’t for lack of intelligence. It just took more time and energy than Phyllis had to spare. That waste of time was what made her nervous.

She’d managed to graduate from community college, having majored in something called “General Studies,” taking classes recommended for…

Eileen Vorbach Collins

Baltimore native battling fire ants in Florida. Award winning essayist. Pushcart nominee. Writes because it’s cheaper than therapy.

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