Hugs, kisses, and death-stares

Leslie Armstrong
Arts Editor

When I saw my best friend cry for the first time in third grade, I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t know where to put my hands.

Instead of putting my arms around her like any normal girl friend would, I handed her the other half of my tuna fish and celery sandwich. Not because tuna fish is the cure for melancholy, but because that’s what I had to offer.

I’m fascinated with what people have to offer their loved ones, especially when it’s unsuspecting and seemingly cold-hearted. Some people feel like they’re lying to themselves when they are forced to write out a gushy birthday wish to a friend when they’d rather just bruise them with birthday beats. Sometimes, a friend will draw dicks and write curses all over your forearms with a black felt marker. Everyone shows affection in different ways.

When I asked my creative writers to explore a word like “affection,” I wanted them to be able to push the boundaries
of my theme, and they did. Kezia-Danielle Weerasooriya’s childhood memoir is about the love that’s left over even after we screw up and knock out a few teeth. Damian Mangat’s “The Professor” shows the healing process of a tactless schoolgirl who doesn’t know how to contain her affection. Affection for inanimate objects even comes into play, like in Jack Hostrawser’s short story “Stacy’s Song” and Shayna List’s poem “In My Restaurant.”

Lingering on a word like “affection” unlocks the nuances locked in the umbrella term of “love.” If I’d asked for love poems, I’d probably be riding on the coattails of the Love & Sex supplement. Instead, I wanted to move away from the theme of “love,” which bears an inevitable association with romance, and move toward the tangible ways that people show their love—whether platonic or romantic—for people, animals, vehicles, and so on.

I have my own stories about affection that range from charming to awkward to freaky. But the reason I decided to organize this creative writing supplement is because I wanted to hear other people’s stories in vivid detail. People shouldn’t feel guilty and alien because they don’t know how to do a simple thing like hug a friend when they’re sad. In everyday life, there isn’t a place where we can talk about the nuances of affection. Through short stories, narratives, and poetry, I wanted to celebrate those peculiarities.

I also wanted a good reason to buy a brand-spanking-new pack of crayons.

About the Author

By Excalibur Publications



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