Category Archives: Short Story

New Short Story And A Lot of Vulnerability: “Stronger”

Wedding picture!

Before you read this post, please take a moment to read my short story on Coffee House Writers here.

Read it? Alright then. Let me take a deep breath. It’s time for me to get vulnerable with you. These emotions are weird and difficult for me.

This piece is fiction, but there are pieces of this story that are true. I left out parts. I toned it down. I changed names, places, and made up new people and circumstances. Hannah is fictional. My partner is my best friend, he would never abandon me, and is one of the most understanding human beings on this planet – don’t you dare think that this story is in any way about him. Time to clarify some things just in case.

What is based on truth is the public transportation incident that the main character experienced as well as other aspects of trauma. I’m unusual. There was never a time in my memory before vitiligo and for that I am grateful. I never experienced loss, though it has grown. When my parents first took me outside as an infant and I started to tan it was there. Family members talked. They knew it affected me, but when I heard the words “deformed” and “disfigured” I internalized it. Growing up in very remote areas of the United States, even today there are people that believe it is a mark of demonic possession or worse. Luckily, I have a loving amazing family.

The public transportation incident in the story is based on when I lived in San Francisco. In 2016, an elderly woman beat me with her cane during evening rush hour while yelling, “Leper,” and, “Stop Touching Me!” I was not touching her. No one said anything or stopped her, but they sure stared at me. I got out early and walked the rest of the way home. Try and imagine the terror of being beaten in public by an old woman in front of a crowded light rail train car in rush hour while no one said a word. You there yet? Cool.

I didn’t include every example of vitiligo changing what someone saw or how they acted toward me in the story. I have been refused service at restaurants because they didn’t want a “leper” touching their plates or tables (this happened in Niagara Falls, ON). Questions like “when were you in a fire?” or later, after years of working in laboratories, “were you in an accident?” are always a fun time. These are the examples that come to mind.

This has been my whole life. And I’m white. Imagine what it would be like for someone with darker skin than mine. Indeed, one review mentioned, “In a study of 53 [vitiligo] patients in India, major depressive disorder was reported in 57% of patients, social phobia in 68%, and suicidal ideation in 28% (high risk 8%; low risk 21%). These findings stress the need for psychological and/or psychiatric intervention (Ramakrishna and Rajni, 2014). Papadopoulos et al. (Papadopoulos et al., 1999) reported that counseling and cognitive behavioral therapy could improve self-esteem, body image, and overall QoL [Quality of Life] in patients with vitiligo.”

Now, let’s flip vitiligo to any other visible disfigurement or disability a child internalizes as being their fault because it impacts a child’s life significantly. It’s your turn to help a kid with a completely different life face that internalization and you’re thinking of becoming involved in foster care like I am. There are additional realities that you need to face. Over 35% of children in foster care have a parent with a substance abuse disorder and have been exposed to substances. Given the age range that my partner and I are looking to foster with intent to adopt, the reality is that our future foster children will likely have been exposed (directly or indirectly) to alcohol, methamphetamine, benzodiazepines and/or opioids at some point. They could have addictions of their own. One study suggests that kids that have been through foster care will develop substance abuse issues later in life if they don’t do so while in the foster care system. It’s complicated.

We’re not looking for a perfect child. We will love a child with an addiction – even if it was a choice of coping mechanism in the moment or however it started. We already love people with addictions. They aren’t broken and they can be successful if given the support they need.

Readers don’t like ugly stories and I get it. The world is ugly enough as it is. They don’t like thinking about the fact that therapeutic foster care homes are severely underfunded. But here’s the thing, foster care produces brilliant minds if given the chance, and, as a reminder, here’s a list of successful people that survived the American foster care system. Any names look familiar? Steve Jobs? Colin Kaepernick? I have met successful doctors, scientists, and lawyers that fought their way to where they are now through this underfunded system. I love people from this system and look forward to loving more of them.

Want to help make change? Donate your time as a mentor or become a foster parent. Respite care can be for anything from a couple hours to a couple days and helps kids in foster care and families within your community that may need temporary childcare. Mentoring involves spending time with a kid to provide them with a role model and someone to spend time with. Multiple organizations, such as the Boys and Girls Club and Big Brother Big Sister offer mentoring opportunities. CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) is a great way to support children going through the legal system – a terrifying process for kids. Before donating money, look to your local community first.

Anyways – this story is dedicated to an incredible young person named Olivia. There’s my soapbox. I’ll get back to writing my short stories and book reviews. These emotion things are weird.

New Short Story: The Disappearance of Lula Mae Darling

Image: Thomas Fields of Unspash https://unsplash.com/photos/CHmJOPQ77gU

Hey all! As many of you know, or if you haven’t guessed already based on my author bio, I’m from Middle of Nowhere Atlantic Coastal Region of the Southern United States. I’m married to a New Englander or ,”Yankee”. I grew up surrounded by unique stereotypes, and I love exploring the roles of stereotypes in American culture. If you like this kind of story, please let me know and I will write more like it.

Without saying anything more, I hope you enjoy my story “The Disappearance Of Lula Mae Darling” published today on Coffee House Writers!

Short Story Announcement – February 10, 2020

Image Source: Brooke Campbell Unspash

The first version of When A Demon Comes To Dine is live on Coffee House Writers. Head on over there to read it.

I mentioned on Twitter recently that I will be posting short stories biweekly with the goal of releasing a collection of short stories at the end of the current year (December 2020). The collection will include edited versions of these stories and other previously unreleased stories.

As a general content warning to my readers: in the next year you will see fictional stories addressing childhood trauma, mental health, suicide, body horror, LGBTQA issues, assault, medical horror, unhealthy relationship dynamics, death, dead bodies, loss of bodily autonomy at the hands of family members, and maybe I’ll find a happy ending somewhere in one of those. I’m not good at happy endings. I’m working on itpromise.

If you’re wondering, I have found 3 things I plan to change in this story before publishing in the collection. I’m curious what feedback others have.

I got published! And a note on trigger warnings.

I’m excited to share that After Alexei published my short story “l’appel du vide”.

I learned that though we all experience invasive thoughts that constantly sit in the back of our minds, sometimes reminders can be deeply affecting.

For that reason, I’m not sorry for writing it. This story came from me writing these thoughts down to manage them. It’s a fictional story where all of these images invade the narrator, too. In 2008, when the first draft was written, this was a way to manage these thoughts.

I am both sorry and thankful that …

… my readers have this shared experience to the extent that my story makes a connection.

… you’ve ever thought about these things to the extent that I have.

…this exposed the wounds we share and made you feel vulnerable enough to talk to someone about it.

I’m thankful that my friend is getting help. I am here for anyone that wants to talk if this story brings up anything difficult or uncomfortable. Email me lopotterwrites@gmail.com or contact me through twitter @dreaminventor

I have learned 2 lessons from this:

1. Writing has the ability to force people to examine their own experiences. This is sometimes very painful.

2. Not everyone is ready for that. It’s okay to need a warning about graphic content regarding suicide, or suicidal ideation.

I love every single person that reads this story. You are a beautiful part of my life. I honor you and your struggles. If you are currently suicidal or feel that you may be at risk, please do not read this story. If this story brings up any difficult feelings, 24/7 help is available via these hotlines:

Argentina: +5402234930430

Australia: 131114

Austria: 142; for children and young people, 147

Belgium: 106

Bosnia & Herzegovina: 080 05 03 05

Botswana: 3911270

Brazil: 188 for the CVV National Association

Canada: 1.833.456.4566, 5147234000 (Montreal); 18662773553 (outside Montreal)

Croatia: 014833888

Denmark: +4570201201

Egypt: 7621602

Estonia: 3726558088; in Russian 3726555688

Finland: 010 195 202

France: 0145394000

Germany: 08001810771

Holland: 09000767

Hong Kong: +852 2382 0000

Hungary: 116123

India: 8888817666

Ireland: +4408457909090

Italy: 800860022

Japan: +810352869090

Mexico: 5255102550

New Zealand: 0800543354

Norway: +4781533300

Philippines: 028969191

Poland: 5270000

Portugal: 21 854 07 40/8 . 96 898 21 50

Russia: 0078202577577

Spain: 914590050

South Africa: 0514445691

Sweden: 46317112400

Switzerland: 143

United Kingdom: 08457909090

USA: 18002738255

Veterans’ Crisis Line: 1 800 273 8255/ text 838255

With that, here’s the actual link to my story:

l’appel du vide