Nightmare Magazine



Creative Nonfiction


Still Breathing

It’s difficult to make sense of death. Intellectually we understand it, but emotionally there is uncertainty and fear and grief and anger. This essay was an attempt to process those feelingsSince writing this essay, we lost two more cats, one to old age, the other to lymphoma. Both were euthanized because that’s how you show mercy to animals in pain. One of them suffered an allergic reaction to the sedative and in his final moments he was dizzy and vomiting, yet the other nestled in his cat bed and drifted off. Two more deaths, two more dead who continue breathing.



I spent years thinking of writing this down, but I postponed it because I didn’t want to add another “creepy kid” story to the world—sometimes, kids are just sad and lonely and making them feel creepy for the sake of horror feels cheap. But this happened when I was also the creepy child to someone else’s story, maybe even to this creepy child herself, so maybe it’s worth telling, after all.


Homeless Ghosts

Growing up in Alabama, our teachers presented a version of the state’s history that resembled Disney’s The Song of the South. It was easy enough to realize that we were being lied to, but without the facts of history we were left to fill in the gaps. We colored in the local haunted house with our own fables and the fables passed down from older siblings. In so doing, we reproduced in symbol if not in word the truths of hoped-for horrors, poisonous wealth, and unimaginable agony.


Forensic Analysis of a Body, Still Warm

I’d classify a lot of personal writing about extreme hardship as either “trauma porn”—stories meant to titillate readers with gory details—or Hero’s Journeys from survival to thriving. Both stories serve an important purpose—the first to shock comfortable people out of complacency, the second to provide the suffering with hope—but I started writing the collection this […]


Let Me Be Clear

I saw Nightmare’s call for creative nonfiction very close to the time that I saw a tweet (from @shiraisinspired), reshared by someone I followed, describing obsessive-compulsive disorder in a way I recognized, in a way that made me feel seen, made me feel not alone. And I’ve often embraced open communication as a form of exorcism, so I thought writing openly about my experience and how ultimately nightmarish it has sometimes been, would be healthy.


Step on a Crack

As sometimes happen, this essay started with a snippet, a small memory of walking back to my second or third or fourth grade classroom singing that old song about stepping on cracks. How some of us avoided them, already instilled with superstition, and how some, to tempt the gods or fate, did not. I had also been thinking about our collective American nightmare of school shootings, how even with all the awfulness of growing up in the ’80s, we never dreamed what we would face as adults.