Vol. 1 / Issue 1
Une revue littéraire et culturelle bilingue
Vol. 1 / Issue 3
Locked Together, Locked Apart: Just Beyond My Reach
by Anna Stolley Persky
In the first few years after my mother’s death, I had a recurring dream about her: I was in a strange house, running through empty rooms and screaming for her.
Each time, I discovered the same locked room, and I knew she was inside, either refusing or unable to open the door for me. I banged on the door. She never answered. I kicked at the door, but it stood solid. I collapsed, knowing she was on the other side, and I would never see her again.
It’s been five years since my mother died. I have three children, just like she did. A writer, I work in the living room, in the center of the house, where there are no doors or locks. My teenage children interrupt me with questions about dinner or homework, and I’m relieved by the simplicity of most of their concerns. They appear age-appropriately focused on their own needs.
I like to think that I haven’t encumbered my children in the same ways my mother encumbered me. I hope they don’t feel responsible for my happiness.
I was an accident, or, as my father said in a moment of clarity, a “mistake.” I didn’t learn this until I was an adult, although I suspected something ever since I was little. While my older brother and sister had elaborately detailed baby books, mine was only half-filled, abandoned mid-sentence.
My being a mistake is just one of a number of family secrets I discovered as an adult.
Even now, as I go through the last of the boxes from my parents’ condominium, there’s still more to learn. I hunt through my parents’ letters to each other, buried inside file folders my mother kept for decades, organized, perhaps deliberately mislabeled.
I wonder if my mother realized I would go through every piece of paper she left behind.
My mother’s paternal grandfather, Aaron Goldenberg, was a poor Jewish immigrant from Moldovia or Romania, depending upon the person telling the story. In the early part of the 20th Century, my great-grandfather somehow started a shoe store: “Goldenberg’s.” My grandfather expanded Goldenberg’s into a chain of retail stores for thrifty shoppers. The stores, gone for decades, have been enshrined in Baltimore lore, written into novels by some of my favorite authors.
It was expected that every family member, including my mother and her three younger siblings, would work at Goldenberg’s, measuring feet and ringing up sales.
They were what I call half-assimilated. The older generation spoke Yiddish, but my mother didn’t. They celebrated Christmas with presents and a dinner of brisket and kugel. My mother was supposed to go to college just like an American kid, then get married to a Jewish man. She was expected to want to have children.
My mother’s friends from high school have described her as neither particularly happy nor sad, but perhaps, a little dramatic sometimes.
Here's what I don’t know: Was she already hiding parts of herself from the world?
My mother graduated high school in the 1950’s. She applied to be in Wharton Business School’s first undergraduate class allowing women, but my grandfather insisted she go to Smith College, an all-women’s school. He said, according to my mother, that a woman didn’t need to go to business school.
My mother met my father, a scholarship student at Lafayette College in Easton, Pennsylvania. Over the years, I was told conflicting stories about why my maternal grandparents opposed their marriage. In one version, it was because my paternal grandparents were members of the American Communist Party. In another version, it was because his family was poor. In another, it was because my father’s parents were New Yorkers and intellectual snobs. In yet another, it was because my father wanted to go into medicine and not business. But perhaps my grandparents didn’t approve of their marriage because they saw something in my father, a kernel of truth: He wasn’t going to make her happy.
She married him anyway. Sometimes I think it was her only big act of rebellion. Sometimes I think she was truly in love with him. She was 21 years old.
Over the years, my father’s work brought our family from New York to Wisconsin to Georgia to Maryland to Pennsylvania and then to Maryland again. He became one of the preeminent epidemiologists of my parents’ generation.
My mother’s life, our lives, centered around my father. Every time we moved, my mother decorated the new home. She liked, she told me, the possibilities that accompanied a freshly-painted house. Before my parents had children, she worked as a librarian, but then, while we were young, she paused her career.
My parents’ first child, my brother, almost died at birth. My mother rarely talked to me about that time period – her fear, her inability to nurse her son. I learned about the complexities of my brother’s early months, the fragility of his life, from my grandmother, my mother’s mother, who came to visit my parents after my brother’s birth and stayed for months to help.
My sister was born two years later. My father said he didn’t want to have any more children. My mother agreed.
My mother was multi-talented. Besides having a mind for business and a love of books, she excelled at photography, sewing, ceramics, and painting. When she wanted to learn something, she did. She fixed the plumbing, made paper, and refurbished furniture. She was also a skilled writer and editor. I suspect that my mother heavily edited most of my father’s research papers and books.
“I’m a glass-half-full person,” my mother said to me repeatedly over the years. “An optimist.” That was part of her façade. I think she believed it of herself. She wanted so badly to see herself that way, a gutsy heroine, like in her favorite movies and books, a modern Jewish Jo, her favorite character in Little Women.
I was born five years after my sister.
The first house I remember was in the Baltimore suburbs. It was filled with toys, books, and cats.
One of my earliest memories is that our house was on fire. I remember standing outside. It was night, the street lit by lampposts. My legs were cold. My mother ran back into the house through fire to get me a pair of stockings. We could hear the sirens approaching, and I watched the back of my mother’s blue-and-white nightgown as it disappeared through the doorway.
It is intractable, this memory, a video clip that plays in my head when I want proof of my mother’s selfless love for me. But our house was never on fire. A house two blocks away burned down, and a child, my babysitter’s little brother, died that night.
My mother never risked her life for me.
In Baltimore, we had a kiln in our garage and a studio with a pottery wheel in our basement. I spent hours watching my mother create people, bowls, seemingly entire worlds out of lumps of clay.
I helped my mother sell her pottery at craft fairs. I wanted her to need me like I needed her.
I was an early reader. At night, I would bring my books into my parents’ bed. My mother and I would read next to each other, arms touching, and I would think that this was all I needed to be happy. It didn’t occur to me that she didn’t feel the same way.
It was probably around this time that my sister told me, repeatedly, that I was adopted, even though I looked like a paler stick figure version of my voluptuous mother. It was actually my sister, with her olive skin and black hair, who looked like the outsider.
When we visited my mother’s parents, my mother told my brother and father to look presentable. My mother, sister, and I wore matching dresses, with matching stockings and shoes. My sister pouted over being stuffed into a dress, while I held my mother’s hand, assured that, at least at that moment, I was the favorite daughter, probably the favorite child.
One of my mother’s artistic works hung briefly in the Baltimore Museum of Art as part of a folk art exhibit. It has had different names over the years. Sometimes my mother said it was about the individual in a conformist society. Sometimes it was the creative person in a non-creative culture. Another time my mother called it simply “The Social Security Office.”
The piece is a mixed media installation, about the length of a coffee table. The base is a letterpress printer’s drawer, hung vertically. The sections once used to store letter stamps, and now houseed more than one hundred clay figures, all turned towards the left, like they are all walking in the same direction. In the center, there’s a single figure facing forward, a person with no eyes, but an open mouth, hands covering where the ears would be if the person had ears.
My sister says the piece is ugly, but it hangs in my front hallway. It is the first thing anyone sees when they open the door to my house. Some days, I say, “Hi Mom” to the silently screaming clay figure staring back at me.
In 1976, when I was seven years old, we moved to a six-bedroom Colonial in the Philadelphia suburbs. My mother obsessed over the history of our new house. She showed me the remnants of a second staircase that once led to the servants’ quarters. We went to the local historical society where we traced the beginnings of our home, how it started as a spring house, a single room constructed over a buried stream.
We wondered how many people lived in the house as it expanded. We talked about whether the families were happy or sad. My mother imagined large close-knit families where everybody knew each other’s business, like in Cheaper by the Dozen.
My mother drove me to acting classes and sometimes we found a song we both liked on the radio and sang together. She couldn’t carry a tune, but I loved her voice anyway. She told me I should be a writer or an actress. She also told me I wasn’t all that smart, that I shouldn’t bother trying to keep up with my sister, “the genius.”
My mother was a mediocre cook, but a good storyteller. I sat at a stool in the kitchen while she made dinner, begging her for more stories.
My mother talked dreamily about being a “Smithie” with dorm mothers and cozy breakfasts. She never mentioned the “what ifs.” What if she’d gone to Wharton, as she originally intended? What if she hadn’t married my father?
As for my father, my mother’s favorite story was this: She met him on vacation during college, on a ship bound for Europe. They rode mopeds in Italy, her holding him tightly around his waist, closing her eyes so she couldn’t see the danger around each corner.
My mother believed in being Jewish, although she was vague about her relationship with God. She brought us to synagogue on important holidays and insisted I go to Hebrew School.
My father, while technically Jewish by background, was either agnostic or atheist, depending upon his mood. He had, after all, been raised by communists. He never wanted to pay for Hebrew School or other “indoctrination,” like Jewish summer camp or my Bat Mitzvah.
I learned early on that one way to please my mother, but risk annoying my father, was to talk about how connected I felt to Judaism or show them how I could read and write (barely) Hebrew.
There was no kiln in our house in Philadelphia, so my mother switched from ceramics to sewing and quilting patchwork vests. She started working again as a librarian.
My parents seemed to always be in different rooms from each other. My father put a lock on one of the drawers in his desk. My mother kept a locked file cabinet in their bedroom. My sister put a tiny padlock on her bedroom closet so I couldn’t take her clothes.
I wore a key on a string around my neck, but it only opened the front door.
After school, I let myself into the house and then wandered the empty rooms, waiting for my mother and the rest of my family to come home.
I felt like something was missing, something was wrong. Was it me? Was there a secret about me that nobody wanted to tell me? I decided to find out.
I became adept at using straightened paperclips to pick locks. I sifted through the file cabinet, finding documents I wasn’t supposed to see, including some medical reports that I didn’t understand and our IQ scores. It turns out my sister really is a genius. I figured out how to get into my sister’s closet next and stole her favorite jeans jacket. Then I opened my father’s desk drawer, shuffled through some papers.
I asked my mother if she was hiding anything from me.
“Of course not,” she said, and then paused. “Everyone has secrets.”
One day my mother drove away unexpectantly, and my father said he wasn’t sure when she’d be coming back. My sister let me sit on her lap while we waited for her in the dining room, listening for the car to pull in the driveway, for her steps on the stone walkway. She returned after only a few hours, ignoring my father, her face expressionless.
A few years after we moved to Philadelphia, my mother got sick.
My brother, sister, and I disagree about how long her first illness lasted. During this time, a year, two, maybe three, depending on which one of us tells the story, she was inconsolable, in constant pain. She headed straight for bed after work. She landed in the hospital for a few days of testing, or so they told my brother, sister, and me. I visited her at the hospital and tried to climb into bed with her, and everyone told me, “No,” to stand back, not crowd her. When she came home, my mother said she had some sort of connective tissue disease that they didn’t have a name for yet.
My brother, sister, and I debate what was actually wrong with our mother that first time she was sick.
My sister, a wildlife biologist, thinks she had Lyme disease. My brother, a hospice nurse, thinks she was showing early signs of Parkinson’s Disease and Lewy body dementia, her double diagnoses two decades later.
I believe she was suffering from depression, that she had battled it throughout adulthood, maybe even earlier, but kept it hidden for as long as she could. Maybe she was shuttled off for recuperation, like they did back then, and she just didn’t tell us.
We won’t ever know for sure.
My favorite memory of my mother and me comes at the tail end of her first illness, in the early 1980’s. We were at the community pool, a few miles from our home.
This is one of those glossy recollections in which I am cast as the hero, and I rescue my mother just like she ran through fire to get my tights. In this memory, her doctor told her that she needed exercise to get better. He suggested swimming.
“I can teach you,” I said. “I can do it.”
“Nobody can teach me to swim.” She pressed her lips together. My mother’s brown hair was just beginning to streak grey.
“I can do it,” I said again. “Let me try.”
I was a strong swimmer. In later years, I’d be a lifeguard, but at this time, I was just a kid who dove underneath the adults doing their laps or raced them without their knowing it and won.
I loved the water, any water, even bathtub water, but my mother was terrified of it. She told me that her father threw her into the ocean to see if she could swim on her own. She almost drowned.
“Let’s try,” my mother said, and I held her hand as I lead her into the water.
My first goal was to teach my mother to float. I held her firmly, and she lay on her stomach in the water, in her belted one piece bathing suit, arms stretched in front of her. I loosened my hold from two hands to one hand on the curve of her stomach, and then I took my hand away. The first few times, she started to sink, and I grabbed her, but the last time, when I extricated my hand from her body, she stayed on top of the water. She floated.
After that, I taught her to kick and then how to use her arms to pull through the water. In a week or so, she was doing her own version of freestyle down one length of the pool with me following her just in case something bad happened.
Within a few months, my mother was swimming three nights a week at an indoor pool and telling the doctor she was feeling much stronger.
My brother and sister have completely different memories as to how our mother got better. I like my version best.
But my mother wasn’t exactly cured.Here’s the other side of the story, the one I usually keep hidden away: I’d catch her in bed crying sometimes, curling up next to her, my body against hers. I’d bury my head under her arm, clamping myself to her. I was trying to will her to be healthy, and I would wonder if I failed her, if it was somehow my fault that she was sad and sick? My brother was in college. My sister was in high school, busy breaking records at track meets neither of my parents attended. I lost weight, became almost skeletal. I had bags under my eyes, which my father assured me was a hereditary trait, but I didn’t sleep well. I trudged to school with my shoulders down, my head down, because of the backpack and all the other weight I carried.
Later, much later, decades later, my mother told someone who told me that she would have killed herself then, but she was worried what it would do to me, her youngest child, the daughter clinging to her side and refusing to let go.
Even as my mother slowly improved, she was different, harsher than before. My brother, sister and I all have similar memories of her quick temper, especially in the mid-to-late 1980’s. She pulled my brother’s hair, and she slapped me on the cheek.
One day, I begged my mother to buy me moisturizer or lend me her bottle. I told her my skin was getting dry in the winter. She launched into a tirade about how I was too obsessed with my body.
“It’s normal to use moisturizer,” I shouted. “This is so stupid.”
“You’re stupid.” My mother threw her bottle at me. It hit the side of my head. “Don’t come to me for anything.”
My mother controlled the image she presented to others. We weren’t supposed to say anything negative about her to anyone. She ironed her clothes and wore bright red lipstick. She watched her weight, often skipping dessert. She talked up my father around her siblings and parents.
But she could be surprisingly open about the problems her children were facing.
My mother said she hated the fakeness of holiday cards. Every so often, she would decide her holiday letter needed to be transparent. However, she never seemed to focus her honesty on either my father or herself. One year, she wrote that everything was going well for everyone, until it came to me: “Anna is taking guitar lessons and failing French.”
I got breasts, curves, and birth control. When I was in high school, my mother left library work and finally started her own business as a publicist. She traded her flowered dresses for power suits. She had an office and clients, including a woman launching a line of handmade kaleidoscopes. My father worked late nights doing research at University of Pennsylvania or he was away, supposedly at world health conferences.
Without my brother and sister in the house, we became less of a family and more three individuals living together, barely talking. When I was home, I was almost always alone. I wandered through the silent rooms. I unlocked everything, found nothing new. I missed my mother and sometimes called her at the office to ask her when she would be back, and when she came home, I ignored her.
Each year, our relationship grew uglier. I yelled at her. She yelled at me. When we were being measured for dresses for my grandparents’ 50th anniversary party, my mother bragged that her waist size was smaller than mine. She told me I would look better if I cut my hair, and when I did, punk-style, spiked, she told me I looked ugly.
During my senior year of high school, she dumped kitty litter on my bed when I forgot to change it. Her favorite word for me was “selfish.”
I told her I hated her and the house and everything about suburban life, and that when I got to college, I planned to have lots of sex, do tons of drugs, and maybe even accept Jesus Christ as my personal savior. (It was the last one that finally made her cry.)
“You are a terrible person,” she said.
“You made me,” I said.
By the time my father and mother dropped me off at Sarah Lawrence College in New York, my mother and I had done what we needed to do to break apart. We couldn’t wait to get away from each other.
When I told my mother I wanted to be a lawyer, she said, “Are you sure you’re smart enough?” She also said she thought my career should be in writing. She ended up being correct about the writer part, but first I went to law school in California. I was thrilled to be across the country from her. That, I thought, was enough space between us.
My mother, meanwhile, was feeling sick again. Her muscles grew rigid. One side of her body fought her brain, refused to move on command. She had to stop working.
When she finally got her Parkinson’s diagnosis in the early 1990’s, I told her I was sorry -- at least I think I did -- but then I went back to studying. I created a bubble for myself filled with new friends, a new boyfriend, new definitions of myself. I didn’t have to be my mother’s daughter. I didn’t have to worry about her. She started calling me every day, looking for me, wanting to connect with me, and I let her go to the answering machine. In modern parlance, I ghosted her.
By the mid-to-late 1990’s, I was no longer in school, no longer practicing law, but instead a fledgling journalist in Southern California. One weekend, I visited my parents in their latest house in Columbia, Maryland. My father’s car was gone. My mother asked me to sit next to her on the beige sofa. Her face was frozen in a neutral expression.
This is how I remember finding out my father slept around: “Your dad’s left me for another woman.”
I said nothing. I didn’t know what to say.
“He’s in love with her,” my mother said. I learned that my father had multiple lovers over the decades, starting in the late 1970’s, around the time my mother first got sick. I learned she threatened to leave him multiple times, even driving away, but she always returned.
I remembered that gnawing, lonely feeling growing up, my mother’s illness heavy in the air. The feeling that something was wrong. The feeling that my father wasn’t accessible, traveling or locked away in his office. Now it made sense. I had context.
I wanted to hold my mother, but I also wanted to shake her. I was in my mid-twenties, growing into a confidence separate from my mother.
I didn’t understand staying with anyone who cheated. I didn’t understand how anyone could allow themselves to be demeaned.
She kept talking. This is when I learned my father had been hospitalized twice for depression, once after I was born. This is when I learned my mother had an abortion when she got pregnant a fourth time.
“Three children were enough,” my mother said.
It got darker in the house. I turned on the lights. My mother looked at me, expectantly. I knew this role. I knew how to help my mother.
I told her that I needed her. I wrapped my body around her, even though I was angry with her: with him: with these secrets she kept from me and was only just revealing. And I knew she was only telling me part of it, giving me a brief glimpse at what was behind the door, inside the room that was her grief. She needed me, yes, but she wanted something from me, too, something specific.
“You know the law,” my mother said. “This time, I’m done. What should we do?”
There was a new desk in my father’s study. It had several locked drawers. My mother said she’d been trying to open them.
I found a paperclip and got to work.
“Where did you learn to do that?” my mother asked as I opened another locked drawer. We were going through my father’s calendar in which he marked every time he’d had sex with his latest lover. “How did you do that so quickly?”
“You don’t want to know,” I said. We gathered up photos, love letters, and all the other evidence to take to a lawyer I found my mother.
My father and his lover broke up. He wanted to come back to my mother.
My mother called to tell me that, during therapy, my father said, “Learning about me is like peeling an onion, layer by layer.”
Apparently, while my parents had secrets from their children and the world, my father had even more secrets from my mother.
After a year, my father moved back in with my mother, and she stopped meeting with the lawyer. I didn’t ask my mother why she would take him back, in part because she was getting sicker, and, practically speaking, I needed my father to take care of my mother. My brother, sister, and I took turns visiting, calling each other to compare notes on how we thought they were doing.
In 2000 I found a job as a reporter in Washington, D.C., leaving California, in part to be closer to my mother.
Within a year, I met my husband. By 2008 we had twin sons and a daughter. We had our children through careful planning and painful fertility treatments. My mother got pregnant even when she didn’t want children. I, however, was not as fertile as my mother.
My parents sold their house and bought a smaller condominium, still in Columbia, overlooking a small lake. My husband and I moved to Virginia. I figured that would be enough distance to keep her from overtaking my life.
Not long after my daughter’s birth, my father blurted out that I was a mistake. My mother, shuffling from the bedroom to the kitchen, said, “He wasn’t supposed to tell you that.”
“That’s fine, Mom,” I said, but it wasn’t.
“You seem angry,” my mother said.
“I’m not angry.” I wanted to choke them both. What hurt me, what still hurts me, was that they kept from me the story of how I became me. That story is mine, too.
My mother became obsessed with dolls and dollhouses. She bought two dollhouses and filled them with furniture and large families. When I visited, she gave me tours of the houses. The people in the houses seemed happy, sipping tea in the parlor or taking baths in clawfoot tubs.
If she wasn’t too tired, my mother had plans for our days together. They usually involved me chauffeuring her to different open houses in the area, where she pretended she was buying a new home. Except I wasn’t so sure she was play-acting. I worried that she was serious, that she thought she could buy a ten-room mansion with three flights of stairs when she couldn’t get a few feet without her walker. She told me how she would redecorate each room. Did she want a redo of her life? In these new houses, was my father there? Was I there?
My mother was invigorated after these house tours. I couldn’t stand the game of make-believe. I didn’t like encouraging her to create a fictional world where things could be different for her, but I didn’t want to crush her either, so I stayed quiet. I told my sister she could do the open houses, that I quit.
As my mother’s health worsened, she gave me power of attorney over her finances. She was worried my father would steal from the inheritance she had received from the sale of my grandfather’s stores. She started telling me that my father had women over every night, that they sat by her bed and stared at her. On one Thanksgiving, she asked why we were all planning to eat the green baby monkey in the middle of the table. She was looking at the turkey.
Eventually my mother was confined to a wheelchair, but she mostly stayed in bed. In one version of her last years, I was a doting daughter, stroking her hair and kissing her. I helped her eat with a smile of kindness on her face. I wiped her mouth clean.
But I don’t think that’s how it went, as much as I want to tell stories about me caring patiently for my mother. I did visit her, sometimes every week, but I rushed through our time together. I couldn’t stand to look at her frail body, her clouded eyes, the saliva that dropped down her chin from her once beautiful lips. I had panic attacks on the drive home.
By 2016 my mother could no longer eat solid foods. She choked even on the smoothies her caregivers made her.
When everyone else was out of earshot, my mother grabbed me with her gnarled claw-like hands and whispered, “I want to die. Please help me die.”
At first, I took on my usual role. I told her that she had children and grandchildren that needed her. Then I changed course. I’m not sure whether it was her unhappiness or mine that made me stop trying to keep her alive.
My mother was wrapped in a pink Vera Bradley blanket I bought for her. I told her that the only way she could die faster was by refusing to drink the smoothies. I like to think I was soft and gentle, but my voice was probably clipped and curt.
My mother wasn’t ready to end her life. She drank the smoothies. She cried almost every time I left. All I wanted to do was get away.
My father was diagnosed with cancer. It spread throughout his body. We had both of them dying in separate rooms of their condominium. My father went first: August 2017. He waited for a moment when he was alone.
My brother, sister, and I wheeled my mother in to say goodbye to my father. We gave her his hand to hold. She stared at his hand, flung it off of hers, and refused to look at his body. We wheeled her back to her room.
My mother told me, repeatedly, in her mumbling, barely audible voice, to look at her inheritance. She thought my father was stealing from her. I assured her it wasn’t possible, and she asked why. At first, I told her again and again that her husband had died, and her response varied from shock to hopelessness to indifference. After a while, I just said, “I’m on it, Mom.”
The sicker she got, the harder it was for me to breathe or eat. I lost twenty pounds in the last four months of her life.
My mother moved first to assisted living, then to hospice. Sometimes I curled up next to her on the bed. I matched our breathing. But mostly I busied myself with the details of her care, the paperwork that had to be done. I’d like to say that I remembered her last breath, but I was in Virginia, in bed with my husband. My brother was with her.
Years before her death, my mother planned out every detail of her funeral with my sister. At the service, we talked about how she was a wonderful person, glamorous, but clumsy, funny and kind. She would have loved all the stories about her. She would have been glad that we created this half-true version of her for everyone to grieve.
In the last few months, I’ve been looking through boxes of my mother’s memorabilia, deciding what to save and what to throw away. I found stacks of glossy brochures she designed for her clients. I’m keeping them. I found some old holiday letters she sent out in the early years of her marriage, including one explaining that my not-yet-known-to-be-a-genius sister was failing kindergarten. I snapped a photo of the letter and texted it to my sister. I’m keeping that letter, too.
At first, I felt mostly relief that my mother was dead. I felt lighter; I was free. I didn’t want to think about her.
After a few years, I could pull up memories of my mother, the ones that comforted, the ones that weren’t quite accurate, but close enough to make me feel good.
Every once in a while, I see a woman who both resented and loved me deeply. A woman with problems she hid from others, and from herself.
Sometimes I glimpse forgiveness for myself for failing my mother; for being weak and even cruel, a little like my father, perhaps. Forgiveness for both of us: my mother, me; for being imperfect.
I imagine that I am teaching my mother to swim again. I am holding her, one hand on the perfect curve of her belly. As I release her, my mother, she floats away from me, slowly, slowly, just beyond my reach.
Anna Stolley Persky, a lawyer and award-winning journalist, lives in Northern Virginia. She’s pursuing an MFA in Creative Writing at George Mason University. Her essays have been published in Pithead Chapel, Two Hawks Quarterly, and The Washington Post. Her fiction has been published in Mystery Tribune, The Satirist, Five on the Fifth, The Write Launch, Bright Flash Literary Review, and The Plentitudes. Her poetry has been published in the Washington Writers’ Publishing House and The Closed Eye Open. You can find Anna here: Facebook. LinkedIn.