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Photo by Agnieszka Boeske at Unsplash

I’ve been writing stories — both non-fiction and make-believe— since roughly third grade. From those first days in elementary school all the way through my master’s coursework, my reward for a well-crafted essay was immediate: a high mark in the grade book. It’s easy to know you’ve written something of value when your professor jots praise in the margin and grants an A+. Course credit is extended. Grade point averages soar.

Post-grad writing offers far less instant gratification. Today, I’m a freelance writer who often pens pieces because I’m self-driven to explore the topics, not because they’re assigned by an instructor or boss. …

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Photo by Hanson Lu on Unsplash

The wind chill is below zero and my bird feeder is frozen, yet there’s a cardinal flitting around beneath it.

“I was told this is the spot where a kind person puts out Wagner’s Cardinal Blend Premium Wild Bird Food every day,” he says, wandering under the tree in a state of confusion. “There’s nothing here. Why is there nothing here?”

This cardinal isn’t like most birds. He doesn’t just fly off to another backyard offering better access to fresh seeds. …

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Photo by Josh Bean on Unsplash

“Happy birthday, baby girl,” read the mid-morning text. That’s it. That’s the entirety of my boyfriend’s effort to celebrate my last birthday. When I seemed sad on the phone a few days later, he asked if anything was wrong. Well.

I suppose I should give him points for remembering the date, but I’m pretty sure he just got one of those Facebook notifications which says something like, “68 people have wished Ann a happy birthday. Would you like to write on her wall?”

Here’s where he went wrong. When prompted either by his own memory or a social media algorithm, he flipped open iMessage, typed four words, and checked me off his to-do list. No different than the greeting he sends any other day of the year. …


Ann Kinsale

Writer in rural Ohio fueled by dark chocolate, moonlit escapades, and Travis Fimmel •

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