The Seclusion

There aren’t many examples in the family archives. We have that famous photo of Great Aunt BoDean, circa 1867, seated behind a wooden shack with ranch hands lined up on the other side, holding empty round plates. They’re missing their pie, for which she was famous. Her face is hard to read in the blurry photo. We’re just guessing it was a case of seclusion. I explained to my husband that’s what it has always been called in the family. It’s strictly female, but otherwise a cipher. No one knows when it lands, or on whom. Among my immediate kin it took my sister—odd because she was the most self-possessed, controlled person of us all. She’d been an ultra-successful business owner, wife, mother. Her flight took her across two continents and devastated them, economically. Afterwards, she regained everything and seemed completely unchanged. I told my husband all this when he asked me to marry him. He laughed it off, saying I could do what I chose. I don’t think he really understood. I didn’t myself. My sister and mother never talked about it. When I first rented the room in the flophouse, I planned to keep a very careful diary and finally expose the practice, for better or worse. But it’s been 17 weeks and I haven’t written a thing. The longer you are in it, the more the silence grows.

MERRIDAWN DUCKLER is a writer from Portland, Oregon. Her fiction has appeared in Carolina Quarterly, Main Street Rag, Green Mountains Review; with current work in Poetica, TXTOBJX, Airgonaut, Medusa’s Laugh Press, and Defenestration. She was named to the 2017 Wigleaf Top Fifty in micro-fiction and has been a finalist at the Center for Book Arts, Tupelo Press, and the Sozopol Fiction Fellowship. She has received honors and fellowships from the NEA, Yaddo, Squaw Valley, SLS in St. Petersburg, Russia, Vermont Post Graduate Conference, and the Southampton Writers Conference. She’s an editor at Narrative and the international philosophy journal Evental Aesthetics.