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  • Maureen Langloss

A Love Letter

He wanted to know if I was going to make it into his book. Would I thrust his narrative forward?

I think we all know the narrative of 2017 was heartbreak. For me, add to it lots of stress at home—sick kids/sick me, vomit by the bucket-load, ever-diminishing time to write. Most of the year, I felt like I was on that bus on the way up to Machu Picchu again. No guard rails. The driver racing switchbacks, the world getting steeper, blurrier, car-sickier. A slight turn was all we’d need to careen off the mountain into the hungry mouth of eternity.

This is stressful. Oh God. // Things had gone bad, and toilet paper was out of the budget.

But 2017 is also the year I was lucky enough to join Split Lip, which was a revelation. A Koosh. Split Lip got me through. When there was only one set of footsteps on the beach, it was our submission queue, our writers—their words—carrying me.

A bubble rose to the surface of the pool and disappeared, like a silent “oh.”

Our writers. Their words.

“Drink it slowly, Sarah, and you won’t get drunk.”

This is the first time I’ve been an editor at a lit mag. I’m a virgin at this.

Jar of penis, Aisle 12!

I didn’t expect the rush of emotion that doing it for the first time would stir up.

The love.

Yes, love is the only way I can describe my feelings for the authors I’ve worked with this year. Ruth, Meghan, Jim, Beth, Christopher, Kathy, Kathryn, Sally, Chris, Dylan, Tyler, Erin, Angela, Nathaniel, Raven, Brett, Josh (x3).

I didn’t expect this tenderness in my heart.

When my mother says it’s nice to see me again I know she means her love for me could fill a lake.

I had no idea how much I’d come to care about our authors’ words. A cornucopia of sweet and savory goodness. I read them so many times, I memorized whole passages. I had no idea how intimate it would be to play midwife to someone else’s story. How delicate to hold the newborn flash, to feel its heart, to ask an author to maybe tinker with its beat. Editing is scary. It feels good. It hurts. The back and forth, the give and take.

One raw fist tunneled through the sticky August sundown and cracked David’s nose.

Split Lip writers are Ohmygodohmygodohmygod talented. Imaginative and daring with edits. Bionic. Willing to go deeper and shorter and faster. To split lips. They have this searching spirit, this desire to make every word count, this writer’s soul.

Caitlin enunciates the words mother and kitchen and mopping like each syllable has scrubbing properties, like she’s flossing with vowels.

When I publish my own work, I feel vaguely sick. I reread and find mistakes. I wish it were better, that it didn’t suck. But when Split Lip flash goes live, there’s no doubt, no cringe. It’s all pride. All joy. All gratitude. I’m in the Koosh Motel. And it’s perfect.

a fresh piece of romaine perched on his shoulder like an angel

The main thing I wondered when I wandered Machu Picchu was did they know? Did they who built this sacred place know the majesty of their creation? Of their block by block. Stone by stone. Of their hoist and pull. Did they know we would come here, sit down, and pray? Flashes are tiny bursts of light that feel so insignificant at times, tucked between the peaks and valleys of the internet jungle. But they, too, are built letter by letter, stone by stone. And if you print them out, sit down, spread them round you, you can feel their heat.

He almost vomits, and for future reference, she records that in her notebook.

Please note: The italicized portions of this post are excerpted from flash we have published since I joined Split Lip. I challenge you to identify them all. This story would not be complete without a full-throttle thanks to Kaitlyn Andrews-Rice for inviting me into the Split Lip FAM and for the vision and kindness she brings to this adventure. Thanks also to flash readers Lori Sambol Brody and Tommy Dean, to contest judge Juan Martinez, and the whole Split Lip team for being so damn supportive, hard-working, and dedicated to the written word. And, finally, congratulations to every single writer who bravely sent us work in 2017. Your words matter. We can’t wait to read more in 2018.


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