She awoke with reluctance to the cruel charade of another day. In the fleeting moment before complete consciousness, she lay with her eyes closed as her body processed the surroundings and suppressed the screaming of her dreams. The room was chilled, as always, and the tickle of salt air on her nose confirmed her usual position facing a slightly cracked window. But this morning was different; she did not need to open her eyes to see that. As she clutched a small, tattered baby blanket to her chest, familiar tears began to well. But these tears were not met with the usual burning of muted morning sunrays.
She could not remember the last time she awoke pre-dawn, or had even wanted to. Her mind toyed briefly with the notion that she was finally turning an important corner but the deadened emotions within seemed to negate those hopes immediately.
“Maybe,” she thought, extending her arm back for the comforting warmth of his body but finding only a barren handful of empty sheets. They had not greeted a morning together in weeks, nor would they do so today.
Echoing down a short hallway, the groan of old wooden floors alerted Tom to her awakening … yet he made no effort to draw away from his piping cup of coffee for any sort of proper greeting. She was all he had left and he hated himself for the uncontrollable resentment he felt toward her.
“Arabella,” he acknowledged without turning as she crossed the creaky threshold into the kitchen. “You’re up early.”
Her steps were plodding and deliberate, as though not entirely conscious. From behind, she reached out to gently touch his shoulder but his instinctive recoil shut her down once again.
“There’s coffee on the…” But it was too late. Arabella quickly reclaimed her hand and continued on her path. Placing the remains of the powder blue blanket gently on the edge of the kitchen table, she shuffled through the rickety front door and down the aging steps of their modest stone cottage, mottled with an array of seaside lichens in various earthy hues.
As he watched her leave, Tom cast his eyes downward: too exhausted to berate himself further. He knew that she blamed herself more than he ever could and he so wished he could let go of the anger and be of some comfort. After all, the love of a mother is unrivaled. Compared to such a powerful force, his own bitterness was just petty.
Beyond the tall grasses of the bryn, Arabella’s toes sunk beneath the gritty sand that forever delineates the lush vegetation above from the lapping waves below. Her strawberry hair blew randomly across her fine features as ominous clouds battled overhead. Here, at the edge of the world, the weather was always violent and the atmosphere always cast in foreboding shades of yellow and green.
While she had never measured her strides or labeled a single landmark, the precise location of her sanctuary was never difficult to find. Despite the perpetual shifting of the earth beneath the tides, this spot was clearly and forever marked with heartbreak. Her screams, like invisible scars, still lingered on the howling winds as she followed the siren song of her own sorrow to this personally sacred space.
Here, at the tip of a natural jetty far from prying eyes, she was free to cry. Such was her daily ritual. This was where he drowned. No, this was where she let him drown … and she knew that is why Tom had never accompanied her here. But Arabella saw this place as so much more. This was the closest she would ever be to her son: a place to set aside the weight of self-hatred and breathe in the lingering essence of their final moments together. She was not ready to give that up, and Tom had long ago stopped trying.
But something about this morning felt different. Perhaps it was the exceptionally tender hour, before the rest of the world had awoken, but the air was filled with a serene calm that was not coming from within. Through the rumbling of distant thunder came a silence usually filled with the rolling crash of water upon the shore. As Arabella approached to assume her mourning spot at the edge of land, she was bewildered to find … more land. Before her bare feet, the sea receded in a way she had never seen, revealing a narrow path that extended into the distance and vanished into the depths of an ethereal offshore mist. To each side, it appeared as though the sea had evaporated into the atmosphere for the sole purpose of the revelation, leaving behind a fragmented field of puddles merging into vast plains of shallows.
Had this really been there all along, resting just below the surface? Where did it lead? Was it really there at all? Perhaps she had finally given up the fight for sanity, as her husband obviously suspected, and this entire surreal landscape existed only in her mind.
Consumed in a swirl of uncertainty, Arabella experienced the first tinge of curiosity since the death of her child. That, in itself, inspired further investigation. With childlike abandon, she lowered herself one sizeable step onto the path. Surprisingly, it held firm beneath her, unlike the melting sands to both sides. Gaining added confidence with each step forward, Arabella was struck with sudden paralysis when her first glance back revealed a murky haze but no defined shoreline. Trapped and alone as the fog encroached on both sides, her curiosity quickly turned to panic.
In a rush of fear-laced adrenaline, the mind is capable of many things. Her mind, she was certain, heard a gentle voice on the breeze … his voice. As she doubled-back in the direction from which she came, she heard it once, and then again, at the same time heartwarming and horrifying, “Mummy!” While her heart longed to turn back and race into the mist, her feet carried her toward solid ground faster than she had ever moved before. The journey back seemed endless but Arabella just managed to climb ashore and dust the sticking sand from her clothes before turning back to the sea and watching the last of the once prominent path submerge again beneath the waves.
Arabella stood and shivered, silently stunned, as the thick fog dropped from the air and back into the shallows. There was no destination on the horizon. Indeed, there never had been. Not visibly so, anyway. But she was so certain that she had heard his words on the winds, and so desperate to believe the impossible.
Wandering into the edge of town, dazed and dirtied, it dawned on Arabella that she had not stepped out in public since young Austin’s funeral. Surely, her current appearance would do little to quell the rumors of her deteriorating mental state. Still, as much as she wanted to rush home and share with Tom, she worried about the reception such news would receive.
Instead, Arabella steadied herself and greeted her way through the small village, purposefully tight-lipped so as not to disclose too much of her experience with anybody at one time. God forbid she mention the haunting calls riding the winds at the water’s edge. Frustrated by the bubble of busybody presumption surrounding her, Arabella kept her inquiries polite and pleasant, limiting each to the mysterious path beneath the waves and the destination on its far end. Burdened with inescapable self-awareness, she meekly absorbed every stare and made every effort to disregard the gossip hanging audibly in her wake. But the exercise proved fruitless. According to all but her own eyes and feet, no such path existed. Indeed, the very idea of an Atlantean roadway beside their sleepy community dripped with lunacy. If it had never been seen then it could not be real. This was no collection of dreamers or adventurers. These were simple people, with dirty hands and an affinity for the familiar. Each had their place and none were eager to deviate. Perhaps this was why she never felt at home here; her spirit had always been far too open to the preposterous.
The next morning, Arabella slipped from the covers as Tom slept, greeting the first rays on the horizon with the slightest hint of a long-lost smile. Through force of habit, she again placed the tatter of blue fabric on the table’s edge. But this time she turned back to reclaim it and stuff it deep in her pocket before battling the gravity of the sloping hillside in the relative blindness of early morning. Along her familiar route, she sat on the damp sand of the jetty’s edge for what felt like hours, studying the increasing light in a futile attempt to identify the pending approach of the phenomenon. Her entire essence hummed with curiosity. Like a wide-eyed child on the brink of discovery, her body rocked with the methodical rhythm of the lapping waves. As the morning wore on and the gulls began to squabble, each passing minute intensified and lengthened through a lens of frustrated expectation.
As the first flickers of self-doubt crept among her thoughts and she pondered the long walk home, a thunderhead formed over open waters and drew in toward shore. Arabella held her breath and closed her eyes. She stood at land’s end; her face lifted to the heavens and arms extended to embrace her consumption … awaiting a downpour that never came. The sky again filled with a rolling fog and the water’s solid surface fragmented into a patchwork of broken oases. At once, the dead winds revived with a thunderous snap as a charge of electricity bathed her bare skin. For the briefest of moments, she lingered, basking in the empty validation that she was right and they were all so wrong.
Arabella’s timid green eyes opened to the same alien landscape she had discovered the previous day. But this time, all semblance of fear and confusion gave way to calm and curiosity. Again, she lowered herself onto the firm pathway and waded into the fog, this time far deeper than the last, training her ears to every sound carried to her on the breeze.
Arabella was now entirely cut off from the world beyond the beach, or what little she knew of it – surrounded in every direction from a shapeless wall of blinding white that maintained a solid density just inches beyond her reach. To avoid disorientation, she kept her eyes downward, often looking back for the comfort of her own footprints.
Suddenly, a playful giggle broke the muffled silence of her cottony surroundings. Startled, she snapped her head forward just in time to witness a wake of swirling vapor over the path ahead, but not the solid mass that left it. Before she could process the confusion, another giggle raced across the path behind her as she turned to catch sight of the mischievous three-foot high shadow just beyond the curtain of fog. By all rights, she should have been terrified but that exuberant laugh that hung in the air brought Arabella instantly back to a place she never expected to revisit.
“Aus…Austin?” she pleaded into the mist as the figure kept elusively out of sight.
“Mummy!” The giggling voice bounced back from behind her, as though shouted through a long, echoing corridor connecting another place entirely.
Arabella spun around again, instantly noticing a pair of footprints not behind her but before her. They were a fraction the size of her own and left a much fainter impression in the damp sand, but they were there … and they clearly lead somewhere. She followed the tiny prints forward, through a palpably dense wall of air and into a sudden expanse of circular space.
The circle was barren, save for a small, smooth boulder to the right, ideally placed for sitting above the wet earth. Here, the fog kept its distance, creating a sense of breathing room relative to the constricting corridor between it and the real world. In the center of the circle stood little Austin: his beach attire still pristine and his dark hair perfectly combed. He had Tom’s hair, which had always sat so peculiarly atop that perfect reflection of her face.
“I’m sorry, mummy,” his sweet voice echoed within the tight confines, wonderfully oblivious to his plight, “I seem to have lost my hat.”
“My angel,” Arabella gasped amid an unexpected flood of tears, unleashing a violent flow of emotion that rolled through her body in spasms. In life, it had always been his favorite pet name and she never hesitated to use it, yet the connotations of the moment gave it all the more unintended relevance.
From the center of the circle, his gaze remained leery as he watched his mother collapse uncontrollably to her knees before reaching out to embrace him. He met her gesture not with a step toward her but rather a resolute step back.
“No, mummy,” he said with a proper firmness far beyond his tender years, “you mustn’t touch. You must never touch.”
Arabella’s heart sank as much from the reception as the inability to grasp and hold her baby but the dejection was short-lived. She was sharing a new stolen moment with her angel, after all. Perhaps even heaven had its drawbacks.
“Chase me, mummy!” Austin laughed away the disappointment, provoking a playful chase around the perimeter of the circle while Arabella made sure to keep her distance, as ordered. For what seemed far too short a time, mother and son ran and played until she could no longer catch her breath. She sat on her rock perch and proudly watched as Austin drew her pictures in the sand: drawings of a home he would no longer recognize, drawings of daddy, and drawings of the wondrous places he had since been. Her world, as tiny as it had now become, was perfect once again.
Suddenly, in the indistinguishable distance, a low, rumbling horn bellowed through the fog. It was nothing she had heard in an entire life spent on the shore, but it clearly meant something to Austin. His playful mood changed instantly as he tossed aside his drawing stick in a huff and looked upward with pleading eyes.
“You have to go now, mummy.”
“What?” Arabella panicked. “No!” How in the world could she be asked to walk away from him again?
“You have to go while you can.” He did his little boy best to hide the melancholy tone beneath a reassuring calm. “Hug daddy for me?” Austin always had a way of prowling his seated father, sneaking ever closer from behind and leaping up to hug his neck while dangling over his broad shoulders in gleeful victory. And it suddenly struck Arabella why Tom now looked so lost in that familiar old chair.
“Come with me!” she pleaded, but the fog was already closing in. “Baby, wait!” Austin’s eyes lit up as Arabella reached into her pocket and retrieved the humble remains of blue. She extended her hand as he raced back across the circle, stopping just beyond reach. It sliced her to the soul that she could not hand him his security blanket directly, let alone hug him goodbye. Instead, keeping a brave face, she kissed the blanket and placed it atop the rock.
As the rising waves began once again lapping at the sides of the pathway, she stepped beyond the circle and raced back toward shore. Austin’s last words hung in the air behind her as she stepped back onto the beach just ahead of the tide, “Come see me again, mummy.”
Tom sat, motionless, on the porch as Arabella returned home. Her cheeks were stained with tears but her mood was far from sad.
“Where’ve you been?” His voice sounded gruff and irritated, but that was simply his way. The more she pulled away, the more ineffective he became at keeping her mind stable and grounded in reality … the more he failed as a husband. He would never know how he would have fared as a father. This was the last responsibility that meant anything in his simple hillside life.
“Just … down at the beach.” While a large part of her was thrilled that he cared to ask, she was not at all ready to explain her morning’s adventure to the most stubborn and pragmatic man she had ever known. Still, she steadied herself for additional questioning as her body vibrated from the boiling emotions inside.
“Where’s the blanket, Bella?”
“I don’t know, Tom.” Arabella hesitated and turned away, knowing her rather strict limitations as a liar. “It has to be around here somewhere.”
To avoid an unnecessary fight, Tom let the discussion die peacefully. Still, her erratic behavior was increasingly worrisome, and not only for the awkwardness it caused in town.
The ritual repeated again the next morning, with Arabella rising even earlier to sneak into Austin’s dusty old toy chest and retrieve his most prized worldly possession: a hand-carved locomotive, given to him by Tom’s father on his fourth birthday. The vision of her angel, alone and bored on that desolate patch of earth, had grown so loud in her thoughts. Perhaps his train would bring a few hours of comfort. The next day, she surprised Austin with his most battle-tested toy soldier … and the day after that, a weatherworn jack in the box.
As the week wore on, Tom would busy himself through the early hours, keeping his mind and hands too occupied to fret over his wife’s routine disappearances or the sudden, seemingly delusional, contentment that had so swiftly replaced her chronic depression. Thinking only made him wonder. Was the poor girl finally beyond salvation? Or had she somehow found peace and moved on without him? If the latter, should he be relieved by her recovery or resentful at her ability to let go of all the remorse that he still held so tightly? She was growing more detached from the outside world by the day, vanishing before daybreak and returning hours later. When she did return home, she did so without a word, wasting the remaining daylight hours coiled in a corner seat and gazing distantly through the window.
On the fifth morning, as Arabella broke the veil of her newfound sanctuary, she was met not with playful giggles but a pensive quiet. An expansive series of train tracks ran the perimeter of the circle, looping gracefully around the sitting stone and leaving intricate patterns in the impressionable sand. But on this morning, there were no indulgent laughs or imaginative locomotive noises enlivening the space. Instead, Austin sat in the circle’s center with his back to Arabella and his arms wrapped comfortingly around his legs. His face was buried against his knees as though he had been crying inconsolably before her arrival.
“Mummy? Am I bad?” The heartbreaking simplicity of the question poured forward, hitting the misty wall in front of him and rumbling along the outskirts to hit her ears hard from both sides. “Is that why I have to be alone in this place?”
“No, angel…” Again, the inability to embrace him rendered the words hard and inflexible. “There’s nothing bad about you.”
Austin turned slowly to face his mother; her words provided empty comfort, at best. “Where are the other children?”
“I don’t know, sweetheart. I honestly don’t.” Their community had always been composed of older adults, many of them too poor to ever consider a family, so Austin’s brief life had never been particularly filled with joyful socialization. But Arabella knew this was not what he meant. The same question had consumed her thoughts for days: why was her baby left in limbo on the tides when it was she who deserved the burden of punishment for her momentary neglect? His loneliness was inconceivable, surely dwarfing the emotional isolation she suffered at home.
The day’s visit maintained a quiet tone throughout, filled with arm’s length consolation and shared outbursts of frustrated tears. Through necessity, the two had found creative ways to share the illusion of contact and, on this day, Austin sat on the hem of Arabella’s soiled dress as each tightly grasped opposite ends of his deteriorating blanket remains. Her resolved continually weakened beneath the weight of maternal instinct, as she grew increasingly unable to envision a fate terrifying enough to outweigh the solace of a single embrace. But Arabella honored the rule, all the same, fueled only by the uncertainty of the repercussions that a touch would have on her baby.
As the familiar bellow pierced the fog, signaling the end of another visit to this realm, she turned away to hide her daily anguish.
“Mummy?” Austin started, just as Arabella stepped through the fog. “You will come visit me always, won’t you?”
“Every day, Angel … you be a good boy.” With that, she once again cried her way across the land bridge back to the tangible world, and another day of misery.
“So, Tom … how is that lovely little lady holding up these days?” With his usual impeccable bedside manner, Doc Josiah tinged his inquiry with polite pleasantry but the rumors had long-since spread about town. The poor girl was now seeing things and wandering through public looking a complete mess. Perhaps the question had become largely rhetorical.
“I’m worried about her, Doc,” Tom admitted through his grizzled exterior. She disappears daily, spends most of her time in her head … she’s not eating … I fear I might be losing her.”
The two men talked through the severity of the situation before sending Tom on his way back to the fields with a firm pat on the back and token assurance that all would be ok. With the white-haired old doctor’s help, Tom would no longer passively sit and watch Arabella deteriorate beyond recognition. And while it gave him no pleasure to betray her trust, he was committed to doing whatever it took to recover his fading wife.
That evening, over modest plates of picked over cod and potatoes, Tom stared across the table: searching Arabella’s distant eyes for any sign of coherence.
Without blinking or shifting her gaze up from the table, Arabella laid down her fork, retrieved the small linen from her lap to wipe her lips, and stated with an eerie calm, “Austin misses you, Tom.”
Tom stared back in bewilderment, uncertain whether to speak at all for fear of exacerbating the spiraling nightmare. He rose from his seat and rounded the table, gently spinning Arabella toward him and kneeling at her side. “Arabella, sweetheart, Austin is gone.”
“No,” Arabella corrected, at first dismissive and then belligerent, “no! He’s not gone. He’s just … not here.”
“Not here? Then where is he, Bella? Where is he if not here?”
“I can’t…” As far as she was concerned, her lucidity had never wavered. So why was she suddenly so disbelieved? Faced with such abrasive scrutiny, what could she say? “Come with me, Tom. Let me show you.”
As Tom lowered his head in devastation and defeat, a hollow knock on the front door echoed through the small cottage. Tom exhaled deeply as he rose to answer the call.
“Tom?” Arabella panicked as the doctor stepped over the threshold after a brief discussion outside. “Tom, let me show you! Please!” Her pleas went unanswered as Tom restrained her thrashing arms. Before she could process what was happening, a sharp needle jab gave way to a dull malaise that spread through her body like a racing virus. As the two men stood above her with palpable concern on their faces, Arabella began to drift out of consciousness. It was no long-term solution, but at least now she would rest. Into the dead of night, Tom sat over her and silently prayed: prayed it was a start in the right direction.
The next morning, Tom woke to Arabella’s screaming howls and a sun already ascended high into the morning sky. His own lack of sleep left his senses dull and prevented any real ability to stop her from pushing him aside in a manic dash out the door and down the hillside.
She sat along the water’s edge, silently willing a parting of the waves that never came. Watching the languid ebb and flow of daylight through the clouds, it became clearer and clearer: she had missed it. She had broken her promise. The longer she sat, the more ominous became her thoughts. Without ever understanding it, what if she had also broken whatever delicate link had granted her and her baby this impossibly unlikely second chance? What if her last goodbye had become the last goodbye?
As Arabella took refuge in a small thicket of woods within sight of the shore, she eluded the chilly onset of dusk and the growing calls of the searching townspeople. Her exposed skin grew tingly and then numb as she wallowed in the dreaded thoughts of that remaining spiritual thread of her son, adrift and alone in an isolated world, betrayed yet again by his own mother. As desperately as she wanted to, she could not blame Tom. She had married a simple and closed-minded man all those years ago and, for all his shortcomings, he had always stayed true to who he was. No, there had only ever been one failure in this family, and she was determined to hold on to every bit of self-hatred.
Arabella stared up at the passing hours overhead. The icy air of the seaside held no moisture, opening itself to the rich black tapestry and vibrant celestial shimmer of the heavens beyond. She studied every detail of a crisply defined moon through the sky’s crystalline clarity. Every so often, her mind would wander back down the beach to the terrible concern poor Tom must be enduring. But Tom could always take care of himself and Austin needed her far more than this tangible world ever did.
On the far side of midnight, after the darkest dark but long before the earliest rays, Arabella awoke on a bed of lush grass beneath a violent gathering storm. As she crept from her hiding place and made her way to the water’s edge, a familiar electrical charge brought her skin to life. She had never thought to seek the elusive path by moonlight, not that Tom would have ever tolerated such unconventional behavior.
The faint illumination from a waning moon guided the way as Arabella cautiously approached the end of the familiar outcropping. As though awaiting her arrival, Arabella’s footprints upon the ledge prompted an immediate recession of the tides despite the steady fall of a light rain. The drops fell heavier with every step deeper into the iridescent fog, until the rainfall upon the shore behind her became a deafening roar, interspersed with whips of thunder and lightning strikes that stabbed deeply into the dense mist and unleashed refracted light across the entire horizon.
Within the soupy haze, Arabella remained shielded from the downpour and protected against the vicious release of energy from above. By all rights, the shallows near land should have boiled onto the shore during such a storm, yet Arabella confidently strode forward, deeper down a path uninhibited by rising waters.
Stepping into the circle, Arabella instantly spotted Austin leaning next to the sitting stone, cowering against the only protection this world afforded. Just as in life, his eyes filled with terror and the overwhelming need for the comfort of her arms. The look was poignant but exquisite and the nurturing spirit within Arabella welcomed it, in spite of the helpless fear it conveyed. This was where she was needed; it was the only place she would ever find joy.
“Austin, sweetheart…” Her voice again rang with the omnipresent calm of a loving mother at ease in her role. “What happens if mummy touches?”
Austin’s voice stumbled with trepidation. Was he allowed to share this with her? And what consequences would he face if he did? Encouraged by a gentle nod, he continued, “Then you stay here … with me.”
Another crash of thunder pierced deeper into the shielding fog, eliciting an involuntary whimper from the cowering child.
Arabella smiled sympathetically at his reactions. Since the day he was born, Austin had always been terrified of violent weather. She dropped to one knee and extended her arms without reservation. “Come to mummy, angel.”
Austin tentatively crawled across the circle to mere inches from her outstretched hands. “But what about daddy?”
Reaching forward, Arabella took her baby in her arms and pulled him tightly against her. In that moment, an overwhelming sensation of lightheadedness tore the energy from her body and rippled down her entire being. After a moment of recovery and a long overdue kiss on the cheek, she responded, “Daddy is going to be just fine.”
Two weeks later, the town said goodbye to Arabella in a humble seaside service, not far from the spot where the tattered remains of her dress washed ashore. Tom said nothing; he could not have spoken if he had wanted to.
As the service ended, the townspeople lined up to offer moments of solace and shared memories of a beautiful young girl before dispersing to their waiting lives and families. Tom stood entirely alone, brooding beneath a yellowing sky that respectfully deferred to the sadness of the day. He had not set foot on wet sand since the day Austin was lost but fate now gave him no choice: not if he wanted to say a proper goodbye of his own. As he removed the small wreath of white roses and baby’s breath from a makeshift stand of twigs, the air grew stale and heavy. For a lingering moment, he stood atop a modest peak that quickly descended on all sides. The sloping hillside ahead and the town behind him existed largely in shadow, deprived of contrast by the soul-sapping cloud cover.
He could have stopped at any point along the water but something pulled him along the shore to a destination he could not anticipate. His mind meandered over years of bittersweet memories as his feet pushed forward, until he found himself at a standstill – overlooking a sea that had now taken everything. For a fleeting moment, he wondered if it would accept him as willingly as it had welcomed his family.
As the winds shifted and the clouds rolled landward, Tom kneeled to float the wreath atop the lapping waters. Saying a silent farewell, he turned for the lonely quiet of the cottage. Mere steps into his journey home, his ears rang with a crackling silence as rhythmic waves ceased to fill the air. Looking over his shoulder, Tom fought a lifetime of reason to accept the scene behind him. From the end of the jetty extended a narrow road amid a swirling corridor of dense fog. At his feet, the wreath now lay at the start of the pathway, encircling his son’s prized locomotive.
Tom reached down to retrieve and clean the toy train, the physical contact invoking a degree of acceptance. Tom found himself struggling with a foreign desire to step upon that path and learn where it might lead. After all, he had nothing left to lose. Still, there were chores waiting at home, alongside an empty new life of solitude. Responsibility had always been Tom’s lot in life. His dreamer was forever gone, as was his light.
Tucking the locomotive beneath his arm, Tom turned for home. As he stepped away from shore, the winds turned again, this time carrying a single enticing echo. Tom turned back to the impossible pathway and dared the sound to repeat. After an endless moment of silence, it did just that, and just once more…
Craig Kyzar is a former award-winning journalist and international attorney, earning his Master of Laws degree from NYU School of Law. Upon graduation, Craig spent eight exciting years practicing law in large firms around Manhattan before turning his focus toward a much smaller clientele. Today, Craig is heavily involved in nonprofit work dedicated to enhancing children’s literacy skills and connecting economically disadvantaged youth with a life-changing love of reading.
When not frolicking in fiction and playing with poetry, Craig’s editorial columns and articles are regularly featured across several news outlets, providing uniquely provocative views on legal, political and humanitarian issues. His heartwarming personal essays have also appeared in journals such as Recovering the Self.