The Assumption of Father O’Roon

Published in Groundwater, a collection of contemporary Kentucky fiction, the story examines issues associated with a priest’s sexual abuse of a teenager. The story also inspired a controversial one-act play by Constance Alexander, which premiered in the West Kentucky Playwrights Festival.

Father O’Roon peered at his watch in the murky light of the confessional. He could barely see the two hands stretching between six and twelve, like the thin silver rope that binds heaven to hell. Well, he had waited long enough. He braced himself to rise from the wobbly bench, one elbow jutting through the cleft between the worn velvet curtains, the other nudging the brass crucifix on the opposite wall. When he heard the gentle push of knees on the padded prie dieu in the adjoining cubicle, he smirked. She had not stood him up after all.

Losing Bobby Flynn

Published in the New Madrid Journal of Contemporary Literature, the story is excerpted from Ms. Alexander’s novel-in-progress, Scenes from the Hunt.

The second-to-last time they were together, when he took her to see “Bonnie and Clyde” in Morristown, he rested his hand on her knee without sliding it up her leg and under her new tweed skirt like she wished he would. During that awful scene at the end, where the young lovers die from tommy gun fire, twitching and lurching like blood-splattered puppets, she felt Bobby’s eyes on her, but was afraid to return his pleading glance. Maybe he knew at that moment he would end up blasted to kingdom-come in some Vietnamese village. Maybe he intended to tell her he loved her. If he had, she would have said it right back, taken his hand, and led him out of the theatre.

Scenes from the Hunt

In its earliest draft, the novel took place in one year, and went month-by-month to chronicle the impact of her mother’s death from breast cancer on thirteen-year-old Win Anderson. Through extensive revisions, now the book stretches over sixty years, from 1956 to 2016.

The teakettle was whistling on the stove when Win burst through the back door. Mrs. Szilagy touched her finger to her lips and pointed upstairs. Win had to put her hand over her mouth to hide her gasp. Maybe she was waking up from a bad dream. She pictured her mother, the only tea drinker in the house, up in her little room, all furnishings intact.

Hair tied back in a pink ribbon, she’d be wearing the satin bed jacket that matched the curtains. She’d smile when Win entered, carrying a tray with her favorite cup and saucer and a fresh pot of tea. Win would tell her about Miss Dinwiddie and how she poured a dollop of brandy into a jelly glass at four o’clock, insisting it was doctor’s orders. Win decided she would not mention the talk about cancer to her mother, nor would she repeat any other family secrets the spinster passed on, but then she noticed her father’s salt-stained boots drying in the corner by the stove.

“Daddy’s home?”

The housekeeper nodded and poured boiling water into the waiting teapot.

“But he never drinks tea.”

Marie Szilagy shrugged and clicked her tongue as she handed the tray to Win.