CNF: I Become My Younger Self

when I comb the Walmart clearance racks for a $2 t-shirt, when I eat three bowls of Reese’s Puffs because my parents only bought it for me as a wrapped gift on Christmas morning, when I apply for a writing workshop and instinctively click “yes” for the scholarship button and am reminded of the hours I spent as a teen hunched over the dining room table with piles of scholarship forms and pens, and before that the hand-me down sweaters and dusty sneakers, the special family nights when we shared the $5 burger deal at McDonald’s, and before that sneaking down the stairs in my faded Lion King nightgown watching my parents’ shadows argue about bills, and before that my dad telling us to trust God would provide, and before that my dad telling us he quit a job, and before that my dad telling us he quit a job, and before that my dad telling us he quit his one good job, and before that squealing while he tosses me into the air—

by Bethany Jarmul


Bethany Jarmul is an Appalachian writer and poet. She’s the author of two chapbooks and one poetry collection. Her work has been published in many magazines including Rattle, Brevity, Salamander, and One Art. Her writing was selected for Best Spiritual Literature 2023 and Best Small Fictions 2024, and has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize, The Best of the Net, Best Microfiction, and Wigleaf Top 50. Connect with her at bethanyjarmul.com or on social media: @BethanyJarmul.


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What surprising, fascinating stuff can you tell us about the origin, drafting, and/or final version of “I Become My Younger Self”?

I was applying to a writing workshop and instinctively checked the “scholarship” button, which triggered a series of memories and emotions for me— of a complicated childhood, that was not all good or all bad. I figured that this experience would make an effective micro piece, but more than that, I knew I needed to write about it, to try to process it. Writing is often how I make sense of my life and the world.

This piece was written all at once, and required very little editing after the first draft. Those are my favorite kind of pieces to write, when they come out all in one rush. What a thrill! If only all my writing arrived so easily!


Check out the write-up of the journal in The Writer.

Matter Press recently released titles from Meg Boscov, Abby Frucht, Robert McBrearty, Tori Bond, Kathy Fish, and Christopher Allen. Click here.

Matter Press is now offering private flash fiction workshops and critiques of flash fiction collections here.


Poetry, creative nonfiction, and fiction/prose poetry submissions are now closed. The reading period for standard submissions opens again March 15, 2023. Submit here.


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