Category Archives: Freele, Stefanie

When A Foghorn Is The Answer

by Stefanie Freele

What she’ll rent as soon as she gets there—maybe Fort Bragg, Point Arena, Crescent City, Gold Beach, Port Orford—a room on a second floor, one block from the ocean. It will be in a fishing town—one of those industrial-type areas, not a nautical-decorated vacation home neighborhood with anchors exhibited in the front yard. She’ll find a run-down peeling paint building, sagging here and there with a rusty screened door and a drafty bathroom, right in the heart of the fog. From her room, she will scan the ocean through her window, if she’s lucky; there will be a little deck, most likely drooping and not up to code. No matter, as long as she can hear the foghorn and taste the fog. In her duffle bag: hooded flannel jackets, waterproof boots, raingear, books. Below she’ll watch the scrappy jetty-cats wander the streets under dim street-lights. She’ll feed them leftovers from the local dive that carries fantastic clam chowder or terrific fish and chips, but never both. In her room, she’ll read, listen for the every-ten-second foghorn—a rhythm she can count on, rest. There will be no television, no telephone. Several of the cats will have kittens and she’ll take home a tame white one, comb out its fleas and make it hers. She’ll call it Moonlight. She and Moonlight will sit on the rocks during storms watching the last of the fishing boats come in, the air thick with salt, turmoil and the knowledge that all things end and begin here at the ocean. She won’t get to know any of the fishermen, but she might say hello. That’s enough communication for a woman who was thrown from the back of a speeding pickup and broke many bones. Her hair will grow long, gray and humid-curly. Her ribs will always ache. She’ll eat as much damn clam chowder as she wants. Because the room she rents is in an undesirable area that often smells like decaying fish, she’ll stay forever, living cheaply, attaining a tanned wrinkled face because you can still get sunburned on a cloudy day.

Stefanie Freele is the author of two short story collections, Feeding Strays, with Lost Horse Press and Surrounded by Water, with Press 53. Stefanie’s published and forthcoming work can be found in Witness, Glimmer Train, Mid-American Review, Wigleaf, Western Humanities Review, Sou’wester, Chattahoochee Review, The Florida Review, Quarterly West, and American Literary Review. www.stefaniefreele.com

What surprising thing(s) can you tell us about this piece?

    “When A Foghorn Is The Answer” includes a nod to one of my son’s favorite bedtime books A Kitten Called Moonight by Martin Waddell, a tale of a young child who loves to hear the retelling of the story of how she found her little lost kitten by the ocean. In my story, the main character who is purposefully nameless has christened her own kitten Moonlight also. Is the name perhaps retrieved from a subconscious memory of this childhood book? Certainly she hasn’t named it Moonlight as a conscious tribute to her own childhood, because she begun a new existence, one of minimalism and anonymity, a state of mind I often daydream of.

Blown

by Stefanie Freele

On a dark afternoon of half-rain, Rampart planes old-growth redwood seeking the precise intersection between growth rings. This is how he holds the wood: he feeds it in flat and gets the hell out of the way. (more…)