I have always been a fiction writer at heart, but before I committed myself fully to fiction, I worked in film, writing screenplays and directing films, simultaneously teaching film production and screenwriting. It’s a cardinal rule in screenwriting that conflict is the engine of any good story. Without clear conflict…

THIS IS US

ALS has transformed my body and altered my radar

Photo: Shutterstock

There is a story my father used to tell about me as a toddler. It was winter and we were outside in the snow, my three-year-old sister on tiny skis, me sitting on a toboggan, both of us bundled in snowsuits. A friend complimented my sister on her skiing skills…

Hooray for the mouth. Sing its praises. Such a versatile capable orifice. Gateway to the stomach, conduit for food and drink. Home to the tongue and teeth. Framed by soft pink lips. The mouth speaks. Sings. Whispers. Shouts. Blows. Swallows. Sucks. Spits. Swills. Gargles. Kisses. Licks. Smiles.

Until it doesn’t.

I have always loved reading about science. It often makes me wish I’d become a science writer. There is so much wonder and mystery in science, so much that is known and so much yet to be discovered. But I have developed an unfortunate habit of trying to apply the…

As a novelist, I consider it my job to portray people accurately on the page. I allow myself to fabricate any number of alternative realities, but I must always populate them with recognizable people whose behavior is guided by the impulses, aspirations, fears, etc. …

A moment stands out to me from my early forties, possibly my late thirties. I had just gotten pictures back from development — it was pre-digital days — and I was sorting through them to decide which to put in our album. My husband pointed to one he liked of…

LIVED THROUGH THIS

Living with ALS has changed the way people perceive me, and it’s disconcerting

Back when I was in elementary school, there were always kids who were pariahs. Kids with certain kinds of deformities, or speech impediments, or habits of drooling. We knew we were not supposed to mock these kids, and so we didn’t taunt them openly, but we shunned them in subtle…

When I was a kid and my family was driving back from our annual August vacation in New Hampshire, my mother would always break into song. “On the browning fields the spider spins, and the lambs no longer play, and the cricket now his chirp begins, sweet summer’s gone away…

The crackle and pop, its sensuous mercurial dance, its shifting colors — red, orange, white, blue, purple, green — the mysterious glow of the embers, the impossibility of grasping it in your hand. Fire galvanizes our attention as few other natural forces do. I have been obsessed with fire since…

THIS IS US

I was obsessed with silence long before I began losing my voice to ALS

An image has been coming to me repeatedly of late: falling snow seen through a window. It’s an image I associate with my New England childhood when snow often fell in great enough quantities to keep us home from school for a day or more. …

Cai Emmons

Cai Emmons is the author of 5 books of fiction, most recently the novel, SINKING ISLANDS. Two more of her novels will be published in 2022.

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