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aggregate fiction story

Stars in Her Eyes

Stars in Her Eyes, by Dona McCormack, will appear in the upcoming Aggregate anthology.


Dona McCormack is a disabled writer living in Northeast Ohio with four fuzzbutts, one oversized goldfish-chomping aquatic turtle, and Michael, her devoted partner. When she’s not poking a notebook with a pen (sometimes by design), Dona pokes thread into fabric (always by design). She writes Realism and Weird, she’s published in several journals including SEP.com, and she won third in Reflex Fiction’s Summer 2019 Flash Contest. Dona’s website: https://DonaMcCormack1.wixsite.com/donawrites, Twitter: @DonaWrites, and Instagram: @DonaWritesInsta.


Wind ripped at the tangled fabric of Willa’s clothing. She pressed her dark glasses closer to her face and tugged her sweater tighter around her frame, hugged down toward the sidewalk, away from the spring gust. Away from the smells it carried of rain-turned soil and fresh mowed grass, of churning earthworms and soggy tree bark. She wished that she could fold herself neatly within her shoes—invisible, squarely-fitted-Willa-feet and nothing else, stepping along, well below everyone’s eyeline. She could not do that, so she curled down, toward her feet.

A man emerged from the dentist’s office on the corner and turned her way. Her step quickened, then slowed, then quickened again. A dance of indecision.

He pulled his brown overcoat against the wind and tipped her his bowler hat. She ducked the kindness, tucking her chin in the hollow she had dug into her chest over the many years. Hiding did things to a body. Crumpled it. Compressed it. Obscured it and marked it with pockets. Willa’s chin rested in the pocket in her chest, hiding her face from the man. She didn’t miss his look of disturbance.

When he passed, she stretched her neck a few inches. Pressed her glasses close to her face and fought the urge to look back at the man—had he been handsome? Would she have recognized him? Maybe he’d shared something of the only face that mattered, the one that always said the same words, from a mouth painted with hot pink that stained coffee-yellowed teeth. Ma’s face. Might he have had lips thin and hard from a thin hard life, like Ma’s lips. Maybe those lips would have said, “Those stars will cut you to ribbons, my girl.”

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How and why you should kill your darlings

You’ve probably heard it before. Kill your darlings. Murder them, as some say. Inflict violence on those that you care most about. Do bad things to the ones you love.

What on earth is going on? Are writers destined to be violent people? Isn’t writing a peaceful solitary process?

Of course, this isn’t a literal statement. We’re talking about your writing here, after all.

In writing, you must kill all your darlings.

William Faulkner

Writers (and fans of writers) have a penchant for drama, as expected. We’d prefer to talk about the writing process in an exciting way, especially when compared to the reality in which we sit in a chair and pore over half-empty pages for hours at a time.

So what’s meant by killing your darlings, and why would you ever do such a thing?

Photo by Matt Artz on Unsplash