My story “To Walk Chalk” has been published in Superstition Review, an online literary magazine at Arizona State University. (The review staff was wonderful to work with, and they run a great website.) Here’s the link to the short story: “To Walk Chalk.”
The setting for this story stuck with me years after seeing a newspaper ad for Sharer’s Funeral Parlor and Mortuary in my grandmother’s scrapbook. The address for the mortuary was the same as the house my great-great-grandfather had built in 1898 in a small Wisconsin town known for tobacco farming. My grandmother had lived in that house for the majority of her eighty-plus years.
Problem: No one in the family had ever been in the mortuary business. No one in the family had the last name Sharer.
Answer: The family home had been rented out during the Great Depression.
Only after learning this did it make sense why my grandfather had once told me, “They embalmed people in the basement.” I must have been twelve when he said this, and it changed my perception of the basement forever.
The house is no longer in the family, but we have pictures such as the parlor scene above. And now some of my memories have been spun into the short story, even if I modified the description of the house’s exterior to include details from at least two other Wisconsin buildings.