award-winning fiction writer (originally from Chicago) currently living in Connecticut where she teaches creative writing to youth and teens and is the creator of Poetry on the Streets in Hartford; recipient of an Individual Artist Fellowship Award in Fiction from CT Office of the Arts; her novel manuscript has placed as a finalist in Sarabande Books Mary McCarthy Prize, The Dana Awards for the Novel, and the William Faulkner-Wisdom Competition for the Novel, and her fiction has appeared in many literary magazines including Blackbird, Fifth Wednesday Journal, Literary Mama, Contrary Magazine, Requited, among others, and has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize
excerpt from Arboretum
Three months had passed since Will last visited his father in the Arboretum. This time, he flew down without his wife and son on a last minute ticket after the call from the director informing him that his father had punched a ninety-one-year-old resident, Mrs. Brenda Thatcher, in the face. Not that Will knew what he could do about it. He was dreading the trip, unsure how to help, but here he was now, the smell of antiseptic striking him as soon as he stepped into Overlook Assisted Living.
He knew that as soon as he entered his father’s room in the memory care wing, he would see him sitting in the recliner facing the door, set in the exact center, watching the TV that would be on too loud; he knew his legs would be splayed apart on the chair’s footrest raised to its maximum height, and that the same old moccasins would be propped barely around his bandaged feet. He knew the curtain would be drawn, the blinds closed, and he was ready for the sour stench made worse by the heat his father insisted on keeping at 85 degrees despite the southern sun. But what he didn’t know, what he didn’t expect was how his father would look. So remarkably different from the last time Will saw him. His father now sat in his chair looking like something overgrown.
His fine silver hair nearly brushed the tops of his shoulders, and his face was covered in what looked like ash from the stubble over his cheeks and chin. He looked like he was part of the room, something growing right up from the carpet or the cushions of that chair.
“Shut the damn door, you’re letting in a draft,” his father shouted. His familiar voice coming from this stranger. This man who’d punched an old lady. How was that possible?
“It’s me, Dad, how you doing?” Will leaned down to kiss him on the cheek.
from Arboretum by Melanie Pappadis Faranello. © 2017 Melanie Pappadis Faranello. Appeared in storySouth, Issue 44 : Fall 2017. By permission of the author.