Jan/Feb 2022 • Vol. XLIV No. 1 |


This past spring, I found myself logged on to Zoom, attending a virtual memorial for Tilda, the sister of one of my foster fathers. This foster father, a generous and funny and serious man who took me in as a teenager, had died eighteen months earlier from pancreatic cancer—and now his sister, Tilda, had died of the same disease. During the memorial, Tilda’s young adult daughter shared a story. She was following her mother from one room to another. “Are you following me?” Tilda asked, not turning around. Her daughter sheepishly admitted, “Yes. I’m following you.” Tilda laughed, made an about-face, put a hand on her hip, and said, “Baby doll, I am in you. There ain’t no escaping me.” I am in you. The exergue, what French philosopher Jacques Derrida called the Freudian impression. I look up the word. Exergue: a small space or inscription below the principal emblem on a coin or medal, usually on the reverse side.             An exe

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Melissa Chadburn is the author of the debut novel A Tiny Upward Shove (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, forthcoming April 2022). Her writing has appeared in The Los Angeles Times, The New York Times Book Review, The New York Review of Books, The Paris Review online, The Best American Food Writing, and elsewhere. She has done extensive reporting on the child welfare system and appears in the Netflix docuseries The Trials of Gabriel Fernandez. She is a PhD candidate in creative writing at the University of Southern California.

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