Ruby Al-Qasem
The Girls

Ruby Al-Qasem - The Girls

Creative Nonfiction
Ruby Al-Qasem teaches creative writing and freshman composition as a teaching fellow at University of North Texas, where she is… Read more »
Matthew Vollmer
The Subordinate Fragment

Matthew Vollmer - The Subordinate Fragment

Creative Nonfiction
Matthew Vollmer is the author of two collections of short fiction—Gateway to Paradise (Persea, 2015) and Future Missionaries of America… Read more »

The Girls

Ruby Al-Qasem

We grow up barefoot and running: our feet pounding the hard-packed dirt that serves as a road winding into the ranch, our toes hugging the cool green grass of the evenings, or crashing through heaps of furled brown leaves in the woods that stand north of our house. Our mom shakes her head with exasperation because when she tells us to put on shoes, we ask if we are going to town. Mom is from Houston and maybe can’t quite reconcile the city girl she had been with the country girls she is raising, two hundred miles from the city she belonged to once.

Our house is small, though we don’t know it. Our dad built it himself. He owned a construction company in Houston before we were born, but a fall from a building broke his back, and the veterans’ hospital surgeons made him worse instead of better. Sometimes he can’t bend over to pick something up; sometimes he can’t get out of his chair. But sometimes he can ride in a tractor, he can feed horses, he can build a treehouse. These tasks cost him too much, but he loves to be in the hot Texas sun… Read more »