Triggers

Jessica Barksdale

Anything with small animals.
Anything with small animals hurt, potentially hurt, once hurt. Dead. Dead small animals. Dogs with three legs. Two legs. No legs. Dogs that were never born.

Movies with families where something goes wrong.
Movies where the daughter and father hug.
Movies where the father dies, the mother treads water, and the children flip out, one by one.
Illness, mental and otherwise, ensues. One of the children develops a chronic disease. Dies.

Mention of elephants, sloths, giraffes, wild African dogs, small green frogs with red stripes, rare bugs no one has heard about.

Facebook pages for babies with terrible problems no one can fix. People who are as small as babies with problems no one can fix. Hungry babies. Hungry children. Some hungry adults. Hungry dogs.

Teen novels where the young protagonist is abandoned by her parents. Maybe the parents are dead. Maybe one has just disappeared. The girl must lie, learns to lie, lies all the time. Has empty sex just to get it over with. No resolution in sight.

Any form of art where a pregnant woman drinks. Everything that is unfair. Polyester.

Television shows where someone divorces for no good reason. Marries again badly. Divorces again. Marries again. Child after child is born. One of the parents dies. No one knows where to send the children.

Any place or book or time or location or movie where anyone is abused sexually. The Donner Party. Jail, prison, death camps, internment camps, medieval insane asylums, latrines.

The destruction of any climate—cold or hot. The overuse of any natural resource. Blowing up of mountain tops for coal. Pit mining. Dam building. The raising, killing, and eating of sentient beings, even snails. Even crickets.

Yelling on the radio. On a daytime talk show. Dr. Phil. Phil Donoghue. Jerry Springer. Maury Povich. Oprah. Rush Limbaugh. Bloggers. Blog trolls. Book reviews. Book reviewers.

Dick Cheney with one leg. Dick Cheney with two. Donald Rumsfeld. Every politician from the 1980s, especially the demented ones.

Dolls with mouths and eyes that move, ventriloquist dummies, clowns, marionettes, Sicilian puppet shows, nutcrackers, The Nutcracker, sugarplum fairies, Halloween costumes in drugstores.

Anyone whose plastic surgery is obvious.

Anything that lives and then dies. Anything while it is alive. Anything in its dead state.

Author Portrait

Jessica Barksdale’s fourteenth novel, The Burning Hour, is forthcoming from Urban Farmhouse Press. Her short stories, poems, and essays have appeared in or are forthcoming in Compose, Salt Hill Journal, The Coachella Review, Carve Magazine, Mason’s Road, and So to Speak. She is a Professor of English at Diablo Valley College in Pleasant Hill, California, and teaches online novel writing for UCLA Extension. She holds an MA in English Literature from San Francisco State University and an MFA from the Rainier Writing Workshop at Pacific Lutheran University.

View the website of Jessica Barksdale