You Can Tell Me Anything / Tina Egnoski


You Can Tell Me Anything

stories by

Tina Egnoski

ISBN: 978-1-59948-823-3, 124 pages, $13.95 (+ shipping)

Projected Release Date: August 17, 2020


Tina Egnoski is the author of Burn Down This World and In the Time of the Feast of Flowers, winner of the Clay Reynolds Novella Prize, as well as two chapbooks. She has published fiction and poetry in a number of literary journals, including most recently Flying South, Green Briar Review, and Gris-Gris. She leads community-based writing workshops and is an instructor with GrubStreet Providence. Along with writing, she’s passionate about papermaking and bookbinding.

You Can Tell Me Anything is a clear-eyed, moving collection of stories. Tina Egnoski explores the dynamics of family in all their unexpected iterations. She champions the outcasts and underdogs in memorable prose. These are smart, unsentimental tales with an unmissable heartbeat. ~Erica Wright, Poetry Editor at Guernica Magazine


Tina Egnoski is, quite simply, a beautiful writer. With knife-edged detail, Egnoski draws us into the expansive worlds of her characters at the turning points their lives. She immerses us in their trials so completely, we cheer for them even as we achingly watch them struggle with the deep-heart matters of life that mirror our own. The skillfully-crafted stories in this collection remind us that the people who brush our lives, however lightly, fan behind them a wide wake of experiences, memories, and emotions that are no less real than our own. What a delightful and satisfying read by a writer working at the top of her game.  ~Karen Lee Boren

Do You Believe?

We’re on our bellies, slithering commando-style through the underbrush of Graham Park. My son, Wesley, has clipped a Nerf Vortex around his torso with an old belt and double-striped his cheeks with greasepaint. Very Army grunt. I’m packing my own plastic pistol, a bright orange two-barrel that fits snugly in my palm. Our foam bullets have suction cup tips. At a time like this—hot on the trail of the elusive beast—I should be worried about a left-flank ambush or a blitzkrieg of claws and rabid teeth, but I’m not. We have a better chance of returning home with ticks in our ears than finding what we’re looking for.

Wesley says, “Get down, Mom. He might see you.”

I can’t resist, I say, “How much lower can I go?”

He snorts, his way of letting me know he’s well aware he drew the short straw in the mother lottery.

Our hunt, not the first and certainly not the last, was spurred by the sighting in these woods of an unidentified wild animal. A month ago, at the eastern edge of the park, where a medical building borders the woods, a group of lab workers on a cigarette break spotted a strange, four-legged creature darting through the holly and fern. One of them, a phlebotomist named Beth, described it as a hairless, nuclear rat, with outsize ears and a long tail. “The teeth were as long as fangs,” she said. “The stuff of nightmares.” When the local newspaper ran the story, Beth decided to lure the animal closer. Sliced hot dogs did the trick and she took a picture with her cellphone. The paper ran it the following day, dubbing the animal the Seminole County Chupacabra. The picture is a blurry close-up—maybe her hand was quaking with fear—and all you see is a pair of hunched shoulders and a gnarl of bared teeth.

Since then, Wesley has bled the public library shelves of every book on the supernatural. He has scoured the Internet for sites on the unexplained. Bigfoot and Nessie. The Devil Bird of Sri Lanka and the Monkey-man of New Delhi. Skunk Ape, Mothman, Jackalope. At nine, he has the faith of a life-long evangelist. With enough research, with a catalog of habits and habitats of similar creatures, he will be the one to discover the truth about our very own monster.

I try, I try, I try to suppress it, but I can’t: I sneeze.

Wesley stands up, unclips his belt and drops his weapon to the ground.

“Great, Mom, now you’ve ruined it.” His mouth is a vexed pucker. These days, in all my dealings with him, I leave a sour taste.

“I’m sorry, it was out of my control. Your nose says sneeze, you sneeze.”

I stand up, too, un-crimping my achy knees.

It’s late afternoon, around four, I’d say, by the angle of the autumn sun. Columns of light, hazy with ragweed pollen, flick between maple trunks. There’s a hundred acres of woods here. The animal could be anywhere. The real chupacabra—I should say, the original—is half-mammal, half-myth, first reported in Puerto Rico in the 1990s after farmers discovered dozens of sheep dead and drained of blood, puncture wounds on their skin. Sightings have been reported throughout South America and Texas, as far north as Maine. Could one have made a home right here in our small Florida town in 2018?

“Let’s call it a day,” Wesley says.

We holster our weapons.


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