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Cheryl Collins Isaac speaks to managing editor Emily Everett about her story “Spin,” which appears in The Common’s new spring issue. “Spin” is about two Liberian immigrants making a new life in Appalachia. In this conversation, Cheryl talks about the inspiration behind this story: writing from music and toward beautiful, sensual language. She also discusses Liberia’s interesting cultural history, her writing and revision process, and what it’s like to do a writing residency in Edith Wharton’s bedroom.
The mind works like a solar system, an interplanetary medium to keep things running smoothly. Moses speaks in a memorized whisper, his voice soft, like the warm towel he places on her forehead.
Hawa closes her eyes, drifts with the sensation of rocks pounding palm nuts open, small fingers reaching inside for kernels. They are teenagers again, and he is her caring boyfriend who brings her palm kernels for snacks when she lies sick with malaria. She healsand they celebrate with dance: the small of her back supported by his palms as she melts into a ballet fondu. They dance under the palm tree, pretend they are ballet partners at school, performers onstage. If only things were that simple again.