top of page


Creative Nonfiction Essays by Mary Kay McBrayer


Queen Mary’s official guide says that miniatures should “be fitted up with perfect fidelity, down to the smallest details, so as to represent as closely and minutely as possible a genuine and complete example of a domestic interior with all the household arrangements characteristic of the daily life of the time.” I know that she was the queen, but I’m an American, and I reject that “fidelity.” Sure, with unbounded access to money and artists, an exact replica might be worthwhile, more useful even than the actual artifacts of the time because no one actually uses them. But this is my fantasy; this is my house; this is my metaphor. This is me playing the violin while Rome burns.

Bottom line: cursed or not, when it comes to the contents of the tombs, You need that for later. The curses associated with mummies in real life are to protect the bodies so that souls can later reinhabit them.

Alice-Yu-Deng-header_final-2580-1290x521 Solitude.jpg

In 1794 the people of Guadeloupe briefly tasted freedom. A woman named Solitude decided she’d rather die than go back into chains — but her heroism was nearly lost to history.

“Jolly Jane” Toppan overcame a miserable Dickensian childhood to become a medical professional patients adored. She was also slowly murdering them one by one.


This is what happens when they try to make people into characters. In real life, there is no fourth wall separating their self-sabotage from their audience, and they don’t realize that although they imitate characters on a screen, this is no performance.

You don’t tell him that veterans from Middle-Eastern wars who have post-traumatic stress can’t date women who look like you. You’d be a trigger. You know this from experience. Just because it’s true doesn’t mean you need to say it. 

bottom of page