From Issue 23: "Nine Lives" by Darci Schummer (Nonfiction)

Nine Lives                                                              

Darci Schummer

Reading Time: 1 minute

"Nine Lives" originally appeared in Issue 23 of Tahoma Literary Review. I was inspired by the tribute that Schummer so lovingly and candidly pays to the women at Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College. A flash in bold strokes to honor bold women who deserve to be seen. Read it here and in our most current print issue, #TLR23. Or listen to Schummer read it: 

We'd love to hear your thoughts on this piece, our latest issue, or anticipation for future TLRs. Join us over at our Facebook page, or reach out to us on Twitter or Instagram. Thanks so much for reading.

Ann Beman
Nonfiction editor


The women at the community college all wear eyeliner, dark and thick. They are wives, sisters, cousins, girlfriends, baby mamas, aunties. They learned to apply the eyeliner by watching YouTube tutorials, by following directions on the internet. They have all had or lost babies; they have all had someone they love die. Their eyeliner looks professional: it never runs. The women at the community college spend hours in the tutoring center. They dream the future. Their eyeliner is from drug stores, cheap brands that cost a few dollars and come in a kaleidoscope of colors. They always choose black. They bring small children to my lectures; their children draw on the whiteboard while I teach the women how to argue, formally. The women at the community college worry about their teenage sons, about what happens when boys are mistaken for men. Their eyeliner is always liquid; the pencils break too easily, are too hard to sharpen and shape. They stay after class to ask for extensions, to explain why they’ve been gone and how they’ll catch up. They blink once, twice, showing the cleanness of the lines they’ve drawn. The women at the community college say, “Me too.” They fight for their stolen sisters. Their eyeliner sails across their lids, forms perfect points at the corners of their blue, brown, green, hazel eyes. When they laugh, it’s loud, long. When they laugh, the walls tremble.