The Story Behind ‘Love Letters’ by Mary Leonard

Mary-LeonardToday’s post is written by Mary Leonard. We published her flash fiction “Love Letters” in our Fall 2016 issue. 

Really, “Love Letters” is based on true experiences: the toilet would not flush, a mouse would visit every night, the air conditioning could not be regulated. I never did meet any of the employees of the Physical Plant but did call or send emails while working in a writing program for high school students and living in what looked like a beautiful dorm set high on a hill on a rural campus. I was thrilled the first summer we roomed there for three weeks. Now we are discovering glitches. Last summer it was the stench of cat urine, but we could not find the cat.

I am not Beatrice the speaker. She is young, naive and very sincere in her letters to Building and Grounds, and each summer the letters become more intimate. I want to continue the letters, possibly have Beatrice meet BG, and I also imagine these letters illustrated. Maybe line drawings or watercolors?

I have only recently started to write flash fiction and sometimes am lucky to get my material from other faculty members in a story exchange we do with our students. You can read “A British Woman Visits Sacromonte” in Blotterature 2015, a story I received from a faculty member who teaches drama and whose story was already surreal as told.

I have always found humor in the ordinary and usually write pieces about my family. My husband is a recurring character very much like the father in A Christmas Story, but my son and daughter continuously feed me material from their lives, and I published those sketches frequently in a Dutchess County newspaper, About Town, which has closed shop. Friends have told me to start a blog. I wonder if BG and Beatrice from “Love Letters” would contribute?

When I am not writing humor, I write poetry and publish here and there and in chapbooks. I read locally in book stores, yoga studios and bars. I have a poetry book now in search of a press: The Dark Inside My Hooded Coat.

I write something every day, maybe to avoid the dark, or, to paraphrase the poet Adrienne Rich, I write because my life depends on it.

About the Author

Mary Leonard has published chapbooks at 2River, Pudding House, Antrim House Press, and RedOchreLit. Her poetry has appeared in The Naugatuck Review, Hubbub, Cloudbank, The Chronogram, Blotterature, and, most recently, in Red River, Ilya’s Honey, and A Rat’s Ass. Her work is forthcoming in The New Independents. She lives in an old schoolhouse overlooking the Rondout Creek in Kingston, NY. Away from her own personal blackboard, she teaches writing workshops for all ages through the Institute for Writing and Thinking at Bard College. Her website is  

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