Sion Dayson is an American/French dual citizen splitting her time between the United States and Europe. Her work has appeared in The Writer, The Rumpus, Electric Literature, Hunger Mountain, Utne Reader, The Wall Street Journal, Courrier International, Numero Cinq, and several anthologies, including James Baldwin: Challenging Authors, Strangers in Paris, and Seek It: Writers and Artists Do Sleep. She holds an MFA in fiction from Vermont College of Fine Arts and has blogged about the quirkier side of the City of Light for several years at paris (im)perfect. Sion has been awarded residencies and grants from the Kerouac House, the Money for Women/Barbara Deming Memorial Fund, and the Stone Court Writer-in-Residence program. Her first novel manuscript, which also features a male protagonist, placed on the short list for finalists in the William Faulkner–William Wisdom Creative Writing Competition.
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From “Metal Man”
Tonight’s the first time Emily’s asked me up to her place. We just had dinner, but now I’m excited the plan might include dessert. She has the perfect body. Since i first saw her, I’ve wondered what it would feel like pressed next to mine.
“Is that what i think it is?” I say, pointing towards a sculpture sitting on a side table.
“It’s a fertility symbol,” she says. “In the Kivasa tribe, they carve a new statue before each hunt. The man with the biggest kill is seen as the most virile and becomes the statue’s keeper to bless the village with more children.”
Emily takes a sip of wine while I try to take that in. “But yeah, it’s a big phallus,” she adds, laughing. “Does it make you uncomfortable?”
“Symbol of virility,” I say. “I’m cool with that.” She laughs again, and I wipe my sweating palms on my jeans.
When I met her, Emily jangled and sparkled. Besides the instant jump you feel in the gut when you see a beautiful girl, I noticed how much noise she made as she moved. Tons of bracelets ran up both her arms. She wore several layers of scarves with tiny mirrors all over them; I saw myself in a million fractured pieces. She brought her car, an ’87 Volkswagen Bug, into my garage for a routine oil change, but getting to know her has proved anything but routine.
From the Contributor Commentary
I’m always a little wary of trying to interpret my work. Writing rises from the sub- conscious. I never sit down with an idea or theme in mind. Instead, images or certain lines float to the surface and I follow them. There’s obviously a very conscious aspect, too. It’s almost dizzying the number of decisions we must make in a piece; I consider every word and weigh each choice carefully. But I’m also a big believer in not poking too much at the mystery. I love both the craft and the magic of storytelling.
That said, I agree with Flannery O’Connor: “I write to discover what I know”—as well as explore what I don’t. So often, I’m surprised by what appears on the page. Fiction is a vehicle for fostering empathy. I frequently write from a male viewpoint, perhaps because I’m trying to better understand men.