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As the third work in a collection curated by Shann Ray, featuring the works of Vanessa Kay, Mary Jane Nealon and Shann Ray; this short story by Alan Heathcock explores theme of "Light and Darkness" from the perspective of Isaiah 61:3.

Isaiah 61:3



Alan Heathcock


Curated by: 

Shann Ray


Short Story

Image by Giorgio Trovato

Primary Scripture

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I watched a documentary about a man who lived as a prisoner of war for a number of years, each day bound in a little hut, very little daylight, very little human interaction. How did he survive? He survived by the strength of his inner life, and that made me contemplate the fragility of our bodies versus the power of everything that is us that is not our bodies. The garment of praise overcoming the spirit of despair in this case is the recognition that our strength cannot not be diminished by physical means, as that place of truth that resides behind our eyes cannot be touched or slapped or maimed. Instead of a prisoner of war, I decided to use a cheerleader as the vehicle for this story because I felt people often separate themselves from the exceptional despair of the world, as if that POW has nothing to do with them and their lives. But if a cheerleader could be touched by despair then it could touch anyone, which, of course, is as true as anything else I could write.

Spark Notes

The Artist's Reflection

Alan Heathcock’s fiction has been published in many of America’s top magazines and journals. VOLT, a collection of stories, was a “Best Book 2011″ selection from numerous newspapers and magazines, including GQ, Publishers Weekly, Salon, the Chicago Tribune, and Cleveland Plain Dealer, was named as a New York Times Editors’ Choice, selected as a Barnes and Noble Best Book of the Month, as well as a finalist for the Barnes and Noble Discover Prize. Heathcock has won a Whiting Award, the GLCA New Writers Award, a National Magazine Award, has been awarded fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Sewanee Writers’ Conference, the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, and is currently a Literature Fellow for the state of Idaho. A Native of Chicago, he teaches fiction writing at Boise State University.

Alan Heathcock

About the Artist

Alan Heathcock

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