The Story Behind the Story: “To the Pool”

The genesis of “To the Pool” was an anecdote I heard from one of my mother’s friends. I was listening in on their Friday Coffee Group, as they call it, and Kathy told everyone a story about an argument she’d had with her teenage daughter. I think the reason her story stuck with me is that I knew she had recently lost her husband to cancer, and I found myself thinking about her story in light of that loss. About a year after hearing Kathy’s story, I scribbled down the first draft of “To the Pool.” The specifics in the story are different than those in the real-life version, but the core event is the same: mom and teenage daughter, having recently lost their husband/dad, get into it over the daughter’s plans to go to the local pool with her friends, and the fight ends with unintended hilarity. I made up the other details, like the brothers and the memories of the husband/dad. Then I sanded the thing down in a bunch of drafts until it sounded right (a writer-friend helped me with this process) and plucked up the nerve to send it out.

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About Kris Willcox

Kris Willcox lives with her family in Arlington, Massachusetts. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Portland Review, Beloit Fiction Journal, Cimarron Review, Tin House online, Cleaver Magazine, and Mutha Magazine among others. She has been recognized by the the Massachusetts Cultural Council and the Utah Arts Council, and is a regular contributor to UU World magazine. Long ago she was a reader for Ploughshares, in the days when unsolicited submissions could still give paper cuts.