Exploring the art of prose


Author: Isabella Barrengos

Author’s Note

The summer before college is a tumultuous time that most of us remember with a mixture of nostalgia and panic. When we were eighteen, the prospect of leaving home, making new friends, and choosing a major seemed life or death—the summer leading up to these changes served as a brief, but pivotal, buffer. I remember spending my summer hiking with my friends and vacationing with my family, treating each comfortable moment more preciously than I had in prior years. I saw the ground shifting under my feet and was determined to keep my balance.

For many of us, this time in our lives is merely the first big transition of many. There’s the summer after college, first jobs, first firings, living farther from home than we ever imagined. As a writer, I find myself gravitating toward these moments, placing my characters in points of transition allows me to explore complex dynamics.

We call this liminality in anthropology—the ambiguous feeling that falls over us during a transitionary moment, more specifically during the height of whatever ritual our culture practices for the occasion. My writing often investigates liminal states on a personal level. I don’t develop characters undergoing a culturally recognized ritual such as a bar mitzvah or quinceañera so much as I develop characters undergoing an ambiguous change internally, whether it’s discovering their sexuality or quietly preparing themselves for their freshman year of college.

In “Late Summer,” I examine Roland’s liminal state as he gets ready for college and grapples with his feelings for Hannah. While the former symbolizes his future, the latter dominates his past. Using the backdrop of my own summers on the Cape, I played with two characters who may share a history, but now face different points of transition in their lives. While Roland parts from his childhood and the role Hannah played in it, Hannah sprints toward adulthood and learns who she might affect along the way.


Raised in California, ISABELLA BARRENGOS studied writing, anthropology, and classics at Bates College in Maine and now resides in New York. Her work has been featured in Your Impossible Voice, Capulet Magazine, and Wild Garlic.