One night in 1990, a stranger cut the screen out of my bedroom window while I slept and shone a flashlight into my eyes as I woke. A few weeks later, my father came down with temporary amnesia. Although unrelated, these events became linked in my mind, sweeping out from under me the fundamentals I took for granted: safety, freedom, the stability of memory, and a general oblivion to mortality. After the Flashlight Man is the story of how I came to terms with these experiences that threw my life into a whole new light: the self-defense classes, rape crisis volunteer work, writing, and meditation that served as checkpoints along my healing journey while I re-examined events from my childhood and relationships with family and friends. Ultimately, a flashlight turned against me as a bizarre weapon became instead a metaphorical tool that blazed my path, the impetus to reclaim, recast, and tell my own stories, discovering my own power to reinvent my vision of my life.
Nancy McCabe has had her creative nonfiction appear in Prairie Schooner, Fourth Genre, Massachusetts Review, and Puerio del Sol, among others. Her work has received a Pushcart Prize and has been cited twice by Best American Essays. She teaches writing at the University of Pittsburgh in Bradford, PA, where she lives with her daughter.