Author Date


Degree Name



Humanities, Classics, and Comparative Literature



Defense Date


Publication Date


First Faculty Advisor

George Handley

First Faculty Reader

Ann Dee Ellis

Honors Coordinator

Michael Call


Trauma, Magical Realism, Short Fiction, Creative Constraints, Seattle, Story Cycles


Crossword is a short story cycle consisting of five short stories set in Seattle, Washington, that revolve around a single character, named Basimah. Her experience with trauma is portrayed through a magical realist mode and explores themes of selfhood, language, art, absence, and presence. These five stories are a representative sample of a larger project which contains twenty-six stories, one for each of the clues to a crossword. The crossword acts as an organizing agent and one of three creative constraints which structured the creation of each story. The short stories are titled with a clue from the crossword puzzle with the answer included in the story’s text. In addition to the stories themselves, this thesis includes story notes detailing the process of writing each story, including the use of allusions, explanation of metaphors, and literary influences. The process of writing these stories taught me the short story form and allowed me to experiment with narrator, voice, style, and genre while keeping the scope manageable. This process also helped me to heal from my own encounter with trauma and find my mature artistic voice.