Date of Award

Summer 2018

Document Type

Open Access Thesis

Call Number

PS3611.A7865 T47 2018

Degree Name

Master of Fine Arts (MFA)



First Advisor

Theodora Goss

Second Advisor

David Anthony Durham

Third Advisor

Justin Tussing


This collection of five short stories and two essays shows women, at various stages in their lives, dealing with darkness. Each female protagonist, including myself in the essays, is confronted with difficult truths about the world around them. In the short stories, the darkness includes a supernatural element that is often, but not always, horrifying.

“Inanition” looks at what happens when a woman, who identified as wife and mother for most of her adult life, no longer has a husband or child to care for. A pregnant, newly clean drug addict is the main character in “In the Trap”. When she finds an item that grants wishes, Angela has to decide if she will wish away her problems, to the detriment of people she loves. Two of the stories, “Sap” and “Crisis Ghost,” are about sisters. While the sisters in “Sap” find themselves ensnared in a dangerous situation on their sixteenth birthday, “Crisis Ghost” highlights the strange and difficult time a new mother has asking her sister for help when the ghost of their own mother appears. Finally, “Through the Cracks” is a disturbing tale about a woman who takes children from their mothers.

The two essays, “Cry,Baby” and “Failure to Thrive,” examine Kastelein’s experiences with dark topics. “Cry, Baby” attempts to unearth the complex feelings that arose when the author’s celebrity teen-crush was accused of domestic violence. Kastelein’s daughter was born around the same time that her grandmother began to show symptoms of dementia. “Failure to Thrive” shows the parallels between the growth of her toddler and the descent of her grandmother as well as the disturbing realization that she, too, may someday forget everything about her life.