“The Hush In The High Country”

ASU Author/Contributor (non-ASU co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Riley Bennett (Creator)
Appalachian State University (ASU )
Web Site: https://library.appstate.edu/
Lynn Doyle

Abstract: The past year and a couple months have been globally tumultuous with the COVID-19 virus outbreak and pandemic. Following the outbreak of the virus, the college careers we had as students and faculty dramatically changed right before our very eyes. When I began this semester remotely, the second semester that would be online due to the pandemic, I was faced with the choice of what to base my departmental honors thesis on. I ultimately decided to write a series of flash-fiction stories that captured a few individual members of the Boone community’s experiences with the COVID-19 pandemic. I began with creating a short survey and posting it on the Boone community Facebook group, App State Classifieds. The first survey question asked if the individual lived in Boone. If they did not, their survey was immediately not considered for the project, as this was to be representative of the members of the town. Other questions included if the individual had tested positive with COVID-19 at any point, whether or not they experienced symptoms if diagnosed, their pronouns, and they were asked to describe a moment of complete happiness or sadness during the pandemic for me to base a piece off of. Each story was promised anonymity if the individual so choosed, and I have received clear consent of each individual to use their experiences for my creative liberty. There was some difficulty with the survey, however. Some people refused to give their consent to me, making their surveys immediately null. Some respondents gave nothing more to their explanation about their pandemic experience than “I was sad that I couldn’t see my friends.” In instances like this, I decided against using these responses because I would be forcing a story to come from nothing, and I feared it would not be representative of the Boone locals’ experience, making my thesis have less substance and truth to it. Due to these factors, I ultimately had less usable material for my thesis presentation than I originally thought. In parallel to our coronavirus journey so far, though, we must press on. In the end, I have a total of seven unique stories of Boone locals. My goal ultimately was to depict the lives and struggles of individuals throughout this entire situation. I chose a vignette style for these pieces of flash fiction, because I wanted to create the effect of peering into a moment in time in these subjects’ lives. As some respondents to the survey preferred anonymity, I have decided to title the individual pieces with their survey numbers, adding credit at the end for their allowance of me to use their stories. We’ve been tackling the virus this entire time as a whole, and we often forget that collective and shared experiences affect everyone a little differently.

Additional Information

Honors Project
Bennett, R. (2021). “The Hush In The High Country.” Unpublished Honors Thesis. Appalachian State University, Boone, NC.
Language: English
Date: 2021
fiction, flash, pandemic, COVID-19, creative writing

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