Photo by keightdee

A Return to Limantour

The sublet in Berkeley was our last resort. My father and I had been kicked out of the bottom floor of a house in Sausalito for breaking the unstable leaseholder’s plate, and we had traipsed the cold streets of San Francisco for days, looking for an affordable place. That futile mission had ultimately landed us here, just off of Telegraph Avenue, at the threshold of an ... [Continue Reading]


Writers Respond to Typhoon Haiyan

On ordinary days, this is a magazine of creative nonfiction, inspired by travel, written by women--by which we mean that Vela publishes writing that endeavors to express what is real in a manner that is both curious and connection-seeking, and we do so in the spirit of solidarity. And when but in the wake of faraway disaster does such work matter most? As everyone knows, ... [Continue Reading]

man-o-war photo

An Unwanted Guest

I didn’t see the jellyfish, but I felt it—a searing pain at my ankle that shot up through my leg, bringing me, in a matter of seconds, to my knees in the sand. I looked down and saw its limp, blue body floating away from me down the rivulet I’d stumbled into when the sand along its border collapsed under my step. The creature had gripped me with its tentacles for ... [Continue Reading]


Travels with Carly

“I’m pregnant,” Carly said.  It was only 7 a.m. in Australia and her voice was still raspy. In my Skype box, she looked tired but happy – and totally unruffled – as she followed one confounding statement with another. “And I’m getting married.” “You’re joking,” I said. “I mean… You’re not serious. Are you serious? You can’t be ... [Continue Reading]

Vela Volcano Image #2

The Art of Omission

“Go!” Andrew yelled from behind me, pushing, with all his force, against my back. We were nearing the top of the volcano we’d begun hiking six hours before in North Sulawesi’s Tangkoko Nature Reserve. Now, the forest below seemed like it was in another stratosphere entirely. I pedaled my feet uselessly into the loose soil, clinging to vines and stray branches, ... [Continue Reading]

Slaver of Octopus #2

The Other Side of the Island

The sun was at its highest when we reached the isolated beach at the northern end of Bunaken Island. A few feet from shore, a small woman sat alone on a piece of driftwood, looking as though she had been sitting there her entire life, perfecting the mid-day Indonesian art of doing absolutely nothing. “Selamat sore, Abigail,” my father said, dragging the hull of our ... [Continue Reading]

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When I was nineteen, I burned down a small field of bamboo. It was one of the loneliest afternoons I can remember. I had been listening to a Cat Stevens record over and over, crying to myself, when a Chinese man who lived next door yelled Fire! through my open window, his call slicing cleanly through my self-pity. I ran outside to where a lush patch of bamboo used to ... [Continue Reading]