Creative Writing | CJ Boginski Boston


In addition to my own creative work, I have seven years experience as a Creative Writing Consultant for memoirs, novels, short stories & essay, and MFA applications.

The Etymologist tells of 34-year-old Finn Rilks who, having just had his first panic attack, confronts his painful family past and rising anxiety. With the help of the aging psychiatrist Dr. Michaels, Finn’s deep obsession with the philosopher Albert Camus, and his fascination with the evolution of the English language, Finn sets out to find freedom, regain his position as a gifted teacher, and give himself a chance at authentic love.

etymology n. Before 1398 ethymologye, borrowed from
the Old French ethimologie, learned borrowing from Latin etymologia, from Greek etymologíā, from étymon true sense of a word based on its origin (neuter of étymos true, related to eteós true).

The Etymologist

C.J. Boginski


Finn Rilks had gone numb and his body rebelled. He watched his father dip outside for another can of beer. He kept the cans cold in the snow on the deck. A tightness, like a clenched fist, formed in his chest and he poured himself a stiff drink.


He ignored the food on the table, the shrimp cocktail, potatoes baked in cream, thick kielbasa, Polish bread, the real pickles he used to adore, sticks of English butter, pierogies, and roast ham. He tried not to think about anything. He missed his wife. For the first time in seven years, she was with her family instead of his during the holidays.


He had been against spending the night at the Fulton house, which was what he called it: “the Fulton house.” Not “my childhood home” or “my home” or even “my parents’ house,” just the neutral term “the Fulton house.” On the T ride out, he reasoned his parents would have too much to drink, which meant a long and expensive cab ride back to the station.


“We left out some ornaments for you to finish,” his mother called across the room, a suggestion that, if disobeyed, would leave her moody and cold. In the next room, he stood over the box of ornaments. He ignored his hands, which had begun to tingle as he placed a red apple on the tree. He had the feeling someone else was in the room, but when he turned around he was alone.


He missed his younger brother Thomas. His visits home for the holidays had always been sporadic, but over the past five years had stopped. A month before Christmas, he had flown down to the Florida, Keys where Thomas worked as a fly fishing guide. He wanted to tell his brother something felt wrong, but they ended up talking about trade rumors and drinking beer on the deck of Thomas’ boat.


The tingling in his hands spread out across his body and he felt a burning sensation run along his spine. The room became small as if there was no more air and he gasped for breath. In the bathroom, he splashed cold water on his face.



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