The Fifth WBy Angela Mackintosh
July 31, 2017
In journalism, we’re taught to ask the Five Ws and the Sixth H:
1. What happened?
2. Who was involved?
3. Where did it take place?
4. When did it take place?
5. Why did that happen?
6. How did it happen?
It’s always the Fifth W that is the hardest to answer.
April 17, 1985 (When)
You wake up earlier than usual that morning because you want to impress a boy at your junior high school. You walk past your parents’ bedroom and notice that your mother (Who) isn’t there, that her side of the bed is empty, an abandoned shell—crumpled-up sheets and a feathery impression of her torso, the salmon pink comforter still tucked in tight. Those army corners. Your father is snoring heavily, and you watch him through the crack in the door, the steady rise and fall of his chest. You wonder where your mother is. Your parents don’t get up until 7:30am. It’s 6.