Glossolalia Flash Fiction Winter 2009
Glossolalia is dedicated to promoting the art of flash fiction. Flash fiction is a difficult breed. With each piece being 500 words or less, there’s no time for an extensive plot, nor can characters be developed in full. Now you see it, now you don’t. Words break forth at a surprising speed. We are exposed to a sliver of time, a sliver of light in the imagination of another. Flash fiction is an alive and vibrant form, full of possibility.
GLOSSOLALIA flash fiction - tongues on fire - volume 1:2 - winter 2009 Amanda Bales - Field Basansikis - James Dunham - Crystal G. Folz Ari Goelman - Tiff Holland - Jennifer Young Hui - Anna Jaquiery Marco Kaufman - Rose D. Kaye - Leah Martini - Karen McElrea Thomas Oâ€™Connell - SP - Dhruv Ramnath - C. Delia Scarpitti Adam Jeffries Schwartz - J. J. Steinfeld - Sylvia Szczepanska Kim Townsel - Bethan Townsend - Brendan Yandt - Catherine Zickgraf Glossolalia is dedicated to promoting the art of flash fiction. Flash fiction is a difficult breed. With each piece being 500 words or less, there’s no time for an extensive plot, nor can characters be developed in full. Now you see it, now you don’t. Words break forth at a surprising speed. We are exposed to a sliver of time, a sliver of light in the imagination of another. Flash fiction is an alive and vibrant form, full of possibility. Glossolalia is published quarterly by Glossolalia Productions. Pieces are chosen based on quality, originality, and experimentation. We like to see the places your words will take us! Editor: Kristen Hovet Design: Kristen Hovet & Brendan Yandt Cover Art: Ballet for a Washing Lady by Dhruv Ramnath, 2008; http://dhruvramnath.blogspot.com Contents copyright © January 2009 by the contributors & Glossolalia Productions. We accept electronic submissions only. Please send a maximum of 4 flash fiction and/or 4 cover art submissions to email@example.com. Please send each submission as an individual attachment. All rights remain with the author. Find Glossolalia on Facebook; type in “Glossolalia” and join us for updates and detailed information. Glossolalia is published online at http://www.glossolaliaflash.blogspot.com 2 Contents Catherine Zickgraf Through the Keyhole 04 SP Rorschach 05 Marco Kaufman Milton Visits Arcetri 06 J. J. Steinfeld Scarifying Poetry 07 Adam Jeffries Schwartz Chicken or Fish The Baby Holder Paloma Picasso’s Shoulder The Blessed Virgin of Consolation 08 Field Basansikis The Question Revealed 10 Karen McElrea Ships in Bottles 11 Tiff Holland Standing Statue Kole Kole Murder Show Coffee Cake 12 09 13 Anna Jaquiery Lenins of the World, Unite! 14 Crystal G. Folz Liar 15 Amanda Bales Woman on a Bench 16 Thomas O’Connell If it is Ever Summertime Again 17 Jennifer Young Hui Orange-Drink Flavour 18 Ari Goelman The Collected Works of Shakespeare: A Preface by Monkey #5615 19 Brendan Yandt Local Colour 20 Dhruv Ramnath Another Monsoon 21 C. Delia Scarpitti Sleight of Hand 22 Bethan Townsend Nothing 23 Rose D. Kaye Death Offers Me a Drink 24 Kim Townsel Cheater 25 James Dunham Coming Back 26 Sylvia Szczepanska No Escape 27 Leah Martini Grass is Greener 28 Writers & Contributors Index 29 3 Catherine Zickgraf Through the Keyhole “The fuse is blown,” Tom whispered through the doorway slit. “Something in your room is drawing too much energy.” Granada was still black, but it was time to get up. I pushed my arms into my sweater and followed him down the hall. He touched his candle to the stove, and the gas seethed under the kettle. The cabinets were glowing a flame blue, and Tom leaned in to warm his hands. Over by the tiny washing machine, I waited, cold. Hell fire has always terrified me. But the kitchen is complex. And while hiding beside the sink on the lake of tile, I could slide into the empty corner and then off the edge of the world, gripping the sink pipe, legs dangling and gnawed at by the unknown. So I approach the flame that hungers for water to boil. On the counter is that the canister Mom pulls her tea bags from? That old canister with the orange mushroom lid? She is really back at home in her yellow kitchen, the sun-catcher at her window refracting the backyard pool which Dad had positioned so she could monitor the deep-end while writing – and I can’t breathe. Separating from her is melting my crayoned-in skin, and I’m oozing into the canals between the tiles. Her Hallmark cards still find my mailbox saying I’m stronger than she could ever be. And I’m drawing this shell of an apartment – often lacking electricity – tighter around me. My body is frozen. It’s shameful, as unresponsive at times as our light switches. Multiple sclerosis, we think. So this semester in Spain is my chance at the world. Before twilight, in the blankets of my bed, I was dreaming of Billy, my high school buddy, the genius who walked with an easy confidence. But when he grew up, he seemed to fail at adulthood. The real world scared him. I know demons are real. Possessed in my dream, he tried to flee them through the spiral of his coiled shell. An evil hunger hunted him. He was soft flesh for its mouth. But I don’t really know what went on in that place. Maybe Hell hardened his insides. I couldn’t touch him. I was locked out of his skull. And he was locked in. And then, “something in your room is drawing too much energy,” Tom whispered through the slit. Granada was still black, but it was time to get up. I pushed my arms into my sweater and followed him down the hall. We were tiny spirits haunting the floors of a broken apartment. 4 SP Rorschach He handed me a sheet of paper with ink marks on it and asked, “What do you see?” “Her face,” I replied without thinking. “Whose face?” “Hers.” “You are wrong. You must look before you respond. This is clearly a dark chasm sheltered by a thick wood with shadows dancing amongst the dead branches, and a lurid full moon reflecting off a set of eyes encased in the nook of a tree.” “Oh,” I said, “I think I can see that.” “And this one?” “Her face…before she wakes up in the morning.” “Wrong again, if you focused you could see that this is an image of an icicle as it changes state from opaque silver to pure translucence with warm droplets slowly slipping down its side.” “I didn’t know that there were good or bad responses.” He handed me the final picture and asked indifferently, “What about this one?” “I see a wide sun gazing down through a bright, clear day over a silent city surrounded by an air of tranquil fervour, with stopped stoplights and stationary streetcars and fixed clouds, and a noiseless wind, muted cellular signals, pedestrians paused mid-walking and talking, darkened neon signs with no messages, and a person sitting pensively and intently on a burgundy bench in an area half-covered in shade and half-exposed to light. He is reading about what he is thinking with a mixed sensation of suffering ecstasy in a small parkette uninvaded by the still life, unmoved by the situation around him like the leaves waiting without rustling. And he has a little black book in his hand, and while looking over the page in front of him, he leans back to a restrained relaxed slouch accentuated by a sly smile as though he has just begun to understand a thought that’s been eluding him, and maybe he’s not reading but musing over the perfect phrase to portray an indescribable image because what looks like a cigarette could also be a pen.” “No,” he retorted, “this is a picture of her face.” 5 Marco Kaufman Milton Visits Arcetri When John Milton finished his education, he went to the Continent. He traveled to Pisa and met Galileo, who was in his last decade of life, which he was spending under house arrest for heresy. The poet had idolized the astronomer and thought him a rebel, like himself, and so he was surprised to find Galileo being attended by his daughters, both of whom had become nuns. The poet asked the astronomer how he could allow his daughters to associate themselves with the Church after what the Church had put him through. The Church is our Holy Mother, Galileo said. That the Pope is in error is not the fault of the Church. That’s ridiculous, Milton said. You have the greatest mind in Italy and you’re forced to live like this by that medieval institution. I’d watch my mouth if I were you, Galileo told the poet. This is a Catholic home, and I’ll kick your English ass out of it quicker than you can say “Jack Robinson.” Calvin was right about you people, Milton said, quoting: This is a malady with which almost all kings and princes are smitten; which arises from their not regarding true dignity and excellence as consisting in virtue.* That’s it: You’re out of here, Galileo said, and he motioned to a servant to show Milton the door. Who was that man, Father? one of Galileo’s daughters asked him. Some schismatic Briton, the astronomer said. He’ll never amount to anything. *John Calvin. Calvin’s Bible Commentaries: Psalms, Part III. Glenside, New Zealand: Forgotten Books, 2007, p. 37. 6 J. J. Steinfeld Scarifying Poetry A disheartened poet, stumbling downward, despite a literary output that included four highly praised collections, met a man who looked like a poem, she thinks, in a hotel bar in a city that reminds her of forgetfulness. “I am here to give a poetry reading and I’m terrified,” she confesses after ordering a glass of red wine, building a strange momentum with her words and gestures, not for the reading in less than an hour but for the remembering of what she had written about in her earliest poems, like looking at old newspaper headlines of particularly sad events. She is standing next to him at the bar and he is seated on the same stool he has occupied on a hundred other visits, begging her not to write a poem about his death, as if he could foresee both his death and her inability to deal with death. “May I write a poem about your scars?” she asks more deferentially than she once asked of a past teacher she respected for her gentleness and disfigurement, and the man looks at his scars on his arms, first one, then the other, and says, “I’d almost forgotten about these in my imaginings of new markings. This one is like a swirl of abandonment and this one more like footprints of despair.” The disheartened poet, not finishing her glass of red wine, moves slowly away from the bar, her heart more than a little broken but she can see the man entering her next poem of abnegation and scarring, as he turns his attention toward the woman who has just sat down next to him – the tallest woman he has ever seen, even in dreams and imagination. 7 Adam Jeffries Schwartz Chicken or Fish You're sitting in your chair looking at the rain when she asks, “Chicken or fish?” You say, “What?” “Dinner.” She says, “Chicken or fish?” So, this is your life. You had started out with such high hopes, with late nights and burgers or pizza. Then came Chinese or Indian. There were problems, a brief sushifusion interlude. Now, it's chicken or fish. “Is there a third option?” You ask. She says, “No. There are no new foods – only new restaurants.” You think about this. It’s disappointing but probably true. You say, “Fish.” She says, “Excellent choice,” as she disappears into the kitchen. Suddenly, you miss her. The Baby Holder It's not insomnia; it's more than that, three in the morning is the time of grief, the zombie state between the worlds. There's nothing here. There's no eating, no sleeping, barely any breathing. You put on clothes, go to the hospital, go into the elevator and up to the children's ward and go into the baby room. It should be called the Baby with Wires room but whatever; you're in no mood to quibble. A beefy nurse waves, says, “You're the father?” It's not a question, it's a presumption. You're not the father. You're no one's father. You're no one to anyone. You nod at the nurse. The nurses recognize you as harmless, as possibly helpful, but they never remember your face, and that is how it has always been. The baby's change but the wires stay the same. You look down at the crib, “Can't sleep either? Can't really blame you.” You put your hands between the wires and you both sit down in the chair. You say, “Nothing to worry about.” His head fits securely in your palm. His body curls up neatly against your heart. Maybe it's the rhythm that carries us both off. Maybe it's something else – who knows? 8 Paloma Picasso's Shoulder Paloma Picasso has very white skin. She is also tall. She is not tall for a woman, but tall for anyone. Tonight, at Christies in New York at a party in her honor, she is attempting to look like a Grecian statue. One very white, very tall shoulder is exposed. I’m a waiter, also tall, and I keep knocking into said Grecian shoulder with my silver tray. Five, six times (I lose count) my tray hits her shoulder. Each time she stares at me briefly, mute. She has black expressionless eyes. If she did speak then I'd apologize. I’d say, “I’m sorry. I’m a bad, bad waiter.” And she would understand. We would understand each other. But she doesn't say anything, so I walk away silently. The Blessed Virgin of Consolation Tonight in a square near my house a man was singing. It was an organized event, he was also playing a synthesizer. There was a crowd and on the wall of the church were projected the lyrics: God loves you or something like that. Boys, younger than five, were playing soccer – badly. Old people were sitting on benches – as they do. People were standing and listening, they were not swaying, nor singing, nor doing very much of anything but listening. This was not the way I usually go from my house to the square. But for a while I stood and listened. I read the words projected onto the side of the church: God loves you or something like that. And for the moment they seemed true. 9 Field Basansikis The Question Revealed “Whatever you do, don’t ask why we are here. She hates that.” Maurice stumbled his steps for a moment and clenched his soft, stained hat with both his hands. “God is a woman?” Laurice smiled and partially turned from her role in the lead and gently ran her hand across his shoulders, pulling him towards her for reassurance. “God is a little girl and she loves people who aren’t afraid to show themselves for what they really are.” Maurice’s brow tightened. “Which is?” Laurice spoke softer than she had before. “Mostly children who are all grown up and miss themselves.” This answer confused Maurice and Laurice smiled from her eyes and turned to lead them on. A bird flew song-fully above them in a flash of movement. The meadow and the hills surrounding were in the height of a mellifluous new beginning. Spring was handing out love letters in every direction and Summer was promising only to be true to itself, which is what makes it Summer after all. Maurice thought nervously to himself, “Maybe she’ll like me because I’m a painter.” Then more encouragingly as he envisioned what she would be like, “Maybe she loves me already.” Laurice quickened her pace. “Come on. It’s just over this rise.” Maurice gave strength to his stride and found his heart was beaming, like the sky above him, when he heard the sound of singularly universal laughter. 10 Karen McElrea Ships in Bottles The people upstairs must be building a boat. They’re hammering and sawing at odd hours – but all hours seem odd now. How big would it be? The building will have to come down; the walls flattened, gleaming prow freed to the sky at last. He makes another bottle empty to go under the sink. The others clink when he bends to stow it; blood rushes to his head until he can hear the ocean. Just two blocks down and turn left off a cliff. He hears himself saying that: you can’t miss it. Last night maybe, to someone feeling their way to the lighthouse. Or is this still last night? No, the next; there was daylight between, and hammering. He can picture each stave as it’s fitted in. A big one, this ship; enough for pairs of everything. He’ll be left behind. He remembers when he was one of two and it was all right to be half then. Remembers the safe harbour of a woman, rocking warm and steady in her. The dark rises now like an uneasy sea, up the walls in splashes to cover the windows. Then even the ceiling’s gone and he chokes, as if his lungs are halfsubmerged. Sometimes the walls grow cracks and the world seems so fragile. He’s seen houses built of glass: broken glass, stained glass, one made of bottles still intact – the one he’d pick. If he can’t see the ceiling, how does he know the room spins? But he does. Another empty bottle will stop that. Always the same dark clank. Should he switch to something lighter? All those colours in the store, bottles filled with the oranges and pinks of sunset; the azure of Mexican shallows. He needs murkier waters. Dark rum, going down with a burn. They must hold séances downstairs. He hears moans, the reply of a soul lost at sea. A rhythmic pounding, a woman’s scream. That’s the trouble with living close to shore: the neighbourhood’s crawling with stranded souls. If he were in Australia, would the room spin in the other direction? He lived there once, painting. He thinks he had a studio, but only clearly recalls long days by the ocean – he painted it. Always changing; he had to keep starting over. As children they’d look for hidden sandbars and go straight off the edge: there a cold eel of current might bite your legs as it rushed by, a secret underwater stream. He grips the bed, feels the wet on his leg spreading under him. What colour would he have used for water? Probably the dark aluminum of a storm, just before it takes the ship down in one swallow. He swallows now; he’s breathing water and can’t swim, but he’s not worried—the Coast Guard pulled him out once; they’ll do it again. If he shouts, someone will call them out to save him. He opens his mouth but no sound comes, just a wave of brine carrying another empty vessel to shore. 11 Tiff Holland Standing Statue He stood statue down by the river. It was a Buddhist thing, a Zen thing. She walked the steel tracks to Taco Tontos. Inside she bought a burrito, beef, regular, not the el grande bean that he preferred. The clerk wrapped it in foil, handed it to her in a small paper bag. She sat on a bench and watched his stillness. He wore an Army jacket, no hat. His head was shaved. She thought it was too cold for such nonsense. Two nights earlier they had sex in the ashram where he lived. Accidental sex, she called it. He spent the entire night stroking her body gently, murmuring koans, until her skin was hyper-sensitive. She was sore before penetration, bore the burden of sneaking out in the morning, past the saffron woman in the hall. She thought about him coming to her house, sitting on the kitchen chair and crying right in front of her. She folded the foil away from the burrito. She did not think of the lotus. She opened the packet of hot sauce and dribbled it into the tortilla’s folds. She waited for him to shiver. Kole Kole They walked up the mountain to the pass, the slot where the Japanese planes had flown through. “They knew they wouldn’t come back,” he told her. She already knew. They wore Hawaiian shirts. They always wore Hawaiian shirts. He wore khaki shorts. He had already shown her the bullet holes in the barracks. “The Army doesn’t fill them,” he said. “It’s a reminder.” She was surprised the whole place hadn’t been turned into some kind of memorial, the barracks preserved circa nineteen forty-one. It began to drizzle, big drops rolled off the leaves. They stood at the apex. One side of the mountain, the leeward side, was completely dry. There were even cacti, scorpions, he had told her. The other side was all palm trees and red dirt. They came to the boulder he had read about in the brochure. With a goofy look on his face, he stuck his head in the hollow at the top, the place where kings were beheaded. There was a thick groove along the side of the rock, a place for the blood to drain. Was this its natural shape or were so many kings beheaded its shape was changed? She clicked his picture. She would put it in a photo album. They would squander their time on the islands. She would burn dinner and he would become so angry he would go into the forest, cut down a palm tree with a machete. Now, she put the camera away. They held hands heading back down the path. She lost her wallet on the way. There was nothing in it but her driver’s license with an old address, a name she didn’t use. 12 Murder Show We watched murder shows in the game room. Downstairs our daughter watched Spongebob on the other TV. Every few minutes she yelled up, wanting something: Ritz crackers, root beer, a napkin. I muted the TV when she yelled. My husband ran up and down, serving her. As always, she wore slippers like Ugg boots and leaned forward on the small plastic table in front of the TV. I afraid the table would break, that the steel supports would impale her. Upstairs we had Mexican, enchiladas and avocados, food she wouldn’t eat. On the murder show the head detective pretended to be crazy. He wanted to be arrested. In the cruiser he shaved off his fingerprints with a nail file. Downstairs our daughter’s laughter sounded like a scream. Coffee Cake Mom knew the women from group therapy, basket-making. The women brought their children. The women knew our names. It didn’t seem fair. We were strangers to each other. Mom gave us Fig Newtons, opened the screen door. Dad worked at a rubber company. We had three tire swings in the big apple tree in the corner of the yard, circles of grass worn away underneath. We rode them like bumper cars, careering into each other, the rubber bouncing. We wound each other like springs, let go. From the kitchen window it looked like play. The women ate coffee cake, drank coffee. Outside, we grew tired of each other. The sky bore down on us. The women couldn’t stop talking. 13 Anna Jaquiery Lenins of the World, Unite! In 1917, at Finland station, crowds jostled for a glimpse of him. When the whistle blew and the train appeared a deafening noise erupted, and there were more cries and tears when he stepped onto the platform. He never smiled, just studied the nascent proletariat from beneath his signature cap. Now he lies on the ground, as helpless and dissolute as the comrades who tie him with ropes, like Gulliver. It is minus thirty degrees, the Union has collapsed, republics are dispersing like ice floes. Even Russia is adrift. Lenin’s chiseled gaze impresses no one. The workers laugh in his face, fumes of alcohol tremble across his leaden complexion. Sasha, lend me your knife, I want a memento. Ivan stabs to see if a crack can be made, a chink in God’s armour. What now, what next? A great emptiness remains. The workers stand in silence, wondering. Ivan lights a Papyrus. Snow falls on Lenin’s face. A truck comes rumbling around the corner, its tires skidding on the road. The men look up, squint through blinding whiteness, Ivan raises an arm in greeting. Stubs out his cigarette on Lenin’s cheek. Time’s up, old man. Later a pair of babushkas will walk past this place where Lenin used to tower above them all, and wonder, briefly, what has changed. Nothing, one tells the other. Every day brings new misery, and little joy. Hundreds pulled down, in Tashkent, Irkutsk, Vladivostok. Yet the Great Engine Driver of the Revolution survives. Outside a burger joint in Lovers Lane, Dallas. In a casino in Atlantic City. Calling to each other, lamenting the vision that failed. Whispering, as conspirators do: one day. 14 Crystal G. Folz Liar I imagine the baby I killed had red hair. I can't say for certain since I was nineteen, and that was a long time ago. I only saw him on the monitor at the abortion clinic, and I didn't want to embarrass either of us by staring. Heath had red hair with ends that were split and curled from being whipped around in the wind. Always once during every motorcycle ride through the back roads, a lock of hair would catch the corner of my mouth. I'd spit it out and laugh in his ear, and we'd ride. Five years after I left him, I confessed my sin on a short line next to the question, 'is this your first pregnancy'. Sitting in the doctor's office, watching the receptionist eye The Price is Right while waiting for a copy of my insurance card to slide out of the printer, I felt certain that question was one of those true or false questions; otherwise, the line would have been longer. For the next six months, people I didn't know rubbed my swollen belly and asked if the baby was my first. I smiled, asked if they could feel the baby kicking, and lied like the Virgin Mary to save myself. I imagine the baby I killed had red hair like Heath's other baby. I saw her at Christmas one year. She jumped off the curb outside the mall, and the wind picked up a red curl, whipping it over her shoulder. I stood at the corner, holding hands with my blond-headed son, and watched them ride away. 15 Amanda Bales Woman on a Bench The seat is formed by woven reeds painted green and lacquered to fortify, but they were once golden, the color of the dress worn on her first outing, and of the young man whose thin blue eyes smiled at her. His trousers were creased and worn and his hair was dirty, but his smile had been the straight white line of wealth. Her mother, ever cautious of tourists in their small town, pulled her away. Maybe the green will smear with the sweat of her thighs, work its way into the fiber of her dress until the curve of her knee, thigh, buttocks, is outlined against the material and her husband will see her walking upstairs to change and ask how she could make such a public fool of them all. The sounds of her children will bubble through the courtyard window as she sits on her marriage bed, traces the green lines on her skirt, wonders what has brought her to the day when she will never again draw a smile from a boy with colorless eyes. 16 Thomas Oâ€™Connell If it is Ever Summertime Again It is not your pillow that I cling to. It lies firm and stiff behind me as I sleep, keeping me from rolling over. Nor is it your clothes still dangling on hangers on your side of the closet and tucked away in bureau drawers. Our friends and family encourage me to stuff them into plastic bags and donate them to the Salvation Army. It is the raft that you inflated for our daughter to float upon, drifting around the clubhouse pool. The raft is the last place where your breath remains. Periodically, I uncork the clear rubber plug and feel the warm air exhale across my neck or caress my eyelids. It is like a hidden bottle of wine that I take a small sip from, the vintage being you. Eventually it will empty. The raft is already collapsing upon itself as the air escapes. I try to hold out, knowing I will need it to last through the holidays. If it is ever summertime again, it will be my responsibility to inflate the raft. 17 Jennifer Young Hui Orange-Drink Flavour When we arrived you were in the red-brown yard passing a dried twig back and forth in front of an orange-white tabby tempting her to play with you. Do you remember that cat? It seems you forgot her the moment I stepped from the rusted-red tempo. Thank God for the colour my mother often said. It’s difficult for objects here to resist the saltiness of the climate, even those made of iron and steel. You were quick to point out that the laces on my canvas shoes – white turned red with the soil of this place – were untied. When I bent to tie them I felt the soft pressure of my mother’s hand on my head assuring me that she was leaving. When I stood again I was alone in the yard but for you in your orange and green jumper, and your mother in the back doorway in her yellow housecoat with the faded pink roses. The cat ran away – clever thing. Your orange-drink stained lips made me nervous. I averted my eyes, pretending not to notice. We played Candyland on your living-room floor while your mother chain smoked in the kitchen. I don’t remember the rules, only your lips, the corners, taunting me, daring me to say something. I remained silent, my stomach muscles tightening around the margarine and jam sandwiches we ate for lunch, my hands clamped neatly on my lap while I waited my turn, held tightly to keep me from smacking at your face, at your lips. The lips that smacked in satisfaction after you jammed the last triangle cut sandwich into your mouth, the blueberry dripping from your chin wiped hastily with a bare forearm, the same arm you now nudge me with because it is my turn and I have forgotten my place. You followed the sandwiches down with a gulp of orange-flavoured drink from your plastic cup with the faded daisies, anxious to get on with another game. I should have slapped the cup from your dirt-creased fingers, should have followed the urge then to prevent this squirming, this fidgeting that distracts me now. My turn is over, it’s yours and you have won. My hands unclench themselves in the effort to pick up the pieces, to put the game away. They tremble only slightly. You smile jovially, the smile of one who is accustomed to winning. Your orange-drink stained mouth widens into a grin that is too much. My hands clench again. A gush of red and the trembling subsides. The scrape of a chair leg from the kitchen and the scuffing of matted pink slippers on linoleum tell that your mother has heard your cry. She drops her cigarette into a nearly empty pop can on the coffee table, careful not to start a fire. From inside the dark pantry, where I have been shut away out of sight, I hear water running in the bathroom. She’ll wash away the blood and overlook the stain. 18 Ari Goelman The Collected Works of Shakespeare: A Preface by Monkey # 5615 The room is immense, of course. A very large space is needed to fit one hundred monkeys and one hundred typewriters. And yet, on an individual level we are cramped. Some monkeys are critical of this situation. If our project is so vital, they argue, why give each monkey only a small desk, a typewriter, a limited supply of foolscap? Indeed, some radicals insist that each monkey is entitled to a private room, a daily lunch break, and a desktop computer with a broadband connection. Most of us, though, remain content to simply type. It is the purpose of our lives, and those of our ancestors and those of at least a portion of our descendants. If one hundred monkeys typed on one hundred typewriters, they would eventually produce the completed works of William Shakespeare. The maxim is dependent upon an infinity of time, for clearly each individual monkey may die, each typewriter break before the work is completed. If Rosenhardt’s Corollary is correct, and the universe is actually contracting, it may be that infinity is denied to us, and so our work may never reach fruition. Still, it is a matter of faith among us that the nature of time is – if not infinite – less finite than our finite task. At times, we come close to losing hope. The near-misses especially challenge our faith. Several generations ago, a monkey on another floor typed the entire Shakespeare play Hamlet, with the singular repeated error of consistently substituting the name “Bernard” for that of Laertes. Statistically this is precisely as likely as a perfect replica of the work, yet those papers were deposited in the endless refuse bins that surround our cubicles. The refuse bins are greater than the working space afforded us, of course. We need working space for only one hundred monkeys at any given time, whereas the refuse bins must store the refuse of all generations, until our masterwork is completed. Some whisper that the space now granted to the refuse will someday be given to our creations. Some whisper that the space now given to the refuse was once given to our sleeping quarters. But again the dissidents and critics are a tiny voice against the massive clacking of the typewriters. The fact that this manuscript matches our situation is the merest chance. And yet it was almost inevitable that some monkey in the boundlessness of this work was destined to perfectly describe our situation. Not entirely inevitable, for we could conceivably have completed the entire works of Shakespeare before stumbling through the keystrokes that produced these pages. Perhaps, even now, one or two blatant lies or errors reside within this manuscript. But we believe that this article, too, will someday be completed. We believe it will be inserted as an introduction into the work we will have created. And our lives will be remembered, however briefly. 19 Brendan Yandt Local Colour The buildings in the yard are sloppy. Spilled paint peeling, all postured with a petrified ignorance. Dirty fields all around. Drawn to the jeers and cheers in a pallet-sided tent, I pull back soiled plastic and step inside. See on my left a true master of ceremony, fueling and provoking his captivated audience sitting on my right. Between them, I look up as two obese pigs are lowered by harness into a just large tank of water. An eruption of waves and squeals ensues, struggles and cries as the pigs scream till silence and still water. The crowd, euphoric, with sweating eyes and lips, they call for more, rapturous at the spectacle. The swollen animals are hoisted up from the tank, and with my back to the wall I edge to see their faces. They're dripping with caked make-up â€“ purple-blue eyes, red cheeks, and painted, searing smiles. Mr. Master asks if the crowd wants more. They beg. He fingers for a switch that plays the cries of the dying, smiling swine, he shakes the chain at the base of the hoist, tugging the bellies, shaking the feet. Mr. Master asks, he says, one more time, if anyone, anyone, has ever seen a grown pig die. They split and smolder. Lowering the two again, he hits the last switch, percolating the fighting water. My ears are smeared with the black sounds of a vile roar. I fall back through a break in the tent. Scramble in what might be mud to my car. In, key and gas. The car makes no move and not a sound. I feel some thing approaching from behind. 20 Dhruv Ramnath Another Monsoon Another monsoon. The earth is dark and silences every lotus. Buses are blue with hands dancing in every direction. The first pomegranate is sour. You are reminded of dreamy lands which lead your eyes into more dreamy landscapes until you are so starry-eyed that everything seems unnecessary and all you can do is wait. You may want to listen to devotion between finger tips. This is when you crave god. See the evenings busily gathering in the jacaranda trees...while tepid rain runs down your spine. “I walk at nightfall dreaming my icy fingers burn your sleep-warmed cheek.” We have hills in our blood and wrinkles pierce our skin like knives. We speak stories. The edges of our skies are grey and curled in like toes that want to avoid getting wet. Across the terraces you can hear people laughing and making merry while their little children sleep their desires: their clothes hanging in the heavy night air waiting for long festival white nights. Parvati has closed Shiva's eyes. Everything is dark and roses drip with immense love. Spirits rise from their electric pole homes and push your bodies to palaces you will never know unless someone has told you. But Rahu's eye is clear here. He will make you look for cold things in refrigerators at night, slice water-melons with its taste on your tongue, unfeeling red-hearted fruit, and buy cucumbers in despair. You will forget the sadness of mist, but remember how quick mirrors darkened and streets turned grim, and wait for the same blanket to be fastened over the sky and change the quality of this harsh, unvarying air. Always the ‘where’ of ‘where you are’ is a place in the head established through skin, and you recognize the address not in numbers or names but through familiar patterns of bird-song, traffic, shadows and lanes. 21 C. Delia Scarpitti Sleight of Hand “Call things what they really are,” Ray said, his cigarette glow a halo of light in the battered backseat of his Chevy Nova. “Take this car here, fine piece of machine it is. Know why the Nova didn’t sell well in Mexico?” he asked, and I knew that, like so many other things with Ray, my participation was unimportant. “In Spanish Nova means no va – doesn’t go.” He laughed, inhaling hard on the cigarette, “Get it, who’d buy a car that says it doesn’t go?” I managed a smile, running my fingers over the trail of golden hair to where his fly still hung open and the scent of our bodies perfumed his skin. “Or, like you, Chastity…What was your mama thinkin, givin you a name like that?” “Screw you,” my words were bitten off shards of glass, hurting in my mouth. “I know you will, honey…that’s why I’m with you tonight.” It crossed my mind to cut for home, moonlight raining down on me as I ditched his mildewed hotel-on-wheels hosting who-knows-how-many girls besides me. He’d be sorry. But, he kissed me so sweetly then, I did forget. I forgot about the tree on the hill where Daddy prescribed himself a Smith & Wesson and a bottle of Jack Daniels for his troubles. Ray was good for chasing that much from my head. “Is my name really so wrong for me?” I whispered, kissing his neck. “Oh, Chastity,” he moaned, “There ain’t nothin wrong with you, girl. I’m just playin with you.” But he had a point. Charlene, Caroline, Casey and me, the final unplanned Lenheart girl, Chastity Grace. None of my sister’s names indicated character flaws or virtues. I always wished Mama had wearily said, “Chastity” when their birth certificates were printed, not mine. But after Daddy gave Mama four girls in as many years, maybe my name was more of a quiet request than an indication of what I’d become. If Mama knew the way Daddy would leave us, or if she could have predicted the string of bad boyfriends to follow and how she’d lose both her husband and her high round ass, she probably would have named me Faith because Chastity sure as hell wasn’t going to see her through. I curled my body around Ray’s hips – an errant green vine, all summertime and sex and sweat, marveling at how delicate a man was when you got him in the right place. The thought of leaving was long gone then. I knew I’d serve as bystander to Ray’s life and my own, imagining Daddy’s head cocked back to the side like he was just sleeping beneath the overgrown willow. I’d stay small, stay focused on little aching tremors like how Ray would tell the boys details of every little trick I pulled that night at the Chevron Station by morning. It didn’t matter, as long as he let me play magician’s assistant, my sleight of hand blowing his unsuspecting mind and disguising my virgin heart. 22 Bethan Townsend Nothing They had nothing to say to each other. Potentially the perfect marriage? He spent his weekends looking at her as she sat watching him. Their eyes never met although they stared straight at each other. Divorce was a word which had eluded them, like every other word in the English language as not only did they have nothing to say each other, they literally said nothing to each other. They shared a home, a bed, a sexual relationship, in silence. He sometimes wrote ‘I love you’ on napkins and filled the kitchen bin, she never looked before she emptied it. She was a fantastic conversationalist, worked in PR and made her money by talking as did he at the altar. It was as simple as this, they didn’t need words. What could a word give you that other means couldn’t? He kissed her neck and she stared up at him. She sometimes wrote ‘I love you’ all over the back page of his Telegraph, he didn’t like sport. They knew though, as they sat in, on Saturday and on Sunday just watching and looking. She pulled him towards her and mouthed the sentence. He led her upstairs. 23 Rose D. Kaye Death Offers me a Drink Death appeared different in person. She was clad in a turquoise shift with a twisted yellow scarf as a belt and a straw hat with a red poppy in the band. The airport bookstore was empty, except for her and me; the gum popping teen at the register was engrossed in Match. “Do you know anything about boxers?” asked Death plaintively. Did I know this was Death? Yes I did and I will not explain. Your turn will come soon enough. “Boxers as in fighters, dogs or underwear?” I replied somewhat mystified at finding the Grim Reaper in a bookstore at Kennedy Airport. “The dogs. I’m thinking about getting one but I’ve heard the breed is quite energetic. I’d rather have a more sedate companion at my age.” “You look great for your age,” pretending a nonchalance I did not feel. I also knew that Death was not fooled. “Perhaps a poodle then,” mused the resplendent Death tapping a manicured fingernail repetitively on the faux oak shelving. I shook my head. “No, they are even more high-strung. Why a dog? Isn’t your profession busy enough?” Death pierced me with eyes of indeterminate color, the depths containing the entire universe and every single creature that had ever lived. I was not yet among them. She smiled wryly and shrugged. “It’s mostly automated these days. I only take an interest now and again with individual beings. May I buy you a drink: before your flight? I hear St. Barts is lovely this time of year.” Naturally I declined and furthermore (after feigning an urgent need to use the facilities) decided that New York wasn’t that bad in February after all. I was out the money for the plane ticket and resort, but a bargain at any price. So I told myself right up until the pig truck overturned on the L.I.E and crushed the cab – sparing the driver – and the last thing I remember was Death’s exasperated voice. “I told you St. Barts was lovely this time of year.” 24 Kim Townsel Cheater I open the door to see Chris going down on a leggy redhead. They make waves on our silk sheets, sheets so new that they still have fold marks on them. Chris turns. Wipes mouth. Has the fucking nerve to smile at me. Red has the decency to close her legs. Like a clam shutting, she makes her knees meet, folds her legs to one side. I notice the perfectly manicured toes. The detail doesn’t escape me. It pisses me off, actually. To Chris, I say, “You promised.” I refuse to cry in front in them. I promised myself that a while back. Even if Chris won’t keep promises to me, I can and I will. Chris rises and takes me by the shoulder. I allow it. “Babe,” Chris says in that melted caramel voice. “I know I promised. But I need the experiences. I need fresh love, or the well runs dry.” A smooth hand waves at the sexy room, the trendy furniture, the paintings that I don’t understand. “You don’t want that, do you?” “I thought we agreed.” I make my muscles tough, faking strong. “No more new experiences for a while. And not in our new bed.” Chris manages a guilty look. “You’re right, we agreed. I’m sorry, babe.” Babe, babe. I hate that. I have a name. Babe, babe… Sounds like that pig in that kid’s movie, or the chick in that stupid seventies song that Chris loves. Only another songwriter or a stupid lovesick teenager would love that song. Chris is one and acts like the other. During our negotiations, Red has donned her ridiculous designer garb. “Later,” she says, and has the gall to run her hand across Chris’s naked ass. I feel my neck burn in rage, shame, frustration. They expect me to get past this. They expect me to do this on the spot, as I always have. When Chris strokes my arm, I consider it. Pathetic that such a touch makes my muscles and resolve go limp. Such a small piece of Chris has always gone a long way. So many pieces to so many others. Red blows a finger kiss, not to Chris but to me. I can’t be mad at her. Everyone knows how Chris is. I don’t smile or narrow my eyes as Red leaves. Chris pulls me close and kisses my neck, my portal to secure forgiveness. “You know I only love you.” I stiffen. Close the forgiveness hole. I step out of her arms and get my suitcase from the closet. I stuff it with my cotton clothes from the Gap. I’m quick and certain. She stands, stunned. Her perfect breasts are as round as her eyes. My Judas hands want to cup them but I keep them clenched on the suitcase handle. “Chris,” I tell her, “here’s a new experience for you.” And I am out the door. 25 James Dunham Coming Back The bedroom window hung open, silk curtains whispering in soft breeze, late-morning sunlight warming bright rectangles onto the carpet. Colleen sat on the bed, knees pulled to her chin, hands locked at her ankles. Tendons ridged her feet, skin calloused with forty years, her face blank, framed in blonde, neck disappearing into purple satin. Her eyes stared unblinking, her mouth set closed, and when a horn blared down the avenue, her body remained still. Her husband Marc crouched next to the bed, his back against the wall, hair moist from a perfunctory shower. A frown creased his forehead and receding hairline, a cigar curling smoke between hard fingers, now and then its puffy cylinder drifting to between his lips. He doubted his wife would leave the bed today, suspecting she hadn’t fully left the dream world. He’d woken in a mental haze, but then it’d come back to him: the vacant bedroom across the hall, the sticky-note still curled on the desk, the wordless distance of their daughter Sam at dinner two nights ago, picking at her turkey and then clanking the fork down as she fled the dining room, caressing her black ponytail as if she’d been caught lying. He stood and paced. Sixteen. A child. After talking with the police he’d slept only in denial and doubted tonight would go as smoothly. After twenty-four hours, the police would post bulletins and set up search parties, comb areas like behind the mall or the warehouse across the river, check parole records of the city’s violent offenders. Marc twisted his cigar into the nightstand’s ashtray, then thumped back to the floor, squeezing his pulsing eyes. He saw Sam as a baby in the ER, stained in her mother’s blood, staring back from his cradling arms, now the only child they could ever have. Sam at two in a t-shirt and diaper, interpreting the baby gate at the stairs, him standing, letting her figure it out. At nine, Sam’s climbing those steps, crying, the same day Ricky had “consolidated” Marc’s position, a day Marc loved no one and said so. At fifteen, Sam ending her phone calls when he’d enter earshot, and his pretending not to notice. And sixteen hours ago they’d come home from the Accounting dinner and found Sam’s curvy words on a yellow paper square: I’m not coming back. But maybe, before tonight, they’d hear a knock, open the door, see a small teenager who’d grown up just a bit and wanted to say she was sorry, didn’t know what she was thinking, wanted to hear they still loved her. Maybe. The baseboards groaned as Marc sat by his wife, his arm pulling her close. He kissed her hair, then gazed at the window, wishing the curtains would bluster themselves shut. 26 Sylvia Szczepanska No Escape Her new bed radiated comfort. The sheen of the duvet cover and silk pillowcases reminded her of the beds found in the pages of a glossy catalogue. It was the type of bed she dreamed of as a child, only smaller. Finally, her old queen, with its uneven firmness and painful irregularities made it to the dumpster. A cozy twin suited her much better. She stood in the doorway, surveying the room in a careful way that she never did before, dissecting the area, floor to ceiling, peeling away the drywall with her eyes. It was only then she realized the vast emptiness that engulfed her body. Loneliness always caught up with her. 27 Leah Martini Grass is Greener He sat down and looked at his life. She had asked him to and now he found himself sitting with nothing else to do. He was surrounded by extreme silence, her letter and his thoughts were his only company. A monk came out of the room and looked at him kindly. “Would you like a cup of tea?” He shook his head and stared at his hands. He heard the monk walk away. What was he doing here? He was thousands of miles away from his life. Yet through the window he could see his wife sitting cross-legged and she was forcing him to rethink. Her note beseeched him to. It had taken him years to find her and he couldn’t understand why she found more fulfillment looking like a freak with her hair shorn, wearing nun’s robes, sitting with her eyes closed. He couldn’t make sense of it. This woman couldn’t be the same laughing happy bride on the day of their wedding, especially not the woman who lured him on their wedding night… Sweat trickled down his back and his clothes clung to his body. He could smell the hormones evaporating off his skin and he traced the silvery salt trails on his arms. His toenails had started to brown at the tip, collecting the dust and mud that danced in the air. He could see veins popping up around his knuckles and his skin starting to wrinkle on his hand. He looked at her again. She didn’t move one centimeter. Her spine was straight yet she looked relaxed, her face free from stress. The spikes on her head accentuated her cheekbones and nose, she looked Eastern European. She sat as if there was nothing else to do in the world. Yet since the day she left, all he had wanted to do is find her, his wife. Now he knew he had already lost her. In his mourning, he wondered if he had lost himself too. Her letter was clear, her actions profound and her stillness deep. She was seeking the ultimate release from suffering. He realized he was flotsam on her ocean. He tried to dive into her world but he was in need of air. He was just human, who was he in comparison to this divine world she sought? She opened her eyes, saw him and smiled. And he found himself smiling back. 28 Writers & Contributors Amanda Bales Born: Enid, Oklahoma, USA Now Resides: Fairbanks, Alaska, USA Bio: Amanda Bales spent the first twenty-two years of her life on the Oklahoma prairie. After developing a fondness for mountains, she bummed around several before landing in Fairbanks, Alaska where she now helps Non-Profits find grant funding. She received her MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Alaska in May of 2008 and her work has appeared or is forthcoming in The Flint Hills Review and Painted Bride Quarterly. Field Basansikis Born: Marlborough, England Now Resides: Edmonton, Alberta, Canada Bio: Do you dream you can change the world? Are you lost to find the map etched secretly underneath each thought that passes through your mind? Have you forgotten the chance to re:member the remembrance of who you truly are? I face these questions as a writer and as a human. My highest goal is to serve peace and awareness. Beauty is sustenance. Be it with words or your laughter, rebel! The world is in need of those who remain undefeated. The glory is empty at times, a shallow grave of regret, but in all of us there whispers a wordless, divine eternity. Simply the counsel that sings: Purpose. James Dunham Born: Neptune, New Jersey, USA Now Resides: Fredericksburg, Virginia, USA Bio: James Dunham currently studies creative writing and philosophy at Susquehanna University. He has presented pieces at SU's annual Undergraduate Literature and Writing conference, and his work has also appeared in the on-campus publications Transformations and Variance. "Coming Back" is his first work published outside the university. He is also an amateur musician. Crystal G. Folz Born: Dixon, Kentucky, USA Now Resides: Poseyville, Indiana, USA On-line: http://outsiderwriters.ning.com/profile/crys Bio: Crystal Folz is an outsider writer through and through. In fact, her blood type is OW. She has been published in a few online magazines, including Lit Up Magazine, Dogzplot, Six Sentences, and soon to come in Yellow Mama. When she isn't mothering her children, she creates and edits zines. Ari Goelman Born: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA Now Resides: Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada Bio: Ari Goelman has published his fiction in a variety of magazines; recent venues include Strange Horizons, Fantasy Magazine and Escape Pod (all of which are available online). He is currently working on his second YA fantasy novel, and searching for an agent for his first one. He lives in Vancouver with his wife and their toddler. Tiff Holland Born: Akron, Ohio, USA Now Resides: Round Rock, Texas, USA Bio: Tiff has worked as a 9-1-1 dispatcher, insurance adjuster, creative writing instructor. She writes poetry, fiction, and creative non-fiction and earned a PhD in creative writing from the University of Southern Mississippi. Her work has appeared in over eighty lit-mags, e-zines and anthologies and has twice been nominated for the Pushcart Prize. Her short story "The Boys" was named a notable story for 2008 by StorySouth magazine. Kristen Hovet Born: Williston, North Dakota, USA Now Resides: Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada On-line: http://vesperinlimbo.wordpress.com Bio: Kristen works part-time for a sustainable real estate development company. She spends the rest of her time writing and editing, and continues to pursue acting projects on the side. She is a film buff, adores music, and wants to experience as much as humanly possible. She likes to travel by train. Every 20 years. 29 Jennifer Young Hui Born: St. John’s, Newfoundland, Canada Now resides: Burlington, Ontario, Canada Bio: Growing up on the east coast of Canada Jennifer was immersed in a culture rich in a storytelling tradition. The impact of words and the unifying power of stories compel Jennifer to write. In 2006 Jennifer graduated from the University of Western Ontario with a BA Honors in English Language and Literature. Jennifer is the mother of two boys and is currently at work on her first novel, set to take place in nineteenth century St. John’s, Newfoundland. Anna Jaquiery Born: Paris, Île-de-France, France Now Resides: Melbourne, Victoria, Australia Bio: Anna Jaquiery is of French and Indian descent and moves from one country to the next on average every three years. Moving so often can be difficult but the places she has known inspire her writing. She has worked as a journalist around the world, from Russia to New Zealand. She has been writing on and off her whole life, and while other things keep her busy – particularly two active little boys – she writes whenever she can, in the car, in bed at night, sneakily at work. She has published some of her poetry this year. Marco Kaufman Born: Bronx, New York, USA Now Resides: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA On-line: http://tbbog.blogspot.com Bio: Marco Kaufman is the author of Family Ties of the Tattooed Lady, a chapbook of flash fiction available here: http://www.scribd.com/doc/6204468/Family-Ties-of-the-Tattooed-Lady. He is currently at work on two themed volumes of flash fiction, as well as his first novel. Rose D. Kaye Now Resides: within the mind somewhere between the Pink Elephant and the Padded Room On-line: http://dewyknickers.wordpress.com; http://bawdywench.wordpress.com Bio: The former Rose Dewy Knickers, now known everywhere as Rose D. Kaye, is a woman living in the mind of a male. Not a clinical multiple personality, nonetheless Rose considers herself to be a multiple and exists primarily through the power of the written word. "Death Offers Me a Drink" is Rose's first accepted submission to any publication. It will not be the last. Details of her life will be available in an upcoming book. Future projects include several novels and collections of short stories. Leah Martini Born: Jersey, Channel Islands, Great Britain Now Resides: Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu, India Bio: Leah has been travelling on and off for the past twelve years. She started off in Pakistan teaching English in an out of season Hill Station in the middle of the Himalayas and has randomly placed herself in challenging circumstances ever since. From Ghana to Australia she's made the most of what the world has to offer. Currently she is teaching English in a yoga ashram in India. “Grass is Greener” was previously published in The Gallery Magazine, Jersey. Karen McElrea Born: Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada Now Resides: Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada Bio: Karen McElrea’s poetry, fiction and non-fiction have been published in numerous literary journals and magazines, and on city buses. She believes that authors should be invisible and that the real story lies in the writing. For perspective, she relies on the vast prairie skies over the province of 100,000 lakes. Thomas O’Connell Born: Weston, Connecticut, USA Now Resides: Blacksburg, Virginia, USA Bio: Thomas O'Connell is a librarian living in the mountains of southwestern Virginia with his wife and a couple of swell daughters. His flash fiction has appeared in Caketrain, Sleepingfish and Tarpaulin Sky, as well as other print and online journals. 30 SP Born: Toronto, Ontario, Canada Now Resides: Montreal, Quebec, Canada Bio: SP is a University of Toronto alum who is now pursuing graduate studies in English Literature at McGill University. His work has been published in various literary and academic journals at U of T. SP’s writing tends to centre on that which is lost and his attempts to find it or re-locate it through the written word. Furthermore, he theorizes that an underlying goal of all art is not only to express oneself to another, but also to identify and break down distances: to unite the self with the other. He retains a red beard, like an ingrained secret. Dhruv Ramnath On-line: http://dhruvramnath.blogspot.com C. Delia Scarpitti Born: Delaware, USA Resides: In the same house she grew up in On-line: www.cdeliascarpitti.com Bio: C. Delia Scarpitti is a freelance writer, poet, novelist and editor of the columns department for Literary Mama Magazine. Her work has appeared in a variety of publications including Mothering Magazine, The Apple Valley Review and SageWoman Magazine, among others. With the assistance of a fellowship grant in fiction from her home state in 2008, Delia has completed her novel, Migration Summer. "Sleight of Hand" may or may not be loosely based on actual characters and events. However, Delia will leave it up to the reader to decide if she is the boy, the girl, the cigarettes or the moonlight. Adam Jeffries Schwartz Born: Ohio, USA Now: This year mostly in South America Bio: I knocked Paloma Picasso black & blue in NYC in 1988. Before you were born. Good times. We had big hair then. These shorts were all written in Mexico in 2005, where I lived permanently for 2 years. J. J. Steinfeld Bio: Fiction writer, poet, and playwright J. J. Steinfeld lives in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island. The first word he learned to spell correctly as a child was Kafkaesque. As an adult he has had a recurrent dream – or is it a nightmare? – in which he plays Scrabble with Kafka and loses by several hundred points each and every time. Despite being trounced in Scrabble dreams, Steinfeld has published a novel, Our Hero in the Cradle of Confederation (Pottersfield Press), nine short story collections, the previous three by Gaspereau Press – Should the Word Hell Be Capitalized?, Anton Chekhov Was Never in Charlottetown, and Would You Hide Me? – and a poetry collection, An Affection for Precipices (Serengeti Press). Sylvia Szczepanska Born: Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada Now Resides: Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada Bio: At only 18 years old, Sylvia Szczepanska currently writes as a way to keep herself from going insane. As a student at the University of British Columbia and a part-time drone (aka cashier) at a drugstore, she was enticed by the fascinating writer lifestyle. She then realized that it meant consuming copious amounts of coffee and it was perfectly fine with her. She has been published in Youthink Magazine as well as Voices Visible. Also, she refuses to spell colour and favourite without a U. Kim Townsel Born: Three notches too tight in the Bible Belt… Now Resides: still under the belt, but sighing and dying to return to Los Angeles On-line: myspace.com/townsel_kim Bio: Hmmmn. My fiction and poetry appear in Glossolalia, Salome, Hot Valley Writers, The Chick Lit Review, and All Things Girl. I’m a 2008 Oscars/Nicholl Quarterfinalist. My interviews appear on MovieBytes, DoneDeal, Yankee Pot Roast, and Script magazine. I’m single and staying that way, unless Holly Hunter or Woody Harrelson ask. My two Science Experiments grew into very fine young men. I’ve got 4.0 degrees from the University of Alabama and UCLA. I’m committed to doing something new each week. I’m obviously addicted to action and achievement, what can I say? Who wants to sky dive with me? 31 Bethan Townsend Born: Reading, Berkshire, UK Now Resides: Cheshire, UK On-line: plasticrosaries.blogspot.com Bio: Bethan Townsend is 21 and plans to stay that way for the rest of her life. She lives in North West England but changes location too frequently to pinpoint a particular ‘home’. She is still (unfortunately) a student but doesn’t like to admit this and in an ideal world she’d be based in Ireland writing for a living. She cites her favourite poets as Allen Ginsberg and Dylan Thomas and loves all things Irish, cats and gin. Previous publications are limited to the fantastic Read This Magazine. Brendan Yandt Born: Camrose, Alberta, Canada Now Resides: Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada Bio: Brendan In currently in pursuit of the future, and is sure he'll catch it any second now. He makes a great fourth impression. Catherine Zickgraf Born: Dallas, Texas, USA Now Resides: Augusta, Georgia, USA On-line: myspace.com/CZickgraf Bio: Catherine awoke a year ago and realized spending the last seven years at home with her children meant that she had earned the title of Good Mother. So she sent her previously-homeschooled children to school to enjoy the company of other children. Then she wrote a poem. It didn’t suck, so she wrote another. She intends to pursue her MFA in Creative Writing next year. Her recent credits include a forthcoming poem in the Journal of the American Medical Association. 32 33 Amanda Bales Field Basansikis James Dunham Crystal G. Folz Ari Goelman Tiff Holland Jennifer Young Hui Anna Jaquiery Marco Kaufman Rose D. Kaye Leah Martini Karen McElrea Thomas Oâ€™Connell SP Dhruv Ramnath C. Delia Scarpitti Adam Jeffries Schwartz J. J. Steinfeld Sylvia Szczepanska Kim Townsel Bethan Townsend Brendan Yandt Catherine Zickgraf