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The Corner Club Quarterly Volume 5 Issue 19 Winter 2016




The Corner Club Press where poetry and fiction converge


The Corner Club Quarterly

Submissions:

Founder and Managing Editor

The Corner Club Press accepts unsolicited material in art, poetry and 8iction up to 7000 words. Submissions must be original and unpublished and conform to submission guidelines outlined on the website. Submissions will be accepted on a rolling basis. Please provide a brief biographical note.

Amber S. Forbes

Send to: thecornerclubpress@gmail.com

Co-Founder

Style: We follow the Chicago Manual of Style.

Daphne D. Maysonet

Alana Lopez

Payment: The Corner Club Quarterly is an online non-pro8it magazine. Published contributors are not paid for their submissions.

Poetry Editor

Website: thecornerclubpress.weebly.com

Trivarna Hariharan

The Corner Club Press, Augusta 30907
 Copyright © 2016 by The Corner Club Press. All rights reserved.

Production Editor

Copy Editor | Screener Katherine Blumenberg Assistant Editors Samantha Mulholland Tiffany Wang

Any resemblance to actual events, persons living or dead, or locales in the poetry/Fiction contained herein is entirely coincidental. Please support our artists, poets and authors by visiting their websites.

Graphic Designer Alana Lopez

Cover art: Engendering Gender by Ernest Williamson

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Editor’s Note

Editor’s Note Needle pinched and rotor smoking…. Alana Lopez, Production Editor The Corner Club Press Image by Ryan McGuire, gratisography.com

Please welcome our newest members: Samantha Mulholland, our latest Assistant Editor to join the ranks, and Trivarna Hariharan, our long awaited Poetry Editor who has taken on the enormous task of collating all your beautiful poems. I’ll keep this Editor’s Note short and sweet because the pieces herein speak for themselves. Whether we are standing on the precipice of a great, life-changing decision, or wallowing on the needle point of life’s broken record, each of these pieces are 8inely tuned slivers, exploring the underlying trauma of our familial ties: the blood in the water; the smudge on the Polaroid; the nagging voice in our head that sews doubt in everything we do. Undercutting this familial focus is a political through line, chilling us with its hollowing effect on our personal lives, on our capability to express ourselves truly and unreservedly. It seems appropriate that after these last few months of mayhem and change, on both the local and global stage, that our poets and writers turn inward for answers. Perhaps in doing so, we can become unstuck from the fragments of our past that hold us still and move forward towards a brighter future where the turntable still spins. Sincerely,

Alana Lopez

Production Editor and Graphics Designer The Corner Club Quarterly


The Corner Club Quarterly

The Nineteen Steps Between Us by Darren C. Demaree Available March 28 Publisher: a...p Press Website: afterthepause.com Genre: Poetry Darren C. Demaree dazzles yet again in The Nineteen Steps Between Us, a series of nineteen slim poems that once more delve the depths of human relationships, connection and community. Praise for The Nineteen Steps Between Us “Boldly Demaree enters our zone with the skill of a surgeon and the love of a brother. ‘I move/ because I can see/ that even the shards/ of a person in front of me/ can be a pearl/  in my own desert.’ This is a welcome gift made double by knowing that proceeds are going to the Ohio Alliance for Arts Education.” —Larry Smith, poet and publisher (Bottom Dog Press)

Drifting Too Far From the Shore by Niles Reddick Available Spring 2016 Publisher: Summertime Publications Website: summertimepublications.com Genre: General Fiction Praise for Drifting Too Far From the Shore “Readers will come to love feisty Charlotte ‘Muddy’ Rewis who, despite the bad news in the world, triumphs by making a difference in her own way. Chock full of humor, Drifting Too Far From the Shore is a beautiful story that makes you feel like you have been transported back to small town America.” —Winston Groom, author of Forest Gump, among others



The Corner Club Quarterly

Contents

Poetry Haikus by Robert P. Hansen 4 1 9 11 84 111 5 Armchair Retina

by Sommer Cullingford

Fiction 6 The Fourth Time

by Nashae Jones 10 Skin and Bones

by Mary Donaldson-Evans 20 For Kathy, Like Everything

Else by Tom Thorogood

7 My Little Wonder

29 When to Jump

by Allison Grayhurst

by Robert Geyer

19 Telegraph Poles

by Kevin Casey 27 sirius (A and B) after curfew

40 Taps

by DC Diamondopolous 47 Asylum X

by Farah Ghafoor

by Ezeiyoke Chukwunonso

39 A New Greenhouse

57 Pretending is pretending to

by Kevin Casey 56 The Baltimore Field of

Dreams by Erren Kelly 60 Raison d’être

by Gary Beck

pretend by Robert Wexelblatt 64 The Underneath

by Courtney Watson 75 Fitting In

by Philip Kuan

62 Political Preferences

by Gary Beck 63 Hurry and Wait

by Morgan Bazilian 73 Discs

by Sherman Scott

86 Contributors


Poetry

His ghost lies between us in your bed, marking how close we can be.

Robert P. Hansen

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The Corner Club Quarterly

Poetry

Armchair Retina Sommer Cullingford

You are everything— deepening, from the ultimate reaches of your blackness to the peeling away of each wedge of shadowed, pitch-ink planet fruit, through to the blazing breadth of your nebula, smeared across celestial bed sheets. In the in8inite tumble, each fragment separates. The 8ields in between burn and beguile, meeting the pupil as my iris reaches to the craze of your 8lame; it’s shape shifting. My lens focus adjusts to project it all for the Armchair Retina, the collective gathered to receive the aggregate —mote by mote—and divine you from potion to motion. You’re expressed, careening down the optic highway to resurrect in unity, where astern my eyes. I am everything— deepening.

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Fiction

The Fourth Time Nashae Jones

T

he 8irst time it happened, I cried. It was a messy sort of cry. Snot congealed on my face. My lips, red and swollen, wouldn’t stop moving; they quivered to an unknown beat. I turned my face from images of

cherub babies, happy toddlers, families who laughed and sighed in familiar unity. I turned my face from the pile of tiny, cotton clothes that had formed an unattainable mountain at the end of my bed. The second time, I felt the numbness climb through me, separating my limbs piece by piece. The pain, stretching 8irst through my torso then settling into my back, was barely noticeable. I sat with my legs propped up in metal stirrups, drowning out the hum of the hospital room. The third time, I didn’t move. I sat on my bed, palms moist, and I listened as my husband cried. He tried to muf8le the sounds, pushing his face against his arm. I had only heard him cry once, 8ive years ago at his father’s funeral. The fourth time, the doctor slipped his hand into mine. He pursed his lips in sympathy, a look that I’m sure was practiced. I sat, staring blankly at the wall, imagining how he looked in the mirror, practicing the droop of his mouth, the odd pucker of his lips. I don’t think it’s wise to try any more, he said. Sometimes these things just aren’t possible. He said it with conviction, and I remember digging my 8ingernails into his palm, hoping—praying—that I would draw even the tiniest pinprick of blood.

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Poetry

My Little Wonder Allison Grayhurst

By the light there broke a heart of no comparison. Hers was the eye of the mountain, the vibration of the tides, and the colours of the Mediterranean 8ish.
 Hers was the lost star found, the end of revenge, the juice of our single moon. In a womb where her legend almost died and the hangman knelt before the doctor's foot, I made a promise to her land and the sigh of her raving waters. I marked her tree in our backyard and bent to wash her hair.
 Hers was a boat that bore no time, a leaf in the midnight air.
 My old joy is the shell of this new one, for she is my workgloves and cathedral. Hers are footprints on the sun.

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ososkiart.deviantart.com

Alone Jordan Ososki

The Corner Club Quarterly


Poetry

nightlight surrounded by gossamer ghosts—moths seeking the tunnel’s end

Robert P. Hansen

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Fiction

Skin and Bones Mary Donaldson-Evans

I

t was the night before Christmas, and all through the almost deserted mall parking lot, the snow was falling softly as the two sisters pulled into a spot near the central entrance. Mary Ellen, the older one, got out of the car

nimbly; she was a physician and she prided herself on her healthy lifestyle. Martine, though four years younger, had “let herself go” and at forty-eight, was overweight and had a bad knee which she blamed on the fact that, as a hairdresser, she was constantly on her feet. She swung her legs around and hoisted herself up by grasping the top of the car door. They were silent as they made their way to the mall entrance. Most of the stores were getting ready to close. It was 4:40 p.m., and the mall’s yellow brick façade was shrouded in a dusky haze. Only Waverly’s, the local department store, struggling to compete against the large retailers, had decided to keep its doors open until 6 p.m. It would be men shopping at that hour, mostly. They’d go straight for the jewelry counter, make their selection quickly, slap down a credit card, and be on their way within ten minutes. The scene was depressingly predictable. So it was that the sight of two middle-aged women who headed straight for the Misses’ Department was something of an anomaly. The women, clearly familiar with the store, went directly to the pants rack, Martine in the lead. “What size does she wear, do you know?” asked Mary Ellen. Martine frowned. “God, I haven’t a clue. But I should know. I do the laundry, after all.” Mary Ellen 8linched. “A size 8, probably, no?” “You’ve got to be kidding,” retorted Martine. “She’d be a 6 at most. Yes, the more I think about it, the more I think she’s a 6. Nothing but skin and bones!” “To you, maybe,” Mary Ellen thought, wondering if her sister would ever stick with a diet. Aloud, she said, “Let’s get one of each. One of them is sure to 8it her.” They browsed among the ladies’ pants: wool ones, polyester, linen blend, pants


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Skin and Bones Mary Donaldson-Evans

with belts and side zippers, pants that buttoned in the front, pull-ons with elasticized waists. “What color would be best, black or navy?” Martine wondered aloud. “Well, the top she got for her birthday has black in it,” remembered Mary Ellen. “Let’s go for black.” “Actually, you know what? I think it’s navy,” said Martine. “Whatever. You know what? I’m too tired to argue.” “You’re tired,” thought Martine. “What have you got to be so tired for? Your life is a picnic compared to mine.” But she held her tongue. In the end, they went for black pants with an elastic waist, which were on sale. But they could only 8ind a size 8. Reluctantly, Mary Ellen agreed that they should buy a pair of navy pants in a 6 as well. They could almost pass for black, and the lighting would be low. Nobody would notice the imperfect match. They took their purchase to the nearest sales counter. Nobody was there, and they had to endure the whole track of “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” as they waited. “Remember when they used to keep bells on the counter, so that customers could ring for assistance?” asked Mary Ellen. “Yeah, well, no bell here,” said Martine. “Let’s go 8ind another sales desk.” And they did. But there was no one there either. Finally, in the lingerie department, they spied a sales girl with streaked hair and a diamond nose stud, tapping out a text message on her iPhone. “Can you ring these up?” asked Martine. “Sure,” replied the salesgirl, without looking up. Five minutes later, the pants had been scanned and bagged, the credit card proffered, the receipt signed. “Have a nice holiday,” said the girl, returning to her iPhone. “You too,” replied Mary Ellen, her voice 8lat. And the two women made their way back out to the parking lot. Night had fallen now, and the snow was coming down thickly. Christmas carols, piped out

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Skin and Bones Mary Donaldson-Evans

through a P.A. system, were wafting through the night air as they made their way gingerly through the snow. Neither was wearing boots. The second verse of “O Holy Night!” had just 8inished when Martine stopped in her tracks. “Oh my God!” “What is it?” asked Mary Ellen, alarmed. “Are those pants made of wool?” “No, I think they’re polyester. Why?” “Thank God. Mom hates wool pants. She says they’re scratchy.” Suddenly, realizing the absurdity of her concern, Martine began to laugh. It was a just little chuckle at 8irst, a kind of a hiccup, but it grew louder, drowning out the canned music and spreading to Mary Ellen who began to laugh too, softly at 8irst, then uncontrollably, until both women were doubled over with mirth, gasping for breath, tears streaming down their cheeks. And then, just as abruptly, their faces crumpled, their shrieks of laughter turned to cries of pain, and they fell into each other’s arms, chests heaving, their bodies wracked with sobs. Clutching each other, snow8lakes melting on their ravaged faces, they stumbled towards their car. Except for the 8loodlights illuminating the parking lot, the funeral home was dark. “Let’s see if we can raise someone,” said Mary Ellen, ringing the bell. Then, realizing what she had said, she added, “No pun intended.” Neither of them laughed. Their mother was inside, her body cold, her heart still. The night watchman came to the door and took their package. And then the sisters went home to the holiday, home to Martine’s house where their two families gathered for Christmas Eve dinner, home to decorate the tree and bake cookies and wrap presents, home, in short, to do all of the things that had been put off in the past several days as they kept vigil at their mother’s bedside, watching her die. Somehow, they got through the holiday. Despite their best efforts, it was a somber Christmas. How could it have been otherwise? Maybe if they had had a toddler in the family, they could have captured some of the magic, but the youngest child was eleven. Nobody believed in Santa Claus anymore; everybody understood

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Skin and Bones Mary Donaldson-Evans

death. They set a place for Mom at the table, and when Dad said grace, he asked God’s blessing not only on the turkey dinner, but also on “Mom’s soul.” His voice cracked. Martine blew her nose. The funeral was set for December 28. Death may not take a holiday, but even morticians give themselves a few days off at Christmastime, and when Martine returned to the mortuary on December 27 to make sure that everything was in order for the viewing, they had not quite 8inished getting Mom ready. She was on a gurney in the viewing room, her head on a pillow, her body covered with a quilt. Although she had not yet been dressed, her hair and makeup had been done. Martine gasped when she saw her: They had parted her hair on the wrong side. For Martine, who had twenty years’ experience dressing hair, this was egregious. She had furnished a photo, after all. What had the beautician been thinking? Martine re8lected wryly that hairdressers on call to funeral homes probably weren’t the cream of the crop. In any case, something had to be done. Mom never parted her hair on the left side. She had a good side and a bad side, like everyone else, and for her to look her prettiest, she had to have her hair parted on the right. She pointed the mistake out to the mortician, who pursed his lips and tried to look aggrieved, in that way that morticians learn to look aggrieved at Morticians School. “Can I 8ix it?” Martine asked. “Well, this is rather irregular, but I don’t see why not,” replied the mortician, bowing ever so slightly. Martine wanted her own tools, so she returned home, grabbed her round brush, her hair dryer and curling iron, her styling gel and hairspray. It wasn’t easy. Mom’s bleached blond hair was stiff with gel already and Martine had to shampoo it—very carefully, so as not to ruin the makeup. Then brush in one hand, hair dryer in the other, she went to work. “I’m sorry, Mom!” she whispered when she yanked a bit too hard, almost daring her to 8linch and to open her eyes. But not a muscle moved in Mom’s heavily painted face, and her eyes were sealed shut.

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Skin and Bones Mary Donaldson-Evans

By the time Martine had 8inished, her face was bathed in tears. She kissed her mother’s cold forehead, then stood back to assess her work. It wasn’t great, but it was an improvement.

“Look at how pretty she looks!” “So natural-looking…as if she were sleeping.” “She looks so peaceful.” The mourners 8iled by the open casket, some averting their eyes and waiting to shake the hands of the living, others stopping to look, to touch, to say a silent prayer. Harp music, playing in the background, set the mood. Nobody said what everyone was thinking, how this body looked like a waxen doll, a pale imitation of the person who had occupied it. The women, however, noticed the perfectly matched out8it with the bright silk print blouse and the smartly coordinated pants. Mary Ellen’s husband and kids 8lew back to Chicago the day after the funeral, but Mary Ellen stayed behind to help her sister “tie up loose ends,” as she put it. Mom’s sick room had to be aired out and cleaned, and they had to arrange for the hospital bed and the walker to be picked up by the medical supply company. There were bills to be paid, thank-you notes to be written, a headstone to be ordered. Dad, completely bereft, was in no shape to help them. It was only when they started going through Mom’s closet and gathering up her clothes to take to the Goodwill that he came alive. Under no circumstances were they to remove a single article of clothing from Mom’s closet. He wanted it left just as it was. When the time was right, he would see to it that the clothing was disposed of properly. They acquiesced. And—the irony of it—in hanging the clothes back up, one item at a time, they came across three pairs of black pants in three different sizes. It’s true that Mom’s weight had 8luctuated wildly in the last year and a half. “Looks like we could’ve saved ourselves a few bucks,” said Martine. “Oh, c’mon, Martine, what’s $30 or $40 against the backdrop of what the funeral cost us?” replied Mary Ellen. “Easy for you to say,” snapped Martine. “Some of us are struggling here, and $40 covers our meat budget for the whole month.”

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Skin and Bones Mary Donaldson-Evans

“Oh, let me get out my violin,” teased Mary Ellen, her attempt to be playful coming across as sarcasm. Martine’s face reddened. “No, seriously, Mary Ellen,“ she said, trying to remain calm. “I don’t think you realize how hard it is to live on the salaries of a hair dresser and a UPS driver. There are months when we can barely pay the heating bill.” “So it’s my fault you became a hair dresser? My fault that you married a high school dropout?” The remark stung. It was probably true that Martine hadn’t lived up to her potential. Until she got into drugs in the eleventh grade, she was a pretty good student. As it turned out, she was lucky to graduate from high school. She was nearly thirty before she turned her life around. But she really couldn’t abide the dig at her husband. It was thanks to Pete that she 8inally got into rehab. Okay, so he had had his troubles too, but his family was completely dysfunctional. He’d made the best of a bad situation. “You can be so cruel sometimes,” said Martine. “Do your patients know this side of you?” Mary Ellen looked as if she had been slapped across the face. “Whoa! This is getting nasty. I think we need some sleep.” Martine, who was just gearing up for a good 8ight, reluctantly agreed. They gave each other a perfunctory hug and decided to call it a day. On December 31, Martine stopped back at the funeral parlor to collect the pants that hadn’t been used. No sense in paying for a pair of pants that would never be worn. The undertaker handed her a plastic bag. She peeked inside. It was the size 6. “So Mom had been a size 8 after all?” she asked him, incredulous. “I haven’t a clue.” “What do you mean? You dressed her in the size 8 pants, so they must have 8itted her?” “Oh, we don’t actually “dress” the bodies in the way you imagine. We usually slit the clothing down the back and arrange the fabric on top of the body. So the sizing doesn’t have to be that precise.”

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Skin and Bones Mary Donaldson-Evans

He thought about pointing out that the corpses weren’t likely to get up and walk again but thought better of it. “Oh,” said Martine, feeling a little sick. “Because of rigor mortis?” “No,” replied the mortician gently, noticing the tears forming in Martine’s redrimmed eyes. “By the time we get to the dressing phase, the stiffening of rigor mortis has usually passed. It’s just easier, and if we do our job properly, nobody’s going to notice.” Although she wasn’t sure why, Martine was repulsed by this subterfuge. Mom wasn’t even properly dressed! Thanks to Mary Ellen, who as a doctor was familiar with the things that happened to a body after death and the ways corpses had to be prepared for viewing, she knew about the other tricks of the trade: the embalming process, the eye caps to keep the eyes from sinking, the cotton stuffed in the mouth to keep the cheeks from hollowing out. Mary Ellen hadn’t spared her sister a single grotesque detail, even though it should have been obvious that this information was upsetting to her. Martine wanted to scream, “TMI!” This was their mother! How could Mary Ellen describe the process with such…such…clinical precision? Maybe it was because her profession had hardened her? Or, more disturbingly, because her grief wasn’t as deep? She had, after all, distanced herself from their parents in a very real way when she moved halfway across the country, to Chicago. It was Martine, these past years, who saw them almost daily, Martine who did their grocery shopping and laundry and paid their bills, Martine who was there, day in and day out, to witness their slow decline. Now Mary Ellen would return to her medical practice, and her life would be unchanged, while Martine would be left behind to help their father adjust to life as a widower. Not that she was resentful, but, well, okay, maybe she was, just a little. Maybe even more than just a little. However, now Martine knew something that “doctor” Mary Ellen didn’t know. As crazy as it was, she felt a little superior, empowered even. Martine returned the pants and got a refund. An hour later, the sisters were seated opposite each other in a booth at Applebee’s. “You look exhausted,” commented Mary Ellen. Martine bristled. “Yeah, well, you don’t look so great yourself,” she replied, even though the truth was that Mary Ellen looked very put together, given the

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Skin and Bones Mary Donaldson-Evans

circumstances. She was catching a 8light back to Chicago in a couple of hours—had to be home in time for a New Year’s Eve party to which she and her husband had been invited—and she was wearing knee-high black leather boots and a grey wool dress that showed off her slim 8igure. Her blond-highlighted brown hair framed her pretty face in a shoulder-length layered cut. Martine, who was wearing an oversized sweater and jeans tucked into a badly stained pair of UGGs, hadn’t washed her hair for three days. She knew she looked like hell, but dammit, she had just buried her mother. If Mary Ellen was wounded by Martine’s remark, she didn’t show it. She lowered her eyes to look at the menu, frowning in concentration. Watching her, Martine was struck by how much her sister looked like their mother. Suddenly, a feeling of profound sadness washed over her. Her eyes 8illed with tears. “Actually, that’s not true, you know? You don’t look bad at all,” she confessed. “You realize how much you look like Mom, don’t you? Same beautiful brown eyes, same high cheekbones…” And same slender shape too, she thought but didn’t say it. Touched, Mary Ellen reached across the table and squeezed Martine’s hand. The moment was sublime: two sisters, united in their grief, reaching out to each other. Mary Ellen’s cellphone rang and broke the mood. It was her husband, reminding her to stop at the Gourmet Food Purveyor in O’Hare to pick up some foie gras that they would take as a gift to their hosts. Even though City Council’s 2006 ban on the sale of foie gras had been overturned in 2008, the delicacy maintained the allure of the forbidden and had become even more popular with the glitterati. “Foie gras pȃté or a block of solid foie gras?” asked Mary Ellen. No sooner had she hung up than the waitress arrived to take their order. “I’ll have the spinach salad and a bowl of tomato-basil soup,” said Mary Ellen. “Mmm, let’s see,” said Martine, feeling her sister’s eyes burn into her as she studied the menu. Then, “Okay, I think I’ll take the bacon-cheddar cheeseburger with an order of fries.” She refused to look Mary Ellen in the eye and thus give her the satisfaction of knowing that she knew she disapproved. It was when they were beginning to eat that Mary Ellen remembered the pants.

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Skin and Bones Mary Donaldson-Evans

“Oh, by the way, which size pants 8it Mom?” Mary Ellen asked. “I couldn’t tell whether I was looking at black or navy.” Martine’s eyes 8lashed triumph. “You were looking at black.” “So I was right! She did wear size 8,” said Mary Ellen, just a tad smugly. “Not really.” Martine drew herself up and sucked in her stomach. “She wasn’t exactly wearing the pants. They were slit down the back and laid carefully on top of her. That’s the way most of them do it, apparently.” “Oh God,” said Mary Ellen, looking as if she had just found a spider in her tomato-basil soup. “How do you know? Did the mortician tell you that?” “Yes,” replied Martine. And then, for some reason—call it the Imp of the Perverse—she lied: “He also said they had way too much fabric. Like I said, she was nothing but skin and bones.”

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Poetry

Telegraph Poles once lined this dusty road, and as their barkless boles withered to the dirt, their glass and ceramic seeds— rain-rinsed, glowing green, white and blue—grew to ranks of telephone poles in furrows along the asphalt, grew fat on our chatter and half again as tall as their stunted forebears, undernourished as these were, on their diet of dots and dashes.

Kevin Casey

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Fiction

For Kathy, Like Everything Else Tom Thorogood

N

o amount of brute strength or diplomacy could help Gwendolyn win the war without sacri8ice. Of this, she was sure: the jar of salsa was a traitor. There, in the white kitchen, she stood, seething at the red

abscess that sat on the butcher's block, a monument to her failure. The rest of the house was a testament to party-planning perfection, and Gwendolyn would have been victorious in her efforts but for the salsa. A party favorite and must-have for any middle-class gathering, it was no rare delicacy. It was a staple. Without the salsa, the chips would serve no purpose. They were already in their pale, blue bowl, waiting to be dipped. Next to them was a space where the salsa should have been. Gwendolyn, in her white blouse and blue jeans, brushed her highlighted blonde hair back to its proper place behind her ear and, for a moment, chewed on her tongue. She looked at the clock on the wall to her right, and it showed her no mercy: the guests would be arriving in 8ifteen minutes. There was no time to go out and buy another jar. For a moment she considered calling Jen and asking her to stop off, but that was in bad taste. Gwendolyn was the hostess—to ask for assistance would send red 8lags to the whole gaggle that she was ill-prepared for her duty as Kathy's maid of honor. There was no other option. She, Gwendolyn, would have to 8ind a way to open the jar of salsa. Countless times in her life, she'd heard that cute little pop that jars make when their freshness seal is broken. This was the one time she thought she would cry for joy at the sound, but it never came. She turned on her heel, nearly losing her balance in her new sandals, but steeled her body before she could topple onto the freshly bleached tile 8loors. With her left arm, she grasped the hot water faucet and turned counter-clockwise. She'd found this trick to work often enough: running the jar under hot water was supposed to expand the metal, so that it’d be easier to open. As she kept her hand under the water, waiting for it to heat to an effective temperature, her mind began to wander. 


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For Kathy, Like Everything Else Tom Thorogood

Kathy was to be married in one month's time and the bridal shower was Gwendolyn's biggest moment to shine. She couldn't let Kathy down. This was an event that was supposed to happen only once in a woman's lifetime. As she 8licked her 8ingers back and forth through the running water, she glanced around, making sure that the salsa was her last task. The balloons hung in the dining room adjacent to the kitchen. The crumbly cake was topped with white and mint-green frosting depicting wedding bells, and a sprig of mistletoe. Kathy always wanted a Christmas wedding. The vegetable and cheese platter glistened, its mirrored veneer re8lecting the “Congratulations, Kathy!” banner that hung across the room's entryway. There, the gift table was barren save for Gwendolyn's white-and-silver wrapped box which contained a set of towels monogrammed “J.E.K.”. The “E” for Ellis, Kathy's future last name, was larger than the other two letters. The “J” was for Jonathon, and, of course, the “K” for Kathy. The “J” and the “K” were tapered on either end, giving the monogram the shape of a diamond. It was a classic design, tried and true. The towels were perfect. Everything, in fact, was exactly as Kathy would have wanted it to be. Everything, of course, except for the unopened jar of chunky salsa. The water was hot enough now. Gwendolyn grabbed the salsa from the kitchen island, and held the metal cap under the running tap, spinning the jar around to ensure that all points along the lid's rim would have contact with the hot water. When she was satis8ied that the lid was properly saturated with heat, she turned the sink off and grabbed one of her own towels to dry the lid. Clenching the towel around the expanded lid as tightly as she could, she twisted. At least, she tried to twist. Still, nothing happened. That didn't stop her. Muscles 8lexed and quivering under the tension, the slightest of groans escaped her throat. Then it happened: the muscles in her right gave up, and her hand lost its tension. The pent-up momentum propelled her hand around, towel in tow, without moving the lid at all. When her hand twisted, her middle 8ingernail, manicured only that morning and painted a half-opaque shade of pearl, scraped the back of her left hand, which was clutching the jar. The nail was sturdy and sharp and sliced the back of her left hand like a razor. The cut was neither deep nor long, but it was enough that a droplet of blood reared its ugly head. Gwendolyn swore and dropped the salsa into the sink, taking the towel and placing it around her bleeding hand. The cut wasn’t painful, a mere sting at most, but

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For Kathy, Like Everything Else Tom Thorogood

it stood for the salsa's lasting victory in its war against her perfect party. Gwendolyn snatched the jar from the sink and set it back on the kitchen counter with enough force that the pots and pans hanging below the island's surface tapped together ever so slightly. She assessed her hot water tactic, and realized that she shouldn't have used the towel to grip the lid. Surely, the minute ridges on the pads of her 8ingers would have provided a better grip, but those hadn't been enough before. There had to be something else—some other, stronger way to hold the lid and build power enough to pop the top and release the jar's contents. She paced the length of the kitchen, wondering what new weapon would aid her in this battle. Her sandals slipped again as she stepped with purpose across the throw rug that lay in front of the dishwasher. The change in 8loor texture from tile to throw rug caused her to grab the edge of the counter to regain her balance yet again. And then it hit her. She had slipped; her sandals had slid—the rug, however, had remained in place. Beneath the ivory hairs of fabric that faced upwards was a mat of rubber, which served the purpose of keeping the rug where it belonged. She remembered being a little girl and lacking the strength and force of will to open the Mason jars that contained the apple butter her grandmother had made and her father had sealed. Her mother, for that exact purpose, had always kept a small square of rubber in the cabinet next to the sink of their shoddy, dirt ingrained, ranchstyle country home. She still remembered the constant texture of dust over everything. Back then, it seemed like she would never be clean, before she'd discovered the joys of bleach and ceramic tiling. A grin crept across her face as she, for the 8irst time, thought that maybe her country-born parents had some good tricks up their sleeves. Perhaps they'd lived in a creaky wooden home. Perhaps they'd had to make their own apple butter and seal it in three-piece Mason jars. But little rubber squares, those were indispensible. She ripped the throw rug from the 8loor, exposing its rubber bottom, and was glad that her primitive childhood had at least given her this ally in her war against the salsa. Gwendolyn folded the rug in her right hand and wrapped it to obtain the best possible grip. With her left hand, still marked with the drop of blood, she again seized the salsa. She held it out at arm's reach, in case this worked and the jar, in its 8inal

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For Kathy, Like Everything Else Tom Thorogood

moments, splattered her with a portion of its own peppery blood. Bearing down with all the pressure she could manage, she twisted. She strained her ears for the soft hiss of air rushing into the jar, for the salsa jar's sigh of defeat. However, the only sound that came was of her own heavy breathing. She'd learned her lesson from the towel method and decided to call it quits before falling victim to her nails once again. This time she slammed the jar back down, and the pots and pans echoed louder than before. The throw rug, released from her service, sat crumpled at her feet. A wild idea crept into her brain, and caused her again to glance at the clock. She had six minutes until the guests arrived. She knew she was crazy for even considering it, but all other options had failed But this new idea—this was the equivalent of the nuclear bomb. This would be more than opening a jar of salsa. This would be the undoing of hours of cleaning. It would be the ultimate decimation of all the protective elements against that glass cylinder. It would be loud; she'd never hear the seal of freshness pop. She'd probably even have to change her clothes. She gritted her teeth with unresolved questions, weighing the pros versus the cons of the ultimate attack. Could she do it all in six minutes? Turning her back on the salsa once more, she again walked the length of the counter tops, 8ingering each drawer handle in turn. The last drawer contained the weapon. Was there really no other way? She had to have chips and salsa. The salsa was even Kathy's favorite brand and level of spiciness! She'd been in cahoots with Jonathon just to make sure that everything would be to Kathy's liking; Kathy was a renowned picky eater. To not offer the salsa after all the planning, to offer only chips or, worse yet, no chips at all, would be throwing away the advice of her old friend. She'd enjoyed plotting these details with Jonathon, the phone calls while he was at work and away from Kathy, the lunch date they'd had to discuss proper weight and frosting content of the cake, the brief moment that Gwendolyn thought his right hand may have brushed her left as he reached for the check. For Jonathon, she would get the salsa open. No, for Kathy! It had to be for Kathy. She felt the back of her left hand where her imagination told her Jonathon had brushed it. There was blood there now. There was blood there because she was throwing a party for Kathy, who'd met Jonathon merely

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For Kathy, Like Everything Else Tom Thorogood

a year ago at a Christmas party that Gwendolyn had hosted. There was a crumpled rug on a pristine 8loor, a drop of blood on what was once a pure white towel. There was an unopened jar of salsa for Kathy on the kitchen island to accompany the chips for Kathy that sat in the next room under the beautiful, stupid banner that read “Congratulations, Kathy!” “Congratulations, Kathy, on stealing Jonathon” was what Gwendolyn had wanted to print instead. Here, Kathy, have some monogrammed towels! And that's not all! Just wait until you see the crystal champagne Flutes I got for your wedding gift! You can use the towels to clean up after you puke from too much champagne. I do hope you don't break the Flutes when you take a drunken tumble. Gwendolyn reached the last drawer. She slowly pulled it open. The glimmer of her weapon re8lected in her eyes, now gleaming with a sense of retribution. At precisely seven o'clock, Gwendolyn, now in a fresh blue blouse and black pants, heard the front door utter the slightest of squeaks while swinging inward. The powerful click of a high-heeled shoe echoed upward from the foyer. Gwendolyn breathed through her nose, eyes closed. Kathy had arrived. “Gwenny?” she called. Her nasal voice made Gwendolyn's skin crawl. “It's me.” Me. As if she expected a trumpet fanfare to begin as she clacked her way into the dining room to survey Gwendolyn's handiwork. Gwendolyn took a seat on the top step of her staircase, waiting to see exactly what Kathy would do when she saw the kitchen. From her position, she could just see the corner of the gift table where only minutes ago the box of monogrammed towels had been. She wasn't at all sure she'd done the right thing. Given the chance, and a few rational count-to-ten breaths, she would probably have gone back and done—well, she didn't know what, but certainly it would have been a better idea than putting Kathy through this. Oh, well, too late. No going back now. “Oh, Gwendolyn, this all looks marvelous! You've outdone yourself. Is that goat cheese? I was just telling Jonathon the other day how much I simply love goat cheese.” Gwendolyn pursed her lips. She'd only bought it because Jonathon told her Kathy thought it tasted “like barn”. Gwendolyn clenched her stomach. Any second now.

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For Kathy, Like Everything Else Tom Thorogood

“Oh, this cake looks immaculate. Is that real mistletoe, though? You know that stuff's poisonous! And tortilla chips! I guess the salsa's in the fridge?” There was a pause. “Where are you, anyways? If you girls are hiding somewhere, I swear I'll—” Have a heart attack. Gwendolyn raised her eyebrows. If only it were that simple. Kathy's heels into the kitchen and slowed. There was a grinding crunch as her heel drove down on a dime-sized piece of glass. Gwendolyn's stomach erupted. The sudden desire to vomit forced her to close her eyes and think of something peaceful. She thought of the sycamore tree. Her haven from the drafty indoors, and the curt squelch of her mother's staccato conversation. Where, in her youth, she'd 8lip through stylish magazines, absentmindedly tearing at the fringe of her denim cutoffs so that maybe, from a distance, someone might think they were legitimate shorts. Where, only just over a year ago, after Kathy's parents had died in a car crash, the two of them sat up all night one Saturday with a bottle of cheap Cabernet. Gwendolyn had invited her out to the country for the weekend. She was going to visit her parents, and thought Kathy could use some time away. Gwendolyn's eyes 8lashed open. Even the sacred sycamore now held traces of Kathy. How her mother had laughed so heartily at Kathy's jokes. How she'd pulled Kathy into a pitiful hug at the end. “Your parents are wonderful!” Kathy had said in the car, “And I'm so jealous of that house! Growing up there must have been just—well, better than the suburbs, anyway. Running around in those 8ields. And when you'd had an apple orchard—why didn't you ever tell me about any of that? Oh, thank you so much for taking me.” Gwendolyn had smiled at her then. “Oh, just wait until next weekend. Christmas party, remember? I've got a friend I'd think you'd like...” But she hadn't meant Jonathon. Not her undergrad bon ami now complete with a law degree. Jonathon the lawyer and Gwendolyn the non-pro8it fundraiser. That was how she'd meant for it all to happen. Not Kathy, the graphic designer, the life of the party, the one you couldn't help but like, even though she always ordered her dressing on the side and left two small bites of every dessert on the plate. Even though she never once bothered to ask whether Gwendolyn approved of her dating Jonathon.

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For Kathy, Like Everything Else Tom Thorogood

All of a sudden it was “Jonathon took me out to dinner”, and “met his parents”, and “look at the ring he bought me!” Engagement parties and wedding gown choosing and stubborn jars of chunky fucking salsa. Oh, God, the salsa. Gwendolyn found herself rising to her feet and descending the Berber-carpeted stairs, rounding the corner, slipping in her sandals as she tried to reach Kathy before she realized—before she noticed the towels. The salsa was one thing, but the towels were the gauntlet, thrown to the 8loor, covered in red and glass, a ball peen hammer resting self-satis8ied on top of them. The rubber-backed throw rug, also salsa-stained, sat in its sad heap at the feet of the butcher's block. And there, Kathy stood in her stunning, tight dress of the same electric blue as Gwendolyn's blouse. God, how it suited her. Those toned calves were just visible beneath the hemline, tapering to her stupid, perfect ankles. She wore the latest shoes from the Prada line. The beast swung, startled around at Gwendolyn's approach, a look of fear and disbelief on that irresistible face. She'd noticed the towels. The J.E.K. emblazoned symbols of unity and cleanliness were ruined. When Kathy spoke, she lacked her usual bounce and whimsical air. “You hate me, don't you?” It was out before Gwendolyn could draft a response. No, of course she didn't hate her. She did, but not like that. Not really. She was just jealous, that’s all. But that extra moment of thinking, that half-second of hesitation was all that mattered to Kathy. Kathy understood. Gwendolyn grabbed at her dress as Kathy passed, trying to stop her, to explain, to apologize, but Kathy's sharp hands brushed her off with silent ease. The door swung inward, squeaking slightly, and snapped shut.

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Poetry

sirius (A and B) after curfew Farah Ghafoor We pretend to be dead underneath the stars hoping they’ll be curious enough to come down and pick us out of the ground. Our skin is ballroom music to be waltzed to, in empty palaces built for children. We are street kids playing king and queen of a surrendered land. We smell like the malnutrition of 8ire, bare sticks carve out our bloated bellies and organs; hearts are too fragile, not marshmallows to be roasted. We lick each other’s tears, before they reach our chins to check if they taste sweet so we can still claim them as ours. We are starving dogs; rough and mangy, tongues lolling. Our barks still making each other jump. But why need compasses when we belong to no one else.

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danielgrzeszkiewicz.deviantart.com

Something Stupid Daniel Grzeszkiewicz

The Corner Club Quarterly


Fiction

When to Jump Robert Geyer

W

hen the cop pokes at me with his nightstick, I curl up into a tight little ball deep inside my sleeping bag. Even at eighteen, I can still make believe like a little girl that if I can’t see him, then he can’t see

me. I keep my eyes closed like that might help. “Time to get up.” He taps me a second time with the baton’s stiff tip. I pull Ginger so close that her short fur tickles my nose, her muscled rib cage rising and falling with each breath. “I’m not asking again. You need to pack up and move.” The cop slowly peels back my mottled blue polyester sleeping bag. Ginger is dead asleep, which is a good thing, because if she were awake she’d be showing the cop every single one of her snarly teeth. I squint in the early morning light and look up to see the cop’s face twist into a pretzel of surprise. I’m clearly not the smelly, dirty bum he is expecting to 8ind. Instead he 8inds me: a smelly, dirty girl, all alone, sleeping with my pit bull bodyguard in a dingy alcove next to one of Fisherman’s Wharf’s cheesy tourist restaurants. On instinct, my face silently snaps him my best “really, dude?” look, but when I look up all I can see is the barrel of his thunder club, like he’s dying to show me all of the horrible things he can do to me with it. “You’re a little young to be out here on your own.” He looks over his shoulder back towards Beach Street and yells out, “Hey, Chang, need you over here.” The only thing my tired brain can do is worry about what will happen to Ginger if they decide to take me away. Instead of another agro male cop, Of8icer Chang is female, and pretty, not nearly as butch as I would have guessed a female cop to be. She hooks her thumbs into her utility belt, like her 8ingers need a little break from all of the walking around and waking people up. “How old are you?” “Eighteen.”
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When to Jump Robert Geyer

“Eighteen? You look like you’re fourteen, maybe 8ifteen max. You got ID?” I reach over the top of Ginger who is still sleeping like the end of the world has come and gone. I pull my ID out of the front pocket of my backpack and hand it up to Of8icer Chang. “Well, Alice, this says you’re legal so I can’t drag you down to juvey to get you some food and maybe a shower, but you can’t stay here either, so you’ll need to pick up and get moving.” The last time I heard anyone say my name out loud was two months ago, a few seconds before I accepted my high school diploma: “Alice Marie Evans, graduate with distinction.” Crossing the stage, knowing not a single person was there to see me graduate, I felt like a breath being exhaled, my life being dispersed into the wind. Yet, even as bad as I felt in that moment, it was still better than hearing my grandmother moaning my name over and over right before she left me to fend for myself. I know it’s not fair to blame Grams for dying of cancer, but it sure would have been nice if she hadn’t woke up one morning peeing blood only to 8ind out too late she had stage 4 pancreatic cancer with less than a month to live. I don’t think it was more than two days after Grams was in the ground that Malcolm, Gram’s custard-brained son and my half-wit uncle, drove his U-Haul to San Francisco from Vegas and moved everything he owned into Gram’s two bedroom rent-controlled apartment. After I refused to be his plaything, he stuffed everything I owned, which wasn’t much, into a cardboard box and left it out on the front steps of Gram’s building. No note, no warning. Nothing. What a dick. After Malcolm left me on the curb like a rotting bag of garbage, I almost didn’t bother 8inishing high school, but I knew I couldn’t deal with Gram’s disappointment ringing in my head. Education is the only way out of Hunters Point, Alice. It’s your getaway car. Even though all of that work I put into my college applications felt worthless, at least I knew Grams wouldn’t be hiding inside my head, sneaking up behind me every time I closed my eyes. With no place else to go, I scrounged up a pack, rescued Ginger from the pound and hit the street, wandering around like I was some self-loathing Paci8ic Heights trust-fund baby hopping from hostel to hostel deep inside Eastern Europe, only without the runny goulash.

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When to Jump Robert Geyer

Of8icer Chang digs out a business card from her breast pocket and scratches something on the back of it with her pen. “Here, take this. You should talk to these guys. They’ll help you out.” I 8lip the card over to see where she wants me to go. As soon as I read the name of the shelter on the card, I snort so loud I even surprise myself. “Uh yeah, hell no, but thanks.” There is no way I’m hiking up Nob Hill, down through the Tenderloin so I can check-in to some bed bug infested rat hole where an endless supply of psychopaths are eagerly lying in wait for me. “I know what you’re thinking, but this isn’t that kind of place. It’s for young women like you.” Alright, so she knows a little of what I am thinking, but I’m pretty sure it isn’t because she’s had some old dude hovering over the top of her while she was trying to sleep. “Listen, I get that you can’t trust anyone out here, but there are a few good people left who are trying to help. My cell number is on the card if you get into trouble. You got enough food for your dog?” I carefully watch her eyes as she talks, looking for signs of heartfelt earnestness, the smoking gun of authoritarian Big Brother bullshit, but I don’t see any hint of it. No big doe-eyes or any singsong lilt in her voice trying to manipulate my emotions. I always 8igured cops like Of8icer Chang were really just social workers in drag, getting paid a commission for every pathetic street urchin they enlist into their rehab army, but Of8icer Chang looks like she knows she is totally wasting every last molecule of oxygen talking to me, that the probability of convincing me to take even one step in the direction of that shelter is less than zero. I know she really cares by how little she seems to care. “We’re all good.” “If you say so. Be careful.” Of8icer Chang pulls her thumbs out of her belt loops and walks away, back towards her partner who is poking the next sleeping bum with his sadistic nightstick. “You heard the Of8icer, Ginger. We gotta make camp someplace else.” I stuff Of8icer Chang’s card in the back left pocket of my jeans; the back right pocket is frayed and torn and anything deposited in there quickly falls to the ground,

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When to Jump Robert Geyer

which I discovered the hard way when I lost ten bucks a nice old lady gave me to feed Ginger (because apparently I’m not worth feeding). Fisherman’s Wharf is about as far south as I like to go, so it’s time to turn around and head back toward the Marina, repeating the cycle like I’m working to some bizarre Mayan calendar. Ginger and I slowly make our way through Fort Mason, down past Marina Green, and as we walk alongside the bayside patch of grass, it seems like there must be a hundred women running by, all of them wearing 8luorescent Nike Free’s and stretchy Lululemon’s. When we reach the end of Crissy Field, con8ident this is farther than Of8icer Chang and Of8icer Dick Wad will consider traveling to roust us a second time, I 8ind an empty bench and lift Ginger onto my lap. I look up to see the Golden Gate Bridge towering above us. From here, it feels like I can reach up and touch the steel arches that anchor the bridge into the bedrock of peninsula jutting out into the cold, black spit of water. As I lean back and stare up into the sky, I begin to reel from the onset of dizzying vertigo. To prevent me from puking all over my red Chuck Taylor’s, I let go of Ginger and press both hands 8irmly on the park bench. My right hand lands on something hard that isn’t the seat. I look down to 8ind an iPhone gleaming back at me in the morning sunlight. I think this iPhone must be a cosmic breadcrumb, some heavenly token to keep me believing that maybe God does give a very tiny crap about me, and that there still may be a reason to continue hoping, although for what, I’m not really sure. Ironically, 8inding the cell phone means that now I’ll have to cruise over to south of Market since that’s where the cell phone trade happens. But hey, twenty-8ive bucks in my pocket— cha-ching! I tap the power button and the screen jumps to life. The phone’s wallpaper isn’t a picture of a crimson sunset or someone’s poodle or some dopey sel8ie. It’s just a picture of a cardboard sign that says “listen to me”, scratched out in black Sharpie. I 8lick my 8inger across the screen, looking for iTunes or some cool games. I’d even settle for Words with Friends if that was on here, but there’s nothing but the photo app showing on the main screen, which sucks, so I guess I’m looking at some pics.

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When to Jump Robert Geyer

I open the app and now I’m truly irked, because not only is there just one app on this phone, but there’s just one picture, too. Correction. It’s actually a video. I push play. As the video begins, a disembodied hand reaches in and pulls away the “listen to me” cardboard sign, revealing a small electric keyboard sitting on top of a light oak table. A boy (maybe sixteen years old?) sits down and pulls himself up close to the table. He stares down at the keyboard and pulls in deep breaths like he’s building up a reserve for what’s coming next. His dark gray eyes hide behind high-ridged cheekbones while his skin tone is an amalgam of sickly colors: ash, olive and jaundice yellow, colors I recognize from Gram’s last week in the hospital. His ink-black hair hangs over his forehead; when he pushes the greasy mat back behind his ears with both hands, it holds 8irm. His arms are rail thin. An IV is poking out of one of his veins, the plastic tubing snaking back to a sagging bag of 8luid hanging from a tall metal pole. After what feels like forever, the boy gently lays his long, delicate 8ingers across the top of the keyboard like the tendrils of a spring sweet pea wrapping itself on a nearby lattice for support. After playing four simple notes, he starts singing. His voice surprises me given how frail he looks. It has a rich, smooth tone without a hint of frayed edge; pretty, just like he must have been pretty not long ago.

Because he’s a boy, it’s not until I hear the second chorus that I recognize the

song, Gravity by Sara Bareilles (which I think is pretty cool because I like it when boys sing girl songs and vice versa). I feel myself beginning to hum quietly while he continues deeper into the song. As he 8inishes the next verse, I can see there is not an ounce of strength left in him. I feel like I’m watching his life empty out the bottom of a porcelain tub, the swirling vortex of water rushing towards the drain. I remember that the last verse ends with a note so long and pure that it feels like the song will never end, which is what I hope will happen now because I know this boy’s life is being measured in minutes and seconds, and not years like for the rest of us. But when he reaches for that note, he can barely 8ind it. After he breathlessly 8inishes the song, he speaks directly to the camera.

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When to Jump Robert Geyer

“Stephen, I’m sorry, but we don’t need to do this anymore, all this sitting around, waiting for me to go. The longer I stay, the worse it gets for everyone, especially you. It’s time for your happy to come back. I love you.” I realize I’m squeezing the phone so tight that it feels like it might fold in half. Salty teardrops slide past my nose and drain into the corner of my mouth. I wipe my eyes clear and smear snot across the back of my hand. “What the…” I can’t 8inish the thought. Now even swearing inside my head seems wrong, like Grams is standing right beside me. Don’t be lazy, Alice. You know cursing is lazy talk. The last time I was with Grams, I knew I shouldn’t have left. Visiting hours at St. Luke’s ended at nine, but the nurses were cool. They set me up with a fold out bed, brought me warm blankets and let me eat Gram’s crappy hospital food, but that last night something pushed me away, forcing me to run out of there. I blame the mash up of smells: disinfectant meets necrosis, the odor of impending death waiting behind every door like a phantom. After I bolted from the hospital, I hopped on the Muni where I rode around all night, exploring the maze of pitch black tubes lying beneath San Francisco, occasionally popping up and squeakily sliding through the city’s sleepy neighborhoods. When I 8inally made it back to Gram’s hospital room in the morning, she was gone. I only remember a handful of words that came mumbling from the nurse’s mouth: peaceful, blessing, prayers, God. With no place else to go, I went back to school. I nearly drop the phone when it begins to buzz in my hand. A picture of the boy named Stephen 8ills the screen. I let it ring 8ive times before I 8inally make a decision. “Jay? Where are you? Are you okay?” I hear Stephen’s voice crackle and tremble. He’s as close to panic as a person can possibly be without being completely incoherent. I suck in a breath. Now I’m wondering if answering was such a smart idea. “Uh…this isn’t Jay. I just found this phone.” “Is there a boy nearby?” Stephen’s voice echoes with the slightest essence of hope.

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When to Jump Robert Geyer

“Nobody’s around. The phone was just sitting here on a bench.” “Where are you?” “I’m over at Crissy Field, out by Fort Point. Underneath the bridge.” “Stay there. I’m just 8ive minutes away in the Marina. Please, please, please don’t leave.” Even as frail as Jay looked in his video, the timbre of his voice still resonated with a quiet strength; Stephen’s voice was void of any self-assurance. “Okay.” The call ends.

I grip the phone tight, like if I let go then I’ll be letting go of Jay.

And Grams. I push Ginger off my lap. She jumps to the ground and stretches out her hind legs. I leave my pack behind the bench and head towards the water. I’m scared to look up, afraid I’ll see Jay hurtling himself from the Golden Gate’s span. Before I get the courage to scan the horizon for any signs of Jay, Ginger takes off down the shoreline in the direction of what looks like a washed up clump of kelp, but of course it’s not kelp. I see feet poking up. I ease up to Jay’s body like it’s going to be some gruesome sight, his eyeballs pecked out by ravenous gulls or his arms chewed off by sharks, but the closer I get I can see Jay’s body shaking violently. He’s lying on his back, holding himself, crying inconsolably. Ginger stands over the top of him, her tongue hanging out, wagging her tail like she’s found a lost bone. “Hey.” I say it like I’m rolling up on someone I see everyday, because I have no clue what a perfectly healthy person says to a dying person who so desperately yearns to be dead. Jay doesn’t respond, so I sit down next to him and look out towards the water as it swirls underneath the bridge in the morning light. I pull off my jacket and drape it over him, knowing it won’t do much good, but I can’t leave him lying there exposed, the life ebbing from him with each heave of his chest. Seeing Jay shivering, I sympathetically begin to shake along with him. I rub my hands together like they’re two sticks and I’m trying to start a 8ire. I watch Ginger snug up so close to Jay that she’s nearly laying on top of him, instinctively mothering

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When to Jump Robert Geyer

her sick pup, like she understands he needs to steal her warmth, but even more, that he needs to be touched by another living being. I take a cue from my nurturing companion and curl up to Jay, nestling as close as I can. The three of us lie together, hidden among the rocks and sand, the sound of the bay’s tide lapping against the shore below our feet. I hear a voice yelling in the distance. I pop my head up and see Stephen sprinting down the trail, screaming out Jay’s name over and over. I stand up and wave so he can see me. He’s close enough that I can see the taut look of determination slough off his face, replaced by a contorted blend of fear, sadness and confusion. “Jay? Is he…?” “He’s alive.” Stephen staggers to where Jay lies on the rocky shoals and collapses beside him. Ginger lays her paw over the top of Jay so it touches Stephen’s arm, too. I take a few steps back, leaving Stephen and Ginger to keep Jay warm with the heat from their bodies. I hear sirens approaching and look up to see red 8lashing lights racing towards us. A black and white patrol car rolls up right behind the paramedics. When the door opens up, I see Of8icer Chang step out. She walks towards me as the paramedics rush past to save Jay. “Well, Alice, you’ve had an exciting morning.” Her thumbs are back in their favorite resting spot on her utility belt. I reach into my back left pocket and pull out her business card which is now crinkled and soggy after lying in the wet rocks next to Jay. I 8lip it over and read the back, but this time I don’t snort out loud. “Do you think I could get a ride over to this place?” “Sure thing, as soon as we’re done here. But I’m afraid they won’t take your dog. Sorry about that.” I look down at Ginger. Stephen’s got her wrapped in the tightest hug I’ve ever seen, like he’s never going to let go. Ginger can see Stephen has kind eyes, and because she trusts him, I will too. Just like I have to trust Of8icer Chang now. Riding in the back of Of8icer Chang’s patrol car, I rub my hands across the top of my thighs; I can still feel the weight of Ginger’s ghost lying across my lap.

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36


When to Jump Robert Geyer

“You okay back there?” Of8icer Chang breaks through the thunderous roar in my head. I’m not sure what I am right now. I feel like everyone we pass is staring at me, wondering what I’ve done wrong, which makes me think maybe I have done something wrong, only I’m not sure what. “Do you think he’ll be mad I found him?” “I doubt he will remember anything. The brain is funny that way. It tries to protect us by blocking out the bad things that happen to us.” I wish my brain would try a little harder on that front. “I know this—his family and friends are glad you found him. I know they’re scared to lose him, but they would never have been able to handle him disappearing, never knowing what happened to him.” As Of8icer Chang talks, I gaze out the patrol car’s window. A little girl with braided ponytails stares at me from the backseat of her mom’s SUV. She smiles and waves. I can only blankly stare back while I picture Jay shaking under my jacket as Ginger nuzzles close by and Stephen tries to rub the life back into him. I know he’s dying and all, but I can’t help but wonder why he picked today to give up. “Why do you care?” “If I don’t care then everything else loses its meaning—my job, my friends, my family. My life. Some days it hurts, but the pain means I’m in a 8ight, and you only 8ight for something worth saving.” And maybe that’s why he decided today was the day to jump; when he stopped believing his life was worth saving, when his 8ight ceased to generate pain. “So this might make you mad, but after I saw you earlier today I made a few calls. I understand you graduated high school with pretty good grades.” “Yep. My high school’s 8irst ever dumpster diving graduate with honors.” I just can’t stop my sarcastic inside voice from spilling out. “Did you ever think about going to college?” “Actually, I got into UC Berkeley. Not that it matters now.” “Maybe we can talk more about that some time. You know I’m a Cal grad. Go Bears.” Of8icer Chang pulls up to a nondescript building situated in a narrow alleyway between Howard and Mission. I could walk by it a thousand times and never notice it, which I guess is the point. Hiding in plain sight. Smart.

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When to Jump Robert Geyer

“Thanks for the ride.” I yank the door handle to make my escape, thinking that the best way to do this is like ripping off a Band-Aid. “Wait a minute. I’m going in with you. I didn’t bring you this far just to drop you off at the curb.” Of8icer Chang pulls my pack from the patrol car’s trunk and slings it over her shoulder. Her muscles strain under the pack’s weight, stretching her uniform tight, making her look so powerful. I wonder if I could ever feel half as strong as she looks right now. When we reach the front of the shelter, Of8icer Chang looks back at me. “You ready to do this?” I feel a quick snag of pain somewhere deep inside me and I hear Grams yelling at me, Fight, Alice, Fight. Without a word, I grab the door handle and pull, understanding now that I won’t ever have to jump.

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Poetry

A New Greenhouse Kevin Casey

That fall, he had built a greenhouse to the west of his garden—metal framing milled with care, pre-8it panels placed just so on a foundation of pea-stone several feet deep to keep the ground from heaving. Just a few weeks after its completion, we heard of their divorce and the small room in town he was renting, surprised that such a thing as this might grow to ruin by degrees, withering within the walls of a home that seemed solid enough viewed from without. Re8lecting the late March sun and the house beside it, it stands empty—snow gathered about its knees, and few reasons now to hope for the spring.

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The Corner Club Quarterly

Fiction

Taps DC Diamondopolous

P

eter crouched in front of the attic window and gazed down on old man Mueller’s corn8ield. The plow, unhitched beyond the stalks, turned north like he meant to continue but got interrupted. Peter looked toward the

barn, no sign of Mueller’s horse and buggy. The Amish and Mennonite neighbors, with their peculiar ways kept to themselves. Mueller only talked to his pa when he accused Rufus of killing his chickens, or a year ago, the day his brother’s mind broke when Gabe went screaming from the veranda twisting his ears as he ran into Muller’s corn8ield. That day Mueller shot out of the house, the top of his unsnapped overalls 8lapping as he sprinted after Gabe; Mueller’s wife and 8ive children dashed onto the porch, the boys still in their pajamas. After that day, Gabe was never the same, and neither was Peter. At fourteen, he felt all grown-up. His childhood ended when his brother and best friend came down with a cold inside his brain. Ma said he’d get better. They just had to pray harder. Pa wanted to send him somewhere, to a place where they removed part of the brain or shocked it into normal. Peter listened as they argued back and forth, Ma blaming herself and Pa’s eyes wet with tears, as they tried to decide what was best for their eldest son; feelings of helplessness sat like a centerpiece on the dining room table. “How come I don’t hear the voices, Ma?” “Thank the good Lord you don’t, son.” Gabe’s trumpet playing now sailed out of his window across the beauty of the corn and wheat 8ields, the notes drifting as new ones began over the vast cloudless skies of Lancaster County. Gabe played Taps, Taps in the morning, Taps in the afternoon, and Taps at night. Peter thought it must have to do with the sadness inside him, but once in a while Gabe scratched the air with a different kind of song; it would sail smooth, cut off, spiral and dip. In those moments, he thought his brother had talent, enough to make Peter enjoy the fantasies they provoked. He coaxed Gabe to
 First published by Five on the Fifth, October 6, 2015. Reprinted by Eskimo Pie, December 13, 2015.

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Taps DC Diamondopolous

take lessons, maybe play at the church, learn Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing, so people would like him—that part he left out. Gabe had scowled, and Peter fell quiet, afraid he’d make his brother go to that place where a chorus of devils shuf8led his mind. Peter learned to rake words the way he did leaves. Words like sure, and all right calmed him, but others like before, and used to, could bring on a 8it. The kitchen screen door slammed as Gabe came out of the house and stood on the veranda. He brought the trumpet to his lips and began to play. Peter bounded to his feet. Gabe had never taken the trumpet outside or played it in front of others. Peter hoped this meant he’d been healed, that his parents’ prayers and his own were 8inally answered. Excited, he ran down the stairs wanting his parents to see. He passed the room he once shared with his brother until his pa separated them cause of the sickness. He jumped onto the landing and rode the banister sidesaddle down to the living room. “Ma? Pa?” Peter ran through the kitchen where his mother’s cornbread sat on the stove. He caught a whiff of its warm, sweet smell and realized his brother had stopped playing. He pushed the screen door open, but Gabe wasn’t there. “Rufus, come here boy!” he shouted from the porch. “Pa?” Where was everyone? His eyes darted from the tether ball, to the lawnmower, to the Troyer’s house. The late September day was as still as the sun. It was Saturday. Life always had something going on. It didn’t just stop. Peter found it strange that his father’s hammer, pliers, and screwdriver lay on the porch swing. Although his brother wouldn’t hurt a gnat, he’d often hurt himself. And, his pa made sure to keep his guns and tools locked up. Peter leaped off the steps and ran around the brick house they had moved into three years ago. The front yard looked no different from any other time, the ‘47 Buick station wagon parked in the driveway, nothing out of place, except the absence of his folks and Rufus. Maybe they went to the Kerr’s or the Troyers’ cause someone got sick. But Rufus’ disappearance downright confused him. That dog always came when called. He’d better tend to Gabe.

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Taps DC Diamondopolous

Peter ran to the backyard and saw a swath cut in the corn8ield. The Amish and Mennonites were acquainted with Gabe’s screams, his running away and hiding in their barns. And the time he sprinted all the way to the feed store and climbed into a grain sack to get away from the voices. Six months ago, Peter and his pa found Gabe in a dumpster. His pa picked him up by his armpits and dragged his crumpled body over the edge and placed him on the ground. Peter felt like something died that day; a corner of his heart just fell off. His pa helped Gabe get to his feet, put an arm around his shoulders and told him: It's gonna be okay. Peter wanted to believe. Later that day his father told him: You’re the older one now, son. Tend to him like a pup. He followed Gabe’s tracks, swatting through the rustling stalks, and batting away 8lies. “Gabe?” He felt trickles of sweat form on his brow as the smothering shoots closed behind him. “Where are you?” “Go away.” “Where’s our folks and Rufus?” “I don’t know. Leave me alone.” Peter took careful steps so not to upset his brother. He wanted to make sure Gabe was all right and not doing weird things like banging his head against the ground, or clawing his ears until they turned purple blue. Peter brushed his dark bangs out of his eyes and parted the stalks. Gabe sat cradling the trumpet, rocking back and forth. “You seen Rufus?” “No.” “Heard you playing outside.” Peter parted the shoots to give them more room. He stepped around his brother. “What’s that on your shirt?” “Nothin’.” “Somethin’. Looks like blood.” He reached to touch the shirt. Gabe shoved his hand away. “Leave me be.” “You tell me how you got blood on your shirt and I’ll leave you be.” “It’s not blood. It’s ketchup.” “Hogwash.”

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Taps DC Diamondopolous

Peter took hold of his brother’s shoulders and gripped them as he leaned down and smelled the shirt. “It’s blood.” He ripped it open and saw slash marks on Gabe’s chest. “Jesus Gabriel.” “I’m cold.” “Where’s the knife?” “You tore my shirt.” “Here put mine on.” Gabe did and started to blubber as he mismatched the buttons with the holes. “Gimme the knife.” “Mueller has it.” “You’re saying Mueller did this to you?” Gabe nodded. He couldn’t trust a darn thing that came out of Gabe’s mouth. Peter leaped on top of his brother and tried to roll him over, but Gabe fought back, swinging his 8ists and grazing the side of his head. “I’m trying to keep you out of trouble,” Peter said as he straddled Gabe’s legs and ran his hands along his brother’s pockets. “Where’d you throw it?” He rolled Gabe’s shirt into a ball, stood, and picked up the trumpet. “Don’t have it.” Peter glanced about. It could be anywhere. “Let’s go 8ind Rufus.” Gabe grabbed onto the stalks and pulled himself up. “Mueller killed him with the knife.” Peter swung around. He dropped the shirt and trumpet and lunged at his brother knocking him to the ground. “You’re lyin’.” He looked down at Gabe not feeling a bit sorry for him. “You can talk crazy all you want, but not about my dog.” Peter felt a rush of trembles coming on. The kind he had as a kid when he’d wake up in his own piss. Sometimes his brother was just too much responsibility. Peter picked up the shirt and handed the trumpet to Gabe. “I’m goin’ home.” Gabe followed. Old man Mueller would never use a knife. He might shoot Rufus if he killed his chicks, but he’d never use a knife. And, when it came to hurting his brother, well sir,

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Taps DC Diamondopolous

that just didn’t make sense. It bugged Peter that Gabe could get to him like that, after all, his mind was sharp. He could grasp a situation and pluck its essence clean out. When they reached the porch, his father’s tools were still lying about. He’d put them away once he cleaned Gabe’s wounds and got rid of the shirt, no sense telling his parents. It would upset them, and they would send Gabe away. The screen door slammed as the brothers went into the kitchen. “Take off my shirt. I’ll clean those wounds,” Peter said as he took the dishrag from the washbasin and soaked it in warm water. “Put the trumpet down.” He reached into the cupboard and pulled out his pa’s whiskey. “Come here.” He poured a little onto the rag—his pa wouldn’t notice—and wiped his brother’s chest. “Ouch! That’s for drinkin’.” “It’ll clean the wounds. Seen Pa?” Gabe slowly moved his head to the left and the right, reminding Peter of an elephant he saw at the carnival in Hersheypark. “No.” Peter took the bloody shirt and put it in the sink. He lifted the lid of his nanaw’s bronze striker that hung on the wall, took out a wooden match and struck it, lighting the shirt on 8ire. When the 8lames licked it to ash, Peter ran the water. “Let’s go upstairs. We gotta hide those wounds.” Gabe started to laugh. Peter saw the madness in his brother’s eyes as if his mind hooked a corner and kept spinning unable to right itself. No amount of shaking, coaxing, or yelling could bring Gabe around. Peter remembered that same laugh Memorial Day when the Kerr’s invited them to a picnic in their backyard. They all sat at the long wooden table eating ham, onions, coleslaw and pudding. Gabe scarfed down a slice of watermelon when he started to laugh. Course everyone wanted to know what was so funny. His laughter grew to hysterics. Let us in on the joke, Lester said. But Gabe kept laughing like it was his own private thing, even as the juice ran out his nose and into his mouth. The look in his eyes when Lester persisted, come on, what’s so funny, was dark and ugly. Peter would never forget the look on Gretchen’s face, the girl with hair the color of wheat, and eyes as dark as the Blue Ridge Mountains. He wanted Gretchen for his girl the moment he saw her in the church choir. But on the day that Gabe snapped,

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Taps DC Diamondopolous

and she brought her 8inger up to the side of her head and made fast circles laughing at his brother’s torment, his feelings for her died. Did he hear Rufus? Peter raced to the screen door and opened it. He stepped onto the veranda. “Rufus!” He took the stairs when he felt something strike the back of his head. The force was so great he toppled forward. He struggled to get away as he pulled himself along the ground. Crawling in his own blood, he was sure he heard his dog. Rufus sprinted up to his master and barked. “Hey, boy,” Peter moaned. “Oh my God, Gabriel!” The distant wail of his mother’s voice reminded him of the way Gabe faded the 8inal notes of Taps. “Put that hammer down. Now Gabriel!” The fear he heard in his pa’s voice scared him. Peter struggled to get up. He felt a searing explosion and lost consciousness.

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betteo.deviantart.com

h.u.r.t Patricio Betteo

 

The Corner Club Quarterly


Fiction

Asylum X Ezeiyoke Chukwunonso

“E

jiofor, why do you want to kill yourself?” That was what Dr. Ekene asked me as he removed his eyeglasses. His gaze was on me. I found it dif8icult facing his eyeballs, which

travelled deep inside his eye sockets for an inde8inite sabbatical leave, leaving behind massive holes. My eyes went down to the wooden table with a white nylon cover. The table that separated us in his of8ice looked so awkwardly small, as if placed as an afterthought by some inexperienced interior designer. Beside me was a white plastic chair leaning against the wall, and behind him was his miniature shelf 8illed with a quarterly journal, JANMCAP, Journal of the Associate of Nigeria Mental Care Practitioners. My right hand went for a yellow General’s Semi-Hex 2B pencil lying beside me on the table. I began 8iddling it. I wanted to ask Dr. Ekene that if he knew the monster sitting in front of him, would he have brought a gun to help me die quick. Instead of saying that, I began breaking the sharpened edge of the pencil nervously. I struggled to withstand the urge of chewing the broken parts. “What are you running away from?” Dr. Ekene asked when he saw that no answer was coming forth from his previous question. “From myself.” I managed to reply, just to say something, to end this session and take my fucking ass home. At least when my mum or social care workers would call later to inquire, nobody would accuse me of not co-operating. “Why?” He asked. “I am an evil.” The words escaped from my mouth like a vapour of a methanol gas, evaporating as soon as they were spoken. It was an answer I knew long ago, but I had kept it secret, locked away with a series of shields to prevent it from sneaking out of me. I was afraid my world would crash with it, if it ever came out of me. Yet there I was, just uttering it. I wished it were a whisper so it would have gone unnoticed; but Dr. Ekene picked it.
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Asylum X Ezeiyoke Chukwunonso

“What makes you think so?” He asked. His eyes were still on me, burning deep, deeper than the scourging of an afternoon Harmattan sun. Such a question wasn't easy to answer. How could I tell him I had a phobia, of where little children were; because I knew how much psychic energy I put into remaining sane when I saw them, remembering what had happened to me when I was their age? And the worst of all, that I was afraid that I could become their tormentor; in the same way I was tormented? That this feeling of revenge was imminent? That the ticking bomb was about to explode? But he wanted me to tell him that. Okay. It wasn't like I went out of my way to invite this trouble in the 8irst place. When I was eleven, I entered St. Louis Secondary School, Nsukka. At that time, as Chinedu would joke, a strong wind could blow me away. The 8irst day I left for secondary school, my mum bathed and dressed me up with school green shorts and white sleeve shirts. Whenever I entered my room now and beheld crumbs of papers on the 8loor, or a table with books unarranged and clothes haphazardly hung, welcoming me, I longed for my mum. Inwardly I would wish that she would appear and arrange it for me just as she usually did when I was young. It was easy to notice me then in the school: the streaming nose, the rumpled clothes, the uncombed hair, became an identity I was known for. So was my frequent crying. I constantly marveled and watched so many of my classmates adapt so quickly and effortlessly to their new environment. It was here Chinedu came into my life. The butter-skinned Chinedu with the afro-hair was 8ive years ahead of me at school. He was in his 8inal year. He met me on the day our sanitary teacher called me out at the school morning assembly to 8log me for being unkempt. The teacher was a professional in 8logging. He was hitting his cane under my belt, directly at my waist. With each stroke, the students echoed, ‘pig’. I had wailed. Chinedu came when the assembly was dismissed. I was marching to my class and he consoled me. He had put one of his hairy hands across my shoulder. He used his palm to wipe away the remaining tears in my eyes. His trousers were ironed and shirt tucked in neatly like a banker. Later, he obtained permission from my Form

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Asylum X Ezeiyoke Chukwunonso

Master to help me clean myself. The permission was willingly granted. Such people of goodwill were rarely seen, so who would deny them permission? From then on, it was all goodies. If the meals served in the school’s refectory were too small, you would go hungry the whole day, but Chinedu would sneak me extra. I didn't know how he got the extras, but I think he fasted for my sake. He would be there the day we do our laundry. I automatically become the wish and he was the ful8illment, as a poet I once read wrote long ago. And in our case things were so perfect. I loved him and trusted my whole being to him. I told my parents about him and they invited him to our house. Like that, he became our family friend. He would come to my house and stay for a while during the Christmas holidays and we would play PS4, eating popcorn all day long. He played Barcelona, though I loved Chelsea. At night, we watched horror movies. He was a Living Dead junkie. I bet he had seen it dozens of times; he had memorized every scene of it. I would fall asleep halfway through, my head on his lap, my hand, cuddling his waist. Chinedu would invite me to his house, but I would always decline the offer. My parents insisted that I should go. Yet I was adamant with them that I wouldn’t. It wasn't that I smelt something 8ishy; I was just more comfortable at my home. However, he continued inviting me, so one day I yielded to his demand. At this point, I couldn't talk any longer to Dr. Ekene. My eyes were 8illed with tears. My body trembling. I bent my head on the table, breaking the yellow pencil, faster and faster. Dr. Ekene waited patiently for me to continue, but speech wasn't forthcoming. “He had sex with you. Right?” He asked. “Yeah,” I said, exhaling. I felt so relieved like a 50-kilo cement bag was lifted off from my shoulders. The word sex was sticking, stinking in my mouth. “And what did you feel?” “Pain. My anus was bleeding.” “Did he attempt penetrating again after the 8irst day?” “Yeah.” “And what happened?” “I refused.”

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Asylum X Ezeiyoke Chukwunonso

"Why?" "I told you that it was too painful. I plainly told him I wouldn't do that again." It wasn't like there was nothing I enjoyed from it. Perhaps it was the remembrance that at one point in my life I did enjoy it that made me feel too ashamed of myself. It gets to my head. Yeah, really, I enjoyed his touch especially when he rubbed my thing. It is not like I am defending myself, but if I was honest with myself I would say that before Chinedu I was totally ignorant of what sex meant—thanks to my parents who locked me behind the door, who hardly allowed me to mix with people. But then I wasn't really that lonely. Being the last in a house of 8ive, excluding my parents, meant the house was always full. Siblings weren’t always the best of friends; they had their own worries. So I lived my life, surrounded by family, yet in isolation. My life was a perfect example of the cliché, ‘water everywhere but no water to drink.’ Anyway, the solitude had much to bear upon my present life; I am a loner, sort of. And most of the time, it ran counter to the view of the handful friends of mine who never understood why I never had much of African communal way of living in me. Yet the sex incident never changed our relationship, at least then. We were still as we were. You know that sort of thing, like everything remained the same. And every night at school, when all others had gone to sleep, we would sneak out and go to the toilet where we would be touching ourselves. Sometimes, it would be in the bathroom. We would freeze whenever we heard a footstep approaching, and that was why we preferred the toilet because we could lock it, but our school bathrooms had no doors. We did this on a daily basis until he graduated from school. "Did you continue with somebody else when he left?" Dr. Ekene asked. "No." "Why?" "I was afraid that what we were doing was wrong. Besides, it seemed like it was becoming popular in school. Some people were caught and they were expelled." "So you stopped because you were afraid of expulsion?" "Partly yes. Mainly because I felt like I was guilty of sinning." But these acts actually woke my sexual instinct. That I was feeling guilty never erased the drive I got, my body wishing to have sex, nay to have my thing touched.

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Asylum X Ezeiyoke Chukwunonso

The desire deepened as the days rolled by. I was in deep distress between a desire that wanted to be expressed and a morality that wanted to be digni8ied. To worsen the situation, there was much talk among my peers of homosexuality being a grievous crime against God and society. One teacher, I can't remember the person now, came to our class one day and instead of teaching his subject began talking about homosexuality. He even said it was punishable by law. My moral crisis increased when the issue became a dominating topic in the sermon of our school chaplain. He took great pains to connect it to the gospel reading every day as he denounced it in the pulpit. "What really pains you about this experience that it makes you feel like killing yourself?" Dr. Ekene asked. "For one thing it made me a slave." "A slave to what?" "Sex. I am sexually manic. There is never a moment when my concentration is not gravely distracted with a strong urge to have sex; ninety-nine percent of the time, I’m not able to control it. I masturbate countless times a day. Imagine what happened when I had such feelings in the lecture hall. I would leave the class and hide myself inside a bathroom stall and start doing my thing. Before an hour lecture had passed I would have done that up to 8ive times. My classmates regularly asked me why I go to the restroom so frequently. The constant lie I told them was that I am diabetic and that my own case was a unique one: I had a prolonged delay before I could properly urinate. But most of my classmates developed a pet theory; they said I was addicted to marijuana, which I would go there to smoke. You can’t imagine the embarrassment. I would be in the restroom masturbating and someone would be at the door banging and cursing me because he wanted to make use of the same toilet.” I coughed and used my hands to run through my head. "Is it only this embarrassment that made you feel like killing yourself?" "Not that alone." “What else made you feel this way?” "I see myself as abnormal." "Why do you say so?" "It is written virtually in every aspect of my life, in everything that I do."

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Asylum X Ezeiyoke Chukwunonso

"Please be speci8ic. Tell me a particular instance." "Ok. For instance, look at my relationships. I feel so awkward relating with my elders especially of the same sex. Whenever a fellow male touches me, there is this kind of phobia which will just surge through me. Inwardly, I will begin to feel insecure. The same goes with children, especially those within the age bracket of when I had my 8irst sex." “What other reason is behind your suicidal thoughts?” "I am afraid a monster is growing in me." "What kind of monster?" "A strange voice is urging me to go on and do to others what was done to me." "And what do you tell the voice? "That I don't want to. This is the main reason why I want to kill myself…because I feel like I can no longer control that voice." "But you can." "I can't. You don't know how much physical energy I put into restraining myself." "Everybody in the world struggles from one emotional problem to another. Every one of us makes an effort to be sane. Let me tell you one thing, all of us in one way or another passes through traumatic experience daily, but how it matters to us depends on how we interpret the experience." "But those experiences are not as bad as mine." "Yes you are right, but some experiences may be worse than yours. Let me tell you something about myself. During the Biafra war, I was about eleven when the federal troops seized our village, Obollo-Afor. That day, my family was particularly unlucky. Whatever was the cause why Obollo-Afor fell to the hands of the federal troops, I can't really tell. However, when my father heard that the federal troops were around, in a twinkling of an eye, he began gathering us together. It took him time to 8ind us. My elder sister peculiarly wasn't around. She had sneaked out of the house to go to the neighboring village, Umundi, to meet her secret lover unknown to everybody. My father had said that it would take him time to forgive himself if he left her behind. Because of this, he fanatically searched the whole neighborhood for her, though it was to no avail. She later resurfaced. It was then that my family and families under my father’s care decided to leave.

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Asylum X Ezeiyoke Chukwunonso

“Our leaving was quick. There were about twelve of us; I can’t remember our actual numbers, but it was us and a few other families we met on the road. Because we were afraid that the soldiers might have blocked the main road, we decided to follow the bush. However, by the time we had left the village the soldiers had infested everywhere. “Soldiers caught us and that was where our terror began. The soldiers were sadists. Ejiofor, my pain isn’t that my family was swept away from me, but how they were killed. They were butchered and we kids were captured and taken to a camp as prisoners of war. I think we were meant to be trained as child soldiers, but about a week later an order came that they should release us, that or the soldiers had changed their mind. Whatever was the case, we were let free. “Frankly speaking to you, whenever I remember this experience, it traumatizes me. It makes me lose hope in humanity. There was a point in time that I was seriously contemplating suicide. Then there was a question I asked myself. I asked myself, ‘Who is supposed to own the guilt I was laboriously carrying? Was it my fault that my family was massacred? Who ought to carry the shame?’ “It was after I answered these questions that I realized I was carrying another man's burden. I was carrying another's man responsibility. It is the soldiers who massacred my family that should feel guilty for their actions, not me. “I am not saying that my experience and yours are the same thing, but I had to tell you that they were similar in a way. It seems the two of us are bearing the shame of another man. You are carrying the responsibility of another man." "How?" "The shame you are feeling is not supposed to be yours to feel. It belongs to the guy who raped you." "I wasn't raped!" “You were eleven or twelve when you had sex with him is that correct?’ “I was eleven.” "You were raped. At that point, any adult who is having sex with any person under the age of eighteen is raping that person. You were in all sincerity raped." "But I enjoyed it then."

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Asylum X Ezeiyoke Chukwunonso

"Because you never knew what you were doing. If you really enjoyed it, if you consented to it, it wouldn't be troubling you now." "That I was raped…" "Yes, you were raped. Chinedu took advantage of you." "God." We kept silence for a while. At this point, my mind was wandering around. Was I really raped or was this man just giving me a philosophical consolation? I was the one who broke the silence, “What about this feeling in me?” “What feeling?" "The feeling of revenge." Dr. Ekene took a deep breath, and adjusted his eyeglasses. “Ejiofor,” he called as adjusted his seat, his face was squarely focused on mine, “What you are feeling is a normal occurrence with people who were sexually maltreated as children. It’s often referred to as the cycle of abuse. There is this tendency in one who was molested as a child to want to then in8lict on another child the same pain and anger he experienced, so that they can feel the pain he suffered and so that he can now be in control and be the one to in8lict that pain. That is obviously the wrong way of handling an aftermath of sexual trauma. It is wrong not only because it ends up destroying another person’s life, but more so, it destroys one’s life as well. One does not only become a criminal by that but also goes on to accumulate guilt that will torture one forever. There are better ways of handling this. Let me give you an example, do you know Viktor Frankl, the founder of Logotherapy?" "Nope." "Viktor Frankl passed through a dehumanizing and traumatic experience during the Second World War. He was detained in concentration camp where he was tortured in all sorts of ways. When he later came out of the camp, he discovered that his family had been murdered. Life looked almost meaningless to him. To most people who pass through this experience, they always choose the option of suicide. It is that simple, once one 8inds life meaningless, what comes next is the person decides to end it all. But not for Viktor, he rose above that tendency and instead he decided to transform his personal tragedy into what would bene8it the whole world by writing about how you can overcome traumatic events. Viktor helped the whole

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world by writing about his experience and proving you could overcome adverse and horrible life experiences. I think you should handle your own feeling in the same way." "How?" “Since you don't like the state in which this traumatic experience has left you, think of the innocent children who may still suffer and undergo the same horror you are going through as an adult. Think like Viktor, think of a way of making the world better with what you have passed through. " The sessions continued for about a month and by then, I felt the courage to hang on. I often wondered however about a lot of other people who have had a similar experience to mine and who were dying in silence. It was for them that I felt compelled to write this. No matter what, there is always a light at the end of a dark tunnel, but alone we are too blind see it. How I wish they all become ex-asylums, just like me. 

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Poetry

The Baltimore Field of Dreams Erren Kelly

Playing a baseball game before an empty crowd is like a jazz musician playing to shadows in a club or a poet reading to himself they are their own music making their own heaven as a war rages on the city streets A true artist doesn't think about the rewards or the af8irmation or even the criticism he doesn't even care if no one is looking an artist just creates and the 8inished product is its own applause

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Fiction

Pretending is pretending to pretend Robert Wexelblatt

I

n 2005, twenty-three year-old artist Dakota Strether was killed by eight shots 8ired by two New York City policemen. The meaning of this event was not a matter of dispute. Most New Yorkers were glad about it; the policemen were

called heroes, given commendations and two months off. Not a tragedy but a tragedy averted—that was the story, and that was that. But Ms. Strether’s friends protested to those who would listen, which was almost nobody, that this bloody business was a terrible misunderstanding. “The masses never get the avant-garde,” the painter and songwriter Malcolm Pizzelli, who’d been one of Ms. Strether’s 8ive roommates in SoHo walkup, told the Village Voice bitterly. People did want to hear from Dakota Strether’s parents, though, but, ashamed and bewildered, they turned down all requests for interviews, quickly hauling the body back to Eau Claire. Besides, what was there to possibly say after al-Qaeda declared their daughter a martyr? In a sense, that’s what she was, but the terrorists got it wrong too. She wasn’t a martyr to their faith, let alone their cause. Instead, she’d died for a theory.

Theory. Simply put, it’s when the practical grudgingly grant that some far-fetched eventuality could occur, they say that it might happen theoretically, stressing the third syllable so you know what they really think. To many theorists, though—the devoted, the congenital—extremes are irresistible. They will drive their arguments right up to the edge of the cliff, before plummeting over it. There’s a joke about a person of this type who gets elected to the European Parliament. Some obviously level-headed proposal is up for vote, and he’ll inevitably object with the following: “I will allow that the plan might work in practice, but—ah—will it work in theory?” The late intellectual Jules Altique, one of the world’s most eminent stars a decade ago, was a voluble, prolix, hyperkinetic exponent of theories that were so complex and muf8led in language so opaque that even the American graduate students who adored his brilliance couldn’t make out what he really meant. Altique was so
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Pretending is pretending to pretend Robert Wexelblatt

thoroughgoing a theorist that his commitment wasn’t to any theory but to theory itself that transcends the boundaries of physics, our sublunary senses, the human condition. According to his obituary in Le Figaro, Altique’s politics “appeared to be anarchist, except when they weren’t.” His cultural tastes, following mysterious strictures, extended from high classical to low popular, as he produced essays on Racine, Walt Disney, Catullus, and Madonna. In his last years, Jules Altique’s eminence was nearly as great as Nelson Mandela’s. He was the big draw at the New York Review of Literature’s First Conference on Artistic Freedom and its keynote speaker. It was on this occasion that the great theorist took his most famous position in one of his briefest sentences: “I stand for the liberation of everybody everywhere from everything.” It was the 8irst line of his address, as well as his last. In between, he spoke of the obligation to break barriers and challenge limits, to crack the constraints laid like shackles upon human thought and artistic expression. “There is no liberation without transgression,” he posited to a crowd of thousands. “All those who seek liberation must have the courage not merely to astonish, to shock, but to outrage, to disgust. I stand for the liberation of everybody everywhere from everything.” Dakota Strether heard Altique’s speech; a college friend had gotten her a ticket. When she returned to her friends in SoHo, she was euphoric, inspired. All that gloomy winter she had been stymied by writer’s block, painter’s block, composer’s block, supercharged with the craving to create, yet creating nothing. But now, in her black turtleneck and faded jeans, Dakota announced to her friends that she had at last found her vocation, her purpose. But when they asked what she had in mind, she placed a 8inger in front of her Mona Lisa lips. A week later, at high noon, Dakota Strether marched resolutely down Broadway in a too-large pea jacket she’d appropriated from Pizzelli. At Chamblers Street, she halted by the black iron fence surrounding City Hall Park, doffed the jacket and revealed a 8isherman’s vest whose pockets she had stuffed with red cylinders and black wires. People looked, made noises, started to run. The new always presents itself as atrocious; an authentic artist must not hesitate to appall. Liberation lies in transgression, and all true art is liberating. Dakota

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Pretending is pretending to pretend Robert Wexelblatt

Strether looked toward the trees, the 8leeing people. Ecstatic about her breakthrough and intoxicated by the verses she was about to declaim, she opened her arms wide. But before she could shout out the 8irst word, the two terri8ied policemen opened 8ire.

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Poetry

Raison d’être Gary Beck

The daily news of terrorist attacks is supplemented by mad rampages, domestic abuse, innovative violence as we invent new ways to harm each other, whether for a cause, or inexplicable assault. No matter how hard we try to make sense of insane acts too many of them are beyond comprehension.

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danielgrzeszkiewicz.deviantart.com

Political Fiction Daniel Grzeszkiewicz

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Poetry

Political Preferences Gary Beck

U.S. Senators, elected with millions of dollars from special interests, righteously proclaim moral indignation when they announce to the public the C.I.A. tortured prisoners after 9/11. They informed the people it’s undemocratic to abuse prisoners just to get information that might save lives, since it’s preferable to let citizens die, rather then resort to un-American activities.

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Poetry

Hurry and Wait Morgan Bazilian Men in double-pleated pants tan, with cuffs walking with sloppy, con8ident strides cell phones on their hips in black holders that make a “8lip� sound blue-tooth devices attached in their ears watching old football games on tablets Folding slices of pizza and eating their eyes wild and hungry napkins scrunched up in their right hands slices in their left cheap fake leather computer bags with too many zippers big metal watches with lots of functions And then a small twinkle or spark in their eyes as they mutter at the pilot to get the plane the fuck off the ground so they can get home in time to put their kids to bed.

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Fiction

The Underneath Courtney Watson

“D

on't let me up for two minutes. I mean it,” said Hector, peering into the water. “Not a problem, Pop-n-Fresh,” said Nick, Hector's nineteen-year-

old brother. “I heard you the 8irst 8ive times.” Nick put his Nintendo DS down on the CoolDeck, poked Hector, and dove head8irst into the deep end of the Petrelis family swimming pool. His body was long and graceful. When Nick broke the surface of the water and brushed away his shaggy hair, dappled gold in the Florida sunlight, Hector thought it looked as if he had been born there—the birth of Venus re-imagined by Abercrombie & Fitch. Grinning, Nick stood in the middle of the pool, his skin tan and his eyes very, very green. Hector, on the other hand, more closely resembled one of their mother's pale, wistful Lladro 8igurines. He hesitated at the edge, his toes curled over the deck. Nick slapped his open palms against the water. The noise he made profoundly irritated Hector. “You coming in, Beej?” Nick asked. Hector's best friend, Bijal Bannerjee, was in charge with minding the bright yellow stopwatch. Bijal shook her head, and Hector noticed that her long dark hair had a slightly reddish cast in the sunlight. She had spent the last several minutes scrutinizing a diagram of how to perform CPR. She’d printed it off Google. Just in case. “I still say that you should start with a shorter amount of time. Five minutes is way too long,” said Bijal. “Five minutes is nothing. It's not even a commercial break. I've been practicing.” Hector swung his arms at his sides and poised himself to jump into the pool, then changed his mind and walked to the steps at the shallow end. A shiver ran across his shoulders. It was three days into the new year, though the temperature hovered around 80 degrees and the pool water was only marginally cooler. Hector edged into the pool, one step at a time, paddling over to Nick and standing up in the chest-deep 


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water, resenting each of the seven inches that separated the top of his brother's head from his own. “If you start to drown, give us a signal,” said Bijal. “Flail,” said Nick. “Right. Don't start the clock until he's standing on my back.” Hector pulled his neon-blue goggles over his eyes and took a deep breath, trying to 8ill his nose and mouth and lungs. He eased himself under, his plan running through his head the way a news ticker crawled across the television screen: just don't breathe. Hector struggled to get to the bottom of the pool. Nick put one of his over-sized feet on Hector's back and eased him down, his feet pinning Hector's thighs and shoulder blades to the bottom. Hector knew that if he didn't succeed this time, he never would. On the bottom of the pool was a mosaic of an ibis, which was practically the only part of the house that had remained untouched during the renovation. Hector could feel his ribs pressed against the white glass tiles, searing into his skin.

Hector wondered how long he had been under. Thirty seconds, maybe more. There really was nothing to it. The water felt nice against his skin. Refreshing, even. Hector's mom, Hannah Petrelis, 8irst reminded him about the Greek Orthodox Epiphany celebration a little over a month earlier, right after Thanksgiving. Hector hadn't thought they would bother keeping up appearances this year. The fact that Hannah and Pete Petrelis were proceeding as they normally would encouraged Hector and, now, he was more determined than ever to see the event go smoothly. Five generations of Petrelises had participated in the ceremony, which took place at dawn every year in a tiny inlet on the opposite side of New Port Noelle. During Epiphany, young men declare their faith and commemorate the holy baptism by diving into the black harbor, searching for a large gold cross cast into the water by a priest. The one who retrieves the cross receives a blessing from the priest. The latter then goes to the winner's home and blesses it again with the now-holy water from the harbor. It was one of the most important days of the year for the Greeks, and the now-famous ritual attracted a lot of local attention. Though the holiday itself was

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properly known as the Feast of Theophany, Hector believed that the church used its less formal name to make for jazzier headlines. The tradition had persisted in the town of New Port Noelle, known to the locals as New Port Nowhere. Like all good traditions, there was no shortage of lore surrounding it. Once every couple of decades or so, someone died, usually from a freak accident or an ill-timed seizure. There were always injuries: sprains and bumps and bruises; 8ingers and palms sliced open by barnacles and rusted crab traps; 8lesh laid bare in the burning, brackish water; sea lice and jelly 8ish stings. In recent memory, a young man named Theo Savopoulous had emerged from the water, dripping and empty-handed. Dozens of shimmering, thumb-print-sized blue-button jelly8ish had been clinging to his skin, their tentacles anchored into his 8lesh. When Hannah Petrelis suggested that Hector dive for the cross this year, his 8irst instinct was to refuse. He had several objections, all of them sound. The 8irst, of course, was that he really didn't want to die. Death wasn't a frequent occurrence during the cross-diving competition, but it did happen, and because it could. Hector believed that it would. So his solution was to practice. Hector's second objection was that, based on prior performance, he clearly wasn't the Petrelis man for the job. Nick bested him at every activity, from Little League baseball to Guitar Hero. Even Nick's twin sister, Amara, the reigning family champion at air hockey, Wii tennis and Dance Dance Revolution, would have been a much better choice, if only she wasn’t a girl. Unfortunately, Nick was too old, and the Petrelis cousin next in line after Hector wouldn't be old enough to participate in the event for another two years. It was dif8icult to predict what would be left of the Petrelis family by then; Hector had no choice. Hector allowed a thin stream of air bubbles to escape from his nose. Nick's feet were digging into him, and Hector didn't think that he could move even if he wanted to. He wondered what Nick and Bijal were talking about. He could hear their voices, burbling above the quiet gulp of the pool 8ilter. Hector thought that Bijal, who was small and dark like his mother, looked very nice today—and for the millionth time, he

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thanked the universe that she wasn't Nick's type. He liked tall blonds like Gemma Sweeney, Pete Petrelis's jogging buddy. Nick was a lot like his dad that way. Hector knew that he had to be approaching the three-minute mark. He was maybe past it. When Hector had told Nick that he wanted to dive for the cross, Nick said that the winner was always the guy who could hold his breath the longest. While the others came up, gasping for air before going back down, the winner was the one who found the cross on the 8irst try. “All you have to do is hold your breath longer than anybody else,” Nick said sagely. “Figure that out, and you're golden.” The third reason for Hector's reluctance to participate in the Epiphany dive was the one that would hurt his mother the most: the Petrelis family wasn’t actually Greek. Not a single drop of Greek blood ran in any of their veins. This nonsense had started three generations earlier when Hector's great-grandparents on his father's side, the Petrls, immigrated from Albania. Finding no community of their own, the Petrls changed their name and made their home among the Greek sponge divers in Tarpon Springs, a few miles south of New Port Noelle. His mother's grandparents had virtually the same story, though they were Turkish. Hector's great-grandmother, Ayse, had lived long enough to tell him her stories about her childhood spent on the banks of the Bosporus. As a result of the way his great-grandparents wholly embraced their new community, Hector had spent his entire incense-choked life eating overcooked, over-seasoned lamb and honeyed bricks of baklava. It was also the reason why Nick's feet were pinning Hector to the bottom of the pool when he was running out of air. Hector knew that he had to be getting close. He could still hear Nick and Bijal talking. He heard his best friend laugh and felt a stab of annoyance. Nick wasn't funny, and Bijal was way too smart to laugh at one of Nick's dumb jokes. She was the brightest one in their high school class. She was probably just being polite. The thought reassured Hector. He exhaled a little more and listened to the sound of bubbles bursting in the water. They had grown up together, Hector and Bijal. They had carpooled together, studied together, commiserated together. Her parents, Dr. & Dr. Bannerjee, were strict and very into being Hindu. The doctors approved of the Petrelis's devotion to their

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faith. They liked Hector, and he and Bijal had spent many afternoons at his house or hers, consoling themselves with spanokopita and tzatziki, curry and naan. One day soon, Hector would have to tell Bijal that he sort of loved her. Hector felt the weight of the water now, pushing against him. Bijal was the only one who knew the true extent of his terror, and his primary reason for not wanting to dive. Hector had never liked water. The pool, with the bleachy, chlorine smell that burned his throat and eyes, was bad enough. He'd had nightmares about it for years; he'd seen a special on 20/20 called A Killer in Your Own Back Yard, which summed up all of the ways you could die in and around the family pool. Slip off the diving board at just the right angle, sever your cervical spine, and drown. Hit your head on the concrete wall while swimming laps underwater. Forget to apply liberal amounts of sunscreen, get third degree burns, and have an infection set in. Get sucked into the drain at the bottom of the pool and have your internal organs ripped from various ori8ices. Chemical burns from overzealous chlorination. Flesh-eating bacteria. Melanoma. Unlikely, he knew, but try telling that to the fourteen people who were disemboweled every year thanks to the pool. The pool, however, was like a warm bath compared to the real waterless than twenty feet from Hector’s pool. The Petrelis family home was built four feet above sea level on Noelle Bayou The three story stucco house rose like a leviathan on the breakwater, where the silty black current of the Pithlachascottee River bled into the briny green Gulf of Mexico. The bayou was vast and bleak, guarded by a snarl of skeletal mangroves on two sides. The mangroves were unattractive in the daytime and menacing at night, but illegal to cut down for fear of erosion. Hector and Bijal spent hours in those trees as children, testing branches and building kingdoms. One day, when they were ten, Hector fell through the branches, tumbling into a swampy wetness that was neither land nor water Black water. Black snakes. The dangers in the pool were medieval, but those snakes were the stuff of nightmares. Hector was out of air. Something trembled deep in his chest. He had to pinch his 8ingers over his nose to keep from inhaling the chlorinated water, which Hannah Petrelis color-treated to make it look “a little bluer.” A little bit of water went up his nose anyways, and Hector felt a burning spasm in his throat and behind his eyes. It

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had been so long since he had been underwater that he had forgotten how much that hurt. The spasm passed, and Hector clamped his 8ingers tighter and waited for Nick to move his feet. Everyone worked to keep the house clean. It was brand-new, built on the site of the family’s former home. Pete, Hannah, Hector and Nick loved the house—the way that it rose majestically above the water, bright-white and monstrous, was like a Greek villa on steroids. An image 8lashed through Hector's mind. It was right after the 8lood, when the plans were drawn up for the new house. At three stories and close to 6000 square feet, it was more than three times the size of the old home .Hannah had pressed her hands onto the blueprints, her eyes gleaming. “Nick and Amara will never bother you again, Hector. We could all probably go weeks in this place without seeing each other.” Like everyone else in the family, Hector had hoped that the house would save them. He remembered wondering, right after the freak storm had ravaged several little towns along the coast, if the No-Name Storm had hit New Port Nowhere solely for his family's salvation. Before the storm, his parents talked about separating, about papers being signed and the equitable division of assets. Pete grew distant, retreating to the small den every evening to play Halo with Nick. ,Hannah grew desperate, baking in excess and organizing rigidly enforced family fun days that were anything but. But what Hector remembered most was that it was the year Amara became mean. Hector really didn't have any air. The urge to inhale, to gasp, was overwhelming. He felt a popping sensation in his ears; the feeling of something in his chest doubled. His throat expanded and contracted, and there was nothing in the world that he wanted more than to just open his mouth. Why wasn't Nick moving yet? Hector thought about breathing in the water, about what a relief it would be to give in to re8lex. He felt the weight of evolution urging him to do what had come naturally: to breathe. Like many of their neighbors, Pete had prepared well for the disaster, loading up on insurance policies and supplemental plans that paid big, just in case. That, coupled with government disaster aid, made for a big payday for many local residents. In a matter of months, the bare bones of gigantic new constructions had

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eaten up the charming little neighborhood that Hector had grown up in. The tiny streets were now lined with McMansions, and the residents had all become 8luent in the strange new language of temperature-stable wine storage and perimeter surveillance. Things were better for Hector's parents when the construction of the home they always wanted was underway. The house had had a soothing effect on Pete and Hannah. During their intense discussions about wainscoting and paint load-bearing walls, they found common ground. It seemed to Hector that, for the 8irst time in many years, they had something to talk about other than their children. The house was a shared interest, a passion. They had something now that couldn't be divided; to divest themselves of each other would mean to vacate their dream home, ceding the proceeds to lawyers. The price was simply too high. It was decided without anyone ever knowing: Hannah could plan parties and shop, judge others and be married. Pete could have Gemma Sweeney and a commercial gas grill, his catamaran, Sweet Hannah, and his good name. And no one in New Port Nowhere could say a bad word about any of them. Oddly, Hector wasn't bothered by his parent's unspoken understanding. They were faking it, all of them, and Hector would too. He would play the Greek who wasn't, diving into water on the misnamed holiday. If it came to divorce, they would all lose. Hector didn't want their beautiful home to be broken, sold, liquidated. He didn't want his mother to turn into an , addled 8irst wife, packed with Botox with an overpriced handbag rattling with pills. Pete, likewise, would do nothing good with that kind of freedom. No, the Petrelis family would be visible at this event, as they had been for 8ive generations. Their devotion would be noted. Amara was the sole dissenter. Like Hector and Nick, she had been puzzled by their father's sudden interest in jogging. Amara had been angry for a long time, and as the shape of the Petrelis home changed, so did she. Amara was the only one who didn't see the house as their salvation, and her refusal to greet it as such had angered everyone. Hector and Nick had fallen on either side of the fault line: Nick sided with Pete, and Hector with Hannah. Amara, on the other hand, despised them all. Hector didn't know where his sister was right now. Amara didn't know that her brother wasn't breathing. Hector had tried to scare Amara once, which was a

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mistake. If she saw him now, facing his demons and losing, she might've laughed. Amara wasn't afraid of the water. Amara wasn't afraid of anything. Especially Hector's dire warnings: “They might break up if you keep acting this way,” Hector said one morning, after Amara had picked a particularly nasty 8ight with Hannah. Pete was out jogging again, and Amara had said something that simply couldn't be uttered within the Petrelis family's fragile house. Hannah retreated to her new cedar sauna, as she often did, promising to take Amara shopping later if she would just please shut up. Amara was helping Hector with the extra-breakable dishes, the new ones that were too fragile for the new industrial-grade machine. She washed, he dried. The kitchen faced the water, and the view was 8it for stained glass.

“They should,” Amara said, her metallic black 8ingernails scraping a price sticker from some small tchotchkes their mother had found at an antique store. “They won't, though.” “They might,” Hector insisted. “And risk losing this place?” Amara said, raising an eyebrow. “You think too highly of our parents.” Hector was dying. He was sure of it. He was trying to move, to 8lail, but he couldn't. His hands were on his mouth, his ears, his nose, trying to keep the water out. His eyes hurt and something black was seeping into his irises. He blinked and saw purple through his blue goggles, into the blue water. He twisted like one of the black snakes in the mangroves and wondered why Nick was trying to kill him. Would he really do that in front of Bijal? Would he then drown her too? Or was she in on it? Things stopped making sense. Hector blinked again, and decided that his eyes were leaking rage. He shouldn't be here. He dreaded water. He wasn't Greek. He hated Pete for falling out of love with Hannah. He hated Hannah for thinking that heated tiles and Sub-Zero appliances were any match for the bouncy jogger Gemma Sweeney, with her thick blond ponytail and bright-pink UnderArmor. He hated Amara for seeing everything so clearly, and for forsaking all of them so completely. He hated the Greeks for dreaming up such a stupid tradition in the 8irst place. And he really hated Nick, whose clown feet were pressing into him as 8irmly as ever. Hector should

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have known better than to agree, to insist, on the perpetuation of the lie that would force them all together at dawn on Sunday morning, clamoring for one more blessing as Hector hurled himself into the black water in the pursuit of something shiny and bright. For that, he hated himself. Hector felt the insides of his ears pulsate. His panicking heart was somewhere outside of his body entirely. His brother's feet were still 8irmly planted, and purplish drops from his eyes splotched his goggles. Tears? No. Then he remembered the way that blood vessels popped when people suffocated. Without thinking about it, Hector released his hands from his nose and mouth, inhaling deeply. Water rushed inside of him: up his nose and down his throat, 8illing his stomach and his lungs. It burned. For a second, relief, then terror. He was still dying. He tried to move, to wave his arms, but it was like they didn't belong to him anymore. Hector twisted his neck from one side to the other, his cheeks scraping the tiles on the bottom of the pool. The water possessed Hector and owned him; it saved him and destroyed him. Somewhere in the back of his mind, he really hoped that Bijal understood that diagram. Hector's life did not 8lash before his eyes. There was one image, an absurd moment during the 8ireworks show at the Petrelis's New Year's Eve party A blaze of sparkling light had cascaded over the bayou, and Hector watched himself standing on the balcony with his family and Bijal. He saw them standing together, smiling and toasting and cheering as their world burned. Blackness drifted over Hector so quickly. He thought that he felt Nick 8inally move, releasing him and then pulling him to the surface, but he couldn't be sure. There was only the water, and the steady hum of the pool 8ilter.

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Poetry

Discs

Sherman Scott When I was young I was taught fun is loud, and loud is annoying. I lived in a museum of eardrums, priceless coddled does. I grew up a gramophone, needle pinched and rotor smoking. I want to sing for you but I was broken long before.

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betteo.deviantart.com

Twin Sisters Patricio Betteo

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Fiction

Fitting in Philip Kuan

“F

ingers, FINGERS!” Wendy made a face, then grabbed a handful of air before pulling her arm back in. They were driving down a road with sycamores

8lashing by on both sides, too distant to snap off her little 8ingers, but mother was mother. Had it been the Other, the one more patient or passive (she never knew which), they’d be privy to a half-question that wasn't quite…that. “Air-con?” Other asked, as he raised her window. “Why don’t you ask Daniel?” It was the cruelest response, but she didn’t care, retreating further behind two boxes of cookery stacked uncomfortably upon her lap. As they continued in silence her thoughts strayed, trying to count the months since they had last addressed her by name. It wasn’t deliberate or vindictive. It was simply ef8icient, her harmless world where names weren’t needed if enough routine, layered with micro-management, could negate the utility of a verbal identity. Pick an evening and it would have gone something like: “Dinner, DINNER!” That would be mother, with jarring shrieks like the notes of a poorly played viola. "Time to eat?" That would be Other, still plugged into his after-market trading, but mostly just idling in the den. At their dinner table, mother would approach, spouting proud vernacular housed within an underwhelming accent, half-relevant proverbs accompanying each dish even as her own child shriveled yet again at the stench of MSG. Then, they would sit: mother, Other, and their dutiful tiger cub who’d long since abandoned her cravings for a 8lank steak. Ungrateful snorts and morose chewing would be met with an unimpressed glare from the one lying in wait for that weak, apologetic smile before spitting hot temper into a wok. “No, NO!" mother would blast as she pulled out, then shoved back in that block of ice from the freezer, tantrum in full swing while Other hid behind their portable shaved ice machine.
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"What, no ice? So what? I HATE shaved ice.” Cries of "Algebra, ALGEBRA," would follow like a 8ire alarm, and Wendy would trudge into her room, suppressing that welling sense of guilt one gets as an unspoiled child acting spoiled. Slamming her door just enough to be heard without being heard too much, she would sit down to study as best she could, taking minute breaks to stoke her rage until she was rewarded with the padded footsteps of Other, just outside her door. He would enter, whispering "Shaved ice?" from behind that bowl of smuggled sawdust drenched beneath 8lecks of powdered milk and red bean. Just the way she hated it. But still, Wendy would swallow her sighs and spoon in a mouthful begrudgingly, letting him pat her bangs shyly before 8leeing back to his den. Afterwards, she'd 8ind a toilet to scoop in the rest, watching the un-melting red beans twirling across the porcelain. The car door was yanked open and a scolding intruded upon her daydreams. As Wendy waited for the boxes to be taken off her lap, she peered out and found them parked within an uninspiring motel parking lot. Lacking even the decency to appear “seedy”, all that it could advertise was enough free Wi-Fi to accommodate those higher-educated sorts of families still wading through whatever it was that Other kept blaming, for their lack of permanence. Like all of their previous stops it was safe, and temporary. The next morning, Other left in a well-ironed suit, carrying classi8ied ads from the nearest market and moving with an affected gait that belied his evening slouches. Mother watched him bend left around the nearest traf8ic light, chasing him with expectations higher than Other’s own. She then sighed, verbally lamenting the scarcity of frozen dumplings in this uncomfortable place. And it really was uncomfortable, Wendy later thought as she carried her grammar books down to the empty motel pool. The plastic furniture felt scattered, at frayed angles, all of them facing inward except for one beach umbrella. Anxiety convinced her to sit a fair distance from its subtle disarray, mutters of “Who’s there?” resonating beneath her breath until a pair of pale speckled faces popped out from both sides. Twin boys, one or two years younger than herself. As they tilted their

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umbrella to gather more shade, she could see a 8lash of tarot-looking cards spread upon their blanket. One of them glanced at her again. As she frantically 8lipped through her textbook, she tried to avoid the encroachment of what she imagined to be a chubby earwig, the voice of a 8looding memory crawling nearer to her inner ear while whispering reminders of how stupid she looked, on that hot autumn day, squinting across a playground while watching recess from beneath a chain-linked fence, Pinyin of last Saturday's workbook open on her lap. But even with her back secured to the fence she felt un-deciphered, surrounded by strange, vicious children 8linging balls or sticks or even rocks at each other's faces. A snarling shadow played American Hero just yards away, his shoulder cocked with wicked intention and a handful of twigs as he noticed her noticing. In an instant Wendy’s workbook was back up, but her burning skin betrayed her. The clouds shifted, capturing her within bars of sunlight, trapping her on all sides without blocking the laughter she thought she heard, or the twig she thought she felt pelting her jeans as she 8led, only to be halted at the gate by two stone lions, tied together by a string of red envelopes, refusing her exit until she acknowledged that these envelopes weren't envelopes, that these lions weren't lions, and that she was, in actuality, still planted in front of the same two spectral boys playing cards by the pool. They were both looking at her now, waiting. "…Can I play?" she asked with a tone she hoped was without desperation. What followed was the two of them sidling close, one on either side, excitedly whispering nonsensical oddities like "prospectors sacri8ice a golem, and thieving magpies draw!" or "lightening grieves cannot be targeted…sacri8ice regrouping!" Horri8ied, she fought through their grip and 8led through a darkening gate. Their cackling cries followed, resembling ravens resonating through the branches of a dead willow still hanging from the sky. "Color Management! Caw! Mana Accelera—" she slammed shut her door and spent the rest of the week indoors. Wendy’s 8irst day at the local school began and ended in a pastel of charcoal gray and off-white self-re8lections, glancing off textbooks, chalkboards, and drab peels of bungalow paint. She felt as un8inished as ever, idly running through linear equations

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in her notebook while a faceless collective stared at trivial multiplication sets upon the board. When called upon, she would furrow her brow and give generic wrong answers, then receive reassurances that kept her from notoriety. During breaks, she would migrate across the yard, making up destinations so as to avoid appearing lonely. By the end of the day, her boredom spinning like ceiling fans, she realized that what she needed more than a syllabus or practice tests, more than viola lessons or a language tutor, was a cold drink. As Wendy walked home that afternoon, there appeared behind her a boy, perhaps older, playing stepping games with her shadow. When she noticed, he noticed. When she slowed, conspicuously inconspicuous, he only chuckled as he passed. A few blocks later he was there again, panting and smirking with an ice cold drink, which he offered up playfully like a consummate genie. She accepted it reluctantly, not sure whether she dared to drink it. But she did, and didn’t object as he walked her back to the motel, where she knew mother would have ready Monday’s supper of soy sauce eggs over instant ramen. By the time she arrived at her door, he had already disappeared. The drink was refreshing, though. The next morning was so similar to the 8irst that she found herself predicting platitudes from the mouths around her, unwelcome sounds that crowded the room. Her mind felt smothered by electric blankets, shielding everyone from whatever 8luids 8illed Wendy’s head. Finally the bell rang, chasing away the haze that still bleared her teacher's eyes. Outside, that same boy waited, brightening as she approached. “I…thanks for the drink." As they walked, she offered him a dollar reimbursement but he refused, instead blurting an introduction that was rife with the familiarity of a favorite poem. It was awkward, but somehow it unmuted her ears, shaking her awake like a fall out of the sky. Their muf8led conversation was becoming clear, like breaking the surface of a year-long submersion. Wendy swallowed her relief as best she could, for the 8irst time punching enough perforations to see why her life was becoming spongy with so many pockets of anxiety. Sounds were not only becoming clearer, but also lines became straighter, shrewdly tracing the shapes that made up her world’s adjacencies; so much so that

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she could discern the ants between the sidewalk’s cracks, down to the mandibles on their clicking heads. She looked up at this strange boy, suddenly looming, with as much intensity as she could muster. Smatterings of reverence 8illed her thoughts, not because he was particularly impressive, or socially savvy, but because he loitered in a discernible way. His nature, perhaps oblivious to both of them, seemed to identify him as the slope to a derivative that she couldn’t quite conceptualize. But before she could clarify, the boy grabbed her wrist and took off across the street into the ribs of a commercial complex still under construction. "Something you should see," he explained. Un8inished networks of wiring and plumbing couldn't keep out the warmth that was now coalescing upon her like dew. Bursting dramatically through a nonexistent sliding glass door, they reached a residential street, sloping steeply towards a private property sign at the bottom of a hill. Behind it, the glittering ocean beckoned. Without slowing, they raced towards it, dodging traf8ic, cyclists and pets before trespassing past a sign, all but trampled by their recklessness. The deserted house behind it had a backyard path protected by a short brick wall, which they were already scaling. Suddenly she was kicking sand up behind her as they crossed a private beach. She tried to admire what she assumed was their destination, but her friend only tightened his grip and sped up, heading straight towards the crashing waves. When she tried to object, her voice was only met with violent gusts of wind from an ocean trying to prevent strangers from entering. When they took that initial jump, Wendy was already imagining the scolding she would get when she arrived home, drenched. Yet, instead of tumbling into the water, her toe simply grazed the turbulent surface, using it as a platform to launch her several yards up, with her friend in tow. Their next jump took them even higher and farther, past the weather buoys. By the third leap they had left behind a city sinking beneath the coastline. By the 8ifth they had broken through a thick patch of clouds in a parabolic curve. When they eventually descended, a forested island loomed beneath them. They landed softly on a narrow beach outlined by jagged rock formations, lapped by the Great Paci8ic moat. The only true entrance was where they had landed, before

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a rusted gate nearly torn off its hinges, nearly collapsed upon the snaking edges of a redwood canopy. Her companion, having dusted himself off, had already slipped past the broken joints, and was waiting on the other side. As they explored the forest’s serenity she thought she recognized, camou8laged behind the backdrop, a diorama. Each plant and animal seemed an outcast in a shoebox 8illed with outcasts, huddled together yet refusing participation in their own natural selection. Beneath the cover of the higher canopy they seemed to grip each other tightly, out of some concoction of love and fear. And somehow, all of it left Wendy feeling both protected and parasitic, trampling through good intentions that were never meant for her. The winding path turned from dirt to cobbled pebble, to sanded marble. Then they were at a house with no doors. Built with permanence in mind, the remnants of the steel reinforced concrete home encircled an opal fountain of a central courtyard, where island growth should have in8iltrated years ago. It was surrounded on three sides by rooms with three walls, like a half-opened dollhouse. To one side was a living room, cluttered with the residue of a young couple's despair, wine stains on the carpet. Dust covered everything, except for a gramophone that had been left with its needle on center, spinning static. When she reset its orbit it began to play the musty, slow-tempo crooning of someone reminiscing, about forgotten guilt. Next to the song sat an old revolver, unloaded but ominous. The center room was prepped for dining, plated with pale rusted silverware and framed by heavy drapes, suppressing the secrets that lurked within. There was something intentional about the way it excluded its scenery, in spite of that missing fourth wall. The dining table itself was ovular, well prepped to seat a dozen without feeding anyone. Crystal tulips adorning the centerpiece refracted light onto her. Suddenly she was yawning, wondering how it had gotten so late. Vaguely she also wondered where her friend had gone. The 8inal bend contained the curves of an open hallway, lined with portraits of that same newlywed couple from the living room. Oddly enough, they were consistently held out of focus, made to hold hands while something that wasn’t quite discernable posed between them. Stopping at one photograph of a colorless beach,

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she studied the blurred faces, of three round marks on a buttermilk canvas, unable to decipher who was smiling and who wasn’t. A bedroom beckoned at the end of the hall, this one housing a full four walls brimming with shades of black and brown photography. A pair of beds pushed against one side, 8lanked by nightstands laden with yellow pearl necklaces and cracked diamond broaches. The rest of the room was decorated with the adornments of American fortitude: stacks of newspapers bleeding history into other stacks, letters of warning incessant, everywhere. Wendy was nearing exhaustion now, biting the tips of her thumbs to keep from collapse. With her remaining strength she dragged a chair to the dresser and climbed up. More photos. The same two blurs stared back at her, faceless from image to image, bathed in anonymity, until they parted in a frame at the back of the dresser. It was the same couple, grinning while screaming, despair paired with desperation as a child, a third, standing between them with the same indecipherable holes on its encumbered face. She tried desperately to ignore the familiarity of its jeans, its hairstyle, and especially that sweatshirt with the same 8loral patterns as the one being worn while standing atop this chair, in this bedroom, with two hands that don’t belong, resting around a neck, hands of strangers with faces still blurred but now de8initively screaming and poised on either side, waiting for the cue, waiting for the gramophone needle to reach its center…. When the dismissal bell rang next morning Wendy was the 8irst one out, sprinting towards their spot. He wasn’t there, nor was he on the road home. She even stopped by the private beach, now 8illed with strangers. Back home, over some lo mein in a styrofoam box, she picked at her broccoli while reading about mitochondria. As she wiped her mouth on a napkin with “dinner, dinner!” scrawled on it, sounds of laughter wafted by the window. Peering outside she found him, sitting next to a pair of familiar twins. Her brow darkened on her way to the pool. She was ashamed of the thistles prickling her stomach, but it was only natural after the way she’d been cast out, now glaring helplessly as she imagined them wrinkling their nose at her ethnic stench.

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They were poisoning her while they collaborated, plotting something that she could’ve been a part of from the beginning. After all, she had met him 8irst! They didn’t exactly ignore her, but they ignored her glares. Without remorse, the boy was already turning towards an abandoned staircase cleverly stationed behind a motel vending machine. But struggle as she did to retain her animosity, all of it faded as she followed them in. The 8irst step, barely a foot wide from side to side, was so narrow that they had to squeeze in sideways, an impractical design that served no purpose. There wasn't even an exit sign posted atop the stucco. As they ascended, each step widened steadily, until she found herself ascending a palace, sneakers squeaking on marble. Her counting of steps took them far past the height of the two-story motel, reaching illogical altitudes. If it weren’t for the hollowed square of a clouded sky approaching from above, a giddy image of a descending jigsaw puzzle, she wouldn’t have believed it. Wendy realized then that she was giddy, her hands trembling at the mere potential of something non-existent yet substantial, the type of epic that would provide de8inition for those she wished to leave behind. A vague shadow seemed to chide her on that last thought before they arrived at their ceiling. The four of them emerged at the center of a 8lattened roof, so heightened that she felt the frost of gray stabbing from every direction. All around the edges of the building, 8lashing clouds passed slowly on an even plane, blending into a tumultuous storm. It could’ve been breathtaking, but without the courage to crawl toward the edges, she felt pinned to a checkerboard square, played by gusts of wind whipping by so roughly that multitudes of herself were swept right off its unprotected borders, until only the real she remained. The boys were yelling urgently now, drowning within the fury, but only Wendy understood her friend’s 8inal gesture, a point towards the heavens just as a shadow overtook him, overtook the skyscraper. And when she looked up, she saw nothing but red. Wendy hurled herself down the stairs in a breathless panic, struggling past the narrowing gaps and gates until she reached her textbooks beside the pool. She tore

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one open in a cold sweat, hoping to concentrate on anything but the unwelcome images now developing in her mind. They invaded without mercy, fading in like a developing Polaroid. There was a dirigible airship, glittering with golden stars and 8lanked from all angles by incomprehensible assortments of bombers and gliders, 8ighters and choppers, 8leets of formation arranged in crimson omens. There was her impulsive friend, leading his devoted twin Russians into those mindless trenches, diving head8irst off the edges with enough faith to ignore those realistic concrete slabs below. And there was her decision not to follow, but to run instead. When Wendy’s thoughts 8inally quieted down, so did the rest of the world. She thought she saw him then, her only ever friend and brother, standing on the other side of the pool. Subtle disappointment stained his clothes. Daniel didn't acknowledge her then, nor would he ever again. She could yell out accusations, or apologies, or stomp her foot like the child she was. She could hurl her textbook at his idle frame, only to watch it 8lutter into the pool. Finally she could sit, letting her 8lip 8lops dangle beneath the water’s chlorinated surface. Intersecting ripples would tell her that he’d have done the same. "It was supposed to be us, just us,” she would whisper softly, hoping to keep him for a bit longer. But when she looked up, he had already left. As she struggled to suppress those last Orwellian thoughts, a part of her tried to conjure up other moods and memories, just to get the bawling going. But before she could, shadows grazed her hand. "Is he gone?" asked one of them, in accented English. Those two sat, not unkindly, on either side of her, letting their own 8lip-8lops dangle as well. This time, she answered.

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Poetry

thin paper lanterns 8loating slowly downriver lead your ghost away

Robert P. Hansen

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Contributors

Morgan Bazilian’s poetry has recently appeared in Exercise Bowler, PaciFic Poetry, Angle Poetry, Dead Flowers, Poetry Quarterly, Garbanzo Literary, and Innisfree. Her short 8iction has been published in Eclectica, South Loop Review, Embodied EfFigies, Shadowbox, Slab, Crack the Spine, and Glasschord.

Gary Beck spent most of his life as a theater director and has eleven published chapbooks and eight published poetry collections with 8ive more accepted for publication. His novels include: Extreme Change, Acts of DeFiance, and Flawed Connections and a short story collection, A Glimpse of Youth. He lives in NYC. Kevin Casey has work forthcoming or has recently appeared in Green Hills Literary Lantern, Paper Nautilus, Rust + Moth, San Pedro River Review, and other publications. His chapbook, The Wind Considers Everything, was recently published by Flutter Press, and another from Red Dashboard is due out later this year. Ezeiyoke Chukwunonso is an MA graduate of Creative Writing, Swansea University Wales. His short stories, poems and non-8iction have appeared in a couple of journals, anthologies and magazines such as Emanation: Foray into Forever, Africa Roar Anthology, Open Road Review, Criterion Journal, ANA Review, Ground's Ear Anthology, Future Lovecraft, and African Eyeball among others. He has been short listed in IdeasTap Inspires: Writers' Centre Norwich Writing competition, Ghana Poetry Prize and Quickfox Poetry Competition. Sommer Cullingford is a poet from New Zealand who is emerging into the cyber-sphere with her unique work. Rich in imagery you can reach for, Sommer is always scrambling the senses through a characteristically evocative selection of words to convey narrative and escape the monotony of the mundane while delivering work with coherent perspective. DC Diamondopolous is an award-winning short story author published on three continents. DC is an honorary winner from the Soul-Making Keats literary competition for 2014, for The Bell Tower and Taps. DC is published both online and in print journals. Taps was originally published on Eskimo Pie.

Mary Donaldson-Evans lives in an eighteenthcentury farmhouse southwest of Philadelphia. A retired French professor, she is attempting the dif8icult transition from writing about 8iction to writing 8iction. Her creative writing has appeared in The Lowestoft Chronicle and thestir.cafemom.com Robert Geyer has dedicated the past 25 years to helping people navigate the complex U.S. healthcare system while leading and inspiring teams of people through encouraging, heartfelt communication. Today, Robert is channeling his passion for storytelling into 8iction that explores our shared human condition. Almost as rare as a unicorn, Robert Geyer is a native Californian, and has spent the better part of his life studying, working and living (but mostly driving) somewhere along Interstate 80 between Sacramento and San Francisco. Farah Ghafoor is a 8ifteen year old poet and a founding editor at Sugar Rascals. She believes that she deserves a cat and/or outrageously expensive perfumes, and can’t bring herself to spend pretty coins. Her work is published or forthcoming in Alexandria Quarterly, alien mouth, Really System, Moonsick and elsewhere. Find her online at fghafoor.tumblr.com. Allison Grayhurst is a member of the League of Canadian Poets. Three of her poems have been nominated for Sundress Publications “Best of the Net” 2015, and she has over 825 poems published in over 365 international journals. She has eleven published books of poetry, seven collections, eight chapbooks, and a chapbook pending publication; allisongrayhurst.com Robert P. Hansen teaches philosophy and writes poetry and 8iction (fantasy, science 8iction, and mystery) in his spare time. His novels and collections (short stories and poetry) are available as eBooks and in print form. Visit his blog (rphansenauthorpoet.wordpress.com) for descriptions, samples of his work, and links to online retailers.

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Contributors

Nashae Jones has had her work appear in Blackberry, American Athenaeum, and Bicycle Review, among others. Her work has been nominated for several awards, including the Pushcart Prize. She currently lives in Virginia with her husband and two kids. Erren Kelly is a Pushcart nominated poet from Seattle. She has over 150 pieces in such publications as Hiram Poetry Review, MudFish, Poetry Magazine (online), Ceremony, Cactus Heart, Similar Peaks, Gloom Cupboard, Poetry Salzburg, The Rain Party and Disaster Society. She has been published in anthologies such as Fertile Ground and Beyond the Frontier, and she is the author of a chapbook, Disturbing The Peace, published by the Night Ballet Press. Philip Kuan has previously been published in CC&D Magazine, Nerve Cowboy, and Garden Gnome Publications. For a full list of his publications, please visit philkuan.wordpress.com/publications

Illustrators Dr. Ernest Williamson has published creative work in over 600 periodicals. His work has appeared in journals such as The Oklahoma Review, The CopperField Review, The Columbia Review, and The Tulane Review. Dr. Williamson is an Assistant Professor of English at Allen University. Patricio Betteo: betteo.blogspot.com.au Daniel Grzeszkiewicz: facebook.com/ DanielGedeonGrzeszkiewicz Jordan Ososki: ososkiart.com Please support our artists, poets and authors by visiting their websites.

Scott Sherman is a graduate of Ursinus College, where he got his BA in English. His writing revolves around short, abstract depictions of dreams, youth, and relationships. Tom A. Thorogood enjoys examining the tiny moments that make us human. He has been published a scant number of times, mostly places now defunct (he's pretty sure it wasn't his fault). He lives in Seattle, WA and can be followed on Twitter: @tathorogood Courtney Watson is an English professor and writer in Roanoke, Virginia. Robert Wexelblatt is professor of humanities at Boston University’s College of General Studies. He has published two story collections Life in the Temperate Zone and The Decline of Our Neighborhood; a book of essays, Professors at Play; two short novels, Losses and The Derangement of Jules Torquemal, as well as essays, stories, and poems in a variety of journals. His novel Zublinka Among Women won the Indie Book Award for 8iction. His most recent book is The Artist Wears Rough Clothing. Another, Heiberg’s Twitch, is forthcoming.

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Profile for Alana Lopez

Volume5 issue19 winter2016  

Poetry and fiction magazine for emerging writers.

Volume5 issue19 winter2016  

Poetry and fiction magazine for emerging writers.

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