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NEW LOOK

The Corner Club Quarterly Volume 5 Issue 20 Spring 2016




The Corner Club Press where poetry and fiction converge


The Corner Club Quarterly

Submissions:

Founder and Managing Editor Amber S. Forbes Co-Founder Daphne D. Maysonet

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 Submissions must be original and unpublished and conform to submission guidelines outlined on the website.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. Send to: thecornerclubpress@gmail.com Style: We follow the Chicago Manual of Style.

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/Diction contained herein is entirely coincidental. Please support our artists, poets and authors by visiting their websites.

Graphic Designer Alana Lopez

Cover art: pray.and.spray by Patricio Betteo

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Editor’s Note

Editor’s Note The truth about fireworks… Alana Lopez, Production Editor The Corner Club Press Image by Ryan McGuire, gratisography.com

Although this issue doesn’t quite fall into Spring, it remains the Spring issue nonetheless, touching upon all the feelings that belie the promise of our dreams, captured and falsi8ied all at once in the sparkle of a celebratory 8irework. This issue is very much about disillusionment; we awake screaming and kicking to our awareness that childhood is but a mere fantasy we dream up as adults, and the promise of adulthood is a prank played on us by the very people who raised us. More than that, it is about a world deeply uncomfortable with itself and the horror it has become. The pieces herein slither into each other, wrapping each other up as if to trip and stubble and crash through the facade we used to hide behind to get us through life—a poet’s croon, a blissful love, a homeland fondly remembered—these are things that soon crumble if we take a closer look. Luckily, it is through this epiphany that we learn how to rebuild a genuine concept of ourselves and what we need / want to be. Sincerely,

Alana Lopez Production Editor and Graphics Designer
 The Corner Club Quarterly


The Corner Club Quarterly

Contents

Poetry 3 The Night Lou Reed Died

by Josef Krebs 7 Necessity

by Rich Ives 22 Epiphany

by Joseph Anthony 32 Hemispheres

by Sheri Vandermolen 46 Leaving

by Devanshi Khetarpal 47 Vignettes

by Sanjeev Sethi 58 Relic

by Devanshi Khetarpal 69 Out-caste

by Sheri Vandermolen 71 Delhi

by Devanshi Khetarpal

Fiction 4 Secret moments in the lives of

the famous by Michael McInnis 9 Expose of a Millennial

by Patrick Key 23 What do you like to be called?

by Melanie Burchby 33 A Catalogue of Princes

by Elson Meehan 38 Slender

by Breanne Mc Ivor 49 The truth about fireworks

by Catherine Sinow 56 Father

by Richard Sensenbrenner 59 Find Buster

by Darlene Campos 74 Shards of Love

by Jayanthi Rangan

70 The Whale

by Michael McInnis

76 Review: Nineteen Steps

Between Us by Trivarna Hariharan

77 Contributors


Poetry

The Night Lou Reed Died Josef Krebs

The night Lou Reed died
 Every bar in the city
 The big borough city
 Played the poet
 Who encapsulated
 What drove us down to town
 Took us back into our lives
 And captured what needed encapsulation anticipation
 Dreams to live to die by
 Sometimes shuddering our way home
 Whilst we tried to recall our listless motivations 
 To get our asses out of lost towns
 And onto the bridges that always smiled at us
 While we waited for acceptance or acknowledgement
 Something that made the beat worth defending 
 The cripples chalice-sing
 Past sifted by the moment

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Fiction

Secret moments in the lives of the famous Michael McInnis

1 Igor Stravinsky watched through a hole in the fence as if he had no money to enter, incarcerated on the outside. The players swatted and threw in syncopated semiquavers, followed by a rest then another frenzied burst. Baseball had returned to the form he liked best: molto allegro. 2 Ernest Hemingway never noticed the hieroglyphics behind the pegboard in his basement workshop until a water-stained piece had broken off. Removing the tools and baby food jars of assorted screws and nails, he dismantled the moldering pegboard and set it on the cement 8loor. He brushed away strings of cobweb and dust. He thought of calling his wife to show her, but she never understood his tinkering. 3 Henry David Thoreau woke to the sound of a frumpy amphibian fussing about in his room. The lizard creature with sausage-like claws struggled to pick up the small objects that littered his desk: a pencil, a piece of wood that he had whittled to pick his teeth with, a saucer tiled with coins and assorted scraps of paper embellished by scribblings that he had jotted down when his mind vacillated between stupor and moments of clarity. 

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Secret moments in the lives of the famous Michael McInnis

4 Myrna Loy woke to 8ind astronauts in her backyard. One astronaut sat against the far fence, his head slumped on his chest weighed down by the white helmet, shimmering in the sun. The other two astronauts lay on the ground, both on their backs. Clouds re8lected in the visors of their helmets like white asterisks sprinkled on the darkened plastic. 5 While cleaning up the cigarettes ground into a rug and the dry, sticky ponds on the kitchen 8loor in her New York apartment, Bette Davis wished she were back in California lounging on Black’s Beach, eating fruit and drinking Singapore Slings with a handsome sailor. 7 Norman Mailer never told anyone that he enjoyed the smell of a new car. For him, that 8labby fragrance of ozone had just enough ethyl formate ester to make him hunger for a stiff drink. 8 A stack of soiled playing cards in his letter box caused Shemp Howard to look over his shoulder and reconsider the story he had cooked up to tell his wife when she questioned him about the stain on his lapel.

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Secret moments in the lives of the famous Michael McInnis

9 Tennessee Williams attributed the plague of 8lashing lights, multi-colored streamers and shrill noises to the “sauce.” Only later, while traveling abroad, did he read about failed weather balloon experiments, rocket circuitry malfunctions and distracted sonarmen. 10 Ava Gardner listened to the wind ringing the guy wires of a nearby radio tower. Rain cracked against the windows of her 8lat. She tried to ignore the storm’s ceaseless energy by re-reading her favorite entries in the dictionary.

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The Corner Club Quarterly

Poetry

Necessity Rich Ives

I couldn’t 8ind it. The cave seemed to be hiding in a cave. It was already the twenty-8irst century. Heart like a textbook, traveled as a bicycle bell, insistent with underage love. The mom-toy wound up again and the dad-toy bumping and bumping. The boy’s right arm is bandaged in gauze. Calliope music returns, sounding patriotic, a slide show of 8ields and plains and sky before people. The twenty-8irst century hiding in the cave. It was already deep in the textbook. I didn’t need to whistle. Love doesn’t just happen. Nature does. It lives, but it’s not a place to stay. The boy’s disability grew more sensitive than he was. The arm arrived again at holding. Little groups of three or four delayed revelations, or the yes men of inadequate bullies, larger than the rooms they lived in. I ate dog-food and gummy bears. I smoked a sword8ish with noise on all sides. I was a smalltime idiot carrying a little old man in my pocket. It’s not my place to criticize, but the streets were empty and the streetlights were directing the traf8ic. I had to wait, but then I entered some lamp-lit caprice, and then I remembered who did this to me, so I stopped. I wanted to live. I would have given my life for it. It’s all so sordid when it happens to somebody else. 7


kizukitamura.deviantart.com

Neuronal Cyril Berthault-Jacquier

The Corner Club Quarterly


Fiction

Expose of a Millennial Patrick Key

I

was raised by an idiot. I didn’t like it. Idiots are the folks that you walk around, over, or through. Yet, when you’re a child, or even a teen, you can’t do any of these things. Running away is illegal. You can’t start a business because

you don’t have any seed money. You can fantasize about murder as much as you like, but sunlight, wind, and rain are nifty things and you need them. You just get to sit there and be a child. Hopefully, you’re a child that will have the gall to not emulate his or her surroundings. I believe that I was one of those kids: sort-of bright, sort-of going to be attractive when I turned twenty-two. I had hope. My mother told me I could shove that hope up my ass. She told me this after claiming that concentration camps would be a good way to solve the illegal immigration problem. I kept my hope out of my ori8ice. Here I was though. I made it to twenty-two with some looks intact. I became a wee bit brighter. My almost-8inished English degree attests to that. Here I was though. “Thanks for choosing Happy Pat’s! Home of the…” “I would like a number four.” “Okay. What size?” “What?” “What size, sir?” “I’m too old to be called sir.” “Okay…you there? Hello?” He drove away. “I guess he was hungry.” “I guess so. Don’t send that order through until he gets here, Jess.” “I already did. We got another person waiting in line.” “You know what’s going to happen, right?”


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“Yeah.” The car pulled up to the window. I liked the look of it. It was fancy. “Hi! You’re total will be seven dollars and sixty-three cents.” “How much?” “Seven dollars and sixty-three cents.” “For the chicken sandwich?” “For the number four, yes.” “Oh. I just wanted the sandwich.” “Oh. I’m sorry. I’ll 8ix it for you.” I closed the window. “Yo Jess! I need the manager.” “She’s out front.” “Can you get her for me?” “No. She’s talking to her friends. You know how she gets when we disturb her.” “Gods be damned. All right.” I would have to ring the guy up for just a sandwich and hope I remember to get the manager to void out this other order before the day is over. That just means I would have to catch her before she goes out to lunch at three in the afternoon and forgets to come back. “All right, sir. It’s 8ive dollars and 8ifteen cents.” “Okay. Can you break a hundred?” Gods. “Let me check.” Nope. It’s not like I have ninety-four dollars and eighty-8ive cents just sitting around. It’s only noon. We open at eleven. Everyone knows this. “I’m sorry sir. I don’t.” “Oh. Well, can you go and see if you have it in the back?” Be. “Jess?” “No.” “I’m sorry sir. I can’t leave my post.” “What’s your name?” “Bert.” “Is that short for Robert?” “I never asked.” “Well forget I ordered then.”

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“I apologize for the inconvenience, sir.” He drove off and parked to the side of the building, after I gave him his Benjamin back. “Oh shit. Looks like somebody’s in trouble.” “Jess. I hate you sometimes.” “Okay.” I watched the man walk out of his fancy car. He saw me looking at him. Our eyes locked. He tried his best to hide his intentions, while I tried my best to mind-force him into getting back into his ride. A few seconds later, the somebody-just-entered chime went off. I focused on my job. It felt like 8ive hours had past, but it had only been around twenty minutes. Since it was Wednesday, our lunch rush was pretty slow. “Bert! Can I see you in a bit?” “What’s up?” “We need to talk.” Damned. “Okay.” “She ain’t going to 8ire you.” “Well if Jess says so.” I followed my manager back into the little cramped sham of an of8ice. She went and took her seat behind the desk. That was the only chair, so I had to stand alongside the brooms. “A customer came by earlier and said you were rude to him.” “I really wasn’t.” “He said that he wanted to break a twenty, and that you did not want to give him the change. He said something about you not having any tens or 8ives, so you would have to give him a lot of ones.” “None of that happened. You can go ask Jess!” “Ask Jess! Ask Jess! That’s all you say. You know what? Go home.” “Are you 8iring me?” “I said go home.” “Answer my question. Please.” She swiveled around and started playing on her computer. I mean literally playing on her computer. She resumed a half-8inished

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game of solitaire. So I went home. I 8igured somebody would run up and ask me what happened, but nope. Dismissed soldiers aren’t worth talking to. I had a lot of work to do that night anyway. I needed to have 8inished reading two novels by class tomorrow. I hadn’t read either. I’ve still managed to maintain a ninety-8ive in the class though. It’s some literature course about gender theory and sexuality. I learned on the 8irst day that there aren’t any wrong answers, as long as you make your statement sound personal and universal. “Oh, well, identity and sexuality are products of culture, therefore, since insert person was living in insert age, she or he had no choice but to conform to that norm because of hegemonic power structures. But really, based on the text, s/he really was not cis-gendered. I agree with his or her actions.” All of my answers in class and all of my essays have been variations of this statement. My professor thinks I’m so P.C. Poor Dr. Gary. I decided to 8ire up a video game. I played for a couple of hours until my phone went off. I got a text message. It was an unknown number. It read: “Come into work at 8 tomorrow.” I didn’t reply, since I knew who sent it. Instead, I decided to read a book. It was something Victorian. It was supposed to be an obscure piece, but all Victorians read the same: some child is abused. The North and the city are bad and the South and its grass are good. Everyone wore a lot of clothes. Sex was bad. Everyone was sad until they got to the end of the over-written novel. Success. I read a few pages and then went nap-nap. My phone read this when I woke up: “Where are you?” “You 8ired me.” “No I didn’t.” “Ask Jess.” “lol what.” I went to the bathroom and prepared for the day. I had a class at four. It was the literature course. It was now around eleven, so I didn’t rush the daily needs. I was hungry when I was done, so I went to the kitchen and perused my stocks. I hadn’t been grocery shopping in at least three days. I was the type of guy that liked to buy his dinner every day. You really can’t beat freshness. However, life – well, my ex job – had been keeping me away from the store. So I made some toast and opened a little plastic tub of applesauce and killed that business. I have made the mistake of

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shopping-while-starving. I came home with two chickens, a cow, and a rice 8ield. I headed out of the door, brushing crumbs off my shirt as I bounced down the sidewalk. “Bert!” I turned around and saw Jess waving at me. I pretended not to see him, but that didn’t stop me from hearing his feet smacking the concrete. “Bert! I know you saw me!” “Did I?” “Yes! I wanted to talk to you!” “About what?” “I heard you quit today. Is that true?” “I thought I got Dired yesterday. I’m sure you heard.” “It’s not my fault.” “I didn’t…you know what?” “What? Are you going to get your job back? We really need you there.” “Bye Jess.” “Wait! I need you there! Who else can cover shifts for me?” “That’s all I am to you? A place holder?” “You know I didn’t mean it like that.” “Yeah, you really did. Bye Jess.” We had made it to the store. I waited for the glass doors to listen to Moses. They took their time, but they 8inally heeded. I walked inside. Jess wanted to follow me, but I nudged him back outside. He made some noise and then left. My phone beeped when I went to get a buggy. “I thought we were friends.” Of course we were. I strolled into the grocery store. It had the stuff anyone would need, but it was not big enough to be going around catering to any a8icionado’s whims. I liked its lack of charm though. It 8it the town. I had an idea of what I wanted and what I needed. It’s usually a toss-up between which list I try to complete: Surely, I could stretch the rice out for another week. If not, those potatoes won’t spoil any time soon…I know I don’t have any chips or snackage in general and those ice cream sandwiches look pretty damn good. I tend to walk down the aisles and stare at folks when my brain gets like this. It was now around noon, so

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Expose of a Millennial Patrick Key

it wasn’t busy enough to constantly bump into people, yet it wasn’t dead enough to be caught staring at someone’s eyes or ass repeatedly. Prime time to be a creep! The snackage list won out. After I had made one half-round through the store, I had two bags of chips, some cookies, some more cookies, and yogurt. I also had ketchup and mayo. I don’t eat those with the sweets, but I can’t live my life without may-up. That’s what I like to call the end result of perfectly mixed ketchup and mayo. My mom said I was retarded when I created this when I was around seven. But it makes me happy, so I still do it. Since I didn’t have to be at work tonight, I would most likely end up back at this store and buy some actual food though. That’s how it usually goes when I’ve achieved freedom. I headed to the only cashier they had given a shift to. It wasn’t a problem this go around, since I beat the others to her. “How are you today?” “Go–” “Did you 8ind everything okay?” “Ye–” “You know we had these on sale.” I let her scan the goods. “Did you want to go get the cheaper kind?” “No. I don’t like–” “That will be seventeen dollars and forty-nine cents. Credit or debit? Enter your pin. Slide it again. There you go. Have a good one and come again!” Between all of that, she had managed to bag all of my things. I have a feeling she would have tossed them back in the buggy for me if she hadn’t had a customer show up. “You can start putting your stuff up here, Ma’am! How are you?” “Oh. I was just looking at that magazine over there. Can you believe those headlines? What’s wrong with the world?” I looked at the cashier. God had given her the ability to speak with her pupils. I left. I made it back to my place around 1:30. Campus was only a twenty or so minute walk from where I stayed, so I put up my goodies and 8lipped open my laptop. I hadn’t logged off of my Facebook page, so the 8irst thing I saw was the little world

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with a 6 plastered on it. Something big must have happened, like a death. Nope. It was Jess. He had given me a litany of posts about how we had been friends since our 8irst semester at college, and how everyone is going to betray you sooner or later, so you had better be ready. Everything is terrible. Society. He even left me an article titled: “How to be a Friend.” I closed the computer. I was bored, but I had the extra energy one gets when they are done with a shitty friend and an even shittier job. It was almost two o’clock, so I decided to go to school. By the time I got there, it would be around 2:30. I could waste away the rest of the time disparity in the library or something. At least I 8igured it would work out like that. So I put my shoes back on and hit the pavement. The trek was a lonely one, unless I counted the squirrels and pigeons that did not 8lee after sighting a human. I would throw pieces of candy or something at them and watch. They never ate anything. The birds would hop-8ly a few spaces ahead of me, while the squirrels would freeze and stare at a cardinal direction. However, I didn’t have any food stored in my cheeks, so I let them be. 2:30 hit. I was four blocks away from the campus library. A few sprinkles started to fall, so I picked up my pace. I saw some fellow pedestrians doing the same. Most of them had brought their umbrellas with them though. Mine was still in the bathroom, propped up against a wall, hopefully with a rug still under it. I was thirsty but due to the impending rains, I darted to the library instead of hitting up the gas station. The book house was not an impressive building – nothing around here is – but it was pretty enough to keep me dry. I didn’t bring any form of entertainment with me. I only owned one laptop and I don’t like risking it by letting it escape my bed. Nor did I have any portable gaming device, since I go through those like candy: I either break them or sell them before I get to break them in. I also don’t play games on my phone, since those are terrible things. I had the books needed for class with me, but I read all I was going to read from those. I thought about going to the computer lab, but that place always smelled like piss. Plus the computers’ keyboards were all sticky and greasy and could give you feline HIV. I went to the stacks. I really do enjoy books and learning and those things, even with all of the bitching I do. After around twenty or so odd minutes of walking around, I had a good stack of

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heavy books. I knew I wouldn’t come close to reading one of them, but I liked to peruse the chapters and see if I could add it to my personal collection when I became af8luent enough to buy books. My current state of peasantry only allowed me to trove through Project Gutenberg or 8ind something someone posted online in the guise of serf-unity. Since it was mid-semester, the library was relatively calm, so I had a few select seats to plop down in. However, all of the seats in the corners were already taken. The occupants were actually reading and studying, so I wasn’t mad. Unlike that one time when I caught somebody actively engaging with the porn that was playing on her laptop. There was a little table that could only seat three or four people comfortably in the back by a bookshelf. I decided to make my camp there. “Hey, mister. Mister. Mister!” I had buried my face in one of the tomes. It had been in there for a while, according to my cell phone. It was now 5:43 p.m. I’d missed my class. “You okay?” I looked behind me to see who I had to thank for getting me up. It was porn girl. “Yeah, I’m 8ine. Thanks for waking me.” “I get the feeling that I was a little late though…” “That’s not your fault. I should have set an alarm.” “I do that too! I’m usually so busy around here!” “I bet you are.” “Yeah. Shelving books and stuff can be a little demanding.” “Oh. You work here?” “Yeap! Been here for about two years. You haven’t noticed me? You come in here all the time.” “Uh. I’m not the best with faces. What’s your name?” “Rosalind.” “That’s an old one.” “Yeah, the peeps are pretty traditional. And yes, my grandmother is named Ethel.” We shared a laugh before the silence got awkward. “Thanks again. I had better head out.” “Where are you going?”

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“Home maybe.” “I get off soon if you wanted to hang out a little.” “I’m good.” “Oh.” “See you around.” I left my stack of sleeping aids on the table. I looked back before I reached the exit and saw Rosalind putting them on her wooden trolley. By the time I reached the front exit, my stomach was trying to eat itself. The sham of a breakfast I had earlier wasn’t good enough. The hunger pains reminded me that I didn’t have any normal food to eat at my place, so I headed to the grocery store. Again. The trek to the store from there was around an hour long. I thought about hitting up the gas station right down the road for some jerky or something, but I didn’t really like that place. It should just become the actual dump that it was emulating. I decided to beeline it towards the grocery store hoping I didn’t faint. I’m sure the pigeons and squirrels would eat my corpse if I did. It was an uneventful journey. I made it to the store with all of my digits intact and my eyes secured in their sockets. It was close to seven o’clock though, and I was at the point where I wanted to vomit from the mix of walking and starving. I almost tripped trying to pull out a buggy from the queue. The cashier noticed and failed to compose her face. It was the same person that was here earlier. Her abysmal shift must have eroded her game a bit. I thought I teleported to the meat section, since I couldn’t retrace my steps or remember any of the things I walked by. This place didn’t have a festival’s selection, but they had ground beef and hot dogs. I got two packs of each and then added some chicken breasts. But, I was exhausted, even with the nap in my system. I could only imagine myself starting a grease 8ire and toasting my place if I tried to cook a damn thing when I got back, so I picked up some T.V. dinners. I got seven of them, even though six of them would get freezer burned. I wandered around after I got the frozen goods, piling random pastas and rice and cans into the buggy. I 8igured my tab would be somewhere around the seventy dollar point, but that didn’t upset me. Much. I did realize that I was going to have to carry all of it home with these tired limbs. Oh well. I was hungry. The gods can still be damned, though.

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The good news: I made it back to my place. I was alive, and none of the bags had ripped open or fallen apart. The bad news: I probably wouldn’t be able to move my arms in the morning. I would have to brush my teeth with my feet, assuming I could move those. But alas, I had food so I 8igured it would be okay if I was bedridden for a day or two. I didn’t schedule any classes for Thursday or Friday thanks to my gig, but since I lost that, I could sleep as much as I pleased. I sat my goods in front of the door, and leaned up against it. I was hitting the urinal-tripod stance with my eyes closed. I must have looked like I was dying or pissing, since I heard someone drop something and rush to my aid. “You okay?” “I’m good. Just a little tired.” I looked at my savior. It was Rosalind. “You stalking me now?” “Oh, I’m not that creepy. I live here. I’m a 8loor above you.” “Surprised we haven’t run into each other until now then. The place ain’t that huge.” “I normally don’t get home until midnight on most days. I live in the library more than I do here.” I fumbled with my keys. I was having a hard time getting my hands to pick out the one that I needed. The plastic bag handles had cut off my circulation. “You sure you’re alright over there?” “I got it. No worries.” “Sure you do.” She grabbed the keys out of my hand. I was going to say something to her, but she put her hand over my mouth. “Unless you’re going to tell me which one I need…” I looked at her for a bit. “The one with the pink ring around it.” “Pink? No judgement.” She opened up the door and handed me my keys. “Thanks.” I gathered up my stuff and headed inside. It took two trips. Each time I went out, Rosalind was standing there with her hands clasped behind her back. She wouldn’t look at me when I tried to make eye contact with her, but she wouldn’t move away. “Thanks again.” Still nothing. “You aren’t hungry, are you? I’m not about to cook anything, but I got some T.V. dinners.”

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“Oh. What kind? Please say fried chicken.” “Who buys the fried chicken T.V. dinners? Even the photoshopped pictures look bad.” “Well, they’re my favorite, but what else you got?” “Something with noodles. You can come in and see.” “Will do.” She walked in like she was a cousin. She had the respect to not touch anything, but I could tell that she wanted to. She found the bag with the dinners in them and pulled one out at random. “This will do.” “Go warm it up then.” “You can’t do it for me? I’m your guest and all.” “You want to eat it or not?” “Such a charmer.” She went to the kitchen and put her food in the microwave. “Where’s your toilet?” “Over there to the left.” While she was in the bathroom, I put up the groceries. I didn’t have as much as I thought, so I 8inished before her. I sat down on the couch and turned the television on. She walked out soon after. “T.V. and T.V. dinners. You’re thorough.” “I told you I didn’t have any plans.” “I guess you’re not the lying type. Is my food done?” “Maybe. I didn’t check.” “I guess you’re not the marrying type either.” “Marriage?” She ignored me and went for her food. “Yeah, it’s done. Damn, that’s hot.” “How long did you put it in for?” “Seven minutes. The box said that’s how long it took.” “Well.” “You got a plate I can put this on? And a fork or something?” “They’re in there. Look around a bit.” I changed a few channels and landed on the local news. Somebody was missing or something. “Why are you watching this? I had you pegged for the anime type.” “I like anime. I just don’t like watching anime interrupted by commercials.”

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“The news has commercials.” “That’s different. These commercials don’t ruin the 8low.” “Why is that? Commercials are commercials, no?” “Can you imagine watching news uninterrupted? It’s like absorbing the sun.” “I guess. Are you going to eat anything?” “I should, but I’m fucking tired.” “What did you do today aside from napping?” “Starve.” “Yeah, you had better go warm something up.” She giggled a bit. So I did. I heated up another dinner. When it was done, Rosalind and I watched the news in silence. I asked her if she wanted me to change the channel or anything, but she said it was okay. Her face looked like she wasn’t telling a lie out of politeness. “You got any pot?” “No. Do all librarians light up?” “I don’t know about all librarians, but we sure as the hell do.” “Good to know.” I changed the channel a few more times, but nothing interested me. “Well, I guess I should get going.” “All right.” “Thanks for the food.” “Not a prob. Thanks for the door.” “Don’t mention it.” She got up and threw her food tray away and placed her dishes in the sink. “You know what’s funny?” she asked as she headed through the door. “What’s that?” “I don’t know your name.” “It’s Bert. I thought I told you at the library.” “Nope.” “Oh. Well damn.” “Got a lot on your mind?” “Not really.” “Oh. Say, can I get your number?”

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“Why?” “I don’t know.” “What the hell.” I gave her my number. She texted me back in order to see if I had errored. My phone beeped. “Where do you come from in order to get a 402 area code?” “You care about something?” “What’s that supposed to mean?” “I’m from up north.” “That can mean Alexandria all the way to Canada.” “Up north will do. I’ll see you around.” “Okay.” She left me, here. 


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Poetry

Epiphany Joseph Anthony when i was 13, i already knew i could feel it, and asked: why me of anyone? of all that this could happen to for years, the silent struggle of an unnecessary plight a battle eventually both won and lost with acceptance ↕ self it really goes back even further‌ seven years old, second grade coloring with Erik on the reading-rug carpet where we wrote our own story about a penguin who was lost and needed to find his way home.

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Fiction

What do you like to be called? Melanie Burchby

K

imiko fussed obsessively over her bangs. She was between clients and bored, and a couple of hairs had looked longer than the rest just a second ago. Now they looked 8ine. She ruf8led her hair again, then

combed it back out. She was desperately sick of her bangs; the problem was if she grew them out she’d have to start penciling in her eyebrows, which also invited compulsion. Behind her, Kyle whisked by carrying a stack of fresh towels, his ass crack just visible between his short T-shirt and the waistband of his jeans. Someone should tell him his butt was showing; she didn’t think it looked professional. As she stared at Kyle’s ass in the mirror from under her bangs, he startled her by shouting over his shoulder: “Kimmy, leave them alone, they look 8ine!” Her brain scrambled for a witty retort, only to betray her with total blankness. Kimiko set her scissors down, grabbed her phone, slunk into her chair and pretended to be texting, typing long paragraphs into a thread she had going with herself. Most of the other stylists were sitting in a similar attitude; sometimes she didn’t understand how the salon kept the lights on. For now, she was paying her rent with enough left over to 8inance her sparse social life, so she didn’t really care. When her under-occupied colleagues felt like interacting, they gossiped and preened in front of the mirror, making eye contact with each other’s re8lections. Occasionally they helped one another with cuts or processes. Kimiko never asked for help with her hair. She sensed that everyone at the salon perceived her as shy, and she sometimes felt an urge to prove them wrong by requesting a haircut. No matter how the cut turned out, though, she’d have to tend to like it, or risk offending a coworker and possibly becoming a subject of gossip herself. So she hung around on the periphery laughing at everyone’s jokes. She needed someone to talk to about Eric. Some days she resolved to tell Kyle and wandered over to his station, heart thumping. Once she got there, she was always engulfed by the latest developments in Kyle’s life with his boyfriend, Greg: Kyle and 
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Greg were getting ready for a trip to Vegas; Greg still hadn’t given up on real estate but Kyle was sick of paying the bills; they were thinking of getting a puppy for Kyle’s mother who lived alone on Staten Island. Kimiko enjoyed talking to Kyle. He was funny and quirky and seemed to her to possess a real-life version of the gay panache that some TV characters have. It was hard for Kimiko to tell whether Kyle cared about her in return, though. When it was finally her turn to talk they never got past what she’d done over the weekend, or which restaurants she’d tried. She remembered how Kyle had pouted the day Eric came in for a haircut. He’d grumbled that Kimiko got to work on the hunky Wall Street walk-in while he was relegated to his station applying a Keratin treatment for a housewife from Yonkers. Now she wanted Kyle’s advice: not only had she and Eric begun sleeping together the day he came in, but he had also revealed that he was married. Eric claimed he and his wife were both exploring sex with other partners— that he wasn’t cheating. Most of the time Kimiko chose to believe him. Kimiko could still feel the raindrops she had brushed from the shoulders of Eric’s coat as she hung it up for him. Now, whenever she smelled the organic lavender shampoo that she used on most of her clients,  Kimiko instantly thought of running her hands through Eric’s thick, gray-streaked brown hair and massaging his scalp. As she combed his wet hair out, he had asked her to repeat her name. She’d automatically told him he could call her Kimi and waited for him to Americanize it to Kimmy. “But what do you like to be called?” he’d asked her. Surprised, she’d laughed. “I like to be called Kimiko.” He had repeated it after her, pronouncing it perfectly. Kimiko avoided her re8lection while 8inishing her last client of the day. She’d given in to the allure of a 3:00 pm cookie, and she could swear her cheeks looked puf8ier than they had before she ate it. She wondered whether sleeping with her ful8illed a fetish desire for Eric. “I’ve got something on the side with this Japanese girl,” she sometimes imagined him bragging to his friends. Picturing this, Kimiko gave a faint snort, then became embarrassed and cleared her throat to cover it. There had to be something in this for him, other than sex with someone who wasn’t his wife. To Kimiko, her ethnicity seemed central to the whole situation, she just wasn’t sure whether she should be angry about it or not. Once her client was satis8ied and had slipped her a skimpy tip, Kimiko cleaned up her station as fast as she could and left. She pretended that she’d forgotten it was her The Corner Club Quarterly

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What do you like to be called? Melanie Burchby

turn to fold the towels and left them sitting in the dryer. On the subway ride home she winced wondering if she’d get back to the apartment where she sublet a room and 8ind Chris and his girlfriend, Anagha, cooking one of their elaborate meals. They were always stealing her soy sauce and then leaving it out on the counter, though she preferred to refrigerate it. She waited for the subway doors to open at 7th Avenue, knowing that if she got home and her soy sauce was out on the counter again she would do exactly what she always did: return it to her shelf in the fridge, with the section of the label where she’d written her name facing out. Maybe she’d trace over her name in pen a few more times 8irst to make herself feel better. Her soy sauce was still in its place and, mercifully, no one was home when Kimiko let herself in. She reheated some soup for dinner and took it to her room, relieved that she wouldn’t have to make conversation with anyone until tomorrow. She opened Net8lix and put on an episode of Friends, covering her mouth with her hand as she giggled. (“Why do Japanese girls do that?” Eric had asked her once in bed. “Is it because a lot of them are self-conscious about their teeth? You have beautiful teeth.” Kimiko had felt offended and 8lattered at the same time.) Between episodes she heard several voices coming from the living room, one of them Chris’s, and she immediately reached for her noise-canceling headphones. Kimiko was deeply irritated by Chris, but she knew she was lucky to be in Park Slope for what she was paying. The arrangement wouldn’t have bothered her so much if Anagha weren’t over at the apartment constantly, probably trying to escape her own roommates. Having Mondays off was a saving grace: Kimiko could spend the whole day baking while Chris and Anagha were at work. She had been baking so much and for so long that she had the recipes for different cookies and cakes memorized. She enjoyed experimenting with new ingredients or varying proportions to get new textures and 8lavors. Kimiko always meticulously cleaned the kitchen when she was 8inished for the day. She kept her dry ingredients and her tools in a plastic box in her room so Chris and Anagha wouldn’t use them, and took spiteful pleasure in bringing everything she made to the salon. Kyle was always complimenting her baking , when he wasn’t cursing her for it after overindulging. The most personal admission she’d ever made to him was that she wanted to go to pastry school. Kyle was an enthusiastic supporter of this idea, and sometimes nagged at her

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What do you like to be called? Melanie Burchby

to apply. She wanted to, but was afraid of taking out the loans it required. It seemed like a big gamble to take on cookies. Kimiko shut her laptop, rolled over into fetal position and closed her eyes, trying to breathe in and out ten times without thinking about anything. When she had 8inished, she got up, switched off her overhead light, got back into bed and opened her novel. After two chapters she 8inally felt sleepy so she set the book on the nightstand and turned off her bedside lamp. She picked up her phone and typed, “I wish your arms were around me.” The words popped up on her screen two seconds later, sent from herself to herself. Kimiko never texted Eric. She didn’t even email him, except to respond brie8ly to the inquiries he sent about her schedule, and con8irm that she’d meet him at the hotel on whichever night he suggested. One time she hadn’t answered, just to see what he’d do. He had waited a day and then written that he’d be there regardless, and hoped to see her in the bar around 9:00 pm. She had gone, of course. Kimiko had asked him once if he wanted to come over to her apartment sometimes, so he didn’t have to keep spending all that money. “I want it to be special when I’m with you,” he’d answered. “We don’t want to have to worry about your roommates hearing us or asking questions.” As soon as he said this, she’d realized it wouldn’t have occurred to her to worry, and she doubted once again the veracity of his claims of an open relationship. So she joined him for drinks in hotel bars, and let him order French toast from room service in the mornings. She took baths in bathtubs clean enough for that purpose, which she enjoyed for a while. Lately, though, Kimiko had caught herself fantasizing about brushing her teeth with Eric in the bathroom down the hall, laughing quietly together about how messy her roommates were. They could take over the kitchen and force Anagha and Chris to cook awkwardly around them, like she always had to do. At their last rendezvous, Kimiko had ordered a second martini and actually 8inished it. As they went up to the room she had felt very happy and bold, and also like she was underwater. They had only ever had missionary-style sex up to that point, but that night Kimiko lay facedown on the bed and told Eric to lie on top of her and take her from behind. She had never been able to have orgasms from intercourse

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What do you like to be called? Melanie Burchby

alone, and after their 8irst few encounters, Eric had become lazy about pleasuring her. Some part of her brain knew she’d pushed an orgasm even farther away with all that alcohol, but she still enjoyed the sensation of her body being pressed down into the sheets. It felt a bit dangerous, as if he was overpowering her. Kimiko was just mustering up the courage to ask Eric to take a break and kiss her for a while when he ruined the moment by turning her over. “I want to see your face when I come,” he said. The next morning, head splitting, she wished she’d taken the opportunity while she was still emboldened by vodka to ask him why he cared about looking at her while he got off. Or, more importantly, why he didn’t seem to care whether she ever got off. Now it was too late: she felt seedy and ashamed. “You were wild last night,” Eric said, shooting her an amused look as he knotted his tie. “It was like that old joke: ‘One martini, two martinis, three martinis, 8loor.’ Except you only made it to two.” She was overwhelmingly grateful for the breakfast meeting Eric had had that morning; as soon as he had left the room she went into the bathroom and vomited. She checked her email with a creeping self-loathing in the three weeks since that night. It was longer than she had ever gone without hearing from him, a fact she con8irmed by checking the date stamps on his emails. Kimiko watered the plants and locked up the salon just as a dark cloud 8inished drizzling and moved on, replaced by beams of mellow sunlight. She started down the block still zipping her coat and, when she 8inally looked up, she was startled to see Eric walking right toward her with a girl who looked like she was in college. Through a haze of panic and confusion, Kimiko realized that she recognized the girl: it was his daughter. Emily was a senior in high school, and an aspiring fashion blogger. (Eric liked to show Kimiko Emily’s latest posts on Instagram, which Kimiko had always found odd.) As she continued down the block, nowhere to go but straight toward them, Kimiko wondered what the hell Eric was doing. Was he trying to bump into her on purpose, in front of his child? Was he so oblivious he’d forgotten she worked on this block? Her heart pumped in anger and distress. As they got near the point where one of them would have to greet the other or not, Kimiko looked down, slid her phone from her coat pocket and stared at it as she walked. She unlocked the screen as she drew still closer to them, refusing to look up. She opened the texting app as

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What do you like to be called? Melanie Burchby

she came shoulder to shoulder with him. Her skin crawled and her hand shook as she typed, “Fuck you, Eric. It’s over.” He passed her without a word. Her jaw hanging open in disbelief, she forced her feet to keep walking, and sent the text. As she 8inally remembered to breathe again, it popped up on her screen. She stared at it to keep from looking back at him. Kimiko left her phone locked the entire ride back out to Park Slope, and stared at the teenagers drinking sodas while laughing loudly on the bench across from her. Every few minutes she lit up her screen to view the text. She tried to take deep breaths but an unpleasant smell of unknown origin was mingling with the stress hormones still swamping her system and she felt queasy. When she got above ground, a strong gust of wind blew her hair into her face. A motorcyclist waiting at the nearest light revved his engine and she jumped. The second Kimiko walked into the lobby of her building, she had the impulse to run the other direction, but she didn’t know where else to go. Entering the apartment, she found it empty again. Kimiko opened the refrigerator and saw a bottle of white wine that didn’t belong to her. She grabbed it, a corkscrew and a juice glass and went to her room. As she poured Chris’s wine into the glass, she sat down at her desk and opened her laptop. She pulled up her email. Nothing. She gulped down the glass of wine and re8illed it. How long had it been since she saw Eric? She thought for a moment: about twenty-8ive minutes, plenty of time for him to have dashed off an email of explanation or apology. Hating herself, she refreshed her inbox. A new email popped up: her yoga studio was offering a deal on spring class packages. Kimiko re8illed the juice glass and swiveled in her chair to stare out her window. The tree branch with its 8luffy, white 8lowers bobbed in the breeze. She’d always meant to 8ind out what kind of tree that was. She wondered how one would go about doing that—was there an app that let users submit pictures of foliage they wanted to identify? Probably. Kimiko googled, “What kind of tree has 8luffy 8lowers?” and then “app for pictures of trees” and then she realized that she was getting drunk. She 8illed the juice glass again. With more than half the bottle gone in less than an hour, Kimiko suddenly understood that lying down and going to sleep now would result in signi8icant

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What do you like to be called? Melanie Burchby

depression when she awoke. She needed to get out. She stood up, swayed, grabbed the corner of her desk and considered the wine. She could leave it in here, or put it back in the fridge: she wasn’t sure which was less incriminating. She grabbed a Postit and scrawled, “Two bottles soy sauce = half a bottle of wine?” and stuck it to the bottle. She looked at it, lost her nerve and crumpled the Post-it before tossing it into her wastebasket. She walked out into the hallway holding the wine, and glanced guiltily from side to side, completely undecided as to what she’d say if discovered. Still no one home. She started down the hallway to the kitchen and somehow managed to bump her head rather hard against the wall. Kimiko steadied herself, put the wine bottle back in the fridge, grabbed her purse and left. She clutched the railing as she descended the staircase. Once outside, she automatically headed toward the park. She tried not to beeline on the busy sidewalk, and thought how strange it was to be walking alone with no destination. People with dogs had a purpose for walking that no one questioned. It didn’t seem fair that an activity as basic as walking should belong exclusively to pet owners, couples and families. As she walked north on Prospect Park West, a thought occurred to her: Kyle lived in Prospect Heights. He’d joked before about how she lived in “fancy” Brooklyn and he didn’t, even though they were only a short distance apart. She took out her phone and called him. “Hey, Kimmy, is everything okay?” “Um, kind of.” Kimiko chuckled in a strange, 8limsy way. “Is the door not locking? Did you pull it toward you while you turned the key? That’s usually the best way to get the lock to engage.” Of course: Kyle had asked her to close up for him earlier that day. She’d completely forgotten. He was asking if everything was all right with the salon, not with her. “No, no, I did that. That’s 8ine!” Why was she speaking in a singsong voice? Kimiko sternly told herself to act normally. “Oh. Okay.” “Where do you live?” she asked. “Where do I live?” “Yeah—I’m almost there.”

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What do you like to be called? Melanie Burchby

“You’re almost… where?” “I’m walking in Prospect Heights. I want to come say hi.” There was silence on Kyle’s end. Kimiko passed the long seconds watching a toddler throw a tantrum as his mother tried to get him to say goodbye to a friend he was clumsily chasing a plastic ball with. She and the other boy’s mother exchanged joking remarks, their smiles strained by the effort of not yelling at their sons or grabbing them by the arms. Finally, there came background sounds on the other end of the line: Kyle must have put her on mute while frantically consulting with Greg about whether to invite her up or not. “Oh, okay, sure. It’s 571 Sterling Place. Apartment seven.” “Great! I’ll be there in 8ive minutes.” “Okay… great.” After purchasing a six-pack of a beer she’d never heard of at the corner bodega (Did Kyle even drink beer? She had no idea.) and after making a couple wrong turns, Kimiko arrived at Kyle and Greg’s and pressed the button next to the number seven. “We’re on the third 8loor,” Kyle’s voice jumped out, loud and scratchy, before being replaced abruptly by a harsh buzzing that didn’t feel particularly welcoming. Her optimism waned with each 8light of stairs. A lanky, dark-haired man of about thirty-8ive with sleepy eyes and sleeve tattoos opened the door and hugged her immediately, his armpits emitting a hint of body odor. “I can’t believe I’m just now meeting you! You’re the one that makes all the cookies that keep us so chubby! I’m Greg. Oh goodness, what do we have here? Let me take those from you. Come in, come in!” Greg walked off studying the six pack as if it were a rare species he couldn’t quite identify. Kimiko trailed after him, turned into the living room, and suddenly found 8ive pairs of eyes on her. People were lounging on the sofa, the 8loor, and on kitchen chairs that had been arranged around the coffee table, which was covered in small tiles stamped with letters. Everyone was drinking red wine. No one moved or spoke. “Hey, Kimmy,” Kyle 8inally raised himself from a chair to her left. “Guys, this is Kimmy. We work together.” With this, he bustled into the kitchen. “Hi, I’m Kimiko,” Kimiko said, with a weak smile and a wave. In response she received smiles and four names murmured at once; she was unable to make out a

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What do you like to be called? Melanie Burchby

single one. A girl with white-blonde hair produced a pillow and placed it next to where she was sitting on the ground. “Here, pull up some 8loor,” she said, patting it. Kimiko folded herself onto the pillow, focusing on not falling over. As the group 8inally broke back out into conversation, Kimiko realized the blonde was still looking at her. “Have you ever played Bananagrams?” she asked Kimiko. “No,” Kimiko answered. “Oh my god, you don’t know Bananagrams?” Kyle had reentered with one of the beers she’d brought, still in its bottle. He handed it to her. It was lukewarm from the case at the bodega. “It’s so much fun. OK, guys are we ready?” “You want a crash course 8irst?” the blonde girl asked Kimiko, raising her pale eyebrows slightly at Kyle. Her eyelashes were translucent, and the only makeup she wore was reddish-brown lipstick, which created a startling effect. “No, no, I’ll just watch this round so I can learn how to play,” Kimiko’s face felt hot. The wine had left her tongue-tied and slow-witted. The sips of warm, sour beer left an awful taste in her mouth. She watched, struggling to keep a pleasant expression on her face as everyone scrambled to make words with their tiles, yelling at each other and laughing. The blonde gave a haphazard explanation of what was happening, punctuated by shrieks as she tried to rearrange her tiles. Kimiko got up carefully from her cushion and walked past the kitchen, down the hall. She opened a door and found a stacked washer and dryer. “It’s the next one!” Greg called from the kitchen. In the bathroom, Kimiko stared tipsily at her re8lection in the mirror. Her eyes were bright and unfocused. She ran the cold tap, and began splashing water on her face. She let herself back out of the bathroom a few minutes later, unprepared to rejoin the group but worried that someone would be waiting for the bathroom by now. No one was. As she reluctantly headed back toward the living room, she overheard people talking quietly in the kitchen. “Is she all right?” Kimiko recognized Greg’s voice. And then, Kyle’s voice, 8lat and disinterested: “I have no idea.”


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31


Poetry

Hemispheres

Sheri Vandermolen

Your 8lat-backed fusion sitar stands 8lanked by Ovations, Fenders, Yamahas, a Martin or two, a copper-bayan tabla set, and a handheld, goatskin-topped mango-wood drum you bought on a street corner. The rhythmic blend of hemispheres begins right here.

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32


Fiction

A Catalogue of Princes Elson Meehan

S

he had known contentment once, kind of. Tucked up in a 8ireproof nightgown, in a purple bedroom, in a ranch house on a pine-pricked landscape. In America. Years ago.

On early winter nights, the dim glow of a nightlight led the way to the kitchen or

the bath. A procession of friends on the wallpaper—a border of beribboned ducks and dolls—made a ring around her like candles or salt, almost druidical in their power to confer security. During late summer tornado warnings, there was nowhere to go but into the home’s center, sheltering in a closet beside the 8ireplace. The house was deep and dark with the radio switched on, and peril produced its own surreal ritualistic calm. The next morning, the kitchen smelled sulphurous and fatty from fried eggs. Her parents never left that place.

In college, she met a boy from England. Second year, graduate student. It

didn’t work, but she tried. She liked his accent most of all. She put it on sometimes; she couldn’t help it. With him, she was interesting, but he had no idea how interesting his personality was. How interesting his nationality was. How interesting it made her, by association. He was part of an equation she’d had in her head since the time before she 8illed Pinterest boards with ways to mark time in a twenty-dollar notebook: United Magic Kingdom. That was all. A soup of aspiration, a stew of tartan and shortbread and Paddington Bear, of woolly hats and Beefeaters stood stiffstraight in black and red. And this broth of foreign culture boiled over on a twelfth grade trip to London, following eight childhood summers in Orlando, eating 8ish and chips at Epcot in the sun, and it was maintained at temperature by a dream that shattered, settling and turned contentment into boredom. A con8lation of happiness and England and royalty and the place where all the stories happened, and where all happy endings lie. She couldn’t deal with him, her British boyfriend. He never liked her comments on Facebook, and rather than talk to her at parties, he’d curl up under a table,


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A Catalogue of Princes Elson Meehan

demand tortilla chips, and fall asleep. To cope with him, she dressed like Tinker Bell because he was a child and she was a tiny, raw, phosphorescent bitch. Universally neglected. Full of nerves and envy. On the verge of ending it, just to make a show. It was during the Disney College Program that he called it off. He sent a text, which she received at the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique. Her phone chimed once. She couldn’t check it right away; it was hidden behind the mirror, and her hands were stuck in a clot of a 8ive-year-old’s curls, making this little girl into a princess. She wasn’t supposed to have her phone with her on stage. Are you from a kingdom far, far away? And she—choking on the odors of graham cracker and hairspray, skirt sloppy with glitter and 8lossy strands of hair—felt her sense of self and her gorgeous strawberry-hued future, abducted. The rest of her internship was blood-tinged and malevolent, a series of sunburns and twelve hour shifts and something about the smell of sweat, sex with a stranger on a bed of Bermuda grass in a chain link backyard, someone yelling, a lost 8lip 8lop, no panties on after dark, her costume askew daytimes, headaches. Not quite pulling off the Disney Look, having forgotten how to groom herself somewhere between that text and the lighter and bowl passed to her in the back of a sun-shaded Chevy Blazer from 2002. And though she loved Disney, and though there had been days when she would have given anything for another trip there, even Fairy Godmothers in Training need Fairy Godmothers sometimes. She nursed that thought throughout her shifts— you’re going to get to close your eyes and make a very special wish—and the truth of it made her cry. Help was a resolution. A heart-set promise she made to herself, with her friends, after they had packed up their apartment on the last night. That apartment always smelled like rotten caramel and mildew, a soppy, milky, spoiled smell, all damp and fungus and sticky carpet. With tongues thick from syrupy liquors drunk from plastic tumblers that bore their names in a complicated script, they listed, one by one, what they would take from Disney. When her turn came she knew exactly what. Resolved to make herself better, to be herself but more, she announced that she would 8ind him again and reify the good parts of Love Actually, because love actually was the only thing worth living for. But didn’t he break up with you? It didn’t matter: if not him, any Brit would do. Because one thing had become certain: her dreams would never come

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A Catalogue of Princes Elson Meehan

true in America. Disney World had turned a key, but the door it opened led only to dumpsters 8illed with sticky napkins, empty water bottles, and water-logged band aids lost at Splash Mountain, leaving wounds exposed. Except money came 8irst, and the sense of never having enough of it. College loans. Senior year. Then her friends. Her family. Then terrorism, the Middle East, riots in France, SARS, the paranoia and judgement of relations at holiday lunches: there was always a reason to stay home. A million reasons. Good ones, too. But always, at the back of her heart: how to get back to the UK? Because the last time she had felt magic was at a cream tea when she was seventeen, and in his bed, with his r-less language curling around her ears. And that magic left a craving, awoken by certain seasons and songs, mainly autumn and the entire oeuvre of Adele. A craving quashed by the contents of her bank account, and her father saying something like, Who needs London—Charlotte’s just down the road. They’ve got a Williams-Sonoma if you want to be fancy. He missed the point entirely, and yet he spoke to her own anguish, how to keep herself intact if she went out into the world. She did not want to become pretentious —not like her friends who studied abroad and came back too good for Mom’s chocolate banana cake, lamenting the service in restaurants, the base quality of the teas, and the expectation that you would soon leave. She didn’t want to be ashamed of the porcelain 8igurines displayed in the glass-fronted corner cabinet, of Mom’s beanie babies arrayed across the mantle; contemptuous of everyone at the diner after church on Sunday; aware of how fat they all were and how they had no notion of what cheese was meant to be like. Aware of this danger, the gravity of home held her in place for seven years that in the end were like a dream through which she blindly slept, waiting to be awoken. And in her dream-life, no more carbohydrates, though a de8icit of these may have contributed to the dreamy sluggishness she pulled through all her hours. Instead, she ate spaghetti squash and clear noodles made from an indigestible Japanese yam. She frequented bookstores and lifted her eyes gently over mid-height bookshelves, with an expression at once startled, demure, and slightly demented. Just in case there were someone on the other side. At spin classes, she pedalled with the ferocity of intention and the purposeful power she had acquired at silent yoga retreats,

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A Catalogue of Princes Elson Meehan

propelled by thoughts of love, and of future British boyfriends, always on the edge of breaking, hungry, craving. Craving pasties and savory pies and 8ish and chips and milky tea with scones, craving a voice that spoke to her with a halting and selfconscious grace, of a kingdom far, far away. Finally she was assigned a trip to Reading, which signi8ied that she had attained success in her division at Quintiles. But before all the meetings, she needed new shoes more than anything—more than sleep, more than champagne, more than a fry up because baked beans with breakfast, I mean what, and in like tomato sauce, what even is this? And wasn’t it easier to take the train into London, and wasn’t it easier, once at Paddington Station, to head down to Oxford Street? Reading and the meeting tomorrow could wait; she could cancel a lunch. For expediency, social matchmaking applications. For her pro8ile, an image of herself atop a mountain because she was intrepid and adventure-starved. Right and right again she swiped, madly approving of each individual Harry and William and Cumberbatch and Firth in this catalogue of princes. She was lucky to never have heard the word chav; it kept her open minded. Now full of purpose and intention, she needed nothing but herself. She had ascended. She was Lady Goddamn Mary, she was the Duchess, she was the Queen. Now she could watch Downton Abbey alone in her hotel room without wanting, without feeling sad. Now she could ask for more wine. She didn’t even say thank you. Now she could even eat at a restaurant by herself, dressed to suit her own pleasure, her new blue heels like the spires of Cinderella’s Castle. And, for once, she was not being dragged down through it, but they— miniaturized and inverted—were propping her up. The same was true of the rest of England, or was it the UK at Epcot? Worlds were colliding and she the cosmic linchpin, drawing love unto herself. On her phone, messages from gentlemen were waiting. Did it matter that—when she found him, her own prince, her English husband— their life was more concrete Brutalism, than the wood-warmed wattle and daub, broad golden rolling hills and green rushy river 8low of her lifelong dream? That the wine that she called Mommy Juice gave a shrunken feeling to her brain and left the taste of bile and aluminium at the back of her throat? That their terrier shit on the carpet, that she had not thought through the tax implications of this foreign life, that

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A Catalogue of Princes Elson Meehan

her husband wouldn’t eat her out? That, for a former classmate, he harboured a petty lust, terminally confused with affection, a lust that was like an untended garden, 8illed with compost and vermin, threatening constant encroachment ? Of course it mattered. On endless gray mornings, the seasonless weather—which Disney had failed to reproduce at its park—swaddled her heart in damp, and the gray, timeless light came down on her like the descent of a tornado at its lowest deepest point, where the airspeed approaches zero and the stillness of that hollow is ensconced in roaring surges of calamity.

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Fiction

Slender Breanne Mc Ivor

C

aty believed in eroticism. There was a story that she always told about the power of a woman. When she was leaving Trinidad, there had been a shortage of passports in the country. Or perhaps immigration of8icials

were on strike? This part of the story changed. The rest never did. Caty’s mother had gotten dressed up in a pink suit with 8itted skirt falling just above the knee. She had curled her wet hair with her 8ists before squeezing in the holding gel. She had reddened her lips and her cheeks and sucked mints on the drive to the passport of8ice. She had swept out of the car and every head on the street had turned. She had spoken to the of8icer on duty, lightly plucked a thread from the hollow between his collarbones, fanned herself with her manicured 8ingers and he had not known where he should look—at her knees bending towards him, at the Lezama calves arching behind her, at the hint of cleavage kissing the lip her jacket? Then they were upstairs renewing Caty’s passport so that she could go to university in London. Caty told that story almost every time she asked her daughter, Magdalena, to lose weight. “Life’s easier for beautiful people,” she said. “You’ll feel so much better about yourself if you would just lose thirty pounds.” The problem was that Magdalena was English and eroticism was foreign to her. She lived in a world of cream cardigans, sensible shoes and pleasant plumpness. The passport story had no effect on her. Here in London, you did not have to 8lirt your way into the passport of8ice. Of8icial documents were never in short supply. Government of8icials did not hold your future ransom. Magdalena's looks weren't part of a currency that she needed to spend. On the island, the Lezama women had been noted for their beauty—all the girls had apple breasts, Egyptian-thick brows, arched backs and wasp waists, but it was the legs that made them famous. Starting at bulging hips—8lowing down into strong but slender thighs, into crescent moon calves—the legs ended in slim feet with arches like the doors of churches.


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It was Caty’s feet that William had 8irst worshipped, in the King’s College London library, when she had kicked off her shoes and dug her toes into the carpet. He had stared at the orange painted toenails, the hairless slender toes and the curvature of her arches, before his eyes travelled upwards (pausing here and there, of course) until he was looking at the brown girl with hazel eyes. She had smiled, an act that was simultaneously a 8lash of teeth and a bite of her lip. He had 8lipped absentmindedly through Lord Byron’s Don Juan while watching her read, had even underlined a quote in the library book in his distraction, all the while waiting on her to 8inish so that he could get up at the same time, walk downstairs a footfall behind her, ask her to tea. * “You’re only upsetting her,” William said to Caty as she paced in her bedroom. He hardly ever came in anymore, but Magdalena was downstairs eating ice cream from the tub with a serving spoon. “It’s not just about her looks,” Caty said, “although we both know she’s never had a boyfriend.” “She’s eighteen,” William sighed. “It’s still early. I met you at nineteen and I was your 8irst.” And look at how that turned out. Of course, Caty could not say it. “Times are different,” she said instead. “Besides, William, it isn’t just about her looks. It’s about her health. She’s off to St. Andrews soon and did you know that the Scots are the unhealthiest Britons? What will she eat there?” William sighed and braced himself for the passport story. “You never know when good looks will come in handy,” she began. “I won’t have a daughter who 8lirts her way to her passport renewal or her 8irst job,” William said. “Magdalena is brilliant, brilliant; she won’t need to bat her eyes at some third world of8icer to get her way.” “I was brilliant too,” Caty sniped, “but it wasn’t my brains that allowed me to marry William Carss-Cuttleworth now was it?” “And look at how that turned out.” William had said it. He heaved a sigh as if he had been waiting years to say it too. He probably had. Caty felt, pathetically, as if she had lost a race.

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William laid a hand down on her vanity table. He looked almost exactly as he had that day in the library. Yes, his haircut had changed and the color, for that matter, had gone from caramel to silver, but his forehead was almost unlined and that dimple in his left cheek still winked when he spoke. He had stayed slim too—he played tennis at the club twice a week and golfed with Richard Lissack on Sundays. He looked like a painting, hunched over a lady's dresser with his head bowed. What didn’t need to be said was that Caty had been an immigrant with nothing but a student’s visa and her looks to snag her a marriage, and so save her from deportation after her degree. Magdalena is a Carss-Cuttleworth, William’s only heir in fact, and she would not need a slim waist or doll’s feet to get a man to notice her. * They had not always been like this, Caty thought. In the early years of their marriage, even after her two miscarriages when they thought she might never have a baby, they had not been like this. William, having been granted the indulgence of an English degree by his father, went on to become a solicitor and then moved into the banking and 8inance sector, specializing in commercial dispute resolution. And, even with his lineage, his rise was meteoric. Meanwhile, Caty played her husband’s name like a trump card. She had already lost so much of her accent that her colleagues assumed that she was the daughter of immigrants, part of that West Indian Windrush generation who had come over on that famous boat and never gone back. She was swift and brutal in her correction. “Oh no, my parents still live in Trinidad,” she said. “I came across on a scholarship to study at KCL and I met my husband here.” “Oh, so you married an Englishman, Mrs…” “Carss-Cuttleworth.” And then the eyebrow raise. Sometimes people assumed that William was older, that she was a second wife after his 8irst standard model. So she brought a wedding picture to put on her desk. There she was, in her Laura Ashley gown, turned towards William so you could see the keyhole back of her dress and the strands of pearl buttons. William’s chin was slanted down to her and his palm was pressed into the small of her back as if trying to feel her skin through the dress. You could see his dimple.

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Slender Breanne Mc Ivor

Oh, she had planned what they would do when they had children. “I’ve placed my order with God,” she would say laughingly to William. “A boy and then a girl. The boy will be a lawyer like you, of course.” “It’s a god-awful profession,” William would say. “I would love him to be a university professor, pouring over Lord Byron before breakfast.” Caty considered resigning after her 8irst pregnancy, but thought that work would keep her mind off worrying about the birth. Of course, the baby was never born. Prior to her miscarriage, nothing could wake William. He snored through her frantic trips to the toilet, when the fetus pressed her bladder nearly 8lat. Now, every noise jarred him awake. He would touch her side of the bed and feel the hollow where her back usually lay. No matter where she was hiding, he would 8ind her. She could have been no further than the foot of the bed; she could have gotten to the bathroom and sat in the tub; she may have even wondered to the kitchen and curled onto anything—the stools at their marble island, the chairs by their mahogany table, the cold tiles of the 8loor. He would 8ind her and carry her back to her spot. He would rub her back and nuzzle between her shoulder blades and tell her that they would try again—but not tonight. They would both laugh and sometimes they did try, sadly squeezing each other in the wee hours of the morning. During her second pregnancy, William would not even let her lift the plates out of the dishwasher. During her third, he insisted that she quit her job. “It could be the stress,” he told her. And so, she lay in bed while he fought for the rights of his clients. She attended pre-natal yoga classes while he demolished the defenses of a beleaguered bank against allegations of breach of contract in a landmark con8idence claim. Even as he litigated furiously, William brought her small treats—blueberries wrapped in brown paper, strawberry smoothies, walnuts glazed in honey—and rubbed her feet almost nightly. He slid his knuckles along those high arches and kissed the tips of her toes. “Lie back love,” he said to her heels. “This time we’ve got it.” * Caty continued to stalk her bedroom. The faux fur bedroom slippers that she wore in the house rustled against the carpet. Both she and William were thin and 8it. Neither of them dieted; they just believed in moderation. Who had Magdalena inherited her

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Slender Breanne Mc Ivor

Herculean proportions from? Caty hated to walk behind her daughter on stairs because she could see her love handles jiggle, independent of her body. She fantasized about taking a razor and shaving off the fat; she saw herself cutting a keyhole shaped curve between Magdalena’s thighs. “I know you think I’m being super8icial,” she said to William. He did. She was. Super8icial. These things mattered too much to her. William felt the thin strand of irritation that wound its way around him whenever he was in Caty’s room. The whole thing was an homage to keeping up appearances; in fact, her life was. He could not have been more proud that Magdalena was more like him than Caty. Secretly, he enjoyed the fact that his daughter wasn’t one of those bulimic beauties, the society girls that his friends’ daughters had become. She had read his undergraduate thesis on Lord Byron and her caustic poem on Don Juan’s feeble masculinity had been published in The Guardian. That was a daughter worth having. William’s single act of rebellion as a son had been marrying Caty—ironically, a woman more dedicated to classicism than anyone his parents could have suggested to him and, irritatingly, a now integral part of the Carss-Cuttleworth family and a regular pedicure partner of his mother. Other than that, he had lived as it was expected: studied law, made money, danced the Foxtrot at white tie charity balls. He had not become the kind of father that he grew up with. He had not ‘made’ his daughter. He had nurtured her and she had made herself, disagreeing with him as they debated Romanticism while Caty watched The Weakest Link in the living room. He had told her not to vote LibDem, but he respected her decision to do so and never once said “I told you so, Magda,” when the Liberal Democrats teamed up with the Conservatives. And William tried to stand between Magdalena and Caty as a wall stands between a girl and a storm. The only time he had reprimanded his wife in public was when she had pinched 8ifteen-year-old Magdalena’s cheeks at the International Film Festival and asked if she really needed another cupcake. “She needs to learn selfcontrol,” Caty hissed. And William had exploded at her: “So do you!” His friends pretended they had not heard. Later, they pretended that he had not said it. That night he had gone limp during sex and blamed age. "I'm not twenty-8ive

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Slender Breanne Mc Ivor

anymore, love. Haha." A few months after the spat, she hauled her things into the guest bedroom. It was almost a relief.

Caty moved back into their room only after William was diagnosed with bladder cancer. He needed to urinate more often and more urgently than usual and couldn’t always make it on his own. He had expected Caty to hire a nurse; in fact, he would have preferred it, but she refused. “We’re not that old,” she insisted as she slipped an arm under his shoulder and helped him to the toilet. He sat to use the bathroom now, partly because of the pains in his lower back, but also because he did not want her to see the blood in his urine. He expected her to be disgusted by the hard lumps of old man knees jutting out when he sat, the wrinkled pit of his navel and his spindly arms. But she wasn’t. Even when he strained to squeeze out a few drops, all the while feeling as if he would burst, Caty stroked his back and kissed the top of his head. She teased him too. “Wet the sheets and I’ll change them fortnightly,” and “Mr. Pecker's out of practice; he can't get anything out.” When had their relationship become so coolly casual? They had not even been this irreverent when they were students in their 8ight-the-system generation. By this time, Magdalena had been out of university for years and was making quite the name for herself as a solicitor in Shef8ield. She sent her father hard cover books by post, always writing a note inside for him.

Dear Daddy,

Wish I had more face-to-face contact time with the client.

Soliciting… what a life! Hope you enjoy Rushdie’s latest offering.

Love always,

Magda *

Magdalena drove down to see William one Sunday, wondering how many more Sundays she would have like these. He heard her before he saw her, talking to Caty in the hall. “It’s a bit of an awkward situation to be honest Mum. I suspect that Ralph feels as if he should withdraw from the case, but it’s such a delicate matter. I suppose I’ll have to broach the topic, but the anniversary of our 8irst date is coming up and we always celebrate it by doing something silly. Treasure hunt in the park, miniature

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golf… that sort of thing. I think I’ll wait until after to discuss it with him. Do you think that’s awful of me?” William hadn’t even known that Magdalena and Ralph had celebrated an anniversary. They had been dating for about two years and never seemed like the type to do things like send each other on treasure hunts. In public, they were eminently aloof; they didn’t even sit with their shoulders touching like most young couples. He strained to hear the rest, but heard only the rustling of whispering. So, they were talking about him then? He doubted Caty was telling Magdalena anything he didn’t know. The survival rate for Stage III bladder cancer was 46%. Things weren’t hopeless yet. His lymph nodes were still cancer free. I’m in here. I’m still a person. He wanted to shout at them but he could not say it. He suddenly felt as if he desperately needed the loo. He didn’t want to wet the bed while Magdalena was there. Neither did he want the women to carry him to the bathroom like a geriatric burden. Perhaps pathetically, he didn't want Magdalena to see her father grunting and growling, confronted with the old man's challenge of pissing in a toilet. He wanted her to remember him as he had been—armchair literature professor, effortlessly entrepreneurial lawyer, Daddy. He would go by himself. William rolled onto one hip and the left side of his lower back burned. He forced his left hand to dig into the mattress and pushed his torso up. It felt as if there was a 8ist inside him, squeezing his bowels. His left wrist pulsed and folded as he slipped back. No. Get up William. You're named after a Conqueror! He bent his 8ingers, spread them, dug them into the bed, tightened his stomach muscles, tensed his thighs and surged upwards. “Daddy!” Magdalena’s was kneeling in front of him and Caty was at his side in an instant, pushing her shoulder into his armpit, hoisting him up. “Magda, why don’t you run to the kitchen and get the large yellow box? Those are the herbal teas I was telling you about.” Caty said this as they made their way to the bathroom, so that by the time he was on the seat their daughter was long out of the room. He didn't know why he was crying but he was.

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William squeezed as hard as he could. Caty cupped his cheek. “Don’t rush,” she said. “I hardly gave her good directions for the tea; she’ll be downstairs for a while.” Finally, mercifully, he heard the droplets plink into the toilet and felt Caty wipe the tip of his penis. They washed their hands together and only after she laid him back into bed did she say that she should go downstairs to help Magdalena. “So silly,” he heard his wife say as they returned, “I could have sworn I bought a box of those teas after we spoke about it. I suppose I sent you downstairs for nothing.” “Ugh, did you see how many calories there are in the spiced chai smoothies that I drink?” Magdalena was asking. “I threw them all out.” “I must have left that tea somewhere,” Caty said as they re-entered the room. “I’ll look again before you go.” Glancing at William, she raised an eyebrow to their cupboard and only then did he see the slender edge of the yellow box perched on top. Magdalena was too busy 8ishing a book out of her huge purse to notice but he saw. The box of herbal teas, not even hidden. His and Caty’s secret.

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Poetry

Leaving

Devanshi Khetarpal listen: i pretend to be dead with everyone & mother keeps this shadow & cleans these bones into lattice-work water kneading my skin like a drop out of the ocean leaving noise only to be seen

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Poetry

Vignettes Sanjeev Sethi

(1) A commoner never becomes king. At best, he's appointed Chief commoner. (2) The amazing thing about sorrow... everyone thinks they have it in excess. (3) When the questions are longer than the answers— it's a political interview. It’s the opposite with an artiste.

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(4) In the real world— it's not what you say that is important, but what you omit. (5) Relatives sat among relatives. Roared one, “Relatives are of no use." All agreed. (6) We think they are happy because we aren't privy to their prism. (7) Growing up is choosing between compromising or becoming a cynic.

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mlenart.deviantart.com

Don Kichote Mateusz Lenart

 

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Fiction

The truth about fireworks Catherine Sinow

A

dara’s mom let her ride her bike off the street, probably because her age was in the double digits. Sometimes she stayed behind and talked to me, though, breaking my monotony of making endless circles around the

block.

“I can read palms,” she told me one day. We stopped our bikes and she grabbed my hand. “See this line? It goes up. This means you will die of old age.” “What if it goes somewhere else?” I asked. “If it goes straight, then you will die of an accident. And if it goes down, you will die of a disease.” She browsed my wrists. “You will have more than one husband.” “At the same time?” “I don’t know. Maybe you’ll get divorced.” “I don’t want to get divorced.” I felt adulthood prematurely thrown upon me as I realized I was no more immune to a bad marriage than anyone else. “This isn’t in my control,” Adara said. “Anyway, you will have three children: a girl, another girl, and a boy. Oh, look—your middle child will suffer severe heartbreak.” “What is ‘severe heartbreak’?” I asked. “It could be a lot of things. Maybe she’ll get pregnant and the man will leave her.” Adara brought me inside her room. She kept the shades closed, and she had her own computer. She sat down at her desk and pulled up a professional-looking illustration of a golden dragon. “I did this with Photoshop. It took so long.” We went into her brother’s bedroom; we tore the sheets off his bed and threw his baseball trophies on the braided rug. I went home and tried to 8ind Photoshop on my computer; I found Microsoft Paint, which I thought was the same thing. I scribbled around with the blue paintbrush and gave up. * The next time we rode together, Adara told me about Catacomb, a video game she was making. She said if you knew code, you could design an entire game in Microsoft
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The truth about fireworks Catherine Sinow

Word. “There’s one part of the game where you come across this little boy in your journey, a little blonde kid with no abilities or anything. Most players wouldn’t even think to let him join their team, since he’d just be dead weight. But if they did let him join, farther down the line, they’d 8ind out that when you’re in battle, he turns into this massive monster with a spiked shell and huge teeth, and tons of skill points.” “Wow,” I said. “When can I play it?” “Maybe this winter.” We made a few more loops around the block; three out of the hundreds we gathered over the course of all our playdates. “Did I ever tell you I have two special friends?” she asked. “Who are they?” I asked. “One’s name is Appear, and she can only appear. The other is Disappear, and she can only disappear. Together they make me disappear from here, and appear in a land called Dream.” “What’s in Dream?” She swung her head up at nothing in particular. I looked up, too, my dad’s scratched-up Bell helmet falling down to my neck. “The sky in Dream isn’t blue; it’s pink. It’s a place where all your dreams are there for exploring. I can create anything I want in Dream—if I think of cotton candy, it comes into my hand. And Dream has all the answers. I ask the faeries there to tell me who I should talk to at school, the chosen people who can give me guidance. I learn how I can charm my parents into giving me money, and I 8ind the answers to the things my parents never wanted me to 8ind out. My parents never taught me the facts of life. My family in Dream is responsible for everything I know.” I was in awe. I had spent the ninth year of my life praying for beings like Appear and Disappear to take me by my wrist, but they never came. “How did you get Appear and Disappear to talk to you?” I asked. “Appear appeared into my room one morning and told me I was chosen.” “You’re so lucky,” I said. “How can I get them to talk to me?” “With some training, you can just go into Dream on your own. You can teach yourself eventually if you know the right clues to look for in everyday life.”

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The truth about fireworks Catherine Sinow

“What are the clues?” I asked. She smiled. “Follow me.” She led me to the sandpapery brick wall at the end of the cul-de-sac. The bricks weren’t red like the ones I saw on TV. They were beige, like all the other brick walls in our neighborhood. She stopped her bike and put her feet on the ground, stroking her quilted rubber handlebars. “I can vanish to Dream right now.” “I don’t believe you.” “Go around the block. By the time you ride back around, I’ll be gone. Disappeared off to Dream.” “I still don’t believe you,” I said. “This is weird.” “Just try it. Then when you need me back, go around the block again.” I rode up the street, a long and patient twenty-four houses. I turned around and pedaled back, and she and her bike were nowhere to be seen. “Adara?” I cried. “I know you’ve betrayed me.” I shouted at the brick wall for twenty seconds, her total absence starting to convince me she was right. I rode to the mouth of the street and back again; she was there, by the brick wall, sitting on her bike with one foot on the ground. “You hid,” I said. “I went to Dream.” “Can you tell me how to do it?” I asked. “You might not want to know just yet,” she said. “Why not?” I asked. “Let me tell you what my favorite quote is,” she said. She launched off on her bike, leaving me to trail after her. “‘Ignorance is bliss, what you don’t know will hurt you, and the world is not a safe place. Enjoy what you have, and do not look for what is beyond, because there are forces out there that will steal your innocence. Innocence is the most precious thing you have.’” She turned around and looked at me. “Do you want to know who wrote that?” “Who?” “I did,” she said, standing up on her bike like a 8igurehead. I pedaled up to her. “Can you tell me how to go to Dream?”

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The truth about fireworks Catherine Sinow

“Maybe,” she said. She stopped and put one foot on the ground. “It’s getting kind of late; I should be going inside for dinner now.” “It’s not getting late,” I said, panicking. “It’s three o’clock.” “No, I can see the sky is kind of starting to look that evening blue way.” She went inside. Adara and I agreed to meet at 11:45 by the community mailbox on Easter, but she didn’t show. I looked through my blinds every afternoon thereafter, but I never saw her riding her bike. Meanwhile, I read into everything I saw, searching for Dream clues: I skimmed every book in the classroom bookshelf, I scoured the back of my mom’s closet, and I spent ages trying to peer inside the sound hole of my dad’s guitar with a 8lashlight. I started lying awake at night for hours, staring at my door, only visible by an outline of light from the hallway. If I looked at the outline long enough, it moved farther and farther away. * The next time I saw Adara was on Independence Day. I looked out my window and saw her roll past my driveway, so I hurried to my garage. I pressed the “open bay three” button and rode out with a blank look on my face, trying to make it appear like I was riding my bike of my own accord. “Danielle!” she said, riding beside me. “Oh hi, Adara.” “There are more things I have to tell you,” she said. The wind blew her thick blonde curls everywhere, obscuring her face. “Okay,” I said. “Remember when I told you about Appear and Disappear?” “Yeah,” I said. “If Appear can only appear, where did she come from? And if Disappear can only disappear, how does she reappear?” “I…I don’t know,” I admitted. “They’re the same person.” “Oh,” I said. “Everything is the same thing,” she said. “You and I are the same thing. This house and that house,” she pointed, “are the same.”

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The truth about fireworks Catherine Sinow

“Then how are you are over there and I am here?” “It’s imaginary. We humans need something to hang onto, so we separate, separate, separate.” “I don’t think I could see the world how it really is, even if I tried,” I said. We stopped; I looked at the houses and envisioned them melting together. It worked a little if I blurred my eyes, but upon de-blurring, the houses returned to their original positions. “I can’t do it,” I said. “They’ve trained us against it,” said Adara. Adara and I pedaled up driveways and off curbs, feeling our shock absorbers take the pavement. “Some humans, about one percent, are actually nine-tailed foxes in disguise,” she told me. “They’re called Yokos, and they will hurt you. That’s why you always have to watch who you tell your secrets to. Trees have ears, and so do walls. Be careful.” “I will be,” I said.

“You know a lot now, Danielle. You are now one of the Elites.” I didn’t ask what that word meant. “It’s good to know all these facts,” I said. I decided this was the right time to impress her with one of my home-brewed philosophies. “I think about this stuff on my own sometimes. One of my theories is that as time goes on, I’ll be immune to all my senses, and life will be meaningless,” I said. “That can happen,” she said. “I’m older than you, so I have it worse. Video games don’t make me feel in the same way as they did, say, even six months ago.” “What about your video game that you made?” “Oh, I’ve got a safety net against that. Catacomb is very stimulating. It uses parts of your brain that normally aren’t used.” “Is it going to be rated M?” “I don’t think it could have a rating, or even be released like normal. It’s not violent, or too sexual. Just too complicated for most people’s heads.” At this point, we were starting to veer off the street. “Maybe it should be only for the Elites.” We made circles on the big road that connected to our cul-de-sac, dodging Subarus. My circles were tentative; I kept edging back toward our street.

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The truth about fireworks Catherine Sinow

“Sometimes I see everything being the same,” Adara said. “Disappear comes and makes me disappear, usually in the morning when I’m laying on my bed. There, I have no body, and I see only blue. And who knows? One day, the blue might surround me, and then…another world.” “Will that happen to me?” I asked. “Probably not. I haven't told you everything yet. I know it all, or at least a lot more than you do. And it’s a lot to handle.” “I bet it is,” I said. I wanted to ask for more secrets, but I remembered what Adara said about how the truth could hurt me. “I have to go,” she said, suddenly. “The Fourth of July party will be starting soon.” “Is it at the Lothrops’ house?” I said, hoping it was the same party as the one my family was going to. “Nope!” she said, yet again failing to register how much I wanted to hang out with her. “Mine is at the Abelmans’. They have a bon8ire, and a cupcake buffet.” My eyes lit up. “That sounds awesome. I want to go to that party,” I said. “Maybe one day,” she said, and got on her bike. The good things in life, like bon8ires and her company, were always out of reach. Now, according to her, it would only get worse from here. “Well, I’d best be off now,” said Adara, and she pedaled away. I tailed her into our street, and I stopped at my driveway, since my house came 8irst. Fourth house on the left; hers was the ninth. Her bike continued to roll, and I watched her shrink into the horizon. “Bye!” she yelled, turning around, stretching her arm out, and waving. “Bye,” I tried to say, but I couldn’t yell. * I walked my bike into the garage, threw it on my brother’s BMX bike, and sprinted for my room. Thirty minutes later, my mom parted my beaded curtain; she peeled the comforter off me and begged to know why I was crying. I used the excuse that had spared me a quarter of the fourth grade: I had a headache. But the truth was, I knew the dark truths of life that she could never comprehend. She brought me Advil with a coral plastic cup of water, but no matter how I pleaded, she wouldn’t let me stay home. So I went to my closet and dragged my hooded private school sweatshirt over

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The truth about fireworks Catherine Sinow

my head. “The Paci8ic Pine School” was stitched onto the front, so I detested it. But it was warmest sweatshirt I owned. The house had a panoramic view of the local canyon, with thousands of illuminated house windows on the opposite ridge. Darkness covered the backyard except where the tiki lamps blazed, illuminating the edges of huddling adults and kids running across the grass. There was a motel blue kidney pool in the center of the yard, 8illed with paddling bodies and pool 8loaties. On that lawn, I spent hours eating barbecue-8lavored chips and making small talk with my classmates’ moms, trying not to cry. And then the 8ireworks began. Some giant hand was drawing vibrant red and white squiggles across the sky. They exploded above the fairgrounds, obscuring the ocean. A second set rose from Rancho Santa Fe, where the billionaires lived behind gated driveways, and a third rose from Poway, a hilly neighborhood known for its DMV. Alone in the darkness, with the blasts masking the ecstatic shrieks of toddlers, I began to sob again. I knew that the 8ireworks were made to please the normal people, and I was never going to be one of them again. The 8ireworks meant nothing.

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Fiction

Father Richard Sensenbrenner

M

y father worked with a machine, fourteen out of twenty-four hours, through winters without suns, clanking hard hat and lunch box to Mom's morning murmurs, coming or going—Hey or Bye—still with

the spit to play dolls with my sister—and make them kiss—before dinner. His arms shook as he lifted himself off the living room 8loor, onto ageing knees. Long summer days were mine, two mitts and a ball, laces fraying, waiting in the hall among the mingling of forgotten coats, wondering if something important would happen and we wouldn't be able to play. Come on, Dad! Suns dropped like rocks. I threw pop ups, waited for Mom to stop talking so he could come out. He always paused at the door and counted three or something before walking out. The big arms came around cold and slow at 8irst along with exhales of breath. I shot balls back fast and hard, to show I could. I could have held them longer, thrown them slower. Mom called too soon, the second time counting, and Dad would pick me up with a grunt, sneakers and mitt hanging, and hold me against the suns, checking for purity. He would smile at me, corners of his eyes wrinkling and the eyelids would nod in agreement to some thought in his graying head, as if agreeing that this was a good trade. 


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cody-anderson-art.tumblr.com

The Time Keeper Cody Anderson

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Poetry

Relic

Devanshi Khetarpal color-cut this tiered crane: its mesh of woodnote treillage slinking from its nape into cusps of noise snowing into relic swelling into corrosion these bones fog the body 
 naked

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Fiction

Find Buster Darlene Campos

O

n the 8irst day of Christmas break, Dad and I had a piece of bread for lunch. He had a job 8ixing airplanes at the Livingston Municipal Airport, but they said they couldn’t pay him anymore, so he was let go. Mom

worked at Friedman’s Grocery Store four days a week. She gave food samples to customers and if there were any left over, she would bring them home for us. “Dad, I’m starving!” I whined an hour later, picking at breadcrumbs on my lap.

“You’ll live, Ben,” he mumbled as he highlighted job ads in the newspaper. “What if Mom doesn’t bring any samples home?” “Then we’ll eat dirt.” “I don’t wanna eat dirt, Dad.” “You will if you get hungry enough.” When Mom came home, she handed me a piece of paper. It had a picture of a small dog with the word ‘LOST’ in big, bold letters printed at the top. “A customer at the store told me she lost her dog and she’s offering $1,000 to anyone who 8inds him,” Mom said. “I thought you might wanna look for him since you’re on vacation.” The dog was cute and he had 8luffy white fur and blotches of brown on his tail. His name was Buster, and looked a lot better than the stray dogs that hung around my neighborhood. Later that night, Ernie invited me over to his house for dinner. After eating chicken tacos with rice and beans, we played basketball in his driveway. “I overheard my parents saying if they can’t pay the house bill this month, we’re gonna have to move in with my grandparents on the rez,” I said. “Do you know how much your parents pay for your house?” Ernie asked as he bounced the ball around me. “800 bucks. That’s what I heard my mom say.” “We could look for that lost dog,” he shrugged. “His sign is everywhere. If you get the reward money, you can pay your house for another month and your dad might 8ind a job by then.”
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* I didn’t know how to start looking for Buster, so I asked Dad if he knew anything about catching lost dogs. “Leave bacon on the porch.” “Dad, bacon would catch you.” “That’s how your mother got me to go out with her,” he said. “She wore a dress made out of bacon at the senior prom. It was love at 8irst sniff.” “Stop teasing him, Norman,” Mom called from the kitchen. “Tell him something useful.” Dad placed a hand on my right shoulder, “Whatever you do, don’t wear a cat suit.” I started the search in the neighborhood where Buster was last seen. Ernie put dog treats on the sidewalks and I called out “Buster” over and over again. After three hours of looking, all we had were treat crumbs and stray dogs chasing us for more. We ran away as fast as we could and went inside the neighborhood’s clubhouse. “Okay, let’s focus. If you were a dog, where would you go?” “I don’t know,” Ernie said, scratching his head. “A steakhouse?” “How many dogs have you seen at a steakhouse?” “I’ve never been to a steakhouse, how should I know? Don’t worry, Ben. Look on the bright side–Livingston’s a small town.” “Buster could be anywhere, Ernie.” “Anywhere? Then let’s check a steakhouse tomorrow!” We high 8ived each other and started walking home. * On day two of Buster searching, Dad took Ernie and me to Matthews Park. We peeked inside bushes, got bitten by weird looking bugs, and thought we saw Buster in a tree, but it was just a white towel. Dad sat on a bench, reading a book about World War II airplanes. Whenever Dad read, he blocked out everything else. He liked reading because it was something we could still afford. Back in November, we sold our TV for grocery money, but checking out books from the library was always free, so that’s what we did for fun. “Dad, we can’t 8ind this dog anywhere!” I groaned and threw my hands up. He raised his 8inger at me and said “Wait.” I stood in front of him until he shut his book.

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“Ben, almost 10 billion gallons of gas were used to fuel all of the Word War II planes. That’s more gas than I let out after eating your mom’s chili.” “Dad, when am I ever going to need to know that?” “Maybe Buster ran away to become a pilot.” Ernie and I explored Matthews Park until it started getting dark. The house bill was due in three weeks. My grandparents were in San Antonio for their 50th wedding anniversary and they said we could move in as soon as they got back, but I didn’t want to move away from Ernie. He was my best buddy and I hoped I would 8ind Buster soon. Later that day, Mom came home with a basket of fruit and a box with rice and shredded chicken. It smelled so good, I rushed over to hug her so I could smell the food better. “This is from Mrs. Hansen,” she said. “She’s Buster’s owner. She came by giving out more signs and when I told her you’re looking for Buster, she bought me all this food.” “Hear that, son? You keep not 8inding that dog and we can eat!” Dad said and high 8ived me. I helped Mom take the food into the kitchen. We got some paper plates from the pantry and dug in, even though the food was cold. We 8inished eating in 8ive minutes. Around nine, I crawled into my bed, deep under my blankets to keep warm from the blowing Texas winds outside. Mom knocked on my door right as I started to fall asleep. She walked inside and sat on the edge of my bed. “Ben,” she said softly. “Living with your grandparents will only be until Dad 8inds a job. He’s already applied to every single ad in the paper and he’s got some interviews coming up.” “What if Dad never 8inds a new job?” I asked. Mom put a hand over her mouth. “You know, I never thought about that. Maybe I can make him some chili and he can sell his gas to an oil company.” I laughed as Mom kissed me goodnight. * Mom drove Ernie and me to Mrs. Hansen’s house on Saturday morning. Her two story house was about three times the size of mine. The cars in the driveway weren’t dented and the mailbox wasn’t tipped over. Mom rang the doorbell. Mrs. Hansen

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answered with a plate of chocolate chip cookies in her hands. She was about Mom’s age, but she didn’t have the swollen bags under her eyes that Mom did. “Hello, Mrs. Hansen. I brought the boys, like you wanted.” “So you two are the Buster Detectives. What are your names, young men?” “I’m Benjamin Silver Lake,” I said and shook her hand. “And I’m Ernesto Jarquin. At your service, ma’am.” He saluted Mrs. Hansen like he always did to every new adult he met. “Come inside,” Mrs. Hansen gestured us through a solid oak door, as tall as Ernie and I combined. “I have some things for you.” Mom, Ernie, and I slowly walked into the house. There were rugs on the hardwood 8loors, chandeliers hanging from the ceiling, and a giant television set in the living room. We sat on a leather couch and ate some of the chocolate chip cookies. Mrs. Hansen went to another room for a few minutes and came back with a basket full of squeaky toys. “These are Buster’s favorite toys,” Mrs. Hansen said. “If you take them with you, Buster might hear the noise and recognize it.” She handed me a rubber chicken and she gave Ernie a spikey baseball. “I’ve been looking all over town and no sign of Buster yet,” Mrs. Hansen sighed. “But with you boys helping me out, I think we can 8ind him.” All of the sudden, we heard crying. Mrs. Hansen ran up the stairs and she brought down a fussing little girl in her arms. “This is Grace, my two year old daughter,” she told us. “Buster was her best friend.” After visiting Mrs. Hansen’s house, Mom took us to Saint Joseph’s Catholic Church. Ernie went there every Sunday and he said church members gave out food to stray dogs, so we thought Buster must have showed up for a meal. Thomas, the old man who cleaned the church, stared hard at Buster’s picture on the missing sign. He took a deep breath. “I know I’ve seen this dog. He looks so familiar.” “He’s been missing for a couple of days now, sir,” I said. “I’m a hundred percent sure he stopped by here last night for some food. I’ll keep watch for him today. Come back tomorrow and I’ll give you an update.”

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* The next morning, Dad dropped Ernie and me off at Saint Joseph’s while he went to an interview at the bank next door. We ran inside the sanctuary and found Thomas mopping. “Yeah, that dog came by, I trapped him for you,” Thomas said as he led us to a shed at the back of the church. When he unlocked the shed door, a huge, black dog ran out, gnashing his teeth and barking at us. Ernie and I ran back inside the church before the dog ate us for breakfast. “That dog’s not white,” I panted. “He’s way too big. There’s no way that’s Buster.” “It has to be Buster,” Thomas said. “Let me see that sign again.” Ernie pulled a copy out of his pocket. Thomas unfolded it and squinted. “Nope, you boys are right.” We left Thomas some dog treats to put out in case Buster stopped by for a snack. Dad pulled his car up to us and when we jumped inside, it started raining hard. “I thought I heard barking on my way over here,” Dad said. “It was the wrong dog,” I said, still panting. “It was giant!” “It almost ate us, Mr. Silver Lake.” “Of course it did, both of you boys smell like dog treats.” As soon as the rain stopped, Ernie and I looked all over our neighborhood and the neighborhood behind ours. We squeaked Buster’s toys, hoping he would hear them from wherever he was. An old woman stepped out of her house and she told us if we didn’t stop our squeaking, she would call the police. “We’re just looking for Buster, ma’am,” I said. “You’re looking to bust me?!” she shouted. She came after us with her cane, swinging it and cursing. We showed her a copy of Buster’s sign, but she grabbed it, ripped it, and yelled, “Don’t tell me I look like a dog!” She tossed her cane at us, though it missed and it hit a passing car. The driver stopped to see what was going on. “These boys giving you trouble, ma’am?” the driver said. “They said they’re gonna bust me!” The driver came over to us, rolling up his shirt sleeves. “Let’s run for it, Ben,” Ernie whispered in my ear.

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“No, maybe he’s seen Buster.” I held my hands up and gently gave the driver a copy of the sign. “We’re looking for Buster,” I said. “My family really needs the reward money.” “You’re only looking for this dog for money?” “Not just the money, sir. His best friend’s a little girl named Grace and she really misses him, probably the same way I would miss my best friend here, Ernie, if I ever got lost. Have you seen this dog, sir?” The driver looked at the sign and he nodded. “Sure, I know this dog,” he said. “He lives in my sister’s neighborhood. My niece always talks about how cute he is. She might have seen him in the last few days.” “Are you gonna bust those boys or do I have to bust you with them?” the old woman screamed as she waved her arms in the air. The driver wrote down my phone number and Ernie’s, too. He took a copy of the sign and said he would get in touch with his sister. “You boys be careful,” the driver told us. “Especially from that old lady.” I ate dinner at Ernie’s house that day. His parents were Mexican and their homemade food was way better than any Mexican restaurant I ever went to. Mrs. Jarquin’s refried beans and cheese enchiladas were my favorite. Mr. Jarquin loved making fruit juices. He made the best pineapple and strawberry cocktails in all of Livingston. “I lost my dog when I was a little girl,” Mrs. Jarquin told us during dinner. “We got him back a week later. I was so glad to see him again.” “Where was he, Mama?” Ernie asked. “I don’t know, he found his way home,” she shrugged. Ernie and I groaned. If Buster showed up at his house, I wouldn’t get any of the reward money. But Grace would have her best friend back and I thought that was worth more than any kind of reward. * Buster had been missing for a week and Mrs. Hansen raised the reward money to $2,000. Dad woke me up earlier than usual and we went to the library to research how to 8ind a missing dog. The books we checked out said not to chase the dog because it might get scared and run away. Instead, you had to let the dog come after

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Find Buster Darlene Campos

you until you found a place to trap it. The books also said to be patient and never lose hope. “See, Ben,” Dad said. “The books say to keep up the good work.” “These books didn’t tell me anything I didn’t know already.” “Look what it says right here,” Dad pointed to a paragraph. “Stubborn boys who don’t listen to their fathers don’t 8ind dogs.” “It doesn’t say that, Dad, I know how to read.” “Then keep reading. Books make you smarter. Kids at school might make fun of you for being poor or for wearing funny clothes, but if you’re smart, they can never call you stupid.” “Okay,” I said. “I’ll keep on reading.” I skimmed through the books Dad got for me and I checked out a few others to see what they said about lost dogs. In the end, they all said to keep looking. Looking was the only thing I could do. But I was getting worried. School started again in ten days and if we didn’t pay the house on time, I wouldn’t be going to school with Ernie anymore. To add to everything, my grandparents were coming home from their anniversary trip in two days. “Dad…my head really hurts.” Dad rubbed my forehead with his thumbs. “Let’s go home and I’ll make you some tea.” Back at the house, Dad boiled some leaves in a little pot and served me the tea in a big mug. It tasted horrible, but it did make my head quit pounding. I glanced at the clock on the microwave. It was a couple minutes past noon, time to start looking for Buster. “Where are you looking today, Benny?” Dad asked when he saw me heading out. “I don’t know, Dad. It feels like I’ve looked everywhere.” “Ben, try looking for him in the most bizarre places. When you look for something hard enough, you 8ind it and that’s why I know I’ll 8ind a job soon. You’ll 8ind Buster. Just do whatever the books tell you to do.” “Thanks, Dad.” He kissed my forehead and opened the front door for me. *

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Two days before I was supposed to move to the rez, I got a call from the driver Ernie and I met some time ago. He said his sister swore she saw Buster running through the neighborhood. Dad rushed Ernie and me over there. When we arrived, there were about 50 other people standing around yelling, “Buster!” “Hurry up, boys, they’ll take our reward money!” Dad pulled over and we hopped out of the car. We squeaked Buster’s toys about a hundred times. We tossed dog treats in everywhere, even up in the trees. But there was no sign of him. “I give up, Ernie, I’m going home!” “Wait!” Ernie shouted, pulling on my arm. “We never checked Long King Creek. If we don’t 8ind him there, we’ll stop looking, I promise.” Dad caught up with us a few minutes later and we all walked to Long King Creek up the street, but I didn’t have high hopes. “The books said to never give up,” Dad reminded me. “Do what the books say.” I rolled my eyes. We walked around the creek, squeaking the toys and leaving dog treats like always. There was some mud I didn’t see, so I slipped. I landed on my back and hit my head on a loose branch. Ernie kept on walking with Dad since they didn’t see me lying on the dirt. I got up and jogged towards Ernie and Dad. Then I felt something tugging at my jacket sleeve. “I hate these branches,” I said to myself, except it wasn’t a branch. It was Buster. “BUSTER!” I yelled. But he wouldn’t have me raising my voice at him. He barked and tried to bite my legs, so I ran and he came right after me. I ran so fast, I passed Ernie and Dad. “Somebody catch him before he kills me!” I shouted. Soon, Buster and I were darting through the intersection, close to Friedman’s Grocery Store where Mom worked. I let Buster chase me because the books said so. He followed me into Friedman’s, but I couldn’t go on running anymore. I reached into my pocket and felt the spikey baseball. When we got to a corner in the store, I threw the ball at him. It landed in the center of his mouth. “Ben?” Mom asked when she saw me. “Are you okay?” “Found Buster, Mom,” I told her. Then I fell on the 8loor. *

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Mom and Dad took Ernie and me to Mrs. Hansen’s right away. She opened the door with Grace by her side. Grace waddled over to Buster and she hugged his neck as he licked her face. Mrs. Hansen reached into her purse and gave me and Ernie $1,000 each in cash. I had never held so much money in my hands before. “This is a lot of money, Mrs. Hansen,” Ernie said. “I don’t need all this.” He handed me his stack of cash, but I didn’t want it. “Uh, Mrs. Hansen,” I said. “Ernie’s right, this is a lot of money. But he should have some because I wouldn’t have found Buster without him. My dad took me to the library to get books on how to 8ind a lost dog and it was my mom’s idea for me to look for Buster anyway. I don’t deserve all this cash for myself.” “Son, you shut up,” Dad whispered to me in our native Alabama language. “That’s very sweet of you to say, Ben,” Mrs. Hansen said with a smile. “Maybe there’s something else I could give you for bringing Buster home.” “What I would really like is for my dad to have a job so we can keep on being in Livingston,” I said. Mrs. Hansen nodded. She asked Dad what he did before he got laid off. “He’s been 8ixing planes at the airport for years,” Mom butted in. “But this year, they said there wasn’t enough money to pay him, so he hasn’t been working for three months. He knows to 8ix planes, cars, and busses, but still nothing.” “Mr. Silver Lake, I’m sorry but all I can do is wish you good luck. My husband, Mr. Hansen, was out of work for a long time too, but eventually he found something and you will soon. For now, I want all of you to enjoy this reward money.” * The Saturday after school was back in, Mom took me and Ernie to Matthews Park for Family Fun Day. There was mini golf, bounce houses, and free barbecue. “I can’t believe your dad still doesn’t have a job,” Ernie said as we sipped on lemon sodas. “All that looking for nothing.” “At least Grace got her best friend back. And I got to stay in Livingston for now.” “But if your dad doesn’t get a job soon, you’ll move away.” “I know,” I said. “It sucks.”

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“My dad said the reservation is only a 20 mile drive from here, Ben. My parents could take me over there on the weekends and when school’s out for spring break, you can stay at my house all week long.” “But we won’t be in the same school anymore.” “Didn’t you say your dad’s got an interview on Monday?” “Yeah, he does. I hope he gets the job, Ernie. I don’t have a best friend on the rez.” * “Benny,” Dad said when I came home after school on Friday. “I learned something really interesting this morning.” “If it’s about farting or airplanes, you told me. I gotta pack for the rez now, Dad.” “No, you don’t. I learned that we Silver Lakes are champions at 8inding stuff.” “That was in a library book?” “The school district called this morning. I got that bus mechanic job I went in for on Monday. We’re gonna be okay after all.” “You found a job, Dad?” I hugged him and he patted my back. “Of course I did, I left job treats outside the school district’s building last week. The only problem now is I found my old work shirt, but I can’t 8ind my work pants anywhere. What do you say we make a sign for my lost pants?” “Dad, we can’t do that.” “Sure we can, son. It’ll say missing pants,” he waved a hand across the air. “Last seen on Norman Silver Lake’s legs. Reward, Mrs. Silver Lake’s homemade chili.” “Okay,” I nodded. “Let’s go check Long King Creek for them.”


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Poetry

Out-caste Sheri Vandermolen

Her young children huddle, run, rearrange themselves, like 8luffy chicks scurrying from the steadfast protection of a mother hen. She gives them a mindful nod and moves further down the street, swinging her coconut broom in tedious tick-tock motion, then stops, every few feet, to throw protean piles of trash into the reeking heaps bulging from the packed-tight bed of the BBMP collection truck. After her shift, she'll gather her kids, trickle back to the laborers' camp. If she's lucky, the local pump will spout enough water to 8ill her bucket, allowing them to bathe at their hut, Otherwise, she'll slip off to a ditch-stream, to wash their clothes, tidy up. Residents from the gated neighborhood just next door see her today and every day, as they 8lood to work, but most avoid eye contact and won't allow even their gazes to touch her.

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Poetry

 

Delhi

Devanshi Khetarpal night & back this city sits like a stone on my chest streets more skin less bone this body rolls down a cliff into so much smoke so close to home

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Poetry

The Whale Middle of the Paci8ic and you begin to think the horizon is the end of the world. Sea monsters waiting, or the ship will go pitch-poling over the edge into a blackness that only you can see despite the slight difference of blue in the sea and sky, despite the bioluminescence that trickles past the ship when you look over the side at night.

The Corner Club Quarterly

And the Indian Ocean is no different, only there are white whales and we’re all Ishmaels, Starbucks, Queequegs and Ahabs. Except, the whale that did hit the ship near the Straits of Hormuz didn’t stove her in, but only slid, impaled, down the bow to die, resting, on the

Michael McInnis

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jinzilla.deviantart.com


War and Peace Jin Fang

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Fiction

Shards of Love Jayanthi Rangan

A

leppo was a memory vault, joyous and meaningful—the known relatives and friends, small luxuries, and the familiar nostalgic scenes were powerfully etched on Mayda’s mind. She had grown up here soaking

paradise. Assad had allowed them to be themselves—Christians. People of different beliefs and denominations lived side by side as copper and alloyed loose coins remained in the same purse. Was this harmony and peace? Who cared, as long as violence did not make its mark on day-to-day living? Marriage had taken Mayda out of Aleppo but she often returned there as though on pilgrimage. The annual visits were heavy with affection and history. Her compassion for her people was intense, her generosity and energy boundless. People often asked: Why do you work so hard for Aleppo? They were curious about how she could love a piece of land no longer her home. Her quick retort was: “Just land? It’s the collective breathing of my people and years of history.” Friendly folks she had just met could sense this love and they queried: Where is Aleppo exactly? How could people not know the center of universe? Mayda started creating her own Little Syria. Immigrants from Syria piled under her wings, of different generations, lifestyles and class structures fused together under her care as a single 8lock. It was hard to know from her behavior whether she considered people from her land to be 8lawless or super gifted. They just made her happy—oh, so happy. She molded the career of her son, in line with her own af8iliation. When Raf8i wanted to join the U.S. Air Force she asked: “Is there a better way you could serve my people and your ambition? God forbid, if the U.S. sent you to Aleppo to be on the war front.” Raf8i had relented and made peaceful 8lying his calling. Years later, on 25 September 2014 the bombs fell on Aleppo—targeted 8irings for 


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Shards of Love Jayanthi Rangan

ISIS, but the shock waves reached Mayda from across the ocean. The destruction shrapnel felt as though right under her heart. This love was very painful. Every phone call and message from Aleppo felt like her own death warrant. Her palms sweated and ran rivulets as her hello came out on the phone in a shaky voice, “Iyo?” How could she make a difference? How could she save her people? Anti-ISIS sentiment was running high and no one thought of the innocent civilians’ lives. She, too, was appalled by the terrorists. Who wouldn’t be? But she couldn’t remain a bystander and watch her world go up in smoke. Her phone vibrated all the time—8irst the relatives, then the friends and acquaintances and now total strangers. She listened to their stories, gave instructions and support. She was their tenuous link to hope. Mayda listed the people who had left her land and those who stayed. The list was lop-sided. Was her old neighborhood a ghost town now? Then came a call announcing the death of a very remote acquaintance. The connection was so distant that Mayda had a hard time recalling her face completely. Yet this call was the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back. She decided to go to save her Aleppo. She had no notion as to what she would do but she had to try. She had to be there physically. Raf8i argued and cajoled. She could achieve more from this land than by being there. “That is the war-front,” said Raf8i. “The same war-front you kept me away from.” “Yes, I know my irrational thinking,” she cried, “but I have to go.” How does one deal with a stubborn mother? Raf8i’s frustration 8isted on the coffee table. Together the coffee table and the phone vibrated. Was there no end to the distress calls? Why were people calling Mayda? Why not the agencies? Raf8i reached out to the fallen phone and noticed the local number. The call was from an escapee from Syria—shoeless and wallet free Mihran had landed at Mayda’s new surroundings. Relief swept over Raf8i. For the time being his mother would not abandon this country to go to a place that only existed in her mind. She would be right here looking after a new immigrant as she once was. For the 8irst time, Aleppo had come calling on Mayda. 


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Review

The Nineteen Steps Between Us Review by Trivarna Hariharan Author: Darren C. Demaree
 Publisher: After The Pause Press (A subsidiary of After The Pause Literary Journal) 
 Publication Year: 2016
 Cover Artist: “Two Sets of Eyes in the Moonlight” by W. Jack Savage
 Available now from After the Pause. Proceeds from this book go to support Ohio Alliance for Arts Education.
 


“I have had to mission/the rest of me/to believe completely/that this prostration/theory is one/that will move with me/& angle me with/an intention/of worshipping/the arrival/of your mission/which will become mine/if only for the one/second we are open/& that is a reason/to start walking again.”
 


Darren C. Demaree’s “The Nineteen Steps Between Us” is an uninhibited exploration of the various aspects of self. The book is divided into nineteen “steps”—each as lucid, brief, vivid and conversational as the other. 
 


The poems are lyrical, seamless and emotionally impactful. Not once do they feel alienating or disjointed. They take us through a panorama of settings, moods and contexts, and their strength lies in conveying the most complex of emotions in the simplest of ways. 
 


“You/are beautiful. Whatever/makes you that way/is beautiful too. How we come/to pass each other,/even if it is only one time,/that is the most beautiful/idea I’ve ever heard & since it wasn’t my own/I must make many promises/to keep it pure/ecstatic, fundamentally/ af8irming, an element/that never needed/to be explained to/or be explained by/in thoughtful 8lushes/of the divine. Think, believe & love that process/it is your own & mine is my own & that is the only reason/we do not need/to embrace fully” is one of the many examples of a spectacular mood shift, and the employment of beautiful and individualistic literary aesthetic. 


It takes a lot of trust in the readers to bare your heart open with such unbridled honesty. Demaree achieves that, and a lot more in this book. His poetic genius lies in his ability to not let the aesthetic beauty of his work come in the way of his verse’s emotional impact. He has an extremely distinctive voice, and isn’t afraid of exploring it without reticence or selfreservation.
 


Read this book for some emotionally engaging poetry and great food for thought.
 


To order copies of this book and a...p press’s other titles, go to lulu.com or afterthepause.com
 


Visit the After The Pause website for reading their literary journal or checking out more of their titles: www.afterthepause.com
 


Read more of Darren’s work on his website: darrencdemaree.com


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Contributors

Joseph Anthony attended Rutgers University where he graduated in May 2012 with a double major in English & Psychology. His 8irst book, "An Uneaten Breakfast: Collected Stories and Poems,” was published in 2012 by Diamond Mill Press. His 8irst novel, "The Alphabet of Dating" was published in 2015. Anthony is currently working on a gaythemed poetry collection, forthcoming in the spring of 2016. He lives in New Jersey where he works with 8irst and second grade autistic students. Melanie Burchby is a preschool teacher, early education consultant, former thespian, relatively sane cat lady and an aspiring writer. Born and raised in southern California, she now lives in New York City, a situation that she regards as exquisite and impermanent. Stories of all types are her passion in life—she tells them incessantly and consumes them voraciously. Darlene P. Campos is an MFA candidate at the University of Texas at El Paso’s Creative Writing Program. In 2013, she won the Glass Mountain contest for prose and was awarded the Sylvan N. Karchmer Fiction Prize. She is from Guayaquil, Ecuador but has lived in Houston all her life. Her website is darlenepcampos.com Rich Ives lives on Camano Island in Puget Sound. His writing has appeared in Verse, North American Review, Dublin Quarterly, Massachusetts Review, Northwest Review, Quarterly West, Iowa Review, Poetry Northwest, Virginia Quarterly Review, Fiction Daily and many more. He is a winner of the Francis Locke Memorial Poetry Award from Bitter Oleander and the 2012 winner of the Creative Non8iction Prize from Thin Air magazine. He has several published works, including his recent story collection, “The Balloon Containing the Water Containing the Narrative Begins Leaking”, available through What Books Press.

Patrick Key recently obtained his MA degree in English from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, and 8igured it was high time to start sending things out in earnest. Devanshi Khetarpal is a high school junior from Bhopal, India. She is the author of Welcome To Hilltop High (Indra, 2012) and Co:ma,to’se (Partridge, 2014). An attendee of the 2015 Iowa Young Writers' Studio at the University of Iowa, she works as a Poetry Editor for Phosphene Literary Journal, the Head of Redefy India and the Editor-in-chief cum Founder of Inklette Magazine. Her poems have been published in Alexandria Quarterly, The Cadaverine, Glass Kite Anthology, Dirty Chai, Eunoia Review, and Polyphony H.S. among others. Devanshi is usually spotted reading chapbooks in shady cafes while sipping Americano. Josef Krebs’ poetry appears in The Corner Club Press, Agenda, Bicycle Review, Calliope, Mouse Tales Press, The FictionWeek Literary Review, Burningword Literary Journal, and Crack the Spine. A short story has been published by blazeVOX and a chapbook of his poems will be published soon by Etched Press. He’s written three novels, 8ive screenplays, and a book of poetry. His 8ilm was successfully screened at Santa Cruz and Short Film Corner of Cannes 8ilm festivals. For the past seven years, he’s been working as a freelance writer for Sound&Vision magazine, having previously worked at the magazine for 15 years as a staff writer and editor. Michael McInnis lives in Boston and spent six years in the Navy sailing across the Paci8ic and Indian Oceans to the Persian Gulf three times,

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Contributors

Breanne Mc Ivor (MSc, Edinburgh, MA Cambridge) is a Trinidadian author who works in Human Resources. She is the co-founder of People’s Republic of Writing (PROW), a populist writing group created out of the belief that writing belongs to everyone. In her free moments, she reads, dances and practices yoga. Elson Meehan holds a degree in English with Honours in Creative Writing from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. Her short 8iction has appeared in Drunken Boat, The Golden Key, and in the Glint Literary Journal. She works for a development education centre, and has recently completed a novel manuscript.

Sheri Vandermolen is editor in chief of Time Being Books. From 2008 to 2014, she resided in India, exploring the subcontinent via camera and pen to capture experiences as commonplace as trips to the local city market and as distinct as her visit to the 2013 Maha Kumbh Mela, in Allahabad. Her verse pieces and photographs have appeared in various international journals, including Boloji, Camel Saloon, Cargo Literary, Commonline Journal, Contemporary American Voices, Contemporary Literary Review India, Earthen Lamp Journal, Eastlit, Foliate Oak, Papercuts, Poetry Quarterly, Shot Glass Journal, Taj Mahal Review, and VerseVirtual, as well as in the anthology Veils, Halos and Shackles: International Poetry on the Oppression and Empowerment of Women.

Jayanthi Rangan Sanjeev Sethi has recently released his third book of poems, “This Summer and That Summer,” (Bloomsbury). His poems have found a home in The London Magazine, Ink Sweat and Tears, The Galway Review, The Open Mouse, Otoliths, Solstice Literary Magazine, Hamilton Stone Review, Literary Orphans, Crack the Spine Literary Magazine, The Peregrine Muse, The Bitchin’ Kitsch, Section 8 Magazine, River Poets Journal, Tuck Magazine, Anti-Heroin Chic, The Jawline Review, and elsewhere. Poems are forthcoming in Meniscus, Amaryllis Poetry, Futures Trading, First Literary Review-East, Sentinel Literary Quarterly, Drunk Monkeys, Harbinger Asylum, Linden Avenue Literary Journal, and Yellow Chair Review. He lives in Mumbai, India. Richard Sensenbrenner was born a writer but was forced to get "a real job." Sometimes Richard can't sleep at night and tells himself stories to help. They usually don't come out best on the 8irst telling and wouldn't it just be easier to get up and right them down? So he does.

Illustrators Patricio Betteo: betteo.blogspot.com.au Cody Anderson: cody-anderson-art.tumblr.com Jin Fang: jinzilla.tumblr.com Cyril Berthault-Jacquier: anggles.com Mateusz Lenart: facebook.com/mateusz.lenart.90 Please support our artists, poets and authors by visiting their websites.

See yo u e! m i t t x e n 78


The Corner Club Quarterly


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Profile for Alana Lopez

Volume 5 issue 20 spring 2016  

where poetry and fiction converge

Volume 5 issue 20 spring 2016  

where poetry and fiction converge

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