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Atlas & Alice Literary Magazine

Issue 4 Summer/Fall 2015


Issue 4 Summer/Fall 2015

Atlas and Alice Literary Magazine Sioux City, Iowa www.atlasandalice.com atlasandalice@gmail.com

Š Atlas and Alice, All Rights Reserved.


Our History

Atlas and Alice Literary Magazine takes its name from the ATLAS and ALICE experiments at the Large Hadron Collider at CERN. These experiments look to explain some of the most fundamental characteristics of the universe. Although the names of these experiments are technically acronyms, we find it beautiful, ironic, compelling that they also share names with two eminent literary figures. We’re all about intersections. We like things that meet, conjoin, dance, rebound, and explode. Bring two things together;

see

what

happens.

Among

our

favorite

intersections are pieces that resist genre classification.


Editorial Board Brendan Todt – Founder Benjamin Woodard – Editor in Chief | Social Media Extraordinaire Mahtem Shiferraw – Managing Editor | Cover Designer Liz Young – Poetry Editor Whitney Groves – Fiction Editor Donald Quist – Fiction Editor Sarah Seltzer – Creative Nonfiction Editor Emily Arnason Casey – Creative Nonfiction Editor

Readers: Sarah Braud, Sarah Kilch Gaffney, Glenda Hoheimer, BJ Hollars, Emily Madden, Tim Quirk, Jamilla Stone, DJ Todt and Ian Wallace.


Letter from the Editor

Within this new issue are stories, essays, and poems that linger in memory and overflow with emotion. I’m so proud of our staff for accepting these pieces, and I’m even prouder of each contributor for writing with such energy and strength. We are nothing without our featured authors, and I am constantly impressed with the fine work we so luckily get to publish. This is our last issue with Mahtem Shiferraw as our Managing Editor. She has been a guiding light for Atlas and Alice since the beginning, and she leaves behind a hole that will be hard to fill. We’ll do our best to honor all of the hard work she has given this magazine the past few years. See you in the winter, Benjamin Woodard Editor In Chief


Table of Contents Clio Velentza

Teeth

Michelle Vider

Me and Bradley Cooper and the

9

True Dimensions of a Love Triangle

13

Laura R. Becherer

Why Your Rapist Will Always Win

15

Cathy Ulrich

The Girls in the Yard

20

John Proctor

Meditating Underwater

25

Anita Durkin

The Heat

29

Sunisa Nardone

Golden Land

31

Amy JIrsa

The Last Glass

39

This is how

41

Sophie Nagelberg

The Hawk

43

Mark Rosenblum

Restoration

47

Reed Underwood

Fire: Broken Cameraman Blues

49

Earth: Warehouse (SWAT Team) Blues

51

Call for Submissions

52

Contributor Notes

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CLIO VELENTZA

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Teeth I found a set of teeth on the sidewalk and immediately thought of my goatfooted friend, a jewelry designer secluded in a basement that shook every half hour from the passing subway and the electric saws gnawing at the world tree. The teeth weren’t human and I thought they’d make a nice bracelet, warning the suitors who believed in the omophagy of love, ram-horned guys that had a fad of embalming the sliced hearts of girls like myself into key chains. I visited my friend and watched her nimble fingers molding the metal, while sweat ran between her naked breasts and onto the flowery duvet. Two years now she had never left her bed, so our meetings took place with me sitting on its foot and her leaning on the flannel pillows, oiling her atrophic hooves or braiding her graying hair. “Where did you find these?” She weighed the set of teeth and felt around one of the canines. It pricked her finger like a spindle. “Some elderly vrykolakas is going to be walking around toothless,” she chided me, taking her toolbox out of the nightstand. I followed her expert movements, too fluid to comprehend, her aquiline face immobile with concentration. How I’d admired her the first time I saw her that night, standing upright and magnificent like a bronze statue. We were at the opening of the Concert Hall, a building of such marvelous acoustics that the architect inevitably had to be buried alive in an elegant catacomb next to the coat check. It wasn’t long after that when she shut herself in her home, selling her products via mail. She only emerged during the mandatory Twelve Nights, grumbling about having to leave her bed “right when all that infernal sawing died down”. “You’ll always be single if you wear amulets like this,” she sighed over her busy pliers. “No thank you.” I shuddered at the thought of the yellow eyes following me around office hours. “They either want to eat me or bury me.” “Only if you’re unlucky.” “And if I am?” “Well, love always needs a drop of luck.” She shook her head. “How times change. They used to tell us never to hook up with humans.” “Why? Was it a don’t play with your food thing?” She laughed. Her fingers knitted on with dizzying speed. “Probably because you’re too fragile.” She snapped the copper wire with her teeth as if it were a piece of thread. “Never.” I bit my lip. “Never.” “You can’t live in fear.” “Easy for you to say. Your kind never gets the short end of the stick.” Her hands paused over the teeth. She spent a few moments looking down, contemplating her work. “Even we have something to lose.”

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I recalled the face of the grey-haired man at the Opera House, disappearing into darkness as the ushers sealed the entrance to the catacomb. He was calm, gazing at the crowd. My new friend was standing close, clutching her glass. Her vacant stare seemed an effect of boredom. The thud of the stone was deafening in the high-ceilinged foyer. There was a moment of silence, then the crowd applauded and the band carried on. That man, she later told me, was once her beloved. I put my hand on her own, stained with polish, and pressed it. “It’s a beautiful morning. Come outside with me.” She slid her hand away and fixed the finished bracelet around my wrist. The teeth tickled my skin, leaving behind inflamed lines like whip marks. “There. Now you have nothing to fear.”

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MICHELLE VIDER

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Me and Bradley Cooper and the True Dimensions of a Love Triangle A) ME AND BRADLEY COOPER (PRE-HANGOVER) There’s a quality like sweetness. It’s made of soft lighting, smiles, laughing with you but not at you. It grows in small spaces. Alias set scenes with Will Tippin in a too-small-for-tv apartment, a space where Jennifer Garner could hide from her premise and fate. Bradley Cooper waits with a slice of much-needed normalcy, charm that she brushes away with her hand to reveal a hunger for truth, a hunger that gets him killed. (Christ, OF COURSE that’s what hides beneath, as if normal-sized flaws could make a dent in her world of espionage.) B) ME AND BRADLEY COOPER (POST-HANGOVER) He’s hot but aggressive. You fear for your safety. That’s enough for you. Silver Linings Playbook frightens you. You can yell, but can you yell like Jennifer Lawrence? Will yelling keep you safe? C) BRADLEY COOPER AND OUR FUTURE Listen to me—this is the greatest missed opportunity of our lifetimes: BRADLEY COOPER AS LUCIFER IN JOHN MILTON’S PARADISE LOST Imagine Bradley Cooper as the universe’s ultimate charmer. His every coyote scheme fails to ruin God’s plans, yet he seduces humanity out of Eden and into the world. These big budget movies fall apart all the time, but a year later Bradley Cooper was still on it with GQ: “Milton, bro? Milton… That poem fucking killed me. Satan? That character was un-fucking-believable. I could taste him in my mouth, dude, reading that.” You love this douche. You love people who love things. You love people who moan how a poem put the taste of wounded, anarchic Satan in their handsome mouth and he couldn’t get enough. You love people whose ridiculous love leaves them helpless in the face of it. Love on, Bradley Cooper. Love Milton and Satan and Jennifer Garner and anything that hints at a normal heart.

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LAURA R. BECHERER

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Why Your Rapist Will Always Win Here’s what will happen after you’re raped: Most people think the worst part of rape is the rape, the fast and few bleak minutes after you say no when you are held prisoner by “drunk girls are asking for it” and a pair of arms too strong to push away. It’s not. The worst part is everything that will happen after. It will be the forty-five minutes of scrubbing viciously in the shower. It will be standing naked in your bathroom, probing your soreness and wondering if you even had sex, because your vaginismus makes it impossible for you to even have sex when you want to half the time; how could anyone have sex with you when you didn’t want to? It will be six years of feminist training screaming inside your head to override guilt and revulsion to convince you: “You were raped!” It will be huddling in your most comfortable clothes for hours watching Netflix until you call the boy you used to trust the most, ignoring your currently-fraught relationship because you have to talk about what happened and ask for validation. It will be not knowing whom to trust enough to burden with this horrible, dirty secret. It will be weathering a surprise call from your grandfather and having to pretend everything is okay long enough to make small talk. It will be lying in a scratchy hospital gown for three hours while one of your only indignant and understanding friends sits nearby, while you feel exposed and cumbersome to the unsympathetic nurse, watching a silent television panel of doctors, trying to guess what they’re saying about the trivial topic of dieting. It will be the stripping of the sheets on your bed, sheets that were once comforting and now feel dirty to your exposed skin, resisting the urge to burn them, instead replacing them with the softest sheets in the cleanest shade of blue that Target had to offer. It will be finding your rapist’s sock on your floor and spending five minutes working up the nerve to touch it long enough to throw it away. It will be calling your mother. It will be the five days of aching underneath your once-protective jeans, feeling a soreness that once—eons ago, now almost outside the realm of your memory—signified a night of rarely engaged-in pleasure. It will be clutching a black coffee in a cold and dark coffee shop, pretending to talk normally with that it’s-still-weird-between-us boy, while you wait for your doctor’s office to call back and explain the sudden and unexpected current flowing from between your legs. It will be waiting anxiously through your favorite class, pretending you care about the workshop when in reality you’re waiting to go home and take a pregnancy test. It will be wondering if the pooling blood soaking into your O.B. Super Plus tampon was once a life spark in your uterus, trying to reconcile relief that if you were pregnant, you wouldn’t have to decide whether or not to get an abortion, with an undercurrent of regret for what may have been a potential little you. It will be panic attacks in the shower. It will be the violation of your space, somehow worse than the violation of

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your body: how your small apartment changes from cozy to confusing, into an uneasy refuge with a soiled tinge to its air. It will be lounging against your new blue polka dotted pillows, recalling how the left side of your expansive bed once hugged the bodies of ones you loved and now only holds the shape of the one who fucked you mercilessly for a quarter of an hour before lounging there, untouching, until the next afternoon. It will be a cold numbness that settles sickeningly in your abdomen and bleeds away any sexual drive or desire to be touched that once may have lingered under your skin. It will be a tenseness when friends touch you and a revulsion when they touch your bed or joke about your body or your sexuality. It will be freezing and screaming when a man in a bar grabs your scarf to get your attention. It will be the anger. The uncontainable rage that you will feel, all the time, every day, that will feel like an explosion of thunder in the hollow under your throat that will make your palms tingle with electric energy that longs to strike something—preferably your rapist—and smash it beyond repair or recognition. It will be listening to M.I.A.’s “Paper Planes” and imaging every gunshot going straight into your rapist’s ugly face. It will be every rape joke that once passed unheard by your eardrums that now catches and cloys to you, inducing a burning wrath unmatched by anything you thought possible outside the world of fiction, threatening to consume you and the entire galaxy in the wake of your fury. It will be your desire to castrate and behead all those who smugly suggest that women who don’t want to be raped should follow stricter protocol. It will be your knowledge that you did “the right thing” by asking a supposed friend to walk you home that night, a friend who instead used his 6’2 frame to hold down your 5’3 slightness and tear through the resistance of your unresponsive yoni. It will be that burden of knowledge, an inside look into the world that blames women for their own subjection when you know better. It will be the shedding of guilt and responsibility and the act of speaking out against a world that won’t believe you when you say that rape is a rapist’s fault alone. It will be unresolved nights of too much whiskey and suicidal confessions. It will be losing most of your friends because they want to stay friends with your rapist, and they wonder why you can’t just “get over it” or “deal with it” in silence, to avoid making everyone else uncomfortable. It will be embarrassment and hiding and shame. It will be regret, and it will be uncertainty. It will be arguments over $1,300 hospital bills that victim relief funding won’t cover because the hospital talked you out of a forensic exam. It will be missed classes and forgotten meetings and spiraling into academic and personal failure. It will be a depression that cloaks you and drags you under and leaves you staring at the wall in your darkened bedroom, too tired to even take off your jeans so you can sleep. It will be waking up exhausted from rape nightmares that leave you unsettled and too terrified to fall back asleep. It will be gritted teeth and tensed muscles and tapping feet and shredding a tissue in your hands because you need to destroy something, but nothing is big enough to destroy to bring a sense of justice and you can’t destroy him, the only person you’ve ever hated. 16


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But mostly it will be this: It will be the night after Christmas break at home when you at last get dressed up and go out like you used to. You’ll wear a colorful shirt a little too thin for the weather outside. You’ll curl your hair and wear lip liner. You’ll put on your favorite perfume—Guerlain: your dad bought it for you when he was in France— and high heels and go out to dinner with a comfortable, nonthreatening, Safe Guy friend. The predictable, naive, innocent friend who has never made a sexually suggestive remark and would never even think to utter a rape joke or make a move on you. You’ll have dinner and a beer and linger at the bar for a while. The food won’t be good and the pub will be crowded with annoying and loud jocks, but you’ll still feel a mood change in being out again. You will feel a little more like yourself. After dinner you will propose going to your favorite bar, the one you used to frequent a few times a week. You will walk over there and run into your closest woman confidante in this circle of friends. You only see her when you’re out, so it’s been awhile. You’ll have a few more drinks from a pitcher and become lively and animated. You’ll flirt and joke and toss your hair and smoke too many cigarettes over too-excited conversations about mundane topics. But then your friend will say that she’s going to another bar for a while. She’ll invite you along, but you’ll decline because lately you only feel comfortable in very specific spaces. So you’ll stay where you are, and you’ll borrow Safe Guy’s phone to text drunken thoughts and secrets back and forth with your friend while she’s at the other bar. You’ll still joke and laugh and flirt with your present company. You’ll feel more like yourself than ever—you’ll feel included and wanted and pretty and freaking normal again. Then you’ll look up, straight into the corner booth, and you’ll see Him. Rapist. He’ll be right there, and you’ll wonder how he got past you without every sense in your body catching his presence and alerting your brain with a flight-orflight response. You’ll wonder why the air isn’t suddenly cold, why people aren’t fleeing in terror or turning to face the enemy to pummel him into the cracked and dusty wooden floor. Your first response will be to tense, to scrunch into your seat and try to hide. Your face will turn to stone, your fingers to ice, and your heart will beat like it can’t get the blood through your veins fast enough. You will text your friend: “HE is here. Kill me now.” What will seem like one and a half seconds later, the door will crash open and she’ll storm inside. “Where is he?” she’ll demand. “Where is he? I’m going to fucking kill him, I swear to God. I’ll cut off his dick, sauté it, give it to him as a last meal, and then I’m going to execute that bastard. How dare he show his face in front of you? Look at him. How dare he stand there and laugh and flirt like he’s not the most disgusting person on this planet?” Safe Guy will look shocked. Your friend will stand in front of you, creating a protective and sheltered corner for you to snuggle into. Her continuous anger will envelop you in warm comfort, like covering up with a warm blanket fresh from the dryer or listening to 17


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a bedtime story from your mother. She’ll screen you so you don’t have to see him; she’ll be a crackling barrier of safety that not even Rapist would be able to break through. And you’ll laugh like she wants you to because she wants to cheer you, and it will work. And you’ll also want to cry, because you’re so relieved that at least someone can channel and express the anger that most people find vile and unwarranted. And you’ll love her so much in that moment, and be so happy that she’s there. But you’ll also feel him. Even hidden, even protected, you’ll still feel the him-ness of him staining the air around you. Your space will, once again, be compromised because he’s in it. You’ll still hear his laughter and snatches of his voice (and this is the worst; it always reminds you of the words he whispered while he raped you. Fuck, Laura, fuck yeah, shit, it feels so good). Safe Guy to your left will ponder a woman friend who is fond of Rapist and wonder aloud what you and he should do to protect her (answer: nothing. You’re tired of people insisting you crusade to save the entire female population from Your Rapist). Your friend will continue her ire. And now you’re right back to where you were—you were becoming yourself, but now you’re thrown right back to the beginning. Dirty socks and dirty sheets and dirty fucking and showers that can’t wash any of the dirt away. Aching vagina, sore labia that makes you never want to fuck again. Once again, your fun and your friends and your night and your conversation were invaded by him. The air is too close, and his aura seeps into everything and you can’t hide. You’re a hunted animal, a child who hides in the closet from monsters but is found anyway, a refugee who is dragged back to the hellhole she ran from in the first place. Your space is dirty again. Dirty with the fucking that wasn’t even fucking, it was robbery, a murder, a bloody, fucking filthy violation. He’s won the game of rape culture and male privilege, and he’s proven again, like everyone always proves, that you don’t own you, that men own you, that society owns you—he’s won it for him and every straight cis-dude out there. Like always, always, always. It will always be that way. Your rapist will always fucking win.

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CATHY ULRICH

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The Girls in the Yard There are ten children in the Hansen family, and only one of them is a girl. You were never friends. She hasn’t come home since she left for college a couple of years ago. When are you coming to visit? her brothers say, and she says Next summer, for sure. The Hansen brothers have always brought girls over at night, to sit round the fire pit in the back yard, to sigh over the one playing the guitar, to kiss at the gate by the alley. No one is ever allowed inside the house, and the Hansen brothers have killed a portion of the hedge where they relieve themselves, so there is a bare spot between their yard and the neighbors’. And the girls they’ve brought over sit in the grass, bladders nearly bursting, sipping on pilfered cans of beer. You’ve been kissed by all the Hansen brothers, even the oldest one, who’s recently gone and gotten himself married to a rodent-faced girl who wants to have a dozen babies. I could just be pregnant forever, she says. All the Hansen brothers have red hair and freckles. Jeffrey has a freckle right at the corner of his mouth, and Jonathan has twelve across the bridge of his nose, and Jericho, the youngest, hasn’t got any, except on his left shoulder that he let you play the connect-the-dots with, and left him with pen marks that stayed for a week. Why do you always carry a pen? he asked when he took you over to the alley gate. You said because I just do, and when he kissed you then, you thought he had the softest mouth, probably, of all the Hansen brothers. You’re the girl that’s always coming over to the Hansen house. Your parents don’t mind so much, just don’t go getting pregnant, they say. They breed like rabbits over there. The Hansen children have parents too, though nobody has ever met them, and their existence is only hinted at by the soft glow of the television set, flickering through the window as you sit in the grass with the other girls. You’re the one that’s always there, and you think it makes you special, but it doesn’t. At the end of the night, you’re sent off with the rest of the girls, and it’s only the Hansen brothers going through the back door, and into the warmth of their home. When you turn and look back, the door has clicked closed before you can see inside and, after a moment, the light from the television set goes out.

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JOHN PROCTOR

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Meditating Underwater At 8:00 this morning, I am on a dock in Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina, crabbing with my daughter and my nephew. The same time in Kansas, my mother is beginning back fusion surgery. At 2:00 p.m., I’ll call my stepfather to check up, and tell him to call me when the surgery is over. “I have a long list of people to call,” he’ll say. I won’t be able to blame him. When he married my mother, she was a thirty-five-year-old woman who looked twenty-five; now she’s fifty-five and looks sixty-five. My mother, when she was getting to know my wife, said my greatest betrayal of her came in the line at Taco John’s when I was four years old. She’d told me I could only have one taco, but I wanted two. So I kicked her in the shin. She says it was the only time I’ve ever tried to hurt her. But she’s wrong. She never brings up the time when I was sixteen and she was divorcing her abusive husband of eleven years, and had just taken a second job as a housekeeper. I was first meeting the man who’d gotten her pregnant when they were eighteen, then left her for prison. We were sitting in the car in line at a bank drive-through, and she asked me what he was doing now. I told her he owned a furniture store. “When I grow up,” she said sarcastically, “I want to work in a furniture store.” “When I grow up,” I replied, looking out the window and sulking, “I want to clean other people’s houses.” Last night my mother called me to apologize. In our conversation the night before, she’d told me that when her surgeon asked if her children would be at the surgery she joked, “Two will. The other one decided to go on vacation.” By 11:00 this morning, I’m on the beach outside Corolla with my wife’s family. The previous evening, before my mother called, I was fishing in the surf when I noticed a funnel to the south connecting the sea and the sky. From at least twenty miles away, it was one of the most crushingly beautiful things I’d ever seen. This morning my father-in-law, who has an answer for everything, many of them correct, told me he’d noticed clouds stacking over the Albemarle Sound since we’d arrived Sunday. They always seemed to break up and dissipate by the time they reached the more coastal beaches of Duck and Corolla. A commercial crabber I know who works the Albemarle has texted me pictures of these funnels—he calls them waterspouts—that sometimes roar up near his boat while he’s doing his morning rounds. Wikipedia says, “They normally develop in moisture-laden environments as their parent clouds are in the process of development.” He says they are caused whenever a major sea change occurs and the water temperatures either rise or drop drastically. He agrees that they’re both crushing and beautiful. My mother’s body, between the hours of 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. today, is undergoing a drastic and permanent sea change. Every major organ in her body is being removed and set on a table as a team of doctors inserts screws

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and cement into her spinal column in order to correct her rapidly advancing late-onset scoliosis. “The doctor sounds more like a mechanic than a surgeon,” my stepfather chuckles. From half a country away, at a beach house with a family most of whom my mother hasn’t met, I try to gather the strands together and make something meaningful, even beautiful, out of the destruction of her body. This is perhaps my greatest betrayal of my mother. Before we left Brooklyn for North Carolina, my wife said to me, “You know she’s being unreasonable, right? She’s put off this surgery for years, and now she arranges it for a day she knows you’ll be away, and expects you to drop everything with your family here. This is a power play.” I agreed with her. I agree with her. At 3:30 p.m. I sit typing with our newborn baby in my lap and our threeyear-old daughter napping in bed beside me, and I don’t want to be in a hospital with my stepfather who can’t wait to finish up and fly back to Pennsylvania, my sister who steals our mother’s painkillers so routinely that our mother now keeps them in a safe when she visits, and my Jehovah’s Witness brother who won’t even admit her life is in danger because he doesn’t believe in death. But I want to be sitting at the dinner table with them, twenty years ago, when I was a college junior home for the summer, right before I broke up a perfectly pleasant conversation about whatever it was we were talking about to tell them all that I wouldn’t be going to church with them the next morning because I no longer believed in a loving god—before my stepfather told me I had no respect for him or my mother, before my thirteen-year-old sister asked me who would sit with her in the pew now, before my mother looked into her lap silently. I want to tell them all I’m sorry—sorry that I am who I am and they are who they are, sorry I’m leaving them, I’ve already left them actually, and I can’t come home again. I want, more than anything, to tell them I love them. I love them all—my mother, my sister, my brother, my daughters, my wife, even my stepdad. And I’ve never felt so alone. During these ten hours and for this entire week, I’ve been and will be hyperaware of my wife’s family’s happiness. My wife loves me intensely, more intensely than I can sometimes bear, and constantly shows me off to them. My nephews called me Uncle John before I even married their aunt. My father-inlaw is CEO of a major corporation, probably the only person with that distinction that I both know and like. My mother-in-law donates to the arts and always wants to read my work, even the piece I wrote about my brother J.P. who hung himself by a bed sheet thirteen years ago. “You never told me about that,” she said after reading it, seeming a little put out that I was keeping something like that from her. But she didn’t ask any further. The entire family rents a beach house on the Outer Banks for the first week of every August, where they all sit in the beach and read while the children play in the surf, and eat lunch and dinner together at a big table. I tell them funny stories and they chuckle, and they tell me how great a father I am. My father, the one I didn’t know until I was sixteen, called me last week 26


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when I was driving home from fishing on Sheepshead Bay. He said he was sorry he hadn’t called in a few weeks, but he just couldn’t shake this black cloud of depression. He can’t stop thinking lately about J.P. I was surprised to hear him say this. Unlike my mother, he’s uncomfortable talking about being depressed. I too am uncomfortable talking about being depressed, or scared, or hollow inside like my mother is on a metal table somewhere in Kansas. I don’t tell people that I frequently hate myself, then hate myself even more because, all considered, I have a pretty great life. Like my father, I smile. I do things. I’m calm. I invite people to talk about themselves, and I answer quickly and jovially when they ask the same of me. Most of the people sharing this beach house with me—cousins, aunts, uncles, my blissfully unaware daughters—don’t even know my mother is having surgery, or that I’m secretly terrified that she’ll die today, with me half a country away at a beach house with a bunch of people she doesn’t even know. “Look!” my nephew says on the beach at 5:00, letting a wave crash over him while holding his hands as if in prayer. “I’m meditating underwater!” I’m tempted to infer more from this than he probably intended, but after a few seconds I just want him to come up. I look at the shore, and my daughter is sitting next to her cousin, the two little girls letting the foam wash over them and giggling. My wife walks back from the house with the baby in a sling and two Coronas in her hand. My first impulse is to make a joke about Coronas and the beach, but instead I just grab it and take a long, hard, smiling drink. I want to be part of this family. I am part of this family. At 6:00 p.m. I don’t call my sister. I don’t call my brother. I won’t hear about my mother’s condition until hours later, presumably after my stepfather has gone through his long list of whoever he has to call before me. People are gathering for dinner upstairs, and I’m sitting alone on the bed. My stepfather and sister will exchange words as soon as my mother emerges from her anesthesia. I won’t know what they are, but I’ll know from my stepfather that her first words will be, “Stop fighting.” At this moment, I won’t want to fight, or to eat dinner. I’ll just want my mother, whose first task will be learning how to walk again.

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ANITA DURKIN

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The Heat All the children wilted, limp across porches, Balled up heaps of laundry flung Down the basement stairs, or birds whose hearts Outpaced their bodies and dropped. Enough. The handyman’s wrench around The hydrant turned, and how straight they sat When his bald head bent the current, how They flinched at the mist dispersed from his Translucent crown, And how, once moved, they moved at once, Little ones in diapers pleased to stomp The gathered puddles, older sisters dared To race their older brothers through The spray that did not hurt like fire Hoses, that pumped the space between Their collarbones with gulps of air— So much, so drenched, they might float off, Or else they’d stay until the itch Of mosquitoes pushed them back indoors, Or police, patrolling, did.

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SUNISA NARDONE

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Golden Land She couldn’t know anything about the Southern Hemisphere, dressed as she is. The feeling struggles in me, that flutter of judgment and shame, seeing my countrywoman dressed so—. A foreigner would no doubt mistake her for young and foolish but as a Thai woman myself I can tell that this long-limbed girl is actually in her late 30s, just about my age. Up-cut shorts showing a crescent of ass flesh befits no respectable lady. And here we are at the gate for Thai Airways to fly us to Melbourne in June, hot season in Bangkok but the beginning of real winter Down Under. We sit in Suvarnabhumi Airport. It means golden land, but that idea is a mirage. When my family came to Thailand from China we scraped money together to buy a small plot so my sister could go to university from within the city. When they announced the new airport site so near us, my family thought: good fortune! Then we waited twenty-nine years for construction to start. The money the country poured into the airport lined the pockets of politicians, from local to municipal to national level. During construction copper wiring was stripped from electrical lines and sold at the thieves’ market. Two thousand luggage trolleys were stolen, melted for scrap metal. There is nothing golden about this airport; it’s just corruption, delay. Each terminal is built like the extended wings of a prehistoric creature, a pterodactyl: tessellating glass with slender metal beams framing slivers of light. Palm trees peer through the gloom of the smog that wraps around my native land like a safety cloak. Bangkok in my day was not this way at all. I mean modern. When I return to visit my mother and sister still living behind their orange-painted gates, the new webs of transportation, the ever-descending chill of air-conditioned interiors—they baffle me. This woman has pimples of goose flesh running up her thighs. I know to wrap myself in a shawl in Suvarnabhumi. But the meat of her holds together, tight and toned. She must work for a living. Something physical. She pulls her metal chair closer so her knees almost touch mine, which is embarrassingly endearing, like a child, the way she leans in and over. She says in halting, stuttering English: “Are you going to Australia?” My, but her accent is terrible. Aus-tay-leeee-a she says slowly, the way Thai people say it, with that strange lilt. She mouths the word carefully—must not say it much. “Yes,” I say, and because I can’t help myself: “Do you know it is winter in Melbourne? Are you going there?” I’ve spoken in English to maintain our difference. But I have gone too fast for her. I slow down, say it again. “Winter… in Melbourne…” and when I wrap my arms around my body and shiver, she understands. She pours her trust into me

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like a child, so desperate. “You help me?” she asks in English, not knowing that we are both Thai. She can’t tell because I am dressed too casually. I pass for the Westernized breed of Asians who have forgotten the clothing formalities of our continent. In Melbourne I’m the only Thai in my neighborhood, but I go to church with the Malaysians who emigrated to give their children less strict schools than Singapore and the chance to progress outside the racial work quotas of Malaysia. Oh yes, I’ve converted, too. I can feel the other Thais repelled by our talk. They won’t socialize with her, not the way her frayed jean shorts and white tank top creep up the curves of her body. I am trying to be a better person, a not-so-judgmental person like my church talks about. But why would she leave her country behind? I wonder, but can’t ask, because isn’t it what I did? She says she’s from the South, beach country. If I could hear her speak Thai I could confirm a suspicion: she doesn’t speak Central Thai. I bet she only has the Southern dialect. But I hold back. She wonders how I learned English so good. I tell her I went to school. I let her assume it was a regimented Singaporean operation, not the deficient Bangkok public school supplemented by heavy textbooks where I taught myself computer programming. My father gambled our small home into debt before he died of some malaise brought on by alcoholism. The other siblings couldn’t afford to help. Lek still lives with Mother. She does help, but has only a journalist’s pay, so when I got the chance to move, I had to, for the salary that stayed my family’s descent. My first port was Sydney’s budding technology industry; my second, Melbourne, where the better food and higher percentage of Asians suits me favorably. She runs a restaurant on a beach in Samui. “What do they eat there?” she asks. I talk about the slow-cooking sizzle of a Sunday roast, a hunk of meat dripping in the oven. Wandering home from church—I can take my time, with no carload of family to ferry—I smell that charred scent. The picture windows of houses as I pass reveal people coming together inside. They make it look natural, a beer exchanged with the handshake, the ease of native-born. Pretending to examine the fine red spray of a bottlebrush bloom, I’ll dwell a moment, peer in. Once, a child demonstrated its first steps across the gleam of a hardwood floor and I almost clapped out loud. When I glanced to my left a gala bird, its placid grey cut with that flash of pink, was perched on a low branch looking in with me. Having company, I experienced relief. But I don’t tell the woman that. With some pride she says she met a man on her beach, an Australian, who came to eat at her restaurant every day. This woman doesn’t look like a typical mae kah, the female shop owners who are plump and shrill-voiced like older birds of established nests. I cannot 32


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quite imagine oil-flecked arm fat jingling over burners in a back kitchen smelling of grease. That she would attract someone—sure. She is a goddess in the way that foreign men like. I can’t help but be drawn to her tale. “Did you talk to him? Get to know him?” My fingers are sorting through the contents of my purse. I find a shawl, a red one, and lean toward her. It is ridiculous to bare that much flesh. I drape it across her shoulders and feel her skin: dewy, soft. She looks much better with it. He talked to her, approaching her with what Thai he had, which meant they talked in food. This is the way to speak anyway, like have you eaten yet, the question a marker of affection. She doesn’t let up in her effort to communicate with me. It involves many gestures. We bungle on in English. I am torn between the need to break off our conversation because I should not associate with her, but my fascination, also protectiveness, have taken over. My feeling toward her softens. She is trying so hard with these clothes. Look how she speaks, how she holds herself. I am reckless with desire to care for someone. “What’s it like in Mel-buhn?” She pronounces the name correctly. Maybe this Australian exists after all. At first I found my new city alien with its lack of street food stalls. Where do people go to eat? And too quiet, the roads and alleys wide, terribly uninhabited. Then my rhythms changed and I too expected tranquil evenings and public parks, clean streets because people scoop up the bowel movements of their dogs. The woman laughs when I tell her that Aussies have outlawed soi dogs, those street pets of communal ownership, and that people take their dogs into their homes— “On their furniture? In their beds?” “Yes! And when their dogs do a poop—“ I give a dirty mime here, and we both laugh— “People stoop to pick up the excrement of their pets.” “Unbelievable.” On board the plane the familiar hum of engines and that starched antiseptic smell. I unfurl my magazine to arm myself for solitude once again, but she bops and nods, smiles and nudges so she can swap seats with someone to sit next to me, and a feeling swells. This must be my reward for Christian charity. The Australian was on Samui Island for two whole months. He came every day to the restaurant. Seeing her fumble with the wide straps of the seatbelt I show her how to do it. A primped-up flight attendant in a tight Thai Airways suit slides by. “Is this your first flight?” she asks in Thai, the words kind, the tone clipped. “Yes,” says the woman sitting next to me in her meager clothing. I expect her to clutch the shawl tighter around herself, but she doesn’t have the propriety of city folks, I guess, and her long limbs and golden arms spill over the chair. “I took the bus from Samui to Bangkok,” she adds as if that’s helpful. 33


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I was right; she does not speak Central Thai. She must not have much formal education, to employ only the regional dialect when speaking in Bangkok. The steward nods, her lip curled in a smirk. She walks away to return with an airsick bag and explain how to use it. “But I’ve got the stomach of a sea-sailing person!” The woman waves the steward away. “I admire your…” I slip right into Thai as if continuing the conversation. Heat rises on my cheeks. “Oh you’re Thai now!” the woman laughs. “Why didn’t you say? Yes, you’ve got to let their attitude bounce right off you. Those high class folk take themselves so seriously. ” She’s forgiven me already. I admire her ease: the needlessness to hide who you are; the certainty that strangers will help you; the trust that a foreign person can import you to his country like some exotic fruit and it will work out. Now that we can converse in Thai the full story spills out of her. She has a one-way ticket, she explains. The Australian got her visa approved. He is retired. They are trying things out. I am impressed because it is hard to get Thais visas. We are classed as part of the world that will overstay and emigrate. I myself was only just granted permanent residency this year. I show her how to press the buttons for a movie, but there aren’t any soap operas on offer, so she curls up to sleep instead, her legs twisted together against the thrum of rushing air. When the scarf slips I nip it back between her slumped chin and shoulder. She is covered almost completely by the wash of red. It will be about ten degrees Celsius when we land. I mentally rummage through my luggage and am pleased to remember that I packed sweatpants close to the top of my suitcase. A feeling resurrects itself in me, some prehistoric creature opening to an extended wingspan. I find myself breathing easier, watching this woman sleep. She is quite beautiful in repose. I could not entertain the possibility of children. They would have required a keen interest by the opposite sex that I was not able to attract. To secure scholarships to good schools I had to vault over boys from grade school through college. This was most unseemly. By the time my flabby body and sharpened mind made it to Australia, all my intellect went to the bureaucracy of visa forms, with no light-heartedness left to “catch an insect with my sweet nectar.” Mother calls it that. Lek had the charm in the family, but her nectar died on the blossom when her boy was killed in Black October. Still, Mother is forever telling me to practice alluring men, an art form that doesn’t fit with my regimented, cut glass and cool metal mind. In Melbourne the day is saggy and grey through the double-layer of the airplane window. I put my hand on the glass. Even with an air buffer it sends a chill. She leans over my shoulder, peering out at a stone-colored sky, tall white people waving the plane forward on the tarmac with flashing batons. She puts 34


Atlas & Alice | Issue 4, Summer/Fall 2015

her hand on the window next to mine. Her fingers are long and tapered; mine, short and fat. She spreads her palm, lifts it gently, hovers it over mine like a safe blanket. “They don’t have the monsoon here, do they?” She murmurs as we wait for our bags. I try to explain the dry heat that shimmers a haze over black roads, the way even her tropical skin will pucker and burn when the summer comes. She shakes her head, disbelieving. I make her promise to wear a hat. By the time we emerge from luggage check to the waiting room she is in my tracksuit pants, which gather at her rounded calves. She wears my good wool sweater and the red scarf. I want to clothe her further but I have nothing else to put on her. She is a transformed woman: casual, respectable, outfitted against the elements. I am proud to walk slightly behind her. She has an elegant gait. I have promised to wait until the man has found her. Do I envy the fly she’s caught with her nectar? She searches each face as we step past. There is another Aussie bundled up, another person that is not him. Maybe he will not show up, this man who promised her much. “You want to know why I’m here? Why I left Samui?” Finally she offers. I nod. “My son—” she laughs at my surprise. “He’s 23!” Laughs again. “Love from my teenage love,” she explains, and I nod like I, too, have that experience. I am quite in awe of this unexpected dimension. “My son is too sabai sabai, the way his father was,” she says, “trusting that everything will work out. He gambled debts up and I let him use the restaurant as collateral.” I wasn’t even attached to our home, but I couldn’t turn my family out when the bank threatened to seize it. So I guaranteed the debt, packed my suitcase, and left for Australian dollars and remittances home. Now I see the puckered marks dotting her hands, kisses of hot oil. I want to tell her I have those same scars. “So I need to do something new.” She shrugs, glances sideways at me, scared to see into my eyes. “Maybe I’ll open a restaurant here.” “Do you know if he’s rich, your Australian?” “All farangs are rich,” she says like I should know better. “Things are expensive here,” I try. She gives a snort of dismissal. Just like her son she is too easygoing, too sabai sabai. Women who don’t win scholarships to good schools may have more fragrant nectar to catch men, but they also trap themselves with their optimism. “You’re right,” I give in, “it’s a wealthy country, and with your good cooking how can you not build a restaurant up. Maybe you can bring your son over.” I peer at my companion. My envy is replaced by this gap of opportunity. I 35


Atlas & Alice | Issue 4, Summer/Fall 2015

could bring her home. I have some money saved up, a diligent accrual carved around the space of necessary expenses. We could live together for the duration of her visa. I’d help her get a job in a restaurant. The twenty-minute walk from the train station to my house is lit by the vision of someone inside, cooking with the basil and lemongrass plants I have installed in my garden. I could relinquish my habit of gazing through the front windows of other houses, watching their rituals of communion. Would she join my church? I don’t want to do this walking. The suspense is too much. “Do you want a coffee? Farang style cappuccino?” I ask, so I can put my plan to her. I pivot toward the café, but we’ve gone barely a step forward before I feel a tug on my arm. Turning, there she is and there she has her hand on the elbow of a man. He walks with a cane! Hunched in a way that his skin droops forward. No wonder the Australian did what he could to get a companion like her. She is athletic next to him, a glowing goddess. She didn’t even have his phone number. She put my address on her immigration arrival form, and now I am to relinquish her to… him? In my most haughty English I inform him that I need his number, that I will be calling every week to check on her. He jumps to scribble his details for me, asking her in English if I am a Thai friend. She giggles, catching my eye, but I can see she doesn’t understand. “How do you know Tip,” he asks me. “It’s faster if we—” he bounces a finger speckled with spots between the two of us “—communicate.” “Tip?” I say. His eyes widen when he realizes I don’t know her name. “We met at—” I begin, then stop. We met at Suvarnabhumi. We met because of the air conditioning units and the cold metal seats. We met because of one red scarf, her lack of a Central Thai accent, a shared duty to family. “Take care of yourself,” Tip whispers, using a form of endearment presumptive for the short time we have spent together, but. I have nothing to reply. He slips a large coat over her shoulders. She turns and walks with him toward the revolving doors that keep the cold air out. He leans on her, moving as fast as he can manage. They are two sticks, one gaunt and wavering, the other a tight mass of flesh and strength. He trails her slim bag from one shaky wrist. Cars stop for them outside the terminal. My scarf unwinds in the wind and falls to the road. I stretch out a hand. “Hey! Tip!” The glass doors part. Wind smacks my chest. The sticks shuffle forward. “Hey!” A red gash on the road. They tumble into a cab and close the door. She doesn’t glance back. My feeling folds its wings and tucks tail. 36


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In English they would say the pair are a May and December relationship— is that right? Him doddering through old age, she in a prime of some season. In Thai we would call them a golden land; we believe that such a woman is suited to service an older man in the last years of his life. But maybe Melbourne will be too cold, too dry, too clean for her without someone to translate her native culture. Will she tire of his beaky bones, his sacks of skin that jiggle when she scrubs him in the bath? When the mirage fades, what will she do? I hope she knows to look for me.

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AMY JIRSA

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The Last Glass It’s strange when, alone for the first time in fourteen years, you break a glass and realize there’s no one left to warn.

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This is how you become a ghost. Repeat yourself. Stand in the corner of your childhood bedroom. Wish so hard for someone to take care of you that the small haunt of a child, stowed beneath a quilt too heavy for the season, can no longer bring herself to look in that corner or to notice how that section of wallpaper refuses to fade, refuses to give up its only color.

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SOPHIE NAGELBERG

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The Hawk A hawk stole the mitted kitten from the backyard. From the bottom of the deck, my five-year-old screamed bloody murder at the sky. I worried the neighbors would think I was taking a switch to her legs, so I told her to hush; the damage was done. But it wasn’t done—we just couldn’t save it. The bird perched itself on a pine branch and picked the cat apart in front of us. A hooked beak like a hammer. I shielded the sun from my eyes and cursed beneath my breath. No man wants to be outsmarted by a bird. When the hawk tired of hearing my girl’s cries, now elongated and liquid, it cradled the meal in its talons and flapped its spotted wings. It flew further up the tree, only this time, it didn’t get the right grip. The talons failed to sink into flesh, and the kitten, torn open and bloodied, came pummeling to the ground. The eyes were open blue and the intestines spilled from the belly. I scooped it up and felt its warmth. The nose, still cold and pink. I let my girl stroke its head while I folded the intestines back into the flesh, the wet fur. We buried the cat under a tupelo tree while the hawk circled the sky. Days later, my wife called me out of the toolshed. I knew something was wrong because this is where I went to be alone. She said a hawk was caught in the wire that helped the tomatoes stand upright. Sure enough, the same hawk that killed my girl’s cat was thrashing around in the garden, its claws stuck in the mesh, and I thought I’d do it justice. I went back to the shed for my rifle. Beneath the Carolina sun, I stood over the bird and felt the trigger under my finger. Are you ready to die, I asked it. The hawk panicked, flapping and flailing. The feathers on its head puffed up, the body like an overinflated football. It let out a screeching cry. My daughter banged her fists against the window. No, Daddy, no. The tears streamed from her face, mucus against the glass. I knew I couldn’t kill it in front of her. She’d been through enough. Instead, I went back to the shed for wire cutters and I knelt down next to the tomatoes. As I cut, the hawk eased up. It laid back and spread its wings against the dirt like a woman sunbathing in the backyard. It watched, with piercing brown eyes, as I freed its feet. When I was done, the bird stood, cocked its head at me. It rested for a moment, then took off. It circled back to thank me.

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MARK ROSENBLUM

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Restoration The nightmare after your mother died: I opened the bedroom door and observed a chasm cut into aged wooden floorboards. Just beyond the void, you shuffled toward me. Your doll swung from the tiny fingers of your left hand while you wiped sleep from your eyes with your right. Your bare feet inched closer to the abyss. I yelled for you not to move, but my words tumbled into black silence. You advanced, oblivious to the fracture in the floor. I watched as you vanished into darkness. The dream after your mother died: You and I danced in the kitchen to unheard music. You laughed at my out-of-date moves as you locked and popped like a Hip Hop star. We raced each other up the stairs to the second floor. You placed your bare feet on top of mine, our legs choreographed in a mirrored performance. We danced from one end of the hallway to the other. Our combined strides compelled the joists below our feet to unite and mend the fracture in the floor.

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REED UNDERWOOD

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Note from the author: “These pieces are part of a series composed via a randomized process using three ten-sided dice and a list of nine-hundred and ninety-nine words and phrases taken from Google News searches about the city of Guangzhou.”

Fire: Broken Cameraman Blues They found the Cameraman at the bottom of an elevator shaft inside of an abandoned Yuexiu skyscraper. Both lenses shattered and microphone snapped off. He’d been missing from the Broadcast’s equipment room for thirty-three hours. Already a memorial was set up inside his recharge alcove, even before the authorities found his wrecked body.

“I know we’re not supposed to think of them this way, but he was so helpful and obedient, it was hard not to think of him as more of a partner than a piece of equipment,” said Ha Chang, Maintenance Officer at the Broadcast. Authorities said that nothing could be restored from the hard drive unit embedded near the Cameraman’s kidney. But with the assistance of a team of 49


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top data engineers and thantohypnotists they were able to recover the following: A 6 sec. clip of two Collie breed dogs running through a grass field. Their long, anteater faces are expressionless and their puffball manes seem to glow with the low evening light behind. A 21 sec. clip of a half-hemispherical glass wall sconce coming on and off in three-second intervals. A 13 sec. clip showing a woman’s pubic region, with the frame centered on her inverted triangle of black hair. Only a slight cant of her hips at 10 sec. demonstrates that this is not a still image. A 143 sec. clip taken from the front of a locomotive passing through what is, Authorities assure us, Southern India. A 7 sec. clip tracking left to right over a piece of houndstooth fabric. A 17 min. clip that begins with a pile of ashes on concrete, which gather into a coherent shape which sprouts a few spots of smoldering fireflame which grow and lick across what is more and more obviously a sparrow and grease is sucked back into its body, which grows feathers and gains color as the flames roil over it and soon even the fire is absorbed into the bird’s frame and the bird flies away offscreen, not backward but forward. Further analysis will be necessary to rule out the possibility that this last clip was digitally or optically altered.

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Earth: Warehouse (SWAT Team) Blues It was the ruined warehouse where they’d last seen him and it looked like a metal elephant skull. Yan and Usama took sniper positions on adjacent rooftops while I led the rest of the squad inside. Pigeon wings fluttered like blown away papers and the sun came yellow through the filthy skylights. We skirted these pools of unclean luster until we came to two steel blast doors. Johnny Trang set the C4 and when it blew we went through and found

an old white man in old fashioned clothes with a half naked woman tied to a post. “Gentlemen!” he cried, and I realized that he had the same face as the guy we were looking for but I thought that guy was Burmese. “I never thought you’d make it. Allow me to demonstrate the latest and greatest treatment for spinal curvature.” He felt the woman’s back until he found a knob and opened a small door. He did the same on the other side of her spine. A putrid smell issued forth. We could see her lungs behind her ribs, filling and emptying slow and even, as if nothing was out of the ordinary. “Please, come up, get a better look,” he said, beckoning us forward with his right hand. Trang and Li tried to hold me back, but I pushed their arms away. I walked up to the woman’s spine, and peered inside the little rooms the doors disclosed. In the right one, in her right lung, an alligator was floating to the bottom. And on the left, in her left lung, was our suspect, a huge exit hole disfiguring his face, signs of decay already marking the wound, yet alive, somehow alive.

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Call for Submissions ______________________________________________ We’re

always

looking

for

writing that spans genres, that demands to be read, that might be considered the black sheep of a family. Art and science thrill us, but so does the simple image of a man standing at a crossroads. Surprise us. Thrill us. Make us laugh and cry and cringe. Tell us your thoughts. We can’t wait to hear from you! For submission guidelines, please visit http://atlasandalice.com/submit/

Note: Cover design by Mahtem Shiferraw for Atlas & Alice. All images courtesy of morgueFile, except those appearing in Reed Underwood’s pieces. Those photos, under public domain, are courtesy of the author.

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Contributor Notes ______________________________________________ Laura R. Becherer is a creative writing student pursuing her MFA at the University of Glasgow. She holds a master’s degree in creative writing and a bachelor’s degree in English Literature and German. Laura’s collaborative work in promoting an inclusive language policy at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire has been published in the literary magazine Feminist Teacher, and she recently presented a gothic feminist retelling of “Snow White” at a gothic horror literary exhibition. Laura writes primarily feminist fiction that focuses on fairy tales and mythology. She lives in Glasgow, Scotland. Anita Durkin is a poet and scholar. Her creative work has appeared in The Wallace Stevens Journal and The Fairfield Review. She enjoys teaching, singing, and coffee. Amy Jirsa is a wandering gypsy of a yoga teacher-herbalist-poet. Her book, Herbal Goddess, was recently released by Storey Publishing. Sophie Nagelberg is a graduate student and teacher at Columbia College Chicago. She plays in the band Astrobrite and has a pointer rescue dog called Huckleberry. Sunisa Nardone lives in the Bay Area, where she is working on a novel set in Thailand, her home country. She tweets @sunisasn and loves to talk books. John Proctor lives in Brooklyn, New York with his wife, two daughters, and Chihuahua. His work has been published recently in The Weeklings, Essay Daily, The Normal School, and The Austin Review, and is forthcoming in an international anthology of microfiction. He serves as Online Editor for Hunger Mountain Journal of the Arts and Dad for All Seasons columnist for the blog A Child Grows in Brooklyn. You can find him online at NotThatJohnProctor.com. Mark Rosenblum is a New York native who now lives in Southern California where he misses the taste of real pizza and good deli food. He attempts not to drive his wife crazy, but tends to fail miserably. His eclectic ramblings appear in Monkeybicycle, Penduline, Vine Leaves, Pure Slush, The Emerge Literary Journal, The EEEL, The Raleigh Review, Maudlin House, and Crab Fat. Cathy Ulrich carries three pens with her wherever she goes, and one pencil. Her work has recently been published in Maudlin House, Cheap Pop and Cleaver Magazine. Reed Underwood has been published in Matter journal. He lives in Denver. Clio Velentza lives behind several stacks of books somewhere in Athens, Greece. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in several journals including Gravel, Maudlin House, Literary Orphans, Hermeneutic Chaos, The Fable Online and WhiskeyPaper. Find her at @clio_v. Michelle Vider is a writer based in Philadelphia. Her work has appeared/is forthcoming in The Toast, Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet, Baldhip Magazine, and Pop Mythology. Find her at michellevider.com.

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