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Avant a literary magazine


Volume 54 Issue 2

A V A N T

A

vant is published biannually by the undergraduate students of Rowan University and exclusively features undergraduate work. Meetings are held every Thursday at 5 p.m. in the Publication Suite, room 220 of the Mark M. Chamberlain Student Center. Submissions are reviewed anonymously and voted upon during weekly meetings. To be considered for publication, students should submit their poetry, short stories, creative nonfiction, photography, or scanned artwork to avantzine@gmail.com as an attachment, along with the title of the work and contact information. Avant is printed by Square One Printing in Mount Laurel, N.J.

All material is copyrighted, Avant 2012.


To the One and Only Avant Staff, Many things come to mind when I think of leaving Avant. I’m not going to be that guy and list all of the inside jokes we’ve shared like show don’t tell, THE PIKE, “great imagery,” moist... oh, it looks I like I am going to be that guy after all. It’s hard for me to grasp that I will never again have to send out those nagging emails to you guys about deadlines and meetings and potential pizza parties. Never again will I step foot in the humbly decorated pub suite for our weekly meeting which always consists of intelligent discussion, and maybe just a couple of laughs. Never again will I be called “chief” by my peers. That might be the toughest pill to swallow. But in all seriousness, this is not about me. This is about all of us. We might not be the most talked about student organization on campus, but we have put all of our hearts and souls into producing the best quality magazine possible. I don’t believe I could ask for much more than that. I want you all to know that your efforts have not gone unnoticed. This magazine would not be what it is without such a dedicated and talented staff, and for that I am eternally grateful. I hope Avant has served as a sort of weekly comfort for you. I hope you have formed friendships and learned things about other people, and yourselves. But most importantly, I hope you never, ever stop writing. If it brings you joy, then never stop. Be good to each other, guys. And good luck. There is not a doubt in my mind that you will all achieve greatness, in Avant and far beyond. Love always,

Cara


To the honorable Avant staff: Being a part of Avant goes beyond so much more than the year I have spent as Senior Editor, and all the other years I served as part of the staff. Everyone that contributes to Avant, staff member, writer, and artist alike, is part of something so much bigger than just us. We are part of a magazine that has existed for longer than fifty years now, and I honestly believe will be published for at least fifty more. This staff has brought the magazine to a new level, from the merit of the poetry and stories, to the creativity of the photography and artwork, and to the professionalism that goes into producing each glossy page. This level of excellence certainly will not be forgotten as long as the future members can look back on our issues and be inspired to create something as beautiful as this. I know that we, as a staff, have created something to be admired. I am truly proud to say that I have been a part of Avant, and I hope you are too. So keep telling all your friends and classmates about “that magazine with the poetry� and keep filling up the magazine bins when they look a little low. And most of all, keep writing. Writing is what brought us together in the first place, and look at how well this ended. With love,

Jayne


Table of Contents writings Apartment Dwellers by Jayne Dzuback ................................................. 1 Little Old Man by Justin Totora .................................................................. 2 Funeral by Cara Rothenberg ...................................................................... 3 Paramount Scruff by Alex Grover ............................................................. 4 Lurking Alone by Steven Burns ................................................................. 6 God, Make Me Fat by Jessica O’Shea ....................................................... 8 Orange by Ashley Caldora ........................................................................... 9 Arizona by Lauren Ward ............................................................................ 10 Sex on the Brain by Justin Totora ........................................................... 11 Beautiful Swimmer by Samuel Lasko .................................................... 12 Lacewing Lust by Morgan Kerr ............................................................... 13 Window Seat by Frank Martini ................................................................ 14 Round Valley Reservoir by Jayne Dzuback .......................................... 15 Carbon by Lauren Wills .............................................................................. 17 Seamstress of the Sky by Natalie Busarello ......................................... 18 Alexandria Chic by Samuel Fine .............................................................. 19 The Day Before the Stone is Rolled Away by Christine Johnson ....... 20 Teeth by Lauren Ward ................................................................................. 21 Aubade by Lauren Wills ......................................................................... 24 The Pool by Natalie Busarello .............................................................. 25


Table of Contents art and photography

Sunset by Dominique Klimek ................................ COVER Praying by Michael Youngkin ..................................................................... 2 Street view by Lauren Wederich ............................................................. 3 Landscape by Lauren Wederich ................................................................ 5 JoJo’s World by Dominique Klimek .......................................................... 7 Yoko by Dominique Klimek ........................................................................ 9 Built Tough by Jayne Dzuback ................................................................. 10 Blue Shoes by Dominique Klimek .......................................................... 11 Elise by Dominique Klimek ....................................................................... 13 Untitled by Vienna Dinorscio .................................................................. 14 Pleasing Cherry Blossoms, Genesis 2:9 by Lauren Schroeder ......... 16 Two by Michael Youngkin ......................................................................... 17 I’ve Fallen and I Can’t Get Up by Laura Schnatterly .......................... 18 Breakfast in Bed by Dominique Klimek ................................................ 19 Lungs by Eric Simmons .............................................................................. 20 Urban Garden by Jayne Dzuback ........................................................... 23 Kate Gets Fancy by Dominique Klimek ................................................ 24 Tenth and E by Samantha Sciarrotta...................................................... 27 Reflection by Dominique Klimek ........................................................... 28


1

Apartment Dwellers Jayne Dzuback

He does not display vulnerability. Freakishly large and green-black, he looms above the bathroom doorway, too high for either of us to reach up and defeat – as if he studied our shortcomings before he crept out of whichever crevice he came from. We engage him in a staring contest. And then boldly criticize his appearance, as if girlish attacks could kill an insect. Cursing loudly about the inconvenience that neither of our fathers are present, I finally extend my arm just enough, to take care of the fly, myself.


2

A Little Old Man Justin Totora

A little old man, wearing rotting boots, soiled trousers, and a ragged sport coat, stepped feebly out into the middle of the street and was crushed, splattered and splayed under the skidding wheels of a large black sedan. The driver, a pretty brown haired college student (who, at the time of impact, cried out to God but was never answered) rushed weeping out of the car and screamed for help. A little fat man who witnessed the accident dialed 911 on his cell phone and shouted “Help” before running to console the girl. The 911 operator, calmly, with one hand operating the phone, the other stirring sugar into her coffee, sent out her ninth call of the day over the radio for an officer in the vicinity. A young officer, just a few blocks away from the scene, rushed over on hearing the call, and, nauseous at seeing the mangled body, placed a call for an ambulance immediately before questioning the hysterical girl about what happened. The paramedics, cursing the sun after their long night shift, pulled in through the police barricades and threw what was left of the old man in the back and took their sweet old time getting to the hospital. They were in no hurry. The doctor, on checking the pulse of the dead man’s severed arm, pronounced him dead and told a nurse to call a family member to deal with the body. It stunk to high heaven. The nurse, unshaken, called the old man’s daughter and told her what was what through shrieks and cries on the other end. The middle-aged daughter, on seeing the gore, collapsed into her husband’s waiting arms. The husband, a man of quiet action, called the funeral parlor to set up a date. The funeral director, wearing his much practiced empathetic frown, whispered into the priest’s ear to begin. The priest solemnly called upon the graciousness of the Lord to call one of his beloved children up into his most glorious and peaceful home. God, while watching all of this, wept and asked the universe why must it be? The universe was silent.


3

Funeral Cara Rothenberg

I follow my mother down to the church basement. It is dark and desolate, and not at all holy. She slides her back down the wall, sits down on the cold, linoleum floor. I study her eyes, bloodshot and tired. Her lips clenched tight, they hold her tongue hostage. This is grief. This is normal. She gets up, starts sorting through boxes of worn out bibles and Christmas decorations. Picking up a filthy, plastic baby Jesus, she cradles him in her arms as if he were her own. “Once your mother dies, there’s nobody left to love you when you’re mean or fat,” she says. And I can’t tell if she’s talking to me or baby Jesus.


4

Paramount Scruff Alex Grover

Believe me when I give in to roots unstuck from grounds elsewhere, to clouds rolling over solemn mountains, with trickles of dew on their fluffy beards, to mothers and fathers who’ve inspired me to mingle in the fields instead of the factories, to love this girl instead of that girl, instead of that guy to love this guy, to grow flowers from my hands with seeds I don’t have. I’ve smoked with wizards and they’ve given me glass to melt instead of tears and other unwanted misgivings. I’ve made some vases; believe me, they’re nice vases. I plan on selling them to merchants for pennies children for millions, and highwaymen for free. Believe me when my back gives out underneath the weight of my responsibility and the petals of my monstrous dandelion I’ve grown out of nothing. It just takes a breath to blow the petals away; but believe me, I can’t breathe anymore, not after the wizards’ smoke flung hooks into my lungs and stayed for good.


5

Paramount Scruff

However, I’d rather suffocate than love the oppressed girl who lives in the factory and ignores the forest and the scruffy clouds above.


6

Lurking Alone Steven Burns

[1] lurking alone bar to bar, watching people sip —tip— their decoctions and pour themselves into pools. now we are estranged. like them. [2] with the sad moans of the subway-car, the ululations of my heart are muffled. steely tracks set in concrete carry bodies above the urban: sprawling and cold. i am as ashen as the factory fire remains below the Franklin. [3] Charline von Heyl. your scrambled Igitur, a bloody lesion of masses contorted, dark and raw


7

Lurking Alone

ugly before me in the gallery displayed among other pieces. shards of images unfathomable and broken, but existing (so still on the wall) composed of loss— never having held an admirer’s gaze.


8

God, Make Me Fat Jessica O’Shea

I wish I were fat Wish that nothing would bring me joy but folds of flesh wrapped around and slipping down shaking with fatty flab that shimmied in step and boys followed behind making nose noises I wish I were fat Too large and in charge to sit on the standard chair benches straining to bare me, exceeding their manufacturing weight limits from my left leg alone Hefty, bulky, stocky, portly, paunchy, fleshy I wish I were fat I’d eat that damn chocolate cake and enjoy every crumb that fell on my chest z-cup size breast lay lounging in a silk nighty size triple X not to hide but to accentuate my own home-grown gown I wish I were fat Curves in all the right places and a couple more with every move an impact on the room and all those peons looking on jealous of the contentment I’d found Enormous, tremendous, humongous, ginormous I wish I were fat Broken chained manacles swinging from wrists and a cracked collar linked to snapped restraints all left over from my escape from the bonds I’d let others place and a few I’d made myself I wish I were fat


9

Orange Ashley Caldora

You are the butterfly of tattoos, the Gigli of movies, and the Bieber of pop. So fly away, go on DVD, and do a Proactive commercial. Do anything except hold me tight and tell me you love me. I’m too cool for that.


10

Arizona Lauren Ward

I need those rocks, mysterious masses, chunks of copper, stable in their stance, determined to be close to the sky. I have to watch them bake in the sun, eating the white hot rays and holding the heat inside each red rock. I’ve searched, but there’s no other place like this: where my skin evaporates right along with my breath. One sigh, one shiver, and it’s all gone. When the sun takes his exit, I lie on the dusty red ground and warm my bones. As I clutch, grasp, and devour the lingering heat of the day, I feel my marrow begin to thaw and a smile spreads across what is left of me.


11

Sex on the Brain Justin Totora

You ask me how my day was. I stare at your breasts and think Oonga boonga… You ask me what I thought about the “Kony 2012” video. I stare at your breasts and think Oonga boonga… You offer your condolences for the death of my grandfather. I stare at your breasts and think Oonga boonga… You tell me to grow up and walk away. I stare at your rump and think Hoo-ah


12

Beautiful Swimmer Samuel Lasko

I fell asleep on the dock again with my mouth open and this time, I woke up with a crab in my mouth. The crab was so big that it was impossible to have gotten in there, but somehow it did, and now it was stuck. I felt its sharp legs pushing out from inside my cheeks and its powerful claws reaching around my face. I tried spitting it out but I couldn’t. I panicked. I ran off the dock into my grandparent’s yard freaking out. I couldn’t spit it out. I thought, “I am going to die. Maybe I am already dead.” When I felt as if I could no longer feel any more terrified, I spit out the crab and when it landed in the grass it died. Now I was all alone. I went back on the dock and pulled up the wire trap again. This time, it was empty. I swore I had seen hundreds of crabs on the bottom of the lagoon. I thought it very strange that these large spider-like crabs, usually found in the deep sea, were in such shallow water. I thought it even stranger that they were bright red, already been cooked, like they were still alive at the buffet. But they were all gone now. I threw the trap back into the water, looked at the spot where it was sinking, and thought, “that used to be my honey hole.” I looked at the sky. It was unusually blue. Then I walked to the opposite end of the dock, kneeled down, and felt one of the single lines that were tied to the posts. There was something tugging at the other end. Using my thumbs and pointer fingers, I carefully pulled down the line one pinch at a time, remembering that if you pulled the line down too fast, whatever was on the other end would notice and let go. As I peered up into the clouds, the light shape of a chicken leg began to emerge. Now almost within reach, I saw the shadow of a moving crab. It was gnawing and clawing at the chicken leg. Holding the line in one hand and the net in the other, I netted it in one swift motion. When I got this crab on the dock, it was not well. It was missing one of its claws, its underside was dirt brown, and it was covered in a clear sticky slime. It smelled disgusting. This crab was different than the monstrous red ones I had seen on the bottom of the lagoon. There was something familiar about this one. The top of its shell was brown and its claws were blue. It was much smaller than the blue clawed crabs I remembered catching as a child, but it was still here, still alive. I pinned down its remaining claw with my foot, picked it up, and tossed it back into the sky. It was supposed to be above this lagoon, my grandfather’s lagoon. As I watched it swimming away up into the sky I didn’t feel afraid anymore. I fell back asleep with my mouth open.


13

Lacewing Lust Morgan Kerr

Entomologist, won’t you study me today? Pin me down, mount me.


14

Window Seat Frank Martini

The bus was nearly empty.  You chose a seat near me.  But I pretended not to notice.


15

Round Valley Reservoir Jayne Dzuback

Rudy told us he knows how to get there, so we followed him. The three of us left my car on a side street in an affluent neighborhood, with subdued colored houses and sprawling backyards. Then we took the dirt path uphill into another, secluded neighborhood. I stopped to admire the bungalow style houses on the roaming road; but soon we crossed the line from private sophistication to the natural surroundings of New Jersey. The trees even seemed greener and stronger, somehow. When we came to a fence, equipped with a large, red warning sign chastising trespassers, Rudy showed us a little dirt footpath. The fence spread only twenty feet in both directions, and a small trail was already beaten by the footsteps of the transgressors passed. We continued in their tracks, despite all the complaints I made about being tired and hot. Rudy encouraged me to keep going, claiming, we will reach the cooling water of the reservoir soon enough. Dave offered to carry me, but I declined. Dave and I did not ask, but Rudy began to tell us the brief history of the reservoir. The government put its construction into action in the 1960s; the reservoir is the deepest lake in the state. The facts Rudy spewed off became smaller and smaller in comparison to the surroundings, until his voice was as small as the hum of the hungry mosquitoes. The trees that lined the dirt trail were tall and lush; there is no time of year when beeches are greener. I could smell the freshness of the water before we spotted it through the trees. Once we scouted out an unoccupied camping site, we cut off the trail and into the underbrush. Something about the uninhibited nature motivated us to run to towards the smell of the water and into the glare of the sun off the lake. When we get to the rock filled beach, the sun forced us to stop and squint and suddenly notice the bare beauty of the man-made nature. Water lapped a bank that is utterly sandless, but rather filled with large, jagged rocks. The three of us frivolously removed our clothes for a more practical blend of spandex and goggles and snorkels. Rudy reminded us, we are not even at the place he promised to show us yet. The spot he spoke about required us to venture into the depths of the water, about twenty-five feet off shore. The scorching weather made this swim seem feasible; I twisted the directions around in my mind as I followed his finger pointing. After all, it wasn’t just any day of the year when I would consider breaking into a state reservoir and testing my substandard swimming skills. The lone mountain in the distance, the air thick with humidity, and even the prehistoric, maroon rocks put us in a trance that drew us into the lukewarm water. Rapidly, the three of us were descending.


16

Round Valley Reservoir I was not following Rudy anymore, just instinct. Swimming felt like gliding. The reservoir was the quietest place I had ever been. Rudy did not have to tell us when we reached the spot, it was obvious what we had come out here to see, a cluster of perfectly preserved tree stumps. The stumps and the extensive root systems had been left there when the reservoir was filled with water fifty years ago; the roots spread into the depths in a tangled dance. The very roots that once supported a group of enormous trees now supported an assembly of aquatic life, swiftly navigating the cluster. It was a beautifully balanced outcome of man interfering with nature. I had never seen anything as magnificent at the time, and now I know, I would never see anything like it again. The man I am standing in front of coughs uncomfortably, breaking me from my misty daydream. I am back in the reality, at a rather drab November wedding ceremony, bringing together two people I haven’t seen or spoken to in months. He asks his initial question once again, as he runs a finger around the rim of his wine glass, “How are Rudy and Dave these days?” The sound of nostalgia resonates in his voice, as if he is daydreaming too. I know why he asks me, out of all the once familiar people here; Rudy and Dave and I at one time were inseparable. I muster a smirk and avert my eyes as I admit, “I’m not sure; I’ve lost touch with them.” I haven’t seen either of them in years, not since the summer we were a sundry trio of limitless kids, sneaking into a reservoir. He nods knowingly and coughs again. I respond by asking him about other friends we used to know when we were young.


17

Carbon Lauren Wills

Things come close but never touch, you said, because everything is made of atoms, and atoms never touch, so sensation is just a story our bodies tell to help us sleep better in soft blankets. Before I could fake an educated response, lights and smoke rose up before us and without hesitation we ran towards the sirens where a half dozen trucks had gathered   in the crook of a curved apartment complex, the wildest flames beaten down but a handful of remaining firefighters gathered in twos and threes, gesturing at the coverlet of smoke still clinging to the ground. There was a man a few yards away on a phone saying it was an electrical fire, an outlet shorted out, and they didn’t know yet if anyone was inside. He drifted away, but we stayed, drawn to the wreck— I could taste the carbon on my lips— and you held me as close as you could without touching me.


18

Seamstress of the Sky Natalie Busarello

My eyes skim the skyline and my lashes fight the fog, sweeping crystal spheres of memories to the outer boundaries of my mind. Mist hangs in midair as invisible strings suspend infinite droplets above the ground and dangle reflections in their place. The residual ribbons of light weave through liquid diamonds of sea, lacing together the atmosphere. The jeweled blanket swaddles my bones, the frigid beads kiss my skin and gems collect along my lids until I am a part of the heavens around me, my body sewn into the seams of the horizon.


19

Alexandria Chic Samuel Fine

How could you and I waste a moon so full while the buds are ripe and so are you? Don’t hesitate or I’ll have to ask that you put it out before passing it on for I’ll never kiss in the same way again if your cherry burns out on the tip of my tongue.


20

The Day Before the Stone is Rolled Away Christine Johnson

Death slides over the weather-stripping mud caked over his boots waves to an old friend Grave puffs his Peterson pipe ash falls onto his granite robe ‘You look worried.’ Death slumps into a Victorian arm chair covering his eyes with his coal sleeve ‘You’re one to talk.’ Grave staggered to the cabinet dust and ash shadow his steps ice and glass soothed by amber liquor ‘What can he do?’ Death wheezes a worried chuckle bone feet scratching the floor Grave taps his glass to Death’s ‘Cheers to our failure, he rises in one day more.’


21

Teeth Lauren Ward

When I was nineteen, just about to turn twenty, I was dating a guy my age named Dave. I met him online, through the now ancient website called MySpace. He was goofy, laid back and very, very tall – six foot six at least. And he had fake teeth. You can read that again. It’s still going to be true. He told me about his dentures the third time we hung out. It was clear he had something to tell me, but he tiptoed around the topic for a while. There’s really no segue into, “Hey, guess what? My teeth aren’t real.” Between a combination of terrible dental hygiene and one too many rough concert experiences, Dave had wrecked his mouth. When he finally saw a dentist, he was told that it made sense to get dentures. So he did. And there we were, having a conversation about Dave’s fake teeth. It was a little weird, but honestly, I couldn’t tell. We had made out before the revelation and I hadn’t noticed at all. So I shrugged and he was happy. I accepted the news, strange as it was, and we moved on. We had several diner dates – not dinner, but diner – (this is Jersey, after all) and double dates with his best friend, Amy, and her boyfriend, Tom. After about a month he asked me to be his girlfriend. Things were going well. Very shortly after we made our relationship official, I found myself in a bad part of Philly with Dave, at a party hosted by a friend of his named Gary. Amy’s boyfriend parked the car a couple blocks away on a side street that was barely wide enough for the narrow Camry we were crammed into. I’d been to sketchy places before, but I’d never seen bars on entire front porches. I hung close to Dave as the four of us walked to Gary’s row home. We were welcomed inside and offered drinks. I squeezed into the kitchen and made myself a rum and Coke, making sure I was using the public liquor and not stealing from someone’s personal stash. I didn’t want to smother Dave in such a small crowded space, so I hung around Amy, who was outgoing and made me feel comfortable around all those strangers. Maybe if I had hung closer to Dave that night, I would have noticed how much beer he’d had to drink. I probably wouldn’t have tried to stop him; it’s not like he was driving home or anything. But maybe I could have predicted what happened next. The only working bathroom at the party was up a narrow, uneven flight of wooden stairs. I watched Dave attempt – unsuccessfully – to walk up them before I decided to help him out. And by help him out, I mean tell him he was “probably too drunk to make it up there,” and that he “should just hold it for now, okay?” He ignored me, placing each unsteady foot on a stair one by one, knocking his knuckles and elbows into the walls. Eventually he made it to the top, rounded a corner and flung himself into the bathroom. I considered Dave’s


22

Teeth successful navigation of the stairs and use of the toilet to be a small miracle, until he banged his head on the door frame on the way out, and stumbled to the top of the stairs. Amy was standing at the bottom, shaking her head. “Hell no,” she said. “Make him stay up there.” I told her to move. She wanted to help, but if a giant like Dave fell on a dwarf like Amy, she would surely have been squashed. Ignoring my suggestions to sit on his ass and scooch down the stairs, Dave grabbed onto the splintered railing and got to the bottom without tripping. I suggested we go out to the front porch and get some air. There were several people already out there, smoking and drinking and pretending to karate chop each other on the tiny front lawn. Dave started to complain about how sick he was feeling. He was swaying like a palm tree during a hurricane. I did my best to use my five-foot-four frame to keep my date upright, but it was difficult. Drunk weight is a lot like dead weight, only wobblier. Dave abruptly announced that he was going to throw up. I pointed him in the direction of the railing overlooking the lawn – you know, away from people. He leaned over the balcony and just as he was about to get sick, he reached back to me. I put out my open hands and he placed something in them. It was his teeth. I stared at them for a moment, feeling the weight of a full set of dentures, gums and all. They reeked of beer but were otherwise pretty clean. They smiled up at me, happy to have escaped a session of vomiting. I shook myself out of my thoughts and left the porch to find something to put the teeth in. In the kitchen, I spotted a stack of red plastic cups. I took one and put the teeth in it. I found Amy and Tom and told them Dave was sick. Tom said he was tired and that we could leave after Dave stopped puking. We all went outside to wait for him to finish. Gary and some of his friends came outside, too, to heckle Dave for drinking too much and to make lame offers of bread for him to eat and “soak up the alcohol.” I stood there, holding the plastic cup of teeth. When we were ready to leave, it was clear that Dave couldn’t walk to the car without help. Some guy with a mohawk named Jeff decided to help us out. Jeff wasn’t much taller than the rest of our group, but he managed to lug Dave down the street and smush him into Tom’s car. We left Philly. Back in New Jersey, Tom stopped at Dave’s house. The three of us got out of the car and looked at each other. How were we going to get Dave inside? Amy laughed and told me he was my boyfriend so he was my problem. I said fine, I would manage it, but she needed to bring my stuff in. I handed her my purse


23

Teeth

and the cup of teeth. She took one look in the cup and said, “You have got to be kidding me with this.” I ignored her comment and pulled Dave out of the car. I wrapped his arms around my shoulders and very slowly guided him into his house. He collapsed onto the couch in the living room. I went into his kitchen for some water, and Amy and Tom called out their good-byes. I filled a tall glass with water from the tap and grabbed a bottle of Tylenol out of the cabinet. I set both of these items down on the table next to my snoring boyfriend for him to find in the morning. I was about to let myself out when I remembered the red plastic cup. I texted Amy: “Where did you put Dave’s teeth?” As I waited for her response, I looked at that sentence over and over again. It still didn’t bother me, as Dave would soon find out when I did not dump him the next morning. But it did feel as though I had fallen into some kind of alternate reality. I’d entered a strange wormhole where twenty-year-old men have dentures. My phone lit up with Amy’s response. I glanced over to the dining room table and saw the cup sitting there. I picked it up and placed it next to the water and Tylenol. Then I went home, brushed my teeth very carefully, and went to bed.


24

Aubade Lauren Wills

I wake up, alone, to cold sunlight  strangled through the blinds,  the air in the room droning  like white noise. Winter makes everything weak.  My skin cracks and flakes, itching to be rid of me. Outside, I can hear the trees  bleached and naked  scraping against each other.  The wind won’t let them stop. This morning I feel close to you. The thought freezes me, and then I begin to melt.


25

The Pool Natalie Busarello

My mom hung up the phone. “Uncle Denny wants to take down the pool,” she said as she pushed open the door with her elbow. “He says he spends way too much time and money keeping up something that no one uses anymore. Everyone’s going to Pop Pop’s on Sunday to disassemble it.” I felt my stomach drop. It was the day we all knew was coming but had dreaded its arrival for years. It was finally here. Our heads hanging and our shoulders slouched, we all streamed into the backyard that Sunday. There it sat, empty and lined with unwelcomed families of algae, leaves crusted to the vinyl, white metal edges chipped and bent, a pool that once towered over my head now level with my chest. The deck lay next to the great blue circle, reduced to a pile of rotting red wooden boards and rusted nails. The yellowed chlorine-fed moss at last saw the sun in full, no longer through slits from above. Weeds staked their claim over the sizzling cement pathway and bugs conquered the land where tiny feet had once reigned. I stood next to my cousins and watched my uncles demolish the metal frame to make the pool buckle. Suddenly, the memories came flooding out. “C’mon, kids! We gotta get goin’. The Francises are already at Mom Mom and Pop Pop’s pool,” my dad yelled from the living room. “Reen, I’ll grab some towels. C’mon, Attie, grab your bathing suit.” I stuck my head into my closet and tossed every shoe behind my head until I found my other glitter Jelly sandal. “Coming, Dad!” I yelled back. I slid my size three feet into my shoes and ran out the screen door and into the van. Soon enough, we were pulling up to the off-white house that I knew so well. We parked on top of our cement easel, walked past home base, kissed everyone “hello” in the parent cage they fondly called “the patio,” and finally I was set free. The screen door screeched as I pushed it open. Smoke from the grill engulfed my nose and I shut my eyes quickly, only to open them again to see my uncle waiting to give me a hug. “Attie! Come on! We’re about to start a world pool!” My cousin Carly screamed from the pool. “It’s whirl pool, Carly, not world pool. You’re so dumb sometimes,” Gregg chided his sister. “Mom! Gregg called me dumb again!” Carly screeched from the pool as I tiptoed quickly along the cement pathway to the deck. I reached up to the latch and pulled the door open. We always said that the door was there to keep the neighbor Claire’s kids out; our nemeses in wiffle-ball and all other backyard sports. This was our turf, not theirs.


26

The Pool I pulled my sundress over my head while standing on top of my Jellies to keep the bottoms of my feet from scorching on the maroon deck. After placing my clothes far enough away that they would not get wet, I prepared for my dismount. I had to be sure to circumvent the piece of the deck that was loose over the filter. Once I found the perfect path, I took a running start and cannonballed into the water. “Whirlpool!” Someone yelled, and all at once, we swam in a counter-clockwise direction around the perimeter of our small ocean. Eventually, the water moved with us so that we could lift our tiny feet from the vinyl floor and let the drift carry us. We gripped the sides and hung onto the poorly-grounded ladder, testing its support, laughing the whole way around our world. I broke away from the current and stood in the middle of the pool, watching twenty faces pass me in succession. This was home. My aunt yelled from the patio, “Raise your hand if you want a hotdog!” Nine little hands waved in the air, still spinning with the water. “Raise your hand if you want a burger!” Eleven hands popped up, and some of us yelled that we wanted cheese. It was the same tally as yesterday, and last week, and last month, and last summer. Like the whirlpool, the days passed unchanging. The same sunlight greeted us each afternoon, the same faces gathered around the dinner table, the same ice tea filled our plastic cups, and yet, we continued to grow. The cement still sizzled, the door still creaked, and the pool still offered us refuge. But there were fewer whirlpools. There were no more games of Red Rover. Home base reverted itself to a bush. Our chalk easel served simply as a driveway. The name became shortened to just “Pop Pop’s house.” Claire’s kids moved out. I grew out of my Jellies. I stood in the center of the muddy circle left on the lawn and imagined myself still spinning in a whirlpool. The yard looked bare and unfamiliar. My childhood lay in pieces around me. The great blue container that held some of my greatest memories had been torn down and left in piles on the ground. My uncles instructed my cousins and me to dig up the weed-covered cement pathway to the pool and drag the pieces to the garbage. Those thick blocks that had supported every little foot that tip-toed its way to the pool, every game of hop-scotch, every new bathing suit fashion show, every parent holding their crying or sleeping child, were piled at the curb to be hauled away to sit in a faroff dump to disintegrate into dust.


27

The Pool

At my feet, sticking out from under a few centimeters of mud was a pair of goggles. I pulled them out from under the roly-polies building their homes atop, then brushed the earth off of the lenses, and held them up to my eyes. The plastic strap had dried out and snapped. The lenses were scratched and dirt filled every crevice. Just then, I heard a familiar creak and turned to see my aunt standing at the patio door. “Who wants a hotdog?” she yelled, and twelve people raised their hands. “And who wants a hamburger?” I let the goggles slip from between my fingers, causing the bugs to scurry away from my feet. “Cheese please,” I yelled back. “Me, too!” Someone yelled from behind me. I turned, glancing at twenty familiar faces, to at last find Carly standing behind me. “Let’s go get some iced tea, I’m thirsty,” she said, and we walked on the new dirt path to the rusted and dirty patio door. Inside at the dinner table sat the same people that had been there all along, waiting for us to take our seats and laughing about the same jokes they always had.


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Editorial Board Cara Rothenberg ..................................... Editor in Chief Jayne Dzuback ......................................... Senior Editor Lauren Wainwright .................................. Layout Editor Alex Grover ................................................... Treasurer Caitlin Conry .................................................. Secretary Jalina Wayser ............................... SGA Representative Ron Block ................................................. Club Advisor

General Staff Ally Evans, Andrew Rosenfeld, Antoine Jones, Frank Martini, Gabrielle Ostapovich, Greg Silber, Kat Masterson, Laura Cymerman, Lauren Ward, Lauren Wills, Samuel Fine, Stephanie Chudomelka, Tom Richards

Contact Information avantzine@gmail.com (856) 256-4538

AVANT

Spring 2012



Avant Magazine