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FALL 2016 VOLUME 3, ISSUE I
Shifts inklings fall 2016
A note from the editor Dear reader,
Thank you for picking up this semester’s literary magazine. We are so excited for
you to read it! Not many understand how much work it is to write (and of course, revise, revise, revise…), to create something meaningful and present it in a way that is both accessible and true. As Ernest Hemingway famously said in his memoir, A Moveable Feast, “All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence that you know.” I genuinely hope that we’ve done that.
Inklings is Colby’s community of creative writers. Unlike our favorite cousin, The
Pequod, this literary magazine is composed of only the work of our workshop group, what we have worked all semester creating and revising. This year, our theme is Shifts. We conceptualize it as movement, transformation, and motion. As always, art depends on the relationship between it and the viewer, so you may interpret Shifts in the way that is most true to you.
This year, the world made the largest sort of Shift it has made in a very long time,
and that is a scary a thing. Of course, art will always be a fundamental part of social justice, and this magazine is no different. It takes quite a deal of bravery to expose our truest selves, and I hope what you find between these pages inspires you, moves you, and gives you perspective. I know it has for me. Don’t give up—we’ve got a lot of work to do!
Finally, I want to thank Debra Spark, Johanna Clift, SGA, SBS, Kathleen Carroll,
and Tonayo Crow for all the work you do to make us as successful as we are. Thanks for being awesome—we’ll see you next semester in the English Seminar Room! Best, Jess Greenwald Editor-in-Chief
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Table of Contents 0......................Front and Back Cover Design by Jess Greenwald 1......................Letter from the Editor by Jess Greenwald 3......................Accounts of an Almost Alumna by Kathleen Carroll 5......................A City on Fire by Maddy Wendell 6......................Closure by Olivia Balcos 10.....................The Carriage Rolls On by Tonayo Crow 12.....................As the Leaves Turn by Holden Etcheberrigaray 17.....................The Buttefly Effect by Jess Greenwald 20.....................Post-Mortem by Tori Paquette 23.....................What We Were by Amanda Schmidt 25.....................The Mountains Are Cold by Michaela Norman 29....................Migration by Natasha Gallagher 31....................Black and Brown by Vasiki Konneh 32....................The Last Time by Crystal Lee 34....................A Morbid Pace by Jay Huskins 35....................Meet the Writers
Accounts of an Almost Alumna kathleen carroll
I. Freshman You’ve finally arrived, Only to realize that you’ve been so focused on getting here that you don’t know what’s next. Crying while hanging family photos, Silently begging everyone you meet to like you, Wondering why everyone from home stopped returning texts, Irritated that every college movie and TV show lied. II. Sophomore You’ve finally become comfortable, Only to discover that comfort can feel claustrophobic. Watching the same television shows week after week, Yearning to do something different while unwilling to alter your schedule, Loving the friends you have but wishing to meet more, Wanting to change but clinging to what is familiar. III. Junior You’ve finally gone somewhere new, Only to be reminded that “new” and “exciting” aren’t synonyms. Reading two or three books a week just to keep up, Discovering you are one of four people who does the assignments, Spending five hours on a translation your classmates can do on the spot, Getting buried by two thousand notecards rather than exploring.
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IV. Senior Youâ€™ve finally acquired a balance, Only to appreciate that being unbalanced is part of who you are. Accepting anxiety every test day and essay deadline, Loving to watch television with friends which you once thought wasnâ€™t enough, Cherishing the small victories instead of continuing to work on new tasks, Finding an unstable balance that works now, but not forever.
a city on fire maddy wendell I. green leaves shift by the window, branches too far to scrape the sides as the train whizzes like a lethargic firecracker, whistling and wheezing across the countryside. she wonders at how fast the train chugs, her mother turns and smiles – here she can forget the bombs dropping on london, the fact that the one-room schoolhouse she attends has multiplied with refugees from the city on fire. her father flies for her, spread wings stitched to his blue uniform, as she runs through the small town, old manor always rising on the hill beside the graveyard. II. I sit and wonder at the green passing my eyes much more quickly than it did when she was a girl. my granny turns, white hair poufing and smile gleaming – here I can remember when we walked from her house to the old manor on the hill beside the graveyard. the city on fire has been rebuilt – we walked through the cobbled streets and rose our eyes to the tops of history. III. well not quite – the city on fire has moved, and here we can forget the screams of the people on fire. too bad our senses can’t travel across oceans to find the burning city to help the ashen people. too bad we can’t multiply the little girls and boys in the one-room schoolhouse, because the schoolhouse is a nation and the little girls and boys hold the night in their skin.
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closure olivia balcos The moment Maria pushed through the mahogany doors of the cathedral, she wondered if she had stepped into some horrible incongruity that invalidated her memories. The lamps with bronze casings hung from the high ceiling and cast a gentle, holy light over the path leading to the wooden casket on the altar. The casket was flanked by an array of white lilies, white roses, and lavender irises that emerged like little angels above their deep green stems and puckered over the body of Maria’s mother. How strange, Maria thought as she looked into the casket. Her mother looked so peaceful in her eternal slumber. The edges of her white dress looked as soft and light as the feathers of an innocent dove, and her makeup added a soft flush that gave a kindly look to her, and her long black hair parted gracefully over her glazed beige shoulders. Maria wanted to ask: Who was this woman who looked like the embodiment of love and grace, whose environment seemed to call tears that she did not plan to shed? Who was this woman? She was so lost in thought that she did not notice the scraggly old priest who had walked up beside her. He donned black robes and a violet stole around his neck, and he had slanted, round eyes that looked over her mother’s body with compassion. “Every Sunday morning I saw her taking the pile of robes to launder. She would be in the vestry before anyone else. Now she will never be there.” He sighed deeply, as if a wave of grief flowed through him that he had to release in one breath. “How “It doesn’t are you doing?” feel real. The question hung on the air, and the answers lodged in None of it. ” Maria’s throat. There were many, all conflicting, all unpretty. An evil part of her felt relief, but she would not reveal that, and she said something that he expected to hear. “It doesn’t feel real. None of it.” “Death never feels real, yet here she is in the casket so we can face her. A mother’s love is an immeasurable loss, like losing the roots that brought you up or the losing the legs that always supported you. Her love for you, her daughter, began from before your birth,” he said, touching her elbow and with a gentle voice. “Now, you will learn to live without the love that she had given you from the beginning. It may be the hardest thing you will ever do. Of the many funerals and wakes I have served, the ones held for mothers are the most tragic.” “This is true?” Maria asked. “Always.” His voice spoke of wisdom and of experience and of a universal truth that surrounded mothers and daughters all around the world. Yet, as he bent down on one knee and closed his eyes to pray, and as her mother’s loved ones entered the church under the dim light, Maria felt a growing, pervasive awareness of the sadness in the priest’s quiet figure and of the grief emanating from those looking upon the casket,
Fall 2016 and she felt isolated. “Sandra gave me these for my birthday, and I thought it would be appropriate for me to wear it,” her mother’s white friend, Jackie, said. She pointed to the deep blue earrings that she wore. “I’m not sure what I’ll do without her.” Jackie broke down then, and Maria held this sobbing woman that she met seldom before while she was still living with her mother. Her mother was not her mother when Jackie would come over. Her mother laughed and listened and was pleased, and Maria would listen from her bedroom in wonder. When Jackie calmed down, Maria asked what her mother said about her. “She said that she wished that you didn’t move out. You had so much trouble living on your own, and she very much wanted to help you.” Jackie then bit her lip. There was a question in her eyes, a hesitance to say what she knew. Maria urged her to say it. “She was angry when you fought, but-” Jackie said “but” as if she were trying to cover up her own words. “But, I remember I lost my own mother. I had a fight with her and didn’t talk to her for days, and then I got the news. Heart attack.” Her eyes dimmed. “Sometimes I forgive myself, and sometimes I don’t. I just wish she was still here because she just seemed to have all the answers, and I feel lost without her.” She put a gentle hand on Maria’s shoulder. “I’m rambling. It gets better with time. Your mother was a good woman, and no matter how hard it is, it will get better. You’ll learn to forgive yourself.” Maria wanted to ask what exactly her mother said, but instead she allowed Jackie to tell her stories about the nice things her mother did. How she liked to buy little trinkets for Jackie, liked boston cream pie, liked sharing nice quotes from the Bible. Maria wanted to know if there were any dark moments in the friendship: fights, mood swings, passive aggressiveness. But Jackie didn’t speak of that, and neither did anyone else. Their stories were like pebbles skipping on the clear surface of a lake, touching only the parts that everyone could see, but never the murky, polluted waters that lurked underground At the arrival of her Tita, or Aunt, Lydia, Maria nearly grimaced. She avoided contact, but Tita Lydia, with her heels and that short Filipino-bobcat hairstyle that she has had since the eighties, came to her to give her a tight, oppressive hug anyway. “Anak.” Child. “I’m so sorry.” Tita Lydia was the aunt that talked too loud and too fast. Maria could barely get a word in her she went from story to story from their youth in the Philippines, their college days, their immigration to America. Maria politely nodded, following Tita Lydia’s words only sometimes. There was no correlation between her stories, but suddenly her tone shifted. She told a story of how the two rebelled against their mother many times, but when the two grew older, they learned obedience, respect. “In the Philippines, we learned to respect our mother because they clothed and fed us, and when Sandra became a mother, she did the same to you as well.” It became increasingly prevalent where this was going. Tita Lydia would look at her with a face that said that she had something to say but did not want to say it directly. Tita Lydia fidgeted, her voice became louder as she arrived to the final question: “Why did you fight?” Maria was taken aback, sputtered something unintelligible that angered Tita Lydia even more.
Inklings Literary Magazine “You ran away once, but that was as a teenager, and teenagers always fight, but I thought that you matured, that you learned to listen. And then Sandra called me and said that you called her a… a,” she grew silent, but was still angered. “Bakit ba? Hah? Why? Why are you still angry?” Tita Lydia gripped Maria’s arm so hard that it was beginning to hurt. So Maria shook her hand off. Maria wanted to speak, but Tita Lydia was speaking even faster, even angrier, until the anger building up within Maria burst. “Don’t ask why when you won’t let me say why. Just get out.” The corner of the church that heard her grew silent. Jackie and the priest looked at her in horror, but Maria did not care. She spun on her heel and walked out to take a breath of fresh air, leaving Tita Lydia with her mouth wide open with offense. Maria walked down the steps and sat over the small-bricked wall that surrounded a modest garden. Her blood was boiling now, and she was feeling antsy so she took out a cigarette to smoke. As she tried to light it up, a shadow crept up in front of her, and when she looked up, she saw the man in front of her. It was her Tito Lito. He had aged the last time they talked. On the days she wasn’t comfortable at home, she would come to his house to chat on the porch. He was youthful then: full of vibrant energy and exaggerated hand movements. He was the sort of happy, energetic guy that anyone in the family wanted to get close to. Now, his hair was turning gray, and his brown skin sagged over his forehead and chin, and his veins bulged out of his hands. “Why are you outside?” he asked. Maria shifted uncomfortably. She wanted to go back inside than talk to him, but her Tita Lydia was still inside, so she stayed put. “The atmosphere in there is too much to bear.” He nodded, picked at something in his pockets, before saying, “You should come back to our house sometime to visit. My wife asks why you don’t come anymore, even though that was years ago. She’ll feel a little less lonely with Sandra gone if you visit.” She would have been more graceful with her answer if she was not upset and angry, but she said, “No thanks.” “You’re still angry about that then.” Maria didn’t answer. “You didn’t have to call the police.” “You didn’t help me when I asked for help. I didn’t know what else to do.” Tito Lito’s jaw stiffened. “You should not have called the police. You should have talked to your mother if you had an issue.” “Like talking worked so well with you.” “What was I supposed to do? Rip you apart from her? Break up the family, cause fights? What good would that do?” “I just wanted acknowledgement. I didn’t want you to save me. I just thought I could trust you.” Maria was standing up now, hands waving in fists. She was making a scene in front of strangers passing by but she didn’t care. Tito Lito was avoiding her gaze now, and he was about to turn to leave, but Maria stepped in front of him. “No. No, you don’t get to leave every time I need to tell you something, because even
Page 9 though you ignore what happened to me, I have to deal with it for the rest of my life.” Tito Lito was visibly uncomfortable now and red in the face. “She never even hit you.” “No, she just fucked me up with words, because that’s so much better. Thank God, she didn’t fuck up my bones, she just fucked up who I am.” Tito Lito shook his head. “She’s gone. Let it go. Look I’m sorry you’re still mad and that your mother isn’t perfect. I just wish you wouldn’t let that affect the family.” He gave one last look at Maria before he entered the church, leaving Maria on the bricked wall, fighting back tears. She came back into the church when everyone left and asked the priest to give her a moment of time alone with her mother. She emerged through the shadows under the light that was even dimmer than and stood before this casket of a lie. The flowers, the holy light, the pure, white dress, the kindly expression on her mother’s face mocked her like her mother mocked her for ever wanting more. Her mother liked to remind her who paid the bills and her education so she could have the right to tell Maria how ugly, how fat, how stupid she was. Her mother looked through Maria’s diaries without her permission, scrambled through her drawers, because she wanted to make sure that she wasn’t doing anything wrong. And when Maria would call her out on that, her mother would tell her that she was tired from working three jobs, that Maria was ungrateful and if her mother wasn’t needed, she would just abandon her. When Maria finally moved out, her mother went ballistic, mocked Maria for thinking that she was too good to live with her own mother. She didn’t know the person in the casket, nor did she know the person who everyone else cried about. She just knew that this woman who might belong in heaven raised hell at home, and that no one but her would accept what she was like behind closed doors when she had power over someone who had no authority to speak. Her mother, this wake, her family, the world had denied her her right to be angry, and so she threw her rage in one final motion. She held onto the lid of the casket, and slammed it shut.
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The Carriage Rolls On tonayo crow The horse-drawn carriage bumped and jostled its precious passenger as it wound its way down the dusty road towards town. From the driver’s seat of the carriage, a view of the bustling town stretched for miles to the east: tall mansions dwarfed the small homes of the poor, and an entire neighborhood was burned black from a fire the previous week. The smell of fish (it was a river town) wafted on the breeze to the carriage, and one could almost hear the bartering and shouting from the market, a large enterprise stretching the entire length of the canal over the river. A large pothole momentarily halted the carriage’s procession, and the driver was forced to hop down and manually guide the horses in the right direction. This activity put him in quite the irritated mood, and he grumbled about dust and horses and roads as he climbed back onto his seat (a rather tough feat for such a paunchy man). Once back on track, the carriage resumed its trek to town, where the passenger hoped to buy some expensive trinkets. Soon the town embraced the carriage in full, and the sights and smells and sounds of life banged against the carriage’s exterior like a fist on wood. To reach the expensive part of town, the carriage had to cross a less-than-legal flea market selling goods to the highest bidder (faux gold jewelry was particularly popular). The passenger never liked this part of the journey. Indecent, she called it. Heathens, she thought, mentally chastising the vendors. Finally, the carriage reached its destination. The Silk Emporium, and Other Goods, the sign read. The dusty carriage rolled to a stop, coming to rest while the mistress entered the store to do her shopping. The carriage was left to fill the absence of its mistress by imagining what she was doing inside the store. “Good evening, miss, how can I help you?” asked the bony shopkeeper. Miss Pembington raised her icy eyes to his and sniffed. He chuckled nervously, muttering something about inventory, and skulked away. Miss Pembington approached the merchandise lining the back wall, a wide array of pistols, knives, and hammers displayed proudly on a black velvet surface, glinting in the dim shop light. She smiled as she reached for the wicked hunting knife with the etched ivory handle she’d been eyeing for the past two weeks. “I’ll take this one, Lonny,” she called out. A loud crash ensued and Lonny the shopkeeper stumbled out from the back of the store. “Ah, yes, this one is in fine form, one of my best!” he exclaimed. “Just what are you hunting miss, if I may ask?” “You may not.” Miss Pembington shelled out some silver coins while Lonny hurriedly wrapped the knife and stuck it in a bag labeled The Silk Emporium, and Other Goods. Miss Pembington said, “I trust that you will be discrete, yes? I would hate to have to come back here,” she smiled with her mouth but not her eyes and Lonny paled.
Page 11 Insolent waif, she thought. “You won’t hear nothing from me, miss, I swear!” Lonny squeaked out. “Good.” Turning sharply, Miss Pembington walked out the door and back to the waiting carriage, leaving a faint trace of her earthy perfume behind. The carriage, filled again with its mistress, prepared to journey onwards. The breathless driver called out “Where to, ma’am?” and the passenger said, “I have an appointment, dear, we mustn’t keep the mayor waiting.” The carriage imagined that she smiled when she said that, her new hunting knife gripped in her palm.
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as the leaves turn holden etcheberrigaray She liked Spring, and I like Fall. An online personality test had once explained This mean she was an optimist, And I was a grim-faced pessimist. But anyways, I felt smart, knowing things like that. So she laughed, half covering her mouth with her hand, As I imparted my bit of wisdom. But in the end I admitted Spring was still The prettiest season with its Green and yellow and pink hues painting The drab slate-gray landscape. And she admitted that Fall was actually the prettiest, With all the trees catching fire and burning Orange, yellow, red. We agreed in solemn voices, (Sagely nodding our heads) That Winter was too cold and bare and Summer too hot and overgrown. We agreed, almost crying, that it was cruel (so cruel!) How Fall and Spring had to separated like that, Apart from each other, As if by jealous ugly lovers. We watched each other carefully to see if the other Meant the metaphors we spoke As real analogies. But our gazes missed, Our smiles thinned out into flat lines. Well, it was Fall then, And maybe I should have been happy, But I wasnâ€™t. The leaves twirled in the air, Falling slowly, gracefullyIn a way that looked like it wouldnâ€™t hurt. They fell to their deaths like Falling into bed. They lay on the ground, released,
Dying, twitching in the wind, Accepting their fate to be stepped on And ground into the pavement. I fell too, but it definitely hurt. I fell down the stairs, I fell from heaven, I fell out of my chair, I fell back, I fell fast, I fell in love, I fell into her arms. I wasn’t pretty or vibrant; I wasn’t orange, yellow, red. My brown hair was soft but limp, Like the dead leaves that are blown away Piece by piece by piece. I gathered up the brightest colored leaves I could find, Salvaging them from the sidewalks and Thinning grass, and presented them As a bouquet in decay. “What happened to your knees?” She asked, half-crumpling my gift in her hands. I looked down and saw what she meant; Beyond the hemline of my skirt, Both knees were a bloody, raw mess. I had fallen twice while trying to find her, And had simply ignored the stinging pain of ripped skin, Brushing off my dirt covered palms Without another thought. She made me sit down and carefully Picked out the tiny pieces of gravel, Mopped up the thin red blood with a tissue. Her bouquet, abandoned beside me, Slowly blew away in the wind, but I was too intent on her soft fingers Caressing the tender flesh of my knee, And the fact that she was taking care of me, To try to stop them from escaping. I caught the last leaf between two fingers, at least, And put it in her hair like you would Put a flower behind your ear. Winter wasn’t like we had declared it, Frigid and empty. It was too full of warm moments and laughter.
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Outside, I shivered endlessly, but It seemed more like an excuse To get her to take my hand, (My gloves always forgotten at home, Hers, conveniently, left behind as well) Our stiff, frozen hands intertwined, And between our pressed palms We created a little pocket of warmth That would not die out, Could not be swept away with the wind That stole our scarves and hats. How could we say Winter doesn’t have color? What about the raw red of her cheeks and nose and ears? What about her evergreen eyes? We’d run into her house with our teeth chattering And wrap heavy blankets and quilts Around us and lean against each other, Our peppermint scented breath Gradually warming that sleepy space. Even after the quivering had gone from my bones, My body would still shake; Now with a kind of anxiety, A kind of anticipation. Her wool sweater was rough against my cheek As I rested against her shoulder, And she smelled like cinnamon From the scented candles her mom put out, And because she had been baking. I wanted to know if cinnamon was also The taste of her cool skin and lips. Eventually, the dead trees came back to life And sometimes as we passed the blooms and buds, I saw tears in her eyes and her mouth formed A mysterious misty smile. When I asked what’s wrong, she only said Her heart was beating fast with the promise Of blossoming hopes and warmer weather. We gathered fallen cherry blossoms by the handful And threw them up in the air. We let them bury us like snow, only softer. “Do you still think Spring is the prettiest?” she asked. “No,” I said, shaking my head, “You’re the prettiest.”
Fall 2016 I expected her to laugh at the awkwardness Of my statement, call it corny, But she only blushed and turned away, Her mouth open as if she was trying to figure out How to reply, but could not. “I like you. I love you. Te quiero. Je t’aime. я люблю тебя.” I gave my confession in English, Spanish, French, Russian, Any language I could. She turned back to me, a pastel petal Stuck to her bubblegum colored lips. I reached out and took the petal, My fingers skimming the edge of her mouth. “You should kiss me,” she said, Her voice softer than I had ever heard it. And she didn’t taste like cinnamon; Something sweeter and lovelier instead. Summer was exactly like we had proclaimed: Sizzling hot in the sun, so lush it was frightening. But even then we were able to find oasis, Just as we had found warmth in the dead of Winter. We would sit by the pool in cheap plastic chairs, Eating ice cream that melted so fast It ran over our fingers, Turning everything into a sticky mess. We leaned against one another, Squinting in the glare, And it felt like we were melting into each other. Her sweat on my skin; My sunscreen rubbing off on her. We were hesitant to get in the pool Because the cement burned our feet, And the lifeguard was a sticker about running. But finally we would lock hands and walk fast as we could, Yelping with each step, Before jumping into the deep and Letting the blue-tinted chlorine water swallow us whole. A minute later we’d burst up gasping, Laughing and shivering slightly. Time seemed stagnant, Or else moments were melting together. There were three weeks I remembered As one sole scene:
Inklings Literary Magazine Us lounging on the cool cotton sheets of my bed, Waiting for the defective air conditioner to work, And fighting each other for time in front of the fan. But eventually the temperature dropped down To something more reasonable, And school started again. The vibrant green of the trees collapsed Into that orange, yellow, red. It felt like we had come full circle, Only I was happy this time, And not just because it was Fall. We raked big piles of fire colored leaves, And jumped in the center like little kids would. We buried ourselves under their vivid hues, Just as we had buried ourselves Under blankets and snow in Winter, Cherry blossoms and kisses in Spring, And several gallons of water in Summer. “This time last year, I fell for you,” she told me. “Me too,” I replied. I still had a faint scar From where I had scraped my knee. But if we had fallen last year, Over and over in a surreal kind of way, Every time we locked eyes, We were not falling anymore. The constant reminder of death in the deteriorating leaves No longer calmed me in that quiet way. I was a living thing, and she was too. So, we jumped out of the leaves and took off running, At first playfully chasing each other, Then holding hands, Our footsteps synchronizing, And we were running towards the next season, The next year, The nebulous future, And forever.
the butterfly effect jess greenwald On Monday April 20, James Anthony Collins died.1 It was, actually, the warmest day in quite a while. In the morning, he got the kids ready for school. His wife, Lila, still snoozed on her stomach, the morning light casting washes of gold across the planes and angles of her face. James touched her knotted hair with chapped fingers.2 Hesitantly, he bent closer and could smell the whiskey. He sighed, thinking of promises unkept. James made sure the kids were up. The boy, Isaac, was awake, blinking at his half-open window, the covers tangled around his waist. He told his father he would be up in a minute, and James smiled. The girl, Anna, was already getting dressed. She said so when he knocked. She sounded a bit hoarse. “Are you feeling sick, honey?” “No, I’m fine, Dad. I’ve got a big test today.” Sunlight poured like warm honey against the nape of his neck. “Okay. I’ll put out some Ibuprofen downstairs.”3 In the kitchen, as he rummaged through the medicine drawer for the allergy tablets and pain relievers, he remembered when he proposed to Lila. His heartbeat pounding in his ears, remembered her eyes like empty jam jars, the rainstorm when Anna was born. Later, Isaac ate his Honey Nut Cheerios forlornly. “What’s wrong, buddy?” asked James. He could hear Lila’s stumbling footsteps over their head, in the bathroom. The boy raised solemn gray eyes from his soggy milk. “Don’t worry, Daddy,” he said, so James ruffled his hair and rose to pack lunches. When he dropped the kids off at school, Anna blew her nose in the backseat, and James handed her a pack of tissues from the glove drawer. “I think I have a cold, or something,” she said stuffily, then sneezed. Actually, she had Strep C, a mutated virus different from the usual strain; it involved cold symptoms on top of sore throat.4 “Gross!” Isaac complained, scooting as far away from his sister as possible. 1 My state as well as his. Are we not all,all living things, mere phantoms, shadows of nothing? Sophocles, Ajax 2 I really need to stop biting my fingernails. I really ought t-3 She’s a better student than I ever was 4 Please see your doctor or medical technician if you have these symptoms within the last week. The CDC has released a memo that--
Inklings Literary Magazine After the kids had gone, James rubbed the smooth steering wheel. He had taken the car into the shop his friend Mateo owned last week because he’d realized they’d put another 50,000 miles on the car.5 He had forgotten to buckle his seatbelt. Last week, Mateo R. Valdez, the owner of Valdez Mechanics + had a sore throat as soon as he woke up. On April 13th, he woke up with a sore throat, Strep C given to him by his daughter, María, who got it from Ariella at preschool, who got it from her postpartum depressed mother, who got it from the co-worker she was sleeping with, who got it from his wife, and who knows where Strep begins, anyway? Mateo called in sick to work. He had recently hired June to answer the phones. His business was growing fast. June’s last job was at a motel, also answering phones. This was harder. She tucked her dyed-blonde hair behind her ear. She called Mateo’s back-up mechanics. They were all busy, sick. Strep, really? “It’s a plague, these days,” said her friend, Eleanor, when she called, adjusting her metallic purple glasses to the bridge of her overlarge nose. Jane’s cheap perfume made the air stiff. She coughed, then pumped hand sanitizer, rubbing her sweaty hands anxiously. Strangely, she thought about calling her mother. She thought about calling her ex-boyfiriend, Brian, except he was in jail. The back of her neck hurt. The clock ticked too loud. Desperate, she decided a little white lie couldn’t hurt anyone. A butterfly beating its wings.6 She called Brian’s little brother, who she knew could fix things here and there. It would be okay. Anyway, remember James? He was driving this car he’d just picked up from the shop yesterday. This car that Brian’s brother, Ian, had fixed up. Well, thought he fixed up, anyway. He actually accidently damaged the brake line when doing the oil change, and as James drove back to make sure Lila was okay, to try to convince her about rehab, they snapped. Just like that.7
(continued, page 19) 5 If your car is less than three years old and has fewer than 36,000 miles (or whatever the terms of your warranty are), mechanical problems will be fixed under the bumper-to-bumper warranty for no charge. However, this doesn’t cover wear items like brake pads, and your car will still need “routine maintenance” for which you will have to pay. Routine maintenance is most often oil and filter changes, tire rotations and various inspections. After about the length of your warranty, the routine maintenance often becomes more involved and more expensive. 6 In chaos theory, the Butterfly Effect states that a tiny change in a complex system can result in gigantic ramifications later. In Thailand, a tiny butterfly beats it wings. That small wind builds up across the world into a hurricane in Key West. And then, everything changes. 7 The boundaries which divide Life from Death are at best shadowy and vague. Who shall say where the one ends, and where the other begins? Edgar Allan Poe, The Premature Burial
The car spun on the road. He felt a yell torn from his throat. He turned the steering wheel wildly, pumping on the brakes. A van honked behind him. The car crashed into the medium. A UPS truck T-boned into the driver’s side. James’ body went into shock. His body rocketed forward, whiplashed, and his brain severed from his spinal cord.8 In the classroom, Anna sneezed. Her throat ached. She scratched a pimple on her temple. On the playground, Isaac played hopscotch. He grinned at his best friend, Peter. The day was warm. At the house, Lila puked again. She heard sirens outside on the street, speeding west, but she did not notice the fire trucks, the paramedics, or the policemen headed to discover her husband’s dead body. She wondered if James had thrown out all the booze yet. Perhaps it would take her headache away.9
8 To die:—to sleep: No more; and, by a sleep to say we end The heart-ache and the thousand natural shocks That flesh is heir to, ‘tis a consummation Devoutly to be wished. William Shakespeare, Hamlet 9 So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past. F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby
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post-mortem tori paquette “for life’s not a paragraph And death i think is no parenthesis” – ee cummings
I am wearing a teal eyelet dress with a skirt that spins out 40’s style. The neck is higher than I usually choose, but the elegant lines frame my waist into an hourglass I didn’t know I had. I know how my grandmother will react before she does. She coos over me, sings praises—as always, the perfect, proud grandmother. (The image isn’t happy. It should be happy. It should be a grandmother adoring her granddaughter, sharing family pride—simple as that. But when your grandmother believes everything is someone else’s fault, loses control over her temper and her spending and her drinking, poisons herself with the seeping stain of alcohol and can’t remember she’s told the same story five times—when every conversation is an excuse or self-depreciation or avoidance of the truth—she becomes the relative whose words you laugh at because otherwise it hurts.) I’m graduating, finally, in my pretty teal dress, with my family in the audience and party food waiting at home. Today is my day to celebrate with my homeschooled compatriots, my parents, my siblings, my grandparents. My grandmother is perhaps proudest of all. Her smile is for me, only me, as if she didn’t notice all the other welldressed homeschool students on the podium. She has seen me through every stage. She loved me when I was a diaperless baby with the same buttcheek-birthmark as hers, when I was two years old and lined up my baby dolls from smallest to largest and added my baby brother at the end, when I wore my father’s work boots coated with sawdust and Mr. Potato Head glasses. She loved me when I was a child who screamed with excitement to see her, anticipating the hours we would spend gluing paper crafts together. She even loved me when I was a teenager who remained distant, uninterested, kept conversations at surface level. (…because that’s all they could be. Because she didn’t want to talk about why she left every family gathering early, about the bottles waiting for her at home. Because she didn’t want to remember the New Year’s Eve when my parents drove her to rehab in Massachusetts and she decided she couldn’t stay, made them come get her on the one night they should have been celebrating with my brother and me. Because she didn’t want to acknowledge how often that scene had repeated itself, the detox in the hospital, the search for a new rehab facility, the frantic phone calls to come home until one day my mom said she wouldn’t pick her up any more. After the kicking, yelling, manipulating—“You don’t love me!”—she paid for her own ride home.)
Page 21 Each graduate takes the stage in turn, their parents coming alongside, diplomas in hand, with teary-eyed pride. Each has a story. Each gets to share a slideshow of their life, and as the images of my childhood slip by on the screen, I don’t have to look at the audience to see the smiles and tears on my family’s faces. One picture in particular I have selected carefully: my grandmother, my brother, and me in the safety of our home, arms around each other, happy, ignorant of anything that could ever go wrong in our world. (I told her to stay. I told her I wanted her at my graduation, my wedding, the birth of my kids—wasn’t that enough for her? Wasn’t I enough for her? I was fifteen. I was fifteen and I wanted to believe she could choose to stop drinking, to stop killing herself, to get better and live longer and become someone normal. To become my grandmother again—the magical woman of my childhood who always had boxes of crafts, tea parties for my dolls, and a new present for every occasion. The woman I thought I knew, but could no longer see, as if the veil of childhood had been torn away. The crafts were the taste of old ladies who liked naked cherubs and cabbage roses, the tea parties had been abandoned, and the once-magical gifts had become sparkly accessories I would never use. And the grandmother behind them had lost her creative spirit to conversations about her weight, the comfort of her yoga pants, the cars she backed into when driving at a not-quite-functional capacity. I think I knew she would never get better—and I believed it was her fault. Her choice. The drink, that sweet sapping away of her pain, of the little girl who never grew up past her father’s belt—she chose that drink over our family. Over me. But if she had only chosen differently…) She would give me a hug after the ceremony and congratulate me, and she’d laugh with that cackle that annoyed my mother—an annoyance my mother would later feel guilty for. Then she’d hand me a card with words that made sense and didn’t gloss over the tension, and there wouldn’t be tension, and her hands wouldn’t be shaking. Her hands wouldn’t shake and her skin wouldn’t be flushed and her muscles wouldn’t tenseand-release, tense-and-release as if, if they stopped, they’d never move again. (Peace like this only comes in death. But we never saw her peaceful: only contorted, purple, dirty in her own waste and three days gone in her own bed. Mattress still brand-new. My mom found her decaying and I never saw her at all. There was no peace. But I wish I could have seen her like that, finally still. Because without seeing her, she kept moving in my mind, kept laughing, kept buying ridiculous gifts and telling the same stories and pretending everything was fine while her body died around her writhing soul. Without seeing her, I never saw her free.) It’s my graduation and my grandmother isn’t in the audience. But I have one last, perfect gift. Two chandelier studs, blue and purple and teal: a pair of earrings found in her apartment as we parsed out her belongings. The only item with a name on it, a Post-It stuck to the jewelry box: Tori.
Inklings Literary Magazine (I wanted her at my graduation but I wanted a version of her that no longer existed. Not just alive, but free: free from the alcoholism that shamed her for so long, the childishness in every word, the hands that simultaneously clung to every crumb of approval and shoved away what was too hard to hear. I wanted my crafty grandmother, my fun-loving grandmother, the miracle woman I once believed in. But I never knew her free. And, until she died, I donâ€™t think she did either.)
what we were amanda schmidt I’m seven, running down the Big Hill in the backyard with my sister, slipping a little, stumbling, staying on my feet though, barely slowing down. It’s summer. It’s summer, and the leaves on the trees are all this bright shade of green, and I can hear dogs barking, and one of my neighbors is in her yard swimming. I can hear the splashes. My sister reaches the bottom first, sliding into the fence, laughing. I look up when I catch her, and we stand still for a moment under the willow tree, which, at seven, I imagine will grow to be very, very big, but which will never grow much past its current size, because it will die in the ice storm two years from now. I will be nine then, and the power will go out for days, and we will live in the basement because that’s where the furnace is, only venturing upstairs into the freezing kitchen to get food, only when we really have to. Outside there will be snow on the ground, but mostly ice—ice hanging from the trees so heavy they won’t make it to spring; ice layered on the ground in sheets, the kind you have to take tiny, measured steps on to keep from falling, so much of it that we will dare not go outside except to let the dog out to pee. Instead, we will huddle together and sleep on fold-out couches and play Risk in the basement by candlelight. I will cry when I lose as I cried every time I lost Risk or Monopoly or Mario Kart for years, frustrated tears welling up in my eyes, so much pressure building in my throat that I couldn’t speak, legs and arms shaking like they wanted to kick floors and table legs, bang walls and my parents’ chests, it’s not fair it’s not fair it’s not fair. Still, we would play games. When I was six and seven and eight, our grandparents and aunts would come over and we would sit around the big table and play poker. We would have to pull up extra chairs, because usually there were only four, and my sister would sit in hers, brown with spindly legs, and I would sit in mine, the worn white one with the wobbly leg and the stickers on the back, which would be bright and new and exciting at first, but which I would put on clumsily, so that they folded a little, and there were bumps and ridges along the should-have-been-smooth surface. One day I will be eleven, and I will try to peel those stickers off, those Pokemon and Yu-Gi-Oh and kitten stickers, those clumsily stuck stickers which will not come up easily. I will spend five minutes, ten, fifteen, working away at “Ice hanging from the trees the edges with my fingernails, occasionally thinking I’ve made progress, only to peel some tiny strip away, some so heavy they tiny, irrelevant strip. After twenty minutes, I will have made enough progress that they are unrecognizable. All that won’t make will be left are sticky lines of white paper and little slivit to spring” ers of dark color, the only indication that once, there had been pictures here.
Inklings Literary Magazine I was four when I stuck the first one on. It was of a cat, a little brown cat, because I was four and it was before the point in my life when I cared enough about TV shows and video games to ask for stickers of characters, and I loved cats. My mom and I drew cats on poster board sometimes. She brought me this poster board and we sat down and drew together. My cats were big and wobbly, with whiskers as long as their legs, eyes of two different sizes, tails which were very straight and thin, and coats of colors that cats tended not to be, like purple and green and my favorite, bright blue. My momâ€™s were small and dainty and realistic, and I, four, was constantly in awe of their similarity to actual cats. Years and years and years from then, I will be very good at drawing cats, but I will do it very rarely because I will be busy watching football games and having lunch at Panera with my friends and working at the childrenâ€™s library, where sometimes I will be given very sloppy drawings of cats or dogs or books. And my own drawings will be buried under stacks of paper in the basement somewhere, in the basement where one Saturday, I will sit down with my sister and her friend to play Risk. This time I will not cry when I lose. I will laugh. My sister will be back from college for the weekend, and she will be the first to lose the game, and her hair will be dark red. In another month it will be bleached blonde, and I will be sitting at the table with her, talking about something that happened ages ago, and I will suddenly try to remember what her hair looked like when it was brown and I was seven, and not quite be able to. â€ƒ
the mountains are cold michaela norman The mountain villages were always cold; even in summer, frost coated the windowpanes and crawled under the doors, and the girls wore thick petticoats beneath their skirts. The people here were cold, too, cold and backwards. My father warned me when we lost all of our money and moved to the mountains that children often wandered out in the cold and never came back, snow covered branches moving like living things to enclose them in heady darkness, heavy chill, sinking mulch. They said in the village that one could get lost in these mountains, devoured by them. They said they heard stories of creatures that could eat your flesh and left your corpse bone dry with nothing but a pair of teeth marks on your throat. They said a lot of things in this superstitious, highland, dismal village. They still believed in hanging garlic off of their rotting wooden doors until the whole world seemed to smell, and in putting coins under the eyelids of their dead. Last Hallows Eve, they had sacrificed a goat in the square to keep the bad spirits away; I’d watched from the sidelines as its snowy white coat became coated in thick, sticky red. I had taught myself how to shoot with arrows I whittled from soft oak trees—not that it was much use against anything other than slow animals, heavy bellied rabbits and singing birds. My real skill was the knife, the six inch one I carried hidden beneath my skirts, the ones made from scratchy wool that left red marks on my sallow skin, skin that used to become creamy with pink blushes and soft lotions and now was dry and brittle and hard. I’ve become hard, since coming here. I’ve learned not to flinch at the wail of a dying animal or the tangy, metallic smell of blood. The dirt bothered me in the beginning; the first few weeks I’d scratch my skin red raw with a cleaning brush, trying to pry out the darkness that had embedded itself into my fingernails and the cracks of my hands. Now I ignored the soil that pushed itself at my nail beds and erased my fate lines. When we’d still had money, my father had taken me to a psychic who could read palms; she told me my love line and life line crossed and ended rather abruptly, and to be wary of men with good teeth. The city had been glittering that winter we’d gone to the psychic, snow white and soft under the street lamps as we’d bundled ourselves into a carriage to another party. Back then, I would wear pearl necklaces, teardrop diamond earrings, pink crinoline dresses. I couldn’t stand the hot, engulfing, dampness of it all, though; the way the yellow rooms burned my retinas too bright to see things clearly, and the touch of clammy hands on my bare shoulders felt slimy. The wealth surrounding me seemed endless, in the blue sapphire rings dripping from the women’s fingers and the heavy gold coins passing discreetly from hand to hand as bets came and went. That’s how my father lost our fortune; betting every coin away until all we had were our bodies and the clothes on our backs, and even then, pink crinoline and silk can’t do you much
Inklings Literary Magazine in the real world. The man who took my father’s fortune and my inheritance had been cold, cold like this village, skin like marble, hardness creasing his features and capturing them in the look of a never-ending scowl. He kept most of his ace shrouded in darkness, the only faint light the flickering flames from a lamp that sat on the far side of the card room. But I remember that frown, the way his lips turned down into an almost snarl of distaste, as my father bet and bet and bet and my heart fell and fell and fell. Now, my father barely leaves the cover of scratchy blankets and won’t change his clothes. He’s a ghost on that bed, white and ephemeral and a pile of sticking out bones beneath stretched thin skin. He would refuse to eat, too, if I didn’t force cabbage broth down his wrinkled, dry throat because I will not be left alone here, in this cold mountain village. Fatten yourself up; I don’t like the crunch of bones. I walk through the forest sometimes even if there is nothing left to hunt; I like the familiar crisp, fresh smell of the snow untouched by footsteps and shining in the few rays of sun that have fought their way through the greyness that shrouds the trees. It is a deep grey, muddy grey, sunlit grey. It is the grey of his skin that seems to shine like a light is blasting outwards from within his bones; it is the dark glimmering of his eyes when he asks what I’d like for breakfast. He had emerged from the trees that day, by a rock I had claimed as a seat, like a ghost. I had been staring at the still water in a frozen over pond for over an hour, at the sludgy whites and yellows of the fish that moved below its surface. He surprised me. One moment I was alone, and the next he was there, standing by my elbow like some statue I once saw on a trip to Florence, and I could suddenly hear the train we’d taken chugging smoke and smell incense in the distance; but only for a moment. Then it was fresh snow and quiet again. I had tried not to start like some frightened animal. My grip went down to the knife that lay by my side. The metal would be warm against his skin, almost like the fire I’d started hours ago in the house for my father that would be burning into embers by now. I could push the blade up through his chest and into his heart in a matter of seconds, if he was unaware enough and I was fast enough; this was always unlikely. The way he looked at me was the way a wolf looks at his prey, eyes alert and mouth nearly salivating at the image of dead meat laid out before him. His eyes always seem to devour my image, even now, hold me hostage in his gaze. When he smiles, his teeth are crooked. I let out a sigh that puffed fog into the cold air. “I thought you were frozen, at first, sitting as still as that,” he told me in tones that sounded prehistoric, ancient, millenniums old. It was the rumble of the planes moving beneath the earth that made this mountain, and the rustle of the wind that had threaded through my hair on my way into the forest. For a moment I glimpsed flame-light throwing shadows on the wall, and then it was him again, just him. Just me. “I was just taking a break,” I replied, even though I didn’t know if it was true. It felt like a lie, scraping itself on the buds of my tongue as it tumbled from my lips. In truth, I didn’t know why I had taken a seat by the pond. I wasn’t tired; it was getting dark, almost
Fall 2016 evening. I should have started walking home ages ago. “May I sit?” he asked, and crouched without waiting for an answer. He was now my height, face a bare foot from mine, cold breaths mingling in the scant inches between us. He was still smiling, baring those crooked teeth. The canine is stuck almost sideways, folding itself on top of the others, all jagged edges, all sharp angles. Sometimes I like to push at it to see if I can move it straight; it never budges. His face is sharp angles, too, grey and shadows. His mouth is so pale it’s almost blue. I leaned back a bit, braced my hands against the rock behind me. The stone cut my skin, leaving its imprint behind. “You don’t smell like the village,” he noted, voice quiet in the stillness of the forest. The birds seemed to have flown away. “What do I smell like?” I breathed back, hands twitching so that my fingertips scratched against the graphite rock. He brought a hand to my cheek. His fingers were long and pale beneath the dirt. That day, he had soil pressed under his nails and pushed up against his nail beds. And they were cold, I remember, so cold, colder than snow and colder than the wind and colder than Hell. His eyes seemed to be filled with liquid, oil black; they spun within themselves and I grew almost woozy, entranced, swayed closer. His smile stretched wider. I’ll eat you up, I love you so. When he asks what I’d like for breakfast, we smile our crooked smiles and laugh and go hunting. In the few months I’ve been at his cabin hidden deep within the trees on the edge of the mountain, we’ve lured in our meals with nothing more than a smile from him and a helpless, wide-eyed plea for help from me. We take turns now; he knows I like the rush of it, the way their eyes pull wide like they never expected it, me, death, so soon, and the way their hearts skip faster, faster than a rabbits in the clutches of a wolf’s claws. Sometimes I ask for names; I write them down in a small book I keep on the table we break bread over, because I think I’d like to be remembered, if it came to that. I know I’m not, in the village; I’m just another nameless girl disappearing in the slew of other nameless girls, one by one walking into the forest and never coming back. On some days, I want to burst out of the trees, bare my teeth at their horror, and burn the whole place down. I want to watch the wooden houses become enveloped by flames, watch them crumble to ash beneath my stomping feet. I want to see if my father is still alive. But I don’t; his cold fingers and dark eyes keep me tethered, to this home in the middle of trees and silence. I’ve forgotten much of what I used to be—my name seems unimportant even as the girls’ ones seem like the end of the world, and my world ends just at the edge of these woods. I don’t like the color pink or cabbage broth but I can’t exactly remember why. When he frowns, when I’ve done something wrong like bitten into the artery so that blood sprays all over the house and we have to spend hours scrubbing on our knees to get it out, I get the niggling sense in the back of my mind that I’ve
Inklings Literary Magazine seen him before, before he turned me into one of him, before he killed me and started my life anew. It brings back the sound of gold coins rubbing against one another and the pull of creasing discontent in a room lit only by a lantern flame. But it only lasts a moment, before it is gone, just like everything else eventually will be as we watch generations die, change, live. And when they do eventually find the girls, it will be with two fresh bruises of lovebites on the side of their throats. â€ƒ
Migration natasha gallagher
Once a week, I have this dream. The two of us, a pair of birds. We’re perched in the middle of a violet sky. We sit on powerlines or wisps of clouds, the roofs of city skyscrapers or the sunburnt tiptops of trees where we almost disappear. You start to sing. Showtunes mostly. And then we leap into a breeze, soft and wandering as your whisper. Last March we were robins, rusty and grey and worn out by the winter, holding each other up, and just waiting, waiting, waiting until the top crust of the ice cracked, and the snow ran down in rivers to seep into the earth.
In the tallest pine we could find, we had built a nest out of faded old road maps and ribbons, lost forgotten things like mittens and dreams. And that spring, we slept there as the streets started to flood. The tide crawled up the tree trunks and erased the shoreline completely. Little silver-scaled minnows lived in our old neighbor’s garden, nipping at crocuses and wondering where the ocean algae went. And we watched from the air as a whale swam down the interstate, its belly brushing over the tops of old Honda Civics and Ford pickup trucks.
And the two of us, shaking water off our feathers. How blue and misty and still, this saltwater world. Everything around us submerged in the sea. But I told you that birds couldn’t be divers, afraid these new torrents might wash you away.
And once, for two whole months, we stayed scarlet tanagers. That’s the summer we flew for days, over whole towns and forests. Dipped into the Atlantic and traced our way along the coast. We soared over rows of pastel painted apartments, over smog soaked cities, where the air was heavy and hard to breathe. We perched on windowsills and tasted apricot pies in the afternoon and awoke on café awnings that smelled like cinnamon. We read poetry over the shoulders of students laying in grassy, sundrenched parks. Plath. Keats. Frost. We chased the sun as it unraveled along the horizon line.
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When we got to Arizona, the sky was on fire. We folded our wings and nestled amongst the branches of a juniper tree. The sun was burning too bright, melting the mountaintops around us. Rock faces dripped like wax, sinking into the desert sands like lost gold. The afternoon blazed, a kaleidoscopic inferno, colors seeping right out of the sky. Blinding golds and reds and fire ember oranges, pooling at plateau bases. New canyons eroded before our eyes, cut by rivers of light.
And the two of us took to the air, following those carved-out ravines. Swooping along the shorelines of rainbow-flecked rivers. And then the animals, slowly, slowly, they came out to drink. A deer fawn slid down to the edge of the river, swallowing daylight, turning its coat the shades of a sunrise. I looked over at you and you had turned into a phoenix. I could already see the flames leaping in your eyes and I was afraid you’d burn up all at once.
Tonight, tonight, I dream of us again. We become nightingales at midnight. And when the moon is full, we begin to sing. For hours on end, we play with the crickets and the wood frogs and the moths. Someone plays percussion. Someone strums a harp. An old toad croons this ballad that sounds like a wish being made and feels like breathing together.
Slowly, or perhaps suddenly, the music stops. When we pause for a breath, we see the world has gone silent. The sun and the moon have long melted away. And we stare at each other and we stare up above and we wait for a morning that doesn’t want to arrive. All around us is ink, dark as the bottom of the ocean. All around us are stars, a billion blinking fireflies, dancing around the sky. The night shimmers like an oil spill, flashes like fish scales, like sparks from a fire.
And the two of us, we swoop into the night and skate between the stars. All this darkness, dizzying and boundless and not dark at all. There’s you, so close here, in the glittering dark. There’s us, racing each other among shooting stars, alive, alive, alive. And there’s me, asleep, in a place without wings, somewhere far, far away.
Black and Brown vasiki konneh Have you ever witnessed black and brown children dancing in the rain? Have you ever witnessed black and brown children painting the base of their feet with the wet earth they were born from as they move to the rhythm of the rain pattering around them? Have you ever witnessed their laughter rolling off their tongues and spilling between the gaps in their teeth? I have. Black and brown children dance to the ovations of the storms supported by their own screams of excitement. Black and brown children dance shirtless as the clouds roll above them and the rain licks their ebony and hazel skin. And in those moments, I can not only see the beauty that exists in black and brown, I can feel it comforting me. â€ƒ
Inklings Literary Magazine
The Last TIme crystal lee The first time he heard her say his name, it was their sophomore year of college. When they met, he held out his hand. “Adrien. Nice to meet you.” She shook it, her palm cool on his. “Adrien,” she said, committing his name to memory, her smile a polite curve. “Nice to meet you.” He wondered when the last time he heard her say it would be. It wasn’t– When they started to meet during lunch, when he tossed a crumb at her or pinched her cheeks with dirty fingers, and she would shriek, “Adrien!”, her mouth pressed into insincere reproach, laughter still shining through at one or two tweaked corners, and his heart would beat a little faster. It wasn’t– When they were studying together and fell asleep on her bed and she shook him awake, her eyes half-closed, the air around them still in a rare, warm moment of peace, and she said, “Adrien,” her voice husky from sleep, and he yearned to pull her back next to him, to let them lie there forever, but he instead rose and returned to his dorm room, cheeks flushed and eyes closed to preserve the soft comfort of her bed and her skin. It somehow wasn’t– When she found him sneaking back into his room next to hers, his breath heavy with alcohol and his head dizzy with bright lights and dance music, his face and neck stained with smudged makeup, she leaned against her door frame, arms folded, eyes narrowed. “Adrien,” she’d said, tongue shaping and spitting out his name, and he remembered that he’d promised to take her to the town that evening, that she had said it would be…special. He flinched as her door slammed against his outreached hand. It wasn’t– When he broke his arm, ripped the ligaments playing rugby. She was next to his hospital bed, cradling his hand between two of her own. “Adrien,” she’d said, her frown small and sad, and it tore at his heart like the fall had torn at his arm, and reminded him of something he’d been trying to ignore for far too long, and he leaned over and kissed her for the first time. It wasn’t– When she called him on Christmas Eve, her breath shuddering through the phone. “Adrien,” she’d said, and then her voice broke, spilling her heavy grief through the phone lines, and that night, time zones and insurmountable distance were almost erased as he listened to the sound of her falling asleep on the other end. Thank goodness it wasn’t–
When, in front of a Ferris wheel, the lights twinkling in the warm night, he knelt down on one knee. “Adrien,” she’d said, her mouth trembling, with the fear of losing him, he learned as they lay in bed later, limbs curled around each other. Not a no, but a later, and that was enough for him as their lips touched and their love filled his heart to a wonderful breaking point. It wouldn’t be, couldn’t be– When they were pulled apart, her departure his departure all coming too soon, and she’d said, “Adrien.” He memorized the compressed line of her mouth a dam against the river behind her eyes, the promise in her voice, the see-youhopefully-soon kiss that ached on his lips as she walked away. Is it?– When they left each other, standing too far apart in a frozen train station. “Adrien,” she’d said, her mouth set and eyes sad–no promise this time. But it wasn’t the last time he heard her voice say his name–he heard it all the time– When he replayed her voicemails. “Adrien.” Her laugh. When he missed her, her voice indelible in his mind. “Adrien,” and the amused quirk of her mouth. But then, years later, he impossibly, improbably, unbelievably, finally saw her, recognized her profile after years of pasting it onto the bodies of strangers, when he crept up behind her, pressing his finsgers into her sides; when she spun around, eyebrows raised in indignation, falling silent when she saw. “Adrien,” she said, and she was smiling, and– It wasn’t.
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A Morbid PacE jay huskins Slowly. Scared in the liminality. It will happen, though not soon. Not for another hour or so, though an hour’s so vague sans a clock for company, sans any man for company. Counting breaths, try to make them slow. But the inhales quiver in chops as unsure lungs fidget in their box. Not yet now, but soon it will be soon. Just another length of the night. Possibilities and improbabilities, make the meanings fall into doubt. While aching eyes scour hour by hour trying to figure it out. It may have been longer than it might seem, though the end may be no closer. Yet every rapid beat of the anxious heart, marks a new moment, closer than the last. If only imperceptibly so. If only time raced like the mind for “if only’s” come too fast. And seconds, so gradual, everything’s trapped in the past. The space no better. The breaths no calmer. And despite such fastidious focus, the abstract remains no clearer. And so it goes on, indefinitely inevitably closer to-- the end.
Fall 2015 Page 35
Jess Greenwald '18
Kathleen Carroll '17
Vice Presi dent
Jay Huskins '19
Crystal Lee '20
Michaela Norman '20
Holden Etcheberrigaray '20
Tonayo Crow '18
Vasiki Konneh '20
Maddy Wendell '19
Amanda S c h m i d t '20
Olivia Balcos '20
Natasha Gallagher '20
Tori Pa q u e tte '2 0