Élan Spring 2013

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Élan

Spring 2013


This issue is dedicated to the teachers who sparked the love of writing for our staff and countless students in and outside of Douglas Anderson. Thank you for your wisdom.


Élan Staff Editor-in-Chief: Emily Cramer Assistant Editor: Jenn Carter Web Editor: Jamal Parker Assistant Editor: Ian Burr Art Editor: Sarah Buckman Assistant Editor: Maddie Muller Art Liaison: Lydia Hayes Poetry Editor: Raegen Carpenter Assistant Editor: Ashley Zapot Fiction Editor: Kiera Nelson Assistant Editor: Darcy Graham Nonfiction Editor: Emily Jackson Assistant Editor: Sarah Powell Public Relations and Marketing Katie Finn Makenzie Fields Haley Hitzing Margaret Mauldin Proofreading Team Makenzie Fields Sarah Bisplinghoff


Table of Contents Finalists Hippo Ayla Charipar 1 Dormant Volcanoes Christina Canuto 2 Fantastical Self Portrait Jada Robinson 5 Lightning Peter LaBerge 6 Wonderland Jada Robinson 7 An Intimate Reading Veenaya Lalmansingh 8 Shooting the Wendybird Emily Leitch 9 Dual Maddy Hill 10 Deferred Kara Singletary 11 Moose in Traffic Perri Schellenberg 13 Silkscreen Flowers in Vietnam Sara Smith 14 Jay Fairbairn, this is your only invitation Emma Symmonds 15 Venus Reclining Alex Sheppard 16

Fiction Jesse Alex Sheppard 17


Table of Contents The Everyone Slide Raegen Carpenter 18 A Loss of Touch Emily Cramer 21 Untitled Jake McVay 22 Teleology Emily Cramer 23 The Art of Time Fixing Emily Jackson 26 You Don’t Mind Veenaya Lalmansingh 29 Born Free Alex Sheppard 32 Dark Corners Jordan Pagan 33 Emilia Sarah Powell 36

Poetry Over & Over Steven Adams 37 The Nothings (How I Deal with Pain Using Satire) Steven Adams 38 Frida Alex Sheppard 39 Death in a Church Elizabeth Apple 40 Morning-Skin Elizabeth Apple 42 Creation Dakota Minnie Boyer 43


Table of Contents Underpinning Kyle Drury 44 Sailboats (A Context) Raegen Carpenter 45 Trailer Park Aubade Jenn Carter 46 Butthead Kyle Drury 47 Lessons Emily Cramer 48 Pavement Dreams Summer Cuevas 50 Canada Zoe DeWitt 51 Communist Daughter Alex Sheppard 53 Unconcious Anatomy Haley Hitzing 54 Vultures Jesse Hollett 56 Fantastical Self Portrait Rebecca Miles 57 Pigeons Talk to the Man on the Moon Emily Jackson 58 Skull Print Ayla Charipar 60 Becoming Exene Karros 62 Oklahoma City Bombing, 1995 Peter LaBerge 63 Carolina Clint Phillips 68 Metamorphosis Peter LaBerge 69


Table of Contents God Speak Margaret Middlebrooks 70 Fernsehen Alex Sheppard 72 32 Weeks Alana Rollins 73 “I don’t want any kind of love anymore.”- East of Eden Dackary Saig 74 Six Planets Down Sofia Sayaf 75 Untitled Kaylee Doherty 77 Neighborly Alexondra Stuckey 78 Fenster Alex Sheppard 80 Until it Rains Murielle Telfort 81 The Luminosity of a Nova Morgan Walker 83

Nonfiction Birthday King Dillon Arthur 84 Coffee: Society’s Accepted Form of Crack Shamiya Anderson 85 Void Alex Sheppard 86 Because Their World is Flat Stephanie Thompson 87 Sun Rotary Trey Asner 88 Imaginary Memory Emma Symmonds 89


Finalists


Hippo Ayla Charipar 1


Dormant Volcanoes Christina Canuto

When I was very young, I remember stepping in an ant pile. I was traipsing over the splits in the sidewalk. My tiny toes tickled the edges of the cracks where plants fought their way through, itching to breathe. I don’t remember the steps leading up to the pile, nor how fast I ran back into my reality, down the hallway and into my mother’s room. I only remember how I was once so very peaceful, letting the sun coat my eyelids and the wind kiss the nape of my neck, and then- burnings, opened dormant volcanoes, and a thick lava oozing out of my pores. Unmanageable. Adonia had always been strange. I picked up on this when I first visited her house and she showed me the baby pictures, the hoards of diaries, and the sketchbooks of foods she could not eat. In all her baby pictures, she was fat. Her mother called it “cute.” Adonia made her put them away. Later in the night we snuck downstairs and she took them all out for me again. She asked me to help her cut them up, and we did, with little pairs of children’s safety scissors, snip snip snip, and then we put them in a pan and turned the heat up. The eyes swam apart, the mouths opened, the skin tones melded together like heated oil pastels. The body parts dismembered. The pieces curled at the edges like crippled fingers. And the entire time they made a shrill noise while they fried, like the sound of a little girl screaming. “Just try it,” she said, pushing the black stick back in my mouth. It was a cigar. Her thumb caressed the tip of the lighter, until a flame shot from the mouth. I pulled the cigar into my hand. It smelled like my grandfather’s hair did when he used to pay me to pull the budding gray ones from his scalp. After I had sucked the cigar head for a couple minutes, my skin began to prickle. My pores looked like naked duck skin, pink and supple. “I don’t like it,” I said. “It makes me feel funny.” “That’s why I like it.” “We’re not even supposed to be out here.” I gripped the railing of the dock. The wet wood looked almost black. Adonia rubbed her sneakers together. They were soaked in previous rain and glass blades licked the bottom soles. “Well you can’t just always follow the rules,” she said. We went back to the house and slept. When I woke early in the morning, I found her in the kitchen, rearranging soup cans by calorie count. “What are you doing?” I pushed and pulled on my eyes like cold clay, trying to warm the sleep out of them. “The crackers and cookies are alphabetical.” “The condiments are arranged by color.” “The fruits are grouped by size.” Her eyes went wild, and not even then did I understand.

Once I found her in the empty bathtub, curled like a fetus. 2


“What’s wrong?” I asked. “Just pills,” she said. “I took too many.” They were laxatives. She hadn’t eaten. Her mother took her to the doctor. The intestines were swollen like warm meaty sausages, dripping with acid instead of oil. They were pushing nothing. Her stomach screamed for her to STOP. Adonia lived on the beach. We often walked down the boardwalk and laid the closest we could to the water. But the waves were still today, like schoolgirl tongues gently licking the shore. It was a great day for canoeing, so we rented one for an hour and paddled out. “Should we lay in the bottom of the boat?” Adonia plopped down in the belly of the boat, with her head in the center. I did the same. Our heads touched, the light and black hairs swimming together like ethnic lovers. The water rumbled like a hungry stomach. “My parents told me they’re separating,” she said. I suddenly felt the warmth of her hand on mine. It was frail, wrapped in nervous sweat. “They told me last night after dinner. It’s happening soon, I can feel it.” “My parents are already divorced,” I offered up. “It’s nothing big. Everyone has single parents now.” I squeezed her hand tightly. “Maybe it will help you fit in more.” The other kids at school didn’t like her. They talked to her, hugged her, and the boys even kissed her. But they never liked her. She could feel it in their bated breath, waiting for her to stop blabbering. Her mind bounced from the walls like a fresh ball of sticky tack, only stopping suddenly in certain places. She could feel it in the whispers into her ears, always talking about someone else, but really meaning her. “Maybe,” she said. She peered over the edge of the boat. “Diana, look!” I gripped the edge of the canoe, my fingernails scratching on the wood with a grotesque noise. The water was speckled with jellyfish: the light pink of baby cheeks littered across the sea, soaking in the sun. They surrounded the canoe, floating in the water, their eager tentacles timidly touching the water’s surface. “Let’s touch them,” Adonia said, her eyes wide with excitement. “Are you crazy?” I shot back. “You’ve gone completely insane.” But she was already leaning over the edge, fingertips filled with energy. “Just the tops.You can’t get stung from the tops.” She laid her palm flat on the pillow of the jellyfish’s back. “It feels like eyeballs, like giant pink ey-” And before she could pull her lips back to squeeze out an “e,” she was flailing. Her arms widened like all the pictures of Christ, and she fell splashing into the water. The canoe rocked to her side, but luckily I was leaning more towards the opposite, so I never fell in. A horrid sound emerged from the floating spectacles, like the sound of bacon frying. Adonia’s head pushed out of the water- a pimple of the sea- and gasping for air as she grabbed the boat’s side, and I lifted her in. “Get them out,” she shrieked, her fingers lacing around the sides of the boat. Jellyfish entangled all throughout her long hair, their arms wrapped around her like wet seaweed. I didn’t know what to do except to scream. The lifeguard heard me, and paddled to us. It took minutes. I couldn’t move. She tried pulling the masses from her hair without ease, and they adhered like 3


tumors. She screamed in sickness. They had to cut off all her hair. Weeks later she was in the hospital because she had simply stopped eating. They had to force feed her though a tube. When she was bad, they ordered protein shakes. When she was good, she was still bad. I cannot explain to you the progression of which she lost weight, or how fast her skin went from eggshell to pale to sallow. But I can tell you, it was because she played in the cracks.

4


Fantastical Self Portrait Jada Robinson 5


Lightning Peter LaBerge

Hold me in the soft of the wave, the way you would a sunset. I am a sunset, sprawled across the runnel of sheets holding light where it matters most: my breasts, two lonely Pacific buoys. Thunder twists the sky into a perfect jetstream while you slip into the tide of sheets, the tide of a flesh that isn’t yours, to pretend your fingers belong where you put them. The innocence of the flash, the way it snapped like a bone: fresh and quick.

6


ArtWinner

Wonderland Jada Robinson 7


WritingWinner An Intimate Reading Veenaya Lalmansingh

I gave you flirtation disguised in pauses that lingered in my sentences but you spat upon my broken lines, you’d rather simple words running from an end to a middle instead of a beginning. I gave you a sixth sense, you were able to caress the ambiguous. You fixed your eyes on intangible images, you placed your fingers gently upon the curves of my stanzas, tracing the pattern of my syntax, you didn’t stop at each break, instead your fingers ran in between each line. But you could never fill your hands with the substance of each word even used to construct my body even though I undressed my flirtation, slipping into simple diction.

8


Shooting the Wendybird Emily Leitch

When I was seventeen I lay in the middle of the road with you. Second star to the right, you said. Remember? Second star to the right and straight on ‘til morning. When I was eight you were the boy, I was the darling and New Mexico was all of our Lost Boys. I took my mother’s sewing needle and hinged your shadow you your boots. We built Neverland from the long forgotten landscapes, the abandoned deserts, Fairies giggled from the forest behind your house, their laughs like rusty wind chimes in the breeze. We did believe in fairies, we did. We pinky swore never to grow upbut when I was seventeen you whispered nervously into the nightTo die would be an awfully great adventure, Wendy. Don’t you think?

9


Dual Maddy Hill 10


Deferred Kara Singletary

Months ago, “If I don’t get in we’re getting Chinese. If I do, Thai.” Settled on Pan-Asian takeout instead, snuggles between dark city campuses. Two blocks away enough for each space beyond corners to reveal its own corners and shops. The sky’s dull tinfoil does not blend so perfectly that skyscraper tops disappear in distant edges of this patch of world. I want to tell the well-dressed man who hands me my food: no one thought this bag (plain white speckled with cherry blossoms) delicate, rather, they thought it capable of more than rightly wrapped eggrolls. A bag of this caliber deserves hearty servings of hand cooked dedication and overflowing boxes of rice. Years from now, this bag remains empty decoration. Hard facts set in stone: neatly lettered, green and pink spattering 11


their own opinions. The food is long gone. Snowy mountains of rice not unconquerable. For now, this menu unfolds infinitely page upon page of countries offering their own chance to choose. I can’t escape these tasks before me so let’s celebrate blank slates, empty futures. I never anticipated standing just inside an entrance smelling rich wisps of maroon straining to see a list blurred by crisp possibility.

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Moose in Traffic Perri Schellenberg 13


Silkscreen Flowers in Vietnam Sara Smith

Flames burst in the sky, pink periwinkles blooming in the bloody night of war. Sparks flare, short lived lives bursting across a black screen. Like waterfalls, they stop for no one. I stare up, gun held against my chestI watch flowers wilt, hitting steam pot shells that dot the ground. They sing songs to the tualangs and mangroves, burning like sunsets. Petals dive down, mourning over empty helmets lying in swampy mudded fields.

14


Jay Fairbairn, this is your only invitation Emma Symmonds

We share this bed, I swear we doWe climbed this whole mount ain. A few days ago I was listening to your music (i’m sure your voice has all the cadence of the rain and matt berninger) I stuck myself under our covers and curled into a tight, tiny ball on the corner of our bed and I clutched my lifeline to you- although you were sleeping And in that little cocoon I made I sweated the night away, laughing and shaking and smiling and I swear music has never rung so true. (you have never felt so close as when i belted vienna and my noise crashed our thin walls and you were singing, too)

15


Venus Reclining Alex Sheppard 16


Fiction


Jesse Alex Sheppard 17


The Everyone Slide

Raegen Carpenter

Annabelle thinks she is the boss and I don’t know why. She learned how to write her name first, and the moment she could remember to put the second “e” at the end of her “belle,” it was already etched sloppily on the top of the slide tower, in a fat black marker she had stolen from Ms. Ogden’s desk. She stands up there every day at recess, looking out over the playground like she is at the top of a lighthouse, searching for boats. She holds her hands above her eyes, inspecting. “I am the queen,” she says, placing a wreath of grass and flowers on top of her head. “The playground is mine.” My mom says that no one can own a playground. She said that if anyone owns it, the teacher does. But it sure doesn’t look that way when Ms. Ogden is sprawled out, sitting at a picnic table with her head down on folded arms. She’s a good teacher, I guess. She has a wide smile that covers most of her face and a purse with alligators on it. She likes the letter “p” and when we learned about it, she brought in pancakes and popcorn and pineapple. She also likes reading stories in circles—that’s what we do every day before dismissal. When she calls us to come in from play time, she stands with tired eyes and puts her hand in the air. We line up single-file and wait for her to stop yawning and tell us to begin walking, one after the other, like soldiers. Annabelle always insists that she is the line leader. “Everyone follow me,” she smiles slyly with satisfaction. No one argues with her though. We collect the balls and bats and the shovels and pails and follow her in, watching as her blonde braid swings from side to side. My school shoes are dirty and my pants have holes in the knees. My school hair is messy and it hangs in my face, peppered with brown freckles. My best friend’s name is Ron. He is the only kid that dresses like me, but his hair doesn’t fall—it sticks up in the back. We only really talk to each other when we’re sitting at the lunch table, mouthing words in between bites of peanut butter sandwiches and sips of luke-warm milk. He doesn’t talk to me in class on account of the fact that his parents make him get good marks or else he is not allowed to stay up at night to watch the new episodes of Andy Griffith. The Andy Griffith Show is his favorite. When he grows up, he wants to have big ears and a deep laugh just like him. He’s already half-way there. He has the ears. “What I don’t get,” Ron says to me through sniffles, “is how she got to be the one up there. Boys do playground stuff and that’s it.” I shake my head in agreement with his words, scratching my finger along the bottom of my styrofoam tray. I think about the movies I have seen and the books I have read—in all of them, the boys are the ones in charge of everything. That’s how it is in the rest of life, too. That’s how it is in marriage and businesses and driving. Boys are the ones that get to do things first. The lunchroom is noisy and I can’t hear myself when I speak. “What if… what if we took back the playground?” Ron laughs at me and I don’t understand why. “You and me?” Then he looks over in Annabelle’s direction, where she is sitting with her group of girls, all with flushed cheeks and pinned back hair. “It wouldn’t be hard,” I say. We came up with a plan, talking out loud and motioning with our hands to show just how things were going to go, as if rehearsing for a puppet show. 18


The next day, Ron and I sit together on top of the sand hill. This is our territory, where we sit every day. Sometimes, other kids come and sit with us. But mostly, it us just me and him, scanning the yard. From here, we can see everything and what everyone is doing. In the far left, some older boys are playing basketball, working against the younger ones in our class. To the far right, there are chalk-drawn hopscotch games. In front of them, the swings, where each day Molly McGuire spins herself around and around until her face turns red. One day, she is probably going to throw up from it. Then, the last thing to the left, across from the swings, sits the jungle gym. The slide is in the middle of it, rising above like the tower of a castle. Its shiny red plastic reflects the sunlight and I have to squint when I look at it for too long. Attached to the slide, coming out like a drawbridge over a mote, are the monkey bars. To gain access to Annabelle, you have to swing across each one, yellow and slippery. If your hands fall, you don’t get a second chance—you have to come back the next day and try all over again. I can feel the marker poking my side from the inner pocket of my windbreaker. The sun is out and big, but there is a chill in the air. Every now and then, gusts of wind fly across the park and threaten to stick sand in my eyes. Ron nudges my shoulder. From the corner of my eye, I see Ms. Ogden sleepily stand and wave her hand toward the sky. Annabelle descends from the tower, blonde hair dangling in rivets from her face. Her mouth is held in a straight line, eyes squinting on her destination—focus. She marches over to the teacher, begins the line. Ron and I dart to the slide. We skip the monkey bars and hop directly on to the hard, plastic step to Annabelle’s throne. We duck behind the holed walls for cover, looking like army men scouting their kill. “You do it,” Ron pushes me to where her name is written. The feeling of his hand is hot on my back and I wonder if it leaves an imprint. In one, fast motion, I cross out her name. The marker almost slips from my hands with perspiration, but I grip it tightly, making a fist around its shape. I stick my tongue slightly out of the side of my mouth, concentrating with all my might. I just have to remember what the letters look like and that is all. I have to remember what they look like and then make them with my hands. On the top of the slide, above Annabelle’s scratched out signature, I write something new. I write Sam. * * * Biking to school the next day, everything feels surreal. It was almost as if the world is tingling beneath me. When I pass the playground, when I see it from behind the chain-link fence, I can’t help but turn my head. Somehow, it looks bigger, greater than before. It was reaching above the sand now like a mountain parting its way from beneath the sea. I knew it is different. The classroom closes me in. Ron keeps looking at me whenever the teacher takes a pause between her sentences. I keep shaking my head at him, rolling my eyes. He is going to make it obvious before it happens. Annabelle sits in the front row, raising her hand at every question, head held high and hair piled on her head like a princess. She doesn’t know. It’s going to sneak up on her. Her pencil breaks in the middle of that math lesson, right when Ms. Ogden asked what the answer to seven plus two was. She stands and sharpens it, but she can’t get it back to a point—just a rounded nub of lead. When the teacher calls us for recess, everyone goes out like normal, skipping and bobbing their heads side to side with laughter. But Ron and I lag behind. The reflection of the sun seems to shift throughout the whole school yard, enlightening everything in its wake. Everything looks fresh, new, alive. Annabelle reaches the top of her fortress within seconds and stops cold. She stares at the writing 19


and tilts her head to the left. She finds us in the yard, sitting high but lower than her, on the hill of sand. Her eyes become slits. We nod and look down immediately, continuing to draw pictures with our fingers. She walks to the teacher, pokes her on the shoulder, asks if she could go inside. And she does, all by herself, disappearing from the afternoon. After we get out of school, I walk to the slide to take another look at what we have done. The ground has the tingling feeling again, and it feels almost like nothing has actually happened, like I have been suspended in a dream. My name is crossed out, alongside Annabelle’s. All that is left of us is two black boxes, unevenly drawn and colored in. But, there is a new word, right above where our used to sit. It is bigger, thicker, greater. What was there instead said, “Evrywun.” We only know how to spell our names.

20


A Loss of Touch Emily Cramer

William lost his fingerprints when he was five. One moment he was sitting in the backyard, marveling at ladybugs on blankets of grass and the way the wind swept in from the east. The next, he felt a numbing sensation at the tips of each hand. He looked down and watched as each maze, each line, each mark of identity faded until his fingers were blank. His mother kissed every one and told him it was okay, that the same thing happened to his father. She told him how his father lost his prints; it was hereditary and she was so sorry. He could not feel her lips. He never told anyone, keeping his hands in his pockets on the playground, refusing to pet the class hamster. He didn’t tell his neighbor Ruby, who constantly asked why he didn’t like to hold her hand anymore, and why he didn’t want to touch her pet frog. He didn’t press his hands against his mother’s back anymore when she embraced him. He didn’t play on the jungle gym with his friends, didn’t plunge his hands into silly putty in science class. When William was thirteen he lost the prints on the pads of his toes. He stood in the backyard in the grass after the sun submerged into the deep of night. He looked up and saw Orion’s Belt, clusters of stars forming the shape of a man and lion. He’d learned that the pinpoints in black were long dead. These were just their once-weres, their ancient pictures, their cracked Polaroids forgotten in a box. He couldn’t feel the blades bending beneath his feet, or the scratch of a dead patch. He curled his toes, wishing the swirls to return. He prayed to God for the twists and circles of a galaxy to fall on his fingers if any had some to spare. His mother found him curled on his side, his hands outstretched and his cheeks wet with tears. When he was sixteen, Ruby took his hands in hers on a summer night and asked him to touch her cheek, to hold her like Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall in To Have and Have Not. She asked him to feel her hair because she’d curled it just for him. She told him that he was the only person she loved, because they’d been together since the beginning. William laid his fingertips against her neck and she began to cry. “I can’t feel you,” she kept murmuring, her hands desperate against his arms. “Where did you go, where did you go?”

21


Untitled Jake McVay 22


Teleology Emily Cramer

It began to rain before sunrise on the day you died. My mom told me I should stay in my bed and read This Side of Paradise again. She said I should drink tea, sleep, breathe a bit. For a moment, I wanted to. I wanted to press my spine against the wall and curl my feet in the blanket, to turn on the lamp and run my fingertips across words on pages. I wanted to forget about school, about classes, graduation requirements. I wanted to forget about the fact that I was leaving in a few months and you were leaving too. My mom said I needed a day where I didn’t come home exhausted, my eyes outlined in faint red. It’s not that she didn’t like you. She worried about how close you and I were. We were from the moment you moved in across the street when you were eight and I was seven. She warned me that those we tie ourselves to are ultimately torn from us, and we are left with broken skin and hurt. I wanted to stay home that morning, but you needed me. You never told me, but I knew. The drive out to the treatment center was just under an hour, and at a stoplight I swore I saw you. The way you used to be: tall, tan, a head of dark curls, eyes the girls at school wrote poems about. I stared out of my windshield until your phantom disappeared into the fog. I arrived at the treatment center just as the rain got worse.You told me that it wasn’t really a place where they’d try to cure you. It was a place to keep you comfortable. The nurse at the front desk smiled at me, but her eyes stayed flat and I knew that she had spoken to your doctor before I arrived. His name was Dr. Lion and I remember one Sunday morning when you closed your eyes and wished for him to devour you like you were a zebra and he was the animal his name suggested. I remember how sincere you were and I got scared, like I always did when you said you had accepted what the doctors told you six months ago. The nurse told me to go on in, that you were watching cartoons. I nodded and waved at the security guard because no one ever waves at him and one night he let me stay with you. I entered the elevator and remembered that night, how your skin turned to oil and you began to slip through my fingers. I remembered how your eyes became fire and you pulled on my hand and asked if I would stay, please, would I stay. I told you I couldn’t, I had a Geometry exam in the morning, my mother wouldn’t like it, your nurse wouldn’t like it. Then you began to cry. I’d seen you cry like that before, when we watched a movie about penguins.You turned to me with tears falling from the cliffs of your cheeks and whispered how sad it was that penguins can’t fly, and all they’ll ever know is the white expanse of the tundra. That night in your room at the treatment center, your tears became my own and I had to press my palm against my mouth to keep silent.You moved over in your bed, your hands tangling in the tubes attached to your nose. I gently unwrapped them from your fingers. “Please,” you whispered, and I laid down. I remembered how you rested your head on my chest, one of your arms snaked across my waist, palm fitting to the curve of my ribs.Your skin was so warm and I began to think, “this is it, you’re leaving, you’re going, you’re gone.” I put my arm around you and prayed that the theory of teleology wasn’t real, that everything didn’t have to end. 23


I pulled myself from the memory, blinking rapidly. The elevator doors opened. The nurses at the station looked up, smiling as I passed. One of them nodded and I knew. I paused, looking over the signs attached to your room number. “Liquids Only,” “Fall Precautions,” “Family Only”. The last one was unnecessary.Your mother and sisters stopped visiting you as much when the doctor told them how much time you had. When we found out, she asked me to step outside. Her eyes filled with the world and she told me that she couldn’t watch her son die. She couldn’t pretend like she didn’t remember all of your baseball medals, your report cards, Polaroid photos of you taken every Christmas. She asked if I would stay with you because you needed someone. I said yes. “Why did this have to happen to him?” She asked me. “Out of every teenage boy in the world, why him?” I didn’t have an answer. I walked into the room to find you propped up against a mountain of pillows, your legs covered in thick blankets. “Hey,” you said. I could barely hear you over the rain. “Hi.” I crossed the room, placing my fingers in yours.Your eyes met mine and the corner of your mouth quirked up, like it used to when you would tell me about a good movie or book or song.You didn’t look like a boy on the cusp of adulthood.You looked so young and I got lost for a moment, remembering the time we rode our bikes to the hill at the edge of our neighborhood and looked out across the valley below. I remember that you touched my elbow and told me you loved me.You said I was the only person you would ever truly care for, the only person you would tell your children about if you ever had them. I remembered the time when we sat in the back of your truck, the mix CD I made for your seventeenth birthday drifting out to us from the stereo. “Do you remember when I hit you in the face with a basketball?” You looked at me with that quirked smile, your ankle locked around mine. “I had stiches on my cheeks for three weeks.” I grinned. “Or the time when your little brother threw a frog at my little sister?” “I swear he didn’t mean to, it was for a science project.” “That’s what they all say.” You laughed and looked at me and there was something behind the dark green of your eyes that I couldn’t quite place. In the treatment center, you looked at me like that day on the hill and that afternoon in your truck. “I know,” I said. You smiled and patted the bed. I sat. “How’s life?” You ran your thumb across the top of my hand. “The usual,” I said, picking at a loose thread on the blanket. “Anyone ask about me?” “Tons.” The look in your eyes told me you knew I was lying. “I used to watch this cartoon when I was a kid.” You nuzzled into my shoulder. “We used to watch it together. Do you remember that?” “I do.” “Tell me about it,” you pleaded. I rested my cheek on your bald head. “Every Saturday, I came over in my unicorn pajamas before everyone woke up and we ate Cap’n 24


Crunch and watched cartoons.You wore your alligator slippers and made me swear never to tell anyone that you still had them. Looney Tunes was your favorite. Bugs Bunny always made you laugh.” It was quiet then.You breathed softly into my neck and I tried to force the lump lodging in my throat from moving any higher. “Will you stay?” You looked up at me. “Yes.” “Do you promise?” “I swear.” I pressed my hands against your shoulder blades.You lifted your head and kissed my cheek. “I’m so sorry.” Your eyes closed and your breath quieted. Outside, the rain turned to snow.

25


The Art of Time Fixing Emily Jackson

We are standing somewhere between two and three o’clock, our bare feet darting in between stagnant gears. The old timepiece was taken down from the top of the bell tower in 1984, and left to rust in the fields across from Mr. Miller’s windmill farm. My mother said that it used to be the center of the city, where schoolgirls gathered on Saturday afternoons and young farmers went to meet their wives-to-be. Now it lays in scattered pieces across damp grass. The minute hand is pushed deep into layers of forgotten land, orange rust falling to the floor like toxic snowflakes when the younger children try to pull it from the ground. A once-gold winding key lays tarnished at Little Jenny’s feet. She picks it up and presses it to her back, spinning it in jerky circles as if she were a wind up doll. The clock deteriorated with time, piece by piece slipping into a state of tragic disrepair. By 1986, rust had consumed the weakly gleaming parts. The following year, the glass facing shattered, and a family of bunnies burrowed between the suspension spring and pendulum. I often grasp the fragments in my fingertips, hold them close to my chest, and then skip them across the dying field as if I were throwing a pebble into the ocean. Now, as I lift a rusted gear, my feet sink into the cool grass; my body grows heavier with the weight of one thousand memories in my palms. I set the gear back down in its indent in the dirt. Green stains scar my callused heels. Mother will wash them away later tonight when I return home. For now, I look out into the mechanical graveyard, mourning the escape wheel, the pallet screws, the mainspring barrel, all buried under ten years of time and disjointed memories. Mother brought me here once when I was four. She pulled me by my hand, squeezing chubby fingers as she led me through the field of forgotten afternoons and propped open textbooks (the schoolgirls only pretended to read as they waited for young farmers to gather up enough courage to approach them). She walked slowly, bending down to touch a rusted part every few feet. Her hands felt different here. They were smoother, younger. Calluses and lifelines seemed to melt into her palms. Our fingertips stuck together as we moved through the summer heat. Beads of sweat streamed down Mother’s face. Or maybe they were tears.Years have blurred the memory. “Mother,” I said, tugging on her sleeve, “Why doesn’t the clock move anymore?” “Because,” she paused, wiping her face with the back of her hand. “With time, dear, all things stop.” I remember her words as I stand with the neighborhood children, fingers intertwined. We are circled, spinning around the orange minute hand. Our voices float in the heavy air; our bodies collapse on the grass. Scrawny legs sprawl in all directions, and we lay back. We sing, humming tunes from our childhood.Years ago we decided that this field was for remembering, so we skip out to where broken clock lays and reminisce about yesterday, the day before, the month before, the year before, the lifetime before, until there is no more time to remember. Daddy told me once that time can never break, never stop, but as I look out at the field of broken bodies, I realize that is not true. The month is October, and the weather is cool. We wear fleece jackets and frayed jeans rolled up to our ankles. Wind picks up our hair and carries it to the clouds, along with sweeping flocks of dead grass and dandelions. Some of the children, the older ones mostly, are no longer humming. They watch birds, airplanes, daydreams pass overhead, hopeful eyes grasping at dispersing sunlight. A shadow stretches out across the grass, curving over the bodies blocking its path. I prop myself up on my elbows and follow the slim figure to the stout one that stands above it. A man holding a black medical bag approaches, grass crunching under his heavy footsteps. 26


“You should not be here, children,” he calls out, flipping open the pocket watch hanging from his shirt. “An operation is scheduled for this hour.” “An operation?” Little Jenny questions. “Mister, this is not a hospital.” The man sighs and slips the watch back into his pocket. He sets his black leather bag on the ground and opens it up, removing screwdrivers, wrenches, tweezers— “Mister, this is not a hospital.” “I know little girl,” the man says, straightening the row of tools on the grass. “I am here to repair the clock.” “But the clock can’t be repaired.” “Can it not?” “No, Mister. It has been dead for too long.” “I can fix any clock,” the man said, removing his tweed coat and placing his spectacles on the tip of his nose. “The art of time fixing is a mastery that deserves to be performed in a hospital, little girl, yet I am here in this child-infested field.” By now, the others are propped up on their elbows as well. Some of the older observers stand protectively in front of the younger children, whose heads peak around tree trunk-legs to get a look at the unusual scene. The man is still rummaging through his black bag, seemingly unaware of the sea of bright eyes locked on him. Finally, he stands and begins gathering the rusted parts in his arms until they pile high enough to cover his face. He brings them over to his bag and spreads them out above the row of tools. One by one, he picks up each piece and peels the rough rust off. We watch as the flakes fall to the ground for the last time. After he reduces the parts to a vulnerable state of nakedness, he pulls a fine tipped brush out of his bag and painstakingly paints each one with shimmering silvers and gold. I stand after a while of watching and begin to walk the field myself, searching for forgotten parts. I move slowly, eyes scanning the ground for abandoned memories, just as Mother did years before. I pick up splintered glass and split metal and cradle them in my arms. Loose screws go in my palm. Rust and mud soil my white t-shirt. I try to brush the stains away, but they only smear. I walk the parts over to the man, and place them on the ground. “Thank you, Miss,” he says, looking up momentarily from his painting. I continue to stand over him, watching his steady hands skillfully return each piece to a state of shining newness. The others watch me questioningly from a good distance away. The man, noticing I am still blocking his sunlight, looks up again. “Would you like to help?” he says. I nod my head. “Here,” he hands me a large gear. “It is important that you don’t peel the rust over the freshly painted pieces,” I turn the device over in my hands “Go slowly,” he says, looking back down at his work. “The clock is already stopped. There is no use rushing to keep up with frozen time.” I nod my head again, and move to a grassy spot a few feet away. Some of the other children are standing now, gathering piece from farther away. A pile soon forms in front of the man and me. The younger children circle around and help me peel rust, while the older children help paint. The man takes the dry pieces and uses his tools to fit them back together. The glass facing is shattered beyond repair, but the man says he will return tomorrow with a replacement. After a few more hours, the sun sitting low in the sky, we finish. 27


“What will we do with it now?” I ask, admiring the mammoth clock lying in the grass. “Nothing,” The man says slowly. “I just couldn’t stand to see time stopped.”

28


You Don’t Mind Veenaya Lalmansingh

“Double vanity. His side, her side,” she said to the realtor. “That’s not mandatory,” he said. “It’s a need, not a want,” she said. The realtor led the couple into the master bedroom, the last room of the apartment that needed to be checked out before the couple decided on purchasing it. The young woman looked around the room, inspecting every inch, making sure it was big enough for a king size bed and a large dresser. The young man looked around the room, paying careful attention to the carpet, the walls and the ceilings. He searched for a flaw, a speck of dirt on the carpet, newly spackled walls because that meant that the walls were weak and he had no intention of making renovations. “Where’s the closet?” The realtor led the young woman to the closet while the young man examined the walls, making sure the paint wasn’t chipping. The closet was inside of the bathroom, the bathroom with the double vanity. “His and her sinks, that’s a plus,” she said as she walked into the closet. “This is nice, but it’s a pretty small closet for two people.” The realtor led her out of the closet and into another room. She realized she was standing in the second closet, full of shelves and a built in dresser. “This is mine,” she said as she walked out of the bathroom to find her boyfriend who was inspecting the base of the walls. “I want it.” “The paint job looks cheap,” he replied. “We can repaint it, but I want it.” “It’s over priced; we can find a cheaper place with a nicer paint job.” “A cheaper place, with a nice paint job and one vanity and one closet and a master bedroom big enough for a twin sized bed. I want this one.” “What’s the smoking policy?” He asked the realtor. “There’s no smoking allowed in this building,” the realtor answered. “Did you hear that?” He said to her. He gave her a minute to respond but she was silent. “We’ll take it,” he said to the realtor. A few days later, the couple had settled in. They laid on their brand new mattress together as the young man stared at the old popcorn design on the ceiling and the young woman thought of things she could add to the apartment. “I think this bed needs a headboard,” she said. “I feel like it may chip the paint,” he answered. “But it’d make the room look nicer.” “We don’t need a headboard. When you go back to school and I go back to work, it won’t matter.” She got up from the bed and walked into the bathroom, “my closet looks really empty,” she said as she searched through outfits to wear. “Well, would you like a headboard in the closet too?” He asked. She ignored him as she carefully replaced the ring out of her newly pierced bellybutton; it was the first time she took it out. 29


“Isn’t it a little too early for that? You got it done a few months ago.” He asked as he watched her from the bed. “I don’t care, but this ring looks nicer than the other one,” she said as she finished getting dressed. “Where are you going?” She paused as she put her red platform heels on. She knew she didn’t owe him an answer; he wouldn’t do anything if she ignored him, but she answered him anyway. “Headboard shopping.” While she was gone, he wondered if having a headboard would make her happier with the place. He knew she was content, but he also knew she wanted more. He thought of painting the walls a more soothing color instead of the chipped dingy white that it already was. Then he remembered, he had no intention of renovating the place he just moved into. He began to doze off as he felt cold hands upon his skin. “I found one,” she whispered as she curled into his arms. “How much is it?” “Don’t worry, it’ll be here tomorrow.” “Why is your inhaler in front of the clock?” He asked as he shook her sleeping body. “Answer me. You know I had work this morning and your inhaler was in the way of the time. I’m late for my first day back.” “I had nowhere else to put it,” she said. “The dresser you wanted so badly is big enough for your inhaler to sit next to the alarm clock as opposed to in front of it,” he said. “I’m sorry.” “Apologize to my boss.” Later that day, the doorbell rang, she rolled out of bed in her silk nightgown, her hair was uncombed and she didn’t bother looking in the mirror before she went to answer the door. Her headboard had arrived. There was no one at the door to help her carry it in like she expected, which is why she wanted her boyfriend to stay home today so he could install it himself and she wouldn’t have to call someone to help her. She knew he would be tired by the time he came back from work. She knew he wouldn’t have the energy to install a headboard. She closed the door and walked back into the bedroom and picked up the phone. “Is it too heavy? Do you need my help?” she asked. “No, you’ve seen me lift heavier objects before,” the man answered. He struggled to get the headboard inside of the door, scratching the paint on the door frame. He saw what he did and kept walking. “Don’t worry about it; I’m having this place repainted anyway.” He followed her to the bedroom. “We might have to move the dresser out of the way, I don’t want to scratch anything else,” the man said. “It’s fine, like I told you before.” “Is it okay if I take a break?” “Yeah, sure.” The man reached into his pocket while staring into the young woman’s eyes. 30


“You don’t mind, do you?” the man asked. “No, I never did.” He lit the cigarette while she stood right there, watching him. “This is a pretty big place you have,” the man said. “Yeah, I couldn’t go back to small places.” The man pushed the cigarette butt into the dresser. “You don’t mind, do you?” “No it’s an old dresser anyway.” She stays in the room with him as he assembles the headboard. He didn’t need supervising and she knew that. He knew that as well. She watched every nail that he screwed in place and every piece of wood that his fingers caressed. He watched the way her nightgown clung to her body when she thought she wasn’t paying attention to her, but she knew he was watching. In less than an hour, he was finished and the headboard was in place. “Thank you,” she said as she handed him the cash. “I refuse to take money from you,” he said as he lit another cigarette and got closer to her. “You don’t mind, do you?” “I never did,” he replied as she took the cigarette out from between his fingers and put it out on the dresser. She pulled his body closer to hers, wrapping her arms around his neck. “You were right, the room looks… more full,” “It looks…nice. Expensive, but nice,” the young man said. “Oh, it wasn’t that pricey.” “Did you assemble it yourself?” “No, I paid someone to do that for me.” “That sounds… more expensive.” She walked off and into the bathroom, ignoring his response. He began to walk out of the room when he noticed something looked off. “I hope you didn’t spend too much of my money on their careless job. They chipped the paint on the doorframe,” he said. “We can repaint, right? No big deal.” Later that night, the young man made sure nothing was in the way of him getting to work on time the next morning. He decided to avoid the issue by creating a his and her side of the dresser, since it was more than big enough. While rearranging, he noticed the black dust on his side of the dresser. He touched it, and fondled with it between his fingers, trying to figure out what it was. He finally had the courage to admit to himself… it was ash. “You can repaint the place any color you want, I don’t mind. It’s all yours,” the young man said as he placed all of his items in the bedroom into a box. “We can leave it how it is.” “I’m leaving it dingy and chipping, I’m sure you wouldn’t want to stare at this every day.You have to live here, not me,” he said as he cleared the dresser and began moving it to push it out of the door. “You can’t take out the dresser,” the young woman said. “You’re right. I don’t want another man’s ashes,” he said as he took his hands off of the dresser and moved toward the headboard. He placed his fingers on top of it and began to yank the headboard off of the bed. The nails weren’t strong enough to keep the headboard in place.

31


Born Free Alex Sheppard 32


Dark Corners Jordan Pagan

The long coat wasn’t enough to protect me from the angry hiss of falling rain, drenching the street in a sheen of wet, cold, and slippery; every surface a reflection of another reflection, everything a trick of the light. Cars trudged up and down the narrow drive, kicking at puddles, and droplets swirled like flurries. What little strips of sunlight did spill beyond the dense grey clouds above did little to save us from this shimmering darkness, moving quicksilver at our feet. We were a garden of overwatered sprouts, roots clawing in hope of finding a dryer perch. One wrong turn had led me through this unfamiliar stretch, though a promise kept my feet moving swiftly. I worked harder to keep my own coat on my shoulders. Then I spotted it – there, just at the end of the walk, right before a bend that led down some other god-forsaken alley. A small library. Or perhaps it was a bookstore? I wasn’t quite sure, but remembered the place – a faded image from an old memory, one of a field trip that had taken us up this road and into the store. Hurrying forward, miniature ponds swirled beneath my damp feet as I stomped up to the door, peering inside through a glass window revealing the interior. At first all I could notice was my own face – frowning, with raindrops hanging on the stubble on my chin, making my hair curl into a knotted mess. I ran a hand through it, spending a minute fixing the curls, trying to look as presentable as one could when they were doing an impression of a drowned squirrel. Looking beyond myself, I saw it was small store indeed, dark but with warm lighting at the front and welcoming bookshelves. I moved to open the door when something else caught my eye. Buried in a corner against the wall of the glass window and nearly out of sight was a girl, a young teen with a book in her hands. She’d situated a few pillows and blankets to cover her. There was a chair between her and the window, but her eyes were bright and staring straight at me – in other words, quite difficult to miss. She had her chin rested on the weaving of the chair and a smile on her lips, but there was a mischief, as if she was daring me to enter the store. I pulled the door open and stepped in. It was like stepping across two minds – one awake, the other sleeping, suspended in a warm, dark purgatory. I strode into this quiet limbo gratefully, frowning at the water I was dripping onto the carpet. The door closed behind me with a jingle. Sounds from outside – people shouting, splashing water, gulping drainage pipes – were muffled by glass and wood. Just as quickly as the two minds had become one, they were separate again. There seemed very little to observe from inside. Aside from the furniture and the girl, there was little more than shadows and dust. From where I was standing I thought I could see the very faint outline of a staircase, but my intent was not to snoop. I pulled my drenched coat away from me and settled with standing beside the desk. I wasn’t too sure of what to expect. Hopefully an adult. Not to talk to, no, but perhaps they could stand between me and the girl – another adult to give me distraction, so I wouldn’t have to notice the way the girl was staring at me so intently. My work clothes – a sharp suit, blotched and ugly now, stood out against the tepid interior of the book store. All around the desk was a grainy auburn light. It seemed to touch everything but me, leaving me cold and my edges dull. “Looks like a vanity moon tonight, huh?” I pursed my lips. My eyes flickered to the girl, still huddled up all warm and innocent in her little 33


corner. Her chin had left the chair and she was sitting up now, arms visible, book closed just enough for a thumb to mark her spot. I didn’t intend to speak. My mouth opened. “I’m sorry? Looks like a what now?” She smiled very gently. “A vanity moon. My mom told me about them when I was little. She said that the moon is very vain and always likes to look down at itself on the lakes and ponds of the earth. But sometimes it can’t see itself, so it manipulates the water and makes it rain. When the clouds part, it’s like staring down at a big mirror, and the moon can see itself.” The story was odd and I chose to say nothing, though I could not help glancing towards the windows, suddenly interested in whether or not the moonlight was visible yet. Fresh and constant sheets of rain still fell. My hands shook – I resisted the urge to shove them into wet pockets, instead setting them on the desk, hoping a light bulb might warm my trembling fingertips. “You can sit here, if you’d like,” she said quietly. My gaze turned toward her. She looked like a curious bird, all owl eyes and stillness, with quick, easy breaths. Her body was thin, her skin olive and smooth, with a tiny cloud of freckles spotting up and down the bridge of her long nose. Her eyes were dazzling amber. My feet took me to the chair, but I didn’t sit. My hand somehow found hers, shook it politely. “My name is Gilligan,” I said. “Gilligan Miles.” “That’s an odd name,” she said, and her nose wrinkled childishly in thought, and she patted the seat beside her. My body maneuvered to rest in the wood of the chair. “I like it, though. It reminds me of the ocean and sunken treasure and giant octopuses. Have you ever been to the ocean?” My head shook. I stared at the dark corners beyond the bookshelves. “My name is Heather. Heather Rohnstine,” she said with a smile, mimicking my formality. “My mom owns this store. She’s upstairs right now though, asleep.” Heather paused. “I was supposed to put up the closed sign. I guess it slipped my mind again.” I looked at her. She had gone back to reading her book, a picture of comfort. I slipped off my shoes, setting them beneath the chair, and removed my vest, trying to give my undershirt some air. The dry air was finally beginning to seep into my wet clothes, the light drawing crisper outlines of my hair and fingers as I rubbed them free of cold. Outside, the clouds parted, and I turned my head to see the reflection of the moon looking down on a wide, lonely street, glistening silver. Its face caught every stray raindrop, winked at each dirty puddle. Out there was all sharp angles and harsh light – I turned back to dark corners and soft, blended colors. “Where are you off to?” she asked, not looking up from her book. I shrugged, leaning back into the chair. “I left work without meaning to go home.” “Where do you work?” “Just an office building. I work with computers.” “Do you make a lot of money?” “I make enough, I suppose.” There was a sound, somewhere – a low thudding coming from above us. Heather saw me look toward it, and she said, “Don’t worry, that’s just my mom. We live upstairs. She’s probably just woken up and is looking for something to eat.” “You both live here?” “Yup!” A sudden energy sparked between us, and Heather pulled herself out from her cocoon. She was tall, despite sounding so young. “Oh hey, since mom’s awake we’ll probably have dinner. Would you like to stay and eat with us? I’m guessing you won’t want to go back out into that weather, right?” 34


I allowed myself to consider it. Heather looked down at me with a kind smile, blinking eagerly, encouraging me to stay. I wondered why she’d be so eager to have a stranger join her and her mother for dinner. Standing, I rolled up my sleeves and checked the time on my watch, its face foggy with wet and cold. I couldn’t tell the time. It hung suspended in that sparkling mist, soaked and broken. I frowned because I remembered the watch being very expensive. “If it’s alright with your mother, I wouldn’t mind some food. Thank you.” Heather beamed. She moved to grab my wrist, but then thought better of it, pulling back and simply passing between the bookshelves, diving headfirst into uncharted territory. “Come along then, you can meet my mom. She’ll be glad to meet you – we don’t often have visitors.” Her voice drifted away. After a second of hesitation, I followed, stepping between bookshelves and out of sight.

35


Emilia Sarah Powell

Her favorite color would have been pink like the blush that flirts beneath newborn flesh. Her eyes would have been anything but blue. Her hair would have grown long and yellow and might have reached an off-shade of dirty blonde by the time she became a woman. She would have been frightened by darkness at first. Every evening, she would have gone about the house just before sunset closing blinds and drawing curtains and when I might have asked why she did this she would have said, “Because I don’t like to watch the sun bleed.” Her favorite book would have been Goodnight Moon. I would have read it to her every night, and when she learned to recognize the letters and call them by name, she would have read them to me. I would have been proud. When I walked her to the edge of our dirt driveway to see her safely onto the yellow school bus, I would have thought to myself, What a sweet, beautiful creature that I have created. Her childhood would have died when the white rosebuds fell from their stems. It would have died early like mine did. She would have run to me, sobbing, a ruined pair of flowered panties clutched tightly in her fist. She would have asked me if she were going to die. I would have tried not to laugh or cry when I took her to the bathroom, helped her clean herself, and explained to her what it meant to be a woman. I would have been afraid that she might not understand. I hope that in my last years with her, she would have asked me things—things that I was too afraid to ask my mother; things that would have saved me a wealth of heartache had I had the courage to go to her. I hope she would have wanted me there to help her pick out her wedding dress, and when I pushed a little too hard for the one I envisioned her in, I hope she would have been patient with me because I wouldn’t have understood. And I hope that when she would have had a little girl of her own-- a sweet, beautiful creature with lips like her mother’s and eyes any color but blue-- that she would have loved that girl as much as I would have loved her had I not boarded this plane.

36


Poetry


Over & Over Steven Adams

In Rainbows, light comes pale, comes soft and strong; the silk from the spider on the hairy palms of leaves. In Rainbows, Light leaves in patterns; shifting; clashing against one another, dying & living, over & over. And so it comes forth marching through airborne diodes, shooting hardening warmth in every direction. And so it falls through windows of stores, churches, and homes, in union with the mold in the dust. And so it rests on your hand, like an incandescent, delectable cyst.

37


The Nothings (How I Try to Deal with Pain Using Satire)

Steven Adams

I suppose Jesus was still too hung over to know (to care) about what you told me that day. He was likely licking newly opened & salted wounds in the instep of his foot. You spoke and all I felt was his acid blood resting on my back; I felt cold nothings, I said nothing more, I walked back home listening to cars, the people, the waves otherwise nothing to you.

38


Frida Alex Sheppard 39


Death in a Church Elizabeth Apple

The security man on morning rounds saw him slumped against the brown quarry stone archway dead? dead? but also saw his chest rise and fall beneath blackened cloth and grocery bags asleep he thought asleep, okay, go on the man wondered, prickled by the false thought that had glimmered death in his head I bet dying feels sticky he pictured disentangling from his eyes or hands and then kept going kept unlocking kept flicking on the lights until a woman climbing the church steps in quick shoe-clicks found him on accident cold dead slumped beneath blackened cloth and grocery bags quite unmoved and she screamed when death glimmered in her hands in her head 40


sticky like tape residue and she couldn’t even think one thought only pictures of him his eyes and hands dead, dead the heartbeat thrummed in her chest funny how they all die waiting to be saved asleep, okay, go on

41


Morning-Skin Elizabeth Apple

Her fingers fumble through the dark, catch hold of her morning-skin, and work to zip her in her hands pull new fabric up the railroad tracks that are her back to dress up someone else for breakfast but she can’t forget how last night she shook when he asked her to keep goinghow she shook and said yes and she let his big arms hold her and she let his dark eyes touch her everywhere, it was everywhere and it didn’t feel good to her, but it was supposed to, right? Everybody else must be waking now opening eyes to remember their own last nights and they do much better hiding ho this feels how afterwards feels they must not mind this taste in their mouths and the shaking, God, the shaking they must be better sacrificers than she they must be better because they’re not sewing new seams or painting new faces from inside the dreams, they are happy with last night’s moonshine decisions, aren’t they? this is no good morning-mind for little girls, this is no good memory

42


Creation

Dakota Minnie Boyer

Stay under our darkened canopy watching Luna rise slowly she guides your gaze away from pulsating street lamps, cars colliding on intersections to us. Take solace where we, nebulae, spill out our old topaz blood shades of lilac and lavender engulf void, handfuls of newborn stars blazing garnet scatter across our figuresthese beauty marks. You may hear us while Sol rests. Once your limbs had been strung together with Sol’s silver stardust, it rests inside your young bones, take in our origins – the endless abyss. Luna fades now in west she kissed you before enveloping in honey yellows. Street lamps shut off, cars are gone. We are all created within the nursery of darkness.

43


Underpinning Kyle Drury 44


Sailboats (A Context) Raegen Carpenter

I knew a boy once who told me about sailboats, recited facts like the pages of an Atlas, pushed memories into me as though they were dictionary definitions for the word- summer Sundays spent with his grandfather, the man who taught him the way waves work. It’s all about how you can navigate the boat, he said: 1. pull strings to push sails up or down, left or a little right- material shimmies, shakes. 2. allow wind to turn the ship in directions written about only in weather reports- people laugh, drink. You can’t see the end of the ocean. It’s not like land, it can’t stop.

45


Trailer Park Aubade

Jenn Carter

Last night your smile had a yellow haze of “good old days”, the sunset over the drugstore making out by the dumpster, our initials scrawled on the belly of a metal beast fed on empty beer cans. This morning Stevie lyrics bring back memories beneath barnyard cobwebs. A slow dance to the hum of moths orbiting fluorescent moons. You touch my hair, nibble my ear and I I shake you off an indefinite hangover. We stare out the window. A series of white trailers stand at attention like rusted submarines, and you salute them with your naked frame. A pink tricycle wheel still spins. A mutt chews last night’s take out. A patriotic bird house with chipped paint is vacant.

46


Butthead Kyle Drury 47


Lessons Emily Cramer

Emily Dickinson, Edgar Allen Poe, Robert Frost taught me foundations, see the morning through the eyes of a doe watch for ravens in trees ride in sleighs through forests their words twisted through soil, roots from which I grew. William Shakespeare taught me to swim beneath surfaces of ink, asked Ophelia if she’d help me breathe underwater, told Katherine and Portia to teach me to be woman, let Hamlet show me to wield a sword of speech. Taylor Mali taught me to split my life into thirds: daughter, writer, historian taught me to see it all as a ripe orange sticky between my fingers, membrane breaking against my tongue. Nikki Finney taught me to wear my hair as I please, these double X chromosomes strengthen my spine, make me steel, never let anyone tell me I can’t be a poem on a fresh page wrapped around a fish. Patricia Smith taught me thirteen ways to see thirteen, do not be afraid of flood waters filling gaps between skyscrapers, remember New Orleans: where I learned to see the world in words. Al Letson taught me to inhale letters, exhale syllables 48


when I play like a girl I will win like a woman push poetry through my lungs, understand onomatopoeia is oxygen. I taught myself to pull poems from my pockets, cast them into the night and watch them turn to nebulas, birthing stars amongst the planets to fill the breadth of the universe.

49


Pavement Dreams Summer Cuevas

I used to watch the moon chase me down the highway from the backseat of your car. Watch rain drops race across windows always rooting for the one that was losing. Play the alphabet game with myself because I always won. I could trace the path from your house to dad’s on paper. Tell you what turns to make when, how to avoid long, endless lights. I paid attention to landmarks and dad’s face when it was time for the weekly switch and he knew how I felt. Pavement strips were the only concrete thing for me because no matter where each of you moved, the highway never left me.

50


Canada

Zoe DeWitt

Their shaking lights blend me pale, blinded boats filter into the dragging lake, and you are among the valedictory waters, where they lift us two, cover our pirouetting souls with such a cold flurry of silence open your currents, cross the flat lilies, flowers that hurry in to bathe with the trees, go from this acidic snag, this cynical world, and let the evocative dark swallow those brittle words, obstinate wishes given by devoted people, too focused on advising you

51


let the sirens of the simmering shadows bring you expressionless here; I want to see the way your full hands grip for the astounding roundness of the stars while we drink, show me your spirit, because I’ve always pictured it like leaves, falling, floating, through the cut-paper harsh grit of little sandpaper men is it still worth the oars we lost the night you told me black isn’t as infinite as it appears to be? Do you remember the way the fishes swam through their blackness, strands of my hair touching their scales? you must not

52


Communist Daughter Alex Sheppard 53


Unconcious Anatomy

Haley Hitzing

With one swig of an eager hand, it travels through the nostrils, and into the procerus, directing the eyes. Maroon liquid drowns the edges of the esophagus, tumbling through the pool of stomach acids. It sits in the anterior surface, soaking every inch, of every vessel, slicing through the spleen, tainted by ethanol swimming in the pancreas. It plummets in the gallbladder, mixing with levels of sucrose, undetected unseen, fighting off white blood cells, dominating the ring. Fouling each vital artery, like dirty water in a devil’s stream. False fantasies full of slurred accusations, shaky fingers pointing at a woman with your wedding band, falling loose on her left hand. Pure nostalgia creeps in, your father stumbling to the bounce house, on your eighteenth birthday whiskey on his breath, 54


images overwhelm the cerebrum, clouding its vision with every guzzle.

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Vultures Jesse Hollett

Easton Street Paper shipping company is on the corner of Rot and Weedly road Ms. Berry signs in guests beyond her is Mr. Brown who makes the best coffee I sit in the center of the officenext to Edgar Edgar’s arms are hams which marinate his greasy sweat his hair is red and thick like ground beef curls intertwining like his fetid fingers Edgar has shuffled trenches into theso it seemed natural when he was escorted out of the building by a man wearing a white coat peeking out of his box was a picture of a porky woman When I came back the next morning everyone laughed over fiery hot chocolate about how Edgar had tied the Christmas Bow of a Noose around his neck and hung himself in a butcher’s window

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Fantastical Self Portrait Rebecca Miles 57


Pigeons Talk to the Man on the Moon Emily Jackson

We sit slumped on telephone wires, electric eyes watching cars weave in and out of five o’clock traffic. You wonder what it would be like to rise high enough to touch hopes caught in low-hanging clouds from five foggy nights and fifty daydreams ago. The Man on the Moon tells us it’s too dark to fly, so instead we wonder where the end of the road fades. We watch red cars silver ones bro ken ones race down the highway, yellow lights streaking black night. He taught us that five is the number of sleep, stillness and being stuck. Silence f a

l

l s. and you ask me, 58


Where do the cars go?

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Skull Print Ayla Charipar 60


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Becoming Exene Karros

And this is how you shall begin: a gull-throated engendered gem cast in a symmetry to form a myriad of fragile connecting bones. You are rather a flawed creation, prepared only with the promise of endless rain and romantic mystique. Half-mast, you soar not unlike the ebonybrushed raven, as eternal hands floating above your mass. Preparing for flight, you are bound by mobile circles of serpentine thought and bitter fruit, which beckon to a reality. You are silent observers, sea-encrusted and antediluvian as your earth. still the unnumbered days fall in interchangeable layers and you are nine months and waiting‌

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Oklahoma City Bombing, 1995 I. Molly Sue Rutherford, onlooker. Everybody makes mistakes, does things they don’t mean. I saw the putrid skies of Oklahoma light up and sink back, retreat, puddle into themselves, passing ash as relief rations to crevices inside gaping mouths. The man accused of the bombing, found guilty of dipping the morning sky in charcoal, winks at the clouds that watch warily from above us. This is the man who never apologized for his actions, and there is a hushed silence as if we are in a movie house and the picture is about to start reeling. Everybody makes mistakes, does things they don’t mean. But there are dead children in Heaven above us, their backs curved into cosmic tides.

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Peter LaBerge


II. Wilma Pearl Mankiller, Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation. When I was small, no one stopped the fights. And now pillars of smoke lean out the windows, press their wrists against the glass to catch a better view. The murderer could beat you with devices and bombs till you died, blood pooling around your chest and up your nostrils, flooding down your throat, curdling under the skin of your forehead— flooding like saltwater to a sinking ship. But the bullets were like fallen ice cubes, cracking, smashing, smattering an icy handprint across your kitchen floor. Enough to make you look up, surprise stinging your rosy cheeks. But not enough to get anybody moving; Surprise doesn’t sting in these parts.

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III. Hannah Baker, six years old. Protected by my mother’s skirt. I am a small child woven into the ashy pleats of her skirt. Papa’s scratchy coat spins like flaming pinwheels, passing flames from pants to hands to cheeks to teeth. Mama waltzed through the rubble, clutching a fold of her skirt’s cotton. It had turned to rust, but I felt it— pristine, pure as breast milk. She cooled the smoldering bones of the deceased around us. Each person had become smoke in a womb of lifeless cinders, mixing ash and wind before birth. A minister, robes suffocated with haze, leads two whispering girls from the wreck— shoulders and heads knocking like buoys dipping towards each other in a turbid sea. Their eyes are peeled and bulged, bruised zucchinis. The ash on the face of the minister makes his cheeks run, as if the explosion wet a framed canvas. A baby quivering in my mother’s hands— it takes me this long to see it, diagnose the smoky figure she is cradling, because its skin is woven together like the fibers of her skirt.

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IV. Kiara Lee Clark, survivor. This sidewalk is full of hunger and victims. When smoke erupts from chimneystacks, and flexes under our nostrils, our stomachs churn, rupture the walls of our cells and flop homelessly through the blistered wildflowers. Oklahoma’s wavering lights have been snuffed out, except for the streetlights and the faint tails of fireflies passing through. Ashy dust is worshipping our bodies, the rank clothes of a singed minister. My hands do not belong swollen, held over fire till blisters come, sheathed in metal braces that remind me that we are like whispering cigarettes, slowly dying, smoke wheezing, but not yet extinguished.

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V. Sarah Jo Reely, nine-year-old child victim. Dear man, Our bodies belong in your cellar hanging like herbs or ladies tired of dancing, charred on hooks. Our skin would be growing cold down here, the thermostat would be out of reach of our tiny little hands, fingertips chipped off because we are sculptures now. Let yourself be pulled from a river of flames by a compassionate hero that does not know who he is saving, only that there is a scalding cylinder called a head on your shoulders. Let your palm rest on our duty foreheads. Let it rub our faces clean so you can satisfy the wonder of what shade of green my pupils were before they were rotted out by flames. Let the deaths you’ve induced roll back into your mouth, sculpt its roof, and linger there—remaining suspended like dried herbs in a cellar.

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Carolina Clint Phillips 68


Metamorphosis Peter LaBerge

After Virginia Slachman The sky looks up at me, locked in a puddle. I wonder if it knows it can’t escape. Stagnancy, something flawless on the surface, reduced to a fib. I will never see the sky the way I used to. Blue can be so pale when beaten into clouds.

For years, my brothers and sisters and I fluttered hopelessly heavy wet wings and swollen limbs, hidden. We knew that particular set of parents meant “the best,” their blows like venomous rain dissolved our skin, not us. They told us they meant “the best.” I was never hit the worst, never as badly as the others. Yet now I feel skinless, bodiless, naked. Skin has shed from me, shucked itself away. A car turns, into the parking lot. I’m told to gather my things. I’ve noticed the women at this foster home, when they want something, huff like steaming trains. In the water, on the ground, swimming in the clouds, I could argue it’s all I have: my reflection. I’ve noticed we never run far from reflections.

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God Speak “Reshape yourself through the power of your will…” It is an ocean of stones, lost baby tongues, and parent’s car keys. I spread my hands, the pebbles taste cool against my alternative mouths; my palms. They slip down my jar, into my bones. Try to spit out my teeth, only to fail. I salivate, and learn that I am a tremendous body of molecules, cells, feelings, skeptical structure, water. I become the sea, Maker of life. But I cannot contain the masses inside of me, so I raise my arms, and become the sky. I spit and release a galaxy from my lips, I let go. Teeth free from my gums, swirl and become planets. My saliva becomes a river, cheeks, mountains, nostrils, caverns. 70

Margaret Middlebrooks


Time has now become the scars on my body, and the bags under my eyes. So now when I open my mouth, there is the universe.

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Fernsehen Alex Sheppard 72


32 Weeks Alana Rollins

Your wails are symphonies echoing off the walls of my womb. The whorls of your fingers trace questions against the lining of my stomach, distract from rough bed sheets scratching distended skin. The night is silent, but I hear you, rhythmic vibrations, Morse code through my ribcage. I can hear your laugh’s sweet tinkling flood through my veins like pacific waves taken refuge beneath my skin.

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“I don’t want any kind of love anymore.” – East of Eden Dackary Saig When momma died, daddy rolled me awayold tire on a road, pot-holed. I followed the man whose tongue bled verse into dim light. I walked out stained, my alter is dank wood. I sleep in sheets with men, women, slide into the blue Porsche Spyder with my slick, blonde hair and the wind whipping against me as I push one hundred, I throw daddy and a cross under these tires, it turns to dirt and smoke, making gravel clouds.

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Six Planets Down Sofia Sayaf

Mercury rolls down her neck, burns circuits of veins tangled through her shoulders, crushes the vertebras crinkled across her spine, sends bullets into her belly button. Earth cups in the center of her hands, bleeds blue on her fingertips, traces them with salted branches and foamed shells. Pluto balances on her knees, 400 degrees below zero, freezing them together, turn the tips of her nails into iceshards, melt off into Hydra, a moon suspended in her atmosphere. Venus knocks on her ring finger, sends warmth through vena amoris a vein which forms smiles into the gateway of her heart, creating a muse. Mars twists in her intestines, shoots bombs into her ribs, wet sand sticks in her kidneys. Her throat licks the side of 75


Saturn, clenches the ringed edges, watch as it falls to the bottom of her stomach turning for another seven years.

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Untitled Kaylee Doherty 77


Neighborly Alexondra Stuckey

I am nestled on a blithe suburban street, candy-coated in domiciles of blue, pink, green, and white. Next door, in a modest home with grass that is green and blinding to the eye, the Williams live. A shade of their roof beams over the driveway dotted in water leaks and small rust spots where John Williams painstakingly scrubbed at them with a vengeance. His wife, Akira, with bottomless brown eyes and a droll accent, identifying her as a foreigner, tends to the botanicals that line their walk, one which their sprinkler consistently dampens. On June 19th, perhaps a week ago, their daughter Mary was exposed out in the drive way In a yellow halter top and printed little shorts with pineapples on them. She threw a rock down Pleasant St. I inhaled the nicotine budding from my cigarette, in a pool I’d ungrudgingly swim in eternally. Wreaths of smoke blew past my desiccated lips and headed down into the kitchen where my sweet cobbler baked. During neighborhood gatherings, Akira’s cobblers were sub-par. Unsatisfactory, docile, and kind that she attempts to make food, handled by hands that should be stamped ‘Made in Japan.’ The husbands query as to why John chose to pack in his valise such a live- in souvenir, from his engagements in Asia, while the wives wondered how she might tolerate stick- straight hair with no bevel in 1972. Or how she didn’t despise disco, or didn’t know how to shop in the grocery store, but still they saw her shuffling down the aisle, under fluorescent lights in bars of gold. Often we’d catch violet dots spiraling into her pale skin, at times lined by fingerprints 78


bar-coded on her face. It was quite ethereal-looking at times, floating on the surface. She took the kid and left for Jap-land.

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Fenster Alex Sheppard 80


Until it Rains Murielle Telfort

Dear Brother, Go to the forest with Father, the one where we grew up. Make Father stay with you until it rains. Father’s illness isn’t fatal. Dear Sister, I went to the forest. The one with blackberries. When I returned Father was sleeping. He hasn’t moved. How could the forest and rain have stopped this? Dear Brother, When Mother says to give Father medicine you drop everything and rush to his side. Now, you’re gazing at pills asking the cure for an explanation. This distance makes my head heavy, while you sit by Father, writing worthless letters. Dear Sister, The sight of Father shivering in the cold, trudging into woods, just to be drenched in rain? Medicine can be clarified, madness cannot. Rainfall will do nothing for Father! How dare you put such thoughts in my head? Now, if I pass his deserted door it screams at me, and as Mother shuts her eyes, my neck snaps around, dragging my body away from the only family left. Dear Brother, Excuse the watermarks on this note. 81


My tears won’t do anything for Father unless they fall from the clouds, onto his skin, within our backyard jungle. We were playing by the lake, years ago, when that dying bird fell. Tell me you don’t remember the rain sprinkling on the mythical creature who flew seconds later, back up to the sky.

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The Luminosity of a Nova

Morgan Walker

From the graying curb of this galaxy, every window is lit, each a personal moon for our once planet. And your star dust lingers, the condensation of warm palms on quavering panes. We eclipse into our last phase, framed by brutal meteor showers. I see you through a telescope of aerial eyes, your celestial body, the stark cold of glacial topography. You are the familiar gravity Newton proscribed me with. On the outside every window is lit, each a distant light imploded ages ago.

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Nonfiction


Birthday King Dillon Arthur 84


Coffee: Society’s Accepted Form of Crack Shamiya Anderson

I am Shamiya Anderson and my mother has a problem. Dunkin’ Donuts coffee with cream and sugar. Extra large: $2.34. Large: $2.13. Medium: $2.03. All of these prices memorized from a cup a day. Without fail. My mom has relations with the staff of Dunkin’ Donuts. A skinny African American woman she calls her “friend” (I say her dealer). They don’t know each other’s names. They don’t need to. Their transaction happens every morning between six and noon. “Now I don’t think I should be givin’ you this.Your husband told me not to.” Yeah, because she’s addicted to it, I think. Addiction: the state of being enslaved to a habit or practice. Too many of our ancestors died to get us out of slavery and she goes back for a bitter black brew in a Styrofoam cup. Finicky, my mom rolls her eyes and grabs the cup through the drive-thru window. “Just have my coffee ready for me when I get here next time,” my mom says, moving crinkled receipts that sit in her cup holder from several days before--maybe six or seven. “Please, I already had the coffee pot ready when I saw your car comin’ off of the highway.” My mom laughs hysterically and drives off. I let out a pent up breath that raises my slouched position in the passenger seat, grateful to be away from the death threats wrapped in the honks of the waiting cars behind us. Love: a tender affection for another person or thing. Love should be beautiful. Caring. Not an emotion resulting in thrown television remotes at someone’s head when they forget to put coffee in the microwave to keep it warm, which my mom has done to me several times, her only daughter. I’ve only thrown a TV remote at my television once, when I was watching Pretty Little Liars. My mom says that I have an obsession. I think it’s the coffee talking, because personally, I would use the word dedicated to describe my actions. It says in the Dummies’ Guide to Saving a Caffeine Addicted Mother that junkies try to deflect their own problems by creating made up ones for other people. Everyone knows caffeine’s a drug, just like crack and Krispy Kreme donuts. We will continue to love, just as we will continue to dispute the terms “obsessed” and “addiction” until the day “A” has no one left to kill and all coffee beans become extinct (which according to recent studies will be in the year 2080). There’s a fine line between it all, but my mom believes that she balances well; though drugs have been known to blur people’s senses.

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Void Alex Sheppard 86


Because Their World is Flat

Stephanie Thompson

In their stories, the world is a flat, beautifully shaped two-dimensional object. The oceans, the people, the mountains, the valleys are all flat. I imagine it’s a wonderful thing to be flat, to feel the Earth beneath you and see the horizon above you and know, indubitably, that this paper-thin world is yours and it was made for you. I bet they love knowing that. Their stories have nobody but my body, and no voice but my voice, and sometimes I relish in them. I pull out a pen, or up a chair, and let the voices have their way. I feel them rush through my nervous system and take possession of my body as they suddenly become stronger than me, and I, the true inhabitant of my body, take a backseat as they tell their stories. When I write I become a type of deity in my own right. I create beings and worlds that wouldn’t exist without me. But I don’t leave them as words, no, I give them life. I blow life into them with my own breath until they have another dimension. Only then, after I have put a part of me into the words, do they truly become three-dimensional. The time I don’t write, I take their stories and crush them. I ball them up or rip them apart. I backspace until there is nothing left but a blank page. Sometimes I hide the stories and just let stuff pile up onto them. When I don’t write the voices devour because I starve them. When I refuse to let them bathe in the sunlight of revision or refuse to let them even come into being, they collide against each other in my mind and bounce freely and evilly on my neurological pathways. There is only so much room in my mind, and currently there are no vacancies. If I don’t write, if no one wrote, we’d be back in the past. There would be no spreading of ideas, or knowledge, or beliefs. There only be what one was told. If no one wrote, the world would be a paper-thin two-dimensional object; it’d lose what makes it, and us, three-dimensional, it’d lose its life. Writing creates life. I write because someone else may not, and because the voices sometimes kick me to the brink of insanity. It would be a waste not to write because I can create other worlds on a piece of paper, and give those people’s hopes, failures, flaws, aspirations and love with my pen. I write because their world is flat (for now), but I, with the power of my writing, can change that because their world, once given life, is my world, too. And it is beautiful.

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Sun Rotary Trey Asner 88


Imaginary Memory Emma Symmonds

I’m a victim of severe childhood trauma. I have no father, not even a wisp of a male authority figure; I was raised in a house with two physically disabled and one mentally disabled person; I witnessed the slow degeneration of a girl succumbed to cancer. I saw it eat at her skin. Not literally, though; writing attacks me with images of her rotted face, certainly ground to dust after ten years, even if I never saw it, and that speaks of illness, doesn’t it? That’s why I write, make words into leeches to suck on poisoned veins, to compensate for love lost in childhood and to lament overdramatically on the years of opportunity passing me by. All writers are sick, surely. If it can’t be diagnosed, maybe I’m lonely. Maybe writing doesn’t attack like a beast in the night, maybe it quivers in the forest like a bobcat shot in the leg, just waiting. It’s waiting to be eaten or carried off, and it recognizes its lonesomeness in me and extends a paw. Maybe I’m the bobcat. That’s not it, we’re not in a forest and I don’t write for loneliness. I read for it. When I begin a new story I expect to experience those characters and live vicariously through them, and I love it, it’s exhilarating. I can hear their words rattling me even now, and I can feel their emotions. I can cry freely, for the sake of another, even if that person who’s died never even lived in the first place. For the people who have lived…I want to make someone cry harder over my characters than they did their own dead grandparents. There is a certain satisfaction found in emotional sadism that speaks to me, and it remains the most beautiful thing about writing. I want slip behind one-way glass and watch my reader tear out his hair and teeth to stem the emotional agony, I want to see him flip through the pages and throw the booklet on the floor, and I want a temper tantrum. I want a revolt, I want broken glass. I want my writing to affect people as other stories affect me. Beyond emotion, there is always the realm of money and prestige, and I want that as much as I want readers’ tears. I’m ambitious. This whole gamble, this thing where I’ve dedicated five years of my life to education in the art of metaphorically tearing people to shreds, I want that to pay off. It’s already begun. There have been small victories in school competitions, publications, a national contest or two. It’s just got to get bigger, and I can do that, and I want to do that, so I’ll write for greed. And greed will write for me. Similar to loneliness, there is distraction. The genuine need to reside within something intangible, an idea of a love story or string of beautiful nonsense words, rests in me. It burrows within my core and rustles its feathers from now and again, and the tickle of soft down on my esophagus reminds me the real world isn’t enough. Experiencing, living, it’s not enough if I can’t fake-smell that fake-grass pressing into the fake-cheek of that fake-boy as he gets fake-beaten into the fake-ground. This here, this is the real thing. All this satire amounts to nothing without the truth: I’m not sick, I’m not too lonely but I am alone, I’m a sadist, I’m ambitious, and I write. There’s got to be something more, and I’m too lazy to get up and find it. So, I create it.

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