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Faculty Advisor Tiffany Melanson

Élan International Student Literary Magazine Produced by the Creative Writing department of Douglas Anderson School of the Arts and funded through the Writers’ Guild Boosters Association 2445 San Diego Rd., Jacksonville FL, 32207 (904) 346-5620

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Volume 32 | Issue 1 Editors-in-Chief Ana Shaw Lexey Wilson Layout & Design Oona Roberts Meredith Abdelnour Art Natalie Filaroski Kathryn Wallis Poetry Evelyn Alfonso Fiction/CNF Valerie Busto Managing Editors Kinley Dozier Winnie Blay Digital Media Lindsay Yarn Website Sierra Lunsford Social Media Elma Dedic Marketing Lex Hamilton Douglas Anderson Art Liasons Antonio Colรณn Anastasia Utley

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Our vision for this book was born from the creativity and capabilities of student artists. While putting together this issue, we found ourselves in the midst of young artists attempting to find ther place in the world. This is an issue for asking questions— whether or not the answers can be found. We hope readers will take it as a guide through their own explorations. -Editors-in-Chief Ana Shaw and Lexey Wilson

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Contents Portrait with Hands Emma Mclaughlin

Cover

Living With Myself Reece Braswell

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Tranquility Kaylin Hillman

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A Semblance of What Should Have Been Jaclyn Berry

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Childhood Memories Kristina Lowry

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A Shrine to (Un)dead Mothers Winnie Blay

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Fruit on Wheels III Varun Tandon

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Spontaneous Meditation Sitting Under the Rock at Hooker Falls Conor Naccarato

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A Promise to My Brother Jasmine King

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Midnight Lassitude Dane LaRocque

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Genesis Lexey Wilson

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pqpou hands out money, teaches lessons Alexa Naparstek

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Sacrifice of the Shaman Corey Kreisel

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Counting My Blessings Davis Smith

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Praying Kathryn Wallis

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Crossings Rafael Pursley

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Color Blind Noah McGahagin

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Side House Ignacio Serrao

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Return Date: 5/11/1947 Keiona Wallace

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Notes from an Ex-Georgian Olivia Meiller

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Electric Blue Audrey Phillips

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mother, decieved Kinley Dozier

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Blank Jasmine Hernandez

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Shape of a Man Ruben Adkins

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Reached Emma Mclaughlin

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Her Endeavors Versus Mine Evelyn Alfonso

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Renewal Antonio Colรณn

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Remembering Home from the Garden Conor Naccarato

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Blue Bowl Emma Mclaughlin

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The Waterlilies Hanna Walters

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To Be at Peace Reece Braswell

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Comfort of the Holy Mother Victoria Sherwood

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Storm Surge Molly Lantinberg

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Eruption Sharya Mccray

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Consent Harleigh Murray

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Wind-Up Boy Gabrielle Broome

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Life and my uncle’s sand dollars Reece Braswell

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William Tell Overture Meredith Abdelnour

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Too Late Alivia Rukmana

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This is how a girl’s mother teaches her to pick figs: Oona Roberts

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Symptoms of a Thinker Alexa Naparstek

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Morning Coffee Antonio Colón

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Living With Myself Reece Braswell

The darkened sky was pried open by stars like heart surgery; they were so bright, to me they were eyes; they winked, singing with parted lips and silent voices; I could feel their song hum in by bones, their whispers blending with distant noises, embracing a tired world; a vulnerable world with war and unrest waging inside a man’s mind, folding onto paper, then being tossed into a waste bin. I stood there on that ocean, a sailor, and chains from my past turned into crystals, and they cracked under the view of the moon, where all the galaxies could see my body; how it crumbled to sand and my hands cracked like shells; where I became fluid, and like salt water love, I fell into myself.

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Tranquility Kaylin Hillman

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A Semblance of What Should Have Been Jaclyn Berry

Everything moved in slow motion on those summer nights, with even moths hovering like they might drop, air the kind of sticky that creates another skin on top of your own. A small child scuffed through her living room, the muscles in her feet strained as she stood on tiptoes to unlock the door. Her mother stood there, key halfway through the air, a large jacket tied around her gaunt waist. The woman’s eyes were full of every prodding thrust she had ever felt. She said hello, let her purse rest on the ground, kneeled sorely and unsteadily. She gathered her daughter to her, who tried to reach “...a crucified body, waiting for her arms around her its return to the tomb.” mother’s neck, but found herself stuck and splayed: a crucified body, waiting for its return to the tomb. The yellow glow of the porch lamp, plastered with mauled corpses of insects, faded for a moment, and then brightened. She felt she might break. The woman was an odd sort of still, hair bunched and spilled over her child’s shoulders, her fingers sure in their grasp, her body in quiet acceptance of its material purpose. “He stuck his tongue in my mouth, again and again.” She pressed their faces together in a soft eskimo kiss, her eyes scrunching up at the corners, “Isn’t that nasty?” Though no laughter came from her daughter, the mother laughed anyway, sound curling into the humid night. “Isn’t it?” The woman stood then, the heel of her jacket drifted up, fluttered against her naked thigh. The knee-length coat was a thick material which most wouldn’t even think about in a heat like that, but she wore it the same way a man dying of thirst tastes his oasis’ on sandpaper tongue: a dry drop that she rolled over and over in her mouth for as long as she could, before casting it aside and prostrating bare beneath men who only know her for who she seems to be. Beneath them, she grips at sheets and stares, saliva 10


stretching between upper and bottom lip as she mouths, my God, my God, why have you forsaken me? She remembered her stepfather in those moments, how at night, before he kicked her out of her own home, he would pull her from her room by hair and muffled mouth, and even he couldn’t acknowledge what his hands were doing in the dark. The daughter was looking at her. The mother paused, and it seemed that she might say something, but instead she pulled money from her top and dragged a jar towards her from behind the cereal boxes. When she turned around, the girl was holding two Pepsis, condensation was sliding between her fingertips. She offered one, and the mother ran her thumbs over cool aluminum. They curled in together on the couch, the form of their bodies curved to plate out the shape of lungs, the rise and fall of their chests created a visual crescendo. The mother raised metal to mouth, looked at her child, whose can remained unopened. She nudged the girl. “Why haven’t you opened it?” The daughter said she wanted it to last. This was her favorite part of the day. She closed her eyes, her daughter’s warmth seeped into her. “I’ll still be here when it’s gone. So drink, while it’s still cold.” The first time the woman had visited home after being disowned, her stepfather dropped a Pepsi into her lap, and it landed as an icy, skinny intrusion to her thighs. Her mother remained still in a room too big for her shrunken presence. That time with her mother was swallowed in great, hungry gulps then, but she soon learned to hold the soda on the boat of her tongue until it grew warm and sticky. At the bottom of each drink, she was cast out by his meaty hands again. The woman took another sip, and the daughter did too, her eyes grew heavy, hair curled out around her. They spent their nights this way – the daughter, clad in silk and pink, let the limpness of her body press into her mother’s side. The girl’s soda, nearly empty, clacked to the ground, a small drop clung to aluminum lip and pooled on the tile. The woman held her daughter’s body as if she were all bones.

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As she drifted, the mother let the can grow heavy and full in her lap, warm against her palms, the cicadas song and her daughter’s breathing as steady as a beating heart.

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Childhood Memories Kristina Lowry

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A Shrine to (Un)dead Mothers Winnie Blay

My mother unpacks her mother from cardboard boxes, placing her  on ivory countertops. She removes two blocks of wood just barely  hinged to one another.   They are stained from platanos and salt has split the wood. I am reminded how I need to stop flinching at the pop of oil.    Her fingers flip through worn cookbook pages, reading the half-century old cursive hidden  within the margins. She places it on the shelf  next to a portrait of Nana, who is smiling    in a cornfield where she is younger than my mother— happier. From the boxes, my mother hangs  a lilac rosary from the corner of the portrait.  I start to grieve with her—silently.     I see my mother in her mother with their full cheeks and hair that bounces above their shoulders with every movement. I see myself   in neither. There are days when I don’t speak. I wear my mother’s pearl necklace to pretend I am not hollow and my hair doesn’t flatten on my shoulders.   I pack my own mother, placing her in cardboard boxes.  My hands fold the sleeves of a red flannel  three sizes too big. It was her mother’s before  it was hers, before it was mine. The flannel will lie  at the foot of my bed and the arms will tuck me in  on the nights my mother is a ghost. I keep the rosary    in hopes that it will connect me to her 

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when she is no longer a reality. She will not be here to pick up my body of flesh and bone with her fingers. Instead, she will be drinking white zinfandel   with Nana somewhere I do not know,  where they will make up for lost time  and wait for me to join them. 

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Fruit on Wheels III Varun Tandon

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Spontaneous Meditation, Sitting Under the Rock at Hooker Falls Conor Naccarato

I get on all fours to crawl under the giant rock My kneecaps are firmly pressed into stone slicked with water and a film of vegetation: life breathed into earth by age and liquid lips. The sound of the river above striking droplets  into the landmass beneath grows as I crawl.  Just past the veil of frothy downpour, a ledge  embedded into the rock lies. A ledge meant for sitting on. I reach the ledge and lodge  myself into it like I would tongue and groove paneling.  The dam of stone impressed into the contours of  my back becomes my matrix. At my feet, water in licks forms soft peaks. When the  heartbeat of the stone syncopates with mine, water lampooning against rock muffs my ears and the frosty nip of wind holds my eyelids open, I can see each drop of water pirouetting and  then breaking like an egg tapped on the side of a bowl.  My life under the veil of spring water is ephemeral,  but mallets of the falls still gong my eardrums.  

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A Promise to My Brother Jasmine King Part 1: Seeds planted sprouted two saplings, one grew, nurtured the other. Then its body became soft, brittle. It turned brown, black under malnutrition and began to touch the ground. Its arms dug a hole and didn’t come back up, hoping the other can stand on its own. Our father packed his bags, watched us grow when he decided to see a picture of us playing in the yard. Streaks of our father’s negligence trace your hollow bones and missing muscles. Remains continue violently, make ritual drumbeats and pleading cries. Under a blown away bundle of foliage, you pulsate. Unfleshed fists on dirt walls, try to claw twisted bones into soil, grinded muscles to thrust yourself up. Your toes curl foot pressed firmly on the gas pedal. Crisps of flesh tucked in air sockets between bones where gasoline touch flames of a car you hit.

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Part 2: White knuckles against chilled rakes sweep orange and gala apple-colored leaves. A body that’s placed where I promised you that day to bury you beneath the pile we spent hours raising. Beetles and snails sniff your carcass, worms make homes in your white exterior. Buried just below me is your entire body, except for the arm we still can’t find.

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Midnight Lassitude Dane LaRocque

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Genesis

Lexey Wilson She watched him carefully, thinking of a way to excuse herself or go elsewhere but then she remembered his chest and why she had brought napkins and decided to stay. “Here are the napkins…what can I call you?” “Arthur. And you?” It was gentle, but held an edge to it, like the delicate blade of a kitchen knife. “Margaret.” He paused. He said “Pearl.” “Excuse me?” “That’s the meaning in Greek. ‘Pearl,’ or ‘cluster of blossoms’.” “I didn’t know.” He stayed silent but took the napkins and began blotting his shirt with one, even though most of it had already dried and clung to his shirt. Then he looked up again and took off his glasses. His face was weathered and freckled but still looked so young and juvenile. His face was not what caught her attention rather than his eyes.  His entire face seemed focused around them as if without them there would be nothing left of him. They weren’t very big or wide but stood out because of their milky white coloring looking like the marbles “He asked her like they’d that Margaret had as known each other for eons and a child and would roll around on the floor in a asking about love was just like made-up game of Jacks. asking about the weather.” They seemed to glow with an iridescence similar to the reflection of the moon off water late at night. She drew a breath in and held it, careful not to let him hear. “I’ve been blind almost all of my life,” he said. It was hard for her to decipher his emotions. “I wasn’t trying to…I didn’t mean to—I’ve just never seen a blind man in my life,” she managed to reply.

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He put the glasses back on carefully and went back to dabbing his shirt slowly and with a soft sort of precision that reminded Margaret of swimming under water. “You ever been in love?” He asked her like they’d known each other for eons and asking about love was just like asking about the weather. Inclined to find a reason to leave again, Margaret looked around and tried to think of a good answer that didn’t give too much away, but then her mind travelled back to her fiancé and her life before now. She was reminded of how she fell in love early because that was what everyone told her to do and how she was young and he was young and they both collected magnets from different states, and how that meant they were destined to be together. She remembered how he would come to her chemistry class every day and walk with her to lunch until it just became routine and they wouldn’t deny it when people said they would be married someday. It just became normal, and sometimes, on the rainiest days, Margaret missed walking to lunch all by herself, but she kept it all in and decided love was far more important than independence. And although she had her doubts, she continued to hide under this veil of marriage even when he proposed to her and her parents sent her letters of congratulations and all their college friends said they knew it. Soon they had moved into a small house even though they weren’t married yet, but no one questioned it because they were so in love and it was as if they’d been together all their lives. But then, as if the two memories were fused together in her brain, she remembered the day in the kitchen when she had decided to make something for lunch and the light that was streaming in from the window made all the dust shine in all corners of the room. She didn’t remember placing the oven mitt directly next to the burner but she recalled doing dishes, elbow deep in water, and turning around to see a fire, creating a chain reaction of smaller fires on the marble countertop. And she remembered particularly afterwards when her fiancé came running, smothering it with a towel, and how everything looked so bleak and grey compared to those orangey-red flames. She remembered through all the smoky haze and

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silence of the house how he told her a few weeks before their wedding that he had had an affair with another woman. She remembered staying silent and hiding in her room and then not being able to take it when everything felt too permanent and still, so she left and found herself on a train with this man now who was asking her if she had ever been in love and any other time she would’ve said “I have a wonderful fiancé at home,” but now she just didn’t want to so instead she said: “No, I’ve never been in love,” and relief flooded through her. “You know a whole lot about it?” he asked again. “No, not a lick,” she said, and then they were silent for a few minutes. She thought about his eyes again. His milky white eyes that stared at her like soul searchers. “Can you tell me what it was like?” she asked him this time. “What?” “Losing your vision.” He paused and thought for a moment with the same eternal slowness. “It felt like a coat of darkness,” he said. “Like one minute everything was so vivid and in color and I lived in a world with so much light, and then I woke up and there was nothing. You know, every day for two years I woke up, rubbed my eyes, and hoped that they had cleared. I kept thinking that there was just a curtain sealed over them and one day it would open and the world would be clear and right in front of me again.” He stopped a moment and Margaret stayed silent. “But,” he said as if reminiscing on something. “I was lucky. I was so goddamn lucky because the day before it all went away my father took me out into this big field full of all these flowers that all just sprung up from the ground like these, these fallen stars.” He went on. “Me and my papa, well we just watched the sunrise on this big starry hill early in the morning and I saw the sky change. It was like, like god was putting on his own play. And if I didn’t know any better I would’ve thought it was Genesis all over again, only backwards like he made humans first just so they could watch their whole world being created from the

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ground up.” She watched him. “I got to see the whole world light up and then that next day I just watched it all fade away.”  His voice got even lower now as if he was speaking to himself, mumbling. “Even on those bad days, when the world feels lightyears away I just remember that field and I remember that sky. I hold onto those colors and that sunrise and those oranges and blues and whites. I hold on so tight.” And in that moment as he spoke, Rosemary closed her eyes just as before, imagining the scene laid out before her. The lit-up sky slid across her mind and the memory of that fire and his sunset collided together in a mix of light and color and beauty and as she opened her eyes, for what seemed like the first time, she saw, outside of her small boxy window, what seemed to be the exact scene he spoke of; swirling colors so vibrant that Rosemary felt as if she were staring at a mural painted by some far away artist.

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papou hands out money, teaches lessons Alexa Naparstek

The way I love is because of him. He handed out creaseless bills to his grandkids, and every dime to his daughters. He would whistle to call me over   faintly, without any tune but adoration.  He made bread from crumbs––there is no other man  who has shown me strength in life like he did.   In his hometown, I struggled with the thought  of his passing, how our minds never danced  with each other because he was thinning out   and I was hiding in. How his dementia developed faster than my curiosity, so I forgot to ask him questions and he forgot his passions. My broken Greek did damage   against his deteriorating English, the way the Ionian Sea would pick at the rocks, erode them quicker  than god intended. And here I sat, watching    the sea reclaim its life. The café table was drenched in the sun; my sweat did no harm nor good, yet I could see why we still received magazines of Filitra even after papou died.    Here, he showed me the way the children run across streets and boys chased girls in their sundresses, the women all smoked only to puff out stories and laughter;   Why yiayias crept out of their homes to go outside,  where life happened so quickly and effortlessly. He must’ve laughed when I rambled to Caroline about my return.   How I would dance with every one of my friends, How I would learn the name of every plant, How I would laugh and never stop running.    He has taught me the joy in conversing  with someone, the beauty in company, that life goes on and quickly.

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He has shown me the world  even after he left it. And now our  minds dance like never before. 

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Sacrifice of the Shaman Corey Kreisel

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Counting My Blessings Davis Smith

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Praying

Kathryn Wallis Yawning is contagious as the exhaustion in your chest shakes your entire body with tiny, catapulted pebbles of reminders: The only one here is you. Will no one listen or does no one pull hands from the jagged sides of holy ears?  You must not stare too long among the rough shadows shaking paper-cut stars. A clammy silence manages to filter through the wishes of hands and spare pennies. Blossoms at the feet of Mary and the color violet will suddenly lose its romance, The fish & bread leave your family empty and your cabinet full  of water you tried to turn.   A deity all alone cannot prevent instabilites of what you didn’t see as coldly expressionless under crimson petals and a dripping cream veil. No one objected but the ring that fit too snugly around your tensed joints. under crimson petals  and a dripping cream veil.  

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A feeling of warmth doesn’t always reside in the seat left for it at dinner. You cut your steak alone and ear and digest and survive alone, undictated, and surefooted in the ragged landscape of skin that has grown closer to your heart than God. No matter how many spines you break and knees you crack on the floor, nothing answers but the sound of your spare change clinking against the steel collection basket’s belly, grinning at your likeness to its audible gain of listless value.

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Crossings

Rafael Pursley She shakes her head, delicate strands of blonde hair hitting the tree bark and catching. They splay out around her like golden rays of light. “I am not waiting hours for this thing, I can just stream it on my computer later.” She starts to climb down the ladder. I crawl on my hands and knees over to the edge to look down at her. She stands firmly on the first plank of the rickety bridge, holding onto the rope with a loose grip. “Are you coming?        I shake my head mutely, clutching the eclipse glasses to my chest. “Fine, I’ll see you back at your house then.” She turns and begins to bounce flippantly down the decaying bridge, stepping with confidence over the gaps.          The moss-covered board underneath her breaks as she puts her full weight onto it. For a moment, time seems to stop. I see Claire “If she hadn’t survived, I wonder, suspended in the air with the beginnings would I have whispered my of a scream on her feelings to the unmoving trees?” face and she seems to float. She screams, the moment shatters, and she falls. I scramble down the ladder and onto the bridge, stepping carefully over to where she fell through. Ripples spread out as if nothing larger than a pebble broke the surface. I don’t jump down, wary—no, scared—of falling onto one of the many wooden knees I know are lurking beneath the water. “Claire?” I clear my throat and try again.  “Claire?” louder this time. No answer. “Claire?” I scream her name, reaching down towards the water as if she’ll suddenly reappear. A pair of eclipse glasses floats soggy on top of the water. The moon passes unhindered in front of the sun, and the world is quiet.  The leaf-littered water parts as Claire resurfaces. “God,” She spits out, coughing and kicking slowly to the bank. “Why the hell do you still come out here? This damn

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thing is falling apart!” she stands calf-deep, spitting angry, and dripping wet as the water sloughs off of her. I feel more than see her glare, cutting through the peace of the forest to instill a sense of guilt deep in my chest. I sag in relief against the rotting planks, clutching my chest as if it was I who nearly died. “Claire, you’re alright.” I breathe out. If she hadn’t survived, I wonder, would I have whispered my feelings to the unmoving trees and uncaring waters? “Barely! I could have drowned! You said this is floodwater. How is it so deep?” she crosses her arms. She looks at me as if I flooded the river, didn’t repair the bridge, let her slip. She turns and marches up onto the shore in the general direction of the path. I follow her, choosing each step across the bridge carefully, then jogging to catch up. Claire walks quickly, and by the time I reach the head of the path, she is tapping her foot impatiently and flanked on either side by two stoic wooden sentinels.  “You take forever. I just want out of this forest. I’m dripping wet and I almost walked into a spider web with a spider on it.” Her mouth contorts into an O, and I wonder for a moment what she would say if I kissed her. I see the web strung up between two trees, a delicate lace pattern, and the large hourglass-patterned spider that created it. I nod and follow close behind her as she marches up the narrow path to my house. We walk in silence, a soundtrack of crickets proclaiming an elegy to our voices. The leaves crunch beneath our feet—Claire’s more than mine. I trace my lips gently and look back to another time. A young Claire—no more than twelve—sat on the wooden platform, kicking her feet back and forth. “I’m going to kiss someone at the Fall Festival I’ve decided. I don’t know who yet. I’ll make whoever it is my boyfriend, of course. I want my first kiss to be with someone who I’ll always be with though, so I don’t regret it.” I looked down at my own dangling feet and considered what Claire is saying.  “So you want to kiss me?” I clarified. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to. Now, I know I would. “Yes! Come on, we might as well. Then we can just pretend our next kiss is our first, and not have to talk about this again!” Claire leaned towards me and I found myself

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going along with it, grabbing her pink jacket as an anchor. “There, not so bad! Now, I’m considering who to kiss at the festival…” She fumes silently. Her hair falls in stringy blondebrown clumps, the few dried strands catching the light into a frizzy glow around her head. I wish that I could sit and enjoy the quiet magic of the forest longer, but we clear the trees into my back yard. “Finally, about time.” She mutters. We step onto my back porch and I unlock the door in silence. Claire strides into the kitchen in the same way I see her enter any room, instantly laying claim to it. “Where are your towels?” She knows where they are, the same place they have always been, but I still go get her one. She drops her soggy clothes into a pile on the floor next to her shoes, pink jacket draped over a nearby chair. I want to look at her. I look resolutely at a spot above her head. She dries herself off, not caring that we’re still in the kitchen. “Well? Are you going to get me something to change into?” I leave, grateful for the excuse to compose myself. I take my time picking out clothes, thinking of what might fit her, what might look good on her, what she might want to wear again. She is in the hall, checking her nails and waiting. The towel dangles casually in one hand. “Everything takes so long with you.” She snatches the clothes out of my hands and puts them on with a quick efficiency. I study my hands, and think about the calm of the forest. She pushes past me into my room, laying abruptly on my bed. I close my door and sit next to her, perched carefully on the edge. She picks up the remote control from my nightstand. She turns on the TV and flips through the few channels I get. She makes a clicking noise with her tongue. “Nothing good on. Where are all your channels?” I shrug. I don’t want to explain that we don’t get cable. “What do you do for fun around here?” I think of the woods and shrug again. She settles on a crime drama and gets comfortable in my bed. I remain sitting stiffly at the edge, unable to relax. I feel more than see my pale-yellow comforter bending under Claire’s body, pulling me towards her. Neither of us speak. The silence settles heavily over us as Claire turns the TV up. I find myself wishing for the living silence of the

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forest. I find myself resenting the artificial noise of the television. I think about asking to find a channel showing the eclipse. I think about sliding back and leaning against Claire’s stomach. I continue to watch the show with unseeing eyes, wishing I could think of something to say. “Gross.” Claire says of the cadaver on the screen. “That’s why you shouldn’t go into the woods. Some madman’ll stab you and bury you there.” She only stays for an episode, then gets up to leave without saying goodbye. She is already tapping at her phone as she walks towards her car. She pauses in the middle of looking back to wave at me. “We aren’t little kids anymore. You should stop going into that filthy forest.” Her voice is cold. She flips her hair over her shoulder and steps into the car.  I watch her drive off and hear the crunch of her tires on the gravel long after. Claire is right; we aren’t little kids anymore. “Goodbye,” I whisper to the forest. I pick up the pink jacket she left slung over a chair. It smells like the trees. I slide it on, holding the damp sides close to my body. I turn away from my house and walk outwards. The jacket is discarded where my yard becomes the woods. I do not look back.

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Color Blind

Noah McGahagin The long road once ended at Kingsley, browned hands catching freshly-tilled earth, licking up sweat that sleeps like woolen blankets. My own hands are white and dry on your crumbling tabby walls, a mausoleum rising from the earth, where I crouch to hide my pale face from the sun and peacocks who strut and fan their metallic colors where you (the woman, the farm hand, back bent like wheat in the evening) lived to work and die. I remember the stinging chair of Lynchburg Regional Airport where you are a black woman, who spoke without breath, words with nowhere to go but down my father’s throat. “The white man in Florida don’t give a damn about black folks.” My father tries to be color blind. But as you leave the word racist claws its way out from his locked jaw. I am the one who avoided your eyes when you asked for help passing through security. So, when my father catches me watching departing contrails, I tell him I don’t want to talk about it.

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Back on the plantation, the truth is an island that meets the water, blocks of ballast in the old mooring place, thumbs on waxy leaves, trees replacing ripe fields. I see you hacking and splintering the trunk, your hair sopping and dangling. The axe falls, ever-slowing arcs in the festering sap where we both know my handle’s buried in dead wood.

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Side House Ignacio Serrao

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Return Date: 5/11/1947 Keiona Wallace

A mosquito takes refuge on the back of my hand, walks his sticky fingers across my skin and bites firm and unholy. He begins draining quickly until his belly is throbbing. I can’t bring myself to splatter his insides, blood and body against mine. He flies away, clicking his wings. I stare up at the lemon tree and place five leoms in the pocket of my apron, the weight pulsing against my leg. “Hi neighbor! I haven’t seen you in so long, dear. How’s Jonas? Is he back yet? Marcus just got back yesterday, weren’t they in the same u—” My eyes dart to the ground and everything sounds like clicking wings hovering inside my ears. A collection of clicking. “I don’t like the way the sour I shuffle back across the lingers in my mouth when I small lawn and slam the door behind me. I don’t drink lemonade.” want to talk to Sharon. I know her husband came home yesterday, and I know our husbands went together, but mine isn’t back yet. Jonas isn’t back—isn’t sitting at the dining room table with the dent from where I dropped the pile of plates. Sometimes I crave his presence in the empty house that seems to always know how to dip under my skin. I set the lemons on the table, staring at the pile of letters from him I never opened. Maybe he’ll understand why I never wrote him back. I couldn’t. I didn’t want to imagine him opening my letters. Maybe being the last thing he saw—I couldn’t. Staring inside the pitcher of fresh squeezed lemon juice, I realize I’ve never made lemonade. But it is for him so I have to learn. Just like the cherry pies. I don’t like the way the sour lingers in my mouth when I drink lemonade. The hill on the back of my hand grows into a mountain, bursting through and flaking. I mix three cups of cold water and the strong citrus smell starts to disappear in the air. The seeds still swim in the pitcher.

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A cab stops in front of our house and a man in a brown suit steps out of the car. He is not my husband. He holds the door open for the other person in the car and my heart isn’t racing like it should be, my feet are glued to the floor and I just stare out the window. He waves at me through the window, but I can’t move and I don’t remember if the door is unlocked. He looks different now; there’s a cut above his right eye and his hair isn’t blonde anymore, it’s brown and ash like. Maybe it’s just the sun. The door opens and from the kitchen I am still paralyzed but he smells like the lemons from outside. The house smells like it’s burning under the sun. “Your hair—you look the same.” His voice cracks and I think he is crying, but I still stare at the window. The cab is gone. He doesn’t sound the same and a single tired mosquito nestles in my ear, humming. “Would you like some lemonade? I made it for you.” I don’t turn to see his response, but I grab the glass with the yellow and green stripes ringed around the top and pour from the pitcher in the sink. I hope he likes lemonade with seeds bobbing atop the yellow white surface. My hand is shaking when I finally turn to him and he sits in a low hum at the sun bleached table, flipping through the unopened letters. “You never wrote me back. I thought something happened.” I shake my head handing him the glass. He smiles, slowly gripping my cold fingers. “Did you make this?” My hair falls out of the bun as I look into the dent next to his glass. The humming clicks louder in the curves of my ears as the glass presses against his lips. The seeds thumb against his lips and juice slides down the side of his mouth—drips against neck and table. He tries to smile, but now I know he doesn’t like lemonade and that I forgot the sugar.

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Notes from an Ex-Georgian Olivia Meiller

I. East 39th Street (Millennial South) My old neighbor Kesha got excited when she heard I was from Atlanta. “You know Kanye’s from there. Damn, a lotta good people from there.” “Dude, I didn’t listen to Kanye when I lived there. I was like two.” “It’s better than Brunswick.” II. Savannah (Old South) The bridge between Savannah and Charleston is the longest my grandmother has ever been quiet. (That half a mile scares her. We all sit quiet and watch the marsh.) III. Renovated Jesup (New South) My cousins in middle school have never seen a pigeon before— “Only doves,” Nick says. “Doves grilled and wrapped in bacon.” IV. Savannah (Wannabe Old South) My Aunt Ashley talks like Scarlett O’Hara, wraps her words together in a drawl like magnolia and mint julep. She taught me how to hold a wine glass full of ice water at her downtown apartment. V. Wilmington (Unfamiliar South) My best friend moved from California to Georgia in third grade and says, “Fog is supposed to be cold.” She doesn’t say Savannah like we do.

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VI. Outskirts of Jesup (Deep South) My Uncle Perry has never met his father before and he lives two blocks away. I wonder if they run into each other at Jesup’s one and only grocery store. VII. Jesup (Good South) When my Nana died, the funeral succession was only ten cars long. Everyone on the road pulled over for us.

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Electric Blue Audrey Phillips

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mother, decieved Kinley Dozier

my mother, a fragile woman, stands before me, produces a ripe apple, arms like weathered vines birthing its leafed stem. with the hands of a bent-steel shovel, she uproots it into my palm, tells me to admire the way it kisses my skin. She locks fingers between mine, strokes the curves of the fat fruit and whispers how lucky I am to be trusted with such a delicate thing. She doesn’t notice as the apple’s core drips with rot. age bites away at the browned skin and leaks into my own. the acrid smell alone is enough to make my stomach churn. Her hands guide it towards my open mouth, clamps it between my lips. peelings stretch red across teeth as I bite in, chin slick with nectar. the yellow mush rests heavy on my tongue. She tells me this is who you are, you suck the seed from the fruit, take only what you need before letting a man have the rest; juice and flesh. I force the pungent taste down with a swallow, say that it tastes disgusting.

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Blank

Jasmine Hernandez 44


Shape of a Man Ruben Adkins

When I was a lot younger—twenty-three, maybe twenty-four, years old—I worked the nightshift at Little Oak Historical Centre. Little Oak, itself, wasn’t much to look at: we were a root of strip-malls and service buildings, and from us sprouted a net of narrow caul-de-sacs with a single main road cutting through the middle of the town. The museum, much like the area surrounding it, was incredibly small, and that’s kind of what made the dinosaurs so special: how unusual they were, how expensive and massive and violent. It was a dim-lit room we kept them in: one huge, round bulb in the center of the ceiling, relative darkness everywhere else. Their skeletons were caught by the light at angles, highlighted, circling round the middle where the giganotosaurus perched. Or didn’t perch, so much as hung; suspended round the neck with a length of wire, cutting into the join of the throat. Another thin “His entire body was a comically rope looped tight incorrect plasty of rearrangements, around its middle, wires propping up fragments of misinterpretations and biological impossibilities.” talons and holding open fearsome jaws. Wire tail lashed to the ceiling with distant leather thongs; body half latex flesh, body half hollow and empty bone.

I always found myself stuck on our centerpiece. Giganotosaurus.

Every part of him was fake: the eyes, teeth, bones made in China. His entire body was a comically incorrect plasty of rearrangements, fragments of misinterpretations and biological impossibilities. A marvelous atrocity. Frankenstein’s Dino.

But still, very much, a dinosaur.

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At times, I’d squeeze myself under or behind the dinosaurs, standing in their monstrous ribcages, spreading my arms.

Very small. Childlike.

I have some things to say about my childhood.

When I was six years old, my mother got engaged to a man named Paul, and Paul was the third boyfriend she’d had since she divorced my father the year before, and Paul was a youth minister, and a vegan, neither of which would have been a problem—outside of being extraordinarily lame—if he hadn’t attempted to convert the entire family to his ways of life right from the get-go. My mother didn’t know anything about Christianity— or veganism—but with her being so thoroughly convinced of her love for him, she decided that change was a good thing. Within the week, our Sundays became holy days. Our entire dietary plan was turned on its head.

I hated Paul.

Maybe I wouldn’t have, if they’d done it right; but for a while all we were was beans and rice and whole-grain bread, and beans and rice with red beets and bell peppers, beans and rice fried up in gravy made from tofurkey and pistachio cheese—beans and rice and beans again, with our hands clasped in front of us over the edge of the dinner table, thanking God for these beans, this rice, those other beans, and this other rice. I swallowed massive chunks of his stupid food whole, like medicine, and when I inevitably threw it all back up it ended up coming out pretty much the same, except not. Everything leaves a little different than it came, I’ve noticed.

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Rots inside of you.


I quickly resorted to stealing Slim-Jims and baloney sandwiches out of other people’s lunchboxes during recess, which I got away with for about three months, and no longer than that. An office aid caught me stuffing my face with Mika Turnbech’s ham-and-cheese Lunchable, and she called Paul, and Paul was waiting for me at the bus stop instead of my mother. Paul walked me down the street and up to the front door, shut the door behind him, seized my wrist, and turned me to look at him. Paul calmly reared his hand back and smacked me straight in the mouth, popping a baby molar out of the gum.

I ran.

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Reached

Emma Mclaughlin 48


Her Endeavors Versus Mine Evelyn Alfonso

Have you ever seen your mother so bloodshot because she was on the phone with an old man who loans her money. Have you ever seen your mother cry in front of you when her car broke down on the highway, next to that big restaurant where you work. You hide in your seat so no one will recognize you when she took those exasperated breaths. She is so tired and so embarrassed for you. The owner comes out, says hi to your mom with a look of confusion and he sees you in the passenger seat, wondering why you were so late. Now he knows why. Your mother breaks down in front of him. she mentions the money, the papers, and her loss of faith. Have you ever seen your mother cry in front of your boss for a job to work with you. Imagine every Monday night filling a mop bucket and teaching her how to scrub the floors. You train her and you can’t even look at her without hating her for being there. You treat her like the dishwasher but how can you hate your own mother for trying to make money. You teach her how to make to-go orders and she whispers in your ear Mi bebe Your paychecks come on the same day

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now and you feel shamed for sharing the same hours. You split your tips with her, and this is you giving your mother a second chance. She makes friends with your friends, she takes your tables, she cries again but she holds you after work in the middle of a stingy parking lot and looks at you like she sees God again.

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Renewal

Antonio Colรณn 51


Remembering Home from the Garden Conor Narccarato

Here, heat has a loose-enough grip. You can wriggle out of it. Don’t swim through it like the swampiness at home. Swimming is, however, required. Swim through the flares of new pollen made airborne on bees’ backs burying into olfactory periphery. Swim through this aroma rather than that which tinges taste of bed linens with tomato and oregano. The perfume of home permeates memories of mother’s gentle cooing.

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Blue Bowl

Emma Mclaughlin 53


The Waterlilies Hanna Walters

Her heavy hands submerge us, engulf our pads in rippling pond. She demands we drink, sip her rich morals, wine blended in expressionless shadows, souls of stars gone cold. Her gentle fingers preserve our drenched petals in a crisp jar. Our edges, nibbled by golden brown. She gathers new blossoms daily, silky white roses, daisies, forget-me-nots, daffodils. Wilted monarch butterflies tap the jar over and over— reaching for our pastel yellow, peach, and periwinkle. She drizzles water through holes on lid, admiring droplets leaking down snipped stems, spill against dried buds. Anticipating a flourish of precious growth, though it remains filled to the brim with static life. Green watering-can desperate to quench our existential thirst—we gulp tap water twinged with chlorine. We can do nothing about the parched butterflies aching for our pollen. All that is left in the field are overbearing weeds feasting on torn stems. Life stripped completely by once sympathetic hands. While inevitability engrosses our blossoms—she is smothered, honey colored curls bob in the dirty pond. Waxy purple face, starch white lips, glossy emerald eyes fixed on my sisters just out of reach.

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To Be At Peace Reece Braswell

Pieces of shattered heart fall apart in one’s thoughts; an unwell man pulls the trigger. An orphaned boy rings a can of change on the sidewalk, his hollow stomach stretched over his ribs. A broken record plays somewhere warm; the woman listening can’t put down her cigarette to fix it. Her husband breathes in the long drawl of a work night; their son hides in his closet. Quiet children eat their words; the loud take their time to taste it. Sweet things mix with murky coffee, and we forget to drink in the sunrise. But don’t worry, my dear; I sleep sound. I am no longer counting the missed days like blades of wilted grass on my front lawn. I close my eyes, now, and I think of the moon’s white light showering us in fleeting hopes when a black sky covers our heads. And I find love and sadness every day here, my dear, next to your name, where seeds of our childhood are buried under the earth, in little tombs, closed off without sun or water, unable to blossom.

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Comfort of the Holy Mother Victoria Sherwood

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Storm Surge Molly Lantinberg

They pulled the boy from the river twelve hours after they arrived at her door. She hadn’t seen much, to the chagrin of her daughter who called that night having heard the sparse details on the news. She’d seen only the shoe before abandoning the dishes mid-wash in the kitchen. She’d sat, holding sudsy hands from her body, watching the bubbles pop and dry against her skin, until Tim had come home. Then, only then, did she pull the meat from the freezer to thaw. “Pot-roast? Nice.” Tim gives her a kiss on the cheek as she pulls the covered tray from the oven. “It could be while until our next warm meal.” She walks the food directly into the dining room. When she’d opened the door to four police officers she expected a scolding. All of the other neighbors had heeded the mandatory evacuation for the storm two days off of the coast. She’d expected an ominous warning about the rising river, set to curdle with violence against their waterfront backyard. “Brings back old memories,” Tim watches as she serves a helping plate on both place settings. They never ate anywhere besides the living room anymore. A date. Linen napkins, polished silverware, and pot roast that would’ve gone bad when the electricity eventually went out. It felt like a date. The Everything looks paper-thin. She ones that had occurred could squish him between two like clockwork when fingers. children would still wind themselves around busy legs. Those Saturday nights, the ticking of her week always accumulated into nights of holding hands and couple cocktail hours. This felt like a first date. “We made the news.” She stabs the pot roast; it’s a bit tough. “That boy was either an idiot, drunk, or both.” Tim rolls his eyes.

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Tim hadn’t been there to watch. The meeting couldn’t be rescheduled. She’d been the one to walk the officers across the porch and down the fifteen-foot dock, toes parallel to the edge. Answer their questions about the freshly chipped paint and the broken gate. Follow them as they pointed to the spot where his head must have slipped beneath the water. Offer them coffee that they knew she wanted them to refuse. “Have some respect,” she chides, as if children are still at the table. “He illegally trespassed to swim at 3 a.m. with a storm brewing – he was being stupid.” Tim takes a long sip of water. “Hailey’s evacuating from the storm to South Carolina. I offered her to come here, but it was closer,” she says, smiling at him. The reporters for the 5 o’clock news had lapped against the edges of their property, his sister crying with a camera eight inches from her face. The noise of their broadcast splashes into the living room. “You’re just trying to fill our empty nest up again.” Tim smiles at her and in the sharp light of the dining room they connect through fingers. “A full house just has a different tint to it is all, just some getting used to.” She drops her knife in order to eat with one hand. “At least the same man is in your bed.” He winks. “Doesn’t it bother you? That boy dying in our backyard?” “Sweetheart, we weren’t involved.” “It was our dock.” “He trespassed.” “He wore the same shoes I bought Hailey for track.” “You’re high-strung from the storm; this’ll blow over too.” “He died on our dock.” “Near our dock.” “Tom, you didn’t have to watch it.” He hadn’t seen a lot of things. “Find something else to think about. You’re bored.” They both eat the rest of the food on their plates. Tim takes seconds. There are still leftovers. He scrapes

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his plate for the fat drippings and then takes hers to do the same. They’re his favorite part, always have been. She knows all these sorts of things. The pot roast had been sitting in the freezer for months, waiting for a kid to come home. “I want it gone.” “A 10,000-dollar dock?” Tom looks up, small piece of meat on the corner of his lip. “I want to feel comfortable, this is my house.” “Sweetie.” “You don’t understand. You don’t know.” “Then paint it, buy some furniture.” He did not know a single one of the children’s teachers or which grocery store she frequented. “That’s like a man getting murdered in our living room and us just switching out the carpet.” “Quit over-reacting. It’s the same hunk of wood it always was.” The officers had accepted the invitation in for the coffee. The four of them took their coffee black in the windowless dining room. They commented on the beauty of her children. They did not say a word about her dead boy, only that they would try to keep everyone off of her grass. She’d just had the landscaper lay down new sod. “But I’m not the same person walking on it.” She clears the plates. He washes. She dries. Tom never remembers where the pans go; he still puts them in the spots they’d been in their first studio apartment. They listen to the countdown to the storm as the first bands start stirring. When a commercial break begins they go to shower together. He massages her back lightly, right where she’d liked it twenty years ago. “It won’t be so bothersome in the morning. Believe me.” Tim’s breath is at the nape of her neck. He loves her. Sleeping together isn’t even an option as he begins to snore, something he never used to do, now just loud enough that the rain can’t drown it out. Falling asleep takes far too long. Tim shakes her awake. She likes to sleep in now that children have grounded down her stamina. He never remembers. They have slept through the storm and he is standing beside their bed. He is pulling her to her feet and

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tugging her out of the bedroom. The power is out and the hall is bathed in the kind of light that exists in the few moments between night and dawn. Everything looks paper thin. She could squish him between two fingers. The world seems to echo. When she tries to pull back as Tim attempts to bring her to kitchen, his fingers only tighten. “You’ll want to see this.” There is a shipyard. Planks of wood lie scattered about like décor. The water inching closer to the backdoor with each incoming wave. And the dock. Gone. The undersides of each board barnacled and chipped, from battering long before the storm. They are everywhere. “I thought it had been reinforced with metal beams.” Tim says with a sigh. He had never been there for a moment of the construction. “It definitely appeared that way,” she whispers. He comes up behind her, tangles an arm around her waist the way she liked when she’d hoped he would eventually learn the curve of her spine. She feels the goosebumps that ripple unevenly against her stomach, cotton shirt riding up. The skin holding the greasiness of freshly opened packaging. She squints, eyes turning to the water. Pulled back and now flooding forth.

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Eruption

Sharya Mccray 62


“Consent”

Harleigh Murray Two boys chase each other With knives, Coax me To join them. I choke on petals Falling from my lips As they usher me into the garage. The boy with the lazy eye whispers His hot breath Slides down the back of my neck. The boys lick their teeth, scrape Tongues against lips and gums Saliva drips from the corners of their mouths. Their sweat-filled pores Glint and wink at me. My bones twitch In the cavity of my chest. They curl fingers into skin like a stream winding my veins around their fingers. The soft pop of my vessels explode. When they’re done, I try to close the hole in my body, Mend broken flesh. I stick my hand under the ribcage, Adjust a deflated lung. Organs hang from the cavity as my heart continues To pump blood onto the floor. I pull my flesh together and stand, My broken veins bleed out. The shadow of their fingers still On my skin. 63


Wind-Up Boy Gabrielle Broome

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Life and my uncle’s sand dollars Reece Braswell

Atlanta’s buildings were gray and cold rain coated their windows  in little droplets. Lights were on inside, representing the people still breathing. Moving. Leaning over office papers like Jenga blocks, until  they crumble and fall and go home.    I felt like I was falling,  failing to stop my cold body from  quaking as if I was sand  when nimble fingers of white foam  knead it like dough. I wasn’t home, I realized, as I walked steep inclines to a restaurant where I’d never eaten to have sandwiches with someone who I had not seen in a while.   The aroma of beer hovered  above the soft waves of music and I stopped in the doorway,   and I saw Vernon. Air from the outside coiled around my face with its clammy hands, and I stood there, staring, because I never thought he could look so unfamiliar   without a smile. Without a tan. Without the beach behind him and a red bucket in his hand, brown sand dollars,  with little flecks of white hair, and small mouths  on their bellies piled inside.   I remember on that day two years ago, how they weren’t crusty  or bleached or easily torn to bits  like a weak lung.

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I remember how compelled I was to be tender. After coming up from the shore, he had said, “hello,” and told me to hold the bucket while he went onto the porch  and lit cigarette. The scent  of his tobacco sewed a trail of ashy footprints  into the sky of an ending day.   I looked at the sand dollars in my hands and I knew then, Vernon couldn’t breathe underwater. Yet he’d gone out, and let his feet dangle above the deep, trying to find these tiny brown disks on the ocean floor.   I wondered if he felt the water swell around his limbs like it had a heartbeat. Like it was a living creature; one that gurgles and  tosses when sick with lightning or thunder,   and I wondered then if his breath was more dedicated to those cigarettes and these sand dollars than to himself.   After that, I remember hearing something diffusing in a cup of water, a faint sizzle, and I knew he was done smoking because he came back down the stairs. I gave him the bucket.  I said, “thanks.”   After the sandwiches and conversations of, “wow, you’ve grown so much,” and  “this is one of the best spots in the city,” Vernon, my mom, and my two aunts went outside  and nestled cigarettes in between their teeth.    I looked onto the table at Vernon’s plate, his sandwich uneaten and stale, flies beginning to collect around it, fighting each other. 

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The chemo took his appetite away, they said. But that was it. They reentered the restaurant, their breath smoky and toxic, and we all hugged and said goodbye to each other, as if we were all going to see one another again; where, I was going to grow more and we were going to find another spot in the city and  Vernon was going to smile again.   I was told it was a quiet funeral. It only consisted of two people, my grandmother and my aunt.   Nobody wanted to remember his face under the lid of a casket. They still saw him in a restaurant at Christmas,  and behind one of his cigarettes, his eyes lingering on the horizon while life unfolded and crumpled at the shore, like love.

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William Tell Overture Meredith Abdelnour

As a child, I did not understand classical music, socks, or taxes. The symphony always lulled me into sleep and my father had to wake me, gently nudging my elbow so I would sit up in the soft velvet chairs. After the shows, we would go out on the river, where the air wrapped its chilly arms around us and he would spin me around, dancing to music that was no longer playing. I was untouchable in my stiff pink dress, with warmth radiating from my candied pecans. Elegance is my eighth birthday. The hum of the violins. My father has always held my hand, despite the many times I would pull away. There was always something else, something gleaming just across the fence, and although his arms were big they were not long enough for me to hold onto. Hand-in-hand turned into an arms-length away which became stay within eyesight which, like all rules, evaporated. William Tell Overture begins with a rhapsody. My father does not know me like he used to. Last month, he drove us out to a lake infested with mosquitos that sunk into my flesh before I even left the car. My legs dangled off the dock, splinters of wood fluttering

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Neither of us knew much about fishing, but for some reason he thought we should take this opportunity to learn. Holding the rod loosely, I told him I saw no point in hurting something we did not need to hurt. He did not respond. Stilted summer air coated my shoulders and I waited. I felt a tug and a cacophony rose up from behind me as I followed my father’s instructions and reeled the line in. I did not want this and I screamed. I saw the hook piercing the fish through the mouth; its eye was filled with either desperation or resignation, I have not yet decided.

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Too Late

Alivia Rukmana 70


This is how a girl’s mother teaches her to pick figs:

Oona Roberts

to pluck them from the highest branch, to split them open and eat them raw, to swallow the pink, unknowing nectar; the soft, buttery skin. Everything but the pit. She lets her daughter guzzle each down until her stomach swells with blossom, and dirt, and blood, and fig, which sit in the bottom of her gut, and wait. Until one day, she eats too many figs. Sugar oxidizes to vomit in her throat, slips its way up her trachea and onto her tongue, spills from between her lips before she can stop it. Figs, once lusciously ripened, are now splayed across the ground like gray matter, or a dropped drink. Her mother would be ashamed. Of how she retched too loudly. how she gorged until her stomach was too big, too fat, too filled with fruit. Her mother only ever taught her to let the juice dribble to her chin, to watch it trickle from honey-kissed fingertips as it fed the grass, the fertile dirt—certainly never anything about the sickly-sweet scent of figs nestled in vomit, the taste of bile inching its way from stomach to mouth. Perhaps this was because her mother hoped that her daughter would realize the potential in her half-moon hands before they got too dirty, too busy cleaning up after themselves, yet now they simply grasp and grasp, always searching for more figs to eat, more pits to discard, more juice to sit, and wait, and rise.

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Symptoms of a Thinker Alexa Naparstek

There is no fate that cannot be surmounted by scorn. -Albert Camus, “The Myth of Sisyphus” I possess a perpetual, unbridled habit that brings along a surfeit of associations. I’ve stared at water bottles only to be reminded of the ocean, then earth, then the universe; I begin to wonder if the universe is finite or infinite, perhaps both at the same time, coexisting beyond human comprehension. I start to worry about how in billions of years, far beyond my lifespan, what will happen to my existence, and burned corpse when the Milky Way and Andromeda decide to dance together and become one. I turn, still and limp, unable to move my being the way an abled human should. My head falls, consistently heavy, and breaks the tension from my pillow and me. What will become of my body when it no longer can be proven to have existed by humans? My dialogue and actions will have been wasted life. The earth and I will cease to exist, never to be heard of by anyone. “I truly relish in the lassitude that takes a toll on my person.” Life goes on, even when humans won’t, and each day adds to the sadness of my inevitable passing. A fact that hitherto, was rigid to swallow and harder to digest. I’ve vowed that one day I will find the purpose of my movements, even if there is none. * My therapist has categorized my restless mind as “anxiety,” but I have relabeled it as a growing infatuation with abstract theories as opposed to the physical. Different minds use their version of naïve taxonomy quite loosely, I’ve discovered. If my mind is a weakness then it shall become my fatal flaw, for it is one of the few things that matters to me in the slightest bit. I will continue to learn and fill my room with books, even if it causes more damage for I will not stop my love!

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My mother speaks with a psychic who tells her I am not grounded enough, but how can she know when she’s never watched how far I can float and fly then come back down with words formulated upon my tongue and pillow? No, I’m merely a floating, faceless, lively corpse with fasteners to the soil that are loose, while my surroundings are trying to repair it, but my mind is its own. My wrists would be tied with string from a balloon, cultivated from questions that make me more in touch with the thoughts people have rather than their spoken words. I wave to the moon from time to time. I prefer the air, it’s more open, and I can think and flail my arms in peace. The issue with having an absolute intrigue towards everything surrounding you is that it slowly feasts off your sanity; knowledge is both a saint and a parasite. I am Sisyphus, rolling scrolls of books and ideas up the cliff that is my dread, wiping my bloody hands off, only for them to plummet to the ground once more. Then, with a plea of defeat, I throw myself down the cliff to save them. For I truly relish in the lassitude that takes a toll on my person. I find that with each session of dreadfully-intense thinking, I am trying to find answers to questions I know belong on shelves, to display as collector’s items that will possibly never have any sincere value. Perhaps this, in the way things are shaping out, is my purpose: to find none. I will not be disappointed if this is the outcome. My life will not be wasted from staring at the light from dead stars, for I will know my eyes have watched the most magnificent being of science. My time was not spent in vain watching the trees swaying back and forth or hovering life forms. I am starting to believe in Nietzsche’s truth. If I annul the purpose of my life, then my hopeful body will assume the findings of the lack of it must be.

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Morning Coffee Antonio Colรณn

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Profile for Élan Literary Magazine

Élan Fall 2017 Edition  

Élan is an international student literary magazine and a publication of the Creative Writing department at Douglas Anderson School of the Ar...

Élan Fall 2017 Edition  

Élan is an international student literary magazine and a publication of the Creative Writing department at Douglas Anderson School of the Ar...

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