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Volume 31 | Issue 1 Editors-in-Chief Mary Feimi Alexis Williams Ana Shaw Layout & Design Kiara Ivey Oona Roberts Art Zac Carter Mackenzie Steele Poetry Gabriella Christenson Fiction Seth Gozar McKenzie Fox Creative Nonfiction Lindsay Yarn Managing Editor Zarra Marlowe Digital Communications Chelsea Ashley Website/Submissions Makinley Dozier Lindsay Yarn Social Media Logan Monds Mckenzie Fox Community Engagement Madison Dorsey Savana Pendarvis

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Creative Writing Department

DEPARTMENT CHAIR Liz Flaisig

CREATIVE WRITING INSTRUCTORS Jennifer Bundy Tiffany Melanson

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Contents Spotlight Kashta Dozier-Muhammad

Cover art

Fruits Noland Blain

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Affection Eryka Goldsworthy

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Kingsley Lake Escape Logan Monds

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Untitled Janai Dawkins

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Zanzibar A. Williams

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Carrot Tusks Morgan Colson

15

Study of my Room Cam Collins

16

To Disappointment Katy Kim

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Fisher Boy Tye Rothberg

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Preslen Jennifer Hiltz

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In Jersey Ruben Adkins

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consumption Kiara Ivey

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Slum Muses Alexandra Bowman

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Peppers Logan Monds

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Bagel Eyes-Ahmed Morgon Colson

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Van Gogh’s Tribute Austin Abistado

32

Culling Season Katy Kim

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Pulse (Stonewall, 1969) Zac Carter

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Writhing Justin Darrow

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Portrait of a Boy Kianna Henshaw

36

Brother. Savana Pendarvis

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Sacrifices of Bearing Fruit Madison Dorsey

38

Young Love Dylan Sheppard

39

St. Samantha Moody

40

Wild Man Destiny Reid

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Stop Justas Petter

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Canopy Ujwal Rajaputhra

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Out on a Limb Kianna Henshaw

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Mom Samantha Moody

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Veins Savana Pemdarvis

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“Sir” Seth Gozar

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Perspective Carson Zehner

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Blowing the Wind Justas Petter

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How to Make a Black Hole Destiny Reid

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Robot rebellion (and the end of the world) Oona Roberts

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Everyday Knowlton Anderson

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The Cold Summer Lizzie Hartless

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Road Trip Liam Foster

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In and Out A. Williams

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Can’t you swim? Chelsea Ashley

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My Life Matters Preslen Alteus

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Stains of Spanish Grease Evelyn Alfonso

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Milkmaid Eryka Goldsworthy

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Inspired by “Interception” by Mark Tansey Sierra Wise

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Advanced Father Cam Collins

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Ours Logan Monds

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Made of Hands Antonio S. Colón

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A lot can happen on a lukewarm day Oona Roberts

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When Satan Lied to Eve Chelsea Ashley

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Hand of God Kaitlyn Medders

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Frida Kahlo’s Guide to Motherhood Mary Feimi

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Rainfall Chloe Buffington

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Maps of places you’ve been Meredith Abdelnour

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The Edge Knowlton Anderson

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I don’t know how this works, all I know is that Olivia Ragan

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Fruits

Noland Blain

Your words are too ripe. Sweet, sticky fodder for flies. I take hulking bites.

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Affection

Eryka Goldsworthy 9


Kingsley Lake Escape Logan Monds

each lake house contains the same framed photograph, a bird’s-eye view of the body shouted into existence by asteroid impact, filled by hurricane spillover, round as a cue ball, deep blue. this is the body we slip into with noon-burned necks, mixing our sweat and spit in what feels like bathwater and we leave our other bodies indoors, cold and idle in worry as they draw and watch television and panic. they love the photograph and want to slide into the water beside us but we know what the sun does to them; the skin scalds and scabs until the bodies are humid on the inside, condensation leaking from their noses while we laugh and swim and the dock splinters our feet to bleed. the bodies die on the grass like vampires, but resurrection hits by the end of the week, while we pack, shoving toothbrushes into shoes as the bodies wait in the car for the reuniting, the painful drive where we don’t have the heart to listen to music, praying that the bodies will once again burn in the heat that summer brings.

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Untitled Janai Dawkins

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Zanzibar A. Williams

“Since at least colonial times, it has been believed that witches exercise their magical control over leopards to harass other people. Harming, or even catching sight of, a witch’s leopard was, and is, believed to result in a range of grave afflictions.” —Helle V. Goldman and Martin T. Walsh, “Is the Zanzibar Leopard (Panthera pardus adersi) Extinct”

U

lma and Florence found each possessions from his bungalow other again on the cobblestone on Langi Langi Beach and when streets of Stone Town. He they arrived, the only thing he had pedaled on a yellow bicycle around for them to take was Sebastian. venders and she walked with snake- The taxidermy Zanzibar leopard like sandal straps climbing her legs had black stones for eyes and a and bright red nails blocking her face fresh fur coat like a newborn cub, from the sun. As they passed, their emitting a dim glow. eyes hooked as if by a cosmic pull. He’d bought it from a Florence swerved around and hit his mossy old woman in the outskirts brakes. Months before, he’d carved of the desert. The walls of her her name into his headboard thirteen antique shoppe were lined with times in cages in which cursive before leopards slept donating the “The truth was, he was afraid to on their paws bed frame to leave. Death rattled in his ears.” and beat the a local thrift warm air with store and moving, for the fifth time striped tails. Florence wondered in his life, thousands of miles to the if these were the last of them, and east. He had done this with every old if so, how she had thing he rid himself of. He hoped a managed to slip them all into an young boy would find Ulma written enclosure. She nursed her cubs as on the inner fabric of his fishing hat if she’d borne them herself. When and be peculiarly reminded of love. they died, she stuffed them. The Hey, you, she said to him one Florence bought was named softly among the noise and wind, Sebastian. wearing the proud smile of a He was real quiet, that discoverer. She’d been waiting for one, the woman said. He never someone, and here he was. could look anybody in the eye. They married for the sake of By all means, take him. He’s convenience. handsome, that’s for sure. Ulma lived alone in a seaside So Florence loaded mansion before Florence moved in. Sebastian in the back of his pickup She called up two men to pick up his and left the desert for Zanzibar. 12


The city was close there. He roamed the busy sidewalks between buildings looming like tall children with a knot of sunken fervor in his stomach for the Ulma he had loved when he was a boy, Ulma the heartbreaker, the prettiest girl in school. He was the twenty-seventh boy she had ever kissed when they were young. It happened in the underground tunnel below the soccer field before dusk and they were in their pajamas and listening to the Velvet Underground. Ulma’s favorite band. She’d been with other boys before, but he didn’t know how many, and his mother had taught him everything he needed to know about love. He couldn’t remember it all, of course, but he knew the dark in her eyes so close to his face made his bones feel soft, and with their noses pressed together he did his deepest thinking. He’d returned to the tunnel every morning hoping to find her there, painting her nails a bright red in the flickering candlelight, but she never showed. Their first night together, she bathed in the marble tub while his voice swirled in from the bedroom. She liked when he sang. It made her feel less alone. In mid-June, they sunned on the back patio beside the pool. She held a sweating glass of tea in one hand. He was immersed in Moby Dick. Opposite the pool, Sebastian gazed from the palms and Elephant Ears shielding the patio from the garden. Ulma thought she’d seen him move in her peripheral. She felt one day he might up and leave. When are you getting rid of

that thing? Florence looked up from his book. Sebastian? Yes, the dead one. I’m not. You are, because I don’t like it. It gives me a bad feeling. I’ll have my men pick it up in the morning. Does he smell? We can do something about a smell. It’s not a smell, Florence. Then what is it? Ulma sighed. It’s nothing. Forget it. Florence kept reading. The earth shook that night. Ulma was standing on an armchair in her nightgown, replacing the painting above the fireplace with an abstract piece bursting with vermilion and gold, and Florence had locked himself inside his study to read. Before Ulma could find the hook on the wall, the ground swooped her off of her feet and she collapsed. The candles along the mantle toppled over onto her body. She shrieked. Florence came rushing, groping the walls to steady himself, and helped her to the bathroom where he doused her in water and wrapped her in gauze wherever she told him it hurt. Let’s go somewhere, she said with her ankle in his hands. We can’t. Why not? Florence had no real answer. He trembled as he wrapped the gauze. The truth was, he was afraid to leave. Death rattled in his ears. She looked across the room at her reflection and wasn’t sure she 13


was seeing it at all. She wondered if She hoped he was happy, this was how endangered animals wherever he was. felt as they watched themselves die off, approaching extinction like a continental shelf. She soon realized he’d been having nightmares. They slept on opposite ends of the upstairs hall, but she could hear him screaming in the night, as if watching himself peel away with the wind. She considered waking him up. Instead, she pulled the sheets up to her neck and listened until she managed to fall back to sleep. At dawn, she followed footprints in the flower bed out to the deck and found him in the ocean, drifting limply toward the horizon. She stood on the shore in disbelief. He was gone. It was a shame, really—she’d chosen him out of every other man in the world for the sake of convenience and he had cheated her of love. She moved her things up to the attic where she could watch the clouds shift around the palm trees like suds on water when the sun stretched out from under its resting place in the hills. She hummed to the Velvet Underground while she dusted her beautiful things and fantasized often of dying up there in her sleep, huddled beside the window and decaying. A dreaming corpse. She knew it wouldn’t happen this way. She would trip over the rug and break her hip or forget to burn out the candles and set the mansion on fire. More buildings had risen in the distance, as if from the pit of the earth. She woke one morning to go for a swim and found that the leopard in the garden had vanished. 14


Carrot Tusks Morgan Colson

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Study of My Room Cam Collins

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To Disappointment Katy Kim

Sallow and peach faced you milked the cow left to me. Udder to udder— it was an extensive farm. Your hands were dexterous— fingers spun cocoons to suffocate in wool / candyfloss / tar / wool / candyfloss / tar Disappointment— you never looked my way only glanced back when I’d turned to my labor. (man the kiln, nail horseshoes, can overripe fruit) But you always spoke of my fruits, Disappointment— gooseberries

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Fisher Boy Tye Rothberg

INT. INNER CITY APARTMENT - MORNING JOSHUA, 17 year old devoted black high school student, is getting ready for school. He takes books off the counter and puts them in his faded backpack. He grabs his wallet off his bedside table. Hanging on his wall is a clock that is broken - it ticks, but the second hand only moves back and forth. In the background is a poster of New York City. He opens a closet and removes a fishing net. Josh turns off a TV set that is playing “Alice in Wonderland.” We see his face for the first time as he takes a protein bar out of a drawer. INT. MOTHER’S ROOM - MORNING He walks into a bedroom and puts his hand on the back of someone lying in the bed. We pan up to reveal it’s Josh’s MOTHER, late 40s, weak, dying. She smiles at Josh as he kisses her forehead and walks out of the apartment. INT. SCHOOL CLASSROOM - DAY Josh sits at his desk, which is covered in textbooks and papers. Some of the papers have good grades written on them, revealing Josh is a good student. Papers scatter the desk with illustrations of scenes from “Alice in Wonderland.” Hidden behind a stack of two textbooks sits a checkbook that Josh is writing in. It is very detailed and meticulous. A teacher is teaching at the front of the room; however, Josh isn’t paying attention. EXT. RIVERSIDE - DAY Josh is fishing with the net in the river. He pulls in a few fish and puts them into a white Styrofoam cooler. He casts the net a few more times catching very few fish. Another fisherman stands next to him. He is an older man with a gruff white beard and a large belly. This is GUS. GUS Okay, how about this: if I catch two fish before you catch anything in your useless little net I win back the money I bet last week. JOSH (smiling) And if I catch something? 18


GUS I’ll buy you a bus ticket straight to New York. JOSH Gus, you know I can’t do that right now. There is a pause as Gus considers Josh’s response GUS You can’t just put your dreams on hold like a library book, Josh. You’re a young man with a big future, and that future sure as hell doesn’t start in a city like this. Josh takes this in but doesn’t respond as he gazes out across the river. EXT. RIVERSIDE - DUSK (LATER) He takes the cooler and his net and puts them onto a rig he has attached to the back of his bicycle. He bikes away from the riverfront. GUS See you tomorrow fisher boy! EXT. LOCAL FISH MARKET - DAY Josh walks up to a booth at a market. A sign reads, “Fresh Fish” He sets the cooler on the table of the booth. The OWNER opens the cooler and looks inside. He pulls a few dollar bills from his wallet and hands it to the boy. INT. PHARMACY - DAY Josh is in line at the local pharmacy with his backpack thrown over his shoulder. The person in front of him gets their medications and leaves. Josh approaches the window. JOSH Meyers please, Leslie Myers. The women at the counter exits the window and comes back sliding a pill bottle to Josh. Josh slips it into his bag and leaves. INT. INNER CITY APARTMENT - NIGHT Josh enters the apartment. He picks up the mail from the floor and opens it. Josh pulls out 2 $10 bills and a note that reads, “It’s all I have right now, Leslie. I’m sorry. Tell Josh I said hi.”- Mike. Josh sighs and 19


pockets the money. INT. MOTHER’S ROOM - NIGHT Josh walks into his mother’s bedroom and places her pills on the bedside table. She is sleeping. He takes a seat on the edge of the bed and slowly begins strumming his guitar, softly singing a song to his mother. INT. JOSH’S BEDROOM - NIGHT Josh lays on his bed doing homework and eating Ramen noodles. In the background “Alice in Wonderland” plays on a small TV. The clock ticks in the background. He pulls out 3 dollars from his wallet and slips them into a jar next to his bed. Written in sharpie on the jar are the words “New York”. He closes the jar. The New York poster sits in the background. Josh gets up and ejects the tape of “Alice in Wonderland”. Written on the tape are the words “I hope you find your rabbit hole, my love - Mom” EXT. RIVERSIDE - DUSK Josh fishes as the sun sets. He sits on the edge of the bank while playing his guitar. INT. INNER CITY APARTMENT - NIGHT Josh walks into his mother’s room. He kisses her on the cheek and sets a bowl of soup on her bedside table. INT. SCHOOL CLASSROOM - DAY Josh sits at his desk doodling the scene from Alice in Wonderland where Alice falls down the rabbit hole. Instead of Alice, though, Josh is falling down the rabbit hole. At the top of the hole is an image of Josh fishing and below the hole is the New York skyline. INT. JOSH’S BEDROOM - NIGHT Josh lies on his bed strumming his guitar as the clock ticks back and forth. INT. JOSH’S BEDROOM - MORNING Josh wakes up to the sound of lightning cracking. He looks outside to see it’s raining very hard. 20


EXT. RIVERSIDE - DAY Josh is fishing in a bad rainstorm and he is struggling. Lightning cracks and rumbles. INT. INNER CITY APARTMENT - DAY Josh walks into the apartment soaked and shivering. Thunder rumbles. He walks into his mother’s room. She is sitting up in bed, coughing hysterically. Josh quickly grabs his mother’s hand to provide support. He looks at her desperately. Tears roll down her cheeks. The two lock eyes and we see Josh’s mother’s true look of desperation. Josh’s mother begins coughing again. She makes a grab for her pill bottle that sits on her bedside table and accidentally knocks the bottle off the table, spilling the pills all over the floor. They falls into the vent that sits on the floor. Josh scrabbles to the ground, attempting to pick up any pills; however, they are all gone. Josh comes off from the floor to see his mother coughing up blood. He quickly leaves the room. INT. JOSH’S BEDROOM - DAY Josh grabs the New York jar and removes all the money before bolting for the door. INT. PHARMACY - DAY Josh runs to the front of the line at the pharmacy. JOSH Leslie Myers, please. The employee appears to be taking her time. JOSH (angry and yelling) Leslie Myers, please! Josh quickly slides the money under the window and receives the pill bottle. INT. MOTHER’S ROOM - DAY Josh quickly swings open the door to his mother’s bedroom. There is silence. His mother lies in the bed; she doesn’t move. Josh walks up to 21


her and places his hand on her back- tears fill his eyes. He places his head on her back and begins to cry. INT. INNER CITY APARTMENT - DAY QUICK CUTS: Josh throws his mom’s medications out, he ejects “Alice in Wonderland” from his TV, he folds his mother’s bedsheets around her body. Josh exits the apartment, slamming the door shut. The impact shakes the apartment. We see the clock - the second hand finally begins ticking forward. EXT. RIVERSIDE - DUSK As the sun sets, Josh stands over a small mound that sits next to the river. Standing straight up is a bright red flower. Josh stands over the grave softly playing his guitar. Gus approaches the grave site. He hands Josh a slip of paper. GUS Send me a postcard, fisher boy. Gus smiles at Josh before walking away. JOSH Hey, Gus! Gus turns around. Josh hands him his net.

Gus accepts the gift.

JOSH Give the net a shot, for me.

EXT. BUS STATION - NIGHT Josh sits at a bench at a bus station. He holds a ticket in his hand and a trash bag in the other. He has his guitar on his back. He looks up and stands as a bus pulls in. Josh hands his ticket to a WOMEN. She looks at it and we see it reads “New York”. Josh boards the bus. INT. BUS - NIGHT Josh opens the trash bag and pulls out the “Alice in Wonderland” tape. He looks at it with tears in his eyes and slowly smiles.  

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Preslen Jennifer Hiltz

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In Jersey Ruben Atkins

oh, and never was I let in among their children rotten skinny hide and bone chattering to the core; he who the devil took long before his existence. a baby who has eaten his brothers in the womb is damned forever to be ostracized. I don’t know why I expected her forgiveness after the case; the talon-point. facts are: I was never wanted here and the nameless had their eyes on me long before I could have consented to evil (though I cannot say I would have otherwise refused); and I know it’s her fault, she who cursed me from the second push---where henceforth I surged out from the berth of her hips, wings uncapping shoulderblades; whinnied; took off into the wasted earth.

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consumption Kiara Ivey

“They wanted to stay with the Lotus-eaters, eating the lotus, forgetting all thoughts of return. I dragged those men back to the shore myself by force, while they wept…” -The Odyssey we watched the men slip our bodies past their lips suckling on our sweet petals, tongues slurping teeth grinding our soft frames in a ravenous desperation. velvet slicking up their mouths, we saw Odysseus. saw the stones collect in his chest, a fire flicker in his belly swelling over like the tide. we curled into ourselves, taking the sunlight with us. sisters upon sisters pink lilac petals upon petals, supple and moist ripped from our stems. we spent time delicately agonizing as the men gagged on our bodies, mouths stringing together gibberish as our nectar flowed into their taut muscled frames like dew drop honey. 25


euphoric, hypnotic, we are delicious. we’ve turned war boys into babies overstimulated and still hungry. another monster Odysseus thought, another monster. but we are lotus plants pristine, plump and cowering, wilted. we let the men draw us into their tight bellies.

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Slum Muses Alexandra Bowman

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Peppers Logan Monds

T

he night after she and her will call your father.” She brushed mother found a dead man in the into the hallway to use the phone. pepper garden, Camila couldn’t Camila took her mother’s place sleep. The man was crawling beneath at the bowl and smoothed out her bed like a broken arachnid. the dough quietly, but she did Hunched in the closet. Clinging to not hear her mother speak. Her the ceiling, a dusty moth. She refused mother returned in time to fold to open her eyes, fearful tears and the dough and ushered Camila gasps crowding with her beneath the back to the table, where she covers as she hid. If she was attacked, chipped at the beaten edges with her mother could only run in with a a butter knife. “Whoever’s asking baseball bat and incoordination. Her about your father,” her mother father had a gun, but it was in the car, said, “you tell them that he caught and he was in the car, and the car was wanderlust. He likes to go off by somewhere, had been for the past himself sometimes. This is just three nights. how your father is.” In the morning, she asked, Camila was thankful that “When will Papa come home?” the man had decided to die in the Her mother scraped the pepper garden rather than the bottom of the corn patch; the cracked bowl peppers would of tortilla “All good things end so sadly.” not bloom for dough with her another three unpainted nails, cuticles drawn tight weeks, and by that time, her to the beds like kicked sheets. “He mother said, the man would be will come home when he feels better. gone. Still, she picked corn as Why, has someone asked?” quickly as she could without “What do we do about the damaging the stalks and set man?” the cobs in a large wicker Camila’s mother picked out a basket that had been woven glob of dough and pressed it flat in by her grandmother while her her palm, smudging white patches grandfather fought a war. The of cornflour until they fade. “I do smell of the dead man left Camila not want to call the police. They will breathing as little as possible wonder what happened, and when I and working faster. Mule, rotten say that we don’t know, we will be in fruit, burning plastic, sweet trouble.” chili pepper; the man smelled of “But won’t he start to stink?” everything, the way that an ugly Pushing the handful of dough shade of brown is mixed from back into its bowl, Camila’s mother all other colors. The basket of rubbed her hands off on her apron. “I corn was piled high within fifteen 28


minutes, and she stood to head for the back porch so she could clean the corn. The garden loomed within her peripheral vision. The man was there, face-down, too still to be asleep. Her eyes watered from the stench. She bent to gag and spat into the dirt. She wiped her mouth on the back of her hand and nudged the toe of her sandal over the spit before pressing it into the dirt. She dared to look at the man; he still declined to move, now burned red by the sun and withered slim by the heat. She wished he would stand up, dust himself off, walk down the street and call himself a cab from the corner, return home. That night, she dreamed that the man was crying in the yard. His bones cut through his skin like quartz rods and rendered him bloody, too warm. He was hurting. He needed help, but she remained in her bed, holding her breath. Why hadn’t her father come to take the body away? The man rotted in the sun, sobbed beneath the moon. Camila heard the thrum of her father’s engine. The gun being loaded, heavy clinking little sounds before the ca-chack of the hammer pulled back. No screams. She curled into her knees and prayed. In the afternoon, Camila asked, “Can we burn the man?” Her mother rinsed tomato juice from her hands. “We are not Pagans, mija.” “He makes me feel sick.” Camila thought about the thinning man, slowly swallowed by the earth of their pepper garden. “When will Papa answer you on the phone?” Her mother switched off the

faucet and turned to face Camila, who sat at the scuffed table with her head against her arm. Her mother said, “Have more faith,” and turned back to the tomatoes. After lunch, Camila tried riding her bike. Her father had brought it home weeks ago, spokes freckled with rust and tassels ripped from the hand grips. It rode slightly lopsided because of the training wheels, but she loved it still. You are trying to get our little girl to grow up, her mother accused, and her father laughed, All good things end so sadly. The smell had died down somewhat and the armadillos had chewed through a bit of the man’s shoulder, but there was no blood. She did slow circles through the yard, feet tangling through the pedals in turn. She stopped the bike with the tips of her toes and knelt to pull the training wheels from their bolts. She was old enough to do this. She mounted the bike again and kicked forward, pulled her dark legs into position, and pushed, pushed, pushed, yanked the handlebars to a sharp left, fell with a cry, scuffed her knees, sobbed bitterly with her arms crossed over her head. Her father had promised to teach her how to ride only days before he left. Wanderlust, she thought as she pushed herself up. She would try again later. The worst dream of the man came that night, after she fell asleep wondering why her father needed a gun for his wanderlust. He was standing in her doorway, frail and crying under jail bars of moonlight. The fear was fleeting, and she sat up from her bed, too 29


many nights of barely breathing arced across her back. She looked up at him and kicked her covers down before stepping onto the cool floor. She met him with open arms, pushing their frames together until she could hear his heart like an ocean shell. She looked up to see her father’s cigar-tan face, smile smashed up beneath his unruly mustache. Even in the dream, Camila knew the man in the pepper beds had been pale before the sun ravaged him, and tall, unlike her father, who only stood a few inches above her mother. The blood that ran from her father’s chest was cold and washed down her shoulders in rivets like a waterfall, and kept flowing, like he was bottomless. And she held the sobbing man and let him choke into her hair that he was sorry while he pressed tight guilt into her back with dirty fingernails, but what she heard was ca-chack, once, loud as thunder, and knew she had nothing to say.

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Bagel Eyes-Ahmed Morgan Colson

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Katy Kim

Van Gogh’s Tribute Austin Abistado

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Culling Season Katy Kim

after Rumi A body unrestrained by flora or fauna you knew I wanted to be a pork cutlet before I did— it was all meat. We were cautious in our convection oven (in the mirrors as well as in our faces) so we brined grief for our tenderloin shanked— canned overripe fruit. Dinner—we’d always share it tangled up in the fibers by the ventricles. Culled the medium—medium rare.

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Pulse (Stonewall, 1969) Zac Carter

I. Bowie’s voice cracks in and out, over and over on a broken record as jagged glass protrudes from the window frame like the teeth of a shark, jutting from its enflamed gums, the blood still dripping from its last kill. Stagnant brown beer drips from the bar, as in the streets our bruised bodies retaliate, beaten to stringy pulp and tendon, broken ribs twisted inside our bodies, so close to puncturing our lungs, blinded and deafened by the harpy cry of police sirens. This will be our history: batons swinging at our already limp bodies, cries that pierce suffocating air and we hope to God that it isn’t our lover, over and over— II. The heavy beat of club music pulses through the floor through humid, thick hair, pierced by the popping sound of gunshots. I don’t have time to ask why before I become a lite brite of bullet holes. The draining carcass of a cow, hanging upside down in a slaughter house. and next to me drinks left unattended, spilled, dripping down into the still gaping mouth of a man, husband on top of him, arms intertwined and twisted together like the gnarled branches of an old tree. 34


My mangled body laid next to them for hours. All of us, in rows, and on top of each other, in piles, blood draining from our bodies like the beat of the music over and over—

Writhing Justin Darrow

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Portrait of a Boy Kianna Henshaw

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Brother.

Savana Pendarvis

I still call his phone each night just to hear the voicemail. Voice strong and steady in my ear. His room was left in shambles. Shirts strewn across chairs and floor scent of cologne and sweat clinging to their seams. Video game consoles hum like his snores. I look at the book shelf by his door trace my fingers over each cold stiff spine let them linger on every wrinkle and bend. He is the sun shining through the window blocking all sight of this room. I have been standing here blind for so long that I cannot remember his face.

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Sacrifices of Bearing Fruit Madison Dorsey

You must’ve heard the fresh seeds rattling in my bones. Arrived stumbling, chirping. Hungrily staring at my cracked open tree trunk. As you drank, my leaves wrinkled like dead skin. Branches bent and splintering just enough to cradle a nest, drooping, dripping low. But your trill songs woke me early enough to watch the sun rise. Your toes walked the expanse of my back, tickling hard bark. Gentle breathing matching mine under a stretch of stars. A give and take. You have grown now, sprouted feathers on bare wings now the length of my branches. I creak under your weight. You snapped at my fingertips when I reached out to catch you from falling, flying. Now sap pours, drips until dry, dropping all my seeds into the ground, they blossom.

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Young Love Dylan Sheppard

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St.

Samantha Moody 40


Wild Man Destiny Reid

T

he boy was only thirteen, close three inches of dust, wipe down to being in high school, but far the counters with a wet napkin, away altogether. He looked like and the remove stains from the a sophomore, beard taking up his microwave window with your chin and the tallest one in class. His thumb covered in saliva. bushy hair draped over his eyebrows. He got out of prison that Bruised thighs, wrists, red elbows, morning after fifteen years. He ripped dress; your underwear draped was only seventeen when he around your ankles-- polka-dots. went, now he’s thirty-two and Your face was sticky, crusty still doesn’t know what Bourbon with dripping mascara. tastes like or how a woman feels. His sweat covered every inch of you. You half expected him to stop by, His chest heavy, like ocean it wasn’t surprising that Daniel waves, his breathing slamming into stood outside the screen door, his your stomach. You were hand already firmly placed on the sixteen at the time, knob. Your your rectangular “Clean the house once more name slid off glasses framing his snakeyour eyes. Fitted because you’ve been dirty for like tongue. shirt, tight-lipped Though you fifteen years.” smile hiding the didn’t say braces that you were embarrassed of. anything, just looked down at Your dark blond curls, made the boy your marble blue chipped nail tell you, you smelt like his favorite polish and bit your stained lips, coffee. not bothering to look at his pixel His lips grinding into yours. face through the door. Daniel was seventeen and You invited him in for best friend of yours. He killed the coffee, even though you weren’t boy when he found out what he did sure. to you. You don’t know exactly what He stirred his coffee Daniel did to him, but you knew it with his index finger, a tattoo was enough to make his blood pool of an X resided on his knuckle. into the grates like still water. Death His overgrown beard stares you sent his body into shock, made him down. His hair up in a bun and his tremble when everything, even the tear drop tattoo strung from the floor, became foreign to him. corner of his eye. He was always Now, your blonde curls a broad man from what you could bounce against your chest. Clean remember. Always kind to your the house once more because you’ve brother when he protected him been dirty for fifteen years. You clean from the neighborhood bullies. the windows that are masked with But they were children then. 41


Daniel continued to stir his coffee, too hard, making some slosh over the sides of the bluerimmed mug. He didn’t bother worrying about the stain, the ring it would create for you to clean. He looked down at the caramel mixture and you wondered what he saw reflected back. You saw Daniel right after the murder occurred. He was dripping in blood to the point where his shoes mushed with every step. His boyish face drenched in red liquid. You remember the flashes from the detective’s cameras from the hallway, saw the yellow tape. The boy’s shoe that hung off his cold toes. “You came to see me,” you asked why. He blandly shrugged his shoulders and carried on his business with his finger. Daniel looked up and instinctively you looked down at your once black converses that were now sun-tanned in green spots. You wondered if he hated you, blamed you for letting the boy do that to you. Daniel spoke out from his bear trap-like teeth, “I’ve been thinking a lot.” You sunk down in your chair and gripped the bottom of it with one hand. The nails of the red plaid cushion dug into your fingertips. With your other, you fingered the handle of your mug, it trembled with you. Daniel wiped off his finger and move out of his seat. He stood, his boots hammering against the floor like fireworks firing across the sky’s surface. He held himself like a gun with the safety off, trigger 42

cocked. Daniel looked delighted as the crowfeet shot out, spiraling across the tops of the apple of his cheeks. “You learn a lot in prison.” He looks down at you, “…a lot of things you’d never expect a human could do.” You both were quiet, keeping steady eye contact. “You should be happy that the only thing I did was kill the bastard.”


Stop

Justas Petter 43


Canopy

Ujwal Rajaputhra

I wonder when people began to love their skin more than the flesh Rotting beneath. Around the time, I believe, when apes pounded the normalcy out their furry husks of Nothingness; something I see bleed less from the brittle china of our postmodern molts. It’s hard to bear, so try to watch our Serpents slither from the Canopy; carving views into the soft, crimson meat of cradled identities. And when you finally see bloodblue veins threaded against frosted rind, Remember it was you and I who: brewed their courage into Ego’s toxin; pasted debauchery against scales of scabbed liberty; ripped the fangs from their foolhardy maws and

tongue.

strung in place a slicker

Now, descend to the forest floor. Live With the flightless, pests of the Earthbound, Host of the dirt-coated sightless. Look

At your skin. Feel the tendons of complacency rupture beneath its wintry gloss. Know the rage of Knowledge, insight. Sink your deaf eyes into the crispness of the skies above. Then, Look back Down, around you. And tell me If you Love your Skin even yet.

44


Out on a Limb Kianna Henshaw

45


Mom

Samantha Moody 46


Veins

Savana Pendarvis

People watch from stiff couches and corners of the room. Look between me and my mother. She does not stand or move. Instead holds flowers under the heavy weight of her palms, pretends to smell them. Everyone takes tentative half steps towards me before turning away. I am still waiting on someone to tell me why this room has pink lights and smells like rotting flowers. I run in and out of the spaces between her fingers. Drag over cold skin and trace her still veins. When it is time to leave, I am dragged half-heartedly. No one having the energy to comfort me. They settle for hot August air filling the spaces between my sobs.

47


“Sir”

Seth Gozar

T

here’s a tiny splatter from something wrong?” He scratches the girl’s pizza that the man at his wrinkled hands, wishing for hears over the cafeteria din. the layer of latex that protected A glob of cheese and pepperoni sits them. Wishing his fingers weren’t on the table, oils and adhesive for clenching so quickly. stale crumbs underneath. She fishes “Sir,” the girl almost and drops it into her mouth even hisses the word, but keeps her though he didn’t get to wipe the table tongue in check. “I don’t know down. The class came too early for what you’re trying to saying.” lunch again—morning prayers were He feels his arms tense— supposed to run until noon. little simultaneous jerks on either Now he takes a breath. He peels off side—before they slacken. Sir his rubber gloves, shows a level skin tingling when “Why didn’t she nod and say, of respect. cold air penetrates Sir reinforces ‘Yes, sir’ like a good girl?” the layer of sweat authority. below, wipes at “Sweetie, we his brow with the back of his hands, don’t eat food off of the table. It’s and finds he’s made it sweatier. disgusting.” Sweetie demeans. “Little girl,” he says. “Little Sweetie asserts control. girl, what do you think you’re doing?” She blinks, once. He The girl pauses from her blinks, too. Silence waits for crust-nibbling. She turns, and looks them, draped in the air they up at him—beyond her, the other breathe, until: girls grin and point. Confusion and “It was just one disgust slide through her features, pepperoni.” weighing her voice down. Maybe The man actually laughs they’ll stop ignoring her after this. this time. “Eating?” “One pepperoni? There “Yes, I see that.” The man was a lot of sticky cheese on it, almost laughs at the answer’s too. And now all the germs and simplicity, but keeps to himself. “And bits of old food and sweat and spit you’re being a good girl and eating on this table are sitting in your over your plate, right?” tummy.” She purses her lips, eyes “Sir,” the word slinks out flicking for something different to between her teeth, tongue-sharp. focus on, before pointedly meeting “I’ll be okay. I have an immune his gaze again. system.” She’s using that tone. “I’m a good girl, even if I make He’ll use it back. It’s vocal cord mistakes sometimes.” exertion, and nothing else will “So you admit you did happen. 48


“It doesn’t matter. Don’t you have any manners?” He’s looking past her now, eyes fixed on a sauce-stained crucifix, red marina streaked over red paint. That can wait. That won’t dictate him. The girl cocks her head, stare hardening. “I haven’t had school lunch before.” She swallows, surprised at her candidacy. “I didn’t want to waste any food.” “So you’d rather get food poisoning?” Laugh tumbling thick and hard. “I’m guessing your parents can’t afford the right medicine if you come down with a case of ringworms, right?” He leans in closer—enough to count the stitches resizing her hand-medowns. “I just don’t want to see you getting sick. You should get rid of that infected food.” Before him, the girl swallows again. Her voice wavers, but her eyes remain stony. “I said I didn’t want to waste food, sir.” She flicks the word out, and he almost feels it—like a punch. “I like pizza. I saved up to buy lunch and I didn’t want to throw anything away.” His neck actually twitches, voice quivering. “Well I’m sorry, but you shouldn’t have eaten that pepperoni and cheese off of the table.” Words. Words. Just use your words. “Well I’m sorry, but it’s already happened. I can’t really do anything now.” She turns away and goes back to eating. She hears whispers flurry around, but at least the stale crunch of crust drowns it out. The man takes several deep breaths. He’s still standing behind

her, insides trembling at her filthy actions on his filthy table, her filthy mouth. Why didn’t she nod and say, “Yes, sir” like a good girl? No wonder she sat alone. “I’m done. Could you take my trash, sir?” The girl raises her tray to him and lets go. Metal-onlinoleum bangs once, twice, and again, and the noise simmers over the lunchroom until everyone falls silent. It was the way she kept saying sir. Like a curse. That’s the reason why he turns her around and jams two fingers down her throat.

49


Perspective Carson Zehner

50


51


Blowing the Wind Justas Petter

52


How to Make a Black Hole Destiny Reid

We clawed at stars, ripped out their flimsy bodies like ours, roots curling like tentacles. Exchange them as gifts of our love. I watch as he dances, rubs at Venus’s sides, tickles Saturn’s rocky armpits. Watch him stroke the body of Earth, sticks his finger in oceans, caress trees, kill the tiny people that live there. His smile is blacken-green, teeth like the craters on my throat, burrowing and stumbling through veins that spiral like black holes, my thighs, blue-purple, yellow-green, dangling on strings, gripping the edges of stars. Shoulders drench, drip with stardust digging into my pores like roots. His drunken hands lay on hips, tear off clothes that separate our universes, he, spins around the curves of my body, “this is mine too.” His saliva washes away the fires on my surface, wobbles me from my axis, sends me falling. I look at the holes in the sky, baby stars sucked into his mouth, he holds it open, engulfs my home like a midnight snack. Broken trees wedge between his teeth-sees the shattered pieces of dead planets. Hips yellowed, barely visible. I still feel his stardust grating into my wrists. And I wonder, what universe he’s in now.

53


Robot rebellion (and the end of the world) Oona Roberts

You’re afraid of all that river, the way that it rains so much in Florida yet the lavish deserts in California are dying. The way that Juneau is only reachable by plane but you can see it perfectly fine from Google Maps. Really, technology’s a miracle, except when robots look like people and one day we won’t be able to differentiate skin from slabs of metal. But you’re getting ahead of yourself. You’ve never even seen a robot before, yet somehow you know that they’re out there, manufacturing our cars, plotting an inevitable rebellion that will kill us all— you shouldn’t be worrying about any of this. Right now, at least, your world’s peaceful. You’re fine. It’s not like you have heart disease or, god forbid, cancer; for some reason, though, you still have this unsettling feeling that the world is going to get hit by a comet, and maybe this is it, darkness. Maybe this is why you’re so afraid of fire, steel, of thunderstorms, bright light, roses, smoke, modern art, the color gray,

54


Everyday

Knowlton Anderson 55


The Cold Summer Lizzie Hartless

Lily, 17, decides to stay home during the summer while her parents travel to Daytona to take their mind off of their recently deceased son. As Lily isolates herself in her home, her good friends Tyler, Robby, Uni and Asa try to slowly get her back on her feet. Lily must learn to let go. 1 INT. BEDROOM -- MORNING A YOUNG GIRL, LILY, 17, stands in her grey room. Only a mattress, records, and posters fill the prison-like space. She stands in-front of her mirror. She plays with her face. She takes a breath. 2 INT. BATHROOM -- CONTINUOUS Lily sits still in a rusty bathtub. The shower curtain pattern is flip flops. The object that holds the bar of soap is missing from the bathroom wall, leaving a hole. She submerges herself in water. She stays there and closes her eyes. She SCREAMS. 3 INT. HALLWAY -- CONTINUOUS Lily is now dressed and is drying her hair with her towel. Before putting the towel in the dirty clothes, she stops in front of her brother’s room. The t.v. is on. She stares into the empty room. Guilt is on her face. She throws the towel in the bin. 4 INT. KITCHEN -- CONTINUOUS Lily stands in front of her stove. It’s a subtle mess. A cabinet is open above her. She eats peanut butter out of the jar. She picks up a postcard from Daytona Beach on the counter. It reads “Happy Birthday, Lily! We wish you were here - Mom and Dad”. A KNOCK comes from the front door. She twists the top on the peanut butter and puts it back in the cabinet. 5 INT. FRONT DOOR -- CONTINUOUS She opens the front door. It’s her four friends, TYLER, ROBBY, UNI, and ASA. They all sit on their bikes at the door. Tyler, her best friend, holds a balloon. It’s blue and reads ’Happy Birthday!’ He holds it out to her. She takes hold of it. Uni snaps a photo. She forces a tiny smile.

56


TYLER You hungry? 6 INT. DINER -- MORNING All five squish into a booth. Tyler and Lily sit across from each other on the outside. The boys dig into their food. Lily barely touches hers. She drinks her coffee. TYLER How is it? LILY It’s good. Thank you. TYLER You had anything planned today? LILY No. I was just gonna clean the house. TYLER We could help. LILY No, it’s fine. I have the rest of the summer to do it. Tyler looks down at his plate. He looks around the place. TYLER How’re your parents? LILY Fine. TYLER Are they having fun? LILY I guess. A YOUNG WAITER walks up to the table holding coffee. WAITER Coffee?

57


He looks down at Lily. He knows her. WAITER Hey, Lily. LILY Hey. WAITER How are you? LILY Good. WAITER You doin’ okay? LILY Yes, thank you. Can I have some coffee? WAITER Oh, yeah. He pours the coffee. Tyler stares at Lily. She stares into space. The other three chat amongst themselves about Robby’s big arms. The waiter finishes pouring. WAITER The guys, we- we, miss him. Summer ball isn’t the same without him. LILY He was good. The waiter nods, nervously. WAITER Call if you need anything. TYLER Thank you. The waiter walks away. Tyler looks around. His eyes light up...he has an IDEA. TYLER Let’s go see a movie! And then let’s all crash at your place. Then we’ll wake up. Boom, Fourth of July. Fireworks.

58


UNI Could we? It would be so much fun. LILY I don’t see why not. ASA You got Mario Kart? TYLER She does. ASA I’m down. TYLER Alrighty then. Tyler smiles at Lily. She smiles, but doesn’t stare back. 7 INT. HOUSE -- NIGHT All five walk into the house with 3D GLASSES on. The boys are laughing amongst themselves. They run into the living room and jump over the couch to turn on the t.v. Tyler looks back at Lily who locks the door. TYLER Can I raid your fridge? LILY Sure. Tyler hits Lily’s shoulder playfully. Lily lightly smiles. TYLER I can always count on you, Lily-Bear. You better be beating their asses in Mario Kart when I get back. LILY Yeah. Tyler hops to the kitchen. Lily stares at her friends. Robby just broke a lamp. She walks down the hallway. She stops in front of her brother’s room again. T.V. still playing. She grabs the door, but leaves it ajar. 8 INT BATHROOM -- CONTINUOUS 59


Lily SCREAMS underwater. She cries, hanging over the tub. 9 INT. BEDROOM -- CONTINUOUS She stares at herself in the mirror. She turns on the record player. She sits in the corner of her room. She lies on the floor. Staring into space. She paints her nails She falls asleep in bed. 10 INT. FAMILY ROOM -- NIGHT The boys are either on their phones, playing video games, or eating chips. Tyler gets up from the couch. 11 INT. HALLWAY -- CONTINUOUS Tyler walks back to Lily’s room. He comes to a stop in front of her brother’s room. He hears the T.V. He keeps on walking and opens Lily’s door. 12 INT. BEDROOM -- CONTINUOUS He peaks his head in. It’s dark, but her record is still playing. He walks over to her mattress where she’s facing the wall. He sits down next to her and strokes her hair. After a beat, he stands up, turns off the record player and walks out of the room. Lily begins to sniffle. 13 INT. BEDROOM -- MORNING Lily is shivering. She hears weights CLASHING from her brother’s bed room. She closes her eyes. She realizes someone’s in her brother’s room and flies out of bed. 14 INT. BROTHER’S BEDROOM -- CONTINUOUS Lily runs out of her room to find Robby lifting her brothers weights. She’s in shock. Lily runs into the room with eyes watering. LILY What are you doing?! Robby looks up at Lily. 60


LILY (CONT’D) Get away from there! Those aren’t yours!! Lily runs over to Robby and attempts to move him. Robby set down the bar. Lily hits his arm. LILY (CONT’D) Get off!! Tyler and the rest of the boys run into the room. Tyler grabs Lily away from Robby so he could stand up.   LILY (CONT’D) Get out of his room!! TYLER Shh...shh...he didn’t know, Lily-Bear, he didn’t know. Lily goes limp after a couple of seconds of struggling. Uni runs to help Tyler carry her. TYLER Come on let’s go. ROBBY I’m sorry, Lily-Bear. Lily cries in Tyler’s arms. LILY (mumbling) I want him back...I want him back now... TYLER I know, I know...shh... LILY I’m sorry....I’m sorry... 15 EXT. HOUSE -- NIGHT The boys ride around on their bikes holding sparklers and going in circles. Tyler and Lily sit on the curb in front of her house. The two eat ice cream sandwiches. Distant fireworks go OFF in the background. TYLER Aren’t fireworks cool?

61


LILY Yeah. TYLER They just fly up into the air, boom, then disappear. LILY I like sparklers better, they last longer. TYLER Yeah, but they’re not as pretty as the big fireworks. LILY They’d be cooler if they didn’t go as quickly. TYLER Yeah, but they were beautiful while they lasted. Lily nods, Asa falls off his bike. Everyone laughs. Lily gives off a smirk. She looks back at her house. The t.v. light can be seen through her brother’s window. A firework goes off. She looks up to the sky. 16 INT. HOUSE -- NIGHT The group rumbles back inside. Lily locks the door. Tyler looks back at her. LILY You go on. I’ll be there in a sec. Tyler hits her again and jumps over the couch and lands on Robby. 17 INT. HALLWAY -- CONTINUOUS Lily stares into her brother’s room. She walks in. 18 INT. BROTHER’S BEDROOM -- CONTINUOUS She looks around, then down at the t.v. She looks at his dresser. She picks up a picture of them two. A COMEDY TRACK is heard from the television. She looks back to the lit screen. Lily looks around the room and picks up the remote. After a beat, she presses the power button. SILENCE. 19 INT. BATHROOM -- CONTINUOUS Lily submerges herself in the tub, but she doesn’t scream. Bubbles just 62


float to the top from her sighing. 20 INT. FAMILY ROOM -- NIGHT Lily enter the family room while the boys play Mario Kart, Uni hits Tyler. Tyler looks back and pauses the game. Lily steps over the couch. TYLER Remember that one time I beat your ass on Rainbow Road? LILY Yeah. TYLER Imma bout to do the same thing to your boy Uni. UNI Shut up, I’m only in fourth. TYLER Which means I’m winning. Uni punches Tyler in the arm. Lily obsorbs all of this. She takes a beat then snatches Uni’s controller out of his hand. UNI Hey! LILY You wanna win? Uni reaches over Tyler and hits Lily. UNI You better. TYLER Are we gonna play or what? LILY You’re gonna lose that’s what. Tyler nudges her and unpauses the game. Lily smiles. Eyes are glued to the t.v. Tyler is in firsts while Lily is in second. She drives right up next to him before the finish line and drives right by him. Beating him. Everyone stands. UNI Good job, Lily-Bear. 63


TYLER You... Lily steals Tyler’s wheel and hands it to Asa. She smiles. LILY C’mon, next one. CUT TO BLACK

Road Trip Liam Foster

64


In and Out A. Williams

At the end of my exit, a truck scalded and blackened with fire nestled in the overgrown grass, the front hood in the air like a tongue, a tire low, toasted metal searing in summer heat, the woman inside going while her old body boiled pink with fate. I wonder if she could shout when her face caught flame, if she thanked her skin for everything as it fried slowly, or threw herself back like the first woman who came up burning from wild fire, wrung with red light and smoking on dark ground, an ugly birth. Back then, when we slept with taut faces in the stars and walked on fat fists, a sequoia crushed an insect thrashing on his back. Both women wailed at the quiet spirit waiving their shifts. Like breathing, it is instantaneous—first the paper cut on my knuckle healing now, then the burn blistering my tongue white and red.

65


Can’t you swim? Chelsea Ashley

I

gnacia waited a moment, almost she asked if Cordelia would like wanting an answer, before she for her mom to pick her up. pushed Cordelia into the deep “Mama, they want to eat end of the public pool. the cake now.” Ignacia stood You kick your legs out and at the door of the pool house, push your arms wide– like a frog. You chlorine water dripping from her yell. Your chest burns like someone purple sequined bathing suit onto is pouring Diet Cola straight into the wooden floor. The sequins your lungs. Your screams float to the danced under the lighting of surface of the pool, clinging to each the pool house, complementing other. The swishing gets louder. It Ignacia’s “milk chocolate skin”, gets closer to crawling inside of you, as her mother called it. taking over your body. You don’t feel “Can’t you see I’m busy like you are in the green water of the here?” Mrs. Jefferson gave public pool. You feel alone. Ignacia a look of annoyance; the Mrs. Jefferson held a towel same look Ignacia remembered open for the drowning girl while seeing at the grocery store when Mr. Jefferson she was six. lifted her out “You don’t feel like you are in the She and her of the water. mother stood Everyone at green water of the public school. in the register You feel alone.” the public line, placing pool watched, their items feeling sorry and entertained. The on the conveyor belt delicately. fully clothed mothers sitting in lounge As the two discussed when to chairs whispered about how glad they put the Omega-3 eggs and honey were that it wasn’t their kids. Her wheat bread onto the belt, a pale classmates disguised their disgust woman walked around their cart at the snot outlining the girl’s cupid and to the front of the register. bow as she gagged. Mrs. Jefferson Mrs. Jefferson informed the ushered her into the kitchen of the woman that she was skipping pool house. She continued crying, the the line. The cashier informed whooshing sound still present in her Mrs. Jefferson of his decision to newly pierced ears. Mrs. Jefferson allow the young woman to skip wrapped the towel around the soggy the mother and daughter in line. girl, hiding the brown tint of the She has fewer items, he said. He bathing suit that used to compliment abruptly stopped the conveyor her skin. belt, crushing the brown eggs Mrs. Jefferson wanted to ask under the weight of the paper why Cordelia came to the party if she towels. Mrs. Jefferson began to didn’t know how to swim. Instead, near the cashier and the young 66


woman, before looking back at her daughter who was trying to clean up the yolk that had spilled out of the carton. The pale woman looked unfazed as Mrs. Jefferson pulled Ignacia out of the line, leaving the honey wheat bread on the belt. “Go on back out there unless you want to spend the rest of the party inside while we wait for her mama to come get her.” Ignacia rolled her eyes at the offer and walked back out to the pool, stomping her feet all the way back to the shallow end. “I’ll call your mama. I’m surprised she let you come. I know mamas like yours can be a little sensitive.” Mrs. Jefferson turned away from Cordelia, and began dialing her mother’s number. Cordelia watched her, as the dripping pool water created a murky puddle on the floor. Everyone gathered into the main room of the pool house. Judy Samuels gave Cordelia a sad smile before she made her way next to Ignacia, making sure not to swing her wet hair. Mrs. Jefferson turned the lights off as her husband carried the two-tier chocolate and vanilla cake out of the kitchen. The eleven candles flickered under the rotation of the ceiling fan; giving the kids undetected goose bumps. Cordelia watched Ignacia’s face light up at the sight of her birthday cake. The cake was usually Cordelia’s favorite part of birthday parties. Happy Birthday to you. Happy Birthday to you. Happy Birthday dear Ignacia, happy birthday to you. But she didn’t really have a taste for chocolate and vanilla anymore.

67


My Life Matters Preslen Alteus

68


Stains of Spanish Grease Evelyn Alfonso

I can roll two empanadas on a pan with the help of wrinkly elbows. Beside me are four builds of fat with mouths. In the back of the restaurant they dance like the sun will shrink into a thin sliced tomato, they cut with knives and stain green juice on aprons. They give kisses to wounds made by hot irons and press their sweaty cheeks after rolling the last empanada. Sometimes beef laughs at me and I spill orange juice, we tend to sing la cucaracha in fuzzy slippers before the thin sliced tomato is now a white crisp cracker. After six, mami tells me how much she loves the music and papi’s eyes are following her by the beat of a Cuban drum. They work their feet around broken vases without looking at the floor and she slices every rhythm with her hips effortlessly, while I am forcing a handful of meat in a half moon, watching it dive into a frying pan and crisp the outer edges to eat with love.

69


Milkmaid

Eryka Goldsworthy 70


Inspired by “Interception” by Mark Tansey Sierra Wise

Five men firmly plant their feet onto ground, dig their soles into dirt, hold onto the earth like a kite. Vast beams shine on them from an icy geometric dome. It illuminates a tree, thin branches, flimsy leaves. From white, blue-gray, to navy, the men battle. They tug against the stars, drag the tides, yank the galaxies. They try to bring the sky down, reel it in, grasp its light, own it. The earth trembles, cotton and nylon line begins to unravel, sail wavers. A lone man stands by the barely lit tree, shakes his head. Scars cover his palms from the days when he too attempted to clench the unattainable, sway the sun, reign the moon, dominate the Milky Way, never succeed. The sky’s ropes burn hands, slips through thumbs pressed to index fingers. Ten eyes gaze and focus as the earth, seven wonders, the world, escapes.

71


Advanced Father Cam Collins

72


73


Ours

Logan Monds

1. Blaire’s The baby was premature; not meant to be was a common whisper, God took her back, and, a reason held her under until there was no breath. Baker County calls the dead little girls “guardian angels” and gives Blaire a Precious Moments ceramic statue with two weeks away from school, which works; afterward, it’s hard to see hurt when there is no cast or wheelchair. Classmates ask how old, how young, what was it like, did you cry. 2. Mine They ask me if I touched the body that was sworn to silence by seizure. She was purple. Yes. Yes, I felt rubber too organic, like skin, but not quite; yes, my hands are cold. My Reynaud’s limbs become Dead and I have Dead Hands, not contagious, but consistently numb. I catch Blaire in the hall and I say, I think things are better now (for me). Are they better for you? She steps forward and says, It’s harder for me because mine was younger. I almost want a fight. I also have the urge to join Dead Hands with her live ones and to share our Precious Moments and to create a new reason for people to ask us why we look sad/quiet/angry, and instead, I end up choked and motionless because we were never the same. 74


Made of Hands Antonio S. Colรณn

75


A lot can happen on a lukewarm day Oona Roberts

Y

ou throw a PB&J, apple, cheese wash the dishes, wipe off the stick, and cookie inside of a kitchen countertops, do a daily lunchbox shaped like a rocket crossword puzzle. ship. And it feels right; you can easily God. Your brain won’t be a mother when all there is to do is stop buzzing. Nothing can keep cook and pack. the boredom away, you guess. Your son, Thomas, comes Perhaps you need a break. hopping down the stairs not ten You’ll go for a walk, you seconds later. You kiss the top of his decide. Yes, a walk. You need to head, a mess of golden curls, and clear your mind, though you can’t hand him his lunch. He thanks you. help but think about Thomas. You look so He was five handsome in weeks early, your polo! “...the sky’s collapsing down on top and the How very of you, and it hurts more than you birth had professional, been long, could have ever imagined.” you tell him. painful, and He giggles. expensive. He asks you if Dad will be After he was born, you couldn’t home for dinner tonight. You nod, help but resent him because of the even though you doubt that he will way your husband told you to fix be. Arnie has never been known for your stretch marks when he saw being the most reliable. Maybe, you the way that purple lines trekked can’t help but say. Most likely. across your skin in swirled You put your hand on the patterns, how your body had small of his back and lead him to the become littered by lines—billows door, tell him to have a good bus ride of pink, black— you’d never even and an even better day, to be safe at wanted. It was his fault that Arnie school, that you’ll be there to pick didn’t kiss your stomach, tell you him up and take him home in the that every last part of you was afternoon. beautiful. You watch him skip down Now, though, you love the sidewalk, and you can’t help but Thomas. And you feel guilty. miss his grin, the sound of his light- Maybe because there’s a piece of up sneakers hitting the floor, the you that’s still drowning in the warmth of his lips on your cheek as care, the love. Maybe. he kisses you goodbye. You have to force yourself to step back inside, start the routine you created in an attempt to avoid perpetual boredom: AFTER a few minutes of read your book for half an hour, then slow ambling, you find yourself 76


waving to your neighbor, Sherry, who’s tending to the flowers in her garden. She waves back, beckoning you over. You try not to roll your eyes. You’ve never been a big fan of Sherry—she has a habit of always smiling too much, always dressing too well, always managing to make you feel like you’re less. Still, she’s nice enough. Maybe you’ll chat for a few minutes. She asks you how your day has been. You smile, tell her that you sent Thomas off to the bus stop, that you already miss him terribly, that you read your book, and then you ask her about her daughter, Elise. Sherry tells you that she’s doing wonderfully, that she loves school, that she’s never been happier. Did you know that she wants to be an artist? Sherry asks, and you shake your head, tell her oh, I didn’t, but that’s wonderful. I bet she must be quite talented. And then Sherry’s husband steps outside, kisses her cheek, tells her that he’s off to work. He says hello to you, too, and his voice is kind, smooth. You smile at him, nod politely. For a moment, he makes you think of Arnie, a quiet man who leaves early and comes home late. Except he doesn’t kiss your cheek, and sometimes he doesn’t even kiss your lips, and your heart pounds in your chest, and Sherry and her husband, standing there in their pristine little flower garden, look like the epitome of happiness. It’s picturesque, really. You close your eye and try to imagine the way you would look if you weren’t so tired all the time, if you whitened your teeth, tried

wearing something other than old jeans and t-shirts. Maybe then you and Arnie would look picturesque, too. But you doubt it, because suddenly it feels as though the sky’s collapsing down on top of you, and it hurts more than you could ever have imagined. God. You say goodbye to Sherry, wave a little as you walk away. It’s time to go home. Get some rest. Read your book again, maybe. Stop thinking. ARNIE calls you a few minutes later. Your phone vibrates in your pocket; you feel dread as you hit the green answer button on the screen. I’m going to be home a little late today, he says. No hello. Straight to the point, and you realize that your body hurts and maybe you were never meant to be picturesque. Still. You try your best. Thomas was expecting you for dinner, you try. Thomas loves it when you’re here for dinner. But it’s to no avail. You knew that it wouldn’t be. Arnie coughs, tells you I simply can’t. See you later, and suddenly you’re so angry you want to scream, and you want to ask him why he’s always disappearing, where he goes when he says he’s still at work, why he’s more ghost than man, what you’ve done to make him talk to you like you’re the weight of the world on his shoulders, yet you can’t, because he’s gone from the line—gone from you—and you realize that everything hurts, and somehow, someway, this pain reminds you of the way your husband used to turn 77


away from you at night, I’m just tired, the way you used to resent yourself because you resented everyone else, the way your son used to cry as a baby and you would be glad, and yet these memories— these aches, these pangs—also remind you of the way your mother used to fix up the bloody scrapes on your knees, the way she would hold your hand as she treated them with hydrogen peroxide, it’s okay, sweetheart, the way you used to notice nice things, lovely things, things like trees rolling in the wind, things like birds resting on telephone lines, things weren’t always ugly and on the verge of being broken, and somehow— almost uncannily—you can hear Thomas saying something in the back of your mind; you listen, and he’s whispering I love you, I love you, I love you.

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When Satan Lied to Eve Chelsea Ashley

His voice slithered into my ear whispering tales of temptation, oozing tasty torture. His split tongue left no space for separation between what was true or false, only what sounded sweet and what God had sworn us from. Juice overflowed from the corners of my mouth, a sneer stretched wide to his. The tang of the fruit left an aftertaste of the wisdom he’d promised, only it was a knowing of myself a bitter hatred left in the splits of my lips a self loathing lingering, hanging in the back of my throat. The burning of my cracked hips and stretched stomach echo behind the condemnation of God and the shriveling of the saccharine delicacy. I amble outside of Eden, bearing a more obligated fruit, as he burrows through the world on his belly worn wings catching on debris and his own vanity.

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Hand of God Kaitlyn Medders

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Frida Kahlo’s Guide to Motherhood Mary Feimi

Your daughter’s room should be azul, with specks of amarillo, Vibrant rojo, the room will have paintings, sad, broken, helpless, and one in love. This will spark creativity, but your daughter will naturally have this. Tell her, she can have any man or woman she wants, if she is graced with the charm of her father. Encourage her to love either sex, because the human body is meant to be shared. Talk to her, tell her stories, the time a bus shattered, leaving glass in your legs, the time you made love to a boy, becoming a man, in your parent’s perfect home, sweating in the closet, when the tingling in your spine was a good thing, the time you made love to her father, kissing him as if he were the only man meant to kiss not tasting the women before you, but remembering they too found his lips to taste like clementines. She needs to know these things, She needs to understand the world, but she can’t in a broken body, a body that still smells like the dusty pottery of an old cast, so she becomes vibrant rojo, the color of your lipstick, the color you will always remember like the first time.

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Rainfall

Chloe Buffington 83


Maps of places you’ve been Meredith Abdelnour

A child lost in the grocery store does not always feel lost in the grocery store. It’s easy to get distracted by vibrant pomegranates and chocolate chip cookies there for the taking. A child trapped in a car does not always know to scream. The temperature starts at a breezy eighty seven and patiently creeps up the thermometer until heat encloses your eyelids and it is easier to close them forever. The same way you kick and thrash to fight the current in the vastness of the ocean but slip lower and lower in your bathtub like you forget it’s possible to drown in three feet of water. In a harshly lit refrigerator in a generic home in middle America, there are fragile jars of banana flavored baby food resting on the same shelf as sixteen dewy cans of Pabst Blue Ribbon. In estates splayed across Los Angeles, separated egg whites rest in glasses feet away from empty champagne bottles, almost violent; the trick is remembering how to scream.

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The Edge

Knowlton Anderson 85


I don’t know how all this works, all I know is that Olivia Ragan

the e key on your crappy computer doesn’t work anymore and the grapefruits are molding. There’s yarn everywhere; nobody should be allowed to die before they finish their knitting projects. I’m wearing the ice blue scarf, the one that looks like winter. It’s spring now, but just barely. I heard the wind chimes last night. You always said that when they start ringing you know it’s spring. Maybe I should have learned all those seasons ago that I can’t clean the microwave alone and I don’t know how to cook for fewer than two. It’s been raining for almost a week. I know your tulips and the birds will return, but filling the bird feeder was your job. So was watering the irises and planting the garden and all I know is that living things were your job.

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Profile for Élan Literary Magazine

Élan Fall 2016 Online 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 2016 Online 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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