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Spring 2017

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Volume 31 | Issue 2 Editors-in-Chief Mary Feimi Alexis Williams Ana Shaw Layout & Design Kiara Ivey Oona Roberts Managine Editor Zarra Marlowe Art Zac Carter Mackenzie Steele Poetry Gabriella Christenson Fiction Seth Gozar McKenzie Fox Creative Nonfiction Lindsay Yarn 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 CREATIVE WRITING INSTRUCTORS Jennifer Bundy Elizabeth Flaisig Tiffany Melanson

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Cover: 4 for 1 Deal by Maya Halko

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Clash Shenu Kathymoon

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Make a Wish Cade Cunningham

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Eight Fifteen Noland Blain

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if my father were Adam Mackenzie Steele

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Self-Made Nightmare Justin Darrow

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Busboy in Mike’s Diner Savannah McLeod

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ESCAPE Maya Halko

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The Glock Reece Braswell

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St. Granny Sarah Mims Yeargin

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Butterfly Kisses Mackensie Clegg

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j.f.k. Mackenzie Steele

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American Patroit Mackensie Clegg

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See Through My Wall Haley Switzer

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Bargaining Emma Varland

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The Linearity of Everything Meredith Abdelnour

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Average Beach Day Liam Foster

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The Blood of Christ Winnie Blay

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Tradition Betsy Jennifer

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Altar Serving Jaclyn Berry

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Slow as Molasses Isabella Gardner

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Recipe for Baked Potato Noland Blain

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Moving Process Logan Monds

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Seaty Cam Collins

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Observations of Scars and Strangers Kathryn Wallis

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Music Man Kashta Dozier-Muhammed

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upon viewing kjartansson’s the visitors in ohio while things fall apart back home Sarah Mims Yeargin

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Clash

Shenu Kathymoon

The trees are stuck to the ground like sugar to teeth or fire to wood. My reflections fill the lake; each pattern on my scarf fills it like fish glossing the surface, scales cutting all the faces like shattered mirrors. All are close like the keys of a keyboard, the seeds of a papaya and then slowly diffusing into a cluster of huts, colorful like the ones near the fields, called lines, with two plastic windows and blisters. Women, with their rubber hands, Poosai blessings on their foreheads; it’s time to blink and wash my face with freshwater—memories of baptism, but also introduced to The Bodhi-Puja sapling and nights of the elephant parades under Poya—colorful like the fish.

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Make a Wish Cade Cunningham

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Eight Fifteen Noland Blain

Lucie, both hands engrossed rolling in a knob of dough into submission, looked up, eyes raving and seeing only kneading, braiding, letting rest. She heard a strain of conversation from the storefront, “croissants,” and darted to a nearby tray of butter-laden pastries, which had been stewing in the sweltry air for a half hour too late and were now likely overproved and melted, and almost launched, as a javelinthrower launches spears, the entire tray into the blind mouth of an oven. A feature of Chez Pasteur: a brick oven from the time of Louis XIV, used mainly for loaves, but never for delicate pastries. Too late now; with the morning rush, the store was busy to breaking, a pot overflowing, a teacup just too shallow. There were too many orders, too little time, and no turning back. Lucie decided the dough was stretchy enough and began to braid it as one might braid a bag of snakes, went halfway through before realizing a pot of choux had been neglected on a hot stovetop, stirred through the damages and “... as a javelin-thrower launches saw that the eggs had all cooked through and spears, the entire tray into the made the entire thing a blind mouth of an oven.” heaping mess—wait, did she forget to eggwash the croissants?—she doesn’t have time to start over with a new batch, and it’s all just so hopeless and so overwhelming and—Oh, where was Marc? Marc would help. He always would. His tarts were never too damp (even if they were sometimes a little crispy) and his macarons were always well baked, if a bit sloppy de temps en temps. They would form an assembly line: Marc mixed the choux, Lucie piped it onto baking sheets. Lucie baked the éclairs, Marc filled them with crème pâte. Marc melted the chocolate. Lucie dipped the pastries. Oh, but where was Marc? M. Pasteur appeared from the storefront, already talking to anyone who was listening, “Sont les croissants cuits?” He scanned the room, noticed his dear Lucie’s struggling face as

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she kneaded, braided, let rest dough, flinched at her barbaric expression, raised a gray, bushy brow when he saw only one baker’s assistant instead of two, skipped a heartbeat as he smelled the burnt choux and saw the halfhearted bowl of water, butter, flour Lucie had attempted then forgotten on the stove, slipped into action and attacked it with a wooden spoon until it became a cohesive substance. Someone else would handle the storefront, which was just as bustling, but running low on croissants and palmiers, and also quiche Lorraine, and Danishes, and just ran out of tartines and tartes aux pommes and tartes aux citrons and—Oh, but where was Marc? Why, here—just outside. Here was Marc, in the alley just outside of the bakery, far removed from the flour and the oven and the burnt choux, from the kneading, braiding, letting rest, the flour in the air. He rested one hand on the wall, arm flexed very subtly, and the other lay dangling at his side. Here was Marc, a girl at his side, a little blonde-haired blue-eyed thing from San Francisco who had wandered away from her parents in an act of rebellion. Marc flirted with intentionally broken English, with just enough of a Parisian accent, moved his sandy hair from one side of his face to the other with the sublime sort of grace that inspires an eternity of forgiveness at clumsy grammar. “How is the city treating you? C’est beau, is it not?”

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if my father were Adam Mackenzie Steele

he would name like one of his animals. pick the one that fit me best. my small pink shorts would be sewn with swaddling, turn leaf-green with envious time, like patina on the garden’s gates: smothering arms closing us in. playground slides would prick at my sides like a spear, revel in the bruises formed on my dimpled knees. the purple popsicles we ate would hang off lanky trees like icicles our forbidden fruits. we would bite into cold, smell the artificial-grape knowledge as it filled us to cut-off ears, until the land grew stiff with sin, until God shunned us, sending hell-bent angels to prod our soft hearts, rip us apart like wet paper, & swallow us in a great flood of goodbyes. each rusted dirt path outside would lead to a new blonde girlfriend, a substitute for eve: mother made from his left rib. as he fled the garden, dribbles of purple would slip from his lips & stain the earth at my feet.

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Self-Made Nightmare Justin Darrow

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Busboy in Mike’s Diner (1954) Savannah McLeod

The diner fizzes in its usual porcelain Sunday mornings; families crowded around the lamination of spacethemed menus, chattering. I wait as the beer-bellied man takes his time, buzzling beeps swinging around my ears like microscopic gnats; but I stand here, silly in a space-suit uniform patiently awaiting His righteous order. In an exhausted stir, my eyes graze towards the big black-lettered: ‘Reach for the moon!’ painted in the ceiling corner. It pokes out as if trying to whisper to me, steel rocket-ships taking aim for another world, new and equal. I picture them scraping through the ceiling, one by one, in an army of thick black coated noses, surpassing the borders of today’s steel diner walls. I wait, not for the money, nor for the order but because I can see our bodies, together, like rockets taking aim—the busboys and I, with our hardened bodies of flexing steel, our black coated noses as we wait for the landing,

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wait for the orders, constantly having to remind ourselves of how the moon is half black-shadowed craters, too.

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ESCAPE Maya Halko

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The Glock Reece Braswell

You remember you shot a gun once; it was in the backyard of your home on your birthday. When your father taught you, his hands were like this, callused from training. Except his hold was firm, his hands warm. He didn’t shake. But most importantly, he never pointed it at you. It was early morning when he showed you the tethered target with all the small holes, and the pistol you would use to add new ones. He said it was a “rite of passage”: something his father showed him, and something he had to show you. “Never shoot at night,” he told you, jokingly, after you repeatedly missed the target. The smell of gun powder wandered in your nostrils well into the night when you were blowing out the candles of your birthday cake. You didn’t mind, though. You were proud of your accomplishments that day, and you went to bed without a second thought. You were fourteen. You’re twentyfive now. A gun didn’t “... you are just a pull of a seem scary then. But trigger away from falling out of now it’s dark, and you existence.” are alone, set aside the crazed man, a human being just like you, who pressed a Glock to your forehead as if you were the target. One wrong move, you note, and the candles of your life would be snuffed out. You swallow the lump in your throat. You weren’t going to cry, not in front of this man. But these thoughts don’t hold true--a tear drips from your right eye. You hope the man doesn’t notice, but when a cackle rings from his mouth, you realize that was only hopeful wishing. He spits on you and says, “Nobody likes a faker. You know you deserve this.” The silence stretches on for miles. Faker. The word ricochets off the walls of your brain and floats. It latches onto you, triggering a memory of when you were younger: your brother was on the playground at your

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Elementary School in search for a swing. There was only one more available; he raced for it. As his fingertips barely brushed against the chains holding the swing in place, a small hand grabbed him and dragged his tiny body to the ground. The kid’s name was Danielle. He was the classical blonde haired, blue eyed boy idolized in common culture. Your seven-year-old brother scraped his knees on the gravel when he landed. Tears welled up in the corners of his eyes and they overflowed onto his cheeks. Danielle twisted his face into the nastiest sneer you have yet to witness since. “Oh come on! That didn’t hurt, you faker,” he snorted. You were nine at the time, nearing the end of the fourth grade. You saw the scene from the basketball court and held off the game to sprint to your brother. You didn’t waste your words on the boy, you just tackled him off the swings and let your balled fists get your point across. In the end, you gave Danielle a bloody nose and made him cry. You and your brother, on the other hand, were expelled for misconduct and your mother laid into you at home when she had to pick you two up early. “Do you know what you made me look like today, Jordon? Do you know what they said to me? They said to look for a school with more of our kind attending,” she scolded. Our kind. Two words that never made sense to you. What was race when inside it’s all the same? “Mama, you don’t understand! Danielle pushed-” You began to motion to your brother’s bandaged knees and the tears that were still crawling down his face, but your mother cut you off. “That doesn’t matter, Jordon! Why can’t you understand? the system doesn’t work in our favor. You take it, you ignore them, and you move on.” She was breathless from yelling; she gripped the arm of a chair as if she was going to topple over. “Mama?” you asked, eyes wide. She waved you off, “It’s fine Jordon. Just… go make yourself useful. We’ll talk more about this when your father gets home.” Your mother stumbled to the next room, and you recalled turning around to find your brother observing you with

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a droopy frown and watery eyes while repeating the words ‘I’m sorry.’ You don’t say anything; you just simply patted him on the head, took one last glance at your minuscule, old-fashioned living space, and opened the door leading to your equally small room. The system doesn’t work in our favor. You refuse to believe those words from your mother, even when you are just a pull of a trigger away from falling out of existence. Are you a fool? You don’t know. You just believe that you have the power to do something; that time will somehow aid the open wounds. Time, you realize, that is draining at an alarming rate.

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St. Granny Sarah Mims Yeargin

Every year on the last day of summer, she’d take me to Harris Teeter to buy microwave dinners and chocolate pudding cups for my school lunchbox. When my parents argued, she’d let me stay at her house all weekend. Feed me nothing but hushpuppies and fried bream. As the grease popped, she’d tell me not to stand too close to the fryer, then give me her credit card to walk to the Blockbuster down the road and rent a PG-13 movie before I even turned twelve. Before Granny died, she lived. Specifically, in the neighbor’s above-ground pool across the street. Spent her days floating on a dollar-store blowup toy shaped like a palm tree, turning her body every thirty minutes or so like rotisserie meat behind deli glass. Said one day, when “... when she won the lottery, she’d she won the lottery, have a pool of her own...” she’d have a pool of her own—heated, with lights of every color on the bottom so she could swim through a rainbow, even in the winter. Born in Florida, she once convinced me she and all her sisters were mermaids who’d sipped some serum to give them legs. “Like Ariel?” I asked. “Yes, just like Ariel.” And I believed her, because her long nails always glinted some seafoam shade of blue or luminescent fish-scale green—hot pink if she felt feisty, which happened often. Her jewelry: bulky and sharp, rings hanging off her fingers like dewdrop pearls. The rings and the nails in combination scratched the surface of my belly as she gripped my sides to tickle me, but I didn’t care, the same way I never cared when I was small, when I would follow her onto the back porch where she, for the most part, had started going to smoke ever since the doctor diagnosed me with asthma. There, she’d alternate between puffing on her cigarette and using her tongue to eject her bottom dentures in an attempt to spook me back inside. It never worked. I’d scream in terror, then glee, then beg her to do

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it again. Sometimes she’d forget to bring her cigarettes to the porch and, with the sun baking her pyrite skin, would ask me to tramp back into the house to retrieve them from their position as the centerpiece of the kitchen table. I’d deliver them to her in her pink leopard-print case, and she’d pull Andrew Jackson’s face from thin air, handing me the twenty and telling me to phone for a pizza. She hated pizza, so I’d eat the whole thing myself, sitting on the oil-splotched living room carpet. Together we’d half-watch her soap operas until she began to breathe like a chainsaw, and then I’d dust off my fingers and put the TV on mute. Granny slept exclusively in a La-Z-Boy—never in bed with my papa, who couldn’t stand the engine-revving of her snores, though I think now he probably misses them emanating from the living room all night long. Before she passed, the doctor told her all she had to do to stop the snores was quit smoking. Likewise, all she had to do to clear up a plethora of health problems—problems with names too long for me to pronounce—was quit smoking. But Granny was stubborn. Ever since the president had come to office, she’d kept an unregistered Smith & Wesson in her ancient kitchen cabinet, just to spite him. Why should she quit smoking? Just because some quack of an Ivy-Leaguegraduate doctor told her to? This she explained to me as she styled her hair in front of the bathroom mirror, heat of the curling iron crackling against hairspray, unlit cigarette dangling from her lips: “Honey, you can’t let the world tell you how to live your life.” Here she paused, examining herself in the tobacco-stained glass of the medicine cabinet. She looked at my reflection behind her. “Even when you know the world’s right,” she finished. She sucked in an imaginary drag then exhaled, eyes following her invisible smoke rings until they hit the white-paneled ceiling and dissipated. And so Granny died the same way she lived: exactly as she wanted. Because of this, I found it hard to cry. My eyes remained as dry as the daffodil plants in her backyard, the ones she often said she’d get around to watering, eventually. (Then she’d take a long drag, damning the drought.) I think of her when the daffodils bloom in the spring, and every time I eat Waffle House hashbrowns—smothered and

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covered, extra crispy with tabasco and ketchup, the way she liked—or when I stumble over the collection of VHS Barbie movies she bought me over the course of six birthdays. I wonder if it’s fair to never have cried, even if I knew the inevitable. If it’s weird to sometimes wish for her varicose veins when I grow old, just to have a final piece of her. To wish for one more minute. See her pop those dentures out one more time and tuck a final, vibrant daffodil into her heat-crisped hair.

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Butterfly Kisses Mackensie Clegg

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j.f.k.

Mackenzie Steele

texas must have been hot that day: hot enough for that bullet to smear into your bloodstream, to melt, to erase (presidency, youth scandal) in the blink of a summer-blue eye hotter than the rose-tinted lips of marilyn on that night, (you know the one) where lips and legs and limbs overlapped like a collage and the word presidency became a position able to be held by anyone (maybe you and that bullet got a little cozy, held hands a bit too close to thighs in public, whispered a bit too quietly for everyone to hear) parted mouth ever so slightly parched, (not from thirst, but) from death.

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American Patriot Mackensie Clegg

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See Through My Wall Haley Switzer

I. in the Beresford fraternity kitchen, gorilla hands swallow my neck, thrust me against the frigid tile floor. fingertips skin thick flesh from my body, shred a blue and black checkered skirt down curvy hips, his royal azure horseshoe symbol carved into a pulsing thigh, stale knee-high stockings shoved in my mouth. salty blood drools from each young man’s clenched jaw. one by one they spit into my mouth. I swallow, “wait,” he tells the others, dark eyes gone wild. II. I lie over her fetal positioned body, kiss salty tears off of hot hand-printed cheeks. she looks through the gaps between her fingers up at me. flickering lights cascade across her plate sized bruises like a lunar eclipse. I swiftly get up, turn away. her tender hands slap the floor. III. I hobble home, throw soggy clothes remnants on the floor, reach for, uncap, pour bleach on the tub’s milky bottom. white knuckles grip onto the silver handicap railing. I step in, sift through the slimy, lukewarm mixture that sizzles pungent, yellow, blue-black gashes. chunks of discolored flesh, metallic blood, and murky water dribbles down shaken legs, exposes a chipped, whiteskinned skeleton rattling like an offset shower-head. frigid air pinballs my ribcage, my kneecaps buckle. I collapse. my skull beats against the tub’s edge, the crown shatters, broad forehead splits in two, past the crook in my lips, beyond exposed collarbones. tainted water,

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soiled skin cells, and maroon flesh flow in line with the drain, groan, “I told him no,� squeeze beneath a tan tub stopper, whirling past strands of toiled hair.

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Bargaining Emma Varland

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The Linearity of Everything Meredith Abdelnour

“Pull over,” she instructed suddenly, and he complied. They were on a bridge he’d never seen before. His eyes fluttered as he stepped out of the car. There were people all around them, families and couples and teenagers alike. Griffin noticed that the sun was now setting in a multitude of shades that he didn’t usually pay attention to. “What happened?” He stepped closer and closer to the edge of the bridge. A metal rod separated him and the swirling water below. “I’ll miss dinner,” he said. Or maybe he just thought it, because she didn’t respond. “Not “... you pay more attention to the that anyone will be there for dinner, but I’d scenes you skip to, because you still like to get home…” care more.” he drifted off. Her face was glazed over from the sunlight. She looked astoundingly content. “Alexandria,” he said, glancing around. “Why are there so many people here?” She faced him. The sun was almost down, and the darkness cast shadows over her freckled face. “It’s a Saturday, silly,” she giggled. It was definitely a Thursday, he knew this, and he told her. “No, it was a Thursday. On Thursday. But you drove into Saturday, because Saturday nights have the best sunsets.” She laughed again, lower this time. His head was cloudy. “Can we go back to Thursday? I have things, things that I have to do.” She shook her head like this was a ridiculous question. “No. Time is still linear, idiot. You can’t ever go back.” Griffin ran his hands through his hair. The bridge was dark now, all of the earlier visitors gone. “No! It was Thursday, and now it’s Saturday, and none of this makes sense.” She sat down on the cool grass, and he did the same. “You know how if you speed in a car, you can get places faster?” Griffin motioned for her to continue. “Well, it’s like that. Or fast forwarding through the boring parts of a movie to

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get through the fight scenes. And then you pay more attention to the scenes you skip to, because you care more.” “Why?” he asked, because he simply could not think of another way to respond. She shrugged. “Why do we do anything? It’s not like your life is that gripping, anyway.” Griffin shook his head slowly, about to speak, but she interrupted him. “Wasn’t that the most beautiful sunset you’ve ever seen in your life?” she asked, and before he could answer he was back in the car, with time and space swirling around them in some sort of convex, watching the Hawaiian girl on the dashboard sway rhythmically— back and forth, back and forth, back and forth.

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Average Beach Day Liam Foster

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The Blood of Christ Winnie Blay

After Crucifixion in Yellow by Abraham Rattner you built cathedrals from the stained glass organs of jesus christ himself. kidneys, liver, heart, and brain on display for anyone. erected a statue in the name of the father, son, and the holy spirit to prove you were worthy of salvation. a one way ticket to heaven. baptized. confirmed. received. communion. the body and blood of christ sat inside of your stomach, acids breaking them down in hopes that you would become holy in the eight hours it takes for food to pass from your stomach into the small intestine: a deep cleanse. his burnt yellow hands held yours when you were seven, guiding you across oceans and through mountains. you were twelve when your hand forgot how to hold. fingers no longer wrapped around each other, nails in palms now. pinning you to gasoline soaked wood, head hung to your chest. waiting in limbo for the decision— heaven or hell. salvation or sin. god or devil.

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Tradition Betsy Jennifer

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Altar Serving Jaclyn Berry

At Hoover Dam there are these angels; I went there once when I was younger with my family. Tourists crowded around to rub their shiny feet, contrasting against the residue that covered the rest of the statues. Rubbing them was supposed to be good luck; I slid my hands over the sculpted metal and felt the old vibrations of a blacksmith’s red hot hammer creating the soft formations. They were warm to the touch, that July sun so hot that the dam itself held almost no water; it’s the only time I’ve ever understood what people mean when they talk about seeing the light of God. Church holds no light for me, and that day it was cloaked in something darker than black, seeping even into my mind. In the back room, before it began, the others prayed. I mouthed the words, not quite sure what I was saying, not sure why I was saying it. There were four of us: The twins, Immaculee, and me. The candles flickered in submission to the fluorescent lights. We never wore the hoods up; thin cloth cords are tucked beneath, wooden crosses resting on the plates of their sternums. The twins, Andrew and Michael, always led the procession. Muffled “...it’s the only time I’ve ever bells chimed in the room outside, and understood what people mean when Andrew—the older they talk about seeing the light of one, born with one God.” leg shorter than the other—heaved up the metal crucifix. Michael, identified by a noticeable mole underneath the outside corner of his tear duct, followed him with a candle alongside Immaculee. I looked at my hands, stretching them, before sliding them together into prayer. The priest, Larkin, was a tall man with poor eyesight, and when he needed to read from the Roman Missal he would have a server hold it on their head for the whole gospel and Gloria—an affair that takes a good ten minutes. I watched his moving shadow elongate in the light of the aisle, and I walked,

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in a paced fashion, on his torso. Michael split from Immaculee at the front pew, veering left as she went right and they both set down their candles. Andrew lowered the crucifix onto its holster, and I went to stand at Larkin’s right. From there I tuned out until it came time for me to quiver, missal balanced precariously on the top of my head, arms shaking, fingers sore, and this beast of a man leering. It’s part of this, I insisted to my coiling stomach, it’s part of this. The Gloria felt especially drawn out that night—like an accordion being drawn out the length of the room, refusing to collapse inwards. And on that hitch I felt the air change, with the book on my head and the cantor still going— Glory to God in the highest. And on earth, peace to people of good will. My back was to the congregation, and I could feel myself become slick with perspiration. I realized I had forgotten to put on deodorant, and it was hot like those days when I was little, picking blackberries next to the overpass, lights refracting off of the metal decor. We give you thanks for your great glo— The music stopped. The missal had only felt this heavy once before; my mother was in labor with my baby brother, but she insisted I come to church with my aunt. Said to pray for her and the baby, when I still knew what was being said in those prayers, and why they were being said. I prayed the whole rosary, listened to the homily, relished in those hot lights and the feeling of the alb irritating my skin—when the pressure of that book felt like a praising hand on my head. A shot like one I had never heard hit the brick wall at the back of the church in a crumbling cascade—some screams, some gasps, muffled cries. I lowered the book.

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Slow as Molasses Isabella Gardner

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Recipe for Baked Potato Noland Blain

Russet, medium. (it doesn’t matter if it’s lumpy) Make incision. Stuff with fat and salt, scorch. 350. Starch will melt to cream and wonder, nourishment to last for years, the winter, just the night. A small miracle of earth-bones. Buttery, warm.

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Moving Process Logan Monds

Like hell, I said. Grass tickled the nape of my neck. My arms splayed out to accept the evening sun that slowed the sky. This is the yard where I read books beneath flowering peach trees on days when I had no basketball practice, and took walks into the woods where I once lost myself while walking our new dog in the snow. I spoke to my friends again: Like hell. Mom’s always talking about moving to Florida because she doesn’t know the people here. But I know she couldn’t do that to me. Not now. One of my friends put a hand to my cheek and said, We’ll always be here, man. Nothing’s dying but the leaves. It all felt more humane beneath that summer sun. You need to start packing. Mom stood in my doorway, nursing gear still on: scrubs, scarred clogs, stethoscope draped around her neck like a dead fish. Why? She made no effort to enter the room. Don’t act stupid like you do with your friends. We’re moving. My grades are gonna drop if we move in the middle of the year. The script of my homework stained my resting elbow. She yelled: Stop being so goddamn dumb. We’re going. There isn’t a “There isn’t a choice in this, there is choice in this, there no debate, we are going. I’m gonna is no debate, we are lose everything.” going. I’m gonna lose everything. I can live with that. She slammed my door. Frustration streamed in candlewicks across my back, white hot sweat with a desire to burn. I left the house to lay in my hammock strung beneath the pecan tree. Once, I convinced my friends to swing me hard enough to flip. I fell and bonked my head on a faux-wood board. Mom folded the house away into glimpses of our life: cardboard boxes of socks, toothpaste, baseball cards. The moments were shoved into the maw of a U-Haul. I was head of the pack-the-shed operation. I came across a car battery, carried it to the front of the house without dragging. My body wept. Joints popping like firecrackers. I set it at her feet. See, Mom? I carried it all this way. We’re leaving shit like that behind. Put it back. I lifted it back into my arms, horribly dense and slick. It was okay, then I stumbled on the steps of the

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shed. The battery slipped from my grip and slammed down on my foot; now one of my toes will be crooked for life. On the afternoon Mom was due to leave for Florida, Grandma drove me home from practice. I elected to stay with her to finish the final month of the semester. The house was broken down to its original ruins of white and beige. The hammock would be left behind. No more injuries. As Grandma approached an intersection, a woman high on oxycodone missed her stop sign. We were in Mom’s car. I feel like we could have stopped. It was so slow. We slammed into the woman’s vehicle and the car smelled like fire. The airbags blasted their packing powder. I could taste it. I blinked and the world was smoke, cracked windows, Grandma hunched over the wheel with a bleeding forehead. The car dialed emergency services. She sat up and wiped her face off on the back of her sleeve. Let me out, my door’s stuck. I got out and walked around the front. Its nose was crumpled like tin foil. After I got her out, we sat beside a ripped tire on the grass and waited for the paramedics. The other woman sat with us. Mom arrived after the paramedics. My car, she said. My car. Totaled. I was smiling. She wanted to deck my stupid dumb face so badly, but she was a good mom, never even hit me. She drove us home. I moved my suitcase into Grandma’s car and sat in the passenger seat. Mom walked by and peered into the window. I rolled it down. Do well in school. Okay. Thanks. My grandma got into the car and we rode to her house. There is no incredible bravery at the end of this story. I did not cry to my friends. I finished the semester almost blithely. I ate cereal every morning. My grandma picked me up after my last day of school and we drove for five hours. There were good moments that I thought of, then had to let go, because we only leave the good things behind. I thought of the night my mom let me drive us to the Dollar General twelve miles up the street. She bought dark green spray paint. When we got home, we walked to the billboard on our property that didn’t pay rent and pried at the edges of its Real Estate ad to expose the white underbelly, scarred by past businesses. The can clicked in her hands as she shook it and we painted the lyrics to a song that no one else knew in three-foot John Deere green letters. We went to bed stained and laughing. The color never came out of the sheets, and eventually, we threw them away.

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Seaty

Cam Collins

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Observations of Scars and Strangers Kathryn Wallis

I kept staring ahead at the scars in the car and the onceperfect asphalt I drove on. This moron had never heard of family. He didn’t need to hitchhike to be remembered. I knew then that, if I remembered him, he’d only be another nameless nuisance, falling in the file with the drivers who’d cut me off and the men who hadn’t held the door open for me. He continued. “What’s your religion?” I tightened my grip on the steering wheel and I could feel the heat of my eyes reflecting back “... I saw his glossy eyes fixed on from the dashes of paint dividing the road. At the darkening blue above us. He least they looked nicer looked dead. I wish he were.” than the cracks. Where I was, there weren’t little, unnamed plants that could survive to sprout from the asphalt underside. I remembered how I once believed it was beneficial to press flowers against scarring legs. My knuckles were now a pretty mix of white and purple against the background. In his now-reclined-chair, I saw his glossy eyes fixed on the darkening blue above us. He looked dead. I wish he were. I turned back to the road and tapped the fuel gauge. The needle waved at me and fell. Almost empty. There wouldn’t be any gas stations for at least ten more miles. There was no way we would make it. I muttered a curse and Eric looked up. “You okey?” I smiled and squinted my eyes until it hurt. “I would be if you had a few tanks of gas in your back pocket.” Eric sat up to think for a few seconds. “Are we out of gas?” I nodded and he rose his shoulders. “Hey, it’ll be okay. I can call a towing company” I stayed silent as he entered numbers into his phone. After a few utterances, he hung up.

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“They’ll be here at 9:00 p.m.” “Dir-” I stopped myself, “Eric, what time is it?” “7:00 p.m.” “And I’m guessing you want to go explore now?” He nodded like a solar-powered car flower, shaking out his hair. I couldn’t help thinking about the fries at Arby’s. I could trust Arby’s, so my agreement came begrudgingly. Pocketing the keys, I listened to the satisfying sound of the metal scraping the fabric. Eric broke the peace. “Hey, are those key indents on yer car or ammi imaginin’ things?” I walked towards the forest. “C’mon” “Well, are they?” “Yeah, an accident” Eric ran besides me, “An accident? How do ya-?” “ I accidently spoke my mind, okay? An accident.” Eric had to plow his head with his fingers to harvest any thoughts, as expected from an idiot. He kept quiet. The whispering grass beneath my feet became the sound of breaking glass, leaves, and past hearts. He spoke again. “Is that why you don’t like me? People made you lose trust o’ somethin’?” I let silence answer him. He let out the noise of a chair with loose bolts, perhaps a laugh. “You know, you’re not as bad as you pretend to be. I know we don’t know eachotha’ very well but…” he paused, twirling a ring of hair around his finger, “Well, I think I can understand how you’ve been feeling.” I summoned a wordless reply from the back of my throat and he looked away. “Seriously Chell. I-” he halted himself, this time growing quiet. His voice bowed, sounding like an argument playing through thin apartment walls. “I am not on a “hitchhikin’ adventure” just because I want people at my funeral. Rather, I need a reason for me to not cause my own funeral. If I have an average life, then why should I continue? W-why would I-” his eyes shaded themselves and I looked to the sky. I could see lines of stars and they winked at me. Their glimmering persuasions would not win me over. “Hey, it’s not too bad out here.” Eric realigned his gaze with the trees, “We’re almost

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there.” “Wait, Eric, what?” I felt my veins suffocate one another as I realized I was walking with a sketchy stranger through a mass of dark, overpoweringly planted trees. What was I doing? What if he tried to kill me? What if he knew— His gasp cut my thoughts short. We stood in front of a magnificent, crumbling house that seemed to have fallen from the sky, lodging itself in a tree’s arms. Eric was bouncing on his heels when he saw it. “I didn’t think it’d be here anymore. I never noticed how… beautiful it really was.” It really was just a treehouse, with a rope ladder, a few vines holding it together like duct tape, and a bird’s nest dismantling itself on the roof. One door, one window, and, judging by the speed of Eric’s breathing, one admirer. I didn’t respond, trying to conceal the shakes. The way my body responded to the cold and to fear embarrassed me. I felt something warm and fleshy slip into my hand. The wrinkles of his palm felt like the cowboy sheets I clenched in my little fists and hid under when I was a child. The sheets that kept me safe. I gripped our hands tighter.

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Music Man

Kashta Dozier-Muhammed

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upon viewing kjartansson’s the visitors in ohio while things fall apart back home Sarah Mims Yeargin

“Once again, I fall into / My feminine ways.” - Ásdís Sif Gunnarsdóttir to my right: man in bathtub, feet propped, baptizing the classical guitar across his hairy belly. my left: the barefooted bones of an accordionist who sways to the willows of her own voice. projections in a midwestern art gallery. outside this place exists nothing but greenery and goldenrods. pastures of soybeans. corn mazes. twenty feet from the door, someone i’ve only just met asks me to join him for lunch, though tomato sauce has already claimed his t-shirt victim. reminds me of my brothers, who, 550 miles away, are convicted for using smoke to cope, and i am a cesspool of guilt and inner warfare because all i can think about is this damn exhibit. the cello. piano. drumset. by the time i’m meant to board the plane home, i still don’t know how to feel or who to blame―weary gaze turned down over the city light stars, head resting on plexiglass―maybe everyone is a victim, just like everyone is a prosecutor. maybe people grapple the way they do because they can’t be packages, boxed up and sent eastward

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to anywhere but the place from which is closest to heaven. only thing i know for sure is heaven’s not here, not on this plane dipping over a field of mowed zinnias, decapitated. not on this earth, where people are damned for their misguided methods of escape, whether those methods succeed or not.

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Profile for Élan Literary Magazine

Élan Spring 2017 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 Spring 2017 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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