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ephemera Robert D. Clark Honors College Creative Arts Journal

spring 2012


Fiction Editor: Fiction Staff:

Mckenna Marsden William Leroux, Mackenzie Magee, Clara Piazzola, Jordan Wilkie

Poetry Editor: Poetry staff:

Alaric López Alexander Bean, Amy Carr, Anna Tomlinson, Carly Uebel

Art Editor: Art staff:

Roxanne McKee Eva Bertoglio, Austin Powe

Layout:

Roxanne McKee, McKenna Marsden

Dear Reader, Welcome to the 2012 edition of Ephemera creative arts journal. Every spring Ephemera publishes the best poetry, prose, and visual art that Clark Honors College students create throughout the year. The journal is entirely student-run in an effort to foster creativity within the Honors College community. This year’s journal is somewhat different from years past because of the different nature of the student work we received. There are more long prose pieces and a higher ratio of fine art to photography. The artistic interests of the student body change from year to year and Ephemera, as a lasting representation of student work, and chronicle these changes. Thank you for reading, The Editors

Cover Photo:

Palm Fan Allison Varga


Fiction Editor: Fiction Staff:

Mckenna Marsden William Leroux, Mackenzie Magee, Clara Piazzola, Jordan Wilkie

Poetry Editor: Poetry staff:

Alaric López Alexander Bean, Amy Carr, Anna Tomlinson, Carly Uebel

Art Editor: Art staff:

Roxanne McKee Eva Bertoglio, Austin Powe

Layout:

Roxanne McKee, McKenna Marsden

Dear Reader, Welcome to the 2012 edition of Ephemera creative arts journal. Every spring Ephemera publishes the best poetry, prose, and visual art that Clark Honors College students create throughout the year. The journal is entirely student-run in an effort to foster creativity within the Honors College community. This year’s journal is somewhat different from years past because of the different nature of the student work we received. There are more long prose pieces and a higher ratio of fine art to photography. The artistic interests of the student body change from year to year and Ephemera, as a lasting representation of student work, and chronicle these changes. Thank you for reading, The Editors

Cover Photo:

Palm Fan Allison Varga


Contents Christmas Tree Hunting An Introduction Leaf Garden Party Untitled Apollo’s Bride Bottom Dwellers

Austin Powe Charlotte Rheingold Hannah Fuller Bethany Kaylor Alia Mowery Mimi Loughney Mackenzie Magee

A Soldier of the Great War

Eva Bertoglio

La Princesa

Marion Rosas

The Doors in Budapest

Ella Anderson

Mind Meld When You Go Untitled Parliament Vertov, Hazanavicius, and

Eva Bertoglio Anna Tomlinson Zeph Schafer Ella Anderson Eva Bertoglio

1 2 3 5 7 8 9 10 13 16 18 19 20 21 22

Le Poumon Noir Organic Image

Clayton Davis Alia Mowery Erica Leishman

Untitled

Jordan Wilkie

A Variety of Bottles

Marion Rosas

Untitled

Zeph Schafer

Addiction

Anonymous

You Cannot See Me Drunk Cooking Untitled

Zeph Schafer

Exodus

Marion Rosas

Fantasies and Bigotry Arabesque Drawings #2,

Marion Rosas McKenna Marsden Olivia Awbrey

23 24 28 29 31 34 34 35 36 40

Anonymous Eva Bertoglio

40 41 42 43

#3, and #15 Piano Hands The Teacher Tea Leaves What Is Beauty? Brig Bay Blooming Barrel Cactus The Children Are Our Future and

Charlotte Rheingold WIlliam Leroux Eliza Pearce Erica Leishman Allison Varga Charlotte Rheingold Eva Bertoglio

43 45 46 47 50 52 53

the Future Isn’t Human Ode to Llama Through a Window Obligations

Scorsece Marathon Fluorescence

Untitled

Emily Gritzmacher Alex Bean Anonymous

Next Time You Go First

Kelsey Stilson

Day’s End

Allison Varga

Cactus Flower On Top of the World

Mackenzie Henshaw Marion Rosas

Editing

William Leroux

First Home

Bethany Kaylor

Farm Town

Nicholas Maurer

Floating Candles

Marion Rosas

Delicate Things

Austin Powe

54 55 56 58 59 64 65 66 67 68 69 70


Contents Christmas Tree Hunting An Introduction Leaf Garden Party Untitled Apollo’s Bride Bottom Dwellers

Austin Powe Charlotte Rheingold Hannah Fuller Bethany Kaylor Alia Mowery Mimi Loughney Mackenzie Magee

A Soldier of the Great War

Eva Bertoglio

La Princesa

Marion Rosas

The Doors in Budapest

Ella Anderson

Mind Meld When You Go Untitled Parliament Vertov, Hazanavicius, and

Eva Bertoglio Anna Tomlinson Zeph Schafer Ella Anderson Eva Bertoglio

1 2 3 5 7 8 9 10 13 16 18 19 20 21 22

Le Poumon Noir Organic Image

Clayton Davis Alia Mowery Erica Leishman

Untitled

Jordan Wilkie

A Variety of Bottles

Marion Rosas

Untitled

Zeph Schafer

Addiction

Anonymous

You Cannot See Me Drunk Cooking Untitled

Zeph Schafer

Exodus

Marion Rosas

Fantasies and Bigotry Arabesque Drawings #2,

Marion Rosas McKenna Marsden Olivia Awbrey

23 24 28 29 31 34 34 35 36 40

Anonymous Eva Bertoglio

40 41 42 43

#3, and #15 Piano Hands The Teacher Tea Leaves What Is Beauty? Brig Bay Blooming Barrel Cactus The Children Are Our Future and

Charlotte Rheingold WIlliam Leroux Eliza Pearce Erica Leishman Allison Varga Charlotte Rheingold Eva Bertoglio

43 45 46 47 50 52 53

the Future Isn’t Human Ode to Llama Through a Window Obligations

Scorsece Marathon Fluorescence

Untitled

Emily Gritzmacher Alex Bean Anonymous

Next Time You Go First

Kelsey Stilson

Day’s End

Allison Varga

Cactus Flower On Top of the World

Mackenzie Henshaw Marion Rosas

Editing

William Leroux

First Home

Bethany Kaylor

Farm Town

Nicholas Maurer

Floating Candles

Marion Rosas

Delicate Things

Austin Powe

54 55 56 58 59 64 65 66 67 68 69 70


Christmas Tree Hunting

An Introduction Charlotte Rheingold

Christopher Columbus discovered America, and I discovered a hole in my pocket. It’s where the whispers fall through and fold themselves into secrets and condense into knots. Knots that we navigate around, around and around, until we get so dizzy we have to stop, and remember what exactly it was that we didn’t say. Then the words bubble up and introduce themselves to our friends.

Austin Powe

1

2


Christmas Tree Hunting

An Introduction Charlotte Rheingold

Christopher Columbus discovered America, and I discovered a hole in my pocket. It’s where the whispers fall through and fold themselves into secrets and condense into knots. Knots that we navigate around, around and around, until we get so dizzy we have to stop, and remember what exactly it was that we didn’t say. Then the words bubble up and introduce themselves to our friends.

Austin Powe

1

2


Leaf Garden

3

Hannah Fuller

4


Leaf Garden

3

Hannah Fuller

4


Party

Bethany Kaylor

The room smelled like ass and potpourri. I stared at a picture on the wall of one dog humping another. There was something nice about the way dogs looked at the camera, like they were having a good time; the one doing the humping looked straight at the lens and the one being humped had its tongue out, grinning. The couch looked dirty but I didn’t want to stand. Standing was for a girl who had nothing better to do with herself, and I didn’t want to be that person. There were a boy and girl on the couch already, but they didn’t seem to be romantically involved. I wedged myself into the vacant corner of the couch; I didn’t want our knees to bump. The boy was talking about a previous party, one that the girl hadn’t attended but had heard stories about. Evidently someone had passed out onto the beerpong table headfirst. The other drunks at the party thought he was dead but he wasn’t. The boy told the story with sincerity and fondness—the girl ate it up. Her hair was unnaturally stiff and her eyeliner a bit crooked, but she was thin-hipped and had delicate fingers. She was the kind of girl that football players point to in the stands after they make a huge play. My hands were small but dry, the skin stretched out over my knuckles. The boy finished his drink and made a face. The girl asked him if he wanted to get another drink, to which he nodded. They both got up, the girl pulling down her skirt and the boy running his hand through his hair. The girl’s strides were long. The boy’s strides were slow. They moved in synchronization—they were in no rush for anyone. I hoped someone else would come sit next to me, because a person sitting alone on a couch is pretty much the same as a person standing against on a wall. I looked at the picture of the dogs again; I wished there was a dog that I could have pet, but then again I didn’t because someone would probably make it drink beer. Even so, the company would have been nice. I touched the couch cushion and concentrated on the path of the fibers, following them with my fingers. The threads lodged beneath my unpainted fingernails. I closed my eyes and tapped my feet to the rhythm of the music from the other room. Maybe someone would glance over and be entranced by me. A moment later my

5

eyes opened—the world had rearranged itself. Some people in the room were kind of dancing, their bodies moving against each other. They didn’t make eye contact with each other. The humping dogs looked like they were having more fun. The people who weren’t dancing were either hanging on to the edge of others’ conversations or pretending to look busy like I was. They were more convincing; I wasn’t even trying to pretend to text someone. My drink was finished but I didn’t want another because my insides were starting to hurt. I gathered my hair like I was going to put it into a ponytail, then let it fall. I liked sensation it created, the hairs pulled against my scalp. A gaggle of girls burst out of the bathroom, giggling and bumping into each other. Boys had their arms over stumbling girls’ shoulders, like they had just caught a prized fish. My fingernails dug into my palms with the beat of the song that I still didn’t know. By the hallway I saw the girl with the crooked eyeliner again. She was talking casually to a different boy in front of the staircase, and she occasionally ran her hand through her hair. It would have been sexy, like the ones in shampoo commercials, except her hair was too straight for it to fall naturally. The boy didn’t seem to notice and kept talking to the space above her head. My stomach was hurting again. I needed to think about speed limit signs, but all I could think about was the girl’s crooked eyeliner and how the boys with their arms over the girls kept looking over their shoulders and how I shouldn’t have worn mascara because it looked stupid, so stupid. Digging the heels of my palms into my eyes, I got up from the couch and headed to the bathroom. Someone was already in it, so I leaned against the wall and thought about speed limit signs: 45, 55, 65. 65, 55, 45. The numbers weren’t numbing enough and I tried to calm myself down by pinching my nails into my fingertips. The bathroom door opened and I wiped my face. A girl without any makeup was in the doorway, rubbing her hands on her jeans. “Sorry,” she said, moving her body to let me pass. I shook my head and mumbled, but I glanced at her bare face. I shut the door and ripped off the remaining toilet paper from the roll and dampened it. I scrubbed at my eyelashes and thought about speed limits and humping dogs and the girl who was beautiful without makeup; someone knocked on the door. “One second,” I said, clawing at my eyes, desperately trying to erase my mascara. “I’ll be out in one second.” •••

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Party

Bethany Kaylor

The room smelled like ass and potpourri. I stared at a picture on the wall of one dog humping another. There was something nice about the way dogs looked at the camera, like they were having a good time; the one doing the humping looked straight at the lens and the one being humped had its tongue out, grinning. The couch looked dirty but I didn’t want to stand. Standing was for a girl who had nothing better to do with herself, and I didn’t want to be that person. There were a boy and girl on the couch already, but they didn’t seem to be romantically involved. I wedged myself into the vacant corner of the couch; I didn’t want our knees to bump. The boy was talking about a previous party, one that the girl hadn’t attended but had heard stories about. Evidently someone had passed out onto the beerpong table headfirst. The other drunks at the party thought he was dead but he wasn’t. The boy told the story with sincerity and fondness—the girl ate it up. Her hair was unnaturally stiff and her eyeliner a bit crooked, but she was thin-hipped and had delicate fingers. She was the kind of girl that football players point to in the stands after they make a huge play. My hands were small but dry, the skin stretched out over my knuckles. The boy finished his drink and made a face. The girl asked him if he wanted to get another drink, to which he nodded. They both got up, the girl pulling down her skirt and the boy running his hand through his hair. The girl’s strides were long. The boy’s strides were slow. They moved in synchronization—they were in no rush for anyone. I hoped someone else would come sit next to me, because a person sitting alone on a couch is pretty much the same as a person standing against on a wall. I looked at the picture of the dogs again; I wished there was a dog that I could have pet, but then again I didn’t because someone would probably make it drink beer. Even so, the company would have been nice. I touched the couch cushion and concentrated on the path of the fibers, following them with my fingers. The threads lodged beneath my unpainted fingernails. I closed my eyes and tapped my feet to the rhythm of the music from the other room. Maybe someone would glance over and be entranced by me. A moment later my

5

eyes opened—the world had rearranged itself. Some people in the room were kind of dancing, their bodies moving against each other. They didn’t make eye contact with each other. The humping dogs looked like they were having more fun. The people who weren’t dancing were either hanging on to the edge of others’ conversations or pretending to look busy like I was. They were more convincing; I wasn’t even trying to pretend to text someone. My drink was finished but I didn’t want another because my insides were starting to hurt. I gathered my hair like I was going to put it into a ponytail, then let it fall. I liked sensation it created, the hairs pulled against my scalp. A gaggle of girls burst out of the bathroom, giggling and bumping into each other. Boys had their arms over stumbling girls’ shoulders, like they had just caught a prized fish. My fingernails dug into my palms with the beat of the song that I still didn’t know. By the hallway I saw the girl with the crooked eyeliner again. She was talking casually to a different boy in front of the staircase, and she occasionally ran her hand through her hair. It would have been sexy, like the ones in shampoo commercials, except her hair was too straight for it to fall naturally. The boy didn’t seem to notice and kept talking to the space above her head. My stomach was hurting again. I needed to think about speed limit signs, but all I could think about was the girl’s crooked eyeliner and how the boys with their arms over the girls kept looking over their shoulders and how I shouldn’t have worn mascara because it looked stupid, so stupid. Digging the heels of my palms into my eyes, I got up from the couch and headed to the bathroom. Someone was already in it, so I leaned against the wall and thought about speed limit signs: 45, 55, 65. 65, 55, 45. The numbers weren’t numbing enough and I tried to calm myself down by pinching my nails into my fingertips. The bathroom door opened and I wiped my face. A girl without any makeup was in the doorway, rubbing her hands on her jeans. “Sorry,” she said, moving her body to let me pass. I shook my head and mumbled, but I glanced at her bare face. I shut the door and ripped off the remaining toilet paper from the roll and dampened it. I scrubbed at my eyelashes and thought about speed limits and humping dogs and the girl who was beautiful without makeup; someone knocked on the door. “One second,” I said, clawing at my eyes, desperately trying to erase my mascara. “I’ll be out in one second.” •••

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Apollo’s Bride Mimi Loughney The sun has selected you as his queen And given you a crown of light Adorned with godly jewel and honey veil. He places it lightly on your head. His fingers flare down your neck And caress collarbone. You inhale his glimmering redolence Into your lungs. It seeps into your bloodstream And pulses gold. A glow emerges from the freckles on your forearms, Underneath fingernails, And the cracks in your hands. He clasps them tightly With ardent heat and adoration. In union, you both stand And exchange a honey vow With thick whispers. The dust suspended round Is the only audience to a fervent touch of lip.

Alia Mowery

7

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Apollo’s Bride Mimi Loughney The sun has selected you as his queen And given you a crown of light Adorned with godly jewel and honey veil. He places it lightly on your head. His fingers flare down your neck And caress collarbone. You inhale his glimmering redolence Into your lungs. It seeps into your bloodstream And pulses gold. A glow emerges from the freckles on your forearms, Underneath fingernails, And the cracks in your hands. He clasps them tightly With ardent heat and adoration. In union, you both stand And exchange a honey vow With thick whispers. The dust suspended round Is the only audience to a fervent touch of lip.

Alia Mowery

7

8


Bottom Dwellers

9

A Soldier of the Great War

Eva Bertoglio

Mackenzie Magee

Marilyn White sat at her desk and rearranged the papers. Realizing they were already in the proper order, she glanced at her watch. It was twenty minutes to five. She could take this extra time to call her parents, read over some articles on the effects of underwater volcanoes on microorganisms, or plan tomorrow’s lesson. Instead she reached for her cane and stood up. She walked down the hallway into the girl’s restroom. The room smelled sickly sweet, like a student’s bubblegum perfume. She saw the names of some of her students etched into the stalls: “Miranda gives head here,” “Kelsey hearts fucking,” “Kim is a cunt.” Marilyn tried not to think about the personal lives of her students. She stood in front of the mirror and pulled lipstick out of her pocket. Marilyn didn’t know why she put makeup on for parentteacher conferences. It was mostly only the mothers who came, and they weren’t interested in the attractiveness of their sons’ and daughters’ science teacher. Most of them weren’t interested in the conferences at all. Still, Marilyn examined her face. It was long and horselike, with a chin too prominent for a woman. Her eyes were small and squinty, and her eyelashes were too short. There were lines around her mouth from the times she had smiled. Her hair, once blonde, was now long, thin, and graying. She smeared peachcolored lipstick on her mouth and hobbled out of the bathroom. Hobbled. Tottered. Limped. Those were the verbs that described Marilyn’s walk now. She felt the swollenness of her left leg, the way it dragged like a carcass against the floor. She hated the sound of her walk now, the sequence of unnatural noises, thump step drag. She felt like the freakish organisms that dwelled at the bottom of the ocean, and tried to stay hidden in the darkest parts of the sea. Except she was out in the open, every day, exposing everyone to her sick march. A woman was already sitting in a chair across from Marilyn’s desk when Marilyn entered the room. She was five minutes early. Marilyn tried to relax her walk as she limped by the woman to sit down. The woman smiled at Marilyn and her cane. Her face was wide and naïve. “How do you do, Mrs…” Marilyn shuffled through her papers to find Conor’s sheet. “Kavinsky?”

The woman smiled again, and Marilyn noticed that the corners of her eyes turned up, making her seem genuine. “I’m just fine,” she said. “Good. Well your son Conor is doing fine too.” Marilyn ran her finger down the grade sheet to find Conor’s name. “He got a 79% on the last test…Oh, wrong name…I mean a 72%.” “What was the test on?” “Marine biology.” Though she knew it was rude, Marilyn looked down at her watch. These parent-teacher conferences were only supposed to last half an hour at most. With any luck, she could make it back home for the high tide. Marilyn loved sitting on her deck with a cup of tea and watching the gray, Oregon waves rise and shatter over the sand. “Will you be taking the kids on any field trips to the beach?” “Likely not.” Mrs. Kavinsky leaned forward as if she was about to get up. Instead she nestled herself further back in the chair. She was a stout woman with a short, boyish haircut. There appeared to be

10


Bottom Dwellers

9

A Soldier of the Great War

Eva Bertoglio

Mackenzie Magee

Marilyn White sat at her desk and rearranged the papers. Realizing they were already in the proper order, she glanced at her watch. It was twenty minutes to five. She could take this extra time to call her parents, read over some articles on the effects of underwater volcanoes on microorganisms, or plan tomorrow’s lesson. Instead she reached for her cane and stood up. She walked down the hallway into the girl’s restroom. The room smelled sickly sweet, like a student’s bubblegum perfume. She saw the names of some of her students etched into the stalls: “Miranda gives head here,” “Kelsey hearts fucking,” “Kim is a cunt.” Marilyn tried not to think about the personal lives of her students. She stood in front of the mirror and pulled lipstick out of her pocket. Marilyn didn’t know why she put makeup on for parentteacher conferences. It was mostly only the mothers who came, and they weren’t interested in the attractiveness of their sons’ and daughters’ science teacher. Most of them weren’t interested in the conferences at all. Still, Marilyn examined her face. It was long and horselike, with a chin too prominent for a woman. Her eyes were small and squinty, and her eyelashes were too short. There were lines around her mouth from the times she had smiled. Her hair, once blonde, was now long, thin, and graying. She smeared peachcolored lipstick on her mouth and hobbled out of the bathroom. Hobbled. Tottered. Limped. Those were the verbs that described Marilyn’s walk now. She felt the swollenness of her left leg, the way it dragged like a carcass against the floor. She hated the sound of her walk now, the sequence of unnatural noises, thump step drag. She felt like the freakish organisms that dwelled at the bottom of the ocean, and tried to stay hidden in the darkest parts of the sea. Except she was out in the open, every day, exposing everyone to her sick march. A woman was already sitting in a chair across from Marilyn’s desk when Marilyn entered the room. She was five minutes early. Marilyn tried to relax her walk as she limped by the woman to sit down. The woman smiled at Marilyn and her cane. Her face was wide and naïve. “How do you do, Mrs…” Marilyn shuffled through her papers to find Conor’s sheet. “Kavinsky?”

The woman smiled again, and Marilyn noticed that the corners of her eyes turned up, making her seem genuine. “I’m just fine,” she said. “Good. Well your son Conor is doing fine too.” Marilyn ran her finger down the grade sheet to find Conor’s name. “He got a 79% on the last test…Oh, wrong name…I mean a 72%.” “What was the test on?” “Marine biology.” Though she knew it was rude, Marilyn looked down at her watch. These parent-teacher conferences were only supposed to last half an hour at most. With any luck, she could make it back home for the high tide. Marilyn loved sitting on her deck with a cup of tea and watching the gray, Oregon waves rise and shatter over the sand. “Will you be taking the kids on any field trips to the beach?” “Likely not.” Mrs. Kavinsky leaned forward as if she was about to get up. Instead she nestled herself further back in the chair. She was a stout woman with a short, boyish haircut. There appeared to be

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no gray in her hair. “How is Conor in class? Is he loud, or quiet?” Mrs. Kavinsky asked. Marilyn tried to remember which boy Conor was. She knew he had short brown hair, like his mother—but there were so many brown-haired boys in the class, it was easy to get them confused. A mole near Mrs. Kavinsky’s eyeball reminded Marilyn of one of the boys in her class. She figured that boy was probably Conor—in fact, she knew it was. They had the same upturned eyes, the same small, pug nose and protruding ears. Conor was a very annoying child who sat in the corner of the classroom, near the emergency eyewash station. He had turned on the faucet at the eyewash station and splashed other students with it at least three times during the year. He often passed notes in class, and wrote hip-hop lyrics on his desk. “Conor is quiet. Hardly ever disruptive,” Marilyn said. Mrs. Kavinsky’s eyes grew wider. “You mean he’s been disruptive before?” “No, hardly ever.” Conor was definitely not one of the worst ones. The worst one was Jason Schmidt. Marilyn remembered the day Jason took her cane and hid it while she was at her desk grading papers. He stuck it in a cabinet and snickered in his seat. “Ms. White, could you come help me with this lab question?” he asked. She looked down at the floor by her desk, where she always kept it, and realized it was gone. Her cheeks flushed bright red. Jason stared at her with feigned innocence. “Please Ms. White, I don’t understand question two.” Marilyn used the edge of the desk to hoist herself out of the chair. She stood up and limped over to Jason’s desk, stepping gingerly on her worse leg. She felt unbalanced and shaky, like she was walking on stilts. Several paces from Jason’s desk, she put just a bit too much pressure on her left leg. It gave out, and her cheek hit the cold linoleum floor. “Are you alright Ms. White?” The A students asked. She wasn’t alright, but she couldn’t tell them so. Instead she let them out of class early. “I’m just asking about him because he’s been a bit…distant lately,” Mrs. Kavinsky said. She leaned over the desk toward Marilyn. “Between you and me, his Dad and I are going through a divorce right now.” Marilyn noticed a gold wedding ring on Mrs. Kavinsky’s stubby finger. She wondered if she would take it off or leave it on

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after the divorce was final. “I’m sorry to hear that,” Marilyn said. In reality, she was not sorry to hear it. She wasn’t glad, either. She just didn’t care. She wanted to retreat to her gray ocean waves with the gray sky and the drizzling Oregon rain. She wanted to sit on her deck and watch children try to fly kites. She did not want to be within the walls of Astoria Middle School anymore. Mrs. Kavinsky’s eyes were watering. “Thank you,” she said. “It’s been hard on all of us.” Marilyn pushed a box of tissues toward Mrs. Kavinsky on the desk, and she took one. “Well, do you have any questions?” “It’s been so hard. I’m afraid Conor’s pulling away from us. I’m afraid he’s pulling away from me.” Marilyn hadn’t talked to her own parents in ages. They had rallied around her so eagerly when she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. Her mother sent meals nearly every week, and came by the house frequently to keep her company. Her father sent her flowers in the mail periodically, addressed to “Daddy’s sweet girl,” and fixed a broken section of railing on her deck. Her sister had flown from Florida to take her to the first physical therapy appointment. Though it was well-intentioned, their attentiveness was too much. One day Marilyn got into a fight with her mother over the phone. She told her to stop coming over everyday, that she could take care of herself. Now her mother called only once a week, and sometimes Marilyn wouldn’t answer. When she did answer, her mother spoke cautiously, careful not to seem too doting. Marilyn hated the hesitancy in her mother’s voice, a signal of the affection Marilyn knew she was holding back to not seem overbearing. “Conor always liked his father better. He took him to concerts and taught him how to ride a bike. He’s the fun parent.” Mrs. Kavinsky was sniffling now. “Have you considered seeing a therapist?” Marilyn asked. “No. Jim always thought they were sham doctors.” Mrs. Kavinsky paused. “I guess I’m not with Jim anymore though.” Marilyn hated boy names that started with “J.” Jeff, Jake, Jordan, Jessie, Jared—she had dated them all, and all of them had turned out to be miserable people. Correction, she had slept with them all. None of the relationships were significant enough to be considered anything more than physical. After she was diagnosed, Marilyn had sworn off of dating. “Jim’s home with Conor right now. I’m afraid he’s turning

12


no gray in her hair. “How is Conor in class? Is he loud, or quiet?” Mrs. Kavinsky asked. Marilyn tried to remember which boy Conor was. She knew he had short brown hair, like his mother—but there were so many brown-haired boys in the class, it was easy to get them confused. A mole near Mrs. Kavinsky’s eyeball reminded Marilyn of one of the boys in her class. She figured that boy was probably Conor—in fact, she knew it was. They had the same upturned eyes, the same small, pug nose and protruding ears. Conor was a very annoying child who sat in the corner of the classroom, near the emergency eyewash station. He had turned on the faucet at the eyewash station and splashed other students with it at least three times during the year. He often passed notes in class, and wrote hip-hop lyrics on his desk. “Conor is quiet. Hardly ever disruptive,” Marilyn said. Mrs. Kavinsky’s eyes grew wider. “You mean he’s been disruptive before?” “No, hardly ever.” Conor was definitely not one of the worst ones. The worst one was Jason Schmidt. Marilyn remembered the day Jason took her cane and hid it while she was at her desk grading papers. He stuck it in a cabinet and snickered in his seat. “Ms. White, could you come help me with this lab question?” he asked. She looked down at the floor by her desk, where she always kept it, and realized it was gone. Her cheeks flushed bright red. Jason stared at her with feigned innocence. “Please Ms. White, I don’t understand question two.” Marilyn used the edge of the desk to hoist herself out of the chair. She stood up and limped over to Jason’s desk, stepping gingerly on her worse leg. She felt unbalanced and shaky, like she was walking on stilts. Several paces from Jason’s desk, she put just a bit too much pressure on her left leg. It gave out, and her cheek hit the cold linoleum floor. “Are you alright Ms. White?” The A students asked. She wasn’t alright, but she couldn’t tell them so. Instead she let them out of class early. “I’m just asking about him because he’s been a bit…distant lately,” Mrs. Kavinsky said. She leaned over the desk toward Marilyn. “Between you and me, his Dad and I are going through a divorce right now.” Marilyn noticed a gold wedding ring on Mrs. Kavinsky’s stubby finger. She wondered if she would take it off or leave it on

11

after the divorce was final. “I’m sorry to hear that,” Marilyn said. In reality, she was not sorry to hear it. She wasn’t glad, either. She just didn’t care. She wanted to retreat to her gray ocean waves with the gray sky and the drizzling Oregon rain. She wanted to sit on her deck and watch children try to fly kites. She did not want to be within the walls of Astoria Middle School anymore. Mrs. Kavinsky’s eyes were watering. “Thank you,” she said. “It’s been hard on all of us.” Marilyn pushed a box of tissues toward Mrs. Kavinsky on the desk, and she took one. “Well, do you have any questions?” “It’s been so hard. I’m afraid Conor’s pulling away from us. I’m afraid he’s pulling away from me.” Marilyn hadn’t talked to her own parents in ages. They had rallied around her so eagerly when she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. Her mother sent meals nearly every week, and came by the house frequently to keep her company. Her father sent her flowers in the mail periodically, addressed to “Daddy’s sweet girl,” and fixed a broken section of railing on her deck. Her sister had flown from Florida to take her to the first physical therapy appointment. Though it was well-intentioned, their attentiveness was too much. One day Marilyn got into a fight with her mother over the phone. She told her to stop coming over everyday, that she could take care of herself. Now her mother called only once a week, and sometimes Marilyn wouldn’t answer. When she did answer, her mother spoke cautiously, careful not to seem too doting. Marilyn hated the hesitancy in her mother’s voice, a signal of the affection Marilyn knew she was holding back to not seem overbearing. “Conor always liked his father better. He took him to concerts and taught him how to ride a bike. He’s the fun parent.” Mrs. Kavinsky was sniffling now. “Have you considered seeing a therapist?” Marilyn asked. “No. Jim always thought they were sham doctors.” Mrs. Kavinsky paused. “I guess I’m not with Jim anymore though.” Marilyn hated boy names that started with “J.” Jeff, Jake, Jordan, Jessie, Jared—she had dated them all, and all of them had turned out to be miserable people. Correction, she had slept with them all. None of the relationships were significant enough to be considered anything more than physical. After she was diagnosed, Marilyn had sworn off of dating. “Jim’s home with Conor right now. I’m afraid he’s turning

12


La Princesa

Marion Rosas

him against me.” Mrs. Kavinsky began sobbing into her hands. Marilyn didn’t know what to do. She wanted to kick Mrs. Kavinsky out of her classroom, but she didn’t have the heart. She reached for her cane and slowly stood up. She teetered over to Mrs. Kavinsky and placed a hand on her shoulder. Mrs. Kavinsky released her face from her hands and looked at Marilyn’s cane, dewy-eyed. “Are you married, Mrs. White?” Mrs. Kavinsky asked the cane. Her eyes rested on it as if it were a foreign object. “No” said Marilyn. She removed her hand from Mrs. Kavinsky’s arm. “Were you married once?” Mrs. Kavinsky looked up at her face this time, and Marilyn felt her notice her gray hair, her wrinkles. “No.” Marilyn wanted the woman out of her classroom immediately. She didn’t care that she was crying anymore. “I’m sorry. I’m sorry I asked,” said Mrs. Kavinsky.

13

“That’s alright,” said Marilyn. She walked back to her desk and sat down. “Anything else you’d like to know about your son?” “Does he hang out with a good crowd?” Marilyn did not understand the woman. She wondered what solace she found in crying in front of a stranger, and insisting on staying in a place where she was not wanted. She decided to toy with her. “He doesn’t really hang out with anyone,” she said. Mrs. Kavinsky’s face crinkled into a look of concern. “What? He doesn’t talk to anyone?” “Nope. He sits in the corner of the room and draws on his desk all period.” Marilyn leaned over the desk. She knew just the trick for getting the woman out of her classroom. “I didn’t want to tell you this, but I realized it might be important information considering what your family is going through. A few weeks ago I caught Conor looking at a pornographic magazine under his desk.” Mrs. Kavinsky’s face grew wide with shock, and resembled an overweight deer. She clenched her palms in her lap tightly. Marilyn imagined them sweating. “Did you confiscate it?” She asked in a whisper, as if referring to the magazine at all was indecent. “Yes.” “May I see it?” “No, it’s in the principle’s office right now. That’s where we keep the contraband.” “Well, I would like to confront Conor about it. That is completely unacceptable.” Marilyn waited for Mrs. Kavinsky to be activated to move by sheer disgust and rage, but the plump woman remained in her seat, a seemingly permanent fixture in the chair. “I have another meeting in five minutes,” Marilyn lied. “Do you have any other questions?” “No.” Mrs. Kavinsky unclenched her hands and shifted in her chair. Something in her face changed then—perhaps her features softened, or the lighting in the room shifted—but Mrs. Kavinsky looked helpless, frumpy, and alone, and Marilyn pitied her. “Would you like a cup of coffee before you go?” Marilyn asked.

14


La Princesa

Marion Rosas

him against me.” Mrs. Kavinsky began sobbing into her hands. Marilyn didn’t know what to do. She wanted to kick Mrs. Kavinsky out of her classroom, but she didn’t have the heart. She reached for her cane and slowly stood up. She teetered over to Mrs. Kavinsky and placed a hand on her shoulder. Mrs. Kavinsky released her face from her hands and looked at Marilyn’s cane, dewy-eyed. “Are you married, Mrs. White?” Mrs. Kavinsky asked the cane. Her eyes rested on it as if it were a foreign object. “No” said Marilyn. She removed her hand from Mrs. Kavinsky’s arm. “Were you married once?” Mrs. Kavinsky looked up at her face this time, and Marilyn felt her notice her gray hair, her wrinkles. “No.” Marilyn wanted the woman out of her classroom immediately. She didn’t care that she was crying anymore. “I’m sorry. I’m sorry I asked,” said Mrs. Kavinsky.

13

“That’s alright,” said Marilyn. She walked back to her desk and sat down. “Anything else you’d like to know about your son?” “Does he hang out with a good crowd?” Marilyn did not understand the woman. She wondered what solace she found in crying in front of a stranger, and insisting on staying in a place where she was not wanted. She decided to toy with her. “He doesn’t really hang out with anyone,” she said. Mrs. Kavinsky’s face crinkled into a look of concern. “What? He doesn’t talk to anyone?” “Nope. He sits in the corner of the room and draws on his desk all period.” Marilyn leaned over the desk. She knew just the trick for getting the woman out of her classroom. “I didn’t want to tell you this, but I realized it might be important information considering what your family is going through. A few weeks ago I caught Conor looking at a pornographic magazine under his desk.” Mrs. Kavinsky’s face grew wide with shock, and resembled an overweight deer. She clenched her palms in her lap tightly. Marilyn imagined them sweating. “Did you confiscate it?” She asked in a whisper, as if referring to the magazine at all was indecent. “Yes.” “May I see it?” “No, it’s in the principle’s office right now. That’s where we keep the contraband.” “Well, I would like to confront Conor about it. That is completely unacceptable.” Marilyn waited for Mrs. Kavinsky to be activated to move by sheer disgust and rage, but the plump woman remained in her seat, a seemingly permanent fixture in the chair. “I have another meeting in five minutes,” Marilyn lied. “Do you have any other questions?” “No.” Mrs. Kavinsky unclenched her hands and shifted in her chair. Something in her face changed then—perhaps her features softened, or the lighting in the room shifted—but Mrs. Kavinsky looked helpless, frumpy, and alone, and Marilyn pitied her. “Would you like a cup of coffee before you go?” Marilyn asked.

14


Mrs. Kavinsky nodded. Marilyn got up and hobbled down to the teacher’s lounge to fetch her a cup. -- Marilyn made it home by seven o’clock. High tide had passed by then, and the sun had already gone down. Marilyn put on a sweater, made a cup of tea and sat out on the deck. The sky was clearer than usual, shimmering with stars. Marilyn loved watching the waves at night. To her, they moved like a giant hand, creeping up, reaching out, and slapping the ground. The sound they made was like white noise, drowning out the awful days she had. She used to love walking out on the beach at night, alone, looking for broken shells or sand dollars. Collecting these things reminded her of her childhood. Once, when she was young, she found the exoskeleton of a crab in the sand. She thought it looked like a boy gift, so she picked it up and took it to her father. He screamed like a girl when she laid it in his palm. She would never forget that sound, and the slimy feel of the exoskeleton. Marilyn saw two people out on the beach, walking where the dark sand met light. They were holding hands. Marilyn could not discern their age, but they looked relatively young. The girl bent down to pick up something, a shell or a piece of sea glass, maybe, and handed it to the boy. Marilyn felt tears in her eyes. She watched them walk across the beach until they became specks in the distance. She had loved a boy once, and they had walked along the same beach. She was twenty then, and studying marine biology in college. She remembered the crispness of her stride, the elegance of walking without a limp. As they walked, he told her about a dream he had. He met a young girl with long blonde hair on the boardwalk, and bought her an ice cream cone. He told Marilyn that he knew in the dream the girl was Marilyn’s daughter. She walked with the same grace, he said, and had the same long, elegant facial features. Marilyn smiled when he told her this, but inside she was panicked, frightened. She didn’t know what it was to love somebody, and she didn’t want to think about getting married and raising a family. Marilyn broke up with him six months later. He was sitting on the edge of her bed, hurt, confused. She told him she loved him once. He got up and walked out. He had wanted to marry her, and talked of their future

15

together. He would stay home and do laundry, cook, and raise the children while Marilyn was off forging her career. He would hold her every night, he said, and love her for the rest of his life. Marilyn never doubted that. She thought she could do better though. She saw her future as an academic, an intellectual—she imagined travelling to Europe after college, sleeping with French men, sipping wine and eventually going to graduate school. He was her first boyfriend, and the first person she slept with. She knew she wouldn’t marry the first person she slept with. Marilyn never went to Europe. After she graduated, she

The Doors in Budapest

Ella Anderson

16


Mrs. Kavinsky nodded. Marilyn got up and hobbled down to the teacher’s lounge to fetch her a cup. -- Marilyn made it home by seven o’clock. High tide had passed by then, and the sun had already gone down. Marilyn put on a sweater, made a cup of tea and sat out on the deck. The sky was clearer than usual, shimmering with stars. Marilyn loved watching the waves at night. To her, they moved like a giant hand, creeping up, reaching out, and slapping the ground. The sound they made was like white noise, drowning out the awful days she had. She used to love walking out on the beach at night, alone, looking for broken shells or sand dollars. Collecting these things reminded her of her childhood. Once, when she was young, she found the exoskeleton of a crab in the sand. She thought it looked like a boy gift, so she picked it up and took it to her father. He screamed like a girl when she laid it in his palm. She would never forget that sound, and the slimy feel of the exoskeleton. Marilyn saw two people out on the beach, walking where the dark sand met light. They were holding hands. Marilyn could not discern their age, but they looked relatively young. The girl bent down to pick up something, a shell or a piece of sea glass, maybe, and handed it to the boy. Marilyn felt tears in her eyes. She watched them walk across the beach until they became specks in the distance. She had loved a boy once, and they had walked along the same beach. She was twenty then, and studying marine biology in college. She remembered the crispness of her stride, the elegance of walking without a limp. As they walked, he told her about a dream he had. He met a young girl with long blonde hair on the boardwalk, and bought her an ice cream cone. He told Marilyn that he knew in the dream the girl was Marilyn’s daughter. She walked with the same grace, he said, and had the same long, elegant facial features. Marilyn smiled when he told her this, but inside she was panicked, frightened. She didn’t know what it was to love somebody, and she didn’t want to think about getting married and raising a family. Marilyn broke up with him six months later. He was sitting on the edge of her bed, hurt, confused. She told him she loved him once. He got up and walked out. He had wanted to marry her, and talked of their future

15

together. He would stay home and do laundry, cook, and raise the children while Marilyn was off forging her career. He would hold her every night, he said, and love her for the rest of his life. Marilyn never doubted that. She thought she could do better though. She saw her future as an academic, an intellectual—she imagined travelling to Europe after college, sleeping with French men, sipping wine and eventually going to graduate school. He was her first boyfriend, and the first person she slept with. She knew she wouldn’t marry the first person she slept with. Marilyn never went to Europe. After she graduated, she

The Doors in Budapest

Ella Anderson

16


went straight to graduate school in Los Angeles. There, she slept with many more men. Some of them told her they loved her, but she never felt the same way about them. She was diagnosed with MS at age twenty-eight. By then, the world already seemed like a limited place. Her grandfather had MS, and she knew what it entailed. As a child, she had watched his mind and body degenerate. First the cane, then the walker, and finally, the wheelchair. But there were other things to look forward to. Her grandfather could no longer drive because his motor skills had become so poor. He slept all day, watched television all night, and wet the bed once a week. Her grandmother took care of him, and Marilyn witnessed her difficult, restricted life. The strange thing was, she seemed to love him just the same. The day Marilyn was diagnosed she crept away from her family and into her bedroom. She crawled under the sheets of her bed and held her phone in her hands, staring at his number. She willed herself to dial it, and held her breath as it rang. She heard his voice on the second ring. “Hello?” “David?” She said. “It’s Marilyn.” There was a long pause. Marilyn was sobbing. She smothered the phone into the sheet so he couldn’t hear it. “Marilyn?” He was repeating. “Marilyn? I haven’t heard from you in forever. What’s wrong?” She calmed herself down and held the phone back to her ear. “I was just wondering how you’re doing,” she said. “I’m doing well. But your voice is shaking. What’s wrong?” Marilyn breathed in deeply, closed her eyes and hung up the phone. He had a wife, probably, and kids. Eight years was a long time. David sent her a card in the mail, telling her that he was concerned and that she should call him whenever she felt like it. She did, eventually, and they caught up like old friends. He did have a wife, and two children, a boy and a girl. She told him she had MS. He sent his condolences. They kept up a correspondence for a few years, but over time it faded away.

Marilyn was glad now that she hadn’t married him. If she had, she would likely not be where she was now, sitting on a deck overlooking the ocean, under a twinkling dark sky. Instead, she would probably be indoors somewhere, beside a fireplace, getting her foot rubbed by David and listening to the squealing joy of children playing. She would slowly degenerate into a motionless blob in front of her husband and children, and eventually ask them to take care of her. She didn’t want that; she knew she didn’t want that. She enjoyed her solitude. Marilyn finished her tea and began to shiver from a cold breeze. She picked up her cane and limped back into the house. Perhaps she would read some scientific journals on characteristics of the deepest oceanic bottom-dwellers, or create tomorrow’s lesson plan. •••

Mind-Meld

Eva Bertoglio

17

18


went straight to graduate school in Los Angeles. There, she slept with many more men. Some of them told her they loved her, but she never felt the same way about them. She was diagnosed with MS at age twenty-eight. By then, the world already seemed like a limited place. Her grandfather had MS, and she knew what it entailed. As a child, she had watched his mind and body degenerate. First the cane, then the walker, and finally, the wheelchair. But there were other things to look forward to. Her grandfather could no longer drive because his motor skills had become so poor. He slept all day, watched television all night, and wet the bed once a week. Her grandmother took care of him, and Marilyn witnessed her difficult, restricted life. The strange thing was, she seemed to love him just the same. The day Marilyn was diagnosed she crept away from her family and into her bedroom. She crawled under the sheets of her bed and held her phone in her hands, staring at his number. She willed herself to dial it, and held her breath as it rang. She heard his voice on the second ring. “Hello?” “David?” She said. “It’s Marilyn.” There was a long pause. Marilyn was sobbing. She smothered the phone into the sheet so he couldn’t hear it. “Marilyn?” He was repeating. “Marilyn? I haven’t heard from you in forever. What’s wrong?” She calmed herself down and held the phone back to her ear. “I was just wondering how you’re doing,” she said. “I’m doing well. But your voice is shaking. What’s wrong?” Marilyn breathed in deeply, closed her eyes and hung up the phone. He had a wife, probably, and kids. Eight years was a long time. David sent her a card in the mail, telling her that he was concerned and that she should call him whenever she felt like it. She did, eventually, and they caught up like old friends. He did have a wife, and two children, a boy and a girl. She told him she had MS. He sent his condolences. They kept up a correspondence for a few years, but over time it faded away.

Marilyn was glad now that she hadn’t married him. If she had, she would likely not be where she was now, sitting on a deck overlooking the ocean, under a twinkling dark sky. Instead, she would probably be indoors somewhere, beside a fireplace, getting her foot rubbed by David and listening to the squealing joy of children playing. She would slowly degenerate into a motionless blob in front of her husband and children, and eventually ask them to take care of her. She didn’t want that; she knew she didn’t want that. She enjoyed her solitude. Marilyn finished her tea and began to shiver from a cold breeze. She picked up her cane and limped back into the house. Perhaps she would read some scientific journals on characteristics of the deepest oceanic bottom-dwellers, or create tomorrow’s lesson plan. •••

Mind-Meld

Eva Bertoglio

17

18


When You Go Anna Tomlinson When you go, I will remain here, standing like a sentry to the sea, my bare feet carving puddles in the deep grit of the sand. When you go, I will watch the kelp sway and the red bulbous seaweed wash to shore, only to pull back in endless motion. Gray skies and silent estuaries will envelop me. There is enough life here to accept my emptied body and fill it with the promise of birth. Currents pull at my ankles and water fleas flock to my toes. The sea pleads with me to come, join the fluctuation of the waves, but my toes resist against the sand, the water makes rivulets around me and I do not abandon my post.

19

Zeph Schafer

20


When You Go Anna Tomlinson When you go, I will remain here, standing like a sentry to the sea, my bare feet carving puddles in the deep grit of the sand. When you go, I will watch the kelp sway and the red bulbous seaweed wash to shore, only to pull back in endless motion. Gray skies and silent estuaries will envelop me. There is enough life here to accept my emptied body and fill it with the promise of birth. Currents pull at my ankles and water fleas flock to my toes. The sea pleads with me to come, join the fluctuation of the waves, but my toes resist against the sand, the water makes rivulets around me and I do not abandon my post.

19

Zeph Schafer

20


Vertov, Hazanavicius, and Scorcese Marathon

Parliament

Eva Bertoglio I am the camera the filter the hand cranking I am the kino eye. The scrim rolls up, the lights go out Dark dimmed din. Audience breath, projector growl, Humming hawing huff. We can smell the curtain-dust, Wine-velvet tassles for the screen. Black and white, sepia, 3D Concurrently perceived, viewed separately They are all cut and intercut and spliced To make a whole. The score swells and seeps Into the ear’s pores, Color and shadow, Tinted and chiaroscuro, Fine frenzied feat.

Ella Anderson

21

Night nestled inside the cinema Watching with mum lips We glance at the negatives the images the sheer pictures. We create as we absorb and we edit to absolve. Credits Coda Action!

22


Vertov, Hazanavicius, and Scorcese Marathon

Parliament

Eva Bertoglio I am the camera the filter the hand cranking I am the kino eye. The scrim rolls up, the lights go out Dark dimmed din. Audience breath, projector growl, Humming hawing huff. We can smell the curtain-dust, Wine-velvet tassles for the screen. Black and white, sepia, 3D Concurrently perceived, viewed separately They are all cut and intercut and spliced To make a whole. The score swells and seeps Into the ear’s pores, Color and shadow, Tinted and chiaroscuro, Fine frenzied feat.

Ella Anderson

21

Night nestled inside the cinema Watching with mum lips We glance at the negatives the images the sheer pictures. We create as we absorb and we edit to absolve. Credits Coda Action!

22


Alia Mowery

Fluorescence Clayton Davis

“Here we are, Mr. Gaine, Viewing Room Forty-Eight.” The receptionist beckons Tim inside. The viewing room is in the same oddly futuristic style as the rest of the office he’s just been led through. The walls are smooth and white, with a plastic sheen over them. All the edges and corners are smoothed and polished, sleekly rounded. The wall opposite the door is a massive jet-black slab with the advertising-company’s logo glowing on it; it must be the viewing room’s television. A single white couch sits in the middle of the room with a table in front of it, the only pieces of furniture in the room. There are no windows. “Isn’t there supposed to be a group of people at these focus-group type of things?” Tim asks. “As I said, this is all part of our new initiative,” she responds, standing in the doorway. “You will be the only one here in this viewing room. Now if you would please just take your seat, Mr. Gaine, the program will begin automatically. Follow the on-screen instructions and you’ll be finished in no time at all.” “And then I get paid, right?” “Yes, as per the terms of this study, you’ll receive your $50 when the testing is over. And please, remember to carefully consider your feedback on each commercial. As a test viewer, your input matters greatly to us.” “Do you guys make these commercials?” “Some of them. We’re just as involved in general marketing research as we are in marketing. Now please, Mr. Gaine, if you would take a seat. I really must be going.” She pivots and walks away, her heels clicking down the hallway. The door shuts behind her.

23

Tim sits. The lights in the room, wherever they are, dim until he’s sitting in nearly total darkness. The logo on the screen is the only thing he can see now, colossal red letters casting a scarlet haze in the dark room. A countdown appears in the corner of the screen. 3. 2. 1. Searing white light pours out of the screen, brighter than should be possible. Swaths of white and blue fill his vision, and a deep rumbling sound overtakes him. The rumbling feels distant and powerful. Gentle vibrations are felt, growing steadily in power. A sickness overtakes his senses. Pangs of nausea. Sweat and dizziness. Disorientation. And as quickly as it came, the feeling was gone. As his vision clears, the blue and white colors on the screen grow more distinct, and he realizes he’s looking at a desert. The Utah Salt

24


Alia Mowery

Fluorescence Clayton Davis

“Here we are, Mr. Gaine, Viewing Room Forty-Eight.” The receptionist beckons Tim inside. The viewing room is in the same oddly futuristic style as the rest of the office he’s just been led through. The walls are smooth and white, with a plastic sheen over them. All the edges and corners are smoothed and polished, sleekly rounded. The wall opposite the door is a massive jet-black slab with the advertising-company’s logo glowing on it; it must be the viewing room’s television. A single white couch sits in the middle of the room with a table in front of it, the only pieces of furniture in the room. There are no windows. “Isn’t there supposed to be a group of people at these focus-group type of things?” Tim asks. “As I said, this is all part of our new initiative,” she responds, standing in the doorway. “You will be the only one here in this viewing room. Now if you would please just take your seat, Mr. Gaine, the program will begin automatically. Follow the on-screen instructions and you’ll be finished in no time at all.” “And then I get paid, right?” “Yes, as per the terms of this study, you’ll receive your $50 when the testing is over. And please, remember to carefully consider your feedback on each commercial. As a test viewer, your input matters greatly to us.” “Do you guys make these commercials?” “Some of them. We’re just as involved in general marketing research as we are in marketing. Now please, Mr. Gaine, if you would take a seat. I really must be going.” She pivots and walks away, her heels clicking down the hallway. The door shuts behind her.

23

Tim sits. The lights in the room, wherever they are, dim until he’s sitting in nearly total darkness. The logo on the screen is the only thing he can see now, colossal red letters casting a scarlet haze in the dark room. A countdown appears in the corner of the screen. 3. 2. 1. Searing white light pours out of the screen, brighter than should be possible. Swaths of white and blue fill his vision, and a deep rumbling sound overtakes him. The rumbling feels distant and powerful. Gentle vibrations are felt, growing steadily in power. A sickness overtakes his senses. Pangs of nausea. Sweat and dizziness. Disorientation. And as quickly as it came, the feeling was gone. As his vision clears, the blue and white colors on the screen grow more distinct, and he realizes he’s looking at a desert. The Utah Salt

24


Flats, shown from a camera near the ground. The deep humming sound, he realizes, is the engine of a car, somewhere off-screen and distant, but coming nearer. This must be a commercial. But why is it so loud and bright? A voice issues from the screen, a rich and deep baritone: “Not every truck is built with enough horsepower to haul 10 tons and still stop at a moment’s notice.” He recognizes the voice: it’s Morgan Freeman! “But then,” he continues as an immaculately-polished pick-up truck powerslides into frame with a train-car in tow, whiplashing around, “not every car is built Ford tough.” Freeman keeps talking, going on about pistons and horsepower and transmissions and other boring gearhead terms while the camera lovingly pans across the truck, going over its contours and curves, exploring the vehicle’s frame and form. “The all-new 2016 Ford Eagle has arrived, available now at your local Ford dealer,” Freeman intones as the screen fades to black with the Ford logo embossed on it. The viewing room is almost completely dark now, save for Ford logo on the screen, casting a blue and white spotlight into the darkness. Tim is transfixed, mesmerized by the incredible vividness of the color on the screen, focusing so deeply on it he almost forgets that the lights have turned back on. Breaking from his reverie, he notices a clipboard on the table in front of him. Was that clipboard there before? And does the room seem a little smaller than it was earlier? The Ford logo disappears as the screen fills with an instruction: WRITE. He picked up the clipboard and examines it: Describe how much you liked this commercial. Describe what you did not like in this commercial. How much horsepower does the 2016 Ford Eagle have? What award-winning braking system is used in the 2016 Ford Eagle? And so on, asking his opinions on the format, style, and presentation of the ad, as well as asking for random trivia, probably to test how well viewers recall what’s on the ad, he thought to himself, feeling intelligent and wise as he picked apart the ad’s obvious motives. He filled out the questionnaire in about five minutes. Immediately upon filling in his last period mark, a new onscreen prompt appeared. SET DOWN THE CLIPBOARD. He does. The room goes dark again. The screen flares to life and sound fills the room. Tim’s

25

senses are overwhelmed again by the sudden transitions. Vague, blurred colors flicker across the screen, changing and transitioning quickly. A cacophony of percussive clattering and high-pitched buzzing wails throughout the viewing room. Again, he feels nauseous and weak, but too dazed to move. Again, the sounds and colors coalesce into a commercial. An animated bear is walking into kitchens where sullen and tired people dressed for work sat glumly at their table, frowning towards a bowl of oatmeal. “Feeling down?” A perky female narrator asks. The bear, smiling warmly and in an un-bearlike fashion, is pouring coffee into their empty mugs. Penciled-in smoke lines waft from the rim of the mug, emphasizing its warmth and aroma. The people each take a sip and grin. “Start your day right with Folio Coffee. We use only the best, naturally-grown coffee beans for the rich taste and strong brew that you deserve. Folio: because you’ve earned it!” The Folio logo, featuring a giant brown bear (an actual bear, though, instead of the creepy cartoon barista from earlier). The lights come on, and a new clipboard is waiting on the table for him. How’d they do that? WRITE. He does. Again he dutifully fills out the form, checking boxes and answering questions with as much detail as the short lines afford. He sets down the clipboard, the lights go off, and another advertisement airs. For what seems like hours, this process repeats itself: the lights off, panic attack, commercial, lights on, WRITE, repeat. Tim watches ads for cigarettes, beer, a video game, and a minivan. How much longer is this supposed to go for, anyway, he wonders. And does the room keep getting smaller? He watches ads for basketball shoes, suits, ties, jeans, and detergent. Tim resolves to never pay attention to an advertisement again if he can help it. The monotony of the routine is crushing. Darkness, disorientation, commercial, lights on, WRITE, repeat. After writing a summary for a Staples commercial, Tim sets down the clipboard and sinks back into the couch, waiting for the next ad. Instead, the screen fills with a new instruction. SLEEP. What? He puzzles over the command, trying to think of what it means. You know what it is, he thought to himself, comforted by his intelligent reasoning, it’s probably going into sleep

26


Flats, shown from a camera near the ground. The deep humming sound, he realizes, is the engine of a car, somewhere off-screen and distant, but coming nearer. This must be a commercial. But why is it so loud and bright? A voice issues from the screen, a rich and deep baritone: “Not every truck is built with enough horsepower to haul 10 tons and still stop at a moment’s notice.” He recognizes the voice: it’s Morgan Freeman! “But then,” he continues as an immaculately-polished pick-up truck powerslides into frame with a train-car in tow, whiplashing around, “not every car is built Ford tough.” Freeman keeps talking, going on about pistons and horsepower and transmissions and other boring gearhead terms while the camera lovingly pans across the truck, going over its contours and curves, exploring the vehicle’s frame and form. “The all-new 2016 Ford Eagle has arrived, available now at your local Ford dealer,” Freeman intones as the screen fades to black with the Ford logo embossed on it. The viewing room is almost completely dark now, save for Ford logo on the screen, casting a blue and white spotlight into the darkness. Tim is transfixed, mesmerized by the incredible vividness of the color on the screen, focusing so deeply on it he almost forgets that the lights have turned back on. Breaking from his reverie, he notices a clipboard on the table in front of him. Was that clipboard there before? And does the room seem a little smaller than it was earlier? The Ford logo disappears as the screen fills with an instruction: WRITE. He picked up the clipboard and examines it: Describe how much you liked this commercial. Describe what you did not like in this commercial. How much horsepower does the 2016 Ford Eagle have? What award-winning braking system is used in the 2016 Ford Eagle? And so on, asking his opinions on the format, style, and presentation of the ad, as well as asking for random trivia, probably to test how well viewers recall what’s on the ad, he thought to himself, feeling intelligent and wise as he picked apart the ad’s obvious motives. He filled out the questionnaire in about five minutes. Immediately upon filling in his last period mark, a new onscreen prompt appeared. SET DOWN THE CLIPBOARD. He does. The room goes dark again. The screen flares to life and sound fills the room. Tim’s

25

senses are overwhelmed again by the sudden transitions. Vague, blurred colors flicker across the screen, changing and transitioning quickly. A cacophony of percussive clattering and high-pitched buzzing wails throughout the viewing room. Again, he feels nauseous and weak, but too dazed to move. Again, the sounds and colors coalesce into a commercial. An animated bear is walking into kitchens where sullen and tired people dressed for work sat glumly at their table, frowning towards a bowl of oatmeal. “Feeling down?” A perky female narrator asks. The bear, smiling warmly and in an un-bearlike fashion, is pouring coffee into their empty mugs. Penciled-in smoke lines waft from the rim of the mug, emphasizing its warmth and aroma. The people each take a sip and grin. “Start your day right with Folio Coffee. We use only the best, naturally-grown coffee beans for the rich taste and strong brew that you deserve. Folio: because you’ve earned it!” The Folio logo, featuring a giant brown bear (an actual bear, though, instead of the creepy cartoon barista from earlier). The lights come on, and a new clipboard is waiting on the table for him. How’d they do that? WRITE. He does. Again he dutifully fills out the form, checking boxes and answering questions with as much detail as the short lines afford. He sets down the clipboard, the lights go off, and another advertisement airs. For what seems like hours, this process repeats itself: the lights off, panic attack, commercial, lights on, WRITE, repeat. Tim watches ads for cigarettes, beer, a video game, and a minivan. How much longer is this supposed to go for, anyway, he wonders. And does the room keep getting smaller? He watches ads for basketball shoes, suits, ties, jeans, and detergent. Tim resolves to never pay attention to an advertisement again if he can help it. The monotony of the routine is crushing. Darkness, disorientation, commercial, lights on, WRITE, repeat. After writing a summary for a Staples commercial, Tim sets down the clipboard and sinks back into the couch, waiting for the next ad. Instead, the screen fills with a new instruction. SLEEP. What? He puzzles over the command, trying to think of what it means. You know what it is, he thought to himself, comforted by his intelligent reasoning, it’s probably going into sleep

26


mode or something. No big deal, it’s probably just the end of the survey, he reckons. He rises from the couch and turns to face the door. The door is gone. There’s nothing there but smooth, polished, wall. What the fuck? He knocks nervously at the spot where he thinks the door was. “Hello? Hello? I think there’s something wrong with this room or something. Anybody there?” No response. He leans his ear against the wall, hoping to hear something, anything on the other side. He checks his phone; no signal. And, he notices, glancing at the time, it’s 21:00. He’s been here for seven hours? Didn’t the secretary say it would take two? He knocks harder on the door, trying to make noise and be noticed. “Hello? What the fuck is going on here? Where is the goddamned door, and where is everybody?” No response. He slams the wall with all his strength, panicked and furious in equal measure. He keeps at it for several minutes. He’s screaming his lungs out now, obscenities pouring forth. “When I get out of here, I’m suing you fucks for everything you’re worth! Fuck you!” he shouts toward the ceiling, repeating that last phrase with force and menace for several minutes. He grabs the clipboard, still sitting on the table, tears up his response, and hurls the clipboard against the screen. It doesn’t even make a scratch, bouncing harmlessly off. The screen still has the same order. SLEEP. The lights go out. Tim paces in the dark for an hour, then takes a seat on the couch and checks the time. He’s been shouting and swearing and pacing for two hours, but it’s only felt like ten minutes. Still seething and furious, he tries to relax, taking deep breaths. I am in control of this situation, he tells himself. The lights are starting to go dim. “Everything will be OK,” he mutters. After a few more hours, he sobs himself to sleep on the couch. As he slips into unconsciousness, the screen flickers briefly and then goes dark. The first thing Tim notices is the smell. Soup. Chicken noodle soup. He opens his eyes and finds himself lying on the same couch, in the same room. It feels smaller. Sitting on the table in front of him is a bowl of soup, a loaf of bread, a glass of milk, and assorted fruits. Without thinking he bolts upright and eats the entire meal. He hasn’t had anything to eat since lunch

27

Organic Image

Erica Leishman

yesterday. After the food is finished, Tim moves from the couch, and checks the walls again, looking for evidence of a door or exit. Running his hands along the wall opposite the screen, his fingers feel a break in the smoothness of the wall. It’s a handle! For a door! He pulls on the handle, and a door, disguised to blend with the wall, opens. An exit! Of course, Tim knew later, he shouldn’t have gotten his hopes up about it, and should’ve known it wouldn’t be that easy. For the next hour or so he was raging again, hurling his empty plates at the walls and unleashing more obscenities, but somewhere below the fury, his more pragmatic side was at least glad that he’d found a bathroom.

28


mode or something. No big deal, it’s probably just the end of the survey, he reckons. He rises from the couch and turns to face the door. The door is gone. There’s nothing there but smooth, polished, wall. What the fuck? He knocks nervously at the spot where he thinks the door was. “Hello? Hello? I think there’s something wrong with this room or something. Anybody there?” No response. He leans his ear against the wall, hoping to hear something, anything on the other side. He checks his phone; no signal. And, he notices, glancing at the time, it’s 21:00. He’s been here for seven hours? Didn’t the secretary say it would take two? He knocks harder on the door, trying to make noise and be noticed. “Hello? What the fuck is going on here? Where is the goddamned door, and where is everybody?” No response. He slams the wall with all his strength, panicked and furious in equal measure. He keeps at it for several minutes. He’s screaming his lungs out now, obscenities pouring forth. “When I get out of here, I’m suing you fucks for everything you’re worth! Fuck you!” he shouts toward the ceiling, repeating that last phrase with force and menace for several minutes. He grabs the clipboard, still sitting on the table, tears up his response, and hurls the clipboard against the screen. It doesn’t even make a scratch, bouncing harmlessly off. The screen still has the same order. SLEEP. The lights go out. Tim paces in the dark for an hour, then takes a seat on the couch and checks the time. He’s been shouting and swearing and pacing for two hours, but it’s only felt like ten minutes. Still seething and furious, he tries to relax, taking deep breaths. I am in control of this situation, he tells himself. The lights are starting to go dim. “Everything will be OK,” he mutters. After a few more hours, he sobs himself to sleep on the couch. As he slips into unconsciousness, the screen flickers briefly and then goes dark. The first thing Tim notices is the smell. Soup. Chicken noodle soup. He opens his eyes and finds himself lying on the same couch, in the same room. It feels smaller. Sitting on the table in front of him is a bowl of soup, a loaf of bread, a glass of milk, and assorted fruits. Without thinking he bolts upright and eats the entire meal. He hasn’t had anything to eat since lunch

27

Organic Image

Erica Leishman

yesterday. After the food is finished, Tim moves from the couch, and checks the walls again, looking for evidence of a door or exit. Running his hands along the wall opposite the screen, his fingers feel a break in the smoothness of the wall. It’s a handle! For a door! He pulls on the handle, and a door, disguised to blend with the wall, opens. An exit! Of course, Tim knew later, he shouldn’t have gotten his hopes up about it, and should’ve known it wouldn’t be that easy. For the next hour or so he was raging again, hurling his empty plates at the walls and unleashing more obscenities, but somewhere below the fury, his more pragmatic side was at least glad that he’d found a bathroom.

28


Jordan Wilkie

It was about two hours after he’d woken up that the screen flickered to life again, displaying a command. SIT. He did, grudgingly. The lights went out, and he had another panic attack as a paper towel ad initially struck him as an apocalyptic torrent of fluorescence, color, and sound. Then his senses settled, he watched the rest of the commercial, the lights turned on, and a clipboard was waiting. Describe what you liked about this commercial. Fuck you. Describe what you did not like about this commercial. Fuck you. And so on throughout the form, and in the margins, and between the lines, and backwards, and upside-down, and in

29

word-jumble, on a dozen other forms he was given to fill out as he watched more commercials. Saying it felt good. Writing it was cathartic. It became his mantra, his words of power, gaining strength and clarity through sheer repetition. Fuck you. He mumbled it to himself as the commercials played, inaudible in the face of the commercial’s sheer volume, relying on muscle memory. Days passed. The commercials kept playing, and Tim kept reciting. Every day was like the last, with the smell of soup and ending with a SLEEP command. And he kept reciting fuck you, as more days passed. He played with the phrase, stressing it differently, toying with volume and pitch. Through repetition, the phrase lost all meaning, becoming abstract and worthless, nonsense syllables. And then, like the tide flowing back in, it gained even more meaning, becoming his last and best defense against the skull-crushing boredom and the absolute unfairness of his situation. He had to stop writing it down after they stopped sending him food. His two meals a day were pared down to a single bowl of cheap alphabet soup, the letters in it arranged by them to spell out a message. BE CONSTRUCTIVE IN YOUR CRITICISM. He dumped the soup onto the floor. He kept reciting, and writing his prayer down every time he got a clipboard. They stopped airing new commercials, rehashing the old ones that he’d offered no constructive criticism on. He dumped his soup out again the next day, and the day after that, huddled on his couch and fervently reciting his prayer. On the fourth day of his hunger strike, (How many days had it been? He couldn’t remember, and his phone had died long ago) he broke down and ate the soup, but refused to write anything on the clipboard. He still recited his mantra, raising his voice to hear himself over the noise of the commercials. After a few more days of this, they caught on and stopped sending him any food. Having had nothing but alphabet soup and water for a week, Tim was too exhausted and hungry to last more than a day. Dazed and weak from hunger, he sat hunched on the couch, eyes transfixed on the swirling fluorescent colors and patterns of a laptop commercial, too weak to look away or move from his position, but still strong enough to keep mumbling his mantra. The ad showed an assembly line manufacturing Dell

30


Jordan Wilkie

It was about two hours after he’d woken up that the screen flickered to life again, displaying a command. SIT. He did, grudgingly. The lights went out, and he had another panic attack as a paper towel ad initially struck him as an apocalyptic torrent of fluorescence, color, and sound. Then his senses settled, he watched the rest of the commercial, the lights turned on, and a clipboard was waiting. Describe what you liked about this commercial. Fuck you. Describe what you did not like about this commercial. Fuck you. And so on throughout the form, and in the margins, and between the lines, and backwards, and upside-down, and in

29

word-jumble, on a dozen other forms he was given to fill out as he watched more commercials. Saying it felt good. Writing it was cathartic. It became his mantra, his words of power, gaining strength and clarity through sheer repetition. Fuck you. He mumbled it to himself as the commercials played, inaudible in the face of the commercial’s sheer volume, relying on muscle memory. Days passed. The commercials kept playing, and Tim kept reciting. Every day was like the last, with the smell of soup and ending with a SLEEP command. And he kept reciting fuck you, as more days passed. He played with the phrase, stressing it differently, toying with volume and pitch. Through repetition, the phrase lost all meaning, becoming abstract and worthless, nonsense syllables. And then, like the tide flowing back in, it gained even more meaning, becoming his last and best defense against the skull-crushing boredom and the absolute unfairness of his situation. He had to stop writing it down after they stopped sending him food. His two meals a day were pared down to a single bowl of cheap alphabet soup, the letters in it arranged by them to spell out a message. BE CONSTRUCTIVE IN YOUR CRITICISM. He dumped the soup onto the floor. He kept reciting, and writing his prayer down every time he got a clipboard. They stopped airing new commercials, rehashing the old ones that he’d offered no constructive criticism on. He dumped his soup out again the next day, and the day after that, huddled on his couch and fervently reciting his prayer. On the fourth day of his hunger strike, (How many days had it been? He couldn’t remember, and his phone had died long ago) he broke down and ate the soup, but refused to write anything on the clipboard. He still recited his mantra, raising his voice to hear himself over the noise of the commercials. After a few more days of this, they caught on and stopped sending him any food. Having had nothing but alphabet soup and water for a week, Tim was too exhausted and hungry to last more than a day. Dazed and weak from hunger, he sat hunched on the couch, eyes transfixed on the swirling fluorescent colors and patterns of a laptop commercial, too weak to look away or move from his position, but still strong enough to keep mumbling his mantra. The ad showed an assembly line manufacturing Dell

30


laptops. It was very Jetsons-like in its retro-future kitsch; smiling robots, sprightly and cool electronic music, workers with jetpacks. They were still repeating the ads he’d left no input on, so he must’ve seen this clip two dozen times, but he’s never paid any attention to it until now. It’s very pleasant. More than that, he thinks; it’s hypnotic. The camera work feels so rhythmic, perfectly

in sync with the action onscreen. The whole sequence is vivacious and bracing, infectiously fun. He feels happy, pleased by the vivid, kaleidoscopic colors and upbeat music. Why has he been ignoring this for so long? The lights come on, and the clipboard is sitting on the table. The room is quiet, more silent than it’s been in a week. Tim realizes he’s stopped muttering. WRITE. He does. The next morning, they send him an entire pizza. Time passes. The commercials, once so harsh and bright on the screen, are pleasant and comforting to him now. He watches all kinds of ads: deodorant, soap, wristwatches, televisions, movies, TV shows, running shoes, toasters, everything. It’s all on TV. He bathes in the warm glow of the screen now, lovingly enveloped in its fluorescent brightness. Every story ends happily, or with a punch-line and a laugh. Tim tells the season by what he’s watching; the last Christmas ad was a few weeks ago, but Valentine’s Day ads haven’t aired yet, so it must be mid-January. The Christmas commercials were on for the longest time! And they all had such poor editing, working too hard to push a clichéd and hackneyed message with no consideration for proper production values. Had the producers paid no attention to the Halloween commercials? He’s really looking forward to some saucy Valentine’s Day ads after two months of sexless Christmas ads, although after that L’Oreal shampoo commercial debacle, he’s learned to internalize his excitement about such revealing commercials. He’s getting pretty proud of his critical work. After watching an ad just a few times, he can write essays about the form, content, and presentation of an ad, scrawling several pages’ worth of thoughts on how to properly aestheticize a subject and make it appealing. He feels intelligent when he analyzes an ad, probing its weaknesses and faults, and his cleverness makes him feel pleased. They must be pleased with him, too; not long after they sent the pizza, they sent him a brand-new track suit. He loved it; its brilliantly-orange color and incredible comfort made him happy. Every other day, they’d send him a new one in a different color and wash the old one, all while he slept. One morning, he

31

A Variety of Bottles

Marion Rosas

32


laptops. It was very Jetsons-like in its retro-future kitsch; smiling robots, sprightly and cool electronic music, workers with jetpacks. They were still repeating the ads he’d left no input on, so he must’ve seen this clip two dozen times, but he’s never paid any attention to it until now. It’s very pleasant. More than that, he thinks; it’s hypnotic. The camera work feels so rhythmic, perfectly

in sync with the action onscreen. The whole sequence is vivacious and bracing, infectiously fun. He feels happy, pleased by the vivid, kaleidoscopic colors and upbeat music. Why has he been ignoring this for so long? The lights come on, and the clipboard is sitting on the table. The room is quiet, more silent than it’s been in a week. Tim realizes he’s stopped muttering. WRITE. He does. The next morning, they send him an entire pizza. Time passes. The commercials, once so harsh and bright on the screen, are pleasant and comforting to him now. He watches all kinds of ads: deodorant, soap, wristwatches, televisions, movies, TV shows, running shoes, toasters, everything. It’s all on TV. He bathes in the warm glow of the screen now, lovingly enveloped in its fluorescent brightness. Every story ends happily, or with a punch-line and a laugh. Tim tells the season by what he’s watching; the last Christmas ad was a few weeks ago, but Valentine’s Day ads haven’t aired yet, so it must be mid-January. The Christmas commercials were on for the longest time! And they all had such poor editing, working too hard to push a clichéd and hackneyed message with no consideration for proper production values. Had the producers paid no attention to the Halloween commercials? He’s really looking forward to some saucy Valentine’s Day ads after two months of sexless Christmas ads, although after that L’Oreal shampoo commercial debacle, he’s learned to internalize his excitement about such revealing commercials. He’s getting pretty proud of his critical work. After watching an ad just a few times, he can write essays about the form, content, and presentation of an ad, scrawling several pages’ worth of thoughts on how to properly aestheticize a subject and make it appealing. He feels intelligent when he analyzes an ad, probing its weaknesses and faults, and his cleverness makes him feel pleased. They must be pleased with him, too; not long after they sent the pizza, they sent him a brand-new track suit. He loved it; its brilliantly-orange color and incredible comfort made him happy. Every other day, they’d send him a new one in a different color and wash the old one, all while he slept. One morning, he

31

A Variety of Bottles

Marion Rosas

32


Zeph Schafer

woke up and found that they’d given him a treadmill. He started exercising every day, walking four miles before he started writing. Some days, after really good write-ups, they even open a window for a few hours, and he looks out the window at the city skyline, basking in the warm radiation of the sun, completely and utterly content. What is there to complain about? He has sunshine, entertainment, a comfortable couch, free room and board, eats well, exercises daily, loves his job, never gets rejected, and never gets sick. Nobody can bother him in here. Nothing ever hurts. Every once in a while, though, as he sits gazing at the screen, bathed in its hypnotic fluorescent glow, as he watches people talking, and laughing together, and hanging out, and arguing, and loving, and as he writes his notes, an almost imperceptible feeling wells up deep in the back of his mind, an all-consuming rage and hatred, an overwhelming desire to commit atrocious acts of violence and destruction. But as quickly as it comes, the feeling passes, and Tim gets back to watching the commercial. •••

Addiction Anonymous The rich old horn-dog said, “I’ll make love ‘till my heart stops.” The trophy wife thought I’ll fuck you until it does. The corpse’s rigid weight trapped her until the maids came on Monday. She donated her prize money and resorted to poisoning the next one.

33

34


Zeph Schafer

woke up and found that they’d given him a treadmill. He started exercising every day, walking four miles before he started writing. Some days, after really good write-ups, they even open a window for a few hours, and he looks out the window at the city skyline, basking in the warm radiation of the sun, completely and utterly content. What is there to complain about? He has sunshine, entertainment, a comfortable couch, free room and board, eats well, exercises daily, loves his job, never gets rejected, and never gets sick. Nobody can bother him in here. Nothing ever hurts. Every once in a while, though, as he sits gazing at the screen, bathed in its hypnotic fluorescent glow, as he watches people talking, and laughing together, and hanging out, and arguing, and loving, and as he writes his notes, an almost imperceptible feeling wells up deep in the back of his mind, an all-consuming rage and hatred, an overwhelming desire to commit atrocious acts of violence and destruction. But as quickly as it comes, the feeling passes, and Tim gets back to watching the commercial. •••

Addiction Anonymous The rich old horn-dog said, “I’ll make love ‘till my heart stops.” The trophy wife thought I’ll fuck you until it does. The corpse’s rigid weight trapped her until the maids came on Monday. She donated her prize money and resorted to poisoning the next one.

33

34


Drunk Cooking You Cannot See Me

McKenna Marsden

Marion Rosas

35

Rachel’s former boyfriend Mike had said to her once, about her drinking-while-cooking thing, “If you’re going to drink excessively, could you at least not use knives when you do?” She hadn’t been sure whether “drink excessively” meant just at that moment, which to be fair was a pretty accurate assessment, or like, your excessive drinking habit. She didn’t have an excessive drinking habit. She just liked to drink before cooking big ambitious things, because otherwise she lost enthusiasm after the first couple steps and stopped and wasted a bunch of ingredients—really, the drinking-while-cooking thing was a sign of some selfknowledge, knowing her limitations. She didn’t even cook big ambitious things that often. And besides, she could do whatever the hell she wanted. The thing though was to be careful about the chili peppers. She would not touch her eyes. She would not do it. She called to mind as vividly as she could the last time she had done that and allowed the memory to motivate her not to forget about not touching her eyes. She flicked out the little seeds that were sticking to the inside with the tip of the knife but then couldn’t see where they went. She stepped back to look, but realized she was not going to be able to see them on the dirty kitchen floor. She would clean it tomorrow. After she finished with the chilies she would start the onions cooking. And the lentils. Lentils take a while. They also sink. This is a fact about lentils. After the “excessive drinking” comment Mike had said he was just concerned about her taking off a finger, to cover himself. She said aloud, “Stupid judgmental Mike. It’s not like I’m doing anything to you.” That was a sort of silly thing to say out loud like that, because she hadn’t spoken to Mike in four months, but she lived alone and she could to talk to her herself if she wanted, to whomever she wanted. She could do whatever the hell she wanted. Drink a bunch of rum and ginger ale. Talk to herself. Make fancy spicy soup on an unremarkable Tuesday. Maybe this weekend she

36


Drunk Cooking You Cannot See Me

McKenna Marsden

Marion Rosas

35

Rachel’s former boyfriend Mike had said to her once, about her drinking-while-cooking thing, “If you’re going to drink excessively, could you at least not use knives when you do?” She hadn’t been sure whether “drink excessively” meant just at that moment, which to be fair was a pretty accurate assessment, or like, your excessive drinking habit. She didn’t have an excessive drinking habit. She just liked to drink before cooking big ambitious things, because otherwise she lost enthusiasm after the first couple steps and stopped and wasted a bunch of ingredients—really, the drinking-while-cooking thing was a sign of some selfknowledge, knowing her limitations. She didn’t even cook big ambitious things that often. And besides, she could do whatever the hell she wanted. The thing though was to be careful about the chili peppers. She would not touch her eyes. She would not do it. She called to mind as vividly as she could the last time she had done that and allowed the memory to motivate her not to forget about not touching her eyes. She flicked out the little seeds that were sticking to the inside with the tip of the knife but then couldn’t see where they went. She stepped back to look, but realized she was not going to be able to see them on the dirty kitchen floor. She would clean it tomorrow. After she finished with the chilies she would start the onions cooking. And the lentils. Lentils take a while. They also sink. This is a fact about lentils. After the “excessive drinking” comment Mike had said he was just concerned about her taking off a finger, to cover himself. She said aloud, “Stupid judgmental Mike. It’s not like I’m doing anything to you.” That was a sort of silly thing to say out loud like that, because she hadn’t spoken to Mike in four months, but she lived alone and she could to talk to her herself if she wanted, to whomever she wanted. She could do whatever the hell she wanted. Drink a bunch of rum and ginger ale. Talk to herself. Make fancy spicy soup on an unremarkable Tuesday. Maybe this weekend she

36


would take the long bus ride to the animal shelter and adopt a cat. She would find the ugliest one there, and have her nice little apartment with her ugly cat. She would name it Mycroft. She took a drink from her glass and looked at the recipe she’d printed off from the internet. Lentils. Right. Lentils sink. It’s OK to think stupid things like that because who’s watching, anyway. She opened the cupboard and ruffled through all the different bulk bags of flours and rices and beans and things until she found the lentils. But the water needed to be boiling first. She shut the cupboard and filled a sauce pan half-full of water and turned on the heat. So before putting in the lentils she would chop the onions. Right. Good. She chopped the onion in half and fumbled at the skin until it peeled away. Maybe no ugly cat, actually. Cats got little hairs all over your clothes and scratched and were generally a nuisance. She had to do something this weekend, though. Something that felt permanent. The inner layers of the onion slipped out as she started cutting another slice so she tried to put them back in, but they wouldn’t fit right and the onion was all mangled now. She took another drink. So what. BFD. It would end up all chopped up and cooked down anyway. An onion is a tuber, she thinks. Which are like love-handles for plants. Maybe she’ll go get a tattoo this weekend. That would be permanent. She could pull off a tattoo, and if she couldn’t, who cared? She could regret it forever. That might be fun. She hadn’t done a lot of things she would regret forever that could be shown to anyone else. Most of her regrets, she thought, were sort of vague things she didn’t do, and couldn’t really be explained even if someone cared to hear, invisible, nothing like a big permanent splotch of ink on her body. She measured out the lentils and covered the pot and looked at the clock. It was now 6:33. They would be done at 6:53. All right. A tattoo, then. More vegetables to chop. Check the recipe. Check it again. Take another drink. These things are in the crisper drawer. The first thing she saw on opening the refrigerator was the 2-liter of Safeway brand ginger ale, though, which made her think she might “refresh” her drink, as they say. She poured herself some more ginger ale and found the rum bottle—which she’d put behind the toaster, for some strange reason—and poured in a little more than she meant to. She took a few sips. That was nice. Right. Other vegetables. Crisper drawer. Which ones again?

37

Check the recipe. I already got the onions and the lentils and the chili and garlic. Carrots. Are there carrots in this? Do I like carrots? I guess there are carrots. And celery. Will anyone ever actually see my tattoo? There wasn’t room on the cutting board, so she turned the heat on under the big sauce pan and poured some oil in and threw in the onion, even though really she should have waited for the oil to get hot, but what the hell. She started chopping carrots. Did not liking carrots mean she should chop them into bigger or small pieces? It occurred to her vaguely that she had wondered this before. She decided on bigger—fewer of them. If she got a tattoo she would also have to get clothes that would make it visible. She wanted it on her shoulder, where she wouldn’t see it very often. The idea of having it somewhere she would have to look at it every day, altering what she saw in the mirror, was further than she wanted to go. So clothes that would expose her shoulders. That might make her look more attractive, too. Maybe she could become a mysterious attractive girl with a tattoo, and everyone would think she was really interesting, and she would be able to be as involved or un-involved with them as she felt like. The onions started to sizzle behind her so she checked the heat, turned it to medium, and stirred them around a little. Might as well throw in the garlic and chili too. She scooped them up on the side of the knife, but a lot just fell into her hand, and some fell on the floor, and she just tossed in what got in. She would clean the floor later. She resumed chopping carrots. She stopped to take another drink. She started chopping celery. And she wouldn’t end up feeling trapped by anybody, and wouldn’t have to just stop returning their calls one day for no reason at all after six months together—or she could do that without the sick guilty feeling she had every time she’d seen Mike’s number come up on her phone and clicked “Ignore.” It had felt that way at first. But she just deleted his emails and stopped walking by his favorite café, soon enough it was like it never happened, any of it, like he might have never even existed. Invisible regrets. It only came back now like a floater in the edges of her vision that would flash away as soon as she moved her eye to look. Her knife slipped and her pile of celery plopped into the sink, in and around the dirty dishes. She groaned, aloud. Go stir the onions. Check the time first. 6:57—and when did I put

38


would take the long bus ride to the animal shelter and adopt a cat. She would find the ugliest one there, and have her nice little apartment with her ugly cat. She would name it Mycroft. She took a drink from her glass and looked at the recipe she’d printed off from the internet. Lentils. Right. Lentils sink. It’s OK to think stupid things like that because who’s watching, anyway. She opened the cupboard and ruffled through all the different bulk bags of flours and rices and beans and things until she found the lentils. But the water needed to be boiling first. She shut the cupboard and filled a sauce pan half-full of water and turned on the heat. So before putting in the lentils she would chop the onions. Right. Good. She chopped the onion in half and fumbled at the skin until it peeled away. Maybe no ugly cat, actually. Cats got little hairs all over your clothes and scratched and were generally a nuisance. She had to do something this weekend, though. Something that felt permanent. The inner layers of the onion slipped out as she started cutting another slice so she tried to put them back in, but they wouldn’t fit right and the onion was all mangled now. She took another drink. So what. BFD. It would end up all chopped up and cooked down anyway. An onion is a tuber, she thinks. Which are like love-handles for plants. Maybe she’ll go get a tattoo this weekend. That would be permanent. She could pull off a tattoo, and if she couldn’t, who cared? She could regret it forever. That might be fun. She hadn’t done a lot of things she would regret forever that could be shown to anyone else. Most of her regrets, she thought, were sort of vague things she didn’t do, and couldn’t really be explained even if someone cared to hear, invisible, nothing like a big permanent splotch of ink on her body. She measured out the lentils and covered the pot and looked at the clock. It was now 6:33. They would be done at 6:53. All right. A tattoo, then. More vegetables to chop. Check the recipe. Check it again. Take another drink. These things are in the crisper drawer. The first thing she saw on opening the refrigerator was the 2-liter of Safeway brand ginger ale, though, which made her think she might “refresh” her drink, as they say. She poured herself some more ginger ale and found the rum bottle—which she’d put behind the toaster, for some strange reason—and poured in a little more than she meant to. She took a few sips. That was nice. Right. Other vegetables. Crisper drawer. Which ones again?

37

Check the recipe. I already got the onions and the lentils and the chili and garlic. Carrots. Are there carrots in this? Do I like carrots? I guess there are carrots. And celery. Will anyone ever actually see my tattoo? There wasn’t room on the cutting board, so she turned the heat on under the big sauce pan and poured some oil in and threw in the onion, even though really she should have waited for the oil to get hot, but what the hell. She started chopping carrots. Did not liking carrots mean she should chop them into bigger or small pieces? It occurred to her vaguely that she had wondered this before. She decided on bigger—fewer of them. If she got a tattoo she would also have to get clothes that would make it visible. She wanted it on her shoulder, where she wouldn’t see it very often. The idea of having it somewhere she would have to look at it every day, altering what she saw in the mirror, was further than she wanted to go. So clothes that would expose her shoulders. That might make her look more attractive, too. Maybe she could become a mysterious attractive girl with a tattoo, and everyone would think she was really interesting, and she would be able to be as involved or un-involved with them as she felt like. The onions started to sizzle behind her so she checked the heat, turned it to medium, and stirred them around a little. Might as well throw in the garlic and chili too. She scooped them up on the side of the knife, but a lot just fell into her hand, and some fell on the floor, and she just tossed in what got in. She would clean the floor later. She resumed chopping carrots. She stopped to take another drink. She started chopping celery. And she wouldn’t end up feeling trapped by anybody, and wouldn’t have to just stop returning their calls one day for no reason at all after six months together—or she could do that without the sick guilty feeling she had every time she’d seen Mike’s number come up on her phone and clicked “Ignore.” It had felt that way at first. But she just deleted his emails and stopped walking by his favorite café, soon enough it was like it never happened, any of it, like he might have never even existed. Invisible regrets. It only came back now like a floater in the edges of her vision that would flash away as soon as she moved her eye to look. Her knife slipped and her pile of celery plopped into the sink, in and around the dirty dishes. She groaned, aloud. Go stir the onions. Check the time first. 6:57—and when did I put

38


the lentils on? I think they’re done. I’ll check in a second. First I’m stirring the onions. They’re all brown on the bottom, and a cloud of onion and garlic and chili vapors rush into her eyes. She squeals and rubs them, and they start to burn because she didn’t wash her hands after chopping the chilies like she told herself she was going to remember to do. Her eyes hurt so badly she thinks she’ll explode. She turns on the faucet and puts her eyes under the stream of water, fast and cold and numbing, and everything becomes an indistinct blur. I touched my eyes anyway because I’m stupid, and what would I even get a tattoo of, and they’re expensive and then it would be there forever and I don’t want it, or an ugly cat, I don’t, I’m stupid and I just want everything to stay exactly the way it is now so no one will ever have to know what’s wrong with me. •••

Olivia Awbrey

We are on the precipice of winter. The fresh draft snakes through the Hollow house, Seeps into the molding Floor boards, Fills every empty space with the Chill from last year That we forgot about. We are In this briskly naked room, Our hands white and bloodless, Noses leaking, Time weighing on our tense muscles, Together.

39

Zeph Schafer


the lentils on? I think they’re done. I’ll check in a second. First I’m stirring the onions. They’re all brown on the bottom, and a cloud of onion and garlic and chili vapors rush into her eyes. She squeals and rubs them, and they start to burn because she didn’t wash her hands after chopping the chilies like she told herself she was going to remember to do. Her eyes hurt so badly she thinks she’ll explode. She turns on the faucet and puts her eyes under the stream of water, fast and cold and numbing, and everything becomes an indistinct blur. I touched my eyes anyway because I’m stupid, and what would I even get a tattoo of, and they’re expensive and then it would be there forever and I don’t want it, or an ugly cat, I don’t, I’m stupid and I just want everything to stay exactly the way it is now so no one will ever have to know what’s wrong with me. •••

Olivia Awbrey

We are on the precipice of winter. The fresh draft snakes through the Hollow house, Seeps into the molding Floor boards, Fills every empty space with the Chill from last year That we forgot about. We are In this briskly naked room, Our hands white and bloodless, Noses leaking, Time weighing on our tense muscles, Together.

39

Zeph Schafer


Exodus

Fantasies and Bigotry Anonymous

A passing, milky-eyed Southern woman observed my thoughts of sex with another man. She said, “May the Devil take you,� but she spoke into the void on my left. My memories blur frame into frame, an old movie reel painted by hand. Chemical reactions create neurological phantasmagorias of sufferings I imagine as my own.

Marion Rosas

41

42


Exodus

Fantasies and Bigotry Anonymous

A passing, milky-eyed Southern woman observed my thoughts of sex with another man. She said, “May the Devil take you,� but she spoke into the void on my left. My memories blur frame into frame, an old movie reel painted by hand. Chemical reactions create neurological phantasmagorias of sufferings I imagine as my own.

Marion Rosas

41

42


Arabesque Drawings #2, #3, and #15 Eva Bertoglio

Piano Hands Charlotte Rheingold

43

Piano hands play along my arm, Dancing the way the light does. From each finger tap resonates an unheard note, a silent symphony. Your fingernails nestled next to mine, they reflect the glimmer in your eye and speak the truth of your piano hands.

44


Arabesque Drawings #2, #3, and #15 Eva Bertoglio

Piano Hands Charlotte Rheingold

43

Piano hands play along my arm, Dancing the way the light does. From each finger tap resonates an unheard note, a silent symphony. Your fingernails nestled next to mine, they reflect the glimmer in your eye and speak the truth of your piano hands.

44


The Teacher

William Leroux

A friend of mine asked me the other day if I enjoyed being a teacher. I opened my mouth, but nothing came out. I looked for the answers she wanted, but all I found were scattered words. So I picked up the words and threw them here. Maybe together they’ll make some kind of sense. In college I had a work study job at an afterschool program for elementary kids. It was better than doing actual work. My major was some nonsense that left people with the impression that I would be a particularly articulate homeless man, so there weren’t all that many practical internships to compete for my time. You know how movies like to show clever children outsmarting adults, or innocently-wise children teaching life lessons to old people? That doesn’t happen. Kids are kids, and they don’t know much. Try to imagine yourself illiterate, incapable of basic math, and with a spatial sense that measured everything in relation to your father. You now have an idea of what kids are working with. I liked the job though. Kids aren’t really wise, but they’re cute, which makes them easy enough to deal with. Most of them are enthusiastic about anything that a big person wants to do. Having rarely been the target of enthusiasm, this was weird for me, but I got used to it. The problem was the kids who crossed their arms, huffed, and decided that pointing out errors in their homework made you a Sith Lord. The indignant Jedi that day was a boy named Mark. So you don’t get the wrong impression, I liked Mark. He was bright—and not bright in that way that everyone is bright because you don’t want to describe them as “meh.” His issue was his equation of “difficult,” with “bad.” Learning the letter L? He would call for a reform of English spelling that excluded everything in the alphabet after K. Studying subtraction? He would argue that meaningful mathematical operations only required addition. The room was filled with that smell you can only find in places where children gather. I was sitting at a low table, on a chair made for someone a quarter my size. Little kids gibbered

45

Tea Leaves

Eliza Pearce

around me in their squeaky dialect, kicking their legs and filling in papers with jagged handwriting. I watched Mark. The light was reaching out from the window, and running golden fingers through his sandy hair. He was bent over a paper, scribbling numbers and signs. I pointed at something. “Look again,” I said. He looked up. His eyes were a deer’s soft brown. “What?” “The question is twenty-four plus seventeen. You’re doing it like it’s twenty-four plus seven.” “Thirty-one,” he said. “No. You forgot the ten.”

46


The Teacher

William Leroux

A friend of mine asked me the other day if I enjoyed being a teacher. I opened my mouth, but nothing came out. I looked for the answers she wanted, but all I found were scattered words. So I picked up the words and threw them here. Maybe together they’ll make some kind of sense. In college I had a work study job at an afterschool program for elementary kids. It was better than doing actual work. My major was some nonsense that left people with the impression that I would be a particularly articulate homeless man, so there weren’t all that many practical internships to compete for my time. You know how movies like to show clever children outsmarting adults, or innocently-wise children teaching life lessons to old people? That doesn’t happen. Kids are kids, and they don’t know much. Try to imagine yourself illiterate, incapable of basic math, and with a spatial sense that measured everything in relation to your father. You now have an idea of what kids are working with. I liked the job though. Kids aren’t really wise, but they’re cute, which makes them easy enough to deal with. Most of them are enthusiastic about anything that a big person wants to do. Having rarely been the target of enthusiasm, this was weird for me, but I got used to it. The problem was the kids who crossed their arms, huffed, and decided that pointing out errors in their homework made you a Sith Lord. The indignant Jedi that day was a boy named Mark. So you don’t get the wrong impression, I liked Mark. He was bright—and not bright in that way that everyone is bright because you don’t want to describe them as “meh.” His issue was his equation of “difficult,” with “bad.” Learning the letter L? He would call for a reform of English spelling that excluded everything in the alphabet after K. Studying subtraction? He would argue that meaningful mathematical operations only required addition. The room was filled with that smell you can only find in places where children gather. I was sitting at a low table, on a chair made for someone a quarter my size. Little kids gibbered

45

Tea Leaves

Eliza Pearce

around me in their squeaky dialect, kicking their legs and filling in papers with jagged handwriting. I watched Mark. The light was reaching out from the window, and running golden fingers through his sandy hair. He was bent over a paper, scribbling numbers and signs. I pointed at something. “Look again,” I said. He looked up. His eyes were a deer’s soft brown. “What?” “The question is twenty-four plus seventeen. You’re doing it like it’s twenty-four plus seven.” “Thirty-one,” he said. “No. You forgot the ten.”

46


“This is how my teacher said to do it.” “I don’t think that’s true, Mark.” “Well you don’t know,” he said, and then he continued the way he had been doing it. Don’t know? I thought. I’m in college. I’ve done math that would make your eyes bleed cosines! I know how to add. But I didn’t say that. “Mark, I really think—” A boy interrupted me. At that age, children haven’t really grasped the idea of waiting to ask questions. I had tried to teach them to be considerate, but I suppose it hadn’t really sunk in. “Teacher, is this how you spell ‘John?’” I looked at his paper. He was writing a story. “You need an H, Fred.” “Thank you,” he said. “You got to read it when I’m done,

What Is Beauty? 47

Erica Leishman

okay?” I heard myself say “yeah.” When I turned up to Mark, he had set aside his math and started fiddling with his eraser. “Mark, you need to do your math.” “I did. I’m done.” “Show me.” He glared, but did as I asked. The paper was covered in nonsense scratches, and doodles of stick figures, and swords, and all the things children draw when they’re bored. Half of the problems ignored the tens digit, and half were blank. “You’re done, are you?” “Oh. Um. I didn’t say that.” Bold lying is indistinguishable from good lying, so for a moment, part of me believed him. “I’m sure. Would you mind if I showed you some things?” “Fine.” “Cool.” I wrote down an example problem and did it for him, going slowly so he would understand. Only four students interrupted me the whole time. When I was done I handed him my pencil. “Now you try.” He did it just like he’d done before. “No,” I said. And then he started to cry. The frustration that had been throbbing in my temple evaporated, and guilt squeezed something in my chest. The rational part of me knew that in ten minutes he’d be laughing around the playground. He’d probably even ask me to play wall ball with him. It still sucked though. “I—Mark, I’m sorry. What’s wrong? I didn’t mean—” “You think I’m stupid! You don’t think I can do anything right.” “I didn’t say that. Mark, I think you can do this.” “No I can’t. It’s too hard.” I fumbled for something to say. I felt my tongue moving, and then I was speaking. “Well, math is hard. It’s always hard until it’s done. But you just got to do it. Everything’s like that. ” Was that the right thing to say? I never seemed to know. He glared at me. His eyes were ringed with puffy red. “No,” he said. And then he ran off. I tried to go up and get him, but a nearby teacher waved away my concern. “He’ll be fine. Don’t worry—you didn’t do anything wrong. He’ll learn.”

48


“This is how my teacher said to do it.” “I don’t think that’s true, Mark.” “Well you don’t know,” he said, and then he continued the way he had been doing it. Don’t know? I thought. I’m in college. I’ve done math that would make your eyes bleed cosines! I know how to add. But I didn’t say that. “Mark, I really think—” A boy interrupted me. At that age, children haven’t really grasped the idea of waiting to ask questions. I had tried to teach them to be considerate, but I suppose it hadn’t really sunk in. “Teacher, is this how you spell ‘John?’” I looked at his paper. He was writing a story. “You need an H, Fred.” “Thank you,” he said. “You got to read it when I’m done,

What Is Beauty? 47

Erica Leishman

okay?” I heard myself say “yeah.” When I turned up to Mark, he had set aside his math and started fiddling with his eraser. “Mark, you need to do your math.” “I did. I’m done.” “Show me.” He glared, but did as I asked. The paper was covered in nonsense scratches, and doodles of stick figures, and swords, and all the things children draw when they’re bored. Half of the problems ignored the tens digit, and half were blank. “You’re done, are you?” “Oh. Um. I didn’t say that.” Bold lying is indistinguishable from good lying, so for a moment, part of me believed him. “I’m sure. Would you mind if I showed you some things?” “Fine.” “Cool.” I wrote down an example problem and did it for him, going slowly so he would understand. Only four students interrupted me the whole time. When I was done I handed him my pencil. “Now you try.” He did it just like he’d done before. “No,” I said. And then he started to cry. The frustration that had been throbbing in my temple evaporated, and guilt squeezed something in my chest. The rational part of me knew that in ten minutes he’d be laughing around the playground. He’d probably even ask me to play wall ball with him. It still sucked though. “I—Mark, I’m sorry. What’s wrong? I didn’t mean—” “You think I’m stupid! You don’t think I can do anything right.” “I didn’t say that. Mark, I think you can do this.” “No I can’t. It’s too hard.” I fumbled for something to say. I felt my tongue moving, and then I was speaking. “Well, math is hard. It’s always hard until it’s done. But you just got to do it. Everything’s like that. ” Was that the right thing to say? I never seemed to know. He glared at me. His eyes were ringed with puffy red. “No,” he said. And then he ran off. I tried to go up and get him, but a nearby teacher waved away my concern. “He’ll be fine. Don’t worry—you didn’t do anything wrong. He’ll learn.”

48


I spent the day with the rest of the kids. They circled me with their chirping questions, and I answered them as best as I could. I can’t remember who I helped. I wasn’t looking at them. I couldn’t pay attention to the color of their shirts, or the shape of their faces. All that was in my mind was puffy red. Later I was setting up to leave. I gathered my things, put on my coat, and felt the day pressing down on my shoulders. I was walking down the hall when someone called my name. I turned. It was Fred, the kid I had helped earlier with spelling. He was beaming, clutching a wrinkled piece of paper. I slowed my pace to let him catch up. When he was next to me he said, “You have to read my story.” There were long windows to our left. Through them I could see old light rusting into something I could just barely read by. The playground was there behind the glass. The toys had turned to tired shadows. “I suppose I do.” I took the paper. I couldn’t read a lot of it. The light was bad, and the handwriting was worse. But I could just make out the title at the top. The Adventures of Hjon. Great, I thought, as I boldly spoke my lies. Time passed, as it tends to do. I kept at the job for a while, and then it conflicted with my schedule. When I saw kids around town they would gawk and scream—I existed outside of school! Eventually I stopped seeing them. I guess some moved away. Probably I just stopped recognizing a lot of them. I found I had a knack for sorting the nonsense of my major into the pretty patterns that academics like. Not having anything better to do, I went to graduate school. Sometimes I would teach a class of undergraduates. The words would fall out of my mouth, and I would watch the students groping for them at my feet. Occasionally I would wonder how many they found. My graduate years were filled with blank and staring eyes. At some point I got my degree. I spent a few years as an adjunct instructor. The hours were long, my papers were argued, and I went through jobs like a wolf goes through hamsters. The worst part of course was that, like most teachers, I simply had too much free time and respect.

49

Brig Bay

Allison Varga

I survived though, which is more than most people in history can currently say. My job was simple enough. I would speak, get misunderstood, read papers, misunderstand them, and then try to fix it all. Sometimes, by some fluke, the information in a student’s head would be similar to the information I’d put in it, and then people would tell me I had something to be proud of. I spent time in one state, more time in another. At one point I even worked in my old undergraduate university. While I was there my car—being as old as I was—broke down. As a professor of a liberal arts subject I could have probably just ridden my limo, but I decided that in the short term it would be best for me to walk and use the bus. It was a gray and frozen morning. The cold mocked my uncovered ears with stinging touches. I could hear the snow under my feet crunching rhythmically. I found the bus stop under a layer of white. There was only one other man there, and he was so covered in sweaters and scarves that I couldn’t make out his features. He was wearing a red and yellow beanie that made his head look like his own personal fire. I was struck with jealousy. In my years in reasonably warm states I had forgotten how to dress for real weather. We waited together for a handful of minutes that the cold

50


I spent the day with the rest of the kids. They circled me with their chirping questions, and I answered them as best as I could. I can’t remember who I helped. I wasn’t looking at them. I couldn’t pay attention to the color of their shirts, or the shape of their faces. All that was in my mind was puffy red. Later I was setting up to leave. I gathered my things, put on my coat, and felt the day pressing down on my shoulders. I was walking down the hall when someone called my name. I turned. It was Fred, the kid I had helped earlier with spelling. He was beaming, clutching a wrinkled piece of paper. I slowed my pace to let him catch up. When he was next to me he said, “You have to read my story.” There were long windows to our left. Through them I could see old light rusting into something I could just barely read by. The playground was there behind the glass. The toys had turned to tired shadows. “I suppose I do.” I took the paper. I couldn’t read a lot of it. The light was bad, and the handwriting was worse. But I could just make out the title at the top. The Adventures of Hjon. Great, I thought, as I boldly spoke my lies. Time passed, as it tends to do. I kept at the job for a while, and then it conflicted with my schedule. When I saw kids around town they would gawk and scream—I existed outside of school! Eventually I stopped seeing them. I guess some moved away. Probably I just stopped recognizing a lot of them. I found I had a knack for sorting the nonsense of my major into the pretty patterns that academics like. Not having anything better to do, I went to graduate school. Sometimes I would teach a class of undergraduates. The words would fall out of my mouth, and I would watch the students groping for them at my feet. Occasionally I would wonder how many they found. My graduate years were filled with blank and staring eyes. At some point I got my degree. I spent a few years as an adjunct instructor. The hours were long, my papers were argued, and I went through jobs like a wolf goes through hamsters. The worst part of course was that, like most teachers, I simply had too much free time and respect.

49

Brig Bay

Allison Varga

I survived though, which is more than most people in history can currently say. My job was simple enough. I would speak, get misunderstood, read papers, misunderstand them, and then try to fix it all. Sometimes, by some fluke, the information in a student’s head would be similar to the information I’d put in it, and then people would tell me I had something to be proud of. I spent time in one state, more time in another. At one point I even worked in my old undergraduate university. While I was there my car—being as old as I was—broke down. As a professor of a liberal arts subject I could have probably just ridden my limo, but I decided that in the short term it would be best for me to walk and use the bus. It was a gray and frozen morning. The cold mocked my uncovered ears with stinging touches. I could hear the snow under my feet crunching rhythmically. I found the bus stop under a layer of white. There was only one other man there, and he was so covered in sweaters and scarves that I couldn’t make out his features. He was wearing a red and yellow beanie that made his head look like his own personal fire. I was struck with jealousy. In my years in reasonably warm states I had forgotten how to dress for real weather. We waited together for a handful of minutes that the cold

50


froze into hours. My mind was occupied with a mediocre song that had wormed its way into my skull, and the man was trying to work through a book. At some point he stopped and turned to me. His words misted in the air. “Hey. What you waiting for?” “The 81.” “Ah. I’m waiting for the 82. Where you going?” “The university.” “Oh. Are you a professor? What do you teach?” And so I told him. To my mild surprise, he not only recognized the name of my area of study (itself not a small feat), but knew some rudimentary facts about it. He was a student at the university, and, from what I could tell, a good one. We had a pleasant conversation which consisted mostly of me babbling and him nodding politely. Eventually I asked him about the book he was holding. “Oh, this?” he said. He held it up. It was thick and worn, with the word “Calculus with Theory” written across the cover. I whistled. “Interesting. You like math?” “Yeah. I’m a math major.” “Are you?” I said, but I had lost my ability to pay attention. I rubbed my temples. The cold was pressing in. The man smiled. He took off his hat and handed it to me. “Want it? I have a dozen back home.” He glowed with that rare politeness that every generation thinks was common when they were young. I took the hat, and smiled. The smile melted when I saw his face. His eyes were doe brown, and his hair was the color of sand. I held the hat to my chest for a moment as I collected my thoughts. I pointed back at the book. “So. Calculus. Is it hard?” He blinked, and then looked at his book. After a moment of thought, he shrugged. “I guess so. But everything’s hard until it’s done. You just got to do it, you know?” I stared at him. I think I creeped him out a little, because he kept fidgeting. “Yeah. Yeah, I know.” I thought of asking him his name, but it didn’t seem important. I knew math too, and I knew that statistics said I had never seen him in my life. Statistics is the killjoy of mathematics. My bus shrieked into the station. The driver ushered me in. I found a seat near a window, and I waved. The man waved

51

back. His smile was wide and white—like a smile I had seen a long time ago. A few minutes later I noticed that the other passengers were shivering. I looked into my hand. The man’s hat was still there. I had forgotten I wanted it. I didn’t feel so cold anymore. •••

Blooming Barrel Cactus Charlotte Rheingold

52


froze into hours. My mind was occupied with a mediocre song that had wormed its way into my skull, and the man was trying to work through a book. At some point he stopped and turned to me. His words misted in the air. “Hey. What you waiting for?” “The 81.” “Ah. I’m waiting for the 82. Where you going?” “The university.” “Oh. Are you a professor? What do you teach?” And so I told him. To my mild surprise, he not only recognized the name of my area of study (itself not a small feat), but knew some rudimentary facts about it. He was a student at the university, and, from what I could tell, a good one. We had a pleasant conversation which consisted mostly of me babbling and him nodding politely. Eventually I asked him about the book he was holding. “Oh, this?” he said. He held it up. It was thick and worn, with the word “Calculus with Theory” written across the cover. I whistled. “Interesting. You like math?” “Yeah. I’m a math major.” “Are you?” I said, but I had lost my ability to pay attention. I rubbed my temples. The cold was pressing in. The man smiled. He took off his hat and handed it to me. “Want it? I have a dozen back home.” He glowed with that rare politeness that every generation thinks was common when they were young. I took the hat, and smiled. The smile melted when I saw his face. His eyes were doe brown, and his hair was the color of sand. I held the hat to my chest for a moment as I collected my thoughts. I pointed back at the book. “So. Calculus. Is it hard?” He blinked, and then looked at his book. After a moment of thought, he shrugged. “I guess so. But everything’s hard until it’s done. You just got to do it, you know?” I stared at him. I think I creeped him out a little, because he kept fidgeting. “Yeah. Yeah, I know.” I thought of asking him his name, but it didn’t seem important. I knew math too, and I knew that statistics said I had never seen him in my life. Statistics is the killjoy of mathematics. My bus shrieked into the station. The driver ushered me in. I found a seat near a window, and I waved. The man waved

51

back. His smile was wide and white—like a smile I had seen a long time ago. A few minutes later I noticed that the other passengers were shivering. I looked into my hand. The man’s hat was still there. I had forgotten I wanted it. I didn’t feel so cold anymore. •••

Blooming Barrel Cactus Charlotte Rheingold

52


The Children Are Our Future and the Future Isn’t Human

Ode to Llama Emily Gritzmacher

Eva Bertoglio

53

The Lone Llama Was lonely The lone llama among sheep We saw the lone llama As we drove by Llama! A lone llama! Among sheep! Poor llama There were no other llamas Just him. Or her. A brown patch of wool Among yellowy white Where did the other llamas go? Were there ever any? Lone Llama loitered alone Likely listless Hopefully not In a patch of grass. Well, Lead on, Llama! Don’t be shy. Do your thing, llama! Don’t feel the need to find camouflage. A while ago we drove past a llama A patch of brown in a sea of sheep. Lone llama wasn’t lonely The llama was doing its thing! I see you, Lightning llama Dancing with four feet Just doin’ your thing 54


The Children Are Our Future and the Future Isn’t Human

Ode to Llama Emily Gritzmacher

Eva Bertoglio

53

The Lone Llama Was lonely The lone llama among sheep We saw the lone llama As we drove by Llama! A lone llama! Among sheep! Poor llama There were no other llamas Just him. Or her. A brown patch of wool Among yellowy white Where did the other llamas go? Were there ever any? Lone Llama loitered alone Likely listless Hopefully not In a patch of grass. Well, Lead on, Llama! Don’t be shy. Do your thing, llama! Don’t feel the need to find camouflage. A while ago we drove past a llama A patch of brown in a sea of sheep. Lone llama wasn’t lonely The llama was doing its thing! I see you, Lightning llama Dancing with four feet Just doin’ your thing 54


Through a Window Alex Bean

The maple tree outside is bare and slick with rain. Drops coalesce on the naked limbs and fall in an impersonal chatter on the sidewalk below. Muffled conversation climbs up the wall to my window. People congregate in the concrete pavilion, fragments of speech combining— raindrops of sound— a meaningless pattering a mass of noise, formless and unintelligible emitting from lips of unsculpted clay. Featureless faces wash by accumulating and dispersing until each identity is washed away in the whole

Obligations

Anonymous

Heading south though Siskiyou Pass they gained elevation concurrently with the Saturday sun. The trees and outcroppings shaded the road and the air was cold. When Yanira drove into the golden plains of Yreka in Northern California, Malcolm woke up. He peeled his face from the passenger-side window, blinking at the white cap of Mt. Shasta. He turned to Yanira, her amber hair haloed by the sun. His eyes shut and re-opened, directed downward towards his partner’s belly. She was hardly showing. “You still okay to drive?” “I’m all right.” Only recently, when his fingers ran up Yanira’s thighs or gripped her butt, had he begun to feel a softness that her body did not have four months before. Even when she was topless Malcolm could hardly see a difference. He realized he smelled like varnish.

Zeph Schafer

The crowd surges beneath my window an inhuman mass of humanity of colors, sounds, stories rushing through the wind until suddenly, like ash poured in an angry river the crowd dissipates and disappears.

55

56


Through a Window Alex Bean

The maple tree outside is bare and slick with rain. Drops coalesce on the naked limbs and fall in an impersonal chatter on the sidewalk below. Muffled conversation climbs up the wall to my window. People congregate in the concrete pavilion, fragments of speech combining— raindrops of sound— a meaningless pattering a mass of noise, formless and unintelligible emitting from lips of unsculpted clay. Featureless faces wash by accumulating and dispersing until each identity is washed away in the whole

Obligations

Anonymous

Heading south though Siskiyou Pass they gained elevation concurrently with the Saturday sun. The trees and outcroppings shaded the road and the air was cold. When Yanira drove into the golden plains of Yreka in Northern California, Malcolm woke up. He peeled his face from the passenger-side window, blinking at the white cap of Mt. Shasta. He turned to Yanira, her amber hair haloed by the sun. His eyes shut and re-opened, directed downward towards his partner’s belly. She was hardly showing. “You still okay to drive?” “I’m all right.” Only recently, when his fingers ran up Yanira’s thighs or gripped her butt, had he begun to feel a softness that her body did not have four months before. Even when she was topless Malcolm could hardly see a difference. He realized he smelled like varnish.

Zeph Schafer

The crowd surges beneath my window an inhuman mass of humanity of colors, sounds, stories rushing through the wind until suddenly, like ash poured in an angry river the crowd dissipates and disappears.

55

56


He had worked for most of the night, finishing cabinets he needed done for Monday morning. “Want some fresh air?” “Please.” He leaned forward and cranked open the window to the width of a fist. Yanira pushed back into the seat, elongating her spine, rolling her neck back and forth. The road turned west, putting the sun to their backs. Mal leaned against the glass and watched the wind kick at Yanira’s short hair, letting the smooth rush of air lull him back to sleep. He was still sleeping as Yanira eased gently over the last bit of road, unpaved, and into the parking lot of Castle Crags State Park. She ran her fingers though Mal’s hair. She woke him like she imagined she would wake up their son when he was a young man, fifteen, maybe even older. Old enough to think he was fullgrown, though he would still curl up like a child when he slept. Mal’s lips compressed, barely, rolling in towards his teeth. She leaned across the seat to bring her mouth close to his ear. “Mal.” They threw the groceries and climbing gear into the backpack. The clothes were folded between the two halves of the climbing pad. Mal shouldered the pack, the heavier burden. Yanira took the climbing pad, adjusting the shoulder straps as she started up the trail. After sleeping in the car, the mountain air was like waking up to a scream. Mal’s heart beat out of his chest as he ran up and down the trail, gulping air, bringing his muscles to life. Yanira took deep breaths in time with her long, slow strides. She was mute as she walked, watching Mal run around like a puppy. She could still hike all right, though her lungs felt as if they only filled halfway and sweat ran down her neck from behind her ears, something she’d never noticed before, but her stomach and back were still strong. She spent her lunch breaks doing yoga and was always able to demonstrate exercises for her physical therapy patients. Men resisted the urge to shake their fingers loose after gripping her hand. She was still capable. From close behind, Mal asked if she needed to rest. “No, no.” It was too early to stop. “Do you?” She knew he didn’t. He could walk for days. Out here his energy was boundless. “I can keep on keeping on. Are you sure you’re good? You never hike with your head down.”

57

Next Time You Go First

Kelsey Stilson

Yanira rounded her shoulders back and hefted the climbing pad higher. They crested a small hill. Descending the other face, the trail was steep and trees were sparse. Not far away, the crags exploded out of the earth. Granite turrets dwarfed the occasional maples, cedars, firs, and pines. The few deciduous trees, beginning their autumn ritual, sporadically punctuated the dominantly evergreen forest with red and yellow hues. Yanira stopped and took off the climbing pad. Mal turned to her as she stretched her back, rubbing the underside of her belly. He smiled, laughed. He looked to the peaks again, raising his hands over his head, over everything that was laid out before him. His eyes devoured the landscape. He sucked in air until his chest was huge and stood on his tiptoes and bellowed a great, “Ha-ha!” They continued on, their silence in the final hour of the hike periodically interrupted by a verse or two that appeared in Mal’s wandering mind, his abounding glee giving him no choice but to belt them out. A quarter-mile from Dome Rock they made their camp under the overhang of a boulder a few hundred feet from the trail. Mal had found the spot three years earlier when they had first come to the crags to climb. He was an early riser. While he had waited for her to get up he would wander through the surrounding woods. He had stumbled into the clearing around this out of place boulder, big as a house, with a concave overhang facing south, a crack on the east side running horizontally, making for a beautiful, low traverse a few feet above the spongy earth. When

58


He had worked for most of the night, finishing cabinets he needed done for Monday morning. “Want some fresh air?” “Please.” He leaned forward and cranked open the window to the width of a fist. Yanira pushed back into the seat, elongating her spine, rolling her neck back and forth. The road turned west, putting the sun to their backs. Mal leaned against the glass and watched the wind kick at Yanira’s short hair, letting the smooth rush of air lull him back to sleep. He was still sleeping as Yanira eased gently over the last bit of road, unpaved, and into the parking lot of Castle Crags State Park. She ran her fingers though Mal’s hair. She woke him like she imagined she would wake up their son when he was a young man, fifteen, maybe even older. Old enough to think he was fullgrown, though he would still curl up like a child when he slept. Mal’s lips compressed, barely, rolling in towards his teeth. She leaned across the seat to bring her mouth close to his ear. “Mal.” They threw the groceries and climbing gear into the backpack. The clothes were folded between the two halves of the climbing pad. Mal shouldered the pack, the heavier burden. Yanira took the climbing pad, adjusting the shoulder straps as she started up the trail. After sleeping in the car, the mountain air was like waking up to a scream. Mal’s heart beat out of his chest as he ran up and down the trail, gulping air, bringing his muscles to life. Yanira took deep breaths in time with her long, slow strides. She was mute as she walked, watching Mal run around like a puppy. She could still hike all right, though her lungs felt as if they only filled halfway and sweat ran down her neck from behind her ears, something she’d never noticed before, but her stomach and back were still strong. She spent her lunch breaks doing yoga and was always able to demonstrate exercises for her physical therapy patients. Men resisted the urge to shake their fingers loose after gripping her hand. She was still capable. From close behind, Mal asked if she needed to rest. “No, no.” It was too early to stop. “Do you?” She knew he didn’t. He could walk for days. Out here his energy was boundless. “I can keep on keeping on. Are you sure you’re good? You never hike with your head down.”

57

Next Time You Go First

Kelsey Stilson

Yanira rounded her shoulders back and hefted the climbing pad higher. They crested a small hill. Descending the other face, the trail was steep and trees were sparse. Not far away, the crags exploded out of the earth. Granite turrets dwarfed the occasional maples, cedars, firs, and pines. The few deciduous trees, beginning their autumn ritual, sporadically punctuated the dominantly evergreen forest with red and yellow hues. Yanira stopped and took off the climbing pad. Mal turned to her as she stretched her back, rubbing the underside of her belly. He smiled, laughed. He looked to the peaks again, raising his hands over his head, over everything that was laid out before him. His eyes devoured the landscape. He sucked in air until his chest was huge and stood on his tiptoes and bellowed a great, “Ha-ha!” They continued on, their silence in the final hour of the hike periodically interrupted by a verse or two that appeared in Mal’s wandering mind, his abounding glee giving him no choice but to belt them out. A quarter-mile from Dome Rock they made their camp under the overhang of a boulder a few hundred feet from the trail. Mal had found the spot three years earlier when they had first come to the crags to climb. He was an early riser. While he had waited for her to get up he would wander through the surrounding woods. He had stumbled into the clearing around this out of place boulder, big as a house, with a concave overhang facing south, a crack on the east side running horizontally, making for a beautiful, low traverse a few feet above the spongy earth. When

58


she woke up, he was heating water for oatmeal and coffee, his back to her. Hearing the zipper of the tent, he said, “We’re moving camp. I have a surprise for you.” Now, chalk dotted the route from the hundreds of times Yanira and Mal had climbed back and forth to warm up in the morning, or to entertain themselves as meals cooked over their fire. The overhang of the boulder faced away from the trail. Yanira followed a small path with her head down. Mal ran his hand over the rock and his fingers played in the easily reached holds. They set up camp and left all the nonessentials behind, quickly covering the quarter mile to Dome Rock. Five routes zigzagged up its face. The far left presented an eight-pitch climb, roughly nine hundred feet up. The routes to the right were much more moderate, the tallest of the four being only two-pitches. They began warming up, laying the crash pad out and bouldering over it, one at a time, on the bottom of the routes, re-accustoming their fingers to the granite.

Day’s End Allison Varga

59

It had taken five hours to reach the wall from Ashland. The air was brisk, but the rock, in the late morning sun, was invitingly warm. Mal and Yanira took their time, not straining themselves, not climbing with the ropes, yet. Near noon they sat on the cushions of the climbing pad, leaning against the base of the rock. They lazily ate their lunch of cheese, crackers, and tuna, then laid back and looked up at the granite looming over them. Mal had no fear of that cliff and he curled his body around Yanira’s and fell asleep in the warm sun. Even then, with Mal’s head resting on her breast and a soft breeze cooling her skin, her trepidation required constant repression. Would Mal love their son in the first years of his life when he was a hindrance, something that would keep Mal working more, away from the woods and climbs? She forced herself to be calm. Climbing for two. The exhilaration had turned on itself in the recent months, with each weekend trip. When they first met she had been more daring than Mal. She certainly had been a better climber; in the seven years since, he had acquired strength and confidence she could not match. Cockiness, some people thought, but it wasn’t. Exuberance. Nothing scared him because he never considered failure, just the potential for a challenge he could surmount. With every beat of her heart, Yanira had to fight back her desire to stay solidly on the ground. She could not quiet her doubts, a half hour later, tying the rope to her harness. “Climbing,” she said. “Climb on.” The commands were routine, a practice that had been drilled into them when they were new to this sport. Now, the words were forgotten even as they were uttered. She placed protective gear as she went. Her fingers measured every hold before they trusted it. Whenever a move required that she bring her feet up close to her hands, she felt tightness in her stomach as if somebody were squeezing her intestines. Every move upward made her feel she was betraying her child, fraternizing with the very thing that was bound to keep him and his father at a distance until the boy could match his father’s pace and love for exploration. Eighty feet up, she put a cam into a crack, making sure it was wedged, secure, capable of withstanding many tons of force if she fell from above. She called out to Mal to take up the slack. He pulled her tight against the rock and she let go,

60


she woke up, he was heating water for oatmeal and coffee, his back to her. Hearing the zipper of the tent, he said, “We’re moving camp. I have a surprise for you.” Now, chalk dotted the route from the hundreds of times Yanira and Mal had climbed back and forth to warm up in the morning, or to entertain themselves as meals cooked over their fire. The overhang of the boulder faced away from the trail. Yanira followed a small path with her head down. Mal ran his hand over the rock and his fingers played in the easily reached holds. They set up camp and left all the nonessentials behind, quickly covering the quarter mile to Dome Rock. Five routes zigzagged up its face. The far left presented an eight-pitch climb, roughly nine hundred feet up. The routes to the right were much more moderate, the tallest of the four being only two-pitches. They began warming up, laying the crash pad out and bouldering over it, one at a time, on the bottom of the routes, re-accustoming their fingers to the granite.

Day’s End Allison Varga

59

It had taken five hours to reach the wall from Ashland. The air was brisk, but the rock, in the late morning sun, was invitingly warm. Mal and Yanira took their time, not straining themselves, not climbing with the ropes, yet. Near noon they sat on the cushions of the climbing pad, leaning against the base of the rock. They lazily ate their lunch of cheese, crackers, and tuna, then laid back and looked up at the granite looming over them. Mal had no fear of that cliff and he curled his body around Yanira’s and fell asleep in the warm sun. Even then, with Mal’s head resting on her breast and a soft breeze cooling her skin, her trepidation required constant repression. Would Mal love their son in the first years of his life when he was a hindrance, something that would keep Mal working more, away from the woods and climbs? She forced herself to be calm. Climbing for two. The exhilaration had turned on itself in the recent months, with each weekend trip. When they first met she had been more daring than Mal. She certainly had been a better climber; in the seven years since, he had acquired strength and confidence she could not match. Cockiness, some people thought, but it wasn’t. Exuberance. Nothing scared him because he never considered failure, just the potential for a challenge he could surmount. With every beat of her heart, Yanira had to fight back her desire to stay solidly on the ground. She could not quiet her doubts, a half hour later, tying the rope to her harness. “Climbing,” she said. “Climb on.” The commands were routine, a practice that had been drilled into them when they were new to this sport. Now, the words were forgotten even as they were uttered. She placed protective gear as she went. Her fingers measured every hold before they trusted it. Whenever a move required that she bring her feet up close to her hands, she felt tightness in her stomach as if somebody were squeezing her intestines. Every move upward made her feel she was betraying her child, fraternizing with the very thing that was bound to keep him and his father at a distance until the boy could match his father’s pace and love for exploration. Eighty feet up, she put a cam into a crack, making sure it was wedged, secure, capable of withstanding many tons of force if she fell from above. She called out to Mal to take up the slack. He pulled her tight against the rock and she let go,

60


hanging by the thin rope anchored to his harness. She looked at the remaining twenty feet of the climb. She wiped the sweat from her hands and tried to even out her breathing. “Climbing,” she yelled. Mal’s neck felt like it would break at any moment, having been bent at so steep an angle for so long. Yanira had scaled over a small roof in the rock; he could no longer see her. He had to feel for her movements through the rope. She was climbing slowly, even for her methodical style. She was having trouble getting her feet up, not putting her toes on the footholds that would give her the best position on the rock. Mal remembered watching her for the first time, in Squamish, BC. Each hold was chosen deliberately and every movement of her feet was calculated to the finest degree of certainty. She was like a sloth, but beautiful; her climbing was immaculate. He had asked her for advice as soon as her feet met again with the ground. The air at the base of the rock had been cold for an hour and Mal wanted to do one more climb, an easy climb, the last of the day. “Come on, Yani, you had no problem with the last one. Why not? Imagine the sunset from up there!” “I’m done. I’m ready to go back to camp.” Her anxiety had built into repulsion toward the rock, the successive climbs becoming more and more absurd. What was she doing? She could feel her hips pulling her back to earth, countering each move she made away from it. “Could you belay me? It’ll be quick.” The thought of him climbing, his refusal to leave even one last climb undone, viscerally disturbed her. “No. I’m done. Are you coming back to camp with me?” Mal began to ask why, what was wrong. He sucked in a breath and clamped his mouth shut. He did not realize he had glanced at Yanira’s stomach until he looked back at her face. It showed a controlled fury. Mal hoped their child would have his mother’s eyes. Their ability to express unadulterated emotion amazed him. “Let’s pack up,” he said. They did so hurriedly and left, Mal looking back over his shoulder at the glowing cliff with shadows growing up from its base. At the camp Yanira began boiling water for dinner and Mal unpacked and organized the gear, placing it in the protection of the tarp.

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“Babe, do you have your ATC on you?” “It should be attached to my harness. Back left.” “It’s not. Is it somewhere else in the pack?” “No. It should be on the harness.” “It’s not. Must have left it. I’ll run up and get it. Be right back.” Mal grabbed his headlamp and didn’t hear what Yanira yelled as he jogged off, guilt ringing in his ears, hoping she hadn’t seen him slip the belay device and his climbing shoes under his coat. “God dammit, Mal,” she said again, softer this time, to herself. He had to have missed it. She had checked all the gear, for both of them. Getting up, she stretched her back, throwing her belly into the air. When she flipped up the covering of the tarp she didn’t bother looking over her harness. She saw at once that his shoes were gone. Mal looked up at a crack the width of a fist that ran almost fifty feet up: the shortest climb. The sun was setting over the treetops and the pines cast a shifting light as they bristled in the breeze. Above, the cliff looked alive. Warm. Mal, ignoring the pressure of the belay device in his rear pocket, put his hand on the granite. Not too cold, yet. At the top the crags were on fire with the setting sun. He knew this climb. He had done it dozens of times, though never without a rope. He had never before climbed without protection. But it was an easy climb. Yanira had not grabbed a headlamp before running after him. The trail was already dark but she hardly slowed down. When she came to the base of the cliff Mal was twenty-five feet up, where the trees began to taper. He pulled one fist from the crack and shook his fingers, squatting on a vertical plane, almost resting on his heels. One arm hung at his side, the other was punched into the rock above. Yanira hugged her stomach and tried to be silent. He could do this climb, but she had seen him get carried away, falling on easier routes. He climbed beautifully, and recklessly, all strength and emotion. Haphazard, holding onto anything he wanted, oblivious to the impracticality of his motion. Mal neared the deeply shadowed summit of the climb. Yanira felt, in her core, that her son’s father would plummet to the earth at her feet. Below him the route faded to gray as it met the dirt path that led back into the dark of the trees. The sunset had escaped.

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hanging by the thin rope anchored to his harness. She looked at the remaining twenty feet of the climb. She wiped the sweat from her hands and tried to even out her breathing. “Climbing,” she yelled. Mal’s neck felt like it would break at any moment, having been bent at so steep an angle for so long. Yanira had scaled over a small roof in the rock; he could no longer see her. He had to feel for her movements through the rope. She was climbing slowly, even for her methodical style. She was having trouble getting her feet up, not putting her toes on the footholds that would give her the best position on the rock. Mal remembered watching her for the first time, in Squamish, BC. Each hold was chosen deliberately and every movement of her feet was calculated to the finest degree of certainty. She was like a sloth, but beautiful; her climbing was immaculate. He had asked her for advice as soon as her feet met again with the ground. The air at the base of the rock had been cold for an hour and Mal wanted to do one more climb, an easy climb, the last of the day. “Come on, Yani, you had no problem with the last one. Why not? Imagine the sunset from up there!” “I’m done. I’m ready to go back to camp.” Her anxiety had built into repulsion toward the rock, the successive climbs becoming more and more absurd. What was she doing? She could feel her hips pulling her back to earth, countering each move she made away from it. “Could you belay me? It’ll be quick.” The thought of him climbing, his refusal to leave even one last climb undone, viscerally disturbed her. “No. I’m done. Are you coming back to camp with me?” Mal began to ask why, what was wrong. He sucked in a breath and clamped his mouth shut. He did not realize he had glanced at Yanira’s stomach until he looked back at her face. It showed a controlled fury. Mal hoped their child would have his mother’s eyes. Their ability to express unadulterated emotion amazed him. “Let’s pack up,” he said. They did so hurriedly and left, Mal looking back over his shoulder at the glowing cliff with shadows growing up from its base. At the camp Yanira began boiling water for dinner and Mal unpacked and organized the gear, placing it in the protection of the tarp.

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“Babe, do you have your ATC on you?” “It should be attached to my harness. Back left.” “It’s not. Is it somewhere else in the pack?” “No. It should be on the harness.” “It’s not. Must have left it. I’ll run up and get it. Be right back.” Mal grabbed his headlamp and didn’t hear what Yanira yelled as he jogged off, guilt ringing in his ears, hoping she hadn’t seen him slip the belay device and his climbing shoes under his coat. “God dammit, Mal,” she said again, softer this time, to herself. He had to have missed it. She had checked all the gear, for both of them. Getting up, she stretched her back, throwing her belly into the air. When she flipped up the covering of the tarp she didn’t bother looking over her harness. She saw at once that his shoes were gone. Mal looked up at a crack the width of a fist that ran almost fifty feet up: the shortest climb. The sun was setting over the treetops and the pines cast a shifting light as they bristled in the breeze. Above, the cliff looked alive. Warm. Mal, ignoring the pressure of the belay device in his rear pocket, put his hand on the granite. Not too cold, yet. At the top the crags were on fire with the setting sun. He knew this climb. He had done it dozens of times, though never without a rope. He had never before climbed without protection. But it was an easy climb. Yanira had not grabbed a headlamp before running after him. The trail was already dark but she hardly slowed down. When she came to the base of the cliff Mal was twenty-five feet up, where the trees began to taper. He pulled one fist from the crack and shook his fingers, squatting on a vertical plane, almost resting on his heels. One arm hung at his side, the other was punched into the rock above. Yanira hugged her stomach and tried to be silent. He could do this climb, but she had seen him get carried away, falling on easier routes. He climbed beautifully, and recklessly, all strength and emotion. Haphazard, holding onto anything he wanted, oblivious to the impracticality of his motion. Mal neared the deeply shadowed summit of the climb. Yanira felt, in her core, that her son’s father would plummet to the earth at her feet. Below him the route faded to gray as it met the dirt path that led back into the dark of the trees. The sunset had escaped.

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The spire tops of the trees reached, like the sharp ridges of the Castle Crags, to the last light of the sun. Mal hesitated before the final move. What then? He would climb onto the ledge and follow the thin path leading around and down, back to camp, to Yanira’s furious and worried embrace, to the road, to Ashland and sanding boards, and to the hospital where his Yanira would give birth to his child. Mal stared at the point where the sun left the sky and felt as if he could jump over the horizon and grab it. That climb was only the beginning. It was the first time he had free soloed. He alone was responsible for his life, or death. He was alone on the rock, between the sky and the earth. He knew then that he would never again find the same rush when he climbed tethered to a person rooted solidly on the ground. •••

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Cactus Flower Mackenzie Henshaw

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The spire tops of the trees reached, like the sharp ridges of the Castle Crags, to the last light of the sun. Mal hesitated before the final move. What then? He would climb onto the ledge and follow the thin path leading around and down, back to camp, to Yanira’s furious and worried embrace, to the road, to Ashland and sanding boards, and to the hospital where his Yanira would give birth to his child. Mal stared at the point where the sun left the sky and felt as if he could jump over the horizon and grab it. That climb was only the beginning. It was the first time he had free soloed. He alone was responsible for his life, or death. He was alone on the rock, between the sky and the earth. He knew then that he would never again find the same rush when he climbed tethered to a person rooted solidly on the ground. •••

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Cactus Flower Mackenzie Henshaw

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Editing William Leroux

On Top of the World

I want to light this paper, watch the words slip into licking red. Gather meanings from the ash, and draw my father’s frown. I want to rip my roommate’s snoring from his throat. Beat this syntax with it into rugged grace. I want these words to flow, like cold light over strange yellowed leaves. Like home’s pulsing sea over fleshy stars. I want to mine them, these clichés I’ve dreamed. Take them from the stone, and sculpt a waiting dog.

Marion Rosas

I want to go to sleep, leave my laptop out. Let unfamiliar shadows type these stale words. And I want to stop, sit in my room, eat m&m’s my parents sent stare at my facebook and pretend that I’m home.

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Editing William Leroux

On Top of the World

I want to light this paper, watch the words slip into licking red. Gather meanings from the ash, and draw my father’s frown. I want to rip my roommate’s snoring from his throat. Beat this syntax with it into rugged grace. I want these words to flow, like cold light over strange yellowed leaves. Like home’s pulsing sea over fleshy stars. I want to mine them, these clichés I’ve dreamed. Take them from the stone, and sculpt a waiting dog.

Marion Rosas

I want to go to sleep, leave my laptop out. Let unfamiliar shadows type these stale words. And I want to stop, sit in my room, eat m&m’s my parents sent stare at my facebook and pretend that I’m home.

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First Home

Farm Town

Bethany Kaylor

Before we were old enough for school, my brother and I went over to our neighbor Mary’s house everyday. She let us watch whatever channel we wanted, which was practically heaven since we didn’t have cable at home. I sat on a grainy couch; my brother took the broken recliner. We spent afternoons watching old Nickelodeon shows while eating Cheeto’s and other snacks that were forbidden at home. Out of all our neighbors, Mary was by far our favorite. The lesbians across the street were crotchety and the man next door stayed inside most of the day. But Mary loved us. We were her babies since all of her other babies had left her for college and marriage. I loved the television room. I loved the darkly paneled walls and the stained coffee table. Sometimes Mary would come in and sit with us; she read while we watched our shows. She called her books “trash” but read them anyway. (I liked sitting next to her. Her perfumed powder masked the stench of cigarettes.) If the weather were nice and nothing good on TV, my brother and I would play in her backyard. But we’d always return to her living room, our sanctuary. Even when Mary’s real babies had babies, we were still her babies, and those newborn babies became our babies, too. We thought we were a huge family until we grew old enough to realize we weren’t; we were just the kids from next door. Eventually we would move from that street, away from Mary’s house and television, away from snacks and hugs and belonging to something that was not (would never be) ours.

Nicholas Maurer

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First Home

Farm Town

Bethany Kaylor

Before we were old enough for school, my brother and I went over to our neighbor Mary’s house everyday. She let us watch whatever channel we wanted, which was practically heaven since we didn’t have cable at home. I sat on a grainy couch; my brother took the broken recliner. We spent afternoons watching old Nickelodeon shows while eating Cheeto’s and other snacks that were forbidden at home. Out of all our neighbors, Mary was by far our favorite. The lesbians across the street were crotchety and the man next door stayed inside most of the day. But Mary loved us. We were her babies since all of her other babies had left her for college and marriage. I loved the television room. I loved the darkly paneled walls and the stained coffee table. Sometimes Mary would come in and sit with us; she read while we watched our shows. She called her books “trash” but read them anyway. (I liked sitting next to her. Her perfumed powder masked the stench of cigarettes.) If the weather were nice and nothing good on TV, my brother and I would play in her backyard. But we’d always return to her living room, our sanctuary. Even when Mary’s real babies had babies, we were still her babies, and those newborn babies became our babies, too. We thought we were a huge family until we grew old enough to realize we weren’t; we were just the kids from next door. Eventually we would move from that street, away from Mary’s house and television, away from snacks and hugs and belonging to something that was not (would never be) ours.

Nicholas Maurer

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Delicate Things Austin Powe

Floating Candles Marion Rosas

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Delicate Things Austin Powe

Floating Candles Marion Rosas

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Special thanks to the Clark Honors College and to Helen Southworth, David Frank, the CHC’s administrative staff, and the CHCSA.

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Ephemera Spring 2012  

Ephemera is the Clark Honors College creative arts journal at the University of Oregon. This edition showcases excellence in poetry, prose,...

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