VOLUME I, ISSUE I SEPTEMBER 2015
FRAGMENTS OF CHIAROSCURO
Catharsis [Andi Mo]
A Note From the Editor. There is a certain wonder in the dawn of something new. Started as a project to keep in touch with a dear friend, Fragments of Chiaroscuro is a non-profit magazine with the purpose of spreading great writing and art to the community. Chiaroscuro: the contrast of light and dark. We hope you will explore that theme through these fragments we have collected. I would like to extend a huge thank-you to everyone who contributed to the production of Issue I: To Rupal, fantastic friend and incredible writer, for taking on this project and loving it as much as I do. For supporting me through all of my crazy ideas and offering invaluable advice about writing, chemistry, and life in general. Here's to a lifetime of friendship. To Michelle, my oldest friend, who has worked endlessly to format and put together the magazine. Thanks for enduring my constant rants about reading and writing with admirable alacrity and sticking with me through everything. To the editors - Alex, Andi, and Jackie. Thank you for patiently working with us to select the absolute topnotch pieces for our magazine. To Yaxin, the most hardworking and organized friend I've ever had. Thanks for a spectacular job managing our various sites and putting up with my ineptitude regarding social media. To everyone who has supported this endeavor - anyone who submitted a piece, liked a Facebook post, or offered an encouraging comment. Your support means everything. From long hours spent editing, formatting, and writing, our staff has all contributed part of ourselves in the making of Issue I. And without further ado, we present to you, dear reader, the fruits of our labor. We hope you enjoy.
REINI LIN Founder & Editor-in-Chief September 2015
Table of Contents. COVER PAGE. Catharsis | Andi Mo A NOTE FROM THE EDITOR. Reini Lin ii WORKS. Vigil for Selene | Glen Wilson vi Over the Mountain | Jacquelin Ho vii A Page Turn | Debasis Mukhopadhyay viii In My Fatherâ€™s Voice | Michael Koenig ix Lady, You Shot Me 21 | Darren C. Demaree xii Lily Bouquet | Andi Mo xiii The Bureau of Happiness Statistics | Michael Koenig xiv Pensive Derelict | Andi Mo xviii Of Spontaneous Late Night Spa Talks | Sakura Rapolu xix
Table of Contents (cont). Brother Death, a poem for you | Debasis Mukhopadhyay xx transparent boundaries | Mary Schmidt xxi Ultra-Future Deranged Hobo | Eugene Chun xxii
Sirens of Summer | Anushree Nande xxiii Eureka | Jacquelin Ho xxvii Ekphrastic Composition | Mary Schmidt xxviii Without a Trace | Rupal Nigam xxix
Jerusalem | Jacquelin Ho xxxii I See London, I See Paris | Michelle Kim xxxiii otherworldly | Reini Lin xli THE STAFF. xlii
THE CONTRIBUTORS. xliii
“I wonder how many people I’ve looked at all my life and never seen.” - John Steinbeck, The Winter of Our Discontent
Vigil for Selene [Glen Wilson] The moon is brazen with light, for this is when half the world wakes and walks and it is not another world, it is the same streets that the sun genuflects over. Now we come out and play, our eyes fit for purpose but we have no single purpose
in mind. We move quicker and more sure, watch flames come on in bedroom windows. Passion both perfunctory and unbridled spends then dims to leave just our night. I easily leap unto the garden wall, the edge pumices the pads of my feet as I look out. I cry out, knowing it will not be your voice that replies. Slowly yowls rise up, a chorale
building to a crescendo, billowing the sky - a veil that flickers at the risk of your return.
Over the Mountain [Jacquelin Ho] vii
A page turn [Debasis Mukhopadhyay] After Franz Kafka's â€œThe Trialâ€? I know the last line... always always in my skull, she says stirring up the papercut flowers begging the moon by the window pane. The moon comes lapping at my feet. They are mired in the past. I know in my bone I'm led to the wall. I feel loath to wake up to the page. I mire and mire. I am the way. Like a dog, she says turning toward the remnant flowers crouching before the moon in the night of that page. The moon comes honing the blade, life. No bellowing. Just a page turn.
In My Father’s Voice [Michael Koenig] My father was never a Great Man, but he always acted as if he was—the emperor of every conversation, sometimes deigning to inquire about the others in the room, pausing to recognize their precocious accomplishments without ever intending to imply that they could ever rival his.
I was an insular child who never cared if other people knew that I knew something; I just collected information the way other kids whatever other kids collect. When my father found out I wanted to be a writer, he immediately appointed me his biographer, as long as I scribed the same proven anecdotes and did no research on my own. Mere hero worship wasn’t enough. How could I convince him that publishers weren’t exactly clamoring for the biography of a poet whose two concise volumes had long ago gone out of print? And why would I want to?
He taught English for many years, but always considered himself a poet on extended sabbatical, and would recite his own verses from memory at the dinner table, in lieu of prayer. Any time he attended someone else’s reading he was just like Jolson, liable to react to an introduction from the audience by coming up and reciting a few verses of his own, as the featured reader receded into a nearby glass of wine. His poems may have been twenty years old, but he read them with a studied offhandedness, as if he’d composed them in the car on the way over.
He wasn’t writing much once I came along, but would give me everything first, soliciting only praise. My mother and I told him that every new thing was wonderful, but he dismissed all acolytes. He knew how much we adored him; this fact completely bored him. And so today my father has finally gotten what he always wanted—a huge audience where he is the sole topic of conversation. I’m sure you will share all your stories over the rest of the day and they will amaze those of us who thought we knew him at least somewhat well. He will be disappointed if at least some of you don’t think he was an absolute shit.
My father approached the world as a Great Man would, packing up whenever necessary to serve his muse, considering debts to be merely advisory, leaving lovers in his wake, along with one bookish daughter who adored him, even as she catalogued every self-serving lie. Of course, he abandoned me too, but forgiveness was automatic whenever reappeared, on his way to elsewhere. 
 My mother and I were mere footnotes in his life. Footnotes are important!, he replied.
It feels ghoulish to be doing this now, dad.
Say anything you want about me, he told me, as long as it isn’t boring (and for years thereafter, I thought he was the one who had come up with that line). Every piece of barroom wisdom he recited I forever attributed to him.
Of course I know that you’re going to talk about me after I’m gone. It’s natural for me to want to eavesdrop, on the first draft anyway, and I don’t expect you to conduct weekly séances to gather my advice. Your text is mostly fine as it is, just cut out the part about yourself; it’s too self-aggrandizing.
Well, dad, I have only one thing to say. It was never boring.
You would know, dad.
So thank you, wherever you are. We raise our glasses to you!
They’re not here to see you, sweetie. He always addresses me as if I’m 11 years old, not 43. They’re there to gossip about what a bastard I was, until they reach a pleasant level of drunkenness.
So what do you think?
I’ll remember that. I don’t want to think about you being gone!
Remarkable, my dear. A splendid first draft. Now all we need is a little more squalor. Don’t forget the story of the ballerina and the fire escape.
Don’t worry. I’m not intending to leave any time soon. I’m still in the most vigorous of health.
I always hated that story. My father is staying in a hotel and hears a beautiful woman’s voice coming from next door. He knocks on the door that separates her room from his and finds a beautiful Russian ballerina. They are in the middle of an intimate pas de deux when her foolish husband arrives and my father is forced to make a halfnaked shimmy down the fire escape. The story was so well-formed, I always assumed it apocryphal, and besides, I always wondered about the other people who weren’t in it. Would they find it funny too?
I was barely holding it together, seeing him there in an oversized hospital bed, a freeze dried version of himself. I needed to get out of there, to release my dammed-up tears. Shit, I’ve got to go, I said, as I pretended to consult my watch. I said it a few times, in different phrasing. He wouldn’t let go of my hand. Eventually I leaned over his bed and kissed him. I tell the nurses about you. My daughter Jess is a writer, I say. She’s writing my eulogy. They just keep
poking me with needles. I’m just an art historian. You’re the writer in the family. He laughed, and then a fit of coughing overtook him, so violent it rattled his whole body. See what you’ve made me do. You put yourself here. All those cigars. I wanted to look older. Now I use them primarily for dramatic effect. My father fell into a coma that night and died a few days later, and so the first draft remained largely as it was, except for adding the story about the ballerina. Don’t check it, he’d say. Accept the magic. The eulogy was well received, though I wish the audience had heard it the way I did, in his voice, not my academic drone. A few of our more distant relations did conspicuously avoid me at the wake, assuming that my long-simmering bitterness might cause a scene. My father would have found it funny. He knew they wouldn’t get it. He never would have wanted to invite those people anyway.
Lady, You Shot Me 21 [Derran C. Demaree] He was made of thirteen moons & all of those prayers his reverend father offered up found only one moon at a time. He was made to swim widely in the galaxy & though he was made to be blunted in his prime, doesnâ€™t it feel like with each orbit of us all his arms appear to grow wider.
Lily Bouquet [Andi Mo] xiii
The Bureau of Happiness Statistics [Michael Koenig] The Agent arrived at the Young Man’s house at precisely 3 PM. The Young Man’s Mother greeted him warmly, offered him a cup of fresh instant coffee, and attempted to engage him in pleasant conversation. The Agent’s seven years of training had prepared him for this. He told the woman that he needed to get going. He had another appointment later in the afternoon.
teur and professional. The usual. The Young Man’s mother stood in the doorway, pretending to offer help. He asked her to leave, so that he could complete his work with Maximum Efficiency™. The Young Man’s mother agreed. The Agent works for the Bureau of Happiness Statistics, one of the less important government agencies, though all government agencies are equally important. Its mission is to seek to ensure happiness in all citizens and legally registered aliens by “combating memories, associations, fantasies, sentimental objects, or other materials that would threaten long-term happiness.”
The Agent made note of the fact that this was a Voluntary Memory Adjustment (VMA). The Young Man was getting married in a few days, and he needed to purge sentimental objects or other materials that could become impediments to Total Fulfillment™. (This process was voluntary because the Young Man had volunteered to do it. For those who exercise their choice not to volunteer, the process is mandatory under the Keep Our Families Together Act (KOFTA).)
In recent years, the Bureau has been tasked with implementation of the Leader’s “Marriage is Forever” campaign. Divorces have not been made illegal, but there are no divorce providers in most parts of the country. Exceptions are sometimes made upon rare occasions, such as “rape, incest, or the safety of one of the marital participants.”
We are an aggregation of animal desires, the Leader once said. We all must elevate ourselves.
Exceptions are made sometimes, but no one with half a brain ever requests them.
After a few more moments of chatter, the Agent made his way to the Young Man’s room. Even though much of the subject material was hidden, he quickly found it all—diaries, love text messages, sentimental photographs, videos of young women in various states of undress, both ama-
The Young Man’s Mother returned a few minutes later as the Agent was tearing the posters down from the wall. The room had been
stripped nearly bare and the Young Man’s archaic possessions were sorted into color-coded receptacles. The Agent thanked the Young Man’s mother for her cooperation and instructed her to repaint the room and replace the sheets from the Young Man’s bed.
(Of course he could never tell anyone about these
He noted that the Young Man’s Mother was cry-
day called factsaboutourleader.gov.
doubts. Not even his fiancée.) And now a brief commercial message: There’s a website that everyone I know visits every
Did you know that the Leader became a vegetarian at age 16 in an effort to renounce all worldly desires?
Think of it as a kind of amnesty, he told her. Like being born again.
That Size 36 became the standard men’s pants size because that’s the size the Leader wears?
The Agent had finished in less than ten minutes.
That the Leader believes that all persons are equal, but
He noted the time in his journal and lay down in
few are endowed with True Maximum Leadership™?
the Young Man’s bed. This was his third and final appointment of the day. Sometimes he
That the Leader’s childhood home is now a state-
found the job exhausting. The competition was
brutal, and he was getting a reputation for being
That the Leader assumed his leadership upon the acci-
too liberal, turning a blind eye to potential happi-
dental poisoning of his bitterest rival?
ness violations. That the Leader once said “Murder by an individual is Ultimately, the Agent’s goal was to provide a
heinous. Murder by the state is essential.”?
good home for his fiancée and their expected children. He was just trying to find the middle way, where he didn’t have to do anything that
The Agent carried the articles back to the Bureau,
his heart didn’t believe in, but still fulfill his du-
in accordance with standard procedure. This pro-
tocol provides the Young Man with an elevated
At least according to the Bureau of Happiness Statistics.
level of discretion and gives the Agent access to state-of-the-art destructive facilities.
I wish I would never hear that name again.
As soon as the Agent arrived at the office, he
The Agent paused as he pondered his reply. And
pitched all of the subject materials into the appro-
then he continued.
priate incinerators and turned the heat up to its maximum setting. And then the Agent shed a
Don’t worry, dear, it’ll all be over soon.
cold tear as he watched his own life burn.
Tell me you love me.
And when it was over, the Agent returned to his
I can’t. I’m at the office.
office and called his fiancée to ask her how her own purge was going. The Agent and Agent
I know. So am I.
Marlene were going to be married in four days, as soon as they completed a minor memory-related medical procedure.
The wedding was beautiful, as all weddings are.
The Agent initiated the dialogue.
And whatever lingering doubts the Agent’s
Mother might have had about the memory proceHow’d it go?
dure were quickly washed away.
Pretty good. You?
The Agent and his Wife moved to a spacious
starter home, only 25 miles from Headquarters. And within a few years, they both received their
I haven't stopped crying all day.
It will be worth it, my darling.
Their marriage was a good marriage, and their lingering agonies vanished with their pasts.
Are you sure?
Except for a few occasions when the Agent would encounter a familiar stranger on the street, an incidental touch, a random smile and somehow an appetizer of memory, even though memory is gone. But then the moment passesâ€Ś
Pensive Derelict [Andi Mo] xviii
Of Spontaneous Late Night Spa Talks [Sakura Rapolu] bathrobe made of midnight silver hair spiked with ice though jets stop bubbling, fascination propels itself. speech laced in prose
popcorning ideas in mental microwave without a place to press pause. streaming tales of his Trials ones that heâ€™s told before but siphoned with the taste of my inquiry. my toes prune, questions drying up
as I expire my end of the conversation and commit to the role of the sponge pores embrace bladework of hand-sharpened metal. reminds me a floating star that I am so lucky to shine.
Brother Death, a poem for you [Debasis Mukhopadhyay] I had no reason and you can cry Here is where I yielded and the death hurried to breathe into my mouth Here is where I broke my skull and my day dreams slithered down the dripping rose Here is where I shuddered in my ribcage and here is where a herd of white ibis is fluttering around I came to pass and you can draw me in A yesterday, then nothing. I had no reason and you can gaze on Here is where I killed my mother and the dreams blurred all passages to her view Here is where I died in me and my best friend too swelled his shirt with blood and dawn Here is where I'm yet again to die and here is where the dawning birds are cooped up in my carcass I live on and you can think of wood anemones A yesterday, then nothing. I had no reason and you can mumble
Here is where I didn't think of tomorrows and my body luffed up in time Here is where I called on the bike to stagger across the fog and the silly sky kept waiting in the expressway split Here is where I got head ran over by truck wheels and here is where death keeps me warm I remember and you can fit me in your poem A yesterday, then nothing.
transparent boundaries [Mary Schmidt] Time-piece artistry reveals an unceasing pace that settles in contour and in glass. Each grain implores the reckoning of every second, minute, hour. Carefree yet careful, shifting sands deliver undefined lines. Inverted, unearthed motions of desire capture her hour glass time. Still, when consumed there is no wait, measurement, or constraint.
Ultra-Future Deranged Hobo [Eugene Chun] xxii
Sirens of Summer [Anushree Nande] The old neighbourhood was nearly unrecognisable. Most of the two-storey houses and front lawns that had lined Main Street were replaced by taller apartment buildings and trendy boutiques. The park where their classmate, Beth, had broken three of her teeth after going down the slide the wrong way, was now much smaller, hemmed in by parking lots, and the pond behind the gym no longer had any ducks that attacked you if you didn’t have any bread for them. Even cranky old Mrs. Donaldson’s exposed brick and peeling paint charity shop had been converted into a grocery store with an attached café imaginatively named Le Café.
opened after some resistance. For a split second, it was almost possible to believe that he was free of the ghosts that haunted the old Anderson cinema. They had crawled under his vulnerable skin all those years ago and clung to every cell until there was nothing else left.
“C’mon Jay, you’ve wanted to as much as I do.” Tim always moved with a swift, restless energy that his body hadn’t yet grown into. A scrawny boy with blonde hair and skin so pale that it appeared translucent, he was the opposite of his best friend, Jay, who was lanky and lean with dark hair and permanently tanned skin, courtesy of some foreign blood on his mother’s side.
As Jay walked past the occupied tables on the pavement, he overheard a group of adolescents discussing their plans to go to a music festival a few towns away. He was rather surprised to have actually heard of some of those bands. Maybe he wasn’t as outdated as he’d thought. Out of habit, he walked all the way to the end of the next block before remembering that Tim had moved a year after Jay and his mother had. Jay sighed and stopped. He didn’t know anyone anymore; what was he doing back here?
“Anyway, I’ll tell you all about it later …” Tim paused, bouncing on the balls of his feet. “Or maybe I’ll take one of my orchestra friends.” He started to walk away, but Jay could tell by his tense, hunched shoulders that he was trying hard not to turn around. It was only a few weeks ago that Jay and Tim had heard about the abandoned, haunted cinema on the outskirts of their town. The most exciting thing that had happened before in their twelve years was the installation of a gaming arcade behind the only hotel in town. So naturally, this was discussed and dissected until it went from being local history to irrefutable legend.
His feet led him to the only place in town that was still the same - off the corner of what used to be called Farmer’s Lane, surrounded by seemingly endless fields. It hadn’t aged a day, much less the five years that had passed. Jay paused just inside the chipped grey and green door that
Every summer after that, it became their secret headquarters. The old structure was still sturdy, though ill-maintained, with faded velvet curtains now heavy with dust that activated alarming sneezing fits when one ventured into their vicinity. The walls were scarred where the fire had licked it before being put out, but the heavy wooden door was unlocked and easy to open.
“People say that they got tired of travelling the world and moved back here, where they were born. Amelia had inherited some money from a distant aunt and they decided to build a cinema in her memory.” Tim’s voice had deepened, but he was still as scrawny as ever. He continued, “Mum swears that the Andersons were cursed because of a witch they had met on their travels. Despite the bad luck and near-fatal accidents that plagued this building, it was the only cinema in town and people still came. Until the fire.”
They spent hours exploring the hidden staircases, the sooty film reels, and the crackling paper of posters that still clung to the inside walls. They lay on their backs on the torn, but comfy, sofa seats and took turns to make up stories about the surprisingly shiny mosaics on the ceiling with their intricate detailing and Greek myths. Jay’s favourite was the one about the Sirens. He imagined their songs and wondered what future they would show for him. As the years went by, he increasingly wondered whether those poor trapped sailors had felt the same irresistible tug that erased all sense and logic and slowly consumed them.
Tim lowered his voice even further and theatrically motioned Jay ahead. “Rumour has it that the Andersons committed arson because they were in deep debt. But they never expected the fire to spread as fast as it did.” That night, Jay couldn’t close his eyes without seeing the hazy faces of Amelia and Merlin – melting, charred, voiceless. In his dreams, they contorted their faces until they turned into horrible amalgamations of bird and women, their achingly melodic voices pulling him deeper. In the morning, his parents sat him down to tell him that they were getting divorced and that he would move with his mum to her parents’ home within a month. Every night after that, he lost a part of himself to the continuing nightmares until he felt two-dimensional, a pearly ghost
One time they found a programme from the opening night of the cinema, although it was hard to see anything but the fuzzy black and white faces of a man and a woman. It was a few days later that Tim told him about Merlin and Amelia Anderson.
in the bright July sunlight.
“My grandparents don’t live that far away. Maybe I can come and visit some weekend to keep you company through your physiotherapy.”
The more Tim grew away from the Anderson place, and drifted towards his orchestra friends, the more time Jay spent there alone, wandering about in the abandoned cinema hall, the increasingly insistent voices tip-toeing around the edges of his already feverish imagination. The more Tim was concerned about Jay’s unhealthy obsession, the more Jay let himself be sucked in by the bleakness that now permeated everything in his life. On the night of Tim’s birthday, Jay woke up coughing in the soot that still remained within those walls. His head was aching, his mouth was dry, and he suddenly felt all alone.
But even then Jay knew that the best of his intentions would always be overridden until he decided to stand up to the siren song in his head. “I hope you’ll be happy one day” was the last thing his best friend had said before Jay left town.
Now as Jay made his way through the remains of that chandelier, the dust and crushed glass masked the sound of his footsteps. His skin prickled from the echoes that had sounded here with no audience. He turned on the flashlight of his phone and looked up. The Sirens were still there, a bit rusted, but watching him. It was their whispering voices that finally made him admit why he was back here, on the eve of his university orientation. Jay walked towards where he remembered that particular sofa to be. There was a compartment at its bottom that he and Tim had used for secret messages and random scraps. But now there was nothing there, only gravel and layers of fine dust. A small part of him had hoped that Tim had returned after he’d recovered. He suddenly felt like lying down and taking a nap when his phone vibrated in the hushed silence. His own reflection stared back at him from the locked screen of his phone.
“I’m so sorry for everything. Happy 16th. One last hurrah at you-know-where?” That night, the fires of Merlin and Amelia were wiped away by the unexpected crash of the chandelier, the splinters of its multi-coloured glass bulbs, and the small, barely moving form of Tim as Jay willed his muscles to move towards the bones that stuck out from his best friend’s shin and elbow. The next thing he remembered was Tim on a hospital bed, the entire left side plastered in place, his energy finally tethered, at least until the long recovery ahead. Jay’s guilt at what he perceived was his fault hadn’t allowed him to look at Tim for more than a minute.
“Should I expect you for dinner? Hope you’re okay. Much love, Mum.” Jay looked up at the ceiling one last time. Would the shadows of unhappy souls always lie in wait for him? If the Sirens knew his future, they weren’t telling him, not anymore. Outside, he stretched and squinted in the sunshine. As he retraced his steps from earlier that day, he felt the last part of himself dissipate into the muggy August humidity. Now he was nothing, nobody, in a town he no longer recognised.
The harsh afternoon sun bounced off of the white-washed church as Jay crossed the road to Le Café. Rain clouds were drifting ominously closer, but he sat down on a table outside, facing the cemetery where Merlin and Amelia Anderson were buried. “I hope you’ll be happy one day.” It was over three years ago since Jay had called to say that he was leaving for a volunteer camp in Peru and congratulated Tim on getting a scholarship to study biology and genetics at university. Jay raised the coffee glass to his old friend at the other end of the country. “Happy birthday, Tim.”
Eureka [Jacquelin Ho]
Ekphrastic Composition [mary schmidt] Saturated with prismatic wet bodies stain with desire flesh blushes pink. Flames of red and orange paint the skin with intense heat like a copper sun. Submerged in hues of blue and green flesh evolves into sapphire seas bathe with expressive discovery.
Without a Trace [Rupal Nigam] Black. The color of the unknown and thus a color of safety. Black: associated with darkness and fear, but for her, at that moment and all moments like it, black was safety. Not having to see; not having to know; never having to know.
Some nights, one can see the little pinpricks of light that pierce through it, but today they were not there. Her eyes shifted back to the right. The dim blue light read 3:47 am. 3:47 am.
Sometimes it’s best that way.
For a second, she couldn’t breathe. A train full of memories had hit her, dumping all of its contents into her mind. Memories that had the blades of knives. They cut through her, leaving her shocked and in pain.
She opened her eyes. Still black, but at least in a familiar place now. The warmth of the blankets half off the bed and half on her did nothing to stop her shaking. How could it, when it had nothing to do with the temperature?
It had been exactly a year ago since her life had ended, marking the anniversary of when she had last seen him. The last time she had felt the safety of his eyes. His black eyes.
Her agile frame swiftly rose up without making a noise, not even bothering to fix the blankets and sheets. The dim blue light of her alarm clock pierced her eyes, but she did not wince or flinch. There are much worse ways to feel pain.
Black is safety.
Silently moving down the stairs like a feather brushing against a Persian carpet, she forced her tears back into her eyes for the umpteenth time that week. Crying had always intrigued her as there was no proper explanation for why it occurred. It is something completely unnecessary and all things unnecessary should not have a place in life. They are simply a waste of time.
Pain. Many associate pain with what you feel when you fall. That pain is psychological, like mostly all feelings, which can be easily overcome. Real pain is when you feel your heart being torn apart and your chest feels like a truck is running over it repeatedly, and there is nothing you can do about it. Especially since it is not physically being done.
Time. It is said that time is money. But that is not completely true. Time is what everybody needs, but what nobody can get. It is impossible to stop time; nor does time stop for anyone else.
On her left, in a certain angle through the slits of the window’s blinds, she could see the darkness that engulfed the world when the sun went down.
If one could control time what would become of life?
sorrow. She found that, to put bluntly, stupid and absolutely unnecessary.
She did not need a single light even though it was pitch black. She embraces the dark, and the dark embraces her. It is a part of her, just like he is. After all, black is safety.
And all things unnecessary do not have a place in this world. Being sure not to wake a single person up, she opened the door and diffused into the freezing fresh air. The cold never affected her; and especially today it wouldn’t. Checking the reflection in the mirror of the green digital microwave clock, it took all of her remaining patience to shut the door behind her noiselessly.
Her eyelids lowered and she felt her thick lashes brush against her cheeks. She could feel him next to her; hear his heartbeat. That steady sound always made her feel comforted and safe. But today it was rudely interrupted by the memory of the sound of his screams. That sound made her want to rip her ears out and scream out loud herself.
Then she let herself explode. She ran barefoot, not because she did not have patience to put on shoes, but because that is the way she liked it. The way the cool ground hit her feet. The way she could fly through the air, barely in contact with the ground, almost like a bird without making noise.
Pain. There is a time when a person feels like a ticking bomb. Ready to explode. Like magma builds up inside of a volcano, anger and all other feelings build up inside one’s body, just waiting to be let out.
Feelings. Emotions. She had always felt that people in general didn’t know what real emotions were like. Perhaps that’s why they thought her to be heartless, without sympathy, and so forth. But it is not her fault. How is one supposed to show sympathy when a girl breaks her nail or a guy gets his new shoes stepped on? Mumbling an apology seemed a bit much to begin with, but they expect you to cry with them; to share their
As they say, nothing good lasts forever. After only about a minute she had to stop before it got too bad. Her chest felt like the entire world's weight was on it, and oh, it hurt so much to breathe. Every breath felt like sharp swords being drawn in and out of her from all sides and even her shirt- two sizes too big for her- felt tight and closing in on her.
But pain, like most all feelings, is psychological. At least she knew this pain would go away soon. But the other one would not. And never would.
But they’re wrong. She didn’t have anymore hope for anything whatsoever. There’s only hope when people have something to look forward to, something to live for. She didn’t have any of those things, and she doubted she ever would.
She stood at the edge of the bridge for awhile, away from the streetlights under the moonless night, breathing the icy air in and out, ignoring the hell-like pain in her chest. It had been exactly a year ago since she had last seen him, last been in his arms, last heard his heart beating.
Her eyes caught the silver ripples of the saltinfused water that aggressively roared beneath her. Judging by the surrounding grayscale buildings, she must have been around 200 meters above it. Heights had always had a magnetic effect on her; drawing her closer and closer. She loved being on the edge with nothing but vast space all around her, engulfing her.
Regret ran through her now as if she had been injected with it. Regret that she had not done something, anything, to have had more time with him before it happened. But what has been done is done and now that the moment had passed. There was nothing anyone could do to change it. This reality stared at her from the gray gravestone that stood on the other side of the harbor.
And engulf her it did, with open arms, and without a trace.
Turning her back to the patch of haunting grass, she swallowed this truth. The only thing that would return to her were the nightmares. Not him. Never him. It was foolish to hold on to that hope. Hope. What is hope? When people are in depths of despair, they still have hope. That single beacon of light that they foolishly cling on to and never let go. There’s always hope. That’s what everyone is told.
Jerusalem [Jacquelin Ho] xxxii
I See London, I See Paris [Michelle Kim] Life was a train station - a chaotic, blurry, screwed up train station. You choose where you want to go, you get on, you get off, you board another train.
Harrison let his gaze linger on the train for a moment, feeling eerily calm. Until a flash of auburn hair made him stand there and stare for four seconds of infinity.
(Maybe sometimes your train takes you to the wrong destination and you have to take another train back. He certainly felt like it, over and over and over, until his head hurt and his heart ached.)
A passing professional jostled him with a sharply cut shoulder, muttered a curse in French, and pushed Harrison out of his thoughts. His mind was cleared of memories again - he had not come here to ponder the past. He was here to move on to the future; his future.
It was odd, sitting there on that train seat that day. He knew that he was on the train - he could feel the cool slippery seats beneath his fingers, they grounded him to his spot, he wouldnâ€™t float away with the past - and yet, he could see himself on the platform and he could see himself on the train.
(She could not take that from him as well.) The crowd around him jostled him back and forth, neither noticing him nor caring much for him. It was comforting to be able to disappear like that.
Disconcerting at best, inducing nausea at worst.
So, from then on out, he moved with the crowd and followed the crowd and acted with the crowd. And all along, a bright white light led him to the exit and finally, the world.
Rubbing his bleary eyes, Harrison placed his glasses back onto his face. He hated them - they were such a burden - but they did their job infuriatingly well. He watched the train pull into the bustling station, and helped himself off. Glancing back at the machine, he took a moment to appreciate the silver and thick midnight blue stripe, modern curves that sharpened the air.
Yes, Paris easily encompassed the world. Harrison breathed in the air of Paris. It tasted of the sharp bitter tobacco that the Parisians loved to smoke, the melting butter of the bakeries, the sour car exhaust, and the proud oldness of the city.
(It was much better than those awful, claustrophobic metal cages that roared and screeched like monsters. Growing up in the city had been such a pain.)
(Really, all of the cities they’d visited had reeked of oldness. It spilled from the cracks in the sidewalk; it dripped from the windows; it clung to the roofs.)
ing for a while. He had no place to go, no reservations, no hotel. The briefcase was fairly light, anyway. That was why he’d bought it from that trashy little antiquity store in Madrid.
He felt overwhelmed by Paris. He also hated it.
(He hated Madrid, too.)
She’d loved it though. Paris had loved her and she had loved Paris. The city was her namesake, the one place that she’d most wanted to visit.
He kept going until he reached the public square Place des Pyramides, the map had read - as a tiny yellow French taxi zoomed through without a double glance. It didn't recognize how important the golden statue was - or, if it did, it had different reasons.
Now, he walked its streets alone, a stranger to the ones around him. Sometimes he wondered what would happen if he picked a sidewalk daisy and gave it to a nice person passing. But no, that was too Paris a thing to do.
Harrison looked up into the stern face of Saint Jeanne d’Arc. She was mounted atop a golden steed, carried a golden flag, and wore a golden grimace. Her long, golden hair was pulled back from her face and her golden armor shone dimly in the fading sun.
Harrison had tried to pin-point where they’d gone wrong numerous times. It was strange - they were so happy together and then they weren’t. Years had passed, and he still couldn’t wrap his head around a life without her.
Everything was just so gold.
(He’d taken her to Paris. He'd taken her to Paris.)
The golden sun had kissed Paris’ face as the wind had teased her auburn braid. She’d been complaining about having not packed sunglasses ("Well, I didn't know that I was going to Paris, and Northern Europe is really cold, ok?") and was trying to convince him to peek in the nearest tourist drug store, until she’d glanced at the map.
And now that he was traveling solo, he was able to realize how useless he was without her - even though Harrison was the one with the wallet, Paris was always the one who planned their trips and guided him from place to place and read him the signs and picked out the monuments. Lost in blurry memories, Harrison went on walk-
Then dragged him a good mile or two all the way to the Places des Pyramides, even as he insisted that the statue wouldn’t be leaving anytime soon and good grief, could you yank my arm out of its socket anymore?
“I’ve heard that’s one of my redeeming qualities,” Harrison quipped with a grin, wishing that his thick framed glasses would stop falling down his nose. It was getting uncomfortable, and outrageously awkward. Who knew hand-holding could be so awkward?
He tilted his head slightly; he leaned back against a nearby column, rubbed his dark, tired eyes.
“No, really,” Paris said, backtracking suddenly, “Jeanne d’Arc is amazing. She was courageous and did what she thought was right. I wish…” She hesitated, turned away slightly. “Ach, nevermind.”
When Paris first took his hand, it was here. She observed Jeanne from the columned building across from the statue. First, from a close distance, then further back. Then she reached forward again, then she shuffled back. Paris did this a few times, to the point where it was starting to irritate Harrison, until she took his hands in her calloused ones.
Harrison squeezed her hands. “You can tell me anything, you know that, right?” He'd thought they were in each others’ complete confidence, after all those weeks. They were friends. Friends did stuff like that. “Right, right, yes, of course.” She took a deep breath, paused, struggled for a moment. “Ok. Um. Traveling across Europe with you has been amazing, it really has. But I feel like maybe something’s missing from my life.” She said this with an apologetic wince.
“She’s amazing,” Paris sighed, but smiling all the same. (She always smiled - happily, confusedly, disappointedly, frostily, proudly.) “I wish I could be like Jeanne.” Harrison studied her grey eyes, which were wide and dull but reflected the gold statue perfectly.
“Missing?” “A goal. An occupation. A meaning. I don’t know, I honestly don’t know,” Paris babbled, stopping only when she found Harrison giving her the most idiotic grin. “What?” she huffed. "I'm being honest."
(No, not perfectly, she hated the word. Brilliantly.) “What,” Harrison laughed, tried to laugh it off, because suddenly he was so unbelievably nervous and probably sweaty, too, “you want to lead all the hobos of France into battle?”
"Being honest is good," he murmured, tugging her forward gently, his heart pounding in his throat.
Paris made a face. “You’re so unromantic.” She didn’t
"Yeah," she trailed off, the light freckles dusting her cheeks glowing in the setting sun, "Harrison...I..." And to his surprise, her wide grey eyes began to water.
ously, furiously wiping away at her puffy eyes. “Nah,” he leaned in closer, “I actually know so.” He gave himself a mental high-five at that. And then he realized that both her hands were in his again and that she was an inch away from his face.
He pulled away and started panicking again, wanting to touch her face to brush away the sudden tears but not being sure if that was appropriate. (It probably wasn’t.) "Did I say something? I'm so sorry, Paris, I didn't mean-"
Paris' breath hitched and their faces were close so close and her beautiful grey eyes fluttered shut and she pushed his glasses up and they ignored the taxis honking and the catcalling. Because they were here, together together and they were kissing in the streets of Paris.
"No," Paris interrupted quickly, her voice choking. She quickly blinked the tears from her eyes, and let go one hand to wipe them away with a sweater sleeve. "Sorry. I'm just being silly." "You're not silly," he told her firmly, “you’re anything but.”
He looked back up to the Maiden of Orléans. She was grim and weary, her gold a fake shield against the world. Jeanne was not as amazing for him as she’d once been for Paris.
Paris dropped both hands now, the tears falling faster than before. She avoided his gaze now, choosing to stare up at Saint Jeanne. "Then how do you explain this mess?" she asked shakily, jerking her head slightly, as if meaning herself.
But there was another statue, in London. Harrison liked London much more; there was something mysterious and magical and ancient that settled in its fog and buildings. Harrison and Paris had gone to London before Paris, because Harrison was a right stubborn jerk and he didn’t know why Paris even stuck with him.
“You're not silly,” he repeated, and, surprising himself (and her, as well) with his forwardness, he added quickly, “I think I really like you and, uh, I wouldn’t fall for someone completely silly." He tried for a smile, and ended up with a crooked, worried grin.
He closed his eyes and let his memories drag him back to Piccadilly Circus, where they were walking side-by-side. Her cheeks were pink, he re-
But at least she'd stopped crying. “You think?” Paris could only manage, turning slightly pink, smiling nerv-
membered, and she was bouncing excitedly despite her protests to being in the city.
didn't notice, as she was busy staring agog at the famous statue at Piccadilly Circus.
When Harrison first saw her in color, it was there.
"It's gorgeous," Paris breathed excitedly, thin threaded vapors poofing from her mouth like smoke.
“London is so boring,” Paris sighed. “Why couldn’t we just go to Paris first?”
Harrison scratched his head with his free hand, mindlessly adjusting his ski cap. "It's an angel?" Everything was kind of fuzzy without his glasses.
“‘Cause you chose Brussels last time.”
Paris punched his arm well-meaningly. "It's a gorgeous angel, idiot. It's Eros," she added as an afterthought. "Y'know, Cupid. The chubby baby that shoots people with arrows to create love.”
“Because it was closer than Paris!” Paris exclaimed, tucking a deep brown lock behind her ear. It took her a few tries, though, as her hair was slick with the summer rain.
You're the gorgeous one, he wanted to say, but he would be lying. Her thick auburn hair was pulled back at the nape of her freckle-splotched neck, covered by a messy fringed scarf that did nothing to flatter her.
Harrison nudged her with his elbow, a shiver running down his spine on contact. (Stupid, stupid, stupid, stupid.) They were friends. Nothing more, nothing less. “That’s a dumb reason. If you want so badly to go to Paris, then just go.”
But it gave her more color. He loved her color - it was in the way her voice fluctuated as she spoke, and the way she moved as she walked, and the way she shone as she laughed, and caved when she cried. She was so human that it was beautiful. He loved it.
"But you didn't want to," Paris pointed out, linking their arms. "and I can't imagine why; it's so wet in London." The linking of their arms was a casual movement, likely something that Paris had barely thought about. Like something she did with her friends all the time.
He loved her. He loved her when she admired the angel - Eros, whatever - at Piccadilly Circus, because she was happy and that's when she shone the brightest.
But it made Harrison feel the warm-fuzzies and skip his heart a beat and feel slightly dizzy in the head. It was strange that so small an action could affect him on such a large scale.
When Harrison fell in love with her, it was there.
"Harrison?" "Hm-? Oh, sorry, just lost in thought." He casually adjusted his linked elbow, holding his breath. Paris
because they were happy and safe. And also because Manneken Pis was pissing into the fountain behind them.
He picked up his briefcase - it had fallen to the floor at some point, he hadn't realized when - and strode past Jeanne. She was just another empty statue now, just like Eros and all the rest that theyâ€™d visited.
3. London, England. Where he'd fallen in love. Paris and Harrison, she smiling happily into the camera but he, his mind somewhere else, possibly on the girl beside him. Eros flew ahead and behind and over.
Harrison gripped the briefcase tightly once more, and he kept walking and he never turned back, never once.
4. Paris, France. Where they'd realized each other. Paris and Harrison, holding hands with bright eyes, a kind passing elderly couple taking their photo and reminiscing about when they were young and freshly in love. Saint Jeanne d'Arc watched over them.
A few moments later and he was at the River Seine, which was fairly empty at this time (at this spot, anyway). Heâ€™d chosen a bridge at random - a small, empty one. There was no significance to it.
5. Madrid, Spain.
Without hesitation, Harrison opened the briefcase, and with cold finality, took out the manila folder that held his past.
He hated the last one. Don Quixote was attending the last one, and Harrison knew that it marked him a fool. Quixotic, to put it plainly.
Harrison viciously ripped out the five photos which scared him, he was usually mildmannered, but no, he was seeing too much white to neither care nor stop - and stared at them, crumpled in his fist.
He'd thought that he and Paris could work. That they'd, what, fall in love and travel around Europe by train forever? Looking back on it, it was a foolish dream. Nothing good can last forever, especially once you've had too much of it.
1. Copenhagen, Denmark. Where they'd met. Paris and Harrison, grinning shyly at her iPhone camera. The Little Mermaid in the background, and an angry Asian tourist peeking at the corner.
Paris had realized something in front of Jeanne d'Arc, she'd told him later. The first was that she loved him (which made his heart burst and thump against his chest wildly) and the second was that she had no purpose.
2. Brussels, Belgium. Where they'd become friends. Paris and Harrison, making funny faces at the camera
Everyone is hurt over heartbreak. Why should yours be so different? Jeanne's cold gold face appraised him.
She was going to leave him, she'd said. She would leave him and let him live his life because this was just one summer anyway, who were they kidding? They had no jobs and no money. The money for train tickets was supposed to go towards their college; they were wasting it up.
Because we really did love each other. I know that she loved me. We had something real, something that she took away.
(She didn't mean that last part. Harrison's family was filthy rich and they had more money than they could ever spend. Which was why they never noticed all of the charges on Harrison's credit card - or if they did, they never asked.)
So it's the fault of Paris, then. No. Yes. I don't know. I don't think it is, Jeanne said wisely. Harrison responded by tearing her in half and shredding her carefully before tossing her in the Seine.
If we continue to travel like this, Paris said vaguely, distantly, then we're holding ourselves back. Maybe, in different times, we could afford to be romantic.
The rest of the photos soon followed.
But not in these.
When he returned to the train station late that night with an empty briefcase, he was neither here nor there. He was grounded on the silverand-blue train, as he was relying on it to take him to a better place. Somewhere far away.
A sudden pain clenching his throat, Harrison neatly ripped the Madrid photo in half, slicing a clean line down Don Quixote's noble face. He did the same to the Little Mermaid, who mourned the loss of a good love, and to stupid little Manneken Pis. Eros was easier to rid of than Harrison had thought, and so he hesitated with the last, with Jeanne.
(Not home, he couldn't have a home, not after Paris and the new home she'd given him and pried away from him.
Should you have really let her go? Jeanne whispered. Why didn't you chase her? Why didn't you stay in contact?
Harrison was done with Paris.)
I was lost in love, Harrison thought, and I was hurt.
“Hi, my name is Paris. I’m here in Copenhagen for my pre-college bribe trip.” “Bribe trip?” “My go-to-college-honestly-don’t-be-a-chicken bribe trip. My parents think I’m lazy.” A grin. A laugh. “In that case, my name is Harrison and my parents sent me to Copenhagen because I have nothing better to do.” Paper-rough hands shake soft hands, firmly. A pause. “Well, you know where I really want to be, Harrison?” “Where?” Now they were both watching the mermaid before them, following her gaze into the shining blue depths below. “Paris.”
otherworldly [Reini Lin] you are the wind gathering as the sun falls, final vestiges of beauty. like fireflies in glass jars, phosphorescent, fleeting-lovely of light refracted. your words
a foreign language, shaped clumsily on my tongue, the magic lost in translation. you are the marvelous transience of shipwrecks & meteorites, lightning in veins. you rumble & rain. the sky is your threshold, your tempest fingers pry open
the kingdom. your heart fits into the keyholes.
“The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away.” - Pablo Picasso
The Staff. REINI LIN | Founder & Editor-In-Chief Sixteen-year-old wordsmith, poetry scribbler, voracious reader, and aspiring novelist with a penchant for clever quotes, dystopian novels, and Oxford commas. Her work is published or forthcoming in Polyphony HS and the Dull Pencil Anthology. She holds positions on the editorial staff of her high school magazine and the Glass Kite Anthology.
RUPAL NIGAM | Founder & Prose Editor A pencil breaker, book hoarder, and midnight thinker, she mindlessly doodles in corners and recreates her life on paper. Her unbreakable habits include nibbling dark chocolate, testing the limits of her telescope, and torturing her punching bag. She has won district and state awards for her writing and refuses to add color. To anything.
MICHELLE KIM | Prose Editor Michelle is a book addict who blogs about books. Though an un-amusing comedian, she loves (awkwardly) laughing at mundane things like pillows, dinosaurs, and her dog. She edits for and contributes to the Dull Pencil Anthology, and has been awarded for her prose at a district level.
ALEXANDER WANG | Poetry Editor Alex is more of a math and science person. However, he uses writing as a welcome break from the often frustrating equations. In his spare time, he plays the bassoon and guitar, watches sci-fi/horror movies, and surfs AoPS. He has been awarded for his poetry and prose on a district and state level.
The Staff (cont). JACQUELIN HO | Art Editor Jackie focuses on oil painting, with about seven years of training with pencil and charcoal. In the past year she has won awards on both the district and regional level for her oil paintings. In addition to these media, she has experience with color pencil, acrylic, pastel, watercolor, ink, and ceramics. As a huge fan of both Studio Ghibli and Marvel, she also loves design and architecture.
ANDI MO | Art Editor Andi has more than a decade of fine arts training. She has won awards in the district and international level such as finishing as a finalist in the 20th & 21st North American International Childrenâ€™s Painting contests. Her artwork was featured in the Contra Costa Times. She has taken courses in AP Studio Art and AP Art History, hosted her own drawing summer camp, and designed logos and flyers for local organizations. She plans to pursue a career in graphic design.
YAXIN LI | Social Media Manager A window-shopping fanatic, a lover of all things funny. Inspired by family, friends, and Karlie Kloss. She likes her papers to be neat and tidy and always has a planner at hand. Her mind is filled with random thoughts, surprising secrets, and silent dreams. Her ideal place to be? A room full of puppies and kittens.
The Contributors. In order of appearance. GLEN WILSON Glen Wilson lives in Portadown, Co Armagh with his wife Rhonda and children Sian and Cain. He has been widely published having work in The Honest Ulsterman, Foliate Oak, Iota, A New Ulster and The Interpreters House amongst others. In 2014 he won the Poetry Space competition and was shortlisted for the Wasafiri New Writing Prize. He is currently working on his first collection of poetry. Twitter: @glenhswilson. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
DEBASIS MUKHOPADHYAY Debasis Mukhopadhyay grew up in Calcutta, India and now lives in Montreal, Canada. He holds a PhD in literary studies from UniversitĂŠ Laval. He writes poetry in both Bengali & English. His debut collection of poetry in Bengali was published in 2005. Debasis' recent work has appeared or is forthcoming in Snapping Twig, Eunoia Review, Yellow Chair Review, With Painted words, Silver Birch Press, Of/With, and elsewhere.
EUGENE CHUN Mr. Eugene Chun was a Visual Communications major at Cornish College of the Arts in Seattle, Washington. He is a published creative fiction author and an aspiring professional visual artist. His short story entitled, 'The Problem with Madness', was published in The Rusty Nail literary magazine of the October 2012 issue. It was briefly on sale on Amazon and Barnes and Noble.
MICHAEL KOENIG Michaelâ€™s stories have appeared in recent issues of The MacGuffin, Harpur Palate, Drunk Monkeys, Literary Orphans, Hardboiled, and the Paterson Literary Review. His work has also been anthologized in Awake! A Reader for the Sleepless (Soft Skull Press) and The Shamus Sampler 2, an international detective fiction collection.
The Contributors (cont).
DARREN C. DEMAREE Darrenâ€™s poems have appeared, or are scheduled to appear in numerous magazines/journals, including the South Dakota Review, Meridian, The Louisville Review, Diagram, and the Colorado Review. He is the author of "As We Refer To Our Bodies" (2013, 8th House), "Temporary Champions" (2014, Main Street Rag), "The Pony Governor" (2015, After the Pause Press), and "Not For Art Nor Prayer" (2015, 8th House). He is the Managing Editor of the Best of the Net Anthology. He is currently living and writing in Columbus, Ohio with his wife and children.
SAKURA RAPOLU Sakura Rapolu is an exclusively non-rhyming poet who was born in Japan, raised in Hawaii, is ethnically Indian, and currently lives in a privileged bubble called San Ramon. Sakura is named after the Japanese cherry blossom that blooms every early spring. She hopes to hone in on her writing skills by continuing to observe the ever-changing and always-fascinating world around her.
MARY SCHMIDT Poetry has communicated with Mary the beauty of mystical nature, the search for meaning of life and death, the ecstasy of talking to the moon, the discovery of love that has no beginning or end, the feel of the wind on her skin, and the gift of touching the rain. In an attempt to break out of her inner cell of terrified privacy, Mary was encouraged to enter this arena of written and spoken word, giving her poems permission to immigrate into this larger world where they may live or not in relative peace.
ANUSHREE NANDE Anushree Nande is a Mumbai-based writer, editor and proofreader with MA & BA Creative Writing degrees from Edge Hill University. Her short stories, essays and poems are published on CommuterLit, When Women Waken, Flash Fiction Online, Litro, Thresholds among others. Anushree also writes about football, books, movies, TV. Her microfiction collection will be published by Underground Voices by end of 2015. Twitter: @AnuNande
A final thank you to everyone who participated in the creation of the magazineâ€”whether you submitted a piece, took a look at our website, or made any other kind gesture. Your support has been so great as to surpass value.
End of Fragments of Chiaroscuro, Volume I, Issue I. SEPTEMBER 2015.
FRAGMENTS OF CHIAROSCURO fragmentsofchiaroscuro.weebly.com email@example.com
VOLUME I, ISSUE I. SEPTEMBER 2015.
a lit & art mag dedicated to exploring the black, the white, and the shades between. published september 2015.
Published on Sep 29, 2015
a lit & art mag dedicated to exploring the black, the white, and the shades between. published september 2015.