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Rearview Mirror:

what we left beh ind

From the Depths SUMMER 2012


No portion of this periodical may be reproduced or used in any form; printed, electronic or mechanical, without the express permission of the publisher. The only exceptions are by a reviewer, who may quote short excerpts in a review, and to the contributing author to whom all rights to individual works revert back to the author sixty days following publication. From the Depths is a quarterly publication of Haunted Waters Press. Cover design by Susan Warren Utley. “Rearview Mirror” is a derivative work of Robert J. Lawhead’s Polaroid transfer, “Blue Street” and Susan Warren Utley’s photo “Buick.” © 2012 Works contained herein are works of fiction. Characters, incidents, and dialogue are drawn from the author’s imagination. Any resemblance to any actual places, events, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental. Printed and published in the United States of America. First Printing: June 2012 For more information please visit: http://www.hauntedwaterspress.com Or email us at: editor@hauntedwaterspress.com From the Depths is a quarterly literary journal released in the months of March, June, September, and December in digital format, and periodically in print form. All submissions should be sent through our online submission manager. Please visit the Haunted Waters Press website to review our submission guidelines. This publication is made possible through the hard work and determination of the contributing editorial staff who gave their time so generously. Funding and support for Haunted Waters Press provided by The Man. Thank you for encouraging us to follow our dreams.

Rearview Mirror: what we left behind

Copyright © 2012 HAUNTED WATERS PRESS. All Rights Reserved.


From the Depths SUMMER 2012 FOUNDING EDITORS Savannah Renée Warren Susan Warren Utley FEATURE EDITOR “PENNY FICTION” Penny Dreadful CONTRIBUTING EDITORS Donna Parkman Coree Reuter Alec Spidalieri CREATIVE DIRECTOR Savannah Renée Warren DESIGN & LAYOUT Susan Warren Utley


contents

PAGE 10

BY LARRY GAFFNEY


54 37


Letter Fr om the E ditors


Dear Friends, No letter. Just a summer challenge to try new things, relive some special moments, and enjoy life. Here’s a little checklist to help you get started. ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! !

Read a classic. Write daily. Walk in a river. Sleep in a hammock. Try oysters...or eat more. Go barefoot. Take moments for yourself. Spend time with your loved ones. (You never know what the next season will bring.) Play like you are ten years old again. Think mud pies & catching frogs. Laugh often and smile more. Explore your world. ...but no hitchhiking. ...or picking up hitchhikers. ...ever.

Be safe & have a good one. Our best, Susan & Savannah


The Bathroom Sink The Bathroom Sink

by Anne M. Campbell I'm haunted by a robin's egg blue bathroom sink. Sometimes I see it in my dreams as if I am still standing there. The white counter with gold flecks, a nest made of polar board and vinyl. The silver taps with the temperatures worn off. The mirror with the medicine cabinet underneath, one side has his toothpaste and the other her hand cream. I can see the black spot on the edge of the blue sink where the enamel has worn through. Like cancer. I can hear the coughing, hacking sound of a man with emphysema. Other times, it's a kitchen table with a pattern my fingers itch to trace even though I can't remember what it looks like anymore. It involved swirls of gold in the corner and metal legs. "Put your hand on the table." If I do he will smack my hand with a teaspoon even though he told me to put my hand there. I tell him he is going to do it. He tells me he won't. I do it and he does. We both laugh. I remember the back of a white van covered in soft blue velvet. I don't remember what it looked like before he got to it, but I watch him put the upholstery in. The best times are when the bed is put together and you can ride around and lay down at the same time. If they let you. The van took us across the river to pick Saskatoons. She will make jam with them. It's the best jam. I love going even though I'm terrified of bees and bears. I've been assured these fears are ridiculous. Or maybe the fears came later. Once we came back with cucumbers, which I adored because I had learned they make pickles. The best times the van went in search of ice cream. Occasionally I hear the sound of Wheel going on the game system in the background. Me yelling out "I'd like to buy a vowel," followed by an energetic "P." My sister and I break into fits of giggles. The phone rings. It's our mother. We let her go to the hospital alone this time, even though it's four hours away now, because he's been dying so often but never seems to get around to doing it. Why worry when he's going to live forever? I hang up and immediately start to cry. My sister cries too, because sometimes despair isn't something that requires words. When I picture him now he's at that kitchen table even though it's been replaced by a new one. We talk about things he could never have known. When we sit here now we have coffee, even though he's dead and I don't drink coffee. I can hear his voice when he complains, "Oh, you're here again?" Even though he was the one who called so we would come over. And every time I wash my hands in my Grandmother's bathroom sink it feels like my Grandfather is home.

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9


B

boy

efore revisiting the place in my thirties, I remembered it as a jungle, or a primeval forest. In fact it was only a few acres of undeveloped woodlands a short distance from Main Street. You walked through a used car lot and down a tree lined path and suddenly the houses vanished, and there was a little stream and a couple of abandoned shacks. Almost every summer day my friends and I played army there, wearing fatigues and helmets, and Jimmy Williams even had a bandoleer he’d bought at the Army Navy store downtown. Our weapons were plastic rifles and machine guns produced by the Mattel Corporation. The scenarios—which I cannot recall in detail—borrowed elements from the war films we saw at Saturday matinees. We emulated the laconic speech and violent actions of our heroes, men like William Holden and Sterling Hayden and of course John Wayne. We played at shooting and being shot, and some of us died beautifully. There was capture, torture, escape. The rules were made up on the fly, with everyone falling easily into step. Candy cigarettes dangled from our lips, and we drank like desperate men—heads thrown back—from soda bottles which we then hurled to the ground as any drunken soldier would do. Sometimes after a day of pretend combat I would ask my father to tell me about the war. From a sense of paternal duty, I suppose, he would comply, but with little enthusiasm. In the Philippines he had contracted malaria, and recalled the terrible pendulum swings from raging fever to relentless shivering. One night as he lay in his sleeping bag something stung him on the head with what felt like the force of a hammer blow. A bout of amebic dysentery left him so weakened that he could not raise a spoonful of broth to his lips. On jungle paths he had seen corpses of Japanese soldiers in various states of decay. Certain members of his infantry unit habitually sliced ears and extracted gold teeth from these dead bodies. Once he witnessed such an extraction from a soldier who was not entirely dead. What did you do? I asked. There was nothing I could do but walk on, he said. This from a man who would rescue a drowning cricket from a puddle of water. He did not seem haunted by these events, had apparently relegated them to a quiet and dusty alcove of his mind. With indifference bordering on irritation he watched local news reports of veterans in regalia massing like rodents to commemorate D-Day or some other military milestone. He was never in doubt that the war had needed to be fought, that the enemy was demonstrably evil. He had no qualms about Hiroshima and Nagasaki. He would have been part of the invasion of Japan, he said, and might have perished if not for the A-bombs. A soldier in his twenties, he had celebrated victory like everyone else, getting drunk and kissing girls in the street. But now he was older, saw no glory in any of it, was glad to have left it behind. 10


by

LARRY GAFFNEY

Dave Bledsoe, Freeverse Photography Š2011

11


The

by Chaitali Sen


H

is shape was unremarkable, round and plump like a chicken, but his plumage! Luminous red feathers across his breast, his crown the color of lemons. The male golden pheasant resembled an expensive wind-up toy, as precious as a Fabergé egg. The breeder showed him a selection of hens, so plain they should have been of a different species. He chose one that would not detract too much from the extraordinary aesthetic contribution of the cock. Behind his house he built them an aviary and waited for them to mate. What a farce. The female changed her course every time the male approached. He followed, pathetically lovesick with his useless jewels, too slow and dimwitted to catch her. One day, as he tried to coax the pheasants into mating, his wife’s voice filled the aviary. He turned and saw her, looking as sad and lovely as she did on the day of their parting forty years ago. “You’re doing it all wrong,” she said. “It isn’t you.” “You’re burning them,” she said. “They need shade. They need vegetation to remind them of their natural habitat.” She followed the pheasants around the aviary while he wove palm fronds through the roof beams. He watched her from above, reassured by her gestures, her walk, the length and color of her hair and the well-worn blue dress he used to peel away from her dewy skin. Everything about her was more familiar to him than his own shriveling body. He touched the raised scar that ran the length of his right cheek. It had been there for forty years, but still he imagined himself without it. In the morning, his bones aching from the previous day’s labor, he lay in bed trying to remember a sequence of events from his childhood, questioning the compression of time that now made the events feel scripted. He was perhaps seven years old when his mother appeared to him in the middle of the night, through the haze that comes from a deep sleep interrupted. She took him to an abandoned corner of the house to show him, by candlelight, how to pry up the loose floorboard and retrieve the small velvet pouch filled with jewels. The next morning, as he wandered around the house calling for her, he found instead the cook’s daughter, who would one day tell him she was 13


by Chaitali Sen

The Aviary 14

born in that house, but he could not remember their first meeting in any other way. She told him what she had seen. His mother had put up a fight before his father dragged her into the car and drove away. The girl wrapped her fingers around his little fist while he cried. He slept with her and Cook in their bed until his father returned, alone, offering no explanation of his mother’s disappearance. The shade worked. In a day’s time the pheasants were courting like mad, the hen finally taking notice of the cock’s flamboyant gestures. He thought of the chickens they had when they were children. It was her chore to feed them and harvest their eggs. She learned how to slaughter them and how to breed them. After some searching, he found a picture of her on their wedding day. He had asked her to pose in the doorway of their apartment building, just before he carried her up the stairs and made love to her with the garland of jasmine she’d strung together the night before still on her head. He took another picture afterwards, her black hair adorned with crushed jasmine, her eyes penetrating the lens of the camera, seductively innocent. She was his garden nymph, his tower maiden. That photograph was so beautiful it seemed almost alive, as if it couldn’t bear to remain inanimate. Because she never allowed him to carry that one in his wallet, the one he held in his hand now was just a picture of her smiling dutifully, frustrating in its stillness. She didn’t return until many weeks later, after the first clutch of eggs had hatched and the hen was brooding another. She told him to pick them up and look at their irises. In that way he learned there were six pullets and five cocks. He had always known her to do this, to feed him mysteriously derived morsels of information at crucial times. When he worked as a photographic archivist at the government library, the only job he ever enjoyed, he’d developed a method of identifying the subject, date, or location of a photograph by separating it into quadrants in order to isolate even its most negligible details. He often brought the photographs home to her, knowing she would

come back to him with information about the architecture, the landscape, the clothing and hairstyles, anything that might be useful. It was mostly for their amusement. There was no financial reward for identifying every photograph. When he lost that job, she suggested he apply to the university. At the time she had been working in an elite private school. From what he could gather, her job consisted of cutting paper and cleaning up after wealthy kindergarteners, and perhaps this had given her a false sense of possibility. They had no money for university. That was obvious. “We can sell something of your mother’s,” she argued. Somehow she’d forgotten that the sum of his mother’s inheritance, contained in that pouch of jewels, was already spent. “Or we could ask your father. Wouldn’t you like to be something?”

“That was the first time he hit her hard across the face.” That was the first time he hit her hard across the face. It was difficult for him to believe now that his life had once been fueled by his emotions. He could not remember the causes or quality of his rages, only that he had them. And they were young. They knew nothing about being a husband or a wife. For her part, she settled into a more uxorial temperament once she got pregnant, but as if they were cursed the fetuses kept dropping out of her, too early to survive, and all they could afford was the immediate expense of rushing her to the hospital so she wouldn’t bleed to death. Finally he sent her home to her mother for a week so that he could get a vasectomy. They were practically free at the city hospital. He never told her about it, letting her believe instead that her womb had gone barren. It was slightly less


yraivA ehT

shadow. Only when she moved, when her lips moved or she turned her head, could he begin to put her features back together in his mind. “Won’t you come out?” She put her hand up to the screen. She told him more about the pheasants, how little is known of their behavior in the wild because they remain so well hidden in the dark conifer forests of China. At night they prefer to roost in trees. She urged him to make them a perch. “Yes, yes, tomorrow,” he promised. Needing to thin the flock, he sold the next brood of chicks at the market and tried to separate the parents for a time, but the cock refused to be handled. He hissed and pecked at him until his arms were covered with ruptured skin. In frustration, he found himself trying to reason with the animal. “It’s a temporary arrangement,” he said. “You’ll see them through the netting here.” “Leave him,” she said. “She won’t have anymore.” Throughout the summer the aviary fluttered with activity. This was a happy flock, spending much of their time sleeping in huddles and flying in circles, warbling and purring. The male still courted his mate, and she still surrendered to his advances, though she did not brood any more eggs. As he lay on his cot one night watching the moonlit clouds travel across the black sky, he asked her why the hen had stopped laying eggs. “It’s what you wanted,” she said. Somehow this explanation satisfied him. He found the courage to ask her, “Did you marry again? Did you have any children?” “I went back to the city to find you.” He had trouble hearing her. “To find me? Surely someone told you I was killed in the market.” “They told me at the precinct they could not identify the dead. They could not even count them. You left your suitcase open on the bed.

neS ilatiahC yb

painful watching her disintegrate in this way, less taxing to her physically, at least. By the end of spring there were two-dozen chicks. The noise attracted some local urchins, whom he invited into the aviary. What a show his male pheasant put on for them, nipping at their little feet, spreading the feathers of his neck over his head like a cape, chasing the female oafishly and responding with a woeful call when he heard his master’s cooing voice, and for the first time in his life he understood how children amplified the small pleasures of life. They asked many questions about care and breeding, and one little girl reminded him so much of his wife, he had to stop himself from staring at her. He shifted his attention to the crowd, to the gathering of sweet faces. Suddenly a boy no bigger than a rake punched him in the nuts, and other boys just as small surrounded him, kicking his shins and shouting. One of them jumped high onto his back and curled his bony arms around his neck, pulling him down to the ground. He watched helplessly as the other children, including the little girl, the heartbreaker, took handfuls of chicks and dropped them into canvas bags they’d hidden under their clothes. The male shrieked and pecked at their arms while the female corralled as many of her chicks as she could into a corner of the aviary. The children snatched what they could, but he got hold of the boy who grabbed the male and slapped him so hard across the face, it brought tears to the rascal’s eyes and caused him to drop the squawking bird. Then all the children went running, laughing like demons. He put a lock on the aviary to protect it from intruders and slept outside on a cot at night. He sometimes heard her inside the aviary, singing softly to the birds gathered around her. “Come out of there,” he would whisper. “Come lie with me here.” Finally she came to the welded-wire netting. Behind it she was little more than a gray

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by Chaitali Sen

The Aviary 16

What could you have needed from the market?” He urged her to come out, to let him see her in the moonlight, to let him touch her. It would take him half the night to understand her ramblings. “The shelters were full,” she said. “Can you imagine my grief as the ceiling crumbled? The city burned all around me.” “Why would you go back?” he asked, his voice pleading, as if he could convince her not to do something she had already done. The rumors of war had not troubled him then. They came at a time in his marriage when all of his surroundings seemed to conspire against him. The solution, in his mind, was to take her away from that dismal city, to find a place where they could breathe. As soon as they knew the invasion was imminent he’d forged a plan. She would go to her mother’s until he could secure their passage out of the country, but at the station she had been gripped by a sudden panic. “Is there someone else?” she asked. “Are you going away with her?” He did not know how they would survive this new layer of doubt, with the grit from the last one still under their nails. It had been more than a year, but he could still see the plum-colored bruises on her body. He could still feel her terror of him. He backed away from her, recording rather than watching as the conductor offered his hand and lifted her like a dove onto the train. He heaved his arthritic body off the cot and approached the netting, struggling to see anything through the mesh. “You’ve forgiven me,” he said. “Here you are.” She turned back to the pheasants. They were calling her. With the end of summer the night air became too cold for him to sleep outside. He took the male pheasant out of the aviary and retreated into the warmth of his house, hoping she would

follow him, that he would find her during the same hide-and-seek games he played with his pet. He always managed to find him, perched in curious places, under the sink, for instance, or on a high dusty shelf, but he could not find his wife anywhere. On one deeply gray morning, the children appeared at his door. “Our pheasants. They’re all dead, mister. They’re all dead.” “Your pheasants? You scoundrels.” He slammed the door shut, but he heard their thundering footsteps around the side of the house. He ran to the aviary and saw them stopped frozen, staring at her behind the screen, the hen and her offspring dead on the ground. She walked over them, crushing their bones under her bare feet. Nestled in the crook of her arm was his resplendent male, lifeless as a velvet cushion. “We told you she killed them,” the children yelled. “She killed them all.” She quieted them with her gaze, her eyes black and radiant. She went back to her bone-crushing task. He had spent years like this, watching her in moments of diligent focus, moments of striving, when his veins would pulse with a dull, thumping pain for which there was no release. He had freed her, his sweet wife, to marry again and have children and grandchildren, in the country where she was born, her home. This was only his fading memory of her. It was all that was left of her in his deteriorating mind. He fell to his knees and made his confession. This long life he lived was his sentence. He would serve it to the end. She took a few soundless steps toward him. “You don’t know how I’ve suffered without you,” he whispered. He turned to face a small voice behind him. The little girl, whom he could now see resembled the cook’s daughter in many ways, but not completely, stood over him, smiling sweetly with a rusted shovel hoisted high above her head. Her arms were scrawny but her aim


was good. She let the shovel fall, and he felt the unfathomable pain of his skull cracking. The blood reached his brow; he fell effortlessly into the void. But that was not the end. He woke up and rose on sturdy legs to his feet. There was nothing left of the aviary, only his wife wearing a garland of golden feathers on her head, startling against the black of her hair. She put her hand up to the feathers and smiled. “Have you ever seen anything so beautiful?” He went closer, afraid she would crumble if he touched her, but soon he was upon her. He held her in his arms and kissed her, stunned by the warmth of her lips. “When we said goodbye, I saw our future,” she said. “Our home in a new country and our children, at last, our children.” How could he have known what he was going to do when the market suddenly exploded around him? The debris that had hit him sliced his cheek and fractured his skull, but at the end of a trail of bodies he was, miraculously, alive. He took out the photograph of her on their wedding day and threw the rest of his wallet into the burning rubble before he ran. While the sirens sounded in the distance he pawned his wedding ring for a ride to the border, and then he walked. He walked for years, it seemed, and it was another lifetime, fading now. “Stay with me here,” he said. “I wouldn’t dream of hurting you now.” She answered as she once answered his youthful proposal, with eyes wide and hopeful, but her expression changed as she lifted her hand and touched the scar on his cheek. “No,” he said, pushing her hand away to feel the scar for himself. He noticed his own hand, spotted and quivering. With a cry she took the garland off her head. She held it away from her body, between them, and before their eyes it was not a garland but a live bird with reptilian eyes and dazzling feathers. He spread his crimson wings and flew.

17


A conversation with Chaitali

Sen

author of The Aviary

What inspired you to write The Aviary? I wanted to write about a golden pheasant I saw on a farm in Austin. Male golden pheasants are unbelievably beautiful creatures. I imagined an old man and a golden pheasant and the story pretty much developed from that. Where do you find your ideas and inspiration? I usually get ideas from an image or moment I want to capture. Usually I'm doing something different from my normal routine, like traveling or visiting a museum , which allows me to discover something that catches me by surprise. I also get a lot of inspiration from reading and wanting to try something I admired. Are there any authors who have influenced your writing? I don't know if it shows in my writing by I certainly hope to be influenced by my favorite authors. I think the authors that influence me the most are a little wild - James Baldwin, Anne Enright, Joy Williams, but I have been studying the sentences in Dubliners and my favorite novel is The Known World, by Edward P. Jones. What are you reading right now? I am reading Anne Enright's What Are You Like? I read The Gathering last year and did not want to miss a single word of it. I love her lyricism. How long have you been writing? I've been writing stories since I was about twelve, but I've been writing seriously with a desire for readers for about ten years.

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What is your writing day like? I don't really have a writing day. During the school year I have at times gotten up at 4:30 in the morning, made a cup of coffee, and written

for an hour or more before I get ready to go to work. During the summer I try to write for several hours every morning, or get stuck into something for several days and write all day with frequent breaks. Where do you find yourself writing the most? In bed very early in the morning. What did you pursue as a career? Has your career influenced your writing? I teach elementary school. Teaching and Writing occupy different parts of my personality and they are not really on speaking terms, but I'm sure they do influence each other. They both depend heavily on the power of observation. What words do you live by? Do you have a personal motto? I don't. I'd probably be saner if I did. Where can we find other works from Chaitali Sen? In the past few years I have had a story published in New England Review called "The Travelers," (Volume 30, #4) and a short piece on Every Day Fiction called "Embolism." I am working on a website - www.chaitalisen.com where I hope to make stories available. What’s next? Do you have any writing projects on the horizon? I am working hard on a novel that is set in an unnamed fictional country. It is about the turbulent marriage of a geologist and a librarian. If you could share any advice for aspiring writers, what would it be? My advice would be to write what you really want to write, even if it sounds crazy and you don't think you can pull it off. Even if it doesn't quite work, you'll learn a lot from trying.


“ M y advice

would be to write what you really want to write, even if it sounds crazy and you don't think you can pull it off. Even if it doesn't quite work, you'll learn a lot from trying. ”


Delirium

by Haley Shepherd

P

20

ippa Rose wanders around the ancient street in an area once known as the Bronx. She rubs her arms against the chill of the morning while winding her way through the familiar catacomb of alleyways. The young girl walks in silence with her companion, a dog, trotting closely by her side. Pippa pays next to no attention to the decrepit, rusting street sign that indicates the street on which she roams to be 143rd Street. No, she is far too lost in thought to notice the sign; it isn't as if it matters. Pippa refuses to acknowledge the few urchins that mill in the shadows of those decaying buildings. This scene is all too familiar. The gray sky hasn't changed in appearance at any point in the youth's memory. Every day in this bleak landscape is identical to the day before, identical to the day she was orphaned. For a moment, a memory slipped past her usually unfaltering mind-numb. Memories, Pippa Rose observes, are remarkably strong in this place. The picture exposed before Pippa's eyes causes her to flinch in pain. The faces of her mother and father contort in desperation as Pippa is strapped to a frozen metal gurney in front of them. Already bruised and beaten, her face remains placid as she prepares herself for further torment. To Pippa's great relief, her dog rouses her from the memory with a small lick on her fingers. In Pippa's mind’s eye, she imagines the buildings of this neighborhood not in their broken rotted state, but as the beautiful, whole pieces of architecture they must have once been. 'Would

they have held help for me then? Could they have saved us?' she wonders. The girl reaches down and pets her dog's matted fur through the fingerless, soiled mittens, clinging to reality. Different scenes flash before Pippa Rose, past, present, past, present, until she can no longer differentiate between imagination and reality. Silent tears dampen her cheeks; the visions frighten her. She doesn't know what they are, what they mean. Pippa curses the day the torture stopped and visions began.

The girl is remotely aware that what she is seeing is not real, at least, not in her time. Pippa finds herself caught in a bright, warm day on a city block surrounded by people. The throng pushes and shoves in different directions jarring Pippa from side to side. Through the crowds, the young girl glimpses the sign that reads: 143rd Street. Somewhat dazed, she continues to walk on, unsure of where she is going or why she is going there. Pippa stops for a moment near an apartment building where four young men are loitering. She observes them casually for an instant. Vaguely, Pippa feels a brush of fur under her fingertips, but her dog is nowhere to be seen. The girl is remotely aware that what she is seeing is not real, at least, not in her time. For a moment, the scene flicks back to the grim perceived reality. "Perceived reality", Pippa Rose reasons, because, since she cannot recall anything


prior to her tragedy, she cannot truly say which is her right time. However, the dull, putrid landscape is where she finds herself more often than not, so that must be reality. The image flicks back to the sunny day, with many people, and tall, dazzling buildings. Curiously, the four young men still stand in front of the apartments. Pippa Rose gravitates towards the men without knowing why. Peaking out from behind her strawberry blonde ringlets, she concentrates on them intently. 'What is so special about them', them the girl questions, for the visions only ever bring her to a point of significance. However, the importance of this scene remains a mystery. In fact, the significance of having the visions at all escapes Pippa's grasp of importance. After all, what do these visual annals have to do with the present? How can the past change the future? Suddenly, a round of loud CRACKing noises breaks though the din of shuffling feet and car horns. Pippa leaps back into the shadows of an alley, startled. When she peaks back out she recognizes the forms of four young men lying on the pavement. She goes to them. One man has gone still and lifeless. Pippa knows that look all too well; he is dead. The other three men are the only ones who seem to notice her. Everyone else is oblivious to her presence. Men in white suits take siege of the scene accompanied by flashing lights and sirens. The suited men attempt to revive the still man to no avail. The others writhe in pain while he

remains comatose to the world. Pippa Rose watches confused and frightened as before her eyes the scene fades, once again, to her oppressive perceived reality with nothing but dark stains left on the concrete. By now others have stopped and are watching Pippa. Hurriedly, she moves on not wanting to attract attention, for it is never wise to be an object of interest in these times. For the second time this day Pippa Rose remembers her parents. This time she remembers their genius; she recalls how they stood out in society. It was for this reason, Pippa is sure, that they were taken. However, the young girl realizes she never knew the people that were her parents, and, now, she would never get the chance. Tugging her grubby coat more tightly around her and whistling to her ever-faithful dog, Pippa turns away from the sight of the gruesome, preserved memory, making a mental note of its location so as to never stumble on this particular recollection thread again. Once again this plague haunts her and Pippa discards the thought of ever being "normal". "No," she thinks, "they could not fix me even then. They could not even heal the physical infirmary of the still man. How, then, could they mend a mental malady?" Pippa vows to press on, for her parents. She determines to find out why these visions happen, why her parents were taken from her, and what the significance is. Resigned, Pippa Rose strides away, keeping close to the shadows, her companion trotting steadily, faithfully beside her.

21


penny dreadful

Introducing

The editors at Haunted Waters Press would like to welcome Penny Dreadful to the editorial staff of From the Depths. A lover of flash fiction, Penny has been hounding us for months to dedicate a new section of the journal to extremely short works of fiction. Her relentless badgering finally paid off, and beginning with the Summer 2012 issue, Penny Fiction will become a regular feature of the journal. Senior Editor, Savannah Renée sat down with Penny in hopes to give our readers a bit of an introduction to the newest member of our staff.

guidelines. For this issue, we ran a contest for a single sentence story in thirty words or less.

WARNING: she really can be quite dreadful.

What kinds of authors and stories do you hope to attract? Good ones.

On behalf of Haunted Waters Press, welcome to From the Depths. Has it really been months since you first proposed the idea of a flash fiction feature? It’s been a bloody long while, I know that. Since the debut of the Winter 2011 issue, I think. Well, we apologize for making you wait, but now that you’re here, what are your goals? I want to give flash fiction a bigger presence in the journal. I think dedicating a section of each issue to extremely short works of fiction will do that. Each 22 installment of Penny Fiction will have different

How does the submission process work? Simple. Submit your flash fiction entry to pennyfiction@hauntedwaterspress.com No attachments, just your story within the body of the email and include one interesting fact about yourself. Undertakers and cat herders earn extra points. If I do not find you interesting, I reserve the right to make you appear more interesting.

I see. Then can you tell us what makes a work of flash fiction good? Flash fiction is an art. I’m looking for a complete story, full of imagery, using as few words as possible. Can you offer any advice to our contributors who are new to flash fiction? Practice! A lot of writers think flash fiction is easy. Just string some words together and call it flash. Not so. Most writers of flash fiction will tell you that they toil over each and every word. Writers need to learn


an interview by Savannah Renée

to take their writing down to the bare bones. There are a lot of online flash fiction contests that will help you practice these skills. Tuesday Tales & The Friday Picture Show are two that come to mind. Did you know you smile a lot when you talk about flash fiction? It makes me happy. What else makes you happy? When writers follow the guidelines. If I ask for a six word story, don’t send me seven. If the theme requires that someone must die, then don’t leave them mostly dead. Kill them. Finally, just leave me breathless. You, breathless? It happens. So, you must get asked about your name. No, not really. Seriously, where did the name Penny Dreadful come from? Fine.. The term Penny Dreadful was coined in the late 19th century by a journalist reviewing a new genre of serialized fiction targeted at a young audience. The cost per story or issue was a penny,

and yes, the reviewer found the work to be dreadful. So, Penny Dreadfuls. In actuality, a lot of really great characters came out of it. Sweeney Todd, Jack Harkaway, Sexton Blake. As for me, my parents are writers. They could have named me Jane I suppose, but then they are a bit odd. Well, it suits you. I’ll take that as a compliment. Back in the day you could get an entire story for a penny, but your focus is on flash fiction. Why a feature called “Penny Fiction?” Well, if you haven’t guessed, I’m kind of narcissistic. Plus, there’s inflation. So, Haunted Waters Press is known for their kind and thoughtful replies to submissions. Will you carry on that tradition? My name is Dreadful. Do you have to ask? Really? Okay, I’ll be nice. But seriously, this is flash fiction. Don’t expect my reply to be longer than your submission, and don’t be offended if I think your story is dreadful. For me, it’s a term of endearment. 23


penny

fiction

...in 30 words or less

Penny Fiction is devoted to extremely short works of fiction, also known as micro-fiction and flash fiction. For the first installment, I challenged readers and contributors to get down to the bare bones of their writing, stripping away the unnecessary and crafting a tale full of imagery and emotion...and I asked them to do it in thirty words or less. One smug scribe claimed that he wrote his thirty words on a matchbook cover while waiting in line for the loo. I lit his entry on fire. Here are the ones that didn’t get burned. g

n ili

Penny Dreadful

sm r e h s to on t n n h le o nig Lipt s Al y e a rid -Betty ss hia F a s l i r on ent. ng aM e n u s . -L din ointm d d i n p n sl ur ie a disap e v b o h t ,s di a m s, and d o e t l, she e r ll i i h g g s b e n c it s t goi tered to wa xquis! , e e e h h t t op c d lov , sca t andLynn Co n s at an i i s m r e ri M and d can ce taxidife. -Ter d g l o e n w fa e h u y

h yo crus sip;ftect troph , s o d g e ie er of arr e to th ings nd the p w m n u o y urchg he'd fo h The rn hom c e n th knowi u rom ret lf ew f d him s n ywedmoney a l w e Thernrying for ma

the s t h re e a s

u de n t s

s at

ike t a l l y s t r ps n i f o t hi l li ands g g i sh h o r k . -M a r k P u l s s t i l li ng y’s w o c k , w i p le t i ng t h e d a l c e h t c om ng at y, s t a r i s k s, du t i f u l l y l s u o i x n e He s at a at t h e i r o w n d y l t s i le n while m’s eyes o o r g e …ndsom idesmaid r o the ha t b in a s ly y g Alwa lovin e stared ver in her mind: h s y n o he cerem layed over and o During t p l mantra the crue Dowell e Katherin Soaking in the stares from her gawking coworkers and feeling the unmistakable rub of flannel pajamas against her thighs, Lydia painfully realized this was not just a dream. 24 -" Adrienne Fowler " " " "


g to , thinkin il e v s s No.” nd flawle uld have said “ a s s e r , I co hite d at my w yself to blame r o r ir m m oore into the ly have e I stared the while: I on irginia M V to th n ll o a lf k e mys bac e to dded st in tim i k s car t ju t my d uprigh n e m e d mo wife jolt e l e u nt ef nalin y pregna e r d ty, a gan w, m e has rearvie . -Paul Lo n o y y In ; in m lling awa d a o r e pu see m

No tho t a ba ugh d v !"#$%&'(%)$*)+,'#+,-"#-&./#*+#0+%&# per iew, $%&'(%)$ *)+,'1#23/&-.#4),&# hap sh s( em ma use rgi d w nal ly) hile s bet tar ter ing if h int er o a car fla we wles re cli s, ha fft wk op, -fi not lled “Re veng cli sum e is b ffb as s ott mer e he h om sky ands st serve . -R an d wit me t ebe d h haw he m oney ide a kah ugg ngle and Po ing lens the d stu the and escr pak wh a iptio cces eel n of — her e s to the inter x-hu net.” sban I d. -L enor tell her, a As hfor d

Terri Lynn Coop shares a brick warehouse built in 1888 with two Chihuahuas. Her favorite color: whatever doesn’t show dog hair. Paul Logan and his wife are expecting their fifth child. Katherine Dowell has been a bridesmaid 13 times. LaMishia Allen’s burning desire in life is to visit Ireland simply because she likes a country where the men wear kilts. Mark Phillips has saved every crossword puzzle he has ever completed. Betty Lipton lives in Florida where she loves the wildlife, but not the bugs. Adrienne Fowler's favorite color is Sea Foam. Virginia Moore sings show tunes on her way to work as an undertaker. Rebekah Postupak can’t imagine how she got by before realizing one could drive with one’s knees. Lenora Ashford is a librarian on Long Island who’s love of comics, anime, and tattoos devours her salary. Adela Fine watches Battlestar Galactica in the secrecy of a closet underneath her 25 stairs. Penny Dreadful finds this group of writers to be mildly interesting.


Meet photographer

Robert J. Lawhead 26


A look at the photographer and his work. Robert J. Lawhead

I met Bob in Portland, Oregon when we both worked with Joe Walsh of Cinemagic Studios. That was way back in the early nineties and it seems like a lifetime ago. I left Portland in 1997 and back then I don’t think either of us imagined that our lives would intersect once again on the east coast. So here we are, over two decades later, building a new friendship and discovering things about each other that we never knew before. He had no idea of my love of writing and I was excited to learn of his lifetime passion for photography. I was thrilled when he said we could use some of his images in this issue of From the Depths. Of course, this is just a sampling of his work and only a glimpse at the photographer who created it. To see more or to purchase a print of one of the images featured in the upcoming pages, please visit Robert J. Lawhead Photography. To learn more about Bob and his work, please visit Robert J. Lawhead online. There you will find a sampling of his artistic endeavors including art, photography, stained glass, and a few clips from his 28 years as an editor in the film and video business. Enjoy!

Susan The Photographer I am not a professional photographer. But I do take pictures. Lots of pictures. I've been doing this for about 40 years, ever since I purchased my first Nikon F in High School, back in 1970. Since then I've accumulated hundreds of negatives (both color and B&W) and volumes of Kodachrome and Ektachrome slides. I am just dusting them off finally, and hope to scan the best ones soon; a monumental task at best. Although I don't make my living directly from photography, I receive tremendous satisfaction and gratitude from each picture that I shoot. The Inspiration I try to present simplicity and balance in my photography. These are the same things that I crave in my own life. I am drawn to simple images and shapes, and attempt to catch the observer's eye with bright colors and interesting textures. The Images A Polaroid transfer is an artistic photographic process which can take on different moods. It may appear to be a cross between a photograph and a watercolor, or it also might look like an old photo. Often described as “dreamlike” or “haunting”, each image transfer is unique and can never be repeated, due to the inherit process. The Process My photos were originally shot on 35mm color slides. The slide is exposed onto Polaroid instant film. As it develops, I separate the emulsion from it’s backing and press it onto 140lb. Arches French watercolor paper. Here it continues to develop, under heat, moisture and pressure. This process transfers the inks and dyes directly onto the new paper medium, creating dramatic images which resemble small water color paintings. The color intensity is then enhanced with a combination of colored pencils, watercolors or pastels. The same 35 mm original slide may be used for each print, but due to the characteristics of the transfer process, each transfer is uniquely different.

27


art

&poetry Robert J. Lawhead

28


There are eucalyptus leaves on my windowsill. I don’t know who brought them home or when their browning edges turned toward a fading sun. Warmth emanates from the sight; the kind that doesn’t come from the side of a newly boiled cup of tea, or the hug of a child as they pass through the kitchen to grab crackers for all the neighborhood in the middle of summer. It is different. I stop myself from picking them up, remember how frail these moments are if rushed, the dying of something small and forgotten generates the seed of memory. My mother stooped over a mixing bowl chocolate covering her apron the sun of mid-day heats her back. No words, no face yet an eternal picture she unknowingly presents.

In My Mirror

In Memory

In My Mirror The taste of a sweet kiss Waves from the gravel drive. A look of uncertainty accompanies a forced smile As the dust comes between us. First one mirror, then the next and finally the other; Yes, that one shows her the clearest. As my tires touch the black top, I look once more. Emerging from the dust, she runs for one last glimpse, Still waving and mouthing words, unheard but understood. Out of the window, I turn my head, smile and wave. She stops and I see her smiling eyes Beneath blowing hair and a hand, now on her forehead. She fades from my sight as I drive on. Angels of waiting, these military wives. Anxious at the ring of the phone; at the knock of the door, For it could be the maker of his destiny and hers. My jet has no mirrors. I cannot look back. But above the glass, a picture of her I use as my rear view. In my mirror, I see what is in my future.

Troy K. Stone Sr.

The curling of dying leaves offers peace, renewal. I count the times so precious now missed her presence so desired just a wish dropped at the side of the well. Tender thoughts wrap me on this cold day, I hold them just as the leaves grasp for the light one last time. The kettle whistles. I move away from this ledge the day turns its head towards night, I am left in my empty kitchen eucalyptus leaves withering, the darkness of missing returns.

Bonnie Nish

Robert J. Lawhead 29


Her cries come in like 9-1-1 calls, seven-fifteen, eight a.m.—Char! Small matters: the lawnmower is dead, the dog is eating the wall, a swallow tumbles from its nest and flounders, featherless, on the cement floor of her garage. She is half-mad from isolation. Refuses to make friends, see a doctor, turn on the oven, pill the dog. I want to run, get in my car, rev it to eighty, ninety, outrun her. I will. The country road is narrow. White crosses, plastic roses. Sulphur moths crash against the windshield. I am not a cruel person. I only want my turn at promised days of weightless flight. But here I am, sixteen years old again, lost in the boggy quicksand behind our shuttered house, the mud so slippery, I am unsure. Should I float, struggle, drown? Night comes quickly. I am cold, muddy, alone. Her voice calls to me, Char, come home! Through the thicket of trees I see a pale door of light. If I step through, she will be there, a towel for me in her hands.

Charlene Logan Burnett 30

&

The Face in the Mirror

The Bog

images

I can’t recognize the face, That gazes back at me. It used to be young, Full of grace, Class, And Understanding, But now, The face is covered in frown lines, It’s worn down, And full of sorrow. So much has changed, In the last ten years. I was a wife, A mother, And a sister, But now I am none of those things. I watched my husband of thirty years, Wither in my arms, And my older sister, Waste away into nothing, Cancer is a thief, That does not come quietly. I watched the ambulance come, And take my baby girl away, When her car ran off the interstate. I try not to look back, On those sad times, But my face is nothing, But a reflection, Of the times I want to forget.

Heather Marie


On reaching Tagore’s Shantiniketan

Robert J. Lawhead

Put the backpack on the side table and Looked out of the window…. Saw the melting moon slipping away through the shriveled tree branches…… Someone started playing your Song on a lonely flute……. Get my glass and Pour a large one It’s going to be a long Long night……

imagery

Kanchan Chatterjee

31


Yellow painted toe nails

prose poetry

Yellow painted toe nails do not sit well on a canvas of pale feet. The creamy white skin bleeding into the polish so that an unnatural fungal appearance prevails–reminding the owner that their feet are no longer where they once were; tanned, the shiny polished nails tucked into the sand innocently peaking out into the sunlight–giggling and well used. The way a pair of feet should be.  Not now.  Now they’re cold, cracking, haphazardly folded into wool socks, sweating in loafers all day– tapping along side a desk.

Azia Archer

Robert J. Lawhead 32


art

Collecting dust and sunlight – those birthday cards and photographs I didn't rip up mock me.

Those pajama pants, those dried up roses and the t-shirts I never wore; the books I still haven't read and the chocolates I never ate – all the gifts that went to waste. Countless faces whose names I can't remember, no matter how hard I try (not that I try too hard sometimes). Collecting broken hearts and angry boys, unintentional devastation for self-preservation; a small price to pay until I feel them collecting at the back of my head – clusters of buried memories manifest in a migraine, a throbbing reminder of all the people I've left behind and all the stuff they left with me all the new people they brought into my life, and all the things they gave me that I never needed still on my shelves next to the skeletons hanging in the closet of my heart. I kept the trinkets and all the people I barely knew – tucked away the stupid hallmarks and frames; donated the clothes and watched the flowers die.

&

poetry

My Favorite Hobby

Collecting trinkets and acquaintances for memories, useless knick-knacks on the shelves of past relationships that failed.

Reminders of failed relationships - the people I couldn't bring myself to trust, yet fell in love with me and all I felt was lonely – collecting regrets and remorse like stamps and thimbles: heartbreak is my favorite hobby.

Juliet Elizabeth Childers 33


Yasser Arafat in Queens

words

It is summer in New York— men are sweating waiting for the subway but ladies are glistening (ladies do not sweat, says my mother).

Last night I muddled through enough vodka to wake up looking like a young Yasser Arafat on the couch in Queens, having nodded off in dark glasses, gray sleep skin under eye an old rhinoceros. That’s inflammation! There is nothing to do but limp down the road past all the dumpsters and front yard Mary shrines to the Cuban breakfast place for greasy eggs and cheap, good coffee. It is Saturday. The people of Queens are honking their horns in the street. Jack Kerouac is still dead. The landlord is lurking. The air is soggy. The hangnail walls are rotting in on our business. Parents hang out of windows to ask their fat kids in the street, “What are you doing? What are you DOING?” Last night the Moroccan prince took me to Geisha for caterpillar roll sushi and I ordered tea that blossomed into a lotus flower in its glass teapot. “Stunning, stunning,” the prince proclaimed. I wore sheer black hose because that is what all the best gazelle-legged, sure-headed Manhattan girls are wearing these days, and I played him carefully like a fine mandolin.

During the week I’ll sit in a cubicle and check facts for diplomats on stainless steel topics like democratization of the Arab world. I have done a fact check and am one hundred percent certain that my boss is still the hairiest man in New York. I work in thick, unstylish glasses like an Indian lady in a call center, scuttling the insects of my fingers across the computer screen. I am twenty five and so I think I have to be perfect. I think that is what men want. I think that is what I want— I will spend the next five years chasing after perfect. I will drown my heart in champagne I will not pay for, and string Mikimoto pearls through my ears. Daily and dutifully I will apply a teaspoonful of sunscreen, shave both my legs and powder my Grecian nose. I will shake hands with an investment banker, dance in stilettos on a rich man’s yacht, nearly marry a South African surgeon, and have an affair with a journalist. He liked fancy things and fancy women on Tuesdays. It never seemed to be a Tuesday when I saw him, and I was never that fancy anyway.

Danna Molly Weiss 34


photography &

Robert J. Lawhead


prose poetry

Solacing the Moon

Robert J. Lawhead

—Will you still love me when I am different? her father breathed between seizures, a moon egg face, his skull full of blood & staples. She picked at her sneakers on the bleached floor of the intensive care unit & faked a resilient smile until he opened his eyes, slid on both shoes & tottered home, where his family thereafter forgot how to speak to one another. Silence grew shrill & tangled, throttling every wall of the house & interstice between. She fled through the kitchen one night, the screen door pattering pit pat pat behind her, to a willow weeping in the wavering spark of the moon. She hummed & brushed glossy strands of willow hair straight with her fingers. Cried yes to the moon. 36

Sarah Segal


Remembering Something that Meant So Much Back Then The Mirror of Things Past

Douglas Olmstead Fog was dense at dawn and traffic light, but after mists had burned away, a landscape stretched beyond my windshield of roads and exits and unfamiliar places. Seldom did I glance into the rearview mirror for little had accumulated there. By noon, traffic was heavy. Highways stretched before me and turnoffs taken without hesitation to destinations hitherto unknown. In my rearview mirror I noticed the accumulation of locations that I had traveled through.

poetry &

I once found a garnet-colored nugget of glass on the smooth-stoned shores of Lake Superior, washed-up like driftwood or an English major. I remember jumping back & forth from large jutting-out rocks within the sounds, only occasionally wetting my shoes and ankles, the water so cold I believed I’d freeze and float out to sea like when I wailed on the iron ore ship welded to the dock in the Duluth harbor. The horizons were always gray. Every fall my parents and my sister and I became pilgrims to the same solitudinal region; up and down the coast, the same shore, visiting again once visited towns, seeing the lift bridge, the chateaus, and the Lake. A lake that produced so much, but few salvageable memories, swallowing ships, like time rubbing away what it used to be, a cargo of fine wines, broken. Now with a left-over rock collection the size of a shoebox at my parent’s, the nugget of glass is a souvenir of the time I thought I could smash one of my parent’s bottles and use the shards in a rock tumbler: the din means it’s working. I’m smoothing over the jagged remnants of something I left behind long ago.

art

At twilight few turnoffs remained, yet my rearview mirror was clogged with sites and with people that jostled for places within the spaces of that narrow, rearview window. So little lies before me, so much behind me, That now I hardly watch the road at all.

Gerald Warfield

37


Little

Old Lady t i L y d l n O tle

in a Blue Van

Lad

by Diane L. Merkel

l

Bl

by

nr

ue a a V ek e M e i Di an


! The dusty blue Caravan pulls away and takes me with it. I have to remind myself to breathe. Through the blotches of fog on the rear window I watch my home grow smaller and smaller. Fifty years. My, oh my, that’s a long time to live in one place and now I wonder if I’ll ever see it or step foot inside its walls again. I sure will miss it, but I guess it really doesn’t matter now. After all, it was just a pile of bricks and shingles surrounding some furniture and a lonely, old woman. For a split second I can almost see a little pig-tailed girl skipping rope on the concrete path out in front. The already tiny Cape Cod begins to shrink even more until it disappears altogether, and just like that, it’s gone, as is the little pig-tailed girl and her jump rope.


by Diane L. Merkel

Little Old Lady in a Blue Van

The swiping motion of the rear wiper and the skidding sound of rubber against the glass, catch my attention as if trying to hypnotize me. Water crashes against my window and I turn back around. Droplets race one another down the windowpane. There is something about the rain that always saddens me. I tilt my head against the cold glass and lower my eyelids. It has been a long day. I’m tired and my bones ache. That’s what happens when you hit my age. My heart feels as if it might pop out of my chest, and my already confused mind cannot keep up with all the thoughts bubbling up. I cannot believe that this may be the day. The doctors said it would happen soon and I suppose they were right. “You doin’ okay there, Ma?” asks Al, my son-inlaw. “I’m okay, hon” I reply. “Good. We’ll be at the hospital before you know it. Try to rest if you can.” I try to conceal my nervousness. I didn’t want to ruin my reputation as the calm, strong one in the family. I’m sure everyone else will find out soon enough and they will all be there. Almost everyone. The trees, dotted with white and pink buds, line the road like soldiers. They whizz by me one by one, just like the years that have passed. The sky above is a dismal sheet of metal and up in the distance where they sky seems to meet the earth, I can see swirls of blue. Somewhere up ahead the sun shone and I hope that we can get there before the gray does.

glove compartment to retrieve my pills. I had thrown them in there the other day when Al drove me to my doctor’s appointment and I had forgotten to take them out. I fumble through all sorts of junk – sunglasses, papers, a parking ticket that Al probably never got around to paying, a couple of Beatles CDs, lighters…and a picture. A picture of the most beautiful girl I have ever seen. ! “She keeps me company when I drive. I never did like driving alone,” Al chuckled. “You could have it if you’d like.” ! “No, no,” I respond. “She belongs here with you.” “I met a boy today, Mom.” “Oh, really?” “Yeah, he sat next to me in my English lit class. We ended up going for pizza afterwards. We didn’t have any other classes after that, so we ended up talking for like two hours.” “Uh-huh. What’s he like?” “He’s so sweet…and funny. He had me laughing until I couldn’t breathe. I can’t believe that someone I barely know could make me laugh like that. I think I’m gonna marry him. Is that crazy?” I laugh. “Oh, Ava, who am I to say what’s crazy? Just go easy, honey. So, what’s his name?” “His name is Alexander, but he says everyone just calls him Al. I like Alexander much better. Al sounds like an old man name.” And as if on cue, we both burst out laughing.

“Are you chilly, Ma?” Al asks. A blast of warmth slaps my face as Al raises the heat. Al is so good to me, so I hate to complain, but why is it that everyone seems to think that old people are always cold? “I’m okay, dear.” “Okay, good. Just checkin’.” The blow of the heater drowns out the pecking raindrops at my window. Al put the heat up so high that the gust of air sweeps strands of hair across my face, poking at my cheek. I brush the wiry, silver strands away. It is quite unusual for Mother Nature to unleash this type of weather upon us this time of year. I feel safe in the car, sheltered from the dampness, but still, there is no escaping the effects of it on my arthritic joints. I reach into the

40

As poor as my memory has become over the years, I can still see her sweet face as if it were right in front of mine. Her light eyes staring up at me, the corners of her pale lips reaching up toward her cheeks when she smiled. She was the best friend I ever had, right from the first moment I felt her skin on mine. We were quite a pair, Ava and I, and when I think of how natural being a mother was to me, I have to laugh at how scared I initially was at the idea of raising a child. Well, raising a child by myself…. You know how some days stand out so vividly in your mind it’s as if you only just lived them and it feels like you relive them every day that you wake up? This is one of my days… I had just learned I was expecting, when I tiptoed down the wooden


“I thought I was looking into Heaven” I continued to look into his glassy eyes. They were as blue as Heaven. That was all I kept thinking at that moment. I thought I was looking into Heaven. He pressed his hand to my cheek for a moment, gave a half smile, and turned around. That was the last time I saw his face. I wanted to ask him why. I wanted to beg him to stay. I wanted to tell him I was sorry, but instead I just stood there and allowed him to leave. Without turning back, he slowly pulled the door behind him until it clicked and then he was gone. He had such a hold of my heart that I think his fingerprints might still be on it. I peeked through the peephole and watched him walk into the rain, across the sopping

I always thought that one day I would see those eyes again, even if I had to wait until I forever closed mine. For a long time after that, I left the porch light on for him, just in case. But he never returned. I don’t even know if he is still alive. I play that moment over and over in my mind, as if it were on video – when the only man I ever loved walked away from me. Sometimes, I even play that video in rewind so that I might know what it feels like to watch him come home. When Ava was little, I’d tell her stories about a prince named Harrison. When she was old enough, I told her who that prince really was. She carried on that tradition with her daughter, Natalie. Ava had many questions about the father she never knew, but oddly, Natalie had even more questions about the grandfather who only existed in her imagination. She would always encourage me to try to find him. I don’t know why I never did. Well, maybe I do know why. I was afraid that if I found him, I would run the risk of reliving the day he left all over again. When we were together, I worried so much about losing him that when he did leave, I almost felt a slight pang of relief, knowing I could finally stop worrying – knowing that one of my greatest fears was over. “Ma, how ya holdin’ up? You look so far away.” Al’s voice yanks me from my memories and plants me back in the passenger seat of the dusty blue Caravan. The rain ceases and we finally outrun the dark clouds above and emerge into the sunlight. All I can see now is blue – crystal, clear blue – surrounding a triangular shaped ray of sun.

naV eulB a ni ydaL dlO elttiL

Hindsight is twenty-twenty, as they say, and if I could go back and do it all over again, I would. Except this time around, I’d worry less about finding myself, my own happiness, and my life’s purpose. This time around, I would see that everything I needed was already there.

lawn and down the street, with part of my heart trailing behind.

lekreM .L enaiD yb

staircase, trying desperately not to allow them to creak, assuming my fiancé was asleep. I entered the kitchen to prepare breakfast. Harrison was already standing there. He was dressed in tan trousers and a royal blue button down shirt that had not been ironed; his marigold hair pushed back. He just stood there, motionless, as if he didn’t know where he was or where he was going, just staring at me. Beside him was a black canvas suitcase and matching duffle bag. I walked over to him. Morning sickness hadn’t started yet, but I wanted to throw up. My body stiffened and I thought I could even feel the blood pumping through my entire body. It was like a rug burn on the inside of my skin. He continued to stare at me and it almost looked like he was restraining tears. Without saying anything, I looked into his eyes. I never noticed until that moment how blue his eyes were. Maybe it was the shirt. It must have been. Or maybe we can look at someone every day, but yet not truly see them. Maybe someone could be right in front of us every day, just as he was then, yet we do not notice, not until it is too late.

“Yes. I’m okay, Al. My mind was just someplace else, I guess,” “I hear ya. We’re almost there and I’m a nervous wreck. I can’t believe my baby is having a baby. I’m gonna be a grandpa! I wish…” He abruptly stops speaking. I knew what he was going to say and he knew that I knew. After a long pause, Al’s cracked voice finally cuts through the silence. “So, how does it feel to be a great grandmother?” “Old!” I laugh. Al bursts into laughter.

41


by Diane L. Merkel

Little Old Lady in a Blue Van

“That’s where she got her sense of humor from. She was just like you, ya know.” I didn’t respond. I simply place my hand on top of his. Within minutes, we arrive at the hospital. It looks so much different from when I was here last when Ava was born. Al and I make our way to the maternity ward. I never thought in a million years that my granddaughter would ask me to be at her side as she delivered her first child. I have never witnessed the birth of a baby before. I am thrilled, but at the same time, Natalie has had a tough pregnancy, and I am utterly terrified that something might go wrong. By the time we reach the maternity ward, I learn my great granddaughter has already been born. I am a bit disappointed that I missed the event, but I guess life cannot wait for anyone. Al remains with Natalie in recovery a bit longer, while I find myself strolling the halls down to the nursery. I scan the rows of infants until I come to that one pink slip that read, “I’m a girl. Ava James.” As I watch her sleep, I giggle to myself when I notice that she has the same fuzzy blond hair as my little Ava. I never could get that hair to lie flat. Boy, was it easier when that fuzzy blond hair grew out and the pigtails went in. I know many people say that all babies look the same, but to me, my great granddaughter stands out like the brightest star in the blackest sky. Everything is so perfect, but I would be lying if I said there isn’t something missing. Something has been missing for the last ten years. I have been to her gravesite every morning of every day since. Every day, except today. No parent should have to bury a child, but I guess death cannot wait for anyone. There were times when I felt guilty to be standing on the other side of the dirt ground, but eighty years on this earth has taught me that life still goes on and so must we. We just have to. “Mommy, can I ask you a question?” “Of course, Ava…but only if you stay still long enough for me to comb these knots out.” “I’m trying, Mommy, but it hurts!” “I know, honey, I’m almost done. So what’s this question?” “When you die, are you going to be my guardian angel?” “Where is this coming from? Why are you thinking about that silly stuff ?”

42

“I was just wondering.” “Well, of course I will, Ava. But don’t you worry about that. Mommy is not going anywhere for a long, long time, okay?” “Okay. Mommy?” “Yes.” “When I come to heaven, how will I find you?” “Well….we will find each other.” “I have an idea! When I get there, you could stand on a cloud and wave your hand really high and then I’ll see it! And don’t worry about falling off, cuz you’ll have your wings.” “That sounds like a great idea! But you are not going anywhere for a long time, either, so let’s just focus on getting these knots out and getting you ready for school, okay.” “Okay, Mommy. Just don’t pull too hard.” I was happy when Natalie asked me to move in with her and her family. It’s been a long time since I had a family to cook breakfast for in the morning. Way too long. I know I’ll miss my little Cape Cod, but I also know that I won’t miss the solitude, the emptiness inside of it. Maybe some other young couple will move in there one day, just as Harrison and I once did. Maybe they’ll live happily ever after or maybe they won’t. Maybe children will be born and raised there and skip rope on the concrete path. Perhaps some lonely, old woman will find comfort within its walls. Maybe that old woman will live alone there and die alone there, but that old woman will certainly not be me. Not anymore. I press my nose to the window; my breath fogs the glass. My great granddaughter’s chest rises and falls with each little breath she takes. Amidst the muffled cries and coos of infants, I hear the voice of a man. It is raspy and weary. “What a beautiful baby,” he says. I do not look to this man for I don’t recognize the sound of his voice and assume that he must be speaking to someone beside him. When I don’t hear a response, I turn in his direction. I imagine he doesn’t have his wits about him. He looks even more ancient that me. His lanky frame hunches over slightly and it seems as if hair has not grown on his head in years.


“It’s okay,” he says. “Sometimes we all have to remind ourselves to breathe.”

“Harrison?” The old man looks at me, his expression a mixture of kindness and confusion. Before anything more could be said, a young boy, of about 5 or 6 years, dashes down the hallway from out of nowhere, it seems. “Grandpa Ray! Grandpa Ray! Which one’s my little brother?” “Hey, buddy! I was wondering when you’d get here. You see that one, all the way in the back…” He pokes his skinny finger to the glass. He is still talking to the little boy, and even though they are right beside me, I no longer can hear what they say. Just voices. Just sounds. No words. Fifty years have come and gone. I’ve dreamed of this moment so many times, and each time it had a different ending, but none quite like this one. I turn away and try to fill my mind with thoughts of holding that little baby on the other side of the glass. I bring my face closer to the window until I can see my reflection. Tears escape from my eyes, roll down my cheeks, and drop off my chin, just like the rain on the window of Al’s blue van. My fingertips erase the wet tracks on my face. I cannot

Hours later, I am sitting in the front seat of Al’s dusty blue Caravan. The sun is bright, and, thank goodness, Al has not turned on the heat. I feel no aches, no worries, just peace. “So Ray seems nice,” Al says taking his eyes off the road to look at me. “Are you going to see him again?” “Al,” I say in protest. When I look at him I see that he is smiling and I cannot help but smile back. As if to give his approval, he nods his head and returns his attention to the road. The picture in front of the windshield has changed. Ahead I see a house. It grows larger as we draw nearer. As the van pulls into the driveway, I take a moment to gaze at my new home. Missing are the familiar Cape Cod bricks and shingles, and the little pig-tailed girl skipping rope on the concrete path out in front. But the house is beautiful just the same, and I know that no matter where I am, no matter where I go, she is with me. No more searching, waiting, or hoping. Everything I need is already here.

naV eulB a ni ydaL dlO elttiL

The man looks back to the window. My lips part. Through them, my breath escapes from deep down in my chest as I speak the name I haven’t said in years.

breathe. I close my eyes for a few moments. I see Harrison standing in our kitchen and a little girl in pigtails skipping rope. I can even hear her counting, “1, 2, 3…” I see our home growing smaller and smaller, just the way it did in Al’s blue van, as we drove further and further away from it. Finally, I take a deep breath and open my eyes. In the reflection I see the old man. He is standing next to me.

lekreM .L enaiD yb

Like intersecting streets on a road map, wrinkles and lines stretch across his face, especially by his sunken eyes. His eyes. They appear worn and melancholy, yet there is something strangely familiar about them. I look at them more deeply for a few seconds and for the first time in over fifty years, I think I can see it again. Heaven.

43


Monster

by Diane Dooley In hindsight, I should never have gone searching the galaxy for him. I should’ve stayed on the space station, safe in my hazy halfdreams of imminent rescue. I wish I’d never tracked him down; never injected him with that scant twenty measures of truth serum. He had never loved me. The pain of the truth had ripped a scream from my body. But at least then I had a heart. Now it’s a tumor. Inside my chest it pumps out only bile and bitterness. Twice I saved him, breaking him out of two jails at the cost of my own freedom. But still it wasn’t enough. He offered his eternal thanks and his friendship. I took it, grateful for even that. He travels the stars with someone else now. Her he loves, though she has never sacrificed for him the way I have. The scars of the wounds I bore for him remind me of how ugly I am. His wife, of course, is perfect. “The most beautiful woman in the universe.” That’s what he called her as the serum had its brutal way with him. And with me. I’m on Earth now and I think I’m dying. The gravity pulls me down, lays me low, defeats me every second. Nobody is kind; no one cares. I’m a scarred monster from outer space, after all. They examine my body with morbid interest, excited for my eventual autopsy, these stumpy little creatures all dressed in white. Here I lie, watching the wet fall from the dark sky, the clouds obscuring the stars. My heart thuds slowly, releasing beat after beat of sadness and pain. I’ll die here, then, on this blasted floating rock. I don’t even care. It’s my own fault. I should never have gone searching the galaxy for him.

44


45


it is

WHAT it is

by Kirby Light


After the last one, Lexi decided on the first nice boring guy to come along. It went well, and they moved into an apartment together. As fast as fall leaves the calendar pages fell away and when he asked, she decided to say yes and they got married. A year or so down the road, she decided to have a child and leave college for a while, although she wasn’t quite ready for children. After that came cars, new jobs, family deaths, more projects put on the shelves, foreseen and unforeseen debts, wrinkles, stretch marks, a few extra pounds carried around the waist and thighs, and one day when she found she was pregnant for a second time, she put off going back to school even longer. Then one evening, many years after all of these decisions were made, she decided to go home to her husband instead of stopping at the bar where an old friend said he’d be waiting for her. Lexi pulled into her driveway at just a little after eleven that night, after the roads in her neighborhood had turned quiet and orange with streetlights. She got out of the car and removed the groceries from the passenger seat. Tired, she stood on the cracked concrete drive, taking a moment from her busy day to simply breathe. Holding the brown paper bag, Lexi looked up at the dark sky, and watched as clouds passed across the half moon, which hung low and red on the horizon. Lexi thought it was just the type of thing Henry would say was some kind of omen. She scoffed and shut the car door. Porch lights came on as she walked up to the house. Shifting the brown paper bag from one arm to the other, she reached out with her keys to unlock the front door. “Ew,” she said. A large green caterpillar sat on the top of the doorknob. It had orange dots above each one of its legs and black eyes. Its body rippled as it moved along the knob. Lexi took the tip of her key and slid it under the caterpillar, then flung it out into the bushes. “Gross,” she said, unlocking the door and stepping inside. As she walked down the hall to her living room, Lexi thought about what Henry could have been doing at that moment. He would have figured out by then that she wasn’t coming.

In the living room, Jessie sat on the couch in front of the television. The room glowed blue and smelled of marijuana. Sandy’s toys lay on the floor. Anne’s coat and backpack were on the chair next to the fireplace. “Damn it,” she said, almost tripping over Anne’s running shoes. She picked up the shoes and put them to the side. “Hey, babe,” Jessie said looking at Lexi and then back at the television. “I told you to smoke outside. I don’t want the girls to know.” “I’m sorry, I’ll try better next time,” Jessie said, not taking his eyes off the television. Lexi walked across the living room to the dining room and set the bag of groceries on the table. She turned towards Jessie, intent on telling him why it was important to hide his smoking from the girls, but instead she stopped, halted by the sight of Jessie on the couch. He sat in exactly the same position he had been the last time they had talked about his habit. Lexi got a strong sense of Déjà vu but couldn’t tell if it was genuine or just the familiar feeling of having done the same thing many times. Lexi took off her coat and set it on the table. Glancing at Jessie, who raised the remote to change the channel, she thought about her lunch with Henry. “I could listen to you talk all day,” Henry had said just before they parted and just after he had asked her to the bar that evening. Lexi looked at Jessie and noticed a different kind of silence.. “What?” Jessie said as he looked at her. “Nothing,” she said. “I was just spacing out.” Walking into the kitchen, she felt weary. Her back hurt from being hunched over the monitors all day. Switching on the kitchen light, she eyed the dirty pots sitting on the stove; a drying white sauce caked one. Burnt dried rice stuck to the inside of the other. Dishes covered the bottom of the sink, encrusted with the same white sauce. Glasses stood like scattered soldiers on the counter. Lexi slouched and sighed heavily. “I thought you were going to do the dishes today?” she called.

47


by Kirby Light

it is WHAT it is 48

There was a beat of quiet. “I had a long day. I’ll do them tomorrow before I go to work.” “ Hmm. What’d you do at work today?” she asked, moving the pots to the sink. Jessie sighed. “Well, I spent part of the day changing the oil on the fire engines. Chief says we’re not supposed to but I did it anyway. Then I went around the firehouse grounds with the edger, raked up some of the leaves that had fallen and pressure washed the sidewalk and gutters. That’s about it.” “Well, I guess firemen don’t spend all their time fighting fires,” she said. “This is true.” Another moment of quiet. “I also went to the store, got some rice, milk, some lunch meat and bread and a few lottery tickets.” Lexi moved the dishes around on the counter. “Lottery tickets?” she said. “We’re supposed to be saving money for a new dishwasher.” “It was only a few, no big deal.” “Did you at least win anything?” “Not a thing,” Jessie said. Lexi shook her head. Walking into the dining room, she picked up the groceries and returned to the kitchen. As she set the bag down on the counter she thought of the car Henry drove and how nice it was to be in that sky blue convertible with the wind going by. “Where do you want to go? I’ll take you anywhere in the world,” Henry had asked as he drove. “How was your day?” Jessie asked. Lexi pulled a tub of butter out of the grocery bag and slowly set it on the counter. “I don’t know. Same as always, work was work.” She wondered for a second if she should tell Jessie about her lunch with Henry. She decided that no wrong had been done. “Although,” she began. “Something strange happened.” Pulling a hair tie from her pocket, she stepped around the corner to where she could see Jessie. He sat in the glow of the television, not looking away from it. “Do you remember Henry Burns?” “That guy you knew in college?” Jessie said, still focused on the television, he smirked. “Yeah, I remember him. Why?”

“Well I ran into him today. We had lunch together.” Jessie looked at her, making a face she hadn’t seen in years, it made her stomach sink, just like it used to. “And?” He asked. Lexi shrugged. “That was it,” she said, pulling her hair into a ponytail, using the action as a means to end the conversation. Stepping back into the kitchen, she glanced into the grocery bag for a second, then reached over and opened the refrigerator. She turned around to find Jessie standing in the kitchen doorway leaning against the wall, hands in his pockets.

“It wasn’t tragedy at all. What seems bad at first could just be a prelude to something wonderful,” Henry looked away, into the night around them. “And, sadly, vice versa.” “What do you mean you had lunch with him?” he asked. Lexi took the butter off the counter and put it in the refrigerator. She left the door open. She sighed. “He was at the hospital and I was coming in from my break,” she said, taking a pack of sliced ham from the grocery bag. “He was there seeing his mother. We bumped into each other and he said he’d stay around to have lunch with me. So we had lunch together.” Lexi put the ham in the bottom drawer of the refrigerator. She reached into the grocery bag and took out a head of lettuce and put that in the other drawer at the bottom of the fridge. “So it wasn’t like a planned thing?” Jessie asked. Lexi stepped away from the fridge and leaned against the counter. “No. Just random chance,” she said. Jessie crossed his arms in front of him. “Where did you go for lunch?” He asked.


si ti TAHW si ti

in the sky and was now more orange than red. She tried to figure out what the moon could be prophesying. Henry used to talk all the time about signs and symbols. He always read too deeply into things, when she knew him in college. As she opened the window, a small gust of night air came in. Back in college, Henry and Lexi used to go on walks together after their night class. One evening Lexi said the phrase: It is what it is. She couldn’t remember what the conversation was about up to that point but for some reason she always remembered what followed. “I hate that phrase,” Henry had said. “Why?” Lexi asked. “I love it. It’s a catch all for everything in my life.” “I hate it because it’s dismissive. It allows a person not to think about something or try to figure out what that something is.” Henry paused. “Or what something could become.” “I don’t think it does that at all.” “It’s true. No one can know what something truly is unless they see it from all sides. That phrase just provides a false sense of security, so you don’t have to think.” “What do you mean?” Lexi asked. “It’s like tragedy. What seems like a tragedy at first may actually be a blessing in disguise. Say a guy smells a flower and there’s a bee inside. The man gets stung by the bee and has a bad allergic reaction. He ends up spending days in the hospital in agonizing pain, racking up horrible bills. And that’s a tragedy. But while in the hospital he meets a nurse and after he’s discharged he keeps in touch with her. Eventually they start dating and get married. Some months later she buys a lottery ticket and they win millions of dollars. They pay off their debts, retire early and live happily ever after.” Lexi thought about this. “I still don’t see what you mean,” she said. “It wasn’t tragedy at all. What seems bad at first could just be a prelude to something wonderful,” Henry looked away, into the night around them. “And, sadly, vice versa.” Lexi stood at the open window, back in her own time. She still didn’t understand what Henry meant, so she pushed the memories of him away. She focused on the smell of the night

thgiL ybriK yb

“Just up the road to the coffee shop,” Lexi nodded, “just talked and caught up on the last fifteen years.” Jessie nodded. “How is he? What’s he done with himself ?” He asked. “Well,” Lexi began, pulling on the collar of her shirt. She turned back to the bag on the counter. She took the eggs out, opened the carton and looked to see if they were cracked. “He writes screenplays now,” she said, shrugging a shoulder. “He said he was doing small movies but just sold a script for a bigger one. He also has a house in Seaside. We just talked about stuff like that.” Lexi bent over to look into the fridge. A blue Tupperware container sat on the top shelf, toward the back. Jessie nodded. “Nice,” he said. Lexi pulled out the Tupperware. She placed the carton of eggs in its place. “I’m glad to hear he’s done well for himself.” Lexi remembered what the Tupperware contained. “You going to see him again?” Two months ago Jessie had made dinner for their wedding anniversary. Lexi came home to candles and Italian food, some type of shrimp fettucini and salad with breadsticks. She thought it was cute. What she didn’t eat of her meal she took and placed in the Tupperware, putting it in the fridge. “No I don’t think I’ll see him again. He’s a pretty busy guy,” she said. “Oh, I see.” Lexi opened the Tupperware. Inside a coating of mold had grown across the noodles and covered the container. The odor made Lexi grimace. She turned to toss the whole container in the trash but hesitated. Jessie wasn’t standing in the kitchen doorway anymore. She heard him walk across the hard wood floor of the living room followed by the sound of air escaping the leather couch as he sat down. Lexi paused for a moment, then dropped the entire container of rotten anniversary dinner in the trash. Lexi stood at the window in the hall, contemplating the moon, which had risen higher

49


by Kirby Light

it is WHAT it is 50

air, tried not to think about the way her back hurt. She peered out the window at the leafless trees swaying in the breeze. Their branches resembled hundreds of thin spider legs clinging to the sky. When she thought about spider legs, she remembered that she had told Anne she would talk to Jessie about the family going to the science museum to see the insect exhibit. Lexi slowly shut the window. Jessie still sat on the couch, watching an old movie starring John Belushi. “Hey, you don’t have any major plans for Sunday do you?” Lexi asked as she walked through the living room to the kitchen. Jessie hesitated. “No, not really,” he said. In the kitchen, Lexi spread the two pots out in the sink and turned on the water. She plugged the drain and squirted a small amount of dish soap on the bottom of the sink. Bubbles formed. The pot with the dry crusted rice started to fill. Lexi stepped into the doorway between the kitchen and living room. “Well, I was thinking that on Sunday we could take the girls out to OMSI to see the insect exhibit. It’s been a while since we all got out and did something together,” she said. “I think it would be good for all of us.” Jessie sighed and opened his mouth as if he were about to say something. He stopped for a moment. “Sunday is my only day off,” he said, not looking away from the television. “I was hoping to just relax and not really do anything.” Lexi leaned on the corner of the wall. She crossed her arms. Jessie sat on the couch. The light from the television flickered and changed around him. Somebody on the show laughed. She thought to say something but changed her mind. She looked away, her head turning first and then the rest of her body. She stepped back into the kitchen. Lexi tried to figure out what happened between her and Jessie, what happened in her life in general that got her here, but each time she got to that point she failed. Life used to be so hopeful. They used to go out and do things and make

plans. Jessie used to be so determined. He used to be different. Her thoughts returned to Henry. In college, Henry rarely went out to parties or saw people. When Lexi and Henry went on their walks they would talk about all the places they wanted to travel or the type of lives they wanted, but Henry never seemed to pursue anything. Usually Henry just talked about movies. He used to care little for the rest of the world or school. Jessie would fix cars and build things. He’d meet new people and make friends. Henry just stayed at home and watched movies or read books about filmmaking. He couldn’t even comb his hair right most of the time. It was just movies, movies, movies. But today, fifteen years later, Henry drove a sky blue 1964 Mustang convertible. He owned two houses in two different states. He even flirted a little with the baristas during their lunch. Jessie hadn’t made love to Lexi in nearly a month. Jessie had been so determined and Henry hadn’t even finished college.

Forget him. Maggots beget house flies. Lexi still remembered vividly the last time she saw Henry, after he dropped out. Henry stood on her parent’s front lawn. “Let’s just leave,” he had said. “No,” Lexi said, shaking her head. Henry stood on the edge of the porch light’s reach. He wore his ratty leather jacket and his hair looked like he had just climbed out of bed. “If we stay here, we’ll end up just like our parents. What about all those places we talked about seeing? We could go see them.” “No, I’m staying here. I need to finish college. That’s the only way I’m going to get the life I want to have and that’s what I’m doing. And you should stay and do the same.” Henry cringed. “That’ll never get you the life you want. If you do what everyone else does you’ll only get what everyone else has.”


si ti TAHW si ti

years ago. It is what it is. What seems like a bad thing at first could just be a prelude to something wonderful and, sadly, vice versa. Maggots beget houseflies. Nothing had changed, this was what had been bargained for and this is what was received. Lexi scraped the food off the plate and into the trash. She washed the dishes and set them in the dish rack on the counter to dry. She turned off the kitchen light and walked through the living room. “Goodnight,” Lexi said to Jessie. “Goodnight,” he said and changed the channel. Lexi walked to the back bedroom. Without turning on any lights, she changed her clothes and climbed into bed. Lying there, Lexi wondered if she would see Henry again. She wondered what her life would have been like if she had left with him. She wondered about many things, what was, what could have been, and what things might soon become. But as she drifted off to sleep, for some reason, she thought of the caterpillar she flung into the bushes, just an image really. Spring was coming and soon that caterpillar would be wrapping itself in a cocoon and soon that caterpillar would be flying. Lexi imagined standing on the porch in the summer heat watching the caterpillar turned butterfly flutter its wings against the breeze drifting from flower to flower and in the thought as sleep descended, she felt an unnamable dread.

thgiL ybriK yb

Lexi crossed her arms and sighed. “What about Jessie? What would I tell Jessie?” “Forget him. Maggots beget house flies.” Lexi gasped. “Jessie is not a maggot. What does that even mean? Damn it Henry, stop being so dramatic. I’m staying here and finishing school. And you should stay here and do the same.” “No,” he whispered, “I’ll always be this if I stay here.” There was a silent pause between them. “If you leave,” Lexi said gently. “Will I see you again?” “I don’t know,” Henry said. They stared at each other, there on the lawn. They said nothing. It was quiet and time passed. Then Henry stepped forward and kissed Lexi and she let him. It was a slow kiss. Henry stepped back. “Bye,” he said. Then he got into his car and drove away. That was the last time Lexi had seen Henry and the second time he kissed her in the two years she had known him. Standing in her kitchen, Lexi wondered if she should have left with him that night. She shook her head. “He was crazy,” she said to herself. She picked up one of the dishes with left over food on it. She thought that this was just a rut. She thought things would change between her and Jessie. Maybe after some of their money problems were out of the way. Maybe if she went back to school or if she and Jessie got marriage counseling things would change. It was just a rut. Lexi picked up a fork and turned to the garbage can. She stood over it and was about to scrape the leftovers into the trash when she looked down and saw the scratch it lottery tickets sitting under the Tupperware container. She put the fork on the plate and slowly reached down, into the trash. She moved the Tupperware and thumbed through the tickets. Jessie said he had only gotten a few but there were two dozen tickets sitting in the garbage, all of them losers. Lexi stood and stared down for a few moments. Moments turned into minutes. She realized then what Henry had been talking about those many

51


elbaT ehT

nosboH-drawoH hgieluJ yb

52

It was a pretty ordinary table, as far as tables go I think. I mean it was old. Beat up. Second hand when my folks got it from somebody else’s old apartment in Brooklyn. It was one of those old enamel topped numbers. Somebody’d painted the wood on the legs and bottom bright brown. It's hard to describe that color to you. But there are no other words for it. Bright brown like a magic marker cap. That color. There was this kind of Dutch-looking pattern done in a darker brown that was painted on the tan enamel on the top. There were tulips and curlicues. They should have been some other color, but they weren't. They were brown. The whole thing was a monument to brown. Old, scratched up, paint chipped, brown. But the thing is, I grew up with it. It had a tiny brown drawer in the front with a real glass knob in the middle of it. Nobody ever kept anything in it; it was too small. Besides, our silverware (okay, our stainless steel ware) never made it past the dish drainer before it got used again. Wasn't like we had much of the stuff. I bumped my head into the bottom of that drawer whenever I crawled under the table. Every time. Until I got savvy enough to remember it was always going to be around. The whole table had been around longer than I'd been around, actually. I liked that about it. It was the one constant thing in my life. It stuck around from horrible apartments to horrible houses, back to horrible apartments to different horrible apartments… We lived in cheap, horrible places. Really cheap, horrible ones. Railroad flats mostly. At least, that's what people used to call them. You know what I mean? They are hell. One room just up and opens to the next. No doors, no halls,


The Table

by Juleigh Howard-Hobson

no nothing to yourself. Unless you can figure out somewhere to call your own. Otherwise it can make you crazy. Me, I figured it out early. I would go under the table. Nobody else was there. I'd sit under the table so often it became a phrase... I'm going under-the-table. I'll be under-the-table. Under-the-table. Under-the-table. It was my thing. My place. I knew every paint chip, every screw, every splinter, every fiber of that table. I spent years under there. It was an old friend. It was my corner of the world. Nobody bugged me there. Yeah, it was crazy, I guess. But, my whole life was crazy. What wasn't crazy? When my dad split, my mom didn't particularly want a kid anymore. I got shoved together with a ratty suitcase of clothes and sent off to live with my grandparents. In their nice house. In California. My mom sold everything else. Or gave it away. Or left it behind. My old friend, the table, got out of my life. My grandparents already had a kitchen table. And a dining room one. And a pool table. No need for any other tables. No need for my old table at all. No need. No need. I had a whole new life instead of my old one. They bought me new clothes. New sheets for my new bed in my new room. No need for anything from that life I used to spend under-the-table. I wasn't consulted about any of it any more than the table was. But, you know, if there was no need...if that table was so completely meaningless and it was okay to just leave it behind like everybody kept telling me it was...how come I still get so angry –so sickeningly angry-- whenever I think about how I’ll never know what happened to it or even where it could be now?

53


by Josette M. Keelor

I

54

was almost home — would be there in less than three minutes — but even as I reminded myself of that fact, I’d already pulled over, put the car in park, and rolled down the passenger side window. “Tryin’ to get to Leesburg,” she said through the inch of window space I’d left her. She wasn’t who I thought she was. “Can you give us a ride?” “Oh… I’m just going up the street,” I said. “Just into town?” Her shoulders drooped as she leaned back from my car. “Yeah, like literally right up the street. Sorry. Good luck.” I hated myself. I would have been home by now, even earlier than usual. Choir practice had ended at nine instead of nine-thirty that night. “Can I call someone for you?” Please, please. “No, we need to get to my car. It’s at the Safeway in Leesburg.” From down the street and in the shadows the two hitchhikers had looked like a mother and daughter or even two girlfriends. Maybe they were in trouble — stranded, I’d thought. Beside the short, blond woman stood a man with long, straggly gray hair reaching

halfway down his back, as if he’d dragged himself out of a cave moments before, following years without sunlight or a sharp razor. “There’s a restaurant across town. I can drive you there. You could call someone,” I said. “You mean The Beautiful South?” she said. I nodded. “Oh, okay. She’s gonna take us across town, babe. We’ll have to get someone else to give us a ride from there.” As she reached for the handle of the back door, I grabbed my purse and stuck it on the floor by my feet. I couldn’t believe I was taking in hitchhikers. This was where horror movie writers got their material. And where would they sit? My Neon still carried remnants of the move my husband and I had made two weeks earlier, and the front passenger seat was stacked with library books and newspapers. “My car’s a big ol’ mess, I’m sorry,” I said, and I moved the Christmas tree stand from one side of the back seat to the other. “That’s okay,” the woman said, her wispy hair hiding her eyes from view through the glasses she wore. The man carried a lit cigarette with him as he stuffed himself


into a spot by the window. She sat on his lap, and they worked together to fasten the door shut, not bothering themselves with the seatbelt. Only across town, it’s just across town. “I have five dollars I can give you,” she said. “We’ll pay you.”

Would it really help them to be only a couple miles closer to the Safeway? Did I care? I needed them out of my car. I shook my head. “No, it’s only across town.” “My car is at the Safeway,” she said, her disembodied face appearing in between the two front seats as her friend lit a cigarette for her. “I just need to get there. My dad dropped us off in Purcellville, but he didn’t think I could drive. He thinks I’ve been drinking, but I haven’t been, I swear. I don’t drink and drive. My dad’s really strict and he won’t help us if I’ve been

drinking but I told him I wasn’t. My fiancé can drive us home. He’s really great. He helped me get away from my ex-husband. My ex, he’d hit me, you know. But my fiancé — I don’t know what I’d’ve done without him. Still be with my ex I guess.” I cracked the window to let out some smoke. In the rear view mirror the fiancé was mouth breathing, his cigarette inching its way closer to the car’s upholstery. “That’s good you got away from him,” I said. “Yeah, but it’s so much better now, and my fiancé is great.” The restaurant was nearing. Would it really help them to be only a couple miles closer to the Safeway? Did I care? I needed them out of my car. I should have been home already; still, Conrad wouldn’t even be wondering about me yet. The man in the back seat hadn’t said a word yet, and the woman continued to exhale nicotine into my face. He had to be twenty years her senior. Still, in the mirror, they seemed tame enough for the moment. Leesburg was only ten minutes away. What kind of person stops to pick up hitchhikers and drops them off two miles up the road? “Okay, here it is,” I said, pulling into the parking lot. 55


by Josette M. Keelor

Safe Way

“Oh, well, thanks. C’mon babe.” She shook her fiancé awake. He muttered a reply, and she said, “I know, I hoped she’d be willing to drive us to Leesburg, but we’re gonna have to find someone else to give us a ride.” “You know what,” I said, sighing and closing my eyes. “I can drive you to Leesburg. It’s not that much farther.” “Oh, great,” she said. “Babe, she’s gonna drive us the rest of the way. I can pay you. I’ve got five dollars.” “Don’t worry about it,” I said. It won’t matter if I’m dead. “I hope my car’s still there when we get there. I hope they didn’t impound it, ’cause that costs about five hundred dollars, and I don’t have money like that. We’re sorta homeless right now, and my dad doesn’t help us out that much. We’re just gonna have to get married and make it on our own. I don’t even have my license, so my fiancé has to drive.” “How old are you?” I said.

I could have been home twenty minutes ago, I thought. Why am I doing this? Oh, God, let me be all right. Let these people be sane. Keep me safe.

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“Twenty-three, but I don’t have my license. I had a truck, but we needed money, so I sold it to get a car instead. I really hope it’s there when we get there. Don’t worry; my fiancé will drive. I could drive, because I’m not drunk, I swear. I never drink and drive. My dad should’ve known that. That is one thing I will not do.” The smoke was burning my nose, making my eyes water. Their faces were becoming blurred in the mirror. I opened the window wider, leaning away from her to cough, as she kept talking. Almost there. Five minutes away. Four. Would Conrad wonder if I was late? He was probably already in bed. Did he have to open at work the

next day? Three minutes. All I needed was to get there, stop in a public place. If he pulled a gun on me, I’d run — it’s harder to hit a moving target, right? Especially in his condition. Run zigzagged, that’s what they always said to do. Two minutes. C’mon, c’mon. “First Leesburg exit is coming up. Which way?” I said. “Hey, babe, wake up. She needs directions. Babe, which way?” He moaned. Was he still even holding the cigarette anymore? “It’s this exit, comin’ up,” she said. “You know Clubhouse?” “No,” I said. “You’re sure it’s this exit? The first Leesburg exit.” “Yeah, that’s the one. Take this one right here. It’s for Clubhouse Road.” “You’re sure it’s this one?” I said. “Yeah, right here.” I took the exit. “I hope it’s there. Really, I’m not drunk. But he’ll never accuse me of that again. One thing I will not do is drink and…” “Should I turn left here?” I said, taking a deep breath. What if the back seat burst into flames? Should I have said something? “Yeah. It’s up that way,” she said. “Up that way, right babe? Babe, wake up. We’re almost there.” The streets were dark. I could have been home twenty minutes ago, I thought. Why am I doing this? Oh, God, let me be all right. Let these people be sane. Keep me safe. “There’s the Safeway!” I shouted. “Hey, babe, we’re here. Wake up.” I took a left into the parking lot and drove along the front of the store. Cars still dotted the parking lot, and the lights from the store shown onto the blacktop. “Keep driving,” she said. “I think it’s over there,” she motioned to a portion of the lot on the other side of the store in the shadows. I slowed the Neon to a crawl. “Yeah, there it is.” The car was parked alone in the side lot. I stomped on the breaks in front of the store’s automatic doors, their car still a good hundred feet away, and set my car in park. “Well, glad it wasn’t impounded,” I said.


“Oh … okay,” she said. “Thanks. Babe, c’mon, we’re here.” “You sure he’s okay to drive?” “Yeah, he’s fine.” She stepped out of the car, and he struggled to regain his balance on the seat. He still held the cigarette. I forced myself to breathe. “’Bye,” I said, turning back to him. “Good luck.” He looked at me and opened his mouth wide. “She’s beautiful,” he said. He motioned for his fiancée, who had begun closing the distance between my car and hers, and I didn’t see the box cutter until it was too late. He drew it effortlessly across my neck just deep enough so I couldn’t scream. My eyes rolled back to where he sat, the cigarette in his other hand smoldering. I could see the tiny sparks eliciting from it, before their energy extinguished inches from my face as he stole a long drag. I hadn’t considered a box cutter. “She’s beautiful,” he repeated. I blinked in time to see that the hand reaching toward me was empty. No blade, no blood; I gulped anyway. “Okay, ’bye,” I said, shrilly, and waved. “You’d better hurry, or she’s gonna drive away without you.” He retracted his hand and turned away and stepped out of the car and closed the door, and I waved again before slamming on the gas pedal, barely deciphering his last words — hitch-hiking’s dangerous. The tires squealed as I turned left back onto King Street. The silence inside the car pressed in around me, and I rechecked that the doors were locked before pulling to a stop at a traffic light, wondering. What if I really had seen a blade glinting from his hand? That’s when I saw them — a few yards ahead on the right — a young mother with a toddler in her arms, struggling as she shifted the little boy enough to thumb a ride from a passersby. The tires of my Neon squealed again as I hit the gas, an instant before the light was actually green. Home was that much closer as behind me they grew smaller.


I

n 1999, I got into a car accident because I had been checking out my hair in my rearview mirror instead of looking at the road. I rear-ended a Toyota Corolla, causing extensive damage to both it and my Acura Integra. The driver of the Corolla, a forty-two year old woman, suffered whiplash, and was forced to miss two weeks of work, for which she wasn’t paid. She sued me for compensation for the two weeks of pay. According to the woman’s lawyers, the fact that I was looking at my hair and not the road was conclusive evidence that I was driving recklessly. I maintained that while I should have had my eyes on the road, there were extenuating circumstances that were beyond my control. The following is a transcript of my testimony: I started going bald three years ago, at nineteen, when I was still I virgin. I was a late bloomer. A late bloomer and an early witherer. I was convinced I was losing my hair because I was a virgin. For the majority of you in here who still have your hair (and especially for Judge Halpern with his impressively thick white head of hair), you simply cannot imagine the pain and terror that comes with losing your hair. Let me break it down for you this way.

The Testimony

Imagine losing a limb. Ok, got it? Now, imagine losing a limb one hundredth of a millimeter at a time—just steady enough so that you know it’s happening, but slowly enough for you to deny it. Your friends all know you’re going bald, but they don’t say anything. It’s a very taboo topic. But you know your friends know you’re going bald because once you start losing your hair, your friends don’t look you in the eyes anymore. Conversations start with friends looking you in the eyes, but their eyes move slowly upward, to your hairline. A receding hairline is mesmerizing; it is simply impossible to look away. The worst part is that now, three years into the crazy journey of male pattern baldness, my hair still looks very good. Every day, every moment, I know that my hair will never again look as good as it does right now. What a terrible feeling! Imagine! Why can’t I just enjoy my hair while I have it? I don’t know why, but I can’t. In a similar way, though, I never wear any of my favorite T-shirts for fear that when I wash them they’ll shrink and never be the same. Whenever I drink a soft drink with ice cubes in it, I try to drink the whole thing very quickly, before the ice cubes dissolve and dilute my drink. I am terrified of decay.

by Jeff Gandell

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“You’re losing some hair,” she asserted one evening at the dinner table. It was the first anyone had ever talked to me about my hair loss, out loud. There have been magic potion goose chases to try and save my hair, sure. My auntie Adella from Israel sent me on the first of these. She is in her seventies, and famous for her youthful enthusiasm and her ability to read people immediately after meeting them. If I can digress for a moment to attest to credibility of Adella’s character. Once, seconds after meeting a friend of one of my other aunt’s, she said, “You are a highly sexual being. Monogamy, it’s not for you. You need many sexual partners at the same time, and you need to change them often. Don’t get married.” The guy brightened up at the news. “How did you know that?” he said. Apparently this was something he had always suspected about himself, but had not been honest enough to admit.

So soothsaying septuagenarian Israeli aunt came for a visit in Fall 1997. Fall, I should mention, is the worst season for the balding, because of the frequent wind and rain. Balding men avoid wind at all costs, for obvious reasons, and, surprisingly, mistrust hats. It is assumed that the putting on and taking off of hats places too much strain on weakened hairlines. I rarely go out during autumns, making them even more depressing, and causing me to delve deeper into my own private insanity. “You’re losing some hair,” she asserted one evening at the dinner table. It was the first anyone had ever talked to me about my hair loss, out loud. “Yes,” I admitted, “I am.” “No,” my mom said. “He’s not.” “Iron, Vitamin B12, and vitamin B6,” was all she said. I was giddy at the prescription. Vitamins! Of course! I rushed to the pharmacy the next day, bought the biggest vials of iron, B12 and B6 I could find. While at the checkout, I smiled at the very cute cashier. I wanted to ask her out, but didn’t (I was still a virgin at this point. Still blaming my baldness on my childish, inexperienced member). Normally this would have sunk me into a

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by Jeff Gandell

The Testimony

violent depression all day. The cycle was clear: disappointing behavior, regret, hairs jumping ship. But not today! I had vitamins! Thank God for Israelis, I thought. I smiled at the cashier, grabbed the bag, and headed outside for my car. I ingested the trio of supplements daily for a year, waiting for them to take hold, waiting for the terror to cease, or at least to slow down. I gauged the vitamins’ progress in every reflective surface I could find. Car windows either laughed at the crazy notion that I was losing my hair, or laughed at me because I was losing my hair. It all depended not only on what kind of day it was— sunny, overcast, partly cloudy—but also on the concavity of the glass, how much it was tinted, and its thickness. I would often sidle up to passenger side mirrors to get a more exact idea of what I was dealing with. After twelve months of religiously following Auntie Adella’s prescription, I had to admit that the whole scheme was a failure. The vitamins had neither halted nor speeded up my forehead’s march upward. My fingernails were healthier than ever, though that may just have been a coincidence. I lost faith in voodoo cures, and turned my attention to western medicine. Before I move on to my visits with doctors, this seems like an appropriate place for an update on my romantic progress. Sometime during the “vitamin year”, my virginity fell by the wayside. I gained access to the garter belt of a professor of mine at the university. We shared intense meetings during her office hours where we would talk about academic things like the French Revolution, and the sociopolitical history of the bookmark. These were powerful, moving debates. It was clear to her that I was no ordinary student, and it was clear to me that she was no ordinary teacher. One day, in a moment of unusual bravery, I walked over to her sitting behind her desk and kissed her. I remember my hair was looking particularly potent that day, and I didn’t want to waste it. We started to see each other outside of class. Before we consummated our love, we used to have long make out sessions on her couch, where she would run her fingers through my hair, and, despite the ecstasy of the moment, I couldn’t get past the fact that her aggressive hand was taking down half a dozen hairs every time it passed through my fantastic, blonde locks. But I rallied—

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I figured if a few brave soldiers must fall in pursuit of the ultimate goal, so be it. The morning after I “handed in” my virginity, so to speak, I woke up and immediately thought of my hair. I remember the sun shining brightly into her bedroom, but I wasn’t afraid of it. I reached up and felt my head. The spell has been broken, I thought. The curse is lifted. Huzzah! I dressed quickly, bid her a kissy farewell, and left to conquer the day. I immediately headed over to a car window, and the feedback was good. Sex had cured me. I mussed up my hair with a vigor that I had been too terrified to do for the past couple years, and decided to take the long walk home.

“How long do I have?” “Anywhere between three and five years.” It was terminal. I knew it. To my horror and dismay, my shower later that day produced the usual number of hairs clogging my drain. I continued to see little hairs on my pillow each morning. There were unkind car windows and side mirrors. We continued our affair for a few months, and I continued to hemorrhage hair. The terrible reality was confirmed—I had not fucked my baldness away. It was at this moment that I turned to science. I visited my dermatologist, Dr. Fishberg. Dr. Fishberg was grotesquely bald himself, with a compensatory extra-hairy neck. Fishberg enjoyed having long, inane conversations with his patients even though his waiting room was always packed. This mystified me. But he was solid skin-man, and I knew that his fatuousness was just another obstacle I’d have to go through on my quest to keep my head intact. “I think I’m going bald,” I said after he had produced a three-minute diatribe about why Bill Clinton’s skin made him irresistible to women. “Am I going bald?” He looked through my hair with a popsicle stick. “Is your dad bald?” He asked. “No.” “Your brother?” “No.”


“Uncles?” “No.” This was looking promising. I had hairy genes! “Well.” He tossed the popsicle stick into the garbage. It was a good shot. “It doesn’t matter. You have male pattern baldness.” “But—I protested. No one in my family is bald! Didn’t you just ask?” He shrugged. “It’s got to start somewhere.” “How long do I have?” “Anywhere between three and five years.” It was terminal. I knew it. “What about vitamins?” I asked. “Am I too stressed? Do I need to be more gregarious with women?” “Look, there’s no cure,” he said, pointing to his own giant bald head as evidence. “But you can arrest the process with Propecia.” Fishberg broke it down for me. Propecia was a drug that lowered your testosterone, because going bald was a result of having too much testosterone. Oh cruel irony! He said it cost sixty dollars a month and that 2% of patients reported difficulties achieving erections as a side effect, but that none of his patients had ever had a problem. How did he know? I wondered. Two percent was certainly a small percent, but that, combined with the money, was enough to scare me away. I had just started using my erection for good, now this. I slumped off Fishberg’s examination table, and back out into the too-bright world. It was all this, Your Honor, that led to that fateful day when I slammed into Mrs. ________’s Corrolla. Yes, I was checking out my hair in the rear view. But when you’re balding, you can’t help seeing yourself everywhere. Looking into the mirror is like looking into a before-and-after photograph. It’s actually more like a before-now-and-after photograph. You simultaneously remember how your hair looked back when it was full, how it looks now that it’s lost some steam, and project forward to what it will look like when you’re bald. You see three versions of yourself transposed over each other, like tracing paper, or one of those glitzy holograms that shows different images, depending on how you let the light reflect off them. The road becomes just another distraction.

" "

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From the Depths Contributors

Azia Archer

Yellow Painted Toe Nails Azia Archer is a 26 year old woman creating lives and words and discovering as much as possible.

Anne M. Campbell

The Bathroom Sink Anne M. Campbell lives in the wilds of Northern Canada. She has an Associate of Arts Degree and a Bachelor of Arts in English. Anne reads voraciously and has been writing since she learned how to spell.

Charlene Logan Burnett

The Bog Charlene Logan Burnett’s work has appeared or is forthcoming in A cappella Zoo, Literary Mama, RHINO, Three Coyotes, Weave Magazine, and other journals. She earned an M.F.A. in playwriting from the University of California, Davis. She is on the editorial board for A cappella Zoo.

Kanchan Chatterjee

On Reaching Tagore's Shantiniketan Kanchan Chatterjee is a 44 year old male executive working in the finance ministry of government of India. Although he has no background in the literary arts, he enjoys writing poetry whenever he has an opportunity. He lives in Jamshedpur, Jharkhand, India.

Juliet Childers

My Favorite Hobby Juliet Childers is a senior at the University of Houston and a student in the Creative Writing program. Her concentration is poetry, but she enjoys writing fiction as well. It is her goal to have her work impact someone in a positive way, even if just one single person.

Diane Dooley

Monster Diane Dooley was born in the Channel Islands and grew up in Scotland. After many years of moving and traveling she finally settled down in Upstate New York, where the summers are short and the winters just might kill you. She writes science fiction, romance and horror - sometimes all in the same story. You can track down Diane's short stories and novellas via her blog, Writing, Stuff and Nonsense.

Larry Gaffney

Soldier Boy Larry Gaffney’s novel, One Good Year, published by Level 4 Press, was a finalist in the Indie Excellence awards for Best General Fiction. Short stories, poems, and satires have appeared in Rosebud, Light Quarterly,

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Opium, Chronicle of Higher Education, Underground Voices, YPR, Thieves Jargon, Eclectica, and Rumble. His short story, Lost Dog, appeared in the debut issue of From the Depths and was nominated for the Pushcart Prize by Haunted Waters Press. His latest novel, Abbadon, published by Post Mortem Press is available on on Amazon.

Jeff Gandell

The Testimony Jeff Gandell is a Montreal writer, comic, and musician. He teaches English and writing at Dawson College.

Juleigh Howard-Hobson

The Table Among various awards, Juleigh is a Million Writers Award "Notable Story" writer, a Predators and Editor's top ten finisher (single poem) and has been nominated for both the Best of the Net and the Pushcart Prize. She has also been recently shortlisted for the Holland Park Press Angels and Devils Poetry Prize, London. She is the Assistant Poetry Editor at Able Muse.

Josette M. Keelor

Safe Way Josette M. Keelor is a writer and editor, who spends her days chasing down lifestyle stories for the Northern Virginia Daily and her nights chasing around the characters in her fiction. In the last three years she has written three novels and is in the final stretch of editing the first. She lives in Virginia's Northern Shenandoah Valley with her husband Ryan and cats, Houdini and Ally.

Kirby Light

It Is What It Is Kirby Light worked for a year and a half on the art and literary magazine Phoenix and is published in the 2007, 2008 and 2010 editions of the magazine. He has also participated in the 1000 words series PDX and won second place for the Hawkins/ Galivan award for fiction at Clark College. He has work featured in the 2011 September and October issues of Down in the Dirt Magazine. He has works forthcoming in 100 Words, Bleeding Heart Cadaver, Advocate, Taproot Magazine, Nomad’s Choir, Long Story Short, and Chantarelle’s Notebook.

Heather Marie

The Face in the Mirror Heather Marie is a 19 year old aspiring writer. Her works have appeared in The Grayson County Record and The Cougar Growl. Haunted Waters Press considers Heather to be one of their most talented young contributors.


Little Old Lady in a Blue Van Diane Merkel has been writing for as long as she can remember; however only recently decided to take a stab at getting her work out there in the literary world. Several years ago, she began studying fiction writing in New York City where she traded fiction stories for essays and research papers as she completed her Master's Degree in Childhood Education, Literacy, and English as a Second Language. Once again, she has picked up her fiction writing and has recently had one of her stories published in the March 2012 issue of Write from Wrong online literary magazine which was later selected for the magazine’s ‘Best of the Year’ Issue. She is honored to have a short story appearing in the summer 2012 issue of Haunted Waters Press: From the Depths.

Bonnie Nish

In Memory Bonnie L. Nish is founder and Executive Director of Pandora’s Collective Outreach Society, a charitable organization in the literary arts based in Vancouver British Columbia, and Executive Producer of the Summer Dreams Literary Arts Festival, an outdoor festival now in its ninth year. Published widely, you may view some of her work in The Toronto Quarterly, Quills, WordWorks, and on-line at Blue Print Review, Hack Writers and Green Boathouse. Bonnie is currently finishing her Masters in Arts Education at SFU and about to pursue her PhD in Expressive Arts Therapy at the European Graduate school in Swizterland. Bonnie lives in Vancouver British Columbia, Canada with her children.

Douglas Olmstead

Remembering Something that Meant So Much Back Then Douglas Olmstead believes the universe is like one big iceberg. “Poetry acts as an ice pick, chipping away at the infinite with sparks of ice making the universe more manageable. And if I can have ice tea while I’m at it, all the better.”

Sarah Segal

Solacing the Moon Sarah Segal works as an educator in Montgomery County, Maryland, in Special Education. When not teaching, she writes poetry and flash fiction. She is currently working on a memoir about her father's brain injury and her family's concurrent experience titled Regeneration. It is expected to be completed sometime in February of 2013. This is the context underlying Solacing the Moon.

Chaitali Sen

The Aviary Chaitale Sen’s work has been published by New England Review, Brink Magazine, Kartika Review, Every Day Fiction, and the Asian Pacific American Journal.

Haley Shepherd

Delirium Haley Shepherd is 18 years old and lives with her family in Gresham, Oregon. She is a recent graduate from Open Door Christian High School. Sports, animals, church, and friends take up most of her time. As a writer, she is still exploring different styles and themes and looks forward to improving her writing as she gets older. The staff at Haunted Waters Press looks forward to seeing her grow as a writer.

Troy K. Stone Sr.

In My Mirror Troy Stone’s poem The Secret is included in both Weatherford College’s 2009 anthology Canis Latran and in the 2012 Chaos West of the Pecos Volume 16 published by Texas Mountain Trail Writers. Also in Chaos are eight additional poems by Troy. He is currently working on a volume of poetry including over 400 poems that were written from the result of a resolution to write a poem a day for the year of 2011.

Gerald Warfield

srotubirtnoC shtpeD eht morF

Diane L. Merkel

The Mirror of Things Past Gerald Warfield’s short story Poly Islands won second prize in the first quarter of the 2011 Writers of the Future contest. His humorous story The Origin of Third Person in Paleolithic Epic Poetry took first place this year in the nationally syndicated Grammar Girl contest. His poetry has appeared in numerous magazines including New Mythes, edited by Scott Barnes. His poem Rivers Do Not Flow Within appeared in the Winter 2011 issue of From the Depths. Gerald published fifteen how-to books before turning to fiction. He is a graduate of the Odyssey Writers Workshop (2010).

Danna Molly Weiss

Yasser Arafat in Queens Danna Molly Weiss was most recently published in New Contrast, the South African Literary Journal. She was trained at the poetry workshops at the University of Virginia, University of New Orleans, and Harvard University. She is currently revising her first collection of poems.

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Summer 2012

From the Depths

Production Notes

Cover design by Susan Warren Utley. “Rearview Mirror” is a derivative work of Robert J. Lawhead’s Polaroid transfer, “Blue Street” and Susan Warren Utley’s photo “Buick.” Cover shot taken at The Smithsonian's National Museum of American History. Contributing photographer, Robert J. Lawhead provided several Polaroid transfers for the Art & Poetry section. Dave Bledsoe of Freeverse Photography provided the image used in “Soldier Boy.” MakeStickers.com Custom Bumper Stickers generously allowed us to use their online bumper sticker generator to create the artwork for the Table of Contents. Text is Times New Roman, Roman Antique and Baskerville. Cover is Hood Ornament, Cracked, and Bank Gothic. Titles, Headers and Authors are Roman Antique, Mom’s Typewriter and Royal. Signatures are James Fajardo. Layout done in Pages from Apple. Artwork created in ArtRage Studio Pro from Ambient Design. Artistic image manipulation on PostworkShop from Xycod, and Color Splash Studio from MacPhun LLC. This issue was created on a Mac.

Credits & Permissions

In addition to many of the copyrighted images listed below, some of the images in this issue are photographs or derivative works of photographs which exist within the public domain either by gift, copyright expiration, or they were created by a government employee during the course of work. We at Haunted Waters Press would like to acknowledge and thank the original creators, artists, and photographers, for without their contributions, this issue would be incomplete. Page Cover

Credit “Rearview Mirror,” a derivative work by Susan Warren Utley © Haunted Waters Press 2012 based on “Buick,” Photograph by Susan Warren Utley, ©2012 and “Blue Street” a Polaroid transfer by Robert J. Lawhead from original Photograph by Robert J. Lawhead, © 2012. 2-3, 38-39 “Cross Country,” Photograph by Savannah Renée Warren, © 2009. 4-5 Photograph of vintage car provided for free use from Dennis Hill & Friends at Fontplay. 4-5 Bumper Stickers created by permission at “MakeStickers.com Custom Bumper Stickers" http://www.makestickers.com. 6-7 “Street Sign: Directional Arrow,” Photograph by Savannah Renée Warren, © 2012. 8-9 “Bathroom wall with ivory or off white colored tile,” Free picture for any use via Photos Public Domain. 9 “Bathroom,” Photograph of a 1930s photograph, author unknown, taken by Karen Horton, 2007. 10-11 “Band of Little Green Brothers,” Photograph by Dave Bledsoe of Freeverse Photography, © August, 2011. 10-11 “U.S. Soldiers at Bougainville (Solomon Islands) March 1944,” By the U.S. Army, 1944. This media is available in the holdings of the National Archives and Records Administration, cataloged under the ARC Identifier (National Archives Identifier) 531183 12-13 “Goldfasan,” (Chrysolophus pictus) Hedwig Storch (Own work), March 24, 2008. GFDL or CC-BY-SA-3.0 via Wikimedia Commons. 12-19 Chicken Wire by Chocomayjo ©2011-2012. Donated for free use.

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“Eggs of Tragopans, pheasants etc.,” William Beebe: A monograph of the pheasants. (created 1918-22). Public domain image via Wikimedia Commons. 17 “Shovels from Japan,” By Angie from Sawara, Chiba-ken, Japan (Flickr), May 20, 2005. CC-BY-2.0 via Wikimedia Commons. 19 “Goldfasan,” (Chrysolophus pictus) Hedwig Storch (Own work), March 24, 2008. GFDL or CC-BY-SA-3.0 via Wikimedia Commons. 20 “East 143rd Street–St. Mary's Street (IRT Pelham Line),” by David Shankbone, September 2007. CC-BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons. 20-21 “143rd St., The Bronx, New York,” By Phillip Capper from Wellington, New Zealand, February, 2008. CC-BY-2.0 via Wikimedia Commons 22-23 “Penny Dreadful Collection,” Photographs by Savannah Renée Warren and Alec Spidalieri, © May 2012. 24-25 “A match” By Paolo Neo, a public domain image. 26 “Bicileta” Polaroid transfer by Robert J. Lawhead, from original Photograph by Robert J. Lawhead, © 2012. 28 “S.E. Tolman Street” Polaroid transfer by Robert J. Lawhead, from original Photograph by Robert J. Lawhead, © 2012. 29 “Shutters” Polaroid transfer by Robert J. Lawhead, from original Photograph by Robert J. Lawhead, © 2012. 31 “La Silla Azul” Polaroid transfer by Robert J. Lawhead, from original Photograph by Robert J. Lawhead, © 2012. 32 “Arlene’s Sunflower” Polaroid transfer by Robert J. Lawhead, from original Photograph by Robert J. Lawhead, © 2012. 35 “Common in Boston” Polaroid transfer by Robert J. Lawhead, from original Photograph by Robert J. Lawhead, © 2012. 36 “Blue Street” Polaroid transfer by Robert J. Lawhead, from original Photograph by Robert J. Lawhead, © 2012. 38-39 “Wiper Blade,” Photograph by Susan Warren Utley, © May, 2012. Photograph of raindrops on glass provided for free use from Dennis Hill & Friends at Fontplay. “Cross Country,” Photograph by Savannah Renée Warren, © 2009. 43 “Blue Caravan,” derivative work of a public domain image, author unknown. 44-45 “Syringe with Green Fluid,” By Andres Rueda CC-BY-2.0 via Wikimedia Commons. 46-47 “Lieu : Île d'Ouessant,” (Bretagne/France) By Daniel Plazanet (Daplaza), October 2006. GFDL or CC-BY-SA-3.0 via Wikimedia Commons. 51 “Unidentified Caterpillar” By Andrew Magill from Boulder, USA, CC-BY-2.0 via Wikimedia Commons. 52-53 “Table,” artwork by Susan Warren Utley. 54-55 “Safe Way” a derivative work by Susan Warren Utley based on “Sherwood Park Safeway, 1961,” by Jerry "Woody" from Edmonton, Canada, November 24, 1961. CC-BY-2.0 via Wikimedia Commons. 56-57 “Stop, No Hitchhiking,” a derivative work of “Stop Sign,” Photograph by Savannah Renée Warren, © May 2012, and “No Hitchhiking,” a public domain photograph taken by a U.S. government employee via Wikipedia Commons. 58-59 “Sketch of the overview of the courtroom...” By Beinecke Library 1961. CC-BY-2.0 via Wikimedia Commons. 61 Photograph of highway provided for free use from Dennis Hill & Friends at Fontplay. End Cover “Stop Sign,” Photograph by Savannah Renée Warren, © May 2012

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Call for Submissions

horrorFrom the Depths suspenseFall 2012 terror Haunted Waters Press Open Calls for Submissions: From the Depths: Fall Issue 2012 Penny Fiction: A Flash Fiction Writing Competition Online Literary Content

From the Depths: Fall Issue 2012 Theme: “Horror: Dark & Dreadful� Media: Electronic/Digital (Print issues forthcoming.) Publication Date: September 2012 Deadline: August 31, 2012 Bring on the strange, the twisted, and the bizarre. We are looking for stories and poetry that will make us want to sleep with the lights on. Psychological thrillers, bedtime stories for very bad children, and unusually likable anti-heroes are sure to please. Pretty vampires need not apply. Give us the grim, the dark, and the seriously creepy....just scare us already! Penny Fiction: A Flash Fiction Writing Competition Penny Dreadful is also accepting works of flash fiction for the second installment of Penny Fiction in the Fall 2012 issue of From the Depths. Your challenge: Scare the pants off us in 13 words...exactly. Email your entry to pennyfiction@hauntedwaterspress.com. Include one quirky fact about yourself in 13 words or less. Make it interesting or Penny reserves the right to make you appear more interesting. Online Literary Content Ideal for writers who prefer not to be bound by theme based submissions, we continue to accept works of fiction, creative nonfiction, and poetry for our online literary content. Works submitted here are also considered for upcoming issues of From the Depths. Our Winter 2012 call for submissions will be making an early appearance this year. Look for it shortly. For more details & submission links please visit Haunted Waters Press Submissions.

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Robert J. Lawhead Photography Video Editing Services Sound Design Soundtrack Production Location Audio for Film & Video www.rjlawhead.com

Freeverse Photography Photographer David Bledsoe http:// www.freeversephotography.com/

Create and order your own custom bumper stickers online at MakeStickers.com Custom Bumper Stickers. Advertise in From the Depths

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From the Depths is a publication of HAUNTED WATERS PRESS For more information please visit: http://www.hauntedwaterspress.com Or email us at: info@hauntedwaterspress.com

From the Depths, Summer 2012: A Literary Journal  

From the Depths is a quarterly literary journal from Haunted Waters Press featuring works of prose, creative nonfiction and poetry. Issues a...

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