Clic k this to ge t i in p ssue rint !
In the Summer 2013 Issue: Featuring works from Jakob Guanzon, Claire Fuller, Clay Steakley, J.R. Langston, Art Heifetz, Tom Larsen, Shawn Aveningo, Mary Marie Dixon, Kristen Yamamoto, Elizabeth W. Seaver & more. Penny Fiction featuring 42 Word Stories Edited by Penny Dreadful
Copyright © 2013 HAUNTED WATERS PRESS. All Rights Reserved. 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 ninety days following publication. From the Depths is a quarterly publication of Haunted Waters Press. Cover design by Susan Warren Utley © 2013. Please see Credits & Permissions for attributions. 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 2013 For more information please visit: http://www.hauntedwaterspress.com Or email us at: email@example.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 dedication of the contributing editorial staff who give their time so generously. Funding and support for Haunted Waters Press provided by The Man. Thank you for encouraging us to follow our dreams.
Summer 2013 EDITORS Susan Warren Utley Savannah Renée Warren PENNY FICTION EDITOR Penny Dreadful FEATURES EDITOR Savannah Renée Warren DESIGN & LAYOUT Susan Warren Utley CREATIVE SUPPORT TEAM Debby Warren-Manning Barbara Pellegrino Rebekah Postupak Alec Spidalieri
In this issue...
Letter To My 2 Year Old Cousin by Kristen Yamamoto
Feed the Fish by Kristen Yamamoto
8 Letter from the Editors
Loves Me, Loves Me Not by Elizabeth W. Seaver
Learning to Shut Up by Clay Steakley
Captivated by Brittany N. Gilbert
Breakdown by Tom Larsen Penny Fiction Edited by Penny Dreadful
Confidants by Katherine Givens
The Wallflower by Katherine Givens
Words of a Feather by Donna McLaughlin Schwender
New Year’s 2011 by Tiffany Bess
Letting You Go by Pamela Arlov
Saving Summer by Mark Labbe
Unfinished Sentences by Shawn Aveningo The Stranger’s Letters by Claire Fuller
Pickalilly by Mary Marie Dixon
A Beautiful Wife by Art Heifetz
The Ledge of Sheila by J.R. Langston
The Lovely Penny Authors
To Lie Without Weight by Jakob Guanzon
The Lovely Contributors
Submit to From the Depths Fall 2013 Stories from Home Credits & Permissions
Letter from the Editors...
Dear Readers, Way back when--I won’t tell you the year--I enrolled in an ornithology class at Clark College in Vancouver, Washington. Not because I was interested in birds, but because it filled an empty spot in my schedule and I needed the science credits. The class met weekly during lunch and wrapped up with a road trip to Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. What more could I ask of a filler class? In the end, the “filler class” turned out to be a most rewarding experience. Not because I walked away with a plethora of scientific knowledge floating around in my brain, but because it brought forth in me a great love and appreciation for birds--one that has stayed with me all these years. As I sit on my deck on warm summer evenings entertained by Cardinals, Goldfinches, and Chickadees flitting from feeder to bath and rail to tree, I am fascinated by the songs and calls that fill the air. Each chirp, whistle, shriek, and cry has function and meaning--a complex system of communication unique to each species of bird. While contemplating the layout for our conversation themed issue, we could not think of a better way to illustrate than to pay tribute to our fine feathered friends. Of course, summer would not be complete without peaches, mimosas, and a couple of catfish. So we threw in a few of those as well. We are proud to present the Summer 2013 issue of From the Depths. Our seventh issue features works of fiction and poetry driven by conversations and the sharing of words and ideas. Enough with the small talk. Enjoy! Best regards, Susan Warren Utley Savannah Renée Warren Editors, HWP
Feed the Fish I stand at the edge of the water, my favorite pink dress blows in the breeze and my panda shoes squeak with every step. Peering over the edge of the streamâ€™s clear waters I spy a little catfish with big empty eyes looking straight back at me. I squeal and start to run away but my mother is right behind me. She takes my hand and places a slice of sweetbread in it. Go onee-chan. Go feed um. Dey stay hungry. Das why dey lookin at you, you know. We stand at the edge of the water while the breeze blows the plumeria off my left ear into the murky brown-purple waters. I spy a huge deformed catfish with its scaly belly dragging on the ground. I gasp and take a few steps backward but my boyfriend is right behind me. He takes my hand and places a slice of sweetbread in it. Go babe. Go feed um. Dey small kine creepy, but dey probably stay hungry too. She stands at the edge of the water while her favorite yellow dress blows in the breeze. Peering over the edge of the caution tape she canâ€™t even see her reflection in the infested sludge bath. A monstrous catfish with an extra set of gills and no eyes stares back at my daughter. She squeals and starts to run away but I am right behind her. I take her hand and place a slice of sweetbread in it. Go honey. Go feed um. Not his fault he look like dat. He stay hungry too. Go.
Letter To My 2 Year Old Cousin Dear Tamtam, I hope you can still run through the sugar cane fields, climb the twisting, knotted banyan trees, swim in the clear, cobalt waters, bathe in the milk-orange sun, and call it home. No boys. I hope you dabble in dribbling streams, dipping your toes into the water’s face to peek at another world. Pluck falling stars from the skies and grasp their fiery tails in your cupped palms and listen to their wishes. We’ve sailed our ships into darker waters, weaved out fingers into foreign flowers, and stitched our hearts into our land. Is progress really progress? Don’t be afraid to look back. Hope rests in your eyes. Blossom as we did.
Learning to Shut Up by Clay Steakley It was chilly and she, of course, forgot a jacket. He gave her his sport coat and she draped it over her shoulders like a cape. They walked side by side, hips almost, but not quite touching. He'd put on a tie for the occasion, and it flapped around him in the breeze, making him feel ridiculous. It was a manmade lake in a public park - more of a pond than a lake, really, but large enough for a winding trail along its perimeter and for geese and ducks and coots, which are much like ducks but not.
He imagined how the two of them must look from across the water, her in his jacket, him with his flittering tie and hands in pockets, both in chin-to-chest, contemplative mode. Like characters in a Woody Allen film, walking and talking, walking and talking.
She was saying something.
Since he'd quit drinking (which was news he hadn't yet shared with her, but that was burning a hole through his pocket) he'd started dressing nicer, smarter. People he knew asked if he'd gotten a new job or if it was a special occasion. When he explained that no, he just felt better this way, they narrowed their eyes and looked at him sideways and grinned grins he didn't like. His therapist, though, told him it was a good sign. A sign that he was picking himself up, dusting himself off, and all that horseshit.
He'd worried that she would find it suspicious, him suddenly showing up in a tweed jacket and tie after years of jeans and t-shirts, and he considered putting on some of his old clothes before he left to meet her. In the end, he didn't, and she didn't seem to notice. He found himself a little disappointed.
"Hmm?" "I said, 'what are you thinking about?'" "Nothing," he replied. "Childhood." "What?" "You're so nostalgic." "It's not that." "It's not a criticism, David. It's just true." They walked around a goose in the path. It gave them a squonk and waddled on. She watched him for a few steps, deciding whether she was ready to change the subject. She wasn't. "What about your childhood?" "I don't know. Just seemed like there was more then." "More what?"
She asked to meet, but he chose the location. It was a good spot, because it bore no mutual emotional freight. It was a place she'd never been, but would find charming. It was a place he went on occasion to get out of the house.
Why she wanted to meet he didn't like to think about. They hadn't seen one another in months. Not even talked over the phone except to handle occasional business or convey some family matter that may concern the other. She had done a much better job than he at moving on, resettling, forging bravely forward into singlehood. He had few friends and, since he worked from home, he tended toward solitude almost to the point of reclusiveness.
"Technically, there was less of you, since you were a kid."
Or that was how she saw it, he knew. She worried about him, he knew. "It's pretty here," she said. "Yeah," he said. He liked this place, especially on grayer days like today, because it reminded him of Back East. Some deciduous trees, expanses of grass, something in the landscaping that made him think of the Maryland suburbs of his childhood and long, slow afternoons sliding gently into evening. Cars whirring by on the street, laughter and tinkling glasses from the warm yellow windows and patios of houses. The sounds of bicycle tires on pavement, running water in distant kitchens, women calling children's names. And himself in the deep shade of some large bush, playing army with a neighbor kid. Three houses over from home and it felt like a hundred miles.
"More something." "Space. Time. Me." "Maybe. Definitely felt like more." "Maybe you just paid closer attention to what there was." He worked his cheeks like a bellows and gave a lip-plopping sigh. Nodded. He never could communicate these things to her. Not because she wasn't willing to understand, but because they were past language, and she was not a "past language" kind of person. She was a "say what you mean" person. "There was more of what I like and less of what I don't, I guess," he said. "The good things disappear. They disappear so slow you don't notice. You look at something and don't realize it's the last time you'll ever see it." "It's what happens. Things go away." "Everything gets replaced by a Walmart. Or a city. Or a bombing range." He kicked at an invisible something in the path. "Everything gets erased." He had a tendency to talk in terms of "Everythings." She let out a breath and narrowed her eyes at a duck. "There's one less color in the rainbow than when we were kids," he said. "Indigo," she said.
Learning to Shut Up by Clay Steakley
She smiled right at him and shook her head the way she used to smile at him and shake her head before the smiling and shaking began to mean something else. They walked, and he watched her. She looked older. They hadn't seen one another in months and so very rarely over the past year or so. In his memories she was frozen in her late twenties, the girl he'd married, had adventures and mishaps with. When you live with someone, see them day in and day out, you don't notice their aging any more than you notice your own. You continue, in your mind, to be twenty-three years old, until one day your middle-aged self catches you by surprise in a department store mirror. She looked older and it made her even prettier. "You look great," he said. She smiled and looked down and brushed her hair back and he noticed a little pink come into her ears. "Thanks," she said. "You look good too." He wondered how he really looked to her. "Good" was a dodge and not remotely accurate. This morning in the bathroom he ran a hand over his head and a little thicket of hair came out between his fingers. Since he stopped drinking, he'd lost weight but he felt it just made him look drawn. Constantly distracted and sleepless. He'd developed a displacement gesture to help him cope with the urge to drink. He tapped the fingertips of each hand in succession against his thumb tips - usually in opposing directions, so that the right pinky was tapping the right thumb as the left index finger tapped the left thumb. And so on. He knew it gave him a twitchy, disturbed look when he did it in public, but it helped. It helped every day at just around 5 p.m. when the need for a drink came over him so strong that he grew short of breath and was wracked with the desire to sit on the kitchen floor and cry. He took slow breaths and tapped away.
She stopped, causing an elderly couple walking a dog to pull up short. She gave them an apologetic smile, which they returned, and then she studied his face. "You did." "Three months." "No, I mean, I can tell. I can." She squinted. "That'sâ€Ś God, that's fantastic. Congratulations." She embraced him, and the smell of her hair and body washed over him as he traveled ten years into the past and back. His caught his jacket as it slid down her back and resettled it on her shoulders. She pulled away, but he held on to her arms gently and smiled into her eyes. The attraction between them was as palpable as ever and part of what kept them from seeing each other more often. They hadn't had sex since the divorce. There had been one rushed, fumbling, desperately horny attempt, but his sudden bout of weeping quickly brought it to an end. He had never quite shaken the idea that they would sleep together again. Maybe it was true. Maybe it was just a way of coping with the fact that they would never sleep together again. "Yeah," he said. "David." She disengaged and started walking again. "Sorry, I justâ€Ś" "You just what?" "Nothing." "The drinking wasn't the problem, David." "I know. It's what I did when I drank." "No," she said. Like the time he punched the ironing board. "No," she said again. Or when he punched the wall next to her head. "'No' what?" Or when he punched himself in the head. "It's too late," she said. "That was a bad time for everybody."
It helped when his blood itched and his skin was too small and he was so sad and defeated and he knew with the utmost certainty that just one drink would return all his systems to perfect working order and he could pull himself off the bed and get back to it.
"Can we drop it?" It was the tone she used to warn him that continuing this would end in her crying and him regretful.
It wasn't really helping right now, though. All it did was make him look more nervous, more awkward and wrong. He shoved his hands in his pockets.
They walked a little more, coming to the area near the playground where the ducks, geese, and coots gravitated to collect dropped bits of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and popcorn.
"I quit drinking."
Along with learning not to drink, he was learning to shut up. And he did.
She stood with her back to the playground and looked across the little lake. A couple in a paddleboat floundered and laughed out there. "I like this park," she said.
"Coots." "Oh. What's a coot?" "Black bird with funny feet that kind of looks like a duck."
"Me too," he said. "Reminds me of Back East."
She smiled at him over her tea. "Smart-ass."
He smiled back.
A little girl, maybe three years old, tottered past them, laughing and cutting a swath through the ducks and coots straight for the water. He reached out by sheer instinct and caught the hood of her jacket and pulled her back from the lake. A second later, the child's mother arrived, panting and frantic. She gave him a thankful smile and nod, then unleashed on the little girl in a torrent of Spanish. They made their way back up to the playground. He and she stood and looked at one another. She crossed her arms and looked at her feet. "Do you miss it?" "Miss what?" "Do you miss Back East?" she asked and looked up at him. "Oh," he said, and raised his eyebrows and looked off at the trees and the jet trail in the sky over there on the other side of the lake. He was wary of these false intimacies. These moments where conversations pivot on a seemingly pointed, seemingly poignant non sequitur. "Do you think you laugh enough?" "What was the name of that restaurant where we…?" "Do you ever wish we'd had children?" They seem true, but don't come from any real curiosity, and the person asking the question never really listens to the answer because they're thinking about their own answer, which, in the end, was the point of the question. "Do you miss Back East?" "Not really," he lied. She pulled the sport coat tighter around her shoulders. "Let's get a cup of coffee," he said. They walked to the little boathouse café that he liked so much. She ordered black tea and cake. He got coffee. While she waited for her cake, he prepared her tea with one splash of skim milk and two sugars. He handed it to her and she took it. His own jacket brushed him as she passed and he realized that it would smell like her when he got it back. They sat in the back corner under a watercolor of the lake and another watercolor of the geese, ducks, and coots. "Those little black ducks have funny feet," she said. "They're coots," he said. "What?"
"You should have gotten a pastry or something," she said. "I'm fine." "You're not hungry?" "I'm not hungry. And I'm trying to get in shape." That was a sorry pitch for a compliment and grasp for affection. "I think you look great," she said. "Yeah, well." "Really. Slim." "Maybe, but I'm soft." "Well, you look nice." She gave her tone of finality and he shut up. They looked across the table at one another and smiled and drank their drinks and couldn't break eye contact. He felt his ears growing hot and felt a shifting movement somewhere lower. She tilted her head almost imperceptibly. An automatic gesture he'd seen a thousand times and loved a thousand times. He watched the tendon on the side of her throat go taut and he could feel the curve of it on his fingers. Of the scores of despairing fantasies that flicked through his mind on sleepless, dry nights, there was one he clung to most. They were brought together by something suitably tragic - maybe her mother had died. Back East in a spitting wintry mix, he attended the funeral. He would be stoic and solid, with wet snow collecting on his shoulders as he solemnly greeted her father, then turned to her and nodded. Later that night, he would be at his hotel bar, staring into space, when her reflection would appear in the mirror behind the bottles. She would sit with him and order a drink and it would be just like a movie. And she would ask to come up to his room and he would agree, and they would both know it was a terrible idea and that in the morning they would regret it and maybe never see one another again, but they'd do it anyway. He cleared his throat and looked out across the lake. "I'm moving back," she said. He had just been on the verge of saying how much this place reminded him of that little boathouse café on the Serpentine where they'd sat to cool off and have a beer on that last trip to London that had been so nice because they'd gotten a chance to get away from everything and remember they were having that heat wave and the hotel didn't have
Learning to Shut Up by Clay Steakley
air-conditioning. But that was probably a false intimacy anyway. "Back?" "Yes." He kept looking out across the lake. "And here I thought you wanted to meet to tell me you were getting married or something." "Married? Oh, God, no." "It's not out of the question." He touched his cup and began to rotate it slowly by the rim.
"You should've told me sooner." "Why? So you could give me approval?" "No. Because. I don't know why. Just out of politeness, I guess." "Politeness." She swirled the tea in her cup and joined him in looking out across the lake. "Manners. Courtesy. Something." "I'm sorry I didn't tell you sooner. I didn't want to get you all worked up and then the job not pan out." "I wouldn't get worked up." "You're worked up now."
"Back," he said. "As in Maryland 'back'?"
"Well, now I'm stuck here, aren't I?"
She stirred her tea and watched him. "Stuck here?"
"What if I wanted to move too?"
"What's stopping you?"
"Why?" "Jesus, David. It's easier to live there. Cheaper. My family is all there. I can do plays in Baltimore and D.C. and start having a life again." "But we moved out here for you." "And it didn't work out, did it?" "But the whole reason I'm out here is because we wanted to give you a shot." "That was seven years ago. And like I said, it didn't work out. For either of us." "What are you going to do?" "Well," she pushed her cup away. "I'm going to teach." "Where?" "At the college there."
It was all falling apart, and he knew it, and he didn't know what to do about it, so he got angrier. "You're moving back to get away from me." "I'm moving back to try to fix my life, David. It doesn't have anything to do with you. Besides, I thought you didn't miss Back East." He looked at her, then he looked at his shoe, then he looked back across the lake again and sipped his coffee. The couple in the paddleboat had reached the dock. The man held a hand out to help the woman up. "Pluto's not a planet anymore." "What?" "Pluto. The planet. Or, it used to be a planet. Now they've decided it's a moon or object or something. We don't even have as many planets as we used to." "I don't understand what you're talking about."
He looked at her and she looked at her cup. "You already have the job," he said. "Yes." "For how long?" "It's been up in the air for a few months, but it was definite last week." "A few months?" "Don't get dramatic, David."
"It's not even a planet anymore." "Why do you care?" "Everything's disappearing." "Jesus, David." "Just because some scientists say it's not a planet, that doesn't make it true."
"I'm not getting dramatic, I'm getting indignant."
"Actually, I think that's exactly what it means."
"I think that's bullshit."
He looked at her for a long time and tried to decide why he was indignant.
"I'm talking about Pluto!" People looked over. She glanced around and gave him a look that said, watch it or I'll leave. He slumped over the table and pressed his eyes into his fists. "What about Pluto, David?"
She sighed and looked down into her cup. "I don't want to argue with you about Pluto."
He exhaled the last of his fight and looked at the picture of the coots. "Pluto and indigo," she said. "That's the name of my new band, 'Pluto and Indigo,'" he said. She snorted and laughed and looked him full in the face. "With really long drum solos. And sorcery." They laughed a little, mostly to be polite. "Sorry," he said, and under the table he began his finger tapping again. "Hell, we'll probably talk more after you move Back East than we have out here." She smiled as if to say she doubted it. "You really don't miss it?" she asked. "Out here was never what I'd hoped it would be, but back there never really was either." "What did you hope it would be back there?" "I don't know. Philadelphia Story." "From what I can remember, none of them seemed all that happy." "They were in the end. Katherine Hepburn married Cary Grant again and everybodyâ€Ś" he trailed off. "Anyway, I think that's what I expected. Cocktail trays at dusk and tinkling glasses and garden parties andâ€Ś what. Craftsman houses with big kitchens and linen suits in the summer and women in hats and children running through the back yard. I don't know. That. Does that make any sense?" "Gin and tonics and boats. Yeah." They looked out at the lake some more. "And what did it turn out to be?" she asked. "Just life," he said. "That's why we came out here." "Yep." "And what did out here turn out to be?" He smiled. "Life, dammit." She laughed and raised her cup. "Here's to life, dammit." "Hear, hear." They clinked. "When do you leave?" he asked. "Next week." He was never going to sleep with her again. "That's soon." "Yeah. I have a lot of packing to do. In fact, I should probably get going." He knew he should make a move here. This is when Cary Grant would have put his machinations into play. He should ask her to marry him again. He should ask her if she still loved him. He should stand on the table and shout. He should leave.
"Need any help?" he asked. "Oh, no. I hired movers. It's just the details I have to take care of." "Of course." She stood and began to shrug his jacket off her shoulders. "Keep it," he said. "I couldn't." "No, really. Consider it a going away present. It gets chilly Back East." "It's such a nice jacket." "It's ok. Just make sure there's nothing important in the pockets," he added, hollowed-out and chuckling like a clown. He watched her decide to keep it and wondered what she was thinking. He pictured one of his hairs, stuck just under the fold of the lapel, riding all the way Back East with her and living on that jacket in her closet and maybe sometimes on her shoulders on chilly autumn days so some of his DNA would continue to be a part of her life long after the David facing her had faded into being "my ex-husband - he's still in Los Angeles." Maybe she would drape it like a cape like she was doing now and keep herself warm while she sat in some window nook to read and she would hold it to her nose and smell him. Maybe she'd just take it to the dry cleaners or dump it into a Goodwill box on a curb before she even left town. He stood and they embraced and he smelled her for the last time. "You take care of yourself," she said. He said, "You too." He thought, "I love you." She smiled. They exchanged a clumsy, chaste kiss. "Email me when you get settled." "Ok." "I'll thank you on the first 'Pluto and Indigo' record." She laughed. She began to walk away, stopped, and turned. "You know, you'd think with Pluto gone we'd have more space." "Yeah," he said. "But it's not really gone. It's just less important." She smiled and nodded, then she left. He finished his coffee. It was chilly.
Lo s , Me ve
Lo s Me
m i n a bou que t,
Fee lin gs
Blooms ine xtricable one from a nother,
ds ke dark stran i l g n i t s i w t Stems
ti me .â€?
e ac l p
â€œH an d sa y, Yo u
Elizabeth W. Seaver
pe ta l
Captivated They string a few beautiful words together, pacifying you as if you were a child, then lock you in a pristine cage saying it’s for your protection. Guards stand outside your room to ensure your safety. Maids bring you fine clothes spun with silk as if that would appease you. You are continuously left alone to sit in your cell waiting to be rescued or at the very least, taken from this world. As I watched you look over the walls of the outside with downcast eyes I felt your sorrow. Your loneliness summons me willing me to set you free. In the midst of an unknown future I will say as many times as you wish, “I will not betray you.”
Brittany N. Gilbert
penny fiction edited by Penny Dreadful 1
Penny Fiction Summer 2013
Field Notes: Blue skies, warm breeze, calm waters. 13 penny sightings. 42 words each.
Sighting 1 Duende Birder by Patrick Karl Curley Data At dawn, the corbies began to squabble over
Sighting 4 Recovery Birder by Maryfrances Botkin Data No matter how much she squirmed, her body
felt misplaced in the hard leather chair. She took in a breath and held it as the door opened. The doctor smiled and sat across from her. "You are cancer-free." She could breathe again.
scraps. Roused from sleep and bitter, grieving nightmares by the rasping crows Sighting 5 Reverence outside, he turned wearily and reached Birder by Barbara Pellegrino toward her. Slowly realizing, in the pale light Data They watch as Adam disembarks from the of morning, that she was just a memory. flight. Sighting 2 Love at First Sight “There he is.” Birder by K.Nicole Williams “Do you think he was comfortable? He is a Data He molded his body to hers, a hand clasped war hero; they should have treated him to first class!” near her heart. She inhaled his scent and It only took four to lift the casket from the newness. His eyes were closed and she cargo hold. closed hers, matching his breaths. Simply an hour on this Earth and yet she knew this was Sighting 6 Resuscitation love. Birder by Jeremiah Bass Sighting 3 Among the Ocean Treasures Birder by Gerald Warfield Data The ocean retreated to reveal its treasures,
starfish and scallop shells. Buddy followed me farther out, the sand squishing between our toes. Laughing we plucked mussels from rocks and didn’t hear the roar. Buddy is still there, himself now an ocean treasure.
Data Light evaporated from her cataract covered
eyes as the paramedics tried desperately to revive her. A sensation of flying invigorated her and everything started to make sense. Her long deceased husband hovered within reach. She smiled… “Clear!” A jolt pulled her back.
9 Sighting 7 Nine Words Birder by Cathy Adams Data “Stop talking so much or lightning will strike
Sighting 11 Wednesdays Birder by Deanna Willis Data I ask if she remembers.
you,” said Aunt Muley. I was four then, and she scared me so badly I wet my pants. She had not spoken a word all summer. Not one. I guess I was worth nine.
She remembers the trips we took, weeks I spent with them in the summer, all my sick days when I wasn't actually sick and she still shares her childhood memories with me. She remembers. I'll never forget.
Sighting 8 Oceans Birder by Kate LaDew Data When I was a little girl, my father told me
the sky was just a big mirror, reflecting oceans. He’s gone now, and I’m not so young myself, but every morning I look out the window, searching for sharks in the sky.
Sighting 12 Across the Room Birder by H.E. Saunders Data Her high heels clicked sharply. Prettier,
Sighting 9 Courage Birder by Jess Carson Data Jerry saw the flash. Cami sat at the next
table snapping pictures as she flipped her hair. They pinged on her feed within seconds. Sighting 13 Birder He hesitated before boldly commenting on Data one. After refreshing the page ten times, he grinned. Cami “liked” it. Sighting 10 She Ties Her Tongue in Tall Tales Birder by Tina Wayland Data She ties her tongue in tall tales. Knots it in
lies. She opens her mouth and the car fills with fictions. And although he loved her, once, he drives them both off the bridge. Thankful for the gift of an honest scream.
sleeker, sexier. Evidence of her new life, new job, new loves. No more morning runs, sunrise-kissed mornings and days on the beach dashing through the sand. Across the room, buried and forgotten, an old shoelace reminisces. Harmony by Donna J. Mortensen We sit silently at the kitchen table, drumming our keyboards in syncopated rhythm. The unsullied calendar hangs, incriminating. You speak. “I didn’t buy a card. You?” “No. There’s still time. Wanna’ go now?” The stillness breathes. “Happy Anniversary tomorrow.” “Yeah. You too.”
by Tom Larsen
The weathermen were beside themselves, flailing at their maps with angry suns beating down and squiggly lines rising up, flinching at their five-day grids of bigger suns and dark clouds trailing lightning bolts. Record-breaking bakers tailing into the foreseeable, a bona fide heat wave in a summer with no stomach for it. Brace yourself folks, those forecasters warned, flush with the first whiff of weather since winter. That gray and lifeless losing season, blizzards forecast when no blizzards would come. This was different. You could tell by the banter turned giddy, the spotlight at last, weather persons from Mobile to Maine seizing their moment and beating it senseless. You could feel heat coming, almost hear it sizzling up the seacoast, practically smell it wafting north in a dank, fetid blob. Hot, humid, hell on earth. And this time they were right. 20
about, names he can’t place, growls of outrage. When was it she became so outraged?
He’s studying his reflection in the bathroom mirror when he hears her come home. Been at it for some time, first from a distance, blurring his focus until he looks years younger, the gray premature rather than right on schedule, then up close, dangerously close, slipping on his bathroom glasses for the full effect. At it so long there are spots across his tshirt, sweat seep just from standing there. When he comes down she’s already moved the box fan from the living room where he’d positioned it, to the kitchen where he hears her ripping through the mail. His stuff still scattered over the coffee table, ashtray, book, living room glasses, all in readiness. Her fan, after all. Not because she bought it, (who can remember such things) but by mutual consent, his being the plastic Vornado spinning in vain on the third floor. Easy enough to lug down if it wasn’t triple digits up there and the two flights and the need to lug it back up later. Her fan, but still … He wanders in; watches as she pecks at the phone, statement in hand, silver hair dancing in the fan blow. Set to do battle with one billing department or another. He passes back into the living room, settles in on the sofa, puts on his glasses and picks up his book. In minutes he’s slick with sweat, stain spreading, glasses slipping down his nose. Hears her explain then explain again then chirp indignation then lower the boom. Some, if not all directed at him. “Additional charges, service charges, surcharges, miscellaneous … what the hell is miscellaneous? … Well who can? … Listen Marcie or whatever your name is blah blah blah, better business bureau, blah blah …” He pictures his fan, how spiffy it looked out of the box. How the process of blowing has an inverse sucking effect, dust, hair, grime coating the blades, strung in strands between the slats. How simple to dash upstairs and get the damn thing, seconds it would take him, thirty seconds and he’d be set up again. But he doesn’t move, can’t face the heat, the birdshat skylight, any part of the effort involved. And something else, how she just walked off with it, her fan, after all. He sits half listening as she hammers out a deal, the stain on his shirt taking a familiar shape, Africa maybe, or Alaska, the Aleutians dribbling off to the left. A silence marks the end of her call and he waits for the next, the first leading to more as they usually do, loud and meandering even when she gets the machine. Her half of events he knows nothing
Instead she hangs up. Silence stretches between them, the sound of calls unmade, the sound of one fan blowing. A chair creaks and he pictures her at the table picturing him sweltering in the next room. A minute passes. Ten. It comes in a vision, a third fan carried off when they cleaned out her aunt’s place. Years ago now, but he sees it clearly, big bonking plug as he lugged it to the basement. He stares at the basement door, sees himself step down into the coolness. And it is cooler, but he still works up a sweat searching shelves and boxes, tearing things apart before he finds it, smaller than he remembered, crusted in rust and cellar shmutz. He wipes the base with an old sock but whatever’s on it won’t come off. He pulls the cord through a tangle of cobwebs and the big plug bonks him on the knee. Small enough to fit quite nicely on the end table, crumbs of rust flaking as he plugs it in. Nothing happens. He jiggles the plug and the blades start to turn. Metal blades like a propeller, circling then seeming to reverse then lost in a blur as a breeze brushes over. So quiet he can still hear her fan. He blows the dust off the table, reaches for his book, slips on his glasses and settles back. Perfect. Except something starts to rattle, fading for a time then cycling back. He stares at the fan, searching for a source but the blur reveals nothing, a circle of white in a wire cage. He reads a few pages but the rattle distracts him, more so in its absence. Leaning in he sees the base move ever so slightly, adrift on vibration, trickling dust as it turns away. It takes nearly a minute to reach the base of the lamp where the movement stops. He tries to read but keeps seeing the fan dance over the edge. What it would sound like, a sort of explosion, blades flying, base shattering. Blades. Metal. The cage feels solid enough. He presses a switch in back and the fan starts to rotate. He switches it back, but it rotates anyway, fried circuit or broken spring, fifty years old if it’s a day. He picks up his book but the rattle returns, possibly louder. Possibly something wearing out, screw working loose, belt shredding, who knows? Something worse, possibly, blades backing out, thread by thread until … Laughable design when he studies it. The cage, just a frame of gaps he could stick both hands in, from back when you paid your money and took your chances. He turns it off and is surprised to see each gap spaced to contain the blades in the event. From back when liability was a concern but you were still free to maim yourself. He turns it back on. The rattle fades out then in. “What are you doing?” she asks.
Breakdown by Tom Larsen
He doesn’t answer. Thinks again of pins shearing, gears grinding, blades working loose. The cage will contain them, assuming the wire is strong enough. And since he’s down that road he takes it to conclusion, violent jolt, metal on metal. And since he’s down that road he allows for the wire not being strong enough, the blades ripping free. A nasty thought he can’t help thinking, stuck in a room with flying metal blades. Bad luck to begin with and possibly lethal depending on spin, velocity and point of impact. And that road ends with a flurry of ricochets, a gushing artery, a sucking gurgle as he fades to black. He unplugs the fan and sticks it back in the basement.
The next day he’s driving on the interstate when the check engine light comes on. A hundred degrees out there, thirty miles from home without a cell phone, without a tool or clue to how to open the hood should he take the suggestion. Check engine, how? So he keeps driving, turns the AC off and opens a window. The light flickers but won’t go out. Up ahead he sees a bobble of heads crossing the overpass, kids stopping to spit on traffic, or worse. Thinks of the guy last year took a cinderblock through the windshield. The papers said death was instantaneous, as if to console us. He steers for the far lane but the kids move his way, waving and shouting. He slows and pulls off, short of range but too close to see. Pictures them huddled on the far side for the blind drop. Several cars pass under but nothing happens. Are they waiting for him? Is that it? They seemed to be yelling at him but he could be wrong. Who knows what kids do? He backs up a bit for a head-on view but its just traffic, no kids. Sits there ten minutes lost in thoughts of windshields imploding, head severed, car veering off, dead hands at the wheel. So down to the detail it makes him shiver. Glancing down he sees the check engine light go out. It’s crazy, he knows, but he just sits there.
good. He spends the weekend in front of the Vornado watching baseball to avoid explanation, plastic blades, no concern there. The games pass in a boring row.
At work he has a premonition he’s about to be shot, a sniper in another building drawing a bead even as he pictures it. He sees the pressroom reflected in the windows, himself perched at the paste-up table. Lights from the parking lot stretch then fade to row houses long abandoned, a hundred windows aimed his way. “Stop it,” he tells himself, but the feeling persists. He wouldn’t even hear the shot, just that final thought and lights out. And how you see that sort of thing all the time in the movies, even on television, heads blown off, limbs severed, guts slithering, more graphic than the real thing could ever be. Blowback and blood splatter and how it wasn’t like that when he was a kid. The guy grabbed his stomach and slumped to the floor. In this, the movie of his life, his chin snaps back and his skull shatters in a million pieces. Even better, his feet fly up and he back-flips into the coffee machine. “STOP!” Smoke break. Takes the elevator, down a long hallway and into the muck. Jesus, like an armpit out here. Stands deep in the corner away from the light, smoking and staring at the Hi Hat bodega. Countless hours spent staring at it. The slight tilt, structural damage or the weight of the years, who knows? He’s never gone in there. Never seen a white person go in or out. And now that he’s looking he notices potted plants on a third floor window ledge, then more plants on more window ledges and other things, bottles and toys, a car battery, a hibachi. One drunken stumble, one clunk of a watering can away from going over. He takes the train in when he works days, walks the four blocks through Chinatown, a thousand ledges at the ready. Don’t do this, he warns himself. Millions walk these streets without incident, don’t they? … Would they bother to tell us?
He stops drinking. Alcohol was never his problem but you get older, your body changes. OK, maybe it’s a problem, breaking his nose on a bender last summer, but not this kind of problem. He’s always had violent fantasies, but never so many, and never so vivid. What it’s a sign of couldn’t be
He spots a brick on the pavement near the bodega door. Running his eyes up he sees a gap in a row between the third floor windows, a black hole where a brick should be. A brick! “Cave your fucking head in,” he mutters. Tries to remember if they’ve done that in the movies, but how would he know? And how will he be able to walk to the train
station, four blocks, a million crumbling bricks, mortar gone to dust, ledges lined in heavy objects. If he can’t do it he can’t work, the downward spiral, things that prey on the mind. No end to them.
He quits smoking pot. Didn’t think anything could make him quit, but never figured on a violent death fixation. Pretty much stoned for the last forty years, if he’s honest with himself. Not that he hasn’t noticed any long-term effects, balance, memory, concentration, balance. Quits it cold. Six days without but it doesn’t help. So he takes it up again, along with the drinking. Then late one night, too wrecked to get off the couch, he thinks of the website he saw with dead bodies, real ones, accident victims, faces battered, torsos mangled. The pictures were tiny but you could see enough, and you could click to enlarge, but he couldn’t bring himself. The way you can’t unsee things and how it can ruin you. So maybe the movies don’t exaggerate. He’s seen those deer pureed across the interstate. It’s not death he fears so much as horrible death, those freak accidents that rip or burn or crush you like a bug. Wrong place, wrong time, overkill, that’s what spooks him. “NO!” he grabs his head, feels the shape of it, dents and ridges. Strangely comforting and he moves his hands, kneading until his knuckles ache. His hands drop. He stares at the floor then a thought so grisly he hears himself moan. The photos he saw in that magazine in Paris, a drug smuggler“ENOUGH!” he rises up but the room pitches forward and he just catches himself on the mantel. Then he’s outside, stumbling down the steps and into the gingko tree, wraps his arms around as his knees turn to rubber, whoa boy, icy sweat, sinking to the curb with a whimper.
works the light table to avoid the window, watches the clock, watches the clock, the TV, whatever’s on. If she’s noticed she makes no mention. When he thinks about it, why would she? Those all night gabs that marked their first years have faded with their prospects. She’s taken up other interests, catering for a time, real estate, possibly others, how could she not? If asked to describe their marriage he couldn’t … or he could, in a word. Ambivalence. How they seem to float on an endless wave of it. His fault mostly, his fading prospects, his head case state. If she knew what went on in there she’d run screaming from the house. Now nothing goes on in there. Two weeks into abstinence his brain feels bloated, or maybe atrophied, he can’t tell. Nothing to think so he sleeps too much, eats too much, smokes too much, and the heat! Jesus, a month now in the nineties! Takes to staring at the Vornado blades. Nothing bloody occurs to him. Nothing occurs to him. No stimulant means no gruesome reveries means no reveries. And it scares him to think it could end like this, the day soon coming when he’ll welcome a bullet or brick or bus.
The check engine light comes on. It doesn’t deal in reasons, just a course of action. What it really means, of course, is have a mechanic check it, not you. And though the message never varies it takes on certain tones, mostly pleading, sometimes urgent, always nagging. He prefers to think it’s the light that’s defective. When it’s not on he allows for a problem, but one that has somehow solved itself. Not that the light lies, more a battle of wills type thing. Check engine? I will not. He comes home to sitcom reruns and nuked whatever. No calls. No visitors. Morning finds him back behind the wheel for the day’s first exchange. Check engine. Fuck you. No way to live.
He quits drinking, smoking pot, those pills she keeps in her vanity whatever they are. Quits it all and it seems to help, the fantasies stop but so does everything else. He stares at the TV, his mind a blank. Reading puts him to sleep. Music makes him nervous. Conversation takes more than he’s got. Sometimes he finds himself counting the minutes, to what? Takes the bus to work to avoid the ledges,
“I don’t know, for as long as it takes.” He looks to see if she’s serious. “As long as what takes?” “I don’t know that either,” she flops a hands. “All I know is I have to get away for a while. Look, somebody has to step up here. Things can’t go on like this.”
Breakdown by Tom Larsen
They can’t, of course, though he’d hoped they might. He knows of marriages in worse shape, knock down drag outs with cops called and things broken, mortal enemies staying together for the children or the convenience. But they have no children. And she has her own place, a beach house left by her grandmother, half his, in fact, if not in spirit. No reason to tolerate the intolerable. Get in the car and go. “Listen, I know I haven’t been myself lately, but I’m trying to work some things out.” “You haven’t been yourself since the nineties. Living with you is like living alone.” “But-” “I’ll call you.” When she’s gone he makes himself a drink and feels the knot loosen. Sees himself as an actor in a film, the shit comes down and he hits the bottle. What the bottle’s for, for Christ sake. The quiet spooks him so he puts on some music, Miles for that soundtrack effect, black and white with the sirens in the distance and the steamy sidewalk grates. Like living alone, she said, but it isn’t really. A presence is a presence, alone is alone. By the second drink he’s got a joint going and a pizza on the way. He’s not a pizza guy but it fits the floundering bill, on his own an hour and it’s down to this. Odd he could think to eat but, in fact, he’s starving. And though his life is falling apart he welcomes the anticipation, the deep churn of hunger when food is on the way. Pizza, in keeping with the theme, pictures it beaming up from the box. Then somewhere a sprocket slips and an image sticks like a frame of film, clear for an instant then melting away. Something he saw in a book when he was a kid. Knew then he would never forget and evidently never did. Can’t remember where or when but sees his hand turn the page, his eyes come to rest on an old woodcut centered in type. At first he thinks he’s sees it wrong but the caption bears him out. “Roman Spectacle – Death at the Coliseum”, a man head down on his knees, above him an elephant poised to … “Pizza guy!” He shuffles over, shuts the door and shoots the lock.
“ … It’s just a track my brain’s stuck on. I mean it has nothing to do with anger or, or, …” Christ babbling already. “I uh … it’s not …” “Describe one.” “I can’t.” The psychologist looks up then down. “You can’t put them into words or you don’t want to?” “Look, I tell you some whacked out daydream and what happens? Red flags come popping up all over. I’m not a nut case. I don’t do anything. I just can’t turn them off.” The psychologist types for a minute, pale eyes tracking the cursor. “What did you just type?” “Hmm? Oh … nothing. Just a note to myself.” “What’s it say?” “It says,” the psychologist leans closer to the screen, “ … severe psychosis marked by violent delusions and crippling guilt.” He feels the blood drain from his face. “I’m kidding. Tell you what, I’ll show you what I wrote if you tell me one of your nasty little daydreams.” “Christ, you had me going there.” “Let’s get a few things straight,” the psychologist rocks back in his chair. “I’ve been doing this for sixteen years and I’ve seen, literally, thousands of patients. I won’t say I’ve heard it all, but will say I’ve heard most of it. To me the most important thing is you want help. I promise you, what you say will not shock me.” He stares into those pale eyes. “OK. … Coming over here. I’m walking down Broad and these kids are coming at me from the other direction. They’re horsing around and I step aside to avoid them. I’m standing on a subway grate and I can feel the draft up my legs from a train …” “ … Go on.” “I look down and I can see along the grate, how the concrete has crumbled and the gaps and… I just know this thing is going to collapse. I’m gonna fall though and land on the track.” The psychologist flinches. “The train hits you.”
“You’ve been having morbid fantasies.” “Maybe morbid isn’t the right word.” The psychologist takes his off his glasses and holds them to the light. “Describe one to me.”
“Never that easy,” he shakes his head. “Oh no, see, I land and yeah, it’s bearing down, the lights on me and whistles blowing but I can jump clear, there’s enough time, a miracle really. But before I can move the grate crashes down and I’m all busted up and I’m pinned to the rails. And I can feel them tremble and sag as the train comes on and- ”
“OK!” the psychologist juts a hand. “I uh, think I …” his eyes close and open. “ … Tell me, on a scale of one to ten where would you rank this particular … daydream?” “Rank it? How do you mean?”
The psychologist looks puzzled then nods and smiles. “It’s just a form. Basic information.” “Let’s see.” It’s just a form.
“Oh, say, degree of, well, morbidity, for lack of a better word.” He has to think. “Five maybe?” The psychologist stares at a spot on his desk. “What about dreaming at night?” “That’s the weird thing,” he looks where the psychologist is looking. “My night dreams aren’t like that. It’s only when I’m conscious, you know, spacing out.” “And how has this affected you?” “Well, my wife just left me. I can’t say it was for that, really, a lot of things, … I’ve always been a little distracted, you know?” The psychologist glances over. “Distracted? Explain.” “Distant,” he tells him. “Inattentive.” “Withdrawn?” “I suppose, some would say.” “What about work?” “I’m OK there,” he lies. The door pushes open, a head pops in, bald and gleaming. “Oops sorry,” then pops out again. The psychologist clears his throat, checks his watch. “Now then, you say you’ve always had these fantasies.” “Well, not always. They started with pot. I’d be driving back from my dope guy and I’d imagine horrible wrecks, tankers exploding, someone being shoved from the car in front of me, boom, you can’t stop, the guy behind you can’t stop, the guy behind him-” “OK, I get-” “They used to do that out there, California.” The psychologist looks down then up. “Who used to?” “Drug dealers, I don’t know, it happened a few times but never really caught on. Too ugly I suspect, like the terrorists cutting heads off. Bad PR.” “May I ask, have you ever been disabled by these thoughts, perhaps hospitalized?” “See?” he pokes a finger. “I level with you and you think I’m wacko.” “No, no, I only-” “Let me see what you typed.”
He takes the long way home one night. Tacks some time on the trip but he’s in no shape to face the overpasses. Now it’s deer he’s got to fix on, big and brainless, popping out like targets in a video game. So he’s poking along under the limit, toeing the brake but one pops out anyway. Clearing the brush in a single bound, landing right in front of him. He cuts the wheel and stomps the brake. The deer takes it broadside, cart wheeling into the bushes. He sits staring at the wheel as the dust settles, alive by the grace of God, or fate saving him for something worse. He turns the key but the motors still running and the shriek of ignition blows him back. Nerves shot, hands trembling he pulls over, gets out and scans the damage, dented fender, broken headlight, couple of grand easy. Then a crush of leaves and a snap of twigs, that shit your pants sound of something coming. He drops to a crouch, feels around for a rock. The sound gets no closer and he knows it’s the deer. Finds it legs up in a drainage ditch, broken and thrashing, Jesus. Thinks of what to do, call someone, but that would mean cops. Not that he’s drunk but he is pretty shaky. God knows he was almost killed! Can’t just drive off and let it die, can he? More thrashing, sees the word ‘thrashing’, what else can you call it? If he had a gun he’d do the right thing. What he has is a tire iron and a ball peen hammer. No way in hell does he brain a dying deer. Because he knows, sure as shit, the first blow won’t kill it, or the second, or third. He’ll be bashing away and grunting and Jesus! Even if he could get close enough, which he can’t with all that thrashing. So he drives off and it makes him crazy, thinking about it happening, bleeding out, losing strength, pawing the air in a sad farewell. But what could he do? Stay there and watch? Have it burned in his brain forever? Then he’s driving too fast so he eases to a crawl. No cars for miles then one coming, brights blinding. Then another, low beams this time, low enough to catch a shadow, as if that would help. As if he wouldn’t cut the wheel on reflex and head-on a Hummer. Sees it all clear as day.
The Wallflower Standing amongst the shadows was a wallflower crippled by shyness, her greatest barrier. Encased by quiet corners and lonely solemnity, she observed the interaction of her peers. The girls gathered in circles, whispering secrets and trading bits of delicious gossip. The boys took part in horseplay and chuckled about the most ridiculous things. The wallflower always looked on in envy, wishing she could muster the courage to join the conversation, laughter, and joy. But even if anyone bothered to come towards her, her shields were lifted, an icy exterior encasing her. Her cowardice prevented her from indulging in the most basic human need; companionship. Like so many episodes of her past, she feared ridicule from those girls and boys. Pride doomed her to the outside, always looking in. And so as her peers tittered and chattered, the wallflower lowered her head and stuck her nose into the book lying on her lap, hoping to find solace in the characters and their imaginary lives.
Confidants Whispered secrets are less potent than a fortress built from sand. The confidant is never trustworthy. One slip of the tongue or exchange of gossip could lead to your secret spreading like a disease. And once all your communityâ€™s ears hear such a juicy tidbit, you will hang your head in shame. So it is best to lock your lips and throw away the key to that lush secret of yours.
Letting You Go “Three days that poor woman lay there!” you’d say. And if I said that it had to be hard for them to let their mother go, you’d never cut those daughters a break: “Pure selfishness! Do that to me, and I’ll find a way to come back and haunt you.” I go to the nursing station and say I need to speak with your doctor. “Who says she’s dying?” the on-call doctor fairly shrieks into the phone. But I persist, insist on speaking with the neurologist, for I have heard the Parable of the Selfish Daughters many times, and I know that I am not to be the daughter who dithers, who lets her mother wither on life support for three days before finally letting her go. Three days are but an indrawn breath for me, barely enough time to realize I have lost the only person in the world who loves me just because I exist. For you, one involuntary twitch of your seizured left shoulder might last an eternity. “How can I know?” I ask you. You don’t respond. The neurologist sweeps in, trailing a solemn pall of white-coated students, and I speak the words you wanted me to say: “She has a living will, and if there is no hope, I want to let her go.” Into their silence, I add, “She promised to haunt me if I let her linger.” A med student giggles, and there you are, full force, not the slack, indifferent body in the bed, but the strong-willed, funny woman that I loved. Ten years later, I still swear I felt you jab me with an invisible elbow, relishing that giggle in all its inappropriate splendor.
New Year’s 2011
Mimosas over hotel sinks, you said to me, “I feel something will be lost in 2011.” We laughed flipping from bed to bed, sloppy and beautiful. We flashed bare skin to Ohio. Ordered pizza in 2010, didn’t get it until 2011. I woke up before you, brought you a blueberry muffin in bed. Whoever thought, we’d be the thing to end.
by Jakob Guanzon
efore making his way to bed, Morris gathered all of her small, plastic pill bottles and arranged them neatly in the medicine cabinet. He didnâ€™t need to read the labels to know which was which. Just a brief glance at the shape, size and color of the little piles of pills behind the orange plastic was enough. Some he could identify with a quick shake of the vial, rattling them like sad maracas. There were nine in total. With routine ease he systematically placed the bottles in the order in which he would deliver them to her the following day. He knew which ones made her dizzy, which ones she would need to take with toast. Which ones she took with water or juice. Which ones made her writhe in pain. He looked down at the bathroom floor. With an overgrown toe-nail the color of a peanut he picked at a cracked tile, its broken edge coarse and dry. He had promised to retile the floor, but that was before all that had happened happened. Shutting the cabinet door, Morris made a conscious effort to set his gaze downward, his eyes set on his unkept promise. He did not want to catch a glimpse of his reflection in the mirror. Of his face. The face of a liar. Morris had always prided himself on his honesty, and he was honest enough to admit that. His honesty was the most defining attribute of his character. He told it like it was, is, and will be. People loved him, yet even more disdained
him for it. She had loved him, for and despite his obtuse relating of reality. She had loved him, but that was before all that had happened happened. That was before Morris began tying tangles of lies and untruths and tall-tales. Stringing and knotting them all about their little home. He flicked off the lights in the bathroom and entered their bedroom. He looked at her. She was curled beneath the sheets, cold perspiration shining on her forehead, her mouth taut in a pained grimace. Morris climbed into bed and inched towards her under the sheets. Easily, he scooped her frail frame into his embrace as one seizes a large pile of clean laundry from a hamper. Since the diagnosis, their weights had rapidly changed inversely. Her sharp spades of hipbones sliced into his hairy bearâ€™s belly as he cradled her. He nuzzled his nose past the damp locks of her thinning hair. Morris licked his dry lips. He drew a slow breath, as one does before diving headlong into frigid, dark waters. And then he took the plunge, sinking below the weight of deceit, stringing the thin threads of whispered lies into her ear with the practiced precision of a fine tailor.
The consistent tremble and shivers of her worn body abated to a stillness interrupted only by the occasional spastic shudder, soothed by Morris’s purred lies, his deep voice like an idling tractor engine. He lied, saying, “We don’t need to be scared.” He lied, saying, “We’ll meet again.” The cadence of his lies began to lose momentum, so he began to rock her, substituting motion for words. Alice smiled. She sniffed. She arched her neck. Naturally he kissed the neck she presented him. She tasted like a salty peach. A certain weightless darkness settled in their bedroom. Then, his lips all dried and crusted from the forming of lies began moving and making words without his consent. “You know none of it is true, right?” “What is?” She asked. Morris could feel Alice tense in his embrace, yet he continued. “Everything I told you. Just now. The times before. Once you’re gone…” She thought for a moment. “Yes. I know.” “Why do you let me lie to you?” Alice smiled. “Because I know you only lie to me.” “Only because I love you.” “That’s how I know you do.”
Morris’s lips paused. “We both know how this is going to end. We both know what happens,” Alice began. She paused to smile, to think. “Of course I don’t believe that we’ll see each other again, that we’ll hold hands and prance through the clouds. I don’t even believe that you’ll never love again after I’m gone. In fact, of all of your white lies, that’s the one I detest the most.” “You’re the only person I’ve ever lied to. And on a regular basis, I might add. This house—our home. It’s dark with all that’s happened.” “You don’t have to feel that way. You don’t have to lie anymore.” “Do you love me?”! “No.” “Liar.” Alice sat up and kissed him, knotting her limbs about him until she sank into the soft warmth of his health, his heart pumping heavy with the fear of life without her. They made love, gently. As they did, Death watched from the doorway, eating a peach slowly, as if with purpose. Before they finished, Death changed his mind, although that didn’t change anything. He flicked the pit to the ground and made his way out of their little home, silent and weightless, for he could come back another day. In fact, any day he pleased.
by Donna McLaughlin Schwender Lilliputian bird silhouettes fly in poetic formation over white skies made of trees. Paragraphed flocks share one spine as they trail ink from their feathers and leave messages suspended between Heaven and Earth. Molted downy feathers morph into commas. Wing quills impale themselves on the page as exclamation points. Gaping beaks cage conversations with quotation marks. The steady southward migration arcs back to the north as the edge of the woods is reached and as the next layer of sky is peeled away. Hollow bones support each word as the story takes flight and the door of the aviary is thrown open wide for all to come and go as they please.
by Mark Labbe These warm, summer nights always Remind me of that time we chased Away the darkness with our hands Clasping those little flashlights That your mom had bought us. Do you remember how we imagined That the trees were the claws Of monsters, and the leaves Were the tiny victims, caught In their terrible grasps? We shined our heroic lights And the claws would wither Away and the trees became Trees and the leaves turned to Us in heartfelt gratitude. We laughed at that, and you Smiled and charged forward With me running after you, Battling the dark and evil Creatures of the night. When we had slain them all, We lay down our weapons And let the freed land thank us In windy whispers for saving Summer with our dreams.
The Strangerâ€™s Letters by Claire Fuller E very day, Sarah Lamb passed the hall table, and every day, the pile of unopened post grew. It came for people who had moved out months ago, sometimes years. It came from abroad with interesting stamps. Occasionally, it came with addresses handwritten, but mostly it came in long white envelopes with cellophane windows, franked by a machine. Sarah Lamb picked up the post from the mat and sorted through it. It was the only regular tidying she did. She told herself it was fine to keep a neat hallway; it set a good impression, although she was not sure for whom. Often the envelopes would have the imprint of a sole across them from where the other tenants had walked straight on through to their rooms. Sometimes Sarah Lamb would sniff at the handwritten letters to see if she could detect cigarette smoke or perfume.
A week before Christmas, a square red envelope arrived that was only stuck down at the very tip of its glued V. It was addressed to Suzanna Langton and had a London postmark. Each day Sarah Lamb watched it move down the pile of unopened post on the table. No one claimed it. On Christmas Eve she took the envelope into her room and picked at it with her thumbnail. Inside, the Christmas card had a poor illustration of a kitten offering up a mince pie. The paper was grey and cheap; the kind she might have given to her classmates when she was nine. She didn’t feel guilty opening it and reading the message. She felt like she was saving something. To Suzanna, And then a printed ‘Season’s greetings’ From Claude The handwriting flowed effortlessly. Claude had written his address in the bottom, left hand corner. She pictured him signing his Christmas cards at a breakfast counter in a steel and glass flat with minimal furniture. He would be a couple of years older than her, round brown eyes and lips that were slightly too full for a man. He would be prematurely balding, but she would forgive him that. Sarah Lamb put the card on her mantelpiece above the gas fire. It was the only Christmas card she got.
In early January, threadbare Christmas trees were propped on the pavements and the green and red flashing Santa was taken down from the house opposite. Sarah Lamb missed its flicker through her thin curtains. She took the card from her mantelpiece and considered throwing it away, but instead she got out one of the notelets from the pack that she kept in her bedside cupboard. The front showed a drawing of a tabby cat wearing a mouse mask. In it, Sarah Lamb wrote: To Claude, Thank you for the Christmas card. It was good to hear from you. Write soon. From S.
Sarah Lamb didn’t like to lie and whilst this message wasn’t the complete truth, she felt that there was nothing in it she didn’t mean.
On the twenty seventh of January an envelope arrived addressed in the same smooth handwriting as the Christmas card. For once, someone had picked up the post and put it on the hall table so that when Sarah Lamb arrived home from work, the letter was there, propped against the mirror. It was addressed to Suzanna Langton, but it barely registered that it wasn’t her name on the envelope. It was white this time; a card inside. She sniffed it and thought she could smell expensive aftershave or soap, the kind that is pumped out of a dispenser. She put the envelope on her
mantelpiece without opening it whilst she made a pot of tea. She wanted to savour the moment. While the tea was brewing, Sarah Lamb unstuck the envelope. On the front of the card was a woodcut of a blue cat hiding behind green stylised foliage. Suzanna, What a short little note you sent after all this time, although I, of all people, should understand your reticence. And still in Oxford, I see – or perhaps you’ve returned to the ‘scene of the crime’. Isn’t that what people like you do? Sorry to take that tone Suzanna, but you can hardly blame me. It’s just such a shock to hear from you at all. Did you know that they buried you? A service in the church and an empty coffin. I need to hear from you – we have a lot of catching up to do. Claude Sarah Lamb didn’t know what she had been expecting, but it wasn’t this. She imagined Claude’s brows arching above his sensitive eyes when he first got her letter. He would have fallen backwards onto his original Charles Eame’s sofa, as his feelings moved between shock and relief that she was still alive. Sarah Lamb had never been one to act quickly; she put the card on the mantelpiece and thought about it for the next week. On the following Friday night, after she had done the week’s washing up, she wrote a few possible replies on a piece of rough paper. Then, when she was happy, she selected another notelet, this time with three mice in waistcoats and blindfolds. She wrote: Claude, Thank you so much for your card. I know this must be a shock for you, but any explanation doesn’t sound right when I try to put it down on paper. What can I say? Yes, I am in Oxford. I came back in October, so I haven’t been here long, but it really hasn’t changed since I’ve been away – Magdelen Bridge still spans the The Cherwell, and Carfax Tower hasn’t toppled yet. How are you finding London? I don’t know what to write about the funeral. Did you go? Was there music and flowers and weeping?’ Yours, S
Again, she tried to keep her note to the truth. She had been born in Oxford and had recently returned. She did wonder if
The Stranger’s Letters by Claire Fuller
the last three sentences were not quite suitable, but in the end she kept them in. After she had posted the card, Sarah Lamb experienced such extreme feelings of anticipation that she couldn’t eat or concentrate or sleep properly. She was called into her manager’s office, but wasn’t able to offer a reasonable explanation for the simple mistakes she kept making. All day, she imagined the postman walking up the path and a square white envelope falling in slow motion onto the mat; she willed it to be waiting there for her. Each evening when she unlocked the front door, her insides surged, but seconds later, her longing was punctured for another twenty-four hours. She wondered whether she was in love. Then, on Saturday, the seventh of February, when she was still in bed, she heard the postman struggle to push something bulky through the letterbox. It fell with a thud onto the hall mat just on the other side of her bedsit door. Instantly she was out of bed; heart racing, and risking an embarrassing discovery, she ran to the front door in only her pants. A padded envelope was waiting for Suzanna Langton. Sarah Lamb took it back to her room. This time she didn’t delay. She sat cross-legged on the bed and tore at the envelope with her teeth, turning it upside down and shaking it. A flock of folded letters and cards fluttered around her. She picked one up. The cover showed five lilies trumpeting the words ‘In your time of loss’ in cursive script. Inside, Simone Ward and family had written that Evangeline was: In our hearts and prayers. You must try to forgive Suzanna for your pain; for all our pain.
Sarah Lamb picked up another, stuck with lace and ribbon:
Evangeline, Be happy that Suzanna is now in a safe place. I know you have been holding out hope for many years, but now we can say goodbye. You are in my thoughts. Rebecca And another:
Sarah Lamb fanned out the tributes over her bedspread like playing cards; there must have been twenty or thirty of them, so much love and understanding – it made her breathless. And then, hiding amongst them like the joker in the pack - a square white envelope. She lay back under the bedcovers, oblivious to the cards that slid to the floor as her knees made a peak. She opened the envelope with delicate movements. The card had an illustration of a tiger with startlingly blue eyes. Its mouth was open - it might have been yawning or roaring. She read: Suzanna, what kind of person have you become? How callous and cold to ask like that about the funeral. Have you really no idea of the pain your actions have caused me and of course, Evangeline – to let us believe that you were dead, and yet all the time, here you are, hiding away from everyone who loves you? Evangeline’s grief, the tears - you have no idea. In the end all she needed was a body to bury. I hope the enclosed letters and cards might cause some stir in that stony little heart of yours. Maybe it would have been better if you were dead, because what am I supposed to tell her now? Yours, Claude Sarah Lamb felt mauled, jilted, tragic. She let the card fall over the side of the bed and surprised herself when she wept for Claude and for herself. She couldn’t bear the thought that he might be angry with her. After a while, when her tears had dried and she was hungry, she got up, fried an egg and without reading any more, put all the cards on the mantelpiece. They made quite a collection. She read Claude’s again and only then, took in the ‘everyone who loves you’ and the ‘yours’ before his name. She thought about him pacing his floor from exposedbrick wall to over-sized window. He would lean his forehead against the glass and look out over a London skyline at the lights of other flats filled with other people, and think of her. She had never felt so needed. She selected one of her notelets showing a close-up of a black cat with almond eyes and off the top of her head, wrote: My Dearest Claude, What can I say? I am sorry. Forgive me for all the pain I have caused. I know these words might appear easy to write, but I truly mean them, please believe me. I have read all the
wonderful tributes you sent me – all of them and they have shown me the error of my ways. If you were to come to Oxford I would welcome the chance to explain. Yours S.
Sarah Lamb knew she had strayed from the truth in this one, but her desire to meet Claude was overwhelming. During the next week, she passed her days and nights imagining scenarios. Claude would ring the doorbell and whilst he looked down at his shoes, she would say, “Sorry, Suzanna has moved out, but can I help you?” and he would lift his face and smile. Or, Sarah Lamb would say “Suzanna has told me everything, you poor, poor man.” She would open her arms and he would fall into them. Or sometimes when she was dropping off to sleep, she would dream of Claude saying, “I don’t care if you’re not Suzanna. It’s Sarah Lamb I want,” and before she could reply, he would press his lips to hers.
After the first few days of waiting, people at work started to ask if she was ill. Her bowels were loose and her palms sweaty. Every moment Sarah Lamb felt as if she was about to go into a job interview, one where, standing naked, she had to answer quick-fire questions in front a panel of experts. She worried that Claude would arrive at home whilst she was at work. At first she pinned a note to her bedsit door:
invite me in? I could really do with a drink. Train journeys still make me thirsty.” Sarah Lamb opened the door wider and the man who answered to Claude came in. “In here, is it?” He said, going into her room. She followed him and watched as he walked around taking in the objects of her life – picking up a pair of tights from the floor and hanging them over the back of a chair, opening the ceramic pot where she kept her hair grips and peering inside, examining the nib on her ink pen and putting the lid back on. “I see you got rid of all the books.” He turned towards her, as if waiting for an answer. Sarah Lamb didn’t know how to reply; she didn’t know when would be the right time to say who she was, or rather who she wasn’t. “I work in a library,” she said eventually. “I don’t need my own books.” She turned away to hide her face and picked up the kettle. “I’ve only got Earl Grey and I think the milk’s off.” Sarah Lamb could hear a tremble in her voice. “You know me, happy as long as it’s hot,” said Claude. He stood by the mantelpiece staring at the cards and then picked one up, read the message and placed it back. While the kettle was boiling Sarah Lamb put away the tights and cleared a space on the table, all the time keeping her face down. Her body was coiled with the inevitability of discovery. Claude took another card and read aloud:
Claude, Please wait for me. S.
Then she moved it to the front door and added: Ps – I have so much to tell you.
Early on Saturday the fourteenth of February, she heard the doorbell ring. It felt like she had only just dropped off to sleep and by the time her fuzzy brain realized what the sound was, one of the other tenants had answered the door. She heard a muffled conversation. She dressed quickly, but out in the hall the front door was already shut and the tenant was clumping back up the stairs. She pulled it open and saw a man walking away. “Claude!” She shouted. The man turned around. He was shorter and older and even balder than she had imagined, but his coat seemed to be of good quality. He came back towards the house and stood on the doorstep. They stared at each other. “I like what you’ve done to your hair,” the man said eventually, stretching out his hand. Sarah Lamb jumped backwards in alarm. “Sorry,” he said. “Aren’t you going to
Claude closed the card and sat down with it at the table. Sarah Lamb placed two mugs and the teapot in front of him. Tea sloshed from the spout, but she didn’t wipe it up. Instead, she sat opposite and looked at him directly for the first time - his sad eyes, his full lips, his clean-shaven chin. He met her gaze. “The young man who answered the door,” Claude paused to pour the tea, “he said he’d never heard of Suzanna Langton. He said no one called Suzanna lived here.” “I changed my name,” said Sarah Lamb. “I thought that must be the case,” said Claude. He smiled and took a sip of tea.
A funny thing happens when you’ve been married to the same man for over twenty years. I often witnessed the phenomenon while casually eavesdropping on my grandparents, or mom and dad, But never did I fully comprehend both the wonder and frustration until I experienced it myself. Unfinished sentences.
by Shawn Aveningo
I’m not talking about the casual “where is my?” as you hand him the car keys he left by the sink. It’s much bigger than that. Complete Conversations entirely comprised of Incoherent phrases. Incomplete Thoughts! At first, there’s a certain pride your relationship reaching the point, where you can finish one another’s phrases. As if your loyalty to one another has rewarded you with alien mind-reading powers. But soon you discover more and more of the words are omitted, as if you were suddenly contestants on some obscure game show, Bob Barker standing ready to reward your correct answers with a brand new stainless steel refrigerator or weekend in Waikiki.! There are days when his expectation for you to fill in the blanks drives you to a desire for solitude, surrounded by padded walls silencing his nonsensical mumblings as well as your own rantings of frustration. But then there are the days when a single word is not spoken, his hand gently cradles yours as you rock gently on the porch swing, watching the cascade of color across the autumn horizon.
Ed looks at the photo and says, your wife is gorgeous as if she were a snazzy Rolex picked up for next to nothing on the Net. You should see her in the morning, I reply, with traces of Kabuki cream still clinging to her face.
by Art Heifetz
All my life, Ed, I steer clear of Jewish princesses only to marry a Latin one. Like a conquering army her clothes and cosmetics have occupied every corner of my house. If she’s not busy cutting, curling, coloring her hair, she’s polishing her nails. The bedroom reeks of acetone and you could finish War and Peace just waiting for the bathroom. At times I think she’s died in there. Beauty doesn’t run in the Tablada family. It gallops. Did I tell you about her royal blood? Her great great great great who was quite a looker too seduced an Injun prince and converted him to The One True Faith. In return his Injun pals carved a happy face under his chin, leaving his bride a grieving widow with a mestizo in the oven. Next time (if there is one) I intend to wed a sensible Norwegian plain- faced but punctual to a T. When we saunter about town, the barmaids will whisper “Inge’s husband is soooo hot.” Still, I won’t deny I love her raging beauty. Pour me another double, Ed, let’s drink to it. Then I’ve got to go home to see if she’s ready yet.
by J.R. Langston
My friend Sheila believes we choose our parents before we are born. Like our souls are hanging out on some ledge in the sky looking down on us humans. These souls watch us fool heartedly live from beginning to end, and somehow choose which soul sucker they are going to be. I have a hard time believing that my soul chose to live in the turmoil and strife that I reside in today, but this is what she believes. She believes, we fall in love with our parents love for one another. I want to ask her about orphans or worse miscarriages, but I don't want to burst her bubble. Then I remember she wasn't raised by her father so she must have worked it out in her logic somewhere. "I wouldn't have chosen my parents" I state, but as I say it I'm not completely convinced. Maybe I did fall in love with the color palette my parents created. Maybe from below the ledge we beings omit colors like an aura, and souls have favorite colors they see clearly from the ledge. Maybe my parents made light like the aurora borealis and my soul was so enamored by their beautiful rainbow I couldn't help jumping from the ledge. But that glow dulled so quickly and only lit on one side. So it’s hard for me to romanticize pre or post conception. But she is in her sixties, and she sees things a little rosier in the before and after, but not in the present. She has a habit of being frozen in a chair and muttering, "God Bless America." Her thoughts are muddled when she is alone. She worked in the front lines of customer service so she knows how to put on a happy face when company comes. Which is not often.
She complains of dreaming when I come to visit. She tells me she is having trouble telling day from night. Nor if she has taken the right pills and she has become afraid of the mail. She can't tell if the TV is talking back or if she is really losing it this time. I tell her not to worry and rifle through the mail as she tells me about a dream of standing on a ledge trying to decide to leap or fly. "If you’re picking parents, fly," I mutter. She looks at me quizzically then asks if I had the same dream of choosing to come back here after death. I'd call that a nightmare to come back here to this bare bones of a planet, but I say "No," as I wander into the kitchen and see stacks of dirty dishes spilling over the countertops. Three trashcans stand dripping with garbage by the back door. I curse under my breath and cast a glare through the kitchen window. Sheila is huffing and puffing trying to heft herself from the chair. The recliner strains with her as she finally frees herself from her own ass grove. She is shutting the curtains I pulled open when I first arrived. She shuffles to the hall closet and rolls out the vacuum. I start to feel a little crazy from the déjà vu of week to week with Sheila. I'm here to help her out. She is capable of doing it on her own when motivated but the truth is she won't do it unless she has someone here to witness the miracle of a disappearing mess. At least that is the game I play in my mind to keep from lecturing a woman thirty years my senior. Sheila will take out the vacuum and say she is capable of using it, and she is as long as turning it on and off is the only option. Her dog Penny is scared of the noise but she
turns it on for a second to make sure it works. She turns it on and off three more times to make sure it still works. I clear the dishes from the sink. Sheila comes to investigate. My cue to vacuum. I kick Penny out the back door after Sheila's shrill coos don't lure the poor dog playing deaf and blind. Penny whines if you pick him up so using your foot to nudge him out the door is kinder. Sheila hefts herself to the sink filling with warm sudsy water. I take my position at the helm of the vacuum. I switch it on and Sheila begins a conversation with herself running down the list of chores we will complete. I catch phrases, chewed up by the roar of the dirt buster; "fold the toilet, mop the counters, scoop the bathtub." Every surface has Penny hair clinging to it. It magically disappears as I run the vacuum nozzle along the edges of the baseboards. If only there was some attachment to suck the cobwebs from Sheila's head. She is standing in the doorway dripping from her shriveled fingers. She is excited. I cut off the vacuum. She likes to wind up the cord and roll it into the hall closet. It gives her the feeling of completion. One task done. The dishes take a bath as she pulls out a corona and the V8 juice. The fridge looks like an overgrown garden. I make mental note to help her with a grocery list again. All the foliage is spoiled. Iâ€™m always afraid to eat whatever she prepares. She shops for four when it is only her. True, her son lives across the street, but that is why he hired me. He could no longer calmly enter her home. Their conversations ended with slammed doors and threats of nursing homes. I had been the mediator in many of those visits. If you asked David, I'm sure he wouldn't believe he picked Sheila as his mother while waiting on some ledge in the sky. Sheila is rambling on about how great an "11 a.m. cocktail makes cleaning breezy. " I am reopening the
curtains letting the sun rays mingle with the dust dancing like snowflakes in the air. I need a drink after seeing the fridge stuffed with all the groceries from last weekâ€™s trip. She must have just eaten frozen food all week. I look out the front window to see if her son David's old Mercedes station wagon is parked in front of the house his mother bought him. It is gone. I need to have a word with him about his motherâ€™s behavior and my two week notice, but he is a musician, and it is hard to keep up with his hours. The first time I met Sheila she was convalescing in a retirement home after getting a flu shot that triggered a bout of Guillain-Barre. The illness put her in intensive care for two weeks due to complete paralysis of the body. The disease had destroyed the myelin sheath covering her nerves and set her motor skills to a four-month-old baby. In total, she spent a month in the hospital, three months in a rehabilitation center, and a year in a nursing home. Afterwards, she swore she had a new lease on life and promised to break up with her Barca lounger and the TV. In the beginning, I was paid to help her adjust to her limitations as well as get her out and about to try to gain strength, stamina, and overcome anxieties. I taught her to ride the bus. I got her in cabs, even when a man was driving. I made sure she did her physical therapy and got her walking further than the armchair to the bathroom and back. That was two years ago. She is now living on her own, driving and using the walker and me as a crutch. She has plateaued. She refuses to exercise. She talks about plastic surgery and stomach stapling. When I talk to her son, I will make him understand that I am really quitting this time. I am too young to give his mother advice, and I can no longer keep my mouth shut to her choices. Like him, I am drained from trying to talk Sheila off the ledge of her recliner.
Pickalilly by Mary Marie Dixon
Cucumbers quarteredâ€” Seeded or not Grandma prefers seeded Cabbage chunked Her conversation unloosed Green tomatoes halved A spill of recollection Drought and plenty And rationed sugar Pungent onions quartered Red and green peppers sliced Her words Like chopped cottonwood In the belly of her first wood-burning stove Celery goes whole into A silver-colored grinder Clamped to wood Four hands My mothers and mine One to crank, one to feed Two to hold the grinder down Breathless, grandma spoons The lovely ooze Into the crock Multi-colored mince Hand-sprinkled salt We are three wise women Gleaning that harvest On the third generation Oak table
A plate weights down Sweating vegetables Floral paisley drapes Grandmaâ€™s trembling hands My mother cups the water out From pressed vegetables Slow hours cure
More juice to strain I steep tea in the ancient kettle My mother pours fresh milk Into blue herring tea cups Grandma douses hers with honey We spend the hour rehearsing Other harvests first episodes of canning Not-so-successful recipes How cups and cups of sugar Save even imperfect pickles Cloves and peppercorns Cinnamon sticks Grandma spins the story About grandpaâ€™s Christmas Gingerbread and spills Celery seeds
Other harvests Other crops Dills and sweets Filled the cellar Sterilized quarts And pints And half-pints Various sizes Receive the stinging sweet As we trap summer Under Ball jar lids We whisper Grandmaâ€™s Secret recipe And recall the perfect spice
Mustard seeds Invoking faith Mother calls For its big reward Vinegar concocts A strong brew We three laugh Recounting our own Excursions into canning Jars of mushy pickles In a gallon pot Fresh colors Lose their tone And pale Over the fire That year my grandma Died in her sleep
Katherine Givens The Wallflower & Confidants Katherine Givens is a museum employee by day and a writer by night. Her fiction has been published in The Copperfield Review, The Enchanted File Cabinet, The Rusty Nail, and Daily Live. her poetry has been in several magazines, including Nazar Look, MUSED, and WestWard Quarterly. Kristen Yamamoto Feed the Fish & Letter To My 2 Year Old Cousin Kristen Yamamoto was born and raised in Honolulu, Hawai'i. She loves to surf, hike, and dance hula and tries to incorporate her passions into her writing. She attended Pacific University in Oregon, where the English department helped her writing skills to flourish. She is looking forward to seeing where writing will take her in the future. Clay Steakley Learning to Shut Up Clay Steakley is a writer, actor, and musician based in Los Angeles. His fiction has been published in Slake Magazine and the Belmont Literary Journal, and will appear in an upcoming issue of Fiction Fix. He was a 2013 finalist for a PEN Emerging Voices Fellowship, and his play "Wolf Spiders" will receive its first staged reading this summer. Tiffany Bess New Year’s 2011 Tiffany Bess is a recent graduate from West Virginia University. She graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in English focusing on poetry. She has a strong passion for poetry, and hopes to someday make a difference in someone's life. She spends her days reading and writing as much as possible. She hopes to continue to further her career as a poet. Mary Marie Dixon Pickalilly Mary Marie Dixon is a visual artist and poet with creative works in periodicals and a collection of poetry, Eucharist, Enter the Sacred Way, Franciscan University Press, 2008. Her focus on women’s spirituality and the mystics combined with the Great Plains and the spiritual power of nature appears in visual and poetic form.
Pamela Arlov Letting You Go Pamela Arlov is a teacher, a writer, and a textbook author. Long a writer of concise, utilitarian prose, she is dipping her toes into the midnight waters of peotry, considering a swim, half-hoping to drown. Jakob Guanzon To Lie Without Weight Originally from Minneapolis, Minnesota, Jakob Guanzon currently lives in Madrid, Spain where he is working on his first novel "We Were A Family," among other projects. To see some of his other work, please visit http://hyenaspots.tumblr.com/ Claire Fuller The Stranger’s Letters Claire Fuller is the author of many short stories. She is reaching the end of an MA in Creative and Critical Writing from the University of Winchester, UK. She has just completed her first novel and is represented by Lutyens & Rubinstein. Her flash fiction can be read on her website at worksbyclaire.wordpress.com. Elizabeth W. Seaver Loves Me, Loves Me Not Elizabeth W. Seaver got a BA from Smith College in Government, so it stands to reason that she spends her days painting in her art studio at LibertyTown Arts Workshop and her early mornings and evenings scribbling stories and poems. Besides the natural world, she most likes to write about the lines which connect us and the spaces between us. See her art and writing at www.elizabethseaver.blogspot.com. Donna McLaughlin Schwender Words of a Feather Donna McLaughlin Schwender is a self-professed word nerd, feather finder, heart stone hunter, and synchronicity searcher. Due to the support of her dear husband Tim and an amazing tribe of boot-wearing, wing-sprouting writers, she's recently begun to pursue her lifelong passion for writing. She's currently working on a book that features birds as the main characters. Feel free to eavesdrop on her life by visiting her Heart Stone Feathers blog at heartstonefeathers.com.
J.R. Langston Ledge of Sheila J.R. Langston is a writer in practice from Portland, Oregon. She is an avid train traveler and is enjoying an empty nest. J.R. keeps active in writing by participating in community writing circles. Tom Larsen Breakdown Tom Larsen has been a ficion writer for fifteen years. His work has appered in Newsday, New Millennium Writing, Best American Mystery Stories and the LA Review. His novel FLAWED was released in 2011. Mark Labbe Saving Summer Mark Labbe is a college student currently majoring in English and Political Science. This is his first published piece. We at Haunted Waters Press are proud to say, “We knew him when...” Shawn Aveningo Unfinished Sentences Shawn Aveningo is an award-winning poet, voted Best Female Poet in 2009 in the Sacramento News & Review. Her poetry has appeared in dozens of publications. Shawn hosts the “Verse on the Vine” poetry show in Folsom, CA and has been a featured poet in Sacramento, San Francisco, Sausalito, Seattle and St Louis. Shawn’s a Show-Me girl from Missouri, graduated Summa Cum Laude from University of Maryland and is a very proud mother of three. (www.ThePoetryBox.com). Art Heifetz A Beautiful Wife Art Heifetz has published over 80 poems in 8 countries. See polishedbrasspoems.com for more of his work. Brittany N. Gilbert Captivated Brittany N. Gilbert is an English major whose goal is to learn as much as possible about the English language. She currently attends Southeast Missouri State University. When writing poetry, she looks to her surroundings for inspiration.
Cathy Adams lives in China. She ate bullfrog for dinner last night. K.Nicole Williams changed her major three times in college finally settling on English Literature. She plans to submit again. Maybe. Yes. No. We’re not really sure. Jeremiah Bass almost died twice: car wreck and nearly smashed by a train. Maryfrances Botkin may irritate her husband, but she’ll never cross the Faeries. Donna J. Mortensen is a brazen optimist who can't be trusted near Peeps. It’s true. We’ve witnessed the carnage. Tina Wayland tries to grab at big ideas and beat them simple. We hide blunt objects whenever she visits. Orson Welles once saved Patrick Karl Curley’s life. H.E. Saunders reads, writes, obsessively makes lists, and once slept 55 hours straight. Gerald Warfield once lived across the street from the Gulf of Mexico. He knows tides and plays with sea turtles. Deanna Willis, mom of three teens, hangs with her Grandma every Wednesday. Jess Carson can trip on flat surfaces with graceless style. Kate LaDew can dislocate her shoulder with no pain whenever she feels like it. Barbara Pellegrino once served pasta and meatballs to 10 marines and 8 Pellegrinos in one small dining room. Thank you Daniel Pellegrino for your service to our country. It doesn’t get more interesting than that.
Cover art, photography and design by Susan Warren Utley. Interior art, design, and derivative works by Susan Warren Utley and Savannah Renée Warren. Cover fonts include Desdemona, Euphemia and Underwood Champion. Additional fonts used throughout the issue include Times, Times New Roman, Scriptina Pro, as i lay dying, UCU Charlescript, billbonessans, Nanum Pen Script, Handwriting Dakota, Lucinda Handwriting, and Enchanted Castle. Artwork created in ArtRage Studio Pro from Ambient Design and Pixelmator 2.1.4 Cherry. Additional artwork created in Sketch Club and TypeDrawing for iPad. Artistic image manipulation on PostworkShop from Xycod and Pixelmator 2.1.4 Cherry. Layout completed in Pages from Apple. From the Depths is created on a Mac.
Artwork created for this issue made possible by the generous donation of photographs, original artwork, and artistic tools which exist within the public domain either by gift, copyright expiration, or made available by their authors under Creative Commons License. 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. Special acknowledgment and thanks goes out to morgueFile.com, Wikimedia Commons, rgbstock.com and their contributors. While attribution is not required by all, we would like to acknowledge the following contributors and their works: Photoshop Brushes “Leaves Brushes-Mega Pack” courtesy of hawksmont via Brusheezy http:// www.brusheezy.com/members/hawksmont. Cover. Photoshop Brushes (For the Birds, For the Love of Birds, Birds Set One, Birds Set 2, Birds Set 3, Birds & Trees Set 4) courtesy of Distressed Textures. www.distressedtextures.net TOC, throughout. “Vintage Envelope2” courtesy of Billy Frank Alexander via rgbstock.com, http://www.rgbstock.com/user/ba1969. Page 7, 34. “Pond Lily” courtesy of mconnors via morguefile.com, http://www.morguefile.com/creative/mconnors. Pages 8-9. “American Coot.” Plate 239 of Birds of America by John James Audubon depicting American Coot. 1827-1838. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons, http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:239_American_Coot.jpg. Pages 10-15. “Daisy” courtesy of Michal Zacharzewski (mzacha) via rgbstock.com, http://www.rgbstock.com/user/mzacha. Pages 16-17. “Open Book,” “Vintage Envelope2,” and “Postcard 1” courtesy of Billy Frank Alexander via rgbstock.com, http:// www.rgbstock.com/user/ba1969. Pages 18-19, 34, 35-37. “Champagne Glasses” courtesy of Robert Proksa (fangol) via rgbstock.com, http://www.rgbstock.com/user/fangol. Page 29. “Peaches” courtesy of mconnors via morguefile.com, http://www.morguefile.com/creative/mconnors. Pages 30-31. “Postcard 1” courtesy of Billy Frank Alexander via rgbstock.com, http://www.rgbstock.com/user/ba1969. Pages 35-37. “Cucumber” courtesy of Hagit Berkovich (tzooka) via rgbstock.com, http://www.rgbstock.com/user/tzooka. Pages 42-43. “Three Peppers” courtesy of hotblack via morguefile.com, http://www.morguefile.com/creative/hotblack. Pages 42-43
Haunted Waters Press is an independent publisher located in the shadows of the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia along the banks of the Shenandoah River. Our goal is to bring to our readers engaging fiction in the forms of poetry, prose poetry, short stories, and novellas. While some selections will be available in electronic formats and traditional print, others will be offered as hand-bound originals and paper ephemera as we strive to celebrate the art of the book and letterpress printing. Our print studio consists of three presses including the Cooks Victor, the Baltimore #14 and a vintage sign press. Our quarterly literary journal, From the Depths, featuring works of prose, creative nonfiction and poetry, is released in the months of March, June, September, and December on the internet, and periodically in print form. You will also find a steady stream of online literary content from our contributing authors featured on the From the Depths home page. We are interested in stories that entertain us, stories that captivate us, but most of all, stories that haunt us. Please visit HWP News and our Submissions page for the latest updates on open submissions and writing contests.
From the Depths: Fall Issue 2013 The Fall 2013 issue of From the Depths will feature works whose stories revolve around the home. We are looking for elegantly written fiction and poetry where the heart of the story lies within the walls of the places we call home. Think beginnings and endings, comings and goings, running away and nostalgic homecomings. Stretch the limits with awkward family dinners and “if these walls could talk.” Tell us about the brick and mortar, the stones and beams, and the people who hold a house together. As always, we seek writing that comes from the heart creating an emotional connection with our readers and poetry that is clear, meaningful and accessible. We look forward to reading your work! Penny Fiction: A Flash Fiction Writing Competition Haunted Waters Press editor, Penny Dreadful, is selecting exceptionally small works of flash fiction (13 Words--No More. No Less) to be showcased in Penny Fiction, a regular feature of the literary journal, From the Depths. Extra points will be awarded for entries with a connection to the Fall 2013 theme. 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 will be always be considered for upcoming issues of From the Depths. For more details & submission links please visit http://www.hauntedwaterspress.com/Submissions.html
From the Depths is a publication of HAUNTED WATERS PRESS For more information please visit: http://www.hauntedwaterspress.com Or email us at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Published on Jun 29, 2013
The Summer 2013 issue of From the Depths features conversation themed works of fiction and poetry from Kristen Yamamoto, Clay Steakley, Eliz...