Parallax 2009

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Parallax 2009

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Parallax Spring 2009 Idyllwild Arts Creative Writing Department

Editor in Chief: Jake Tapleshay Jr. Editor: Jordan Bonner Poetry Editor: Lida Sobkova Fiction Editor: Emma Gannon Dramatic Writing Editor: Lucille Keifer Layout and Design : Jordan Bonner Cover Design: Lida Sobkova Cover Art By: Bina Park Creative Writing Department Chair: Kim Henderson Creative Writing Staff: Kim Henderson Andrew Leeson Ruth McKee Headmaster: Karl L. Reiss President: William Lowman Idyllwild Arts Academy 52500 Temecula Dr. PO Box 38 Idyllwild, CA 92549 (951)-659-2171 No work is to be reprinted without written consent of the author and of Idyllwild Arts Foundation Copyright May, 2008, all rights reserved.


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Contents Whitney Aviles-Low 5 The Lot Inquisition The Kind of Blue Ariel Bevan 16 Arms Like Cinnamon Sticks Daisuki Jordan Bonner 24 Dust Self Portrait Holding the Brain Emma Gannon 36 Five – John (Novel Excerpt) Candy Shop Lucille Keifer 44 Paris College Applications : A Sonnet Katie Perez 55 Traffic the dynamics of what we used to be and maybe still are An Hour in a Photo Booth Lida Sobkova 61 Send Me Off the Plank Country Houses of England An Iron Jacket of Habit Balloon Girl Behind the River Thunders Lilacs and Other L Words On Religion of the Birds Sahara Spain 68 Small Child Behind the Fence The Canopy Who Are You Inflation Jake Tapleshay 72 An October Moon Sets in Hemet


6 12 13 17 19 25 29 30 37 42 45 54 56 57 57 62 62 64 65 65 66 66 69 69 70 70 73

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Nana Family Portrait at Our Cabin Khalid Wardag 79 Afghanistan Four Hours in Hell Recipe for Brotherhood Brit Wigintton 84 Sap he said



74 75 80 80 82 85 89

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Whitney Aviles-Low

Well…let’s see…Whitney is a fifteen-year-old freshman (*gasp in horror*) of lowly status. She grew up on the second-largest green rock in a series of large green rocks most commonly known as Maui, Hawai’i (although she prefers to refer to it as “home”). She has a little brother named Brandon of whom she is very proud, simply because he’s alive. Anne Rice is her favorite author, but Douglas Adams is her hero, and The Ultimate Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy is her favorite book of all time (so far). She would like to be a fiction-novelist.


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The Lot There was nothing but empty space where the downtown road met the turnoff to the highway, an empty lot that’d seen a lot of things in its day, although nothing particularly good, truth be told. Eva had walked by that lot on multiple occasions, and had twice seen a mugging, three times a baseball game go awry when the batter decided the pitcher was the ball, and one time an actual murder involving not only a gun, but a ratty rug and a yard of rope as well. She’d been standing so close to the murdered kid when they shot him in the throat that she might as well have soaked her shirt in his blood on purpose; of course, it’d been no accident that she hadn’t been shot too, although Eva often told herself that the murder happened just because the lot was outright cursed, and that there was nothing she could’ve done about it. Too bad the lot was on her route to school, and too bad they didn’t force cops there already since it was pretty much on everyone’s route to school, or at least, everyone who lived on her street, the poor, downtown, backwater road where the Abercrombie Rolex boys and the Fitch Gucci girls never went. In fact, they all turned their noses up at the idea of the road’s existence, just like they turned their noses up at people like Eva, people who lived there and breathed there. Maybe the muggings had something to do with it, although it also could’ve been because of the broken sewer pipes that no one had ever gotten around to fixing, and now that Eva thought about it, it also could’ve had something to do with the Rottweilers running amuck and stealing not only garbage, but food, jewels, and clothes as well, sometimes right off of the person wearing them. Eva kicked at a stick she’d run into on her way down the street, ducking under the branches weighted with overripe peaches hanging over the Baxter’s stone wall. She reached up and grabbed a peach just as Scarlett Baxter, the Baxter’s oldest daughter, came running out of the yard beating at the Hampton’s Rottweiler with a mop, shouting across the street to Carlos Hampton that if he didn’t learn to tie his damn mutt to a damn leash then she, Scarlett, would just have to go over there and teach him a thing or two about home-neutering. Carlos shouted back that if Scarlett didn’t learn to mind her own damn business then he, Carlos, would just have to go over there and teach her a thing or two about duct tape and muzzles. Eva bit into the peach and reached up to grab another one before continuing on her way.


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The worst thing to ever happen on the empty lot, aside from the murder, was the time that Riley Wilson accidentally set fire to the old Rec Center, which was abandoned, but which had stood there for years and years. Kids used to break into the Rec Center to hang out or for laughs or just to feel like they were so goddamn cool. That day, the day Riley burnt it down, a gang war was going on inside between the Beaners and the Flips, something over someone suggesting that someone else was the result of an inappropriate union between a sewer rat and a prostitute. Riley had come in with a match for light, but when he saw the fighting he dropped the match and booked it out of there. The whole place went up in smoke, dissolved into ashes, a massive mess of flames. Everyone inside was killed. After that nothing was ever built on the empty lot again since rumor had it that the space was haunted after so many people had died there. As she walked, Eva wondered where her backpack was, and then remembered that she’d left it beside her bed when she ran out the door. Too late to go back now, though, or else she would miss the bus, and there would be no end to the patronizing stares of her teachers and the Abercrombie Rolex boys and Fitch Gucci girls if she weren’t at school for a day. They’d call her a typical lazy-ass Poky, skipping school just for the hell of it. Well, Eva was no Poky, she’d sure show them Poky if that’s what they thought. It wasn’t so hard to slash tires. She wondered how many school days she could get the Fitch Gucci girls to miss if they suddenly found nice sighing wounds sliced in the rubber wheels of their Volvos and Ferraris, and then she yelped when Jolly Parker suddenly backed out of the driveway in front of her, almost pin wheeling her into the cement. Jolly Parker rolled down his window and stuck his bread-dough-face out to grumble at her in what Eva liked to call fish-meets-lawn-mower-speech. How unfortunate to be named something like Jolly, she thought. His mother must have really hated him, and actually he’s so fat it’s no wonder, it probably wasn’t any fun bringing him into the world. He wouldn’t even roll if Eva pushed him down a hill, just bounce all the way. Eva remembered the time when Jolly had almost been mugged while waddling past the lot to get to the grocery store two blocks away, only he was so heavy that the muggers couldn’t push him down. They’d kind of shoved him once and then shuffled away with their heads bowed, glancing around, not in fear of cops, but rather in fear of someone having witnessed their failure to get at someone who should


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have been such easy prey. Eva looked everywhere but at the muggers and Jolly, pretending she hadn’t seen a thing, not a damn thing, because sometimes, if something went down at the lot, you just had to act like it had never happened. At the crosswalk Eva ran into Billy and Benjy, the Baxter twins, arguing with Leticia Hampton, who was complaining about the Baxter’s peach tree and about the smell of their house in general, that it wasn’t the Hampton’s Rottweiler’s fault if the Baxters left their gates open all the time, I mean really, what was the damn wall for anyway? Billy suggested that Leticia had something rather unfortunate stuck up her ass and Leticia answered by swinging her fist hard and fast at Billy’s nose. Billy went down and Benjy followed, screaming up at Leticia that she was a crazy witching bitEva smiled and waved hello at them as she walked by, chewing happily on the meat of the peach. Leticia smiled at Eva and nodded her acknowledgment while Benjy Baxter spit at Eva’s feet. “You comin’ to my party, right?” Leticia asked, and then she turned to scowl at the scowling twins. “Sorry,” she sneered, “no clones allowed.” Eva laughed. There had been a time, quite a while ago, before the murder and before the Rec Center burned down, that people used to throw parties on the lot. Even now, Eva could remember the bulging red balloons so numerous that they blocked all visibility past three feet; party throwers never liked to sit next to other families, so people were always set up at every second table. They also didn’t seem to like any color but red, which, Eva thought, had to be the ugliest, most useless color in existence. The balloons they used to put up always made her think of swollen ankles. Before the fire, there had been fourteen lopsided park tables made up of green paint and corroding wood. Those tables were where the balloons were tied, where people sat around cakes and candles or beer and burnt burger clods. If there weren’t any tables left, people whipped out the blankets. The lot was in almost the perfect place for those barely-abovepathetic parties, isolated but not too much, just big enough, and to top it off the shadows of conveniently placed trees created havens of shade over the heat of the dusty field. That made the lot ideal, except then a miniature army of black-haired, bark-skinned, roundfaced Flips moved into the neighborhood, which the Beaners didn’t appreciate all that much, and that’s when the gang wars started.


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Eva once had a Flip friend named Kingsley, whose name she hated and she often told him so. He had a milder temper than most of the Flips on their street; that is, when he was pissed off he tended to take it out on objects rather than on other people, so that hardly anyone ever witnessed his rage. He was also, as Eva’s mother pointed out, “a man of few words.” Kingsley did most of his speaking through his eyes and through stupid little sideways grins that made Eva want to pinch him, just to see if he could still manage a smile afterwards. He always did. Eva had been walking with Kingsley in the lot one day when a trio of Beaners came up with a gun and shot him dead, rolled him up in a rug, wrapped it around with rope and tossed him in an empty closet inside the Rec Center, that is, before it had burned down. Eva had kneeled over Kingsley after pulling him free of the rug, shaking his arm and chest saying, “Hey, hey you Flip, you’re all right, aren’t you?” That was maybe the one time that the cops had been anywhere near the lot, but after they deemed the murder a case of self-defense (and, of course, after they’d dealt with the Rec Center burning down), they never again stepped foot on it. People stopped going there for parties after Kingsley was killed, and Eva never found another Flip who she got along with quite as well as she got along with Kingsley. Three weeks after his death, the Rec Center was incinerated. After walking a half-mile from her house, Eva finally reached the bus stop at the crossroads where the street met the highway, only to see the yellow school bus pulling away as she sprinted to reach it before it left. It was already moving by the time she came to a stop, panting, next to the broken-in-half Straight-Road sign on which someone had artistically scrawled the words “To Hell” in big block letters. Eva could make out the face of Jolly Parker’s daughter, Merry, pressed against the plastic of the bus’s back window, her fat slug tongue hanging out and her toilet-bowl breath fogging everything up. Stupid Merry Parker, the condescending cow, she was just like her jelly roll of a father. Merry was the real Poky, the one who deserved to miss the goddamn bus, not Eva, not good Eva who wasn’t mean to anybody except for maybe the Abercrombie Rolex boys and the Fitch Gucci girls but they were spawns of the devil, implets in training, they deserved to go straight to hell and rot there. Eva had one peach left in her hand after having eaten the other one to the core and tossing it in the Estevez’s front lawn. The Estevez’s had a Rottweiler too, Amy, and Eva had watched Amy take


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the discarded peach core into her mouth and start to choke on it. Eva had walked away as quickly as she could, but now she wished she had kept the peach core so she could stick it in Merry’s hair the next time she saw her. The remaining peach looked tantalizing, pink and yellow and plump, but Eva was much too full from the last one, and so she chucked it into the middle of the highway hoping a lorry would come so she could watch it, the peach, explode in an extravagant fashion. Opposite the sidewalk, across the wide stretch of the four-lane highway, the lot sat still and silent under the microwave heat of the pre-summer sun. Even from where she stood, Eva could see the black ash and ruin where the Rec Center had stood so long ago, and she could remember the taste of peaches back when she would walk with Kingsley before some Mexikid put a bullet hole in his neck. Those peaches, the good peaches, had been from a tree that grew on the lot right next to the Rec Center, a tree that had burned down along with the building. The peaches from that tree were so much sweeter than the Baxter’s peaches, and back then Eva had actually enjoyed eating them, enjoyed the sticky sweet juice that moistened the dust in her throat on hot summer days that lasted way too long to be legal. Kingsley used to get a peach for Eva every day since she was too short to reach them herself, and she was an utter failure at climbing trees. Then Kingsley died and the peaches burned and Eva’s chest burned and a red buggy sped across the road, sending the over-ripe Baxter peach spraying yelloworange in every direction at once. Eva pumped her fist into the air and hissed a silent yes before jogging across the highway to the empty, weed-choked lot. There was the gouge in the ground that looked like it was dug out by a spastic shovel, where Billy and Benjy Baxter had tried to build their own fishpond; there was the patch of dead flowers where Leticia Hampton had once planted a garden that was later soaked in Clorox Bleach by Scarlett Baxter, who’d wanted to plant her own garden in the same spot; there was the wide, flat rock in the middle of the field where Kingsley and Eva had carved their names forever into the cold, grey surface, around which they drew a lopsided peach with a little leaf poking out of the top. Kingsley had carved that peach himself with a red-wood handled pocketknife on which was engraved the first letter of his atrocious name. Eva had watched him with her knees drawn up to her chest, watched as his long, narrow fingers - scarred from chipped nail-tips to mangled knuckles by fist-fights


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and fits of brick wall punching fury - shaped out a perfectly imperfect circle on the face of the rock in between them. “So you’ll always know where to find me,” he’d offered in the way of an explanation. Eva hadn’t known then what to make of that. She still didn’t know. Back then, all she did was laugh and twist her eyebrows into awkward arches on her forehead. She then wrapped her stubby fingers around Kingsley’s hers were like butter knives against broadswords in comparison to his - and pried the pocketknife free of his grasp. He hadn’t taken his eyes off of her, not once, not even as she etched his name in deep, miniature canyons into the center of the carved peach. “Now you won’t go anywhere,” Eva had said, though looking back on it she often wondered what she’d meant. Kingsley had responded by taking back his knife and carving the letters E-V-A in huge, dizzy loops just under his name. “You neither,” he’d said, after which he grinned at Eva with his just-crooked-enough-to-beannoying smile and his dark Flip skin and his big butterfly ears. She’d wanted so badly to punch his cookiecutter teeth in, tell him to quit making wise-cracks, she was serious. Even now, though she still had no idea why or what she’d meant, she was still serious. She’d wanted him to be as eternal as the rock. Maybe. If, in fact, the rock itself was eternal at all. She was just as sure then as she was now that someday some bastard would come along and scrape away their names in their little peachhaven just for the pure hell of it. Still, Eva wanted to believe it was eternal and that he was eternal and that she’d always know where to find him, down at the rotting field of dead grass and threats and MexiFlip blood spilling everywhere like goddamn reversefertilizer, where all the screw-ups eventually ended up with bullets or knives or fists in their head, neck, or guts. Eva leaned over the as yet untouched rock saying, “Hey, hey you’re okay, aren’t you? Bet heaven’s cooler than this hole. You’re okay right?” Eva laughed and sat on the rock, staring at the remnants of peach guts on the highway, where heat waves were rising up like steam from a sauna, not that she’d ever been to one but she always heard the Fitch Gucci girls talking about them. Eva watched Leticia and the Baxter twins approach the bus stop, Billy cupping his nose with both hands, Leticia with a self-satisfied smirk on her face that melted away when she saw that the bus was gone. Leticia turned immediately to the Baxter twins and started screaming at them in Spanish, threatening


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to loose her dog on them for making her miss the bus to school and it was all their fault that Carlos was going to kill her, oh god what would she do? Benjy sneered and told her to shove it. When Leticia pounced on him Billy pounced on her too so that all three of them went down in a mass of flailing limbs. Eva laughed and kicked at the dirt, which burst up in a red cloud all around her. Let the damn Fitch Gucci’s have their saunas, she told the rock, and for the tiniest span of a single breath she thought he was answering her when really all she heard was her own thick blood dragging itself through her chest. Over her shoulder she could see Kingsley climbing the peach tree next to the Rec Center, picking the biggest, brightest peach for her. Kingsley stepped down from the tree, walking towards Eva in his familiar unhurried stride and Eva called out to him, “Hey, hey you, Flip, you’re all right, aren’t you?” Kingsley only grinned.

Inquisition I took a paintbrush dipped in red, the darkest I could find, and ran it over a cross built from floorboards that hadn’t burned when the chapel caught fire; red where the hands went, where the feet bled and the back stained patterns like a map of streams into the wood. A circlet of flowers (white, some, others dusty yellow) crowned the cross where his head once rested, matted brown, dried into red dreadlocks. One by one, I tacked young memories upon the upstanding boards: a dream nailed here, a once-and-never-more tomorrow hammered there, and a whisper, never quite articulated, strung up by the corners of its jaw. At the foot of the cross I place me, an offering of Self, of crayons chewed on by a child, of pinkie-sized ribbons


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woven into three-year-old curls, of giggles and grass-rolling, the throwing of crumbs to emerald-headed ducks in meadows and parks, of forgiving and forgetting an offering of ignorance, an offering of Faith; mine was strong, once; but like the altar and the pews and the navy blue Bibles tucked in back of the benches, everything went up in smoke. All but the cross built from floorboards that hadn’t burned the night the chapel caught fire.

The Kind of Blue See, it’s kind of a funny thing, but it happened like this. No, they would never buy that. So what happened was, we were talking, right, and... And the wind was blowing outside, loud and cold, and the fireplace was going and maybe he said something, or maybe I said something. Well, one of us said something and, you know. They’re going to kill me. I’ve never hated the color blue so much. I’ve always hated hospitals, I’ve always hated keeping secrets, but it was nothing compared to this, this hospital, these lies. That color of blue. The nurse behind the counter is eyeing me like I’m the moldy slice of wheat-bread I found in my fridge yesterday. God, whose bread was that anyway? It had to be two months old at least; there wasn’t an inch of actual bread left on the thing. I think it might’ve been alive too. I’m pretty sure it’s still sitting there, growing and stinking. I didn’t want to touch it. It’s not my bread. I think it might be his. One of us said something. I wish that woman would quit looking at me. She’s like a pole on a chair. Straight and narrow, hooked nose like some kind of crazy bird, black hair pulled back in a bun. A pole with black hair pulled back in a bun. The bun looks like it’s yanking on her scalp, lifting her eyebrows higher on her forehead than they should be. Fuzzy caterpillar eyebrows. Maybe someday they’ll turn into butterflies.


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What does she need my name for? Just call me Janice. Yeah, I’m fifteen, so what? Yes, one month, that’s right, let’s just get it over with. “Let’s get it over with,” he’d said, as if facing a tedious chore on a to-do list. And then that bastard went and left his moldy bread in my fridge. Maybe I’ll make him come throw it away. I’ll just tell my parents he left the bread in there and they won’t chew me out for it. They’re always saying not to leave food any old place cuz’ it’ll mold No, lady, I’m not telling you my mother’s name. It’s none of your business. Screw other options. Just get this thing out of me. Get it out. Maybe if I close my eyes it’ll all be a dream and I’ll wake up and nothing will have happened, I’ll just be lying in my bed and when I go downstairs to the kitchen the moldy bread won’t be there. I’ll never have met him and I’ll never have come to this hospital and I can just smile and say my God what a nightmare. Just a nightmare. One, two, three. The hospital’s still there. The bird woman behind the desk is still staring at me. She’s filling out a form, slowly. I want to pick up the mug on her desk and smash it over her head. I’d drink the coffee in it first, though. I could really go for some good coffee. Good, real, fresh-brewed Starbucks coffee. No sleep last night, so stupid, had to keep staring at that ugly color blue. His eyes are an ugly color blue. Not even blue, really, more like dirty gray puddles on the side of a Houston road. Houston’s a nightmare. Nothing there but dusty gray skyscrapers and gloppy gray rain and road-rage. Stupid gray Hondas cutting you off. He wanted to take me to Houston. Thank God I told him no. Thank God. I will pick up that mucus yellow coffee mug right now and smash it over her head if she doesn’t shut up. I’m not here for a goddamn lecture, I just want to get this thing out and go home, and they’ll never have to know, and he’ll never have to know, oh God, what do I say? See, it’s kind of a funny thing, really, it probably won’t make any sense. Come back tomorrow, she says. Come back tomorrow. What the hell am I supposed to do until tomorrow? Oh yes, pamphlets are so helpful. Screw adoption. There’s nothing to freaking adopt. Shut up. Just shut the hell up. See, what happened was, it was cold outside, and the quilt was warm, and the fireplace was going, and one of us said something.


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Maybe I was wrong. I’ll have to check it again. The ugly color blue will be gone and there will be a nice happy line of red instead, and I won’t have to come back tomorrow. That’s what’ll happen. I’m sure of it. I’ll throw out the bread, too, before dad finds it, and I’ll vacuum the living room for mom. You know how she hates dirty floors. A clean one’ll make her happy. That’s right, pole-perched bird-woman, twaddle your ugly twig fingers at me. I’m not coming back tomorrow. I’m not I’m not I’m not. The ugly blue will be gone. I’ll close my eyes and it’ll all have been a dream, just a bad, bad, bad, sweet dream. One, two, three. I’m pretty sure the moldy bread is his.


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Ariel Bevan

Ariel Bevan is a freshman creative writer, who doesn’t know what she

specializes in yet, and who also cannot write a biography to save her life. She can, however, ramble about pointless things, and is an expert at swearing. She also loves comics and is a complete dork, but please don’t make fun of her because she’s super sensitive. Ariel also doesn’t know why the biography has gone this long at all, and will probably wind up making it awkward. Like now. So please just continue reading, and ignore the fact that she just wasted two minutes of your life.


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Arms Like Cinnamon Sticks or, that distance we both felt. inspired by Kaoru Hitachiin from “Ouran High School Host Club”

i. (when was the first time we both felt this distance? coming together into our palms, we both knew it, and we both felt that distance.) ii. harsh words whispered into pounding ears, children aren’t listening anymore, heat of the moment, covered skin, moving with the sky ahead, climbing the wall impossible to reach, watching as they climb alone— I stared and stared and stared —but their distance only grew. iii. hits and misses, trying to force the love, moving away from each other, we can’t live in our own world, no more, not any longer— walk away, my brother, take her hand and leave this world. I will stand and smile as you leave. iv. isn’t it impossible to feel, when the snow numbs your heart? (kisses like snow, cold and dry)


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isn’t it impossible to cry when the water in your eyes is gone? (eyes the color of autumn rain) it’s impossible to love when your heart yearns for sin. (arms like cinnamon sticks, fragile and easily broken fragrance.) v. keep nothing, my brother, how could you say that? I love you, brother, believe me— move away, my brother, go to her as she’s calling, believe me— go to her, go, please— I love you, believe me, believe me please I love you iloveyouiloveyouiloveyou. vi. (that day you touched the sky, I saw it, reflected inside you, clouds and sky and freedom, I watched from the ground— I stared and stared and stared, and we both felt that distance.) sinners, we are, those who love, and receive love in return, like us, full of indelible sin, writhing in pain, love; all we ever did was love. why are we punished, when all we did was love? (you swam away, you climbed away—


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leave this closed off world, you, who I love so much, please don’t get caught here. Please please please pleasepleaseplease.) pure love, untainted love, yet love as selfish as the wealthy, common love, but rare love, full of power but weak— we who did nothing by love, we who are punished for what we’ve done, we who love so intensely, that Heaven tries to stop us. (you touched her hand, took her fingertips, and I watched. I stared and stared and stared, never took my eyes from you, her, my heart, your hands, loving, close, intertwining, heat, love, passion, kindness, adoration, redemption— saved from my fate, my path of sin— this distance has never felt so vast; never has this distance been so lonely.)

Daisuki (v, n)

1: I Really, Really Like You (I Love You) 2: My Favorite Word / My One Weakness It’s definitely something odd. I don’t know how I could describe it to someone who hasn’t experienced it. It’s like razor tipped butterflies in your throat, and leprechauns river dancing in your stomach. Your heart feels like you’ve just gotten off a roller coaster, but more so. How can I describe it to you? You, who has never felt this…? I would say to think of your happiest moment in all your life, and then think of the saddest. There! Somewhere in between, you have it. Mix them


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and stuff them into your blender, set them on puree and watch them blend. See that exquisite color it makes (or, not so lovely, depending on what you color happiness and sadness)? For myself, I think it would make an attractive sort of lavender, or, maybe, a deep purple. It could depend on your mood. When I think of that feeling, I think of purple, black and maybe some white or red. Then again, I think of you. With your strawberry corn hair, meeting and changing with the seasons, and your blue or green eyes—you can’t seem to make up your mind; your eye color changes every time I talk to you. It’s almost as if I hate you to the point of feeling the complete opposite. Yet, as you’ve told me before, they are so closely intertwined; one can often be mistaken for the other. You said that it’s only one chemical that changes hate from love, and vice versa. That… disturbed me. I wondered if, perhaps, I had mistaken this wonderful cloud resting on the soles of my feet. You reassured me that, while similar, they were different. “After all,” You said, as I pictured your smile, “I know I love you, when I have every reason to hate you.” “Yeah.” I didn’t smile, but I stared off into space, committing it to memory—the facts about hate and love, not what you said. Although, that did happen to stick with me as well. I remember when we talked on the phone for the first time. It feels like so long ago, but it couldn’t have been that long, could it? I was nervous and my hands shook as I dialed—Should I? I don’t know if this is a good idea… Mom and Dad might not like it…—but I dialed anyway. Yes, it took me three tries of dialing, hearing the beeps of the phone punching the numbers and then chickening out suddenly and hanging up as fast as I could. On the fourth or fifth try, I almost hung up, but you picked up on the first ring, like you had been waiting. I didn’t get a chance to slam the button down, because I heard your voice, amused. “So, you finally got the courage to call?” I almost melted. I know you laughed at my voice, squeaky and high pitched like a frightened child. You laughed at me, and I suddenly felt more at ease, like I could do this. I relaxed into my white, fluffy bath robe, and sat against the closet door, hugging my knees. We talked until I was half-asleep, and I remember that I didn’t want to hang up. You embarrassed me off the phone that night by telling me


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you loved me. You teased me, asking to hear it back, although you knew I hardly said it. Then you cheated, talking in Japanese to me. “Ariel wa daisuki ka? Or, daisuki ja nai wa?” Something along those lines. You were asking, basically, “Do you love me or not?” But it was low of you. I don’t know if you realized it, and when I squeaked it in outrage, you laughed at me again. ‘Daisuki’ is one of my favorite Japanese words. It translates a few different ways, but I learned it as, “I really, really like you (almost, ‘I love you’)”, just like that. That’s the power of comic books. You saying those words was like magic; it felt like someone had sprinkled me with pixie dust and I was flying with Peter Pan through the night of London. I swear, if you called me everyday just to say those words, I would be able to go through my day with a smile. Just like that, my day would be wonderful. This feeling isn’t like anything else, you know? I think it kills me every day I’m with it, but it’s a true comfort to know that I’m not exactly alone in this. There are others, although they make fun of me and tell me, “Oh, you can’t be in love. You wouldn’t understand it. You’re only 14; you’re only a freshman.” I look at them and wonder if they realize just how they sound. I’m sure you would disapprove of me for saying all I’d want to say, wouldn’t you? You’d never tell me you love me with a warm, “Good night.” again. I think that, of all things would be worse. No laughter in my ears and no hearing you talk to your dogs while I laugh my ass off on my end of the line. “You sound like a sex offender when you talk to them!” I choked, laughing so hard I had tears in my eyes. You laughed at me and joked, “Oh, really? I’m sure you’d like that.” To that, I only snorted, “I wouldn’t enjoy that at all.” It’s like no other feeling in the world when your voice is soft and affectionate. You joke around and say, “My lovely wife, my gorgeous wife~!” to which I always retort, “Yeah, right, fail husband.” It wouldn’t mean anything to anyone else, I know, but I smile. Butterflies can’t even cover it. It’s feathers, soft and downy, tickling your insides, along with ants crawling up and down the tissue of your stomach, itching and giggly as they run around in circles. Hearts speeding up in time to the rhythm of the guitar, soloing right now in the song you just introduced me to. This is so amazing, I think, I can’t believe it.


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We’re completely opposite. I’m cynical and apathetic, and you’re sensitive and optimistic. I’m naïve and inexperienced with some things, while you seem worldly and… well, experienced. You’re bright; yellow; self-confident to the point of arrogant, while I’m dark; black; and completely the opposite of self-confident, almost to the point of insanity. You’ve told me multiple times it annoys the hell of out you when I put myself down. Yet, the fact that you worry and try to help me with that is endearing. It’s like melting cotton candy on your tongue—it gets too sweet sometimes. I don’t feel suffocated by it, though. I think I’m one of the few people selfish enough to always want the attention. Maybe that’d be good for you. You’ve told me that your wife would be showered with love all the time. You’re sure proving that to me now, by taking our family joke a bit too seriously. Well, way too seriously, but who am I to complain? I get to make all those other people who like you jealous. That’s a good feeling, too. When you get jealous, it’s adorable. You frown and pout and huff, telling me, “I don’t like them.” “Do you even know them?” “No. But, I just don’t like them.” “…You shouldn’t say that without getting to know them.” “I don’t need to know them.” “But you need a reason!” “I don’t need a reason to dislike someone.” “But!” “I don’t need a reason!” “Oh, fine. Be that way!” “…Daisuki.” Your voice is overdramatically sad, whimpering. I don’t say anything to that, so you know you’ve won. You’re using my favorite word against me, and you know it. This feeling is the smell of apple pancakes in the morning. It’s the feeling of a new-born puppy nuzzling your cheek. Some others may tell me, “Well, that’s not all it is.” That’s true. That feeling when you feel like you’re going to fall, you know that one? That feeling of getting ready to hurt, the adrenaline… only to have a hand grab your wrist. Of course, sometimes the hand misses and just pushes you into the pool, but that’s different. But it’s more than that, even. It’s the joy of carving pumpkins when you’re little, when you enjoy scooping out the insides and throwing them at your siblings. No matter how much you cut yourself on the


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carving knife, you always beg to do it against next year. It’s like that. Mostly, for me at least, it’s the sound of that word falling from your lips and into my sub-conscious when I think of you. “Daisuki,” You say to me, “Honto, honto daisuki wa. Moikunarakucha.” I smile and simply respond, “I would hope so.” Honto, honto daisuki wa. (I really, really love you.) Moikunarakucha. (Forever.) Daisuki. (I love you / I really, really like you.)


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Jordan Bonner

Jordan Bonner has lived in a mountain colony writing strange things on paper for three years now. He has immensely enjoyed being the junior editor of this issue of Parallax. When he’s not writing, Jordan enjoys Post-It note origami and getting better at dipping things. Man, he’s gotten good; he can dip a fry in almost three different sauces without one drip.


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Dust It was the golden hour of the evening, and Charlie Woodward planted his leather boots onto the surface of the California desert. Land, glorious but somehow secretive, unrolled before him. Mountains rose up like curtains. Tiny encampments of miners were scattered around the bases of the mountains, except one. A bump in the land was completely deserted and Charlie could see it sparkle from way up there. That one would be his, he decided. He would make the fortune of a lifetime and all those idiots wouldn’t have a clue. The town was called Whicktown. The road was too long and thin for its scarce decorations: The few and fine houses of the wealthy, a supply shop, the new inn, goods and water shop, the brothel with its flaccid framework, and the old, green tavern that barely stood at the end of the road. The sun was setting, and Charlie grew hungry for warm bread and jolly spirits. You could tell the tavern from the other buildings by the smell of sweat the sound of yells from a tightly packed room. Here he would meet his rivals. Inside, a single woman served drinks to dozens of dirt-stained men as well as women in loose clothing with playful faces. The barkeep’s name was Sarah, a plain, plump girl with sand-colored hair. Charlie introduced himself. “I ain’t no prostitute, if that’s what you’re lookin’ for, mister.” “Not at all ma’am,” Charlie laughed. “Just a pint and a place to sit down for a while.” “Sure thing.” She stared at him with a kind of mistrusting awe, one that came not only from his foreign features, but from the youth in his face. Other men were beginning to notice too, and talked amongst themselves in what was hardly a whisper. “So, where are you from?” Sarah asked. “All over. Mostly up North, though.” “So, what? Are you a tourist or you here to stay?” “I hope to stay at least a little while. As long as it takes to make a million.” “Oh, really,” She replied with the most enthusiasm she could muster. She’d heard it over and over; each time, she still felt guilty. “Well if you got any questions, feel free to ask. I know this lot of men like I know my own family.” Sarah weaved her way into an oncoming crowd of miners, and was lost to Charlie’s view for the remainder of the night. He smiled in satisfaction at the spit-soaked beards and drunken blabber of the


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men around him. These men were idiots, and didn’t know anything about rocks. Charlie knew; Charlie would get it all to himself soon enough. He began trudging through the desert dust at sunrise. He could see that glittering hill in the distance, the virgin cave ripe with gold and free for taking. The path to the cave was worn, but somehow the site was deserted. Charlie could almost feel the softness of gold in his hands. Finally, his feet sank in the soft dirt at the entrance and dropped his pack on the ground. Claimed, he thought, until someone rose a stink about now having an official. He knew, for a someplace out this far, that could take years. At the entrance to the cave, a wooden plank read: Roy Whick RIP. It was his now, Charlie thought, sorry Mr. Whick, you poor old bastard. He began to set up camp, looking at that strange marker each time he hammered a stake into the ground. It flashed in the corner of his eye with each stroke. By the end of the project, Charlie had already created as story as to what happened to Roy Whick, what Roy Whick’s life was like, what Roy Whick was like, and how Roy Whick had died. When the sun began to set on Charlie’s new mine, he took one final glance at the marker then headed towards the tavern. Sarah recognized his face and together they found a seat away from the chaos of a Sunday night. “You look like you got hit by a twister, Charlie.” Sarah said. “I’ve been workin’ morning ‘till night.” “Whereabouts?” “An abandoned site just north of here.” Abandoned mines had become as common as the promiscuous women that dotted the mining towns. She’d heard it all before and Charlie knew it. He decided to ask her about the man. “Say, do you know anything about a Roy Whick?” “Well sure. Not a lot of people around here don’t know the story of crazy Mr. Whick and Skipper the hound.” “Did he live around here?” “Suppose so. The story goes that Roy Whick came here a long time ago with just a loaf of bread and a hound named Skipper. They say Skipper was so sharp he could sniff out gold. One day, Skipper went crazy on a mountainside and old Whick set up camp right there. Sure thing, he fond gold dust right at the entrance. They say he dug day in and day out looking for the rest of it. Eventually he just stopped sleepin’ and spent the nights digging and digging. Poor Skipper died eventually ‘cuz Whick stopped takin’ care of him. Then, one day, he disappeared. Folks say he finally


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found his gold. Other say he went mad and ran off into the desert. No one knows for sure. Anyways, a few men heard the story and decided to look for the gold themselves. They called the site Whicktown and here we are. They’re all still lookin’. Lookin’ to get rich real easy.” She left Charlie’s side to collect empty glasses at the bar. It could have been a fairy tale, sure, but what if it wasn’t? He had found Roy Whick’s marker outside the mine. Why, then, wouldn’t there be gold inside, waiting for him in all it’s luminescent splendor? He left the bar early so he could get some sleep. The next morning, Charlie dug his pick into the mountain so hard goose bumps raised on his arms. After a morning’s worth of digging, Charlie could see a faint glimmer under the rocks. Gold dust shone underneath, sparkling brilliantly for something so small and scarce. This was it – he knew it. He dug for hours after, only to uncover more rocks glittering with the dust. He covered his findings with a blanket and headed into Whicktown with a swift stride. “Sarah,” He panted. “I found it! Roy Whick! I found his gold mine!” “Sit down and take a few breaths, will ya?” Sarah murmured, but this escaped Charlie’s buzzing ears. “I found the mine,” he whispered. “I found gold dust all over the entrance, just like you said. I think I really found it!” Sarah quieted him with a motion of her finger. “Shh. How the hell you know you’ve gone and found Whick’s mine? All the mines anywhere near town been dusted, you know, tryin’ to sell. Hell, a nice fellow come in just ten days ago and says to me that he found Mr. Whick’s mine too. Turns out it was neighbor’s and there was a whole push an’ pull about it. In the end no one found nothing. Hate to kill the mood Charlie, but that’s just a tall tale that’s been swimming around the tavern for a while now.” Charlie took a look at his scratched up hands and the dirt – crusted wounds. “There’s no way. I’m gonna be rich, and you’re gonna see real soon.” The days passed much the same as that first day. On the evening of the third, Charlie’s shovel drove into something hard in the ground. The rusted edge pried free the rocks and grass covering the strange lump, and soon the thing was free. A small skull the size of a dog’s head emerged from the loose dust. He could have shouted “Skipper!” out loud if he hadn’t been biting down on his front lip like a gag.


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Once the skeleton was completely removed, Charlie found the body to be much smaller than he anticipated. After laying the brittle thing out on a rock, he could clearly distinguish it as a bobcat skeleton. With a heavy sigh dripping from his lips, he lifted the shovel once more and continued to dig. The next thing Charlie unearthed was a small bandana. It was worn and covered with stains – sweat, he concluded. What else could it be? His fantasies re-ignited at the sight, and soon he prowled the landscape for other clues that would lead him to Roy Whick. Among them, he found an old scrap of paper with illegible writing – a letter, perhaps, the bottom end of an axe, an empty pouch made of cracked leather, and a button. The landscape was littered with signs of life. Roy Whick had lived on site, cut his own wood, made his own clothing, never abandoning his gold. He had used the red bandana to wipe the blood from his tired hands. Now, Charlie could use it to soften his own pickaxe, and he wrapped the cloth around his hand. After nonstop days and nights of work, Charlie had found the prize at last: a small, golden nugget. It lay simply in the walls of the mine, tilted coyly, soft and exposed. He pulled it out by his bare hands and held it in his palm. He pocketed the precious thing and headed towards the tavern. He wanted the world as his witness, but in this town of gold hounds, Sarah would be that witness. He rushed her out to the mine by her rough, wrinkled hand. “Stop pullin’ me you crazy dog. I can walk myself.” She whined. The walk seemed long on account of every step seeming to possess all the meaning in the world. He sat her down by the defeated fire pit. “Now you watch from here, and when I see gold, I’ll holler. You take notice real good. Don’t miss anything. This one’s for the papers.” He chipped away that rock with the delicacy of cracking an egg. Finally, a noise like a coin dropping echoed in the mine, and Charlie could feel hollowness inside. He peered through the cracks like a servant peeks through a keyhole. His eyes began to water. “Sarah!” He shouted, hacking away mercilessly at the fine wall. “I’ve found it! Sarah! Come on!” The echoes of the Earth pounded in his ears. It was his. He flailed wildly in the tunnel, pushing forward with eyes shut tight. The grumbling in his stomach was echoed by the grumbling of the Earth, and soon, he could barely hear Sarah’s voice. “Charlie! Get out! Are you crazy?!” “It’s okay! C’mon Sarah!”


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His voice was lost in the sound of rock on rock, rock on metal. The walls fell as easily as sand, and Charlie’s voice was muted from Sarah. Sarah ran back in to Whicktown as fast as her weak legs could take her. Soon, miners from the town and the nearby mines headed towards the site. The pile was as tall as the hill itself, and rocks the size of the horizon moon blocked the entrance. Every morning and night, Sarah brought water and food to the miners, all the time muttering to herself “Never shoulda let’m go by hisself.” and “Never shoulda told a man like that such a story.” On occasion, she would shout into the empty mouth of the hill, only to receive the complacent hum of the Earth’s inner workings. Eventually, the men forgot what they were looking for, only that there was gold at the end. No one dared tell Sarah so. She slept less than a coal miner. Days turned into weeks when finally the entrance was found. All the miners yelled for Sarah to come quick. She pushed her tired feet through the rubble until she reached the back of the mine. Gold was scattered like grass over the rocks. Shining nuggets, sparkling stones, and walls of dust created the kind of frame reserved for treasured paintings. A skeleton sat, defeated, against the wall, the feeling of hopelessness still lingering in its eye sockets. In its lap was Charlie, his mouth parched and crack, locked in the position of gasping for fresh air, a pile of gold scattered at his feet. Together, the miners and Sarah carried out Charlie’s corpse, leaving behind the skeleton, a small bandana tied tightly around its wrist.

Self Portrait I hold the ghost of a human being, a body used to reenact impulse and lighter than a song’s concluding ring. When I was young, I walked familiar roads. That specter turned and disappeared to see the light in curiosity’s black robe.

In time I became his marionette. I let him speak through subordinate lips and let his stance compose my silhouette.


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I once undid the belt that bound my skin – the rest as well – thus frightening a girl being transfixed by a phantom’s bargain. I begged her not to recognize my shame. I fell behind the craft of phantom limbs, entrapped in organs, body drawn profane. A loving gaze is no more than a taunt when limbs that should have grown in mother’s womb reveal the soggy character they haunt. Although the embers of reflections glow to brand the soul, and I avoid the sting, a ghostly thing will stretch, then feel the blow.

Holding the Brain The brain is heavy in my hands, rising from the jar with more inertia than anything as soft and flushed with nature’s hue for silk. I feel, in quivering palms, the soft weight of a head resting on silent shoulders, the weight of an overripe fruit, the nakedness of its pit. Something has fermented inside, a childhood of secrets airlocked into dark pockets and hidden for years, dripping with liquid. I can’t help but feel obscene, staring into a memory without eyes staring back. I see a man with lawn-puddle eyes and a hallway full of shadow-play where he lies in the guest bedroom and waits for his candle to gasp in its own pool. Out the window, he studies the neighbor with the dusty sheet-skin checking her breasts in the mirror, his crooked fingernails digging into the soft curve of his forearm. He tosses in bed, avoiding the moon’s pervasive beams,


Parallax 2009 hides the sight of his chapped hands underneath the covers. The world digs into him like a sting. Releasing his grip, he wishes, someday, for a wife like her. After the accident, he drinks coffee black. Across the counter, the woman with the stiff skirt whitens her coffee to the shade of her thighs. He imagines her wind chime breath in his ear. Out the window, a tired mother – he sees her soap-worn hands on his bare chest, palms scrubbed flat and smooth. Wandering with an old bouquet, a little girl stammers in buckle shoes. One day, she will be a woman with hair that could brush his kneecaps. He sees her in a bridesmaid’s dress, holding a peach rose, smooth as her lips. He falls in love for the length of a cigarette drag. She spots him. Will she imagine him in schoolboy overalls? Will she capture him in her memory and grow old, falling in love with the smell of coffee? I killed the mouse. He whimpers to himself, smoothing apart the stale breast with a small, unsteady thumb. He heard it in the kitchen, under the table where mother will always serve dinner on late nights. Splinters were the height of misery that could happen there. The tin trap against its shoulders, the mouse inched the device forward with its hind legs. He grabbed it by the pumping stomach and pulled its crumpled frame


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free from the head. Silence, no longer safety, means the hematite eyes of a rodent staring at the table’s underside, following the gaze to the etching of a telephone number in the corkboard scratched out so deep the light shines through. When mother is gone, he misses the smell of gas. Turning on the burners, he watches their ethereal wisps and waves that warp air into oil, that smell like burnt sugar, black sugar cookies popping, head popping like a firecracker – this is home. At night, mother will come home and prop her spider legs on the kitchen table, a cigarette in her dry lips, and strike a match. The flame wraps around each corner, the beam with heights marked up the side Mickey Mick Michael and the painted-over memos. A sound like a rush of wind under the door. She lays in the hospital bed, still as a pin on a cushion, her hand moist with balm in his. She has a profile like wet tree bark, the whole side of her facing on-looking nurses with the audacity of pain’s quick departure from the body. She will want to start going to church. She will wheeze that way tucking the covers under his arm. He will not spring out of bed to watch her cook breakfast on naïve Saturday mornings – from where he stands, the curling look of horror is branded onto her face. That night, monsters


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will not stay behind closet doors. Her name is Lillian and her father is a doctor. They are married in shades of blue – at dusk he can barely tell her from the ocean. Her father says of course they will go to Hawaii, of course they will gaze lovingly at each other in the waves. Of course, young love is the purest kind, he chuckles. Her hair will always be conditioned to the texture of mink, her lips, the same hue of ripe peaches. With the medical technology these days, he’ll think he’s staring at a painting. Father slams his margarita on the table, “Alright, that’s it then,” He slurs, avoiding her ear. “Now you don’t have any reason left to leave.” Here is a stub at the brain’s base where instinct unravels into the spine. The stem is light, quick, easy as destruction. I want to squeeze those dainty hands until every knuckle breaks. I wish I could read the newspaper with a gun in my lap. The snapping of a hand over his jacket pocket becomes automatic. It’s none of your business what’s in there. Nothing is mine in this house. Arms have become the right answer. To grab is human, they say.


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After you’ve been crying, defeated and weak all over, that’s when I want you the most. He sits, restless, in an armchair, clasped hands squeezed white, battling mind with eyes. He hears nothing but the piercing fever of adrenaline. I wish someone would touch me. Face sticky and smooth, he leaks tears into the collar of an undershirt. The funeral clothes are arranged on the hotel bed to keep his feet from shivering. The next room over, Lillian’s sister heaves, sleep is slippery in his fingers. He decides to start smoking, and lights a first cigarette. She was buried in a blue dress. Sleep escapes, he lights another. He fears the cheap hotel of a next wife, the weeping of another someone he should feel the need to comfort. Feeling morning’s wide-eye breeze, he touches himself, head pressed into the pillow, with eyes squeezed shut. He lights another. In this state of waiting, nothing sleeps, only saturates. He kills himself at a tree-root’s pace. Finally, each breath is a horrified gasp, something grows in deadweight lungs and doctor’s heads sway like broken windmills. Her father, the man with the promises, says to him : of course, others will learn from your mistake. Of course, your body belongs to science now. He scribbles his name like a last breath


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on that quivering line. I hate men in suits. Maybe that’s why I never get anything I want. She was a realist, of course, would have wanted – He remembers mother kneeling by the guilty hearth, the lining of her cauliflower eye flickering, praying for God to forgive her son. She would always cross herself before she kissed his forehead. She would lean over his casket and feel the haunting hollowness of his chest, the sunken pull of his eyelids. At night, the nurse spies on him through the crack in the door, eats the last of the peanuts, and draws the opaque curtains. He takes a drag like a desperate need for fresh air. Nothing is mine in this house. The brain is frozen still like anything that was never touched by bare hands. The folds give the illusion of an accident, wrapped in a bundle and held like a sick child. It slides, emotionless, into the jar, and I realize the feat of preserving memory in formaldehyde, only once before palmed by God, something irrevocably His.


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Emma Gannon

Emma Gannon is a second year Junior at Idyllwild Arts Academy. She mainly associates herself as a fiction writer, and has won the Scholastic Golden Key for her play Undercover. She has published an article in The Hub, a supplement of the Denver Post, and is the Fiction Editor of Parallax. The authors she most admires include Stephen King, Flannery O’Connor, and Sherman Alexie. She plans to become a novelist.


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Five—John Red was not a good color to wake up to. I had told this to Georgina incessantly while she was going crazy, decorating the bedroom and the bathroom in strange hues she got out of remodels she saw on TV. As soon as she had pulled out the small paint sample labeled “Chinese Red” I had asserted that that was no color for a bedroom, a place where I went to sleep, rest, calm down. She had nodded her head in the irritating way she has and muttered in her patronizing pooh bear voice, ‘Oh silly it’s romantic. It’ll spice things up.” I shut my eyes against the infuriating color, and tried not to take umbrage to the idea that she felt the need to spice things up. I had left my wife for her, hadn’t I? I had permanently ruined my reputation with the woman I had loved for over fifteen years, all of our mutual friends, my daughter, solely for her sorry ass. She needed spice after that? She needed to add anything to what was already a muddled, tangled mess? I heard her sigh softly and shift in bed beside me. The tips of her hair left lightning bolts of itchiness alight on my forehead. I could hardly believe that things like that had ever allured me to this woman, turned me on like no other. As I let my weary eyes glide down her bleached scalp I could only feel disgusted at how much of my money she had spent on her hair, for coloring, a monthly cutting, special visits for when I took her out someplace fancy and she wanted to get it curled. She owned three damn curling irons, I couldn’t see any reason as to why she just couldn’t do that herself. She sighed again. Swallowed. Yawned. Sometimes I felt like she made those little noises just to bug the hell out of me. I used to think it was sexy, her coy little bits and pieces of sound that escaped her lips when she stretched, walked, smoothed my hair with the palm of her hand. But they sure as hell didn’t do anything for me anymore. Now Georgina just seemed there for the sole purpose of seducing me, for continuing what was already a disgustingly heinous act on the part of a married man, a man who had been married, anyway. Sometimes she’d look at me, her eyes racooned against her face with the hundreds of dollars she spent on MAC makeup, and I felt the urge to punch her, to leave a steak of “Midnight Mauve” across those young cheeks of hers, those cheeks that shone like a rodent when she smiled. I wanted her to know how much I hated her. I wanted to see her cry. “Babe?” Her whispery slivered my ear. “Baby? You gonna make breakfast?”


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Keeping my voice under control, I murmured, “That’s your job, sweetie. At least on Sundays.” She groaned. “But I’m so tired. I can’t believe I was at Red Corner till three last night. That was so irresponsible of me.” I knew through the tone of her voice that she was smiling to herself in the pillow, her eyes scrunched up in that face that I hated, that I wanted to break. “And anyways, it’s the Sunday after your publishing party. We should celebrate.” She shifted again, letting her scrawny stomach fan out in the motion of her stretch, her ribs unraveling like a deck of cards beneath her thin tank top. “Babe?” The night of the publishing party had been a disaster. My agent had booked the lounge of some swanky hotel in downtown, and a good two hundred people had been there. All were people who considered themselves my colleagues, people who secretly toasted themselves for my success, for sticking by me when my book had ceased to draw any attention, when any publisher that looked at it had given me a look of plain incredulity. They all felt good because they went ahead and told themselves that I would be nowhere without them. That not of this would have happened without them. And of course that was bullshit. When I had been in the process of publishing, almost everyone I turned to—fellow authors, publishers, assistants, agents—they had all looked at me with that expression of pity, regarding me as just another sad man who was trying to publish a book that would never see the shelves. Well, that party had been my own personal reason to gloat. I had published my book, it was on the shelf at the nearest Barnes and Noble, and while everyone at that party felt that they had helped my in some way, I knew the truth. I was the only person responsible for Tribunal Youth making it into the public eye, and as long as I knew that, and those slimy scumbags knew it deep down too, I was content. I was going to enjoy my little party. But Georgina had been there, and as I had expected, this very fact kept my party from being a success, let alone an enjoyable gathering. As usual, she had come dressed in some skimpy dress that glittered with the wine glasses, her hair pulled up in a loud (and expensive) hairdo. Then she had proceeded to get drunk, slapping my agent on the back hard enough to dislodge his toupee, laughing loudly at bad jokes, giving every middle-aged man at the party that comeget-me look, to which none of the men responded to, because she happened to do this only in front of me.


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the men responded to, because she happened to do this only in front of me. By the end of the night, I was pulling her into my cab, while she had been waving at the group of men gathered outside the hotel for a cigarette. They waved back, obviously out of mockery, and I had slammed the door in their faces and told the cab driver angrily “Sixteenth and Buler. Step on it.” “Aw, baby, don’t’ get all cranky like you do.” She had crooned against my chest as I glared out the window. “Tonight is a night to celebrate!” I hadn’t responded, only sat next to her, ready to throw her off me if she showed an signs of puking. Her legs looked fragile and veiny where they poked out of her dress. This is one of those moments when I couldn’t recall any reason I had ever had to sleep with her. We had met when she had been hired as my financial advisor, but I had never met someone so stupid who could do math. But something had been alluring about her. When I had had my first meeting with her, she had been dressed in this sharp little skirt and heels, her shiny hair pulled back, her eyes framed with these thin wiry glasses that made her eyebrows arch at the most elegant angle. I had slept with her a week after we met. It hadn’t been at all awkward, like I would have expected initiating an affair might be. It had been simple, inviting her to the apartment I had owned by myself even after I had gotten married. My flat on Sixteen Street was something I refused to share or give up, and I found it very useful when Georgina started coming over for consultations. Consultations that started out innocuous, afternoons spent on my leather couch with wine, cheese, and papers. I had found out around then that she really wasn’t very smart, but she had this sweet little giggle she gave whenever I made a joke, gave her a compliment. I made me happy when she gave me that coy look of pleasure, and within an hours we’d be in my bedroom, moving so suddenly, so quickly in an act of complete debauchery. She had lived with me for a little less than a year now, and I almost screamed with regret at ever getting involved with this woman. “Baby?” I silently felt the hotness of my breath circulating against my face. I still hadn’t moved anything but my lips. “Baby, what do you think?” I lifted my head, and muttered, “I think you should get your ass in the kitchen if you want to eat today.” I could tell by the immediate slump of her shoulders that her face was contorted into a pout now.


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Surely enough, when her head was elevated enough for me to see her, she had a skulking expression that was meant to break my heart. “Don’t be like that, Johnny.” She encircled my face with her arm, her eyes open wide and bright in an effort to cheer me up. “We haven’t gone out together in weeks, you’ve been so busy.” “I’m tired.” “Aw, come on, Johnny.” I hated that name. I wished she would stop calling me that. “Johnny? Baby?” I had closed my eyes. I felt her ceeping closer to me, most likely in order to give me a morning kiss. “Johnny—” “Don’t call me that!” I sat up in bed with the force of a mouse trap. Throwing the covers off me, stumbled towards the bathroom in a rage. The color of the walls practically blinded me. “Johnny—John? What’s wrong?” “I turned to face her. “I want you out of my house. Out, by tonight.” “What? What did I do, John? What did I do t make you so upset?” She was already sniffling. She was a crier. I had known as soon as I had raised my voice she’d cry. “I’m sick of you and all this dumb crap, Georgina!” I gestured around the room with my arms. “This redecorating shit, you always mooching off of my money like a fucking gold-digger whore!” “John! You, you asked me to move in! I thought you liked what I did…I hoped that if I kept the house nice enough we could get married this summer…” I looked at her, trying to gauge whether or not she was serious. Tears were haphazardly falling from her eyes, her hands were covering her mouth to keep her trembling lips from my vision. She sat upright in bed, her tank top grasping her skinny little figure, her boy shorts riding up to reveal her pale, freckled legs. Her narrow arms were shaking, and as she sat there, jerking with the effort of her sobs, I almost felt sorry for her. Then a bright pink picture frame caught my eye. It was new, it looks dumb and expensive, and a picture of my daughter Ronnie stood in the midst of it, her intelligent smile dulled by the bulbous hearts that shone around her head. My daughter. My Ronnie. “Get out. I don’t want you here anymore.” “John, this is insane, you can’t just throw me out on a whim, I don’t have anywhere to go—” “Well, it took you a good week and a half to break up my marriage, and a good three weeks after that to worm your way into my apartment. I doubt


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you’ll have much trouble.” My voice was cold. I knew I was hurting her. “John!” She was standing now, her scanty pajamas crushed against her body with sweat. “This is so unfair. I am not leaving—” “Yes you are.” I began to strut towards her. I was a good seven inches taller, and as soon as I was within arms reach she backed away, seizing her coat from a pile on the floor. She stuffed it on as she quivered, “John, John, I thought we could get married. You could start over. With me. We could both start over.” The tears were still running down her cheeks. “Get out, Georgina.” I kept my face stoic, the same one I usually sported for press pictures. She looked at my incredulously, still not ready to believe. “I want you out.” I gave her these last words as closure. “You can come get your crap this afternoon. I’ll be gone all day anyway.” She nodded, her eyes now wide with bewilderment. She turned around, slipped on the flip flops that lie by the door, and stumbled through the doorway, across my apartment, and out onto the streets of Denver. I shuffled through the nightstand that sat on the side of my bed and found my cigarettes. I had kept the habit a social one for the past couple of years, but within the past couple of months I had felt more like a true smoker, sneaking them during work hours, stuffing them in my pocket last minute before I left for a big dinner party, a date with Georgina. I stuck one in my mouth and lit it, breathing in, letting it out. My daughter’s photo glared at me. I picked it up, smoothed it out of its from with the utmost gentleness, and let the frame crash to the floor, it’s ugly pink chrome breaking into seven uneven pieces. I laid the photo on the night stand, picked up the ohone, and dialed. It rang. Four times. She was probably out doing something, jogging, eating breakfast. “Hi. I’m not here to take your call right now, but leave your number and I’ll call you back.” Her face had gotten deeper, more concentrated as the years went by. “Um, hi, sweetie, it’s Dad. Just calling to see how Texas is going. Hope you’re having fun with your mom. I miss you. I’ll give you a call later. Bye.” I hung up and placed my face in my hands, suddenly sleepy.


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Candy Shop Her hands pressed against the glass. It felt like they could lock themselves there with the sticky frost of the candy shop’s window. The wreath above her tinkled with small bells and smelled of fake holly, and she was indifferent to it. She was trying to see what lurked within the small shop, not the superfluous decorations outside. Molly squinted into the sweets store that had been in every child’s nightmare at last once in that town. It supposedly sold the most succulent delicacies in the county, but children didn’t go in there out of both their parent’s superstition and their own. Because the man who owned it, Fred, come from a part of Africa called Zanzibar, and had been on trial for murder three years previous. The small girl squinted through the window at the tall man whose broad shoulders heaved as he rung a wash rag out in the sink at the very back, his skin the color cocoa butter should have been, the irises of his knuckles stained the color of coal. His placid face never seemed to brace against any emotion as he cut twists of caramel, shoved little bits of colored sours wrapped in cellophane into the large plastic jar on the counter, smeared pans of fudge with sugary peanut butter spread. Whenever some brave citizen or tourist entered the shop for something, at least three children would gather at the window, witnessing the purchase of dainty jelly beans, jawbreakers, and, more recently, small baskets of crumbling malted milk balls covered in red Christmas ribbon. Inside, Fred threw the rag into a basin and glanced at her. She looked away, down the street to the Jewish bakery, the smell of Matzo and latkes hovered in the frigid air. A woman with a leashed pitbull passed her on the sidewalk, and she pretended to stare at the puppy, while the suffocating gaze of Fred continued to heat her frozen cheeks. The lady passed, and Molly turned the slightest bit to glance at the window. Fred was standing at the counter, a knife in his hand chopping at bits of fudge with adamant snaps of his wrists. His back was to her. She sighed, the heat leaving her face and making way for the cold, and was about to turn home when she saw him turn around, a small red handkerchief in his hand. He continued towards her, and stepped out the door with surprising agility. “You look chilled to your very bones, little one. Here.” He handed her the handkerchief, which was filled with steaming pieces of fudge. “Now get home, now. Shouldn’t be out in weather like this.”


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Molly looked up at him in awe and horror, but he smiled. “And stop greasin’ up my window.” She nodded folded the package, and turned towards home. She reached her street, the smell of gritty meatloaf leding the way to her house. Before she entered the door, she took a piece of the fudge and chewed. It was still warm.


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Lucille Keifer

Lucille Westfall Keifer was born in Massachusetts right around the time of the Perfect Storm. She grew up in Malibu, California, surrounded by every form of art imaginable. With her parents both fine artists, Lucille and her two sisters have been painting and drawing since they could hold a brush. Lucille studied art in Oxford, England over the summer of 2006, an experience that inspired her Oxford series. She has “a slightly scary-long” list of awards and prizes she’s won, the most recent being the national Congressional Art Competition. Lucille is currently a senior at exclusive Idyllwild Arts Academy, where she loves going to school with people all over the world. “I have friends from Prague and Afghanistan,” she says “They have the most interesting opinions.” She is looking forward to deciding which college attend. Lucille loves reading and has a soft spot for comic books, especially Batman comic books. “I love anything that combines words and drawing - they’re my two loves and I can’t quite seem to pick,” she says, “I hope that one day I’ll be making my living doing art that perfectly fuses both.”


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Paris There are barriers on the stage representing holding cells. In one is a beautiful, very young woman, LOVE, in a torn silk evening dress and a tough-girl face. In the other is a man, MISTER, several years older than she, wearing a tuxedo and looking educated and cultured – very out of place. Neither of them is wearing shoes. Love is banging her head against the cell barrier . MISTER: For god’s sake stop that. LOVE: (in a good mood)Kills brain cells. Like heavy dinking MISTER: That isn’t proper logic. LOVE: (as logic exercise)Drinking kills brain cells, and head injury kills brain cells therefore all heavy drinking kills brain cells. MISTER: Love, you aren’t hurt are you? LOVE: My gown is. MISTER: But the bits inside the gown are all right? LOVE: (teasing) You keep your mind off the bits inside my gown, you dirty old man. MISTER: Glad to see we’re feeling better. LOVE: Running from cops isn’t hard. MISTER: It was a high fence. LOVE: Hey, I did not fall off that fence. I jumped. I thought you got away. Did you, like, turn yourself in? MISTER: (sarcastic) Yes, and I had a religious visitation that told me to forgo my lawless ways and ill gotten gains and become a lawyer. LOVE: Come on. It happened fast. Did we get her? Did we get Miss – Mister hits the wall, cutting her off MISTER: No names. You do realize they can hear us. LOVE: Fine. I saw this…uh… movie. It was about a con. Did you see it?


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MISTER: If it didn’t have Humphrey Bogart in it. LOVE: Right. There was this party, at the end, and one minute everything was normal and the next there were police everywhere, everyone going crazy, and I ran for a while before they caught - her. Did you get what was happening? MISTER: The mark was smart. LOVE: She figured out what was going on. Mister shakes his head. LOVE: Nodding or shaking? MISTER: (unwillingly) She was told. LOVE: She was told? MISTER: Carelessness on our part. LOVE: Carelessness. That’s code for….You told her. Great. A con falling for the mark is only like the number one cliché. MISTER: I didn’t say LOVE: Bet you thought she was pretty. Joe thought she was pretty. What the hell is with you guys, I’m prancing around like goddam Cinderella– MISTER: Love – LOVE: And you fall for the first lady who walks around in – what the hell was it? That scanky purple thing and the - feather boa? MISTER: Love LOVE: I don’t want to hear about what a beautiful thing or whatever love is, so just stuff it. MISTER: You’ve seen those movies, love. The grifter and the mark go off into the sunset. Now, where’s Joe? LOVE: Joe? MISTER: Joe wasn’t picked up. LOVE: So he’s smarter than you, he got away.


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MISTER: We’ve got us a Judas Iscariot. LOVE: A what? MISTER: Someone fell for the mark. It was not me and it would be a strange world indeed if it was you. LOVE: Yeah? Well, how do you know Joe wasn’t picked up. (to outside her cell) Hey, Cop, security guard, whatever you’re called. Did you pick up another guy, tall, dark MISTER: Shut up, love. LOVE: Doesn’t mean anything. Con could have failed lots of ways. Bet it’s your fault and you want to blame someone. MISTER: Exercise a speck of reason. You went back. Our place was ripped apart. LOVE: (doubtfully) You were looking for something. You’re a slob. MISTER: They were looking for something – good lord, Joe must have thought I kept files. He wasn’t very bright. The police caught you just after you turned up. LOVE: Chance – MISTER: Chance can’t find one apartment in a crowded city, love. Love swears under her breath, then kicks the wall. LOVE: (starts icy, ends angry) It’s your fault, you bastard. You never liked him, you gave him sissy roles a trained chimp could do and were all ‘I’m Mr. Fancy Lawyer, I’ll be needing a secretary, a chauffeur, a coffee boy, an art expert to say ‘why yes, that’s a Vermeer,’ and someone to answer the phone because no one will believe Mr. Fancy Lawyer can be reached on the first call! MISTER: I know how close the two of you were. LOVE: Like hell you do. You haven’t a clue. Not the beginning of a clue. If you weren’t here we’d still have Joe. This is your fault, your stupid, stupid con, your


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stupid smart mark! It’s all you damn, stupid, British fault. MISTER: Our guard fell asleep a few minutes ago. You don’t want to spend the rest of the night in a straitjacket, do you love? LOVE: You have a problem okay? Don’t talk to me. And don’t call me Love. Pause. Love hits and bangs her head against the divider a few times. MISTER: Holding your breath in there? Love hits her head a final time and stops. MISTER: Be a good girl. Breath in…out…in…out. Love follows his breathing cues. MISTER: Now listen. You’re going to be all right. This isn’t all that bad. Love makes a scoffing noise. MISTER: They only have us on circumstantial evidence. They’ll look but they won’t find any more. We get out, change our names, our passwords, our locks, and we’ll set up a better one next time. LOVE: Don’t care. MISTER: You used to be such a good liar. LOVE: You know how much I don’t care? MISTER: Are we having an odd reaction to jail? LOVE: Get over yourself. If it’s not for to long I like jail. MISTER: I should never have let you out of my sight. What on Earth have you been doing to yourself? LOVE: None of your business. Pause. LOVE: What was that code name you were using for him – Judas – MISTER: Joe is fine.


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LOVE: Joe. God, Joe. Where do I even start with Joe? MISTER: Stop thinking about him. You’re torturing yourself. His betrayal LOVE: Oh hell the betrayal. You know, it’s crazy, I don’t care about the betrayal. (softer) I’m just going to miss seeing him. I’m going to miss him so much. MISTER: Say that again. LOVE: What? MISTER: ‘I’m going to miss him so much’ with that funny little quaver. LOVE: (lying) I haven’t the faintest idea what you are talking about. MISTER: ‘Faintest?’ not ‘small,’ not ‘none’ not ‘shove off’ or ‘shut up,’ you haven’t he faintest idea what I’m talking about do you? Blast. LOVE: Look. I was justMISTER: You were good. You were so good. LOVE: What the hell’s that supposed to mean? MISTER: You went and fell in love. LOVE: I didn’t say that. MISTER: You don’t fool me. LOVE: So you’re psychic now? MISTER: Your grammar and vocabulary is much better when you’re lying than when you’re telling the truth. I’ve told you this before. You need to work on it. LOVE: I lie better than I speak? Why’s that, huh? I’m just being like you - and who are you to talk? You’re always flirting with the marks; they always fall in love with you. MISTER: (cruel) You’re an idiot. A lowborn peabrained idiot who let a two-bit hack with a pretty face take everything from her.


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LOVE: You MISTER: Joe was nothing. He hadn’t an original idea in his head – why else do you think I tolerated him? He did exactly what I told him to do. But you – you my dear. LOVE: (hurt)Yeah? Not an idea in his head? So, let me get this straight, you told him to go betray us, right? MISTER: That was the mark’s doing. He listens to her now. LOVE: You made a mistake. Seems like we all make mistakes, right? MISTER: Mistakes we can fix. LOVE: But – MISTER: Shut up. When you are in love the world is out of proportion. You’re unfocused and you’re helpless, you’re obsessed and how do you expect to convince the mark there’s a Vermeer in the hands of a corrupt customs agent if you can’t see straight? This is so basic, it’s… LOVE: It’s my fault. MISTER: Glad we’re catching on. LOVE: I wasn’t good – oh, I’m so ugly. MISTER: You know you’re beautiful. Don’t be an idiot. LOVE: That’s me. Gorgeous and an idiot. Bimbo. MISTER: Well, remember how you feel right now, and don’tLove starts to cry MISTER: Don’t disappoint me again. Love starts sobbing. MISTER: My god, are you crying? LOVE: No. MISTER: Liar. LOVE: It’s my dress – rustling.


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MISTER: (much softer than before) Liar. Love keeps crying. MISTER: Oh, God no, stop, my dear, please stop. I’m sorry. You’ll be all right. It will be all right. I will make it all right. Please – come on – you – you never cry. Mister is scrabbling at the wall MISTER: Let me out! You have got to let me out. Can’t you see she’s - Hey, you – guard – I’ve got to – dammit, wake up. Love, my love, please, don’t be this way. LOVE: Since you picked me up I’ve only done what you wanted, been whatever the hell you wanted me to be– MISTER: You know that’s not true. LOVE: This back with me being a bad liar again? Well, I’m sorry I damn lost my head – but I dunno. You’ve been here a while – in this business I mean. I kinda thought maybe you’d understand. (Beat) I didn’t have to tell you about him. I could have made up some story about my guilt or something. MISTER: You couldn’t have fooled me that easily. LOVE: I could have tried. I could have had a right proper go at it. Mister laughs LOVE: That wasn’t supposed to be funny. MISTER: Oh, I know. It – it wasn’t that. LOVE: Then what? MISTER: I was only thinking – if you had been the one who defected – and I have to admit, it was more likely to be you, as you are that much smarter, I’d be just as devastated as you are now. LOVE: (slowly) Okay, Mister, is this a proposal, a proposition, or are you asking me to whatever the British call Prom? MISTER: Excuse me? LOVE: (mimicking his accent) Pardon?


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MISTER: Joe can defect to his heart’s content. He’s the robot, the trained ape, you’re – LOVE: This better be a compliment. MISTER: You’re special. LOVE: Great. I’m back in grade school. That’s not a compliment, but you’re sweet. Mister laughs. LOVE: You giggled – dammit, you giggled. What did you have to drink at that party? MISTER: My usual. LOVE: I’m going to spike your damn ginger ale one of these days. MISTER: I await it with pleasure. LOVE: That’s another one of your – never mind. MISTER: And so love, I’ll ask you, as my investment, as my – partner – how are you this evening? LOVE: Very well, thank you. MISTER: Truth. LOVE: You’re right. Joe’s a bastard. But you know, I’ll be okay, time, keep busy… MISTER: The cure to everything is saltwater – sweat, tears, and the sea. LOVE: Shakespeare? MISTER: No. LOVE: He didn’t think I was ugly, did he? MISTER: He’d be an idiot if he did. LOVE: So… where to next? We have got cash, right; we don’t have to do five million pigeon drops or whatever? MISTER: Don’t worry your pretty head about that. LOVE: Be that way.


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MISTER: Where would you like to go, love? LOVE: Geez, mister… you’ve never asked that me before. MISTER: I’m an idiot. Forgive me. LOVE: How about Paris? MISTER: You don’t speak French. LOVE: Got to keep busy. Anyway, don’t you speak French? MISTER: Schoolboy French. LOVE: I like it when you speak French. MISTER: Paris then. We should probably leave off the corrupt customs play, just for a bit. LOVE: We’d need a third man to do that one. MISTER: Right now, I’d rather it was just us. LOVE: We could sell real estate. MISTER: Nonexistent real estate? I like it. I say we go to the Louvre and target the people who spend less than five minutes looking at the Leonardos. LOVE: Wait mister…. You’re not just saying that right? Just to make me feel better? MISTER: What do you mean? LOVE: Who’s going to bail us out in the morning? MISTER: I have friends. LOVE: So long as you’re sure. MISTER: (overly dramatic) Anything else I can do to further prove myself to you? LOVE: I’m…okay. (Beat) I am. But you know what would be fun? MISTER: More fun than preying on hapless tourists? LOVE: I’d … no, it’s silly.


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MISTER: I like silly as much as the next bloke. LOVE: Like, I know you say the best revenge is living well – that’s not Shakespeare is it? MISTER: Afraid not. LOVE: Well, I still think it would be a lot of fun to even out the record a little between me and Joe. MISTER: Love – LOVE: Oh, come on! Dig up some dirty secrets, send some interesting photos to his girlfriend? Pretty please? It’ll be fun. MISTER: That’s my girl. Now, why don’t you go to sleep, we’ve got lots to do in the morning.

College Applications: A Sonnet Whatever do they think I’m going to do? It’s an advantage to be disabled, They’ve spun it round for us - the rules are new, These places better be as good as fabled, I’ll write about life in five hundred words, I’ll get a number to tell what I’ve learned, To busy to hear the stinking blue birds, I’m sure refused applications are burned, Probably they’ve got effigies as well, Paper can’t be why I’m so demeaned, There’s a minor circle in Dante’s hell, For he who wrote the SAT – the fiend! Now the letters don’t stand for anything, It’s probably a conspiracy ring.


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Katie Perez

Hello. My name is Katie Perez and I am currently an inexperienced freshman, age fifteen. I’m from many places in Southern California and I’ve never been on an airplane. I’d say that I’m a poet since I rarely write anything else. My favorite pastimes are being lazy and drinking Diet Coke while brainstorming ideas for co-writing psychological thriller movies ..with my fellow writers.


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Traffic “Wouldn’t you rather blend in with nature instead of traffic?” –National Geographic Magazine Making invisible footsteps I walked for miles until recognition was impossible and the red muscles under my skin burned when I told them to keep going. Dirt clinging to the insides of my pores I became my surroundings and breathed what it breathed, saw that it saw felt what it felt. Greens grabbing at my own limbs changing at the delicacy of a touch I inhaled the serenity offered to me let it penetrate peacefully through every bone. Tiptoeing across dirt and soil I softly leapt from treeshadow to moonshadow the swirls of my thumbprints leaving sweat stamps on barks and stems, letting the bees know I’ve been here. Wrapped in the warmth of the silence of the pounding noise of what should be I was led to more and more brown the vibrancy behind, struggling to catch up. Like the child who played in the lake I swam though the brush to part nature’s curtains And my eyes focused themselves upon A view that transformed into a sight No longer could I feel them gripping gently keeping me safe in my own arms. The warmth slid off my bare arms like the snakes who hid in crevices further away from here. Familiarity was a forgotten term as I came upon the sight that I’d seen too many times before. Yellow dotted lines on a slab of black ground I became cold and could no longer blend.


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the dynamics of what we used to be and maybe still are you scurried and ran and told me you didn’t have time you told me we didn’t have time to play with dolls anymore any dolls left over under my bed were left dusty and dried dusty and dried like the games we used to play together together on a swing set in the middle of winter while snow fell snow fell in large clumps from the trees when it was dry enough for the tire swing tire swings that were covered in spiders and bugs spiders and bugs were something i was never afraid of afraid of being rejected by the others you left me to rot to rot like the pumpkins we carved for halloween one year one year i moved to a mountain and joined a theater class theater classes will always be something you and i can laugh about laughing about our old habits between three thousand miles three thousand miles is a distance you knew id never travel to see you seeing you again would be like the happiness books speak of books speak of rosemary remedies for rapid hair growth hair growth after a night of herbs and boiling water boiling water that burned your fingers when we made macaroni macaroni that we always fed to your dog because we hated when she licked our toes our toes were scratched and dirty because we never wore shoes outside shoes outside the front door we had to get home i ran you scurried you scurried and ran and told me you didnt have time

An Hour in a Photo Booth Aroma Therapy The scent of grass that reddened your skin You were always one for the outdoors


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Firewood smoke and a night above smiles Blues It was the color and not the music that time Unlike the other when we glued together that melody Then stored it in our baby box for later Creative There is a vague memory nestled between a fiction in my brain Preschool and a purple velvet dress, paper mache Branching off into a realization of who I was – am now Double Bass We could both agree that even the larger things Existing in our world of nouns Are the most absolute and delicate Expectancy I could always picture her heightening the standards far above me Out of sight. And over the years I kept seeming to grow In height, mind and spirit, eventually being able to reach Feature It’s always baffling how much cramming can be done Each day the thing obtains something new, becoming more But is more necessary when we already have simple? Gravity You and I are bound by invisible space dust Spilled from God’s wine glass onto a ball of green and blue play dough Americans had stolen the mop and hidden it in the mountains Haze Do you remember the time we hiked that hill to see the city lights? All we saw was a yellow glow behind a clouded haze From then on, you were sure that the sun came from the city Interweave One summer ago, I left one place for another Now I’ve found myself trying to duct tape the bits together


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Since my sewing needle couldn’t penetrate the flesh of either one Jazz Who needs super heroes when we have jazz musicians? Joy and the googolplex of music, all wrapped in brass and string and key Handed to anyone who has ears for the conversation Kaleidoscope Next Tuesday morning I’ll awaken from a harsh sleep with new eyes For the new colors and new texture; a blind woman of insight Picking the sweetest fruit from the ugliest trees Letter Julia used to love licking letters Anna used to run to the mailbox to toss it in Katharine watched as the twins grew into young ladies Mistletoe A Christmas time excuse for forced affection My first kiss in the eye of a plant And no one knows that mistletoe is actually a mold Neurotic Call one crazy for harm, noise, twitching of the mind Lashing out or sealing it in plastic wrap, being or becoming insane Or, see one as a scientist of thought Oversimplify Cause and effect iis to challenge and overcome As river and ocean is to thought and realization Mind plus watchfulness is greater than text plus ignorance Paleontology We knew that when my dear friend fingered her collarbone She would turn pen and paper to amethyst and turquoise, and when she dies I’ll dig up that bone, hoping for brilliance equivalent to hers Quilted The sensation of warmth might look like poetry in a teacup Wrapped in quilted pieces if love and joy and heir Sipping the earths greatest liquid artwork


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Rhythm When Julia came home from the teashop one day She told us a man had been tapping his toe to a beat she couldn’t hear She said she saw a radiating happiness with each tap Support As humans, we’ve become reliant of the sun and moon as separates As gods, we’d become reliant of the sun and moon as wholes As beings, we’d just become the sun and the moon Topless He had always been bothered by my unread bookshelf He said that having books without reading them Was like collecting Coca Cola bottles without the caps Unfaithful Trust became a battle wound to show off Promises made became scabbing cuts Then one day, I went to a tattoo parlor to cover up the scars Victimize When the men are shouting and the bullets are flying Remember that the bomb shelter cannot protect you When you’re at a civil war with yourself Wander Think about movies, books, anything – someone always strays the path Distracted from conformity in whatever sense It never ends badly, and when it does, they’re really only half way there Xerox Your greatest fear shouldn’t have been spiders, needles, Or the big and scary monsters under your bed But the Xerox machine and paperwork inside an office Yoga Stretching out for Zen Harmony – a single breath Importance is self Zipper The absolutely meaningless things That we know of today Only come in handy when it’s cold outside


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Lida Sobkova

Lida was born and raised in the beautiful city of Prague. One day she got bored and ended up on the top of a mountain in California. She loves pirates, old people, and bad 90’s music. You can usually detect her by overalls of any length, size or color. Next year she is going back home to Prague with plans of eating tons of dumplings.


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Send Me Off the Plank I wish I could be an old man living on a houseboat in Lake District I wish I could be an old man smoking pipe just occasionally Then I would be fishing trout because there is no trout in lakes During the summer lots of dinghies would appear and in little dinghies little kids wanting the old pirate to be their friend I wish I could be a moody old man hectoring every single one of them Only those sailors with great patience and the courage to make me walk the plank would become my friends I wish I could be an old man drinking ginger beer with those skilled pirates I wish I could be an old man serving them tea when ice covers the lake

Country Houses of England In a distant country I got lost while peregrinating where dirt roads assume old age - sad and empty. (hah, they tricked you) I. Who? Them Tiles with animal outlines. A bathtub where two people could comfortably sit, think, dream, chat. A  



Parallax 2009

black shower curtain. A black toilet seat cover. Slowly blinding mirror. A French window to the garden full of daisies. A missing door knob. Animals wearing black. A bathtub too big for just one person. A mourning shower curtain. A mourning toilet seat cover. Not so old, but yet blinding mirror. A French window for a widow. A missing piece of equipment, needed but still missing. II. Why? For different reasons Shut window shutters. Red bricks. Worn out by the rain. Shut. Maybe there is a drama behind. The woman crying. The man screaming. The Grandma laughing. Laugh of a devil. The shutters were never open. Shut. Maybe they left. The house, left alone long time ago. Left alone for a better one. For one made out of plastic. The shutters may stay shut. Shut. Maybe it is a country house. A country house for summer, Easter and Harvest Holiday. They left. They will return for Harvest Holiday. The shutters will open soon. Shut. Maybe she has a migraine. He loves her. He shut the shutters. They are in the darkness. They are in the silence. He loves her. The shutters will open in a few days. III. What? Houses Hallway. Stripy wallpaper. Old photos, old plates on the wall. Overcoats and boots. It rains a lot there. The door is open. It’s sunny. Muddy prints on the tiles. Puppy. Muddy prints on the door. Kids. It’s sunny outside. It rains a lot usually. They got the puppy just yesterday. They play. They laugh. It’s sunny outside. IV. When? It happens all the time


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Floral pattern. Silhouettes - one is old, one is younger. Not young but younger, in black and white. In a cozy little house. Silhouettes. Mother and grandmother, sitting on daughter’s mantelshelf. The only thing she took when running away. When running away to marry that boy. A circus boy. A gipsy. To marry him. And have lots of babies. A gipsy. He moved. Babies grew up. Half-gipsy, halfWASP. She stayed, always. Mother and grandmother stayed too. V. Where? In England They may have tricked me.

An Iron Jacket of Habit I always was the baby that destroyed the marriage. You have to eat it all or the left corner monster will eat your fingers one by one. So I chew and chew until the very last crumb is gone. He disappeared and it oddly hurt at first. Don’t cry the scar will be gone before you get married. One day I looked at his baby pictures and recognized all three uncles but not him. Don’t laugh like that. I can see your gums, you’ll ruin the picture. Sweating in the summer with the blanket up to my chin Imagine if we were in Antarctica, always keep your blanket on. I count how many habits he planted in, four but probably many more.


Parallax 2009

Balloon Girl On the platform number five, where kisses are given fast and while passing because the trains are just never late, she gives out balloons. Smiling again and again, she moves her hair to the other side and sends an air kiss to some unknown person. She smiles for the entire world and gives out balloons. Red ones to lovers, green ones to elders, children can choose whichever. Later she loses the smile and drops the red balloon, the one she wanted to keep. It runs on roads and pathways, it runs away from her.

Behind the River Thunders Rain sizzled on tin roofs like when dry grass is burning dripping wet steeple chimed six while rain rataplanned on the roofs I dance alone but with the rain I just want the silent grass to drizzle on the roofs I quietly sing in the beat of the rain random thoughts about Dry Town behind the river Under the pillow I have blues about the rain smelling like grass blues about the dream that outside lightly drizzles



Parallax 2009

Lilacs and Other L Words Fry the diced onions that always smell good like her – people never ceased to pray and hope, that they would one day look like her. A handsome, young man comes in the elevator, she is for guys like poop is for flies. Once the juices are coming out of the meat he offers his orange and with a foreign accent asks Come sta? She refuses, naturally, she does not need him. He shrugs his shoulders and puts the entire orange in his mouth. Then add the pork, your freedom of religion, conscience, language, education and culture is guaranteed. Unless it differs from hers. He is three times champion in figure skating, she is three times world champion in being always only half tender. Serve her with potato dumplings.

On Religion of the Birds Two pigeons were in my way. Actually, they were not. I ran to scare them anyway. When I ran I lost my white sweater. Yes I was still wearing white sweaters and blue dresses. I think I had braids that day too. Well, I lost it and a woman – a witch, yelled at me. Don’t get me wrong, I love old people. But she was mean She said that losing the sweater is a punishment from Jesus for scaring away those pigeons. That was a long time ago,


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It was in third grade. maybe. Maybe I wasn’t wearing blue dresses in third grade, if ever. Maybe I was in pants. I might have braids. I still wear braids sometimes they make me look cuter. Anyway, I saw those pigeons today, two of them I ran to scare them and I slip on their poop. Now my butt bones hurt and all I can think about is how much does Jesus love pigeons.


Parallax 2009

Sahara Spain

Sahara Sunday Spain has been writing since she was five years old. She published various poems and such when she was young and she hopes in the future to write musicals, novels, attend at least one Lord of the Rings convention, eat something unpronounceable, and have a cat named Zucchini.



Parallax 2009

Small Child Behind the Fence You on the other side of the wrong fence the cold fence the hungry fence; it's hungry for separation and it consumes distance well it vacuums relations well it divides I wont rely on my beauty to break through but the pleading in my eyes to temp you to ensnare you to guilt trip your trepidation; you will pull me by my cherub hands into your comfort into your stillness into the adoption papers who may make me your child Elephants at my ears hanging in golden orbs symbolize I was once smiled to once called to once brought to be made beautiful; do not mistake it for a manipulation a deception a family pushing me towards you for your money Take me as liquid through chain-link I will reform as soon as my nose is buried in the heart's rhythm the euphoria the sated scent of your solace gone; you are mine now mine until forever until jealous graves rip me from you but they are not mine any longer; they are the earth's

The Canopy Winter divinicates my veins the way madness And sanity have fought For years; and I wait for it to quell. I wait for it to fade. I wade in the Brush and let the tendrils of light awaken My skin, my eyes, My face; and in looking up past the canopy Of silver and sodden leaves the


Parallax 2009

Callow and convivial tops laden with Shards of frost. Branches and snow; silver and gold.

Who Are You I am a wicker hat painted white, my skin was sprayed from the confines of tin and on the breath of violent air that released my color, to hide the wood beneath I am completed by an array of seasonal flowers who join my travels as if a tour ship atop your head I am an office chair lonely until sat upon, masochistic in my need to be used and used and used until you leave your financial records open on your desktop I am your poltergeist personalizes and perfected at ghouls-r-us so that my body resembles yours I mimic you the way infants imprint and cats copy and it was I who caused your unease around bathrooms as a child I am a stranger walking through throngs of thoughtless civilians people who no me by what expression the nanny folded first out of the laundry escaping visual range when the next bright outfit passes the observe

Inflation 'Five dollars for your soul' But no money was buried in his pockets And on the banks of Styx only the murdered made it to Whimsical mist Or else elisia Days hung like sugared frogs


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Sweetened realizations They hung with weary spirit and humid air Many passed on Many clung to Chevrons robes and bored holes in the soulless mass of his chest They boar holes into what hope they had of being unearthed 'Five dollars for your soul'



Parallax 2009

Jake Tapleshay

Jake Russell Tapleshay is a senior and has been a part of the Creative Writing Department at Idyllwild Arts Academy for two years. This is his third appearance in Parallax, he has been published in CSUSB’s Literary Review Tesserae. He will be published in Campbell Hall’s Literary Magazine Surrounded this May. He enjoys tennis, scarves, peacocks and other male animals. Jake will be attending NYU in the Fall of 2009 at Tisch School of Performing Arts for Dramatic Writing.


Parallax 2009

An October moon sets in Hemet. Below the mountain and above the mist, it hangs on one tack like the posters on your wall. No, not steak tonight, pot-pies. Wispy hands cup the street lamps, which glow like candy corn. glide back into their rainy mass of precipitation; fragile apparitions waiting for dad to feed them. Clouds can engulf a small mountain town as easily as a child eats his Co-Co-Puffs for dinner. Throw it in the microwave. The moon would cut you if it swung lower; it’s silver florescent light rusted as it slides behind the hills of Anza. We do not trick here, we treat and stay indoors, making the moon more of a spectacle. Come, sit on Dad’s lap and play horsey. It swings toward you, only for you and if it were to stab your throat you would accept it as a lunar exhibition. When we are together we feed off each other’s thoughts, like candy into sacks. Mommy needs some time to her self. When we are apart we nurture our own sweets and accept the short sticked pop-sickle. It is a threatening light, orange like the sun setting, but unchanging like the stars white


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and without it we must submit to black. Black without orange is not costumes and pumpkins, it is calle lilies… it is ghost hands.

Nana My Nana gave me twenty dollars for my fifteenth birthday. She slid it across the table, her ninety-year-old hand speckled with moles. She was the matriarch of a family with a long history of skin cancer. She made me promise not to tell the other kids. In her mind I was still the boy who spent the night at her ranch…with my cousins, but I had new best friends. Nana wore her best Muumuu when my mother, sister and I drove out to visit her. We’d play Hearts on Tuesdays. We drank diet coke and ate Werthers butterscotch around her little table. She laid out placemats, napkins and forks every time we came just in case we wanted to eat. Just incase we decided to bring tacos. She rolled her oxygen tank around the little trailer, her Dalmatian (Patches) licking her fingers as she went as if to guide her along the way. The dog nurse who stayed with Nana when the rest of the family was busy living their own lives. Nana would sit opposite the window, opposite me, and hold her cards waiting for us to finish talking and take our turn. She had impeccable hearing for her age, but could never understand what we were talking about anyway. When she died, distant relatives surrounded my Nana, her granddaughter from Colorado and a few cousins from Montana. My grandfather sat on the couch across from her and sipped at his sugarless iced tea. I stood in the corner of that crowded living room late on a Wednesday afternoon, skipping school, waiting for her to go. It was a waiting game. She retained the strong appearance of her former self. The farmer’s wife who divorced the farmer and kept the family he gave her. She held kindness in her cheeks and nostalgia in her hands, which shook from the memories they held. She came up to my hips, but could bring me to the floor with one stern look. She had short, curly, silver hair that bounced atop her little head like suds on a dish and in the end she never lost it. My mother wasn’t talking to the family. She hadn’t


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since her own divorce. So she wouldn’t stay at Nana’s for long, not while they were present. She’d slip in at dusk, when the family was out eating dinner, and sit with my grandfather. They’d talk about gardening or the education system. Everything else seemed disrespectful. Patches sat licking Nana’s fingers and I stood in the Kitchen. I couldn’t bring myself to get close to her catheter. I listened to my oldest living relatives breathe, loud and even, fingering the twenty in my pocket and convincing myself it was okay not to hold her hand.

Family Portrait at Our Cabin I The Half Grown Boy (Air) Their names give them family, someone to herd them into frame. But, faces are adrift— captured on film and falling into piles of ants who eat away at identity and the mini sweat suit. Children have lost faces. A frame with eyes and cheeks and teeth, which separate their lips like little girls peering through curtains to see the world. A Smile. The role when taking a photograph is the “cheese” and the flash, a game for the Id. That man has no face. Triangle eyes like Jack, whose brain is the flame on the wick, flighty, glows through the mouth; his orange husk lips. He looms over Child 1 and Child Q— who grabs his knee, afraid of me and my camera. Q’s blue eyes prick me as if he knows


Parallax 2009

that I am only here to take him. II My Father is Okay in Plastic White Chairs (Earth) They should know that someday I will be cracked down the middle. Half of me buried in sand, half hanging from a black, burnt tree trunk when they leave. He is heavy. That pumpkin in front of his face is heavy, his boys hand is heavy, sticky, holding onto him as if I will break and break him into a million grains of sand. I am going to break his girl. Her purple shirt and shorts into lilacs around me. When I crack, her petals will collect me and hold me when they leave. III Static Sister (Fire) Today I drove up that dusty mountain road for the millionth time. The yucca and ocotillo snatch at my arid, airy wake and hold the oxygen/hydrogen in their husks. The road to our cabin is parched, is thirsty. The dust flies up behind me like brown clouds, racing to disappear. This is the first time I’ve driven here alone. Chairs are hanging from the roof, from the trees and from the basketball hoop, tipping like Pisa.


Parallax 2009

The porch is lose, its planks worm eaten. It breaks underneath me. The door only has one key. But, it will not make unlocking easy. The yellow one goes in, but does not turn, the red turns. Our cabin is empty, it is moldy. It is the only home I’ve known. The only consistent acre of land that I can say I’ve lived on forever. I lived on for seven years. The bed, held up by cinder blocks, is dry. Dust flies up when I sit, flickers in the sunlight like little bubbles floating up in the sea. When I nap here I know I will leave my body behind. That little girl will lead me to her shed and let me pet the litter of kittens, which never grow up in our mind. IV Mother (Air Again) I cannot say that I was ever happy reading my days away in that hammock under our pinyon. But he was Spoon. Not in attitude or appearance— in name. She was something I did not expect. Spoon often played with ants in the afternoons, while I graded papers. He’d eat ice cream—all over his face; he wore beans on his head he would not sleep. She walked to her father’s shed when the moon was full.


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Tarantulas would come up from their burrows in the hard sand around her feet like millions of tiny sprinkler heads in the white light. Their legs were brown like Cattails; their bodies like orange puffballs scurrying in circles toward the mountains. She would tie her brother to her pajamas and walk down the stairs at midnight. She would not sleep. We ate at sundown in our tiny breakfast nook and tried not to spill our milk. There was no room for failure in that Little House.



Parallax 2009

Khalid Wardag

I am Khalid Wardag. I am from Afghanistan. When I was thirteen-yearsold, I started a bank called “Children’s Development Bank” and a newspaper called “Voice of Children” for Afghan street working children. I have been a student and a Creative Writer at Idyllwild Arts Academy for two years. I am a junior.


Parallax 2009

Afghanistan Afghanistan is my first and sole mother. The mother who raised me in her warm arms, the mother who sacrificed herself just to facilitate food for me. The mother who never knew what peace means, peace is name of a bird? Peace is an edible thing, or what? She stayed hungry and thirsty like an African, but provided me with white Afghani rice and Naan. She stayed under the fiery sun, and gave me shade with her old, black colored Hijab, full of holes. She kept me safe even though her body was demolished by the Russian, English and American bombs. Her muddy, unclean, bloody rivers were my milk, her clean, soft, fresh, and dark gray soil was my food. She let me frolic in the floods of water in her eyes. Her screams, crying, and shouting of her pain were my music. Our nights were made as bright as electricity by the American deadly rockets.

Four Hours In Hell How close was the bomb blast? Did you get a call from your dad? How is he doing, is your family fine? No, my friend, I didn’t receive a call. I spent four hours in hell believing I lost my family, the family, which means Allah to me, is gone as water runs in the Chak River, and never comes back. I lost them, my Allah was dead. I am like a dry leaf on the corner of


Parallax 2009

Temecula and the wind is blowing me everywhere on the streets of Idyllwild. My vision is lost and it’s black. I am remembering all my family has told me, I am remembering them as a Muslim remembers the holy Quran. Top to bottom, left to right, all the faces and smiles of my family-I am trapped by these pictures of my family like an American soldier is trapped by Al-Qaeda. The forty-three-year-old image of my mother is in front of my eyes, her innocent features and few wrinkles on both sides of her face, to the corners of her eyes, with her pure love, talking to me as if she is alive standing in front of me. Come to my arms, my son, When you come to my arms, my weak heart heals, Don’t agonize about me, I am fine. You will be my son for the next life too. The fifty-year-old image of my father is in front of my eyes, with big, mixed of white and black beard and mustache, some visible wrinkles like parallel lines in geometry on both sides of his face, forehead, to the corners of his eyes, rattling with me and he is breathing as if he just came from a war in Afghanistan. Don’t worry son, be strong, I am with you all the time like there is sky and earth on this planet, so what if I am dead, Study hard and make me proud even though I am dead, You will be my son for next life too. The twenty-four-year-old image of my sister is in front of my eyes, wearing a Punjabi suit, with long hair like cotton, prattling with me as we are walking to the super market in 3rd Mekroryan. Khalid, take off your clothes, they are dirty, let me wash them for you. Wear clean clothes all the time, You will be my brother for next life too. The twenty-one-year-old image of my second sister is in front of my eyes,


Parallax 2009

wearing long a Punjabi suit like another simple Afghan girl, with her long and curly hair like mine, a beautiful face as moon. babbling with me as if we are in my muddy house in Kabul drinking black tea. Khalid, you should study hard. Did you eat anything today? I saved your favorite food, Werejee and Qorma for you, Go and eat it before it gets cold, You will be my brother for next life too. The twenty-year-old image of my older brother is in front of me, with his short hair like mine, wearing white and long Khite Aw Partoug, blathering with me as if we are in Kabul Restaurant, his favorite restaurant eating dinner. Khalid, you should join a soccer club and come to gym with me and be strong. If you need money, ask me ok? You are my only brother and you will be my brother for next life too. The nine-year-old image of my younger sister is in front of me, with her short hair like a boy’s, wearing pink colored clothes holding a 0.9 drawing pencil and a picture of a parrot that says “We want peace”. I don’t want to die, I want to live and be a doctor in the future and serve my people. The girl who was asking me for M&Ms is now asking me to go and save her from war.

Recipe For Brotherhood Release five hundred birds from a box to the sky and let them be free. Touch the Hindu Kush White Mountain and the Everest Mountain and you will know strength. Build the fire of love under the stove. Feel the wind carry you. Kiss the wheat colored hands over and over. Touch the cotton hair.


Parallax 2009

See the snow-colored personality. Eat the sugar. See the red wine-colored heart. Smell the Jasmine flower in the house of Afghan pride. The ingredients of my brother are, 500 kg sugar with 200 kg chocolate and 300 kg honey. He is ice for freezer, cream for cake, water for lake, and leaf for tree.



Parallax 2009

Brit Wigintton

Brit Wigintton is a native Southern Californian who loves experimental music of the indie rock pursuasion, Donnie Darko, and blue minty gum. She enjoys making mix CDs, taking photos, going to concerts, and being unfailingly obsessed with Holden Caulfield. “But what’s so simple in the moonlight by the morning never is.”


Parallax 2009

Sap Nathan’s replacement wore yellow shirts. He told me that it was because we were in California and that everyone should wear yellow. After that, my favorite color was always yellow—it still is. He always smiled, wore Spongebob printed novelty socks, and loved movies that I found stupid like Joe Dirt. He ate barbeque but had never smelled the sweet bark of the trees that lined the main drive that ran through camp. He didn’t know Nathan, he could not have ever known Nathan, so Nathan had never showed him how to pause while walking, to go to a tree, and put your nose to its rough skin. I wanted to show him but I didn’t. I gave him a bracelet I made and tied it to his tanned wrist while the rumbles of Dungeons and Dragons buzzed behind us. It was striped with green, red, and purple. That summer, I dreaded the day we would say bye and he’d go back to Georgia to study up to be a science teacher, maybe, he told me. I gave him the heart I had grown and nurtured inside my chest for thirteen years. He put it in his back pocket. Then he lost it. I never forgave him. Nathan’s replacement was named Ben. He wore his helmet always, just like Nathan had always told us to, although his was a shiny blue color, not silver like his predecessor’s. Ben would stuff my head into a white one whenever we went riding. He would laugh at my disgruntled expression and click the plastic clasp shut over my chin, careful not to pinch the skin there. On the last ride, the pedal dug into the back of my calf. Now I have scars from that, perfectly parallel dark brown lines permanently on my skin reminding me of my last time on a bike. I never have wanted to go one one again. Ben, although replacing Nathan, was once just a smudge on the photo of my time that summer, not really noticeable unless you held it a certain way in the light. I didn’t know then that if I invited him to dinner my life would change, would turn. I didn’t know my childhood would vanish more and more with each sunset of those two weeks we spent together. He wasn’t such a smudge. More like a figure in the background you don’t pay that much attention to because you’re too distracted by the people in the center. I became more enveloped to the background until it was my foreground, the extreme close up, flooding my entire vision. We met on a bench. I still sit there each year, hugging my knees to my chest, and remembering his initial smile—a match that ignited whatever it was inside me. It still hasn’t blow out. Around me were the


Parallax 2009

usual greetings that started each summer: exchanging hugs and shrieks for each other saying how much we missed them. But this year was different. I knew Nathan wasn’t there. All the sweetshop-smelling trees, the ones Nathan had showed me, had last their appeal. I no longer had the urge to press my nose to the bark anymore—I didn’t want the horrible image to haze over my eyes, I didn’t want to see him screaming. I lined up before the first dinner of the year with everyone else. Most of the kids didn’t even know he was missing because they had never met Nathan. Those kids smiled; I tried to. To them, the butterscotch scent was new. They marveled at it. I passed them by. I saw their faces when someone told them what had happened to Nathan, those that had his name carved into their memories. The ones that had shook hands with him the summer he was in our lives. Josh’s cheeks and eyelids crumpled when I told him. I could almost see the flickers of the past mountain bike rides glazing by his vision, the memory of Nathan in his tattered shorts. Man, that guy was so cool, he said, peeling the wrapper from his ice cream. The white foam dripped onto the toe of his shoe. It never occurred to us that someone we knew one year could be gone the next. It wouldn’t have been so bad if Nathan hadn’t made such an impression on me, if he hadn’t rode by my window every midday, pushing his blue bike, his silver dollar helmet swinging from his wrist, his sun-bleached hair falling around his sun-burnt face. He shared the simple pleasure of rainbow sprinkles or the Footloose dance with me. He would smile so much. He showed me the candy sap. No one understood why he had to be missing the following year. I’m not sure if everyone knew on the first day of the next year, but by the second they did. They saw someone new eating the barbeque and riding with the mountain biking class: Ben. They adjusted to the new instructor, just thinking that Nathan had decided not to return. I doubt they were told all of the truth. I watched their minds, nine and ten years young, learn to accept Ben and let the memory of Nathan slip away like a sweater they outgrew. That’s what we had to do every year, right? Learn to live among the new staff for that year, love them for two weeks, and then forget them, right? To have the memories we spent with them preserved but their faces blurred out, right? I was never that way. Caitlin, Mike, Adam, Nathan, Ben, Mickey, Lindsay, Miko, JJ. I never forgot. I never forget.


Parallax 2009

When Nathan was lying on the dirt that night, I think he saw the stars. No one could know that for sure, of course, but that’s what I think every time I stargaze. His teeth were tapping together, like that plastic card people stick between their bike spokes so it clicks with every revolution. A little white tag still hangs from the bike he used to use, it says his name on it, scrawled. It’s in a corner, inside the bike shack. I’m afraid to touch it. No one else rides it. No one expected Nathan to fall. His name floats to the near-surface of a conversation sometimes, attached to the lingering memory of his descent. Everyone avoids saying it aloud. I see their eyes flicker. I see their hands falter. I see their downward glances. They murmur a few words, regretting his decision to go off riding into that late night. To free climb the cliff face. Then they sip their tea. And remind me to take my ibuprofen for my swollen ankle. And ask me to pass the ketchup. It was so cold that night, I know. I know there wasn’t anything you could do. I don’t blame you. Can I have the scissors, please? Hi, Nate. I sometimes called Nathan something shorter than his name. Nate was my favorite thing to call him. Good morning, Nate. Nate, Have you ever been awake so late you feel limitless? He was small of face, never admitted his accomplishments. He always became shy when praised. He would wrap one hand around his opposite arm and look down. And shuffle in his sandals. I would tap him on the arm and say Never forget me, Nate. I didn’t know him for long before he asked me to follow him. I didn’t know where we were going, all that was in our path were some trees, and then the classroom building. He pressed his fingertip to the rough bark. His blonde hair lifted in the breeze. I could see the milky sap dried in a long string between the crevices in the wood. Smell, he said. And, then, I found that it was sweet. Ben and I held hands once, maybe twice, but only when we danced. He complained that his legs were too skinny and his that his nose was too big. He didn’t know how to dance to “Footloose”. He only watched me, smiling and nodding, but not learning. He took my giggled out marriage proposal and let it fall out the tear in his jean’s pocket along with my heart. But my fingers, pressed to his forearm with only a temporary tattoo of a hula dancer between us, made me love him. The exchange for time to swim in the pool for a time sprawled on the carpet talking until everyone left, made me love him. The way he danced to old seventies hits on the radio, sticking his tongue


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out, made me love him. The introduction of bands, Pinback, Brandtson. The raised eyebrows. His usage of the adjective “sweet”. We danced beneath the yellow construction paper cutout stars on our last night together. He held my hand then, see? I tried not to blush too much. I tried not to smile too much—I feared it would give me away. There was something in the way his jacket and pants didn’t match at all, in the way his hair was gelled badly to one side, in the way he was wearing a John Deere shirt under his suit. The way he held my hand— tightly. The way, with raised, inquisitive brows, he met my eye. The way, his arms around me, he said goodbye. With Nathan, I kept coming back. On the morning we all had to leave, I kept running back from my car to hug him one last time. I would pack my bag, then go back to hug him. Sit in the backseat, then go back to hug him. Close the car door, then get out again to hug him. Every time, he would embrace me once more and tell me that I didn’t have to cry because I would see him next year. I didn’t want to lose him for that long. Two years past, the pictures that were uncovered. The other man’s hand in Ben’s waistband. On his hips. On his lips. On his wrist. Head to chest. Arms around. Under a blanket. Posing for pictures, standing with heads together. I don’t care what the therapists say, I’ll never love again. I know it. I traded the grassy discussions of fruit punch that made your mouth turn to rubies for cross-country yearning. I traded a friendship with a rough-voiced bleached-head surfer-turned-mountain biker for an addiction that could only be fed through Ben’s laugh that sounded like a villain’s low-intellect sidekick. They both promised another year together. That I would see them both again. Neither of them kept up their promises. I forgave one of them. Nathan’s replacement was named Ben but he didn’t fill the gap that was scraped out when I received the call telling me that Nathan fell. Ben’s forerunner was named Nathan but he could have never poured in enough love to make my heart as swollen as it has become. The white framed photos show smiles, frozen in a slice of time when people had entered and exited. The sweat stains on the foam headband of his helmet mark expired life, a lasting scar of one who once perspired. The memories remind me that the bark, when you pause, nose pressed to it just as Nathan taught me, contains sap that smells sweet.


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he said he said let’s play and we did. so many times, nose to whiteboard. a man, slowly formed, slowly hung. just a game. he borrowed my knife. i told him i needed it to sharpen my art pencils. he didn’t believe me. he said that he needed it to make me a gift he saw that i had marked myself— a heart. on my arm. no one knew. he didn’t say. he just showed me. i didn’t know. he gave himself one too. he said now we match. he said now i understand. he said let’s play and we did. those lines, marked there on the white, formed the words i’d left enclosed in my chest. first word, one letter. second—four. third? three. fill in the blanks. he said do you want to take a walk and we did. stars like drops of water on a navy beach towel. no one around us— they had all gone. everyone had gone. it was only us—in the night— with our hearts. when we held hands they kissed.


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when we kissed they grew. when they grew he said i love you.


Parallax 2009

About the Creative Writing Department at Idyllwild Arts Academy For high school students interested in developing as writers, Idyllwild Arts offers a major in creative writing, which, combined with the academic program, prepares students for the pursuit of writing fields in college and beyond The overall program for writers at IAA provides a general study of literature, arts, and sciences, and fien arts; it also provides extracarricular experiences in public readings, publishing a literary magazine, and excursions to cultural and environmental experiences. A tiered curriculum provides introductory and advanced workshops, seminars, tutorials, a senior thesis, and a senior oral examination. Individual courses place an equal emphasis on the process of writing and on the study of literature by writers of many eras, continents, and sensibilites. Participants in the workshop develop a wide-ranging background in literature and the fine arts, varied historically, intellectually, geographically, and culturally. Classes are small, usually fewer than 10 students, with department enrollment no greater than 22 students. Creative writing teachers at IAA are a mixture of full and part time aculty wo only teach creative writing courses. Their work has been published by nationally known, professional journals and presses respected by other writers, editors, and publishers. Distinguished and  


Parallax 2009

emerging visiting writers teach master classes and provide feedback to students. In the 2008-2009 academic year, our guests included poets Brendan Constantine and David St. John, memoirist Judy Blunt, and short story writer/novelist Ann Cummins. Birchard Writing Center, the core classroom and workspace for creative writing students, is the oldest building on campus, a pleasant space with tall windows conducive to workshops and seminars, promoting an excellent atmosphere for concentration and focus. Students frequently travel to readings, workshops, festivals, and other special events away from campus, such as a recent production of Chekhov’s Three Sisters at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery. Students participate in litereary competitions appropriate to their level, including the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards, the Poetry Society of America Louis/Emily F. Bourne Poetry Award, and the Faulkner Society High School Short Story Award. Senior creative writing majors are always accepted into a variety of well-respected writing colleges and universities in America and beyond. Please direct questions about the program to Kim Henderson, Creative Writing Department Chair : Idyllwild Arts Academy, PO Box 38, Idyllwild, CA 92549 or


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