Incite Magazine – April 2017

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You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, ‘I lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.’ —Eleanor Roosevelt

The concept of next is always seemingly lingering in the back of our minds. It has a certain progressive character that constantly nudges us forward into the unknown, gently reminding us that change is an inevitable reality of our humanity. Next is innovation—the spark before the flame—that moment when someone thinks “why not?” and continues to create in the face of failure. More importantly, next silently defies the status quo, telling us to move beyond oppression, rejection, hardship and complacency, in search of better—of more. Volume 19 of Incite Magazine has been an entire journey in itself, inspired by the very idea of next. Interestingly, our themes have unexpectedly mirrored our personal growth as artists and emerging world citizens. We started off with Sonder, the made-up word describing the profound realization that everyone around us has a deeply unique and complex story. That very realization allowed us to discover the universal human theme of imperfection that exists in all of our stories—the ever-present human struggle. However, in accepting and embracing our flaws and seeing those parts of our stories as equally beautiful as the highlights, we ultimately learned that there is much more to us, our stories and our world. And with more in sight, we have become empowered to continue to push ourselves forward, foot after foot into what lies ahead of us, in search of that constant next in our lives. On that note, it seems that it is now time for us from Volume 19 to also move on towards our nexts. But before I close off this chapter of the Incite story, I’d like to give some thanks to countless individuals who have helped make this volume a reality. To the dedicated staff members and contributors who have given so much of their time to work on such an ambitious creative project, your passion for the magazine has made it a success. To the McMaster Students Union, McMaster Museum of Art and other campus groups who have supported us from day one, your generous support has allowed us to keep pursuing our passions proudly. Lastly, to you—McMaster student body—thanks for believing in us, listening to what we have to say and giving the Arts a chance. We can never forget that Incite was conceived in 1994 because a group of students at McMaster were discontent about the lack of creative arts representation on campus. I would argue that, today, this is still the case. In a university so saturated by STEM disciplines, the creative arts and humanities are often swept aside, under-supported, and ultimately deemed less important—a “second choice” for many. Incite is here to boldly proclaim that the Arts are absolutely vital in higher education, and that they should never be taken for granted in our world. Let this publication be a testament especially for those who have decided to put their practice first, who live and breathe by the images and writing they create in the face of adversity. Let us celebrate the creations of these artists and writers, who tirelessly and bravely paint the images of next every single day. And lastly, stay discontent—but never stop creating.


Jason Lau Editor-in-Chief 2016–17


CONTENTS 5 6 8 10 14 16 18 20 22 24 26 28 31 32 36 38 40 42 44 46 49 50 52 54 56 58 61 63 64 67 68 70 72 74 76

Editor Stories Next Time / Nicholas Schmid Then, There, Now / Osmond Jian A Recipe for Disaster / Sadiyah Jamal Tendrils / Hamid Yuksel Untitled / Kristen Gracie Breakfast / Michael Swanson Some Stories / Tashy Davidson Human / Annika Yardy The House at the End of the Street / Alexandra Marcaccio Uncertain / Michele Zaman Act 1: Run; Act 2: Face It / Nimra Khan Creating and Destroying Universes / Angela Dong The Story Book / Elina Filice Monsanto Cafe / Catherine Hu Uncertainty / Annecy Pang Canada Is the World / Jason Lau My Next Scene / Saarah Haque The Struggle is Real / Dina Hamed Next in Line, Please! / Sam Jackson Vegvísir / Sonia Leung Yellowtail / Rachel Tran The Reality of It / Nicole Vasarevic A Net of Nexts / Aranya Iyer A Question of Superheroes / Chukky Ibe Next Time / Ruvimbo Musiyiwa A Lifetime of Millennials / Takhliq Amir Morphine & Coffee / Aryan Ghaffarizadeh Next Episode Playing in 15 Seconds / Ryan Stevenson Mask of Dawn / Peter Youssef Purpose to Our Pain / Alex Marshall Over and Over Again / Emile Shen Clocktower Paradox/ Manveer Kalirai A Final Letter / Patricia Lora Incite Collaborative Piece / Incite Staff & Contributors




’ve got about the next sixteen months planned, then there’s just darkness and possibly some dragons. x




hat’s next for me is diving face first into the unknown. x



s someone with a multiplicity of varied interests and a disposition for indecision, the only thing I am certain of is that uncertainty is next for me. I know and hope, though, that inside that space of uncertainty, I will find new wisdom, more love, continuing exploration, and all those ups and downs that come along with being alive. Next will be a mix of new and old—new classes, same student lifestyle; new ventures, old friends. Next is a seemingly infinite, quickly-passing stretch of time that fills up every one of our lives. x

ext for me is the next assignment, the next test, the next thing on my list. I think about it every day, yet it never goes as planned. Next is what I tell myself I will do differently, each day a new beginning and new failures. So how can I trust in my plans for the next week? Month? Year? These are the questions everyone asks, the future that’s constantly pushing at me, begging me to decide, decide, decide already. Each time I make a decision it creates another and another, an endless exhausting maze. But after each turn I know more than I did before, and I’ve gone further than I had yesterday. So I’ll keep moving onwards, and maybe one day I’ll find I’ve finally figured out what I want to do with my life. x



hat’s next for me? Traveling, eating, lots of applications, some more art from my bedroom, missing Incite, and a whole lot more thinking about what’s next. x



ore uncertainty, more confusion— what’s new? Knowing ruins the fun, right? I still have more time to figure it out…at least I hope… x



lot can change in a week, let alone years. As much as we like to believe that our efforts today will produce the future we seek, the correlation often seems amiss. Heraclitus said it best, “change is the only constant.” Amidst change, it become a battle between the starling forces of enrichment by experience and obscurity by time. The last four years have felt both long but brief, memorable yet forgettable, mundane and exceptional. In truth, I’ll likely use contrasting adjectives to describe the next four years, and the next four after that. ART x by K AYLA DA SILVA NEXT


He was waiting. Waiting for a response or a reaction. But alas, nothing came out.


I stared down the table, eyes flicking over every face for just long enough to glean their intent, but not so long that they might guess mine. There were no pictures hanging on the walls as I discouraged any possible distractions in my conference room. The plain grey walls were sleek and unblemished, giving nothing for anyone to hide behind. Even the tabletop was clear, mahogany shined so that we could all see our reflections on the surface, and so that I could see the fear in their eyes. I cleared my throat, the sound shattering the silence that blanketed the room. “Good morning ladies and gentlemen.” Their gazes wavered at my greeting. I never encouraged pleasantries in my company unless something less than pleasant was about to happen. “You may be wondering why I called for this meeting,” I continued, eyes still roaming the room. Some were foolish enough to nod, others with a more tuned survival instinct only stared back. Yet, the expressions that piqued my interest most were the ones whose gazes dropped from mine. I smiled though calling it such was a stretch of the truth. It was closer to a baring of teeth. “A source has alerted me that there is discontent amongst my employees.” No one spoke. “Is this true?” Again, silence. “And by employees, I don’t mean some manufacturer in some distant factory. No, I mean powerful officials. Officials who I pay well for their services. Officials who I have trusted, some for 6


decades. Officials who, it has come to my attention, no longer feel I have their best interests in mind.” I chuckled mirthlessly. A couple attempted to laugh along but were quickly silenced by my glare. “Officials who just so happen to be in this very room,” I said to the quiet. Someone who seemed particular interested in ending his career opened his mouth but I cut her off. “So tell me,” I spread my hands, “Which of you share this belief?” The silence seemed to be growing heavier. “Come now, you think I am being rhetorical? No, I sincerely wish to know.” There was a small cough, near the end of the table. Once I saw to whom it belonged, I smiled, this time in genuine. His immaculate suit cost more than most would make in a month, and yet his ever-present poorly chosen tie ruined the outfit. I had put up with the look for years, so I consigned myself to a last few minutes. Lacing my fingers in my lap, I nodded expectantly. “Yes?” “I do not think your decisions are what they used to be,” he muttered. There was fear in his voice, but a hint of defiance as well that I did not like. “No?” I asked. Others at the table shifted in their seats at my tone. “No,” he ploughed on, “Your latest projects have cost us far more than their profit, projects I might add that never posed to be lucrative in the beginning.” I raised a finger. “Ah, but as you said yourself, they are my projects.” I stood up and those closest to me flinched backwards. “And this is my company, and I do not pay you for unwanted opinions.”


He seemed ready to speak further, but his chance was over. It was over long ago. “Pack your bags. You’re fired.” — Scanning the faces of those standing before me, I could smell fear. My audience chamber was an empty space, with laughter from better times echoing off the empty stonewalls like a playful child in an open field. Except that today, there was no laughter. There was no echo. There was no sound at all. I stared down from my dais and broke the silence. “Sirs, welcome.” I nodded and they all bowed. Lacing my hands in my lap, I continued, “Perhaps you are wondering why I summoned you.” No one spoke. A life at a palace court gave you an instinct on when to keep your mouth firmly closed. “Well, then,” I said “Allow me to cease your questioning. Rumours have reached me that certain subjects of mine are no longer pleased with my reign.” I shook my head in mock exasperation. “I can see how some peasants may see things as such, but I am not referring to serfs. I am referring to certain lords and ladies of my very own court.” The last few words were soaked in threat. Everyone was staring fixedly either at their shoes or the dust drifting down from the ceiling that arched overhead. I hardened my gaze. “Step forward, those of you that believe in this folly,” I commanded. Their shoes became even more interesting as nobody dared look up. “While my forgiving mood lasts, let this traitor come forth,” I said icily. “To fail to do so, will result in no mercy if discovered later.”

Near the side of the hall, someone dropped to one knee. “Well,” I murmured to myself when I saw who it was that could be so gullible. His red doublet was cut in the latest fashion yet he wore it with less grace than he had common sense. “Well?” I demanded. “Forgive me sire,” he grovelled, “It is only that some of your more recent rulings have been rather rash.” “Rash?” I boomed, “Do you have anything to back up these accusations?” I asked with curiosity that very few would say sounded genuine. The man bent even lower to the floor, yet his submissiveness never reached his voice. He spoke with a hardness that had no place in my court. But then neither did he. I smiled the way a predator might when it finally has its prey. “Merely that some of these recent decisions may not benefit your kingdom, sire.” His eyes shifted to the doors at the back of the hall. There were guards on either side of the frame, but he would never be so foolish as to run. I stood from my throne and the entire room recoiled. “Ah, but as you said yourself, this is my kingdom. And I shall rule as I see fit.” The others had shuffled away from the speaker as they sought to distance themselves from my wrath. He cut quite the pitiable figure, huddled on the floor surrounded by grey stone as unforgiving as myself. Unfortunately, I was not in a pitying mood. Still, he did not seem to want my pity as he began to speak and rise to his feet. Motioning my guards forward, I did not give him the chance. “Hang him.” x NEXT



Then, There, Now

Skylar slipped into the coffee shop shivering from the snowstorm outside. The crowd was small. He ordered a tall blonde and sat down in his favourite spot, next to the window that gave him a view of the whole city. At least, on a less snowy day, the city would be visible. Instead, the storm’s belligerence blocked his inspiration; these were no conditions to write. Skylar leaned back in his chair and stared at the ceiling, cycling through idea after idea. This routine was getting old. Waking up at six in the morning to write at a coffee shop was no longer bearing any fruit. He stared at his white, empty page, and back out at the window, which resembled the page. He wondered what the snowflakes thought, as they fell helplessly down to the Earth. He wondered if they wondered at all. Then, the door opened, and a girl wearing a purple jacket walked in shivering. His eyes darted toward her. There was an air of familiarity to this student. She took off her hat and brushed her hair aside, revealing her face. “It’s freezing outside eh?” Her soothing voice brought back memories of one of the lectures he was in. Skylar was in the wrong room, but was too shy to leave. The professor was lecturing about boulders and someone named Sisyphus. He didn’t really get it, but he vividly remembered her beautiful voice, when she asked about something relating to the personal life of Camus. Never did she look as beautiful as she did today. Skylar turned on his phone’s camera to take a hard look at himself. He looked absolutely terrible. He had not showered for a few days. He felt his tummy bulge out from his hedonistic feasts. He neglected his beard, and it was at an uncomfortable length. But still…a once in a life time opportunity presented itself: he could meet her. Get her number. And maybe, just maybe, he could get to know her a little better. But first impressions were very important, and he knew he was going to screw it up. His mind wandered as he stole glances at her. She seemed to be into Albert Camus. What would Camus do? >>





Cynthia always woke up first. She carefully squirmed out of bed, being careful not to wake up her boyfriend. She stared at him and smiled, running her fingers through his hair. She looked at his cute facial hair, grown from a few days of negligence, and thought back to the awkward encounter they first had at the coffee shop on top of the mountain. Suddenly, he made a loud snoring sound, before turning over, still asleep. She giggled, and then went onto he morning routine. It always ended with coffee. It’s a special day today, she thought, and decided to make breakfast as well. It was Graduation Day after all. Both were officially done with this particular chapter of life. The comfort and freedom that came with school was no more. Onwards, was the unknown of the future. She decided to make egg salad sandwiches for the two of them. She felt really nervous when she heard him wake up. There had recently been a tension, but both parties denied its existence. It got particularly bad when he walked into the kitchen, with the same bright smile he always has on. Her stomach started to knot, her tongue started to fail. “Good morning.” “H-hey.” “Egg sandwiches? Oh you’re going to enjoy what I’m gonna make for dinner.” She smiled back, unable to speak. She watched with careful precision as he tried to decide which seat to take, and chose the one closer to the window. She sat down opposite him. They both started to eat, in an unnatural silence. After a few minutes, Cynthia finally mustered up the courage to speak the unspeakable. “We’re graduating today, eh?” He looked up slowly, and the atmosphere changed immediately. The tension that was hiding all along emerged from the furniture in the house, changing everything warm about the spring into a cold, icy storm. “Yeah…yeah we are.” She grew slightly annoyed at his cowardice. It was hard enough for me to even bring it up, she thought. She waited in silence, hoping he would take the initiative. He noticed her change in mood. “What’s going to happen to us?” She instantly felt nauseous. This was the moment they had avoided for so long, and now it was finally here. She held onto his hand, and felt all the butterflies and frogs come out from inside her. — Skylar opened his eyes, and got up to pour himself some water. It has been years since he had that dream again. After opening his fridge, Skylar realized he had no eggs—it has been a few years since he bought any. He walked over to the window of his Toronto condo, and stared outside at his city. It was still dark, but the hue of the sky was starting to lighten up. Instinctively, he grabbed his notebook, and started scribbling out his thoughts. I suppose I do miss her. I wonder where she is. I love my job but…was it worth it? I get it, this is part of being an adult. But this isn’t how love should be… I wonder if there’s any way to get back with her… Skylar looked outside, and squinted at the horizon, now red from the rising sun. He squinted, and made out the start of a few snowflakes—the first snowfall this year. x



It took me four years to realize that being an art major is one of the most selfish things I will probably ever do. While you were writing history papers, I was writing multiple revisions of artist statements to figure out why I make art. While you were taking photos with your microscope, I was taking self-portraits to rediscover myself. While you were reading business textbooks, I was reading Tinder messages that would inspire my work. While you spent hours in the library, I spent hours in the studio discussing work and creating. While you were doing group assignments and working with others, I spent hours by myself making work for critique. As my time at McMaster comes to an end, I can’t help but ask “what’s next?” and “what will I do with my education?” And to be honest, it doesn’t matter. When I walked into McMaster four years ago, I had no idea what I was getting myself into and how much I would transform. Here I am now, walking into the next chapter of my life with a strong sense of self—and that is worth everything. x




A Recipe for Disaster



Whenever life gives me lemons, instead of making lemonade with it, I write up every recipe for lemonade I can imagine. Every possible path I can take to create the perfect lemonade will be written and re-written, until I’ve spent more time planning what to do than actually doing anything.

8:30 to 11:30 class 11:30 to 12:30 go home, lunch 12:30 to 4:00 4J03 readings 4:00 to I scratch it out and start again. Then, again. Whenever life gives me lemons, instead of making lemonade with it, I write up every recipe for lemonade I can imagine. Every possible path I can take to create the perfect lemonade will be written and re-written, until I’ve spent more time planning what to do than actually doing anything. Call it a nervous habit, or perhaps just the signs of a chronic procrastinator, but for some reason I cannot seem to do anything without the deadline looming like a sword over my head. As I am writing this, we are more than halfway through the semester, my final semester. Apart from the very mandatory readings for my seminar class and assignments with deadlines, I have done nothing else school related. Don’t get me wrong, the first thing I did in the term was write down everything I have to do; every single reading, assignment, test, quiz, and presentation. But actually doing it? That’s for later. Most of the planning is so I don’t forget to do things because my memory tends to fail me more often than not with everything it has to remember. I don’t have the luxury of taking life one day at a time, so I try to take things one week at a time, or two weeks at a time. Make note of the important deadlines and try to get those done first.

But something always comes up. A sudden urge to re-watch a TV show I’ve already watched or a book that I can’t put aside or an endless stream of memes. Time seems to slip right through my fingers, no matter how much I try to control it. And perhaps, under ordinary circumstances, that would deter me from trying to plan everything out again, but it only pushes me to plan more. I’ve been using an agenda for most of my life. I have due dates and important events written in my calendar and mirrored on every scrap of paper I can get my hands on whenever my mind is overwhelmed by the sheer amount of things I have to get done. And it’s this overwhelmed mind of mine that decides the best way to cope with stress is to do something that resembles being productive instead of actually being productive. Even now, I’m writing this instead of finishing the assignment I have due in two days. And maybe it’s the pathologizing of this inability of having a plan that has led me to become one of the most organised disorganised people I know. I can tell you exactly what I have to do for when throughout the semester, but where will I be post-graduation in May? Well, travelling. After that? No idea. And some part of me is okay with that. It’s alright that I don’t know what will happen next. I hate surprises, but I also hate it when things don’t go according to plan, so I’ll just hold on to these lemons and when I’ve finally got the perfect recipe, I’ll make a hell of a lemonade. x



Te It is a warm night in a small city. A gentle breeze winds down stucco streets and flusters the flags left over from the festival. After an entire day of celebrating, the town has fallen silent. This late at night, the soft glow of orange lights dazzle a doozy city and only but a few people are awake. Her strained thin eyes open. Her head is throwing a fit and begs to return to sleep. But she can’t. Her friends are all fast asleep in the apartment. She feels a sick squirm in her stomach that persuades her to get up and throw up in the nearest toilet. The puking doesn’t help as she doesn’t realize what she ate during the festival. Only wanting to get back into her snug home, she leaves the apartment. On her way there, she can’t help but feel this insatiable hunger. She coughs and doesn’t notice the small string of black goop that came out. A bartender exits and locks the doors to his pub. A tall, gruff, but handsome man, he adorns his light coat and begins walking home. “Hey, you.” The sound of a woman alerts the bartender. She’s in the pub’s dim alley, and the night does little to illustrate her face. “Hello? I’m a bit lost and wondering if you can help.” The bartender is tentative. If she’s who he thinks she is, she’s the woman he saw at his pub celebrating the festival. She was especially beautiful and no doubt caught his eye many times earlier tonight. In the back of his mind, he is still wondering where those shrouded strangers took her.


“Need some help?” He asks timidly. The woman makes a slow walk out of the alley. Orange streetlights illuminate her as she steps out of the dark. It’s her. “What’re you doing here?” He says, with a smile. The woman smiles back and latches around the man. “Whoa, easy there, miss.” His muscles are strong and lean. He’ll do nicely. Looking up, she reaches and pulls the man’s head closer to hers. The man relents, but it’s too late. Her eyes release tendrils that burrow into the man’s own eyes. The woman kisses the man to prevent him from screaming in pain as the worms dig into his brain. Finally, the woman drops dead with hollow eyes. The man rubs his eyes and looks around. He wonders what he should do tonight. A sanitation worker spills his bucket and gets water in his shoes. Annoyed at now having to work in wet socks, he curses, forcing his superior to shut him up. As the city needs to be functional by morning, workers need to clean up late at night. It’s a thankless job, and most of the workers have a great disdain for the festival as a result. Sweepers and cleaners rush to finish in the dim night. “Orville! Tobi! Grab your buckets and clean up that mess on 32nd Street,” the superior yells. Orville and Tobi both nod, grab their cleaning gear and run together to their destination. Barely adults, they haven’t seen a shower in a long while. It’s not their fault, they can’t even afford new clothes.

Tendrils Though Tobi has a hole on the bottom of his right shoe, Orville hasn’t had the luxury of socks in a long while. “You know Tobi, first thing payday, I’m gonna get myself an exclusive night out at Gaston’s Diner.” Tobi gives Orville a disappointed nod of the head. “Orville, I’m not gonna keep helping you bandage your feet again.” Orville’s feet are swollen and in constant pain. They keep Orville up at night and Tobi can’t stand the smell it creates. The doctor recommended Orville wash his feet more and start wearing socks again. So far, Orville does exactly none of those things. It took Tobi enormous amounts of effort to bring Orville to the doctor. He’s still trying to find a way to convince Orville socks aren’t all that bad. “Then I won’t keep lending you my books,” quips Orville. “Fine! They’re not even that good.” That is a lie. Tobi loves reading Strange Other World Tales. He especially enjoys the scantily clad Scorpion Lady depicted on a certain page. Orville himself does not read because he himself does not know how to read. He mainly collects books for their covers as despite his shortcomings he happens to be an avid collector. Arriving at 32nd street, Orville runs down a direction to start cleaning without Tobi. Angered, Tobi decides to do the same in the opposite direction. All the while neither noticed the bartender following them. Choosing a random

direction, the bartender heads up to talk to one of the boys. “You know, Orville, I wish you’d just start listening to me. You always ignore everything I say and I’d wish for once you’d use some common sense! It’s like you don’t think at all, you idiot!” Tobi waves his mop in violent streaks. His buckets swashes and spills but Tobi does not notice the mess he is making. He refuses to look at Orville and starts yelling louder and louder for Orville to hear him. The bartender approaches the boy silently, getting ever so closer. “I’m fed up with you, man. I’m fed up! Next time, find someone else to take care your sorry butt!” Annoyed at a lack of response from Orville, Tobi turns around to yell at Orville’s head on. There’s nothing he can do as he sees the tendrils force themselves down Orville’s unflinching head. After a short while, the bartender falls to the floor as Orville’s eyes his next victim. “Oh, my god.” Orville screeches and comes racing towards Tobi. Orville shouldn’t even be able to run that fast, not with those blistered feet. Tobi remains frozen in fear. Orville arrives, holds up a flailing Tobi by the neck, and releases tendrils into his eyes. Tobi’s body stiffens as Orville’s goes limp. A short while after, the sun comes up and life returns to the city. As people crowd buses and trains trying to get to work, a lone sanitation worker comes home decides to read his friend’s book. x




“There was nothing around him, not even the slightest trace or hint of what was to come.”



Celeste looked around the park. Already it was starting to fill up with people and their lives. A little girl bending down to pick a flower was followed by ghostly flashes of all the things she’d do: marry, have kids, divorce, travel. The jogger’s pony tail bounced up and down as she aged and found the love of her life a little too late. The business man hurried quickly by, she wanted to tell him he should hurry faster. His time was running out. She had long stopped trying to warn people of what was to come, most didn’t listen, and the ones who did thought she was crazy or they were a little crazy themselves. Not all the stories she saw were sad; most were average in their own way and the ones that ended well, those she savoured. She got up from her bench, then turned onto the busy street. In front of her the translucent images mixed around their respective owners. The same stories played out in unique ways. If she focused hard enough she could get almost all the details but today she let their comforting presence wash over her. A fight that would end a relationship, a trip to the pound and a new best friend, another day slogging through work, a mediocre retirement party, a nasty skydiving accident and the sight of a first love. She was just about to turn the corner when something caught her eye, her feet stopped dead. There, through the bustle of people, a blank space. She couldn’t see him, or rather what he would be. Backing away, she turned into the crowd. She pushed through the pedestrians, trying to get away as her heart raced. The streets and stores blurred as she struggled to form a coherent thought. Nothing made sense, everyone had a future, she saw it, she knew them and what they would be. That night, sleeping proved near impossible as she kept asking herself why she couldn’t see him like she saw everyone else. Her alarm seemed to go off as soon as she closed her eyes. Rolling out of bed, she began her normal routine. As she walked along her normal path, her world seemed off. The images floating by seemed somehow different; familiar but dull. They no longer felt as comfortable as the day before. Weeks passed, but the feeling did not. No matter what she tried she couldn’t muster the same curiosity she had before. It was like watching your favourite movie one too many times. The stories she had loved so dearly had lost their sheen. Old habits, however, die hard and she still returned to her bench to watch people and what they would become. One day, very much like the rest, she started on her regular route, her feet unconsciously tracing the steps she knew so well. A fight, a friend, new love, ends and beginnings, all melded together unrecognizably. Then out of the melange of images, a bright spot, a clean slate. This time she stopped and stared at the unknown. There was nothing around him, not even the slightest trace or hint of what was to come. It was scary to look, to see him in nothing but his present. But it was also something else, something that propelled her towards him. And as she moved forward she asked herself, perhaps for the first time, what comes next. x






Month by month, day by day, meal by meal, in tranquility or in stability I will make it through this and return to real life. My most prominent memories of elementary school are of a public toilet, gasping for air as I gag and vomit. If only I had known that I could have prevented horrible torment and bullying. The smell, sight of, and especially touch of wet bread induced such extreme nausea. I wish I never revealed this. A handful of students each year were content with eating their sandwich open faced if they knew they could make me gag. A quick rinse in the sink and I was running to the washroom. It’s funny when I think back on those days. If I couldn’t have gotten over that distaste for soggy bread, I wouldn’t still be around. “Eat up and be ready for duty.” What’s on the menu for today? The typical moist white bread, powdered eggs, rehydrated last Tuesday, and seven grapes. I’m in luck. Only 2 are moldy today. It’s not a bad start to the day. Not quite as good as the thawed omelettes but it’s nicer than cold oatmeal. Our breakfasts aren’t much but our mattresses are hell. Hardly two inches thick and no ability to compress or relax. One shift of ditch digging and we’re out of commission for nearly a week on these cement slabs. I suppose that’s why we have a rotation in positions. Laundry, yard duty, field duty, sanitary. That’s about it; a few lucky fellows are permanently on kitchen or library. Nothing is more regret-inducing than soul-crushing menial labour. Consequences are an interesting phenomenon. I had it all figured out, or so I thought. In one day I could make enough to support myself for the next few months.

Assured this plan was flawless, I was nervous, but eager. Excited even, to break the law. All it took was some smoothtalking a salesperson and step one was complete: the car was off the lot. Next, I would make sure to drive as far as I could away without the sales rep seeming displeased. Once I knew I was clear, I’d stop the car, take the keys and walk around to forcefully eject them out of the car. With them out of the way, I could quickly climb back in and drive off to fence the car. My first time I was awfully hesitant, but it went smoothly. The next few times, I was confident, but I quickly became cocky and progressed from every few months to within the same week. I figured I was set for a long time. I wouldn`t have to worry about what was coming next for me. I had it all planned out. But they were on to me. I was planning on a smooth getaway, not an arrest, a sentence and all this waiting. Twelve years. I’m sure if I can handle the first one I can tackle the next eleven, right? Some days, an air of calm flutters through these bleak walls. All is peaceful. Some days, I’m panicked over what’s to come for breakfast. Month by month, day by day, meal by meal, in tranquility or in stability I will make it through this and return to real life. I will regain my freedom and embrace each new moment that awaits me. x






My sister calls to arrange a weekend visit. Her voice is calm and plain. When I ask if she is still coming, she nods her head. Then, “Did Dada tell you about the fire? About the fire in our home and we climbed out the window stood on the roof in pyjamas and how the firefighters tore down the ceiling to stop the flame? We thought the toaster made a spark in the wall and that is how it started. Now we know that’s not how it started.” — Sitting on a stool in a bay window, I see a man and a woman walk by, each carrying a box full of orange juice cartons. They are walking beside one another. They don’t notice the light behind me. They look exhausted, arms shivering in the cold, fingers red and slipping slowly from the edges of their boxes. She forgot to pull up her jacket zipper and he forgot to put on his hat, and in the few seconds that they are in front of me I pity their ripe ambition, flipping my head down before they reach the end of the block. — I come home to the smell of family and leave bitter. I listen to the smell of fire and dream empty. I come downstairs to the smell of toast and spread honest. The bottom few stairs curve to the right and meet the first floor to the smell of celebration in December to the smell of giving up at night to the smell of ambition in the morning to the smell of love at four and five-fifteen. I wake up to the smell of nothing. I brush my teeth to the smell of toothpaste. I wash my face to the smell of grapefruit. I watch the sky to the smell of glass. I walk downstairs to the smell of sagging railings and my feet fall to the smell of fading carpet. A pillar between the living room, at the front of the house, and the dining room, behind it, blocks my view of the front window from the staircase.

I hear a fluttering sound. I figure someone is typing on the living room couch. I step forward to see past the pillar but no one is there, and the typing noise continues. I take one step forward and I know exactly what it is. I grab the phone off its base and dial. I wake everyone up and we leave through the back door. The firefighters arrive in minutes. They come with four trucks and nine people. One starts to unravel the hose but the supervisor shakes her hand. They have dogs trained for matters such as these. Once off leash, they run toward the house barking. But before they make it through the door, they turn around. “It’s one of those,” the supervisor yells, head jerking back and forth between the house and the truck. Before she’s finished her sentence, four crew members are cranking an enormous metal wheel, and as it turns a long metal arm unfolds and extends from the truck. A driver maneuvers the arm from inside, looking through a tiny camera on the end of the arm. It claws down the window and reaches into the living room. A sour, dehydrated smell erupts from the hole. We are standing outside quietly, fists clenched and legs stiff. My sister sits down on a rock in the garden. She is coughing. Her outbreathe is rough and her inbreathe is strained, and just as her chest begins to heave again, we hear a shattering “click” and the smell is gone. It’s safe to go inside, they say, as the steel arm pulls back through the window and the dogs shuffle into their seats. That was close, one firefighter breathes. We walk back inside. The window is still broken, the TV is off, and the remote is crushed from the red button down. Someone left the fire channel on last night. — I wear slippers over my shoes and pyjamas under my clothes. I leave my room through the window. Do I know pain? x



Human “Beautiful.” I read the short note on my Tim’s coffee, a slow smile waking and warming my body from its slumber. Pulling a strand of hastily brushed hair back from my face, I glance up, the words, “thank you,” poised on my lips as I search for the wonderful woman who served me my coffee. However, I see that she and her bubbly personality are now assisting someone else. I don’t know how she’s so happy at 7am, but I’m glad there are people like her in the world. — “And that’s how my day went. Now, how are you?” My roommate pauses, finished with the summary of her day. Although a more hedonistic student might have turned away to start her homework, my roommate gazes at me expectantly. She genuinely wants to know how I’m feeling…so I tell her. Away at university, it’s comforting to know someone besides my parents holds a stake in my happiness. — Buzzz. My phone vibrates, staving my absorption of physics from my textbook. As my finger glides across the screen, unlocking my phone, I smile. My aunt texted me reassurances—after an incredibly taxing week, she reminded me that it’s okay to be stressed—to a point. I need to take a few breaths and recognize that I have support. And move on. And get back to my homework. Stopping my leg from bouncing, I return to my work with a renewed vigor. Everything’s going to be okay. —



I don’t know how she’s so happy at 7am, but I’m glad there are people like her in the world.

During each of these moments, I felt a comforting presence in my life; someone was there, looking out for me, regardless of how stressed I really was. I’m not going to overexaggerate and call them my guardian angels because they aren’t. They’re just people. People are people, not divine beings—and that’s okay. After watching Drew Dudley give a Ted talk about ‘lollipop moments’, I reaffirmed this belief. It’s not the “guardian angels” that save you, and it’s not the “cure for cancer” that defines a leader. It’s people—those who are capable of real, tangible, concrete deeds that in those moments, are all a person needs. That person, who needs a bit of help, is human, and doesn’t need some super-human show of force. In that moment, they just need to know that their existence is valued. They just need to feel loved, appreciated. They just need to feel human. x





The House at the End of the Street 21 Pemberley Drive took up the corner lot of a very ordinary street in a very ordinary suburb where each house had a perfectly manicured lawn and a minivan in the driveway. But it wasn’t like the other houses on the street. Not because the house looked any different—it was made of the same light sable slats with the same white lattice detailing and the same chestnut brown window treatment—but because there was no sign of life. Fifteen years earlier, the house had been up for sale and sold. But it seemed uninhabited. There were no plants filling the flowerbeds, no mail ever came, and there weren’t any toys and chairs strewn across the porch like the other houses. The only reason that anybody knew someone was inside was because the curtains in the front left window were drawn open at exactly 7:30 each morning, and closed each night at 6:20. Seth and Jessica had the fortune of living next door to 21 Pemberley Drive. They were 10 and 12 respectively, older than most of the children on the street. They also loved to use their age and proximity to house 21 to their advantage, especially because Seth’s bedroom window happened to face the house; specifically, a window into the upper floor. Natural-born storytellers, he and his sister loved to concoct stories about the mysterious things they had witnessed from that window. Sometimes, they swore the inhabitant must be a ghost, because they claimed to have seen a man who was awfully translucent pacing in the room. Other times, it was the house of a kidnapper, their evidence being that fourteen different people had walked by the window over the span of ten days. Other times still, the siblings drew inspiration from their favourite books, claiming that they saw someone appear out of thin air, almost as if they had apparated. No matter what, the stories always ended the same way: Jessica, the more talented storyteller, would let the last line of their tale dangle in silence, 24


before Seth, with his chest puffed out and his arms crossed, would say, “But, I mean, if you don’t believe us, you should just take a look for yourselves.” That’s how half the neighbourhood children wound up peering through the window of 21 Pemberley Drive when the ambulance showed up. They heard the sirens in the distance, never thinking that it could be headed for their street. After all, nobody over the age of fifty lived on Pemberley Drive. Or so they thought. As the paramedics got out of the car, the children dispersed, preferring not to be caught spying on the person inside. But they weren’t fast enough—one of the paramedics approached Seth and Jessica. Pulling her hair out of her face and into a ponytail, she asked, “Were you the ones who called?” Seth and Jessica looked at each other and then back at the woman in confusion. Jessica spoke up, “It wasn’t us. We were just spying in.” “Well, do you know who might’ve called?” “No. We don’t even know who lives there. Nobody does.” The woman thanked them before going back to work. The others had been trying to get the door open, but it was locked. Finally, on the lady’s command, they broke down the door and got in. By that point, the other neighbours had heard the commotion and come outside to see what was happening. They all watched in fascination as the paramedics ran in and out of the house, retrieving various instruments and finally bringing a stretcher inside. When they came out, the stretcher was carrying something, and that something was covered in a sheet. The owner of 21 Pemberley Street was dead. Stories began to fly through the neighbourhood. Apparently, a widowed woman had purchased them house 15 years earlier when her husband died. She faced significant health issues

and was confined to the home shortly thereafter. Her daughter came twice a week when everyone was at work or school to deliver groceries and help her with various chores. She walked to the place, which is why nobody had ever seen a car. The old woman opened the blinds at those times because that’s when her husband had left for work and come home, and she used to stand at that window to wave goodbye in their old home. One neighbour even claimed to have discovered her name: Vera. It was the last day of summer when the lawyers came to Seth and Jessica’s house along with a mysterious woman. Their parents let them in hesitantly, surprised that they were there to see the children. Eliza called the children down, trying not to seem nervous as she did. When the family sat down together, the woman began talking. She explained that her name was Mary, that she was the daughter of the woman next door, who was in fact named Vera. Her mother had gone into cardiac arrest, but had managed to call her, and then she had called the ambulance. The lawyers were with her because Vera she had left a few things to the children: a scrapbook, a typewriter, and an old notebook. Since they were so young, their parents had to sign on their behalf. Although bewildered, the children’s’ moms saw nothing dangerous about the objects, and the two signed the proper forms. Seth and Jessica carried the things carefully to Seth’s room, marveling at each one. When they opened the scrapbook, a letter fell out. —

children. But I like to think that I have watched over you all these years, and that your story has become a part of my life. I have seen you grow into the people you are now, and I can only imagine what the future holds for you two. I’ve always wanted to meet you, but alas, my body has betrayed me this wish. So I chose to reach out to you in this way. I’ve noticed you two are quite the storytellers. Perhaps these things will give you inspirations? All the best, Vera Forrester — The children were stunned. They flipped through the scrapbook, admiring the vibrant life of this wonderful woman. Years later, their book, Vera, became a bestseller. x

Dear Children, I have watched you from my window all these years with happiness. You two have such energy and creativity, that it brings me back to my own days as a young girl. I never had the chance to be a grandma; none of my children have had NEXT




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right foot, left foot, right foot, sit. this is the only time when I can stare at what is right in front of me inhale, green trees, the stars, the sun and if I’m lucky the moon exhale, it is starting to get a little harder to breath inhale, nothing that you should be alarmed about, exhale it is just getting a little harder to breath that is when she usually appears, when my chest get heavy…I think, or maybe her appearance is the reason each breath gets harder in the first place I am u n c e r t a i n, I said spinelessly at first her whispers are gentle, I sometimes mistake them for the wind “tell me about your hopes and d r e a m s,” She whispers “do you think you are going to be alone for e v e r?” She laughs “will you end up a f a i l u r e, like everyone hopes?” She says a little louder I looked her in the eye (I really did) and said with all the determination I could muster I am u n c e r t a i n I used to be scared of that word you see: uncertain I used to be so afraid of her, she really did make it harder to breath this time I grabbed her by the hand and made her sit right beside me nothing in this world of ours is certain, I screamed not the next second, nor the next minute, the next day, week, year (this part echoed through the trees) and this my love, terrifies us to our core this is why we are so obsessed with living our lives on our constructed conveyer belt: school then work, work then marriage, marriage then kids, because we crave certainty in a life full of uncertainty I told her I was not afraid anymore, I told her that I was free I told her I wish dance to dance in the wind with the trees. x







There is a silence after a soul departs this world. I sit at the foot of the bed and watch as her chest stops rising and falling. I imagine I can see her float away. My father is at her bedside too, but I barely notice. The breeze calls me from outside the open window so I stand and turn to follow it. My father grabs my hand, his fingers loose around my small wrist. “Don’t go.” I look at him—really look at him. He wears a tailored suit, crisp except for the pants which are now covered in dust and crinkled from kneeling on the floor. His eyes are sunken into his face and even from where I stand I can smell the booze on his breath. I look out the window again, and he doesn’t argue. He drops my hand, and I stare down at it. I wait a moment to feel… something. Pain. Guilt. Loss. A breath—and I don’t feel anything—so I step outside. It’s a crisp fall morning, the dew still hanging in the air from the rainfall the night before. The air feels alive with life—so much of it, I wonder if my mother is really dead. But I don’t look back to find out. The earth has decided to keep turning, so there must be something left. I walk towards the forest that I know like the back of my hand. It carries the ghosts of my past without any shame, but each step adds more bricks onto my shoulders until I have to sit down. “You could stay, you know,” she had said to me eight years ago. “You could be happy here.” “I won’t be, mom, don’t you see?” I had bitten out through salty tears, “ I wound up my happiness in my success and without that I…I’m nothing.” “That’s not true—” “Of course it’s not. But it’s how I feel. I feel worthless and useless…what have I done that’s so special? That makes me deserve happiness?” She put her arms around me. “Go, then. Go. Find your happiness. And I want you to find it,” she was crying, too, “But come back to visit. Please.”


The leaves rustle overhead and the memory fades. I touch my cheeks, but don’t feel any tears. I was never good at goodbyes or at moving on. What if I’d stayed? But it was never that simple. My nose scrunches up at the sight of my father walking up the dirt path. “Don’t run.” He holds up his hands in defeat. I stay seated and, to my surprise, he sits himself in his fancy suit beside me. The leaves crunch under our weight. “I’m not staying.” “I know. I could never make you,” He sighs, pulls a cigarette out of his coat pocket and lights it. “Smoking now?” He takes a slow drag before looking at me. “You have an addiction too, you know?” I blink. “Excuse me?” “You’re addicted to your pursuit of happiness. Addicted to finding fame, people who accept you, pieces of paper with ‘Congratulations’ on it! You get a high out of it,” he taps the cigarette, “Just like me. I find something difficult to face, I pull this out. Or the bottle. Oh, don’t look surprised…I know it. I know it and yet I keep doing it.” I sit in silence beside him and we watch the sun filter in through the canopy. He stands after finishing his cigarette. “Well, I’m assuming this is the last time I’m going to see you. A word of advice from your old man, even though I know you’ll hiss about it—stop acting like you’ve got it all together. You’re not better than me and I’m sure as hell not better than you. You’re going to run back to your apartment and go to work tomorrow with a smile on your face. Addiction looks good on you.” “Dad—” I choke on the words. He steps out of the shade of the trees and the sunlight welcomes him with open arms. x NEXT


Creating and Destroying Universes The Quantum Reverberations of Choice ART by THERESA ORSINI WORDS by ANGELA DONG 30


Choice can be paralyzing. Like Sylvia Plath with her fig tree in “The Bell Jar”, the winter of my university applications was a maelstrom of turmoil, nihilistic introspection and premature regret for lost opportunities should I take one path over the other. In one life, if I chose this school and this degree, I could be a successful lawyer, campaigning for human rights across the globe…but I could alternately be stuck in a musty office reading over fine print for depressing estate division until my midlife crisis hit. I could go on to inhabit a world of icy skyscrapers, fastpaced stock markets and urban traffic… or I could find my home in the sterile, antiseptic-smelling halls where birth, healing and death coexist. I saw many different roads laid out for me, each with their own unique temptations, pitfalls and mysteries beckoning me to make a choice. With a single fate-determining click of my mouse, I would be destroying all other futures, locking my footsteps into the hardening cement of my nowchosen path. This terrified me. What didn’t help was the fact that at that time, I was embroiled in a feverish obsession over quantum physics, especially the controversial theory of multiple universes. Although absurd, seeming like something straight out of science fiction, one only has to remember that in the quantum world, strangeness is not an eliminator…but also that there really is no 100% certainty in any theory. You might have heard of the thought experiment regarding quantum suicide before. Developed independently by Hans Moravec and Bruno Marchal in

1987 and 1988 respectively, it features a scenario in which a man sits in a room with a pistol rigged to only fire at a probability of 50% with each pull of the trigger. He pulls the trigger and the pistol may or may not shoot, but with this binary dichotomy of outcomes, the timeline is split into half (assuming that the many-worlds interpretation is true). In one timeline, the man dies but in the other timeline, the gun doesn’t fire and the man lives, his living state a superposition coexisting with the alternate dead state. Since man’s consciousness can only exist in the living superposition, he survives the first round. He pulls the trigger again, once more splitting the timeline. His consciousness survives in each “alive” timeline despite the mathematical probability of the gun firing, and assuming this goes on indefinitely, we now go into the even more mind-boggling concept of quantum immortality, where the man’s experience—as an entity viewing the world subjectively—is of infinite survival despite the odds against him. There are many unanswered questions and flaws to this thought experiment. Life and death usually is not a binary phenomenon like this situation. The experiment assumes (despite lacking proof for and against) that there is no afterlife where the consciousness can reside after death. And thankfully, this isn’t testable as the timeline experienced and results perceived will be different for the subject and outside observers. However, this thought experiment did play a role in distinguishing between the Copenhagen and Everett theoretical interpretations of the quantum world at the time. >>



It is better to take agency, to be active now for the formation of our futures. The Everett many-world interpretation states that, with each and every decision and action, the universe splits to reflect all the alternate realities and that each alternate “universe” is real and objectively exists. Considering the butterfly effect from chaos theory— where the tiniest action such as the flapping of a butterfly’s wing can result in far-reaching consequences—there could be no limit to the number of universes. In Stephen Hawking’s 2001 book “The Universe in a Nutshell”, he declares it (whether erroneously or not, we may never know) a “scientific fact” that there is a universe out there where even something highly improbable—such as Belize winning every single gold medal in the Olympics—has happened. From a probabilistic standpoint on infinity, it’s true, anything could happen. If we got a computer program to combine and recombine the alphabet and various writing symbols for all of eternity, it will sooner or later reproduce every work of literature written in history…and all works of literature humanity will ever create.



The Copenhagen interpretation, however, conflicts greatly with Everett. It disagrees with the objective existence of alternate universes, instead, with an act of measurement or observation, all the possibilities that could be “collapse” into a single end reality—a wave function collapse. Connecting this to the act of decision making, the end decision you make wipes out all the other future possibilities stemming from the decision you didn’t take. That’s when your feet get locked into the cement of the path you chose, when you see the other un-walked sidewalks of life disappear around you. There are problems and uncertainties with both theories, just as there are problems and uncertainties with every decision one makes, each future one can foresee. But we can’t let indecision prevent us from stepping forward, lest all the figs fall from Plath’s tree and shrivel and die. We can’t let paralysis of choice keep us from choosing the future we see is the best fit, whether it be by selecting which alternate universe to inhabit or which future is worth a wave function collapse for. It is better to take agency, to be active now for the formation of our futures. What is “Next” depends wholly on what we do “Now”. x






There’s no use in pretending we can escape the words that are written when we are as bound to them as the pages are to their spine.

I remember my mother being loud. She was always laughing and joking, talking and singing. It was as if she stopped making noise, the universe might forget she was there, might forget who she was. My mother was a great collector of things. Our house was cluttered with books and records, photos and artifacts from travels near and far. These were her personal archives. Perhaps she liked the idea that these things would outlive her, as proof that she had once existed and that her life mattered. They symbolised her life, after her body was no longer able to. She would talk herself hoarse, my mother. Maybe she felt she needed to say everything possible to forget that one day, there would be only silence. Maybe she felt that if she yapped and hollered enough, fate would listen to her and spare her. Perhaps it was her way of coping with what was written in her Book. Maybe if things were different, she would have been more like me, who feels like there couldn’t possibly be enough silence in the world. I’m different; I have an infinite need for silence. I often have inescapable urges to declutter, to rid my apartment of everything that crowds and compiles. I seek to find spaces of stillness. There was only one time I remember my mother being quiet. When I was very young, she took me into her lap and handed me a big, thick book bound by red fabric. She was very stern, and explained to me that this was my Story, from beginning to end. Perhaps if my mother’s Book looked more like mine, she would have spent more time alone, would have let people on the street pass by without calling out to them, without needing to exist in their minds, or in any place beyond herself. Perhaps she would have been someone who was able to bear the emptiness of silence. I remember one night when I was little, waking up to shadows flickering outside my window. I pulled the curtains back and peered through the glass into our backyard. There was my mother, tall, strong, broad-shouldered, her big curly brown hair and blazing eyes illuminated by a single lantern as she held a very thin, blue book in her hands. She stared at it as one stares at a gravestone: profound respect intertwined

with limitless hatred. I watched as she tried to tear, kick, rip the book, tears streaming down her face. I watched as she poured kerosene on her Book, tossed her cigarette onto the soggy pages, and watched it ignite. After the flames died down, there it lay, surrounded by a halo of charred grass, not a mark on it, not a word any different. I never told my mother what I saw. There were some people who threw out their Books, some mailed them to an unknown address or participated in mass Book burials. Some people took planes over the ocean and in big groups threw their books into the unforgiving waves and smiled and felt pleased with themselves that they were the brave few who relinquished their hold on the future, who shook off the chains of worry and were now, suddenly, free agents who had accepted with ease and grace whatever the future had in store, that they were no longer slaves to the pages and letters that dictated their fate. It must be noted that almost everyone who participated in these rituals (and almost everyone did at least once in their life) had multiple copies of their books, almost never threw out the original print, and with utter predictability and shame almost always returned to their tempting pages. It seems that none of the tactics people use to deal with the inevitable path of their lives make them any less fearful of the future. We are still faced every day with the absurdity of life and the indifference of the universe. There are movements to abolish Book politics, to collect them when a child is born and to never let them see it. I know this will never happen. Obsession with the future is deeply rooted in this society. And, in the end, knowing or not knowing doesn’t seem to make a difference with a future that you can hold in your hands, containing pages that never stop turning. There’s no use in pretending we can escape the words that are written when we are as bound to them as the pages are to their spine. My big red Book lives under the floorboards in my apartment. I visit it occasionally, but mostly to read old chapters and revisit the past. Some nights, especially the ones that are too quiet, I pull up my floorboards just to see it lying there beside a thin blue book. x NEXT



He looked up from his chemistry notes to see her staring at him intently from across the table. She sat with her hands clasped around a cup of dandelion tea, eyebrows furrowed and lips frowning bright red over the white china rim. “Do you ever stop and think,” she said, slowly and purposefully, “that you could have been a binder?” He looked down at the binder in his hands. She’d been staring at his notes, not at him. “Sorry, what?” he said, slightly annoyed. “Just think. Your body is made of billions of atoms. What was the probability those exact atoms would come together to make you?” “Your point being?” She sipped pensively at her tea. “Well, what if something had happened? The chances those atoms would get like this—” she jabbed a finger at him “—right here, right now, were amazingly small. One mishap and they could have become anything else. You could have been a dog, an asteroid—” “A binder?” 36


“Yes!” She leaned forward. “Who knows? Maybe you were a binder in the past.” “Or maybe you’re being just a little bit strange.” “Don’t be a jerk. When do you think was the last time your atoms were all together? Maybe you were a sandwich—” “A sandwich?” “Fine, fine.” She rolled her eyes. “What about a bird, or a maple tree? Imagine. It’s springtime. You’re standing in a forest, your branches stretched to the sky, the wind rustling through your leaves.” He briefly closed his eyes, and thought he could feel the breeze in his hair. “Do you feel it?” “No,” he said tersely. He was still thinking about the sandwich. “Try this, then.” She held her cup of tea up to eye level. “Go back several thousand years. This cup could be anything. Sand. An orange. A dove.”

Your body is made of billions of atoms. What was the probability those exact atoms would come together to make you?

With each incarnation she swirled her hand around the cup like a magician flourishing a handkerchief, and in his mind’s eye it began to transform. A pile of sand now filled her hand, threatening to overflow. Then an orange. A final spin, and she held a dove. It ruffled its snow-white feathers, and regarded him inquisitively. “Now let’s go forward in time. Maybe this café will be reincarnated on a whole other planet. Can you see it? This wall will turn into a cliff, the people into boulders, the ground into pebbles…” He looked around. The oak wall beside him melded into a smooth rock face. He stood and felt round white stones shift under his feet. He looked out and saw the other walls dissolve to reveal an ocean, its water rippling and jewel-like. The air was cool and brisk, and two silver moons hung in the curving purple sky. “Before you is water,” she said, “stretching farther than the eye can see. It’s the café, vastly different but undeniably the same.” “What about you?” “Me?” She laughed. “Maybe I’ll be a lion, or a piece of moss. Maybe I’ll simply be air.” With those words she disappeared, leaving him alone on the alien beach. He stepped forward, and became acutely aware of the rushing waves, the salty spray, and the unfamiliar stars in the sky—he wondered if his chemistry notes burned deep within them. A gust of wind on his neck, and she was beside him again. “Or maybe this is the only time these bits of matter will ever be together since the Big Bang.” The ocean vanished. Darkness engulfed him. Her breath whispered on his cheek. “This is the beginning of space and time. There is no outside, no before; the universe is but a tiny point of existence. Matter and energy are the same. Light doesn’t exist yet.” She took his hand. “We’re together for an infinitesimal sliver of a moment. And then we fly apart.”

There was a sudden motion like the kick of a rocket, and space grew from claustrophobic to unfathomably large. Her hand slipped from his, but her voice remained. “The universe is expanding. One second passes, and in the nascent, searing-hot fog we become gluons, quarks, subatomic particles. One minute, and we’re millions of kilometres apart.” He was careening wildly through a thick black cloud. Gradually he slowed and the smoke began to clear, and buds of light started to smolder in the darkness. “We spend three hundred millennia as hydrogen gas before we cool and condense into stars, which burn and die and are born again, and spin themselves into galaxies. We spend eons at antipodes of the universe until we gather in a small corner of space, orbiting a newborn star.” The Sun flared before him, a seething behemoth surrounded by a spinning disc of matter, and the newly-formed Earth swung into view. Time punched forward, and the red-hot, pockmarked sphere of rock transformed into a lush, watery orb. “Species and civilizations rise and fall, until one day we finally meet. And in that snippet of space-time in a simple, unassuming café, those atoms from the beginning of the universe are reunited, just for a split-second, before they drift apart once more, never to meet again.” He felt her hand back in his, and together they watched the rotating Earth. “What now?” he finally asked. “Now we go back.” She smiled sadly. “You have a chemistry exam in two hours. It’s time you came back down.” With a sigh the stars folded away and the café faded back in. Walls materialized and customers reappeared, chatting like nothing had happened. He blinked and rubbed his face. The chair across from him was empty, with no sign of its occupant ever being there. Before him his notes were doodled with planets and galaxies, and when he looked down he thought he could see shreds of the universe swirling in his coffee. x NEXT



Coming into university, I had no idea what I wanted to do when I “grew up”. I knew I that I loved to learn; my curiosity and thirst for knowledge knew no bounds. I liked travelling, reading, and talking to different people. That did not satisfy my parents, however. They gave me until the end of second year of university to decide on what I wanted to do. The end of my second year is fast approaching, and I can tell you with certainty that I still do not know what I want to do when I “grow up”. I did try to find something I loved above all else. I took courses in a variety of subject areas and enjoyed every single one of them. I participated in a variety of activities ranging from business case competitions to volunteering with young children to see if I really connected with any of them. As April draws nearer and I reflect on the



past year’s activities, I find that I did not particularly love any one of them but found each of them fun and rewarding in its own way. And so, what next? What will I do this summer? Should I take some courses or look for a job instead? What type of job should I look for? These are the questions that plague me daily. When I go home (as I did for reading week), the pressure from my parents to have my life and my summer figured out intensifies. They grill me on the activities I am a part of, what skills or experiences I am gaining from them, and how I am balancing everything. I know they mean well, and I love my parents, but their questions only add to my consistent feelings of doubt and uncertainty. I spent a grand total of one whole day

at home during reading week. I do not know what I want to do when I “grow up” and I think that is okay. I do not know what I want to do this summer (doing nothing would be nice, though) and I think that is okay as well. I don’t have to know exactly what my next step will be; instead, I am exploring the opportunities and taking full advantage of the experiences provided to me. My next step today is to take a nap and then write an essay. x



Is Canada the world’s first postnational country? In 2011, one in five Canadians were born elsewhere. In our largest city, Toronto, it’s every other person. The truth is that we are an immigrant nation. We live, work and coexist with people different from us everyday, but it is our differences that make us strong and prosperous. Canada is successful because—not in spite—of our diversity. This typographically-led campaign aims to not just communicate Canada’s “postnational” identity to the world, but also to showcase its ethnocultural diversity by visually bringing together nations (represented by custom letters) through bold statements. Most importantly, this is a project which showcases how graphic design can be used to communicate political messages, agitate and inspire social action in bringing people of different backgrounds together to celebrate the true Canadian identity in 2017. This project was created as a Senior Thesis Project for the McMaster Multimedia program. x 40



Top left: letters created using nations and flag colours. Below: a conceptual campaign at Toronto Pearson Airport.




What if you could know exactly what was going to happen next? Simple. Life would be dull. Life would be a film where you walk into the theatre already knowing the protagonists’ most climactic experiences. I find it funny that we thrive off the feeling of the unknown yet we fear it with an equal, if not greater, magnitude. I want to know what I’m going to be doing tomorrow, and next week, and probably even the week after—but when I really get down to it, would I want to know where I would be in 5 years? 10 years? 50? No. Right now, I’m having trouble with the uncertainty that comes with my graduating year. But would I truly be worry free if someone could tell me with utmost certainty where I will end up? Sure, this may come with a sense of stability, and perhaps even a feeling of satisfaction, if this answer fulfils a goal or two. While all of this sounds good and well, I feel like I would not be content. With this knowledge I eliminate a major source of wonderment and fantasy in my life. But let’s say (for argument sake) that I’m in a universe where I could know all that is to come. And in this transcendent and highly hypothetical universe I am my own supreme being. I would not only know what would happen, I would know fully and completely what could happen. It’s both everything I want and at the same time, everything I do not. To accept this universe I would have to be content with not only knowing all of the potential positives but also all of the endless, soul-crushing negatives. And what fun would that be? The most compelling point of this, to me at least, is that with this ability I would miss out on the chance to discover anything for myself. I would miss out on the momentary joys and the momentary sorrows that constitute the beauty and misery of human existence. With this omniscient knowledge of all my possible futures the mystery of life disappears, and with it my motivation. But let’s get back to reality. Ignorance may be bliss, but not prolonged ignorance. This works in my favour, as I will eventually decipher where I will be in that next moment. So, if given the choice to know or not know what is to happen next, prior to experiencing the movie of my life, I would most kindly ask for NO SPOILERS. x





The Struggle is Real


Parker Flood is a 4th year student of the McMaster Studio Art BFA program graduating this June 2017. I met him way back in 2012 in his first year, left McMaster in 2015, and returned this year to find him all grown up. He has blossomed into a talented artist, intellectual, and he is a breath of fresh air. His practical mentality behind why he decided to become an artist is something that I believe is a must-share. His views are crucial to debunking the myth that is the “starving artist.” The truth is we’re all fighting for futures. Stability is not guaranteed for anyone anymore. Here is what Parker had to say: Dina: Why did you become an artist? What made you pursue that path? Parker: I’ve always been interested in art. Since a super young age I’ve always liked it. It was just fun to colour, to draw, you know like a lot of kids do. I always used it as a way to entertain myself when I was young. In high school I took art classes because I enjoyed it. I found that I was good at it and because I was good at it I continued to do it. Like any other subject; math, science, etc., art, I thought, could be something I could make a career out of one day. My goal in art was never to just make art. I know for some people that’s their inclination. Art, the product, is not the end goal for me. The end goal is to use art as a tool to make money. 44


Dina: It’s so interesting that you see art as a means to make money. Meanwhile the popular belief that I see among people, and perhaps it’s just starting to shift, is that the art world is unstable and money-making career prospects are scarce. What do you say to people who have this idea about the art field? Parker: It’s true, I don’t think it’s untrue. But I don’t think there is any stable future in most fields. Most people who graduate from University today may not get a job in the field in which they got their degree. At least I am aware of that. A lot of people think that if “I go for engineering, I’m going to get right into the field and become an engineer.” And they don’t. They go to college after and become an Inspector first. I have a friend who is going through this situation right now actually. I think it’s a stigma that is true but doesn’t get put on everything else that is also true. If you go to University for history and come out with that degree, what are you going to do with it? Nothing more than what I’m going to do with an art degree, right? I think another and probably more important or equally as important reason as to why I chose to pursue a degree in art

though it’s not just “fun” it’s also quite a serious discipline. But still, I feel like in some respects it’s true. I’ve been colouring and drawing all my life for entertainment. Now I’ve done it for marks and eventually I’ll do it for money. Why not? It’s just always seemed like a good plan for me. —

is because it’s something that I enjoy. I mean I know myself by now, and I knew myself when I was applying for University in the sense that if I don’t like something I’m not going to struggle to put the work into it. Dina: I’m the same way. Parker: I think most people are. I really dislike subjects like math or physics, I can do them, and I have done very well in them. But it’s not something I want to come home and do. The only reason I did well in those subjects is because I had the drive to get good marks. But I didn’t want the field of study I chose for the next four years of my life to be something I despised every day. Originally I thought I wanted to be a Physiotherapist, because I did a co-op in high school for physio and took biology, really enjoying it. But I knew I didn’t have the memory for it. So it was like ‘you know what I can’t do this.’ And I don’t enjoy memorizing all this stuff for it. But I knew if I had to come home and draw for a couple of hours I would enjoy it. I think another reason why I enjoy art is because it’s easy for me. It even has this reputation as a field that is “fun.” Even

Parker is moving on to Teacher’s College next year in the hopes of becoming an art teacher and I wish him the best of luck. But I think we can all learn something from him now. I know for some people it may be hard to pursue an education in what you truly enjoy due to cultural or familial obstacles. Trust me I’ve been there. And maybe you’re even questioning why I’m pushing this message onto students who may be halfway done their degree by now. Well to address that I’d say education never ends, especially because most of us will probably continue on to further-education programs. But this is something I wish I had been told coming out of high school, and now I’m fine having internalized it going into my last year. I think it can be applied to anyone who is ready to revaluate their education, who has a younger sibling they could advise or is in a “what’s next” stage in their life. Let us not waste our educations working towards getting a career in an area we dislike just because we think it will make the big bucks later on. I believe this wholeheartedly, in this day and age we youngsters have to create our own forms of stability in whichever career we choose to pursue. So it is important, now more than ever, that we enjoy what it is we’re dedicating our lives to. Because if we love what we do, we’ll do it with more effort, passion, dedication, and we’ll execute at 150%, that’s just what millennials do. I’d rather be a struggling artist working hard to make a living and satisfying my vocation than a struggling anything else because nothing is for certain anymore, not even becoming a doctor. I might as well do what makes me happy and I hope you do the same. x NEXT





“Next, please!” The customer shuffled forward with her cart full of various goods threatening to topple over at any given moment. She gave a sheepish smile to the young man at the till as she gingerly set the items on the conveyor belt, one by one. He absently plucked each item from it as they rolled toward him, scanning the barcode without thought. It was as though it had become second nature to him. What took his attention, however, were his galloping thoughts. You’ll never get out of this dump, he thought to himself. You know you’ll never be hired for a better job than this. Be happy that you’ve even got one. After he had already filled the first bag, he realized he hadn’t even paid attention to what the woman was buying. Troubling himself to look, he saw boxes of crackers, juice boxes, and fruitflavoured gummies. He didn’t remember what she looked like, even after having seen her face only a few moments ago, but he could only guess she was buying lunch supplies for her children. Monday morning would come within only a few short hours, after all. How old were they? Did they have any allergies? Were their immunization records up to date? He swiped the next item through the scanner. “Are you alright, sir?” the woman asked, her lips pressed into a thin line. “Huh?” He quickly shook his head. “Oh, uh, yes! Yes, of course.” If only that were true, his mind replied. Wishing to avoid another inquiry, he hastily pushed the other items past the scanner and nearly threw them into the plastic bags. “That’ll be $30.78, ma’am.” The woman paid, gathered her bags, and headed on her way. “I can help the next person in line!” he called out. An elderly man with a weathered, shaky hand, set down a bottle of painkillers, drawing his hand back slowly. He scanned the item and dropped it into a plastic bag. “Will that be all for today, sir?”

“Yes,” he said, taking his debit card out of his wallet. “You know, I worked at a grocery store just like this one when I was your age.” The cashier hummed a reply, not offering much else as a response. “I hated it there,” he continued, “but, nonetheless, I was there for three years. I kept searching for work, only to find nothing.” “That sucks,” the young man said, voice flat. The customer chuckled. “That it did. Yet, one day, I finally found a nice desk job thanks to a friend of mine. I worked there for fourty years; I just retired a few years ago.” Lucky bastard, he thought, forcing his lips to curl into a thin smile. “That’s nice,” he mumbled. He printed and tore off the man’s receipt. When it was held out for him, he took the paper and stuffed it in his pocket. “And what are you planning to do after this? Surely, you’re not going to be working here forever.” The cashier shrugged. “Well, you look like a bright young man,” he said with a smile. “How old are you?” “27.” “Ah, you’ve got your whole life ahead of you still!” The young man frowned, looking at the conveyer belt and feeling only mildly pleased to see that there was no one else waiting in line. “I just graduated and…” He let out a weary sigh. “I can’t find work. I went to med school and graduated with the highest GPA out of my class, even though I could hardly bring myself to get out of bed each morning. I’m drowning in student loans, and here I am scanning groceries when I should be diagnosing patients.” He ran a hand through his short hair. “All that time, all that money…wasted.” “Why the long face? You’ve still got plenty of time to find work. Before you know it, you’ll be on to the next thing. Don’t give up just yet. Remember: it took me three years to find a job and I thought I would never get out of there. Be patient.” The man took his bag, smiling at him. “I hope to see you in a clinic some day.” With that, he hobbled away with his cane, leaving the young cashier with the hope of wearing a white labcoat by next year. x NEXT






and dousing rods Compass rose and idle gods Severed pea from mother pod Looking for a sign


Torment in the lost and found Snakes and ladders to the ground Ghosts are wandering all around Sick of haunting us Whom who’ve said that life is short Accepting nothing in retort Don’t they know that it is sort Of all we’ve ever known? With fervent hope I wish to you A story told the whole way through The manuscript is almost due Sooner than you think Writer’s hands from racing time Half-blood prince who’s almost mine Hands still searching for a sign But one does not exist Cheers to all the ones who’ve asked The first and patient shall be last Questions from the pew, alas Have not yet found resolve Turnstile talks, revolver’s tear Rock the boat in public sphere Plagued still by Shakespearean fears Humanity is young Hubris comes to cultivate Pedigree of human fate Rusty road to devil’s gate Paved with good intentions All in time, no less no more History will count its score Hindsight heeds a lesson for Patrons meeting death x






Gray mushrooms and white zigzags, Indigo puffs and transparent little spheres. Ah, the weeping has begun, my child. Time to rejoice! Time to dance, twirl, and explore. Soak up that sadness and turn it into joy. Nothing can stop you from casting your spells. I remember a time when things were easy. I must be lying; things were never easy. A more accurate word to describe the situation is simple, and simple does not always mean easy. Yes, it has been a very long while since things were simple. Back then, I would have a yellow raincoat on the moment I smelled the sting of rainwater on pavement. My little hands would fight with my stubborn boots, with some assistance from my wiggling toes. Once I was fully dressed, I would be ready to be unleashed. Charging out of my front door would always ruin my hair. Black tendrils would hit my face as I turned into the beast that all puddles feared: The Stomper. The Stomper was very ritualistic when it hunted its prey. After bursting from its cavern, it would circle around regions commonly populated with puddles. First, the front porch, followed by the driveway, the entire sidewalk, and, finally, the short stretch of public street in front of the house. The biggest puddles would be the first victims. The Stomper was cat-like in hunting style. It would crouch into a tiny ball, wrapping arms around knees bent as low to the ground as possible. The metamorphosis would have still allowed its head to survey the area as the little monster waddled closer to its puddle. At about one foot from the distorted circle of water’s edge, The Stomper would prepare to jump. It had to make sure that its short yellow coattails were extended to maximize flight distance. The Stomper only loved her yellow raincoat because of that feature. Three, two, one: liftoff! That was when time would start slowing instantly. Eyes trained on my prize, I would hear the

wind whistle and feel some more strands of hair plastered on my face. As soon as my boots hit the surface of the water, I would hear a single snap of fingers and the regular pace of time would resume. I would see a wall of water rise higher and higher until it would tower over me, and here was when the magic would happen. Maybe it was because I was so young, but seeing that wall of water would remind me of a mirror. Looking at my reflection, I would no longer see myself in a tight yellow raincoat. I would see my inner Stomper evolve again into a different shape, something not as ugly as that round human ball. A smile would spread across my face as I imagined that ball as malleable, like play-doh. My brain would envision my hands shaping the ball into an adult doing important adult things. From every puddle I attacked, a new mirror would be another chance for me to create my future. I would be a violinist in one, a writer in another, and a lawyer in yet another. There was never a second when I would doubt my capabilities. When I was a child, the water in every puddle was clear. This made dreaming simple. Now, so many years later, the water is muddy, polluted from the dirt stuck to the bottom of every pair of boots I have outgrown. The dirt accumulates from learning of consequences, reaching limits, and simply accepting the box-like nature of reality. When the next rainstorm comes, will jumping in puddles still be worth doing? Maybe. I do not need the rain to keep myself malleable anymore. The road ahead may not be clear, but I know that the sun will shine its rays on a path one day once those indigo puffs have gone. x






Study, work a steady job, money first, fun second, marry a well established man‌

Some would say that I am starting a new chapter in my life in the next two months. But it feels more like I am putting a book down and going to an entirely new genre, on the other side of the bookstore, one I have never explored. I am blind, lost and as unprepared as one could be, yet I am being pushed out of the book I have called home for the past 14 years into another story nonetheless. I have made some discoveries and decisions in the past few months that have altered my path entirely. For a long time I thought this path could only exist in my dreams, where the truths I was too afraid to face could be out in the open, where my parents would understand and accept me for the wanderlust soul I am, in all realms of life. It was just this unachievable dream, yet here I am. The truths are my reality, standing with a small backpack filled with the things I’ve learned over the past 21 years ready to go down a new path, similar to a child waiting for the bus on her first day of school. This next point in my life is so frightening because if I fail, I am fucked. Completely. When I was a kid if I made a mistake I still had a roof over my head and food on the table, the security of my life went about unchanged. Now here I am as an adult, something I do not feel comfortable being. My mind still functions like a child, with dreams of living in a forest and watching sunsets with the love of my life. However, that security is gone, the comfort and warmth of those pages are closing without me nestled into the spine. I don’t want to be an adult. Or at least embody the characteristics people believe make up an adult. Study, work a steady job, money first, fun second, marry a well established man, and so on. I have spent countless sleepless nights trying to convince myself that saying no to a path that will fulfill my spirit, will fulfill my wallet and the idea of being a successful adult. Even so, I find myself about to embark into this next book that will not result in a big fat wallet. You will go in the direction your heart is meant to take, whether you fight it or celebrate it. I have decided to celebrate it, with all its future failures and successes. x








What does next contain? Most of an exit The whole of a net And a hole in the net That needs the “I” to make an exit Because you need to be the one to get up and leave. Most of the text sent by a previous best That also needs to exit That requires a new “T” for the text and the same “I” required to make an exit But together this “it”, it is difficult to conjure up A piece of a tent, missing the end Half of a place to rest And just a little more next needed to go from rest to reset Yet with resent just as far away from reset It matters what you put in and take out in order to mold your next. What contains next? Extant has all parts of next with a bit of “at” Like at morning, when you await a new day with hope And like at night, when the closing flutter of your eyelids awaits another start Existence also has all parts of next but with an extra “I see” and “I c” Because it takes the eye of the mind to distinguish the previous from the remaining from the upcoming Because it takes perspective to define progression Because I see that when I c from a different way, I b a different person and I B OK . Next door Next year Next to more Next to fear-less Next seat over Next night sober Next friend Next end. The possibilities are end-less. The depth of your world can expand Like how next can be rearranged to be given a different meaning, When you see what you can do with all that you are and all that you have. You just need to add sometimes, remove other times And take a step back, in order to get something new. x




A Question of Superheroes The 9 superhero movies released in 2016 grossed a cut $1,898,026,521. This was over 16.87 percent of the market share for movies on the big screen. This is the highest superhero market share since Batman Forever grossed $356,639,597 in 1995. People have a need to tell stories about superheroes. Holy books speak about individuals with the ability to walk on water, with superhuman strength, who can shape shift, and time travel. Superhero movies are modern folktales. When a folktale is passed on, it takes on the characteristics of the time and place in which they are told. Although their forms change—IMAX and 3D—their function remains the same. Superhero movies amplify the virtues and expose the mores and fears of their time. They show our fears without giving us the burden of taking ownership of them. So why do we spend so much money on them; what do we value, what are we scared of? Captain America Winter Soldier embodied rising panics of the surveillance state. It captured the eroding trust of citizens in government and exposed the consequences of excessive government overreach. Since 9/11, Western Governments and citizens have been forced to debate the trade-off between privacy and security, and ultimately, what happens when data is used against the people it is meant to protect. The climax of this movie features a surveillance hovercraft crashing into the S.H.I.E.L.D headquarters, reminiscent of the twin tower crash of September 11, 2001. In an age of rising partisanship and the politicization of everything, Captain America Civil War tells the story of a community at war with itself. The question this movie asks is, should the government regulate superheroes? Captain America says no. Iron Man says yes. The result; a superhero civil war. As team Iron Man and team Captain America struggle, they lose sight of the destruction they leave in their wake. Suicide Squad models the narrative of the recently concluded US presidential elections. For most of the campaign, 56


the conversation revolved around Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump as morally bankrupt and deeply compromised characters. Regardless of which you choose, you are still settling for a type of evil. Suicide Squad was the perfect representation of a government when its country has run out of heroes. They turn to the villains to save the day. If you walked into Superman vs. Batman to see a superhero movie, you were probably disappointed. Underneath its narrative is a story about the ongoing tensions between people and God. This story explores how humans respond to powers they cannot control. The superhero movies of 2016 are especially interesting because of how flawed their protagonists are, and how complicated the villains appear to be. The year featured more poignant narratives about heroes at war with themselves than they did about heroes at war with villains. Ultimately, all the stories return to a central premise. The problem with superheroes is not that they have superpowers, but that they are human. The villains and heroes trope is not sustainable in 2016 and is no longer relevant in contemporary culture. On the contrary, we find the narratives of the disgruntled, perplexed heroes and villains more compelling. We do not believe in heroes anymore. Beyond the flashing lights, stellar abs CGI effects, sub-par acting, and larger-than-life cinematography, superheroes remind us deeply of our human experience. These movies reflect our larger cultural climate. Superhero movies in 2016 tell us that we no longer believe in superheroes. They tell us that we have lost trust in government institutions. And our society is at war with itself. Although they call us to suspend our belief and dwell in temporary escapism, they expose the objects of our greatest fears. That is why we go back to them. They allow us to watch our demise from a safe distance, with popcorn. x




It’s been ten years since Rudo has been back to this place, to this house that used to be a home. The afternoon light hits the greenery, the lavender, daffodils and jacaranda trees. Their strong scent take her down memory lane, reminding her of how she used to love playing in the backyard of this house as a young girl. She can see everyone vividly in her mind—her cousins playing hide-and-go-seek or her grandmother knitting in the shade. Rudo can still hear the cacophony of deafening laughter and cries. Afternoons by the pool, without a care in the world. It’s been a couple of hours since she’s been back. Trying to soak up all the warmth, energy and memories the sun has to offer. But as the sun sets she quickly remembers how “all good things must come to an end”. For many, sunsets symbolize beauty and teem with mystery and anticipation for the day to follow. But for her, sunsets were and are still shrouded in fear and uncertainty of what is to come. Rudo clearly remembers the first time she saw him lurking in the shadows. It was after a long afternoon of playing hide-and-go-seek and she’d forgotten her sweater in the backyard. Oblivious and unaware of a silhouette waiting in a hidden part outside the house, Rudo found herself speechless when she finally caught sight of him. He was waiting. Waiting for a response or a reaction. But alas, nothing came out. Since then her nights were clouded by paranoia and feelings of having to look over her shoulder. The nights she was unfortunate enough to spot him in the darkness, her twelve year old self would think, “Next time, I’ll scream”, “Next time I’ll kick him right where it hurts”, “Next time I’ll do something”. But when the “next time” came around Rudo was always rendered voiceless and numb. Unable to understand what was set before her or why she felt she had to suffer in silence.



But that was then and this is now. It’s been ten years and yet the pain is still so raw and the fear is still so real.

Sometimes those shadows haunt her in her sleep and her mind can’t seem to shut them out. As she gets ready to jump back into her car to finally head home, she can’t help but think of a Bantu proverb she once read. “The eye never forgets what the heart has seen”. For her no truer words have ever been written. Even though her childhood memories are tainted by the horror she experienced, Rudo still awaits the next time she will face the spirit that lurked in the shadows all those years ago. Maybe then she’ll have the courage to do something. x






A Lifetime of Millennials “Can you believe my luck? I literally got four hours of sleep last night, had an 8:30 a.m. lecture this morning that I missed because I was so exhausted, and then I forgot to charge my phone so my battery has been dead all morning!” one of the girls exclaimed. “I know! I’m honestly just looking forward to summer and the semester’s only just begun!” her brunette friend exclaimed loudly even as several people turned around to glare at her. I have been sitting in this tiny coffee shop called Granny’s Sweets for the past hour as part of my daily morning ritual, inhabiting my corner bench, once the colour of blood red and now worn away by time and memories. The wooden shelves on the wall opposite to the large bay windows are shaky and sagging under the burden of stories past and conversations present, croaking with exhaustion or shaking with laughter at every utter in the crowded seating area. The floor creaked with every step, a voice of its own adding to the cacophony of spoken words, clinking of silverware, and shrieks of scalding tea. As I waited for Graham to arrive, I couldn’t help but overhear the conversation of the young ladies as they prattled on about their day. I glanced at my watch and rolled my eyes. It’s bloody noon right now and they’re already complaining about the fact that they can actually afford an education. Kids nowadays are born with silver spoons in their mouths. They can’t appreciate the opportunities life gives them simply because they have always been taught to demand. With a snap of their fingers they think things will appear magically. How about try working for a day in your life? I knew part of me was being a little too harsh, but when you grew up as I did, with war waging on and an economic crisis on our hands, you become a little less patient with the

meaningless grudges of the modern generation. I tried to tune out their conversation to spare myself the headache of constant judgment, but alas my corner seat—a daily refuge from the foolishness of youth like these young ladies—could not provide my mind the protection of sanity today. So I sat there, waited, listened, and judged. — It was dawn, and the sun had only just opened its eyes when the young man, not more than the age of sixteen, quietly opened the side door and tiptoed out of his house onto the morning dew covering the fertile soil. As soon as he closed the door, he ran towards the nearby stables to find his favourite stallion, only looking behind periodically for any sign of the stormy figure of his father or the unamused one of his mother. Spying no one, he smirked mischievously and opened the stable doors. It was only a few moments before he was seated perfectly atop his thoroughbred horse, one that his father had paid a pretty penny for. The purebred was a beast, one that refused to be dominated by any human and certainly did not have patience for fools. It had many a times unseated riders who would previously boast of their superior skills, and the boy would simply laugh at all of them. This was his daily ritual, riding the horse through the surrounding harsh terrain that overlooked the distant mountains, envisioning himself standing at the top of the intimidating peaks, the world at his feet. The birds were chirping when he got back to the stables, where all the euphoria of his excursion—along with the colour NEXT


of his face—evaporated as he found his father waiting outside the empty stall where his horse had previously been. He gulped audibly. “Father, I can explain.” His father narrowed his eyes. “Go on then, boy, let me hear what words of wisdom led to this blatant disobedience.” The boy’s eyes widened, a vivid green now burning brighter with guilt and apprehension. “Father, I have been locked inside the house all day yesterday! You do not realize—I studied so hard for my lessons for hours, father, and then mother would not even let me play with the farm boys. It was so unfair, father, why cannot I have some fun in my life? It was only a quick ride, and I did not go far! I am sorry, father, but you have to see my side. I only wanted some freedom, and nothing happened to me.” His father did not speak for the next few minutes, seemingly collecting his thoughts and possibly tempering his words before he unleashed his wrath. “Do you realize, Simon, how much danger your life could possibly have been in? These are not safe lands, not at this time when I must leave you soon to go to war and you must look after your mother. There are bad men out there, men who would not think twice before hurting you. Even this beast could have thrown you off in a ditch! To leave early in the morning for a ride without informing us for the sake of your freedom? You are not a little boy anymore, Simon. I expected you to behave like a man and not the little boy you have acted as today, selfishly looking towards your own enjoyment with no consideration of the issues that I must deal with to keep this family safe.” As his father turned around and walked away, disappointment apparent in his posture, the young boy bowed his head. He knew that he had hurt his father with his thoughtless actions, but was it so bad to demand a little freedom from daily life for a little while? — I was still sitting there, sipping my now cold tea as the bell above the door rang once more. I had stopped turning around to check by now, but I finally breathed a sigh of relief as I heard the unmistakable sound of Graham’s oversized boots pounding on the floorboards. A moment later, he clapped me hard on the shoulder, chuckling as he sat down in front of me. “You could not have taken any longer today. If I have to hear the complaints of these girls for another second, my head will explode. How ungrateful this new generation is, only thinking about the superficial things and not of what really matters. When they start paying their own bills, then they’ll realize sometimes you have to work for things in life,” I said. Graham just chuckled and said, “Ah, if I didn’t know better, I’d think you’d become a grumpy old man, Simon. Lighten up a little. They’re just kids still.” I turned sideways to look at the girls once again, only to quickly flip back around to make my actions less obvious. As I turned, I caught a glance of my reflection in the nearby glass case, and for a moment I saw it blend with that of the girls sitting nearby. I blinked and looked away. x




Feeling sleepy Seconds inhale, My exhausted spirit No voices to be heard No shadows to enunciate, The silence of this loneliness Lonelier than a planet with no stars Is my presence… A flower with no scent That hesitates to blossom Yet, Roots are sacrificed Sunlight is in tears When seeing a dead paradise Life that entails no tails, Is suicide Dripping drops of sweat Cultivate And irrigate, Trees of agony Hope exceeds pain Live within the frames, Of time’s nudity Morphine and coffee Numbness and hurry Curb your destiny This is the century With no serenity x NEXT



Next Episode Playing in




s ond sec


Raise your hand if you get a rush when you see the countdown as you await the next episode of your show on Netflix.

Me, too (and I am assuming at least one of you reading this put their hand up, so humour me). Netflix has become a very prevalent force in my life, and the anticipation between episodes has become one of the most exhilarating parts of my day. It promises new content, more drama, and a resolution to those damn cliffhangers. As much as I hate them, Netflix owes much of its success to the moment at the end of an episode that leaves you with unanswered questions and unfinished stories. You become caught in an addictive cycle of wanting to know more while having that knowledge so immediately available. As a fourth-year student with graduation looming, the end of this year is in a way my very own cliffhanger. It’s suspenseful, it’s uncertain, and it’s exciting. It’s also terrifying. Even though I may have an idea of my next plan, it does not take away the fear of being plunged into the ‘real’ world. I am both ready to launch myself out of my chair while my hands cling to the armrests to which I have become accustomed, leaving me suspended in between. In a way, life can be viewed as a series of cliffhangers. Between surprise deadlines, graduation, changes in your relationship status, and even our inevitable mortality, these moments are when you realize that you do not know what happens on the other side. These instances pop up and push us to seek resolutions while modifying and reshaping how we exist in the world; the darker moments in my life have broadened my empathy. They create suspense in our lives and make them exciting, scary, and worth living. A life without cliffhangers would be a numb and unbroken droll, though perhaps this is a form of sensationalism learned from my ever-expanding Netflix list. What we choose to do with these cliffhangers is pivotal. For we have the agency to pick our own adventure. So how do we decide? Cliffhangers are very different in life than in a Netflix binge. Netflix gives you the option to click your way through to the next

episode, where the cliffhanger is hopefully resolved. In fact, you may not need to click at all. Netflix does all the heavy lifting for you. The dramatic endings and mere 15 second transitions are marketing ploys to keep you wired in. These shows are tailored to keep you tied to the edge of your seat, maybe to leap out but only to return. Life, however, does not provide you with simple solutions at the touch of a finger. Cliffhangers in life, on the other hand, are inconsistent, bumpy, and sometimes very poorly timed. We can be much more eager to know what happens next in a fictional character’s life than our own. These moments in real life can be much scarier up close leading some of us to seek an escape, perhaps by watching that new show Netflix is not-sosubtly advertising (Santa Clarita Diet anyone?). Too often people use TV characters to shape their choices. I have been guilty of this. Many late nights I think about the unbreakable strength of Danaerys (pre-Mireen) as motivation to keep studying or looked to the abundance of Shonda’s lectures on relationships told through Grey’s Anatomy in navigating my romantic life. Netflix is entertainment. When it begins to warp how we understand reality, it is crucial to sit back and understand what it is that we are being taught. That all-nighter I pulled could have been prevented had I chosen to space out my studying instead of attempting to follow the study patterns of certain TV characters. That relationship may not have ended had I chosen to listen to my heart instead of the advice of people who are not even real. We need to be active in making our life fit our unique selves, not to mimic the clandestine journeys of our favourite TV show character. So maybe we don’t get a simple 15 seconds before life fixes our situation. But maybe that is a gift we should treasure. x






I will sleep and forget everything. For a while I will be dead. And when my heart beats again, when the rooster crows, I will wake I will dawn another mask Will my mask fit today? Will I find it? Will it break? Perhaps my beating heart will stop instead But the mask fits, it always does My mask fits around my beating, beating heart. thump, thump. Will the mask not break? thump. thump. Perhaps my beating, beating heart will stop instead Time is a tyrant, playing a game of Let’s Pretend thump. thump. x









Purpose to Our Pain



discover, with a hope of accepting the outcome of who we truly could be. Can that be accomplished on a road trip, a Europe trip, in a hot bath, from a bad breakup, a good laugh, an early morning kayak on a quiet lake? Do I long to be rid of this journey that has no end? To be a bird in flight, unaware and uninterested? Is ignorance really bliss? Or is bliss caught in those moments? Those moments draped over time on top of a mountain singing Oh Canada, or watching the sunrise on the beach in Barcelona, the seductive smell of Monet’s garden in the summertime? We have the ability to ask these questions of ourselves and our experiences. Although, I never could find a clear answer. Those moments of intake, the blissful moments, do not have anything to do with human ignorance. Fleeting moments of awareness are born to tempt us to the next mountain, the next inhale. Or else we’ll be depleted, and unappreciative of the view.

Why is it that human beings are plagued with selfdiscovery, self-acceptance, and self-awareness while the rest of the world cannot be concerned with such trifles? We have this need to evolve within ourselves. To discover, not only what’s around us but who we are. I wonder if birds in flight appreciate the view? Hopefully not. Because then they would compare and prefer, as we do. Plagued with this awareness, we go out and

Is this our purpose? To be aware in our selves and our position in the world? To question the journey as we move through it on our own separate and global path? But what journey can be had if the world is crumbling? If the world is doomed, then why join hands and march? Is the company in the misery of others really what keeps us together at this time? Or is it the company of the miserably undefeated what keeps us strong? Yes, us. This is the key, together as one. Enthusiastically aware of difference. Our faults are of our obsession with a show or a song, of our awkwardness, our fatal love of sleep and wine. Not our religion. Not our different skin or flag colours. Not of who we love or who we are. These are our strengths. They unite us as a diverse One and cannot nor will not divide us. No boundaries exist for those who see past the superficial. We together can find purpose. A purpose to our pain. We’ll move past this feeling of defeat and use it to keep the peace for ourselves and our worth. Our purpose will be our strength, to take strength and give strength to those in need. Our purpose can be our journey to find the commonalities and the differences between us. Our purpose is our unity. Our unity in love. x

Over and

Over Again





Don’t invade Russia when winter is coming. Humans love conflict. Hypernationalism is dangerous. The rich want to get richer. A fear of the other. Finding “new and improved” ways of oppressing groups of people. Mass oppression will lead to a revolution in democracies. These vague themes have been present throughout recorded human history. The Ancient Greeks and Romans had noted the cyclical nature of time through the concept of cyclos. The most emphasized factor in history repeating itself to them was the inevitability for any society’s fortune to reverse and then ascend gradually. To take good fortune for granted was to lose grasp on the threats that can destroy any regime. Our present understanding of time, however, is a lot more linear as it subscribes to the Judeo-Christian perception of time. Over a millennium after the Ancient Greeks predicted historical cycling, in the 15th century, every first-year-politicalscience student’s favourite philosopher, Niccolò Machiavelli, introduced a more relevant analysis of how cyclos applies to modern states. He explained that states would fluctuate between “order” and “disorder” so that there is the opportunity for collapse from The Golden Age and rebuilding from the Dark Ages of repression and depravity. I am not a historian, but I end up taking History courses every year because I find that there is no better way to help frame current issues in our world. History classes shed light on what led to the current status quo and power afforded to certain demographics. Usually, violence and oppression are used to get to the top. Outside of class, I notice that most interpersonal conflicts (be it with a rude customer or a family member) are a power struggle. Money is about power because money speaks. War is, of course, about power. Social activism is about reclaiming some power. Colonization is about taking the physical land away from others to exert power over them. George Santayana, a Spanish philosopher who lived through both World Wars and the Spanish Civil War, famously said, “Those who don’t know history are doomed to repeat it.” I partially agree with Santayana’s observation because ignorance is the cause for a lot of poorly made decisions and discriminatory attitudes. Historical patterns are not studied carefully enough, and we are left reeling and aghast at the horrific lengths humans will go to win wars and conflicts. Tragedies like the Armenian genocide, the Holocaust, the Cambodian, Guatemalan, Rwandan and Bosnian genocides

that killed so many millions all occurred within 80 years. It is astounding how humans are willing to commit the same brutality this many times within just 80 years. How does it get to the point where grasping power leads to the marginalization, dehumanization, and then massacre of millions of politically marginalized people? (Sorry, this article got so serious, I know a lot of good has changed in the last century too.) However, I do not think ignorance necessarily caused tragedies to repeat. I think tragedies occur when there is a collapse of empathy for other humans, when social dynamics are shifting or in peril and there is the need to blame something or someone concrete. People are reduced to crude stereotypes. Historical repetition is more so due to the consistency of human nature and foolishness. I honestly think the full range of human emotions has entirely been felt before. We are new cells replacing the old and going through the motions again—existing in patterns the world recognizes but with more and more advanced technology. The same reason individuals tend to make the same mistakes more than once proves our natural irrationality. Governments and regimes are complicated bureaucratic structures, but are no less prone to stupidity—carried away by the whims of fallible human beings. The repetition of history actually exists on a spectrum because we individually make the same mistakes, like getting into the relationship with the same type of problematic partner, or neglecting to start studying for an exam earlier. These day-to-day problems that we all face seem inconsequential, but they demonstrate the steadfastness of our faults despite the option to change. Despite life arguably being the most comfortable and convenient it has ever been for many and despite possessing the most advanced technology in the history of humankind at our fingertips, why does the brutality, the suffering, and the inequality endure? Everything is changing on the surface but our private desires, hopes, and tendencies remain remarkably stable. We end up in the same patterns of destruction, despair, reconstruction, and longing. We end up in the same patterns because technology changes but human nature does not change significantly. Perhaps the human capability to get back up again is motivating because it requires an enduring amount of hope. Perhaps the human capacity to get back up again is disconcerting because eventually the fortunes will reverse again and it’s all a part of the human condition. Just try not to invade Russia when winter is coming. x



clocktower paradox

being human (and a creature of habit after all), my friday night routine has been virtually the same for as long as i can remember. i have always sat on the left-most side of the couch; which is the only spot where you can feel yourself sinking into orange leather (a bit like quicksand, i’d like to believe) and with the volume turned up to precisely 48 points, i have always watched ‘back to the future’ on friday nights. always. naturally, being human with the propensity to make more mistakes than i am willing to admit, the idea of going back in time always has been (and still is) particularly appealing.



especially when i feel like i’ve made the most terrible mistake in the entire world, and hurt is a heavy ache that i wish i didn’t know. in those moments, time travel sounds particularly brilliant.

but you see, there is a catch. the very concept of traveling to the past violates one of the most fundamental premises of physics: that of causality. by advertently changing the course of history i can undo my mistakes however i could inadvertently undo all the non-mistakes as well. and the millions upon trillions of amazing moments that collectively crafted my existence would suddenly dissipate into




. . .



the very thought of all that undoing of everything i’ve ever known of everything that i am is rather intimidating. to think that for every second that i stay in the past, i lose a part of myself makes me wonder how many tomorrows i’d be willing to trade in for a single second in the past. being human, i think i’ll always want what i can’t have but i guess, that’s okay because when i think about it, really think about it

i’d rather be than right here and right now. fact is every second of my past every decision i’ve made every whim i’ve had every person i’ve met every mistake i regret has in some way or other made me the me i am today. from time to time, i will have a bad day and time travel will sound equal parts brilliant and impossible if that is the case, all i must remember is this: also fact is that every new day is a new beginning; a new right here a new right now for the me that i can become. and that too is brilliant. x

consistency paradoxes closed casual loops multiverse all considered there is no place







What happens when a piece is written collaboratively? In this issue of Incite, we conducted an experiment. We created a public online document and allowed our contributors and readers to write a story—each using only around a paragraph, one after another. The result is an unconventional, free-flowing narrative that reflects every unique writer as they added their own interpretations and imagination to what has been written before them.

Fridays were always the dreariest days. They showed no mercy. The relentless gaze of the clock ticked on, steeping Prudence further into a stagnant stupor. Prudence always felt she was misnamed. Her eyes glazed over her calendar to no end, the pages seemed to forget to end. Prudence began to feel disconnected from her body as her mind wandered through her memories, slowly fading into her past. But our story does not begin with the Prudence of today, but rather the Prudence of the past and of the future. Be mindful: this story is not just about Prudence, but each and every person, every moment, and every thought that has affected her life in one way or another. Raindrops streamed grey and sullen down the windowpane beside her, but she no longer saw them. Instead, her mind continued to drift to that day so long ago—another gloomy Friday when she went wandering out on the escarpment and met Marjory. Marjory, with her swirling skirts and mischievous smirk that glinted in her hazel-grey eyes. Marjory, with her mugs of tea as big as teapots. “Conversation is always best held over tea,” she would say, and so that day the new friends shared their first pots of tea. “Do you think the conflicting writing styles makes this narrative hard to read?” Asked Prudence. “What?” Replied Marjory. “Nothing.” Prudence shook her head in disappointment towards her friend. “How’s your tea?” Prudence floated back to the present. She did not remember how the tea on that rainy afternoon tasted. She just remembered the disappointment that tasted like Earl Grey; maybe she did remember the tea after all. Tea fixes everything. The aromatic herbs, just cool enough not to burn the tongue, slowly steeped her insides and stirred 76


the mental build-up that was beginning to make Prudence boil. The tea would fix everything. It had to. It always did. “Too bad they ran out of peppermint,” Prudence thought out loud. She moved her gaze from the rain outside and glanced up at the menu board; she finally knew what she wanted to drink. Prudence walked up to counter as she smiled from ear to ear. “I’ll have an English Breakfast with two milks and one spoon of honey.” The man behind the counter laughed. “That’s my favourite drink.” He wrote her order on the white paper cup, and waved over the next customer. Prudence wanted a change. A change, not just with the variety of her tea, but with her whole existence. Her mind floated to another world, another dimension, another time. “…Change.” Prudence mumbled to herself in reality. “Oh sorry…” The cashier replied, “Here’s your fifty five cents in change.” Prudence took the money, bemused by the man’s interpretation. She turned around and walked towards her seat, her mind still swirling with thoughts. Immediately, she lost her balance and found herself sprawled on the floor, hot coffee spreading across her skirt. “I’m so sorry!” An old man in a well-cut suit smiled sheepishly at her, an empty coffee cup in his hand. Prudence abruptly realized she had dropped her coins upon colliding with the old man. She tore her gaze from his expression in time to see her change roll away to disappear amongst the forest of feet and chair legs on the coffee shop floor. The last piece of change teetered to a stop by the toe of one of the old man’s immaculately polished shoes. Just beside the coin, she could see her face, reflected back in the cared-for leather. Head the size of a quarter, she barely

recognized herself. It’s hard to see when your mind is spinning along with the hum of the shop, Prudence thought. Prudence glanced down at her skirt again. The man who had spilled his coffee appeared from behind her with a fist full of napkins. “I am truly sorry hun,” the older man began to explain himself while shoving his handful of napkins in her direction. “It’s okay, this is an old skirt anyways,” Prudence replied with a smile. She took the napkins and patted down her lap where the coffee had splashed, then joined the man in soaking up the puddle of coffee on the floor. Prudence proceeded to go back to the counter for her tea then returned to her seat looking out the window. As she sat there, the whiff of coffee coming from her skirt reminded her of her grandfather. He would drink coffee after every meal of the day. He was an intelligent fellow and always gave Prudence the best life advice. Whenever they went to Montreal for a visit, Prudence would wake up before the sun rose and go downstairs for a cup of tea. Her grandfather would already be in the kitchen He would be sitting on the leftmost stool at the table, coffee in hand and tobacco pipe hanging from his mouth. Prudence loved this time with him; she enjoyed the chance to have him all to herself, to hear the wonderful stories he would craft for her. On the last visit, it had been a series of stories about her grandmother. She listened closely, enraptured by the tales of such a fearless woman and her loving husband. The memory, like her skirt, was stained with sadness. Her grandfather had passed not long after and they hadn’t been to Montreal since. Prudence shook her head to clear her thoughts. She never understood what it was with coffee shops and reminiscing about the past. She’d really just come for the tea. From the corner of her eye she noticed a man settle himself into his customary spot across the room. As per usual, he took out his blue notebook and began writing. He paused occasionally to sip his coffee but never looked up. She wondered what was he writing about. Coffee shops were odd places, thought Prudence. Filled with writers and thinkers who sipped coffee, alone in their own minds. Sometimes a couple of friends would take over a table, catching up on their busy lives. Or you’d eavesdrop on a couple on their first date. But mostly, the white noise and hum of the

coffee machines helped you fade in and out of consciousness. Coffee shop dwellers merely occupied the same physical space; this was a haven for those more enraptured by their own worlds than reality. And who could blame them? “What?” Marjory demanded of Prudence. “You’ve got that look again. Stop romanticizing whatever you’re romanticizing. Did you even hear what I just said?” “Sorry, I’m feeling slightly out of it today,” Prudence admitted. “Anyways, what were you saying?” “I was just pointing out how the man with the blue notebook seems to be glancing at you quite often,” Marjory commented with a smirk. Prudence looked at the direction that Marjory’s head was tilting towards. There he was across the room—a man in a V-neck cashmere sweater, cupping his hands around the mug of coffee that had already turned cold. He was no longer writing and was instead staring at the bottom of his mug, in search for a thought, a memory, or an object that he had relinquished since childhood. She paused for a moment, curious at how the curtains spilled splashes of shifting shadows on him. And then, their eyes met. What would happen, if she went over and spoke to him? Prudence’s wandering mind shifted from reminiscing on the past to sketching out a possible future. She’d sit down, they’d introduce themselves, and she’d ask what he was writing about. They’d find something beautifully in common in each other’s thoughts, and something charming in each other’s smiles. A classic first meeting. That was one future. Back in the present, Prudence watched as the man gave her a shy little grin. She smiled back, but as she did her mind kept churning out future after possible future. One where she sat down to talk and gave him her number, but they never spoke again. One where she went home instead, and he just remained a guy she’d seen in a coffee shop. Preoccupied as she was, she didn’t notice he was gone until he sat down across from her. x

Writers (in order of contribution): Angela Dong, Sonia Leung, Shawnee Matinnia, Rebecca Bauman, Hamid Yuksel, Macklin Loosley-Millman, Peter Youssef, Patricia Lora, Carly Van Egdom, Josh Ravenhill, Andrea Abeysekara, Nicholas Schmid, Alison St. Pierre, Jasmyne Smith, Alexandra Marcaccio, Valerie Luetke, Nabeelah Khan, Sunny Yun, Annie Yu, Catherine Hu, Jen Scora NEXT



INCITE MAGAZINE VOLUME 19, ISSUE 4 “NEXT” Published April 2017 Incite Magazine is McMaster University’s creative arts and writing publication. We aim to unite a community of creatives by promoting self-expression, collaboration, and dialogue within our university campus and the city of Hamilton. Every aspect of Incite’s writing, graphics, design, multimedia and event production is carried out by our wonderful student volunteers. If you’d like to get involved, feel free to get in touch by emailing @incitemagazine

Editor-in-Chief Jason Lau Art Direction Lauren Gorfinkel Managing Editor Sunny Yun Copy Editors Takhliq Amir, Angela Dong, Catherine Hu, Emma Hudson, Rachel Guitman, Nimra Khan, Henry Krahn, Aminata Mageraga, Alexandra Marcaccio, Jennifer Scora, Coby Zucker In-House Artists Mimi Deng, Shirley Deng, Lauren Gorfinkel, Theresa Orsini Art Curators Alexandra Decata, Camelia McLeod, Imasha Perera Layout Designers Matthew Lam, Sonia Leung, Angela Ma, Tram Nguyen, Gabby Yoo Promotions Coordinator Dana Hill Cover Credits Intra-Urban Lust by Kayla Da Silva Interstellar (haiku) by Sonia Leung

Contributors (Writers) Andrea Abeysekara, Takhliq Amir, Rebecca Bauman, Tashy Davidson, Angela Dong, Elina Filice, Aryan Ghaffarizadeh, Kristen Gracie, Dina Hamed, Saarah Haque, Catherine Hu, Chukky Ibe, Aranya Iyer, Sam Jackson, Sadiyah Jamal, Osmond Jian, Manveer Kalirai, Nabeelah Khan, Nimra Khan, Sonia Leung, Macklin Loosley-Millman, Patricia Lora, Valerie Luetke, Alexandra Marcaccio, Alex Marshall, Shawnee Matinnia, Ruvimbo Musiyiwa, Annecy Pang, Josh Ravenhill, Nicholas Schmid, Jen Scora, Emile Shen, Alison St. Pierre, Ryan Stevenson, Michael Swanson, Rachel Tran, Carly Van Egdom, Nicole Vasarevic, Annika Yardy, Peter Youssef, Annie Yu, Hamid Yuksel, Sunny Yun, Michele Zaman. (Artists) Kayla Da Silva, Mischa Dabrowski, Alexandra DeCata, Mimi Deng, Shirley Deng, Colline Do, Leah Flanagan, Parker Flood, Erin Fu, Hamza Furmli, Lauren Gorfinkel, Kari Guo, Katrina Hass, Matthew Lam, Clara Laratta-Gerrard, Jason Lau, Ans Li, Camelia McLeod, Courtney McNeely, Luke Meneok, Sherri Murray, Theresa Orsini, Linda Ott, Imasha Perera, Nicholas Schmid, Qian Shi, David Shin, Jasmyne Smith, Anastasia Smolina, Jessica Trac, Eric Van Nus, Riley Vanderzee, Nicole Vasarevic, Tess Visser, Gabriella Yoo. Special Thanks to Alexandra M. for leading the interview process for Vol. 20, and Lauren G. for coordinating the More distro.


xix :iiiv

bore a long tunnel meander through the lava to the other side x

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