Fall 2019

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Laurel Moon Magazine FALL 2019 Brandeis University

Laurel Moon Magazine Laurel Moon is Brandeis University’s oldest, national literary magazine. We publish two issues each year, in the fall and in the spring. All undergraduates at US-based colleges and universities are invited to submit their creative writing of any genre. All submissions are read blind. Editors-in-Chief

Sophie Fulara Jinni Wang


Mutiara Carney Lily Darling Ivy Gao Abigael Good Andrea Lei Lindsey Odorizzi Caroline Oh Alyssa Rider Ethan Seidenber


Vicente Cayuela Bob Corpening Pallavi Goel Alice Ren

Copyright 2019 by Laurel Moon Brandeis University English Department PO Box 9110 Waltham, MA 02454-9110 www.laurelmoonmag.com www.instagram.com/laurel_moon_brandeis www.facebook.com/laurelmoonbrandeis

Editor’s Note Dear reader, Do you feel at home? This moment, as you are reading this, you may be away from home and wish you are home. Or home is close to you but you feel distanced and troubled. When in times of difficulty, remember to grab onto what makes you feel at home and find the inner home within you, a home that is always with you. Laurel Moon strives to be a home for sharing voices, voices that are similar to yours or you don’t know existed. This issue of Laurel Moon houses a select body of the uttermost truthful undergraduate experiences, written into stories with striking sincerity. These authors show you who they truly are. They tell you how they learn and grow through connections with their culture in “Empty House” and “Library of Strands,” their comments on identity in “When,” and their reflections on human heritage in “inri” and “Playing the Bones.” They share intimate details of familial and romantic relationships in “The Four Phases of Cooking for Family,” “Alone or Lonely,” and “Persistence of Memory.” You may find words that capture moments of revelation as well as moments that hurt. “The Pill,”“Slut,n” and “A Collection of Thoughts I’ll Never Say to You” are stories that ache, difficult stories people may never tell you in person. In this issue, we’ve added an Editor’s Corner where some of our own editors have added their voices to a growing literary conversation. Caroline Oh provides insight into how we use second chances in her book review on Alex Stern’s Ninth House, while Mutiara Carney’s interview with local artist, Logan Wilder, demonstrates the use of visual creativity to find his inner home. We hope you enjoy this issue of “Home”. May you always be secure in your inner home. Jinni Wang Sophie Fulara

Laurel Moon FALL 2019



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Editor's corner 49






Noon Leaves Aria Smith 7

Something else about the morning Matthew Herskovitz


I saw you dancin’ You moved like Sinatra On speed - “-” by Stephen Fretwell There’s a screen covering the window I lifted to breathe. It’s too hot in here. And I’d like for you to stay, to color the scar on the back of my hand, to straighten the wick on the candles I burn, to dangle our legs from the ledge just to feel the breeze and hold onto the frame. There’re rockets falling down from space, jetsam burning streaks in a sky that needed to lay its hand on a stove. I watched the moon landing today; and through the dust in my eyes all I could think of was you on rollerblades, dashing around, making comets jealous since you could handle the heat of the sun. 8

milk to grape Katerina Pavlidis

waves purr upandalong a gradient that stretches from milk to grape. wind forges sinews; rocks kick it up. who poured milk in the water? who made the horizon burst blue like a kyoho grape? (crunchy bitter seeds make the tongue clack. take another, wash the sourness down swallow the pucker the seed pod whole and consider your body a vineyard sown by the soul-deep sea)


Yehliu Geopark, New Taipei City, Taiwan Erin Wong


Playing the bones Gabriel Meek The beats of my hands on my dog’s rib cage echo in her chest cavity as if she is an instrument— a djembe covered with stretched goat hide; the rosined horse hair on cello strings; this old man, he played nine he played knick-knack on my spine; Orpheus’ metaphor for Eurydice’s hair; the shofar my father played in the woods— and realizing that instruments are often dead things made alive by music, my hands stop and her tail beats the floor


inri Gerardo Lamadrid The computer room at my elementary school had a door no one used with a crucifix hanging over it it looked down upon swivel chairs, cardboard desks keyboards and brooms – it looked down and said why why have you forsaken me? and I glanced at it sometimes others I’d stare head on, and say what is that cross hiding floating over that door (when no one knows where it leads to or if it even leads somewhere) Beneath it I read of how your people in babylon had sacrificed a sacred lamb and brushed its blood on the lunettes of their homes or even the doors themselves all for protection, just to warn the angel of death that the people of god live here. 12

Door Hadassah Stanhill


The Four Phases of Cooking for Family Micheal Acevedo

I Cooking in a kitchen like ours has always been a violent act. You bat black gnats around the bananas, which we keep with the bruised apples. It makes them ripen faster. You know all about that. You know the hissing gas leak from the stove. How it smelled like fire without flame. The sour rot in the kitchen. You know all about that. II We keep the recipe simple in a kitchen like ours. You buy the garlic and I’ll bring the bright peppers. Together we make a great green sofrito. You know all about that. The smell of family is more than dead men’s cologne. The sour rot in the kitchen. You know all about that.


I Th i N S K Y Th p Th Y

I Th i I b I Y Y A Th Y

III The kitchen is a sacred place in this house. No nonsense, real cooking. Some knife pointing. Keeping the fighting out of the kitchen. You know all about that. The reason you got rid of all the glass cups, poured out the whiskey glass. The sour rot in your kitchen. You know all about that. IV The kitchen will be a battlespace in my house too, I fear. I will have gnats, mice, bananas that ripen too quick, men. I’ll call you, missing full cabinets, missing that sofrito. You know all about that. You will bring me garlic and peppers. A chipped red pot and a cast sautÊ pan. The yellowing sour rot rubs itself into my clothes. You know all about that.


A Collection of Thoughts I’ll Never Say to You Annalise DeLuca Do you know that Mom cried every day after you left? Always in the mornings. In the shower.When she thought I couldn’t hear. I can’t remember you and Mom together. I don’t remember your fights, but I also don’ tremember us as a family. I wish that I could. I want to know the story behind you and Mom. How you met, how you fell in love. I try to keep track and see if there’s a day when Mom is the angriest, or the saddest, or the most prone to cracking. I wonder if it’s your wedding day. I’m afraid to ask, even though it is my history, too. ______________ “Who are you texting?” you said. You always ask that, as if it’s any of your business. “I’m not texting, I’m Snapchatting.” You took your hand off the wheel. Started to snap. And talk. “Look at me,” you said. We were always looking at you. Like you would just - poof - disappear. “I’m snap chatting.” That joke got old quick. ______________ It’s selfish that you left us; it’s selfish of me to wish you had stayed. 16

______________ When we talk about music, about chord progressions and black keys, about The Who and Vince Gill, I forget everything I hate about you. I could play a two chord song and you’d still grin at me like I’m Bonnie Raitt. On Friday nights you picked me up from swim practice. You loved telling people that I was a synchronized swimmer, and I loved hearing you say it, even though my face got hot and my smile felt slippery. “My meet is next weekend, can you make it? It’s in Ipswich.” You lived there at the time. “I’ll have to see. I’ll try to make it.” You didn’t. You never did. Still, standing up there with a first place medal never felt as good as telling you I’d got one. We used to go ice skating in Peabody. I clung to the wall and stared at you. You’d stop and sprayme with ice. I loved that. Like you were a god that made it snow just for me. ______________ “Lesley University, huh?” “Yeah, they have a really great program.” “Be careful you don’t become a Commie.” Maybe I’ll become a Communist just to spite you. I was always divided between you and Mom. After Obama was reelected, I asked you if you thought he was a good president. “Mom told me that she voted for him. That he’s good.” You scoffed. “I didn’t vote for him.” I don’t mind that you’re a Republican, that you vote for people I disagree with. I mind that you like to make fun of liberals. I mind that I’m a liberal when I’m with you. 17

A Collection of Thoughts I’ll Never Say to You Annalise DeLuca I would rather be a Republican than lose you. You were bred from a Revere cop and a pill-popping housewife. The youngest of three boys that were supposed to be four. High school quarterback. Star hockey defenseman. Winning smile with a single dimple. You always text me love yooze because that’s the Revere way. I always text you back, love yooze, too. My fingers never stutter and my brain never thinks. You told us Memere died through a text. “That really hurt, Dad,” Isabelle said. “You should’ve called us.” I curled into myself as she spoke. Daniel, as the youngest, will fight you with reckless abandon, but Isabelle only says something when she feels desperate. I won’t say anything at all. “This is my fault?” you said. “I’m dealing with a lot right now. You could’ve reached out. I haven’t heard anything from you. I had to call the funeral home, and talk to Uncle Robert about bills, and-” “Okay, okay, okay,” Isabelle said. “I’m sorry, I’m sorry.” I couldn’t breathe at the funeral. I counted the tiles on the wall of the church. Read the names of the parish’s donors. Of the dead priests. Tallied up the bibles in the pews. Choked on sobs during the peace be with yous. You hugged me. My mascara got on your new white shirt. “She’s with Jesus now,” you said. I wanted to scream at you, bullshit. Part of me had always thought that when Jane succumbed to her cancer, you would die too. Like it had metastasized from her body to yours, a marital disease that spread from second wives to second husbands. She died this year. You didn’t. 18

I don’t know how to talk to you. I refuse to come over without Isabelle there. She can talk to anyone about anything. I like being eclipsed by her when you’re around. We all sat together at Isabelle’s college graduation. Watched her walk across the stage. You and Mom said hello politely. After eleven years, we were a family again. You and Mom were a family again. At Isabelle’s graduation party, Daniel drank three beers. You didn’t say a word. He was seventeen. And desperate. You’re the one who gave us these messed up genes. The ones filled with panic and depression and the needs to drink and smoke and fuck everything up. He’s living under your roof. He’s my brother. He’s your son. Fucking act like it. My nightmares are filled with funerals. Dan’s. Mom’s. Isabelle’s. But never yours. “Your father sued me again. I wish he would fucking leave me alone. I’ve let payments slide, I never took him to court. This time everyone will know. I stayed quiet when he sued back then. I’m not staying quiet now.” You’re suing her. For what? All of the child support you never fucking paid? The medical bills from years of me going to therapy? From Daniel being admitted over and over and over again to a hospital for being suicidal? What more do you want from Mom? From us? “I’m not talking to Dad. I think it would help if you didn’t, either. He cares about you more.” Isabelle didn’t look at me when she said it. I had been lying in bed for two hours, staring at nothing. Mom was on the phone with the lawyer. “That’s not true,” I said. 19

A Collection of Thoughts I’ll Never Say to You Annalise DeLuca “It is. And I’m not talking to him, so you shouldn’t either.” “Okay.” You called me the next day. I picked up. And I bit my cheek the entire time. You still call me Lulu, like I’m five, walking around in footie pajamas. “First, you were Bobo the Lion, because you had the cutest curls and roared all the time. And Lion turned into LiLi, and LiLi turned into Lulu, and now you’re my Lulu. My Lulubelle.” I keep a voicemail from each person I love. In case I need to hear their voices again. I have nineteen of yours. Yes, I cried to get you to pay your court mandated tuition contribution. Yes, I’m a manipulative bitch. Just like Mom. Will you tell me that to my face, too? “I see why Dad left you.” Dan screamed it. Mom went to her room. The next day, Mom told us what happened between you two. I don’t remember what she said. There’s some switch in my brain that flips when I hear something bad about you. You’re my father. I’d rather think you’re perfect than anything else.

When Mom kicked Dan out, you were there. There to take him in. There to corroborate that Mom is a crazy bitch, and that you have been the victim from the very beginning. 20

Daniel looks like you. I mean, just like you. I wonder if that drives Mom insane. What if all this time you’ve been telling the truth? What if Mom lied? “Michael went off on your dad,” Mom said. “Michael did?” “I guess Caitlin was talking about what happened down the Cape.” Sometimes I forget that I am not the only one in your life. That I am not the only one angry with you. Yes, you left me and Isabelle and Daniel. But you also left my cousins. They adored you. I have a picture. You. Michael and me on your lap. You held Make Way for Ducklings and Michael and I held each other. You cared then, right? You loved us then, right? Cape Cod. The first full week with Daniel since he left us. To live with you. “Daniel?” He took the side apartment. Meant for a single adult, or a kid desperate not to get caught. “Dan?” I know you think that by not fighting him on these things that he’ll work himself out, but he won’t. “Dan, seriously. If you scare me . . .” You’ve never discouraged it. You’ve never told him no. “Dan?” He was on the bathroom floor. He wouldn’t wake up. “This isn’t funny. Daniel.” I pulled on his eyelids, forced myself to take his pulse. “Get up, Dan. Please.” Mom took him to the hospital. His face was so pale, it looked purple. Hours later, they pulled up to our rental. No one said a word 21

A Collection of Thoughts I’ll Never Say to You Annalise DeLuca when he slunk to the kitchen, made a sandwich, and called it a night. “What happened?” I said to Mom. Her whole body looked like it was about to cave in. He’s her son. He’s your son. “He took too much.” “Of what?” “He wouldn’t say. He told the nurse he was fine,” Mom said. “Can’t you-” “No. Leave it. There’s nothing we can do.” Leave it. Leave him. Like you did. Like he’s already halfway gone and we have to sit around waiting to see if he’s going to show up dead or clean, because we can’t do anything. His family can’t do anything. The day that I got admitted to Salem Hospital was the first time that Mom told me that you had been admitted to Salem Hospital on the night before my eighth birthday. “It was for a suicide attempt,” she said. The social worker wrote it down. I stared at Mom. What? History is cyclical. Genes must be, too. Mom always tells me never to go out with someone who honks in the driveway. You do that all the time. It’s hard loving you. Sometimes I think I just say that I do. Like a requirement.


Ratalina Katherine San Martin


empty house 빈집 Nico Léger

the artist tells me her tattoo needles & ink bottles are more than home decor. the apartment in hongdae is hip hop without the backtrack of mom’s voice thirteen hours away asking why. to get here, i squinted at the sun hidden behind shades of air pollution, desperate to reach in & pull him out of the sky. celebrities are like the dead. the ride to heaven a walk of shame, the seeds that should stay in my body popping out as an offering after rewatching giriboy’s performance of 빈집 one too many. i told myself if i saw it again without the reminder inked into my skin i’d scratch it there.


날마다 i go to coffee shops & can’t seem to learn korean fast enough. a post-nightmare realization that begins hyperfocus & embodies an essay titled: i cope with reality, my sexuality & dead-daddy issues with male celebrities who don’t speak my language -gender, class, or english. my thesis argues that house floods are cathartic & if only people could wash away themselves maybe then my skin would be unmarked. the final pages are an index, terms: daydreams & fiction. i cite wikipedia & pornhub. the first time i saw giriboy i was a starfish on my sister & i’s beds, pushed together like we were kids again. i had enough watermelon in my bowl to fill our whole cottage. now, i’m closer to him than i ever was before, but i feel so far from home. 날마다 – everyday 빈집– empty house


Out of the Subway Tunnel Jacy Zhang


Library of Strands Natasha Gonzalez Can I touch your hair?

One-hundred thousand tightly sprung coils Waiting to jolt into action. Unruly ringlets of wafting coconuts, Burning of platypus jaws Making the operation, of altering who I am Without scorching the scalp, delicate. Suspended like soaked willow trees on tiles, Everything becomes consumed. Night shades day, and I become wrapped Up in thick strands, undistinguishable. Can I play with your hair? Corporate suits demanding tame mane And smooth strands of Samoan miss. Chemical imbalance creating subtracted chunks, Tangled. Broken bristles gently collapsing to ground. Deciding hours later that it is waterless, parched. Frizz, kink, mountain of conditioner. Upside-down fluff. Steam boat machines shapeshifting with heat and hot comb. Track team fingers sprinting through knots, stuck between hurdles. Blatant refusal to be ignored, shoving its way past conventional crowd. Bobby, you pin nothing in place. Hair tie always breaks. Can I touch your hair? NO! 27

The Pill Gabby Melendez My throat still burns from trying to dry swallow the pill the first time. Val asked if I could get groceries later today. When I reminded her that I was taking the pill today her mouth dropped into an apologetic ‘O’ before closing quickly, her eyes darting down to my stomach then back up to me. She said she could try to get groceries after class, then asked if I wanted anything in particular. “Chips maybe. Some Special K for breakfast tomorrow,” I replied, my hand closed around the pill. She nodded, looked down at my stomach again, and then left for work. My hand was still closed around that pill while I sat at the edge of my bed, staring at what lay in the palm of my hand, hoping if I stared at it long enough, it would somehow melt into my skin, keeping me from having to actually swallow it. After an hour passed, it still hadn’t dissolved into my skin. I realized that staring at it wouldn’t make the process any less painful. That was quickly proven wrong when I quickly shoved the thing into my mouth, trying to swallow with what little moisture was on my tongue. My throat felt like it was on fire, the pill deciding then that it would melt through my throat and back out. The water from the bathroom sink was lukewarm, but it felt like sweet honey as I took it in gulps, not minding that the water was running down my chin, dripping onto my hair and hands. My hands had slammed on the faucet, stopping the running water before I wiped my chin, ignoring the red eyes staring back at me in the mirror. 28

An hour passed sitting on my computer trying to finish a paragraph for this English assignment before I felt it. The tug on my lower abdomen that had me waddling towards the bathroom. A warmth was running down my legs, pooling in my socks before dripping onto the linoleum floor. I quickly stepped into the bathtub, watching the blood continue to drip onto the white porcelain surface. I would have to clean the bathroom floor before Val came back in the next hour. And probably wash my jeans and underwear which were stained beyond repair at this point. I could feel myself pull my pants and underwear down, but my eyes were locked on the faucet of the shower, trying to avoid looking at the blood. Like a heavy period, they said. Like a heavy period, some cramping. You may see some blood clots. Turning the hot water on, I had begun to strip myself of the rest of my clothes, t-shirt, bra, socks. I hung them over the rail of the shower curtain, knowing full well that they wouldn’t dry with the water still running. But with a steady stream, at least I could finally look down as the blood mixed with the water that ran down the drain. Lying down, I let the water beat against my skin. It felt calming against my somewhat shaking limbs. Reminding me of Jason’s skin against mine. The idea of Jason being here while the blood flowed down the drain made me grip the edge of the tub. Would he sit at the edge and rub my back while I breathed through each cramp? He brought me a warm compress and a blanket that one time I got my period suddenly at his apartment. Hadn’t cringed from the blood. But something tells me that this would be too much. Just a little too much. The insinuation that he was responsible for part of it. He was too sweet, too sweet for what I was putting my body through. To protect him. To protect us. Breathe through the first several rounds of cramps, let the water wash it away. Maybe I’d call Jason when it was all over. Let him come over and rub my shoulders while he talked about his exams. About that one professor who was trying to fuck him over or what he wanted to do over spring break. I’d nod along and take an ibuprofen, insisting I’m having a bad period. He’d believe me. 29

The Pill Gabby Melendez Val knocked on the door an hour later. “Michelle, is everything okay?” she asked, opening the door. I guess I should have locked it. “Yeah,” I said, my hands still gripping the edge of the tub. “How long have you been in there?” she asked. My head turned, I could see her silhouette through the shower curtain. A thump told me she’d put the toilet seat down and was sitting on it. When I looked down, the red between my legs was lighter, the water slapping against my rusted thighs. “An hour,” I replied, turning my head to watch her silhouette rise from the seat before leaving the room. “I brought some pads for you, and one of those heating pads,” her voice echoed from the other room. The door to the bathroom opened again and I heard Val move several things around, watched her grab my wet clothes from the shower railings. “I brought you a towel and some clothes. There’s a pad and fresh underwear on the toilet seat,” she said, her voice calm and controlled, sounding like the nurse that handed me the first pill at the clinic yesterday. “Thank you,” I replied. When I didn’t hear her leave the room, I raised myself up enough to turn off the water, letting her know I’m getting out. The door finally closed, and before I got out of the tub, my eyes caught on the red clump near the drain. ~~~ “Jason texted me today,” Val stated from the other side of the kitchen island, walking back and forth as she put the groceries away. “He asked why you weren’t returning any of his texts.” “I haven’t been around my phone all day. And I’ve been trying to finish this essay,” I replied, my eyes scanning over the words on my computer screen. A pain quickly pierced through my stomach, drawing me away from the words for a moment before I 30

continued on. “Can you close the laptop for a moment and text him back then? He sounded kinda antsy,” Val replied. “I’m almost done with my essay. And I want to finish it before break so that way I don’t have to worry about it for the week.” “Jason’s worried about you. He asked why you skipped discussion yesterday.” “Tell him the truth, I have heavy cramps.” “Why don’t you tell him?” Val asked, stopping in front of me, her eyes piercing a hole through my screen. Several seconds passed before she leaned over the table and closed the laptop. “What?” I asked, my eyes darting up to hers, hands reaching to open the screen again. Val grabbed the laptop and pulled it away from me. “Michelle,” she said, her voice in that clipped tone she had earlier today, “are you going to tell him?” We remained like that for several seconds. Her hand on my laptop, my eyes locked on hers. “Eventually,” I replied, not even sure if I really meant it. Val could read me easily; she lowered herself so she’s resting on her forearms. “He has a right to know,” she whispered. “It’s your choice and I respect that. But he should be here.” “He doesn’t need to be here.” “He’s the fucking father, Michelle.” “There is no father,” I ground out, rising from the seat, “because there is no baby.” Val tilted her head, biting her lip as she reached for my hand but I let them fall to my lap, watching her intently. “Fine,” she conceded, “I’m not going to tell him anything, that’s your business.” “Thank you,” I sighed, reaching for my laptop. Val raised her hands, letting me open it again. “But you have to promise me that you will tell him, soon,” she said. My fingers hovered over the keyboard. The look on Val’s face told me that if I didn’t agree to tell Jason, she’d tell him herself. 31

The Pill Gabby Melendez “If I tell Jason about my abortion…” I trailed off, unsure of how to finish the sentence. Val waited for me to come up with something, and when she realized that I wouldn’t finish my sentence, she walked around the island, taking a seat in the stool next to me, grabbing my hands from the keyboard and placing them on my lap. “Michelle,” she whispered. “If I tell Jason about my abortion, how do I know that he will understand? That he can deal with something this heavy?” “He doesn’t have to deal with it. He’s supposed to help you deal with it. Work through it with you. The whole point of having a partner is that they help you and stick with you, especially during the hard parts,” Val stated. “I know that,” I whispered looking down at my hands. Another cramp ripped through my side. “I’m 21, Val. He’s 21. We’re not supposed to have to deal with something this hard. If I tell him, how do I know that we can move past this? That this won’t stick in the back of his mind? Everytime I think about it, all that I can imagine is him getting overwhelmed with the idea that this could have happened.” “It shouldn’t matter about how he’s feeling. He’s not the one having the abortion.” “I know that.” Val and I sat there, her hands wrapped around mine, resting in my lap. “I’m 21. I’m not supposed to deal with this until I’m older. I’m on the pill. The one time that I forget it, the one time, the condom breaks. Things like that aren’t supposed to happen to you at 21. I’m not supposed to deal with this now. I’m supposed to complain about writing an essay for English or getting an internship this summer. Not how to break it to my boyfriend that I got pregnant but had an abortion before telling him.” Val reached over and wiped away a tear I didn’t know was 32

there. When I looked down, I noticed our hands are splattered with them. A cramp twisted my insides. Val must have seen the visible discomfort on my face, because she rose and reached into the medicine cabinet, taking out a bottle of ibuprofen and placing it in front of me. “Are you afraid he would have wanted to keep it?” Val asked. I shook my head. Jason had joked for months about how, god forbid, he’d ever end up with a kid while in college. I had agreed, because the idea of having to care for something else, when I could barely care for myself was idiotic. I still ate cup of noodles at one a.m because Val and I would forget to get groceries. There were days when I’d miss class because I was behind on a group project or my period cramps were “too distracting”. Everytime we had sex, Jason insisted we use a condom because the idea of having a kid seemed idiotic to us. Seemed like a funny joke. “You know he’s going to worry about you, if you don’t text him back. He cares about you enough to notice you weren’t in a class he doesn’t even go to. He texted me, and I’m going to be honest, I’ve never given him my number.” “He asked me for your number once,” I whispered, “In case of emergencies.” Val snorted and fell back into the stool, placing her hand on my leg. “Talk to him, please.” she whispered. My eyes remained on her hand, but my mind wandered back to the incessant pain in my abdomen. “Okay.” The bleeding stopped after about six hours. I kept going to the bathroom and wiping and wiping, even when the toilet paper burned a light pink. The image of that dark red clot in the bathtub drain flashed into my mind, making me run to the toilet one more time, to change my pad and wipe again, just to see if anything had changed. Nothing. I was sore down there, and my abdomen still felt a pulse of contractions with the cramps. I waited until Val had left for her evening class before I grabbed my phone that had been 33

The Pill Gabby Melendez plugged in all day. Twelve missed calls.Ten messages. All from Jason. Asking if I was sick, why I hadn’t picked up, saying he got Val’s number, asking if he could come over. It took several minutes before my fingers scrolled through the latest calls and dialed his number again. The phone only rang once. “Michelle?” Jason’s voice was audibly relieved, a deep sigh heaved through the phone. “Hey, I’m sorry I hadn’t seen any of your calls. My phone had been plugged it all day-” “Are you okay, are you sick? I talked with Val and she told me you were home but that you weren’t feeling well. Are you sick?” he repeated. My fingers gripped the phone, I sighed through the cramps. “Fine, I mean, better now. Yeah I was feeling kind of under the weather. Really bad cramps,” I finally said, deciding that would be a good place to start. “Oh, are they bad this month?” he asked. My lips pursed, my fingers picking at the loose strands of the comforter. “Pretty bad, yeah,” I replied. “I took ibuprofen earlier and I’ve just been resting. Probably won’t go to class tomorrow either. A little nauseous.” “Do you want me to come over?” he asked, his voice full of worry. I swallowed that burn in my throat. “Yeah. Yeah I’d like that.” Jason was at my door twenty minutes later, ginger ale in one hand and a bag of popcorn in the other. “I figured if you were feeling down you wouldn’t wanna do anything too strenuous so I thought we could just watch a movie? A little popcorn? If you are still feeling nauseous I have ginger ale,” he stated, motioning to the popcorn and drink. I couldn’t even hide the tug of a smile on my lips, despite the pain in my stomach. Jason sat beside me on the couch, reaching over and pulling 34

a blanket across us before grabbing the remote to flip through the channels. “Have you taken anything for the cramps?” he asked, looking over at me. I nodded. “Ibuprofen.” “Feeling any better?” he asked. “Yeah, a little,” I lied. Jason beamed and scooted closer to me, wrapping his arm around my waist and pulling me into his chest. Several minutes into the movie and the only thing I had been focusing on was Jason’s fingers as they slid across my hips and abdomen. After the twentieth time, I turned to look at Jason. He was watching the movie with such intensity, it took him a moment before he realized I’d been watching him. Once he realized, his face lit up and he leaned down to plant a kiss on my forehead. “Is everything alright?” he asked. I swallowed deeply, my throat tense. “Yeah,” I whispered, “Just a bad period.” My throat still burns from trying to dry swallow the pill the first time.


Comfort in Isolation Ella Kaplun


Alone or Lonely Olivia McCann

“Alone,” she said, and stopped, forgetting the last of her sentence on my tongue. “Lonely,” I mouthed back to her and began to embroider her back with my nails, scratching up rosy images above the flanks of muscle. We fell asleep eventually, with the moon breathing and the stars swaying. Our days began to fragment to fit the odd boxes of our dreams, and she turned away from me. I found her again between breaths and wrapped my arms around her ribs, a careful smothering she’d be happy for once mourning came.


Runaway Sam Ho


slut, n. CG

Daddy issues are defined by girls who wore makeup in middle school, sparkly grey eyeshadow falling to their cheeks, thick red lipstick peeling and smearing as the day goes on. The girls who let boys like Nick S. kiss them and touch them in the hallways after school, grubby fingers sliding over and inside and everywhere. The girls who pretend to like the attention, who are happy to have middle aged men flirt with them if it means they get a free ice cream cone in the middle of July. The girls who bounce from boy to boy, a new post each week about how much I love Brendon-- I mean Josh, Josh is my soulmate-- I’m so lucky to have met Will, I know we’ve only been dating for a month but, actually, Michael and I are going to be together forever. Your best friend has daddy issues. You don’t. Sure, when you were five years old your dad called to you as soon as you got out of the shower. He told you that the stars looked magical and you had to come outside and see them. You wrapped the faded towel around your shoulders, turning yourself into the superhero he would never be. When you got out on the front steps, water dripping from the split ends of your hair, he yanked the towel off of your shoulders and shut the door, turning on the front porch light. You were outside, naked, in the cold. A five year old. You were worried that the neighbors would see. You started screaming, crying, pounding on the door. You were probably outside for five seconds before your mom brought you back in, but those five seconds were enough for you to hate him. 39

Your dad never tells you that you’re pretty. He brags about you on FaceBook, about the only daughter who got his green eyes, the daughter who does so well in school. He posts about the time you were invited to have lunch with the principal. Your teachers had nominated you as the best kid in the class, the kid who best represented the seventh grade. The school bought you McDonald’s and you got to sit with the principal and tell him about your classes. But later that year, when you talk about the men you find attractive and the principal’s name slips out of your mouth, your dad tells you that you’re a tramp. Tramp is slapped across your face, blaring red from your cheek. Everyone knows that you’re a slut. Sure, you’ve never been kissed, but that doesn’t mean you don’t think about it. You see the way men look at your sister. You want that, too. Don’t you? Before eighth grade, your mom took you back to school shopping. She tells you that you’re growing up so fast, that your dad is worried about you. The way she says it makes your stomach flip. Sluts aren’t afraid of men, right? They want it, right? But if you wanted it, why did you cry after Mary forced you to kiss her in the pool that May? Why did you run upstairs and throw on a training bra when your mom’s stepfather arrived? When your dad looked you up and down, eyes trailing on your legs-- the legs of an eleven year old, the legs that filled you with pride when your mom called them skinny-- and he asked if you were seriously going out like that, you felt a rock lodge itself in your throat. Maybe that’s why you gained all that weight. You thought men would stop looking at you. But there was that time, after, when you were fourteen, waiting for your little sister at the bus stop. That man, old enough to be your grandfather, pulled up next to you on the curb. He leaned out of his window, said that you were so still, so beautiful, he thought you were a statue. His eyes were stuck on your legs, watching the hem of your pink dress sway in the breeze. Summer hadn’t even ended yet, you were still tan. And, God, weren’t you kind of asking for it? You had just started wearing makeup, and you know how short that dress was, above the knee. And you had taken off your sweater, bare shoulders exposed, a bra strap shimmying down your arm. And you liked older men, didn’t you? You wanted the attention. 40

There were girls in your school whose dads had left. Your best friend’s dad had left. But yours was married, happily, to your mom. So how could you have daddy issues? Sure, he screamed at you every now and again. He threw a meatball at your face when you were four, knocking you off of your chair from the force. He’s pushed you in an airport before, but that was your fault. You were the one having the panic attack. He told you that you ruined your mom’s birthday, that he was gonna euthanize the dog because of you. When you got a B+ in honors algebra he yelled until you cried, until you had no choice but to run a razor over your wrist, your thighs, carving B+ into your skin. He had a point, you are a stupid bitch. He’s thrown plates past you, letting them break in the sink, because you don’t fucking know how to hold a conversation about your friend who just got into a car accident. He’s brushed past you, acted like you don’t exist, ridiculed you for being afraid of him. But he’s a good dad, really. He would never leave your mom (except for that one fight they had a few summers ago, where, after twenty years of marriage, he said we should take a break, but it’s not like he meant it). He would never hit you. And so what if he thinks you’re a slut? He’s not far off, is he? I mean, no, you don’t date boys, but that’s only because you’re far too busy for that. Between school and work, who has the time? And you’ve stopped wearing makeup. Though you should maybe rethink that one, a little bit of concealer would do you some good. You look like you haven’t slept since you were five. If someone touches you, you freeze. You wonder if it’s going to hurt, but you haven’t been hurt before, not like that. Since you’ve moved to Boston you’ve been afraid every day. You know men look at you. They call out to you, baby girl, the same nickname your parents call you. They ask you to do stuff to them, with them, they tell you that you’re pretty. You don’t believe them. 41

slut, n. CG Or maybe you do. Maybe some sick part of you likes the attention. An older man, lusting after you? I mean, let’s face it, beggars can’t be choosers. And, so what, you’re a slut. A virgin, sure, but a slut nonetheless. It’s impossible to recognize your own problems, even when they slide their hands over your hips and hold on a little too tight, wrap their fingers around your throat and tell you that you like it, tell you that girls with daddy issues are the best fuck.


, n

d , t .

A Tear of Grief Ghazal Hashemipour 43

acorns Nico Léger

chocolate chip cookies & milk. the man on tv advertising avatar. tonight, the episodes are back to back. every night, it feels special when he says this. mom bought the tray table where i rest my chin, first, for dad to eat in bed, his IV too short to stretch to the kitchen. now, they’re for TeenNick & dessert. simple pleasures like this outweigh: i am eight, scared of home invasions, too often wet the bed, stains on my mattress pad. stomach aches are anxiety, mom thinks constipation. don’t want to be the subject of amber alerts on the news, wonder what i will do when i am kidnapped, too. not knowing the real danger is at home, tonight, i sleep alone, draw arrows down the length of my stomach in permanent marker for the school nurse to find later like i found dad’s implantable port buried by the doctor’s army inside his chest. a landmine beneath our shelter, which is now nothing but autumn debris. every morning at the bus stop i’m left to pretend i’m an airbender. pile acorns between the insides of my torn sneakers. turn off my sight & listen to them roll & shuffle, one hoarded space between my legs. 44

Sailboat Matthew Kaufman


When M. P. Armstrong the best part of surviving is silence, when the tango between you and the blonde middle-aged woman in the bathroom hallway ends in a stalemate instead of a spin, when she decides not to point you towards the men’s room or point you out to her daughter as what not to be when she grows up. when the waiter decides not to play devil’s advocate and refers to your group as folks instead of ladies; when your devil is off for the night and a stranger tells your father that his son looks just like him. the best part is the quiet between the seconds, the lull between the lines when someone clocks your leather boots and the posture you adopt to hide your chest and chooses not to toe the line today. the best part is when you are the best kind of haunted lucky that no one challenges; when instead, you are a challenger, exploding into stillness upon stillness upon stillness stored in your soul. 46

Persistence of Memory Sarena Pollock

The grandfather clock in the kitchen strikes twelve noon, and with each tick I feel the beating soul of time itself reverberate throughout my body, its rhythmic beat pulsing underneath my skin. My grandmother always complained her wrist-watch ran ten minutes fast, but it must have been a luxury to live as if each passing moment wasn’t being counted down. As a child, I’d known it was dinner time when the mosquitos began biting and the sky turned a translucent blue, the shade of hydrangeas in my grandmother’s garden, and I’d rush through the patio to see if I could surprise her. This was not a habit, it was second-nature, and I wonder now when I lost this instinct, this intuition of knowing, if it slowly faded as her hydrangeas wilted away through the winter or if it stopped all at once. As the grandfather clock finishes its hourly chime, I watch the first of this year’s snowflakes descend down my window sill, the last of autumn’s leaves from my backyard maples finally making their way to the earth, and I can’t help but smile as the neighbor’s children tilt their heads towards the sky with mouths open wide in hopes of catching a taste of time standing still.


Grandmother Playing Spite and Malice Jordan Mudd



Interview of local artist Logan Wilder Mutiara Cartney

Belmont, New Hampshire native Logan Wilder is constantly testing the boundaries of the Boston art scene with his inventive use of different mediums and his knack for creating a social media brand that encompasses his artistic style and message. He chatted briefly with me about his process and vision. Q. Where do you go to school and what are you studying? A. I attend Massachusetts College of Art & Design in the Studio for Interrelated Media Program. Q. Where has your work been showcased? A. I’ve had multiple pieces in a few departmental gallery exhibitions at Massart. In the Fall of 2018 I showed two different pieces (projected video, mixed media collage) that were both adaptations of a project I am still to this day working on titled TEEN RAGE. In the spring of 2019 our departmental show coincided with the fashion students at Massart so I collaborated with a fashion major on a video installation. Q. What mediums do you specialize in? A. Video art, graphic design, photography, music production, sculpture, and most recently, 3D modeling. 50

Trash Day at the Club Logan Wilder


Q. What does your work aim to say? A. I don’t think my artistic approach has a certain thing it is always trying to say. My work has been perceived by others as a very saturated and stylistically driven choice of aesthetics, that almost always exerts emotions of happiness and/or curiousity. Q. How do you feel about the idea that art needs to have a message? A. I think everyone’s motive to why they make art is equally inspiring to me if the outcome is something I react to. A lot of my process as an artist (as well as those I look up to in such movements as Fluxus) have a harsh sense of experimentality in their work, exploring more the medium/idea of a piece of work and the process/performance of what creates the desired outcome. Q. Describe the Boston art scene and your role in it. A. The Boston art scene in my eyes is super complex and always expanding. I’m personally friends with so many different types of artists and always trying to find new groups of artists to adore or collaborate with. I’ve only been in the city for school for 3 years now, but I have seen a spike in the kind of inspiration I get from people around me. New zines, galleries, inclusive spaces for LGBTQ+ people, record labels, the list goes on. There is something about the built from ground D.I.Y aesthetic that is able to inspire anyone who wants to be involved with the creative scene to make an action. Q. Where do you find inspiration? Who are your idols? A. The most frequent place I find inspiration is in my Instagram feed. I follow hundreds and hundreds of artists so i’m always instantly notified on what new projects they are working on so it’s definitely the most accessible way to be inspired right now. A few current idols, or people i’m currently inspired by, include Frank Lebon, Kevin Abstract, SOPHIE, Nam June Paik, Johanna Jaskowska, and Christian Marclay. 52

Q. What current art/fashion trends inspire you? A. A trend for fashion that I have loved seeing the past few years is the rise of second hand shops/upcycling and designers using sustainable ethics. I go to a few thrift stores in my area constantly throughout the week, sometimes 4 or 5 times. I love being able to style myself with pieces of clothes that have already been in circulation for numerous years. I find this trend to also be crucial to someone’s art process and where they find materials. An artist/designer that I have personally really enjoyed seeing work from recently that incorporates these types of ethics is Pierre-Louis Auvray (@forbiddenkn0wledge). Q. If you could collaborate with any artist/model/stylist who would it be and why? A. Nick Knight, I have been super inspired by some of the projects he has worked on and love the way he bridges the gap between super corporate advertising with his own stylistic aesthetics. Q. What are your professional and personal goals for the next five years? A. I am currently an all over the place interdisciplinary artist, so the next five years could lead me in a number of directions career wise. Personal goal would be to live somewhere new for a while, adapt to different cultures, and make as much as I can along the way. Q. What advice would you have for self-made artists in the digital age? A. A good piece of advice for anyone sharing their art on social media especially Instagram, would be to post what you want and not think twice. Every artist is different but you should be sharing all the work that makes you happy and curate and create your aesthetic around what you like and what makes you proud to be an artist. 53

Film Photoshoot Logan Wilder

Book review of Alex Stern's Ninth House Caroline Oh

Ninth House has everything you’d want in a horror story— ghosts, demons, a sketchy town, dark magic, etc. You can practically hear the horror fanatics’ heartbeat pulsing through the pages as they take in all the supernatural tropes of the genre. As Ninth House is supposed to be Leigh Bardugo’s first adult-horror novel, we can expect some adult themes to take place in this particular story as well. Going into this novel, I didn’t really know what to expect besides the regular spooky shenanigans that come with any scary story. And there are some scary elements, some of which are supernatural and others not. (In other words, this book contains elements of rape, sexual assault, etc.) In essence, though, this book is all about second chances— who gets a second chance, and who does not. Enter our protagonist, Alex Stern. Just a few months ago, Alex Stern was living on the streets and getting high in California. But when offered a second chance to attend Yale University, Alex takes it. The slight catch? She’s about to join one of Yale’s secret supernatural societies—specifically Lethe—to deal with the frequent occurrences of ghosts and other horrors of New Haven, Connecticut because surprise, surprise, she’s able to see ghosts. (Amongst other things…) Right off the bat, we get a sense of Alex’s simultaneous disbelief and distrust of the students around her. Alex knows that, unlike 55

the students around her, this opportunity at Yale is the only chance she’ll ever have to make something of herself. Bardugo creates for us a character full of resentment and bitterness, and perhaps such bitterness is justified. Do we, as college students (and therefore privileged ourselves), fully grasp the concept of second chances? Or are we just like the students Alex encounters, the ones who burn through second chances as easily as a match does through paper? When Alex starts investigating Tara Hutchins’ murder, we find ourselves with increased occurrences of finding out what the value of second chances exactly is. Unlike Alex, Tara Hutchins is not a Yale student—but like Alex, and as she herself reflects, Tara is another girl who was living under desperate conditions and dealing with the cards she was given. As we progress through the story, we gain a deeper sense of Alex’s life paralleling to that of Tara’s, especially in how both girls wind up getting implicated into the chess games of upper-class people. We find out eventually that the dean of Lethe (Dean Sandow) murdered Tara for money, but that’s after we find out that Tara had been making supernatural drugs for the other secret societies of Yale. Of course, as such stories go, those in power cannot let Tara keep living, not with all she knows—and as Alex comes to this realization, she also comes to a realization about the state of her own position in the scheme of the secret societies: “She [Tara] was nineteen, a drug user, a criminal. She was—” “An easy mark.” Just like me. As we can see, Alex is aware of the fragile circumstances of her presence at Yale, and because of that, she fights harder and pulls more tricks to stay afloat. She doesn’t pull back her punches, and she goes into any dangerous situation with fists at the ready. She does not care to be another piece in the chess game of the people around her. Now, such characterization may imply that Alex might be an individualist—someone who certainly does not care to form attachments or friendships, yes? Such a character trope is familiar to us: the rough-and-tough protagonist who prefers to work alone than with people. But just because someone is tough doesn’t mean that the 56

same person has a heart. And of course, some readers may be thinking, ‘ah, yes, the tough character who only gets soft around one specific person. We’ve seen this trope before, too. Does the character get soft around her love interest? I bet it’s the love interest.’ And this is another refreshing thing about Bardugo’s latest novel: the rough-and-tough protagonist of the story actually cares for multiple people, even people who she doesn’t know too well. One of the particular relationships that comes to mind is Alex’s small friendship with one of her roommates, Mercy Zhao. While Mercy is completely separate from Alex’s little supernatural world, she still presents herself to Alex as a somewhat comforting, normal companion who, let’s face it, someone as disrupted as Alex would need. And though their friendship may not appear deep—some may call Mercy an acquaintance more than a friend—Alex still demonstrates a fierce protectiveness around her, especially when Mercy gets roofied at a frat party. Of course, anyone with half a conscience would care for someone who got roofied—but Alex is ruthless. She goes after the boys who hurt her roommate and serves justice in her own way, and the next morning, Alex is the one to coax Mercy into having a meal together. We get more of this fierce protectiveness from Alex even from her days before Yale, back when she was a drug dealer in California. As a young girl, Alex is still jaded about the realities of the world around her—but like the Alex at Yale, she has a determination to make her life something better than just the life she has as another child on the streets. She conjures up fantasies with her friend Hellie, another member of the small drug-dealing group Alex associates herself with. While Hellie plays along with Alex’s daydreams, we can sense Alex’s real desperation to make her dream true—and her dream includes Hellie. Here, we get a real sense of Alex’s will to not only save herself, but save those she cares about, too. So when Hellie eventually dies of overdose, Alex is a whirlwind of wrath, especially when the other members of the little drug group try to cover up her death. Now, remember, Alex can see 57

Book Review Caroline Oh ghosts—but here, we find out that she can somehow let ghosts take control of her. When Hellie becomes a ghost, Alex allows her friend to take control, and Alex executes her own justice against the men who tried to throw away Hellie’s body. Again, we have an instance of Alex’s fierce rage, and while we certainly don’t commend extreme acts of violence, something can be said for the way Alex pours everything into those she loves. And when those loves—no matter how small—is taken away, Alex puts all her energy into avenging them. Despite the hard shell that Alex has put around herself, we see her willingly crack the shell open for literally anyone who might show her a little kindness. She is genuine and unapologetic in her feelings for other people, stopping at nothing to make sure they are safe. And perhaps the degree her intensity could be credited to her understanding of the fragility of certain relationships. We’ve noted before that Alex takes second chances seriously—and she extends that same solemnity in her relationships. Alex knows she might not get a second chance to re-do a relationship, and because of that, she gives any human connection her all. Because of such characteristics, then, Alex pushes through her time at Yale in the same way we, as readers, push through Ninth House. For a horror story, Ninth House is undoubtedly a slow-burning tale. From Alex’s perspective, we push through the mystery of Tara Hutchins’ murder with relentless energy, but we don’t get to the climax until the story’s second half when everything explodes before our eyes. Bardugo demands us to struggle with Alex as she tries to discover Tara’s killer, and the struggle is a long and tedious one at best. Therefore, the reward at the end of finally solving the case becomes all the sweeter. Despite its label as a dark and twisted story, Ninth House still gives us a classic good-defeats-evil ending, which seems to be sparse in today’s literature. Screw tragedy and gloom for shock value, give us an ending that actually makes us feel victorious. 58

Perhaps this review of Ninth House is only fitting for Laurel Moon, then. As a college literary magazine, we certainly get a multitude of emotional pieces—some are harder to read than others. While we respect everyone’s creativity, there are times when we don’t just want to sit in darkness. We can appreciate the darkness for what it is, but there must be a light that follows. When accepting pieces for Laurel Moon, we look for that light. We look for the stories and poems that strive for an ending that has at least a glimmer of hope. Of course, not everyone gets to wake up to a beautiful sunrise, but perhaps everyone can at least catch one of the sun’s rays before the rest of the day comes.











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