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The Olivetree Review

ŠThe Olivetree Review, CUNY Hunter College, 695 Park Avenue, Thomas Hunter 206, New York, 10065, This journal is partially funded by Hunter College’s student activity fee, partially by fundrasising and donations. This journal is distributed for free. The artwork featured on the cover is Beautiful by Onika Gregory. The fonts used in this book are Constantia, Segoe Print, and Segoe Sript. This book is designed by Melissa Rueda and Jordan Ortiz. Submissions are reviewed September through October and February through March. We cover submissions of visual art, fiction, non-fiction, poetry, and scripts. All submissions are reviewed anonymously and selected by a jury of staff members. The review is entirely staffed by Hunter College undergraduate students. Permission to publish the content in this issue was granted to the Olivetree Review by the authors and artists throughout. These contributers retain all original copyright ownership of works appearing in The Olivetree Review before and after its publication. Copying, reprinting, or reproducing any material in this journal is strictly prohibited.

The Olivetree Review

The Olivetree Review

Spring/Fall 2020

The Literary and Arts Magazine of Hunter College since 1983




Editor - in - Chief Melissa Rueda

Vice President Srinidhi Rao


Kana Tateishi


Meghan Elberti

Art Editors Jordan Ortiz Melissa Rueda

Drama Editors Mia Carranza Ariana Gladstone

Poetry Editors Sheena Rocke Sylvia Welch

Prose Editors

Sydney Heidenberg Livia Lee

Senior Publicist Srinidhi Rao

Publicity Assistant Olivia Baldacci

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Associate Editors Saima Afrin Rahin Ahmed Hazel Arslan Arifa Baksh Sara Beck Sara Buitrago Iridian Castillo Angelisa Cortorreal Victoria Cotaj Cole Dempsey Ashley Farrell Brenell Harrison Elizabeth Jankovic Dana Kaldy Nikki Kinnear Naomi Kline John Laudani Jennie Litzky Michelle Ma Nina Mdivani Kate Morris Seon Pollard Samantha Purrone Joshebel Ramlakhan Jasmine RodrĂ­guez Vaishnavi Sharma Emma Simpson Stacey Watson Shana Waxman Tanisha Williams Jing Ye


Nightmare on Wall Street The Duality of Love Macy Rajacich 8 Julia Hayden Lulu Julia Hayden Beautiful Onkia Gregory


Tempo Pasado/Retrospectiva

16 Marlen Guerrero

87, 101

Will You Remember Me? 17 Will You? Teresa Sadowska 96

our Sun is a hot ball of Graduating glowing gases Jimmy Platto 19 Teresa Sadowska


Julia Hayden

Familiar Friend 20 Derek Browne


Shape Shift Olivia Baldacci

Untitled 32 Melissa Rueda


Chat Doja Jordan Ortiz

What is a Muse 45 Olivia Baldacci


Emotion Motolani Logan

Crash 75 Olivia Baldacci


Étude de Charbon Jordan Ortiz

Breakdance Sequences 78 Panagiota Efstathiadis 131

Time Flies in Chlesea Market



GODDAMN MISSISSIPPI Internal Immolations Angelisa Cortorreal 9 Anika Bradley


Room Service Iridian Castillo

West of Shanghai 33 Ariel Tsai


Bathtub Scene Angelisa Cortorreal

The Greatest Summer 80 Kate Bird


Night Shift Tansiha Williams

The Labyrinth 118 Ariel Tsai

Laundry Once a Week Kate Bird 112


past 72nd st Kate Bird

Into the Descent Sylvia Welch Kamakura Zeng Hong Li Callisto Sylvia Welch Untitled Simon Perchik


5 16

Nanking Ariel Tsai


Teeth Forest Oliver




69 What Became of the Tortoise Julia Withers 74

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TABLE OF CONTENTS Is this a Memory or a Dream Sharon Young




Meet the Staff


A Staten Island Love Story Nikki Kinnear 21 History of the Black Orange Kesha Peyrefitte

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Laparoscopic Surgery Post-Op Instructions Nicolette Dominguez


Backwards Livia Lee


Pedro Brian Tinio


Time Capsule Sydney Heidenberg



LETTER FROM THE EDITOR Dear valued reader, 2020 has been a wild ride as we faced what will be known as the crisis of our generation. In an instant, COVID-19 completely changed the world as we knew it and redefined not only our lifestyles but also our social relationships. This pandemic in conjunction with social, political, and economic turmoil left us spending most of our time in the dark as we were uncertain about the future. For centuries Art has always flourished and carried people through the greatest times of adversity. 2020 continues to show us that it will always survive and thrive even through the toughest struggles. This year brought to the forefront the importance of Art and its necessity in our daily lives. While the Art world faced a major blow by disrupting our access to studios, facilities, supplies, and other resources, artists were forced to become more resourceful and think outside the box. 2020 allowed us to read, write, make music, paint and create as we were given more time to focus on creative outlets to help cope with and overcome crisis. This 2020 issue represents and celebrates the resilience of artists and writers and the unwavering power of their craft. Freshman year when I first joined The Olivetree Review, it was on the cusp of dying out. Seeing OTR flourish and come back to life throughout my time at Hunter has been an incredible journey. This magazine would not be what it is today without its amazing staff! I made unforgettable memories from our events such as Open Mic and Paint Night, to all the times the staff would clown around in the little office that became our home. While my chapter comes to a close, I look forward to seeing OTR continue to prosper. Stay safe, Melissa Rueda

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What Became of the Tortoise Julia Withers

When Grandmother took her out of the oven, I was nearly in tears. How could she have baked a tortoise? Her body was shriveled and brown, protruding from her great shell like petrified wood. That body, which had borne the burden of time for far longer than I, went from someone to no one by the careless hand of my mother’s mother in a matter of minutes. She set the tortoise upon the table and I approached tentatively. I’ve never been able to bear the sight of death up close. Her mouth hung open, fat dead tongue, eyeballs melted into her skull, shell cracked and belly split down the middle. She was stuffed with apples, pears, cranberries, cabbage, artichoke leaves, orchids. Somewhere in the house, Mother wailed. I shuddered. There was a sound like a train and suddenly the flowers and fruits and guts in the tortoise’s belly began to churn. Organic matter became a sinister paste, so dark brown it looked almost like tar. The paste assembled itself into a square, and from the square emerged a face. It was the smoothest, whitest face there could ever be, with massive saucer eyes. I’d seen those eyes many times before, staring back at me in the bath-



room mirror after I’d poisoned myself with P. Cubensis. They were staring at me then in just the same way. Somehow the face looked identical to mine and Mother’s and Grandmother’s all at once, though our faces are very different. The woman-faced tortoise-square sprouted short little arms and legs, conical in shape, and hoisted itself up to a standing position atop the table.

“Do you think you are a good person?” she asked in a low voice like a hum.

I looked over my shoulder to Grandmother, who was puttering around the kitchen, knocking our fine china off the shelf, whereupon plates and cups and saucers shattered as they hit the ground, the music of a great wave crashing against the shore, shards like seashells. She paid no mind to the falling china nor to the woman-faced tortoise-square speaking to me. I was far from shocked.

“I never gave it much thought,” I answered in earnest. Then I gave it some thought. “Most likely yes.”

The woman-faced tortoise square let out a quiet laugh 2

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like the rumbling of thunder.

“No...small...feat,” she moaned, chasms between each word. “”

Her pupils shrank into pins. She sucked on her teeth, in the way that Grandmother often does.

“Wicked child,” continued the woman-faced tortoise square, a wide and unnatural grin painted onto her soft face like a ribbon of frosting on a glazed doughnut. “None of this matrilineage has ever been a good person. I have chosen you to be the first. Listen to your mother wail. Such melodrama. Listen to the crash of china upon the ground, how negligent! Not like a tortoise at all. I will show you the way. I will show you how to live a moral life. I will show you how to walk slowly, speak softly, and act phlegmatically. I will deliver you.”

I considered her words, to my left I spied a broom, I picked it up and struck the woman-faced tortoise-square in the center of her infantile face. She flailed her stubby arms and shrieked, eyes turning milky white, a white film like frost or mycelium emerging from her mouth and covering her body in



a silky cocoon.

“Ouch,” she croaked.

Another plate shattered. Mother wailed. The body of

the woman-faced tortoise-square evaporated into the air, leaving behind only her shell spinning like a top upon the table. The spinning shell slowed down, and then stopped. I felt so light I could float to the ceiling. With the broom still in my hands, I decided I ought to clean up the shattered china on the floor. As I swept, pleasant shapes of greenish brown, each the size of a small cat, danced at my feet. They were baby tortoises, emerging from the pieces of broken china as though they were eggshells. Each was wreathed in a garland of honeysuckle and baby’s breath, shells painted with whirling calligraphy in white ink, fragrance of ambrosia filling my nose, the sound of altar bells ringing out ever so brightly. Outside, the spring rain began to come down, heavy as bricks, imbuing trees and flowers with delicious life.


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past 72nd st Kate Bird

khaki pants hand in pocket look away at begging man wallet full leather bound hair coiffed french man eyes dart laugh hard safe again to feel no shame begging man shuffles past eyes down heart crumpled dollar bills crumpled too is there an intersection for these two both men tried hard to avoid a fall on hard time time relented for one forgave the other



shamed another son, where’s your mother lost again prosperous for rent propelling oneself to an end can’t relent time gives no favors no mercy so here we are at 72nd st passing the time somehow


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Is this a Memory or a Dream Sharon Young

I have recurring dreams of living in a world ablaze. Scorching temperatures that keep humans from venturing outdoors during the day. In my dreams, we’re nocturnal creatures now, getting by moonlight and the stars. A nod to our ancestors. The days are getting darker now anyways. Smog hides the sun like a veil. Sometimes entirely. I joke to Trevor that he should quit smoking. I’ll quit when I’m 25 he says. On the bus, I overhear ladies discussing the latest curfew to prevent us from stepping out into the toxic air. I only wear one designer now, she gives her friends a twirl. The clothing is durable and has the same filters the astronauts use at NASA. My biggest problem with apocalyptic movies has always been the way it portrayed the world post-disaster. When humans were living in caves, they painted on the walls and comforted each other with stories until the fires died out. During the Great Plague of London, theater troupes traversed far and wide to perform to small villages instead. There was a human drive to create, to entertain, to adventure. Now that the disaster has come, people are still out partying. We’re determined to leave with a bang - even if that’s the last thing we do.



Nightmare on Wall Street Macy Rajacich


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(Lights up on a Franklin McCain, one of the four college students to begin the series of non-violent protest in Greensboro USA) McCain What really happened was that we were scared. Yes, we walked tall and yes, we did give that photographer a blank stare as he took our picture but inside, I felt all my brothers tremble. Inside, we all knew what sitting at those counters meant. (A large African American man dressed up identical to a soldier stands next to McCain) Soldier (yelling loudly right at the front of his face, McCain stares straight ahead without flinching) Brother, do you know!? (Another man appears, this one is white, he stands on stage for a second blankly staring before pulling out a cigarette and taking out his lighter to light it, a black woman or man {no preference} stands next to him, seems to be interviewing him) Interviewer Sir, according to this photo taken of you, you were smoking



inside the dinner as you watched this white colleague of yours pour a drink onto this white woman’s head who was supporting the Greensboro sit-in, why was that? Cigar No reason really. Wanted something to relax as I watched chaos unfold. That chick had it comin’, sitting next to that nigger like that. Probably was some feminist lesbian who practiced witchcraft, may god have mercy on her soul. Soldier Brother! Brother, do you know how they aim to hurt you!? Brother! Do You!? Do You Know?! McCain They trained us, they trained us well… prepared us for anything. Sometimes, I look back and feel as if it wasn’t enough. Harsh words were thrown at us, milkshakes dumped on our heads as if we were trash. (Interviewer begins to sing) Interviewer MISSISSIPPI GODDAMN! (News reporter appears, and begins to report to the audience the news) News “About 150 Ku Klux Klan members in hoods and robes were 10

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taunted and welcomed as they marched through the streets of downtown Greensboro” (William E. Schmidt, 1987). McCain It was disgusting to watch, to listen to those people. Listen as those people march and fight to take our rights away. Interviewer ALABAMA’S GOT ME SO UPSET! News “Their first public rally here since a 1979 demonstration that left five people dead” (Schmidt, 1987). McCain Something as small as my skin color seems to make these people hate me seems to make these people want me dead. Interviewer TENNESSEE MADE ME LOSE MY REST. Soldier Brother! If only! Brother, if only I could prepare you enough for your mission! BUT BROTHER, MY YELLING CAN ONLY DO SO MUCH! McCain I felt their hatred, I felt it ooze and drip from their hands as they continuously shook our stools, I felt it seep into my soul.



Interviewer MISSISSIPPI GOOOODAMN! McCain The rancorous way they threw food on us, the way they yelled and hit us. At one point I felt as if the entire world was shaking. All we did was sit and look ahead. Never lash out, never respond to their hate, it was what we were trained to do. Soldier BROTHER IF ONLY I COULD PREPARE YOU FOR IT ALL! (Soldier shoves McCain roughly before walking off, McCain continues to look ahead, unfazed) News “Dr. Martha Nathan whose husband was among those killed … she said her 8-year-old daughter had asked her if the Klan would kill people when it marched again in Greensboro,” (Schmidt, 1987). Interviewer OH! OOH! MISSISSIPPI GODDAMN! Goddamn Mississippi. White Man What do you mean “why did I pour that drink onto that white woman?” that woman had it comin’, she was supporting a group of lazy good for nothing niggers.


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News Martha said to her daughter, “Can I honestly answer no to a child who now does not remember her father because he was shot and killed by one of the same Klansmen?” (Schmidt, 1987). McCain (McCain’s face begins to falter slightly) It’s as if America doesn’t seem to get that the Klan actually murdered people here in Greensboro, in cold blood, in cold blood they killed us. All because we stand against their idea of a perfect America, (Sarcastically) an America without us niggers. Interviewer ALABAMA YOU GOT ME SO UPSET. McCain I don’t know what to do anymore, I don’t know where this nation is heading … sometimes it feels as if this progress, this thing that me and my four friends did was for nothing. Years later and it’s as if nothing’s changed. Wall after wall. this hate continues to thrive somehow when will they know we’re all the same? Interviewer EVERYBODY KNOWS ABOUT MISSISSIPPI, GODDAM.



McCain Did you know there were sit-ins before us? Before me and my group of friends? Interviewer I THINK EVERYDAYS GONNA BE MY LAST I DON’T BELONG HERE I DON’T BELONG THERE. McCain Groups of whites and blacks working together, sitting where they weren’t supposed to be sitting, A good 15 years before me, (Barbara T Wilson, 1993). Yet here I am, doing it all over again. (McCain becomes visibly distraught, trembling). 15 years later! Interviewer JUST TRYIN TO DO MY VERY BEST JUST TRYIN BUT ALL I WANT IS EQUALITY FOR MY SISTER MY BROTHER AND ME 14

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MY COUNTRY IS FULL OF LIES AND WE’RE ALL GOING TO DIE LIKE FLIES. McCain This desegregation is too slow. I don’t know how they don’t see our pain, how they don’t feel it. Interviewer YOU DON’T HAVE TO LIVE NEXT ME TO GIVE ME MY EQUALITY. McCain I don’t know man, I don’t know brother. I don’t know brother Brother Sadly I don’t know (McCain hugs himself before slowly sinking down to his knees, upset and exhausted.) But But brother, it all feels too slow. Interviewer MISSISSIPPI GODAMN!



Into the Descent Sylvia Welch

Behind the tree lined horizon the creamsicle rays outline the world in shadow. You will not know when dusk ends, but if you lay under the stars, in the cradle of cicadas, You will know night. I want to know morning. The long-awaited dawn of dew on sleeping lawn and waking chickadees In gently swaying trees.


Julia Hayden


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Onika Gregory




Zeng Hong Li The blazing harshness of light blinded my sight, and the strange familiarity of the evening derive echoed like a fabricated déjà vu. Some blocks ago, a dreaming cat, with paleness soft as drifting clouds, disappeared, unseen, in the haze of my reflection. The same remembrance of the late summer breeze carried me through the warmness of the sun - that embraced my left cheek, and the soil on the ground was no longer dry, but moistened in the past of forgotten rain. I could feel the coarseness of the cobblestone pavement, hidden in the alley of an unexpected turn, the piercing sun gazing at my own shadows. The reverie of lingered memories whispered in my head, and in the roasted scent of mollusks and shellfishes, the occasional kimonos and dangos along the busy nakamise. So the crowds disappeared as I made an entry to the right: an alleyway to the horizon of blue, gold - in sparkle, spoken of time in the endless flowing of sands. Hearing the waves ebbing and flowing beneath the horizon of Mount Fuji - glowing in air of muted pink. The early night skies, seems so distant, yet so close. In the quiet night of a desolate nakamise, a solitary walker pondered to the countless stars that slept in idyllic comfort summer’s cool air in warm tatami. And the weary mind of a distant traveler, he saw the gentle savor glowing in the neon of a shokudo. Sweet steamed porgy 18

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- dreaming in marinating clams - tender kisses to the warmest of time. Moonlight at bay, cicadas rested in august air, listening to the silence of sea. Travelers dissipating in apparition, that slept in the passage of distant time - faded away, the unlit balconies of timid crows and beyond the inexhaustible light in seas of nocturnal dream.

our Sun is a hot ball of glowing gases Jimmy Platto



Time Flies in Chelsea Market Julia Hayden


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A Staten Island Love Story Nikki Kinnear

Tyler takes out his best denim jacket from his closet. “How

could I forget you, Gucci?” He whispers this to himself. Tyler lays the denim jacket, buttons facing down, on his made bed. Tyler slowly let his first two fingers follow the red and white patch in the shape of a snake on the whole backside of his favorite denim jacket. He loves to feel every stitch whenever he takes out this jacket. It has almost become a ritual. It reminds him of how authentic this Gucci denim jacket truly is. Tyler had spent about $3,200 on this jacket. This thought excites him and touching the snake patch makes his neck sweat and his stomach turn. Tyler had not forgotten about his best denim jacket; it would have been almost impossible for him to do so. Tyler wears the same denim Gucci jacket every Friday night. The moment he caresses the snake patch is the moment his stomach muscles open the cage where the butterflies in his stomach reside. They begin to flutter and Tyler’s fingers continue: red, white, red, white. He usually pairs this jacket with black jeans, a white t-shirt, and his very fresh and very crisp Air Force 1s. “Tonight is the night. I can feel it in my bones.” Tyler also whispers this out loud to absolutely no one. Tyler is alone. Tyler’s friends work on Fridays.

He sprays his neck once with his best cologne. He sprays

his right wrist once. He sprays his left wrist once. He sprays his



torso twice—one on his chest and the other right under his belly button. He sprays the space directly in front of him three times, and walks through the mist, making sure he smells his best. His dad had taught him this trick. “When you do this, you become a piece of meat. And all girls are attracted to the smell of this meat, Tyler. How do you think I got your mother?” Whenever Tyler thinks of his old man saying this to him as a teenager, he smiles. Tyler’s dad always has the best tricks.

Tyler slides his gold Rolex that he bought for himself as

a “just cause” gift. No girl would believe he made the salary he makes if he didn’t have the material to show it. Tyler had learned in a psychology course he took in his local college that women are biologically attracted to men with money. He thinks it has something to do with stability. But, Tyler doesn’t care much, nor does he remember. That was years ago and Tyler had only taken enough credits to become a police officer. He never really paid any attention in school. When his grades began to slowly sink during his freshman year, he would tell his mother, “College is a scam. I’m smarter than those liberal bums.” 60 credits. That’s all Tyler needed to be appointed to the title of Police Officer. After two years of barely getting by with more Cs than Bs on his transcript, Tyler was finally ready to start his journey as a New York City police officer. Then, Tyler failed. He failed the test with a 63%. “I’m smarter than that job. They don’t pay enough anyways,” is what Tyler told his disap22

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pointed mother. Tyler definitely played it off cool. But, deep down, Tyler knew he had to find a way to make money. And with more money, the more girls he could persuade to sleep with him. And with the more women who slept with him, the higher his chances were for finding a mate. And wearing his Gucci denim jacket and his gold Rolex made Tyler feel three inches taller. And when Tyler feels three inches taller, getting rejected was out of the question. That is when Tyler decided to do himself a favor and work full time for his dad’s construction company.

These items made him care about his appearance. They

pushed him to go to the same bar, Tabs, every Friday night in hopes of finding the girl of his dreams. The girl he can spend his money on. After Tyler’s fifth look in the mirror and third hair adjustment, he confirms his UberPool. Three minutes. He has three minutes to gather all of his belongings. Wallet, check. Phone, check. AirPods, check. Grandma’s mass card, check. “Let’s roll.” Tyler is agitated. He thinks it’s because he didn’t check the weather app before leaving his house. Rookie mistake. He keeps thinking to himself, I wouldn’t have worn my best denim jacket. Yet, Tyler knows very well that this is a lie. He then realizes that he picked an UberPool, instead of an UberX. Another rookie mistake. No wonder why he’s sitting in the back of a black Toyota Camry, rather than a black BMW. Tyler is embarrassed. He is hoping that there won’t be any broads outside of Tabs when he pulls up. But then



Tyler remembers that the girls who go to Tabs are too mature to be hanging around outside, smoking cigarettes. “These are real women. They’re not some low lives addicted to bogies.” Tyler whispers this out loud, except this time, Syed, the driver is very much listening to him speak. The radio is off. Tyler takes a quick rip from his Juul to calm himself down.

Syed makes one stop to pick up another customer, who

happens to be a man named Rob. When Rob enters the car, he gives Syed his name to confirm identities, and gives Tyler a nod. Tyler gives a nod in return, but immediately puts in his Airpods. Tyler wants to avoid a conversation with a stranger at all costs. He doesn’t know who Rob is, or his intentions. Tyler can tell by the clothes Rob is wearing (a graphic tee, with the title “Seinfeld” across his chest) that Rob is probably a vegan. This thought disgusts Tyler. Tyler cannot trust vegans or vegetarians. Their intentions scare him, too. He knows Rob is not a real man, he wouldn’t have chosen such a lame shirt to wear. Tyler then notices that Rob has a tattoo on his left forearm. The tattoo is what looks like a cluster of planets with words he cannot read from so far away.

Figures, this dude MUST be gay. Graphic t-shirt? Planet

tattoo? Head nods? I’d never be caught dead looking like this guy. All the men in my family, including me, have the same bible verse, Corinthians 13:4-71, tattooed on our chests. The most painful spot on the human body. We all have matching prayer hands with the 24

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rosary beads. God and family are first. Forever. Never, would I brand myself as a moron with a bunch of fucking planets, Tyler thinks. Tyler is beginning to sweat.

The more he thinks, the more he wishes the other rider

were a woman. Women. God, did Tyler adore women. He thinks about all of the 5 star restaurants in Staten Island that his parents go to on Saturday nights. Wouldn’t it be great to share the night with a beautiful woman by my side? Tyler looks up from his phone for a brief moment. He is listening to “Despacito,” the song featuring Justin Bieber. The light rain from before has begun to fall harder. The droplets on his window are getting larger. He stares at one single droplet starting from the top of his window, and travel its way to the bottom. He watches this same droplet fuse together with the others that are in its way. This single drop of water becomes bigger and bigger, all because it inserts itself into other droplets. It is hard to avoid this droplet; the smaller ones are getting railed by the large mass. Tyler is mesmerized. The power this drop of water holds! Tyler strives for that type of power among women. Tyler counts thirteen seconds. It takes thirteen seconds for this droplet of water to journey its way to the end. Tyler feels the butterflies wake up. He takes out his phone, opens the Twitter app, and clicks on blue button with the feather pen on the bottom right corner of his screen and tweets, “Where’s my soulmate at?”



1 Corinthians 13:4-7 – Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Tyler walks into the bar and shakes the bouncer’s hand.

It is definitely warmer inside than it is outside, but Tyler would not dare take off his Gucci denim jacket. The crowd is at its peak during this time: 11:15 pm. Tyler knows that at this point, the women here are already at least two or three mixed drinks in, sufficiently drunk enough to approach. Tyler understands that the drunker a girl is, the more likely she will engage in a conversation for more than two minutes. Tyler needs about seven minutes flat to tell the chosen one his salary, his favorite TV show, and the celebrity in which the woman reminds him of. Tyler sits on the same stool, left side of the bar, second to last seat by the wall. Now, Tyler waits. He orders one drink, to start himself off.

“Jameson, on the rocks.”

“Sure, Tyler.”

The bartender, Dave, knows Tyler’s name and his order

by heart. He knows Tyler always begins with a Jameson on the rocks. When he finishes it, he orders one more and then asks 26

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for water. But, occasionally, when times are rough, Tyler skips the water and goes straight to the third. Tyler always tips $3. After four Friday nights in a row of watching Tyler struggle to finish his first drink, Dave realized Tyler hates the taste of Jameson. He just cannot seem to figure out why Tyler orders the same thing every time. Fortunately, Dave does not find this bothersome. Tyler’s existence has become a game for Dave. At 11pm every Friday night, Dave hopes Tyler will walk through those doors with literally any other outfit on. He hopes Tyler will change his order. Tyler is the heart of Tabs’ real entertainment.

The DJ is playing Don’t Stop Believing, and at this

point, just about everyone in the bar is singing along, as if the song came out last week. Tyler receives his second Jameson on the rocks. It is 11:45pm. Tyler begins to feel the butterflies make their way back into their cage. Without getting off of the stool, he has just been simply waiting for the right girl to walk by. “It’s almost 12. Every girl here is basically a 5 or a 6.” Tyler does not whisper this time. He says it loud enough for anyone who is 1-2 feet away to hear. He does not realize how loud he projected, because one and a quarter Jameson on the rocks makes Tyler light headed. His hands begin to sweat. He sees the back of a girl’s head. She has brown curly hair. Similar to a girl he had met a few weeks ago at Tabs around this exact time. Tyler



knows this because he just checked his phone.

Tyler makes his way to the other side of the bar. He is

pretty sure her name is Briana. With confidence in one hand and his Jameson in the other, Tyler taps Briana on her left shoulder. She turns around, stunned.

“Hey, Briana, right?”

“Uh, haha. Yes,” Briana answered, with a smile. Not a

welcoming smile, a smile of mockery, rather.

“I texted you! Is your phone broken or something?


Tyler had received Briana’s phone number a few weeks

ago. He has texted her “Heyy” every Friday night since then. Briana responded once with a, “Sorry.” With a pained look in Briana’s eyes, she responds, “Ah, yes, Tyler. No, my phone is not broken.” She turns her body back around to face her girl friends. Tyler did not compute the last part of her rejection. In which he only heard her say his name. And for Tyler, that was enough validation. She remembered his name. Tyler taps her right shoulder this time. “Briana, can I buy you a drink?”

She only turns her head around, keeping her body

facing her friends. “No, Tyler. I’m okay. They’re expensive here. Don’t waste your money.”

This is it. “Aw, don’t worry about the money, sweetheart.

I am actually transferring jobs. My salary is going from $100K 28

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to $125K.” Tyler smirks. Tyler straightens his back. “Okay. Well, that’s really nice.” Briana says with very little emotion. Tyler cannot hear anything.

“Let me buy you a drink.”

“No, thank you.”

“Come on, I am telling you, its no problem.” Tyler is

sweating. He takes a sip from his Jameson and tries his hardest not to make a sour face as his mouth and throat begin to sting. Briana pretends Tyler is not standing directly behind her. Briana takes her friend’s wrist and drags her to the bathroom. Briana’s two other friends are standing in front of Tyler.

“I’m gonna go get another drink.” Tyler retreats back

to his stool on the other side of the bar. Dave had his third Jameson on the rocks already prepared for Tyler. He chugs down the rest of his second drink, and half of his third. The drinks finally hit Tyler. He takes out his phone again and tweets, “No one ever knows my next move.” Round two, here we go.

“Briana, baby. Listen to me. Come over here.”

Briana sighs. “Yes, Tyler. What’s up?”

“Yo, Briana! Wow. I can’t believe it’s you! Aha.”

“Yes. I’m still here.”

“I was just thinking how guys don’t take girls on, like,

proper dates anymore. You know? Aha, like, I just want to



spoil my dream girl.”

“Yea, I can’t hear you.”

“Well, aha, I was thinking, like, maybe, like, you

would… you know, wanna go to a wedding with me, or something? It’s in Greece. I’ll pay for everything, of course.” Tyler awkwardly laughs. This makes Briana extremely uncomfortable. Confused, even.


“Nah, yeah. I’m kidding! I’m kidding. I’m not that crazy,

Briana, haha. What about a breakfast date? You know? Just me and my dream girl. Aha, we can, like, get pancakes.” Tyler continues to laugh. Briana’s friends are now uncomfortable. “Tyler.”

“Anything. Literally anything you want I will buy you. If

it means I get to spend any amount of time with you. Please. Aha.”

“You’re being weird.”

“I’ll pay you to go to the wedding with me.”


“You’re the love of my life.”

“Get away from me.”

“Aha, are you saying you want to have sex with me?”

And with that, Tyler now has a vodka Sprite all over his

best denim jacket. Tyler is pissed. Now he has to take his Gucci denim jacket to the dry cleaners. Since when are women not 30

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into genuine, hardworking, humble, men? A disgrace. Briana is missing out on the best thing that could have ever happened to her. It’s very hard to find a girl who is smart, funny, athletic, and knows how to have a great time. I have so much love to give to the right girl, but who’s right anymore? I need someone real in my life. Tyler thinks about all of this as he pays his tab.

Tyler’s UberX is outside. Tyler’s Airpods are in. “Mar-

vin’s Room” by Drake is playing on the loudest setting. It is drizzling. Tyler gets into the car. It is only 12:30. Tyler smells like alcohol. He is almost incoherently drunk. Tyler takes his phone back out of his right hand pocket, and opens Twitter for the last time today. His followers mean a lot to him. He knows his Internet presence is a vital factor when picking up chicks. Tyler is desperately trying to synthesize the night. His inebriated brain is trying to piece together where and when everything went wrong.

It wasn’t anything I said. She was clearly vibing with me.

My fit was dope. I smelled great. Everything was perfect.

After eight minutes of solid thinking, Tyler finally

tweets, “Maybe I’m ugly.”



Shape Shift

Olivia Baldacci


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Room Service Iridian Castillo

An inexpensive hotel on the Upper East Side. A long, muted hallway with the buzz-buzz of a doorbell ringing down to the garbage chute. SANDY QUINN stands outside of No. 28, DIEGO de LA VEGA’s room until the end of the week. She hides behind a carry-on canvas tote bag and a waist-high fort made up of checked baggage, waiting for an answer. DIEGO (pulling open the door, glaring down on his smartphone) That’s Diego, is it? SANDY (scrunching her eyebrows for comedic effect) No...that’s you, isn’t it? DIEGO What are you doing here? Are you with UberEats now? Has it gotten that bad? SANDY No. I’m here on my own accord. DIEGO I’ve been expecting an ambush.



(waves her into his life, locking the door right after) SANDY (removes her scarf, caressing her baby bump to do something with her hands) A suite. Is someone here with you? DIEGO Like I said, I was expecting someone...just not you. SANDY Gee, thanks. DIEGO Oh, please. You live on the other side of the globe, Dee. I don’t ever expect to see you. I mean I get the occasional postcard, but that holds me through for the year. SANDY (waddles into the living room, splatting onto the couch) I’m here now. (moves cushions over, making room for him to sit)


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DIEGO (strolls into the kitchen, distancing himself) And who’s fault is that? (poking his head out of the fridge) Listen, I have water and other stuff not suitable for someone in your…uh. State, condition? SANDY I’ll have water. Room temperature if you can. DIEGO (looks at the jug of ice-cubed water) Um...I can blow on it. SANDY (turns to see what is going on) Are you trying to make it warmer or cooler? DIEGO Incredible thing, the mouth. This— (demonstrates) —makes something cooler, like soup. But! This—



(demonstrates) —makes it warmer, like a frozen-bit icicle. SANDY (amused) You mean popsicle. DIEGO (chuckling to himself) I’m trying to make you feel at home. (sits on an opposite arm rest) SANDY I am home—New York is home. DIEGO Birmingham is your home. SANDY That’s just where I live. DIEGO Yeah, with your family. SANDY We might move.


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DIEGO (unamused) What are you doing here anyway? SANDY (taking a sip of water) Lizbeth called me. DIEGO I didn’t know we’d be calling dibs this early on. I guess we’re starting with friends. (crosses his arms) Are we in cahoots? SANDY I guess so. DIEGO So…what did she say? SANDY Do you want me to quote her? DIEGO Paraphrase. SANDY She’s obviously worried about you. She thinks you’re spiraling out of control because you haven’t been yourself in a while.



I mean, to be fair, I haven’t seen you acting yourself since we were twenty-six. Years before you two met! Anyway, Lizbeth said that she felt something was up starting four months ago. You kept dodging her calls after work. She would call twice, three times, four because she knew you should’ve been on your way to the apartment, but you never answered. Why didn’t you answer? Be honest, where were you? Is there someone else? What could you possibly be keeping from your wife? Your supposed best friend? Why didn’t you try harder to cover it up? (pauses for any possible excuse) Well, she hates that it came down to having to kick you out. She hoped it would give you an actual kick in the butt, but it’s been two weeks and nothing. Ha! Two weeks is nothing…But, seriously she’s frantic. Her father warned her about you and you’re only proving him right. Is that what you want? DIEGO (sucks his teeth) Okay…but what did she say? SANDY You’re not taking this seriously. DIEGO Who says? Of course, I am. I’m seriously taking it seriously.


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SANDY Then you’re not showing. You don’t seem like a thirty-fouryear-old man whose marriage is on the verge of shambles. A man who stole another man’s wife to make her his own…only to fuck that up. You should’ve just let her be. You seem to be better off alone. Look around! DIEGO (scoffing) I’m not showing. She isn’t showing. We’re not you. Let’s just move along, yeah? (coughs) When’s your flight back? SANDY I bought a one-way ticket. DIEGO Why would you do that? (unlocks his smartphone) I’m going to book you a seat on the next flight. On me, don’t worry. SANDY No, Dee. I’m here for you. DIEGO You need to be home.



SANDY This is home. How many times do I have to tell you that? DIEGO Wow, tickets are kind of expensive. How about we go halfsies? (looks up from his smartphone screen) Here’s one tomorrow morning. There! You’ll be with your husband and son in time for dinner. SANDY (shook) You didn’t. DIEGO I did. How is John anyway? What about—? SANDY John’s great. We’re thinking about moving, you know. And… Ollie’s great. He’s starting kindergarten soon—September. DIEGO Great, great. Everyone’s great. SANDY (scooting closer) Yup…and I can’t wait to get back to painting. I mean, as much as I can before the baby. 40

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DIEGO Another kid…imagine that! How old is Oliver anyway? Five, six? I can’t remember—I’ve missed a bunch of birthdays. He probably doesn’t even remember me. SANDY Yeah, well…that’s the way you always wanted it. DIEGO That’s not fair… SANDY I don’t want to make this about me—that’s not what I came here for—but how could you just leave that kind of responsibility on me? I went at it alone—raised him alone…for a whole year! Yet, you can’t take care of yourself for a week before I’m called to swoop in and take care of the “problem.” So, why did Lizbeth call me? She doesn’t even know me. Clearly. I wouldn’t be here if she did. I’m only here because I felt like I had to beat you to the punch. I was afraid you were going to go to Birmingham and bring me down with you. It wouldn’t be the first time, you know. DIEGO Go to England? Fuck that. You left for a reason…you didn’t want to give me a chance. I would’ve changed my mind. I would’ve caught my mistake, Dee. I just needed time.



SANDY How much time did you need? I gave you an entire year, Dee! I moved on. I met someone…a man for the two of us. We went to England where he already had a life. Then, I decided to be the bigger person and invite you into our lives. Sure, it would’ve been weird at first, but whose family isn’t these days? What if Ollie finds out one day? He’ll hate John. But you refused. (quoting) Two fathers would be confusing. DIEGO (nods) It would be. I stand by that. SANDY I never understood that. DIEGO You know…Al wasn’t in my life growing up. I mean, he still isn’t. I—I don’t have any point of reference. I want Oliver to have a normal life. A father, a mother…a brother— SANDY Sister. We’re having a girl. DIEGO Have you thought about names yet? What about Deidre? She’ll fit in with that name.


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SANDY (struggles to stand up, hanging her canvas tote bag on her shoulder) I don’t know why I’m here. DIEGO Give me a break. I’m in the middle of some stuff, Dee. My marriage is falling apart as we speak. SANDY I didn’t ask to come here. Lizbeth called me. DIEGO You still came. SANDY I’m concerned. DIEGO You could’ve called. SANDY You would’ve convinced me to come home anyway. DIEGO I need you to go home now. SANDY QUINN and DIEGO de LA VEGA have a stare off, reliving two different versions of a past relationship. She thought she had closed that chapter in her life, but still felt compelled



to take a ten-hour flight to see if anything still lingered between them. He didn’t want to inflict anymore damage that could be passed on no matter how much he wanted to talk about it. DIEGO Fine, stay. I’ll find a place for the night. SANDY This is your suite. I should go. DIEGO Don’t worry about me. I’ve been here two weeks; it’s getting boring. (throws an overnight bag together) SANDY Where are you going? (remembers where she is) What am I saying? This is a hotel. They’ve got spare rooms coming out of their ears. DIEGO (opens the door, staring dead into a delivery boy’s face) Holy crap, have you been here this whole time? Why didn’t you knock, man? 44

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Chat Doja

Jordan Ortiz



Black Orange

Kesha Peyrefitte


“Where is the jade?” I would say to piss her off. “Oh, here we go again!” She snapped, every time.


How could I forget her? It’s not every day you get to see

the soul of a Belizean Creole Muslim Indian. Her father was a formidable man, a broad-shouldered engineer who built bridges all over the Caribbean. Belizean he was who studied in India and brought back his bride, Kishna, with him. I always liked Kishna and after my mother passed, she became a mother-figure. They had two daughters, Priya and Hawa, with Priya inheriting her mother’s dairy-hued complexion and eyes the shade of resin. Hawa, the younger sister, is my god sister. Before my mother passed, she took Hawa with her everywhere and that meant that Hawa and I were seldom separated. For a year, Priya and I dated when we were both eighteen. Hawa was maybe a pre-teen then and I bought her care bears on every holiday.

The studded hoop in Kishna’s nose sparkled in the

warm, orange sunset. Kishna sat on her veranda as I carried a Nescafe bottle of coffee to their home. Hawa bustled in and 46

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out of their home, gathering what I assumed were workout gear.

“You know this bottle of coffee raise from last month,

Miss Kishna?” I began. “By nearly two dollars.”

“Cost of living will kill us,” Kishna agreed. Out the

corner of my eyes, I could see Hawa’s eyes rolling as she pulled on a pair of trainers next to me. I was being serious but it sweeted me so to see her so vexed.

“I drove home done mad and it was like ants eating me

when I saw the blasted political slogans on the lamp-post, talking about, ready to serve. More like ready to thief.”

Kishna laughed and pulled a yellow sari closer to her,

“Daniel, boy, you giving me kicks.”

I heard Hawa inside the house now, “I’d like to kick him

in the…”

“Then they talking about the Ministry of Immigration,

more like the Ministry of Corruption. And where is the jade? Where is the jade head and why is it not in Belize?” I concluded.

“Helter Skelter!” she screamed at me, heading out to

the tracks in her team uniform. Ha! I knew I’d gotten on her nerves. It was too easy sometimes with Hawa.



Hawa’s other worldly look suited her just fine though the old timers thought she was odd. I don’t think she ever wanted to be perceived as normal. Her extraordinary get up was something between goth and steam punk, accompanied by red-lips and a coloured, draped hijab. On cool, clear evenings, I went to the tracks to run, trying to maintain a physique I thought was God’s gift. I would usually meet Hawa there, practicing her sprints. Hawa’s legs and thighs slowed her down, just enough though, for a second or third place podium finish. Hawa was in high school then and I had just started my career in I.T. “I want gold.” She said, practicing sprints in succession. I wondered if she was running away from my audible grievances of why construction at the Marion Jones Stadium still wasn’t finished or running for a gold medal, not for herself, but for her father. See, both Priya and Hawa were smart and many perceived that Priya edged Hawa out for beauty. So, Hawa did everything, to shine brighter than her sister, to shine in her father eyes, to shine brighter than the sun if she could. We two had this in common-fathers perched in the high canopies, who said little, expected much and were hardly ever satisfied. Under the dome of twilight, we climbed what we called, Car Mountain, an abandoned lot where the city, closest to our 48

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village, kept crashed cars. At the back of the lot, just east, cars were piled and as if set by nature, they resembled a compacted, crooked mountain. Climbing to the top of Car Mountain with Hawa was exhilaration. Yes, I should know better- I was an adult, barely in my twenties and we didn’t climb with harnesses but we had climbed Car Mountain hundreds of time for the view, of tree limbs curtsying in the wind and the sky alight in fire colors. Eventually, we would discuss village gossip, daring each other to buy sweet ice from Li-Man and his dirty, shaved ice. We joked about Jasho calling himself the original dreadlocks Maya. “I dreamt godmother, Daniel. Last night,” she said. I turned to the dying sun, frozen, blinking back tears. “She was at the fence with my mother talking like they always did. She was smiling so much, laughing joyfully even.” “Liar.” I said, looking at her. “You know I never lie. I’d never lie about something like that. She was happy and I think it’s because she is proud of you.” I snorted and laughed at her ridiculous suggestion. What had I done but stayed in school? “You’re not very good at a medium.” Hawa was taken back, a little hurt even. So I did the only thing I knew would



either make her smile or irate her and then make her smile. “Well, if she is proud it’s because of my views on things.” “What things?” she asked sceptically. “You know, my conscious vibes.” “Ha!” “Like why they call our country a developing nationwhy not-” As usual, she screamed, “Helter Skelter!” I smiled and started to climb down. “Stop saying that. That song is associated with a very bad man.” “Yes, I know and I’ll stop saying it when you stop tripping.”

iii. “Is everything a cause…an issue for you?” Hawa screamed, through beating breaths. “Yes, I’m an adult with issues.” “I believe you.” I trailed behind her. Hawa now picked up Cross Country riding in her last year of high school, as ever, going for gold. I accompanied sometimes because I shamelessly did not ever want to lose the V-of my lower abdomen to unchecked 50

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lipids. I remember the tail of her hijab those days, floating behind her like silk ribbons. Those were the best days when I got to see her. Hawa was something of a popular girl in school, from what I heard from the youngsters who took computer lessons with me after classes. Hawa was an academic, an athlete, an overachiever who joined every school club and non-profit in the city. I wasn’t surprised. There were one in a million who were like Hawa. When I did see her, Hawa was my custard apple catcher. I climbed tall custard apple trees and she stayed on the ground, catching the fruit when I carefully released. If they were too delicate and burst in her hand or right next to her, she laughed so much, she rolled on the Bahama grass in my father’s ranch. And when I came down, with her hands covered in sweet flesh, Hawa ran me down to cover my shirt in Custard Apple, laughing until I climbed another tree and we decided on a truce. Hawa’s idea of a truce involved floating down the Belize River on inflated black tubes, racing and endless, ridiculous games of ‘would you rather’ and ‘plead the fifth’. “What’s your favourite color?” Hawa asked. “Black.” “God, you are so morbid, Daniel.”



“That’s me. What’s yours?” “Orange.” “Of course, you loud teenager.” We both laughed and paddled downstream.

Then, still in dampened swimming shorts and suits, we climbed Car Mountain and sat atop of our usual car, a green Grand Torino. It was hard not to be reverent on those sunset evenings, observing leaves gilded from the setting sun and the hushing of sugarcane shoots. “If you had a ladder that lead to the sky what or who would you bring down?” Hawa asked. I didn’t reply. I looked down on her and we both smiled. We shared the same answer. She placed her arms inside of mine and rested her garbed head on my shoulder. I never noticed before. There was a mist to Hawa, the way a Belizean house smelled on Christmas morning. Her aroma was voluptuous, the perfume of a rainforest flower.

I had never noticed before. She had a beauty mark at

the bottom of her lips. I never noticed before. Looking down on her, I saw the apex of her lips, full and stained in rich sorrel. There is something in the air when I’m with Hawa but never like this before. She made the painful ticking of the clock 52

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tower that is my brain ceased. Time stopped. A static energy pulled her closer to me, as strong as the gravity of tides. As we climbed down Car Mountain, I hoped that lightning would strike twice.

iv. I saw little of Hawa. She graduated high school and at her graduation bash, I saw only, the tail of her hijab flitting in and out of the crowds of family and friends. Though only a house separated our homes, in the four years she spent at the University of Belize, I might have spoken to her four or five brief times. Hawa still possessed a naïve energy to change the world and well, me, I just wanted to forget it all, except for her. I didn’t want to forget Hawa. But she left. I didn’t even know she was leaving until a day before. She always said she wanted to be a doctor. Kishna asked me to take her to the airport as her father was away, building a dam in Barbados. By then, Priya was in the U.K. studying law. Kishna didn’t accompany us. Her eyes threatened to drown the Philip Goldson International Airport. Who could blame Kishna? She would live the life of a widow with two children away and a husband just the same. Hawa wore a white hijab, a white silk button down, and a black skinny jean. Soon, she placed her sunglasses on, after



my awkward chatter and nodded off, the front seat cradling her body. God, I hardly knew her! Why then, did she make her nest in my head and a home in my dreams?

As I drove, the sun shone through the leaves on the

trees that lined the highway and cast a pattern of lace on Hawa’s skin. It was as if I’d watch her mature through frosted glass. She was a young woman now, all grown-up. I watched myself in the rear-view mirror. My hairline was slightly receding and there were enough bar brawl souvenirs there to tell that I was struggling to keep my shit together.

We made it to the airport and Hawa was literally the last

person on her flight to check her bags. We did so in a frenzy and when Hawa finally settled down before moving forward to the departure lounge, she hugged me. She let go but I hugged again and told her. “Go for gold.” She smiled. Before I could stop myself, my lips brushed down her cheek and I kissed her, softly, for as long as I could. I opened my eyes and so did she. Shouts startled us both. A group of Hawa’s friends crowded her and I backed away. On the upstairs balcony of the PGA, her hijab whipped behind her like an old Hollywood screen siren. With her dark sunglasses and full, red lips, she blew her friends a kiss goodbye. Her eyes met mine before she stepped inside the 54

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Six years. She went away for six years and what about

me? What about me? I worked, I drank and I whored. What about me? Did she ever think about me? She never asked about me. She never reached out so I worked, I drank and I whored. I couldn’t forget. I couldn’t forget that night my mother was killed. The guilt. The guilt. The guilt. I couldn’t forget kissing Hawa. I couldn’t forget her.

I wandered lonely as I could and I worked to drink. My

father died and I didn’t shed a tear. I buried him a day later, no wake. After the crowd dispersed, I spat on the upturned dirt at his final resting place. He was in hell with Hitler and I might be going there soon too.

I wandered lonely as a cloud and in the darkness of my

life, I broke a stalactite and stabled myself with every drink I consumed. Yet, it didn’t consume me. And I couldn’t say the memories of Hawa did either but I thought of her every single day.

I wandered lonely as a cloud with these routines.

Whoring. I had sex with many women, too many to count. After I’d done, I dressed. Most women tried to kiss my back as I



did so and I asked for them to stop. If they protested in calling me names in the car, I shut the engine down in the middle of nowhere and told them to get out, This isn’t marriage at first date, cool it girl. These routines. Drinking and whoring were a fisherman’s net, unfortunate outings and empty emotions.

I wandered lonely as a cloud and like a turtle on the

shore, trying to make to the sea, salvation, I sink. I walk tirelessly in sinking, quicksand. Sinking, sinking, there is no end. These porcupine memories buried in my skin, their ghosts an unhappy haunt. Cemetery of sorrow, that’s where I lay my head, a luckless sleeper.

I wandered lonely as a cloud and I thought of Hawa,

the berry black beauty mark between the soft curves of her lips and chin. The rosy rouge of her skin, pink palms. Her face is a jewellery box and her eyes, dewdrops of diamonds. Her face shines like a torch in the darkness. I thought of our kiss, open-mouthed, a mild, lulling contact. Not anyone will do. Not anyone can match Hawa’s equal. Her beauty is like staring at the sun, she thaws the cold in me. She always have and she likely always will. I may never know. She’s gone away. vi.

I woke up one morning, a lagoon of blood drying

on white linen. Eh? I went to work anyway. I coughed and 56

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coughed and coughed. I couldn’t stop coughing blood. The blood was running down my nose too like someone shot me in the head, at point blank range. Maybe I was dying. Maybe I’m already dead. I drank that night like always and tried to convince a born-again blonde to come home with me. That’s the last I remembered.

The doctor said I needed to cold turkey the bottle and

bars. My liver was on life-support and I was the only one who could make a modern-day miracle of my condition or I could pull the plug on my mortality. I was resigned to death. I felt strangely at peace with the diagnosis until Kishna showed up. “Miss Kishna-” “Don’t bother.” She was practically crying. “You’ve been like a son to me. I know I can never be your mother but this is craziness. You killing yourself. I should have said something before. This foolishness stop now.” She filed out the discharge form at the private hospital and rode in the ambulance to the Western Regional with me. In the heat of the summer, I spent two weeks recovering in a hard hospital bed, among the scourge of the diseased. Kishna brought me breakfast and tea and there in the Men’s Ward, I met a friend who changed my life. Edwardo Unz was a labourer obsessed with customizing



his “baby”, his car and being a BOSS at the gun-show, exercising at one of the city gyms. Kishna came by on my last night in Chateau d’If with some habanero-flavoured chicken soup, topped with dumplings. She was on the phone. “Yes, Yes, I’m here Hawa.” My eyes diverted from the bowl to Kishna, who was handing me her cell phone. “It’s for you.” “Me. Why?” “Your god sister wants to talk to you.” “Me? Why?” “I don’t know, Daniel. I don’t read tealeaves. Boy here.” I took the phone. I placed it to my ears. I heard the Lumineers, “Stubborn Love” playing in the background. “Hello.” “Danny?” “Hi. Hawa.” “I’m so sorry.” “For?” “My mother said you are sick. I was busy with school. I’m doing internship. I work 16 hour days. I hardly even call home. I didn’t know.” “It’s okay, Hawa. How are you?” 58

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“I’m alive. How are you? That’s the question.” I told her I didn’t know yet but I was looking forward to the next couple of months. We spoke for thirty minutes like old times. She asked if Car Mountain was still there; it was not. We still laughed at village eccentrics like Armin who mispronounced every word in the English dictionary. Our silver lining was Li-Man still selling polluted, sweet-ice. Before Kishna left, she showed me pictures of Hawa in her internist scrubs, at a party, at the park, having lunch. Jesus, Hawa was about the same height but her upper half filled out. Quite a lot. Her face was still heart-shaped and her cheeks brimmed with radiance.

vii. I should have known something was wrong when I asked Hawa how she was doing and she told me she was “alive”, an abnormal and cryptic answer. “Hello. Hawa?” “No, silly. I don’t sound like her. It’s Priya.” “My bad. I’m sorry. Wait, you are calling from your mother’s number.” “Yes, I’m here.” Priya was only in country for a week and a half. She was



engaged to a Scotsman. “I can’t live here. Too little opportunities. Bad mind people galore and the government, no matter which side, corrupt no backside. I don’t know why Hawa still wants to come down here. She can easily get a work visa there in Dayton.” “How is she?” “Dreadful. You never know then?” I hadn’t. “With the election, there is lot of anti-Muslim discrimination and she getting lot of botheration from the bloody hillbillies. A month ago, she walking on the sidewalk and a bunch of hicks no gone and stone her with rotten eggs?” I felt my fingers clench into a fist. “I wish she would lose weight. That might make her a little happier. She’s such a little gummy bear.” “I think she looks stunning.” “Of course you do. You two are practically jointed at the-” “Heart.” I offered. “Whatever.” She said, leaving for the restroom. Later that night, Priya texted me, asking if she could come over for a nightcap. I didn’t reply until the day she flew out, wishing her a happy life. 60

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viii. Though flowers grow on cliff sides, I wondered if victory came too late for me. I grew quite muscular and I owned a muscle car and a recent addition of a Harley Davidson cruiser. On Saturdays, I worked on my babies and prepared for Sunday lunch. I sold most of my father’s ranch, leaving two acres where I planted fruit trees. I renovated the house into a Tudor style and I started a charity in the community, a namesake of my mother, where gainfully employed folks adopted a child and took care of all their educational needs. I got a whole lot of friends in the Diaspora to help too with groceries and clothing for struggling families. I was trying to absolve myself. Sometimes, though, the memory of seeing my mother dying stung me hot like the sky’s surface. ix. “It’s like a snowstorm of blossoms.” I froze and narrowed my eyes. I turned slowly around. Under the Mayflower tree, in light and shade, Hawa stood in a cascading rainstorm of red blossoms. She was wearing an embroidered white sari. I couldn’t help smiling. She lunged into me, catching my neck. We hugged there, swaying for a long time until she let go of me. She held my bicep. “Wow, Danny. You filled out.”



“You shouldn’t talk.” “I know, I’m fat.” “No, no, no, no. You are fine, Hawa. How long are you here for?” “Forever.”

She came during the season of Fisherman Christmas,

of potato pudding and hot cross bun. For two weeks, I could not get a good conversation with her. Hawa was busy applying for positions at local hospitals and I went away to Guyana for a work conference. Soon, though, we got into our regular rapport. Hawa couldn’t believe that my baby was the actual Grand Torino we sat on during the age of Car Mountain. A few Sundays, she was my plus one on the Harley. For the 89th running of the Holy Saturday Cross Country Classic, we collected plastic bottles and filed them with coconut water. It would be the first time Hawa gave the gladiator riders a drink they took to swallow, pocket or bathe the back of their necks. On the bright morning, as residents lined the streets, waiting in anticipation for the peloton, I held her waist from behind and stretched out her right hand. I moved forward and placed the bottle in her opened palm. “If they are interested in a bottle, they will cross over on the highway and slow down. That’s when you trot backwards. 62

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Hot girls like you are a target,” I grinned, “Be careful of the edges on the road. You wouldn’t want a bruised butt.” She grinned nervously.

The peloton whipped by. Hawa’s first rider made

a mess, causing the bottle to crash downwards, where it exploded on the hot tarmac. “Don’t worry,” I assured her, “It’s a foreigner.” I winked. As soon as that, another rider, a Belizean, slowed in front of the Hawa and grabbed the bottle, drinking, then pocketing. She came running towards me, hugging me, screaming God and all the saints’ names. Time slowed again as I forgot about the bottles in my hands or the buzz of the cycling peloton.

“You’ve changed,” Hawa told me. We were both sitting

side by side on a preserved log. I played hookie from work on a desperately hot day and we went to our usual watering haunt.

“Yes, I know. I’ve gotten impossibly handsome.”

“Haha. Very funny.”

“What? You don’t agree?” She blushed and started

paddling her legs back and forth in the cold creek.

“I mean, you’ve just changed, for the good.” Now, I was

the one looking down in the water, embarrassed. “What or who made you changed?”

“I don’t know. I was burnt out. I was either going to live



or die. So, I told Grim I’d see him some other time.”

“I’m sorry.” She looked at me. Her eyelashes were so

thick and long, they had their own shadow and underneath, two transcendent pools, wellsprings of my well-being.

“Don’t be. Please. You helped.”

“How? I was awful. I didn’t even write or reach out. I

barely did so to my parents.”

“Well, you reached out to me in memory.” The trees

from both banks of the creek met in the sky and I felt we were in an ancient tunnel, another place in time, utterly secluded from a divided world. If the world was going to war, perhaps sometime soon, I would want to face the fearful unknown with her. “I’ve never forgotten when I kissed you that day at the airport.” I told her. “I thought of the times we spent together a lot over these years and sometimes, they were the only good thing about my day. Look at your reflection, Hawa, it has always been you. I sure as hell wasn’t good enough back then but I am trying to be now and I think I am.”

I swam away. I was too chicken to see her reaction. We

didn’t speak the whole ride back to our houses and even days later, I was afraid to send her a text message. x. 64

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On a lonely Tuesday evening, Hawa came over with a

bottle of Nescafe.

“Seriously. Have you seen the price?” She indicated to

the bottle of coffee. We both started laughing. We watched an episode of Catfish in my living room and we were startled to hear rain hammering down on the zinc roof.

“Do you want a drink? I’ve only got some of the hard

stuff and coke.”

“Might as well,” Hawa reasoned. We went outside

on the veranda, overlooking the film of water and mist. We didn’t speak for a while, with Hawa glancing my way every few minutes, looking anxious. I bet she was cursing ever coming. I’d ruined it and made it unbearable to be in one space together for too long. When she finally looked back at me, she was crying.

“Please, please don’t.” I told her.

“No, I need to get this off my chest. I’m way selfish for

not reaching out but I didn’t know it was that bad with you. But you too. Why didn’t you ask my mom for some way to get in touch with me?”

“Hawa, I wouldn’t. I couldn’t. The man I was. I was an

animal and there was no way I could live with myself if I got you tangled in my menagerie.”



The rain didn’t relent. Hawa laid on my chest. We laid

on my bed with our clothes silently. For an hour, I watched the crying crayon box of colours outside my window as the rain finally slowed to a drizzle. She looked up and said, “I’ve won gold.” I smiled stupidly. I was sure I knew what she meant. “I hope it was worth the wait.” She reached forward and we kissed. “Hmmhmm.” Hawa won gold, though I sure I had nothing to do with it. And I’d found something more precious than the jade head to lament.


We sat on lawn chairs under one of the Craboo trees,

marvelling at the umbre yellow and orange blossoms. It was the third year a red breasted bird sought to rebuild a nest at the top of a hallowed hardwood that still stood to the side of my house. Hawa read from one of my old bedtime books, this one a book of poetry verses. Hawa slept over when my mother was alive. “Do you remember when you my mom used to read us The Wonderful World? “Yeah. I think it’s in this book. Let me find it.” Hawa flipped through the pages and she started reading from William Brighty Rands. Sure, the verse wasn’t of Rumi or 66

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Walcott but its words just as dear to me for it was my mother’s words I heard in the words. Great, wide, beautiful, wonderful World With the wonderful water round you curled, And the wonderful grass upon your breast, World, you are beautifully dressed. Hawa was working now at one of the private medical centres. She recommended therapy with Dr. Medrana. I spent over three hundred dollars on appointments that lasted only five minutes with Dr. Medrana announcing, “Where do we begin?” “I’m just not ready yet.” I would say and I talked about sports, gadgets, Hawa and my babies. When I was ready, I told Dr. Medrana that I wanted to begin and end too with this one conversation I would take to the grave, next to my mother’s. I had already made peace from the pit of my life. My son of a bitch of a father was cheating on my mother. The night she was knocked down, I saw it all from my window. On the other side of the highway from our house, I saw a man and a woman arguing. The man struck her hard and she fell on the pavement. I cried out and my mother moved to cross the highway, running away from the man in the



shadows. A vehicle was speeding and hit her. My father cried and couldn’t rationalize why my mother was outside so late. The driver of the vehicle was charged and sentenced. I was 12 when I realized it was my father who my mother ran away from on the night of the accident. That night, he was likely coming from a bar or my stepmother who my father moved into our house three months after my mother’s funeral. When I confronted him, my father’s boot was in my mouth and I was curled up from the beating in my stomach. He threatened. He promised I’d follow my mother if I started mischief. That night, I stood over him with a kitchen knife for an hour. I couldn’t do it. I hated him. I hated me. So, I stayed in my room. My room became my sanctuary and Hawa my saviour. Ah! You are so great, and I am so small, I hardly can think of you, World, at all; And yet, when I said my prayers to-day, My mother kissed me, and said, quite gay,

“If the wonderful World is great to you, And great to father and mother too, You are more than the Earth, though you are a dot! You can love and think and the Earth cannot! 68

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Sylvia Welch Virginity is an exalted lie, and what lies in your hands is nothing but the fallible burden of proof: Righteousness in the hands of a rapist. Nobody believes you, and now you are blamed by the woman you admired and loved, by the Justice of heaven above. Forget the concept of purity. If the purest is deemed unfit, deemed at fault, then who is righteous? Forget the concept of touch. It is untraceable on the skin like a scar that refused to form or legs that refused to perform You tried to run. Forget the concept of truth. If it falls on deaf ears, it has no use. And everyone believes they alone are inculpable while everything else is a ruse. Why did Zeus go blameless?



Why does Hera protect a cheater and a rapist? Why do bodies become liabilities? Why do I cover myself so they can not touch me Why is everyone so ready to acknowledge the victims’ pain Until it comes down to disgracing the aggressors name? Say it. Label it. Describe him for what he is, and may that mark on his reputation fester and flood him in his own damnation and may that fear create a new foundation for a world built on love instead of predation Fear me. Cower before me like a Goddess you have wronged, and my wrath will be delivered, and your punishment prolonged so I can watch you wither away, and in your decay A new world will rise as the antiquated die.


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Laparoscopic Surgery Post-Op Instructions Nicolette Dominguez What is laparoscopic surgery? This will be your first ever surgery. You’ve never even had your wisdom teeth taken out before. You will wake up screaming and crying from the anesthesia and the newfound incisions in your stomach. The nurses will roll their eyes and tell you to quiet down. Yes, we called your parents, they tell you. Please stop yelling, it’s going to be fine, they will say. But it’s not. How much activity can I do after surgery? You will struggle to walk from the hospital bed to the car. You will fight back tears every time you discover another task made ten times more difficult, but you’ll have to get over it. You can’t laugh at your favorite shows because your stomach hurts too much, and you can’t breathe because of the gas trapped in your shoulders. You don’t remember the doctors telling you it will be this hard, but that’s because they never even looked you in the eye. When can I resume sex? This will be your one week off from school, for the first time in what feels like years. You spend it wearing a pad, trapped



in your bed, watching tv shows you can’t laugh at and crying when you can’t sleep cause lying down is just too hard. You will beg your parents to go back to your dorm so you can see your friends, your boyfriend, so you can pretend like you’re okay again. You are not. They know you are not. You stay the whole week. How should I care for my incisions? Keep your incisions clean and dry. They’ll be closed with a dissolvable suture underneath your skin that will disappear in days. The scars will not. No special ointments are necessary, but you will use every oil, cream and ointment possible to fade your scars in hopes that you can wear a bikini again. You will not go to the beach that summer. How long will I have bleeding after surgery? Vaginal bleeding will last for at least one week. If not being able to move or breathe is enough, you will also not be allowed to use tampons. You will feel helpless, and every walk to the bathroom will take so much out of you that you’d rather sit in your own filth than attempt to set your foot on the ground. How should I manage my pain after surgery? You will be given a prescription of Motrin to begin taking after the surgery. It will do nothing. You will also be given a narcotic, such as Percocet, at the hospital. You will be on a rigorous 72

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medication cycle. Neither will help the pain, but the Percocet will make you forget it. It will also make you forget how to speak. Use a heating pad on the lower abdomen, so you can feel like you are being held, even though you’re so fragile no one can comfort you. How much pain will I have after surgery? Chest and Shoulder During surgery, you will be pumped full of carbon dioxide gas so the surgeon can see. This will irritate the phrenic nerve, a nerve tracking pain impulses from the lining of the chest, leading to moderate to severe pain. Every breath you take will be pain. Your surgeon will not tell you this. The nurses will not tell you this. You will find out yourself, in your bedroom. And you will cry, alone. General Pain should decrease over time, and will get better every day. At first, walking to the CVS a block away will make you feel ashamed, hiding the pain you feel from everyone in your life, and pretending everything is okay. You make all your screams whispers, so as not to disturb the neighbors. You want it to be okay so badly that you lie to everyone, including yourself. You’ll confess that yes, even a one block walk to the corner



store will leave your shoulders feeling out of order and your ribcage pricked. You’ve spent so long panicking inside the confines of your own room that it never occurred to you to tell others of the pain you’re experiencing. To stop acting like you’re okay because you so desperately wish to be, and to just accept that you need help. To say yes, you can carry my bag for me. No, I can’t walk that far just yet. And you’ll be glad you let someone hold you when you thought you couldn’t be held.


Simon Perchik

You open this scrapbook the way a river turns some things down and others get a pass with a chill you stroke the snapshot as if her breasts still smell from kisses where your fingerprints are taking on water no, it’s not sweat and the gloss hasn’t a clue what’s happening, does nothing about her lips not moving though it’s still early and while she’s staring at the water it’s you who forgot her name, remember only its fragrance looking for someone that’s slipping between your fingers stripped to the bone as her shadow still rising from this damp page kept dark, night after night to make it last 74

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Internal Immolations Anika Bradley

All resistance is devoured, Burning my soul to ashes, Any trace of probity gone. The ferocious beast attacks


Motolani Logan



Backwards Livia Lee

At midnight, Amy finally managed to stifle her sobs. She flipped her pillow over, concealing the wet spot that her tears dampened and revealing the fresh pillow sheet. She took a deep breath, smushed her face into the soft fabric and yelled.

Before that, she was going through all of her social me-

dia profiles, deleting each of the girls that turned on her. Snot was dripping out of her nose and making its way towards her mouth. She used the back of her wet sleeve that had dried her initial tears to wipe the sticky pool.

Before that, she was messaging in the group chat, ask-

ing if they were pulling a prank on her. Five miniature circular faces appeared under the stream of messages she sent, but nobody replied.

Before that, she scrolled on instagram, looking through

cute dog pictures and saw a photo posted by one of her friends. It’s a group shot at one of the girls’ houses and shows a sign that says: No Amy.

Before that, she was listening to more of Taylor Swift,

trying to forget about the weird way her friends had behaved at school today and wondering if Taylor’s friends ever acted weird 76

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around her.

Before that, she walked home alone with Taylor keep-

ing her company. She matched her footsteps to the beat of the song and bopped her head with each word.

Before that, she messaged the group chat asking if any-

body wanted to go out for pizza or go to the library. Even saying that it was her treat.

Before that, she was sitting in her last class, math,

staring at Jimmy Smith’s face because the red swollen pimples reminded her of greasy pepperoni.

Before that, during recess, the gossip circle seemed to

be tighter and it was harder for her to find enough room to be properly part of the group.

Before that, Cindy rolled her eyes when Mrs. Ma-

cLaughlin assigned her as Amy’s partner to practice dialoguing in spanish. She was more irritable, less patient as Amy struggled to pronounce the words and stared at the toothpaste stain.

Before that, she was two minutes later than usual for

home room and her friends weren’t at the usual morning spot.

Before that, she dropped a globe of toothpaste on her

black shirt and tried to remove it with a damp towel but didn’t have enough time to change.



Before that, she woke up to a text message from Ashley,

it was a thumbs up.

Before that, she fell asleep feeling like she relieved a

huge amount of stress and pressure off of her shoulders.

Before that, she was texting Ashley to explain that she

liked girls.

Étude de Charbon Jordan Ortiz


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The Duality of Love Julia Hayden



Bathtub Scene

Angelisa Cortorrea Lights up: In a bathroom is an old-timey bathtub full of warm water. Inside the tub is a young man, named B, his eyes are closed and he is laying back against the porcelain tub. An older man, named A, enters carrying a bottle of soap. A: I hope the water didn’t get cold. From now on the soap is going to be under the kitchen sink. I asked your mother why she moved it and do you know what she said? B: ‘Aht? A: She needed room for her lemon juice. B: Lemon juice? A: Lemon juice of all things, right? She said she’s going to mix it with conditioner. B: Why? A: I didn’t bother. (A walks up to B, opens the soap bottle and pours it into the tub. Then he moves the water with one of his hands. Once the bubbles rise, A cups soapy water in his hands and pours it onto B. A repeats this motion a couple of times before remembering something.) 80

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A: Oh, damn it. I forgot the rag in the kitchen. I’ll quickly go get it, okay? B: S’fine. (A exits and B releases a long dejected sigh. A returns with a white rag.) A: Water’s not too cold I hope? B: S’Fine. (A gets on his knees, dips the rag into the soapy water and begins to clean B’s body. The motion is repeated a couple of times before the voice of an older woman’s is heard off stage.) A: Oh, that’s your mother, I’ll be right back. (A gets up carelessly. B is left leaning against the porcelain tub at an angle, his body slowly slips down.) B: Oh, God. (His head slips under water. A few beats past before A enters.) A: Your mother is wondering where you’d like to celebrate myB! (A pulls B’s shoulders back, lifting his head up from the water.)



B: Finally. A: How long have you been under?! Why didn’t you scream?! B: I don’t know. A: What’s wrong? (B shrugs.) A: Hmm… well, your mother’s thinking of going to this restaurant that serves shit. B: Shit? Sounds great. A: Do you hear yourself? B: What? (Pause) Oh uh, what restaurant serves shit? A: That isn’t the point, what’s on your mind? Is it C? B: I have other problems besides C. A: Are you sure? B: Yes, we’re just uni friends. I promise I’ve realized that now. A: Okay… then what’s got you willing to eat shit?


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B: I- uh- just bathe me so we can go out, come home, and I can think alone on my bed. A: No, think with me. B: Dad, it’s not that important, enjoy your promotion. A: If it’s important to you, it’s important to me. B: Dad A: Come on let’s think together in the bathtub. B: Dad… A: Remember how you used to talk about C all the time? I swear you were in love B: Dad! Stop! I can’t A: You’d write cute little poems B: Okay, okay, okay! I give! Just stop talking! A: Great! B: Ugh… well, there’s this dance… the winter formal. A: I remember you and C went together last year.



B: Yeah… well, she’s got a date this year so she can’t drag me along like she always does. A: Awe… well, what day is it? Maybe I don’t work that day and I could wheel you in B: What?! No! That’s lame, I’m an adult. A: Ask a girl from one of your classes then. B: The problem isn’t the date. A: Oh? So you already have one? Who is she? B: It’s more like… huh… who is he? A: Oh? Oh! Do we know him? B: No… but, I don’t really know him either too… I-I mean I know him! Like I knew he existed but I don’t ‘know him’ know him if that makes any sense? A: It does… B: I haven’t given him a response yet… A: Why not? B: Uh… um, well this is like, different? I’ve always gone with C, but it’s always been as friends and now with this guy I’m not 84

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sure? It can’t be as friends, right? Like you don’t just ask a relative stranger to dance as a friend, right? A: True… B: And if it really is a date then, um, this guy, what if he wants to do something more than dancing by the end of it? I highly doubt it, but it could happen… right? A: Well… think about the young man right now… oh! picture me as the young man, would you like me to keep my hand in the water? Maybe even go a little lower B: Dad! I don’t want to picture that with you here! A: Okay, but was it pleasant? B: I can’t believe you. A: Was it pleasant? B: I-It wasn’t… an unpleasant thought… A: Then you should agree to go to the dance. If it turns into a little more than dancing by the end of it, well, go as far as you feel comfortable. B: I know… I just haven’t… even done more than dancing before… with like anybody. I haven’t even danced someone on the lips before.



A: Oh wow, you are really inexperienced. B: I know! I can’t do this… A: No, darling, sweetheart, sugarmuffin, there’s a time and place for everything, everyone moves differently. B: Okay, but I wish I moved faster when I was younger. A: There are joys in waiting. B: Yeah, I know, b-but- just dip my head under the water and leave me to drown.

A: B, that isn’t funny. B: I’m joking. A: There’s a little truth behind every joke. (Pause) Look, just agree and have fun. If things are meant to happen, they will happen. B: Okay… I’ll think about it. A: You know, when I was your age, I was invited to these big uh, more than dancing parties if you catch my drift? B: What? 86

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A: It’s how I met your mother actually, there was this girl on top of her and we just made eye contact from across the room, it was like magic. If I remember correctly, Mr. D was on top of me at the time. B: What the hell are you- oh my god, oh god! I didn’t need to know that! Bathe me! Bathe me so I can be rid of you! A: Just remember, it’s okay to try new things.

Tiempo Pasado / Retrospectiva Marlen Guerrero




Brian Tinio

When I went there, I was just a kid sitting in the back-

seat of my parents’ white minivan with my younger sister, Steph and my older sister, Sherry. It was raining so hard outside and it was night time and therefore dark out, except when the lightning illuminated clouds that otherwise would have seemed nonexistent. Really, it was raining so much and the thunder rumbled loudly and my sisters and I felt it beneath our feet, which weren’t snugged in sneakers or sandals because we had been driving for so long that we had to air them out. It was summer time, you see, and our trip down South to Florida from New York grew increasingly hotter and more humid with each mile. God almighty, it was raining too much. You couldn’t see the white dashes on the road and you got this funny feeling that all the other drivers, like us, were tense and in a perpetual state of unease – an odd state as unending as this long road, and as persistent as this rain rushing down on us like sin and plaguing us like fleas on a dog. This road was Interstate 95 and US Highway 301/501, and we were traveling between the two Carolinas. Not that there were many drivers on the road with us. See, what I’m about to tell you is a story of something I witnessed back when I was a kid of ten years and four months. It was three in morning and being a kid still, awake and out of bed at that hour during a thunderstorm, created a sense of rebellion — and not just for me, but for me and my sisters. On the outside I was scared as hell – of the massive sound of thun88

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der as the lightning struck the earth, cracking the atoms in the air, and of the looming possibility of us getting into a car crash with the rain making it nearly impossible to drive in. But in the inside I giggled and smiled and my heart jumped with this impish release of adventurous energy. It was a kind of childish feeling shared among me and my sisters that was hardly discernible, but still tangible without a doubt. God almighty: really, it was raining an awful lot. ***** It wasn’t our destination, but we needed to get some shut eye; yet how could we? The whole place was lit up. To enter the parking lot you had to drive under the legs of this great big lit-up fixture of a Mexican man with a mustache. It was almost as if he were straddling the entrance, and looking up at him, you saw that he was blazing against the opaque black sky with his red glowing pants and sombrero to match. See, he was holding a sign that said: South of the Border. Later on that night I learned that the mascot’s name was Pedro. There were cartoon statues of him throughout this roadside attraction. The rest stop was overly-themed with images of Mexican culture all the way from food and trinkets, down to the language used in the millions of billboards advertising the place even before we got there: THER FORECAST: CHILI TODAY, HOT TOMALE; and, FILL YO’ TRUNQUE WEETH PEDRO’S JUNQUE. This was my favorite: YOU NEVER SAUSAGE A PLACE. (YOU’RE ALWAYS A WIE-



NER AT PEDRO’S!) I’ve never seen such a place quite like South of the Border. The whole atmosphere filled my eyes with wonder as I indulged my senses in this new world. The whole place was an artist’s rendition of a caricature of Mexican culture. It was Mexican this and Mexican that, Pedro’s this and Pedro’s that. It was a Mexican Time Square with neon signs and catchy phrases on windows of each restaurant and store. Yet the rain, pure as it was, dirtied the place. It was no ritual cleansing for sure. My dad parked the car in front of a souvenir shop that was still open this late at night. With the engine killed, we heard clearly the rain vehemently tapping on the roof of the car like fingers anxiously drumming away. Dad adjusted the driver’s seat so he could lie down and sleep. Mom did the same. But my sisters and I were wide awake, flushed with energized blood. We begged our parents to let us walk around and explore the place. Mom and Dad looked at each other and from their faces, I drew a sense that they understood what a thrill it was for us to be up at three in the morning, in a foreign place with adrenalin rain falling from towers of darkness, mirrors of invisible clouds. Why explore the place in broad daylight the next morning when you can do so rebelliously in this fake and heavy, crazy aura. It was much more exciting and risky, challenging our very immaturity. Mom said, “Ok, fine. Sherry, take care of your younger brother and sister, and be back by four. You guys need to get some sleep too.” “Don’t worry, Mom. I’ll watch them!” 90

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Sherry was the oldest of the three of us, meandering impulsively in her sixteenth year. Like I said, I was ten and some change, a curious little bug was I, while my younger sister was nine and always following me. We ran together into the souvenir shop, dashing around puddles of rain on the ground. The shop punched you in the face. There were trinkets everywhere and of every color. Mugs, T-shirts, key chains with Mexican versions of your name, dolls, bobbleheads, make-it yourself airplanes made of balsa wood, ponchos and serapes, hats – there were so many different kinds of hats, the ones you find on people’s heads on Halloween. One was shaped like a hot dog in a bun, another in the shape of an Alien head, and yet another – a cracked egg shell. The funniest one was a hat in the shape of a person’s behind! My sisters and I turned to each other and keeled over, laughing so hard that our lungs burned. We bounced from one corner of the store to the other, looking at every little trinket the shop had to offer. After a little while, we began to disperse. Sherry saw a guy hanging out near the lit-up magnets and, deeming him cute, strayed herself there, not before turning to me. “Watch our baby sister.” “I’m not a baby!” cried Steph. But Sherry only looked at me with that adult look in her eye that said she meant business. I nodded, and she took off, prancing her way toward the guy.

“I’m not a baby,” Steph said again. “I know, I know.” We went over to the mugs. Phrases from the billboards we passed graced the face of each of them. One of them had a picture of an eyeball, heart and Pedro. “I think Sherry likes the guy,” I said.



“Who? Pedro?” “No, silly. The guy over there by the magnets.” “Really? Disgusting!” “I know, I know. Hey you wanna hear a secret?”

“Tell me.” “Sherry made out with a boy once.” Steph gasped and dropped her jaw. “It’s true. I was home alone with Sherry, and this boy from her class, Ronnie or Robert or whatever, came over and I saw them making out on the sofa while watching TV.” “Eww! Was this when I was sleeping over Jenna’s house? But then why is she hanging out with that guy?” “Yup. How should I know!” We laughed. Steph and I moved over to the T-shirts a couple of feet from a door leading to the back room. We kept our eye on Sherry, who was listening intently to whatever the guy was talking about. We both knew that Sherry wasn’t really listening to the guy because we knew that when she’s faking it, she nods way too many times. With that guy by the magnets, she must have nodded no less than a thousand times. Then I noticed that the back door was ajar and I immediately thought for sure someone had left it like that accidentally. I turned my head and instinctively looked. Something was moving back and forth, a kind of motion on repeat like hard-working pistons. I heard weird noises that sounded like someone – two people – who were both out of breath, and suspicion and curiosity churned my blood, making it course through me as with great, big waves rather than languid streams deep in the woods. With her gaze on our sister, Steph didn’t notice a thing. 92

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I turned to her. “Why don’t you go to Sherry and tell her that we’ve got to get back to the car.” “Ok, but I just want to see the maracas first!” she said. They were nearer toward the front of the store than where Sherry was, flaunting their Mexican colors with small designs of tacos, burritos, sombreros and guitars. “Fine,” I said. Once I saw Steph dash for the maracas, I walked over to the back door and stealthily peeked inside. But God almighty – dear God almighty – the scene I saw crushed something inside me. There was a man with his pants down to his ankles with his buttocks facing me, making dimples frantically. His shirt, a bright red with his name tag – Jon – was tossed on the floor next to a pair of women’s underwear and a cupped bra. On both sides of him he was holding onto the shaven legs of a girl. The soles of her feet were facing me and I saw just around the side of the man one of her breasts, naked and flabby, with her areola the color of deep crimson, and in the middle – her nipple, hard and dark as a raisin. That one breast was bouncing, sliding up and down her reddened chest as the man struck her in between, with pelvic animal-like movements. I was struck with anxiety and shock, and truthfully a little bit of horror. See I had little to no idea of what was going on, only that at that moment, I saw for the first time something I knew (somehow), I wasn’t supposed to see. It was something I heard about on the playground with skeptical ears in the backdrop of giddy kids in the jungle gym who giggled along with me. But to see it? To see it in the literal flesh? Deep, deep inside, I knew this scene, which would play over



and over in my mind, surpassed any form of childish rebelliousness – I had gone too far and I wasn’t ready. I gasped. The man must have heard me as he turned around and eyed me, all the while striking the girl. He wasn’t stopping for anything, and his eyes never left mine. At that moment I declared him a monster attacking my very innocence. Even as he said nothing, no words but his panting. The girl with her high-pitched voice, whined like a dog longing for a treat. I ran away as hard and fast as I could, toward Steph near the maracas. ***** “I told you to go get Sherry.” I tugged at Steph’s arm. “I want to buy this maraca. It has my favorite colors on it and a picture of a turtle.” “I don’t care.” Steph turned to me, “What’s eating you?” She looked at me long and hard and her eyes landed on my shorts. “Why didn’t you ask for the bathroom if you really had to go?” I looked down and realized what I had done. We found Sherry who finally dislodged herself from the guy. “Look what he did. He went on himself,” Steph said to her, a tone of complaint in her voice. “Oh God, what are we going to tell Mom?” I didn’t care that I pissed myself. All I wanted to do was to get the hell out of there. The place that had, in an instant, filled me with intrigue and excitement, now represented for me a place that should be torn from the map, a forbidden place. I wanted to get out of there, and get out of there fast. Flashes of the couple having sex electrified my brain and I 94

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couldn’t handle it. We got to the car. Mom told my sisters not to make fun of me. She told me to grab a new pair of underwear and shorts from my duffle bag, run to the bathroom inside the store and change. She also gave Sherry money to help Steph buy the maraca she wanted, since she just had to have it. I ran out of the car ahead of my sisters so I wouldn’t hear any more of their laughs. The bathroom was past the backroom. I couldn’t help but look inside to see if the couple was still there. No. Thank God. I quickly changed and dashed out with my head looking only in the direction of the car outside. “Wait up for us, will ya?” Steph had shouted at me, as the worker – Jon, that same Jon from the back room – gave Sherry her change. Where was the girl? That question was only fleeting; I couldn’t have cared less at that point. But then Jon did something that terrified the hell out of me. He saw me and we locked eyes. He winked. I screamed and ran back outside, back into the rain with the statue of Pedro, smiling at me.



Teresa Sadowska

Will You Remember Me? Will You?



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West of Shanghai Ariel Tsai

you who are carved into my bones and my heart, whose name sings through my veins and swims through the fog of my mind to kiss me sweet, you who dreams cannot cage and neither can my hands, you the most indelible of berry-juice stains I am licking off my fingers, whose touch rolls down my skin and leaves salt trails in the summer heat who knows if I believe in soulmates anymore but I believe in you you who say you think you’ll always love me but I believe you, you who are improbably impossible, the luckiest strike of lightning to set me ablaze and who I pray to everything and anything will strike me again you in whose arms I am the statue of venus, only more or less whole



you who I tell how I love so often I have to hold myself back so the words won’t lose their luster but no matter how or when I say it I just lack the eloquence; neither I nor my words can hold you for long my dearest, my beloved: there are so many days where I think it might have been better to have woken up dead, but then there are the ones where I wake up in a tangle of limbs with your breathing twining fingers through my hair and your heartbeat whispering the sweetest nothings in my ear you who remind me why I bother


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The Greatest Summer Kate Bird

The greatest Summer I spent Was with my hair in the wind. In a sleepy town that woke In the fall and spring, But slept in the Summer Bogged down by the heat. We were both managers at the Campus Center. She was strong-willed, smart, witty. Our co-worker asked if she was from Hawaii Because of her dark skin. She rolled her eyes and said I’m from Jamaica. We made spaghetti dinners. We sat by candlelight, by sunset, like a doting penguin pair. Dwindling light pecking our cheeks and foreheads. Our first kiss shared while she was still Entwined with a partner. We’d buy illegal bottles of merlot, Learn canasta with the windows open. She liked driving to the dams, But hated swimming. She set herself free and from July We floated in hammocks by milky water. Grass growing wilder and wilder I’d dare to jump in but never touched the bottom. A young man died at this swimming hole Last Summer.



We weren’t ashamed But nobody knew. For they couldn’t possibly know What warm feet Sweetly entangled Before 7am Felt like. When the rain came We ran to the center of a field fearlessly And danced, cheering to the gods. Bright, it was blindingly bright.


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Tiempo Pasado / Retrospectiva Marlen Guerrero



Time Capsule

Sydney Heidenberg Today I saw belongings I have not seen in eight years. We unpacked the storage unit today. The storage unit we filled to the brim when I was thirteen and told, “Don’t worry about it, we’ll have a house in a few months. You’ll get it back.” When my childhood home first went on the market, our realtors instructed us to take away our decorations. Take down the art my sister and I made in elementary school. Get rid of any traces that someone lived there, that this was someone’s home. “We want prospective buyers to be able to envision themselves living here, right?” We were told with a smile, “It makes it hard for them if all they see is your life,” she explained before giving us a curt nod and walking away. To her, it did not matter that I lived in the middle of fucking nowhere with no cell service and not a single commodity within twenty minutes, making my house unsellable. It did not matter to her that I, a little girl who cried every night about moving out of her childhood home, would still be living there until the house sold. It did not matter that my house was on the market for five years before it sold, but don’t worry, no personal decorations that could have dictated a family’s presence in the house were nowhere to be found. I was told not to worry. That I would get my stuff back. And I did, no one lied to me. Even the real estate agent who stripped my home to a shell did not lie to me. Stuffing a storage unit could have helped sell my house. No one expected to 102

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be separated from our stored possessions for eight years. What was to be expected was the nostalgia. My mother, sister, and I stood outside the giant garage door of our unit knowing the other side would solely be layers and layers of memories, all safely wrapped in bubble wrap. We took plenty of care in packing. My mother never allowed us to keep anything that was not of value, which meant we only had too many things of far too much value. This trait backfired on me growing up. I was taught to cherish what was mine, and if I was not cherishing it, I should let it go so someone else can. However, my mother did not consider this would turn into me building an unrealistic attachment to everything I laid my hands on. I could never get rid of anything. That was always my biggest issue. I held onto things and claimed I loved it and could not imagine my life without it. My parents did their best to break my habit, even going as far as shaming me anytime my hoarding tendencies came into play. This is why my parents have an entire envelope of pictures of me crying in my highchair, protesting their decision to throw it out. I do not know the last time I saw those pictures. I’m sure they’re somewhere in the many boxes of pictures we found today. No one ever thinks about pictures anymore. At least I don’t. I can take a picture on my phone, even delete it and try again if I need to. But I forgot about them in the physical sense until we found all of our photo albums. In my old house, photo albums were everywhere. They littered all the sitting areas so anyone could reminisce whenev-



er they wanted. I don’t remember what a lot of my baby pictures look like. I used to know which book held what photos and the order of the pages. Now it seems like there’s no way we ever took that many photos to begin with. It seems impossible that I could have known which book held the photos I wish I could remember. When we found them, my mom awed. Then quickly, before our hungry eyes could be distracted from the task at hand, she put the box in a car. If we were to be distracted with every object we missed, the process would have taken longer than the four measly hours it took to empty the unit. I regained objects I lost for eight years in four hours. It almost does not seem right. It makes those eight years seem ridiculous. It makes me hate that while our belongings were there, easily accessible and movable, we had to wait eight whole years before we could hold them in our hands once again. My sister found a bag of her old stuffed animals. My mom made to throw them away, but my sister quickly intervened to look through them. I watched her face fall as she opened the clearly worn down bag and picked up an increasingly dirty Pikachu toy she had won at a fair. “They’re all gross,” she quietly said, slowly putting the Pikachu on the floor before continuing to go through the bag anyway. It did not matter that my sister was twenty-three years old going through a bag of her old, soiled stuffed animals. You try going an unplanned eight years without seeing something you loved in childhood and not feeling a wave of emotions 104

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upon reuniting. Eventually, she made a little gasp. Gingerly, she pulled out a small washcloth I’m shocked my mom let us keep past age five. If anything, it looks like a puppet. It is magenta and made to fit on a toddler’s hand. On the top are giant green eyes and two small dashes to mark nostrils. In my sister’s bag of stuffed animals, she found the old hippo washcloth we used as kids to bathe. “I’m keeping it,” my sister said immediately. “Oh, come on,” my mom groaned and waved a hand in my sister’s direction. “Nope, don’t care,” my sister clutched it to her chest and made her way to the car. My mom watched her go, stared at the ground for a short moment, took a breath, and continued what she was doing. I forgot about that washcloth. But seeing it again, all I can think of is the soft texture of the towel and how I would pour soap in its mouth to make it look like it was eating bubbles. Throughout the process, my mother took her time complaining to me about how much stuff I had. It was mostly teasing, but I didn’t mind anyway. She knew we never planned on waiting this long, so there was a lot I had put in storage I thought I would immediately be getting back. Like, my middle school clothes I put away that are definitely of no use to me now. My mom also knew I could not let go when I was younger, but at that moment I appreciated that fault. There was so much I forgot existed. I forgot about the hippo washcloth. I forgot all of our photo albums. I forgot we



had a telescope. I forgot all of the art I made as a kid. I forgot all of our holiday decorations. I forgot I used my colorful duct tape to seal all of my boxes shut. My friends from college told me to think about the storage unit like a time capsule. My sister and I had packed away things from our childhoods and we decided we would be okay without seeing for a little while. My mom had packed everything in the house we did not need to live. We all packed away bits of our house that we loved and could never get rid of, but could not afford to have in our grasps. Seeing everything laid out in front of me made me feel like I was back in my childhood home. I could tell you where every single object in that storage unit used to be in my old house. Opening the giant door turned back the clock. I felt like I was thirteen and trying to decide what was worthy to pack away. I felt like at any moment I would go back to my old house and unpack my old boxes, instead of bringing them to my new house. Nostalgia is addicting. It grows inside of you and marinades, so when you look back at a time, the feeling gets stronger and more powerful the farther back that time is. That’s why my mom would not let us look at our photo albums in the storage unit or open any boxes. But the nostalgia was still there, lurking in all of our minds. I know my mother and my sister were both thinking about our old house while we unpacked the storage unit. I know we were all thinking of a time where we never had to put things we loved in boxes or could imagine a life where every item we valued was in reach. I know we were all thinking about what our relationships with our belongings would have been if 106

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they hadn’t left our lives for eight years. Maybe that hippo washcloth would have been thrown out by now. The clothes I kept from middle school would have been donated. I would still know what my baby pictures look like. Maybe the decorations we had to put away wouldn’t even be displayed anymore. But all of these possessions were gone from our lives for eight years. The nostalgia has stewed inside of us to the point where we love them solely because it has been so long. Our new house is going to do the best it can to replicate my childhood home. The belongings we put away in storage eight years ago suddenly have a new meaning, and a new place to reside. They were missed, despite simply being inanimate objects. Our new home will be decorated with a theme of nostalgia for a time where we never had to lock anything away from ourselves.



Familiar Friend Derek Browne


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The Labyrinth Ariel Tsai

history a bastard loosed in daedalus’ masterpiece, calling for blood ariadne is gone and there is no way out: penrose steps and a ceiling open to the stars you build wings of wax because you’ve forgotten (or you look away from) the past, history with a head of serpents (look away) and you, clad only in your hubristic death trap, think you can conquer her, as if there are no stone men around her cave, names forgotten how strange it is that any of us can claim to have the sole handle on the truth God is a pluralism beyond comprehension, let alone gender or name so there are no chosen ones, no greater good how quickly we forget and let the record of history skip and repeat skip and repeat and repeat the same woes over and over and over how quickly we forget and move on and pretend that’s forgiveness who can but wonder what unsung genius of our time coming generations will herald; what those who follow, godlike, will judge us for




Melissa Rueda


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Melissa Rueda



Laundry Once a Week Kate Bird

I’m awoken in the middle of the night With a strange longing For laundry once a week On Sundays I would drag my bag up 3 flights of stairs Past doors of lovers I’d known And best friends I met weeks ago Rattling by each one as I went Throw my laundry in all at once And run into someone new, blushing, flushed Down three flights Bang into an open door Collapse and wait Three quarters of an hour pass steadily I’m running again In flip flops Clomp, clomp on the yellow tiles And bumpy plastic floor The machines were outdated As was our decor from the 80’s But I was never fazed No, I found home, But threw myself out Before I could finish The last load of Laundry once a week


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What is a Muse Olivia Baldacci




Olivia Baldacci


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Nanking Ariel Tsai

she is golden, gleaming, garbage sodden with humidity and trampled by the masses, mildew creeping up the eaves, and yet beautiful, of course a city as beautiful as a painted harlot when you see the golden city caught in the throes of dusk, her face lit up in ecstasy, know that only she knows if it’s real (why do men even ask if you’ve come when the real question is whether or not you’ll swallow your disappointment) and that if you’ve fallen in love with her, then you’re a fool, you poor thing and if for some reason you think she loves you, then you’re irredeemably lost: her body is her weapon and you can pretend all you like that you can conquer her but in the end she remains and you are subsumed within her, feeding the grass and the slow-moving rivers I thought once that loving you was woven into my muscle fibers an expression of divine grace laced through my ribcage, holding me together, but it turns out I’m only ever in love conceptually, (you are not this city you are lost to it) since nobody is enough of an abstraction for me yes, dear, I’m leaving no, dear, it’s not you; it’s me I’m looking for




Forest Oliver No more baby teeth No more sugar pill thrills No more dentists No more migraines, only nicotine stains No more white lies, only paper cranes No more brush, no more floss, no rinse, spit, repeat No more Only cavities Only shivering in off-white sheets Only no cold, only no heat Only crying, shaking in the streets Only tear gas, only police Only small victories, only incredible feats Only one-night stands with nuns and priests Only teeth But we bite We fight We chew, we gnaw, we gargle gasoline We ignite We grind our jaws all night, and hope and pray and chase crumbs all day that trickle down from their tables to our plates We wait 116

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We lose sleep digging through their cheek With eyes covered we still peek out With ears tagged we listen in, we whisper, we persist and chatter, Made of enamel, and pink gums and tired tongues We matter, we matter, Now more than ever We matter



Night Shift

Tanisha Willams FADE IN: INT. DIAMOND’S APARTMENT - NIGHT DIAMOND, a dark skinned average looking Black girl in her mid 20s rushes into the apartment. Her puppy, JEZEBEL, greets her at the door with a black feather in its mouth. Diamond grabs it. DIAMOND (to Jezebel) Aww girl! She quickly puts it on the bookshelf. She is out of breath. She hurriedly takes off her black coat and pants and lies down on her black bed. Jezebel joins her. INT. DIAMOND’S BEDROOM - CONTINUOUS She pulls out her phone from her pocket. We hear a chorus of MEN speak through the phone. MEN Hey, beautiful. Hey sexy. Hey chocolate rain. I never dated a Black girl before. Yo wassup. Wanna smash? Got a blunt? 118

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Diamond does several left swipes then pauses. She ponders on the man named JOSE who she sees on the screen in front of her. Jose appears in front of her dressed in a suit. She looks up. He rubs and claps his hands together like Jay-Z. JOSE Hey, I got my Master’s degree from City Tech. I like cheese. I’m a Taurus and I code for Google. I am in New York by myself and I’m mad tight with my family. Diamond looks at him and ponders. DIAMOND Any other photos? Jose nods and snaps his fingers. He changes into a casual jogging fit and holds a dog. JOSE Yeah. This is Lucy. She’s deadass cool. Diamond tilts her head and swipes left without any hesitation. Jose flies out of the window as if pushed by an unknown force and disappears. DIAMOND Nope!



Diamond continues to swipe left over and over. Suddenly we hear the voice of PAZN whispering through her phone. PAZN Hey. Hey. Hey baby. Diamond sighs loudly and taps Pazn’s profile aggressively. PAZN (CONT’D) I think I’m in love with you. DIAMOND We’ve only been talking for 2 days. PAZN So you don’t feel the same way? Diamond tilts her head back and groans. DIAMOND It’s not that I- Look I’m just not looking for anyt Pazn stomps his feet. PAZN Ugh all you women are the same. Fuck you! You’re probably a slut anyway.


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Pazn pulls out his phone and left swipes. He flies out of Diamond’s room doorway and dramatically disappears. Diamond rolls her eyes and smiles. She continues to left swipe and right swipes a few. She pauses again. We hear a wet fapping sound assisted by groans. She slowly looks up and is disgusted by the sight. TREVOR stands stark naked and sweaty in front of her. He masturbates. He moans. TREVOR I’m a virgin with an 8.657 inch cock. Waiting for someone who could handle all of me without fear. He pants and moans. The moans increase in volume. He rubs his chest. Diamond scrambles for her phone and quickly clicks the block button. A giant wall appears in front of Trevor and pushes him back rapidly. She looks disgusted. She shudders and swipes again. She pauses. RIVER and SHERIRA, a middle aged couple stand in front of her holding hands.



RIVER We've been together four years, married one and wanna experiment. Sherira moans. SHERIRA He wants to experiment. Divorce is expensive and I hate pegging him. RIVER I like hairy nipple play. Sherira and River look at each other, lean on each other's shoulders and fake smile. SHERIRA I've always liked women more than men. DIAMOND Oh hell no. Diamond quickly clicks the left swipe button and drops her phone. She looks at Jezebel. DIAMOND (CONT'D) Let's go for a walk. INT. DIAMOND’S APARTMENT BUILDING LOBBY - MOMENTS LATER Diamond and Jezebel return from their night walk and hop onto the elevator. The elevator doors almost close when someone yells from outside. MIKEY (O.S.) 122

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Wait! Wait! MIKEY, a decent looking man in casual clothe s rushes on to the elevator. Diamond looks him up and down in awe. He looks at her and smiles at her . MIKEY Hey. You live here? I’m Mikey. Diamond stares at the sweat dripping off his Adam’s apple. She is in awe looking at him. Her pupils dilate. DIAMOND Um, Diamond. I live in 14C. Mikey smiles and Jezebel wraps herself around Mikey’s leg and lays down. MIKEY Alright well this is my stop! Hope to see you around. Mikey gets off on the 12th floor and goes his way. Diamond stares at him as the elevator door closes. INT. DIAMOND’S APARTMENT - DAY Diamond sits in front of the mirror and hot curls her hair. Sultry saxophone music plays in the background. She puts on makeup and a dazzling red lipstick. She stands up and fluffs her curls. She has long black nails. Diamond wear a nice black lace lingerie and a silky black robe. She sprays herself with perfume. Diamond grabs Jezebel and quickly runs down the fire exit stairwell. She opens the door to the 12th floor and pushes Jezeb-



el to run down the hall. INT. DIAMOND’S APARTMENT - DAY Diamond lights candles around her apartment when she hears a knock on the door. She quickly splashes water under her eye and smears her mascara. She grabs a tissue. She takes a deep breath and opens the door. She sniffles loudly. DIAMOND Oh my God! Where was she? Mikey holds Jezebel who is licking his face. Diamond reaches out for her. Diamond dabs her face with the tissue and cries. MIKEY She was clawing at my door. Diamond puts Jezebel down in the apartment and reaches out to hug Mikey. Her robe opens slightly. DIAMOND Oh thank you so much! Oh my goodness! How can I thank you? Wait here. Diamond motions to go back inside her apartment. MIKEY No no it’s okay. DIAMOND Here, here! Diamond pushes some cash towards him.


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MIKEY Oh no. It’s fine! I swear!

Mikey sighs.

DIAMOND Can I get you a drink or something? You seem thirsty.

DIAMOND (CONT’D) I insist. Diamond bats her eyes and opens her robe a bit more. INT. DIAMOND’S APARTMENT - MOMENTS LATER Mikey and Diamond laugh together on the couch. Jezebel sits on his lap and he rubs her back. DIAMOND Can’t believe you haven’t made any friends yet! You’re so cool . MIKEY Well, I guess things really do happen for a reason. Diamond laughs and points at Jezebel. DIAMOND Look at her. You know...she’s not like that with most people. MIKEY Wow. Guess we’re friends. He chuckles. He rubs Jezebel’s back and looks at his watch. MIKEY (CONT’D)



Well, I got work in the morning. Thank you so much. That Red Rooster was amazing! He slowly gets up. Jezebel moves off him. Diamond gets up and leads him to the door. MIKEY (CONT’D) Do you mind giving me the ingredients? Diamond opens the door and leads him out. He stands on the outside of the doorway. They chuckle together and stare at each other longingly. DIAMOND I’ll tell you when I give you that New York City welcome tour before you go back. Mikey laughs and leans in as if to kiss Diamond. Diamond scoots over and kisses him on the cheek. She slowly walks in and they look deeply into each other’s eyes as she closes the door. She dances a quick Leprechaun dance and slumps on the couch. She taps a black feather on her mouth and smiles. BEGIN MONTAGE: Mikey and Diamond tour New York City hand in hand. They visit Ellis Island. They jog on the Brooklyn Bridge. They lay down and stare at the stars on The Highline. They are visibly happy, drinking bubble tea and sharing sushi. They share a kiss. END MONTAGE. 126

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INT. DIAMOND’S APARTMENT - NIGHT Diamond and Mikey watch a movie on the couch together with Jezebel between them. Mikey puts his hand on her leg. Mikey leans in and kisses Diamond’s cheeks. Diamond leads his hand further up between her legs. Diamond looks over at him. DIAMOND I think I’m ready. MIKEY Are you sure? Diamond gets up. She reaches her arms out and pulls him off the couch. INT. DIAMOND’S BEDROOM - CONTINUOUS Diamond and Mikey admire each other before brushing their lips against one another. Diamond pulls a blindfold from behind her back and covers Mikey’s eyes. Mikey pauses and gestures his hands around the room. Diamond pulls him towards the bed and sits him down. MIKEY Wow, black is really your favorite color huh? DIAMOND It goes with everything. MIKEY Go slow, I’ve never done this before.



DIAMOND Don’t worry. I have experience. You’re good. They chuckle together and continue making out. Diamond starts kissing Mikey’s neck slowly. She blinks and her eyes change from a dark brown to a bright hazel. She lightly gnaws at his shoulder. MIKEY Ow! Too hard. Diamond blinks and her eyes change back to dark brown. She looks Mikey in the eye. DIAMOND Sorry. I’ll go softer. Jezebel softly barks and scratches at the door to the bedroom. Mikey and Diamond go back to making out. Diamond wraps her fingers around Mikey’s back and head. Her finger nails are noticeably longer. She gnaws at his neck again and her eyes change color. Jezebel scratches the door loudly and rapidly. Diamond looks at Mikey’s Adam’s apple and watches the sweat glisten off of it. She takes her finger and touches it softly. She leans in and kisses it as Mikey pulls up her shirt. Her shirt is thrown on the floor and unbeknownst to Mikey, Black wings sprout out of Diamond’s back. Diamond leans her head back, bites his Adam’s apple, and rips his trachea out. We hear Jezebel roar. CUT TO BLACK. INT. DIAMOND’S BEDROOM - MOMENTS LATER 128

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Diamond is soaked in blood with her wings out and expanded. She chews loudly. She pulls out a bone from her mouth and sucks it. She throws the bone at Jezebel whose face has split open four ways revealing rows upon rows of teeth. Diamond lays back down in her bed next to Mikey’s bloody remains. She licks her fingers and pulls out her phone. A chorus of MEN speak once again. MEN Hey beautiful. Hey sexy. Good night. How are you? Why you don’t text back. I’ll do anything for you. I’ll marry you. Diamond left swipes for a while and finally right swipes. DIAMOND Hello Hun. Are you vegan? A man, KENNEDY, stands in front of her and smiles. She grins back with sharp bloody teeth in her mouth. CUT TO BLACK.



Breakdance Sequences Panagiota Efstathiadis


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Breakdance Sequences Panagiota Efstathiadis



CONTRIBUTIONS Kate Bird is an Australian native who lived in New York City for a few lucky years before Covid-19 brought her home. She still looks to her days in NYC for inspiration and joy. Her writing tends to be reflective and based around her studies in Sociology and Psychology, as well as drawing great inspiration from everyday life. Anika Bradley is from Chicago, IL but moved to New York over the summer to study at Hunter College, where they’re currently a freshman. They plan on majoring in English Education to teach high school students. They’ve been writing all sorts of things from short stories to fiction to poetry since they first learned to write and one day hope to publish their writings if they can. Derek Browne loves Brooklyn and guinea pigs. Iridian Castillo is a first generation Mexican-American Brooklynite. She spends her free time erasing white boards and detailing the tragicomedy of her young life in a collection of diaries almost ten years in the making. When she’s not busy hiding out in offices, she overanalyzes all she has ever uttered into existence. Nicolette Dominguez is a Psychology major on the Clinical track who enjoys writing, painting, singing and reading. This is her first published piece. She hopes to empower anyone that 132

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has not received empathy in their medical care, and to hopefully shine light on this pressing issue that disproportionately affects women of color. Nikki Kinnear is just a woman who made three people laugh in middle school and deemed herself the funniest person on the planet Earth. She’s a senior who commutes from Staten Island, the greatest borough of NYC. Writing is something she does for her own entertainment, in hopes of making others laugh or cry, depending on her mood in the moment. Forest Oliver is currently working toward his BA with a dual major in Religion and Creative Writing through Hunter College via the CUNY BA program. Forest also occasionally contributes articles to The Envoy’s Culture section. Kesha Peyrefitte is a writer and native Belizean now living in Bronx, New York. She is a graduate student and a preschool teacher. She has been published in the Jamaica Observer and The Caribbean Writer. “What If…I Love Her and Other Stories” is her first collection of short stories. Brian Tinio is a first year transfer student at Hunter College studying Film, having graduated from Stony Brook university with a BA in English and Secondary English Education in 2011. They are a member of the Smithtown Adults Writer’s Group on Long Island, and has multiple blogs (their main one being, The Ins and Outs on blogger) in which they have published a host of short stories and daily rantings since 2009.



Ariel Tsai is an alumnus from Hunter College. Her BA is in English with a concentration in literature and criticism and in Chinese language and literature. She loves Milton, Honey Nut Cheerios, and being consumed by righteous wrath while reading postcolonialist theory. Julia Withers is a poet who writes about their life imagined as fragments of dreams and visions. They are from Staten Island, NY and study biology, among other things. Sharon Young is a Taiwanese-American creative based in NYC. She is a recent graduate from Hunter College and a former mentee of Girls Write Now’s Digital Media Program. She strives to search for the magic in mundane moments.


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MEET THE STAFF Editor-in-Chief and Art Editor

Melissa Rueda does not know how she graduated from

Hunter with a double major in Studio Art and Sociology as well as a minor in Art History. She still loves art history, cats, cool socks, and cheesy bread from Dominos.

Vice President and Publicity Assistant

Srinidhi Rao just barely graduated Hunter with a BA in

Media Studies. She will miss her OTR family very much and is very thankful for all the opportunities she had with them. (Add kiss emoji)


Kana Tateishi is a senior at Hunter who is working on a

BA/MS degree in social research. While the last few years of college have made her incredibly jaded, she is grateful for the friends she has found in OTR (especially grateful for all the cursed memes and animal videos that were generously forwarded to her by the staff).


Meghan Elberti used to be baby, but now she is a fairly

grown woman who misses the company of her good friends at OTR very much.

Art Editor

Jordan Ortiz’s perfect life includes cookies, creaivity, and freedom of expression. Brownies, weighted blankets and soft beds are welcome too!



Poetry Editors

Sheena Rocke really does not know what to say in her bio. Silvia Welch is a double major in Clinical Psychology and Classical Studies. Her hobbies include writing, baking, and drawing.

Prose Editors

Sydney Heidenberg is graduating Spring 2021. She does not know what to do after that. Will check in later.

Livia Lee is an unemployed English graduate. She likes video games and short stories.

Drama Editors

Ariana Gladstone is trying to start her art career if you need an artist please hire her.

Mia Carranza is a young poet, creative writer, and freshman at the Macaulay Honors College at Hunter College. An English major, Mia has won three Gold Keys and a National Gold Medal from the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards this past year, as well as four scholarships and awards from Herricks High School for her passion and work in English. She’s also passionate about Starbucks, Sarah J. Maas’s novels, and singing at the least appropiate moment.

Publicity Assistant

Olivia Baldacci is a sophomore Muse Scholar at Hunter

College. She is studying Journalism and WGS. She is the assistant Publicist at OTR.


The Olivetree Review

HISTORY OF THE OLIVETREE REVIEW Since the fall semester of the year 1983, The Olivetree Review has been a Hunter institution allowing a place for student writers to submit their work and see it published. Under the auspices of their faculty advisor, Professor David Winn, a small group of Hunter students successfully petitioned Hunter for the funds to start a publication. This allowed the Olivetree’s original staff members, Pamela Barbell, Michael Harriton, Mimi Ross DeMars, and Adam Vinueva to create their issue of student work and dedicate it to the memory of the late Hunter College professor and poet, James Wright. The Olivetree Review has come a long way since that first issue. Digital painting allows for both the inclusion of full color images and extra design elements to be available for all projects. We began including photography submissions in Issue #7, and advancements in scanning and digital photography have allowed for us to accept nearly any form of art that can be captured in one or more frames. We have also begun accepting drama writing submissions as of Issue #52, meaning we are finally accepting and printing all forms of creative writing and art that is currently possible to.




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The Olivetree Review's 2020 Issue

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