Orange Blush Zine │ The Yearbook Edition - Issue 8 / Sep '21

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Fountain by Kyle Vaughn I went to school here. Learned to smoke there where a fountain once was. Learned about Einstein’s lies. Now I know I can’t go back to tracing your waistline. I revisit the library from which you drunkenly fell a story and survived. The end of life is storming the air just behind my body, not wholly unlike when I rushed

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into eighteen and nearly poisoned myself. Still, still, I’ve never seen a face like yours so glad to greet me after Astronomy.

I remember in pecan groves the intersection of your arms and hips, how you gathered fall. We played that song that was the color of cherries in the parking lot of the Thunderbird Motel. I know I can’t return to that possibility of bodies in joy, but no one can touch our afternoons with records, tea, and smokes.

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From Love’s Monolith to the End by Kyle Vaughn I let her rest on my arm while Blood on the Tracks spun to the end. That moment may have proven I was human—tender, wild, and good. After sleeping, I woke to find her eyes opening like a cigarette case with noon inside. We drove west to Abilene to find a clearer view of thunderheads. In my favorite photo, you’re in the road, your Leica trained on me.

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Lighter in your black jacket, tobacco, and papers. The span of your shoulders magnifies even these last years. You will be that age forever, with an eye for the beauty of a rusted engine, the sense of a storm’s destination. Like that day’s approaching bow echo, the atmosphere of your face,

the rebel love you bore placed your likeness ever in who I am.

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Behind Those Walls by Davina Anne Rajah “You’re a wild one,” Some said to my face with brevity then ran, Others whispered it along the hallways and in the toilets. For there was a time where freedom and cause, Were sorely mistaken for rebellion and force, That’s what I was known for. Who knew that speaking your mind and heart, Would one day nudge a collection of doubts to start, About where I was, what I am, and who I am meant to be?

Like clockwork, we were up and immune, From the dew of morning till the brightness of noon, Anyone reflected everyone, not one of them was ever new. “All the girls, they don’t look like you. They barely even sound like you too” Comments and thoughts translated into attacks and swears.

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Years later, I’ve mellowed out, Maybe these words have gained their effects now, doubt, Change is possible, even with the past way behind. Systems don’t break, people do, It’s almost as if the wait for food in a queue, Forces you to walk away more than the bad food does. Broken, used and abused, Yet everyone seems so confused, How can a building with four walls end up breaking souls and crushing spirits? Constantly trying to instil muliebrity, Not knowing that the insides are what make you really pretty. Do curses still exist? Or is that just another word that takes up space? If witchcraft and curses are still a crime, Paint every inch of those walls black and call it time, To end mendacious values that hide behind those walls.

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crossing the boundaries to summer by Charlotte Todd The hum of early evening met me in my bedroom through the open window. April had just greeted us, yet we were already beginning to cross the boundaries from Spring to Summer. The last week of March was labelled one of the warmest we had ever been granted. March’s summer lasted for two days, yet something about it was glorious. The soft heat offered sanctuary which differed from the normality of London’s early Springs. By no means was this day the hottest I had been met with, yet it was warmer than I remembered it could get. The first drop of Summer, I think, always is. Its extension of warmth is synonymous with joy and our skin seeps it all in. I looked at the people sitting around me whose familiarity I loved so greatly and knew at once I would remember the contentment of this moment. In this town which was only to belong to us for a few more months. We were the oldest we had ever been, yet we were branded by our youthfulness, by our thirst for the summer months; but the ignorance of what will follow them. I don’t remember what we spoke of nor could I recall the taste of the splash of cold coffee hitting my mouth. But the moment alone was enough to suffice, with its promise of the months which recede before us.

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by Maria Luísa Sena

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Pomp and Unfair Circumstance by Rachel Tanner My only living grandparents drove from Florida to Alabama to attend my college graduation. When I walked into their hotel room by Big Spring Park, Gramma poured me a cup of scotch from a bottle that she’d apparently been sipping on since Tallahassee. Pops laughed. His dementia wasn’t all-encompassing yet; he was still himself. He was still mostly there. After the ceremony, my entire family ate at the restaurant on the first floor of the hotel, clinging dishes and swigging wine, happy and whole in our togetherness. What I remember most is the taste of my rum and Coke, savory and sweet all at once, taking me deeper towards the drunkenness I had always planned to accomplish that evening.

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My Pops was present, but he looked lost and tired – something I wasn’t used to seeing. I wish I’d stayed with him that night instead of going back to my one-bedroom apartment to wait for my friends to call and tell me where the best parties were going down. I wish I’d hugged Pops a little tighter. Wish I’d known what I know: time was not on our side, and it never was. It was the last time I saw Pops before he got really bad. The last time I sat next to the man who helped raise me and asked him questions, but not enough of them. There are so many things I’d ask if I had the chance again – so many lives of his I would learn. Stories and sagas and anthills of memories, lost to me, now.

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Hallelujah Under Gray Skies by Matt Hsu At Washington Elementary, we were a cacophonous symphony, a glorious disaster, a colorful chemical explosion, a chorus of screaming 11-year olds. Together we spun the thickest tales, chanted the flashiest war songs, wore the most bedazzling of crowns on our uncombed heads. Every day, when the slender hand in the clock reached the 1, a lunch bell would rattle the classroom, brassy and blatant. The checkered flag had waved, and we were off! Grabbing plastic lunch bags from our backpacks, we stampeded, past the library, down the stairs, across the hallway, beating a brash rhythm of footsteps. We only had fifteen minutes and two wooden tables, but that didn’t stop the Fifth Grade Bargain Mart from running. Those with the hottest commodities – orangedusted cheetos, gummies oozing with sticky juice, melted milk chocolate bars – held ultimate power. The unfortunate few with cherry tomatoes or cold carrot sticks in Ziploc bags could only grovel, or steal if enough heads were turned.

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Back in the classroom, my table group crafted quite a few masterpieces with merely paper and stubby #2 pencils. Our greatest creation was a comic called “Stupid Boy”, sketched beneath stifled giggles while other students read reports. Stupid Boy loved to skydive into volcanoes and swim in shark-infested waters. We also carved threedimensional letters into our homework folders, spelling out the entire alphabet, and passed notes under the desks discussing whether Jono liked Sydney, whether Aidan liked Tiffany. May 31st was a day when murmuring clouds ruled the sky. When let outside for an extra recess, we snatched leftovers from the other class's party – grapes and cheese and sushi with fresh wedges of cucumber, piling them onto brown paper plates. We used bent hula hoops to drag each other across the concrete on rickety rollerboards. After experiencing multiple collisions as we swerved across the yard, and after purple food stains had materialized on clothing, my throat was dry from chortling. I wondered if I could remain forever, laughing, beneath the cool canopy of clouds.

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But I could not, and soon I found myself back inside the classroom, packaging relics inside a time capsule. A plastic purple egg. A magnetic train. A tennis ball. Our Stupid Boy comics. A goodbye letter, scrawled on notebook paper, folded into quarters and left in my desk one afternoon. Then I sighed, looking around at the posters that checkered the walls. I left school with my bulging blue backpack slung over one shoulder, and a yearbook blooming with signatures tucked under an arm. Waiting for my dad to pick me up in our old black Volvo, I wished I could run back inside the familiar stucco building and never leave. Those days are long gone, but even now, I still meet whispers from the past. I decorate the walls of my mind with pictures of cartoon people, thumbtacks stabbed in their crotches by snickering students. When insulted, I bite back the retort, “Just like yourrrrrrrrrr face!”, which has long been ingrained in my mind. I occasionally look down to find my hand doodling smiley faces, the same ones that plastered my homework assignments and folders years ago. When I feel the damp touch of gray skies on my face, I remember the many times I ran around the upper yard with friends, shivering gleefully at the misty chill in the air, surrounded by four tall chain-link fences on each side. It was not a prison, but a kingdom.

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by Maria Luísa Sena

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thoughts from an elevated plane by Leanne Su web of spheres connecting things below, flintstone cereal dinosaur dirt tastes like these foods right now. i could be holding an umbrella on a whale in the cloud. fish container is small in relation to the fish compared to human container in relation to the human. donuts with shapes along the donut, e.g. two fish or ouroboros or yinyang. donuts with shaped holes! hearts and meowmeow! (cat donut hole).

on a different plane of reality, moonwalked through the hallway as a disassembled astronaut. boat? rooms are portals to different worlds starting in the same configuration, magic hallway.

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sounds like tadpoles. waves look like mathematical functions, two layers to the water. tiny underwater waterproof speakers shaped like sharks and whales. active volcanoes blue mountains. our noodles are in different dimensions.

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by Caitlin Noble,

for impressionistic by Leanne Su 24


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impressionistic by Leanne Su i. when the rain taps gently against your window and rivulets drain, churning and whirling into the quiet streets; the pitterpatter of droplets against pavement and the hurried click of shoes returning home. a quiet wind, humming in the background interspersed with the whoosh of passerby cars; blinking into the distance, pinpricks of light. somewhere in the distance, a coffee shop is playing smooth jazz. a tree bends in the wind, waves hello to the smell of the earth newly alive. moods of blue color the city today. feels good to be home, sing the birds, good morning good morning. ii. sea glass held up to the light; rays of sun filter down through rustling patterns of leaves– a gold-green foliage set against sepia & ocher. sneakers and hiking boots press soft and insistent on the damp soil.

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an earthworm huffs, indignant, leaves his underground den, in search of greener earth. we continue on the road we’ve chosen. they say there is a lake, beautiful and sparkling and serene. that’s nice, we tell them. thanks, but we’re good. iii. the smell of old books, pages worn yellow with love. inkstains trace fond memories; dogears mark old flames. there’s a love letter here, postmarked 1978, but that’s not my story to tell. the crowd at secondhand bookstores is always as eclectic as the books they carry. sometimes, i go for the people and the way dust motes catch in the beams of light peeking through the floorboards.

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iv. i cried when i visited my room from freshman year, shelves empty, mattress stripped, walls bare. no indication of loves made & lost, hearts broken & mended. no permanence to our thoughts. and yet–ephemeral as we are– you were here, the tiles whisper. we remember you. i cried not because i was sad but because i had been so happy. there’s nothing in this world quite as empty and forlorn as an empty house. (except, perhaps, an empty home; because at least an empty house still has its ghosts.)

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v. there aren’t enough words in english or in chinese to tell you how i feel. maybe if i knew every tongue, wrapped all the words in the world around my teeth i would have the lexicon to explain. for now, please be happy with this: bare feet against wood and linoleum; the thrum of a guitar two dorm rooms down; the smell and the sizzle of dinner on the stove; a rowboat gently carried across the lake. thank you, for all that you’ve done; good luck, and today, good night.

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by Vini Salma Fadhilah 29


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School-Leavers by Dominic Harbinson That is not how I remember it at all. I remember walking away up the avenue with two other boys whose surnames both began with a “W” to catch the bus to Preston in the village under that huge empty hemisphere of early July blue. Unwitnessed and quite unremarked, that was our moment of emergence: suddenly we were school-leavers – W, H, and W – our initials like our lifelines reaching up into the faultless sky to waiver later at altitude, as if in hesitation, and then to trail apart in the distant currents of possibility high above us in that endless hue. And hidden along the wayside in the parched grass of summer, all the crickets of Lancashire bidding us adieu.

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by Maria Luísa Sena 31


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Abigail Gomez Abigail is a 19-year-old Linguistics student at University College London. She’s passionate about reading and telling stories, particularly those of science fiction and social criticism. When she’s not writing or at university, she enjoys listening to 80s music, going on long walks and having a big pot of Earl Grey tea, exactly in that order.

Davina Anne Rajah Davina Anne Rajah is currently an undergraduate student at Universiti Malaya pursuing a Bachelor of Education. In her free time, she is a podcast host of an education-based podcast called Schooling, The Podcast. When she has downtime, she enjoys a casual grocery shop and an occasional cup of tea. If you would like to connect with her, feel free to email her at dvnanne@gmail.com or on LinkedIn at linkedin.com/in/ davina-anne

Dominic Harbinson Dominic Harbinson is a part-time poet and writer passionate about the preciousness of life and often transfixed by its beauty. He spends ages trying to catch poems and shaping prose and sifting through a locker full of stuff from days spent living in Australia, Brazil, India, Massachusetts, Tokyo and China. He and his wife run a busy Chinese medicine clinic in Canterbury, England. 33


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Kyle Vaughn Kyle Vaughn is the author of Lightning Paths: 75 Poetry Writing Exercises and the co-author/co-photographer of A New Light in Kalighat.

Leanne Su Leanne is a second-generation Chinese American woman from Seattle, WA. She is currently studying as a Ph.D. candidate in aerospace engineering at the University of Michigan, researching electric propulsion. When she's not breaking or fixing thrusters, she enjoys embroidery, writing, and taking cursed pictures of her cat Pudge. You can find her on Instagram @its.lean or on the world wide web at leanne.space/.

Maria Sena Maria Luísa Sena, or @anti.narcissus on instagram, is a digital collage artist, color enthusiast and movie fan. Reflecting her passion for both visual and written art forms, her works mainly feature sentences, song lyrics and private thoughts paired with selected and combined images. Her main goal is to translate feelings into pieces you can see. She’s a big believer in the power of processing emotions through art and is always thrilled when people say they connected with the stuff she makes.

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Matt Hsu Matt Hsu is a high school senior from San Francisco, California. He works as a poetry/prose editor at Cathartic Youth Literary Magazine and The Formula. Currently he’s querying his first novel, a new adult thriller-mystery hybrid. In his spare time, he enjoys playing tennis and eating dark chocolate.

Rachel Tanner Rachel Tanner is a queer, disabled writer from Alabama whose work has recently appeared in Tenderness Lit, Wine Cellar Press, and elsewhere. She has a monthly videogame writing column in Videodame and she tweets @rickit.

Rose Lamack Rose is a 20-year-old Law and Arts student at the University of Newcastle. She enjoys travelling, exploring new places and experiencing different cultures. She is passionate about connecting with people through story-writing. In her spare time, she can be found swimming at the beach, catching up with friends or sipping mochas-with-extra-chocolate.

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Vini Salma Fadhilah Vini is an interior designer based in Bandung, Indonesia. She loves to read and writing since she was in junior high school. She published her writings about her interest in history, folk tales, and everything in between on Medium and published some scientific papers about interior design as well. In her free time, she loves to stroll around either alone or with her friends and takes pictures with her film camera.

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Komal Keshran Komal Keshran is a young artist from Malaysia. Their work has appeared in Ink Drinkers Poetry, APIARY Magazine, The Write Launch and Apeiron Review among others. Komal is also the creator and editor of Orange Blush Zine. You will likely find them in their little corner of the world, either talking to their houseplants or hosting online theatre. Read their work online at malandthemoon.tumblr.com/poetry.

Jack Joseph Jack Joseph is a fine art student at Plymouth College of Art, England. His work often references his experience with dysphoria and societal expectations of masculinity and femininity, beauty and the ugly, developing distinct aesthetics through unique techniques. His work is created through a multifaceted process of photography, illustration, animation and other digital mediums; forming imagery which appears to be in some liminal space and often grotesque, unsettling or peculiar.

Sophia William Sophia William is a psychology student and executive team member at Orange Blush Zine. She's here for the vibes.

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Shekinah Louis Shekinah Louis has always been fascinated by how words can possess such a powerful hold on someone's life, let alone their moods. Words have had a humongous impact in her life since her early teens, especially in the form of poetry and prose. Shekinah hopes to embody that in their own work, and wishes to write pieces that invoke strong emotions, and deals with the feelings that one would normally wish— or hope— to avoid.

Charlotte Todd Charlotte Todd is an eighteen-year-old writer currently based in London, England. She is hugely fascinated by both people and the human experience, a concept which she attempts to decipher in her writing. Charlotte’s work is playful and eccentric yet still retains eloquence speaking from both personal experience and curiosity.

Devanshi Singh Devanshi Singh has always loved words and their ability to transform and empower people so completely. They are a seventeen-year-old writer, and their work reflects their experiences with fluidity, growth and change – and how we can find beauty in that. They hope to make art out of their words that will make people feel alive, and look for the beauty they wouldn’t normally notice.

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Phoebe Anson Phoebe Anson (she/her) is a recent graduate of English Literature from the University of Sheffield. She is currently taking a year away from studies, working as a support worker, before she goes back to university to do a Master’s degree. Phoebe’s work explores a range of themes from the female body to animal theory to deconstructions of the (human) self. Phoebe has previously been published in Orange Blush Zine, as well as other publications like Illagrypho Press, Streetcake Magazine, Quince Map, and Nymphs publications.

Chelsea Akpan Chelsea Akpan is a Nigerian-born cartoonist that focuses on bringing bold colors and exaggerative shapes together to create distinct and playful illustrative work. Her work speaks to her personal experiences and portrays it in a humorous and whimsical way.

Ian Long Ian Long is an artist currently studying illustration at Montclair State University in New Jersey, USA. They enjoy creating narrative pieces by using a combination of bold colors, textured brushes, and paper overlays. In their free time, you can find Ian reading, taking walks, antique shopping, or watching reality TV with their roommates.

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Marjorie Gaber Marjorie Gaber is an illustrator, writer, and cartoonist currently based in Dearborn, Michigan. She writes a lot of autobio comics these days focusing on her day to day life in her hometown; she also likes to make works exploring queer identity, horror, escapism, and, when the mood strikes, cowgirls. She also Has A Lot of Thoughts about robots.

Lorena Horng Lorena is a student from Texas, USA with a love for all things visual arts. She spends most of her free time either painting or staring at paintings, and can often be found wandering around a grocery store or finding thematic parallels between modern art and art history.

Caitlin Noble Caitlin is an illustrator based in Falmouth, Cornwall. After completing her Foundation Art and Design Cert HE in UWTSD 2020- Caitlin began studying a BA in Illustration at Falmouth University, following her passion for art and drawing- and creating striking visual imagery both the artist and audience can lose themselves in. Greatly inspired by line and patternmuch of Caitlin’s practice in centred around detail in mesmerising designs.

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Chloe Harnett-Hargrove The letter 'b' no longer works in her keyboard so she has to constantly copy and paste one from wherever she can find it. She has a list of very specific things she wishes she were, but only manages to show up as vague and ambiguous. She wants to draw the comic that dethrones Watchmen. *ducks* - 2:14 am

But really, Chloe’s been self-publishing for a while now and affords her comix habit with a graphic design job. Occasionally (as in when she gets up the nerve), Chloe enters art shows with her work. Most recently, she was a semi-finalist in Broken Pencil's Indie Illustrator's Death-Match.

Stephanie Ellis Stephanie Ellis is an illustrator based out of Grand Rapids, Michigan. Her work is largely inspired by the natural world, storytelling, and her midwest upbringing. Her paintings often are character driven and feature a variety of organic shapes and objects. She creates these worlds with familiar flora and fauna while also incorporating strange or fantasy elements.

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