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Feb./March 2012

INSIDE: Special holiday and wedding sections from Family Features Editorial Syndicate

Plug in to creativity.

Ode to love Artists and writers pay homage to one of the most timehonored themes in the artistic world

Publish Your Work [Outlet Magazine]

YOU hold all copyrights to work published in Outlet. WE distribute your work to build your fanbase.

Outlet Magazine accepts:  Fiction, poetry, creative non-fiction and feature articles  Photography and photo essays  Paintings, drawings, sketches  Photographs of artwork (sculptures, pottery, jewelry making, etc.)  Personal experience pieces about creative projects  Film*  Music*

HOW TO SUBMIT Email material to submissions@ Check out our submissions guidelines at

* Audio and video files are not directly embedded into the magazine. Audio and video projects profiled in Outlet Magazine can be found on the magazine website,





The Rebirth of Big Band Meet the members of Joe Crumrine and the Original Skazz Band

Make a romantic meal for two with these recipes from Outlet creative director Sarah Doremus.

Cover art by Adrian Costea,




[Out] Of Sight:

So I Stayed In the Darkness With You


Fiction by Angie Barry A reboot of Greek mythology

Valentine’s Day Treat your sweetheart right with these tips from Family Features



For Jim

Poetry by Ira Potter

Bad Romance A look at romance novels



Images of Romance The [Out] Of Sight feature highlights artists and their work. Jon Damaschke and Natasha Clark share visions of romance.

[16] Film Flammers

High school chemistry teacher and movie critic extraordinaire Siobhan Julian lists her top ten romantic flicks.

Serial Novel

Chapter Three: Of Airships and Metal Men

Rad Bromance Guy love. Between two guys.

[34] Wedding Guide Plan your big day and stay stress-free




[40] [44]


Editor’s Note

[4] [36]

[Let] Me Tell You


Shop Talk

[61] Miss Informed

[39] Chapter three of Outlet Magazine’s serial novel, Of Airships and Metal Men, in this issue. See pages 46-54

MORE ONLINE  Check for updates, submissions guidelines and the newest issue of Outlet Magazine.


Also be sure to check out our Backstage Feature and listen to the latest music featured in Outlet Magazine.

Editor’s desk | 3

Editor-in-Chief Julie Stroebel Associate Editor Derek Barichello Creative Director Sarah Doremus Submissions Director/ Senior Staff Writer Colleen Toliver Marketing Director/ Senior Staff Writer Angie Barry Resident Illustrator Hannah Jackson

Queries: Submissions: submissions@

Outlet Magazine is a free publication. All copyrights remain with the creators of work included in this magazine. Outlet Magazine is not a copyright holder of the original work submitted to this publication and cannot grant rights for reproduction. To request permission to reproduce content, contact the original creator. Outlet Magazine’s mission is to serve as a creative outlet where writers and artists can build an audience and network and distribute their work.

Published in the United States

Editor’s Note Julie Stroebel

Romance has been on our minds a lot lately here at Outlet. In November, associate editor Derek Barichello and I became engaged. Senior staff writer Colleen Toliver made a move across the country to live near her lover. A few years ago, creative director Sarah Doremus married the love of her life. And we can’t overlook senior staff writer Angie Barry, who is the master of tracking down the most poignantly romantic writing, film and music ever created — then she shares it with the rest of the women on staff and brings us close to happy, mushy tears. Angie also happens to be my maid of honor, so we’re all wrapped up in wedding plans over here. With all the nuptials-talk and with February being the month romance goes mainstream, it only seemed natural to focus our creative romantic energy on Outlet. Whether you’re a believer in Valentine’s Day or hate its red-andpink heartshaped guts, one thing is certain: love has been a dominant theme in the creative world throughout the ages. Love songs, love poems, love stories ... romantic themes surround us. Try to think of the last movie or TV program you watched without a love interest. In fact, a great challenge would be going through the wings of an art museum and tallying up the number of romance-related artwork. Wherever we look, the love (or at least the ode to it) is everywhere — even moreso in February as retail chains begin to stock their shelves with roses, boxes of chocolates and those stuffed animals holding plush hearts. Outlet is going to jump on board in its own way and share the ode to love by featuring artwork, writing and feature stories about romance in the artistic world. Also in this issue are two sections from the Family Features syndicate — a small Valentine’s Day package and a wedding section for my fellow brides-to-be out there. We hope you find these additions useful.

4 | [Let] Me Tell You

Let me tell you I never perfected an invention that I did not think about in terms of the service it might give others… I find out what the world needs, then I proceed to invent. – Thomas Edison

Clarity of painting comes from clarity of vision. A painter has to be emotionally right out there and present, both to perceive and to express. -Kate Palmer

It is good to love many things, for therein lies the true strength, and whosoever loves much performs much, and can accomplish much, and what is done in love, is well done. — The Letters of Vincent van Gogh to his brother Theo “I think it’s important to like stuff. I think we spend a lot of time thinking about the stuff we don’t like, man. Whether it’s, y’know, the world ending or inequality or

‘Sex and the City,’ we often just accept the things that

we like and complain a lot about the things that we don’t like. But if we could, like, intensely dwell upon the really

great things in life the way that we intensely dwell on the negative things in life, I think that would be fantastic.” -Hank Green

Shop Talk | 5

Shop Talk: Products to help your creativity

STEAMPUNK JOURNAL. It’s no secret that here at Outlet, we love Steampunk. So it’s only natural to include this original hand-stitched, made-toorder Steampunk journal created by seller Keilantra’s Kreations. Journal dimensions are 7x10 inches with 4.25x5.5-inch pages. The journals run for $30. Search Keilantra on Etsy to see this and more.

TRANSLATIONS WASTE BASKET. This waste basket is made with repurposed Japanese newspapers and magazines. This is a trendy addition to any room. Besides, if you have to throw away first drafts, you might as well throw them away in style. $24.99 at productId=10012620&N=&Ntt=newspaper

SHUT UP AND WRITE T-SHIRT. Sometimes the best motivation is blunt motivation. This writer’s tshirt is made by Cafe Press. To view a variety of writer-related t-shirts, visit the Writer’s Store section of the Freelance Writing Success website at $18 at

RECYCLED MAGAZINE PURSE. Magazine purses are trendy these days, but don’t go for the fake reproductions screened on fabric. Instead, get the real deal with a recycled magazine purse made from the pages of actual magazines. This particular purse goes for $72 at Eco Plum (www. shop/products_all), but a Google search or quick browse of other products on Eco Plum can turn up equally awesome items for a lower price.

6 | Music

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8 | Music

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10 | Music

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12 | [Out] Of Sight

Images of Romance

SEE FOR YOURSELF! Check out more of Jon Damaschke’s artwork at or

Carly and Evan Jon Damaschke

[Out] Of Sight | 13

Carly and Evan Jon Damaschke

14 | [Out] Of Sight

Interracial couple 2 Natasha Clark

[Out] Of Sight | 15

Fate Natasha Clark Keep your eyes peeled for more artwork in the future at

Interracial couple 1 Natasha Clark

16 | Film


ilm lammers

by Siobhan Julian


My top

favorite film couples

Romance and film are ingrained in each other. One of the first commercially exhibited films was Thomas Edison’s “The Kiss” in 1896; since then, it seems that everyone and their dog has been fascinated by watching people talk about love, fall in love, and make love on screen. Because of the far reaching scope of romance in film, the easiest way for me to write about it is on a personal level. Everyone has a movie they find to be sublimely romantic, but tastes range wildly on what is needed for that. Take my high school students, for example. Most of my girls, when asked what their favorite romantic movie is, will say “The Notebook” faster than I can say “Nauseating.” I have come to realize several things about my taste in romance movies by thinking about the ones I love versus the ones I detest. Most importantly: I despise sentimentalism. To quote “Gilmore Girls,” I say “Finally!” at the end of “Love Story.” I roll my eyes when Jack lets go of Rose’s hands. I think Nicholas Sparks shouldn’t be allowed near pen and paper ever again. Furthermore, I don’t go in for the standard romance classics. I love “Casablanca” as much as anyone, but the romance in it doesn’t get my blood pumping like other films do. Which is not to say I’m not a romantic; in fact, I consider myself rather mushy. Picking a single favorite romantic movie of mine is impossible. Furthermore, when I started to think about my favorite onscreen romances, I realized that not necessarily all of them came from typi-

cal romantic movies. Consider Marion and Indy from “Raiders of the Lost Ark” – what a glorious romance in a full blown action adventure flick! Here, then, are my ten favorite couples from film. (I automatically ruled out film adaptations of classic novels on the basis that I consider them favorite couples from literature, not film. So, sad to say, no Jane and Mr. Rochester or Anne and Captain Wentworth.) The movies that they hail from are not necessarily out-and-out romances or romantic comedies, but their relationships are wonderful. Lili and Paul (Leslie Caron and Mel Ferrer) in “Lili.” (1953) Lili is a very young woman suddenly on her own who finds refuge with a travelling circus. She becomes smitten with the magician, but the strong, silent, and surly puppeteer Paul is the one who really gets through to her by speaking to her with his puppets. Mel Ferrer is swoonworthy as the crippled ex-dancer who seethes with fury when he sees the charlatan magician toy with Lili’s affections, and Leslie Caron is naively sweet as she realizes that it is Paul, and not the magician, who has truly won her heart. Ellie and Peter Warne (Claudette Colbert and Clark Gable) in “It Happened One Night.” (1934) The grandmother of all modern romantic comedies, this is the one that set the bar impossibly high for all others to follow. A shirtless Clark Gable is worth the price of admission alone, but watching gruff reporter Warne shepherd rich heiress Ellie around while she makes her way to an elopement with a doof is glorious. When Warne angrily shouts at Ellie’s father that yes, he IS in love with Ellie, my heart melts every time. Lucy and Jack (Sandra Bullock and Bill Pullman) in “While You Were Sleeping.” (1995) Screwball romantic comedy to a tee: Jack’s family mistakenly thinks that Lucy is engaged to Jack’s comatose brother Peter, but when Lucy and Jack start to fall for one another, things get rather knotty. Watching the knots work themselves out is intensely satisfying in this incredibly warm family movie. While I tend to like films with more edge than this, I love Lucy and Jack because they are sweet without being saccharine or sappy.




Film | 17


Clara and Marty (Betsy Blair and Ernest Borgnine) in “Marty.” (1955) What makes this romance truly exceptional is its utter ordinariness; Marty and Clara are older, plain, lonely, and a little sad, all of which makes watching them fall in love wonderfully romantic. The humble love story is made all the much stronger by Marty having to overcome his oppressive domestic circumstances. His mother hounds him, his friend is jealous of him, but still Marty won’t give up on love. I root for Marty and Clara in a way that I simply don’t root for other screen couples. Tracy Lord and CK Dexter Haven (Katharine Hepburn and Cary Grant) in “The Philadelphia Story.” (1940) Tracy is getting ready to marry George Kittredge, is inconvenienced when she gets drunk and kisses Macaulay Connor, and is utterly perplexed when she realizes she’s still in love with Dexter Haven, her ex-husband. Dexter, for his part, has known that he still loves her the entire time. Cary Grant plays the sober, steadying, grounded Dexter against all the crazy fools dancing around him, and I gaze dreamily at him as he deftly handles the debacle of Tracy’s wedding day, confidently steering her back into his adoring arms. Clementine and Joel (Kate Winslet and Jim Carrey) in “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.” (2004) There is far more truth in movies that deal with the end of relationships than those concerned with their beginnings, and it is the brutal honesty about the birth, life, and death of the romance between Clementine and Joel that is so sadly romantic. Joel, in the middle



of having his memory of Clementine wiped away, realizes that despite the bad times, he doesn’t want to forget her completely. There are things worth remembering. This realization, so true for all of us in retrospect, is sadly, painfully, and poignantly romantic. Laura and Detective McPherson (Gene Tierney and Dana Andrews) in “Laura.” (1944) Someone has killed Laura Hunt and Detective McPherson is investigating her death. As he finds out more and more about the luminous Laura (played by Tierney in flashbacks), he slowly realizes he is falling in love with a dead girl. Watching Andrews’ tortured detective stare hungrily at a portrait of Laura is messed up – but I also think it’s dead romantic (pun intended). Andrews pulls off stoic anguish perfectly in this classic film noir, and he makes me fall for him every time. Audrey Woods and Daniel Rafferty (Julianne Moore and Pierce Brosnan) in “Laws of Attraction.” (2004) We all have our guilty pleasures, and this is my favorite. The plot is completely ridiculous – opposing divorce lawyers get drunk, sleep together, go to Ireland for some bizarre reason – but the characters are wonderful. I smile every time Brosnan’s roguish slob Daniel falls instantaneously in love with Moore’s neurotic, high-powered Audrey, and sigh wistfully as he spends the rest of the movie trying to convince her that his feelings are genuine. “Citizen Kane” it ain’t, but this is my favorite guilty pleasure romance. Nick and Nora Charles (William Powell and Myrna Loy) in “The Thin Man.”




(1934) Romance is not always about the pursuit. The best romances last a lifetime, and finding a way to sustain the romance in a relationship is vitally important, which is exactly why Nick and Nora are on this list. Here is a husband and wife who not only love each other, but like each other as well. They have fun together, they throw parties together, they get drunk together, they solve crimes together. The chemistry between Loy and Powell is immaculate – the two wound up making fourteen films together, and more often than not, they played a married couple. Joan and Torquil - yes, the hero’s name is Torquil! (Wendy Hiller and Roger Livesey) in “I Know Where I’m Going!” (1946) Oh, you’ve never heard of this movie? Get in line. Easily my favorite romance ever, this sublimely charming story follows Joan as she doggedly pursues her gold-digging marriage to an offscreen business tycoon while Torquil, the handsome but penniless laird of a tiny Hebridean isle, doggedly pursues Joan. Of course, Joan ultimately cannot deny her growing feelings for Torquil, but the manner in which their tale plays out is utterly beguiling and beautifully shot. When Torquil has Joan pinned up against a ladder, telling her the lyrics to “Horo My Nut Brown Maiden,” I’m practically screaming at the screen for them to fall wildly into each other’s arms. Simple, gentle, they really don’t make ‘em like this anymore. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have an appointment with my DVD player and a mug of hot chocolate.


18 | Food

Food | 19

20 | Food

Your book could be in this stack someday. Begin your publishing history with Outlet.

Valentine’s Day | 23

Share some love with

Cupcakes FAMILY FEATURES — There’s no better way to say “Be Mine” than with a collection of Valentine’s Day cupcakes - a great surprise for anyone you’re sweet on this February 14. Cupid’s arrow hits the mark with moist and delicious Red Velvet with Love Cupcakes. The vibrant red goodies are fun for kids and adults alike to make, decorate and eat. Creative cupcakes like these have endless possibilities with Valentine’s tips and techniques from Wilton. Themed baking cups coordinate with colorful sprinkles, icing decorations and party picks to make it easy to decorate a gift from the heart.  Valentine Standard or Mini Baking Cups, Heart Eyelet Baking Cups, Cupcake-N-Pix Combo or Heart Silicone Baking Cups  2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour  2 tablespoons cocoa powder  1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder  1 teaspoon salt  1/2 cup (1 stick) butter or margarine, softened  1 1/2 cups granulated sugar  2 eggs  1 1/2 teaspoons No-Taste Red Icing Color  1 teaspoon Imitation Clear Vanilla Extract  1 cup buttermilk  2 tablespoons water  1 1/2 teaspoons white vinegar  1 teaspoon baking soda  Buttercream Icing  Red, Rose and Black Icing Color  Red Foil Swirls Cupcake Wraps  Valentine Sprinkles, Jumbo Hearts Sprinkles, Heart Icing Decorations, Rose Icing Decorations, Candy Eyeballs Preheat oven to 350. Line muffin pan with baking cups or set silicone cups on cookie sheet and spray with vegetable pan spray. Photo courtesy of Wilton Enterprises

Dress up cupcakes using a pink, red and white palette. Create cute and quick love monsters by piping icing to make the nose, mouth and fur, and then attach candy eyeballs, and heart-shaped picks for ears. Other decorating options include wrapping cupcakes in foil cups for an elegant effect, or finishing with colored sugars and sprinkles. You can even write special messages on them. After decorating, package cupcakes in a festive box adorned with ribbon and bows for a treat that’s sure to tie a heart in knots. For more Valentine’s Day celebration ideas, visit In medium bowl, combine flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt; set aside. In large bowl, cream butter and sugar with electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add eggs, red icing color and vanilla extract; mix well until icing color is well incorporated. Alternately add flour mixture and buttermilk; add water and mix well. In a small bowl, combine white vinegar and baking soda; gently stir into cupcake mixture. Distribute cupcake batter evenly in cups. Bake 20-22 minutes for standard cupcakes, 10-12 minutes for mini cupcakes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool cupcakes completely. For Love Monster Cupcakes, use tip 18 and rose icing to pipe pull-out stars on cupcake tops. Add candy eyeballs with dots of icing. Add tip 10 red icing dot nose. Use tip 4 and black icing to pipe dot pupils and outline mouth. Position heart picks. For Other Cupcakes, spatula ice cupcake smooth or top with tip 22 mini cupcake icing swirl or tip 1M standard cupcake icing swirl. If desired, place in cupcake wraps. Top with desired sprinkles or icing decorations or add tip 4 message. Makes about 20 standard cupcakes. SOURCE: Wilton Enterprises

24 | Valentine’s Day

Photo courtesy of Getty Images

Valentine’s Day | 25

Protecting Your Purchase n Know exactly what you’re purchasing, and get all

estimates of gem quality and treatments in writing. n Be sure to ask about your jeweler’s return policy

before purchasing. If shopping online, be sure to buy only from reputable and researched sources. n Losing valuable jewelry is always disappointing,

but if the piece was a gift it likely had emotional

value as well, which can make it heartbreaking to lose. Plan ahead to preserve your precious memories by having valuable gifts appraised and insured by a company that specializes in jewelry insurance, such as Jewelers Mutual Insurance Company. n If you need jewelry insurance or would like a free,

no-obligation quote, visit



very day is a good day to tell someone how much they are loved, but Valentine’s Day is a good day to show someone how much they are treasured. And many people choose to do that with a lovely piece of jewelry. If you’d like to buy your loved one a special piece of jewelry this year, these tips will help you find the perfect gift.

Personal Style

Before doing any shopping, make sure you know what style the recipient prefers. Notice if he or she wears only gold or silver jewelry. Does he or she prefer small, understated pieces or bigger, bolder jewelry? What type of jewelry do they wear most often — necklaces, bracelets, earrings? If you’re unsure about buying jewelry, consider bringing along a family member or friend who knows them well to help you pick something they would love.

Gemstone Basics

To make sure you know what you’re buying, here are some definitions from the American Gem Society: n Natural gemstones are found in nature. With the exception of the pearl, they are created and mined from the earth. Sometimes natural gemstones are treated in some way to improve their color and/or clarity. Treatments and/ or enhancements should always be disclosed by the seller, along with any special care that might be required. n Laboratory-created gemstones are also known as laboratory-grown, manufacturer-created, or synthetic. They have the same physical, chemical and visual properties as natural gemstones, but they do not have the same rarity or value. n Imitation gemstones look like natural gemstones in appearance only. They can be manmade or made from a natural stone. Both laboratorycreated and imitation stones should be clearly labeled as such. Gemstones can be measured by weight, size or both. The carat is the basic unit for weighing gemstones, and is equal to one-fifth of a gram. Carats are further divided into 100 units, called points. For example, a half-carat gemstone would weigh .50 carats or 50 points. When gemstones are measured by dimensions, the size is expressed in millimeters (for example, 7 x 5 millimeters). The value of gemstones is determined by the 4 Cs — color, cut, clarity and carat weight. Color is the most important factor.

About Pearls

Natural pearls are extremely rare. You’ll most often encounter cultured and imitation pearls. Cultured Pearls — Grown in pearl farms, these high-quality pearls can be found in saltwater and in freshwater. Different types of mollusks produce very different looking pearls.

Imitation Pearls — These are typically coated glass beads with a high luster. Most respected jewelers can tell the difference between imitation and cultured pearls. There are various lengths of pearl necklaces available: n Collar fits directly against the throat. n Choker rests at the base of the neck. n Princess rests near the collarbone. n Matinee length is typically 20 to 24 inches. n Opera length is between 30 and 36 inches. n Rope length refers to all strands longer than 36 inches.

Materials 101

To make sure you buy a quality piece that will last, you need to know a little about what jewelry is made of. The three most common metals used include gold, sterling silver and platinum. Here’s what you need to know: Gold — When you see the word “gold” by itself on a piece, it means all gold, or 24-karat gold. Twenty-four-karat gold is soft, so it’s usually mixed with other metals to make it more durable. Fourteen-karat jewelry contains 14 parts gold mixed with 10 parts of a base metal. The higher the karat rating, the higher the proportion of gold. Sterling silver — This term describes a piece that contains 92.5 percent silver. Sometimes they are marked “925,” which means 925 parts per thousand are pure silver. “Coin silver” is used for compounds that contain 90 percent silver. Platinum — Platinum is a natural, white-colored, precious metal that is often described as being strong, durable and corrosion resistant. It’s usually mixed with other similar metals, such as iridium, palladium, ruthenium, rhodium and osmium.

Choosing Necklaces

Most necklaces come in one of these lengths: 16, 18, 20, 22, 24 and 28 inches. How do you choose the right one to buy? First, you need to know where the different lengths will fall on the wearer’s body. 16 inches choker length 18 inches at collarbone 20 inches a few inches below collarbone 22 inches at or above neckline 24 inches below neckline 28 inches around the bustline

Birthstones 101

Consider making your jewelry gift personal by including the recipient’s birthstone: January Garnet February Amethyst March Aquamarine April Diamond May Emerald June Pearl July Ruby August Peridot September Sapphire October Opal November Topaz December Turquoise

A Bad Romance

by Colleen Toliver

The hits and misses of the romance novel

On the cover | 35


f you’ve been in a bookstore recently – particularly a used bookstore – you’ve seen them: huge shelves full of books with covers featuring men’s glistening abs, lace, and women with heaving bosoms and neon-colored eyeshadow. Their titles range from the coyly erotic (Souls Aflame) to the long and plot summarizing (Mistress: Pregnant by the Spanish Billionaire). There are a seemingly endless variety, all peddling the same thing: romance. For the most part, romance novels are mocked as the worst of the worst. And there’s plenty of reason for the disdain. I myself write a humor blog making fun of romance novels on a semi-regular basis. The writing is often atrocious, the stories cliched, the characters roughly the same from one book to another. But romances are a billion dollar industry, earning $1.358 billion in 2010, according to the Romance Writers of America (RWA). Its main body of readership is women ages 31-49 – and research indicates that those readers are women who are already in a romantic relationship. So what exactly are these readers getting from their romance novels? Sarah Wendell and Candy Tan, writers of the blog at Smart Bitches, Trashy Books, think we’re getting quite a lot. Both Sarah and Candy are the first to say that romance is often bad. Very, very bad. But the goal of their site is to review and discuss the many romance novels they read – in an academic way and not just a “ooohhh that hero is soooooooo

dreamy” kind of way. They are smart, intellectual women who love romance, and want to chat about romance with other smart women – and curse extensively at the same time. Their reviews are hilarious and pointed, and celebrate the general trashiness of romance novels while still holding romance to the standards of any other genre. When reading a romance novel, both Sarah and Candy are looking for believable heroes and heroines, in believable relationships, in the midst of a believable plot. They want their romances well-written and well-played. The standard assumption, of course, is that the characters don’t really matter in romance; and that the plot doesn’t really matter either. But Candy and Sarah prove that isn’t at all true – as do their readers and commenters, who are just as witty and sharp as the blog’s proprietresses. They are outraged by bad plots and stupid characters. They want their women to be strong, fascinating, flawed, but ultimately smart. The heroes need personality, and need to be real, good men – not glorified cave men taking

28 | On the cover

their brainless women as they please. And the plot has to be good. If the Smart Bitches, Trashy Books blog didn’t already cinch it, the RWA confirmed via surveys that what women readers look for in a romance is a good, interesting plot, with characters they know they will love. Romance itself isn’t even limited to romance novels. If we’re being honest, romance permeates far more than just romance novels. There is at least one romance in most major movies, TV shows, and books – and, depending on the show or book, there may be more than one. In the genre of fan fiction (which we talked about in our last issue), most stories revolve around couples from those same films and TV programs. Love is essentially a storytelling standard, a base element that appears regardless of genre. Romance novels just amp up the love story a little bit more. But if romance can be found virtually anywhere, why bother having a separate genre for it? Like many books, romance novels are largely about visiting a place we as readers cannot otherwise experience. The love stories featured in these novels are hyper-real in some aspects; they contain many aspects of real human love, but those elements are usually intensified, heightened, and made to be just that little bit prettier than real love usually is. In answer to a Yahoo! question posed about why women read romances, one reader replied, “Because not once does the man fart, burp, leave the seat up, or refuse to ask for directions. The men in those books actually listen when women vent, are supportive, let the women know how they are feeling, and come to the rescue in the end.” Essentially, the characters are turned into ideals that can’t be found in the real world. What serves as the ideal varies from reader to reader and from author to author. Some readers prefer strong, forceful, aggressive heroes, and some would much rather read about more sensitive and silly men. Some readers prefer female characters who won’t take any bullshit from anyone, and some prefer shyer, more complex and thoughtful heroines. A lot depends on what kind of place you as a reader are looking to visit in your mind, and with what kind of characters. This is probably why romance itself has quite a few subgenres. From paranormal to historical to time-travel to romance with pregnancy and babies, romance itself covers every conceivable era, situation, and place. There are NASCAR romance novels, and cowboy romance novels, and Native American romance novels. There’s a romance novel for pretty much anyone. Given the huge variety of romances, it probably isn’t that surprising that romance is such a popular genre. Yet it’s still a genre that people feel embarrassed to admit they’re reading, and it’s still widely ridiculed. The ridicule is not without reason. Writing in romance, as in any genre, can be very, very awful. Moreover, ro-

mance writing often supports some very out-of-date ideals. Take, for example, what Candy and Sarah refer to as “Old Skool” romances – roughly 1970s-era romances that were usually historical and frequently featured rape as a romantic gesture. In their book Beyond Heaving Bosoms: The Smart Bitches’ Guide to Romance Novels, Candy and Sarah note that rape was often the starting point for the heroine’s relationship with the hero in Old Skool romance. Moreover, it was frequently heavily implied that the hero had at first thought that the heroine was sexually promiscuous, which he believed made his rape acceptable. Only when he realized that the woman he’d raped had been a virgin would he feel any kind of guilt for his actions. Even then, the cure for the traumatic sexual assault usually seemed to be more sex, and a declaration of love from the hero. Romance novels have evolved quite a bit since then. You aren’t nearly as likely to find rape (or “forced seduction,” as some authors and readers politely rename it) in romance, and when it does happen, readers generally respond negatively. Moreover, there has been an incredible rise in sexually experienced, smart, and fierce heroines – strong and likeable women that other women readers can relate to. The quality of writing can still be a huge issue, of course – as it can in any genre. In romance, however, it seems poor quality writing is more likely to go without criticism, perhaps because bad writing is almost expected. Romance authors frequently write over a hundred books – sometimes publishing several in a year. With that kind of demand, there isn’t much time for quality control. The best example of this is the case of Cassie Edwards. I’ve read several of her books, and they are truly terrible. Her prose is wooden, her characters have little to no personality, the plots are long and boring, and the dialogue is hilariously ludicrous. Moreover, Edwards is best known for writing the Savage series – a huge series of romance novels based on Native American tribes from all across North America. Edwards originally planned to write one romance for every North American tribe that there ever was. And all this, because her grandmother was full-blood Cheyenne. If the writing and generally offensive title of her romance series weren’t enough, in 2008 Edwards was accused of plagiarism – by none other than the Smart Bitches of Smart Bitches, Trashy Books. According to their reviews, many of Edwards’ passages were taken directly from other sources about Native American cultures. Edwards later went on to say that she didn’t know she was required to credit her sources in her books. For every Edwards, of course, there’s a better romance writer. Not all romances are atrocious, and not all are to be mocked. Sarah and Candy firmly believe that romance novels should be treated like any other books, and held up to the same kind of criticism. When they are well-written and when the characters are interesting, romances are the same as any other book: a path into another place.

On the cover | 37

Everyone has imagination. Everyone daydreams.

What fantastic things are going on in your mind?

Show and tell us.  Fiction, poetry, creative non-fiction and feature articles  Photography and photo essays  Paintings, drawings, sketches  Photographs of artwork (sculptures, pottery, jewelry making, etc.)  Personal experience pieces about creative projects  Film*  Music* * Audio and video files are not directly embedded into the magazine. Audio and video projects profiled in Outlet Magazine can be found on the magazine website,

HOW TO SUBMIT Email material to submissions@ Check out our submissions guidelines at

A Rad Bromance by Angie Barry

‘It’s guy love, between two guys’: Why bromances draw in the ladies and boost the box office.


obert Downey Jr. doesn’t like the term “bromance.” He prefers to just call the relationship between his character Sherlock Holmes and Jude Law’s Dr. John Watson a romance. “To me, Watson and Holmes are an exploration of intimacy in all kinds of relationships,” he explained in a Daybreak interview. “What’s known as banter — which is sometimes just waffle to get you from one action sequence to another — we really treated that like that’s the poetry in the movie, finishing each other sentences, being at cross purposes, but coming around to these circles of understanding and love.” Downey may not be completely sold on the term bromance, but it’s become a handy catch-all description for those relationships between men that are far deeper than a typical friendship. These friendships are often full of teasing, hugging, and emotional confessions. As J.D. and Turk, the infamous pair from the hit show Scrubs, once sang, “It’s guy love.” And it’s become a way to boost sales and ratings. The buddy film has become the bromance movie, with recent notables including X-Men: First Class (Charles Xavier and Erik Lensherr), Star Trek (James T. Kirk and Mr. Spock), Superbad (Seth and Evan), and the aforementioned Sherlock Holmes. Yes, many of these bromantic pairs have been around for years, but recent reboots and sequels have significantly altered the previous friendships into something more expressive and charged. One of the first bromances as we know it originally sprang from literature: that oft-imitated and never-quite-duplicated

consulting detective Sherlock Holmes and his loyal sidekick Dr. John Watson. Considering the dozens of adaptations of Conan Doyle’s BFFs, this may also be the most recreated bromance in fiction. And it doesn’t matter which incarnation you’re referring to—from the Granada era to the Downey/Law films to the newest television series starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman—the Holmes and Watson relationship is one that exemplifies the loyalty, love, and partnership common to most bromances. It could even be considered the template that all other such friendships should be held up to. So why are bromances such a big deal? Why does the word elicit such dramatic reactions from audiences? Western society has long established, set gender roles. Women are expected to be softer and more emotional while men must be at all times stoic and aggressive. This is the standard nurturer vs. protector dynamic. What makes bromances so refreshing and entertaining — even subversive — is that such relationships directly challenge these gender roles. In a bromance, men are expressive and open about their emotions. There’s often clear declarations of love or admiration, frequent physical displays of affection, and a shared bond that is often communicated through glances and body language. The pair (or even trio) spend a significant amount of time together, often alone, and share multiple interests or activities. Essentially, it is a relationship that has all of the hallmarks associated with a heterosexual courtship, only between two straight

men—or a straight man and a gay man, or two gay men— who remain platonic. The fact that such relationships are often marginalized or suspect in mainstream society, derided as “homosexual” and even labeled as dangerous, makes them quite polarizing. There are plenty who mock bromances as unrealistic or “gross.” But these critics are those who miss the point entirely; and these critics are often male, which is significant. Fictional bromances are not always meant to appeal to men — they are written more for the female gaze. Which is to say: such relationships appeal more to women then men. This is, in itself, rather subversive in our society. Most entertainment, from television to movies to videogames, is

created to cater to men. We live in a patriarchal world, where men are predominant in terms of power and wealth. Thus the big-ticket industries aim to please the male population. Look at any blockbuster movie, most comics, or the average videogame. There will typically be scantilyclad, pretty, buxom ladies and muscled, stern, capable men. Most of the emotions displayed in these entertainments will run to anger, aggression, and fear. But bromances are centered on the positive spectrum of human emotion: love, companionship, kindness, self-sacrifice. This is because women typically prefer to observe relationships that are healthy and expressive; socalled “chick flicks” are often

described as touchy-feely because of the emphasis on emotions and relationships. By inserting bromances into genres that are traditionally male-oriented — Sherlock Holmes falls into both mystery/thriller and action categories, Star Trek is a sci-fi action flick, and X-Men is a comic book adaptation with, yes, action — the writers successfully draw in and hold female audiences that might not otherwise enjoy such movies. Not to say that there aren’t women who enjoy traditionally male-oriented entertainment (this author is herself one such lady); it is just that for some women, a good bromance can often be a saving grace in a film that they might otherwise not pick from the queue. And even for those who like their movies and TV shows full of

action and chills, a playful friendship between two heroic guys is icing on the proverbial cake. So bromances make waves and bring in the ladies. But just how important are they? What sort of power does a solid “guy love” story wield? Well, in the comic world they can bring about actual wars. Tony “Iron Man” Stark and Steve “Captain America” Rogers easily have one of the most important comic bromances. In fact, their relationship (and the breaking of it) was a driving force behind one of Marvel’s biggest storylines: Civil War. When the devoted friends took separate sides of a major political issue, which mirrored America’s own turmoil over the Patriot Act, the conflict only ended with the apparent

NOTABLE BROMANCES TELEVISION: Fake psychic/real detective Shawn and his hapless cohort Gus (Psych) may frequently tell fibs or assume ridiculous phony names, but they almost always get their criminal. Acerbic genius Dr. House would probably be totally friendless without long-suffering best pal Dr. Wilson (House). The two even bicker and make up like an old married couple. Detectives Ryan and Esposito (Castle) love cracking jokes together almost as much as they love cracking cases. Monster hunters Sam and Dean Winchester (Supernatural) have a literal bromance as they are, in fact, brothers. And these two would do anything for one another including: die, be possessed, and actually go to hell. The maverick Captain James T. Kirk, the cantankerous Dr. Leonard McCoy, and the coolly logical Mr. Spock (Star Trek) prove that bromances can be split three ways and can even save entire planets. LITERATURE: J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings is not just an epic fantasy series, but also a story rife with bromantic friendships. Legolas chooses to stay in Middle-Earth when the rest of Elf-kind de-

death of Captain America. It was only by reconciling that they were able to repair the damage the superpowered in-fighting had inflicted on the nation. Lord of the Rings proved that a bromance can mean all the difference in the ultimate clash of good versus evil. Frodo Baggins’ quest would have failed on the slopes of Mount Doom if not for the tenacious and loyal Samwise Gamgee. And the television series Supernatural surely wouldn’t have lasted seven seasons if the relationship at its center—that between big brother Dean and baby brother Sam Winchester—hadn’t been powerful and sincere.

When done well, such friendships aren’t just gimmicks or window dressings: they can actually be the heart of a life-changing story, the glue that holds all of the narrative threads together. And of course the bromance isn’t entirely fictional. Notable real life bromances include: Hugh Laurie and Stephen Fry, Matt Damon and Ben Affleck, Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing, and Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law. These fellas prove that deep friendships can be just as important, long-lasting, and life-altering as the greatest of romantic loves. Fry credits Laurie for helping

part, all for the sake of his closest companion Gimli. And Frodo surely wouldn’t have successfully destroyed the Ring without his devoted gardener Samwise. Stephen King’s The Stand features a touching friendship between the deaf/mute Nick Andros and the mentally-retarded Tom Cullen. It is a friendship that outlasts even death, and proves to be the salvation of more than one character. It would be remiss to forget the biggest bromance in recent literature: Harry Potter, the boy who lived, and his ginger BFF Ronald Bilius Weasley. If not for Ron, Harry may never have defeated Lord Voldemort for good. COMICS: Charles “Professor X” Xavier and Erik “Magneto” Lensherr (X-Men) were the closest of partners in their quest for mutant empowerment; but sadly, their opposing views on how to deal with a suspicious society led to their estrangement. Tony Stark and Steve Rogers (also known as Iron Man and Captain America, respectively) were complete opposites. Stark was a billionaire playboy, Rogers a dedicated soldier driven by a patriotic zeal. But together they led the Avengers through several world-shattering battles, supporting and challenging one another up to the fateful Civil War story.

him through some of his darkest periods of depression; Pegg and Frost’s current successes stem from their long-time creative collaboration; Lee delivered a deeply moving and tearful eulogy at his best friend Cushing’s funeral in 1994, and has said that their relationship was the most important of his life. If Dracula (or Saruman, or Count Dooku, depending on your level of geekery) himself can acknowledge the importance of platonic love between men, you’d be a fool to dismiss them as mere female wish-fulfillment, right? It seems that in recent years the bromance has blossomed—because the formula has proved a win-

ning one. Audiences love to watch devoted friends bicker, challenge one another, reconcile, and face obstacles side by side. There’s a great deal of satisfaction to be had in seeing a pair of guys work in tandem and save the day (perhaps from alien invasion, zombies, murderers, or super villains) before heading out for some beers or late-night videogaming. And so what if a story’s happy ending has a pair of guys walking off into the sunset together rather than the lead hero getting the swooning girl? That can always wait until the sequel; sometimes, a man just needs to kick back with his best buddy.

The first and last line between the sun coming up tomorrow and Hell on Earth.


Wedding Guide

Photo courtesy of Metro Creative Connection

Featuring wedding tips, tricks and ideas from Family Features Editorial Syndicate

36 | Wedding

A to-do list for brides-to-be FAMILY FEATURES



reparing for the big day means planning a multitude of details; everything from the flower arrangements to that something blue must be decided upon well in advance of the ceremony. Here are some tips to help ensure your big day goes off without a

The Big Decisions The decision to get married is the first of many big decisions you will be making in the weeks and months to come. Here are some things to con­sider right away: n Pick

a date. Talk with your fiancé and family (and your fiancé’s family) about potential wedding dates to ensure the important people in both your lives will be able to take part.

n Select

your guests. The number of guests you invite will directly influence the cost of your wedding.

n Set

a budget. Budgeting for your wedding is crucial, as this will have a great impact on every other aspect of your day, as well as your honeymoon. Plan for a little wiggle room for unexpected expenses.

n Choose

a location. Because most popular bridal spots are just that — popular — you may want to start searching for a location quickly.

n Organize

the bridal party. Make careful decisions about who you want supporting you leading up to the big day, and who will be displayed in front of everyone in your life.

n Pick

a style. Many brides choose wedding styles that are reflected in their save-the-dates, invitations, ceremonies, receptions and thankyou cards. Choosing a theme and color scheme in the begin­ning will help narrow down options later.

n Hire

a caterer. Take into account the dietary needs of your guests by offering a variety of menu options, including a vegetarian dish.

n Order

the cake. Whether you choose a large multi-tiered cake or cup­cakes, remember to keep your budget in mind—and pick flavors you and your fiancé truly enjoy.

n Make

the announcement. Decide how you want to let the community know of your planned nuptials. Do you want to take professional engagement photos? Do you plan to contact your local paper? Will you include a link to a wedding day website on your save-the-date or your wedding invitations?

n Get

the gown. On your wedding day, everyone will be awaiting a glimpse of your gown. Listen to your instincts and choose a gown that “feels right” and reflects your personality and style.

n Dress

your party. Once you have chosen the wedding dress of your dreams, speak with your fiancé about his wishes for his suit, as well as the bridal party attire.

n Hire

a photographer. Choose your professional photographer wisely. With a walk down the aisle, father/daughter dance and toast, your father is sure to get photographed, but your mother might get overlooked. Make sure to ask the photographer to get shots of your mother throughout the day as well.

n Choose

your flowers. Once you set the date, discuss with your florists which flowers are in season to help narrow down your selection. You may love tulips, but if you have a winter wed­ding, they may be hard to come by, and may be more expensive.

n Book

the entertainment. Do you want a DJ or a live band? Talk with your fiancé about your music preferences, as well as the types of tunes you want played at your reception to keep your guests on the dance floor.

Before the Big Day n Create

a website for your wedding to keep guests informed of events and for easy access to registry information. Provide accommodation information for those guests traveling from out of town.

n Insure

your engagement and wedding rings against loss, damage, theft or mysterious disappearance. According to a survey conducted by Jewelers Mutual Insurance Company, 44 percent of married women either don’t insure their engagement ring, or don’t know for certain whether their engagement and wedding rings are insured. For a free, no-obligation jewelry insurance quote, visit www.

n Make

sure your marriage license, travel documentation and insurance information are ready to go and stored in a safe place in advance of the wedding day.

n Practice

reciting your vows and speeches until you feel comfortable.

n Wear

your wedding heels around the house to “break them in.” Pack a back-up pair of flats to wear during the reception.

n Remember

to ask for help. Designate members of your family or close friends to specific assignments.

The Big Day Bridal Kit Supplies Bobby pins, elastic hair bands Hairbrush Hairspray Panty hose Nail file, nail polish, remover

Wedding Day Details n

Provide bottled water for your wedding party. To ensure no one gets over-heated, hide water near your bridal party during the ceremony for emergencies.


Choose meaningful gifts for your wedding party. Necklaces, earrings or bracelets are great for bridesmaids; cufflinks are perfect for groomsmen.


Create individual envelopes for tipping drivers, caterers, musicians, etc. Separate envelopes will help ensure you don’t forget anyone.


Plan for weather: In case of rain — Order a tent or choose a venue with indoor space for last-minute protection from the elements. Offer extra umbrellas to usher people from their vehicles to the venue. In case of heat — Place fans throughout the venue and provide plenty of water for guests. In case of cold — Space heaters can be placed throughout the space to warm up the room in advance of the event.


Over-estimate the amount of parking needed for guests.

Baby powder Makeup Stain remover Tissues Sewing kit with scissors Ballet flats Pocket mirror Extra post-earring backs Static cling spray Antacid Pain reliever Bandages Deodorant Dental floss Eye drops Bottled water Breath mints Duct tape — for last-minute dress fix-ups and to adhere to the bottom of slippery dress shoes

Following the Honeymoon n

Open wedding gifts and keep an accurate list of each guest in correspondence with their gift.


Write thoughtful, personalized hand-written thank you cards.

For more information about protecting your bridal jewelry, visit

B 38 | Wedding

rides udget on a

How to have a fabulous wedding for less

FAMILY FEATURES — The average wedding in America costs around $29,000, according to The Wedding Report, Inc., a wedding industry research company. Not surprisingly, couples are looking for ways to save money on their special day. Here are some ideas to help you have a wonderful wedding on a budget. The Date. Having a wedding on off-peak months and days can be a bargain. November through April are slower months for weddings, so many halls, caterers and other service providers give discounts because they have fewer bookings. Some will also have discounts for weddings held on any day other than Saturday. The Venue. If you know anyone with a beautiful home or a large garden, consider having the wedding there. Be sure to factor in the cost of renting tables and chairs. Holding the reception at a private place lets you buy your own alcohol and hire your own bartenders, both of which can save you money. Another option is to negotiate a package deal on an all-inclusive venue such as a hotel. The wedding and reception are all in one place, and out of town guests won’t have far to go when the party’s over. (Negotiate a good deal on a block of rooms for guests.) Invitations. Keep them simple. High-end paper, custom-colored inks, decorative linings and multiple enclosures all cost more. Do online research to find the best deal - or print them yourself. You can find plenty of affordable options at craft, hobby or office supply stores. To keep postage costs down, don’t use oversized or heavy paper.

The Dress. It’s possible to save big on your dress by choosing poly satin instead of silk fabric. Another option is to buy a discontinued design, rather than the latest one. These are usually less expensive and can be found at smaller dress shops or consignment shops. Flowers. Do you really need fresh flowers blanketing everything? Many couples opt for fresh flowers for the bridal party and silk arrangements as decoration for the ceremony and reception. Look into candles, ribbons, shells and decorative stones as alternatives. Food. Save serious money by planning the reception for a time when guests will not need a full, seated meal. If your ceremony is between 1 and 3 p.m., you can have a tea reception. Serve tea, finger sandwiches, scones and mini pastries. For a reception starting at 4 or 5 p.m., have a cocktail reception. Drinks and hors d’oeuvres are all you need. Make it clear on your invitation — “Tea (or cocktail) reception to follow.” Decorations and Favors. Take inventory of what you already have — and what friends and family have. Borrowing is cheaper than buying or renting, so ask around. Do-it-yourself favors are a great way to personalize your wedding for less. If you do need to buy supplies in large quantities, don’t be afraid to talk to the store manager about a bulk discount. You can have a fabulous wedding for less with some planning and elbow grease. But the best advice for saving money is to make a budget and stick to it. You’ll be tempted to upgrade just a little here and there - but pretty soon your bargain wedding is no bargain at all.

Wedding | 39

Wedding reception to remember


FAMILY FEATURES hether it’s set in the great outdoors, a lavish ballroom, the couple’s favorite restaurant or at home, the wedding reception is a special time for newlyweds to celebrate with family and friends. The signature dessert - cake - is usually the centerpiece for this occasion, a continuing reflection of the wedding theme and colors. An assortment of cupcakes or a tower of layers allows today’s cakes to take almost any form - from square to round, even pillow or heart-shaped. This stunning all-white creation from the wedding experts at Wilton is both simple yet elegant. Cake layers are covered in pure white fondant, while additional bands of fondant glistening with white sparkling sugar decorate the bottom of each tier. Dots of sugar pearl sprinkles, resembling perfect pearls add a hint of texture, while a gem-studded monogram topper adds the finishing touch. This unique do-it-yourself wedding topper kit can easily be

customized...with one initial, two or a trio. Self-adhesive crystallike gems are used to trace the initials onto the clear disc. Gems can also be used to create a border or other complementary design. After the reception, it makes a perfect keepsake for the couple that will be treasured for years to come. Guests will want to raise a glass in honor of the newlyweds with the timeless custom of a champagne toast. Decorated flutes for the bride and groom create a long-lasting memory of this special tradition. Individual boxes are ideal for truffles or other candies to send home with guests. Tie with ribbons reflecting the color theme of the wedding. Another fun memento is a mini champagne bottle favor that can be filled with small candies. Attach a label with a personalized message. Make it elegant or simple...and always make it meaningful and memorable. For more do-it-yourself wedding ideas, favors and accessories, visit

48 | On the cover

Chocolate Almond Wedding Celebration Cake, Wedding Cake Topper and Kisses Rosette Decorations

Wedding | 41

Wedding Cake Topper and Kisses Rosette Decorations

Completed craft is for decorative purposes only and should not be eaten.



hether planning an intimate brunch or a formal dinner reception, here are several delicious ways every bride and groom can add their own special touch to their wedding festivities.

Greeting Out-of-Town Guests

n For a sweet way to surprise visitors, have homemade cookies,

a thermos of cold milk or hot cocoa and some Hugs and Kisses waiting for hotel guests. n Make guests feel pampered by leaving a goodnight Hug and Kiss on their hotel room pillow.

Decorations and Favors With Flair

n Spread Hugs and Kisses across the place card, guest book and

wedding cake tables to add a sophisticated silver and gold touch. n Wrap several homemade sweets in colored cellophane or Hugs and Kisses in lace or tulle, and tie them with a satin bow to match your wedding colors.

Dessert Ideas for Wedding Festivities

n For a small wedding or rehearsal dinner, make

your own Celebration Cake, and decorate it with a removable centerpiece made from Hugs and Kisses. n For an extra dessert treat, set a silver bowl filled with Hugs and Kisses on the dessert buffet next to the wedding cake. n Host a post-wedding brunch for the bride and groom at the home of a family member or friend, and serve home­­made coffee­cakes, scones and crescents made with cinnamon chips.

Materials Needed: n 65 each Hershey’s Kisses Choco­lates and Kisses With Almonds Chocolates n Low temperature hot glue gun n Floral wire n Clear cellophane wrap n 2 packages white silk rose leaves, approximately 1-1/4 inches long n Floral tape n 1 plastic bouquet holder with Styrofoam center (available at craft stores) n 5 yards 1/4-inch wide silver wired ribbon n 1 bunch baby’s breath n 3 yards 2-inch wide gold edged white ribbon Kisses Rosette Decorations: Spread glue on bottom of one foil-wrapped Kiss. Firmly press bottom of another Kiss to it. Insert a 3-inch floral wire into one pointed end of double Kisses. Wrap 4-inch square of clear cellophane around the double Kisses, twisting tightly. At bottom of rosette, place one white silk rose leaf; wrap floral tape around wire and leaf stem. Con­ tinue wrapping tape down the stem, adding second leaf approximately 1 inch below the first. Cake Topper: Create seven each of silver and gold Kisses Rosette Decorations. Arrange rosettes by inserting stems into Styro­foam center of bouquet holder, alternating silver and gold rosettes. Decorate with curls of silver ribbon and sprigs of baby’s breath. Cake Layer Decorations: Wrap 2-inch wide gold edged ribbon around base of each layer. Prepare 9–10 Kisses Rosette clusters of two rosettes each (one silver and one gold) and 9–10 clusters of three rosettes each, tying each together with one white leaf and curled silver ribbon. Insert baby’s breath into each cluster. Arrange on cake layers, alternating two and three cluster Kisses Rosette Decorations.

42 | Wedding

Monogrammed Mini Chocolate Cakes

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter or margarine 1/2 cup water 3 tablespoons Hershey’s Cocoa 1 cup all-purpose flour 1 cup sugar 1/2 teaspoon baking soda 1/4 teaspoon salt 1 egg 1/3 cup dairy sour cream

COCOA GLAZE (recipe follows) Decorating icing in tube, desired color 1. Heat oven to 350°F. Line 13x9x2-inch baking pan with parchment paper or waxed paper. 2. Combine butter, water and cocoa in small saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture boils; remove from heat. Stir together flour, sugar, baking soda and salt in medium bowl. Stir in hot cocoa mixture. Add egg and sour cream; beat on medium speed of mixer until well blended. Pour batter into prepared pan. 3. Bake 20 to 22 minutes or until wooden pick

inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes. Remove from pan to wire rack; carefully remove parchment or waxed paper. Cool completely. 4. Cut cake into small pieces, each about 2x1-3/4 inches. (Cake will be easier to cut if frozen for several hours or up to several days.) Place on cooling rack. Prepare COCOA GLAZE. Spoon over top of each piece of cake, allowing glaze to run down sides. Allow glaze to set. Garnish with monogram, using decorating icing. Place in foil cup, if desired. About 24 mini cakes. COCOA GLAZE: Bring 1/2 cup water and 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter to boil in small saucepan. Stir in 1/2 cup Hershey’s Cocoa. Remove from heat; cool slightly. Gradually add 3 cups powdered sugar, stirring with whisk until smooth. Stir in 2 tea­spoons vanilla extract. About 1-1/2 cups glaze.

Easy Cinnamon Chips Brunch Crescents

2 cans (8 ounces each) refrigerated quick

crescent dinner rolls 2 tablespoons butter or margarine, melted 1-2/3 cups (10-ounce package) Hershey’s Cinnamon Chips, divided CINNAMON CHIPS DRIZZLE (recipe follows) 1. Heat oven to 375°F. Unroll dough; separate into 16 triangles. 2. Spread melted butter on each triangle. Sprinkle 1 cup cinna­mon chips evenly over triangles; gently press chips into dough. Roll from shortest side of triangle to opposite point. Place, point side down, on ungreased cookie sheet; curve into crescent shape. 3. Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until golden brown. Drizzle with Cinnamon Chips Drizzle. Serve warm. 16 crescents. CINNAMON CHIPS DRIZZLE: Place remaining 2/3 cup chips and 1-1/2 teaspoons shortening (do not use butter, margarine, spread or oil) in small microwave-safe bowl. Microwave at HIGH (100%) 1 minute; stir until chips are melted and mixture is smooth.

Wedding | 43

Chocolate Almond Wedding Celebration Cake You will need to triple this recipe to complete Wedding Celebration Cake. CHOCOLATE ALMOND CAKE: 2-1/2 cups (5 sticks) butter or margarine, softened 3 cups sugar 8 eggs 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour 1-1/2 cups finely ground blanched almonds 3/4 cup Hershey’s Cocoa 2-1/4 teaspoons baking powder 2/3 cup milk 2 teaspoons almond extract CREAMY BUTTERCREAM FROSTING (recipe follows) 1. Prepare CHOCOLATE ALMOND CAKE. Heat oven to 325°F. Grease and flour one 12 x 2-inch and one 6 x 2-inch round baking pan. 2. Beat butter and sugar in large bowl of heavy duty mixer until fluffy. Gradually add eggs, beating until well blended. 3. Stir together flour, almonds, cocoa and baking powder. Alternately add with milk to egg mix­ture; beat until well blended. Add almond extract; continue beating until fluffy. Spoon 2 cups batter into prepared 6-inch pan; spoon remaining batter into prepared 12-inch pan. 4. Bake 45 to 55 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in each cake comes out clean and cakes begin to pull from sides of pans. Cool 15 min­utes; remove from pans to wire racks. Cool completely. 5. Repeat steps 1, 2, 3 and 4 for second layer of 12 and 6-inch cakes. 6. Grease and flour three 9-inch round baking pans. Repeat steps 2 and 3,

but divide batter evenly into prepared 9-inch pans. 7. Bake 35 to 40 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in each cake comes out clean and cakes begin to pull from sides of pans. Cool 15 min­utes; remove from pans to wire racks. Cool completely. (You will have an extra layer to freeze for another use.) 8. Prepare 3 recipes of CREAMY BUTTER­CREAM FROSTING. CREAMY BUTTERCREAM FROSTING: Beat 1 cup (2 sticks) butter or margarine, 1 cup shortening and 2 teaspoons vanilla or almond extract in large bowl of heavy duty mixer until blended. Gradually add 7-1/2 cups powdered sugar alternating with 1/4 cup milk until well blended. Gradually beat in 1/4 cup light corn syrup; beat on high speed until fluffy. If neces­sary, add additional corn syrup, one teaspoon at a time, until you get the consistency you like. About 6 cups frosting. To assemble: 1. Prepare a cake board or use large serving platter. Place bottom layer of each tier on a cake circle or foil-covered cardboard piece cut to fit; secure each cake to a circle with a few strokes of frosting. 2. Fill and frost 2 layers for each tier. You will now have 3 frosted two-layer cakes: 12, 9 and 6 inches. 3. Place frosted 12-inch tier on cake board securing with a few strokes of frosting. Gently press 8-inch plate or circle into top of 12-inch tier to imprint circle; remove. Cut seven 3-3/4-inch lengths from a 1/4-inch diameter wooden dowel rod. Spacing evenly within circle guide, push rods down in cake to the base. 4. Place frosted 9-inch cake tier on base cake tier; top with frosted 6-inch cake. Decorate cake as desired. About 90 serv­ings without top tier.

Candle Ring Centerpiece

Clockwise from left: Easy Cinnamon Chips Brunch Crescents, Tuxedo Brownie Hugs and Monogrammed Mini Chocolate Cakes

Tuxedo Brownie Hugs Cookies

60 Hershey’s Hugs Chocolates 1 package (1 pound 6.5 ounces) original supreme brownie mix with syrup pouch 1/4 cup Hershey’s Cocoa 1/4 cup water 1/4 cup vegetable oil 2 eggs 1. Remove wrappers from Hugs Chocolates. Heat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour cookie sheet or line with parchment paper. 2. Stir brownie mix, pouch of syrup, cocoa, water, oil and eggs in medium bowl until well blended. Drop by scant teaspoons onto prepared cookie sheet. 3. Bake 8 minutes or until set. Cool 1 to 2 minutes. Press a Hugs Chocolate into center of each cookie. Remove from cookie sheet to wire rack. Cool completely. About 5 dozen cookies.

Candle Ring Centerpiece

Completed craft is for decorative purposes only and should not be eaten. Materials Needed: n 15 each Hershey Kisses Chocolates and Kisses With Almonds Chocolates n Low temperature hot glue gun n Floral wire n Clear cellophane wrap n 1 package white silk rose leaves, approximately 1-1/4 inches long n 3 yards 1/4-inch silver wired ribbon, cut into six 6-inch pieces, curled n 1 bunch baby’s breath n 1/4 yard silver sheer fabric n 1 small bag plastic pearl beads n White pillar candle (8-inch height, 3-inch diameter) Directions: Using the Kisses Rosette directions, pre­pare 15 Kisses Rosette Decorations using both silver and gold Kisses. Create three clusters of two rosettes each and three clus­ters of three rosettes each; tie each together with one white leaf and curled silver ribbon. Insert baby’s breath into each. Cut fabric 12 inches wide by 20 inches long and roll length­ wise to form 20-inch long tube. To secure ends, tie with small length of ribbon to form a ring. Tie silver-wired ribbons around ring approxi­mately 4 inches apart. Attach rosette clusters at each tied sec­tion. Glue pearl beads to out­ side of candle. Insert candle into fabric ring.

For more recipes and craft ideas, visit or

44 | Wedding

Say ‘I don’t’ to w

Photo courtesy of Family Features

Wedding | 45

wedding stress FAMILY FEATURES Stomach aches, headaches, sleep problems, poor concentration, moodiness, irritability, racing thoughts...Getting married is supposed to be a happy time, right? So why are so many brides-to-be completely stressed out? Having to take care of endless details, manage vendors, handle family demands and meet the emotional needs of the groom — and fitting it all into an already busy schedule — can turn any sweet-natured woman into either a blubbering mess or the dreaded bridezilla. Fortunately, it doesn’t have to be that way. Wedding consultants and planning experts agree that there are some ways to manage the stress and make the planning process more enjoyable for everyone involved. Expect stress. If you accept the fact that this is a stressful time, you can let go of guilt about it and take some precautionary measures to deal with it. Talk with your fiancÈ and a close friend about helping you chill out when things get too tense. Come up with a non-judgmental code word they can say to let you know it’s time for a break. When you hear the code word, stop, take a deep breath and then set the planning aside for a while and do something nonwedding related. Be realistic. A lot of brides set their expectations so high that they drive themselves (and everyone around them) crazy trying to meet them. But unless you have unlimited access to money, you’re going to have to adjust some of your plans. There are a lot of resources (Web sites, books, magazines, friends) that can help you pull off a lovely wedding on whatever budget you have. Don’t try to please everyone. It’s just not possible. Nor is

it reasonable to try. The wedding is about the bride and groom. You two need to decide what is meaningful to you and what will express who you are. If his mother wants Cousin Jennie to play her bagpipe as you march down the aisle and you don’t care for the idea, it’s ok to say no. Come up with a polite response such as, “Thanks for your suggestion, but we’re going in a different direction with the plans.” Feelings may get bruised, but ultimately it’s your day and it only has to please you and your fiance. Delegate, delegate, delegate. No matter how capable you are, no matter how nifty your organizer is, you can’t do everything by yourself. Nor should you, so stop feeling guilty. It’s ok to ask friends, family and the groom for help - as long as you do it nicely. Some churches or reception halls have a wedding coordinator available to help with details. They’ve done this hundreds of times - you haven’t. Use them! Take care of yourself. It’s always important to eat right, get enough sleep and exercise, but it’s especially important during times of stress. You’ll feel more energized, you’ll be able to think more clearly and make better decisions. Besides, who wants to see a bride with dark circles under her eyes drag herself down the aisle? Keep things in perspective. The most important thing to remember is that the wedding is only a one-day event. It’s just a party to celebrate the beginning of a life together. Too many brides feel enormous pressure to make the wedding perfect and they forget about building a solid marriage. Don’t lose yourself in the details of this one day. You have a lifetime of new memories to create, this is only one of them. nnnn

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so i stayed in the darkness with you

by Angie Barry

Everything was darkness. She was confused, and she was frightened. Where was her mother? She had been only an arm’s-length away. Hadn’t she seen the ground split beneath her daughter’s feet, seen her fall into this pit of cloying shadows and unfamiliar blackness? Her body ached from the fall, her thoughts had scattered like petals in a wind, and she clutched at her dress, desperate to touch anything familiar. It was as if she’d been blinded in the rush of heat and earth—she could make out nothing in the deep shadows around her, shadows that seemed to breathe and move like living creatures. All she knew was that this was not home. She wanted to see the sun and feel the grass again, and she wanted her mother so badly tears were stinging at her eyes. There was a quiet sound behind her, the whisper of cloth against stone. She turned sharply and stared into the pitch, willing herself to see something—anything—before her imagination could go wild with horrific fancies. “Is there someone there?” she demanded. “You’re a pretty little thing,” a husky voice said from the darkness, startling her. It was much closer than she had expected, practically against her ear, and she flinched away immediately. “Much prettier up close.”

Fiction | 47 “Who are you? What is this place?” Her voice shook almost as badly as her body, and in a rush she wished she could manage more of her mother’s hauteur and self-possession. He studied her in silence for a moment, admiring the fall of red curls over her shoulders, the bright blue of her fearful eyes, the gentle curves barely concealed beneath her pale green dress. She was soft and white and fresh—just looking at her made him ache. “You don’t know who I am?” he demanded, stepping closer. She could not see him in the gloom, her eyes too accustomed to the natural light of the living world, but she felt him near. Immediately she stepped backwards, stumbling slightly over her sandals until her back was flush against the rocky wall. “Have they forgotten me entirely on Olympus?” “…Hades?” she whispered, eyes widening in shock. She remembered him, oh yes—those sharp, fierce eyes, the handsome angular face always dark with anger, the coal black hair and large hands. She remembered the way he had raged at Zeus and Poseidon, the battles between them that shook the halls of Olympus and echoed down to the mortal world. And she remembered the day he was banished, the moment his ploy for the throne failed and he was exiled to the realm of the dead. She remembered the bitter, burning expression on his face as he left. They had never spoken to each other. Her mother had warned her to keep away from him—Demeter thought him dangerous and cruel and ill-tempered. Every glimpse Persephone had ever stolen of him had been from behind pillars, from afar, and every glimpse had only confirmed her mother’s opinion. Hades had frightened her. Something in his eyes and face had given her shivers of unease. And now she was standing before him, utterly as his mercy… “Very good, Persephone. Do you now know where you are, or must I explain it?” “But, I can’t be—how could you?” she said, breath catching painfully in her throat, the tears hot against her cheeks. “Please, let me go.” “Let you go?” He laughed. “But I’ve only just caught you. Where would be the fun in that?” “Why?” she demanded. “Why? Why would I do such a thing to poor, innocent Persephone? Why does any hunter track a hart? Why does any man pursue a beautiful woman?” He stepped even closer. The fold of his robes brushed against her arm. She tried to breathe. “Because I can,” he murmured, inches from her face. “And because I wanted to.” “My mother—” “Cannot touch me,” he interrupted sharply. “She has no dominion over me or my world. She cannot enter here—none of them can, save for Hermes, and if you believe Hermes could save you…” he laughed. “Let him try.” “She will go to Zeus,” she said with a flash of defiance, an unfamiliar fire of anger flaring to life in her breast. “Even you won’t defy Zeus.” “Precious, naïve little girl,” Hades said. “I would defy him with my every breath. My brother made a grave mistake when he exiled me to this realm—he gave me a power not even he can touch, a world of my own to influence. I have far more devotees and subjects here than Zeus can boast on Olympus. I have a power he could never fathom.” “There isn’t any power in death,” Persephone said. “We can only take strength from the living.” “That’s true—for you, perhaps,” he said smoothly. “But I think you will come to see the strength of death, girl. In time.” He could take her right there, satisfy the hunger that had been growing inside of him since the first moment he began to watch her. It would hardly be difficult. She would put up no struggle—at least not by his standards. And afterwards, well, she could hardly return to her mother then… But that would be far too easy. There was no challenge in ravishing Persephone here. He wanted her— badly enough to snatch her from Demeter’s side and risk the wrath of those above on Olympus—but it wasn’t that simple. He wanted her to stay, to rule beside him, and a willing captive had more charm than one that despised him. Besides, he thought to himself as he admired the spark in her eyes, the soft waves of ginger-hued hair, the porcelain-smooth and equally pale skin—it would be so much fun to corrupt this innocent beauty. A dark blue light flared suddenly, dazzling her and casting glittering after-images. She raised a hand to shield her eyes until the black candle in his hand came into focus. Slowly her eyes traveled up his arm and over the broad shoulder, finally coming to rest on the same dark, sharp face she remembered. He was smiling at her, but there was nothing friendly or reassuring about his smile. There was far too much of the lean and hungry wolf to it, the predatory grin of an animal about to strike. She felt every nerve in her body screaming for escape and realized that if he was the wolf, she was the lamb. “Come with me,” he ordered, turning towards a huge doorway. “If I refuse?” she demanded, hoping this uncommon streak of defiance would not desert her. He didn’t reply, at least not with words—suddenly his arm was around her waist. Before she could react,

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even with a scream, he had thrown her roughly over his shoulder and started down the dark hall. “Put me down!” she shrieked, punching ineffectively at his back. “Scream like that again,” he warned brusquely. “And I’ll gag you.” “I may not be anything to you,” she cried. “But I am still a goddess!” “And I offered you the simplest option,” he said unapologetically. “You did not take it. Thus, we do this my way.” “Where are we going? Tell me!” “To your quarters, milady. What you shall be calling home in the future.” A cold wave seemed to wash over her. “You can’t be serious. You can’t mean to keep me here forever.” He stopped short. Persephone found herself back on her feet, unable to avoid meeting his eyes as he leaned in close. “You will leave if and when I allow it,” he said harshly. “I am your Lord now, not Zeus. You are here at my pleasure. Do not forget this.” She swallowed nervously and broke the gaze with an effort. “You’ll be joining me for dinner. That is not a question. Do not make me come and fetch you.” nono Her chambers reminded her of a mausoleum. Cold, harsh marble everywhere, a large bed encircled in velvet drapes that would only be suffocating and claustrophobic when pulled tight, the rest of the furniture highly polished and of dark ebony heartwood. There was a somber and grave quality to the sparse furnishings, and a palpable chill in the air. Standing in this strange, dreary place, Persephone wanted simply to cry. She wanted to hide in some dark corner—of which there were many—and sob until her chest ached and her eyes were dry and smarting. She wanted to give full vent to the confusion and fear and bewilderment she was feeling. But that would do her little good. It would only exhaust her, and she needed what little strength she had to call upon if she was going to survive all of this. She had to straighten her back and steady her nerves and prove that arrogant, unfeeling Hades wrong. Somehow, she knew that he saw her as nothing more than a naïve and emotional girl, a mere plaything to toy with, prone to hysterics and fainting. She wouldn’t give him the satisfaction of being right, and she would not allow this dreadful place to lessen her. She was Persephone, and her mother was Demeter, and she was stronger than him. He had only this world of shades and emptiness to rule; without her the world above would be in chaos. Persephone took a deep breath. Threw back her shoulders. Stared at her pale reflection in the dark mirror. “I can do this,” she said. nono It was easy enough to find her way to the dining hall—a line of lit torches, blazing with an unearthly blue flame, led her down the appropriate hall, flickering into and out of life as she passed. There were no windows, no sign that this palace of marble and stone was surrounded by an outside world. She both wanted to know what lay beyond and feared to see it—she had always pictured the Land of the Dead as a colorless, horrible place full of desolation and tears. But, she reasoned to herself as she walked on, there were the Elysian fields and islands—this place could not be entirely without happiness or light. Her determination quailed somewhat when she finally stepped into the dining hall, so full of echoes and shadows. A long table was laid out with all manner of gilt plates and silver platters piled high with breads and meats and fruits. There was a throne-like high-backed chair at the head of this elaborate table, and at its right hand was another, slightly smaller chair. Hades had already sat down to his repast, and looked up with heavy lidded eyes as she crept in mouselike. “How good of you to join me,” he said dryly, standing sharply with a startling bang of his chair. He pulled hers out with an exaggerated bow of courtly aplomb. “Milady.” She took a breath and lifted her head before crossing the room and sitting down, stiff backed and staring straight ahead. “No need to be so icy,” Hades said with a condescending chuckle. “You shouldn’t play the aloof princess—that’s more Aphrodite’s mask. It doesn’t suit you at all.” “You expect me to be all smiles and gaiety?” she demanded, jaw tightening. “After you kidnap me and tell me I’m to be your prisoner? Apologies, but I don’t feel much like laughing right now. Not in this hor-

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rible place.” “Horrible?” he echoed, lifting a quizzical eyebrow. “What’s so horrible about my palace? How is it not to your tastes?” “It’s cold and dreary and colorless,” Persephone said. “Full of echoes and shadows and nothing else. There’s no life here, no energy, no warmth.” “You demand quite a lot, to expect ‘life’ and ‘warmth’ from the Kingdom of the Dead,” Hades said. “Those are qualities that can never exist here.” “Then what will happen to me?” Persephone asked sharply. “I cannot live without growing things and sunlight and the energy of life. If you keep me down here, I’ll fade away into just another echoing shadow. Would that make you happy?” “Nothing of the sort will happen,” he said dismissively with a wave of his hand. “You will grow accustomed to life here.” “Surrounded by the dead? I’d rather not,” she said obstinately. “You don’t have a say in the matter,” he said harshly, setting down his silver goblet with a clatter. “Now eat.” She glanced down the table, eyes roving over soup tureens and baskets of yellow rolls and steaming slices of ham atop ornate platters. She was very hungry, and perhaps a meal would fortify her spirits… But no, she would eat nothing of this world. She remembered the warnings her relatives had given to questing heroes—to eat the food of the dead would forever trap you with them. Immortal goddess or not, she could not afford to risk it. “I am not hungry at the moment,” she said primly. “Even we need to eat,” Hades said after a moment spent studying her intently. “You will begin to fade away if you don’t eat.” “Now I’m to believe that you’re concerned for me?” Persephone said. “As if you have my best interests in mind?” “What good would you be to me if you were nothing but a shade?” Hades countered, that wicked and wolfish smile reappearing and sending an unusual shiver across her skin. Persephone looked away, hands tightening around the fabric of her dress. “Come now, Persephone,” he said a moment later, sopping up the sauce on his plate with a hunk of crusty bread. His tone was pleasant enough, almost conversational. “Try to look at this with a more cheerful perspective. The others up there—” his features darkened momentarily with a scowl before his forced cheerfulness reasserted itself. “May think very little of me, but I’m quite powerful. I rule over an immense kingdom. Many a woman would envy your position, and my attention. I could have any woman, dryad, or nymph that I wanted—and I chose you. Aren’t you flattered?” She hesitated, because through the fear and the unease she realized she <i>was</i>, in a strange and frightening way. Was it because, all those years ago, when she peered at him from behind pillars and trees, she had always felt a stirring of pity for him? Pity, and a strange longing, for Hades was handsome, and something in his darkness called out to the light in her—as magnets yearn for their distant poles. “Why didn’t you?” she asked hesitantly. “…Find a woman like that? One who would immediately say yes to you?” “Why would I want one of them when I could have you?” he said, without the slightest hint of sarcasm. “The most beautiful woman I’ve ever seen.” A smile crept across his face. “How sweet—you’re blushing. Not used to getting such compliments from men?” “No,” she said simply and honestly. “No, I suppose you wouldn’t—not with that overbearing mother of yours. Tell me: has she ever let you go anywhere by yourself? Speak to anyone without her at your elbow?” “My mother loves me,” Persephone said. “She has only ever had my best interests at heart.” “You’re a grown woman now, Persephone—time to do what you want, not what your dear old mother tells you to want.” “What I want to do is go home,” she said as firmly as she could manage. “Couldn’t this be your home?” he countered. “If it truly repulses you, I could redecorate.” “No,” Persephone said, with a tinge of sadness. “I could never stay here. I couldn’t live without life and plants and my mother. I’m sorry, Hades.” He moved so quickly, she hardly had time to catch her breath before he was leaning over her, hands tight around her forearms and face inches from hers. “I could take you, whenever I wanted,” he murmured. “I could make you mine. The others could do nothing about it—you would be my wife, and this would be your kingdom. I could have you right now.”

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“Please, don’t,” she whispered, tears in her eyes. “Why not?” he demanded silkily. “I don’t want to hate you,” she replied quietly, gasping in an inaudible breath. He released her suddenly, as if burned, and stepped back with an indefinable expression. She tried to meet his eyes steadily, to prove that she wasn’t going to be intimidated or frightened, but looked down almost immediately. No matter how much she wished it, she would never have the courage or Artemis or the determination of Athena. She was only Persephone… “I apologize,” he said quietly, his voice husky. “That was cruel of me.” “…Apology accepted. May I be excused to my room?” He nodded sharply, then sighed. “You needn’t ask for my permission, like a scolded child. I was sincere when I said this could be your home—go wherever you wish.” That night was not an easy one. She spent it tossing in her huge bed, plagued by the unfamiliar surroundings and the dull edges of her fear and the image of his dark face so close to hers, eyes flashing with a hungry fire desperate to consume her. nono The next morning she found a contrite and respectful Hades waiting at the table, the plates before their chairs laden with fruits and rolls drizzled with honey. “Did you sleep well?” “Yes, thank you,” she lied politely, brushing a strand of hair behind her ear. He stared at her, as if transfixed, until she cleared her throat slightly. “I thought I’d show you around the palace today—give you the grand tour, as it were,” he suggested, biting into an apple with a loud crunch. “If you wish.” “…Will you eat something?” “No thank you.” “Starving yourself won’t do any good,” he said. “A hunger protest won’t make me send you back to Olympus.” She said nothing, and stared straight ahead. “Persephone. Please.” “You’re asking me to forsake everything I’ve ever known or loved.” “I’m asking you to eat something.” “And be trapped here forever? I may be silly, and naïve, and a child still, but I’m not a complete idiot. I know the rules of the Underworld,” she replied readily. “Fine,” he said with resignation. “Starve yourself. But I—” He stopped himself, before pushing back his chair and standing, offering his arm. “This may seem a dark and dreadful place to you, but it still has its grandeur, and small beauties.’ They walked the long, chill halls in a strange silence—on her part, it was a mixture of unease and nervousness, and on his it was the silence of thought. Hades glanced over at her often, half-wishing she would turn and her periwinkle-hued eyes would meet his. It was strange, how one evening, one moment of confrontation, could make him look at her in a different light. She had always been a paragon of fresh and innocent beauty in his eyes—something fair and unapproachable, always to be admired from afar. When he had dared to grab her, to have her within his arm’s reach, he had been too flushed with success and desire to see beyond his previous image of her: she was still a prized object, something to be enjoyed and set upon his throne, a very pretty ornament to brighten up his dark and dreary kingdom. And then he had put his hands on her, had made explicitly clear his wishes and desires, and she had not shrunk away from him completely—no, she had looked at him with tears that were not entirely for herself, and when she had pleaded with him it had not been for her purity. I don’t want to hate you. She pitied him as much as she feared him, and in that moment he fully saw her as a true goddess and woman, his superior in many ways, and he had faltered slightly. He had no skill for apology and little understanding of forgiveness. He had been born harsh and unrelenting and centuries of fighting with Zeus and Poseidon, those elder brothers so blessed and favored by the others, had only served to harden him further. He was beginning to see, though, that Persephone required a softer touch, a certain sweetness of temper that he had never cultivated. She demanded it without ever saying so much as a word. Her every movement, graceful and gentle, reproached him for his brute and callous

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strength. For the first time in thousands of years, Hades knew the bitter burn of repentance. Persephone had spent the sleepless hours of the night—when she had been able to push aside the hot image of Hades—steeling her heart. She knew he would try to impress her with his kingdom, try to sway her into finding something beautiful and worth loving in this land of the dead. She thought of the green fields she loved, the scent of wildflowers, the feel of summer rain against her skin. With these memories fresh in her mind’s eye, she looked at the grand rooms and artwork, and tried desperately to find them all wanting in comparison. She was grateful when he’d closed the final door and her heart was still unmoved—nothing in this great palace of his had touched her. “You find my taste in décor still lacking,” he said blandly, without a hint of disappointment or reprove. “Your house is a fine one,” she said. “But not to my liking.” “I have never had a delicate eye for art and furnishings,” he conceded. “But this empty place is not the extent of my domain. Perhaps you would be moved by my subjects?” And before she could voice a protest or pull away, he’d taken her arm and drawn her through the immense and cavernous entrance, the heavy and iron-braced double doors swinging open ponderously as if by the hands of invisible servants. Eyes wide and stinging, Persephone looked fully upon the Land of the Dead for the first time. The five great rivers of the Underworld met before the hulking palace, drawing together before a wide and cobwebbed pier. The large ferries, drawing in the newest immigrants, creaked ponderously on the water. Their occupants were silent and still, the only sounds that of the creaking wooden hulls and dull splashes of water as each of the ferrymen punted inexorably forwards. The new arrivals stood shoulder-to-shoulder on the vast decks of the ferries, packed in close like cattle, and gave no sign of awareness. Gathered along the banks of the rivers, stretching off into infinity, were similarly silent shades. Pale, ghostly, and human-shaped but with faces almost blank and undefined, their movements were stilted and lethargic, as if they were slowly forgetting the usage of their limbs. And everywhere was smoke and fog, the cloying and oppressive scents of lilies and dust and the stale air of forgotten places. Persephone’s breath hung suspended before her, a foreign intruder in this land where nothing breathed and there was no longer any warmth for such condensation. “My kingdom,” Hades said, with a strange mixture of pride and bitterness. “This is what was left to me by my loving brothers. While they enjoy grand sacrifices and holy days full of laughter and wine, I remain here. Where speech has been forgotten and my subjects cannot be touched, made of little more than smoke given shape. Nothing could live here that is not immortal like us—not even honest flame.” He gestured sharply at the torches that lined the pier, flickering with the same eerie blue light that lit the rooms of the palace. “Zeus would not allow it. I am to have nothing of the world above to comfort me here, in my exile. Even the food at my table is only half-real—just enough to keep my strength and power, but no more. Not enough to allow me to return to a world of sunlight and summer breezes. I am trapped here just as much as they,” he said with a wave at his silent subjects. “Can you fault me for snatching you when I could? You, who are beautiful and vibrant and have a clear voice and eyes that can still see?” Persephone covered her face with her hands and tried to muffle the sobs that gripped her. Never in any of her nightmares could she have imagined such a hollow and sorrowful place. Her mother had never allowed her to witness death—she had no knowledge of that secret and mortal thing. To be faced with it so suddenly, and in such numbers… She knew that mortals could be good and kind and just, that they could love and act even more nobly and bravely than those of her blood, the immortals who were so often caught up in petty jealousies and bitter rivalries. To see, to <i>know</i>, that for all of their beautiful and brief moments every mortal would become like this and forget all that made them unique and worthy of love… It was almost too much for her heart to bear. “Please,” she whispered, tears shining on her face. “Tell me this is not all there is. Tell me there is something better, for those who have earned it.” Hades stared at her, and she could only stare back, unwilling to look again upon the wretched shades below them. And as she watched, it was as if an unseen hand was smoothing away some of the harsh lines of his face, gently reshaping his features into something more sympathetic and comforting. “The Elysians,” he said quietly, taking her hand with a gentleness than surprised her. “Come.” She had no recollection of walking, or of any great passage of time. Suddenly they were standing on the sandy shore of a small island, and in a rush that almost overwhelmed her she felt sunlight and warmth again. She blinked, dazzled, and almost laughed with relief and joy. There were trees and flowers and tall grasses only feet away, growing with luxurious health, verdant and colorful, swaying in a gentle breeze. All of the gentle sounds of life—running water, distant birdsong, the rustling of small animals in under-

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growth—filled her ears. “This is wonderful!” she cried happily, stepping forward. Hades’ hand slid from hers, and she hesitated, looking back. “This is the Elysian island?” “One of them,” he replied with a short nod of his head. “There are many of them, and to the west is the great Elysian field. This is the paradise all great heroes and artists can expect. Any mortal who lives a valorous and inspiring life will be rewarded here in death.” “But you said nothing could grow here, that there was nothing of the world from above,” Persephone said. “And yet I can see the trees and flowers plainly! I can hear the calls of songbirds.” “Can you?” he asked softly, an indescribable emotion on his face. “Yes, of course I can.” She knelt and plucked a small purple flower, holding it out to him. “I see none of it,” he said, looking at the outstretched hand, unable to see the bloom she offered him. “When I step foot onto Elysian land, I am blind. I can see you, Persephone, but everything else is blackness.” Persephone looked up at him and in that moment felt no fear. He was diminished. No longer the imperious and arrogant Lord of the Underworld, not even Hades of the cruel smile and passionate eyes. He was simply a man, hardened by disappointment and failure and bitterness. He had strived for power and lost, and perhaps the punishment his brothers had meted out had not been entirely even or justified. How much of Hades could have been finer and nobler and better, if he hadn’t been knocked back at every turn, his every desire and ambition thwarted? How much of his anger and cruelty was affected, a protective cloak he had pulled on centuries ago and forgotten how to cast aside? She stood and brushed out the wrinkles of her dress, calmer and more composed than he had ever seen her before. “Wait,” she said, and there was no question that he would do so for as long as she required. Every step, every sensation, she tried to savor. She committed to memory every brush of grass against her ankles and the caress of the warm breeze through her hair. She drank everything in as if dying of thirst, as someone would who knew they would never again experience such delights. When she came to the tree, she stopped. And looked up. It was an incredibly old pomegranate tree, twisted and gnarled and heavy with ripe, red fruit. She reached up with a sure and steady hand, chose only one of the fruits, and plucked it from its branch. There was a call to her left, the distant hail of joyous greeting from someone who was friendly and inviting, and she glanced over her shoulder. A tall and golden young man dressed in white robes, his face flushed with athletic exertion and good spirits, a handsome boy who was no doubt worthy of her company—he could only be one of the valiant fallen, a lost hero come to his final reward in Elysian. But Persephone only smiled and turned away, walking quickly back to the beach and her dark and brooding Lord. nono There was a garden in Hades’ palace, at its very center. It was, like everything else in the Underworld, a dead place. The trees were blackened as if by fire, the ground around their exposed and flaking roots was more ash and clay than honest earth. The few flowers that still clung to skeletal stems were withered and bleached. “There used to be life here, in this one place,” Hades explained as she stepped around the pathetic debris. “It was the one bright spot allowed to me. Then I quarreled with Zeus again, over the soul of one of his mortal ladyloves, and he blighted this place like the rest. Turned it all to cinders and ash.” “What grows in Elysian is just as much of this world as the other, though,” she said firmly, confidently, as much to convince herself as him. “And I may be a minor goddess, but I am still a goddess. Plants listen to me.” She dug into the dry, coarse dirt with her fingers until she had finally scraped away the useless ash. There was still good, damp earth below. He crouched down beside her, offering her his knife as she picked up the dark red fruit. The crimson juice trickled through her fingers, dripping into the small hollow she’d uncovered, glistening more like blood than juice as it fell. “It will grow,” she said, lying aside half of the pomegranate and plucking out a single worthy seed. She pressed it into the hollow, covered it with a small mound of dirt and sat for a moment with her hand pressed down in benediction. “It will grow.” Persephone pulled away her hand and stood, and as Hades looked up at her she began to glow with an inner radiance; it was as if a star had kindled to life within that beautiful and delicate form. In that single moment out of eternity, the unearthly blue light of his world faded away, eclipsed by this sunlit beauty, and

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he could feel the warmth of her against his skin as if she were cradling him in her arms. And then she was smiling down at him, a smile of pure happiness and joy, and it struck his heart like an arrow—the sharp pain robbed him of breath and thought, but when it faded he realized just why she had smiled so. For a small green tendril had unfurled beside him, the first hardy sprout of what would become a healthy and grand tree. She had done something he would have thought impossible. She had defied Zeus, no matter how indirectly, and brought life back into his world. “Why did you do this?” he asked her. They were sitting side by side, watching as the tree literally grew before their eyes, the slender stem thickening into a trunk, the delicate tendrils resolving to become branches. “Because this place deserves to be beautiful again,” she said shyly. “And because it wasn’t fair.” “Wasn’t fair?” “To punish you so. You may have said cruel things in anger, you may have lashed out as Zeus and Poseidon, but you are not evil. You are not like Eris, who hurts for pleasure, or Ares, who hurts because it is a part of him. Everything you’ve become, Hades, is because of their treatment of you.” She looked to him. “I used to watch you, you know. When I was very young. I’d hide behind trees. You were intriguing— Mother said you were harsh and mean-spirited, and that I was never to speak to you. And you did frighten me sometimes. You frightened me often,” she admitted, honest as ever. “But Zeus frightened me, too, just as loud and brash. He could be just as merciless and careless. And now that I’ve seen this world they’ve imprisoned you in, I think I understand you better. I understand a lot of things now.” “I have been cruel to you,” he said heavily, his regret audible. “Spiteful. Vindictive.” “You lashed out because you hurt, and because I was the only one you could strike at,” she said. “You are everything I miss and long for,” he confessed. “True beauty and warmth—sunlight and fresh air. The embodiment of a world I will be forever denied.” “Perhaps not forever,” she said softly. “We cannot afford to speak of nevers; mortals can, perhaps, but not us. Things change. They always change. And who is to say that the next time they change it will not be in your favor?” “My favor? I was not meant to be favored,” Hades said bitterly, his voice sharp with an old pain. “No, not I. The third of a set, always last, always least wanted. Zeus and Poseidon will never let me rise from that position.” “Perhaps there will come a day when their word is not absolute law,” Persephone continued. “Or perhaps there will be a time when they are not so important to you.” “Such blasphemy,” he chuckled. “What would your mother think, if she heard you speak in such a way?” “My mother is not here, and on this matter her opinion is none of my concern,” Persephone said, and the force behind her words surprised him. He studied her, taking in the small and subtle changes. It was in every graceful line of her body; she held herself differently, and there was a new edge of confidence and maturity around her guileless eyes. “You have changed,” he said. “In less than a day, you are different.” “Everything changes,” she said, smiling. “Even us.” Silence settled between them as they turned back to the tree, and for the first time it was a comfortable and easy silence. As the tree grew and the quiet deepened, Hades realized how mistaken he had been. He had coveted and desired Persephone for her beauty, but as they sat there he realized there was another quality he appreciated far more than her lovely face. When she was at peace, it was impossible to not feel soothed and reassured. It was as if she could envelop the world in her grace. Any penitent could find absolution in her presence, and Hades felt all of his transgressions and misdeeds clamor for the release of confession. She was his superior in every way: kind and forgiving when he was too rough, understanding when he was arrogant, sweet when he was bitter. As the first fruit began to darken and swell on the branch, Hades broke the silence with a voice made harsh with regret and sorrow. “I am sorry, Persephone, for the wrong I have done to you.” “There’s no need for you to apologize again—I’ve already forgiven you,” she said. “You forgive far too easily, then,” he said, eyes dark. “You would be flawless but for that.” “Hades, you are too hard on yourself,” she said gently. “Too hard? After stealing you from the world you love, after imprisoning you here and treating you so callously? I have said and intimated unforgivable things—I meant to have you, body and soul, whether you willed it or not. Greedy, selfish, evil—” “Everything you did you were driven to,” she interrupted desperately, reaching out a pale hand to cup his

54 | Fiction cheek. The touch silenced him as her words would not, and he stared at her with a face bared and naked, all of his surprise and wonder clear to see. “You have been mistreated for so long, and were shown no better way to be. You were lonely and afraid and desperate—I forgive you every ill-intention and misdeed. I forgive you, Hades—and you must learn to forgive yourself.” “I am… unworthy,” he whispered hoarsely, lifting a hesitant hand to press against her’s, still cupped at his cheek. “Then change,” she said. “Change for the better. You owe it to yourself.” “I owe it to you,” he said. He drew in a shuddering breath and drew away his hand, pulling away from her touch. “I release you, Persephone. I will call for Hermes, and he will take you home. You can return to your mother and your sun, and be at peace.” He stood, his body stiff and resolute even as the pain gripped him, knowing he would never again be blessed by such light and sweetness. His hands clenched into white-knuckled fists, and he turned to go before she could see the sorrow on his face. “Hades. Wait.” And as before, there was no question but that he would obey her. He froze, still turned away, his broad back a straight and unforgiving line. There was a quiet rustle of leaves, and at the unexpected sound he finally looked over his shoulder. Persephone had pulled a pomegranate from the tree, her face serene and assured. “May I borrow your knife again?” she asked. He offered it wordlessly. She sliced into the fruit, returned the blade, and carefully removed one of the large seeds, the juices trickling down her white hand. He watched as if mesmerized as the seed slipped between her pink lips. “You should not—” he said abruptly, coming back to himself with a jolt. “Shouldn’t I?” she asked with a smile, raising another seed to her lips. When she had swallowed the sixth, she let the fruit fall from her hand. “Why?” he demanded, rougher than he had intended. “Perhaps I’ve found something beautiful here, after all,” she said quietly. “Something that the world above doesn’t have. Perhaps something in this dead world of yours has touched me, Hades. And I’m not ready to say goodbye to it forever.” “Your mother?” he asked. “Everyone has to leave home eventually,” she replied calmly. “And make a new one.” She took his hand in hers and smiled, the breaking of a new dawn, and something loosened within him— the falling away of a great weight. “You want me to stay, don’t you?” she murmured, a girlish blush coloring her cheeks. “Persephone… you undo me,” he whispered. “And remake me. Marry me.” “Yes.” Their lips met, and everything was changed. Persephone was never again the pure innocent to be swayed by her mother’s opinions; Hades would never again unleash a tempestuous outburst to provoke his brothers’ retaliation. And even as they two were reshaped and made anew, the reverberations of this moment would echo into the centuries to come. And so Persephone was proven right: things always change, and there would come a day when the word of Zeus would not be absolute law. But that was all to come, in a future so distant not even the Oracle could yet glimpse it. For now there was a wedding night to be consummated and a divine tree to be tended.

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For Jim... by Ira Potter

Blurred faces and flickering images fill me with an overwhelming sense of urgency to recover fragmented pieces of stolen summers and windowless rooms. Looking for a kid long gone who could always laugh, and comfort a friend on the shoulder of a tear-stained flannel. The outspoken youth with nothing too serious to say, unless it needed to be. He no longer exists, except in the deep recesses of an adult mind with too much on his plate and not enough time to make way for that flannel-clad stoner lookin’ for a good time with friends now spread to the winds. I ache to see him again. But as you grow older and begin your life, you lose that absurd “it will always be like this” notion that you carried on your sleeve like a badge in high school. You begin to care about things you never used to pay the slightest bit of attention to. You trade in your pot for diapers and formula. You trade nights out with friends for nights in with family. Slowly, the life you had slips behind the shadows and sets up residency in your past. Once in a great while I cry for those times I’ll never get back. Please don’t misunderstand. I love the life I have. I thank the powers that be every day for the gift of my wife and children. I chose this path. Only sometimes I’ll hear a song, or see a diner on the side of the road, and that kid walks up to me, offers me a joint, and takes me back to those timeless places. He says, “Why can’t it be like this again?” I don’t have a response to that question, because I don’t know. I guess we all have to grow up. If only I could go back and talk to that carefree soul. I want to tell him to hold on to this time for as long as you can. Remember as much as you can. Breathe it in to your soul and hold it there. Please, take more pictures. Tell everybody how much this time means to you. Because one day you’re going to blink, and it’s all going to be over. You are going to be me. So enjoy it, junior, because the future is a whirlwind. Now the funny thing is, do you know what I’d tell myself? I’d say, “Fuck off, man. I make the rules. I say when it ends.” Years later on a late night in June, I told myself it was done. Put down the pipe and grow up. I cried myself to sleep that night. I wept for immense joy and for deep sadness. I wept for the child that I was, for the man I was going to be. I wept because all that the conflicting emotions churning inside would let me do is weep. And in the morning I woke up and smiled. Because this was the beginning of a new life, with new rules and new memories that I know I’ll cherish. The years have passed and here I am. I’m a wholly different person with similar personality traits. There are some who would say that I haven’t changed at all. I have. It happens to us all. We can’t remain teenagers forever. But I will always remember the kid that I was, so full of life and shit. (Hey, admit it. We’re ALL full of shit when we’re sixteen.) And these words I write in his memory. May you find yourself in my head once in a while to give me a taste of what was, and remind me of who I am. Rest in Peace Jim Potter 1979-2000

O And

Colleen Toliver

Airships f

Metal Men Angie Barry

A Novel

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t was a long time before Anadil was aware of herself again. At first it wasn’t so much awareness as it was light – blinding, painful bursts of light, dancing behind her eyelids. Then, slowly, it was pain, burning in sharp, crisp lines across her flesh. Then at last she felt her body, heavy and smothered, shaking in the midst of the light and the pain. Then, at last, she was awake. She awoke with a soundless cry, more a wheeze than anything that could properly be called a scream. Terror coursed through her, her heart pounding heavily in her ears. She was trapped. There was something all around her — she was drowning. Water. She had been left in water. Her hands scrabbled frantically at the edges of the vessel that contained her. Her head was still above water, but her body – her body would not stay afloat. Her tail thrashed madly, seeking air, seeking freedom. Clawing at the slick metal of the vessel, Anadil tugged herself over the edge and onto the cold ground, sliding free with a loud whump of her elongated body. She lay there on the floor, gasping and shuddering, staring up above her. There were no stars. There were no clouds, and there was no sky. She had been taken somewhere, a human somewhere — and worse still, they had brought her inside. Weakly, Anadil tried to shift — but her arm was burnt, the flesh still tender and painful. There were burns elsewhere, too, and they flared when she tried to move. Her tail – her beautiful, long tail — was flaking away, a sickly grayish color on the cold white floor. Choking on a silent sob, Anadil closed her eyes and tried

to call out. Perhaps if her brethren were near... But no sound came out. Too weak, thought Anadil. Too weak to sing... A sound behind her, and every inch of Anadil was suddenly awake, twitching, afraid. She shoved herself across the floor with what little was left of her strength. Her wet body slid easily across the hard, slick surface. Struggling to rise, Anadil tried to push herself up from the floor, but to no avail; and in moments she found herself staring into the shiny, black surface of a human’s clothed foot. Anadil slowly lifted her head. The human was swathed in something black, split around his strange human legs. A white shirt hung loosely around his chest, cloud-like in its appearance. She met his dark-eyed gaze and flinched back at his frown. He opened his mouth and a stream of sounds emerged, awful and human in their lack of musical cadence. Speech. She had always heard that humans did not sing, but she had never been able to properly imagine what language only spoken sounded like. She blinked and shook her head rapidly, curling in on herself. She brought her tail closer and held it with one arm, shivering. She tried to sing something, to communicate,

but no sounds would emerge. Shivering harder, she raised a hand and motioned to him. Frowning, the human dropped to his knees, leaning close to her. Anadil watched him warily, and when he was close enough her hand leaped forward and pressed to the center of his forehead. She closed her eyes and focused on the last things she remembered. A hundred images flashed from her mind to his in quick succession, a dance of memory and feeling: The airship, erupting in the dark night sky. Anadil’s mother’s face. The cadence of her mother’s call. The face of the human sorcerer, who could bend metal to his will. Falling. The weight of the human in her arms. Burning. Cold. This at last was too much for Anadil. Panting, her head lolled, and the darkness consumed her again – blissful silence returning for a few moments more. non When she awoke this time, Anadil’s whole body was being strangled. She sat up, flailing and gasping, her tail shrinking and splitting into long legs in her panic. She kicked off something soft and heavy – fabric,

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she guessed, of the sort that humans wore – and stumbled off of an equally soft platform, onto the floor. She found herself still trapped inside a dreadful human building, ceilings still above her head. Trying to squeak, to call out, to say something, she tripped over her new feet – rickety and clumsy as they always were when she changed into this strange human form. Spinning and wobbling, she searched the room for an escape and found, at last, a transparent panel in the monotonous dark wall. Emitting a small wheeze, she lunged for it, pressing hard against it until it sprang open and released her out into the night. Anadil was high in the air, far above the ground, but that didn’t much bother her; she was in the perfect room, a place with a floor but no walls and no ceiling to block her in. Gasping, Anadil flopped onto the ground on her back and stared up at the starry sky. Mother, she tried to call. Mother! But there was no answer. The minutes ticked by as Anadil laid on the floor there, staring at the sky. The stars were beautiful, crisp and clear and so very far away. She reached out to touch them, her fingers shaking – and jerked her hand back when she heard a sound. Strong, warm hands soon grasped her beneath her arms. Trying to shriek, Anadil flailed as she was lifted bodily into the air. Kicking and croaking, she flailed violently enough that she was set down again, her legs trembling beneath her. She turned and found herself face to face with the human who had approached her before. Well, it appeared he was amenable to Cloudmaid magic. He had at least taken her from the chamber where she’d been locked before. Throwing herself towards him, she reached up and touched his forehead again, this time reaching deep into his mind. Cloudmaid magic may have been a thing mystical to humans, but it didn’t do as much as they might have hoped. Though Anadil could enter a human mind, what she picked up there was fairly minimal. She could read the occasional

thought, if it was direct towards her, and could touch on a few of the major centers of the mind. Though she’d never done it before, she knew she could pick up a language. Grasping the strange, tongue-twisting words of the man’s language, Anadil withdrew, tripping as she stepped backwards and fell. She dropped to the ground and sat there, panting and pale, gripping the side of her head. The man took a few steps towards her. “Are you — ” Anadil raised a hand, stomach turning as the strange words danced across her eyes. A moment, she said to him, a thought shared between two minds. Just a moment. I — still — the words are shaping. Cannot. Must process. A moment? The man, startled, looked around him, then slowly back at her. But he nodded at last, disturbed though he seemed. “As you ask it.” He folded his legs and sat, directly across from her, and watched. Anadil eyed him warily, but said nothing; and finally she dropped her head and allowed the words to sink in. An hour or more passed before Anadil was at last able to lift her head. Where am I? she asked. The man, who had been staring dreamily towards the stars, started and looked up. “You’ve been brought to my manor,” he said. “My mot — father’s manor. Wolfe Manor, we call it. We found you along the shoreline. We only wanted to keep you safe — to keep you living.” Wearily, Anadil nodded. The words still only made a little sense to her, but she could at least gather the basics. You. Who are you? The man rose to his feet, approaching her cautiously. “Simeon,” he said. “Simeon Wolfe. I’m to be lord of this manor when my father dies. I am here at his request.” He paused. “Do you have a name?” Anadil blinked, eyes sliding towards the stars. Anadil, she said.

“Anadil,” he repeated. “That’s very pretty.” You said it wrong, she said. You can’t say it right if you don’t sing. Simeon paused. “Sing?” Yes, sing, Anadil snapped. It’s the way it’s said. Sung. I can’t... the words... She curled up in a small ball and pressed her hands to her temples. Her head was starting to ache, and the numbness of her experience was wearing off. A thousand questions sprang to mind. How had she gotten here? What did they intend to do with her? What had happened to her sorcerer, who could bend metal to his will? Where was her voice? Anadil lowered her hands to her throat and massaged it gently. She opened her mouth and tried to force out a sound, any sound — but as in the past, nothing would come. Can’t sing, she thought, to Simeon. Why can’t I? Where is my voice? Where has it gone? The male — the male who was, she reminded herself, called Simeon — studied her with eyes warm and melting with pity. Anadil flinched back from that pity, clenching her jaw and glaring at him. How dare he pity her — he, who was a male, who did not have half her talents. “You were in the midst of a fire,” he said, his voice as gentle and serene as his eyes. “I’m afraid you swallowed a great deal of smoke. It’s dam-

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aged your voice — possibly permanently. We can’t be sure, of course, but our best physicians guessed it would be so. It may come back in a few weeks. But if not...” Stricken, Anadil shrank. She pulled her newly transformed legs closer to her body, one hand fluttering around her throat. Gone? she repeated. Gone always? Simeon nodded. “I’m so sorry.” Anadil’s lip trembled. It cannot — I need it. Bring it back. Bring it back! His eyes were pitying her again, almost overflowing with it. With a silent scream, Anadil turned from him and pounded her fists against the hard floor. How would she ever return to her tribe, without a voice to guide them back to her? Would she never sing again? She tried to croak a note, any note. All that came out was a wispy rasp, half gasp, half wheeze. It was the most awful sound Anadil had ever heard. She buried her face in her hands and hid. She shivered, staring blankly into the dark shadows of her palms, and tried to comprehend it all. She needed her mother. She needed a cheiftainness, a queen mother, a mistress. Where were this male’s leaders? Where had they gone to? Footsteps, light and barely audible, approached. Anadil swallowed, feeling a sharp pain in her throat, and looked up. A figure was standing there in the light — a person so androgynous that for a

moment Anadil struggled to guess at her gender. A moment’s glance perceived the billowing fabric of a human woman’s garments, soft and waving breezily in the night air. The woman had little hair, like Anadil, but hers was a brilliant red against her pale scalp. There was something about the set of her face — cool and commanding — that settled Anadil at once. She stumbled to her feet at once and started towards the woman. Queen mother — she began, her lip trembling as the words began to form. The human woman started as the thought arrived inside her head, but only raised one thin eyebrow. “You can communicate,” she said, her voice lilting and wonderfully musical — not quite like her son’s. It was almost not a human voice. “What a wonderful surprise. Welcome to my home. I am Theodosia, mistress of this manner. Have you a name?” Anadil met Theodosia’s gaze full-on, a sign of respect from woman to woman. I am Anadil of the Aysel, she said. I fell from the stars, from fire. Theodosia smiled. “Poetic,” she said. “You turn a pretty phrase. You are welcome here, Anadil of the Aysel.” There was the slightest accent of human speech to Anadil’s name – but the imitation of the musical tone was quite good. Anadil lowered her head and her eyes in gratitude and sank wearily to the ground. I am so weary... “Of course you are,” Theodosia soothed, taking a few steps closer. In a lower tone, she murmured, “Simeon, how long has she been like this?” “Not long,” Simeon replied. “I think she learned our language through me. I don’t believe she could speak it before. She did not say much to me. Her voice is gone, as the physicians thought, and I believe those burns must pain her — but I don’t think she came from the sea like we thought. She — ” Anadil raised her head sharply. The sea? I am of air. I am of Cloudmaid

kind. I am born of cloud and stars and rain. The sea births cousins of mine — but not me. Theodosia smiled. Her lips were thin and pale, but her smile was soft. “I believe you have your answer, Simeon,” she said. She motioned to Simeon, and he came to stand obediently beside her. “Simeon is my son,” she explained, “And has been your caretaker while you have been here. You must forgive him — when he placed you in that tub of water, he believed you to be a mermaid. We have not heard of your kind before.” Anadil glanced at Simeon, gaze sweeping over him. Almost as quickly she turned back to Theodosia. He was wrong, she growled. Theodosia nodded. “And again, I apologize. He only did what he thought best.” Anadil bit at the inside of her cheek, but finally nodded slightly to Simeon. Business concluded, she took a few more steps towards Theodosia, taking the elder woman’s hands and pressing them to her forehead. Oh cheiftainness, I am lost, she said. My songs are all taken, and the sorcerer who bends the metals has gone away. I only wanted to learn his magic. Is he safe? Is he here? Tell me he survives. Something in Theodosia’s face shifted. There was a hungry set about her mouth, a hardening of her dark eyes. The shift was so sudden that Anadil stepped back, jerking her hands free of the older woman’s. “The sorcerer who bends metal,” Theodosia repeated. “You do not, by chance, mean Mordechai Danvers? The man building many machines?” Anadil wrapped her arms around herself. It was cold, colder than she’d expected. In her Cloudmaid form it was so easy to regulate her temperature, but in

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this human body... Theodosia’s expression shifted again, chameleon-like. She was the Queen-Mother again, soothing and in command. “But you are cold,” she said, holding out her arm. “Come inside, and we will talk.” Anadil stared at the structure before her, eyeing the roof. It was grotesque and dark, a hulking blasphemy against the gorgeous stars. I would remain here, where the sky is present, she said. If I can. Theodosia raised both her eyebrows, but nodded. “Simeon, fetch our guest a blanket,” she ordered. Simeon glanced between the two women, but finally nodded. “I’ll return in a moment. Mother. Anadil.” When he was gone, Theodosia approached and wrapped her arm around Anadil. “Now,” she said. “Tell me everything. Tell me about this sorcerer.” It was so good to have a queenmother again. Anadil leaned into Theodosia, closing her eyes and finally sobbing, soundlessly. Oh mistress, I followed him whenever I could manage, she said, the words humming. He was my chase. How he worked your human magic – I want to work magic like yours. It is so beautiful. It is unlike ours. Our magic is all bodies and temperatures and survival. To bend metal to your will, to see it dance... how he made it dance! The effort of speaking in the new tongue, of transferring her speech to Theodosia, was beginning to exhaust her. I followed him,

she said dully, Until the ship he rode exploded in the night. And then he was falling, and I could not let him crash. His magic would be gone then. I wanted to learn. I left my mother and my sisters and my friends. I held him up and we fell together, and now my voice is gone and so is he. Her lip quivered, her whole body beginning to shake. She dropped her head into her hands and wept, still silent, her face twisted in her palms. Theodosia brought her close and embraced her, like a mother to her daughter. “There, there,” she soothed, touching the short tendrils of Anadil’s hair. “We’ll sort it out. You’ll see. Your sorcerer lives, and we may find him yet. He was here until he ran away. Perhaps we can catch him just for you, and you can learn the magic of the metals, if you like.” Anadil lifted her head, a small smile fluttering uncertainly around her lips. Can you? Will you? Theodosia smiled. It was a thin smile, a pressed smile. “Of course,” she said. “Of course.” At that moment, Simeon returned with a heavy square cloth in his hands, quite long and white. Theodosia stepped back and took it from him, offering it to Anadil. “Here,” she said. “Take this and rest. We will ask more questions of you tomorrow, when you are feeling better.” Anadil stared at the fabric. What am I to do with this? she asked. “It’s a blanket,” Simeon explained. “You cover yourself with it. To stay warm.” Oh. Anadil frowned. Can your skin breathe? Theodosia laughed softly. “We seem to manage,” she said. “Make yourself comfortable, Anadil. Simeon will remain with you to see to all your needs. We will talk again in the morning.” Anadil opened her mouth in protest, reaching for Theodosia — but Theodosia waved her away. “I assure you, you will be quite safe with Simeon,” she said. “Good night, Anadil of the Aysel. We will have grand talks tomorrow, I am sure.”

Did you miss Chapters One and Two? No need to worry — you can still read them in past issues. Check out our archives for all past issues at Click the Archives tab for free total access.

Dismissed, Anadil stepped back, head bowed. When she lifted her head again, Theodosia was disappearing through the door inside, and Simeon was still there, watching her intently. “Are you alright to sleep here tonight?” he asked. Anadil looked up at the stars. I would like to rest my head somewhere. Simeon nodded. “I’ll fetch you a pillow,” he said. A what? Simeon frowned. “It’s a squareish thing filled with feathers. Meant to be a fluffy resting place for your head.” Anadil wrinkled her nose. No, she said. Feathers are for birds. In my colony we land in fields and lay upon each other. She brightened. Lie upon the ground with me and you can be my... pillow? Is that what you call it? Simeon, for no reason that Anadil could fathom, turned pale. “Are... are you certain that’s an entirely wise idea?” he asked. “I really think — ” The cloudmaid shook her head and motioned with a regal snap of her wrist. No. Fabric is no good. Another body is best. You can share my blanket, if that is what worries you. He stood frozen for a moment. Finally he shrugged, sighed, and settled on the ground, lying on his back. Anadil smiled and approached, lying beside him and settling her head on his stomach. There, she mumbled, thoughts already blurring with exhaustion. This is how it is done in my colony. You are very comfortable. “Erm... thank you?” said Simeon. He said something else, but Anadil was not awake enough to understand it; and moments later she was not awake at all. n OF AIRSHIPS AND METAL MEN is a serial novel that will appear in installments in every issue of Outlet Magazine. Authors Angie Barry and Colleen Toliver are senior staff writers of Outlet Magazine. This installment was written by Colleen Toliver.


Miss Informed | 61


You have questions. She has answers. An advice column for creative people.


Do writers and artists need college?

DEAR MISS INFORMED: I want to be a novelist but can’t afford college. I don’t think writers and artists even need college. My teachers and mom still think I should go. What do you think? — In Doubt DEAR IN DOUBT: Ah, the question of talent versus education. We’ve certainly heard this one before and will no doubt hear it again. College is expensive, but it has its worth. Creative writing professors have connections in the publishing world who can give you a leg up in beginning your publishing history. Many campuses have literary magazines that publish student work, and some college newspapers devote space to poetry or short fiction. Some writers break into the publishing scene without college writing courses. What you should realize is many still put money into their writing education. Instead of college courses, they attend workshops and conferences. These are costly, but not nearly as expensive as a two- or four-year college education. Here is my caution: Don’t assume you will make your living off of writing. Very few writers hit the best seller list and rake in millions with their early novels. The J.K. Rowlings of the world are the exception, not the rule. Be sure to find a career that will pay the bills while still allowing time for writing on the side. The plus side of college is that it opens up new opportunities for students. You may discover a career in news writing and use your journalism degree for full-time work while you pen novels in your free time. If you enjoy creative projects,

marketing or public relations teams might be a route to pursue. The real question here is, what do you want your day job to be? If you can make a living off retail work and are happy doing it, then skip college and spend your spare hours writing. If you need a satisfying day job that lets you express your creative self, two years at a community college or four years at a university might not be a bad idea. In the meantime, look into some writing conferences and workshops. Many inexpensive Webinars also are available online and can hone your craft as a writer. The plus side of Webinars is that they can be taken in the comfort of your home. No matter what route you pursue, I highly recommend constant pursuit of learning through writers magazines (we highly recommend Writer’s Digest), Webinars, workshops, conferences and even individual college courses. If money is the issue, look into the least expensive methods and capitalize off what you can learn. DEAR MISS INFORMED: How important is it to promote myself with social media? — Out of Touch With Tech DEAR OUT OF TOUCH: The simple answer: Very. The extended answer: You still have the luxury of being at a generational crossroads. Many

older individuals dabble in two types of media: traditional and new. Those people will still access what you’re promoting via print and television promtional platforms. However, many members of those generations also are accessing social media. Yes, there are plenty of grandparents on Facebook these days. The real question is, what are you promoting? A debut novel? A design business? Artwork for sale? Or just yourself as a creative person? All of these have different methods for promotion. Even so, social media is ingrained in the lives of the Millennial generation. Websites like Facebook allow you to reach millions of people instantaneously, and news spreads quickly via these sites. If you have a promotional page on Facebook, the growth can be exponential. Your friend “likes” your page. Then three of her friends “like” it; then each of those friends have three more “like” it; and so on. People like following what others are doing and what others are interested in — this can work to your advantage if you build a social media platform. Can you survive without social media marketing? Sure. But you limit your reach. Sometimes, that’s a good thing. If you’re hand-crafting hairbows and can’t fulfill hundreds of orders a day, keeping a low profile and only advertising locally is to your advantage. If, however, you’re trying to sell a novel and want to generate a widespread fan base, social media can only help your cause. n DO YOU WANT to send a question to Miss Informed? Visit and click the tab for Miss Informed. Fill out the available text box and click submit. Questions may be submitted anonymously. Miss Informed questions are answered by members of the Outlet Magazine staff.

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Outlet Magazine Issue 3  

Vol. 1, Issue 3

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