by the Students and Alumni of Palm Beach Atlantic University
If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.
Thank you School of Arts and Sciences • English Department • Art Department • Development Office
William M. B. Fleming, Jr. • Dr. Joseph Kloba • Dr. Barton Starr • Dr. Jenifer Elmore • Dr. Susan Jones • Becky Peeling • Danielle Havens
FOUNDER AND FACULTY ADVISOR Professor David Athey • GRAPHIC DESIGN ADVISOR Professor David Pounds • SENIOR EDITOR Christopher Jensen • MANAGING EDITOR Kelsey Satalino • EDITOR Chelsea Hartson • ASSOCIATE EDITORS Caitlyn Girardi Olivia Anderson Tay Mazzola • ASSISTANT EDITORS Hannah Dempsey Katie Witham Andrew de Carion • Cover art Abbie Ege
Help support Living Waters. Contact Professor David Athey, 561-803-2259, in the English Department.
Living Waters Review
Table of Contents
9 10 11 12 15 16 17 20 21 22 28 29
30 32 33 34 35 36
Lazarus Kyra Speegle
I Want to Fly David Bley
Silent Poetry Brandon McGuire
Don’t Leave David Bley
Crooked Roads Katie Witham
I Remember All My Life Brandon McGuire
The Dirt You Don’t Mind Lindsay Matz And Out of the Ashes Rise Gyasi Byng
A Petition For More Color
The Baths of All The Western Stars Christopher Jensen
Stephanie Rose Allen
Ink Blot Whale Caitlyn Girardi
Red Octopus Alicia Stamm
Santa Maria Noah Thaman
The Gulf Is Not For Lovers James A. Carter III
Lantana Mansion and Mystery Theatre Andrew de Carion
41 42 43
Digital Self-Portrait Alicia Stamm
Wide-Brimmed Beauty Erin Welsh
Idelon Justice Hansen, John Humphrey, Jonathan Lawrence
Sunflower Alicia Stamm
51 52 53 54 55 56 59 60 61 62
Dixie Dirge Katie Witham
This Is Where I’m Moving Jennifer Joy O’Grady
The Split Sky Remains Johnny Hedger
Sunny Day On Worth James Dunn
Jötnar Kelsey Satalino
Michelangelo Olivia Anderson
Craft Christy Lawler
Hymn For The Astronaut Ben Lusk
An Archangel’s Song Scott Cotto
I Stand Perpendicular To Silver Stars Scott Cotto
I’d Give My Rib To Find You Anthony Donovan
Becca Christy Lawler
I Like The Way Your Dance Sounds Caitlyn Girardi
67 68 69 73 74
A Piano Among Leaves Luke Hoffman
Lydia Blue Hannah Dempsey
Swahili For Grace Olivia Anderson
The Far-Off Dock Johnny Hedger
75 76 77 78 81
The Allure of Summer’s Sounds Mimi Van der Grift
My Birds Alicia Stamm
Digital Revolution Christopher Jensen
Hunting Woods James A. Carter III
A Good Day Hannah Speiller
Living Waters Review
82 8 3 88 89 90 91 95
Messenger David Bley
Daycare Kelsey Satalino
A World That Is Mine Erin Welsh
Alone In The Wilderness Rachel Vaudreuil
For Something Chelsea Hartson
Map Sixty Ben Lusk
In Quest Of Youth Eternal Noah Thaman
Living Waters Review
This issue of Living Waters Review is dedicated to Jeaneen Woodruff “The Angel of Borbe”
Living Waters Review
Living Waters Review
Lazarus Kyra Speegle
I raise things from the dead. You see those there parsley plants? Brown as dirt when they came to me— the neighbor lady begged for help— so I watered the sorry plants green. People say my hands have healing. Well, leaves do curl up in a grin as I check each one’s firmness and smile back at them. My momma said, “I don’t have money for school, Lazarus. You must do something with those hands.” So I did. When I was fifteen, I took a job at a grapefruit orchard, tended to trees like they were family, examined their little grapefruit babies till they was just ripe, perfect ripe, and I grabbed them off the tree. A few years later, a hurricane hit those poor grapefruit trees. Branches so strong but bare, the leaves and grapefruit babies floating in the muddy water… My hands were needed right there, so I helped drain the fields and brought those trees back to life. I walked down the grove every day, inspecting how much water was sitting and how much love they needed. I knew no degree was to my name. No matter, I also knew my hands could fix the branches. So I did. Now I run the whole thing. All of it is looked over by me. If you got grapefruit juice in your fridge, it might’ve been picked, squeezed, packaged, cared for by this grove. It’s good fruit. I eat it on my back porch every morning. And I still let my hands heal the grapefruit trees. I tend those branches each day, and through that, I’m brought back to life.
Temptation Kelsey Satalino
If I could deflect glares like treetops,
To rest my head against a trunk of thoughts
Sun-drenched and stained lime,
and watch the quivering branches
I wouldnâ€™t need the refuge of trees.
is my solitary distraction.
I sit in the shade of this arcane fortress,
Strong arms bow under heavenly warmth,
ground carpeted with sage and dead
in tense anticipation.
leaves, fallen like rotting snowflakes
I find solace in my leafy shield,
to soothe stifling wounds,
pierced only by flickering
as I withdraw from the swelter.
dilutions of melted gold.
I know my haven is a haphazard construction
While I sit in concentration,
of water and weeds and wind.
the domes around me shift to dusk.
The sun is a shelter which needs no cultivation.
I hardly notice as I count the veins.
Yet I feel compelled to nestle into
At night the verdant gaps reveal no stars,
this labyrinth of twisted limbs,
but dim fields of insulation.
serpentine roots that cling to flaking Florida soil,
Dry leaves shiver yellow in the streetlight,
draining the last dregs of life from
as if purpose were a shelter
that leaves me cold.
Living Waters Review
I Want to Fly David Bley
The Garden Caitlyn Girardi
Short Story 12
he young girl bit her lip. “Mommy, there’s a bug in my tea.” Mother froze. She blinked rapidly and pursed her lips. Her eyes picked at Alessia for several long seconds. What boring, lanky hair, unladylike hands, dirty complexion, and pitiable eyes. The girl would have to grow into her frame if she ever wanted to fit into dresses. Mother tried to look offended, and crossed her arms while walking closer to the girl. “Well, Alessia, you are like a little bug in God’s tea. Does He complain like you do? Mind your manners, girl.” She turned away, and Alessia quickly flicked the bug out of her tea while Mother waddled into the small tin shack they called a house. To the Garden, Alessia was beautiful. The Vinedresser had given her long, chocolate hair that formed little ringlets. The wind twirled and slid down her locks, which always had flowers braided in them. The sun played on the soft surface of her skin, which was olive and alive. She was thin from playing in the yard, for her snacks often came from the fruit trees. Her eyes made the Garden mad with delight—one green, one blue. Ground and sky. Alessia clenched her politely-clasped (but rudely-manicured) hands on top of the table, between a dainty plate of scones and her bug-free tea. Two kiwis fell off the tree to her left, and she smiled lightly. She started to stand to pick them up when she heard the rusty tin creaking open. Mother’s crude voice screeched, “Alessia!” The girl rolled her eyes. “Yes, Mother?” She whined, “Make sure you clean up after yourself, dear.” The cut-out in the tin shut loudly.
Alessia was finally alone. She grunted, and grabbed a spoon from the table. She poured some sugar into the dark liquid, and agitated the water; her stirs grew more violent with every thought. Why must I clean up after myself? I don’t even like tea. Mother is the one who insists on this silly ritual, yet I’m the one who makes the food and sets the table, and cleans up afterward. I hate this. The cocoa-colored liquid mixed with the sugar made her tea look like drippy zebra stripes. She tilted her head up absently and mused, “Zebras. What strange animals.” A small, squeaky voice said, “You are a strange animal.” Alessia jumped up and knocked over a tiered tray of tea sandwiches. The voice sighed, and sounded apologetic. “Now you’ll have to clean all that up. Why would you go and do that?” Alessia’s bright eyes searched the overgrown yard for the source of the voice. They can’t hide here for long. The Garden only hides me. Mother had tried to create the perfect little tea garden, but a neat organization of plants eluded her. The Garden was a mess of vegetation that fought for space in the small plot, but more importantly, collectively fought against her attempts to tame them. Sumptuous fruits wrangled for climbing space on the wooden fence. Haphazardly-placed vine spokes and dandelions outnumbered the grass of the understory. As for the climbers, the grapes were currently losing to the wild roses, and black-eyed susans set up refugee camps on the fence between the two. On the ground level, the third-world country of bamboo continued to offshoot, and tried to suck the nutrients from the orange, lemon, and kiwi trees. Yucca hid in the corners of the yard, and water clover, lilies, and assorted tall weeds lived in the pond. “Bet you can’t find me!” The voice came again, and giggled. Alessia narrowed her eyes. A breeze brushed past her face, and dandelion fuzz floated pointedly toward the Yucca bush in the corner. She walked nonchalantly to the plant and squatted, steadying herself with her hands on the ground. She cocked her head to one side, then looked away, pretending to reconsider the location of the voice. Suddenly, she snapped her head to the plant and threw both hands into it. Her right hand grasped something— “Ouch!” Gotcha. “Okay, you found me!” Alessia froze. She squeezed her eyes shut as she slowly, agonizingly pulled her hand out from the plant.
Living Waters Review
The voice taunted, “Are you scared, strange animal girl?” She opened her eyes to meet its challenge. What? Something was definitely in her grasp. It was soft, and she could feel it breathing. What felt like tiny hands were trying to free themselves from her grasp, but there was nothing in her hand. The thing asked, annoyed, “What are you looking at?” Alessia’s mouth hung open. She held her hand up to the light, and stuttered, “What are you?” The thing chuckled. “Silly girl, can’t you tell? I’m a Pleistarkos.” The girl steadied herself with her left hand and sat crosslegged in the overgrown grass. She pulled her right hand, still firmly wrapped around the creature, close to her face and examined the lack of being in her hand. “Well, I’ve never heard of a Pleistarkos before. Besides, I can’t see you...” The voice clucked in disapproval. “Can’t see me? Well, we will have to fix that. That is, of course, if you let me down.” Alessia frowned. “But will you run away?” “Of course not! We Pleistarkoses do not run. We just hide.” It sounded genuine. Besides—it could not hide for long in her Garden. Alessia leaned forward and gently unclasped her hand. She heard a small whoosh as the creature landed, and she blanched when its weight made an impression in the grass in front of her. Slowly, the grass began to bend down in a straight line in her direction. Alessia’s eyes widened, and she scooted back like a crab. The voice giggled annoyingly, “Don’t be scared, little girl! I told you I wouldn’t run, and now you are the one running!” Alessia stopped backing away, and squatted, resting on her heels. She stared intently at the imprint in the grass. “What,” she began hesitantly, “are you?” She heard a sigh. “I told you already—” Alessia clasped her hands together. “You said you’re a Pleistarkos, but what are you?” The creature laughed. “Silly girl—” Alessia clenched her jaw. “Laugh one more time, and I’ll…” The thing came closer. “Ha, ha, ha.” Alessia swiped her hand at the grass, but the creature darted. She scooted to her feet, and tried to keep up with
the trail of bending grass around the yard. It disappeared near the picnic table. A slight movement caught her eye. A cluster of pink roses, which had snaked around the legs of the picnic table, was quivering. Alessia smirked. Gotcha again. She tiptoed to the makeshift vine-pole—the table leg—and clawed blindly at wherever there was a movement. One of her hands brushed the familiar soft entity, and she scooped it off of the vine. It was still laughing. She brought it to eye-level, and spoke through gritted teeth. “Little Pleistarkos, will you please stop laughing at me?” She heard light wheezing, and unclenched her hand. “Sorry, little Pleistarkos.” Instead of chuckling, the creature exhaled slowly. “Alessia, if you want to see me, we are going to have to work on your temper. Young girls must mind their tempers if they want to see what they want to see.” Alessia’s eyes darkened. “You sound like Mother. I don’t think I want to see you. No, I really don’t want to see you.” The plants in the Gardens hung their heads. Alessia walked to the Yucca bush where she first found the Pleistarkos, and put it back in the bush, despite its frantic apologies and promises not to laugh any longer. She turned around slowly, and walked back to the table. Some of her life was gone. She robotically picked the sandwiches and tray off of the ground, and put them back on the tabletop. She sat down, combed her hair with her fingers, and flattened the wrinkles in her dress. With a deep inhale, she drank her tea. A rose on the table-leg vine began to wither. The kiwis that had fallen to the floor were suddenly black, and attracting flies. She looked around, puzzled. Nothing’s ever died when I’ve been here… The girl’s eyes were earthquake and tempest, and tears spilled over to caress her cheeks. She heard soft cries coming from the Yucca bush. I did not mean to make it sad. She put down her teacup, and walked between two lanes of bamboo. While she passed, the strong plants wilted at their middles, and followed her motion by forming a sort of tunnel. The girl looked over her shoulder, distressed. “No, no, no! What’s happening?” She came to the Yucca bush, and fell to her knees in front of it. This time, she did not reach into the bush. She sobbed, “Please, Pleistarkos. I am sorry. Will you come out?”
Short Story 13
She heard tiny sniffles, and rustling. She cupped her hands in front of her, and allowed the creature to crawl into her palms. It sniffed. “Little girl, we were just trying to help you. I’m a friend of the Garden, just like you are. Will you give me a second chance?” Alessia nodded quickly. “Of course I will.” She squeezed her eyes shut. A leftover tear made its way down her cheek, onto her chin, and dripped down to the Pleistarkos. The voice turned gentle. “Little girl, look around.”
Alessia slowly opened her eyes, and cringed; hoping not to see more of her precious plants dying. But the bamboo was standing tall, the kiwis were green, and the roses were delicate and very much alive. She started to say something, when the Pleistarkos cut her off. “I’ll be back tomorrow for tea.” She felt it jump out of her hands, but didn’t try to follow his path with her eyes. I’ll see you tomorrow.
Short Story 14
Living Waters Review
Silent Night Brandon McGuire
In a clean creek on the edge of the river There is a true community Of trout That huddle and move In unison And form and reform shapes Of ancient and innocent things And the trees of the river are heavy And bowed low to the ground With the weight of the snow And the whole forest is tired And it rests in the quiet Below the white blanket of sky Overhead The sea filled with galaxies Swirls in the night and The tides of the universe Pulse and ignite And turn black into white As the oyster of nothingness Spreads out new pearls Of light And space And graceful things like stars That ring and ring out new songs That are mostly never heard or seen And all the time back in the world Are the trees And the creek of the forest And the trout in the stream In a true community Huddled and clean
Donâ€™t Leave David Bley
Living Waters Review
Crooked Roads Katie Witham
hat is straight? A line can be straight, or a street, but the human heart, oh no, it’s curved like a road through mountains.” Tennessee Williams The light shone thick like marmalade while the rustcolored station wagon crept like a beetle up the back of the Smokies and pulled into a campsite. The Woodard children tumbled over each other in their eagerness to exit the car, while the adults slowly emerged from its depths. They each shuffled about, inspecting the campsite in winding lines that never quite intersected. The father, Allen, carried himself like a true businessman; even when traveling, his pants stayed pressed. He leaned against a tree, stretching his aching shoulders. May, middle-aged and plump with tired eyes, tentatively reached out a hand to rub her husband’s back. Their daughter, Avery, was seventeen with caramel-colored hair and a splash of freckles across her nose. Simon was childishly tossing sticks at nothing in particular. Grandpa Pete had sun-blotched skin and a neatly trimmed moustache. He sat hunched on a log. He was the reason they were making this long trip from Pittsburgh to southern Georgia in the first place; it was his brother who had died. May asked, uncertainly, “If we stop here for the night, will we get to the funeral on time tomorrow morning?” “Well, I sure can’t take another minute in that blasted car,” Grandpa Pete responded. “Don’t think ol’ Henry will mind too much if we’re late for his funeral anyway, don’t think he will mind at all.” He laughed hoarsely.
Allen shot a look of disdain at his father. But Pete had his head bowed over his knees and didn’t notice. I wish everyone would just stop for one moment, Avery thought. The long drive had grated on her until she felt she would die if she didn’t get out of the car. In Maryland, her parents argued over the map. Her brother whined until they bought him a milkshake at a drive-thru, which he had promptly spilled all over her seat. Her grandfather sat in the back, smoking cigarettes and cursing whenever they hit a bump in the road, until her father had slapped his palm against the steering wheel and yelled that there were children inside the car, in case he had forgotten. Then they had lapsed into an interminable silence that strained her even more than words. Here in the woods, Avery could feel herself returning. The trees reached out benevolent arms and moss clung to the rocks like a promise. She let her eyes climb the shadowy blue of the mountains, rising, rising ─ “Avery! Come help us with the tent.” She turned to join her parents, who were struggling to hold up the thin rods and stretch the canvas over them. She and Simon had begun to press the stakes into the ground at the base, when suddenly the canvas slipped away and one side of the tent caved inwards. Allen threw up his hands. “Excellent, wonderful. You couldn’t hold it up a few seconds longer till the kids finished the stakes?” May murmured, “I’m sorry; it just slipped through my hands.” “Now we have to start the whole deal over. All I need is a place to rest after driving the entire day.” Her eyes fixed on some spot in the dirt. “I’m sorry, I’m sorry.” “It’s all right, Mom.” Avery bent her head quickly over jumbled tent poles. “I’ll help hold this time.” When the tent was finally erected, May sat watching her daughter swiftly gather firewood in her arms. At that age when most kids seemed reckless and carefree, Avery was quiet and thoughtful. There was so much May wished she could communicate to Avery; she felt an inexplicable urgency about it. She wanted to tell her daughter that love wears you out. That it twists you round like a dirty dishcloth, wringing you out, then leaving you limp, dry, and useless. She saw Allen looking at her as if he were about to speak and she turned her head away. For some time now, May had not inhabited her own
Short Story 17
Short Story 18
life. Rather, she moved machine-like through her daily tasks, freeing her mind to tramp about in a distant past. Not the first happy years of her life with Allen or the sweet moments when her children were young, but the past of her own childhood and youth, in which she mentally moved about, unfolding forgotten dreams and caressing them sadly. May rearranged choices and events, wondering always, if this one small thing or perhaps this had been different, what would life be like now? Watching Avery bobbing between the trees, hair glowing like a lantern, May wanted nothing more than to tell her to run. To just go somewhere strange and new and don’t let anyone tell you to stop. Avery had spoken up during her parents’ altercation more to end the embarrassment of being present than as a means of standing by her mother. There was no closeness now between May and Avery. Avery did not tell her mother anything; she neither sought nor would have respected the advice May would give. And it was not because she thought her mother an out-of touch authority figure, as most of her friends saw their parents. It was because Avery pitied her mother, and because she pitied her, she could not really love her. How could her mother be so weak, so willingly blind? Avery could give no evidence, but she instinctively knew that her father had not been faithful. She turned and looked thoughtfully at the road, winding back down the mountains and disappearing around a bend. The evening deepened, dropping like a net around the family, its meshes enclosing them from the surrounding woods. Simon and Avery gathered firewood and Allen kindled a low blaze. May opened their small cooler and brought out packs of hotdogs and cans of beans. They sat in a circle around the fire, roasting the hotdogs and watching the smoke spin upwards in a constant maze of directions. “Grandpa, were you real good friends with Great Uncle Henry?” queried Simon. “When you were kids, I mean?” Simon looked at the darkening sky and shivered a little. Pete glanced down, dragging the toe of his boot back and forth, drawing a line in the dirt. He answered thoughtfully, “Well, I reckon as boys we were about as close as two brothers could be.” “Then how come he never visited us in Pennsylvania? Mom said I only saw him when I was little, and I don’t remember.” Allen made a snorting sound in the back of his throat
and May quickly interjected, “Simon, it’s hard for older people to travel. And your uncle had the farm to look after.” Avery was watching for her grandfather to make an easy, convenient response, but he stared at the flames and remained silent. Did he have secrets too? Avery knew her father had secrets, or things he assumed were secret. But that someone as ancient and settled as her grandfather should have a hidden past was a new thought for Avery. She leaned back against a tree trunk, wrapping her arms around her stomach in a protective motion. She had her own secret. Grandpa Pete lit his pipe and watched twigs splinter off into the fire with a crack. The scent of smoke always made him feel a sense of regret. It was why he smoked his own pipe so much, a subtle form of penance. Simon’s question had caught him off-guard. Pete had expected, had hoped, to make it through this ordeal avoiding such questions, but his young grandson had not known the protocol. Images played before him now, pouring down from the mountain-tops and hovering over the fire. Pete saw the farm that he and Henry had both grown up on: rows of cotton as far as the eye could see, the big main house, porches snaking all the way around, the thicket of trees along the stream where they had played. They spent hours down there on those stream banks, being pirates or cowboys. Henry had always been the quiet, sweet one. Pete had been the rowdy one who got detention and skipped out on Sunday school. Everyone had loved Henry: his parents, the hired hands, the people in town. When they saw Pete, adults exchanged knowing looks and clicked their tongues. Pete remembered that one day—the day that mattered—clear as anything. They were eleven and nine at the time. It was a dreadfully dry August, and he and Henry were traipsing through the fields on their way to the stream. Before they left the house, Pete had swiped a pack of matches off the kitchen counter and was trying to convince Henry they should have a camp out that night and build a huge fire. “No, no, Pete. We’ll get in trouble,” Henry warned. “You should put the matches back.” But Pete was proud of his clever pilfering and it annoyed him that Henry was being such a spoilsport. He snarled, “Scaredy cat! You’re such a baby.” “Am not!” said Henry. “I just think you shouldn’t have taken them. You always get in trouble.”
Living Waters Review
Pete stomped off, leaving Henry to go on toward the stream alone. Tears stung his eyes. It hurt enough to know that everyone else preferred his younger brother, but this betrayal from Henry himself seemed too much. He took out the pack of matches and fingered one. Something in him wanted to give Henry a scare, to get back at him for choosing adult rules over the laws of childhood. And so he struck a match against his shoe and slowly dropped it, dropped it straight into the waiting clouds of cotton. The blaze spread faster than he could have ever dreamt. Row after row of cotton alighted, like snow turned to flame. Pete stared in blind terror for a few moments, then plunged down the embankment towards the stream. He expected to find Henry there, scared and trembling, but his brother was nowhere to be seen. He plunged up and down the stream bed, tripping through the mud, calling “Henry! Henry!” Dark clouds of smoke swept down from above and rolled over him in choking waves. Then he heard screams, the screams of a frightened child. Pete cowered in the shallow stream, shaking with guilt and fear. He knew he should try to help his brother, but he couldn’t climb back the way he’d come because of the wall of smoke barring his way. Eventually he had no choice but to climb the opposite bank and run home by the road. When he arrived back at the house, Henry was lying on the couch, alive, though very weak. Big Jim, the hired man, had been in a nearby field and gotten to him in time. Their parents, numb with fear, never asked the boys if they knew how the fire started. They were just too relieved to have both boys back alive. But when Pete gazed into his younger brother’s eyes that afternoon, he felt as hellish as the scorched cotton field. Now, staring at the dying embers of the campfire, Pete wondered what Henry had really thought about him. But there was no knowing now, the night before the funeral. It would just remain another secret. As the Woodards spread out sleeping bags and prepared for bed, Avery approached her mother. The fire, the circle, the guilt of secrets had given her a sudden longing to tell May about her own burden. “Mom, can I ask you something?” May was packing up the dinner things. “Okay.” “What happens if you’ve done something you never meant to do, but something you can’t take back? Something that affects others?”
May was startled by this tone of intimacy from her daughter. Uncertain how to respond, she replied hesitantly, “Well, I think, um, that when other people are affected, your duty is to think of them. Being selfish is never the answer.” Avery instinctively locked her arms over her stomach, obscuring the secret she carried. She whispered, “Is there anything you regret, Mom? Anything at all?” Everything, thought May. But she would not confess to her teenage daughter that her life had been one long series of regrets. “Oh, of course, everyone has a few regrets. But on the whole, I think we just make the best of what we’re given.” Later, Avery turned away and looked again at the dusky shadows of the mountains. Her loneliness threatened to swallow her up. She waited until she was certain everyone was asleep, then rose, silently in the deep darkness. She took her backpack, two of the ham sandwiches from the cooler they had packed for tomorrow, and carried her shoes in her hands. She crept from the tent into the murky moonlight and stopped short. Grandpa Pete lay on the ground with a blanket pulled tight around his shoulders. He must have dragged his sleeping bag outside to sleep, but he was still awake. He was gazing right at her, noting the backpack and the shoes. The grandfather could see what his granddaughter was about to do, and yet he made no move to rise or even to speak. He simply gave her a slight, nearly imperceptible nod, and watched her slowly walk down the road, sinking into the night. Pete sighed, almost like a prayer, and gazed one last time at the red coals where the fire had been. The old man pulled the heavy blanket up over him, all the way, until it covered his head and he could no longer see anything.
Short Story 19
I Remember All My Life Brandon McGuire
I was raised in the valley of the dark wood snow
Then I left my home and the family
With the trees of the forest and the animals
On a long grey train to a new city
And the “Cry of the Night” through the window wide
And I learned a lot about war and peace
While my brother grew old by the fireside
And a holy love down upon my knees
In the body of a house that was warmed by a stove
I was caught in the light of a beam of the sun
With a branch inside from a tree on the road
And my heart poured over and I started to run
That my father drove down a-coming home
And I ran and I ran till I couldn’t more see And the warm and the soft of the spirit filled me
I remember all my life (repeat) I remember all my life (repeat)
Then a time came by when the sales got slow
And my father grew tired of the fitness store
But I’m still looking for my Daisy B
So we hopped in the car with all we owned
My green light dockside Fairy Queen
And headed to the land of the Seminole
For the one to share my life with me
With the wind and the waves and the neighborhood
And help to make my joy complete
And a family band from an ancient ode
And pour out as an offering
And the lessons of life that grow you old
Our single breath before the king
Like beautiful is not always good I remember all my life (repeat) I remember all my life (repeat)
Living Waters Review
The Dirt You Don’t Mind Lindsay Matz
There are two types of dirt, just as there are two types of memory. Disheveled— the unwelcome kind of grime that sticks like unwanted glue. Lousy, like a rain-ruined picnic and long walk home in mud. This type is not easily forgotten, but surely outweighed. What about the good muck? The dirt you don’t mind, or rub off too quickly. Don’t want to forget too quickly. The campfire that spit holes in your favorite plaid shirt, and shook ash in your face during that first camping trip. Or that long muddy plunge into the falls that no one knows. Surrounded by friends, with a love for each other deeper than the pool. Surely, not all dirt, like not all memories, needs to be washed away so quickly.
And Out of Ashes Rise Gyasi Byng
Short Story 22
lighting pace to make the train. He took no notice of the early morning passers-by; he kept his head down and his eyes fixed on the sidewalk ahead of him. Little girls were playing hand games on the corner waiting for the school bus. He stopped for a moment, allowing for the light to change, remembering when he and the old Dominican were young. Brooklyn had been safer then. She could take his hand and they’d walk to the bodega without their mother. In a corner apartment two stories up, he could see a mother’s worried face poking out of paisley curtains. She eyed him wearily so he walked on as soon as the light changed. His breath turned to smoke with every step he took, but he walked faster and faster, not wanting the memory to catch up with him. Sometimes, he could hold it at bay. Other times it would hurl itself down his throat like a snake and he enyen Vergueza would have visions of red hair and crooked white teeth for woke that morning with an urge to see the old Dominican days. During those times he couldn’t go see the old woman. woman. His sleep hadn’t been peaceful and the constant She always said it wasn’t his fault, repeated it like it was tossing and rousing made him tired of life. There was a dogma, but he couldn’t believe her. hint of morning creeping through the curtains, rough pink “What possessed me to do it, Mana?” he’d asked her. and orange hues hewn out of the stormy black midnight. “Ay, Kenny,” she’d say. “Yo no sé.” The rain that had pounded his windows during the night Kenyen easily made the train and got a seat; no one added to his restlessness. Every beat and scratch sounded wanted to head upstate at this hour. Sleep crept into his like hands, every gust of wind like perdition. He put one eyelids, so he rested his head against the window and tried to foot out of bed and then another, the cold floor sending ice think of nothing. Usually falling asleep on a train was risky crystals into his blood stream. business, but he had three hours to kill. Kenyen made sure to Kenyen quickly put on his slippers and stepped into the tuck his hands in his pockets so muggers wouldn’t get brave, bathroom. Figuring out the time it would take to shower and and he then drifted off into a halfhearted sleep. dress, he reckoned he could make the 8:45 train. Though he The train noise filled his ears, keeping him from focususually avoided mirrors in the morning, he pilfered a glance ing on anything but his eyelids. Soon he grew accustomed at himself before stepping into the scalding water. to it and began to pick out bits of conversation. Two yentas Too skinny, he thought. She’ll definitely say I’m too were knitting shawls. A Jamaican was looking for a new skinny. beef patty shop. Three Trinidadian mamas were comparing The old Dominican was always quick to notice any kind bunches of fresh shadowbenny. A bunch of Koreans realized of change in his appearance. She would chalk his lean face they were on the wrong train. Snatches of life invaded his up to the fact that he wasn’t eating right, which was a lie; he sleep, and he let them drifting away to an airport. wasn’t eating at all. Food had started to taste like ashes in his “Would anyone be willing to give up their seat?” a mouth and though his stomach felt like it was eating him friendly voice asked. “You will be compensated.” from the inside out, Kenyen couldn’t bring himself to down “Man, these places always overbook,” said a second voice. any sort of nourishment. His beard was thick and hoary and “Don’t they know how many seats they have?” wiry red lines stretched the length of his eyes. As he stared “I’m sick of this airport!” into the lines he thought they looked like hairs. Red hairs. “I’ve been bounced around all day!” Not wanting to let memory overtake him this early in the “Why don’t you take my seat?” his voice said. “This way morning, he shut his eyes and jumped into the shower. Gwen can see her daddy for Christmas.” Lest his mind wander too much, Kenyen raced at a Kenyen jerked awake and slapped his face. The woman
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in the seat across from him gathered her things and moved to the back of the train. The memory was getting sneakier now, creeping into his daytime hours. He would have to stay awake for the trip; there was no question about it. Thankfully there were no redheads on the train; that would have made things impossible for him. As the train went further upstate its inhabitants cleared out, leaving only Kenyen and the Trinidadian mamas. He never saw any of them at visitation so he knew they would be getting off soon. Two stops from his own, they cleared off and a young Puerto Rican and her daughter hopped on the train. The little girl was restless and ran up and down the aisles while her mother rummaged through her purse. Extracting a large guava candy, the mother called, “M’ija, vaya aqui.” The little girl ran back and plopped herself in the seat. While she sucked on the massive block of sugar and fruit, her mother took out a comb and brush and began fixing the child’s unruly hair. Kenyen watched as she worked the ends first, carefully detangling each wavy lock without bringing tears to the child’s eyes. “How do you want your hair today?” the mother asked. “Braids,” the child answered simply, more concerned with her sugar intake than the state of her appearance. The mother kissed the top of her head and swept the child’s hair from her face. With her hair pulled back, she was an ethereal thing, too beautiful to be anything but a handful and heartache. Looking at the child’s face, Kenyen noticed a smattering of freckles on the apples of her cheeks. A few dots close to her mouth looked like Ursa major. Why did those freckles seem familiar? Feigning disinterest, Kenyen looked deep into the child’s face while she gorged herself on the candy. He had he seen that pattern of freckles before. “Why don’t you take my seat?” his voice said. “This way Gwen can see her daddy for Christmas.” “But your sister,” the other voice said. “You always visit your sister on Christmas. There’s no way you’ll make it in time if you take the other flight. Don’t you think she’ll be upset?” “Mana’ll be okay,” he said. “Go.” He remembered the redhead hesitating for few seconds before hugging him tightly. “Thanks, Kenny,” the other voice said. “You’re a real friend.” Without warning, the memory flooded his mind. Jude’s
flaming red hair and freckled face. His crooked white teeth. His too-big glasses and slouching back. All this caught the breath in Kenyen’s lungs and left him a sniffling mess. The woman and her child didn’t look at him. He curled his back like a punished child and pressed his face onto the cold window. The train stopped. He heard the woman and her child gather their things and get off the train. “Gwen, hold my hand,” the mother said. Through the window Kenyen watched them descend the iron steps off the platform. They had been so close. After three years he could have taken the chance and told Jude’s family the story. He could have taken responsibility for the murder of his friend. Gwen would be six in November. He wondered how much of her father she remembered. Was Jude a portrait shadow made up of piecemeal stories and descriptions? Did he have a voice when she tried to think of him, or was he simply the ghost that haunted her face and personality? If only he could transfer what he remembered of Jude to her mind and free himself. He would gladly let her carry the weight of her father’s memory. By the time Kenyen made it to the prison, visiting hours were just starting. He pulled his jacket and scarf off and rested them on the table. Other family members straightened their hair and sweaters as though they were at a fancy restaurant. The children bounced in their seats as though Mickey Mouse was waiting behind the doors. The inmates came in one by one accompanied by the guards. Kenyen picked out the old Dominican immediately. She had her hair pulled back into a thick ballerina bun and her hands were folded in front of her. Even though she hadn’t been in a convent for ten years, she couldn’t break the habit of that old posture. She hugged his neck before she sat down and ran her hands down his cheeks. “You’re too skinny,” she said. “When was the last time you ate?” “When was the last time you ate?” “Don’t get snippy.” “Sorry.” “I know it gets bad for you sometimes,” she said, “but starving yourself isn’t going to help the pain.” “It takes my mind off the pain,” he said. A laugh erupted from the other end of the room and one of the inmates jumped up and hugged a teenage girl. “Lily’s daughter must have been accepted,” his sister said. “She applied to Dartmouth.”
Short Story 23
Short Story 24
“Do you think they’ll let her go to the graduation?” “Probably not, but Lily’s only got another year.” They watched for a few minutes as the two women talked excitedly to each other. “What’s Lily in for anyway?” Kenyen asked. “Four years for assault and battery.” “Not the kid?” “Her ex-husband,” his sister said. “He used to beat her. One day he went after the daughter and Lily lost it.” “What did she do?” “She pretended like she was in the major leagues and hit a homer with his head.” “Jeez.” “I know.” His sister looked around the room slowly, occasionally pausing on a parent and child. With her long nails she drew casual pensive circles on the table. “It’s always sad to see children here,” she said. “It’s always sad to see you here.” “Love your neighbor as yourself, Kenny,” she said. “And he was your neighbor? He would have killed you, Mana,” he said. “There was no need for you to plead guilty! You could’ve won if you’d gone to trial!” “Keep your voice down, Kenny.” “Dios mio, Mana! You always tell me to keep my voice down!” “We don’t have a right to ruin other visits.” He slouched in his chair and heaved a heavy sigh. “Do you have anything else to tell me?” she asked. “¿Como has estado, mi hermano?” “No hay nada.” “Nothing?” she said. “No good books, no movies? That only makes me worry about you more.” “You’re the one in jail, Mana. You need to worry about yourself.” His sister let go a deep breath and mimicked his position. She dropped her hands and eyes to her lap. Kenyen let silence take them rather than trying to be genial. This was the tone their visits usually took. There was never any news to tell, never any happy occurrence to relay. “I saw Jude’s family today,” he said. “On the train ride up.” “Did you?” “I hid from them.” “There was no need to do that, Kenny; you’re so skinny
they wouldn’t have recognized you anyway.” “What’s sad is that I didn’t recognize them.” The guards began to shuffle their feet and check their watches. “How’s his wife?” his sister asked. “She looked good.” “Gwendolyn?” “Big,” he said. “Looks like him, except for the hair.” He saw his sister’s hands twitch under the table. “Stop picking that thing, Mana.” He reached across the table and pulled her hands up. In the palm of her right hand was a bloody sore. She wrenched her hand out of his grasp and put it back in her lap. “It’s a nervous habit.” He frowned. “Maybe they should send you to a psych ward.” “I’m not crazy.” “What do you call it then?” he said, his anger rising. “You’ve had that cut since you got here. It won’t heal if you keep picking at it. You’ll get an infection, Mana.” “No me importa.” “Well, I care.” “What a hypocrite you are, Kenny.” “What?” “You want to care about something, care about yourself.” “Shut up, Mana.” “Care about the fact that you look like death and smell worse,” she said. “Care about the fact that Jude’s wife doesn’t blame you. Nobody blames you. You couldn’t have known. It wasn’t your fault. How often to planes fall out of the sky?” He looked up. “A lot these days.” “You couldn’t have known, Kenny,” she said emphatically. “And blaming yourself, starving yourself, and acting like a martyr isn’t going to bring about a resurrection.” His voice dripped sarcasm. “‘What good is it to be a martyr?’ said the inmate to the free man. We’re both so selfinvolved, Mana, you know that, right? I blame myself for a plane crash and you feel guilty for killing a burglar.” His sister looked down at the sore on her hand. “He spoke to me, Kenny,” she said. “He didn’t die softly. The way I cut him made him bleed out all over the altar. And he said, ‘¿porque me has abandonado?’ Why have you abandoned me? I don’t know who he thought he was talking to. Thinking over what happened that night, I still can’t figure out why I reached for the knife. He was on the ground. I could
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have run away. I could have run into the office and locked myself in, but no. After he tripped, I grabbed the knife.” “Mana, after he stabbed your hand, gave you a black eye, and broke your arm, why did he come after you again?” He knew that she knew the answer. He also knew she kept it to herself out of respect for the dead. Around them, the other inmates were looking at school report cards and pictures while the guards paced around the room “Tell me something,” he said. “What does your guilt feel like?” “Like God goring me with a ram’s horn. Yours?” “Like swallowing a splintered two-by-four.” “Promise me you’ll eat something,” she said. “You may not think much of yourself, Kenny, but you’re all I’ve got in this world.” The whistle blew, signaling that visitation was over. Like they did at the end of every visit, Kenyen and his sister held onto each other like the world was on fire. He gently kissed the wound on her hand when they pulled apart, and smoothed the few stray hairs on her head. She pressed her lips to his thin cheek and smiled at him. “You’re so skinny,” she said. “Please eat something. Drink something. Even if it’s just half a cracker and a swig of grape juice.” “I’ll eat something, Mana. I promise.” There was a light smattering of snow caking the windows when he stepped back onto the train. It was fuller now, people coming back from their daytime activities. He sat next to a window again and watched the pattern of wool and tweed overcoats merge into a gray rainbow. Winter had lasted too long this year and summer had been too short. Watching the swarms of people crowding each other for heat, he remembered how much Jude had loved the winter. While some balked and scoffed at the overcast sky, Jude reveled in it. For him, the cold held promise. The sight of his breath making smoke signals to heaven put Jude on cloud nine. Jude never flew south for any winter; it was Kenyen who suggested finding some sun in the middle of December. “A quick trip to the beach to shake off the cold,” he said. “Maybe you single guys can pull that off, but I’m an old married man,” Jude said. “Your wife’s cool, Jude. Don’t blame her.” “Christmas is getting close.” “My treat,” Kenyen said. “Feliz Navidad.”
Jude hesitated, burying his hand in his hair and scratching his scalp. “Let me ask my wife.” “I already beat you to it,” Kenyen said. “She said yes. Pack your bag, we leave Thursday night.” If he’d known a storm were coming, and if he had known that they’d be rebooked on separate planes, and if he’d known that a mechanical failure would cause the plane to crash, he would have tied a hundred pound weight to his neck and jumped into the Hudson. The door to the train opened, letting in a sharp gust of wind. Kenyen looked up and saw Jude’s wife step onto the train, holding her sleeping child in her arms. The way the breeze trailed through her dark hair, whipping it into concentric circles around her face, made her the picture of a patron saint. She worked haphazardly through the crowded train, searching for an empty seat. Kenyen tried to bury his face into his coat, but before he could disappear into the dark wool, she spotted him. It was like time skidded into itself before slamming into a brick wall. By the look on her face he could tell her breath had stopped short of exiting her chest. He lowered his eyes, trying to pretend he hadn’t noticed, trying to feign sleep, but a heavy voice said, “I see you, Kenny.” She was sitting next to him, the child breathing deeply on her chest. “How are you, Milagros?” “Busy,” she said. “Gwen’s got me running all over the place. She can’t keep still.” “Kids’ll run you ragged.” “Yeah.” She stared into his face deeply, causing beads of perspiration to condense in his hands. “Have you been visiting Esperanza?” she asked. “Mana? Oh yes.” Her eyes were driving into him like iron nails. “What have you been up to lately?” she asked. “This and that.” “Are you still teaching?” “No.” “Working at the Boys and Girls Club?” “No.” “Still volunteering at the library?” “No.” She readjusted the child and looked harder into his face. “What are you doing, Kenny?” she asked seriously.
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Short Story 26
“Nothing really.” “Why?” “I can’t seem to find the time.” “Seems to me like you have nothing but time,” she said. “I figured you were busy living your life, and that’s why you couldn’t call me. Three years, Kenny, and not a phone call. Not a Christmas or birthday card, nothing.” “It was difficult for me—” “Was it now?” she said, her tone rising. “Explain to me how hard it was.” “If you knew the story, Milly,” he said softly. “If you knew the whole story, from the beginning, like I know it, you’d have cut me out of your life.” “But I don’t know,” she said. “I had a great life, Kenny. I had a husband who thought heaven was built under my feet and a best friend who would do anything for me. The next thing I know, my husband’s in a ditch and you’re nowhere to be found. So please, enlighten me. I could use a good story.” “It’s not—” “What?” “Leave it alone.” “Tell me.” “Leave it alone.” “Kenny—” “I killed him!” he shouted. The other passengers on the train stared at them. Kenyen realized he was standing up, raving at Milagros like a man possessed. Catching his senses, he sat back down and glared out the window. The child was stirring in Milagros’ arms. “Mommy,” she said sleepily. “M’ija,” Milagros said sweetly. “You’re tired. Go back to sleep. We still have some errands to run before we go home. Get some rest. Go back to dreams.” The child buried her face in her mother’s coat, and within five minutes was snoozing peacefully. Kenyen looked out the window darkly, trying to keep his eyes focused on the sky. Time passed thickly. Passengers exited the train hurriedly, keeping their eyes down, and avoiding Kenyen and Milagros. A few took the initiative and switched cars, letting in fat gusts of winter air as they opened the doors between the train cars. Kenyen had become so absorbed in the pregnant silence that he nearly jumped out of his skin when Milagros said, “You didn’t kill my husband.” “What?”
“You didn’t kill him,” she repeated. “If you only knew, Milly,” he said. “I switched tickets with him. He was supposed to be on my flight, I was supposed to be on his.” “What are you talking about?” “When we were rebooked, I offered him my seat on the earlier flight,” he said. “That way he could get home sooner.” Her face darkened and she rested her chin on top of the sleeping child’s head. Before he knew it, tears streamed down her face like dispirited rivers. While she sobbed and gasped for air, Kenyen wanted to reach out his hand and stop the flow of tears, but he couldn’t bring himself to rebuild the bridge between them. “I’m sorry, Milly,” he said. “I know it doesn’t change what I’ve done. I know it doesn’t make up for anything, but—” “Was that why you stayed away, Kenny?” she asked, enraged. “For that? Do you know why he took you up on the offer? Because we got into a fight on the phone that morning, and I told him he better get home. That’s why. It wasn’t you. It was never you.” At that moment he felt as though God were punching him in the stomach. He watched her cry furiously without knowing what to say or do. “It wasn’t your fault either,” he said, hesitantly. “I know that! It wasn’t anybody’s fault, Kenny.” She cried harder and harder, soaking the child’s head with her tears. “If I had known that, Kenny,” she said. “Do you know what I would have done? Nothing. I would have cried with you. I wouldn’t have been angry. I wouldn’t have cut you out of my life. All this time, for the last three years, all I wanted was to mourn with you. There was nobody left after you were gone. You know how Jude’s parents feel about me. Even if they had given me the time of day, nobody knew Jude like we did. I needed to grieve with you. I needed to be able to talk to you. On those nights when I slept with his bathrobe just so I could smell him again, I needed you to tell me that was okay.” Her sobs began to rake through her body. She cried like a child abandoned. Suddenly, the tears halted in her eyes as pain and grief gripped her chest and lungs. Without thinking, Kenyen enveloped her and the child in his arms. He held onto her while she cried, giving up the ghost that had haunted the two of them for three years. She felt small in
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his arms as though he could lift her with one hand and keep her from every danger in the world. While he held her, he felt guilt pour out of his bones. The weight that had hung around his neck was lifted, allowing him to breathe. With each passing stop, Milagros’ sobs ebbed and flowed. He lost track of the passing places and signs. Even when the child awoke, she kept still in her mother’s arms, keeping her small warm head still in the crook of her mother’s neck. The train came to a stop. A few stragglers stepped out onto the platform. The day was nearly gone. Kenyen could see that before long, the night would be upon them. The few snowflakes that had clung to the window had drifted off into the wind. The conductor came into their car and looked at them. “This is the last stop, folks,” he said. The child hopped off her mother’s lap and stood patiently in the aisle. Kenyen released Milagros while she brushed her hair and wiped the sadness off her face. She
took in a deep breath and looked at him with released eyes. “I guess we’ll have to take another train,” she said. “I guess.” Kenyen rose from his seat and helped Milagros gather her things. When she had all the bags in place, she took the child’s hand and kissed her face. “How are you, m’ija?” she asked. “It’s been a long day,” the child said. “Hasn’t it though?” The two of them walked towards the door casually, as though nothing had happened. Milagros stepped out the door with the child, and then suddenly turned back, and said, “I’m famished, Kenny. Do you want to grab a late lunch with us?” He sighed deeply and buttoned up his coat. “Lunch would be great.” When he stepped out onto the platform, a cool snowfall touched the hollows of his cheeks, warming him like spring.
Short Story 27
A Petition for More Color Chelsea Hartson
five years with a concrete floor seeped into his mind slippery like wet feathers and gathered in his spine a dull pulsing bundle reminding that heâ€™ll never forget the years or the concrete or the way the snow sparkled bouncing back misty streetlights the night before his arrest
eight years elapse but those five are still in his spine her amateur hands smooth the bundle but his feather-words cut and she wonders if she should save her sunshine but he makes the sea grapes sing and the skies glow gold if freedom is as beautiful as they say it can dissolve with its statue-of-liberty brightness the ache of five years on concrete
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The Baths of All the Western Stars Christopher Jensen
Luminescence litters city streets. Dripping from its poles, light pools and gathers in the gutter, whence it flows in phosphorescent rivers to the sea. Waves embalm the heavenly host. Glimmering from their graves, stars convulse and decay in the ocean depths, which bathe the dead in saltbreaker myrrh from the deep. Currents allay my leaden heart. Emerging from the abyss, galaxies swim and bask in supernova sunlight, which blows in like golden trumpets from the east.
Dreamer’s Cove Stephanie Rose Allen
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orelei pulled on her overalls and quietly slipped out of her room, trying to avoid making the old warped wooden floors creak. She tiptoed down the hall past the pictures of various family members toward the back door. Just as she put her hand on the knob, she heard her grandfather’s rough voice. “Going somewhere?” Lorelei guiltily turned around. “Just fishing.” “You’re mother won’t like it,” said her weathered relative. “She’s never outright forbid it,” Lorelei replied. Grandfather shook his head. “Better hurry.” Lorelei darted out the door and ran down to the dock, making sure to grab her fishing pole and bucket on the way down. Soon she was stepping into her little white rowboat, Nod, rowing out to her favorite fishing spot, Dreamer’s Cove. It was barely five in the morning, the perfect time for fishing. The glow of the sun not yet risen peeked over the horizon. Once she reached Dreamer’s Cove, she skewered a small piece of garlic chicken onto her hook and cast out. Then she leaned back and gazed at the bobber gently bobbing on the lightly ruffled waters. She wondered how long it would take before she got a bite. As if on cue, the bobber jerked, and Lorelei started hurriedly reeling in the quivering line. She could feel her prey zigging and zagging beneath the waters trying to break free. Finally she pulled it into her boat and surveyed her catch. The fish was a big one, about five pounds by Lorelei’s reckoning. The top of its head, back, and sides down to the lateral line were dark purplish gray, paling below the lateral
line to a beautiful silvery gray with pinkish reflections. A sooty patch on its shoulder identified it as a haddock. Lorelei nodded her approval. “You’ll make a good meal.” She carefully detached the hook from its mouth and put it in her bucket to await cleaning before casting out once more. As the hours drifted by, Lorelei’s thoughts drifted to her absent father, who was out at sea on a fishing expedition. He had been gone for two weeks now, but Lorelei knew that she still had a while to wait yet before she saw him again. These trips usually took three months at least. Before she knew it, two hours had passed and it was time to return home. She wanted to stay and fish longer, but every extra hour she spent meant a layer of huffiness on the part of her mother. Lorelei sighed and rowed back to the dock. When she walked into the house, she found her mother and grandfather sitting at the table eating breakfast. Her mother gave Lorelei a look that wasn’t quite angry, but definitely not pleased. “Where have you been?” Lorelei busied herself with scooping the eggs and bacon onto her plate. “Just fishing. Caught some big ones, too.” Her mother got up to take her empty plate to the sink. “Every Saturday you get up before dawn has had a chance to crack the sky. Just once I’d like to see you get up for school with the same enthusiasm you get up to fish.” She took her cup of coffee and walked out of the room. Lorelei sighed and sat down at the table across from her grandfather. “Don’t let it bother you,” said her grandfather. Lorelei shoveled the eggs into her mouth, pausing long enough to say, “She’s just upset that I’d rather be out on the water rather than in the kitchen learning to boil it. Why can’t she just accept that I’ll never be the little homemaker she wants me to be?” Her grandfather gazed at her with his old gray eyes. “It’s more than that. She’s jealous.” “Jealous of what? “Of the sea. It’s hard enough for her that it occupies so much of your father. The fact that it’s claimed her daughter’s affections as well must be a bitter pill to swallow.” Lorelei stared at the last piece of bacon on her plate. Grandfather had a point. It had been a long time since she had done anything with her mother. “Well, perhaps.” Lorelei washed her plate and wandered around the
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house a bit. It was a simple house, painted a dusky blue with white trim. The floors were plain wood, with a dark green oriental rug that her father picked up while at sea. Many of the walls were painted white like eggshells, with an open window here and there to let the sea breeze drift in. Lorelei wandered to the sitting room where she knew she’d find her mother sitting on her special love seat. Her mother was busy sewing, something she always did when she was agitated. For a brief moment, Lorelei was reminded of Old Widow Lucy. Lorelei shuffled her feet. “Mother?” She put down her sewing for a minute. “Yes, Lorelei?” “You know that one dish you make with oysters? Do you think you could teach me to make that?” Her mother looked surprised, but quickly returned her eyes to her sewing. “I suppose I could. But we’ll need some fresh oysters. Do you think you could go out to the market and buy some?” Lorelei gave a nod. “I think I can do that.” Her mother gave her some money and she wandered over to the market. Lorelei made for Old Man Whithers’ shop. Old Man Whithers was one of the oldest members of the town. His face was like wrinkled leather and his beard was white and frothy like sea foam. Lorelei revered him because he always seemed to be a little piece of the sea stuck on shore. “How rare for you to be buying something from the sea instead of catching it yourself,” said Old Man Whithers. “I’ve already gone out fishing once today,” said Lorelei. “I don’t think my mother would appreciate me going out again.” Her face turned thoughtful. “Say, Mr. Whithers? I’ve always wondered. Why do they call this place Dreamer’s Cove?” Old Man Whithers smiled at her. “It’s actually a tribute to the founder of this town. Back before it was founded, this site was considered too rugged for a settlement. But one day, a fisherman from the town a bit east of here fell asleep in his boat. While he was asleep, he dreamt of a beautiful little town. When he woke up, he found that his boat had drifted here to the cove, and took that as a sign that he should build a community there. Everyone called it a fool’s dream, but he did it. And that’s why it’s called Dreamer’s Cove.” Lorelei was puzzled. “He founded a town on the basis of a dream? That doesn’t sound very realistic.”
Old Man Whithers smiled. “Sometimes, the only realists are the dreamers.” As Lorelei wandered home, she thought about what Old Man Whithers had said. She thought about her father, who dreamed of the sea. Of her mother, who had dreamed of a family. And of herself, who dreamed every day. Yes, Dreamer’s Cove was aptly named indeed.
Short Story 31
The Mount Olivia Anderson
The man sees sky, ocean, and sand. He knows why the heavens are blue and what constitutes water. No mystery or room for reverie. His mirror-like shoe crushes a shell. A few paces behind rambles a freckled vagabond who sees the footprint. He stops, bends, diligently digs. In his pink hand, the brokenness
is a shining coin, golden in the sunâ€™s rays. He is wealthier than Midas. The Armani suit continues. The weight of his briefcase is more than a millstone. He kicks a mount of olive-green seaweed. Searching, the boy comes to the mount: A jungle! He is by each sublime speck of slime beguiled. He wants for nothing, but pauses to notice the quivering man. Descending the mount for a stranger, he sacrifices his coin to fill an empty hand.
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Ink Blot Whale Caitlyn Girardi
We slept in ink blots. Ink flew back and forth, swinging off the boat and missing targets in lifefloats and making confetti on the seaweed below where we read our fortunes in sea leaves and eraser-trails and pencil smudges. Man overboard who’s over-bored and in need of the octopus baptism finds his home next to sketched sandy shores. Whale-shaped Rorschach (the scribbled waves our therapists) and orange shells to recline and slide down with ink.
It was hard to sleep with all the mess around us and the beckoning of the half-erased coral but parents came home and we had nowhere to go. Forgot my pen but nothing’s worse than the time I forgot my feet in the sand the ink spatters didn’t make yet.
Red Octopus Alicia Stamm
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Santa Maria Noah Thaman
A land beyond the ageless reach of time;
A falling from above fostered fragile chance
The voyage, an experiment in chance
Of sending out an albatross of prayer.
Cast off. The captain’s chest was filled with hope:
Our song burst forth afresh in perfect time
The prospect of a good and golden land
To see the savior sight of distant land.
Divided by the vast and stormy sea. All hands avast, look upon the distant land From each lip tumbled a simple sailor’s prayer. For soon shall we leave the shiv’ring sea. The winds filled the sails like a prayer.
But now to oars! We shall make double time
By fall and rise and set we counted time,
To sink our knees into that shore of hope,
Pumped through the grey veins of the salty sea.
To offer up a thankful beggar’s prayer
Around the storm we sailed; trust not to chance
For the opportunity of chance.
The prospect of reaching eternal, youthful land: At last the consummation of a chance. Our sailor’s song, our ever-present hope. Ashore we find a bright and palmy land Our sails as slack as a feeble hope,
And sands that glow as brightly as a prayer
They fell as flat as a mumbled prayer.
In contrast to dark blue and stormy sea.
Months or years? Still no sight of land.
Backs we turn, for inward lies our hope.
Our water kegs, an hourglass of time:
Dear galleon, we leave this final time.
As they drained, so increased the chance We chance to break the bonds of Father Time. Of skeleton birth upon this sheet of sea. If so, we shall hope to fill this land A breath! A movement of the shaken sea! Again was kindled golden ember hope.
With prayers of the eternal silent sea.
The Gulf Is Not for Lovers James A. Carter III
Short Story 36
ig Grassy was an island covered in tall green grass with a cluster of cedar trees in the middle. The white, narrow beach around the island was usually covered with bobbers or the shells of horseshoe crabs or empty soda bottles. There were no boats around. Al frowned a little into the sun, squinted his brown eyes, and killed the motor. The waves made smacking sounds against the side of the boat. Al breathed in slow through his mouth and took in as much of the quiet as he could, and he imagined the fish swimming all around underneath him. He opened the Coke, set it between his legs and relished the sun for a moment more. Then he reached over, dipped his hands in the salt water, rubbed them together until they dripped, and opened his tackle box. After rigging up a top water plug, Al cast up toward the island and reeled slow back towards the boat. Seagulls circled the island and some nested in the ring of cedar trees. Al smiled. Seagulls meant fish and fish meant good fishing. He cast and recast for a half hour without getting a tug until the sun got too hot for him to sit still. He cast out one last time, reeled in, and secured the hook under the third eye of the pole so a bend formed at the tip. He dipped his hands in the salt water again and knelt to grab the T-grip hand crank. It usually took three pulls to start, but since it was still warmed up, it growled to life on the first try. Al brought his voice to match the noise and pulled away from Big Grassy. Al Pinkerton was not an old man, but his hands were already all calluses. His dark skin and brown eyes were all
that remained from the Cherokee blood of his grandfather. Al was strong and the muscles on his shoulders made the skin tight on top. He worked at the Purina feed store in town throwing bags of dog food so that his wife could stay home with the boys. Dylan had just started pre-k this year and his teacher told them that the boy would be “bright.” Al’s friends told him “bright” meant “expensive.” He didn’t hate his job, the family had a nice trailer in a decent part of town, and he had the boat. He had been out on the Gulf for a few hours now. The sun had climbed and Al stood to get a better look at a shadow in the water ahead when his eyes filled with spots and his legs felt shaky. He steadied himself on the back of his chair and dropped into it. Al lowered his head and breathed deeply for a minute. Sweat dripped from his hair. Something Al kept secret was that he was a type-1 diabetic—diagnosed on his second birthday—but the reality of his sickness was frequently on his mind. He had been giving himself shots since middle school, but over the past few weeks he had felt lightheaded several times. He pulled a candy bar out from his shorts pocket. It had turned into mush in the heat and he let out a frustrated breath and put his head in his hand. He decided to go back. The prospect of going home without a fish was not nearly as bitter as the pure stupidity of being dizzy two miles from the boat ramp. He shuddered to think what might happen this far away from his truck. “I have to go back.” He said it out loud and to the Gulf. It was more than an apology. “All the way here, and I have to go back.” He cursed himself and his forgetfulness and his shakiness and laid his hand on the motor’s handle and pulled. It coughed and died. He released the handle so the rope snapped back toward the motor and tried again. He felt the motor’s guts turn over and die. Again. Nothing. Ten tries later and a crown of sweat beaded his forehead and dripped onto the black plastic head of the Mercury motor. He swore loudly and pulled again and again without giving the motor or himself a chance to rest. The heat rising from the dark motor casing mocked him. On the next pull, the motor screamed to life, spit black smoke down toward the water, and bucked violently like a rodeo bull. In a split second Al realized that something more had happened— the small motor was only attached to the fiberglass hull with two C-clamps, a temporary solution to actually bolting it to the frame. One of those C-clamps was loose, and on his last
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attempt, Al had pulled so hard on the motor that he had actually broken the other clamp. Al realized that there was nothing holding the motor to the boat. The motor revved louder and continued to rock back and forth, spewing smog onto the surface of the water and the floor of the boat. It was unbalanced and threatened to hop off. In his confusion and surprise, Al reached for the motor to steady it. At the same moment, the motor jumped so high that the small propeller came above the back of the boat and Al felt a cool line on his hand. He withdrew it quickly. Blood vomited from a diagonal slit in his palm. A short, low yell came out of Al and the hand threw up more blood all over his tackle box and spilled into the floor of his boat. The motor jumped one more time, freed itself, and fell into the Gulf. Bubbles boiled on the surface where the motor disappeared. It was quiet. Al pushed himself back in his captain’s chair, his mouth open, but no sound came out. It was all the bright sun and the sweating forehead and oh-my-God-at-the-blood-in-my-boat. He pushed himself from the precipice of shock and let out a whimper he would never want to admit. His eyes squinted and mouth curled as he opened his thick hand. The cut wasn’t so deep to hit the bones in his hand, just deep enough to let the blood come out in gobs now. He closed his hand again and the red swelled up through his fingers. The cut, the cut, the cut. He stood up and looked for boats. The nearest ones were the big shrimp boats out near Nine-Mile Rack; Piney Point was closer, and it was more likely that there would be fishermen there. Still, with no motor he had no way to get there. Al pulled the white t-shirt off his back, twisted it into a rope, and wrapped it around his hand. The pressure on his palm stung, and he pushed harder. He didn’t think the bleeding would stop. He felt dizzy—more than dizzy. His head spun and his breathing quickened. He thought about his options. They all seemed reckless and stupid and hopelessly desperate. God. Dear God. Dear Heavenly Father. He closed his eyes tighter. Please God please. Please don’t let me pass out. Please let the bleeding stop and let me not pass out and let me find a way to get moving and please God please do not let me pass out in the boat today. Why didn’t I bring a paddle? Al thought back to the times when he was a teenager and his dad would always say: “Take a paddle, son. Just throw it in the boat. Can’t hurt.” A knot welled up in Al’s throat. Please God, I’ll laugh about
this with Dad in a week. We’ll laugh and I promise to put the boys in the Christian school if you don’t let me pass out. It was close to noon, and Al was hungry. He pulled the paper sack from the console and opened it. Al ate the sandwich and granola bar and sipped on the Coke and saved the apple for later. He bobbed with the boat in the water near Grassy and weighed his options. I could go ashore here at Grassy and get out of the sun under the cedars. No one will come to Grassy today. They might. No one will come to Grassy today. Piney Point is only a mile away. I can get there. How will you get there? Al looked towards Big Grassy and knew he could break off one of the cedar limbs. That would be long and stiff enough to push him through the water to Piney Point. There was a road at Piney Point and maybe some kids would be out there fishing. I will use a cedar limb to paddle. Getting onto Big Grassy was easy—the current was pushing him that way already. Al dipped the handle of his rod into the water, but it was too deep to reach and his hand sunk in the water. He sat and waited and even fished a little more until he was close enough to swim to the island. After a half hour, he could see the blurry bright sand underneath the boat. He reckoned he could probably swim from here without trouble. Al took off his jeans, tied them around his waist, and jumped into the chest-high water. It was cold and the salt water burned the cut in his hand, but he pushed himself quickly toward the shore. When he felt the wet sand under his feet, Al stood up, put his pants back on, and made for the cedar trees in the center of the island. The sawgrass pricked at his bare arms and chest as he separated the grass with his hands and moved forward. The cedar trees made a small circlet of shade where the wind blew and the sun couldn’t reach. It was cool, and Al rested against one of the trunks for a moment. The seagulls in the limbs of the tree barked at his being there, and Al appreciated the reminder of the Marina. He wished he’d brought something to feed them. In the shade, he unwound the tshirt from his hand again and looked at the cut. The blood was coming out weak and slow like a dry stream now. He didn’t think he would pass out after all. Al was looking up into the branches for the limb he would use when he fell asleep. He didn’t know how long he
Short Story 37
Short Story 38
slept, but when he woke up he felt guilty and cursed himself because the sun had moved to the other side of the sky. It had to be past three. He found the lowest cedar limb that was as tall as he was. He pushed down near the base and it broke with a crack. He walked back to the shore and swam to the boat which remained anchored throwing distance from the island. After the lunch and the nap, Al felt rested and more clearheaded than before, and he knew that he had made the right choice to stay here on Big Grassy. Getting to Piney Point would be hard, and the rest would be helpful. There, he knew he would find the road that led back to the Marina. The rest of the day went slow. By using the cedar limb as a push stick, Al was able to make decent time against the waves toward the blue silhouette of Piney Point, where the mainland met the Gulf. After an hour, he stopped to eat the apple. After two, he was halfway there and could make out the individual trees and seagulls floating around the peninsula. But he was tired. He had already sweated out all the moisture his body had left and he felt the spells of dizziness returning, which frustrated him. At times, he saw black spots and then he would stop pushing and rest and breathe slowly. He reminded himself that he could be at the Point before sunset and home before his wife would worry. That thought cleared his head a little. He wished he’d saved the candy bar. On the way, Al had nothing to do but sing. He sang softly and only to himself but it helped the time go faster. He began to pick out the harmonies to some of his favorite Allman Brothers’ songs. And appreciated the Gulf—that it did not jeer or clap, but only listened. Sometimes the mullet jumped around him and sometimes the pelicans flew over, but nothing in the Gulf felt obligated to offer suggestions. He began to notice tiny differences on the sea floor through the cedar pole in his hand. When he passed over the sea grass that hid the scallops his limb got caught in the clumps. When he passed over the sandy bottom the limb would sink lower and lower until he pulled it out for the next push. When he felt the cedar limb clash against the bottom he imagined the razor sharp oyster bars beneath him. Once when he lifted the limb, Al saw that the oysters had split the tip of the limb into a soaked splintery mess. He continued to push and watch the trees become clearer ahead and sing songs about the oysters biting at his makeshift pole. If he had had the breath, he would have laughed. As the sun began to set and the sky was dipped in
orange, Al’s tree limb gave a jolt in the water and stuck straight up with the handle rising into the air just above the water. It was too deep to see the bottom, but he knew that his pole had found a cavity in an oyster bed and had lodged itself there. Pulling did no good—it just tired his muscles. A few minutes later, Al said “damn” and wiggled the stick violently. He felt a crack. The bottom half of the cedar limb floated to the top and bobbed on the surface with the waves. The other half was in Al’s hand. He swore at the stick and he swore at the sun and he swore at the motor. He pitched the rest of the stick overhand so that it joined the other half now out of reach. He breathed heavily now and put his forehead in his hands. The cut on his hand hurt when the t-shirt pressed it. Al looked to the shore and wondered if it was too far to swim. I am able to swim that far. But now, my hand is cut. And I am tired. And I am a little hungry and very thirsty. And very tired. Very tired. The sun was setting without apology, and Al knew that any distance would be too far to swim at night. Without wasting any more daylight, he let down the anchor a second time until it clanged on the oyster bar below, stripped down to his briefs, and jumped headfirst into the Gulf. When his head broke the surface, the air in his lungs spewed from his mouth and his hand stung and he began to swim. The water rushed through his hands and his legs were sore and he hated it, but he swam. He swam until he ran out of breath and he had to rest and do it again. He swam until the sun went down below the sea in the west and the stars began to peek out from the twilight to see the show on the sea. He swam until the t-shirt came off his hand and it let the blood swirl into the water around him. As he swam, he thought about the fish around him and the sky above him and the oyster bar below him and his wife at home on the phone with his friends to see if they had heard from him. Occasionally, some of his gulps for air brought the salt water into his mouth and eyes, and he coughed into the waves, but he knew he was not drowning, because a man who is raised on the Gulf cannot drown. Piney Point was just ahead, coming nearer with every stroke. The closer he got, the more details on the shore he could make out. Now the tall pines, now the rocks in the seawall. In between breaths he could see a street lamp cast an orange light on the grass beside the boat ramp. A small truck was parked under the lamp—a truck not unlike Al’s Ranger back at the Marina. With a second wind, Al swam faster to-
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ward the shore. Now he saw a child—no, two children, playing in the shallow water around the boat ramp. Al didn’t call out and tried not to make any noise. He dipped his hands in the water softly and pushed hard to gain more speed. Soon, Al felt the concrete boat ramp under his bare feet and began to stand on doubly shaky knees. He was still far enough out so as not to alarm the children. Speaking with some trouble, he said, “Hi, there.” The little blonde girl in a princess t-shirt looked at him with an air of wonder. “Hey,” she said in return. She couldn’t be older than seven. “My name’s Mr. Al. Are your parents close by?” Al felt water dripping from his beard and heard it fall into the still water below. “Yes’sir. They’re at the truck.” She pointed to the truck beneath the street lamp and grabbed her little brother by his diaper to pull him in close. “Thank you, sweetheart. What did you say your name was?” “I’m not supposed to say. But my brother’s name is Mark. He’s only three but he’ll be four next month and then he starts pre-k.” Al nodded and smiled. “Well, alright.” The boy splashed in the water. He seemed to be completely unaware of Al’s presence. Al sloshed past the children, up the boat ramp, toward the parked truck. “Here comes someone,” whispered the driver to his wife. “Let me go see what he wants.” The man climbed out of the truck. He was shirtless, skinny, and wore Wranglers with an oval belt buckle that had Kelly written in a Western font. The man’s thick country accent dripped whiskey and chaw. Kelly said to Al, “’Scuse me, sir. What can I do for yeh?” Al replied, “I’ve run out of gas just a mile or two from here. Close to Grassy. Wondering if y’all could give me a lift?” Kelly didn’t speak for a few moments. “Run out of gas?” He asked it like he’d never heard of the concept. “Yes sir, clean out.” “Close to Grassy, you say?” “Yes sir.” “Big Grassy or Little?” “Big.” Kelly went back to the truck, said a few words to his wife, and came back to face Al.
“Where you need to get to?” “If you can manage the marina at Steinhatchee, I got a truck there.” The man chewed on the thought for a moment. “Why you all wet, then?” “Well, I come from Grassy.” He squinted his eyes and hooked his fingers in his pockets. “Are you telling me you swam all the way from Big Grassy?” “Oh, no, course not,” said Al as patiently as he could. “No, I poled over just yonder and anchored there.” Al pointed to the spot where his boat was almost invisible in the night. The man spat tobacco. “Well, I’ll be damned. And what you gonna do about that boat of yours?” Al got more impatient than he’d have liked. “I guess I’ll figure it out.” Kelly grunted and slurped tobacco juice. “Say, why don’t you load up, and I’ll take you back to Steinhatchee? Ain’t but five minutes from here.” Al shook the man’s leathery hand. “Okay.” Ten minutes later, the two men bounced down the road back towards the Steinhatchee Marina in Kelly’s pickup. Al thanked Kelly and gave him the number to his house. “If you need a ride or something sometime, just call this number, alright?” Kelly agreed and the two parted ways, Kelly started back towards Piney Point. Al was almost dry by then. He opened the door to his truck, pushed himself into the driver’s seat and knelt his head. “Thank you, Lord.” He left his head bowed for a few minutes, then turned the key in the ignition and pulled out of the Marina and onto the road. The green letters in the dashboard read 9:32. His wife would be worried. He sped up a little when he got to the highway and rolled down the windows. The dried salt on his chest made everything feel tighter than usual and the wind felt good. He passed a billboard for a local church that read: YOU THINK IT’S HOT HERE? Al laughed, turned up the radio, and hummed along.
Short Story 39
Lantana Mansion and Mystery Theatre Andrew de Carion
Wooden liquor crates waiting for my name. Faces reflecting on porcelain and the trail of your silk dress. Tonight I am someone else, and you are a mixed drink.
Looking for a motive, I rest my case by the private arcade games. Hold out your hand, speak easily, smile. On the second floor loft, I see the waterways and the boats in the backyard dock. My lovely doubt, you are more to me than what I know is certain. Down the spiral staircase, past the theatre curtains, into the private gardenâ€Ś I hold you, our present, and stare into the end of another future that never should have started.
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Digital Self-Portrait Alicia Stamm
Wide-Brimmed Beauty Erin Welsh
What is it about the tilt of her hat that makes me forget where I am? A hat is a hat is a hat, but this hat, oh, it sits low, hiding her eyes and the sun like the man sunk deep in the rice fields,
deep, deep down in the murky gray
42 like her eyes, maybe. Itâ€™s black like tobacco in an English pipe. No, blacker still. Like the diamonds so far buried that theyâ€™ll never be found. Or hieroglyphics staining the walls where unintelligible pictures say more than thousands of inked letters. That hat, like the cap on a bottle of bubbles that she kisses and breathes off her fingertips to someone else.
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Idelon Justice Hansen, John Hunphrey, Jonathan Lawrence Dramatis Personae MR. EBBINGHAUS - A wealthy merchant of Southampton. Born in Kiel, he moved to Oxford, England, to attend the University, and there lost his German accent for a smooth, cultivated English one. His great learning and enormous library are famous throughout the British Isles, but only several people in all of Europe can claim to know him personally.
from his book. Ebbinghaus returns the watch to his pocket. MENAURD knocks. EBBINGHAUS: Come in, Menaurd! Menaurd enters, bowing. EBBINGHAUS: Good morning, Menaurd. It is a promising day: all of my affairs are in order; I may have peace at last.
MENAURD - Ebbinghaus’ steward. IDELON - An unwelcome visitor. He wears a hood and a black cloak, carries himself well, and has a strong deep voice, touched with an English accent. He moves silently and is very nimble on his toes. ALFRED - Twelve years old, he wants to be a seaman like his father, MacDein. He spends much of his time among Mr. Ebbinghaus’ books, where he studies geometry and trigonometry and dialectic and Latin, and reads stories about great heroes. FATHER MARTIN - A mad old clergyman.
MENAURD: Good morning, sir. I wish you joy of it. If my lord is not busy, he must permit me to observe that this morning at five o’clock the Morgenstern unloaded her goods of Indian spices and tea from Canton. The ship is in admirable condition sir, and Captain MacDein your cousin will come ashore at noon, on the 29th, two days hence, to meet you on the quay, if it pleases you. EBBINGHAUS: Very good, Menaurd. I shall meet him at noon. Wine. Lambrusco, if you please. MENAURD: Yes, my lord. (Exit.) EBBINGHAUS: (To Alfred) There is your father, lad. You shall be glad to see him.
THE DEVIL - A beggar dressed as the Devil. ALFRED: Yes, sir! FIRST OFFICER EBBINGHAUS: What are you reading there? JUDGE - A venerable old judge. Alfred holds up his book. OFFICERS - Two police officers. BEGGARS AND MADMEN JURY OF FIVE Scene 1 MR. EBBINGHAUS is seated at the head of a long table in his library, with a great number of maps and charts spread out neatly before him. He is studying them intently. ALFRED is wandering between the bookshelves. Mr. Ebbinghaus begins to write on one of his maps. At length he pulls out his watch and looks at it. It ticks loudly. Alfred looks up
EBBINGHAUS: Ah, the Arabian Nights. No, that is Sinbad alone. I remember—dimly remember tolerating him; much swaying, swaying, and the Roc overhead, and a general melancholy cast of things. But it was fine enough. Youths ought to know men like Sinbad, before they turn to real ones. It is a diaphanous sort of pleasure to be sure... and innocent enough. ALFRED: Well, that is right, sir. Everyone should read good stories. EBBINGHAUS: (Sighs.) That is true. But of course one must always take care not to insist that a man take pleasure
in some book that is clearly not a pleasure to him at all. It is a logical impertinence, as it were. (Looking over his papers.) If, of two books, a man should revere the one and despise the other, then who is to say which of them he should like?
EBBINGHAUS: I have nothing to profit by letting him into my house! Let him freeze on the street if he wishes.
ALFRED: (Considers his book with a frown.) Why... I donâ€™t rightly know, sir. (Begins to read again.)
Menaurd returns a moment later.
MENAURD: Very well, sir. (Exit.)
MENAURD: He is gone, sir. Menaurd returns with the wine. He waits while Ebbinghaus pours a glass. EBBINGHAUS: Very good, Menaurd. MENAURD: Are you at leisure, sir? EBBINGHAUS: (Swirls the wine in his glass.) Perfectly so, Menaurd, but within reason, of course, as they are fond of saying who give out credit to their friends.
Menaurd fills his glass again, and then leaves. Ebbinghaus sips at his wine. When the glass is half empty, he looks across the table and with a shock beholds that A MAN is seated across from him. The man is hooded and cloaked. Some time passes in astonished silence.
EBBINGHAUS: What visitor is that, Menaurd?
APPARITION: Pray, sir, do not be alarmed. I mean you no ill will. I only did not wish to remain on the street. You are more inhospitable than I supposed.
MENAURD: I do not know, my lord. He would not give his name. Sir Alfred, your breakfast is waiting.
EBBINGHAUS: What do you mean by entering unannounced? Who are you? How have you gotten in?
ALFRED: Yes, Mr. Menaurd. (Exit.)
APPARITION: Forgive me, sir, but it seems that I have been announced.
MENAURD: Then will my lord admit a visitor?
EBBINGHAUS: I am in good humor; else I should turn you out into the cold, Menaurd, to visit each wealthy doorstep on this road to London, until you should have learned the office of a steward and be ready again to follow my orders. Have I never told you that it is a hanging offense in this house to admit an unknown visitor? MENAURD: Forgive me, lord; but to be sure the man seems important.
EBBINGHAUS: But... it was you outside? You would not give your name. APPARITION: That is because you, sir, would not recognize it, and thus be less likely to allow me in. But now that I am here... You may call me Idelon. EBBINGHAUS: Are you a merchant with whom I have had dealings? A debtor?
EBBINGHAUS: Turn him out. I have no desire to see him, if he remains unknown.
IDELON: Nay, sir.
MENAURD: Yes, lord. (Exit.)
EBBINGHAUS: A banker?
Menaurd returns a moment later.
IDELON: Nay, sir.
MENAURD: The man refuses to leave, lord, until he should be allowed to talk with you.
EBBINGHAUS: Who, then?
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IDELON: I am one who puts on plays. I have long been in search of one who could flesh out a hero. You are the only man I can think of who can perform the role.
see, sir, diversion is quite impossible. I cannot afford to devote my time to some... dramatic rehearsal. IDELON: Not a rehearsal, sir. The play.
EBBINGHAUS: But I am no actor. EBBINGHAUS: The play? IDELON: Oh, sir, you misjudge yourself. You are a master actor. EBBINGHAUS: Disregard all that. I do not care for your playing. How did you get in? The window, I presume? But that—that is impossible. It is locked. But you might have locked it. Sir, out of my house at once! This is an outrage. IDELON: Only hear me, sir. EBBINGHAUS: Very well. Five minutes and no more. IDELON: It may be less. If you give your consent, the play will begin this minute.
IDELON: Just so, sir. As I have said: the play will begin as soon as you agree to be in it. EBBINGHAUS: But where is the stage? The costumes? What of the actors, my guest, where are they? But this is absurd: no, I am not thinking seriously of it. This is an outrage, sir, an impertinence. Now you have remained here long enough, arguing with me, to neglect your duty as a gentleman. Go, sir. Leave me in peace. (Idelon does not move.) Then, sir, my butler will show you out. Menaurd! Please to show—Heavens, sir! Idelon escapes through the window. Menaurd enters just after.
EBBINGHAUS: That is ridiculous. Surely you know that I am too important a man to occupy myself with such things. (Aside.) What day is it? Some wretched holiday? A new custom I suppose. Come to think of it, of course, that must be it: men go about dressed like phantasms to humiliate the rich.
MENAURD: My lord?
IDELON: Nay, sir. But I will not leave until you consent.
EBBINGHAUS: Fie! Am I to believe that my work will not continue? That I must attend to your play rather than to my own business? Sir, I am a respectable ship owner and even now my vessels cross all the oceans of the world, carrying spices, tea, tobacco and slaves to every market in every city that has a name: to islands which even our great explorers have neglected... and I must see to it that they are sold, or I am ruined, my honor, my person, and my progeny.
EBBINGHOUSE enters, followed by MENAURD, who is wearing a blue cloak against the cold. They sit down at a small table which is set for dinner.
IDELON: Progeny, sir? EBBINGHAUS: Yes, when I should have it. The fact is, my good fellow, in half an hour I am obliged to meet my ship, my greatest ship, which has just entered the harbor. So you
EBBINGHAUS: Oh, I... wished you to procure my carriage. I must gather my charts. Menaurd bows. Both exit.
MENAURD: My lord, why have you chosen this table? EBBINGHAUS: It is a glorious day, Menaurd. A good and peaceful one. The first of many, perhaps. MENAURD: I regret, sir, to deceive you thus, but ‘tis fair when you consider that you sought to deceive me. (Takes off his blue cloak; there is a black one beneath. It is IDELON.) EBBINGHAUS: I might have known. The voice, the accent was feigned. I have passed a most disagreeable night,
and the day has wearied me. I have nothing to say to you. IDELON: Be that as it may. But my request is the same. Will you agree to it? EBBINGHAUS: What must I do to be rid of you! Ah, here... I learned this as a child. You shall have this, and be satisfied:
What should I say to you, sir? Should I not say, hath a dog money? Is it possible a cur could lend three thousand ducats? Or shall I bend low, and in a bondman’s key With bated breath and whispering humbleness say this: “Fair sir, you spat on me Wednesday last, You spurned me on such a day, Another time you called me dog, And for these courtesies I’ll lend you thus much moneys?” There is your play for you! I have acted it! It has ended. Now go. (Sits.) You dislike my play? Was there not merit in it? IDELON: Nothing except that it bears a certain parallel with the matter at hand, does it not? But I wait for your agreement. (Helps himself to the wine bottle.) EBBINGHAUS: Then... then you have it, by Jove! You have it! And begone with you. IDELON: Aye, sir. (Aside.) And so it begins. (Exit.)
EBBINGHAUS: You are mad, sir. If you do not leave me this second, I shall call for an officer. FATHER MARTIN: That is as may be. Do you not know me? EBBINGHAUS: I do not. FATHER MARTIN: My name is Father Charles Martin. I’m the rector of Saint Guthbert’s. I came to inquire about something you may have purchased not too long ago. EBBINGHAUS: And what is that? FATHER MARTIN: I don’t know. A teddy bear, for instance. Yes, a teddy bear! EBBINGHAUS: I own no such thing. Do you not have one behind your back? FATHER MARTIN: Ursam tenes! Scio ursam tenes. Da! Ebbinghaus shrugs him off. When Father Martin begins to pray again, Ebbinghaus takes hold of his arm and attempts to push him away. Father Martin shrugs him off and prays even more fervently towards the sky. Ebbinghaus takes Father Martin’s coat in both hands and hurls him to the side of the road. Father Martin rests there for a second, and then returns to Ebbinghaus’ side, where he begins to dance and sing, and smack Ebbinghaus with the teddy bear. Ebbinghaus snatches the bear. FATHER MARTIN: Oh, sir! Have the goodness to return it to me.
EBBINGHAUS: (Aside.) Is he a drunkard? I know not. A fool. Yes, but perhaps there is no harm in him. (Exit.)
EBBINGHAUS: Then sit! Kneel there. Sede. Sede.
Father Martin kneels reverently.
FATHER MARTIN stands at a street corner loudly praying in Latin and shaking a teddy bear in the air over his head. The teddy bear is wearing a large postage stamp across his mouth. EBBINGHAUS comes into view. Father Martin sees him, and tries to keep pace with him, still shaking the teddy bear and praying. Ebbinghaus at first tries to ignore him; but presently he turns to Father Martin and adjures him to leave. It is as if Father Martin has not heard. Ebbinghaus waves his finger and says in Latin: “Go.” Father Martin continues praying.
EBBINGHAUS: Ah. It is a relic, of a sort, which perhaps lends it a new significance. Patience, man. You shall have it again soon. But not before you stand and turn about thrice, and walk in the direction of the Thames. When you are halfway to the river, stop at the first tailor shoppe you see. And you shall find the bear again. And by no other means shall you find it.
Living Waters Review
Ebbinghaus tosses the teddy bear in the gutter. He crosses the stage to find a band of BEGGARS AND MADMEN next to a man robed as THE DEVIL. Ebbinghaus backpedals nervously, but the men move to cut him off. EBBINGHAUS: Come... surely... good men, we may reach a bargain of some sort. Let us not move too quickly.
FIRST OFFICER: Well of course, and King George ‘imself would have been locked up for a night if he caused the sort of disturbance you did. Come along. Can’t be a proof surer than you was just hallooing with the rest of those lunatics like a drunk or an idiot. There you are, now. Bread and water and proof next morning. Ebbinghaus is jailed. He sits on the cot in his cell. The officer exits.
The mob wants the teddy bear. A mad scuffle ensues. The madmen make a great deal of noise hallooing and shouting, and when Mr. Ebbinghaus emerges he is robed like a king, with a fake beard and a crown. He has the teddy bear. The Devil walks up to him. EBBINGHAUS: What do you mean by this? Who are you? You have no right to keep me here. DEVIL: I am the Devil. EBBINGHAUS: Ah. Just so. But here. Surely you wanted this... And leave me in peace. DEVIL: I shall not take it. I am your servant. (Bows). EBBINGHAUS: Then clear a way at once; or I shall destroy the relic. Ebbinghaus takes out a letter-opener and makes as if to stab the bear through the heart. The mob surrounds him and makes a great deal of noise. Three OFFICERS of the law enter, armed with nightsticks. The mob is quieted. FIRST OFFICER: Move aside, there, order, there! And it’s you, isn’t it? The ringleader?
EBBINGHAUS: Oh... but it can be proved! That’s the madness of it. But they will not listen to reason. No, it is procedure. Procedure, the plague of the English! Would I were apprehended in Paris, or even Rome. Oh... but this is strange. Much time passes in silence. Presently he stretches out on his bed. There is a clock ticking loudly somewhere. It is his watch. He sits up, takes it out of his pocket, and with a furious cry flings it out the window, stretches out again, and falls asleep. He is awakened by the sound of a key at the door. He sits up. The FIRST OFFICER enters, somewhat graver than before. FIRST OFFICER: Sir, please to follow me. They will conduct your trial in three days; so you are to be moved to the prison behind the court. EBBINGHAUS: A trial? But what for? It was a mere disturbance. FIRST OFFICER: You acknowledge it now, eh? I don’t know about it. But those are my orders. They both exit. Scene 4
EBBINGHAUS: (Muttering.) I am a respectable merchant... against my will... relic of his, which they perhaps desired, or else they honor the man who bears it. FIRST OFFICER: Come along, now, yes, yes, that is certainly true, of course. EBBINGHAUS: But I am Ebbinghaus the merchant! I have an engagement; and that can be proved! You can visit the customs house for it to be proved.
In the courtroom. At the end of the room the JUDGE is seated in a great chair. EBBINGHAUS stands before him in chains. JUDGE: You come before the court to answer a grave charge of theft, the circumstances and methods of which I am sure you are perfectly acquainted with. It is but a formality now to inform you that last Wednesday fifty thousand pounds were stolen from the Bank of England; and that it was on Friday that these fifty thousand pounds were discovered in your bedchamber, Mr. Ebbinghaus, hid-
den among a pile of bedclothes in a cedar chest. I presume you will wish to say something in your defense; but by now the case is quite certain. For none but you, Mr. Ebbinghaus, have the key to your bedchamber. Have you anything to say? EBBINGHAUS: I have no motive for theft, no possible desire, when my own fortune amounts to a hundred times that much. JUDGE: A man who wishes to avoid ruin is acting on a very clear motive indeed.
JURY: (Three shout “Guilty!”Two shout “Innocent!”) JUDGE: Again, if you please. EBBINGHAUS: But I am innocent! I am a good man. I have always had honest dealings. Why have I no witnesses? JUDGE: You have no witnesses because no man, no sane, honest Englishman, has yet devised a sound argument that such evidence has sprung up of its own accord. Jury, again, if you please. JURY: (Four shout “Guilty!” One shouts “Innocent!”)
EBBINGHAUS: Ruin? Come, what is this?
JUDGE: Mr. Ebbinghaus, your trade is ended. Your ships are lost. If you are innocent, then it is truly surprising that you have received no word of it. EBBINGHAUS: But that cannot be! You are thinking of another merchant. JUDGE: (Examining a paper.) The Cormorant?
JUDGE: (Brings his gavel down.) Guilty! Bring the prisoner away. Ebbinghaus exits in irons between two jailers. All exit. Scene 5 EBBINGHAUS in prison. At a sound from the door he looks up: FATHER MARTIN is standing there. Ebbinghaus looks at him without interest.
EBBINGHAUS: ‘Tis mine. JUDGE: The Atalanta?
FATHER MARTIN: Come, the play goes well, does it not?
EBBINGHAUS: ‘Tis mine.
EBBINGHAUS: Idelon! Is it not you? But… The Judge?
JUDGE: The Narwhal? The Victory? The Kalevala?
IDELON: Every man you have met since our agreement has a part in this play.
EBBINGHAUS: Mine, it is mine. They are all mine, and all lost! No! No, but that is impossible! I own twenty-four ships, and they are all in different oceans! They cannot all be sunk at once, unless we are at war, and I know nothing of it. JUDGE: No, Mr. Ebbinghaus, they are foundered in storms, run aground, or else taken by pirates. None remain but the Morgenstern. She arrived at the harbor yesterday. Now, Mr. Ebbinghaus, I presume you wish to add another defense of yourself ? Of your motives? No? Silence? Then the jury will please to give the verdict.
EBBINGHAUS: But… Then you have done this to me! Are you some inexorable rival of mine, that you seek my destruction? IDELON: I am no rival of yours. You are not in direct competition with any merchants here… No man profits by your ruin. Surely you know that. EBBINGHAUS: Then… You have not a motive. You belong in the asylum, and I will not follow you there. Leave me, leave me, go and do not torment me!
Living Waters Review
IDELON: To whom is my motive unclear? Not to the person who wrote me. Not to Ebbinghaus the actor; though he may have gotten lost in his role. I will show you the end of the play if you are willing.
Shakespeare often acted in his own plays: but it was not William who stood before the audience. It was Puck, or Hamlet. You, yourself, I address not as my fellow actor but as the character, Mr. Ebbinghaus of Southampton.
EBBINGHAUS: But… You… Who are you?
EBBINGHAUS: Am I not he?
IDELON: Do you not wish to know how it ends, sir?
IDELON: Who asks me?
EBBINGHAUS: I do not. You have wrought my destruction, somehow, through this play of yours. Tell me, did you give the Judge his lines? Were you whispering in the ears of the jury when they came to pass the verdict? Yes, yes, that must be it. Of course. But I will have no more of this. I was a fool to dismiss you with my consent. I should have tolerated your presence; tolerated it every night at my supper-table, any hour you chose to return, again and again until I should breathe my last breath, an old man! Then your play should never have begun…
EBBINGHAUS: I, myself.
IDELON: Answer me this, at least, Mr. Ebbinghaus. Can you be confident that it shall end? EBBINGHAUS: Yes! It has ended! Or it soon will end. Your last trick—I know you, Idelon, though I do not know who you are—your last trick is to assure me that I act in some play which shall favorably resolve, The Merchant of Venice or something of the sort. However, I am lost in Euripides, wretched Euripides, all along… IDELON: Sir, I ask your pardon. Do you know nothing of tragedy? Do you not know that in tragedy it is the gallant men who suffer, and fate alone who triumphs?
IDELON: And who is that? Do you suppose even now that you are not giving the lines that have been written for you? EBBINGHAUS: Am I a mere puppet? How am I to understand this play when I cannot reconcile its parts? IDELON: Hamlet could not reconcile the parts of his play. Much of it baffled even him. EBBINGHAUS: Hamlet’s lasted merely three hours! Mine has lasted three days! IDELON: Does that make so great a difference? A third time I ask, do you wish to know the end of this play? Do you wish it to end at all? EBBINGHAUS: No... I wish it not to end, but to be ended. IDELON: Mr. Ebbinghaus, I tell you that the play shall not be ended—not for countless ages, years beyond knowledge of men—until you tell me that you are willing to suffer through the ending. What is your answer?
EBBINGHAUS: And fate has triumphed! The curtain falls. IDELON: Who is fate, Mr. Ebbinghaus? EBBINGHAUS: You are fate! Idelon, you are fate! IDELON: Once again I ask your pardon for my insolence. But you would be foolish to suppose that one character decides the fate of another. For that is what I am; a mere character in this play. If I am the playwright, the worker of fate, did you expect to find me on the stage with you?
Sunflower Alicia Stamm
Living Waters Review
Dixie Dirge Katie Witham
The road from the Delta to the bottom of the country is a long one and filled with an awful heat. It winds through the deep down South, the South you only go through if youâ€™re headed for theme parks or are bringing aid for natural disasters. Tennessee-Mississippi-Alabama-Georgia-Florida For a long long time there is nothing but green grass, hills, trees flitting by the windows and sometimes, the sudden, inexplicable joy of a river bursting into view. Then the trees become gnarly men with dragging beards and the land is a verdant mother with peaches-pecans-strawberries-sugarcane-tomatoes, but the towns are nothing, full of no one, shotgun houses and main street antiques. Then the land becomes flat as a truck bed; hell preaches from billboards and screams the abomination of man; the trees grow short and shrubby or not at all. And at no point can you shake the feel of driving through the past, or toward it. This is our curse, that always we turn our gaze back the way we came. And by quiet roads you see the ghosts of men, some in grey, some in chains, and some who gave these lands their names.
This is Where I’m Moving Jennifer Joy O’Grady
The black sleet roads, the rolling wheels in my daydream… no sun, just frost—a place void of growing, green things. Everything turns to black and never comes back to life. Where I was, there was light, the sky all streaks of purple sage before the night of crystallized stars swallowed it up.
Now the sunbeams roll down the thorns of the cacti.
52 Nothing is bright, like a world lit by candle. Can new beginnings be black and colorless? This is where the road covered in sunshine ends and the black road begins. The green earth flames, circling.
Living Waters Review
The Split Sky Remains Johnny Hedger
Let me split the sky and see what remains. There, behind a blanket of blue and black, exists a wonderful something. I wish for the light behind the stars to give me its glow in low hushed tones. The whisper of secrets dipped in honesty ignites the stay in my chest that tells me who I am. Give me destiny and I will drink up my fill, until what’s left evaporates into an atmosphere made of love, lies, and fading white light that burns holes in my eyes and stitches my thoughts into a world above me— into what we haven’t the eyes to see.
Vincent Christopher Jensen
Somewhere in his ancestral line,
They said he was afflicted,
there was a star
that fell from heaven
Cursed with the eyes of a blue supergiant,
and took on flesh,
he saw what man should never see:
seducing a mortal woman
reality awash in color,
and burning away
saturated to its core
in a miniature supernova.
The consequence of their
and with light.
union lay dormant for generations until the spring of 1853.
Looking on, unblinking, unmoved,
When he assembled his
the jealous cousin-sun
tubes of dawn and bristled wands,
was sole witness
the sunflowers gazed
to the lead meteorite
on his face,
that struck the artistâ€™s chest
inexorably drawn to its
and for twenty-nine hours
mad and ancient glow
leaked his asteroid blood
as he crafted with luminous fervor
into the earth.
a family portrait over the RhĂ´ne.
Living Waters Review
Sunny Day on Worth James Dunn
Jötnar Kelsey Satalino
Creative Essay 56
ur home is filled with subtle reminders of our heritage. Small Norwegian flags, wood-carved fisherman from Bergen, decorative tiles with Norwegian prayers, boxes painted with traditional rosemaling, postcards and photographs of fjords and fishing villages bordering the North Sea. People who come to our house pass by these trinkets without a second glance. What gives them pause are the trolls. Gnarled and grimacing, these figurines stoop, hunched over their long noses and tufts of wispy gray hair. Their glassy black eyes are penetrating, giving them life from the tops of their heads to the hair at the end of their long snaking tails. Some are the kind of trolls you could imagine hiding under a bridge, waiting to devour poor defenseless Billy Goats. But each one is different. A grizzled grandfather troll may look threatening, scowling and brandishing a knotted staff, but beside him a small female troll lays on her stomach, grinning dreamily through crooked teeth, her winding tail stretched out in contentment. Each creature has personality; different clothes, different expression, different age and gender, even a different number of heads. The predator in the “Billy Goats Gruff ” might well live next door to the troll versions of Hansel and Gretel. People who have never been in our house before tend to recoil at the sight of these creatures. “What is that?” they ask politely, but they avert their eyes. I’ve heard the trolls called creepy, ugly, deformed. Truly, though, they are captivating. There is beauty in the misshapen elegance of a mountain troll. There is sophistication in rose-tinted cheeks, long noses, big ears,
scraggly tails, and stone-gray skin. According to Norse folk legend, trolls are big, hairy, stupid creatures. They’re powerful, but easy to outwit. Some are depicted as terrible and cruel, brute beasts with strength like a bear’s—coincidentally, their favorite pet. Other stories, however, tell of more harmless trolls. These trolls are mischievous, but have many human characteristics; they play tricks, but they have families and homes and don’t kill people for sport. It is likely that kindly trolls are merely a product of adapting older, harsher myths to a modern audience, but there is no way to tell for sure. Very few records of the Norse myths still exist today. Most of the information we have about Norse mythology comes from Icelandic historian and poet, Snorri Sturluson, who compiled most of what the world knows about the Norse gods and goddesses into two volumes, the Elder and Younger Edda. The best we can do to get a better idea of who the trolls were is to see how they fit into the world of myth that Snorri depicts. In the beginning, says a wise woman in Snorri’s Elder Edda, there was no earth, “only a yawning chasm.” To the north of this chasm lay the freezing land of the dead. To the south was a realm of fire. Icy rivers from the former and burning clouds from the latter poured into the chasm, creating a mist. From the mist came the first being, a giant named Ymir, as well as many frost maidens. Ymir and a frost maiden had a son, who would become the father of Odin, the All-Father, ruler of the gods. Odin and his brothers killed Ymir, and used the various parts of his body to create the earth, sea, and sky. The gods formed the first man and woman from an ash and an elm tree, respectively. They then formed strong walls from Ymir’s eyebrows, to surround and protect Midgard, the part of the earth humans would inhabit. The earth was split into three main sections: Niffleheim, the land of the dead; Midgard, where humankind dwelled; and Jotunheim, the land of the giants. The gods lived in the heavenly realm of Asgard. The entire universe was supported and held together by the great ash tree, Yggdrasil, whose roots were said to travel through each of the four parts of the universe. The tension between the three major beings—gods, giants, and humans—was fierce. While the gods created and cared for humankind and humankind worshipped the gods, the giants were the enemies of both. According to the New World Encyclopedia, the Old Norse word for troll, jötnar, was originally a fairly ambiguous term and could refer to any
Living Waters Review
number of beings, including giants. However, as time went on, trolls became their own unique type of being. By the time Snorri began recording the Norse myths in the thirteenth century, trolls seem to be at least somewhat differentiated from other beings. Trolls are rarely mentioned in the Younger Edda, but they are distinguished from giants. For instance, Thor, the powerful god of thunder, is referred to as the “Adversary and Slayer of Giants and Troll-Women.” Throughout the Edda, Thor is continually going east to slay trolls. It seems to be a favorite pastime of his. No description of these troll slayings is given, but clearly the trolls were enemies of the gods and objects of Thor’s wrath. Other than showing that Thor had a particular grudge against them, the only other description of the creatures we get from the Edda is in a verse sung by a troll woman to a wandering poet. She describes her race this way: “Companion of the Sibyl/Nightroaming hag/Swallower of the loaf of heaven/What is a Troll but that?” The modern concept of trolls has clearly evolved since the days of Snorri Sturluson, but their essential role has remained the same—to cause trouble for the gods and humankind. Modern myths about trolls are much easier to find, and can give us a better idea of who these creatures have become to both Norwegians and non-Norwegians alike. One trait common to all trolls is that they can’t stand direct sunlight. They turn to stone the moment they are touched by the sun’s rays. Alive only in shadow, these creatures hide themselves in the rocky fortresses of majestic Norse mountaintops, their deformity concealed behind awe-inspiring peaks and jagged edges. Others take refuge beneath splintering, moss-covered bridges or in the deep darkness at the bottom of lakes. But when the night comes, they give free reign to their mischief, aimed primarily at humans. And mischief they will wreak. As dim-witted as some trolls are rumored to be, they do have some special abilities on their side. For instance, some say that trolls are able to change their shape at will, allowing them to take on a beautiful appearance in order to lull some unsuspecting human into their trap. Interestingly enough, the sun isn’t the only thing these creatures are afraid of. Trolls are also said to hate the sound of church bells and the smell of Christians. This is particularly interesting, though perhaps not surprising. Christianity is the official religion of Norway, but it was not always this way, and the introduction of Christian beliefs in the
country was a slow and violent process. Though the first signs of Christian influence in Norway can be traced back to 931 A.D., the Church of Norway was not established until 1024 A.D., under the rule of King Olaf II. From its first introduction to the Norwegian people, Christianity clashed with Old Norse beliefs, and met with much opposition. It would make sense that pagan stories of Norse gods and mythological creatures would reflect the perceived intrusion of the gospel into people’s lives. Christian theology and way of life would have stood in stark contrast to the mythology of that time. Besides their belief in multiple gods and goddesses, the Norse view of the afterlife was markedly different from the hope of heaven offered by Christianity. The Norse believed that the end of the world would come in the form of an epic battle between the gods (aided by humankind) and the giants, called Ragnarök, roughly translated “the doom of the gods.” The battle would be fierce and bloody, and in the end, the world would be fully submerged in water. Total destruction. Nearly all the gods and goddesses would be slain in this fight, as well as all but two humans, who would repopulate the earth after the disaster. The giants—or trolls—would win, and evil would triumph. Even the great ash tree, Yggdrasil, would perish. The only ray of hope for the Norsemen was a prophecy that Snorri records in the Elder Edda. According to the prophecy, after the end of everything, a new heaven and earth would be formed, and someone who was even greater than Odin himself would come to rule humankind. However, this was a slim hope in light of the total defeat and destruction that would face humanity and the gods. Even Snorri wrote that he dared not speak the name of the great ruler who was to come, for “there are few who can see beyond/The moment when Odin falls.” The Norsemen knew that this grim end to everything was coming, yet they still found reason to fight. While Christians continue in hope of heaven and communion with God, the Norse had only a heroic death to look forward to. As Classicist and educator Edith Hamilton writes in her Mythology, for the Norse “the power of good is shown not by triumphantly conquering evil, but by continuing to resist evil while facing certain defeat.” To me, Norse trolls embody this former age in all its heroic savagery and belief in the face of certain doom. While I hardly believe in the existence of Thor or Odin
Creative Essay 57
Creative Essay 58
or trolls, there is a raw beauty in the Norse myths; there is something inherently admirable in believing that the world is an evil place, yet fighting for what you believe is good, even though you know the struggle is in vain. And there is splendor in trolls, mischievous and brutal though they may be. They are an intrinsic part of nature. Their raw, untamed spirit and deformed visages are as much a part of Norwegian mountains and fjords as the actual rock and earth that forms them. Fast forward one thousand years. I’m entering a Norwegian shop; the flags and stuffed animal moose indicate that this store is meant for tourists, non-Norwegians. In Florida, when you go to the airport or any service plaza along the turnpike, you’ll find shops full of Florida tshirts, palm tree mugs, flamingo key chains, and painted shells. In Norwegian tourist shops, you find stuffed animal moose, Norwegian flags, and troll figurines. I wandered around that shop, eventually arriving at an area clearly meant for children, if the mounds of plastic and fiber-filled toys were any indication. There, on a shelf, sat a plethora of brightly colored children’s books, written in both Norwegian and English. About half of the books were stories about trolls—illustrated by the well-known Norwegian troll artist and storyteller, Rolf Lidberg—ready to show
kids the mischief two young trolls got up to or how old Grandfather Troll grows the best lingonberries. And I have to ask myself, why do these trolls still pervade Norwegian culture to this very day? Why do Norwegian tourist shops sell troll figurines and children’s books even though the Norwegian people have long since stopped believing in pagan myths? Tourist shops sell things that represent their location. In Florida, we are known for sunshine, wildlife, oranges, and the beach. Whether we like these things or not, when people think of Florida, those are the images that come to mind. When people think of Norway, what do they think of ? For me, I think of fjords, of coastal fishing villages, of moose, of sweet almond pastries, of the sea. I also think of trolls. Why? What is it about these creatures that captivates us, despite their outwardly grotesque appearances? Perhaps it is because we see sparks of humanity in them, despite their malicious intent. Perhaps they, with their bumbling and mischievous ways, subtly remind us of ourselves. They are endearing because we can connect with them on a deeper level, as fallen creatures, blundering along, living in caves at the dreamy peaks of mountaintops, their faces obscured in shadow.
Living Waters Review
Michelangelo Olivia Anderson
Rejected and abandoned,
Yet the sculptor found no beauty
forty years of wandering
in façade. Naked humility, boyish abandon,
until the sculptor’s soul
a simple shepherd, unblemished
unsealed the marble’s
by augmented vanity,
the boy tending his father’s sheep—
So many possibilities, so much glory—
therein was the anointment
the great lion of Judah,
of a soul.
majestic and terrifying
Therein was an end to the wandering.
in kingly furs and golden mane, beady emeralds peering down on those beneath.
Craft Christy Lawler
Living Waters Review
Hymn for the Astronaut Ben Lusk
wrap up the blankets & squeeze my two hands—
now Jubal & Ptolemy, coming full-circle,
strap on the engines & strike up the band—!
have married the Bridegroom of telescope spires
escape from the earth & the dishrags of land—
& solid fuel missiles ride contrails of fire
escape from the atmosphere, strike up the band—!
with holiness humming in solar cell wires
on Jupiter— gently with hurricane wind!
we’re barreling out into years made of light
on Saturn— we sing with the ring of the gates
that shine on the afterworld’s burgeoning ranks
the vibrations of Paradise threaten to rend
Magellan still lives inside fireproof skin
all the seams of the Earth in the tectonic plates
& he’s breathing from Christ-laden oxygen tanks
on Titan & Phoebus & Io with voices
ring, Ring, RING all the bells
like icicle wind chimes & nebula steam
blossoming heaven & holding back hell
that bathe the depraved & the pious alike
the truck-bedded lovers strum spiritual chords
with jealous God-breath of the galaxy stream
& heedlessly entertain seraphim hordes
& it’s out in the dark & it’s out in the cold
the festival strings are still dangling & quivering
but time is ablaze & the power is old
stitching the mystery, bold & severe
& the saints still asleep in their star-ridden graves
into the bones of the wild blue yonder
are ready to rise in their raiment of gold
& threatening to crush us to death with the spheres
relinquishing hearts to the hydrogen-sane
but eternity tinctured in tangent caresses
the last frontier is crisscrossed in your palm
brushes the curtain of radio snow
& angels sans engines are wheeling ecliptics
& out in the tacit immortal white noise
& rolling across the celestial plane
God’s in the shape of the static & glow
An Archangelâ€™s Song Scott Cotto
I stood upon the shore of
seen like a particle of heaven,
I saw the wind
and the ripples containing time. I saw Raphael, aerial to the threshold, alleviating the flow of words, and words,
62 He found himself hovered over the lake and with a pluck of a string he sang, extracting every syllable emending every syntax and allowed them to cross within rapid crescendo
Living Waters Review
I Stand Perpendicular to Silver Stars Scott Cotto
i stand perpendicular to the silver rivers, on metal plates of white with green statues staring and outward they were stretched alike elongated fingers upon complexions, cursed by sun and shine
singing songs in breezes, sliding from thesis. but no sweeter tune originates. my feet stop the rivers, circling around the house. in symmetry. i stand on silver rivers and my sight turns nebulous.
I’d Give My Rib to Find You Anthony Donovan
The sun rises and expands the light beyond its circular boundary, while I find myself in a circle of friends on the beach, discussing the evidence of God in circular fashion. And when I look at you, he stares out of the window of your soul and right back at me.
And my heart is holy-rolling, and I’m already done for. Girl, I was done for when I saw your French-braids and that was the moment I began to die. And when our Ghost whispered in my ear, “I braided that, boy,” I knew He meant, “I braided that for you.” And underneath St. Augustine’s sky, I hear St. Augustine say that love without an object is soon to die. And I suppose that’s why God is Triune, for he wouldn’t be love if he were only one. And that is why I let my Yankee skin break under the Florida sun: because apart from God and calling, I want you more than mostly anything. And the Spirit of resurrection takes me away.
Living Waters Review
Becca Christy Lawler
I Like the Way Your Dance Sounds Caitlyn Girardi
Tap dance to my words with your bare feet and half-naked soul and the part of your spirit that lives with mine. Find the beat I could not create
but which exists in us together— because I’m God-breathed and old books and ballerina blood, and you’re beautiful but awful. Your feet will move, and your dance will keep time to nothing but my inhale and exhale. My voice and your feet can be acapella with honey; then I’ll speak hot water and try to catch the drops with my empty teacup. When you dance and I talk, we’ll be English Breakfast with honey and milk and maybe lemon. I won’t buy you shoes because I like the way your dance sounds.
Living Waters Review
A Piano Among Leaves Luke Hoffman
Autumn music. My stained pen
spouts only nonsense,
Poetry 67 I trick myself
listening to itâ€”
the faint scratching
Lydia Blue Hannah Dempsey
I Lydia’s saxophone wailed down the cul-de-sac for days after the roof caved in and the shingles settled on her skin, when her sheet music ashed into tens of snowflakes fluttering down over a burning home. When I do my homework, I hear decades of dead notes offering music to the buckets in the horizon—the line not where sky and earth meet, but where the world lives rather as a thin pane of glass, a perpendicular Platonic plane, slid between two elements. I watch one hand two-dimensionally emerge from the transcendent and drink the sad song from Lydia Blue’s saxophone. Once I saw a single drop of music fall into the neighborhood asphalt on my side-
walk, and it sank a small flag into the underneath. After endless wailing, I saw that
it was a pillowcase flag in fact—sprouting leaves from its metal pole stem. Colored white as winter sky, it opened toward Lydia Blue bellowing buckets of grief into the cosmos. “We surrender!” it waved. “We surrender!” II The horizon is a line between two elements, two physical elements, between sky and earth that is squeezed slim like a pane of glass in between the two elements. The horizon is not physical. The horizon is not a line separating, but its own entity, a sliver of the Forms, a Platonic plane existing in the physical world. Lydia Blue’s grief is so great, her offerings to the cosmos so intense, that all of the universe cannot contain it, cannot handle it. She stands in her home, her neighborhood home that has burned to ashes, her sheet music gone, the roof gone, everything gone, and she grieves through her music. A neighbor reflects as the narrator hearing the music down the street. Lydia plays and plays. A two dimensional hand reaches through the horizon, physically and metaphysically coming from the cosmos to collect her mourning, to hold it in his infinite hand, but her pain is so great that even the cosmos cannot hold it, and a drop of music falls from his hand and lands on the sidewalk in front of the narrator’s house. It falls like a seed, like a drop of music, and it grows up through the sidewalk as a little flag, a little white flag made out of a pillowcase that sprouts leaves from its flagpole as it grows. The flag waves in the sad still air, saying on behalf of the cosmos to Lydia’s grief, “We surrender.”
Living Waters Review
Swahili for Grace Olivia Anderson
he nursing home sign fought against the October wind like an antelope trying to outrun its predator, swaying back and forth, clinging to its copper hinges, now oxidized to verdigris. Those wrinkled faces, peering out from behind protective glass windows, watched the leaves spiral and were reminded of their childhoods. Oklahoma had not always been vibrant red and dusky orange during the fall; they remembered when it had only been gray. The fields, the trees, the houses, the sky— all was gray, creeping up beneath the door, through the keyholes, into the food, into their minds. They had been baptized in gray dust daily for many long, trying years. “Now how, in Heaven’s name, did I end up here?” an elderly lady mumbled to herself while sitting on the edge of a pristine cot. Beneath the leathery, calloused skin on her hands were thick veins which ebbed and flowed, pulsing north—like the Nile—from her knuckles to some preordained destination. She pounded her fingers on her legs, like a sacrificial tribal ritual, and thought of home. The nurse walked in, carrying dinner in a gray plastic Tupperware with high rims, as though the nursing home did not trust her to eat the food without spilling. The old lady shook her head and hit her leg. “Is there anything you need, Mara?” asked the nurse with a smile. Pushing her food aside, Mara whispered, “Girly, can you tell me somethin’? Why’d they stick me with all these old people?” Her eyes glinted like melting copper, laughing in the light. Room 33’s another looney, thought the nurse, as she forced
a smile and a giggle. Understanding the façade, Mara stopped laughing and demanded permission to take a walk outside. The nurse consented and left her patient, Mara Room 33, alone. Mara shrugged on her favorite long coat, patterned purple with tiny red flowers trailing along the collar, cuffs, and down the front center. Dark, grainy acacia wood buttons, smooth from years of handling, ran up the middle, pulling the flowers together. Fingering the buttons, a soft smile lifted her sagging lips. “Home…” she breathed. Outside, the winds seeped through the fabric Mara’s daughters had stitched together for her. As Mara walked towards the park across from the nursing home, her wrinkled skin—used to the scorching African sunshine— shivered. The grass was green, not gray as before, and tall trees ran through the park like a sturdy backbone, perfectly spaced and planned. She could see the golden sun was high over the nursing home through the branches. The windows on that structure, usually so dark, were now bright, reflecting the sun’s face. The sound of children’s laughter drew Mara to the far south side of the park where an elementary school stood. Stopping, she leaned against her cane, remembering her own children. “This time of day is always bad,” said a voice from behind. Turning, Mara looked down at a woman around her age, sitting on a bench. She kneaded her legs through her proper blue dress. “Arthritis, you see? Prescriptions, pills, doctors, they can only do so much, you see?” “I’ve never had it,” Mara smiled without restraint, the labyrinth of wrinkles about her eyes all making half moons with her mouth. “I see. Lucky.” The old woman went back to her massaging. If she worked hard enough, she could make the pain go away. “Blessed.” “Lucky,” repeated the other mindlessly, not really paying attention. “My legs never hurt me.” Annoyed to find no sympathy, the stranger only nodded. Kneading, kneading. “That’s ‘cause they’re wooden.” Mara slapped her limbs with youthful vigor, smiling all the while.
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Short Story 70
“I see,” muttered the other. Suddenly her hands stopped and her wrinkled neck turned. “What did you say?” “Wooden legs.” There was silence for a moment, as the two women stared each other down, the stranger judging, Mara smiling, the corners of her eyes twitching with laughter. “Is… is your name Mara Vase?” Mara started abruptly, hearing her maiden name. The smile sagged. “Why—yes.” The stranger’s eyes filled with tears that wet her dry, chalky cheeks like rain redeeming the gray desert. But those tears brought Mara right back to the gray desert—back to her childhood, back to the summer of 1934. * * * “Come on, Mouse,” called a toe-headed boy over his shoulder. His bare feet beat up clouds of dust around his torn blue jeans. The younger brother, Jimmy, lagged, prophesying omens, “Luke, I’m not sure about this. If Ma and Pop find out…” Luke silenced his brother with, “Oh, quit worryin’, Jimmy. Mouse, hurry it up!” Mara tried to juggle the sack of swiped copper coins over her shoulder as she raced after two of her brothers. There were another six kids at home. Ma and Pop thought that they were doing their chores in the barn. They could see the train tracks in the distance, like a great black snake slithering across the desert. The snake hissed as they got close, the steel tracks steaming in the heat of the day. “Jimmy, help me with these ‘fore the train comes,” ordered Mara. Pennies spilled out on the ground next to the tracks when she dropped the sack. Luke stood guard, watching for the roaring locomotive, as Mara and Jimmy meticulously laid the coins upon the snake’s black back. “Mouse, you ready? I can see it comin’,” said Luke. “Almost!” Mara promised. She ran up and down the tracks, checking on the pennies, making sure that they were perfectly positioned to create beautiful crushed masterpieces. “What if Ma and Pop find out? You know how careful they try to be with money, after that tall street out east fell,” Jimmy’s voice whined. Sweat dripped from his forehead, down his cheeks, and onto his upper lip. His pink tongue captured the saltiness, as he watched his older sister run
along the tracks. Luke mocked his younger brother, “A street can’t fall, you dimwit.” “That’s what Pop said!” Mara ignored them both. She had never seen that street, but she had seen beautiful crushed copper coins. She knew what mattered. The sound of the approaching train knolled in the background. No one paid any attention. The coins must be perfectly centered. Just so. No, a little to the left. It will fall off if you don’t pull it closer. There. Perfect. Mara skipped down the track’s centered planks, laughing at her brothers as they wrestled in the grass. She tripped, catching her shoelace on something. She knew she shouldn’t have worn shoes today. They were such a hindrance. She struggled to pull away. Nothing. She tried to slip her foot out of her shoe, but it was jammed beneath the lip of the steel track, holding her down with its brute Bessemer strength. Like jaws. Mara’s eyes moved from her brothers, to the coins, to that black beast all too quickly approaching. Back to the coins. The sun caught them just perfectly, glowing golden, almost red—fire burning holes in the steel. The wind pushed one to the side, so that it wobbled precariously on the edge. It fell. She tried to reach it, to save it. Nothing. Tried. The train was fast. Her heart clawed its way up her throat. Endeavoring to find a way out. A split second. A broken breath. Screeching metal. Shouting. A glaring light. Blackness. Smothered voices. Terror. Silence. The next thing she remembered was a bright light above her head, as blinding as the first snowfall. The sound of weeping permeated the background. If it hadn’t been for that weeping, she would have sworn that she was in Heaven. “At least she’s alive,” her father’s voice said drearily. “What good’s that gonna to do her? She’ll never be able to do anythin’ agin,” her mother sobbed. “She will definitely survive,” sounded an unfamiliar voice. Mara cracked her eyes open. Alien creatures, in white coats and masks, glared down at her. The masks were white cups which moved up and down in rhythm with
Living Waters Review
each other: deflate, inflate, deflate, inflate. Two gray saucers, fringed with eyelashes, peeked out from above. But they never looked in her eyes, always down, somewhere around her feet. Her heart pounded like a savage drum in her chest. She needed to escape, to run. But her legs. They wouldn’t move. She couldn’t remember how to move her legs—or how to feel them. Poun-ding. In her chest. Poun-ding. In her neck. Poun-ding. In her head. Stomach. Arms. But her legs were silent. “Oh God, why us?” Her mother’s voice, with its heavy Oklahoma accent smothered the silence like sheets and sheets of dust. “Our Mouse shoulda died. The doctor said so.” “But she dinnit.” “But she should have.” A cry like a roar escaped her mother’s lips. “What was she doin’ out there anyway? She knew we didn’t like them to go there. The tracks are never safe. Plus, there’s work to be done. She should have been doin’ her chores. Then she would be safe. I shoulda paid more ‘tention. What were we thinkin’ having nine kids? How will we take care of them all and the farm? The gov’ament’s gonna take the old place. It was my mother’s. Now she’ll never amount to anything. What good can someone like that do? Tell me? What good?!” Her voice broke off, like the corn stalks in our field when the great dusty gusts arose, as though from the earth’s mysterious core. Mara tried to speak, tried to comfort, but her tongue was lead in her mouth; so heavy that she feared it might slip down her throat and gag her. Why did Mama doubt her? She usually got her chores done... sometimes, at least. Was Mama angry about the pennies? They were only pennies. What was the deal? Mara hoped that the coins had crushed nicely. She wanted to make a necklace of them. The gray-eyed alien spoke, silencing her mother, “The amputations are healing well. If you get prosthetic limbs no one will ever know… about your daughter’s… condition.” “This innit a ‘condition!’ My little girl has no legs!” The world lapsed into bitter night once more. * * * Mara returned to the present and peered at the stranger on the bench. The children’s laughter in the background had quieted. Recess was over.
“You see, my daddy was the train conductor,” came the broken voice. “I know he would beg for forgiveness if he were still alive. I’ve never forgotten about you, all these years.” “Oh, I’m quite fond of my girls.” Mara winked, patting her legs. “Just about the only thing I can’t do is wiggle my toes.” The stranger shuddered, despite her decorum, as she imagined the hideous stumps hidden beneath the beautiful purple jacket. Mara laughed. “How can you laugh? My father ruined your life.” Mara said nothing, and the stranger cringed with heavy shoulders. She tried to change the subject, “I like sitting here by the school. I like the children’s voices as they play and laugh. I never had children, you see.” “I’m sorry,” said Mara. “I suppose we’re the same on that point.” “Actually, I have children.” The stranger thought that Mara was pulling her leg. “I see. How many?” Mara watched the red leaves swirl about her wooden ankles, as though they were searching for a tree to reattach themselves to. Her reply was truncated by distraction, “For…ty.” “Forty children?” “Give or take…” Mara gave a dentured grin. Prosthetic limbs weren’t her only falsies! “Oh, I see.” The stranger was blind with confusion. “Do they live nearby?” “Oh, no! They’re all in Kenya.” “I see.” The legless woman smoothed the folds of her coat, her downturned face dimpling as she breathed in the sweet aroma of confusion. “After my husband and I eloped, we moved to Kenya.” “…You eloped?” The stranger inched away, sure that she was dealing with an insane asylum escapee. This poor, wooden-legged being, also had a dried-up wooden brain. “Can’t a legless girl have some excitement?” Mara pounded her limbs, eyes gleaming. “I just had to keep everyone on their toes! Couldn’t live up to the prophecies about me staying here in Oklahoma all my life in a wheelchair, now could I?” “I’ve never left Oklahoma…” the stranger sighed. She had had dreams of her own once. “You see, my grandfa-
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Short Story 72
ther’s store needed to be looked after… I had to pay for college… I was the first woman in my family to graduate…. I had to earn money, get a job, you see. I couldn’t let myself go to waste. I had a good job… until I was fired. They said I couldn’t be a wife and a blue-collar. Then I had to take care of my husband. He never was in the best condition… He died last spring, you see. Besides, everywhere seemed so far away… My house was fine—safe.” “Were you happy there?” asked Mara, she pulled her colorful coat tightly around her body, gaining warmth more from memory than insulation. “It was the prettiest house on the block, with its blue shutters and the climbing ivy! Two stories! It had a little winding walkway out front… You lived in Africa?” Mara smiled, a twinge of sympathy lighting her hooded eyes. “Yes, in village called Elim, in a humdinger of a home. Our kids made it for us. The walls were mud and rocks, with some sturdy branches which usually held up ginst the rainy season. And when the rains washed away the mud, we just got more. The nice thing about mud is that it’s free. The cracks in the roof kept the place from being completely dark—very useful. And I never had to bother sweepin’ the floor. It’s crazy to sweep a dirt floor!” “I see…” “Every mornin’ our children would wait outside our door, calling out, ‘Mama Mara! Mama Mara! Kutuambia juu ya mtu yule akatembea juu ya maji. Moja ambao kulishwa watu wote pamoja na mkate na samaki kidogo tu! Kutuambia tena!—Tell us about that man who walked on water. The one who fed all those people with only a little bread and fish! Tell us again!’” “But they weren’t your children,” stated the stranger, trying to understand. The schoolyard flooded with round faces and bright eyes, laughing and squabbling over the sound of the final bell. A little copper-skinned boy ran past, his legs kicking up dust and leaves. By the time Mara answered, the stranger had nearly forgotten her words. She was too busy listening to the creaking of the nursing home sign as the sounds of children died down. “Not by blood, but they were in spirit.” “I see.” Mara’s smile cracked with memory. Her eyes moved with the copper-skinned boy. “Goodness, my life has been whole!”
The stranger defensively retorted, “Oh yes, mine too.” “If I hadn’t lost my legs, I never woulda been weak enough to push myself to find true strength—strength not of myself.” Mara’s eyes were sweet as they savored an inner hope. “I see… I do wish my daddy could have met you. You would have given him such peace.” “What’s your name?” asked Mara. “Mrs. Penniton—Ruth.” “Such a lovely name! Names tell so much about people, dun’t you think?” Ruth shrugged. “I suppose I don’t see.” She returned to rubbing her legs, brows furrowed in thought, while her heart was needing, needing the peace the legless woman had.
Living Waters Review
The Far-Off Dock Johnny Hedger
Fragments of light, broken water
We lie in puddles of our own dreams,
in the middle of a dark and still night.
intoxicated with thought and
Our expressions evolve and dissolve and grow golden again
consumed by the sound of
as a fish flips atop a clear-crested wave.
tree-frogs chirping, waves breaking,
The stars are faint and few, but old as eternity.
and stars exploding in silent reverie.
We reach out to touch the infinity before us,
One shoots over the black canvas sky,
wondering and wandering through black sky and opaque air
chasing after the setting sun,
that lies heavy in our lungs
and we feel its breeze lightly adjust the feeling in our faces.
after a black cherry pipe and sea-salt breeze.
Its reflection in the water mirrors the sight and my eyes follow the trail
Legs dangle off the dock,
as it quickly disappears in a trickle of dust,
Over iridescent days past and diluted dreams
like the tide leaving a forgotten shore.
planted in the place where the earth-line sneaks away and greets another world where the sun is just rising.
A creak and groan from the beams beneath our bones
Hearts pump and thump to a slower tune than the mind
bridges our eyes to our bodies.
Its lull is in the waves,
and in a softer melody than morning’s hum,
and its strength in our spines.
we find rest, while the rest of the world seems far and inanimate.
Six wooden pilings, crumbling and splintered, rise as ancient sentinels.
Few feet above the water—
We lie on our backs, buckled by gravity,
where sage-snook are tricked by lure and bait,
while gardening galaxies with rummaging eyes.
and men rejoice at the cunning of their transient trophies that fade into the caverns of a forgotten memory.
We are birds without wings in a cage made of stars —the five of us— as we drift on the dock-cradle amidst the muck-thick water into the arms of a sleep-inducing dream.
Wing Wenfield Georges
from time to time when the wind picks up, I gather chiffon sheets to rise up on the sand dune, my substitute mountain, and fly with every pulse of air, I am an upâ€” tornadoes and typhoons
and the wind that takes the storm away
74 I am the smoke rising from the storytellerâ€™s fire, the latent sound of fury hissing past the motorcyclist, the exhaust from the flight of bumblebees I am feathers but even feathers in their descent seem to exist on a higher plane, carefully traversing down a trellis of currents to their final resting place onto peat and fossils it is finished
Living Waters Review
The Allure of Summer’s Sounds Mimi Van der Grift
Swinging hummingbirds drink their wine and dance this tune to melted June as water drowns in the cooling sounds drumming to the beat of that air machinery. I listen… to the singing layers of this swimming melody waking me from my dream where I wish I was eating ice cream. Oh Florida Summer, you are dressed in beams of brights and mist. Please go away and come again in late December’s kiss.
My Birds Alicia Stamm
Living Waters Review
Digital Revolution Christopher Jensen
it started simply enough, but things can always be simpler. at least, that’s what they told us at the outset: 1 and 1 is 2 for now, but 2 is 10, and 10 are all we’ll ever need. surrounded by the ubiquitous 01110011011010000110100101110100 that has become the most hallowed of our values, we’ve learned to waste away and content ourselves with the revolution we so happily began.
by 2020, we’ll have learned
to fully quantify the untold yottabytes in the ample mind drive of this most modern god, and i’m positive that by 2030, we’ll finally have a binary ethics for every situation. this is the collective sigh of generations past, an exhale of relief in light of our great simplification. may our children remember the ancient rites we revered. may they learn love from their backlit brain screens while we resign to languish on worn couches, wondering if heaven really cares when digital sparrows fall.
Hunting Woods James A. Carter III
Short Story 78
o get to the hunting woods, we must drive ten miles to the Reid place where the widow lets my grandfather graze his cows. At her place, there are seas of stubble grass and briers and fences. The truck doesn’t even warm up until after we get there. My grandfather says to me, “Get the gate.” I can see my breath making snakes in the headlights while I fumble with the lock on the gate in the cold. The chain is wrapped tight so the cows won’t get out, but I finally manage it and climb back into the Ford where it is warm and it is light. We pull past the gate and he asks me a question: “What time you wanna knock off ?” Right now, I think. It’s too early and it is the last Saturday of November, and even my father is sleeping. “Whenever you want,” I say, acting more excited than I feel. “I don’t have to be home for anything particular.” I smile and he spits into a red Solo cup on his dashboard. The 20-gauge Remington shotgun is next to me, pointing down into the floorboard, covered with the jacket my father let me borrow. The wooden handle of the gun shows around the vinyl of the jacket. He drives the Ford down the two well-worn tire tracks with grass growing wild on both sides. The headlights of the truck show snatches of small oak trees and scrub. It is too cold even for the bugs that usually flit in the beams of the headlights. When we get to the spot, my grandfather turns off the headlights and puts the Ford in park. He opens his door and the cold rushes in.
“Well. Git cher gun.” We walk a few minutes on the sandy path to the tree where the stand is. But before I climb, he will remind me of things that I already know: the safety is on the left. I should put the butt far into my armpit. Don’t shoot if it ain’t got horns—because the Ivy boys got caught two weeks ago shootin’ at a dummy doe, and now their daddy cain’t be a deacon no more. When he finishes, he fishes around in one of his deep jacket pockets and pulls out a handful of shotgun shells, each one heavier than the last. They are red and yellow, and I think the twist in the plastic on the end is like a whirlpool, even though I know I have never seen one in real life. “This here,” he whispers (and I can see his breath, too) “is shot.” He holds up a thick red shell. “If you’re close, it’s gon’ hit ‘eem. But I cain’t say fer sure it’s gon’ kill ‘eem. This one here,” he palms the red one and holds up a yellow, “is a slug. It ain’t shot so it don’t spread—it’s just one big fat piece of metal. But if you kin hit ‘eem, you better believe you gon’ kill ‘eem.” He laughs a little under his breath. I laugh a little under my breath, too. My grandfather hands me the pile of shells, and I put the red-and-yellow group into my jacket pocket. I will not load my gun until after I climb the tree stand—I guess it’s safer that way. My grandfather points to a spot in the dark across the tire track road and says, “I’ll be right there, lookin at the same stuff you’re lookin’ at. Now if you see somethin’, (and I ain’t sayin we will, but if we do) I wont you to take the first shot. You ain’t got a deer before’n I wont you to go home with somethin’ today. So don’t wait on me. If it’s got horns, shoot ‘eem.” “Yessir.” I zip up my father’s jacket and turn to climb the metal tree stand. It leans against an oak older than my last name and it seems sturdy. The rungs are cold like the metal of the gun barrel, but I know there is a seat at the top. It even has a cushion where I can watch the woods wake up. Armadillos are the worst part of Florida scrub in the winter because of the way they crash around in the woods. I used to think that every armadillo just had to be a hog to be that loud. But, other than the armadillos, I guess everything wakes up slow. The birds, even the birds, have to wake up when the sun does (but I can’t imagine a time when the birds are asleep). The squirrels get up a little while after the birds, and they shake the limbs with their games and I hope
Living Waters Review
that they don’t scare away the deer. But the deer are used to the squirrels probably, and once the sun breaks, I can see a bunch of doe deer out feeding in the open field in front of us. I know that my grandfather can see them, too. Now we watch them together. There are five, and one is always looking up to check. She knows it is dangerous to feed in the open, but we are well hidden among the trees. We don’t use any deer call or special smell or dogs to run the deer. We just wait. But waiting goes a lot faster when the deer make their way so slow across the field. At this time in the morning, the light is always changing, getting brighter every minute and dad says my eyes don’t have time to adjust. The shapes of trees and stumps and moss become little gnomes or dogs or deer. The trick is not to let yourself be tricked. Eventually the doe deer move into the woods far away from us on the other side, and I guess that now is a good time to load my gun. I flick the release, and the shotgun breaks in the middle so I can see the empty chamber: a big gray metal O with the woods at the end. I unzip my father’s jacket and pull out one of the heavy shells. This one is yellow with dark lead in the middle—a slug. In the first light of the morning, I turn it in my fingers and see the whirlpool twist on the cap. The thick plastic all pinches into the middle to seal in the metal piece. I push the yellow slug into the open chamber. The shotgun gives a satisfying click when I close it. The safety is on. In the tree stand, my mind always wanders. I used to get scared and think what if a bear came and my gun jammed or what if I see a ghost, but my grandfather is close enough to hear me and I know that he doesn’t see ghosts. So I begin to think about school and television and Christmas. Soon, I will be out of school and then I can wake up whenever I want. Maybe then dad will be out of work too and we can drive down to the limerock pits in Perry and hunt for arrowheads that the Cherokees left behind. We won’t even have to come back early because “it’s a school night.” My father has a box of arrowheads in his top dresser drawer. I found some, too. Sometimes, I wonder if there are any arrowheads out here in the widow’s woods, but then I remember that the Cherokee probably didn’t use to come out here. They were probably very busy in the limerock pits in Perry, making fires and dancing and chanting to come down here. There is a rusty pile of barbed wire grown over with
weeds and vines right off the road. Now, I see three horns sticking into the air above the pile. While I wait for the buck to come out on the other side, I hold my breath and I can feel all of the blood pushing on my ears. Everything drags out and my chest hurts and I imagine that maybe I just imagined it or maybe he stopped to eat or something when his neck twists around the barbed wire. His head is facing my oak and his long purple tongue curls out to lick the fence. On his head are many horns but his body is hidden behind the pile. I try to catch my grandfather’s eye, but he is well-hidden on the ground. I can imagine what he wants me to do. My eyes go quick back to the pile of wire and the deer is still walking out slow. Even slower than he walks, I pick up my shotgun. Quieter than the birds, I flick off the safety. As strong as I guess my father would, I push the butt of the shotgun into my right armpit and stare down the sight. My arms don’t hurt from not moving and it’s not cold anymore and the light might even be done changing. The buck has not seen me or heard me and now I am as still as the tree behind me—I wait on him. When he has come all the way out from behind the pile, I can see that he is big and that he is close enough for me to hit. He is closer to my grandfather, but my grandfather will not take the first shot. I remember to breathe all the way in and let half of the breath out. I close my left eye and press my right cheek against the gun. I don’t pull the trigger. To pull the trigger means to raise the barrel. Instead, I squeeze the trigger. Two shots and my ears are ringing. Two shots and the squirrels and birds and armadillos have frozen in the woods. Two shots and the great buck quivers and drops into the bloodiest sand I’ve ever seen. I try to imagine that he did not crash into the rusty tangle of weeds and barbed wire but I can’t pretend now. I close my eyes and wait for my ears to stop ringing and I can hear my grandfather shouting. No, he is not shouting—he’s cheering. He is cheering words but I can’t translate. I think he is cheering that it is dead and there will be venison tonight and it is an 8-point, son! I climb down the tree stand, just as cold as before I saw the thing, and my grandfather’s great camouflaged belly is bouncing toward me. The grin on his face is too greedy but I try to match it. He leads me over to the body. Up close, the scene is even a little worse. Near the neck the light fur
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Short Story 80
is riddled with shot. There are tiny tacky blood spots sticking up through the fur. My eyes scour the body, looking for the bigger entrance wound that my slug would make. Underneath, the fur is crawling with the black bugs I know to be ticks. The ticks crawl all over the deer, even down to the legs where the hair doesn’t grow. My grandfather is happy because the deer dropped so quickly. Through the cold-water shock of the deer up close, I realize that if I looked all day at that pitiful creature I would never find the place where my slug punched through. I can’t imagine how to bring it up. “How do we know who hit him, then?” I ask real casual. “What?” he is distracted by the size of the deer and the number of points on his rack. “Well, I reckon we both did, son! He was close enough to kill eem with a rock!” He laughs and I laugh, too. We throw the dead weight carcass into the bed of the Ford with the spare fence posts and the come-along and
the silver toolbox. The deer is so big (8 points, son!) that we have to bend the head and the legs to make him fit. My grandfather says that it is so lucky that I should get such a big deer for my first. While we drive back to the widow’s house, I look at the deer through the back window. In my head, he is still alive and just lying on the ground and licking the water off a leaf or something. There is no sand or blood or toolbox. Now we’re riding in a Ford pickup with my “first kill” still warm in the bed, and my mind just keeps wandering. I guess sadness always comes with the first kill. Maybe I’m too young to understand. I wonder if my grandmother will put the venison in a soup or fry it up like pork chops. I keep asking myself if it is too late to tell my grandfather that I was not shooting what he was shooting. I did not bring that deer down. My slug is probably still buried in the sand twenty feet from where that deer dropped.
Living Waters Review
A Good Day Hannah Speiller
When I was nine, my father took me on the train. We walked all the way to the station, and the walk was long. He clung to my coat collar, pulling me through the sea of giants onto the 7 train, and he found me a seat. It must’ve been a magical seat because it appeared from out of nowhere, but he was always doing magical things like that when I was nine. I twirled about to face the window and watched as the city sites blended together, making an endless painting. And when the train leaned, we leaned too
until it lurched
and stopped to let more giants on. And I told my daddy it was hot with all those giants in there, and he nodded his head and said yes, it was hot. “Hot enough to make ice cream melt, Daddy.” “Hot enough to make the wicked witch melt, Toots.” With another lurch, he took my hand and we squeezed our way off that train and away from those giants. That was a good day.
Messenger David Bley
Living Waters Review
Daycare Kelsey Satalino
ustice! There you are.” Senior Librarian Jacqueline Hayes looked up from cleaning tambourines and plastic maracas to see a scruffy two-year-old gnawing on the edge of a book, covered in streaks of red and blue crayon. Jackie dropped a maraca and rushed to the child. The boy’s father was struggling to pry a broken green crayon from the child’s grasp. “I’m sorry,” he said, handing a wet box of crayons to Jackie. “I only left him alone for two minutes while I went across the street to get some coffee, and, well…” “I’m not here to watch your children,” said Jackie, gently prying the book from the toddler’s mouth. Justice cried, beating Jackie’s leg with his tiny fists. She gritted her teeth. The library was not a free daycare service. Every day, Jackie was confronted with people who were not aware of this fact. Instead of paying for an after-school babysitter, people would send their children to the library until they could pick them up after work. Others would drop their kids off so they could run errands without the extra distraction. Jackie surveyed the chaotic remnants of story time and sighed. Carpet-ground glitter and strewn paper didn’t bother her nearly as much as the glue-stained books shoved hastily on top of shelves. It emphasized the assumption that books, like crafts, were just paper and glue. Inevitably, story time was always a trial. And Rick had come down with the flu, so she’d had to stand in for him this morning. It had been a disaster, and Justice had been the least of it. When she had handed out musical instruments for sing-
along time, one of the boys had stolen a cute little girl’s tambourine. “Purple is for girls,” the boy had complained, looking at his instrument in disgust. “I want blue. Here, she can have mine.” He dropped the purple tambourine on the girl’s head and wrenched a blue one out of her hands. “Stop it, Grayson,” his mother had scolded, as the little girl scrunched up her face and cried. “You don’t take things from people.” “Grayson,” Jackie had said, “That wasn’t nice. Please give the tambourine back.” “No. She can have mine.” “If you don’t give it back, I’m going to have to ask you to leave. We share here. You could have just asked me for a different color.” When he seemed unresponsive, Jackie gently pried the instrument out of the boy’s grasp. “Now, apologize to Ms. Hayes,” said his mother. “Sorry,” he said with a sneer. Grayson pouted and sat down in the far corner of the room, angrily playing with a toy truck. Jackie had given the girl back her instrument and apologized to her mother, but the child had cried for half an hour, a high pitched wail that had grated at the area just behind Jackie’s temples. Despite the more-than-recommended dose of ibuprofen she had ingested afterward, the headache had stayed with her all day. As if that weren’t enough, someone had left the door of the library open, letting in the baking Florida air. Jackie had closed the door when she realized it was open, but only after the heat had penetrated the entire building. Absently rubbing at a glue stain on the collar of her pink blouse, Jackie grabbed a metal cart from behind the circulation desk and set out to gather stray books off the floor. She wondered if she’d find any more books missing today. It was the strangest thing. For two months now, random children’s books had just started disappearing. It had been a couple of weeks before Jackie had noticed it. She remembered looking up a book in the catalogue for an elderly woman and her grandson—an easy reader about gravity—and not being able to find it anywhere on the shelves. She had marked it up to petty theft; people sometimes stole books from the library. It happened. Jackie had apologized profusely to the woman and the little boy, and had directed them instead to the section of beginner mystery books. She didn’t let on how much the theft un-
Short Story 83
Short Story 84
nerved her. The disappearances hadn’t stopped there. The next day, Jackie had encountered the same problem. And again the following week. At first, she thought it was just poor organization—kids never put anything back where it belonged—and had chastised the volunteers for not keeping on top of the shelf reading. Clearly, they were slacking on the job, and she was the one getting in trouble for it. Jackie had stayed after hours multiple times to painstakingly realphabetize every shelf in the children’s section, but to no avail. Her supervisor, Patricia, had been making increasingly less subtle remarks about her lack of responsibility for the past two weeks. It wasn’t as if Jackie didn’t watch the patrons carefully, but some of these kids were devious. How was she supposed to keep an eye on all of them at once? Frustrated, she had put up signs all over the children’s section, warning parents to check their children for pilfered items before they left the library, but the books kept going, and Jackie began to wonder if there was a greater force at work in the library. Shaking her head, Jackie vowed to stop drinking so much coffee; the caffeine must be getting to her. Her mother had nagged her about giving the stuff up for years. It was addicting, she’d said. Jackie would get dependent on it and get caffeine headaches and never be able to sleep at night. Plus, she’d spill it all over her clothes. She should be more careful. Her patrons would think she looked unprofessional. But Jackie had always cared more about the judgments of her books than those of the people who read them. Less coffee was not going to change that. Groaning at the throbbing pain in her head, Jackie focused her thoughts on shelving books. She’d normally be glad to lose herself in the task, but her headache made it hard to concentrate on even such a mindless ritual. So, ten minutes later, when Jackie had just gotten through the ‘U’ books, she wasn’t in the mood to help a woman and her daughter find an apparently nonexistent copy of Oh, the Places You’ll Go. “You have got to be kidding me,” the librarian muttered, fruitlessly scanning shelf after shelf of laminated paperbacks. “We’ve been having quite a few books go missing lately.” Jackie smiled forcedly at the little girl who was sucking on the end of a blonde pigtail, and went back to shelving books. As soon as the pair had left, Jackie regretted her
abruptness. It wasn’t their fault that she was having such a bad day. Or that the books kept going missing, despite her most concentrated efforts. She was going to have to inform Patricia. Jackie shoved a book onto the metal shelf with a muffled clang, grimacing at the thought of telling her stern supervisor about the latest theft. Patricia would probably lecture her on her “absentmindedness” again, with that severe, disappointed look on her wrinkled face. Though Jackie was nearly thirty-five and had been working at the library for ten years, that woman still made her feel like a disobedient child. However, that was hardly this patron’s fault. Jackie got up to apologize to the woman, but she didn’t see her or the little girl anywhere. Glancing around to make sure no one was waiting to be helped, Jackie darted toward the door of the library, self-consciously flattening her frizzing black hair. She didn’t see them in the parking lot either. She turned to go back inside, when a flash of white caught her attention. Maybe it was a stray animal. A lost kitten, a raccoon, or a squirrel. Jackie’s heels crunched softly as she treaded across the mulch and past the bushes she believed the creature was hiding behind. She imagined it had scurried around the corner of the building when it had heard her coming. The library was surrounded on two sides by a heavily wooded area. Often, stray animals would venture out of the forest into the parking lot. Perhaps this animal had sought refuge among the trees. Having reached the forest area, Jackie peered past the first row of trees, looking about for any sign of movement. The leaves of a beech tree twitched slightly, and Jackie thought she heard breathing. Curious, she peered around the trunk, finding a small clearing in the woods. She breathed slowly as she bent over, so as not to disturb the wild creature, only to find someone who was not a wild creature at all. Sitting amid a semicircle of stacked and dog-eared books was a boy of about thirteen or fourteen. He was gangly and thin, with disheveled brown hair, and tan skin that you could hardly see through all the dirt and sweat. His shirt was probably all-white at some point. Now it was stained, and his jeans were torn at the knee. Most intriguing of all, though, was the mountain of books that surrounded the boy. He had constructed a fort out of books; everything from hard covers to soft covers, Nancy Drew to Dr. Seuss. There didn’t seem to be any particular pattern behind the books chosen, except that they were all chil-
Living Waters Review
dren’s books, with cringe-worthy smudges on their spines. The small figure was huddled in a ball in the middle of his fortress, struggling through a copy of Where the Sidewalk Ends. He didn’t notice her. Jackie stood in shock for a moment. She had no idea how no one had noticed the boy before. Apparently, no one ever ventured beyond the first row of trees. Or perhaps he moved around every couple of days, to avoid detection. One thing was for sure, though: she knew where her missing books had gone. But what should she do about it? The angry retort she had planned was discarded immediately. Jackie was furious, yes, and frustrated by her own inability to catch the culprit in the act, but she couldn’t bring herself to yell at this kid. Something about the boy, the melancholy look in his grey eyes or the defensive curling of his spine, inspired pity in the librarian. She couldn’t just leave him here, though. His parents were probably missing him. He looked like he’d been on his own for quite some time. At least two months, she’d say, judging by the disappearance of her books. She decided to try to talk to the boy when her phone began vibrating loudly. Jackie quickly attempted to shut it off, but the boy stood up, startled, at the first sound. He made as if to run away, but Jackie held out her hand to stop him. “Please, don’t go,” she said, checking her phone. It was her boyfriend, Seth. She ignored the call. “I’m not going to get you in trouble. I want to help, okay?” The boy nodded warily, scowling and holding the bright white paperback in front of him like a shield. “I know you’ve been taking books from the library. I’m not going to turn you in. But you know you can’t do that, right?” The boy pressed his lips together defiantly, and stared at her with unblinking eyes. “You know that, right?” Jackie glanced around, but no one was nearby to assist her. She tucked her hair behind her ear. “It’s stealing.” “Borrowing,” the boy said. “I was borrowing. There’s a big difference.” “If you want to borrow, you need a library card. And you shouldn’t be leaving books in the dirt like this. They don’t belong to you.” Jackie shook her head. “Are your parents here? Do they know you’ve been taking books?” “No. I don’t have any parents.” “None?” Jackie fidgeted with the charm bracelet on her
wrist, suddenly feeling that she had clasped it too tightly when she put it on this morning. The boy didn’t move. “What’s your name?” She berated herself for not asking for it earlier. “Will.” “Okay, Will. I’m Jackie. Does your family know you’re here?” “They don’t care about me.” Outwardly, he seemed small and fragile, but his eyes were steel. “I’m sure they’re just doing what they think is best.” “You don’t understand.” Jackie was sure she didn’t. She glanced about, wishing for someone to come and tell her what to say to this boy. “Have you talked to them about why you’re upset with them?” “Yeah, and they just say I’m rebellious. What do they know?” “Well, maybe they should do some things differently, but maybe you should be willing to compromise, too. Have you tried seeing a counselor? It might help you work some of this out. I can call your parents and have them pick you up, and you can work this out. I’m sure they’ll be anxious to see you.” “I’m not going back,” Will spat. “And I don’t need a shrink. I just want a life. My parents just want me to sit back and do the ‘right thing’ and not have any fun.” He grimaced, scraping the sole of his sneaker back and forth in the dirt. “Why are you reading children’s books?” Will tensed. “What’s it to you? So I like kids’ books. So what?” His eyes scanned the ground intently. “Why am I even listening to you?” And he began to walk away. “Wait! Please!” The boy paused, turning around to sneer at Jackie. “There’s nothing wrong with reading them,” she added quickly. “There are some good kids’ books. I’m nearly forty and I still read Shel Silversteen sometimes. Then again, I am a librarian.” Her feeble laughter seemed to sink into the soil. She had not signed up for this job. Will stared, his eyes seemingly empty. “I’m not dumb,” Will said, “just because I don’t do my homework and I skip school a lot. No one would think to look for me here. Will, the screw-up, at a library.” He laughed darkly, glancing at the pile of books behind him. “Some of these actually aren’t half bad, you know. I
Short Story 85
Short Story 86
just hate those idiotic teachers that make you learn about geometry or who signed the Declaration of Independence. They’re so stuck up; they think they know everything. Well, I’m done with that now. Why do I need to know about dead people anyway?” “You should give them a chance. It’s important to get a good education. You can go back to school, learn to read better. It’s never too late.” Will scoffed. “You have to say that.” “I—can’t you just try to work things out?” Jackie sighed. “Look, how about you come inside? We can return these books and clean them off together. I’ll get you a library card. Then we can talk about your family.” “They’re not my family.” “Look, I’m sure you have your differences, but they wouldn’t be taking care of you if they didn’t love you.” Jackie backed up unconsciously. “Maybe we should call the police,” she suggested. “I’m sure your parents have contacted them by now. They can notify your family that you’re all right. We can work this out.” Jackie thought that sounded like the responsible thing to do, if it was a bit cliché. Her despised thief was not supposed to be a troubled fourteen-year-old. No one had ever given her a manual for this type of situation. “You don’t know what you’re doing,” Will spat. “You’re scared of me.” He grinned cruelly and took a step closer. “You want to help me? Leave me alone. If you call the police, I’ll be gone before they can get here.” “Jackie? Jackie!” She whipped her head around, searching for the source of the faint yell. Will twitched nervously, but maintained his position. The voice got louder. A man appeared, making his way through the foliage. “There you are! I’ve been looking all over for you!” Will jerked back, staring at the tall man. Seeming to weigh his options, Will began to back away, holding up his hands in surrender. “Why are you all the way out here?” the man asked. “Aren’t you working?” He glanced at Will. “Who’s the kid?” “Seth,” Jackie sighed in relief. “Thank goodness you’re here.” “Is everything all right?” Seth asked. “And what’s with the books? What’s going on?” Will had backed up to the chain-link fence that cut through the woods, marking the end of the library’s
property. Wiping dirt and sweat off his forehead with the back of his hand, he said, “Nothing’s going on here. I was just returning some library books.” With that, Will vaulted himself over the fence and onto the brush on the other side. “You’re all the same,” he muttered, and took off at a run, still clutching the stolen book. Seth and Jackie watched him run, without slowing down, not looking back even once at the couple. Jackie wavered, torn between the urge to hop the fence and the desire to head back to the library and never look back. She settled for holding her breath until Will had disappeared behind a cluster of trees. The librarian exhaled, belatedly remembering that her boyfriend was there. “It’s okay, Seth,” she said, a little frazzled. “He’s gone now.” Jackie brushed off her khakis absently, still looking out past the fence. “At least I found the missing books; that’s the important thing. Though who knows what condition they’re in—” “It’s not okay,” Seth interrupted. “What was that kid playing at?” He turned to Jackie. “I was coming to visit you at work, but you didn’t answer your phone when I called to tell you. What happened?” “I’m fine,” Jackie said. “And he’s been stealing books from the library.” “Is that what these are? Do you want me to call the police?” “No, no. He’s just a kid. And he seems…conflicted.” Jackie shrugged. “I don’t know.” He shook his head. “Come on, you should get back inside. Maybe take a break for a while. You look like you’ve just had a shock.” “Yeah, I need to get back to work. I left the desk unattended. Patricia’s mad at me often enough as it is. And I need to get these books inside.” Grabbing a stack of paperbacks, the couple walked back through the trees to the cracked sidewalk. A silver sedan pulled into a parking spot; a bluebird chirped, circling for a perch on a nearby palm tree; a young girl in a yellow sundress sucked morosely on a lollipop while her father sat on a bench making a phone call. Life as usual, Jackie thought, as she pushed open the big wooden doors. She kissed Seth goodbye. “Thanks for coming to visit,” she said, “but I think I just need to get back to work and try to focus on something.” “I still think you should take off. But if you’re sure…” “I’m sure. Thanks for everything.” She hugged him
Living Waters Review
quickly. “And I’m sorry to cut your visit short. I’ll call you later, okay?” He nodded, and Jackie headed back to the children’s section, where she could privately assess the damage the boy had inflicted. Within minutes, Patricia called Jackie back to her office, scolding her for leaving the library. A whole crowd of people had come to check out books, but Jackie couldn’t be found anywhere. It looked bad for the library. Besides, kids needed supervision, and you couldn’t trust their parents to watch them. Jackie didn’t tell her supervisor what had happened. She couldn’t. It was weird enough telling Seth, and she hadn’t even told him everything. The whole encounter felt like something out of an adventure novel, like she was the protagonist and this event was a catalyst for a grand escapade. She would help the boy, and together they’d go out and make things right. He’d scare her at first, but eventually her consistent caring would cause him to rethink his violent ways. And she’d be patient; if what he said was true, he’d grown up without a stable family. Psychologists always talked about how orphans and foster kids had emotional problems because they didn’t develop trustworthy relationships at an impressionable age. She’d recommend a counselor, and she and the foster parents would talk things over. She’d get them to adopt him officially, or maybe she’d even adopt him herself. Will would do better in school, and life would be better for him, if not perfect. But he had run away, and real life wasn’t the stuff of fantastic stories. Besides, Jackie didn’t want children, drama, adventure, or anything like that. She had a nice life, a steady job that she liked, a wonderful mother and a boyfriend that cared about her. So, when Patricia asked what had happened, Jackie made her excuses—she had felt nauseous and dizzy and had stepped outside to get some fresh air— and went back to her desk to prepare for the after-school rush. She’d bring the rest of the books in later, though she cringed at the thought of leaving them abandoned in the bushes. As Jackie swept cracker crumbs into the garbage can, she wondered what would happen to the boy. He probably wouldn’t make it on his own. Did he feel lonely now, or would he find someone else to help him? Would he get himself in trouble? Would his family ever find him? She’d tried to help him, but there was nothing she could do. He was probably lying anyway. Jackie shook her head, glancing critically at her
reflection in the dark computer screen before her. As she reapplied her pink coral lip gloss, she wondered how long she should wait before sneaking out to grab those books. Florida weather was temperamental, after all; it might rain at any moment, or the humidity might warp the pages. Perhaps Will would come back for them, and then she’d have a second chance to talk to him. Part of her hoped he wouldn’t. Jackie stared out the window. Through the dusty plastic blinds, she could almost make out a flash of white. It was gone before she even realized it was there; she had probably just imagined it. Could it be? She debated getting up, going outside to investigate for herself. But then the first group of giggling second graders traipsed into the library, clutching bottles of soda and plastic lunchboxes, and Jackie shook the thought from her head, prepared to do her job. “No food or drinks in the library!” Where were these kids’ parents? Really, some people treated the library as if it were some kind of daycare service. As Jackie got up from her desk, she caught another glimpse of the window out of the corner of her eye. She hesitated. She would need to go get those books. Jackie turned to the second graders who were staring at her with guilty smiles. “Be good for a minute, okay?” she said. “I’ll be back in five minutes. And those drinks had better be gone when I get back.” Who knew what could happen to those books if they were left alone for too long? She smiled. Somebody might just read them.
Short Story 87
A World that is Mine Erin Welsh
Paint me a world that is mine, where the canvas is molded from copper prairie clay. Sponge the nectar of the goldenrod across the sky and speckle the carpet with river moss. Baptize your brush in the icy falls, then
dribble the song of the yellow-bellied meadowlark. Waft the humid stench of sweet corn under the nose of whitetail does. Squeeze a single, milky tear from golden poppies to taste the passion of far off lands. If the valleys hug the peaks, can the oceans reach as well? Or must I break my canvas into pieces to feel the kiss of what I knew or what is now? Paint me a world that is mine, where the canvas is dipped in all the colors that I know.
Living Waters Review
Alone in the Wilderness Rachel Vaudreuil
For Something Chelsea Hartson
Who am I to know that everything has a purpose that every sun-fed bloom and bug-fed wing has something paramount to do?
that a heavy drop soaks
into a ripening Iowa kernel
to feed one
90 boy or dog or deer
to discover a leaf
or knock over a trophy
or birth a new fawn?
If there are dragons in fierce outer space,
who am I to know
about their electronic fire breath?
But every pore and follicle I have
knows me as its home.
I wonder if they wonder
why I am?
Living Waters Review
Map Sixty Ben Lusk
ain is coming in soon, off of the water. You can smell it when it happens like this. It is as if the clouds drive the lesser beads of moisture ahead of them in their vehemence, and then, bellowing with rage, heave them against windows, doors, and people. The heat of the Floridian summer always stokes my anxiety. The air settles over the landscape like a wool blanket, and every afternoon the storms roll in and baptize with warm, plump raindrops. These thunderheads hail mostly from the Gulf and I eye the western clouds from my porch, balanced in a broken and rusty folding chair. Incense smoke is bleeding from a jar into the concrete ceiling. The porch is concrete floors and walls, with steel bars. It could be a jail cell except for the sliding glass door, which is unlocked. Nevertheless, I am trapped. I rise from my chair and lean on the cool metal rail. The air is filled with mystery and the aroma of almostdrenched flowers. I watch the sky a lot these days. My neck cranes upward and my mind falls back. I allow my eyes to close on the first drops that hit my skin, splashing away the dust from my memory. This stretching of the soul against its mortal boundaries overtakes me once a month. It is at such times that what is normally a tendency to withdraw in my being becomes an irrepressible irritation with the everythings of life. I doubt, and brood, and do almost everything but sleep. My company is not pleasant and I know this. So I take a trip for a little while to think. Such restlessness gripped me on the Friday of last week that I knew to attempt sleep would be somewhat like light-
ing a match in the oncoming storm. I knowingly reached around my cluttered apartment for the necessities: a hammock, a tin of matches, a worn hatchet, a folding chair and a folding knife. Lastly, I pocketed the keys to my truck, locked the front door, and strode down the stairs. In the pocket of my passenger door was a crumpled book of roadmaps for the great State of Florida. The cover had come nearly off and the pages were dog-eared, frayed, and tattered like a much-enjoyed novel. My father gave it to me, and that Friday night, I spread it out on the tailgate, my fingers tracing over the threadbare pages. Floridaâ€™s Atlantic coast, from about Melbourne southward to the very tip, is one long inhabited stretch of cement. A cluster of towns and cities hugs the coast near the interstate like a crusted scab. I sought, therefore, the fertile interior to the west, the birthplace of storms, a space with as much green tint on the map as possible and few bolded lines. State Road 80 Westbound looked promising. So I got in my truck and ventured west, not knowing anything beyond the need for a filling station. I drove through the city and hurdles of stoplights, slowly but surely breaking the downtown gravity and by the time I reached the Shell station at the edge of the Glades, the sun had dipped below the horizon line in the west and the low sky carried the echoes of a blaze, as if the rim of the world was on fire. I bought a Coke, a bag of pre-shucked sunflower seeds (all they had in stock), and a tank of gasoline. I spread the maps out again on the tailgate. There was no knowing where I could go, so I meditated on the maps for inspiration, my fingers resting gently on the pages. Abruptly, my eyes landed on a beautiful coupling of words gently outlining a tiny blue thread of water in DeSoto County on Map 60: Peace River. I closed my eyes and imagined it for a moment. I didnâ€™t know what to picture. But I needed to go there. What a fine-looking name for a destination: Peace River. Promised Land. In the rearview mirror looking east, the Shell Station could have been at the bottom of the ocean in a hastening dark, claustrophobic in its fluorescent curtains that faded silently into the night. When the ringing of sunlight had quieted beyond the grip of the horizon, it was as though I had driven off the edge of the earth. The darkness was all-encompassing, and a gauze of mist clung to the broken
Creative Essay 91
Creative Essay 92
highway. Light seeped into view, presumably from towns to my north and south, but it could not cut through the murk to brighten what lined the road next to me. It clung to the fringe of my vision with an otherworldly glow. All around me I could sense grand fields of sugarcane, black and expansive as outer space. My truck sprinted forward like a rustic, homespun satellite, tethered to the illumination at its bow, now resolutely on course. Time flew, as did the dotted lines beneath, and reflective road signs threw my headlights back at me with information: I was heading northwest. I needed to skirt Lake Okeechobee and then go due west to Arcadia. Waiting on the other side of that city was Peace River. Every now and again, a small town would emerge from the dark, bathed in incandescent orange light. Names unfamiliar to me: Pahokee, Canal Point. They seemed archaic, ancient ruins of cities. Brief snatches of their architecture flickered past: torn ads, broken glass, bars, plywood. More to my left: rusted tractors, cinderblocks, dilapidated fences. I was acutely aware of my foreignness. Each of these little outposts seemed as if it was waiting to crumble back into history. An hour or so later, the road began to curve gently as it banked against the massive lake, the levee rising on my left-hand side. I began to feel frustrated and closed-in again. This was just now the lake? This excursion was taking longer than anticipated, and there was no direct route to my destination. It was getting late, and I pulled into the next filling station that presented itself and walked inside for water. A bell atop the door announced my arrival to whoever was sitting behind the counter, I didn’t look. The frustration was beginning to dig at my stomach. I shuffled to the clouded doors of the refrigerator cabinets, and stood staring for several minutes, my mind lost in dissatisfaction. The drinks were a multi-colored blur, and my thoughts wandered without really going anywhere, running in place. I don’t know how long I was standing motionless before a presence moved in behind me, a foggy ghost in the glass door. I turned with a start, and saw an elderly gentleman. He asked, “Can I help you with anything?” “No, sir, thank you,” I said, and my discontent evaporated into mild embarrassment. “To tell you the truth, I don’t really know what it is I’m looking for.” My voice surprised me when it came out. It was tired. I walked past several cabinets, and abruptly caught my
reflection in a half-empty one. Sleep had evaded me for a day or two, and my beard was coming in unkempt. My eyes were vacant, bleary, and tinged red with weariness. The hair under my hat was scruffy. My second- or third-hand army jacket had grease stains. Who knew where I’d been? I opened the half-empty cabinet to take one of the large water bottles in the bottom, and noticed that they were all frozen solid—a bunch of peculiar little liter-and-a-half icebergs. I took two anyway, and walked to the front, where the old man was sitting writing on a notepad. His white hair was thick with history, and he too was bearded. His weathered skin was stretched taut over his thin frame, hidden under a denim work shirt and bandanna. He possessed blue eyes so clouded with age that he appeared nearly blind. A fluorescent bulb sputtered above me. Sitting atop his perch on a stool behind the counter in the flickering light, he was like an enchanted old raven, motionless and ready to deliver an omen. I placed my bottles on the counter, and he looked up. “I freeze these for the dawn fisherman,” he said. His voice sounded as creased as his face. “There are thawed ones in that cabinet over yonder.” He gestured with a battered old hand. “These will be fine, thank you.” I pulled three dollars from my wallet and put the change in a Styrofoam cup by the lighters. I felt the sudden, mysterious urge to ask this aged cashier about Peace River. My voice pricked at my throat, but I couldn’t bring myself to pose the question. Perhaps I was afraid that he wouldn’t know. Or worse, he knew, and the news was not good. It was a broken-up fishing town. Or a deserted campsite. Nothing left but an old cemetery and ghosts. I turned to walk away, and then wheeled back and almost blurted out: “Sir? What do you know about Peace River?” He settled back into his roost with a reminiscing hum and looked at his hands. He thought for a brief moment, and then faced me, eyes twinkling. He spoke slowly and rhythmically, like a cadence that floated across the flickering air. “Peace River. There is a fine place. Nestled down in the pine and the oak. This is old Florida, you understand. Black water and river grass. Wild honey and cream, son.” He winked. “I suppose I am a bit predisposed. I married my love in Peace River. Never as much sunshine as those days, even in the rain.” He leaned in and lowered his voice. “Sometimes when I’m out on the lake and the wind is
Living Waters Review
coming from the west, I can smell that Confederate jasmine and honeysuckle wreathed in her hair.” He sat upright again. “I suppose I’m headed back there someday.” He looked past me for a long moment into oblivion. Memories are one of the only things that I know of that can be made of nothing and everything all at once. “That’s what I know about Peace River,” he finished, the prophecy done. The lights in the filling station went out. “You get on now, son,” his voice flowed out of the darkness. “I have to check this damn breaker. This place is old as dirt and twice as cheap...” he faded off into the gloom of the back of the store. The humidity of the night brought on by the proximity of the lake washed me as I emerged from the store. My skin tingled with energy. I couldn’t open either bottle, they were frozen shut, but I had to do something with my hands. I put one bottle in the cab to thaw, then strode into the gloom to find a rock. A sizable one presented itself on the other side of the road by the levee and I struck the bottle against it several times until slush spilled from a gash in the plastic and spattered onto its surface. I put my mouth to the bottle and the sting of it tasted beautiful but it hurt my teeth. I took a couple more drinks from the rock bottle, then threw it in the back of my truck and continued excitedly off into the night, following the lakeshore, bolstered by promise. An hour and a half later I was right back in despair. This happened when I sought rest in a town called Port Mayaca. This is not a town at all—it is a lock system on the lake. I watched it intently from the bridge next to it for several minutes. It was cold, sinister, and mechanical, bathed in unnatural orange light like a menacing fortress suspended in the thick gloom of the wee hours. I was suddenly overly tired, but it wasn’t the blessed fatigue of an honest day’s work. It was the inertia of heavy thoughts, my mind hanging like an iron weight in my head. I had little money. Time, too, was trickling out of my reach, like the water from the bottle in my truck bed had long before. I parked the truck at the edge of the bridge off the road and climbed out, needing a walk in the dark to clear my burdensome mind. The footing was not good, and I foolishly slipped on the loose gravel by the hill of the bridge and cursed fiercely, almost sliding into the canal leading to the lock. I tried to get up and immediately
smacked the top of my head on the concrete embankment of the bridge, my balance again deserting me. I lay in the dust and the dirty gravel, a wastebasket to my right and wasted time flurrying around me, taunting. My ankle burned and I dragged myself to my feet and pulled the atlas from my truck, tearing Map 60 out of the pages, burying the blue thread and Peace River in crumpled remains. I stalked down the hillside and up the massive grassrobed levee next to the monstrous lock system muttering profanities, and I leered at the yawning, black chasm of water in front of me. I dug a little hole in the earth of the levee with my knife and threw the crumpled map paper inside. I lit it on fire with the matches from my tin and took my cigarettes from my pocket. Brooding over my sacrifice in the dirt, I eyed the little fishing shanties that outlined the lake, clinging to the shore like grease to dishwater. I waited some time. The frightening breadth of the lake seeped into my heart. My eyes glanced down at the smoldering pieces of the map in the dirt, slowly rising through the air to heaven, gray wisps rimmed with gold. I wanted to curse again, but I could only shovel dirt over the funeral pit with my boot. I think this is where I lost faith, in Port Mayaca. I know because my heart didn’t even slip into anger or despair after this, just numbness. Throughout this whole trip I fluctuated between feeling like I was chasing something and feeling like I was running away. I needed a place where I could string my hammock up and pretend to sleep for the night. It had grown very late. My weary hands drove all the way to the town of Okeechobee, where all of the roads in the Glades get stitched together: SR 70, SR 700, SR 15, and Highways 441 and 98. This would be my best chance for camping. I drove around aimlessly, having never been to this town, until I finally pulled into a motel to ask for directions. In some distant part of my anesthetized mind, the night manager reminded me of a penguin I had seen in a book when I was young. He had a crooked smile, a black shirt with deodorant stains, black pants, and eyes that gleamed with the artificial, caffeinated light of the night shift. He was odd-looking, as most people are who work the graveyard hours, and out of place in the faux-opulence of the hotel lobby. “Do you have a reservation?” His voice was saturated with coffee and a slight lisp.
Creative Essay 93
Creative Essay 94
“Actually sir, I have a question.” My voice cracked again with tiredness and I wanted to lean against the imitation marble counter. “Would you happen to know where I could find camping for the night?” “Camping?” He was taken aback. “Out there?” I nodded. He blinked. “Don’t you know there are alligators and poisonous snakes out there? It’s all swamp. If you’d like a place to stay I can rent you a room for the night, but I’m afraid I don’t know of any places for you to camp. Plus it’s late. Most places wouldn’t be open, really, would they?” I thanked him for the help and left, the automatic doors hissing shut behind me. Out of options, I contemplated parking in a deserted locale and sleeping for a bit, but I didn’t know this town very well. It wouldn’t be wise to appear to be a wanderer, even if that’s exactly what I was. I spread the scarred pages of the atlas on my tailgate once more and decided to take State Road 70 to State Road 710, the Beeline Highway. I could drag myself down that road for two hours until I was right back at the beginning. Through the haze of my weariness the stores and the streetlights were a blur of orange and cadmium watercolor in the night that gradually faded away, a fake ebbing sunset, until I was out in the coolness of the Florida pine scrub that stretched, black and blue and mysterious, for miles around me on SR 710. For a time, I did not move. The road was as numb as I was: one long, straight, southeasterly shot in the dark. I sat like a statue, suffused in silence and the green light of my dashboard. For the return trip, there was no question: I was running away. In the cottony film of my headlights, a deer jumped across the road far ahead of me. Too far for me to hit, though I still recoiled from experience. All at once I noticed the stars. I glimpsed them in my peripheral vision and then I was gripped inexplicably with the desire to look. No one else was on the highway at halfpast three a.m., and I shut off my headlights and craned my neck upward. I was enraptured. It was as if the sky had been opened like a book to me. I glanced at the road now and again, which hovered before me like a smoldering blue ghost in the moonlight. The stars glittered like silver dust, crushed into infinitesimally small pieces and sown over ancient black velvet. Just for a few minutes I allowed myself to be bewildered and envel-
oped in the enormity of the sky and the woods, as if they would close in on me and swallow me in a dark and sacred embrace. It was a deeply poignant, nostalgic feeling, like reading a letter that was sent long ago but had remained unopened until now. Suddenly, it was okay that I didn’t go to Peace River. I don’t know why, it was just okay—and I basked in the contentment of accidental hope. After a few more stretched out minutes I flicked on the headlights and continued the long road back. I didn’t arrive home until dawn was spilling over the horizon.
Living Waters Review
In Quest of a Youth Eternal Noah Thaman
They cut and hacked and paved their way through this land, but no fountain was found to stay the flow of the sands of time. Inward and inward, further on they pressed, yet deeper and deeper their servants dug their graves. Six feet down, everything turns to liquid.
Cibola, El Doradoâ€Ś they flow into the ocean. Henceforth we will go up. Suspended in the elixir of the air we will find our escape. From mice to masons, we stack our stones like Babel and scrape the sky with outstretched fingers: the great beyond, the last challenge, the final fountain.
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