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.
School of Arts and Sciences • English Department • Art Department • Development Office
FOUNDER AND FACULTY ADVISOR Professor David Athey
GRAPHIC DESIGN ADVISOR Professor Tim Eichner
SPECIAL THANKS PresidentWilliam M. B. Fleming, Jr. • Dr. Gene Fant • Dr. Robert Lloyd • Dr. Susan Jones • Dr. Jenifer Elmore • Becky Peeling • Louis Park • John Sizemore • Autumn Raab
EDITOR Tom Lubben
ASSISTANT EDITORS Savvy Myles Alia Michaud Megan Konynenbelt Daniela Pereira
GRAPHIC ARTS EDITOR Shana Terra Lubben
COVER ART Ryan Arnst
Help support Living Waters. Contact Professor David Athey in the English Department. 561-803-2259
Living Waters Review
Table of Contents
Beyond This Shore
Can You Loose the Bands of Orion?
A Sky Divided
Sarah Ann Roginsky
Vagrant Johnny Hedger
I Kept Running
Parkinsonâ€™s and Cracker Jacks
Moths and Meteor Showers
Sarah Ann Roginsky
He Used to Be a Dragon
Noniâ€™s Herb Garden
An Old Prophet Dies
Death Was Not
A Springtime in London
Sarah Ann Roginsky
On Visiting Keukenhof Gardens in April
Fourteen Piece Parabolic Tea Set
Yolande in Gray Tippet
According to Jack Martin, Age Seven, Macon, Georgia
Fish in the Water
No Trees to Climb in Arizona
Living Waters Review
Brick and Mortar
Second Advent (for Shana Terra)
The Quiet People
The Stone Carver’s Son
What It’s Like To Crash A 2002 Jeep Cherokee Cameron Schott
Funeral for a Crow
The Night Is Yours
Ex Nihilo Abigail Skinner
Stargazing, I watched a cow get struck by lightning in the middle of a field. The grass turned black, the cow collapsed and gave a wounded wail. All that stuff about lightning cracking isn’t really true.
This lightning didn’t make a sound.
6 Black canvas splashed with blue, I wondered where it came from, how fast it had disappeared. Only six years old, I didn’t know about the atmosphere. “Everything comes from something,” Dad said. I looked at him and frowned. “But what about the earth?” I asked. He told me to settle down.
Living Waters Review
Psalm Trees Sarah Osterhouse
Dance, palms, greenly sway awake
Did you scratch-sing silent hosanna
a sun salutation to the breeze.
on that day in Jerusalem,
Sing, palms, sing hosanna to the Mighty He,
when the sun slept in the sky and Light died
hosanna to the King of seas.
and the curtain was shredded top-down did you whisper hosanna?
Do you pray, palms? Do you clasp those
Did you know?
bladed fronds and pay homage to the Unseen Light who brings you life?
Tell me, palms, when the galaxy stirred to receive Truth back from the grave and
Your singing sister, the wind, does she
death was killed by Life,
play on your green harp-string hands,
did you clap your crested hands and
pluck with silky fingers
groan for the wind to pluck your strings
to accompany your leafy scratch-whisper chorus?
to sing for resurrected Peace?
Did you tower sentinel over Galilee,
Sprouted in dead sand, green
regally crown the jewel of sea
joyful through winter, peaceful giants,
when the Word walked on water and fed
bendingâ€”not crackingâ€”in storms,
with living bread and brought
palm trees should be called psalm trees,
adding more verses of praise to the longest hymn.
Mom’s Garden Cameron Schott
Everyone thinks their mom has healer’s hands but I’ve seen hers resurrect in ragged gloves spilling soil in the light of every hour’s sun. Without ceremony she fills the cup and on her knees she serves rosemary and thyme.
I’ve seen withered dying leaves stretch their hands and turn green with her fingers underneath and the shadow of her hat giving shade, but I’ve seen no pride in her then with her hands in the dirt dripping sweat giving only so she could watch it all grow.
Living Waters Review
Beyond This Shore Joseph Hedger
hat are you really looking for? At my old home, there was a jetty that reached into the Atlantic Ocean from a wide, sandy beach. The water was usually cold and clear to the bottom, and sometimes dark clouds covered the horizon with shades of rain and shifts of lightning. I went during such a storm and crept along the seaweed while waves crashed against the rocky side and blanketed it in salt water. I crouched low at the end of the jetty and wind blew soft rain against my already soaked body. The mainland seemed far behind me as I stared out eastward. In this place, I saw manta rays as big as my bed, and I swam through the attached reef where lionfish corrupt the sandy floor and small squid dash through the water like arrows. I watched dolphins ride the surf into the shallow end by the beach, and I swam with a manatee in its search for warm water and vegetation. Flying fish scattered like skipping stones and jellyfish loomed, their cloud bodies floating gentle and dangerous. I’ve encountered life and mystery and been almost drowned and have almost won. By the jetty in that afternoon storm, I was cold in the humid wind. Whenever I felt dead, the world around me— the bubbling earth—came to life in beautiful reminiscence. As all storms do, it passed quickly, and the wet sand remained with sweet pungent sargassum, and I remained half-submerged between vast ocean and shore. One cannot exist forever in timeless afternoons, I thought, and I dove into the water. Now this place exists beyond me, further in time
and space than it’s ever been before. My Wordsworthian memory is broken. There are solutions beyond me that I briefly forget. There are places that I would like to exist forever. But buildings are torn down and trees are dug up; the world’s memory is solid, but it forgets too, sometimes. In the city, buildings wall the earth away from me, and fresh air is a commodity; open water is a mythology. The enemy has a name, and it is Death. But these shores have outlived civilizations. Maybe not these shores exactly, but their water has rinsed the world in moonrise tides since creation’s second day. It is like a handwritten “made by” Creator’s note or a magnet compass, drowning Death in gentle and ferocious ocean sways. What are you really looking for? I was asked on the jetty. And I answered that I don’t know—but somewhere, deep down, I really do.
Creative Essay 9
La Concha Sarah Ann Roginsky
She has a seashell— hangs on leather around her neck taps her sternum when she runs old ridges worn smooth, almost flattened from her thumb’s back
and sands of anxious worry and time. Sitting quietly, learning about rhythm and how rhyme can actually limit her red calcium smooths to orange, smooths to brown smooths to white; this leather-bound shell sleeping closer than any dream. Under a blaze of sky she asks for clouds— the kind that darken the expanse horizon
She feels safe beneath them, like her shell under water.
Living Waters Review
Final Things Erin Schaffer
My brother died today, only it was not today. Death, not bound in a single moment, makes a mark on all. As time expands and converges, we find ourselves marching to the rhythm of a solemn hymn. Memories collapse upon dreams, and they begin to fade as pictures yellow and curl. Dreams make crisper pictures. In one salvific moment past, present, and future collide. Then bright visions of resurrection replace dreams and memories. Pictures unfurl and burn, leaving a new fabric, forever unfolding. A new song is heard in the hope of glory, voices crying out in a cadence of praise. We have been found. And my brother will live tomorrow.
Shelves Savvy Myles
Short Story 12
he wheely tape thing—the one you use to seal cardboard boxes—stopped sealing the open box beneath my hands and between my legs. Straightening my sore back, I closely inspected my dispenser to see if the tape had slipped off the jagged teeth and stuck to the roll again. Nope. Out. I looked around the storage room in the back of my dad’s bookstore, hoping that another roll was lying on a shelf. I’d been boxing up books on books on books for the past two days. Despite sales, despite fighting back with our own money and loans, Dad’s bookstore was officially out of business. You would never guess Dad was sad until you guessed he was. It was in the little things he did that pointed at the trail of spent hopes and pointless dreams: he forgot where he put his keys more often; he would look out the window a little longer, looking for something that would never appear; he would say he was too full to eat blackberry cobbler and vanilla ice-cream on Fridays, and for my whole sixteen years I’ve watched him eat that after dinner every Friday night. Mom worried about him a lot. She was a worrier by nature, and I would watch her bite her tongue when she wanted to say, “I told you the bookstore wouldn’t make it, I told you.” But we all felt for Dad during this time, and, like me, she knew to keep her mouth shut and lock it with a small smile. Today was day three of packing, the day we were expected to have the whole building cleared. At this point I could physically feel my heart in my chest; it made my movements slower, my footsteps heavier, my words fewer. I looked around the room for tape, not really looking, just
aimlessly staring. Then I stepped out of the storage room. The shelves on the walls and in the center of the store were almost entirely empty, despite the fact that the little labels FICTION, NONFICTION, BIOGRAPHIES, SCIENCE FICTION, and GARDENING among others were still taped in their designated places. Shades of bookshaped clean wood stood out against the dusty spaces. The room felt hollowed out, lifeless. “Dad?” I called. “Do you have any more tape for the dispenser?” The sound of boxes being pushed against the old wood floors answered me. Then, “They’re not in the storage room?” “No. I already looked.” Dad’s graying head popped up from behind a bookshelf near the front of the store. “Then we’re out. How many more boxes need to be taped back there?” I lifted the tip of my hat and wiped my head. “Three? Four?” “All of them filled?” “To the brim.” Dad looked out the windows of the front doubledoors. The dark green paint of the French doors had begun to peel a long time ago, long before Dad had bought the small house wedged between two other stores much larger than our own. I leaned against one of the empty shelves and waited for his call. When a minute passed and he hadn’t turned around, my pulse began to quicken with the signal that Dad was having a moment. I leaned off the shelf and went to him. “I could run to the store real quick,” I said quietly. “Be
Living Waters Review
back in thirty if I’m fast.” Dad sighed and his shoulders shrunk. He didn’t answer immediately, but then again Dad always took his time. Apparently that doesn’t work for overdue bills. When he turned to me, he showed a smile I’d almost forgotten. “I have a better idea,” he said. “Let’s not move out!” I blinked at him. “Not move—what? Dad, we can’t afford the bookstore anymore. We can’t just stay here and pretend that we’re not out of business.” But Dad didn’t hear me because he was already on his way to the storage room. “Help me with these boxes, Jude. We need to unpack them quickly.” “You’re kidding, right? This is all a joke, right? Right?” The sound of precious hours of tape being ripped away from sealed boxes ripped my ragged heart to pieces. I dashed back into the storage and saw that my dad wasn’t kidding, that all of this wasn’t a joke. Right now he was unpacking the FICTION box. “Dad—Dad stop!” I raised my voice as my three days’ work became meaningless. “What on earth are you doing?” “Unpacking,” he said without looking up. He pulled out two books, read the spines, and handed them to me. “Put these in alphabetical order. Moby Dick and Anna Karenina by Melville and Tolstoy. Look, already in order for you. I’ll have more ready to go out when you come back.” The books were in my hands before I could protest or wrap my mind around what was happening. I was placing them back on the FICTION shelf and coming back for another load like I’d been programmed. Dad handed me Lolita, Anne of Green Gables, The Night Circus, Crime and Punishment, The Fault in Our Stars, and Wuthering Heights and I kept coming back in stunned silence for more and more fiction. Everything was alphabetized by the author’s last name. In an hour there was one full bookshelf in the bookstore and one empty box in the storage room. I couldn’t tell you why I contributed to the problem. Maybe it was the smile in my dad’s eyes that fooled me into thinking we could get away with something like this. “I have an idea,” I said. “You know how the science fiction section was near the front window? What if we put it perpendicular to the fiction shelf ? That way it could be like a make-believe corner?” “I like that,” Dad said. He sat back from the opened box of books. “You know, I’ve always wanted to have my own bookshelf. Like recommendations from the staff and
such, but really just what I wanted to share with people.” I bobbed my chin in agreement. That was a good idea. “Have any books in mind?” Dad instantly nodded his head. “Oh yes, loads of books. I like all genres, you know? There isn’t a single book in this world that can’t teach you something new. In that way books are very similar to people.” He paused thoughtfully. “I would love to see The Count of Monte Cristo next to The House on Mango Street. Just throw old and new classics together like a family photo, you know?” Dad’s passion filled the room like restored electricity during a storm, and in my head I saw colorful spectrums of book spines on a shelf labeled STAFF RECOMMENDATIONS. That would be nice, wouldn’t it? Instead of asking someone what their favorite book was, you pointed at your shelf filled with all your favorites. I caught the enthusiasm and smiled. Dad looked from me to the empty shelf with raised eyebrows, bushy and gray like his hair. “Yeah,” he said more to himself than me. “I think that would be neat.” “I agree.” I glanced down at my watch to see that it was six in the evening. I sensed the faintest twitch of apprehension between the space of a heartbeat, that something else should’ve been happening instead of planning my dad’s own bookshelf. The sound of raindrops flying into glass drew my eyes back out the green French doors. Rain was closing in with the night. When I turned back to tell my father we should be doing something more productive—like obeying the law, for example—he’d gone back into the storage room. The rain outside kept time like a stopwatch while I waited for him to come back. Had he woken up from the dream? “Here,” Dad said, emerging from the storage room with a book in his hand like a trophy, its cover obscured. “Let’s put this one in the front window.” “For staff recommendations?” I asked. “For someone in need of something different.” He kept walking until he reached the entrance of the store and stopped at the window to the left of the French doors. Gingerly he placed the small paperback on the windowsill so that it looked out the window like a lonely spectator, watching the world pass by. He took a step back to make sure the book wouldn’t fall over on its own, and when he was convinced it was stable, strolled back over to me with his hands in his pockets, satisfied with his miniature exhibit.
Short Story 13
Short Story 14
“Take your favorite books with you,” he said to me. “I’d suggest one from each genre. Start your library with those and build up to a bookstore. But make sure you can afford it, that it’s not just a dream. A goal is a dream with a spine. A plan you can stick to, and will stick to, because that’s all you got.” He stopped and looked around the bookstore, empty save for a couple of colorful shelves and their books. His eyes move around a building that had been a home to so many stories for the last time. After the moment ended, he pulled out the car keys from his pocket, patted the wall, and left the bookstore through the backdoor. I felt the very presence of this store’s memories follow him out like a loyal friend. I didn’t know exactly which books to take, so I rushed over to the FICTION shelf, grabbed Moby Dick, and raced through all the other boxes I’d made that morning and picked one from each. I hardly caught glimpses of the titles, but my arms were full of pages and the worlds and realities within them, so either way I won. Our truck stopped outside the front of our bookstore, Around the World in 80 Pages. Mom always said the name sounded like someone was trying not to choke on a mouthful of marbles, but Dad and I appreciated the pun. It was almost dark now. The rain fell onto the hood of our car like a million tiny birds. Feathers and water and empty windows reflected in our headlights. I felt like I was in a sad movie scene. When Dad switched the gear to reverse, I remembered the little paperback he’d placed in the window and strained to see it. It was still there, its face blank like a cat who knew it had seen its owner for the last time. But the car was backing up, the car was turning. The image of the book began to blur with the rain as I realized I had no idea what Dad’s favorite book was. I turned back in my seat to get one last look, but the red lights washing over two green doors was the last image I had of our bookstore. As we drove home I played with the idea of what book was left in the window: should I ask or should I keep it a mystery I’ll tell my children about? I liked the second idea—I think my dad would like that, too. It was books that I relied on the most for teaching me what I didn’t know, but in this case I leaned back in my seat and sighed. This time I didn’t mind not learning something new.
Living Waters Review
Can You Loose the Bands of Orion? Olivia Anderson into that rainy morning, caught it like liquid sunshine. You orbited that meteor “As rivers of water in a dry place, as the shadow of a great rock in a weary land.” Isaiah 32:2
through rippling streams and damp dusks, over hedgerows and up and down the apple trees in Mr. Ornot’s orchard, nestling it in shadows of thick moss and bright leaves, watering it with the apple juice that ran off your elbows
as if it might grow or hatch or bring Dad home.
Journeying across the celestial
You gave me that meteor
wilderness—murky and home
when they took you away;
to thundering gasps—my eyes rest
there weren’t any pockets in your hospital gown.
on you, lustrous in a yellow raincoat,
But it was too heavy for me to carry around.
dancing over the crumbling graves
All the way home its weighty memories lurched
of one Stella MacCree and family
in my threadbare pocket against my threadbare soul.
while gargoyles glare and great, graven walls
So I put your meteor in an empty drawer,
rise round us, framing heaven in a ruined abbey.
alone, because you think it will grow.
With star-spotted rubber toes, you swirl with the
I tell you it’s safe and well, but I haven’t looked inside
spectral imaginations of new friends long dead,
in a year. What if all I find is a pebble?
but your knees bow, taut like arches aimed or fishing poles strained by gilled life
battling invisible lines deep beneath the waves. I cry for you to stop, to cut the beast loose
“Look again,” you insisted, “look inside!”
for someone else to catch. This joy is too
Once more I raised the fist-sized box to the light,
strong to bind with hands of flesh,
tilting and squinting and willing
too dangerous to hold—no one sees God
there to be something inside
and lives. No one catches heaven
for your sake. Your blue veins pulsed
and stays on earth.
as if you were the one giving life to the IV. Eyes clear and bright, you looked to me
and asked, “Isn’t it the loveliest sight?” But with a bolt of breathing death, you jolted
Remember when you caught a memory
and I clenched my fist beneath your cot
of a meteor? It was that pebble you carried
for what could be your final orbit,
in your left pocket all summer,
while nurses circled, casting blackness
sent by Dad from Cerro Armazones
holed by the luster of your eyes.
to make up for missing your birthday,
You laughed because the shadows smiled
two months late. You flung it up
and I was too silly to see treasure in flimsy cardboard torn with the jagged
punctures of a ballpoint pen.
and the flickers of shattered glass lit the bark
“You’re not looking right. Look harder.”
on which your blood composed its life).
The jab of a needle brought a yelp and a tear
Three months, more days, fewer nights,
but your huff was at me, not out of fear.
I thirsted, waiting for the death
“You’re holding it wrong. How can you see
of my nightmare in a hospital cafe, a prayer only
with the light flooding in?” You freed
half fulfilled. I still thirst as sweet rain
my fingers, rotated the box away from the lamp,
courses over your palms to your elbows,
which now glinted blindingly behind cardboard insides
pools in the sleeves of your yellow raincoat,
sunk in abysmal black; black except for the shining
drenched yet untouched by the firmament’s woes.
wounds your hand and pen had made. “I made you the sky,” you beamed,
“so we can watch the stars whenever we want.”
But you slip from orbit, flung down with outcast arms
‘cross the sky swirling in a murky puddle on the ruined abbey floor.
But no one catches heaven
The graves ripple golden beneath your shadow,
and stays on earth; no one sees God
liquid light permeating small, unfolded fingers,
and lives. You do not hear, face dripping from looking
the chalice broken.
up, hands cupped overhead like a chalice
One star-spotted boot sinks
waiting to be filled while your laughter silences
just out of reach of a thin leg concluding
the storm. Once lonely echoes telescope
with a knee; your fingers stretch to loose,
your joy, ricocheted off water-darkened
not break, the bands of a store-bought
abbey walls like living mirrors of hope
limb, twisted beneath your body
remembered. It’s been nine months
like warped metal or road kill.
since they let you go; nine months
Visitors tug on friends’ sleeves as a boy screeches,
since you last fed IVs; nine months
“Mama, she’s got no legs!”
I’ve been haunted by the beeps and cries
They throng you like nurses,
of the pediatric ward, cursing myself
but I break through their shadows
into thankfulness, cursing the day
only to find you searching stormy heights,
you realize what life is to be.
hands open and mouth half lifted
From my sheltered corner, dry,
in a smile as luminescent as the puddle
untouched by rain, I thirst
cradling your maimed body. “Did you notice
for the waters that overflow
how perfect the sky is today?” Squinting
your lifted palms. I’ve thirsted
lustrous eyes, you proclaim, “From this angle,
since the day Dad came home; a family, we went
the rain looks like just a million stars
to watch the stars tinkle night air with mirth
set loose from heaven.”
(though silent was that night when in serpentine twist our car coiled round a ditch-rooted tree
Living Waters Review
A Sky Divided Hannah Deadman
Songbird Jane Carver
A songbird woke me up that morning. I remember because I was a light sleeper, awakened by the softest of whispers. I pulled the window covering aside, surprised to see a bird on the sill, staring at me with black eyes that didn’t even look like eyes, shiny black beads.
I tapped the window with a gentle finger. Good morning, songbird. That songbird just stared back, like it knew something important. In a white-walled wasteland that smelled of rubbing alcohol and cherry Jell-O, faces didn’t look like faces and words didn’t sound like words. I sang a little melody to her when her face was tense and full of hurt. She let out a deep breath —breathe, mama, breathe— and her eyelashes brushed her cheeks. I know why the songbird woke me up that morning. Now I know. Good morning, songbird.
Living Waters Review
Vagrant Johnny Hedger
I have a vagrant heart, musing and pumping wildfire, filling me with heat. I wish I had an easy beat, steady and trustworthy like the sediment under me. Instead, I have an electric pulse for eclectic lands tapping at my toes. Boot-clad and bent-backed, I clamber forth from the puddles of dissonance and discontent that cake my soles with mud and weigh me down in solitary stagnation. I strap my freedom to sunken shoulders, set my sights on distant skylines, and take to locomotion. The mountains before my eyes are easier to climb than the ones inside that call me to rise.
I Kept Running Abigail Skinner
Short Story 20
here’s been an accident.” The voice on the other end of the line belonged to one of Stephen’s coworkers at the mill. I didn’t say anything. I could hear Bernard breathing through the receiver. Labored inhales. Deep, loud exhales. “Sarah?” he said. “Who is this?” I asked, even though I knew. “It’s Bernard Anders from down at the mill. I’m a friend of Stephen’s.” “What kind of accident?” I kept my tone even. “Why don’t you come down here?” Bernard sounded sort of desperate. I looked down at the navy blue couch I was sitting on and pulled on a loose thread. I didn’t know what to say to Bernard, but I knew I didn’t want to go down to the mill. “Can’t you just tell me now?” Bernard didn’t say anything and I knew then that it was bad. I did not want to go down to the mill. “Please, Sarah.” “Alright.” I kept pulling on the loose thread. “I’ll be down soon.” I hung up the phone without waiting for Bernard’s reply. The loose thread had made a hole in the couch. I stared at the hole and then put my finger through it, feeling for the soft cotton stuffing underneath. I felt like maybe I should cry because something bad had happened to Stephen, but I didn’t cry. Couldn’t. I stood up from the couch, took my purse from its hook next to the front door, got in my car, and drove towards the mill. *** I heard the sirens from a quarter-mile away. I heard them and everything inside of me froze up; the air in my lungs crystallized, and it felt like if I took another breath
they would shatter. I turned on the radio and cranked the volume as loud as it could go. When I pulled in, everything looked as I had expected it to look. Two ambulances. A mob of people crowding around them. Several police officers trying and failing to get everyone to back up. I didn’t want to be there. I didn’t want to talk to Bernard, didn’t want to have to listen to what I knew he was going to tell me. Didn’t want to see a broken man. Didn’t want to see a body bag. I parked my car but stayed inside, watching the police officers as they set up orange cones and yellow tape around the perimeter of a building with the letters EA on it. They kept telling everyone to “back up, back the hell up!” but no one was listening. I tried taking deep breaths. Rubbed my palms against my thighs to try and steady them, but I couldn’t stop them from shaking. And I couldn’t stop thinking about Stephen and ambulances and police officers and yellow tape. Someone knocked on my window. An older, darkskinned man—maybe mid-60s and wearing dirty blue coveralls—leaned against my car and shielded his eyes, trying to see inside. “Sarah? Is that you?” I didn’t recognize him, but the voice sounded like the one on the phone. Bernard backed up to let me open the door. “Sorry. I was just…” I gestured to the chaotic scene in front of us. Bernard looked at me. There was pity in his eyes. “Listen, I really appreciate your coming. I didn’t want to have to tell you over the phone.” I looked at him and said nothing. He glanced over his shoulder at the ambulances. The sirens had been turned off but the red and white lights still flashed against the building. “Stephen was directing a crane that was carrying a sixty-yard-long wooden beam.
Living Waters Review
Somehow, the beam hadn’t been properly secured.” He paused and looked at me, gauging my reaction. “It fell on him. He didn’t make it.” His voice was quiet and controlled, like he’d been practicing saying the words out loud before I’d gotten there. Even though I’d known, even though I’d anticipated such words the entire drive to the mill, my knees buckled. After that, my memory cut in and out. I vaguely recollect Bernard pulling me into his arms and hugging me. I remember him whispering “Sorry, I’m so sorry,” over and over in my ear. His sympathy was useless to me. I remember talking to the EMTs and the police officers. I remember being forced to listen to them describe exactly how my husband had been killed. Then Bernard drove me home. He refused to let me drive myself. Said there was no way I was in any condition to operate a vehicle. When we got back to the house, he made sure I made it inside okay and told me he’d come over in the morning to help me make arrangements. I didn’t want his help. He was a stranger. I think I remember telling him that I needed to call Stephen’s parents, his brother, but Bernard told me he’d take care of it and that I just needed to lie down and rest. Eat something. After he left, I climbed into bed. A queen-sized bed. Meant for two people. But now it was a one-person bed, and all that empty space made my skin crawl. I got up and stripped off the sheets and the comforter and the pillow cases. I rolled them into a ball and shoved them under the bed. Then I made my way towards the hall closet. The door squeaked as I pulled it open. Just the other day, Stephen had told me he was going to oil it because he knew how much it drove me crazy. Now I’d have to oil the godforsaken closet door myself. I pulled out a blanket and an old white sheet. They smelled stale, like mothballs and dusty plaster. Like the inside of the closet. I put them both in the washing machine and poured in much more detergent than was necessary for such a small load, but I had to get the smell out or I’d never be able to sleep. I set the washing machine on its extra-long cycle and slammed the door shut. I stared at it as it started up. Then, satisfied that it would get the smell out, I left the laundry room. The house seemed empty. Even the backyard, which was of no grandiose proportions, looked big and desolate. Usually at this time of year there were rabbits hopping around in the grass in the afternoon. But there were no rabbits out
that day. Everything was still, not even a summer breeze blowing the leaves on the trees. *** Stephen and I had met on a city bus when I was seventeen and he was twenty-one. I’d been on my way to the grocery store, and Stephen had sat down beside me without even asking if the seat was already occupied. He’d grinned at me and two large dimples carved themselves into each side of his mouth. I’m Stephen, he said. He didn’t offer me his hand or anything, just told me his name. Sarah, I replied. He kept smiling. Nice to meet you, Sarah. Then he turned to face forward in his seat and didn’t say another word the rest of the trip. Only when the bus stopped at the supermarket and I made to get off did he ask if he could see me again. I told him he could. I told him where he could reach me. He said, I’ll see you, then. I said, Yes, I suppose you will. I’d known right then that we were off and running. *** I tried to eat something, but the thought of food was repugnant. Instead, I finished my laundry. When the blanket and sheet were dry, I took them over to the couch. They were still warm. I hugged them to my chest and stayed that way for awhile. The soft fabric felt wonderful. It smelled wonderful, too, now that the mothball smell had come out. After the warmth had faded from the material, I laid the sheet on top of the couch, tucking it into the cushions so it would stay in place. I pulled the curtains in the living room shut, lay down on the couch, covered myself with the blanket, and fell asleep. When I woke up the light had shifted. I guessed it was about five o’clock. My stomach growled even though I still didn’t feel like eating, but I went to the refrigerator anyway, pulled out a plate of leftovers, and put it in the microwave. Stephen’s voice rang through my head. Three meals a day, Sar, breakfast, lunch, and supper. He never let me skip meals even though I wasn’t a big eater. But I’d already skipped two, so I forced myself to eat. I held my plate and leaned against the counter and looked at my empty house. After we got married, his parents gave us this house. They had bought it ten years earlier with the intention of using it as a summer home. Not that it was anything
Short Story 21
Short Story 22
fantastic. One story, two bedrooms, a bathroom. It was on a big piece of land, though, far away from town. I guess that’s why they liked it. There were a few cows that lived on the land, left there by some previous owner, and every so often one of them would wander up to the house. Stephen loved them. He named them, fed them carrots and lettuce. I always thought it was a bit ridiculous. Cows weren’t pets. The cows didn’t even belong to us. But they were good cows, I suppose. Big and gentle and quiet. I didn’t mind them one bit. Maybe I just learned to love them because Stephen loved them. He was always good at that, at making people care about things. He cared about everything, even silly, unimportant things like cows. Things nobody else ever bothered to notice. When I finished eating, I put my plate in the sink. I didn’t know what to do. I washed the plate and dried it and set it on a stack of identical plates in the cabinet. Then I went to my room and started looking through Stephen’s things. I dug through his dresser drawers, pausing when I got to an old sweatshirt he’d loved to wear during the winter. It was dark green and pilling and I couldn’t for the life of me ever figure out why he was so attached to it. I stared at the sweatshirt and said, “What am I supposed to do?” *** The next morning I was awakened by a gentle knock on the door. It was Bernard, come to help me make arrangements, just like he’d told me he would. “I hope I didn’t wake you,” he said after I let him in. I pointed him in the direction of the kitchen and then put on a pot of coffee. “You did.” Three big scoops of coffee grounds into the filter. Warm water into the reservoir. “I’m real sorry about that. I just figured, you know. Best sooner rather than later. There’s a lot to be done.” Bernard watched me as I made the coffee. His body looked big inside my little house. Thick arms, thick neck. He must have towered over Stephen. He was wearing denim overalls again and brown work boots crusted with dirt. His thick hands were folded and resting on the table in front of him. “Can I ask you a question?” I said with my back to him. “Okay.” “Why do you care so much? I don’t know you. I didn’t
ask you to help me.” I still couldn’t face him. I stared at the kitchen cabinets in front of me. “I don’t know how much Stephen told you about me, or if he even said anything at all, but we were real good buddies. Brothers, of sorts. We worked together for twelve years. That’s a long time. Plenty of time to get to know someone and plenty of time to get to caring about them. He helped me out a lot and he saved my life at that hellhole probably more times than I can count. It’s a dangerous job, you know. And the one time he needed saving, I couldn’t be there for him. I owe him this, Sarah. Please, just let me help.” By the time Bernard finished, his voice was trembling. I turned around and looked at him sitting there at my table. “He never told me any of that.” The coffee had finished brewing, but I didn’t make a move towards it. “He never told me.” Bernard nodded, his eyes cast downward. “Figured as much. Kid wasn’t much of a talker, was he?” “I suppose he wasn’t.” Suddenly I felt further from Stephen than I ever had before. There was an entire part of his life that I knew nothing about. He rarely talked about his work and I’d only heard him mention Bernard a few times during our whole marriage. “It’s okay, Sarah. I’m here now. I’m going to help you because I never got the chance to help Stephen. Do you understand? Is that okay? You have to let me help you.” There was that same desperate hitch in his voice that he’d had when he first called me about the accident. I could tell he was serious about this. “Okay.” I didn’t know what else to say and I knew even if I tried to say something I would start crying, and I didn’t want to cry in front of Bernard. I poured the coffee into two mugs and added cream and sugar to both and then handed one to Bernard. I joined him at the table. We sat there sipping the coffee and gazing out the window overlooking the backyard. Neither of us spoke. Fog hung low over the grass, making everything look faded and gray and completely void of its usual luminescence. Bernard stayed most of the day. We talked about Stephen and made calls to the funeral home and the hospital and all of his family members. It was okay with him there. He was kind and gentle and I could tell he was being real careful what he said around me. He didn’t leave until it had grown dark and the crickets had taken up their evening song and the air hung heavy and sweet around the
Living Waters Review
house. “My wife’ll be expecting me home soon,” he said. I told him he had done more than enough. I told him that he should go home and be with his wife. He promised to come back the next day. After he left, I made more coffee and went through boxes of old pictures until late into the night. *** “Let’s go for a walk, okay?” Bernard said the next morning when I answered the door. I nodded. “Yeah, okay.” I found a sweater hanging in the closet by the front door and put it on. Mornings were still chilly even though it was late June. Bernard handed me a thermos. “I brought the coffee this time.” We started down the path that led from the front door all the way out to the field in front of the house. “You have a real nice property.” He put one of his hands in the pocket of his jeans. The other held a thermos identical to mine. He squinted, shielding his eyes from the early morning sun. “It belonged to Stephen’s parents,” I said. “They gave it to us when we got married.” We continued down the path. Bernard didn’t say anything. It seemed he was waiting for me to continue. “We used to take walks almost every day. There’s a little creek in the woods down there,” I pointed a ways off to a large grouping of trees. “Stephen used to fish in it sometimes. I always told him there weren’t any fish in that water. He always told me I just needed to have a little faith. ‘Faith and patience.’ That’s what he’d say. Then he’d just keep on fishing.” Bernard stopped walking and looked at me. “And did he ever catch anything?” I laughed. Then suddenly there were tears in my eyes. I turned away and bit the inside of my cheek. Bernard put his hand on my arm. After a minute, I said, “Yes. Would you believe it? He caught a fish in that ridiculous creek ten minutes later. Can you believe that?” “I can believe it.” Bernard had a big smile on his face. Like a secret. “Faith and patience,” he said. “How about that? He was something, wasn’t he?” I nodded. We kept walking. I sipped my coffee and tried not to cry. Bernard hummed, a smile in resting position on his lips. Finally, after a long silence, I said, “Who let
it happen?”They were dangerous words because I didn’t want to know their answer. And dangerous because I had to know. He stopped humming but didn’t say anything. “Bernard,” I said again, emphatically this time. “Who let it happen?” “Listen, Sarah. We can’t place blame on anybody. There are a million things that could have caused the slip-up. Faulty equipment, you know. These kinds of things happen sometimes. It’s the nature of the beast.” “But there had to have been someone, someone who didn’t check everything they were supposed to check before, before—” I couldn’t finish the sentence because my throat was closing. “Hey, it’s okay. Look at me.” I shook my head. Looking at him would break me. Bernard sighed. “I know that right now you think it would help to find somebody to blame, that it would somehow make this whole situation easier if you could point fingers, find a source to direct your anger. But it was no one’s fault. You have to believe me. It was no one’s fault.” I felt inside the pocket of my sweater for a pack of cigarettes I’d left inside from when I used to smoke. I pulled one out and lit it and brought it to my lips. “He told me you’d quit,” Bernard said softly. “He told you that, did he? What else did he tell you? Huh?” I was mad now. “Did he tell you that I used to smoke two packs a day? Did he tell you how crazy it drove him, how he thought I was letting cigarettes control my life? Did he tell you what a bad person he thought I was?” “Sarah—” “Because he did, you know. I could sense it every time he looked at me. Those big, pitiful eyes. I hated those eyes. Hated that he looked at me like he felt bad for me. As if I was some little kid he needed to take care of. Yeah, I quit! I quit because I wanted him to stop looking at me like that. But now he’s dead, so what the hell does it matter if I smoke a cigarette?” I stared at the ground, daring him to say something. Bernard paused, then said in a low voice, “He told me he was proud of you.” “What?” “That’s what he said, the day you quit. He came in to work and he almost couldn’t contain himself. Sarah, he was so proud of you. You were all he ever talked about. How
Short Story 23
much he loved you, how you made him a better person. It’s why I felt like I already knew you before we even met, because I got to know you through him. And he loved you so much. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen anything like it.” I stared at the cigarette in my hand. Turned it over and over in my fingers. And then I let it fall, my body crumbling with it. I sobbed until my face burned and I couldn’t breathe. Bernard sat down beside me. “I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry,” I kept saying. Bernard sat down beside me. “It’s okay, it’s okay, it’s okay.” ***
Short Story 24
After the funeral, our walks became a routine. Bernard would come over a couple times a week right after the sun had risen over the hills, always with coffee in hand, and we’d walk down to the creek to see if we could find any fish swimming in it. We never could. Or else we’d walk to the cemetery, bringing flowers to Stephen’s grave. He told me stories about his wife. I told him stories about Stephen. He told me stories about Stephen. Those were always my favorite. It was chilly the day of our last walk. The sky was full of dark clouds and an angry wind whipped at the trees. Bernard suggested we stay inside, but I had a good feeling about the walk. So we went, taking our time wandering down to the creek. I held my thermos in one hand and an umbrella in the other. “Bernard?” “Hm.” “Thank you.” I stared straight ahead as I said the words. “What for?” The wind was picking up. I raised my voice a little. “For everything.” He didn’t say anything, so I continued. “I didn’t, um. I didn’t know I needed you. I mean, when Stephen died, I didn’t think I even wanted to know you. You were a stranger. I didn’t understand why you thought you needed to help me. But now I do.” “What did you discover?” “You healed me.” He was quiet for a while. We kept walking. He sipped his coffee. I looked at him, waiting for an answer. “Darlin’, I didn’t heal you,” he finally said. We had reached the creek. The water was still despite the wind. “It’s gonna rain soon.
We’d better head back.” I didn’t know what to say to that. I didn’t say anything. We turned around and headed back towards the house. Thunder rumbled. A few raindrops fell and landed on my arm. Bernard had a strange look on his face. Then, almost too quiet for me to hear above the wind, he said, “We healed each other. Now don’t be a stranger, okay?” He kissed my cheek, and then turned and walked down the path back to my house. I stayed exactly where I was until long after Bernard had disappeared from sight. I looked out into the expanse of tall, pale green grass and watched as it danced along with the rhythm of the wind. Shhh, it seemed to whisper. Then I noticed something in the distance. A big mass. Probably a rock. I kept looking, squinting my eyes, trying to see it more clearly. No, not a rock. A cow, with a bell. I couldn’t help it. I laughed. I threw my head back and let the wind brush over my face and the stray raindrops dot my skin and I let myself feel all of it. Then I was running towards the cow and the ringing. I didn’t stop. I kept running. The grass was thick and hard to get through and after each step I nearly fell to the ground. I kept running. Tears streamed down my face and I didn’t know if it was because of the wind or because of the cow and the bell, but I just let the tears and rain drip off my cheeks and onto the collar of my shirt until it was soggy and damp. And I kept running.
Living Waters Review
Covenant Mikayla Deveau
Parkinson’s and Cracker Jacks Madison Brockman It’s her last bag of Cracker Jacks with a “Step up to the plate!” sticker, the crinkle of red and white stripes like a vein-pulsing surrender —just a few bites left. She offers the few bites to me, a communion of popcorn and peanuts mixed, a caramel and sea salt bliss—
an 80-year-old nostalgia of late-night diner dates and baseball games at 8 where she shared clusters of crunches with the man whose eyes glittered against the Lake Okoboji moon-tide in his cardinal-red Swift canoe, sporting maritime passion head to toe. She gives up those last kernels just as she abandoned the safety of the firefly-light shoreline for his fantasy of floating across the Iowan sea, a life jacket his favorite necklace always snug across her chest. Now she shakes uncontrollably as she entrusts these memories to me.
Living Waters Review
Moths and Meteor Showers Sarah Ann Roginsky
Safety is exhausting and you are warm. If I remain here, my spotted, shivering camouflage is my only guardian. But you could do so much damage even as your heat and light serve as my protectors. You are also my predator. There is no flight far enough to avoid that. Listen to the crack of your embers sync with the beat of my wings. Just listen and let me fly close without scorching. The heat is burning. You are burning. The light is burningâ€Ś No, no, not yetâ€” I am soaring.
Fire Breather Daniela Pereira
Surely the One I want to see can see the geography of a heart. Tundras in the east, deserts in the west. Many are the words we write in this age of endless dead trees but the only tower I want to leave etched in a leaf is this burning belief:
my Redeemer lives. “The love of many will grow cold,” calls the All-Consuming Fire. “Then set me ablaze,” whimpers my vanishing embers. This All-Consuming Fire can crack the lungs of the lands of endless ice. Really? South? North? All the four corners of the planet? The last thousand years have yet to dawn… and I feel a call to be a fire breather.
Living Waters Review
He Used to be a Dragon Nathan Lord
Slowly, with the touch of grace
orders thirty hamburgers.
he will exit his cave. It’s a nice, moderate cave, recently strung up with lights.
After eating, he sees that he has extra time, so he smokes on the sidewalk
Whereas he would normally fly into town,
for a few minutes.
his wings have been clipped for some years now, so he will drive.
He gets to work early, and finds a good parking
If the rusty car doesn’t start (again)
he will have to walk
The meeting consists of many large, five-digit
to the closest station and take the bus.
numbers, so his boss is happy, which means everyone else
Today the car works,
which means he can drive past the farmlands and rolling hills.
Back home, in the light of the television,
If he were younger, he might pull the car aside,
before putting them back in their case,
leap the fence, and catch as many sheep or cows
he polishes his scales.
as he can carry before flying into the sun with the farmer’s scream on his back. It has been a while since a hunt, however, and he has a meeting at ten o’clock, so he stops at a fast food restaurant and
Garden Tensia Clark
Living Waters Review
Sledding Tom Lubben
omehow he reaches the end of the hill—it had been a flurry of burning white in his face and the stomach-lifting sensation of a furious descent. He lies on his back in the sled, eyes closed, face dripping melted snow. Yesterday, or maybe twelve seconds ago, he had stood at the height of the hill, a sled in his hand, welcoming the snow desert, scarred with the hundred tracks of sledders. For a wide hill, only a few made the very bottom. The many others veered into the trees, slipped and disappeared into subtle hollows, or petered into nothing. These last paths had the telltale ditches on either side of them: brake marks, where boots or mittened hands thrust outside the sled kept it from moving too quickly—and getting too far. But because of these tracks he would reach the end. He could locate the mysterious dip in the hill (that pulled sleds into the trees) and just make out the hollows, now outlined by enough old runner sketches. And he knew that he could not slow his fall. Gently, he placed the sled at the summit and settled into it on his stomach. Amid the shouting of the other sledders, he could hear the snow crunch beneath him, and he didn’t yet feel any urge from the sled to begin sliding. A ragged no-man’s-land, the hill looked indiscernible and treacherous from his new perspective. With hands sweating in his gloves, he urged himself six inches further—the sled still crunched passively, no sliding. Another six inches, and still no sliding. Another six inches, and he wondered if he would be pushing himself the whole way when the ground abruptly shifted underneath him, he almost lurched from the sled, and—in the same moment of unbalance and terror—cometed downward. He fought the sting of the flying wind as he pried his eyes open, watching for the dip into the trees. It passed
immediately on his left—he somehow found time to feel some satisfaction. Avoiding the hollows wouldn’t be difficult; they were farther from his trail than the woods. But a second later the ground disappeared beneath him—he had somehow misread the contour of the slope and was now diving into the deepest hollow in the hill. The soundless experience suspended over the abyss is written timelessly into his memory, although it lasted only an instant before the sled crashed downward. He felt the full weight of his speed in his chest—there is no forgiveness in the ice-snow that coats the cold bellies of these hollows. An almost involuntary urge to roll from his sled and recover from the fall came over him, to stretch his bruised body into a snow bank and forget about reaching the bottom, and he nearly gave into it. He had lost most of his momentum anyway, and numbing snow caked his face. Before he could thrust his boots downward, however, he felt a jerk beneath him and the fwish of steadily increasing speed. The runners had caught a track—a solitary track that must have run straight down the hill and somehow carved through the pit to continue on the other side. It was a deep, unswerving cut, as if it lost no momentum from the hollow. The snow blew from his face as he coasted to the bottom. He finds himself on his back. The place he encounters now is still and soft, untouched by the sharp blades of a sled’s runners except for the trail that carried him here. He opens his eyes to a vaulted, blue sky. The sounds of others on the hill is distant now, their cries like shouted questions from another world.
Flash Fiction 31
The Sun Kurt Burghardt
Foggy fingerprints on the glass… soft opalescent curves caress the tranquility of the spacious green regime humming-a-hum-humm-humming-a-hum-song. Bird flittering,
flash, a bird of the allegro
feeling the sun. On a red hibiscus, Island drums a bird… Allegro! Vivaldi! Look! A bird, feeling the sun, a sweet quenching buzz, a flitter, the bird, a shimmer, symbiotic under…God all yes communed light ful notes feeling the sun. Buzz-a-flyaway, gone-it-goes-it-leaves-it-left left-right, left like the cadence of tap-marching drums left, left like the memories of bliss-blissful-innocence. Again will it come? Gone-flyaway-it-leaves-it-left, into the sunset, copper-red. Yes, I felt the sun.
Living Waters Review
Sun Melt Megan Freeman
Dr. Death Sarah Bruinooge
Short Story 34
syringe filled with bubble-gum pink liquid lay on the examination table. Tiny bumps rippled under my skin as I held an anesthesia mask over the mouth of a baby raccoon. It was always shivery cold in this animal hospital. I pinched the paw of the little guy, but there was no movement. Leaving the mask on him, I rolled him onto his right side and aligned the left elbow joint with his beating heart. The syringe slid into the thick skin easily, and I pulled back on the syringe slightly until bright red liquid flooded the tube. I pushed down hard, removed the needle and held the stethoscope to the furry chest. In only a few seconds, his heavy breaths began to slow until the steady thumping ceased. It was done. I wrapped the body in a small black garbage bag, labeled it “Wildlife,” and walked to the giant freezer in the back of the hospital. I dropped the remains inside. “Hey, Dr. Death!” Jack said. He was a tall, lanky thirtyyear-old doctor who vaguely resembled Shaggy from Scooby-Doo. He shouted from across the room over the clanging of surgical tools, “Looks like you got another one!” “Yup.” Making my way back to the wildlife room, I noticed Angela already standing in the doorway ready to hand me a shoebox with holes in the top. Angela, a chatty Italian with an accent as thick as her long black hair, rambled breathlessly, “Three baby bunnies, lawn mower accident this time, poor landscaper looks like a ghost out there, you should see him—a huge guy with tattoos about ready to cry filling out paperwork. So I’ll be back soon.” Angela vanished before I could even open my mouth. I peeked in the box
and, sure enough, there were three baby bunnies among some blood-stained grass. With a fresh pair of gloves, I gingerly picked up each little bundle of fur and examined them. One bunny had already gone completely stiff, and the others were mangled pretty badly. No need to get a doctor’s approval for this one. I put the lid back on the shoebox, walked over to the surgical table, and prepared the anesthesia machine once again. “Don’t worry little guys,” I whispered. “You won’t feel a thing.” While concentrating on filling a couple syringes with Beuthanasia, I was startled to hear Jen’s voice booming over my shoulder, “Zoe, what’s in the box? You’re not euthanizing anything, are you?” Jen was always getting in my business. And everyone else’s for that matter, but especially mine. She was a tech, a good one, but she liked to play doctor and boss me around. Her slender figure struggled to keep a barking German Shepherd under control while I answered, “It’s just some bunnies from a lawn mower accident.” I focused my attention on the syringes, trying to look too busy for small talk. “That’s terrible! I’d help you, but this sweet shepherd needs blood work done.” The snarling beast pulled her away before I could fake a disappointed response. I’d handle the deaths myself. Goodbye, little bunnies. During the interview for this job, I was asked if I had a strong stomach. Yes, I do. But nobody had asked about a strong emotional capacity. After putting the bunnies in the freezer, I went outside and sat on the curb in the parking lot, trying to escape the
Living Waters Review
odor of litter boxes and chemicals. I dug into my lunchbox for some much-needed fuel, and I noticed how the parking lot was silent—a pleasant break from the barking and other commotion inside the wildlife hospital. Enjoying the summer breeze and taking a hungry bite out of my ham and cheese sandwich, I watched the sparrows fly from one tree to another. I warned them, “Don’t get injured, okay? Or you’ll end up like your friends inside.” I shuddered when I saw a shadow come up beside me, but relaxed when I realized it was Dr. Jack, a.k.a. Shaggy. “Who are you talking to out here, Zoe?” “You know, just myself. I’m my own best listener.” “Don’t tell me you’re going crazy like the rest of them. I need at least one sane coworker I can talk to.” Shaggy lit a cigarette and sat down on the curb next to me. He was always ranting to me about the staff. Even though the hospital consisted of over twenty workers, Jack was convinced that I, Dr. Death, was the only qualified human being. So he always aligned his smoke breaks with my lunch breaks. We chatted for a bit—well, he chatted for a bit— about crazy clients and a demon-possessed cat, until his cigarette disappeared to a small stub. He thanked me for listening, flicked the stub onto the pavement and stood up from the curb. “See ya back in hell!” he shouted as he walked away. Back inside, the litter box smell was worse, and I could see a stack of shoeboxes piled up for me. The paperwork on my desk told me that the inhabitants were a hatchling bird, two baby squirrels, and a baby mouse. Starting with the hatchling, I prepared an incubator by setting it to a toasty eighty degrees and shoved a bundle of cloth inside to create an artificial nest. The hatchling was mostly naked except for small tufts of hair on her head and back. She was so ugly she was actually cute. I picked up the blush-colored little bird and placed her in her new home. Her eyes weren’t opened yet, but she was lively with her head already popping up and her bright yellow beak wide open. The poor creature might get to see the light—actual daylight. The squirrels were next, and they were going to get a warm bed in one of the small carriers. Neither one was injured too badly except for a few scratches. Nothing lifethreatening. Their fur was already coming in, but their eyes were still shut. I tented the skin on their backs and found them very dehydrated. Poor guys probably fell from their nest. Some fluid over the next few hours would perk them
back up, no problem. Lastly, the baby mouse. The paperwork mentioned that a woman found him under a carpet while vacuuming. This lady must have a big heart in order to save a tiny, insignificant mouse. Most people would have tossed him in the backyard. Now he was my responsibility, and it wasn’t going to be easy. The mouse was slightly bigger than the tip of my thumb, and its gray fur was like velvet. His eyes were squinted shut, which meant he still needed his mother. Considering he had to be fed five percent of his body weight and probably wouldn’t even register on the scale, I already knew there wouldn’t be a feeding syringe small enough for the minuscule amount he needed. But before I could brainstorm on what had to be done, Jen walked into the wildlife room and interrupted my train of thought. “I heard there was a baby mouse that came in while you were on your lunch break—oh, can I take a peek?” She craned her neck eagerly, looking for where the mouse might be. She wasn’t supposed to be in the wildlife room, and she knew it. Reluctantly and without a word, I opened my hand and revealed the dime of fur resting comfortably in my palm. Jen gasped at the tiny creature. Realizing the situation at hand, she immediately began drilling me with questions. “Have you made up a home for him yet? You know he’s too young for solid foods, right? Does Dr. Jack know about this mouse?” “Don’t worry, I just opened the box,” I said, “and Jack doesn’t know about it. When you walked in I was still examining him.” Jen relaxed a little. “Alright, that’s good, that’s good. Don’t tell Jack. He’ll see that the mouse is too tiny and immediately tell you to euthanize him. He’ll say we don’t have small enough feeding syringes. But wait, I have an idea.” Jen always had ideas; it’s what got her into trouble. Though she tried religiously to save every last animal that appeared in the hospital, most of her attempts ended up in the freezer. Jack felt that she was doing more harm than good by allowing the animals that should be euthanized to linger and suffer. After the last incident involving a rabid skunk, Jen was banished from this part of the hospital. Most days I stood my ground, but there was something about the hope in her voice and the way that velvet ball rested in the crease of my hand that made me trust this
Short Story 35
Short Story 36
idea was going to work. While Jen rummaged through bins of miscellaneous equipment, I began making a home for the little animal. After adding some cloth to a small carrier, I asked Jen, “So, um, what exactly is your plan for this mouse? We don’t have small enough feeding syringes. And if he can’t eat, he’ll starve to death. It’s only a matter of time.” Jen was quick to reply, “I’ve tried this once before. I was too late last time, but I think it could work now. Just give me a second to find this thing. Ugh, there’s none in this room. Hold on, I’ll be right back.” “Okay, hold on,” I whispered to the mouse. Jen reappeared several seconds later with a stupid smile plastered on her face. She held up a familiar needle encased in plastic. A needle? I thought the whole purpose was to not inject the mouse with lethal pink juice. Jen was about to explain her plan when Angela stomped into the room with a filthy, dirt-covered carrier. Angela took one look at Jen, rolled her eyes and said in disgust, “What are you doing? Don’t make me call Jack over here. Zoe, is she bother—” “Oh, just mind your own business,” Jen cut in. “I was just helping Zoe with something. Stop being so dramatic, there’s no need to call Jack.” I decided to ease the tension before things escalated. “Jen was just helping me, Angela, it’s okay. What do you have in the carrier?” “It’s from Animal Control—another baby raccoon— and it doesn’t look too good. Also, Animal Control needs their carrier back immediately.” “Lovely,” I said with heavy sarcasm. “Of course, Animal Control wants their carrier back immediately. As if I’m not already busy.” Angela waved her hands around. “Listen, I’m stuck at the front desk trying to help clients, and this creepy animal control guy keeps trying to flirt with me! Please, hurry up with that carrier so he leaves!” “I’ll be fast, don’t worry!” I responded with a laugh. “Thanks—you’re a lifesaver, Zoe!” Angela was already out the door when I peeked into the carrier. Jen was right behind me, peeking, too. I needed to stand my ground, so I politely began, “Hey, I got this one. Go help Jack with his appointments, and we can take care of that mouse later.” Jen nodded and left me to examine the baby raccoon
alone. The small room was getting crowded with all the new tenants arriving. Not to mention my nostrils were permanently coated with the smell of urine and feces. With a towel in hand, I carefully opened the carrier and pulled out the raccoon. He was too young to be aggressive yet, so getting bit wouldn’t be an issue. However, his hind legs had gone completely stiff. Having seen this before, I guessed it was distemper. Different symptoms than rabies, but just as dangerous. “Dang.” I went ahead and began preparing the anesthesia machine, and I also weighed the tiny raccoon. 544 grams. That means that the raccoon will need about 28 cc’s of formula for each feeding. Or 28 cc’s of pink juice. Jen returned while I was organizing some paperwork. She held up the needle and that stupid smile returned to her face. “It’s time, Zoe!” I had never seen Jen so happy. “Alright, I’m ready to hear your idea. The mouse is still resting comfortably.” “Good! Okay, so, we aren’t going to use the needle I showed you. We’re just going to use the plastic covering around the needle. It will create a small enough tube that should fit inside the mouth of Max.” “Max?” “I know we aren’t supposed to name the animals, but Max just fits him so well, don’t you think?” Jen pulled off the plastic around the tiny needle and threw it in the sharps disposal. “We won’t be needing that part,” she claimed cheerfully. After cutting the tube down to a shorter size and manipulating it to fit on the smallest of the feeding syringes, Jen was beaming. She filled the syringe with a pre-made formula that was leftover from a previous rodent, and it seemed like her plan for saving the mouse was actually going to work. Jen lifted Max from his bedding, his little body lumped in her palm. She held the tube up to his mouth and let the liquid slowly drip out. Max seemed to enjoy the first lick, but then refused any more. I could see Jen’s face slowly sink. She had invented a way to feed Max, but the rest was up to him. If he didn’t ingest the formula soon, he would become lethargic and die. For the next hour, Jen patiently tried to hold the tube up to Max’s mouth, waiting for him to swallow each individual drop of formula. Only about four drops had been consumed, and at that rate, Max was going to starve to death. Fully committed to saving him, Jen refused to leave the
Living Waters Review
wildlife room. I let her handle the mouse while I tended to the hatchling bird and baby squirrels. Luckily, no other animals had come in since the raccoon. I left the room for a few minutes to assist a tech in holding a vicious Chihuahua, and when I returned, Jen was sobbing quietly with the mouse in her hand. He was snuggled up to her wedding ring. She brushed over the gray fur a few times with her finger before she grabbed a paper towel and slowly wrapped up Max with so much precision she seemed to be wrapping a tiny Christmas gift. With a red sharpie she found on the cluttered desk in the corner, she drew a heart over him. Jen turned to me, wiped some tears, and whispered, “It’s okay, he’s in a better place now.” Then she proceeded to walk towards the freezer. As I stood in the doorway watching the funeral procession, Jack eased up to me and whispered, “It’s weird she named him Max, huh? That was her husband’s name. He died from a freak heart-attack in his sleep eight years ago.” So he died in his sleep. I was at a loss for words, while Jen slowly placed the neatly wrapped towel in the freezer. Her back was shaking, and it was obvious that she was still sobbing over Max. She closed the freezer, stared at the door for a moment, and walked away. I whispered so quietly I’m not sure Jack heard, “What a beautiful way to die.”
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Noni’s Herb Garden Savvy Myles
Taste this she says what is it do you know it’s mint I say as my teeth pinch the leaf I know it’s mint because mint feels like a blizzard’s breath a sharp exhale it’s what new beginnings smell like and I’d know that freedom anywhere when I swallow the leaf Noni plucks a deep green blade that looks like an old leather seat and I know this one before I even put it on my tongue but I pretend that I have to taste and
Prose Poetry 38
smell it first to know basil I don’t like basil but I don’t say that because Noni grew it herself Noni does what she wants she wanted to live on the beach so she put a sandbox at the beginning of her screened-in pool she wanted the garden of a Brit and so she put some herbs in a couple of pots on her back porch she wanted to go back to Nantucket so she painted her friendly fence white but I understand what it’s like to want what you can’t have so I put the next herb she offers me into my mouth and I forget what I’m chewing on it’s thyme she says and I blink before I realize she’s telling me it’s the name of the contents between my teeth oh yeah I say I forgot about that one mint is still my favorite though Noni knows this and plucks a few more pieces off the plant and tells me she’ll make me loose-leaf tea inside so we leave the garden walk along her beach and go back into her little Nantucket cottage.
Living Waters Review
Likeness Brooke Pearson
An Old Prophet Dies Tom Lubben
He sailed through the world, a nimbus cloud, and no one knew; a quickening cloaked in his clear, gray face— if we had let him choose, he would have washed the pearls from the gutters, rolled them free to jump through the streets into open doors
and never leave.
40 He would have shaded our science from a too-constructed sun: when theories evolved into forward dreams that bled our world of color. But away he drifted with the late summer sky and no one knew though our souls were rinsed with rain and dust was loosed, the clots that clung—stiff cataracts— to our eyes. And still the planet quietly mourns when a prophet dies.
Living Waters Review
Owl Tensia Clark
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Forest Train John Humphrey
Praise God, you gasping, wood-bound train, heave your rusty voice above the pines, shake their branches with your thunder. Praise God, as your many-colored coat of paint so patched and dusted by the trees sparks perfect gold and red along the river.
Praise God, you silent forest train where the cold moon looks your surface over, the grass is soft, the firs whisper at your shoulder. Praise God and sing as the sweet wind brings other songs through your hollow, hollow walls, when the rails that pulled you through this world have sprawled. Praise God, when angels take your line, a glory track now stretched to heavenâ€™s woods. Praise God, spark perfect gold across the sky.
Living Waters Review
Creation Psalm Therese Hair
Where the mountains meet the sky here I lie on my back and look up at the clouds. Are you there? But even the whisper of the wind is too loud to hear your voice. The air is still. It is not the wind that whispers but my thoughts. Round, round, round again until I have thought you out of existence… A gentle tug, I turn my head: nothing. A bird chirrups and I see the notes of music drift from its beak like words. The birds speak when you don’t. The trees speak when you don’t. The rivers speak when you don’t. The rain speaks when you don’t. But you do.
Beyond Sarah Ann Roginsky
Who am I to look upon you? There is a reason men do not look at the sun, yet my gaze always returns to your face woven into the mountain crags. Who are you to look upon me?
Planets donâ€™t alter their orbits for the sake of a single asteroid. I dwell in a marble shack; you make your bed with thunderclouds. Who am I to look upon you? Your knowledge extends past time and beyond the heavens; your wisdom through ages and kingdoms, not passed to rubble. Who are we to look upon you?
Living Waters Review
Death Was Not Olivia Rawlins
Walls gravely stare upon open pews and candles as my voice wrings withered pleas, knees bare and ground into polished wood, palms outstretched towards open Heaven in motions of nail-piercing, fist-clenching begging. Beautiful are Your ways, oh Lord, masterful are You in Your refinement. I see Your goodness in the midst of torrent, I hear Your voice through the sirens
through the screams—
you love me despite.
It was my fingers that fumbled with the nail, my calloused palms that clenched the hammer. A silent Heaven watched as my throat hoarsely screamed. For Your cross. For Your agony. For Your execution. But Lord, You love me despite. Crimson streams turned my stains crisp—new—bleached. Heaven roars with piercing triumph. A robbed tomb, an inoperative grave gave way to Love. Though my limbs held Your death, death was not Your limitation. It was our life.
Il Ciclista Alyssa Smith
Living Waters Review
Things Alexandra Gomez
And I still believe
From name and body and experience
in thingsâ€”written notes and
is a mind that learns to formulate
shades of rose, or silver or gold
the architecture of ideas,
in bands made to bind;
and contemplates what is verdant,
what is dead, and the purpose of remembering,
brass keys and wooden or steel frames
what is right, and the nature of its inverse,
filled with yellowed, stationary moments;
what is history, and the nuance of fact,
threads of memories held as keepsakes
what is fiction or truth,
in other dulled and dust-layered trinkets,
or both to be reflected in books;
of gifts, advice, inheritance and heritageâ€”
47 a mind that learns these things,
things of perceived inconsequence.
and recognizes Design in things of perceived inconsequence.
Embedded in their sentiments I find the moving parts of self; of name and body and experience: one inner asylum in illimitable number that considers the daydream more and too often than the timetable; the sweet and savory hues of stargazer forms; the earth-ridden wonders and their unbidden origins.
A Springtime in London Hannah Nelson
Ashen glazed lion statues guard your threshold while a screen of muted gray covers the foliage concealing the statues’ warmth from a yearning sun laden with spring. Your arms are bare, still— they wait for the weight of
their tender years, youthful years. Colors still dim, and yet your spirit will awaken once more. There is a hymn inside you, just beyond the breath before the blossoms— it will explode after the budding. There is no reason to wait for the light to come, for you always bring it with you.
Living Waters Review
On Visiting Keukenhof Gardens in April Hannah Menendez
Is there a space for me here between the tulips and hyacinth? These rows of pink and yellow and purple are narrow stitches in a hemline, blocks of color bright as quilt patches. These tulips are teacups— perfect additions to overcast skies; I’d like to sit among you blooms with a book and drink tea—do you mind? My boots are worn and my coat is stained, but just the same, I’d like to rest in this quilt of Dutch art, these tulips surrounded by tourists—my grandmother brings me tea in a paper cup and we sit quietly while we breathe in the steam intertwined with the hyacinth scent. Not too narrow a space, you see? We’re visiting a rain-grown tulip-sea—almost Caribbean in its colors and placidity; tonight we will navigate this sea by the stars when we dream. I’ll dream of an ever-present space in gardens to read and wonder why the sky sometimes hides behind something as insubstantial as vapor, and I’ll drink tea out of tulip-cups.
Fourteen Piece Parabolic Tea Set Austin Peightel
Living Waters Review
Yolande in Gray Tippet (after John Sloan) Emily Dillie
Yolande, you donâ€™t smile in the Mona Lisa way. Hands smugly warm in your silky gray muff and are you laughing at me? Your half-upturned lips match your proper auburn coat, black eyes reflect the blackness of your velvet bonnet, hiding (mostly) a mass of thickly brown suggestive curls fastened tightly beneath your stubborn chin. Cranberries stain your ivory cheeksâ€” Are you overheated? Chilled? Embarrassed? Those smirking almond eyes meet my pale blue, looking me over, a millennial girl sweating from a too hot September day. But you come from New York in November, brisk and autumn, breathing all the winds and smells that Florida denies. What secrets are you smuggling? Tell me, tell this too quiet room, whisper it to me because I need your laugh. Where did you get that gray scarf ? Did you know when you put that tippet on, terribly soft, that your simple fashion statement would outlive the artist sketching you? Did you stress over what to wear that day, did you know it would become your identity? What brought you to this pose? Promises of money or fame or love or vanity? Tell me, what makes you smile that way, Yolande?
Light Room Katie Forsythe
Breathing no longer, as the sound of shuttering takes a moment of light captive into darkness. Pressing people into pixels, crushing carbon into color, seeking a way out, we wade in toxic waters. Waiting for a question to rise from an ocean of solution. Long live the chemicals that paint the past onto future frames. Cautious of a canvas that does not welcome oils, weâ€™re left out to dry.
Pinched by cold plastic, expecting old oxygen to breathe us back to a place of familiarity. Brought forth from the dark trusting hues to give us hope, knowing no amount of saturation can regenerate the situation that made us prisoners. Looking now, we see the truth of what we are: overexposed and underdeveloped.
Living Waters Review
Mid-November Tucker Lux
All at once, the annual stained glass ecstasy of leaves has flared and fallen, and we look out and walk out under barren branches, gray skyâ€™s knitted brow, knowing, dreading, though enlivening. Fall remains and Spring waits. We plod, collars up heads down hands in pockets, into Winter. Somehow, we did not see it coming. We do not know for how long, or how bitter.
According to Jack Martin, Age Seven, Macon, Georgia Cody Cox
saw a fish in my lake! The fish was big as a school
bus and the color of a ghost. It was a hot day so Mama said I could go swim. I ran down the rickety cedar dock and leapt high, crashing into the water. And when I was
Flash Fiction 54
underwater I opened my eyes. The water burned, but I saw long green weeds shooting out of muck and little minnows circling. Usually, I don’t see much in the lake but that day was different. I stayed underwater and watched the fish swim in the lake behind our house. He was a very good swimmer and I tried to follow. My eyes burned and burned but I couldn’t close them because I didn’t want to miss the fish. He swam in big circles at first, and then small ones too, moving closer and closer around me. When he got real close, I saw through the scales and there were gleaming children. Had the fish gobbled them up? I wanted so bad to touch the fish, even just the tip of his tail while he circled. My heart began to hurt, and then the pain spread down to my stomach because I chased the fish around my lake for a whole hour. Whenever I took my eyes off the fish I began to sink at the feeling of not seeing him again. I came an inch away once and tried to grab the tail, but then I got a headache like the kind that keeps me out of school. My skin got so wrinkled from chasing the fish that I look like a wise man now.
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Crest Zach Guinta
Fish in the Water Caleb Roderick
Marco The boy smells chlorine, sunscreen, and fear. Marco He feels the water deciding between his chest and his chin he feels the cold of the water in his toes and thighs he feels cold elsewhere—in his core— and not from the water.
Marco He sees nothing. Marco He hears the same thing, the same nothing. Marco Are the fish out of water? He is as out of his element as a fish at market. He wishes for some sign of safety. Marco “You kids play fair.” Polo Thank God.
Living Waters Review
No Trees to Climb in Arizona Abigail Skinner
he end of summer always smelled like honey and sweat. Honey, because late August was harvesting season, and sweat, because, well, it was Georgia in late August and you couldn’t find a hotter place on earth than Georgia in late August. We never minded the heat, though, Patrick and me. The harvest was our favorite part of summer, our favorite part of staying at Gram and Pop’s farm, even though it meant it was almost time to go back home to Arizona and begin another school year. “I don’t know why you bother fishing,” I said to Patrick. “Have you even caught anything all summer?” He sat on the bank of the pond, chin in his hand, bobbing his bait up and down in the murky water. I thought he was going to ignore me. He’d been doing a lot of that lately. But then he said, “Fishing isn’t always about catching, Lily. Sometimes fishing is just about fishing.” I hated how mean his voice sounded. I answered, “Seems like a waste if you don’t catch anything.” From my spot up in the big river burch tree next to the pond, I saw Patrick roll his eyes. Days moved slowly in the summer. Patrick fished and skipped rocks, I sat in the big tree, reading novels about pirates and treasure maps and fabulous sea voyages while trying to dodge the fire ant trails that ran up and down the length of its trunk. Every once in a while, Pop let us help with the beehives, but most of the time he liked to be left alone with them. Except for the harvest. He always let us help with the harvest. After a few more minutes and no more luck than he’d seen all summer, Patrick packed up his tackle box, set it at the base of the tree, and climbed up.
“I’m getting better at climbing, don’t you think?” His voice was kinder now. I was a much better tree climber than Patrick. It had taken him nearly three months and a knee full of scratches to learn the proper technique. I nodded and closed my book, marking my place with a leaf I’d plucked from the tree. “No trees to climb in Arizona,” he said softly. I looked at him and he looked back at me and there was something pained in his eyes. But then he blinked and his eyes were just his eyes again, bright green and clear with a little bit of gold around the pupils. Much more interesting than my boring brown ones. People were always telling us we looked exactly alike, except for our eyes. Same pin-straight, dirty blond hair, same cheeks covered in freckles from too much exposure to the desert sun. Patrick was taller than me, though. I liked that. Even though we were twins, there were still a couple things that made us different. I chewed on my fingernail and studied the hazy afternoon sky and tried not to say the thing I wanted to say. But the nail was bitten down to the quick and it was starting to bleed and I couldn’t help it. “Why did you do it?” I blurted out. “Why did you have to ruin everything? You’re such a moron, Patrick. You know that? You’re a stupid moron who only thinks about himself!” I hadn’t meant to shout and I hadn’t meant for hot tears to form behind my eyes, but the words had been building up inside me for almost a week now and I couldn’t hold them in any longer. “I’m sorry, Lily. I’m sorry, okay? How many times are you gonna make me say it?” He sounded sad and all I wanted to do was forgive him so things would stop being weird between us, but I couldn’t.
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Short Story 58
What he did in that store wasn’t even so bad. But Mom and Dad thought it was bad. They thought it was inexcusable. So they decided that Patrick was going to stay on the farm and work and go to school. He would live in Georgia, while I went back to Arizona, alone. Patrick was waiting for me to say something more, but I just shook my head, jumped down from the tree, and ran away from the pond. I slowed when I got to the frame hives. Pop was using the smoker to calm the bees so he could work inside the hives. He had on a veil, but no gloves. Amateur beekeepers always wore full protective clothing, but Pop had been keeping bees for over 60 years, and besides, by this late in the season those bees knew him just as well as they knew their queen. They’d formed a bond of trust and would only attack if they felt threatened. “Honey soon,” he said when I’d walked within earshot. He placed the smoker on a little wooden table next to one of the hives and lifted the veil over his head. “You and Gram started preparing the jars yet?” “A little,” I said. “Gonna be a big harvest, Silly Lily, maybe twice as big as last year’s. Think you’re up for it?” He winked and gave my arm a gentle punch. I smiled despite the anger I still felt burning in my chest. Next to Patrick, Pop was the person who knew me best in the world. He could always tell when I was upset and he always knew exactly what to say to make it better. “Where’s your brother?” “I don’t know. Who cares?” “You’re still upset with him.” I kicked the ground, burying my toe in the muddy grass. “Not just him.” “Now, you listen to me, Lillian,” his voice was stern but soft, “what Patrick did was wrong. He’s a smart boy and he should have known better, so he’s paying the price.” “Why are they making him stay? Why can’t they just ground him when we get back home? Why does he have to stay?” Pop let out a big breath, looked at me through eyes squinted against the late afternoon sun. “Your parents think,” he hesitated. The bees crescendoed behind us like a never-ending song of summer. “Your parents think it would be best if the two of you spent time apart.” His voice sounded strange, thin and watery and not at all like
his usual deep bass. His voice sounded like he didn’t want to tell me what he was telling me, but he continued anyway. “You’ve been inseparable for fifteen years. Going to the same school, hardly hanging out with anyone besides each other, spending every summer here with your grandma and me. And in light of what happened with Patrick, they just thought it was time for you both to grow up a little. On your own. I’m sorry, Lily.” I stood there, hearing the words but not understanding what they meant, not understanding why our parents would want to separate us. The bees kept on with their song. I cleared my throat and bit the inside of my lip to dry up the tears before they fell. “Okay,” I said, trying to make my voice strong and sure, “I understand.” Then I ran to the house, taking the dilapidated wooden steps that led up to the front door two at a time. *** The bee farm sat on twelve acres of land just outside of Macon. It was a relatively uninhabited area; Gram and Pop’s closest neighbors lived about three miles away. Over the years, Patrick and I had made friends with a few kids who lived closer to town, but most of them were weird and only cared about smoking and sneaking liquor from their parents’ houses and getting drunk out in the middle of nowhere, so after a while we stopped hanging out with them. We had each other and Gram and Pop and the beehives and the big tree and the fishpond and the woods behind the house that were perfect for exploring, and that was enough. For six summers we had a summer home. We knew this place almost as well as we knew the sand, rocks, and cactuses of Arizona. The sprawling landscape of Georgia was different—the infinite cerulean sky, broken along the horizon by the bright green of the hills, making the whole earth appear halfblue and halfgreen, like there was nothing else winding through all eternity. *** When I got inside the house, Gram was at the sink washing dishes. Wordlessly, I picked up a towel and took the wet plates from the drying rack, wiping each one carefully and setting them inside the kitchen cabinets.
Living Waters Review
She said, “I was thinking tomorrow would be a good day to go into town and pick out the honey jars.” Gram had an apron tied around her small waist. Even at seventy-three, my father’s mother was still one of the most beautiful women I’d ever seen. Soft, pink skin, long, curly hair that was partly brown and partly gray, and the same clear green eyes as Patrick. I didn’t think I looked anything like her. “Pop said we’d need double what we had last year,” I said. “It’s been a wonderful season. Not much rain.” I finished drying the plates and asked, “Do you think this is the last summer Patrick and I are gonna stay here?” A look of genuine concern masked her usually cheerful face. “Sweetheart, what on earth would make you think that? You know your grandpa and I love having you and your brother stay with us.” “I don’t know, just this thing with Patrick.” I looked down at the floor, my voice almost too low to hear, “It seems like everything’s changing.” For the third time that day, I bit back tears. Gram leaped over, wrapped me up in her strong, soft arms, and brushed through my hair with her fingers. “Nothing’s changing, Lily. He’s still your brother. He’ll always be your brother. And as far as I’m concerned, you can stay with us every summer until the end of time. Besides, who would help us with the harvest if we didn’t have you two around?” I laughed into her shoulder, breathing in the smell of lemon dish soap and rosemary. “You got that crazy idea out of your head now?” she asked, pulling away but still holding my shoulders. “I don’t want you talking anymore nonsense like that, got it?” I nodded and wiped my nose. “Got it.” “Good. Now come help me with the labels.” *** When I was eight, I broke my leg doing a cartwheel in our backyard. It was an Olympics year and Patrick and I had become obsessed with watching the gymnasts flip and twirl across the red mats. After watching, we’d go outside and try to imitate their graceful movements, usually returning thirty minutes later with several bruises and tear-stained cheeks. On that particular day, I decided I’d finally perfect my cartwheel. I’d been working on it for days, each time getting
my legs a little bit straighter and a little bit higher. Patrick sat on one of our playset’s swings, swaying back and forth slowly and carving two parallel lines in the sand with his feet. “Patrick, watch. This is gonna be my best one.” It wasn’t my best one, not even close, and I had to spend two weeks in the hospital with a broken fibula. But it wasn’t the pain of cracking my bone that I remembered the most; it wasn’t the months spent in a cast; it wasn’t the rubbery hospital pudding my parents forced me to eat. It wasn’t the weird cartoons I watched on the hospital TV every day. It wasn’t any of that. It was Patrick. He stayed by my hospital bed and held my hand, only letting go when he needed to go down to the cafeteria to get dinner with my parents. He always made sure the nurse told him exactly how I was doing so he could offer a prognosis for healing. Even after my leg had healed and I’d gotten the cast removed, he treated me a little differently. Like he was my protector. Like he needed to keep me safe from all the scary things like breaking bones and scuffing knees, and as we got older, all the painful things like mean kids at school and the death of our dog, Penny. No matter how scary the world got, Patrick was always my protector. A few days before the harvest, we had helped Gram cook fried fish and potatoes for dinner and apple pie for dessert. I loved helping Gram in the kitchen. Patrick hated it, but he helped anyway because it made Gram happy. After dinner, we sat at the table with Gram and Pop, making labels for the honey jars for nearly two hours, until our fingers were stained black from ink and our eyelids felt droopy. Later, the night was cool and humid and a full moon hung low in the sky, illuminating the lawn in a milky half-light. Crickets chirped rhythmically from their hidden homes and the bees hummed loud and long. I could hardly distinguish one sound from the other and it seemed like all that existed in the whole world was just the night and the crickets and the bees. Patrick joined me on the lawn. He’d thrown a blue bathrobe over his pajamas and his hands were shoved in the pockets. I didn’t say anything. I walked over to the hives, knowing he’d follow me.
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Short Story 60
There were four frames, each placed strategically to form a square: one facing south, one facing east, one facing west, and one facing north. It was a theory Pop had. He thought it made the bees more productive. Gram always said it didn’t make a lick of difference what direction they faced. I sat down on the patch of ground in the middle of all four hives. Patrick followed behind a few seconds later, and for a while we just sat there, letting the night fill us up with all its sounds and secrets. Eventually, Patrick spoke, very quietly: “I don’t know why I stole the stupid baseball cards anyway.” He picked at the grass and wouldn’t meet my eyes. “I don’t know why I did it.” I nodded but stayed quiet, waiting for him to speak again. This is what I wanted. For him to talk to me, to tell me why. “I was just bored. And the guy wasn’t even paying attention, he was just sitting at the counter reading a magazine. It just made me mad. I don’t know why. There were people in his store and he didn’t even care about them, just kept reading that stupid magazine. So I pocketed three or four packs of cards. I know it was wrong, but the guy deserved it, Lily. He was a real jerk. I just knew he was. But he looked up right when I was doing it. And he hesitated for a second, can you believe that? Looked back down at his magazine like he was trying to decide if he was gonna care that his gas station was being robbed. But I guess he decided he was, because he threw the magazine down and started yelling, threatening to call the police and have me arrested, all kinds of crazy things. Over a few packs of baseball cards.” He finished talking, ripped out a handful of grass, and threw it up towards the sky. I watched as the blades fell slowly to the earth, weighed down by the moisture in the air. I couldn’t think of a single thing to say. “It’s all my fault. It’s my fault they’re separating us.” Finally he looked at me. Silent tears ran down his face, glistening when they caught the moonlight. “I’m so sorry.” “Pop said we should be ready to harvest the day after tomorrow,” I said after a while. I hoped he knew. Patrick wiped at his eyes and lay down in the dirt. “I want to remember what they sound like. I want to remember.” “We’re gonna be fine,” I whispered. “We’re gonna be fine, just listen. Listen to the bees.”
Living Waters Review
Ambrosia Olivia Taylor
North Carolina apple crunch is a breezy balsam message from an unknown windswept world painted in the orange stains of iron-rusted clay and cinnamon smiles dim-misted green burial hills rising under mountains worn by the insistent adoration of rain icy river rocks leap into midair screaming crystalline froth of mineral-wet song vermilion saffron is leaf-skin to the blood-soil crackling beneath the wind-letter: choking breath of summer death faded into a bright shire in the foreign air so light you can breathe free again.
Queen Bee Tensia Clark
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Living Waters Review
Mamelodi Gracelyn Kuzman
This is our garden: chalky, dry streets dotted with the colors of candy wrappers and beer cans. We have a lake thatâ€™s full of everything old and a river that will get you sick. Outside, we planted bars across our windows. Inside, there are too many children growing in too many directions to keep track of. This is our garden: makeshift fences and cold nights under a roof that barely keeps out the sky. Our garden grows: miles of tin shacks and trees that bloom whispers of what will we eat and where can we go? This is ours, our garden of dust.
Brick and Mortar Rebecca Ethridge
I don’t want to build your walls. This fresh foundation, risen from the oasis of my imagination, resonates in a flickering world. But you tell me I cannot create castles on the hill of sand because when the wind rushes with wishful thinking, they will fall.
What about the water—the tide tied to movement—I could be like the water. No place is every place, home horizons. But you tell me, I cannot build upon the water. Will I sink? No—I will search the waves, wander well beneath them to an open ocean floor with no prospect of landing, grounded in solipsistic surfing of some better place. What would you have me build on? The whisper: unshakeable unimaginable, immaterial immovable. You and I will build together. But I cannot construct on what I cannot see beneath me. Then look up.
Living Waters Review
Second Advent (for Shana Terra) Tom Lubben
When I woke up, the ceiling had dissolved into snowflakes. Above us, a cascade of stars stared in a heroic vast and I read in their dance, their rhythmic heart, that some universal sorrow had passed like a giant’s shadow out of the world and drowned in the light overhead. When she woke up, my wife shivered, and I gave her the blankets. She hungered to catch the snow— the snow, the snow, new white!— a feast, and there’s a glow in the drifts, in the alleys, in the raining ice that absolved the yellow electric hum of West Palm Beach forever. Awake, we shouldered supplies for a long winter, in longing and knowing that angels would stir that had always lived among us, thrumming their awful wings in the corners of earth or beating invisible pinions gold behind what we thought were common people. Now all things are changing.
Again David Doyle
Peace branches and olive wood, nails, bitter fruits, floorboards and Christmas trees, splinters, and everything. Scorpion stings, mollusk ink, this very paper in which I sink.
All for You; to the Carpenter, we gave the burden, to the First Seed of creation, we gave thorns, ripped from the meadows, downstream of the Garden. To the Lamb, willing to walk through fire, we gave slaughter and passed over the pure fleece and placed lots upon His clothes. So to You we give all, and through You, all may be made pure, again.
Living Waters Review
Dopamine Addict Katie Forsythe
Thumbs up, red heart, unlock, restart, inhale, refresh, deep breath, inject, exhale, swipe left. Connected to a televised IV life support becomes faces on screens, pulse to the beat of newsfeeds twittering, automatic download, disappointment daily, software update, hard feelings come with read receipts. Scrolling, feeding, picking, gleaning from information without meaning. Desperately clicking, killing time, hear it ticking, creating a pacemaker for warm hands, cold screen, dopamine.
Imposter Jane Carver
I hold the sunflower in my hand— plastic stem and fabric leaves. It’s a prop, a toy, no smell. Mom tells me to look, to smile before the shutter clicks, but my eyes stick to fake petals that don’t feel soft
like they should and I can’t smile for this fake flower. “It’ll never die,” she says. “Isn’t that lovely?” I throw the imposter on the ground, pick up a patch of wild, weedy blossoms, hold them to my nose. They smell like dirt. I turn towards my mother. I smile for the camera.
Living Waters Review
Treading Lightly Jackie Streng
The Quiet People Olivia Taylor
Speak. For the beat of the blood that is keeping time with the universal rhythm all your own. Speak. For the ones who hold their peace inside.
For when words will not, and language is keeping time with the heartbeating. For the flashes of moonlight on the water are synchronized with eternity. Speak. The colors that are your eyes, the pinks and the blues and the unspeakable hues set the score, set the scene. The God-breath in your lungs is imploring. Speak.
Living Waters Review
The Stone Carver’s Son Alia Michaud
he untouchable stoops low over a carcass, and trembles. Her mud-caked sari keeps slipping from her shoulder, poorly wrapped, and he thinks that it’s probably because she folds it herself. About her head, fuzzy gray hairs dance like early morning fog, and her face, colored with days, is the waking sun just peaking over the Sarayu River. Dampened. Softer in the eyes that crest her high cheekbones. Maybe she was pretty once. All around are the sounds of a day of peace: the click of wooden trinkets being lifted and replaced upon the face of a finely crafted game board; deep, cheery murmurs and loud, surprised guffaws; a holy man’s garb rustles as he passes by; distantly, the river hums. Vaishya—merchant men with a sense of their own importance—rest easy upon shaded patios. And the bhangi woman crouches under the white sun. Amanuday takes a deep breath, feels India steep heavy in his lungs, swallows it like the bitterest of herbs, and then, hopefully and meekly, trudges towards her. With the sun beating down on the back of his neck and his dark hair stuck to sweaty skin, he arrives within the shade of her small, hunched form. He reaches out, a small hand made hulking against her frame. The boy’s mother snatches him suddenly by the skin of his neck and smacks him three times in the face with the side of her fist, the last landing just as he shouts “Maan!” in terrified surprise. His temple throbs, broken open and pouring forth one perfect drop of blood. When she tilts his startled face back to look at her, it slides, that impeccable
seed of ruby, into his ear. He just washed his ears yesterday. Now she will certainly make him wash again. But mother does not scold his dirtied ears or his escaping the yard with three slices of unleavened bread, all cracked in half now by his clenched fists. Instead, she pulls him closer and scans the crowd of men around them. They’re already glowering—but not at Amanuday, thankfully. They watch the untouched woman. The boy sees all of this—sees how the bhangi shrivels and stares down at the stones—but does not understand. The boy’s mother, however, is clever; she knows what her son has done to himself and to the wretch. She knows that he has marked himself with bhangi filth and condemned the untouchable to the vaishyas’ wrath. She also knows that her son’s greedy fingers never shy from a feast. Furiously then, mother tells him what happens to a polluted person. They will take away his fried papad, his lentils, and— worst of all—his cool, sweet raita. That is where it will start, she tells him. With the spicy aam ka achar and nimbu ka achar, best when the lemons are stuffed; the salaad of thinly sliced onions and fresh gingerroot and wedges of vibrant limes. No more kabobs. And never ever again, under any circumstances, no matter how much he will cry for it, will anyone give him warm, sweetened milk with ground almonds. They will make him stand in the stone street without his sandals. His head will hang with the shame of it, and he will watch all the days of his life as his brown toes
Short Story 71
Short Story 72
harden and crack. A monsoon will carry away his home, his shack, and his little bhangi wife and all their seven children with it. And he will stand in the street, barefooted and calloused, and watch silently because no one will let him shout—and even if they did, nobody would listen. And he will want to fall into the gutter and sleep for ages with the grief of it—he will. But they will not let him sleep because he will have a duty—to clean it—without thanks. What he will do is work and beg as the dogs do. “If you dirty yourself,” she tells him, her dark eyes flat and wild, “then you will live with it! You want to touch the untouchable, then you will be one!” None of this was—of course—true. The truth was that the shadows that had hung leisurely in the square, previously pantomiming a game of chaupar, grew sinister and long across the street as their owners, too, rose up. The truth was that he was the son of a stone carver, only dirtied by her shadow, and in need of nothing more than a long immersion, with holy men muttering their holy prayers over his sullied, wretched head. The truth was that, at most, his mother would drag him home and give him a beating because she was a hard woman. The truth was that they would not blame him. But he had stood in her shadow, and his mind flitted back to the stoop of her shoulders, of all the untouchable shoulders he’d ever seen as they shifted the filth around searching for… well, what? What do the bhangi seek? He doesn’t know. Food, he imagines. His only idea of scavenging was sifting through the sacks of rice, limes, and onions to see if there were any firm, green mangoes stowed away. Mother made aam ka achar when he was the one to find the mangoes. She would spill the salt upon their white flesh and have him grab up fistfuls to fall through his fingers, mixing and sifting in the mustard oil and spices. She used to let him have the first bite. But only if he gave her some mangoes. That is, perhaps, not the same kind of scavenging. The boy startles when he realizes that what mother means is that now he will have to live in the streets with the scavengers and sweepers and find things that the other vaishya have left. He should have brought the untouchable woman a mango to pickle and spice, or a cucumber for her raita. Mother grabs his elbow, golden crumbs of chapati slipping through his fingers, and tells him finally, “You cannot
touch her. Even her shadow is polluted. It is no one’s fault, but that is how it is. You take that back inside, or else become a bhangi, and then you’ll have no more raita. You will not be my son.” He is a child and a fool, and thinks only a little about tomorrow. Very carefully and very deliberately, he turns his eyes to the ground so that she will not seem him cry and pulls his elbow from her touch. Cracked bhangi skin ends where his clean pink fingers begin, the crumbs of his last supper slipping between them.
Living Waters Review
Elephantine Form Nicole Dauplaise
Ceramic Sculpture 73
The Empire Caleb Roderick tower, they were building a dream, a symbol of everything the future could hold.” “And you’re worried that by claiming what that future could hold, we’re what? Killing the dream?” Marl shook his head. “Think of it this way: did those guys have any idea what they were really doing? Did they punch in and think to themselves that they were creating a future and a legacy for the rest of us to step into, or were they just going to
Flash Fiction 74
work because they wanted to eat at the end of the day?” “I suppose that they just wanted to eat,” Strent admitted. “Well, if they didn’t realize what was actually at stake, maybe you don’t either.” am telling you—guys like us had it rough
“Maybe not,” Strent admitted. “I just wish we could
back then,” Marl said, biting into his sandwich and staring
be around to see it. We were born too late or too early or
out at the horizon. “Sure, it might’a been the best view in
town, but they were risking a lot just by being up there.” “Are you really saying we have it better than they did?” Strent asked. “Do you really believe that?” “I sure do.” Marl nodded. “It’s ridiculous to think
“Everyone wishes they could see themselves as part of something great. We just have to trust that history will remember us.” Marl shrugged. A slice of ham slipped out of the back of his sandwich. It fell about thirty feet before
otherwise. They certainly didn’t have anything like this.” He
the gravity field projected by the station lost its grip on it
tugged on the safety responsible for catching him if he fell.
and the piece of ham simply floated away into the hungry
“One slip and it was over for them. What advantage did
mouth of space. It joined all the crumbs that Marl had
they have that we don’t?”
dropped on his lunch breaks for the months he had been
“They got to be part of history,” Strent pointed out. “Back in the 30s—you’ve seen the pictures of the guys working on the Empire State Building. They were the ones who really had it good. They were part of something bigger than themselves.” “Look around, Strent.” A sweeping gesture accompanied the suggestion. “Do you think you’re bigger than this?”
working construction on the space station extension. “Shoot,” Marl said, looking woefully towards the shrinking bit of meat. Strent’s eyes were focused on the Earth, far below them. He pointed. “I think I see the Empire State Building from here.” Marl followed his finger. “Um I’m pretty sure that’s Paraguay. You’ll have to try again.”
“No, that’s not what I’m saying…” Strent struggled for the words to express his thoughts. “It’s just that they—the work they did—became such a huge part of our consciousness, as a nation, as a species. Those guys weren’t just building a
Living Waters Review
What It’s Like to Crash a 2002 Jeep Cherokee Cameron Schott
First of all, it was orange— do you know how rare that is?— and it had that bumper magnet, a porpoise, melted to the paint. I wasn’t thinking about these things when I made the blind left turn, but I thought about them while spinning in slow, silent motion to “Disco Inferno.” I was also thinking about the fact that I’d never find another orange Jeep and I’d really miss the bumper magnet. Okay, no more blind turns.
The Piano Abigail Skinner
Flash Fiction 76
he bought the piano on an impulse at a flea market because she said we needed more culture in our lives. Whatever that meant. The lady selling it told us it had belonged to her great-grandmother and then asked for our best offer. She didn’t seem sentimental. My mom gave her twenty-five bucks for it, but I didn’t even think it was worth that, an ugly wooden upright covered in two generations’ worth of nicks and scratches. The chipped, white keys had long since faded to bone-yellow, like a set of rotten and decayed teeth, and they stuck together when I pressed down on them. “We’ll fix it up,” Mom said. “Get it refurbished, or whatever.” “You refurbish an old laptop, Mom. Not a two hundred-year-old piano.” After we brought the piano home and shoved it into the small space between the china cabinet and the wall, neither of us touched it again. It sat in the living room, gathering dust and piles of junk until you could hardly even tell it was there at all. “What happened to refurbishing the piano?” I’d ask every once in a while, even though it didn’t surprise me that she hadn’t followed through. Almost nothing held her interest for more than a day or two at a time. “We’ll get around to it, haven’t I said that? I’m busy, Maggie.” But she never got around to it—of course she didn’t. It was just another one of her phases. She liked the idea of having a piano in the house, thought it made us wellrounded, maybe even a little bit fancy. Maybe she thought if people saw that we had a piano they’d think we were
smart and interesting, but she never even bothered to test out her theory. One day, several months after purchasing the battered instrument, I told her that we should just get rid of it. Give it to someone who actually knows how to play, someone who would put it to good use. I told her the flea market lady’s great-grandmother probably wouldn’t want her beloved piano sitting untouched under a pile of old papers and manila folders. She looked sort of sad for a moment, which surprised me. Then she said, “It’s a real shame.” The next day, we cleared everything off the piano’s worn, brown surface, and then my mother called someone to come pick it up. “I don’t know what I’m gonna do with all this stuff now,” she said, eyeing the mess on the floor. “What am I supposed to do with all this stuff ?” I looked around the living room. “I think we should have a garage sale.” She sighed. “Yeah, maybe we should.” Then she walked out of the room. I pulled a chair from the dining room table over to the piano and sat down. The wood smelled like mold but there was something else to it, like paint. Old paint and ink. I scratched at the surface of the piano lightly, and some of the wood flaked off under my fingernail. I lifted the lid and folded it back, exposing all eighty-eight keys like a too-wide grin. For a while I studied the fracture marks running up and down each one, wondering at the kind of love this piano had seen in its prime. Because it had seen love. There was no questioning that. It had seen love. I placed my fingers on the keys and held them there, careful not to press down hard enough to make a sound because I knew we had not given this piano what it deserved: chords and melodies, crescendos and decrescendos, songs of anguish and songs of jubilance, a sacred bond. Instead, we’d shoved it into a corner and let it collect dust. We buried it under things that didn’t matter. I closed the lid, letting it slam a little harder than I should have. The sound echoed around the living room, bouncing off the dark red walls until the whole space was filled with it and my ears were ringing. But no, it wasn’t my ears ringing. It was a melody, a simple five-note melody playing over and over in my head. And the piano stayed.
Living Waters Review
Afternoon Jazz Jennifer Elrod
Sehnsucht Hannah Menendez
Though English contains constellations of syllables, still the words are shackles, and I wish I were a polyglot. Even then, I know there would be selahs between my stanzas
because though I am a writer I know sometimes no word exists, sometimes the dictionary is an entry short, and language limits the thoughts destined to lie waiting and unformed. This is frustrating because I am a writer, but it should comfort me to know a few of my words will always remain unknown, safely suspended in my throat or pushing at the insides of my fingertips.
Living Waters Review
B.C. Daniela Pereira
Too many stories fixed on created things, evoking… what? I didn’t ask to be an explorer of souls; they let me in. Some eyes bear the image of a starless planet unable to stop the second law of thermodynamics: it’s all running down, running down, running down. The writer writes. “Who will hold me together?” the character cries. Because after enough plot twists and philosophical dialogue and clever weaving of universal themes in time and space after enough, after enough, evoking… what?
Funeral for a Crow David Doyle
Crows flock where their own dead fall, but they do not bury the heavy wings. They attend the romance dances, the somber serenades of black feathers forever unruffled, but they do not grant a stone.
So the birds of the air are not alone in death, and more so, they lack all fear thereafter. The beaks do not entertain the reaper with tears, or wine, or poems, or hemlock, but they bury their eyes in the promise of the air: verses spoken to field lilies, of the coming of another morning, a soft wind spoken, of age and grace that remains at the funeral of the ebony wings.
Living Waters Review
Interlude Katie Lubben
Cimmaron Noah Thaman
Look to the mountain after morning rain. The blue rock thrush abandons its home and the catamount cub mewls at the predawn curtain of ghosts. As skypilot and monkshead raise their fingers like wave offerings remember that you are a stranger here and all else is ablution. The sagebrush plains do not rest. The blue gramma shoulders of wind river
shiver beneath the eye of every distant, hot galaxy like worship of the unveiled God. The mountain howls on high, everything hungers. Everything inhospitable and beckoning. Though you desire veined rockâ€™s open heart, snake river rushes past the door to its hidden chamber. Instinct paints a red dust tribute to the firenight of time, and though men slouch through elm-arched lanes far away in the stone-tamed land, saguaro reaches out her arms like birthmother-thistle fingers touching the blunted dreams of every forgotten child.
Living Waters Review
The Night Is Yours Tom Lubben
The night is Yoursâ€” You resolve pitch black with not one star but a choir of burning suns. As You rolled it out, a scroll of stories, sung into it words, and thought of life, night creatures rushed to the corners dark from us men to whom You gave bright, chanting swords.
In the stillness hangs the scaffolding of the promise near in rising; beyond the slats the artwork, sacred, glows.
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