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
SPECIAL THANKS PresidentWilliam M. B. Fleming, Jr. • Dr. Randy Richards • Dr. Robert Lloyd • Dr. Susan Jones • Dr. Jenifer Elmore • Becky Peeling • Louis Park • John Sizemore • Autumn Raab
FOUNDER AND FACULTY ADVISOR Professor David Athey GRAPHIC DESIGN ADVISOR Professor Tim Eichner SENIOR EDITORS Abigail Skinner Megan Konynenbelt MANAGING EDITOR Joe Washburn ASSISTANT MANAGING EDITOR Nate Brand ASSISTANT EDITORS Rachel Sakrisson Eden Prime Olivia Taylor Brooke Stanish COVER ART Camila Roman Soto
Help support Living Waters. Contact Professor David Athey in the English Department. 561-803-2259
Living Waters Review
Table of Contents
Copernicus and His Star Stick
Green Tea Generation
My Grammy Never Sinned a Day in Her Life
To Find Nowhere
Sunset on the Antrim Coast
Towards Gainesville, 6 A.M.
Little Black Cat / Green Drive
Saint-Saëns Piano Concerto no. 5 “The Egyptian”
My Father’s Star
Time is a Ball of Yarn; Sometimes Ends Meet
Call It New, Old Religion
Camila Roman Soto
Asparagus, the Moon, and the Nature of Love Eden Prime
Downtown St. Louis
Finding a Reason, then Rest
Conscience Teeming in the River
Birdcage: Edinburgh, Scotland
Garden of Exhaust
Pneuma Looks in the Mirror
The Dulcimer Shop
The Fiddler (inspired by Whitman)
The Mandarin Duckâ€™s Assent
Living Waters Review
Lock on Lake Okeechobee
Whiff of Scotland
The Birthright Tree
74 Out of Normal, IL
Good Air in the Valley
In a Public Library by the Metro
Sheep on Stanage Edge, Derbyshire
Out of the Window, a Bat: A Dramatic Perusal of Material Death Megan Konynenbelt
78 79 80
First Experience With Loneliness Eden Prime
The End Marley Kimmit
At Which Point We All Said Amen Megan Konynenbelt
Copernicus and His Star Stick Abigail Skinner
Have you ever wondered? Behind bars under stars, under indigo and moon? Head back, tilt left in symphony— with the earth?—perhaps once, before
The Epiphany: heliocentricity. We are not what we thought we are light after death, are not flesh, are not bone, we have grown up among things we can name but can’t explain. The sun—first a birth, then a sin, a crime born of fear (we are not the center of all things). But alas! A triumph.
Living Waters Review
Riddle Brooke Stanish
The Sphinx steams in silence tonight, draws our lots with gleaming paws licked clean of that cosmic potion; chalice empty, he asks for change; body of rage, head of sage, he pours his riddle into my cup: What screams like a dove & cries like a flute? Mellow-handed madness sings things I canâ€™t remember, things I canâ€™t forget; the Sphinx drinks me in for my answer, question dripping from his lips; I do not know. He sneers and refills my cup; through this haze he creates, his riddle can brew: Is it me or is it you?
Green Tea Generation Angelica Kasimier
Flash Fiction 8
any people have asked my sousobo the secret to longevity. But I don’t think she’s ever answered. Last month, a blogger from Portland came over to interview her as the oldest woman in the state. Living for over one hundred years generates quite a bit of publicity, I guess. In our town, she is the closest thing we have to a celebrity. There are rumors of erecting a statue of her next year on her 115th birthday. My sousobo has lived with my family since before I was born. In 1975, she flew from Kyoto to Seattle to live with her orphaned granddaughter—my mother and her closest living relative—who was studying computer science at the University of Washington. My sousobo disapproved of the gaijin—the American—who got my mother pregnant. Once I was born, she didn’t mind him so much. As a child, I spent hours with her in the garden where she clipped her bonsai and watered the lilies and windflowers. We drank green tea on the front porch, and she rambled in words I only pretended to understand. Now, we can converse with ease; six semesters in Tokyo taught me katakana, hiragana, and verb conjugations. Still, I only half understand. People often guess the answer to her secret. Perhaps it is her daily walks. These walks were once vigorous, and sometimes I could barely keep up as she dragged me along to the grocery store for fresh vegetables. Now I help her carry one paper bag with a half-pound of rice. Some say that her secret is her full-leaf green tea. She still performs the ceremony once a week for a handful of people who come to visit. My ritual is a daily stop at the coffee shop
downtown on my way to the office. Others suppose it must be her good genes, or the amount of raw seafood she consumes, or her optimism. I have my dad’s gray eyes and asthma, prefer black bean burgers to sashimi, and take Zoloft religiously. The Portland blogger questioned her—using my mom as translator—on what it was like growing up in Kyoto before the war. Japan was at war long before Pearl Harbor. My great-grandfather was a soldier during the invasion of China in 1931. But the reporter didn’t know that. He only pointed to sousobo’s wedding photo and said, “What a handsome man your husband was!” As my mom translated, sousobo looked me straight in the eye and mumbled, “Yakudoshi!” A reminder of the so-called bad luck it means for me to be single at thirty-four. I didn’t stay for the rest of the interview. This morning, I got an email from the Portland blogger with a link to his article on my sousobo. I scanned the page-and-a-half history lesson and a recipe for nabe. In closing, the reporter shared his final question for my greatgrandmother: “What is the secret to your longevity?” And without waiting for her granddaughter to translate, she replied: “Kazoku—family.”
Living Waters Review
My Grammy Never Sinned a Day in Her Life Travis Lambert
She was a bee-hived beauty who sat on her porch and shot the stray dogs with the family shotgun. She made five breakfasts for five different children and smoked five packs of Winston lights a week until the day she died. Her love for my grandpa was something straight from the good Lord and it was only the good Lordâ€™s love that could stand her dirty mouth. She taught me the value of a dollar, like how many porcelain dolls you could buy on Home Shopping Network for ten easy payments. She was the queen of our beloved beehive. My Grammy never sinned a day in her life.
To Find Nowhere Taylor Gaede
amie turned the apple in her hands, marveling at its smooth skin. She had meant to eat it once
she reached the end of her hiking trail, but a shrub-choked mailbox rusting beside the path had beckoned her to this lost home. Thistles layered the black-and-white kitchen floor.
Flash Fiction 10
Behind her was a stained floral sofa, a coffee table plastered with an old Sunday newspaper, and a rocker sopped with recent rainwater, molding. The back wall had crumbled, revealing a countryside set aflame by dying leaves.
She supposed she could eat now. No one would
berate her if juice dribbled to the floor, or if she left the core on the counter.
Instead, she laid the untouched apple in the rocker,
its surface reflecting the world in various shades of red.
Then she left to find her path again.
Living Waters Review
Mountain Escape Lauren Boone
Sunset on the Antrim Coast Nate Brand
He can feel a giant skipping stones in his chest and building a causeway beneath his crashing breath. He wants to weep like the red cliffs
whose soft clay and pipe organ rib cage are laced with pale green and sinking gold.
12 His eyes water and close against the sting of her clean cold wind, and he turns his collar up against the spray of her black sea, and yet he is fond of her, and still lays offerings of footprints at the feet of her faithful tide.
Living Waters Review
Sails Eden Prime
Plenty Tucker Lux
River singing, slicing down to the great lake, pour, pour out forever. Chill our feet.
Tumble down young eternity. We filled ourselves on the rainbow flesh of native waters, offer up, yielding from the smokehouse to hungry fingers. We came for play, for health, for rest, and found all and plenty.
Living Waters Review
Towards Gainesville, 6 A.M. Olivia Taylor
The world from the morning road is stumbling along in a foggy blanket, content to let leftover Christmas lights glimmer their tiny occasional colors. Neat little farmhouses and ugly trailers, realms of grand fertile puddle-muddles, autumn-rusted, patience-straining, train cars bumble their way through the fluttering pulse of soft gray towns, cold, bare branches, fallow yellow hills, reminiscing triple crown champions and blueberry summers waiting until the citrus touch of dawn explodes gently from somewhere deep behind the pine fields.
Little Black Cat / Green Drive Delaney Esper
On the asphalt, something lifeless lay without a yearning for yarn.
Up above it, something living looked, a face of stone, unmoving cairn. In the balance of towering mass, the red light shone. No stirring, no sound was made in all the earth except an engine purring.
Living Waters Review
Encounters Tucker Lux
The doe and her fawn looked up, unshaken, gazing steady as if they knew the truth, as if they recognized what we shared. Or maybe the mother, ageless, recognized something: a footfall, or breath like the old pursuer, the one who ran them tired, who approached softly and yes, killed, but always in awe, and thanks, and love, harvesting just enough light to shelter the sacred flame.
Lighthouse Camila Roman Soto
Living Waters Review
Flicker Nate Brand
The brow is a barrier, a cage for the I â€”that thing that sits behind, and peers out through hazel eyes,
darting, searchingâ€” sometimes another I looks at mine with a glance like a quiet breeze, and like a bead of fire, I flicker.
Winged Lady Delaney Esper
oh, little doomed & diaphanous thing you, dear, are beauty too stained-glass garb touched by human hand, you wonâ€™t be a rusted hinge
you are endless in the windswept flip-fall of moonlit dip & dive the smudges and prints upon your limb-lifts are frankly unobservable silent patterns of touch, undetectable in your garden-groove flit on by, you tender thing, remind us what you tender bring dart and sway ring out on that jazz-vocal ride remind us then, how shame donâ€™t hide
Living Waters Review
Saint-Saëns Piano Concerto no. 5 “The Egyptian” Nate Brand
“There is nothing more difficult than talking about music.”
Trapped the wild notion of a river boat with a snare of sighing reeds. Adorned the calm strength of the Nile with the splashing steps of shameless pearls.
Clothed the brazen voice of a nomad in the clanging melancholy of homesick bells. Stirred the doldrums of the west with the swift musical breath of distant sands.
Everglades Reeds Erin Edwards
Living Waters Review
My Father’s Star Neysa Rogers
In memory of my father, Adam Rogers
e found him lying outside the Chinese Buffet, reeking of unfamiliarity and surrounded by men I’d never seen before. He was almost unrecognizable from the dewy car window through which I observed the world. We parked, and I jumped from the lap of my grandmother to embrace his stale clothes. A race to the man I revered who now lay in a puddle on the ground. *** When I was seven, Granny cooked steak and green beans and told me how she got the recipe from a friend in Tennessee. Her eyes held the promise of a supper she knew we would love. I finished my plate, the only praise I knew how to give. “Granny, am I in the ‘clean plate club’ now?” “You sure are, sweetie.” Eyes wide and bright like the barren plate before me, I smiled. Granny lifted the dish from my hands and kissed the top of my head. My dad looked at me with sweet sincerity and stood. He gave up his plate like a secret and said, “I’m meeting some friends. I’ll be back in a little while.” Papaw shook his head in disdain and kept eating his steak. Granny’s eyes begged for the truth, but no words left her mouth. So my father left the dinner table without another sound. After Dad left, Uncle Jason was left to entertain me. He said absurd things, and my little belly ached with the strain of constant laughter. We composed songs with made-up words. We created stories about people who didn’t exist and gave them names and histories. I wrote
down all their tales, and they became friends I felt I couldn’t live without. I hoped to dream of them when I went to bed, so I could share their stories in the morning. I fell asleep on my father’s bed, waiting for his figure to cast a shadow through the doorway. The sound of the television pacified my rambunctious brain that begged to think without end. The static woke me in the middle of the night, and I looked to my side in disappointment. He wasn’t there. I rose from the pile of blankets and trudged through the hallways, seeking out the comfort of my grandparents’ bed. In the stagnant morning light, Granny rushed me out of her bed. Not her usual singing me to consciousness, not the washcloth on my face and “Good morning, sweetheart!” The almost silent panic she carried was unleashed in full force. Stoic Papaw could not settle the storm that clouded her sweet face. Uneasiness filled my brain as I stumbled through the scene that crept upon us, unwarranted. My hope sank to my feet. A man my uncle called Kermit picked the four of us up in a blue truck. The man inhaled loudly to say, “Ready to find your daddy, sweetheart?” I looked at him, dumbfounded. “Well, that’s alright. Tricks are for kids, now you remember that.” Papaw, Jason, and Kermit’s voices mingled in the stifling air that filled the truck. Each word seemed to collide and fall, resulting in a collective noise I heard but could not begin to understand. “When did he call you?” “About a half hour ago.” “Well, how the hell did he end up over there?” “I don’t know for sure, Mr. Rogers.” I was half-asleep, in and out of a dream about the ice cream I ate the night before. Granny held my tired face in her hands and spoke honeyed words over me. She covered me in them, and the warmth from her palms nestled my cold ears. I shut my eyes. The car door slammed shut, and I watched Papaw storm towards my father, who lay propped against the side of an orange building. A bright red and green sign blinked the words “China Buffet.” Granny said to me, “Honey, I want you to stay here for now.” She opened the car door and moved to get out. I nodded at her command. She looked back with a makeshift smile and left the door open to let the hot breeze blow
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Creative Essay 24
through. I dangled my bare feet out and leaned my head against the leather seat of Kermit’s truck. I watched them confront my dad. He stayed propped there, moved his mouth only slightly. From where I was, I could not hear what they said, but I knew I wanted them to stop saying it. I jumped out of the truck and ran towards the scene. My bare feet scraped against the parking lot concrete, and the wind blew on the portion of my stomach not covered by my shirt. I ran as fast as I could, as if the scene would disappear if I did not get there in time, as if I could stop it all from happening, as if I could save him from their reprimands. I pulled my Papaw away from them and collapsed into my father’s exhausted figure. He let out a burdened breath and held me tight. The talking stopped, and I shut my eyes. *** That same night my dad took me on a bike ride. He’d taught me how to ride just a month before. Granny and Papaw tried to convince him to take me in the morning, but he insisted that I’d be fine. He would take care of me. So I grabbed my fuchsia bike with purple tassels and rolled it down the driveway. He helped me get on, and then got on his own bicycle. He told me to start riding down the road, and I hesitantly complied. “Don’t look back, just turn when I say so.” We rode in silence, and I listened to my own breathing and the frogs that chirped in the wet lawns. I never looked back, but I knew he was there by the sudden turning commands he called out. “Ok, we can stop now.” We stopped near a small pond on the outskirts of the neighborhood. We placed our bikes on the gravel and let out a breath of positive exhaustion. He drew one long breath and exhaled loudly. His tall, dark figure bent over to pick up a smooth pebble. I copied him because that was all I could think to do. He took it and skipped it across the surface of the pond. It leaped once, twice, three times, four times. I repeated his motion, resulting in a successful two leaps. He chuckled, “Nice. Not too bad for the first try.” My gap teeth glistened a smile in the reflection of the pond. My dad laughed again and grabbed another pebble. He dropped it into my open palm. Then his strong arm guided my small one to create a successful three skips. The ricochets from the pebble entranced me, and my father smiled at my awe.
“That’s how you see if there’s fish in the water, too. By looking for those little ripples. Their fish lips will come to the surface and…” he made a kissing noise with his lips. “Or sometimes their swimming will be so strong, if they’re in a group, it will disrupt the surface and make tiny waves like that.” I nodded my head and said, “Cool,” in an attempt to impress him with my nonchalant understanding. I was tired from the bike ride. He must have sensed that because he picked me up. I leaned my head on his shoulder, and he swayed gently as if to say sorry for all that he put us through that day. I watched the bright moon shine on the surface of the water, and I thought about how my dad was like a character in a book. I thought about how that day was like a story I wanted to understand but couldn’t. I looked up and the vast sky enveloped my vision. He looked up, too, and let out a sigh. In a moment of curiosity, I blurted, “Do you know anything about the stars?” “Not really. Just there’s a lot of them.” I leaned my head back on his shoulder. “But, I’ll tell you what. One day, I’m gonna be a pilot, and I’ll fly all the way to those stars and grab one for you. It will be all yours. And you can give it any name you want.” I held onto that promise for the exhausting months that came after, letting the idea of it sail around in my brain. I repeated the words until they jumbled together and became nothing. I prayed about it at night, stared blankly at the ceiling and tried to understand what would become of such a promise. I wished it would outshine the darkness that came when they told me he was gone. I found myself left with haunting dreams of him standing silently in the hallway. Sometimes his arms would fall off, or his body would grow too tall to fit in the door frame. It was time to give a star a name.
Living Waters Review
Asparagus, the Moon, and the Nature of Love Eden Prime
have taken up the habit of making asparagus on a regular basis. I’ve always liked the tops but the stalky bottoms are hard to make soft enough for my palate. Mom used to call me out when I cut nearly three inches off the bottom of asparagus when we would cook together. Now, I only cut an inch or so; I think it’s out of respect for her. *** Ever since I read Lilith, by George MacDonald, I’ve felt an uncanny camaraderie with the moon. She is the matriarch of the dark, the mother of nightly meetings, the consistent observer of midnight wanderings. She does not loudly intrude on those she watches, like the sun with its blinding, holy noise; the moon is soft. She does not force herself upon the world but acts as a constant, kind, and humble companion. White light, white skin, cool touch. I feel like my own mother is watching me when I look at the moon. Five months ago, under the fullest of lunar orbs — painting a single, bright white stripe on the Atlantic — I was in a car with a guy I didn’t know all that well. This was before I knew about his tormentors, his doubts, and his loneliness. So, we drove. It was too late at night, I could tell because I was waxing poetic, talking about “how beautiful everything is, you can just feel it! Gosh.” The mother was watching, to my surprise, in round, white approval. *** I’ve flown far since that car ride. Snow called me north, so I went; got trapped in the Institute of Art; got trapped in a fantasy of living there, in the cities they call “Twin.”
Up and down the snow-covered streets, brightly colored homes grew out of icy drifts and hid behind grey trees. One Friday afternoon spent driving, sliding, down the smooth streets — an attempt at escape from the sub-zero weather — a path opened up, a straight shot to the Mississippi, frozen in her breath and beauty, waiting to be cut by skates. Even in the white of winter noon, I couldn’t run away from the moon. She observed me, this time in the form of the flakes of snow. Tiny moons falling down to say hello. “Hello, I am watching.” Because, like my mother’s love, she transcends my travels and tugs my eyes up to the sky. That was the day he started holding my hand. *** Asparagus grows slow. It takes two or three years for an asparagus plant to mature to the point where it can produce; after that, it stays rooted, hearty. It can produce for 20+ years. For plants, that’s a long time. Wild asparagus is common in the farmland of the midwest, my hand-holder’s granddad told me. He used to pick it from behind his parsonage. It grew at the back of the graveyard, where a little brook ran down over the dark, moist, cracking shale. The soil, rich and untainted by plows and fertilizers, produced a crop no farmer, but the Farmer could grow. *** The granddad’s story about asparagus reminded me of another old preacher I’d met. Instead of chatting over a beer at Mulligan’s by the coast, this prophet came to me on the third floor of a library. He convicted me. I was full of fickle heartbreak and the poetry that comes from moody journal entries. But he convicted me of my falseness and made me bleed real, true, vulnerable blood. I’d written seven thousand and one words, trying to describe the pain and heartbreak of the past year alone — he stopped my pen. The man began to talk. He told me about a back injury that had caused him to need a cane. He paused, gazing out across the sunlit tile roof to where the steeple of the chapel towered over Olive Avenue. He commented on the beauty of the chapel, then went on to say something about how it had looked when he was a boy. I put down my book and gave him my attention. He told me about the woman who had first taken him to Church as a child (or “puppy” as he said). Eventually, he told me about his grandparents and their peculiar marriage and divorce. He told me about his spiritual journey, the
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Creative Essay 26
emotional scars of a long life. I felt like I should be taking notes. “Men and women, they love differently, you know. You women, you love with your heads. People are your language, you speak it so freely. Men, we get so tangled up in our heads that we can’t make what’s honest come out. We think we’re the man of the hour, that we always have to save the day. Men love like there’s no tomorrow, but you women do it better—you trust that there will always be tomorrow. You keep us waiting, make us patient and kind. My woman always knew what to do. She would hold my hand in church and let her voice call up to heaven. Love a man who would die for you. You’ll know. Just wait and see, girl, wait and see.” *** Wanting romance over love is thinking that “double space” means hitting the space bar twice at the end of every sentence. It sounds right, but it’s laughably incorrect. It is far safer to be brutally honest than to make someone feel good about themselves. The love you pretend is real lets little pains live under your fingernails, grate on your teeth, sleep with you, rise with you; there is an unending cycle of “to be, or not to be?” until you can’t stand it anymore. I learned all too quickly that this modal approach to love was not something that would be easily understood by others. Like the time I wasted in seventh grade, trying to explain to people that “logical” didn’t just mean something you could say “duh” to. Love is a logic of the spirit. It starts with a proposition and ends with an inevitable conclusion. You don’t get a choice in how it goes really, but you can disguise it from the rest of the world with funny symbols. You must work for love. *** Angels wearing coveralls in libraries are no real basis for a philosophy of love, but they can spark a new understanding of its function. It wasn’t until that day on the third floor that I really understood the kind of communion that is meant for Christian lovers. I didn’t believe in soulmates until I realized that nobody can have or be a soulmate until after love, after they have experienced its fullness, the unifying of soul—experience beyond flesh. It isn’t a matter of finding a soulmate, but of choosing one. When a man gets on one knee, he is asking for a true soulmate: someone to mix his pneuma with, to hold his hand while he hurls inadequate glory back up to his King. Soulmates are
for singing life’s song in harmony, with broken voices and contrite hearts. Love is to be—perpetually cultivated by the Farmer—wild asparagus behind a small white church in Minnesota. *** There are many theories about how the mother-moon was formed. In archaic astronomy, during a more romantic period in science, it was said that the moon might be a hollow spaceship from which extraterrestrial beings spied on us with their advanced technology. A more sensible explanation is that a planet-sized object plowed into earth millions of years ago, and the Earth coughed up rubble that reformed into our little moon. But a newer theory suggests that the moon was formed by synestia. “Syn,” meaning “together,” “Hestia” like the goddess of architecture. Built together—so the moon and the Earth were born simultaneously by a crash and a cloud of molten vaporized rock. Built, together. Even synestia might not be the answer. When I look at the moon, I savor the enigma. Where did you come from? Where did I? Questions continue, limitless. Love is our mother-moon; we are trying to learn about her, though we know she is just one of those things we will never understand.
Living Waters Review
Time is a Ball of Yarn; Sometimes Ends Meet Sarah Osterhouse
The moonâ€™s crescent smirk unsettles my foggy platitude. What do you grin at? Do you gloat at your transcendence? For I am not like you. I do not wind myself around the earth, astronomic clockwork ticking around solemnly, predicting every change and challenge. I do not wax and wane in solidarity, concealing my right hand, revealing my left, when the calendar mandates. I am not shackled comfortably to the seasons, knowing when my full blossom will come, go then come again. But I run amok in the maze of time. Childhood bleeds into my death; heartbreak trespasses onto my joy. I am young and ancient; my selves multiply. I wax and wane without notice or direction. I am not steadily wound about the earth: I am flung.
Call It New, Old Religion Eden Prime
Calvinism and coffee go hand in hand, these days. Not like at home in Carolina, where church meant cups of styrofoam and sticky cake doughnuts.
Here, in cauterizing heat and Florida callus we praise God in less clamorous ways. No more clasped children’s hands reaching up to the cavernous sky. Clapping has more rhythm now but it has lost its charm. All I have left of childhood religion is the chaff of catechism phrases, ‘chief end of Man,’ and a styrofam coffee cup in my crooked left hand.
Living Waters Review
Striated Texas Taylor Gaede
e had a gravel driveway, and I considered myself a geologist. I collected the rocks and pebbles, sifting through the congregation and picking the ones that stole my eye. Some were smooth taupe, others were jagged, salt-and-pepper blocks. Most were grey and grainy, unless held at the right angle. Then they formed a face, an image. That earned a place in the bag I kept. During an excavation, I found a small oval rock with clean edges and a craggy surface. It was green, brown, orange, white, grey, and black. Striated, like canyon walls. As if billions of years were compressed into a stone the size of my fingertip; as if three years in Texas had been summarized by a colorful rock. Green, for the three acres of grass we owned, the trees that hid our house, the tangled garden in the backyard, the hummingbird that zipped past the dining room. Brown, for the tumbleweeds that rolled onto our patio. Orange, for the flash after I was thrown off a horse, and the glow of the fire on Christmas Eve. White, for the bathtub by the barn that watered the horses and the ice that froze over it in winter. Grey, for the chain-link fence, the mockingbird singing alone, and the days that grew longer. Black, for the house we left forever. I studied the rock for a few seconds. Then I tossed it into the plastic bag with all the other stones and pebbles.
Creative Essay 29
Downtown St. Louis Travis Lambert
Living Waters Review
Bus Lullaby Olivia Taylor
Lothian bus, red and white, rattling through the frozen night, double-decker dragon groaning, top deck window lights glowing. Number Eight to Cameron Toll, dreaming of a sausage roll.
Caterpillar children laugh and whine, grandmother gossip Silverknowes line. Worn carpet seats, patterned city coat and scarf muffled, giddy. Scots voices, rough and sweet singing through the sleepy street. Shady neon, rolling pastâ€” shudder, stop, home at last. Lothian bus, red and white, rattling through the frozen night.
Haiti’s Parvenu Lanika Vernice
Creative Essay 32
he sound of my grandmother’s Accord blared through the air, announcing her presence. It was my personal warning: Hurry up or get left behind. The red Honda growled, ready to escort us to our destination. One after the next, we piled together into the car. One seat too few, we squished together like a sponge being thoroughly wrung out. This act was habitual. Too many kids and the lack of money equaled out to kids packed like clowns in a tiny car. “Mete senti sekirite ou sou,” my Grandma sighed. My siblings and I all exchanged confused looks. Here it goes: the Creole. The beautiful language that flowed from her mouth like gold was one we never had the ability to express. “I’m sorry babies, Grandma forgot,” she apologized in her heavy accent. “Just put your seatbelts on.” We sat in the car quietly, hearing only the faint voice of the Haitian pastor giving a word we could only hope was good. Phrases such as “Jezi” caught my attention. Everyone knew how to say Jesus in Creole, even foreigners like me. Other than that, my vision was completely focused on the streets of “Little Haiti.” Some would say it was one of the most cultural parts of Miami. We passed countless murals telling stories on the walls. One of a woman with a basket on her head drew my eye. The woman seemed to stare out into the distance of a very Red Sea. Incoming was a boat with a sail of red and blue, the sacred colors of my people. In the woman’s basket were rolls of bread, and she pulled sugar cane as if it were life itself, shielding it and herself from the world.
My grandmother turned her head slightly, just enough to see me staring at the masterpiece. “I knew of him,” she said. “Knew of who?” I questioned. “The man who made that,” she sighed deeply. She frowned a little, which caused ocean waves to appear on her forehead. There had to be a story behind it, otherwise she wouldn’t have shifted in her seat and gone absolutely silent like a mime. She had to be contemplating something. Getting her to be silent was harder than getting a heathen into heaven. She glanced over at my younger siblings who were slouched over in deep hibernation. “Where did you know him from, Grandma?” I questioned. “He came from Haiti like many of us a long long time ago, except he made something of himself.” She stared into space collecting her thoughts. “Bebe mwen, the journey here is not what you think. It’s not all happy. Many of us leave home because life is no good there. Many are poor and even more are hungry.” She sighed sadly. “My people struggle so much, but we live, we survive. We do what we have to so we can take care of our families.” Her words hung in the air like clean laundry. The eerie nature of her struggle caused me to shiver. Goosebumps rose up on my arms, making me look like I had mosquito bites all over. “Grandma? How did you get here?” I asked softly. I expected no response. “I came when your daddy was just two years old,” she stated in her strong accent. “I think the year was 1982. Life was really bad for my family. We had little money, and your grandpa wanted to come here. He said that everything would be better, and I believed him.” Her voice choked towards the end of her sentence, which caused me to look into her dark brown eyes. Her eyes were slightly filled with tears. Deep breaths filled her lungs as the forbidden liquid almost poured over. “So we talked to some man we knew, and he told us that there would be some men that could take us to America. We knew the trip would be a dangerous one, but we wanted to come here anyway.” “Grandma, I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to make you cry,” I apologized as my hand slowly glided across her back repeatedly. “You don’t have to talk about it anymore, I don’t wanna see you like this.” “Gen yon benediksyon nan chak ti fi batay,” she spoke in her
Living Waters Review
native language. My eyes furrowed in confusion before she translated, “There is a blessing in every struggle, girl. I must tell my story so that you may know where you come from.” She looked at me, deep into my eyes, which let me know that the following statement would be one I would have to adhere to. “Knowledge is important,” she said. “It is like life and death. It can save you one day.” I nodded, showing her that I understood. “Were you scared to come here?” “I left my family,” she said. “I only had your grandpa and your daddy. My whole life was there. I was very scared. I had never been to this place before. I didn’t know how I would live, but I went anyway, because I had hope. I hoped that life would be better for me here. So when the time came, I took your daddy into my arms and followed your grandpa to the boat.” Her accent was so strong that I almost couldn’t make out what she was saying. Thirty-six years in America, and her accent had gone nowhere. That’s how it was for many of the Haitian people I knew. They could’ve been here forever, yet their accent stayed, giving them a reminder of their history. “We boarded the boat with many others just like us. We had our papers,” she said. “There were stories of those who tried to come illegally, and they didn’t end good, my girl. So we had to come the right way, so that we could stay. I wouldn’t want to go back to Haiti. Not at that time.” Haiti isn’t far from Miami, but when I pondered the idea of them riding in a small boat for almost seven hundred miles, my stomach felt sick. The typical image of an immigrant in the American mind doesn’t even come close to the reality of the obstacles faced. “The ride was going good, until the waves got very bad. Your daddy was little, and it was hard to hold him with the rocking of the boat. The water struck the boat really hard, almost tipping us over. We stayed on though. All except your dad.” Tears flowed heavier from her eyes, rivers down her cheeks. “He could have died. He almost did. A man dove into the water and pulled him out. He saved him.” Grandma smiled through her tears. “God let me know that this was the right decision. When we arrived, we had to stay with a friend of your grandpa. We didn’t know how this country worked, and we had little-to-no help.” “So how did you get the house you have?” I asked.
“Many people glorify the journey, but they don’t tell you what it’s like when you actually get here. It was so hard to find a job. Nobody wanted to hire me because my English was very bad. We were outsiders. That is how Little Haiti was formed.” Little Haiti was exactly how it sounded. It contained the highest concentration of Haitian individuals in Miami, a community, almost like their own little city. I studied the shops with Haitian murals and phrases plastered on the walls. Some parts of it made me uncomfortable though. There were little rumors that some people did voodoo or “woo” in some of these shops. Seeing as voodoo was a big part of the culture in Haiti, I took heed of the cautionary tales and stayed a good distance away. My family believes in Jesus, and we wanted no part in the tomfoolery. Grandma’s voice broke me out of my thoughts. “Community helped me and your granddaddy. People told me about ‘Ti Mache ’ the market in Ft. Lauderdale. So I went, and paid for a booth. Every morning I’d rise at 3 a.m. to go pick up fruit and other stuff from the depot and I would take these and sell them at the Swap Shop. This is how we lived. This is how we survived,” she finished. Harmonic sounds of gravel being crunched filled the air as the car slowly entered the church parking lot, signaling our arrival. I woke my siblings out of their sleep and helped them out the car. I peered over at my grandma, who look relieved, as if she had been revived. I grabbed her hand as we walked into the church, as she mumbled, “Merci, Jezi.” Thank you, Jesus.
Creative Essay 33
Bluffs Rachel Sakrisson
Living Waters Review
Finding a Reason, then Rest Bryce Langston
teps of heavily clothed feet on rocky paths—a ritardando that lasts from the packing to the unfolding of tents—traversing terrain that tears at the sole. Laces come untied often, losing grip like moist hands that should be holding the handles of walking poles. Socks soak easily with sweat but especially river water that seeps in while fording. Feet callus, and where they fail to callus, they blister. And I weary. But reclining next to a tame fire, I find ephemeral rest—laces untied, shoes on the ground, socks stripped, naked feet propped on a log. A portable bowl full of soup in my hands, the rim gracing my lips, and I take sips the way a squirrel holds a nut. I finish and want more. Retirement is inside a temporary abode of polyester, braced by bent metal sticks that threaten to snap. I’m enveloped by the pocket that carries me through a tranquil darkness, asleep until the circadian hand empties me out into daylight. Waking, straining to see the reason I am here, aching. I strap the burdens I need to my back and begin the same steps of yesterday, only further along the path. Numbness spreads from my callused feet to my splinted shins, then to cinched hips. My necessities weigh on me as I still wonder why, staring at the path. As I ascend, coming closer to the final pass, my soul is nearly heavy enough to slip out of its fleshly encasing. Five switchbacks short, I stop. Breathing like wind blowing across broken glass. I survey the path behind me and notice the valley, lush and green, lasting for tens of miles. I went through that. But now I see the birds soaring overhead, the moose hidden in the bushes alongside the path, the chipmunks scurrying with fat cheeks, and the palette of blooming wildflowers. I see it now. I turn around and face the pass, finishing my ascent. I step off the path, lay down my pack, and enter into rest.
Creative Essay 35
Aphrodite Neysa Rogers
She finds me shivering like a fool
merciless is the footfall.
in a pool of lonesome moonlight.
Is it a mistake?
I watch ritual beauty
Who is your maker?
cascade onto solid ground
Who gave you your name?
standing upright and unbound. For a second I think I might need you
I was born in alabaster foam, with sanguine roses on my cheeks.
Aphrodite, so briefly. To corner me,
Angels contort their tongues to give me my name.
build your golden walls around me, barred, unbalanced,
A warrior’s muse, a lover’s wisdom. A heavenly creature of persuasion,
endlessly enraptured. She is giving love a new name,
dipped in earthly poison, a celestial sin given new reason,
she is making us so tame. Cutting our hair and
lingering in this drifting tide. I like to think she keeps me
giving it to the animals. Locks for the languid.
on the wings of the grand creature, Love. Aphrodite, she came by so briefly,
Heavy eyes of the mammal. She can see it in our eyes,
shimmering. And shimmering, she came to throw me into the sea.
spirals of sunlight when Love’s feet touch the ground,
Living Waters Review
Conscience Teeming in the River Megan Konynenbelt
(Which salmon floats upon the blue face of light unbeckoned by the way glares at the swirling white caps swims bridled through the tropics flows untethered amongst outcroppings of churning stars?)
Passing away, bright passers-by passing by shores scorching lonely and alive, Monet in the inferno, raptures ahead,
flying enjoined, silvery crescents careen cadences in the stratosphere, no appeal, pause, cry, to feed aplenty, alight those upstream.
Birdcage: Edinburgh, Scotland Delaney Esper
over the checkered floor,
I was called
under the arms of lovers.
by bob-haired girls
Belonging and not
and moustache-wearing men.
visible and inconspicuous, all the same, and bashful, I’d arrive.
Every night when the needle dropped and the brass notes danced
The journey may last a song or two and I’d be sat,
I heard my name
settled and concealed,
from one wooden table top
to the next
‘til some hand would set me free.
like gossip: Out of the cage, slivered billows “Birdcage, please”
“I’ll have one myself ”
and clove smoke would fill the air,
And they’d carry me out
and with a well-contented sip, sighs would
under low ceilings
to the sound of crackling jazz,
Living Waters Review
Freedom Dreams Marley Kimmit
Ilimanaq Bryce Langston
Short Story 40
ne can walk through the settlement in less than half an hour, from end to end. The sea lies to the west and curves with the globe, its obsidian waves falling off the edge of the world. To the east is an endless tundra of grey—bleak white if it is the season. Only a native with accustomed eyes can judge how far away the mountains are, for everything appears as the same colorless permafrost, a neutral canvas without depth. Ajuna knows nothing other than that canvas and the animals her father catches, strung up and skinned in front of the house every day. Her black-beaded eyes take it all in through calloused squints: ice, snow, rock, water, and reindeer carcass. She knows how to handle a gun and stare down the length of the barrel, how to fasten a line to a pole and be patient after a cast, how to dispose of the sewage bags after a week, and how to brew coffee for her father before he leaves to hunt. And her father never asks her to do anything—but she was taught. Ajuna walked herself to the settlement’s only school every day until she was twelve. She learned how to speak words like fiah and jage, how to use simple math, and how to read. Only what was necessary. One of her classmates left for Ilulissat to continue his education in the city. Ajuna comes to sit on a stone slab behind the house and stares at nothing, her thick black hair in a traditional braid that weighs heavily upon her back. Everyone in the settlement has left home for work—hunting and fishing, nothing else. There is emptiness beyond the settlement in the tundra, but Ajuna never has to look there to see it. She brings a bucket with her if her father had been skinning the
night before. Red. She hates the color—it reminds her of death and home. But it is the only color Ajuna has. A boat may come from Ilulissat once or twice a month, filled with necessities—building materials, medical supplies, coffee beans—breaking up the isolation of the settlement. When the bell sounds, Ajuna runs to the dock. She is handed packages of things from another world. Canada. She asks the captain what it’s like in Canada. “Not as cold as it is here,” he replies with a warm, chapped smile. Ajuna asks about Ilulissat. “Lots of tall buildings, with paved roads and restaurants and stores.” The captain begins helping others unload supplies, leaving Ajuna to ponder what a tall building looks like. Ajuna watches as the boat pulls away, its foreign products fully unloaded. She stares until it disappears and falls off the edge of the world. She turns and walks back to the house with a blank canvas in the background. Ajuna’s father has strung up and skinned the day’s triumphs in the front yard—she thinks of tall buildings, and how one could paint them.
Living Waters Review
Vinterhimmelen Rachel Sakrisson
Garden of Exhaust Brooke Stanish
Eve of the City, of the winter crisis of sterile trees & deceitful snow, crying pools into gloved hands, pure white palms â€“ she had her mittens
pressed this morning â€“ hoping to entomb a snowflake in the sanctuary of her fingers, but nothing, only guilty tears from the city of exhaust. Eve of the city, of the head falling back, of the hat hanging on & the tongue outstretched; A flake slipped from the sky, made a promise it could not keep & still: Eve tasted snow.
Living Waters Review
Ludwig Bryce Langston
Torture since it all faded to muffled consonants muddy timbre
forcing that useless organ against a trump maniacally desperate for your motive and though you strain— as a child does on the tip of toes— you reach at most a single, faint overtone bows pulled across string lips pressed against rim kettles pounded— what is it to you but a symphony soundless
Pneuma Looks in the Mirror Nate Brand
Who contends to harness the winds howling in my skull? What of these twin helmsmen, whose turns of wheel are realized in ink and sound, yet born in swarming thoughts?
One is red and turquoise, and luminous and blue, sad and sweet and liquid, with ninths and sevenths and other clusters of soft dissonance. The other comprehends color by transcending older pallets. It maintains jagged shapes, yet it is now and then all the more linear, without motion, a self-contradictory Non-Euclidian ideal. The two are synthesized in conflict of mind, the distracted interests of an artist still grappling brawny growing-pains.
Living Waters Review
The Dulcimer Shop Megan Konynenbelt
ooden timbers hold a peaked roof above the dulcimer man’s silvery head, while the beams’ relatives form a dense barrier around the home, protecting their uprooted children from any violence or rain. The man stands at a counter, devotedly training strips of wood into fluid shapes suited to the melodies of future musicians. Creating is a seamless act for him; every piece waits for his hand to pick it up and weave into its place. Amongst wood shavings, he hums deeply, saturating the shop with the chords that began time. Though his craft is his purpose, he doesn’t anger when a family, sweaty from exploration, wanders into his shop to cool themselves—instead, he asks them what they know about dulcimers. *** The folksy instrument was born of the wooded mountains. Early settlers came to the Appalachians and created the instrument out of their need for music. The dulcimer didn’t follow the settlers from their homelands but sprung out of the wood-melodies they longed to hear. With a variety of string lengths and instrument types, the versatile dulcimer is the lullaby of the Smoky Mountains—the fog that settles near heaven. The tourism of the mountains values the tones for their eclectic ability to announce, “You are now entering The South, where we play country music.” The dulcimer’s tones are not simply country music for the dulcimer man; they are the music to which he has dedicated his life. He has owned the shop in the mountains for over thirty years and throughout that time, he has traveled around the states to play his songs and share his culture. Though some visitors come to his shop for its novelty, he
instructs everyone who enters about the dulcimer’s history and how the music calls to his soul as the mountains do— they remind him of his place in relation to creation. *** The family knew a fair amount about instruments, being musicians themselves, but they had never met such a proficient dulcimer player. He offered to play them a song, handing them a large book filled with handwritten song titles—each song memorized for performance by the artist. The family was reluctant to choose a single song from the list of potentials, so the man swiped the book away and selected songs for them. For the mother, he selected a bluesy rendition of “Amazing Grace,” which was equally upbeat and tearful. The mother sang along as she did whenever she heard anything familiar—the tunes always compelled her participation. For the father, the man chose another hymn, “Trust and Obey,” but slowed it down, reflecting on the notes and giving each an opportunity to be heard. The father didn’t sing along, but his gray eyes aged with the song’s progression—he began to look more like his mother. The son had left the shop somewhere in between the two hymns, so the dulcimer man played a simple chord in the interim to decide on a song for the girl. “Que Sera Sera” emerged from the interim music, and the girl smiled. The music of the nineteen fifties reminded her of sentimentality, which she enjoyed feeling. No one asked where the son had gone. By this point, the other customers of the arts district had left the shop to be enchanted by other locally made goods, but the family stayed as the man told them about his instruction in the arts and his long-deceased mentor, who imparted ancestral knowledge of the instrument’s creation. They admired the designs he had carved into the faces of the instruments—hummingbirds dancing on the tips of waterfall flowers and daisies allowing music to flow from their petals. The woodgrains peeked through high-gloss or matte finishes to show the tree’s map of its journey into heaven. Beauty and purpose combine in instruments, where they, much like humanity, are at once the art and the artist. The dulcimer man told them that the price of his songs was to hear a tune from them. “I’ll accompany you, if you wanna sing,” he said. “Or I can teach you to play.” His tone was amused. “I’ll just sing because I only play the piano,” the mother said. Perhaps she thought that instruments were like languages,
Creative Essay 45
Creative Essay 46
easily muddled together when there are too many mingling inside her head. The father was used to playing strings—as a classically trained cellist, he delighted in the way the strings’ vibrations could change his feelings toward the sky. He often sat outside to play, simply to watch his perceptions change with his fugues. Today, however, he wanted to sing. “I can try the dulcimer,” the daughter said. She, too, had been trained with stringed instruments and told no one how stringed notes sounded like ripening fruit and every new leaf. “I’ve never been very good at playing anything. It’ll be rough going,” she continued. The man, while pleased to play himself, was enthusiastic about sharing his knowledge. Before they began the song, he told the family that there were two different types of dulcimer that he makes—the hammered dulcimer, which is a large wooden sound box with stretched strings that allow a deep, percussive tone. The second, and more common type in the Smoky Mountains, is the Appalachian dulcimer, which is a cross between a guitar and a fiddle. The Appalachian dulcimer can be played like a guitar, or the musician can set the instrument on a hard surface and play it more like a horizontal harp. The hand-held method was more for street performances, the man said, so he set an instrument made of walnut wood down in front of the girl to discuss the basics. If the girl had been honest, she would’ve told him that her skill with strings had been neglected until they transitioned fully into being obsolete. That the strings that she loved ruined her immune-weakened skin, skin that swelled and blistered with the slightest scratch or pressure. That she hadn’t played an instrument in ten years because her fingertips were numb from an untreated pinched nerve. She wasn’t honest with the man, but neither was her past honest with her. Discouraging her with the misty basis of its experience, her memory recalled the mostly overcome pain, causing her first simple chords to be difficult to execute. Eventually she was able to connect the notes into chords until the group was able to sing along with her halting abilities, though the angle of the instrument on the counter was awkward, and her practice was non-existent. For once, interaction with a stringed instrument hadn’t resulted in swollen hands—she was again able to create music while remaining mute. They exited the shop to find the son sitting on the edge
of the concrete sidewalk, feet planted firmly on the dusty road. He turned his sunburnt face to them, indicating his anger at being left outside for so long. He had chosen the only swath of street unshaded by the towers of trees, the only section of road with the potential to be splashed with muck as trucks rolled by. When the mother asked him why he left, he just shrugged. “I guess,” he said, “I guess I was too thirsty to sit in that room and listen to that guy’s music.” “And did you get yourself a drink?” the mother asked. “No, I didn’t need it after I left,” he replied. The family meandered down to the other shops, personalized signs and homemade jams being offered all the way down. The girl thought about hummingbirds singing. *** Later that night, the man packed his instruments into a truck that had lost many of its horses through the years. He was a street musician for the tourists on the Gatlinburg strip—he’d be sandwiched between a moonshine brewery and the twelfth sweatshirt shop that only sold neon or tie-dyed clothing. As he stopped to set down his dulcimer case, he didn’t mind the stale smell of fermenting hops or the flashing signs marketing wares. He simply set his empty case upon the ground and began to play. For a while, people around him continued hurrying on to their destinations, but eventually, the draw of his passion roped a small huddle of bystanders into witnessing the music. Someone threw a whole bag of fresh candied peanuts into the case, and then someone else added twenty-five cents. From down the way, the girl heard his music and knew it was the same man. She and her family drew closer to him, listening for the songs he’d play for the crackling city. They didn’t recognize it. He was playing song long unheard amongst the streams and valleys—the echoes he learned from his teacher long ago. The son, rapt with momentary attention, threw his loose change into the open case. The family continued down the brightly lit strip, leaving the city the following day. Yet the girl stopped to retrieve a hummingbird to bring home and piece together the song of the man.
Living Waters Review
The Fiddler (inspired by Whitman) Olivia Taylor
To elaborate is no avail, learned and unlearned feel that it is so— And yet I must tell you how it is and what it is to know. There comes a fiddle scraping golden through the wood Mournful as a dream, merry as a mile mound of flooded mead, a blue stain spreading into burning mouths with purple flame and all take hands to reel and whirl and frolic through the rain. As sweet as salty sky-flung spouts to fishes in the air the light shoots round in a honey sound, and the embers stare towards velvet valleys behind the sun, while poppies in their dream-garb run, blooming feathers homewards meet the stamping sound of giddy feet and all circle back and all exhale, take hands again, take heart again and spin until the wood is spinning too— (To elaborate is no avail, learned and unlearned feel that it is so— And yet I must tell you how to dance and what it is to go.)
The Mandarin Duck’s Assent Katherine McGovern The autumnal air flapped across my cheeks. I gazed at you in wonder. That Sunday morning, grinning as you paddled along— you stole the orange hue of sunset for your breast, vaunting the finest jewels a sapphire broach perched on your crown emeralds chimed at your sides roses framed your snout the night sky streaked your neck Why were you wading alone? Autumn turned to winter. The frostbite struck my chest. You swam along in indifference, I realized the pity of our plight
webbed feet continued to push on, cold waters I bet she bore your beauty, hopefully your youth as well. Was it the lodgers who took away your home? Was it greed that triggered the bullet? Preoccupied persecution. Regret for mankind, for which I am torn, a part. You floated away into distant water desperate pleas bleed from my lips— All Loving, All Knowing, All Powerful, Tri-Omni and destruction in juxtaposition? Free will is not an excuse. The lake water flowed in rings, with silent, graceful passing as my tear stream trickled, upon my upturning lips one after another, in imperfect unison, five ducklings followed their mother, squawks harmoniously chimed as they ruffled their heads in cold water protected, playful profession. In a pond of holy water, I am set free— his torture, distasteful death, lead to eternal life. I rose, gathered my things, and turned to the ducks one last time. Seven ducks, two adult and five young, reunited in the sky.
Living Waters Review
Footprints Kyle Kazmier
Eventide Abigail Skinner
Short Story 50
he boy sits on the edge of the river, pant cuffs rolled up to his knees. The dog, Climate, sits beside him. Its tongue hangs out the left side of its mouth, and its teeth are brown with rot. This does not bother the boy, nor does the dirt that has dried onto its tail or the chiggers that cling to the scruff of its neck. He buries his small hand in Climate’s too-long fur, grips tightly to keep the dog from jumping into the river. Normally the boy would let Climate free, but the sun is setting and the current moves fast and it makes the boy uneasy. He looks at the dog. “Not today, buddy.” The dog watches him, pants, sneezes. “Maybe tomorrow, yeah?” Still Climate watches him. The boy flicks a mosquito off his arm and adjusts his fishing cap and lets the dog lick his chin. The dog is medium-sized with light brown fur and brown eyes and socked white paws. He is twelve, perhaps thirteen years old, older than the boy, but his age does not show. Maybe just in the gray clouding his eyes, the short gray bits of fur around his mouth. The boy has just turned eleven. Behind them are tall trees and bushes and flat dirt ground. Sometimes Climate finds a rabbit and the boy will let him chase it through the small woods until he either catches it or tires himself out and returns to lay at the boy’s feet. “Go find a rabbit, go on.” He pushes at the dog’s legs, points to the trees. Climate knows the word by now. He gets up and disappears instantly, but the boy can hear the dog displacing the leaves of the short bushes and so he
is not worried. The boy turns back to the river and the orange sky slowly dimming. His mother will be expecting them home soon. She does not understand, though he has tried to explain, that this is the most important time and they can’t just leave in the middle of it or they will miss the whole thing. “You can’t just go during the day?” she used to say. “Or for the sunrise?” And the boy wanted to laugh at this. “It can’t be for the sunrise. That’s not how it works.” Eventually she decided that it would be okay if Climate went with him, and they came home as soon as it was over, if the boy promised his mother he wouldn’t get caught up looking at the stars or picking wild mushrooms or letting Climate get lost chasing rabbits. But it was okay about the rabbits because Climate knew the woods, and they were always home in time. The river moves fast and loud, and it splashes up on the boy’s feet and the water is cold, a bad sign for it being only August. Still there is the warm night air and the mosquitoes buzzing, still the summer has not yet completely died. For a while, the woods behind him are quiet, and he listens for Climate. Hears nothing but the water. He pulls his fishing cap low over his ears and stands up, the rolled cuffs of his pants uncurling with the movement. He does not call the dog’s name, walks with feet bare against the dirt. This section of woods is familiar to him, so he does not need the light. He reaches a patch of ground, a few feet across, where there are no trees and he stands quiet and does not call the dog’s name. Several minutes pass and with them the last remaining bits of day. The boy does not worry. He whistles once, takes off his fishing cap, lays it on the ground. Then he turns and walks home.
Living Waters Review
In Transit Eden Prime
thumbed the crusty edges of the photographs in my traveling trunk. Its small compartments contained the few things from home. I pulled out the stack— mismatched rectangles of captured light. I turned over one marked “Rei’s thirteenth birthday.” In it I was smiling, holding a lorikeet in front of a bright red baseball diamond, long, white-blonde curls puffed out from under my pink cap. When I was fourteen, I shaved my head. It had been a hard spring. The baseball field had closed, and my best friend, Tullis, moved away. His family was from Kansas, and they finally had enough of the stuffy heat of the military base. My lorikeet died in May, and my dad wouldn’t let me get another. But he did let me get a motorbike when I was seventeen. The next picture was of it, shiny, black and purple. I rubbed my head, not shaved now, but short. The white-blonde had faded into a dirty mix of brown and blonde over time. I had a crooked two-inch scar under my left eye now. It did not appear in any of the pictures. I touched my left cheek and felt the scar. It didn’t hurt anymore. I put the pictures away and closed the truck. Moving to the window, I picked up my mug and took a sip of lukewarm coffee through a straw. As I looked out the small, round window, the moon grew tinier, sliding out of view. Soon, the grey-blue mass of Earth would appear, and I would be landing in my new home.
Short Story 51
Dry Heave Nate Brand
No lasting proof of my hurt means you can call me false but you miss the point my sickness is a dance and my screams convulsions. I’ve vomited misery fomenting the lust
of a mob—the macabre— in my gaping maw as you still miss the point I love my fate. I’ve clutched retching pain like a friend keeps close, always willing to meet me and teach me unfelt truths. I’ve spent hours stood bleeding pressing feet on thorns, barbed wire and broken glass through skin harder into bone inducing not cries but pained spasms, yes, they are useful allies when nothing beckons with wide, friendly arms.
Living Waters Review
Christendom Olivia Taylor
The wood-wrought doors were portals of time. Outside was tropic sidewalk lawn. Inside wasâ€” unspeakable. Stripped of the white noise of modernity, richly inlaid with jeweled light, a roof of night. Gothic. Beautiful. It is terrifying, alone. Just you and God and your ghosts. Too frightened to kneel you prayed with a hand on the door and fled to a papyrus gargoyle garden in a nook of an arch-laden passage. There is a water-fountain bleeding into the wall. The walk is salted and thirsty. Drink greedily. Trust the water.
Lock on Lake Okeechobee Eden Prime
Living Waters Review
Landlocked Travis Lambert
he sun crept slowly out of the depths of the sky, shooting bands of deep red and purple out into the blackness. It had been one of those nights in late October when the frost got in between the husk and the maze. It was the kind of frost that gets in bones. Glistening, it looked as if God had cried that night. A grain farm was nestled outside of a town in southern Illinois called Caseyville, a small ex-coal mining town ten miles from the Mississippi River. It was a dirty place that had turned into an agricultural area after the coal mine shut down and left men who stank of honest work for no pay to find new jobs. With one gas station, a Wendy’s, and Lester’s Bar, there wasn’t much to be done in that place but eat and drink. The farm overlooked nothing but rolling hills with the occasional drop of forest and a stream that ran east and to the north until it hit a feeding river. That morning grew in beauty as each moment thrust the sun farther above the horizon line. It was about six o’clock when the alarm went off in the house for Karla, the farmer’s wife. She stretched just like the shadows of the morning in the sun and got out of bed and looked out her window in the bedroom of the old farmhouse. If there’s really a heaven, how could it be better than right now? She walked downstairs and threw on a coat, stepped into her boots, and went outside to fuel up the combine in the steel building. As she turned the corner, she found the doors to the building were wide open—hanging between them was her husband being kissed by the sun one last time. ***
On the east side of Nashville, a cell phone broke the silence of a dank basement apartment. Noah had been out the night before playing a couple gigs and wasting his pay on the drinks that weren’t covered by the band tab. He had taken the train tracks home after the bars closed, stumbling to get a six-pack from the corner store down the street from his place. After that stop, he went home and wrote the saddest cowboy song, pining about the girl he lost and the family farm where his dad had killed himself. He grabbed the phone. “What?” he garbled, trying to find the last line in the dark basement. The other voice hesitated, “Tyson is dead.” He recognized the voice and blurted, “What are you talking about?” Karla’s voice creaked as she went on, “He did it just like your dad. He’s gone and left me this hellhole, and I don’t know what to do. I wouldn’t have called you unless I absolutely needed to. Please help me, at least for the next few days. Come to the funeral.” Noah couldn’t understand. Why did he have to do this now? Idiot Tyson. “Okay, I’ll get on a plane tonight after my gig.” “Thank you, Noah. I’ll see you soon, yeah? Bye.” Noah hung up the phone. The light peering in through the barely-above-ground window began to move across the room and hit his face. He grabbed a bottle of whiskey and took a swig big enough to kill any hurt that a man could have. Idiot Tyson. Noah had left home at twenty-one to pursue music in Nashville. His father had disowned him in the only way a midwestern father knew how to deal with a creative son, hurling ideas of what it could do to the farm and how he didn’t stand a chance. He and Karla had been dating since high school when he decided to move. He left his girl like most men do, in the middle of the night, drunk, with a vision impaired enough to only focus on himself. Noah’s brother began dating Karla soon after, and they got married a year later. Noah had made a name for himself as a singersongwriter in Nashville. Three years after he’d left the farm, he was in the middle of celebrating an album release when he got the call from Tyson that his dad had hanged himself. He remembered the grimacing voice of his father denouncing his music because it took time away from the farm. He didn’t go to the funeral. Noah’s taxi from St. Louis got off the highway and
Short Story 55
Short Story 56
began driving through Caseyville. “Stop at that gas station, will ya? Thanks.” Noah stepped out of the car and looked across the street. The red neon sign of Lester’s reminded him of the dives he’d played in towns you wouldn’t even know existed. Those are my kind of people, songs sittin’ at that bar. He pushed open the door and waited in line as the people in front of him bought their frozen dinners and fumbled for their EBT cards. Noah bought a bottle of Rich and Rare. He returned to the taxi, and it meandered out of the red tint of Lester’s neon sign. Noah cracked the seal and began guzzling the bottle. “Hey,” the taxi driver scolded, “you can’t do that in here!” Noah retorted, “I don’t give a crap. I’ll give ya what’s left at the farm.” “Yeah? Okay. It’s a deal.” Noah lit a cigarette and laid his head back, staring into the forest that ran along the side of the road, the stream within it emanating light from the moon. “All right. This is the place. Stop.” Noah got out of the car, giving the taxi driver some cash and the half bottle of whiskey. “Don’t drink and drive, bud.” The taxi driver took three quick gulps, mumbling, “Uh-huh,” and sped away. Noah took a deep breath of the farm air. He still remembered that smell. He opened his eyes and saw the corn beginning to freeze in the black cold of the night. Couldn’t you have gotten that done before? He approached the door to the farmhouse and saw Karla sitting at the table in the dining room, finishing a bottle of red wine. She saw him, jumped up, and opened the door. They stared at each other for too long without speaking. “Got any more wine?” Noah said, breaking the silence. “No, sorry.” “When’s the funeral?” “The wake is tomorrow night. The funeral is the next morning.” Karla stared at her empty wine glass. “Alright, I can stay for both, but I can’t stay any longer than that. I got two shows the next couple days, and—” Karla snapped, “Well, I wouldn’t want to take you away from any of that. I’m sure your brother wouldn’t want to, either.” Karla stared into Noah’s eyes. “I’m not doing this,” he said. “Especially right now. I’ll just go to the room and sleep.” Noah stumbled up the stairs to his childhood bedroom that was now an office. Sighing, cursing, he lay down on the old wooden floor.
*** The light from the window broke into the room and hit Noah’s face. He winced with cold sweat from the whiskey and hot sweat from the sun. He checked the time; it was 4:45 in the afternoon. He sat up, wiped his eyes, and burped out the old familiar taste of a hangover. He walked to the bathroom and swung open the door to find Karla standing in a towel getting ready. “The wake is in an hour.” Karla drew the lipstick across her lips and puckered, never looking at Noah. “I’ll meet you there.” He whirled toward his room. Mumbling, he put on some clean but wrinkled clothes and shuffled down the stairs. “Noah, do you know where the wake is?” he heard as he reached the bottom of the stairs. “I got a pretty good idea of where it’ll be.” Noah closed the front door and began walking toward town. I need a shot just to get right before this crap. He knew the wake for his brother would be at the VFW Hall in town, same as his father’s. He felt crisp air on his face while light warmed the back of his leather jacket. He walked alongside the stream while the afternoon sun cast movements of dark and light into the water. He reached down and scooped a handful, smacked his face, slicked his hair. He closed his eyes and breathed in as if to save all the air he took into his lungs. Not bad for a hellhole. Noah walked all the way to Main Street, hung a left, and made a beeline for Lester’s. He cracked open the door, allowing light to pour in, revealing smoky stares, then sat at the bar and ordered a double of whiskey. “Neat, no ice.” He opened up his notebook, wanting to use the time to find a song in this mess. I can feel it comin’ with the wind Leaves are changing, summer’s at an end That old fire ya built grows dim And it’s dark in the hearth of the den A large, fleshy ghost from his past approached, muttering, “Sorry about your brother, man. Suicide just keeps happening around here. Too bad no one killed his ass, right? You’d have got a pretty penny then.” Noah turned his head and saw Zach Lewis’s ugly face and fake smile. “Yeah,” he told Zach, “my family’s only rich in workin’
Living Waters Review
too honest and killin’ themselves.” The fake smile disappeared when Noah’s fist smacked it. Dark spit splattered, and Zach fell backward. Noah grabbed the guy’s shirt and began punching again, saying, “You’ll get your life insurance today!” The bartender cocked his shotgun. “Get out now, song boy!” Noah tossed a ten-dollar bill on the bar. “Keep the change.” He strode out the door and headed toward the VFW. His hand pulsed, and the blood on it chilled in the air. Noah wiped it off as he walked through the parking lot, then he stopped at the entrance and paused, collecting himself in his reflection on the glass door. Finally, he walked in, seeing most of his family gathered. They stared, saying nothing to him, but whispering to themselves about how his hair was too long and his tattoos too many. Good to see you too. He walked further into the dim room. He saw his brother in the casket, surrounded by flowers and picture collages. No pictures of me. He sat next to Karla in the front row and stared off into someplace where this reality was far in the distance. Karla whispered in his ear, “Why do people have open casket funerals? It’s unnerving. I know he’s dead. I’m the one who found him. Do people need to see for themselves to believe it?” She wiped her eyes. “I knew you’d know where to go. Even though you weren’t here last time.” Noah felt an anger rise and subside within him, “I’m sorry. For all of it.” “Yeah? Really? Are you really sorry?” Noah paused for a moment before continuing, “You know, the church down the street claims to follow this God that loves broken people, that gives them strength to fight off things that can harm them. But what if what harms that person is their own self ? They won’t allow the funeral there, will they? I know because Tyson killed himself and that’s unforgiveable. They didn’t let Mom have a service there for Dad, either. So let me ask you a question. What good could possibly come from believing in something that calls you, too far gone, for His graces?” Karla shuddered, replaying the color of the sun radiating off her husband’s flannel shirt, finding the warmth given to him in that last kiss. “Your family are the religious ones. I never really believed. I just went along with it.”
Noah felt a weight fall off of him; maybe it was the whiskey, maybe not. “I’ll stay, Karla.” Her head turned quickly, “You’ll what?” “I said I’ll stay. The livestock feed needs to be done. I can change the dates on my shows lined up. I can make it work, at least until all this is over, and you figure out what to do with the place, because I sure as hell don’t want it.” Karla finally broke and began letting the full weight of Tyson’s death escape from her. She hadn’t felt the ability to grieve, or perhaps it was that she couldn’t find the time with all the chores that had to be done. “Why would you do this?” escaped her lips. “Because maybe it’s the only way I can try to make up for what I’ve done. I have done a lot of awful things to find some semblance of success, and you know what? It’s never enough. I want more, always. So maybe Tyson was right to work the farm. Maybe that was success. Not pushing a fake career, but at the end of the day just sitting on that stupid front porch with you.” Karla slowly got up, and then ran to the exit and flung open the doors. Her face was lit up with the dank, red neon sign of Lester’s, while the sun was falling into the endless fields of corn and the St. Louis skyline in the distance. In a bright pink and purple hue, it kissed her face before it fell into the ground.
Short Story 57
Plead Abigail Skinner
Short Story 58
hey have been here before, too many times. Too many times and it never makes any difference, never changes a thing. They sit, separated by a partition of cracked and smudged Plexiglas and “review the details”— the lawyer’s words—of that night, trying to “uncover any new information.” But there is no new information to be uncovered. He had told the lawyer, the psychiatrist, and the judge the complete story from the beginning. Sparing nothing. He pleaded guilty. They had convicted him. And he was never getting out. The lawyer, Wallace, wraps the phone with a paper towel and holds it to his ear, then gestures for the man on the other side to pick up his. “Abbott,” he says. “I’m sorry it’s been so long since I’ve visited.” “What’s it matter to me?” “I’m just saying—” “I never ask you to come here.” Henry Abbott looks at the lawyer, at his expensive suit, his tired, wrinkled skin. “You’re right. But you always agree to see me.” Someone in the cubicle next to them bangs on the partition glass. Visitor or inmate? Each section is separated by a privacy wall. No way to know. A girl starts crying. A guard rushes in and escorts her out. Wallace clicks his tongue. “Domestics,” he says, “always with a flair for the dramatic.” “Let’s just get this over with, Wallace. Ask me what you want to ask me, I’ll tell you nothing you haven’t already heard, and we can go our separate ways.” “Abbott.” Wallace pulls the phone away from his left
ear, rewraps it, and holds it up to his right. “Wait, wait,” Henry raises a finger to the glass. “You know what? Before you start asking. Have I ever told you about the time my father took me turkey hunting for my eighth birthday?” The lawyer shakes his head. “Listen, Wallace, real close, okay?” He points to the legal pad sitting on the desk in front of the lawyer. “You might want to take notes, too, or whatever it is you do on that paper. Doodle, whatever.” “Go ahead, Abbott. Tell me.” “Right before my eighth birthday, my family moved to Wisconsin. My dad had been fired from his job in West Virginia, I think. Never knew all the details. My parents kept a lot of secrets. Anyway, so we moved to this middleof-nowhere town in Wisconsin, rented this craphole of a house right next to a power plant. I mean, the house was horrendous, dirty, mold covering the walls. But there was this patch of woods behind the plant. Actually, bigger than a patch, must’ve been a couple hundred acres. I loved it. I would cut through it sometimes to get to school when I was running late. It was dark and quiet. Secure. Made me feel secure. “My dad was a hunter, you knew that, right? Yeah. Yeah, he was a hunter my whole life. Always for the sport of it. And it made me sick, that he did that for fun. My eighth birthday was the first time he’d ever made me go with him. I didn’t want to, he knew I didn’t want to, but he made me and I couldn’t say anything. I was eight. What was I gonna say against my father? I didn’t have a choice. Do you understand? “So he said we were going to start small. I wasn’t ready for big game yet. I needed to start out by killing something smaller than I was, something I could intimidate. Turkey, he told me. We’re going to start with turkey. The woods were filled with wild turkey. I used to see them in clusters when I walked to school. They were always loud, I remember, so loud, like they were talking to each other. Well, I guess they were talking to each other. And they didn’t scare easy. I could walk right up to them, less than a foot away, and they’d just stare at me. I thought it would be easy, at least. What did I know?” Henry pauses for a moment, rubs away a smudge on the glass with the corner of his sleeve. Before he continues, he takes three slow breaths. “We went out early that morning. My dad had all his
Living Waters Review
gear in two bright orange duffle bags. He made me put on a vest, ear muffs, gloves, protective goggles. Felt like I was wearing a costume. Felt like freakin’ Halloween. And then he didn’t waste any time. He told me how to hold the shotgun, how to lessen the kickback. He showed me the turkey shot ammunition meant to penetrate the thick plumes of the turkeys. “Then he handed me the gun, pointed. That one, he said. My fate was sealed, Wallace. I didn’t have a choice. The first shot missed. Dad wasn’t surprised. He’d been expecting that. Just try again, he said. But the noise had triggered something in those turkeys. Fight or flight, I guess. And they started running. Scattered in every direction. You better run, boy, you’re gonna lose ‘em. Run, Henry. “I ran, followed a slower, fatter one. It couldn’t escape in time. I shot it. Shot it and then burst into tears, because the shot had hit its stomach and the thing was still alive. It was still alive and laying there making this noise, this horrific cry. Again! His voice was right behind me, his hand on my shoulder. Don’t let that thing suffer. “And that word. Suffer. To know that I had caused another living thing to suffer. My hands had done it. My eight-year-old hands. And to finish what I’d started was to become a murderer or a savior. At that moment I couldn’t have told you which would have been worse.” Henry finishes his story and looks up at Wallace for the first time since he’d begun speaking. The lawyer gazes back, unblinking, pen still in hand, suspended over his notebook. He hadn’t written a single word. Henry says, “Hell of a story, huh?” Almost chuckles. “Why now? Why are you telling me this now?” Wallace says. “I don’t know.” He shrugs. “I don’t know.” Wallace sighs, drops the phone, doesn’t move for almost a minute. When he speaks again, his voice is pleading. “Why did you do it, Henry?” He slams a fist against the table in front of him. “Why did you take the fall for him? You’re innocent. You are innocent.” “That’s what I’m trying to tell you, Wallace. I didn’t have a choice.”
Short Story 59
Mountain Mist Ryan Arnst
Living Waters Review
Whiff of Scotland Olivia Taylor
Name: Rhythm, by Burberry Description: Scotland in a bottle. Plaid-printed glass. Smells of: wet sweaters and scarves icy rain on uncovered heads fluorescent, shimmering wet streets in the dark, bergamot, ginger, chocolate, nicotine and petrol, petrichor and new books, violently green moss steam-engine smoke through a tunnel church candles, whiskey January ocean air and eerie seagull screams sawdust, fresh paint, the sunâ€™s sweat bluebells in graveyards, the earth-damp of trees and streams golden light seen from a snowy exterior, unwilling permanence of farewell.
The Birthright Tree Megan Konynenbelt
Short Story 62
on’t touch the tree out back—that’s for Charles only. You will inherit the house and its contents, but leave the tree for Charles. That was what my dad had been telling me since I was three years old. We were in our backyard playing catch when I tripped over a stone and began to tumble down. I reached out my hand to brace myself against the tree, but before I touched its gray trunk, my dad was holding me up in the air. He had grabbed my hand and hoisted me up, away from the tree. He wasn’t angry, just concerned. “I’ve got you,” he said. “Don’t touch that tree, it’s for Charles only.” Charles is my older brother. I thought this tree situation was a raw deal. Charles got everything. He would always pass down whatever it was that I wanted, but he refused to let me take this tree. It was a beautiful tree—each season, it bloomed a different seed, nut, or fruit depending on what the family wanted to eat. It was the only thing I really cared about. Charles was the one who wanted all the heirlooms and the old photographs, and I wanted the magic tree. Still, Charles would not switch with me. I often begged him to give the tree that would always give me food. As the eldest son, it was his responsibility to take care of me. What better way to show affection than to give me what I want? “No, Buck,” Charles consistently responded. “I know why I got the tree. It’s only giving the fruit until dad passes, then I’ll have nothing. You’ll have to take me into the house. I’ll have nowhere to go and nothing to eat.”
“I’ve never heard him say that,” I always muttered. He was patient but unrelenting: “A bad attitude isn’t going to make me more enthusiastic about going against dad’s plan, Buck.” Eventually, I came to resent him less and less, but the length of time spent transitioning from resentment to toleration was excessive. As the years passed and our relationship grew tighter, I began to believe my brother when he told me it was for the best, but it wasn’t until the will was read that I truly began to understand dad’s reasoning. When the day of the funeral came, the tree was more on my mind than anything else. In an increasingly vapid conversation with myself, I rehashed my previous teenage angst. Sure, I now had all the benefits which Charles should’ve had as the eldest son, but I wished more and more for that tree. We sat next to each other in the church pew, Charles and I. He didn’t cry. I did, but mostly for myself, in all honesty. Not even for my loss. I cried about Charles’s tree. The congregation intoned a dull version of “Trust and Obey”—my father’s favorite hymn—and all I felt was anger. Even at graveside nothing could console me. I held my mother against my chest as she cried her dry tears, and I drove her home in what was now my car. Back at the house, I avoided Charles. For around three years, we all remained in the same house, but even looking at him made me insensible with rage. I refused to give him money, so his clothes got pretty ratty, but I suspect mom slipped him some cash for food when I wasn’t around. I came home one day, and he was in the kitchen peeling the label off an apple. He stuck the label to a pile of other stickers lumped together on the stone countertop. There was a pie crust laying in a pan beside an apple pile, just waiting for some homemade fruit filling. I couldn’t believe my eyes. “You’re buying apples?! To make a pie?!” Charles was calm. “I did buy the apples, Buck. I thought we could have one of dad’s famous pies, if you’ll give me the recipe.” “It’s not bad enough for you to take my money without consultation? Now, you’re going to disregard your tree filled with apples? You bought them?!” I hurled a bushel of hate that landed at his feet. “Buck,” he smiled sadly, “haven’t you been looking outside?” I looked.
Living Waters Review
I could talk now about the tree outside, but the tree I remembered from childhood was no longer there. In its place stood a charred stump, with nails and vines sticking and growing around the last chunk of trunk. Growing like boils off the base were tiny, prickly pears that were more thorn than fruit. Amazed, I asked, “Charles…What have you done to dad’s tree?” “It was always like this, Buck. Dad didn’t want you to see it. I already knew it was like this when we were children, but until you touch the tree, it looks bountiful.” Now, I remembered it had been some time before I had gone outside, and couldn’t figure out how I could see now. Then, I recalled work that morning. I had been sitting at my desk, when a prickly pear had been delivered to my cubical. I picked it up, but only to throw it into the garbage. There was nothing edible about it anyway, it was husk-like, dry. Charles heard my memory in silence, but came to hug me as my envy and ire drained away. “Charles?” “Yeah, Buck?” “Can I help you with that pie?” As we baked pie after pie—well into the night—I kept glancing at that appleless tree. And I wished that I hadn’t had to see it. Charles laughed when I told him. “It’s been there for ages, Buck. It has to stay there.” I knew it couldn’t be removed; its roots were surely grown into our house’s foundation, but it was just so ugly. “Why,” I asked, “does it have to be so ugly?” Charles replied, “If it weren’t ugly…if it were lovely… you would still want it. You wanted it when it was ugly, but at least now you don’t envy me.” After that, our fruit only came with labels, which Charles and I peeled off together.
Short Story 63
74 Out of Normal, IL Maren Brander
She moved away on a Tuesday, car stuffed like a full stomach, all the windows down. Her hair blown in a wind storm of crossing borders and one last look over her shoulder. Assisted runaway was not
the usual rite of passage in midwest towns, but corn loses its shine and luster eventually. Her call of the wild meant exile from the only place known as home. From Lincoln land to orange coast, 18 is a thick-skinned number. She took the highway southbound; time will pass before that town sees her in solidarity again. That routine, forever the same â€“ No goodbyes and one hundred and one hellos.
Living Waters Review
Good Air in the Valley Ryan Arnst
In a Public Library by the Metro Brooke Stanish
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oetry surrounded Theo, but the names on the bindings meant nothing—Dante, Dickinson, Eliot. Theo’s wrinkles contorted into a question mark, and he rubbed his remaining hair with chapped knuckles, trying to remember those names; nothing ever came. He placed his cardboard box at his feet, unloading the day’s selected reading materials before him—recommendations from a lady who told him to call her Evelyn. Her platinum blonde head glowed, the sun of the public library. Only upon closer inspection could anyone detect greying tendrils. Head blazing, she took her seat in the adjacent sections across from Theo labeled “True Crime” and “Just for Laughs.” Theo read a single page of seven books at a time, peering up now and then to watch Evelyn plug in her collection of gadgets. That’s why she chose to establish her little kingdom there—it had approximately eleven working outlets, the twelfth always betrayed her. The sun of the library shifted her gaze to Theo, raised her wilted coffee cup in greeting. Theo hailed Evelyn with his tea in return. No sugar, no milk, just black. Pausing between a page of Heisenberg’s The Physical Principles of the Quantum Theory and a pocket-sized version of the Gospel of Luke, Theo looked up. He positioned his head just right so that the shelves of library books flowed as waves of words. Through the book shelves, he saw the world. The smaller the books, the bigger the windows. Above Whitman’s Leaves of Grass, a young librarian’s head bloomed. Theo poured over a page of the newest library gift from Evelyn, Joyce’s Ulysses. As the caffeine dripped into
him, he felt like he could understand, he told himself that he could understand. Then the page was finished; time to move onto the next book. Before confronting the beasts of Revelation, Theo’s eyes followed a sound through the bookshelves. A man lugging a camouflage backpack was trying to rent twenty copies of Gone with the Wind, but his camo failed, and the librarian caught him. Theo simpered. At that moment, Evelyn dislodged herself from her cave of treasures. She floated towards Theo; they had never spoken before. She just left books on his table, wordlessly. Oftentimes, he wondered how dark the library would be if she left. Theo’s mind fell into pieces on the retro library carpet; fragments of words spilled at his feet. “Well,” the sun smiled, “what do you think?” Her rays illumined his sprawling collection of books open on the table. He didn’t understand the books, not a word. He realized that didn’t matter—she didn’t understand them, either. The words still freed them. “Lovely, just lovely.”
Living Waters Review
Sheep on Stanage Edge, Derbyshire Rachel Sakrisson
Magda Neysa Rogers
Short Story 68
rees blurred together from where she sat looking out the train window. The uncracked glass shined enthusiastically in her gray eyes. And trees, trees, trees of yellow, orange, red, fumbled and toppled over. One could not determine whether the shortness of her breath was caused by the dazzling sight or by the mass of bags she had brought with her. The clothes had burdened her and poured out into the aisle as she tried with her weak arms to stuff them into the overhead. With every mishap, an ounce of certainty left her willing body, and she was left as splintered as she had begun. Her neck finally resisted her heavy head and she rested it against the cloth backing of the chair. As she watched the trees pass by, she thought of all the things she wished for. The first was a song to sing that was hers, no lullaby heard in ancient times or hymnal laid upon a graceful head. She craved a song so vivid it could break the glass and put the drunkards to rest. A song to settle the silence and disrupt the children who beckoned for her in the far-off distance of time. I wish for you and you appear. You are here to be wild and feared. Free and magical and clear. She hid her face as a man dressed in navy flipped through Der Sturmer, Germany’s most-read newspaper. Every printed word like a dagger held closely to her throat. She choked on the stream of smoke that left his serpentine lips. A trail of ivory and ghost shrouded her and mingled with her short breath. “I’d appreciate if you didn’t light one
so close to me. Cigarette smoke gives me a headache,” she lied to the man. He simply crossed his legs the other way and blew a long puff into the aisle. Der Sturmer harassed her eyes once more and she wished he would turn back around anyway. She pressed the side of her head to the cold glass. The rhythmic hum of the tracks, the turning of his pages, and her own breathing put her to sleep. She dreamed of bright green countryside and no trees in sight. She dreamed of daisies with soft stems and warm petals that never died because of perpetual sunshine. She saw men dressed in clean linen lying on a winding brick path and women braiding little girls hair on the fresh cut lawn. There was dust in the air, pollen on her hands, and sweat on the back of her neck as she stretched her sore limbs. The children laughed and ran in the endless field, clean linen and healthy bones. She awoke to the sudden jolt of the train stopping. The man next to her got out of his seat and laid the newspaper where he’d been sitting. She stood up to leave as well, confused by the mass of people leaving the train car. Her eyes drifted over the delicate paper left on the seat and the words floated in her head like senseless bumblebees. She wished she had not lied about disliking cigarettes. As the passengers waited outside the train, small talk was made about the war and the rumors. They hushed when the conductor walked up towards the crowd and raised his head to speak. “I’m sorry to report that there will be a slight delay in your arrivals to Canfranc International. We will be stopped here until matters can be resolved,” was all he cared enough to say. The crowd began to murmur a communal whisper of dread. As the conductor began to walk away from the scene, she ran after him. “What seems to be the matter?” “That is what we are trying to figure.” “And when will you men know?” “We will know when we know.” At his remark she turned on her heel and walked back towards the crowd. Some had made small groups and others had sat on decaying wood or in the grass. The newspaper man leaned precariously against the train car. She approached him with the impression that he’d know more of what was happening. As she looked closely at him, she realized his eyes were green like the fern that grew beneath their feet and his hair the color of ash. They observed each other. Neither could determine who would speak first. He cleared
Living Waters Review
his throat and pulled a cigarette from his breast pocket. “Smoke?” he said. “Please,” she replied. Their discussion was of no importance. Nothing he asked her ever breached the surface. She felt lucky to have met someone so uncaring. “Where are you headed?” “To my family in the south of Switzerland.” “Quaint.” “Yes, quite. And you?” He pretended not to hear her. She was unsure whether to ask again or simply leave him alone. He finally responded with, “Just to see Switzerland. I’ve never been before.” She chuckled at his reply and searched his eyes for some display of emotion. His green crystals flitted in the fall wind and traversed the wood, failing to meet her glare. *** As darkness began to spread across the countryside, her body begged rest. She craved the lullaby of the train once more and was disappointed that her journey had come to a standstill. She was stuck in a middle ground of unknown land. She longed for either the familiarity of her homeland or the charm of a land she hoped she could learn to love. Her body craved the touch of rest, something it had only known on this excursion and within this Canfranc train. Her past life was one of constant upkeep. Her limbs were sore and weak from the sapping puppetry she chose to partake in. With no one to hold her up, she felt as if she could float away, left with all the taunting thoughts of the crimes she’d committed. As she gave in to the beckoning of dreams, she sang, I wish for you and you appear. You are here to be wild and feared. Free and magical and clear. *** The man in the navy blue suit smoked his last cigarette in the darkness of that foreign land. He threw it to the ground and put one perfect shoe to it. He reached into his breast pocket for the pistol that warmed against his side. The blunt edges had pressed close to him all day, reminding him of the journey that must be put to an end. Its blackness gleaned in the moonlit wood. He loaded it with a single bullet and wiped his forehead that dared to sweat in the ripe air. *** She awoke to the chilling of her temple against the
cold window and the relentless cry of a nearby infant. Its cry rang like those of six children, and she shuddered at the loss of air inside the small train car. She turned her head to look out the clear glass, hoping to find the yellow and orange trees mingling together once more. She wilted at the sight of yesterday’s trees still standing firmly. It occurred to her that she was not alone, and she turned her head to find the navy-clad man reading the newspaper again. He sipped his tea and ignored her evident staring. Just then, an attendant walked by to ask if she would like any breakfast. “Yes. Any news on the state of the journey?” “The conductor has an announcement to make at the 10 o’clock hour.” She sighed, and the reading man smirked, amused by her incessant nature. She glared at him. “What is it you find so funny, young man?” “Just that every person on this train lacks patience. Every time that poor fellow walks by, another passenger asks him what’s wrong with the train, and when we will be on our way again, and how long will it take.” “Well, some of us have places to be.” “And where exactly, Mrs. Goebbels, is it that you have to be?” At his sudden knowledge of her name, her pale face turned to that of a corpse. She stood to leave and he grabbed her wrist forcefully. Her breath caught in her throat at the pressure his one hand caused. The child behind them whimpered now. She sat down, unable to look at him and tried to swallow the lack of moisture in her mouth. “You must have me mistaken, sir. I am no Goebbels.” He shook his head at her weak attempt at words. She rubbed the imprint his grasp had left and looked at him in mock offense. She worried herself with the window, knowing full well that the conversation was not over. He said, “This will be your last tea, your last biscuit, and your last chance to tell me the truth. Do what you will with it.” She kept her eyes fixed on the unmoving trees and imagined them whizzing and whirling past at great speed. She leaned her cheek against the cold window once more, thankful for the contrast in temperature. Hot tears fell from her startled eyes. The navy man sat reading the newspaper once more. The words filled with so much fire it burned his eyes and left his palms scorched. When he closed his eyes, every syllable danced in his mind. Gas, poison, whimpering.
Short Story 69
Short Story 70
A rattling of pills and an eternal scream. And the fire, fire, fire they left behind. The attendant arrived, carrying the fateful tea and biscuit. She turned to grab the dainty cup and stared at its milky contents. She wished to drown in it, to die at her own hands, not his. A blissfully white death free from crimson or charcoal is what she hoped for. She brought the porcelain to her lips and sipped, frightened to find there was no cyanide. *** As she took the last bite, the both of them stood. The navy man took the newspaper with him. The attendant stopped them before they walked out, reminding them that the announcement was at 10. He nodded for the both of them. She trailed close behind him. Once outside the train, she looked around desperately for something to latch onto. He kept walking though, trusting her enough to follow him into the wood without having to be told to. She could not think of anything but to walk and see what that foreign land had produced for her. She felt the scream of a child inside her throat try to escape. She suffocated it with a swallow, like cotton in her mouth. He said nothing to her as they journeyed, giving her the privilege of self-pity and reflection. He granted her this chance to simply walk, to breathe the air and feel whatever there was to be felt in her soul. Maybe this was his way of letting her say goodbye to the foreign land her shivering body inhabited for that short time. Maybe he could not bear to bring up any words with which to speak to the pathetic creature that trailed behind. He was exhausted by this wood and by the bitterness that he reeked of. His fern-like eyes seeped into the ground and reached for its surroundings. He preyed on the trees that loomed overhead, their ashy voices calling to him in his heightened awareness of what would soon transpire. He felt like running and collapsing into the soil. He did not think of her then. He did not speak to her or look at her. He did not know if she was there anymore, could not hear her footfalls. But she was impatient and finally said, “Where are you taking me?” To which he did not reply. She was desperate for answers, something he did not feel she was worthy of. “What will you do to me?” He could not bring himself to respond. She whimpered like a child and sang to herself. I wish for you and you appear. You are here to be wild and feared. Free and magical and clear. His head shot
back and he stopped walking. She stepped up to the nearest tree and turned around as if she had rehearsed this during their march here. He pulled the pistol from his breast pocket and cocked it. Her figure shook in the patchy sunlight, and she whimpered and screamed the scream of millions of children. He approached her and put his hand on her shoulder; her body froze. She turned around and stared at the ground. He lifted her chin and pale blue eyes clashed with green. “Tell me, Miss. What is your name?” She felt a stirring in her soul like thunder and shame. The man with fern-colored eyes stood unwavering, an everlasting tree. The children who laughed now put to rest, she realized her journey was over and this was her homeland. She spoke it, and it was “Magda.” The calm knocked every tree in that forest down, only a fern remained.
Living Waters Review
Out of the Window, a Bat: A Dramatic Perusal of Material Death Megan Konynenbelt [They enter into an old stone hallway decorated in a modern style and walk to the dining room.]
Cast of Characters
HARRY, an elderly man and the grandfather of Gwendolyn. GWENDOLYN, a woman in her early thirties and the heir apparent of Croton House. JESSICA, a young maid at Croton House. FELIX, the exterminator and beloved pet of Harry. DIVERSE GROUPING OF CATS, either à la the hit musical, Cats, or a group of phenomenal feline thespians.
GWENDOLYN. This dining room looks brighter now—doesn’t it? I had Marco wash the remaining window panes. He said the middle one way up at the top is broken, so I had him order a new one. It should arrive later today. HARRY. Well, they certainly let in enough light for me to see there’s bread on the table. You taste it first, Gwen. GWENDOLYN. Don’t be a child. It was a raisin loaf Jessica served you—freshly made that day. No possibility for mold. HARRY. Don’t dance around the topic. Taste the bread.
Act I: Scene I
[Scene: An overgrown castle garden. Cats roam about, wandering from various dirty food bowls clustered on the gravel walkways. Two people sit at a rusted table: a young woman with dark hair and an old man.]
GWENDOLYN. Fine. It tastes fine. HARRY. Three slices, then. Be generous with the butter, we’re not peasants. You know, despite the mold, that last cook made better butter. GWENDOLYN. I didn’t fire the cook; the butter is the same. Delicious jam today, as well.
HARRY. Well, last night’s fire destroyed the Hansen wing—it was in a horrible style, anyway. Soon, there’ll be nothing left for you to inherit. [chuckling spitefully.] GWENDOLYN. At least wait for the smoldering to conclude before erasing portions of the Croton’s blueprint, grandfather. HARRY. Don’t tell me what to do—she’s my house. I’ll torch the rest and scatter the blueprints if I want. GWENDOLYN. Yes, she’s your house. But you’re not eternal. Unless you destroy the Croton, she’ll outlive you. She might even outlive me. Let’s not argue; your blood pressure will increase. Shall we go inside for lunch? HARRY. Fine. If you’ve let go of that cook who was serving me moldy breads. I cannot abide a moldy bread.
HARRY. I told her to get out of my house! What right do you have to keep on my employees against my expressed desires? You live here, but my resources are not at your discretion or disposal. [A cat walks by and rubs against Harry’s leg.] Hello, Felix. You know your place, good kitty. Yes. GWENDOLYN. He quite knows his place—bringing meals to you, the big cat who can’t hunt for himself. It’s a wonder that he’s in here with all this smoke. The others were practically having a garden party to avoid the stench. HARRY. Again, he knows his place. GWENDOLYN. Stuck inside a decaying house? If that’s his place, I should euthanize him now and end his agony.
[Felix hisses, and a bat flies into the dining room through the broken window pane.]
GWENDOLYN. Eck—a bat! Quick! Grab Felix before he hits it. HARRY. [ponderous, not taking the prescribed action.] Have I been reduced to a common cat-catcher? Is my only boast in preserving the life of a creature perfectly capable of defending himself ? Why shouldn’t Felix or this guest have the pleasure of the hunt? With you around, it could be Felix’s last chance to feel like a cat again.
GWENDOLYN. For heaven’s sake, Grandfather. [snatches the cat.] Quiet down, Felix. I’m not hurting you! [to Harry.] It could be diseased. HARRY. Bats can’t be diseased. Their fur rejects pathogens. Cleanest animals on earth, beside Felix here. Supposedly they can get rabies, but then again, what can’t get rabies? Soothing animals, they just have a bad reputation. GWENDOLYN. What, suddenly you’re the great bat enthusiast? You’ve never spoken of some great passion for zoology before. When a bat swoops in, suddenly you’re an expert on transmittable illness? Bats are rabid. Their natures allow easy transmission of diseases and bacteria. Stop this nonsense of “rejecting pathogens.” [pauses.] I will hold Felix until Jessica can get this creature out. HARRY. You know nothing of me—I lived fifty years before you decided to barge unannounced into this world. I have knowledge you could never imagine of the feeble old man you’ve built me to be. GWENDOLYN. I haven’t made you be anything except what you’ve shown me you are. You’re not a construct of my childhood boogeyman. I don’t even know who you think you are besides those deprecating commentaries on all facets of life that you share whether alone or in a group. HARRY. Perhaps you should’ve listened more closely to the stories I told you when your mother fell ill—if you
had listened, you would know I was a zoologist in America. I encountered bats everywhere, and in every environment: on the rafters of frozen barns, under thatched tropical rooves, misty city bridges, northern-most craggy caves. GWENDOLYN. Sure, you wandered northeastern caves. [The bat comes to a resting position underneath the mantle on the unlit fireplace.]
HARRY. I didn’t wander. I knew exactly where I was going. I had a purpose in studying bats. Bats lived here, in the attics of Croton house when I was a boy. Their wakening clicks lulled me into twilight trances—sleep! The only regret I have from that fire is the bats. GWENDOLYN. The only regret you have is the bats?! You don’t even know there were still bats living there! You haven’t been in that wing in a decade. HARRY. I go to the Hansen wing every week to speak to the only children who appreciate my visit. I’d have moved them into the main house, but they prefer dank atmospheres. GWENDOLYN. Don’t act like you weren’t happy about the destruction. Just outside you said— HARRY. You’re not going to incriminate me by quoting to me my own words. I laughed at the destruction of my legacy, this prison, not at the destruction of the precious lives of bats. I’m not inhuman. GWENDOLYN. Ouch, Felix! Don’t bite me. Get away from that bat, you dumb cat. [to Harry.] You know, you don’t have to keep telling me what you are or are not. You could just show me who you are, instead of being a stodgy koogle who claims the proverbial heart of gold. HARRY. “Koogle”? Who taught you to speak to your elders, a tree vermin? A louse?
Living Waters Review
GWENDOLYN. Well, I certainly wasn’t taught by you, grandfather.
[Jessica walks in carrying a tea tray.]
GWENDOLYN. Thank you, Jessica. The bread was delicious. Next time, bring the bread and tea at the same time. And right on the hour, dear. We pay for punctuality. JESSICA. Yes, ma’am. Can I bring anything else? GWENDOLYN. No, but you can shoo this bat out— HARRY. Don’t leave, girl, and don’t touch that bat. Have I told you of my time in America? I studied animals on their rebellious colonial prairies and their sandy shores. JESSICA. No, sir. Your son, though, once told me— HARRY. Anything he told you about this was surely a lie. That boy never understood my need to explore, but he came along with me despite it all. I primarily went to study the bats. Fascinating animals. Their wings were initially arms, you know. Little mountain climbers—still today they can use them either to climb or fly. Now I ask you, what other animal can flaunt such adaptations? JESSICA. You would certainly know this better than me, sir. GWENDOLYN. No, he wouldn’t. [to Harry.] Father wasn’t a liar. Just because you disagreed doesn’t mean he was lying. HARRY. The answer is NONE. No other animal is so adapted, so poised, so stealthy! The beating of their wings—like hummingbirds! They are the beauties of the nocturnal world.
HARRY. Indeed, they are. I brought one over with me, when I left America. Franklin, I called him. He had the softest nose and the most delightful caramel coloring—Franklin was a truly divine specimen. [holds out his fingers to indicate a size.] Would fit between these fingers, you know. GWENDOLYN. Jessica, you may go. Grandfather seems ready for a rest. HARRY. If you would like to rest, Gwen, you may leave. Jessica will stay and hear about Franklin’s trip across the sea with me. JESSICA. Yes, sir. I would love to hear this. My own mother thought bats were good omens. She never shooed them from our apartments when they’d come in through the chimney. GWENDOLYN. Since you’ve suggested it, I will go. [exits.] HARRY. Your mother was smart—bats are good omens to those who accept their companionship. Franklin was as good a companion as any. [takes a sip of tea.] JESSICA. [still standing with the empty tray.] Please tell me about him. Did he really travel with you across the ocean? HARRY. He did. He flew above the boat at night as our own albatross of guidance. The crew loved him. When I first found him, he was crippled on the ground of Moaning Cavern. Out in California, you know. Shocking really that he hadn’t drowned. He was just lying there on a raised-up section of rock. I remember thinking the ceiling looked like jellyfish petrified in the act of swooping down on Franklin. The other researchers thought I was foolish, that I should’ve used Franklin as a specimen. Have you ever noticed this house has no hunting trophies, Jessica? JESSICA. Yes, sir. Ma’am said they had been burned in a great fire many years back.
JESSICA. Of course, sir. They are truly magnificent. HARRY. That was a delightful day. This house will
never see another stuffed being, unless Gwen decides to keep me around. [laughs derisively.] Well, I picked up Franklin with my grandfather’s tartan handkerchief, tucked him into my shirt pocket—his little head poking out like a prairie dog—and that’s where I carried him until he was strong enough to fly. Only thing strange about him was he loved light—not very nocturnal, Franklin. Slept through the nights on a jewelry hanger next to my bed.
ropterans. I’ve often wondered if his love of light preserved him for so long.
[Harry and Jessica pause as a crash is heard upstairs.]
JESSICA. Oh my! What a loud crash! We must check on ma’am.
JESSICA. He loved the light? [both exit.]
HARRY. Yes. More tea please, dear. [Jessica rushes forward and fills his tea cup.] And sit down, yes. Sit down. [She sits, looking uncomfortable, across the table from him.] Franklin loved the light only after we moved back here. He flew alongside me all the way through my travels and stayed awake through the nights, too. Perhaps he rested too much after I first found him because he didn’t sleep a wink for two months after he could fly again.
Act I: Scene II
[Upstairs, inside Gwendolyn’s bedroom. Gwendolyn is screaming and thrashing in her sleep.]
JESSICA. Did your fellow travelers not mind his presence? HARRY. Some incorrectly—as we well know— [Jessica nods] view our dear Chiropterans as symbols of death or witchcraft. Our group of researchers nearly disbanded when I refused to release Franklin. They thought I was simply healing him, but we bonded during his recuperation. If I had sent him off, he would have followed me anyway. But they only minded him when we were on land. The sailors who took us back home had just finished a bad voyage somewhere in the north. Many were jaded and told me they sensed good fortune once I stepped on their ship. Amongst themselves, they called our berth HMS Il Pipistrello Benedetto. Rather a mouthful, but it seemed to please them. They were mostly Italians. JESSICA. And then Franklin lived here with you in this house? HARRY. Yes. He did. Franklin must have been just a baby when I found him because he lived with me for nearly forty years—double the lifespan of most species of Chi-
HARRY. Good Lord! Is she having a fit? I knew that bread wasn’t fit to be eaten! JESSICA. Sir, you had the bread yourself. We must try to wake her from this terror, or she may harm herself. HARRY. Here, throw this over her! [He hands Jessica a pitcher of water that had been sitting on the bedside table.] JESSICA. Aiyaaah! [tosses the water.] GWENDOLYN. [sputtering.] Bleck! [stirs.] Excuse me! What are you doing in my bedroom, cook! And you, grandfather? Absolutely no propriety— HARRY. You were screaming and destroying bits of the house. Earlier, it seemed important to you that the house remain intact, so we were spurred upward in a spirit of human decency. GWENDOLYN. I would’ve remembered if I had
Living Waters Review
been screaming, and there is no evidence to suggest anything was being destroyed as you say it was. Please leave. Apparently, I have to change my clothing now. [muttering.] First the fire, then that bat, now this— HARRY. The bat has nothing to do with this and should not be listed amongst the things that have gone wrong today. He is in the dining room as we speak, relaxing by the fire. [to Jessica.] Get Fernand to light the fire—our guest must be getting chilly by now, as the sun is finally retiring for the evening.
GWENDOLYN. And you wonder why I am this way? When your wife and son—my father!—did not supply you with the happiest times? That you could love a bat more than the people around you? You expect me to be kind and doting and not long to inherit when you care more for your companionship with a bat than for the health of everyone in this house?! HARRY. I care as much for them as they do for me. GWENDOLYN. You’re impossible!
JESSICA. Yes, sir. [exits.] [A loud crash sounds from a few rooms away.] GWENDOLYN. That thing is still downstairs?! You senile old koogle! Must our entire home be fumigated for such vermin due to your delusional sympathies?! HARRY. Calm yourself. He’s only resting until nightfall. I’m sure he’ll be leaving us soon. GWENDOLYN. The bat is not a plaything or pet! We have to get it out of here before we’re all infected. HARRY. Or you could just get out and let us be. GWENDOLYN. Harry! I mean, Grandfather. This is my home, too.
Play GWENDOLYN. Good. That terrible kitchen maid is finally shooing the bat. She’s making quite the racket doing so, though— [gets up, wrapping herself decorously in a soft wool blanket.] [calls down the hall.] JESSICA! DID YOU REMOVE THE BAT? HARRY. We should see what that girl is doing. With that much noise, she could be knocking the Croton down to her long-due grave. GWENDOLYN. Don’t joke like that, grandfather.
HARRY. What you don’t seem to realize in your mania for getting your inheritance is that this is my home. It is your home, but not your home only. I can choose to keep a bat, and you can choose to live with it because it makes me happy. GWENDOLYN. You don’t need to be happy if the only source of your happiness could kill us.
[They walk into the hallway, where billows of smoke emerge from the Hansen wing’s remains.]
GWENDOLYN. Good heavens! The fire’s started again! HARRY. Quick! Get downstairs!
HARRY. I lived with a bat for forty years and survived to tell the tale. [They run to the stairs.] GWENDOLYN. You were lucky. HARRY. Those were the luckiest years of my life.
GWENDOLYN. Oh no! The cracking was from the fire! It’s all downstairs, and the stairs themselves are falling!
HARRY. We’re better off finding a window—otherwise, we’re likely to be buried in splintering steps. GWENDOLYN. A WINDOW? Do you have any idea how high we are right now? We’d as likely die from that distance as we would from being burned alive! HARRY. Well, I’m going out the window. Stay here, if you must.
JESSICA. [panting.] SIR! What’s happened?! HARRY. Oh, Gwen. The fire! We had to take the window, the fire was spreading everywhere! JESSICA. Oh, Harry. Come away from there. You know you’re not meant to be out of your bed. Come sit by the fire and tell me about Franklin. You always love to tell stories of your adventures with him.
GWENDOLYN. I’m not staying here!
HARRY. I’M NOT REMAINING TO BE BURNT ALIVE BECAUSE YOU ARE INDECISIVE AND WORRIED ABOUT BREAKING A FEW BONES! GWENDOLYN. Fine! There’s a window with a ledge beneath it in the red room. Let’s use that one.
HARRY. But Gwen! We can’t leave her body there, she needs help! And we can’t go inside the house to sit by the fire when there’s a fire! JESSICA. Harry, sir, we’re not outside. Come back to your room and we can sit by the fire. You’re just a little confused, but some tea will help. HARRY. Where am I? Where’d Gwen’s body go?
HARRY. [Reaches for the handle of the red room.] Ouch! The red room’s on fire, too! We just need any window at this point, Gwen! GWENDOLYN. Down here! [At the end of the hall, there’s a broken window.] We can jump through this one! You first! HARRY. [prepares to exit the window.] I’ll catch you! [jumps. lands safely.] JUMP DOWN TO ME, GWEN!
[The room easily converts into a single apartment inside an assisted living home.]
JESSICA. It’s okay, Harry. Gwen hasn’t been around for a while, but she said she’d be here on Monday. I told her that it’s harder for you to remember when she’s away for so long, and I’ll let her know how much you’ve missed her.
GWENDOLYN. I CAN’T! IT’S TOO FAR! [Settling in by the fire, the pair sips on fresh cups of tea.] HARRY. JUST JUMP, YOU SILLY GIRL!
[Gwen jumps from a horrible angle and lands on her neck. She is obviously mangled past repair.]
HARRY. GWEN! NO! [howls.]
JESSICA. When Gwen called earlier, she said she was planning to be here a few days early for Christmas. Isn’t that sweet? Hopefully her train isn’t delayed this year. You were so disappointed last year. HARRY. What’s that? Yes. Yes, I suppose I was disappointed. This bread is good. Did you make it? Are these raisins?
[Jessica rushes from off stage upon hearing the howling.]
Living Waters Review
JESSICA. [insistently continues the conversation.] She said she didn’t want you to be alone for it this year. HARRY. That’s kind of her, but Franklin will be here if she misses the train again. He’s such a punctual lad. Always on time to have adventures or holidays with his father. JESSICA. Harry, you know this. Franklin— HARRY. Don’t tell me. [stares down into his teacup.] Please don’t tell me that again.
First Experience With Loneliness Eden Prime the flow of coffee in our home. I did not yet know what loneliness was, and I did not fear it. I do not think I feared anything, except for maybe sturgeon, but that was from a bad dream after too much sugar and imagination at the zoo one day.
Creative Essay 78
hen I was six my dad and I went up a mountain in a jeep to visit an old lady. She opened her knotted pine door to us, filling the space with toothless welcome. Her home was small, sparse, and filled with an abundant family. Her grandchildren swarmed me, touched my blonde curls. I sat next to my dad on the floor-cushions around the tiny living space while the old lady served tea first, then rich, black, foaming coffee in tiny cups. I thought the cups were silly in my dad’s rough, stocky fingers. They were just the right size for my American Girl doll back home. I was not allowed to drink the coffee, but I had the tea with its copious accompaniment of sugar cubes, so perfect and white before they dissolved and swirled into a tornado of liquid energy in the goddess-shaped glass. I learned to put my spoon on top facing up to say “one more, please,” and facing down to mean, “I’m done” (the latter only when I was told to). Later, the swarming grandchildren showed me how to spit at semi-feral cats from the balcony. At that age, I did not understand why this old lady had so many kids in her house, or why her toilet was a porcelain hole with foot pads on either side. All I cared for was the tea and spitting at cats. On the way back down the mountain, my dad said he had a headache. Too much caffeine. But I was on fire, and so was every evergreen branch that flashed past the jeep— on fire with life, with curiosity, with undefeat. I pressed my little soles against my dad’s leg and stretched out on the bench seat. His presence was constant and warm, like
The first time I flew on my own I was sixteen. I arrived at the gate in Atlanta fifteen minutes before departure. With a pounding chest and anxious tears in my eyes, I scanned my pass and found my seat between two nice old men. I was too excited to read the book I brought. Instead, I thought about all the times I had flown before. I could not count them, some of them I did not even remember distinctly, but I knew they had happened because of the memories of where they took me. Flying had been a routine part of my life, mostly international, but occasionally domestic. I had never been anywhere far away from home without my parents. In fact, they always reminded me about this when I complained about not having siblings. “We couldn’t take you to all these places if you had a little brother,” they said. I was not sure which I wanted more: the adventures or someone to live them with, and I never understood why the two could not coexist. I was not ready to realize that parents can double as best friends. When I was nine, we went back to the mountain. This time, both of my parents went up with backpacks and no jeep. Just the two of them and six college students. My adventure was staying at home with my grandparents for four days. I thought this would be fun until the nightly spatter of distant gunfire down by the river woke me up. I began to cry, not because I was afraid, but because—for the first time in my life, I realized—I was alone. The presence of my parents was a hundred or more miles away. They were somewhere, watching the brightest stars from the bed of a ceaseless alpine bowl, green with glacial springs, clambering rocks and aquamarine lakes… teaching people older than me about the strength of life. And I was me: lonely, singular, and under the watch of more distant parents; in the flatlands by a river that separated hate from hate, while they reached for the heights of mountains, barely visible from my window. All I knew was that I did not want to be without them.
Living Waters Review
The End Marley Kimmit
At Which Point We All Said Amen Megan Konynenbelt
My brothers and I exhale with the first one who breathed cold mountain air fresher than pearls in the arctic seas appeal to me with cloudy plumes of polluted stream screams we’ll never unhear suddenly forgiven in the east salmon give thanks jumping north to
heaven’s poles-fish out of earth, nomagnetized beacons of heartland jigs and pining hopeful underpinnings in the west the Claddagh twisted for centuries and kilometers away but we remain until the final exhale at the funeral when the bagpipe trembles and the power flickers in a terrible crack and salmon whisper of that light which never flickers even after the chanter and the drone empty in the earth’s first breath of retrieval called the Gaelic revival of the effervescent body everlasting.
Living Waters Review
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