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Issue 01: Color June 2017


Front Cover:

Elebearuckaffe m.ay.be


Issue 01: Color June 2017 cheeky [chee-kee] adjective 1. impertinently bold, often in a way that is regarded as endearing or amusing

Welcome to the very first issue of Real, Cheeky! Real, Cheeky brings you artistic content that is fun, raw, and honest. Photos, drawings, poems, short stories, and more, to delight your eyes and stir your emotions. Rainbows, smoke, skin tone, light... We can interpret "color" many different ways. I hope you enjoy the interpretations of the writers and artists that are presented in this issue. Enjoy!

Randie Pospical Editor & Publisher

Be sure to check out our website for additional content and information about Real, Cheeky! You can also email us with any comments, questions, or ideas for future issues.

realcheekyzine.com

realcheekyzine@gmail.com 1


Bath Time in the Streets of Cuba Seneca Montgomery

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Contents Elebearuckaffe m.ay.be

Milsons Point Iurie Belegurschi

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2

Beautiful Light Nadine McGrath

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4

Secrets Becky Delaney Baize

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5

White Arrow Doc Baize

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Bushfire Sky Daniel McCutcheon

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Marina m.ay.be

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My Heart Randie Lynne Pospical

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Chipping Sparrow Eggs in Nest Jeanne Ahlers

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The Light is Never Just White Leah Hudson

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Going Blue Todd Reynolds

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Front Cover

Bath Time in the Streets of Cuba Seneca Montgomery The Call of the Rainbow Srinitya Duvvuri Powerpoles David Eaton

Smoke and Mirrors Jeanne Ahlers Burning Wishes Todd Reynolds Violet

Stevie Ann Papenthien

The Spider Victoria Graham

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Zipper

Stevie Ann Papenthien

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11

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Srinitya Duvvuri

The Call of the Rainbow 4

The first time I drew a rainbow I was 7 years old. I drew the lines firmly and tried my best to colour within the linesred, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet. My fingers clumsily slipped across the page and the colours poked out of their lanes I didn't see anything wrong with it a lot of people saw sin in it. The first time I saw a rainbow it was a faint sliver against the blue sky with none of the grand vivid colours I'd imagined I barely saw three of seven colours I'd memorized and none of the lines I was taught to draw All the colours ran into each other I could hardly tell them apart Maybe they knew they were meant to be a single ribbon A symbol of the unity in diversity we failed to practice The first time I heard the word gay, it was an insult used for a man who wasn't "manly" enough and all I thought was "but isn't he still a man?" No one told me what it really meant. The first time I heard the phrase "love is love" it was on television in 2015 and I remember being excited that the word gay would no longer mean "lesser rights" in America (even if some people said "that's disgusting") (even if my own country refused to legalize it) The next time I saw a rainbow it was next to a headline that said "Lucknow's first pride parade" and I smiled to myself Laws are made by people elected by the people but laws are also defied by the people who elected lawmakers The first time I saw a rainbow and associated it with the word "identity" I saw the colours swirling in my reflection like mist swirling in an orb trying to give me answers it didn't have to questions I didn't know to ask But I took comfort in knowing that seven year old me probably knew what sixteen year old me knew now: the colours of the rainbow were never meant to be within the lines.


Powerpoles David Eaton

5


6

Randie Lynne Pospical

My Heart

Daniel McCutcheon

Bushfire Sky


Smoke and Mirrors Jeanne Ahlers

It all started with the smoke detector. The stupid thing kept buzzing. I pressed the button and it shrieked at me. The buzzing stopped, and I continued putting together the new recipe I was making for my dinner. Within two minutes, the buzzing started again. I took the battery out of the smoke detector. I walked through my apartment; nothing was smoking, there was nothing. I opened my door to the hallway, nothing out there either. Apparently the battery was going dead. I scouted through my drawer in the kitchen with all the odds and ends, I had every battery except the rectangular one I needed. One more thing for the grocery list, I left the battery out of the detector. I reread the recipe and opened the cupboard to grab the can of cream of mushroom soup I had bought for the recipe. I searched through the cans and didn’t find it. Puzzled, I went through the other cupboards and drawers. I looked in the closet by my front door and even in the refrigerator. It was nowhere to be found. I thought I was going crazy. I bought a can of soup for this recipe and it wasn’t here. I live alone, there’s no one else to eat the soup, unless my cat somehow managed to figure out the can opener. I opened the cupboard again and checked, the cans of tuna were all intact, so it couldn’t be the cat. I decided to make a quick trip to the corner store to get a battery and another can of soup. As soon as I buy another, it will turn up in a crazy spot, I just know it. That’s how my life works. I grabbed my jacket and my purse, and headed down to the parking lot to my car.

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I pulled the keys out of my purse and hit the lock opener, and slid into the driver’s seat. I drove the few blocks to the store and pulled into the parking lot. I always lock my car, even if I’m going in for just a couple minutes. In this neighborhood, you just don’t take chances. I walked into the store to hear a woman yell, “I have a gun, give me the money!” My first instinct was to run, but the bells on the door gave me away and she whirled around and pointed the gun at me. “Get down on the ground!” I couldn’t move. Our eyes met and locked. Her eyes grew wide and her mouth opened. Mine did the same. It was me! We were wearing the same black clothes, the same shoes, had the same haircut. She was a mirror image of me. I was frozen in my spot. She turned and looked at the clerk, who also was frozen, eyes wide and mouth open. She took off running out the door like a wild cat. The clerk had already hit the panic button and we could hear the police sirens in the distance. “Do you have a twin sister?” he asked in an accented voice. “No, I don’t. I don’t think.” I muttered and kept watching the door to see if she, if I, reappeared. The police took both our statements and took my contact information. They were very casual about my twin saying that in times of great stress people make mistakes like that. But I knew better. She looked just like me; it was the freakiest thing I have ever experienced in my life. I forgot all about the soup and the 7


battery when I went home. As it turned out, I really didn’t need the battery anyway, or the soup for that matter. The sirens were going off as I drove back to my apartment building. It was on fire. Great. I remembered the battery at that moment. I had to sneak into the parking lot, as the police had started turning people away right after I got back. But I had come through the other side and parked a ways away from the fire trucks. I sat and waited as the fire department put out the blaze. The Salvation Army showed up and offered to help all the residents find places to stay for the night. All I could think about was my cat, and how much I hoped she had made it. I got out of my car after the fire had been extinguished and walked over to talk to the police officer that was blocking the path. He said it looked like arson. I bit my tongue. Do I tell him about my detector going off? Why? So I can tell him I took the battery out? But I did go right to the store to buy a new battery, well, once I realized I didn’t have soup. And then I foiled an armed robbery by my newfound twin sister. Do I have an evil twin? Ok, I just need to stop thinking. Later that evening the cat did appear. I had sat in my car waiting, with nowhere else to go. I could afford my own hotel room, not that I had any clothes or anything else to bring with me. But something told me to stay, and that premonition proved true. Ms. Monster came trudging through the wet ashes, the sludge of gunk running in the parking lot sticking to her fur. I practically leapt from my car and yelled for her, grinning ear to ear with joy. “Is that your cat ma’am?” The officer asked as I picked her up and proceeded to wipe the stains from her fur. “Yes, she is, I’m so glad she’s alright!” Ms. Monster purred and nuzzled her face into my neck. I held her up to examine her, and

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there were no burn marks, no burnt fur, and no injuries I could see. I got back into my car with the cat and pulled out of the parking lot. No one would be allowed into the building until the fire chief said so, so I decided to try to find a hotel that would take cats. I Googled “pet friendly hotels” on my phone in the Target parking lot. Luckily there were several on this side of town. I had to leave Monster in the car, but she was used to that. I went in and bought a few essentials, a change of clothes, pajamas, toiletries, and some cat food, two bowls, a cat carrier, and a new kitty bed. She’d never used it anyway since she slept on the bed with me, but I felt the need to buy it. I grabbed a few snack items since my dinner was burned, not by me at least. I giggled at this thought. I don’t know why, but I couldn’t quit giggling. I also picked a new copy of the book I had been reading, hoping I’d be able to figure out which page I was on. Once checked into the hotel and showered and changed, I called my mom to let her know I was OK, just in case she watched the news for once in her life. She didn’t answer when I called, so I left a message. She was probably sound asleep I realized, after I looked at the clock and discovered it was almost midnight. Ms. Monster was curled up on the bed, licking herself clean. She hissed in my direction. “Hey Missy,” I scowled at her, “Don’t forget who waited for you and paid for this nice hotel room.” I laid down on the bed and fell asleep quickly. I woke up in the morning feeling drowsy and unsettled. Then I remembered everything that had happened, and realized I was in the hotel room. Ms. Monster was on the foot of the bed, staring at the mirror on the wall. She must be able to see herself, silly cat. Sometimes she would hiss at the mirrors in my


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apartment too. Maybe she’s not happy with her body, or her hair, or who knows what. I got up, made some complimentary coffee in a tiny complimentary coffee pot and drank it out of a Styrofoam cup. My cell phone rang shortly after. It was the police department and they wanted me to come down to the station.

I got ready real fast and Ms. Monster and I drove to the station. I didn’t check out of the hotel though, because I just wasn’t sure what was going on. Once there, a polite lady ushered me into a small interrogation room and introduced me to Lieutenant Dan. All I could think about was Forrest Gump. Lieutenant Dan! You got new legs! I sat down

Burning WIshes

Todd Reynolds Photography

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as asked, and then it got a little crazy. Lieutenant Dan wanted to know why I set my apartment building on fire. They had it on surveillance camera. He played the footage. It really looked like me, I won’t lie. I would have thought it was me if I wasn’t me. But I knew better, I was me and I knew what I had been doing, and I knew that really, it was her. It had to be. I explained the story of the robbery before the fire, and he listened to my story like I was the most boring person on the planet. “So you’re telling me that you stopped yourself from robbing the store while you were setting the apartment building on fire?” “No, it wasn’t me, but it was someone who looks just like me. I was just as startled as anyone.” He left the room and I sat there for about ten minutes. I tried the door, but it was locked from the outside. No one had read me my rights, and I hadn’t been arrested. But it was cool outside and I knew my cat would be fine in the car for a while. I pulled my book out of my bag and started skimming to try to figure out where I left off. It’s my trick for never having to wait. As long as I have a book with me, I never have to wait for any appointment or anything. The lieutenant came back in and sat down. He looked at me with a long stare. “I talked to the officer who responded to the robbery last night. He has gone over the video footage from the store’s cameras, and it seems he was actually talking to you at the time that the fire was started according to the timestamps on both videos. I don’t know what’s going on here, but I don’t want you to go too far away. I may need to talk to you again.” I thanked him, for what I don’t know, and left the station. Ms. Monster was sleeping on my seat when I opened the door. She yawned and I picked her up so I could sit

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down. She sat on my lap and I petted her, scratching behind the ears, just like she likes. My phone rang, it was Mom. She wanted me to come stay with her instead of the hotel and I thought about it. But I like being independent, and staying with mom is just too, well, codependent. But since I had her on the phone I asked her if there was any possibility that I had a twin sister. She paused, and very seriously said, “No honey, you don’t. I would know if you did, don’t you think?” Then she laughed and asked about Ms. Monster. We went through the drive in on the way back to the hotel and ordered some junk. I always crave junk when I feel stressed, and I was getting more stressed as the day wore on. I know I had every reason, but yet, I wasn’t really feeling the reality of the situation yet. I half expected to wake up and realize it was all a dream. We went back to the hotel room and I spread my feast on the little desk. The cat kept hissing at the mirror, so I picked her up and walked over to it. I laughed and touched her nose to her mirror image’s nose. “See silly cat? It’s just you.” I put her on the bed and I sat on the chair. I unwrapped a sandwich and pulled out some of the meat for the cat. I just put it right on the bedspread; it’s the hotel’s anyway, right? It’s not like I have to wash it. Ms. Monster ate the meat and then started hissing at the mirror again, this time with the loud growling noise. “Good grief cat!” I picked her up again, and we walked back to the mirror. I held her up to the mirror again, but this time she clawed my arm and jumped down, tearing across the room. I watched her fly into the bathroom. I heard a noise behind me. I turned and looked, and there on the floor by the wall, right under the mirror, was a can of cream of mushroom soup.


Violet

Stevie Ann Papenthien

Kings drape themselves with royalty Mysterious, rich Velvet night thick with density. A softer side; The kiss of a petal across one's cheek, Floral pirouettes of scent. Higher frequencies upon an aura, Buzzing into Elsewhere. Wild and gentle The perfect contradiction Setting sun Rising moon.

The Spider

Victoria Graham 11


Milsons Point

Iurie Belegurschi Photography

12


Beautiful Light Nadine McGrath

We do not often see Our incredible beauty We think we are matter Drifting endlessly In the void of the universe Alone and afraid Unable to face each day Yet we are the sun Shining a light for some Against the backdrop of chaos Surrounded by other suns Creating a milky way of wonder A kaleidoscope of colour We shine so bright Against the devouring night

"You're ripped at every edge, but you're a masterpiece And now I'm tearing through the pages and the ink" Colors, Halsey

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Secrets

Becky Delaney Baize

Somewhere in the midst of an afternoon squall there is a voice, though simple and small, that calls me to my windowpane, and drop by drop, like talking rain, tells me a story in gentle whispers of secrets known only to angels and sisters. While watching through my window glass the clouds begin to part and pass, and the skies that seemed so gray and weighted broke apart, then celebrated. And there within my picture frame a sherbet bridge of colors came in hues translucent from the storm, in streams of magic uniform, a fountain spewing every shade, a drench of swirling strands it made. In wonder down the vibrant string, an angel’s voice came caroling. Then as if only a moment’s ornament, that lovely apparition sent, whose adorning smile on a perfect face, whose winged form of airy grace, paused in the christened sky to pray. “Thank you, Lord, for the rain today, as it quenches a thirst and soothes the eye and lets the dreams and the dreamers fly, causes brooks to laugh, wrinkles the sea, gladdens the garden and the sycamore tree.” The angel’s voice and the rain tapping clear serenaded the poet’s ear. At the precious place where wings and angels part, the sounds became beats of a tiny heart. From that most perfect gleam in a mother’s eye to the soft, sweet breath of a baby’s sigh, so faintly they echo, the lullabies low 14

and the secrets that angels and sisters know. Through many changes and masquerades, a sister in colors of various shades began barely a hue as if waking at dawn, hardly a pink, then, with each tint she put on she would dance to raindrop music notes in her ribboned bonnets and petticoats. The blush of her cheeks, like buds of a rose were waiting to burst full-bloom, I suppose. As she waltzed she sang sometimes to those familiar words of nursery rhymes. Her alphabet was the brightest red and her cinnamon men were gingerbread. Through every age the scenes arise in those transparent colors in the skies and fragments of songs that nobody sings, an infant’s prayer, and a child without wings. The tiny lass with the scarlet smile performed on my stage for quite a while. As she played in her fancy princess gown, the child who had worn the angel’s crown, acted her dreams, believed in prayers in those ruby slippers Dorothy wears. And her wishes on that lonely star showed me all the colors that sisters are. But drip by drip those raindrops seem like language uttered in a dream, and her fame fell in droplets on the stage farewell the child of innocent age, chapter ended, turned the page. As the colors rolled over from crimson to peach, she dug in her toes in the sand at the beach and built her own version of Camelot under skies of warmest apricot. But the footprints left there, side by side,


have since been swept away by tide, and the bugle notes have gone away, gone the scenes of children’s play. Sad the charm of youth should disappear into other shades. Oh, angel dear. Though, while the sun still orange and fiery, she wrote secrets in her diary. Cards and kisses, bows and arrows, sent them flying on wings of sparrows, she wrote sonnet words and lines of prose, yearned for love in all of those. And strangers passed by unaware of the secrets angels and sisters share. Still harnessed in the color streams, more golden shades of blushing beams fell like honey from the skies and all that glitters magnifies. Love’s true passion shone like brass so brightly through my window glass. Poise and etiquette, groom and bride, until the dreams and the dreamers lied. He gave bouquets of plastic rose, whose flawless blossoms never close, and tarnished the wedding to shades of jade and caused her emerald eyes to fade. Now worn the angel’s smiling face, torn the dreams and the marriage lace. Broken vows and pieces of rings, a flute without wind and a harp without strings. No plumage to caress her by for the child’s forgotten how to fly. A sister bluer, turning colder, she carried woeful burdens on her shoulder, the sapphire droplets falling still

forming puddles on my window sill. Grown so weary of days and hours, gone her desires, gone dreams and powers. Listen to the angels and sisters cry, why do the dreams and the dreamers die? For only children divided know the deeper shades of indigo, and velvet royal purple plush. Lullaby, sweet sister, hush. There is one true color, most brilliant yet, a ray of sparkling violet, a perfect shade, my dear Jeannette. There’s a place where wings and angels meet when sisters close their eyes to sleep, and angel’s voices rise in praise, and rainbow colors turn to a peaceful haze. That story beyond my window pane had welcomed an angel home again when the voice became silent at story’s end, and I realized I wasn’t looking out… but in.

"I see your true colors And that's why I love you"

True Colors, Cyndi Lauper 15


Doc Baize

White Arrow 16

You say that I am not one of you but one of them You make this statement based solely on the color of my skin You do not know me, yet you judge me You deny me my heritage, my life, my past For I am white, and I am Indian You accuse me of not knowing your ways You blame me for the evils portrayed It was my blood that was spilled by the early cavalry It was my people who were raped by the cattlemen Yet it was also my people who were butchered by the raids It was my people who were tortured for their dream of a better land For I am white, and I am Indian My heritage is unknown by one and despised by the other To one I am superstitious, to the other I “Do not understand the ways” But, it is both of you who do not understand My native brothers forget being Indian is a color of the heart, not of skin My white brothers forget about that special beauty of one’s origin I merely seek acceptance to be Acceptance to remain For I am white, and I am Indian I do understand the meaning perhaps more clearly than my brothers I understand that pride and roots come from within It is not a garb, nor birth, nor name which makes one true to their ancestors It is a heart, it is the bone and marrow It is within you It is a pride For I am white, and I am Indian


Marina m.ay.be

17


18

Jeanne Ahlers

Chipping Sparrow Eggs in Nest


The Light is Never Just White Leah Hudson

"Jay." Beth - his wife, now! - worms her fingers into his jeans pocket, and he feels a swell of affection at the chilly intrusion. She hates gloves, hates the way they blunt her interface with the world. Her long woolen dress is white, whipping under her denim jacket in the stiff wind, so pale in the glow of the antique street lamps that he's dazzled, for a moment. "Let's run!" Bemused, he glances at the top of her windblown head. "Why?" "Because we can't get enough lift without a running start." * * * He is numb. Sensation stopped halfway through the ominous phone call; the phone slipped from his fingers and cracked against the edge of his desk while he tried to remember how to make his body respond. He doesn't remember what sounds he made in response to the officer. He feels nothing through the scramble to pack, the frenetic cab ride to the airport, the cattle call of boarding. He is on autopilot for six hours. It is well after visiting hours when he arrives in Miami, but the ICU nurse allows him back anyway. The first thing that sticks with him is all the red. Burst blood vessels stain the white of her right

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eye, revealed when her lid spasmodically flutters open against the sedation. The left is swollen entirely shut, shiny, like an angry clenched fist. Petechiae bloom like bloody freckles over every inch of exposed skin from neck to ear. Her throat is ringed by a ridged welt where something - he swallows convulsively - had been tightly tied. Her knuckles are torn and raw, manicured nails broken and jagged and sometimes entirely gone. Her left pinky finger is wide as a sausage. The doctor's hushed briefing scrolls through his mind. Traumatic brain injury. Coma. Gang rape. Ruptured spleen. Skull fractures, mostly to her face. Both eye sockets will need surgical reconstruction. Her jaw is wired shut. Her head is shaved and jagged lines of stitches crisscross it. The IV hangs heavy, blood sluggishly transfusing into her limp arm. Jay sways a little where he stands, crimson static creeping over the edges of his vision. The little heart on the vital monitor beeps. Beth's mother does not return his calls. * * * They've been married for three months and Beth gets a job offer. She squeals, jumps on the couch, waving her phone. Jay runs into the room with a dish towel, floured to the elbow. Beth leaps at him, and he drops the towel a shade too late to catch her. They tumble to the floor, laughter and concern mingling in the chaos, until she comes 19


to rest perched triumphantly atop him, waving the screen in his face. "They agreed to run my column! And pay me money!" Jay puts the steak back to marinate in the fridge and they run down the block for celebratory sushi. The chef at the bar quirks a brow, and Jay bursts out laughing. Two large smudges of flour smear the back of her shirt. Jay is so proud of her. * * * Her hospital room is a sea of green. A path has been laid out to the seating at the bedside, and he can hear two feminine voices chattering before he sets eyes on them. "Is that an actual ficus?" Her sister smiles at him - precisely enough to be considered polite, not one millimeter wider - and gestures at the wall of flora. "Apparently the other newspaper employees make more money than she does." He hates the disapproving tone to her voice. He tries to defuse the conversation before it devolves. To not engage, like Beth had always asked him. "She volunteers at the museum, too. A lot of people love her." He settles into a chair, hating how Beth shrinks away, curls into Mina's side like he's a stranger. "Hi, Beth." She responds with a quiet, grunted greeting. "Bethie brushed her own hair today." Mina's voice sets his teeth on edge. He tries, as he has done every day for the last year, not to

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hate her; for pressuring Beth to dump him until they defiantly eloped; for being patronizing in general and in particular; for having a destination wedding in Florida, of all places, for asking Beth not to bring him, for letting Beth get separated from the group... He fails, as he has done every day for the last year. "Regression;" the doctor tells him, later, in the office. "She is healing, and the surgeries have helped, as has the occupational therapy. However... her mind. She's still at the emotional level of a small child. I had hoped for more progress at this point." Jay tries to absorb this. "What does that mean?" "It means that she probably remembers most of her life, people, places. Events. She remembers you're married, right?" "Yes." Jay shifts in his chair, upset. "But she's afraid of me." "That is due to the night terrors, I'm afraid. We cannot have male nurses at night, either. Her regression seems more severe when it's dark." He heaves a heavy sigh. "Unfortunately. Unfortunately, Jay. While time may smooth over some of the gaps in her cognition... it's unlikely she'll ever fully recover her old personality. The brain injury was just too traumatic." Jay's knuckles tighten on the arms of the chair until the leather creaks; the soothing pale pea soup paint on the walls swims in his vision, and he feels gorge rising. "So she'll be this way forever?"


"There's no way to know." * * * He loves watching Beth write. True, she doesn't have much attention to spare for him when a project is due, but the rapid, muted susurrus of her typing is soothing. The white glow of the computer screen casts a halo on her. They're both night owls; he codes computer apps, and she writes columns and essays and poetry and freelance copy and he's pretty sure some Supernatural fanfiction, from what he'd glimpsed over her shoulder. She's just so intent, so very natural, with her legs tucked under her in a horrible posture, hair escaping the ludicrously large alligator clip - she looks like she's always been there, like she grew out of light and thought, as though life evolved just to provide Beth the technology to spread her ideas far and wide. She is a modern muse, a backlit beauty, and somehow he finds himself always in awe. The next day he places his desk at an angle from hers where he cannot stare at her so easily and miss another deadline. * * * Jay has started having panic attacks when he smells antiseptic and plastic tape. They're infrequent, as of yet, and mostly manageable, but he has taken to carrying about the bottle of benzos in his pocket for an emergency. It's been nearly two years. Two years, six surgeries, one hundred eighty-three physical therapy sessions, one cat scan a month, and Beth shows no sign of regaining her sense of self. She's healing, sure. She speaks with a lisp, and now sleeps with the ratty stuffed rabbit

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Mina retrieved from their father's storage unit. She insists on sleeping with the lights on, cannot be left alone, and will tolerate the proximity of no man after dark. Mina is not here, now. The lawyers discouraged it, so Jay has a matronly courtappointed minder, both to set Beth at ease and ensure he does not abuse his wife. Jay grips the bottle of benzos tighter. He and Beth chat and laugh. She is still good at Family Feud, some of her answers a little racy, as always. She sometimes casts him a glance or pats his knee in a way that's too adult, too familiar, and Jay gently diverts her before she can scare herself. She tells stories of the escapades of her friends who file in to visit on a regular schedule. She doodles in the sketchbook he's brought her. Today she has the IV, and he hates the IV. It must hold a whole gallon of the sickly, clouded yellow fluid the nurses tell him contains the entire cocktail necessary to support life. It means she's not eating again, and she won't tolerate the feeding tube without sedation, so they can usually make do with the IV for a day or two until she can be coaxed back into the rhythms of life. She makes him hold her hand while they watch TV. Most of her face bears ugly yellow bruising from the latest surgery. He hates the bright, brave, watery smile that is especially for him. Mina, as Beth's court-appointed guardian, has sued for divorce. 21


"I never watch the stars There's so much down here So I just try to keep up with them" Yellow Flicker Beat, Lorde

Going Blue

Todd Reynolds Photography

22


* * * Beth kicks her feet happily, wriggling to and fro on the edge of the bridge they've perched on. The river gurgles quietly below, and the weather is perfect, warm but with just a hint of breeze. It's their first anniversary and they have hiked up an idyllic trail to picnic in a mountain meadow. The sun is setting. Her hair is bleached white, stark against the sky. She shushes him gently. "Look, Jay! It's the blue hour." "Huh?" He takes her hand, knowing the explanation will baffle and amuse. "In late spring or early summer, once the haze has all warmed out of the air. When the sun has just sunk down and there are no clouds at all, and the sky is this uniform, medium blue. It stays that way for almost an hour." She hugs the railing, head tilted back, smiling in a small, deeply contented way. "The opposite of the witching hour. It's the hour it's easiest to fly. No sun in your eyes, no stars to get in your way." Jay grins, nudging his shoulder into hers. "I'm no good at flying." "Well, have you ever tried?" He falls silent, contemplative. It's the kind of moment where the world holds its breath; everything is blue and he thinks he could do just about anything with this person beside him, believing. * * * It is two days after his fourth wedding anniversary and he has just lost custody of his

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wife. The judge grants the divorce, on the grounds of spousal incompetence. Beth pats Jay's cheek, afterward, and says clearly, sadly, that she wants to live with Mina. She is worried about him, but above all, afraid. "I'm scared I can't be a wife anymore,� she whispers, hoarse from crying and, he suspects, from the feeding tube. Her hair is beginning to grow out from its tight shear, several shades darker than before. Jay can't seem to draw a full breath. Jay holds her hand for a long few moments. She pets his cheek, gives his knuckles a squeeze, and then moves to Mina's side. She waggles her fingers as she's ushered into the cab. He stands, bereft, on the sidewalk. He stands there for a long time, until security starts becoming curious, and then he begins to walk. Jay walks for a long time. All day, it turns out. He has somehow turned onto his own quiet street, and the sun is sinking. He cannot recall how many miles he has walked. He tilts his head back, letting the breeze wash over him, letting the tears leak into his hair. There will be no Beth awaiting him at the end of the lane. In the morning he will box up her things and prepare them for the movers. He knows he will need more than a benzo, in the morning. When he opens his eyes, dusk is settling and the world is blue. He rubs his face with his jacket sleeve, and lets go of the pill bottle. Tomorrow is tomorrow. But right now is the blue hour, and he knows Beth existed - exists and he can finally breathe. Then he is running, until his chest burns and his vision blurs with tears, and he leaps.

23


Zipper

Stevie Ann Papenthien 24


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Real, Cheeky - Issue 01: Color  

Real, Cheeky brings you artistic content that is fun, raw, and honest. Photos, drawings, poems, short stories, and more, to delight your eye...

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