The Lavender Issue 9: Everything Is Not What It Seems

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The Lavender

Issue Nine Autumn 2023

Everything Is Not What It Seems • @route9wes

2 The Lavender Issue 9: Everything Is Not What It Seems Wesleyan’s Prose, Poetry, and Art Magazine Fall 2023
The Route 9 Literary Collective Presents... The Lavender
It Seems
Issue 9: Everything Is Not What

About Us:

The Lavender is Wesleyan’s student-run poetry and prose literary magazine that publishes twice a semester. The literary magazine is run under the Route 9 Literary Collective which also publishes a multitude of other projects including Pre-Good, Good Condition, Poems of Our Climate, The Route 9 Anthology, and more. Learn more at

Why The Lavender?:

The Lavender is an homage to the fact that Wesleyan University’s official color used to be lavender. The color was changed because, according to an October 1884 issue of the Argus, lavender was not suitable for intercollegiate sports. “Lavender is not a striking color,” the article proclaimed. Well, 1884 critic, we here at The Lavender find the color incredibly striking.

Why Route 9?:

Route 9 is the road that connects Middletown to the rest of Connecticut. It is the central artery of movement that every Wesleyan student, faculty, staff, and Middletown resident has driven on. It connects us and moves us forward.

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Issue 9: Everything Is Not What It Seems

The Lavender Team

Editor-in-Chief: Imogen Shearmur

Managing Editors: Samantha Hager and Alex Short

Poetry Editor: Mia Alexander

Assistant Poetry Editor: Mel Cort

Prose Editor: Hyacinth Scheinfeld

Design Editors: Madeleine Metzger & Spencer Klink

Assistant Design Editor: Sonia Menken

The Team: Eli Hoag, Jane Weitz, Nathaniel Greenfield, Kai Paik, Megan Arias, Sonia Menken, Eliza Bryson, Eli Marcus, Tasmiah Akter, Hannah Langer, Isha Bah, Erick Buendia, Mahek Uttamchandani, Ellen Ryan, Ana Ziebarth, Sarann Spiegel, Isha Bah, Phoebe Levitsky, Noa Koffman-Adsit, Mel Cort, Kaira Gupta, Tyler Asher, Eden Richman, Dikshya Kuikel, Erick Buendia, Leandra Sze, Oliver Brown, Sophia Molina

Cover Design: Eleonor Andersson

Logo Design: Leo Egger

Special Thanks to: The heroes at 54 Home Ave., all the dear friends who make this magazine possible, Merve Emre, Amy Bloom, Ryan Launder, Alpha Delta Phi, The Shapiro Writing Center, The Wesleyan English Department, The Green Fund, and the SBC.


Letter From the Editor

Dear Reader,

My name is Imogen Grace Shearmur and this is my first issue as editor-in-chief of The Lavender Literary Magazine. I started working on The Lavender in 2021, the year it began. I am now the last standing member of the original cast of characters that were part of the Lavender at its inception. I started as the Prose Editor and clawed my way up to Top Dog.

Perhaps I should tell you some things about myself. I am from Los Angeles, which should come as a surprise to no one. I can do a nohands cartwheel. I believe in love at first sight. My celebrity crush is Ty Burell and I fell in love with him at first sight and would marry

him tomorrow. I hate cooking because I am very lazy. I cannot drive stick shift – my dad tried to teach me one time but got fed up with me so I never learned. I have a little brother who is fifteen. We look nothing alike. If I were a fruit I would be a blood orange. I think the best website is YouTube to MP3 converter ( I can do six push ups. My best story to tell is about when a guy I was seeing got another girl pregnant with twins and I will tell it to you if you ask.

The theme of this issue is “Everything is Not What it Seems.” There is no real rhyme or reason for this –we all just thought it would be cool, and it is. I wanted to have a close-up magician perform at the release

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party, but I couldn’t find anyone who would do it for free.

Allow me to be earnest for a moment. I am so beyond grateful to Mia, Hyacinth, Spencer, Madeleine, Sammi, and Alex. They are amazing at what they do and I enjoy every minute that I spend with them. And thank you to Oliver Egger, without whom The Lavender would not exist. I feel lucky every day to be a part of this publication. I feel lucky that brilliant, funny, insightful writers on this campus share their writing, and that brilliant, funny, insightful people show up to our meetings every week excited to talk about their work. I feel lucky that we have the means to produce this magazine, and that people want to read it. I truly cannot express the breadth of my gratitude. Writing can often be a lonely endeavor. With the excep -

tion of workshop classes, there are few opportunities for writers at Wesleyan to come together to discuss and celebrate one another’s work. My hope is that The Lavender is and continues to be a place for that to happen. We don’t always have to talk about writing – we can talk about sports or something. Regardless of the topic of conversation, it is just a special thing to know that there is a passionate community of writers on this campus committed to each other and to their art.

So here’s to Issue 9! I can’t wait for the next one!

Xoxo, Immi

7 Issue
What It Seems
9: Everything Is Not
8 The Lavender Reese Chahal 9 Heaven and the Y by Mel Cort 10 Life Insurance by Gemmarosa Ryan 11 Five Questions for the Cowboy I Met at Moonshine Beach by Sabrina Tian 12 That Damn Ribbon by Sylvia Maxwell 13-15 Sticks and Stone Fruits by Michaela Somers 16 Eni kő by Mia Alexander 17 My Room by Annie Fabian 18-19 Assorted Loops by Bennet Gottesman 20-21 Quiz Wiz 1001 by Shanti Hinkin 22 The Storm by Sophie Neiblum 23-24 Home by Tasmiah Akter 25 The Checklist by Sydney Atwood 26-27 Erick Buendia 27 Tar by Chloe Duncan-Wald 28 Prayers for my Mother, Myself and my Daughter by Abigail Grauer 29 The Anatomy of a House by Noa Koffman-Adsit 30-31 Convict Lake by Imogen Shearmur 32-35 Natalie Horberg 35 July, a Fawn by Jonah Barton 36-37 New Love Cassette by Ben Gertner 38 Nomad by Sadie Cook 39 Sea Glass by Mia Foster 40 Crushed It by Miranda Simon 41-50 Spencer Klink 51
Table of Contents

Issue 9: Everything Is Not What It Seems

Reese Chahal

The Lavender

Heaven and the Y

Mel Cort

I met God at a magic show at the YMCA. He was balding, mid-fifties, hauling his own smoke machine and microphone and setting up neat rows of plastic folding chairs.

He had a six pm sharp show time, and here his disciples organized:

the basketball-bench-warmers and after-school-program kids and the old women who got here too early for synchronized swimming and too late for low-impact Zumba. I watched as God created the world.

First, a flittering finch he summoned from his sleeve and then a cracker for it to feed, a bouquet of feathered flowers he presented to a mother-to-be and a candle he lit by blowing on it.

My hands raised, palm up, ready to receive communion as he asked for volunteers, eager in a crowd of people just passing time.

My face at the end of his pointing finger; the creation of Adam. He asked if we had ever met before and everything in me wanted to say yes, yes don’t you remember? I saw you above my bed at the hospital and as I leaned against a lampost downtown, spewing my guts, but the audience laughed nervously and he filled my silence with a hurried no, of course not.

Suddenly I liked the idea of being a plant, a hand-selected prophet to sit among the ranks of non-believers. no, of course not.


Life Insurance

Gemmarosa Ryan

From the wall-to-ceiling windows

I see the glint of a golden dome. The New York Life Insurance building, erected in 1927. No doubt more marvelous back then before scaffolding made us forget we could look up. I wonder how many fell from grace applying a metal they couldn’t even think to chase.

As cloud cover descends, I turn back to your bed. Does one dream in sedated slumber?

Pruned palms crinkled despite IV aid. Our cells hold less water as we age like tinned buckets thrown to the ground one too many times.

The oxygen monitor finds a better home on your ear tab hanging from the lobe like a dairy cow

I picture you drinking glasses of milk as a young child Do you conjure those images too?

Morphine drip depositing memories like the thrum of water in an empty sink.

Insure what exactly?

It’s a silly game to manage money from the comfort of a grave. Lines on a monitor screen, the only stock left to take is that of our life.

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9: Everything Is Not What

Five Questions for the Cowboy I Met at Moonshine Beach

Who taught you how to two-step like that? And where did you buy those ostrich skin boots? My, how the heels sound against the pavement, the keys and quarters quivering a song in your pocket all the way from the bar to my bed.

Did you mean what you said about the Snake River and my eyes as we laid on our backs, listening to the gentle music on the streets? Sometimes, guitars and harps are twins.

Why did you leave in the unbelievable hours? The scent of spruce trees, dust, and a gift horse in a fragile stream lingered on my sheets for days. All I could think about was Montana. Now, I’m thinking of going next month if you’d care to meet me there. Let me know what you think. And what did you say your name was, again?

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That Damn Ribbon Sylvia

I first saw her in a coffee shop. I was shamelessly pretending to read Slouching Towards Bethlehem, but my attention was stuck on the sour aftertaste of my espresso and last night’s sex. Not that the sex was bad, per se, but she was a vegan. I tried to focus on conjuring up an excuse for last night to tell my girlfriend, Suzanne, when the front door jingled open. A girl shuffled in, her arrival sending a shiver down my throat like a cannonball, a feeling as though I’d met her before. She didn’t seem to notice my tired eyes that followed her to the counter as she bent down to peruse the pastries. She didn’t seem to notice anything at all.

I aggressively turned the page of my book in case she happened to sense my intellectual aura and look over. But she didn’t and simply stood still until her drink was ready. The barista called her “whole milk cappuccino,” and I knew she was the one. She brought her drink to a seat facing me, which I took as a good sign. I noticed one of those cow rings between her nostrils. Maybe she’s gay, I speculated, but surely I’m in touch with my feminine side enough to turn her. With a deep breath, I stood up to my towering height of 6’3” and walked to the counter to return my mug. As I passed her table, I seized the moment and said, “Hey, I like your tee shirt. Pavement’s a sick band.” I instantly regretted my choice of words, but she hadn’t taken out her wired headphones and, thus, hadn’t heard me.

“Hmm?” she hummed, and I stumbled over words to get her number. She held eye contact while typing her digits into my phone, and when I took it back, it felt colder than it did before. That’s when I noticed the velvet green ribbon wrapped around her neck, the green so dark it blended into her silky black hair. I hadn’t seen a choker like that since Hot Topic had closed in my childhood mall. It made me feel

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Not What It Seems
9: Everything Is

a type of bubbly attraction I hadn’t felt since the 7th grade. Realizing she had put her headphones back on, I sensed it was my cue to leave.

She followed me in my dreams the next few nights. Suzanne decided to sleep on the couch after getting tired of waking up in my pool of heavy sweat. Accurate recall proved difficult upon awakening, but an image of her with bloodied fingers peeling off the green ribbon was plastered to the backs of my eyes. And somehow I felt horny? I had finally understood why Suzanne made us watch Twilight all those times.

Eventually, with the aid of post-nut clarity, and the fact that Suzanne was out of town, I felt confident enough to reach out to her. We met at a wine bar, and I fell into a cozy drunkenness watching her lips turn purple though her glass was full of a murky orange. I had a glass of white and hoped that didn’t signify a small member below. The conversation flowed casually, until I felt brave and inquired about her green ribbon. The moment I mentioned it, her eyes narrowed as if to see through me. Those purple lips parted, and laughter blew through her pointy smile, simultaneously easing and rattling my crafted disposition. I laughed along lightly before ordering another drink, and I don’t remember the rest of the date, but I woke up the next morning alone in my bed with no signs of play.

Suzanne came back a few days later with an expression of suspicion, but didn’t flat out accuse me of cheating again. Nonetheless, I ghosted the girl from the other night, but still the nightmares of her wouldn’t leave me alone. Her slender bloody hands on her green ribbon and her pernicious eyes crept into every room, and I soon began to see flashes of her when I looked up at Suzanne in bed. I never told her about it, but I’ll admit that when Suzanne was out with her work friends or wherever she’d go to, I’d rip my bong enough times to hallucinate the girl with me in bed and jerk

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myself off. It got to the point where I couldn’t get hard with Suzanne unless I wrapped my hands around her neck and imagined the bloody ribbon.

I never saw the girl around until one gloomy night in November. I was out with the boys, having a grand old time at a new nightclub that had recently opened called NoWhere. I stumbled to the gender neutral bathroom to piss out three vodka RedBulls when I felt a vibrating chill. The last stall opened to the girl, standing with a leery grin, and I felt a strong force draw me to consensually start making out with her. She kissed me back briefly, so I seized the opportunity to reach for her neck. She tried to push me back, but I slipped my finger under the ribbon. I stepped back, tense with the ribbon in my shaking hands, for I knew what was to come. I could almost hear the splash of her head fall back into the toilet. But there it was. Fully intact.

Her plum lips ruptured as that familiar unnerving laughter poured out. I thought this was the most humiliated I could ever feel until I looked down and noticed I was hard. Peering back up, dazed, my eyes met her bare neck. No blood, just a tattoo in cursive that said, Suzanne.

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9: Everything Is Not What

sticks and stone fruits -

to saturate what’s simple in objection is some heavy, human thing. a knot in the thread of how we think to think of life, a wound reopened and never let close. and yet— to caress your fingers over fruit, to thumb over the flesh; some warm and wanting touch of skin to skin and sugar, to open. and feel the sun-ripened love that is sewn there— this is when, in the dimpled flesh of a nectarine i bite my teeth, and i feel i am finally somewhere near full.

The Lavender

Saturday we visit Kusama. You tell me she seems Sexually immature, cornstarch-stuffed phalli casting shadows in the crest of your cheek.

When we’ve had enough of dots and pumpkins we sway home atop cobblestone.

The evening lays naked before us. You kiss a bottle of Pinot Grigio

to your lips and take a swig, your swallow clunky. I brush my lips against the nape of your neck, nip the soft flesh underneath your chin.

You tell me about your boyfriend and I am sympathetic because you deserve sympathy. Ryan. 19. Corpse, fentanyl-laced.

You blow your nose in my sleeve and I wish you’d run the syllables of my name in your mouth instead, imagine licking the tears from your ducts, letting your snot coat my tastebuds.

Stop crying. Taste my cerebellum. Bite my larynx. Devour it between your lipstick-sticky lips. Entwine me between your ribs. Feel my esophagus slip down yours; let my beating heart stir us both. Trick me out of my perceptions, let our senses overwhelm us.

I will leave you on the sidewalk, shaking, the evening wrapped around our shoulders.

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9: Everything Is Not What

My Room

I have a beautiful room. A gaping arch over my bed curtains draped from it lots of tall, wide windows to let the light in.

It’s filled with plants. Roses, lilies, and tulips fill vases covering every surface their petals litter the floor vines crawl up my bed posts embracing and growing into the wood striving towards the sun that pours in.

I love the plants but they’re beginning to make me sick. The air is heavy and reeks of sweet rot. The damp rancidity sits in my nostrils and makes me gag.

I wish someone would come take them away, then maybe the flies would leave too.

The flies. Those sycophants to decay swarm at the morbid smell of organic matter decomposing. They scream oh, how they shriek with delight at the odor. Their carnal songs torment me so that I can’t sleep. I haven’t slept. I just lay in bed exhausted.

The Lavender

My dress clings to me like my skin to my bones.

The flies watch me sink deeper toward the box springs. They sit in the hollows of my hips and collarbones and buzz. They dance on my bare toes and lips and hum.

Anything would be better than this torture. I’d rather be dead.

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Assorted Loops:

—I was knocked to the ground once again. I layed there for a while contemplating some fruitless refusal to get back up. Getting up after a fall isn’t as romantic as we like to imagine. Some see it as a choice to continue. I got up. To me it’s more about a willingness to repeat. I stared them down and charged forward. It was hardly glorious. In an instant–

—you’re gonna go up Jenks a couple blocks. When you get to the second church with the shorter steeple it’s a left. That street has construction so you kinda gotta weave between the cones but don’t worry you’ll figure it out. You keep going past three different donut shops. The first is Al’s. It’s good but definitely don’t go there. The second is Confection. It’s a nope. The third, Demon Donuts, is the worst tasting but only acceptable of the three. So after you pass there it’s a right onto Main street. Now, I don’t mean the main street. That one’s called Foster. You want the one called Main street. It’s a dinky little side street with a couple stop signs but no real traffic. You can take it to Lake or to Greenleaf. If you take Lake then you just go left then left again onto Broadway after a bit. That’s fine for just getting around. If you wanna be by the lake then you oughta take Greenleaf. That’s also a left. Anyway you’ll end up going back down Broadway no matter which street you take. Along the way you’ll pass Jayla’s. Definitely go in, say hello, whatever. Jayla’s the best. Ok so once you get down to Earwicker you take yet another left. Then all you gotta do is take in the trees until your next turn where–

—I think I’d like to stay forever. My eyes are closed but I know what I’d see if they opened. I can feel your arms around me and your hands feel rough against my skin. The squirrels in my chest are chasing each other in tiny loops.

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The music is not just apt but perfectly planned for this moment. I suppose I ought to forget all that and just focus on you. But why? It’s all part of this wonderful moment where

—the first thing one really learns, other than the best way to scrub grime from boat hulls, is really just chatting. That’s all it was back then. I knew how to teach someone the technical sailing bits. That was easy. I had to learn to just chat. So I did. And I did so through plagiarism first. You have to pretend to be someone else before you can really be yourself, whether that person is real or not, whether you know them or just watch them on tv. I learned how to chat when I remembered to look silly. Not inept ever, just silly. And so my old boss’ students became my students and soon there was someone else to chat and tell them to listen to me. It was all another loop of course and so it went round and round. I think it’s easy in this job to feel like a revolving door. As students cycle through you spin in place. Yet, a circle shouldn’t mean stagnation. No two turns of the door are ever the same. Anyway, nothing ever happened after just one spin of a wheel. The days and weeks went round and people started leaving with them. Meanwhile, I watched as my peers would pretend to be me, whether they knew it or not. Of course they’d fail at that and find themselves on the way back around. And soon I’d see them with someone new explaining how

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9: Everything Is Not


Shanti Hinkin

A moment late, your crescent pupils hang like cradles

Caught in a close-fisted, knees-locked slant, Concealing discomfort in face and hands

A drunk monkey grinning for sleep

Dimples winking, linking parenthetical frowns

The swan head of a collarbone slinking up through a smirk Sepia tortoiseshell squares yellowing with time

Red island, point of light, peeled away by promise of prosperity

Your exhaustion immediate, trapped between refractory gazes And static bug-eyed stereo waves, And the brilliant tree about to tip

Vexed monkey

Drunk with rage

Does he place his paw on your back?

Does he breathe the answers out of your sealed mouth

And howl them at you?

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Issue 9: Everything Is Not What It Seems the storm

she folds herself into the car, flinches and jumps, but it won’t matter. that cheap aluminum and steel will buckle and fold until she’s no more than a body amongst the trees. if a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear, does it make a sound? maybe it does – maybe it worries the neighbors who run next door only to find blood spilling out of the car, a tree splitting the truck in two.

it was a day like this, a stormy summer afternoon august two years ago. after the before, there’s no driving without memory, no storm without fear.


she keeps her eyes glued ahead, muscles tensed and shaking. if she makes it home alive, she thinks, that’ll be another miracle for the ages. add it to the list of things she’ll pray for tonight.

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The last time I stayed awake so late was spring 2022

One ear to my roommate’s rhythmic snoring

And the other to the 4 a.m. Amtrak’s horn bellowing throughout

The purple-pink sky

The air in my room is stale and I know I’ve had too much coffee because The acid in my stomach is ripping holes through it and My hands are vibrating

The twinkle in your eye takes me home to Cold New Hampshire mornings and feeling

Infinite with my friends

Turning in a paper a minute before it’s due and My fingers stained with chocolate from dining hall muffins

Those same fingers going numb by the river

Subzero temperatures and all

I told you too many things that night when Our breath was as warm as the New Hampshire air was cold When I woke up before you did and I listened to you breathing

But I didn’t tell you the most important thing If you let me I would have

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The Checklist

Sydney Atwood

The first task I complete is making my checklist. Drawing the boxes in different colors is the best part. I do this at the desk beside the bed I just woke up in. I like my desk looking smooth and spotless, just like the freshly mown grass outside my bedroom window. My desk is home to a single pink lamp and a plastic cup for my pencils.

I watch a lot of morning routines online. I give myself 15 minutes after eating (and checking off the blue breakfast box) to use my phone, and no one, not one person, wakes up and immediately writes a to-do list.

Do the lists just appear in their heads?

Or maybe above their heads, like a cartoon character conjuring a lightbulb?

Maybe I should make my own morning routine like those influencers.

But, my brother does not approve of my diligence. He told me, “Kenz, go write something useful for once. You’re wasting pages in that book!” If anything, this rant is a waste of pages. I had to pick a new color for the “write in your journal for 20 minutes” box!

Meanwhile, our house is an explosion. Like when you look at your lawn and see yellow weeds sprouting up from worm infested dirt; you know it’s time to make a change then. After I have my me time (the box is pink), I check that off my list and work on cleaning up after him. Do dirty dishes, recycle discarded bottles, fold the pink pull out couch where my 30 year old brother just slept.

Check, check, check.

Maybe if people were a little a little more organized, their minds wouldn’t be such a mess.

Maybe their mother’s pink van wouldn’t have been totaled if they had just driven sober.

The tire marks are still imprinted in the grass outside my

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bedroom window.

Issue 9: Everything Is Not What It Seems

Maybe they would have stayed faithful to their boyfriend or ever listened to their sister if they had just taken the time to draw the boxes for those things.

I gave him all the colored pencils I had! He told me the day I discovered a new color would be the day he’d clean himself up. The box remains unchecked.

Erick Buendia


Your chin and jaw there so square, Therein the creases, Of my sallow mind. Forgery: Fond breath on my collar, I grip the clam of your hands, Shiny night tricks, And light terrors, You’re thin plastic floss, Marauding as constellations, Or time.

Is it You Terror?

You scathe me with wicked tones, Timbres you never had, Peel apart

These thin tarred sheets,

I bet I can’t coax your cheshire grin: That halfGleaming gaze, I shook, In your attic, remember?

You held me after we tried something new, You know what I saw and tasted, You, my opiate mimesis.

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Prayers for my Mother, Myself, my Daughter

I feel my body speaking a premonition, Oracle convulsing on stone, bush burning in desert, She invites my skin to wrinkle, my hair to gray, To watch.

My daughter will be caught without an umbrella, Her shirt soaked paper white, her shoes squeaking on the concrete, Her hair sticking to her face her mouth her ears like Static. I am proud of her.

I keep her drawings on our refrigerator

Purple green black paint on thick construction paper

Signed with long practiced letters

Her ‘a’s boxy like strange squares

Her ‘e’s squished into the corners between consonants. Her sticky fingers will grab at mushed peas, challah dough, Cookies from the tray. She will grow fat

And tall and thin and short, body stretching out Skin over a sprouting life. It will leave stretch marks, lightning scars,

As her knees scrape on the rocky path of womanhood

And her hair, freshly blue, stains the porcelain tub of her youth. She will grow her nails long for a dance, while mine stay Rugged and short from tilling the garden of her childhood. She will hate me with slammed doors and wailing screams, Silently begging for freedom I cannot give.

I will shelter her, shaking willow, with my love flowing thick like Blood from twenty four negative pregnancy tests buried In the trash and one, positive, framed disgusting in my heart.

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Is Not What It Seems
9: Everything

the anatomy of a house

houses don’t die easily. they just wait.

their roots soak themselves in the saline, the aerated, the unclean. inundated by the wounds of their inhabitants.

those inhabitants can move on. the house cannot.

at one point or another, a house’s roots become saturated and full. unable to continue their absorption.

the tears, the blood, and the bile begin to overflow back into the house itself.

it cannot move away. it cannot leave. it cannot wash itself clean.

it must live with our strife and negligence long after we have rid ourselves of it. this contagion, this pollution, erodes the walls of the house from the inside.

each time a new family takes residence within, the weight bearing down on a house multiplies. this family’s burdens worsen the affliction. quicken the cancer.

eventually, a house can no longer hear its own groaning and creaking, so clogged is it with our suffering. clotted with our tears. its sense of self drowns in our selfish misery.

this is when a house turns to malice.

it becomes difficult to navigate. it locks doors, seals rooms, and winds in on itself. the illness overflows into its spaces.

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memories long since forgotten begin to manifest.

old storage boxes draw attention to themselves.

the house lures the inhabitants into their own pasts. if it must so completely soak in its history, then so must we.

when a house has fully ensnared the mind within its own cacophony, asphyxiating it with just an ounce of the bloat it suffers while it drags towards slow, distant death, it begins to turn the lights out. we move away. we know when we are unwelcome. but unoccupied spaces must find something to fill them.

Issue 9: Everything Is Not What It Seems

Convict Lake

Imogen Shearmur

At the time of my two-year anniversary with my ex-boyfriend, we didn’t like each other at all. He thought I was an inconsiderate bitch and I thought he was an idiot and neither opinion was entirely inaccurate. Regardless, to celebrate this milestone in our relationship, we went on a road trip to Mammoth where his uncle had a condo that he rented out, and the uncle was letting us stay for a few days while he didn’t have any other bookings.

It was July and the day we made the drive, the air was dry and the pavement smelled like burning rubber. I spent most of the five hours we were on the road studying my boyfriend’s profile. His skin was unblemished. I was quietly angry at him because this was unfair: my acne had returned that June and I had red welts on my cheeks and he washed his face with Dawn dish soap. Also, I was very hungry because I was very anorexic. So while he looked out at the brown ridges of the mountains in the distance, and marveled at the streaks of red in the dirt, I thought about how I didn’t deserve to be happy because I was ugly and also fat.

Every morning we were in Mammoth, I woke with a paralyzing fear, a fear of nothing in particular, that lodged itself between my collarbones and did not relent for the whole day. I wanted to try medication, but my boyfriend told me that his mother had tried that and the pills turned her into a zombie, so I became afraid of medication too. We spent most of our romantic trip sitting on the couch in the condo watching Avatar: The Last Airbender because it was the only thing that would make me feel better. My boyfriend also wrote song lyrics in his journal, and read them aloud to me. It was a song about having depression, and the first line was:

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“Maybe I should meditate, but I already did that.” I told him it was really good and would probably make him famous.

My boyfriend had no idea that I was anorexic and just believed, I suppose, that Birthday Cake flavored Quest Bars were my favorite food, and thought that it was normal to be able to see every single vertebra of my spine protruding out from under my skin like any moment they would burst free and bounce far away.

On the last day of the trip, we drove out to Convict Lake, one of the famous Mammoth lakes named for a group of escaped prisoners who were captured there in 1871. I read the sign in the parking lot and learned that in the winter of 1990, the lake froze over, and four people fell through the ice and drowned.

I was better that day; I wore a blue and white striped sun hat and felt pretty. We sat on the warm rocks along the shore. There was a motor boat out on the water with its engine off and I watched it trace aimless circles in the lake’s glass surface. My boyfriend sketched figures in his journal that looked, he said, just like Basquiat’s. I pretended he wasn’t there.

Moving to a rock further away, I drew my knees into my chest and stared up at the craggy purple peaks of the mountains looming over the water.

“I feel kind of high,” my boyfriend said behind me. “Me too,” I replied, because I kind of did. There was something about the way the mountains stretched up into the pale blue expanse of the sky that made life down on the rocks feel inconsequential. Maybe later I could let myself eat some spaghetti or something, and then my boyfriend and I could take a walk

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It Seems
9: Everything Is Not What

and look at the stars and say that we loved each other. “No seriously, I actually feel high,” he said again. I turned and saw that his eyes were bloodshot. “Did you smoke?” I asked, disgust coloring my tone, because when he was high he was even more annoying to me, and I knew I would soon have to endure some lecture on how we live on a floating rock in space, et cetera. “No!” he exclaimed, glancing around paranoically. I did not believe him. “Let’s just go,” I said, getting up from my rock.

I drove us back to the condo and stomped through the front door while he trailed behind me like a fish. He was wearing flip flops and they flapped against his heels and I hated him. Inside the kitchen, I saw sitting on the counter an unmarked glass jar full of what looked like oregano. Before we had gone out for the day, my boyfriend had heated up a frozen pizza and in a nod to Gordon Ramsay, one of his personal heroes, garnished it with the “seasoning” in the jar that now sat before us. He had offered me a piece which I refused, so he ate the whole thing himself while I watched and convinced myself that I didn’t like pizza much, anyway.

I sniffed whatever was inside the jar and turned to look at him. “You have got to be fucking kidding me,” I said. “I thought it was oregano!” he replied, and then as an afterthought, “I didn’t know my uncle was chill like that.”

He was high for hours and channeled this rush of “creative energy” into making a feast for himself that involved a lot of dishes I knew I would have to clean up later. Olive oil crackled in the pans and I watched yellow drops fleck out and create a slick on the countertops. While he cooked I went outside and listened to the cicadas. I thought again about the mountains. They had seen so much time pass, seen trees burn to ash and earthquakes split the ground, seen people

34 The Lavender

grow up and tell jokes and fall in love and out of love and die, many times over. They had been there for so long, long before those people had stood on the frozen lake. The people had been so sure that the ice would hold them, so sure until the moment that it cracked, and then the mountains had watched them drown.

Issue 9: Everything Is Not What It Seems

July, a Fawn

Jonah Barton

I found you dead

On the gravel of

My driveway

Tennessee Sun

Already melting

The spots off your fur

Like snowflakes

On the outstretched hand Of a child

Blood drips down Your cracked jaw

Tupelo honey

Painting the rocks

Dark and rich

A doe watches

From the top of the hill

And looks at you

One last time

Before I carry you away

In my arms

You are dead and I am a man.

You are heavy

And your body does not negotiate

The way the living does.

36 The Lavender

20 paces

I lost your balance

And you fell forever. Late that night I would dream

That John Henry would hammer

A hole into the earth

The size of your skeleton

So later, when winter falls on the tall grass I could sit with you under the sweetgum tree

Running my fingers down its bark, Traces of straw snakes and burnt fields.

37 Issue
What It Seems
9: Everything Is Not

New Love Cassette

Brings the buzz to your bones frigid on a cold-sweat morning. Cuts the hum of the shell or is it the blood in your ear? Sets the legs and arms in wake as you wait for the engine to warm. and as the backseat murmurs you take it in.

gnarled trees with wooden spindles so contorted they are fit for the great polaroidists and in this time reflecting you’ve forgotten to speak to the taxi driver.

The Lavender


Sure footed step on equally relentless pavement

Conviction of self

Of mind

Of fate.

She moves in the night

Among flashing lights and scattered paints or broken mirrors.

Shards and cracks are beauty, not bad luck.

She finds glamor in the spilt milk, a meditative mess in rainbow piles of laundry:“i think i know you maybe not maybe in another life but follow me.”

And she is wild

Wild as if she came from the moss that feels magical, screaming from the rooftop taunting the unapologetics her arms twist as she spins spirals spars and spells out freedom with one foot already out the door.

Invisible string that once bound her bones to bleak and bare conformity lays limp on New York streets. Glossy stilettos and worn down sneakers and thick black boots pummel the memory. Untethered to body, left solid to be replaced by admirable eyes; Sorrow in knowing we can only be a footnote.

She is gone by the morning.

It Seems
Issue 9: Everything Is Not What

Sea Glass

Mia Foster

I see it

Archive of lens flare memories

Cold drink, hot sun

Bottles left behind

Green glass fragmented

The peculiarity of harsh edges

Affirm a belief in shape and permanence

Left to the sea



The certainty of the shard fades

As the waves thrash

Understanding through time that uncertainty is the shape of living

Softened by years

Becomes hazy and unsure of itself

Rounding its corners

Accepting of malleability

Kinder to hands

Begging to be held


Transformed beings

Revered with quiet appreciation

I pocket it.

The Lavender

Crushed It

Miranda Simon

Issue 9: Everything Is Not What It Seems


A bland yet clean green room. Television Star LANCE HAVARTI(Mid 30, supernaturally handsome and artfully distressed) sprawls on the couch, playing Candy Crush. His assistant, mousy AMY (Early 20’s) buzzes about.


Root Beer.

Amy grabs a soda, pops the tab, hurriedly hands the can over, gets a small amount on his pants in the process.


Amy what the fuck. These are Versace. Mr. Versace gave me these. What are you going to tell Mr. Versace when it looks like I peed brown all over his newest collection.


(Not scared, used to this)

Sorry Mr. Versace.

Lance is absorbed in his mobile game.


Fuck yes, level 500.


Lance. Lance! LANCE! I shouldn’t have to tell you this, but remember what Bill said. There’s a lot riding on th-



(In a ridiculous British accent)

There’s a lot riding on this going well Lance. Season 3 hangs in the balance! Also I like to kiss the Warner Brothers on the mouth. Pip pip Cheerio I get great pleasure by stuffing crumpets and scones right up my-

BILL (50s, in a crisp suit with an accent to match) knocks on the door frame and doesn’t wait for a response before entering.


What was that about crumpets?

Lance gets off his phone and sits up straight.


Hey boss! Just preparing for the panel.


Lance. You’re lucky you’re beautiful.


And humble ;)

Lance gives a wink, Amy and Bill roll their eyes.


I don’t know how to further drill this into your head, but there is a lot riding on this meeting.

Amy and Lance lock eyes. Amy raises her eyebrows, mouths “told you so”

42 The Lavender



9: Everything Is Not What It Seems

(slowly, like talking to a child) In a few seconds we will walk out to the convention hall, where you will sit with your costar BRIAN. Remember him?


Ahh. The ugly one.


Fans will be called up one by one to ask questions, which you will answer RESPECTFULLY. No profanity, no lewdness. You are Saint Theresa up there. Amy, what am I missing


The ship thing


The what huh?


You’re always on that damn phone Lance, haven’t you been checking Twitter?

Bill walks over, plucks Lance’s phone out of his hands, puts it down on a table nearby.



The fans are convinced that your character and Brian’s character are in love.



Why the hell would they think that?


Because we’ve been trying to get them to think that. Well, kind of.

The following is framed like a school lesson, with an old timey film slideshow playing.


Teen girls love two hot men kissing more than anything in the world.


That’s true.


But confirming any type of gay relationship makes conservatives lose their minds and boycott.


Like Bud Light


And so, you have to toe a careful line of homoerotic ambivalence. A perfect liminal space where every glance has an equal chance of being understood as platonic or romantic.


Because television cares more about money than representation.

44 The Lavender

Issue 9: Everything Is Not What It Seems


AMY! Enough comments from the peanut gallery.

Lesson section ends.


So do you get it?

Lance stares blankly


I love Bud Light.

Bill sighs a weathered sigh.


If they ask you any questions about your character and Brian’s character, just keep it absolutely neutral and change the conversation topic as quickly as possible, alright?

Bill leads them out of the room


A bustling hallway for the talent at the convention. From a neighboring room, BRIAN (mid 30s- a chiseled, blond, boynext-door type) gives a little jog to catch up with them.


Hey guys!

LANCE (coldly)



They reach the entrance to the stage.


They’ll cue you to go on. Good luck. Do not mess this up for us.

Brian gives a thumbs up. Bill and Amy leave. Lance immediately starts playing Candy Crush again.


Isn’t this exciting! I love connecting with fans. They’re the reason I do what I do.


Blah Blah blah yeah. I just love blah blah. Can’t wait to blah blah blah. Guess who’s on level five hundred?

A stagehand gives them a cue to enter. They step out intoINT. CONVENTION CENTER STAGE

A large stage, empty except for a table with 3 chairs. Sitting in one of the chairs is GREGORY (30s- A clean cut journalist and facilitator of the discussion.)


Come on out you two!

Raucous applause erupts from a group of rabid teenagers, all wearing merch with a vague space theme. Some of them hold signs.



46 The Lavender

Issue 9: Everything Is Not What It Seems





Lance and Brian sit down. Gregory addresses the audience.


This is Gregory Allen and I’m here with Lance Havarti and Brian Greene, the stars of Wizards in Space!

Violent shrieking


Boys, how are we feeling tonight?


Absolutely Amazing! It’s great to see all these smiling faces!


Could be better to be honest...

Gasps from the crowd. Bill and Amy wait in the wings.


Oh god, what is he doing?


(to Lance on stage)

Don’t blow it, you doorknob.


Lance milks his response, tension rises.


I mean, I would be much happier if the third season of Wizards in Space was out right now, right guys? ;)

A killer wink from Lance! the audience bursts out in a chorus of “yas” and “plzzzzz”


He’s done it! The Boy’s done it! I don’t know why we ever doubted him!!


I think we can all agree with what Lance just said! Now let’s get into what we came here for today, some fan questions!

A group of pre-selected fans line up. EMILY (17, bubbling with energy and fully decked out in “Wizards in Space” gear) rushes forward.


HI!! Can I say that I am just the hugest fan of you two! My question is: Your characters have turned from enemies, to reluctant coworkers, to good friends. Is there any chance that something more could come of their relationship?

The tensest silence, everyone is holding their breath. Bill freaks out on the sidelines.

48 The Lavender

Who vetted these girls?!


Issue 9: Everything Is Not What It Seems

Back on stage, Brian seems well equipped to answer. Lance is still playing his game.


Well Emily, Colton and Flint have known each other since-

At this moment, Lance wins level 500 and yells out.




Did- Did he just say yes?

A low rumble begins in the audience. Everyone is still a bit in shock. Lance looks up from his phone.


It’s too late, the girls watching start to lose it. Screaming at the top of their lungs,








The energy builds even further, the girls are ripping up their pamphlets, tearing at their hair, gnashing their teeth.


Alright, calm down everyone...


(A weak attempt)

No, no! We’re not gay! We’re not gay!

Too late. The girls are full of so much hormonal excitement that they bum rush the actors. Amy sees this, quickly grabs Lance and pulls him off stage.


So Lance, you probably just got us both fired. What are you going to do now?

Lance smiles deviously


Level 501.

50 The Lavender
Issue 9: Everything Is Not What It Seems
Spencer Klink

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