Sink Hollow Issue XIII 1
Letter from the Editor
For those unfamiliar with a literary magazine’s process, allow me to tell you personally that it is stressful. Every semester, we open our nets and hope to catch gems among the seaweed. Our readers spend hours sifting through pages for those lines that refuse to be forgotten, that beg to be let above water. What you are about to read is our collection of gems from undergraduate students and artists around the world. The writing world is vast, and to much of the publishing realm, undergraduate work is left sinking. Sink Hollow was created to give those students a place. A voice. A home. The submissions we’ve used to fill these pages are full of life. Each of our genres has expressed pride, fascination, and excitement over pieces collected this semester. As you step into this issue, we ask you to test the waters slowly. Give each piece the time it deserves. Consider the artist slaving over their craft and applaud their work. Also remember our staff whom I’ve already mentioned; their dedication continues to amaze me. This magazine would not be the same without them. We hope you walk away with deeper insight and a desire to create. As I prepare to step down from my position here, I am beyond thankful for this magazine. The lessons it taught were invaluable and I look forward to watching it progress from the shadows. I hope you all will do likewise and cheer on the continual efforts of undergraduate students as they prove why they should never be underestimated.
Editor in Chief Dara Lusk
Table of Contents 18
2 Letter from the Editor
Family Dysfunction Ellie Wardman
The Vision of Cinema No 3
21 The Grim Spotlight
The Vision of Cinema No 7
Annalisa Morganelli li
The Vision of Cinema No 1
The Little Pitcher
30 The Vision of Cinema No
Staff and Faculty
Unlikely Hero of the Improv Bedtime Story Tink Safeer
35 Pretty Thing
Alexandra Chi Knee
43 Betsy Tullis
Magazine Layout and Design Hannah Lee
T h eVi s i o n o f C i n e m a No 3
by Bailey Rigby
by Carter Crosby
Money looks funny on me. My one silver watch sticks out against my skin Like a leech that has grown tired of sucking. Your father asks where I bought it. It was a gift. I have my nice button-down on– The silky-looking one. I look down to fidget with the pocket, And I notice– There is a stain. A dot, a spot of a stain in the upper right corner. You trace my arm from elbow down to wrist, Lacing your fingers with mine Like the lattice on the apple pie I brought. You stroke my thumb to help me talk, But I am not sure how to speak. I reach for the silverware like a starfish in a straightjacket. I will not raise my arms, Because underneath them, there will be stains, too. I clumsily scoop soup with the heaviest silver spoon I’ve ever held While your mother and father lift with grace and control, Admiring their trove of food they guard like dragons While I am a mouse in their den.
T h eVi s i o n o f C i n e m a No 7
by Bailey Rigby
Bra i d i n g
by Kamryn Pitcher
“We’re not losing the birch trees, the birch trees are losing us.” -Wayne “Minogizhig” Valliere
In the backyard of my home is a birch tree whose branches extend over the deck, catching the air in its leafy fingers. I can see it rock back and forth from the bathroom window, where I sit on the sink braiding my hair. Even from there I can see that it is no normal birch tree. The white bark is split open by something that resembles a willow, its inner skin bursting out and opening in large, almond shaped gaps, with branches bowed reverently toward the mud. I keep my eyes on the tree’s windy rhythm and my hands in my hair, tugging and twisting the three separate strands upon each shoulder, six altogether. When I look back to the mirror, there is a wet strand that has gone unnoticed, tucked tight behind my ear, just big enough to make me start the right side all over again. Somehow I begin to hear a scene from Smoke Signals, a scene I wait for each time, in which Victor tells Thomas he has to free his braids if he ever wants to be a real Indian. Victor tells him he needs to look like a warrior, like he just came back from killing a buffalo though Thomas is quick to remind him that their tribe was made up of fishermen alone and has been for generations. I think it’s funny that I am the one from a warrior tribe, with my auburn braids and pasty skin, and not these two actors whom Old Hollywood would have loved to have killed off in some John Wayne, stage coach, Apache production. But I am O jibwe, from the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa. The government there says I’m too much of one thing and not enough of the other to be a tribal member. But that is the same government that moni-
tors blood, like people do with dogs and horses, so I try not to listen too intently. If I were an Indian from Oklahoma, I’d be enough. Or if I were from Fort Belknap they would put my photo on a piece of plastic with a fraction just below my face. I have done the math, the geometry, more times than I can count. Drawing a human silhouette in the margin of my notes, I separate it into eight separate slices. Seven of them have to be filled, I know, but I ponder which ones to darken first. I start in the middle and make my way to the arms and hands then to the shoulders and also the knees. I stop at the neck and the ankles, wondering which end I ought to fill in, which one I will deem whiter than the other. Ultimately, I fill in the head and throat and leave the feet to be the native percentage of the silhouette. It’s only fitting, I think. The feet are the ones the earth knows the best. It’s only then that I see how I forgot to give the silhouette braids. I have braided the right side again and there is now a bubble in one of the strands, imitating a rooster’s tail where my cowlick usually sits. My fingers pull the pieces apart and I restart, tighter this time. I wonder how long it will take for my family to congregate outside the door and wonder what is keeping me. I know that if I deem my braids a success and leave the bathroom, they will comment on the fact that I haven’t done this to my hair in a while. They will make me keenly aware of what I am trying to do. My dad might even call me his little Indian baby, kiss me on the forehead and walk into the kitchen, smiling. My ears burn to think of what my family will 10
decide to see in me. Upon returning home from the second powwow I had ever been to, I showed my father the beaded earrings I bought from an elder in Wellpinit. I told him how her face fell when she looked at me and how she did not meet my eyes when I handed her the money. He said I could have told the woman what I am. But there is no way I could have told her what I am without also saying, “Hey, I know I’m white but guess what? I’m also native just like you! So rest assured, you are not merely selling your culture away to a colonizer’s descendant. Trust that I am not the pictures of the men on the money I give you, I am in fact the earrings you give me, though appearances do deceive.” Still, my father reminds me of our whiteness when I start to bead my own earrings. I have learned to study the old language alone in my room, with the digital recordings he gave me, so I won’t have to hear him say something that would give his heart away. There is a conflict in him he has reduced to jokes and side comments. But in an odd way, I am grateful for those jokes. They are the only proof of the conflict’s existence, that there is a quiet, unconfronted unrest that sits on the top of his chest waiting to be freed. Yet, for some reason, I am the one who carries the weight, at least more openly. Sometimes I think it is because the government told him he was enough, on paper, and therefore he does not breathe the same sighs I do. For him, they do not question the freckles that mark his pallid skin like constellation stories. They disregard the fact that, before he went gray, his hair was red, redder than mine. He used to shine like a penny on the pavement, a torch among men, though he never let his hair grow long enough to be braided. The braid on my right side is tight, tighter than the one on the left which sits lower, closer to my ear. I undo the left and begin the process once more. I can feel my cheeks burn. They’ve gone pink with frustration. And because you are only supposed to think good thoughts while you braid your hair, I take time to calm myself, watch my face return to a porcelain hue, think of something that ma-
kes me smile, before I can begin the process. Back in Spokane, I had friends who could braid my hair so tight my skin would turn, and stay, pink along my hairline. They danced jingle and fancy at the powwows. They asked me if I ever danced, and my answer, of course, was no. They spoke Salish. I’d share the few O jibwe words I knew. The differences were striking. To me, their words matched the sound of a canoe paddle hitting the water, of fish falling from a basket. My words were long, awkward, still so new to me, but they sounded more like footsteps in the snow or a collection of drums, a heartbeat, carrying its song off into the distance. These friends helped me sew my first ribbon skirt. They gave me earrings their aunties had beaded for me. They were the most generous people I’d ever known. They listened in ways others never had before. They made me laugh, let me cry, taught me how to breathe when the quiet unrest would grow heavy again because they knew what it was to count the drops that defined them. I remember when I first told one of them what I was and in the process, I somehow seemed to apologize for the way I looked. She told me, while braiding my hair on the bottom bunk at cheer camp, that “It’s okay, my cousins are white as fuck.” My white cousin from Canada is racist in the way a lot of white people are racist. And because I am her family, because we are bound by blood and pigmentation, she allows her ugly words to hang out of her mouth as if it were a shared tradition I must partake in. I watch her ignorant comments, her political incorrectness, her whiteness fall onto the floor like a grotesque, flopping fish. Sometimes it’s the n-word she says in a song. Sometimes it’s the n-word she says when it’s not in a song. Sometimes it’s the fact that she suddenly forgets the n-word when my black friends are around, which I have decided is just as bad if not worse. Sometimes it’s the impressions she does of the “drugged up, drunk off their ass Indians” she sees at Walmart. If there is a native person in one of her stories, she will refer to them as “the Indian” for the entirety of her story. Once at a bowling alley, she began telling everyone about 11
her boyfriend’s hilarious Indian accent imitation. But the bowling alley was too loud, my question stumbled through the air on the way to her ears, so that when I asked “What kind of Indian?”, she heard, “I’m kind of Indian” to which she responded immediately with, “Yeah, but you’re the whitest bitch I know.” I wanted to say, “tell me something I don’t know” but I didn’t. I refused. Instead, I went inside myself, the same way I do when I count the freckles on my legs or the blue veins beneath my chest. The same old screaming starts up again and says, “I am whiter than your whitest Indian! I am also your whitest Indian! I am too white to say that I’m your whitest Indian and make it sound the way I want it to! I know this! I am severely, acutely, excruciatingly aware of this!” Those thoughts lead to the wrong kind of braids, the ones I fight to build before angrily retiring to bed. They are the ones that hold tight to the fear that there is nothing physical which separates my cousin from myself. My left braid is now just as tight but one of the strands is noticeably smaller than the two. I take a deep breath and close my eyes. I will not cry this time. I will let the sound of the wind surging through the birch tree branches outside tell my jaw to soften and my breath to slow. I will get it right this next time, I tell myself, and begin to loosen the braid so that I may fix it for good. I cannot remember ever seeing a photo of my grandmother with braids or even that of her mother. In the single photo I have of Great Grandma Ernestine, she is in a white, long-sleeved dress that covers her neck and extends just past her knees which are hidden by black stockings. Her shoes are tied all the way past her ankles, her hair is held back by a large, pedantic bow, and her hands are holding themselves together just below her waist. She looks stiff, modest. Her skin is the same as that of my baby sister, who turns as brown as the rocks at the bottom of a creekbed once summer comes. I learned, later on, through the pieces of Ernestine I have been given, that it was that color which kept a man from marrying her. She was grown, in love, and two people with white skin told their
son that he could not marry my great grandmother, the one with brown skin, the indian. I learned that she hated being called “dirty indian.” She kept her kids so habitually clean to make sure no one would have room to talk. She married a mean Catholic who got lost shopping for some diapers and never came home. I learned that fact through a distasteful joke, in fact, I made to earn a laugh from my father. He did laugh but my Grandma Carol, Ernestine’s daughter, took it upon herself to reveal the severity of our ignorance. She told us how her brother was sent to a resident school in Kansas, a place where they work hard at killing the Indian and saving the man. She told us how her mother never knew how to speak O jibwe, as her cousins did, but could make fry bread quickly, innately, without thinking. All of these facts I use to combat the shameful truth that all I have learned, until now, about being Indian has come from a click of a computer mouse, a talking head on a screen, a recording of an elder two states away. I take comfort in the assumption though, that Ernestine must’ve known how to braid, at least. I cling to all the knowledge I can, I cling to what is left. The braids are finished and they mirror each other in length and precision. They are as tight as I could make them and they show parts of my scalp no one ever sees. When I take into consideration the soft curve of my chin, the width of my nose, the slight slant of my eyes and the smallness of my mouth, I realize I look like the girl named Wendy whose face sits on a sign above a fast food drive thru. At best, I could be Little House on the Prairie, Anne of Green Gables, Dorothy Gale. I look like a person whom the world will never hurt or betray for something so simple as complexion, but instead build stories around, famous stories, though they are never the stories I search for or kill myself to keep. I feel stupid for the times when I think I have to hide a part of me that no one can really see. And when I don’t, I show what I am through beads I hang from my neck and ears. I will post the O jibwe Word of the Day or something to remind people of all the missing and murder indigneous women the govern12
ment has stopped looking for. I will learn a new song from the internet that I will sing casually under my breath, not so loud that my roommates will ask me what I am saying but enough to know that it is not for them to understand. Still, I am not so naive as to believe I don’t carry my family’s spirit inside me. The same spirit that is the strongest part of the earth. I am not blind to the secrets in the foliage, of what the birds signify or what the coyotes lie about. I can reach out and see quite easily the ways my arms are not so different from the branches of the birch. After I take my braids out, the damp, subtle waves brush the soft tips of my shoulder blades, and I leave the bathroom to find my way to the backyard. Outside, the wind has died down only slightly and the sun’s warmth lays into the skin of my exposed shoulders and clean face. I did not put any shoes on, I did not need to. The ground is soft from last night’s rain as I step down from the deck and onto the patchy grass, avoiding the dog poop and cockleburrs scattered around me. I stand before the birch where I trace my hands along the peculiarities of its bark. It is looking back at me as I do this. Baby birds rustle in the nest overhead. Cottonwoods sing in unison in the park across the street. The mud beneath my feet pushes through to the gaps in my toes, pulling me deeper into its mush. I feel I could cry for what has been lost or the strain of my arms and chest and back I feel while leaning into its side, hand catching wrist around the skinny trunk. I could pray to the ancestors marked down in the family records as Clearing Sky, Muskegon woman, Sioux captive and so on. But I do not. I lay my head against the birch and hear the old creak of its roots which say, “we are, we are, we are.”
T h eVi s i o n o f C i n e m a No 1 15
by Bailey Rigby
*This poem uses phonetic transcription based on characters from the International Phonetic Alphabet: [mæŋɡoʊ] → the american pronunciation of mango [maŋɡoʊ] → mahngo [æ] → a as in apple, cat, trash [a] → a as in art, talk, water (similar to [ɔ] as in monster, pond, dog)
[m a ŋ ɡ o ʊ ]
By Victoria Oliveria
My sister says I don’t pronounce it properly. [mæŋɡoʊ] she says, [mæŋɡoʊ] [mæŋɡoʊ] [mæŋɡoʊ], but I say [maŋɡoʊ]. [maŋɡoʊ] is from my mama, from her time in Zamboanga; the Subanen of a missionary girl. [a] before ooh: a quality conversation. The [a] of possible thoughts, of water crawling into my heart as I walk into the tarn. Her [mæŋɡoʊ] sounds angry and sad. It feels icky in my mouth and it sticks. [æ] [æ] [æ] a mad cry for help, and a man with a bat. Mama gave me her [maŋɡoʊ] and my sister got the man who grabs at her with the bat in his hand. [maŋɡoʊ] [maŋɡoʊ] [mæŋɡoʊ]
The tarn bursts its beaches. Water washes over my head, and down the hall where my sister sleeps. [maŋɡoʊ] [maŋɡoʊ] [maŋɡoʊ] [æ] [æ] [æ] cries the man, lungs lighted like a match, belabored breaths from drawing in the juices of my [maŋɡoʊ].
Fa m i l y D i s f u n c t i o n
by Ellie Wardman
Un d e r s t a n d i n g By Vivian Lewis
There must’ve been a misunderstanding, This isn’t what I had signed up for; Translating government documents Before I ever read chapter books, Raising my little siblings and Signing them up for school While I was still learning The art of long division, Being strong, my little hands held The carefully placed bricks That built this house, Hoping that it wouldn’t crumble around me There must’ve been a misunderstanding. I place the flowers on a grave, Marking the end of a childhood That never existed in the first place.
Reaching Eden by Olivia Farina
tw: eating disorders and purging behaviors
i am told by someone too young to hurt that they pick their skin like they are purging infection i want to tell them that i think of purging too shoving my fingers so far down my throat i taste stars and expel gravity sometimes it feels like i can’t eat not that i won’t eat i am not hungry i am starving i just want all of them out of me i need the space (please get out of me) i want to tell this soul just beginning to live that i want to purge too that i have infection to eradicate too that i lost someone at their age too that instead of praying i dry heave on my knees that God stopped listening to me around their age that purging sometimes feels like pruning sometimes feels like growing but they see me as someone much taller than i am they look up at me and see a speck of hope an oak tree a lock of the canal the arms of a clay woman clutching vines the portrait they drew of me in their notebook how can i be that?
T h e G r i m Sp o t l i g h t
by Sydney Kelly
Ey e s C l o s e d
by Annalisa Morganelli
And so, I got her a granola bar, and all I could hear for like, an hour was her crunching on it”, he says to her in a hushed whisper. They laugh and laugh and laugh for what feels like hours. Tears prick my still-closed eyes, and I picture them taking turns holding my heart in their hands and crushing with casual cruelty. I think back to the night before, to when I woke up sweating and dazed. After over a decade of balancing highs and lows, I can usually predict my blood sugar like a magic act. Watch, as the Amazing Annie guesses her number; keep your eyes locked onto her, don’t even blink, or else you could miss it! Look at her silent prayer as she awaits that blinking screen— will it be a perfect 110? Will it be a nauseating 350? Or perhaps, will she shock and awe her adoring audience with a dizzying 60? But this night, diabetes played dirty, sabotaging my performance and sneaking up on me in the false sense of security that sleep brings. With shaking hands, I reached over to my supply bag and performed my monotonous ritual—the one that has left the soft pads of my fingers peppered with clusters of miniscule scars. I load my needle into the spring loaded poker, drag an alcohol pad across my skin, and plunge the lancet into my finger, summoning up a perfect bead of blood to load into the test strip. A few beats, and the screen flashes, a cool blue light flooding the room. “41,” it tells me. I chew two gritty purple tablets and wait, hastily hoping for the influx of sugar to reach
I am reveling in the afterglow of a sleepover. Being fourteen comes with little freedom—except for the uncontrollable, undeniable magic of a middle school sleepover. This morning, my body wakes before I do. Eyes still closed, I feel my arms gently stretching towards the new day, moving only centimeters but releasing the tension from a night slept cramped up on a couch. My feet shift subtly, brushing against the cool leather of the cushion. The unraveled edge of a wool blanket pulled from the back of a hallway closet scratches the bottom of my chin, but I don’t mind. I’m just about to open my eyes when I hear them. He is the boy with swoopy brown hair that he’s always flicking out of his eyes. He is the boy who I spend hours dissecting the newest episodes of American Horror Story with. He is the boy who I do all of my science homework over FaceTime with, both of us grumbling over the stages of mitosis and wondering why it’s relevant. She is the girl with blonde hair that she always wears in a high pony-tail, accented by hot pink fabric fashioned into a headband. She dons a matching outfit with me on our middle school’s twin-themed spirit day. She spends countless hours at my house, the two of us talking about everything and nothing all at the same time. She is who I call my best friend. I hear his voice before I hear hers. “Yeah, so Annie woke me up at like, two in the morning and was like, ‘I’m 41 and I took two glucose tablets, but I still need to eat’.
Hi d d e n
by Liza Martin
my bloodstream and pull me out of this heavy place. Five minutes pass, which turns into 10, which bleeds into 15. I check again, only to find that the number has barely risen. The dreaded “low anxiety”, a jarring feeling of panic, buries itself into my brain. My body roars at me in desperation while ravenous hunger tugs at me from every direction, begging me to eat something, anything, everything. Though I view my body as my enemy all too often, she shows time and time again that she will ruthlessly protect me at all costs. I tiptoe over to my friend, and gently nudge him awake. He grumbles, still in the dreamy in-between of sleep and wake, but ultimately obliges, guiding me to the dimly lit kitchen while I incessantly apologize for trying to survive. He goes back to sleep, and I eat my Nature Valley bar alone in the pitch black basement. In the morning, my eyes stay closed until my friends go upstairs to eat breakfast. Once I’m certain that I’m alone, I gather my things, wordlessly pluck my insulin from the fridge, and leave while they giggle and carefully flip chocolate chip pancakes. Gathering all my courage, I make a group chat and text them later that day. I heard you, I say, I heard you and it hurt me. “Oh, sorry,” they respond. “That’s not how we meant it.” In a private text, my other friend washes her hands of her involvement. “I didn’t say anything,” she reasons. “All I did was laugh.” I picture them both waving goodbye with perfect fingers that bear no marks.
parents, who didn’t seem interested in trying to understand either. While birthday parties were usually a source of glee and excitement for other kids, I began to dread them. I hated having to stop and check my blood every 30 minutes after swimming or jumping around in the bounce castles, knowing that the fun would always be cut short. I hated the feeling of sitting at the table while my peers gobbled down cookies and cake and ice cream and juice boxes. I hated having to sneak away with my mom to get an insulin shot to avoid my peers’ horrified looks and subsequent comments about how they could never do what I do. Eventually, I begged my mother not to make me go. It was easier to stay home—and stay alone—than to feel like an outlier. Nothing thrust my differences into the light like an elementary school birthday party. To combat some piece of my desired isolation, my mom started packing sugar free Kool Aid Jammers in her purse to casually slide over to me when other parents inevitably had nothing for me to eat or drink. This was nothing new for her; she made it her mission to create a sense of normalcy and comfort for me when it came to social events. On Halloween, once I had trudged back to the house with a stuffed pillowcase in hand, she organized my loot, using her pink and white acrylic-tipped nails to split the pile, and then bought each piece back for 50 cents each. I can still feel her hazel eyes reflecting into mine, searching for a sign of contentment. In those little moments, she had the power to fix everything. But beyond that, no matter what my mom did for me, the voices of my peers and their parents echoed loudly. “Ugh, sorry.” I would hear the birthday kid’s parents say to my mom. “We didn’t even think to buy anything for her.
🌢 🌢 🌢 From the moment that I was diagnosed the summer before kindergarten, I found myself existing in a category separate from my peers, feeling like my disease had labelled me as “other”. Like most other chronically ill kids, my peers lacked understanding around my condition. I find myself wondering if they inadvertently learned this behavior from their
🌢 🌢 🌢 In elementary school, every moment of my day felt like it was co-opted by managing my condition. My days were marked by visits to the nurse’s office – once in the morning, once before snack, once before lunch, once 24
before going home for the day, and whenever I felt like I needed to. Every day, before my lunchtime check-in, my teacher allowed me to select a friend to take with me. I joyfully cycled between the same three or four friends in my class, relishing in these little moments of control over the uncontrollable, until the other students in my class began to revolt. “Why don’t we get to go?” they complained to my teacher in front of me. “If they get to go with her, we should get to go with her too.” Just like that, it wasn’t up to me anymore. I had so little that was mine, that I could choose about my illness, and now that had been yanked out of my grasp. My disease had officially been commodified, turned into something that the abled kids in my class got to consume when they wanted to and forget about immediately after. Instead of making my pick for who I wanted to bring with me, I now had to move through my class list, each day bringing a different student to let them marvel at me like a circus act. Some kids stood close and watched in peculiar fascination of what I was doing. Others stood at the other end of the room, face wrenched up in disgust, making commentary about how vehemently they hated needles and blood and how happy they were that they didn’t have to do what I did. Regardless of their reaction, they never truly understood the importance of the moment. “Wow,” one classmate said to me, with a mixture of disbelief and misguided jealousy. “You’re so lucky that you get to eat Skittles in here.”
ers, sprayed on overly generous amounts of Bath and Body Works warm vanilla sugar body spray, lined our eyes with rings of smudgy black eyeliner and set off to circle the track. We lapped the path over and over and over, talking and laughing and trying to impress the boys from our math class that we had met up with. We had been walking for almost an hour when I began to feel it in my eyes. I usually feel it in my eyes first—sometimes, when my blood sugar drops, it feels like my eyes could free fall all the way backwards into the sockets. At first, I kept walking. I ignored my sinking eyes and the cold sweat and the feeling that the earth was rippling beneath my feet. I wanted to take my tremulous hands and grab and stretch the moment that I was existing in, making it last as long as I possibly could. This was a moment in which I had felt decidedly adult – I was no longer in elementary school, instead feeling like I was entering my own coming-of-age movie, similar to those that I had watched hundreds of times. I willed my mind to believe that that sickly feeling in my stomach came from the nerves of trying to impress a middle school crush, not from a sudden and startling lack of glucose flowing through my body. But diabetes works on its own schedule. It didn’t matter what I wanted in that moment. It doesn’t matter what I want in any moment. My body rules my choices in a way that those without chronic illness don’t experience. It goes far beyond temporary discomfort. If I have to stop, I have to stop. If I have to act, I have to act. It is not a choice; it is a commandment. When my blood sugar beckons, I obediently answer it’s call at breakneck speed. I took a deep breath, pulled my friend to the side of the track, and asked her if we could stop walking for a moment while I checked my blood. She sighed, still keeping her eyes on the boys as they half-heartedly lingered near us and re-tied her laces while I drew blood. Just as I expected, the number reflected how low I felt. “Could you sit here with me while I come up?” I asked her, resting on the curb. I folded
🌢 🌢 🌢 By the time I was in sixth grade, I was managing the majority of my diabetes care, which came with its own set of responsibilities and freedoms. That September, my friend and I made plans to attend the annual Relay for Life event. It was the first year that we were allowed to go without parental supervision, and we were delighting in this sweet glimpse of maturity. We laced up our sneak25
into myself completely, desperate to combat my wobbly legs and woozy head in any way I could. It wasn’t just that I didn’t want to be alone – I was scared to be alone. Those lows can take away my ability to think clearly and move around, leaving me stranded. “Well, I wanted to walk with Ryan and he’s starting to walk again,” she said, tilting her head over towards the boys who had in fact started to walk away, apparently deciding that our three minute respite was far too long for their liking. “I’m just going to go walk with him, okay? You’re fine, right?” She had already started to walk away before she finished her sentence. Even if she hadn’t, I already knew that I wasn’t going to say anything to her. I didn’t want to be a burden. This was the underbelly of diabetes that I tried to keep hidden from my friends whenever I possibly could. This wasn’t like trips to the nurse that could get them out of the last five minutes of a boring social studies lecture, or extra candy packed in my bag that I could share. It wasn’t packaged away neatly, unaffecting their lives. So, I did what many people with chronic illness do. I cleaned up the mess myself and pushed it away from where everyone could see. I ensured that their comfort would always come before my safety. I sat resigned and alone, picking the peeling rubber edge of my sneaker and mentally kicking myself for even asking her to stay with me instead of going with them. “Yeah,” I said, watching her move further and further out of my line of sight. “I’ll be fine.”
own discomfort over anyone else’s. I think about how I thought it was easier to be alone. I think back to the hollow feeling that I was burdening my friends and peers simply by existing. I used to resent how my illness made me grow up so fast in comparison to my peers. I doubted that anyone would ever understand how I felt or what I go through. So instead of standing up for myself, I took the punches and forced tight smiles onto my face to mask how I was feeling. I’ve since learned that this is a common experience for those with chronic illness and disability. We tend to expect misunderstanding from strangers and the outside world, but furthermore, we grow to expect that we’ll receive it from those we love the most. I’ve heard something from almost everyone: friends, family, teachers, strangers. Some people try harder to understand than others, but it’s still a disconcerting feeling, wondering if anyone will ever truly get what it feels like. But then something happens. Sometimes, it’s at the grocery store. Other times, it’s at the mall. Once, it was even in the middle of a party. I see a pump proudly protruding on someone’s arm, or hip, or stomach. I tilt myself towards them, showing off the egg-shaped machinery adhered to my own body. Sometimes we speak, sometimes we never say a word out loud. That isn’t important—what’s most important is that knowing look between us, the one that says, “I understand”. We’ve never met, and it’s likely that we’ll never meet again, but there is a deep bond between us, forged by our shared experiences. I know that they’ve spent hours chasing highs and lows. They know the kinds of comments I’ve heard from people. From an outside perspective, these moments probably seem insignificant. A stranger would simply see two people nodding and gesturing towards each other, and then moving on with their day. But it is so much deeper than that. It is community, it is connection, it is everything.
🌢 🌢 🌢 I’ve spent hours living in the past, unearthing these memories, scrubbing them raw to look at them as clearly as I can, and asking myself why I put up with any of it. I think back to myself, saddled with a newfound responsibility and freshly diagnosed only two months after I turned five, wishing that I could play like everyone else. I think back to how I desperately wanted people to understand. I think back to how I chose my
🌢 🌢 🌢 26
I wake up, grab my phone off of my night table, and open my Instagram feed like usual, only to be greeted with a picture of my old middle school friend. He’s cut his hair—now, it’s short and spiky instead of falling right above his eyes—but I’d recognize him anywhere. He’s dressed in a hospital gown, looking gray and gaunt. When I read the caption, I feel like I’ve been transported directly to the Twilight Zone. I scan the words over and over, begging my brain to process the words right in front of me. “I found out I have type one diabetes,” he declares, laying out the story of the recent unexplained illness that led to his diagnosis. I open the comment section, and it’s flooded with messages of encouragement and love. For a moment, bitterness swirls within me, resenting that someone who hurt me was getting the social validation around his illness that I so badly craved. And then I remember. He has now unwillingly joined a club that no one ever imagines they’ll be a part of. Eventually, he will face the same ignorance and mistreatment that I and every other chronically ill person has felt, likely from those who vow that they’ll be there for him through it all. I bury my stubbornness and swallow my pride and scroll through my contacts to find his phone number. “Hi. I know we haven’t talked in a while, but I wanted to reach out,” I tell him. “Obviously I know a lot about diabetes so if you ever need anything or just want to vent to someone who gets it, I’m here for you.” Hours pass before my screen lights up, signaling his reply. “Annie, I completely forgot you had diabetes!” is how the message starts. I put my phone down and close my eyes.
Li t t l e P i t c h e r 28
by Emily Daley
Oak Street by Shauri Thacker
Dusk has stars gleaming, unburdened by the hazy suburban yellows of the block’s corner lamplight. Night falls in the same way soft notes slip songbird-sweet from the lips of a grandmother swaying in the kitchen. Chili simmers on the worn stovetop, scent slipping through a crack in the window. The old home has seen many languid California nights, humid air still, aside from crickets chirping on a mowed lawn. Paradise, rustles the palm fronds, and the girl on the sidewalk carries on.
( Pa g e 3 0) T h eVi s i o n o f C i n e m a No 1 0
Is o l a t i o n S t a t i o n 33
by Bailey Rigby
by Ellie Wardman
Pretty Thing by Maren Logan
To understand the Gallery, you must understand the anticipation. The sweating. The chatter. The headlines flashing across Times Square. Then there were the girls, of course, glistening, shiny, lips like plastic, hair like honey and butter. You flip through the magazine pages, past perfume ads that smell like French lavender or rose petals, to find the list of names, exactly two pages long in sleek Times New Roman. The Gallery itself was in the center of the city, a long white building, Hellenistic in design. My mom took me every year. She would call into work, painted lips smacking as she spoke over the phone, long acrylic nails tapping against the kitchen island. Then we’d drive two hours into the city, parking at the top of those cylindrical parking garages. She’d flash her yearly pass at the orderlies with one hand, grab mine with the other, and guide me down the hallway. It would be completely silent, except for the sound of her heels clicking across the marble floor. We’d spend hours there, observing those girls, my mom mostly criticizing with eloquent diction and imaginative analysis, the tongue of a writer, as if she expected me to take notes. I never did; I was busy studying my mom, the way her auburn hair puckered out of the copper clip she always wore, the way she sneered in disgust or smiled in approval, followed by the tap of her long white fingers against her forearm as she gathered her opinion. The day always ended in cheap takeout, but we rarely ate more than a bite. The anticipation started on audition day, when tall, beautiful women lined down streets, stretching their legs, drinking black coffee, and smoking cigarettes. The process was simple; I
could recite it in my sleep. You walk in, stand in the light, find your light #731! No, closer, look for the X at the back of the room, keep your eyes steady on it. Try not to blink. Can you tell us your name, age, and height? Thank you for coming. Meanwhile, they circle you—they, the critics—slowly, the weight of their bodies shifting and easing across the floor, closer, until you can hear their breath and feel their chest rise and fall. I would know, I’ve auditioned five times already. The first time, I was eighteen, fresh out of high school. I didn’t have a manager or a resume. They asked me my name and I stuttered. The woman, the only woman, snorted. Then she waved her thin hands to signal my exit. The next four times I was more confident. I had a contract with a modeling institution. My manager was a man in his late fifties with a shiny bald head that looked misshapen, alien. I wondered what it felt like to touch, if it was soft like dough or hard like rock. I had money from my job as a barista to purchase luxury, Gallery-recommended lipstick. I used my entire first paycheck on it, then sent a picture to my mom who informed me it didn’t play into my type. I told her she was wrong, that she would see. She was right. When I turned 22, I rented an apartment twenty minutes away. If you preened your neck out the window, you could see, wedged between office buildings, the tip of the Gallery. We were on the twenty-sixth floor, Beth and I. Beth was my friend from college. We met in the same sorority, though she was two years my junior. My mom hated Beth. It wasn’t surprising
by Liza Martin 35
considering my mom’s analytical nature. Beth was tall and skinny, with an oily forehead and a button nose and thin lips she got injections for sophomore year. She was too skinny, my mom said; there was something unnatural about her figure. Everything about her was fake, artificial: the crackled wetness of her bleached blonde hair, and the brittle, clumped nail polish she wore. But I loved Beth. She bought me expensive chai lattes, the kind with whipped cream and cinnamon, and helped me curl my hair when I missed a few strands in the back. Some things annoyed me, I guess, like the way she knew every detail of my life, prying information out of me like a dentist removing a rotten tooth, but I knew nothing of her. My mom didn’t want me to live with Beth, who dropped out to pursue the Gallery full-time on her dad’s money. Hypothetically, she’d drive me crazy with her bottles of goo, her tubs of mango scented creams, her hair all burnt up on the bathroom floor. I thought that was rather pretentious of my mom—wasn’t it enough to just be pretty? Why must beauty be of a certain breed of naturalness? I ignored her opinion and let Beth pick out a nice apartment in a nice neighborhood, ten minutes from our modeling agency, and fifteen from the coffee shop I worked at. As it grew colder, my patience thinned and my layers thickened, but Beth’s squeals echoed in my head, that positive input she always squeezed into a conversation: Fifteen minutes of burning calories! Every morning, when I slid out the door, makeup smeared over the narrow line of pimples blossoming across my forehead: Fifteen minutes of burning calories! Take an extra muffin because you’ll burn it off walking back anyways! Whenever Beth offered me a muffin it tasted like carpet in my mouth. This was a common occurrence in our apartment. Somehow, she always had baked goods lying around the kitchen: baskets of bread rolls, leftover cupcakes from her cousin’s baby shower, or a freshly baked cherry pie the man at the grocery gave her in exchange for her number. The entire apartment smelled like a bakery. And she’d say, slurping a detox spinach smoothie out of a paper straw, My parents worry about me so much, that’s why they lavish
us in carbs. I’m so skinny. But I can’t see why they’re worried. I won’t eat them, but you totally should! Come on, help me out. Eat one. It won’t hurt you. Then I’d take one of those double chocolate cupcakes out of its embarrassingly loud plastic box, plop it down on a napkin, and sit in the dim kitchen light, across from Beth. Oh! Use the Cranach knife. That knife, the adorned one from the drawer, with its golden handle. It was a gift from her parents when they bought her the place, from some kitchen designer with a fancy French first name and last name Cranach; as if I knew which brands were expensive or cheap, she relished in reminding me, her mouth popping each syllable and rounding into a faux accent. I’d eat one bite, feeling the chocolate syrup squeeze between my teeth like toothpaste out of the tube, exploding in my mouth, a sweetness that tasted so good it hurt. Then I’d wipe my wet fingers on the damp napkin, fold it, and throw the cupcake away. You know, you should really finish that; I’m worried about you. The only way you could truly prepare for your Gallery audition was to work with smaller galleries. These were cheap renditions of the Gallery, poor imitations that you booked as a part-time job. I took a job once with a traveling gallery, right out of college. I played a waitress from the 1950s. I got to wear this pink dress with an embroidered apron and ask Would you like a slice of apple pie? Over and over. That was it. People paid to watch me smile and ask if they wanted pie, this ridiculously plastic slice on a plastic tray. Some Gallery critics frowned upon this work as if it made you unclean or impure. But how else would we learn how to smile, how to speak, how to hold ourselves? So, we loved and despised the work. It made girls brag, but also blush in shame. Beth loved working for those galleries. She paced around the living room in her slippers, reading from the scripts our agent gave us, never more than three lines. It was pathetic watching her. She would repeat the lines over and over until they lost all meaning, and pose dramatically in front of the apartment window as if she was the next Audrey Hepburn. 36
Age The gigs themselves sucked. You were like a mannequin on a shelf, repeating the same lines–and maybe two steps of choreography if you were lucky–for hours on end. Not to mention the pay sucked. It was the feeling of people watching you, rich, lavishly dressed men, in their fur coats and silk ties, that was currency. The one downside, and the only downside, to the Gallery was that you would never get to soak in the admiration. You could never hear them say Wow, she’s gorgeous, isn’t she? What a sight. I wish I could hold her in my arms, cradle her body while it was still warm, and feel her heartbeat beneath her skin. If only I could press my ear to her chest and hear one now! Once, on a Gallery trip, I saw a man around thirty, with a thick head of blonde hair and the bluest eyes I’ve ever seen, fall to his knees and weep at the beauty of one girl. It felt unreal, like watching a mortal worship a goddess. My mom sighed and muttered something like
by Alexandra Chi Knee
That’s the only time you’ll ever get a man to beg for you. There was one boy from Detroit who saw my traveling exhibition every day we were in town, pausing at my stand. I winked at him a few times. He was handsome, young, probably fifteen. He told me, I know you can’t talk back, but I just want to say my name’s Axel, and I think you’re really beautiful; remember me when you get off work, OK? And I’ll buy you a real slice of pie. And then he left his number scribbled on the back of an exhibition pamphlet. I never did get that slice with him, but I kept his number in my purse for a while. There aren’t many other men worth mentioning. I met others. In college, I could get a guy to buy me drinks just by telling him I auditioned once. Everyone wanted a Gallery girl. In the city, things were trickier because every girl wanted to be a Gallery girl but, realistically, so few would be. Guys got pickier, felt free to 37
dispense their own critique of you, passing it off as helpful or constructive, or Just another reason you should sleep with me because you won’t meet another man who minds your flaws like I do. We got it. We all got it. We were disposable paper dolls, pretty little playthings. And we had fun with it. Beth went through lots of men, big and small, mostly covered with tattoos or piercings. She called them her Boy Toys and kept them around long enough for flowers and rings and teddy bears, then kicked them to the curb. It was as if every man made her richer, more attractive, better. I was impoverished. There was Edgar, this tall guy with a face tattoo and a thick Russian accent that hit on me once at a club. He was surprisingly very sweet, and when I told him I was too nervous to go home with him, he kissed me on the cheek and paid for my next drink. Beth stayed the night at his place. A few days later, after dumping him over the phone with one of those cherry appetite suppressant lollipops hanging from her lips, she told me Edgar thinks you’re very cute. Would you like me to give you his number? I said no. In my daydreams, I often see Edgar strolling the aisles of the Gallery, wearing that big, ripped leather jacket and a white t-shirt. In the dream, he stops and the blood drains from his face: me, perfectly still, glass. And he cries one tear, perfectly silent, down his handsome, chiseled face. It’s so quiet that everyone can hear it hit the floor. I know I can’t be resentful towards Edgar or Beth. I was the one who was too nervous to have sex with him. It wasn’t like I was in love with him or anything. I am what many men have called tightly wound, prudish, It would do you good to smoke weed every once and a while, you know that? I haven’t figured out why. I suppose I’ve just always known I was crafted to be looked at, not touched. Please refrain from touching the art.
men whose sperm would breed beautiful babies, future Gallery girls. That’s what my mom did. I washed my face that morning—Audition Morning—with water from our filtered pitcher because I didn’t trust the tap. I kept, in a drawer under my sink, a bottle of anti-aging cream my mom had bought for my last birthday. I applied it religiously every morning. It was white, odorless face lotion; I scooped up with my index finger and massaged in circles around my cheeks and forehead, beneath my eyes, and around my cupid’s bow. I worked quickly, for fear of Beth barging in, then slipped it back into the drawer behind a box of floss. Beth entered; her hair parted neatly into sections. She plugged in our old curling iron, innocently eyeing my idle hands. Your breath smells like coffee. Oh. Well, I haven’t brushed my teeth yet. I fumbled around the drawer for my toothbrush. How are we doing timewise? We’ve got an hour. Don’t worry; you look pretty. Beth’s skin looked smooth and shiny, glowing softly around the edges like a highlighter. My mascara had clumped thickly on my eyelashes, and I’d rubbed it off with the first towel I could grab, scrubbing not too hard so that my skin wouldn’t blemish, making my face appear sallow, thin. You’re 23, right? So, it’s one of your last auditions. You’re old. I didn’t say anything; I kept my eyes fixed on my reflection.
My mom died last year. She was 48. Heart complications from anorexia. She’d been toying with eating disorders for her whole life. I remember once when I was maybe thirteen, she bought us everything bagels, with seeds that crumbled from my lips and onto my lap as I ate, layered with velvety cream cheese. It got all over our faces and made my skin feel sticky and oily. Do I look like Santa Clause? She laughed and smeared it off with her thumb, gnawing at another chunk of bread. We were listening to It’s common knowledge that girls over 25 do music and sliding around on the kitchen tile not get picked for the Gallery. It seems reason- in our socks when she caught her reflection able to place restrictions, and it’s not like older in the microwave. She snapped at me. Don’t girls can’t take roles at smaller galleries. Mostly get crumbs on the floor. I sweep all the godthey just quit and get married, find attractive damn time and none of you give a fuck. And 38
she yanked what was left of my bagel from my small hands and threw it in the trash. For the next hour or so, she cranked up the volume so loud it hurt my ears and puked in the half-bath toilet. We were all surprised she made it to 48. My grandma told me it was manageable when she was young; she was just obsessed with controlling what she ate, keeping lists and calculations of calories, regular, teenage girl habits. There were a few hospital visits, separated by a few years each. Then she turned 25, failed her last Gallery audition, and started eating: pasta, burgers, milkshakes, cupcakes, pies. Her doctor diagnosed her with severe depression, so she found my dad and moved outside the city. It wasn’t until I turned twelve that some switch just flipped in her, right back on. For my birthday that year, my dad baked red velvet cake with frosting flowers, but she wouldn’t eat a bite. You don’t remember that kind of thing until it’s too late. At the same time, I was discovering my body: lingering a second longer on the bathroom mirror before I stepped into the shower, pulling at the waists of my jeans. Sometimes I feel grateful because her disease kept me skinny too. I thought about how she accused Beth of having an eating disorder, and how rude it was when she took the two of us out to lunch one day and eyed Beth’s salad the whole time, squinting with each bite Beth took and taking extra care to leave even more leaves in the bowl than her. I guess Beth probably did have an eating disorder, I just didn’t want to know. I tried not to notice what she ate or when she ate. I kept all my meals private, on the desk in my room or at work. I bought fewer groceries than her and found myself hungry at the end of the week, stealing snacks from Beth’s pantry. There was a collection of wrappers under my bed because I was too paranoid that Beth would check the trash and find them lying in the bottom. I would be humiliated. Those snacks were the one thing I thought I’d miss if I was picked for the Gallery. My diet was tasteless, consisting of mostly undressed salads and egg whites. Those snacks were chocolate fudge, ripe and juicy like for-
bidden fruit, but bitter with the taste of guilt. The more I ate, the hungrier I got. I could fall into a pool of that hunger, clawing at the velvety walls of desire, where my feet couldn’t find the bottom. I thought maybe that’s why I could never dedicate myself to a man because I was already in love. I wondered if that’s how my mom felt. If she loved food more than she loved me. There’s a lot of shame that comes with that. But food could fill her in a way my dad and I could never, and I understand that now. I slid myself into my crisp white leotard, one leg at a time. As I did, I realized how ghostly pale my skin was, swan-like. My skin was fragile porcelain, and the veins stared through like lightning across my skin, corpse-like. I zipped myself into my sweatsuit and headed for the door. You look SO pretty. So do you. It’s called the Swarm, and it’s the rush of girls lining up every year. The streets completely close off. Taxis up their rates. It was the Swarm again this time. You could feel the buzz, like walking by a wasp nest—the muttering and mumbling that sounded inhumane—and you got through only by keeping your eyes straight ahead and zoned out. We were zombies, a hive mind with only one thought: keep walking forward. There were always a few girls, new girls, who made the mistake of breaking out, a lapse of judgment that led to a sort of mental psychosis, a coma-like state of fear and jealousy. Those girls would compliment you. You have really pretty hair. A really cute smile. That is the sweetest laugh I’ve ever heard! But they never made it through. Their mind was cracked. There was no cure. Beth and I didn’t stand together in line. She preferred to be as close to the front as she could get. She was confident. I slunk to the mid-back, where I could remain unseen until I wanted to be. There wasn’t an exact formula or good luck charm. There was no science to say if placement changed anything. My number this year was 889; Beth’s was 223. We advanced gracefully, delicate step 39
after delicate step, a dance well-rehearsed. They don’t tell you this in any training sessions, but you are being watched. Pedestrians on the street, following eyes from the windows of taxis, or the windows of skyscrapers, all the way up to the fiftieth floor. And when you finally get to the waiting room, that quaint little room with the white walls and white couch, there’s this big, floor-length window that people can watch you from. As girls shuffle out of their audition, they sometimes stop and look at you, with beady, jealous eyes. It’s like pinpricks. It’s like invisible bugs nipping at your skin. An itch. A tickle. A rash creeping up your forearms, your chest, your neck. I looked over at that window. She was blonde and thin, and she had a strand of hair— you could really only see it when the light hit a certain way—that was too oily. She wore a big gray hoodie that swallowed her angular body, and her hand was in her pocket, poking forward at me. She looked like Beth, only her eyes were glassy, like a doll’s that could roll up into her head any minute. I continued forward. Can you tell us your name, age, and height? I am white, thin, and beautiful. I have two dimples on my cheeks and white teeth. My face is heart-shaped, and my eyes are pale blue. When my face is completely still my skin is smooth and soft and my eyes large and bright. I am petite, but with a small waist that gives the illusion of curve. I am pale so some of the freckles on my body look like dots of ink. When I pull my shoulders back, I look slender and narrow. Angelic. That’s what they called me. Like the dove from Noah’s Ark, an angel on Earth. I know I am beautiful in all the ways Beth is not. And I look nothing like my mother. The judges were three men. One with an oily, slicked back mullet and small eyes. One with a snarl. One with yellow teeth. And then there was the woman. When she looked at me, I felt my skin vibrate, like there was something beneath it, trying to escape, pushing and poking at my tissue. A memory comes to mind. It was a week after my high school graduation, which my mom had missed from her recent stay in a facility for patients with eating disorders. My dad
suggested I pick her up, and we go to the mall and have a “girl’s day.” My mom wasn’t good at shopping like other moms. When the mall got too crowded, her eyes would go blank and her mind spacey. She’d wander around aisles of leather purses and evening gowns with her eyes fixed on nothing. Then she’d force me to try on random garments as if she’d snapped out of the trance and wanted to apologize, but she wouldn’t pay attention; she’d pull and pick at her skin, the way it fell across her stomach. When I asked how something fit, a smile would pull across her sallow cheeks, You look great, honey. You always look great. On the drive, she asked me what I’d eaten that day. I guessed because she wanted to live vicariously through me, to clench her hunger. I told her pancakes and scrambled eggs for breakfast, a salad, the kind with spinach and raisins and pecans for lunch, and then some almonds as a snack. I talked about the way the food felt on my tongue, dry or smooth or crinkled or slimy, and the way it smelled, the potency of my vinegar dressing, and the sweet vanilla from my pancakes. I watched her eyes dilate with each syllable. We shared a soft pretzel in the food court, not wiping off the thick chunks of salt, and dipped it in one of those small plastic cups of cheese sauce. And then a slushie, blue raspberry, that dyed our tongues purple. And then a slice of pizza, without dabbing the oil off on our napkins. She nodded her head and encouraged me to eat even when I was full. I did because I knew if I stopped, she would too. It was like a test. Then she sent me into the dressing room, with a handful of beautiful party dresses, sparkles rubbing off on my forearms as I hugged them to my chest, while she went to the bathroom and puked it all up. I only know she puked because when I stepped out in the first white dress, the one with lace up to my neck and down to my forearms, she smiled with a sugary, shallow excitement, and there was still a sliver of vomit stuck between her teeth. I would kill to look like you, do you know that? How did it go? We’ll see. Beth sat on the couch, 40
eyes fixed on the TV, an infomercial for a new diet pill, a turquoise, opaque pill. It’s really cold in here. She wore a dirty gray hoodie. She was tapping her foot the way she often did when she was anxious. For someone so small, her toes thundered against the floor. I moved to get a cup of cold water. Beth had cleaned out the fridge and refilled the pitcher while I was gone. The whole kitchen looked cleaner. Dirty cups and plates were put away, the clean ones stacked neatly. How did it go? I don’t know. She said that loudly, her pitch inflecting towards the end like she wanted me to ask a third time. How did it go? Good, I think. That man was so into me. He wanted to sleep with me. I hate when they want to sleep with me, you know? You get it, don’t you? She winked at me. I attempted to pour the pitcher into my glass, but the thumps of her foot shook my sore, tired arms and I spilled a pool across the counter. Hey, by the way, I got us a cake to celebrate. It’s in the cupboard over the sink. Do you mind cutting it with the Cranach? I’m so excited. I feel good. I grabbed a paper towel and wiped up the puddle; the paper came up moss green. My glass was swimming with bacteria. I reached up, standing on my toes, to retrieve the cake, sitting on an ornate glass board. I clutched the blurry glass, so tight I was afraid I might shatter it. My first thought was that the cake should’ve been refrigerated; it was too gooey, dripping off its seat and onto my white hands. It was probably very pretty when Beth bought it when the frosting flowers bloomed; now they were rotting and melting into the rest of the mush. I set it down on the counter and gently took the knife from the drawer. It’s chocolate. I know how much you love chocolate. Now I stand on my assigned platform, my bare feet finally adjusting to the cool, marble surface. If I move forward slightly, bending my torso, I can see down the hallway of girls, bare and shiny like me, as smooth as river-worn rock. I can hear the wheels of the Gallery owner, with his big metal cart, bumping gently over each floor tile. It is rhythmic: the rolling,
the steps of his slow, heavy feet, the stop, the sound of nothing; it reminds me of the gentle peaks and valleys of my mom’s heart monitor before it plateaued. It gets louder as he approaches. And there he is, finally approaching me, in a white apron and latex gloves. The cart is empty except for a syringe, long and silver. It’s beautiful, the most beautiful needle I’ve ever seen, long and metallic, smooth and sensual, so shiny I can see my entire future reflected across its skin. It moves with power and dominance, sliding through the air, up to my temple to insert itself. There’s a moment where it clicks, sucking a breath, and then it releases. It hurts but I don’t move. I don’t pull away. I don’t say no. I don’t push him off me. The serum shoots through my brain, thick and hot and sticky like it’s melting my brain. The pain is searing, at first, but then my muscles relax, and I understand what it is like to be beautiful, to be desired, to be loved. He pulls away and moves on to the next girl. The next girl. The next girl. Blurring together, their skin melts into oil like a fresh painting, The Judgement of Paris, the artist at work before me. Beth’s body is rotting on the couch of our apartment. Blood caking her throat. In the ten days since we found out, she has started to smell. Excrement leaks from her pores. Her skin fades to black, just a cold chunk of meat with her Cranach in her throat, like a pig carcass at the grocery store waiting to be shred. Her eyes liquefy into milky pools in her skull. She does not look beautiful and never will. But me? I will be beautiful forever. Immortalized like the Goddess Venus, a nude that will haunt every spectator rich enough to walk through the Gallery. Let them do whatever they want to me. Let their eyes pull me upright like puppet strings, turn my head away so I cannot see. Seeing is everything. Do you understand?
Nu n e h a m
By Zoe Cunniffe After Edward Lear’s Nuneham
soapy colors slather the hazy slopes of the hills as they swoop down into the valley, where the angled sheep-bodies lose their shaded limbs & pricked ears, smudging into bleary half-animals, where the trees melt into an apparition of pale, feathery mint. someone has folded this landscape like a photograph, leaving faint lines, creasing the river-weaves & daubed cityscape into a worn fabrication, resurrected in filmy, forgetful brushstrokes. Lear must know we can never say something as it was. i can tell you that the shadows lay crooked across the lawn; i can remind you of the grass, rustling with august underfoot. i can say that we sifted beneath the pines for some hollow place to lay claim to, but there will always be some scrap of it missing: some whine of summer in the air, some clouded scent, some cluster of wildflowers we trampled over, careless & reeling. like Lear, i’d rather have it without definition: indistinct sunlight, sheep smeared & reclining, & the forest wavering in the distance.
by Betsy Tullis 43
Alexandra Chi Knee, also known as @shewhomakesart on Instagram, is an undergraduate at
Weber State University. Alex loves many forms of self expression, including drawing and dancing.
Carter Crosby studies Musical Theatre and Creative Writing at James Madison University.
He is a Virginia-born actor, singer, writer, and musician– but most importantly, he is the oldest brother to four beautiful siblings.
Zoe Elisabeth is a poet from Washington, DC and a student at Sarah Lawrence College. She has previously been published in literary journals such as Kissing Dynamite, Caesura, Rust + Moth, and Counterclock under the name Zoe Cunniffe. She is also the Associate Editor for Thrush Poetry Journal. Zoe can be found on Instagram at @makeshiftparadises.
Emily Daley is an undergraduate student at Brigham Young University-Idaho. She loves photography, writing, and urban hikes.
Olivia Farina (she/her) is an undergraduate student at Kent State University who is majoring
in English and minoring in Creative Writing. Some of her work can be found in Luna Negra Magazine.
Sydney Kelly is studying education, history, and creative writing at Mount St. Mary’s Univer-
sity. She loves her friends, her students, reading, writing, and the outdoors. She has been published in Moorings and is the Submissions Manager for Lighted Corners. You can probably find her running away from her problems in the outdoors or binge-watching cartoons with her boyfriend to avoid editing her work.
Vivian Lewis is an undergraduate student at Texas A&M University. She loves to read and
write, as well as watch her favorite animes and shows. She is currently studying as an English major, Pre-Law at Texas A&M.
Maren Logan is a fiction writer from Evansville, Indiana. She is currently an undergraduate at Purdue University studying Creative Writing.
Liza Martin is an undergraduate English Literature student at the University of Oklahoma.
After moving to several countries in her life, she discovered a passion for writing, painting, and learning about different cultures. Her pieces are highly autobiographical and usually express her understanding of the self.
Annalisa Morganelli is an undergraduate student at Bridgewater State University. She has loved reading and writing for as long as she can remember and hopes to always live a life surrounded by books. 45
Victoria Oliveira is a first-year at the University of Maine at Farmington, who is double ma-
joring in Creative Writing and English. She spends her free time writing, drawing, and wandering aimlessly in the woods. She hopes to become a fantasy novelist in the near future.
Kamryn Pitcher is an undergraduate at Rocky Mountain College. She loves writing, Vincent Van Gogh, and memorizing poetry to recite at wine night with the girls.
Bailey Rigby is an undergraduate student at Utah State University. Besides walking around
at night with a tripod and camera in hand, she enjoys gouache painting, playing the piano, and listening to Taylor Swift.
Shauri Thacker: A reluctantly poetic undergraduate student at Southern Utah Universi-
ty, Shauri takes inspiration from sifting through dusty records and dining at hole-in-the-wall restaurants. Her work has also been published in The Southern Quill and Kolob Canyon Review.
Betsy Tullis is an undergraduate student at Utah State University. She loves music, painting, ceramics, and skiing Utah’s beautiful mountains.
Ellie Wardman is a queer student from Nottingham, England. She is currently a sophomore at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, and is studying English. Her writing and artwork are forthcoming in Applause Literary Journal, Wingless Dreamer Publisher, Outrageous Fortune, and Welter. She enjoys writing, photography, art, and drinking boba in her free time.
S t a f f a n d Fa c u l t y
Editor in Chief Da ra Lus k
Managing Editor Hannah Lee
D e s i g n Ma n a g i n g E d i t o r Claire Mayf ield
McKayla Jex Beauchamp — Fiction Edi tor Jay Paine — Poetr y Co-Edi tor Claire Mayf ield — Poetr y Co-Edi tor Kyler Tolman — Nonf iction Edi tor
No n f i c t i o n Te a m
Mya Bethers Kyler Tolman Dara Lusk Danielle Bucio Cayla Cappel
Deren Bot t Alexandra Jensen Karissa Benson Melissa Cook Brian Cole
Po e t r y S t a f f
Isabelle Scott Jenni Cooper Stefani McClanahan Hannah Lee Preston Waddoups Andrea Giles Jake Perr y Henr y Hales
Fa c u l t y Ad v i s o r s
Charles Waug h — Fiction Millie Tullis — Poetr y Russ Beck — Nonf iction Robb Kunz — Art and Design
Un l i k e l y He r o o f Im p r o v B e d t i m e S t o r y By Tink Safeer