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ERINI KATOPODIS KELSEY AIJALA ANDREW SIAÑEZ-DE LA O CARL LAVIGNE

stork SPRING 2017

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VOLUME 23


stork SPRING 2017

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VOLUME 23


Stork Magazine is a fiction journal published by undergraduate students at Emerson College. Initial submissions are workshopped and discussed with the authors, and stories are accepted based on the quality of the author’s revisions. The process is designed to guide writers through rewriting and provide authors and staff members editorial support and an understanding of the editorial and publishing process. Stork is founded on the idea of communication between writers and editors—not a simple letter of rejection or acceptance. We accept submissions from undergraduate and graduate Emerson students in any department. Work may be submitted at stork.submittable.com during specific submission periods. Stories should be in 12-point type, double-spaced, and must not exceed 4 pages for the “short shorts” issue or 30 pages for the long issue. Authors retain all rights upon publication. For questions about submissions, email storkstory@gmail.com Stork accepts staff applications at the beginning of each fall semester. We are looking for undergraduate students who are well-read in contemporary fiction and have a good understanding of the short story form. Copyright © 2017 Stork Magazine “Origami” icon by Zahi Asa, from thenounproject.com. Printed and bound by Shawmut Printing, Danvers, MA


masthead Editors-in-Chief Kaylee Mizell-Anzick Richie Wheelock Managing Editors Kayla Cottingham Allison Rassmann Prose Editors Kelsey Aijala Alyssa Capel Chloe B. McAlpin Abigail Visco Head Copy Editor Lauren Lopez Copy Editors Abby Hibbard Olivia Martinson

Faculty Advisor John Skoyles Head Designer Bella Bennett Design Assistant Edna Lopez-Rodriguez Marketing Staff Hannah Lee Jamie Wong Readers Brooke Dunn Isabel Filippone Megan Michaud Jessica Pressman Isabel Stewart Faith Tarpley


letter from the editors Welcome to our Spring Issue! This spring has been marked with flurries of activism and snow, as our world reacts to changes both political and environmental. While producing this 23rd volume of Stork, we, like the magazine, began to push into our mid-twenties. Sometimes our years spent in college start to feel a lot like flash fiction. Through the fast times, we grow up, change becomes inevitable, and we are forever grateful for those who, despite the world’s turbulence, take a moment to read and write with us. We have been lucky throughout the years to work with talented and passionate editors, designers, illustrators, and authors to create several beautiful issues of Stork. Now it is our time to leave and turn towards other ventures. Although it’s bittersweet, we’re proud to say that the following six stories are quintessential examples of what we admire about flash fiction. Flash can be a single sentence, a brief tale, or one resonant image. Flash, perhaps more than any other form of fiction, has the power to mark the beats of memory with its snapshots of our world. The stories in this issue may be short, but in their poignant brevity, they take us to surrealist heights, they confront us with tragedy and violence, and they remind us of the small, sensory moments that ground us. We have stories like Testa Di Capra, A Corrido for Maria, and The Garden, all three of which express elements of poetry and music in their prose. We have Pascua, which only needs one page to strike us with sadness and compassion. And finally we have Fingerprints and A View of Mount Mansfield, which deal in realism and present lives that feel


like they expand beyond the text. Before you turn the page, know that this issue would not be possible without our amazing staff. They have been working diligently this spring to critique, edit, and illustrate the short shorts you are about to read. We want to thank the Copy Editing team, especially Lauren, for starting from scratch and working on such a tight schedule. Thank you John, our wonderful advisor, for your enthusiasm and support every step of the way. Thank you Edna, for creating this gorgeous cover concept in the fall and taking it even further this semester. Thank you Bella for bringing your genius to this issue and the last, and for the leadership and mentorship you’ve shown as our Head Designer. Last but never least, thank you to Kayla and Allison, our Managing Editors, for the insight and passion you bring to every workshop. We are thrilled to be leaving Stork in your capable hands, and we can’t wait to see what you accomplish. Signing off, we hope these stories leave lasting impressions—moments you can carry with you through the strange spring snow and whatever May will bring. Kaylee and Richie Editors-in-Chief


contents 10

Testa Di Capra By Erini Katopodis Illustration by Chloe B. McAlpin

16 22 28 32 34

Fingerprints By Kelsey Aijala Illustration by Stephanie "Ricky" Richards A Corrido for Maria By Andrew Siañez-De La O Illustration by Erini Katopodis A View of Mount Mansfield By Carl Lavigne Illustration by Morgan Wright Pascua By Andrew Siañez-De La O Illustration by Erini Katopodis The Garden By Erini Katopodis Illustration by Chloe B. McAlpin


testa di capra by Erini Katopodis Illustration by Chloe B. McAlpin

It was the year I decided to experiment with cooking. After being dumped, fired from three jobs in a row, and then kicked out of my apartment, I needed something I could master. Something I could predict the outcome of over and over. So I moved into a smaller place with a clean kitchen, sold some furniture and my television for cash, and started easy: built up from the omelets, chicken, and spaghetti I already knew how to make. I rolled beef together and made baseball-sized meatballs with cheese and onions leaking out the sides. I boiled huge stews of carrots, tomatoes, pork. There were clam bakes, there were poached eggs, there was plenty. I dropped the trimmings to my cat Jo. I fed the neighborhood and then some. But something about my cooking wasn’t enough. I’d finish a plate and feel hollow after. I’d lie down and not be able to get up again. I thought it was meat I craved, that maybe I was anemic. So for two straight weeks it was pulled pork, roasted chicken, steak bleeding onto my plate. I invited fewer and fewer people over, wanting it for myself. I felt witchy and sharp, closing the blinds and cooking half-naked, feeling the steam of whatever it was envelop me. Jo twirled around my 10


testa di capra by Erini Katopodis Illustration by Chloe B. McAlpin

It was the year I decided to experiment with cooking. After being dumped, fired from three jobs in a row, and then kicked out of my apartment, I needed something I could master. Something I could predict the outcome of over and over. So I moved into a smaller place with a clean kitchen, sold some furniture and my television for cash, and started easy: built up from the omelets, chicken, and spaghetti I already knew how to make. I rolled beef together and made baseball-sized meatballs with cheese and onions leaking out the sides. I boiled huge stews of carrots, tomatoes, pork. There were clam bakes, there were poached eggs, there was plenty. I dropped the trimmings to my cat Jo. I fed the neighborhood and then some. But something about my cooking wasn’t enough. I’d finish a plate and feel hollow after. I’d lie down and not be able to get up again. I thought it was meat I craved, that maybe I was anemic. So for two straight weeks it was pulled pork, roasted chicken, steak bleeding onto my plate. I invited fewer and fewer people over, wanting it for myself. I felt witchy and sharp, closing the blinds and cooking half-naked, feeling the steam of whatever it was envelop me. Jo twirled around my 10


legs, waiting for a piece of this or that. She was glad for all the smells and for the lack of people, too. It became clear to me what was wrong, then: I wasn’t going deep enough. Why did I stick with tastes I already knew when there was so much more out there? I left my block for the first time in a month and went downtown. There I bought roosters with their heads on, black peppers, pig feet, herring, and a hundred other pickled finds. But even before I got home, I felt none of it was right. The trunk of my car was packed and reeking and I still felt hollow. As a last resort I snuck down some alleyways downtown to the Greek butcher I knew, a family friend. There I picked up a pound of goat, and, after a little bargaining, a skinned goat head. I saw it there behind the choice cuts, its little teeth bound together, like it was holding back from saying something. The pink muscles in its cheeks, outlined by white fats and tendon, threatened to go gray. I pitied it. It needed me. When he wrapped it up and I felt its weight in my hands, I was better. As much as instinct guided my cravings, I still had no idea how to cook a goat head. I scoured the library until I found a dusty Italian cookbook that had Testa Di Capra in the table of contents, and took it home. The book instructed me to break the jaw open so I had two gaping halves, and I did, feeling release at the deep crack of it. Next I rubbed palmfuls of salt, pepper and oregano into its cheeks. There was no removal of the hard little teeth, which somehow still grinned at me in two pieces. I felt love for the thing as I set it in a bath of olive oil and red wine and laid branches of rosemary on top. There was something about the eyes that I couldn’t stand to leave, though. They shone like black marbles, like the thing was still alive. I didn’t want to bake them into mush. So although the recipe didn’t call for it, I scooped one of the eyes with a teaspoon and set it aside as a keepsake. 11


The head went into the oven, and an hour later, Jo and I were feasting. It tasted like lamb, but darker, wrapped in rosemary and velvet, enveloping the tongue once swallowed. I slept hard. My belly felt warm and tight, and when I woke up I opened the shades and started cleaning the house. I scrubbed the stained sink, took out the trash that by now was crawling with flies, wiped down the gummy counters. But the eye was nowhere to be found. The little china dish I had set it on was there, some gooey residue from the eye smearing it. On the counter next to the plate, Jo was asleep, satisfied. Six weeks later, things had gone more or less back to normal. I had a new job that I thought I could keep this time, and I was back to spaghettis and steaks, with the occasional appearance of one of the newer dishes I had learned. Jo, though, was not the same. She’d started acting strange after we ate the goat head, being more reclusive than before, hiding under my bed and hissing at me if I tried to pick her up. The vet said this just happens to cats with age. But one night she was acting stranger than ever, walking in zigzags and meowing in a loud, sustained note. I watched her claw and scratch at herself, trying to get at a patch between her shoulders, in the back of her neck. When I reached to part her fur I saw a wet spot. Black, like a marble. A huge goat eye stared at me, blood starting to scab around the lids. I took to tying a ribbon around her neck to hide the eye when friends came over, but by the end of each day Jo found a way to tear it off. The eye was static, never moving or blinking, but it looked the same as it had in the goat head: shiny and alive, like it knew something. And it must have known something. After the eye appeared, Jo picked a different spot to sleep every day, and wherever she slept, accidents would happen. She’d get up from her place on the carpet, and the 12


next day I’d drop a cigarette there and burn it. She’d sleep in the sink and a pipe would burst. Once she even slept in the oven and later when I tried one of the burners, it threw fire at my face. Disaster followed Jo, and though I didn’t think she caused the mishaps, I felt she could sense them somehow; that the eye, which never moved but seemed to survey the room, knew where misfortune would strike and drew her to it. So when she fell into a deep sleep on my bed one night, I was terrified. I could see myself, then. I’d fall asleep and the ceiling would cave, crushing me. Or a thief would break into the house and stab me in my bed. Or maybe a mysterious illness would overtake me: a fever I’d never wake up from. And after, Jo would be alone. Would she mourn? Feel victorious? I wasn’t sure. At this point I didn’t feel like I knew her anymore. I didn’t know whether she’d claw at the door for help if I were hurt, or wait to start nibbling away at my dead toes. I slept on the couch, phone in my hand, ready. But the next day there was no disaster. Not a crack in the ceiling, no murderer, no nothing. When I gingerly sat on the edge of the bed, one of the bed’s legs buckled and broke. Jo scrambled to run out from underneath. As she ran her claws made a sound like cackling. In the blur of her, I thought I saw the eye rolling back to look at me. I thought I even saw it blink.

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fingerprints by Kelsey Aijala Illustration by Stephanie "Ricky" Richards

Emma woke in the middle of the night to notice she’d turned toward the side of the bed, away from her husband. It had been like that since Cara’s birth. Their bodies would shift unconsciously out of the facing embrace that they’d fallen asleep in for the six years of their marriage and the two before that, orienting themselves toward something new. Sean’s hand still rested on her hip, framing the postpartum softness she started to worry she’d never lose, but holding her at a comfortable distance. She stretched her arm toward the bedside table to check her phone, careful not to change her delicate position. It was 3:36 a.m. Cara was sleeping through most nights now, but Emma still startled awake on occasion. Perhaps it was just habit, but secretly Emma thought she was overcompensating, making up for the maternal instinct for knowing when the baby’s in danger, which Emma was terrified she lacked. On the few occasions she woke Sean up during her checks, he always assured her that it was normal for a first time mother to be paranoid about these things, speaking as if this were his seventh child and not his first. It felt that way 16


fingerprints by Kelsey Aijala Illustration by Stephanie "Ricky" Richards

Emma woke in the middle of the night to notice she’d turned toward the side of the bed, away from her husband. It had been like that since Cara’s birth. Their bodies would shift unconsciously out of the facing embrace that they’d fallen asleep in for the six years of their marriage and the two before that, orienting themselves toward something new. Sean’s hand still rested on her hip, framing the postpartum softness she started to worry she’d never lose, but holding her at a comfortable distance. She stretched her arm toward the bedside table to check her phone, careful not to change her delicate position. It was 3:36 a.m. Cara was sleeping through most nights now, but Emma still startled awake on occasion. Perhaps it was just habit, but secretly Emma thought she was overcompensating, making up for the maternal instinct for knowing when the baby’s in danger, which Emma was terrified she lacked. On the few occasions she woke Sean up during her checks, he always assured her that it was normal for a first time mother to be paranoid about these things, speaking as if this were his seventh child and not his first. It felt that way 16


to Emma every time she watched him handle their daughter. There was an effortlessness to his interactions with Cara that Emma couldn’t replicate. Perhaps he got it from growing up in a large family with kids spread out over decades. Or maybe he’d developed it over all those years spent asking Emma if she were ready, if she would ever be ready. Ten months after their daughter’s birth, Emma still wasn’t sure if she knew the answer to his question. There was no doubting that Cara was the most important thing in her life now. But every time Emma looked into her daughter’s eyes, she wondered if that feeling was unique to Cara or if it was circumstantial. Would she have felt the same way if she had held her son in her arms ten years ago? Would things be different now? The thought left a slight panic in Emma’s chest, and she peered into Cara’s crib in search of something to calm her. She found her daughter lying on her back, arms reaching out above her, perhaps reacting to something in a dream. Emma pulled Cara up into her arms and took her over to the rocking chair in the corner of the room. Cara opened her mouth and yawned, scrunching her cheeks and then letting her eyes blink open. She started to make gurgling sounds, and Emma positioned her to see if she would breastfeed. She struggled to get Cara to latch for a few minutes, a difficulty that always made Emma feel inadequate, but Cara eventually settled into the right position. The rhythm of her daughter feeding calmed Emma slightly, and she told herself that a nineteen-year-old’s arms would not have been strong enough for this. They would not have been able to handle the weight of a child’s future, when she had not yet figured out her own. She told herself that she had done the responsible thing; the couple she gave him to was able to give him a better life than the one she could have provided. She told 17


herself all the things she already knew and had been told by countless others over the years, but which still could not calm her biggest guilt. Why had she never reached out to him? Emma thought back to something her friend Bianca had told her in parenting group that morning. They were holding their babies up, helping them work their legs and get used to standing, when Bianca took her son’s outstretched hand and held it in her own. She played with each of his pudgy fingers and said, “Fingerprints are formed in the womb, you know? I just think that’s so incredible. Like they have these special marks that mean they’re ours.” Emma couldn’t get the image out of her mind. The baby’s soft kicks and pushes absorbing texture, forming ridges. The marks left a permanent reminder of their first home. They couldn’t escape from it, that permanent tie. Emma’s mind went back to her only memory of her firstborn, sticky with blood and vernix—that cottage cheese-like substance she didn’t have a name for then but had read all about this time around—as the nurse took him away to be cleaned. The nurse came back in with him some time later, asking if she wanted to hold her baby. She said no, he wasn’t hers, but couldn’t resist turning her head at the last moment, catching sight of a small hand that had come un-swaddled, fingertips outstretched awkwardly, unfamiliar with this world. She wondered if he knew how they formed. If someone ever told him where they came from. She wondered if he asked. Maybe he did. And maybe when he found out, he decided to light a candle, put his fingers to the flame, and burn away any trace of the connection he never had a chance to have. As she rocked with her daughter, attached in a way that made Emma feel just as dependent on Cara as Cara was 18


on her, Emma wondered if the baby’s fingers left marks too. Were there mirror images repeated thousands of times over inside of her? Were they still there after ten years, mingled with Cara’s fresh ones? Or were they a faded coat of paint, wallpapered over by a new life? She woke some time later to Sean’s hand nudging her. Cara was nestled in his other arm, asleep once again. “You fell asleep feeding her,” he told her. “It’s okay, I don’t think it was for long. Come back to bed.” Emma nodded and looked down at her exposed chest, where red grooves were pressed into her breast. As she got up, she brushed her fingers over the marks Cara left before covering herself and settling into bed.

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a corrido for maria by Andrew Siañez-De La O Illustration by Erini Katopodis

It’s Saturday night and Alberto is standing outside Maria’s window with his three best friends. The group, armed with a guitar, a trumpet, an accordion, and Alberto’s voice, fills the neighborhood with music. He and his friends are wearing their freshly cleaned and pressed Mariachi outfits, white shirts peeking out beneath black jackets with bright gold trim and large red bows around their necks. Alberto is singing a corrido, a ballad telling a story of love just beyond the horizon, a couple separated by lines in the sand. As Alberto sings, he rubs soft circles into the buttons of his jacket. He does this when he’s nervous, when he’s scared. Maria is everything to him. Of course, to a high school boy, a pretty girl is everything, but Maria is different. She’s family. He’s known her for years. But now she wants to leave. Go to college somewhere up north, beyond the mountains and deserts of El Paso. So they fought. She wanted more than this city could offer and Alberto couldn’t understand that. He could only look at her acceptance letter and ask, “Why aren’t I enough?” Alberto reaches the point in the corrido where the young lovers sing their apologies into the wind, sweet words of sor22


a corrido for maria by Andrew Siañez-De La O Illustration by Erini Katopodis

It’s Saturday night and Alberto is standing outside Maria’s window with his three best friends. The group, armed with a guitar, a trumpet, an accordion, and Alberto’s voice, fills the neighborhood with music. He and his friends are wearing their freshly cleaned and pressed Mariachi outfits, white shirts peeking out beneath black jackets with bright gold trim and large red bows around their necks. Alberto is singing a corrido, a ballad telling a story of love just beyond the horizon, a couple separated by lines in the sand. As Alberto sings, he rubs soft circles into the buttons of his jacket. He does this when he’s nervous, when he’s scared. Maria is everything to him. Of course, to a high school boy, a pretty girl is everything, but Maria is different. She’s family. He’s known her for years. But now she wants to leave. Go to college somewhere up north, beyond the mountains and deserts of El Paso. So they fought. She wanted more than this city could offer and Alberto couldn’t understand that. He could only look at her acceptance letter and ask, “Why aren’t I enough?” Alberto reaches the point in the corrido where the young lovers sing their apologies into the wind, sweet words of sor22


row on the cold night air. A viejita in the home next door comes out onto her porch, crying because she hasn’t heard that song in years, not since her husband passed. She sits, wiping away her tears with a small, worn handkerchief, whispering the lyrics through the lace. Chuy, the young man playing the guitar, is biting his bottom lip because this song reminds him of his sister. It’s the song she danced at her wedding when she married the rich man from Odessa, the one with the torn lip and fading brown hair. The man who whispered these words into her ear until she walked down that aisle and right out of the city. Alberto hits a note so beautifully that even the cats stop howling. Maria’s window is still dark. Luciano, the friend with the accordion, stretches the note like fabric in the wind, light and soft and blending into the night. His ribcage shakes with every bellow of the accordion. It reminds him of grass against his skin, like the days he used to roll down the hills of Ascarate Park, before they started using pesticides to kill the bugs. Before the rashes on little kids. He brings the accordion back in, as if the instrument and Alberto are inhaling as one, and the song continues into the final act, where the two lovers are reunited, embracing in the river beneath the rising sun. Sonya, the girl on the trumpet who can’t remember the last time she took a breath, pushes through a loud, brilliant note, the sound a star must make as it streaks across the sky. Sonya is playing her mother’s trumpet, old and brass. She spent the entire day tending to it, cleaning the pipes and tuning the valves as she hummed the notes of the song. Her hands shake as she holds the trumpet to her mouth, as she counts exactly how many days it has been since her mother passed. Sonya inhales the cold night air as Maria’s bedroom 23


light flicks on. As the window opens, the group grows quiet. Sonya licks her parched, aching lips. Luciano shifts the weight of the accordion so it no longer cuts into his shoulder. Chuy pulls a new pick from his back pocket to replace the half broken one in his hands. Alberto takes off his sombrero, a beautiful black and gold hat that shines brilliantly in the moonlight, and wipes the sweat from his forehead. Even the viejita, whose blouse is stained with tears, rises to her feet. She looks to the window to see the object of this man’s affection. To see what she was sure to be a beautiful woman, an angel like she once was many years ago, when love songs were written for her. Maria appears in the window. She doesn’t look at Alberto, or the others, or the viejita. Instead she stares down into the dirt, at Alberto’s freshly cleaned boots, and sighs. A cat begins to howl as Maria speaks. “Alberto, I told you, we’re through.” “But—” “Get outta here Alberto, go home.” Alberto watches as she turns away, watches as her long, dark brown hair disappears into her room. He remembers all the years he spent staring at the back of her head. Whether it was in class or in church, it took years before Alberto worked up the courage to ask her out. He still remembers his sweaty hands and the way he couldn’t control the words coming out of his mouth. The way she laughed at him. The way she lifted his chin with her finger and said, “Yes tonto, I’ll go out with you.” The air is still and no one wants to be the first to move. Finally, it is the viejita who leaves. She wipes small tears from her eyes and whispers, está bien, as she closes shut her screen door. Alberto places the sombrero back onto his head, grateful 24


for the wide brim that now hides the thick tears running down his cheeks. He turns away and walks down the street, beneath the shadow of the highway overpass. Luciano and Sonya each place a hand on Alberto’s shoulders as they walk alongside him. Chuy stays behind, still staring up at Maria’s open window. The light clicks off as he digs his feet into the dirt and plays the final notes of the corrido. The lovers, finally reunited, sink into the river as the current takes them.

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a view of mount mansfield

by Carl Lavigne Illustration by Morgan Wright

We sat on the hood of my hand-me-down Honda Civic, waiting for the tow truck to come. It was the simmering end of summer in September and we were already sick of sophomore year at Lyndon State. I clenched my hands and seethed at the burning pain in my palms. “How are they?” Ella asked. I showed her their glistening, blistered skin. “Geez, Antonia.” “It was a stupid thing to do,” I admitted. “If you didn’t do it, I would’ve,” she said, smiling. She only said it to make me feel better; she would have driven around the muffler that had fallen off someone else’s car, instead of driving right over it. We would learn later that the muffler jammed the drive shaft up against my car’s undercarriage, nipping our trip to Burlington in the bud. The car had screamed to a stop as I pulled us off Route 100. I wanted to hurl the stupid muffler into the ditch, but when I picked it up the hot metal burned my hands. I had to settle for kicking it—stubbing my toe. “I’m really sorry,” I said, clenching my hands against the pain again. It felt better that way—to hurt. Chittenden 28


a view of mount mansfield

by Carl Lavigne Illustration by Morgan Wright

We sat on the hood of my hand-me-down Honda Civic, waiting for the tow truck to come. It was the simmering end of summer in September and we were already sick of sophomore year at Lyndon State. I clenched my hands and seethed at the burning pain in my palms. “How are they?” Ella asked. I showed her their glistening, blistered skin. “Geez, Antonia.” “It was a stupid thing to do,” I admitted. “If you didn’t do it, I would’ve,” she said, smiling. She only said it to make me feel better; she would have driven around the muffler that had fallen off someone else’s car, instead of driving right over it. We would learn later that the muffler jammed the drive shaft up against my car’s undercarriage, nipping our trip to Burlington in the bud. The car had screamed to a stop as I pulled us off Route 100. I wanted to hurl the stupid muffler into the ditch, but when I picked it up the hot metal burned my hands. I had to settle for kicking it—stubbing my toe. “I’m really sorry,” I said, clenching my hands against the pain again. It felt better that way—to hurt. Chittenden 28


County, that lone center of civilization in the Green Mountain State, was now out of reach—though it was only an hour away. We wouldn’t get to walk the waterfront for the weekend, or stroll down Church Street, licking cones of Ben & Jerry’s. “It’s fine,” Ella said. “I’m just worried about your insurance.” “You’re not worried the tow truck driver could be a serial killer?” I asked. She laughed—it reminded me why I hung out with her. “Well, we’ve got the cows and crows for witnesses.” A pasture spread down the hillside, dotted with a few brown cows. Two birds flitted overhead; we couldn’t be sure they were actually crows. In the distance a wisp of cloud floated around Mount Mansfield’s peak. “Maybe it wouldn’t be such a bad place to die.” She lay back on the windshield. I wasn’t so sure she was right, but she’d always been the optimist, even about dying young and dumb. “I guess we won’t have to drive through city traffic now,” I said, searching for the silver linings she was always so good at finding. “Or pay for shitty, overpriced coffee.” “Or walk through the cloud of spliff smoke that is UVM.” A chuckle. “You know, according to the US Census Bureau, Burlington isn’t even big enough to be classified as a city. There are no cities in Vermont.” “Really?” she asked. “Huh.” “We’d probably run into people I went to high school with and hated; it’s so small.” I’d been to Boston a few times and considered myself pretty cultured. “Trying to get away from anyone in Vermont is impossible,” Ella agreed. “Knowing my luck we’d probably have crossed paths with 29


my old friend from home.” “Sydney? You used to talk about her all the time.” My cheeks got hot. I didn’t realize I was so obvious. “Well, we don’t really talk anymore. We went separate ways in high school.” “Oh,” Ella said, sadly. “I always wanted to meet her.” The tow truck came. We slunk back to Lyndonville. My car would be stuck in the shop for a week at least. The weekend and my bank account was shot. We wandered around Ocean State Job Lot, got Chinese food from the Lucky Buffet. Ella spotted me the money after I politely declined ordering anything. I called my parents and told them about the car. A year later, we worked up the courage to risk romance between us. We made that same drive. I drove with one hand on the wheel and the other in Ella’s hand. And when we crested that hill, its cows and crows in place, Mount Mansfield still standing, we told the story of how I thought nothing could stop me from going where I wanted. How this place always finds a way to hold on to a part of you. My palms tingle from time to time.

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pascua by Andrew Siañez-De La O Illustration by Erini Katopodis

It’s Easter Morning and the sun is rising on Highway 375, which splits the cities of El Paso, Texas and Ciudad Juárez, Mexico. A body swings beneath the Paso Del Norte Port of Entry, a bridge that unites the two countries. The body casts a long shadow on the sidewalks below, on the families walking to church. Mothers cover their children’s eyes while their husbands make the sign of the cross. From his bedroom window, José stares out at the body. It is wearing his father’s jacket. His father’s hat. José can’t wait for his father to come home and see this. Police cars fly by San Ignacio Church as the congregation gathers. It’s Easter Morning and we pray.

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pascua by Andrew Siañez-De La O Illustration by Erini Katopodis

It’s Easter Morning and the sun is rising on Highway 375, which splits the cities of El Paso, Texas and Ciudad Juárez, Mexico. A body swings beneath the Paso Del Norte Port of Entry, a bridge that unites the two countries. The body casts a long shadow on the sidewalks below, on the families walking to church. Mothers cover their children’s eyes while their husbands make the sign of the cross. From his bedroom window, José stares out at the body. It is wearing his father’s jacket. His father’s hat. José can’t wait for his father to come home and see this. Police cars fly by San Ignacio Church as the congregation gathers. It’s Easter Morning and we pray.

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the garden by Erini Katopodis Illustration by Chloe B. McAlpin

A week after my husband’s funeral, I began my work. His clothes and knickknacks and toiletries I left untouched. But into his greenhouse I brought a hotplate, a set of kitchen knives, a pot, salt, and pepper, a liter of oil, and a sleeping bag. It seemed like a lot piled in the car, but compared to the greenhouse, which was at least double the size of our house, it felt like a meager supply. But it didn’t matter; I was determined. Before the greenhouse, his hobby had started as a little window-box in our living room. But a window-box became a plot became a garden became a shed became a greenhouse. Somewhere between the fifth and sixth year of marriage it became commonplace that he’d disappear for hours at a time, and come back smelling like dirt and fertilizer in the dead of night. He’d fall on the bed like that, filthy, exhausted. I didn’t get it. I tried to join him a couple times, to see what he saw, but it was just mud to me, just things. Sometimes I wished there were another woman. At least then he’d have a good excuse to be away from me. The warmth of another body: that slick, sometimes irresistible feeling of transgression. Instead he spent hours standing alone a few miles down 34


the garden by Erini Katopodis Illustration by Chloe B. McAlpin

A week after my husband’s funeral, I began my work. His clothes and knickknacks and toiletries I left untouched. But into his greenhouse I brought a hotplate, a set of kitchen knives, a pot, salt, and pepper, a liter of oil, and a sleeping bag. It seemed like a lot piled in the car, but compared to the greenhouse, which was at least double the size of our house, it felt like a meager supply. But it didn’t matter; I was determined. Before the greenhouse, his hobby had started as a little window-box in our living room. But a window-box became a plot became a garden became a shed became a greenhouse. Somewhere between the fifth and sixth year of marriage it became commonplace that he’d disappear for hours at a time, and come back smelling like dirt and fertilizer in the dead of night. He’d fall on the bed like that, filthy, exhausted. I didn’t get it. I tried to join him a couple times, to see what he saw, but it was just mud to me, just things. Sometimes I wished there were another woman. At least then he’d have a good excuse to be away from me. The warmth of another body: that slick, sometimes irresistible feeling of transgression. Instead he spent hours standing alone a few miles down 34


the road, measuring and sprinkling and pruning. Mornings he went to see the hibiscus and hyacinth and peonies unfurl; nights he couldn’t stand to miss his jasmines and moonflowers blooming as the others closed. At least that’s what he told me. Meanwhile I felt myself opening and closing, pacing the house, stewing in his absence. I imagined his frame dipping and bending over the plants, his hand palming a leaf. I put my body in those plants instead. Fantasized my skin growing raised veins, becoming translucent, that he’d come home and finally touch me, even if it was just to brush away dew. Now that he was gone, it wasn’t enough to let his plants wither, to stop watering them and watch them die. It wasn’t personal enough. Instead I was going to eat every square inch of the place. I was going to devour his plants. I was going to have him the only way I could now: secondhand. I decided my work would take about a month. It was a lot to eat, after all; but first and foremost, I wanted the place to stop looking so pretty. So my first few days and nights there I didn’t bother cooking. Instead I plucked anything bright and popped it into my mouth. I couldn’t help but name each thing as I ate it. Even when my husband did come home, it was all he talked about and though I was too stubborn to ever visit the place with him, I had this borrowed knowledge of them all. I tasted furry lavender and passed bundles of chrysanthemums through my throat, chewing up petals into a fine pulp. Some flowers were bitter, some full of pollen I rolled around my cheeks, some so sweet I needed to crouch near the hose for long periods, gulping water in gasps. It was too bright, all of it, the little clouds of baby’s breath curling around a windowsill, the delicate stars of vervain, the blue waxy shine of the bellflowers. I had the passing thought that some might be poisonous, but I kept eating, grabbing fistfuls of marigolds and twisting off the heads of snapdragons. If I 35


felt sick I kept down the bile. After finishing the flowers and eating my way through the zucchini, tomatoes, carrots, eggplants, radishes, onions, and every other vegetable, I started cooking the plants themselves. I pulled shoots out of their pots, soaked them in saltwater over flame, and fried them with the oil I brought along. Some of the leaves were hard to chew, with little red and green spines. Some of the stems refused to soften in water. Once I think I ate a caterpillar by accident, while I was trying to make a salad of vines, swirling them around my fork like spaghetti. In a week and a half I was making a dent in the place and the sun no longer broke through the ceiling in dappled hints, but in unfiltered shafts of light. The only things that slowed me were the roots. I had a pile of them growing in the corner, starting to look like a bunch of strange white spiders, or a nest. But when I ate my first root, from the base of a white lily, I heard something. Words. I couldn’t tell if it was malnutrition or what it actually sounded like: my husband’s voice, whispering into the plants to help them grow. Eventually the shoots and stems and leaves ran out. The glass cleared and I was exposed to the outside. All that remained were empty pots and dirt and the piles and piles of roots. Two, three weeks passed, and my sleeping bag stank, my nails were long, my hair tangled. I paced, imagining myself as a beast suddenly realizing that with the foliage gone it lived in a cage, not a forest. The only way out, though, was through the roots. So I sat cross-legged and took a small cloud of them in my hands, rinsed off the dirt, and set them in my pan with hot oil. I heard words, definitely in his voice. Just echoes. Grow, tall, and tired came up a few times. There was cold, wet, why. Sun. Far. A string of curses: fuck, shit, goddamn. There was 36


good, yes, then sugar, honey, sweetheart, which made me chew faster and hurt. It was hard work. It took all day to chew through them one at a time, and I felt lightheaded. At the end of it there was a root bigger than all the others that I’d been too intimidated to touch, one that thickened in some places and thinned in others. I think it had been tomatoes; I remember their color, a deep muscle-red, how I was surprised so many fruits could attach to one plant when I dug it out. It spiraled into hair-like tendrils but wouldn’t separate into smaller pieces. So I boiled it down as much as I could, rolled it into a ball the size of two fists, and took it in bites. It sounded like the other roots, a word. But I couldn’t hear it as well. And this time it was sung, not said. First it was muffled, the sound of a train passing far away. But as I chewed it got brighter, clearer. And it was sound and it was words and it was my name. Over and over, my name, like a prayer. Suddenly I felt warm, embarrassed. And I could see him, just his face, just his lips, mouthing the letters. Head craned forward. Like there was something he wanted to reach, but could not.

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about the authors KELSEY AIJALA is a junior Marketing Communica-

tions major who spends all of her time doing WLP activities. She has been on the Stork staff since her first semester at Emerson and could not be more excited to have her work published in a magazine that is so dear to her. In her free time she likes to...just kidding, what is free time?

ERINI KATOPODIS is a senior at Emerson College, graduating in 2017 with a BFA in Writing, Literature, and Publishing, and a minor in Music. She enjoys magical realism, poetry, and illustrating the works of her fellow authors.

CARL LAVIGNE is a graduate of Emerson College. He

grew up in Vermont. He has twice been a finalist for Glimmer Train's Award for New Writers.

ANDREW SIAĂ‘EZ-DE LA O is a Chicano actor, de-

signer, and writer from El Paso, Texas. He’s experienced the disparity of the border, with family on both sides, and hopes that his writing can help share his culture. Andrew will graduate in 2017 with a major in BFA Theatre and Performance and would like to thank his family and friends for their continued support.

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about the type The running text for this issue is set in Adobe Caslon Pro, designed for Adobe by Carol Twombly based on specimen pages by William Caslon between 1734 and 1770. The display types for this book are Audrey, designed by Cristina Pagnotta, and ANDIS LIGHT, designed by JAM Type Design.

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issuu.com/storkstory facebook.com/storkmagazine twitter.com/storkmagec 43

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ERINI KATOPODIS KELSEY AIJALA ANDREW SIAÑEZ-DE LA O CARL LAVIGNE

stork SPRING 2017

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VOLUME 23

Profile for Stork Magazine

Stork Magazine Issue 23  

Read and enjoy these flash fiction stories by four of Emerson’s most talented undergraduate writers!

Stork Magazine Issue 23  

Read and enjoy these flash fiction stories by four of Emerson’s most talented undergraduate writers!

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