katopodis lavigne Sianez-De La O johnson angell martin
stork SPRING 201 6
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 email@example.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 © 2016 Stork Magazine Cover design by Bella Bennett Flying Stork image by Tambako the Jaguar Printed and bound by Shawmut Printing, Danvers, MA
MASTHEAD Editors-in-Chief Sarina Clement Maria DiPasquale Managing Editors Kaylee Mizell-Anzick Richie Wheelock Prose Editors Kelsey Aijala Chloe McAlpin Mary Kate McGrath Colleen Risavy Sarah Samel Head Copy Editor Faith Ryan Copy Editors Rachel Cantor Heather Cole
Faculty Advisor Pamela Painter Head Designer Emily Pfaff Design Assistant Bella Bennett Readers Sarah Dolan Angelica Gonzalez Bianca Marrinucci Santana Madeline Poage Tyler Powles Kyla Taub Emma Zirkle
As I write this letter, I am anxiously checking my email as I await responses for my first post-graduate job. This year in particular has been a long one, but it has been good. I’ve learned a lot about myself and what I want to do with my life–which has little to do with my degree. Since joining Stork’s incredible staff as a transfer my sophomore year, I have met so many talented writers, editors, designers, and people. I have loved every minute of it, and will miss Stork. I cannot thank my co-EIC, Maria, enough for sharing the responsibility and joy of running the magazine and the constant support from our rockstar managing editors, Kaylee and Richie. And thank you to all of the staff members and authors I have worked with through the years; Stork wouldn’t be as amazing as it is without you. I will truly miss reading submissions the moment they come in and being able to discuss them with the staff members who are more like family than anything. As one previous EIC had put it, Stork is short on length, long on meaning. This could not be more true as I think back on my time at Emerson and with Stork, and it can be applied to each one of the fantastic stories printed on the following pages. I hope you enjoy the 21st volume of Stork as much as I do.
I’ve been on Stork staff for all four of my years at Emerson. The freshman version of myself walked out of my first meeting intimidated by the poise and confidence of the older members. I had big dreams to write fantastic pieces of fiction and work as an editor. In my time at Emerson, my dreams warped and changed; now, I will no longer pursue a career in publishing, but spend my life supporting workers in the labor movement. But there is one thing that has remained consistent: a love for the act of storytelling. In Stork, I have learned how to help others shape their stories so they can share their truth with the world. I have spent four years surrounded by talented, compassionate people who want to see their peers’ stories be the best that they can be. As an organizer, I will take everything I have learned here about storytelling to help workers shape their stories and share them with the world. I am constantly impressed by the power of story to sway opinions and make impactful social change. I would like to give a heartfelt thanks to everyone I’ve ever had the pleasure to work with on this magazine, especially our 2015-2016 staff who made this last year so fun. Thanks to our faithful managing editors, Kaylee and Richie, for always providing us support. Lots of love and thanks to our design team, Emily and Bella, who made this issue one of the prettiest ones we’ve EVER had. And of course, a special shout-out to my co-editor-in-chief, Sarina. Thanks for always being there to panic, problem solve, and celebrate with. I am in love with this final issue, inside and out. I hope you fall in love with it, too.
Sunscreen by Erini Katopodis Illustration by Stephanie “Ricky” Richards
In Vermont It Is Legal to Go Around Naked, Provided You Leave Your House Already Naked by Carl Lavigne Illustration by Chloe McAlpin
Cardboard Box by Andrew Sianez-De La O Illustration by Ben Patterson
Dubois by Carl Lavigne Illustration by Erini Katopodis
HomeGoods Checkout Register on a Tuesday Night by Kaitlyn Johnson Illustration by Richie Wheelock
Forest Fire by Sahalie Angell Martin Illustration by Holly Kirkman
by Erini Katopodis Illustration by Stephanie “Ricky” Richards
I used to date this girl who would put on sunscreen every night before bed. At first I thought it was just lotion, but the smell was unmistakable, that slightly chemical, almost-sand almost-chlorine scent, and the bottle on her nightstand read SPF 50, with little blue waves drawn on the front. We didn’t even live near water, instead in the shadow of a mountain thick with trees, so it wasn’t as if we needed sunscreen on a daily basis. When I questioned or teased her about it, she offhandedly said it was something she picked up from her mother. That it was better for skin than regular lotion. I didn’t push it, assuming she knew better than I did. At night, I’d rest my chin on her chest and stare at her sharp nose and her pale mouth. All of her was so pale. And her hair was dark, so that in bed at night it looked like her hair was everything, like the darkness was blended in at her roots and tied to her. With my eyes open she looked like winter. But at night I’d close my eyes and inhale and smell the sunscreen. I’d pretend her skin was white powdered sand, that her breaths were waves curling, crashing, and dissolving on some distant shore. One night we went out and drank too much and came home too late and in her exhaustion, she fell on the bed, forgetting to put the sunscreen on. When she woke up the next morning, her whole body—her face, feet, the backs of her hands, her belly—it was all lobster red. Pink, peeling, raw. She awoke and winced and sighed hugely, like it had
happened a thousand times. Which made her wince more. She limped in tiny stiff movements to the bathroom, where a bottle of aloe she had already bought was there. She started to apply it, called me in to get the small parts of her back. I asked her, is this an allergic reaction? Did you eat something funny? Do I call a doctor? And she said no, no, it’s sunburn. It’s just sunburn. Ever since I was twelve, she said, I’ve had this dream. Every night the same dream. I’m walking through a desert. There’s so much sand, and only hills, and no water and it is so, so hot. And I walk and walk until I can’t, I’m just tired. I lay down on a tall dune and the sun bakes me raw. And I wake up like this. It’s okay if you don’t believe me. She didn’t seem angry, just annoyed. The answer came rehearsed, and I wondered how many people she’d had to repeat it for. I asked her about therapists, doctors, NyQuil. And she laughed and said, been there, done that; then she squeezed more aloe into my hands, asked me to get her shoulder blades. That night I didn’t sleep, just watched her and wondered if I lifted her eyelids, would sand fall out? If I opened her mouth would rays of light blind me? One night, months later, I slept next to her and dreamt of a desert. I saw a girl there wandering and it was her. Walking and walking, looking down, holding her arms as if she were cold, but it was to block out the sun, though she couldn’t. And I ran to her and she saw me and her eyes went wide, her sharp nose lifted. She didn’t say anything. I grabbed her shoulders and pulled her under me and made myself shelter her, and I told her, you will not burn, you will not burn. And I stayed that way, hunched, until I woke. We both woke simultaneously, shaken, and looked at each other. My back was red and raw and peeling, and she started to laugh, to hover her hand over my back in awe, to touch my sides so gently. Then we fucked harder than we’d ever fucked, despite the pain, and I didn’t care. She left white handprints on my back and it didn’t matter.
While I was with her, the desert came and went for me. I couldn’t control the dreams or stop myself from entering them, and I couldn’t stop her from having the dreams either. But I did the same thing over and over when I felt the hot sand under my feet: shelter. She didn’t need me to, with her sunscreen, but she let me. Sometimes she offered me sunscreen too, before bed. But I just kissed her forehead and pushed the bottle away. It didn’t come often enough for me to need it. I never dreamt of the desert, after her. Any desert at all. My dreams could be thick forests, prairies, high rivers, but never deserts. Whenever I visit the beach, though, I’ll get whiffs of it. Sunscreen. And I’ll see her face in my mind. I’ll feel her hands on my back, a twinge of pain in the skin under my skin.
In Vermont It Is Legal to Go Around Naked, Provided You Leave Your House Already Naked by Carl Lavigne Illustration by Chloe McAlpin
The old hippie walks his dog down Church Street, hairy body brandished. A neighbor nods and says hello as he passes. A tourist blinks, drops her cone of Ben & Jerryâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s.
by Andrew Sianez-De La O Illustration by Ben Patterson
Mateo, you don’t remember it, but when you were young, I’d pull you down the street in a cardboard box. You’d sit in it, laughing that high-pitched giggle a toddler has, and I’d drag that box to the park. We’d play blissfully beneath the highway overpass that cut through our neighborhood, letting the rumble of cars fill the silence between games. We played while our parents worked. Mom worked at a free clinic treating immigrants who couldn’t afford healthcare. She saved lives, but Dad, he hid things in his car and drove them across the border. Mom ignored the nights he came home late. His bruises and bloody knuckles. She knew the life, she had family who were still in it, but when she found coke in the lining of your car seat, she’d had enough. The night it happened, we were playing in the backyard, beneath the concrete of the highway overpass. We threw rocks at the pigeons above us, but when you came close to hitting a nest, you wanted to stop playing. What you almost did scared you. So instead we lay down in a patch of grass and looked up at our concrete sky, imagining what the stars must look like beyond it. That’s when we heard the window break. Mom had taken a bat to Dad’s car. Screaming about what he had done. ¡Te voy a matar! ¡Hijo de la chingada! The whole time he stood there smoking. The light of his cigarette burning brighter than the stars we imagined.
We haven’t seen each other in years. Dad packed you up and took you away. Mom held me tight, not able to explain. I was too young to understand what stepbrother meant. Too young to realize that it wasn’t blood that made us close, but rather the silence that we filled with our laughter. She’d watch me from the window as I sat on the curb waiting for you to run back home, because I assured her you would. That you’d follow the broken sidewalk home. That you’d follow the train tracks back. That you’d let the rumble of cars guide you. She’d sit there and watch, pulling at the loose fibers of her dress, holding back tears so that I could hold onto hope. At the time, I didn’t know that you were on the other side of that fence. I grew old on that curb waiting for you. I’m a teacher now, at Mesita, what would’ve been our elementary school. I teach kids about words, colors, and shapes. I help them learn how to read and how to write. How to tell their stories. Sometimes, when the kids laugh, I hear you. And sometimes I turn around, hoping to see you in that crowd of kids, still just as small as the little brother I remember. But, of course, you’re not there. You’re grown up now, I’m sure. Too tall to hide beneath our bed. Too old to remember what I promised. What I told you when we held each other tight. What I said to numb the pain, to stop the tears, to help you sleep. How I’d make you laugh even when you were so hungry it hurt. You’re standing on some curb, feeling the hot cement beneath your feet and something deep inside you stirs, brought to life by the cracks and breaks in the cement. Maybe you have kids of your own now. I never could, but maybe you did. Something about fatherhood scared me. All I remember is him driving away. Or the gold cross that hung from his neck. Or the faded tattoos along his arm. Or the way he pushed me aside when he picked you up and took you. How the force of it knocked the air out of my lungs. Maybe you grew older than the memories.
Maybe you made it back to this side of the fence. Maybe you’re living some suburban life in America. The kind where you have a pool in your backyard or one of those play sets with swings and a slide. Maybe, right now, you’re playing with your kids and you look up at the sky and instead of concrete it’s blue. It’s so blue and that’s beautiful. Something inside you remembers; I’m sure of it, because I never forgot. Sometimes I wish I had closed the lid to that cardboard box and kept you all to myself. That I’d kept dragging you down the street. Past the park. Beyond the church. That I’d kept dragging you right outside of the city, out into the desert where the stars were ours. Where we could sit in that box and let the silence be just that—silence.
by Carl Lavigne Illustration by Erini Katopodis
The leaves were beaten like bronze into the dirt where the deer had slept. No new tracks appeared in the last two days. Wilbur expected as much, and moved briskly to reach his treestand before sunrise cracked the hoarfrost. His steel toe shitkickers crunched the crystalized leaves. Wilbur moved the treestand yesterday—no easy task for an old man alone—to where he could see down into the dip between two hills of maple trees. He took a while to locate the stand, its metal ladder camouflaged against the tree bark. Before climbing up to his perch, he noticed something sticking out of the tree. A rusted tap that they had forgotten to pull. The last two years had been so bad for sugaring they hadn’t even bothered tapping tress this far from home. Early thaws and sudden freezes had made him consider shuttering the sugarhouse for good. But he’d be damned if one of the grandkids asked to make sugar on snow and he had nothing to show. He pocketed the tap after pulling it out. Sitting atop his stand, rifle across his lap, he took in the predawn dark. Down in the vale an unfrozen brook’s whisper echoed off the trees, a raging torrent of sound relative to the rest of the forest before it woke. Somewhere down there the deer was probably stretching its legs, lapping at the running water. The smell of damp moss made Wilbur wish his father were still with him. Wilbur’s father once told him that this was the deer’s time of day. They were crepuscular: active most during dawn
and dusk—coming from the French crépescule for “twilight.” Beyond this one lesson whispered one morning hunt maybe fifty years ago, Wilbur’s father hadn’t ever taught him French, despite being a native speaker from Quebec. His father had changed his last name from Dubois to Woods when he moved to the States. states. Wilbur alwayswondered wonderedwhy. why. Wilbur always Today he would get that deer. It was a buck, he was pretty sure. He hadn’t seen it yet, but he knew it was there. The furnace needed fixing, so Wilbur doubted he would get a chance to go out again before the hunting season ended in a week. He wanted to get that deer today. Another rack of antlers for the wall. Too many pounds of venison for an old couple to eat, so he’d give most to the Roberts, and some to the Cicilios; Jean didn’t eat much red meat anymore anyway. Maybe just a glimpse of the buck would be enough. A chance to see it from a distance. The bucks he’d shot over the years had always been blurry and bloody up close. Didn’t look real. He was always shaking—so excited—when he found his kills he couldn’t see straight. Hands on the warm pelt, freshly dead, still hot even in the cold, felt like the heat of a fake fireplace. The waking up early, waiting, wishing the wind wouldn’t change and expose him was all worth it when the trophies were hung. Even smelling like deer piss didn’t matter when the day was won. Morning was coming, a streak of gold across a charcoal sky. Wilbur wondered if deer had dreams. But the thought wasn’t so errant—a memory. David had asked him that once when he was little and Wilbur still took him hunting, before David had kids of his own. Wilbur had admitted to his son, only seven then, that he didn’t know. The honesty wasn’t out of character. If Wilbur had asked his own father, the answer would have been a diffident “Does it matter?” And though Wilbur would have agreed with Old Man Woods that it didn’t, he had never felt the need to tell David that. Maybe he had been afraid David wouldn’t want to go hunting anymore if he learned deer had dreams.
It would be Christmas before David came up from Pennsylvania with the grandkids to Vermont. This year it was the other grandparents’ turn to host Thanksgiving down in Kentucky. Too far to drive, and Jean and Wilbur never liked flying. Looking out the window of a little plane outbound from Burlington International Airport (only international because it had flights to Canada) everything had been very clear to Wilbur—fields of corn partitioned by dirt roads, houses carved out of the forests. He had the feeling he was falling the whole time, even as the plane climbed. Jean had thrown up almost immediately. It would be a fight and a half just to open the gun cabinet with the grandkids around, not to mention how hard it would be to convince David to go out with him. “Shouldn’t we be spending time together as a family, Dad?” David would ask, silently begging Wilbur not to make this holiday dinner discussion about the Second Amendment again. Wilbur wouldn’t answer, not even pretending he would be willing to take the whole family out into the woods. The two hadn’t gone hunting together since David was sixteen, when he had stopped taking interest in the outdoors. And David wouldn’t let him take the kids out either, not even to go fishing in the Old Mill River. Black bears had been showing up all over. Some ate the Halloween pumpkins people tossed in the ditches behind their houses. One ate someone’s terrier. The day was creeping along. The sun unshackled the forest from the frost. A crow coughed. The acrid scent of deer urine was starting to fry Wilbur’s nostrils. He didn’t see the buck. Maybe it had found another dale to bed down in. Maybe the brook hadn’t been enough incentive to stay put. Maybe it was watching him and he was just too close to see it clearly. He scanned the vale with his rifle’s scope—nothing. His legs ached, and the tips of his fingers were tingling cold. “I won’t even shoot,” he said to the wind, laying the rifle across his lap again. “I just want to see you for a second.”
There was no answer. The buck was out there somewhere, a tall tale of an animal. A twenty point crown—the king of the Northeast. The daddy to every other foal come next fall. But he had no need to show himself to his subjects. That he was out there was enough. Wilbur climbed down from the stand at midday. It was time he got back and went to work on the furnace. Another rusted tap was sticking out like a hitchhiker’s thumb in the next tree over. Wilbur yanked it out and put it in his pocket with the other. Maybe David would help him pull taps in the spring when he came up for Easter. A crack in the underbrush made him pause and turn. A northern breeze made the woods waver. He thought he saw something move in the distance—it could have been anything. The ripples in the branches after an overripe crabapple fell. The wake of a black bear looking for somewhere to hibernate. Wilbur waited a minute, but didn’t see anything else. “Maybe next year,” he said. He walked home with that hope.
HomeGoods Checkout Register on a Tuesday Night by Kaitlyn Johnson Illustration by Richie Wheelock
The price scanner beeps. The customer stares. Do you see that damage— Is it possible to discount— One dirty smudge on a picture frame’s glass. A single spray of cleaner. —no discount needed, but I’ll wrap for travel. Paper shuffles, and tape tangles. A card is swiped, red and silver and worn down from use. The register beeps. Debit or credit? —sorry, it’s declined. Don’t know; it says declined. Your machine is wrong— Check again, you’re wrong— The error message flashes. Unable To Process: Press Any Key To Continue. —you’ll have to call them, number is on the back. Rolled eyes. Not even a dime in the wallet. Maybe tomorrow. —sorry, can’t hold this past closing. I live far away— You can’t expect me to— The plastic bag is almost empty, full of worthless knickknacks. Weightless as it is placed on the returns cart. Can’t believe this policy— Expect an email to corporate— The customer leaves. —thank you for shopping with us today.
by Sahalie Angell Martin Illustration by Holly Kirkman
There is a flame at the end of the paper and it dances when she talks. Her teeth are stained with nicotine and lipstick even though I watched her brush them this morning, and the cigarette is slowly disappearing into her mouth. I don’t know what I’m doing here, with this girl, on this bench, except that I couldn’t stand to be inside my tiny apartment any longer and here at least I could see the stars. I am hyper-aware of my body—the way the breeze curls into my sweater and over my collarbone, the slow numbing of my fingers, how my lips are still swollen from kissing hers. We had been here a while, grabbing and biting and trying to feel something besides the cold, until she decided she wanted a cigarette. And I am trying to feel the warmth from the smoke but for some reason it only makes my eyes water. When I was twelve there was a huge forest fire that ravaged Yellowstone National Park. I sat in the passenger seat of my dad’s truck as he drove through afterwards, winding up miles and miles of blackened and twisted trees. It was not just the wood that burned. The smell was a more complicated kind of smoke, of singed fur and boiled sap. My throat burned after an hour. I stumbled around after my dad in one of his too-big ranger suits, rolling up the sleeves to touch all the odd shadow shapes. We found a cache of charred eggs, the embryos roasted in their own shells. My dad thought I was crying, but I wasn’t—I didn’t feel anything at all besides the acrid air burning my eyes and throat.
I start to cough, harsh ripping coughs that make me double over. I can feel her hands on my back and shoulders, each individual finger pressed into the landscape of my bones. She is asking me if I am okay. This is the second question she has asked me tonight. I donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t answer this one either, just breathe and tuck my head under her chin. I have slept like this before, tucked into her like a nesting doll. Tomorrow I am signing a lease on a second tiny apartment, where we will have a view of a tiny cafĂŠ that serves bad coffee and another building with a twisted fire escape. Once we are there we will scrape by, living on canned soup and boxed wine. There will be no money for plane tickets or Christmas trees. We will watch the lights flicker on and off across the city and learn a new kind of loneliness. I think about my family back home in Wyoming and the forest fires that ravaged all the birches and how I am here on a park bench thousands of miles away with a girl who smells like cigarettes. I think about going home, hopping a red-eye and landing back in the forest with nothing but the thin sweater Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;m wearing. I think about wandering through the trees that are just beginning to regrow. But then I remember that this sweater will still smell like smoke no matter how many times I wash it, like the too-big ranger outfit I wore after the fire, which we had to throw out. The bears and wolves would track me down, looking for some kind of warmth and finding only a small, cold girl in a thin sweater. I imagine climbing one of the too-short trees for safety, gripping at greener and greener branches, longing for the old growths that would have taken me as high as I wanted to go.
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 type for this book is UNI SANS, designed by Svet Simov, Ani Petrova (cyrillic alphabet), and Vasil Stanev (font development).