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Cel ebrat i ng 78 Y ears o f P u bl i CATION

the art and Literary Magazine of Morningside College

2016


“A word is dead When it is said, Some say. I say it just Begins to live That day.” Emily D ickinson

On the Cover Breaths Between by Anna Ryan white conté on black paper

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“A word is dead When it is said, Some say. I say it just Begins to live That day.” Emily D ickinson

On the Cover Breaths Between by Anna Ryan white conté on black paper

2

Kiosk16


Volume 78 2016

the art and Literary Magazine of Morningside College

4

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Kiosk15

5


Volume 78 2016

the art and Literary Magazine of Morningside College

4

Kiosk16

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5


Staff

Letters From the Editors Amanda Girres Amy Carothers, Allison Linafelter, Jocelyn Wolff Brianna Harding

EDITOR-IN-CHIEF ASSISTANT EDITORS VISUAL EDITOR

FICTION

NON-FICTION

Associate Editor

Associate Editor

Amy Carothers

Jocelyn Wolff

Board Members

Tyler Gandy Ashley Stagner Sondra Thoreson

Jared Martin Shelby Small

POETRY

COPY EDITORS

Associate Editor

Madison Monahan Kayla Perkins Mariah Wills

Allison Linafelter Board Members

Board Members

Amanda Cummings Rachel Chamberlain Alexi Malatare

Heather Eisele Megan Gies Nicole Loe Daphney Miller ART

Associate Editors

Kenna Lammers Kelsey Ahart Nicole Loe

FACULTY ADVISORS

Steve Coyne John Kolbo Terri McGaffin

About Our Judges: Patrick Hicks is the Writer-in-Residence at Augustana University in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, where he teaches creative writing and Irish Literature courses. He is also a faculty member of the MFA program at Sierra Nevada College in Incline Village, Nevada. Hicks is the author of over ten books, and his work has appeared in a number of literary journals, including Ploughshares, Glimmer Train, The Missouri Review, The Georgia Review, and more. A winner of the Glimmer Train Fiction award, he has also been a finalist for the High Plains Book Award, the Dzanc Short Story Collection Competition, and the Gival Press Novel Award. Catelin Drey is a 2010 graduate of Morningside College. She currently owns and operates Shirley Chic, a Sioux City based photography studio that specializes in portraiture. When she’s not running her business, she is heavily involved in the Siouxland area’s civic organizations, and is an ardent supporter of local small businesses. She enjoys red wine and making old things new. Kent McCuddin has worked in the advertising and marketing industry for 25 plus years with a comprehensive background in brand and marketing communications. He has won more than 100 creative awards with his work appearing on five different continents in multiple languages. He has been a creative thinker on both the agency and client side for organizations including Fortune 500 company. Kent has developed and taught various classes and workshops on graphic design, creative thinking and general problem solving. He has been an adjunct lecturer at Morningside College, guest speaker at various colleges, a featured speaker at TEDx Omaha, and has spoken at multiple national conferences and workshops. 6

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On August 9, 2014 in Ferguson, Missouri, a police officer shot and killed weaponless African American teenager Michael Brown. Enraged by the event and the American justice system, Missouri protestors spraypainted a powerful line from Suzanne Collins’s dystopian novel The Hunger Games on the site of the St. Louis Arch. It read, “If we burn, you burn with us.” This novel, which depicts poor, oppressed citizens rebelling against a cruel and unjust government, inspired the people of Ferguson to stand together and fight for justice. Perhaps this event suggests that stories hold a surprising amount of truth. Just as the world around us influences the stories we tell, the stories we tell influence the world around us. The characters, places, events, and conflicts become real through the messages and lessons they teach us. While we may not have as much influence as authors like Suzanne Collins, I believe that this year’s Kiosk does an exceptional job of embodying this idea. Our magazine is filled cover to cover with talent, and perhaps these intriguing, thought-provoking stories will allow you to become, if for only a moment, a young girl growing apart from her father, a teenager experiencing the death of a loved one, or a young injured boy who believes he is dying. Maybe our stories will inspire you to pursue a profession, stand for a cause, or better appreciate a family member. This year marks the 78 th volume of the Kiosk magazine and therefore the 78 th year that Morningside College has been able to share its stories with the community. I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to continue this tradition. However, I could not have done it alone. I would like to thank everyone who has made this year’s Kiosk possible, including all of the magazine’s associate editors, copy editors, and board members. Without all of their hard work and valuable input, this magazine would not exist. I would also like to thank English Administrative Assistant Marcie Ponder for helping me put paperwork together on numerous occasions and for helping out with various other tasks. Thanks also to Dr. Steve Coyne for acting as my advisor in both my academics and the Kiosk. I’m fairly certain that had I never had him as an instructor, I would not have seized the opportunity to work on this magazine. A special thanks to Morningside College President John Reynders for supporting the magazine and making it possible year after year. Thanks also to Brianna Harding, John Kolbo, and Terri McGaffin

of the art department. I have enjoyed working with Brianna this year, and the art she chose really helps bring words to life and life to words. I hope that as you read through our magazine this year, you’ll appreciate the influences of a story, real or fictional. I hope that some theme, character, or event will resonate with you as a reader and that you will carry it with you on your life journey. Remember, an unread story is just words on a page. You, the readers, bring it to life.

Amanda Girres

Editor-in-Chief

This marks my second go around with the Kiosk magazine, and I must say it was almost too easy to come back. A second shot at Visual Editor for me meant another opportunity to promote an incredible publication, be inspired by the creative and literary work of Morningside’s most thoughtful students, staff and alumni, and a last chance to grow and evolve with the magazine itself. The past two years I have been especially astounded by the creative community at Morningside. Not only are these artists pouring their hearts into their craft, but they are also supporting and promoting one another’s work and creative processes just as much as their own. I hope their passion and talent melts off the pages for the reader as much as it does for me. I want to thank Kenna Lammers, Kelsey Ahart and Nicole Loe for their time and expertise in selecting this year’s art submissions. I would also like to thank Joelle Kruger and Kelsey Ahart once again for lending their outstanding graphic art abilities and their sincere emotional support throughout the Kiosk process. Thanks to John Kolbo and Terri McGaffin for an incredible two years of Kiosk, and three years at Morningside. I’m so appreciative and humbled to be a part of your program and the 77th and 78 th Kiosk magazines.

Brianna Harding

Visual Editor

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7


Staff

Letters From the Editors Amanda Girres Amy Carothers, Allison Linafelter, Jocelyn Wolff Brianna Harding

EDITOR-IN-CHIEF ASSISTANT EDITORS VISUAL EDITOR

FICTION

NON-FICTION

Associate Editor

Associate Editor

Amy Carothers

Jocelyn Wolff

Board Members

Tyler Gandy Ashley Stagner Sondra Thoreson

Jared Martin Shelby Small

POETRY

COPY EDITORS

Associate Editor

Madison Monahan Kayla Perkins Mariah Wills

Allison Linafelter Board Members

Board Members

Amanda Cummings Rachel Chamberlain Alexi Malatare

Heather Eisele Megan Gies Nicole Loe Daphney Miller ART

Associate Editors

Kenna Lammers Kelsey Ahart Nicole Loe

FACULTY ADVISORS

Steve Coyne John Kolbo Terri McGaffin

About Our Judges: Patrick Hicks is the Writer-in-Residence at Augustana University in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, where he teaches creative writing and Irish Literature courses. He is also a faculty member of the MFA program at Sierra Nevada College in Incline Village, Nevada. Hicks is the author of over ten books, and his work has appeared in a number of literary journals, including Ploughshares, Glimmer Train, The Missouri Review, The Georgia Review, and more. A winner of the Glimmer Train Fiction award, he has also been a finalist for the High Plains Book Award, the Dzanc Short Story Collection Competition, and the Gival Press Novel Award. Catelin Drey is a 2010 graduate of Morningside College. She currently owns and operates Shirley Chic, a Sioux City based photography studio that specializes in portraiture. When she’s not running her business, she is heavily involved in the Siouxland area’s civic organizations, and is an ardent supporter of local small businesses. She enjoys red wine and making old things new. Kent McCuddin has worked in the advertising and marketing industry for 25 plus years with a comprehensive background in brand and marketing communications. He has won more than 100 creative awards with his work appearing on five different continents in multiple languages. He has been a creative thinker on both the agency and client side for organizations including Fortune 500 company. Kent has developed and taught various classes and workshops on graphic design, creative thinking and general problem solving. He has been an adjunct lecturer at Morningside College, guest speaker at various colleges, a featured speaker at TEDx Omaha, and has spoken at multiple national conferences and workshops. 6

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On August 9, 2014 in Ferguson, Missouri, a police officer shot and killed weaponless African American teenager Michael Brown. Enraged by the event and the American justice system, Missouri protestors spraypainted a powerful line from Suzanne Collins’s dystopian novel The Hunger Games on the site of the St. Louis Arch. It read, “If we burn, you burn with us.” This novel, which depicts poor, oppressed citizens rebelling against a cruel and unjust government, inspired the people of Ferguson to stand together and fight for justice. Perhaps this event suggests that stories hold a surprising amount of truth. Just as the world around us influences the stories we tell, the stories we tell influence the world around us. The characters, places, events, and conflicts become real through the messages and lessons they teach us. While we may not have as much influence as authors like Suzanne Collins, I believe that this year’s Kiosk does an exceptional job of embodying this idea. Our magazine is filled cover to cover with talent, and perhaps these intriguing, thought-provoking stories will allow you to become, if for only a moment, a young girl growing apart from her father, a teenager experiencing the death of a loved one, or a young injured boy who believes he is dying. Maybe our stories will inspire you to pursue a profession, stand for a cause, or better appreciate a family member. This year marks the 78 th volume of the Kiosk magazine and therefore the 78 th year that Morningside College has been able to share its stories with the community. I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to continue this tradition. However, I could not have done it alone. I would like to thank everyone who has made this year’s Kiosk possible, including all of the magazine’s associate editors, copy editors, and board members. Without all of their hard work and valuable input, this magazine would not exist. I would also like to thank English Administrative Assistant Marcie Ponder for helping me put paperwork together on numerous occasions and for helping out with various other tasks. Thanks also to Dr. Steve Coyne for acting as my advisor in both my academics and the Kiosk. I’m fairly certain that had I never had him as an instructor, I would not have seized the opportunity to work on this magazine. A special thanks to Morningside College President John Reynders for supporting the magazine and making it possible year after year. Thanks also to Brianna Harding, John Kolbo, and Terri McGaffin

of the art department. I have enjoyed working with Brianna this year, and the art she chose really helps bring words to life and life to words. I hope that as you read through our magazine this year, you’ll appreciate the influences of a story, real or fictional. I hope that some theme, character, or event will resonate with you as a reader and that you will carry it with you on your life journey. Remember, an unread story is just words on a page. You, the readers, bring it to life.

Amanda Girres

Editor-in-Chief

This marks my second go around with the Kiosk magazine, and I must say it was almost too easy to come back. A second shot at Visual Editor for me meant another opportunity to promote an incredible publication, be inspired by the creative and literary work of Morningside’s most thoughtful students, staff and alumni, and a last chance to grow and evolve with the magazine itself. The past two years I have been especially astounded by the creative community at Morningside. Not only are these artists pouring their hearts into their craft, but they are also supporting and promoting one another’s work and creative processes just as much as their own. I hope their passion and talent melts off the pages for the reader as much as it does for me. I want to thank Kenna Lammers, Kelsey Ahart and Nicole Loe for their time and expertise in selecting this year’s art submissions. I would also like to thank Joelle Kruger and Kelsey Ahart once again for lending their outstanding graphic art abilities and their sincere emotional support throughout the Kiosk process. Thanks to John Kolbo and Terri McGaffin for an incredible two years of Kiosk, and three years at Morningside. I’m so appreciative and humbled to be a part of your program and the 77th and 78 th Kiosk magazines.

Brianna Harding

Visual Editor

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7


Contents LITERATURE

ART

Breaths Between

Anna Ryan

Cover

Follow the Path

M adeline Trott

11

Refraction

Nicole Loe

11

How to Forge a John Bowitz

John Bowitz

13

16

Subway

Shaina Le

14

Anna Shanafelt

24

Glance

A llie Sweeney

17

Broken Dreams

Ashley Petersen

25

Destitute of Vision

Bre Van Bochove

19

Afternoon Stroll

A llie Sweeney

23

Pushing 90

Jocelyn Wolff

26

Pretty Mind

Shaina Le

24

The Plummet

Tyler Nordstrom

28

Nights in New York

Samantha H ansen

27

As The Year Passes

M ariah Wills

30

Upwards and Onwards

Anna Ryan

29

I Can’t Breathe

Alexi M alatare

31

Falling for Color

Samantha H ansen

31

Analog Haze

Sspencer Eiseman

33

Lord, Give Me Peace

Allison Linafelter

32

Here’s the Church

M adeline Trott

35

Blood

Megan Gies

41

Hail to the King

Michelle Vasquez

37

A Flawed Race

Anna Zetterlund

44

Angkor Wat

Brianna H arding

39

Hasten Slowly To My Side

Allison Linafelter

45

Stitches

Bre Van Bochove

40

Flat

Joelle K ruger

42

Cenotaphs

Amber K ast

46

Let’s Get Craftin’

K elsey A hart

42

Yunding Mountain Park Hell

Greg Guelcher

48

Vybe On

Trey Russell

43

Not Just Fishing

Nicole Loe

52

Medley

Brianna H arding

43 45

Sadie Shuck

Gatto

Nicole Loe

Saving Grace

54

Head in the Clouds

Samantha H ansen

47

Winter Break

Heather Eisele

55

Cordillera Paine

Claire M ay-Patterson

49

12

Brenda Lussier

56

A Galaxy

Shaina Le

51

Dandelion

Jocelyn Wolff

64

The Oregon Coast

Spencer Eiseman

52

Splash of Color

Amber Burg

54

The Dreamy Idealist

Brayton H agge

65

Electric

Summer Wulf

56

The Pine Dweller

Spencer Eiseman

59

Yaquina lighthouse

Claire M ay-Patterson

60

The Source

José Luis Gonzalez

61

Angles

Nicole Loe

63

Flower

Claire M ay-Patterson

64

Infinity

Michelle Vasquez

65

How To Stay Alive

Brayton H agge

10

Jigsaw Pieces

Amy Carothers

12

Grave Truth

Ashley Stagner

15

Make It Up

Heather Eisele

Girl

Page from the Past

Memory

Dan Oakland

68

All entries are considered objectively by the judges with no artist names or special consideration for any piece. Editorial staff are eligible for contest placement but not for prize money. 8

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9


Contents LITERATURE

ART

Breaths Between

Anna Ryan

Cover

Follow the Path

M adeline Trott

11

Refraction

Nicole Loe

11

How to Forge a John Bowitz

John Bowitz

13

16

Subway

Shaina Le

14

Anna Shanafelt

24

Glance

A llie Sweeney

17

Broken Dreams

Ashley Petersen

25

Destitute of Vision

Bre Van Bochove

19

Afternoon Stroll

A llie Sweeney

23

Pushing 90

Jocelyn Wolff

26

Pretty Mind

Shaina Le

24

The Plummet

Tyler Nordstrom

28

Nights in New York

Samantha H ansen

27

As The Year Passes

M ariah Wills

30

Upwards and Onwards

Anna Ryan

29

I Can’t Breathe

Alexi M alatare

31

Falling for Color

Samantha H ansen

31

Analog Haze

Sspencer Eiseman

33

Lord, Give Me Peace

Allison Linafelter

32

Here’s the Church

M adeline Trott

35

Blood

Megan Gies

41

Hail to the King

Michelle Vasquez

37

A Flawed Race

Anna Zetterlund

44

Angkor Wat

Brianna H arding

39

Hasten Slowly To My Side

Allison Linafelter

45

Stitches

Bre Van Bochove

40

Flat

Joelle K ruger

42

Cenotaphs

Amber K ast

46

Let’s Get Craftin’

K elsey A hart

42

Yunding Mountain Park Hell

Greg Guelcher

48

Vybe On

Trey Russell

43

Not Just Fishing

Nicole Loe

52

Medley

Brianna H arding

43 45

Sadie Shuck

Gatto

Nicole Loe

Saving Grace

54

Head in the Clouds

Samantha H ansen

47

Winter Break

Heather Eisele

55

Cordillera Paine

Claire M ay-Patterson

49

12

Brenda Lussier

56

A Galaxy

Shaina Le

51

Dandelion

Jocelyn Wolff

64

The Oregon Coast

Spencer Eiseman

52

Splash of Color

Amber Burg

54

The Dreamy Idealist

Brayton H agge

65

Electric

Summer Wulf

56

The Pine Dweller

Spencer Eiseman

59

Yaquina lighthouse

Claire M ay-Patterson

60

The Source

José Luis Gonzalez

61

Angles

Nicole Loe

63

Flower

Claire M ay-Patterson

64

Infinity

Michelle Vasquez

65

How To Stay Alive

Brayton H agge

10

Jigsaw Pieces

Amy Carothers

12

Grave Truth

Ashley Stagner

15

Make It Up

Heather Eisele

Girl

Page from the Past

Memory

Dan Oakland

68

All entries are considered objectively by the judges with no artist names or special consideration for any piece. Editorial staff are eligible for contest placement but not for prize money. 8

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P OET R Y

How to Stay Alive Brayton Hagge

I drive through the bleeding lights of the city, soaking them in through my open windows, letting the wind tangle through my hair. The strands whip around my face until I feel wild. The air smells like casino smoke. I hate it, but I drink it in anyway, relishing the way it fills up my chest with the exhaled breath of others. It’s strange. I feel so morbid, consuming the city like it is my last supper, but I can’t escape the way I think. I dream too often of death. I imagine what would happen if the car behind me did not stop.

I see the collision. I see my fragile body sailing through space and time and air until I land splayed on a bed of broken glass, blood speckled across the street. I think about the battery of my being suddenly running dry inside my chest. I know the world is too lovely and strange; it will not allow me to live forever. My morbidity makes me understand. My body, fastened to this seat, my heart vibrating in the center of my chest, that is a miracle. The way my music rolls out my windows and seeps slowly into the streets, that is a miracle. The speed at which my body moves over the pavement, 60 miles an hour, that is a miracle. If I died now, I would die in the midst of a miracle. Let me keep my dark dreams of death. They are the only things that help me to stay truly alive.

follow the path by Madeline Trott photography

REFRACTION by Nicole Loe photography

10

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11


P OET R Y

How to Stay Alive Brayton Hagge

I drive through the bleeding lights of the city, soaking them in through my open windows, letting the wind tangle through my hair. The strands whip around my face until I feel wild. The air smells like casino smoke. I hate it, but I drink it in anyway, relishing the way it fills up my chest with the exhaled breath of others. It’s strange. I feel so morbid, consuming the city like it is my last supper, but I can’t escape the way I think. I dream too often of death. I imagine what would happen if the car behind me did not stop.

I see the collision. I see my fragile body sailing through space and time and air until I land splayed on a bed of broken glass, blood speckled across the street. I think about the battery of my being suddenly running dry inside my chest. I know the world is too lovely and strange; it will not allow me to live forever. My morbidity makes me understand. My body, fastened to this seat, my heart vibrating in the center of my chest, that is a miracle. The way my music rolls out my windows and seeps slowly into the streets, that is a miracle. The speed at which my body moves over the pavement, 60 miles an hour, that is a miracle. If I died now, I would die in the midst of a miracle. Let me keep my dark dreams of death. They are the only things that help me to stay truly alive.

follow the path by Madeline Trott photography

REFRACTION by Nicole Loe photography

10

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11


C R E A TI V E NONf i c t i o n

Jigsaw Pieces Amy Carothers

L

ike many fathers, mine could often be coaxed into a spot of playtime. I would interrupt him as he reclined in his armchair by running up and wrapping my arms around his knees: a tactic it would take awhile for me to outgrow. At six feet ten inches and three-hundred-eighty pounds, my father could veritably be called a giant. He was out of shape and perpetually short of breath, health ravaged by decades of smoking, drinking, and drugs. As I tugged at him, he’d fold his newspaper with a sigh and allow himself to be pulled to our traditional play-spot on the stained rug of his trailer. “What game, cupcake?” he’d ask, peering over the rims of his glasses.

My daddy was a genius! He knew how to fit together each square, slow and steady beneath his huge brown hands, speckled with hundreds of tiny white scars. “Puzzles!” I’d reach for my favorite, a depiction of dinosaurs amidst a volcanic eruption. At times like these, there was no place I’d rather be than teetering on my father’s knee, watching him assemble the pieces. Slot by slot, piece by piece, the picture formed. My daddy was a genius! He knew how to fit together each square, slow and steady beneath his huge brown hands, speckled with hundreds of tiny white scars. At last would come that perfect moment when he would lean back, and the puzzle was whole. “There we go,” he’d say. “Can’t you put it together yourself?” I’d roll my eyes. “That’s not the point!” In those days, our relationship was simple. Every Thursday I stayed over at his trailer park, where I could eat McDonald’s for every meal, stay up until 5 a.m., and watch TV until my eyes ached. The divorce happened when I was four. Mom married my wonderful step-father. Dad moved in with his parents. Insidious as a plague, comparisons of the two households crept into my mind more and more. 12

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Mom and Chris had a clean, spacious house. There, I had my own room, my own bed, my own toys, books, electronics, and my own blankets. Dad’s trailer was grimy… clothes strewn about, carpets stained. I slept on the couch with a sheet. Mom and Chris brought me to school each morning and went off to work. In the afternoon, they came home, and we ate dinner together. Dad… never seemed to have anything to do. At any given moment, he was sure to be lounging in his junkyard armchair, constant as the tide. And yet, despite all this free time, all his days of smoking and playing chess in his chair, he didn’t pay child support. My idealistic image of my father had officially withered. On my fifteenth birthday, this simmering resentment came to a boil. I’d been trying to schedule my visit with my dad all week, but due to my mom’s plans, it wouldn’t work. In exasperation, I finally texted him to just forget it; we wouldn’t see each other at all. He immediately called me and chewed me out over the phone, furious that my mom’s schedule took precedence over his. “Dad,” I finally begged, “can we not argue right now?” Mom didn’t know what Dad was saying, but she saw the tears glistening on my cheeks. She snatched the phone from my hand. “Your daughter,” she said icily, “is crying.” Mom ended the conversation effectively, but all too soon, Thursday came, his designated custody day. His van pulled up to the driveway, purple and dented. For ten minutes, we drove in perfect silence. “Amy,” Dad ventured at last. God, why did this have to be so confusing? I loved him, he loved me. It was as easy and as hard as that. Was he gonna make it right? Bring back the days when our relationship was as clear as jigsaws on the floor? “You really hurt my feelings Sunday,” he said. My eyes widened. What?

“Dad,” I choked out, “it was my birthday. Mine.” “But you know I wanted to see you, and I–” “Dad, it’s always you,” my shaking voice began to rise. “I try and I try but you never listen to me and I’m your own daughter and you don’t try to understand me and I hate coming to your house because it’s so filthy my skin crawls and you don’t work and you don’t pay any child support and it feels like you don’t even care about me!” My scream tore through the van. Silence. My father’s knuckles were white on the steering wheel. Tears coursed down my face in rivers. Shit. Shit. I wiped my face underneath my glasses and turned away. I wished I could snatch the words back out of the air and bottle them up again. I’d started something, and now it was out of my control. Out of the corner of my eye I saw Dad remove his own glasses, eyes red. “Honey,” he croaked, “I… I… didn’t know you felt like that.” Didn’t know? He didn’t know? How could he have possibly missed the fact that our relationship had been crumbling like a sandcastle in the tide? “Well, it’s true,” I said softly as we pulled up to his house. I all but flung myself out of the van. Hiding out in the bathroom, I paced the walls, head dizzy, hyperventilating, unable to breathe. I dialed my mom with shaking hands, explaining in a garbled voice. “Honey,” she said. Her voice was desperately sad. In her practical way, she suggested I clean myself up and go back out with my head up high. I proceeded to sit through quite literally the most awkward family dinner in the history of man, surrounded by grandparents and cousins, only my father and I knowing what had transpired. The ride home was quiet, my eyes sandy and dry. “I’ll see you next week,” he said quietly when he dropped me off. “We can talk. Later.”

My mom couldn’t believe that part. “Later?” she shook her head. “He should’ve pulled the car over right then and worked it out.” Maybe he should have. But, as was typical, he had postponed the discussion, and for the next week, the thought of dealing with the aftermath of my breakdown terrified me to the core. Next Thursday, he pulled up to school to pick me up. The sight of his purple van sent me running into the bathroom, where I trembled in a stall for five minutes. My face in the mirror was sickly and pale under the fluorescent lights. If only I could stay there forever. “Hi,” my father said softly when I climbed into the car. I stared at the dashboard. “Maybe we should… get lunch?” I nodded silently. We pulled into the Jason’s Deli on Hancock Bridge Parkway, took a corner booth that would forever thence be colored by this memory… and we talked. My father had always been oblivious to emotional issues, deadened to sensitivity, but that day... he listened. As absurd as it was, he hadn’t known about the resentments simmering as my childhood admiration faltered,

HOW TO FORGE A JOHN BOWITZ by John Bowitz mixed media

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13


C R E A TI V E NONf i c t i o n

Jigsaw Pieces Amy Carothers

L

ike many fathers, mine could often be coaxed into a spot of playtime. I would interrupt him as he reclined in his armchair by running up and wrapping my arms around his knees: a tactic it would take awhile for me to outgrow. At six feet ten inches and three-hundred-eighty pounds, my father could veritably be called a giant. He was out of shape and perpetually short of breath, health ravaged by decades of smoking, drinking, and drugs. As I tugged at him, he’d fold his newspaper with a sigh and allow himself to be pulled to our traditional play-spot on the stained rug of his trailer. “What game, cupcake?” he’d ask, peering over the rims of his glasses.

My daddy was a genius! He knew how to fit together each square, slow and steady beneath his huge brown hands, speckled with hundreds of tiny white scars. “Puzzles!” I’d reach for my favorite, a depiction of dinosaurs amidst a volcanic eruption. At times like these, there was no place I’d rather be than teetering on my father’s knee, watching him assemble the pieces. Slot by slot, piece by piece, the picture formed. My daddy was a genius! He knew how to fit together each square, slow and steady beneath his huge brown hands, speckled with hundreds of tiny white scars. At last would come that perfect moment when he would lean back, and the puzzle was whole. “There we go,” he’d say. “Can’t you put it together yourself?” I’d roll my eyes. “That’s not the point!” In those days, our relationship was simple. Every Thursday I stayed over at his trailer park, where I could eat McDonald’s for every meal, stay up until 5 a.m., and watch TV until my eyes ached. The divorce happened when I was four. Mom married my wonderful step-father. Dad moved in with his parents. Insidious as a plague, comparisons of the two households crept into my mind more and more. 12

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Mom and Chris had a clean, spacious house. There, I had my own room, my own bed, my own toys, books, electronics, and my own blankets. Dad’s trailer was grimy… clothes strewn about, carpets stained. I slept on the couch with a sheet. Mom and Chris brought me to school each morning and went off to work. In the afternoon, they came home, and we ate dinner together. Dad… never seemed to have anything to do. At any given moment, he was sure to be lounging in his junkyard armchair, constant as the tide. And yet, despite all this free time, all his days of smoking and playing chess in his chair, he didn’t pay child support. My idealistic image of my father had officially withered. On my fifteenth birthday, this simmering resentment came to a boil. I’d been trying to schedule my visit with my dad all week, but due to my mom’s plans, it wouldn’t work. In exasperation, I finally texted him to just forget it; we wouldn’t see each other at all. He immediately called me and chewed me out over the phone, furious that my mom’s schedule took precedence over his. “Dad,” I finally begged, “can we not argue right now?” Mom didn’t know what Dad was saying, but she saw the tears glistening on my cheeks. She snatched the phone from my hand. “Your daughter,” she said icily, “is crying.” Mom ended the conversation effectively, but all too soon, Thursday came, his designated custody day. His van pulled up to the driveway, purple and dented. For ten minutes, we drove in perfect silence. “Amy,” Dad ventured at last. God, why did this have to be so confusing? I loved him, he loved me. It was as easy and as hard as that. Was he gonna make it right? Bring back the days when our relationship was as clear as jigsaws on the floor? “You really hurt my feelings Sunday,” he said. My eyes widened. What?

“Dad,” I choked out, “it was my birthday. Mine.” “But you know I wanted to see you, and I–” “Dad, it’s always you,” my shaking voice began to rise. “I try and I try but you never listen to me and I’m your own daughter and you don’t try to understand me and I hate coming to your house because it’s so filthy my skin crawls and you don’t work and you don’t pay any child support and it feels like you don’t even care about me!” My scream tore through the van. Silence. My father’s knuckles were white on the steering wheel. Tears coursed down my face in rivers. Shit. Shit. I wiped my face underneath my glasses and turned away. I wished I could snatch the words back out of the air and bottle them up again. I’d started something, and now it was out of my control. Out of the corner of my eye I saw Dad remove his own glasses, eyes red. “Honey,” he croaked, “I… I… didn’t know you felt like that.” Didn’t know? He didn’t know? How could he have possibly missed the fact that our relationship had been crumbling like a sandcastle in the tide? “Well, it’s true,” I said softly as we pulled up to his house. I all but flung myself out of the van. Hiding out in the bathroom, I paced the walls, head dizzy, hyperventilating, unable to breathe. I dialed my mom with shaking hands, explaining in a garbled voice. “Honey,” she said. Her voice was desperately sad. In her practical way, she suggested I clean myself up and go back out with my head up high. I proceeded to sit through quite literally the most awkward family dinner in the history of man, surrounded by grandparents and cousins, only my father and I knowing what had transpired. The ride home was quiet, my eyes sandy and dry. “I’ll see you next week,” he said quietly when he dropped me off. “We can talk. Later.”

My mom couldn’t believe that part. “Later?” she shook her head. “He should’ve pulled the car over right then and worked it out.” Maybe he should have. But, as was typical, he had postponed the discussion, and for the next week, the thought of dealing with the aftermath of my breakdown terrified me to the core. Next Thursday, he pulled up to school to pick me up. The sight of his purple van sent me running into the bathroom, where I trembled in a stall for five minutes. My face in the mirror was sickly and pale under the fluorescent lights. If only I could stay there forever. “Hi,” my father said softly when I climbed into the car. I stared at the dashboard. “Maybe we should… get lunch?” I nodded silently. We pulled into the Jason’s Deli on Hancock Bridge Parkway, took a corner booth that would forever thence be colored by this memory… and we talked. My father had always been oblivious to emotional issues, deadened to sensitivity, but that day... he listened. As absurd as it was, he hadn’t known about the resentments simmering as my childhood admiration faltered,

HOW TO FORGE A JOHN BOWITZ by John Bowitz mixed media

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gRAVE TRUTH Ashley Stagner

realizing he was not a perfect man. At last, Dad leaned over the table and cupped my hands in his. “Amy,” he whispered, “we’ll work this out.” I squeezed his hand back, and, through teary eyes… I smiled. My father never got a job. He took out Social Security instead but never did pay child support. He didn’t clean his trailer. He did quit smoking, thank God, and the acrid smell in my clothing slowly faded away. And that was all okay. My father is not the father I need. But he’s the father I have. I had been continually placing expectations on him that he wasn’t capable of fulfilling-expectations I deserved to have fulfilled, yes. But unrealistic ones nonetheless. This realization freed me. Freed us. Today our relationship is better than it has ever been. I

learned how to craft fair expectations… and, most importantly, how to love someone without hinging my own self-worth and happiness upon them. When I was young, I admired the way my father fit together my puzzle pieces. Unfortunately, he could never replicate that deftness in piecing together his own life… or in mine. But I don’t need him to do it for me anymore. Under my hands, this time, the picture emerges: colorful, vibrant, whole.

subway

Today you went away. Your strong hands made weak by years of toil.

Your shadow became all we saw of you, looming in your absence.

Your dark, loose curls now coated in grey, enshrouded by worry.

Your home became no more a place of dreams. Only a space you slept in.

Your tall build toppled over by the weight of your burdens.

You’d stopped living here with us long before your heart stopped.

The light that filled your laughing eyes has been snuffed out.

It’s not your fault. Your work stole your life. It snatched you away in the dark.

Your big, loud stories, brimming with life, have been silenced forever.

You crept out like a whisper. Faded like an echo. And finally, fell like silence.

by Shaina Le digital art

But really, you were gone long before today. Your hands toiled for long hours most mornings. Mornings turned into nights. Your hair became disguised in grey from the laborious hours.

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P OET R Y

gRAVE TRUTH Ashley Stagner

realizing he was not a perfect man. At last, Dad leaned over the table and cupped my hands in his. “Amy,” he whispered, “we’ll work this out.” I squeezed his hand back, and, through teary eyes… I smiled. My father never got a job. He took out Social Security instead but never did pay child support. He didn’t clean his trailer. He did quit smoking, thank God, and the acrid smell in my clothing slowly faded away. And that was all okay. My father is not the father I need. But he’s the father I have. I had been continually placing expectations on him that he wasn’t capable of fulfilling-expectations I deserved to have fulfilled, yes. But unrealistic ones nonetheless. This realization freed me. Freed us. Today our relationship is better than it has ever been. I

learned how to craft fair expectations… and, most importantly, how to love someone without hinging my own self-worth and happiness upon them. When I was young, I admired the way my father fit together my puzzle pieces. Unfortunately, he could never replicate that deftness in piecing together his own life… or in mine. But I don’t need him to do it for me anymore. Under my hands, this time, the picture emerges: colorful, vibrant, whole.

subway

Today you went away. Your strong hands made weak by years of toil.

Your shadow became all we saw of you, looming in your absence.

Your dark, loose curls now coated in grey, enshrouded by worry.

Your home became no more a place of dreams. Only a space you slept in.

Your tall build toppled over by the weight of your burdens.

You’d stopped living here with us long before your heart stopped.

The light that filled your laughing eyes has been snuffed out.

It’s not your fault. Your work stole your life. It snatched you away in the dark.

Your big, loud stories, brimming with life, have been silenced forever.

You crept out like a whisper. Faded like an echo. And finally, fell like silence.

by Shaina Le digital art

But really, you were gone long before today. Your hands toiled for long hours most mornings. Mornings turned into nights. Your hair became disguised in grey from the laborious hours.

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F I C TION

MAKE IT UP Heather Eisele

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his homework is stupid,” I say to Ray. She had just returned to her bedroom after making popcorn. Even though we had just had dinner, she could never resist movie theater butter. I take the bowl from her and set it in the middle of her bed. She always sits near the headboard in a nest of pillows. I sit against the footboard in a pile of blankets, textbooks, and notebooks. “Of course the homework is stupid,” she says. “An English teacher assigned it.” She pulls off her green T-shirt to reveal the white tank-top underneath. It has some ridiculously old stain on it from when I’d worn it and eaten spaghetti. She trades jeans for red plaid pajama bottoms. My pajama bottoms, I notice. It is just as well. That “Fine. If you won’t make something up, means I can steal then just tell the truth,” she continues the moose-printed before I can tell her how stupid that is. pair from her when I change later. “Your life sucks so bad, they probably “Professor, Ray. won’t believe you anyway.” English professor,” I say. I rub my temples in a vain attempt to ward off a headache. She pulls her curly blonde hair out of its ponytail and shakes it out. She rolls her hazel eyes. “My apologies, Karen.” She flops down on her bed across from me and examines her nails. “Don’t call me Karen. You know I hate it when you do that,” I snap. “Anyway, I’ve only told you a thousand times, her name is Professor Matthews.” “Don’t be bitchy at me, Ren. I’m not the one who signed you up for all this AP crap and collegelevel creative writing.” She stuffs her face with popcorn and then continues with her mouth full. “What does she even want from you again?” “‘Write about a specific childhood memory,’” I read from the assignment sheet sitting on top of the book next to me, “‘preferably a fond one.’” I look up from my laptop and stare through her purple curtains out the window at her backyard. It’s just an empty green hill that slopes upward to an overgrown lot behind the house. Well, no inspiration there. “Gross! Why?” Ray says. In her disgust, she 16

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spills some of the popcorn onto the comforter that matches the purple curtains. They contrast to the pale yellow of her walls. She has an old, multicolored T-shirt quilt that serves as a rug over the pinewood floor. Sometime in our freshman year, she persuaded her parents to let her paint her furniture herself. She’d painted the dresser, bookshelf, and nightstand white, and then she went back and added paintings of her favorite anime characters, some landscapes, random animals, encouraging phrases, and something that looks suspiciously like a penis, but she still swears up and down that it is a modernist take on the Washington Monument. After that, her parents wouldn’t let her paint the headboard and footboard of her bed or her desk, so they’re a pine that matches the floor. Her desk is cluttered and stained with nail polish. The only thing she even really uses it for is as a TV stand so she can play her old Xbox. After a short silence, she asks, “Doesn’t she understand that some people have shitty childhoods? What if you don’t want to talk about it?” “It’s the creative nonfiction unit, Ray. I have to.” “Well, then it’s your fault for taking all of those smart people classes as a junior anyway,” she says. She leans back against the pillows and stretches out her legs so that her toes press against my shin. “They’re going to run out of classes for you to take, and then you’ll have to take shop or home economics next year.” “Or I’ll graduate early.” I fold my legs Indian style so that her toes aren’t touching me. She knows I hate feet. She’s constantly teasing me about my “foot anti-fetish.” She stretches further but only manages to brush my thigh with the toes of her right foot. “Right, because your control freak mother is totally going to sign off for early graduation.” “She might.” “Yeah, right.” “You’re not helping.” “You’re changing the subject.” “No, I’m bringing us back to the original subject.”

“You’re making a bigger deal out of the assignment than you should be.” I give her my best bitch face. She laughs. “I’m serious! It’s creative nonfiction, right?” She shovels more popcorn into her mouth. “Just make some shit up.” “Ray, creative nonfiction.” “One syllable out of–what?” she pauses to count out the syllables in “creative nonfiction” on her fingers. “One out of six says it has to be real,” she says. She tosses some of the un-popped kernels in the trashcan next to the bed. “That means five out of six say it doesn’t have to be real. Majority rules! Make some shit up.” “You’re ridiculous.” She shrugs. Her eyes look up at me innocently through her mascara, but she’s smirking with only one side of her scarlet mouth. I remember a little self-consciously that I hadn’t worn makeup that day because my mother had said I looked like a slut and made me take it off. “How did you even make it to junior year?” I ask. I drag my fingers roughly through my hair,

pulling it back into a sloppy ponytail so it’ll stay out of my face while I’m doing homework. “I make shit up. It’ll get you pretty far in life.” “Ray, that’s awful.” She shrugs. She finishes the last of the popcorn and sets the bowl on the nightstand, knocking the alarm clock off in the process. She glares at it reproachfully, as if it were its fault, and then pulls my sweatshirt on over her tank top. She snuggles into it and pulls the sleeves over her hands so just her fingers come out. “You took off your T-shirt just to steal my sweatshirt?” I ask. “You weren’t using it.” I open my mouth to argue but decide it’s not worth it. “This assignment is stupid.” “Fine. If you won’t make something up, then just tell the truth,” she continues before I can tell her how stupid that is. “Your life sucks so bad, they probably won’t believe you anyway.” I arch an eyebrow at her. “No offense, of course,” she adds. She finally pulls her foot off of my leg and starts to

Glance by Allie Sweeney digital photography

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F I C TION

MAKE IT UP Heather Eisele

T

his homework is stupid,” I say to Ray. She had just returned to her bedroom after making popcorn. Even though we had just had dinner, she could never resist movie theater butter. I take the bowl from her and set it in the middle of her bed. She always sits near the headboard in a nest of pillows. I sit against the footboard in a pile of blankets, textbooks, and notebooks. “Of course the homework is stupid,” she says. “An English teacher assigned it.” She pulls off her green T-shirt to reveal the white tank-top underneath. It has some ridiculously old stain on it from when I’d worn it and eaten spaghetti. She trades jeans for red plaid pajama bottoms. My pajama bottoms, I notice. It is just as well. That “Fine. If you won’t make something up, means I can steal then just tell the truth,” she continues the moose-printed before I can tell her how stupid that is. pair from her when I change later. “Your life sucks so bad, they probably “Professor, Ray. won’t believe you anyway.” English professor,” I say. I rub my temples in a vain attempt to ward off a headache. She pulls her curly blonde hair out of its ponytail and shakes it out. She rolls her hazel eyes. “My apologies, Karen.” She flops down on her bed across from me and examines her nails. “Don’t call me Karen. You know I hate it when you do that,” I snap. “Anyway, I’ve only told you a thousand times, her name is Professor Matthews.” “Don’t be bitchy at me, Ren. I’m not the one who signed you up for all this AP crap and collegelevel creative writing.” She stuffs her face with popcorn and then continues with her mouth full. “What does she even want from you again?” “‘Write about a specific childhood memory,’” I read from the assignment sheet sitting on top of the book next to me, “‘preferably a fond one.’” I look up from my laptop and stare through her purple curtains out the window at her backyard. It’s just an empty green hill that slopes upward to an overgrown lot behind the house. Well, no inspiration there. “Gross! Why?” Ray says. In her disgust, she 16

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spills some of the popcorn onto the comforter that matches the purple curtains. They contrast to the pale yellow of her walls. She has an old, multicolored T-shirt quilt that serves as a rug over the pinewood floor. Sometime in our freshman year, she persuaded her parents to let her paint her furniture herself. She’d painted the dresser, bookshelf, and nightstand white, and then she went back and added paintings of her favorite anime characters, some landscapes, random animals, encouraging phrases, and something that looks suspiciously like a penis, but she still swears up and down that it is a modernist take on the Washington Monument. After that, her parents wouldn’t let her paint the headboard and footboard of her bed or her desk, so they’re a pine that matches the floor. Her desk is cluttered and stained with nail polish. The only thing she even really uses it for is as a TV stand so she can play her old Xbox. After a short silence, she asks, “Doesn’t she understand that some people have shitty childhoods? What if you don’t want to talk about it?” “It’s the creative nonfiction unit, Ray. I have to.” “Well, then it’s your fault for taking all of those smart people classes as a junior anyway,” she says. She leans back against the pillows and stretches out her legs so that her toes press against my shin. “They’re going to run out of classes for you to take, and then you’ll have to take shop or home economics next year.” “Or I’ll graduate early.” I fold my legs Indian style so that her toes aren’t touching me. She knows I hate feet. She’s constantly teasing me about my “foot anti-fetish.” She stretches further but only manages to brush my thigh with the toes of her right foot. “Right, because your control freak mother is totally going to sign off for early graduation.” “She might.” “Yeah, right.” “You’re not helping.” “You’re changing the subject.” “No, I’m bringing us back to the original subject.”

“You’re making a bigger deal out of the assignment than you should be.” I give her my best bitch face. She laughs. “I’m serious! It’s creative nonfiction, right?” She shovels more popcorn into her mouth. “Just make some shit up.” “Ray, creative nonfiction.” “One syllable out of–what?” she pauses to count out the syllables in “creative nonfiction” on her fingers. “One out of six says it has to be real,” she says. She tosses some of the un-popped kernels in the trashcan next to the bed. “That means five out of six say it doesn’t have to be real. Majority rules! Make some shit up.” “You’re ridiculous.” She shrugs. Her eyes look up at me innocently through her mascara, but she’s smirking with only one side of her scarlet mouth. I remember a little self-consciously that I hadn’t worn makeup that day because my mother had said I looked like a slut and made me take it off. “How did you even make it to junior year?” I ask. I drag my fingers roughly through my hair,

pulling it back into a sloppy ponytail so it’ll stay out of my face while I’m doing homework. “I make shit up. It’ll get you pretty far in life.” “Ray, that’s awful.” She shrugs. She finishes the last of the popcorn and sets the bowl on the nightstand, knocking the alarm clock off in the process. She glares at it reproachfully, as if it were its fault, and then pulls my sweatshirt on over her tank top. She snuggles into it and pulls the sleeves over her hands so just her fingers come out. “You took off your T-shirt just to steal my sweatshirt?” I ask. “You weren’t using it.” I open my mouth to argue but decide it’s not worth it. “This assignment is stupid.” “Fine. If you won’t make something up, then just tell the truth,” she continues before I can tell her how stupid that is. “Your life sucks so bad, they probably won’t believe you anyway.” I arch an eyebrow at her. “No offense, of course,” she adds. She finally pulls her foot off of my leg and starts to

Glance by Allie Sweeney digital photography

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paint her toenails lime green. I sigh heavily and then start writing nonfiction for once. When I was in second grade, I got this really cool pair of shoes. The sneakers weren’t anything special–they came from a Walmart clearance sale, but they were made of some fabric that I was certain was magical. They were white indoors but turned a baby blue in the sunlight. I played in them so much I wore out the soles. A few days after I got those magical shoes, Irene kissed me for the first time. I used to stay the night at her house all the time when I was young, and she was my best friend as well as my second cousin. I had started to develop breasts by this point–I was an “early bloomer” –and she was curious since she was two years older and hadn’t started getting hers yet. She wanted me to show her and asked me to take off my shirt and new training bra. I had never been allowed to say no to any request that anyone made of me, so I did as she asked and stood in front of her, naked from the waist up. The kiss was soft, and her hands were calloused from playing on the monkey bars at school as she touched my booblets. Over the years, she wore the soul out of me with how much she played in me.

As I finish typing this memory out, I feel incredibly sick to my stomach. “I can’t turn this in,” I say. “Well, if it’s not working, then pick a different thing to write about,” Ray says. I bite my lip. My teacher is stupid for making me write about my childhood. She’s probably from a super happy family with two dogs and a nice house and all of that bullshit. I tap the track pad a bit harder than necessary when I minimize the story and open up a blank document. Ray looks up at me. “You okay?” she asks. Her shaped eyebrows arch, and I wonder, not for the first time, why she hangs around me. “Fine. Just thinking.” She nods. She doesn’t look the slightest bit convinced, but she doesn’t press the issue and con18

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tinues with the second coat of toenail polish. I frown at myself. It’s not that I don’t want to tell her about it. I just don’t want to talk about it. It makes me feel ugly, and I don’t want to feel ugly around Ray. She’s the only one I’ve ever met who seems to look at me like I’m something important. She knows I’m depressed, sure, but she just assumes it’s because of my mother and the divorce. If I told her the truth about all of these other things, she’d see how pathetic I really am. Much better in the long run to just hide it from her. That way, she’ll never change how she looks at me. I nod once at my new resolve and start typing again. It was another day in the spring of my fifth grade year. I sat alone on my bed, reading Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (for probably the sixth time straight) over the noise of the blaring television in the adjacent living room. My parents had been fighting again, and my mother had just left, slamming the door behind her. I knew she wasn’t serious about leaving Dad this time. She was only ever serious when she made me come with her. My white bedroom walls seemed to both hug me and cage me in my tiny room. I was sure that they could spill more secrets than the rest of the house combined if they could only speak. After all, they were the only friends I could talk to, and I whispered all of my secrets to them at night when there was no TV or angry yelling to block out my voice. I fidgeted with the cardstock bookmark in my hand, chewing on my lower lip as I read sentence after sentence after sentence. My cedar dresser was a different shade of brown than the other thing with drawers in the room. This thing was either called a bureau or a Bordeaux. I could never remember which one meant this piece of walnut furniture and which one meant mom’s favorite drink. Both furniture pieces took up way too much space in my room, and the cherry hope chest that my grandmother had left for me took up what little space was left next to my bed. I didn’t mind it too much usually. The wooden fixtures in the room did a good job of hiding the beige carpet. My favorite books were

strewn on the top of the hope chest so that my very best friends–my only friends–were always within arm’s reach. I kept fidgeting with the bookmark. I don’t know why everything seemed to hit me so hard on that particular day. It wasn’t like this was the first time that my parents had fought or that I’d gotten picked on at school. Maybe it was the way that my room was stuffy from the door being closed all day and the poor insulation. Maybe it was the way that so much large furniture had been jammed into this tiny room, making everything feel so cramped and making me feel even smaller than usual. Maybe it was the lack of color in the room, as there had always been because my mother preferred neutrals. Maybe it was the one family photo I had on my dresser from back when I was six years old, and we were a happy family. Or, if we weren’t happy, from back when I was too young to know any better. My body couldn’t contain my emotions anymore. My eyes moved over sentence after sentence, but my tears blurred everything, so nothing could be taken in. I wondered if I’d even really been reading at all. I sat there as my tears dripped onto the page. I rocked myself gently. I suddenly became aware of a pain in my left shin. I wiped at my eyes and looked down to where blood dripped onto my bed sheets. What? I’d made a cut on my leg with the friction from rubbing the edge of the bookmark against it. What in the world? It was stained red, but I realized in that moment that as the blood drained from me, so did my emotions. I suddenly didn’t feel anything anymore other than the pain in my leg. And the lack of feeling was bliss.

“I can’t turn this in either,” I tell Ray, who is now reading some erotic novel that she’d shoplifted from the convenience store down the street. She had started picking those up in eighth grade, about a year after I’d met her. I feel even sicker to my stomach now and even angrier at my professor for giving me this bullshit assignment. She puts down her book and looks at me. “But you wrote so much. What’s it about?” “I don’t want to talk about it. That’s the

problem.” I gently scratch my stomach where deep, tender cuts are hidden under my T-shirt. I graduated from bookmarks to razor blades around seventh grade. Nowadays, I cut almost every day of the week, sometimes more than once a day. Ray doesn’t know about it. I’m careful to make sure that she doesn’t find out. I never change clothes in front of her, despite her teasing that I’m

a prude, and I always make sure that my clothes cover the cuts and scars. It’s my firm resolution that she never know about them. She wouldn’t get it. I need the blade like my mother needs the Bordeaux. “Oh, come on, Ren. I can’t help if you don’t talk to me.” I avoid her eyes by looking out the window. The sun is now setting over her backyard. It still isn’t inspiring. “I hate talking about my childhood. You know that.” “Yeah, but you never tell me why. You just say that it sucked.” “It did. You don’t want to know why, trust me.” “But I do.” “You don’t. I promise.”

Destitute of Vision by Bre Van Bochove India Ink

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paint her toenails lime green. I sigh heavily and then start writing nonfiction for once. When I was in second grade, I got this really cool pair of shoes. The sneakers weren’t anything special–they came from a Walmart clearance sale, but they were made of some fabric that I was certain was magical. They were white indoors but turned a baby blue in the sunlight. I played in them so much I wore out the soles. A few days after I got those magical shoes, Irene kissed me for the first time. I used to stay the night at her house all the time when I was young, and she was my best friend as well as my second cousin. I had started to develop breasts by this point–I was an “early bloomer” –and she was curious since she was two years older and hadn’t started getting hers yet. She wanted me to show her and asked me to take off my shirt and new training bra. I had never been allowed to say no to any request that anyone made of me, so I did as she asked and stood in front of her, naked from the waist up. The kiss was soft, and her hands were calloused from playing on the monkey bars at school as she touched my booblets. Over the years, she wore the soul out of me with how much she played in me.

As I finish typing this memory out, I feel incredibly sick to my stomach. “I can’t turn this in,” I say. “Well, if it’s not working, then pick a different thing to write about,” Ray says. I bite my lip. My teacher is stupid for making me write about my childhood. She’s probably from a super happy family with two dogs and a nice house and all of that bullshit. I tap the track pad a bit harder than necessary when I minimize the story and open up a blank document. Ray looks up at me. “You okay?” she asks. Her shaped eyebrows arch, and I wonder, not for the first time, why she hangs around me. “Fine. Just thinking.” She nods. She doesn’t look the slightest bit convinced, but she doesn’t press the issue and con18

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tinues with the second coat of toenail polish. I frown at myself. It’s not that I don’t want to tell her about it. I just don’t want to talk about it. It makes me feel ugly, and I don’t want to feel ugly around Ray. She’s the only one I’ve ever met who seems to look at me like I’m something important. She knows I’m depressed, sure, but she just assumes it’s because of my mother and the divorce. If I told her the truth about all of these other things, she’d see how pathetic I really am. Much better in the long run to just hide it from her. That way, she’ll never change how she looks at me. I nod once at my new resolve and start typing again. It was another day in the spring of my fifth grade year. I sat alone on my bed, reading Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (for probably the sixth time straight) over the noise of the blaring television in the adjacent living room. My parents had been fighting again, and my mother had just left, slamming the door behind her. I knew she wasn’t serious about leaving Dad this time. She was only ever serious when she made me come with her. My white bedroom walls seemed to both hug me and cage me in my tiny room. I was sure that they could spill more secrets than the rest of the house combined if they could only speak. After all, they were the only friends I could talk to, and I whispered all of my secrets to them at night when there was no TV or angry yelling to block out my voice. I fidgeted with the cardstock bookmark in my hand, chewing on my lower lip as I read sentence after sentence after sentence. My cedar dresser was a different shade of brown than the other thing with drawers in the room. This thing was either called a bureau or a Bordeaux. I could never remember which one meant this piece of walnut furniture and which one meant mom’s favorite drink. Both furniture pieces took up way too much space in my room, and the cherry hope chest that my grandmother had left for me took up what little space was left next to my bed. I didn’t mind it too much usually. The wooden fixtures in the room did a good job of hiding the beige carpet. My favorite books were

strewn on the top of the hope chest so that my very best friends–my only friends–were always within arm’s reach. I kept fidgeting with the bookmark. I don’t know why everything seemed to hit me so hard on that particular day. It wasn’t like this was the first time that my parents had fought or that I’d gotten picked on at school. Maybe it was the way that my room was stuffy from the door being closed all day and the poor insulation. Maybe it was the way that so much large furniture had been jammed into this tiny room, making everything feel so cramped and making me feel even smaller than usual. Maybe it was the lack of color in the room, as there had always been because my mother preferred neutrals. Maybe it was the one family photo I had on my dresser from back when I was six years old, and we were a happy family. Or, if we weren’t happy, from back when I was too young to know any better. My body couldn’t contain my emotions anymore. My eyes moved over sentence after sentence, but my tears blurred everything, so nothing could be taken in. I wondered if I’d even really been reading at all. I sat there as my tears dripped onto the page. I rocked myself gently. I suddenly became aware of a pain in my left shin. I wiped at my eyes and looked down to where blood dripped onto my bed sheets. What? I’d made a cut on my leg with the friction from rubbing the edge of the bookmark against it. What in the world? It was stained red, but I realized in that moment that as the blood drained from me, so did my emotions. I suddenly didn’t feel anything anymore other than the pain in my leg. And the lack of feeling was bliss.

“I can’t turn this in either,” I tell Ray, who is now reading some erotic novel that she’d shoplifted from the convenience store down the street. She had started picking those up in eighth grade, about a year after I’d met her. I feel even sicker to my stomach now and even angrier at my professor for giving me this bullshit assignment. She puts down her book and looks at me. “But you wrote so much. What’s it about?” “I don’t want to talk about it. That’s the

problem.” I gently scratch my stomach where deep, tender cuts are hidden under my T-shirt. I graduated from bookmarks to razor blades around seventh grade. Nowadays, I cut almost every day of the week, sometimes more than once a day. Ray doesn’t know about it. I’m careful to make sure that she doesn’t find out. I never change clothes in front of her, despite her teasing that I’m

a prude, and I always make sure that my clothes cover the cuts and scars. It’s my firm resolution that she never know about them. She wouldn’t get it. I need the blade like my mother needs the Bordeaux. “Oh, come on, Ren. I can’t help if you don’t talk to me.” I avoid her eyes by looking out the window. The sun is now setting over her backyard. It still isn’t inspiring. “I hate talking about my childhood. You know that.” “Yeah, but you never tell me why. You just say that it sucked.” “It did. You don’t want to know why, trust me.” “But I do.” “You don’t. I promise.”

Destitute of Vision by Bre Van Bochove India Ink

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She pouts at me. “I just want to help. I tell you all about my life.” “Yes, and I never pry when you don’t want to talk about it.” “Okay. I’m sorry. It’s just,” she pauses to readjust the pillows she’d been lying on, “well, if you can’t even tell your best friend about it, how are you going to tell an entire class?” She has a point, of course, but I still don’t want to tell her about any of it. I mean, really, she’s in no position to help me through any of this–my past or my addictive coping mechanisms. She has parents who love her, a little brother who gets on her nerves, two It was stained red, but I realized in dogs, three cats, and a two-story house. She’s that moment that as the blood drained not going to underfrom me, so did my emotions. stand what my life is like, and part of me is glad for that. I wouldn’t wish for anyone to go through the things that I have. At the same time, I almost resent her. What makes her so special that she doesn’t have to go through these things—so special that she doesn’t even have to be aware that they happen to people? With this bile at the back of my throat, I minimize the story and open up a new document. “Okay. You win,” I say. “I’ll let you read this one when I’m finished with it. I’ll start telling you about my childhood with that, okay?” She grins. “Okay! It’ll be nice to know as much about you as you do about me.” I nod absent-mindedly. My fingers are already moving along the keys. I’m in the bathtub. The water is real cold, and he’s there like he always is at bath time when I stay with my aunt and cousins. I’m three years old now, and I’m crying already because I know what’s coming. It always comes. I cry for him to stop before he even starts. It never works. “Shut up, Karen.” His voice is low and even. It’s even scarier than when he yells at me. He’s madder at me than usual. He wears glasses. He never takes them off, even though they get splashed with water. I hate him. He makes me 20

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do things that I don’t want to do, and I wonder why my aunt lets him do this. It must be how all uncles treat their nieces. But Daddy doesn’t do this to my cousin, does he? I can’t imagine Daddy being so mean. Daddy’s nice, unlike my uncle. My uncle touches me in places that I don’t like. I don’t even touch me where he touches me. It hurts because his hands are so big. I don’t know exactly when I start screaming. I don’t know that the scream is coming from me until a few seconds after I hear it. He keeps hurting me. I scream ‘til my throat starts to taste bloody. He holds me under the water by my hair, so I can’t scream anymore. He never did that before. I don’t like opening my eyes underwater, but I do. I look up at him through the water. It goes up my nose and down my scratchy throat. I can’t breathe. My chest hurts. My arms scratch at the edges of the tub, and my feet kick. I start hearing a swishing sound in my ears. I try to pull myself out of the water, but I can’t get hold of anything, and my uncle holds my head against the bottom of the tub. The swishing sound gets louder and faster. Just when I’m sure I’m going to die, he pulls my head back up. I choke out the water. It gurgles out of me until I catch my breath. Then he dunks me under again. He keeps doing it. The last time he does it, I see white stuff through the water. Everything is blurry now and not just because of the white stuff. My arms and legs feel heavy. My chest burns deep inside, like when you stand too close to the campfire and breathe in the smoke on accident. I see black. It’s like shadows are standing in a circle around me. The swishing sound is slowing down. The only thing I can see now is my uncle. He zips his pants and turns away. He isn’t holding my head anymore, but I can’t lift it. I can’t move at all. I feel like I’m breathing in the whole campfire, not just the smoke. The swishing sound stops. Everything is black.

I stop writing because my hands are shaking too badly. I don’t remember the rest of what happened. I know that my eldest cousin pulled me out and gave me CPR. I know that I’m alive now,

somehow, even though I wish I wasn’t. Ray looks up from the book when she notices that the clacking of my keyboard has stopped. The grin slides off her face the second she looks at me. I feel hot. I feel like I can’t breathe. She says something. I see her lips moving, but I don’t hear her. All I hear is my heartbeat pounding in my ears, the same swishing sound from all those years ago. Something bitter touches the back of my throat, and suddenly I’m in the bathroom across the hall from Ray’s room spewing my guts into the toilet. I feel hands in my hair and try to scream but just retch again. Finally it stops, and I push the hands away. I trip over the edge of the tub as I make my frantic escape, and I fall face-first into it. My head cracks against the back corner. I roll over to try and get back up, but my feet tangle in the shower curtain. Something warm and wet trickles down into my eye. It stains everything red. Ray leans over me, but I see the glare of my uncle’s glasses and the haze of the white-swirled water. I flail like I did as a child. She jumps back, and I’m aware of more sounds than just the pounding in my ears. Screams, I think. From me. My throat feels scratchy. How long have I been screaming? Someone comes from behind Ray and dumps a glass of cold water over my head. I try to get up to run, but my legs are still tangled. Whoever had dumped the water gets shoved out of the bathroom and someone else comes in. My throat feels bloody. My chest burns. My head starts feeling heavy. A hand closes over my upper arm and pulls me upright. I shut my eyes tight. I don’t want to look this time. I don’t want to see shadows surround me or watch my uncle turn away from me. I don’t want to– “Karen!” That wasn’t my uncle’s voice. Whose was it? It was someone else’s. Someone… Someone who shouldn’t call me Karen. I chance to open my eyes a slit. The people kneeling in front of me don’t wear glasses. They’re both women. One is blonde with bright red lips, and the other is a redhead with the same hazel eyes as the other. The pounding in my ears blocks out most of what they say,

but I catch two words from somewhere in the mix. “Karen, breathe.” “Don’t–call–me–Karen,” I gasp. I’m not sure why I say it, but it seems like I should. My vision focuses a bit better. Ray. Ray’s mom. I look around frantically, but my uncle is nowhere to be found. Ray’s little brother peeks his head into the doorway holding a large, empty cup. “Only if you breathe for me, Ren,” Ray says. She says more, but I don’t catch much of it. It’s like I’m waking up from a nightmare. Ray holds my hand tightly in hers. I become vaguely aware that it’s her mother’s hand on my arm. I notice then that I can breathe. In fact, I am breathing! It’s just way too fast. “Breathe with me, Ren,” Ray’s mom says. She takes a deep breath, exaggerating the sound, and then lets it out. I try to make my breathing do the same thing, but it’s erratic. My lungs don’t seem to want to do what I tell them. “It’s okay, Ren. You’re doing great,” Ray coos at me. I nod silently. I’m trying to believe her. My heart isn’t as loud as it was, and my chest doesn’t burn as much. “Whatever’s scaring you, it’s not here. You’re safe,” she says. It takes a while for me to calm down, but eventually, I feel myself reaching a state of secure –and exhausted–calm. Ray’s mom, who’s a nurse, takes care of the gash on my forehead. Ray leaves briefly and then comes back while I’m brushing my teeth. She gives me the moose pajamas that I was so excited for earlier, and she and her mom leave the bathroom long enough to let me change. After I’m done, I open the door. They lead me out of the bathroom and back into Ray’s room where I’m led to the bed to sit down. I lie in the nest of pillows that Ray had abandoned. “Do you want to talk about it, sweetie?” Ray’s mother asks me. I shake my head. My tears are still blurring her face, so I pull a blanket up around me to wipe them. She nods sympathetically. Ray’s mother has Kiosk16

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She pouts at me. “I just want to help. I tell you all about my life.” “Yes, and I never pry when you don’t want to talk about it.” “Okay. I’m sorry. It’s just,” she pauses to readjust the pillows she’d been lying on, “well, if you can’t even tell your best friend about it, how are you going to tell an entire class?” She has a point, of course, but I still don’t want to tell her about any of it. I mean, really, she’s in no position to help me through any of this–my past or my addictive coping mechanisms. She has parents who love her, a little brother who gets on her nerves, two It was stained red, but I realized in dogs, three cats, and a two-story house. She’s that moment that as the blood drained not going to underfrom me, so did my emotions. stand what my life is like, and part of me is glad for that. I wouldn’t wish for anyone to go through the things that I have. At the same time, I almost resent her. What makes her so special that she doesn’t have to go through these things—so special that she doesn’t even have to be aware that they happen to people? With this bile at the back of my throat, I minimize the story and open up a new document. “Okay. You win,” I say. “I’ll let you read this one when I’m finished with it. I’ll start telling you about my childhood with that, okay?” She grins. “Okay! It’ll be nice to know as much about you as you do about me.” I nod absent-mindedly. My fingers are already moving along the keys. I’m in the bathtub. The water is real cold, and he’s there like he always is at bath time when I stay with my aunt and cousins. I’m three years old now, and I’m crying already because I know what’s coming. It always comes. I cry for him to stop before he even starts. It never works. “Shut up, Karen.” His voice is low and even. It’s even scarier than when he yells at me. He’s madder at me than usual. He wears glasses. He never takes them off, even though they get splashed with water. I hate him. He makes me 20

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do things that I don’t want to do, and I wonder why my aunt lets him do this. It must be how all uncles treat their nieces. But Daddy doesn’t do this to my cousin, does he? I can’t imagine Daddy being so mean. Daddy’s nice, unlike my uncle. My uncle touches me in places that I don’t like. I don’t even touch me where he touches me. It hurts because his hands are so big. I don’t know exactly when I start screaming. I don’t know that the scream is coming from me until a few seconds after I hear it. He keeps hurting me. I scream ‘til my throat starts to taste bloody. He holds me under the water by my hair, so I can’t scream anymore. He never did that before. I don’t like opening my eyes underwater, but I do. I look up at him through the water. It goes up my nose and down my scratchy throat. I can’t breathe. My chest hurts. My arms scratch at the edges of the tub, and my feet kick. I start hearing a swishing sound in my ears. I try to pull myself out of the water, but I can’t get hold of anything, and my uncle holds my head against the bottom of the tub. The swishing sound gets louder and faster. Just when I’m sure I’m going to die, he pulls my head back up. I choke out the water. It gurgles out of me until I catch my breath. Then he dunks me under again. He keeps doing it. The last time he does it, I see white stuff through the water. Everything is blurry now and not just because of the white stuff. My arms and legs feel heavy. My chest burns deep inside, like when you stand too close to the campfire and breathe in the smoke on accident. I see black. It’s like shadows are standing in a circle around me. The swishing sound is slowing down. The only thing I can see now is my uncle. He zips his pants and turns away. He isn’t holding my head anymore, but I can’t lift it. I can’t move at all. I feel like I’m breathing in the whole campfire, not just the smoke. The swishing sound stops. Everything is black.

I stop writing because my hands are shaking too badly. I don’t remember the rest of what happened. I know that my eldest cousin pulled me out and gave me CPR. I know that I’m alive now,

somehow, even though I wish I wasn’t. Ray looks up from the book when she notices that the clacking of my keyboard has stopped. The grin slides off her face the second she looks at me. I feel hot. I feel like I can’t breathe. She says something. I see her lips moving, but I don’t hear her. All I hear is my heartbeat pounding in my ears, the same swishing sound from all those years ago. Something bitter touches the back of my throat, and suddenly I’m in the bathroom across the hall from Ray’s room spewing my guts into the toilet. I feel hands in my hair and try to scream but just retch again. Finally it stops, and I push the hands away. I trip over the edge of the tub as I make my frantic escape, and I fall face-first into it. My head cracks against the back corner. I roll over to try and get back up, but my feet tangle in the shower curtain. Something warm and wet trickles down into my eye. It stains everything red. Ray leans over me, but I see the glare of my uncle’s glasses and the haze of the white-swirled water. I flail like I did as a child. She jumps back, and I’m aware of more sounds than just the pounding in my ears. Screams, I think. From me. My throat feels scratchy. How long have I been screaming? Someone comes from behind Ray and dumps a glass of cold water over my head. I try to get up to run, but my legs are still tangled. Whoever had dumped the water gets shoved out of the bathroom and someone else comes in. My throat feels bloody. My chest burns. My head starts feeling heavy. A hand closes over my upper arm and pulls me upright. I shut my eyes tight. I don’t want to look this time. I don’t want to see shadows surround me or watch my uncle turn away from me. I don’t want to– “Karen!” That wasn’t my uncle’s voice. Whose was it? It was someone else’s. Someone… Someone who shouldn’t call me Karen. I chance to open my eyes a slit. The people kneeling in front of me don’t wear glasses. They’re both women. One is blonde with bright red lips, and the other is a redhead with the same hazel eyes as the other. The pounding in my ears blocks out most of what they say,

but I catch two words from somewhere in the mix. “Karen, breathe.” “Don’t–call–me–Karen,” I gasp. I’m not sure why I say it, but it seems like I should. My vision focuses a bit better. Ray. Ray’s mom. I look around frantically, but my uncle is nowhere to be found. Ray’s little brother peeks his head into the doorway holding a large, empty cup. “Only if you breathe for me, Ren,” Ray says. She says more, but I don’t catch much of it. It’s like I’m waking up from a nightmare. Ray holds my hand tightly in hers. I become vaguely aware that it’s her mother’s hand on my arm. I notice then that I can breathe. In fact, I am breathing! It’s just way too fast. “Breathe with me, Ren,” Ray’s mom says. She takes a deep breath, exaggerating the sound, and then lets it out. I try to make my breathing do the same thing, but it’s erratic. My lungs don’t seem to want to do what I tell them. “It’s okay, Ren. You’re doing great,” Ray coos at me. I nod silently. I’m trying to believe her. My heart isn’t as loud as it was, and my chest doesn’t burn as much. “Whatever’s scaring you, it’s not here. You’re safe,” she says. It takes a while for me to calm down, but eventually, I feel myself reaching a state of secure –and exhausted–calm. Ray’s mom, who’s a nurse, takes care of the gash on my forehead. Ray leaves briefly and then comes back while I’m brushing my teeth. She gives me the moose pajamas that I was so excited for earlier, and she and her mom leave the bathroom long enough to let me change. After I’m done, I open the door. They lead me out of the bathroom and back into Ray’s room where I’m led to the bed to sit down. I lie in the nest of pillows that Ray had abandoned. “Do you want to talk about it, sweetie?” Ray’s mother asks me. I shake my head. My tears are still blurring her face, so I pull a blanket up around me to wipe them. She nods sympathetically. Ray’s mother has Kiosk16

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a wonderful way of not getting into your business. “Okay,” she says, “but if it happens again, I’m going to have to tell your mother. It’s for your safety.” I nod. She brushes my hair from my forehead. Her hands are soft and warm. I wonder for perhaps the eightieth time what it would’ve been like to grow up with a mother like Ray’s. “Get some rest now, hon. It’s late.” The alarm clock that’s still on Ray’s floor tells me that Suddenly, there’s nothing I want it’s only 9:38, but I don’t more than to tell her everything argue. After her mother has that I’ve ever been through– left the room, Ray looks at me. She looks like she every gory, ugly thing. wants to say something but doesn’t know what. Finally, she just sits down on the edge of the bed next to me. “I’m sorry,” I croak. “You said some pretty scary things, Ren,” she says. “I bet.” “You don’t want to talk about it?” “No.” She hesitates. “Will you ever?” I pause. “I don’t know.” She nods. I can’t quite place the look that she gives me. It’s somewhere between concern and hurt maybe. Whatever the emotion behind it, it contorts her face in a way that I haven’t ever seen before. It’s not different though. Not really. Somewhere in it, she’s still looking at me like I’m important. Suddenly, there’s nothing I want more than to tell her everything that I’ve ever been through–every gory, ugly thing. “Read it,” I say so softly that I can barely even hear myself. If I told her all of it out loud, it would be too real for me to handle. “There are three documents on my laptop. Read them. The one with my uncle… that’s the worst one.” She nods again. I let my eyes drift shut. I don’t want to see her face while she reads the stories, and the blankets are so warm, and I’m so tired, and…

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I wake up as she’s scooting into bed next to me. I blink blearily at her. “Sorry I woke you,” she says. “Go back to sleep.” “I have to write my story,” I mumble almost incoherently. “I wrote one for you. We’ll get up a little bit earlier tomorrow morning so you have time to edit it,” she says. “Change a few words, make it sound like you. It’s happy.” “You didn’t have to do that,” I say. My eyes drift shut again. “What’d you write about?” “Going to the shelter and adopting DeeDee.” “Aw, that’s awesome,” I say. My mind wanders to the first time I came over to Ray’s house and met the one-eyed golden retriever. DeeDee chewed my favorite notebook, but it’s impossible for anyone to stay mad at her. She’d looked at me with enough apology in her eye that I hadn’t really minded losing the notebook. I try to stifle a yawn, but I fail. “It’ll work for your assignment. You shouldn’t have to share things that you don’t want to, and no one should try to make you. Some of it’s just too hard to talk about, right?” I nod. “I’m proud of you. It’s really brave to let someone read that stuff.” I feel my cheeks heat, but I’m sure she won’t notice in the dark. “Thanks, Ray.” “Goodnight, Ren,” she says. She rolls over. I don’t need to open my eyes to see that she’s facing me. She always sleeps facing me, curled in a ball. Usually, she migrates toward me during the night and tucks her head underneath my chin. She likes to share other people’s warmth. “G’night, Ray,” I say. For the first time in years, I sleep so heavily that I don’t remember dreaming.

afternoon stroll by Allie Sweeney digital photography

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a wonderful way of not getting into your business. “Okay,” she says, “but if it happens again, I’m going to have to tell your mother. It’s for your safety.” I nod. She brushes my hair from my forehead. Her hands are soft and warm. I wonder for perhaps the eightieth time what it would’ve been like to grow up with a mother like Ray’s. “Get some rest now, hon. It’s late.” The alarm clock that’s still on Ray’s floor tells me that Suddenly, there’s nothing I want it’s only 9:38, but I don’t more than to tell her everything argue. After her mother has that I’ve ever been through– left the room, Ray looks at me. She looks like she every gory, ugly thing. wants to say something but doesn’t know what. Finally, she just sits down on the edge of the bed next to me. “I’m sorry,” I croak. “You said some pretty scary things, Ren,” she says. “I bet.” “You don’t want to talk about it?” “No.” She hesitates. “Will you ever?” I pause. “I don’t know.” She nods. I can’t quite place the look that she gives me. It’s somewhere between concern and hurt maybe. Whatever the emotion behind it, it contorts her face in a way that I haven’t ever seen before. It’s not different though. Not really. Somewhere in it, she’s still looking at me like I’m important. Suddenly, there’s nothing I want more than to tell her everything that I’ve ever been through–every gory, ugly thing. “Read it,” I say so softly that I can barely even hear myself. If I told her all of it out loud, it would be too real for me to handle. “There are three documents on my laptop. Read them. The one with my uncle… that’s the worst one.” She nods again. I let my eyes drift shut. I don’t want to see her face while she reads the stories, and the blankets are so warm, and I’m so tired, and…

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I wake up as she’s scooting into bed next to me. I blink blearily at her. “Sorry I woke you,” she says. “Go back to sleep.” “I have to write my story,” I mumble almost incoherently. “I wrote one for you. We’ll get up a little bit earlier tomorrow morning so you have time to edit it,” she says. “Change a few words, make it sound like you. It’s happy.” “You didn’t have to do that,” I say. My eyes drift shut again. “What’d you write about?” “Going to the shelter and adopting DeeDee.” “Aw, that’s awesome,” I say. My mind wanders to the first time I came over to Ray’s house and met the one-eyed golden retriever. DeeDee chewed my favorite notebook, but it’s impossible for anyone to stay mad at her. She’d looked at me with enough apology in her eye that I hadn’t really minded losing the notebook. I try to stifle a yawn, but I fail. “It’ll work for your assignment. You shouldn’t have to share things that you don’t want to, and no one should try to make you. Some of it’s just too hard to talk about, right?” I nod. “I’m proud of you. It’s really brave to let someone read that stuff.” I feel my cheeks heat, but I’m sure she won’t notice in the dark. “Thanks, Ray.” “Goodnight, Ren,” she says. She rolls over. I don’t need to open my eyes to see that she’s facing me. She always sleeps facing me, curled in a ball. Usually, she migrates toward me during the night and tucks her head underneath my chin. She likes to share other people’s warmth. “G’night, Ray,” I say. For the first time in years, I sleep so heavily that I don’t remember dreaming.

afternoon stroll by Allie Sweeney digital photography

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P OET R Y

P OET R Y

GIRL

BROKEN DREAMS

Anna Shanafelt

Ashley Petersen

She is beautiful.

I sit in this too-small car

A round head with strawberry locks

staring at my twiddling thumbs,

and eyebrows barely visible even to the expert eye.

searching for an excuse to escape.

A shy smile that makes skin canyons around blue-green eyes.

Because looking from afar

Two front teeth that are a little large for the liking,

you’d never see the loss etched in my soul,

and birthmarks in the form of the Hawaiian Islands

or the evidence of countless sleepless nights

along a round, petite nose.

lurking in my eyes.

Her laugh, unintentionally loud, is quickly matted

But up close, you can see the hopeless despair

by embarrassed cherry cheeks.

of a woman who has learned

And, by god, her lips,

that her dreams of being a mother

slightly parted and glistening wet.

can never come true.

She probably tastes like a summer’s day;

And as my could-be-prince-charming

Like peaches fresh from the overgrown tree

approaches the vehicle,

in my mother’s backyard.

I slide my fingers off the door handle, releasing the chance of my could-be future, unable to part with my dreams that will never be.

pretty mind by Shaina Le digital art

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P OET R Y

P OET R Y

GIRL

BROKEN DREAMS

Anna Shanafelt

Ashley Petersen

She is beautiful.

I sit in this too-small car

A round head with strawberry locks

staring at my twiddling thumbs,

and eyebrows barely visible even to the expert eye.

searching for an excuse to escape.

A shy smile that makes skin canyons around blue-green eyes.

Because looking from afar

Two front teeth that are a little large for the liking,

you’d never see the loss etched in my soul,

and birthmarks in the form of the Hawaiian Islands

or the evidence of countless sleepless nights

along a round, petite nose.

lurking in my eyes.

Her laugh, unintentionally loud, is quickly matted

But up close, you can see the hopeless despair

by embarrassed cherry cheeks.

of a woman who has learned

And, by god, her lips,

that her dreams of being a mother

slightly parted and glistening wet.

can never come true.

She probably tastes like a summer’s day;

And as my could-be-prince-charming

Like peaches fresh from the overgrown tree

approaches the vehicle,

in my mother’s backyard.

I slide my fingers off the door handle, releasing the chance of my could-be future, unable to part with my dreams that will never be.

pretty mind by Shaina Le digital art

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cr e a t i v e n o n F I C TION

PUSHING 90 Jocelyn Wolff

“S

o, will you be just as charming in person?” I texted. Shortly thereafter, my phone flashed with an incoming message. “Oh yes, oh yes, I’ll do my best!” He was excited. I, on the other hand, was a young woman bursting at the seams with anxiety, struggling with a task as small as focusing on the road. Eroding, charcoal-grey polyurethane on my steering wheel became caked under my left thumbnail. My left hand, clammy and warm, gripped the ten position of the steering wheel while my right wrist rested on a can of sugar free Red Bull peeking out of Despite this fear, I sped along, the cup holder. I pursed jerking myself back onto the road my plum stained lips. I each time my anxiety pulled me off. felt the smooth pearls of a secular rosary intertwined between the fingers on my right hand. Focusing on their smooth, cold exterior balanced the feverish heat encompassing my body. The roar of rumble bars jerked me back to reality, and a gasp whipped out of me, stilling my heart. My phone lit to reveal a message. “You need to get your ass over here girl!” “Shush! I’m pushing 90 right now!” I fumbled while trying to send my response. He made me nervous. A charming personality and a quick wit were a pair I knew could draw me in and kick me out quicker than I could step foot into his home. Despite this fear, I sped along, jerking myself back onto the road each time my anxiety pulled me off. I took a sip of my Red Bull and then checked my GPS. After a nerve-wracking exhalation, I calmed myself and took a screenshot to send him. It read, “9.6 miles. Take exit 61B for I-680 W.” No response. Would he stand me up? I pondered this while I sped down the road. Still pushing 90 miles per hour and anxiety-ridden, I contemplated slowing down. I once again checked my GPS. I sent a second screenshot. This one now 26

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reading, “3.9. Miles. Turn left onto Q Street.” “Call me when you’re super close!” he responded, immediately calming my anxiety about being stood up, but now new anxieties arose. I jerked the car while reapplying my mascara, eyeliner, and lipstick. I spritzed a perfume on myself for the third time and searched for gum, a mint, or anything that would rid my breath of the sour, cranberry aftertaste of Red Bull. I was going to vomit. Sheepishly, I pressed the phone icon next to his name. I heard the iconic, orchestral Verizon ringback tone, an immediate turn-off. He answered, and I tried to sound as composed as I possibly could. “Hey. I think I’m here…” I muttered. “Wonderful! I’ll be out in a second. We can go get T. Bell,” he said reassuringly. I turned the key and flipped off the lights. I opened my car door and clumsily placed my left foot on the ground and then my right. I stopped to make sure I heard each heel make a solid click, reassuring me that I was firmly balanced before standing. As soon as I looked up from the ground and finished smoothing my outfit, I saw him emerging from the door. My eyes scanned his black running shoes, up the long legs of his faded denim jeans, nearly skipped over the logo on his white hooded sweatshirt, and stopped at a pure white, intoxicating smile.

nights in new york by Samantha Hansen digital photography

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27


cr e a t i v e n o n F I C TION

PUSHING 90 Jocelyn Wolff

“S

o, will you be just as charming in person?” I texted. Shortly thereafter, my phone flashed with an incoming message. “Oh yes, oh yes, I’ll do my best!” He was excited. I, on the other hand, was a young woman bursting at the seams with anxiety, struggling with a task as small as focusing on the road. Eroding, charcoal-grey polyurethane on my steering wheel became caked under my left thumbnail. My left hand, clammy and warm, gripped the ten position of the steering wheel while my right wrist rested on a can of sugar free Red Bull peeking out of Despite this fear, I sped along, the cup holder. I pursed jerking myself back onto the road my plum stained lips. I each time my anxiety pulled me off. felt the smooth pearls of a secular rosary intertwined between the fingers on my right hand. Focusing on their smooth, cold exterior balanced the feverish heat encompassing my body. The roar of rumble bars jerked me back to reality, and a gasp whipped out of me, stilling my heart. My phone lit to reveal a message. “You need to get your ass over here girl!” “Shush! I’m pushing 90 right now!” I fumbled while trying to send my response. He made me nervous. A charming personality and a quick wit were a pair I knew could draw me in and kick me out quicker than I could step foot into his home. Despite this fear, I sped along, jerking myself back onto the road each time my anxiety pulled me off. I took a sip of my Red Bull and then checked my GPS. After a nerve-wracking exhalation, I calmed myself and took a screenshot to send him. It read, “9.6 miles. Take exit 61B for I-680 W.” No response. Would he stand me up? I pondered this while I sped down the road. Still pushing 90 miles per hour and anxiety-ridden, I contemplated slowing down. I once again checked my GPS. I sent a second screenshot. This one now 26

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reading, “3.9. Miles. Turn left onto Q Street.” “Call me when you’re super close!” he responded, immediately calming my anxiety about being stood up, but now new anxieties arose. I jerked the car while reapplying my mascara, eyeliner, and lipstick. I spritzed a perfume on myself for the third time and searched for gum, a mint, or anything that would rid my breath of the sour, cranberry aftertaste of Red Bull. I was going to vomit. Sheepishly, I pressed the phone icon next to his name. I heard the iconic, orchestral Verizon ringback tone, an immediate turn-off. He answered, and I tried to sound as composed as I possibly could. “Hey. I think I’m here…” I muttered. “Wonderful! I’ll be out in a second. We can go get T. Bell,” he said reassuringly. I turned the key and flipped off the lights. I opened my car door and clumsily placed my left foot on the ground and then my right. I stopped to make sure I heard each heel make a solid click, reassuring me that I was firmly balanced before standing. As soon as I looked up from the ground and finished smoothing my outfit, I saw him emerging from the door. My eyes scanned his black running shoes, up the long legs of his faded denim jeans, nearly skipped over the logo on his white hooded sweatshirt, and stopped at a pure white, intoxicating smile.

nights in new york by Samantha Hansen digital photography

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27


C R E A TI V E NON F I C TION

THE PLUMMET

Tyler Nordstrom

T

he nurse squeezed the clear gel from the tube like toothpaste, and I shuddered involuntarily as the cold stuff oozed slowly onto my naked stomach. It had been hours since the incident, and I just wanted to be done with it all. I wanted to leave this dark, cramped, chilly room filled with hostile equipment and alien machines. My dad stood close to me, and we both watched the monitor expectantly. Being an 11-year-old boy, I had never had an ultrasound and found it odd and a little uncomfortable to be experiencing something that usually only pregnant women underwent. I sat on the reclining chair rather awkwardly while the nurse moved a sensor carefully but firmly across my exposed All that I had to do was close abdomen. After exploring my eyes, and there I was, back on all of my insides, the nurse confirmed that there was the playground, the playground nothing wrong with me, and I felt both embarrassed that had almost killed me. and disappointed. For what had seemed like an eon, I had sat in the waiting room of the ER with my dad, and now it all seemed pointless. I was completely fine–and yet the pain had been so horrible, the situation so intense. All that I had to do was close my eyes, and there I was, back on the playground, the playground that had almost killed me. My sister had been taking piano lessons for several years. She was dedicated and would practice daily and feverishly. She was more talented than most, but when she got older, she would realize that she didn’t really enjoy the instrument and quit. Her teacher lived in a small house in a small town–a town so small that you could drive past it without realizing you had. However, it was big enough to boast of its own library, baseball park, and courthouse. It also had an elementary school with a playground. A quaint little circle of houses surrounded the school and playground, and it was in one of these houses that my sister’s piano teacher lived. That day was my sister’s lesson. My twin brother and I were too young to be left home 28

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alone, so we were dragged along by my mom and forced to entertain ourselves for the 30 excruciatingly long minutes. The usual source of entertainment was the nearby playground. Once we arrived, my brother and I flew out of our grey suburban and jetted directly to it. This particular playground didn’t have a lot to speak of. It wasn’t exactly a small playground, but it was certainly not massive by any means. If I could return to this park today, I would probably realize that it was nowhere close to the cheerful, polished, modern playground, but instead it was something a bit more bleak and pathetic. On one end stood a grim row of swings with horrible chains and metal most likely dating from the dark ages. Other equipment included a screeching merry-go-round, some treacherous seesaws, some humdrum monkey bars, and one of those bizarre half-dome structures that no one really knows how to properly climb or use. But what attracted my attention were the slides. There were a handful of slides all clumped closely to each other, most of them being the tube kind that swirled around and shot its passenger out of a dark tunnel. However, I was not concerned with merely riding down the slides, which was dull and childish, but rather with climbing up them and perhaps imagining myself as a daring explorer or agile ape. I was halfway up one of the slides when it happened. My grip failed, and my entire body was seized by terror as I fell. Everything slowed down, and for a moment I was Sherlock Holmes descending through the gloomy mist of the Reichenbach Falls to his death. The floor, made of worn wood chips, lay only ten feet below my falling body, but it felt like a mile. I landed heavily on my back and immediately let out a bloodcurdling scream of anguish and fright. Acute pain gathered around my back and stomach. Upon hearing my continued shrieks, my brother came to the rescue. “MOOOMMMMMMMM!” he bellowed at the top of his lungs. My mom scurried to the terrible scene with a speed that only concerned mothers can achieve and knelt by my side.

UPWARDS AND ONWARDS by Anna Ryan photography

“What happened?” she gasped. “I fell,” I managed to croak as I writhed on the ground like a beheaded snake. My mom began to console me, but it was in that moment of youthful naiveté that the fearsome thought occurred to me: I might die, right here and now. With this fearful notion, I looked to my mom and whimpered, “Can we pray?” By “we” I meant my mom, who immediately obliged, and began to quietly appeal for God’s help. “Amen,” she finished a few moments later. It

was then decided that my dad would leave work and transport me to the emergency room. He soon arrived at the park, and I somehow managed to struggle to his car. By that time the pain had somewhat subsided, but the shock had not. In reality I was perfectly sound, but it would take the intimidating atmosphere of an emergency room to convince me of that.

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C R E A TI V E NON F I C TION

THE PLUMMET

Tyler Nordstrom

T

he nurse squeezed the clear gel from the tube like toothpaste, and I shuddered involuntarily as the cold stuff oozed slowly onto my naked stomach. It had been hours since the incident, and I just wanted to be done with it all. I wanted to leave this dark, cramped, chilly room filled with hostile equipment and alien machines. My dad stood close to me, and we both watched the monitor expectantly. Being an 11-year-old boy, I had never had an ultrasound and found it odd and a little uncomfortable to be experiencing something that usually only pregnant women underwent. I sat on the reclining chair rather awkwardly while the nurse moved a sensor carefully but firmly across my exposed All that I had to do was close abdomen. After exploring my eyes, and there I was, back on all of my insides, the nurse confirmed that there was the playground, the playground nothing wrong with me, and I felt both embarrassed that had almost killed me. and disappointed. For what had seemed like an eon, I had sat in the waiting room of the ER with my dad, and now it all seemed pointless. I was completely fine–and yet the pain had been so horrible, the situation so intense. All that I had to do was close my eyes, and there I was, back on the playground, the playground that had almost killed me. My sister had been taking piano lessons for several years. She was dedicated and would practice daily and feverishly. She was more talented than most, but when she got older, she would realize that she didn’t really enjoy the instrument and quit. Her teacher lived in a small house in a small town–a town so small that you could drive past it without realizing you had. However, it was big enough to boast of its own library, baseball park, and courthouse. It also had an elementary school with a playground. A quaint little circle of houses surrounded the school and playground, and it was in one of these houses that my sister’s piano teacher lived. That day was my sister’s lesson. My twin brother and I were too young to be left home 28

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alone, so we were dragged along by my mom and forced to entertain ourselves for the 30 excruciatingly long minutes. The usual source of entertainment was the nearby playground. Once we arrived, my brother and I flew out of our grey suburban and jetted directly to it. This particular playground didn’t have a lot to speak of. It wasn’t exactly a small playground, but it was certainly not massive by any means. If I could return to this park today, I would probably realize that it was nowhere close to the cheerful, polished, modern playground, but instead it was something a bit more bleak and pathetic. On one end stood a grim row of swings with horrible chains and metal most likely dating from the dark ages. Other equipment included a screeching merry-go-round, some treacherous seesaws, some humdrum monkey bars, and one of those bizarre half-dome structures that no one really knows how to properly climb or use. But what attracted my attention were the slides. There were a handful of slides all clumped closely to each other, most of them being the tube kind that swirled around and shot its passenger out of a dark tunnel. However, I was not concerned with merely riding down the slides, which was dull and childish, but rather with climbing up them and perhaps imagining myself as a daring explorer or agile ape. I was halfway up one of the slides when it happened. My grip failed, and my entire body was seized by terror as I fell. Everything slowed down, and for a moment I was Sherlock Holmes descending through the gloomy mist of the Reichenbach Falls to his death. The floor, made of worn wood chips, lay only ten feet below my falling body, but it felt like a mile. I landed heavily on my back and immediately let out a bloodcurdling scream of anguish and fright. Acute pain gathered around my back and stomach. Upon hearing my continued shrieks, my brother came to the rescue. “MOOOMMMMMMMM!” he bellowed at the top of his lungs. My mom scurried to the terrible scene with a speed that only concerned mothers can achieve and knelt by my side.

UPWARDS AND ONWARDS by Anna Ryan photography

“What happened?” she gasped. “I fell,” I managed to croak as I writhed on the ground like a beheaded snake. My mom began to console me, but it was in that moment of youthful naiveté that the fearsome thought occurred to me: I might die, right here and now. With this fearful notion, I looked to my mom and whimpered, “Can we pray?” By “we” I meant my mom, who immediately obliged, and began to quietly appeal for God’s help. “Amen,” she finished a few moments later. It

was then decided that my dad would leave work and transport me to the emergency room. He soon arrived at the park, and I somehow managed to struggle to his car. By that time the pain had somewhat subsided, but the shock had not. In reality I was perfectly sound, but it would take the intimidating atmosphere of an emergency room to convince me of that.

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P OET R Y

P OET R Y

As the Year Passes

I Can’t Breathe

Mariah Wills

The starlight shines, shimmers, dances amongst the gnarled trees, yet they’re so far away from me. Through rustling leaves, I see the twisting branches reaching for the sky, for life. The forest clearing around me is a lake of rippling silver grass, moving with the wind that gusts with a chill towards me. I sit on the fallen trunk of a tree on the edge of the clearing. The starlight glitters on my skin. As I cup my face in my hands, I feel my shoulders shake as I try to hold in the wailing of my grief. I am the year, and winter is coming. A choked sob echoes across the clearing, and for a moment, I don’t know where it comes from. Tears stream down my face as I lift it to the cold, unfeeling stars– so far away, so far away. The tears turn into starlight of their own as they fall, drip, drip, dripping before shattering into infinity on the dust beneath my bare feet.

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Alexi Malatare

A breeze suddenly stirs the trees, and the last of the ancient silver starlight falls onto the dirt with the trees’ tears as their leaves tumbling to the ground. But instead of shattering, breaking, disappearing, the ground is drowned beneath their sorrow at summer’s end– my sorrow at summer’s end. The sun begins to rise, the forest around me turns into a fiery inferno– burning, burning, burning. But even as the forest lights aflame with its fall colors, there is still the shimmering scent of frost on the wind that is almost ready to coat the ground in its greying mist before the sun breaks the horizon.

I try to breathe, but the air won’t reach my lungs. It turns into you, and I choke. I spit and sputter on your memory like I’m drowning all over again. Like I’m back to the day when it ended, and you left. I grab my chest and feel my heart pounding like yours did when I first told you I loved you. So I let go. I smother my hands with sanitizer and soap to rid the feeling of your hands entwined with mine. I scrub my body to erase your gentle touch. I layer on perfume to cover up your lingering scent. I hold my breath because I don’t want your memory. And so I hold my breath. I hold my breath, and I can’t breathe.

falling for color by Samantha Hansen digital photography

I weep for summer’s passing as the life of the forest begins to grey with winter’s cold, unfeeling grasp, like the stars above as they wink out of sight, burned away by the sun. And as the sun rises, I weep.

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P OET R Y

P OET R Y

As the Year Passes

I Can’t Breathe

Mariah Wills

The starlight shines, shimmers, dances amongst the gnarled trees, yet they’re so far away from me. Through rustling leaves, I see the twisting branches reaching for the sky, for life. The forest clearing around me is a lake of rippling silver grass, moving with the wind that gusts with a chill towards me. I sit on the fallen trunk of a tree on the edge of the clearing. The starlight glitters on my skin. As I cup my face in my hands, I feel my shoulders shake as I try to hold in the wailing of my grief. I am the year, and winter is coming. A choked sob echoes across the clearing, and for a moment, I don’t know where it comes from. Tears stream down my face as I lift it to the cold, unfeeling stars– so far away, so far away. The tears turn into starlight of their own as they fall, drip, drip, dripping before shattering into infinity on the dust beneath my bare feet.

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Alexi Malatare

A breeze suddenly stirs the trees, and the last of the ancient silver starlight falls onto the dirt with the trees’ tears as their leaves tumbling to the ground. But instead of shattering, breaking, disappearing, the ground is drowned beneath their sorrow at summer’s end– my sorrow at summer’s end. The sun begins to rise, the forest around me turns into a fiery inferno– burning, burning, burning. But even as the forest lights aflame with its fall colors, there is still the shimmering scent of frost on the wind that is almost ready to coat the ground in its greying mist before the sun breaks the horizon.

I try to breathe, but the air won’t reach my lungs. It turns into you, and I choke. I spit and sputter on your memory like I’m drowning all over again. Like I’m back to the day when it ended, and you left. I grab my chest and feel my heart pounding like yours did when I first told you I loved you. So I let go. I smother my hands with sanitizer and soap to rid the feeling of your hands entwined with mine. I scrub my body to erase your gentle touch. I layer on perfume to cover up your lingering scent. I hold my breath because I don’t want your memory. And so I hold my breath. I hold my breath, and I can’t breathe.

falling for color by Samantha Hansen digital photography

I weep for summer’s passing as the life of the forest begins to grey with winter’s cold, unfeeling grasp, like the stars above as they wink out of sight, burned away by the sun. And as the sun rises, I weep.

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F I C TION

LORD, GIVE ME PEACE Allison Linafelter

“G

I

loria, is mom coming back?” Olivia asks me, her sweet little round face filled with confusion and fear. Her twin brother, Hayden, looks back at her with sadness and grabs her hand. They’re both only 11, but he’s always been the more mature one. “Olivia, we just don’t know enough about this illness to tell, but I don’t think so.” I watch her face fall as I reply, but I’ve never been one for telling kids lies to make them feel better. My job in the church is to counsel grieving families, and when these two lost their father to suicide, I had done my best to tell them the truth in the kindest way possible. I pull them both into a tight hug and add, “You’ve got me, right here and right now, and I promise to always take care of you both.” She looks up at me with her big blue eyes, overflowing with tears, and attempts a trembling smile. I wipe away her guess they thought that fire would tears with the sleeve of stop the dead. They were wrong. my black nun’s habit. Hayden pulls away and tugs at her hand, saying, “See? I told you, Sister Gloria will always take good care of us!” Grateful for his attempt to lighten the mood, I laugh and ruffle his blond hair. “Of course I will! Now, I think it’s time for both of you to go to sleep. We’ve all had to deal with a lot.” I tuck both of them into their separate sleeping bags, nestled in the dark corner of the church where the rest of the refugees are sheltered. “Alright, make sure you both say your prayers and give thanks for what we still have.” I kiss each twin on the forehead and whisper, “Remember, you are loved by your parents, by me, and by God.” “I love you too,” they both whisper in unison as if their matching dirty-blond hair and blue eyes weren’t enough to prove that they were twins. “Goodnight,” I say, but they’ve both drifted off to sleep, exhausted from their grueling day. In the dark, I see Father McArthur checking up on the injured people on the other side of the church. I walk over to him, careful not to step on any sleeping bodies, and stand by his side. He looks up at me with a quiet sadness in his eyes and

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says, “Mrs. Collins isn’t doing well at all. I fear she won’t make it through the night.” I put my hand on his shoulder. He’s getting too old for this. “All this, just from a scratch made by one of those… things?” I ask. “It seems so Gloria,” he says, rising to his feet. “I just hope no one else gets hurt.” “Father, those things are people’s loved ones– their mothers and fathers, their children!” I say, looking into his dull gray eyes. “What are we going to tell them?” His face hardens in a way that I have never seen before, the wrinkles aging his face, turning into cracks and crags of stone. His bushy eyebrows draw in and his lips tighten. Even he is lost and hurt by this fresh Hell. “I don’t know Gloria. I just don’t.” Screams. Confusion. I’m lying next to the twins on a pile of extra robes. They’re the only things I could find to rest on. Someone has grabbed a torch, and I see burning bodies crawling on the floor. I guess they thought that fire would stop the dead. They were wrong. I quickly awaken the twins and pull them up. We need to get out of here. “Gloria, what’s going on?” asks Hayden, rubbing the sleep out of his eyes. “Shhhh! Be quiet and follow me, both of you.” I try to shield them from the chaos happening on the other side of the dark church, where the injured people are attacking their healthy relatives, but Olivia manages to peek around my robes like a toddler peeking out from behind her mother. “Gloria, it’s Father McArthur!” she yells. “We have to help him!” I look behind and see that she’s right. He’s desperately waving another torch in the face of old Mrs. Collins. Half of her body is burned off and melted down to the bone, but she is still clawing at him savagely. “Hayden, take your sister into the back room behind the alter. Here’s the keys.” He looks at me in terror but nods and takes them. “Do not leave without me, got it? We’ll go out the back

door,” I say. He nods, grabs Olivia’s hand, and starts running. In the mean time, I run up to the altar behind them and grab the heavy golden cross sitting there. It’s the only thing I can think of that will take out those abominations, though it kills me to desecrate a holy relic. If only the fire would kill them! Screaming to try and mask my fear, I rush at Mrs. Collins and swing it at her head, straight and true. She collapses, the cross bashing open her skull, but I can hear the other things breaking through our barricaded front door. I look at Father McArthur, and he stares at me in horror, his mouth wide open in shock. I have never been more disgusted with myself. “Father, please forgive me, but we need to go. NOW.” He’s breathing heavily, and he starts slowly shaking his head no, but I grab his wrist and

start pulling, the cross still in my other hand. He doesn’t resist. I clear the way to the door behind the altar with the cross, hating myself more with each swing. It’s slightly ajar, which means that the twins made it through. Father follows behind me and closes it behind us to separate ourselves from the chaos in his church. I rush forward and find both kids waiting patiently by the door to the back parking lot. Olivia is crying, the tears silently streaming down her face. “Gloria!” she screams, but I shush her and drop the bloody cross, grabbing the church van keys from a desk by the door. “Now’s not the time Olivia. We need to go.” She looks at Father McArthur, and he nods. He winces in pain, grabbing his shoulder. “Hayden. Olivia. I need you both to go straight to the van and wait for me there. Lock the doors

Analog haze by Spencer Eiseman film photography

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F I C TION

LORD, GIVE ME PEACE Allison Linafelter

“G

I

loria, is mom coming back?” Olivia asks me, her sweet little round face filled with confusion and fear. Her twin brother, Hayden, looks back at her with sadness and grabs her hand. They’re both only 11, but he’s always been the more mature one. “Olivia, we just don’t know enough about this illness to tell, but I don’t think so.” I watch her face fall as I reply, but I’ve never been one for telling kids lies to make them feel better. My job in the church is to counsel grieving families, and when these two lost their father to suicide, I had done my best to tell them the truth in the kindest way possible. I pull them both into a tight hug and add, “You’ve got me, right here and right now, and I promise to always take care of you both.” She looks up at me with her big blue eyes, overflowing with tears, and attempts a trembling smile. I wipe away her guess they thought that fire would tears with the sleeve of stop the dead. They were wrong. my black nun’s habit. Hayden pulls away and tugs at her hand, saying, “See? I told you, Sister Gloria will always take good care of us!” Grateful for his attempt to lighten the mood, I laugh and ruffle his blond hair. “Of course I will! Now, I think it’s time for both of you to go to sleep. We’ve all had to deal with a lot.” I tuck both of them into their separate sleeping bags, nestled in the dark corner of the church where the rest of the refugees are sheltered. “Alright, make sure you both say your prayers and give thanks for what we still have.” I kiss each twin on the forehead and whisper, “Remember, you are loved by your parents, by me, and by God.” “I love you too,” they both whisper in unison as if their matching dirty-blond hair and blue eyes weren’t enough to prove that they were twins. “Goodnight,” I say, but they’ve both drifted off to sleep, exhausted from their grueling day. In the dark, I see Father McArthur checking up on the injured people on the other side of the church. I walk over to him, careful not to step on any sleeping bodies, and stand by his side. He looks up at me with a quiet sadness in his eyes and

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says, “Mrs. Collins isn’t doing well at all. I fear she won’t make it through the night.” I put my hand on his shoulder. He’s getting too old for this. “All this, just from a scratch made by one of those… things?” I ask. “It seems so Gloria,” he says, rising to his feet. “I just hope no one else gets hurt.” “Father, those things are people’s loved ones– their mothers and fathers, their children!” I say, looking into his dull gray eyes. “What are we going to tell them?” His face hardens in a way that I have never seen before, the wrinkles aging his face, turning into cracks and crags of stone. His bushy eyebrows draw in and his lips tighten. Even he is lost and hurt by this fresh Hell. “I don’t know Gloria. I just don’t.” Screams. Confusion. I’m lying next to the twins on a pile of extra robes. They’re the only things I could find to rest on. Someone has grabbed a torch, and I see burning bodies crawling on the floor. I guess they thought that fire would stop the dead. They were wrong. I quickly awaken the twins and pull them up. We need to get out of here. “Gloria, what’s going on?” asks Hayden, rubbing the sleep out of his eyes. “Shhhh! Be quiet and follow me, both of you.” I try to shield them from the chaos happening on the other side of the dark church, where the injured people are attacking their healthy relatives, but Olivia manages to peek around my robes like a toddler peeking out from behind her mother. “Gloria, it’s Father McArthur!” she yells. “We have to help him!” I look behind and see that she’s right. He’s desperately waving another torch in the face of old Mrs. Collins. Half of her body is burned off and melted down to the bone, but she is still clawing at him savagely. “Hayden, take your sister into the back room behind the alter. Here’s the keys.” He looks at me in terror but nods and takes them. “Do not leave without me, got it? We’ll go out the back

door,” I say. He nods, grabs Olivia’s hand, and starts running. In the mean time, I run up to the altar behind them and grab the heavy golden cross sitting there. It’s the only thing I can think of that will take out those abominations, though it kills me to desecrate a holy relic. If only the fire would kill them! Screaming to try and mask my fear, I rush at Mrs. Collins and swing it at her head, straight and true. She collapses, the cross bashing open her skull, but I can hear the other things breaking through our barricaded front door. I look at Father McArthur, and he stares at me in horror, his mouth wide open in shock. I have never been more disgusted with myself. “Father, please forgive me, but we need to go. NOW.” He’s breathing heavily, and he starts slowly shaking his head no, but I grab his wrist and

start pulling, the cross still in my other hand. He doesn’t resist. I clear the way to the door behind the altar with the cross, hating myself more with each swing. It’s slightly ajar, which means that the twins made it through. Father follows behind me and closes it behind us to separate ourselves from the chaos in his church. I rush forward and find both kids waiting patiently by the door to the back parking lot. Olivia is crying, the tears silently streaming down her face. “Gloria!” she screams, but I shush her and drop the bloody cross, grabbing the church van keys from a desk by the door. “Now’s not the time Olivia. We need to go.” She looks at Father McArthur, and he nods. He winces in pain, grabbing his shoulder. “Hayden. Olivia. I need you both to go straight to the van and wait for me there. Lock the doors

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until you see me,” I say quietly, staring down the elderly priest, daring him to question me. Hayden grabs the keys. I hear the door open and close, and I know that it’s safe for me to do what I fear needs to be done. “Father, have you been bit?” “Y–Yes,” he replies, “it happened right after you left, and I didn’t have the courage to say anything.” I look into his sad gray eyes and notice that they are squinting in pain. My eyes turn to his injured shoulder and see that dark, black blood is covering his once-white robe. It had been impossible to tell earlier in the melee of screaming people and burning bodies. “Father–!“ I Now, practicality and the will to exclaim as I reach survive are more important to me out to him, trying to give him some sort of than a uniform for an order that comfort. “No, Gloria. Look died with everyone else. into my eyes.” I comply and see that they are tearing up. Those gray pools beg me to listen carefully to his words. “Gloria, there is a fully-loaded shotgun behind that desk for emergencies. I didn’t want to, but with all the strange attacks lately, one of our parishioners left it for me.” “No, no, Father, I can’t!” I yell at him, angry that he is forcing me to do this. He grabs my shoulders and looks deep into my eyes, his own eyes pleading with me to do what he asks. “Yes. You can. You have to. I’m ordering you to.” My tears are clouding my vision, but I manage to find the gun. It’s hard to breathe with the sobs ripping through my chest, but I do what he says. He kneels to the ground in exhaustion and pain, but he looks up at me one last time and says, “I forgive you, and I absolve you of your sins.” He looks down, and I shoot a gun for the first time in many years. It’s dark outside, but the flames engulfing the church illuminate the panicked face of those desperately running from the mangled, gaping faces 34

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of the dead. The noises and bright light must have drawn more of them here. I run to the van where Hayden, thank the Lord for that boy, has settled himself and his sister. Their small, wan faces peer through the glass. Both brighten up when they see me, but I can tell that Hayden knows what happened to Father McArthur. Olivia hurriedly unlocks the van, and I jump in, slamming the door behind me. Some of those things have noticed us. The van roars to life, and I quickly put it in reverse, but before I can drive off to safety, a snarling face appears at Hayden’s side window. Both of the twins scream, but another word follows. “Mom!” Olivia yells, unbuckling her seatbelt and trying to reach past her brother. The woman who once cared for them and loved them deeply pounds on the glass, her teeth gnashing together. “No, Hayden, grab her!” I yell at him, but she thrashes against him, kicking and screeching. He manages to hold her long enough for me to reverse the van past the bloody woman staring at her children. Olivia’s screams and eventual crying keep us all on edge as I drive as far away as possible, deep into the countryside. She finally falls asleep on her twin’s shoulder, the one place she can always find comfort, and I see Hayden crying into her hair through the rearview mirror. He always makes sure to look strong for her and only breaks down when he knows she isn’t looking. The night passes on and our lives resume. I try to avoid remembering that night, but it always comes back to me when I’m alone, even after five years. While waiting for the twins to finish filling up our water jugs, I can’t help but wonder if I’ll see a repeat of that night someday. They should be back by now. They’re both teenagers for goodness sake. It can’t be that hard to fill up water bottles! The sun’s starting to set, and they know what happens after that. “Gloria, come quick!” Hayden yells as he runs out of the cover of the trees towards our church van. I see that Olivia is running right behind him

and relax, but only a little. I jog closer to them, and the wind rushes past my face, making me miss the feeling of a wimple covering my head. You’d be surprised how protective it is when the dead rise up, but I discarded it with the rest of my outfit long ago, preferring jeans, a long sleeve T-shirt, and the cross necklace the Reverend Mother gave me at my final vows ceremony. I even keep the gold ring that marks me as a bride of Christ. I’m not sure any of that applies to anything anymore though. Now, practicality and the will to survive are more important to me than a uniform for an order that died with everyone else. We meet at the side of the cracked, deserted highway covered in weeds, and I ask, “What is it? Are either of you hurt?” “No,” says Olivia, in between gasps. “We’re not

hurt, but a lot of other people are. Or were”. I look at Hayden for confirmation, and he nods, his stringy, dirty hair whipping up as the wind howls around us. “Alright, so what happened?” I ask. “Well, we went to that stream on the map like you said,” Olivia begins, but Hayden interrupts her. “But we noticed an abandoned camp downstream”. I’ve never seen siblings finish each others sentences like they do, and to be quite honest, it’s pretty aggravating. It takes twice as long for them to tell me what’s happened when time could be of the essence. “Okay, Hayden, you take watch, and Olivia, you tell the story. And no more interrupting! Got that?” I order, glaring at both.

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until you see me,” I say quietly, staring down the elderly priest, daring him to question me. Hayden grabs the keys. I hear the door open and close, and I know that it’s safe for me to do what I fear needs to be done. “Father, have you been bit?” “Y–Yes,” he replies, “it happened right after you left, and I didn’t have the courage to say anything.” I look into his sad gray eyes and notice that they are squinting in pain. My eyes turn to his injured shoulder and see that dark, black blood is covering his once-white robe. It had been impossible to tell earlier in the melee of screaming people and burning bodies. “Father–!“ I Now, practicality and the will to exclaim as I reach survive are more important to me out to him, trying to give him some sort of than a uniform for an order that comfort. “No, Gloria. Look died with everyone else. into my eyes.” I comply and see that they are tearing up. Those gray pools beg me to listen carefully to his words. “Gloria, there is a fully-loaded shotgun behind that desk for emergencies. I didn’t want to, but with all the strange attacks lately, one of our parishioners left it for me.” “No, no, Father, I can’t!” I yell at him, angry that he is forcing me to do this. He grabs my shoulders and looks deep into my eyes, his own eyes pleading with me to do what he asks. “Yes. You can. You have to. I’m ordering you to.” My tears are clouding my vision, but I manage to find the gun. It’s hard to breathe with the sobs ripping through my chest, but I do what he says. He kneels to the ground in exhaustion and pain, but he looks up at me one last time and says, “I forgive you, and I absolve you of your sins.” He looks down, and I shoot a gun for the first time in many years. It’s dark outside, but the flames engulfing the church illuminate the panicked face of those desperately running from the mangled, gaping faces 34

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of the dead. The noises and bright light must have drawn more of them here. I run to the van where Hayden, thank the Lord for that boy, has settled himself and his sister. Their small, wan faces peer through the glass. Both brighten up when they see me, but I can tell that Hayden knows what happened to Father McArthur. Olivia hurriedly unlocks the van, and I jump in, slamming the door behind me. Some of those things have noticed us. The van roars to life, and I quickly put it in reverse, but before I can drive off to safety, a snarling face appears at Hayden’s side window. Both of the twins scream, but another word follows. “Mom!” Olivia yells, unbuckling her seatbelt and trying to reach past her brother. The woman who once cared for them and loved them deeply pounds on the glass, her teeth gnashing together. “No, Hayden, grab her!” I yell at him, but she thrashes against him, kicking and screeching. He manages to hold her long enough for me to reverse the van past the bloody woman staring at her children. Olivia’s screams and eventual crying keep us all on edge as I drive as far away as possible, deep into the countryside. She finally falls asleep on her twin’s shoulder, the one place she can always find comfort, and I see Hayden crying into her hair through the rearview mirror. He always makes sure to look strong for her and only breaks down when he knows she isn’t looking. The night passes on and our lives resume. I try to avoid remembering that night, but it always comes back to me when I’m alone, even after five years. While waiting for the twins to finish filling up our water jugs, I can’t help but wonder if I’ll see a repeat of that night someday. They should be back by now. They’re both teenagers for goodness sake. It can’t be that hard to fill up water bottles! The sun’s starting to set, and they know what happens after that. “Gloria, come quick!” Hayden yells as he runs out of the cover of the trees towards our church van. I see that Olivia is running right behind him

and relax, but only a little. I jog closer to them, and the wind rushes past my face, making me miss the feeling of a wimple covering my head. You’d be surprised how protective it is when the dead rise up, but I discarded it with the rest of my outfit long ago, preferring jeans, a long sleeve T-shirt, and the cross necklace the Reverend Mother gave me at my final vows ceremony. I even keep the gold ring that marks me as a bride of Christ. I’m not sure any of that applies to anything anymore though. Now, practicality and the will to survive are more important to me than a uniform for an order that died with everyone else. We meet at the side of the cracked, deserted highway covered in weeds, and I ask, “What is it? Are either of you hurt?” “No,” says Olivia, in between gasps. “We’re not

hurt, but a lot of other people are. Or were”. I look at Hayden for confirmation, and he nods, his stringy, dirty hair whipping up as the wind howls around us. “Alright, so what happened?” I ask. “Well, we went to that stream on the map like you said,” Olivia begins, but Hayden interrupts her. “But we noticed an abandoned camp downstream”. I’ve never seen siblings finish each others sentences like they do, and to be quite honest, it’s pretty aggravating. It takes twice as long for them to tell me what’s happened when time could be of the essence. “Okay, Hayden, you take watch, and Olivia, you tell the story. And no more interrupting! Got that?” I order, glaring at both.

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“Sorry Gloria,” Olivia mumbles as Hayden takes his place next to us, carefully watching our perimeter just like I taught him to. “So, we came upon this camp, and there were bodies everywhere!” she tells me, her eyes wide. “It wasn’t too recent though. Most of them were all eaten up, and the ones who weren’t couldn’t even move to attack us,” she says. “We wanted to give them their last rights like you taught us, but then we heard a noise from the surrounding trees and ran to come get you just in case.” I sigh, relieved that nothing happened them. “Good, I’m glad you both found me before doing anything,” I tell her. Hayden, who was listening in the whole time, I start walking, and they chimes in, “Let’s go scout behind me, my own little it out together.” He looks troop of Crusaders. at Olivia and then at me. “We might find a survivor,” he says, “or even some extra supplies”. I notice Olivia give Hayden a small look of fear before nodding her head, but she is just going to have to get past her fear of the dead. I can’t baby her anymore. I’ve allowed her to hang back and wait in the car far too many times now. I start walking, and they fall in behind me, my own little troop of Crusaders. We reach the camp, and it is torn to pieces. Flies buzz over mutilated bodies lying everywhich-way, and a few are moving around, desperately trying to grab at anything they can eat. Blood and gore cover the trampled grass, and the smell wafting through the hot air is disgusting. There was definitely a struggle here. I don’t think many people made it out, dead or alive. It seems safe enough now though, and I know Hayden can take care of both his twin and himself, so I decide to give them a little extra responsibility. After all, I’m not going to be around forever. Someday they might have to take care of themselves without me. “You both take care of the ones unable to walk and then search for supplies. I’ll go around the perimeter and find any stragglers, okay?” Hayden raises his eyebrows and says, “Okay

Gloria, whatever you say”. “But Gloria!” Olivia says, “I can’t–.” “Olivia, you are going to have to learn how to deal with this stuff!” I reply. “When people are in danger, you have to act!” I can tell from the look on her face that she needs some extra reassurance, so I add, “I know you can do this.” She just glares at me, huffs, and walks away to join her brother. Typical teenager. I pull the hunting knife out of his eye, making an ugly squishing sound. I wipe off the congealed blood and bits of brain on the grass and then stick it back into the sheath on my belt. I sigh and look dejectedly at the man’s mummified face. Another one of the flock gone. For good this time. He must have been one of the dead ones that attacked that camp. I’m glad I left Olivia and Hayden behind to search for supplies while I took care of the surrounding ones. Olivia just isn’t made to handle this kind of stuff. She’s good at the final rights and prayers though, and for that I’m grateful. I guess they’ll always just have to work as a team. He’ll take out the dead ones, and she’ll console him and pray for everyone’s souls. Lord knows we all need it. “In sure and certain hope of the resurrection to eternal life through our Lord Jesus Christ,” I begin the prayer, its familiar words slipping easily off my tongue, “we commend to Almighty God our brother, and we commit his body to the ground; earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust,” I add, my eyes as dry as the dust I am speaking of. I wonder if I will ever have the strength to cry again. “The Lord bless him and keep him, the Lord make His face to shine upon him and be gracious unto him and give him peace,” I intone, sprinkling some loose dirt over this poor man’s body, the best funeral he will likely get. I just don’t have the time or energy to give him the proper burial each person deserves. I wonder what has become of this world, where each faithful Christian was promised the resurrection of the dead, but I don’t think anyone expected it to be like this. Never like this.

The clearing around me is overgrown with weeds and a few colorful flowers, but I can’t help but stare at the pool of diseased black blood spreading around this man’s mangled skull. The sound of a stick breaking among the trees surrounding the clearing pulls me from my foolish thoughts. I aim my rifle near where I heard the sound, afraid of what might stumble towards me. “Hayden, Olivia, is that you?” I yell, hoping I can handle whatever is about to happen. “Whoa, whoa, whoa, hold it there, sister! I don’t mean no harm!” says a man emerging from the tree line. He’s extremely dirty and tired-looking, but who isn’t anymore? He holds up his hands as a sign of peace. He’s dressed in flannel and jeans, and every wrinkle in his face shows the kind of pain he’s experienced. I’m sure my face must look the same to him. After all, I am 45 now. How time flies in the apocalypse. “Who are you? And why were you spying on me?” I say, not putting down my gun. I wish I could trust him, but that time is gone. “I’m sorry,” he yells across the distance, “I just wasn’t sure if I could trust you. But now that I see from the cross around your neck that you’re a woman of God, you can’t be that bad, can ya?” he adds, slowing putting down his hands. I don’t stop him, but I don’t put down my gun either. “I suppose you can trust me, but how can I know that I can trust you?” I search his eyes for any sign of a liar. Or that he’s been bit. After all, he could have been attacked with the people at that camp. The eyes are where you can really start to tell if a person is losing it. His eyes are a clear gray, though, and they look as sincere as he can possibly make them. They remind me of the eyes of Father McArthur–filled with compassion. “You’ll just have to have a little faith I guess,” he replies. I sigh and slowly lower my rifle. I suppose I’ve always been too trusting. “Alright, suppose I trust you. A little. What do you want?” I choose not to let him know that I know about the camp in case he’s the one who attacked them and start-

ed it all. People do crazy things to survive. I should know. I’m one of them now. He approaches me slowly, raising up his hands a little again as if approaching a dangerous animal. As he gets closer, I can see the scars on his hands, the dried blood on his shirt, and the ginger color of his hair tucked under a baseball cap. “Why do I have to want something from ya, sister?” I scoff, “It’s the damn apocalypse! Everybody wants something, and you’re not the first one I’ve had to deal with.” Threats don’t come natural to me, but I have to keep the twins safe. He’s finally at a talking distance from me, and I note the slight stagger to his step and the blood on his shirt. I can see the old laugh lines around his eyes crinkle when he cracks a halfsmile at me. No one smiles all the way anymore. “You’re one tough cookie, you know that?” I bark out a laugh, surprising even myself. “I’ve never had people, especially men, be afraid of me until the end of the world!” Today is turning out to be interesting, but I still don’t know where this conversation is going. That worries me, though I try to ignore it. He lets out a loud guffaw, scaring away the crows eyeing the other man’s bloated corpse. “With such a short, skinny thing like yourself, I’m not surprised they weren’t afraid!” he replies. It’s nice to talk to someone who isn’t a teenager and who isn’t trying to eat you. His eyes grow serious and he starts clutching at his chest. Now that he’s closer, I can hear that

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“Sorry Gloria,” Olivia mumbles as Hayden takes his place next to us, carefully watching our perimeter just like I taught him to. “So, we came upon this camp, and there were bodies everywhere!” she tells me, her eyes wide. “It wasn’t too recent though. Most of them were all eaten up, and the ones who weren’t couldn’t even move to attack us,” she says. “We wanted to give them their last rights like you taught us, but then we heard a noise from the surrounding trees and ran to come get you just in case.” I sigh, relieved that nothing happened them. “Good, I’m glad you both found me before doing anything,” I tell her. Hayden, who was listening in the whole time, I start walking, and they chimes in, “Let’s go scout behind me, my own little it out together.” He looks troop of Crusaders. at Olivia and then at me. “We might find a survivor,” he says, “or even some extra supplies”. I notice Olivia give Hayden a small look of fear before nodding her head, but she is just going to have to get past her fear of the dead. I can’t baby her anymore. I’ve allowed her to hang back and wait in the car far too many times now. I start walking, and they fall in behind me, my own little troop of Crusaders. We reach the camp, and it is torn to pieces. Flies buzz over mutilated bodies lying everywhich-way, and a few are moving around, desperately trying to grab at anything they can eat. Blood and gore cover the trampled grass, and the smell wafting through the hot air is disgusting. There was definitely a struggle here. I don’t think many people made it out, dead or alive. It seems safe enough now though, and I know Hayden can take care of both his twin and himself, so I decide to give them a little extra responsibility. After all, I’m not going to be around forever. Someday they might have to take care of themselves without me. “You both take care of the ones unable to walk and then search for supplies. I’ll go around the perimeter and find any stragglers, okay?” Hayden raises his eyebrows and says, “Okay

Gloria, whatever you say”. “But Gloria!” Olivia says, “I can’t–.” “Olivia, you are going to have to learn how to deal with this stuff!” I reply. “When people are in danger, you have to act!” I can tell from the look on her face that she needs some extra reassurance, so I add, “I know you can do this.” She just glares at me, huffs, and walks away to join her brother. Typical teenager. I pull the hunting knife out of his eye, making an ugly squishing sound. I wipe off the congealed blood and bits of brain on the grass and then stick it back into the sheath on my belt. I sigh and look dejectedly at the man’s mummified face. Another one of the flock gone. For good this time. He must have been one of the dead ones that attacked that camp. I’m glad I left Olivia and Hayden behind to search for supplies while I took care of the surrounding ones. Olivia just isn’t made to handle this kind of stuff. She’s good at the final rights and prayers though, and for that I’m grateful. I guess they’ll always just have to work as a team. He’ll take out the dead ones, and she’ll console him and pray for everyone’s souls. Lord knows we all need it. “In sure and certain hope of the resurrection to eternal life through our Lord Jesus Christ,” I begin the prayer, its familiar words slipping easily off my tongue, “we commend to Almighty God our brother, and we commit his body to the ground; earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust,” I add, my eyes as dry as the dust I am speaking of. I wonder if I will ever have the strength to cry again. “The Lord bless him and keep him, the Lord make His face to shine upon him and be gracious unto him and give him peace,” I intone, sprinkling some loose dirt over this poor man’s body, the best funeral he will likely get. I just don’t have the time or energy to give him the proper burial each person deserves. I wonder what has become of this world, where each faithful Christian was promised the resurrection of the dead, but I don’t think anyone expected it to be like this. Never like this.

The clearing around me is overgrown with weeds and a few colorful flowers, but I can’t help but stare at the pool of diseased black blood spreading around this man’s mangled skull. The sound of a stick breaking among the trees surrounding the clearing pulls me from my foolish thoughts. I aim my rifle near where I heard the sound, afraid of what might stumble towards me. “Hayden, Olivia, is that you?” I yell, hoping I can handle whatever is about to happen. “Whoa, whoa, whoa, hold it there, sister! I don’t mean no harm!” says a man emerging from the tree line. He’s extremely dirty and tired-looking, but who isn’t anymore? He holds up his hands as a sign of peace. He’s dressed in flannel and jeans, and every wrinkle in his face shows the kind of pain he’s experienced. I’m sure my face must look the same to him. After all, I am 45 now. How time flies in the apocalypse. “Who are you? And why were you spying on me?” I say, not putting down my gun. I wish I could trust him, but that time is gone. “I’m sorry,” he yells across the distance, “I just wasn’t sure if I could trust you. But now that I see from the cross around your neck that you’re a woman of God, you can’t be that bad, can ya?” he adds, slowing putting down his hands. I don’t stop him, but I don’t put down my gun either. “I suppose you can trust me, but how can I know that I can trust you?” I search his eyes for any sign of a liar. Or that he’s been bit. After all, he could have been attacked with the people at that camp. The eyes are where you can really start to tell if a person is losing it. His eyes are a clear gray, though, and they look as sincere as he can possibly make them. They remind me of the eyes of Father McArthur–filled with compassion. “You’ll just have to have a little faith I guess,” he replies. I sigh and slowly lower my rifle. I suppose I’ve always been too trusting. “Alright, suppose I trust you. A little. What do you want?” I choose not to let him know that I know about the camp in case he’s the one who attacked them and start-

ed it all. People do crazy things to survive. I should know. I’m one of them now. He approaches me slowly, raising up his hands a little again as if approaching a dangerous animal. As he gets closer, I can see the scars on his hands, the dried blood on his shirt, and the ginger color of his hair tucked under a baseball cap. “Why do I have to want something from ya, sister?” I scoff, “It’s the damn apocalypse! Everybody wants something, and you’re not the first one I’ve had to deal with.” Threats don’t come natural to me, but I have to keep the twins safe. He’s finally at a talking distance from me, and I note the slight stagger to his step and the blood on his shirt. I can see the old laugh lines around his eyes crinkle when he cracks a halfsmile at me. No one smiles all the way anymore. “You’re one tough cookie, you know that?” I bark out a laugh, surprising even myself. “I’ve never had people, especially men, be afraid of me until the end of the world!” Today is turning out to be interesting, but I still don’t know where this conversation is going. That worries me, though I try to ignore it. He lets out a loud guffaw, scaring away the crows eyeing the other man’s bloated corpse. “With such a short, skinny thing like yourself, I’m not surprised they weren’t afraid!” he replies. It’s nice to talk to someone who isn’t a teenager and who isn’t trying to eat you. His eyes grow serious and he starts clutching at his chest. Now that he’s closer, I can hear that

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his breathing is heavy, and I instinctively know that things are about to turn sour. He somberly asks, “So you’re a religious person right? Maybe even a nun or something? I can probably guess from your prayer over that dead guy and again from the cross around your neck, but I just wanna make sure.” “Yes. Before all of this happened, I was a Catholic nun living and working in Independence, Kansas. But now, my mission is to put every one of these children of God out of their misery and help out worthy survivors to the best of my abilities. I’ve had problems before when people tried to ask me for help, but I think I can find it in myself to help you.” “Nowadays, the right to death is almost His face relaxes when he more important than the right to life.” hears my answer, proving his guess correct. “Good, good, I think you’re the perfect person to help me,” he says quietly, his raspy voice speaking almost to himself. “Are you alright?” I ask, feeling my concern scrunch up my eyebrows, adding to the wrinkles I know are already there. Now that he’s close to me, I can really tell that he doesn’t look the best. The blood trailing down his shirt has spread, and sweat beads on his forehead. “You said you’d help me, right?” he asks, ignoring my question. “Yes, of course I will. I always stick to my word.” His hands are shaking, and I think he’s crying. He carefully unbuttons his flannel and pulls it to the side to reveal a wound. It’s in a shape that I know all too well. A bite. The skin around the oozing tear is bright red, a telltale sign of infection. His voice is shaking as well as his hands now, and he tells me, “I was hoping you could help me out like how you helped out that poor fella over there.” He gulps and looks faint. I rush over to lower him to the ground before he can fall on his own. I can hear my own tears creep into my voice 38

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as I reply to him. “Nowadays, the right to death is almost more important than the right to life. I’ll take good care of you. It’s my duty.” He smiles and looks to be at peace. It’s probably the first peace he’s felt in a while. “Clean and quick?” he whispers as I slowly back up, giving myself room to aim. “Clean and quick,” I reply, trying to keep my hand from shaking too much. He deserves an easy death after this Hell that we’ve both been through. “Thank you,” he sighs, as I sight along the barrel of my gun. Suddenly, three loud pops, a sound almost like firecrackers, fill the air. My eyes grow wide. “Hayden and Olivia,” I whisper. He looks up at me in confusion, his eyes glazed, and wheezes out, “What’s the matter, I thought you would help me?” I bite my lip, desperately trying to hold myself together in order to fulfill my promise to him before replying, “Nothing’s the matter. There’s nothing to worry about.” He nods, and I quickly say, “God bless you, and may He carry you swiftly into Heaven’s arms.” He closes his eyes for the last time. More gunshots ring throughout the forest as I run as fast as possible back to that Godforsaken camp. I wipe the tears streaming from my eyes and wonder how in the world one tragedy could possibly turn into so many others. This is just the kind of situation I’ve been trying to avoid by staying completely off the grid for the last five years, but in the apocalypse, that’s almost impossible. I silently mouth the Lord’s Prayer to myself–for the twins and for me. I don’t know if I can keep doing this. “Olivia! Hayden!” I scream when I near the camp. My own yells are answered by someone else’s ear-shattering scream. In my panic, I trip over an almost-severed arm, barely attached to a writhing body. I scream in anger at the abomination attempting to grab my leg. Its discolored hands are covered in dried blood, but the rest of it is too mangled to

get up. I frantically kick at it until the heel of my boot connects with its rotting skull. I scramble up to my feet and unsheathe my knife and deliver a final blow to its brain. As I look up, shaking off the congealed, goopy blood dripping from my knife, I see them. “Hayden!” Olivia screams as she desperately tries to pull the mess of her brother’s body away from a rotter. I can already tell that he doesn’t have a chance by the amount of dark red covering both of them. Stoically, I let her grieve and hold him in his last moments. I aim my rifle at the thing about to attack her instead. My gunshots cover the chaotic sounds of Hayden screaming and Olivia sobbing. All this noise is going to draw every person around, living or dead, to us. Thankfully, Hayden had

managed to take out most of the dead ones before being attacked, so I didn’t have to waste very many bullets finishing the job. I rush over to Olivia and Hayden just as he lets out one final gurgling, choked breath. Half of his neck is gone, and his blood streams over his already dirty T-shirt and Olivia’s once pristine blouse. I hold Olivia in my arms for as long as possible before pulling away. “You know what we need to do now,” I say, searching her eyes for the strength I know is buried there somewhere. “Y–yes,” she whimpers, trying to hold my gaze without looking back at the wreckage of Hayden’s body. She fails and starts sobbing all over again. I carefully pull her away from him and say to her, “Don’t worry Olivia, everything will be alright.

Angkor Wat by Brianna Harding photograph

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his breathing is heavy, and I instinctively know that things are about to turn sour. He somberly asks, “So you’re a religious person right? Maybe even a nun or something? I can probably guess from your prayer over that dead guy and again from the cross around your neck, but I just wanna make sure.” “Yes. Before all of this happened, I was a Catholic nun living and working in Independence, Kansas. But now, my mission is to put every one of these children of God out of their misery and help out worthy survivors to the best of my abilities. I’ve had problems before when people tried to ask me for help, but I think I can find it in myself to help you.” “Nowadays, the right to death is almost His face relaxes when he more important than the right to life.” hears my answer, proving his guess correct. “Good, good, I think you’re the perfect person to help me,” he says quietly, his raspy voice speaking almost to himself. “Are you alright?” I ask, feeling my concern scrunch up my eyebrows, adding to the wrinkles I know are already there. Now that he’s close to me, I can really tell that he doesn’t look the best. The blood trailing down his shirt has spread, and sweat beads on his forehead. “You said you’d help me, right?” he asks, ignoring my question. “Yes, of course I will. I always stick to my word.” His hands are shaking, and I think he’s crying. He carefully unbuttons his flannel and pulls it to the side to reveal a wound. It’s in a shape that I know all too well. A bite. The skin around the oozing tear is bright red, a telltale sign of infection. His voice is shaking as well as his hands now, and he tells me, “I was hoping you could help me out like how you helped out that poor fella over there.” He gulps and looks faint. I rush over to lower him to the ground before he can fall on his own. I can hear my own tears creep into my voice 38

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as I reply to him. “Nowadays, the right to death is almost more important than the right to life. I’ll take good care of you. It’s my duty.” He smiles and looks to be at peace. It’s probably the first peace he’s felt in a while. “Clean and quick?” he whispers as I slowly back up, giving myself room to aim. “Clean and quick,” I reply, trying to keep my hand from shaking too much. He deserves an easy death after this Hell that we’ve both been through. “Thank you,” he sighs, as I sight along the barrel of my gun. Suddenly, three loud pops, a sound almost like firecrackers, fill the air. My eyes grow wide. “Hayden and Olivia,” I whisper. He looks up at me in confusion, his eyes glazed, and wheezes out, “What’s the matter, I thought you would help me?” I bite my lip, desperately trying to hold myself together in order to fulfill my promise to him before replying, “Nothing’s the matter. There’s nothing to worry about.” He nods, and I quickly say, “God bless you, and may He carry you swiftly into Heaven’s arms.” He closes his eyes for the last time. More gunshots ring throughout the forest as I run as fast as possible back to that Godforsaken camp. I wipe the tears streaming from my eyes and wonder how in the world one tragedy could possibly turn into so many others. This is just the kind of situation I’ve been trying to avoid by staying completely off the grid for the last five years, but in the apocalypse, that’s almost impossible. I silently mouth the Lord’s Prayer to myself–for the twins and for me. I don’t know if I can keep doing this. “Olivia! Hayden!” I scream when I near the camp. My own yells are answered by someone else’s ear-shattering scream. In my panic, I trip over an almost-severed arm, barely attached to a writhing body. I scream in anger at the abomination attempting to grab my leg. Its discolored hands are covered in dried blood, but the rest of it is too mangled to

get up. I frantically kick at it until the heel of my boot connects with its rotting skull. I scramble up to my feet and unsheathe my knife and deliver a final blow to its brain. As I look up, shaking off the congealed, goopy blood dripping from my knife, I see them. “Hayden!” Olivia screams as she desperately tries to pull the mess of her brother’s body away from a rotter. I can already tell that he doesn’t have a chance by the amount of dark red covering both of them. Stoically, I let her grieve and hold him in his last moments. I aim my rifle at the thing about to attack her instead. My gunshots cover the chaotic sounds of Hayden screaming and Olivia sobbing. All this noise is going to draw every person around, living or dead, to us. Thankfully, Hayden had

managed to take out most of the dead ones before being attacked, so I didn’t have to waste very many bullets finishing the job. I rush over to Olivia and Hayden just as he lets out one final gurgling, choked breath. Half of his neck is gone, and his blood streams over his already dirty T-shirt and Olivia’s once pristine blouse. I hold Olivia in my arms for as long as possible before pulling away. “You know what we need to do now,” I say, searching her eyes for the strength I know is buried there somewhere. “Y–yes,” she whimpers, trying to hold my gaze without looking back at the wreckage of Hayden’s body. She fails and starts sobbing all over again. I carefully pull her away from him and say to her, “Don’t worry Olivia, everything will be alright.

Angkor Wat by Brianna Harding photograph

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P OET R Y

Blood Megan Gies

Stitches by Bre Van Bochove ink pen and watercolor

I can take care of this. You just look away and watch my back for me, okay?” I need to show her that we can come back from this, otherwise, what’s the point anymore? She’s holding her middle as if that can magically hold her emotions in check as well, and nods, unable to speak through her hiccupping sobs. I take out my knife again and look up at the blue sky, wishing to whatever merciful God might still be out there that I didn’t have to. I try my best to clean it with my filthy shirt. Hayden deserves that much. I kneel next to him, and Olivia lets out a wail. I try my best to ignore her and instead focus on my own emotions. I had counseled Hayden and his sister when they lost their father back in the old days. I had loved them both as if they were my own children and had done my best to support them and their mother. I had never guessed that I would have pretty much adopted them the day the world ended. Now here we are, and I still love them both. How are we to carry on with our mission when one of our own has perished? As I prepare myself to do what must be done, I realize that maybe this was how God must have felt when he condemned his only Son to die. I don’t pretend to be like Him, but I never fully understood the strength that must have taken until now. I wonder if that’s why He has condemned us sinners to this living Hell. One stubborn sob escapes my mouth as I raise my shaking knife. I bring it down and hear Olivia wail one last time. I don’t know if she’ll ever be able to cry like this again. I turn away and rest my head in my hand, too tired to do anything else. Olivia comes up to me and rests her hand on my shoulder, much

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like I did with Father McArthur so long ago. As she helps me up from my spot on the ground, my knees protest more then usual, and I know that time is running out for all of us. She hugs me tightly as I begin the prayer I prayed I would never have to say for either of them. My tired voice trembles as I say, “I–in sure and c–certain hope of the resurrection to eternal life through our Lord Jesus Christ…” “W–we commend…” I try to continue through my tears but can’t. Olivia’s voice quietly rises up and says, “We commend to Almighty God my brother, Hayden, and we commit his body to the ground; earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust.” She pauses to swallow back another sob. Her brother may have always been the strong one, but now she is learning to be strong on her own. I sadly smile down at her, but it doesn’t quite reach my eyes. I pick up some dirt and give it to her. Together, we sprinkle it on his body, though we both know that we have to actually bury him and intone for him, and for us as well, that “the Lord bless him and keep him, the Lord make His face to shine upon him and be gracious unto him and give him peace.”

FORT DRUM

FORT HUACHUCA

Watertown, New York 1997

Sierra Vista, Arizona 2004

This is when the stars started watching me. The doctors knew my heartbeat wasn’t right, even when they only watched me sleep black and white through the screen. They knew that some hearts were born broken. They knew the heart would get tired of how fast it had to beat. They knew the blood was like an ambulance, just trying to get there in time. They knew the hands would always be frozen because no matter how fast the heart beat, the ambulance would never get there in time.

My baby sister is tiny. I wonder if she has a fractured heart, too. I watch her through the black and white screen, everything beats at the right time; nothing has to struggle to get where it’s going, but her hands are cold, too. If I held her hand too long, I wonder if we would freeze together. She has big eyes. She looks at the stars a lot.

GOODFELLOW AIR FORCE BASE

San Angelo, Texas 1999

The tornados come every spring. I wonder if the stars send them. I can see them twisting and turning in the front yard. I notice how they never take people away, they only take the shelter. They take the leaves off of the trees and the roofs off of houses; they’re not trying to hurt anybody. They just feel too much. They just get stuck in their emotions.

Bellevue, Nebraska 2007

It doesn’t rain enough here. I think that’s why we’ve been crying so much. Somebody has to make sure the flowers don’t die. My mother told me there’s no monsoon season here, so I wait for tornadoes, but they aren’t coming. This place doesn’t feel. It just holds it all in. It’s too cold here, my hands finally feel at home. Sometimes I feel like a tornado. The girl who lives next door acts like monsoon season. We decide to be best friends. I don’t mean to hurt anybody, and she is just trying too hard to save the flowers. We look at the stars a lot and wait for tornadoes, monsoons, warm hands, and ambulances that never come. Kiosk16

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P OET R Y

Blood Megan Gies

Stitches by Bre Van Bochove ink pen and watercolor

I can take care of this. You just look away and watch my back for me, okay?” I need to show her that we can come back from this, otherwise, what’s the point anymore? She’s holding her middle as if that can magically hold her emotions in check as well, and nods, unable to speak through her hiccupping sobs. I take out my knife again and look up at the blue sky, wishing to whatever merciful God might still be out there that I didn’t have to. I try my best to clean it with my filthy shirt. Hayden deserves that much. I kneel next to him, and Olivia lets out a wail. I try my best to ignore her and instead focus on my own emotions. I had counseled Hayden and his sister when they lost their father back in the old days. I had loved them both as if they were my own children and had done my best to support them and their mother. I had never guessed that I would have pretty much adopted them the day the world ended. Now here we are, and I still love them both. How are we to carry on with our mission when one of our own has perished? As I prepare myself to do what must be done, I realize that maybe this was how God must have felt when he condemned his only Son to die. I don’t pretend to be like Him, but I never fully understood the strength that must have taken until now. I wonder if that’s why He has condemned us sinners to this living Hell. One stubborn sob escapes my mouth as I raise my shaking knife. I bring it down and hear Olivia wail one last time. I don’t know if she’ll ever be able to cry like this again. I turn away and rest my head in my hand, too tired to do anything else. Olivia comes up to me and rests her hand on my shoulder, much

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like I did with Father McArthur so long ago. As she helps me up from my spot on the ground, my knees protest more then usual, and I know that time is running out for all of us. She hugs me tightly as I begin the prayer I prayed I would never have to say for either of them. My tired voice trembles as I say, “I–in sure and c–certain hope of the resurrection to eternal life through our Lord Jesus Christ…” “W–we commend…” I try to continue through my tears but can’t. Olivia’s voice quietly rises up and says, “We commend to Almighty God my brother, Hayden, and we commit his body to the ground; earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust.” She pauses to swallow back another sob. Her brother may have always been the strong one, but now she is learning to be strong on her own. I sadly smile down at her, but it doesn’t quite reach my eyes. I pick up some dirt and give it to her. Together, we sprinkle it on his body, though we both know that we have to actually bury him and intone for him, and for us as well, that “the Lord bless him and keep him, the Lord make His face to shine upon him and be gracious unto him and give him peace.”

FORT DRUM

FORT HUACHUCA

Watertown, New York 1997

Sierra Vista, Arizona 2004

This is when the stars started watching me. The doctors knew my heartbeat wasn’t right, even when they only watched me sleep black and white through the screen. They knew that some hearts were born broken. They knew the heart would get tired of how fast it had to beat. They knew the blood was like an ambulance, just trying to get there in time. They knew the hands would always be frozen because no matter how fast the heart beat, the ambulance would never get there in time.

My baby sister is tiny. I wonder if she has a fractured heart, too. I watch her through the black and white screen, everything beats at the right time; nothing has to struggle to get where it’s going, but her hands are cold, too. If I held her hand too long, I wonder if we would freeze together. She has big eyes. She looks at the stars a lot.

GOODFELLOW AIR FORCE BASE

San Angelo, Texas 1999

The tornados come every spring. I wonder if the stars send them. I can see them twisting and turning in the front yard. I notice how they never take people away, they only take the shelter. They take the leaves off of the trees and the roofs off of houses; they’re not trying to hurt anybody. They just feel too much. They just get stuck in their emotions.

Bellevue, Nebraska 2007

It doesn’t rain enough here. I think that’s why we’ve been crying so much. Somebody has to make sure the flowers don’t die. My mother told me there’s no monsoon season here, so I wait for tornadoes, but they aren’t coming. This place doesn’t feel. It just holds it all in. It’s too cold here, my hands finally feel at home. Sometimes I feel like a tornado. The girl who lives next door acts like monsoon season. We decide to be best friends. I don’t mean to hurt anybody, and she is just trying too hard to save the flowers. We look at the stars a lot and wait for tornadoes, monsoons, warm hands, and ambulances that never come. Kiosk16

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FLAT by Joelle Kruger

VYBE ON

brand/package design

by Trey Russell branding/outdoor ads

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Let’s Get CRAFTIN’

MEDLEY

by Kelsey Ahart

by Brianna Harding

poster design

brand/package design

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FLAT by Joelle Kruger

VYBE ON

brand/package design

by Trey Russell branding/outdoor ads

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Let’s Get CRAFTIN’

MEDLEY

by Kelsey Ahart

by Brianna Harding

poster design

brand/package design

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p o e t ry

P OET R Y

A Flawed Race Anna Zetterlund

You, my darling, are not exempt from paying the debt of humanity. Not one among us is perfect. So you will pay… in flustered words and minor failings, in ink smudges and torn edges and broken pencil stubs, in speeding tickets and dismal grades and board game losses. You will pay in tangled hair and dark under-eye circles. Your feet will stumble up the stairs once in a while, and you may inflict pain upon a loved one, whether by cruel intention or simple mistake. For we are a flawed race.

Hasten Slowly to My Side Allison Linafelter

I beg, please hasten slowly to my side, my heart doth only wish you take your time. This straining, yearning I cannot abide, I jump each time I hear the doorbell chime. These heady, swirling thoughts of meeting you are brewing, sharp’ning, piercing through my mind. They fill me up; I know not what to do. Not even I could have foreseen this bind. I fear these cloudy dreams my mind doth mar; but when you speak to me, my fears do flee. Away from my arm’s reach is where you are, but still they stretch to hold you close to me. Unbearable as your absence is, dear will I still feel the same when you are near?

Some of us pay heftier fines, dealt out in broken hearts and shattered dreams. Those brave souls suffer more than the rest of us. No one can say exactly how much you will pay, but the inevitable truth remains that you will pay something. You will cry, and ache, and stumble as you go. But do not worry, dear. For in all of this, you will still be beautiful.

gatto by Nicole Loe photography

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p o e t ry

P OET R Y

A Flawed Race Anna Zetterlund

You, my darling, are not exempt from paying the debt of humanity. Not one among us is perfect. So you will pay… in flustered words and minor failings, in ink smudges and torn edges and broken pencil stubs, in speeding tickets and dismal grades and board game losses. You will pay in tangled hair and dark under-eye circles. Your feet will stumble up the stairs once in a while, and you may inflict pain upon a loved one, whether by cruel intention or simple mistake. For we are a flawed race.

Hasten Slowly to My Side Allison Linafelter

I beg, please hasten slowly to my side, my heart doth only wish you take your time. This straining, yearning I cannot abide, I jump each time I hear the doorbell chime. These heady, swirling thoughts of meeting you are brewing, sharp’ning, piercing through my mind. They fill me up; I know not what to do. Not even I could have foreseen this bind. I fear these cloudy dreams my mind doth mar; but when you speak to me, my fears do flee. Away from my arm’s reach is where you are, but still they stretch to hold you close to me. Unbearable as your absence is, dear will I still feel the same when you are near?

Some of us pay heftier fines, dealt out in broken hearts and shattered dreams. Those brave souls suffer more than the rest of us. No one can say exactly how much you will pay, but the inevitable truth remains that you will pay something. You will cry, and ache, and stumble as you go. But do not worry, dear. For in all of this, you will still be beautiful.

gatto by Nicole Loe photography

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C R E A TI V E NON F I C TION

Cenotaphs Amber Kast

D

uring my senior year of high school, our band played a song titled “Cenotaph.” My band director stood at the front of the room, a giddy grin on his face as the sheet music was passed around. “Does anyone know what a cenotaph is?” he asked, glancing around the room before locking eyes with me. He knew of my love for books as we had discussed literature many times before. Apparently, this prompted him to think I would know a big word. “Amber? Any guesses?” I shook my head quickly, hair falling over my face to hide my flush from being picked out of the group by name. The teacher looked once again “Does anyone know what at each of us, triuma cenotaph is?” he asked, phant in knowing something that none glancing around the room before of us did. locking eyes with me.” “It’s a monument over where a body is not buried,” he said and continued telling us the backstory of the musical number. This moment from my past flashed before my eyes as I stared down at the bag in front of me. It was shaped like an owl, colored a garish purple, and held objects so important to me. This was Grandma’s knitting bag, housing every needle and crochet hook she had owned. The numbers reached the double digits since Grandma took great pride in her prowess in yarn creations. Next to the bag lay my poncho, an honestly almost horrendous piece of apparel. It was three different shades of the same yarn, reaching down to my knees in the front and back and just past my fingers on the sides. Multicolored fringes hung off of the trim. But as I looked at the two pieces of my grandmother, I could not help but love both. The poncho was the last thing she had ever made me, completing it a year before she passed, and the bag was her last wish to me. When she died, it was to go to me since I was the only one 46

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who had picked up knitting. We had been close because of our innate similarities, but we grew even closer during the days that she taught me how to knit and every day after that. On a rare reprieve from school, I donned my favorite outfit–complete with a scarf she had knitted–and spent the entire day with her, learning the ins and outs of knitting. Before we had started the lessons, we visited the craft show going on in the basement, where I purchased a cherry blossom printed bag filled with sakura scented shower supplies. To this day, I still used it as one of my many knitting bags. After lunch she taught me her favorite pastime, including how to start a scarf, knit it, and end it. All this in a few short hours but I had always been good with my hands. By the time the day was done, I had knitted a twenty-row scrap of scarf in a beautiful shade of dark blue. Grandma needed the yarn, so she helped me unwind it, but in the process I accidentally dropped the needle she had been teaching me with. She promptly ran over the pink needle with her wheelchair, forever putting a bend in it. Now, opening the purple bag, I reached in and grabbed the disfigured needle, my most prized possession. I ran my fingers over it, stopping at the tip and lightly pushing it into the meat of my hand. There was a dull ache radiating from my palm due to the pressure, but nothing could compare to how I had felt when I had heard of her passing. I had been halfway through the four-hour drive home to say my last goodbyes to my dying grandmother when my ringtone blared out the lyrics of All Time Low’s song “The Reckless and the Brave.” I hummed along to the words as I answered my phone. My father spoke quietly and quickly on the other end, telling me to pull over–he had something to tell me. I did as he asked, and then the worst phrase I had ever heard in my life sounded in my ear.

“Amber, your grandmother just passed away.” After the initial shock of the loss, the opening lyrics of the song became a ballad to Grandma’s memory. They were the last words I had heard before the news, and anyone who knew her knew that she was incredibly independent, careless, and courageous. The words just oddly embodied her and the moment that they were heard in. “Long live the reckless and the brave. I don’t think I wanna be saved. My song has not been sung. So long live us.” All of these thoughts echoed inside my head as I prepared for bed. Today had been one of my harder days without her–the eight-month anniversary of her death–and the loss had hit me hard earlier in the day. I looked down at myself, wincing at the colors of the poncho reaching past my fingertips and brushing against my pajama-short clad legs. I giggled as the yarn tickled the skin of my tattoo, and I thought back to the night that I got it.

It was a ball of yarn shaped like a heart with the crooked needle–and its regular-shaped partner–sticking through it. It featured three cherry blossoms scattered around the yarn and three ribbons that spelled out her name outlining the piece. And as I stood in front of my bed, the last piece she made me hanging thick on my body, her collection of yarn supplies in front of me, and All Time Low playing softly from my phone, I couldn’t help but think that this was my cenotaph to her–shown by the objects and lyrics that represented my grandmother.

head in the clouds by Samantha Hansen digital photography

It had been eleven o’clock at night as I limped out of the tattoo shop, careful not to put too much weight on my right leg. After four straight hours of getting stabbed with a needle over and over, every little movement sent a dull pain through my body. But it didn’t matter–I had finally saved up enough money to get a memorial tat for Grandma, and I adored the piece of art inked into my skin. Kiosk16

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C R E A TI V E NON F I C TION

Cenotaphs Amber Kast

D

uring my senior year of high school, our band played a song titled “Cenotaph.” My band director stood at the front of the room, a giddy grin on his face as the sheet music was passed around. “Does anyone know what a cenotaph is?” he asked, glancing around the room before locking eyes with me. He knew of my love for books as we had discussed literature many times before. Apparently, this prompted him to think I would know a big word. “Amber? Any guesses?” I shook my head quickly, hair falling over my face to hide my flush from being picked out of the group by name. The teacher looked once again “Does anyone know what at each of us, triuma cenotaph is?” he asked, phant in knowing something that none glancing around the room before of us did. locking eyes with me.” “It’s a monument over where a body is not buried,” he said and continued telling us the backstory of the musical number. This moment from my past flashed before my eyes as I stared down at the bag in front of me. It was shaped like an owl, colored a garish purple, and held objects so important to me. This was Grandma’s knitting bag, housing every needle and crochet hook she had owned. The numbers reached the double digits since Grandma took great pride in her prowess in yarn creations. Next to the bag lay my poncho, an honestly almost horrendous piece of apparel. It was three different shades of the same yarn, reaching down to my knees in the front and back and just past my fingers on the sides. Multicolored fringes hung off of the trim. But as I looked at the two pieces of my grandmother, I could not help but love both. The poncho was the last thing she had ever made me, completing it a year before she passed, and the bag was her last wish to me. When she died, it was to go to me since I was the only one 46

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who had picked up knitting. We had been close because of our innate similarities, but we grew even closer during the days that she taught me how to knit and every day after that. On a rare reprieve from school, I donned my favorite outfit–complete with a scarf she had knitted–and spent the entire day with her, learning the ins and outs of knitting. Before we had started the lessons, we visited the craft show going on in the basement, where I purchased a cherry blossom printed bag filled with sakura scented shower supplies. To this day, I still used it as one of my many knitting bags. After lunch she taught me her favorite pastime, including how to start a scarf, knit it, and end it. All this in a few short hours but I had always been good with my hands. By the time the day was done, I had knitted a twenty-row scrap of scarf in a beautiful shade of dark blue. Grandma needed the yarn, so she helped me unwind it, but in the process I accidentally dropped the needle she had been teaching me with. She promptly ran over the pink needle with her wheelchair, forever putting a bend in it. Now, opening the purple bag, I reached in and grabbed the disfigured needle, my most prized possession. I ran my fingers over it, stopping at the tip and lightly pushing it into the meat of my hand. There was a dull ache radiating from my palm due to the pressure, but nothing could compare to how I had felt when I had heard of her passing. I had been halfway through the four-hour drive home to say my last goodbyes to my dying grandmother when my ringtone blared out the lyrics of All Time Low’s song “The Reckless and the Brave.” I hummed along to the words as I answered my phone. My father spoke quietly and quickly on the other end, telling me to pull over–he had something to tell me. I did as he asked, and then the worst phrase I had ever heard in my life sounded in my ear.

“Amber, your grandmother just passed away.” After the initial shock of the loss, the opening lyrics of the song became a ballad to Grandma’s memory. They were the last words I had heard before the news, and anyone who knew her knew that she was incredibly independent, careless, and courageous. The words just oddly embodied her and the moment that they were heard in. “Long live the reckless and the brave. I don’t think I wanna be saved. My song has not been sung. So long live us.” All of these thoughts echoed inside my head as I prepared for bed. Today had been one of my harder days without her–the eight-month anniversary of her death–and the loss had hit me hard earlier in the day. I looked down at myself, wincing at the colors of the poncho reaching past my fingertips and brushing against my pajama-short clad legs. I giggled as the yarn tickled the skin of my tattoo, and I thought back to the night that I got it.

It was a ball of yarn shaped like a heart with the crooked needle–and its regular-shaped partner–sticking through it. It featured three cherry blossoms scattered around the yarn and three ribbons that spelled out her name outlining the piece. And as I stood in front of my bed, the last piece she made me hanging thick on my body, her collection of yarn supplies in front of me, and All Time Low playing softly from my phone, I couldn’t help but think that this was my cenotaph to her–shown by the objects and lyrics that represented my grandmother.

head in the clouds by Samantha Hansen digital photography

It had been eleven o’clock at night as I limped out of the tattoo shop, careful not to put too much weight on my right leg. After four straight hours of getting stabbed with a needle over and over, every little movement sent a dull pain through my body. But it didn’t matter–I had finally saved up enough money to get a memorial tat for Grandma, and I adored the piece of art inked into my skin. Kiosk16

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C R E A TI V E NON F I C TION

Yunding Mountain Park Hell Greg Guelcher

I

f Hell truly exists, you can bet it’s owned and operated by a Chinese company! Yunding Mountain Park! Breathtakingly gorgeous in the glossy brochure that Henry, my Chinese friend, excitedly had thrust into my hands. An excursion into the majestic mountains of China’s Fujian Province sure sounded like a great idea. Clean air, rustic scenery, miles of hiking paths, and a cable car ride all for the bargain price of $25. What could go wrong? Oh, where to begin! Let’s start with the fact that the Chinese, as relative latecomers to the automobile age, are quite prone to motion sickness. As a result, tour busses are kept well supplied

Into this maelstrom I was immediately swept up like a bobbing cork. To my horror, Henry, my companion and translator for the day, proved oddly un-Chinese in allowing himself to be whisked away in a completely different direction. Fortunately, I was tall enough to at least keep an eye on his progress from afar. The gate was maybe fifty feet away, but it took a good hour and a half for the tide to carry me there. On the way, a very, very irate Chinese woman about half my size suddenly materialized beside me to demand I take out my camera, record the melee, and complain to the park

Upon arrival at the park, our bus was diverted into an overflow lot (incidentally, my first inkling of doom), where surrounding each vehicle were once-happy vacationers on their hands and knees getting reacquainted with their breakfasts. with barf bags. Going up a steep mountain road with innumerable twists and turns left at least five people on my bus desperately heaving into plastic sacks. One poor gal sounded as if she were literally puking her guts out. Never before had I heard it done with such dramatic effect. Upon arrival at the park, our bus was diverted into an overflow lot (incidentally, my first inkling of doom), where surrounding each vehicle were once-happy vacationers on their hands and knees getting reacquainted with their breakfasts. Tread lightly, young man! Having lost count of the number of busses in the main parking lot, I shouldn’t have been surprised by the enormous crowd of people that greeted me outside the park entrance. To set the scene, imagine a soccer scrum where some 6,000 players are all on the field simultaneously, pushing and shoving toward the same far-off goal: a single turn-style gate into the park. The Chinese, not known for their ability to queue up and wait their turn even in the best of situations, had, in the absence of any crowd control, coalesced into a single, angry, seething, jostling, insufficiently bathed mass of humanity. 48

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management (because nobody ever listens when a Chinese complains). Parenthetically, I should mention that the woman was speaking in a local Fujian dialect that meant nothing to me, and yet somehow in the horror of the moment I intuitively understood with blinding clarity what she wanted. Passing through the entrance, I was excreted from the crowd like, well, um, never mind. . . when I saw the second hurdle comprising the day’s unexpected test of endurance: another socalled “queue” for the fleet of park busses waiting to take us further up the mountain to the actual attractions. Needless to say, this necessitated being pitched into yet another soccer scrum and another hour-long wait. By now, the burning sun was directly overhead, and the sweat of thousands was literally upon me. There was no escape. I watched in disbelief as people began to jump the queue and scale the walls separating them from the busses. It didn’t help that the scofflaws then had the nerve to turn around and taunt us suckers who remained in line, thereby prompting others to get into the act.

There were two types of police present to (theoretically) keep order. The regular Fujian Provincial Police were lounging by their vehicles while studiously ignoring the riotous crowd because, as a helpful park employee later explained via Henry, they weren’t getting paid extra by park management to help. Only slightly more attentive and energetic was a contingent of some sort of special military police recruits, young men ostentatiously wearing camouflage fatigues. Their contribution to maintaining order was to occasionally (and halfheartedly) yell at the crowd to behave itself and threaten to go after members of the crowd who (much less half-heartedly) screamed back what I surmised from the recruits’ angry responses were some pretty choice obscenities. Not speaking much useful Chinese myself, I favored each recruit I passed with a really big smile and a cheerful comment in English (of course) on their “indescribably small peckers.” Hurdle number three I like to call “The Battle of the Busses.” Six of them were shuttling guests back and forth, far too few vehicles given the thousands present. As each bus approached its allotted stall, the crowd would surge forward as a single, mindless, desperate mob. Images of the last American helicopters departing from the grounds of the U.S. Embassy in Saigon in 1975

flitted through my head, and the resemblance didn’t end there. It was literally every man for himself. People violently shoved each other out of the way. Fistfights broke out (simply more entertainment for the moronic police). Small children were trampled underfoot. Henry and I watched dejectedly from the sidelines. I decided to make myself useful by gathering up hats and other items of apparel lost during the scuffles, which got me a “thank you” from the one harried-looking park employee who had not yet abandoned his post. Seeing the look of pained resignation on my face, he helpfully explained to us that park management had sold out all 6,500 tickets allotted for the day within the first 40 minutes. But because none of the tickets had a time stamp for admission on them, all 6,500 visitors had been turned loose at the same time to fend for themselves! I was sorely tempted at this point to just turn around and accept my losses. Tempted, yes, but I’m both incredibly stubborn and a real cheapskate. My stingy side won out, as usual, and by now I really wanted something to show for my $25 investment beyond a coating of other people’s stale sweat and a few light bruises. So with the crowd having largely dissipated, Henry and I and the 13-year-old son of one

cordillera Paine by Claire May-Patterson oil on canvas

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49


C R E A TI V E NON F I C TION

Yunding Mountain Park Hell Greg Guelcher

I

f Hell truly exists, you can bet it’s owned and operated by a Chinese company! Yunding Mountain Park! Breathtakingly gorgeous in the glossy brochure that Henry, my Chinese friend, excitedly had thrust into my hands. An excursion into the majestic mountains of China’s Fujian Province sure sounded like a great idea. Clean air, rustic scenery, miles of hiking paths, and a cable car ride all for the bargain price of $25. What could go wrong? Oh, where to begin! Let’s start with the fact that the Chinese, as relative latecomers to the automobile age, are quite prone to motion sickness. As a result, tour busses are kept well supplied

Into this maelstrom I was immediately swept up like a bobbing cork. To my horror, Henry, my companion and translator for the day, proved oddly un-Chinese in allowing himself to be whisked away in a completely different direction. Fortunately, I was tall enough to at least keep an eye on his progress from afar. The gate was maybe fifty feet away, but it took a good hour and a half for the tide to carry me there. On the way, a very, very irate Chinese woman about half my size suddenly materialized beside me to demand I take out my camera, record the melee, and complain to the park

Upon arrival at the park, our bus was diverted into an overflow lot (incidentally, my first inkling of doom), where surrounding each vehicle were once-happy vacationers on their hands and knees getting reacquainted with their breakfasts. with barf bags. Going up a steep mountain road with innumerable twists and turns left at least five people on my bus desperately heaving into plastic sacks. One poor gal sounded as if she were literally puking her guts out. Never before had I heard it done with such dramatic effect. Upon arrival at the park, our bus was diverted into an overflow lot (incidentally, my first inkling of doom), where surrounding each vehicle were once-happy vacationers on their hands and knees getting reacquainted with their breakfasts. Tread lightly, young man! Having lost count of the number of busses in the main parking lot, I shouldn’t have been surprised by the enormous crowd of people that greeted me outside the park entrance. To set the scene, imagine a soccer scrum where some 6,000 players are all on the field simultaneously, pushing and shoving toward the same far-off goal: a single turn-style gate into the park. The Chinese, not known for their ability to queue up and wait their turn even in the best of situations, had, in the absence of any crowd control, coalesced into a single, angry, seething, jostling, insufficiently bathed mass of humanity. 48

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management (because nobody ever listens when a Chinese complains). Parenthetically, I should mention that the woman was speaking in a local Fujian dialect that meant nothing to me, and yet somehow in the horror of the moment I intuitively understood with blinding clarity what she wanted. Passing through the entrance, I was excreted from the crowd like, well, um, never mind. . . when I saw the second hurdle comprising the day’s unexpected test of endurance: another socalled “queue” for the fleet of park busses waiting to take us further up the mountain to the actual attractions. Needless to say, this necessitated being pitched into yet another soccer scrum and another hour-long wait. By now, the burning sun was directly overhead, and the sweat of thousands was literally upon me. There was no escape. I watched in disbelief as people began to jump the queue and scale the walls separating them from the busses. It didn’t help that the scofflaws then had the nerve to turn around and taunt us suckers who remained in line, thereby prompting others to get into the act.

There were two types of police present to (theoretically) keep order. The regular Fujian Provincial Police were lounging by their vehicles while studiously ignoring the riotous crowd because, as a helpful park employee later explained via Henry, they weren’t getting paid extra by park management to help. Only slightly more attentive and energetic was a contingent of some sort of special military police recruits, young men ostentatiously wearing camouflage fatigues. Their contribution to maintaining order was to occasionally (and halfheartedly) yell at the crowd to behave itself and threaten to go after members of the crowd who (much less half-heartedly) screamed back what I surmised from the recruits’ angry responses were some pretty choice obscenities. Not speaking much useful Chinese myself, I favored each recruit I passed with a really big smile and a cheerful comment in English (of course) on their “indescribably small peckers.” Hurdle number three I like to call “The Battle of the Busses.” Six of them were shuttling guests back and forth, far too few vehicles given the thousands present. As each bus approached its allotted stall, the crowd would surge forward as a single, mindless, desperate mob. Images of the last American helicopters departing from the grounds of the U.S. Embassy in Saigon in 1975

flitted through my head, and the resemblance didn’t end there. It was literally every man for himself. People violently shoved each other out of the way. Fistfights broke out (simply more entertainment for the moronic police). Small children were trampled underfoot. Henry and I watched dejectedly from the sidelines. I decided to make myself useful by gathering up hats and other items of apparel lost during the scuffles, which got me a “thank you” from the one harried-looking park employee who had not yet abandoned his post. Seeing the look of pained resignation on my face, he helpfully explained to us that park management had sold out all 6,500 tickets allotted for the day within the first 40 minutes. But because none of the tickets had a time stamp for admission on them, all 6,500 visitors had been turned loose at the same time to fend for themselves! I was sorely tempted at this point to just turn around and accept my losses. Tempted, yes, but I’m both incredibly stubborn and a real cheapskate. My stingy side won out, as usual, and by now I really wanted something to show for my $25 investment beyond a coating of other people’s stale sweat and a few light bruises. So with the crowd having largely dissipated, Henry and I and the 13-year-old son of one

cordillera Paine by Claire May-Patterson oil on canvas

Kiosk16

49


of Henry’s colleagues (abandoned by his more impatient and aggressive parents) jumped on the last bus up the mountain. Henry relayed how impressed the kid was that I had insisted on following the rules and had not behaved like a selfish imbecile, which made me feel somewhat better. We were now already several hours behind schedule, so we elected to ride to the last of the three featured attractions: a five kilometer hiking path through a beautiful mountain canyon. To give credit where credit By now, the burning sun was is due, it was specdirectly overhead, and the sweat of tacular scenery with plenty of lush greenery thousands was literally upon me. and multiple waterfalls There was no escape. crashing down to earth. Just so long as one kept looking straight ahead and not down at the mounds of putrid trash strewn everywhere by the 6,497 lazy, inconsiderate visitors before us, it truly was a slice of Shangri-La as promised. Unbeknownst to me, however, the hike began with a two kilometer downward stretch of trail featuring the short, shallow steps much beloved by the height-challenged Chinese. My knees, weakened by years of wrestling and rowing, took a terrible beating. Despite not having worn one in nearly three years, some premonition the night before had caused me to throw a knee brace into my backpack. It was just a question of which agonizing knee to save and which to sacrifice (I went with my left). Within an hour I was limping badly, forcing my companions to slow down so I could keep up. But just when all hope seemed lost, I sighted the cable cars that heralded release from my torment. I grimaced, hobbling as fast as I could around a last turn when my blood froze. Before me were hundreds of Chinese, backed up for a good quarter mile, fighting their way toward the cable car house. I wanted to cry. I felt trapped. My battered knees would never allow me to retrace the nearly five kilometers back to the trail’s entrance. Hope receding, I let myself be swept up into 50

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this new mass of hysteria. My only solace was that I’d managed to hold on (literally) to my newfound teenage buddy, whom I’d nicknamed Tony (he’d balked at Thomas, my initial choice). Henry, my erstwhile friend, had again unsuccessfully fought the human tide, which deposited him a good one hundred persons behind us. It should not have surprised me that a large number of extremely selfish bastards tried to jump the queue by either climbing the slope bordering one side of the path or wading out into the shallow river running alongside the other side. I gamely tried to discourage the former group by planting a long leg up against the slope, only to have indignant Chinese queue-jumpers grab my leg and yell at me. As an aside, being yelled at in a language one doesn’t understand always seems more amusing than troubling. I kept hoping the jerks in the water would slip and fall in as nobody hereabouts seems to know how to swim worth shit. Yet again, park staff was nowhere in sight. A very few members of the aforementioned Small Pecker Patrol were in evidence, providing meager entertainment in their attempts to chase after the more vocal malcontents in the crowd (I suspect I again missed the chance to learn some very useful Chinese!). At one point a group behind me broke into a spirited rendition of what sounded like a military anthem but which set off the SPPers something fierce. Several singers were compelled to flee into the river to escape the latter’s pursuit. Interestingly, because we’d been separated, Henry was able to pick up some “intelligence” on me from the crowd. The Chinese happen to be a very nationalistic bunch these days. Henry told me those around him expressed concern that their fellow countrymen’s rude behavior would reflect poorly in the eyes of a foreign guest (and well they should!). Two and a half hours later (no kidding), Tony and I finally reached a cable car. In we stumbled to enjoy a leisurely ride and some breathtaking vistas—only to discover that while we had been wending our way endlessly through the gondola

house, sunny skies had given way to pouring rain, and Gondola #109 had a defective right-side window that wouldn’t close (three guesses who had chosen that side). Mercifully, there was a real live park employee at the other end directing us onto busses from the cable car terminus. My knees were in excruciating pain by now, and we were already more than two hours overdue back at the parking lot, so I felt almost giddy with joy at my incipient deliverance which, of course, proved maddeningly short-lived. The bus went only as far as the next attraction, where soccer scrum rules and a lack of referees were again in effect. By now, however, the rain and the onset of nightfall had thinned out the crowd, and so it wasn’t too painful cramming onto yet another bus for our return to the park entrance. Inured by now to misfortune, I barely registered the fact that my bus was careening through the dark and down a slick and narrow mountain road without any guardrails. But wait, there’s more! We didn’t go over the edge and die in a fiery crash, although that option was looking increasingly attractive. Rather, we encountered the more prosaic obstacle of a brokendown park bus blocking our way. Our driver herded everyone off the bus and into the pouring rain with instructions to walk past the stricken vehicle and try hailing another bus. Needless to say, it was “every man for himself” time again. Henry, Tony, and I watched as people fought for passage on the first one we came across. The sodden few of us who failed miserably in this Darwinian selection process were subsequently trooped back up the hill twenty minutes later (as the damaged vehicle had since been pushed off

to one side) and back onto our original, and now nearly-empty, bus. Earlier that morning stern threats of abandonment had been issued should we not return to the original tour bus by 3:30. It was now ten past

six. Surprisingly, we weren’t even the last group of stragglers. And as our tour bus hazarded the many twists and turns back down the moonlit mountain, even the pathetic sounds of the same poor girl puking her guts out in the back of the bus was strangely reassuring. Not even her obvious suffering could lessen my own joy at leaving the now infamous Yunding Mountain Park, my brief glimpse of Hell on Earth!

A galaxy by Shaina Le digital art

Kiosk16

51


of Henry’s colleagues (abandoned by his more impatient and aggressive parents) jumped on the last bus up the mountain. Henry relayed how impressed the kid was that I had insisted on following the rules and had not behaved like a selfish imbecile, which made me feel somewhat better. We were now already several hours behind schedule, so we elected to ride to the last of the three featured attractions: a five kilometer hiking path through a beautiful mountain canyon. To give credit where credit By now, the burning sun was is due, it was specdirectly overhead, and the sweat of tacular scenery with plenty of lush greenery thousands was literally upon me. and multiple waterfalls There was no escape. crashing down to earth. Just so long as one kept looking straight ahead and not down at the mounds of putrid trash strewn everywhere by the 6,497 lazy, inconsiderate visitors before us, it truly was a slice of Shangri-La as promised. Unbeknownst to me, however, the hike began with a two kilometer downward stretch of trail featuring the short, shallow steps much beloved by the height-challenged Chinese. My knees, weakened by years of wrestling and rowing, took a terrible beating. Despite not having worn one in nearly three years, some premonition the night before had caused me to throw a knee brace into my backpack. It was just a question of which agonizing knee to save and which to sacrifice (I went with my left). Within an hour I was limping badly, forcing my companions to slow down so I could keep up. But just when all hope seemed lost, I sighted the cable cars that heralded release from my torment. I grimaced, hobbling as fast as I could around a last turn when my blood froze. Before me were hundreds of Chinese, backed up for a good quarter mile, fighting their way toward the cable car house. I wanted to cry. I felt trapped. My battered knees would never allow me to retrace the nearly five kilometers back to the trail’s entrance. Hope receding, I let myself be swept up into 50

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this new mass of hysteria. My only solace was that I’d managed to hold on (literally) to my newfound teenage buddy, whom I’d nicknamed Tony (he’d balked at Thomas, my initial choice). Henry, my erstwhile friend, had again unsuccessfully fought the human tide, which deposited him a good one hundred persons behind us. It should not have surprised me that a large number of extremely selfish bastards tried to jump the queue by either climbing the slope bordering one side of the path or wading out into the shallow river running alongside the other side. I gamely tried to discourage the former group by planting a long leg up against the slope, only to have indignant Chinese queue-jumpers grab my leg and yell at me. As an aside, being yelled at in a language one doesn’t understand always seems more amusing than troubling. I kept hoping the jerks in the water would slip and fall in as nobody hereabouts seems to know how to swim worth shit. Yet again, park staff was nowhere in sight. A very few members of the aforementioned Small Pecker Patrol were in evidence, providing meager entertainment in their attempts to chase after the more vocal malcontents in the crowd (I suspect I again missed the chance to learn some very useful Chinese!). At one point a group behind me broke into a spirited rendition of what sounded like a military anthem but which set off the SPPers something fierce. Several singers were compelled to flee into the river to escape the latter’s pursuit. Interestingly, because we’d been separated, Henry was able to pick up some “intelligence” on me from the crowd. The Chinese happen to be a very nationalistic bunch these days. Henry told me those around him expressed concern that their fellow countrymen’s rude behavior would reflect poorly in the eyes of a foreign guest (and well they should!). Two and a half hours later (no kidding), Tony and I finally reached a cable car. In we stumbled to enjoy a leisurely ride and some breathtaking vistas—only to discover that while we had been wending our way endlessly through the gondola

house, sunny skies had given way to pouring rain, and Gondola #109 had a defective right-side window that wouldn’t close (three guesses who had chosen that side). Mercifully, there was a real live park employee at the other end directing us onto busses from the cable car terminus. My knees were in excruciating pain by now, and we were already more than two hours overdue back at the parking lot, so I felt almost giddy with joy at my incipient deliverance which, of course, proved maddeningly short-lived. The bus went only as far as the next attraction, where soccer scrum rules and a lack of referees were again in effect. By now, however, the rain and the onset of nightfall had thinned out the crowd, and so it wasn’t too painful cramming onto yet another bus for our return to the park entrance. Inured by now to misfortune, I barely registered the fact that my bus was careening through the dark and down a slick and narrow mountain road without any guardrails. But wait, there’s more! We didn’t go over the edge and die in a fiery crash, although that option was looking increasingly attractive. Rather, we encountered the more prosaic obstacle of a brokendown park bus blocking our way. Our driver herded everyone off the bus and into the pouring rain with instructions to walk past the stricken vehicle and try hailing another bus. Needless to say, it was “every man for himself” time again. Henry, Tony, and I watched as people fought for passage on the first one we came across. The sodden few of us who failed miserably in this Darwinian selection process were subsequently trooped back up the hill twenty minutes later (as the damaged vehicle had since been pushed off

to one side) and back onto our original, and now nearly-empty, bus. Earlier that morning stern threats of abandonment had been issued should we not return to the original tour bus by 3:30. It was now ten past

six. Surprisingly, we weren’t even the last group of stragglers. And as our tour bus hazarded the many twists and turns back down the moonlit mountain, even the pathetic sounds of the same poor girl puking her guts out in the back of the bus was strangely reassuring. Not even her obvious suffering could lessen my own joy at leaving the now infamous Yunding Mountain Park, my brief glimpse of Hell on Earth!

A galaxy by Shaina Le digital art

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C r e at i v e N o n f i c t i o n

NOT JUST FISHING Nicole Loe

F

or a little girl sitting in an old tin boat in the middle of a lake under the beating sun, there was nothing quite like the thrill of the tug–the whizz of the line being pulled from its reel after minutes or hours of stillness. Sometimes it seemed as if the whizzing never stopped, but on other trips, the drag was never pulled. I had spent every single summer in my memory sitting in a boat on Enemy Swim Lake in South Dakota, holding a pole and trying to impress my dad with my ability and knowledge of fishing.

Getting into that old tin boat had been something both my father and I had done at a young age, but it was not for the faint of heart. The old tin boat, as I called it, had three wooden benches across the width. If you weren’t careful, I’m sure the old seats could have given you a splinter in a very undesirable location. We would bring our own seats to sit on, or we would sit on life jackets to avoid this misfortune. In between the seats sat a sizeable tank full of gas, a car battery, a large tackle box, and usually some loose fishing lures, bugs, and leaves that had blown in. My dad had been fishing in this boat since he was a kid–it had been a part of both of our childhoods–something that connected us. Getting into that old tin boat had been something both my father and I had done at a young age, but it was not for the faint of heart. Sitting in it out on the lake for hours at a time took real patience for a young girl, especially if the fish weren’t particularly thrilled about our bait. When I was younger, many fish52

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ing trips involved a stop at Bud’s Point, where my dad had made friends with a shop owner. We would tie the old boat to the shop’s dock and stretch our legs. The shop was kind of a lake all-in-one: bait, tackle, repair shop, and, my favorite part as a kid, lots of candy, ice cream, and soda. Every time we stopped, I knew I’d be leaving with something sweet in hand, whether it was a Snickers, a can of Mountain Dew, or an ice

cream cone. As soon as my dad could pull himself away from the conversation, we’d be back on the lake in the old tin boat, a little less sore than we were before. Although this boat has gone into disuse now, my dad still puts it in the water every year for those rare solo fishing trips on which he might prefer his old faithful fishing boat. I used to mimic my father’s actions with as much exactitude as I could. He was the best, and as far as I knew, he knew what he was doing. I can still taste the Diet Pepsi I drank on those fishing trips. My dad was addicted to the stuff back then. If I were lucky, he’d also bring along some of his favorite Little Debbie Snacks, which I happily munched on during the lulls. However, throughout the years I have learned how to make my own decisions, like switching from soda to water. I now enjoy differing just slightly from my dad’s methods. A little competition never hurt anyone, and I am all about outfishing “the master.” Although Dad still does all the prep work, I am sometimes allowed to choose the method by which we fish (bottom bouncers are usually used in early summer and jigs later on), what color I want the accent on my jig to be, or the type of bait I will use. When I was young, I was more than happy using night crawlers while fishing. They allowed me to be independent. I was proud of the fact that not only was I able to handle worms without squirming but also that I didn’t even get grossed out when I had to cut them in half with my thumb nail! I liked to make sure people knew that I wasn’t some girly girl–I was my father’s daughter. As I’ve grown up, however, the idea of worm guts under my nails is much less appealing, which is why when my dad uses worms, I use

leeches. Although I have developed a distaste for worm guts under my nails and have started taking girly selfies with many of my catches, I still know that there are so many aspects of myself that come from my dad. I am not overly afraid to grab a Walleye by its razor sharp gills to remove a hook, and I am definitely not afraid of anything we use for bait. Until I started bringing friends out to the cabin, I never realized exactly how much work it is to help an unskilled fisherman/woman. You cannot simply tell them to bait their hook, wait, reel in, and then take off their fish. It doesn’t I liked to make sure people work like that. I’ve knew that I wasn’t some girly learned to appreciate all I was my father’s daughter. my father has done for me throughout the years while out on the lake. When he asked me to tag along, he wasn’t just getting a fishing buddy–he was sacrificing a nice, relaxing time fishing for constant interruptions and usually a need for his assistance. He didn’t mind at all, though, which is one way my dad showed his love. Now that his two girls are all grown up and don’t really require his assistance anymore, he invites anybody with small children to come out for a fishing trip. Although my dad may not be book smart and rarely uses proper grammar, he loves to pass on the knowledge he does have.

girl–

The oregon coast by Spencer Eiseman photography

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53


C r e at i v e N o n f i c t i o n

NOT JUST FISHING Nicole Loe

F

or a little girl sitting in an old tin boat in the middle of a lake under the beating sun, there was nothing quite like the thrill of the tug–the whizz of the line being pulled from its reel after minutes or hours of stillness. Sometimes it seemed as if the whizzing never stopped, but on other trips, the drag was never pulled. I had spent every single summer in my memory sitting in a boat on Enemy Swim Lake in South Dakota, holding a pole and trying to impress my dad with my ability and knowledge of fishing.

Getting into that old tin boat had been something both my father and I had done at a young age, but it was not for the faint of heart. The old tin boat, as I called it, had three wooden benches across the width. If you weren’t careful, I’m sure the old seats could have given you a splinter in a very undesirable location. We would bring our own seats to sit on, or we would sit on life jackets to avoid this misfortune. In between the seats sat a sizeable tank full of gas, a car battery, a large tackle box, and usually some loose fishing lures, bugs, and leaves that had blown in. My dad had been fishing in this boat since he was a kid–it had been a part of both of our childhoods–something that connected us. Getting into that old tin boat had been something both my father and I had done at a young age, but it was not for the faint of heart. Sitting in it out on the lake for hours at a time took real patience for a young girl, especially if the fish weren’t particularly thrilled about our bait. When I was younger, many fish52

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ing trips involved a stop at Bud’s Point, where my dad had made friends with a shop owner. We would tie the old boat to the shop’s dock and stretch our legs. The shop was kind of a lake all-in-one: bait, tackle, repair shop, and, my favorite part as a kid, lots of candy, ice cream, and soda. Every time we stopped, I knew I’d be leaving with something sweet in hand, whether it was a Snickers, a can of Mountain Dew, or an ice

cream cone. As soon as my dad could pull himself away from the conversation, we’d be back on the lake in the old tin boat, a little less sore than we were before. Although this boat has gone into disuse now, my dad still puts it in the water every year for those rare solo fishing trips on which he might prefer his old faithful fishing boat. I used to mimic my father’s actions with as much exactitude as I could. He was the best, and as far as I knew, he knew what he was doing. I can still taste the Diet Pepsi I drank on those fishing trips. My dad was addicted to the stuff back then. If I were lucky, he’d also bring along some of his favorite Little Debbie Snacks, which I happily munched on during the lulls. However, throughout the years I have learned how to make my own decisions, like switching from soda to water. I now enjoy differing just slightly from my dad’s methods. A little competition never hurt anyone, and I am all about outfishing “the master.” Although Dad still does all the prep work, I am sometimes allowed to choose the method by which we fish (bottom bouncers are usually used in early summer and jigs later on), what color I want the accent on my jig to be, or the type of bait I will use. When I was young, I was more than happy using night crawlers while fishing. They allowed me to be independent. I was proud of the fact that not only was I able to handle worms without squirming but also that I didn’t even get grossed out when I had to cut them in half with my thumb nail! I liked to make sure people knew that I wasn’t some girly girl–I was my father’s daughter. As I’ve grown up, however, the idea of worm guts under my nails is much less appealing, which is why when my dad uses worms, I use

leeches. Although I have developed a distaste for worm guts under my nails and have started taking girly selfies with many of my catches, I still know that there are so many aspects of myself that come from my dad. I am not overly afraid to grab a Walleye by its razor sharp gills to remove a hook, and I am definitely not afraid of anything we use for bait. Until I started bringing friends out to the cabin, I never realized exactly how much work it is to help an unskilled fisherman/woman. You cannot simply tell them to bait their hook, wait, reel in, and then take off their fish. It doesn’t I liked to make sure people work like that. I’ve knew that I wasn’t some girly learned to appreciate all I was my father’s daughter. my father has done for me throughout the years while out on the lake. When he asked me to tag along, he wasn’t just getting a fishing buddy–he was sacrificing a nice, relaxing time fishing for constant interruptions and usually a need for his assistance. He didn’t mind at all, though, which is one way my dad showed his love. Now that his two girls are all grown up and don’t really require his assistance anymore, he invites anybody with small children to come out for a fishing trip. Although my dad may not be book smart and rarely uses proper grammar, he loves to pass on the knowledge he does have.

girl–

The oregon coast by Spencer Eiseman photography

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53


F I C TION

P OET R Y

Saving Grace

WINTER BREAK

Sadie Shuck

G

race, honey?” I look up into the mirror I’m standing in front of and see my mother reflected behind me. She has silently made her way into my room and is standing in the doorway. I see that she has drawn her wild and curly brown hair away from her face and has it pinned into a bun at the base of her neck. Her skinny frame only looks thinner in the plain black dress that she wears.

Heather Eisele

the bottom of the dress with my fingertips. My mother sees a neckline that scoops a bit too low and a hem that falls a bit too high. She knows the colorful hue will contrast with the somberness that will fill the church. She thinks people will think I’m inconsiderate and disrespectful for wearing anything other than the traditional black to a funeral. I wore this dress one other time, and that was a couple months ago. Sam had walked to my doorstop to pick me up so we could go into the city for dinner. When I heard the doorbell, I hurried over to open it, and I remember I had to be careful not to mess up my hair. It took me an hour to painstakingly curl it. He was dressed in khaki pants and a navy blue button-up shirt. His hands were buried deep in his pockets, and he rocked back on his heels when I opened the door. I looked at his tan face and blue eyes and waited for him to say something. All he did was lean back and flash me one of his best smiles. “Well,” I asked, twirling around and letting the air spin the skirt of the dress around me, “what do you think?

splash of color by Amber Burg photography

54

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My mom’s eyes, which are the same color blue as mine, are staring directly at the bright yellow dress I am wearing. “I know this may be hard to hear, but do you really think you should wear that given the circumstances?” I ignore her tender tone and smooth out

It’s new.” “I think,” he said, taking his hands out of his pockets and placing them on my hips, “yellow is my new favorite color.” I try to swallow past the lump that has grown in my throat. My mom is still standing behind me, waiting for an answer. I go to my closet to grab my jacket. “Ready to go?” I ask as I slip it over my shoulders.

We walk out of the hell-school together with our backpacks on over our hoodies ’cause we’re too stupid and proud to wear coats. The wind and the snow flurries tear past us as we shuffle across the parking lot packed with Chargers, Mustangs, SUVs, and the odd Camaro with racing stripes. Jasper is my S10, sky blue, newer than his rusty blue Luv we call Jimmy. At the edge of the parking lot, our small Chevy pickups from before we were born barricade us from coat-wearing rich kids who floor it out of the lot, greying the snow. We lean against Jimmy–shivering, red, unwilling to vanish into the white abyss of the flat Nebraska landscape. The final bell rings–semester ended. I have lost him. He’s moving tomorrow– hours away from me. I’ll be alone like this shitty little school, the only building for miles, chilling in stark fields. I bite my lip, avoiding tears, too proud to cry in front of the entitled fucks who are too stupid to know that the world is ending in ice, not fire. The snow collects on our hair, our clothes, our lashes, and my lip bleeds a metallic red taste. Thank god that it’s so goddamn windy– a logical reason for watering eyes. The parking lot has cleared for winter break, leaving us in the bitter ice desert.

We contemplate miseries together, alone. Frozen sky-tears slide down my neck, but it’s the warmest that I’ve ever felt as I’m gathered to his chest, the final goodbye, and my choice presents itself: cheek or mouth? Maybe because a goodbye should never be a beginning, or maybe because blood tastes gross, or maybe because after all this time I am still afraid to see rejection in those gentle jades, I kiss his cheek. I let him go. I turn. I get into my truck and drive away, watching in the rearview as he does too. My brain takes in the flurry of white haze. I wonder why this fucking frozen hell is not called tundra and whether the tear that brushed my lip when I kissed him was mine or his.

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55


F I C TION

P OET R Y

Saving Grace

WINTER BREAK

Sadie Shuck

G

race, honey?” I look up into the mirror I’m standing in front of and see my mother reflected behind me. She has silently made her way into my room and is standing in the doorway. I see that she has drawn her wild and curly brown hair away from her face and has it pinned into a bun at the base of her neck. Her skinny frame only looks thinner in the plain black dress that she wears.

Heather Eisele

the bottom of the dress with my fingertips. My mother sees a neckline that scoops a bit too low and a hem that falls a bit too high. She knows the colorful hue will contrast with the somberness that will fill the church. She thinks people will think I’m inconsiderate and disrespectful for wearing anything other than the traditional black to a funeral. I wore this dress one other time, and that was a couple months ago. Sam had walked to my doorstop to pick me up so we could go into the city for dinner. When I heard the doorbell, I hurried over to open it, and I remember I had to be careful not to mess up my hair. It took me an hour to painstakingly curl it. He was dressed in khaki pants and a navy blue button-up shirt. His hands were buried deep in his pockets, and he rocked back on his heels when I opened the door. I looked at his tan face and blue eyes and waited for him to say something. All he did was lean back and flash me one of his best smiles. “Well,” I asked, twirling around and letting the air spin the skirt of the dress around me, “what do you think?

splash of color by Amber Burg photography

54

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My mom’s eyes, which are the same color blue as mine, are staring directly at the bright yellow dress I am wearing. “I know this may be hard to hear, but do you really think you should wear that given the circumstances?” I ignore her tender tone and smooth out

It’s new.” “I think,” he said, taking his hands out of his pockets and placing them on my hips, “yellow is my new favorite color.” I try to swallow past the lump that has grown in my throat. My mom is still standing behind me, waiting for an answer. I go to my closet to grab my jacket. “Ready to go?” I ask as I slip it over my shoulders.

We walk out of the hell-school together with our backpacks on over our hoodies ’cause we’re too stupid and proud to wear coats. The wind and the snow flurries tear past us as we shuffle across the parking lot packed with Chargers, Mustangs, SUVs, and the odd Camaro with racing stripes. Jasper is my S10, sky blue, newer than his rusty blue Luv we call Jimmy. At the edge of the parking lot, our small Chevy pickups from before we were born barricade us from coat-wearing rich kids who floor it out of the lot, greying the snow. We lean against Jimmy–shivering, red, unwilling to vanish into the white abyss of the flat Nebraska landscape. The final bell rings–semester ended. I have lost him. He’s moving tomorrow– hours away from me. I’ll be alone like this shitty little school, the only building for miles, chilling in stark fields. I bite my lip, avoiding tears, too proud to cry in front of the entitled fucks who are too stupid to know that the world is ending in ice, not fire. The snow collects on our hair, our clothes, our lashes, and my lip bleeds a metallic red taste. Thank god that it’s so goddamn windy– a logical reason for watering eyes. The parking lot has cleared for winter break, leaving us in the bitter ice desert.

We contemplate miseries together, alone. Frozen sky-tears slide down my neck, but it’s the warmest that I’ve ever felt as I’m gathered to his chest, the final goodbye, and my choice presents itself: cheek or mouth? Maybe because a goodbye should never be a beginning, or maybe because blood tastes gross, or maybe because after all this time I am still afraid to see rejection in those gentle jades, I kiss his cheek. I let him go. I turn. I get into my truck and drive away, watching in the rearview as he does too. My brain takes in the flurry of white haze. I wonder why this fucking frozen hell is not called tundra and whether the tear that brushed my lip when I kissed him was mine or his.

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55


F I C TION

12 Brenda Lussier

F

electric by Summer Wulf film photography

56

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ebruary awoke with dirt-encrusted feet. As she sat up and silenced her alarm, she could feel it–tiny bits of dirt flaking off of her toes and scattering around her Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle bed sheets. She’d have to wash them. Again. If this had happened weeks ago, she would have been surprised. But it’d been almost three

months. The surprise was gone. The shock was gone. All that remained were feet caked with grime and no memory of how they got that way. She’d been sleepwalking now for some time. Nearly three months that she knew of. Each morning awakening to gritty sheets and a good scrubbing in the shower. She’d tried to prepare. She’d gone to great lengths to make sure that she couldn’t get outside. Each night before bed, she double-checked the locked trailer door. Each morning, she awoke with dirty feet. All she could tell herself was at least it was summer, so she wouldn’t freeze to death out there somewhere. February swung her pale legs over the side of the bed. It was still dark out, still dark in her

room, but she could hear something. A slight tip-tapping, a knocking, a soft… breeze maybe? She hopped off her bed and flicked on the light. Her room was fairly clean as it always was–except for her desk. Even though she had cleaned it just a few days ago, her desk was once again a scatter of papers: notes, whole sheets, tiny pieces ripped from larger things she’d scrawled on. But the noise. Where was the noise? She soon found it. The room wasn’t big enough to hide such a thing. Her window was wide open, the screen thrust out onto the dewy lawn. February groaned as she brought her head back inside. She’d have to figure out a better way to lock the window. Better than the locks already on it. She couldn’t think about it now. Now was not the time. She trudged down the dark hallway towards the bathroom. She arrived at the restaurant at five a.m., red hair messily piled onto her head, still wet from the shower. Everything was beginning to lighten, but not enough for her to tell whether the day would be sunny and warm or cloudy and breezy. She fitted her key into the lock and slid into the stale smells of Dale’s Bar and Grill. “Hey!” a sharp male voice called out to her. “Almost late.” As she flipped the sign hanging in the door to “open,” James, one of her best friends, slipped into the early morning light. “But I’m not,” February said. She headed into the kitchen to grab her apron and say hello to Dale, who was frying hash browns. “That’s what they all say.” James was leaning against the end of the bar. His skin always reminded her of nutmeg, a reddish-brown color like the leaves in the fall. She sighed and glared at him. She was too tired for this. She checked her pockets, making sure she had a pen and pad of paper. She yawned. “Are you still sleepwalking?” James’s face morphed from glee to concern. “I thought you were over that.”

“Nope,” February said. Her eyes flicked to the door. “I found out today where I’ve been getting out. It’s the window. It was wide open this morning, and the screen was out in our yard.” “Shit.” James sucked his lip. “You need to get your parents to get you some super heavy-duty locks there.” “Yeah, like that’s gonna happen,” February rolled her eyes. She thought briefly about asking her parents to drive her into town—how her unemployed father would lecture her about wasting gas or how she’d have to drown in cigarette smoke if she asked her mother. “You mean if you literally told your parents you were a werewolf, they wouldn’t help lock you up? For your own safety?” James asked. “James, I would never be a werewolf. Because they aren’t real,” she said. She briefly thought of bothering Cath. Her best friend, Cath, had a car. February didn’t have a car, but she had a license. Maybe she could borrow the vehicle. February was shaken from her thoughts by the small bell over the door ringing out. Grabbing a stack of menus, she stomped towards the door. Her feet felt like lead. As if she had already been waitressing all night. As customers swirled into the restaurant, February tried to keep her mind on them and off of her already aching feet. The dim lighting of the restaurant reflected the rising sun, almost as if someone had forgotten to turn on some of the lights in Dale’s. The seats were vinyl and sparse, the bar counter ringed with tall stools. The floor was made of an ancient laminate that may have actually been brown or may have become that way over the years. There were the regulars, who were already setting up their area at the bar. They’d be here until close, moving from scrambled eggs to beer with ease as the day wore on. There wasn’t anything else for them to do. Then there were the tourists. Hogarth, Nebraska wasn’t a big town by any means. If you believed the sign by the highway, it had 236 residents. If you believed the local kids, everyone in town was already dead.

But there were tourists. The town had recently been bestowed a large county grant to build a nature park. A park with a giant lake, horse trails, hiking, camping, and fishing. People had laughed at first, saying it was never going to happen. “Too silly,” they said. “Why Hogarth?” But as more and more properties were bought up, the dream became a reality. Now the huge man-made lake was ringed with forests, camping spots, horse trails, you name it. And residents were still convinced that Ol’ Lake Hoagie–actually named the Denison Preserve– was going to be the savior of their town. The gas staIf you believed the tion had begun selling an sign by the highway, it increased variety of items, had 236 residents. and Dale’s had hired new workers. There were now If you believed the local plans in the works for a kids, everyone in town new playground and an ice cream place. was already dead. February was happy she had gotten a job–happy that Dale was okay hiring teenagers with no job experience, but she still didn’t quite believe Ol’ Hoagie was going to save the town. She hadn’t ever actually been out to the lake. Her parents didn’t camp, or fish, or ride horses. So there really wasn’t a reason to go. She fidgeted with her necklace, waiting for Dale to put her order up. The necklace was new. Well, mostly new. She had only been working at Dale’s for a few days when she found the necklace. She was cleaning up, and it lay on top of a table she had been serving. Rushing into the street to try and catch the couple (tourists), she found it deserted. The necklace lay in the lost and found for a few weeks, and finally, unable to ignore its call, February took it out and put it on. The chain was silver, links so fine they were almost imperceptible. The ornament that hung down was a green stone, cut so that it always glittered in the sunlight, forever trapped inside a twining cage of the smallest silver vines. She wasn’t the type of person to have this kind of Kiosk16

57


F I C TION

12 Brenda Lussier

F

electric by Summer Wulf film photography

56

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ebruary awoke with dirt-encrusted feet. As she sat up and silenced her alarm, she could feel it–tiny bits of dirt flaking off of her toes and scattering around her Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle bed sheets. She’d have to wash them. Again. If this had happened weeks ago, she would have been surprised. But it’d been almost three

months. The surprise was gone. The shock was gone. All that remained were feet caked with grime and no memory of how they got that way. She’d been sleepwalking now for some time. Nearly three months that she knew of. Each morning awakening to gritty sheets and a good scrubbing in the shower. She’d tried to prepare. She’d gone to great lengths to make sure that she couldn’t get outside. Each night before bed, she double-checked the locked trailer door. Each morning, she awoke with dirty feet. All she could tell herself was at least it was summer, so she wouldn’t freeze to death out there somewhere. February swung her pale legs over the side of the bed. It was still dark out, still dark in her

room, but she could hear something. A slight tip-tapping, a knocking, a soft… breeze maybe? She hopped off her bed and flicked on the light. Her room was fairly clean as it always was–except for her desk. Even though she had cleaned it just a few days ago, her desk was once again a scatter of papers: notes, whole sheets, tiny pieces ripped from larger things she’d scrawled on. But the noise. Where was the noise? She soon found it. The room wasn’t big enough to hide such a thing. Her window was wide open, the screen thrust out onto the dewy lawn. February groaned as she brought her head back inside. She’d have to figure out a better way to lock the window. Better than the locks already on it. She couldn’t think about it now. Now was not the time. She trudged down the dark hallway towards the bathroom. She arrived at the restaurant at five a.m., red hair messily piled onto her head, still wet from the shower. Everything was beginning to lighten, but not enough for her to tell whether the day would be sunny and warm or cloudy and breezy. She fitted her key into the lock and slid into the stale smells of Dale’s Bar and Grill. “Hey!” a sharp male voice called out to her. “Almost late.” As she flipped the sign hanging in the door to “open,” James, one of her best friends, slipped into the early morning light. “But I’m not,” February said. She headed into the kitchen to grab her apron and say hello to Dale, who was frying hash browns. “That’s what they all say.” James was leaning against the end of the bar. His skin always reminded her of nutmeg, a reddish-brown color like the leaves in the fall. She sighed and glared at him. She was too tired for this. She checked her pockets, making sure she had a pen and pad of paper. She yawned. “Are you still sleepwalking?” James’s face morphed from glee to concern. “I thought you were over that.”

“Nope,” February said. Her eyes flicked to the door. “I found out today where I’ve been getting out. It’s the window. It was wide open this morning, and the screen was out in our yard.” “Shit.” James sucked his lip. “You need to get your parents to get you some super heavy-duty locks there.” “Yeah, like that’s gonna happen,” February rolled her eyes. She thought briefly about asking her parents to drive her into town—how her unemployed father would lecture her about wasting gas or how she’d have to drown in cigarette smoke if she asked her mother. “You mean if you literally told your parents you were a werewolf, they wouldn’t help lock you up? For your own safety?” James asked. “James, I would never be a werewolf. Because they aren’t real,” she said. She briefly thought of bothering Cath. Her best friend, Cath, had a car. February didn’t have a car, but she had a license. Maybe she could borrow the vehicle. February was shaken from her thoughts by the small bell over the door ringing out. Grabbing a stack of menus, she stomped towards the door. Her feet felt like lead. As if she had already been waitressing all night. As customers swirled into the restaurant, February tried to keep her mind on them and off of her already aching feet. The dim lighting of the restaurant reflected the rising sun, almost as if someone had forgotten to turn on some of the lights in Dale’s. The seats were vinyl and sparse, the bar counter ringed with tall stools. The floor was made of an ancient laminate that may have actually been brown or may have become that way over the years. There were the regulars, who were already setting up their area at the bar. They’d be here until close, moving from scrambled eggs to beer with ease as the day wore on. There wasn’t anything else for them to do. Then there were the tourists. Hogarth, Nebraska wasn’t a big town by any means. If you believed the sign by the highway, it had 236 residents. If you believed the local kids, everyone in town was already dead.

But there were tourists. The town had recently been bestowed a large county grant to build a nature park. A park with a giant lake, horse trails, hiking, camping, and fishing. People had laughed at first, saying it was never going to happen. “Too silly,” they said. “Why Hogarth?” But as more and more properties were bought up, the dream became a reality. Now the huge man-made lake was ringed with forests, camping spots, horse trails, you name it. And residents were still convinced that Ol’ Lake Hoagie–actually named the Denison Preserve– was going to be the savior of their town. The gas staIf you believed the tion had begun selling an sign by the highway, it increased variety of items, had 236 residents. and Dale’s had hired new workers. There were now If you believed the local plans in the works for a kids, everyone in town new playground and an ice cream place. was already dead. February was happy she had gotten a job–happy that Dale was okay hiring teenagers with no job experience, but she still didn’t quite believe Ol’ Hoagie was going to save the town. She hadn’t ever actually been out to the lake. Her parents didn’t camp, or fish, or ride horses. So there really wasn’t a reason to go. She fidgeted with her necklace, waiting for Dale to put her order up. The necklace was new. Well, mostly new. She had only been working at Dale’s for a few days when she found the necklace. She was cleaning up, and it lay on top of a table she had been serving. Rushing into the street to try and catch the couple (tourists), she found it deserted. The necklace lay in the lost and found for a few weeks, and finally, unable to ignore its call, February took it out and put it on. The chain was silver, links so fine they were almost imperceptible. The ornament that hung down was a green stone, cut so that it always glittered in the sunlight, forever trapped inside a twining cage of the smallest silver vines. She wasn’t the type of person to have this kind of Kiosk16

57


jewelry. But no one had said anything, even when she was sure guilt was plastered all over her face. The most infuriating moment had been the second day. Overwhelmed by her guilt, she had discovered the intricate chain of the necklace was broken, and so it would be stuck around her neck possibly forever. She had burned inside with shame, but no one said anything. And that had been ages ago. Home after her shift, February found her father absent from the trailer and her mother still asleep. Creeping into the room nearest to the washer and dryer, she whispered in a small voice, “Louie Mae?” The old door with the cracked paint creaked open. There was no sound from inside. It was practically lunchtime. She couldn’t imagine both her mother and little sister would still be asleep. “Louie? You in here?” Through the open crack of the door she could already see the mess her younger sister liked to live in. Toys, games, and books littered the floor. There in the middle of it sat her younger sister, Louie. Her chubby toddler cheeks were already smeared with something February fervently hoped was chocolate. “Louie Mae, you gotta put some pants on.” February walked into the room, shutting the door behind her. Louie remained silent, instead holding out a Little Golden Book. She had a whole collection of them. On one of her good days, their mother had brought the books home from the Goodwill, each filled with pictures Louie Mae loved, each spine covered in shiny gold. A box of treasures. “Yeah, yeah. We’ll read later, okay? We have to find you some food,” February said. She was already scrounging in the changing table for some sort of clean clothing to put on her sister. Louie Mae was way too old for the changing table, almost ready for preschool, but for some reason the table remained, doing duty as a chest of drawers. February jostled the clothing, hoping she wouldn’t have to do any laundry. Her mother 58

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would be especially upset if the noise woke her up just because February needed to wash some clothes. Finally finding something suitable, she slipped Louie Mae into the clothes and, picking her up, headed to the kitchen. After scrounging through empty cabinets, she managed to find a mostly empty package of individually plastic wrapped cheeses in the fridge and a bag holding exactly two slices of old bread. One was an end piece, but she used it anyway. Making a grilled cheese, she plated it, taking both the food and Louie Mae into her room. In February’s room, she had a rocking chair that Louie Mae loved sitting in. The two split the sandwich, Louie Mae getting three-fourths of it and February picking at the leftovers. When they had finished eating, February sat Louie Mae on her lap and began to read as quietly as she could so as not to wake their mother. They were only a few pages into a story about twelve princesses who snuck out at night to dance when there was a frustrated roar from the kitchen. “Dammit, February! Did you use the last of the fucking bread?” The door to February’s room was wrenched open. In peered a face that may have once been pretty. Now wracked with premature wrinkles and smudged makeup left over from the night before, it was the face of someone struggling to make it through each day. “I had to make something for Louie Mae,” February said, facing the harridan from her chair, her defenses already up. “Fuck!” Her mother turned from the door, her face in a hard frown. A lit cigarette dangled from the edge of her lip, held there by some type of magic. “That was the last of this month’s groceries, you idiot.” “What? Am I just not supposed to feed her? She already didn’t have breakfast.” “I don’t know! Get something at the goddamned diner or from that douchebag you hang around with in there.” February glared at her mother even though

she wasn’t paying attention. She was already on her way back into the kitchen. “Dale said you need to come in to work early!” February yelled after her. February awoke once again to the sound of her alarm. The trailer was dark. She stretched her feet and was frustrated to again find them caked with grime. She sighed and swung her legs out of bed. She went over to check her window. The wire hanger she had used to jerry-rig a better lock was twisted and curled back onto itself, leaving the window once again open. She growled, frustrated, and went to get ready for the day. At the diner, she again felt as if she hadn’t slept a bit. It felt like years since she had gotten a good night’s sleep. She slogged through her work, mostly oblivious to her surroundings. Even James or Cath couldn’t hold her attention. “Short stack, bacon, and scrambled eggs.” She was serving a table, her tray balanced against the empty one next to her, when something finally cut through the clouded miasma of her mind. There, on the throat of the girl at the table (who was probably February’s age, but much cleaner and more put together) was her necklace. She handed a plate to the mustachioed

man at the table and felt her hand fly to her throat. The necklace was still there. For some reason it still didn’t make sense to her addled brain. Two necklaces. They looked exactly the same. February could see the small green stone glinting from inside its silver cage. The woman at the table cleared her throat loudly, snapping February’s attention back to the table. She realized she’d been staring at them for a disquieting amount of time. “Ha. Sorry. Uh… Eggs Benedict?” She handed the warm plate to the purse-lipped woman. “Sorry, I was just noticing we’ve got the same necklace.” She looked over at the brown-haired girl and pointed to her own throat. The girl reached up to touch hers. “It’s very pretty, isn’t it? Where’d you get yours? I’m curious. I found mine lost in the brambles out by the campground.” “Really?” The words were tumbling from her mouth before she realized the strange coincidence. “I found mine too. It was left by someone.” The purse-lipped woman again cleared her throat. February looked down and noticed the woman giving her that shove-off-we’re-trying-tohave-a-family-breakfast look. With a quick smile February asked if they needed anything else, then she skittered away from the table. Work

THE PINE DWELLER by Spencer Eiseman digital collage

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jewelry. But no one had said anything, even when she was sure guilt was plastered all over her face. The most infuriating moment had been the second day. Overwhelmed by her guilt, she had discovered the intricate chain of the necklace was broken, and so it would be stuck around her neck possibly forever. She had burned inside with shame, but no one said anything. And that had been ages ago. Home after her shift, February found her father absent from the trailer and her mother still asleep. Creeping into the room nearest to the washer and dryer, she whispered in a small voice, “Louie Mae?” The old door with the cracked paint creaked open. There was no sound from inside. It was practically lunchtime. She couldn’t imagine both her mother and little sister would still be asleep. “Louie? You in here?” Through the open crack of the door she could already see the mess her younger sister liked to live in. Toys, games, and books littered the floor. There in the middle of it sat her younger sister, Louie. Her chubby toddler cheeks were already smeared with something February fervently hoped was chocolate. “Louie Mae, you gotta put some pants on.” February walked into the room, shutting the door behind her. Louie remained silent, instead holding out a Little Golden Book. She had a whole collection of them. On one of her good days, their mother had brought the books home from the Goodwill, each filled with pictures Louie Mae loved, each spine covered in shiny gold. A box of treasures. “Yeah, yeah. We’ll read later, okay? We have to find you some food,” February said. She was already scrounging in the changing table for some sort of clean clothing to put on her sister. Louie Mae was way too old for the changing table, almost ready for preschool, but for some reason the table remained, doing duty as a chest of drawers. February jostled the clothing, hoping she wouldn’t have to do any laundry. Her mother 58

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would be especially upset if the noise woke her up just because February needed to wash some clothes. Finally finding something suitable, she slipped Louie Mae into the clothes and, picking her up, headed to the kitchen. After scrounging through empty cabinets, she managed to find a mostly empty package of individually plastic wrapped cheeses in the fridge and a bag holding exactly two slices of old bread. One was an end piece, but she used it anyway. Making a grilled cheese, she plated it, taking both the food and Louie Mae into her room. In February’s room, she had a rocking chair that Louie Mae loved sitting in. The two split the sandwich, Louie Mae getting three-fourths of it and February picking at the leftovers. When they had finished eating, February sat Louie Mae on her lap and began to read as quietly as she could so as not to wake their mother. They were only a few pages into a story about twelve princesses who snuck out at night to dance when there was a frustrated roar from the kitchen. “Dammit, February! Did you use the last of the fucking bread?” The door to February’s room was wrenched open. In peered a face that may have once been pretty. Now wracked with premature wrinkles and smudged makeup left over from the night before, it was the face of someone struggling to make it through each day. “I had to make something for Louie Mae,” February said, facing the harridan from her chair, her defenses already up. “Fuck!” Her mother turned from the door, her face in a hard frown. A lit cigarette dangled from the edge of her lip, held there by some type of magic. “That was the last of this month’s groceries, you idiot.” “What? Am I just not supposed to feed her? She already didn’t have breakfast.” “I don’t know! Get something at the goddamned diner or from that douchebag you hang around with in there.” February glared at her mother even though

she wasn’t paying attention. She was already on her way back into the kitchen. “Dale said you need to come in to work early!” February yelled after her. February awoke once again to the sound of her alarm. The trailer was dark. She stretched her feet and was frustrated to again find them caked with grime. She sighed and swung her legs out of bed. She went over to check her window. The wire hanger she had used to jerry-rig a better lock was twisted and curled back onto itself, leaving the window once again open. She growled, frustrated, and went to get ready for the day. At the diner, she again felt as if she hadn’t slept a bit. It felt like years since she had gotten a good night’s sleep. She slogged through her work, mostly oblivious to her surroundings. Even James or Cath couldn’t hold her attention. “Short stack, bacon, and scrambled eggs.” She was serving a table, her tray balanced against the empty one next to her, when something finally cut through the clouded miasma of her mind. There, on the throat of the girl at the table (who was probably February’s age, but much cleaner and more put together) was her necklace. She handed a plate to the mustachioed

man at the table and felt her hand fly to her throat. The necklace was still there. For some reason it still didn’t make sense to her addled brain. Two necklaces. They looked exactly the same. February could see the small green stone glinting from inside its silver cage. The woman at the table cleared her throat loudly, snapping February’s attention back to the table. She realized she’d been staring at them for a disquieting amount of time. “Ha. Sorry. Uh… Eggs Benedict?” She handed the warm plate to the purse-lipped woman. “Sorry, I was just noticing we’ve got the same necklace.” She looked over at the brown-haired girl and pointed to her own throat. The girl reached up to touch hers. “It’s very pretty, isn’t it? Where’d you get yours? I’m curious. I found mine lost in the brambles out by the campground.” “Really?” The words were tumbling from her mouth before she realized the strange coincidence. “I found mine too. It was left by someone.” The purse-lipped woman again cleared her throat. February looked down and noticed the woman giving her that shove-off-we’re-trying-tohave-a-family-breakfast look. With a quick smile February asked if they needed anything else, then she skittered away from the table. Work

THE PINE DWELLER by Spencer Eiseman digital collage

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was extra busy that day, and she didn’t have time to dwell on the necklace again. That night, February went to bed exhausted, having eaten only a handful of raisins she found shoved into the back, far reaches of a cabinet. She hoped to God her mother would go grocery shopping soon. Or maybe her father would get

Yaquina lighthouse by Claire May-Patterson photography

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upset at the lack of food and go out himself. Her stomach growled at the image of him returning from town, arms laden with SpaghettiOs. She slept fitfully. She twitched, throwing out arms and legs. In her dreams everything was a smear of color, the scent of pine. She woke in the morning with a startled gasp of air, sure she had just seen the girl in the necklace again. She had been in the dream, February had caught just a glimpse of her, but they kept being whisked away from each other, swirling in some motion she couldn’t figure out. Today was her day off. February had decided yesterday she was going to take Louie Mae out to the lake. It was free to go look, so why not? Louie Mae might even like it. February threw on some clothes–jean shorts and a too-big-T-shirt. Then she trooped down

the hallway to get Louie. When the two of them were dressed, she plunked a pair of her own cheap plastic sunglasses onto Louie Mae. The little girl giggled. The two of them set out across the street for the diner. There they managed to get Cath to sneak them both a cinnamon roll. February looked down at the counter, embarrassed enough for all of them. Going out to Ol’ Hoagie turned out to be a wonderful adventure. Louie Mae reveled in the small lapping waves, the sandy dirt shore, the tiny clamshells, and even the horribly stinky dead fish February insisted on throwing back into the lake. The sun beat down, warming them. They were full and running on a sugar high from the cinnamon rolls. The woods around them were filled with the sounds of birds, the lake glittering, the campers, fishers, and tourists providing entertainment. The day was perfect. Until February found herself jolted from sleep, alone on the shore of the lake at night. She looked around, frantic, sure she had left earlier. She and Louie Mae had been here earlier, hadn’t they? She remembered the cinnamon rolls. The clamshells. The dead fish. Then why was she here? Her hands dug into the soupy mess of marshy dirt nearest the edge of the forest. She was lying face down on the ground, a few feet from the woods, a few feet from the lake. She was wearing her pajamas–a T-shirt and shorts now covered with dirt, leaves, and sticks. She stood, brushing herself off. Her eyes roved. She must have been sleepwalking again. She shook her head to clear her thoughts. Something caught her eye. She rushed to the glitter on the ground, scrambling to pick her necklace out of the sloppy, waterlogged earth. She pulled it from the ground, and it twinkled in the late starlight of the early morning. As she held it before her, her other hand snaked up to her neck. Yes. It

was still there. This necklace wasn’t hers. At Dale’s, she brought out the necklace to show James and Cath. “Isn’t that… yours?” James asked quizzically. “No, that’s the thing. I’m wearing mine. It hasn’t come off since the day I put it on. This is someone else’s. Maybe that other girl’s.” “And?” Cath sounded bored. “And, don’t you think it’s weird that it would be halfway in the lake water? And why was I even out there? Why would I go to the lake at night?” Cath shrugged. “I don’t know, Feb.” James leaned back against the bar. “Lots of sleepwalkers do weird stuff. My aunt once woke up throwing a bunch of her kitchen stuff down the basement stairs. She thought she was cleaning out the bathroom.” February wasn’t satisfied with their answers, but Dale had come out and flipped the sign over to “open,” and the regulars were already filtering in. February awoke once again in the dark. The smell of murky water invaded her nose, and pine needles crunched under her hands. She was out at the lake again. She whirled to look around, stiffening when she heard sounds. There was something happening. Voices. She turned toward them. There in the trees, she could almost see it: the edge of some sort of gathering. Flames flickered. February rose, brushing mud from her knees. She hugged her arms to her chest as she stepped into the woods toward the revelry. The leaves of the trees glittered like diamonds in the starlight. Silver. Gold, where the light of the fire hit them. As she emerged into the clearing she began to see people she knew. There was Mr. Stolz who owned the gas station, a group of regulars from Dale’s, a friend’s mom, another friend’s dad, and a bunch of people she didn’t know.

She stepped further into the clearing, self-conscious of her cut-off sleeveless shirt and striped short shorts. “Ho! There she is!” A man she didn’t know turned to greet her, throwing his arm out as if she were awaited here. He had hair so blond it looked white in the light of the fire. A cheer went up across the clearing where she couldn’t see anything except twisting figures distorted by flames. “What? Wha–who are you?” she managed,

still peering out at the faces. Her eyes caught one person across from the flames. The girl from the restaurant. Her necklace glittered in the firelight. The man who had gestured laughed and closed the space between them, settling an arm onto her shoulders. “Come on, February. We’ve been waiting on you.” “We? Who’s we?” “Why everyone!” The man moved his arm, encompassing the entire gathering. February squirmed out from under his arm and shuffled a ways away. She thought she could see James’ parents on the other side of the fire. “She’s not asleep,” someone said to her left. February turned to look for the person who had spoken, confusion wrinkling her brow. “Hmmm,” the man with the blond hair looked down into her face. “I believe you are

The source by José Luis Gonzalez digital photography

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was extra busy that day, and she didn’t have time to dwell on the necklace again. That night, February went to bed exhausted, having eaten only a handful of raisins she found shoved into the back, far reaches of a cabinet. She hoped to God her mother would go grocery shopping soon. Or maybe her father would get

Yaquina lighthouse by Claire May-Patterson photography

60

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upset at the lack of food and go out himself. Her stomach growled at the image of him returning from town, arms laden with SpaghettiOs. She slept fitfully. She twitched, throwing out arms and legs. In her dreams everything was a smear of color, the scent of pine. She woke in the morning with a startled gasp of air, sure she had just seen the girl in the necklace again. She had been in the dream, February had caught just a glimpse of her, but they kept being whisked away from each other, swirling in some motion she couldn’t figure out. Today was her day off. February had decided yesterday she was going to take Louie Mae out to the lake. It was free to go look, so why not? Louie Mae might even like it. February threw on some clothes–jean shorts and a too-big-T-shirt. Then she trooped down

the hallway to get Louie. When the two of them were dressed, she plunked a pair of her own cheap plastic sunglasses onto Louie Mae. The little girl giggled. The two of them set out across the street for the diner. There they managed to get Cath to sneak them both a cinnamon roll. February looked down at the counter, embarrassed enough for all of them. Going out to Ol’ Hoagie turned out to be a wonderful adventure. Louie Mae reveled in the small lapping waves, the sandy dirt shore, the tiny clamshells, and even the horribly stinky dead fish February insisted on throwing back into the lake. The sun beat down, warming them. They were full and running on a sugar high from the cinnamon rolls. The woods around them were filled with the sounds of birds, the lake glittering, the campers, fishers, and tourists providing entertainment. The day was perfect. Until February found herself jolted from sleep, alone on the shore of the lake at night. She looked around, frantic, sure she had left earlier. She and Louie Mae had been here earlier, hadn’t they? She remembered the cinnamon rolls. The clamshells. The dead fish. Then why was she here? Her hands dug into the soupy mess of marshy dirt nearest the edge of the forest. She was lying face down on the ground, a few feet from the woods, a few feet from the lake. She was wearing her pajamas–a T-shirt and shorts now covered with dirt, leaves, and sticks. She stood, brushing herself off. Her eyes roved. She must have been sleepwalking again. She shook her head to clear her thoughts. Something caught her eye. She rushed to the glitter on the ground, scrambling to pick her necklace out of the sloppy, waterlogged earth. She pulled it from the ground, and it twinkled in the late starlight of the early morning. As she held it before her, her other hand snaked up to her neck. Yes. It

was still there. This necklace wasn’t hers. At Dale’s, she brought out the necklace to show James and Cath. “Isn’t that… yours?” James asked quizzically. “No, that’s the thing. I’m wearing mine. It hasn’t come off since the day I put it on. This is someone else’s. Maybe that other girl’s.” “And?” Cath sounded bored. “And, don’t you think it’s weird that it would be halfway in the lake water? And why was I even out there? Why would I go to the lake at night?” Cath shrugged. “I don’t know, Feb.” James leaned back against the bar. “Lots of sleepwalkers do weird stuff. My aunt once woke up throwing a bunch of her kitchen stuff down the basement stairs. She thought she was cleaning out the bathroom.” February wasn’t satisfied with their answers, but Dale had come out and flipped the sign over to “open,” and the regulars were already filtering in. February awoke once again in the dark. The smell of murky water invaded her nose, and pine needles crunched under her hands. She was out at the lake again. She whirled to look around, stiffening when she heard sounds. There was something happening. Voices. She turned toward them. There in the trees, she could almost see it: the edge of some sort of gathering. Flames flickered. February rose, brushing mud from her knees. She hugged her arms to her chest as she stepped into the woods toward the revelry. The leaves of the trees glittered like diamonds in the starlight. Silver. Gold, where the light of the fire hit them. As she emerged into the clearing she began to see people she knew. There was Mr. Stolz who owned the gas station, a group of regulars from Dale’s, a friend’s mom, another friend’s dad, and a bunch of people she didn’t know.

She stepped further into the clearing, self-conscious of her cut-off sleeveless shirt and striped short shorts. “Ho! There she is!” A man she didn’t know turned to greet her, throwing his arm out as if she were awaited here. He had hair so blond it looked white in the light of the fire. A cheer went up across the clearing where she couldn’t see anything except twisting figures distorted by flames. “What? Wha–who are you?” she managed,

still peering out at the faces. Her eyes caught one person across from the flames. The girl from the restaurant. Her necklace glittered in the firelight. The man who had gestured laughed and closed the space between them, settling an arm onto her shoulders. “Come on, February. We’ve been waiting on you.” “We? Who’s we?” “Why everyone!” The man moved his arm, encompassing the entire gathering. February squirmed out from under his arm and shuffled a ways away. She thought she could see James’ parents on the other side of the fire. “She’s not asleep,” someone said to her left. February turned to look for the person who had spoken, confusion wrinkling her brow. “Hmmm,” the man with the blond hair looked down into her face. “I believe you are

The source by José Luis Gonzalez digital photography

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correct. February, how did you get here?” “How did I–?” February looked into the man’s face, neither kind nor cruel. “I–I don’t know.” Her eyes flew around the gathered circle. Everyone was here. Well, all the adults anyway– everyone she had ever met or seen in town. The blond man’s eyes widened at her reply. “Oh dear.” Then he spoke again, “The necklace. You found “February, look at me.” She didn’t want to. the necklace. They weren’t Her eyes were racing supposed to go to townsfolk, across faces she knew, but I don’t know,” he shrugged faces she recognized. like it was just a coincidence. What did it mean? What was everyone doing? Why had she been coming here? “February,” the man said. When her eyes found him, he set two fingers on her forehead and everything stopped. When February came to, she found she couldn’t move her hands and that her feet were cramping. She struggled to stretch out and found she couldn’t. She was tied, hand and foot, sitting in a boat. A small, wooden boat. She’d never seen anything like it. It looked like something from the dark ages. The wood was rough and unvarnished, and nails poked through where it was held together. She struggled against her bonds, finally looking up. She was still at the lake. She sat in a boat along the shore of the lake. Beside her were others. Other boats, other teenagers. All of them sat in their boats, hogtied, but none of them looked like they cared in the least. Their eyes were glazed. Next to her sat the girl from the restaurant. “Hey. Hey!” she whispered. She received no response. The girl simply stared ahead, oblivious in her tank top and pajama pants. February turned to her right. “Hey!” she called out to a boy she didn’t recognize. “Hey you!” He remained as impassive as the girl. Just 62

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as she was about to turn away, she noticed something glinting on his bare chest. A necklace. “Shit!” Dread flooded her veins, and February struggled harder against the bindings. She glanced up and happened to see them coming from out of the woods. The people. The people from her town. Everyone lined the shore as the blond man stood in the middle. In his hand, he held a wooden torch. “Hey! HEY!” February shouted at the crowd. She saw Mrs. Granger and her husband. There was old Mr. Hyde who lived next door and paid her to mow his grass every other week. “HEY!” The louder she yelled, the more impassive the crowd seemed. Her eyes skated every face, trying to find something, someone, anything. Then she saw them. Her parents. “HEY! HEY!” She was about to yell again. Maybe they were too far away to hear her—they were on the opposite end of the shoreline. But a hand clamped onto her mouth. “Shhh! Shhh! Shhh!” The blond man was squatting by her boat. His fingers tasted of salt. “They can’t hear you, honey. Well, okay, they can, but it’s already been decided.” February looked up into this man’s face. Who was he? “Oh, honey, I’m sorry, but you were chosen. And that’s an honor. It’s a good thing. You’re going to help make Hogarth great.” February wrenched her mouth away from the man’s hand. “What?” She flicked her tongue out, trying to rid herself of his taste. “The necklace. You found the necklace. They weren’t supposed to go to townsfolk, but I don’t know,” he shrugged like it was just a coincidence. A coincidence that she was tied up in this boat and had been sleepwalking out here for three months, attending some bonfire in the woods. “It chose you, I suppose. It’s an honor really. And you’ve been such a good little dancer. Surpassed even our little Clara over here, and she’s been

taking ballet since she was three years old.” “What?” None of it made sense. “Well, you can’t have a good sacrifice without some good solid celebrating, can you?” the man stood, stretching his hands behind his back while looking out over the gathered crowd. “Twelve weeks of celebration and now the grand finale!” He reached down and tapped her knee. “Don’t worry, I’m sure you’ll do fine.” In that moment, as she saw a smile stretch over his face, his eyes suddenly flashed to solid black. Before she could form the words, his eyes were back to normal, and he headed away from her, back to the crowd. He collected the torch from Mr. Binkley, who had served her communion last week at church. “City of Hogarth!” the blond man’s voice bellowed over the water, as if his chest was four times the size it should be. “On this night we shall ensure the fate of your fair town!”

He stepped toward the water, the crowd behind him watching stony-faced. “These twelve youths have gathered with us, celebrating over twelve weeks, and now, tonight is the night. The night we set them free!” Pronouncing these last words, he brought the flame down toward the first boat, igniting it. Four men rushed from the crowd to push the flaming boat out into the lake as the blond man, grinning maniacally, moved down the line to the next one. There were only two boats before he would reach February. She swallowed hard, fear bubbling into her throat, threatening to choke her. She watched as the second boat was lit and was pushed into the lake where it followed the first, silently flaming under the moonless sky. The third boat lit, and the men pushed at it. February looked up as the blond man loped toward her. He raised the flame, and she screamed as his eyes flooded with black.

ANGLES by Nicole Loe photography

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correct. February, how did you get here?” “How did I–?” February looked into the man’s face, neither kind nor cruel. “I–I don’t know.” Her eyes flew around the gathered circle. Everyone was here. Well, all the adults anyway– everyone she had ever met or seen in town. The blond man’s eyes widened at her reply. “Oh dear.” Then he spoke again, “The necklace. You found “February, look at me.” She didn’t want to. the necklace. They weren’t Her eyes were racing supposed to go to townsfolk, across faces she knew, but I don’t know,” he shrugged faces she recognized. like it was just a coincidence. What did it mean? What was everyone doing? Why had she been coming here? “February,” the man said. When her eyes found him, he set two fingers on her forehead and everything stopped. When February came to, she found she couldn’t move her hands and that her feet were cramping. She struggled to stretch out and found she couldn’t. She was tied, hand and foot, sitting in a boat. A small, wooden boat. She’d never seen anything like it. It looked like something from the dark ages. The wood was rough and unvarnished, and nails poked through where it was held together. She struggled against her bonds, finally looking up. She was still at the lake. She sat in a boat along the shore of the lake. Beside her were others. Other boats, other teenagers. All of them sat in their boats, hogtied, but none of them looked like they cared in the least. Their eyes were glazed. Next to her sat the girl from the restaurant. “Hey. Hey!” she whispered. She received no response. The girl simply stared ahead, oblivious in her tank top and pajama pants. February turned to her right. “Hey!” she called out to a boy she didn’t recognize. “Hey you!” He remained as impassive as the girl. Just 62

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as she was about to turn away, she noticed something glinting on his bare chest. A necklace. “Shit!” Dread flooded her veins, and February struggled harder against the bindings. She glanced up and happened to see them coming from out of the woods. The people. The people from her town. Everyone lined the shore as the blond man stood in the middle. In his hand, he held a wooden torch. “Hey! HEY!” February shouted at the crowd. She saw Mrs. Granger and her husband. There was old Mr. Hyde who lived next door and paid her to mow his grass every other week. “HEY!” The louder she yelled, the more impassive the crowd seemed. Her eyes skated every face, trying to find something, someone, anything. Then she saw them. Her parents. “HEY! HEY!” She was about to yell again. Maybe they were too far away to hear her—they were on the opposite end of the shoreline. But a hand clamped onto her mouth. “Shhh! Shhh! Shhh!” The blond man was squatting by her boat. His fingers tasted of salt. “They can’t hear you, honey. Well, okay, they can, but it’s already been decided.” February looked up into this man’s face. Who was he? “Oh, honey, I’m sorry, but you were chosen. And that’s an honor. It’s a good thing. You’re going to help make Hogarth great.” February wrenched her mouth away from the man’s hand. “What?” She flicked her tongue out, trying to rid herself of his taste. “The necklace. You found the necklace. They weren’t supposed to go to townsfolk, but I don’t know,” he shrugged like it was just a coincidence. A coincidence that she was tied up in this boat and had been sleepwalking out here for three months, attending some bonfire in the woods. “It chose you, I suppose. It’s an honor really. And you’ve been such a good little dancer. Surpassed even our little Clara over here, and she’s been

taking ballet since she was three years old.” “What?” None of it made sense. “Well, you can’t have a good sacrifice without some good solid celebrating, can you?” the man stood, stretching his hands behind his back while looking out over the gathered crowd. “Twelve weeks of celebration and now the grand finale!” He reached down and tapped her knee. “Don’t worry, I’m sure you’ll do fine.” In that moment, as she saw a smile stretch over his face, his eyes suddenly flashed to solid black. Before she could form the words, his eyes were back to normal, and he headed away from her, back to the crowd. He collected the torch from Mr. Binkley, who had served her communion last week at church. “City of Hogarth!” the blond man’s voice bellowed over the water, as if his chest was four times the size it should be. “On this night we shall ensure the fate of your fair town!”

He stepped toward the water, the crowd behind him watching stony-faced. “These twelve youths have gathered with us, celebrating over twelve weeks, and now, tonight is the night. The night we set them free!” Pronouncing these last words, he brought the flame down toward the first boat, igniting it. Four men rushed from the crowd to push the flaming boat out into the lake as the blond man, grinning maniacally, moved down the line to the next one. There were only two boats before he would reach February. She swallowed hard, fear bubbling into her throat, threatening to choke her. She watched as the second boat was lit and was pushed into the lake where it followed the first, silently flaming under the moonless sky. The third boat lit, and the men pushed at it. February looked up as the blond man loped toward her. He raised the flame, and she screamed as his eyes flooded with black.

ANGLES by Nicole Loe photography

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P OET R Y

P OET R Y

Dandelion

The Dreamy Idealist Brayton Hagge

Jocelyn Wolff

His eyes are as clear blue as the Caribbean Sea, and his skin as white as the sand that meets and disappears within it. His arms are strong, and they are as long as the trees populating the Redwood Forest. His touch is the Sahara Desert leaving me steaming, but always parched with a thirst for more. I am as cold as the tundra when he shuts me out, leaving me without heat. Every time. Trying to make him love me is like blowing apart a dandelion and putting it back together. Impossible.

flower by Claire May-Patterson intaglio

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Twelfth grade, second period, trapped in a desk, sealed in a box, encouraged to take a test because I must know what box to put myself into next. Personality, must be one of the declared sixteen. The results? INFP: so-called dreamy idealist. And then the dreamer in me begins to think about this, begins to ponder the way I move through the night, headphones on, my chest near to shattering, with air made wonderfully crisp, chest near to shattering at the sight of all the stars that I spin under until they form a kaleidoscope that I claim as all my own. I think about how I wish that someone would understand me when I say that being alive lights me up, that the world makes me feel small and how this might be something magnificent because if I am that small, the world is that big and must be expanding around me, must be dancing around me, around the big white billows of my breath in the night air, around the two small imprints of my bare feet in the grass.

See? Can you feel that? Feel how it feels to breathe in the night? But then the teacher calls my name, and suddenly, I am back in the confines of my desk. I think: dreamy idealist‌ Maybe they’re right; I belong inside that box after all.

Infinity by Michelle Vasquez intaglio

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65


P OET R Y

P OET R Y

Dandelion

The Dreamy Idealist Brayton Hagge

Jocelyn Wolff

His eyes are as clear blue as the Caribbean Sea, and his skin as white as the sand that meets and disappears within it. His arms are strong, and they are as long as the trees populating the Redwood Forest. His touch is the Sahara Desert leaving me steaming, but always parched with a thirst for more. I am as cold as the tundra when he shuts me out, leaving me without heat. Every time. Trying to make him love me is like blowing apart a dandelion and putting it back together. Impossible.

flower by Claire May-Patterson intaglio

64

Kiosk16

Twelfth grade, second period, trapped in a desk, sealed in a box, encouraged to take a test because I must know what box to put myself into next. Personality, must be one of the declared sixteen. The results? INFP: so-called dreamy idealist. And then the dreamer in me begins to think about this, begins to ponder the way I move through the night, headphones on, my chest near to shattering, with air made wonderfully crisp, chest near to shattering at the sight of all the stars that I spin under until they form a kaleidoscope that I claim as all my own. I think about how I wish that someone would understand me when I say that being alive lights me up, that the world makes me feel small and how this might be something magnificent because if I am that small, the world is that big and must be expanding around me, must be dancing around me, around the big white billows of my breath in the night air, around the two small imprints of my bare feet in the grass.

See? Can you feel that? Feel how it feels to breathe in the night? But then the teacher calls my name, and suddenly, I am back in the confines of my desk. I think: dreamy idealist‌ Maybe they’re right; I belong inside that box after all.

Infinity by Michelle Vasquez intaglio

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65


Art

literature Amy Carothers is a freshman double majoring in English teaching and theater with a philosophy minor on the side. She hails from sunny Cape Coral, Florida. On campus this year, she played Edith in Pirates of Penzance and ran the fiction board for the Kiosk, and this summer she’ll be an OSA for student registration.

Heather Eisele is a sophomore from Hastings, Nebraska. She is an English major with a double minor in Spanish and gender studies. She is involved in Gender Undone and Sigma Tau Delta and hopes to teach college English someday.

Brenda Lussier is a 2010 graduate of Morningside College. Her mother once told off a Hell’s Angel, her father once set off an M-80 on the Mainstreet of their small town, and her brother is a Marine. To keep up this daring family business, she decided to become a librarian. She now works a lot and spends her free time writing, drawing, and listening to music.

Alexi Malatare is a sophomore English, counseling psychology, and social and behavioral science triple major from South Dakota. She is the service chair of Alpha Lambda Delta and a newly initiated member of Sigma Tau Delta. Alexi also acts as a member of the Kiosk’s Non-Fiction board and mentors freshmen honors.

Megan Gies is a first year student studying English.

Greg Guelcher is currently a professor of history at Morningside College, where he is completing his 20th year of teaching. Dr. Guelcher loves to travel, especially in Asia. For five months in spring 2013, Dr. Guelcher was a Visiting Professor at Hwa Nan Women’s College in Fuzhou, China, during which time he kept a travel blog. He really does like China and the Chinese.

Brayton Hagge is a junior English Education major at Morningside College. She is originally from Crofton, Nebraska. At Morningside, she is involved in activities such as Sigma Tau Delta, Kappa Delta Pi, MAC, and more. She is currently enjoying her spring semester studying abroad in Northern Ireland.

Amber Kast is a sophomore student majoring in public history and minoring in art History. She hails from the small town of Faribault, Minnesota and enjoys reading, writing, knitting, watching movies, and attending concerts.

Allison Linafelter is a sophomore from Sioux City Iowa. She is an English major with a minor in legal studies. She is involved in many activities on campus, including mock trial, college choir, res life, and theatre. She would like to thank her mom and her cat Sheldon for supporting her in every endeavor.

Nicole Loe is a senior double majoring in photography and English and minoring in advertising. She is from Baltic, South Dakota and has recently completed a semester abroad in London. She is the president of Photography Club and is an active member of the Sigma Tau Delta and Omicron Delta Kappa honor societies.

Tyler Nordstrom is a freshman from South Sioux City, Nebraska and has a double major in music and library sciences. He is also a part of the Morningside College Choir.

Ashley Petersen is a senior from Hebron, Nebraska. She is an English education major with endorsements in reading and coaching. She is president of Sigma Tau Delta, Vice President of Dean’s List Reception for Omicron Delta Kappa, and a member of both Alpha Lambda Delta and Kappa Delta Pi.

Anna Shanafelt is a junior secondary English education major from Sioux City, Iowa. She is a member of Sigma Tau Delta, likes oversized sweaters, and drinks tea on the daily.

Sadie Shuck is a senior English education major from Hinton, IA. In her free time, she likes to coach, read, and be with her friends and family.

Ashley Stagner is a junior English major from Columbus Junction, Iowa. She is an active member in the Morningside College Marching Mustangs, the Symphonic Wind Ensemble, and Bel Canto.

Mariah Wills is an English and Spanish double major from Spirit Lake, Iowa. She runs track and cross-country and is the president of the Spanish Club on campus.

Jocelyn Wolff is a junior English and religious studies double major from South Sioux City, Nebraska. She is vice president of Religious Studies Club, secretary of Sigma Tau Delta, and a member of various other campus organizations.

Anna Zetterlund is a sophomore vocal performance major and business minor from Keokuk, Iowa. She is involved with various music ensembles on campus and is a member of the residence life staff.

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Kelsey Ahart is a senior at Morningside College and is majoring in graphic design with minors in advertising and photography from Denison, Iowa. Kelsey enjoys watching Netflix. She has two bunnies named Tom and Lucy and a cat named Ace.

Breanna Van Bochove is a sophomore at Morningside College and is majoring in biology. Breanna enjoys playing on the Morningside women’s soccer team, traveling to national parks, and doing anything outdoors with her dog and friends.

John Bowitz is Professor Emeritas at Morningside College.

Amber Burg is a senior at Morningside College and is majoring in photography with minors in advertising and journalism. She enjoys taking photographs, writing, and spending time with her family and dog, Meeko.

Spencer Eiseman is a 5th Year senior at Morningside, majoring in photography and business administration. Spencer loves space, napping, all the animals, adventure, and athletics. He will be attending graduate school in the Fall of 2016.

Jose Gonzalez is a senior at Morningside College and is majoring in photography with a minor in advertising. Jose enjoys taking nature photos, cooking, dancing, and keeping others positive. One of his goals is to gain employment as a photographer at a prestigious mass communication company where his experience in public relations & photography will contribute to the growth of the company. Most of his art work consists of nature, paths, and animals.

Samantha Hansen is a recent Morningside grad living and working on the East Coast. She is currently putting both her English and art degrees to good use, working at a book publisher and at an art gallery. Samantha enjoys drinking coffee, live music, hanging out with her dog, and train rides.

Brianna Harding is a senior from Council Bluffs, Iowa studying graphic design and advertising at Morningside College. Bri’s daily routine involves an obscene amount of coffee, talking to God, and scheming new branding concepts for people who don’t even know they need it.

Joelle Kruger is a junior at Morningside College and is majoring in graphic design and advertising. Joelle loves Jesus, has perfected the front-side-half bun, and aspires to be a minimalist despite her hoarding tendencies.

Shaina Le is a freshman at Morningside College and is majoring in art education. She’s currently scheming of ways to be taller. Please stop mistaking her for a middle schooler.

Nicole Loe is a senior double majoring in photography and English with a minor in advertising. She is from Baltic, SD, and has recently completed a semester abroad in London. She is the president of Photography Club, and is an active member of Sigma Tau Delta and Omicron Delta Kappa honor societies.

Claire May-Patterson is a senior at Morningside College and is majoring in art education. Claire enjoys roller coasters, slushies and cuddling with her cat.

Trey Russell is a junior at Morningside College. Trey is studying graphic design.

Anna Ryan is from Omaha, NE, and is a senior at Morningside College. She is studying to complete her undergraduate degree with a general psychology major, and minors in studio art and religious studies. After graduating in May 2016, Anna will be pursuing graduate school to obtain a career as an occupational therapist. Anna’s interest in art began in 1st grade, and it has been her favorite hobby ever since. She hopes to continue to make art beyond her college career.

Allie Sweeney is currently a senior at Morningside College and will be graduating in May. She is majoring in advertising with a double minor in photography and graphic design. Allie is a creative thinker, animal lover, coffee enthusiast and is always binge-watching some show on Netflix.

Madeline Trott is a senior at Morningside College and is majoring in arts administration with an emphasis in photography. Madeline enjoys folk music, warm coffee shops, and the smell of new books.

Michelle Vasquez is a senior at Morningside College and is majoring in biology and chemistry. Michelle loves art and uses it as a getaway from the harsh organic equilibrium reactions. When she is not busy trying to comprehend photosynthesis and evolution, she love to listen to music and play guitar on her spare time.

Summer Wulf, from Denison, Iowa, is a senior art education major at Morningside College. Summer loves many types of art, but takes a special interest in paint, drawing, and film photography. She will soon become a certified K-12 art teacher where she will share her passion for art with children.

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Art

literature Amy Carothers is a freshman double majoring in English teaching and theater with a philosophy minor on the side. She hails from sunny Cape Coral, Florida. On campus this year, she played Edith in Pirates of Penzance and ran the fiction board for the Kiosk, and this summer she’ll be an OSA for student registration.

Heather Eisele is a sophomore from Hastings, Nebraska. She is an English major with a double minor in Spanish and gender studies. She is involved in Gender Undone and Sigma Tau Delta and hopes to teach college English someday.

Brenda Lussier is a 2010 graduate of Morningside College. Her mother once told off a Hell’s Angel, her father once set off an M-80 on the Mainstreet of their small town, and her brother is a Marine. To keep up this daring family business, she decided to become a librarian. She now works a lot and spends her free time writing, drawing, and listening to music.

Alexi Malatare is a sophomore English, counseling psychology, and social and behavioral science triple major from South Dakota. She is the service chair of Alpha Lambda Delta and a newly initiated member of Sigma Tau Delta. Alexi also acts as a member of the Kiosk’s Non-Fiction board and mentors freshmen honors.

Megan Gies is a first year student studying English.

Greg Guelcher is currently a professor of history at Morningside College, where he is completing his 20th year of teaching. Dr. Guelcher loves to travel, especially in Asia. For five months in spring 2013, Dr. Guelcher was a Visiting Professor at Hwa Nan Women’s College in Fuzhou, China, during which time he kept a travel blog. He really does like China and the Chinese.

Brayton Hagge is a junior English Education major at Morningside College. She is originally from Crofton, Nebraska. At Morningside, she is involved in activities such as Sigma Tau Delta, Kappa Delta Pi, MAC, and more. She is currently enjoying her spring semester studying abroad in Northern Ireland.

Amber Kast is a sophomore student majoring in public history and minoring in art History. She hails from the small town of Faribault, Minnesota and enjoys reading, writing, knitting, watching movies, and attending concerts.

Allison Linafelter is a sophomore from Sioux City Iowa. She is an English major with a minor in legal studies. She is involved in many activities on campus, including mock trial, college choir, res life, and theatre. She would like to thank her mom and her cat Sheldon for supporting her in every endeavor.

Nicole Loe is a senior double majoring in photography and English and minoring in advertising. She is from Baltic, South Dakota and has recently completed a semester abroad in London. She is the president of Photography Club and is an active member of the Sigma Tau Delta and Omicron Delta Kappa honor societies.

Tyler Nordstrom is a freshman from South Sioux City, Nebraska and has a double major in music and library sciences. He is also a part of the Morningside College Choir.

Ashley Petersen is a senior from Hebron, Nebraska. She is an English education major with endorsements in reading and coaching. She is president of Sigma Tau Delta, Vice President of Dean’s List Reception for Omicron Delta Kappa, and a member of both Alpha Lambda Delta and Kappa Delta Pi.

Anna Shanafelt is a junior secondary English education major from Sioux City, Iowa. She is a member of Sigma Tau Delta, likes oversized sweaters, and drinks tea on the daily.

Sadie Shuck is a senior English education major from Hinton, IA. In her free time, she likes to coach, read, and be with her friends and family.

Ashley Stagner is a junior English major from Columbus Junction, Iowa. She is an active member in the Morningside College Marching Mustangs, the Symphonic Wind Ensemble, and Bel Canto.

Mariah Wills is an English and Spanish double major from Spirit Lake, Iowa. She runs track and cross-country and is the president of the Spanish Club on campus.

Jocelyn Wolff is a junior English and religious studies double major from South Sioux City, Nebraska. She is vice president of Religious Studies Club, secretary of Sigma Tau Delta, and a member of various other campus organizations.

Anna Zetterlund is a sophomore vocal performance major and business minor from Keokuk, Iowa. She is involved with various music ensembles on campus and is a member of the residence life staff.

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Kelsey Ahart is a senior at Morningside College and is majoring in graphic design with minors in advertising and photography from Denison, Iowa. Kelsey enjoys watching Netflix. She has two bunnies named Tom and Lucy and a cat named Ace.

Breanna Van Bochove is a sophomore at Morningside College and is majoring in biology. Breanna enjoys playing on the Morningside women’s soccer team, traveling to national parks, and doing anything outdoors with her dog and friends.

John Bowitz is Professor Emeritas at Morningside College.

Amber Burg is a senior at Morningside College and is majoring in photography with minors in advertising and journalism. She enjoys taking photographs, writing, and spending time with her family and dog, Meeko.

Spencer Eiseman is a 5th Year senior at Morningside, majoring in photography and business administration. Spencer loves space, napping, all the animals, adventure, and athletics. He will be attending graduate school in the Fall of 2016.

Jose Gonzalez is a senior at Morningside College and is majoring in photography with a minor in advertising. Jose enjoys taking nature photos, cooking, dancing, and keeping others positive. One of his goals is to gain employment as a photographer at a prestigious mass communication company where his experience in public relations & photography will contribute to the growth of the company. Most of his art work consists of nature, paths, and animals.

Samantha Hansen is a recent Morningside grad living and working on the East Coast. She is currently putting both her English and art degrees to good use, working at a book publisher and at an art gallery. Samantha enjoys drinking coffee, live music, hanging out with her dog, and train rides.

Brianna Harding is a senior from Council Bluffs, Iowa studying graphic design and advertising at Morningside College. Bri’s daily routine involves an obscene amount of coffee, talking to God, and scheming new branding concepts for people who don’t even know they need it.

Joelle Kruger is a junior at Morningside College and is majoring in graphic design and advertising. Joelle loves Jesus, has perfected the front-side-half bun, and aspires to be a minimalist despite her hoarding tendencies.

Shaina Le is a freshman at Morningside College and is majoring in art education. She’s currently scheming of ways to be taller. Please stop mistaking her for a middle schooler.

Nicole Loe is a senior double majoring in photography and English with a minor in advertising. She is from Baltic, SD, and has recently completed a semester abroad in London. She is the president of Photography Club, and is an active member of Sigma Tau Delta and Omicron Delta Kappa honor societies.

Claire May-Patterson is a senior at Morningside College and is majoring in art education. Claire enjoys roller coasters, slushies and cuddling with her cat.

Trey Russell is a junior at Morningside College. Trey is studying graphic design.

Anna Ryan is from Omaha, NE, and is a senior at Morningside College. She is studying to complete her undergraduate degree with a general psychology major, and minors in studio art and religious studies. After graduating in May 2016, Anna will be pursuing graduate school to obtain a career as an occupational therapist. Anna’s interest in art began in 1st grade, and it has been her favorite hobby ever since. She hopes to continue to make art beyond her college career.

Allie Sweeney is currently a senior at Morningside College and will be graduating in May. She is majoring in advertising with a double minor in photography and graphic design. Allie is a creative thinker, animal lover, coffee enthusiast and is always binge-watching some show on Netflix.

Madeline Trott is a senior at Morningside College and is majoring in arts administration with an emphasis in photography. Madeline enjoys folk music, warm coffee shops, and the smell of new books.

Michelle Vasquez is a senior at Morningside College and is majoring in biology and chemistry. Michelle loves art and uses it as a getaway from the harsh organic equilibrium reactions. When she is not busy trying to comprehend photosynthesis and evolution, she love to listen to music and play guitar on her spare time.

Summer Wulf, from Denison, Iowa, is a senior art education major at Morningside College. Summer loves many types of art, but takes a special interest in paint, drawing, and film photography. She will soon become a certified K-12 art teacher where she will share her passion for art with children.

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Pa g e fr o m t h e pa s t

Memory

A bout the K iosk

Dan Oakland

“Subject to editorial fallibility, the best will be printed.” The windmill in the meadow stands lonely as the breezes try to give it life. The farmhouse–once a home–is now a memory. Only to be thought of by the wheat field growing in its place.

This quotation first appeared in the foreword of the 1938 issue of Manuscript, the predecessor of the Kiosk. In the early years of Morningside, student satire and short fiction was often published in the yearbook, but an idea for a student literary magazine began to grow in 1937 during a meeting of the Manuscript Club. In March, 1938, student and faculty gathered to read aloud stories and poems, which has undergone a screening process; only pieces of “sufficient literary merit” made it to readings, recalled Miriam Baker Nye, first editor. That fall, South Dakota poet laureate Badger Clark visited campus, further fueling student desire for a literary magazine, and so on December 7, 1938, Manuscript was printed and distributed. Response to the publication was instant. One of the stories described students skipping chapel to go to an ice cream parlor, and the next week President Roadman started taking roll during chapel. Over the next several years, students were motivated to submit their work and have their words read and their voices heard. The group published sixteen issues until Manuscript disappeared in 1952. The magazine resumed publication under the name Perspectives in 1955. Students changed the name to Kiosk in 1971 and have continued publications nearly every year since. Advisors over the years have included Donald Stefanson, Carole Van Wyngarden, Janice Eidus, Scott Simmer, Robert Conley, Jan Hodge, Jason Murrary, and for the past 28 years, Stephen Coyne. While the Kiosk has included cover art in many of its publications, the format of the maga-

There was a grove of trees where the children used to play their games, and where they’d sing their songs, and where they’d shed their tears. Once there stood an orchard which would blossom every spring, and a garden that would grow ‘til fall. The grove of trees is gone now and with it all the children. Each spring and fall are sadder with no blossoms to smell and no garden to tend. All these are but memories, only to be thought of by the wheat field growing there instead. And all that is left is the lonely windmill standing in the meadow as the breezes vainly try to bring it life again.

Kiosk 1973

zine was revamped in 2006 to include student and alumni-created art of various media. Art advisors John Kolbo, Terri McGaffin, and Dolie Thompson have assisted student editors in allowing these artistic pieces take a more central role in the magazine. With the continued support of President John Reynders and the Morningside community, this publication continues to grow and evolve. Since 2006, the Kiosk has won multiple awards from the Columbia Scholastic Press Association and Associated Collegiate Press, including a Silver Medalist Award, a Silver Crown Award, six Gold Medalist Awards, three Magazine Pacemaker Finalist Awards and a Gold Crown Award. Submissions are accepted in the spring semester of each academic year. Literary work is then reviewed by the editorial boards, and recommendations are forwarded to the head editor, who then forwards accepted pieces for judging. Art work is selected by a panel of student judges who represent Morningside’s various art majors. A panel of area artists then selects the award winners. Those interested in working for and/or submitting to the magazine may contact Professor Stephen Coyne by email at coyne@morningside.edu. The Kiosk is published annually by Morningside College and is distributed at no cost to Morningside students and alumni.

78 Years of the Kiosk 1938

1956

1971

2006

2015

First literary magazine on campus.

Name changed to Perspectives.

Name changed, again, to Kiosk.

Format change introduced more artwork.

Columbia Scholastic Press Association Gold

Kiosk16

69


Pa g e fr o m t h e pa s t

Memory

A bout the K iosk

Dan Oakland

“Subject to editorial fallibility, the best will be printed.” The windmill in the meadow stands lonely as the breezes try to give it life. The farmhouse–once a home–is now a memory. Only to be thought of by the wheat field growing in its place.

This quotation first appeared in the foreword of the 1938 issue of Manuscript, the predecessor of the Kiosk. In the early years of Morningside, student satire and short fiction was often published in the yearbook, but an idea for a student literary magazine began to grow in 1937 during a meeting of the Manuscript Club. In March, 1938, student and faculty gathered to read aloud stories and poems, which has undergone a screening process; only pieces of “sufficient literary merit” made it to readings, recalled Miriam Baker Nye, first editor. That fall, South Dakota poet laureate Badger Clark visited campus, further fueling student desire for a literary magazine, and so on December 7, 1938, Manuscript was printed and distributed. Response to the publication was instant. One of the stories described students skipping chapel to go to an ice cream parlor, and the next week President Roadman started taking roll during chapel. Over the next several years, students were motivated to submit their work and have their words read and their voices heard. The group published sixteen issues until Manuscript disappeared in 1952. The magazine resumed publication under the name Perspectives in 1955. Students changed the name to Kiosk in 1971 and have continued publications nearly every year since. Advisors over the years have included Donald Stefanson, Carole Van Wyngarden, Janice Eidus, Scott Simmer, Robert Conley, Jan Hodge, Jason Murrary, and for the past 28 years, Stephen Coyne. While the Kiosk has included cover art in many of its publications, the format of the maga-

There was a grove of trees where the children used to play their games, and where they’d sing their songs, and where they’d shed their tears. Once there stood an orchard which would blossom every spring, and a garden that would grow ‘til fall. The grove of trees is gone now and with it all the children. Each spring and fall are sadder with no blossoms to smell and no garden to tend. All these are but memories, only to be thought of by the wheat field growing there instead. And all that is left is the lonely windmill standing in the meadow as the breezes vainly try to bring it life again.

Kiosk 1973

zine was revamped in 2006 to include student and alumni-created art of various media. Art advisors John Kolbo, Terri McGaffin, and Dolie Thompson have assisted student editors in allowing these artistic pieces take a more central role in the magazine. With the continued support of President John Reynders and the Morningside community, this publication continues to grow and evolve. Since 2006, the Kiosk has won multiple awards from the Columbia Scholastic Press Association and Associated Collegiate Press, including a Silver Medalist Award, a Silver Crown Award, six Gold Medalist Awards, three Magazine Pacemaker Finalist Awards and a Gold Crown Award. Submissions are accepted in the spring semester of each academic year. Literary work is then reviewed by the editorial boards, and recommendations are forwarded to the head editor, who then forwards accepted pieces for judging. Art work is selected by a panel of student judges who represent Morningside’s various art majors. A panel of area artists then selects the award winners. Those interested in working for and/or submitting to the magazine may contact Professor Stephen Coyne by email at coyne@morningside.edu. The Kiosk is published annually by Morningside College and is distributed at no cost to Morningside students and alumni.

78 Years of the Kiosk 1938

1956

1971

2006

2015

First literary magazine on campus.

Name changed to Perspectives.

Name changed, again, to Kiosk.

Format change introduced more artwork.

Columbia Scholastic Press Association Gold

Kiosk16

69


R ecent Awards

2006

Columbia Scholastic Press Association Silver Medalist Associated Collegiate Press Pacemaker Finalist

2007

Columbia Scholastic Press Association Gold Medalist

2008

Columbia Scholastic Press Association Gold Medalist Associated Collegiate Press Pacemaker Finalist

2009

Columbia Scholastic Press Association Gold Medalist

2010

Columbia Scholastic Press Association Silver Crown Award

2012

Columbia Scholastic Press Association Gold Medalist Associated Collegiate Press Pacemaker Finalist

2013

Columbia Scholastic Press Association Gold Medalist

2014

Columbia Scholastic Press Association Gold Medalist

2015

Tommeraasen Award of Excellence

2016

Columbia Scholastic Press Association Gold Crown Award

Kiosk magazine is printed on a digital printing press using four process colors on 80# matte-coated cover and 80# matte-coated book paper stock. Adobe InDesign is the page layout software used to assemble the entire publication. The book is perfect bound. Typefaces used include fonts from the Folio, Trade Gothic and Berkeley type families.

Copyright 2016 by the Kiosk, a publication of Morningside College. After first publication all rights revert to the authors and artists. The views herein do not necessarily reflect those of the Kiosk staff or Morningside College. The Kiosk is published by and for adults. Some material may not be suitable for children.


R ecent Awards

2006

Columbia Scholastic Press Association Silver Medalist Associated Collegiate Press Pacemaker Finalist

2007

Columbia Scholastic Press Association Gold Medalist

2008

Columbia Scholastic Press Association Gold Medalist Associated Collegiate Press Pacemaker Finalist

2009

Columbia Scholastic Press Association Gold Medalist

2010

Columbia Scholastic Press Association Silver Crown Award

2012

Columbia Scholastic Press Association Gold Medalist Associated Collegiate Press Pacemaker Finalist

2013

Columbia Scholastic Press Association Gold Medalist

2014

Columbia Scholastic Press Association Gold Medalist

2015

Tommeraasen Award of Excellence

2016

Columbia Scholastic Press Association Gold Crown Award

Kiosk magazine is printed on a digital printing press using four process colors on 80# matte-coated cover and 80# matte-coated book paper stock. Adobe InDesign is the page layout software used to assemble the entire publication. The book is perfect bound. Typefaces used include fonts from the Folio, Trade Gothic and Berkeley type families.

Copyright 2016 by the Kiosk, a publication of Morningside College. After first publication all rights revert to the authors and artists. The views herein do not necessarily reflect those of the Kiosk staff or Morningside College. The Kiosk is published by and for adults. Some material may not be suitable for children.


1501 MORNINGSIDE AVE. SIOUX CITY, IOWA 51106 The Morningside College experience cultivates a passion for lifelong learning and a dedication to ethical leadership and civic responsibility.

Profile for Kiosk

2016: Kiosk Vol 78  

2016: Kiosk Vol 78  

Profile for thekiosk
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