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U n d e r g r o u n d Po o l I s s u e Tw o


U n d e r g r o u n d Po o l

I s s u e Tw o

Spring 2012

Edit or & Designer

Joe Gr anat o

Cover Ar t ist Reader s

Faculty Advisor

Geor ge Wylesol Christina Brandon-Brown Nichole Celauro Andrew Donato David Miller Bill Morse Ian Newton Carlos Rios Joel Vernile George Wylesol Elise Juska

The University of the Arts


U n d e r g r o u n d Po o l

I s s u e Tw o

Spring 2012

Edit or & Designer

Joe Gr anat o

Cover Ar t ist Reader s

Faculty Advisor

Geor ge Wylesol Christina Brandon-Brown Nichole Celauro Andrew Donato David Miller Bill Morse Ian Newton Carlos Rios Joel Vernile George Wylesol Elise Juska

The University of the Arts


ABOUT UNDERGROUND POOL

They boarded up the old pool. The one in the basement that wasn’t so much an actual pool as it was a dumping ground for the things nobody had any use for anymore, old desks with broken chairs and the like. Going down there and taking in its perverse, eerie majesty was like a rite of passage for the students, throwing in old coffee cups or half-smoked cigarettes a way to leave your mark, to add on to the pile. Now, though, they’ve nailed shut the doors and blocked off the stairways. The elevator doesn’t even go down to the basement anymore. Condemned. However, there must still be a way to leave a mark, perhaps more constructive than a trash pile, but something still tangible, still permanent. What they have condemned, we will embrace. This is our pile. THANKS

For their expertise, support and enthusiasm for this project: Liberal Arts Dean Peter Stambler; Vice President of University Communications Paul Healy; Media Relations Director Carise Mitch; Production Manager Jim Maurer; Web Developer Lauren Woodward; College of Art, Media and Design faculty Matt Curtius, David Graham and Tom Leonard; and Provost Kirk Pillow.

SWIMMING

G e o r g e Wy l e s o l

Underground Pool

The University of the Arts

Philadelphia, PA

www.uarts.edu/undergroundpool undergroundpool@uarts.edu

UNDERGROUND POOL

3


ABOUT UNDERGROUND POOL

They boarded up the old pool. The one in the basement that wasn’t so much an actual pool as it was a dumping ground for the things nobody had any use for anymore, old desks with broken chairs and the like. Going down there and taking in its perverse, eerie majesty was like a rite of passage for the students, throwing in old coffee cups or half-smoked cigarettes a way to leave your mark, to add on to the pile. Now, though, they’ve nailed shut the doors and blocked off the stairways. The elevator doesn’t even go down to the basement anymore. Condemned. However, there must still be a way to leave a mark, perhaps more constructive than a trash pile, but something still tangible, still permanent. What they have condemned, we will embrace. This is our pile. THANKS

For their expertise, support and enthusiasm for this project: Liberal Arts Dean Peter Stambler; Vice President of University Communications Paul Healy; Media Relations Director Carise Mitch; Production Manager Jim Maurer; Web Developer Lauren Woodward; College of Art, Media and Design faculty Matt Curtius, David Graham and Tom Leonard; and Provost Kirk Pillow.

SWIMMING

G e o r g e Wy l e s o l

Underground Pool

The University of the Arts

Philadelphia, PA

www.uarts.edu/undergroundpool undergroundpool@uarts.edu

UNDERGROUND POOL

3


FICTION

7 19 33 53 63

Wound James Ham Sunshine-Flowers and Happiness Carlos Rios The Wolf Kaihly Brouhard Animal Joel Vernile Between and Beyond the Space of Us Paul Winter

POETRY

15 16 16 17 30 42 45 50 51 60 61

Room Rachel Howard Marriage Veronica Zabczynski Wishing Well Veronica Zabczynski 8.9 Magnitude Veronica Zabczynski The Feast of Abraham Angelique Benrahou Am I Clean Yet? George Wylesol Jennifer Grey’s Nose Michael Englisis Stacey-poo Kevin Kypers iMemorandum Kevin Kypers Tin Burrowed Hawk & A Thirsty Swallow Jonathan Vaders November 7, 2010 S. Andrew Albitz

ARTWORK

2 4 6 18 29 32 44 46 52 62 68 72 JO UR NEY TO THE M OON

Swimming George Wylesol Journey to the Moon Kelsey Niziolek Bird Beard Kate O’Hara Wodaabe Women Leah Romero Weight Andy Hood Exotic Channeling Corinne Sandkuhler Weakness James Kaminski The Adventures of Mail-Pig Andy Hood Closure Kathleen Premian Philadelphia Homes Leah Romero Sense of Place Christopher Warrington Philly in Springtime Ellen Duda

Kelsey Niziolek UNDERGROUND POOL

5


FICTION

7 19 33 53 63

Wound James Ham Sunshine-Flowers and Happiness Carlos Rios The Wolf Kaihly Brouhard Animal Joel Vernile Between and Beyond the Space of Us Paul Winter

POETRY

15 16 16 17 30 42 45 50 51 60 61

Room Rachel Howard Marriage Veronica Zabczynski Wishing Well Veronica Zabczynski 8.9 Magnitude Veronica Zabczynski The Feast of Abraham Angelique Benrahou Am I Clean Yet? George Wylesol Jennifer Grey’s Nose Michael Englisis Stacey-poo Kevin Kypers iMemorandum Kevin Kypers Tin Burrowed Hawk & A Thirsty Swallow Jonathan Vaders November 7, 2010 S. Andrew Albitz

ARTWORK

2 4 6 18 29 32 44 46 52 62 68 72 JO UR NEY TO THE M OON

Swimming George Wylesol Journey to the Moon Kelsey Niziolek Bird Beard Kate O’Hara Wodaabe Women Leah Romero Weight Andy Hood Exotic Channeling Corinne Sandkuhler Weakness James Kaminski The Adventures of Mail-Pig Andy Hood Closure Kathleen Premian Philadelphia Homes Leah Romero Sense of Place Christopher Warrington Philly in Springtime Ellen Duda

Kelsey Niziolek UNDERGROUND POOL

5


WOUND

JAMES HAM

Winner of the 2011 Liberal Arts Departmental Writing Award

M

B IR D BEARD

Kate O’Hara

y hair is stuck to the canvas. I wipe my face with my hand. That is a lot of blood. Phil is celebrating, trying to get the crowd into it. There is minimal reaction. Eventually he gives up and leaves the ring, and I wipe my face again. That is still a lot of blood. I didn’t think I had cut that deeply. I peel myself off of the canvas. People are already getting out of their seats. I check my wrist tapings, make sure the blade is secure and hidden. Most guys just throw the damn thing across the ring after they cut with it. I’m old school. I won’t just ruin the illusion that way. The bottom rope is soggy as I roll underneath it and my boots touch concrete. I get my legs beneath me, but my back and knees won’t straighten out. I hobble back to the locker room. I wipe the stringy hairs out of my face and look up slightly, showing any of the people left in the building how bloody I am, still trying to tell the story. They slide into brown coats and move the other way. I push the curtain to the side and enter the locker room. A few of the

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7


WOUND

JAMES HAM

Winner of the 2011 Liberal Arts Departmental Writing Award

M

B IR D BEARD

Kate O’Hara

y hair is stuck to the canvas. I wipe my face with my hand. That is a lot of blood. Phil is celebrating, trying to get the crowd into it. There is minimal reaction. Eventually he gives up and leaves the ring, and I wipe my face again. That is still a lot of blood. I didn’t think I had cut that deeply. I peel myself off of the canvas. People are already getting out of their seats. I check my wrist tapings, make sure the blade is secure and hidden. Most guys just throw the damn thing across the ring after they cut with it. I’m old school. I won’t just ruin the illusion that way. The bottom rope is soggy as I roll underneath it and my boots touch concrete. I get my legs beneath me, but my back and knees won’t straighten out. I hobble back to the locker room. I wipe the stringy hairs out of my face and look up slightly, showing any of the people left in the building how bloody I am, still trying to tell the story. They slide into brown coats and move the other way. I push the curtain to the side and enter the locker room. A few of the

UNDERGROUND POOL

7


guys pat me on the back or joke about the stitches I will need. When I finally see myself in the mirror in the bathroom, I decide to not get stitched up. If I go to an ER, it will waste too much time. I’ll get to the next booking later than I want to. It is a dingy mirror, but I can still tell that I really did cut too deeply. The sink is turning red. It was already dirty. I guess I just couldn’t feel how far I was sticking myself. I wash my hands, wash my face and chest, and wash my hair as best I can. I pull the tube of super glue from my bag and squeeze some into the cut. There is some blood on the tube, so I wipe it off before I put it back in the bag. I just have to change into real clothes. My car is the only one left in the lot. You get out last when you mainevent. Phil didn’t blade during the match, so even he set off before me. I throw my bag into the backseat and get in behind the wheel. The car smells worse than I do. I just want to rest for a minute. I lean my head back. My eyes close softly. I should call Robin. The old maroon seats in this car make the interior very dark, so I fumble trying to find my phone in the backseat. As I dial home, I grip the steering wheel. “Hi,” she answers. “Hi,” I say. My knuckles are so white I can see them. She isn’t happy. “How is the birthday boy?” I ask. “Did he have a good day?” “Yeah.” “What did he get? Did his friends all show up?” “He liked his presents,” she says. “Good,” I say. “Good,” she says. I can’t remember what we bought him. I should remember. I lean my head back and close my eyes. “You won’t keep doing this to him, Nick,” she says. “I won’t let you do this to either of us.” “I can’t cancel bookings whenever I want.” “You shouldn’t book them in the first place.” “You know that’s not how the business works,” I say. What is the date today? I shouldn’t have called her. It is too late to talk to him anyway; he is in bed by now. I should have called earlier, before the show. “We won’t be here,” she says. I open my eyes. “I have to leave for Philly. I’ll call you when I get there,” I say. She says nothing.

“I’ll call you when I get there,” I say. She hangs up. I pull out of the parking lot and leave this warehouse behind me for another one in Philadelphia. I set some Mötorhead to play and pull onto the highway. Another ring will be set up in that warehouse when I arrive. The sun will probably not be up yet. Yellow and green lights flood the car at regular intervals as I speed past signs and posts. I can glimpse my phone in the passenger seat every time the car lights up. There are never many cars on the road at this time of night. This traveling is what the existence of a Professional Wrestler truly is. Most guys pack themselves into one car and all travel together. My first paid match was for ten dollars, before I had a driver’s license. Once I earned my license, I was the designated driver for those cars. I’d have six or seven drunk, stoned or unconscious wrestlers crammed into this very car, and I would be in charge of keeping them all on the road and out of jails or whorehouses. Every night was a new adventure. That was back when I used to be the first match of the night. To be in a match at all was all I ever wanted back then, even if my only role was to take an ass-kicking. When you’re just breaking into the business, you usually have to act as chaperone, luggage boy, legal guardian and punching bag for the guys who have been around longer. I haven’t been obligated to chauffeur anyone since the first time a promoter decided to make me the heel in a match. He said that, unlike the other young guys, my looks wouldn’t appeal to female fans. He gave me a shot at being the bad guy, and after the match the veterans claimed I was a natural at making the people hate me. I’ve been able to choose who rides with me ever since. It’s been a long time since I’ve driven anyone but myself. I miss his birthday parties. I’ve missed a lot of things; that doesn’t mean I want to. My back and knees are more stiff than before. I have trouble pulling myself out of the car. I look around the motel parking lot. The other guys have their cars here already. I should grab myself a room. I pack my things into my bag and reach for the phone. Robin always likes for me to call. She always answers, even when it wakes her up. I hear a familiar laugh from across the street. There is a bar over there,

UNDERGROUND POOL

9


guys pat me on the back or joke about the stitches I will need. When I finally see myself in the mirror in the bathroom, I decide to not get stitched up. If I go to an ER, it will waste too much time. I’ll get to the next booking later than I want to. It is a dingy mirror, but I can still tell that I really did cut too deeply. The sink is turning red. It was already dirty. I guess I just couldn’t feel how far I was sticking myself. I wash my hands, wash my face and chest, and wash my hair as best I can. I pull the tube of super glue from my bag and squeeze some into the cut. There is some blood on the tube, so I wipe it off before I put it back in the bag. I just have to change into real clothes. My car is the only one left in the lot. You get out last when you mainevent. Phil didn’t blade during the match, so even he set off before me. I throw my bag into the backseat and get in behind the wheel. The car smells worse than I do. I just want to rest for a minute. I lean my head back. My eyes close softly. I should call Robin. The old maroon seats in this car make the interior very dark, so I fumble trying to find my phone in the backseat. As I dial home, I grip the steering wheel. “Hi,” she answers. “Hi,” I say. My knuckles are so white I can see them. She isn’t happy. “How is the birthday boy?” I ask. “Did he have a good day?” “Yeah.” “What did he get? Did his friends all show up?” “He liked his presents,” she says. “Good,” I say. “Good,” she says. I can’t remember what we bought him. I should remember. I lean my head back and close my eyes. “You won’t keep doing this to him, Nick,” she says. “I won’t let you do this to either of us.” “I can’t cancel bookings whenever I want.” “You shouldn’t book them in the first place.” “You know that’s not how the business works,” I say. What is the date today? I shouldn’t have called her. It is too late to talk to him anyway; he is in bed by now. I should have called earlier, before the show. “We won’t be here,” she says. I open my eyes. “I have to leave for Philly. I’ll call you when I get there,” I say. She says nothing.

“I’ll call you when I get there,” I say. She hangs up. I pull out of the parking lot and leave this warehouse behind me for another one in Philadelphia. I set some Mötorhead to play and pull onto the highway. Another ring will be set up in that warehouse when I arrive. The sun will probably not be up yet. Yellow and green lights flood the car at regular intervals as I speed past signs and posts. I can glimpse my phone in the passenger seat every time the car lights up. There are never many cars on the road at this time of night. This traveling is what the existence of a Professional Wrestler truly is. Most guys pack themselves into one car and all travel together. My first paid match was for ten dollars, before I had a driver’s license. Once I earned my license, I was the designated driver for those cars. I’d have six or seven drunk, stoned or unconscious wrestlers crammed into this very car, and I would be in charge of keeping them all on the road and out of jails or whorehouses. Every night was a new adventure. That was back when I used to be the first match of the night. To be in a match at all was all I ever wanted back then, even if my only role was to take an ass-kicking. When you’re just breaking into the business, you usually have to act as chaperone, luggage boy, legal guardian and punching bag for the guys who have been around longer. I haven’t been obligated to chauffeur anyone since the first time a promoter decided to make me the heel in a match. He said that, unlike the other young guys, my looks wouldn’t appeal to female fans. He gave me a shot at being the bad guy, and after the match the veterans claimed I was a natural at making the people hate me. I’ve been able to choose who rides with me ever since. It’s been a long time since I’ve driven anyone but myself. I miss his birthday parties. I’ve missed a lot of things; that doesn’t mean I want to. My back and knees are more stiff than before. I have trouble pulling myself out of the car. I look around the motel parking lot. The other guys have their cars here already. I should grab myself a room. I pack my things into my bag and reach for the phone. Robin always likes for me to call. She always answers, even when it wakes her up. I hear a familiar laugh from across the street. There is a bar over there,

UNDERGROUND POOL

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and I see a broad shape silhouetted against the neon orange of the building. I put my bag back into the car, slide the phone into my pocket, and make my way across the road. I know all of the guys will be in here, already drunk. They are all in here. Phil and his boys have monopolized one half of the room, as usual. The rest of the guys are eating or drinking at the stools. Several of the younger guys tell me what a great match I had. They tell me the crowd was a bad one and that no man on the planet could make those people pop. They tell me I was a great heel tonight, that I timed Phil’s comeback perfectly. They say that any other crowd would have loved how I mixed my stiff mat wrestling with his highflying spots; I’m such a perfect bad guy to complement Phil’s super good guy act. Phil is snorting something off his table. Now he is demanding more beer. I thank the boys and excuse myself to a table in the corner. I want rum. I never drink a lot. I’ve never once been drunk on tour, or for a match. Phil and I will be main-eventing again tomorrow night. He will drink up until the show. I should think about how we can structure the match better. I never want to send a crowd home unhappy again. I always like to start the match like a buzzsaw: very fast-paced with lots of impact and strikes. Sting and Ric Flair always used to start their matches that way, and their match at the 1990 Great American Bash is still one of my favorites. I give the face the majority of the offense, and he gets over with the crowd. They get behind him, and I shut his momentum down with a thumb to the eye, a low blow, or some other dirty tactic. Then we play the people like a fiddle; I hit him with big moves until the crowd stops cringing. Then I give him a comeback, and the crowd gets behind him. I shut him down again until they start to expect when he’ll be shut down. Then he gets his big comeback, the face gets fired up, the crowd gets fired up, we trade finishers, he wins. It’s textbook. I must have done something wrong for it not to work. There is a scuffle over by Phil’s side of the bar. People are shouting, fists are swinging. Phil is fighting a drunk. The drunk’s friends are cheering the fight on. Phil takes the man to the floor with an arm lock. He puts pressure on the poor guy’s elbow and shoulder. The guy is crying. He has a broken arm. Phil isn’t letting go, just applies more pressure. Phil’s boys are daring the drunk’s friends to jump in. Thankfully none of them are dumb enough. Phil’s grey eyes look right at them, and he laughs.

The screams are very loud. The bartender is getting pissed. Phil finally lets go. He thinks this is all hilarious. His boys joke with him. Some people are calling 911 for the poor guy. Phil rubs his own bald head, orders more beer, high-fives one of his boys, and laughs as people try to help the crying man out of the room. I look at my rum, and then I get up from the table and head for the door. Phil’s red goatee curves into a smile. I need sleep more than I need alcohol. We all do. I walk back across the street outside, keeping my face away from the frenzied white lights of the ambulance. I grab my bag and head into the motel. Twenty years ago, wrestlers were obligated to send would-be tough guys away in an ambulance, to protect the illusion of the business. That wasn’t the case by the time I started getting challenged; the illusion had already been destroyed. I get a room and head deeper into the building. Atlas comes down the hallway and stops to talk. “Let me get you laid tonight, my man,” he chuckles. “You know me, man. Off to sleep,” I say. I’ve never cheated on Robin. Atlas and his white teeth smile wide. “I know. Get some good sleep, bud. I’ll fuck enough for the both of us.” “Thanks,” I say. He laughs, pats me on the back, and I find my room. The door squeals open, olive paint chips fall off the frame, and I leave the lights off. My bag hits the floor. I leave the phone on the nightstand and hit the bed. Every single spring in the mattress digs in. I should call home. I roll over and turn the phone on. I concentrate on the blue light it gives off. There is only blue in this room right now. I can hear Magnifico stumbling through the hallway outside my door. I set the phone down. The women with him are loud and very drunk. “I’ve got girls,” he announces to me. “No thanks,” I say into the dark. “I got laid in my ring tights,” he slurs. “Atlas has to match that, and I’ll be three fucks up on him tonight.” I look at the phone. Magnifico takes his conquests further down the hallway. I have to perform better tomorrow night. I think I slept last night. Still I want to close my eyes for a few minutes, and locker room chairs are not conducive to relaxing. Everyone is excited, as always. The locker room is always buzzing before show time. We

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and I see a broad shape silhouetted against the neon orange of the building. I put my bag back into the car, slide the phone into my pocket, and make my way across the road. I know all of the guys will be in here, already drunk. They are all in here. Phil and his boys have monopolized one half of the room, as usual. The rest of the guys are eating or drinking at the stools. Several of the younger guys tell me what a great match I had. They tell me the crowd was a bad one and that no man on the planet could make those people pop. They tell me I was a great heel tonight, that I timed Phil’s comeback perfectly. They say that any other crowd would have loved how I mixed my stiff mat wrestling with his highflying spots; I’m such a perfect bad guy to complement Phil’s super good guy act. Phil is snorting something off his table. Now he is demanding more beer. I thank the boys and excuse myself to a table in the corner. I want rum. I never drink a lot. I’ve never once been drunk on tour, or for a match. Phil and I will be main-eventing again tomorrow night. He will drink up until the show. I should think about how we can structure the match better. I never want to send a crowd home unhappy again. I always like to start the match like a buzzsaw: very fast-paced with lots of impact and strikes. Sting and Ric Flair always used to start their matches that way, and their match at the 1990 Great American Bash is still one of my favorites. I give the face the majority of the offense, and he gets over with the crowd. They get behind him, and I shut his momentum down with a thumb to the eye, a low blow, or some other dirty tactic. Then we play the people like a fiddle; I hit him with big moves until the crowd stops cringing. Then I give him a comeback, and the crowd gets behind him. I shut him down again until they start to expect when he’ll be shut down. Then he gets his big comeback, the face gets fired up, the crowd gets fired up, we trade finishers, he wins. It’s textbook. I must have done something wrong for it not to work. There is a scuffle over by Phil’s side of the bar. People are shouting, fists are swinging. Phil is fighting a drunk. The drunk’s friends are cheering the fight on. Phil takes the man to the floor with an arm lock. He puts pressure on the poor guy’s elbow and shoulder. The guy is crying. He has a broken arm. Phil isn’t letting go, just applies more pressure. Phil’s boys are daring the drunk’s friends to jump in. Thankfully none of them are dumb enough. Phil’s grey eyes look right at them, and he laughs.

The screams are very loud. The bartender is getting pissed. Phil finally lets go. He thinks this is all hilarious. His boys joke with him. Some people are calling 911 for the poor guy. Phil rubs his own bald head, orders more beer, high-fives one of his boys, and laughs as people try to help the crying man out of the room. I look at my rum, and then I get up from the table and head for the door. Phil’s red goatee curves into a smile. I need sleep more than I need alcohol. We all do. I walk back across the street outside, keeping my face away from the frenzied white lights of the ambulance. I grab my bag and head into the motel. Twenty years ago, wrestlers were obligated to send would-be tough guys away in an ambulance, to protect the illusion of the business. That wasn’t the case by the time I started getting challenged; the illusion had already been destroyed. I get a room and head deeper into the building. Atlas comes down the hallway and stops to talk. “Let me get you laid tonight, my man,” he chuckles. “You know me, man. Off to sleep,” I say. I’ve never cheated on Robin. Atlas and his white teeth smile wide. “I know. Get some good sleep, bud. I’ll fuck enough for the both of us.” “Thanks,” I say. He laughs, pats me on the back, and I find my room. The door squeals open, olive paint chips fall off the frame, and I leave the lights off. My bag hits the floor. I leave the phone on the nightstand and hit the bed. Every single spring in the mattress digs in. I should call home. I roll over and turn the phone on. I concentrate on the blue light it gives off. There is only blue in this room right now. I can hear Magnifico stumbling through the hallway outside my door. I set the phone down. The women with him are loud and very drunk. “I’ve got girls,” he announces to me. “No thanks,” I say into the dark. “I got laid in my ring tights,” he slurs. “Atlas has to match that, and I’ll be three fucks up on him tonight.” I look at the phone. Magnifico takes his conquests further down the hallway. I have to perform better tomorrow night. I think I slept last night. Still I want to close my eyes for a few minutes, and locker room chairs are not conducive to relaxing. Everyone is excited, as always. The locker room is always buzzing before show time. We

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seem to have drawn a sizable crowd tonight. My share of the gate will be good. I can buy Robin something nice with it. Atlas and Magnifico are comparing the blowjobs they got last night. I force my kneepads on, then my tights over top of those. I slip last night’s socks on, then the boots, one at a time. Someone from Phil’s little club just pissed on a rookie’s wrestling gear. He calls it initiation. When I bladed for the first time, some of the veterans made me go to a liquor store and buy them beer while I was still covered in blood. That was mine. They would have never pissed on anyone’s ring gear. The rookie’s entire gym bag is an orange puddle. I lace up my boots. The white strings are grey now, but when they were new they stood out against the black like pearls. My elbow pads always slide on easily. I tape up my wrists for support and make sure a blade is secure within the wrapping. Phil exits the promoter’s office with a cigarette hanging from his lips. At least he is in his gear and looking like a wrestler now. In normal clothes, he looks like an ordinary bar crawler. He has an average and pale build. He looks me in the eyes, but he can’t for very long. Then he joins his boys in the corner of the room. There is still some time before the show. I look into my bag and spot the phone. Robin must be worried now. I call her whenever I arrive at my next booking and before and after every show. I just look at the phone as it rests in my hands. I should really call her. Maybe I’ll get to talk to him, too. I can wish him a belated happy birthday. I can close my eyes for a few minutes, first. The promoter storms out of his office and wants to call a locker room meeting. We all join him in the ring, before anyone has been let in. He tells us all that he expects a better show tonight. He wants the crowd to react. He wants us to make that happen. He expects us to make that happen. His speech would probably be more stirring if he had ever been a performer himself. He’s done talking and everyone files back into the locker room. One of Phil’s boys comes in behind all of us. He just pissed on a rookie’s car door handle. Phil almost drops his cigarette laughing. Magnifico likes handjobs better. I set the phone back into my bag and zip the bag tightly. The super glue didn’t hold very well. I tried to nick the cut from last

night and I turned on like a faucet. I tried to stop the bleeding with my wrist tape, but the wrappings turned soggy and brown and began to unravel. My hair is stuck to the canvas, and the rest of me feels stuck as well. The lights are very bright in this warehouse. I close my eyes to avoid staring directly into the bulbs. Phil rolls out of the ring and leaves. It doesn’t matter, the crowd isn’t into it at all. Philadelphia fans are the worst. I should have expected this. I try to wipe the blood from my face. The flow is slowing, but not stopping. I just can’t feel how deep the slice is. I’m able to roll out of the ring, leaving puddles behind. I need the guardrails for support. Most of the fans have already left. Only the hecklers are here to see me make my way back to the curtain. They only watch me go. I grab my bag, careful to direct the bleeding onto the concrete floor as opposed to my things. In the bathroom, I need a few moments to get my strength back. Lifting my head is difficult. I try to clean up. At least this mirror is clean, for once. The promoter comes into the room, smelling like smoke. “I’m giving you a break, Nick,” he says. I wipe blood from my eyes and try to look at him in the mirror. I haven’t taken time off in fourteen years. “It’s just that you don’t know what the people want anymore, Nick. And right now they don’t want you,” he says. He places my three hundred bucks for the weekend onto my bag and leaves the room. The sink was very white a few moments ago. This is not a break. I use more glue this time than last night. Hopefully that will hold. I set the glue back into my bag and feel around for the phone. I fumble trying to dial home, push my phone underneath my saturated hair and press it to my ear. There is ringing, and I wait for it to stop. I look at the mirror. I didn’t do a very good job cleaning up. My face is still caked in red. My pupils are enlarged, and even my teeth are stained with blood. It doesn’t stop. I redial and try to splash my face between the rings. The connection is fine. I call again, and I make sure the number is right. The sink faucet is leaking slowly. I can still smell the smoke. The ringing doesn’t stop until I hang up. I set the phone in my bag and close my eyes for a few moments. I peel the soggy wrist wrappings off and throw them in the garbage. I wash my face a few more times and then I leave. I want another rum. The bartender gives me more. I think I’m supposed

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seem to have drawn a sizable crowd tonight. My share of the gate will be good. I can buy Robin something nice with it. Atlas and Magnifico are comparing the blowjobs they got last night. I force my kneepads on, then my tights over top of those. I slip last night’s socks on, then the boots, one at a time. Someone from Phil’s little club just pissed on a rookie’s wrestling gear. He calls it initiation. When I bladed for the first time, some of the veterans made me go to a liquor store and buy them beer while I was still covered in blood. That was mine. They would have never pissed on anyone’s ring gear. The rookie’s entire gym bag is an orange puddle. I lace up my boots. The white strings are grey now, but when they were new they stood out against the black like pearls. My elbow pads always slide on easily. I tape up my wrists for support and make sure a blade is secure within the wrapping. Phil exits the promoter’s office with a cigarette hanging from his lips. At least he is in his gear and looking like a wrestler now. In normal clothes, he looks like an ordinary bar crawler. He has an average and pale build. He looks me in the eyes, but he can’t for very long. Then he joins his boys in the corner of the room. There is still some time before the show. I look into my bag and spot the phone. Robin must be worried now. I call her whenever I arrive at my next booking and before and after every show. I just look at the phone as it rests in my hands. I should really call her. Maybe I’ll get to talk to him, too. I can wish him a belated happy birthday. I can close my eyes for a few minutes, first. The promoter storms out of his office and wants to call a locker room meeting. We all join him in the ring, before anyone has been let in. He tells us all that he expects a better show tonight. He wants the crowd to react. He wants us to make that happen. He expects us to make that happen. His speech would probably be more stirring if he had ever been a performer himself. He’s done talking and everyone files back into the locker room. One of Phil’s boys comes in behind all of us. He just pissed on a rookie’s car door handle. Phil almost drops his cigarette laughing. Magnifico likes handjobs better. I set the phone back into my bag and zip the bag tightly. The super glue didn’t hold very well. I tried to nick the cut from last

night and I turned on like a faucet. I tried to stop the bleeding with my wrist tape, but the wrappings turned soggy and brown and began to unravel. My hair is stuck to the canvas, and the rest of me feels stuck as well. The lights are very bright in this warehouse. I close my eyes to avoid staring directly into the bulbs. Phil rolls out of the ring and leaves. It doesn’t matter, the crowd isn’t into it at all. Philadelphia fans are the worst. I should have expected this. I try to wipe the blood from my face. The flow is slowing, but not stopping. I just can’t feel how deep the slice is. I’m able to roll out of the ring, leaving puddles behind. I need the guardrails for support. Most of the fans have already left. Only the hecklers are here to see me make my way back to the curtain. They only watch me go. I grab my bag, careful to direct the bleeding onto the concrete floor as opposed to my things. In the bathroom, I need a few moments to get my strength back. Lifting my head is difficult. I try to clean up. At least this mirror is clean, for once. The promoter comes into the room, smelling like smoke. “I’m giving you a break, Nick,” he says. I wipe blood from my eyes and try to look at him in the mirror. I haven’t taken time off in fourteen years. “It’s just that you don’t know what the people want anymore, Nick. And right now they don’t want you,” he says. He places my three hundred bucks for the weekend onto my bag and leaves the room. The sink was very white a few moments ago. This is not a break. I use more glue this time than last night. Hopefully that will hold. I set the glue back into my bag and feel around for the phone. I fumble trying to dial home, push my phone underneath my saturated hair and press it to my ear. There is ringing, and I wait for it to stop. I look at the mirror. I didn’t do a very good job cleaning up. My face is still caked in red. My pupils are enlarged, and even my teeth are stained with blood. It doesn’t stop. I redial and try to splash my face between the rings. The connection is fine. I call again, and I make sure the number is right. The sink faucet is leaking slowly. I can still smell the smoke. The ringing doesn’t stop until I hang up. I set the phone in my bag and close my eyes for a few moments. I peel the soggy wrist wrappings off and throw them in the garbage. I wash my face a few more times and then I leave. I want another rum. The bartender gives me more. I think I’m supposed

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to have checked out of the motel by now. Scrunching on this stool just makes my back and knees lock even more. The alcohol probably helps. I should shower out my hair before I check out of the motel. Every few drops of sweat that roll down from my hairline are tinted maroon. Someone pushes my shoulder roughly from behind. “You a wrestler?” asks a very greasy man. “Yeah,” I say. “You fuckin’ suck,” he slurs. He’s too drunk to really be forceful about it. I see several of his drunken friends swaying and laughing behind him. “Get out of here,” I say. I’m not sure how long I’ve been sitting at the bar. “I can kick your ass,” the greasy man declares. He is too close to my face. “Fuck off,” I say. I stand up. I try to calculate how much to leave on the bar. His friends laugh. I try to walk around him, but he gets in my way. “Fuck off,” I say. He laughs on me. He pushes me, and I sit back down. “You just pretend to beat people up, cause you can’t actually do anything about anybody,” he laughs. I stand up again. He puts his slimy face into mine. My eyes close for a few moments. I think my phone is back in the room. “I’m gonna beat your ass,” he spits. I push him away. He lands on his ass. He comes up swinging. I catch his arm underneath mine and secure his shoulder with my other hand and bring him to the dark floor. There is no laughing. I put a knee on his head. I break his arm. He is screaming. I’m not letting go.

ROOM

Rachel Howard

i sat in that chair and told myself i would have a room like this someday: overgrown and dark, with three windows facing the pastor’s house and at nights I’ll catch the shadow of an elliptical through the blinds, back and forth like an oiled grasshopper, content I know nothing of religion.

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to have checked out of the motel by now. Scrunching on this stool just makes my back and knees lock even more. The alcohol probably helps. I should shower out my hair before I check out of the motel. Every few drops of sweat that roll down from my hairline are tinted maroon. Someone pushes my shoulder roughly from behind. “You a wrestler?” asks a very greasy man. “Yeah,” I say. “You fuckin’ suck,” he slurs. He’s too drunk to really be forceful about it. I see several of his drunken friends swaying and laughing behind him. “Get out of here,” I say. I’m not sure how long I’ve been sitting at the bar. “I can kick your ass,” the greasy man declares. He is too close to my face. “Fuck off,” I say. I stand up. I try to calculate how much to leave on the bar. His friends laugh. I try to walk around him, but he gets in my way. “Fuck off,” I say. He laughs on me. He pushes me, and I sit back down. “You just pretend to beat people up, cause you can’t actually do anything about anybody,” he laughs. I stand up again. He puts his slimy face into mine. My eyes close for a few moments. I think my phone is back in the room. “I’m gonna beat your ass,” he spits. I push him away. He lands on his ass. He comes up swinging. I catch his arm underneath mine and secure his shoulder with my other hand and bring him to the dark floor. There is no laughing. I put a knee on his head. I break his arm. He is screaming. I’m not letting go.

ROOM

Rachel Howard

i sat in that chair and told myself i would have a room like this someday: overgrown and dark, with three windows facing the pastor’s house and at nights I’ll catch the shadow of an elliptical through the blinds, back and forth like an oiled grasshopper, content I know nothing of religion.

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15


MARRIAGE

Veronica Zabczynski

8 . 9 MAGNI T UDE

Veronica Zabczynski

The sink is full of dirty dishes. I’d rather do them

It started as a problem of the land but became a problem of the seas.

than you.

We’re such ignorant people to depend on the earth’s stability. We build castles on grass. There is a price for castles. There is a price for trains. There is a price for concrete empires when the world begs to breathe.

WISHING WELL I wish to be with you: all days, all ways. I wish to shrink my bones, organs, pink skin and thoughts. I’ll slip onto your shirt’s thin sleeve. I’ll bury into the hole, which once belonged to a button but now will be longing me. I will love you without a leave. I wish you would allow me.

Veronica Zabczynski

Hundreds are reported missing. I am hundreds. Will I be missing or missed? My ship went down before I had a chance to prepare for my salted air. The dirt and water did a quick mix and the people did a steady drown. I watched my body sink down as I felt the weight stomp faithfully on my chest. I wish I had lived in the West. A damp beast ate the East. The power is out. The earth is fed. The West goes on. The East is dead.

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17


MARRIAGE

Veronica Zabczynski

8 . 9 MAGNI T UDE

Veronica Zabczynski

The sink is full of dirty dishes. I’d rather do them

It started as a problem of the land but became a problem of the seas.

than you.

We’re such ignorant people to depend on the earth’s stability. We build castles on grass. There is a price for castles. There is a price for trains. There is a price for concrete empires when the world begs to breathe.

WISHING WELL I wish to be with you: all days, all ways. I wish to shrink my bones, organs, pink skin and thoughts. I’ll slip onto your shirt’s thin sleeve. I’ll bury into the hole, which once belonged to a button but now will be longing me. I will love you without a leave. I wish you would allow me.

Veronica Zabczynski

Hundreds are reported missing. I am hundreds. Will I be missing or missed? My ship went down before I had a chance to prepare for my salted air. The dirt and water did a quick mix and the people did a steady drown. I watched my body sink down as I felt the weight stomp faithfully on my chest. I wish I had lived in the West. A damp beast ate the East. The power is out. The earth is fed. The West goes on. The East is dead.

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17


SUNSHINE-FLOWERS CARLOS AND HAPPINESS

RIOS

“I

WODAABE W OMEN

Leah Romero

’m all sunflowers and happiness,” Emilie muttered with more breath than voice, as she stared despondently at herself in the foggy bathroom mirror. Her heavy eyeliner challenged her light grey eyes, and sparsely scattered freckles barely interrupted the otherwise unremitting smoothness of her naturally pale face. The arguing downstairs reached a crescendo and, even muffled by a wooden door, the shouting made Emilie’s stomach tighten. She closed her eyes, focusing on the sound of steaming hot water avalanching from the faucet. She grabbed the loose razor sitting at the edge of the sink, ran it under the water for as long as her fingers could stand the heat. Rolled up her sleeve. Light scars and fresh cuts patterned her left forearm from her wrist to her elbow. She rotated her arm in search of fresh real estate. Too crowded. She pushed up her sleeve further, all the way to her shoulder. Her bicep was fresh fallen snow. She dragged the blade a short distance across her arm, leaving a shallow, bloodless trail. The stinging pain persisted as long as the blade was

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19


SUNSHINE-FLOWERS CARLOS AND HAPPINESS

RIOS

“I

WODAABE W OMEN

Leah Romero

’m all sunflowers and happiness,” Emilie muttered with more breath than voice, as she stared despondently at herself in the foggy bathroom mirror. Her heavy eyeliner challenged her light grey eyes, and sparsely scattered freckles barely interrupted the otherwise unremitting smoothness of her naturally pale face. The arguing downstairs reached a crescendo and, even muffled by a wooden door, the shouting made Emilie’s stomach tighten. She closed her eyes, focusing on the sound of steaming hot water avalanching from the faucet. She grabbed the loose razor sitting at the edge of the sink, ran it under the water for as long as her fingers could stand the heat. Rolled up her sleeve. Light scars and fresh cuts patterned her left forearm from her wrist to her elbow. She rotated her arm in search of fresh real estate. Too crowded. She pushed up her sleeve further, all the way to her shoulder. Her bicep was fresh fallen snow. She dragged the blade a short distance across her arm, leaving a shallow, bloodless trail. The stinging pain persisted as long as the blade was

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19


moving, so she made sure to cut slowly. It gave her a feeling that she once described as similar to stretching: it hurt, but at the same time, she felt a warmth coursing through her body that could hardly be matched. It was pouring dark, heavy rain the next night. In the card shop, Emilie sat opposite a fat, sweaty 16-year-old boy. She watched thick droplets break puddles outside as the boy flicked rapidly between the five cards in his hand. Trading cards sat on the table before them. The two were doing battle. Each one of the boy’s cards was dressed up in a protective plastic sleeve. Emilie held up three cards before her, scrutinizing them. “Go,” she sighed eventually. The boy drew a card, then dropped it onto the table. Emilie frowned. “Shit.” “What can I say? Grave Titans win games,” the boy replied. “Where do people get the money?” she thought aloud in her dispirited monotone. “I babysit. Well . . . I don’t babysit. My sister does. I just steal her money. Do you have a sister?” “Yeah,” Emilie replied. “She’s seven.” “Ah, too bad.” He pushed his card up and turned it sideways. “Attack for ten.” Around them were several other tables at which sat other players, battling each other. Emilie drew her card, barely glanced at it, then pointed at the boy. The boy drew a card. Stared at Emilie. “Your freckles look like they can’t decide whether they want to be there or not,” he observed. “Sounds kinda like the rest of me.” The boy pushed his cards up. “Fourteen damage to your face.” Emilie nodded sadly. The boy collected his cards, stood up and walked away. “Two-oh!” Emilie heard him yell to the scorekeeper. Brigid walked over, carrying her bookbag full of cards. “That looked like it hurt.” She ran her fingers through her boyishly short blond hair and scratched her scalp. “I’m tired of my shitty deck,” Emilie complained. “Good cards are so stupidly expensive.” “Get a boyfriend,” Brigid reasoned. “Dave buys me most of my cards. He thinks it’s nice that me and him share a hobby.” “I’m off boyfriends for a while.” Emilie collected her cards.

“Don’t let Paul ruin boys for you forever. Sixteen is the perfect year to start getting dick on the regular, and dick is great. It’s probs what you need right now, actually.” “What I need is money to buy good cards.” Emilie stood up languidly, put her hood over her head. “And soundproof walls so I don’t have to listen to my dad complain about the electric bill.” She put her deck of cards in her hoodie pocket. “Alright, time to GTFO.” Brigid lingered. “I’m actually going to stay for a bit and look through people’s trade binders. You’re still coming over tomorrow, though, right?” “Sure,” Emilie said, pulling a pack of cigarettes from her jeans pocket. On the way home, the rain stopped, and Emilie cut through a wooded area she loved to visit. The dead silence, save for a few sounds of nature, gave her no way to block out her stresses, her concerns. This made her smoke more cigarettes, which is why she liked coming here so much. The toxic burn, the taste of ash, and the flood of menthol she got in the last third of each cigarette combined to form a cerebral haze, an enveloping warmth, which was the only thing that satisfied her body more than cutting. In the moonlight, she walked along the sloped bank beside a shallow creek. She took one last, long drag from her dying cigarette, then dropped it onto the moist ground, watching it roll down into the creek a few feet down. As she pulled out her pack for one more, the box fell out of her hands and followed the path of the discarded butt. “No!” Emilie gasped. She looked down the slope, trying to identify a stable route to the water’s edge. She took one step, then slipped and fell onto her back, sliding down and coming perilously close to getting her feet wet. She stood back up, disregarding her muddy clothes, and bent over to look into the creek. As she did, the deck of cards spilled out from her hoodie pocket and into the water. “Fucker!” she yelled. “Godammit!” The cards floated on the surface. She started fishing out the ones closest to the bank, then decided the cigarettes might have a better chance of survival. She plunged her hand into the half-foot deep abyss, feeling around desperately for a stick she could use to reach out to the floating box and pull it back in. The frigid water numbed her hand until she could no longer feel the silt suspended in the creek. She used her other hand to take out her phone, using the backlight to illuminate as much as possible. As she shone light over the water, a glint at the bottom of the creek caught her eye. She pulled out the

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21


moving, so she made sure to cut slowly. It gave her a feeling that she once described as similar to stretching: it hurt, but at the same time, she felt a warmth coursing through her body that could hardly be matched. It was pouring dark, heavy rain the next night. In the card shop, Emilie sat opposite a fat, sweaty 16-year-old boy. She watched thick droplets break puddles outside as the boy flicked rapidly between the five cards in his hand. Trading cards sat on the table before them. The two were doing battle. Each one of the boy’s cards was dressed up in a protective plastic sleeve. Emilie held up three cards before her, scrutinizing them. “Go,” she sighed eventually. The boy drew a card, then dropped it onto the table. Emilie frowned. “Shit.” “What can I say? Grave Titans win games,” the boy replied. “Where do people get the money?” she thought aloud in her dispirited monotone. “I babysit. Well . . . I don’t babysit. My sister does. I just steal her money. Do you have a sister?” “Yeah,” Emilie replied. “She’s seven.” “Ah, too bad.” He pushed his card up and turned it sideways. “Attack for ten.” Around them were several other tables at which sat other players, battling each other. Emilie drew her card, barely glanced at it, then pointed at the boy. The boy drew a card. Stared at Emilie. “Your freckles look like they can’t decide whether they want to be there or not,” he observed. “Sounds kinda like the rest of me.” The boy pushed his cards up. “Fourteen damage to your face.” Emilie nodded sadly. The boy collected his cards, stood up and walked away. “Two-oh!” Emilie heard him yell to the scorekeeper. Brigid walked over, carrying her bookbag full of cards. “That looked like it hurt.” She ran her fingers through her boyishly short blond hair and scratched her scalp. “I’m tired of my shitty deck,” Emilie complained. “Good cards are so stupidly expensive.” “Get a boyfriend,” Brigid reasoned. “Dave buys me most of my cards. He thinks it’s nice that me and him share a hobby.” “I’m off boyfriends for a while.” Emilie collected her cards.

“Don’t let Paul ruin boys for you forever. Sixteen is the perfect year to start getting dick on the regular, and dick is great. It’s probs what you need right now, actually.” “What I need is money to buy good cards.” Emilie stood up languidly, put her hood over her head. “And soundproof walls so I don’t have to listen to my dad complain about the electric bill.” She put her deck of cards in her hoodie pocket. “Alright, time to GTFO.” Brigid lingered. “I’m actually going to stay for a bit and look through people’s trade binders. You’re still coming over tomorrow, though, right?” “Sure,” Emilie said, pulling a pack of cigarettes from her jeans pocket. On the way home, the rain stopped, and Emilie cut through a wooded area she loved to visit. The dead silence, save for a few sounds of nature, gave her no way to block out her stresses, her concerns. This made her smoke more cigarettes, which is why she liked coming here so much. The toxic burn, the taste of ash, and the flood of menthol she got in the last third of each cigarette combined to form a cerebral haze, an enveloping warmth, which was the only thing that satisfied her body more than cutting. In the moonlight, she walked along the sloped bank beside a shallow creek. She took one last, long drag from her dying cigarette, then dropped it onto the moist ground, watching it roll down into the creek a few feet down. As she pulled out her pack for one more, the box fell out of her hands and followed the path of the discarded butt. “No!” Emilie gasped. She looked down the slope, trying to identify a stable route to the water’s edge. She took one step, then slipped and fell onto her back, sliding down and coming perilously close to getting her feet wet. She stood back up, disregarding her muddy clothes, and bent over to look into the creek. As she did, the deck of cards spilled out from her hoodie pocket and into the water. “Fucker!” she yelled. “Godammit!” The cards floated on the surface. She started fishing out the ones closest to the bank, then decided the cigarettes might have a better chance of survival. She plunged her hand into the half-foot deep abyss, feeling around desperately for a stick she could use to reach out to the floating box and pull it back in. The frigid water numbed her hand until she could no longer feel the silt suspended in the creek. She used her other hand to take out her phone, using the backlight to illuminate as much as possible. As she shone light over the water, a glint at the bottom of the creek caught her eye. She pulled out the

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21


shiny object. It was round, about the diameter of a dime, and three times as thick. It was a small nugget of gold. She carefully unwrapped the tissue, exposing the nugget inside, and placed it on the countertop. Sid, the proprietor of the cramped pawnshop, looked at it for a few seconds. He grabbed a scale, placed the gold onto it without the tissue. It read six grams. “I’ll give you one-twenty,” he said, after a few moments’ consideration. Emilie was appalled, although her facial expression didn’t stray from its default look of melancholy boredom. “This is at least forty-five per gram. I checked online last night.” “Yeah, but I’m not no prospector or nothing,” Sid said. “Look, I’ll give you one-eighty.” “No way, this is worth two-seventy. At least.” “I can’t go past two.” “I could just sell this on eBay for way more.” “I guess you could.” Emilie stared at the gold nugget. The allure of the cash-right-now was doing a number on her. She sighed. “What about two-fifty?” “I told you, can’t go past two hundred,” Sid repeated. He studied Emilie’s perpetually defeated face. “Look, I’ll give you two hundred cash and then anything in here worth twenty or less. How about that?” Emilie looked around at the overcrowded shelves full of dust-covered items she couldn’t imagine herself ever needing. “You got any cigarettes?” she asked eventually. “Well . . . I just bought myself a carton of Crushes,” Sid admitted. “That’s what I smoke. Give me three packs, then.” Sid thought this over, then nodded once and went into the back. As Emilie stepped out of Sid’s Pawn Shop, she counted her money one more time and put it in her pocket. Then, climbing onto her bike with a cigarette between her lips, she pedaled to Brigid’s house. “When the fuck does that ever happen?” Brigid yelled in excited disbelief, after Emilie told her about finding the gold nugget in the creek. The two were sitting on the floor of a tree house built only five feet off the ground, in Brigid’s backyard, smoking. Between the two teenage girls, there

was hardly any space, yet they both were comfortable there. “So what are you doing with that money?” “What do you think?” Emilie said, using the end of a butt to light the next cigarette. “A carton. And the rest is buying me a couple cards.” “Sick,” said Brigid, before taking a casual pull from her cigarette. She exhaled through her nose. “If I had two hundred, I’d buy an eighth from Caleb and get snakebites.” She used both hands to pinch the spots on her lower lip where the piercings would go. “I wanted those. But my mom got mad at my dad for being okay with it. Once I move out, though . . . ” “What kind of deck are you building?” “I dunno. Probably Solar Flare,” Emilie mused. “But the one-forty I have left would probably only buy me the four copies of Snapcaster Mage.” She took a long, sustained drag, eyes closed, then let out a thick miasma with a moany sigh. “Just seventy-one more cards after that,” she added with a dark sarcasm. “Shit,” Brigid responded. “You need more gold.” When Emilie walked into her house later that night, her mother was setting plastic dishes on the table, and her little sister Lacey was in her pajamas playing Mario Kart on their Nintendo Wii—a gift from an uncle who had forgotten a few birthdays in a row. Emilie’s mother looked up at her. “Did you have fun at Brigid’s?” “Yeah,” Emilie said, more an exhalation than a word. “You okay?” “Umm. Tired. I guess.” Emilie sank down into the stained beige sofa to watch Lacey’s race, which she was currently winning by a wide margin. She propped her feet up on the coffee table and stared absently at the television. Then Emilie’s father walked in, back from work, pulling Emilie’s attention away. He wore a cheap grey suit and carried a decrepit leather bag that was begging for retirement. He gave the two a quick “Hey, girls” and a flicker of a half-smile, then strode into the kitchen, tossing his bag on the table and loosening his tie on the way. Emilie’s mother eyed him bitterly as he walked past her. Emilie’s whole body tensed, expecting a shouting match any minute. She heard her father opening up a bag of cereal. The flakes tinked loudly into

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shiny object. It was round, about the diameter of a dime, and three times as thick. It was a small nugget of gold. She carefully unwrapped the tissue, exposing the nugget inside, and placed it on the countertop. Sid, the proprietor of the cramped pawnshop, looked at it for a few seconds. He grabbed a scale, placed the gold onto it without the tissue. It read six grams. “I’ll give you one-twenty,” he said, after a few moments’ consideration. Emilie was appalled, although her facial expression didn’t stray from its default look of melancholy boredom. “This is at least forty-five per gram. I checked online last night.” “Yeah, but I’m not no prospector or nothing,” Sid said. “Look, I’ll give you one-eighty.” “No way, this is worth two-seventy. At least.” “I can’t go past two.” “I could just sell this on eBay for way more.” “I guess you could.” Emilie stared at the gold nugget. The allure of the cash-right-now was doing a number on her. She sighed. “What about two-fifty?” “I told you, can’t go past two hundred,” Sid repeated. He studied Emilie’s perpetually defeated face. “Look, I’ll give you two hundred cash and then anything in here worth twenty or less. How about that?” Emilie looked around at the overcrowded shelves full of dust-covered items she couldn’t imagine herself ever needing. “You got any cigarettes?” she asked eventually. “Well . . . I just bought myself a carton of Crushes,” Sid admitted. “That’s what I smoke. Give me three packs, then.” Sid thought this over, then nodded once and went into the back. As Emilie stepped out of Sid’s Pawn Shop, she counted her money one more time and put it in her pocket. Then, climbing onto her bike with a cigarette between her lips, she pedaled to Brigid’s house. “When the fuck does that ever happen?” Brigid yelled in excited disbelief, after Emilie told her about finding the gold nugget in the creek. The two were sitting on the floor of a tree house built only five feet off the ground, in Brigid’s backyard, smoking. Between the two teenage girls, there

was hardly any space, yet they both were comfortable there. “So what are you doing with that money?” “What do you think?” Emilie said, using the end of a butt to light the next cigarette. “A carton. And the rest is buying me a couple cards.” “Sick,” said Brigid, before taking a casual pull from her cigarette. She exhaled through her nose. “If I had two hundred, I’d buy an eighth from Caleb and get snakebites.” She used both hands to pinch the spots on her lower lip where the piercings would go. “I wanted those. But my mom got mad at my dad for being okay with it. Once I move out, though . . . ” “What kind of deck are you building?” “I dunno. Probably Solar Flare,” Emilie mused. “But the one-forty I have left would probably only buy me the four copies of Snapcaster Mage.” She took a long, sustained drag, eyes closed, then let out a thick miasma with a moany sigh. “Just seventy-one more cards after that,” she added with a dark sarcasm. “Shit,” Brigid responded. “You need more gold.” When Emilie walked into her house later that night, her mother was setting plastic dishes on the table, and her little sister Lacey was in her pajamas playing Mario Kart on their Nintendo Wii—a gift from an uncle who had forgotten a few birthdays in a row. Emilie’s mother looked up at her. “Did you have fun at Brigid’s?” “Yeah,” Emilie said, more an exhalation than a word. “You okay?” “Umm. Tired. I guess.” Emilie sank down into the stained beige sofa to watch Lacey’s race, which she was currently winning by a wide margin. She propped her feet up on the coffee table and stared absently at the television. Then Emilie’s father walked in, back from work, pulling Emilie’s attention away. He wore a cheap grey suit and carried a decrepit leather bag that was begging for retirement. He gave the two a quick “Hey, girls” and a flicker of a half-smile, then strode into the kitchen, tossing his bag on the table and loosening his tie on the way. Emilie’s mother eyed him bitterly as he walked past her. Emilie’s whole body tensed, expecting a shouting match any minute. She heard her father opening up a bag of cereal. The flakes tinked loudly into

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a ceramic bowl, the plastic bag crinkled like static as it was stuffed back into the box, and the glass bottles on the refrigerator door clinked against each other as her father opened it up. “Dammit, Gina!” he shouted from the kitchen. “I thought you were going out to buy more milk. If I knew you were going to piss around and forget about it, I would have stopped at Genuardi’s on the way back. Christ’s sake!” “I didn’t forget, Richard, you just didn’t leave any money for me to buy it,” Emilie’s mother snapped back. Emilie’s father stepped out of the kitchen and looked incredulously at her mother. “What the hell happened to the money I left you on Tuesday?” Lacey was watching their parents argue too. On the TV, Yoshi was accelerating his vehicle into a wall. Emilie stood up. “You’re gonna lose,” she told Lacey, who turned back to the TV. Emilie raised the volume on the outdated, boxy television, an attempt to drown out the argument, then went upstairs to the bathroom as the crash of a bowl thrown into the sink reverberated through the house. She turned on the faucet and stood at the sink. Closed her eyes. When she opened the medicine cabinet, her razor was not there. She rifled past expired prescriptions and travel-size generic mouthwash, looked through the cabinet under the leaky sink, even peered behind the toilet. Desperately, she went into her pocket, pulling out nothing but her train pass. She thought about it for a moment, then rolled up her left sleeve and sawed slowly into her skin with the thin plastic pass, the movements of a somber fiddler playing legato. The next morning, back by the creek in the woods, Emilie pulled orgastically on her cigarette. This amount of smoke made her as happy as she was capable of being. Her hair, still wet from her scalding, foggy morning shower, clung arbitrarily to her face, but she let it obscure her. With her free hand, she reached into her jeans pocket and pulled out four cards, all copies of the same one. She studied them, thinking of all the ways she could play them. Reaching awkwardly into her right pocket with her left hand, she fished out two crumpled bills. Eleven dollars. There were a few coins among them. She tossed the change into the creek, then stuffed the bills back into her pocket, finished the cigarette and flicked the butt into the creek, following it with her eyes. As it landed, she noticed a speck of gold in the water. She bent down

to examine it, then reached her hand in to get it out. Her fingers slipped as she pulled, not expecting it to be so smooth. She pulled harder and kept at it until the rest of it emerged from the creek bed. It was another gold nugget, roughly the diameter of a half-dollar, although not exactly spherical in shape. The water had worn down its jagged edges, making it look like a melted wax figure. Emilie stared at it blankly. Emilie opened the front door silently and poked her head in. Lacey was in front of the TV. “Is Mom home?” Emilie whisper-shouted. Lacey, not looking away from the TV for a second, shook her head no. Cautiously, Emilie stepped inside, carrying several plastic bags full of cigarette cartons. After they were safely stowed under her bed, she went back downstairs and pulled a large pile of cards out of her bookbag, then began the task of deciding which ones would go into her deck. A few hours passed. Her mother arrived home from the bank, her father from work, and her mother stormed out again. When the deck was finally made, there were dozens of loose cards scattered all over the coffee table. Emilie dug through her bag for a pack of protective sleeves, then started slipping her cards into them one by one as she watched Lacey play Lego Harry Potter on the Wii. Suddenly, the lights went out. The TV cut off. “Nooo! I didn’t save!” Lacey lamented. Emilie’s father came downstairs wearing a worn robe and shabby slippers. Stood on the last stair, looked around. “Shit,” he said. He looked at Emilie. “Your fucking mother skipped the electric bill instead of the cable bill. What kind of sense does that make? Why do I even let her handle these things when I’m the one making the money here?” Emilie said nothing. “Godammit.” He marched back up. A door slammed. Emilie and Brigid sat Indian style in Brigid’s tree house. They passed a joint back and forth. On the floor beside them sat a plastic sandwich bag holding three more pre-rolled joints, and a half-empty bottle of green-apple vodka. They were partway to shit-faced. Emilie took the joint. “Tomorrow’s another tournament, and I’m all sunflowers and happiness,” she said, not disingenuously, but still without a smile and in her low, sad monotone. She took a long drag, accustomed to smoking cigarettes, and started coughing

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a ceramic bowl, the plastic bag crinkled like static as it was stuffed back into the box, and the glass bottles on the refrigerator door clinked against each other as her father opened it up. “Dammit, Gina!” he shouted from the kitchen. “I thought you were going out to buy more milk. If I knew you were going to piss around and forget about it, I would have stopped at Genuardi’s on the way back. Christ’s sake!” “I didn’t forget, Richard, you just didn’t leave any money for me to buy it,” Emilie’s mother snapped back. Emilie’s father stepped out of the kitchen and looked incredulously at her mother. “What the hell happened to the money I left you on Tuesday?” Lacey was watching their parents argue too. On the TV, Yoshi was accelerating his vehicle into a wall. Emilie stood up. “You’re gonna lose,” she told Lacey, who turned back to the TV. Emilie raised the volume on the outdated, boxy television, an attempt to drown out the argument, then went upstairs to the bathroom as the crash of a bowl thrown into the sink reverberated through the house. She turned on the faucet and stood at the sink. Closed her eyes. When she opened the medicine cabinet, her razor was not there. She rifled past expired prescriptions and travel-size generic mouthwash, looked through the cabinet under the leaky sink, even peered behind the toilet. Desperately, she went into her pocket, pulling out nothing but her train pass. She thought about it for a moment, then rolled up her left sleeve and sawed slowly into her skin with the thin plastic pass, the movements of a somber fiddler playing legato. The next morning, back by the creek in the woods, Emilie pulled orgastically on her cigarette. This amount of smoke made her as happy as she was capable of being. Her hair, still wet from her scalding, foggy morning shower, clung arbitrarily to her face, but she let it obscure her. With her free hand, she reached into her jeans pocket and pulled out four cards, all copies of the same one. She studied them, thinking of all the ways she could play them. Reaching awkwardly into her right pocket with her left hand, she fished out two crumpled bills. Eleven dollars. There were a few coins among them. She tossed the change into the creek, then stuffed the bills back into her pocket, finished the cigarette and flicked the butt into the creek, following it with her eyes. As it landed, she noticed a speck of gold in the water. She bent down

to examine it, then reached her hand in to get it out. Her fingers slipped as she pulled, not expecting it to be so smooth. She pulled harder and kept at it until the rest of it emerged from the creek bed. It was another gold nugget, roughly the diameter of a half-dollar, although not exactly spherical in shape. The water had worn down its jagged edges, making it look like a melted wax figure. Emilie stared at it blankly. Emilie opened the front door silently and poked her head in. Lacey was in front of the TV. “Is Mom home?” Emilie whisper-shouted. Lacey, not looking away from the TV for a second, shook her head no. Cautiously, Emilie stepped inside, carrying several plastic bags full of cigarette cartons. After they were safely stowed under her bed, she went back downstairs and pulled a large pile of cards out of her bookbag, then began the task of deciding which ones would go into her deck. A few hours passed. Her mother arrived home from the bank, her father from work, and her mother stormed out again. When the deck was finally made, there were dozens of loose cards scattered all over the coffee table. Emilie dug through her bag for a pack of protective sleeves, then started slipping her cards into them one by one as she watched Lacey play Lego Harry Potter on the Wii. Suddenly, the lights went out. The TV cut off. “Nooo! I didn’t save!” Lacey lamented. Emilie’s father came downstairs wearing a worn robe and shabby slippers. Stood on the last stair, looked around. “Shit,” he said. He looked at Emilie. “Your fucking mother skipped the electric bill instead of the cable bill. What kind of sense does that make? Why do I even let her handle these things when I’m the one making the money here?” Emilie said nothing. “Godammit.” He marched back up. A door slammed. Emilie and Brigid sat Indian style in Brigid’s tree house. They passed a joint back and forth. On the floor beside them sat a plastic sandwich bag holding three more pre-rolled joints, and a half-empty bottle of green-apple vodka. They were partway to shit-faced. Emilie took the joint. “Tomorrow’s another tournament, and I’m all sunflowers and happiness,” she said, not disingenuously, but still without a smile and in her low, sad monotone. She took a long drag, accustomed to smoking cigarettes, and started coughing

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furiously. She settled down with the help of one big wheeze and a swig of vodka. “I’ve got a good deck,” she continued. “Fuck those nerds.” “Look at you!” sang Brigid. “All sunshine-flowers and happiness.” “Sunshine flowers?” asked Emilie. “I wonder what those would look like.” “Just light. Don’t think too much about it. It’s obvious. Just light, emanating from a stem made of . . . gold, probably.” “Gold is alright.” Emilie unzipped her hoodie and took it off. Brigid stared at the fresh cuts on her friend’s upper arm. “So, what are the 'rents arguing about these days?” she slurred. “I guess money shit. The stresses of being poor or something. My mom should get a job.” “Word. I wish I had a job. The lens on my Nikon broke.” “I’ll get rich playing Magic and I’ll buy you one.” She handed Brigid the joint with a look that said she was done with it. Then she pulled out a pack of cigarettes and started smacking it against her palm. “I want a job, too,” she continued somewhat slowly, as the alcohol in her blood kicked in. “I could be doing that instead of watching my parents fall apart like charcoal after a shitty family barbeque.” She lit a cigarette and her eyelids drifted shut as she inhaled the warm smoke. Friday night again. Emilie was back at the card shop. Sitting opposite her was the same fat, sweaty boy from before. He drew a card, dropped it onto the table. “Grave Titan,” he said. “Go ahead.” Emilie drew her card. She placed one on the table. “Kill your guy,” she said. She put another card down. “Then play my own Titan.” The boy was surprised. He looked nervous as he drew his card. He passed the turn without making a play. For a moment, Emilie presaged her victory, and as she glimpsed this, she absentmindedly scrunched her sleeves up and adjusted her sitting position. “Whoa,” the boy let out, when he noticed the scars and cuts on her wrist and forearm. Her expressionless face betrayed embarrassment, and she quickly pulled down the sleeves. “Oh,” the boy said. She drew, then played two cards. “Kill both your zombies and attack for ten.” Her phone began to vibrate and she pressed a button to ignore the call. It was the boy’s turn again, and his aura was bereft of confidence as he

played his card. “Pass turn.” Emilie drew, then let out a short staccato exhalation that might have qualified as a laugh had the noise been made by anyone else. “Kill him,” she said, showing the boy one more card. “Then fourteen to—” Her phone started vibrating again. She answered it impatiently. “What is it, Mom?” “Hey, Em,” her mother began. “I just wanted to let you know that I’m at Aunt Karleigh’s tonight.” “Okay.” “I’m probably going to be there for the rest of the week. Lacey’s with your father for now, but . . . well, I assume you understand what I’m getting at.” “Is this gonna be like two weeks ago?” “No.” Emilie thought about that. “Oh.” She put her hood up. “Okay.” “I just wanted to tell you now myself before your dad can put his spin on it. Like he always does. Do you have any questions, sweetie?” Emilie was focusing on the cards. “I gotta go, Mom.” She hung up and rested her phone on the table. “Fourteen to the face,” she said to the boy, who then scooped up his cards and walked away. Brigid came over, flipping her deck box in her hands. “Did you just go four-oh?” Emily nodded as she put her cards away. “Fuck yeah, you did!” Brigid shouted to the whole little store, although the other players were far too busy with their own games to give even the pretense of a shit. “That’s even better than me,” she continued with a smile. Emilie heard the boy talking to his friends a few tables down. “ . . . all these cuts all over the fucking place. I was afraid she’d kill herself if she lost, so I let her have that one.” She packed up her cards and pocketed them. “Who was on the phone?” Brigid asked. “My mom.” “Oh, yeah? What’s up? She find out about Sunday?” “She’s at my aunt’s,” she replied, zipping up her hoodie. “For the night?” “For the night, or for good.” “Like two weeks ago?” Emilie shook her head, no.

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furiously. She settled down with the help of one big wheeze and a swig of vodka. “I’ve got a good deck,” she continued. “Fuck those nerds.” “Look at you!” sang Brigid. “All sunshine-flowers and happiness.” “Sunshine flowers?” asked Emilie. “I wonder what those would look like.” “Just light. Don’t think too much about it. It’s obvious. Just light, emanating from a stem made of . . . gold, probably.” “Gold is alright.” Emilie unzipped her hoodie and took it off. Brigid stared at the fresh cuts on her friend’s upper arm. “So, what are the 'rents arguing about these days?” she slurred. “I guess money shit. The stresses of being poor or something. My mom should get a job.” “Word. I wish I had a job. The lens on my Nikon broke.” “I’ll get rich playing Magic and I’ll buy you one.” She handed Brigid the joint with a look that said she was done with it. Then she pulled out a pack of cigarettes and started smacking it against her palm. “I want a job, too,” she continued somewhat slowly, as the alcohol in her blood kicked in. “I could be doing that instead of watching my parents fall apart like charcoal after a shitty family barbeque.” She lit a cigarette and her eyelids drifted shut as she inhaled the warm smoke. Friday night again. Emilie was back at the card shop. Sitting opposite her was the same fat, sweaty boy from before. He drew a card, dropped it onto the table. “Grave Titan,” he said. “Go ahead.” Emilie drew her card. She placed one on the table. “Kill your guy,” she said. She put another card down. “Then play my own Titan.” The boy was surprised. He looked nervous as he drew his card. He passed the turn without making a play. For a moment, Emilie presaged her victory, and as she glimpsed this, she absentmindedly scrunched her sleeves up and adjusted her sitting position. “Whoa,” the boy let out, when he noticed the scars and cuts on her wrist and forearm. Her expressionless face betrayed embarrassment, and she quickly pulled down the sleeves. “Oh,” the boy said. She drew, then played two cards. “Kill both your zombies and attack for ten.” Her phone began to vibrate and she pressed a button to ignore the call. It was the boy’s turn again, and his aura was bereft of confidence as he

played his card. “Pass turn.” Emilie drew, then let out a short staccato exhalation that might have qualified as a laugh had the noise been made by anyone else. “Kill him,” she said, showing the boy one more card. “Then fourteen to—” Her phone started vibrating again. She answered it impatiently. “What is it, Mom?” “Hey, Em,” her mother began. “I just wanted to let you know that I’m at Aunt Karleigh’s tonight.” “Okay.” “I’m probably going to be there for the rest of the week. Lacey’s with your father for now, but . . . well, I assume you understand what I’m getting at.” “Is this gonna be like two weeks ago?” “No.” Emilie thought about that. “Oh.” She put her hood up. “Okay.” “I just wanted to tell you now myself before your dad can put his spin on it. Like he always does. Do you have any questions, sweetie?” Emilie was focusing on the cards. “I gotta go, Mom.” She hung up and rested her phone on the table. “Fourteen to the face,” she said to the boy, who then scooped up his cards and walked away. Brigid came over, flipping her deck box in her hands. “Did you just go four-oh?” Emily nodded as she put her cards away. “Fuck yeah, you did!” Brigid shouted to the whole little store, although the other players were far too busy with their own games to give even the pretense of a shit. “That’s even better than me,” she continued with a smile. Emilie heard the boy talking to his friends a few tables down. “ . . . all these cuts all over the fucking place. I was afraid she’d kill herself if she lost, so I let her have that one.” She packed up her cards and pocketed them. “Who was on the phone?” Brigid asked. “My mom.” “Oh, yeah? What’s up? She find out about Sunday?” “She’s at my aunt’s,” she replied, zipping up her hoodie. “For the night?” “For the night, or for good.” “Like two weeks ago?” Emilie shook her head, no.

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Brigid couldn’t come up with a response. Emilie shrugged. “I’m having a smoke.” “Count me in,” said Brigid. The two walked outside into the night. Standing under the awning, they weaved gossamer strands of hazy grey, expanding into thick plumes, absorbing into skin and cloth, hovering, like stubborn geists. They stared at the ground as they smoked. There was nothing to see.

WE I G H T

Andy Hood

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29


Brigid couldn’t come up with a response. Emilie shrugged. “I’m having a smoke.” “Count me in,” said Brigid. The two walked outside into the night. Standing under the awning, they weaved gossamer strands of hazy grey, expanding into thick plumes, absorbing into skin and cloth, hovering, like stubborn geists. They stared at the ground as they smoked. There was nothing to see.

WE I G H T

Andy Hood

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29


THE FEAST OF ABRAHAM

II Angelique Benrahou

I

One thousand beige finger marks Spread peanut butter walls Cucumber-colored tiles Lumbering wooden doors and Scratched metal bullets Coke-bottle windows. A shrill bird’s cry, Feathers rattling against a cage. Not letting me pet its lizard feet. Sheepskin rug, head still attached, Date-tree cabinets, Thin blue-smoke couches. A sanctuary at the back of the room Where I slept upon the floor And sun-warmed hallways With a squatting toilet That I was scared would swallow me up. Lazy city din, old men and old cars burning gas. Children running, their language foreign, Like my tongue in my throat. Power cords like black snakes A cow’s moo in one of the living rooms downstairs. No one would believe me that it was a cow, not a goat, Like the nativity, Sitting in a bed of hay. I played with little butter-cream chicks that day, Pecking at my feet, feathers rising in anger. I ran away from those evil chicks, fluffed with hatred. The honeycomb stairs, the steps so steep and dark. I pushed open the heavy door, heavy like the Burning Gates.

Green tiles go black Whitewalls Gray world spinning. Except for the blood. From the swinging lamb, Dinner. The red pomegranate rivulets, Wetly beating upon the tiles. Secretly I was pleased, For this lamb had been a burden and a beast, Tied up in front of the bathroom, The bleating haunting my American dreams. I was joyful for its death, in the wrong way. Like when I danced on 9/11, For school was cancelled, But I did not know why. III

A picture now hangs in the living room Right above the hand-sewn pillows Threaded designs like gold veins A new sheepskin rug in another room. On the mantelpiece, A framed picture of my uncle, Holding the torn head of a lamb by an ear, Blood dripping down his forearm Thick like chilled-honey. Smiling and using his fingers to Push back the lips of the lamb, To make it grin too, Eyes open like glass buttons, But the light in them is gone.

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THE FEAST OF ABRAHAM

II Angelique Benrahou

I

One thousand beige finger marks Spread peanut butter walls Cucumber-colored tiles Lumbering wooden doors and Scratched metal bullets Coke-bottle windows. A shrill bird’s cry, Feathers rattling against a cage. Not letting me pet its lizard feet. Sheepskin rug, head still attached, Date-tree cabinets, Thin blue-smoke couches. A sanctuary at the back of the room Where I slept upon the floor And sun-warmed hallways With a squatting toilet That I was scared would swallow me up. Lazy city din, old men and old cars burning gas. Children running, their language foreign, Like my tongue in my throat. Power cords like black snakes A cow’s moo in one of the living rooms downstairs. No one would believe me that it was a cow, not a goat, Like the nativity, Sitting in a bed of hay. I played with little butter-cream chicks that day, Pecking at my feet, feathers rising in anger. I ran away from those evil chicks, fluffed with hatred. The honeycomb stairs, the steps so steep and dark. I pushed open the heavy door, heavy like the Burning Gates.

Green tiles go black Whitewalls Gray world spinning. Except for the blood. From the swinging lamb, Dinner. The red pomegranate rivulets, Wetly beating upon the tiles. Secretly I was pleased, For this lamb had been a burden and a beast, Tied up in front of the bathroom, The bleating haunting my American dreams. I was joyful for its death, in the wrong way. Like when I danced on 9/11, For school was cancelled, But I did not know why. III

A picture now hangs in the living room Right above the hand-sewn pillows Threaded designs like gold veins A new sheepskin rug in another room. On the mantelpiece, A framed picture of my uncle, Holding the torn head of a lamb by an ear, Blood dripping down his forearm Thick like chilled-honey. Smiling and using his fingers to Push back the lips of the lamb, To make it grin too, Eyes open like glass buttons, But the light in them is gone.

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THE WOLF

K A I H LY B R O U H A R D

W

EX OTIC C HANNELIN G

Corinne Sandkuhler

e didn’t listen to the radio when the Germans were around. The soldiers did not take kindly to the ideals of de Gaulle or French patriotism. They much preferred our brandy and wines to the possibility that we would find strength to give them trouble. At twelve, though, I did not miss the voices my father craved each night. Instead I spent my time tracing the corridors of our estate, watching the sleek black cars come and go through the sectioned windows on the second floor. Occasionally, if he managed to catch me pressing my face against the glass, my father would dictate to me the makes and models. Most were of French origin— Citroens—but still only ever brought Germans. From their doors came officers and politicians dressed in a variety of colors. Each bound his bicep with a band of red. The “dogs of Deutschland,” my father sometimes called them, when the house was empty and only my older sister Josephine and I were around to hear the thick sounds of foreign words on his tongue. Those days were few and far between.

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33


THE WOLF

K A I H LY B R O U H A R D

W

EX OTIC C HANNELIN G

Corinne Sandkuhler

e didn’t listen to the radio when the Germans were around. The soldiers did not take kindly to the ideals of de Gaulle or French patriotism. They much preferred our brandy and wines to the possibility that we would find strength to give them trouble. At twelve, though, I did not miss the voices my father craved each night. Instead I spent my time tracing the corridors of our estate, watching the sleek black cars come and go through the sectioned windows on the second floor. Occasionally, if he managed to catch me pressing my face against the glass, my father would dictate to me the makes and models. Most were of French origin— Citroens—but still only ever brought Germans. From their doors came officers and politicians dressed in a variety of colors. Each bound his bicep with a band of red. The “dogs of Deutschland,” my father sometimes called them, when the house was empty and only my older sister Josephine and I were around to hear the thick sounds of foreign words on his tongue. Those days were few and far between.

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The Germans liked our home because it had many rooms for their soldiers to reside in and was decorated in the most elegant of fashions. They liked being waited on and catered to. They liked the barrels of Guignolet in our cellar and the intricate molding on the walls. They liked the company of Josephine and my father. “Marzel,” they’d say, clasping my father’s hands when they paraded through our doors, their black winter trenches dusted with February snow. They greeted him as a friend, then as a host, and finally as a subordinate. By the end of the week, when they were called away again, my father had reached his boiling point, shouting “Marcel Duquesne!” to the unresponsive walls. “Marcel! Is it that hard for those beasts to pronounce?” He hated them. I did too—to some extent. When the Germans showed up, the chocolate, cheese and butter disappeared. The servants ran themselves into the ground hunting for good meat and soap to wash the extra bedding. There was a night, toward the end of the month, when they went through nearly our entire supply trying to get blood out of our towels. That was the night they’d brought him in. Sturmbannführer Kasch Reinhart hadn’t shown up in his own polished Citroen or clasped my father’s hand on the way in the door. I spotted the boxy ambulance from my usual window after hearing the rumbling of its engine coming down our drive. I had been so excited for a change of pace that I almost threw myself down the stairs to wait in the front hall. My father and Josephine were quick to appear, neither looking nearly as enthused as I felt. They had their secrets back then and I hadn’t understood, until later, that they dreaded the arrival of the Major. Kasch was dragged through our door by a handful of soldiers, oozing streams of red from somewhere under his fur-collared officer’s jacket. At that moment, I was more fascinated than disgusted with the appearance of the Aryan. He was the kind of man who set our whole château into a frenzy. His presence created an energy in the household and in me. His whiteblond hair contrasted with the black of his jacket. His features were sharp but smoother than those of other Germans I had seen, with similar decorations on their coats. He did not have a wrinkle save the marks from his distressed expression. He observed the world without focus until his eyes landed on me. I was struck by how blue they were, clear like the light from the moon. They paraded him through the hall like a prince, fluttering about

at every little gasp he made. My father shouted orders to the scattering servants and they returned with bowls of water and brand-new bandaging. In all the commotion, I was able to follow the procession up the first flight of stairs and into one of the grander guest rooms. Josephine caught me at the door.
 “If he dies . . . ” she said, her voice soft but commanding. “You’re going to go into the cherry fields and wait there for me.” “What are you going to do?” I felt the pressure of her grip tightening on my shoulder. She said nothing. “What is Father going to do?” “Don’t worry about that now. Go to your room.” I did as I was told, but found the stillness as unbearable as Father found the silence of the radio. Josephine did not come to get me that night, but I dreamt about running through the fields and seeing all the cherries bleed. The streams of red became wax seals on the backs of the unaddressed envelopes Father always sent me into town with. I awoke to the smell of soap still lingering on my pillow. 
 The servants changed Kasch’s bedding and bandages twice a day. Josephine informed me that he had suffered a deep stab wound to his right side and that the Germans did not trust the hands of the local hospitals. Sickness raged in the poor areas of town, and health supplies were low everywhere else. My father, though long past waiting on patients regularly, was the next best thing. Our home, with its wine-filled cellars and high ceilings, was the only house in the area with a surplus of medical equipment. We had more supplies than even the Germans knew, maybe even more than I did. My father spent a fortune on it all. He bought bandages and disinfectants, clothing and ammunition—food, armor, weapons, tires, gasoline, matches and candles. My father hid his supplies in the deep dust-covered crevices of the house. He pried up floorboards and sent secret messages out into the night. Only Josephine’s lips spoke my father’s ideas to his allies, hidden in the back corners of bars. Only I returned from visiting the market with hundreds upon hundreds of francs in my little woven basket. Marcel Duquesne was a local checkpoint for the French Resistance. If Kasch had died, my sister told me long after the war ended, they

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The Germans liked our home because it had many rooms for their soldiers to reside in and was decorated in the most elegant of fashions. They liked being waited on and catered to. They liked the barrels of Guignolet in our cellar and the intricate molding on the walls. They liked the company of Josephine and my father. “Marzel,” they’d say, clasping my father’s hands when they paraded through our doors, their black winter trenches dusted with February snow. They greeted him as a friend, then as a host, and finally as a subordinate. By the end of the week, when they were called away again, my father had reached his boiling point, shouting “Marcel Duquesne!” to the unresponsive walls. “Marcel! Is it that hard for those beasts to pronounce?” He hated them. I did too—to some extent. When the Germans showed up, the chocolate, cheese and butter disappeared. The servants ran themselves into the ground hunting for good meat and soap to wash the extra bedding. There was a night, toward the end of the month, when they went through nearly our entire supply trying to get blood out of our towels. That was the night they’d brought him in. Sturmbannführer Kasch Reinhart hadn’t shown up in his own polished Citroen or clasped my father’s hand on the way in the door. I spotted the boxy ambulance from my usual window after hearing the rumbling of its engine coming down our drive. I had been so excited for a change of pace that I almost threw myself down the stairs to wait in the front hall. My father and Josephine were quick to appear, neither looking nearly as enthused as I felt. They had their secrets back then and I hadn’t understood, until later, that they dreaded the arrival of the Major. Kasch was dragged through our door by a handful of soldiers, oozing streams of red from somewhere under his fur-collared officer’s jacket. At that moment, I was more fascinated than disgusted with the appearance of the Aryan. He was the kind of man who set our whole château into a frenzy. His presence created an energy in the household and in me. His whiteblond hair contrasted with the black of his jacket. His features were sharp but smoother than those of other Germans I had seen, with similar decorations on their coats. He did not have a wrinkle save the marks from his distressed expression. He observed the world without focus until his eyes landed on me. I was struck by how blue they were, clear like the light from the moon. They paraded him through the hall like a prince, fluttering about

at every little gasp he made. My father shouted orders to the scattering servants and they returned with bowls of water and brand-new bandaging. In all the commotion, I was able to follow the procession up the first flight of stairs and into one of the grander guest rooms. Josephine caught me at the door.
 “If he dies . . . ” she said, her voice soft but commanding. “You’re going to go into the cherry fields and wait there for me.” “What are you going to do?” I felt the pressure of her grip tightening on my shoulder. She said nothing. “What is Father going to do?” “Don’t worry about that now. Go to your room.” I did as I was told, but found the stillness as unbearable as Father found the silence of the radio. Josephine did not come to get me that night, but I dreamt about running through the fields and seeing all the cherries bleed. The streams of red became wax seals on the backs of the unaddressed envelopes Father always sent me into town with. I awoke to the smell of soap still lingering on my pillow. 
 The servants changed Kasch’s bedding and bandages twice a day. Josephine informed me that he had suffered a deep stab wound to his right side and that the Germans did not trust the hands of the local hospitals. Sickness raged in the poor areas of town, and health supplies were low everywhere else. My father, though long past waiting on patients regularly, was the next best thing. Our home, with its wine-filled cellars and high ceilings, was the only house in the area with a surplus of medical equipment. We had more supplies than even the Germans knew, maybe even more than I did. My father spent a fortune on it all. He bought bandages and disinfectants, clothing and ammunition—food, armor, weapons, tires, gasoline, matches and candles. My father hid his supplies in the deep dust-covered crevices of the house. He pried up floorboards and sent secret messages out into the night. Only Josephine’s lips spoke my father’s ideas to his allies, hidden in the back corners of bars. Only I returned from visiting the market with hundreds upon hundreds of francs in my little woven basket. Marcel Duquesne was a local checkpoint for the French Resistance. If Kasch had died, my sister told me long after the war ended, they

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would have burnt the house to cinders sooner. They would have destroyed every ounce of evidence that an uprising was coming. We would have run through the cherry fields all the way to Switzerland instead of facing an inquisition. But Kasch lived through that night and the ones that followed, until my father feared he would die of starvation instead. The German officer absolutely refused to eat anything presented to him by the servants. Even my pretty sister, with her honey-colored hair and her charm, was unable to sway him. The fear of being investigated and discovered grew on my father so heavily that he put a halt to his exchanges with other Resistance members for the time. As a last resort, he set a tray in my hands and directed me up to the room that I had been forbidden to visit since the Major’s arrival. “Do not come out until he has eaten, but do not force him.” These were the instructions bestowed on me. I swallowed the growing ball of nerves building in the back of my throat and carried the meal steadily to its destination. Kasch regarded me suspiciously when I appeared in his room. I felt my excitement sink into the depths of my gut. He didn’t want me there. No. He didn’t want anyone there. His piercing gaze told me so. I found myself unable to meet that sharp blue, instead focusing my stare on the folded uniform resting on his bedside chair. When he opened his mouth, I was assaulted by a slew of harsh sounds. They were words maybe, heavy on his tongue and in my mind. He spoke in quick syllables. I didn’t understand him but he continued on, granting only short pauses to wait for responses. I was beginning to feel overwhelmed by the task my father had given me. In my hands, the sound of the china shaking on the silver tray caused him to stop. His empty glare fell from my face to the dishes in my hands and his voice faltered. When he spoke again, it was with words I understood. “Your name, what is it?” “Elodie Duquesne.” “Have you come to kill me?” “I don’t think so.” “Then you are of no use to me. Get out.” I was frozen in place, my father’s words echoing in my head. “I can’t.” He said nothing. I dared to look up, but he was no longer watching me.

Without his cold eyes or his fur-collared jacket, he looked more human than I had remembered. No parade of underlings stood watch to answer his every bark. He looked smaller, younger, more concrete. I imagined the muscle of his chest moving slightly with each heartbeat. Not that it would make him seem like any less of a dog in my father’s eyes. It was then that I was stricken with the fleeting memory of a fairy tale Josephine had once told me. “Are you a wolf ?” I asked. He turned back to me in surprise. “A what?” “A wolf . . . like the story. Is that why you won’t eat? The wolf in the story wanted to eat pigs, but it’s hard to get pig here . . . ” He didn’t seem to understand what I was asking. “There’s three,” I continued. “Pigs. And the wolf comes and he huffs—” “Nein! No. I know the story but it’s English. I’m German. German wolves don’t eat pigs.” “What do they do then?” The tinkering of the china had settled and I felt calm enough to venture closer. I placed the tray on his bedside table, out of the way. Kasch pondered my question for a moment, then relaxed a little and answered. “They hunt.” Josephine was baffled by my obsession with Kasch and even more so by his tolerance of me. Three times a day, I would venture up to his room with a tray in my hands and he would tell me German stories about witches that lived in gingerbread houses. He told me about frog princes and the sad love of a mermaid. “And the wolf rose up from her grandmother’s bed and devoured her and her red riding cape whole!” he exclaimed, almost knocking the tray off his lap. I squealed with laughter, catching the clear plate before it slid to the floor. He helped me set it safely to the side. “That’s terrible! Who saved her?” “No one.” He grinned. “German stories are about morals, not about happy endings. It wasn’t about her living happily ever after, but about the mistake she made that led to her destruction.” “That really is terrible.” “You didn’t think the other ones were terrible.” “Yeah, but those ones didn’t have a big bad wolf !”

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would have burnt the house to cinders sooner. They would have destroyed every ounce of evidence that an uprising was coming. We would have run through the cherry fields all the way to Switzerland instead of facing an inquisition. But Kasch lived through that night and the ones that followed, until my father feared he would die of starvation instead. The German officer absolutely refused to eat anything presented to him by the servants. Even my pretty sister, with her honey-colored hair and her charm, was unable to sway him. The fear of being investigated and discovered grew on my father so heavily that he put a halt to his exchanges with other Resistance members for the time. As a last resort, he set a tray in my hands and directed me up to the room that I had been forbidden to visit since the Major’s arrival. “Do not come out until he has eaten, but do not force him.” These were the instructions bestowed on me. I swallowed the growing ball of nerves building in the back of my throat and carried the meal steadily to its destination. Kasch regarded me suspiciously when I appeared in his room. I felt my excitement sink into the depths of my gut. He didn’t want me there. No. He didn’t want anyone there. His piercing gaze told me so. I found myself unable to meet that sharp blue, instead focusing my stare on the folded uniform resting on his bedside chair. When he opened his mouth, I was assaulted by a slew of harsh sounds. They were words maybe, heavy on his tongue and in my mind. He spoke in quick syllables. I didn’t understand him but he continued on, granting only short pauses to wait for responses. I was beginning to feel overwhelmed by the task my father had given me. In my hands, the sound of the china shaking on the silver tray caused him to stop. His empty glare fell from my face to the dishes in my hands and his voice faltered. When he spoke again, it was with words I understood. “Your name, what is it?” “Elodie Duquesne.” “Have you come to kill me?” “I don’t think so.” “Then you are of no use to me. Get out.” I was frozen in place, my father’s words echoing in my head. “I can’t.” He said nothing. I dared to look up, but he was no longer watching me.

Without his cold eyes or his fur-collared jacket, he looked more human than I had remembered. No parade of underlings stood watch to answer his every bark. He looked smaller, younger, more concrete. I imagined the muscle of his chest moving slightly with each heartbeat. Not that it would make him seem like any less of a dog in my father’s eyes. It was then that I was stricken with the fleeting memory of a fairy tale Josephine had once told me. “Are you a wolf ?” I asked. He turned back to me in surprise. “A what?” “A wolf . . . like the story. Is that why you won’t eat? The wolf in the story wanted to eat pigs, but it’s hard to get pig here . . . ” He didn’t seem to understand what I was asking. “There’s three,” I continued. “Pigs. And the wolf comes and he huffs—” “Nein! No. I know the story but it’s English. I’m German. German wolves don’t eat pigs.” “What do they do then?” The tinkering of the china had settled and I felt calm enough to venture closer. I placed the tray on his bedside table, out of the way. Kasch pondered my question for a moment, then relaxed a little and answered. “They hunt.” Josephine was baffled by my obsession with Kasch and even more so by his tolerance of me. Three times a day, I would venture up to his room with a tray in my hands and he would tell me German stories about witches that lived in gingerbread houses. He told me about frog princes and the sad love of a mermaid. “And the wolf rose up from her grandmother’s bed and devoured her and her red riding cape whole!” he exclaimed, almost knocking the tray off his lap. I squealed with laughter, catching the clear plate before it slid to the floor. He helped me set it safely to the side. “That’s terrible! Who saved her?” “No one.” He grinned. “German stories are about morals, not about happy endings. It wasn’t about her living happily ever after, but about the mistake she made that led to her destruction.” “That really is terrible.” “You didn’t think the other ones were terrible.” “Yeah, but those ones didn’t have a big bad wolf !”

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He hesitated, smile faltering. “Big bad?” I saw something fleeting pass through him, like the chill of a ghost in the night. After a moment, he continued, attempting to renew his smile. “I suppose he’s bad . . . but you can forgive him, right? He wasn’t trying to be mean. He was just doing what he had to in order to survive.” I mirrored his expression, oblivious to the deeper meaning of his words. “I’ll forgive him.” He put his hand on my head gently and ran his fingers over the curls. “Next time, I’ll make him a good wolf, I promise.” When he ran out of tales, he didn’t make me leave and he didn’t stop talking. I learned about his own little sister and the forests of Germany. He told me about his mother’s chocolate cake and a great and wondrous clock tower that told stories with life-size dolls. I listened like my very life depended on it. After each of his stories, I would return downstairs with a million new daydreams and an empty tray. My father was thrilled by this development. Kasch’s improving health meant that my father wouldn’t have to worry about the officer dying in our hands. No longer fearing an investigation or possible punishment from the invaders, he began to network once again. I saw less of Josephine at night and more strange vehicles coming and going down our drive. They were not Citroens. They did not bring Germans. In fact, it had been so long since any Germans had stayed with us that I was beginning to question their absence. Kasch only quirked his eyebrow at me when I asked where they had disappeared to. “They are all fighting,” he offered, after chewing and swallowing the andouillette in his mouth. “There is the war and then there are the rebels. They are making it harder for the troops to get supplies, so the Schutzstaffel must hunt them down and stop the attacks on the cargo deliveries.” “The SS hunts the Resistance?” “Yes.” He spooned some more sausage off the plate in his lap. For the rest of my life, I would remember the cold chill that crept down my spine. “Are you Schutzstaffel?” He froze, features tensing as if he’d been assaulted by a fist rather than by memories I could have never comprehended—would never be able to

imagine, even after hearing the truth. For a long moment he sat there silently. He stared out into nowhere and his breathing slowed until I feared that he had died, just like that—left me in the room alone to face the soldiers that would come for his body and my head. But then he spoke and the trance was broken. I only saw the aching rising and falling of his chest. I wondered to what faraway place he had gone. “The thing I hate most about your rebels,” he said, “is that not a single one knows how to wield a knife.” Kasch fell into another bout of hungerless sulking and silence while I returned to my ritual of delivering and retrieving unmarked envelopes from the Resistance allies in the marketplace. My father made a lot of deliveries when the Germans weren’t around. The French Resistance was gaining power. They were now aiding the British soldiers in moving through the country. There were checkpoints all over France that my father supplied with provisions. When the rebels raided German cargo, they sent their loot to us. I watched the bulky trunks come and go from the window, but all I could worry about was Kasch’s disinterest in his own health. I wondered if I was to blame. My words had seemed to send him back into the self-loathing isolation he’d insisted on when he arrived. Despite my attempts to get him to eat, he often refused. He also refused to look at me. I grew to miss him. It was at dinner one night, in the middle of March, that I found him bare-chested and upright in his bed. The bandages that usually bound his torso pooled around his waist, while he dug at his stitches with bare fingers. There was blood down his side, in the sheets, and on the floor. Still he eagerly pressed his fingers at the wound. I yelled at him in my native language, attacked him with pleads and curses and pity. “Let me go,” he insisted. “Let me just end here. I deserve it. I have done the most wretched things.” His face was pale and slick with sweat. “There is no redemption here. My guilty pleasure of devouring power is now eating me from the inside. Can’t you see?” “And what will we do then?” I screamed at him. “If you die like this, the SS will come and they will find you dead and they will search the house and find all of the things like Father said and they will shoot us in the—”

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He hesitated, smile faltering. “Big bad?” I saw something fleeting pass through him, like the chill of a ghost in the night. After a moment, he continued, attempting to renew his smile. “I suppose he’s bad . . . but you can forgive him, right? He wasn’t trying to be mean. He was just doing what he had to in order to survive.” I mirrored his expression, oblivious to the deeper meaning of his words. “I’ll forgive him.” He put his hand on my head gently and ran his fingers over the curls. “Next time, I’ll make him a good wolf, I promise.” When he ran out of tales, he didn’t make me leave and he didn’t stop talking. I learned about his own little sister and the forests of Germany. He told me about his mother’s chocolate cake and a great and wondrous clock tower that told stories with life-size dolls. I listened like my very life depended on it. After each of his stories, I would return downstairs with a million new daydreams and an empty tray. My father was thrilled by this development. Kasch’s improving health meant that my father wouldn’t have to worry about the officer dying in our hands. No longer fearing an investigation or possible punishment from the invaders, he began to network once again. I saw less of Josephine at night and more strange vehicles coming and going down our drive. They were not Citroens. They did not bring Germans. In fact, it had been so long since any Germans had stayed with us that I was beginning to question their absence. Kasch only quirked his eyebrow at me when I asked where they had disappeared to. “They are all fighting,” he offered, after chewing and swallowing the andouillette in his mouth. “There is the war and then there are the rebels. They are making it harder for the troops to get supplies, so the Schutzstaffel must hunt them down and stop the attacks on the cargo deliveries.” “The SS hunts the Resistance?” “Yes.” He spooned some more sausage off the plate in his lap. For the rest of my life, I would remember the cold chill that crept down my spine. “Are you Schutzstaffel?” He froze, features tensing as if he’d been assaulted by a fist rather than by memories I could have never comprehended—would never be able to

imagine, even after hearing the truth. For a long moment he sat there silently. He stared out into nowhere and his breathing slowed until I feared that he had died, just like that—left me in the room alone to face the soldiers that would come for his body and my head. But then he spoke and the trance was broken. I only saw the aching rising and falling of his chest. I wondered to what faraway place he had gone. “The thing I hate most about your rebels,” he said, “is that not a single one knows how to wield a knife.” Kasch fell into another bout of hungerless sulking and silence while I returned to my ritual of delivering and retrieving unmarked envelopes from the Resistance allies in the marketplace. My father made a lot of deliveries when the Germans weren’t around. The French Resistance was gaining power. They were now aiding the British soldiers in moving through the country. There were checkpoints all over France that my father supplied with provisions. When the rebels raided German cargo, they sent their loot to us. I watched the bulky trunks come and go from the window, but all I could worry about was Kasch’s disinterest in his own health. I wondered if I was to blame. My words had seemed to send him back into the self-loathing isolation he’d insisted on when he arrived. Despite my attempts to get him to eat, he often refused. He also refused to look at me. I grew to miss him. It was at dinner one night, in the middle of March, that I found him bare-chested and upright in his bed. The bandages that usually bound his torso pooled around his waist, while he dug at his stitches with bare fingers. There was blood down his side, in the sheets, and on the floor. Still he eagerly pressed his fingers at the wound. I yelled at him in my native language, attacked him with pleads and curses and pity. “Let me go,” he insisted. “Let me just end here. I deserve it. I have done the most wretched things.” His face was pale and slick with sweat. “There is no redemption here. My guilty pleasure of devouring power is now eating me from the inside. Can’t you see?” “And what will we do then?” I screamed at him. “If you die like this, the SS will come and they will find you dead and they will search the house and find all of the things like Father said and they will shoot us in the—”

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I stopped short when I realized he was no longer fighting me off. Kasch’s eyes were wide, his breathing slow. There was a sound, like the churning of gravel from a car outside. It sounded like the growl of a beast. “You are Resistance,” he said. Just like that, Kasch was a stranger to me. He had greeted me as a host, then as a friend, and finally, when he learned the truth about why my family watched over him so carefully, as the enemy. I was terrified. His ice cold eyes sent frost down my spine. It had been a mistake, just one silly mistake. I had ruined everything! “I will give you a minute and a half to run,” he declared. “Kasch!” “Run, Elodie, and don’t look back.” So I did. I took off down the hallway, past the window that overlooked the drive. I ran down the staircase and through the first floor corridors. I ran all the way out into the wet cherry fields until I was out of breath and could barely see the house. It dawned on me then that I had forgotten all about my sister and father. I hadn’t warned them, and certainly Kasch would have them hunted down first. There in the cherry fields, I sat in the mud and cried. Terror encased me; misery became me. I remembered my dream of the bleeding fruit and longed for the smell of stolen soap. For at least an hour I must have sat there, eyes wet and heart beating rapidly. I didn’t dare move until I heard the sound of my name being called. My head shot up just as Josephine came bursting through the rows of cherry trees, my father just behind her. “Elodie! Thank God!” She wrapped her arms around me and pulled me up out of the mud. “I thought they might have gotten you!” “They?” “The Germans! Oh, Elodie . . . it’s all gone wrong.” I felt my guilt swell up in my chest. “I’m sor—” “One of our informants was a spy. He handed a list right to them! He gave them all of our names. If I had known . . . this wouldn’t have happened. If I hadn’t spoken to him the other night, he wouldn’t have known where to find us.” “It’s not your fault, Josephine,” my father interrupted. It would take him only weeks to talk me out of my guilt. It would take him years and the aid of her Swiss lover to talk my sister out of hers.

“It’s all gone wrong, Elodie. The Major can only hold them off so long. Come. We have to go.” I was dumbfounded and frozen solid. My father lifted me into his arms and carried me through the fields as I tried to piece everything together. In my head, I replayed my conversation with Kasch over and over again until all I could hear was the sound of his voice telling me to run and the churning of the gravel outside. I realized that he must have recognized the sound of his own kind. When I glanced back over my father’s shoulder, smoke billowed up from the château. Flames turned everything I had known to cinders. I prayed for Kasch’s safety. My father and sister said nothing. Each and every night after that, when my father turned on the radio, I sat beside him in the old oak chair of our Swiss sitting room, listening carefully for the name of the Major. Each time I was relieved not to hear it. Each time I wondered if he had earned his redemption by liberating us. On the coldest of nights, long after the war had ended, I imagined the howling of the wolves to be Kasch in his fur-collared jacket, hunting a pig or chatting with a small, redcloaked girl deep within the forest.

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I stopped short when I realized he was no longer fighting me off. Kasch’s eyes were wide, his breathing slow. There was a sound, like the churning of gravel from a car outside. It sounded like the growl of a beast. “You are Resistance,” he said. Just like that, Kasch was a stranger to me. He had greeted me as a host, then as a friend, and finally, when he learned the truth about why my family watched over him so carefully, as the enemy. I was terrified. His ice cold eyes sent frost down my spine. It had been a mistake, just one silly mistake. I had ruined everything! “I will give you a minute and a half to run,” he declared. “Kasch!” “Run, Elodie, and don’t look back.” So I did. I took off down the hallway, past the window that overlooked the drive. I ran down the staircase and through the first floor corridors. I ran all the way out into the wet cherry fields until I was out of breath and could barely see the house. It dawned on me then that I had forgotten all about my sister and father. I hadn’t warned them, and certainly Kasch would have them hunted down first. There in the cherry fields, I sat in the mud and cried. Terror encased me; misery became me. I remembered my dream of the bleeding fruit and longed for the smell of stolen soap. For at least an hour I must have sat there, eyes wet and heart beating rapidly. I didn’t dare move until I heard the sound of my name being called. My head shot up just as Josephine came bursting through the rows of cherry trees, my father just behind her. “Elodie! Thank God!” She wrapped her arms around me and pulled me up out of the mud. “I thought they might have gotten you!” “They?” “The Germans! Oh, Elodie . . . it’s all gone wrong.” I felt my guilt swell up in my chest. “I’m sor—” “One of our informants was a spy. He handed a list right to them! He gave them all of our names. If I had known . . . this wouldn’t have happened. If I hadn’t spoken to him the other night, he wouldn’t have known where to find us.” “It’s not your fault, Josephine,” my father interrupted. It would take him only weeks to talk me out of my guilt. It would take him years and the aid of her Swiss lover to talk my sister out of hers.

“It’s all gone wrong, Elodie. The Major can only hold them off so long. Come. We have to go.” I was dumbfounded and frozen solid. My father lifted me into his arms and carried me through the fields as I tried to piece everything together. In my head, I replayed my conversation with Kasch over and over again until all I could hear was the sound of his voice telling me to run and the churning of the gravel outside. I realized that he must have recognized the sound of his own kind. When I glanced back over my father’s shoulder, smoke billowed up from the château. Flames turned everything I had known to cinders. I prayed for Kasch’s safety. My father and sister said nothing. Each and every night after that, when my father turned on the radio, I sat beside him in the old oak chair of our Swiss sitting room, listening carefully for the name of the Major. Each time I was relieved not to hear it. Each time I wondered if he had earned his redemption by liberating us. On the coldest of nights, long after the war had ended, I imagined the howling of the wolves to be Kasch in his fur-collared jacket, hunting a pig or chatting with a small, redcloaked girl deep within the forest.

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AM I CLEAN YET?

George Wylesol

I woke up again on a warm Saturday in December. I sat up, rubbed my face with my hands, and looked around. I saw my jacket, pants and shoes lying in a pile on the floor. I put them on and walked. I wore a light jacket on top of my t-shirt because it was so strangely warm. The snow, laid gently a few nights before, was melting and dripping from the trees and bushes; the regular plink, plinking of the meltwater kept time with my footsteps. It was a strange soundtrack that played constantly beneath this strange morning. I walked through this park and saw a bunch of little kids crowded around Santa Claus, who handed them presents. Two little dogs lay on the ground beside him and their toy antlers sat wet and muddy in the melting snow. Santa’s fake reindeer had given up on Christmas. Santa saw me staring and waved. I waved back and caught his thoughts broadcasted clearly across the park: keep walking, you fucking pervert. The kids turned and they waved, too. I waved again and kept walking. On the way home I slipped on an empty grocery bag and landed on my knees in the mud. I heard my jeans rip down the crotch and for a second I was thirteen again: We had gone up the mountains: my family, and a friend, and myself, for a ski trip. It was December, like it is now, and it was unseasonably warm, like it is now. It was too warm to ski so we drove around. My parents and my sister went to the mall. My brother, my friend and I crossed the interstate to a mini-golf course. It was closed for the winter. A goofy fucking alligator laughed at us from atop the tenth hole and we wanted to break it. We hopped the locked gate but my jeans caught on the top and I fell, tearing the crotch and landing on my knees in the mud. “Hey!” I heard a yell when I landed. “The fuck are you kids doing in there?” It was a scary man with one leg and a beard, on crutches across the parking lot. Then I was twenty-two again: “Are you okay?” It was Santa and his rein-dogs, running toward me through the mud, beard bouncing all the way. Then I was thirteen: We stood up in the golf course and ran like hell across the interstate, not looking either way, back to the van.

I was twenty-two again: I stood up, squinted at Santa, and waved to him for a third time. I was thirteen: I cried in the middle seat all the way home, tears beaded on the gray upholstery like raindrops in a driveway. Twenty-two: I watched Santa stop running halfway through the park and walk his dogs over to a muddy red pickup. The kids loaded their presents into their parents’ little cars. I tried to wipe the mud off my pants but some of it had seeped through my new crotch hole and the inside of my left thigh was muddy. When I was thirteen and when I was twenty-two I stood unclothed in the shower and watched the black mud blossom around the drain in beautiful circles while our leaky Hechinger showerheads dripped into the bathwater, plink-plinking the soundtrack that shaped me.

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AM I CLEAN YET?

George Wylesol

I woke up again on a warm Saturday in December. I sat up, rubbed my face with my hands, and looked around. I saw my jacket, pants and shoes lying in a pile on the floor. I put them on and walked. I wore a light jacket on top of my t-shirt because it was so strangely warm. The snow, laid gently a few nights before, was melting and dripping from the trees and bushes; the regular plink, plinking of the meltwater kept time with my footsteps. It was a strange soundtrack that played constantly beneath this strange morning. I walked through this park and saw a bunch of little kids crowded around Santa Claus, who handed them presents. Two little dogs lay on the ground beside him and their toy antlers sat wet and muddy in the melting snow. Santa’s fake reindeer had given up on Christmas. Santa saw me staring and waved. I waved back and caught his thoughts broadcasted clearly across the park: keep walking, you fucking pervert. The kids turned and they waved, too. I waved again and kept walking. On the way home I slipped on an empty grocery bag and landed on my knees in the mud. I heard my jeans rip down the crotch and for a second I was thirteen again: We had gone up the mountains: my family, and a friend, and myself, for a ski trip. It was December, like it is now, and it was unseasonably warm, like it is now. It was too warm to ski so we drove around. My parents and my sister went to the mall. My brother, my friend and I crossed the interstate to a mini-golf course. It was closed for the winter. A goofy fucking alligator laughed at us from atop the tenth hole and we wanted to break it. We hopped the locked gate but my jeans caught on the top and I fell, tearing the crotch and landing on my knees in the mud. “Hey!” I heard a yell when I landed. “The fuck are you kids doing in there?” It was a scary man with one leg and a beard, on crutches across the parking lot. Then I was twenty-two again: “Are you okay?” It was Santa and his rein-dogs, running toward me through the mud, beard bouncing all the way. Then I was thirteen: We stood up in the golf course and ran like hell across the interstate, not looking either way, back to the van.

I was twenty-two again: I stood up, squinted at Santa, and waved to him for a third time. I was thirteen: I cried in the middle seat all the way home, tears beaded on the gray upholstery like raindrops in a driveway. Twenty-two: I watched Santa stop running halfway through the park and walk his dogs over to a muddy red pickup. The kids loaded their presents into their parents’ little cars. I tried to wipe the mud off my pants but some of it had seeped through my new crotch hole and the inside of my left thigh was muddy. When I was thirteen and when I was twenty-two I stood unclothed in the shower and watched the black mud blossom around the drain in beautiful circles while our leaky Hechinger showerheads dripped into the bathwater, plink-plinking the soundtrack that shaped me.

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JENNIFER GREY ’S NOSE

Michael Englisis

So much poetry tonight like reach out and grab the past or close your eyes in reverie or smell a scent that instantly pulls you back to when you were in love and she was the only she and she looked into you like you were the only you, not just another in a long line of others riding the conveyer belt of a mediocre love affair or some stain on a white tablecloth left in red from the bottom of a wine glass, remnant of soul tipped over, inundated with nostalgia, a shadow so sweet and fleeting, there and gone in a Hollywood second, like Jennifer Grey (that beautiful, naturally beautiful, young actress from Dirty Dancing) and the nose job that made her anonymous

WEAK NES S

James Kaminski

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JENNIFER GREY ’S NOSE

Michael Englisis

So much poetry tonight like reach out and grab the past or close your eyes in reverie or smell a scent that instantly pulls you back to when you were in love and she was the only she and she looked into you like you were the only you, not just another in a long line of others riding the conveyer belt of a mediocre love affair or some stain on a white tablecloth left in red from the bottom of a wine glass, remnant of soul tipped over, inundated with nostalgia, a shadow so sweet and fleeting, there and gone in a Hollywood second, like Jennifer Grey (that beautiful, naturally beautiful, young actress from Dirty Dancing) and the nose job that made her anonymous

WEAK NES S

James Kaminski

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TH E ADV ENTUR ES OF M AI L - PI G

Andy Hood UNDERGROUND POOL

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TH E ADV ENTUR ES OF M AI L - PI G

Andy Hood UNDERGROUND POOL

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S TA C E Y - P O O

Kevin Kypers

Stacey-poo, “Tu as rêvé de quoi cette nuit?” It is French for some such nonsense I could never learn It was raining in Gatineau As I wandered ze lonely streets Searching for something I don’t know I thought I would find my homeland But instead found fried potatoes I sought comfort in your bosom Dreamed what our baby might look like In you I found home

iMEMORANDUM

Kevin Kypers

I brought my MacBook to the Apple Store For months my computer had been ailing Shutting down, starting up—it wouldn’t work anymore The Geniuses said the hard drive was FAILING I recalled long nights in the studio Pushing my hardware beyond limitations Or the Quadra 610 from days long ago A child playing with drawing applications He was creative, ambitious—but no philanthropist Just an entrepreneur, a mogul, a suit A practicing Buddhist, but devout Capitalist And we have all tasted his forbidden fruit The Almighty DUM rings out and offers insight As we stare at the monitor’s bright, bright light

Boston is for ze young hopefuls But I must wake up from my dreams I will “a-haw-haw” at your cats, Call rum & Coke “Holden Caulfield” Ze tears and holes left by this world Cannot all be healed with Scotch tape For I have lost you My body may wrinkle and tear My mother’s name may fade away But not memories I must leave you now, “mon chéri” I don’t speak “ze language of love” I will take lessons So kiss kiss, mwah mwah A-haw-haw-haw-haw —Vaschel

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S TA C E Y - P O O

Kevin Kypers

Stacey-poo, “Tu as rêvé de quoi cette nuit?” It is French for some such nonsense I could never learn It was raining in Gatineau As I wandered ze lonely streets Searching for something I don’t know I thought I would find my homeland But instead found fried potatoes I sought comfort in your bosom Dreamed what our baby might look like In you I found home

iMEMORANDUM

Kevin Kypers

I brought my MacBook to the Apple Store For months my computer had been ailing Shutting down, starting up—it wouldn’t work anymore The Geniuses said the hard drive was FAILING I recalled long nights in the studio Pushing my hardware beyond limitations Or the Quadra 610 from days long ago A child playing with drawing applications He was creative, ambitious—but no philanthropist Just an entrepreneur, a mogul, a suit A practicing Buddhist, but devout Capitalist And we have all tasted his forbidden fruit The Almighty DUM rings out and offers insight As we stare at the monitor’s bright, bright light

Boston is for ze young hopefuls But I must wake up from my dreams I will “a-haw-haw” at your cats, Call rum & Coke “Holden Caulfield” Ze tears and holes left by this world Cannot all be healed with Scotch tape For I have lost you My body may wrinkle and tear My mother’s name may fade away But not memories I must leave you now, “mon chéri” I don’t speak “ze language of love” I will take lessons So kiss kiss, mwah mwah A-haw-haw-haw-haw —Vaschel

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ANIMAL

JOEL VERNILE

N

ineteen is like standing on the edge of darkness. Jonah was on his back, and as every wave crashed, the chemicals coursing through his veins went deeper and deeper. His wet eyes fixed on the only cloud in the sky, the blotchy shape of a man reaching into the darkness. The winds caught it and ripped it apart as the stars dripped down the black sky, like drops of rain on a crystal ball. No feelings. God let me disappear. The pills made his stomach swell. She would be coming. He threw up. Jonah was curled in a ball on a desolate beach, black night forever to his left, and to his right sharp jagged rocks jutting from the sand. He had always made his escape here, even more so since she left. There weren’t any people, any problems, any questions, and all meaning floated away with the tide. A harsh light glinted off the sand. Headlights.

C LOS UR E

K athleen Premian UNDERGROUND POOL

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ANIMAL

JOEL VERNILE

N

ineteen is like standing on the edge of darkness. Jonah was on his back, and as every wave crashed, the chemicals coursing through his veins went deeper and deeper. His wet eyes fixed on the only cloud in the sky, the blotchy shape of a man reaching into the darkness. The winds caught it and ripped it apart as the stars dripped down the black sky, like drops of rain on a crystal ball. No feelings. God let me disappear. The pills made his stomach swell. She would be coming. He threw up. Jonah was curled in a ball on a desolate beach, black night forever to his left, and to his right sharp jagged rocks jutting from the sand. He had always made his escape here, even more so since she left. There weren’t any people, any problems, any questions, and all meaning floated away with the tide. A harsh light glinted off the sand. Headlights.

C LOS UR E

K athleen Premian UNDERGROUND POOL

53


As Jonah staggered to his feet, the lights spun in his head and the dizzy world pushed him over. The choking of the truck’s crusty engine told him it wasn’t her. It was Houston. Son-of-a-fucking-bitch. Jonah crawled to a stand and spit useless curses in the sand as he trudged across the dune. His legs were noodles on the slipping sand and the sky was pulsing purple in his brain as the junk fastened around his nerves. The door behind the high beams slammed shut and sent his mind reeling. Jonah stepped beyond the glow of the lights and saw Houston, towering over him. Houston slipped both hands in his navel-high pants pockets and grinned an ugly one. His hairline peaked at an unreasonable height. Where Jonah was a degenerate, Houston was a snooty fuck. Their town was a hellhole beyond a wake-up call and somehow Houston had prevailed. He was perfect and horrible, never touched a thing. Their high school got a visit from the ambulance once a week for some stupid pubescent smack-sniffing asshole, a blue-lipped mama’s boy or unresponsive daddy’s girl. The bullies and the bullied assimilated to form the hell before them. Somehow Houston had stayed away from drugs, but was a leech nonetheless. “What the hell are you doing here jackoff,” Jonah screamed. “I know you’re meeting up with Jamie tonight, and I want you to stay away from her and that bastard son of yours.” Jonah felt weak and shriveled before him. “I told her about you,” Houston said. “And you know what, she laughed. You’re pathetic, dude.” The baby had fucked up their life. No more wasting away in front of the tide together, no more cruising around together, no more together. Those were memories to hold on to. Houston found out and of course came to the rescue, talked her into rehab. “I talked to her today,” the worm boasted. “She said she’s only coming here to get you off her back. Do us all a favor and rot down there where you belong.” Those last three rang in his head. “What, you think you and her have a thing now? You think she wants a piece of shit like you?” Jonah was desperate. His body was there, but his mind was caught in a rip tide. “Jonah, take a look at your selfish, disgusting life. Jamie finally has a chance now, to go to school, to be something. If you ever loved her you’d take a hike.”

Jonah stumbled into the car and hit his head on the hood. “Get outta here you little maggot.” The words barely dribbled out of his mouth. He felt like he was imploding, his body steeped in poison. “Get out of here you faggot.” Jonah hit the dirt. “Go aw—” Jonah rolled over onto his back and spit a wad of sand out of his mouth. It slid sloppily down his chin. His teeth clicked and scratched sand stuck in his molars. He strained his head back. He was back in his spot next to the rocks. Up the dune, Houston was gone. Damn that little shit. Wetness glazed his eyes. I’m not supposed to be like this. He was sick of playing the same twisted game that reset every time he came down. Sick. Sick. The clouds had dissipated to a smoky translucent haze over the beach. Staring into the sky, Jonah felt he was sinking. Down into the sand, buried by the passing of every moment. He tried to stay alive. He tried to think anything. Jonah hadn’t seen the baby yet. It had been a shock to everyone when the news came. How a baby could survive the constant dosing was a mystery. But Jamie would not get rid of it. If it weren’t for her mother’s abortions, she would have a younger brother or a baby sister. Jonah had always seen some kind of light in Jamie. Muddled from sight, but it was there. But the thought that a child of his was gestating inside her had disgusted him. Memory to forget. How could someone who’d been alive just nineteen years be this way? High school had taught him to rip off innocence like a sick bandaid, that’s how. “Happy Birthday, Mr. Jones.” Jonah popped up to the familiar voice, sand sifting down his shirt. She was standing there. He felt like he’d just come up out of water and couldn’t find any words. His feverish lips cracked a smile. His small stubs of teeth, swallowed up almost completely by milky pink gums, leaked blood. She flashed a smile back. “Jamie, you’re the only one who remembered.” She started to come into focus. The short red hair that had once popped and stuck out in a greasy mess was now long and wavy all the way down her shoulders. Her breasts heaved under her tank. And then there it was. Wrapped in a ragged blanket, carried loosely at her stomach. She walked purposefully over to his side and dropped

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As Jonah staggered to his feet, the lights spun in his head and the dizzy world pushed him over. The choking of the truck’s crusty engine told him it wasn’t her. It was Houston. Son-of-a-fucking-bitch. Jonah crawled to a stand and spit useless curses in the sand as he trudged across the dune. His legs were noodles on the slipping sand and the sky was pulsing purple in his brain as the junk fastened around his nerves. The door behind the high beams slammed shut and sent his mind reeling. Jonah stepped beyond the glow of the lights and saw Houston, towering over him. Houston slipped both hands in his navel-high pants pockets and grinned an ugly one. His hairline peaked at an unreasonable height. Where Jonah was a degenerate, Houston was a snooty fuck. Their town was a hellhole beyond a wake-up call and somehow Houston had prevailed. He was perfect and horrible, never touched a thing. Their high school got a visit from the ambulance once a week for some stupid pubescent smack-sniffing asshole, a blue-lipped mama’s boy or unresponsive daddy’s girl. The bullies and the bullied assimilated to form the hell before them. Somehow Houston had stayed away from drugs, but was a leech nonetheless. “What the hell are you doing here jackoff,” Jonah screamed. “I know you’re meeting up with Jamie tonight, and I want you to stay away from her and that bastard son of yours.” Jonah felt weak and shriveled before him. “I told her about you,” Houston said. “And you know what, she laughed. You’re pathetic, dude.” The baby had fucked up their life. No more wasting away in front of the tide together, no more cruising around together, no more together. Those were memories to hold on to. Houston found out and of course came to the rescue, talked her into rehab. “I talked to her today,” the worm boasted. “She said she’s only coming here to get you off her back. Do us all a favor and rot down there where you belong.” Those last three rang in his head. “What, you think you and her have a thing now? You think she wants a piece of shit like you?” Jonah was desperate. His body was there, but his mind was caught in a rip tide. “Jonah, take a look at your selfish, disgusting life. Jamie finally has a chance now, to go to school, to be something. If you ever loved her you’d take a hike.”

Jonah stumbled into the car and hit his head on the hood. “Get outta here you little maggot.” The words barely dribbled out of his mouth. He felt like he was imploding, his body steeped in poison. “Get out of here you faggot.” Jonah hit the dirt. “Go aw—” Jonah rolled over onto his back and spit a wad of sand out of his mouth. It slid sloppily down his chin. His teeth clicked and scratched sand stuck in his molars. He strained his head back. He was back in his spot next to the rocks. Up the dune, Houston was gone. Damn that little shit. Wetness glazed his eyes. I’m not supposed to be like this. He was sick of playing the same twisted game that reset every time he came down. Sick. Sick. The clouds had dissipated to a smoky translucent haze over the beach. Staring into the sky, Jonah felt he was sinking. Down into the sand, buried by the passing of every moment. He tried to stay alive. He tried to think anything. Jonah hadn’t seen the baby yet. It had been a shock to everyone when the news came. How a baby could survive the constant dosing was a mystery. But Jamie would not get rid of it. If it weren’t for her mother’s abortions, she would have a younger brother or a baby sister. Jonah had always seen some kind of light in Jamie. Muddled from sight, but it was there. But the thought that a child of his was gestating inside her had disgusted him. Memory to forget. How could someone who’d been alive just nineteen years be this way? High school had taught him to rip off innocence like a sick bandaid, that’s how. “Happy Birthday, Mr. Jones.” Jonah popped up to the familiar voice, sand sifting down his shirt. She was standing there. He felt like he’d just come up out of water and couldn’t find any words. His feverish lips cracked a smile. His small stubs of teeth, swallowed up almost completely by milky pink gums, leaked blood. She flashed a smile back. “Jamie, you’re the only one who remembered.” She started to come into focus. The short red hair that had once popped and stuck out in a greasy mess was now long and wavy all the way down her shoulders. Her breasts heaved under her tank. And then there it was. Wrapped in a ragged blanket, carried loosely at her stomach. She walked purposefully over to his side and dropped

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55


the wretched thing into his lap where it lay silent. She kicked aside a rubber strap and a filthy spoon and took a seat. Jonah fidgeted. He tried not to look at the thing in his lap. He had become so used to isolation that it took a few moments to find a comfortable spot next to her. He wanted so badly for the two of them to be back to normal. She lit up a cigarette. He gave her a look. “You can’t quit everything at once,” she said. “How was it?” “Rehab? Bullshit.” “I miss you so much.” “You look terrible.” “I’m stoned.” She didn’t say anything. Jonah’s face was destroyed, pale strips of clammy skin clinging lifelessly to bone. “How do I look?” Jamie asked, looking at the red glow of her cigarette. An incomprehensible belch burst from his mouth. “You look . . . Jamie, you look great.” Jonah couldn’t help but think of the first time he saw her. She had just finished screwing some jock in the gym showers and he was bumping a line of something or other off a bench when she came out and brushed up against him. She had smelled like flowers and sex. Her bright blue eyes had fixed on his. That was a memory to keep. Now her eyes were big black stains in the center of such a beautiful face. Jonah tried his best to keep balanced on his elbows, to keep from nodding away. Took too much. His eyes were in and out of focus. He had to tell himself to keep breathing. His heart felt like it might just stop. He reached a cold hand over and touched her back. “God this place is disgusting,” she said, glancing at him. “I, um, I came here to tell you something.” “Yeah?” He was trying to swim out of this haze, to reach the surface, to come back to her. Her face contorted and then relaxed. She was digging her bare feet into the sand. “Houston,” he said. “Is this about that dumbshit?” “No! God, no.”

“Houston came over here and acted like you and him were on your way to Vegas.” “I hate that piece of shit.” She chuckled softly and scratched the tip of her button nose. “Listen Jonah, I’m different—than I used to be.” “I know, I know. And I’m all about that.” “I’ve been in the program, steps and all that, and it’s really about getting out of your old life. Leaving it behind where you last saw it and never turning back.” Jonah flipped onto his stomach and stared up at her with his face in his hands. She looked toward the waves. “Well, I can’t do it with that.” She pointed with her cigarette to Jonah’s side. He looked and remembered the baby. The goddamn baby. He had placed it in the sand next to them. Its tiny hands poked out of the blanket. Jamie whimpered. “I can’t do this with a child, Jonah. I can’t move forward with a ball and chain around my ankle.” She looked him in the eyes. “I need to be selfish. I have to think about me.” “So get rid of it.” “What?” “I mean, get rid of it. You could do it right now, no one comes here but us.” She sat up quickly, with a false surprise that betrayed her thoughts of doing the very same thing. Jonah gazed at her. He was anxious to have her back, to hold her as he nodded off. The sand blew into his eyes. She said nothing, but a sick smirk flashed across her face, then evaporated just as quickly. “I couldn’t do that. You would have to do it.” She paused a moment to catch Jonah’s reaction, but he had none. She pressed on, “It’s half yours.” He slid up onto his side and plopped back on his butt with the baby in his lap again. It had not made a single sound. Jamie continued to talk but he shut her out for the moment. Jonah thought back to when his parents had first brought his baby sister Emily home, how he had held her for hours, how he was back then. He lifted a corner of the dirty blanket, curious to see his so-called child. Beneath the rag he saw a precious little bean of a person, quiet as a mouse, looking up at him adoringly. Its cheeks were soft and squishy, rosy red, and eyes dazzlingly blue in the darkness. He wrapped it up quickly. “ . . . so what do you think?”

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57


the wretched thing into his lap where it lay silent. She kicked aside a rubber strap and a filthy spoon and took a seat. Jonah fidgeted. He tried not to look at the thing in his lap. He had become so used to isolation that it took a few moments to find a comfortable spot next to her. He wanted so badly for the two of them to be back to normal. She lit up a cigarette. He gave her a look. “You can’t quit everything at once,” she said. “How was it?” “Rehab? Bullshit.” “I miss you so much.” “You look terrible.” “I’m stoned.” She didn’t say anything. Jonah’s face was destroyed, pale strips of clammy skin clinging lifelessly to bone. “How do I look?” Jamie asked, looking at the red glow of her cigarette. An incomprehensible belch burst from his mouth. “You look . . . Jamie, you look great.” Jonah couldn’t help but think of the first time he saw her. She had just finished screwing some jock in the gym showers and he was bumping a line of something or other off a bench when she came out and brushed up against him. She had smelled like flowers and sex. Her bright blue eyes had fixed on his. That was a memory to keep. Now her eyes were big black stains in the center of such a beautiful face. Jonah tried his best to keep balanced on his elbows, to keep from nodding away. Took too much. His eyes were in and out of focus. He had to tell himself to keep breathing. His heart felt like it might just stop. He reached a cold hand over and touched her back. “God this place is disgusting,” she said, glancing at him. “I, um, I came here to tell you something.” “Yeah?” He was trying to swim out of this haze, to reach the surface, to come back to her. Her face contorted and then relaxed. She was digging her bare feet into the sand. “Houston,” he said. “Is this about that dumbshit?” “No! God, no.”

“Houston came over here and acted like you and him were on your way to Vegas.” “I hate that piece of shit.” She chuckled softly and scratched the tip of her button nose. “Listen Jonah, I’m different—than I used to be.” “I know, I know. And I’m all about that.” “I’ve been in the program, steps and all that, and it’s really about getting out of your old life. Leaving it behind where you last saw it and never turning back.” Jonah flipped onto his stomach and stared up at her with his face in his hands. She looked toward the waves. “Well, I can’t do it with that.” She pointed with her cigarette to Jonah’s side. He looked and remembered the baby. The goddamn baby. He had placed it in the sand next to them. Its tiny hands poked out of the blanket. Jamie whimpered. “I can’t do this with a child, Jonah. I can’t move forward with a ball and chain around my ankle.” She looked him in the eyes. “I need to be selfish. I have to think about me.” “So get rid of it.” “What?” “I mean, get rid of it. You could do it right now, no one comes here but us.” She sat up quickly, with a false surprise that betrayed her thoughts of doing the very same thing. Jonah gazed at her. He was anxious to have her back, to hold her as he nodded off. The sand blew into his eyes. She said nothing, but a sick smirk flashed across her face, then evaporated just as quickly. “I couldn’t do that. You would have to do it.” She paused a moment to catch Jonah’s reaction, but he had none. She pressed on, “It’s half yours.” He slid up onto his side and plopped back on his butt with the baby in his lap again. It had not made a single sound. Jamie continued to talk but he shut her out for the moment. Jonah thought back to when his parents had first brought his baby sister Emily home, how he had held her for hours, how he was back then. He lifted a corner of the dirty blanket, curious to see his so-called child. Beneath the rag he saw a precious little bean of a person, quiet as a mouse, looking up at him adoringly. Its cheeks were soft and squishy, rosy red, and eyes dazzlingly blue in the darkness. He wrapped it up quickly. “ . . . so what do you think?”

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57


Jonah was fighting himself to have some sort of thought. Words were not coming to him anymore, only feelings in the pit of his gut. He took off his shirt and stood up with the thing in his arms and stumbled to the side, but Jamie caught him. She always caught him. He loved her. “My mom couldn’t stand taking care of it all this time.” “Mmhm.” Took too much. “God what a beautiful night,” she sighed, her arms crossed across her chest as she tried to look at anything but him. They made their way toward the waves. The soft white powder had become razorblades in his brain. All of it was rushing to his head. He shook his head to get rid of the buzzing in his ears. “Hey, maybe after this we can go get some Maddogs or something.” “Yeah.” She turned to him and stopped him with her tiny hand. “What I came here to tell you,” she said, “is that I have a job back in Florida. I’m home to get my things and say goodbye.” Jonah took a step back. “Jonah, I don’t want to waste away on this shitty beach with you anymore, watching you pick your scabs.” She took a breath and looked him in the eye. “You’re a creature. Jonah. Maybe someday you’ll see that baboon on your back is eating you alive from both ends.” “Okay. Kay.” Then Jonah didn’t say anything. They started walking again. His heart was in shards but his feet kept shifting forward into the water. The icy May ocean rushed up his ankles and sent shivers up to his ears. “I understand.” They had run out into this ocean so many times before, blasted out of their minds. Memories to save. “I hope you do, Jonah. And this doesn’t take away all the times we had. It’s just putting it behind us.” He said nothing to that. They walked out to where the water crashed at their waists. The baby still was silent, wrapped up in its rag. Jonah was fixated on the waves, being pulled back and forth with them, trying to answer the call of the buzzing in his ears. He was just going to do it. Shove it under water for half a minute and then let it go or throw it in the rocks. Jamie was going to leave him. He looked into her face. She was getting nervous he would back out. He pushed the baby toward her. “Hold it one more time.” She looked toward the beach where they had been, then back at him with an expression that said just sink that worm already.

Jonah held the package away from his body and over the waves. Splashes of salt water flecked the blanket, and a gust of freezing wind blew the blanket away. Jamie gasped. He stood there wavering in the tossing waves, staring at the creature in his pale wet hands. It was beautiful. Jonah pulled the baby to his goose-bumped chest and with the other hand he swung at her. He gripped her horrible face. Jamie collapsed under the force of his arm and dropped beneath the waves. He held the baby with one arm as best he could while the other stiffened to keep the beast underwater, letting water rush into her lungs. If he couldn’t have her, he would keep the only piece of her left. Jonah’s mind, bloated with chemicals, had peaked. He was running on instinct. His arms pulsed with thick veins. Her arms flicked and flailed at the surface of the water as she weakened beneath the frigid waves that tossed above her face. Finally, the energy left her body and she went limp. He released her. Memory to forget. He pulled his hand out of the water. She had torn the skin completely off three fingers. He embraced his son with both hands, getting blood all over him, and waded, shivering, back to the sand.

UNDERGROUND POOL

59


Jonah was fighting himself to have some sort of thought. Words were not coming to him anymore, only feelings in the pit of his gut. He took off his shirt and stood up with the thing in his arms and stumbled to the side, but Jamie caught him. She always caught him. He loved her. “My mom couldn’t stand taking care of it all this time.” “Mmhm.” Took too much. “God what a beautiful night,” she sighed, her arms crossed across her chest as she tried to look at anything but him. They made their way toward the waves. The soft white powder had become razorblades in his brain. All of it was rushing to his head. He shook his head to get rid of the buzzing in his ears. “Hey, maybe after this we can go get some Maddogs or something.” “Yeah.” She turned to him and stopped him with her tiny hand. “What I came here to tell you,” she said, “is that I have a job back in Florida. I’m home to get my things and say goodbye.” Jonah took a step back. “Jonah, I don’t want to waste away on this shitty beach with you anymore, watching you pick your scabs.” She took a breath and looked him in the eye. “You’re a creature. Jonah. Maybe someday you’ll see that baboon on your back is eating you alive from both ends.” “Okay. Kay.” Then Jonah didn’t say anything. They started walking again. His heart was in shards but his feet kept shifting forward into the water. The icy May ocean rushed up his ankles and sent shivers up to his ears. “I understand.” They had run out into this ocean so many times before, blasted out of their minds. Memories to save. “I hope you do, Jonah. And this doesn’t take away all the times we had. It’s just putting it behind us.” He said nothing to that. They walked out to where the water crashed at their waists. The baby still was silent, wrapped up in its rag. Jonah was fixated on the waves, being pulled back and forth with them, trying to answer the call of the buzzing in his ears. He was just going to do it. Shove it under water for half a minute and then let it go or throw it in the rocks. Jamie was going to leave him. He looked into her face. She was getting nervous he would back out. He pushed the baby toward her. “Hold it one more time.” She looked toward the beach where they had been, then back at him with an expression that said just sink that worm already.

Jonah held the package away from his body and over the waves. Splashes of salt water flecked the blanket, and a gust of freezing wind blew the blanket away. Jamie gasped. He stood there wavering in the tossing waves, staring at the creature in his pale wet hands. It was beautiful. Jonah pulled the baby to his goose-bumped chest and with the other hand he swung at her. He gripped her horrible face. Jamie collapsed under the force of his arm and dropped beneath the waves. He held the baby with one arm as best he could while the other stiffened to keep the beast underwater, letting water rush into her lungs. If he couldn’t have her, he would keep the only piece of her left. Jonah’s mind, bloated with chemicals, had peaked. He was running on instinct. His arms pulsed with thick veins. Her arms flicked and flailed at the surface of the water as she weakened beneath the frigid waves that tossed above her face. Finally, the energy left her body and she went limp. He released her. Memory to forget. He pulled his hand out of the water. She had torn the skin completely off three fingers. He embraced his son with both hands, getting blood all over him, and waded, shivering, back to the sand.

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59


T I N B U R R O W E D H AW K A N D A T H I R S T Y S WA L L O W

Jonathan Vaders

for once in my life look at me as a me and not a you and you would see why me gets so sucked up inside of the you with all the tumbled but true, it comes and goes, but now i see it as something for once a -thing and not a doubled up corkscrewed mess of a blur curdled and woven between the dead falling failures. startled i walk within a quiet corner debating a position as an eternal mourner. but i know, suns have risen, moons have had blank escapades on my ceiling.

NOVEMBER 7, 2010

S. Andrew Albitz

Steam slowly rises in thick plumes as the subway tunnels and sewers empty their secret warmth into the Philadelphia streets. Grease-cart smoke, sweet, stale, bloody; the cigarette trails like snakes in the evening sky; exhaust trickling from tailpipes and clinging to the cold, hollow concrete–all stewing in the stale October air. The vaporous broth of evening has become thick, and the air is beginning to curdle, bearing down on the city with its breathless weight. There is a black mass moving into the city from the East, skipping right over the Delaware as though it were a footstream, and from the West, a procession of men, skin dark as night, marching their huge drums–BOMB, (pause), BOMB-BOMB, (pause), BOMB, (pause), BOMB-BOMB, (pause)– straight into the storm. The pulse comes from everywhere as the procession moves closer, closer, each throb becoming louder until it is all that there is– BOMB, (pause), BOMB-BOMB, (pause). The only other person to challenge the silence is the man dying on the corner–his ancient, rusted harmonica screaming against the freezing wind–his dark tune seeming to cut right through the pulse–BOMB, (pause), BOMB-BOMB, (pause)–taking on the tight, rancid texture of molasses. As the rolling cloud and the black procession–BOMB, (pause), BOMB-BOMB, (pause)–inevitably converge, the harmonica’s cry is trapped in the bloody firmament forever, frozen in space and time. BOMB, (pause), BOMB-BOMB, (PAUSE)

with this, i will not leave. in fact, i will stay and feed the beautiful fire that i built myself with your help, of course. all of this, within a hymnal of a songbird’s dream. i’m still here for now and forever longer than this moment right now. it’s all of this.

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T I N B U R R O W E D H AW K A N D A T H I R S T Y S WA L L O W

Jonathan Vaders

for once in my life look at me as a me and not a you and you would see why me gets so sucked up inside of the you with all the tumbled but true, it comes and goes, but now i see it as something for once a -thing and not a doubled up corkscrewed mess of a blur curdled and woven between the dead falling failures. startled i walk within a quiet corner debating a position as an eternal mourner. but i know, suns have risen, moons have had blank escapades on my ceiling.

NOVEMBER 7, 2010

S. Andrew Albitz

Steam slowly rises in thick plumes as the subway tunnels and sewers empty their secret warmth into the Philadelphia streets. Grease-cart smoke, sweet, stale, bloody; the cigarette trails like snakes in the evening sky; exhaust trickling from tailpipes and clinging to the cold, hollow concrete–all stewing in the stale October air. The vaporous broth of evening has become thick, and the air is beginning to curdle, bearing down on the city with its breathless weight. There is a black mass moving into the city from the East, skipping right over the Delaware as though it were a footstream, and from the West, a procession of men, skin dark as night, marching their huge drums–BOMB, (pause), BOMB-BOMB, (pause), BOMB, (pause), BOMB-BOMB, (pause)– straight into the storm. The pulse comes from everywhere as the procession moves closer, closer, each throb becoming louder until it is all that there is– BOMB, (pause), BOMB-BOMB, (pause). The only other person to challenge the silence is the man dying on the corner–his ancient, rusted harmonica screaming against the freezing wind–his dark tune seeming to cut right through the pulse–BOMB, (pause), BOMB-BOMB, (pause)–taking on the tight, rancid texture of molasses. As the rolling cloud and the black procession–BOMB, (pause), BOMB-BOMB, (pause)–inevitably converge, the harmonica’s cry is trapped in the bloody firmament forever, frozen in space and time. BOMB, (pause), BOMB-BOMB, (PAUSE)

with this, i will not leave. in fact, i will stay and feed the beautiful fire that i built myself with your help, of course. all of this, within a hymnal of a songbird’s dream. i’m still here for now and forever longer than this moment right now. it’s all of this.

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BETWEEN AND BE YOND T H E S PA C E O F U S PAUL WINTER

T

PHILADELPHIA HOM E S

Leah Romero

revor walked up the stairs out of syncopation with the snoring of his father, who lay asleep in the chair downstairs. The space between them was an air filled with the distinct smell of cheap deodorizer, and while nobody would have ever heard it, these two essences—the sound of snores and an antismell smell—were punctured by a rush of sound produced by the grinding of Trevor’s cotton-nylon socks against the millions of tiny synthetic filaments in the carpet on the stairs. Each gap between his toes and the filaments was filled with a crunch, like the twisting of a large forest by a hurricane. Trevor’s destination was the bathroom on the second floor of his family’s home, which was occupied by Brian, his brother, who was showering, yet the door was unlocked and the immense amount of steam pressed its way through the infinitesimal cracks of the door frame, which indicated an invisible osmosis of cool and warm air. You can imagine what opening the door must have been like, and how little could be seen of the bathroom interior. At some point while brushing his teeth, Trevor’s reflection in the bathroom mirror could be seen gaz-

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BETWEEN AND BE YOND T H E S PA C E O F U S PAUL WINTER

T

PHILADELPHIA HOM E S

Leah Romero

revor walked up the stairs out of syncopation with the snoring of his father, who lay asleep in the chair downstairs. The space between them was an air filled with the distinct smell of cheap deodorizer, and while nobody would have ever heard it, these two essences—the sound of snores and an antismell smell—were punctured by a rush of sound produced by the grinding of Trevor’s cotton-nylon socks against the millions of tiny synthetic filaments in the carpet on the stairs. Each gap between his toes and the filaments was filled with a crunch, like the twisting of a large forest by a hurricane. Trevor’s destination was the bathroom on the second floor of his family’s home, which was occupied by Brian, his brother, who was showering, yet the door was unlocked and the immense amount of steam pressed its way through the infinitesimal cracks of the door frame, which indicated an invisible osmosis of cool and warm air. You can imagine what opening the door must have been like, and how little could be seen of the bathroom interior. At some point while brushing his teeth, Trevor’s reflection in the bathroom mirror could be seen gaz-

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ing aimlessly past its corporeal self and toward the textured glass shower pane. Within the pane was a diffused and repeated image of his naked brother. At a moment not long after this, though neither was aware of it, the gazes of nearly one thousand Brians met the gaze of Trevor’s reflection. If so inclined, you could say that for a few seconds a thousand and one ghosts converged in an otherworldly steam, until a seductive and significantly colder air from another space lured the steam out of its ghost-nurturing existence and into a mediocre yet temperate atmosphere that trembled with the snores of Trevor’s father. Now, though, the suspension of the boy’s images in solid substances moved in fluid harmony. This sort of dance could not have been planned by the best of choreographers, because it was so mundane and ordinary. Despite this, every droplet of condensation felt so moved by the two entities that it could not help but mimic them upon a glassy surface. Trevor spit a mix of saliva and blue-green fluoride into the rush of faucet water. He turned the faucet off and walked toward the door. Once he reached the threshold, the muscles of the two boys slightly relaxed. Brian slowed his movements; Trevor let his weight sink more heavily into his feet. Trevor emerged from the bathroom after an elapsed time of roughly two minutes. His mouth open, he paused for a moment before going anywhere else. The scent of fresh mint hovered just below his nose but nowhere else in the house. A few granules of micro-abrasives lingered in the tiny fissures of his enamel, escaping the endless flow of slightly acidic saliva, which would rush them into his stomach. He moved toward his room, breaking the stillness of those glittering granules and abandoning the faint perfume of mint. The distance between Trevor and Brian increased as the sweetness of the perfume dissipated and was replaced by a sound—a loud, resonant snore. Just prior to Trevor’s entry into his room, several deep and truly black shadows found their repose beneath his bed, behind his dresser, and elsewhere in hidden crevices and corners. But with a quick upward gesture from a finger of Trevor’s hand, the shadows scattered and retreated to places unknown to you and me. In their place emerged arrangements equally unfamiliar to Trevor, the backs and undersides of his furniture, which had stood in a strange sort of limbo between deep shadow and semi-shadow for two decades. Each façade collected dust, and a few million particles about the room found a brief moment of freedom when the deepest pitch of Trevor’s father’s snore shook

them into the air. They would settle in the carpet filaments for several more years. During this brief and sudden squall of unseen dust, Trevor locked his door and fell asleep upon his bed. The electric light above him hummed with little else to do until, four minutes later, it burned out and never sang again. Outside, night had already fallen and reached its blackest. It was not a dreary night, but enough clouds had accumulated to obscure the moon and turn the world into shadow. Even the brightest white object, such as the rain gutter outside Trevor’s window, was diminished. Unbeknownst to any human, a dead crow lay in this gutter. No account can be retrieved for the life of this crow, for until its final landing it had dodged contact with any human. On this night, the black feathers of the bird had allowed it to escape the vision of any sentient being, to escape the label of an omen, to escape any definition whatsoever. To call it a crow is scarcely to be believed. If you happened to be standing inside the house, particularly in Trevor’s room and at his window, a shadow would have crossed your vision just on the other side. It would have been detached from any surface. With this unique freedom, the shadow would have meandered through space and come to rest beside a maple tree. The next day, when the shadow became a feather again, Trevor’s mother, Barb, would come across it but find no sort of blackbird or crow or raven in the tree. Despite her ability to see all that the sun penetrated with its light, she would not see then this particular crow, but would see that Trevor had withdrawn his curtain, obscuring the view of his room, and shake her head. But on this night and within this gutter the entire body of the crow was poised—its beak opened towards the sky, and nothing but the silent black passing between the V-like shape. The sky awaited its caw, and the dead crow delivered. Let us imagine what a dead crow caw must have sounded like here: Nothing, of course, could be heard of the crow over the disjointed sounds of Trevor’s mother rearranging dishware, cookware, silverware, and dinnerware in the kitchen. The kitchen walls reflected and distorted (ever so slightly) the agitated clinks beneath the hum of a bulb similar to the one that had just burned out in Trevor’s room above the silent dust and shadow. His room was directly above the kitchen. The clinks and other bits of sound seemed to dart quickly through his room, through the air and through the

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ing aimlessly past its corporeal self and toward the textured glass shower pane. Within the pane was a diffused and repeated image of his naked brother. At a moment not long after this, though neither was aware of it, the gazes of nearly one thousand Brians met the gaze of Trevor’s reflection. If so inclined, you could say that for a few seconds a thousand and one ghosts converged in an otherworldly steam, until a seductive and significantly colder air from another space lured the steam out of its ghost-nurturing existence and into a mediocre yet temperate atmosphere that trembled with the snores of Trevor’s father. Now, though, the suspension of the boy’s images in solid substances moved in fluid harmony. This sort of dance could not have been planned by the best of choreographers, because it was so mundane and ordinary. Despite this, every droplet of condensation felt so moved by the two entities that it could not help but mimic them upon a glassy surface. Trevor spit a mix of saliva and blue-green fluoride into the rush of faucet water. He turned the faucet off and walked toward the door. Once he reached the threshold, the muscles of the two boys slightly relaxed. Brian slowed his movements; Trevor let his weight sink more heavily into his feet. Trevor emerged from the bathroom after an elapsed time of roughly two minutes. His mouth open, he paused for a moment before going anywhere else. The scent of fresh mint hovered just below his nose but nowhere else in the house. A few granules of micro-abrasives lingered in the tiny fissures of his enamel, escaping the endless flow of slightly acidic saliva, which would rush them into his stomach. He moved toward his room, breaking the stillness of those glittering granules and abandoning the faint perfume of mint. The distance between Trevor and Brian increased as the sweetness of the perfume dissipated and was replaced by a sound—a loud, resonant snore. Just prior to Trevor’s entry into his room, several deep and truly black shadows found their repose beneath his bed, behind his dresser, and elsewhere in hidden crevices and corners. But with a quick upward gesture from a finger of Trevor’s hand, the shadows scattered and retreated to places unknown to you and me. In their place emerged arrangements equally unfamiliar to Trevor, the backs and undersides of his furniture, which had stood in a strange sort of limbo between deep shadow and semi-shadow for two decades. Each façade collected dust, and a few million particles about the room found a brief moment of freedom when the deepest pitch of Trevor’s father’s snore shook

them into the air. They would settle in the carpet filaments for several more years. During this brief and sudden squall of unseen dust, Trevor locked his door and fell asleep upon his bed. The electric light above him hummed with little else to do until, four minutes later, it burned out and never sang again. Outside, night had already fallen and reached its blackest. It was not a dreary night, but enough clouds had accumulated to obscure the moon and turn the world into shadow. Even the brightest white object, such as the rain gutter outside Trevor’s window, was diminished. Unbeknownst to any human, a dead crow lay in this gutter. No account can be retrieved for the life of this crow, for until its final landing it had dodged contact with any human. On this night, the black feathers of the bird had allowed it to escape the vision of any sentient being, to escape the label of an omen, to escape any definition whatsoever. To call it a crow is scarcely to be believed. If you happened to be standing inside the house, particularly in Trevor’s room and at his window, a shadow would have crossed your vision just on the other side. It would have been detached from any surface. With this unique freedom, the shadow would have meandered through space and come to rest beside a maple tree. The next day, when the shadow became a feather again, Trevor’s mother, Barb, would come across it but find no sort of blackbird or crow or raven in the tree. Despite her ability to see all that the sun penetrated with its light, she would not see then this particular crow, but would see that Trevor had withdrawn his curtain, obscuring the view of his room, and shake her head. But on this night and within this gutter the entire body of the crow was poised—its beak opened towards the sky, and nothing but the silent black passing between the V-like shape. The sky awaited its caw, and the dead crow delivered. Let us imagine what a dead crow caw must have sounded like here: Nothing, of course, could be heard of the crow over the disjointed sounds of Trevor’s mother rearranging dishware, cookware, silverware, and dinnerware in the kitchen. The kitchen walls reflected and distorted (ever so slightly) the agitated clinks beneath the hum of a bulb similar to the one that had just burned out in Trevor’s room above the silent dust and shadow. His room was directly above the kitchen. The clinks and other bits of sound seemed to dart quickly through his room, through the air and through the

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ceiling. The sounds were loud enough to make Brian lucidly dream of playing slot machines. The boys’ father simply snored. Between Trevor and his mother was a mouse, and with every sharp ting, click, clink, or rattle it darted from one unoccupied zone to the next. And with every dart several fleas darted across its soft gray fur, made black again by the shadows, then light again by a certain hole, then black again, and so forth. On this night, when there was a pause in the kitchen commotion, the fleas sunk their mandibles into the skin of the mouse. The mouse scratched, the fleas darted, Barb sighed, the mouse looked, the fleas looked, Barb closed her eyes, the father snored, Trevor rolled, the dust settled, the crow lost another feather, Brian coughed, the mouse darted, the fleas darted, the light bulbs hummed, the shadows darted, the light remained, Barb sucks her teeth– Barb drops the cow mug. For a moment, nothing happens, nothing registers, the snoring stops, and the mouse freezes. The cow mug, or ceramic cow pieces, lay fractured and act as a facture on the black-and-white tile floor beneath Trevor, the mouse, and Barb. Barb sees this and thinks to get the dustpan and brush. The mouse sees this and doesn’t think anything, but twitches its whiskers a little. The snoring resumes its regularity. The sound of the shattering mug makes Brian dream of winning the jackpot. In his dream he shouts and cries, but in reality he mumbles. Trevor and his father are in places in their dreams that are devoid of any cow mugs. You read this and think of a cow mug. I write this and am imagining you thinking of a cow mug. And so on. What is interesting is not the events that will follow—that Barb will dispose of the broken pieces, or that the mouse will continue scampering about, itching its flea-bitten skin, or that Trevor’s father, who had a notorious affinity for his cow mug (often, the boys were reprimanded for using it), will spend the next day in a sour mood and drinking coffee from an old, faded, and unbefitting Dallas Cowboys mug. Instead, the interesting thing is what happens to the space once defined by the cow mug. At one time, the space was much like a cylinder, and its top suggested both an entry and an exit for various fluids imported from spaces outside the house. Like many of the objects in Trevor’s house, it spent most of its time not moving, yet occasionally would

be shifted hastily from one space to the next, leaving behind a brief melodic riff as it collided with glass cups, punctuated by a sudden thud as its bottom brought the wood of the kitchen table to life. Yet as it hits the tile floor of the kitchen, the cylindrical space mushrooms, collapses, and spreads itself over a span of many fragmented mosaic pieces. Each piece has its own curvilinear surface, suggesting that the cylinder has transformed into undulating planes extending from the edge of each shard, creating the kind of surface you would expect to see in a desert. Barb shifts her feet through this desert and sweeps up imaginary grains of sand and ceramic chunks which, in their fourteen years of life as a solid piece, served to hold a cumulative amount of coffee that was somewhere over five thousand gallons. Those pieces will travel through many more stages before coming to rest in a dump far away from the house, from where they were manufactured, and from the ground from which their materials were gathered. Yet on their travels they will carry their infinitely stretching curved planes, which will intersect with similar beautiful planes from a plethora of open objects— exhaust from a motorcycle, trash cans, streetlights, broken glass, beams of light, shadows, and so on—before coming to rest in a massive heap of forgotten things, which is a pile that stretches so high and is so vast that one cannot distinguish one thing from another. The final scene will not be romantic; it will stink and be infested with bacteria, rodents, and birds. The noise of the garbage trucks will outdo all other sounds, and the smell of rotting food, fungus, mold, and refuse will overwhelm any lingering perfume. Yet many objects will come to know one another. Some, under the immense compressing power of trash compactors, will fuse with others and become something new, forever hidden within the compost pile. Some will live beneath the sea, some beneath the ground. I cannot tell you where the cow mug will find its place in the world or how long it will stay there, but the microcrystalline layers of fired clay, coated with translucent and pigmented glass, will now contain within their defined space an assortment of things that were never placed inside a coffee mug before. In the meantime, the glasses within the kitchen are as silent as the crow, and the pace of the house is set to the dance of everyday movements, the sighing of Barb, the distanced and slumbering brothers, and the snoring of Trevor’s father.

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ceiling. The sounds were loud enough to make Brian lucidly dream of playing slot machines. The boys’ father simply snored. Between Trevor and his mother was a mouse, and with every sharp ting, click, clink, or rattle it darted from one unoccupied zone to the next. And with every dart several fleas darted across its soft gray fur, made black again by the shadows, then light again by a certain hole, then black again, and so forth. On this night, when there was a pause in the kitchen commotion, the fleas sunk their mandibles into the skin of the mouse. The mouse scratched, the fleas darted, Barb sighed, the mouse looked, the fleas looked, Barb closed her eyes, the father snored, Trevor rolled, the dust settled, the crow lost another feather, Brian coughed, the mouse darted, the fleas darted, the light bulbs hummed, the shadows darted, the light remained, Barb sucks her teeth– Barb drops the cow mug. For a moment, nothing happens, nothing registers, the snoring stops, and the mouse freezes. The cow mug, or ceramic cow pieces, lay fractured and act as a facture on the black-and-white tile floor beneath Trevor, the mouse, and Barb. Barb sees this and thinks to get the dustpan and brush. The mouse sees this and doesn’t think anything, but twitches its whiskers a little. The snoring resumes its regularity. The sound of the shattering mug makes Brian dream of winning the jackpot. In his dream he shouts and cries, but in reality he mumbles. Trevor and his father are in places in their dreams that are devoid of any cow mugs. You read this and think of a cow mug. I write this and am imagining you thinking of a cow mug. And so on. What is interesting is not the events that will follow—that Barb will dispose of the broken pieces, or that the mouse will continue scampering about, itching its flea-bitten skin, or that Trevor’s father, who had a notorious affinity for his cow mug (often, the boys were reprimanded for using it), will spend the next day in a sour mood and drinking coffee from an old, faded, and unbefitting Dallas Cowboys mug. Instead, the interesting thing is what happens to the space once defined by the cow mug. At one time, the space was much like a cylinder, and its top suggested both an entry and an exit for various fluids imported from spaces outside the house. Like many of the objects in Trevor’s house, it spent most of its time not moving, yet occasionally would

be shifted hastily from one space to the next, leaving behind a brief melodic riff as it collided with glass cups, punctuated by a sudden thud as its bottom brought the wood of the kitchen table to life. Yet as it hits the tile floor of the kitchen, the cylindrical space mushrooms, collapses, and spreads itself over a span of many fragmented mosaic pieces. Each piece has its own curvilinear surface, suggesting that the cylinder has transformed into undulating planes extending from the edge of each shard, creating the kind of surface you would expect to see in a desert. Barb shifts her feet through this desert and sweeps up imaginary grains of sand and ceramic chunks which, in their fourteen years of life as a solid piece, served to hold a cumulative amount of coffee that was somewhere over five thousand gallons. Those pieces will travel through many more stages before coming to rest in a dump far away from the house, from where they were manufactured, and from the ground from which their materials were gathered. Yet on their travels they will carry their infinitely stretching curved planes, which will intersect with similar beautiful planes from a plethora of open objects— exhaust from a motorcycle, trash cans, streetlights, broken glass, beams of light, shadows, and so on—before coming to rest in a massive heap of forgotten things, which is a pile that stretches so high and is so vast that one cannot distinguish one thing from another. The final scene will not be romantic; it will stink and be infested with bacteria, rodents, and birds. The noise of the garbage trucks will outdo all other sounds, and the smell of rotting food, fungus, mold, and refuse will overwhelm any lingering perfume. Yet many objects will come to know one another. Some, under the immense compressing power of trash compactors, will fuse with others and become something new, forever hidden within the compost pile. Some will live beneath the sea, some beneath the ground. I cannot tell you where the cow mug will find its place in the world or how long it will stay there, but the microcrystalline layers of fired clay, coated with translucent and pigmented glass, will now contain within their defined space an assortment of things that were never placed inside a coffee mug before. In the meantime, the glasses within the kitchen are as silent as the crow, and the pace of the house is set to the dance of everyday movements, the sighing of Barb, the distanced and slumbering brothers, and the snoring of Trevor’s father.

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CONTRIBUTORS

S. ANDREW ALBITZ (Acting '13) graduated from Booker T. Washington H.S. for the Performing and Visual Arts in Dallas, TX. He would like to say that this publication, along with any other student-driven projects that allow us to experiment with original work, are inherently awesome. So are the professors who facilitate them. ANGELIQUE BENRAHOU (Illustration '14) My art is influenced by having lived

in Rabat, Morocco. I invite others to my created worlds through imagery and words. When not working, I mooch food from my friends. I also like scarves. KAIHLY BROUHARD (Illustration '12) was raised as the eldest of four in a

family best described as a three-ring circus with only two rings. She has since escaped to Philadelphia to reside with a pair of semi-dysfunctional felines. ELLEN DUDA (Illustration '12) is a girl from the South who loves bright

colors, cookies and beautiful design. After she graduates, she plans to live on a bus and travel around the country. MICHAEL ENGLISIS (Film '12) is a lonely white male, 22, seeking quality

bicycles and endless desert roads, and roads that lie beyond those roads, and roads further still . . . JOE GRANATO (Graphic Design '13) is currently spending his quarter-life

crisis playing surf rock, carrying dogs on his shoulders, swimming in quarries and wearing American flags. He hopes his midlife crisis will be similar, with the addition of five to ten children. JAMES HAM (Graphic Design '12) I am a graphic designer and I was a

professional wrestler. The fiction writing workshops at this school are excellent. Through them, I learned a third way to tell stories. SE NSE OF P LAC E

C h r i s t o p h e r Wa r r i n g t o n

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CONTRIBUTORS

S. ANDREW ALBITZ (Acting '13) graduated from Booker T. Washington H.S. for the Performing and Visual Arts in Dallas, TX. He would like to say that this publication, along with any other student-driven projects that allow us to experiment with original work, are inherently awesome. So are the professors who facilitate them. ANGELIQUE BENRAHOU (Illustration '14) My art is influenced by having lived

in Rabat, Morocco. I invite others to my created worlds through imagery and words. When not working, I mooch food from my friends. I also like scarves. KAIHLY BROUHARD (Illustration '12) was raised as the eldest of four in a

family best described as a three-ring circus with only two rings. She has since escaped to Philadelphia to reside with a pair of semi-dysfunctional felines. ELLEN DUDA (Illustration '12) is a girl from the South who loves bright

colors, cookies and beautiful design. After she graduates, she plans to live on a bus and travel around the country. MICHAEL ENGLISIS (Film '12) is a lonely white male, 22, seeking quality

bicycles and endless desert roads, and roads that lie beyond those roads, and roads further still . . . JOE GRANATO (Graphic Design '13) is currently spending his quarter-life

crisis playing surf rock, carrying dogs on his shoulders, swimming in quarries and wearing American flags. He hopes his midlife crisis will be similar, with the addition of five to ten children. JAMES HAM (Graphic Design '12) I am a graphic designer and I was a

professional wrestler. The fiction writing workshops at this school are excellent. Through them, I learned a third way to tell stories. SE NSE OF P LAC E

C h r i s t o p h e r Wa r r i n g t o n

UNDERGROUND POOL

69


ANDY HOOD (Illustration '12) lives in Philadelphia. One of Andy’s favorite

musicians is Townes Van Zandt. Townes is inspirational mainly due to his ability to make old, worked and worn men cry and his lifelong consistency. RACHEL HOWARD (Film '14) likes sad music and walking out of buildings.

LEAH ROMERO (Illustration '12) is an Ecuadorian-American Illustration

student. She loves puppies, long walks and food.

CORINNE SANDKUHLER (Sculpture '15) from Baltimore, Maryland loves

She works in a grocery store where she usually stocks products containing one or more form of corn.

manipulating unconventional materials and working with her hands. She also has lifelong experience creating two-dimensional pieces in mediums like watercolor, pastel and ink.

JAMES KAMINSKI (Illustration '12) gathers inspiration from comics, music,

JONATHAN VADERS (Film '15) was born and raised in Northeast Philadelphia.

movies and a vast nerdy knowledge of cheesy '60s television. His website is www.kaminskivision.com.

KEVIN KYPERS (Animation '12) Vaschel Fischer-Kypers is the proud French-

Canadian son of a barrel maker and a fisherman. He eats French toast, croissants and Canadian bacon. He wants you to “friend” him on Facebook and talk about his mustache. KELSEY NIZIOLEK (Illustration '12) is, according to ChaCha, a girl who has

JOEL VERNILE (Illustration '14) is a 21-year-old sophomore studying Illustration.

He likes to write about weird drugs and transgenders and everything in between, and would like to combine his creative writing with his artwork.

CHRISTOPHER WARRINGTON (Illustration '12) uses the playfulness of children’s book imagery to add a new take on everyday subject matter that can be interpreted by viewers of any age.

blonde hair and likes to wear sunglasses. Besides her love for art, Kelsey enjoys sparkly things, watching B-list horror movies, and peeling glue off of her hands after it dries.

PAUL WINTER (Painting/Drawing '12) I believe that I visualize better when

KATE O’HARA (Illustration '14) is an Illustration major and Typography minor.

GEORGE WYLESOL (Illustration '12) is more of a dog person, but cats are cool

She is 20 and is from Reno, Nevada.

KATHLEEN PREMIAN (Illustration '12) Kathleen’s Filipino background influences

her bright bold taste in art.

CARLOS RIOS (Writing for Film & Television '14) is a North Philly-bred

I write than when I paint. Perhaps it is because my left brain is occupied by language that my right brain is free to do what it wants. too. He works as a TV repairman but isn’t very good at it. He lives with his parents in Northeast Philly.

VERONICA ZABCZYNSKI (Writing for Film & Television '14) is a Philadelphia

native who likes black coffee, the smell of laundry, and Audrey Hepburn.

writer. He does some other stuff, too. But that’s not in this magazine.

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71


ANDY HOOD (Illustration '12) lives in Philadelphia. One of Andy’s favorite

musicians is Townes Van Zandt. Townes is inspirational mainly due to his ability to make old, worked and worn men cry and his lifelong consistency. RACHEL HOWARD (Film '14) likes sad music and walking out of buildings.

LEAH ROMERO (Illustration '12) is an Ecuadorian-American Illustration

student. She loves puppies, long walks and food.

CORINNE SANDKUHLER (Sculpture '15) from Baltimore, Maryland loves

She works in a grocery store where she usually stocks products containing one or more form of corn.

manipulating unconventional materials and working with her hands. She also has lifelong experience creating two-dimensional pieces in mediums like watercolor, pastel and ink.

JAMES KAMINSKI (Illustration '12) gathers inspiration from comics, music,

JONATHAN VADERS (Film '15) was born and raised in Northeast Philadelphia.

movies and a vast nerdy knowledge of cheesy '60s television. His website is www.kaminskivision.com.

KEVIN KYPERS (Animation '12) Vaschel Fischer-Kypers is the proud French-

Canadian son of a barrel maker and a fisherman. He eats French toast, croissants and Canadian bacon. He wants you to “friend” him on Facebook and talk about his mustache. KELSEY NIZIOLEK (Illustration '12) is, according to ChaCha, a girl who has

JOEL VERNILE (Illustration '14) is a 21-year-old sophomore studying Illustration.

He likes to write about weird drugs and transgenders and everything in between, and would like to combine his creative writing with his artwork.

CHRISTOPHER WARRINGTON (Illustration '12) uses the playfulness of children’s book imagery to add a new take on everyday subject matter that can be interpreted by viewers of any age.

blonde hair and likes to wear sunglasses. Besides her love for art, Kelsey enjoys sparkly things, watching B-list horror movies, and peeling glue off of her hands after it dries.

PAUL WINTER (Painting/Drawing '12) I believe that I visualize better when

KATE O’HARA (Illustration '14) is an Illustration major and Typography minor.

GEORGE WYLESOL (Illustration '12) is more of a dog person, but cats are cool

She is 20 and is from Reno, Nevada.

KATHLEEN PREMIAN (Illustration '12) Kathleen’s Filipino background influences

her bright bold taste in art.

CARLOS RIOS (Writing for Film & Television '14) is a North Philly-bred

I write than when I paint. Perhaps it is because my left brain is occupied by language that my right brain is free to do what it wants. too. He works as a TV repairman but isn’t very good at it. He lives with his parents in Northeast Philly.

VERONICA ZABCZYNSKI (Writing for Film & Television '14) is a Philadelphia

native who likes black coffee, the smell of laundry, and Audrey Hepburn.

writer. He does some other stuff, too. But that’s not in this magazine.

UNDERGROUND POOL

71


PHILLY IN S PR INGT I M E

Ellen Duda


PHILLY IN S PR INGT I M E

Ellen Duda


Spring 2012

Profile for The University of the Arts

Underground Pool 2012  

The student literary magazine of the University of the Arts

Underground Pool 2012  

The student literary magazine of the University of the Arts

Profile for uarts
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