honors arts, literature, and research
EDITOR’S NOTE In my second year running Second Story Journal, I decided I wanted to take the magazine to the next level. I submitted Second Story Journal’s ninth volume to the North Carolina College Media Association 2017 Statewide College Media Awards. Competing against college literary journals from across the state, Second Story Journal took first place in the fiction category for Nikki Kroushl’s piece, “Happy,” and scored an honorable mention in poetry for K. Layne Smith’s “Samaritan.” (Don’t forget: you can always read these award-winning pieces and others published in past issues of Second Story Journal by visiting us at https://uncw.edu/ honors/newsletters1/second-story-journal. html.) Another big change this semester was the addition of our new layout editor, Megan Travers, who trained with graduating editor Logan Prochaska and has brought her own stylistic sensibilities to this year’s design. This is Second Story’s tenth edition, a big anniversary. This magazine began as an experiment: could UNCW’s honors college students generate enough quality content to warrant their own literary magazine? The answer was an overwhelming yes. Our honors college is filled with talented individuals from diverse backgrounds who have 1
a lot to say with their work. Second Story Journal has carved out a place for itself here at UNCW as the literary magazine dedicated to some of our most talented voices, and I am excited that it now has accolades to show for it. Second Story Journal continues to evolve, but one thing remains the same: our dedication to publishing amazing creative and critical work from talented honors students. Caleb Horowitz Editor-in-Chief
EDITORS & STAFF editor-in-chief
caleb horowitz is a junior studying En-
glish and Creative Writing. He is the copy editor of Atlantis and the Vice President of UNCWâ€™s Writersâ€™ Association. Caleb is always in crisis mode because he tries to do too many things at once, but you can always count on him to tell you random facts about penguins or The Legend of Zelda.
megan travers is a junior at UNCW, majoring in Film Studies with a minor in Digital Arts. She loves drawing and writing, and so has a special intest in animation (especially traditional animation) and screenwriting. She also enjoys graphic design and is on the copyediting commitee for Atlantis.
SELECTION VOLUNTEER ashley spillane
TABLE OF CONTENTS Mushroom in the Marsh | Cover Nicole Webster | Photography Itching | 5 Summer Young| Fiction Framed | 6 Logan Prochaska | Photography Denali Dreamer | 7 Emily Grose | Photography The Ornithologist | 9 Rachylle Hart | Poetry Evergreen Dreams | 10 Summer Young | Photography Global Capitalismâ€™s Impacts on Sex Trafficking | 11 Savannah Miller | Academic Megaptera novaeangliae | 19 Nicole Webster | Photography Mercy Doesn't Pay | 21 Nikki Kroushl | Poetry
Candlelight | 22 Nikki Kroushl | Fiction You Looking at Me | 24 Emma Stiles | Photography So You Want to Be | 25 Nicholas Roche | Poetry Gifts | 27 Nikki Kroushl | Fiction Seward Harbor | 33 Nicole Webster | Photography Contributors | 35
Every time I go home, I come back with flea bites. I try to convince myself they are from the mosquitos that seem to swarm invisibly after a warm, wet rain at school, but when I find them tucked under my breasts and spread across my stomach, it’s hard to swallow that lie. The bites on my stomach are one shy of making the big dipper, which is just the bright side of something still ending up dim. Cortisone doesn’t quell the itch for long; I know I’ll end up back home before the bites heal, lying awake in bed with my brain scratching at my skull and my hands itching to scratch everywhere else. I spread flea powder once, the day after I kicked up a fuss to my mother about the state of the house. She had stormed off in a huff, bringing back two sprays and a shaker, saying, “If it bothers you so damn much, then fix it.” So that following morning, I sprayed the dogs with one bottle, sprayed the couch with the other, and powdered the whole damn carpet, along with all the things that I couldn’t cram into the washing machine. I stripped the pillows my brother slept on, where he was still seventeen and
stuck in the house and choosing the couch over his room upstairs. The last time I asked why, he said it was because the ceiling in his room was too near his face, and he felt his own breath blow back at him too often, too warm. So he stays on the couch downstairs with the vaulted ceiling by his head, the dogs by his feet, and the master bedroom a few feet away, just off the foyer. When I come home, I stay in my room, upstairs, all alone. I prefer it that way, even with the forever-broken thermostat that there’s no point in fixing; it’s not like I live there anymore. I imagined the dogs were grateful for me spraying them. I could believe it from the way their brown eyes only looked at me, while I focused on watching the fleas creep out from under the comfort of their fur. Damn bugs kept leaping for a carpet I chuckled to know couldn’t save them. I watched the dogs, and I watched the fleas, and I hoped that I would feel the same way when I left the house—that all the problems that came with coming home might finally stop siphoning my life blood, and I could be away away away. I worry, instead, I am the flea.
FRAMED logan prochaska
DENALI DREAMER emily grose
THE ORNITHOLOGIST rachylle hart
She served him toast every morning And he scooped ice cream into his coffee opening the same magazine he read yesterday while she watched out the window at the bird feeder where the brilliant cardinals fought off natural evolution swerving bashful blue birds and robust robins A rumpus of feasting and flight She thought she might like to be a bird She might like that very much.
EVERGREEN DREAMS summer young
GLOBAL CAPITALISM'S IMPACTS ON SEX TRAFFICKING
Global capitalism’s impact on society is constantly increasing because of cultural crossovers and interconnectedness around the world. Today, we live in an extremely global and diverse society and, because of this, interactions between people from very different places are almost inevitable. Many industries have utilized this expansion of culture and global markets to their advantage. A prime example of global capitalism’s heightened influence across the world is its effects on human trafficking, specifically the sex trafficking industry. These impacts include making more people vulnerable to being trafficked, increasing the profits for the exploiters, increasing the demand for cheap forced labor, advancing transportation methods, and expanding the market for the coercion and exploitation of human beings, all stemming from the social and economic processes of global capitalism. Human sex trafficking, although seemingly self-explanatory, is in fact a complex system of abuses, including an array of illegal and immor-
al misconduct that is present throughout the world. The sex trafficking industry is a seemingly never-ending cycle of recruitment, transportation and exploitation that is controlled by the supply and demand of sex. The recent globalization of the world has now made it both easier and cheaper to traffic people. As a result, the supply of and demand for sex trafficking have increased. Sex trafficking itself is a global market, having “two components: slave trading and slavery. Slave trading represents the supply side of the sex trafficking industry. Slavery represents the demand side.”1 The expansion of new global markets has created a huge demand for cheap labor, and the investors, also known as the exploiters, are competing in a race to the bottom to find the cheapest sex slavery available to make profits from. “The ability of many businesses to stay competitive in a globalizing economy depends on the capacity to assemble and retain a labor force for the least amount of investment.”2 These lower labor costs allow exploiters to meet the global demand for sex slav-
ery, which, unfortunately, is present throughout the globe. There are five tenets of capitalism: private property, self-interest, competition, supply and demand, and lassiez-faire. The differing views on global capitalism are based off these five tenets of capitalism, but the sex trafficking industry is most influenced by supply and demand, competition, and self-interest. Global capitalism appears to increase all three of these. Expanding markets allows for more competition due to self-interest, which in return fluctuates supply and demand. For many industries, this is extremely profitable, including the sex trafficking industry for the investors. Contrastingly, from a moral standpoint, the increase in supply and demand, competition, and self-interest in the sex trafficking industry is devastating. Those who are trafficked for sex experience traumatizing mental and physical abuse, and the spread of this inhumane act is always detrimental to the lives of the trafficked. Views on the influence of global capitalism on the world vary greatly, having many critics and supporters. For example, Swedish author and historian Johan Norberg claims that global capitalism promotes democracy and free trade brings prosperity for all. Many supporters also believe that globalization is inevitable in today’s world and occurs naturally.
On the other hand, many people view global capitalism as being destructive and almost imperialistic. Bigger countries and industries can take over smaller ones and use them to their advantage while devastating those cultures that are ruled over. Some also take the stance that free trade only increases the powers of investors and that global capitalism exposes countries to immigrants that could demoralize the country they are fleeing into. Although sex trafficking is considered by most a horrendous act and is illegal in many places throughout the world, both positive and negative impacts of global capitalism on sex trafficking exist, and those impacts depend on a person’s position within the human trafficking market. Global capitalism has also caused the commoditization of many goods and services to increase. The commoditization of a good or service is “when a product becomes indistinguishable from others like it and consumers buy on price alone.”3 The growth of global capitalism demands the continuing development of commodities, but this does not come without consequences. “Many elements of social life that once remained outside the realm of commodity exchange must now be commodified in order to create new markets and to protect or expand profit.”4 These elements of commoditization can be seen in many 12
modern products and services such as gas, laundry services, auto parts and construction materials. In addition to the commoditization of things many consider to be well-known goods and services that are used daily, the commoditization of humans has also risen. More transparency of borders, advancements in transportation, and increased supply and demand of sex have turned the sex trafficking industry into a human commodity chain that works in similar ways to others such as gas. “Globalization has positioned the human supplier in a ‘privileged place’ because that supplier provides a highly adaptable and durable ‘human commodity’ that satisfies the growing demand for cheap or free labor and sexual pleasure.”5 This commoditization of humans not only makes the industry more profitable for the exploiters, but it also adds to the complete demoralization of the unfortunate human beings who are coerced and forced into the trade because they are now simply thought of as goods rather than people. The evolution of the sex trafficking industry as a global market is done at the expense of the exploited, who tend to be poor, uneducated people unprotected by laws and any legislation. Less developed countries that lack sufficient enforcement of human rights and government intervention are targeted because the traffickers
know that forced labor is cheapest and easiest to find within these countries. The growing irrelevance to borders has made this process even easier for the investors in this industry to reach their prime candidates for exploitation and the process of globalization is responsible for this. Globalization carries global capitalism across the world which in turn carries the global sex industry across the world as well. The increased permeability of borders has made the transportation of sex slaves easier, so what may have begun as a national industry within a country has now become an international trade with no home base. As a result, competition increases, which increases demand, which increases self-interest to supply more to meet that demand. Again, the sex trafficking industry is a circle with no apparent end and is only stimulated by global capitalism. Sex trafficking is present in every part of the world, but in some countries and cities, its impact is more evident than in others. “The majority of the world’s human trafficking victims live or originate in Asia…men frequenting prostitutes is deeply engrained in the culture of many Asian societies. Therefore, brothel keepers and those running entertainment businesses secure trafficked women to meet the demand.”6 The Annual Trafficking in Persons Report has a tier system in which they rank coun-
either tier one, tier two, or tier three based on that country’s compliance to the minimum standards for the Trafficking Victims Protection Act. Tier one is complete compliance and tier three is little or no compliance. Thailand is ranked a tier three country because “the Government of Thailand does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking, and is not making significant efforts to do so. Thailand investigated and prosecuted some cases against corrupt officials involved in trafficking but trafficking-related corruption continued to impede progress in combating trafficking.”7 Thailand is known to be a country with some of the greatest presence of sex trafficking in the world and a main reason for this is the lack of government intervention, regulation, and enforcement to prevent this immoral industry from continuing to grow. The U.S. Department of State offers recommendations of what Thailand should do to combat sex trafficking, including increasing investigations, prosecutions, and convictions in the sex trade. In order for these solutions to be put in place, the government of Thailand must become more active in battling the sex trade industry. Japan is another Asian country that is a major destination for sex trafficking and trading. While Thailand is ranked with a tier three
placement, Japan is ranked with a tier two placement, meaning Japan’s government does “not fully comply with the TVPA's minimum standards, but [is] making significant efforts to bring themselves into compliance with those standards.”8 Japan’s government has recently become more involved in combatting the sex trafficking industry because of the growing awareness and acceptance of the immorality of the entire trade. The government of Japan has increased its persecutions and convictions of traffickers and increased efforts to protect trafficking victims. Japan has seen some progress, but the U.S. State Department suggests that Japan’s government should update the legal framework to fully criminalize all forms of trafficking in accordance with the definition in international law and “increase the penalty for trafficking offenses by eliminating the alternative of a fine to a prison sentence.”9 In order for Japan to continue making efforts to combat sex trafficking and to actually experience improvements throughout the country, the government must enact more straightforward and strict legislation to convict traffickers. While poorer countries and cities are hubs for sex trafficking and brothels, larger and more developed countries are not any more innocent of these atrocities. The act of sex tourism in developed countries has 14
grown with the expansion of global capitalism around the world. Sex tourism is to travel for the purpose of engaging in sexual activity. This type of tourism, especially in developed countries such as the United States and in Europe, appears to be less crude and coercive compared to the abuse of poor women and children in the sex trafficking industries of less developed countries such as the ones mentioned earlier. Tourism in general has increased with the expansion of global capitalism and the irrelevance of borders because travel has become both easier and cheaper. This has transformed sex trafficking into sex tourism in developed countries, which many perceive to be innocent of sex trafficking. Take for example the Netherlands, a tier one ranked country under the Trafficking Victims Protection Act. Although the Netherlands is ranked tier one, the sex trafficking industry remains and is very prevalent in that society. The Netherlands even have several organizations that are devoted to protecting prostitution. One of these organizations includes the Prostitute Information Center, which is an informational center for tourists and prostitutes about sex tourism. “The goals of the center are diverse education around STD and AIDS prevention, information about prices for sex work, courses to prepare newcomers for sex work and information
about how and where to sell sexual labor.”10 This approach to combatting sex trafficking is much different than what the U.S. State Department recommended to both Thailand and Japan, which was mainly more government intervention and enforcement of laws. Given all this information about the effects of global capitalism on sex trafficking, the question arises: how does society as a whole best combat the negative impacts of global capitalism on sex trafficking, if it is even possible to do so? Many have concluded that “decreasing the incidence of human trafficking requires collaboration across professional fields to discover and handle limited agency. Examples of this include law enforcement that deals with coercion by traffickers during transportation, infractions of immigration law, and the use of exploited labour.”11 This kind of solution is very similar to what the U.S. Department of State suggested for Thailand and Japan to combat sex trafficking. This calls for increased involvement of the government, which contrasts one of capitalism’s objectives, laissez-faire, meaning “hands-off” in relation to government intervention. Capitalism says that free trade is best left to its own devices, but when it comes to the sex trafficking industry, the more lassiez-faire the market is, the worse the trade becomes for the
trafficked. If there is less government intervention in the sex trafficking trade, which means less enforcement of laws and regulations of the trade and possibly even fewer laws overall, those who are trafficked lose their protection. People who are already in the trafficking circle are less likely to be drawn out from it because there is no one to persecute their exploiters. And people who are subject to being trafficked are more likely to be coerced into the trade because traffickers are not shut down before they reach new targets. Following the recommendations of the U.S. State Department for increased government intervention, which opposes the lassiez-faire doctrine of global capitalism, may work best for less developed countries, but may prove to be extremely inefficient in developed countries such as the Netherlands where sex trafficking is an accepted and supported industry. The negative impacts of global capitalism on sex trafficking will never have one simple solution that everyone in the world can use. Depending on the situations within each country and sometimes within each city, fighting the atrocities of the sex trafficking trade must cater to the individual situations of different places around the world. As mentioned earlier, stricter and more hands-on government is most likely the best
solution for the majority of tier three ranked countries. When it comes to countries where prostitution is considered a career, the public should take more action to protect those in the sex industry rather than having the government crackdown with more laws and regulations. Those countries like the Netherlands need less government intervention and more public involvement to educate everyone about the trade, safety precautions and ways to become involved in the trade in ways which do not cause harm. These are only suggested solutions to a worldwide problem that requires the efforts of everyone to minimize the negative effects of sex trafficking and maximize the positive effects of it. Global capitalism is a relatively new concept that is constantly changing our society and markets. Its impacts vary widely across the world and influence different industries in different ways. Furthermore, criticisms and admonishments of global capitalism depend on the type of industry global capitalism is impacting. While many economists analyze global capitalismâ€™s effects of materialistic goods and services such as agriculture and machinery, the effects of global capitalism on sex trafficking do not seem to be a priority in todayâ€™s society. In reality, global capitalism has major impacts on sex trafficking and unfortunately, from a moral standpoint, 16
those impacts are all negative. More transparent borders cause people to become more vulnerable to trafficking, which encourages sex traffickers to coerce and exploit more humans to make more profit to meet the increased demand of cheap and forced labor. While this cyclical process is most evident in less developed countries, other more developed countries have sex trafficking industries that work differently. Because the sex trafficking industry is not the same throughout the world, solutions to resist the negative impacts of global capitalism on this industry must be made in accordance to the way the trade works within that country. This could range from complete government intervention to none at all, but no matter what the situation is, the main goal for everyone in the world should be to limit the suffering of others.
Footnotes Siddharth Kara, Sex Trafficking: Inside the Business of Modern Slavery (Columbia University Press, 2009): 5.
Luz Estella Nagle, “Selling Souls: The Effect of Globalization on Human Trafficking and Forced Servitude,” Wisconsin International Law Journal, (2008): 139.
Investopedia, http://www.investopedia. com/terms/c/commoditize.asp (accessed April 01, 2017). Nancy A. Wonders and Raymond Michalowski, “Bodies, Borders, and Sex Tourism in a Globalized World: A Tale of Two Cities-Amsterdam and Havana,” Social Problems (July 30, 2014): 548. 4
Nagle, “Selling Souls,” 151.
Louise Shelley, Human Trafficking: A Global Perspective (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2010): 142-143. 6
U.S. Department of State Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons, “Thailand,” State.gov, www.state.gov (accessed April 01, 2017). 7
U.S. Department of State Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons, “Japan,” State.gov (accessed April 01, 2017). 8
U.S. Department of State, “Japan.”
Wonders, “Bodies, Borders, and Sex Tourism in a Globalized World,” 556. 10
Investopedia Staff, “Commoditization,”
Elizabeth M. Wheaton, “Economics of Human Trafficking,” International Organization for Migration, (19 July 2010). 11
Bibliography Kara, Siddharth. Sex Trafficking: Inside the Business of Modern Slavery. Columbia University Press, 2009.
Sex Tourism in a Globalized World: A Tale of Two Cities-Amsterdam and Havana.” Social Problems. (July 30, 2014).
Nagle, Luz Estella. “Selling Souls: The Effect of Globalization on Human Trafficking and Forced Servitude.” Wisconsin International Law Journal (2008). Shelley, Louise. Human Trafficking: A Global Perspective. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2010. Staff, Investopedia. “Commoditization.” Investopedia. http://www. investopedia.com/terms/c/commoditize.asp. (accessed April 01, 2017). U.S. Department of State Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons. “Japan.” State.gov. www.state. gov (accessed April 01, 20717). U.S. Department of State Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons. “Thailand.” State.gov. www. state.gov (accessed April 01, 2017). Wheaton, Elizabeth M. “Economics of Human Trafficking.” International Organization for Migration (19 July 2010). Wonders, Nancy A., and Raymond Michalowski. “Bodies, Borders, and 18
MEGAPTERA NOVAEVANGLIAE nicole webster
MERCY DOESN'T PAY nikki kroushl
i read a poem once about a cricket a cockroachâ€”some thing about it being a good samaritan, theres beauty in all things, et cetera. but. in my 540 sq ft apartment i battle fruit flies who like the litterbox better than the basket of bananas on the counter top. i cant stand the thought of their legs on my skin featherlight & crawling the touch of decay of natures tiniest vultures clinging to my arm hairs. i ve become an aspiring fruit fly murderer. i bought apple cider vinegarâ€”placed lemon halves in a vase & carefully constructed a paper funnel & i have one fly drowned in maple syrup
to show for it. and so far it s so much easier so much ease, to roll up a magazine & smash their tiny vulture guts
so far, sugar maple syrup drowning dream ing death: one blunt trauma all over body (insectoid) body: dozens. did you know the german word for dream is traum?
CANDLELIGHT nikki kroushl
She does some of the noblest work on earth; still, she comes home exhausted, wishing she didn’t have to work at all. I wrote a poem about her once. The opening lines went as follows: My mother was a slow-burning candle in the kind of rain / That could choke a bonfire. *** I order a planner online for the new year. It has a goal section at the front. Every week’s layout has a list of time slots running from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. and a to-do list. I color-code the time slots; I plan out every moment of every day; I organize and attack my to-do list as if idleness and obscurity are monsters under the bed at night. My mother comes into my room with the laundry basket. When she sees my planner, she frowns. “Mona,” she says, “isn’t that a little unhealthy?” “It’s how I keep my sanity,” I tell her. “I’m taking eighteen hours next semester, Mom.” I don’t tell her that the real reason I’m tracking everything is to find a formula. I need to find the way from A plus B to C, and if I fuck up along the way, I need to be able to figure out what went wrong and fix it. I
“I used to like feeling déjà vu,” my mother says in the kitchen one day while I am home for winter break. “It made me feel like I was doing what I was supposed to do.” “Used to?” my brother asks, spinning in circles on top of the stool at the kitchen counter. My mother returns to peeling clementines and says: “I used to get it a lot when I was younger. Not so much now.” I wonder, quietly, if my mother grew out of her déjà vu, or if she stopped feeling it because she stopped feeling like she was doing what she was supposed to. What felt right. What felt like the life she was supposed to be living. I look at my mother: her round cheeks, her halo of curly black hair, the pale callouses on her hands as she peels clementines and drops the skinned balls onto a red plate. I think about the woman who is always cooking dinner, doing laundry, letting the dogs out, and miraculously finding lost objects. I think about how she is a pediatrician, how she spends three days a week healing children. Dealing with crazy parents, she’d say. Seeing knocked-up teen girls, boys with chlamydia, kids with mysterious bruises.
need to be able to find which step I skipped. Which dream I forgot about. I want to be having déjà vu at fifty years old; I want to feel like I’m doing what I’m supposed to do. I don’t want the quiet, domestic American suburbia standard that sucks the color out of people. The next few lines of the poem I wrote about my mother go: She didn’t try to shine and instead, my mother / Scraped the substance of herself out / To shape other people from the wax. / To shape me from the wax. My mother shakes her head; at length, she puts the laundry basket down on my bed. “Just remember to relax every once in a while,” she says as she kisses my hair and leaves. I don’t want to relax: I want to shine. *** When I get back to the dorm after break, I miss her. It always happens this way. I miss all the things she does for me, of course; I miss not having to do my own laundry, and I miss her home-cooked meals. But more than that, I miss her: her ridiculous, off-key renditions of “You Are My Sunshine”; her long, body-swaying hugs when she comes home from work; her voice climbing octaves as she coos at the dogs; the
way she sits curled up in a corner of the couch watching The Young and the Restless every weekday at 4 p.m. I text her this a lot: “I miss you.” I tell her when I call her every few days. And eventually, it occurs to me that my mother does not need color-coded tasks and goals and achievements to be important. She may be a lone candle in a dark room, perhaps small and subtle, but without her the room would be lightless. She has never gone out. I always wanted to be a shooting star—but how long do those last? A couple of seconds? My mother has been the light of my world for a lifetime, without my even realizing it. When I call my mom in February, I ask her: “Mom?” “Yeah, babe?” she says. “Why don’t you get déjà vu anymore?” I say. She hesitates on the other end of the line. “I guess,” she says, “I just don’t need it anymore. I already know what I’m supposed to be doing.” I rewrite the final lines of the poem about my mother so that they say: When people tell me that I am like her / The raindrops falling on my fire / Sizzle and evaporate into thin air.
YOU LOOKING AT ME emma stiles
photography 12 24
SO YOU WANT TO BE nicholas roche
if it’s waltzing to vivaldi on the top of your skull, let it sing. if it’s bent in hysterics and rolling like mad, let it carry on. if it’s chained to your vices, in search of truth, let it free. if it’s kneeling with allen and humming serenely, let it be. if it’s worn and weary from the songs of the morning and the silence of the night, let it rest. if it’s bursting with energy, in dean’s manic blindness, let it lead. if it’s braking and freezing, shivering in sin, let it warm.
don’t be like so many of us, don’t be like the ones who suppress the cries and pretend to miss the signs.
donâ€™t be like the proud and heroic, suffering in silence. the mothers of the world have slept many a tearful night over this conscious remiss: your kind. donâ€™t add to that. donâ€™t do it.
instead, hold its hand and let it breathe. let it crawl. let it preach. let it wrestle. let it relax. let it love. but most importantly, let it live. because when it is truly time, and when you have been chosen, you will know it. and it will know you. as there is no other way. and there never was.
My apartment is covered with my mother’s art: crochet bath mats, crochet coasters, crochet afghans, crochet potholders. In twenty years, I have accumulated sweaters, ponchos, scarves, beanies. Rucksacks. Stuffed koalas. Pillowcases. Slippers. Belts. Socks for the cat. Erick has also benefited from her long-suffering fingers—cardigans, socks, wrist rests for his work computer, cell phone cases. I wonder how many of these things we would get away with stowing in the crawlspace if she weren’t coming over twice a week for tea or wine. One week, we are visiting her for wine. If our apartment is festooned, Mom’s is worse: a separate afghan folded over the back of each couch, clumsy thick doilies hung over the arms, wall hangings, rugs, three different oven mitts, a laptop case under the coffee table for a laptop that doesn’t exist. I decline the Riesling and tell her I’m pregnant, and her eyes light up with a lovely hazel glow. She is a pediatric nurse: her whole life she has loved babies. Her whole life she has said to me, “I can’t wait for you to have a daughter.” She steeples her pale, thick-knuckled fingers and smiles. “Well,” she says, “let me know what colors you want.”
“Oh, there’s no need for that,” Erick says. “We can just have one from the Stash.” (The Stash: the stockpile of baby sweaters that my mom maintains at all times.) My mother shakes her finger and tuts. “No, no, no,” she says. “The Stash is for the ladies at work. I want to make this one special.” I put a hand over my stomach, an action that feels alien and pointless because I’m not showing yet. My hand stays there all through the car ride home. I can’t explain the anxiety, the tightness that settles around my throat and collarbones like one of my mother’s scarves wrapped soft and too-tight. It’s more than my usual pregnancy fears of all the things that could go wrong and all the things (morning sickness, labor) that are going to be awful even if they don’t go wrong. “I don’t want her to go through the trouble to make sweaters,” I say. “It’ll grow so fast, anyway.” “Don’t call the baby it. And that’s exactly why we need them,” Erick says, his hazel eyes sliding over to meet mine in the rearview mirror. “We won’t have to buy so many different clothes. And besides, you know how much she wants this.”
I do. Grandmothering will fit my mother like one of her madeto-measure sweaters. I am not so sure that mothering will fit me so well. *** I remember when she first picked up the crochet needles. I was six or seven. My grandmother had just relocated to a nursing home for dementia patients. I thought it was the most terrifying place on Earth. I am still not sure whether I was more scared of the forgetting itself or of the accompanying loss of agency. We had visited her, and my mother and grandfather cried for different reasons, and I cried because they were crying, and my grandmother looked confused. Afterward, we helped my grandfather clear out the basement of my mother’s childhood home. I was playing with the stash of toys my grandparents kept for when my sister and I came over. I didn’t notice when my mother excavated a sewing basket from the rubble of nearly seven decades of someone’s life. I looked up and caught my mother entranced. She pushed strands of feathery black hair behind one ear, reached into the sewing basket, and pulled out crochet needles in all colors and sizes. To me, they looked like metallic shepherd’s crooks. “Mama, what’s that?” I asked, discarding my toys. “They’re for crocheting,”
she told me, holding a needle out to me. I took it, turned it over in my small hands. “What’s that?” “It’s like knitting,” she answered. “My mother used to do it when I was young. And her mother before her.” The needle was cheap plastic and didn’t even resemble a needle. When I placed it back in her large, soft palm, she pulled it close to her chest and drew her finger across its bright orange barrel. She watched it as if it would do more than exist as a pencil-sized piece of plastic. My mother took the basket home and taught herself to use the needles from a Crochet for Dummies handbook. The first thing she made, like most beginners, was a scarf. She made it with soft green yarn, and it sits in a neat roll in the back of my closet, untouched for the last ten years. It’s been like that with most of the things she has made for me. Eventually, inevitably, I outgrow them, if I ever used them at all: the polyfill-stuffed koalas, sweaters with ’90s starburst patterns, diamond-shaped ponchos that have never been in style. Even the afghans, so ostensibly useful, grow fuzzy and unravel and develop gaps in the yarn made by fidgeting fingers. I make little circles with my thumbs across my stomach and wonder how many gifts my son or daugh28
ter will accept from me with a patronizing grimace. How many they will eventually grow up to throw away. *** One day I am seven months pregnant, and rubbing circles into my stomach no longer makes me feel like a fraud. In preparation for Marianna—the baby—Erick and I have been busy cleaning out all the closets and under-bed storage in the apartment. I am lugging a trash bag full of my mother’s old crochet artwork to the dumpster. A silver Corolla pulls up. Before I can register the appropriate horrified embarrassment, my mother zips into her usual visitor’s spot and gets out, smiling, arms wide to embrace me. My breathing grows shallow and my fingernails dig into the dollar-store trash bag. Maybe she won’t ask what’s in the bag. (My mother, who every time I left the house till I was eighteen had a steady-but-cheerful barrage of where? with whom? when will you be home? ready, and every time I returned an accompanying how’s Melanie? are Alex and Kat still dating? did you like the movie?) She starts to say, “Honey, are you sure you should be taking out the trash in your…” Her smile fades when her eyes drop to the trash bag. She leans down and fingers the end of the green scarf, the first thing she ever made,
which hangs careless out of the mouth of the bag. “Let me help you with that,” she says, lifting the bag from my white knuckles. She takes three sure, strong steps to the dumpster and swings the lightweight bag to land on top of other bags full of old food and shredded bills and kitty litter. I recall the look on her face when she unearthed the basket of yarn and needles from the basement: the rapt attention, the wonder. I don’t know if I’ve ever looked at anything that way in my life. “Mom,” I say. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to… it was… we had to make room—” My mother waves a hand. She brushes a strand of dark hair behind her ear. “Don’t worry about it, honey,” she says. “I understand.” I pause. Does she? I gave her The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up one year for Christmas while I was in college, that Japanese decluttering book that made me felt like I’d changed my life for about three weeks. I don’t think she ever read it. In fact, when I asked her for books to donate to a book drive two months later, she handed me a pile with that book on top. I decided not to get her books as presents anymore. But she had spent years making these things, all of her spare moments, and it couldn’t have escaped
her notice when they lay unworn or unused on a back shelf of my closet. She never stopped presenting me with artifacts of this thing she loved. I’d donated sweaters; she’d donated books. But there existed the thought, the hope of someone at Goodwill picking up the sweater or the book, fingering it with the same sense of awe that my mother had once had looking over the crochet needles that had come from her childhood paraphernalia. We’d never thrown these things away. “But the scarf,” I say. “Is twenty years old,” my mother says, her dark brows rising. “I’m surprised you haven’t tossed it before now. I haven’t seen you wear it since you were twelve.” I don’t know what to say to that. My mother pats my arm, takes me inside. I glance back at the white trash bag, sitting lopsided atop the tower in the dumpster, gleaming too-bright in the sunshine. *** When Marianna comes, she fulfills all the paralyzing fears I had about giving birth. It is all the ugliness they don’t show you in the sitcoms: the eighteen hours of labor, the shitting myself when I have to push, the gaping perineal tear that requires stitches, the bleeding into a diaper for months. And, of course, the biggest fear: the fear that I still won’t feel like
a mother. Marianna has a name that belongs to a movie star or a ballerina or at least a very, very precious baby. Instead she looks like an alien or a potato or a combination of both. When I say this, too exhausted to have my normal filter, Erick pulls her close to his chest and looks horrified. I think that so much of motherhood doesn’t get recorded, even in the hundred books I read that claimed to be tell-all. No one wants to admit she thinks her child looks like a hairless pug at first. It’s too much of a disruption of this image we have, the thought of the perfect and unconditionally loving mother. As Erick gets some baby time—madly in love with Marianna in a way that I am not yet, in a way that scares me exponentially more every moment it persists—my mother walks into the recovery room. Looped around her shoulder is the purple tote bag she has carried with her for as long as I can remember. She must have been crocheting in the waiting room. She grins at me, her round cheeks high and her eyes crinkling. She steps forward and pushes my hair back from my forehead, drags her fingers through it as she has since I was a small child. She sees the worry on my face immediately, as she always has. “Baby, what’s wrong?” 30
“My baby looks like bald pug,” I say. “Like an alien. When will she stop looking like an alien?” My mother doesn’t stumble. She tilts her head and answers, “Once you get some sleep and get off the drugs.” “What if she doesn’t?” “She will,” Mom says. “You did.” I can’t tell whether or not she’s lying to make me feel better. I glance at her tote. “What are you making?” “More baby sweaters,” she said. “Nancy at work is pregnant.” I feel a sting like a syringe, and like so many of the things I feel when my mother is around, I can’t explain it and don’t know why. A nurse pokes her head in the door. “Your husband fell asleep in the chair,” she says, a little smirk quirking the corners of her mouth. Erick and I have been awake for more than twenty-four hours between yesterday morning and the eighteen-hour labor. The nurse walks in with Marianna wrapped in a pink blanket and places her in my arms. I always hated pink; I have a feeling that she will hate pink, too, despite having a name that sounds like a four-tiered wedding cake with delicate frosted roses. But it’s a beautiful name, a name she will grow into. “Oh, my goodness,” my mother says, a grin splitting her face. She leans in and pokes the wrig-
gling-restless baby, making little gasps of feigned surprise. “She does look like an alien,” my mother admits, “but she’s a cute one. And if she were a beautiful baby there’d be nothing to grow into.” Grow into. I roll my eyes, pretending that my mother hasn’t expressed my exact thought. “Well, I have some gifts for the alien,” my mother says. She reaches into the purple tote and pulls out a baby blanket: lavender and deep blue. Marianna is a bald, squirmy, odd-looking creature, but purple and blue are much better colors for her than soft pink. “Oh, Mom,” I say, “thank you—” “And,” my mother says. In short order, she fulfills all my expectations. Out of the bag she pulls an assortment of small beanies, sweaters, booties, a spare blanket for when the first one is in the wash, and a tiny yellow koala. Even a baby bottle with a crochet koozie wrapped around it. It is June; by the time it’s cold enough for Marianna to need heavy crochet hats and socks and sweaters, she will have outgrown all of these. I shake my head, fist pressed against my lips, chest tightening at the thought of having to donate or toss these beautiful soft things yet unworn. As if hearing my thoughts, my mother shrugs. “I couldn’t resist,” she says. “Baby things are so quick and easy. I’ll have more when she grows, of course.”
“Quick and easy,” I say, sighing. Exhaustion has destroyed my sense of sensitivity. “It’s still such a waste of yarn, Mom. And I hate having to get rid of them. You making all this—it’s all for your own sake, not hers.” My mother pauses, tilts her head. Again I tense, as I did in the parking lot a few months ago when caught red-handed with a trash bag full of yarn. I don’t know what I am expecting. Tears? Anger? A deep and shattering look of disappointment which all the movies and books have told me is worse than either of those things? She doesn’t answer. Instead, she pulls one more item out of her tote bag. It is a small green strip, more like a fat ribbon than any kind of craft handiwork. I squint at it: the stitching is uneven, the piece too simple. I recognize the yarn because it’s the same stuff she used to make her first scarf, the one I tossed. “Do you remember this?” “I…” Then, “Yes. I made that.” “For Blue Teddy,” she says, referencing the very creatively named stuffed animal I had throughout childhood. “You didn’t want him getting cold.” “I just wanted to play with your crochet needles,” I say. I wanted to be just like you, I think. “I know,” my mother says, snorting softly. “And you were such a bad student.”
“I…” “Thank God, right? Or we’d never escape all the yarn goods. There’s not even enough demand in this family to need one person crocheting.” “Mom, I’m sorry.” “Of course it’s for my sake,” my mother says, ignoring my apology. She reaches to my chest and loops the teddy bear’s scarf loosely around Marianna’s neck. Her fingers linger, brushing lightly along the baby’s cheeks. Marianna doesn’t notice her new accessory. “She will grow,” my mother says, “and you will give her so many things she doesn’t need because you’ll want to give her everything. You will do so many things that you convince yourself are for her. Maybe not beanies or stuffed koalas. But dolls, and ballet classes, and sports teams, and art supplies, and love notes in her lunch box, and braiding her hair, and oh, so many books, sweetheart.” I pull Marianna in close. As my mother speaks, my daughter looks less and less like an alien, feels more and more like something meant to be in my arms. Not something that fits that space, but something I will grow to fit around.
SEWARD HARBOR nicole webster
CONTRIBUTORS emily grose is a sophomore in the Honors
College, double majoring in marine biology and psychology. Last fall, she studied in Alaska with Semester by the Bay and gained valuable experience. This photo at Denali National Park is her inspiration to achieve her academic and career goals and reach new heights.
rachylle olivia hart is a marine biology major from Connecticut, where she grew up in the house next door to her grandparents. She lives on a Christmas tree farm amidst lots of wildlife.
nikki kroushl is a double major in com-
munication studies and creative writing. She chooses to attribute her perpetual tardiness to time-optimism instead of a lack of preparation. More about her and her work is available at nicolecrucial.com.
savannah miller is a sophomore double
majoring in public health studies and Spanish. She currently serves as the Vice Alumni Chair for Student Ambassadors and the Academic Excellence Chair for Kappa Delta sorority, and she has worked as an Honors Mentor and as an intern for the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History.
logan prochaska majored in communi-
cation studies and minored in Spanish at UNCW. She enjoys graphic design, exercising, cooking and eating Mexican food. She likes being alive and capturing memories through a camera lens. You can find her photography published in previous issues of Second Story Journal, on the cover of the past 3 issues of Explorations Undergraduate Research Journal, and on her website: www.prochaskaphotography.com
nicholas roche is a sophomore at UNCW
and is originally from Connecticut. He enjoys listening to music and can be caught at any given time of day listening to either of his two favorite artists, Jeffery Lamar Williams and John Denver.
CONTRIBUTORS emma stiles is a Marine Biology major at
UNCW. Along with her love of science, she absolutely loves the outdoors and taking pictures. Sheâ€™s always wanted to travel the world, and when she canâ€™t travel in real life, she travels within the pages of her favorite books.
is a junior within the UNCW Honors College and is majoring in marine biology and oceanography. In the fall of 2017, she studied in Homer, AK. There she captured thousands of images, some of which are published here. She is excited to incorporate photography into her conservation work.
is a writer, figure skater, fencer, and all-around book enthusiast. She is a member of the Honors College majoring in creative writing, and her specialty is fiction. She is happy to grace Second Story's pages once again.
CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS
get published, get exposure, & add to your rĂŠsumĂŠ SSJ is looking for quality work from Honors College and Departmental Honors students in scholarly research, foreign language, poetry, short fiction and nonfiction, visual art, digital art, and photography. Submissions are NOW OPEN for Second Story Journal. Please send your work to email@example.com as an attachment. Include your name and title(s) of your work in the email. Attachments should not include any type of identifying information of the submitter. SUBMISSION REQUIREMENTS SCHOLARLY ESSAYS: No longer than 3,000 words each, titled. Essays submitted must be original works in .doc or .docx format with sources cited in MLA format. FOREIGN LANGUAGE: No longer than 3,000 words. Only one foreign language submission per student. Original work must be accompanied by a translation, with appropriate acknowledgements to translator (if applicable), titled, and in .doc or .docx format. POETRY: No longer than 5 pages each, titled, and in a .doc or .docx format. SHORT FICTION AND NONFICTION: No longer than 3,000 words each, titled, and in a .doc or .docx format. VISUAL ART: Photographs of two- or three-dimensional works, titled, and in .jpeg format. DIGITAL ART: Original, titled, and in .jpeg format. PHOTOGRAPHY: Titled, and in .jpeg format. Submit all visual files in the highest resolution possible, please. Visit www.uncw.edu/ honors/newsletters1/second-story-journal.html for more information. 32 38
Second Story Journal is the arts and literature publication of the Honors College at the University of North Carolina Wilmington, located on the second floor of Randall Library. We print and promote the creative voices of our students and support experiential learning experiences by the marketing, editing, and design of our annual publication. Submissions of art, photography, poetry, fiction, nonfiction, and scholarly work by UNCW honors students are read by a blind committee composed of volunteer staff members. All works should be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org as an attachment with the submitterâ€™s name and genre of the piece submitted. Attachments should not include any type of identifying information of the submitter. We accept submissions year-round.
This issue of Second Story Journal was designed by Logan Prochaska & Megan Travers. Text is set in Avenir Next and Baskerville. Printed by UNCW Print Services, Wilmington, North Carolina. All rights revert to contributors upon publication. Copyright ÂŠ 2018 Honors College at the University of North Carolina Wilmington.
JOURNAL a UNCW Honors Media Publication
University of North Carolina Wilmington Honors College | 2018