Share Art and Literary Magazine of Kennesaw State University is published annually in print format. The publication is funded through student activity fees and is free of charge to all members of the KSU campus community. All literature, artwork, and digital work are self-expressions of those who created them and are not intended to represent the ideas or views of the Share staff or its advisers. They do not reflect the views of KSU faculty, staff, administration, student body, KSU student publications board, or the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia. Artwork contained herein or on the website is not intended to specifically illustrate any literary work or vice versa, but may have been placed according to content. This includes editing artwork to better serve the magazineâ€™s needs in terms of size or composition with textural elements. We welcome artists to contact us if they find this policy unacceptable. Though all artists and contributors may retain the rights to their work, Share reserves the right to print and reprint all submissions.
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POETRY see page 6 ART see page 40 LITERATURE see page 70 STAFF see page 100
Letter from the Staff On behalf of the entire Share staff, thank you for picking up our magazine. It’s not really “our” magazine; Share belongs to the entire Kennesaw State community—a family inspiring the brilliant artists, writers and poets printed on these pages. The issue of Share you hold in your hands represents a significant, collective effort by the entire KSU family, made possible by you. Moreover, we wish to thank all of the contributors, without whom there would be no magazine. We are all here to learn, students and teachers alike, but you—the painters, poets and creators—remind each of us of all the enchanting possibilities of the mind. Your work is a constant reminder that the fundamental human potential is for creating beauty, and it gives us all hope. No less important is our advisor Ed Bonza. Without his guidance, humor and love our lives would be very different, our hearts less full and our world eerily devoid of terrible puns. Thank you, Ed, for inspiring us to rise to a higher standard but never losing faith when we don’t quite make it. We would also like to thank all of KSU Student Media, the staffs of The Sentinel, Talon Magazine, Owl Radio and our dedicated and vital marketing and distribution teams. We also want to give special thank yous to Amie Mowrey for your unconditional love and guidance, and to Sara Sarrecchia for sharing your incredible makeup skills to make us look like realistic, terrifying zombies. Now go forward, turn the page and discover much of the wonder and beauty KSU offers. We hope Share inspires you as much as it has inspired us. 3
Monday, August 22, 2011 The Share office is quiet today. A late August heat wave has overwhelmed the buildingâ€™s air conditioner, and our small office visibly pulses with the heat like waves in a swimming pool. I am alone with no expectation of company and the temperature will drive me away in short order.
Wednesday, August 23, 2011 Still no air conditioning and the temperature outside remains above 100 degrees. Inside, our office is melting. No reason to stay and every excuse to leave. Received a large manila envelope in the mail. No return address. Will inspect when the office is more tolerable.
Thursday, September 1, 2011 Air conditioning fixed. Office finally becoming comfortable after weeks of sweltering heat. Staff gathered this morning to brainstorm the coming year. Managing Editor Leah opened the strange package we received. Was stuffed with contributionsâ€” short stories, poems and all kinds of art. Everything was coated with a weird, fine dust as if it were very old. Some of the paper was damp and soggy from the extreme conditions in the office the past few weeks. The staff spent a few hours reviewing the material inside. Very curious stuff.
Martian Mellow Cory J. Watkins
I’m an idiot with brilliant art, An ignoramus with a genius heart, I’m a truth wrapped in a joke, Wrapped in a lie, Trapped in the dark. I’m a cold soul plus I’m ice sharp, I’m forest fire from a slight spark, I’m a lap dog my owners hold tight, No bite, But a nice bark. Since childhood I’ve been a wreck, Teachers thought that I’d never benefit, From Intellect, and I would be a zero, Like the Y-Intercept. Get it yet? I just don’t fit in and it’s my fault, I’m like a sumo in a size small, I hate the discomfort I cause, I’m like Lysol, to your eyeballs. I pause. No I don’t, My hope’s gone like Roanoke, I’m on a self pity overdose, But I keep going lower though, Cause in my mind, I am nowhere close, Go for broke. Screw it all, That’s what I do best,
I’m an unworn bullet proof vest, Useless, But can do less, Than an armless man, Missing two legs. Who’s next? I’m slept on by these leptons, I don’t know what I said wrong, Or whose toes I have stepped on, But it seems I’m just inept. Yawn. I’m bored of this and sorta pissed, I should act more in ordinance, With society and their orders it’s just that I hate that sorta shit. I mean crap. I mean stuff. Okay, how should I end this? I’ve whined about being friendless, I’m sure I’ve bored you senseless, Penny for my thoughts? I just gave you ten cents.
Shannon Hardy Like Georgia clay He was deadening To even speak of him was to feel as though you were bleeding Like the stifling heat of a Georgia summer You were glad of his warmth Even though it was unbearable Even though it was draining And gave you the feeling of drowning He was like the deadliest nightmare you couldnâ€™t bear to forget All she needed was for him to need her To want her She could never forget his touch Like freezing rain on the warmest day Though soothing, it was painful all the same His urgency, so tangible So rough She felt so wanted He was like the pet at the end of a rainbow A pretty web of harsh lies She knew now what she was to him A good time How could he hate someone so that he once claimed to love She would take back what he had stolen and broke She would fix it best she could But still some part of her wanted him to want her Like Georgia spring wants the rain Like Georgiaâ€™s winter called out to the sun
Dinner with Lilith Stephanie Villa
Her hair has power. In this world, beauty can be power, despite the snake around her leg. There are pomegranate tarts on the table. She smiles as she serves pity with her ivy eyes. I forgot how to speak past a broken “thank you,” but does the blame go to this snake woman or the reason I am here? She says she never wakes up before 2pm and falls asleep before noon. “I don’t live on the time of men.” Her ageless, silk legs go on forever, as tireless as the ruby of her lips. She waves a cigarette and still her face is fierce with flawlessness. Must be the magic of her hair. Her laugh is gorgeous, wicked, kind. She then says, “You’ll be twice the person you ever were without him.”
I Am No Walled Garden Heather Harris
I am no walled garden. Unattended shrubbery and overgrown weeds are all right here on my face and ankles. So here I am, embarrassing hair growing out of my antlers, wine smeared lips begging for a kiss or a revolution. I got a liver ache but Iâ€™m no less loved than I was yesterday. I shed this husk of self, the tattered cover, the sea-stained pages. Iâ€™m surrounded by billows of braveness sent by the overblown lion with only baby teeth. Blanket me like a wave or an avalanche while I search sand and ice for a way to make you tremble.
Irreverence for my Grass Julie Fowkes
Now I will consider my grass As it is the bane of my life For it deviates from the norm in every respect And sabotages my efforts to control and correct. It resists uniformity with a peculiar passion Mocking my design of smooth attribution For the spontaneous sprouting of unruly tendrils Is a slap in the face for my affectionate toils. When it collaborates with weeds of variety It really is rather un-neighborly For it turns friends into foes who continually gloat That theirs is really quite lovely. I can tread with the greatest precision Yet never fail to come to some harm For it invites and protects those ants I hate best That build nests to project and alarm. It attracts with its vastness and common inflection The house trained seeking good praise For its continued persecution and my desired retribution I am heading straight for the grave. The thirst stricken blades lacking in shade Play dead when deprived of water For the truth of the matter is thus Grass is always a bother to those who want to control her.
My Little Pandoraâ€™s Box Jennifer Woodall
Quiet Waiting Darkness Such a life you lead. Once an expansive presence, Trimmed and hacked by your vessel, She despises you, Yet you stay, Laying low, Waiting to strike, Ever slim your chances now, Though you sink your teeth to skin, Short lived are your triumphs, Forced to solitude once more. Quiet Waiting Darkness Till the day you wait in vain, And your vessel locks you away Forever.
Nicklaus Walker Females always tuggin’ emotional strings The heart isn’t a play thing I rather take a million bee stings Before gettin’ played without exchangin’ rings Fuck Love, it’s foreign to me like Yao Ming See my trust is wounded like a broken wing Thugs and assholes get treated like Kings While gentlemen are played in flings When it comes to love, I didn’t make none of the rules But tired of bein’ played like a damn fool These days bein’ a playa is cool But I’m too classy to be a tool Each day my feelins are goin’ down the stool But my heart is stubborn as a mule Wit my looks, I make the females drool But for my heart, they have to grind and gruel Because my love is precious like a crown jewel
Cynical Cynthia Stephen Wack
Though with such a big head, you’ll still contribute so little, as you will come to critique others’ diverging physiques, and distrust the world as if to show how you’re ‘oh, so cynical.’ But do you truly believe that screaming such profanities, in the face of humanity will revere you as distinguishable? That insulting one’s religion, passion and ambitions, will eventually promote you to some precocious pinnacle? Well… all I can say, my dear, is to consider changing your ways, as if you adopt a view that is untainted and new, I can promise that the world is so much more beautiful, when you become just that much less critical.
A Blazing Trail Julie Fowkes
I provoke the most diverse interactions From simple exploration to designed extraction I sense my surroundings with bulging eyes Which retract when my organs are wise Calcium fortifies my castle But salt is an absolute hassle My countenance is regal and austere Except when I partake of beer I search the nocturnal city For a mate thatâ€™s neither handsome nor pretty Time passes and the business is done And all without the use of a gun I fear the bitter, Iâ€™m drawn to the sweet But both are the death of me.
A Poem About a Girl (How Original) Cory J. Watkins
This is the poem that I told myself, I would never write, The mushy lovey-dovey words, That always sounds trite, I hate myself for crafting this, I feel sick even typing it, I’m the guy who’d laugh at this, But you, my love, might like it. I’d rather talk to you, Than sleep with anyone, I’ve never had a love before, Even a mini one, Other women make me feel, Like I’m better than myself, But with you I’m just me, I need not be someone else. When your presence hits my eyes, I die for half an instant, Cause it’s the best moment of my life, Every minute you’re in it, Last night when we where hanging out, I let you walk ahead, And told a stranger that I loved you, Because it had to be said. You love me but you think you can’t, It’s really an amusing show, When I’m with you, you go in a trance, I pretend like no one knows, All my friends, all your friends, Our families and acquaintances, People we don’t know know, It’s visible when you’re saying it. You said you were jealous of me, And my extroverted disposition, That is a total absurdity,
When you’re not talking, I listen, You said you wished to captivate, Attention with my confident ease, I would watch you do nothing, From the edge of my seat. I tell you every other minute, That I think you’re cute, Your voice would be my lullaby, Even if you were mute, I attack myself ferociously, Every night my soul’s bleeding, Every battle you stay close to me, And negotiate the treaty. I know what the reason is, For your frustrating restraint, You live a darker lifestyle, I’m a good boy you fear you’ll taint, But know that I can deal with, Everything about you, I would rather you be what kills me, Than me pretend to live without you. You are the only girl, Who’s never tried to change me, The first time I talked to you, I kind of named our babies, It kills my soul like you’ll never know, To be at peace by your side, Then to have to reenter the cold, As you go be less happy with just some guy.
Diamond Eater Stephanie Villa
You want to chew up my ring and spit it back at me.
So, I am hardened ice, but my wings are drenched with vodka, grease, and putrid love grime.
You want to crumple my bones watch them lightly float.
Scrub film off naked, rose love. Polish the clear, pure omniscient diamond.
You want to sculpt the air, play Pygmalion.
“But if monarchs are butterflies, are paupers the moths?” An echo of questions. I’ve been long gone.
You want to burn down the bed, inhale golden ash.
I’ll float to denounced planets of ultraviolet roses. Bite off my own finger and grow crystals.
I want to revive something, join a spirit stream, snip a loose threads, pull the magnets apart.
Deeds of Deceit Mostafa Foda
The life we live is but a fruitful show Some fathom in the sky and others down low And whatever good comes out, the owner makes game Without considering what is best and what to leave shame For the mind is clouded, beyond its means to dwell And all that we do, dispute, and compel Destroy and ignore is our motto carved well Regardless of the consequences surely to excel What deeds may come in a time of deceit In a time of ill manners, and shatters of relief When trouble grips the spirit of a man found lonesome Coming from all corners of life, and the deeds that may come Slowly ripping of the beauties of life Replacing it with rubbish, fueling it on sight Poisoning the air, decreasing the water More birds dying from the weather to alter No thanks to man as symbol of jester And more plotting is made for the deed to swift faster For the Earth, it seems, no defense or answer From the disastrous disease called man, equal to cancer So what deeds in a time made deceit is yet to come From a planet occupied by parasites, held in ransom Soon no bees left to complain Nor of the fish in the sea to be made plain For the motto is strong willed, none to reclaim Upon the only species on earth, humiliated and shamed And toxic will rise, quite often as said As for our food, homes, and reason are smothered in lead And what will be blamed when the beauty has gone to hell The answer is a man fully ashamed when looking at himself
Tell Me, Love Stranger Stephen Wack
Tell me, love stranger: Why must I move to the grass, every time we pass, on such a narrow path? O’, why must I walk in the grass… Tell me, love stranger: Why must I give you eye contact, that will seem to last? I bet you had laughed. O’, why must my stare long so last… Tell me, love stranger: How you would react, to a friendly car crash, that leaves your face smashed? O’, how I could remain so relaxed… Tell me, love stranger: Why must we only interact, with your crooked skull on the dash, and your brother’s lung collapsed? And with your mother’s depression, she’ll begin to relapse—, and you’ll lay in what they say, is just a “really, really long nap.” And your head and my heart, will so beautifully match: so broken, so squashed—, so hopelessly cracked. O’, how I would love that…
Tell me, love stranger: Why could I only impact your life when tragedy strikes, and in a broken body you’d bask? But no harm could be done to my love; especially such a violently, perfect act. O’, how I will continue to walk in the grass…
Cory J. Watkins A young girl sat poised, Pretty and proper, The finest in town, No one could top her. A boy across the room, Not special nor grand, Sat trembling with nerves, A pen in his hand. Sometime later as she sat, Beauty at it’s best, An unspecial note, Found home on her desk. She plucked it untethered, This was nothing new, She’d seen these forever, Only the best would do. Inside she found no lyric, No meaning or phrase, Instead, a verbal graveyard, Scratched out on the page. Sentiments started and aborted, Killed before birth, She looked around the room, “What on this earth?!” After class a boy approached, Still not special or cool, “I wrote that” he croaked, Feeling a fool. She was befuddled, and impatient. She glared at him hard, Awaiting explanation. “I wanted to write a verse, Every try grew worse, No word was good enough, For what you deserve. This note is absurd, In form and in verb, But I give you this nothing, And I mean every word.”
Country Roads Stephanie Hines
Her tiny fingers grazed the leather seats While her feet kicked the back of her dad’s seat. Tears streamed down her brother’s brown, chubby cheeks As he cried for milk. “Are we there yet?” “No” Sighing, her nose wrinkled as the smell of Horse poop mingled with crayons and spoiled milk. The grass stretched outside her window as cows Mooed and grazed the fields. “Are we there yet?” “No” She slammed her head back against the cushions And fiddled with the lint on her blue skirt. Swatting her brother’s sticky fingers from Her long hair, she sighed. “Are we there yet?” “Yes” Smiling, she looked out at the rainbow roads, Lollipop Woods, Ice Cream Sloops, Ice Castle, and Candy Castle. Excitement coursed through her body. They’ve made it to Candy Land.
Forsaking All Julie Fowkes
I sit admiring without comfort a child that somewhat resembles me. With a gentle push and an encouraging hand, she approaches and sits quietly. Her ignorance shields her for now from my past and her cheerless beginning. Her guardians, my parents, look on remembering my heartless forsaking. My lips move, I hear a sound but somehow I know I don’t own it. Nothing but nonsense escapes me aware that all see me unfit. Silence finds me. Wretchedness chokes me. I withdraw in solitary thought. I’m aware that my eyes are open but no longer see that which I ought. Twenty years have passed since the juncture of my first mistake. I discovered my voice and aired it, my developing body and shared it, happiness, for the baby’s sake. The violence that followed those blissful days left its mark in the crevices of my brain. A frightened child, the product of a sorry existence sought attention but all in vain. For the ability to love left me as I harbored my miseries with selfish passion. Time didn’t heal me, nor drugs nor liquor. I felt the effects of depression. The deepest despair raped me and somehow I birthed yet another. My cries for help went unnoticed for a while by my sisters, father and mother.
And now I sit in this room, a shadow of who I once was. The disgrace and dishonor I have brought them is nothing to the hurt I have caused. An innocent face hardly knows me. Her brother looks on with contempt. I try to repair my position but all I do is sulk and lament.
Stephanie Hines Her small fingers brushed the various clothes That hung from the rusty bar above her. As one of the roaches crawled near her toes, She hoped it would be safe from the monster. She jumped. The monster began to draw near. Shadows cast as light seeped under the door, And her tiny body trembled with fear As its footsteps boomed closer than before. The door squeaked and she couldnâ€™t help but scream. Beer seeped from its breath as the large beast roared. She lost hope that it was another dream As her body dragged across the floorboards. Monsters didnâ€™t exist under her bed Or in closets. Only inside her dad.
Warmth of Friendship Mostafa Foda
Beyond the horizon, my friends are there All the good in them and unto none they’re compared The time will come at any coming end That I won’t be worn to dry nor left wearing thin Knowing I have a paddle on a cliff to cling Feels so relieved and much more to bring But my true friends give more and expect nothing in return Visiting me in depression and leaving me reborn As I fall in despair, falling freefall They reply in haste without having to call Reliable and shrewd, we live in balance Without measure or rivalry, but competition and challenge I am their brother as they are my own Never will I be lonely even if I’m alone Surely I may ponder and dwell in dismay But having companions saves me by day And I go to bed knowing what’s great That such love is there, far more than I can take Ever so thankful for my needs made done If not so met, than my smiles be gone Praising God much for love he’s shown Concerning rights due to man, granted my own Much to be grateful, much to smile for Because there was an absence of companionship in my life before Just because I breathe doesn’t mean I live To be without a friend, is a life primitive Wealth brings no smiles, only short term joy Even the richest man searches for friends to employ But a true friend is warmth; light, rare as pure gold In this world that is shadow, evil, and cold
Missouri: A Fancy Way to Say “Misery” Stephen Wack
I’m an empty-headed know-it-all that contradicts himself consistently. I’m an ignorant, caring hypocrite that prefers to burn bridges more efficiently. I’m a callous tender creature, clueless when it comes to sharing sympathy. I’m just a pink brain hooked to some cold machine, that can only talk of ‘love’ scientifically, where just an overload of chemicals are to blame for a feeling parallel to OCD. I understand that we’re so broken—so seemingly prone to live in misery. But hell! love wouldn’t be so easy to fall in to, if fate hadn’t made it so damn slippery… And with this, its appears obvious to see that we are just not meant to be, for us two crushed spines cannot surely align, in some ‘love-amending’ symmetry… —or can we?
Song of Storms Stephen Tyler
Funny how you creep in For months you haven’t been around, But there’s always a way to get you here Yet no one but me makes the sound. You’re a forgotten face, A shadow of the past The colossus of my nightmare This darkness will never seem to pass. Cease with your couriers, Don’t laden doves with black hope I liked you better blue Like the hue of the sky As the sun chokes. A chill sweeps over me, The demons set upon Rain. Thunder. A song of storms, then you’re gone.
Wishful Thinking Stephanie Hines
I can imagine you as a little girl smiling as the cool water streamed down into the palm of your small hand. I bet you were in your secret world as you took delight as liquid raced between your fingers. You caused hell for Anne Sullivan, your tutor, as she tried to teach you the ways of the world. Water was one word that inspired you to learn more. I wish I could be deaf and blind like you. I want to be in my private world and ignore the sirens that indicated that another’s life has been cut prematurely. Instead, I would take joy in the smell of the fresh cut grass that mingled with fresh baked cookies that my grandma used to make. This world would be forever mine and I’ll never get to see the starved children or hear about the guilty getting away. I want to be trapped in my own dreams. Reality could never amount to imagination. Unfortunately, I’m stuck in this harsh life that’s void of light.
I Used to Think Trees Made the Wind Heather Harris
â€œI used to think trees made the wind,â€? you said yesterday on the porch in the weird cloudy almost dark, the sky a wide gaping mouth, and the street all aglow with neon red light puddles. The firmament got choked up on all the waters above and below, everyday it longs to come down to stare at the sunbeam dust coming in from the window, and outside, the oak shadows on the ground where I once found your heart buried in a flowerbed. I swear by your favorite slice of sky that the sun can never kiss the place where your throat meets your shoulder the way that I can, just as nothing warms me like the sun inside your chest that pumps heat to the limbs that every night cradle me as I fall asleep to the whirring wind, to dream of the moons of your eyes.
Russian Winters Stephanie Hogue
I duck quickly as do svidinia hits the wall and bounces across the room. The door slams shut behind you; you walk away from the wreckage you left. Shattered glass scattered across the floors. Crystal pieces of vases and mirrors mix amongst the tossed words. In the dust pan, ceramic fragments clash against the Russian curse words. I am more afraid of getting cut by the hard Cyrillic letters than the transparent edges. My reflection, separated and tired, slides beneath the rug as I try and gather the shards. My trembling hands cannot repair these cracked pieces. These artifacts have survived revolutions and bitter Russian winters, But they could not withstand your icy touch. The cold made them fragile; your cold has made me fragile. Exiled to Siberia with every look you give me. I am holding on to you as I would hold a Faberge egg. Wanting to let go, but my fingers are frozen in a solid grasp. Unable to tell where the small crystal flecks end and my delicate, tired hands begin. I am a poor Bolshevik fighting against a Czar, but unlike history, I will not win. Dazzled by your elegance, enraptured by your dark eyes and thick accent, I will continue our perpetual waltz around war and peace. I will continue to survive your Russian winters.
Stephen Wack Lost far from shore along a feeling so pleasant, my heart lights the way with thoughts so florescent. With string and cinderblocks, I tie my feet with ‘she love-me-knots’, to walk the ocean bottom with new shoes of cement. A sun half-submerged in the Atlantic blue, drowns my fading memory in a once-radiant you. With the ocean as your body and your head in the clouds, I will swim for my life as to die with the view. As a plunging sun mimics your tired eyelids, —freckles as chemicals, moles as fishes and squids—, your beauty is enough to wave off to the world, and live forever as one on a boat off the grid. …Now with the sun fully-submerged in a night renewed, I shall drown my broken body in chase of the view. And as my last bubbles pop and my beating heart stops, my last words never heard will forever echo, “I love you.”
Are You Hungry? Le’Shae Welch
Poetic burritos wrapped in rhetoric lettuce with a bunch of sexy sauce, The meat of my feelings dripping hotly out of the wrapped package Luring you with a waft of reasons to keep breathing… We are such tasty poets. Succulent similes, mouthwatering metaphors, and promises of a satisfying meal; You leave the audience hungry, clamoring for more of the sweet essence that fills our souls. We grab pens like chopsticks, Stack plates like paper, Filling them with words until we can fit no more. The best chefs are in the pulpits, street corners, and Crowne Vics. All are welcome, enjoy the feast… The words spread out like a buffet for the senses, A family of intellectuals sitting down before the evening meal. Let us give thanks to the Almighty for the harvest of wisdom we are about to receive. Carve me a piece of your knowledge, Pass me the basket of your power, And spoon me a helping of slammed words so sweet. My mouth is watering in anticipation.
A Dream or a Thought Mostafa Foda
Wondering and thinking of the future to come When all else fails or all else is done That hopes and dreams are proven to be well sung And worthwhile for charity and a delivering run From effortless to striving, a course that may be To dine in support, or finish single handily The thought comes first, with my goal in the end A prelude to success and much to descend Evermore the less, a crime beyond bounds Unfit for reason , nor to spread around So find what paths may lead to lasting sail And better to move forward while leaving a trail For the other curious ones that venture without hope And bring forth a thought, simple to cope Establishing success, a will to do But to leave a legacy requires virtue It is all to live for and all to die for And it is all we implore and seek more A mere glimpse of it cherishes all we see But even a blind man will know of this path to reap Be what one can be from a faithful dream And hold it more than faith and all to believe But first start with hope and a dream And turn not away, for it will be more than it seems
The Pure Under Tyranny Mostafa Foda
The time will come, where we canâ€™t stand by Living in Godâ€™s hand, praising ever more Single or with strength, all in or die But for the righteous, thereâ€™s more to live for There are good among us with pure hearts to share Though quite few, they victoriously prevail Honest, loving, patient, and fair Setting forth as principle, and for others to care They devour not poison, all out to blunder Though fire relinquished them on People around them vender out in wonder But the pure renders out the wrong So be among the ranks of the brave Whom stand against clear sin And desire attack them for their hearts to crave But unwilling to give in The world is sinking, a drought we have Dried with evil intent Even if our evils were degraded in half Our lives remain grossly bent But may the good beware of the folly to come As they travel amongst an adversary That the wicked gather in depressing sums With few solutions to carry People live like grunts, mercy pushed aside Under any tyranny will malice prosper Nowhere to run and no place to hide And little good shall foster
There is much to do, where hope remains true But first, honesty without fear Which is found in pure virtue From anyone that adheres What man is a man who dies without a changing the world For every life counts So much to say but so little words But this poem was without doubt Cleanse this world of deceptive tyranny From the highest man to the simple dweller That conquers the souls of men made wrongly And replace it with whatâ€™s better
Wednesday, October 5, 2011 Editor in Chief Vanessa has decided to publish all the material from the package. It’s brilliant. But where did it come from? It’s as if someone sent us a complete magazine. Curiouser and curiouser.
Wednesday, January 4, 2012 The staff is editing the content from our strange delivery. All very excited, not sleeping. All we do is read and re-read the submissions night after night. I’m afraid the strain is beginning to show. We are all gaunt and pale. Why are we so obsessed?
Monday, February 13, 2012 We have not left the office for two weeks. Creative Director Steven is working on piecing together the layout. All that matters now is publishing the material from the envelope. We must get it out there for everyone to experience as we have. So close to finishing but the staff is beginning to fight. We all look deranged and near-death.
Thursday, March 15, 2012 The magazine has shipped to the printer but the staff is in hiding. Things are out of control. Our advisor, Ed Bonza, came to the door to check on us and the staff quickly dragged him into the office and killed him. I’ve no idea why. I’m ashamed at my part in his destruction but could not keep myself away as one editor ate his brain.
Dots and Stripes Erin McClanahan Digital photography
Aaron Artrip Reductive relief
Accomplished Marie Jernigan
Ceramic relief and mixed media
Kate McGuinness Digital photography
Ryan Hartley Oil on canvas
Main Street America Chelsea Murdock Photography
Erin McClanahan 35mm film
Thereâ€™s An App for That Lindsey Harris
Ceramic and mixed media
Jessica Charles Digital photography
Jeanne Harriman Robinson Porcelain
Ryan Hartley Charcoal
Lindsey Harris Ceramic and mixed media
Interlaced Puzzle View 1 Marisela Cisneros
Cherry and pine wood
Interlaced Puzzle View 2 Marisela Cisneros
Cherry and pine wood 53
Interlaced Puzzle View 3 Marisela Cisneros
Cherry and pine wood
Karen Rooker Digital photography
Lady in the Water Heather Miller
Sometimes I Paint With Fire Aaron Artrip Silk screen
Sometimes I Paint With Purple Aaron Artrip Silk screen
Sometimes I Paint With Turquoise Aaron Artrip Silk screen
Sometimes I paint... Aaron Artrip Silk screen
Sarah Singleton Large format photography
Abstractions Aaron Artrip Serigraph
Quiet Moments Erin McClanahan 35mm film
Undersea Treasure Marilynn Martin
Lithograph and mixed media
Michelle Villarreal Pastels on charcoal paper
Sarah Singleton Large format photography
Sarah Singleton Large format photography
Karen Rooker Digital photography
The Taunting Aaron Artrip Reductive relief
Painting Toenails Erin McClanahan Digital photography
Monday, March 19, 2012 The office has descended in to chaos. Our staff has attacked the offices of the other student publications. They are all dead except for Owl Radio, who barricaded themselves in their downstairs office. But the blood splattered on the studio window indicates things may not be going so well for them either. Few of the Share staffers remain alive. And yet they still move, limping and crawling through the halls. We have attacked one another and been attacked by others in defense. Many are only capable of speaking one word: “Brains.”
Tuesday, March 20, 2012 The student center has been entirely overrun. I alone remain tied to my humanity. All of the others—the Share staff, other students and administrators—limp slowly through the corridors seeking food, the brains of the others. But I feel myself slipping away. I cannot resist forever. I must free myself, but how? Someone is at the door…
1st of March Jessica Charles
1st of March 1980 Delmar 44, Port au Prince, Haiti Main a main, épaule a épaule; ensemble yo marcher. (Hand and hand, shoulder to shoulder; they walked.) Dressed in sharp red and blue plaid uniforms, finely starched dress shirts, and matching clip ties, they walked. Barefooted, the two children trotted through the stampede of morning merchants swarming the streets with their random retail. It had been raining the night before; the roads were drenched in a thick black mud. Anything that fell would be lost in the manic of people and garbage. In these streets, livelihoods were carried in the highest certainty of capital. Nothing was too little or worthless and everything had its price. They weaved through puddles and dodged under the herds of arguing house-maids and the harassing scent of curb side grills with their deep fried scrambled eggs and plantains. Like red and blue yarn, dancing upon a line of crochet, they zig-zagged their path through the quilted street of people. They carried their books, pencils, lunch bowls and shoes in the safety of their sacks. Their items (processions) were held high and close. The fear was not found in the threat of thieves or the deathly grip of the decaying streets below them. It was the fear of returning home without them. They feared the thrashing from their mother or father that would be awaiting them. These gifts were too precious and way too costly to lose. On their way to school, they would most surely wave to Madame and Monsieur Eugene sharing their morning café avec bousuit. “Salute,” the children shouted to the couple as they made their way from the street, crossing the bridge, over the ravine, leading them before Monsieur Eugene’s doorstep. Madame had become a glitzy silver coin and her husband a gleaming gold time piece. Atop both of their heads were the remnants of their country’s immortality and strife. Content and patient in the numbered days ahead, they sat wading on their porch watching the stream of neighbors march by. “Bonjour Madame Eugene, bonjour Monsieur Eugene,” the children said in unison. Standing there eagerly on Eugene’s doorstep, they both continued to rustle through their pockets where they gladly pulled two pieces they had collected. They pulled a couple of pennies and nickels that were saved deep in their small pockets. Eugene smiled as they both dropped what they had into a rusted tin can that sat beneath the table next to his feet. He smiled to himself knowing that it was the highlight of every school day. “Merci ma petite fille, merci mon petite garçon,” he replied. Nodding gratefully to the small gifts, he led his aged finger to the hose sitting at the edge of his porch. The hose fed into his well which he would generously provide on numerous occasions. The children took the hose one by one and washed the mud
and dirt from their ankles and feet. There on the step, they pulled their shoes from their sacks and put them on their clean feet. Eugene stood up. The children lined up like soldiers before him. He inspected them from head to toe making sure there was not a loose string, lint, or dirt upon them. He smiled. Approvingly, he turned from the children and proceeded back to his seat next to his wife. He picked his measuring cup from the table, slid his barrel between his legs, and continued to pack his sugar into clear plastic baggies. The children stood there puzzled, awaiting the old man’s approving signal. Looking up from his task, he let out a raspy giggle. Through the warmth of his smile and the stain of his teeth, he could not bear the amusement he found from their puppy like stares. Well mannered children had become a forgotten essence of his youth, and could not leave a child’s gesture unfulfilled. “Aller, (go on)” he motioned. With smiles as wide as their meek faces, the children rushed to the corner behind the couple basking through the cupboard stacked high with Madame’s homemade sweets. “Merci Madame a Monsieur Eugene, (thank you Mr. and Mrs. Eugene)” they sung out. As the children made their way back to the porch, Madame grabbed two bags of packed sugar and stuffed them in each child’s pack before they could run off. “Make sure these get to your mothers,” she demanded as they ran off waving their candy and cookies in the air. They sent the children off with warm smiles as they skipped across the bridge, up the cobblestone walkway, and into the school next door. * Madame picked up the kettle and poured the tea in her cup. She scooped a few spoons of sugar from the wooden barrel that sat before her husband. As she sat there stirring her brew, she let out a lingering sigh of worry. Complacent to her husband’s reaction, she reached toward him, gripping him. “You shouldn’t doubt me Eugene,” she said sternly. She had the look of motherly instinct. Her eyes searched for his, fighting anxiously to get through to her husband. “You are foolish to think that this will end well. Eugene, sa faire moi mal, (Eugene, this hurts me)” she warned. “I believe you have grown mad along with this gossiping town,” he said. “Eugene, it is the first of March, do you know where your son is?” Eugene could no longer settle his worried wife. Scoop by scoop, he
continued filling bag after bag with sugar. He did what he knew best. He smiled at his wife who reluctantly, but surely, smiled back. “La premier Mars, (The first of March). Ce un belle jour, pour un belle occacion…eh! (This is a beautiful day for a beautiful occasion)” he said. They sat for hours at a time on that same porch. Madame would sip on her tea and Eugene beside her, packing sugar. Side by side, together they looked out into the thriving but cracking city of Port au Prince. * 1st of March 1981 Delmar 44, Port au Prince, Haiti A crescendo of shouting began to spill out into the crowded street. The front door busted open revealing Valentin with his shot gun in one hand and his eldest daughter, gripped by her hair, in the other. Valentin yanked her, dragging and leading her on her knees through the courtyard toward his front gate. He signaled to the gatekeeper to open the gate as he gripped the child tighter. As the gate opened, he threw the girl down the stairs and onto the cobblestone sidewalk. He stepped out into the street cocking his gun straight into the girls face as she pleaded and sobbed with her father for mercy. He stood 6’2; a brooding bald black man. Sweat rolled down the bridges of his wide nose, danced across his jerky plump lips, and dripped from his chin down to his starched buttoned up collard linen shirt. Valentin was a neatly bounded man. He pulled his stiff belt buckle up his tightly wounded hips and dusted the now dried mud of his chocolate Italian laced shoes. The air grew hotter and dryer as the sun ate all the moisture in the air. With his gun in one hand, he continued to beat the girl into the street. “Bouzine, (Whore), just like your mother. I bring you into my, put you in the finest schools, Epi ou besoin partir, (and you want to leave)” he shouted at his daughter. Enraged, he proceeded to kick the girl deeper and harder into the ground, stomping her heart of the dreams she had held so dear. The crowd, outraged by the scene, began to rumble in disbelief. Shouts rang out from the people leaving Valentin even more enraged. Unsteady from the growing heat and sitting sweat on his chest, he swung his gun pointing it into the crowd. He glanced at them with daring eyes as the crowd pulled back from the hot flaying gun. He gripped his gun tighter, teasing the crowd in a fearful suspense. “Valentin fin fou, (Valentin has gone mad)” they shouted.
“Mad man,” they continued. With his charming smirk, Valentin politely relayed his message to the menacing crowd. “Aller (Go), there is nothing here to see. Hear me when I say, to every man, woman, and thieving child out there, I will shoot any who dare help this girl. Believe me! I will deliver a bullet between all of you beady eyes. Aller! Go about you business; there is nothing to see.” * Meanwhile…from across the street… Madame and Monsieur Eugene watched in dismay at the scene that had developed just feet from their doorstep. “Ma petite Willine cheri oh! (Willine, my poor child) Pour qui sa, pour qui sa, (what for, what for)” Madame pleaded. Eugene stood up and prepared himself to gun through the crowd. Madame grabbed a hold of his sleeve and pulled him back. “Ton un moment Eugene; an nous garder qui sa kap passé, (Hold on, lets see what happens)” she said pulling him near. “Valentin fou (Valentin is mad), he will surely kill her,” he declared. “No. For your son’s sake, wait. Let’s see what happens,” Madame demanded. He was helpless as he backed steadily onto his porch step. His eyes skimmed the crowd searching for relief; there was known. They stood there witnessing each passing blow to the weeping child. Eugene brought his hands to his head and rocked it fearfully. “Corte Eddy faire con sa? Grand martin sa. Mesami wo! (Where has Eddy gone on a grand morning like this? I can’t believe this)” Eugene cried. * Willine’s long draping hair fell over her face as she lay there bleeding, in tears. Her eyes followed her own bloody trail leading from her father’s gate to her burrowing, bleeding body. She could no longer feel her heart. It has stopped bleeding and the entire world felt still in that eerie moment. The sun was high and the wind blew low as she lay there, on her hands and knees, planted into the ground, panting for every breath. “Ou pas ka tuer sa qui déjà mourir, (You cannot kill what is already dead)” she whispered. Her face which was once the envy of jealous school girls and the desire of young and old men alike, was unable to be seen behind her still lovely locks. She could spot the crowding legs through the cracks in the lingering strands
in her hair. The crowd stood there crying out for her. “Venir petite. Courir, courir! (Come child. Run, run!)” the crowd pleaded. Willine embarrassed, could only look down in shame. The ground was growing hot and her father more ruthless. Flies began to settle around her wounds and she could feel the crowd growing around her. Slowly, as her father’s blows grew less and less, she propped herself up in hopes to crawl from his fury. The detraction from the crowd proved too short. She was no longer crying as he kicked her forcefully again into the dirt. She grew cold and refused to give the man the satisfaction of her whimpering cries. Up, on a second floor balcony, Madame Valentin’s menacing high pitched voice rang out over the heads of everyone piled below. In her hands she carried Willine’s belongings out onto the balcony. Behind her stood her two young children, who assisted her in her tangent. One by one they came to the balcony tossing the girls belongings into the street. Willine laid there watching all her things float down onto the ground. She thought of the mannequin that stood at the foot of her bed. She knew it would be the last to face her step mother’s wrath and would purposely meet the worst fate. The dress she had spent months sewing, months perfecting; Madame held the dress over the balcony as she brought a lighter to its sleeve. The precious white silk fabrics she had managed to delicately mend together burned as it fell to ashes to the ground in front of Willine. Pushing her hair from her face, she watched to see her beloved dress rain from the sky. The raging hot sun burned the bleeding wounds upon her face as she squinted to see her masterpiece publicly defaced. “Bondier, (Good god)” she prayed. She would remain there wondering what she had done to deserve such punishment and heart ache. * 1st of March 1982 Cathedral de Port au Prince Before the church, Eddy stood there collecting his last thoughts. It was time for him to stand up and brave in the never ending terror over him and his Willine. If he had only known the pain that would come, he wouldn’t have gone through with this. He stood there questioning his intentions with this girl. If her were some other poor fool, he would never have asked. He knew he would have to stand brave in his impending death or his cowardly victory before Valentin’s shot gun which was perched forcefully in his face. In that moment, he was defeated. He was staring into the barrel of the old man’s’ shot gun. There in his suit and tie, he
was dressed and prepared for his own death. The old man gave a grimacing chuckle as he watched the boy squeal as the barrel drew near to press into his face. Eddy stood there shielding Willine, his bride, from the weapon. “What is to become of us,” Eddy pleaded. Eugene could no longer watch and wait. He raced from his pew to the alter at his son’s side. Madame was close behind, shouting and pleading for her husband not to get involved. His one and only child stood their helpless. Coming to his child’s rescue he pushed his son back from the gun and lodged it into his own chest. Valentin, drilled with anger, gripped the gun more fiercely, pushing it into Eugene’s gut. “You want to shoot someone? Shoot me. You have gone too far. Put down you weapon and go home. GO HOME! Ou fout FOU! (You are mad), FOU! (MAD) Makack, quite ti moun yo vivre (Monkey, let these children live), If anyone shall die, it shall be me and you. As you may shoot dead in this church, before God, you shall live to die in your own misery.” Eugene barked pushing the barrel down between Valentin’s knees. Valentin, in his own persistence, rang out in laughter at Eugene’s lame attempt to subdue him. His roar echoed through the cathedral. He looked around to see guest scurry like roaches out the cathedral doors. He knew how to make an entrance, the kind that would leave scars. In his mind he would never lose. As long as he walked the earth, his daughter would not rest, would never cry, would never love as long as he saw fit. “Na meld pour nous bun moun fou (To hell with you mad people) Fout meld pour nous bun animal (To hell with all you animals), Con lan guiet Maman (Fuck all of you), Ou fout chat maron (you fucking brown cat), Qui sa ou corne de marriage? (What do you know of marriage?) he delivered to the remaining congregation. He yanked the gun from Eugene’s grip and backed himself into a pew. He swung his gun over his sweat drenched shoulder and cried out in laughter. His laugh echoed through the courtyard and diminished as he disappeared into the blinding sun outside. He laughed. Eddy rushed to his weeping wife. With his mother and father by his side, and the church in a holy silence, they held one another. Willine looked at Eddy, Eddy at Eugene. Eugene reached searching for his wife’s shaking hand. Assemble yo crier. (Together they cried.)
Hand and hand, together they cried. They made their way back across the street, over the bridge, onto the porch, and into their house. * 1st of March Delmar 44, Port au Prince, Haiti The school doors opened and children spilled out into the now empty streets. Willine and Eddy, skipped through the serge of children managing their way for yet another time. Main a main, épaule a épaule; ensemble yo marcher. (Hand and hand, shoulder to shoulder; they walked.) They made their journey together. Eddy would smile and Willine would surely smile back. At the doorstep, their hands would finally unravel from one another. Eddy had done his job. He had delivered Willine to her doorstep like he was asked. This was the 1st of March. “Cet un belle jour, pour un belle occacion…eh! (This is a beautiful day for a beautiful occasion.)” Eddy announced. “Ce vrai, (That’s right)” she replied. “Bon Anniversaire Willine! (Happy Birthday!) he said as he planted a coy kiss upon her cheek. Willine, coyly, did the same. She quickly placed her goodbye upon Eddy’s cheek leaving him in a boyish blush. “Tomorrow,” she said. “Tomorrow,” he replied. There she would enter her father’s gates; and as the gates closed between them, they both could live in the anticipation of the next long walk to school. Blushed by the days to come, Eddy hummed as he walked across the street, over the bridge, on to his porch, and into his house.
Among These Old Ways Aimee Stokes
Robert Frost was on my mind as I leaned into apple boughs, fragrant with nectar in the thick June warmth. Indecisive storm clouds had at last conceded to the afternoon sun, and glistening orchards beckoned us, Wendi and me, out of the farmhouse and up into the branches to search out the most ready specimens. On went front-pocketed aprons, and then out through the kitchen, through the screeching screen door. Not a week before, I had decided, somewhat on a whim, to visit my old friend and spend some days on the farm where she lives and works alongside its octogenarian proprietors, Joe and Louise McBride. Four hours on I-85 took me from Atlanta to Pacolet, a small town southeast of Spartanburg, South Carolina. A carved wooden sign reading “Organic Acres” had greeted me upon arriving at the old farmhouse and the fields that lay beyond it - a legacy of land handed down through ten generations of McBrides. The path from the kitchen door to the orchard gate took us past white wooden boxes full of honeycombs and honeybees. “It only makes sense to keep honeybees on a farm,” Wendi pointed out, gesturing to the humming cloud that hovered just a few yards to our right. “They help with the pollination, plus we get another food source, and another source of income, if we sell the honey.” Joe had been teaching her all about these industrious little helpers and the pivotal role they play in an organic farming enterprise - and, in turn, how important organic practices are in preserving the honeybee population at large. More crucial than any piece of expensive or complex farm machinery, an ample population of healthy honeybees ensures a higher yield of better quality produce. And refusing to utilize chemical pesticides, she explained, is one of the key ways the McBrides maintain the health of their honeybee colonies. Up in the branches, we found plenty of small, speckled apples to cherish in hand, lift down, and not let fall. We talked of this and that, of what had filled the years that had passed between us, while leisurely filling apron pockets and bushel baskets. We left more than two or three unpicked upon the boughs, and saw that many more had struck the earth, been bruised or spiked with stubble. Beneath us, a carpet of once-hanging fruit was now free to become a meal for some passing woodland creature - some deer or rabbit or excavating worm - or, if nothing else, to degenerate and decompose, becoming food for the tree from which it fell. They posed no danger, she explained: these trees, like all of Joe McBride’s crops, were never assaulted with poisonous potions such as some farmers use for the warding off of hungry pests and encroaching weeds. Joe understood that the earth requires a portion of every harvest; a little loss is to be expected and must be accounted for. From our perch, we could see Joe on his tractor, turning up a nearby
plot. A man who has witnessed more than eight decades and who often asks you to “speak a little louder,” Joe’s quavering voice and stooped shoulders betray a remarkable agility that becomes evident as he makes his rounds, tending to each plow-hewn field that dapples his South Carolina farm. His family had acquired this land more than two hundred years earlier, and while much of the property has been sold off over the years, he and Louise, now with Wendi, manage to maintain several dozen acres of fertile soil. Just before Independence Day, hip-high cornstalks were beginning to reveal golden ears, laden tomato vines climbed skyward within wire cages, and burgeoning bushes offered a bounty of ripening blueberries. Chestnut groves, flanking either side of the farmhouse, bore an abundance of prickly spheres (the ripening fruit of which, in six month’s time, would likely be found roasting on open fires). And behind the house, beyond the shed, near the apple orchards where we occupied ourselves that afternoon, plum trees and pear trees intermingled beside rows of muscadine vines, weighed down with heavy clusters of pale green pearls awaiting a mason jar fate. Nearby, several plots, after a full season’s rest, lay combed and naked and tender, ready to receive new seed - heirloom seed - whose produce (unlike their sterile, genetically modified counterparts) would be sure to engender another generation of virile seed for the following season’s sowing. In just a matter of weeks, Joe’s newly furrowed earth would billow into rows of lettuces and cucumbers, carrots and bean bushes - companions in a thoughtfully mixmatched patchwork of diverse plant life. So arranged, each species would stand sentinel for the others, warding off disease and pests without any need for hazardous, artificial chemicals. Unlike Frost’s speaker, I doubt I could ever have too much of applepicking. Still, the waning sun was inviting us to leave the trees and call it a day; we’d gathered enough apples for one pie, at least. In the kitchen, we emptied apron pockets and set baskets on the counter, calling for Louise to come and inspect our finds. Enough for two pies, she reckoned, setting them aside for that purpose. Tomorrow, discarded skins, stems, and seeds would be added to the ever-growing hill of fermenting organic matter that stood at a necessary distance from the house. Eventually, it would all end up back in the earth, providing sustenance to succeeding generations of crops. This was the way all things happened here, it seemed: the elder giving of itself to enrich the younger - acquiescence to an eternal, sacred rhythm, like breathing in and breathing out with face pressed up against the chest of the ground, listening for and following with the cadence buried there. These were ancient paths, wise and ageless ways of being with the earth, practiced and
honored on a small farm in South Carolina. As the horizon drank up the last of the twilight, Joe forsook his fields for the light and warmth of the kitchen where we stood discussing apples. Each of us was stained with varying degrees of rich, dark earth. Moments later, aprons off and hands scrubbed clean, we gathered for grace around the farmhouse table; aromas of yesterdayâ€™s harvest had summoned us, young and old, to the evening meal.
Kathy Gavin “Get up and get me another beer, girl!’” He slammed his fist on the table and I jumped up and ran to the refrigerator. It was nearly Thanksgiving but the weather was unusually warm. I wondered if it was the Georgia heat that was making him so thirsty. “Here, Daddy,” I said timidly as I placed the beer in front of him and backed away. I didn’t dare take my eyes off him until I was far enough away that he couldn’t hit me. Then I turned and ran to my bedroom and slammed the door. As I stood there, leaning up against the door as if to provide a barricade to keep him away from me, I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror over the dresser. My long blond hair was tousled about my face, which was stricken with fear. My blue eyes were like those of a wild animal caught in a trap. “What in the hell is all that racket about?” he shouted, and I heard his chair tumble over as he struggled to stand and get his balance. It was like this every Friday night, and I had come to dread the weekends because of his drinking and the unpredictability of his actions. I could hear his heavy feet plodding down the hallway of our little trailer; his steps sounded like the “thud, thud, thud” of a walking Frankenstein as his work boots slammed down on the linoleum. “What in the Sam Hill is going on in here?” I stood up as he opened my door. He stood looming in my doorway. His 6-foot-2 frame, dressed in a brown mechanic’s uniform that was grimy with dirt and grease stains, was swaying unsteadily as if the floor underneath him was moving back and forth. I looked at his sky blue eyes, now bloodshot from the beer he had been drinking, and then my gaze caught the rising fist that he threatened me with. “Daddy, it’s okay, nothing’s going on in here. The wind slammed the door, Daddy. I swear.” I stood as tall as my 5-foot-4 frame would allow and tried to look him in the eye, but having told a lie, I couldn’t. “Daddy, don’t hit me! Please! Don’t you remember - it’s my birthday? Did you see the birthday cake Mama baked me?” I was trying to stall him. I wanted so badly for him to leave me alone. “It has sixteen candles on it, and it’s beautiful.” “Shut the hell up,” he growled at me as he shook his fist. “If I’ve told you once, I’ve told you a hundred times: Don’t slam the goddamn door!” My room was small and I was standing too close to him. That fist transformed to a human paddle and smacked my face before I could react. I fell to the floor as I screamed. The pain and humiliation were too much. I felt the hot tears roll down my cheeks and onto my lips. Automatically, my tongue licked up the salty reminder of the sadness that had pervaded my life. I was an animal trapped in a cage that I couldn’t escape. Daddy’s alcoholism closed in on me like the cold steel bars I had seen around a lion at the zoo. The animal had paced back and forth, roaring angrily as it did so. I crawled into my bed and pushed my face deep into
my pillow as I screamed, “I hate you! I hate you! I hate you!” until I no longer felt anything. Except exhaustion. And sadness. Eventually, I slept. That winter turned out to be one of the coldest I could remember. Spring came upon us with the promise of renewal and hope. I loved to see the daffodils blooming in our neighbor’s yard; they were so beautiful with their bright yellow petals and lush green stems standing up so pretty in clumps of two, three, and sometimes more. They really brightened up the trailer park we lived in. I always wished that we had some flowers for our yard but instead we had a bare patch of ground where some crabgrass grew. The south side of the yard had a garden spot where Daddy raised a few vegetables. That was one of Daddy’s pastimes that I found acceptable. I’ll never forget Easter that particular year. I woke up that morning just like any other, feeling hungry and apprehensive of what the day might bring. Mama and Daddy were already up drinking their coffee and reading the newspaper. I could see my Easter basket on the kitchen table. It was colorful with the brightly decorated Easter eggs, sweet little candy eggs of every color, and my favorite: Cadbury eggs. “Oh, Mama. I love my Easter basket,” I said as I picked up the basket and began to rummage through it. “You got all my favorites, didn’t you?” “Well, I tried my best, you know,” Mama said as she smoothed the ruffles on her yellow nightgown. “I know you love those fancy eggs; that’s why there’s so many of them in there.” I sat down beside her and put my arm around her neck. “I love you, Mama,” I whispered. She hugged me and responded with her own, “I love you, too.” I never understood my mother. How could she stand being married to Daddy with all his drinking and carrying on? And deeper in my gut I felt a hatred towards her because she didn’t stop him from hurting me all these years. “Your daddy has something special for you. Why don’t you ask him what it is?” This came as a surprise to me as Daddy never really took much interest in Easter. Before I could say a word, he was out the door and headed for his shed. “Gee, Mama, what’s wrong with Daddy this morning?” “Well, he got into the peach wine last night, and you know that wine gives him the worst hangovers. It won’t be long before he’ll need a little hair of the dog that bit him to bring him out of his funk.” The door opened up and Daddy walked in carrying a milk crate stuffed with newspaper. A strange rustling sound could be heard inside the newspaper. “Here you go, Eva. The Easter Bunny left this for you.” Mama was all
smiles as he handed me the crate, and as I took it, I looked down at the sweetest little white bunny rabbit. I held back tears as I put the crate down and reached up to hug Daddy. “Thank you, Daddy. I didn’t know you could be so . . .” I faltered as I realized I was being too truthful. It was the kindest thing he had done in a long time. “Uh, I mean I didn’t know you liked rabbits.” “Well, when I was young we raised rabbits and sold them. I always thought they were good pets. They don’t need a lot of attention; just give them food, water, and a pen. Yeah, I figured you might like to have a rabbit of your own.” “Thank you very much. That’s very nice of you.” I had always thought my daddy was a monster. He had teased me and been mean to me ever since I could remember. Once I turned thirteen and had some size to me, he started taking out his frustrations on me . . . with his hands. I had been slapped around quite a bit the last few years. So what was the point of this little rabbit? Here he was, giving me this innocent little creature that I immediately loved, as if this gift could cover his guilt. Was he trying to make up for a lifetime of cruelty with this silly little rabbit? Well, I could see right through that like it was a plate glass window. And with that thought, I took my bunny and my Easter basket and went into my room. I sat down on the little green rug and opened a Cadbury egg. It tasted so delicious: sweet, smooth, and creamy. Mmmm. It just melted in my mouth so I ate another one. I wished that life could be this sweet. I still hated him. He was stupid if he thought he could win me over with this dumb little rabbit. The rabbit looked up at me and wrinkled its nose; then it hopped around the room. It’s probably looking for a way out of here. This thought surprised me. It was as if the bunny was actually doing what I had always dreamed of doing: looking for a way out of here. Too bad, little rabbit, you’re stuck here, just like me. “I’m going to call you Snow White,” I told the bunny. I ate part of the chocolate bunny that had stood so tall in my basket, put the real bunny back in its crate, and I went back to sleep. Easter! Whoop-de-do! People of faith might be celebrating today, but I certainly wasn’t. Eventually, Daddy built a pen for Snow White that was plenty big for her, and he took an interest in tending to her. Sometimes I would see him lift her gently from her pen and stroke her with his big hands, dark with stains contrasting with her beautiful snow white fur. It seemed to bother him that she had to stay in her cage all the time. Sometimes I thought how that rabbit was a symbol of him and me: it seemed to be doomed to a life of imprisonment and
misery. Daddy was bound by his responsibilities, his drinking, and his anger. I was bound by my dependency on my parents, the shame I felt as a result of living with a drunk, and the abuse I could not escape. My life was such a mess. How could I ever bring a boyfriend home to my little prison? One Saturday morning I was looking out my window when I saw Daddy out by the rabbit’s pen with some rope and a pocket knife in his hands. My mind instantly brought the image of him cutting Snow White. Oh my God. He’s going to kill my rabbit! “Daddy,” I screamed as I ran out of the trailer to where he was standing. “Please don’t hurt my rabbit” I pleaded. “It’s okay,” he assured me as he cut a section of rope. “I was telling your mama that I thought this rabbit needed a little freedom to move about. Since the yard isn’t completely fenced in, I am making Snow White a leash out of this rope so that she won’t have to stay in her cage all the time.” He looped one end of the rope and tied a slip knot. Once he adjusted it to the size of the rabbit’s neck, he put it on her and tied the other end to the fence separating our yard from our neighbor’s yard. “Look here, now. She can hop around all she wants. Seems to me that every living creature should have some freedom, even if it is limited.” The rope was about ten feet long which gave the rabbit free reign over a good bit of yard. I watched as she hopped about, then stopped to nibble some grass, then hop around some more. “How about going inside and getting me a beer.” I did, and when I came back Daddy popped the top on that Pabst Blue Ribbon, tilted it back, and guzzled beer while his Adam’s apple bobbed up and down. It kind of reminded me of how the rabbit bobbed up and down on its new leash. He took the beer from his lips and wiped his mouth with his shirt sleeve and let out an “Ahhh” that rivaled anything I’d ever seen in any soda pop commercial. “That’s mighty good.” He got his hoe out and began to work in the garden. I decided to go to a friend’s house to get away for a while. For once, I felt peaceful and happy. Daddy’s idea seemed like a pretty good one, although I was curious what the my friends would have to say about a rabbit on a rope in our yard. But then that awful feeling came to me like something bad was bound to happen. God, can’t I ever just have a good thought without a bad one sneaking in behind it? As I walked to my friend’s house, I mused at the audacity of life always arm wrestling me: Here I am trying to feel good, and life just wants to slam me down like the loser I am. God, help me. Just give me some hope that one day I’ll roar like the lion at the zoo, and on that day you’ll open my cage and set me free. I spent the rest of the day at my friend’s
house listening to the radio and dreaming of what we were going to do when we grew up. I was admiring the sunset on my way home that evening, and I was feeling a sense of peace. My friend and I had talked about the places we were going to travel to and the things we would see. I had felt a lot of hope for both of us. Sometimes the universe just seems to send a message when you least expect it and as I gazed into that glorious red sunset, I heard myself say out loud, “Thank you, God.” As I walked down the driveway toward the trailer, I could see Mama and Daddy sitting on the steps of the front porch. Daddy had his head bowed down and he was holding something in his lap. I could see it was a white bath towel, but as I got closer I could see Snow White was inside of it. She wasn’t moving. “You killed my rabbit! You killed Snow White!” I screamed at him. “He didn’t do it, Eva,” mama said sympathetically. “A dog got after her. We were inside watching TV when we heard a dog barking. We looked out the window and saw that she had tried to get away from the dog, but when she got to the end of the rope her neck broke - just like that,” and mama snapped her fingers. “There was nothing we could do. It all happened so fast.” I didn’t believe her. I began to scream, “I hate you, Daddy. I hate you.” I grabbed my rabbit from him, and I stood there glaring at him with all my might. “I should’ve known you’d kill my rabbit! You’re just a mean old bastard! All my life you have knocked me around. And now I see you for what you are – a psycho drunk! You killed an innocent animal. From now on, go pick on someone your own size.” He finally raised his head up and looked at me. “Your mama’s right. A dog went after her and she couldn’t get away because she was tied up. I never laid a hand on your rabbit. You know that I loved her. I wouldn’t have hurt her.” I could see tears rolling down his face as he got out his handkerchief out of his back pocket and blew his nose. “So, you wouldn’t hurt a rabbit that you loved. Well, what about me? Is that it, you don’t love me? You sure as hell hurt me whenever you wanted to. When you’re drunk, I am the one most likely to get it from you. How many times have I cried myself to sleep, wondering what I did to deserve all the pain you’ve put me through? But you wouldn’t hurt a rabbit? Go to hell, old man.” I shoved the rabbit back in his arms and I ran to my bedroom. I slammed the door as hard as I could. As I lay on my bed crying, I thought about what Mama had said. I thought about what Daddy had said. Then I thought about what I had said.
Maybe he didn’t kill the rabbit. What if a dog had chased Snow White until her neck snapped? Could it be Daddy was telling the truth? And what had I done? Told him I hated him. Called him a drunk. Accused him of not loving me. He deserved it whether he killed my rabbit or not. Mama knocked on my door and asked if she could come in. I got up from my bed and opened the door. “Honey, you know your Daddy wouldn’t hurt that rabbit on purpose, especially knowing how much you loved it. He feels really bad and he knows that he let you down. Do you think you can forgive him?” Maybe she was right. I knew that Daddy loved me, and I knew that I loved him. But I couldn’t face him. The anger I had stuffed away all these years had finally surfaced. I needed some time to settle down. When I came out of my bedroom that evening, he was sitting at the kitchen table with a man that I had never seen before. “Eva,” he said quietly, “This is Bill. I called Alcoholics Anonymous and they sent him over to talk to me. I am going to an AA meeting tonight; he’s going to take me. I’ve got to stop this drinking. I want you to know, as long as I live, I’ll never hurt you again. I mean that. I am sorry for what I’ve done in the past. It won’t happen again.” Somewhere off in the distant night a dog was howling. What I heard was the roar of a lion.
Lesley Bohannon Do you remember? The day the heavens exploded? Do you still see it as clearly as I do? How there was so much light, how tremendously the earth shook, how there was so much noise and yet somehow no sound? You were there with me. You had my hand in yours. Together we watched as the pillars fell from the sky. The idol faces judged us until the end, united in their censure. The stars rained across their marbled cheeks like tears as they crumbled to nothingness. You told me that you were there for me. You said that there was no need to worry. You said there was nothing to fear. There was no need to cry because you were with me. But they were lies. In the palm of my hand the gravity of your desperation quaked against me. Though you stood unrelenting, your mighty eyes fulminating against the enemy, you were as small as I. Our hearts and souls burst to pieces staining our faces with sooty refuse. They ripped apart into ditches and fissured open into cliffs beneath our feet bleeding out our happiness until we ran dry. The barriers of our spirits so erect, so aged, so wise, so strong began to bend by their will, snapping our rooted trunks. The branches of our life’s symphony knelt before them until they surrendered at their feet. They took a step and we felt tired. They squeezed our lungs free of life and filled us with a noxious miasma of despondency. I was destroyed. I desired to fall to my knees under the weight of devastation. My alacritous prayers spilled from my eyes as I watched the heavens open before us. The savage clouds mushroomed into themselves and hemorrhaged unspeakable hues of fiery crimsons, blinding whites, scorching oranges, smoldering blues, and intolerant blacks and grays. The paean of Azrael, Michael, and Sandalphon melted to antagonizing shrieks as destruction enervated their canon. The nebulous distinction of life and the hereafter was no more. Do you remember? How you pulled me up by your hand and bestowed me with salvation? Your hope was audacious, your faith austere, your resolution axiomatic. Your will haloed through me. You ushered me from my limitations and provoked something within me I had nearly forgotten—the need to endure. I broke free from my shackles of doubt and followed your lead. I surrendered myself to you. I sacrificed my very being blindly unto you without reserve. We bounded over great lengths. We cleared distances we never dreamed of traversing. But no matter our speed our escape seemed futile. They would obliterate everything until we stood for nothing. Their callous tentacles stretched over our heads. The sound of gears rattled and cranked into a discordant harmony that grated across our teeth. Their demoralizing, alloy-plated boots plummeted deep into our foundations. In their wake they soiled us with their gluttonous, perfidious truth. With eyes astute as an owl’s gaze and hunger voracious as a vulture’s appetite their barrels coiled within their bellies and
regurgitated their theories hot as hell’s fury into the skies. Hearing our feeble steps they snaked their necks around themselves. Their rotary joints hummed with ease as they contorted their heads into unspeakable positions. They rose up like cobras, flattening their necks and flashing their hoods of sporadic light. Beams of cobalt blue zigzagged over our bodies scanning our forms from tip to toe. Something erupted in our chests, something that sparked at our fingertips and pulsated through us into one. I believe they felt it before we did. I believe they understood what we had become before we existed. The nascent creed burned our flesh. You pushed me from their line of fire as their horns hissed vehemently. Their barrels cocked as they readied to aim their irascible invective. You didn’t waver. Your strength, an insurmountable Everest, poured through your flesh and made you stone. Unlike them you didn’t stand to rebuke. You held out your arms to exculpate. It could have been my mind’s eye or the barrage of lights at my retina but what I saw I will never forget. Encompassing your corporeal frame a golden light pulsated with the steady rhythm of your beating heart. The genial vibrations that cradled my childish deficiencies, the exact same salubrious vibrations that washed over me countless times, ruptured the empty space about us. Like the regal wings of Horus it spread. Its calidity dried away the trepidations that cascaded down my cheeks. Your words, hymns of old, spilled from your lips. In the name of forgiveness you spoke and with the touch of your hand upon their frigid shell the weight of your magnanimity washed over them. Their apparatuses rusted. Their joints locked. Their spindles broke. From underneath, their power fell away and they collided back to their rightful rung. Hollow cries blared from the trumpeted mouths of their brethren. The seed of retribution blossomed in our wake. From all around they slithered their retractable necks and blanketed us in their unnatural lights. I precipitated myself to your side. As if I could stymie any harm that would befall unto you, I casted myself upon you, encircling you with my body. Their truculent barrels fired. Our ears rang from the dissonant roar. All at once your amber brilliance domed over us. From a single touch my skin began to prickle. I was engulfed in a tidal wave of searing glory. The flame beneath my skin blazed through my pores. Like a catalyst we combusted, synthesizing into one. Your golden light burst into a vague mist and our world eroded to white. A rancid smog of carbon blistered inside my lungs. Black powder, acrid and thick, secreted down my throat. My mouth ran dry like desert sand. I opened my eyes born anew. Beneath my hand I felt your vitality rise and fall. Amid the dust you lay. The effete lament of the stars exhumed you from your cavernous
slumber. From your chest I rose. We stood to our feet with an infant’s grace. We were alone. My ears felt as if they would burst from the profound silence that lingered over us. In the distance our enemies belted savagely, too far to sully us. Do you remember? How the moon shone like the sun? Illuminating our virginal haven in a tempest of blues and grays, its proximity loomed before us. As if it would splinter the earth itself it claimed the horizon. Powerless against Phoebe’s cries Atlas reached out to cradle her. Tremendous tremors convulsed all around. Tumbling, stumbling, colliding about, we did our best to keep our ground. Mother Earth broke apart unable to endure our suffering. Father Sky thundered for her agony. When the pain could no longer be cried for, when the world had no more tears to shed, it all ceased to harrowing tranquility. Before our eyes the universe spelled our fate. The scales had been tipped. Lines had been crossed. Our axis was askew, dipping low into dark abyss. Mountains became hills. Valleys became deserts. Streams ran to rivers, thick with the garnet oils of us all. “Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me?” I cried. There was no hope. There was no faith. To go on while forsaken…such madness in reverie. You were the first to venture out into their world. You were the first to peer into their canted skies. Perhaps you saw something I did not. Perhaps you heard when I wished not to hear. Your clothes lethargic and worn hung to your shoulders set strong. “Because he loves me, I will rescue him.” Your voice came rhythmic. Your voice came unyielding. “I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.” Your words washed over me. They whispered to my irresolution. “He will call on me, and I will answer him.” My heart rattled in its cage, turning violently. “I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him.” Though my eyes burned the tears did not come. “With long life I will satisfy him and show him my salvation.” With your final word you turned to me. Your eyes held love like they always had. Your movement was grace in the most forbearing of ways. In a single motion you freed me from my intrinsic condemnation. To your side I stood basking in your conviction. I took your hand there and then. Your fingers knotted with mine…you were with me. Do you remember?
Suburban Subdivision Jenna Gerlach
I remember hearing the lake was full of water moccasins. Mom wouldn’t let even one curious toe slip into the green water. Not toes so precious, so delicious, and so hopelessly little girl pink. Water moccasins loved girl-toes. My friend Amy told me once that it wasn’t so; they didn’t exist. Snakes only lived in Texas. I wanted to believe her. Three lonely gravestones were planted in the cul-de-sac five houses down—makeshift Peace incarcerated within a concrete median. No one knew who they were or why those three were spared while their identically defunct compatriots were moved. Or destroyed. Or whatever it is developers do with the exponentially accumulating bodies from the past. I’d dream they were the remnants of a royal family, having long-lost their castle to the Charleston marshes, their graves important enough to be encased in that grassy island with the single tree. Dracula lived down the street in the house with all the red begonias. I would swear no one ever saw him outside of his Halloween-darkened house— sporting his flashing bowtie and glow in the dark fangs, annually terrifying those trick-or-treaters brave enough to seek a glimpse through the long window panels by his front door. Monsters make for impossible neighbors. The widowed victim of the 1989 UA Flight 232 crash next door routinely stalked her heavily curtained windows. Her house was always shabby, always unkempt. Dad said the weeds must have made her feel safer, insulating her and the guilt. A five-year-old me left a blanket on her front stoop one day, sad that she was so cold. But mostly I remember when the odd sound of medical machinery— bleeping, chirping, whirling from beside the bed my parents shared—stopped on a dime, sitting heavy on the air as my grandmother’s hand uncurled and the surviving parties let out a hostage breath. And how could I forget how I still heard those bleeps, faintly, in my oblivious playtime, as though my house had simply decided in that one irrevocable moment to become haunted.
Unheard Screams Stephanie Hines
Fourteen-year-old Kayla rushed outside of the dance studio, wincing as the summer heat warmed her pale skin. Looking across the street, she saw her mother’s black Mercedes parked near the curb. Even though she couldn’t see through the tinted windows, she knew that her mother, Tabitha, was slouched down in her seat as her well-manicured nails tapped restlessly on the driver’s wheel. She and her mother were like oil and water. Her mother always joked that Kayla was the water that moved fluidly and she was the oil that didn’t understand why she couldn’t just mix with her. Kayla didn’t understand the necessity of shopping, looking your best, and carrying yourself with such grace as if you were better than everybody else. She lifted the chrome handle and slid into the black leather cushions as her mother muttered, “It’s about time.” Kayla placed her small duffle bag in the backseat, closed the door, and put on her seatbelt. “I told you I wouldn’t get done until one.” She nodded at the digital clock that was connected to the dash board. “It’s only 1:03.” “When I say be out on time, I mean it, Kayla.” Her mother turned her key in the ignition and checked her reflection in the rearview mirror. Kayla slid down in her seat as she watched her mother smooth down her already straightened auburn hair. “Did you forget that we’re supposed to be going over to my mother’s for lunch today?” she questioned, pulling from the dance studio and into the flow of traffic. “No.” Her mother glanced at her attire in disgust. “Well you’re not going dressed like that. You have ten minutes to rush into the house and put on something decent like a dress or something. Better yet, wear that blue spring dress that my mother bought you.” She nodded as she continued, “She’ll love seeing you in that.” Kayla looked down at her black, baggy jogging pants and navy blue camisole and sighed, “Okay.” Later, Kayla fidgeted in her seat as her mother drove through the black, iron gates that cut others off from the house that sat in the midst of the trees. A paved path led to the three-story, white brick house, which was surrounded by beautiful flowers and rosebushes. Gardeners kept the grass clean cut and the variety of bushes trimmed. Once she was out of the car, she trailed after her mother up the large brown steps that led to the front door. Her mother raised the bronze knocker and banged it softly against the door. As the double doors opened to reveal a large entrance way, Kayla plastered a smile on her face. To anyone else, this large estate would’ve been like walking into a fairy tale where all
your dreams will come true at a blink of an eye. To Kayla, it was pure hell. “Good evening, dears. Better late than never I see?” her grandmother, Mariam, said, her cool eyes chastising them. Kayla said nothing as her soft cheeks brushed against Mariam’s, performing the expected airy kisses. Mariam snapped her fingers and the butler rushed forward to close the double doors as they stepped inside. Kayla glanced at the vaulted ceiling and the multiple chandeliers that hanged from it. Her silver baby doll shoes caused her steps to echo across the oak floorboards as she walked through the foyer, past the living room, and into the wide hallway, away from her mother and Miriam’s conversing voices. Her hands grazed the white walls that held different portraits of the generations of Morrows as she walked further down the hall and closer towards the music room. She’s done this plenty of times before, but each time for the past few months, she was accompanied with silence. This time was different. She couldn’t stop her smile from forming as she heard the melody coming from the music room. Once she reached the room, her left palm touched the mahogany door as her right clasped the golden door knob. She cracked the door wide enough so she could easily slip inside without being noticed and silently closed the door behind her. This was her only favorite room in the house and it was all thanks to the man who sat behind the piano. Walking around the black varnished cello that sat on its stand towards the left of the room, she forced herself not to run up the white carpeted stairs that led up to the piano. Her uncle, Timothy, sat in front of the piano, his long fingers dancing across the white keys of the black, concert grand piano. She walked to the side of the piano and rubbed her fingertips against the golden embroidered Steinway & Sons logo. Looking at her uncle, she recalled the similarities of her mother and him. Their brown eyes, auburn hair, lanky height, and strong cheekbones made them the spitting image of each other. Unlike his older sister, however, he was rebellious and did everything on his own terms and whenever he wanted. He followed his own rules and refused to be ruled by his parents. Sometimes she wondered if her mother envied that about him. Whenever Kayla spoke up about something, her mother would tell her that she was acting just like Timothy. Then she would give her this odd look that questioned if she will ever be as bold as him. “Dance for me, Kayla,” his deep voice asked, his fingers still stroking the keys without missing a beat. Smiling, she looked up into his dark brown eyes. This was a game they never tire of whenever he was in town. She tilted her chin, forcing herself to look
down on him, “Timothy, I possibly can’t.” His brow wrinkled in confusion, “Why not, my dear?” Folding her hands in front of her dress, she tilted her head even higher. “If you must know, it’s absolutely unladylike for me to behave in such a manner.” He shook his head and looked back down at the keys. “Such a pity that a talent like yours is wasted.” She turned away from him, her hands clasping the black railing before her. “You wanna know something, dear?” Sighing, she replied, “I guess I have no choice, now do I?” He chuckled. “You know, rules are meant to be broken.” He transitioned smoothly out of Bach’s piece and into something that was unfamiliar to her. She glanced back over her shoulder at him. “Your own music?” “But of course. I let it take over. No restrictions. Just me and my piano. I hear it’s the same with you and dance. I would love nothing more than to see if you can create your own piece. Or are you stuck with those old-fashioned rules?” Turning her head back to the front, she stated, “I’m not dressed properly for dance.” “Since when has that stopped you before?” He smiled as he challenged, “Can you possibly keep up with the music, Kayla?” Kayla turned to the left and walked down the stairs, her right hand grazing the stairs’ railing. She removed her shoes and stepped out onto the center of the floor, facing the piano. She looked up at her uncle and said, “You know, I was perfectly fine with not having to prove myself, but since you insist.” She twirled, causing the fabric of her blue and white dress to flare out. “I suggest you keep up.” She danced across the room to the music as her uncle played different melodies. Whenever the music reached a crescendo, she was right along with it and whenever Timothy slowed the piece, she was right behind him. Timothy became one with the piano as she became one with the music. She loved this tango that they did, as he became free just like her. Nobody understood this moment as much as he did. The soles of her feet moved across the plush, white carpet as she moved with the same fluidity his fingers moved on the keyboard. As she picked up speed, the wind she created caused her dress to move and lift and all sorts of directions. None of this mattered. Dancing was much more than just utilizing one’s body; when she danced, she danced with her heart and soul. She would’ve kept on dancing had he not stopped the music. She stood in the center of the room and could’ve sworn that the sound of the piano still echoed
within it, ringing into her ears. Kayla smiled as Timothy enveloped her into his arms. “I missed you, Rugrat,” he murmured into her hair. “Well, you wouldn’t have to miss me so much if you actually took a break from all those concerts you’ve been doing.” Laughing, he ruffled her black hair. “Hey, I have no choice. Speaking of choices, I love what you did to your hair.” Kayla smiled. “Thanks.” Her once long black hair was chopped off by her stylist two weeks ago when she asked for something new. She loved the bob even more when her mother freaked out when she first saw it. Her mother expected her to just get a wash and trim, not a haircut that barely reached her shoulders. Everyone else loved it and her dance teacher told her that it elongated her neck even more, making her appear a lot more graceful. “How long are you in town for this time?” He was gone for almost a year, performing his works in multiple countries. She hoped this time he would actually stay longer than he did the last time. “I don’t have to leave until the end of October.” She smiled. “So, I have you for three whole months. Wow, a new record.” He chuckled. “Yeah, yeah. I’m starved. Let’s go see what my dear mother has for us today.” Her smiled dropped as she remembered why she was here. “Oh, yeah. Lunch.” • Kayla’s fingers brushed the ends of the white lace tablecloth that was just a crisp as the white napkin that sat in her lap. Miriam was going on and on about some event that she was invited to in town. She looked to the left, past her mother, to where her grandfather was sitting at the head of the table. Looking at him and her grandmother, who sat to the right of him, she couldn’t help but think how odd the two were together. Miriam was the one who was always focused on the latest gossip and what was and wasn’t appropriate; whereas, her grandfather was always quiet with his glasses pushed up so close to his face, it was a wonder that he could see everything clearly. He rarely said two words to her whenever they visited, but she never took it personal seeing how he hardly spoke to anyone, not even Miriam. Kayla let out a light gasp when she felt a sharp pinch on her left thigh. “Sit up straight,” her mother whispered into her ear, smiling as if she was sharing good news with her.
Kayla straightened her back and stared into the white porcelain bowl in front of her. Picking up her fork, she combed through the fresh salad as Miriam talked about her mother’s latest achievements. “Did I tell you that her book was among the top best-seller’s list? She’s doing a book signing this weekend at the downtown library,” Miriam said before taking a sip of her cool wine. Not once did she mention the accomplishments Timothy made or the number of sold out arenas he performed in. She rather talk about the different books her mother sold rather than bring up the fact that Timothy was famous world-wide because of the music he’s composed. Kayla looked up, catching his eyes across the table. She bit back a laugh as he rolled his eyes. “Are you ready for school to start, Kayla?” Kayla’s shocked gaze met Miriam’s green eyes as she stuttered, “Yes Ma’am.” Miriam nodded as she asked her mother, “Please tell me that you took her shopping for some new clothes?” “Not yet, Mother. I was planning on doing that first thing tomorrow.” Well, this is all news to me, Kayla thought as she continued shoveling through her food. “I still can’t believe that you allowed that child to cut her hair.” That was her grandmother: boasting one moment and condescending the next. “I mean look at it,” she continued. “I do hope you don’t expect to find proper suitors with that style, my dear.” Kayla self-consciously stroked her fingers through her hair. “I happen to like it,” Timothy said, giving Kayla a wink. “Of course you would,” Miriam huffed. “I just don’t know what to say about that daughter of yours,” she continued as if Kayla wasn’t sitting diagonally from her. “One minute she decides to give up ballet and the next she chops her hair off.” When Kayla decided to leave Miguel’s Ballet Dance Academy and join Dreams Dance Studio four years ago, nobody pitched a fit better than Miriam. She went on and on about how ballet was the traditional and more elegant form of dance and that contemporary dance wasn’t going to get her into Julliard. She didn’t understand that the modern style of dance gave her a sense of freedom and allowed her to incorporate other styles, such as jazz, into her choreography. When she was at Miguel’s she had to always follow someone else’s strict choreography and was never allowed to create her own. She was really getting tired of the whole discussion about which is better for her, since it was
her decision to make in the first place. “At the rate she’s going, I just don’t think it’s possible for her to find a proper man who’s willing to court her.” Kayla’s fingers clasped the silver fork so hard that her knuckles begun to whiten. Her mind was screaming for her mother to say something. Anything. She didn’t care as long as she defended her. Her heart was making this loud thumping sound that sounded like a roar in her ears. Her nostrils flared and her breathing deepened as her chest began to tighten. “She’s just too rebellious for her own good. I blame that horrid dance instructor. Ever since she’s been attending that studio, she’s been neglecting her duties and turning down personal invites to social gatherings. Now she’s done the unthinkable and cut off her hair.” Miriam shook her head and let out a tisk. “No, nobody in their right mind will date that child.” “I’m not looking for anyone to date,” Kayla blurted out, shocking everyone, including herself. Miriam’s sharp gaze met hers. “You must respect your elders and only speak when spoken to. Do you understand me?” “But I didn’t disrespect you. I only said—” “Kayla that’s enough,” her mother snapped. “But I—” “Don’t make me repeat myself.” Kayla looked away from her mother’s accusing glare and stared at the salad in front of her. She dropped her fork against her plate, causing a loud clang to echo in the room. Clenching her hands together in her lap, she forced back the tears that were threatening to fall over. Her mother never took her side. She didn’t know why everything that she did was always wrong in her mother’s eyes. Escape, echoed in her mind as Miriam began listing off the things Kayla should and should not do. One doesn’t talk back. One must sit up straight. One should never raise her voice against her elder’s. One mustn’t disrespect anyone. One should look up and listen when being spoken to. “Jesus, Mother, shut up,” Timothy interrupted her speech. Kayla could only look up in shock as Timothy continued. “You know she wasn’t disrespecting you. God, Kayla has put up with yours and Tabitha’s crap and hasn’t said a word against it. If anything you were the one being rude this entire time going on and on about how she’ll never find a proper suitor.” “Of course, you’d take her side, Timothy,” her mother spat. “One, Kayla is way too young to be thinking about who she should be courting,” Timothy continued as if her mother hadn’t said a word. “Two, she’s more than just ‘that child’. She’s your granddaughter and you should be
proud of the fact that she’s the best at something she loves. Julliard or any other performance school for that matter doesn’t discriminate on the type of dance that she does. And the last time I checked, nobody cares if your hair is long or not. It’s the twenty-first century, Mother, so I suggest you catch up.” That being said, he slammed his napkin down. “Now if you’ll excuse me,” he said before pushing his chair back and standing up. “Don’t want you to think that I’m being rude.” Kayla could only watch as Timothy stormed out of the room, leaving her to deal with the aftermath of his speech. Just as she was about to ready herself for whatever words Miriam was going to throw her way, her grandfather cleared his throat. “Well, I do believe that this is one of the best lunches we’ve had in quite a while.” Kayla blinked once. Twice. She could’ve sworn that his eyes twinkled as they met hers. Before she could be certain, he went back to eating. “Congratulations, Tabitha,” Miriam said, addressing her mother. “You’ve raised someone who’s becoming a lot like Timothy. You need to get a hold of that child before she truly ends up like him. Before you know it, she’ll be wild and disrespecting her elders, including you. If it was up to me I would send her off to boarding school.” Kayla stared at the painting that hung on the wall across from her as silence became the ultimate guest in the dining room.
Wednesday, March 21, 2012 Braaaaiiiiiinnnnnnsssss . . .
Published on Nov 1, 2012
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