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November Online Edition

The Vortex

The Vortex UCA’s Undergraduate Literary Magazine

2019


Vortex Staff Faculty Advisor - John Vanderslice Editor-in-Chief - Araya Pomplun Associate Editor - Jack Mitchell Barr Fiction Editor - Riley Hope Fiction Judges

- Gabrielle Elaine Thurman - Kaitlyn Bannon - Emma Lassiter - Brenden Kosters

Nonfiction Editor - Lakota S.G. Kasworm Nonfiction Judges

- Ari Gray - Brooke Brasel

Poetry Editor - Allison Canty Poetry Judges

- Thomas Douglas - Brooke Brasel - B Bertrand - Eddy Guinee

Script Editor - Quade Reed Script Judges

- Cody Tigue - Nicholas Walters

Art Editor - Maegan Wise Art Judges

- Julian Ellis - Emma Lassiter

Podcast editor - Ed Toddy Podcast Crew

- Eddy Guinee - Maegan Wise - Morgan Wilson

Copy Editor - A. Vansickle Layout Editor - Emily Gist


Table of Contents Fiction Ly n n D a c e y The Universe Plays Cruel Games...........................................................................................................2 Only Monsters Tell Lies...............................................................................................................................9 A r ia n n a G r a y In the Between.................................................................................................................................................15 Phoenix................................................................................................................................................................18 G lo r ia H u n t e r The Astronomer’s Letters...........................................................................................................................22 C a le b J o h n s o n Nightmares........................................................................................................................................................27

Nonfiction E m ily G is t Maybe in College............................................................................................................................................36 S arah Graham Redbird................................................................................................................................................................40 G a b r ie lle T h u r m a n How To Be A Cold, Unfeeling Bitch Who Doesn’t Need Anybody, Especially Her Crazy Ex-Girlfriend.......................................................................................................39

Poetry Hannah B arr y Distantly Shorn Lawn Grass.....................................................................................................................52 dogs.......................................................................................................................................................................57 B . B er tran My Cat and I are Rescues..........................................................................................................................56 Allison Canty Escape..................................................................................................................................................................69


Table of Contents K a y lie C o n e A Cast-Out Angel’s Lament.......................................................................................................................54 R ebe c c a Frank e Wishbone............................................................................................................................................................63 S arah Graham Vintage Woods Drive....................................................................................................................................49 My Brain is a Color Television..................................................................................................................58 The Dream..........................................................................................................................................................68 A r ia n n a G r a y Personification of Writer’s Block.............................................................................................................65 On Dragons.......................................................................................................................................................66 L o g a n H o w e ll Cheek Spill.........................................................................................................................................................53 Spoiled Milk.. .....................................................................................................................................................61 Fishnet Giant.....................................................................................................................................................64 Lak ota K asworm Raspberry Vapor.............................................................................................................................................60 A ly s s a M ille r Closets.................................................................................................................................................................70 A s h le y S a v a g e My Thanks to You...........................................................................................................................................50 G a b r ie lle T h u r m a n My Freckles Were Constellations...........................................................................................................48 it makes me feel like a liar.........................................................................................................................62

Art J u lia n E llis Devil’s Den.........................................................................................................................................................74 Emily Gist London Glass Staircase..............................................................................................................................79


Table of Contents K ov e na nt Ja m e s Holy Solidarity in St. Kitts...........................................................................................................................77 E m m a L a s s ite r Blue Lagoon [Cover Image]......................................................................................................................75 Flicker Flicker....................................................................................................................................................76 Tunnel...................................................................................................................................................................78

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The Universe plays cruel games By Lynn Dacey

The lone streetlight always flickered. Even so, it acted as a beacon for Carter as he stumbled up the grassy slope. Every evening, as the sun slipped behind the high hills of Garland, the flickering light lead him to his safest place. At the top of the hill, cast in the light’s eerily calming twinkle, sat a small building that seemed to be pulled directly from the fifties. Its red siding and green roof tiles immediately brought warmth to whoever stepped close to it. The place radiated happiness, drawing patrons near to investigate the stage and set beyond its old oak doors. As Carter’s feet hit the pavement he set off in a sprint, giving in to the theatre’s magnetic pull. The side doors were unlocked on rehearsal days, so up the steps and under the awning he bound. Inside, bright lights hit him and he squinted. Blurry shapes scurried around before taking form as frantic actors who bustled from place to place, worried to death about what props went where. A smile plant-

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ed itself on Carter’s lips as he saw the bustle. His coat and scarf were shed along with the day’s worries. He sat his stuff on a chair and felt an arm wrap around his waist. It pulled him along, catching him off guard. “What the-” he started, but the person attached to the arm shushed him. He pulled Carter to the back of the theatre. He slipped them both behind an old fake door and pressed a kiss to Carter’s lips before he could protest. When he pulled away, Carter smacked his arm with a playful grin. “Evan Rhys Argent, what the actual hell?” Evan smiled and Carter felt himself melt. Evan’s shining caramel eyes made Carter’s dark brown ones look dull, and the stardust upon Evan’s cheeks didn’t help his case. He was already dressed for their rehearsal, and Jack Kelley, the poor newsie of New York City, never looked so good. Dark curls and dark skin tied the bow on the boy’s beauty. “I just wanted to say hello. I haven’t seen you since Tuesday.”

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“Evan, it’s Thursday.” “And? I missed you.” Carter rolled his eyes as he let Evan pull him into an embrace. They were quickly interrupted by a clapping of hands. Gavin Pyre stood poised on the stage, his holy clip-binder tucked under his arm. He looked just as a director should: his greying hair was combed back and accessorized with a pencil behind his ear. His voice cracked as he yelled. “Alright, people! Let’s go! I need everyone in costume, ASAP! I want to get at least one solid run through before we nitpick some things. I want tomorrow to go as smoothly as possible. Charles, bring that ladder over. I need you to help me look at these lights. They keep flickering and I don’t want them to go out on us. Let’s go. Oh, and where’s Evan?” Evan groaned and stepped away, giving Carter a parting kiss before sprinting to the stage. Carter leaned against the door to watch his boyfriend return to being a director’s pet. Evan was a brilliant actor, for sure. He managed to snag the lead role in their production of Newsies. He had the most angelic voice. The staff couldn’t have picked a better actor, but Evan’s real passion was directing. He was the one who put the most work in to bring such a big musical to such a tiny theatre. He, along with Gavin, had worked day in and day out making sure that everything was set in place for tomorrow’s opening act. Carter couldn’t have been more proud. Out of the corner of his eye, a flash of red hair caught his attention. Standing only a few feet away, piercing blue eyes glared him down. Heather Marrison, already in her Katherine Plummer costume, caught his gaze and mosied over to him. Carter internally screamed as he tried to find an exit. He

couldn’t deal with her tonight. Heather hated his guts and everyone in the theatre knew it. She was known for being a, as Carter put it, total bitch, but she had an incredible voice and had been dancing since she could toddle. That meant that she got any role she wanted, no matter what. That was, of course, until Carter showed up. Carter was decently talented, to say the least, and could play female roles if he really wanted to. Heather couldn’t stand the competition. “Can’t you two keep your relationship outside of the theatre? It’s really disgusting.” Her nose turned up, and she scowled at him. Oh, Carter thought. Like you’re one to talk. “Oh, sorry Heather. I understand it might be hard for you to look at something you’ll never get.” He smirked, but Heather only laughed. “Oh, honey, I had my turn with those lips and I absolutely adore having them again.” Carter felt his face go white as Evan took his place by his side. Upon seeing Heather, Evan tensed. She simply smiled and walked up to Evan. “Eves, did Gavin tell you about working on chemistry? He needs our kiss to be more believable. I thought you might want to practice a bit before you got ready.” “I don’t think there’s enough practice time in the world to create any chemistry here,” Evan muttered. Heather frowned and picked at the collar of his shirt. “It was here once, Eves. I think it might still be. We just have to find it.” She tugged him down and kissed him softly. Evan grimaced and pushed her away, but she just smiled and turned on her heel. Carter felt his fists ball up as he took a step after her. Evan caught his arm and held him back. “Carter, don’t.” Carter whipped around, his face red.

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“That was damn near assault, Evan! A-and I was right there and… oh.” Evan sighed and turned, dragging Carter backstage. “Come on, you need to get into your costume.” Carter’s shoulders fell as he ripped his arm away. He stomped in front of Evan before he could stop him, and slammed the dressing room door in his face. “Carter, come on. It’s not like that.” His jaw clenched and he started undressing, ignoring the calls from the other side of the door. A few seconds of silence passed before he heard footsteps turn and walk away. Carter let out a sigh and fell against the wall, hot tears threatening to spill over. He shouldn’t get this jealous. Evan obviously didn’t want it. Right? ~~~ Beyond a few costume and prop disappearances, numerous light malfunctions, and some missed lines, the dress rehearsal ran smoothly. Only one person fell during the second dance number, and all of the set pieces moved as they were supposed to. Gavin and Evan were both pleased, but Heather had her own complaints. “Gavin, are you sure those kisses are long enough? I feel like such a small peck doesn’t give that song justice. It’s such a build up for, what, that? Also, some of the dancers were off in ‘King of New York’ and it’s getting really irritating. Sarah and Elaine are never in time, and I swear Carter is flat.” A collective groan could be heard throughout the cast. Once almost everyone had headed home, Carter stepped outside to go on his way only to discover that it had started raining while he was in there. “Shit,” he muttered. The raindrops hit the awning roof and echoed around him. His hoodie wouldn’t last him all

the way home, and his parents would flip if they saw it. Unsure of what to do, he sat on the steps and watched the puddles forming around him. For a few moments, he was left alone in the peaceful quiet. Of course, it didn’t last long. The door flung open behind him and Evan stepped out, his coat slung over his shoulders. He saw Carter and paused, his eyebrows furrowing. Carter caught his gaze and slowly patted the spot next to him. Evan hesitantly took it and sat down, draping his jacket over Carter’s shoulders instead. Carter chuckled as Evan smiled. “Bribing me with warmth isn’t going to make me not mad.” Evan’s face fell. “You’re still mad?” “No.” “Then…” Evan cocked his head. “I’m not mad, but if I was, a jacket wouldn’t make me not so.” “You’re impossible.” Carter smiled and Evan leaned down to press a kiss to Carter’s cheek. “Are you excited about tomorrow?” Carter shrugged. “I mean, I guess. I’d be a little more excited if your ex-girlfriend wasn’t playing your love interest.” A sigh preceded Evan’s response. “Carter, you know she doesn’t mean anything—” “I know, but she obviously still likes you.” “She’s doing it to piss you off.” “It’s working.” Evan shook his head, but Carter continued. “And don’t tell me it’s not worth getting upset over because I’m gonna be upset no matter what. Let’s just drop it, okay?” “Alright, fine. Are your parents coming?” Carter froze and Evan’s eyes widened. “You still haven’t told them?” “What am I supposed to say? ‘Hey mom, dad, I’ve been practicing at this communi-

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ty theatre for the past two months against open for him, waiting for Carter to give in. He your will and knowledge. Opening night is begrudgingly agreed and slid into the tomorrow if you’d like to see how much of a passenger seat. Evan took his place beside disappointment I’ve become.’” Carter’s gaze him and they headed down the street in near fell. His parents, two of the richest people in silence. Carter only spoke to give him the state, hated theatre. They thought it was directions, and Evan simply nodded in a waste of time and money. When Carter had acknowledgment. brought up the idea, they gave him a Carter stopped him a few houses away beautiful gift of math textbooks and a letter from his own. Evan shut off the lights and of early acceptance to one of the highest stared wide-eyed at the house that Carter ranking colleges that money could afford. If it pointed out as his own. Carter shrugged and didn’t make instant money, it wasn’t worth it. leaned over the console to give Evan a parting “Where do they think kiss. “Thank you,” he said. “I love you.” Evan’s you’ve been all this time?” “Anytime, love. Text me “Tutoring a kid named when you get settled, okay?” eyes widened and Evan who absolutely sucks “I will. I love you.” Evan’s Carter felt his face at math,” Carter said with a eyes widened and Carter smile. Evan shook his head felt his face flush. The words flush. The words had and grabbed his hand. had slipped; he didn’t mean “Well, my parents are to say it. He was thinking it, slipped; he didn’t going to be here tomorrow sure, but he never intended mean to say it. and they’re very excited on saying it. Before he could to meet you. They want take them back, Evan smiled to know who this mysterious Carter is.” He and tugged him towards him to press a smiled. Carter cursed that smile; he swore single, long kiss to Carter’s lips. When he it could melt every frozen heart with its pulled away, he caught Carter’s eyes and warmth. “They wanna know who’s brown laughed. eyes I keep getting lost in and who’s managed “I love you, too.” to keep me up way too late every night.” “Well, I would love to meet him, too. He ~~~ sounds like a real dork,” Carter said as he stood. Evan followed. The rain had lightened No matter how hard he tried, the front but still sprinkled softly around them. door always creaked. Practically walking on “You aren’t really going to walk home in air, Carter pushed it shut gently, making sure that are you?” the lock barely clicked. Down the hall, he “I don’t have much of a choice.” could hear his parent’s hushed voices in the “Oh, bullshit. Come on.” Evan tugged living room. He felt himself crash from Cloud Carter into the parking lot, ignoring the boy’s Nine. “Shit,” he mumbled. “Of course they’re complaints of “you really don’t have to do awake.” this” and “it’s not that far of a walk.” He “Carter, is that you?” he heard a voice call. unlocked his old Malibu’s door and held it “Can you come here, please?” He sighed and

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let his feet drag as he made his way down “Really? Because it looks like you’ve been the hall. Lined with pictures but dimly lit, the lying to us for God knows how long.” His hallway seemed to emit the feeling of unease father towered over him, his freckled face that rested in the pit of Carter’s stomach. He tinted beet red. “Tutoring this kid, my ass. leaned against the door frame and caught a What are you doing at a theatre?” glimpse of his parents huddled over a small “We’re… we’re doing Newsies,” Carter white laptop; his white laptop. Their heads said, meekly. He felt himself being thrown raised as they heard his borderline irritated back before he processed what was sigh. His father’s tired eyes were filled with happening. His back hit the wall and he swore fury, and Carter felt his heart stop. He knew the breath was sucked out of him. those eyes all too well. “Don’t play games, boy. I’ve told you since “Is there something wrong?” Carter said, you were in elementary school that theatre his body stiffening. was no good. All of the arts these days are “Where have you been?” nothing but homosexuals Lined with pictures wasting money that should His mother inquired. “It’s Thursday. I’ve been at be going towards shit that but dimly lit, the Evan’s.” actually matters, like hallway seemed to “I think it’s a little medicine and business. You concerning that we’ve never were not to have any part in emit the feeling of met this… Evan.” His father it, and you blatantly unease that said as he rose to his feet. disobeyed me. Not only that; “He’s really shy, but if you you lied to me. You looked rested in the pit of wanted me to I could invite me straight in the eye and Carter’s stomach him to dinner.” lied!” A slap across the cheek “Do we know his parents? followed his exclamation and Where is he even from?” His father asked Carter yelped in pain. He grabbed his face and coldly. turned away, blinking away stars. “Not only “I-I mean-“ that, but it looks like they’ve turned you into “Oh!” he exclaimed. “Is this him?” His some faggot as well! You should be sleeping father held out the laptop to him, showing around with a bunch of girls, not screwing Carter a picture of him and Evan in their around with some guy!” costumes. Evan’s arms were wrapped around “Please, stop…” Carter whimpered. This Carter’s waist and Carter’s face was flushed only seemed to make his father grow angrier. with embarrassment. The theatre’s webpage “What? You can’t take a bit of a fight? They URL screamed at him. The picture’s caption really did turn you into a fag. No son of mine read, “Evan Argent and Carter Erden share an is going to be a sissy.” embrace between scenes.” Carter’s eyes grew After the third hit, Carter went numb. It wide with fear as reality set in. felt like his soul left his body and he was left “I can explain-“ to simply watch from afar. Tears streamed “What the hell have you been doing?” down his face as he saw his mother “It really isn’t what it looks like-” watching in horror but taking no move to

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stop his father’s rage. Once he felt like he had done justice, his father stood. Carter stumbled to a stand and leaned against the wall, feeling the blood trickle from his nose. “I’m going to need your phone,” his mother whispered. He handed it over without complaint, feeling completely helpless. He had no fight here; his father was twice his size and any words he tried to use would only get him more bruises. This song and dance was not new, but it had never been this bad. He turned back to his father who had stepped away to wipe his knuckles on a nearby tissue. He cast one more glance at his mother before bolting back down the hall, ignoring every fake-candid photo on the wall of their “perfect” family. He slammed his bedroom door and slumped against it. He broke into sobs as soon as the lock clicked and didn’t stop until it unlocked the next morning.

bolted. His backpack smacked his back as his sneakers slid on dirt. He saw trees fly by in a blur as he headed towards his safe place. The theatre was his home. Nothing his parents did or said could take that away from him. However, the universe was not as kind as it appeared. It gave him an opportunity alright, but he almost wished he would have simply gone home. He smelled the smoke before he saw it. His mind tried to rationalize it, so his first thought was that the flickering streetlight had finally blown. As he broke through the treeline, his whole body fell rigid. Red lights mixed with the burning flames as the green and red wood of the theatre turned into a black mass of ash. A group had gathered around to see the commotion. Firefighters worked tirelessly to hose the flames into submission, but it was a lost cause. The fire had licked up the walls and brought the beams crashing down. ~~~ “No…” His voice came out like a broken whisper. The world spun as he stumbled If one thing in his life went wrong, forward, his hand slamming into the hood everything had to go wrong. of the firetruck. Everything flashed in polaFirst, his math teacher asked that he stay roid moments: a hand on his arm, a blanket late after school to talk about assignments he around his shoulder, and a voice telling him was missing. “This is very unlike you, about a faulty lighting fixture above the Carter. I’m worried. Is everything going stage. When the bars crashed, the flames okay?” He, of course, feigned a smile and engulfed the wooden set and stage. The fire assured her that absolutely everything was was too much before the sprinklers even alright. He had plenty of friends, and yes, activated. The building was completely everything was alright at home; she took one swarmed before the fire trucks even arrived. look at the deep purple bruise on his cheek Ambulances sat scattered around the scene and frowned. Before she could protest, he as paramedics attempted to care for the scurried out the door with some excuse about wounds of the escapees. Firemen continued having to make dinner. to rush in and out of the rubble, pulling His parents demanded that he ride the people out one by one. He saw flashes of bus directly home the next day. Once he got faces, or at least, what were once faces. Burnt outside, the buses were long gone. Seeing flesh peeled away from the bones of some of this as the universe giving him a chance, he his closest friends, and he felt himself gag. He

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heaved into the bushes behind him and felt a and his caramel skin had become a mess of hand on his back. When he looked up, red hair black and red. The firemen screamed at the blew in the breeze. Heather’s eyes pierced his paramedics, claiming Carter’s love as a soul, but not in anger. This time, she looked at “critical case.” Carter tried to move towards him in fear. him, but Heather’s grip on his arm held him “I… I was running late. I stopped to get back. She hiccuped, but muttered a few dinner before the…” Carter nodded slowly words to him. and stood, the world still spinning around “Don’t get in the way. They need to help him. “Where’s…” him.” Carter watched helplessly as the tended “Evan.” Carter’s eyes widened. How had to Evan’s countless wounds. The world began he forgotten? Evan would to fall silent around him once have been one of the first Despite the chaos more, but he could still see ones there. He stumbled their mouths moving. He saw around it, the lone forward, rushing to a fireman people yelling at one another who stood staring helplessly as they cut away Evan’s streetlight still at the fire. “Please… please, costume. He saw them load flickered my boyfriend he-” him onto a stretcher. He saw “Hey, hey, slow down. them push him into the Breathe. Was he in there?” Carter nodded, his ambulance, holding an oxygen mask to his cheeks wettening with tears. “He might be beautifully plump lips. He saw the doors with one of the paramedics, but they close, the sirens turn on, and the ambulance haven’t recovered everyone yet.” He led them drive away as he stayed rooted to one spot. towards the cluster of screaming people in Heather sobbed beside him, clinging to his scrubs, but a yell from the burning theatre arm as they both watched in horror. stopped them short. Three firemen emerged, Despite the chaos around it, the lone holding what could have been nothing but a streetlight still flickered. burnt beam. Evan’s costume was scorched

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Only Monsters Tell Lies By Lynn Dacey

I’m still not allowed to go outside. Mommy and Daddy told me I couldn’t when I was little, but I’m big now. I just turned five, and I told them I wanted to go outside to see the pretty deer. That’s when they locked the doors and said it was too dangerous. Then they showed me movies that had big, scary monsters walking around in forests. At night, after Mommy and Daddy thought I was asleep, I would peek through the wooden boards in front of my window and try to see the horns on all the deer. I’m not allowed to go near any of the other windows, but it doesn’t really matter since mine is the only one that has boards I can see through. The rest of the windows have lots and lots of boards. After I saw those movies, though, I stopped looking outside. I live with just Mommy and Daddy and nobody else. I’ve never been outside because it’s too dangerous. Mommy and Daddy can go outside because they’re strong. Mommy usually stays home, but Daddy goes to work every morning. He doesn’t come back until

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late at night, when Mommy has dinner ready for us to eat. When Mommy goes out, I’m left all by myself. Whenever she comes home, she always has more food and a new toy for me, so I don’t mind when she goes away. I don’t get scared when I’m alone. I’m a big girl. One morning, after Daddy went to work, Mommy made me pancakes. She moved around the kitchen, but her big tummy kept bumping into stuff. Whenever I asked why it was getting so big, Daddy would poke it and tell me that mommy was eating too much. It always made me giggle, but Mommy would just say that he wasn’t funny and go back to eating her big meal. When I sat down, Mommy put a plate of pancakes down in front of me and sat next to me. As I dug in, she told me that she was going out today to get more groceries. She asked me what toy I wanted. I told her I wanted a baby doll. She promised to get me one, then I told her about the dreams I had while I was asleep. When she was finished eating, she kissed me on the head and left, locking the door behind

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her. I picked up all the dishes and put them in the sink and went back down the hall towards my room. There are five doors in the hallway. They go to my room, Mommy and Daddy’s room, the bathroom, the Locked Room, and the closet. The Locked Room is where Mommy and Daddy keep all the extra furniture. They say I’m not allowed in there because something could fall and hurt me. I’ve only seen in the Locked Room once. It was right when Mommy’s tummy started getting big. There was a baby crib with a rocky chair in the corner. Mommy thought she closed the door all the way, and she got mad when she saw me looking. She locked the door again when she left. Mommy and Daddy like locked doors. I usually only go in my room and the bathroom, but sometimes I go in Mommy and Daddy’s room when I hear noises at night. As I walked down the hall, I heard bumps coming from the closet. I jumped back. I couldn’t see where the noise was coming from. I looked around until I heard another one. My arms started getting scary bumps, and I reached for the doorknob. It was locked like always. My face scrunched up as I kicked the door. I wanted to see what was inside. Suddenly, I heard something hit the floor. A little key sat next to me. It must have fallen off the top of the door. I don’t know why it was there. The only keys in the house were Daddy’s, and they were by the front door and way too high for me to reach. I put the key into the lock, turned the knob, and opened the door. I thought I would see clothes like the kind in my closet, but this closet had a bunch of shelves and boxes. The noises were much louder in there. I looked at the floor, finally finding where the noises were coming from.

There was a big ring on the floor, and when I pulled on it, the floor lifted up into a big square hole. Inside the hole, there was a long staircase. It was dark, but I could see that it went into an even darker place. I got scary bumps on my arms again and started shaking. I took a big breath and shook my head. I was a big girl. I wasn’t scared. I looked down the hallway to make sure Mommy wasn’t home yet before I walked down real slow. The stairs made creaky noises when I stepped on them. When there were no more steps, I could barely see my feet because it was so dark. The floor was cold and didn’t feel like the wood in the TV room or the tile in the kitchen. It felt rough. I took a few more steps to see if I could find the wood or the tile. Instead, my toes hit something hard. “Ouch!” I yelled, and I heard a noise come from in front of me. I thought it could be a monster, and my scary bumps came back. “Hello?” I whispered. Unlike the movies, no monster jumped out to scare me. Instead, someone else answered. “Who are you?” a tired voice said right in front of me. I squinted real hard to see if I could see anyone, but it was still too dark. “My name is Madison,” I said. The voice went quiet for a minute. “Madison?” “Yes, I just said that. What’s your name?” “My name? Umm…” The voice went quiet again. “…Sophie.” “Nice to meet you!” I could hear Sophie shuffling around. “Where are you?” “In the cage. Can you not see me?” I laughed, but Sophie didn’t. “Why are you in a cage? That’s silly. Cages are for puppies and kitties.” She stopped shuffling. “There’s not a cage in the closet. There’s supposed to be clothes in the closet.” I moved closer, but

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my head knocked into something. I rubbed Mommy dropped the can she was holding, my forehead and stuck my hand out, and it spilled everywhere. She turned to me wrapping my fingers around metal bars. It felt and her eyes looked scared. She asked me like a cage, but there couldn’t be a cage in the what I was talking about, and I told her about closet. That was just silly. I pulled my hand the stairs in the closet and Sophie in her cage. back. Mommy tried to clean up her mess quickly, “Daddy put me down here.” but she missed a lot. When I asked her what My face scrunched up. was wrong, she told me to go play with my “No, he didn’t. Daddy is at work.” new toy. She talked really fast and I could “Not just now. A long time ago.” see her hands shaking. I asked her again, I shook my head. and she did her angry sigh. She yelled as she “He couldn’t have,” I said. “You’re lying.” told me there weren’t any stairs in the closet. It was then I decided that Sophie had to be a Closets don’t have stairs. I told her that the monster. Mommy and Daddy taught me that one in the hallway did. She said I had a very monsters were the only ones who told lies. strong imagination, and that it got stronger Something slammed into the cage in front of when I was bored. I just made up a friend so I me and I jumped back. Fingers wouldn’t be lonely when she grabbed at my shirt sleeve, left. That made sense to me, It felt like a cage, but I pulled them away. The so I went to the TV room to but there couldn’t fingers were so small that I play with my doll. I knew it could feel the bones poking must be true because be a cage in the out. Mommy wouldn’t lie. closet. That was Sophie screamed at me, “I When Daddy came am not! He put me down here! home, Mommy came up to just silly. Please, get me out!” him fast and said, “Madison All the scary bumps came made an imaginary friend back, and my body started shaking again. I today. Her name is Sophie.” Her smile was didn’t want to talk to the monster anymore. big, but her eyes were wide. I turned around and ran back to the stairs. For a second Daddy’s face was scary, but Sophie screamed behind me, “Please, please, it went away fast. He smiled and asked me, please!” I ran as fast as I could and shut the “What does she look like?” hole. I was breathing so hard that my chest “I couldn’t see her. It was too dark.” hurt. I ran out of the closet, and Sophie’s cries He nodded slowly and said, “Well… next got really muffled. I sat down on the floor and time,” he looked at Mommy for a second watched the door for a long time. and then back at me, “you’ll have to imagine I heard Mommy come home. She gave me some light so that you can see her.” I nodded, my new baby doll and some clothes to dress smiled real big, and sat down to eat. her up with. As she was putting away the Before I could even take a bite, Mommy groceries, she asked me what I did all day. screamed. She grabbed at her tummy, and I I told her that I spent all my time talking to think she might have wet her underwear like Sophie. I used to do. Daddy jumped up and ran over

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to her, asking if it was time. Mommy nodded she started screaming during dinner. She and and screamed again. Daddy picked her up Daddy left, so I thought I would come to see and carried her outside. I heard Daddy’s car you. I’m not scared of you anymore. Mommy get loud and drive away. The house was said that you were just imaginary. That means quiet without Mommy screaming, and I I made you up in my head so I would have a looked down at my plate. I couldn’t eat friend. So, we can be friends!” without Mommy and Daddy. I wanted to I smiled at her, but she didn’t smile back. know where they went. They didn’t ever leave “No… no, no. I’m not imaginary,” she together. whispered, but then she got loud. “I’m real! I hopped down from my chair and went I’m a real girl! Please, you have to help me!” back to the closet. It was still unlocked, so I “No! You’re lying!” opened it again. The door creaked loud and Sophie’s eyes got angry and she ran to the so did all the stairs. I went down slower this front of the cage, shaking it. “Stop it! I’m not time, still a little scared of Sophie. When I felt lying! They put me here! Please, help me!” the cold floor under my feet, I shivered. It was “You’re imaginary! I don’t need to help still too dark to see anything, you.” I scrunched up my face. but I remembered what “Please, if you just I shut my eyes real Daddy said about imagining unlock that thing over there, light. I shut my eyes real tight I can get out.” She pointed tight and tried to and tried to imagine a light at a metal flap by the door. imagine a light in in the room. When I opened “Please, help.” Her eyes got my eyes, it was still dark. I water in them and I shook my the room. When I frowned and looked back at head. Sophie stomped her opened my eyes, it the stairs. I grabbed onto the feet. “Madison, they’re lying metal rail and put my hands to you-” was still dark on the wall to see if I could “They aren’t lying! Only find a light switch. My fingers monsters tell lies!” felt one and I flicked it up. The whole room “Please, if you just lift that thing…” filled with light and I could see everything. “If I open the door, then you’ll leave me, It was a tiny room, but it had a big cage and I won’t have a friend anymore.” in the corner of it. The cold floor was grey. Sophie stopped and squinted at me. “I A bunch of blankets sat in the corner of the won’t leave. You...you said you’re my friend cage and a tiny figure sat on top of them. I right? Friends don’t leave friends.” She smiled figured it was Sophie, because her fingers and crouched by the door. I sat in front of her. were boney. Her whole body looked like her “But… friends need to know each other. How fingers. Her hair was super long and tangled, old are you?” and she had the same dark rings under her “I’m five.” eyes that Mommy had. “Oh, wow…” Sophie whispered. Then she Sophie looked at me, her eyes scared. shook her head and looked back at me. “That “What are you doing?” she said. means I’m twelve.” “Mommy’s tummy started hurting and I gasped. “You’re a big year old!” Sophie

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laughed. “Yeah, I guess so. So… is it just you, Mommy, and Daddy?” I nodded. “That’s good. Umm…” She looked at me, squinting her eyes again. “Umm… do you want to hear a story?” I smiled real big. I loved stories. “I used to live upstairs. But one day, Mommy’s tummy got real big. It’s called ‘pregnant.’ It means she’s going to have a baby.” “A baby? Like my doll?” “Yeah! Like that, but this one is real. They brought her home and said her name was Madison. She was very cute, but she cried a lot. Mommy and Daddy didn’t sleep for days. One night, Daddy came into my room and said he wanted to show me a secret room. He led me down here and locked the door.” I frowned. That didn’t seem like Daddy. “Maybe you did something bad. When I get in trouble, I have to stay in my room.” Sophie shook her head. “I didn’t do anything.” I looked around the room and back at the lock on the door. “You had to do something. Daddy wouldn’t just punish you for no reason. Daddy is nice.” Sophie looked down at her lap and frowned. “He’s not as nice as you think.” I stood up and jiggled the lock. “How do I open this?” Sophie jumped up, her eyes wide. “You have to get a key. Daddy keeps it on his keychain.” “Daddy took his keys with Mommy.” “Shit,” Sophie mumbled. “Swear jar.” Sophie rolled her eyes. “Okay, listen. Do you know where the phone is?” I nodded. “Do you know how to use it?” I shrugged. “I saw Mommy use it before.”

“Okay, good. All you have to do is hold the phone to your ear and press nine-one-one. Can you do that?” “Yep!” “Good. Good, good, good. Now, when someone answers, you need to tell them that your Mommy and Daddy are hurting your sister.” I frowned. “I can’t lie! Only monsters-” “Shut up, Madison. Listen to me. It’s not a lie. It’s just a story. Tell them that story. Tell them that Mommy and Daddy are hurting your sister.” Sophie’s eyes were angry and she held onto the cage really tight. “Madison, please. You have to do this perfect, and you have to do it before Mommy and Daddy get home. If you want to get me out, you have to do this. Can you?” I nodded. This sounded like real big kid stuff. “Nine-one-one?” I asked. Sophie nodded. I smiled and walked back to the stairs. I looked back at Sophie for a quick second and waved. She waved, too, but I saw her start to cry. She shouldn’t have been sad. I was going to get her out. I ran up the stairs as fast as I could and ran into the kitchen. No light came through the boards on the windows, so I knew it had to be late. I looked up at the phone high above my head. I looked around for something to stand on, finally settling on the chair that Mommy had pushed away. It was heavy, but I pulled it over to the wall and pulled myself onto it. I pulled the phone off the wall and pressed the numbers that Sophie told me to. There was a loud ringing in my ear before a girl started talking. “Nine-one-one, what’s the location of your emergency?” I frowned. I didn’t know what a location was, but I told them exactly was Sophie told

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me to. “Mommy and Daddy are hurting my sister.” “Oh… hi, honey. What’s your name?” “Madison.” I heard typing before she talked again. “Hello, Madison. My name is Amelia. What are your Mommy and Daddy doing?” “They’re hurting my sister.” “How so, honey?” “They’re hurting her!” I heard more clicking. “Okay, okay. Can you tell me where you are?” “I’m in the house.” “Do you know where your house is?” “By the forest.” “That’s great, honey. That’s great. Just stay on the phone so we can find exactly where you are, okay?” “Okay.”

was more stomping, and I heard Daddy’s angry voice yelling at Mommy. I heard Mommy yelling back, but I heard a baby cry even louder. I banged on the door and started to cry. I was so scared. “Mommy! Daddy! Please!” “Madison! Keep screaming!” Sophie yelled at me. She started screaming really loud to help me get Daddy’s attention. Maybe if we were loud enough Amelia could hear us. Someone needed to open the door so that I could help Sophie get out. We screamed and screamed until our throats hurt. A big boom made us be quiet really fast. Another big boom happened, then everything went quiet. It was quiet for a few minutes, then the baby cries started again. I looked back at Sophie. She was crying again. I frowned. Where was Mommy? Where was Daddy? What was happening? I stayed on the phone with Amelia for a “Police!” There was a voice louder than the long time. I told her about Sophie in the baby cries. basement and the deer out my window. I told “Down here!” Sophie screamed. She her about Mommy and Daddy and where jumped back up and banged on the cage. they went. She said that they were having a “Down here! Madison, scream!” My throat lot of trouble finding where I was, but that burned, but I yelled. they were on their way. They told me to “Help! Help us! Please!” There was fast check on my sister, but I didn’t know how. I footsteps that got louder and louder. The didn’t have a sister. I told her I would and put door swung up and a bright light filled my the phone on the chair. I ran downstairs and eyes. I fell quiet. asked Sophie what to do. Before she could “Hey. Hey, it’s okay. You’re going to be tell me, I heard stomping upstairs. okay. I’m here to help. Come on up.” The man “Madison?” Daddy yelled. dropped his light and grabbed a radio on his “I’m down here, Daddy!” Sophie squeaked. shoulder. “We’ve got a kid in the basement—” “No! Don’t do that! Run, Madison! Go back “Help!” Sophie yelled. Her voice was really upstairs!” I frowned. rough because of her yelling. The guy looked “Why?” I jumped when I heard a door at me then down the stairs. slam. I ran over to the stairs and saw the hole “Two. Two kids.” in the floor was shut. I ran up and banged on it, screaming at the top of my lungs. “Daddy! Daddy, I’m locked down here! Help!” There

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In the Between By Arianna Gray

Never stay too long in an In-Between. Rules are meant to be broken, they say. Eve ate the apple, and so it began. What are rules, they ask, but a mishmash of silly little sounds? We make them up, give them alternative names like law and policy and expect them to be obeyed. Those who break them are called deviant. Criminal. Troublemaker. We aren’t here for moral discussion. There are some rules followed without a second thought. Say please and thank you. Don’t talk to strangers. Look both ways before you cross the street. Rules that aren’t rules so much are guidelines to society’s expectation of proper social interaction. We aren’t here for a lesson on manners. Other rules are for jest. Children’s games that follow us into our adult lives — well, those of us who have them. How many of us avoid the cracks in the sidewalk, or refuse to eat the black seeds of a watermelon? We aren’t here to play children’s games.

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Then there are rules we were never taught. Rules we should follow. Rules we couldn’t possibly comprehend. These rules never apply. Or maybe they apply too often. How should I know? Those of us who know the rules would never dare speak them. It’s bad luck. You may fall just for curiosity. We are here because of one such rule. My mother always told me the universe was like a painting. Layers upon layers of color, swirling and swimming and spinning all together to create what we see. The untrained eye could never see beyond the picture. Only the artist recognizes that which lies underneath (and with time, even they forget). The unspoken rules protect us from these layers. If you look too deep — if you manage to see the space between the colors — you are at risk of falling in between. Many a glorious discovery has been made in an In-Between. Never stay too long.

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I wish I’d known the rule. It could have ing after her as she giggles with delight. It saved my life. Not that I lost my life, of isn’t unheard of to find a Safe child, but they course. I never died. I just. . . slipped aren’t as common as one would think. In-Between. I broke the rule that no one Children are more curious than most because knows, and I have suffered the consequencsociety has yet to break them of it. This child, es. I am unseen. I am unheard. I exist only to though, seems quite content to believe what wander, to watch, and to warn. I am her eyes and her Safe guide – the older man In-Between. – told her. “The world is a wonderful happy I don’t remember how I got here, but I place,” they said, “and there is nothing more know what I must have done. I wandered off beneath the surface.” the path, like so many others, and chose to “Come. This is not our place,” she speaks stay there. I ignored the internal feeling of from behind me. dread and pretended not to hear the voice in She was the first In-Between I met when my head pleading with me to go no further. I first drifted. She hadn’t been the Failure, of Where I was wandering I do not know, nor do course. I had never met him. When you failed I care. None of us do. All we to set a Wanderer back on the If you look too care about is making sure right course, you were sent to that no one else makes the the Dark. deep — if you same mistake. I sometimes feel guilty for manage to see the Those who remain on having been a Wanderer. Had the path and give heed to space between the I been a Drifter, it would have the warning voices in their been much easier to put me colors — you are heads are known as the back on the path, and I would at risk of falling in Safe. They live physically, still have a connection to the energetically, and mentally physical world. between in your version of existence. I refocus on my partner. They are visible. She’s dressed as she has I think I’m invisible. always been, in the clothing she wore when Granted, I’m not actually invisible. The she wandered. In-Betweens don’t exactly others can see me clear as day. However, have shopping malls. She smiles, reaching for to the Safe I might as well be. They have no my hand and pulling me from the little girl. need for me, and they pay me no mind, for Her hand has no weight, her grip nothing but they walk the path they are meant to. They a wish, and yet I feel the softness of her skin follow the rules, and avoid the In-Betweens. all the same. I like to watch the Safe. They spend their Before I can follow, a wave of grey passes lives running around, never stopping or through us both. Grey, the feeling, not the slowing down. They dance their way across color. The feeling of Not-Quite-Dread, of the earth as if knowing that nothing could weather just slightly warmer than preferred, possibly happen to them. They’re right. of lukewarm tea after a long day. Now, I am watching a little girl. She is On our left, at the other end of the park, running around the park, an older man chassits a boy. He is staring into the pond that

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locals often use for fishing. The boy cannot be much older than fourteen, and his posture is relaxed. To any Safe, or even Drifter, he would look perfectly normal. Except for the fact that he was wandering. I can already feel his thoughts waning, we both could. His conscious line of thought is plunging into dangerous territory, and soon he will be on the brink of not returning. It was unusual. Those his age tend to be more stubborn, less susceptible to the pull of the beyond. He’s too young. I start towards him, but she stops me. Her arm is heavier now, more of an energy than a thought. “It’s too late.” She speaks. Her voice is somber, wistful. She can see the life he should have lead. I want to argue, but in the back of my mind I know she is right. However young the boy is, he is too far gone. We watch as his timeline unravels. His birth was beautiful. It would have been, at least, his father leaning over him and crying tears of relief. His toddlerhood was a mesh of blues and golds and greens, and his mother

would have made him pancakes on Saturday mornings. They smelled not-quiteright, charred crisp with a raw center. He ate them all the same, or would have. His sister will grow up an only child. He will not be remembered. He won’t have existed. He would have been a wonderful whatever-would-be. Well, he’ll have to make a wonderful In-Between instead. He will shift, never really existing in any one time or place. He will walk the In-Betweens until the end of time, or until he fails. He will remain the same, never to age or to grow. He has drifted off the main road, past the Dark Wood and beyond any Beyond. Whether by choice or by chance, he has wandered. He was not I, but I was him, once. Just as she was. Just as others will be. Visit the In-Between when you feel you must. Learn from it, take from it. Allow it to flow through you and from you and bring back knowledge you didn’t have before. Just never stay too long.

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Phoenix By Arianna Gray

It was dark. That’s the first thing I noticed when the man came to wake me. The air was black and stale with the stench of half a dozen unwashed captives. I couldn’t make out the face of the man who’d disturbed me from my rest. I supposed it didn’t matter who had woken me, only that he had. He kicked the bars again, startling me into sitting position. I let out a low moan, alerting him that I was awake. He made a gruff noise in the back of his throat and opened the door to my cell, reaching out to grab me roughly by the arm. I made no sound, allowing myself to be half-dragged out of the small space. The man was silent as he led me down the narrow hall, and I was grateful for it. Some of the guards were awfully talkative, spitting their slurs in my face and hitting me when I refused to respond. I preferred my silence. The guard kept one hand painfully grasped around my right arm, efficiently distracting me from the burning of the tight rope around my wrists. With the other, he shoved through

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an unlocked door and thrust me out into the harsh light of the sun. The sun. I shut my eyes tight against the sudden brightness, ducking my head and allowing the tangled strands of my hair to shield my sight from the burning white. After a moment, I blinked my eyes open and allowed them to adjust, taking in my new surroundings. We were outside now, in the village square. It was hot. Hot, hot rays beating down on bare skin. I looked down, taking advantage of the light to observe the creature whose body I inhabited. My feet were bare against sharp rocks, and what was left of my dress was torn and stained with mud. A once plump, well-fed belly was now gone from my vision, hidden beneath unbound breasts. I couldn’t remember the taste of bread. The man tugged on my arm. I looked up, the over-hot sun no cure for the icy chill that ran down my spine. The atmosphere quickly turned cold as I met the stares of the crowd. A jury of my peers. A mob in disguise, ready to

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light their torches and sharpen their The guard released me from his clutches, and pitchforks at my slightest flinch. I dropped to my knees, head bent towards I searched the crowd, my gaze the hard earth. landing on a boy not much older than I. I I ignored the mutterings of the crowd, remembered him as well as I should. breathing in the fresh air for the first time in Memories were funny things. Twenty so, so long. In that moment, there was summers spent playing in the fields near Old nothing I wished for more than to crawl into Man Mayor’s farm, trading stories of maidens the ground. I would make myself a new home and princes and dragons. I could still hear his of weeds and dirt and stone and live among laugh— warm and open and just for Mama the creatures of the underground. Perhaps and me. they, in their lawless society, would be more His brown eyes held not an ounce of forgiving. remorse as they met mine. How long ago had Alas, the judge did not seem to agree with this boy been my brother? A week? A month? my plan. He cleared his throat loudly, Days had not existed within my dark prison. obnoxiously, calling for the attention of the Only black, and stink, and the ache of my own crowd. He called my name, hissed it like a broken heart. I silently pled curse. Once, twice, then the Days had not to the boy to help me, plead guard’s hand was in my hair, for me, fight for my life as he ripping my head up from existed within my once would have, but he only the peace of the ground and dark prison. Only turned sharply away. forcing me to stare into old, Betrayed, then. haggard eyes. The judge black, and stink, I continued to watch the really ought not to be here, and the ache of my crowd as the guard shoved he was weak with age and me forward. I observed them sickness and had not long left own broken heart silently. A woman with in this world. He did not wish greying hair and crinkles the public to know, though, around her eyes. I’d healed her grandson of a not yet, and so here he stood. fever not four moons back. A man, two heads “Morgan Owens,” the judge croaked, his taller than eye, a scowl and a scar fighting for tone hard and decided, “How do you plead?” possession of his lower lip. He’d helped us last I stared up at him, my knees going numb spring when a neighbors horse broke free and from the pain of the rocks I had knelt on. I trampled my herb garden. opened my mouth to respond, then closed it Once familiar faces, now strangers in the again. My words were all I had left of my light of the hot sun. I would find no friends possessions, and these they could not take. here. I was alone. Not without my express consent. Warm, jagged rocks cut into my numb If the judge was angered by my silence, feet. The pain grounded me, reminded me he did not show it. “I’ll ask you again, Miss of my mortality. It was little comfort as the Owens, and you’ll do well to respond. How do crowd parted for my passage, allowing me you plead?” to arrive all too soon at the foot of the judge. I took a breath, planning my response with

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great care. I could feel the stares of the crowd on the back of my neck. “How can I plead, sir, if you’ve not presented me with your accusations?” The judge placed his hand upon the podium at his side, gripping the edge of it tightly enough that his already pale knuckles seemed almost transparent in the light of the sun. Perhaps he was angered after all. “You know your crime, witch.” He leaned over me from where he stood, rising taller than I had thought possible for a man of such a short, plump stature. For the first time that day, heat began to pool in my chest. How dare he think himself above me? I was on my knees of my own accord, by a choice that was mine and mine alone. How dare they think it permission to look down on me? I straightened my back, meeting his glare with a steel gaze of my own. “Witch?” I clenched my jaw so hard I feared it may break. “To what proof do you place these allegations, sir?” The judge glanced at a man to his right, a silent question. The man leaned in to the judge to mumble his response. All the while, I watched them, unblinking. The judge turned back to me. “You were seen, Miss Owens, conducting your dark practices under the watchful eye of the devil.” I blinked up at the man, a weight settling on my shoulders. Devil? I worshipped no devil. To worship a greater evil, one must first believe in such things. And yet, seen. “And whom, may I ask, is this supposed witness?” The judge grinned viciously, as if already knowing he had won. A cold fear overtook me, and I somehow knew the next words even before they left his lips. “One Mr. William Owens, I believe.”

Had I not already been on my knees, I’d have surely collapsed at that moment. “William,” I whispered to myself, the name tasting sour in my mouth. I realized quickly that the sour taste was not, in fact, the name of my betrayer, but of the bile rising in my throat. I blinked back the tears that began to wet my eyes and took in a shaking breath. I would not give them the satisfaction of my tears. Composing myself, I looked to my left, past the crowd of faces and back towards the boy I’d seen before. I searched his face for something— an explanation, an apology— but found nothing. His expression remained as blank and remorseless as ever I’d seen it before. I shook my head at him, my anguish surely evident in my eyes. He looked away then. A cowardly move. He looked away from me, but towards another. A woman, as young as eye, with light hair twisted tightly at the base of her neck. She looked back at him with all the guild he should have felt towards me. I knew her, though not well. She was a respectable girl, though not well respected. There were rumors, foolish stories of illness and unborn children. All false, I knew. There wasn’t an ailment in the village that hadn’t crossed my doorstep. Yet all rumors are true enough in the hearts of small-minded men. She turned her gaze from his eyes to mine. I did not look at her long, but turned to glance again at the boy. There was something there, as he gazed at her. Something old and raw and pure. The one thing I could never have given him. Returning my gaze to the judge, I forced my words out through grit teeth. “And by what method of persuasion did my brother make these accusations?”

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The judge’s thin eyes became impossibly for the sake of their precious society. Still, narrower. “Are you implying that we forced I thought in bitter satisfaction, there is one false information from an honorable man’s who will endure far worse than I. I would be lips?” freed, albeit against my will, from my mortal I raised my chin, piecing together all that bonds. He would suffer a long life, knowing I could. “Was I the first accused, sir? Or is my he’d sacrificed his own flesh and blood for the name simply the scapegoat, used in sake of a maiden who could not love him. desperation to prove the innocence of The binds on my wrists were undone just another?” long enough for me to be spun around, my “The terms of the confession are of no back pressed against the wooden post. My importance. How do you plead?” The words guard reached out, gently pulling my hands came out in almost a growl, and the old man behind me and rebinding them there to seemed to immediately regain his assure I couldn’t escape. I looked at him then, composure. The crowd was already surprised at the sudden tenderness. His eyes, muttering, restless and eager to get on to the I noticed, were blue and sad. “I’m so sorry,” sentencing. Anger pooled in my chest. he spoke softly, an apology only for my ears. I I did not pretend to tensed beneath his grip. ponder my options, already “Where was your pity “Where was your realizing the hopelessness of when I was on my knees?” my situation. Were I to plead He looked away from pity when I was on innocent, the supposed truth me and stepped down from my knees?” would be whipped from my the pyre. I did not spare him tongue. I squeezed my eyes another glance. The screams shut tightly, praying desperately to return to of the crowd fell on deaf ears, now. I cared no the naivety of my dark cell. I could not prove longer for their empty words. myself innocent to those who had already I will not pretend I didn’t scream. Indeed, decided the opposite.. my voice may have gone raw far before my I did not speak my plea. Rather, I heard it flesh began to burn. I will, however, take from a distance, even as the words fell from notice of my position on the pyre. I stood, in my lips. the exact moment of my death, miles above “Guilty.” the judge and his men and the crowd. My *** gaze was locked, unmoving, on the eyes of The pyre took no time to build. I expected, my betrayer, as I rose up in flames. then, that they’d had it prepared long before my ‘trial’. I never stood a chance. My guard forced me through the now rioting crowd. Their excitement had been evident from the moment of my sentencing, and as hard as I tried I could not block out their cheers. The ultimate punishment, I thought, was how quickly your peers will turn on you

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The Astronomer’s Letters By Gloria Hunter

Saturday, February 1, 1682 Flamsteed, As senior Astronomer Royal — a distinguished promotion that I have not yet congratulated you on, dear friend — you’ve no doubt heard about the comet that appeared last night. It was simply a celestial object of ice and dust — as they all are — with dimensions of approximately 6 kilometers by 9 kilometers. Judging by these proportions, its mass should’ve been close to 2.7 hundred trillion kilograms with a density of 0.8 grams per cm3. Structurally then, it’s smaller than Earth. It’s nothing impressive and hardly worthwhile to write about. I know you must report any astronomical matters to the Queen, however, I honestly wouldn’t trouble Sophia with this. Sincerely, Edmond Halley Thursday, February 5, 1682 Flamsteed, I have more news regarding the comet from before as it seems in my previous letter, I forgot to mention a key detail. The comet was green. My colleagues say it was blue, but you must not listen to them. They saw the comet for mere seconds while I saw it from the beginning to the end. It was the only thing I was focused on as I remember my eye straining in the

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view of the telescope. I didn’t want to blink as it might’ve disappeared in an instant. It was green. I remember because it reminded me of my wife’s eyes, and I rushed home afterwards to tell her that her eyes were like comets. She didn’t quite take to the compliment. You know how she can be. I will keep you updated on further information. Friday, February 6, 1682 Flamsteed,

Please disregard my previous letter. The comet was blue. Wednesday, February 11, 1682

Flamsteed, I believe I’ve discovered something truly amazing! I think the comet is the same one from the years 1531 and 1607. The others tell me my theory is flawed, of course, as the current notion is that comets, asteroids, and meteors pass through the solar system only once. They make a single appearance and then disappear. They burn up. They die a tragedy. This can’t be the case, however, as I’ve been studying the journals of the late astronomers who witnessed the other two comets, and the similarities between the three comets are uncanny. For one, the comets all have the same orbital patterns. What other objects do you know of that travel at the same speed and distance? I don’t know yet how this one comet is able to make periodic trips, but if I’m correct, it should reappear in 1757. I hope we live long enough to see it again. Sincerely, Edmond Halley Friday, February 13, 1682 Flamsteed,

Why do I keep searching for the comet in the vast sky when it’s 27, 375 days away? Monday, February 16, 1682

Flamsteed, My colleagues are fools. They constantly argue with me on the color of the comet. It was bright yellow—how could they forget such a sight? Even the previous astronomers did not care for her. In their journals, they called her orange or purple. Purple! Can you believe that she would ever be such a color? She was a burst of pure white light. They called her a different comet each time, along with a different name. They said her relative velocity was 147, 800 km/h when it was roughly 157, 838 km/h. She has been the same comet throughout time.

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They never felt a thing for her. My chest ached after I saw her, and I still feel empty. Sincerely, Edmond Halley. Tuesday, February 17, 1682 Flamsteed, I long for the comet. I pour over the journal entries of other astronomers and hope for any glimpse of her again. The ones who do talk about her, enrage me. Why did they get to see her? They didn’t appreciate her. She is mine, and I want to be the only one to see her. I read the descriptions of her over and over again. Orange. Blue. Green. Beautiful. Beautiful. Beautiful. Tonight, I will look through the telescope again. If I see her, I hope she remembers me. Wednesday, February 18, 1682 Flamsteed, I did not see Her last night. But when I close my eyes, I see Her all the time. The others admire me for my diligence on studying the comet. I stay up most nights and look through the telescope until my eyes burn. I try several times to sketch Her from memory, but I cannot do Her justice. I grow tired of my drawings — angry with myself — for I cannot seem to capture an accurate representation of Her. The others tell me the sketches are wonderful and full of immense detail that no other astronomers have captured. They call them beautiful. I ignore them and throw the sketches out. She will visit me again soon, I know it. Sincerely, Edmond Halley Monday, February 23, 1682 Flamsteed, The others have started to call me crazy. I see it in their eyes as they watch me stay late every night. I hear it in their whispers as I walk by them in the hallways. I do not care, I tell myself. I do not care. Their words and side-eye glances are nothing to me. They did not see Her like I did. They know nothing. She is everything I need. I tic the days down as they pass until I can see Her again. There are 75 more years left. 27,365 days. The numbers drive me insane. It is too long until She returns. It is far too long. As I watch the sky, it feels as if my eyes are bleeding most nights.

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Sincerely, Edmond Halley Tuesday, February 24, 1682 Flamsteed,

Each night without Her feels like hell. I plead to the night sky, yet no one listens. Wednesday, February 25, 1682

Flamsteed, The solar system feels wrong without Her presence. It is too ugly and bare. The stars and planets mock me. I hear their taunting laughs as my eyes strain in the view of the telescope. They say She is not here anymore. They say She has died. I’ve become ill without Her. My body shakes violently with weakness. My clothes have started to hang loosely on my frame. The other astronomers try to coerce me to eat — they bring me lunch each day and fill my workspace with snacks — but I know they are trying to poison me. They want my journal. They want my secrets on Her. They will get nothing. Thursday, February 26, 1682 Flamsteed, What have you done with Her? Where is She? I know you’re the who took Her away from the sky. You took Her away from me. Where is She? You know I cannot live without Her. I cannot live. If you have taken her, I will never forgive you. You will no longer be my friend. I will find Her, and you will regret ever taking Her away. What did I do to deserve this? I am in ruin. You did this on purpose. You are upset I didn’t congratulate you on your promotion. You are jealous of me because She loves me. You have killed Her. Please tell me why She’s gone. Please bring Her back. If you are punishing me, I pray for forgiveness. If She is dead, kill me too. Saturday, February 28, 1682 Flamsteed,

I saw Her last night, and She was beautiful as ever. Saturday, February 28, 1682

Flamsteed, The other astronomers do not believe me. They think I’ve hallucinated Her because of my lack of sleep. They are jealous. They are spiteful. I saw Her! John, you have to believe me.

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As an old friend and colleague, please believe my words. She was here last night! I was studying a cluster of stars — infuriated and about to return home — when She appeared. She sang to me the most enchanting song. She spoke to me in the sweetest voice. She promised we would be together soon. Saturday, February 28, 1682 Flamsteed, Before I leave with Her, I would like to give you my thanks and tell you good-bye. I greatly enjoyed working with you. You were always a good friend, a brother to me. Our passions for astronomy brought us together, and I am forever grateful I had the opportunity to work for you. Tell your wife I will miss her cooking. Tell my wife I am sorry. Goodbye, friend Edmond Halley Saturday, February 28, 1682 Flamsteed, What have I done wrong? She has not returned from last night. I spent the day packing my belongings, but She is still not here. Has She changed Her mind? The thought makes my head spin. I’ve developed tremors that start with a twitch in my eye and then move down to my fingers until my whole body is racked with them. My bones ache. Everything is a blur. I have turned to rot. I fear I am too ugly for Her. When I look through the telescope, I cannot see anything through my tears. She has betrayed me. Saturday, February 28, 1682 Flamsteed, I am going now. She has finally come for me, and we will be together now. I can see Her without the telescope. She is an angel wrapped in white cloth. My life has been dark for many years, but She is now my light. My Salvation. She burns so bright that my skin turns raw with a single touch. It does not hurt though. She has promised not to hurt me. She is too holy. She is sacred. She is mine, mine, mine. I am burning in Her embrace, and I am happy. I have chosen the universe over my life. It’s what we astronomers do. Farewell, forever Edmond Halley

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Nightmares By Caleb Johnson

No one has believed me since the night enclosure. In my home, they peered at me of the incident. Who would? It was only my from under the bed, ghastly eyes piercing and account that was taken. It was only me cataloging my every move. I tried to convince questioned at the station. It was only me who myself they were never truly there; they were was left at the scene of the massacre. I am figments of my imagination. An overly the only one who has had to relive that night, proactive imagination that conjured a mental and I have to deal with it just representation of my like how I have to deal with stresses. I tried to assure They haunt me in the rest of my nightmares‌ myself of this as they never my dreams: the alone. attempted to confront me on They haunt me in my the physical plane. demons of my dreams: the demons of my However, in my dreams, past, the monsters past, the monsters of my the place where worlds present, and the enemies of of my present, and collide, I could not hold them my future. As a kid, I would back. They stalked during the enemies of my the day so they could prey at drag them with me everywhere. At school, they night, when I was future appeared between the unconscious and vulnerable. creases of my papers, in the They attacked when I was images of my finger paintings. On the asleep; a time where my subconscious and playground, they scurried between the my id could roam free. swingsets and smiled at me through the They took on many forms. One such chain-link fence that surrounded the was a clown with an upside-down smile and

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dilapidated face. He didn’t frown, nor did he look upset. It’s as if he took a picture of his grin, and cut and pasted it the wrong way to appear even more frightening. He had a lanky frame with arms that dragged the floor. He appeared emaciated, like he’d ironed his skin to his body. So, I was surprised when he picked me up with ease and locked me in a closet where I could only see a couple of inches in front of me. “Wait here,” he would say. “It’s time to prepare dinner.” I had to wait and listen to the sound of my parents screaming for what seemed like hours before he would return. He would pick me up and whisper with the stench of charred flesh into my nose, “Playtime’s over. Mumsy and pops are waiting for you.” He’d drag me to the kitchen where he’d put them up for display, with matching flipped smiles. The only noticeable difference between them and the clown, other than their distinctive features, was the burnt skin, hung in strips, still bubbling from the fire they were roasted over. However, it wasn’t their contorted bodies that paralyzed me in my tracks; it was the woman who was shrouded in black, that stared at the scene through the kitchen window. She wasn’t engaged with the clowns presentation. Her stare glanced over my parents without much thought to bore into me. I couldn’t see her face because of her veil, but when our gazes matched up, I’d wake up in a heap of sweat, bawling my eyes out. I was told by my psychiatrist that this dream signaled “a mistrust of love.” An astrologist told me that my relationship with my parents would change soon. They didn’t understand what I was conveying to them

because they didn’t know the feeling of being in its presence. The feeling of being powerless to a force that is much more dangerous than just a massive discharge from the brain. Another creature I encountered often was the Nurse. Her stature resembled that of the clown’s. Her skin clung to her bones like a wet rag clamping over a tree trunk; it was possible to see every protrusion of her body. The Nurse would roam the hallways of my childhood home, leaving behind a damp stain and the smell of formaldehyde. She’d check to see if the lights were out and that I was asleep. I’d hear her coming from down the hallway. Her voice soft, but not in a soothing way. She sang lullabies with a voice that had smoked cigarettes for a majority of her life and cackled on built up spittle. The lullaby singed itself into my brain. “To whom shall I give this baby? If I give him the old hag, she’ll keep it for a week. She’ll keep it for a week… She’ll keep it for a week. I’m gonna keep that baaaaby…” She’d drift to my bedside and whisper, “I know you’re awake, so why don’t you open those little eyes? Just give me a quick peek?” I wouldn’t respond. I sunk lower into the bed out of fear. I’d never experienced anxiety in my life before, but dread consumed my body when she hovered around. “Just show me your eyes, boy.” Her tone seemed frenzied. I shivered. “I see you moving. I smell your fear. Just look at me, and know who I am.” The fear in her voice didn’t do anything to soothe mine. “LOOK AT ME!” She scooped up my body and threw me to the floor. I felt my tears inch down my cheeks and onto her abnormally long fingernails as

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she caressed my face. I felt her skin as it stuck years. and peeled from my face, the tears acting as I dashed to my parents; room to show an adhesive. them what atrocities had been wrought upon “YOU WILL SEE ME! THEY WILL KNOW me. They just decided it was time for another ME!” visit to the shrink. She arched her fingers underneath my “I can’t help you if you don’t address the eyelids and forced them open, pain searing problem, Carson,” my shrink, Ruth, said. through the spiderwebbed veins underneath “I told you the problem, and I told you that my skin. After the blur of pain faded, I was you’re not able to fix it, Ruth,” I retorted in forced to gaze upon a malignant wretch, who turn. was only identifiable by her attire: tattered “Carson, you and I both know how scrubs and busted slippers. intelligent you are. Your brain is creating I saw why she seemed rushed. The same these images based on your real world woman who stared through the window of experiences. Fear and dread commonly the kitchen, was positioned right outside the interact to force a young mind like yours to doorway of my room. She see things that aren’t really slowly strolled in, like the there. What I need from you She slowly strolled grim reaper approaching a is to address the problems in, like the grim dying soldier: greedily. that face you in the real The Nurse raked one world so we can overcome reaper approaching of her mangled fingernails the ones that your a dying across my wrist and down subconscious creates.” my forearm, stroke after “If that’s what you think, soldier: greedily stroke, sending flames then you really don’t through my synapses. understand what I’m going “Show them who I am. The world will through, Ruth.” know.” Our conversations always ended the same. The Nurse got sent across the room She questioned if anything changed at school from one blow to the side of the head from or if there was any change in the family the woman who finally entered the room. Her dynamic at home. She just dug to see if I was body slammed into the wall and sprawled out bullied by students, or abused by my in a catatonic stupor, defeated by the parents. The truth of the matter is that superior spirit we both feared. nothing had changed. I’d walk out the door Lettering formed where the wall was with a, “I think we’ve really made some splintered to show one word: Gretzel. progress today, Carson…” and return to the I’d stutter awake, tears streaming down nightmares that would surely come that my face. Then, the pain would hit. Jagged night. lines of mind-numbing pain tore through my None of the creatures held a candle to the arms. I looked down to see white pinstripes woman dressed in black; the woman from the etched into my skin, cut so deep, it was as if window and my dark angel from my room. they were scraped through day after day for Gretzel. She only attacked once in a blood

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moon. The difference between her and the monster to chase me or torture me. The others is that she could terrorize my friends nightmares I had with Gretzel were ones filled and family by using my body as a vessel to with an unending dread and an unachievable enter the physical world. I only knew about hope. I was surrounded by darkness that this because my parents told me of times shouted whispers into my mind. where I’d sleep walk and sleep talk. Words “Let go of yourself.” spilled from my mouth that were foreign or “Free yourself from your pain.” incoherent. The words that were deciphered “End it. End it just like the rest of them.” spoke of evil events that would come to pass. “You can die happy now.” I also woke up in different rooms, only to hear The voices were put on blast between my about my escapades from the night before. ears to distract me from the goal that I aimed Every night she came always started the to get to: the light at the end of the darkness. same way. I’d settle in to sleep, only to feel It offered my only beacon of hope to escape highly discomforted. It wasn’t the mattress, the hell I was situated in. So, I sprinted. I ran nor was it the pillows. I wasn’t hot or stuffy. I as fast as I could to reach that light. Little had just felt her. Her presence emanated from the I known that there would be obstacles in the corner of the room; a spectre ready to be way. Arms reached out from the darkness to rereleased on the world it trip me and pull me back the used to roam freely. Tendrils way I came so that every step I had entered her of darkness squirmed their I took, I was drug back by world and she was way from the corner of the two. I could never etch room to my bed, slipping closer to the light, but it free to roam mine under the covers. They found always inched closer to points of impact on my me. It came with the shout fingers and toes, sending shivers of ice of voices, and the shaking of the darkness. throughout my body. I was frozen in place as Those I was around sought to wake me up. As sleep paralysis consumed my entire body. I passed through the darkness into the light, She drifted closer to my bed, but I could I saw the vapor of a robe trailing behind the never grasp what she actually looked like. She ghost of a woman. was encircled in black robes that shifted with While I tried to free myself of Gretzel’s the air blown from the vent of the AC. Her nightmare trap, she used my body to strike face was too obscure and constantly fear into my friends in family. They’d wake up contorted so I could never figure out what she to one of two things she subjected them two. looked like. The first was hellish sleep talking. I’d “wake She reached out her hand and placed up” in the middle of the night and have full three fingers on my forehead and sent blown conversations with those around me. electricity running from my head to my toes. The scary part, though, was that I usually had I had entered her world, and she was free to them in different languages. It wasn’t the roam mine. cliche language of Latin, but primarily Laos. The dreams I had when Gretzel appeared When they could understand me, though, were unlike the others. I didn’t have a they didn’t like what they heard.

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One specific instance was when I spent time with my best friend, Nathan. He described everything I did with exact detail, starting with me leaning up in bed at a forty-five degree angle. “Ah ha ah ha ah hahaaa…” I cackled. “Carson, what are you doing, bro,” Nathan said as he turned his head away from the television that was streaming Xbox gameplay. I turned my head to stare directly into his soul, “The time has come. They are ready for him now.” “Carson, I have no clue what you’re going on about, but you gotta knock it off.” “Hahahahaha… You would like to know wouldn’t you?” I began to rise from the bed but abruptly stopped, stared at Nathan for a few more seconds, then returned to the position I was laying in. “I can die happy now…” My body slumped into the bed and I drifted to sleep, while my friend sat in his chair, mortified by what just took place. He was lucky. He only experienced what it was like when I talked to him in my sleep. When Gretzel took control of my limbs, anything could have happened. Many nights, I just marched from my room upstairs to my parents’ room on the first floor. From there, I’d just crawl in bed. Other nights, however, took a more sinister turn. Many times, my family would find me playing with a lighter in the kitchen, watching the flame as it licked my fingers. My parents would also wake up to see me standing above them with my arms attached to my sides as if they were tied there, and a sickening grin on my tilted head as I stared at them. Often, they would find me perched like a gargoyle on their baseboard, peering into

the darkness like I was waiting for something to appear. One night changed everything for me when Gretzel decided to pay me a visit in my dreams. It started out like normal. She entered my room before I fell asleep, and she gripped me with the stunning power of sleep paralysis, then melded her spirit with my body. The light at the end of the darkness appeared to be closer this time. I started my trudge to get through the obstacles that stained my path. However, they didn’t pull me back. They impeded my progress, but they didn’t pull me back farther than where I started. I slowly started to reach the light. As I drew closer, the voices that shouted in my mind increased their volume. I started to bleed from my nose as the voices caused pain to erupt throughout my entire face. The light was mere feet from my face when the voices drew to a giant crescendo. It felt like they dug nails into my brain and tore it open from the inside out. My eyes, nose, and ears began to gush blood, staining my hands and clothes a deep black. I reached through the light and emerged into my parents’ bedroom. I was breathing heavily, huffing and puffing like I just finished the world’s fastest marathon. Then, I felt it. Tiny droplets of blood ran down my face. I touched it, only to find that my face had been clawed from right below my eyes to the bottom of my cheeks. My hands were stained with blood, but it wasn’t mine. My parents were splayed out on the bed before me, filleted from the butcher knife that I was clutching in my hands. I looked up to see a wispy robe rounding the corner. As it exited the doorway, it stopped to look at me for one final moment before its form dissipated and was replaced

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by red and blue lights. No one has believed me since the night of the incident. Who would? To the caretakers in the ward, I’m just a psychopathic patient that can’t control his impulses. At night, I talk to the walls and slash my wrists with my fingernails. They don’t understand how I get out of the restraints, but I do. Ever since that night, she hasn’t left me. She watches from the corner of my room from dawn till dusk. Gretzel waits until they force those damn sleeping pills down my

throat so she has the ability to strike me when I’m most vulnerable, a forced stupor. So, they keep me here; locked up like the rest of the mental patients because they don’t understand that I’m plagued. They don’t understand that their care has created my greatest curse. They don’t understand that forcing me to be unconscious allows her to roam freely. I guess that’s what she intended for us since the beginning.

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Maybe in College By Emily Gist

In the beginning, there was darkness. A pivotal moment. DNA mingled, cells hugged, melded, gathered, crowded, mixed and then there was zygote. Zygote grew a tail, lost her tail, sprouted arms and legs and head, curled into a ball. Her eyes grew, her brain sparked, her arms spread, her heart thumped. Ba-bum. Ba-bum. Ba-bum. She grew in the womb, filled space, kicked at the uterine wall and was turned on her head. Then there was light. Blinding light. Eyelids lifted, lungs expanded and contracted as O2 flooded in and CO2 flooded out. Muscles burned, eyes burned, nose burned. “WAAAAAAAAHH!” Her shrieks pierced their ears. She was alive. She learned to gaggle and giggle and cry and pout and wriggle and suckle. She learned that when she cried, they would feed her, change her diaper, burp her, and hold her tight. Eventually, she got tired. They got

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tired. She learned to be autonomous. She learned to crawl and stand and walk. She learned that “kit-kat” meant “kitty cat.” “Pick you up” meant “Pick me up, please.” She learned that “they” were “mommy” and “daddy.” She discovered sister, family, cats, apartment, house, mountain, school, books, friends, gymnasium, classroom, desk, pencil, paper, cubbies, lunchroom, backpack, homework, binders. And then she met him. Middle school: His curly blonde hair puffed in front of her as they sat on the lines etched in the giant gymnasium floor. He folded his gym clothes, just like her. She smiled. Ba-bum. Ba-bum. Ba-bum. On the bus to a band competition, his puffy hair bobbed to the front seat. She calculated her risks and stole the seat next to him on the way back. A happy coincidence. She told her friend her secret. She told a

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friend who told a friend who told him during college.” lunch. She denied it. She ran away. She Her heart beat slowly in a quiet resolve. walked to class. She saw him. He smiled. She She turned and walked away. didn’t. She experienced her first boyfriend. Two Her lungs filled. She beelined through months later, she experienced her first lockers and confessed to him. He said he break-up. She cried. She experienced her didn’t know how he felt. He said he couldn’t second boyfriend. date until college. Her friend pulled her aside. She said that was fine, but her heart still He said she abandoned him. He feared beat a staccato rhythm. he’d lost a friend. He asked her best friend to High school: She took a deep breath as she prom. He asked her why no one wanted to asked him to Sadies. He said yes. She wore a date him. Her brain zapped and zipped to the cowboy hat, boots, and a white dress. While time in front of his locker and the time after the suffocating smell of sweat and heat filled the talent show. He had poked at her heart’s the gymnasium, she and he sat in the wound that had already scabbed over. cafeteria. Students had covered the giant They graduated. They went to college. He windows overlooking Pikes Peak with long, kept to his roots with the mountain and she black sheets. Despite the uprooted and left the He had poked at crowd, it was just the two of mountain behind. They them. emailed. She experienced her heart’s wound She opened her mouth to her second break up and her that had already say something. He told her a third boyfriend and her third secret. She shut her mouth. break-up and her fourth scabbed over She joined Marching boyfriend. They still emailed. Band and saw him there. The summer of her She bought him a hat for Christmas. His Sophomore year, she returned to the arms wrapped around her. He bought her a mountain. He invited her to his mountain bear and flower for Valentine’s day. Her arms house, and they drove in his bright red truck wrapped around him. She wrote a confession for an hour. letter, then threw it away, then wrote another The cabin was surrounded by a picket one, then crumpled it into a ball. fence. He warned her that the cabin had to be Her lungs burned as they expanded and heated by a central fireplace and that it would contracted. Lactic acid flooded through her take a few hours to warm up. She didn’t care. muscles from the dancing and singing she’d When they were together, her heart no longer done on stage for the talent show. She ran up quickened. to him before he could leave for the night. The front door smelled of skunk, but once “I really like you.” The words she yearned they entered the cabin was warm and to speak for the past five years retreated from inviting. A couch and two chairs surrounded her lips. the central fireplace. He said a million things. He wasn’t sure; he “Do you want me to teach you how to might like her, he might not. “Maybe in make a fire?” he asked. She nodded.

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He crouched in front of the fireplace. When he opened the furnace door, the smell of soot flooded through her nose to the back of her tongue. It tasted ashy. He grabbed some sticks from the crate beside him and set the foundation for the fire. He described the process. “One big mistake that people make is, if they don’t tend to the fire for a while, they think the fire has gone out. But really, all you have to do is tend to it a bit more, and it’ll light back up.”

He finishes the fire, sets the paper below the stick foundation ablaze, and they watch as the fire grows. Every now and then, he throws a stick in and the sparks ignite once more. With the heat warming her face, she turns her head towards him. She sees his puff of hair, and it stokes the remnants of a feeling. He looks at her curiously. The feeling ebbs, then dwindles into smoke. She smiles.

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wHow To Be A Cold, Unfeeling Bitch x who Doesn’t Need Anybody, Especially Her Crazy Ex-Girlfriend By Gabrielle Thurman

1. Listen to the ​Strong+Single​playlist made for this exact purpose on Spotify (non-spons). 2. Delete all pictures of crazy ex-girlfriend on every media platform, then from your phone, then from the iCloud. When it asks you if you want to permanently delete, select yes. 3. Mute her name. Mute the names of all the girls she cheated on you with. 4. Block all of them. Then delete her number. 5. Pick yourself up off the bathroom floor. 6. Don’t eat butter pecan ice cream. It used to be your favorite, but it was also hers, so don’t even bother opening the tub. 7. Don’t sit down in the shower. You’ll start crying, and then you won’t be able to stop. 8. DO NOT​​set a bag of shit on her new whore’s front porch. ​DO NOT​ set that bag of shit on fire. 9. Don’t party. Or if you do party, don’t post it on Snapchat. Her ego is so big that she’ll assume you did it just to show her how totally over her you are. Which, yeah, you did, but that’s not the point, because you are a cold, unfeeling bitch who doesn’t need anybody, especially her crazy ex-girlfriend.

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Redbird By Sarah Graham

Deep in sleep, I was awoken by a pounding on the window. A redbird, trying to let itself in Papa’s cabin. It was not bothered by the thunderstorm, but instead kept banging its delicate body into the glass. It wanted to tell me a secret. Something urgent, important. The bird stayed up into the early hours of the morning, persisting to break the glass. It left before breakfast. Papa didn’t always live in the A-frame cabin on the river, but he always rollicked in the raw simplicity of nature. Almost every weekend when my dad was a boy, the two would go hunting together. Papa would always make breakfast: a fried egg sandwich on wheat bread or french toast if they were lucky. Just as the sun was coming up, they would load the guns, then wander into the forest to look for their prey. Papa knew how to steer through the thick clusters of trees, always breaking a branch or following the wind to find their way back. They would eat Spam for lunch, slicing it into slimy chunks

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with Papa’s pocket knife, the same one that probably diced a squirrel the week before. If they mistakenly forgot their canned meat, Papa knew how to catch, carve, and fry up a fish right there. “Fish on a stick,” he’d call it. Papa never needed a cell phone or television set; he was content with watching the bright stars gleam at night or listening to the chirps of the redbirds to pass the time.

As a child, I was pestered with vivid dreams nearly every night. Santa Claus hiding in the laundry room with a steak knife. Purple leprechauns circling the couch. A strange man living in the shop outside, spying on me through the window. Most dreams were set in the comfort of my own home. They would lure me in somewhere safe and familiar, tricking my brain that the chilling images were real. I would wake up drenched in sticky sweat with purple rings

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under my eyes that have long been branded their lost belongings. For Christmas, he would into my skin. find the most flawless arrowheads and turn As I grew older, my dreams slowly became them into necklaces for my sister and I; we more tame and typical. Normal dreams wore them around our necks to protect us mostly, with the occasional nightmare. But from illness and guard us from the dangers of my sleep was once again plagued by grim the Evil Eye. nightmares after the death of my Papa Roger. Sometimes I dream of his log cabin that rests along the Caddo River. The name originates from one particular tribe, the My dad almost never cries. I can count Kadohadacho, who once called the river their on only one hand the times I’ve witnessed it. home. The soil is still rich with arrowheads Once was after his beloved fat Labrador was — mementos left behind as the tribe was put down. I could hear his muffled weeping stripped from their land in the mid 1800s. from the master bedroom, gently pressing Papa collected hundreds around his home, my ear against the door just to make sure my preserving them in dusty imagination wasn’t deceiving glass frames above his me. I was young — I thought My sleep was once staircase. dads never cried. After the “They’re good luck,” Papa again plagued by death of his father, his eyes whispered. His breath was were always glazed with grim nightmares always heavy, his voice tears that just rested along soothing, yet rough. after the death of his lenses, waiting to stream He would hide down his face behind closed my Papa Roger arrowheads for me and my doors. sister to find. Steering us My mom has always been through the soil, assuring us the one to go off to work, make the living, that we were expert archaeologists, that we pay the bills, file the taxes, while my dad has were the ones discovering the artifacts for the always been the homemaker. first time. We would take home small buckets “Wakey, wakey, eggs and bakey!” he of arrowheads, playing with them as if they would shout nearly every morning — were Barbie dolls. sometimes with tickles, almost always with Papa had books that told stories and snatching the covers off my bed, then asking traditions of the Caddo Indians. The men what I wanted for breakfast. I normally only hunted deer, small mammals, and fished, just replied with morning gripes, pleading for “just as he did, while the women harvested beans, five more minutes.” pumpkins, and sunflowers for soups and “Fried egg sandwich it is,” he would holler. stews. He learned simple words of their dying Once he found out he was having a native language: k​ ua’at​(pronounced koo-ah- daughter, my dad learned how to braid hair. aht) is a friendly greeting, while t​ ’aybaw’ah​ He was always the one to do my hair, even (pronounced tie-bow-ah) means to see you when my mom was home. Once when my later. He cherished their culture, respected

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dad was out of town, my preschool teacher gave me a confused stare as she glanced at my lopsided pigtails. “Roger’s out of town, ain’t he?” She gawked. Growing up with two sisters, my dad was used to living in a house swarming with girls. This meant to always put the toilet seat down and that he instantly became a personal mannequin for his beautician sister and pesky daughters. There are pictures of him with blonde highlights in his hair, others of him fashioning pink sparkly nail polish that my sister and I insisted was “just his color.” When I broke my arm in the 6th grade, he blow dried my hair every night, then straightened it. Then straightened it again in the morning, because that’s how I liked it. Despite his tamed masculinity, my dad is the strongest man I’ll ever meet. He is a lot like Papa Roger. He inherited not only his name, but his blue eyes, rose-stained skin, and his tough love. They love the smell of nature, the calmness of the river, the warmth of the campfire against their skin. The two would fish together for hours, only disturbed by the chirps of crickets in their bucket of bait and the occasional stir of the water.

Papa never left anywhere without his loyal companion by his side: a brown teacup poodle named Polly. She was his precious baby now that his were all grown up. Most outdoorsmen would have chosen a Saint Bernard or a Labrador as their accomplice, but Papa always had a soft spot for poodles. They would roam the land for hours, then sleep curled up together listening to the sound of owls and coyotes from the

microphone he placed in his woods. Even when indoors, nature always surrounded him. He could have lived off-the-grid in a beehive-shaped dwelling made out of grass, just like the Caddos. Then he got sick. He was never a large man — always somewhat thin and fairly short, so with every pound lost, his skin began to sink. He grew weak and fragile, soon not able to fish or wander about his land. Though no longer married, his former wife and mother of my dad took him to every doctors visit. They vowed “‘Til death do us part,” and though they split, they remained platonic lovers until death. His family’s love did not stop his muscles from decaying; he knew he was never going to get well again. Once he no longer had control over his body or over his land, he could no longer find purpose in his life.

Perhaps it’s my dreams that make me believe my life did not begin in 1999, that my soul has been reused time and time before. Sometimes I have dreams in which I am not the main character. They take place in another era, with set pieces from ages ago that stand as the backdrop to the peculiar plot. I often recall faces that are absurdly familiar, sometimes they appear over and over again, like an unsettling sense of deja vu. I have always felt like I am an old soul. My mind often wanders, and I see glimpses of what it would be like to live in another lifetime. Perhaps I lived in ancient Egypt, where I was one of the seven female pharaohs, gilded in gold headwear, with leopard skin hanging over my shoulder and a

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lion’s tail dangling from my belt. I might have been a flapper from the 1920s and had just traded my corset for a pack of cigarettes and a new bobbed haircut, or maybe I was a Caddo woman living on the river, wearing a dress made of buffalo with beads assembled in my long silky hair. I often feel the faint whispers of the deceased, especially when my bare feet seep into the cold soil on Papa’s land. No, I don’t see dead people, but can just barely feel their energy in a gust of wind.

tremble, tears stream down my blood-red skin, my heart knocking vigorously against my chest, begging me to calm down. I try to keep the attacks hidden from most of my family, but my mom is the only one who truly knows the horror. My sister got my dad’s dark hair and his I-Don’t-Care-What-You-Think attitude, whereas I inherited my mom’s freckles and her wasteful amount of emotions. She is the only one that can see my watery eyes and puffy skin, still sticky with tears. I let her see me in my most vulnerable state, because I’ve seen hers about a million times now. But sometimes, even when my mom’s gentle hand tucks the hair behind my ear and I sometimes have nightmares of dying. assures me “everything will be okay,” They are not morbid, bloody, nor sick, but everything is still ​not​okay. rather a mere painless predicWhen I feel that nobody can tion of what my last seconds I think of him help me and I cannot help mywill intel. Sometimes I am most when I see self, I place my life in the hands falling off a skyscraper; chokof Mother Nature: wandering ing on air as I wrestle the wind. a Redbird through the woods outside Other times I’m in a car crash, my house, wishing I was at the glass piercing through my skin, river — wishing my feet were in the dirt, my the car twisting in mid air. One, two, three, four spirals before touching land again. I have hands caressing my newfound arrowhead, breathfound myself in mounds of murky quicksand, scratching the mud as I sink deeper and ing in the smell of the campfire and my dad’s deeper, or often times drowning in a chlorine fresh catch on the grill. In seventh grade, we moved to a fixer-upswimming pool. I always wake up before I per house on 10 acres in the middle of​ know I’m dead. nowhere.​My mom never wanted to move there, but my dad fell in love with the pond filled with fish and the sad-looking weeping Most of my family doesn’t understand the willow in the yard. It reminded him of Papa. A lot of things remind us of Papa: teacup angst I so often face. Sometimes I am poodles, the potent stench of tobacco smoke, overwhelmed with the loss of Papa, other times even the simplest of tasks can make my veterans discounts, the morning mist that rests over water, but I think of him most when brain think in scribbles, like having a I see a redbird. nightmare when awake. My hands start to Hatinu banit:​redbird in the Kadohadacho

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language.​​Redbird. The creature that seems to haunt not only my dreams, but also my reality. The Caddos believe that animals are sacred, sacrificing themselves to the hunter, then man repays them by using every portion of their carcass. They are certain that humans can have many souls, one of them often rebirthing into an animal. I hope to see my Papa again, his red wings flapping, his beak pitch black. He is a cardinal — dainty, but masculine, never straying from his nest. Both share the same cherry red complexion. I often dream of that night. The bird whispers something in my ear, but I cannot decipher its sacred songs. I will never know what Papa was trying to say, but I know he would be proud. He would be proud that I graduated high school, conquering anxiety and following my dreams of writing and acting. He would be proud of my dad who replaced his sorrow with a tennis racket, visiting the courts nearly every day. He would

be proud of my sister, a dancing queen, finally budding into a woman.

If our souls do leave our bodies after we die to find a new life form, my mom would be a turtle, her freckles mimicking the dots on her small outer shell. My dad might be an emperor penguin, the ones who raise the young while the mother is providing for the family. My sister would be a house cat — spoiled, yet fierce. But Papa is a redbird, soaring through the sky, watching his land flourish and grow. He can hear the sound of the crickets, the stir of the water, the “hoos” of the owls, the feeble howls of the coyotes. He watches me bury my feet into his soil, fondling with the arrowhead that rests around my neck, always looking for a redbird. T’aybaw’ah, P ​ apa. See you soon.

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Poetry


wMy Freckles Were Constellationsx By Gabrielle Thurman

He whispered: “What are you afraid of?” His breath was so warm on the bare skin of my shoulder, brushing my freckles and turning them into falling stars. I answered: “Myself.” Because it was the truth. But I was afraid of more than that. I was afraid of him, and losing control, and the warmth of his breath on the bare skin of my shoulder turning my freckles into constellations. So I left my bare shoulders cold my freckles only freckles once more, and I hated myself and this prison of glass I call a brain for being so fragile. Hating that despite the fact that I was The Judge, The Jury, and The Executioner, it was still my head on the chopping block.

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wVintage Woods Drive By Sarah Graham

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Dusty chandeliers rest above empty dinner tables Children swallow spoonfuls of innocence for breakfast washing it down with a glass of cold milk The tickle of freshly cut grass against our supple flesh still painted with bruises A constellation of scabs and neat scrapes My freckles bloom as the sun kisses my florid cheeks and the katydids teach me to sing

It was years before I discovered your black magic 13 houses locked inside a cast iron fence A universe of its own made of clones who reek of red wine and racism who stash their secrets underneath their nail beds and flash forged smiles with gritted teeth Toes scrape against the jagged sides of chlorine pools Daddy is home late from work again I pluck pears from our dainty fruit trees an escape from razor burn and gossip sludge I skim the clouds for a sign of the celestial but can only hear the faint hum of the birds and bees below We moved out just two months after my thirteenth birthday and my innocence melted away in your fingertips at last.

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wMy Thanks to You

x By Ashley Savage

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and i’m sweeping, sweeping, cleaning. but — this time is different. and i feel it. and i don’t use my calloused fingertips to brush small bits of you, us, what we were — into the tray, with a frown on my face. no. this time, i’m smiling, collecting, dusting, with the softest grin, and i say thank you. thank you for not being patient with me. thank you for coming to me, and placing me between your lips, to inhale, abuse, depend on, momentarily and abundantly temporarily. because i say, thank you. with appreciation that dwells

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in my chest like the smoke of us in your lungs for being the one who let it get away. because it’s september, now. and i’m using the edges of my thumbs to clean off the tray, cause it seems, feels, encompasses me, that i finally found the one who was meant to stay. A thank you letter — to my last. An appreciation — for my forever.

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wDistantly Shorn Lawn Grass

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By Hannah Barry

distantly shorn lawn grass crunched where i knelt to peer wonderingly up at the expanse where you perched, softly swinging your legs — contrail-criss-crossed, star-freckled, cloud-brushed epitome of human nature beautiful, heartbreaking, fleeting gatsby’s green light glittering just above me i tilted my telescope small voiceless hope of a taste, a glimpse a moment of breathless wonder before you sailed to far lovelier skies you reached through my lenses lifted me from the mirrors spilt the milky way, shined the stars, filled my frigid, yawning spaces with shimmering, glimmering warmth, let me forget my own inadequacy. You met my eyes perhaps with affection but more likely with confusion and concern for I had been staring probably way too long. I hurriedly reacquainted myself with the popcorn texture of your dining room ceiling, and squeezed your hand, and something foolish in my heart marveled.

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wCheek Spill By Logan Howell

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Cheek spill in the dark coating the sidewalk between two street lights ankle deep. Cheek spill via NASA drone morse code confessions words without thoughts shooting blanks indiscriminately. The Cheek Spill Orchestra finally, Carnegie Hall! Eager to expel saliva like a sprinkler to a lawn clumps of grass grinning below. Tuba’s final bellow, yet the unsatiated drooling continues. Cheek spill soaking your outfit wringing your favorite hoodie out pining for a drier time before the dentist numbed your mouth when saliva could create picnic blankets. Cheek spill leaving a slug’s trail behind wondering if you’ll ever feel the sides of your mouth again.

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w“A Cast-Out Angel’s LAment”

After Zhu Yu

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By Kaylie Cone

He reaches out His hand to take but I don’t return mine. He holds a rope, so that it might be easier for me to return To Him. I refuse. Only I know that He is rotting. He has my siblings fooled and under His watchful eye they do His bidding and sing His praises. He can do no wrong. A vain, disgusting creature He is. I’ve walked His land and don’t want to stay. There’s less pressure down here upon the soft ground. He tries to call down to me but His words fly away before I can hear them, instead hearing the birds’ song to me. they tell me of freedom to do what I wish. A lion pounces at a gazelle. Tears it apart with an experienced paw. His creatures were supposed to be beautiful. They’re just as vicious as He is and as I can be. I will prove to be more powerful than He.

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He will come to fear me. I don’t hear from Him anymore but I find His mark everywhere. His signs burned on the inside of my eyelids, His words curled in the shell of my ear, His touch given to me by strangers. I don’t miss it. I want to be completely free of Him. To walk without touching where He has been. To smell alcohol without thinking of Him. I don’t want His handouts. I must work for myself and make my way on my own.

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wMy Cat and I are Rescues

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By B. Bertrand

air passes into our lungs in tandem we process the inhale identically our lungs spinning carbon dioxide into oxygen my cheek rests on his flank my arms secure around the complete curl of his striped body we breathe as one unit chests rising, falling intake, outtake a mirror mirrored twinned beasts with ragged edges soft hearts protected by thick, stone walls the masonry a patchwork of mistrust, doubt, insecurity we never asked to be builders this construction zone isn’t OSHA compliant the rebar struts jut out at odd angles all rusted up with fear and hurt and letting someone close is akin to handing them a sledgehammer when our eyes met for the first time I saw my reflection staring back at me two broken, scared kids with everything to lose I couldn’t leave him there not with t​hose p​eople not in that​house I traded my fear for a sword my resolve became my shield we broke their binding chains crushed them under foot and paw and dashed away into the long night

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dogs By Hannah Barry

hello passersby perhaps you think I am composing some clever intellectual treatise with my unhuried, absorbed scrawl. perhaps solving the world’s problems with the magic of science or healing the rift with eloquence or quietly reveling in the smooth beauty of my paper but instead I am writing the word “dogs” over and over.

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wMy Brain is a Color Television By Sarah Graham

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Sometimes I am up before the birds just to stare into nothingness until my brain feels of cheap black velvet And when the sun gleams on my pale skin I crawl back under the sheets with tear stains on my cheek swaddled in a dune of delicious guilt. Sometimes lost somewhere deep in sleep I awake suddenly drenched in blood-soaked dreams and a glue of salty sudor I lay bitterly conscious for hours seduced by my own delusion. Sometimes It is but a single word or phrase In the midst of a sunny brunch that awakens her. Snakes slithering up my throat Teeth jabbing together like a typewriter with no ink Misty fog clogs my eyes holes as my bones clack and clatter My brain is a color television but she has the remote. Grey goo gushing through my veins I can taste time Pungent and slippery, the seconds melt away She makes my world numb.

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Sometimes when I stare into my reflection I feel detached from my corpse Some form of phony clone covered in m​y​ skin I can’t tell the real from the unreal any longer. The Dream Every morning, I wake up drenched in words. Whimsical letters that I can never dichipher like remembering an old locker combination or a dream stained with bleach. It whispered something of importance a secret I should know, a nightmare of nothingness I must know what it said, so tonight I shall try again.

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wRaspberry Vapor

x By Lakota Kasworm

I met a woman early August; across her skin I felt tearful years. It was written on her stomach and thighs.

A burning wish fired from her own tongue: “Loving arms and a pulse to be alive.”

Breathing in your raspberry vapor, take me through each of your faded scars, I’ll carry those tearful years for you.

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wSpoiled Milk By Logan Howell

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Mud coated muscles drying out under a streetlight. Rusty fungus climbs up your neck. You let it keep climbing because it would be more exhausting to stop it. It’s not worth the bother, it’s only crayons on a chalkboard. You have other things to think about. Thus, the slow death of the ramen wizard commences. The Spoiled Milk Festival, given permits via executive order, renders you an immobile centerpiece for the foul stench. Wet shoes and squishy steps are driven into the ground near your head like spears into the ground. The wind of their feet circles your ears like those spiral wishing wells in the mall. A tuba coats the stomping of feet. The rest of the band joins it. You recognize the tunes. You remember when your dad took you to the festival. You try to grasp at those slivers of the awe that once was. The awe that seems increasingly hard to encounter. It seems the band can’t see you. You can only see the brazen light towering over you. It’s not hard to acclimate to dried mud and parched eyes. A new stimulus enters. The revolting stench steals the last remaining sense you felt you had some sort of control over. You close your eyes, accepting that you will live and die in the Spoiled Milk Festival. Accepting that nobody else at the festival will bat an eye at the fallen mud gargoyle.

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wit makes me feel like a liar

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By Gabrielle Thurman

poetry Doesnt seem to   follow any of the   Rules.  i like it.  What i dont like is that  All my poetry   has been filed under  Competitions  and then  Contests.  that a part of me would change my words if it meant  A scholarship  A lover  A future  Would look twice at me  just once.  - it makes me feel like a liar

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wWishbone By Rebecca Franke

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The first time I ever pulled a muscle: sanding the wooden edifice of my father’s creation. I recall cushions of ripped quilt, dunes of sawdust — the particular scent of wood that arose like slow flying sparks — the great cathedral with the thumping of anvils like heartbeats. It was my father’s workshop until he was fired. From our lives, he shot. Us, on one prong. He, on the other. Wishbone. And the second muscle I pulled was when I held on too hard as the wishbone broke.

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wFishnet Giant

x By Logan Howell

The fishnet giant, A shirtless yodeler. The fairy in the walls. Grab my cement scissors. Kiwis in a cage, free To roam the imp party. Shooting brambles at the sky. Moss craze, always neon. A solemn cardboard rocket Lugged out of the garage. Passions biding. Dim is air. Space toss. Navigate a neutron curry. Fields of glop. Spontaneous freeze. The ice titan, A shirtless yodeler, Duly with the moon wind.

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w Personification of Writers Blockx By Arianna Gray

I can’t write with my roommate in the dorm. When I’m alone, the words drop from the walls, verse drenching the page like from a rainstorm, but, alas, I hear her voice down the hall. My heart says, “spin a tale of dragons old,” yet my words are hostage to, “I don’t know ‘bout those sandals, darlin, it’s getting cold.” And we simply must discuss her new beau. I wrote down a phrase! No, that one sounds wrong. Next words? Oh, great, now she’s started to sing. And vape. Together. Hacking through the song. Goddamn, why can’t this sonnet just take wing? I could toss her to the sea like lagan. . . Oh, wait, she’s gone! Now, back to those dragons!

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w

On Dragons

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By Arianna Gray

It’s the middle of the night and I’m thinking about dragons. Strong wings beating against the wind of the sky. One beast, then two, then a dozen, all masters of flight; no thought of their own majesty, nor care. I dream they take me into their care and so they do, every night. A deep breathe, a leap, and there I am, suddenly, flying with dragons. (This is the best time to learn, you know, when you’re soaring through the sky.) Of course, not all dragons take to the sky. Many stay on the ground to care for their young. They, too, have earthly responsibilities, and the babies are too tired to fly at night. So the mothers stay grounded and share the stories of the dragons which I gladly bend my ear towards when I find myself there. Sometimes, when they’re all gathered together in the nest, looking up at the moonlit sky, they tell me secrets of the ancient dragons and how they came to care for the fantasies of mortal children, as we dream of knights. Someday, they tell me, I will be a dragon too.

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“I, too?” I ask them, for surely they’re mistaken. How could I, a foolish mortal girl, become a dragon of the night? How could I grow wings, and take to the sky and leave behind my mortal whims without a care? Here is where they scold me, “Never argue with dragons.”

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I have much to learn, they say, before I can become one with the dragons (that is, if I’m willing to, for they hold no respect for those who do not care to try). I am willing, I know, and so I will learn. They’re pleased when I tell them this, I think, and once more they take to the sky, and now I am awake in my bed, cold with longing for the return of the night. But night will always come again, I tell myself, and I mustn’t argue with dragons and soon I too shall return to the sky. Of this, they’re sure, and I will learn. Someday, I too will be a dragon.

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wThe Dream By Sarah Graham

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Every morning, I wake up drenched in words. Whimsical letters that I can never dichipher like remembering an old locker combination or a dream stained with bleach It whispered something of importance a secret I should know, a nightmare of nothingness I must know what it said, so tonight I shall try again.

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wEscape By Allison Canty

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Bells don’t exist beyond death. Crows can caw, but ravens can never sing. Listless, the river Styx — it’s been filled with too many souls. Ambition doesn’t exist beyond death either. A door can be an ending, but a doorknob never bows. Wind, that ever-changing bringer of sound, dust, whispers — it stills for tornadoes and hurricanes of the soul, those moments when life flashes like a photograph. Purple poisonous berries ferment in your gut — spreading that delicious sensation, from fingers to toes. Eminent demise, a shame no one thought to teach you not to be a locust. Death is an escape, said every preacher nowhere. To them, death is a gateway. A door: to the being of judgement, no matter the name. So, they dress in their Sunday-best with kith and kin, to hear the hell-fire brimstone preacher spew in such a vitriolic way, while the captive audience contemplates their own escape. Don’t forget the ancient wisdoms; rest two pieces of silver upon your kin’s brow as Charon demands his tithe at the gateway. Mournful wails won’t dissuade. Bells don’t exist beyond death.

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wClosets

x By Alyssa Miller

My closet didn’t have a door. It was just a recession into the wall with a bar and a shelf that I packed full with books. None of the closets in our house had doors. That’s how i measured wealth as a kid: closet doors, and two story houses, homes with two spouses. I’d never known anything like it raised by my mom and with two sisters surrounded by a pool of femininity that defined my gender norms and defied societies. I wasn’t taught that I was ugly, or needed to change, or act more girly. At least, not at home. I cried in a closet in high school after a failed attempt at quitting the Quiz Bowl team and my coach’s repeated requests for an explanation. Why did I want to quit now? At the end of the year? What had my teammates done? What really was bothering me? I couldn’t say it. I broke into tears. I couldn’t breath. Words trying to escape but each syllable caught on a sob. The bell rang. Lunch was over. She let me hide in her closet. I couldn’t be honest and say I’m gay. I’m gay. They’re homophobic. Let me quit. Afraid that, the confession would spill out of me. Afraid that she would know and then the whole school would. I came out to my mom in that closet in a long rambling text because she had to be the first to know.

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My apartment I share with my girlfriend has three closets. All three of them have doors packed with dresses I wear with unshaven legs coats I put on for warmth, not to hide my body men’s shirts that I felt no hesitation in purchasing. I’m still discovering n ​ ew​better versions of myself.

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Art


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Devil’s Den

By Julian Ellis

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Blue Lagoon [Cover Image]

By Emma Lassiter

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Flicker Flicker

By Emma Lassiter

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Holy Solidarity in St. Kitts

By Kovenant James

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Tunnel

By Emma Lassiter

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London Glass Staircase

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By Emily Gist

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Profile for Vortex Magazine

November Online 2019  

The Vortex is the University of Central Arkansas’s undergraduate magazine of fine art and literature. Each year we publish original work sub...

November Online 2019  

The Vortex is the University of Central Arkansas’s undergraduate magazine of fine art and literature. Each year we publish original work sub...

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