Waldorf Literary Review
W a l d o r f
Waldorf Literary Review
Waldorf Literary Review
Waldorf Literary Review
W a l d o r f
Waldorf Literary Review
Produced annually, Waldorf Literary Review endeavors to further the intellectual and artistic conversation at Waldorf University by providing a public venue for the strongest, most vital creative work submitted by students, faculty, staff, alumni, and other members of Waldorf University and Forest City communities. Waldorf Literary Review is edited, designed, and produced by Waldorf University students in CWR 490: Literary Editing. It is printed by ColorFx in Boyden, Iowa. The magazine is made possible by the generosity and support of Waldorf University and its associates. Thanks to all our contributors; we appreciate the opportunity to showcase your talents. Thanks also to the high school seniors and juniors who contributed poetry and prose for our fifth annual Top of Iowa Conference Creative Writing Contest. The top winners are selected annually by the staff of the Review. General submissions are welcome during the fall and spring semester, particularly November and January. You can email submissions to waldorliteraryreview@gmail. com. Here are a few criteria to keep in mind: Prose: Whether stories are fictional or real, we like strong character development and a plot with rising tension. We are drawn to reflective essays as well—especially when they circle an intriguing topic, seeing it from multiple angles. Good literary fiction or nonfiction tends to illuminate an important human experience and to offer a perspective that is not predictable. Poetry: We like to be affected emotionally. This often occurs because of vivid, evocative imagery. Since poetry is about musicality as well, the language needs to have patterns and sound effects that contribute to a desired tone. A poem should be pleasing to the ear but not sing-songy. A poem should also be inventive in point of view, language, or form. Art: With regard to skill, we look for a pleasing composition — that is, lines, shapes, and patterns that engage the eye. We look for a skillful use of color and texture, too, applied in a way that suits the subject. Photos are especially good for capturing reality in surprising ways, taken from unexpected angles or relying on unusual scale and proportion. And three dimensional art should offer a sense of space and tactile attraction, which is why we look for shapes that have volume and texture plus a distinctive style. All art, though, should convey something that causes us to marvel or to resonate with recognition. For more information about the magazine or contest, please contact Professor Tim Bascom at email@example.com.
Copyright © 2018, Waldorf University
Waldorf Literary Review Volume 11, 2018
Editorial Team Diana Humble
Associate Poetry/Prose Editor
Associate Poetry/Prose Editor
Associate Poetry/Prose Editor
Associate Poetry/Prose Editor
Design Team Shannon Clark
Faculty Advisor Professor Tim Bascom
Table of Contents Awards in Poetry 8
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Megan Haugen Entitled to Me 8 Sam Morrison Cottage 9 Abbie Wells Iâ€™m A Myth 10 Mandi Wright gas stations 12 Diana Humble Dead, but not Gone 13 Isabelle Rothbauer Among the daisies and 14 forget-her-nots Megan Haugen Boxes 16 Ann Rosenblatt In the Stars (When I Think 18 About You)
Poetry 20 Mandi Wright A Regular Day 20 Ruth Worrell Hused 21 Donnica Keeling Great Grandfather 22 Tick, Tock. 23 Marcus Lopez Banks in Wilmington, DE 24 Saheed Olaosebikan My Faith 24 Matthew Scott Harris Bumper Boo Boo 25 Jonathan Happel Moments 26 Sam Morrison Robert Johnsonâ€™s Blues 28 Jaci Olson Things I Cherish 29 Jeremy Navarro The Morning Hunt 30 Nic Ray Fixed 30 Marla Britton-Johnson The Walk 31 Ryan Clark The Homesteaders 32 Buffalo Hide Painting 33 Kaytlin Workman So I Go Back 34 Joy M. Newcom When I Broke My Hand 35
Awards in Art & Photography
Rust 36 SunDogs 37 Soft Pastel - Night Sky 38 Once New is Now Old 39
Black & White Photography
Zabdiel Flores Carlos Girl in Chihuahua 40 Carlos Ruiz St. Louis Alley 41 Maggie Kretzmann Duluth 42 Erisha Menon Incline 43 MacKenzie Droessler Ring 44 Zabdiel Flores Carlos Train in Chihuahua 45 Elevated Train in Chicago 46 Erisha Menon Ripples of Nature 47
Awards in Prose 48 Isabelle Rothbauer Becoming the Lobster: 48 The Shells We Live In Myriah Hacker To Sleep Under Fire 57 Elizabeth Peters The Red Scarf 63 Brena Hamilton Spring 1779 67 Courtney Lewis The Not So Happy Birthday 75
Fiction Prose 81 Mandi Wright Diana Humble Cathleen Chittenden Bascom
Cigarette Manifesto Just Paying the Bills Of Green Stuff Woven
81 84 92
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Cassie Ruud MacKenzie Droessler Haley Mokelstad Ryan Fischer
Digital Art 100 Nick Heimerman Adventure Is Out There 100 Kenolson Collin Misjudged 101 Andrew May Foongus Amoung Us 102 Low Poly Pokemon Adventure 103
NonFiction Prose 104
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Barbara Johnson Scrabble — A Collage 104 of Memories Kaytlin Workman White Walls 108
Drawings and Paintings 109 Andrew May Barbara Johnson Brian Shariffi Ryan Fischer Haley Mokelstad
R2D2 Cruisin’ 109 Father 110 SuperMom 111 The Beauty in Death 112 Harvest 113
Featured Author 114 Jeremy Navarro Interview with John Price: 114 A Success Story in Creative Nonfiction
Crafts 126 Tina Somchit Baby Pink Earrings 126 and Bracelet Blue Letters 127 Julienne Friday Handcrafted Box 128
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Carlos Ruiz Cash Register 117 DeAnn Hanna Fall at Pilot Knob 118 Darien Walsh Italian Life 119 DeAnn Hanna Sphinx Moth 120 Erisha Menon Last Moments of a Butterfly 121 Cassie Ruud Landscape 122 Bark 123 Luke Zacharias Trees 124 Isabelle Rothbauer Thorpe Park 125
Requiem 1st Place Salveson Poetry Prize Myriah Hacker
I. I am afraid of my own answers—I am worried they will be finely ground glass, and I will inhale them with such nervous eagerness that they will enter my bloodstream through the soft flesh of my larynx, leaving only minute holes where they passed, all before I have the chance to bleed. I am afraid that I have had enough of this quiet. AWARDS IN POETRY
I pray I pass gently in my sleep, a timely dream, or be kissed awake as from a child’s nightmare. I can not spend another moment unable to breathe or rot. II. The man who says he is going to kill me is a romantic, caters to me, tells me he will dump me in the everglades after feeding my limp fingers to baby alligators. I’ve never seen Florida marshlands, but I imagine the air like a wet wool blanket—thick with insects and chafing reeds. Alone or not, dead or not, I accept this place as a tomb—my liver trapped in pondscum for the critters to snack on. Would he kill me? Do I want him to? Either way, my skin still sticks to the hood of his car as we wait together, watching theoretical frogs careen into muck, searching for my missing fingers in the green. Either way, I listen to cicadas with a man who means to kill me. In my mind, he says “good night,” pushing mussed bangs back from my sticky forehead.
I watch him split my body into bloated sections and submerge them in the water until they sink, just to bob up again a few feet away— A toe, a breast, a crooked elbow. An arm with no fingers. In real life I am silent and still, my algae covered skull just as hidden in the murky swamp as in my dreams III. I woke up today and remembered last night, let the minutes tick by as I mourned myself. Weariness greets me in the mirror, tugs at the bags under my eyes, makes teeth peel at onion skin lips until, with a rip, I taste iron. AWARDS IN POETRY
In my notes I write a eulogy: “When I have no more air in my lungs, visit my old bedroom and wonder what could have been, let me be beautiful and tragic, a love story that ends like Othello’s, let me be your pensive afterthought, a vague yearning you bury in an old drawer next to old keys and buttons just to take out again when you’re looking for yourself.” There is an end here, a crisp period tucked after the “f” as if a spot of ink the size of a pinhead will deepen my resolve. But the clock brings me back and I realize it is already tomorrow and I should be resting, should be returning to the heavy dread that is lying in the dark waiting for sleep and for someone to strike—perhaps the man from the swamp, perhaps an old friend I forgot to send birthday wishes to, perhaps even you. Or perhaps me.
“[This] was the most powerful, specific, bold and haunting [poem].” Judge: K.L. Cook, Associate Professor at Iowa State University, in Writing and the Environment MFA
Salem 2nd Place Salveson Poetry Prize Donnica Keeling Bubbles form on melting skin as it drips to the blistered tile. Dripping turns to sizzles and smoke begins to rise. The air around smells rotted, the hairs and blood skin and fat spilling upwards, AWARDS IN POETRY
blackness against a cheerful sky. Soon the homes are swallowed too, first the door, the roof, and more. As the hunger eats the home a single sound is heard. Above the cracking sounds of bones, something black begins to cry.
“A polished poem−smart and sharp and haunting.”
Judge: K.L. Cook, Associate Professor at Iowa State University, in Writing and the Environment MFA
Spaceships Honorable Mention Salveson Poetry Prize Mandi Wright I sit with flying bugs, smoking under the dim light they believe is the night sun, resembling the color of what the streetlamps emit. I wonder why I’m here at a person’s home, slowly becoming a stranger. Tired of waiting, AWARDS IN POETRY
I walk out into the yard of dew-speckled weeds and fireflies to admire night time’s silhouettes. Taking a peek above the dark shadows of branches and leaves. I spy a spacecraft blinking like the northern lights among spilt stardust. A sort of revelation takes over me as the ship slowly passes above. I conclude I am simply not from this planet. I’ll never belong here, so I reach my arms up high, holding a cigarette in my smile. Hoping to feel a beam strike and return me home.
Judge: K.L. Cook, Associate Professor at Iowa State University, in Writing and the Environment MFA
Self-Identity Theft Honorable Mention Salveson Poetry Prize Jonathan Happel
To the man who wears my face, It doesn’t look good on you. You’ve pulled it in all the wrong places. The forehead is wrinkled, the mouth is a slanted perpetual parenthesis, and it sags like you couldn’t be bothered to straighten it. To the man who speaks with my voice, AWARDS IN POETRY
you’re off-key and out of sync, singing the words to the song only I know. So you force-feed me butterflies, because it’s the only way to get me to shut up. Your lies, layered in lines of honey, drip slowly off my tongue. I don’t even like honey, but now there are butterflies trapped in the sweet glue, still fluttering in the amber. The wind of their wings whisks away my voice, and I let you in to hijack my brain, to play with my thoughts. My mind becomes an Atari running Pac-Man mesmerized by your ghosts chasing me through corridors. My mind is a computer that missed the system update. I’ve forgotten my password. I can’t remember the answer to my security question, when was the last time you felt alive? Now! When music plays my heart with bass beats and rushing strings.
Now! When scars write stories of their own. Now! The Answer is Now, and maybe I can’t douse the flames of the bridges you burned, but I sure as hell won’t let them become my pyre. I’ll see you again when each step sinks into quicksand, when God runs low on paint and colors the sky slate-gray, when, “I’m fine” are the only words I can say. I will make them the truth; I will make your eyes see my rise; I will make your frown my smile, and your face will AWARDS IN POETRY
Judge: K.L. Cook, Associate Professor at Iowa State University, in Writing and the Environment MFA
To the Moon 1st Place Top of Iowa HS Poetry Contest Xavier Patterson, St. Ansgar High School
To the moon, Through the stars, We will be right where we should be. The words she was taught, By her mother, At a very young age, And it was those words she carried with her
AWARDS IN POETRY
On her adventures with her partner-in-crime, Being the best astronauts in space all day longâ€” Well, that was until her parents called her in for dinner. But as they departed, she always repeated to him, To the moon, Through the stars, We will be right where we should be. As she grew into her teens, She learned more and more, Not only about her dream of space, But about her life, As she lay on a spread-out blanket, Watching the bright, radiating stars, Her partner-in-crime taking his hand in hers As they knew this time would come. As they watched the stars For hours more, She turned to him, And with loving eyes said, To the moon,
Through the stars, We will be right where we should be. With time, She started to make her dream a reality, Moving through college like a breeze Making her name known. But as her dream of space Started to become true, His dream was too, As he stood at the altar, Watching the love of his life, His partner-in-crime, Soon join him. AWARDS IN POETRY
After the rings of promise were given, She took his hands and said, With loving eyes, To the moon, Through the stars, We will be right where we should be. As she grew older, Her time grew shorter. Watching her dream flutter away With her only adventures being Watching the hospital TV And star-gazing out of the window As she was bound to her hospital bed. He knew there was No cure, Or answers, To what stripped her dream away, But every night, As he held her hand And sat intently at bedside,
She would always smile to him, And say faintly, To the moon, Through the stars, We will be right where we should be. It was evening, And the moon and stars, Shone brightly and purely, Reminding him Of all the adventures, Life-changing moments, And the way he was moved
AWARDS IN POETRY
By having her in his life. A small tear was shed, As he gently gripped the roses in his hands, Kneeling before the stone, Which had the name of The love of his life, His best friend, His partner-in-crime, Etched into it. And he set the bouquet Into its proper place, And stepped away, He looked up to the star-filled sky, And spoke the words, That changed his life forever, To the moon, Through the stars, We will be right where we should be.
Judged by the editorial staff of the Waldorf Literary Review.
Mouth Ryan Clark
Hellmouth is a version of the entrance to hell in which the gateway resides in the mouth of a large, monstrous creature. Hence: “jaws of hell”, but not hence: “glottis of hell”, even though the sound of a glottal stop is the sound I imagine must ring loudly once you enter and move down the throat, just millions of voices stuck in the still of uh oh. I ate doughnuts with every meal today. POETRY
The hole in the center of the doughnut, excluding all fritters and filled doughnuts, is a hellmouth entering the doughnut hell that is my own doughnut-encrusted mouth. There are three doughnuts left in the box but only two doughnuts have holes. The other doughnut is filled with cream that cannot save it.
Daiquiri Sam Morrison 1½ ounces of light rum ¾ ounces of fresh lime juice ¼ ounces of simple syrup 1. pour the lime juice and syrup into a cocktail shaker with ice cubes. 2. shake well. 3. strain into a chilled coupe glass. It was through Madmen that the idea of daiquiris became a nagging thought. The show probably didn’t mention it, but there’s enough smoking and drinking in the show to make anyone want to cave in POETRY
to their vices. Hemingway used to drink daiquiris at a little bar in Havana called, La Flordita. Supposedly his record was 16 of them in one sitting. His advice was to, “Write drunk, edit sober.” Whether you want to take that as: Write and don’t stop to check, or get plastered and write, son; there should be a nice end result. Poetry time is chill time. Channeling Hemingway’s spirit, I got out my martini shaker and tried the daiquiri. Its natural lime flavor, with a hint of my cousin’s basement, made Madmen step to a new level. But it sure took me a long damn time to write about it. Everyone should have daiquiris; tell me about the poems you’re writing—does this taste like dank basement to you?
I Have Caterpillars in my Stomach Frederik BĂ¸geskov Larsen
She wants them to grow into beautiful butterflies But they wonâ€™t change, not for her She says that I just need the right feed But they would rather grow themselves She keeps chasing my caterpillars But they are terrified of her She thinks it is time to break the cocoon POETRY
But my caterpillars need a flower to bloom
The scar tissue,
didnâ€™t seem real.
bumpy ceilings in the
I am not there, and
view of polished
yet my skin has
felt those cabinets,
pop, pop, popping like
kneeled beside those
in hopes of a better place.
bumping around corners,
Two more years, and I will have
distributing night sweats
shed not only my skin, but the
to beat icy enclosures.
resemblance left behind,
Ronny planted kindness
these silk railings, smooth
to watch it wilt.
as the fragile hearts that
Neighborhood watch only
bled onto radioactive hands,
watched out for their
releasing panic of the years
irrational fears, too scared to
Obliged to rest beneath
A shattered image of
brick-red, stony weights,
beloved county hopefuls,
that crush the human body as
you once did, taking each
surviving in the Waste Land,
victim as a prize, appealing to
persuaded by zippers that
your sweaty trophy case,
canâ€™t stay shut and
bumping fists in sick celebration,
baseball bats flying
staggered breaths formed out
past their prime.
of hollow chest cavities.
Freckled boys holding
Will I cry? Will I mourn
the loss of curly hair and
brown eyes in my vanity
first order of
Mama Gonzalez slaughters animals for survival while humans remain carnivorous creatures, the true predators. What they donâ€™t know wonâ€™t hurt the people in hiding.
I pack my boxes, each
boxed up emotions that never made it past the cracks.
I crawl out of the ruin. Few are so lucky.
A Lutheran at Mass on Fatherâ€™s Day David Rask Behling The sanctuary is cool, quiet, dark, soothing skin, ears, and eyes seared by summer heat, city noise, and unrelenting humidity. A stranger, he sits in the last pew on the right, when contrapuntal harmonies fill the air, spilling out from the organ above: Buxtehude! Buxtehude . . . an ancient voice reminding him of home and his son at the keyboard, spilling into the air notes of his own, filling the house with the voices of angels. Today in the cathedral,
pipes throb and beat against the air, finally echoing into a silence which flows around him. A single voice, unaccompanied, rises with Pax Vobiscum, words of welcome, words of peace to all the strangers seeking sanctuary in the pews. As the mass unfurls around him, he meditates, wanders among memories of children, growing up, moving out into the world: A daughter digging in dirt, tracing the life in the soil, the dark life that sustains those living in sunlight and air. A son in lab and at keyboard, tracing intricacies of neurons, proteins, harmonies. A daughter digging in dirt, tracing a story of America before Europeans covered ancient cities with modern subdivisions. Despite distances between them, fatherhood burns in his heart, a weight so heavy it weighs nothing, fills darkness with light,
carries him with joy back into the world outside.
Fear Carol Fischer I watch my little sister, burning in the fire. My grandmother put her there and said she was a liar. She always says she loves us; these things are for the best But our complete destruction seems to be her only quest. Now my sister’s in the furnace, screaming out in pain And I realize that my grandma has finally gone insane. My mother and my aunt are also in the room. We’re all screaming, “Let her out!” We must help her soon. Why won’t they help me get to her? Don’t they even care? POETRY
I need my mom to help me, but she’s just standing there. “She’s bad,” my grandma’s saying, “Now she has to pay! I’ll teach her a lesson! Maybe now she will obey!” I awaken from my dream, soaked with sweat and tears. I’ve had this dream so many times in the last several years. I lay there for a moment, shaking from the fear That haunts me even in my sleep; it never disappears. She always says she loves us; these things are for our good, But how can love be so cruel? I wish I understood. In spite of all we go through, we are very much alive. But our hearts are slowly dying. How can we survive? I lay there in the darkness, terrified to sleep. Fearful of tomorrow, I pray that God, my soul, will keep. I don’t think she really loves us; if this were for the best, Then why is she always nicer anytime we have a guest?
I put on my second layer.
Laying here in my
My skin is ripe and has
coat of vulnerability,
become a shell.
I feel the beetles
The fire of horrendous
creep between the folds.
Reflecting on the past,
stepping stones I walk on
reaching for all my
to avoid the grassy
mind will provide,
I strip away at this bulb I
call myself and rip into
in shapes of obscurity
my consciousness, catching
claim to feast on
Something is missing,
can one be?
in knowing I
A clichĂŠ of visuals,
donâ€™t need to
pounded into the soil
chase prior problems
to grow flowers
when I am one
that could likely
be described in a more beautiful way by others. Impulsive fingers curled under paper and pen, these various paradoxes. Lack of creativity lurks in notebooks and word documents.
Realizations Mandi Wright
My room is a replica of natural disaster. I no longer bother sorting my clothes. Iâ€™d wear the same shirt three times before wash. Pick it off the ground, examine for toothpaste and taco stains or other smells and wrinkles. POETRY
At worst, Iâ€™ll shrug. Rather wear a favorite again than look in the closet or buy something new. I get attached and I want to hold onto forever. Never can I get myself to get rid of the items I no longer wear. It seems to be a common flaw: Letting go.
Ever Changing Keisha Hendry
Our hills Darling
We be ever changing hilltops where teens sit and watch the stars. Can be dug up, leveled. Reduced to a flat surface. We become
A Touch Nikki DeWitt His lips pressed to mine. I could feel his hands on me. And then I woke up.
Could you imagine?
I wake up every morning tired, and I can’t understand why. I’m in zombie mode while life passes me by. I am in search of the things money cannot buy. Then your love finds another love which causes the soul to cry. I sometimes ask myself, what is my mentality? Because I love the fantasy world, because it hurts to live in reality. I am supposed to live life to the fullest, instead I live in agony. So I imagine someone next to me when I sleep, knowing it’s a fantasy. Every snowflake I see represents someone to me. Yet every snowflake is different, which one is she? When they hit they are all the same to me. Especially in the darkness, when it’s very hard to see.
Why I Can’t Move On Jon Happel
A black hole is a dent in space-time, a gravity drain that sucks away everything that comes close. A black hole is… Was A star. A star that got tired of illuminating nothing but dark space, a sun that was sick of hearing its planets say how much they wanted a daughter, and its anger was cold, copper red
just enough heat to warm everything but itself. You were my star. You were my star that went supernova because I got too close, because I wanted to run my hands through your flames, thinking I wouldn’t get burned, but you are hot, and I mistook your warm love for fiery passion, your no for yes, because no one can hear you in space, or when you say anything they don’t want to hear. My heart was blasted past the stares of every constellation. Orion shook his head, Gemini glared with the weight of twin mountains, Virgo was not impressed. I made a mistake, watching your hands weave air into galaxies, thinking it was my own personal light show, and now, when I sleep in our bed, night is the only friend I know. Light travels 186,000 miles per second, but it doesn’t
matter how fast you can go if youâ€™re not bright enough to stay away from the shadows, and I never could leave yours. Your absence is a void that drags me into orbit, which is just a fancy way of saying that I fell for you, And never stopped.
Dancing in a Dusty Room MacKenzie Droessler Laughter filled the dusty room POETRY
as we exchanged glances and giggles, two siblings joyously jumping around. Trying to be as quiet as we could, we threw the baby powder into the air, dancing under the fresh, white dust. The powder fell softly onto our bodies, seeped into the cracks of the room. We were as white as the clouds in the sky. Once we noticed the door was open, we noticed our mother peeking into the room. Her hands on her hips with a tiny grin. Laughter filled the dusty room, as we exchanged glances and giggles. Three of us joyously jumping around.
The Old Beggar-Woman Donnica Keeling She came in but stood too near the fire, so that her old rags began to burn, and she was not aware of it. The boy stood and saw that, but he ought to have put the flames out. Is it not true that he ought to put them out? â€“ The Brothers Grimm I stood there shaking, asking no more than for the warmth that you were surely soaking in. You opened the door and kindly let me in. POETRY
I asked no food, nor water from your table, for all I desired was fire. I stood there, hands stretched to it, paying no attention to how close, for the heat wrapped around me, drawing out the ache deep in my bones. You sat at the small wooden table a pace or two away, watching me as I closed my eyes, old wrinkled hands extended, reaching closer to the flames, forgetting my ragged dress as fire licked it. Yet as I stood there you said nothing, did nothing as the fire slowly spread over me. Smoke filled the small cabin.
You sat, watching, water beside you, inside you, and yet as you so kindly offered me heat, not an ounce of water was offered, as fire slowly spread.
Shoes Mandi Wright
The sole of my left shoe finally gives out on the path of fallen twigs and leaves. My sore soul needed some repairing, POETRY
so I decide to take a leave. The raw skin of my blistered feet ache more and more as I wander through the forest in these poor, worn shoes. The only way to escape the mind is to walk away all the thoughts. I contemplate plucking the lush, green grass from the dark and rich earth to stuff in my dingy Adidas, so my bare feet can find relief. I refrain though, cause why should I hurt something else so I no longer have to?
It’s Relative Joy Newcom It doesn’t matter we’re related. My future weighs heavy. I buckle and strain. Pressures in my present hurt. I breathe your inflated pain. You do not know. You do not want to know. You cannot understand. POETRY
I am older now than you were then back when this hell began. You listen and focus eyes on me yet lack an ability to see. Your DNA means nothing now. Tiny petals inside my sea. Decades later, this remains: Your restless nights. My restless days. Unspoken words hang mid-air. Our tears.
Further Apart Keisha Hendry We do not share the same skin color, but we share the same stubborn blood. It’s hard to tell just by looking at us, that we’re even related at all. So judgey, other people are when they see us POETRY
together. As if it’s impossible for you to have given birth to me. You’re adopted right? They say this, not knowing how much it kills me. I don’t feel connected to you, because I am unlike you mother.
It’s What She’d Want Austin Lich A fork in the road is cliché, yet I have come across one just now. How odd I find this. What to do. What to do? It’s not like this is life or death. I have a choice to make here. POETRY
To create in myself someone Mom would be proud of. “A real spine-tingler ,”she’d say. This choice could change my life. Do I become one thing, or go another way? The fork still remains. I look down and the road is dark, but I can see the shine. I squat silently, perched and ready, and with one fell swoop I grab the fork and stick it in my pocket along with the other treasures I found along the road.
It’s what she’d want, anyway.
A List of Things I Will Miss Juno Mulherin I’m sitting in the front seat of my car, keys in the cup holder, the word “Iowa” is like cold coffee in my mouth. I want to spit it out, but then why did I take the drink in the first place? I can find my way back if I need to but once I go, there won’t be enough lipstick in the world if I taped it, open lidded, to the bumper of my van to draw a line out behind me. Hot red bread crumbs, baby. I would just…lose it POETRY
but I’ve already started to lose it. I lost it all last week. Smoked my very first last three Brazilian cigarettes and bought another pack of camel shorts for the ride. I need to lie down, but I’ll get ash in my eyes. Hey, God, do I have ash in my eyes? You didn’t answer so I’ll take that as a no. Hey God, you there? It’s me, Juno. (Ha. I had to.) Hey God, do you even give a shit? You didn’t answer. You never answer. You never answer. I pick the keys up. I turn the car on. Where the fuck am I going?
June 10, 1912 Hattie Hupke “the dresser mirror had been covered” the knowledge of doing something terrible is different than seeing yourself do it not willing to see the malice, the cruelty of your actions or concealing the transformation of yourself “it was estimated that they were hit 20 to 30 times”
it wasn’t enough death wasn’t enough rage and ire or precision, just to be careful to make sure “someone’s arm dangled from beneath the covers” reaching out seeking the cool breeze from beneath sticky sheets reaching out to never be drawn back in the warmth to never be sought out lifeless in the cold “a kerosene lamp with the chimney removed had been placed at the foot of the bed” dark moonlight kept faces obscured
so light was brought a means to see the peaceful take their innocence take their faces leave them unrecognizable to relish
with no compunction
AWARDS IN PHOTOGRAPHY
“‘Emotions’ is a wonderful title to this print because of the evocative emotions that are present in this balanced composition. The dramatic lighting only enhances the emotive and pleasant nature of the subject.” Judge: Phil Scorza, Chair of Art and Design Department, Northwestern College
AWARDS IN PHOTOGRAPHY
1st Place Salveson Photography Erisha (Lea) Menon
Old School House
AWARDS IN PHOTOGRAPHY
2nd Place Salveson Photography Kenzie Droessler
â€œThe textural quality of the image instantly drew me in to explore further. The tone-on-tone nature of this photo and the subtle coloration is part of the power and beauty of the setting. Serene.â€? Judge: Phil Scorza, Chair of Art and Design Department, Northwestern College
“Holi Hai”. Forest City, Iowa
AWARDS IN PHOTOGRAPHY
Honorable Mention Salveson Photography Guzel Tuhbatullina
“The photographer captured something that happens in less than a second–and compositionally perfect. With the emotion, drama and wetness, it feels as though I am actually participating in the battle. It is always captivating when an image includes a visual narrative such as thins, because it draws the viewer in and allows them to be part of the storyline.” Judge: Phil Scorza, Chair of Art and Design Department, Northwestern College
Two Paths, Two Skies
Tundra/Desert 1st Place Salveson Prose (Fiction) Mandi Wright
Dissociation is staring out of the window on a car ride across the Midwest. The blending colors of the shriveled, winter grain and the dirty snow moving just enough that I can see the crystal clear frame for a second. The pale blue skies with hints of yellow add some appeasing tones as the sun blotches the view of the dirty windowpane. I see the images of my thoughts come to life amongst the landscape zooming before my eyes. The Midwest is a tundra and a AWARDS IN PROSE: FICTION
desert in the winter. “Hey, could you turn that down a little?” The voice inside my head wants to scream at him, but instead I silently watch the moving landscape to my right. I have always been this silent during car rides. It makes me feel uncomfortable, thinking the ones around me are as well. Sometimes, I just don’t have anything to say. The harsh sounding music Carter is playing makes the thoughts in my head even harsher. I don’t even get what the lyrics are talking about. All I hear is drunk screaming and over-done guitar riffs. I suppose it’s not much better than the music I listen to, but I would disagree if I had a couple drinks in me. I look over to him. The color of his pale hair and darkened skin match the tundra/desert outside. So cold, so bare and boring. Yet somehow, I can never get myself to leave this place. I begin to raise my left hand to turn the volume down a smidge. Three straight hours of it gets to be compulsive. The anxious thoughts of him belittling me or getting angry with me stops the hand in midair. I look over to him. Nothing. His fixed, glossy eyes are glued to the front windshield as if he’s been frozen in moving time. That’s how it
feels to be stuck in a silent car for three hours. “Maybe he’d wish for you to talk,” I say to myself, trying to be reassuring, but the mean voice says otherwise. I stare at the grey pavement sliding under us, yellow lines snaking along the pavement like a dripping trail of paint. He still hasn’t noticed my arm hanging in the metal airwaves of the vehicle. I don’t think I’m what’s on his mind. There’s no point for us to be going where we are heading. I should be ok. I have been ok for a while. Sometimes, people slip up. The puddles of rain shouldn’t stop me in my path to sunshine. I try to look at the glowing sun, but right now the foggy clouds are shielding its ray from me. I look at the moving telephone poles, wishing I didn’t break. replays now when I look out the windows is Carter holding out the truth in front of me. He saw me do it. I didn’t mean to do it. And now all I get from re-digging the past is a silent ride to rehab a state away, forced there by my lover. “You’ll be ok,” a voice out loud says. Carter’s voice, as if he’s been listening to my thoughts this whole time. “I have been ok,” I state bluntly before resuming my window
AWARDS IN PROSE: FICTION
The thoughts of going back to the demons haunt me. All that
gazing. “I can’t help you, but they can,” the bluntness thrown right back to me. The heat of my anger kindles the fire for my words to leave my mouth, “Actually, no one can help me but myself. I slipped up. One time. You found the evidence. You didn’t even give me a chance to help myself.” I look at Carter, his eyes still staring at the road, lips twitching ever so slightly, as if he wants to say something but knows it cannot help. The fire gets hotter inside, “And it wouldn’t hurt if you asked if I was ok from time to time,” I add. Something lights up in his eyes now. He licks his lips and turns
down the music—finally, thank God. His hands grip the tan steering wheel before he speaks, “This isn’t about that.” The fire now has engulfed my diaphragm, lava spitting out of my mouth as I release my anger, “Then what is it? Any time there’s ever a problem, you get rid of it. You never want to deal with things either, you coward.”
Why do you have to take me to that God-awful place?
His grip tenses, I imagine he’s thinking that’s my throat right now, AWARDS IN PROSE: FICTION
“If you’d allow me to explain, you still wouldn’t get it.”
“That’s it,” I turn the music off. “Pull over, I want to walk home.” “Fern, you’re being crazy right now,” he says softly. The anger still edges in-between his breaths, but at this point the voice in my head has taken over: “You’re such a jerk! Maybe I do need help but you never notice. Or at least you don’t put the effort in yourself to do something. You just sit quietly and watch my downfall. Then when I do mess up, you drop me off to be someone else’s problem.” The anger now has turned into sadness. Hot tears from the bubbling volcano I identify as my body bleed down my face. “I don’t want to be a problem,” I add, “Can we please go back?” I look at Carter. The tears blur my vision, but I still see him. He’s the only one that could ever help. He’s the only one I want to help me. “No.” Not missing a beat, I slam my head into the dashboard, not caring about the immediate pain afterward. I scream at the top of my lungs, the voice taking over my vocal cords, “Let me out! Let me out! Turn this damned car around or I’m going to jump out!” Carter still isn’t phased. The voice wants to go all out, as if I was using again. “There’s no need for me to go there just after one time! Why,
Carter? Why do you have to take me to that God-awful place? Do you hate me? You can really get rid of me like that?” Still nothing, so the impulse from my brain to my hands makes its way to grab ahold of the steering wheel. Next thing I hear is Carter screaming and the piercing screech of the tires grinding against the asphalt. The colors of the tundra/desert swirl around us as if we’ve been sucked into an eternal winter twister. The car slides down into the landscape, tearing up the black snow. I try to count how many times we spin in full circles as we go into the ditch, but that doesn’t seem to be important right now. I look to Carter, his face as firey and red as the words I didn’t even understand until now. His tightened lips turns into a wicked grimace, “That’s why!”
AWARDS IN PROSE: FICTION
almost as if he’s happy this happened.
“‘Tundra/Desert’ is a tightly confined, emotionally urgent story, the stakes high, the language sharp, the narrative carrying symbolic weight.” Judge: K.L. Cook, Associate Professor at Iowa State University, in Writing and the Environment MFA
The New Scarlet Letter 2nd Place Salveson Prose (Fiction) Diana Humble
Pine Haven Christian Assembly is an objectively beautiful place. The camp is nestled along Long Lake at the tip of Minnesota. The water teems with fish that shimmer like opals in the sunlight, raised specially for campers to catch and cook over roaring campfires. The cabins surrounding the camp are nice enough—wooden and laden with vibrant, olive hued moss—each one named after a notable biblical character. They remind me of the cabins you’d see in a crappy 1970s summer camp AWARDS IN PROSE: FICTION
movie. Thick northern evergreens engulf the camp for miles, barricading us from the poisons of the outside world. At Pine Haven campers aren’t allowed to have any phones, tablets, TVs, or computers. It’s supposed to be a time for us to reconnect with God. The camp’s only news outlet is a daily issue of the Star Tribune that gets delivered to the counselor’s lounge. Completely peaceful…almost. Unease settles around me like smog as I drift through the camp. I feel watched. Every word I say, every scripture I quote, every face my eyes trace is under scrutiny. It isn’t because I’m some sort of social pariah, but because I feel closest to God when I’m here. I prefer to keep Him at arm’s length; I don’t want God to see the sin that’s poisoned my heart. “There are a lot of strange things happening in the world around us today, kids.” Justin, our pastor, says, pacing up and down the room. I nod vigorously, along with the 40 other devout Christian teens in the room. I’ve always put all my faith in Him, but sometimes it’s difficult to believe that His well laid plans can go so far astray. “For example,” Justin continues, “Yesterday, the Supreme Court passed a gay rights amendment allowing couples of the same sex to marry nationwide. And in its honor, Burger King released a commemorative ‘Pride Burger.’”
Gasps and grumbles interspace among the sea of students. Whispers laced with venom lick around me as a boulder forms in my throat—my dirty little secret bubbling to the surface.
‘Why is love such a bad thing?’ a girl says, cutting through the chatter around us. “Why do the faggots need a burger? There’s nothing to be prideful
of,” my friend Alicia exclaims to the table around us. The others nod as the bolder ones mix up their own cocktails of slurs and insults.
I force a smile before awkwardly interjecting, “Everyone’s gotta eat, Alicia.” AWARDS IN PROSE: FICTION
She rolls her eyes, “Fair point Haley, but I don’t want them eating the same food as me.” My face burns scarlet as I remember how we shared lunch together today. She’s completely oblivious to my affliction, but might as well brand me with an L. For lesbian. I’ve known what I am for a while now, and I’ve known how I feel about Alicia for even longer, but that doesn’t make it any less sinful. Alicia nudges me smirking, gesturing to my flushed face, “That upset, huh?” I nod, trying to keep my eyes from landing on her walnut brown ones. “Yeah, but I’ll be fine. My stomach is just a little messed-up from lunch.” Alicia nods sympathetically. My hands curl into white-knuckled fists as she wraps her arm around me in sympathy, kneading small circles into my back. “I understand, thinking about them makes me sick too.” “Why is love such a bad thing?” a girl says, cutting through the chatter around us. The hall is silent as the teens around me practically seethe with deadly rage, fangs extended, ready to pounce.
Jason turns to face the girl, doing his best to keep the crowd at bay but unwilling to back down, “Leviticus. Thou shall not lie with a man as one lies with a female; it is an abomination.” “Jesus. Blessed are the merciful for they shall obtain mercy.” she retorts, primed and ready. Alicia’s hand falls from my back as the Biblical showdown continues. Jason’s eyes narrow, obviously not anticipating a challenge. “Genesis. The outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is so great and their sin so grievous.” “Jesus. He, who is without sin among you, let him cast the first stone.” “Deuteronomy. A woman shall not wear a man’s garment, nor shall a AWARDS IN PROSE: FICTION
man put on a woman’s cloak, for whoever does these things is an abomination to the Lord—.” “Galatians. The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law,” she finishes. Eyes hopefully flickering around the room, searching for sympathizers, “There’s no law against love.” Another thick silence settles over the room. It looms for a heartbeat, capturing a watershed moment within my soul as tears fill my eyes, until it’s broken.
There’s no law against love.
The room has fallen to chaos, and Justin is powerless to stop it. Fear has overtaken the masses, causing them to lash out. “Fag lover!” A boy hurls across the room, leading the barrage of insults. The girl is taken aback, shocked. My face is drizzled with tears as a sad smile drifts across my features, this must be her first time at Pine Haven.
I feel bad for her—I really do—but I can’t contain my relief. I laugh, a grin slicing me ear to ear. I’ve prayed for years, begging God to change me. Begging him to let me feel even an ounce of attraction toward the boy that took me to homecoming, instead of towards my best friend. I’ve yearned to grow out of this phase. I’ve prayed and begged, and sobbed, and howled, and wailed for change, but all along I should’ve been praying for acceptance. Not the acceptance of others, but my own. I’ve prayed for God to come back to me—to let his favor shine upon me once again—but he’s been guiding me this entire time. I can feel the lump in my throat dissolving as I wheeze, “He never left me.” I keep repeating it like a chant between each sharp breath and sob, burying my face in my hands to hide my smile. or changing entirely, “Shhh, you’re okay Haley.” She pulls me into an embrace, my head falling into the hollow of her neck as one of her hands rubs soothing circles into my hair. She thinks the gay threat against marriage’s sanctity has reduced me to shambles, but I just let her hold me, relishing her touch. “He never left me.” I gasp, “He never left me.” “That’s right Haley. God will never leave you.”
AWARDS IN PROSE: FICTION
“Burn in hell dyke!” Alicia screams before noticing me, demean-
“‘‘The New Scarlet Letter’ eloquently and emotionally depicts the pain and moral complexity of feeling like a pariah within a church community because of one’s identity.” Judge: K.L. Cook, Associate Professor at Iowa State University, in Writing and the Environment MFA
Diamonds and Rust Honorable Mention Salveson Prose (Fiction) Hattie Hupke
The ring sparkles under the cheap fluorescent light in the shack size gas station. My thumb reaches behind the ring to fidget it back and forth, causing the light to dance in the middle of the diamond. Such a pretty thing, quite a waste. “Excuse me,” a man says from behind me, impatient. I mumble a sorry and back out of the way, taking my focus back to the snacks in front of me. Cheetos, Funions, or Doritos? I go with Gardettos and pair that AWARDS IN PROSE: FICTION
with a cheap bottle of vodka. I drive home in silence, the same scenery blending in front of me. I pull into the gated driveway and Wes, our security guard, lets me in with a nod. Wes doesn’t say much and that’s why I like him. He has seen and heard many things, but he never says anything. My house is lit up as always, even on the inside. If I drove by as an unknowing person, I would think this house instills happiness. I ponder humorously at that idea as I park. The house is quiet as always, contradicting the lights that are always on. I walk to the living room, my own personal ad from a home magazine. The oversized white ‘L’ shaped couch with the glass coffee table on top of a long, hairy white rug that stretches to the fireplace. I can count on two hands the amount of times I’ve sat on that couch. I purposefully walk to it, set my things on the glass table, and plop down. It makes a very unsatisfying leather sound. I frown. I lean back with the bottle of vodka and drink long and hard. The alcohol sizzles deep in my chest, burning away the perfection of the room in front of me. I look at the sad attempt of the Christmas tree, the only real dark thing in the house besides me. I admire it. “Rose!” I shout, still fixated on the tree. “Yes, Mrs. Stark?” Rose rushes in. I point with the bottle, “The tree. It’s sad. Don’t you think?” Rose
hesitates as I look to her. She is such a sweet woman, her wrinkles a map to her past smiles. She smiles now, but it doesn’t meet her eyes. I wonder then if she hates me. Does any maid actually enjoy being a maid? “I would agree that it is a little scarce.” She pauses. “You did say you wanted to decorate it yourself.” I take another swig as I reminisce pulling out old boxes of ornaments drunkenly one night. I stand up promptly, my face stiff. As I stand, a glistening comes from a box by tree. Curious, I take a step closer, seeing the beautiful opal coloring. I stare too long as I ruminate on my mom giving it to me right after I had moved in with Sam during Christmastime, her crinkled eyes as she smiled giving it to me. Guilt hits my gut as I clear my throat, pushing the thought away. “Decorate the tree and then you can leave; take the night off.” I able amount. I climb our ridiculously long stairs, forcing my eyes away from the door kitty-corner from ours. I wish I could make that room and every painful memory within it disappear. I shut my bedroom quickly, greeted with more silence. It levels me as I head for the bathroom. Pale everything stares back at me. I smile, but it feels so unfamiliar that it fades quickly. I try and find some feeling from within myself but nothing comes. I wonder if the tiny people in my brain deserted me too. Gave up on helping me think. The thought amuses me as I start a warm bath.
AWARDS IN PROSE: FICTION
shuffle by her and open my bag of Gardettos, lifting it to get an unreason-
The water fills gloriously, steam laying on the water. I reach for my favorite candle and light it. The scent hits me immediately, my stomach clenching. The last time I lit this candle was two weeks ago. Well, I didn’t light it. He did. Before I can let myself change my mind, I reach for my phone and find him in my contacts. “Come over. In bath,” I type. I press send and set my phone down. I take off my ring and set it on the ledge beside the tub. I climb in, the water burning my skin. I welcome the feeling, my forehead relaxing as my skin stings; the lavender scent healing. My eyes flutter open, my toes feeling the cool of the air outside the water. I’m not sure how much time has passed. I pull myself up and that’s when I notice him. “Jesus Christ, Frank,” I gasp. As my heart rate comes back down to
normal, I wipe my eyes and look at him. My stomach clenches once again as his eyes wrap around me like silk. “I didn’t think you’d come.” “Why wouldn’t I?” he retorts, walking closer to me. He stares, his eyes looking at every inch of me beneath the water. I let him. I take notice of my heart rate rising again and force myself to breathe. “I’m sorry. About our fight… I’ve been busy,” I trail, knowing he won’t buy it. “Or your husband was back in town.” He turns away from me, fondling the jewelry I never wear that hangs from the door. “Where is he this time? Ohio? New York? I’m really not sure what job he attends to more, fucking other women or actually defending someone for a case.” His words don’t bother me as I gaze at the water in front of me. AWARDS IN PROSE: FICTION
A year ago, after only being married to my successful defense attorney of a husband for a few months, I came home from work after being sick with the flu to a bright, obnoxious Porsche in my driveway. It was funny, I had thought he had bought me a new car. As I climbed the stairs, the sounds coming from behind our bedroom door were enough for me to sit on the top step and study the hideous painting on our wall and listen. Voices got closer to the door behind me and I stood up. The door opened and only a woman came out. She closed the door with a smile on her face, which disappeared as soon as she saw me standing in front of her. Her eyes darted to the door behind her, unsure of what to do. “Stop. Just go,” I whispered. She didn’t move. Tall legs, plump breasts and a soft, darling face to match… she was beautiful. I wished to feel anger at that moment, but I didn’t. Raising my eyebrows at her, I stepped aside and put my back to the wall. She took a few hesitant steps then quickly walked by me, her perfume surrounding around me. She abruptly stopped after only a few steps and stared at her hands. She quickly turned and reached out her hand so far that her arm might detach from her body. In her hand was a ring. Bewildered, I looked down at my own hand and remembered I had accidently left my ring there that morning. She had been wearing my ring. The ring this pathetic excuse of a man gave his vows with. I grabbed the ring as she muttered something, disappearing before a coherent
thought could form in my head. I put the ring on the ground and walked to my car to drive anywhere. ‘He made me wear it’ echoes around me as I’m brought back to the present. Frank is sitting next to the tub now, studying my face. I meet his kind eyes, wondering what he is thinking. He reaches for my face and cradles it in his hand. I want to pull away, to make him leave. I know I don’t care for him as he does me. I see what I see in his eyes and all I can think about is how much he should care for someone else. There’s no point in giving effort for that, or anything like that. I don’t think I have any care left in me. As if to mock me, my chest sinks in, barren and hollowed out. I try to pull my face away but he gently tightens his fingers, making my eyes meet his again. “You deserve a different path, Arya,” he
* * * I jolt awake, my chest rising and falling rapidly. I breathe deeply, remembering last night’s events between me and Frank after my bath. I peek my eyes over to the opposite side of the bed to see if Frank is still here. He’s not. Relieved, I bring my knees to my chest and lay on my side. My eyes fixate on a picture frame of me and my husband, surrounded by empty vodka bottles and lipstick stained glasses. I hate that I don’t feel anything. I just want to feel. But, there’s
AWARDS IN PROSE: FICTION
whispers, his voice surrounding me as the water turns suddenly cold.
nothing. I can’t even feel frustrated for not feeling anything. I don’t feel anything for Frank either. When he leaves or comes, I can’t find any place for him with me. A sigh comes from deep within my chest and then the room is silent again. I briefly wonder what time it is but then realize I don’t really care. There is the quietest knock on my door that I’m not even sure I heard it. “I’m positive she is still asleep Mrs. Reyes, there’s no need to—” “Get the hell out of my way, woman,” a voice, confident with southern twang snaps back at Rose. I recognize it the second I hear it. My mother. I am just able to get my robe wrapped around me and tied before she busts through the door. “Arya Eliza Reyes, you have some damn nerve.” Her eyebrows furrow as she folds her arms across her
chest. I study her face, her wrinkles more evident but her sharp green eyes still the same and as angry as ever. “I’ve seen that man with you a couple times now and I know I did not raise you to be a cheating woman. That was the last straw for me, Arya. We need to have a talk,” she speaks so fast I don’t hear most except that she has seen me with Frank. I can’t even be angry with her for spying on me. Either that or I just can’t feel anger in general. “You couldn’t have called?” I say without thinking, the stupidity of my question making her eyes go wide. She moves quickly and before I can even react, thwack, her hand nails me right on the head. “Mama, what the hell?” I turn in on myself and sit on the edge of the bed. “Couldn’t have called? You haven’t talked to your old mother for 3 AWARDS IN PROSE: FICTION
months. Avoiding my calls, always “asleep” or “busy”. You don’t look that busy to me. You are going to get dressed and come to eat with your mother. We are going to go for a walk and talk and you don’t have a choice. You got 15 minutes to be AIS, that’s ass in seat, if you don’t remember.” She turns and stops when she sees the cluttered nightstand. She turns to me, putting up her finger and swallowing back the things she wants to say. “Fifteen. Minutes,” she breaths, and I swear I see an evil cloud of anger surrounding her. She slams the door and leaves me in complete silence once again.
I can’t even be angry with her for spying on me.
I stand up and go to my closet, fingering through the designer shirts and shoes. I pick out the same yoga pants and big sweatshirt I wore last
week. I run a brush through my hair and pluck the few eyebrow hairs that are astray before deciding that’s good enough for me. I try and make my teeth show in a smile but the smile doesn’t reach my eyes, so I give that up too. I notice my ring still beside the bathtub and I slip it on, its sheen mocking me.
The ride to town is silent, my mom’s anger still subsiding. We sit down at a small café, her eyes just boring into my soul. I stare at my coffee as I stir it, the tan color spinning faster and faster into a hole of nothing. “So. How is Sam? Or should I ask about the new guy that you’ve been spending time with?” The spoon keeps spinning even after I have let go and I feel as though I’m spinning along with it, going down and down. “Sam is fine, Mama.” I ignore the part about Frank because she really doesn’t need to know about the guy that loves me for who I am and I really only love him for the way he makes me feel… in bed. “Where is he.” She says this question as a statement because she already knows that I don’t have a clue where he’s at. A chill climbs up my my legs. “He’s real busy.” I clear my throat, hoping to change the subject. “How is Harvey?” That works for now because she goes into a story about their recent vacation with my aunt and her husband and their kids in Florida. I find my eyes drifting behind her and something bright catches my eye. A yellow bow on the head of a smooth-skinned, tiny baby whose fingers are moving back and forth, wanting to grab anything and everything. The
AWARDS IN PROSE: FICTION
arms and I pull my sleeves over my hands, tucking them in between
mother leans down and kisses the baby on the nose, who smiles a toothless smile in return. The baby’s eyes squint as her head twitches back and forth. “Arya.” My mother squeezes one of my hands that are now palm down on the table. “Arya, you’re sweating, are you alright?” I push my hair out of my face, leaning back in my chair, my shirt sticking to my back. “Let’s just go.” She leaves a ten on the table and we walk across the street to the park. I keep my head down as the cool breeze hits my face. Women running for fun makes me grimace. “Arya, when are you going to talk to me? I am your mother,” her voice breaks. She grabs my left hand and stares at my ring as we walk.
She throws my hand down and puts her hand on her hip. “This damn hip.” We find a bench and sit down. I was going to say something but the words seem to have left me now. Thoughts and thoughts cloud my head, but they just make it hurt, the little people in my head putting their own heads down, done for the day. “Arya, do not make me smack you again. It’s been almost a year since you’ve really talked to me or anyone for that matter. I know you’re not happy, honey.” What does that matter? The question is the one thing that rings through my head.
AWARDS IN PROSE: FICTION
I grit my teeth so hard I feel as though they might break. “Mama, I’m fine. Really.” I attempt to smile but it just makes my
head ache even more.
“No, you’re not. You’re sad and you won’t say it. My baby is sad and I can’t take seeing you sad anymore. This has been going on for a year. Is this how want to feel for the rest of your life? Is this how you want me to worry?” She pauses. “Does he hurt you? If he lays a hand on you—” “Mother. No. I’m just—I’m just trying to figure myself out right now.” I take her hand and squeeze it, hoping that’s enough to satisfy her. My heart aches but it’s too familiar for it to make me feel anything. I don’t want to make my mama sad, I know that. I just can’t even explain to myself the emptiness I feel. I just am going through the day and I’m okay. I look at her face, her mouth turned into a sad frown and confusion across her face. A small part of me longs to tell her, to seek her comfort and love. A stab pierces my chest and I wipe my nose, pushing that feeling away. “Let’s just go, Mama,” I stand, willing her to follow. I know she doesn’t want to yell at me but I also know she wants to pry at me. She looks at me and puts her hands on her knees, pushing herself up. We get in her car and I lean against the window, the cool glass relaxing my forehead. I close my eyes, the darkness settling in. My mom hasn’t started the car yet. I turn my head and she has her face in her hands, her shoulders
shaking with tears. “Mama,” I start, trying to coax her. I reach for her but her head snaps up and she pushes my hand away. I intertwine my fingers as I prepare for her to unload on me. “How can I help you if you won’t let me in? If you won’t talk to me! I try and think about if I did something wrong, if I pushed you away after you met Sam. Was I not there for you when I met Harvey?” She turns towards me. “I have never given you a reason to not trust me. I don’t deserve this, Arya, I am really trying here. I don’t want to talk for you but I know that Sam doesn’t treat you right.” I put my head in my hands, willing her to stop. She doesn’t. “He is never there. Your house looks like it’s for sale every time I walk in. You are drinking non-stop and you do nothing every single day. Have you even tried to get a new job? I don’t about that.” She is back in tears now. My hands start sweating as tears well in my eyes. I breathe deeply. “This is not who you are Arya! This is not! You were supposed to get married HAPPILY and have kids, starting your life. You’re getting older Arya and I want a grandbaby. Being a mother—” “You had a grandchild,” I whisper as I study every detail of her glovebox. I grit my teeth so hard I feel as though they might break. My little people in my head are trapped like me and they panic. My head pulses
AWARDS IN PROSE: FICTION
even know what happened to your old one, you wouldn’t even talk to me
like water cracking open a dam. “Wha, what?” My mom whispers back to me. “I lost her. A year ago.” I pray to every power there ever was that she doesn’t say another word, that I can tuck this away and put duct tape over the cracks. My knuckles are white I’m gripping them so hard. I hear the car start and exhaustion comes over me, my shoulders releasing as I turn my eyes to the window. I watch the trees go by, blending into a messy, green blob. My mom doesn’t speak a word. We park and she leads me into the house, up the stairs, and in my bed. My body aches, my mind shutting down. Although it’s afternoon, it feels like it’s beyond late. It’s too much to keep in. She pulls the covers up and around me and I feel such a
warmth that I haven’t felt in so long. I feel like a child again as she kisses me on the forehead. I barely see her walk out my bedroom door before I fall asleep.
* * *
A cold sensation on my face brings me to consciousness. I jump as I open my eyes to my mother in my face. “Get up. Let’s go.” I start to protest but she pulls my hand, dragging me out of bed. I know it’s late, the moon shining in my window. She pushes me down the stairs and doesn’t say anything to my grumbles. My eyes still squinting, she keeps going to the backdoor, reaching for something and grabbing it on the way. She opens the door, the cold air slapping me in the face, taking my breath away. We get to the middle of the AWARDS IN PROSE: FICTION
backyard before I can turn and face her. “Mama, what is this!” I face her and look at the things in her hand. A shovel, a journal, and a pen. She puts the shovel down and heaves the journal at me, placing the pen in my hand. I look at her, bewildered. “Write her name.” She has tears in her eyes, but her voice is stern. “Write her name, her full name, Arya.” I stare at the journal, sweat beads tickling my back. My heart wrenches and the water is pushing, the duct tape ripping, the water bursting through. I can’t speak, my hand still frozen from when the pen was put in it. I fall to my knees. “Write it, Arya!” She is crying now. She snatches the journal and opens to a blank page, throwing it in front of me. “Write it!” she screams, her voice vibrating throughout my whole body. I look at the paper and see my baby’s face, her pink chubby cheeks and red lips, lifeless in my arms. I start writing. I finish her name and rip the paper out. My face is burning as I lift the paper to my mom, who takes it, and hands me the shovel. “Dig,” she commands. And I dig. I drive the garden shovel into the ground and my heart breaks a little. I lift it up again and stab harder, deeper, getting up more dirt. My chest bursts and I’m sobbing. The water flows past my broken gates, the duct tape disappearing beneath the water. I am digging and digging, my strength releasing with every stab, my sobs echoing throughout the fence around me. Dirt flies in my face and covers my
clothes. My vision is just a blur and snot runs down my mouth but my arms keep swinging. My mother’s hand touches my shoulder and I let the shovel drop slowly and put my head to ground, the tears swallowing me whole. My mother quickly reaches over me and folds the paper, putting it in the hole. She reaches for my left hand and starts to grab the ring from my finger. I resist. “Arya, let it go. Let. It. Go,” I let her slide the ring off my finger and she puts that in the hole too. She covers it, padding it down flat. My hair unsticks from my face as my mom turns me and pulls me into her lap. I weep, every pain in my heart releasing, uplifting from inside me. I close my eyes, squeezing them tight and I see the sparkle from the diamond reflecting in my baby’s eyes, giggling and smiling as I
AWARDS IN PROSE: FICTION
pull her close, kissing her warm, pink cheeks.
Judge: K.L. Cook, Associate Professor at Iowa State University, in Writing and the Environment MFA
Monarch Top of Iowa HS Fiction Isabelle Hegarty, West Fork High School She gripped her bag in a white-knuckled hand, the car beneath her skipping and rumbling over the uneven forest path. Seated in back, her gaze was pointed straight ahead, at the pleather headrest her mother’s skull leaned against. A rumble of discomfort shifted in her stomach and prevented her from relaxing. “There it is, Mona!” her mother giggled over her slim shoulder. Her tone was much, much too carefree for Mona’s liking. She felt that this was all AWARDS IN PROSE: FICTION
a punishment, that her wrists and ankles had been strung together and tied taut, preventing escape. Her eyes finally departed from the headrest just for a moment, but what she saw was enough to make her stomach sink deeper. A cabin. A rotting, sagging, discolored and weather-beaten cabin. Her mother’s squeals of excitement upon seeing it were inaudible over Mona’s own numbing thoughts. She was a prisoner, and this was her cell. Her parents had assured her this would only be a short vacation; they insisted that it was something Mona needed, a getaway, a trip to the wild to let her “creative spirit” free--whatever that was. Mona felt she had no such thing. Paints and pencils had been forced onto her from a young age, rigorous practice sessions beginning when she was no younger than five years old. Sure, some would call her work “good,” others went so far as “amazing.” Mona didn’t see it. Mona saw stiff portraiture, she saw apples and grapes painted in thick, practiced, errorless strokes, she saw crude studies of Renaissance arts, these copies somehow turning out even more dull and uninteresting than their muses. However, she didn’t know how to do anything else. “You know, we’ve been here before.” Her father cracked a small smile, the one he always cracked when remembering his daughter’s accomplishments. Some might mistake it for a smile of nostalgia, but Mona doubted he’d ever felt nostalgic in his life. She didn’t insist that he keep
talking, but he did anyway. “You must have been eight or so. You painted
some brilliant plein aire, and a butterfly. Of course, you’re much, much better, now.” Mona didn’t remember this place, or any plein aire she’d painted of it. Her mother’s high voice pitched up as they entered the cabin, “Oh but we had to leave, dear. Mona got so sick.” Having not said a word the entire trip, Mona just offered a grunt, overworked eyes scanning the interior. The inside was more welcoming than the outside. The summer air made it just as warm, but it looked clean and comfortable. She took a seat, and with a motion she’d done thousands of times before, removed her sketchbook and pencils from her bag. Her parents left her to her work as usual; they refused to interrupt their artist as she labored. Mona held her 2H pencil in a stiff hand, staring ahead with back down and beginning to sketch. Long, straight strokes of graphite. The perfect square of a window, warped with perspective, the sill hanging off of it, and the parallel boards of wood on all sides. A lumpy old couch, somehow losing all life and history it may have had when transferred to paper with emotionless tracing. It was during these times that she felt closer to dead than alive. Her mind couldn’t wander, she was trapped, staring at this scene and painstakingly rendering it upon her page in her practiced, trained, and
AWARDS IN PROSE: FICTION
an unwavering gaze to memorize the shapes of the room, before looking
solidified method. An hour later, Mona blinked awake from her trance. Her senses, other than sight, seemed to flood back to her--the sound of a breeze outside, the gentle trill of birds, her parents’ faint voices from somewhere nearby. A sharp rustling of the bushes outside the cabin window caught Mona’s eye, but her attention was quickly diverted when her mother’s voice sounded: “Oh! You’re done! Let me see.” Both of her parents stepped over and took the sketch from Mona’s hands. The rustling outside continued further, and her eyes were drawn back to it as they began to critique her. “It’s good overall, Mona, it’s certainly good,” her father mused, chewing at his thumb. “Oh yes, Mona, it’s very good,” her mother repeated, looking between
the room and the sketch in comparison. She held the page up to compare the accuracies of the art to the real thing, scrutinizing the paper. Mona’s eyes stayed trained on the brush, which was quivering aggressively outside the window. “But don’t you think this shadow here could be a bit more defined?” “Yes, Mona, and this chair, here, it’s awful sloppy.” “You didn’t even sign it! You must know it’s not your best.” The rustling grew, and grew. Only Mona seemed to notice, and she couldn’t tear her eyes from it. The leaves seemed to bark and scream as they were jostled, the movement and sound only growing more violent with the
AWARDS IN PROSE: FICTION
seconds passing. Mona’s heartbeat was in her ears.
“Maybe if you just--”
“Are you an artist?” Mona snapped. Her heart was steady, her body
relaxed yet poised. She suddenly seemed to be 40 years older, and the rustling had ceased, along with the birds and the breeze. It was totally silent. Her parents gasped, mother’s jaw hanging slack and father blinking in disbelief.
“I said. Are you an artist?” repeated Mona, eyes boring into them. The
adults spluttered and began to flush, unsure how to combat this outburst. Mona continued to stare until one of them finally responded “No.”
“Then you have no place to critique me.” As soon as the last word left Mona’s lips, she was removed from the odd
state, and looked at her parents in confusion. A faint breeze lifted through the branches once again, the silence broken, Mona’s heart racing with regret. Her parents continued to deadpan at her, completely dumbfounded.
“I… I don’t know what I… Sorry.” Mona stood, cheeks tinting red, and
collected her things. She rushed towards one of the two cabin rooms with a quick stammer, explaining that she would be sleeping there, and the door was shut frantically behind her.
The day finished peacefully. After the three shared a dinner, her parents
smiled and forgave her for her outburst. “We know you’re stressed,” they said. “That’s why we came out here. Now you can relax.”
But Mona felt far, far from relaxed. The faint trembling in her fingertips as she held her sketchbook once again and was told to illustrate their campfire was proof enough of that. Every inch of her psyche screamed and begged her not to continue, but as soon as her pencil gouged the paper, her mind went numb and she focused on a single task: Draw.
The family said their goodnights, and Mona lay in the rickety old bed
she had chosen to sleep in. Her body was tense, unable to relax on the creaky springs masked with a thin mattress. Her eyes then wandered to the window, where fireflies had gathered. The bugs swirled and blinked outside her window, the sight enchanting Mona, and her stress slowly melted away. Then came the rustling. Though for whatever reason, it didn’t scare Mona. Even when it was loud in her ears and the sound of branches snapping and but calm. Slowly, she relaxed even more, and her eyes slipped shut as she drifted into sleep to the sound of the shaking leaves in the forest.
Her parents gasped, mother’s jaw hanging slack and father blinking in disbelief.
Upon waking, Mona had an image in her mind. After a sleep more
AWARDS IN PROSE: FICTION
scraping against the side of the cabin was near deafening, she was nothing
uneventful and just as deep as death, it was blurry and uncertain, but it was there. In her half-awake state she fumbled for her sketchbook, turned to the backmost page, and scribbled out a silhouette. When she finished the sketch, she blinked, and stared. She’d never drawn a single thing from her mind before, only ever using references for her work. The uneven blob on her page stared back, faceless, formless, and absolutely ugly. But for some reason, Mona was in love with it. She’d made something, actually made something--from her mind!
Mona spent that early morning sketching out more variations of this
creature. She tried to define it, give it features, to make something of the blur she saw in her head. It was so invigorating. With every line she felt more awake, more alive, blood rushing through her body and driving her to keep
going. She’d never felt such excitement and passion for drawing before, despite the fact that these were just disturbing little sketches. No matter what she did, though, the first smudged figure she drew remained the most accurate. This frustrated her, but her happiness from the free strokes of her wrist was more than enough to make up for it. Hearing a parent approach her room, she reluctantly--and frantically--shoved her sketchbook back into her bag and curled up, feigning sleep. She didn’t want either of them seeing that. This secret would remain between her and the trees.
After the excitement of the morning, the rest of the day was dull. Mona
drew a final sketch of the trees, before moving on to paints. She looked so pretentious, sitting with an easel in the forest, a palette of oils in one hand and a brush in the other. Just the thought of how she must look made her AWARDS IN PROSE: FICTION
sick. The resulting painting took three hours--though Mona remembered none of it--and it was essentially picture-perfect. She had a break for lunch before venturing deeper into the wood to paint again.
She was completely alone this time. Her parents had decided to hike and
tasked her with completing a new piece before their return. Mona began, her mind drifting from her body and hovering outside, hand and eye moving automatically. Her body ached, and it felt like she might just curl in on herself and die. What a scene that would be, thought Mona, porcelain-white bones tucked neatly away against the green of the forest.
Eyes wide, twigs snapping underfoot, wind howling in her ears and up above, a great, suffocating feeling of freedom.
She was abruptly drawn from her thoughts, though, at the sound of
a familiar rustling. She looked sharply to her left, and there was a shape.
Something dark, moving deeper into the brush, away from her. Mona did not hesitate to stand and step after it.
“Hello?” her voice was meek and small under the heavy shadows of
the trees. Whatever it was stopped for just a moment, before rushing away,
deeper, and deeper. Mona followed.
Everything seemed to start closing around her. Tree trunks leaned in
and curved overhead, their leaves swaying like ghosts in the wind. Vines and moss on the ground curled up and around her feet, but broke away when she stepped forward. The bushes and logs grew, blocking away the rest of the forest, narrowing her path, only allowing her to follow this shape, this wraith. The shadows grew so deep that Mona completely lost her sense of time. It could be midnight, or it could be midday. The shaking and hissing of the wind in the leaves overhead grew faster with the speed of her chase. She couldn’t recall when she began to run. The wraith did not lag, trip, or slow, and neither did she. It ducked and weaved through the obstacles of the wood, and Mona followed with deft footsteps. Eyes wide, twigs snapping feeling of freedom. And suddenly it stopped.
The wraith halted in its tracks. Mona did the same. The vines, finally
able to keep hold, slithered up around her ankles and held her in soft lichen arms. She did not struggle, or even breathe--she didn’t need to, because the forest was breathing for her. After what seemed like an hour of thick, deafening silence, it moved. The wraith turned its faceless head towards her. Sunken divots where eyes should be, but were not, still seemed to stare
AWARDS IN PROSE: FICTION
underfoot, wind howling in her ears and up above, a great, suffocating
at her. A wrinkled crevice somewhat resembling a mouth was set in a line across its non-face. It was made of nature, thick mosses and fungi spread across its hunched body. Mona saw a single monarch butterfly float over to it and land delicately upon its shoulder, perched on a group of honeysuckles growing there. She could not recall blinking, or seeing any butterflies here during her stay so far. The wraith spoke, and yet it did not. “Girl,” the voice rumbled from somewhere, but not from its mouth. The hulking body pulsed and rose, as though it was breathing. It spoke again, a voice older than existence, seeming to seep up from the ground and down from the boughs. “Do you live?”
The question echoed. The trees, which first seemed so close and maze-
like, were now centuries apart, spread over an endless expanse of fog and mud. Pale blue mist circled around her, spreading infinitely outward. Mona’s
chest shuddered with shaking breaths, her throat tight. She replied, hoarsely, “No. No, I don’t, I never have.”
It turned to fully face her, cape of grass swaying with its movement. It
exhaled, a thick mist pushing from its mouth, but also rising from holes in its back, like some kind of steam-powered machine. Everything was suddenly very damp. Mona could smell rain. The wraith spoke again, voice quiet and thunderous and comforting and terrifying. “And you won’t,” it breathed, smoke rushing into Mona’s ears and clouding her thoughts. She shook her head, body trembling, tears slipping from her eyes. She began to beg.
“No, please, how do I live, ple--” the air was sucked from her lungs and
she let out a tiny, terrified squeak. The wraith was holding up a finger--if AWARDS IN PROSE: FICTION
you could call it that, since it looked more like a bone, or a twig--calling for silence. Mona was suddenly all too aware of the distant trees growing closer and closer, the shadows drowning her, the vines climbing higher up her legs and constricting her arms. The wraith had one last thing to say, before the forest consumed her. “You won’t, if you do not make.”
The howling wind returned, trees and branches and boulders and
greenery rushing towards her all at once, and she closed her eyes a moment before they completely encapsulated her.
“Mona, we’re back, dear!”
She opened her eyes, the song of a bird and the voice of her mother
pulling her to reality. She was still staring into the brush, sitting in front of her easel. Her eyes then moved to look behind her, to see her mother and father approaching. The sun was beginning to set, and a gentle breeze caressed Mona’s cheek, making her shiver.
“How long were you gone?” Mona asked automatically, feeling as
though it had only been mere minutes. Her parents drew closer, and Mona spotted confusion on her father’s face, eyes directed towards her easel. Her mother simply replied, “Oh dear, it was quite a while. We thought you’d be back at the cabin by now. It was seven hours or so.”
Mona stared, dumbfounded. Had she just been sitting here for hours
upon hours, unaware? She didn’t have much time to ponder this, though, for her parents came up to her easel and gasped in horror.
“Mona, what the devil is this?” her father exclaimed, looking almost
offended. For the first time since seven hours earlier, Mona turned to look at her canvas.
Nonsense. Absolute nonsense. Erratic strokes and splatters of paint
spread over the entire surface, a violent shade of red echoing the edge of the canvas, transitioning to purples and then greens as it grew closer to the center. Placed in the very middle, nestled between abstract ferns, fungi, and honeysuckles, was a skeleton. Mona stared at it. She heard her mother make a retching noise behind her, and her footsteps rushed back up the path, frantic and stumbling. Her father began to chase after her, turning around horrifying, Mona, your poor mother… oh my God.”
Mona didn’t hear him, though. She simply stared at the skeleton,
sleeping soundly, with a familiar orange butterfly perched on its shoulder. Make.
Suddenly, Mona had an idea for another painting, one that would be
especially unique. She examined her paints, and frowned upon realizing she didn’t have the hue she needed. Taking her flimsy palette knife in hand, she
AWARDS IN PROSE: FICTION
only to assert to his daughter, “Get rid of that immediately. That is just
left the skeleton canvas and all her other tools behind as she followed after her parents. She was going to need more red paint.
Judged by the editorial staff of the Waldorf Literary Review.
Opening Day Ellie Peters
The watch on my wrist said I had an hour before my coffee shop would officially open for business. I walked in and let the door gently close behind me. For the first time since I had owned this building, it actually seemed like my space. With the colorful menu, the cute little fall leaf lights surrounding the window, and everything in its place, I felt as though I could comfortably consider the shop my second home. I plugged in the lights and hung up a sign with the hours at eye level, or at least at my eye level. With a bit of a skip and a hop, I made my way behind the
counter and began thinking about what else I needed to do. Grabbing my feather duster and stepping up onto a chair, I dusted the corners of the walls and the light fixtures. I used a disinfectant wipe to get rid of anything that might have been lingering on the counter. After turning on the espresso machine, I thought a quick inventory check was in order, and a quick scrub-down of the cabinets. Hopefully, I would get a nice first customer, someone I could laugh with, someone who would become my first regular. As I crouched down to open the cupboard, I heard the door chime and the whistle of the wind and footsteps on the hardwood floor. I stopped what I was doing and checked my watch. 5:32 a.m.? The store wasn’t supposed to open until 6:00 a.m. Suddenly all of the air in my lungs was gone. It felt as though I had just run a mile and all breath had completely left me. Someone was here early? Why would they be here? Maybe the sign was too low, and they couldn’t see the opening time that was listed? I clutched the cabinet door with both of my hands, because I thought I would pass out if I didn’t hold on to something. What were they coming in to tell me? I couldn’t breathe. What could have been wrong? Was it the walls? The walls needed to be cleaned, I should’ve cleaned them. I couldn’t breathe. The clacking of their shoes grew louder, filling the
entire space. I couldn’t believe I let something like that slide. This person was here to tell me what else I had messed up too. Holding on the cabinet is what was keeping me from passing out. If I had just come earlier, I could have been more thorough in my cleaning. I could feel myself breathing, but no air was in my lungs. Then I heard a familiar voice. “Joe Anderson?” she called. Without thinking I stood up and stared right at her and said, “Lucy Miller?” and we both just stared. The last time I saw her she had walked across the stage at graduation, prematurely throwing off her cap and tossing down her graduation gown as she pushed her way out of the auditorium. Lucy had always thought she was above education because she was going to become the head of her family’s business. She was the only person I was was really close to in high school, and not even she came to “What are you doing here?” “Come on Joe, I wouldn’t miss a milestone like this!” She gave me a big bright smile. Before I could process what she had just said, a tear slid all the way to my neck. “Wouldn’t miss it?” I turned away, unable to look at her, barely able to speak. “Don’t cry, I missed you too.” She knew that wasn’t why I was upset. “I didn’t know you missed me that much.” With a deep breath I spun back to face her. “One tear does not count as crying.” I crossed my arms. Lucy rolled her eyes and said, “Okay, whatever you say.” She pulled herself up onto the counter and asked me, “So are you excited?” It wasn’t fair that she could act as though everything was fine while I still wanted to know why she never wrote me back. “Yeah, I’m really excited.” I caught myself grinning, and I didn’t want to be happy. I wanted Lucy to know that I was angry with her. Being able to talk to someone about the shop helped me feel at ease though, even if it was with Lucy “It’s nice in here, like you always talked about. Even the name ‘Cuppa Joe’s’ stuck. But it is a little too clean for my taste.”
my graduation party. Either of them.
“Not clean enough for me.” I looked at the walls again. “Nothing is clean enough for you. A hospital wouldn’t be clean enough for you.” The laughter I must have been holding onto burst out of me because she was right. She took a look at the menu board and her face wrinkled up and her head tilted to the side. “Why is it like that?” “Like what?” I looked at her with the same expression she gave my menu. “The colors are all over the place, it doesn’t seem like you.” I hadn’t even noticed, but it did look a strange. “Well, each color correlates with the way I envision the title of the drink.” I hope that made sense to her, because it made sense to me.
“Oh, I get it!’ I could see the “a-ha” moment on her face, “A turtle latte is written in green, because cartoon turtles are green.” We laughed, relieved she understood, and then I glanced down at my watch and realized I had ten minutes until opening. “You’re anxious aren’t you?” There was no point in telling her no. She was always good at telling when I was anxious. “You know you can’t freak out just because there are customers in here right?” “Just because I’m nervous doesn’t mean I’m going t—” “Come on Joe.” She shook her head. “You hid under the counter and it was just me!” She gave me this look, and I had nothing to say. She was right, again. “You can’t hide from the customers Joe.” I stared down at the floor. Darn it, why was she always right? I was being a coward when she came in, and I couldn’t be afraid, not if this was going to work. “Now do you understand the real reason I’m here?” That was not the question I expected from her, so I shrugged. “To tell me I’m a coward? Because if that is what you’re telling me, I already knew.” “Damnit no, I’m here because you need my help. I want to work for
you.” She pulled something out of her bag. A resume. “You’re here because you need money?” I put my head in my hands and rubbed my forehead. “If that is what you’re here for, I don’t have any.” My skin felt as though it was on fire. Of course she wouldn’t just visit me. “Screw off. This is not about money, I am not hurting for money. You don’t even have to pay me. I know how you are around new people. You crack under pressure. I am way more sociable and can get along with the customers right away. I want to help you, I care about you.” “I’m sorry.” I didn’t know what else to say. She was right, but I wish she wasn’t. “I’m sorry too.” We hugged, and it almost seemed as though all of those years apart didn’t matter for a second—but only a second. customers.” I could still feel the heat of my anger on my face though. Just because she said she was sorry didn’t mean anything. She didn’t say why she was sorry. But she wasn’t wrong when she said I needed help, I am a mess on my own. “What do you mean? I’m always nice.” And with that, the door to my new business opened.
I sighed, “Fine, you can work here, just please be nice to the
Running Late Myriah Hacker
Jo was late. I had the upstairs room, all splintery wooden floors and dry heat, splotches on the white ceilings stained a soft yellow from water leaks. My brother was in the room across the hall, music pouring out of his open door and murmuring against my closed one. I was in bed, upside down, bare legs folded primly on the pillows. The afternoon sun persisted through the blinds, just like the musicmuffled. A thin sheen of sweat was forming steadily in the crooks behind my knees. PROSE: FICTION
My stomach gave a twinge. It had been aching all day. In my hands, a pair of cotton underwear, stretched taut between my fingers. I scrutinized them carefully. They were pink with blue flowers on them, and completely clean. My forehead creased. Across the room my clothes sat in a heap on the floor, a pair of wrinkled denim capris inside out over a glittery purple t-shirt and a bra whose tag read “32B”. It matched the panties, and it was my first and only real bra. I hated it, it always felt too tight, like my chest was in a chafing cage adorned with cartoon tulips. My phone buzzed next to my forehead. The text read only, “outsideee.” I sighed, shrugging on my shirt sans boob prison and taking one last long look at the underwear before sliding them on with a resigned sigh. I kicked on my pants and padded barefoot to the hallway, closing Mikey’s door and planting a fist against it as I went by. I caught a glimpse of his room, bursting with disorganized, half full boxes. He was moving out soon, going to college and all that. “Fuck off,” he called out nonchalantly, wrenching me from my thoughts. “I would leave you alone if you turned the freaking music down,
dickhole.” A resounding wave of guitar filled the hallway as he raised the volume, his only response. I wasn’t pissed at him, not really. He was just kind of annoying and it was easier to communicate with him by being an asshole; that was the language he spoke. I think he thought that was how you were supposed to act when you were nineteen. It didn’t help that whenever I saw him, I thought of the boy--another goodbye to look forward to. He hadn’t texted me since we hung out at his crappy apartment. I flinched at the memory. When I got outside, Jo was cross-legged on the steps. In her hand was a plastic baggie of Nutter Butters and a half full bottle of gatorade. “Subpar haul.” “Tomorrow is grocery day,” she said with a sigh. “Nothing around “Well next time I’m bringing saltines and gutter water.” “Still better than your mom’s tuna casserole. Who brings that crap as a snack?” “‘Mom’s tuna casserole’- is that supposed to be dirty?” “When it comes to your mom? Yeah.” I cracked, grinning. “You’re so gross.” She stuck out her tongue. “Tree?” Jo and I had a ritual of sorts, an ascension into the great blue sky by way of the overgrown oak festering in my backyard. We had hidden all of our secrets in the thick knots of bark for years, the twisted branches bursting with green and camouflaging our knobbly, scabbed knees behind it while we giggled and told tall tales. We shimmied up the old thing, legs over elbows, all angles and sunburned skin, and settled into our usual spots—me on the left, my back against the trunk and my legs dangling off the edge of a main branch, Jo on the right, her petite body hammocked by a web of thinner branches. Methodically, she took out a Nutter Butter and twisted it in half, scraping the peanut butter off with her teeth, and handed me the cookie parts. I chewed in silence.
but stale perishable goods and ketchup from 1940.”
“So you get it yet, or—?” “Nope,” I interrupted. “Oh. Geez. He said anything about it?” She dissected another cookie. “He won’t respond to my messages.” The moment sank into quiet. When she spoke again, it was delicate and succinct, like she was talking in a church. “Think you’re like—? You know.” “It’s only been two weeks. WebMD says it’s normal sometimes, not to. Or to be like, late, ya know?” “Yeah, I guess,” she replied amicably, handing me her cookie corpses. For a moment we sat in our own thoughts, the only noise the summer cicadas’ reedy whispers. “Well, Shelly’s almost 19. Maybe she—” PROSE: FICTION
“I just don’t wanna tell Mikey,” I sighed. “He’s such a fuck.” “Well yeah. I mean no question your brother is a massive douche, but-” “Yeah, I dunno,” I persisted. “Shelly’s nice and all but she might tell Mikey, and if he finds out then so will Mom and I just, I can’t deal with it right now.” Shelly was Jo’s older sister and not much older than I was, not really. Maybe 4 years. But her eyes were always crusted with thick mascara that flaked onto her cheeks and smeared out under her eyes, and she always had a breakout going on on her face. She didn’t talk about much, mostly just stuck to Mikey whenever she was over, so I didn’t hate her or anything. She was just weird. I wondered if my skin would be like hers when I got older, if I would be so strange. “I don’t think she would talk.” Jo started. I didn’t respond. “I brought something,” she finally continued. “Don’t be mad.” “Mad?” “I just think it’s good to, like, know.” As she said this, she pulled out a package in a crinkly white wrapping, sealed off. “I found it in
Shelly’s room, I figured you need it more than she does.”
She handed me the package, and I inspected it carefully before finally peeling off the wrapper. The device that came out of it was capped, and there was a bundle of instructions. “At Home Pregnancy Test,” it read in bold letters.
I’ll pull out; it’s not a big thing. It’s okay.
“Jesus, you’d think I was building a deck or something,” I said, breathless as I unfolded the directions.
Jo paused. “You okay?” “Yeah, I think. I guess I just didn’t think it’d be like this. You know, when it happened.” “Nah. It was—it was good.” My stomach lurched, whined. I thought of the boy, my brother’s age, his hands and his searching fingers, a rush of exhilaration and heat—and his quick departure afterwards. “No,” I repeated. “I’m sure it’ll all be fine. But—” I caught her eye and smiled reassuringly, “Maybe I should do this by myself?” “Oh--yeah, duh. I’m such a dumb dumb. Text me, if like, anything happens, okay?” I nodded, but she was already scrambling down the tree, Nutter Butter bag held between her teeth and gatorade bottle sandwiched under her arm. For a while after she left, I didn’t even want to look at the thing. I didn’t want to read the instructions. I just stared at it with steady dread. It felt like a weapon in my hand, heavy and alive. I wasn’t the one in control anymore. In my head I saw it happen again and again— “I’ll pull out, it’s not a big thing. It’s okay.” I had felt so cool, so good, so grown up—and now I was holding a pregnancy test, a fourteen year old idiot. I had fucked up for real this time, and I couldn’t fix it. Underneath the tree was a plastic sandbox from when Mikey and I were little. Since we were both getting older, lately it had just sat
“Do you regret it?”
there, abandoned. It was shaped like a turtle and we always forgot to close it up, so it was almost constantly full of mucky rain water. I looked down at it. Cemented to the bottom were leaves from last fall, glued there by last winter’s snow. And some fallen twigs from the oak stuck out at random angles, wet from the shallow water. I looked at the test in my hands. And I dropped it. I almost managed to convince myself it was an accident. The pregnancy test, the instructions, even the white cellophane wrapper, were in my hands one moment, and not in them the next. They slid out from between my fingers, twisting in midair before finally landing with an anticlimactic plomp in the shallow water and dipping beneath the murk. “Hey!” Mikey called out. PROSE: FICTION
I started. He was on the front porch, watching. “Get out of the tree, Mom’s got a job for you.” “I already did my chores today, I’m finished,” I whipped back, not moving. “Look, I’m not the one who makes the rules.” Mom would have a fit if I didn’t hurry. “Fine,” I conceded, sighing. “I’m coming down.” Halfway to the ground, I heard Mikey’s voice much closer than before. “Hey, what’dja throw into the sandbox—?” I felt my breath catch and I looked down, screaming, “Nothing, Mikey, it’s nothing!” I reached for the next branch, but with a sudden and malicious crack I felt it creak beneath my hand before coming completely off the tree and I flailed, hands grasping at nothing. “What are you doing-?” Mikey shouted. “Whoa, holy shit, holy-” There was absence of everything but open air, and then I was falling. The first thing I realized was that I was soaking wet and Mikey was freaking out. “Dude, what the fuck is wrong with you? Are you okay? What the fuck, get up.” I blinked. My breath, it seemed, had completely left my body, and I felt the absence of air in my lungs ache. My butt was in the turtle
sandbox, and my stomach burned. “Ow,” I blurted raspily. “Yeah, ow, dumbass, falling out of a tree hurts,” Mikey intoned, “—oh fuck, I think you’re bleeding.” A thin plume of red lanced the mucky water. “You better get your ass to the bathroom. If Mom sees you like that, she’ll make you stay out here and hose you off herself.” Five minutes later I had navigated my way into the house without leaving a slime trail. The bathtub faucet gurgled invitingly and the room steamed as I shed my jeans. They came off almost reluctantly, suctioned to a scrape that looked like raw hamburger bursting out of a denim tube--the sting was sharp and angry. I peeled off my underwear, and another splotch of red caught my eye. “No way—” I looked at the underwear, and there it was, so small you could miss it if you blinked—a stain in the shape of Florida and size of my pinky tip. My stomach complained again—cramps. I stuck PROSE: FICTION
a disbelieving finger between my thighs and it came back glossy and scarlet. I sat on the side of the bath, head hung in relief. “Fuck,” I whispered simply. “Fuck, that so was fucked up. Fuck.” There was a knock on the door, too sudden and harsh to be mom. “Yeah?” “You okay in there?” “Yeah Mikey, I’m fine.” “Okay...” He paused long enough that I assumed he had left. “Hey?” he finally called out. “Yeah?” I said back impatiently. “Should I, uh—should I hide the thing from the sandbox?” I blanched, watching the blood drain out of my face even in the foggy mirror. “Um.” “Is everything, like, in working order?” “Yes,” I replied awkwardly. “Toss it.” “Got it.” “Thanks.”
Bowling Alley Blues Isaiah Craig
It was a cool, crisp, and quiet Friday night in Langford, with
millions of stars twinkling around the beautifully full moon. The breeze was slight, bringing a soft kiss of wind that made the trees sway slowly. The night was seemingly perfect. He knew that tonight was definitely the night he was going to do it, but he didn’t know how he was going to do it, or even when. He figured he’d just wait until the right time, if there ever came a right time. What if there was no perfect opportunity that came up tonight? What if he got too anxious to say it? An uneasy tension had a hold on his thoughts as he paced PROSE: FICTION
toward the double door entrance to Langford Lanes Bowling Alley and Bar, grabbing the handle with his right hand while holding the hand of Alexis, his girlfriend of three years, in his left.
He and Alexis had gone on their first date at Langford Lanes, and
she’d never let him forget it.
“Lenny, don’t you remember our very first date here?” She asked
as a smile beamed across her face.
Lenny casted a smile of his own but only a faint, nervous one.
“Girl, of course, how could I possibly forget? That night was so special.”
It was one of the many special nights that Lenny and Alexis had
shared over the years that they’d been dating. A night full of smiles, laughs, good vibes, and, of course, midnight bowling. Alexis was a member of the bowling club while in high school, and bowling had been one of her favorite activities ever since, so Lenny figured that a few games of bowling would cap off their incredible dinner date at the local steak and grill. Even though she would always go on to beat him, Lenny would mute his competitive spirit in order for hers to shine through, which made the night better for the both of them.
Alexis passed Lenny, her gorgeous wide smile showing proudly
as he held the door open for her. He stared as she strolled through the doorway, her sparkling ocean blue eyes meeting his. He gazed at her bright blonde hair, and how the light bounced off of her curls, and how her dazzling smile showed off her impossibly pearly white teeth. His eyes followed her into the building, locking onto the curved, hourglass figure showing through her slim blue jeans and skin tight sweater. He took a deep breath as he followed her into the bowling alley, his brain still trying to piece together the perfect words for what he had wanted to say to her for so long.
The couple walked right into the middle of the midnight bowl.
The entire building was dimmed to a dark shade of midnight blue, but the assortment of different colors and designs darting and flashing all over the walls, carpet, and waxed wood floors made the place look like the dance floor at a disco. Wheels of color whirled wildly The sound of glowing neon pins clapping from the collision of neon swirled bowling balls sprung out left and right throughout the bowling alley, even through the blaring rock music coming from the speakers. Simultaneously, other balls rolled smoothly down lanes lit like airport landing strips ready to obliterate the set of pins in its way, while others winded up, building power for their next roll.
Lenny and Alexis made their way to the front desk, where they
were greeted by a stalky teenager in a red “LL” collared shirt behind the register.
“What’s going on you two, are you guys looking to bowl this
“Yes, sir,” Lenny replied.
“Alright. Sweet. And how many games will you be playing?”
Lenny paused to think for a moment.
“I think we’re gonna go with, uh, two games, I think?” He felt a
nudge on his arm from Alexis, and glanced down to see her pouting, unhappy with his answer. “Nah, we’ll go three games instead.”
“Alright awesome. Let me just put that in real quick.” The teen
tapped quickly on the touch pad to get the couple set up. “And what
along the walls while several other designs crawled across the floors.
size shoes will you guys need?”
“I’ll take a size eleven, and she’ll need a-”
“Size five-and-a-half, please and thank you!” Alexis butted in,
smiling radiantly. Lenny shook his head and chuckled at her outburst, knowing she was overly excited to bowl again.
“Sweet!” Exclaimed the desk clerk, trying to match her
enthusiasm. He turned around and pulled two pairs of shoes out of slots labeled “11” and “5.5” and placed them on the counter top. “And will you guys be eating any food tonight or be needing something to drink? We’re having a special on sides—fries come half off with any burger purchase, onion rings are buy a big rack get a small rack free?”
“Oh, no thanks, we’ve already eaten,” Lenny answered. “But we’ll
definetely take a pitcher of ice water.”
“Sure thing! I have you guys set up on lane three down there,
and we’ll have water and cups brought out to you shortly.” The boy pointed over to where lane three was located, but both Lenny and Alexis had been there enough times to know exactly where each lane was, but they accepted his direction anyways. “Enjoy your night, you two!”
“You as well! Thank you!” cheered Alexis, tugging on Lenny’s hand
as she headed towards their station. Lenny gulped as he trailed along, the words “enjoy your night” ringing in his head. He wondered if this night was really going to be any good at all. He felt at his sweatshirt pocket to make sure what he needed was still there, and sure enough a lump still bulged in his pouch.
I think tonight’s going to be a perfect night.
It was an unusually packed night at Langford Lanes, something
Lenny was dreading would happen on a night like this. He didn’t want a large group of people around when the moment came. He sat down and began unknotting his Adidas sneakers, slipping them off and
grabbing his worn bowling shoes.
“Come on, slow poke!” Alexis was already putting the finishing
touches on the double knot on her second shoe.
“I’ll get there, girl, just hold on a sec.” Lenny tied on his last shoe,
and went to find a bowling ball for each of them while Alexis entered their names on the electronic scorecard. He returned with a pink, lightweight ball in one hand and a plain black ball in the other. He returned to their station and set their balls in the ball return rack, and was welcomed back with a suffocating hug.
“I’m so excited, Lenny. Tonight’s going to be so fun!”
Lenny felt his nervousness tighten in his chest as he wrapped his
arms around her, his body overheating in his sweatshirt. “I’m excited too, Lex. I think tonight’s gonna be a perfect night.”
“You think so, babe?” She glanced up at Lenny and gave him a
wide grin, making him feel as if he were melting in her arms. “Hey, PROSE: FICTION
I put you up first this time, so let’s see what you got!” She let go of his waist and stood up on her tip toes to kiss him on the cheek, sending a burning feeling to his face. Normally he was never all that nervous being out with Alexis, but tonight was very different for a reason obvious only to him. She went back to sit in her seat, leaving him standing next to the ball return rack with a mind flooded with thoughts. He grabbed his ball, slid his fingers and thumb into its holes, and stepped slowly up towards the lane. He looked back at Alexis, who smiled again and blew him a kiss for good luck. Lenny smiled back, feeling shivers roll down his spine. He peered up to see if the air conditioning was blowing down on him, but there was nothing there. He felt at his sweatshirt pocket again with his off hand to feel that the box was still there, and he smiled to himself. He felt a rush of happiness and anxiety flowing through his body at the thought of what he was going to do.
Lenny wound up and rolled his ball down the waxey lane with as
much force as he could, unsure of how to spin the ball the way Alexis could. The ball took a straight line drive towards the head pin, sending a domino effect through the rest of the formation until every pin had
been knocked over.
“Woo! There we go Len!” Alexis cheered her boyfriend on from her
chair as Lenny could only shrug his shoulders, knowing the roll was a fluke, but there was no way he’d let her know that.
“Looks like you’re going down tonight, huh babe?” He proclaimed
as he swaggered back to his seat, wearing a smirk like a mask of false confidence.
“Oh, you think so!?” She exclaimed as she walked up to retrieve
her ball, giving Lenny a long stare down along the way. Lenny sat down in his chair, fiddling with the box in his hoody pouch as he watched Alexis walk up and, seemingly with ease, roll the ball with such great spin and velocity on its way to striking the head pin and the rest in its wake that Lenny’s eyes widened in amazement, even if it was the thousandth time he’d seen her roll a bowling ball for a strike. PROSE: FICTION
Alexis marched back triumphantly, again showcasing her magnificant smile. “How do you like that, Lenny?” She asked, rubbing her first frame strike into Lenny’s short lived confidence.
“Can’t you ever just take it easy on me?” Lenny replied with a
chuckle. “Can’t you let me win just once?”
“Not a chance!” She shouted exuberantly with a wink and a kiss on
Lenny’s cheek before urging him up for his next turn.
The couple continued to go back and forth as the game went
along, bantering in between each roll of the ball. Every time Lenny would take his seat, though, he’d toy around with his sweatshirt pocket, wrestling with different ways of wording what he wanted to say and when he was going to say it. He was so tense, heart nearly thumping out of his chest, but the contagious joy and energy of Alexis kept his emotions down to earth for the most part.
Lenny’s tension rose heavily as he watched Alexis go up for her
final rolls in the tenth frame, still unsure of what his wording would be. He gulped hard as Alexis’ first roll knocked down seven pins, as he knew that a spare was the only thing that could extend the game a third roll.
“Come on baby, you got this!” He hollered, urging her to keep the
game going for just a few seconds longer. She hardly acknowledged his remark, focusing squarely on the three awkwardly scattered pins remaining. She wound up and took her roll, putting a little too much power on her spin, which caused the ball to just barely catch the edge of the lane and roll down into the gutter.
“Damnit!” She shouted, voicing her displeasure with her final
toss. She stomped back towards Lenny, who was still scrambling to come up with something perfect enough for her. He felt that if he just started talking, the words would easily flow, like they did when he first started talking to Alexis. He took a long, deep breath and shot up out of his chair, ready to seize the moment.
“Good game, Lex, I thought you were going to get those pins for
sure” he said as he paced towards her, arms open with the offer of a hug. “I was so close! That was still a lot of fun, its been awhile since
we’ve bowled.” Alexis fell into Lenny’s arms as he looked up at the scoreboard, scanning the frame-by-frame results of his 134-116 defeat. “You going to start the next game, Len?”
“Yeah, I will soon, I just have to ask you something important.”
He answered, his left hand shoved into his sweatshirt pocket clutching onto what was inside.
“Oh yeah? What is it?” She gazed up at him, sending a wave of
nerves through Lenny’s entire body. He took a step back, moving his hands down to her waist as she continued to eyeball him intently.
“Alexis, I, uhh-” He froze up. He started looking around frantically
as if he could find the words he was looking for in the air, his face turning a sunburned red.
“Yes, Lenny?” Alexis’ eyebrow rose with a puzzled look. “What
is it?” Lenny squeezed the object in his pocket hard, feeling his body beginning to overheat in his hoodie again.
“I uhh.. I need to go to the bathroom sweetie I’ll be right back.”
Lenny turned away quickly, not waiting for a response as he speed walked toward the bathroom on the far end of the bowling alley near the exit.
“Okay? Just hurry back!” She called after him, receiving a thumbs
up as he paced swiftly towards the men’s restroom.
Lenny burst through the door, letting out a huge exhale as he
stepped in. Damnit, man! You blew it! You made yourself look like an idiot! His mind swirled as he stopped at the sink, looking up into his reflection in the mirror above it. He stood silently, hands propping himself up on the edge of the sink as he shook his head at himself in dissapointment, the light above echoing a loud buzz. Guess I gotta practice this shit for the millionth time. He stood upright, straightened out his sweatshirt, and cleared his throat. “Alexis Elizabeth Moore, will you..- nah that was too fucking flat.” He paused to think for a moment. Maybe if I hold it like I’m going to, I’ll get a feel for what I’ll want to say. Lenny reached into his hoodie pouch and pulled out the small black case he had been holding all night. PROSE: FICTION
The box opened like a treasure chest, and inside revealed its great treasure: a beautifully sparkling 2 carat diamond engagement ring. Let’s try this again. He cleared his throat once more and began to carefully pull the ring out from the box with his thumb and index finger.
What’s going on, man? How can I help you?
Suddenly, the door was barged open, creating a loud bang that
rang through the bathroom. Startled, Lenny flinched hard, causing
him to fumble the ring. He began to panic, dropping the case to the tile floor as the ring fell into the sink. Lenny couldn’t react in time, only able to watch in horror as the ring went sliding right down into the open drain and out of sight. “NO! Fuck!” Lenny bellowed as he tried frantically to reach into the drain with his fingers as if there was some way he could get it back, but it was of no use. A man continued stumbling through the forced open door, clearly drunk and struggling to balance himself.
“S’going on, man?” The man said as he staggered in, his words
“Dude, what the fuck are you busting in here like S.W.A.T. for!?”
Lenny shouted, his teeth clenched with rage and frustration. The man looked up at him blankly, his eyes glazed and jittery as he continued to wobble around.
The man shrugged, saying “Hey, man, when you gotta go, you
gotta go, bro.” as he continued his pursuit of the nearest urinal.
“Do you have any idea what you’ve done? You ruined everything!”
Lenny kneeled down to observe the sink pipes below, groaning a hopeless sound as he grabbed and tugged at the pipes. He reached over, grabbed the ring case, and shoved it back into his sweatshirt pocket as he stormed out of the restroom. The drunk paid no mind to Lenny as he left the bathroom, holding onto a stall wall, peeing
Lenny glanced across the room as he emerged from the bathroom,
spotting Alexis on her phone seated at the table. He then turned his focus to the front desk, where the stalky teen stood polishing off returned shoes. He crouched awkwardly, throwing his hood over his head as he paced briskly toward the desk, trying to avoid Alexis spotting him on his way up.
“What’s going on, man? How can I help you?” The clerk asked as
Lenny arrived at the desk, his face blank and pale.
“Hey, uhh, listen, I lost something down the drain in the
bathroom and I need maintenance right away. Like right now.”
The clerk had a baffled look on his face. “I’m sorry to hear that,
man. That’s rough. What exactly did you lose?”
Lenny’s hand tightened into a fist, his teeth locking in growing
anger. “Nevermind what I lost, I just need maintenance right away.”
“I’m sorry, man, maintenance doesn’t come in until after we close
up. I could leave them a note if you’d like me to?”
Lenny felt his heart sink to rock bottom. “I don’t have time to
wait, I need this thing back now. Can you please see if they can get it right now?” He pleaded.
aimlessly at the urinal with his pants pulled down well past his knees.
“I don’t have their information to call them in, I’m sorry.” Lenny
stood at the desk in silence, looking over at Alexis to see her with her chin resting in her palm, her elbow on the table, waiting patiently for him to come back. He took a deep sigh, getting set to mope his way back to their station, when something behind the desk caught his eye.
“How much for that one?” He asked the clerk suddenly.
“What are you talking about?” The clerk looked around, confused.
“That. How much for that one?” Lenny pointed to the glass case
behind the desk, which displayed a handful of custom designed bowling balls. His eyes locked onto one ball in particular, a glowing white ball that shined like a pearl, Alexis’ favorite gem, with extraordinary silver and gold swirling designs.
“These aren’t for sale, dude.” The clerk explained. “These are just
for show.” There are other balls down at this end that-” PROSE: FICTION
“No, I want this ball. Throw out a number and I’ll pay for it, right
here, right now.” Lenny abruptly cut him off, digging into his right pocket for his wallet as he continued to silence the clerk when he tried to reiterate that the ball had no price. “How much?”
The clerk stood there for a long moment, thinking. “Look, I’m
really not supposed to be doing this but, let me look at something real quick.” He jogged over to the other collection of custom balls before returning with a deal. “400 bucks, only offer.” Without hesitation, Lenny pulled four crisp hundred dollar bills from his wallet and set them on the desk, while the clerk unlocked the case and very carefully removed the ball from its place. They exchanged items and shook hands briefly.
“Enjoy the rest of your night, man.” The clerk nodded at Lenny,
who gave him an appreciative nod back and a thanks as he took the ball and turned to walk back over to Alexis, feeling no rush of nerves the way he did earlier.
Alexis turned in Lenny’s direction as she spotted him finally
returning from the bathroom. “Finally!” She exclaimed. “What took you so long, and where did you get that ball from? It looks so nice.” Lenny didn’t answer her questions, only focused on putting together
the right words in his mind. He walked up to Alexis, looked her in her eyes.
“Look, Lex,” he began, “I’ve been battling with how to say this
for so long in my head, I’ve worked myself up so much, but with tonight being as crazy as it’s been, I’ve realized that I can’t waste time trying to figure things out anymore.” Lenny went down on one knee as he presented the pearlesque ball up towards her, looking up into her eyes. “Alexis Elizabeth Moore, I love you so much, and I want to continue having this feeling for the rest of my life. Will you marry me, Lex?”
Alexis gasped, putting both of her hands over her mouth. She
stood looking down at him for a moment, neither one of them realizing that the bowling alley had gone quiet, with everybody there witnessing Lenny’s courage. Alexis couldn’t cover all of her emotions, face, exposing the smile that Lenny had fallen in love with once more.
“Yes, Lenny, Yes!” She shouted hysterically, sending a roaring
applause through the entire bowling alley as Lenny stood up to share a kiss with his new fiance. Lenny held the ball up as Alexis slid her fingers into the holes, like sliding on an engagement ring. “This is so creative Lenny, it looks just like a giant pearl! You were so right, this night truly was perfect. I love it so much!”
Lenny grinned, still remembering the lost ring in the back of his
mind. “I’m glad you love it, sweetie. And you’re right, babe, tonight really did turn out perfect after all.”
as tears began to well up in her eyes. She released her hands from her
One Day at a Time Marcus Lopez
The first thing I could see when I woke up was her impossibly perfect face. The sun light bounced perfectly off her golden-brown skin, illuminating her curves, bathing her dark brown hair in sunlight. She looked like an angel, but angels aren’t this devilishly sexy. I got out of bed, and as I was putting on my jeans, my gaze was inadvertently grabbed by the hourglass figured, full lipped, thick thighed goddess that was lying in my bed. I saw her eyes slowly open, as she gracefully lifted her head off the pillow. She sat up cross legged on my bed, with the soft light of the morning sun forming an almost heavenly aura around PROSE: FICTION
her. Then, she commanded me to “Get back into bed, superstar” with that sultry, sweet, voice of hers. A voice that sweet still made me cringe when I heard it, “superstar.” I looked at her and smiled after she gave me her command, and as she was smiling back at me I told her, “You have to leave.” “What?” she replied through an awkward giggle, obviously not understanding how serious I was. “You. Have. To. Leave.” “Are you serious!?” in an instant her soft, seductive voice was now swelled with shock, anger and attitude. “Very. Your Uber’s coming right now,” I told her while I grabbed a shirt out of my closet and I watched as her once impossibly perfect face contorted into one of realistic disgust, disgust that I can only assume is focused on me at this moment. I guess she expects me to say something else to her, give her some explanation about why I’m kicking her out, something to make her feel better, but I don’t, she knows that. I don’t even remember her real name. She begins to angrily get dressed, huffing and puffing, stomping through my house looking for the articles of clothing she had discarded during our impassioned encounter last
night (impassioned for her at least). I hear a knock at the door, the same
obnoxious knock I’ve heard every morning the past month, while I hastily brush my teeth. “Yo, hurry up” he says in his stupid voice. I roll my eyes, not at what he’s saying, but at the very sound of his voice, as he continues his incredibly loud and obnoxious knocking. “Hold on!” I yelled while I was rushing to put on my shoes, at the same time trying to avoid making eye contact with my “guest” from last night. I open the door and standing in front of me is the same overgrown, immature, black, happy idiot who’s been driving me to work for the past month. Though, before I can even say anything to my ride to work, I’m abruptly shoved to the side by the brown-skinned bombshell that seemed so sweet when I’d woken up this morning, who proceeded to walk out the front door, passing me and my overgrown teammate who’s been doubling as my chauffeur, without saying a single word. My overgrown teammate PROSE: FICTION
is mesmerized as she marches to her uber, so mesmerized that he hasn’t realized that he’s made a complete 180 degree turn just watch my random encounter get into a car. “You’re married John. And don’t fuckin rush me kid,” I say as the uber pulls off, trying to snap him out of his booty induced trance. “What’s wrong with looking?” I shake my head as I walk past John and out of my front door and tell him “Looking and staring are two different things John. Come on we’re gonna be late.” On the drive to the practice facility I do what I’ve done every other time I’ve been in the car with John and ignore him. Each day he tries to make conversation, asking me stupid questions, telling me stories about his beautiful wife and kids and his “perfect” home life. I give him the same hmm’s, oh’s and yup’s each day with the same upward inflection so he thinks I’m listening but I try my best to ignore him. On some level I feel sorry for he guy. John’s nothing but a kid in his second year in the pros and he thinks that we’re good friends, or at least friends on some level, when, in reality, if he wasn’t giving me rides to work I wouldn’t even know his name. In all honesty, if it weren’t for me losing my license
I wouldn’t even have spoken to the kid. He would’ve just been another mediocre lineman who came through here and left before I ever bothered to learn his name. He’s talking right now actually, I think he just said something about his marriage, or his kids, but I can’t stand to listen, I never can. Then, I hear him say something that caught my attention, something different than the usual family related dribble that spills out of his mouth each morning. “What’d you just say?” “I asked where you met her, bruh?” John asks with a level of interest that I’m not comfortable satiating. “Relax, she’s just some Instagram model.” “So, you just DM’d her outta nowhere?” “Naw, I think I met her at a club or party or something like that. She DM’d me last night out of nowhere.” PROSE: FICTION
“Damn. You livin that good life.” I shake my head at John’s naïve immaturity “It’s not as nice as you make it sound.” “Shit, I need to start living like that.” Then, just like that, the first conversation that I’ve ever had with John that I could say wasn’t annoying at all, becomes just as annoying as any other time this idiot’s talked to me. “What the hell is wrong with you John?”
And I never tell anyone where I’m going.
“What you mean?”
I let out a small chuckle “You can’t be that stupid John. Girls like her are nothing special, they all say they want you, they make themselves look as bad as they can just to catch your eye, but they don’t want you,
you’re nothing but a status symbol to them, they just wanna be able to go back to their friends and brag about how they got with a pro. What you got is special, you got a woman who loves you unconditionally, and two
beautiful daughters. Why the hell do you wanna run around with a bunch of random hoes who only wanna use you for your money, and your status? Trust me, you run around with these randoms long enough and your only gonna end up with a kid you don’t want and some pretty expensive child support payments.” John stays silent, just sitting there, driving the car in silence with a confused look on his face. Hopefully he’s thinking about what I said, or at least about his family. The car stays completely quiet, no music, no talking, nothing, until we arrive at the practice facility. Though, I notice as we drive, John’s face goes from blank and stupid, to a look that resembles guilt during the awkwardly quiet part of our drive. When he pulls into the parking space he immediately grabs his phone, he grabs it so quick that he doesn’t even turn the car off. Hoping that what I said earlier resonated with him in some way, I stick my head back in the car pretending I dropped something so I could peek at what wife, telling her how much he loved her and their children. I see him texting “I love you” to Tiffany. I immediately walk away from his car shaking my head, knowing his wife’s name is Amber. The day goes the same as any other weekday: meetings (where I pretend to pay attention), practice, pain, meetings (where I again pretend I’m engaged). Thirteen years, day in and day out, the same thing every single day. Hell, the only way I can tell the difference between the days of the week, is based solely on how my boss is screaming each day. Mondays he’s lethargic because of the day before, pretty relaxed, with the swearing kept to a minimum. Tuesday’s are when he’s most excited. There’s a lot of yelling, but it’s like he’s a frat guy at a party, there’s a lot of swearing followed always by “yeah”. Wednesday’s are the funniest because that’s when he’s the most frustrated. Every mistake is followed by an explosion of swears and creatively constructed insults. This is also the only day he ever yells at me. It’s a nice blend of “old man”, “looks like you’re getting too old” and “do you need your reading glasses”. Thursday’s he’s stoic, which is why I hate Thursday’s. Without him yelling it’s that much more boring. I hate Fridays the most though. I’m always forced to come into the facility and listen to him talk about the season, where we are
he was typing. I thought I would see him texting something sweet to his
as a team and our standing in the division. It’s funny to me honestly, if weren’t for those Friday meetings I wouldn’t even know how many games we’ve won. Last time I talked to him, I think he said five or six, but I don’t really care. After my workday’s over I do the same thing I do every weeknight. I call an uber and go to the nursing home. And I never tell anyone where I’m going. While all the questions about where I’m going can get annoying, I think the speculations are funny. The media’s come up with the idea that I have a drinking problem, but they’re just trying to find a reason for my decline in performance over the last couple years. It’s like they don’t understand how aging works. Some of my teammates think that I’m secretly gay, while others think I’m going downtown to see some secret girlfriend. The latter are correct on some level, I am going downtown to see a PROSE: FICTION
girl. I always cover myself completely when I enter the nursing home, that way no one recognizes me. I rush to her room for the exact same reason, this is my time, our time. As I walk into the room and I can feel the smile on my face stretch from ear to ear because I always love seeing her so much. “Hi, mom” I hug her tight, the same way I do every weeknight. She doesn’t respond, she doesn’t even look at me, as usual, but I don’t care I’m just glad I get to see her. “How are you feeling mom.” I say filled to burst with excitement, “I had a pretty good day today, but I really can’t stand the guy who drives me to work, but someone driving me to practice reminds me of when you used to drive me practice when I was a kid, I miss that. Practice went good today, oh and I uh, forgot to tell you last time I was hear my license got suspended, I was doing 105 in a 55. Stupid, right?” I thought today would be the day, the day she responds, the day I get to see her smile at me, even if only for a moment. But it isn’t, she turns her head and looks at me, but her expression is one of confusion, I hate that look. She doesn’t know who I am, I’m a stranger to her. “Say it.” I whisper, wishing, hoping, praying that she’ll recognize her only son just for a moment. “Please say it” I whisper, pleading with God
or any other higher power that’ll listen to me, to just let her recognize me so she can know that her son is here with her, right by her side just like I’ve always been, so she knows that I’ll never abandon her. I want her to recognize that I’m the one who put the Super Bowl rings next to her bed, so I can tell her I won them for her, I want her to recognize me so that I can hug her and feel her unconditional love for me one last time. I want her to see me, so she can know that her son loves her. I don’t want her to die in a cloud of fear and confusion so thick she can’t recognize her own son. But I know what’s going to happen. I can feel a tear running down my cheek. I know she doesn’t have long before she’s gone. I gently lift her hand off the bed and press against my cheek and I softly say, “I love you mom, I’ll see you tomorrow.” Then I call another Uber to take me home like I do every weeknight, and tears run down my face, the same way they do every weeknight and they don’t stop until I get
‘Three more years’ I say to myself, ‘just three more years.’
I shuffle to my bed and I sit down, and as I sit there I look at a picture my mother and I took after I won my first state championship in high
school, standing in front of that crappy little house we lived in back in Boston. I think about the trophies and medals scattered throughout my room. I think about how my mom kissed me on the forehead and told me how proud she was of me after each, and every accolade, the same way I do every weeknight. This is the only time of the day that I have positive thoughts about football, the only time I don’t think it as a job I’m forced to do. I think about every game I’ve played since I started playing in high school. I think about how she was at every game screaming and cheering for me, while at same time heckling the other team. I think about how happy she was whenever I won a championship, it didn’t matter if it was high school, college or the pros. I think back to two years ago when she started to get sick and she told me I had five good years left in me. And as
inside my house.
I lie in bed, I think about all the last conversations we had and how she used to look at me with optimism and hope in her eyes, but now those eyes don’t do anything but stare blankly into the distance. “You’ve never lied to her” I say to myself as I think about the last promise I ever made to her. “Three more years” I say to myself, “just three more years.” Then just as I begin to feel a deep sadness, I hear my phone vibrate, and I see a text in my phone from a number I don’t recognize “Hey this is Candi, Melissa’s friend.” I don’t recognize either name but I know I’m going to respond, “I was just wondering if you wanted to hangout tonight” the emoji filled text says. I know I’m going to say yes, even though I don’t
want to. I know I will, the same way I do every day.
Ripples in the Water Jon Happel Breanna stared sullenly at the sparkling lake from her position on the lifeguard dock. Dozens of kids were running through the water. She could see a few of the counselors scattered in the bunch – Tim, Emily, Laura. And Jake. He was making his way into the lake followed by a small crowd of boys, most likely from his cabin. They were laughing and splashing each other. Then as one, they let loose a volley of waves directly at Jake. He cried out in mock terror, flipping backwards into the lake. He emerged spitting water, blond hair plastered to his forehead, roaring with laughter. His eyes glinted PROSE: FICTION
mischievously as he blasted back with return fire, sending the boys ducking for cover. He grinned and ran his fingers through his hair. Without warning, his eyes flicked up to meet Breanna’s. She quickly averted her gaze and tried to focus her attention on the rest of the group headed out to the rafts. She reached into her pocket and pulled out a smooth disc-like stone she’d had since her first summer as a camper. There were red streaks lining the rock, still as clear as the day she’d taken it from the waterfront. Jake’s distinct baritone voice continued to pull at her thoughts, trying to draw her attention back to the beach.
A wave of loss swept over her – that could’ve been her summer.
It should’ve been. Hanging out with other counselors, with kids. Laughing, teaching, playing. She had been so excited when the letter came to her house in February. Sitting in her living room with Bethany watching episodes of the Bachelor after school was their routine. Especially senior year when it felt like an actual chore to trudge through the day. There was no excitement anymore. She just wanted to do something meaningful. Life changing.
There were several thumping sounds, a crash, and then the front
door rattled open, “Hello?”
That would be mom. “We’re in the living room,” Breanna called
over the voices on the TV.
More crashing sounds, “Who’s we?”
Breanna glanced at Bethany curled up in a woolen blanket on the
couch. “B and B,” Breanna answered slowly, using the nickname they’d come up with for themselves in elementary school.
“Right, right.” There was a heavy thud as the door closed, yet the
clattering continued, “I’ve got supplies for supper fresh from the store. Could you put some of this stuff away?” She vanished almost as quickly as she appeared. Then Breanna leapt from the couch and began rummaging through the bags. After a moment, Bethany joined her, blanket wrapped firmly around her body. When her mother finally returned with the last of the groceries,
Breanna asked, “Is this today’s mail?” “Yes, I grabbed it on my way in.” Her mother slid a carton of milk and salad dressing into the fridge, “I think it’s mostly bills.”
“Exciting,” Bethany said sarcastically. Breanna gave her a small smirk, then riffled through the letters.
They were uninteresting, blank, white envelopes with stamped addresses and information. Suddenly, she let out a sharp squeal of excitement, the letters spilling onto the floor.
Her mother jumped, her hand flying to her chest, “Good God,
sweetie…don’t do that, you almost gave me a heart attack.” She bent to pick up the fallen letters. “What is it?”
“Did you win the lottery? Make sure to share some with me,”
Bethany said matter-of-factly.
Breanna didn’t respond. She couldn’t. She walked slowly, in a
daze into the living room, ignoring the drama emanating from the TV. She only had eyes for the letter clutched in her hands, with a return address emblazoned =with the words, OAK HILL BIBLE CAMP.
“Okay, seriously though, did you win the lottery? You’re acting
super weird,” Bethany said.
Breanna cleared her throat, “No, it’s…I got a…letter…”
“Yep, I can see that,” Bethany interrupted. She walked over to
Breanna, glancing over her shoulder, “Oak Hill, huh? You gonna open it?”
“I…yeah.” Breanna slid a trembling finger into the envelope and
tore it open. She pulled out several pieces of paper. She glanced at the first page.
“Dear Breanna, we are pleased to offer you a position on our
summer staff!” she exclaimed. She jumped into the air, landing on the couch with the letter pressed to her chest. She squirmed happily against the fabric. “I got it! Yes! I can’t believe it.”
“Breanna, may I see it please?” Her mother stood in the archway
at the edge of the kitchen, her arms folded in front of her.
Breanna felt her heart sink, “Mom, can we just –,”
“Let me see it.” Her face was stone, a rigid frown etched into her
head. Breanna sighed. She slowly walked over to her mother and PROSE: FICTION
handed her the letter. Her eyes surveyed the paper wordlessly before glancing up to meet Breanna’s.
“Honey, I thought we talked about this,” her mother began, “You
can’t give away your entire summer to play at camp. You’re going to college next year and Dad and I aren’t going to pay for everything. I thought you were going to work a job this summer.”
Breanna scowled, “This is a job, mom.”
“A real job, Bree, one that will help pay for college.” She shook her
head disdainfully, “I don’t want you to waste your summer.”
“I’m not going to, mom,” she snapped, “I’m going to help kids…I’ll
get to do something meaningful. I’ll get to…I don’t know, change lives. As a counselor, I’ll get to—,”
“Sweetie, it doesn’t say counselor. They’re giving you the position
of Camp Aid.” She held up the letter. There, in the middle of the page were the words, CAMP AID, in bright red letters.
Breanna deflated a bit. She looked at her mother, her eyes alight
with something that looked like triumph. She snatched the letter from her hands, “So what? So what if I’m Camp Aid? I can still make a difference. I can still do something that matters.”
“Bree,” her mom started.
“I’m going to work at camp. End of story.” Breanna stormed away,
racing up the stairs to her room, slamming the door. She sat crosslegged on her bed, her back pressed firmly against the wall. Her eyes slid unconsciously to the bright red letters on the paper still resting in her hands. There was a small knock at her door. Bethany poked her head into her room.
“Well that was…something.” She ran and jumped onto the bed
with Breanna. There was a second or two of nothing but springs creaking and breathing. “Look, don’t take this the wrong way, but…do you even know how much that camp pays for the summer?”
“I imagine that’s somewhere in here,” Breanna snapped, waving
Bethany sighed, “I know you had an awesome time there as a
kid…we both did…but, everybody leaves eventually…you can’t stay at PROSE: FICTION
camp forever.” Her fingers played with the frayed edge of one of the light blue pillows. “I’m gonna be de-tasseling this summer. I’m gonna spend several hours in the blistering heat, running through cornfields, sweating like crazy. It’s gonna suck…but I’ll get paid well for it.”
Breanna reached over and grabbed a rock from her dresser. It
was smooth and disc-shaped, with rust red streaks racing around the edges. An old camp souvenir from her first summer. She looked at Bethany, “I’ve seen what can happen at camp. I’ve experienced incredible things. I’ve seen counselors lead and teach. I want…I want to be a part of that.” Breanna sat up, her heart pounding, “I don’t want to just make money. I want to make a difference.”
Loud splashing jolted her out of her reverie. Breanna sighed – so
far the only difference she’d made seemed to be standing on a stupid dock. She shifted her feet, which had started heating up again in the intense sunlight. She thought, almost longingly, about Bethany, who’d no doubt started her job. She shook her head and turned her attention back to the waterfront. Jake’s cabin of boys was really going at it now. They were chasing Jake out to the far rafts, yelling and pushing wave after wave of water toward his receding form. She frowned. There was
one boy trailing behind the rest of the group. He was clearly part of the
group, but his swimming seemed lazy, or just limp. She watched him stop just before the edge of the docks and gaze out at the other side of the lake. His face was drawn in, a small frown growing, his eyebrows creasing together. He looked…lost. You and me both, pal, thought Breanna. The best summer of her life couldn’t end fast enough.
She backed out slowly, pressing a hand to her forehead, clenching her teeth to stop the stream of curses that threatened to erupt from her throat.
Here I am, Breanna thought as she scrubbed the bottom of the
toilet in the ladies room, just making a difference. Six weeks of the
“best summer of her life” were already gone and the only things she hard to reach places, dozens of little cuts and scrapes, and burning red skin thanks to her afternoon lifeguarding in the sun without any sunscreen. She tried pressing her arms against the cool linoleum floor ,but her throbbing flesh soon ate up any chill, forcing her to shift her
had to show for it were bruised knees and elbows from cleaning
body into more and more uncomfortable positions just to soothe the fire. She gave up any further attempts when she placed her arm on a wet portion of the floor and slipped, bashing her head into the side of the stall. She backed out slowly, pressing a hand to her forehead, clenching her teeth to stop the stream of curses that threatened to erupt from her throat.
“Everything okay in here?” Devin’s head poked into the bathroom
from the hallway, “Kate and I just finished the guys’ side.” He gave a quizzical look at her hand, which she quickly lowered to her side. “Do you need any help finishing?”
“No, I’m done,” she said a little too firmly. Devin’s eyebrow
practically flew off his face. He nodded slowly.
“Okay…well, I can give this room a once over, if you want to head
back with Kate.” He smiled, “I think we can call it a day.”
“Great, thanks.” She stood rubbing her sore knees, “Do you want
me to grab the supplies or…?”
“Nah, I’ll pick everything up.” She nodded her thanks, and made
her way to the door and out into the hallway. Kate was standing by the front door of the lodge, watching the sunset from the windows. They walked out the door and made their way down the boardwalk toward the girl’s cabin.
Kate stopped abruptly, “What’s going on?” She pointed down the
hill. Several staff members where splitting off running into the woods and towards the lake. One of them, Lacy, ran up the hill and stopped in front of them, panting slightly from her run.
“Kate, Breanna, we need your help.”
“What’s wrong?” Kate demanded.
“A camper took off from campfire,” Lacy wheezed, “Just…just
bolted as the cabins were…were getting there.” She took a few deep PROSE: FICTION
breaths, then continued, “We think he ran this way, toward the north end of camp. But he could’ve gone into the woods and taken any of the trails.”
“You’re sure it was a boy?” Kate asked.
“Uh-huh. His name’s Tyler…he’s one of Jake’s campers.” Lacy
pointed toward the forest on the far side of the lodge, “Can you guys come with me and search the trails? We have to hurry, the sun is setting, and it’s gonna be really hard to see anything in a few minutes.”
In one fluid motion, she bent down, grabbed the stone, and hurled it out onto the lake.
“Yeah, sure,” Breanna replied. Kate nodded vigorously. All three
of the girls took off towards the forest. They split off as soon as they
reached the edge, each going down a different trail. Breanna sprinted down the leftmost trail, her shoes spitting gravel with every step. She thought about where the kid might’ve gone. After a few seconds of sprinting, she had an idea. There was an old staff fire pit at the end
of the trail. Tyler might’ve just followed the trail right to it. She raced down the hill until she came to a clearing. Breanna stopped just shy of the edge of the fire pit. The weeds and bushes were wild and unruly, twisting and curling in a tangled mess. She listened closely, ignoring the whispered breeze and distant yells. After a few seconds, she was rewarded with a faint rustling sound further down the hill. She strode down the incline and winced as the branches cut her legs apart. She thought briefly of poison ivy.
There! The boy was hunched over by the water’s edge shaking. She
moved closer stopping a few feet away. “Tyler?” she said hesitantly. His head spun around and his watering eyes met hers. The boy from the lake. His face looked much as it did from earlier except now it was peppered with cuts. He must’ve tripped coming down the hill—there were still flecks of dirt mingling with his freckles. “Go away,” he hissed. His body tensed, a runner about to spring
from his post.
“Hey, Tyler, why don’t we head on back?” she asked. Nothing. He
continued to watch her as she crouched down by the shore. “Jake’s looking for you, bud,” she coaxed, “I know he’d be happy if…if you came back with me,” she finished somewhat lamely. His only response
was to hunch down even further, almost fading into the tangled grass and shadows. She racked her brains, trying to think of the right thing to say. Why wasn’t there an answer sheet with the perfect words for returning a lost camper to his cabin? She sat awkwardly on the beach wincing as rocks dug into her butt.
“Tyler, I know everyone’s having a blast at campfire. We could…”
She trailed off. Tyler was edging further away from her, ignoring her words. He wasn’t going to listen to anything she said, not if she was trying to catch him. Maybe, I don’t want to catch you, she thought suddenly. Her eyes flicked around the beach, landing on a smooth stone on the very edge of the water. In one fluid motion, she bent down, grabbed the stone, and hurled it out onto the lake. It skipped once off the surface before plunging into the darkness. Breanna shook her head in disgust. She grabbed another stone and chucked
it. Another singular skip. Breanna growled softly snatching up three more rocks. She held them loosely and one at a time she flung them as hard as she could over the lake’s surface. One skip. Two skips. One skip.
“Are you…supposed to do that?” Breanna looked over to see Tyler
leaning forward with a confused expression on his face. “Jake said I couldn’t throw rocks.”
Breanna smiled. “We can’t throw rocks at the beach…we might hit
someone. But now,” she gestured to the empty lake, “there’s no one here.”
“Oh.” Tyler slid forward a few inches until he was sitting right next
to the wet sand. He eyed the rocks longingly.
“Do you want to try skipping one?” Breanna held out her hand, a
new rock balanced on her palm. Tyler looked at her for a second, then PROSE: FICTION
snatched it from her hand. He stood and flicked the rock out over the lake. One, two, three, four. The rock sunk into the lake.
Breanna blinked, “Wow…you’ll have to show me how you did
“It’s not hard.” Tyler grabbed two more from the beach. “Wish I
could stay longer.”
To…skip rocks? Breanna inched closer to him, “You mean at
“Yeah. Tomorrow’s Friday. We have to leave Friday. I don’t want
to leave.” He threw the stones – four and five skips each. “I want to stay.”
“I know, but we can’t stay forever. Everybody,” Breanna smiled
sadly, “Everybody leaves camp eventually.” She looked up at Tyler’s dirt covered face. “Look, I know your parents will want to see you after a whole week.”
He frowned. “Yeah, I guess…”
“I know you have fun at camp, but it’s not the only place,” she said
encouragingly, “I’m sure there’s a ton of cool stuff you get to do at home. And,” she paused, glancing out over the water, “If you still miss camp…you can always come back.”
A rustling sound came from behind them. Breanna turned to see
Lacy and Kate emerge from the foliage and stop a few meters behind them. They were both panting, but when they saw her sitting with Tyler, they grinned and nodded at her. Lacy whispered something to Kate and took off again, running up the hill toward the rest of the camp. Breanna turned back toward Tyler, “Why don’t we each throw one more and then head back to campfire, huh? What do you think?”
Lacy bolted back to the fire pit, with Jake in tow. Jake looked
haggard but brightened when he saw Tyler. Their eyes met and Jake proffered his hand to him. Tyler glanced at it them promptly turned around reaching for yet another stone. He tossed it in his hand a few times before flicking it towards the island. It skimmed across the water – one, two, three, four, five skips. The ripples spread slowly but surely over the darkening water. Tyler got to his feet and brushed of they walked back up the hill toward Jake.
“Thank you Tyler,” she said. He muttered a reply. They met up
with Jake who gently grabbed his hand and led him back up the hill toward the cabins. He looked intently at Breanna as they strode up the hill. Thank you, he mouthed. Good thing her face was already burning
the dirt from the shore. Breanna hurriedly did the same and together
red from the sun, or he might’ve noticed her blush. She watched them disappear into the distance. She massaged her back and legs – they’d be sore tomorrow, but what else was new? She stopped suddenly, her hand feeling the back pocket of her pants. What was –?
The striped stone emerged from her back pocket. Her mouth
curled into a small smile as her eyes traced the familiar lines around the rock. Her hand moved to put it back into her pocket, but froze halfway. She glanced up at the lake, stretching out endlessly, dancing like fire in the dying sunlight. Suddenly, she ran toward the water and flung the stone as hard as she could. One, two, three times it glanced off the water before disappearing beneath the surface. She watched the ripples spread gently over the lake, marking the path where the stone had traveled. With a smile, she turned around and raced into the darkness, up the hill, back to camp.
Hands 1st Place Salveson Prose (Non-Fiction) Myriah Hacker A girl, she’s very young, and her legs are spread wide open, the outsides of her chubby baby-fat legs flush with carpet. No panties, fresh out of the bath, skin still warm, smells like cheap body wash. Her mom is carefully applying a thick white cream to an arcing scratch on the inside of the girl’s thigh. “You’re dangerous, kiddo,” her mom says. “What kind of kid falls out of a tree?” The little girl giggles, recalling the moment. Her mother sits her up and begins to brush and braid her wet hair until it falls AWARDS IN PROSE: NON-FICTION
down her back, nearly serpentine. The girl stays naked because she is very young and she is comfortable with her mother- and besides, it is summery outside, the sun cutting through the curtains and painting the room gold. Behind her mother, a man watches without comment. He watches very closely.
* * * He wouldn’t let her watch the Barbie movie and for that she is truly upset. Her mother said she would be able to watch the Barbie movie. She wants to cry but she knows that it wouldn’t be very grown up of her, especially because she is staying at the man’s mother’s house- the man would be very angry if she woke his mother. He gives the girl a glass of chocolate milk and sends her to bed. Later she wakes up to him at the foot of the bed. The room is completely dark and her pajamas are gone. * * * He is a frog of a man, a large, sprawling stomach settled below two ham-hocks for shoulders, a thick flab of neck and a face akin to a jowly pug on his square head. His hair is curly black and over-gelled. She remembers them being away one night- her mother and the man. A neighbor came to watch them and she remembered feeling so grown up because the neighbor brought over the movie Scary Movie 2 on DVD and it wasn’t at all scary but funny instead, and the actors cursed a lot. She remembers a confession written by her sister on a computer file meant for nobody to see, becomes a midnight visit to the police station with the neighbor that was watching
them. It all begins to make sense that night- the line of stuffed animals care-
fully ordered like soldiers guarding her sister’s bed each night, a silent plea. “Did he ever…?”
* * *
A flash of his hands, a memory that feels greasy black, as if he left greedy, roaming fingerprints, evidence of a crime. “No.”
* * * The man is sleeping in the living room. He is not supposed to be there at all but he is sleeping in the living room. The girl’s mother sleeps with him there. “I can hear them laughing,” the girl says. Her sister is sitting on the gossamer. “They’re not laughing,” her sister says back. “Go to sleep.” The girl glances at her sister’s face; her sister looks like she is going to cry.
* * * She moves away. She doesn’t see the man again. She begins middle school, then high school. She grows.
* * * The boy’s name is Gabe and he is plenty sweet and oodles smart. She likes him from the first time she meets him. They talk and they laugh and become very good friends, and when an inevitable high school heartbreak happens, he’s there with a trashy movie and a tip for how to freeze spi-
AWARDS IN PROSE: NON-FICTION
bottom bunk, the moonlight cresting her cheeks, white
ders. He doesn’t have any expectations but he does have a few hopes. His hands are round and a little clumsy- when he touches her face with them, a careful cradle, and she pulls back like his touch is venomous, recoils in something like disgust, he looks nothing short of crestfallen. He doesn’t push the subject. He takes out another can of compressed air and another spider meets its demise. There is a weighty silence. And she wants to scream her anger into a roiling, war torn sky, wants to feel claps of thunder like a heartbeat. Here is a boy she might have loved and she will not let him touch her. Cannot let him touch her. She says, “I’m sorry.” She does not say, “Your hands remind me of his.” “I partially appreciated the boldness and subtlety of the fictional technique of third person point of view to handle the painful autobiographical material, which creates both an eerie sense of distance and intimacy.” Judge: K.L. Cook, Associate Professor at Iowa State University, in Writing and the Environment MFA
Gibson Les Paul 2nd Place Salveson Prose (Non-Fiction) Sydney Sell
An electric guitar has curves like a woman. That was the first
thing I noticed when I got into rock music. Gibson, Fender, Ibanez, it doesn’t matter, they all have an hourglass shape, unless you get into the weird ones.
It’s a very ergonomic shape, it fits on your knee, comfortable on
the inside of the arm. It’s a pretty shape, the curves in the wood make it AWARDS IN PROSE: NON-FICTION
look round and soft, as opposed to flat and hard. The sound it makes is less soft, it’s loud, aggressive, sexual. Masculine. It’s masculine. Men play the guitar. Men like Joe Perry, Jimmy Page, Angus Young, Slash, and the list goes on. Rock n’ roll is a very “manly” style of music, with songs about sex, drugs, and money. But mostly sex, with women, of course.
Being a woman and being into this kind of music is a wild expe-
rience. Or maybe, being me is the wild experience. I haven’t figured it out yet. Either way, I’m aware that rock music is an electrified pile of misogynistic trash. I’ve listened to it since I was a baby. There exists a tape of me, at a little over a year old, jamming out the Beach Boys on my blanket in my parents’ living room. I’m not here to defend the likes of Aerosmith, Led Zeppelin, AC/DC, Guns n’ Roses, or even the Beach Boys.
A bunch of millionaire men don’t need some college girl to de-
fend them anyway. That’s what lawyers and rabid fans are for. I’m here to talk about how liking rock music as a woman, specifically a young woman, is weird. It’s weird because I keep getting the message that women and girls aren’t “supposed to like it”. It’s “not for us.” I understand why. It’s written by men, for other men, and most of it is about having sex with women. My mom calls some of it “dick music.” However, according to my mother, it’s not all “dick music.” Like the big hair power ballads of the mid-80s, those aren’t “dick
music” because they’re about romance, love, and heartbreak, and the sounds are softer, the tempo is slower, and synthesizers take over most of the melody. There’s a dichotomy that my mom has created, that I think a lot of other women recognize. It’s the difference between Don’t Want to Miss a Thing and Walk this Way. Both massive Aerosmith hits, but one is about a long-term relationship, and the other is about having sex with a cheerleader. One is “dick music”, and the other is an endearing love song. I think the idea is that women especially aren’t supposed to like the “dick music” variety of rock n’ roll. Ballads are acceptable, songs explicitly about sex are not. I like both. I figure, if it’s all trash, then it shouldn’t music” sympathizer or something otherwise dirty. Wearing band t-shirts that: a) you did not alter in some way to make it fashionable, or b) you did not inadvertently steal from a man is also a faux-pas. I have committed both cardinal sins of a female rock fan. I am a “dick music” sympathizer, and I wear ugly band t-shirts. While I’m in the business of confessing sins, it’s important to note that I am also a lesbian, which is the cardinal sin of being a woman in general. Being a lesbian gets you booted from society’s “real women club” and out into the street of “well, you’re not a man either.”
AWARDS IN PROSE: NON-FICTION
matter. It does matter though, because liking it marks you as a “dick
Being “not a man either”, I get why most women don’t like “dick music.” It’s degrading. If you think about it, the whole basis of songs like Walk this Way is women only being good for being young, pretty, and sexually available. Thinking about it reminds me of the first time I saw the music video for Mötley Crüe’s Girls, Girls, Girls. It opens with the guys from the band catcalling women outside a strip club, and the rest is watching the band take over the inside of the club and watching the, admittedly sexy, scantily-clad women dance. It’s a total male power fantasy, and the eyeliner and rhinestones were a thin disguise. Being a lesbian, I find women attractive, and I personally like the upbeat, edgy sound of hard rock. I, unfortunately, have a low tolerance for the musical stylings of Melissa Ethridge and other, mournful, acoustic,
soft music about being cheated on. Music by and for lesbians just doesn’t have the same kind of sexual energy to it, which puts me at the crossroads of “it’s okay to be attracted to women” and “it’s creepy and highly unethical to treat women like sex objects.” Not that I planned on treating other women like sex objects anyway, but I worry about falling into that line of thinking. I genuinely enjoy the music that I listen to. I get suckered into the whole power fantasy aspect of it, putting myself mentally in the places of the men singing the songs. It’s a nice escape from being “not a man either” because I’m not interested in getting my membership to the “real girl club” back. I don’t have the patience for the makeup and the see-through shirts affectionately called tissue tees. AWARDS IN PROSE: NON-FICTION
But, even when I get wrapped up in my music, I see how the guitars are shaped like women. I hear men calling them “she” too, like women are inanimate objects to be used for fun and profit. It reminds me that I’m “not a man either”, and that no matter how much I’m into my little rock n’ roll fantasy; I don’t actually have that power. I can’t even borrow some of that power, I’m just listening to it.
“‘The joy and boldness of this piece delighted me, as did the deconstruction of gender and sexual stereotypes.”
Judge: K.L. Cook, Associate Professor at Iowa State University, in Writing and the Environment MFA
Independence Day Anonymous A brief introduction to a larger work of creative nonfiction about life in the author’s home-country. Everyone is still in expectation. A mild, but assertive bang rings in my ears, and tiny lights shoot up with force from what seems to be a speckle in the sky. They disperse in the air, making upside-down parabolas and disappearing in their fall. In a few minutes the lights are gone. Strikes of smoke make a disturbing spider-web on the face of the distant darkness. The crowd starts moving, scattering like the little lights. Here, every working in a government sponsored place is here. Six hours of standing in perfect rows and forceful cheering are over. People’s faces wear a tired, yet relieved expression. I lower my tired arm as the green little flag I am holding flutters mildly in its descent. I lift my long red velvet dress to help me widen my stride. The filming is done, which means we can wear our jackets,
big celebration or event ends with fireworks. Teachers, doctors, anyone
scarves, gloves, and hats. That helps a lot in December. I have to get home. The cars passing by are already full of people in dresses or tuxedos. There are no taxis when you need them. Well, to their defense, sensible people sit in front of the TV at 11 p.m. It is warm at home; my reheated dinner is waiting for me. I missed the new episode of Supernatural, though. Funny how missing my favorite show is the thing that actually makes me angry at the whole absurdity of life here. I eat while Dad watches the news. The reporter proudly announces that the President wrote yet another “wisest book on earth.” I wonder if aweird festive ritual will be held for this occasion also. My feet grow more sore as I realize the high probability of that happening. Anything for the leader! Our speckle, the beginning and end of all in this country.
The Valentine’s Day Party: a Memoir Barb Johnson
The year was 1935. Our country was in the Depression Era. I was four years old and my sister Betty was six. My parents and Betty and I had been living in our first rental home in Mahnomen, Minnesota, for about a year. The major influences in my four years of life had been my parents, my sister Betty, and an occasional neighborhood playmate. That was about to change--I was set to experience the outside world --I was going to visit school with my sister! Excited and full of anticipation, I could never have imagined that it would be anything less than wonderful. Nor
could I have guessed that I would have an experience the impact of which would take me until just recently to fully understand. Betty, now a first grader, was a sturdily built little girl, an extrovert, with brown hair and hazel eyes. In contrast, I was thin and pale, blueeyed with blond hair which was blunt-cut in a bob, an introvert, shy, sensitive. Betty would often bring home papers and books from school to practice reading. I couldn’t wait until I “got big” so I could go to school and learn to read. Then in early February, Betty’s teacher announced that the first graders were going to have a Valentine’s party and they could bring a younger brother or sister. I was invited to go to school with my big sister! We lived only a block from the school building. I had been intrigued with it for a long time—a huge, brick three-story building with lots of windows and three wide cement steps leading up to double doors that had push-down bars for handles. Inside those doors there was a huge staircase with worn, wooden steps, shabby from years of use—space for many students to enter or leave at the same time. February 14 finally arrived! Mother sent us out the door together, hand in hand as much as thick mittens allowed, trudging up the snowy sidewalk in our overshoes. We wore brown stockings bulging in wrinkles over our long underwear. Our hand-me-down coats covered our home-
made dresses, sewn out of colorful print flour sacks. Our mittens were secured by a knit cord through the sleeves of our coats so we wouldn’t lose them, and knit caps snugly covered our ears. Sometimes my rival, but today my protector, my sister Betty led me up the stairs of the school building, through the double doors, then across the hall into the first-grade classroom. We hung up our coats on hooks in the long coat hall, with our mittens hanging out the sleeves, then tucked our caps into one sleeve and placed our overshoes on the floor below our coats. Full of excitement and anticipation, yet a bit shy, I was wide-eyed as I entered the world of my big sister’s classroom. The teacher’s desk was over to one side in the front, and there were five rows of wooden desks with five desks in each row, each one fastened on long wooden slats with curlicue wrought iron braces, keeping them desks had lift-up covers, so you could store books and papers and pencils and colors inside. There were blackboards on the front wall and on one side wall of the room, windows on one side, and bulletin boards on the back wall, filled with colorful pictures and art work created by the students. It was quite wonderful to my four-year-old eyes. Betty sat down in her desk and motioned me to sit beside her. There
uniformly apart. Betty’s desk was near the back in the second row. The
was much activity with first-graders getting settled. Then a bell rang and everyone quieted down. The teacher was coming towards us. She looked so tall. She was not smiling. She was saying something to my sister: “Betty, you were not supposed to bring your sister until the party this afternoon.” My heart sank and felt like a heavy weight in the pit of my stomach. A sick feeling washed over me. I wasn’t supposed to be here. I wanted to disappear but couldn’t. My tears were very close to the surface. Betty’s shoulders sagged, too, and she looked wide-eyed—what had just happened? Either the first-grade teacher saw my reaction that day or perhaps she was just being practical. How could she send a four-year-old child home alone—we had no phones to call mom. So she kindly said, “It is okay. Your sister can sit in the chairs at the back of the room.”
And so I was allowed to stay all day in the place where some day I, too, would learn to read and to write cursive like the Palmer Method writing charts that lined the walls above the blackboards, and would be called on by the teacher to read aloud or to answer questions. I don’t remember the Valentine’s Day party at all. But I clearly remember the sinking feeling of being where I was not supposed to be on that particular February day. A child with a different temperament may well have said, “Oops, we goofed. That is funny. What do we do now?” But I was a tender-hearted pleaser and believed I had displeased someone who in my mind outranked even my mother. Because I tried so hard to be good, it was crushing to make a mistake. So my first foray into the world without the protection of my parents
began with high expectation and innocence and ended in a huge letdown, one that I didn’t quite understand. Today, eighty years later, we are all living in a world that is much more “psychological.” My daughter telephones daily just to chat. She asks me about my writing class and what memories I am recording now. When I tell her about the valentine’s day visit to school, she identifies the feelings I experienced: “Mom, that is shame. You should listen to the TED talk by a woman named Brene’ Brown on the internet. Just google it.” And so I did. It was a revelation to me. Brene’ Brown’s research shows that everyone experiences shame at various times of life--the feeling that one is trapped and cannot get away and does not measure up—is not good enough. She points out that shame grows when there is secrecy, silence, and judgment, and that the best antidote to shame is empathy. She concludes that we need to identify shame as the “swampland” it is and “put on our galoshes and wade through it and get to the other side.” In looking back, I recognize that the secrecy and silence and judgment that feed shame and help it grow were in my own tender heart because I did not talk about my feelings and receive the healing powers of empathy. The sneaky voice of Shame has spoken to me many times since that
day when I was four years old, and I wasnâ€™t informed enough until recently to call him by name. Because I recognize him, he no longer has the same power over me. I now smile upon four-year-old Barbara and tell her it was a little misunderstanding, that I am sorry it happened to her, but that she is fine just the way she is. In spite of that deflating experience on my first visit to school, I continued to look forward to the day when I could go to kindergarten and be a student day after day, year after year, for years to come. In fact, I
became a teacher.
AWARDS IN ART
1st Place Salveson Art Gretchen Burnette
“The tonal range used in this drawing makes it come alive. The subtle value shifts between highlights and shadows along with the artist’s skill in rendering, just demand that I spend the time to appreciate and unpack this piece. The drawing feels dimensional.” Phil Scorza, Chair of Art and Design Department, Northwestern College
Black Eyed Susan
AWARDS IN ART
2nd Place Salveson Art Lauren Babcock
â€œThe surreal imagery in this drawing is somewhat arresting, especially the accurate anatomical nature of the eye. The larger than life size of this composition is accentuated by the flower petals that cannot be contained within the confines of the paper.â€? Phil Scorza, Chair of Art and Design Department, Northwestern College
Lures, Bobbers, and Walleye
AWARDS IN ART
Honorable Mention Salveson Art Andrew May
â€œThere is a certain amount of whimsy that attracts me to this piece. As I continue to examine the composition, the technical quality of the line work and subtle color shifts it contains effectively balances the composition. Very intricate.â€? Phil Scorza, Chair of Art and Design Department, Northwestern College
Spalted Maple Bowl
Jennifer “Knox” on Wood:
Interviewers: Jon Happel & Donnica Keeling
Jon Happel: So how did you first get into writing? Jennifer Knox: I started out as a theater and visual arts major in college…everything but poetry, really. I made a lot of drawings that I began to write on, and the writing compelled me more than the drawings I was making. Add the fact that I never showed up to rehearsals, and this seemed like something I could do…a puzzle only I could solve. I transferred from Alfred University to the University of Iowa, and I learned everything. It just clicked. JH: You essentially started out doing everything but writing? JK: Yes. I did like theatre at first. I wrote a lot of monologues for theatre, and that was what first sparked my interest. I have met a lot of theatre people who have become poets, and their avenue in was writing monologues. JH: Was poetry the thing you focused on before college? JK: No. Not at all. In my high school we never had a single poetry class so I didn’t really know that the things that I were writing were poems! It was purely instinctual. Being able to share what I had written in various competitions or with friends.
JH: Were there poets that drew your eye, though? Did you find any poets you resonated with? JK: I’d say the first poet that really caught my attention was Lucille Clifton…”A Day Mama and I Killed the Roaches.” James Tate was another big one. I attended a reading of his and it was a large crowd. I sat and listened and the entire audience was laughing. I had no idea poetry could be like that. Wallace Stevens has had an enormous impact on how I write. Richard Hugo. The older I get the more I love Anne Sexton. Those poets continue to inspire me. I’m privileged to be a part of that community because there are so many good poets. JH: You’ve drawn inspiration from these poets but how do you go about writing new pieces? that day, I’m dead in the water. Writing poems for me is a physical process…it’s making something. If I already know what’s going to happen in the piece, I’m dead in the water. If I have a to-do list for later that day, my brain says, “Why are you sitting there? Why don’t you just go to the to-do list?” If those things start to intrude, I have to
JK: I get up at 4:30 because if I already know what I’m going to do
say, “Get out.” I want to write before the world wakes up. JH: So you don’t always know how writing a poem is going to go? JK: Writing is a lot like sex. If you already know what’s going to happen, why are you doing it? You do it for the experience, for the process. In that why it’s kinda selfish. You do have to think about the person on the other end. JH: You also teach at Iowa State University. Was that a natural addition to writing? How did that come about? JK: I moved to a small town outside of Ames. One thing that I had wanted to do that I couldn’t do in New York was teach. I wouldn’t have been able to afford it. As soon as I got to Ames, I knew I wanted to teach and teach poetry writing. The majority of what I’ve taught has been business communications and technical communications both of
which have been incredible. I have to approach it in a similar way to poetry: we want to think about the person at the other end, we want to generate interest in a reader. You should learn something while you write it. It’s about connecting. Communication. Donnica Keeling: Why ISU and not the school you went to? JK: I’d say my “in route” to teaching at ISU was the communication experience that I had. After I went to NYU for my MFA, there wasn’t really a teaching position, so I went into the communications field for about 20 years. And honestly, it was great because it was very similar to what I wanted to do with poetry. Getting someone to read to the bottom of a memo is an enormous accomplishment…getting someone to read to the bottom of a poem is an enormous accomplishment. We talk about the same stuff in business and technical communications GUEST AUTHOR
that we do in poetry. It’s entirely the same skill. I chose to teach at Iowa State because I could, if that makes sense. It’s been a lot of fun! JH: In your work, humor is fairly evident. Is that something you try to do with your poems often? JK: If I start out with a funny phrase or a funny idea that I want to explore, then yes I do. Usually though, I don’t. It just happens. What you see happening in a lot of my poems is the incongruity theory… you set an expectation and when it falls short, that’s when the humor happens. I think that when people think of poetry or when they read it, they expect a lofty, elevated piece. So when they read poems in which that doesn’t happen, already their expectations are broken so it feels funny. JH: What in your opinion makes a good poem? What do you look for? JK: I try to make every one different. I try to surprise myself. When an opportunity comes in the process of writing it where I can risk revealing myself, I want to go for it, versus I’m going to turn away and do the thing I always do. My favorite poems that I’ve written are not generally other people’s favorite poems, but I am aware of
the process I went through writing them. Even if they are colossal
failures, boy that failure was fun! With other people’s work I don’t think there is one set of criteria for what makes a great poem. When a poem resonates with me is when it passes the “truth test.” The writer is being honest, and I can tell there is truth in the words. Of course, there are a million different ways to convey that truth, though. JH: Is it safe to say that you look for honesty in poems even it’s a hard truth to acknowledge? JK: Poetry that I’m not going to pick up twice is stuff that is just creating a brand for the poet. “I’m so smart, I’m so sensitive, I’m so etc.” I’m immediately distrustful of that speaker. I lean into poetry that risks…poetry that shows that one doesn’t know everything. JH: Aside from poetry and teaching, what do you like to do? JK: My husband and I have a small company called Saltlickers. GUEST AUTHOR
We make herb and spice infused seasoning salts. How’s that for a complete 180? And each one is like a little poem! It’s something I do in the down time. And as a poet, imagine someone coming up to you and saying, “That poem was the most amazing thing I have ever read!” That’s the kind of feedback we get with these seasonings…very unusual! And it’s for the people who don’t really understand or enjoy poetry in general…I have something for them as well. JH: What advice do you have for new writers? JK: The creative process of writing, where you’re getting it out on the page, is completely different than the editing process. They come from different parts of the brain. Completely different. Let the creative process happen before you start picking it apart. And feel free to look stupid. DK: Last thing…why the covers? JK: That’s my good friend Charles Browning. The cover for my first book is one of his paintings called “Dumbass.” It’s a man casually strolling off a cliff and a little rabbit is behind him going, “NO!” I loved it. I think the thing we have in common is…and I’m making this
term up…is hyper-Americanism. Hyper realistic Americanism. In my poems I like to use language and structure that people are familiar with. I like to write in a style that people can read – he paints in a style that people can see. Yet it’s incredibly weird. We’re very much in sync that way. JH: Well, thank you very much for your time! JK: My pleasure!
& Jon Happel
A Poem by Jennifer Knox
“Yowl of the Obese Spaniel” I ran away for three days once so don’t think sleeping on sheets or eating the fat off steaks has kept me soft. This ol’ boy knows what’s out there: broken glass, bigger dogs with hair like weeds, bugs that pinch. Eesh. But it’s not sharp stuff that keeps me off the baby teetering by, soggy graham floppy in hand. It’s then, old as I am, I become something else, something I’ve always been, maybe—a bad thing who’d go all the way for a cookie. And I could kick myself for shame. Not for shame at the thought (I know I could take that kid down) but shame for returning their smiles like a big, fat, automatic, tailwagging nitwit—and for meaning it in every loose tooth in my mouth—not knowing why, only knowing—jeez!—
I’m never gonna have sex, I’d sure like to kill something.
A Journey of Courage
Up to No Good
Saint Barbara by Germain Pilon, c. 1580-1585
Full Steam Ahead
Bridge over Muddled Waters
Flowers against the Stormy Sky
Winter in Forest City
One Snowy Morning
Contributors Cathleen Bascom is an Assistant Professor of Religion and Philosophy at Waldorf. After nearly thirty years as an Episcopal priest, she has returned to an early love of writing and literature and is finishing a 3-year MFA in Creative Writing and the Environment at Iowa State University. She likes to ski, walk, and support prairie restoration efforts. Marla Britton-Johnson is an Assistant Professor of Theatre at Waldorf, with a B.A. in Theatre and Music from Rocky Mountain College, an M.A. in Dramatic Literature from Western Washington University, and a Ph.D. in Fine Arts from Texas Tech University, where she previously taught and advised students. Her busy household includes her husband Ryan, three children (Kellan, Rowan, and Fiona), and two dogs. Ryan Clark is an Assistant Professor of Creative Writing at Waldorf. He writes much of his poetry using a unique method of homophonic translation and is particularly interested in how poetry responds to violence and subjugation. His poetry has appeared in such journals as Smoking Glue Gun, Tenderloin, Found Poetry Review, and Aufgabe. His first book, How I Pitched the First Curve, is forthcoming from Lit Fest Press. Kenolson Collin is a sophomore, majoring in business. He is originally from Port-au-Prince Haiti and has been living in Orlando, Florida since 2009. He enjoys playing the piano, working in Photoshop, Premiere Pro, and After Effects. He is also a soccer player for Waldorf. MacKenzie Droessler is a junior, studying Secondary English Education. She is originally from Buffalo Center, Iowa. She enjoys spending her time with family, friends and helping others. In addition, she enjoys crafts, writing, drawing and taking pictures. Zabdiel Flores is a sophomore, majoring in Business and Finance and minoring in Communications. He was born and raised in Guadalajara, Mexico and finds pleasure in taking pictures and playing golf for the Warriors.
Julienne Friday is a Professor of Sociology and Psychology at Waldorf University. In addition to her teaching responsibilities, she also builds renaissance-era musical instruments such as harps, hammered dulcimers, and bowed psalteries. She has displayed her artwork at the MacNider Museum; Vesterheim Museum; The Museum of Danish History; and the Kalona Quilt Museum.
Myriah Hacker is a sophomore from Denison, Iowa. She is majoring in Creative Writing and minoring in Music and Theatre. She likes reading books about stars making people feel stuff, and if amortentia was a real thing, she would smell bittersweet chocolate, mild spring tulips, and a brand new eyeshadow palette. Brena Hamilton is a junior at Newman Catholic High School. She is involved in writing club, band, speech, volleyball, and Youth For Christ. She also has recently been inducted into the National Honor Society and Phi Beta Kappa. Besides writing historical romances, Brena also enjoys reading, hiking, biking and spending time with friends and family. DeAnn Hanna is the Assistant Director of Online Financial Aid for Waldorf University. In her free time, she serves Forest City as an Emergency Medical Technician and Ambulance Driver. She spends a great deal of time in nature, looking for ways that she can use photography to capture and represent nature in its purest state. Jonathan Happel is a senior from Forest City, Iowa, majoring in Creative Writing. When he’s not writing, he enjoys reading, singing, leading worship, and playing the piano. Matthew Scott Harris attends to his newly adopted regimen of writing about the mundane, ridiculous or serious. He says, “my most urgent task constitutes locating an alternative place to live. Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania does aesthetically, culturally and ethnically appeal, BUT the cost of living does not appeal. Many earlier years of my moderate lifetime have been afflicted with debilitating psychic torment. The severe sinusoidal spikes of anxiety are currently ameliorated with prescription pharmacological medications.” Megan Haugen is a freshman from Forest City, Iowa, majoring in Creative Writing and Business. She enjoys crocheting in her free time, and her favorite color is Orange. Nick Heimerman is a senior at Waldorf University. He is majoring in Communications with a track in Graphic Design. Nick holds many occupations on campus such as: Vice President of Alpha Chi, Director of Music for KZOW, Editor of the Waldorf Lobbyist newspaper and he is also the captain of the bowling team. In his free time he loves hanging out with his team and sitting down making edits on this book with Tim. Diana Humble is a freshman from Stewartville, Minnesota. She’s currently triple majoring in Creative Writing, Communications, and English at Waldorf University. When not slaving over her majors, she’s inducing
early arthritis by virtue of her Guitar Hero addiction. Barbara Johnson is a retired business education teacher, having taught at Forest City High School for 28 years. She enjoys taking art and writing classes at Waldorf University. Favorite activities include: drawing with oil pastels on paper and writing memoirs of her childhood in the Great Depression Era. Donnica Keeling is a sophomore, majoring in Creative Writing and minoring in Communications. When she isn’t writing, she is outside with her nieces and nephew, teaching them new games. Maggie Kretzmann is a junior at Waldorf University. She is majoring in Communications with a track in Graphic Design, and is invovled in the Waldorf Choir. Maggie lives in Radcliffe, Iowa, and loves taking pictures in her free time. Marcus Lopez is a sophomore transfer, majoring in Business-Marketing. He was born and raised in Wilmington, Delaware and is a football player for the Warriors. Andrew May is a junior, majoring in Communications with an emphasis in Digital Media and Graphic Design and an Art Minor. He is from Forest City, Iowa and enjoys making computer generated artwork, drawing, painting, film making, designing graphics, playing video games, and reading the Bible. His tools of choice would be paper, pencils, pens, charcoal, computer, and acrylic paint. Erisha Menon is a junior, majoring in Communications with an emphasis in Digital Media, Journalism, Public Relations, and Graphic Design. She is a Malaysian-born urbanite, and she is passionate about music, singing, and exploring. Haley Moklestad is a junior, majoring in Communications with an emphasis in Graphic Design and achieving an Art minor. She is from Forest City, Iowa and when she’s not drawing or painting, she is living life to its fullest with her friends! Sam Morrison is a senior at Waldorf University, working on a major in Vocal Performance with a minor in Creative Writing. He would like to pursue a career in teaching music or English. Jeremy Navarro is a junior, double-majoring in Biology and Creative Writing from Prescott, Wisconsin. When he isn’t in class, he is either
tutoring in the Writing Center, working in the Waldorf Library, or lacing up his skates for the Warriors Hockey Team. Joy M. Newcom lives in Forest City and appreciates the opportunity to develop her writing abilities alongside skilled writers in Waldorf Universityâ€™s creative writing program. Her favorite genres: non-fiction, poetry, and musical theatre. Saheed Olaosebikan is a sophomore, majoring in Criminal Justice and minoring in Psychology. He is from Lagos, Nigeria, and is also a football player for the Waldorf University football team. He enjoys life. Jaci Olson is a senior, majoring in English with a minor in Communications. She is originally from Pomeroy, Iowa. In addition to writing, she enjoys reading and listening to music. Elizabeth Peters is a sophomore, majoring in Creative Writing and minoring in Psychology. She has lived in Iowa her entire life, and writing is one of her favorite hobbies, along with reading for enjoyment. Nicholas Ray is a junior transfer, majoring in Cellular and Molecular Biology. He is originally from San Diego, California, and when he is not in the lab or having his head in the books, he is on the baseball diamond, continuing his athletic career with the Warriors. Isabelle Rothbauer is a senior, majoring in English and minoring in Creative Writing. In her spare time, she enjoys watching Americaâ€™s Next Top Model, Painting, and eating sushi. She plans to attend culinary school for her next journey. Carlos Ruiz is a faculty/staff member in the Communications department at Waldorf University. When he is not taking photographs, he is found writing film scripts and working in the film industry, where he is known professionally as Charlie Gandez. Cassie Ruud is a staff member and 2016 graduate of Waldorf University. Aside from her passion for photography, she also enjoys being of help to others, singing, and weight lifting. Brian Shariffi is a senior from Ontario, California. He went into the Wellness major and became a part of the soccer team his freshman year. He got into drawing by listening to music and drawing out the lyrics to pair visual images with his favorite songs. Tina Somchit is a senior, majoring in Communications. She believes
in designs that can complement art, mathematics, and science together. Currently, she is also into environmental issues, and enjoys using recycled objects to express the concern through her artwork. She will be continuing her education by attending a Master’s program in Architecture. Darien Walsh is a senior, from Fort Dodge, Iowa, who majors in Communications focusing on Journalism. She enjoys traveling and interacting with different cultures, reading, playing the tuba, trumpet, and piano, and swing dancing with her fiance. Abbie Wells is a senior, double-majoring in Theatre Performance and Playwriting with a minor in Communications. Apart from writing, she loves to act and sing her heart out on the stage. Kaytlin Workman is an alumnus of Waldorf University (class of 2016). She is from Mahomet, Illinois, and she holds a love for music, theatre, her friends and family, and of course her two cats, Bear and Flash. Ruth Worrell is a sophomore, majoring in Secondary English Education and minoring in Creative Writing. She is originally from Denison, Iowa. In her free time, she enjoys hanging out with family. Mandi Wright is a sophomore at Waldorf University. Coming from South Dakota, she always had a great love for writing, which she now can pursue with her Creative Writing major. Besides writing, Mandi likes to take walks in the forest, listen to her favorite band, and work at Taco Jerry’s. Luke Zacharias is a senior from Cologne, Minnesota. This is the second year Luke’s photography is appearing in the Waldorf Literary Review. He is grateful for the opportunity to share his passion for photography with those who pick up this edition. Other contributors include: Ryan Fischer Courtney Lewis Ann Rosenblatt
Produced annually, Waldorf Literary Review endeavors to further the intellectual and artistic conversation at Waldorf University by providin...
Published on Apr 1, 2018
Produced annually, Waldorf Literary Review endeavors to further the intellectual and artistic conversation at Waldorf University by providin...