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janus


JANUS a magazine of literature and arts ____________________ volume 46 winter 2010-11 ____________________

The Williston Northampton School Easthampton, Massachusetts


janus staff editors: Katherine Tallman Nadine Choe Emily McHugh Pankti Dalal Nick Brady Devon Greenwood Jilly Lim Rachel Deena cover photograph: Birds by Jill Grant faculty advisor: Sarah Sawyer


The Prepared, a story by Henry Lombino Boats, a photograph by Emily McHugh Deserts, a story by Katherine Tallman ‘11 Joy, a photograph by Jill Grant ‘11 Bucky, a photograph by Emily McHugh Hot and Cold, a story by Rae Underberg Lake, a photograph by Jill Grant ‘11

contents

Infatuation, a poem by Talya Wintman


The Prepared I remember my father well; he appears in my mind every day. He was a military man with glittering stars on his broad chest. With his straight tall back, he towered above my childhood, directing it like a mighty god. He would often say, “Son, there are two types of people in the world. Those who are prepared and those who are not. (He would never use contractions, not even when speaking. “It shows laziness and tiredness,” he said when I asked him about it, drawing himself up high. “A true man should be able to communicate without using the language of ruffians.” I was eight at the time and had no idea what “ruffian” meant, but I always envisioned it to be a great dumb dog until I had the sense to look up its meaning in the school dictionary.) “Some people will succeed in the world and others will not. Who do you think will succeed in this cold world of ours, Joseph?” Tiredly, for I had heard this speech before, I would say, “The prepared.” “That is right, lad. The organized and prepared. I remember when I was in battle and my fellow soldier's rifle was jammed because ...” This speech would go on for about fifteen minutes and would always be repetitive, boring, and somehow related to a recent shortcoming of mine. Yet the message was engraved into my mind and has brought me to be what I am now, a chief officer at Scotland Yard. Now I have a silver badge in my pocket. Now I too talk sharply and swiftly, with a deep voice. Now I too am prepared. Which brings me to my difficult task today. In front of me are four people in a line: a boy named Arthur, a girl named Bella, and a man and wife named Benjamin and Selma Markly. As I look them over, my mind subconsciously goes to my father. “Those who are prepared succeed.” The young man Arthur is at ease, confident, his eyes full of humor and his smile framed by long blond hair. This man is ready. I take a liking to him, with reservation, and give him a smile. He smiles and nods back. We are now acquainted. The second is a little dark-haired girl who looks like she is about eight years of age. Bella her name is, I remember from the report. As I pass her by she trips and falls forward onto my leg. Clumsy girl. I stand her back up without much interest. She is too young and too naive to be here in this line of potential murderers. I will have the boys let her go on her way after the paperwork is filed. The last two are man and wife, the Marklys, staring forward without remorse or care. The man is well-built but with ragged clothes that have been patched and customized to his peculiar fashion. He reminds me of a character from the book Oliver Twist, which I read as a child. Bill Sykes, the master thief. Same eyes. Same stance. Same contempt for the world around him. I mark him in my mind as my main suspect.


The wife seems determined and steadfast, but as I near her I see her look away. Suspicious. Perhaps her husband confided in her the murder but forced her not to tell? He is more like the fictitious Sykes than I thought. I step back and admire my handiwork. Everyone is lined up, organized, their personalities sorted like good and bad apples into different barrels. And one of them, probably that Sykes character, is the murderer. All figured out by simple investigation. My father would be proud of me, I think, as I clap loudly for their attention. --What a disgusting man this is, I think as he marches down the line breathing on our faces. A regular vulture he is, just like the rest of 'um. My husband, Ben, would never do something like 'cuse some peaceful persons of murder. No sirree he's a right fine gentleman, my Ben is. I told 'em that when they first arrested us at me pie shop. And me, they think a poor soul like me would lay a hand on someone. I never hurt a fly in my life, unless you count those ungrateful runts that run around dirty in me shop. Eatin' 'n never payin', they do. Poor me tryin' to keep everything good and tidy, and they come and mess it all up. I see one of 'em down there, that little girl. Dirty bugger. Bet she murdered the man for the ten piece in 'is pocket. Hope she gets the drop 'n not me or my Ben. That would be unjust. --So this is Captain Blackovitch, I think, as the man that my buddies at the bar always tell me about walks by and glares. He's locked away a good many of my friends. Figures he's now tryin' to get me for this one. My buddies warned me about this fellow. After all, I am wanted for murder. I killed a man who threatened to bring my gambling debt to the police. After that my friends, also on the run for robbin' and such, told me about Black Joe. Well, he can't get me for this one, 'cause I didn't do it. I may got blood on my hands, and I don't need that looked into much, but I ain't killed this guy. 'Parently he was someone important. Rich perhaps. I should find the address and take a few buddies and go rob the empty place when I'm outta here and Selma isn't lookin'. That'll pay the bills well enough. London's a hard place to live in, with vultures like Black Joe roamin' the streets. --Whata fool this guy is. Probs he'll let me go in a heartbeat. Seems like a nice gent, this officer is. Seems a bit stiff. That's no way to live in London, with rules and stuff. You gotta bend 'um to your likin'. I may be only twelve, but I know how it works in these parts. I gotta do what I can. Here he comes now. Ok, now like my dear mum, rest in peace, taught me. Stumble. Fall forward onto his leg. Hand 'n pocket and bingo. Now look. Picks me up like a true man. Wonder what e'll think when he finds his wallet missing. Feels nice in my hand. Probs leather. Could get a nice price for it down on Fleet Street from Bandy. He always gives me good prices on the stuff I steal. Hope I don't run into trouble with Mrs. Markly down there. Look at 'er eyin' me, the witch. She's beat


me out of 'er shop many times with that roller of 'ers. She probs did this murder. That or 'er shady gamblin' husband. Wonder if she even knows he gambles. Probs not. Thinks he's an angel. She might get a nasty surprise soon. --Here's the Captain, stepping: 1 – 2 – 3 – 4. Dancin'. Dancin' 'n walkin'. I smile at the thought. Oh look. He thinks I'm smiling at him. Ha ha. Funny. Why am I here? Oh yeah. Some guy. That guy. Guy that took my girl. Who? That guy. Guy that's dead. Guy with a knife in his heart. My knife. Breaks his heart. Just like he broke mine. Mine? My heart? Me? Who is me? Henry Lombino


Emily McHugh


Deserts The quesadillas came late. When they finally did arrive the Navajo boy who served them whispered a quick “sorry.” “It’s fine,” Winnie said softly. These were the first words she had spoken in an hour. Paul tried to have a conversation with the boy. They spoke for a minute, but then the boy smiled and said that he’d love to talk more, but he was needed in the kitchen. Winnie was glad when the boy left. He was a nice kid, but all of the silence of the last hour had only made her long for more solitude. As she waited for Paul to finish his quesadilla she watched all of the Navajo families eating dinner and smiled, but made sure not look anyone in the eye. This was hard to do since all of the families were staring at her and Paul, the only tourists at this run-down restaurant. Paul ate his meal slowly and Winnie became impatient, but she didn’t tell him so. When Paul finally finished his quesadilla he looked over at Winnie grinned and left a seven dollar tip on the table. They walked out of the restaurant and into their camper. There was a dust storm outside, so Winnie wrapped her scarf around her face to keep the dust from getting in her eyes. Paul didn’t notice the conditions; he kept the door of their camper wide open when they were inside and let all of the dust get on their luggage. He rummaged through the dusty baggage looking for a bandana. “Can we please get going?” Winnie asked nervously. The sand was loose and the camper had begun to skid. Winnie felt sick. “I’ll be ready in a minute,” Paul said as he threw the clothing in his bag on the floor. When Paul and Winnie arrived at their campsite the sky had become dark. The heat of the afternoon had pitched to cold. Winnie put on her grandmother’s Norwegian sweater and then set up a chair outside their camper. Paul went for a walk around the campsite. Winnie sat in the fold-out chair and looked at the land outside her. The desert was empty; she felt alone. Winnie didn’t mind being by herself, but she preferred to be in enclosed spaces. She liked rooms without windows and closed doors as long she was the only person inside. The expansive desert frightened her. Paul disagreed; he loved being outside. When they went to college together Winnie would always see him lying in the grass talking to whoever passed him by. Winnie always made sure to duck her head down low when passed him, that way he wouldn’t try to talk to her. However, she couldn’t avoid him forever and soon he was following her on campus offering to carry her books as she walked


to her next class and trying to engage her in a conversation. Winnie was secretly flattered and two years later they were sharing a camper in the middle of the Arizona Desert. Winnie and Paul had decided to drive across the country to, as Paul put it, “get to know the land.” They were doing what every generation before them had done, yet when they first began to drive they felt as though they were discovering an uncharted territory. It had been three months since they had first begun their drive, and Winnie had begun to suspect that there was no destination. Each day Paul forgot to pull out a map and he would end up driving them farther into the deserts of the Southwest. They were driving to bide time and distract themselves from the fact that one day they would have to return home. Winnie bent down and opened up her thermos. The cold aluminum on the outside kept the soup inside warm. She put the thermos close to her and felt the steam rise to her chest, but within a few minutes the soup had cooled and she put the thermos back beside her chair. She looked out to the camper next to her and saw Paul engaged in a conversation. His arms flew wildly around his head the way they always did when he spoke. She looked away before he could see her and make her come over to join him. It seemed that every night Paul was part of a long conversation with someone he had never met. There was the ermine-haired couple from Fort Lauderdale, the teenagers from Las Vegas, the illegal immigrant family from Mexico. All of these people spoke with Paul and Winnie for hours, sharing their fears and experiences until they had run out of stories to tell. These talks made Winnie uncomfortable; she never knew what to say. She had smiled at the people as they spoke and tugged at the loose threads of the Norwegian sweater that she wore too often. When Paul finished hearing these stories and hugging each person he would walk back with Winnie to their camper and chatter about how profound these stories were, and how moved he was, but Winnie knew this was a lie. During the conversations he would always ask questions that had already been answered. “Where are you from?” he had asked the people, and they told him their answer for the fourth time that evening. He hadn’t heard a word of what they said. Conversations with Paul were always one-sided. He’d nod his head and smile as Winnie spoke to him, but she knew that his mind was already somewhere else. Perhaps he was planning the next conversation he would have. Lately, his conversations had all been about love and what it meant to him. Had Paul been a man with a purpose Winnie would have been nervous that he had a ring hidden inside one of the camper seats. Paul had established his views on love. He wanted her to wear his love the way she wore her Norwegian sweater—so often that the fabric was worn and holes had formed. But she wouldn’t notice these holes and the chill she felt when the wind crept through them. All she would feel was how comfortable it was and the memory of how warm it had once been. He told her that love was about dirt and the sweat that covered them


after the hikes across the canyons. Love was about being in a car for three days in a row with nothing but Paul’s scratched Neil Young CD to distract them. Love was about having nothing left to hide. Every night Paul had wrapped his arms around the side of her sleeping bag and asked her to tell him something she had never told anyone before. “I don’t know,” she’d responded. “Why don’t you go first?” Paul had then regaled her with the awkward stories from his adolescence, and the solitary explorations of his teenage years, and the dark places inside of him that he would sometimes retreat to. As he said this Winnie hid her head in the goosedown sleeping bag and tried to fall asleep. Didn’t he understand that she didn’t want to know these things? She wanted a distance that the small space of their camper couldn’t provide. When Paul had finished he begged Winnie to tell him something, and she never knew what to say. In the end she told a lie, but in the morning she felt bad. “You know that I made up that story,” she told him over breakfast. Paul grinned; he didn’t believe her. The sky grew blacker and the air grew colder. Winnie decided to go inside. She went to the sink to wash off the thermos. Next to the sink were Paul’s hiking boots. She gingerly grabbed their laces and placed them on the floor. Paul was always leaving his things in the most inconvenient locations. Yesterday red dust had gotten all over the kitchen table and the milk in her bowl of cheerios had turned pink. “Could you try to clean up your dirt?” she had asked him. Paul had looked at her and said. “My dirt? How do you know that it’s my dirt? It could be your dirt too. We were both outside all day.” Winnie knew he was right. They had both ruined the camper equally, but she didn’t like to think that she had been responsible for bringing in the red dust that was spreading like an infection across all the blankets and books and clothing in their camper. Winnie washed off the outside of the thermos and stared at her reflection in the aluminum. Her face was blotchy and her hair was matted. She hated that she looked this way. It occurred to her then, that it wasn’t the dirt and the stench of the camper that bothered her; it was the fact that she was part of it. That she may be responsible for the mess that had invaded their camper. She put the thermos in the sink and walked over to her sleeping bag. As she walked across the cabin she stepped on her and Paul’s clothing entwined in a pile on the floor. She bent down and began to place their clothing into separate piles. Katherine Tallman


Jill Grant ‘11


Emily McHugh


Hot and Cold A shiver ran through her body as she pulled her sweater closer around her torso and approached the window to close it. Her scarf blew tighter around her neck and she reached out, her hands red and swollen with cold. Halfway closed, she was interrupted by the sound of footsteps in the hallway. She heard keys outside the door and quickly fled to the kitchen. When the door swung open she was safely at the stove stirring a pot of stew for dinner, hoping everything in the house was just the same as when he left in the morning for work. She held her breath while she listened to him taking off his boots and jacket and she let out a sigh of relief when she heard his belt, badge, and gun hit the inside of the wooden drawer of the desk in the living room. Today he was in a good mood; he put work away before he said hello. He yelled from the bathroom, “Anna, honey, what’s for dinner?” He was washing his hands just as he did every day after work. “Stew,” she called back, thinking about what dirt he was washing away from his day. He walked through the living room and stepped in front of the window. Opening it all the way he let the cold air raise goose bumps along his skin. The wind rustled his black hair and made ripples in his blue uniform. When he stood behind her, his cold radiated toward her and her teeth chattered. He put his hands on her stomach, holding her close, passing the goose bumps along her small frame. Her muscles seized and she squirmed free of his grip to the cupboard to get two bowls. As she poured the stew into the bowls, steam covered her face. She closed her eyes and let the warmth tickle her face, welcoming the tingling feeling that would make her cheeks flush. Besides the redness caused by the kitchen’s heat, Anna was very fair skinned. Most of the time Anna didn’t mind; Johnny especially liked her light skin. Only when she got embarrassed did she dislike her complexion because it was so easy to tell her emotion and then proceeded to turn an even deeper shade of scarlet. The hot flush dissipated by the time she reached the table and Johnny smiled at her fair skin. Dinner was pleasant enough as they talked of their days. Johnny chased down a pickpocket today. He followed the dirty scoundrel down the street because he was suspicious when the boy bumped into a few men with business quality jackets on. The snow was always a good condition for pick pockets because the wealthy men they stole from could never chase them down in business loafers, but this young man forgot that police officers wore sturdy snow boots in the winter. And so, Johnny chased him down three blocks in the gray slushy snow in the street before catching him and bringing him to the station. This is why he is in such a good mood, she thought as she told him about her trip to the market. She told him about meeting her friend Tanya there and helping her


shop for her adorable baby son, Ethan. They discussed this for a moment, but then they moved on to talk about Jonny’s partner, Ron, whose birthday celebration would be at the end of this week. When they finished eating, Anna put all the dirty dishes into the sink and ran the hot water, filling the sink with a foam layer of soap bubbles. She washed the dishes slowly, taking more time than was necessary for the two bowls, the pot, and the few utensils they had used. But she liked the hot water and Johnny liked the time to sit and fiddle with things at his desk. She wasn’t sure what a police officer needed a desk for, if only to fiddle at, but she didn’t ask and he certainly did not tell. When she finished scrubbing the pot for the fourth time, Anna dried the dishes and put them away quickly before her hands got cold. She walked into the living room and crossed her arms to hide her hands in her sweater when telling Johnny she was going to get changed for bed. When he told her he would follow in just a little, she scurried off to the bedroom hoping to turn on the space heater for just a little before Johnny finally settled in for the night. With the coils on the heater glowing red, Anna began to take off her sweater, but was startled when the door opened so soon. Johnny walked over and began unbuttoning Anna’s sweater for her. As he touched her skin, the hair on the back of her neck stood on edge. Slowly he made his way down to the last button and slid the sweater down her shoulders. Trailing his fingers down her arms, he pushed her down onto the bed and began to climb on top of her. But midway down he stopped and got up, leaving Anna lying above the covers. He walked to the space heater and turned it off after pulling his uniform shirt over his head and using it to wipe the sweat away from his face. He crawled back onto the bed and slowly slid Anna’s pants past her ankles. Lying bare on the covers, Anna felt the chill all the way down to her bones, but didn’t dare to move. After he was done, Johnny turned over and slept while Anna found her clothes, dressed quickly and slipped under the covers. When she woke, it was still dark outside and she could hear Johnny starting to stir. When he rolled over to see if she was awake, she turned and closed her eyes tight. The blackness behind her eyelids was darker than the early dawn and she only opened her eyes to the blue morning when she heard the front door close behind Johnny as he left for work. Anna stayed under the warm blankets for a few minutes and then reluctantly got out of bed and dressed in her warmest winter clothes. She didn’t have to check the weather to know it was cold; she only had to look out the window at the thick blanket of white snow that had fallen during the night. She began to clean the house, picking up the work uniform Johnny left out on the floor the night before. Anna was always doing laundry because of Johnny’s habit of constantly changing his clothes as soon as he began to sweat. After she put the laundry in, she began to dust: first the table, then the bureaus, and then the windowsills. After dusting the windowsills she cleaned the glass until it was perfectly clear. She finished cleaning


and sat idly waiting for the laundry to dry. When it was finally finished she folded all of Johnny’s things and set them all in piles on the dryer corresponding to each drawer of his dresser. She wanted to go to the market again to see her friend Tanya, but she didn’t want Johnny to think she was wasting time gossiping or wasting money on things they didn’t need. So instead she stood next to the warm dryer and put her sweater in to warm it up. She refolded all of the clothes so that they would be perfect while she waited for her sweater. The sweater was just big enough for her to button it up over her clothes. She quickly put it on hoping its heat would transfer to her instead of dissipating into the empty house. After buttoning it she put Johnny’s things away, but the heat didn’t last quite long enough so Anna ran through the house and closed all the windows. When Johnny arrived home after work, Anna was holding her hands out in front of the heater on the bedroom floor. The squeaking of the front door made her jump, nearly knocking into the fiery coils. She crept towards the door of the bedroom and waited till she heard Johnny washing his hands before slipping into the kitchen and heating up dinner. “Anna, what’s for dinner?” he yelled to her, but she was bent over, halfway in the oven, so she didn’t answer. She placed the chicken onto two plates with a spoon of vegetables and set them on the table. She poured two glasses of water and put a few ice cubes in Johnny’s cup. When he sat down at the kitchen table, Anna served the soup, procrastinating over the steam. When she finally sat down, her face was still flushed red, and instead of smiling, Johnny simply asked what kind of soup she had made tonight. She told him it was vegetable soup and began to eat her share, but he set his steaming bowl aside. He scolded her for leaving the pot on the burner for too long, telling her the bottom would be scorched. She just nodded her head and continued to eat the vegetables out of the hot broth from the bowl in front of her. She supposed Johnny hadn’t caught any pickpockets today but didn’t want to ask. Instead she just sat quietly until Johnny was finished eating do she could wash all the dishes. When he went to his desk, Anna cleared the plates and bowls and emptied Johnny’s bowl of soup down the drain before scrubbing all the pots. Johnny worked at his desk, but only for a short time before he became restless. Trying to cool off, he took off his uniform shirt and stood in front of the window in the living room. He looked through the clear glass and for a moment thought the window was open, except he felt no breeze. Anna came into the living room after drying and putting away the dishes to tell Johnny she was getting ready for bed. She told him to meet her in the bedroom, but Johnny just shook his head and continued staring out the window. Anna got undressed quickly tonight and put on her long pajamas. She got into bed and curled up to stay warm. Anna waited for Johnny to come to bed, but before long she fell asleep. Johnny walked over to the window, opening it wide, letting the cold air sweep over him. But he wasn’t satisfied. He opened the screen, but still it wasn’t enough. He


leaned out into the cold farther and farther until he plummeted down into the cold darkness, the soft white blanket on the ground breaking his fall. Rae Underberg

Jill Grant ‘11


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Talya Wintman

Janus: Winter 2010  

A magazine of literature and arts Winter 2010-11

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