ISSUE NÂ° 1
Literary Magazine AMERICAN CORNER CONSTANTINE
Editor's Letter Dear Readers, I have written many versions of this letter and deleted almost all of them because words could not do justice to how thrilled I am so see Wordsmith a concrete Algerian literary magazine under the supervision of the American Corner Constantine. I was inspired to Start Wordsmith after I came back from my US training at the international writing program Between the lines 2017 and met motivated youth that didn't have any platform to share their ideas and feel safe from the judgment of our society and to simply prosper, When I saw talent in Algerian youth I didn’t second guess about starting Wordsmith and taking the responsibility of being its editor in chief. There is a power in story telling that could be used to eradicate stereotypes - that's why Wordsmith is a global initiative- and to best represent certain ideologies like women’s empowerment, social justice, peace building and as well as introduce Algerian culture! I started writing at the very young age of 11 but I had no platform in which I would publish and quench the writer’s thirst in me! Wordsmith is that platform I always wanted, the platform that offers a wide range of publishing categories: prose, poetry, flash fiction, short stories, visual art and articles; at first it was strictly for Algerians but after the huge interest I saw in international inspiring submitters Wordsmith is now and will always be an international publication platform. Every tiny aspect of Wordsmith represents a decision we debated, sweated over and secondguessed until we ran out of time, as a writer I am more of the “curled up in coffee shop with a book or writing my next author breakthrough” type of girl, I did not believe I had a bossy bone in my body until I started working on Wordsmith and Joan of Arc possessed me ( I liked it!), having all this power and responsibility gave me an opportunity to practice leadership skills and challenge myself in the difficult situations I have faced. Working on Wordsmith’s first issue, I had the honor to read/see beautiful writings/art by so many committed and thoughtful people, in which I share the selected ones with you! Feel free to send us comments on the magazine, share your thoughts or ask the author a question! We appreciate your support and are so happy to have you as a reader of Wordsmith magazine. With warmest thanks,
Contents 1. Team and Headquarters. 2. Featured Prose: 1. Neighbor's Jewel 2. The Logic of High 3. Ghost 4. The Star 5. Damnatio Memoriae 6. A Cold Farewell 7. MEDITATION FOR WHAT’S KEPT 8. In Between Time at The Department of Social sciences 9. Cleansed 10. The Sailor's Mermaid 11. One Leap 3. Visual Art 1. Drawings 2. Photography 4. Featured Poetry 1. December in Cambridge 2. The design in which we interwine. 3. Connoisseuse 4. The place where All important Questions Gather 5. Red Wine, Stains on the edges of things. 6. El Nido Nocture 7. November
8. The HA-HA Man 9. Appetite 10. God Is a Writer 11. The City Of Cold 12. To Be Depressed Like Me. 13. Junk & Treasure 14.Serendipity 15. Industrial Parts 16. Triple Bus Pass 17. Mid-Morning Butt break 18. DEmons Bygone 20. I am Not Ambiguous 21.Dear World, Your World 22. The Black Veil 23. Persa's Lullaby 24.Autumn Blues 25. Back Home 26.The Hidden Truth
5. Flash Fiction 1. In The Woods, I am Lost. 2. NTH 3. Flower Lungs 7. French Writing 8. Arabic Writing 9 . Articles 1. Me Before You Book Review 2. The Art of Photography. 10. Closure
Our Team Lina Baaziz Founder & Editor in chief Lina Baaziz is US exchange Alumna, social activist, and full time English language and Literature student at the University of Mentouri Constantine, who resides in Constantine, Algeria. She is a former Algerian representative at the International Writing Program BTL, at the University of Iowa and teaches creative writing at the American corner of Constantine. She published in BETWEEN THE LINES 2017 anthology ( Iowa city, Iowa) and featured in Tunnel magazine ( Pasadena, California), and is also a poetry reader at COUNTERCLOCK magazine ( Montpelier, Vermont). Lina is currently working on developing educational sessions for women’s empowerment in Algeria and a writing summer camp. Find her in Constantine’s boulevards nose stuffed in a book or planning world domination on her notebook.
Ouarda Benlakhlef Editing Manager Ouarda Benlakhlef is a 23 year-old driven individual who struggled to find her path, the turning point that contributed to shaping her life was discovering that English and motivational public speaking can really bring her to life and give her purpose and she didn’t stop ever since. Now she is a third -year English student, and a part-time English teacher. She volunteers at the American Corner Constantine,where she is a certified session moderator and a public speaker. she discovered her passion for debating which led her to take part In the Algerian debating championship 2016, where she was awarded title of best debater in the Algeria and later on represented her country in the UK summit 2017. She is also a US MEPI student leader program alumna through which she founded her public speaking based youth empowerment program "I Speak " which aims at offering public speaking and soft skills training for all youth across Algeria.
Bekhta Baali Cherif Submission Editor Bekhta Baali Cherif is a writer, born on May 2nd 1995, she is a third year student of English . She loves books,her favourite is The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks, one of her works is a short story called "Theories Of My Love", She is someone who believes in humanity and people's kindness more than anything else. "Little did you know my mind was the forbidden woods your parents warned you to never enter" - Bekhta Baali Cherif
Said Omeiri Graphic designer Said Omeiri is an English student at the ENS of Oran, a graphic designer and a contributing writer for ‘’The Outlet’’ (the institution magazine). He spends a lot of time in front of his computer screen, learning new design tricks and tips. He is passionate of web designing. He likes being thrown in challenging experiences and responsibilities. The conception of the Outlet magazine and the Big Ben club at The ENS was a great opportunity for him to develop his skills and display his talents
Borhane Tabet Graphic Designer Borhan Tabet is a first year Biology major student, he teaches Photography at the Audio-Visual program at the Univeristy of Mentouri Constantine, he aslo holds a photography session at the American Corner Constantine, he works at a graphic designing company in Constantine, he loves going hiking, camping and making video volgs on his YouTube channel!
Dallel Bouguenina Social Media Manager Dallel is vibrant student and writer, majoring in chemical process engineering, interested in volunteering and for the better of the world. Aiesecer ( AIESEC Org) and Manager, have tide bit of experience being on the organizing committee (agenda manager, president, team member...) for different projects, Vice president marketing for the international toastmasters club in Algeria.
Nieghbor's Jewel Niles M. Reddick My neighbor, Hilda, died last night. We moved here three years ago, and I think I talked to Hilda only once. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to talk to her. There was simply no reason to. She liked my wife. Most people do, actually. An extrovert, friendly, nice, always volunteering to help others, my wife’s also pretty and looks younger, particularly because of her white teeth and colored hair. My hair, on the other hand, had thinned and gone gray, and my teeth were always yellow from antibiotic medication they made me take as a child. I wonder if I should sue. There always seems to be lawyers advertising funds available for victims of mesothelioma from asbestos, vaginal mesh gone bad, hip or knee plastic replacements that failed. It may be too late to sue and teeth discoloration was probably not worth much. After the condolences to the family, we learned from Bud (who we’d called Jack because he was listed as such on the home owner’s directory as Jack) Hilda had passed in her sleep. He recounted that at bed time, he’d given her a handful of pills she took for a variety of conditions: heart, diabetes, lung cancer, and Parkinson’s. He made sure her oxygen was working and she slumped on the pillow and fell asleep. He wasn’t sure why he’d awakened a little after midnight, but he heard no sound, noticed she wasn’t moving, got up and turned on the light and took her pulse. The 911 operator sent the ambulance, but this time there was no hospitalization, no nursing home, and no rehabilitation like there had been the previous times. The paddles didn’t zap life back into her lifeless body. We didn’t know she’d had all those conditions, and we didn’t know most of them were genetic. Jack said all her siblings and her parents before her had died in their early sixties, too, and I glanced at their sons and grandsons and wondered if they realized it wouldn’t be long before the genes steered them in the same direction. All we knew is that she’d had a lobe removed from lung cancer and carried around a small oxygen tank. She had the good sense to disconnect it when she smoked. We could smell it drifting across the back yard from her porch when she let her poodles run and play outside and do their business. Mostly the dogs stood at the fence and barked at me in the backyard when I sprayed weeds, grilled, or mowed grass. A month or so ago, she’d called my wife and I heard my wife say, “Sure, I’ll be glad to help. What do you need?” I laughed, rolled my eyes, and wondered what she was volunteering to do. She was already watering the plants and collecting mail. “No, that’s not a problem at all.” She turned off the phone and I asked, “What now?” “She wants me to run an errand.” “What kind of errand?” “She’s out of cigarettes.” “You’re kidding. You are going to buy her cigarettes?” “Yes” “Oh my God. When I smoked, you would have never bought me a pack.” “I know.”
So, she’d gone to Walgreen’s to buy the cigarettes, except when she got to the counter, she saw our elected state representative and was embarrassed and didn’t want to explain it and so bought gum instead. She then drove to another store to buy a pack. Jack went on to explain that two of the four children were from her first marriage. They’d lived on a farm in an old antebellum home and she fostered children and bred dogs for years. She’d been a nurse, but had given that up when they married, forty years ago. As another visitor got in line behind us, he shook our hands, thanked us for coming, and we flowed into the viewing room, nodding at one of the funeral home men in black as we moved toward the casket. I looked around at all the flowers, a complete waste of money. They could have donated to charity and just had one arrangement for the grave, but the fresh cut flowers, peace lilies, stands of flowers planted in Styrofoam were everywhere. My eyes began to water and I figured people might think I was sad or crying when I barely even knew her when, in fact, I was allergic. I peeked in the casket. I assumed it was Hilda, but I didn’t recall what she looked like when she’d been alive. Her dress seemed a white and gray, matched her hair, and her hands were neatly folded to cover what looked like a bloated abdomen. The track lighting above Hilda’s casket highlighted a diamond bracelet, her wedding band set on her left hand seemed at least a carat, and another diamond on the right hand, perhaps from the first husband or maybe a family heirloom, created a sparkling effect. I would never have asked, but I wanted to know if they would remove these before burial. It seemed a waste to bury jewelry. They’d make great gifts to the grandchildren or even could be pawned to cover some of the funeral expenses. I would bet that if the family didn’t get the jewelry off, one of these funeral home men would slip the pieces off and place it in his black suit pocket before locking that lid and lowering the oak coffin into the ground. The funeral home employees were perched in corners and at the entrance, nodding, and occasionally whispering. They reminded me of buzzards on fences and in trees alongside the interstate waiting for a lull in traffic to clean-up road kill. The next day, my wife and two other neighbors coordinated a meal, and we all met at the same time to deliver the food to the family after the funeral. They were appreciative and shared stories of happier times, said they were appreciative she had simply gone to sleep instead of suffering more, knew she was in a better place. They didn’t say it, but I knew life would go on for them. My elderly neighbors seemed nervous and may have subconsciously wondered which of them would be next, if other neighbors would feed their families. When we got home, I made sure to take my pills before I climbed into bed. I wondered if Jack, or Bud as we now knew him, would sell the house, maybe get himself an efficiency apartment since he wasn’t home much, or if would just live in motels on the road. I wondered if he would pass in his sleep and be found by a hotel maid. I wondered if he would get a good price on the house, so our neighborhood comps wouldn’t go down in a market that didn’t seem stable, and I wondered if we would get a younger family or another elderly couple looking for a one-story ranch with the master suite on one end and the spare bedrooms with a Jack and Jill bath on the other end for children or grandchildren. I wondered if Bud would ask us to collect his mail when he went on the road, and I wondered if I called the funeral home if they would tell me about the jewelry. I bet they wouldn’t.
The Logic of High Niles M. Reddick
For Gail While upperclassman undergraduates, Matt and Tim decided to move out of the dorm and into a new apartment complex called Woodstone just a few miles from campus. Rent was considerably higher than the dorm, but there were no visiting hours, there was an outdoor pool and jacuzzi, and the driveways wound around the buildings and through the wooded wetlands offering residents a feel of nature within the city. The apartments had khaki painted siding that blended with the natural surroundings and had stone patios and entrances. Inside, fresh beige paint, popcorn ceilings, a deck overlooking the wooded areas, and dark brown carpet were features that made college students feel somehow superior to their peers still in the dorm. Tim was slated to graduate with a Business degree and go to work for a small distribution company located half a mile from Woodstone, and Matt was a Philosophy major with no plans for the future. Though he worked full time from 3:00 p.m. until 11:00 p.m. at Ramada Inn as an evening manager, he saw himself as an existentialist plowing his own destiny moment by moment. He agreed with Sartre that hell was other people as shown in No Exit and that philosophy had solidified in his consciousness after dealing with carload after carload of Northerners on their way to Disney World who complained incessantly about the roaches, the mattresses, and the gnats. In the South, no amount of Raid killed roaches, and Matt had come to accept that gnats even lived in the noses and ears of all Southerners. He used to worry about them going in his mouth when he talked and his mother had told him: “Don’t worry about it, Matt. They’re full of protein.” Matt was off Friday, so after class, he went to the Woodstone apartment and found Tim in his room listening to Led Zeppelin on headphones. The music was so loud that Matt could understand the lyrics. “Hey,” Matt waived and Tim pulled the headphones off. “Are you off tonight?” “Yeah.” “Are you going out?” “Nah,” Matt said. “Not sure what I’m going to do.” Neither Matt nor Tim were all that social. Each had his own set of friends. Tim dated a young woman who worked as a dental hygienist and Matt wasn’t dating at the moment. He occasionally went out with a girl he’d dated in high school or with a group of friends from the Philosophy Club. Sometimes, he went out with a group of people from the Ramada. Dora, one of the women who worked as a clerk at the Ramada, had been dating a younger fellow and said she might come by and introduce him. Matt liked Dora. She was twenty years his senior. She was shaped like a diamond with a small head and pencil legs, but wide in the hips; she had an infectious and flirty laugh, and her long platinum frizzed hair had thinned just a tad in her early forties. She told Matt she used to iron her hair in high school to make it straight. Matt enjoyed hearing her stories about the sixties. She’d participated in marches and sit-ins, something he had never heard about from his parents. Matt’d been a child and didn’t remember much about the sixties, but in most of his childhood pictures, he sported a peace sign with his fingers and wore a MIA bracelet for one of his elementary teachers whose pilot husband had been shot down in Viet Nam. Matt actually fantasized about Ms. McMillian’s husband never returning so he could grow up and marry his teacher, but like most fantasies of young boys, it faded the next year in fifth grade when he met Suzi.
Matt told Tim that Dora and her newest might stop by, so he had planned to stay around that evening, maybe order a pizza and watch a movie. Tim agreed with the idea, so they went ahead and ordered pizzas and drove just down the road to the Castle Park shopping center to rent a couple of newer movies on VHS tapes from Blockbuster. After spending a few minutes skimming movie covers, Matt and Tim agreed on Top Gun and Highlander, two very different movies; both had been popular new rentals. While out, they stopped by the market and picked up a six-pack of Michelob. Shortly after they returned, the pizzas were delivered, the cardboard boxes so hot that steam rose when opened. First, they popped Top Gun in the VCR and settled in the leather chairs in front of the TV. Nearing the end of the film, the phone rang and it was Dora, seeing if it was okay to stop by. When the doorbell rang, Matt opened the door, said hello to Dora, and shook Frank’s hand. Frank didn’t have a firm shake, which raised a flag. He also wore thick glasses. He was somewhat younger than Dora and worked at a boat factory as a laborer. Flag two for Matt was when Frank tried to appear hip and talk philosophy. Matt knew he hadn’t read anything. There was still some pizza left, so Frank had a piece and some beer, but Dora waived the offer away: “I have to watch my figure, darlings.” Matt invited Frank and Dora to stay and watch Highlander, but they giggled like children and said they were going to enjoy a romantic evening. Dora asked them if they’d like to smoke a little, and once they’d all exchanged a couple of joints between them, Matt told them he felt like his head was a balloon floating upward and away from my body. The high seemed even more powerful to Matt than the first one he had his freshman year. Everyone stared at each other and Dora’s eyes seemed like glass. Matt asked them all what they thought of the origins of the universe and they all laughed, but Matt told them he had swirling images of a beginning that unfolded and expanded, like a horn of plenty at Thanksgiving. Matt also told them he could see mathematical formulas flowing onto his mind’s eye and he jotted them down on a napkin. He said the formulas were unusual to him, particularly since he hadn’t passed college algebra. Everyone laughed, and Dora got up from the table, tugging Frank’s shirt. “We must get going,” Dora said. “I’ll leave it up to you, Matt, darling, to solve the riddles of the universe. I have other plans.” Frank smiled, shook Matt and Tim’s hands, and they left. About forty-five minutes into Highlander, Matt paused the VCR and answered the phone; it was Dora’s teenaged daughter, Amy. “Matt, I need your help.” “Sure, what is it?” “Is my mom there?” “No, she and Frank were hear an hour or so ago, but they left to go back to his house.” “Something’s wrong.” “What?” “I had a dream Frank was a killer and was going to hurt mom.” “There was something strange about him.” “He lives not far from your apartment on Myrtle. Can you go get mom and bring her home?” “Yes, Tim and I will go.” When Matt hung up the phone, he explained the logic to Tim. “Matt, you’re high. That guy’s not a killer.” “You know what? If he isn’t, fine, but if he is, we could stop him. Get your shot gun.” “You have got to be kidding.” “I’m not kidding, Tim. Get the damned gun. We may have to shoot him if he has a gun.” “Oh brother. Remind me never to smoke with you again.” “I’m as clear and logical as ever, Tim.” “Whatever.”
Frank’s Jim Walter home was about half a mile from Woodstone, and they pulled into the sand ruts of the driveway. There were no lights on, and Tim eased his Cutlass behind Frank’s VW Bug. Matt and Tim walked through the back yard to the back screened door and knocked. Matt held the gun. “Come on out here, Frank. Dora, are you okay?” “Reckon he’s already killed her or tied her up to torture her, Tim?” “Matt, they’re probably having sex.” A light in the kitchen came on; a metal pan fell on the linoleum floor followed. The back door squeaked open and the porch light came on. “Matt?” “Dora, are you okay?” “Yes, I’m fine,” she said, stepping out onto the porch in a silk bathrobe. Frank stepped out on the porch in boxers and a t-shirt. “Matt, do you have a gun?” “Yes, Amy called and had a bad dream that Frank was going to kill you, so I came to save you.” “I think you need to stick to your damned philosophy, Matt. Put that damned gun away,” Frank said. Tim took the gun and put it in the backseat of the car. “Go home now, Matt. I’ll call Amy,” Dora said. She turned and walked inside and Frank closed the door and turned off the porch light. “Matt, you had me almost convinced something was wrong.” Matt laughed. “Well, it seemed so logical to me.” Matt and Tim backtracked to Woodstone, hoping they didn’t get pulled over by the police. When Matt got to the Ramada on Monday to relieve Dora for his evening shift, she laughed. “What in the hell were you thinking?” “It seemed logical to me at the time. What did Frank think?” “He thought you were crazy as hell with the shotgun. We probably won’t go out again.” “I’m sorry, Dora.” “No, Matt. I didn’t really like him that much and I appreciate your worrying about me and coming to my rescue.” Dora stood on the tip of her toes and kissed Matt on the cheek. “I wish you were older or I was younger.” Matt blushed and said thanks. “Stick to alcohol, Matt,” Dora said. “See you tomorrow.”
Meet The Author Niles Reddick is author of the novel Drifting too far from the Shore, a collection Road Kill Art and Other Oddities, and a novella Lead Me Home. His work has been featured in over a hundred literary magazines all over the world including Drunk Monkeys, Spelk, The Arkansas Review: a Journal of Delta Studies, The Dead Mule School of Southern Literature, Slice of Life, Faircloth Review, among many others. He works for the University of Memphis, and his website is www.nilesreddick.com
GHOST A.Abderrahim Today, I saw a ghost, a ghost not from old past, your ghost, you created it this time. Good luck making it real enough in no time, even though you did it you are not an expert in that world, That ghost reminded me of the first day I saw you, all those feelings came back at once, one moment was more than enough to recall them, mixed feelings and thoughts, suicidal voices in my head, I couldn't shut them up; instead I found myself encouraging them, flowering them with my rush. I needed to fade away in the horizon as I passed my ghost riding my train, a train that seems ready to collapse in any moment, I couldn't risk it, I had to reach my destination seeking for salvation, so I pushed my train to the limits risking my security for my own sanity, the journey wasn't comfortable in any way yet I had no choice, no rest was permitted! I had to keep injecting coal into the oven in order to maintain the motion, as I saw the fire burning whatever inside I wanted to throw my mind in there -not all of it only the memories related to ghosts- I wanted to see them turning into smoke and ash, the bad ones should stay as ash so I throw them as garbage, the happy ones are the most lethal so they turn into smoke, white one, so they get mixed with the clouds as I crossed the desert; my lonely journey across the desert of ghosts.
Meet The Author
A.Abderrahim is civil engineering graduate student at the University of Constantine. He lives in Constantine, Algeria. Apart from studying, in his spare time he likes writing, playing video games, as he enjoys everything related to photography, he is a also a professional swimmer.
The Star Rollin Jewett Stanley Morgan strolled down the avenue thinking about what he would have for dinner that night, what was on TV, and whether to give Roger a call and play Black Ops later. He stopped walking when he reached the Mirror Palace, a store that sold…well, mirrors. Stanley liked to look at all the mirrors when he passed by. He was fascinated by all the reflections and enjoyed seeing himself in them. It was like an army of Stanley Morgans staring back at him, waiting for him to make a move so they could imitate it. He liked the idea of all those people looking at him. He smiled at his many reflections and continued walking. A block from his house, he noticed a young girl walking close beside him, staring directly at him. He smiled and walked a little faster. She hurried to catch up. Stanley thought to himself, “Why is this girl staring at me?” He looked around him and didn’t notice anything peculiar. Suddenly, the girl stopped walking. For some reason, Stanley did, too. The girl stepped up and examined him closely, then turned and walked briskly away. Stanley was totally bewildered. He shook his head and began walking again. He was almost to the corner when he saw the same girl, another girl and a boy walking excitedly toward him. They gathered around him, all staring intently. The new girl said, “You’re right, it is him.” The boy said, “Yep, that’s him.” Then all three of them were yelling, “It’s him! It’s Robert Reynolds!” Stanley simply stood there with his mouth hanging open. He wanted to run but his feet wouldn’t move. He looked around and suddenly more people were staring at him. People came out of the shops and stores around him to gawk. Stanley kept hearing them say, “It’s Robert Reynolds.” “Who?”, someone asked. “Robert Reynolds,” came a reply. “The star? I’m gonna get his autograph.” They started closing in on Stanley. There seemed to be dozens of them, yelling and screaming for him to autograph pieces of paper and begging for selfies. They backed up against a store window and started sticking pens, paper and i-phones in his face. Stanley could barely move but through the sea of people, he saw their eyes take on a glazed look. He quickly grasped the absurdity of the situation: people whose biggest thrill was to get a name on a piece of paper or a picture with a celeb -- someone just like them. Stanley figured he might as well be this guy “Robert Reynolds” because he couldn’t be any worse. He began signing autographs using his own name. He had only signed three autographs when someone reached around and grabbed his shirt collar. It ripped easily. Then the whole world was on him. He felt a hundred hands on his shirt, a thousand on his pants. He could feel his clothes being torn from his body. They even lifted him off the ground to get his shoes. He was down to underwear and socks when a large woman got him in a bear hug and started to carry him through the crowd. She wasn’t going to get just a piece of cloth or an autograph -- she would get the whole thing! She had almost succeeded in getting him outside the crowd when someone grabbed Stanley out of the large lady’s grasp and shuffled him into a car. It was the police. “You okay, Mr. Reynolds?” a policemen asked. “Yes,” said Stanley. “Please take me home.” When they reached his apartment building, Stanley stumbled out of the car and up the stairs to his abode. Safe inside, he went straight to the shower and turned it on hot. He stayed in there a long time thinking about what had just happened. Had it really happened? Had he really been mistaken for a star? At that moment, in the safety of his shower he started to like the idea. Then a sudden shock ran through him and all he could picture at that moment was thousands of people breaking into his bathroom with pencils and cameras. He shivered. He couldn’t imagine people making such a fuss over this guy, “Robert Reynolds”.
What was the big deal? The guy was just a good looking semi-talented actor. So? Everyone had talent in some way, right? Maybe it was his looks. Not everybody is good looking like Robert Reynolds. Are looks really able to play with the heart strings of people and evoke some form of love from them? Or was it charisma that made the star so irresistible? Maybe it was people. Perhaps they just need something to adore. Something they could really never have, and if they did, wouldn’t know what to do with it. Something…or someone that would always be there and was constant and perfect. An idol whom, when actually appeared, faded. Perhaps it was a strange mix of all these things that made the star so irresistible. Or maybe it was, deep in our hearts, a jealousy which disguised itself as love, that makes us want to possess this superior being known as the star. “The trick,” thought Stanley, “is to believe that no one is better than you, that you are the best…or at least among them.” He got out of the shower and dried off, examining his face in the mirror. Robert Reynolds? Really? Well, why not? His cell phone rang. It was Roger asking if he wanted to game that night. Stanley responded in the affirmative, then asked Roger if he thought he looked like Robert Reynolds. “Who?” asked Roger. “Robert Reynolds. The star.” said Stanley. “Never heard of him,” said Roger. “See you at eight.” Stanley hung up the phone feeling much, much better. “But he’s heard of Stanley Morgan,” said Stanley to himself.
Meet The Author Rollin Jewett is an award winning playwright, screenwriter, singer/songwriter, author and poet. His feature film screenplay credits include “Laws of Deception” and “American Vampire”. His plays have won several awards and have been produced all over the world. His play “Help Me Get Over You” is slated for three festivals in early 2018. His plays are published by Lazy Bee Scripts. Mr. Jewett’s poetry and stories have most recently been seen in Gathering Storm Magazine, Door is a Jar Magazine, Meat For Tea, The Haunted Traveler and Sensorium. Mr. Jewett lives in Holly Springs, NC with his wife and son.
Damnatio Memoriae Rania CHEKIIL For every beginning, there must be an end, and life was never that fair. It does not just foolishly offer a marvelous wrap up without us disbursing a price of sweat and tears. Beauty is an unmeasurable fee. It is unidentifiable yet still recognizable. Death had once asked life about the reason behind the mysterious relish humans owe her and the unconditional hate they have for him. Life just simply answered that she was a beautiful lie and, unfortunately, hewas an ugly truth. I was cornered by muttering silhouettes. They hastened to save the torn frail string still attached to their mortal vocation, of seeping under then leaping over, in a Marathon-like of endless life collisions. I sat there pensively reminiscing. How dare they walk by it and not call it a blessing? Then, I glowered at those apathetic arts blunter. Would God be lenient if we ever ignored the art He is making? It stood there, in all its mighty presence. It fought extinction, trying to showcase that He, who made it, is a majestic artist. It had its taut elderly roots boring their way deep in the stale ground. The picture offered more than what the colors had captured. I stepped forward to praise its grace, to see what I might have certainly missed. A pillar-like trunk saluted me up from a height. It whimsically whispered, soul to soul, "Come closer to see what I still have to show!" I merely followed. The wooden fingers dispersed to catch life, if ever caught at sight. It grew so strong. When facing the finishing line, it knew losing the race would be much easier than being crowned its champion. Seeing it so frail, at its glorious peak, just made me bawl and sob more. "Don't cry, child," the tree said, "One day, you'd all be afflicted by Time, only to be saved by its ominous fellow," then it stopped. "Who's this fellow," I demanded nonstop, “My Gosh, don't sit there sedentarily," then I pleaded "Tell me something! Who's this that could save me?" My hands found their way to its indented skin. I embraced it, pantomimically attempting to decipher its legendary collusion. It sent me a forgotten leaf, landing upon my cheek. It whipped off my fleeing tears, summoning its friend. The last martyr would find its seat on my trembling shoulder, tapping it in comfort, gently begging me not to wail, for the inevitable is the only way. "It's just another autumnal path." For every beginning, there must be an end, and was never that fair. It does not just foolishly offer a marvelous wrap up without us disbursing a price of sweat and tears. Beauty is an unmeasurable fee. It is unidentifiable yet still recognizable.
A Cold Farewell Rania CHEKIIL
Last night, I jogged by the riverside. It was so freezing that the river was lucidly icy, and its surface resembled a windowpane, in a Christmas night. The fish swam carelessly, sang beautifully, and celebrated their union orchestral. Their warm vibes shone through the dusted ice and fought the loneliness of that winter night. I did not care that the temperature was decreasing nor did I care about losing the track of time. I had nothing to do, anyway. I accepted my loneliness as I celebrated their unisonance. My snowshoes dived into the foamy ice, and a chill climbed to the back of my neck. It printedrounded crimson spots on my boney cheeks. The pebbles, scattered across the riversides, bawled when I excruciated their frosted bodies, jostling them aside. Everything was placed, carefully, as if the nature had a code, and I rebelled. Everything was in harmony, and I did not mind surrendering. My heartbeats pounded in unison with my feet. My soughs hummed along the murmuring trees, and my long breaths danced with the whistling winds. The beauty of the scenery made me forget all about my day, my world.It made me forget whom I am, and whom I had lost. Minutes passed, as the picture became clearer. I became a part of a universe I have never thought I would. For the first time, I belonged, a feeling that abandoned me a quite long time ago. The day your death was announced, my life flipped upside down. I remember when you and I used to come jogging by the riverside. You used to mock how slow I walked, and I would laugh at your silly smile. When the cold breeze pinched my cheeks, and when it bored into my bones and dotted them with not-so-sexy, crimson splashes, it made me miss the way we used to kiss. The way you used to nudge your cold pinky lips against my skin, just near my ear and not too far from my lips, had always warmed my coldest hips. Your whispers, then, were musical notes, and my lips could not resist but to dance along with you, "I love you, too." I felt that I belong, once again, maybe because I saw you in each corner of that landscape. Your name was delved deeply into the trunks. The winds yelled his name, and the shy winter sun warmly reminded me of the day it glittered when it met his two hazel caramels. Now, he is gone, and I am jogging alone. My heartbeats got back to their normal pace. However, they weirdly decreased further. I kneeled forward, dropping my weight on the foamy ice, and the tear escaped my riverine eyes. I knew that you were gone, yet I bawled to the sky, "Please, bring him home."
Meet The Author
Rania CHEKIIL is a freelance writer, a social activist, and a third year student at Badji Mokhtar University for Human and Social Sciences, Department of English Language, in Annaba, Algeria. She participated as an organizer for many social events such as “The International Conference: Augustine of Hippo and His Thoughts in Its Local and Universal Dimension”. She runs her own online blog and is a former tutor of English. Rania supports gender equality, human rights, and she is an advocate of Feminism, which is the core inspiration of her works. She believes that writing is a torch, calling for a brighter future, and that it is the only means to make our voices louder. She is currently working on short story named “The Dungeon”
MEDITATION FOR WHAT’S KEPT Effy Redman The trash can in the center of my meditation group classroom’s floor was black plastic with a pristine white bag. My first reaction, walking in: why on earth is there a garbage can in the room’s center? But, as the group progressed, meditating on the constance of a mountain or a Tibetan singing bowl filling up with water, I saw the trash can less as a receptacle for waste than as a container for objects that were, until very recently, of great use. A paper coffee cup or soda bottle, a chocolate wrapper, an envelope torn along the top, a crumpled tissue. Perhaps the meditation is that nothing is wasted, only left behind. This being a mental health clinic--”the clinic”--people come here to feel they are of use. Contrary to what the more negative straits of society may suggest, lives are never wasted. Not mine, not Roy’s, who was so upset the night before he couldn’t play his keyboard. Not Tamrin’s, whose vision of the singing bowl filling up with water reminded me of a painting I saw years before, a painting of round pebbles submerged in water, the details so lifelike I could almost see the water flowing. We are here to breathe. The Venetian blind behind Roy’s head frames him like a picture, his walker in front of him is at an odd angle, recently of service and awaiting its next use. Disability is not wasted, I think. It is a fact of vulnerability pushing those of us under its condition often to the edges. But not out of the picture. We are, in fact, ready to be seen.
IN BETWEEN TIME AT THE DEPARTMENT OF SOCIAL SERVICES Effy Redman I find myself writing in waiting rooms, lobbies. The unique silence of “when but when will my name be called” fills the air, people thinking about the practical and emotional concerns they think of in these quieted places, on a schedule yet unhurried because they have already arrived. It sparks in me some generosity of spirit, being in this interim space with others in the same boat, somehow makes me want to be a kinder, more gentle, more patient human being. My limits are tested every day. Rather than run, I face all that crosses my path. When the social services worker talks to me in a belittling tone, I forgive her because, ultimately, she is helping me pay my transitional housing rent. She is no bigger than the ego I must shed to give her the benefit of the doubt. It is her tone, rather than her words, that attempts to shrink me, that belies the innocent fact of her simply doing her job.
But I am more concerned with the young woman seated across from me in the lobby who speaks with another DSS worker about getting her belongings out of the house she’s just been evicted from and into her temporary room. She is Latina with long curly hair, dressed all in black, carrying only a small pocketbook and her paperwork. She speaks softly and her expression is stunned, freshly stung by the loss of security. I want to call across the cold lobby, I’ve been in your shoes, I know how that feels. Last summer, during the nadir of my time of homelessness, I stayed at a New York City drop-in center near Lexington Avenue where residents slept in rows of plastic chairs. Those who had a blanket were lucky, and there were no pillows. To compensate for residents with poor hygiene and generally filthy conditions, the staff ran the air-conditioning on high through the night, making the stale air frigid. I wore all the clothes I could layer on from my backpack. Residents had to keep their luggage with them at all times, including when they ventured out into the clamoring city. I only had a heavy backpack, but others had hefty suitcases on wheels crammed with whatever they had grabbed before losing their rooms or apartments. Desperation hung in the air. At the same time, the city’s frenetic energy kept everyone moving, searching, and I wondered if, like me, others there spent part of their days looking for safe places to lie down. From the drop-in center, I went to a shelter in a house with beds and a dining room and living room in this upstate New York small idyllic city where I now live, where receiving treatment for bipolar disorder qualifies me for housing through an organization that rehabilitates and supports adults who have had mental health crises. I was homeless four months last year, and the resulting uncertainty of my place in the world lingers like a veil. While I wait for a hearing to determine whether I will receive SSI benefits, I apply every three months for Temporary Assistance, and find myself seated in the high-ceilinged, maroon metal bench-seated, gray-tiled lobby of the DSS, along with the homeless and the impoverished, the disabled and the elderly. Often there are young mothers with their toddlers in tow, sometimes with strollers and brightly colored plastic toys. I see unkempt homeless men and women there, with all their possessions dropped into a mesh drawstring laundry bag resting on the seat beside them. We sit together mostly in silence, waiting for what services are stingily offered here, but also waiting for some glimmer of hope, some humane redemption, that, while not offered explicitly here, is somehow felt in the presence of our warm bodies in these chilly metal seats together.
CLEANSED Effy Redman In mindfulness-meditation group this morning, I imagined that the floor spreading between those of us meditating became a contained blue-green ocean glinting with light. The water lapped around our ankles while we breathed deeply and released tension. Last night, I heard fine ice clattering against my windows and by morning all of outside was glazed, treacherous. At least I am not homeless in such weather, I thought, At least I have a roof over my head, a bed to lie in. A purification takes place in the meditation room that is difficult to define, transformative as water becoming ice, the dull becoming reflective. Meditating together, the four or five or six of us close our eyes to vanquish dark thoughts and negative space. Afterward, we share the light of those incremental realizations that make starting the day feel better, pressed forward with greater ease. So, when the floor became an ocean, I saw the beige carpet in nature’s new light, because, in coexistence, both the mundane and the magical realities shared equal dimension. The carpet looked cleaner somehow, brighter. I could hear cars passing. I sat still. You always sit still in meditation, where the waiting becomes arrival.
Meet the Author Effy Redman has published work in The New York Times and Chronogram, among others. She has an essay forthcoming in Ravishly. She writes primarily about the intersection of disability and identity. Effy received her BA from Bennington College, and her MFA in Creative Writing from Hunter College. She lives in Saratoga Springs, NY.
The Sailor’s Mermaid... Feryel Bouakel I remember that once, when I was highly stressed, sitting in my room, and thinking of giving up on the bullshits of dating , he sent me a message and gave himself the honour to contact me. I was both glad and anxious and even nervous of being a member in such a club; « may I talk to that hidden mermaid please? » He asked. « Sure gentleman. You seem to be my perfect soulmate! » she answered. The sailor ─bewitched by the mermaid’s charm, became «speechless, motionless, expressionless, breathless and every other LESSES there are » he said. The conversation kept going on till she discovered that destiny has to intervene and pronounce its word. Emotionally, morally, spiritually I’m wrecked and subvert to sense it. Yet, apparently, I smile! A day without laughter is a wasted day as Chaplin says. Enough of pouring black tears and ruining your eyeliner. Enough with bunging late at night. It’s a pity to waste your energy on overthinking, or fuelling each single stupid thought of depression, sorrow, frustration, that steel your dreams at night. It’s time to crown yourself with pride, challenge your sailor’s waves! Stand up to yourself now (brave is to run a risk in initiating what’s unliked to others).
Meet the Author Feriel Bouakel is a freelance writer who is working on a novel since 2009... she likes listening to the sound of her pen as she write on paper ... she is 20 years old, studying English at ENS of Oran. Her interests include selfimprovement and youth empowerment.
One Leap Meriem Saoud « Mom ! Mooooom ! » « yes, what is it ? » « where is my money ? it was on the table. Where the hell did you put it ? » « it’s in your desk drawer. I feared that your brother might take it thinking it his. » Ahmed said nothing. He knew inside that he shouldn’t have spoken to his mother in that way, but at this moment nothing mattered more than a day at the beach. A while ago, Ahmed woke up, and the first thing he did was checking the new messages on his phone. It was about 10 a.m., and it was Thursday, May the 4th, the legislative election day in Algeria. The weather was very hot, and it was a free day and the days after were the week-end. What a great combination for a day at the beach. However, Ahmed did not think about this until he had received a message from Njam. « Morning, man ! A great day is waiting ! » Ahmed was confused why his friend called this day a great one. So he typed back,” Stop teasing me in this morning ! what could be great about a hot election day ? I don’t know how this boring day will end. “ “ Chill out bro ! I have a plan for the four of us to go to the beach. You, me, Adam, and Yassine. I’ve got everything covered just bring your towel and let’s gooooooo ! “ “ Oh man, this is amazing. I can’t wait. I’ll get my money and stuff and call you as soon as I’m ready. “ He immediately rose up and went straight to the bathroom. He crossed his mother in the hall but did not even tell her good morning. She yelled as he closed the door behind him. “ Slow down young man ! Good morning first and what’s the hurry for ? “ Ahmed heard his mother’s words, but again he put them behind and did his ablution quickly. He went hurriedly to his room, laid the prayer carpet and performed his Sobh prayer in a very fast way. He did not want to be late. After he had finished, he opened his closet, took out a towel, some clothes and a pair of swimming pants. He then got dressed and looked for his money on the table in his room. He did not find it and got very angry. He shook his sleeping brother violently and yelled at him, “Where is my money you idiot ? I told you not to ever touch it again, where is it ?” His brother opened his eyes terrified and shouted back, “What’s wrong with you? Is this the way you wake me ? I know nothing about your money. Ask mom and don’t ever speak to me again!” “Mom! Moooom!!” “Yes, what is it ?” “Where is my money? It was on the table. Where the hell did you put it ?” “It’s in your desk drawer. I feared that your brother might take it thinking it his.” He grabbed his money and stuff and went straight to the door. His mother jumped from her seat and went running to him. “Ahmed, son, where are you going in this morning ?”
The poor mother looked very worried because her son has been acting weird lately, and these last years of him growing up and befriending some unpleasant boys haven’t been easy on him and his family. “I’m going to the beach mom. My friends have planned it and are waiting for me at the bus station. I’ll come back early, don’t worry.” “But you didn’t have your breakfast, and is there any grown up going with you ?” “Mom, we are grown ups. I am not a kid anymore. I’ll buy something on my way, I took my money. Can I go now ?” He opened the door and left. His mother whispered a prayer, then closed the door and returned to her seat. The four friends arrived at the beach. The first thing they did was getting some food and drinks , then setting their parasol. After this, they were ready to enter the water and not got out until they have had enough. They stayed in the water for about an hour. Najm was the first one to get out and go eat. While he was eating, he saw a group of boys going heading somewhere. He followed them with his eyes and realized that they went to jump from a giant rock into the sea. He liked the idea and found it amusing, so he called his friends and told them about it. They all got excited, but didn’t know what to do with their stuff. They decided that three should go while one stays, and then one returns so that the one who had stayed could go. Ahmed went with Najm and Yassine, and Adam stayed. When their turn came to jump, Najm was the first one to do it. Ahmed was next. He decided to jump backwards to the right while everyone else had jumped to the left .He just found that it was closer and less scary. In the glimpse of an eye, the heavy body which penetrated the water could be seen no more. His friends called after him, but there was no answer. They asked for help from the other guys, and one of them , who was in the water, swam in the direction where Ahmed had jumped. He dived in and after about a minute he shouted,” call for an ambulance or a lifeguard. He is too heavy. I can’t lift him.” One leap, only one leap made a major change in a simple teenager’s life. Ahmed was rescued and taken right away to hospital. His parents were informed around 03p.m. They rushed to the hospital and were told that their kid was being operated. They waited for two hours when the doctor finally came out. “Your kid hit his neck and back against a hard rock when he jumped which caused to break his spinal cord. The success of the surgery will only be decided Saturday morning. He might wake up in a few hours when the effect of the anesthesia is gone, but it will be very difficult for him to stay conscious for a long time.” Ahmed’s family stayed waiting till 10 p.m. when Ahmed finally showed signs of life. His family gathered around him , and he easily recognized them . “Mom, I might not get much time to speak because my head is aching very bad, but this is the only thing turning in my mind right now. I want you to forgive me from the bottom of your heart because I am truly sorry. I have been mean to you during all these years, but I’ve never , ever meant any of what I said or did. I’ve always loved you and I’ve always been sorry but I was never too brave to ask for pardon. Dad, Mounir, it’s the same thing for you. Forgive all my bad moods, my insults , and all the times I’ve disobeyed you father. I also want you to ask my teachers to forgive me because I was really mean to them. One thing mom, please pray for me to get better. I love you and I sincerely regret all I have done.”
“I’ve always forgiven you right after you did something wrong, and I’ve always prayed God to guide you because I was never mad at you ,and I cannot be more pleased with you than I am now. This is not the goodbye son, tomorrow you will get better and everything will be fine again. Don’t think of anything negative.” “I love you, mom. I will make it up for you, I promise. I’ll study hard for my final exams and graduate and make you all proud.” Standing in the station, glimpsing the train of my destination approaching. I feel excited. I have waited for this day since I heard that my cousin got engaged. It’s her engagement party. The whole family will gather up. It’s been so long since we last gathered for a happy occasion. Once I reached my destination, I had to take the bus to get to the town where my aunt lives. I got there early, got dressed , and had a wonderful time with my family and my cousin, yet at dinner time my mother told me that Ahmed, our neighbor, died this morning. It was an enormous shock to me since I did not hear about what happened up until that moment. When we returned home, the whole neighborhood was crowded. My heart was broken because today, while one person in this world had started a whole new chapter in her life, another person had finished his last chapter and closed his book. This story is inspired by true events that happened on May the 6th ,2017. I wrote it as a tribute to our loved neighbor who died young because of one leap. I ask everyone who reads it to pray for him. Fix things now before it will be too late. Thank you !
Meet The Author Meriem Saoud is a novice writer and blogger, a bookworm, and full-time student at the Teacher Training College of Bouzareah, Algiers. She lives in Boumerdes, Algeria. Meriem has participated in a national competition of English when she was in High School. She came first in this competition. She believes in the power of education, of hope, and the power of words. Through writing, she hopes to change things in her country and the world. She fights for gender equality, and the rights of women to choose what they want to do with their lives. She loves photography. She is a truth seeker. She loves to ask big questions and go deep in answering them, and she meditates a lot.