THE YALE LITERARY MAGAZINE
FREQUENCY by Emily Anthes
A DEATH AT SCHOOL by Adam Eaker
ANNOUNCEMENT by Matthew Schneier
STRANGERS ON A TRAIN by Adriatic Quinlan
DISTILLATION byJeremy Schmidt
CHANCE by Chloe Kitzinger
BODIES by Russell Brandom
QUOTATION TESSELATION by Grace Silvia
IN THE GARDEN by Yali Lewis
WINCHESTER FACTORY NO. I by Noam Rudnick
ON THE FENCE by Smita Gopisetty
PEN DRAWING by Yali Lewis
UNDERNEATH THE NEON LIGHTS byJohn McEachin
NEEDLE by Smita Gopisetty
WINCHESTER FACTORY NO. 5 by NO4M Rudnick
PEN DRAWING by Nick Know
1 2 1
IN THE GARDEN
by Yali Lewis
FREQUENCY by Emily Anthes
Once, as a child, he made gunpowder and set it on the furnacc to dry overnight. In the darkness he heard the explosion; no one else woke, but his body's smallest bones were clacking like the keys of a typewriter. This year the pages keep coming out blank, stark white like the surface of the pond in winter. They used to skate on it, trying to score their names across the ice, and now he recognizes his daughters' names by the grooves they carve in his tongue. We have new freedom, run the blender while he's in the room. The house sounds the same to him â€” the wordless peeling of hard-boiled eggs, the whippoorwills out ofseason. Each afternoon he walks to the river. Once, we call out after him, casting his name into the water like a net. He slips through it. It disquiets us. Unsure of the rules of conversation, we begin to speak aloud, pulling words from our throats like fish bones, lining them up on our plates. We do the only thing we know to do with bones and bury them in the yard. In spring, he will push the lawnmower over the grass that has grown there, trample the uneven earth.
A DEATH AT SCHOOL by Adam Eaker
Fog so thick over the lawn, and the chapel steeple just flickering out ofit, like a prow, and the chapel bell sounding, wake up, and the proctor's knock-knock, time for school, wake up. He gave me a teacup and a 3 AM fire drill, rhythm of the alarm, wake up, and boys in their boxers hopping, shut up, hopping like jaybirds, blue-footed, in the snow. Belt tight at the throat, bruising the throat, dash of red where the buckle broke skin. Jump in,jump in. Chlorine of the pool and all my clothes on,jump in. My English teacher's apartment, give in, slice of his stomach where the shirt rode up. Sofa I sprawled on, wallowing, swallowing his money-clip. Snow so thick on the fields, fog so thick, my walk home in the dark so long. Don't talk. Jump in. The school doctor cut him down from the banister. The winter lasted one month more. That year I turned into a fish.
WINCHESTER FACTORY NO. I
by Noam Rudnick
CHANCE by Chloe Kitzinger
he night before she was due to take down her cluistmas tree, Alma dreamed ofwater. She woke up wanting a drink. Her cat wandered through the dark room, keening at doors and the futon mattress, and Alma stretched out her
hand for the cat to sniff at. It was all she could think ofto do. But both ofthem knew, that wasn't what the cat wanted at all. cao The Christmas tree, too big for her living room, dropped somber needles on her early breakfast table. She and her brother hung it every year with the ornaments they had jointly inherited —tin dogs, starfish, thin glass houses, Gods-eyes, candy canes, big pink balls. Flat boxes filled with tissue paper were stacked in her bedroom. Putting up a Christmas tree is strange; taking it down is stranger. She found all the angels first, then the colored balls and nutcrackers. The jagged edge of a broken house cut her palm. cit.,As Alma worked, a sunbeam slid across her bed and slipped between her sheets, where it warmed up pellets oflint and widely-scattered cat hair. Sheets oftissue paper whispered to one another. The tree looked quite full until suddenly, it was almost bare. She couldn't have said what did it. Outside, a big-bellied man with a crystal ball in his pocket stood beneath her window to watch.
Silas Whylom recognizes Alma's hands. Once, palmdown, they had moistened his folding tabletop. He picked one up and rubbed it between his to bring out the lines more clearly. She was shaking, her lips curled up tight at their corners. He asked her why she had come. 'There are too many possibilities sometimes. I'm so full ofthem, I do nothing.' 'You're what — a student?' She shrugged.'Well, what do you do?' 'Nothing much. It doesn't matter.' He found a deep crevice and pressed it with his fingers. There were two things he could tell her she would do. Two — there were thousands, and no one less likely than all the others. But that wasn't what she wanted to hear. 'If I were you,' he said, 'I'd grow a garden.' 'A garden?' 'That's right. Windowboxes, you know? Pots.'
'Why do you say that?' 'No reason. You just look like a gardener to me.' She twisted her hand a little under his. He read her palm for her, and she left. Now, he thinks: She could have been an actress, or a writer, or a mime. She could have taught children to read, she could have fed neighborhood cats. What made me tell her that? The green hair of a winter jasmine trails down through the fire escape, and her face is hidden by the branches of the Christmas tree. He watches her hands, plucking offglass balls like apricots. Silas has been out in the city since six in the morning. He has been to the 24-hour grocery store and up and down Ninth Avenue. He is ready to go home now, but he's forgotten his key in the pocket of yesterday'sjeans. He sits perfectly still on the grimy steps in his own vestibule, and waits. Silas is an experienced waiter; living, indeed, with a waitress. (They met on the plane to Ohio six months ago. In Ohio, she thinks it was in
Ohio, she got pregnant with his daughter. They have watched the sonogram together.) Most ofevery day he waits in the dirty picture window of his shop for his next appointment, watching the people go by. But at this hour the street is very quiet, and no one is there to watch. A garbage truck may be coming,some time. At seven-thirty-two by Silas's watch, a stragglehaired man comes down the hall with a little brown poodle. He holds the inside door open for Silas. The poodle is businesslike and vivacious, the man preoccupied. Why do people keep dogs? Silas is riding up in the elevator, which smells of the poodle's fur. He takes it up only one flight. He can't decide whether Alma's apartment is left or right, and he walks up and down the speckled hallway listening for the rustle of tissue paper. In the end there is only one apartment it could be â€” the smell of mint is strongest there. He knocks softly, then tries the knob. Alma's door is, as he half-suspected, unlocked. It opens onto a dark hallway where coffee grounds and some unwholesome spicy smell make the air seem packed between the walls. He pushes through a green beaded curtain. At first, she doesn't see him. She is reaching towards the top of the Christmas tree to take down a spangled icicle, and there's a curving line from her index finger to the heel of her foot like a wooden bow. Silas doesn't notice. He puts his nose close to the ground. There are rows of pots all around the walls, all across the floor. The stems of flowers tangle with the leaves of bushes, and through everything creeps a pale green stalk of pennyroyal mint, limp with buds. Silas has to vault from pot to pot like some rainforest ape â€” sniffing, balancing, fingering. In one corner he finds himself whisker to lip with the little striped cat, who nudges and blinks at him noiselessly until he lumbers away. But he cannot find the rosemary. It is a tribute to his potbellied litheness, and to Alma's pigheaded concentration, that she turns around only when his left foot is inches from her ladder. She sees his checkered back sloping down towards the planter in the center ofthe room. She drops the icicle and it shatters by his ear; he lifts his head to see her descending shakily from the ladder. He's left straddling the pink-
studded kolanchoe by the planter, fearful of moving lest he should grind the broken glass still smaller. Alma regards him with wary little eyes. 'Hi.' 'Hey.' 'What do you want?' (Last night, as they were doing the crossword puzzle at the kitchen table, his waitress sighed. You tired? he said, looking up at the clock. Not really. They passed the crossword puzzle back and forth. Do we have any rosemary? Rosemary? I don't think so, why? I don't know. Well, what do you want it for? I don't know. It'sjust this thing. I can smell it, like someone's holding it up to my nose.) `Do you remember me?' 'Sort of. You live on six, right? You work down the street.' 'That's right. You came to see me once.' 'I don't remember that.' 'I knew you had a garden. I came to ask if I could borrow some rosemary.' Alma is pale, one hand clutching the ladder. Now she looks around the room vaguely, as ifshe can't remember where she could have left it. 'It's for my wife,' says Silas. 'None of the stores are open this early. I wanted it to be there when she woke up.' He pauses. 'I did knock.' 'I wish I could help you.' Alma leans an elbow on the ladder. 'I planted some once. But it's gotten to be such a jungle in here, I can't remember where anything is. I'm sorry.' The sun falls across what remains of the Christmas tree, making a red globe glow. Soon she'll be awake, and Silas must be back upstairs. 'Could I look, quickly?' `Go ahead. Watch the glass, though. There's more, over here by the window.' As he lifts up leaves and sniffs them, he thinks she goes on talking, though he can't be sure whether she wants him to listen. A poinsettia links arms with a paper-white, the African violet smells like coriander. 'Stupid, to plant so many things. One morning I woke up and went out for a walk, and the next morning I suddenly wanted to plant a garden.
I wish I could do it again. I'd put the ones that need more water over by my bed,so I could help them soon as I woke up in the morning. Plants are like babies, you go to sleep smelling them and then you dream about them, wake up knowing what they want. It's stupid to have so many. They hate being moved. My cat Selena chews on the leaves at night, I have to shut her in the bedroom with me. She hates that. Have you found it yet?' 'No. Not yet.' 'See? I can't find anything. And I can't walk either, there's never a clear path through. Sometimes I think I should take a day offand clean things up around here.' Silas looks up from the rubber tree at his feet and sees that Alma has not stopped her work; she is talking into the Christmas tree. Her arms are thinner than the tree trunk. She hasn't brushed her hair. Silas sums people up and makes his conclusions, he decides what they want and then he tells them. But sometimes he gets it wrong.'You should,' he says. 'Plants won't make you happy, you know?' Alma still will not look at him. 'I never thought they would.' 'I think this is pretty hopeless. But thanks for letting me look.' At last Alma turns her face from the tree, which by now is almost bare. Her eyes, brown and blank, look him up and down. She cranes around the tree and pulls out a little earthenware pot from the windowsill. 'Here,' she says.'Don't bring it back.' He wants to thank her, but he feels he has been thrown out. He takes the rosemary. Waiting for the elevator, he holds the plant up to his nose and meditatively breathes it, as a surgeon might ponder the door to the hospital morgue.
In Silas Whylom's storefront down the street, there is no Christmas tree. He puts a little dancing Santa in the lower left corner, where he hopes that no one will see it. The batteries ran out five years ago. He wouldn't put it out at all, except that he sees it in his bathroom
closet every year, dusty and forlorn, and this is its season. Silas has a tender heart. The people who come to see him in his store, he thinks, are honest. He tries to be the same. Once upon a time, a long time ago at the beginning of the world, there was a great explosion and in it was contained all the causes ofall the effects in the universe. Nothing can happen that was not presaged in the moment ofthe Big Bang. It is clear to Silas that his customers know this. Why else would they pay him to tell them what they are going to do next? When his daughter was born in April, she went to sleep on his shoulder and he felt her head there for days afterwards, resting lightly in the heat of his blood and the wrinkles of his shirt. Her eyes were blue and then hazel, and then they took root in the quiet brown of soil. He watches her play under the folding table where he tells his fortunes, and thinks that all her future lies in the molecules of her little finger and the split ends of her hair. He would talk to no one about this, not even his wife. But there are times when he would like to talk to Alma. Some mornings, Alma would wake up to find that there was nothing to be done. Others, there was just nothing to do. She sometimes thought she had been meant to be a cat. When Silas left, Alma called her brother on the phone.'Some guy just came to see me.' 'What do you mean,some guy? Who was he?' 'Who knows?' A lively intelligence trapped in the body ofa squashed tomato. She couldn't say things like that to her brother. 'Alma, what's wrong? Aren't you going to work?' 'Nothing. I am.' She hung up and stared at the spot where the rosemary had been. There was a ring on the windowsill, like a handprint. That day, Alma decided to stop watering her plants. She said to herself, there is a difference between killing and letting die. The mint dried up first, its stems snapping under Alma's feet and crunching in Selena's mouth. The kolanchoc held on longer, its light-brown dregs blown over the floor of her apartment by wind
ON THE FENCE
by Smita Gopisetty
from the open window. And the winter jasmine, perhaps because of the rain that fell throughout that tepid January, proved incapable of dying. At last Alma gave in and watered it, when she remembered. The day she buried her garden in black garbage bags and put them out by the garbage cans, in the spot where the carcass of her Christmas tree had rested, she was glad the jasmine had held on. Silas walks Rosemary's stroller down the block to get to the corner deli. Rosemary reaches her hand up to the long strand ofjasmine, and tugs.
by Yali Lewis
ANNOUNCEMENT by Matthew Schneier Vallejo: Me morire en Paris con aguacero
Dry tonight, and on the blank and featureless plains, It's been sunny, highs ofseventy, for days without a drop. Small rodents have been turning up their fine-boned feet and broiling, A death without a shadow's huff to chill an early grave. If there were leaves here once, they moved to more temperate haunts, Sought out pots, befriended the apartment-friendly: shrill dogs like cotton balls, Whose voices are chalk-scratch, bowlegged Portuguese domestics, starchy elevator-men. Matthew Schneier will die in Paris, rainless. But today in the penthouse, Leaves gather, drowsy, on the floor, itsâ€˘waxy wood shined clean as breath. A housekeeper chops onions for the dinner, sending up reams of parchment skin, And Matthew Schneier, dead in Paris, eventual victim of victimlessness, Is slowly drying like the rest. She blubbers at the onions as she tears them, husk from flesh. Back on the plains, the smell of tiny carcasses still rises, Matthew Schneier is still dead. A man could live here all his life And grow accustomed. Thousands have. One clucks his tongue At those who won't bear witness, who crumple at distress. Ofcourse women would cryfor this, he thinks, eye to the city, where The onions jump in the hot oil, sizzle down to filaments. Ofcourse women would cryfor this, he thinks. They'd cryfor less.
STRANGERS ON A TRAIN by Adriane Quinlan
Across the aisle, the stranger wants us to wake him in Philadelphia. Your mind is a city rebuilding itself over and over inside â€” windows look only to other windows, and monuments stand only for other monuments: empty arrows pointing towards each other. You speak in the code train conductors click through tickets, so that in my daydreamed conversations, I fake the punched-up slips and travel without paying. When it's quiet, I would like to sleep like strangers but to sleep beside you, organizing what I remember by the weather.(We were just two people who lost and shared umbrellas.) If he misses his stop, it is because he sleeps without knowing, waiting, like a stranger, for cities and the hands of other strangers.
New Haven, known also as the City ofElms, is afine town. Many ofits streets (as its ALIAS sufficiently imports) are planted with rows ofgrand old elm-trees; and the same natural ornaments surround Yale College, an establishment ofconsiderable eminence and reputation. The various departments of this Institution are erected in a kind ofpark or common in the middle ofthe town, where they are dimly visible among the shadowing trees. The effect is very like that ofan old cathedral yard in England; and when their branches are influll lee, must be extremely picturesque.
I 85 I MARK TWAIN
F. SCOTT FITZGERALD
THE YALE LITERARY MAGAZINE PRESENTS
Tales oftheJazz Age
in PRINT F. SCOTT FITZGERALD
The Beautiful and the Damned
1922 ZANE GREY
The Redheaded Outfield
in The Yale Literary Magazine
The Bonfire ofthe Vanities
hereafter Ishall do anything upon the whole, a man might rather have done than to have left undone; if, at my death, my executors, or more properly my creditors,find any precious MSS. in my desk, then here Iprospectively ascribe all the honor and the glory to whaling;for a whale-ship was my Yale College and my Harvard.
Tom was petted and indulged and spoiled to his entire content — or nearly that. This went on till he was nineteen, then he was sent to Yale. He went handsomely equipped with 'conditions,' but otherwise he was not an object ofdistinction there. He remained at Yale two years, and then threw up the struggle. He came home with his manners a good deal improved; he had lost his surliness and brusqueness, and was rather pleasantly soft and smooth, now; he wasfurtively, and sometimes openly, ironical ofspeech, and given to gently touching people on the raw, but he did it with a good-natured semiconscious air that carried ii off safely, and kept himfrom getting into trouble.
'And lastly,'finished Peter, 'will you tell me why, when you are in a building beautifully hung with enormous candelabra, you prefer to spend these evenings under one anemic electric light?' Rose looked at Key; Key looked at Rose. They laughed; they laughed uproariously; theyfound it was impossible to look at each other without laughing. But they were not laughing with this man — they were laughing at him. To them a man who talked after thisfashion was either raving drunk or raving crazy. 'You are Yale men, Ipresume,'said Peter,finishing his high ball and preparing another. They laughed again.
She hadfed on it ruthlessly — enjoying the crowds around her, the manner in which the most desirable men singled her out; enjoying thefiercejealousy ofother girls; enjoying thefabulous, not to say scandalous, and, her mother was glad to say, entirely unfounded rumors about her —for instance, that she had gone in the Yale swimming-pool one night in a chiffon evening dress.
Wayne, being a Yale pitcher, had seen several thousand pretty girls, but the group in that automobilefairly dazzled him. And the last one to whom Huling presented him — with the words: 'Dorothy, this is Mr. Wayne, the Yale pitcher, who is to play with Bellville tomorrow; Mr. Wayne, my sister' — was the girl he had known he would meet some day. 'Climb up, Mr. Wayne. We can make room,' invited Miss Huling. Wayne thought the awkwardness with which hefound a seat beside her was unbecoming to a Yale senior. But, considering she was the girl he had been expecting to discoverfor years, his clumsiness bespoke the importance ofthe event. The merry laughter ofthe girls rang in his ears.
Sometimes, walking across the Old Campus in the winter night, a thousand lights shining in the windows around you and a thousand million lights shining in the sky over your head, you will feel something strong in you, silent, unspeakable; and you will wait a moment in the cold air before climbing the stairs to your room, almost ashamed ofthat pause in the bright glare ofyour room, the voices laughing across the hall.
'We'lljust go till we get sick ofit,' Doreen told me, stubbing out her cigarette in the base of my bedside reading lamp, 'then we'll go out on the town. Those parties they stage here remind me of the old dances in the school gym. Why do they always round up Yalies? They're so stoo-pit!' Buddy Willard went to Yale, but now I thought ofit, what was wrong with him was that he was stupid. Oh, he'd managed to get good marks all right, and to have an affair with some awful waitress on the Cape by the name of Gladys, but he didn't have one speck ofintuition. Doreen had intuition. Everything she said was like a secret voice speaking straight out of my own bones.
It was a manly chin, a big round chin such as Yale men used to have in those drawings by Gibson and Leyendecker, an artistocratic chin, if you want to know what Sherman thought. He was a Yale man himself.
UN DE12 NEA I II
NEON LIGII I'S bylOhn AL'EaChin
BODIES by Russell Brandom
he had drawn close to him before she said it. Her arms were wrapped around him, her chin rubbing on his shoulder. He was almost asleep, and it caught him by surprise when she spoke. 'I think we'll be happier because of this.'
The baby, certainly, was what she meant. He had no room to maneuver — she was too near — and he couldn't see her face. He wished, later, that he had seen it. She had spoken strangely, as if it took great effort, even as she predicted joy. Remembering, he became less sure of the details. He had felt her arms as a warmth on his chest, but it could just as easily have been his own warmth, reflected back from the blanket. Her phrasing became confused, the intonation unclear. He could no longer remember if the words had seemed strange at the time or if that came later, while he was piecing it together. In the end, it was easier to think he had imagined it.
The plan had been to move into a house by late summer or early fall. Their landlord didn't turn on the furnace until October zoth, when he was legally required to, so any stretch of bad weather became excruciating. They had to wear two pairs of socks, and Liz still felt sick for three weeks. Henry would see frost on the window when he woke up and take it as a sign that when he lifted the blanket he would feel dramatically worse, recovering only when he crawled back in that night. They had looked at a few houses together, and Henry had looked at a few on his own before they stopped looking. The ones they could afford were all basically the same: no lawn, but patches of grass flanking the stairs up to the front door; maybe a tree outside, between the sidewalk and the curb; master and two bedrooms, usually with some hideous patterned wallpaper, orange and beige. The two smaller bedrooms were claustrophobic, and he realized they were too small for anything but children. It was a tacit understanding, and the realtor was polite enough not to say anything. Henry had friends who objected to the assumption. Mostly women, who were suddenly
— and quite unexpectedly — growing older, terrified of becoming those fiery, defensive hawks one meets at department parties, who have only two or three topics they can talk about, and try desperately to steer the conversation towards opera or cubism in the hope that they'll be relevant. Henry recalled sourly that some of them were no longer his friends. Perhaps they were Liz's friends to begin with. Many of them had houses, and filled them with colorful boarders or guests from out of town. They threw large parties, and after too much wine would talk for hours about the Republican Party, and how it wouldn't be too long before they started rounding people up. Liz would speak, encouraged by the group.'My sister. My sister, she got fired three months ago 'cause her boss couldn't deal with women doctors. She had to move. I mean, not to another hospital, not another position, she had to leave the fucking state.' There was a brief pause from the group before they rushed to agree. Yes, they were assholes. Eventually, they came around to blaming society. Women on television, after all, were having children for no apparent reason, simply to confirm that it was
what one did when the original novelty of existence wore off. The writers had run out ofideas, and that was what they used to give the show meaning again. Henry considered whether he had lost his novelty. Did he still get the funny lines, or did he play the straight man to his wacky friend? (Did he even have a wacky friend?) He realized he wasn't funny. He hadn't thought he would need to be. Did they still applaud when he entered the room? Ofcourse, they never had. He woke up cold, curled up around his knees. He pulled back the covers and straightened slowly, hoping the shower would wake him. He glanced back at the bed and saw Liz, a lump beneath the blanket. She would be late, but she had talked about taking a day off, carefully not saying whether she would lie to her boss. Henry staggered into the bathroom. She was still in bed when he left. She had stopped seeing her friends lately. As much as many of them irritated him, he recognized it as a bad sign. In the past she had dragged him to parties, to sit in the corner with four other men. It was horrible, really, but good for her. He had gotten phone calls from people he barely knew, hoping she was all right. 'You know, if there's anything I can do...' He told them she was fine. Rattled, certainly, but nothing to worry about. One woman, whose name Henry had forgotten, assumed a fast intimacy. 'Gary and I ... with our first â€” well, the first pregnancy. It didn't take, and it was weeks before I could tell him. He was asleep when it happened. I just woke up in pain, and I didn't have to go to the hospital or anything. It just happened, and when it was over I cleaned it up without saying anything. I assumed it was something wrong with me, that I was... So I know what you guys are going through, and if there's anything I can help with at all, for either you or Lizâ€”' 'I'll pass that along. Liz is really doing much better, though. It's nothing serious.' When it was over, he felt as if he should wipe his face off. She was not that close to him, or to Liz. He would have known her ifshe were. How did she even know?
Liz had told a friend, probably, because she needed someone to talk to, and the friend had spread it. He worried that the woman had some claim on them now, and on whatever problems they had. On the bus, coming back from work, Henry could not get warm enough. He wore his hat and closed his coat, even sitting over the heater. He lost the heat as soon as he stepped off the bus, and was shivering by the time he got to the building. He smiled when he saw the tree outside, sloped awkwardly but twisting up at the top. It went almost to the top of the building, and the branches had been lopped off on one side to make way for power lines, leaving stumps like wounds, that leaked sap and left white marks down the tree. He could usually see it out his window, but rarely looked at it from below. He got inside and looked for Liz, but she wasn't there. Apparently she had gone to work after all. His feet were cold from the trapped coldness of his shoes, and he wanted to take them off but he didn't. He got some ground meat out to thaw for dinner and stumbled into the bedroom. He hated to know about the woman's miscarriage, mostly because he didn't want to be that close to her. She had forced it on him, and he had quietly accepted it. He worried that he only had the capacity for so much closeness, and he didn't want to waste it on her. He sat on the bed, took off his shoes, and rubbed his feet to get warmth in them. Why was she so eager, anyway? Leaning back, his hand touched hair andjerked away, startled. Liz was hidden under the blanket, wrapped in her coat. He wondered ifshe had kept it on from outside, or ifshe had only grabbed it from the chair at the foot of the bed before crawling back in. He stood up slowly, trying not to wake her. She murmured something, and he moved towards the door. Henry often realized, when the day ended, that he could no longer remember waking up. When he did remember, it took effort, and the memory lost its immediacy. Laboring to remember his anniversary, he realized that he no longer remembered meeting Liz. It
by Smita Gopisetty
was somewhere in there, probably, but he didn't have the energy to dig it out. Out ofthe same laziness, it was difficult to imagine living without her. His life would be too different. He was done with that spectrum of concerns, and they were unthinkable now. The rhythm ofhis life was formed around hers, and if they didn't speak — both sitting at the table for breakfast — it was because she already knew what he would say. He found it funny when she feigned modesty — changing clothes behind the closet door, afraid he'd see — because he had seen her naked enough to no longer prize it. In the middle of an argument — usually about money, but it didn't matter — she would suddenly start rattling off words, noisy and rapid, until he suspected she did not understand what she was saying, but spoke by touch and sound. After a minute, he would break in, annoyed but not yet angry, and she would end abruptly. She would not speak again. It was a play for the moral high ground, but he couldn't help thinking she meant it. She was hurt suddenly, genuine and unaffected, afraid from his interruption, and he couldn't coax her out of it. She preferred to do things that way, without argument. He occasionally imagined a split, in the spirit ofworld leaders who plan for nuclear annihilation. Generally, he came to the same conclusion they did: it would be very very messy. An argument would cycle out of bounds, and he would say,'That's not what your father thought,' which he could not take back. Then, she would mention how he had treated his autistic brother, in grade school and beyond. She was quite capable of it, he suspected. They knew where all the wounds were, the points of damage. On Liz's side — she came close to tears after most phone calls from her father, and she didn't call him unless she had to. He was decaying mentally: the stroke had brought it on but age carried it further. Soon there would be nothing left. Why was it that he knew all this? It was something that could only be used to hurt her. He didn't need to know it. He didn't know her any better because of it. It dawned on him that she had told him to make the split so ugly it would never happen. He had done the same thing, without realizing. Houses, after all, arc made of walls. Penning them in was only keeping them
together; removing distance, and it was truly gone. She had gotten close enough, hugging from behind, that he could not twist to see her face. Even if he could, it lost focus so close to his own. He had been asleep when it happened, and the beginning came out jumbled in his mind. She woke him up, standing above him. 'We have to go to the hospital.' Yes, certainly, to the hospital. She said it quietly, ashamed. He called for an ambulance and grabbed a set of clothes. She held a towel between her legs going down the stairs, folded up to catch the blood. It had been clear to both ofthem what was happening, but Henry could no longer remember what they had said to each other. The doctors took her in for an ultrasound, a flickering green search for something living. They were only a few weeks in, so there were no body parts, and the patches of light seemed to flood the screen at random. Several times, Henry was sure he saw a hand or an elbow on the screen, but spread giant across it, too large to be real. One of the doctors said something Henry didn't understand and they carted her away. He walked alongside the gurney until they went through double doors and told him he had to stay there. Liz was knocked out by then, from what they had given her for the pain. (The doctor had said, 'uteral scraping,' he later learned. She couldn't carry the dead skin inside her, so they needed to open her up. If it was alive but hopeless, they cut it in half after tearing it out, bloodied and indistinct.) He stood in the hall by the threshold â€” there were no chairs â€”and waited for someone to come back. He had signed the forms because Liz was too doped up to sign them, but he didn't know what they meant. The doctors hadn't said what they would do, or they had said it too fast and he hadn't understood. He imagined they would cut her open, but it was a guess. He would see the scar later; a thin, elegant ridge offlesh on flesh. The doctors were operating, deciding the form and texture of her scar, and he waited in the hall. He remembered thinking that he had a role only because they gave him one. When it was over, someone came out to tell him what had happened.
The doctor explained it quietly, tactfully, but Henry could tell the others were still working. 'There is no evidence that this is anything other than a fluke. Your wife seems perfectly capable ofbearing a fetus to term.' Of course, it was all misdirection. He talked about future fetuses instead of the present fetus because they were sunnier, not yet a red-pink mass in a plastic bag somewhere. Liz, in the other room, could have heard a completely different speech. When the doctor left, Henry sat back down, and after a while they brought her out. He went home alone, and she stayed in the hospital. He didn't see her until the next day, coming to pick her up in a car he borrowed from a friend in the building. It was already dark, and they spoke little beyond basic politeness. She was tired, which gave her the right to be distant, and he obliged. He meant to be gentle, but he found himself angry with her. She had spent the night away from him, and been touched by a team of others. When he noticed the scar, hovering inches above her coarse fur, he saw it as a signature. It was a minor betrayal, the kind he was used to swallowing, but he took his small time until he was ready to talk to her again. She waited until they were in bed to break the silence. His chest was flat on the mattress, but she snaked an arm underneath and pulled close to him, her chin on his shoulder. When she spoke, it came out strange and halting, and for a moment he thought the sound might have come from somewhere else, the grunt of a neighbor through the thin bedroom wall or a car horn from the street. 'I think we'll be happier because ofthis.' Henry woke up warmer than he was used to, and slowly remembered why. He reached through the headboard and felt the new warmth of the radiator. He rolled over and saw Liz behind him, motionless, but with her eyes open.'We made it to the 20th,' he said, and she nodded. Her alarm clock started buzzing, and she turned it off and wriggled slowly out of bed. He wanted to rise, but couldn't leave the warmth. He heard Liz step into the shower, and pulled the blanket over his head, slowly drifting off.
She pulled the blanket back, waking him up again, into the cold. 'You'll be late,' she said, smiling. She was dressed now, looking at him from above. He crawled out of bed and into the shower, but it wasn't hot enough. He stood immobile in the water for a few minutes before he reached for the soap. When he came out, Liz was finishing breakfast. She stared out the window as she ate, and he could see various thoughts run across her face, coming out as raised eyebrows, or sudden looks to the side. Her face was incredibly expressive when she thought no one was looking. 'You look like you feel better,' he offered through the doorway, dressing discreetly in the other room. She flinched when she realized he was watching, and then forced a smile. 'It's amazing what a day off does. Yeah.' She paused, having run out of things to say, but then plunged back in. 'I ... I do feel better.' She finished the oatmeal and picked up her bag and coffee as Henry finished buttoning his shirt. He expected her to say something else before she left, but when he looked back through the doorway she was gone. Liz decided she couldn't miss Lena's birthday party, so they cleaned up and she made Henry promise to be nice. He wanted to suggest that she go alone, but he reminded himselfshe was recovering. He could imagine the conversation unfolding, ending in rigid silence. He kept quiet. Her house was large and old — he had taken the tour when she first got it — and the party spilled over into the upper floors. All the food and drink was in the kitchen, but Henry found groups milling around near the second floor bathroom, the guest bedroom — currently occupied by Lena's sister — and a room that seemed devoted exclusively to storing coats. Liz was downstairs, talking with Lena, Lena's sister, and someone else Henry didn't recognize. Coming out of the bathroom, he heard a low male voice. 'You're Elizabeth's husband, aren't you?' It was odd to hear her name that way, contorted and foreign. He nodded. A small woman spoke up from his left. 'I think I met you at last year's Christmas party.' He feigned recogni-
tion until she prompted him. 'Jan.' He repeated it and nodded. The man spoke again, deep and loud. `So how have you guys been? We missed her yesterday.' Henry wondered how much they had been told, and how much it would be right for him to say. She got sick? It was better than the vague answers he would otherwise give, and the untruth of it seemed minor. 'She's been really sick, sort of on-and-off for a couple weeks.' The woman's face jumped when he said it and he realized he had misjudged her. She was a closer friend, or had heard something. Pregnant? Miscarriage? Abortion? The word fluttered around his tongue for a moment. The man interrupted. 'What did she have?' He noticed the tension the question brought on, and offered,'My girlfriend is an internist.' Henry stammered a bit saying it. 'I really... I couldn't say. It was something long and Latin-sounding.' God, he was bad at this. But then, there was no point. The woman would say it as soon as Henry left. He mumbled something about the wine and scampered off, trying not to be seen. Downstairs, in a room that Henry thought should have a television in it, there was a group of men in armchairs,surrounding a bottle ofwine. He recognized one —Jim, the husband ofone of Liz's friends —and sat down with them. Jim nodded, but none of the others seemed to notice. 'You keep saying that you've been screwed, but I just don't see it.' The man was leaning in over the bottle, and looking only at the man he spoke to. 'I mean, you got the bad part of it, but what did she do that was wrong?' There was an uncomfortable silence, and he began to respond, but the man sitting in the corner stepped in. 'All right. Stop. Stop. Stop.' They waited for him to say something more, but he sat back and took a large drink ofwine. After a moment,they started to laugh. Jim leaned in to Henry, quiet but fast. 'He's into his second bottle.' He was clearly going as fast as he could, forcing it insensible down his throat. Henry glanced at the label, and remembered Lena talking about it. (It's Barollo, and a pretty good year. Spanish wines are so
underrated. It's criminal, really.' After a lull,'Have you seen the new La Traviata?') The others went back to talking, and he retreated into his corner chair. As the party dwindled, he had snuck off to get a half empty bottle from the kitchen, and though he left it in the middle ofthe table as a gesture, he drank it alone. The house emptied steadily; the small woman from upstairs was careful to avoid eye contact as she left. Jim's wife came, and they left quietly, apologizing for having to go so soon. Leaning over the bottle, the man in the corner started talking to Henry. 'I heard about what happened with you and your wife, and I know that has to be really hard. I just want you to know —and Jim is with me on this — that you can't feel bad about it. We both think you did the right thing.' 'What do you mean?' 'You can't worry... Any serious thing in someone's life is going to be upsetting. I just mean, I only know you through Jim, so it's a little weird saying this, but I'm here for you.' 'But what do you mean about doing the right thing?' 'But... yeah, no. I think you did.' He was sitting back now, and Henry saw Liz coming down the hallway with the rest of the group, laughing. The man's wife was the one Henry hadn't recognized: tall, skeletal, and papery. When the man stood up to go, he threw part of his weight onto her in a onearmed hug. It seemed affected to Henry — he couldn't have been that drunk—but he leaned into her, and she leaned back to keep him up. He didn't speak,suddenly, as if he had forgotten how. Lena drove Liz and Henry home, and dropped them off underneath the bleeding tree. When they got to the apartment, Henry rushed to the bathroom to piss, and then brushed his teeth. When he came out, Liz was already asleep, neatly clutching her side of the bed. He tossed his clothes onto a chair in the corner and gingerly lifted the blanket to crawl in, wanting only to fade into sleep without having to touch her. Henry wondered what Jim had said, or what Jim had known. The line could be drawn quite clearly, he realized. Liz could confide in Jim's wife: quietly,
5 by Noam Rudnick FACTORY NO.
. Qi4 . animmem
emotionally, in an empty break room where she could use company Kleenex to preserve her makeup. Jim's wife would have to tell someone. The hospital rushed back, arriving unconnected and sudden, the images quickly revised: the blood; the doctor, clinically calm, talking about the capacity for birth; the pain, but told not felt, and guarded; a warmth on his chest; confession. He hadn't been there when she had found out she was pregnant. He had come home, and she had told him. They had been trying, and moving on the house at the same time, so it was almost expected. Still, he missed the immediate reaction, crying, swearing. And three weeks later: it didn't take after all and everything is just the way it was. They wouldn't try again; it went unsaid. She was pleased at it, but only passively, watching. It was too vague for a denial, but he imagined one anyway: 'Of course, I had nothing to do with this.' Pills, or maybe a shot, and then only waiting for the blood to come. The possibility of it emerged forced and painful, as ifit were being born. The decision to have the child had been quiet, but definite. He brought it up after going past a house for sale one too many times, and upset that the rent just disappeared each month. He had dreams of accumulating equity, small figures to fill a couch. When he told her, she only nodded. It was enough, of course, that she didn't object. She hadn't liked the houses. She had thought they were too small, and they were. He had made a joke about her figure, or thinking pregnant women were hot, and there had been silence. He remembered her face moving, and assumed thoughts — the pints of vomit accumulating over the months, the real internment of the home, the money —but he came up short. That wasn't what she had thought. She had thought something else, something inaccessible. He looked at her: a mass oferrant hair, her head turned away on the pillow. The thought, the word moved through his head — her faces, as if they were a foreign language. But there was no language. There was nothing that he knew. He returned to the scraping: the wet pink stream of weight. It was difficult to tell which of the meat was hers and which was the child's, but it could be done
with training. Correcting, they tore out the messy middle bits and left her complete, with all and only her own flesh. She became uncontaminated,immaculate. He was quite close to sleep now, and as he got closer his logic became looser, and more certain. It was, in fact, his son: a miniature of himself tossing under the blanket of the womb,curled and afraid of the cold. He felt sick — both versions ofhim — suddenly and acutely, and blamed the creeping cold, the shrinking warmth. Not quite dreaming, he conceived a germ in what the doctors assured him was an impeccable womb. He saw months pass, and the pliant walls dried. Outside, her skin turned red as if from fever, forming in spots and spreading until it covered her arm, her back. Her hands swelled to distorted size, and pale stumps rose up like chopped tree branches, leaking sap that trickled towards her shoulder. From red, she turned gray, starting with the dead skin on her elbow and rushing up her arm and down her chest, into her stomach and across her face, until there was nothing left ofher but ash. Snow came early, leaving frost on the window and columns of snow piled between the sidewalk and the curb. Her alarm woke him. He glanced out the window, snow clinging to the tree outside, and curled back under the blanket. He felt Liz roll out ofbed, and heard her alarm stop, but he didn't look at her. The bed got colder when she lifted the blanket to leave, and he crawled out of the blanket only slowly, acclimating. He brought his head out of the side and saw light coming from the crack under the bathroom door, the sound ofthe shower suddenly present. He was too tired to move, or to sleep, so he waited for her to come out. When she did, he kept perfectly still so she wouldn't catch him awake. She dropped her towel on the way behind the closet door, revealing a ghostly pale back and strange pockets offlesh that formed on the sides of her stomach when she turned. She emerged, a minute later, with bare legs under her shirt. She covered herself quickly with the pair of pants hanging on the dresser, armoring for the cold, and disappeared into the other room. Henry exhaled and pulled himself back into the blanket, covered in his own warmth.
DISTILLATION byJeremy Schmidt
1 23 ]
Parting the venetian blinds and watching sun-worn workmen empty the guts of the building across the street: crumbling plaster, wood and metal beams, dishwashers, torn armchairs, and ancient TVs thunder down a giant yellow tube as the open windows stare in disbelief at the bits tilling the green dunipster below like a girl whose purse pours open on the kitchen door and who looking down suddenly has no sense of her belongings.
PEN AND INK
by Nick 1/irlocur
I 24 I
The editors of The Yale Literary Magazine wish to thank Ruben Roman and the Yale English Department, Amy Bloom, Susannah Hollister, Henk van Assen, and the JE Master's Office. The design staff wishes to thank George Guman and Joe Maynard at RIS and John Robinson at GIST. The Yale Literary Magazine is a non-profit, registered undergraduate organization at Yale University. The views expressed in this magazine are not necessarily those of the editors or staff members. Yale University is not responsible for the contents of the magazine. The winner of the Francis Bergen Memorial Prize for Poetry is 'Distillation' by Jeremy Schmidt. The winner of the Francis Bergen Memorial Prize for Fiction is 'Bodies' by Russell Brandom. The winner of the Yale Literary Magazine Art Prize is Winchester Warehouse No.5 by Noam Rudnick. Amy Bloom was the judge offiction, Susannah Hollister was the judge of poetry & Henk van Assen was the judge of art. Subscriptions to The Yale Literary Magazine are available for si s (individuals) and s35 (institutions). Contributions to The Lit are welcome and taxdeductible. Make checks payable to the YLM Publishing Fund and mail to: THE YALE LITERARY MAGAZINE PO BOX 209087 NEW HAVEN, CT 06520 Library of Congress catalog number 7-19863-4 www.yale.edulylit/ The contents of the Yale Literary Magazine are © 2005. No portion of the contents may be reprinted without permission. All rights reserved.
caw SPRING STAFF EDITORS-IN-CHIEF Meredith Kaffel & Allison Stielau DESIGNERS James Lee & Grace Silvia PUBLISHER Jonathan L. Sherman-Presser MANAGING EDITOR Helen Vera LITERARY EDITOR Alexander Nemser SENIOR EDITORS Meral Agish & Katya Poltorak ASSOCIATE EDITORS Lexy Benairn, Tom Cannell,Jeremy Kessler, Chloe Kitzinger &Julia Wallace PUBLIC RELATIONS Annie Galvin & Laura Schewel EVENTS COORDINATORS Abigail Deutsch,Jason Meizlish & Alice Phillips CIRCULATION AND DISTRIBUTION Russell Brandom & Paul Gleason ART EDITOR Vali Lewis ONLINE EDITORS David Chernicoff& Gordon Jenkins
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The BODY TEXT is set in Bembo, based on type cut in Venice by Francesco Griffo in 1495 for use in De /Etna, an account qf the travels ofItalian humanist Pietro Bembo. The ORNAMENTS are set in Hoelier and the PAPER is Finch Opaque Bright White. The patterned design of the COVER & POSTER ART was created by compulsively arranging the English"and French punctuation marks of the typeface, Bembo.