Great Lake Review Spring 2016
e Great Lake Review SUNY Oswegos Literary Magazine Spring 2016 e Great Lake Review is open to submissions throughout the year. Please submit your ction, nonction, drama, poetry, and visual art as an attachment to: firstname.lastname@example.org Like us on Facebook: /pages/Great-Lake-Review @greatlakereview on Twitter @greatlakereview on Instagram greatlakereview.wordpress.com greatlakereview.tumblr.com e Great Lake Review is a product of your SA fee
e Great Lake Review SUNY Oswegos Literary Magazine Spring 2016 Special anks Laura Donnelly Creative Writing Department Editor-in-Chief Julian Daley Managerial Editor Danielle Minnick Secretary Christina Bandru Head Editor of Drama Jennifer Moss Head Editor of Fiction Marissa Capuano Head Editor of Nonction Kevin Son Head Editor of Poetry Ryann Crofoot Faculty Advisor Laura Donnelly Treasurer Jessica Hebblethwaite Art Manager Melissa Gottlieb Drama Editors Lauren Sanford Fiction Editors Dimitri Lockhart Cameo Napoli Nonction Editors Lindsey Moses Kassadee Paulo Kaela Towne Poetry Editors Carlene Smith Kirsten Staller Sarah Stamberg Shannon White
Located at 19 W. Bridge Street in downtown Oswego, the Rivers End Bookstore is GLRs o-campus home. Every year the Rivers End holds the release events for our fall and spring issues. All of us at GLR would like to extend a special thank you to everyone at our favorite independent bookstore, especially Bill and Mindy. THANK YOU RIVERS END!
TABLE OF CONTENTS Art Arches in Sevilla by Justina Babcock ........................................... Cover Kaleidoscoped by Rachel Bullock ............................... Rivers End Page Adamo Ignis by Dana Rae Hagberg ..................................................... 1 Owl and the Frog by Emily Clarke ....................................................... 8 Untitled by Victoria Jayne ................................................................... 19 At e Top Of e World by omas Bauschke ............................... 27 Landscape with Deer by Emily Clarke .............................................. 34 Angler by Dana Rae Hagberg ............................................................. 48 Nonction Bareback by Lindsay Karback .............................................................. 4 Episodes of Home by Jarred Lyndaker ................................................. 6 Shoot by Gabrielle Darling ................................................................. 15 e Rainbows Warmest Colors by Tatyana Bellamy-Walker ..................................................................... 28 e Middle by Dana Rae Hagberg ..................................................... 51 Drama Devils Deal by Jared Lyndaker ............................................................. 9 Sixes and Sevens by Aaron Golish ..................................................... 35 e Old Married Couple by Victoria Jayne ....................................... 40 Trapped Queen by Victoria de la Concha ......................................... 53 Fiction Come Along by Collin Henderson ....................................................... 2 Beneath the Willow by Shelby Coyle ................................................. 20 Paper Zoo by Abigail Allen ................................................................. 21 Letters to Jane by Abigail Allen .......................................................... 32 Relentless by Jordyn Naylor ................................................................ 49 Poetry Pellow Yurple by Ashlie Woodcock ..................................................... 3 A Bath in a Tub by Lucki Cooper ........................................................ 5 He kisses like a poet by Kaili Morris .................................................. 26 Untitled by Sally Familia ..................................................................... 31 Drowning Father in the Oven by Jason Tan ...................................... 50 I Dont ink Id Be at Sad If He Died by Kaili Morris ................ 52
1 Adamo Ignis Dana Rae Hagberg
2 Come Along Collin Henderson e phone rings. He stands over the sink, holding his arm under the running water. Are you coming to the concert? Why not? No man, it wont be like last time, I swear. I told you, Ive been clean since last time. Well yeah, the stull probably be there. Do you have any faith in me at all? Besides, I stopped taking my medicine, so its not like Im an addict anymore. You know the meds only amplied the stus eects. Got drunk and high twice as fast when I was taking that medicine. Yeah, I remember that. No, I mean, I dont remember you dragging me outside or all that puke youre talking about, but yeah, I remember that. But I told you, its dierent. Yeah, Im clean. Really. I am. Yes, I mean it, Im in control of myself and Ill be in control tonight. Youll have nothing to worry about. Hell, you can get as trashed as you want. Ill keep an eye out for you. Great. Glad to hear it. Ill see you there tonight. He hangs up and nishes wrapping the deep gash on his arm with fresh bandages. It bleeds through into the sink and he tries washing it down the drain. But it keeps bleeding.
3 Pellow Yurple Ashlie Woodcock Have you ever stared at the sun? Sure you have, everyone does sometimes. Imagine that imprint, you know, that purple-yellow shadow haze that outline memory of what you tried to see? Like being high, kind of, I mean not really, not too much but the haze. at kind of fuzzy outline no matter how hard you think it just wont sharpen to a point? Or like when you are just about to fall asleep just turned o the light and the room is so much darker than it really is and nothing is in focus everything is too so and nothing looks right but if you ick the light on nothing looks right. Or, or, like being drunk, yeah? Except when youre drunk everyone else is hazy, not yourself, every thought is blindingly brilliant but the oor, others, words, the number of shots, those are blurred but only if your mouth could catch up to your brain. And that yellow-purple shadow idea, it just jolts away no matter what haze that keeps it from the center of your gaze.
4 Bareback Lindsay Karback I woke up to a dark room illuminated by the bright screen of my IPhone. e silk of a sheet-less, bareback mattress catching on my skin; the feeling of a hole and stung under my naked legs where the beagle successfully dug in; the smell of musty laundry. Comprehending where I was, the Oops, I did it again feeling followed by a wave of comfort and familiarity lled me as my head throbbed and I realized what had awoken me. Ding, it went o again and I make to grab it, careful not to jostle the limp arm that is draped across me from behind. e name on the screen makes my stomach drop, not out of guilt, but for some other reason I cannot grasp. Are you ok? Just wanted to make sure you got back alright. I slide the phone back on the nightstand without knocking over the various half empty Bud Light bottles that litter it. But before I can settle back into sleep I feel the arm tighten over my torso. Who is it, he asks in the usual groggy, monotone voice that Ive become too accustomed to. Just a friend, I answer sleepily, trying to brush the question o in the hopes I can avoid it until the morning. You mean your boyfriend. Ex, I say rolling over to face him, not quite sure how to reassure him or if I even care enough to. My nose presses into his beard that smells of wet, stale cigarettes and beer. Its like that smell that clings to every inch of you aer a house party. e smell that causes you to soak in a shower for 30 minutes the next day with your head feeling like it has been hit by a bus. e smell that haunts your room with the remainder of the nights regrets and mistakes if you dont wash your clothes immediately aer. e smell that the boy back home, the one whose eyes creased in the corners and closed when he smiled aer he told me I could do better, would never carry. And yet here I was forcing that unwanted smell into my nostrils.
5 A Bath in a Tub Lucki Cooper Based on a FB Post by Ishara Harris If there were a way to actually collect tears, I would have a whole bath full sinking into silk sheets, staring at the golden streaks shimmering through the dimmed clouds droplets of rain beat o the overhead window, our glass shield, a way to keep out the mourning son weeping over his lost star. e one I clambered up the porcelain depths for, her warmth reached for the shallow surface near my bed and I had to pursue I apologize for making you start anew
6 Episodes of Home Jarred Lyndaker I come from a microscopic town in Upstate New York, in what everybody there says is the heart of dairy farm country. eyre not wrongIm sure its gotten better since my early daysbut the place is mostly cows. And white people, mostly of French and German heritage. If you were at all ethnic it was likely that you were either one of the underpaid illegal Mexicans (Not sure if they were Mexican, but here you might as well have been) working on the farms or in the dish-pits at restaurants, or you were one of the occasional black people, or you were the token Italian guy that came into town to open a pizzeria. Other than that you were probably a Mennonite, a path my particular lineage deviated from, which is something I can only describe as Electric-Amish. ere was probably about as much sexism as there is any place else in America, and if you were in the closet you probably just kept it safely closed until you graduated and le. is town was a sort of black hole. If you stayed in this place too long youd stay forever. If you le you just never came back. One exception was my parents, whod exposed themselves to the world via my fathers service in the Navy. Dad spent time in other countries with people from all over the states; Mom lived in every state where he was stationed. Being the youngest of the three, I have only a few fragmented memories from this time. I remember when we moved in with Dads parents for a little while, and then I remember turning three. But I know their experiences granted them some perspective before their return to Upstate New York, which was factored into the way I was raisedand for that I am eternally grateful. I grew up with what I think is close to true sense of right and wrong. ough my mom was very much the domesticated housewife during my fathers time in the Navyshe had three boys, so she had to stay home just to make sure the house would stay intactwhen we returned to New York that changed. Mom worked at pharmacies, banks, and doctors oces. Dad worked at paper mills using operating soware, now well paid for his career experience in the Navy. When my brothers were old enough to work their rst job was to nd a job. When they found one, they saved up and bought themselves a truck, or a threewheeler, or whatever else they wanted but didnt really need. My parents werent afraid to help us out by paying a bill every now and then, if we screwed up or had bad luck. It was a matter of love, honor, and respect
7 that we didnt take advantage. We all pulled our own weight in this family, but that didnt mean we couldnt lend each other a helping hand if one of us needed it. Im sensing a political allegory here. I was raised to be tolerant. Very clear and simple rules: dont be assholes to people just because they are dierent from you. Racism and misogyny are not permittedhomophobia and homosexuality wasnt an issue that was addressed. Sex in general was not talked about, except for drunken jokes around the family bonres. But Ive heard my parents say things that sound and might be racist. Ive heard my father use the N word. Its not his favorite word, but he grew up around white people saying it. He doesnt own a white hood. Hes made comments that arent politically correctprobably no dierent from comments you would nd in the interior monologue of any working class person whos lived long enough to make observations and inferences. But these facts jarred me for a while. I knew what political correctness was; aer all Id seen plenty of talks about it on TV. I didnt like what Id heard, but I didnt make accusations. I asked questions. I asked my father if hes ever hung out with black people in the Navy. is was his reply as I recall, and I may be paraphrasing a bit: Sure I hung out with plenty of them. I worked beside them every day. I made really good friends with a fewbut heres the thing: once theyre around other black people its like they dont know you anymore, and you dont know them. Do I think my dad is a racist? No, I think hes observantalbeit scorned and carrying a bit of contempt. Its hard to blame people who make an eort and have it thrown in their face. I believe it was around that same time of when Id questioned him that my mother was working as a sales clerk at Kinney Drugs. I remember the night she came home from work crying. She sat outside on the front porch that night and smoked a half pack of cigarettes. Marlboro Reds, I remember. It was the rst pack I would buy years later. Ten-year old me would take them out of her mouth and toss them, then shed light another. She hadnt smoked in ten years; in fact, wed just gotten my father to quit.
8 Owl and the Frog Emily Clarke
9 Devils Deal Jarred Lyndaker INT. BEDROOM MORNING e ALARM CLOCK goes o while BRAD (24) is sleeping in his bed, unaected, in his underwear, drooling on his pillow with an Xbox controller in his hands. Brad wakes up and glances at the clock. BRAD Oh shit! EXT. STREET IN TOWN DAY A speed-limit sign reads 35 along a stretch of road leading to an intersection with a trac light. INT. SPOTLESS TOYOTA CAMRY NICE GUY(30) drives by the sign dressed in a baby-blue sweater, hair combed, whistling Taylor Swi and nodding to the beat while driving exactly 35. INT. MESSY GRAND AM Brad is speeding, wolng down a Quarter Pounder while checking his tie and hair in the mirror. System of a Down plays on the stereo. INT. SPOTLESS TOYOTA CAMRY Nice Guy stops at a red light, tapping his ngers on the steering wheel and singing. NICE GUY (sings) I knew you were trouble when you walked in!
10 INT. MESSY GRAND AM Brad bites open a ketchup packet, stus his mouth full of fries, and then points the ketchup packet at his mouth as he speeds toward a green light. e light turns yellow. Ketchup doesnt come out, so he squeezes harder. Ketchup explodes into his eyes. e light turns red. INT. SPOTLESS CAMRY Nice Guys light turns green and he drives forward, bobbing his head to the music. EXT. TOWN INTERSECTION Brads car T-bones Nice Guy. Both cars tumble from the force of the collision and come to a stop upside-down with both drivers sides facing each other just a few meters apart. TIME STANDS STILL as everything freezes with the exception of Brad and Nice Guy who are both bruised and bleeding, pressed against their seats by the triggered airbags. THEY CANNOT MOVE, THEY CAN ONLY LOOK AROUND. Brad sits, stupeed, with a long fry dangling from his mouth, blinking the ketchup out of his eyes. A geyser of water shooting from a broken re hydrant stays frozen still. Millions of water droplets are suspended in the air along with leaves and debris. A smooth, classy male voice speaks. MALE VOICE (O.S.) Now if a crash like that doesnt put lead in your pencil, I dont know what will. THE MAN IN BLACK, a tall, pale man with red eyes and a black suit walks by the re hydrant. Water droplets that touch him sizzle and turn to little pus of steam. He walks between the two cars and stoops down to speak to
11 Brad and Nice Guy, looking back and forth between the two of them. He turns to a dumbstruck Brad. MAN IN BLACK Hello, Brad. Pleased to meet you. e man extends a hand, Brad reaches for it. BRAD Um...hi. e man yanks his hand back and slicks his hair. MAN IN BLACK Ha! I still got it! NICE GUY Well that sure was a doozy I hope youre doing okay over there! BRAD (to Man in Black) Who the fuck are you, man? MAN IN BLACK Aw, man I hoped youd guess my name. is is embarrassing. BRAD (shrugs) Sorry. MAN IN BLACK Oh, its ne. I guess fame isnt forever. (rolls his eyes) Allow me to introduce myself. NICE GUY Im sorry guys, I hate to be a bug in you ear, but-
12 MAN IN BLACK (to Nice Guy) Shut the fuck up, Randy! Anyway. e Man in Black shakes his head. MAN IN BLACK (CONTD) Screw it. Ill just get to the point. You, sir, have a choice to make. You or him. BRAD Him or me? What for? MAN IN BLACK is was quite an accident. You cant both walk away from this. So between you and I, Ive seen your car insurance policy. e way your rates are about to spike, maybe opting out of this worlds not such a bad idea. BRAD Arent you going to ask him? MAN IN BLACK Him? Fuck no! BRAD Why not? Why do I have to choose? MAN IN BLACK Why did you need a double quarter pounder with cheese for breakfast? Come on, dont act like you take life seriously now. BRAD I want to know. Really. Whats the point and why am I choosing?
13 MAN IN BLACK Fine. OK. Look, being an eternal cosmic entity gets boring. Watching you people gets boring, I mean youre either sleeping, eating, or in the bathroom like most of the time. So we mix things up when we can. Randy over there always does the nice thing. Hed choose himself to die just because choosing you would be rude. Its bland. Predictable. Hes like a fuckin saltine cracker. But you? You dont always make the noble decision. We can have a good time with you. BRAD Look, I dont want to kill anyone, especially not if hes a nice person! MAN IN BLACK And that guy is the nicest, believe me. He actually pays for TV and music. But you dont want to die either, do you? eres no XBox in Hell. We just play Uno. BRAD No, I dont. Beat. BRAD (CONTD) Ugh this fucking sucks. I cant do this. I defer the choice to him. MAN IN BLACK You dont want to die, but you dont want to have to be the one who chose to live, is that right? BRAD
14 I guess. MAN IN BLACK If you say so. e Man in Black looks at Nice Guy. MAN IN BLACK (CONTD) Alright, its up to you! Who dies? You or him? NICE GUY Well, the heck with that guy! I wanna live! BRAD What the fuck, man? MAN IN BLACK ey dont call me the Father of Lies because of my overwhelming honesty. Nobody fucking reads anymore, I swear to God. e Man in Black pulls an apple from his pocket, wipes it on his sleeve, and takes a bite. MAN IN BLACK (CONTD) See you in Hell, Brad! TIME UNFREEZES Brads car explodes. FADE TO BLACK
15 Shoot Gabrielle Darling Its dark and quiet, the wind doesnt even whistle through the trees. e whole forest is asleep the owls have come to nest and the turkeys are hiding in the thick clumps of pines. Everything is still except for the occasional rustle from where my father and I sit. Our backs are wedged rmly into the trees and neither one of us move as we survey the leaf-covered ridge ahead of us. Rays of light slowly hit the trees, casting a glimmer on the wet leaves along the forest oor. My dad leans comfortably into the rough bark, his mask pulled tightly up to his chin. e gun sits rmly but calmly in his hands, the barrel leans out across his chest, tilted slightly upwards so no mistakes can be made. It ts him, this long metal and wood instrument, ts his large rough hands and broad chest. It doesnt make him shrink and cave under its weight, even as he appears to be dozing in the early morning light. I know the second theres movement the stock will be locked rmly against his shoulder and the barrel will sight his target into place, one quick uid stroke and itll be ready. His camouage ts well and he blends into the background even from where I sit next to him. e only thing that lets me know hes still there is the deep slow breathing and the occasional blink of his eyelids. I stare at the stock of the gun, the part that ts into my shoulder, scared to death of the forceful kick that will knock me back into the trees if I get the chance to shoot something myself. I wish I would grow a little faster, just enough to be able to take the shock of a hit or be able to li this machine easily. When I stagger under its weight its hard to know if Im ready for it. ** Pull it in tight, my dad instructs me, stepping behind and cramming the stock into my thin and bony shoulder. I pull it in as tightly as I can manage and attempt to raise the gun to my target a lonely little pork n beans can sitting on a fencepost about ten yards away. Its heavy; the barrel keeps drooping to the ground every time I raise it. I spread my legs apart in an attempt to give myself leverage, knowing that when Im sitting I wont have this luxury. Good, now take your time, he says stepping away to stand at the side. He crosses his arms and watches, standing perfectly still as he waits for me to pull the trigger. He might stand still, but hes excited. I can hear it in his voice, in his mind theres already an eight point buck standing in front of me. Ive only got to pull one little lever for it to be mine. Hes
16 so proud that his eldest is nally old enough to go hunting, something that made his own year when he was a kid. To go out and bullshit with his brothers and friends about the size of their bucks and does, sharing hunting stories and mishaps with the old timers, feeling a part of a warm circle of friends and nally being able to take his place among them. e eects of this event sound wonderful, but Im not there yet and itchy trigger nger I do not posses. I stare down the barrel trying to line the little nub at the end with my target and hold it there for more than three seconds. Its heavy and my arm and shoulder ache with the weight of the gun. A breeze whips up and the can shivers and jitters as I line up on it. I try to imagine what its like to have a living breathing creature on the end. Its hard to be excited when theres a life on the end of this machine. I mumble Im sorry, and yank back on the trigger. e gun blows backward into my shoulder and the can ies into the air, doing a perfect ip before landing with a dent on the ground. I reload immediately, popping the old casing out and pushing in a new one, just as Ive been taught. My hands are shaking and my shoulder aches though, making it impossible to t the smooth shell into the chamber. My dad walks over and gives me a hand, helping me to pop it in. When we get to the woods, you wont feel any of that, your adrenaline will take care of it all, he tries to comfort. I only half believe him, I know my adrenaline will be going, but probably not for the same reasons. My eyes look at the can resting on the ground, theres a perfect hole in the tin and its caved itself in from the impact. Just let it be quick, I pray. I glance at my dad, not sure how to phrase my concerns. Dad, what do we do if I injure it? I ask. He takes the gun from me and looks down the barrel. If you line up on it, you shouldnt miss, he replies. Its a solid gun that requires a solid target and youre a good shot. He gestures to the can convulsing on the ground. Still, I mumble looking at the can weaving haphazardly in the mud as the wind pushes it around. He looks at me as I stand there rubbing my aching shoulder, trying to stand up straight, but even the breeze jostles my thin frame around. He nods and points to the dense patch of brown striking into the horizon, its the woods well be hunting in a few days from now. You look for a blood trail and track in through the woods, he begins, kneeling down and jostling a few brown leaves with his boot. It should leave a few drops every couple of feet on the leaves. I nod as he puts a hand on my shoulder and points at the ground as though were following one now. When we nd it you nish the kill
17 make it clean and put it out of its pain. en do better next time. He smiles reassuringly. Ive injured a couple of deer myself and its a messy job, but you always nish it. You dont let it wander in pain if you can help it. I nod and he stands, handing the gun back to me. Try it one more time, he says pointing to the fencepost this time. I li it again and take aim. Be condent, you can make a clean kill. Just dont hesitate. I take a deep breath and pull back on the trigger. ** e sun has brightened the woods considerably, everything turning pale yellow and white as it slowly arcs into the sky. Ive forgotten what its like to be up here, to hike along the cool trails and play in the creeks. It seems an age since the last time I came here. My dads head slowly turns and he shis the gun carefully. He nudges me and points towards the gulley. At rst I dont see anything but the same ragged trees and leaf-strewn oor. Suddenly, the branches shi and change. A buck strides into the morning light. I hold my breath and freeze, praying he wont see us. His muscles ripple and the sunlight hits his antlers as he proudly steps along the rocks and crevices of the creek bed. He stops in front of a tree, disappearing for a moment as he pauses and scours the ground for greenery. My dad nudges me again and I pull the gun up, managing to raise one of my knees to support the barrel. Its awkward, being crunched around this device, trying to support it and stay upright, while its weight crushes me. e buck steps out and freezes between two trees, perfectly framed and perfectly still. I lean over the top of the gun lining up on my target. I try to t my ngers into the trigger, but the fabric of the gloves wont t. Slowly I rip o my gloves and roll the sleeves backwards, hoping the buck wont have moved. Hes still framed between the two trees, although he drops his head and paws the ground, obviously picking up on my movement. My dad is still, waiting for me to line up and be ready. Aer a moment the buck turns to the side a perfect set-up. I take a deep breath and lean my face against the smooth wood of the stock, sighting my target. e gun is drawn tightly into my shoulder. Shoot, my dad whispers. Shoot! e throat of the deer ripples under his glossy fur. He inhales deeply then exhales a thick white mist that oats upward and tangles in
18 his antlers. Hes antsy and shues the ground impatiently. Just behind his front leg I can make out the subtle movement of a heartbeat. Its quick and fast-paced, full of adrenaline and anxiety; hes sensed us now. My own heart beats along with his as I take aim at the rhythm. e trigger is on my nger before I know it and Ive yanked back. e gun goes o, but I dont hear it. I dont feel the shoulder ripping kick as I stare down the barrel at my target. eres a dusty poof in front of us and when it clears the deer is gone. I reload quickly, stand up, and point the gun upwards all the while feeling numb. Knowing Im not going to shoot, my dad moves forward and examines the area. In front of us is a broken branch from one of the trees framing the deer and below that a triple skip mark. Aer some digging my dad recovers the very same bullet Ive just shot. He turns and grins. I blow air out of my cheeks feeling them heat up and turn to look in the direction the deer has ed. Shoot, I mutter.
19 Untitled Victoria Jayne
20 Beneath the Willow Shelby Coyle Kelly always wanted to be buried beneath a willow. She even picked one out, spent an entire day driving until she found the perfect one overlooking a river, its boughs brushing the water crying leaves onto the surface. Her descriptions had always been beautiful, but Sheila never saw the tree before today. Sheila got out of the car and hurried around to the passenger side, opened the door. She brushed the limp curls out of Kellys face, met her eyes. Forced a smile. Kelly smiled back, tired, but her eyes still shone. Help me up? Kelly asked. She raised an arm, dark skin stretched over thin bone. Of course, Sheila said. ey walk-shue-tripped over to the willow, ducked beneath its arms. I want to face the water. Sheila helped her to the ground, settled her in with her back against the bark. She sat down next to her, held her close. Tried not to think about how tiny she was, how frail. Remembered her only as Kelly lovely Kelly with her thick curls and heady laugh, warm skin and eyes brighter than stars. She was not warm now. Sheila turned to her, pressed a gentle kiss to her lips, and Kelly smiled. She sat with her till the sky bled orange and the warmth had seeped away. en she stood, pressed a last kiss to Kellys forehead, and went back to the car to grab the shovel. She had always wanted to be buried beneath a willow.
21 Paper Zoo Abigail Allen He had said his name was Gene and poured me a glass of orange juice and made me a paper swan. He was ugly to anyone but me. ose thin rubbery veins twisting around his skinny arms were like ropes of beads sewn into his esh. e crooked nose and thick lips, caught in a blender and punched by a bully. e deep sea eyes, shades of underwater monsters and icy lakes. I wanted to touch his hair and tell him that I loved him when I rst saw his magic. It was in his ngers. He picked up his squares of paper and made creatures dance. To the waitresses he gave puckered lotus owers in shades of gray and pink, Chinese drawings dripping on the tips. But when he saw me sitting at the counter, alone with book and usual plate of jellied toast and over-easy eggs, runny yolk soaking the bread, he had pity on the lonely bookworm. I have a great feeling you adore things with wings, he said. Im Gene. Allow me. A glass of orange juice. His ngers weaving through the paper the birth of a violet swan. I grinned a yellow smile, my teeth coated in yolk. e swan ew into my hands. Shes lovely. Whats her name? Its up to you to christen her. But you brought her to life. God didnt name the animals, my dear. He was a memory in my mouth and a stranger to my soul. I liked his smile and his ngers; like a painted clown with balloon animals. I asked him what he liked to do when he wasnt making paper zoos. I write bad poetry, he said. And walk on stilts around my garden. How bad? How tall? Burnt popcorn bad and high enough to taste the clouds. I want to taste them too. What avor? Nougat and sapman-made and natural. Like your paper zoos. Like my paper zoos. We met two days aer that for coee at my sister Maggies cafe. It was dark and cramped and warm, like the inside of a thimble. We huddled in the table in the corner with the wobbly chair and taught each
22 other tricks with our tongues. Gene could fold his into a hot dog. I could fold mine into a clover. Im jealous, he said. And I hardly covet anything. You Catholic, confessing your sins to me. Im an open bookI confess to God at football games. Gene bought me hot chocolate in a paper cup and said he was taking me someplace to explore. You love books, I think. Your ngertips are smooth. All I see are scars and paper cuts. Perhaps a bit of both. We drove in Genes car to a fountain in a tiny town I had never heard of. e fountain was wedged in the middle of an English garden, neatly ossed shrubs and shaved hedges tucking it away like a hidden jewel. I gasped and grabbed Genes hand in shock. Blocks of gigantic books made of stone were piled high, water owing from their open pages and tilted spinesa fountain of literature, swimming. I ran to it, too excited to breathe. Jumping up on the edge of a book, I perched like a cat and stared down into the pool of water rippling below. Coins like sh scales glittered on the bottom. I attened and lay on my stomach, kicking my feet and watching the dancewater, pages, covers, words. Who said books couldnt get wet? Gene climbed on the other side of the fountain, sitting on a giant copy of Little Women. He grinned and pulled something from his pocket. He slid it down the spine of a book; it landed soundlessly in the water and began to oat toward me. e sleeping paper cat bobbed on the diamond water. I touched its folded nose with the tip of my nger. Cats dont like water, I said. is one does. Shes beginning to crumble. Good things are messy. Gene proposed to me a year aer that. I said no. He bought me cider and folded me a paper bunny and asked me why. Youre perfect, I said. ats hard to measure up to. Who said anything about measuring? I like to guess. Be serious Gene, who stays together anymore these days? People who want real love. I bit my tongue. My voice was so. I dont want you to get sick of me. Whod get sick of sunshine? You always answer with questions.
23 Maybe theyre actually metaphors. Gene kissed my hand and tucked a paper rose behind my ear. He smiled and rubbed my ngers and stared out the window at the settling fall. I sighed. Fine. I will. Gene closed his eyes. It was the rst time I saw him cry. e month aer our wedding we spent traveling the world. Germany and Russia and New Zealand and China. We le little trails of paper when we walked the Great Wall and danced in St. Petersburg. We made love out of paper in the bed of us. Gene kissed my neck. I giggled and skipped out of reach. So elusive! Like a queen on her throne, untouched. I placed the crude paper crown around my head and put my hands on my hips. My brows furrowed. As queen I ask you to give your life for the sake of the royal crown, I said. You ask but do not command? I raised my chin and glanced away. I pity the peasant-folk. Gene leapt from the bed and swung me into his arms. We danced and laughed and jumped too much; the hotel complained. We le the next day. ree years into our marriage we got pregnant with twins. I bloated to the size of a baby beluga and craved bread and mashed potatoes. Gene went out everyday and bought loaves of bread and sacks of potatoes. I grinned when we walked through the door, juggling the grocery bags. And Im not even Irish, I said. Gene set the things on the counter and walked over to me sitting on the couch. I was watching e Lion King. He sat beside me and looked down at my big belly. He pulled out two paper babies from his pocket and set them on my stomach. I watched his welling eyes and squeezed his hand. Whats wrong? I asked. Nothing, absolutely nothing, he said. He kissed my collarbone and leaned into my neck. You really are a queen. I watched Simba explore the elephant graveyard on the TV. My lips trembled. I still got nervous around Gene. I was in love with you even before you gave me the swan to keep, I said.
24 Gene looked up at me and wrapped himself around me and my bigness. Tell me a poem, I said. A bad one. Doubt thou the stars are re On our sixth anniversary Gene told me his body had started aching. e twins, Fred and Winnow, stayed with his parents while we went to the doctor. Gene gave them each laminated paper frogs before we le. When we came back from the fourth appointment a few weeks later we brought orange juice and paper cranes to soen the news. Five months later he was the guest of honor at a walkathon for ALS. I fetched him lunch and took him out for strolls in his wheelchair when he wasnt cooped up in the tents folding wishes for everyone. Paper zoos everywhereelephants and tigers and cranes and pandas and coiled cats. No swans. ose were for me, only. I sat down beside Gene at the table and swiped an orange sheet from the stack beside him. He turned his head slightly and grinned. What do you imagine that paper to be, my darling? he asked. An albatrossorange and on re like the sun. Gene reached over and touched my ngers, the folds. I knew youd like things with wings, he said. His eyes swam and I looked away, my hand pressed against his arm. Winnow cried when her daddy refused to fold a unicorn for her. Babydoll, I said, scooping her up and plopping her on the couch facing the crumpled man in the wheelchair. Its not that hes refusing to. en why isnt he taking the paper when I hand it to him? I stared at Genegorgeous veined arms folded and twisted like a paper creature. Big still eyes, concentrating on the carpet. I liked things with wingswhat kind of thing was this? I bit back a scream and buried my face into Winnows little back. We sat on the couch together; him crumpled up beside me, his TV tray stacked with paper and me half asleep on the couch. I was in and out of dreams. I was a blue swan in one and Gene was a hunter. A tiger came out of the woods and tore him to shreds before I could get to him. e moon reached down and clipped my wings. I plunged to my death. In another we both rode on the back of a giant orange albatross. But its wings were on re and we ended up burning alive. In all of the dreams, either way, we both died. Two tormented hours later I woke up. Gene was dead. My rst
25 reaction was to slap him. I slapped him to wake him up. I slapped him for leaving me alone. en I sobbed into his wrinkled chest. His smell was starting to fade. e smell of paper. I glanced over at the TV tray. I dont know how he did it. It was impossible. I guess there was a little magic le in his ngers, a little bit of love in motion. Either that or an angel had put it there to torture me. In the center of the little brown tray, swimming in a fumbled stack of thin paper squares, poked out a little white head. I carefully picked away the papers, one by one, and tossed them on the ground until only the little folded white swan remained, her neck craned upwards and her wings spread out, ready to take ight.
26 He kisses like a poet Kaili Morris in a place I shouldnt have been, somewhere, USA vulnerable, heavily edited. Each move is deliberate. His hands outline the structurerst centered on the page bodies pressed together with the smallest spaces. Abruptly you are justied against the right wall. He reads you carefully inspecting every inch of your neck making sure no unnecessary words made it into your skin. Count the beat of the syllables with the smack of lips. Gasps for air are commas, pushing him away is a line break. Pulling him back in is a Capital Letter.
27 At e Top of the World omas Bauschke
28 e Rainbows Warmest Colors Tatyana Bellamy-Walker At ve years old, I never wanted to be the fairy princess for Halloween. I yearned to be scary and sometimes I would dress up in a boys costume if I couldnt nd a scary one for little girls. Each year, my mother took me to Party City on Sux Street in Massapequa, and I picked a skeleton mask, Scream mask or even just a mask with boils, lumps and a big, fat nose. My mother didnt care that I wore pants with a mask, but in October, the kids in Mrs. Chaikins class became skeptical of my masculine attire. Mrs. Chaikin had round glasses and dirty blonde hair. She crossed o the names of my classmates when taking attendance. Jackie, Chad, Kaashief, David, Brandon, Ijaa? I am here, Mrs.Chaikin, the girls said. ey had box braids lined in their hair and they giggled to each other and used their hands to hold down their polka dotted tutus. Tatyana? Are you here? Mrs.Chaikin asked. Yes! I am present, Mrs. Chaikin. My words oen whistled out between the gap in my two front teeth. I didnt recognize you, dear. Oh, how scary you are today! Why do you dress like a boy? Nino asked, chewing on the eraser at the back of his pencil. Uhh. I dont know, I said. Fire burned across my chest as I realized I had the ability to curb the truth. For years, I didnt have the words to explain why I wanted to dress dierently from my other classmates. My family never condemned me for my clothing choices, but my dad wondered why I did not want to wear a dress. Only later did I realize why I didnt feel comfortable wearing dresses. Dresses felt feminine, and I didnt always feel feminine in the same way that my female classmates did. I found it more and more convenient for me to tell myself and others that I was unsure of my sexuality as I grew older. For a time, I didnt have to think about my sexuality. If I fessed up to myself, I would have to accept my preferences. Until this year, I couldnt do that. During winter break, I watched a series of coming-out tapes on LOGO, channel 174, and all the boys and girls cried in front of their parents about their undying desire to date the same sex. In each T.V. episode, the teens are sitting in a living room, and their parents say they always knew their child was gay or bisexual. In fear of rejection, some
29 children waited years for the right time to tell their parents, who they truly love. I mirrored the youth in the television set who were struggling with their identity. Before my mother returned from her evening shi on Monday nights, she would leave a voicemail that started with Hi, my love dumpling and ended with Is there anything you need to talk about? I deleted those messages. I tightened my jaw and decided that there was nothing I wanted to talk about. I hid the names of my female crushes in black and white notebooks, which I locked with a key in my bedroom drawer. During school hours, I walked a brown skinned Haitian girl to her geometry class and hoped that one day we could share a Coca-Cola. e ideas of same sex relations were oating in my head, but they never came to be a reality. Instead, I chose boyfriend aer boyfriend and these relationships became a cycle of mixed up emotions in my head. I longed for the girl next door, but I was handed another Ken doll to add to my dumpster collection. A T -shirt that read on the front, I support equality 2015 and in the back said, Out and Proud was a hearty conversation starter at my grandmas Sunday dinner. At my grandmas house, I stued my face with yucca, rice and beans, I watched my 80 year old grandmother peel a couple of yams. Are you gay? my grandmother asked as her glasses slid to the edge of her nose. Are ya, Tat? My mother chimed in. I garbled my words. Jolting up the stairs in my pride T shirt, I realized that if today was the start of my coming-out story then God chose the wrong time. Around anksgiving, I casually told my cousins about my sexuality while sitting in the front seat of a van; however, it wasnt until mid January, when I sat my cousins down in the living room that they took what I said seriously. My cousins have tattoos inked on their shoulder blades, and oen I see them shadow boxing in the streets of Amityville. When I was younger, we tousled in the mud and devoured macaroni and cheese. I was the only girl in the family for some years. I loved Barbie dolls and Easy Bake Ovens. ey sat in front of the television screen, twiddling their thumbs during another round of the WWE SmackDown. Hey, Rajah you know Tot Tot is a pansexual, right? Justin said. Wait? Huh? Rajah said, as he picked up a burnt cigarillo from the living room oor. Staring at the ceiling, I slowly darted my eyes to my fair skinned relative. Yea, it just means that I like people for their hearts, not their parts, I said.
30 Yo, Tot Tot, I am surprised, Rajah said. I told you guys during anksgiving, I replied. I love and support ya, Tot Tot. Just dont push this onto Jaya. I dont want my sister living that pan, lifestyle. When I go to church, the pastor, a man with a steel ironed suit and paisley colored socks, hollers from the pulpit. Dozens of singers line the stage, and they chant Gods words in rhythmic harmonies. I consider myself a good Christian woman. I pray for monthly stomach cramp relief, and before annual awards, speeches, and even when I have writers block. I occasionally pray for forgiveness. Placing my right hand on the bible, I clench my rosary beads to my chest. According to the Bible, N either was man created for woman, but woman for man. However, in my eyes, God was having a bad day. e rst time I hear wedding bells, I hope there is a woman standing beside me. It was Friday, on the living room couch when my mother confessed her love for a man who works as a stockbroker on Wall Street. Hes a great guy, my mother said. I cant wait until he meets Ma. I was happy for my mom. She deserves to smile. However, I felt like my life was a heteronormative nightmare, drenched in marriage, husbands, boyfriends and children. All I hoped for, was a fairytale, where romance wasnt locked in journals or one night ings. e walls that Ive guarded for years were no longer to protect myself from my family, they were a barricade to the world. I like girls, Mom, I said. I still like guys too, but also trans, demisexuals and anyone in between. So you would have sex with a girl? My mother asked. You didnt feel this way before college. Did gure modeling make you gay, sweetie? No, I felt this way for years, I said. So who are you panning with? My mother questioned. I support you, Tat, and love you, but what do you mean theres more than two sexes? God created Adam and Eve. Not Adam and Steve right? One mile south of my residence hall in the Mahar building, classroom 203, the professor of my women and gender studies class listed the dierent gender variations on the board. Many people dont t into the gender binary, she said. e world has socially constructed gender and now its your generation who can willingly tear it down. Aer class, I sat on the ledge of the windowsill and a tinted arc appeared in the sky. e sun highlighted the colors that are oen unseen. If this is what it means to be out without wearing my pride T -shirt, Ill wear my colorful stripes in the warmest of shades.
31 Untitled Sally Familia November 25, 2005 I was initiated, dunked into a pool of promises, baptized into the Mormon church. August 16, 2012 e Book of Mormon rested in between her palm and her ngers. I didnt know if I wanted to be her or be with her. March 21, 2015 I kissed her that day. I kissed her all the way into Gods day. June 2015 My rst girlfriend. June 26, 2015 Same-sex marriage became legal in America. I stood in the corner of the block, unable to move, to think, to breathe. September 22, 2015 Sally que no se atreva ser gay. I came out to my mom that day. November 19, 2015 I thought I could personalize this for myself, but I was drowned when I was 8 years old.
32 Letters to Jane Abigail Allen e waves curled over the sand, so crumples of watery fabric bunching up and stretching out. I tempted them to touch me, burying my feet under the sand and standing in wait. e gulls cried overhead, their chaotic song foaming with the waves. I smiled and pulled the sleeves of my sweater over my ngers, the knit reminding me of dry coral; I poked my ngers through the holes. ere was something about standing on the shore with my sweater over my dress and the breeze barely tousling my short hair, and my lips and eyes untouched by makeup; I couldve, shouldve been mistaken for a siren, an urchin of the sea. I was sure that if there was a boat out on the lake, someone wouldve been enchanted. But it was too early for shing and I had no time to meet and woo enchanted shermen. I was already dangling a man from a hook. I barely noticed his shadow; it was the ash of brown and yellow and green, the colors of his own sweater that bled from my peripheral vision that made me see him. We stood for a while in loud silence, waves tumbling, drawing back, whipping in the wind like a clothesline, our mouths closed, our lips shut. I shut my eyes when his hand touched mine. Ive missed you, he said. You didnt call. Neither did you. Wheres that letter you promised me? It got wet. Somewhere, a siren hummed, under the dark green waters, singing for her love. It was a struggle to speak; the sand, the mist, the voices of a drowned lover lumping in my throat, gritty inside my mouth. I fell in love with you while you were gone, I said. Tears pinched my eyes, but I felt dry. His arms wrapped around me; I shrunk in his embrace. We collapsed in the sand, him clinging to me like a little boy with a stued animal and I like a cat hovering over water, terried of drowning. I planned out everything, I said. I even bought us an apartment by the sea, so you could be close to home. Let me write you a letter, Jane, he said. One that wont get wet. Sand puckered in hills around us; the waters crept toward us,
33 ghostly ngers stroking my toes. I grabbed a stful of his sweater, my sweater. Its too late, I said. e sky sank to gray; a foggy haze settled over the water. I tasted the chill, the wet, the dampness in my esh. under rolled. Jane, he said. Write me, I said. Dear Jane, he began, Ive been thinking about this letter. I already know how it will end, but I refuse to give you up. Im in love with youisnt that enough? Im sick of the sea, sick of the water, the salt, the sand, Im e water grabbed us both. e waves sucked us from shore and dragged us into the sea. He screamed my name as I went under. My nose burned with water and my lungs gasped. I held onto his sweater, but he was slipping away, melting, melting into the water. His esh stretched and turned to wax. Panic shrieked through me. e water swirled around me, it pulled on my legs and dragged me toward the depths. Foolish, I begged him to rescue me, knowing he could read my thoughts. But he wouldnt listen; it was his nature. He was a Siren, and death was what he did.
34 Landscape with Deer Emily Clarke
35 Sixes and Sevens Aaron Golish FADE IN. INT. CONVENIENCE STORE CITY DAY e store is destroyed. Shelves are fallen, windows are smashed, and almost all of the foodstus are gone. A young MAN in his early twenties is standing in an aisle. He is dressed in raggedy clothes. He has a too-full backpack slung over one shoulder. ere is a sawed-o shotgun poking out of the top. e Man speaks with a cockney accent. MAN Aint that some shit right there? Finally at the front of the queue and there aint a fuckin thing on the shelves. e Man turns back expectantly. BUD (O.S.) Uh-huh A TIN CAN FALLS. e Man turns his attention towards it. ere is a male zombie shambling out of the door through the broken glass. MAN OI MATE! WHAT ARE YOU DOING!? USE THE FUCKING DOOR PROPER! e zombie turns around and starts towards the Man. e zombie trips in the doorway and gets caught. e Man turns back expectantly. MAN
36 Some people. BUD (O.S.) Uh-huh. e Man starts out of the store, but stops to pick up a bag of crisps. Behind the counter a zombie clerk is banging his face against a bullet-proof glass barrier. e Man tosses a wadded up bill at him as he leaves. MAN eres ve quid, keep the change. He opens the glassless door frame and the BELL goes o. e male zombie is grabbing for the Man. e Man nonchalantly steps on the zombies ngers with a slight crunch. MAN Fuckin tosser I tell ya. e Man turns back expectantly. BUD (O.S.) Uh-huh. EXT. CITY DAY Several zombies out front have turned their attention towards the Man. He walks away without paying them any attention. ey shamble too slowly to catch up. MAN Its a good thing I found ya when I did, innit? You seem pretty new to this whole thing. BUD (O.S.) Uh-huh
37 MAN How bout a pointer? BUD (O.S.) Uh-huh. MAN Alright. First o, go for the head. Watch this... e Man turns towards a female zombie. MAN (CONT.) OI! SLAG! e female zombie turns to the Man and readies for attack. e Man takes the shotgun o his back and points it at the head of the female zombie. e gun CLICKS and the Man mocks the sound of gunre. e female zombie continues forward and the barrel of the gun goes into her mouth. She tries to continue advancing but she cannot. MAN (CONT.) eyll pretty much do the job themselves if you let em. BUD (O.S.) Uh-huh MAN Alright enough. e Man pushes the gun forward and knocks the zombie to the ground. She struggles but cant get up. e Man continues as he turns back to the female zombie and throws the two nger salute. MAN (CONT.)
38 Alright. Piss o ya, tart. e Man turns back in front of himself. MAN (CONT.) Remind me to nd more shells. BUD (O.S.) Uh-huh e Man puts the gun away and continues walking. He opens the bag of crisps and pops one into his mouth. He grimaces. MAN ese arent really my avor, you want some Bud? BUD (O.S.) Uh-huh e Man tosses the bag back without looking. MAN You know, youre a pretty good listener. BUD (O.S.) Uh-huh e Man stops walking. MAN Im glad I found ya when I did. Wouldnt want anything bad to happen to ya. BUD (O.S.) Uh-huh. A zombie with no arms or bottom jaw walks up behind the Man and rests his mouth on the Mans shoulder.
39 MAN (jokingly) Youre a right cheeky cunt aint ya? BUD Uh-huh FADE TO BLACK.
40 e Old Married Couple Victoria Jayne Characters: Peter: late-teens Rebecca: late-teens Setting: the edge of a pond nearing night. Lights up. PETER is standing while throwing rocks into a pond. REBECCA is sitting while making a grass whistle. REBECCA gets frustrated, because it is actually really fucking hard to make a whistling sound with a piece of grass. REBECCA Damn it. PETER I cant believe you are still trying to do that. REBECCA Everyone else seems to be able to do it, and when I try, all I do is get spit everywhere. REBECCA wipes saliva o of her hand onto her shirt. PETER is still throwing rocks. PETER Who cares if you cant do it? You can do other things. REBECCA Like what? PETER Like being a little shit. PETER stops to look back at REBECCA who isnt amused, because in reality Peter is a little shit.
41 REBECCA You think youre so funny. REBECCA throws a pebble at PETER. PETER gets hit and pretends to be greatly injured by the pebble. PETER Oh god, why! PETER stumbles towards REBECCA and collapses in agony. PETER Tell my parents I love them. PETER dies next to REBECCA, but she is unfazed like a cold hearted bitch she tries to be. REBECCA God youre an idiot. PETER remains motionless for the next line. PETER You know you love me. REBECCA rolls her eyes and lies down. PETER adjust himself to lay next to her. ey both look up at the sky. Beat. REBECCA Do you think aliens exits? PETER You have already asked me this question. REBECCA When? PETER 3 month ago. REBECCA
42 Oh what havent I ask you? Beat. PETER Oh my god. REBECCA What? PETER We have reached that point. REBECCA What? PETER I didnt think this was possible. REBECCA What! PETER We have exhausted every possible topic of discussion. REBECCA I seriously doubt that. PETER ink about it. We have talked about the existence of aliens, the possibility of zombies ever existing, the debate of pancakes vs. waes, why everyone cares about certain people on the internet REBECCA Oh my god. PETER We have reached the end of all discussions. REBECCA But doesnt this count as a discussion.
43 Beat. PETER Holy shit, Rebecca. Youre right. Youre talented aer all. You can conduct a conversation that lacks in topic. REBECCA Are you going to retract your statement of me being a little shit? PETER No. REBECCA Fine. Youre still an idiot. PETER I embrace my stupidity. REBECCA sits up. She grabs a pebble and throws it into the pond. Peter sits up as well. Beat. PETER ere is something we havent talked about. REBECCA And what is that? PETER What were doing. REBECCA stops what she is doing, and puts her knees to her face. She doesnt look at PETER. REBECCA What do you mean? PETER What are we? REBECCA Homo sapiens.
44 PETER I dont mean what we are literally. Beat. REBECCA Were an old married couple. PETER What? REBECCA An old married couple. We have basically known each other are whole lives, we have exhausted every known topic to man, and we are one step away from nagging each other. PETER We are an old married couple. REBECCA Exactly. PETER I dont want to be an old married couple. REBECCA You asked what we are and that is what we are. PETER But were so young. REBECCA e old married couple doesnt care how old you are. It lurks in the shadows, and waits for the exact moment to snatch you up, and never let go. e old married couple has no remorse. PETER But, were arent even a couple. REBECCA e old married couple doesnt care. We t the label. e old married couple takes whatever it can grab onto.
45 PETER Stop! Youre freaking me out. I feel like an actual old married couple is going to attack us at any moment. REBECCA e old married couple already has. REBECCA moves her hair to reveal gray hair. PETER is stunned. PETER AHH! REBECCA What? PETER Your hair! Its gray! REBECCA looks at the gray hair. REBECCA Man. I always hoped it would be more of a silver white color. PETER squints to look at REBECCAS hair. He then pulls out a pair of glasses from the pocket of his shirt to look at it. PETER realizes that he is using glasses, because he never owned a pair of glasses to start with. PETER What the fuck? REBECCA Poor eyesight is a part of old age. PETER How are you so calm? REBECCA I embrace my role. PETER is is ludicrous.
46 PETER tries to stand up, but is having diculty. REBECCA Here use this. REBECCA pulls a cane out from behind a rock. PETER grabs at it, but then realizes that it is a cane because a cane just showed up out of nowhere. PETER is still mid-stand when he says the next line. PETER Where did you get that? REBECCA It was next to the rock. I thought you could use it. PETER stands up with the help of the cane. He uses the cane to walk towards the pond. REBECCA pulls out a ball of yarn and begins to knit. PETER has trouble bending over to pick up a rock because arthritis is a bitch. PETER throws a rock in the water. PETER Im too young for these shenanigans. REBECCA Its a real shame that you arent accepting your role, Peter. PETER What do you know? REBECCA Not much, but Im not afraid to go into the unknown. PETER Cant we just reverse this? REBECCA You cant reverse the aging process Peter. As much as we would like to, its a part of being human. PETER Why must you go against everything I say?
47 REBECCA Because we have reached the nal stage. REBECCA stops knitting to look at PETER. REBECCA Nagging. PETER looks down at the ground. REBECCA stands up with a little diculty, and walks towards Peter. REBECCA Come on Peter. Lets go home. PETER looks at REBECCA who takes his arm. PETER and REBECCA exit. Lights. END
48 Angler Dana Rae Hagberg
49 Relentless Jordyn Naylor Bee barks at the back door as I make my way through the living room. I slide the door open as she sprints into the darkness. As always, I leave the door open for her to come back in when shes nished. Walking down the hall, I dim the lights as I make my way to the bathroom. As I begin my nightly routine, I let my mind wonder on the to-do list I have for tomorrow. Bang. Letting the water run, I return to the living room to nd the source of the noise. Silence. Rounding the corner into the bathroom, I pause when I catch a whi of an all too familiar smell that knots my stomach instantaneously. Cologne. I lean down to rinse my mouth and freeze when I realize the water is o. Tucked in the corner of the mirror is a picture I havent seen in months. A picture of me. e one I gave to him. With each breath, the weight of a brick falls on my chest. Rushing toward my bedroom, I stumble through the darkness fumbling in my top drawer for the knife Id hidden. e knife no one knew about it. You made it so easy for me this time. His voice released a surge of panic in me. As my eyes discover the silhouette across from me, the headlights of a passing car sweep across the room illuminating his face and the thick, sharp blade of my knife in his hand.
50 Drowning Father in the Oven Jason Tan verbal blurs can you shut the fuck up, give me the last few seconds. you can hear her even aer the amber light turns o. son, wheres your father? Hell be here slapped with your stupid bills, and a one hundred and thirty pounds of disgrace. family weight. building blocks I dont even know what to say, but a hunit ty for a box of plastic, and you started thinking that this doughnut hole would make you a whole. You get a doughnut. You get a doughnut. And you get a doughnut. You all get a doughnut! Cept, Oprahs gone, and I was that hole that you fucked out. My childhood is a bitch, and its tired of being sore, and there you go building a Lego bridge. I wanted to take it down, bits by bits. Yet your eyes, wary... Hold it! gentle frills you take the light from the day, but nothing from the night. He comes home, and I see the weight come o. But Im not it and moms not here to carry it. I ask myself, why the kitchen and not me? e silence bleeds you dry, but you continue to drive for me. Your eyes uttered the words: Because. Youre my son. I told myself to let the words slip out, but my pride holds down Mr. Sorry. Daddy? water hums maybe Ill try my fork in that plate. You brought back tons of paint, but no primer. Maybe youre here to stay aer all, and the words that never came out my mouth, may nally nd comfort in the space between us. But your pills did not prime well. I dont do complicated, but you took out Brokeback Mountain and said it was ne. our life. Jack? Ennis? e porridge brewed. Your eyes slumber with each advance. Youve gone without being fed. We coulda had a good life together! Fuckin real good life! and so be it, be dead.
51 e Middle Dana Rae Hagberg Shed been cooking for at least an hour she wanted to have a nice dinner with what was le of her family. ey rarely ever sat down to eat together; no one was ever home at the same time. She set the plates out, folded the napkins, and placed the silverware the knife on the right side with the cutting edge facing inward. Her parents were divorced years before and she lived with her father and brother. Her sister le even before theyd been divorced. She hadnt seen said sister in nine years she was le to be the eldest child now that it was just her and her younger brother. And she tried, she really did. As she nished up the last of the preparations, she beckoned to her brother at his computer in the room above her and to her father from the screen of his computer in the oce below. No one stirred. She waited. She called her brother again he came. Running down the stairs loudly because he said walking took too long. As if the loud steps of her brother on the stairs were his queue, her father stirred in his basement oce and his own slow, heavy footsteps could be heard ascending the stairs. ey came, they sat, they ate. Little was said, as they were all hungry. No one thanked her for cooking and she didnt really take oense, as they never did. Somewhere in her subconscious, though, she wished they would just once. She started the conversation, but he didnt want to hear any of it. Her brother didnt say anything. Shed mention one thing or another that needed to be done or needed to change and her father would have none of it. Voices raised, her heart rose into her throat and her cheeks grew hot. Her brother ate faster, so to escape from the feud that was sure to erupt. But she wasnt a fan of conict or confrontation, so she didnt let it get that far. Her brother wolfed down his food, nonetheless, washed his plate o in the sink and retreated back into his room on the oor above. Her father did the same, descending the stars back into his oce to return to the light of his computer screen, as she was sure her brother was doing in his room above. As was always the case she was le in the middle.
52 I Dont ink Id Be at Sad If He Died Kaili Morris Sometimes I forget to feed my sh it doesnt mean I dont love her At least she doesnt threaten to swallow a bottle of pills because I havent bent down to say hi in a while My father doesnt get that phones work both ways Until its 2am the vodkas gone the liquor store is closed and Im being a bad daughter Sometimes I forget to feed my sh it doesnt mean Ive forgotten about him But I wish I could if he ever theatens to hit me because I called him racist Sometimes I forget to feed my sh but most days I think I love her more than him
53 Trapped Queen Victoria de la Concha INT. STOP & SHOP SUPERMARKET DELI SECTION DAY SHARON (48) waits in line at the deli counter. She is a Long Island suburbanite and a stay-at-home mom whose life is as bland as her Sketchers. Not that she minds. Sharon scrolls through her phone. ON PHONE SCREEN A Despicable Me minion next to a quote that reads: e doctor said I need to eat more fruit. eres a full serving of grapes in wine, right? SHARON (O.S.) Hah! How do I tag Debbie? Lush. MATCH CUT TO: ON PHONE SCREEN A text reads: hes ready for u now. come in thru the back. BACK TO SCENE EXT. BACK ALLEY BACK DOOR DAY CHINO (26) looks down at his phone and SIGHS. Hes covered head to toe with tattoos--a reminder of his gang days. His life has been tough, so he made sure to look the part. Chino opens the door and enters. CUT TO: INT. STOP & SHOP SUPERMARKET DELI SECTION DAY Sharon is at the front of the line.
54 SHARON (on phone) I swear to gawd, Joan only put up her Christmas lights early because I did it rst-DELI BUTCHER Maam? SHARON (on phone) Oh! I gotta go Debbie my orders ready...Mhm...Buh-bye. SHARONS POV A gloved hand places a slab of ham on the counter. MATCH CUT TO: CHINOS POV A tatted hand places a brick of cocaine on a table. BACK TO SCENE INT. THE HIDE OUT DRUG DEN DAY Chinos jaw clenches as he places the cocaine in a duebag. He barely nishes zippering when THUD! POLICE OFFICER (O.S.) PUT YOUR HANDS UP! DONT MOVE! DONT MOVE! Chino bolts out through the back door. MATCH CUT TO: INT. SHARONS MINIVAN DAY Sharon slams her car door shut. As she buckles up she turns on the radio. e song Trap Queen plays.
55 FETTY WAP (V.O.) She my trap queen, let her hit the bando. We be countin up-SHARON What in the heck is a trap queen-BAM! Sharon is rear-ended. She SCREECHES but her seat belt keeps her in place. Chino opens the door and unbuckles her. CHINO Get out the car! SHARON What?! Are you outta your fudgin mind? CHINO Im not playin lady! OUT! SHARON No! I went food shopping once today and if you think Im going again youre dead wrong mister! CHINO e fuck, lady? (shoves her into the passenger seat) I dont got no time for this! Chino takes control of the wheel and whips out the car. SHARON HANDS ON 9 AND 3 OCLOCK! HAND OVER HAND MANEUVERS! AHHHHHH!!! EXT. SOUTHERN STATE PARKWAY DAY e car is stuck in Long Island trac.
56 SHARON (O.S.) Once I saw on an episode of Sex Sent Me to the Slammer that a tear drop tattoo means ya killed a man. INT. SHARONS MINIVAN DAY CHINO Or a woman. SHARON Oh my gawd. Youre gunna kill me! What are the neighbors gunna think?! is is like that episode of Hostage: Do or Die-CHINO Yo do you ever shut up?! Im not gunna kill you. Im only here cuz... (his eyes widen) SHIT! THE FUCKIN COKE! I LEFT IT! SHARON ats what this is about?! Drugs! You should be ashamed of yourself young man! CHINO Hijo de tu puta madre! Pinche idioto! SHARON If you think you can just talk about me in another language like they do at the nail salon-Chino begins to cry. For once Sharon is silent. CHINO You don get it! My lil girl. Shes dyin n I cant pay her medical
57 bills on the straight path. II love her so much. She all I got. Chino points to a tattoo on his arm that says: Emilia. SHARON (gently) Im so sorry. What is she sick with? CHINO Tuberculosis. SHARON Tuber--Oh my GAWD! Youll never believe this but my husband is a Pulmonologist! A lung doctor! CHINO What? SHARON He can help Emilia! Well, if you take me home. To ask and make dinner. e hams gunna go bad. CHINO (sobs harder) You--you for real lady? SHARON Im a mom. I get it. You have to protect your child at all costs. CHINO T-thank you. SHARON So... does this make me a trap queen?
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