1 G r e a t L a k e R e v i e w Art & Literary Magazine Fall 2011
3 Great Lake Review Art & Literary Magazine We strive to be the creative outlet needed for artists and writers of all genres at SUNY Oswego. The Great Lake Review fosters creativity and encourages work that resonates with our peers, that pushes boundaries, that surprises, informs and captivates. Please send your art and writing submissions as attachments to firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit our website: greatlakereview.wordpress.com Fall 2011
4 Great Lake Review Art & Literary Magazine Fall 2011 Editor in Chief Amber-Lee Jansen Managing Editor Leigh Rusyn Online Editor Jessie Rose Moore Treasurer Alex Carawan Faculty Advisor Brad Korbesmeyer Drama Editors Nick Graziano Nilson Carroll Fiction Editors Kaitlyn Malcolm Kate Rafte Katie Morton Kim Hovey Marisa Dupras Mike McCabe Nichelle Pawlikowski Non-Fiction Editors Cassandra Schumacher Chris McPherson Megan Andersen Naafua Castilano Poetry Editors Beth Schneider Charles Buckel Jessie Rose Moore Joshua Way Mariya Boyko Robin Mendoza A special thank you to the Art, Creative Writing and English faculty for allowing us to advertise in their classes!
5 Table of Contents Art Blueberry Garden by Amy Lowik ......................................................cover Untitled by Vala Kjarval ............................................................................7 Layers of Acquaintance A Chance Encounter by Rhiannon Throop .....9 Untitled by Vala Kjarval ...........................................................................11 Sunlight by Aaron Gehan .......................................................................28 Untitled by Brittany McCann ..................................................................30 Enough for the Both of Us by Cala Glatz ................................................32 When Dorothy Fell by Amy Lowik ..........................................................42 Comic by Luzmaria Cruz .......................................................................45 Udder Destruction by Linda C. Robbins ................................................53 Untitled by Logane Robison ..................................................................54 Untitled by Joseph Ray ..........................................................................59 The Red Candle by Kimberly Kittleson ................................................60 Memory by Rhiannon Throop ................................................................67 All That is and was Before by Cala Glatz ...............................................79 Untitled by Vala Kjarval ..........................................................................86 by Aaron Z. Lee ............................................................95 Untitled by Brittany McCann ..................................................................98 Lost and Found by Amy Lowik .............................................................104 Untitled By Vala Kjarval ........................................................................114 My Freak, My Monster by Aaron Z. Lee ...............................................117 Skeleton by Aaron Gehan ....................................................................131 Smile by Vala Kjarval ............................................................................133 The Vistors by Cala Glatz .....................................................................136 Drama A Mothers Love by Eric Wojtanik ..........................................................80 Here All Weekend by Tim Jachim ........................................................118 Fiction The Cake Incident by Nick Brown ..........................................................36 Reality by Desiree A. Alcala ...................................................................68 Five to Nine by Katie Scutt .....................................................................97 The Millers Prince by Travis Knight ....................................................137
6 Non-Fiction by Tim Gallogly ...................................................................12 Sixth Grade Politics and Zebra-Striped Denim by Paige Waloven ........46 My Dearest Whoever by Annie Hidley ...................................................55 Winter Roses by Patsy Conrad ..............................................................62 Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood by Merriya Valleri ...........................89 A Cheap Cover by Zach Jennings .........................................................99 East Coast Sea Shells by Annie Hidley ...............................................106 Poetry Carrots by Chantal Le Blanc ....................................................................8 Universal by James Musial ....................................................................10 Cherries by Amber Hickman ..................................................................29 The Artist by Jake McAdam ...................................................................31 Darwin Road by Ed McGuire ..................................................................43 My Boyfriends Ford Ranger that I Really Did Love by Lexi Jones ..44 The Ghost Box by Christopher Cook ....................................................61 Cutout of Darkness by Chantal Le Blanc ..............................................66 Nantucket Harbor, 2006 by Kaley Lynch ...............................................85 Daughters by Amber Hickman ...............................................................87 Virginia, Im Crying by Rebecca Wemesfelder ......................................96 Held/Bystand Heaney by Chantel Le Blanc ........................................105 Karaoke Night by Amber Hickman .......................................................115 Motherhood by Chelsea Mixon ............................................................116 Shoreline by Lillian Stensland .............................................................132 The Golden Hour by Fred Maxon .........................................................134 Summerset by Kaley Lynch .................................................................135 The Termite and the Anteater (Graphic Version) by Zach Wilson .......147
7 Untitled Vala Kjarval
8 Carrots Chantal Le Blanc I walked to the bridge over the ravine, tried to act grown up and recite all I saw like a mans voice in the picture show, primly patting down my jeans like a skirt and simpering. the river towards me perfectly still. His eyes wide and motionless, arms, legs, orange hair spread after sleeping the night through, loved If his eyes could see, would they notice the patch of blue wavering between clouds, fearful of being smothered again? Would his water-logged ears hear the tapping of the old yew tree bending back and forth, teetering indecision or see me being grown up? Id never seen a boy without his shirt or pants, just plain white wet boxers, so named I thought for the breed of dog that snapped if you came too close, yet still begging for attention with silent eye and stiff ear. Then, inevitably, as Huckleberry in my fathers voice told me before, the boy begins to turn, a lazy, horizontal pirouette. as he slips under the bridge. Its not until Im sitting at the dinner table, my sister passing the carrots, that I start to scream.
9 Layers of Acquaintance A Chance Encounter Rhiannon Throop
10 Universal James Musial Once obedient, a rainbow rogue pops on directions hand. Ephemeral hopscotch zeppelin, Who kissed you alive, toddler exhaust? Tip toe on smog needles, oily being destined for combustion. Forget your form, carbon fat father of mist. We are half second particles, suspended in skylight dependent on starlight.
11 Untitled Vala Kjarval
12 Tim Gallogly I said, How are you? and you said, Well, Im wanted for attempted murder in the state of Colorado. and I said, Why dont you come up here for a few days? ~*~ Youre leaving, and for that Im relieved. I cant wait to get you off my hands. Youre standing in line at the bus station, waiting to buy your ticket. Where will you go? Back to New York, to await your trial at your harvest with your ex-boyfriend, twice removed? Or will you do as youd threatened and hop a bus to Mexico to escape the law? Youre wearing a navy blue neckerchief with tiny white polka dots, like a you is nearly faded. When that girl hopped trains all the way from California to a Brooklyn bar just to smash a bottle over your face, she wanted to give you a mark that would last forever. Did you deserve it? Did you did sleep with her ex-boyfriend before it was certain they were through? Or was it one of the hundred rumors that hover around you, the dark girl, the miniature Cleopatra? What will I say to you when its time for you to board your bus? Will I hug you? Will I say, Im sorry, or will you? Or will I just stand back and say, Good luck, and give you a stiff wave? As it happens, we just stand awkwardly in line, staring at our shoes or other people carrying luggage and preparing for departure. I watch my friend from the Border Patrol scan the crowd. He told me theyre looking for a Peruvian guy with a limp they call the Wounded Gazelle. Im dying to tell him about you so he can check your ticket and make sure its for New York, not Mexicothat youre not doubling your chances of being sent to prison. Hes a good man, and he wouldnt give you any trouble; but youd never forgive me for that. The boarding call sounds. I look at you and shrug my shoulders. What happened? you said. You laugh and shake your head. What did happen? You move forward in line, wave to me, and turn around. Good luck, I say to your back, and mean it. I.
13 College, when you tore into a paraplegic kids story so hard that the teacher had to restrain you. This is not a story. Its just wishful thinking on the part of the narrator. And I totally dont buy the life-after-death aspect. Its just some guy reminiscing about how much he enjoyed all the groupies he had in life. And what makes it worse is that I get the sense that this is all supposed to be poignant. I photocopied the mystical poems of Hafez and Tagore, cut them into tiny squares to leave in piles in pizza joints, cafs and bodegas for the interrupted the webcast to tell the model, I hope theres someone in your life who tells you that they love you. I consistently interrupted my girlfriends smooth, Midwestern brow by taking Tolstoy far too seriously, or waking her up out of a dead sleep with tears in my eyes to say, I dont want to leave you, but it feels like Gods eroding my love away. I chased after God the way some chase after heroinnot caring what it cost as rush of thoughts dissolve. Because of the little uh at the end of all your sentences, that inheritance from your Jewish father (I would have thought twice about it, had he told me he was a taxidermist -uh!) Because you were, in spite of your steady diet of coffee, pizza and ramen, in spite of your non-existent sleep habits, in spiteof your tirades about your horrible luck with men and school, and in spite of your constant proclamations of utter misery, you moved like a Buddha through the carnival sideshow of your world. the bleach stain on your black blouse. You lived by the hair of the dog that bit you. BesidesI loved my girlfriend and no other. But sometimes as the bus took me through Brooklyn, past 13th Ave. and its throngs of Hasidim with their black hats and curls, through streams of Chinese tall brownstones and booming sounds of Reggaetone that told me I was home, the thought of you came upon me like a nicotine rush. atlas open on my lap as you picked a book from the Fiction section and studied it in your hands. Whats your poison? I asked you. Nelson Algren. God! I cant get enough of him. you that my brother was the ideal person to escort you to Denver. I know, its just that Ive only been hitchhiking once, and it was with my best friend, and we were high the whole time. Id trust him with my life. I trust him more than I trust myself, I said.
14 She bent down and grabbed the atlas. Besides, I said, He looks like James Dean. Oh great, another twenty something white guy who thinks hes No, hes not an idiot. He almost went to Chiapas this summer to live with the Zapatistas. Oh, so hes a revo lutionary Wait, what do you mean, almost? Actually, never mind. Im sure hes very sassy, but we really have to Your moms sassy. And a route doesnt really count for much when youre hitchingbeggars cant be choosers. All you can do is cut up some cardboard, buy some giant sharpies, make a few signs, and get ready to smile. I gave you a huge, fake smile. I am not doing that. My plan was to go to the Twin Cities and see my girlfriend, and you and Josh would continue west to Coloradoyou to spend the summer with some friends, Josh to do who knows what. and me. A human shield.) The summer before I met you, I hitched from Philly to Nashville in under forty-eight hours. Before I left, I buzzed my hair, shaved my beard, put on non-descript jeans and a white T-shirt and slung my guitar over my shoulders. I couldnt have looked more all-American if I stuck the stars and stripes in my back pocket. I was an archetype, a harbinger of freedom, slipping into rigs and the beds of pickup trucks, passing through Raleigh, keeping truckers and house painters and young marrieds in the thrall of my boundless navet. We left from my parents house, got one short ride, and for sixteen hours tried everything to get out of Syracuse. We took turns lifting you on our shoulders when you got tired, which made you look less like a dark-clothed, dark haired femme fatale and more like a Muppet. I quickly took you down when you joked that people might think we kidnapped you, or were child molesters. (You made me hold your silver bracelets take us to a better spot, where we were promptly picked up by another trooper, not so kind, who let us off at the bus station with a warning. We walked through the desolate outskirts of Carousel Mall, looking for an onramp to route 81. Finally, it was dark, and we still had no ride, so we found an abandoned woodlot, climbed the chain link fence, threw a sleeping bag over the barbed wire, and lay down on a bare dirt plateau, trying desperately to go to sleep while unseen animals snorted and hissed around us. We got a few rides the next day, but added together they still didnt
15 amount to more than a hundred miles. My brother and I just looked at each other and shook our heads when you said things like, Were never gonna get out of upstate New York, or, Why didnt we just take a bus? How, wed say, how in the hell are we ever supposed to get out of here if you keep saying shit like that? It didnt escape our notice that you didnt join in when wed babbled on with our last ride about the Law of Attraction. Thoughts really are things, we said to each other. We really do create our own reality. You were silent. You wouldnt sit with us at McDonalds later that night when we got to Jamestown. You said, So you really think if I just stopped being negative, wed magically be lifted out of New York? and I said, All I know is it never took me this long to get through one state before. You picked up your pack and moved to the other side of the restaurant, because you knew that we were blaming your strange, unlucky life on you. All in all, it took us three days to get out of New York. We split off in two-hour bus ride to Minneapolis, where my girlfriend awaited. And as for you and Josh, it didnt take the two of you long to split up. You got stuck in a rainstorm and arrived soaking wet at your friends house in Pittsburgh. Josh got tired of watching this bearded bike-mechanics collection of bad horror movies while the two of you hung out behind closed doors. After a few hours, you exploded out of his bedroom, running buck naked toward the bathroom while he chased after you, whipping you with a ratty blanket, nearly tripping over Josh, who by this days, narrowly escaped death in a lightning storm in which seven people were killed, hopped another train, was caught and dragged at gunpoint to a police cruiser and held for twenty-four hours under the Patriot Act (hed had the ill luck to hop a Haz-Mat train), was put on a Greyhound bus to Topeka by a Chinese couple who met him at the police station (there to visit their son), and when the bus arrived, Josh hid under his seat, escaping the drivers notice through every ticket check. He stayed on all the way to Denver, and scouted out a place to sleep, in the bushes by the public library. That night he dreamed he saw you step out from behind a bush of thistles. You walked toward him and kissed him hard, without feeling. Your eyes were blackno whites, no irises, just black. You said, Ive been gone and I have put out the great lights of the deep. I hear their songs and I talk to the stars; I darken some and let others shine. I have looked out and have seen this nightthis is the night I will conceive and bear a child. And the two of you were clapped together like magnets, and all he could feel was heaviness, all he could see was fog. ~*~
16 I stepped into the cab of my rides truck. When we shook hands and introduced ourselves, he didnt turn his body to face me, only his neck. He was squat and unshaven, and his eyes were bloodshot. As we pulled onto the expressway and got up to speed, he pointed to the median, a going to pull anything, are you? Because I dont have any money, I dont have a girlfriend, and I dont have anything to lose. So if you were to try anything, Id just jerk the wheel here and send us over the median. He smiled over at me. I laughed. He started laughing too, and we carried on like that for a few moments. Youre all right, he said, and held out a pack of smokes to me. We blew through pack after pack, and in return I agreed to buy him a Red Bull for every state we passed through. We chased the sun through time zones. In Indiana, he became more and more restless. As we approached Chicago, he was going a steady thirty miles per hour over the speed limit. A driver pulled up beside us to shake guys window and left the guy swerving behind us. When we got to Milwaukee, I shook his hand, and thanked him. He wished me luck. I cant say it didnt scare me to careen down the highway like that, but I was thankful for anything that shortened the distance between me and my girlfriends door. I stood in the neon light under the awning of a bar, awaiting my girlfriends college roommate, who offered me a shower, a spare bed, and the possibility of real sleep. It started to rain, and I stepped out into it, trying to keep awake. When I saw a girl with a buzz cut and a sun dress wave to me from a tiny, boxy car (that had to be her roommate), my relief was indescribable. ~*~ Theres something magical about visiting the childhood home of someone you love. In her teenage bed, I slept off the thousand natural shocks that a hitchhiker is heir to. I lay on my stomach and told her everything: my hallucination in Indiana, when I thought the cars on the overpass were black horses; the kid with the Technicolor bong that back roads of Allegheny County, stop signs be damned; I even told her about you, stammering out the truth of how it was between the three of us, Josh and I taking turns standing guard for you at night while you babbled on endlessly about Captain Planet, or whatever else it took to keep someone awake with you, and the next night, how we took turns holding your hand when you cried. I told her I held your handthat Id wanted to hold it. She laughed and ran her hand through my hair. Timmy, my love, you are a glutton for truth. She told me she didnt care; all that
17 mattered was that I was there with her. We went out to brunch with her father, and after, we walked the few got divorced. I reveled in her photo albums and precocious elementary school art projectscolorful masks and a series of pictures in which cats jumped over rainbows and swam in milk waterfalls. After a few days, we packed up her dads minivan, bid him goodbye, and drove out to his moved out of Brooklyn. And within two days it was utterly ruined. I dont know if God actually wanted me to break up with my girlfriend; if, like Abraham holding the the Almighty, I was called to give up what was most dear to me. The feeling might have stemmed from the fear of idolatry, branded into me the smallest defection from Gods will. It might even have even been the genuine blossoming of an unacknowledged realization that something in the relationship wasnt working. Whatever the case, every time I brought it up to her, I felt like I was attempting suicidethe same gut feeling that there was no alternative, the same last-minute fear for the one who I was leaving behind, the same tearful voice reasoning with me, talking me down from the precipice. The tiresome list of the places we cried: on the beach; in bed; on a picnic table; on a swingset in the rain. We cried until we laughed: how could two people who loved each other so much ruin such a perfectly good summer? We watched an old home video of her twelfth birthday party, watched her lift her long hair, whitened by the summer sun, away from her blue eyes. The same eyes that watched me now as I lay on her ~*~ After my brother nearly died and then wandered for weeks without pur pose in Denver, after I left the girl I thought I was going to marry weeping in a caf parking lot in South Chicago, after my brother and I met up and walked through Chicago and Gary, Indiana, after we spent half a dozen nights under bridges and countless hours holding up cardboard signs, waving at blank, indifferent drivers in desolate Indiana towns, after our a mocking demon behind a court bench, ready to pound the gavel at the sight of us and anyone who ever failed. Werent we positive enough?
18 Didnt we banish all doubting thoughts? Didnt we hold our desires ever before us, waiting for them to manifest before our eyes? II. You and my brother walked into the natural food store where I worked, and the August heat came in behind you. I vaulted over the counter and gave you a long hug, picked you up and swung you around like a doll. You struggled out of my arms and smoothed your clothes and contorted your smile in a vain attempt to look like youd suffered an indignity. Josh opened his hand and rested his palm on top of your head. What do you weigh, eleven pounds? You couldnt have looked less like a murderer. You stood by, pigeon-toed, and listened to me and Josh debate about what to have for dinner, then walked through the aisles of produce and organic junk food to the back of the store, where hundreds of whole herbs were stacked in containers on a shelf reaching to the ceiling. You jasmine tea, then walked back up to the front and dropped them in front of me on the counter. You said, Youve got an Indian girl here; you might as well take advantage. The three of us drove home together and sang along with Townes Van Zandt covering the Rolling Stones: and I wont forget to put roses on your grave. After dinner, we sat on the steps in front of my house and caught each other up on the news of out lives. Josh leaned up against the railing and rolled cigarette after cigarette for you and him. He told you about his time in Nashville working as a labor organizer, and about his new girlfriend, who was still in Nashville, but wouldnt be for long. We heard an engine rev on the other side of the road, and saw our neighbor on a four-wheeler. His tires spun and kicked up gravel as he no wheels attached. He gunned it over the stone and whipped the dragging metal frame to one side, then to the other, jetting back and forth, looking behind to see if hed made any progress. The end goal of that progress was a mystery to us. Does he do that all the time? you asked. Josh choked on a mouthful of smoke. No, he came out especially for you. No joke, weve never seen him out of the house, I said. someone tell me why my life is a bad Seinfeld episode?
19 We sat there in silence for a few minutes while you and Josh tried to blow smoke rings, the blue smoke rising into the hazy evening. get one tomorrow. When Josh said goodnight and went upstairs to his room, you lay down on the futon wed set up for you. I sat against the wall on the other end of the room and asked you what really happened out there in Denver between you and your boyfriend. You told me you didnt stab him wantonly; youd taken your share of bruises, and tonight was particularly bad. You were both drunk, hed backed you into a corner, and you picked up a kitchen knife and stabbed him. You said you met him outside the hospital a few days later on the way to the airport. Your bags were packed: you were leaving, for real this time. He nodded, then lifted up his shirt and showed you his bandage. Where can a conversation go from there? You told me it was hot, and I said you could always go outside and sleep in the hammock. Are you kidding? Theres creatures out there! Cant you hear them? I heard crickets like tiny faraway telephones, the whine of mosquitoes, the occasional note from a coyote. I bet you theres a giant arachnid with a human face just waiting to jump on me. Probably, I said, and watched the cat cross the room to where you lay. I sauntered over in imitation of him, dragging my blanket beneath my Stardust. He purred expectantly and rubbed his head against your out stretched palm. Hes so needy, you said, laughing, scorn and affection his ear, a remnant from his days as a barn cat. I leaned up against the edge of the mattress, pulling my blanket over me, and ran my palm down he were a sleeping baby and I didnt want to wake him, as if he were a lover. You stroked his belly, and his knees bent with pleasure. I let you yours and momentarily touched them, and you looked at me through the darkness, your eyes wide and dilated, as if to say, Its okay. Our hands touched again and then fell into a rhythm, moving together in the same direction. Soon the cat lay down. His purring, ever louder. My teeth, slightly parted and softly chattering behind my smile. The sound of crickets, now diminished. And our breath. ~*~
20 That was how you wanted to spend your days while I was at work. I told you before you came that we had a good river. Its Oswego, I said. The right time of year, guys pull three-footers out of there every single day. nature of it, fed by images of Tom and Huck on the ol Mississip. Perhaps for you at home would be no match for dropping a line in the water and watching the river pass you by. You convinced Josh to take you to the river while I was at work. One day, after an hour or so, you handed him the pole, propped your beer up against the iron railing, and approached an elderly gentleman in a canvas vest with colorful lures hanging from his cargo pockets. You tapped him on the elbow and asked him why this was such a good river upstream, they bump their noses against the dam. Once theyve done that enough times to learn theyre not getting through, they have to turn around and come right back. He laughed. You can catch em on the You said, thank you, and grabbed Joshs sleeve. You whispered to him to I left my typewriter out for you while I was at work, but only once did the pile of pages go down. I looked at the typewriter to see half a page of beginnings of sentences and half-thoughts. You snatched the page from the cemetery, you sitting motionless over the typewriter, pretending to write. When I got home, I smelled cardamom and jasmine rice. My brother stood over the stove, and you stood by the window, your back turned to me, focused intently on something I could not see. I touched your picked up at the farmers market, small and not yet mature, their stems gleaming with moisture. They looked oddly conspicuous in your hands, but as you stood holding them out to me, your hair and shoulders backlit by the fading sun, I believed in them. I believed you were as simple and honest as you wanted to be at that moment. You arranged them in a glass jar on the windowsill. You turned around and clasped your arms around me, resting your head on the middle of my chest. I watched your face as you looked out the window and thought I saw a trace of anxiety. What would I do if you wanted to stay? No matter how many days we spent in peaceful domesticity, I knew I could never fully trust you, and we both knew you would never respect me. It was the only time we embraced in front of my brother. I told him
21 earlier that day that you werent bad. Id always though you were. I told him you werent as hard as I thought; that you were like any Christian girl wed grown up with, whod been confused, whod seen some hard times. He looked at me like I was crazy. He never thought you were bad, just negative. That night when we were falling asleep you said, Youre supposed to say nice things about a person youre sleeping with. Like what? I asked. I dont know, tell them you like them, or that theyre pretty. You dont think Im attracted to you? You laughed. Thats not what I mean. Never mind. You smoothed my hair, turned over and went to sleep. ~*~ I awoke when it was still dark out. Wind drafted in through the dilapidated windows, and the branches of the silver maple scraped skittered across the tin roof. I pulled the sheet over my head and rolled were lying face down, crying into the crook of your arm. Whats wrong, buddy? I rubbed your naked back with the heel of my hand. Hey. You cried louder. You rolled over, sat up and stared at the wall. Hey, I said again. Sobs violently rocked your little body. Why dont you tell me what youre worried about. The words erupted out of you. What do you think Im worried about? Surprised, I jerked my hand back. Youre worried about the charges, arent you. Hell yes Im worried about the charges! Wouldnt you be? I have no idea what that would feel like. My voice was soothing. Ive learned never to say, I know how you feel. I slid up next to you and wrapped my arm around your stomach. I never should have come here, you said. What? I thought we were having a good time. And besides, its two weeks to the hearing. What else would you be doing? I dont know, but at least I wouldnt be avoiding the problem. Do you realize I could go to jail for ten years ? Ten years. Do you know how long Ill last in there? You dont know that. They could drop the charges. You could be back in school You cackled, Oh, theyre not going to drop the charges. You can bet on that. My point is, you are not in control. You never were. Everything could
22 change for you if you could just accept that fact. Im gonna look sideways at some seven-foot dyke in the laundry room, and shes going to asphyxiate me with a pillowcase. No, fuck acceptance. Im getting on a bus and going to Mexico. twice as long. You mumbled something I couldnt hear. What? You mumbled a little louder. I cant hear you, I said. care about me. What are you talking about? German mystic Eckhart Tolle writes of a phenomenon he calls the pain body, an aggregate of past hurts that, when awakened, takes on a life of its own. It speaks through its host, and will go to any lengths to perpetuate itself, creating pain in others so they will volley it back. This residue of past hurts, Tolle says, is both personal and collective. The month. The betrayal of a friend, or the boyfriend who ODd. The parents When triggered, the pain is in the drivers seat. The hosts consciousness is obscured as if by a thick blanket, completely subsumed in this writhing mass whose sole purpose is to create more pain. Your eyes pierced straight ahead, not looking at me. I know you. Your voice was high pitched and accusing. Yeah, I know you. Oh yeah. Youre a good actor. You dont care about me you dont care about anybody. I laughed. You got me. I dont give a crap what happens to youthats why I invited you up to my house. Thats why weve spent the past week sleeping together on my futon. See? youre laughing! If you cared, you wouldnt Take it back. You sighed an exaggerated Broadway sigh. You are methodically destroying everything weve built over the past few days. Is this fun for you? down a crack in the plaster. Nadia, you are crossing a line, and once you cross it, there is no going back. Mumble, mumble. What did you say? In a sing-song tone, you said, closed up inside.
23 It wasnt entirely clear whether you would die in prison or on the outside. I dont know what I thoughtI imagined you in your orange jumpsuit sitting across from me, talking to me through the glass. I together. I wanted you to become someone who warranted my trust. You were right. On some level, I didnt care. I would only love you if I could cure you. ~*~ I woke up to a raw, bleached morning. I dreaded seeing you roll over to face me, the residue of dreams fading from your eyes. I dreaded seeing the weight of what happened settle on you, seeing your face change when you remembered that I was about to scourge you from the gate. I lay on my stomach under the giant oak tree in my backyard, in the shade of my small house, and I cried. I lay among fallen branches and wet patches of leaves never raked from last year, reached out through the wiry, unmown grass, resting my hand on the cool basement stones. It was the one and only moment I loved you. It all came at once, this acceptance of you, this realization of you as a creature unique in all the world, loved by your parents and friends, with interests and regrets all a masquerade. Holding onto the things you think make you you. For a moment, in my absurd silver windpants and threadbare pajama shirt, sprawled out like a worm with my face in the dirt, I became fully human. It could have been hours before you came. I heard the grass rustle and looked up. You were sitting on the wooden swing, which hung from the lowest branch, looking down at me, smiling. Forgive me? I sat up and slipped my hand into yours. Forgive you? I stared into the I forgive you, a million times over, but Your voice was suddenly haggard. But youre still taking me to the bus station today. You began to swing, scowling, pulling at the heads of the long grass with your hand. You want to get me away from you as soon as possible. I couldnt answer, so I lay back down in the grass. I think in your voice, the way it softened and acquired a pull yourself together kind of tone. Before long, fear turned to pity. I imagined the house you and your boyfriend must have shared, late at night, in the last gasps of a party, ashtrays scattered all over the roomone on the arm of a chair, one on the edge of a coffee table, one
24 couch, cushions pushing out at odd angles. You stand in a corner and on the wall, some Salvation Army or yard sale special bearing an ironic slogan that, whether sunny and happy or sarcastically grim, essentially means life is shit. Maybe he walks up behind you just in time to hear you say something like, I have to get out of Denver. He grabs the phone out throw one back, and it goes on like this until youre in the kitchen, backed up against a counter. I imagine he spouts some drunk-boyfriend nonsense like; Youre leaving, huh? You think you can leave, just like that? heart, the work his words cannot do, as if by brute strength alone he could force you to stay. He lets go and backs away, falling over a garbage bag full of beer cans. When he rights himself, theres a kitchen knife pointed at his chest. He dives for it. Blood, streaming down his bare chest, soaking the band of his underwear. Do you forgive the one whos lasted more than one punch since grade school. If my eye was black, if my cheek was bruised and my nose bloody, would I do the same thing? What if someone hit you? I asked. You might forgive them, but would you stay with them and take the chance on them hitting you again? Well, yeah! you said, like Id asked you something absurdly self-evident. Everything was on the table now. Whatever chance at happiness we had, it was ground to powder. You got up and walked away. I rolled over on my side and looked at the tree beside me. If we would never reach. I couldnt help but think that my own suffering (hollow-eyed and skull rattling and shot through with poison though it was) took place in a garden. There was always some protection, which I believe to have been divine. I surrendered myself to God once when I was seventeenmy steps, my path, my life, were all His. Then I took my life back and razed it, drowned it, dragged it through mud (youre forgiven), yet there was always a way out. Even though I railed against the hand that restrained me, cursing it, it was still there, holding me back from decisions that could have destroyed me and other people, even when I was hell-bent on making them. Ive never known love where screams echoed through the hallways. Ive never known pure hatred. Ive never reached into the sidereal night and torn it open with a kitchen knife. ~*~ I watched you pack and pretend not to notice I was there. Loretta Lynn blasted from your headphones as you shoved your clothes into bags. I
25 getting out of the car on the 481 and running off into the distance, helpless and disoriented, with no one to protect you, no one to stand guard for you at night or hold your hand when you cried. I imagined you burning my house down. I imagined you doing as youd threatened, getting on a bus to Mexico and missing your court date, and when the youd imagined. I heard the car door slam and looked to see you in the passengers seat, your arms crossed, looking down the road in the direction of the highway. ~*~ I remember trying to sleep in that tiny patch of woods after a whole day sticking our thumbs out and getting absolutely nowhere. I remember holding your hand, your hot tears soaking into your sleeping bag. I remember your rude kiss, like a windup toy set off and running, following its own agenda. Your lips were stiff and forceful, your eyes pinched as if in a nightmare, or in tears. I remember thinking you were a horrible kisser, and that maybe you were so beautiful that nobody ever told you. I remember thinking, when you told me you might go to law school bother me if you were actually my girlfriend, but since you werent and never would be, I could listen and respond with encouragement, calm and disinvested as your student advisor. I remember bragging to my mom about you, my unlikely friend, before the hitchhiking trip: You wont believe the stuff that comes out of this girls mouth. She doesnt care about anything. I remember the words of a minister at a youth retreat: A young woman is like a stick of gumevery time she gives a little bit of herself away, she pulls away a little bit of the wrapper. It starts with a kiss, with a lustful embrace. Why not go a little further? Why not pull the wrapper all the way off? And when the wrappers off, its only a matter of time before she the one she wants to marry and start a family with, no matter how she cries, no matter how many long nights she lies awake repenting, she can never get it back. I remember vowing I would never let a girl like that get to me. I remember your black bra lying in the corner like a vanquished cobra. sink, to your chagrin. The bobberless line that skipped across the surface
26 and dark glasses laughed from their boats when I stripped down and jumped in the water to retrieve a line that was never destined to catch again. I remember as a child, I wanted to learn to play basketball. I spent hours on the court, hoping that someday I would get better so I could play with the big boys. Before long I was a big boy myself, and I still couldnt shoot. To this day I frequently miss ten shots in a row. Its fun for a few minutes, especially if theres no one around. Sometimes I get shots. Backwards, over my head, half-court with my eyes closed, lying on the ground. If someone shows up, I make a show of itpretend Im not trying. You have to protect yourself somehow, right? What can you do after that? When you try and fail, over and over and over again? You can of a wall, grazing doorjambs, swinging your elbows wildly, throwing your head back and feeling it stutter through glass. I remember standing the week after you left in the uppermost level of a parking garage, realizing Id stayed there twelve dollars longer than I lodged in unreachable places under the seat of my car, I chose that moment to cry out to God, If youre out there, this is the time I need you. I remember feeling that I couldnt possibly deal with one more failure. I remember kneeling in the corner of an attic room after my prayer was answered, after God smiled behind the smile of the parking lot attendant, saying, Youre free to go. Dont you worry about it. And I remember how I shook that mans brown hands, and how, in moments of silent prayer can still smell the trace of his cologne on my steering wheel. So why am I digging into all this, if my sins are forgiven? My lack of love, my harshness with myself, my harsh judgment of you, hidden until now? Its tempting to wander among the tombs. Its tempting to do penance, to walk back through with a garden rake, pulling obsessively at tufts of dead grass. (Im sorry. I was wrong. Forgive me.) A lamb, when its born, isnt white for a long time. It comes out in a layer of mucousweak, green, and blind. It takes some time to stand up, and a little longer to walk without falling, and even longer to venture out to pasture. But then sun shines on the dust of birth, sweat loosens it from water, carefully arranged and placed there by small, graceful hands. We
27 Something beautiful, tied in ribbons, that we can hold out to Mom and Dad, saying, Look at my skin glow! Isnt my back straight where it was bent? Dont I stand taller now that Ive dropped my burden? We want to be the hero in the movie who wakes up in a new and wondrous place amidst strains of glissandi on the harp and violin, saying, I was right all But healing is elusive; we glimpse it from time to time, cloaked in amber, as if trapped behind the walls of a pill bottle whose lid we can never remove. hundred seeds, all straining for life. Something darker, on the dark side of the mountain clasped to the neck of the river, bathed in moonlight that deep green and strong in the shade, guarding some dark secret. Ready to sting the careless hands of passersby and the lolling tongues of dogs.
28 Sunlight Aaron Gehan
29 Cherries Amber Hickman In the smell of the dying autumn leaves of rich orange and yellow, was the sweet scent of deep red cherries in our neighbors yard. When we were kids, my brother and I were always drawn to this dark tree that was protected by a bear-like beast who was so gentle. So inviting. How sweet these cherries are on the outside, yet so dangerous inside. We spit the pits like bullets, and go As we grew, we moved to many homes with no cherry trees. My brother grew gentle and sweet, with strong limbs, but dying leaves always around him. The beast that picked this fruit was not a gentle one. It spit the pit right through his head. The deep red juice poured out just below his ears. His limbs limp, no more growth. My brother forever rests in a dark, cherry casket.
30 Untitled Brittany McCann
31 The Artist Jake McAdam I am in love with you, My Mona Lisa. Your perfection My child and my life. You are my creation, yet I am your Slave I found for you The richest colors I stole the royal greens and blues, Well hidden within the storm. I had waited out the universe to pick The pinkest cherry blossoms. For you I took the brightest yellows From Apollo himself, and angered the heavens. I knew only my own veins could produce Such a scarlet. This scarlet fed to you, And the spectrum devoured. I gave to you my own complexion, And from my own I gave you life. My pallet dry Yet my skin host white pale. I am in love with you My Mona Lisa Now I sit-
32 Editors note: Above is Enough for the Both of Us in its entirety; it has been blown up on the following three pages for clarity. Enough for the Both of Us Cala Glatz
36 The Cake Incident Nick Brown Damn it Pennyfeather, how could you leave me here? David couldnt be sure if he was dreaming or not. Finding himself once again at a banquet held by the Royal Historical Society, he wasnt entirely sure how he had gotten there. He remembered being introduced to some people who were apparently rather important, as well as talk of a get together that had been in the works for some time, but that was about it. As the grandson of the famous archeologist, Professor David Michael Preston Sr., in the event that the apple did indeed not fall far from the tree, the society was keen on the idea of brown nosing him as much as possible. In any case, it was safe to say that he had become quite familiar with the massive dining room of Primrose manor. He had been to so many of these kinds of things that his memories of them ran together, but he was certain that he hadnt enjoyed any of them. The food was always too foreign to him and he hardly knew anyone. Whats worse was that the people he did know, he wished he didnt. The only thing about the banquets he found at all tolerable was the desserts. The society had always possessed excellent taste in baked goods, especially when it came to cakes. Davids favorite among them had always been the gateau de somethingorother and he vowed to have at least one slice of it whenever he attended one of their events. As the night wound down, David decided it was time to make his move. He was sure he had spotted the cake amongst a myriad of trays, table and carts, with more kinds of desserts than there were people. It was in his sights, and soon it would be in his mouth. Salivating, he quickened his pace; soon all of his patience would be rewarded. 20 feet, 15, feet, 10 feet, so close he could almost taste it. David, old bean! Not sure if youve heard this one! It was Reginald Beauregard and he had roped David in for a fourth retelling of his famous joke of the evening. Beauregard was a towering man who, after a few drinks, had trouble remembering his own strength. He hooked David around the waist with one of his massive arms, knocking the wind out of him and corralling him into a small crowd that he had assembled around him. lungs. He stared up at Beauregard who was beaming down at him, his eyes slightly out of focus. This wouldnt happen to be the one about the archeologists mother would it? I was hoping I could snag a slice of cake. Nonsense! He bellowed. Youll be able to get some cake later,
37 but this joke is going fast! A few more vodka gimlets and I might not even remember my name! Casting a longing glance toward the table of desserts David relented, giving Beauregard his full attention. Jolly good then, jolly good! So theres this fellow Bartholomew Thorndike who just got back from an excavation in Egypt. Now hes a bit of a tosser this Thorndike, lives with his mother. So anyways, hes just gotten back from Egypt where he stole a mummy and brought it back with im sarcophagus an all. Now one day he goes off to a museum in France an takes the mummy with im to try an sell it but leaves the sarcophagus behind in his study. Now, his mum is doing a bit of light cleaning and sees the sarcophagus an thinks its some kind of new bed or something, so she decides to take a nap in it. Well wouldnt you know it, the authorities caught wind of his little scheme an raid his house while happens next? However, it soon became apparent that not even Beauregard knew. For a few moments he simply stood there with his mouth agape. As he did this David let his eyes hover back over to the table just in time to see Cornelia Primrose carving herself a sizable slice of cake. Now panicking slightly, he peered around the room until something in his periphery caused him to do a double take in disbelief. On a nearby va cant table was an unattended plate of cake. He turned around to see Beauregard still deep in thought. This was it, the chance he had been waiting for. He casually, but cautiously made his way over to the table. Upon reaching it however, his hopes were dashed when he saw Collin Canterbury, the societys oldest living member heading towards the table as well. Canterbury, or the Flycatcher, as some called him was an exceptionally old man. Bald save for a few wisps of silvery hair and nearly toothless, he had a tendency to leave his mouth open when he wasnt speaking. Time had been rather cruel to him and these days his mind seemed neither here nor there. He arrived at the table almost the same time as David, circling right spot to plop down in. He beamed at David who returned the gesture hopefully. Good evening Mr. Canterbury. Good evening lad... have we met? Uh yes, you knew my grandfather, Professor Preston. Right, right, I imagine that makes you his grandson then, Daniel was it? In any case, hows he getting along these days? He died several years ago, you attended his funeral. Did I? Terrible shame, he was a good man your grandfather.
38 Hard to imagine we can engage in such frivolity when a man like him is no longer with us. I cant even remember what tonights occasion was. Oh its just another party... But David stopped himself and shot a quick glance at the cake, I mean, its uh... my birthday. It seems I missed that particular detail, how dreadful. Had I known, I would have brought a gift. If theres anything I can do to make it up to you. Well, if you wouldnt mind parting with that slice of cake, Ive been meaning to have some all night. I daresay its only proper that you of all people get a slice on your birthday! Here you are. David felt an elated sensation overtake him as he reached for A moment later however, David would not be smiling, a dribble of drool dripped from the corner of the old mans mouth and onto the cake. David gasped and a huge hand clapped him on the shoulder, it was Beauregard. You can catch up with this old fossil later, were ready to start again. Defeated, David allowed himself to be shepherded back to where they had been standing. So as I was saying, he continued, you know what happens next? But this time David interrupted him. They all said that brevity is the soul of wit and the joke ends so I can get some cake? Davids remark had gone completely over his head and he stared at him blankly. Oh come now, he said, slurring irritably, you can desert table the cake was growing smaller by the second and the gimlets his place again. Okay, so uh... where was I, uh... No! No! No! Youre telling it all wrong! Let me start over! Let me start over! So theres the fellow Thorndike... Oh cork it you oaf! The shrill voice had caused several people to leap out of the way. It was Margaret Hawthorne, a tiny woman who was completely ignorant to the concept of an inside voice. She held a plate of cake in one hand, and a glass of wine in the other. Never at a loss for words, Hawthorne had always had a habit of cutting people off when she wanted to say something. Only you could forget how to tell your own joke Regi! she shrieked.
39 getting to... oh, never mind, its just not getting the laughs it used to. Oh dont be too hard on yourself. I mean really Regi, you cant expect much from a captive audience can you? for me wont you darling? She said, absentmindedly handing her empty glass to a man standing next to her. With her newly freed hand she picked up her fork and took a bite of cake. That looks superb! Beauregard boomed, eager to make sure he hadnt been forgotten. Wherever did you get it? That tray over there, but you better hurry, theres only one slice left. Oh never mind, He said, looking over at the table. Well here you are darling, you can have the rest of mine Im Ill take it! David chimed in hopefully. Now, now, I offered it to Regi... say David is that you? She our parties. This made David nervous. He knew that if he started talking to her that there would be no escape. You know its funny. Just the other day I ran into that butler of yours, whats his name, Pencepecker? Pennyfeather. David corrected her, but she didnt seem to have noticed. Right. So I bumped into him in the teashop the other day, said he was picking up a few things for you. I must say you have exquisite taste in tea. Jasmine Pearl tea is a favorite of mine. Over her shoulder he could see the last slice of cake, beckoning to him, tempting him. He hoped that soon it would be just the two of them. Then something happened, something terrible. He saw the her dress creaking and groaning in protest as she bent forward. Her hand was reaching for the spatula, and her plate at the ready. This was too much. He was being held up, talking to people he didnt even want to talk to, allowing the one and only reason he had even gone to this party to slip away from him, right before his eyes, and last but not least, this was Cornelias second piece of cake when he hadnt even had one. Excuse me, he said, pushing his way past Margaret Hawthorne Cornelia began to slide the spatula under the last slice of cake. Its good cake, isnt it? he said dangerously, locking eyes with her.
40 Delicious, she replied, turning back to the cake. That wouldnt happen to be your second piece of cake this evening would it? She was surprised, and perhaps a little confused. It might be she replied coyly. But I dont see how thats any of your concern. I think one piece of cake is plenty. sure youre familiar with the old saying Finders keepers losers weepers. At least until the government asks for it back, she added with a dry laugh, picking up the cake and sliding it onto her plate. In any considering every avenue he could exploit to liberate the cake from her clutches. He could no longer censor himself, nothing was off limits, and it was do or die. I thought you were a humanitarian! he shouted. Youre killing your dress! Her left eye twitched, he had hit his mark. In an instant a lunged forward, catching her by the wrist, her fork hovering inches above that bounty of whipped cream and sugar. What on earth do you think youre doing? she gasped. My husband is the head of the society! Ill have you thrown out for this! Dont make a scene, he hissed. Just give me the cake. And he tried to wrench it away from her. It was much harder than he had expected. Primroses grip was far more formidable than he had given her credit for, but at the same time he had to be delicate, lest he destroy his prize in the process. Just give me the damn cake! Dont be absurd boy! Youll learn now that back at the Cornwall Academy for Girls, they didnt call me pincers Primrose for nothing! And she pinched his cheek with her free hand. Ow, ow! Youre batty, he cried. Their struggle didnt go unnoticed for long, and soon onlookers surrounded them. Cant get enough of this cake right? He said, trying to dissolve the tension that was building. Cornelia, embarrassed to be caught in such a compromising situation hastily relinquished the cake, He had done it. The cake was his. It had all been worth it and his victory over Cornelia Primrose made it all the sweeter. He had his cake, and he could have eaten it too, but he used the few seconds it took to raise his fork to his mouth to make one last quip.
41 Dont be mad, Ive actually done your husband a favor. What followed seemed to happen in slow motion. He could only watch in horror as that white-gloved hand slapped his plate to the ground. The cake splattered Shame, said Beauregard who had meandered over to see what David was on the brink of tears; he scooped up back onto his plate what bits of cake he could. He raised a trembling forkful to his mouth. He had come this far. He had no choice. Whats he doing? he heard someone say. Hes not really going to eat that, is he? Dont judge me! Its the gateau de whatever! And at last he took a bite of cake. What! Coconut! What the hells going on? I thought this was the... you on that table over there. We know you like it and youre the only one who ever eats it. He looked up in the direction she had indicated, his mouth now He recognized at once those delicate curves, that seductive aroma, have missed the gateau de sirop?
42 When Dorothy Fell Amy Lowik
43 Darwin Road Ed McGuire I clattered down the rusted tracks with Max, out from the edge of town where the weeds poked through the dust like thin stubble. The overpass panned overhead like a green steel shadow, cars, visible only by the ghosts of their headlights, rushing above us, while Max practiced his pace from plank to plank and I stumbled on rocks, methodically peeking behind for the 5 o clock Express. On my left, a wall of yellow reeds hid swampy waters. Beyond the combed tips of their stalks peered faded houses I never saw people around. On our right, the power plant buzzed goodbyes behind its grass clenched fence in the hill and Max said I didnt need to keep looking back. Up ahead was what he called Chernobyl; A hidden place in the forest fringe of town where the sky glows at night, the round cloud-cover lit pale orange like a cosmic tangerine. We marched into the hush away from town, our shoes grinding loose stones and knocking on planks, as the twilight faded and the stars quietly poked their eyes A deer laid broken between the tracks, its eyes wet and gray and blind enough to think it could be looking at us. It wore a sheath of insects that bustled in its side, and its mouth hung open in unending surprise.
44 My Boyfriends Ford Ranger that I Really Did Love Lexi Jones If a penny fell out of your pocket it probably wouldnt stop at the seat; stained and saturated with decades-old cigarette smoke. It would roll down next to the door, with its crevices caked with mud from owners who know how to drive before you knew how to breathe. where shoes have touched that are long since out of style, it would probably fall through one of the giant rust holeswhich is convenient for hooking up the CB antennae on the outside, where the world can see that your left turn signal doesnt ever work, to the radio on the inside, and hit the black pavement. Hopefully someone would pick it up and decide to save up for something a little more this century.
45 Comic Luzmaria Cruz
46 Sixth Grade Politics and Zebra-Striped Denim Paige Waloven The year that I turned eleven was the year that the twin towers fell, and it was learning what it meant to be a terrorist. We began to color color had its own compartment. As the quota was extended my work became sloppy, and colors splashed onto each other. The red more violent as it scribbled across in heavy wide strokes. The blue became an impeding blob as it covered up the stars. The inspirational message we were supposed to write on the back dwindled to a smiley face. After 9/11 I grew sick of all the red, white and blue but if I complained I was called Un-American, making me wonder what being an American meant. If I didnt meet my quota on time then the terrorists were winning. Just what was a terrorist? I knew it was something terrible like moldy sandwiches and dirty underwear, something that disgusted my parents, and riled them up. When my sixth grade classs blue and red crayons turned into arrived. The excitement caused me to break free of my windup doll shell and come alive. I sat at the edge of my seat and watched the new girl, Ashley; introduce herself causing her curly blonde hair to bounce as she moved around. I could barely focus on her face because I was concentrating too much on her denim. They were white-washed and had bits of zebra-striped fabric sewn into the bottom that jutted out in a pair. The teacher assigned me the title of being Ashleys buddy. It was a special assignment that I took with pride because it meant the teacher trusted me. different. Her voice sounded more like a boys, rough, like she had a sore throat. She was taller than me and all knobby kneed with chicken elbows. She had high cheekbones and a nose that was too big for her face and squashed down. Her blue eyes were smaller than average and outlined our sixth grade class. We played the question game and I quickly realized we didnt really have anything in common. At lunchtime Ashley sat at my table and talked with my friends. In gym class we ran side by side and did our exercises together. But when it came to teams she was placed on the team that had my best friend and I was on the opposite team. I helped Ashley catch up on the
47 reading in English, and I helped her review the periodic table in Science. She was very enthused and hyper. I didnt, however, sit next to her in class. I sat in middle-back and in front of the teachers desk. I was envious of where Ashley sat. She sat next to my best friend, and whenever we had to work quietly I watched Ashley talk to my best friend, and watched as Ashley made my best friend laugh. But nothing Ashley told me had made me laugh that hard. Although I had been impressed with those zebra-striped jeans by the end of the week Ashley had become my shadow I couldnt run from. My tolerance was growing thinner by the minute. Wherever I went she was right beside me breathing loudly through her mouth. Wherever I sat she sat she sat right beside me practically in my chair. Even in the lunch line her puke colored lunch tray matched my puke colored lunch tray. Ashley never seemed to have any pocket change. I made the mistake of telling Ashley that I liked her zebra-striped had become my secret spot. The bathroom had smoothed multicolored rectangular stones that went halfway up the wall, and a large circular fountain sink. The fountain sink made out of concrete and pebbles had come out. I didnt know why I decided to share with Ashley the secret of how much I liked her zebra-striped jeans and then I asked her where she got them. She told me that she didnt buy them anywhere. Ashleys grandmother had sewed in the fabric of a regular pair of jeans she got at the Salvation Army. Ashley must have been very pleased with my comment because she began to wear those zebra-striped jeans at least three times a week. By, the second week Ashley had become completely annoying. She became a buzzing bug that I couldnt swat away. She hovered near my ear and just out of my reach. Also I was beginning to realize that she smelled like cat piss. Maybe she had always smelled but I was just now realizing just how strong she smelled and it churned my stomach. I came to an unsettling conclusion on the bus: I couldnt keep being Ashleys buddy. I had to take a stand or else I would end up smelling like cat piss with her forever. It started at the lunch table the next day. I sat down and Ashley was right on my heels only I slammed my hand on the seat beside me and told her there was no more room for her. I heard her laugh she thought I was joking. No, there is no more room for you I was too much of a coward to look at her and instead spoke away from her. When nobody interfered
48 to stop me Ashley took her tray and left. My stomach didnt feel right as I picked up my carton of milk and stuck a straw in it. It was then when my friends curiosity turned into cold hard questions. Interrogating me until I broke. They wanted to know answers. They wanted to know the truth, the real reason why I sent Ashley away. Its because shes annoying right? came the voice of my best strength. Shes annoying and she copies me in everything! She tried to steal my best friend I said as I straightened up, but my heart was pounding and my palms grew sweaty. I took a sip of my milk and continued when questions after question continued to be catapulted at me. I just dont like her she smells like cat pee! With that sentence it became the sentence that changed everything. It was the sentence that riled up my classmates. Before I knew it my friends were plugging their noses and agreeing with me, and I still hadnt comprehended what it was that I said. All I knew was that I didnt want Ashley to rely on me anymore. Slowly as the reality sunk into me I knew that what I said was horribly cruel, but true, and it escalated. I thought that after that I was free of Ashley and being her buddy Yet Ashley didnt understand that our relationship was over. During class I openly refused to be her partner and that had unknowingly become my second step at breaking our ties. The teacher was too preoccupied and didnt seem concerned that I was no longer her refuse her but the effect seemed to trickle around the classroom. Nobody wanted to be partners with the girl who smelled like cat piss, or wanted to exercise with her in gym, or sit next to her in lunch. The girls were surrounding me in lunch again excitement on their faces as if this was a new game that we were playing. They wanted to know more, all the reasons why they should be ignoring Ashley too implying that they were looking to me to justify the reason that they too over and over, and then I said it again! Shes annoying! She always copied me and was trying to steal my friends! And she smells like cat pee! I would say the same sentence again and again and the more I said it the easier it got. The more I said it the more my hesitation lessened, and it became a powerful statement. Then I turned the table on my classmates, and put them under the light and asked them, Do you want to be friends with somebody who smells like cat pee? Because the truth was I needed their I didnt want this feeling to end.
49 By, the third week Ashley had become completely isolated from the class. At that time I really believed that it was Ashleys fault. If she hadnt copied me or followed me then things might have turned out differently. She was still wearing those zebra-striped jeans only the fabric on the knees was getting whiter and worn out. The fabric had become so thin that somebody told me she tripped on the school bus and holes formed on her knees. When I heard this all I could think was good, now shell stop wearing those ugly jeans! During the third week when Ashley ripped her jeans, and continued to wear them, was when the drawings started. I didnt hold the pencil but I might as well have. Instead I commanded from behind pointing and saying what was missing. The drawings had the same repetition: a small head with buck teeth and a bushy unibrow with a touches we drew smell vapors coming from her body. Ashleys appearance also began to morph into what our own morphed eyes saw. Then we dehumanized her and began to draw her as a rat: a disease infested rat with beady eyes and buck teeth. notebook circled around the room. I watched the faces of my classmates when they received the notebook and snickered, covered their mouths so not to make noise, and passed on the notebook to the next kid. I took my attention to Ashley who sat at the far end of the classroom. She was hunched over her desk and furiously copying down the notes. She was trying to act like she didnt notice the kids snickering and mouthing words as they pointed towards her. After lunch on my way back to the classroom I felt pressure in my stomach, paralyzing pressure, that caused me to stop walking and almost double over. I knew this feeling this familiar embarrassing feeling that could only be relieved in the safety of my own bathroom at home. I had lunch and it was the perfect place to relieve myself. I didnt care how loud I was because nobody was there to listen. I had dodged the embarrassment bomb, and I didnt even want to think what would have of the stall, standing by the circular fountain was Ashley. My mind went blank. My body felt sick with fever and the hairs on my arms and neck to move my body; I couldnt just stand there forever. I walked to the circular fountain sink. Are you following me again? My voice cracked and quivered
50 as I asked. I stepped on the pedal and rubbed my hands together as the water gushed out. Why are you being mean to me? What did I do to you? Ashley asked forcefully. You were just annoying meyou alwayscopied me I said, pumping the soap machine so many times that the soap spilled over my palms. That feeling of power I had felt before left me barren and empty. Ashley wasnt wearing those zebra-striped jeans today like she was the last time we were in the bathroom together. But the conversation was different. Im sorry! I didnt mean to do anything wrong! Im sorry! Ashley confessed. You were supposed to be my friend! The last remark was like a slap to my face and I quickly rinsed my hands. I ignored Ashley and left the bathroom, but Ashley was right on my heels again. She kept saying things to methings that made me look like the villain. She kept saying things to methings that made her look like the victim. She kept saying things and I was backed into a corner. I was shaking so hard I could barely open the door. Ashley was right behind me when we entered the classroom. We were both late and all eyes were on me, but there was no sign of the teacher. All eyes were watching me, because I was caught fraternizing with a girl we were supposed to be ignoring. I kept my eyes down and walked to my seat. I had to think fastkids were approaching metheir attention focused on me, and ignoring Ashley. I could still change things around, and explain myself before a misunderstanding happened. I was an eleven-year-old addict who was addicted to that feeling of power and I wasnt ready to give it up. The questions started and blurred together and my brain couldnt comprehend. Once again I was being interrogated. My tongue moved on its own. My brain acting before my heart. Ashley had really bad diarrhea in the bathroomI caught her! She stunk up the whole placeI almost vomited. I had lied. A lie that was so big and powerful it had breathed life into beastly monsters that consumed all the nice inside me. Up until then I had spoken the hard truth, but the game had completely changed because instead of playing with the truths I was dappling in lies. What was worse was that nobody questioned my lie, and nobody challenged it. Loud waves of EW! erupted like a nuclear bomb; a mushroom cloud that suffocated the whole class. I had to apologizeI had to make things rightset the truth rightbut I didnt want to lose-face in front of my friends. I feel bad for Ashleyyou know? We should do something for herlikegive her soap as a present I said. blanks. What the hell was I doing? I was no longer myself. I had become
51 a stranger. The words felt dirty and wrong on my tongue. I wanted to wash my own mouth out with soap. My hands shook so violently I hid the evidence under my desk. My face was smiling but I didnt feel happy. My friends simply agreed with me when the teacher walked in and everybody went back to their own seats. No matter how many times I said it to myself it didnt become easier. It had only become more wrong. I didnt want my classmates to see me as a traitor and I didnt want them to bring Ashley soap. I began to think of the teacher. I had sat in front of her desk this whole time and she didnt notice anything? The teacher who didnt notice the drawings or the way we all ignored Ashley? How oblivious could the teacher be? Surely she would notice if the students brought soap and put it on Ashleys desk. She would notice it and she will stop it before it happened. The teacher had to stop it. The next day there was no miracle. I hadnt prayed hard enough. The teacher had been running late, she was always running late, but the classroom was unlocked and unattended. My friends were already there bars of soap, white dove bars, into school and they were arguing on where to put them. They were undecided on if they should place the bars of soap on top of her desk so she would see it, or in her desk so she to swallow. I was probably catching a real nasty cold. This sickness-like feeling had been getting worse the past couple of days. I wanted to leave but my friends caught sight of me. They decided to ask me and make me the deciding factor. I didnt want to answer because I was afraid if I did I would vomit. But, my tongue betrayed me once again. The teacher and Ashley both came in late. I noticed that Ashley was wearing those zebra-striped jeans again and the holes had gotten so big I could see the skin of her thighs and calves. She didnt look so much like a rat today. She looked more human. Her face was softened yet she walked tense and lethargic. Her hair wasnt in a ponytail a montage of different type of Ashley-like expressions: smiling Ashley, laughing Ashley, and none of them looked like the Ashley in front of me. The teacher told us to take out our notebooks, and when she turned her back to write on the broad there was a thudding noise. It was the was the sobs of Ashley. I sat frozen at my desk. I neither laughed nor
52 The teacher turned back around, and it only took a couple of was happening. The teacher hollered at us, her face got all blotchy red, She took Ashley in a comforting arm and led her out of the room. When the door slammed shut behind them a wave of realization poisoned the class as if a canister of mustard gas had been released. It was the overlooked it because it didnt seem real to us, and we didnt understand the psychological scars our words and actions caused. The second time was more real, we saw somebody who was once innocent, and destroyed herno I had destroyed herit was my fault. I was the terrorist in Ashleys life. I had made things unstable and not safe anymore for Ashley. When the teacher opened up the door and called me out into the hallway all I could think about was that the teacher had stopped me. The teacher stopped the terrorist. I made a promise to myself that I would never be such a coward again. Confronting Ashley in the hallway I because I didnt like them or felt threatened by them. Even though I was punished immensely I didnt blame anybody else but myself. I even thanked the teacher, because it made me open my eyes, and realize that Ashley was the true victim and I was the true villain.
53 Udder Destruction Linda C. Robbins
54 Untitled Logane Robison
55 My Dearest Whoever Annie Hidley My Dearest Alec, or Alaina, or Sasha, or Josh, or Eva, or Brendan, or Olivia, or Derrick, or whatever perfect name I have picked for you, First and foremost I want to tell you how much I love you. I want to tell you how important love is going to be in your life. I want you to walk through your life and love everything you see, whether the way fresh mud is smeared on your shoe and it takes you a few extra minutes to clean it upI want you to love the mud, look at everything for its beauty. I want you to be brave and do everything that you want to. I know you are not going to be stupid, and if something looks fun I want you to do it. I want you to laugh at everything! Do not, under any circumstances, take anything too seriously. Here is who I am right now. I am twenty-one years old, I feel like my life is just beginning. I go to college and I have learned how to be an English teacher, but right now I really want to work in a college. I want to be a Community Services coordinator, or a counselor. I want to write books. I want to instructor and I want to choose the soundtrack for movies. There are a million things I want to do and I want you to know that it is ok to want to do a million things. When I graduated high school, the card my mom, your grandma, gave me, said All who wander are not lost. She knew me before I was born just like I know you. She knew that I loved discovering, and that the road would take me exactly where it was supposed to. She knew that everything that happened to me would end up being good, and that I would love and learn from everything I did. I have wonderful, brilliant, funny friends, and I hope I stay in touch with them so you get to meet them, and they get to teach you how to be funnier than I can. Friends are SO importantmake lots of friends, and choose them! Surround yourself with the happiest, most energetic peoplepeople you admire and strive to be like. I love reading, and I am going to read to you every night before you go to sleep I promise. I hope that you tumble into books like I havethat you people and are continually thirsty for the beauty of words together. I love to exercise and I do it multiple times a day. I love to run, and I love
56 to do yoga. I love breathing hard and sweating and feeling cleansed. I think you are going to too. When I grew up, my parents made me ride my bike EVERYWHERE. No joketo school, to my friends houses, to the grocery store (they harnessed banana boxes on the back of their and made it so hard for them. In hindsight, I cannot thank them enough, because I am so strong now. I am never going to be fat, and I appreciate so much the healthy lifestyle and mindset they have instilled in me. Its ok if you hate me sometimes. I can handle it, because I have something so amazing and wonderful that nothing in the world could ever make me feel too gloomyI have you. I am in love with lots of boys but none of them is fantastic enough yet to be your father. When you are born, I want you to know that I chose your dad for youthat I picked someone who I know is going to unconditionally love and support you in all of your adventures. I chose someone who I know is going to teach you everything you will need to know, who is going to be the voice of reason when I have an irrational day. I chose someone who loves you as much as I do, and who loves me like the world stopped when he met me. We are going to make sure to unfurl the world at the feet of you, encourage you in everything you do, and we are going to let you soar. I love you more than I am ever going to love any guy, because I will get to watch your hands grow from worth it at all. I hope you remain relaxed about everything, realize that nothing is as big of a deal as it might seem. I have known love most when I walked along the sandy shore of Carolina scattered with sea shells and watched the sun rise, promising me a brand new day. I hope you get to walk along many beaches, and collect many sea shells. I hope that every time you watch the sun rise it takes your breath away. I hope that the wonderful pinks and golds never get old for you, and that every day you witness a miracle. to be over, but looked out the window and saw every tree God made for me, saw His hands outstretched, giving me everything. Realized that everything beautiful was made for me to SEE it, if only I opened my eyes. Thats all you ever have to dojust keep your eyes open. I have known love most when I read the note my dad, your grandpa, wrote to my high school English teacher when I was sixteen years old, Pete and Laurie get to be your grandparents. When I want to be lazy and drive you to
57 soccer practice, they are going to get you on your bike and ride over to are not going to buy you lots of frivolous presents, but they are going to teach you how to build things, and how to safely ride a motorcycle. They are going to teach you how to sail, and how to scuba dive. They are going to show you how important being healthy is, and how to take care of your body. They are going to teach you how rewarding it is to save money, and show you how to manage a bank account and start an IRA. They are going to show you why its important to get good grades, and they are not going to show you my high school report cards when they do this. They are never going to want to stop holding you, and even though Im going to want you back, I am going to love them for that. I want you to know that life is beautiful. I hope that you have freckles, but even if you dont I will look at your face have just been kissed by the sun. I hope you spend as much time as possible in the sunshine, soak it up and let it help you grow. complete euphoria in the way your limbs move you in the water, in the weight of it around you and the calming silence when you put your head under. I hope you jump off every rope swing you see and I hope you dont have a thought in your head except the exhilaration of the splash. (Please be careful for rocks. I promise all of this is so much better when you dont have broken bones). I hope you love feeling grass between your bare toes, and I hope you never worry about dirt, or stepping on worms, or ants. I hope you love every living thing with all the energy you have. I hope you realize that all energy gives back to each other, that everything is a circle, and everything moves forward, always. I hope you remember this when things seem bad, when it seems like you cant go on. Because it will happen, and my heart is going to shatter for you. But think about all the grass, swaying in the wind in perfect unison, breaking back down and becoming ground, growing again. You are moving forward too, even if it doesnt feel like it. New light is going to ing to be YOU. Dont ever, ever stop dreaming. I want you to hope for EVERYTHING! Believe that you can do somethingand you CAN! Celebrate every moment of your wonderful life. Smile more than you do anything else. You are never, ever going to be alone. I hope you realize that the more you love yourself, the more everyone
58 around you is going to love you. No matter what you look like or how you feel about yourself, I promise that you are going to discover that you are absolutely perfect, and that the people who love you for exactly who you are, are the people who are able to witness all your glorious light shine from you. You are going to illuminate rooms, and I cannot wait to catch the rays. I love you SO much already, and I dont even know who your dad is going to be. I dont know what you are going to look like, and I do not care. I dont know if you are going to be able to walk and run perfectly, but we will go on lots of adventures no matter what. I dont know if you are going to want to be a painter or a doctor, and I dont care at all! I am going to be fascinated by everything you learn and I cant wait for you to tell me stories about your day. I want you to embrace who you are as a personwho you are as part of the pulse that beats all around you. When you are happy, your life is going to be a good one. Never feel comfortable slipping into sadness. Of course it is ok to cry and to feel sadbut it never means that you have the right to make anyone elses day worse. You are going to be wonderfuland YOU have the power and the opportunity to enrich the day of EVERY person that you meet. You get to decide not only if you are or are not going to be happy, but if you are or are not going to make someone elses day happier too. It re ally is as simple as making one decision. You are going to move mountains, and I am so excited, and so lucky, that I am going to get to be there to see your life unfold.
59 Untitled Joseph Ray
60 The Red Candle Kimberly Kittleson
61 The Ghost Box Christopher Cook Incomprehensible, senseless discussions Happen, happen, happen, Bleed through the untimely walls With no more than twelve green stations To guide their party forward. Four hours past the bell strikes, And his world is not at rest. He turns the switch off Smashes the bulb with a baseball bat, But the light still shines through Through the trees, and he laughs. He laughs so hard that he hurts, So hard that he pops a pill, When the unknown thoughts of his world Happen, happen, happen, And he laughs so hard that it hurts. White light now shows its ugly face, Disturbing all of the inner peace. A small, beautiful creature opens her eyes, And, at last, the light goes out, Closing doors as darkened joys Happen, happen, happen.
62 Winter Roses Patsy Conrad Dad hurls the wheel of the tan, clumsy mini-van to the right and we pull into the driveway across the street, buried with three feet of snow. As soon as the engine is silent, he, my mom, older brother and sister, quickly gather the boxes, carefully wrapped with the shiniest red and silver paper and escape out of the car. I am left alone, still buckled in slight rustle of my winter jacket and rattle of the van shaking in the harsh wind. I unbuckle the strap that secures my life, turn around to face the frost bannered back window and witness the slam of the glass door as they enter the warmth of Grams house. Light gray smoke puffs out her tall brick chimney, forming ash clouds in the pale blue sky. Looking at Grams house, I notice how big it really is. It is much bigger than most of the cottages around, abandoned by their inhabitants, who like the birds, The world is white around me, snow weighing down the trees and suffocating the earth. Gram hates the winter. She says its too cold for her bones and does a number on her garden. She always says spring however, enjoy the snow, the way it makes the ground sparkle like diamonds. Its the typical winter weather we get here in Buffalo, especially living right off Lake Erie. Weve done this tradition of going to Grams house for a scrumptious Christmas breakfast ever since I can remember. I look forward to it the most when Christmas is just around the corner, but there is something different about this year. I am not as excited as I normally would be. I guess with Gram having her frequent hospital visits and us not being able to decorate our Christmas cookies this year has a little something to do with it. But even so, something more is missing. Its like Ive lost the spirit altogether. Suddenly, I am distracted from my trance by a loud holler and arms waving in the air. Paatssyyyy! Cmon! What are you still doing in there?! Shaun shouts his brows wrinkled and eyes squinting from a distance. He begins into the side of his face. I have been day dreaming in the van for a while now so I hop over the middle seat, slide the heavy door open, exit and sink deep into the shimmering snow. I slam the door shut and hustle to meet my brother whos already at the end of the driveway.
63 What were you doing in there, weirdo? He says with a smile, as he puts his arm around my neck, giving me a noogie. I dont knowjust thinking I guess, I reply, pushing him away Dont think too hard, youll hurt yourself. He laughs and gives me a nudge with his elbow. Come on, kid. Lets get you inside. People are waiting to see you. We carefully walk up the ice-shelled steps, gripping our hands tightly around the railing. As my foot enters the house, I am hit with the smell of sizzling bacon, fried eggs, butter soaked toast and salty, crisp hash browns, all coming from the stove. My stomach begins to rumble like thunder off the lake. Hey! Merry Christmas! my family shouts in unison. I smile faintly and mumble the holiday phrase back. The room is packed with chatting relatives, all standing up, due to the lack of chairs and also space in Grams famous, but tiny kitchen. I begin to maneuver through the crowd, stopping to hug them and wish them season greetings but really in search for Gram. I spot her sitting in her stationary position, located at the end of the circled dining table. Her elbows rest gently on the wood, chin held by her aged hands and gaze observing the outer winter atmosphere. She is absorbed in her window view, unaware of the events surrounding her. She breaks her concentration and our eyes meet. Her face matches the grey of her hair, blending in with the ghostly white of her cotton sweater. But as we smile at one another, her wrinkly cheeks blush a light pink. deep within me. Its unusual to not see a Marlboro light burning between beating this, shed have to give up her habit. And after 67 years of smoking, she did. Placing her hand on my knee she asks, Hows my girl doing? I sigh, Im okay, Gram. How bout you? You feeling okay today? Ah, dont you worry about me. Ill be alright. And cheer up, Grumpy. Its Christmas. She winks. Grumpy the word triggers something inside of me, haunting me ever since it left her lips. Breakfast is ready. An announcement yells from the stove. My appetite has disappeared, along with any holiday cheer I started to feel. Weeks pass and Grams kidneys start to fail. She is now permanently living in the hospital, stripped from her home, family and life.
64 I hate hospitals and so does she, the way they smell of plastic and medical equipment. We walk through the blank halls in silence, Mom strolling along, me falling back behind them. We enter the room and Gram is lying under the white sheets of the hospital bed, in a deep slumber. The sickness has taken a toll on her. She has lost all the pinkness of her cheeks and the jiggle out of her laugh. Tubes surround her nose and keep her breathing steady. Mom stand and replaces them with the fresh roses we bought. Theyre her favorite. My family is lined up against the wall of the silent room, all staring at Gram sleeping. This is our time to say goodbye, but Im not ready, not like this. Does she even know I am here? That its me, the one she made peanut butter and toast for every morning when Mom and Dad went to work? When her chest becomes still and her heart stops pumping, will she remember me? Remember the way we played cards at the round kitchen table for hours or did those endless puzzles? Will she ever forgive me? The silence is broken by the whimpers coming from Shaun, who never cries. As much as I feel my heart sink to the deepest part of my stomach, I know shell be in peace soon, looking down from the clouds with her husband, who died before I could collect a memory of him. It is time for us to leave, visiting hours are over. Dad walks over and kisses Gram in the center of her forehead, whispering, I love you, Mom, in her ear. As he turns and leaves, tears charring his cheeks, the rest of my family follows behind, saying good-bye in their own way. I tell them to go on without me. Alone in the eerie hospital room, I walk up and sit in stiff chair balloon too tight and watching the liquid burst out. I had held it in for so long but now that we were alone, I can tell her how I really feel. I remove a wrinkled white piece of notebook paper from my jean pocket and start reading all the memories we shared together. I remind her about the way she always waited for me at the top of the hill as I sprinted off the big yellow bus just to give her a hug and spend the rest of my afternoon with her, until Mom and Dad got home from work. I read everything I had written down, crying harder as every memory mentioned brought me back to the feelings of happiness we shared. But in my last sentence, I apologize for not being happy on our last Christmas. I sit with my head in my hands; elbows resting on my knees and salt streaking down my face. I slowly stagger up from the chair, kiss Gram on my cheek, hug her tightly and walk out.
65 Dad is driving the van home from my basketball game, Moms in the front seat. Im alone in the back seat, staring out the foggy window into the frozen scene. I begin to reminisce about all the fun I had with Gram throughout my life. Suddenly, I feel something inside me break like a rubber band snapping after being stretched too hard. It is as if a part of me has abruptly disappeared. I then realize shes gone. I keep my focus out the window, trying to keep my whimpers as quiet as possible so my parents dont know Im crying. Dad turns the van down our street just as the phone launches into a piercing ring and Mom answers it. Hello?.. Oh, hi Ellen She did?.. Okay Thank you for calling. With a sigh she hangs up the phone. Shes dead, isnt she!? Dad blurts out, his voicing breaking. Mom sighs again and shakes her head yes, not able to utter the news. Dad pulls into the driveway and they rush into the warmth of the house. I sit there alone, in silence, staring at the white crystals falling from the black sky.
66 Cutout of Darkness Chantal Le Blanc The blue silk wrap slips off your shoulder and snake -like, pools on the bottom of the stairs. of the banister you watch your bare knees rise from memory to the carpet of the upper hallway. The one pearl earring you remembered to put in this morning winks at you from the mirror, a pink wink in the light that bursts, angular, from the one shade you forgot to close. You avert your eyes. In the bedroom shes still there, your Ophelia preserved in a teacup. This morning as you had on a program on swans, the spider, up until now content in the corner of the ceiling, released her body on a silken thread, and you watched her, slowly, lower herself into the day-old tea on the bedside table. She lies there still, the follicles on her black body spreading out. Your hand is on the hairbrush before you remember its too full of hair to use. how she decided instead of climbing back to the safety of the web to slip and embrace the bitter wetness.
67 Memory Rhiannon Throop
68 Reality Desiree A. Alcala Let me go, let me go! She wails, shouting at the top of her lungs; but no one listens. Its times like this she feels no one even hears her, like theyre all deaf or have no ears. imagination. Theyre like those black and white movies, gray on the skin, eyes dark. She cant control them, cant stop them. All the drugs theyve dispensed down the tubes, straight into her veins, weaken her. She cant change it, whats happening. She can struggle all she wants, pull her arms till they wrench out of their sockets in pain, because its not doing her any good. Theyll take her to that room again, the one with the startling white walls that are padded soft. Shell hug herself asleep like she has for the past few nights because of those nightmares. Its always those same nightmares. Tears are streaming down her face; and all she can do is scream she wont go back; she refuses. only one youre hurting is yourself. Ive said this countless times. Your outbursts will not be tolerated, you know that. Its not true. Its not true! Its not true. I didnt do it. It wasnt me, its not true. Tara stares straight into the doctors light black, calm eyes. Theres a detachment in Taras voice. No longer is she the innocent victim, but a person who shouldnt be there, who shouldnt even exist. She tilts her head ever so slightly and sneers at the doctor. You put her in that room again and youre going to regret it. You system. But they manage to hold her down anyway. They wont get away, and they both know it so Tara cries. She cries her heart and soul out because she knows what will happen. She cant run from this place, theyre always watching her. Theyll put the restraints on, the white jacket that forces you to love yourself, and keep you from hurting others. But Tara doesnt want to love herself, hold herself, hurt herself or others. She just wants to go home and sleep in her bed like a good girl, waiting for mommy and daddy to Tara is dragged into the quiet room, feeling beneath her bare
69 against the far wall. She hates this room, the silence it brings and the memories it provokes. Memories No, not memories, lies! Theyre lies theyve told her to keep her here. They tell her shes her and theyll come visit her soon. When everyone realizes she didnt do anything wrong shell get out. Tara rocks back and forth in that same spot. All she remembers stupid bitch. Tara stops crying and looks out at the doctor whos getting ready to close the carefully padded door. I didnt do anything wrong. I was protecting us. They were the ones who did me wrong, pushing us aside like we were trash. They deserved it. Lira growls at the doctor. They deserved it. The doctor shakes her head. So you hold no remorse for what youve done Tara? Tara shakes her head. I didnt do it. Youre all lying, playing a mean trick on me. The doctor shook her head again. No one is lying to you, Tara. Youre only lying to yourself, and until you see the truth, you must stay in this room. You need to calm down and think clearly about everything thats happened. Accepting your situation is the only way to break free from this. Tara looks away from the doctor to stare blankly at the wall as the door is closed. They cant keep me here forever; theyll see. You mean us, dont you? Tara tries to cover her ears and moans when she cant. That voice is what did this, what made all of it happen. I never did anything wrong. You did. Now, now Tara. That isnt true; you made me, so its your fault, too. her. Her eyes are cold and shes covered in black ash. She sees through Tara, like she knows what she feels, what shes going to say. And she does. I didnt do anything wrong. I didnt do it. You know that, Lira. Of course I do, but they dont. You should know that by now. You saw it, you know who did it. You can tell them what you remember, Tara whispered. No, I cant. But you can. Besides, we both know what happened that day, dont we? I didnt do anything. Tara turns to the door. I didnt do it! Youre all lying.
70 Taras eyes grow heavy, the sedatives taking hold fast. The white room gets dark, lights out. Tara is alone with Lira now. Their breathing is heavy as they try to stay awake a little while longer. We know what happened. Why were really here, dont we? Tara smiles drowsily at where the door should be. But its hard to keep track of everything when it all blends together like different paints poured in a single bowl. Lira is gone. The lights are out, and the only one left is Tara. Only they know the truth; Lira remembers even if Tara is in denial, but oh she remembers too. She just doesnt want to face what shes done, but her mind always reminds her, especially in her sleep. What her family was like. How they were very bad girls and ended up in here. Nine years ago They forgot again didnt they? Lira, Taras friend paced back and forth in anger while Tara sat which was usually the easiest problem for her, but she couldnt seem to concentrate on her work, not with Lira pacing like that. Yes, they forgot again. All they think about is Tyler; dunce cant even tie his own shoes properly. Tara didnt look up at Lira, just nodded and wrote down the answer on the slip of paper. up. Tyler, her cousin, stood in front of her giving her a weird look. Tylers parents had died in an accident about two years ago. Tara didnt know the details, much less cared. She hadnt known her aunt and uncle, hadnt heard of them until the actual accident when her father received the phone call. Perhaps it had something to her mother and father always working. They had always been so busy, never taking the time to call or visit family in the city. And moving when she was seven away from the city only made the distance greater. Despite this, they decided to take in Tyler. The moment Tyler came into the house her parents drooled over him. The brat got whatever he wanted, and she was all but forgotten. During her birthday, holidays and even vacations she was left alone, until Lira came to the neighborhood. Lira was now her best friend, her only friend, although that didnt bother her much. Lira liked everything Tara liked, and she hated everything she hated, including Tyler. Can I help you with something? Who were you just talking to, nutcase? Tyler smirked at Tara. She had the inexplicable urge to smack that look off his face. But then hed just be given a treat and Tara would be reprimanded.
71 I was talking to Lira. She must have run off because of your ripped the paper from beneath her pencil. Hey! Give that back you little worm! Tara moved from behind the desk and ran after him all the way to the spiral staircase in the hallway. I wouldnt talk to me that way if I were you. You could get into a lot of trouble with my aunt and uncle. And besides, what kind of gibberish is this anyway? Tyler stared at the paper, the way a caveman might stare at a television screen. What a moron. Tara heard Liras voice and turned around, but she wasnt behind her. Maybe Lira was hiding. She didnt much like Tyler and seeing him would probably make her puke. Tara glared up at Tyler and he grinned back. What do you want from me now? Theres a party is tonight, and aunt and uncle are supposed to have a big surprise. Bet you didnt know. Were not having a party. What are you talking about? Tara frowned at him. She couldnt believe that her parents would have a party without telling her. That at the very least they would have told her about. They forgot your birthday last year. Do you really think another party is going to make a difference to them? They didnt even acknowledge you during Christmas. Well, perhaps your father, but he only said morning and walked away, so that doesnt really count. Lira leaned against the side of the entrance to the dining room. She looked at Tara as if surprised the thought would even occur to her. And she was right. Why should Tara think they would remember to tell her about this party if theyd forgotten about her birthday again? But its a party they didnt tell her about. Maybe they remembered and decided to hold another party for her. Tara smiled and Lira just looked nonchalantly at the wall. I bet its for me. Mom and Dad forgot about my birthday again, so theyre probably making up for it with an even bigger party. Tara smiled broadly and waved at Tyler as she ran in excitement. Thanks for the update, bonehead! Uh, wait!? What? Tyler stared after Tara in complete ignorance for a second as she ran past the staircase and down the other hall towards the secondary staircase leading to her room upstairs. As she left Tyler slowly sat down on the stairs and grinned smugly. rest of the day. She couldnt help think that maybe her parents hadnt forgotten her after all. Tara tried to convince Lira that this was a good
72 skeptical and refused to go to the party with her. She saw this as a trick, maybe something Tyler came up with as a joke. No matter what, she couldnt get that happy smile off Taras face. Lira was unsure, but she felt something bad was going to happen. It was a feeling she couldnt understand, but she trusted it nonetheless. When you presume something, rather than go off and try to crazy. Lira walked out of the room as Tara prepared, not a single word of what shed said reached her. Tara dressed in her best, and only, light blue dress in front of her mirror in her bedroom. She even did her hair in curls, something shed never done. She wanted this night to be perfect for her parents. Tara walked past her armoire on the right of her tall wooden dresser, and grabbed her shoes. All this time she has hated Tyler, but for once hed done her a huge favor. Maybe she should be less harsh to him. After all, he did lose his parents. Please, dont even think that. He hasnt changed from being a little worm. Hes spoiled by your parents, and besides, he was kind of person to suddenly do something nice for others. Its just not his nature. Lira sat silently on the bed watching Tara as she dressed for her big night. Dont you think I know that? But in his moronic way he helped me look my best for Mom and Dad. Tara glanced back at the mirror on ignoring me. Theyre doing something for me, not Tyler. Thats all good, but I still dont like it, Lira glanced up at the clock on the other wall near the door. Its time for you to go, dont want to be late to your party, she said begrudgingly. Tara ran up the stairs down the hall, past the spiral mahogany headed right and stopped, breathing before she silently opened the parlor door. She saw more than a dozen people sitting down around the room. This is one of her favorite rooms, because of it being so bright. farthest wall. The guests were all smiling, laughing and hugging Tyler and Taras parents. Tara, of course, didnt understand why that was if it was party for her. Silently, she walked to the center of the room where her parents stood. Her mother was smiling brightly, her pearl white teeth perfect, as always. She had brown hair and brown eyes, and was
73 wearing her pretty black work suit. Her father was wearing an Armani champagne. In the light of the room, the champagne seemed to match his blond hair. Whats going on? Oh, Tara. Shouldnt you be in bed? Taras mother stared at her in confusion, a drink in one hand and a cigarette appearing in the other. No. Whats going on? I thought this was my birthday party. Your party? Who gave you that idea? This is Tylers party. Were celebrating his adoption. Tara smiled exuberantly. So that means hes leaving? I wouldnt go that far, Tara. Tara looked around but Lira wasnt there, though she swore she heard her voice. She was probably hiding behind the people here, and she just couldnt see her. So much for not coming to the party. No, Tyler is staying. From now on hes going to be your brother. Tara stared at her mother as if shed gone mad. She glanced back at Tyler who was plugging something into the television. He glanced back at her and grinned. He knew this party was for him and he didnt tell her. That worm, he knew and he embarrassed her in front of everyone. And her parents, they really did forget her birthday again. Not even a sorry that we forgot about it. In the end it was always about Tyler, and that would never change, would it? Tara was just beginning to build up that rage when Lira appeared beside her and whispered in her ear. Hes not done yet, cant you tell? Hes just getting started. Attention, everyone. I have a surprise for you, even you Tara. Tyler grinned again and bowed. For the past several months Ive been making a documentary, with the video camera my new parents got me. A special thanks to Tara for all the material. Tyler pushed play. seemed upside down, but wait no, that was just Tyler holding the camera the wrong way. A couple of seconds went by and suddenly on the screen was Tara. She was sitting in the park under a tree, laughing. how well hed made it. Everyone except Lira and Tara. There was no one beside her or behind the trees. The camera zoomed in and found no one even remotely near her. Everyone glanced up at Tara and she stared wide-eyed at the screen. Why was she talking to herself? hour or so. It was a video of her. She always talking to herself. Then Tara began to recognize the scenes: the park, her house in
74 the kitchen, the pool, the backyard and the lake. All of these places were The last scene was in the library, where Tara was doing her calculus homework earlier. Tara shook her head and stared at the screen, waiting for Lira to show up. But she never did. Instead of Liras voice, she heard her own speaking in her place. They forgot again, didnt they? Tara sneered at the window across the room when she spoke. The camera zoomed in closer to her face. Tara sneered, and the Tyler backed away to her parents, and she saw it. The same look on everyones faces as the one Tyler had given her earlier. They all whispered and stared, unsure of what to say or do. What did you do to Lira you stupid little!? Enough, Tara. Taras father pulled Tyler behind him. Explain to us, what exactly were we watching, sweetheart? Why was Tyler...why Tara couldnt believe her ears as her father stared strangely at her. He believed this, believed Tyler over his own daughter. Lira stood beside her now. I told you not to trust the little worm, but you wouldnt listen to me, would you? No, now they think youre crazy. Lira laughed as Tara cried in anger and sadness. You believe him. That monster, that -that little little ughhh! to make it look like I was talking to myself. Tell them the truth. You maggot? Tyler laughed and the other guests began to get up slowly. Tara turned on them. Where do think youre going? She cried; Her tears were streaming now. Sit back down; no one leaves until they hear him say it! She turned back to Tyler. Youre lying. And you, my own parents. Do you think Im crazy? HuhYou choose that thing over me? You forget my birthday, dont even acknowledge me when we go out! Which is never, because Tyler has to go everywhere. Youve forgotten all about me every single day for the past two years and you are so ready to brush me aside, huh? Sweetheart. Taras mother placed her drink down on a small table beside her. She stared at her daughter with confusion. Sweetheart, what are talking about? We just celebrated your birthday two months ago, remember? How do you think you got that dress? It was a gift from
75 me and your father. Honey, if something is wrong you can tell us, you know that. That anger just kept building, and confusion swelled in Taras mind. Then Lira whispered in her ear again. Theyre lying again, see? Now they dont even want to admit their mistakes. Let me handle this. Ill take care of them. Lira scowled at them. You were never good parents anyway. Tara doesnt deserve scum like you. Tara is the best kid youll ever have and the only one youll ever appreciate. Lira grabbed an iron rod from the chimney set on the opposite side of the room and ran as Taras parents stared after her in shock. She closed both of the doors, sliding the rods in-between the door handles. Lira was furious. No one hurt Tara like that, not now and not ever. Lira grinned, Im going to take good care of them for us. Theyll never forget you after this. She ran to the kitchen, and grabbed the mechanical lighter the chef used, from one of the drawers and ripped some of the dirty dish rags from under the sink. She headed back to the door and heard Taras way out, but the only escape was this door. Lira could only guess that windows. Taras father always did like old fashion houses, so the windows wouldnt really budge after a long time of not being used. Tara stared at the door and cried some more. Lira sighed. How could they believe him? Im their daughter!? They always said they wanted a boy. Well now theyve got one, havent they? They adopted him, that monster. Lira shoved the rags into the cracks under the door and lit them up. Running back she grabbed the alcohol Taras mother loved to drink consumed the entire wall. Tara was still crying when Lira began to comfort her. Dont worry, after this they wont forget you. Theyll learn their lesson soon enough. As soon as they apologize Ill let them out. and smoke spread. Lira grabbed more of the alcohol and smashed the bottle against the door, making it slip into the room they were all in. Lira throughout the house. to the kitchen and grabbed the phone, but Lira stopped her.
76 cant I just ignore them, like they ignored me? Lira grinned holding the last of the alcohol bottles, and helped Tara out the back door. concrete sidewalk outside of her house. She was waiting, still waiting, for mommy and daddy to remember her and pick her up. Tara screams as she wakes up. There are tears trickling down her cheeks as she stares at the light bulb above her. The lights are on and shes still hugging herself again and shes back in that damn room. Tara stares blankly at Lira. Lira stares at the wall blankly. We didnt do anything wrong. They did. They ignored me and treated me like crap. I was nothing and he was everything. I was smarter than him, well behaved and nicer. And yet they chose him. They always said they wanted a boy. Lira smiles. Now theyll have him in death. You did it Lira, not me. I was crying the whole time. I didnt know what you were doing. Dont lie to yourself Tara. Its not healthy. After all, I am you. No, youre not. Tara stares at Lira as she sits in the far corner of the room, where the light from the bulb couldnt reach. We all know what happened Tara, just admit it. Tara tries to shut her out by grabbing the sides of her head, but she cant because of the jacket. She shuts her eyes tightly so as not to see, trying to ignore Lira as best as she can. Tears run down her cheeks as she tries to hold them back. When her Mom and Dad brought Tyler home from the hospital, how shocked they all were. There were dark circles under her mothers eyes. Her poor father, there were tears dripping slowly down the sides of his face. Tyler was being dragged inside by her mother, his face covered in dirt and his hand bandaged. Her birthday party: no one was there; no one came. Lies! No, Tara. Lira said. There was everything from yellow, red, and green balloons to chocolate and vanilla cake, but Tyler was the one having the most fun. Tara was too distracted by the strange girl standing outside her window smiling. No one had come to the party except Tylers friends. Tara didnt really talk much, and all the other kids didnt bother her whenever she stared off into space. At Christmas the tree was a bright pine green from top to bottom, with angel and Santa ornaments. The gold star gleamed at the very top, and presents littered the bottom. Her parents sat not too far from her on
77 the couch in the living room of their house. They were smiling at her and Tyler. Tara didnt pay attention to this, since she was busy staring at the far end of the room where a young girl stood, hiding in the shadows staring out at a wall. Out of the corner of her eye she glanced quickly at Tara and her parents behind her Tara glared down at the alcohol bottle in her left hand, and the torn kitchen rags in the other. She watched as bright red and They climbed the parlor and burst encompassing the door, sliding swiftly under the door, smoke exploding into the other side of the room where her parents and cousin were trapped. The iron rod, in-between the door was anger, but why? She set the bottle down, sat in a corner of the small hallway and cried for a moment. Staring at the burning doors she suddenly stood and ran for the phone to call for help. Her lips curled into a smile, as her hand dropped the cordless phone, before she could dial those three life saving numbers Tara saw herself covered in black ash and surrounded in smoke, sidewalk, not too far from her burning house, the concrete cold under her bare hands. In one of them she held a bottle of wine her mother used to drink during parties. A sly smile crept onto her full lips and into her eyes gleam a mischievous light. Sirens could be heard in the distance as she began to lay down on the sidewalk, crocodile tears leaking from those devious eyes. until you see the truth Sweetheart, what are talking about? We just celebrated your birthday two months ago, remember? How do you think you got that dress? It was a gift from me and your father. The memory played again of her mothers voice Tara moans, pushing herself till she was off the wall she had shining brightly and casting shadows on the walls. Its light never seemed to touch the corners of the room. Tara struggles to pull her arms from around herself, grumbling as she persisted, but to no avail. She wouldnt get out of that thing no matter how hard she tried. see the truth Tara breathes in slowly, unsteadily, as her mind traces everything back. Seeing visions of her mother and father smiling, of miserable Tyler mocking her at every turn. But was it real?
78 I know what happened, what I did. But why cant I just forget? Tara cries out and tugs at the material holding her to herself. Groaning, she succumbs to the inevitable. Tears drain out of her eyes again, but this time she actually feels them. She feels them drip down the side of tastes the salt on her lips and hears her heart hammer at the feel of it. She gazes at the light above, unblinking, as it casts no shadows. her, soothe her, keep her sheltered. The room is ghastly bright, white everywhere; and it radiates an unforgiving glare into her eyes. She lies there sobbing, repeating it over and over again, in the terrible light. No more lies.
79 All that is and was Before Cala Glatz
80 A Mothers Love Eric Wojtanik the salmon hued walls of the family room. OSCAR kneels on the crawls to the coffee table, snacking off a plate of celery.) OSCAR How long has mommy been gone? (VIRGINIA caps her nail polish, blowing across her freshly painted cuticles. She glances at the wall clock.) VIRGINIA Only about two hours; I wouldnt expect her back for awhile bud, dates can take a long time especially if you like the person youre with. (Keys RATTLE offstage, OSCAR perks up as ROSEMARY and HEATH enter stage right carrying grocery bags.) OSCAR Mommy! Youve been gone forever. ROSEMARY Im sorry sweetheart. It was an eternity, wasnt it? (beat) Dont be rude; introduce yourself to mommys friend. with the wheels of his truck.) OSCAR Hello, Im Oscar Timothy Donnerson, and Im almost six years old. I have a pet turtle, his name is Patrick but my friends call him Peggy. HEATH Its very nice to meet you Oscar. Have you been a good boy recently? (OSCAR nods) Good I suspected so. It has always been my belief that good behavior should be rewarded. (HEATH reaches into his paper bag and removes a colorfully wrapped chocolate bar. He offers it to OSCAR who SQUEALS excitedly.)
81 ROSEMARY Heath heavens no! (snatching the candy bar) When on earth did you buy this? I never saw you put it in the cart. I certainly would have remembered. VIRGINIA Big mistake, youre in for it now. HEATH I, I bought it at the counter when you left to heat up the car. Rosemary honestly I dontROSEMARY been avoided. Now my nerves are working up, the mere presence of the substance... Im feeling light headed. You didnt purchase any more did you? HEATHS groceries. She removes two more chocolate bars, SNORTING indignantly. HEATH Im confused. Is he allergic? her watching the bars liquefy.) ROSEMARY Allergic? No, should he have to be? Do you know what chocolate does to a person? HEATH Well in my experience it induces satisfaction ROSEMARY Chocolate can speed up your heart rate, stimulate high blood pressure and cause panic attacks. Those who say its not addictive are simply wasnt terribly overweight either. Not to mention the effects it has on a persons mind. (ROSEMARY digs into her purse. She removes her wallet and
82 fans through money. VIRGINIA stands and approaches her.) HEATH What possible effect could chocolate have on the mind? ROSEMARY Why its very similar to the effect it has on ones teeth, here you are Virginia inevitable decay. (VIRGINIA pockets the money and exits the house.) HEATH Dont you think youre over-racting? I love chocolate. Im not obese or mad and these certainly arent dentures. (OSCAR reaches for an ornate porcelain doll propped up on the ROSEMARY No, No, NO! How many times has mommy told you never to touch her what youve done? Hes all worked up; it wouldnt surprise me if this pun gent chocolate stench has unbalanced his serotonin levels. I probably wont even be able to put him to bed tonight. (to OSCAR) Now you go up to your room, and stay there until I say so. (OSCAR nods and exits upstage left. ROSEMARY grabs HEATHS scarf off the coat rack and hands it to him.) HEATH I had no idea this would make you so upset, it was never my intention to ROSEMARY Oscars father owned a chocolate store. He was a horrible man who abandoned his family and moved to Bavaria in pursuit of his maid. Goodbye Heath. I shall see you at work on Monday. (HEATH opens his mouth to retort, but thinks better of it. He turns and exits twirling his hat back on top of his head. ROSE MARY SIGHS, moving to the doll on the mantel. She gently lifts the doll, caressing its cheek. She turns the doll upside down, removing a concealed plug. She shakes several individually
83 wrapped nuggets of chocolate into her hand and replaces the doll. One-by-one ROSEMARY unwraps the chocolate pieces and pops them into her mouth a look of utter enjoyment melts onto her face.) ROSEMARY Boy does that hit the spot. (ROSEMARY waltzes about the room balancing the remaining pieces in her palm. OSCAR creeps back into the room, upon seeing his mother he drops his head in shame.) OSCAR Mommy? (ROSEMARY turns startled, she notices her sons diverted gaze and stuffs the remaining chocolates into her mouth. She crams ROSEMARY Yes, what is it hun? OSCAR Im hungry; may I please take my celery snack into my room? ROSEMARY Yes of course. (Grabbing the plate). If youd like I can smear them with some peanut butter. Would you like that? OSCAR No, Ive been a bad boy. ROSEMARY Darling you made a mistake, but it wasnt your fault. I fear I was a bit harsh; after all you were under the spell of that rotten substance. I know you didnt mean to misbehave. (OSCAR runs across the stage and hugs his mother. She rubs his back.) ROSEMARY There, there no need for tears. I know what will cheer you up. Ill make
84 you some sugar free pudding. Would you like tapioca or butterscotch? OSCAR Butterscotch! (beat) Mommy, what does chocolate taste like? ROSEMARY Good heavens it was so long since I last tried it, but to tell you the truth I can only remember one distinctive thing about it. OSCAR Whats that? ROSEMARY The second after I tried it I spit it right back out and cried till I was given a glass of warm milk to wash the taste away. OSCAR Yuck. (beat) I bet you it tastes like dirt. ROSEMARY anytime soon, do you? (OSCAR shakes his head. The pair stand, and ROSEMARY leads her son offstage. LIGHTS DOWN).
85 Nantucket Harbor, 2006 Kaley Lynch Shoulders braced against the wind. Across the water, The steely sun sank, A retreating kraken, below the smooth line Of silver-blue horizon. With words unspoken, the absence of phrase Shuddering through our chests, colder Than the chilly, salt-drenched air. A single seagull broke the silence. Snatching my wrist like a sail rope. Calloused hand on hand, we Adjusted our direction. By the time we left the harbor, The sky had darkened, Called to the climbing night.
86 Untitled Vala Kjarval
87 Daughters Amber Hickman God is another name for mom. -Anonymous with a child. I saw its body parts through a clear, nicotine stained hose attached to a shop vac with blades at one end. Petite legs and feet iridescent skin little violet veins. Fingers and toes that couldve curled their innocence around mine. A miniscule heart that couldve beat against my breast. brown eyed girl Four years after, in 1980, she was born again. Beautiful brown eyes, dark skin, thick black hair I couldnt stand to look at her. the way my husband looked at her when she started growing breasts at age eight or was it when he started calling me by her name as he took me from behind? It took me thirteen years to perform
88 my psychological feticide and then when he tried again to fuck her eleven years later. By then I had my Masters. God is another name for Mom, I guess I was just playing my part.
89 Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood Merriya Valleri nothing really strange or out of the ordinary. It happens to be my neighbor. He has lived in the same house for as long as we have been in the neighborhood, which has been my whole life. His name is Steve. This is all I really know that is concrete about the man. I dont know how old he is, his last name, or what he does for a living. All I know is his name, and that he assaults our neighborhood with constant acts of what I consider perversion, and that I may be in the wrong for distrusting everything he does. Everything that is responsible for my paranoia started the summer before I turned eleven. It was a hot summer and as a rule, whenever the weather got too hot for us to bear, we would play in whatever water we could get our feet into. Us typically being all the kids in the neighborhood. That summer, it was the creek behind our neighbors house. My family is good friends with another family that lives a few houses down from Steve. They have four children, all girls, whom my sister and I became close friends with. We would do our own things, usually chalking on our driveways and attempting to climb too-tall trees, before we realized we could do these things together. Unable to cross the roads by ourselves, we took to shouting our names and other childish interests to each other. Eventually our parents got the gist and set up play dates, which quickly escalated into full on get togethers for children and parents alike. My mother became like their second mother and my sister and I were always welcome to the grape juice in their fridge. So naturally we started our adventure out behind their house. They kept their bit of the creek clean, just like how they kept their large, open yard clean. The grass was cut evenly; there were no trees, so no residual leaves cluttered the lawn. The water behind their house was strings of the algae that clung to the cement underneath. We dabbled behind their house for a while before moving towards the drainage tunnel farther down the way. It was a creepy thing to us kids. A large hole underneath the road, set into a hill. It was a short one, with sunlight visible at both ends. But it narrowed out on the opposite side so that it was impossible to stand straight and exit. Weeds grew extensively all around it and when a car drove over the noise was deafening. Of course when insisted in being with us whenever we wanted to explore it. Im glad of
90 this, because if my mother hadnt been with us that day, Im not sure what would have happened. To get to the tunnel, we had to pass Steves back yard. It was unlike our backyard, and any other backyard I had ever seen. The grass was uncut, running rampant. An old car squatted near a raggedly sawed off tree trunk. It was lacking windows and a bumper. It was also mostly shaded by large trees and a two story shed with a glass roof. Our group consisted of myself, my mother, my sister, and two of the daughters, Beth and Deanna. My mother seemed to want to hurry us past his yard, and kept us on the side of the creek that was furthest from his rundown keepsakes. Before we made it half way past, he stepped out from his back door, dressed in nothing but a pair of shorts and a crow bar in one hand. The problem with Steve is that his face is not remarkable. I could not describe it. For some reason, we stopped moving. My mother edged around until she was in front of us as he called out a greeting and continued approaching us, crowbar still in hand. He was smiling. This much I remember from his face. He was smiling as he stopped, uncomfortably as close as he could get. The creek was the only thing separating us. One of his bare feet was resting just a few inches from the water, which was less clean. The algae over ran the top of the waters, and the grass clung over the sides. What would a normal adult do? Address the other adult perhaps. Or maybe even say hello to our entire group. her knees like mine had when I was her age. She was adorable, and ignorant. He called her by her name. Why Cecie, youve gotten so big. Hello there dear. We had never spoken to him at this point. I wondered how he continued to name each one of us children, but when it came to my mother, he halted. Im so sorry, but I have forgotten your name. She was standing between us at this point. She said something sharp, ridiculed him. She had more reason to be angry with him than any of us children at that point. It was her sitting on her porch, cradling me as a little child when one of his delinquent sons started shooting out windows in the surrounding houses. It was she who when, after putting me to bed when I was just a year old, ended up calling the cops because he was grinding metal in his garage at ten oclock at night. There were many things leading up to that moment that made her openly glare at the man in front of us. I dont remember anything about his face, just that he
91 told us, in quite sulky tones, that we were on his property and shouldnt dilly-dally. We didnt go to the tunnel. Deanna and I voiced our disapproval, but only for a moment. My mother quickly shut us up and when we realized he was still standing near the creek, crowbar dangling at his bare knee, his unmemorable face watching us retreat, we remained quiet willingly. We stayed silent until we were safe in their backyard, up on their bare cement patio. That bare space, void of any trees, felt safer than his sheltered backyard. We stood there in a little circle, my sister holding my mothers hand. My mother looked like she was internally seething. When she gets mad, the space between her eyebrows gets wrinkly, her lips purse, creating more lines around her face, and she breathes through her nose quite hard. At the time, I had no idea what was bothering her except for the fact that our neighbor had just been very disturbing. Even in my ten-yearold mind, I was shocked that a man we hardly ever talked with had approached us. Worst of all, he had stopped our adventure into the creepy, frog-infested tunnel. I was angry at him for that, but not the fact that he had forgotten my mothers names, or knew my sisters. If my mother hadnt been there, I dont think I would have thought of him any differently than I did about vegetables. They existed and that was normal, and I didnt have a problem with it. Yet her anger and the stories she would later tell me would change my opinion about him forever. He has never done anything since then. By anything, I mean he has never kidnapped one of us and kept us in his garbage-infested I ever imagine ever happens. Except that he still remembers all of our names, ten years later. I was grown. I had not seen him, but his presence weighed heavily on my mind. The things that he had continued to do were disturbing. Following after my sister and I on a bicycle when we were out for a walk. we were about to go for a walk late at night. He proceeded to walk down the street, shining the lights in house windows and through the gaps between the houses. We were safe inside our garage by the time his porch lights had come on, so great was our fear of him at that point. Ten years later, and we still have no proof that he is what we think he is: a pedophile, a drug dealer, an insane man who lives in a house by himself but always has different sorts of people coming and going. We have no proof, and yet my opinion of him hasnt changed for the better. I still think he is strange and if he moved our neighborhood would be all the better without him. I was gardening. It was the summer before I turned twenty. And like most summers, it was hot out. I had long ago given up wanting to
92 explore the tunnel under the road. I kept to the safety of my own lawn, maple tree. It was a long, dragging process. I had to make sure the roots stayed intact otherwise it wouldnt survive the replant. It had been moved his house, and somehow, I was unnerved. He had been out in his garage all day, puttering loudly. and help me work on my yard? I looked up, startled; I hadnt heard or seen anyone approach. It was Steve. His face, still bland, was smiling at me. He was holding a shovel. Why did he walk everywhere with heavy working implements in his hands? I tried to be polite. My lip curled at one end of my smile and my laugh sounded hollow. All I could think was that I also had a shovel. It was an irrational thought but at the time, I was inexplicably frightened for my safety. He kept talking. You do some good work. Your parents should be proud, having a young lady to work around the yard as hard as you wouldnt want to help me out? Id bring you some lemonade. Its a shame you havent been brought any. You need to stay hydrated. My mom is in the garage. My father is out back. I hadnt meant it to sound so defensive. His sentences blended into one another, casual and harmless, but to me they were hiding an undertow of danger. I hardly knew him, but I did know that he was always doing yard work. He was quite capable of it himself. With a shrug and a nod he walked back to his yard, calling over his shoulder, It was good talking to you Merriya. I felt violated. My personal space had been invaded by his presence. I knew nothing about him. I hardly remembered his name. My mother calls him Cletus whenever she would have anything to say about him, which is hardly ever, unless he does something that creeped her out. Our neighborhood nickname for him is The Junk Man. His real name is hardly used. He is not a part of our daily lives, except that he is. Every time I leave my house, I look to see if hes outside. I never walk my dog right in front of his house; we always move to the other side of the street. It would be easy to nab anyone walking past. My concern is that I have somehow wronged this man. That our whole neighborhood has the wrong impression of him, that we are all wrong. If we had not been accosted by him ten years prior, our brief exchange would have been completely normal. If we had been on speaking terms all those years, it wouldnt have been strange that he
93 remembered my name. He might just be a kindly man with a terrible memory and incredibly strange timing. He could be a loving parent, a hard worker and a dedicated member of society; all of his personal life is secluded from my knowledge. He came back later in the day. I was exhausted and resting in the shade of one of our larger maple trees. Beth had joined me an hour tea with her. We were talking, our empty glasses in hand when he came over, standing just beyond our yard, in the gutter of the street. That gutter was exactly how the creek had been. A barrier between us for some reason he did not cross. Now this is what I like to see, he said, another smile on his unobtrusive face. Two young ladies relaxing after a hard days work. I see you already have something to drink. Thats good. I didnt say anything. Beth, who never really had a problem with him since her mother never fed her stories about how odd he could be, did. She said something about how hard work is good for the body. He agreed a little too enthusiastically. How you doing Beth? I havent seen you in a while. Her laugh echoed the one I had given him earlier. Hollow, and fake. After he left, her smile disappeared. Is it just me, she said slowly. Or is he even creepier now? It wasnt just me. That was for certain. I told my mom everything that happened. Her reaction was exactly the same. Her lips puckered, her brow furrowed, and she breathed out hard through her nose. I found out then that she wasnt like me. She had no doubt in her mind that he was a messed up individual. The things she proceeded to say about him went far beyond insults. She condemned the man. I remain unsure. His ever-smiling features would never stick out in a crowd, but maybe that was the sad thing. He would be remembered by us for the rest of forever as the creepy neighbor. He probably thought we were the creeps. We kept treating him rudely after he had the cranial capacity to remember our names for ten years. He had probably needed all those years to work up the courage to say something. Or maybe he was secretly enjoying the fact that we harbored fear of him. Maybe he knew, and he tormented us on purpose. I have no way of knowing. I think about it more often than I should. Are we doing this man a wrong? He could just have poor judgment. He certainly makes bad calls. He once tried to cut down the large tree in his yard after it had died. By himself, with a chainsaw. He realized this wasnt smart, and decided he was going to cut the branches overhanging the road off. He blocked the road with gasoline cans and a cat carrier. Cars going by stopped, argued with him, got him to move the things out of their way, and continued, usually with shouts lingering behind their vehicle. As a
94 result of his lack of authority, he hardly got any branches cut. He was constantly moving the things in the road for cars to get by. If I didnt know him, or think that he would some night creep into our house and murder us in our sleep, I would have felt bad for him. But I didnt. I put him in the wrong. Blocking a road with gas cans. Something that idiotic couldnt possibly be normal. It wasnt even legal, we found out later. Yet it is just the sort of thing someone with a lack of common sense might do. He could have been concerned that his yard work might crisis. At the same time, with all the clutter in his house and garage, he Then again, he once tried to mow his lawn with three push tractors that he had roped together, no doubt in an effort to make it a faster process. We watched him in the attempt. He lashed what looked to be bungee cords around the handles and near the hood of each tractor. Then he started each one individually, stood at the middle one, and pushed. The one he was holding surged forward; the other two held back on the elasticity of the cords and eventually began to tilt and halt his progress. What seemed like a great idea to him was outright entertainment for us, sitting in our garage and watching him, ridiculing him and his inferior ideas. It hit me that he might just be dancing to the beat of his own drum when I attempted to use a broom tied to a hockey stick to sweep snow off our roof and gutters. It seemed like a great idea at the time, but when the broom lurched back and fell off the roof to hit me in the face and all the snow came down on top of me, I cursed myself for my lack of common sense. But my mother just laughed and said I might think it through a little more next time. My paranoia keeps me in a strict state of mind. He is deranged, there is nothing normal about his thought process, and I wish he didnt live near me or my family. Then sometimes I stop to think about what he might be like aside from the persona we have created for him. If we had stopped to get his side of the story any time he acted out of the ordinary, maybe he would have turned out to be just the neighborhood clown, a man to laugh at whenever he does something silly. Not the reason I keep my windows shut and locked even on the hottest of summer nights.
95 Aaron Z. Lee
96 Virginia, Im Crying Rebecca Wemesfelder Virginia, Im crying. Youre haunting me, cut throat. I wait in this motel for my call. And your monsters haunt my sill. The sun is daunted by you. It stands back. It only comes up in the sky because Virginia has a hold on it Virginia. Hold me. Im weak and I am tired. I fall to your sunrises I fall like your ocean I watch the black bats scratch at your sky. rises to remind us of time. The monsters hold the curtains open. We wont sleep. We wont. Im haunted. And its comfortable. We are the used-to-this people.
97 Five to Nine Katie Scutt The sun is sinking low when you punch out and head home. The last rays of the day caress the back of your neck as you pass fast food restaurants and convenience stores. At the top of the arching bridge that spans the canal, the city stretches out ahead, looming gray against a purple sky. Before reaching the bottom of the bridge, you hop the guardrail. Theres a trail beaten into the grass. You follow it to the crumbling tarmac path that runs parallel to the canal, and ends where the canal spills into the river. Its a short walk that ambles beneath two overpasses; one leaving the city, and one leading back. You walk slowly, listen to the water and think about nothing. Its full dark when you reach the river and sit on the grassy bank. You take a bottle of beer from the six-pack in your knapsack, then roll a cigarette. Its a warm imagine yourself sliding down the bank. Imagine your feet slipping into the warm water, the current tugging gently at your legs, waist, torso, until the river has you. With a smile on your face and bottle in hand you drift beneath the stars, the lights of the city fading behind you, fading into the night.
98 Untitled Brittany McCann
99 A Cheap Cover Zach Jennings Of course youre going to scrape the windshield for them. Youre a gentleman. They get in the car and she starts it, begging it to heat up quickly. The engine struggles for a bit, then triumphs over the bitter cold. You jab and scrape and brush to reveal the frigid glass. Its that kind of snow that is soft but heavy, the top layer crusty and frozen. Youre not wearing gloves or a coat or a hat. You curse yourself for being such an idiot. But who wears all those things to a house party? Where would you put them? You go above and beyond scraping her car, brushing all the snow off the hood and the headlights and the roof and every single window. You even brush the back bumper so people will know when shes breaking. She has three friends in her car too, one in the front seat already. You wanted to sit there, but thats okay. Its not a long car ride. comparison of scraping the car to carving the statue of David makes them all laugh. She blasts some new pop R&B song on her iPod through the car speakers and everyone sings along except you. Youre a 26-year-old junior at a state school in a car with four girls who are there when theyre supposed to be. Of course you dont know the song. You hate this kind of music. But you tap the beat on your thighs and now that youve heard the chorus once, you get the gist of it and hum the melody the next time around. All that tapping warms your hands. She told you earlier the guys who live in the house are really cool. Shes been their friend pretty much since the beginning of her freshman year. She said these parties rarely draw more than 15 or 20 people. Thats good. You hate feeling cramped. You dont understand why girls go out in tight dresses and heels in the wintertime. Still, you cant help but admire their dedication. Your support them as you all walk up the icy sidewalk and into the house. The guy at the door nods approval your way when he sees four girls with you. Either hes simply impressed by you or he likes the ratio. The house is a sauna compared to outside. Sweaty people dance in the living room, breathing hot inebriated breath all over each other. Three of the girls in She stays with you. She must sense your discomfort. She takes your hand and guides you through the madness back into the dining room guy with the Solo cups and he gives you one. Thanks man, you say. No problem bro, he says. You can barely hear him above the
100 din of the music. It might be the song you heard in the car. You dont know. They all sound the same. The guy with cups is wearing a powder blue Polo and jeans with so many holes you discover he doesnt have hair on his legs. He wears a ball cap tilted sideways. His mouth has this kind of permanent smirk because he knows hes awesome. It only takes you a few seconds to analyze it because youve seen that look everywhere, except in the mirror. You dont get a beer for your girl because she brought her own concoction of booze and juice in a green water bottle. She let you try a sip back in her dorm room and it tasted like Bath & Body Works smells. She looks adorable there, leaning against the wall, her eyes following all the people and the pong ball each time its thrown. The bright light on the ceiling makes her eyes sort of glow. Theyre bright brown. Who knew that was possible? Do you want to play? you ask her. You hope to stay by her side the whole time because shes beautiful and you like her, but you also dont know anyone else here. Sure, she says. Ill sign us up. It only takes her a minute and she smiles as she walks back toward you. She grabs your hand with both of hers and rests her chin on your shoulder. Youre so cute, she says. You smile just as big on the outside as you do on the inside. people are watching and youre suddenly part of the center of attention. The light is brighter than it was before, directly over the table. You suck in your gut enough so you can still breathe normally. You know its ridiculous. Youve seen pictures of yourself and youre not fat. Regardless, your shirt feels tighter now. You dont have a hat on, which the light. For a moment, your single dorm room is the only place you want to be. Then she rubs her nails lightly between your shoulder blades and you stop thinking. She cant make a cup to save her life but you cant miss. After Maybe its the beer. Finally though, you lose and your impressive run is over. Her friends call her into the living room to dance. Shes nice enough to ask if you want to join, but you decide to stay put. It doesnt take long to realize it wasnt the beer making you feel so good. You crack your knuckles, then move your wallet from your front pocket to your back pocket, then fold your arms, then scratch an itch that isnt really there. You really want her to hold your hand again. You wander as subtly as you can into the hallway that leads to the stairs and lean against the wall between you and the living room. The girls are singing along to some song. No one has texted you tonight, but you scroll through your inbox anyway. You check your Twitter. Why
101 would you do that right now? What would you tweet? During the next few songs you move around the house, stopping to lean on various walls. If anyone asks, youre checking your phone because people you know are on the way. Why would anyone ask? It takes almost as long cup guy where the bathroom is. Hes bobbing his head to the music, but one bob looks exaggerated, so you decipher that the bathroom is upstairs. Cruelly aged carpeting covers the middle third of the wooden stairs. The patterns look as though they were classy once. You try but fail to imagine a wholesome family of four living in this house. A bedroom door is open upstairs and you peek in. All the coats are on the bed, which makes sense. Yours is in the car. Theres a poster on the wall that gives you thirty reasons why beer is better than a woman. Then you imagine how many people have had sex in that room. Suddenly, youre glad your coat is in the car. If you were a girl you would apply makeup touch-ups right now. speckled mirror and check your gut-to-ass ratio. You bought this shirt, plaid with these little buttons on the shoulders, a little bit small so youd you both roll your eyes at how ridiculous you are. Of all places to feel self-conscious, the bathroom of a college house is low on the list. A knock on the door startles you. Hang on a sec, you call out. Its me, she says. You unlock the door and shes there, leaning against the doorway with one foot behind the other. Adorable. You still need to pee. She crosses the threshold and locks the door behind her. Your your hips and pushes you against the sink. Her lips are so soft. She tastes and smells like the mixed drink she let you try earlier. You run beneath your feet. She pulls away a bit and you nibble on her lower lip and she giggles. You cant get enough of her eyes. The light bulbs a tacky way of putting it but whatever. Shes undoing your belt and you tense up and she notices. Maybe she thinks youre inexperienced and maybe she likes that. Or maybe shes like what the hell, whats wrong with this guy? Or maybe she just doesnt know that you didnt pee before you let her into the bathroom. I really have to pee, you say. She sort of cackles then kisses you again, just a little peck with her bottom lip below your bottom lip so
102 it leaves this little wet spot above your chin. You lick your lips and she smiles. Ill be downstairs, she says. You turn and look into the mirror and see Paul Walker with your face superimposed staring back at you. Whos rolling their eyes now? You decide to share the surf n turf special for Valentines Day at Patz On The River. They have these cute little couples specials printed on pink and red menus. She orders an iced tea because shes still a few months away from being able to drink in public. You order a Sam Adams and the waiter doesnt card you. The You swore off frat parties seven years ago. Youre on Facebook in class, messaging her. Shes sitting next to you and the professor doesnt notice that youve been typing this conversation. You used to have to write actual notes to accomplish this in high school. Shes probably never gone without a cell phone or the Internet. So whatd you do this weekend? you type. It takes a while because its one of those Dell keyboards thats super loud unless you treat the keys like youre playing Operation. The girls and I went to a frat party, she responds. Why? No response. Theres this awkward feeling thats never been there before when you walk with her out of the classroom. You say bye and she says bye when you part ways and you realize that was a stupid thing to ask. Why? What kind of question is that? She jokes around and calls you old man all the time but now youre really acting like it. You might as well have called her a whippersnapper and told her to be home by nine the next time she goes out. On your way to your dorm you stop for coffee in the campus center. The line is kind of long and youre sweating a little calorie ones. Hours later, youre up to your face in schoolwork when your one says, Message 1/2. Its going be a long one. After reading the everything; youre a really sweet guy; she had so much fun. But she says youre on different pages. You feel this sort of predicted disappointment, like when you get a bad grade back on a test you didnt prepare for. You zip up a hoodie
103 and put shoes on. Its dark out and a walk sounds nice. A full-length mirror is on the hallway wall next to the door to outside and you force your eyes to stay away. You dont want to see it.
104 Lost and Found Amy Lowik
105 Held/Bystand Heaney Chantal Le Blanc By the hedge of the marsh, daylight stills to a close. Arms of water reach into the In precise, secret convulsions the sharp pluck of small waterstriders break ripples across the surface of stillness, forked between yellow moss and dangling twist-vine. Wishing to subtly invade that barrier, you toss a pebble to those longing arms, skipping across their skin, causing several fantails of swirling emerald eddies before sinking into the marsh. You could stay in the meadow sitting in the grasses, or press your toes and slip into the abyss, but you stay here, your face to the sun and your eyes to the murky brown and musk-scent of healthy decay in the deep places.
106 East Coast Sea Shells Annie Hidley We are afraid it will never return. We insist on permanency, on duration, on continuity; when the only continuity possible, in life as in love, is in barely touching as they pass, but partners in the same pattern.The sea does not reward those who are too anxious, too greedy, or too impatient. To dig for treasures shows not only impatience and greed, but lack of faith. The sea teachespatience and faith. One should lie empty, open, choiceless as a beachwaiting for a gift from the sea. ~Anne Morrow Lindbergh I stepped back to make sure the painting was centered. Mom gave the bottom corner a nudge so that it hung level on the ivory wall. I still had the extra nails in my hand as I gazed at the oil colors. It was a portrait of grandpa, thirty years ago and in perfect health. He sat at the helm of Moms Hunter, sloop-rigged sailboat, his red polo was matched the water behind him. He looked completely composed. He looked like he was the Captain of the whole world standing there. You could tell there was absolutely nothing he was worrying about in that moment when his gaze joined together the seam of the rolling water and the dusky summer sky. Mom and I had hung this painting as a replacement for the previous work of arta portrait of Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire, who was Princess Dianas great great great great great aunt. This piece of artwork had hung in George Eastmans house, and as a thank you to Grandpas aunt who worked for him at the time, Eastman had presented the painting to her as a gift. A few weeks after Mom and I dangled the Georgiana painting in Grandpas living room, Dad came back home from Grandpas grumpy and shaky. That picture has to goevery day your father sees the picture and it reminds him of George Eastman and how he killed himself, and Grandpa tells me how he was the one who found the gun, and how he saw him shoot himself, and how he got rid of the gun in the river, yada yada yada.. and if I hear it one more time I will shoot myself! So we went over to ask Grandma if we could move the picture and before we got the words out, she said, That picture has to go!! I looked back and forth between the painting of the young Grandpa, and the Grandpa who had just turned 94 over the summer,
107 slouched in his chair with crumbs on his blue sweater. It was Friday, so mom had helped him with his weekly shower that morning. His garden of lush white hair was smoothed down. He squinted up at the painting, turned to my mom, and asked, Who is that old man? I wished I had known Grandpa then. I wished I had known him when he could button his own pants, remember his daughters name, and steer a boat. Mom did though, and she knelt next to Grandpa. Thats you dad! Do you remember our boat? I loved my mom for never letting the crumbling of her father make her sad. She always laughed at his repeated stories, never lost her patience with him, and spent hours texture of the paint. We were sailing out the Genesee River, she told me. I always loved being on Lake Ontario because all you had to do was sail up and out of the St. Lawrence River and you would be in the Atlantic Ocean and from there.the world was accessible. Mom was in awe of the enormous blue ocean. She had never Ontario, or by the Erie Canal. She saw ships bigger than she had ever seen before, here. She was wowed by the nautical themed shops in Gloucester. Shepressed her little hands to the windows and stared inside. They were nothing like anything she had been in, in New York. with beards. She found this sailor in one of the shops made completely out of lobster claws. She begged Grandpa for The Lobster Man, but he wouldnt buy it for her. Instead, they walked down the pier and took visited Moms Aunt Connie who wore white cat eye sunglasses, high heels and talked about how much she hated hippies. Grandpa smoked his pipe as they listened to the waves. Mom and I pulled the zippers tighter on our jackets as we stared at The Fishermans Memorial, or Man at the Wheel. She wanted to take me everywhere her dad had taken her. The statue stood tall and green and looked out over the Gloucester Harbor. The memorial 1923, and read, They That Go Down to the Sea in Ships. My Grandpas face in his painting was looking at the sea the same way the and the possibilities stretching in front of them, and they were nowhere except exactly in the present. I had loved New England for that reason too. When mom took me there, I fell in love with Salem, and Rockport. We saw the House of
108 Seven Gables and I totally understood why Nathaniel Hawthorne wrote eerie, creepy stories. I thought there was something about the rolling black Atlantic waves that whispered to everyone who lived on their edges, something that sent chills while at the same time a sense of home to ignited bones. I thought if I lived in Massachusetts and wrote, my mysteries, make the settings old, creaking houses, and the characters sailors wives. I thought if I spent the rest of my life on the East Coast I effortlessly over the waves. Id get to look out the window and see tall buildings, masts, and trees upright against the jagged, wise blue sky. I thought that I could change my attitude here. I thought that stormy days would be just another adventure. I was constantly looking for my place. Mom had this theory that everyone had a place. Everyone had some geographic location that it, theyll know. Theyll feel peaceful, and theyll feel at home. However, both my mom and I thought that everywhere we went was our place. We both loved the freedom that being in a new place gave us. We loved listening to the ocean from all different shores. Maps hee-ah, maps hee-ah, a man in a Red Sox cap shouted to us. My best friend Holly and I had just arrived at the South Station in Boston. Do we look that out of place that you knew we needed a map? I asked, wiping the sweat from my neck as we dragged our bags food so we wouldnt have to buy all of her meals, but since most of it was canned, it added on an extra few pounds. The man in the red Sox cap picked up a map and opened it up to a page that showed Boston, Cambridge, and Charlestown. He circled places we might want to go, told us where Hahvahd was and how to under the weight of a months worth of clothes jammed into multiple bags for only a few days. I wondered if I would look different if I had a Boston accent, if my mouth would tilt in a different way. I wondered if I would have a different sense of humor. I wondered if I would wear baseball caps in train stations, or if I would still pack peanut butter and jelly for a train ride. Holly and I decided right then and there that the people in Boston were friendly. Even though we looked like ridiculous out of town trash balls, no one glared at us or hassled us. No one shoved us or rushed on the T before we could maneuver our bags up the steps. Everyone
109 urgency and self centered hurriedness that New York City possessed. There was no superior attitude or snootiness that Paris secreted. There seemed more of a work ethic than Savannah had acquired, and more structure and organization than San Diego cared to develop. Boston held history. Boston was the beginning, the foundation of a nation. Boston had been through more than other cities had been through. Boston was pleasant, a small town with a simple subway system. People rode bikes, and people had families. People tipped their hats and didnt seem self-conscious. I wanted to live there immediately, and badly. I thought that this is just the place for me right now. I thought the cobblestones were so interesting, thought of all the feet that had walked across them, thought of the couples who had kissed, the soldiers who had died, the blood that had been spilled on. I liked being able to feel the wind from the water, and know the ocean was close. I liked that this water was the same that lapped the beach in Carolinathe same water I had swam in a few months earlier on a beach I had loved. This was the same water that washed into France, and into Benin, two countries I had also left footprints in. I wondered if any of the shells I had were from any of those other places. As we walked by the tall old brick buildings with peeked roofs and window baskets, I felt comfortable, at peace, and at home. I had many reasons for wanting to visit Boston this year. The him my number, and to meet and consequently marry a charming, comical Harvard genius who was going to make bank. Instead, at the end of the week I got on a train headed west with $300 less than I had come with, unshaved legs, and the disappointing realization that guys who go to Harvard are pretty nerdy. My goal was to look at Boston not through the eye of a tourist, but through the eye of someone who lived there, or at least someone who might live there soon. It was time for me next chunk of my life, and Boston was high on the list. I was looking forward to catching my own vibrations from this meet people, see what they wore, if they laughed easy. I was excited to transportation, and monthly rates to rent apartments. I was excited to anyone had backyards. I had been to tons of different cities and they usually caused me anxiety. The big crowds, the bustle, the neon signs, the lack of green and the landlocked cement barrier of buildings that kept me from water. But Boston was different. Anywhere you were you could quickly get to water.
110 We met up with Paul, one of our friends from high school, outside of his B.U. dorm building. He wasnt wearing the faded Charlie Brown T-shirts that he used to wear in high school, but now had on a nice sweater and a classy leather jacket. We dragged our bags up to Boston, blue and lavender dusk cascading over the city as all the car lights moved in lines along the winding highway that crossed back and forth over the Charles River. Paul gave us a tour of his school, B.U. where he taught, where he learned, where he carried out research with showed us Fenway Park and I pictured standing in the middle of the dark empty mound, pictured the lights blinding from above, pictured myself as someone who was interested in baseball. I felt a rising motivation to for a boyfriend who played baseball, who wore those tight white pants that inevitably made his ass look awesome, who chewed gum and had dimples and blue eyes. I continued constructing my pitcher dream boy in my head as we walked along the river, the lights from MITs boathouse a colorful sign against the black sky. We saw stars through tree branches, buds of leaves maybe just beginning to spring through. The warm day had quickly turned to a chilly night, and we climbed trees in the little park and looked for boats that might be slowly meandering with the tides. Paul introduced us to B.U. Beach, a little strip of grass in the middle of a street behind the university buildings. Ill show you why we call it that, he told us as we sat down on the cold wooden bench on either side of him. If you sit here, with your back to the road, and close your eyes the cars sound like waves, and you feel like youre on a beach. The of the bench for a solid two minutes. We kept our eyes closed, listening to the conch like wind noise behind us, inhaling deep the fresh, cool March air, letting all of our worries roll away into The Charles. Holly looked at the map and told me The Constitution was on the Freedom Trail, and that all we had to do was follow the red bricks until we found it. As we walked through Charlestown, letting the vibrant sun bring out our freckles, I fell more and more in love. I pictured walking up the steps into one of these old buildings and having it be home. I pictured throwing my coat on my couch in there, and I pictured the view. I wanted to have my kids here so they would have Boston accents. I wondered how different they would grow up if they lived here and said Hahvahd and played baseball, or if they lived back in New York and watched football on TV.
111 Charlestown and thought for sure I would bump into him as he exited one of these cute but elegant houses. My hopes were high as we walked towards our destination. We were in a great mood. We werent shivering or sweating, we were optimistic, we were excited about squeezing the most learning we possibly could. We arrived at the place where the map said the Constitution, and saw not the handwritten and controversial document that we had expected, but instead, a huge and shiny tall ship resting in the harbor. Realizing the error we had made, my dread was quickly replaced by excitement. We ran through the airport-like security counter and across the plank bridge. The ship was immaculate. There were multiple cross bars suspended at the top of the masts, decks of polished wood, and white ropes curled in circles on the decks. We were given a free guided tour and I found a new demographic to seek out a husband from sailors. We took a look at the lower decks, where canons lined the sides and hammocks hung from the beams. We stood at the helm of the boat and looked out at the fantastic pretty blue ocean. The shipyard was behind us and boats moved back and forth in the calm water. I wanted to climb up the ropes and peer through binoculars at all the land sweeping up on both sides of the bay. to sail back and feel like I knew all parts of the sea, and to call this shore home. This is Leah and Haleys new house, Mom told me as she showed me the photographs that my cousin had sent Grandma in the mail. All three of my moms brothers, their wives, their children, and their grandchildren had moved to South Carolina over the past several years. Mom and I were dusting the furniture in Grandma and Grandpas living room, making sure everything looked as clean and shiny as the portrait we had just hung. Myrtle Beach looked beautiful; our whole family looked so tan and so happy. I wondered how my life would be different if I had grown up in a place continually under in the sun. I wondered if I would have a happier disposition if I had gotten to play at the beach for six months out of the year. Do you remember when we brought you here? Mom asked I was four at the time. Mom told me Id had a crush on Matt, the ten year old son of one of her friends. She told me we went shopping at Barefoot Landing, which was built in the swamps with boardwalks over the swampy areas. Remember you were looking for alligators? She asked, while I stared at her. Remember we did see an alligator and it was really cool until we saw him EAT a plastic soda bottle!! So Daddy
112 is a big problem with litter and wildlife. She thought he would be OK but that there wasnt much she could do about it. She told me that we walked through neighborhoods and no ticed that all the driveways were white, not black like they were in New York. When mom looked closer, she realized that they were all made of crushed sea shells. She came to a picture of a swimming pool at her independent strokes in a swimming pool in Myrtle Beach! We watched the sunlight trickle pink above the clouds, watched the sky start to burst into color, watched the foamy tide wash away words on the glistening edge of Hunting Beach State Park on Parris Island in South Carolina, doing yoga by the waves. We were bending our bodies with the natural contours of light that were folding in around us. We were instantly awakened by the suns light cascading upwards through the clouds, mirroring perfectly its own image in the marshy water below. There was such a contrast of bright, dark blue and crisp gold and we loved following the sun to the edge of the island. There was no sign of civilization as we plunged deeper into the palm tree forest, and the dirt path curled through the underbrush. The big ocean was lapping. The strip of approaching sunlight was spooning with the horizon, and tall, dark silhouettes of palm trees reaching their branches toward the everlasting light. We whooped and jogged in the sand, dizzy with excitement about where we were. Holly our arms and giggling as we saw driftwood standing in the waves artistically, and, as far as we could see in either direction, absolutely nothing except ocean, sky, sand, and jungle. And then, slicing through Multiple dolphins, jumping dolphins. Dolphins have sex just for fun. I had never seen a wild dolphin. Everything was exciting, and I could not get enough. I felt like I was trying to gulp in the view, but I couldnt swallow fast enough. I felt like every single possibility in the world was stretched out in front of me. At that very moment, under a blazing sun with chilly sea wind whirling around us, our feet sinking into the sand, huge and exotic looking palm fronds lining the beach, no city lights, no noise from the entire world was right there. Everything I had ever needed or would ever need was encompassed in that moment of complete grace. Peacefulness, and thankfulness. I loved every atom of every person, of every body and of every
113 plant. I could barely pull myself away from being part of the biggest miracle of all. I spotted something beneath a beached piece of driftwood. It was a live sand dollar! I had never seen one before alive. Its mossy outside feelers were a brown color, nothing like the white shells of sand dollars that you can buy in stores. This was a real creature, and its life would be saved. In retrospect, it may have already been dead, but iridescent sunrise. I stood in the surf and stretched, picked up some shells. I found the best ones. I loved how smooth shells were, how they symbolized protection, and home, while at the same time freedom, and not being afraid to leave things behind. I thought that shells were beautiful and I The door of Grandma and Grandpas house swung open and Dad walked in, unclipping his bicycle helmet. Much better, he said with a sigh of relief, looking at the new painting hanging above Grandpa in his old chair. I guess he doesnt remember much about sailing our boat because he hasnt brought up any unbelievable stories. Mom placed the photographs back on the table and turned towards me. Grandpa used to be quite the boater! He had a canoe on the Genesee River as a boy and it was his pride and joy. All wood and varnish and shiny! He would put an old Victrola on it in the summers and play his records and sleep on the canal under the arch bridges. I always wondered if he took girls out on it! I pictured my grandpa similar to a young Walt Whitman, or an older Huck Finn. I was so disappointed that I had never gotten to meet this man. It was heartbreaking that no one had ever asked him all of his stories while he could still remember the true ones. I picked up the hammer we had used to pound the hook into the wall, and the extra nails. I walked out into the garage to put them away, over to Grandpas toolbox, an old dark wooden one with bronze hinges and his name engraved on a panel in front. I said his name out loud, Frederick Warner. I wondered what he had thought of himself. I wondered where his favorite place had been. I wondered if he had ever wished hed had an accent. I pressed the clasp with the hand not holding the hammer. It stuck for a moment, and I had to jostle the box. I lifted the heavy lid, and there, scattered among the old metal tools, were sea shells.
114 Untitled Vala Kjarval
115 Karaoke Night Amber Hickman at the Prickerbush. I sit at the bar, red plastic baskets lined with wax paper and unshelled peanuts strategically placed to make us thirsty. drunken assholes get on stage, slurring songs through wet microphones. They arent rock stars. What are you drinking? Jaeger I say. I see him smirk. That is no ladies drink. I know his intentions. He jets for another. I take a Cherrybomb this time. The ringleader has called my name. Its my turn to be the rock star. Girls, Girls, Girls. I am a motorcycle. I am Vince Neil. I am Mtley Cre. I am the center of the world. I am the asshole. They dont applaud for me. They applaud for whats under my tight white t-shirt, my tight blue jeans, my cowboy hat and boots, my pretty face, my pretty mouth. I sway my hips to the bar and sit on the only stool with a broken foot. I fall to the left and am cushioned by a 400 pound man. I stack six quarters in front of me and order another draft. Hey Cowgirl, Ill buy you that draftfor a blow job. I push my quarters toward the bartender and I watch my right hand I wouldnt suck your I take my draft and walk out on the butt covered deck, roll myself a smoke, and listen hand so hot, so pretty, so lethal.
116 Motherhood Chelsea Mixon motherhood. pull over. my heart is spilling through my teeth exit 17 pull over. just havent eaten in a week, head between my knees sit tight. hours pass, and pallid walls waiting room is still sit tight. just about six weeks along now Needle and the Pill calm down. i think i hear im screaming cant see to see calm down. the cervix dilates, penetrates-black hole forms inside of me the vacuum has been sanitized along with baby mine for a thirty dollar co-pay, blood, and iodine
117 My Freak, My Monster Aaron Z. Lee
118 Here All Weekend (Excerpt from screenplay) Tim Jachim FADE IN: INT. UNKNOWN PLACE A misty dreamlike setting with the background faded and unclear. A young womans scream pierces the air. A man runs over to a young woman who is kneeling over something on the ground. He stares down blankly. INT. APARTMENT-DAY A large messy bedroom with the blinds pulled down, blocking all the sunlight. A large, unkempt bed sits against the wall, with JACK unshaven, and has the look of a man who was once very handsome. There is a cell phone vibrating on a night stand next to him. He stirs slightly, grumbles incoherently, but doesnt make any real movements. The phone continues to vibrate. JACKSON Alright, alright! Im up... He rolls over in his bed and grabs the phone. JACKSON (V.O.) My name is Jackson Morgan. JACKSON (Into the phone) Lo.
119 WOMAN (Over the phone) Jackson? Are you sleeping right now? JACKSON Oh boy, just the person I want to hear from. Jackson rolls over in his bed and rubs his eyes. WOMAN (Angrily) Youre still sleeping, arent you? What the hell is wrong with you? Its noon! Jackson sits up in his bed and checks the alarm clock on his nightstand. It reads 12:00 PM. JACKSON I am not sleeping. Im up... LISA Dont lie to me. Youre in bed right now. JACKSON You dont know what youre talking about... LISA Im coming over right now. There is a knock at the door. Frowning, Jackson looks at his phone, gets up, and heads for the door. Before he can answer it, it swings open. skirt, LISA ENDERS, 31, storms in. She looks extremely LISA
120 This place is a freakin mess! How can you live like this? I knew you just woke up. She continues to rant, but it is inaudible. JACKSON (V.O.) This is my agent, Lisa Enders. Shes a big pain in my ass, but she seems to know what shes doing, which is why I keep her around. LISA (Continued) ...and you look like a fucking hobo and cigarettes! You need to get your fucking life on track. She stops and they sit for a few moments without talking. The only sound from either of them is the sound of her heavy breathing. JACKSON You done? LISA No, Im not. JACKSON Howd your date go last night? LISA Terrible. She was a total bitch. JACKSON I think Im gonna make some lunch. You want some lunch? Lisa glares at him for a few moments, then walks right past him and opens the blinds, causing the sun to shine in brightly. JACKSON (V.O.)
121 She was never one for subtlety. JACKSON (Wincing and raising his arms to cover his face) Ah! Take is easy on me... LISA How can you make lunch? You cant cook for shit. JACKSON (Lowering his arms) Who says you need to be able to cook to make lunch? INT. KITCHEN-SAME Lisa sits at the table in the middle of the plain, Jackson is at the stove, cooking up some grilled cheese and watching a talk show on TV. LISA Did you take a look at those scripts I sent you? JACKSON Of course I did. JACKSON (V.O.) And when I say I looked at them, I an old trick a screenwriter friend of mine taught me. He said it was to get the best idea of the character youre playing. LISA And what did you think?
122 Jackson walks over and puts a plate with a messy looking grilled cheese in front of her. JACKSON I dont know if theyre my kind of role. LISA You didnt read them, did you? JACKSON I most certainly did and theyre not the kind of roles Im into. No real depth, no story. They look like they were just drawn up to make money. LISA You know, you might actually want to take up a role once in a impression youre actually an actor? Jackson watches the TV for a bit longer before return ing to the table with a grilled cheese for himself. JACKSON I am an actor. And you cant rush these things. LISA of The Cowboy forever. Jackson glances over at a movie poster for The Cowboy on the wall. It looks a little dated. JACKSON (V.O.) The Cowboy is my one claim to fame,
123 back about ten years ago. One of ever. I even got nominated for Best Actor. That never happens with action movies. JACKSON I dont plan to. Im like that one dude from the movie about oil and Irish gangs and what not... LISA Except that man has been in all masterpieces. Youve one good movie and the rest are mediocre at best. JACKSON (Looking back towards the TV) LISA Well, its true... Their attention turns to the TV. HOST (On TV) And please welcome our next guest, Derrick Johnston! DERRICK JOHNSTON, 28, strolls across the stage shakes hands with the host, and sits down. He is tall, hand some, well-dressed, and smiling. The crowd greets him with a massive standing ovation. JACKSON (V.O.) Derrick Johnston. My best friend. My biggest rival. The most popular action star today. Sitting there like everything and everyone is there just because of him.
124 DERRICK (On TV) ...my friend, you are looking dashing today. HOST (On TV) Youre looking pretty good yourself, Derrick. How is everything? JACKSON (V.O.) Maybe they are. DERRICK (On TV) Everything is great. The wife is great... HOST (On TV) Alright, well youre probably sick of hearing this by now, but everyone is almost obliged to ask you and we might as well get it out of the way now. Lisa glances over at Jackson, who is staring blankly at the TV. HOST (On TV) Jackson Morgan has been quite controversial lately. The public intoxication, going drinking for a week straight at the bars, the Derricks smile fades slightly. DERRICK (On TV) Jackson is my best friend. He is a good man.
125 HOST (On TV) But what about the rumors that he isnt even a real action star? He doesnt even do his own stunts? DERRICK (On TV) Jackson has taught me a lot, you know. Hes a good actor... HOST (On TV) But you, youre the real deal, right? I mean, youre a brown belt in jujitsu. DERRICK (On TV) I have some experience, yes... is standing next to the TV, glaring at him. LISA Seven straight days at the bars? JACKSON Since when do you listen to the media? They dont know what theyre talking about... LISA What are you doing tonight? JACKSON I dont know. Maybe read some Sylvia Plath, watch bad 80s chick Lisa sighs, shakes her head, and walks over to the door. She reaches for the handle, but stops just short of grabbing it.
126 LISA Take it easy tonight, Jackson. JACKSON I always do. Lisa opens the door and walks out of the room. LISA (From down the hall, O.S.) Try not to kill anyone tonight! Jackson smirks. JACKSON (V.O.) Oh, Lisa. Always looking out for me. INT. MISTYS BAR-NIGHT people. There are two people behind the bar, ASHLEY, 18, and SCOTT, 25, the owners. Jackson sits alone in a corner booth. JACKSON (V.O.) Ah, Mistys. By far the grimiest bar youre ever gonna enter. You know, bikers... drinking and checking out Ashley. JACKSON (V.O. CONTINUED) ...mobsters... angry Italians in suits and with guns. JACKSON (V.O. CONTINUED) ...and your garden variety depressed drunks just looking to drink themselves into oblivion.
127 He glances over at a man at the far end of the bar, his sleeves rolled up, tie loosened, and crying to himself in a mug. JACKSON (V.O. CONTINUED) This is the perfect place for me to WAITRESS Whatll be today, Jackson? Jackson looks up and see DAISY MILLER, 19, standing next to him, smiling. JACKSON A shot and a brew, sweetheart, and keep em comin. DAISY (Winking) You take it easy now hun. She sets down a shot and a beer and walks away. Jack son watches her as she walks away, but shakes his head and sighs. He slams down the shot and takes a ship of beer. He throws down another one. Another one. Another one. He keeps drinking and Daisy keeps bringing them out. Daisy walks away after handing him another. He watches her again as he throws down another. However, his eyes go from Daisy to the three guys talking to two girls at the bar. The girls dont look amused by the conversation.
128 GIRL AT BAR #1 (Cringing) Get away from me. GUY AT BAR #1 Come on, babe. Lets go have some fun. GIRL AT BAR #2 Get the fuck away creep. GUY AT BAR #2 Watch your mouth, bitch! She makes a ridiculous face, but they simply frown. JACKSON Hey! Everyone turns around and see Jackson, who throws down another shot. He doesnt look at them. The three guys dont say anything. They laugh and shake their heads. GUY AT BAR #1 You talkin to us, boy? JACKSON Yeah, I am. I dont think the ladies are appreciating you fellas company. I think it might be best if ya left them alone. The three men laugh aloud. The rest of the bar now has their attention on the situation. The two girls take a step back. GUY AT BAR #1 Why dont you mind your own fuckin business, asshole?
129 He stands up, a little wobbly. The three guys all laugh again. Guy at bar #1 pulls out a switchblade and everyone else backs away. He smiles and points it at Jackson. GUY AT BAR #1 Come on, asshole. You feelin strong tonight? ASHLEY Leave him alone, Tony! Quit being a jerk! Hes drunk! SCOTT (Whispering) Dont butt in, Ashley! Ashley looks annoyed, but backs down. Scott watches nervously, as does the rest of the bar. GUY AT BAR #1 you got... JACKSON (V.O.) Ive seen douche bags like this before. Guys who think theyre big and bad just cause theyve got knives and talk big. JACKSON (V.O. CONTINUED) I hate guys like that. Jackson steps forward. Guy at bar #1 makes a move, lashing out with the knife. JACKSON (V.O.) This guy is fast.
130 Jackson dodges his stab. JACKSON (V.O. CONTINUED) I wont say he doesnt have a chance. Jackson grabs his wrist and disarms him by slamming hisforearm into the mans wrist. JACKSON (V.O. CONTINUED) But... his shoulder through a table. Guy at bar #2 tries to hit Jackson with a bottle, but Jackson blocks it with his forearm, smashing the bottle. Jackson counters with a right hook that drops the man. JACKSON (V.O.) Sometimes, its just like the movies... Jackson stands over the man he dropped. JACKSON (V.O. CONTINUED) It comes naturally, like everything is scripted. Like no one can touch me or hurt me and Ill win every Guy at bar #3 smashes a bottle over Jacksons head and hecollapses to the ground. The screen goes black. JACKSON (V.O. CONTINUED) And sometimes I get smashed over the head with a bottle. Nothing like the movies. Not at all.
131 Skeleton Aaron Gehan
132 Shoreline Lillian Stensland As we read OHara in Literature, And I pretend to be interested In the discussion, All I can think about is You. Every word I read About the depth of Black and White, Or the consistency Of oranges, Reminds me of you. And as I form Poetry In my head, While Im supposed to be Elegy, All I can think about Is the death of us, And how much Your warmth Would rescue me From these Freezing Rains And lake effect Snows.
133 Smile Vala Kjarval
134 The Golden Hour Fred Maxon My grandfather sits, dressed in blue, on a tartan blanket in the side yard. My nephew roams, crawling towards the blooming Rose of Sharon. The sky is gold. I grab my camera to take a picture. Later, my grandfather recounts stories of eating cicoria-dandelion greens-and how his mother used to chatter with the thats just how we talk.
135 Summerset Kaley Lynch Your hair tangles into mine, and Gold on gold, we languish in the sunshine Sparkling off the lake, a thousand years treasure waiting Just under the surface. Your hands Intertwined and intravenous, injecting sweetness into me. When we lie like this, The park bench becomes heaven, The lake becomes the entire world. I want to wrap my arms around you, so like bands of stretchy sunlight They follow you always, bright beams Summer is quickly folding into itself, winds Beginning to sneak against our bare legs. I would hold Every leaf to its tree if it meant One more day of sunlight scented silence, One more night under corn-ringed skies.
136 The Visitors Cala Gatz
137 The Millers Prince Travis Knight Two armies met by the mossy old well at the southern edge of the Millers Field. The Terrible Tower loomed before them, its blades cutting harshly across the sky, an indubitable engine of Lord Darriks sorcery. Commander Little Vel were armed and prepared for whatever battle might come with swords father had made for them. Neither spoke of the wind that bit their ears and cut their cheeks. They were men, after all, and men didnt complain. Velson, the older, howled and led the charge across the plain of untouched virgin snow, and when it crunched under his feet it sounded to Little Vel as if a thousand men ran after him. Little Vel followed, his sword above his head. But before they were even halfway to the Terrible Tower, Little Vel was out of breath. He wasnt as tall as Velson, or as strong, and the snow was knee-high on him. Still, he was Second Commander to the Prince of Shattertree; he couldnt complain in front of the First Commander. There! Velson cried, skidding to a halt, pointing with his long straight sword. Someone had emerged onto the steps at the bottom of the Terrible Tower. It was bundled and huddled in a long fur coat. The rickety stairs he stood on shifted when he turned to stare at them. as all voices must when winters blanket lay on the land. The bundled man waved to the two proud commanders, and Little Vel held his sword up defensively against sorcery. Attack! Velson cried, rushing at the man. Little Vel ran after his kicked snow up in spurts, so Little Vel had to run off to the side to avoid getting a face full of it. The wading slowed him down. Oh no, not today! Go home to yer father! the bundled man the voice; it belonged to Lord Darrik himself, master of the Terrible Tower, and he was certainly off to do no good. Ser Velson! We must free the prince! Little Vel cried as he came up beside his brother. He swung his sword heroically in front of him. Lord Darrik was a sorcerer and a liar; he was not to be trusted, nor listened to. Even Father said so. No, no yeh dont! Lord Darrik shouted. He held up his arms, no doubt conjuring a nightmare. The prince is my captive today. So go off and bother someone else with yehr sticks. A miller has work even when
138 the days are short and the snow is high. Velson turned and looked at his brother. Little Vel knew what he had to do. Throwing his head back, the younger brother howled like a wolf, AWOOOOOOOOOOO In a heartbeat, a pair of shutters was thrown open from the windmills second story. A boy not much older than Velson saluted them. Halloo Men of Vel! the Prince called. Have you brought the legions? Ho, Prince Darrikson! Lord Darrik says hes got you captive. Is it true? Little Vel called up to him. I aint no lord of nothing, the bundled man said, now at the foot of the shaky steps. Dont go utterin such lies. And go! I said get! Now he started down the gentle slope toward them, waving his arms and conjuring something really unpleasant. Little Vel could tell by the look on his face. Lord Darrik! Prince Darrikson pulled himself through the window as he shouted, unwrapped against the bitter winter wind. He squatted on the little ledge. You, boy! Inside! I told you to mind the mill! the miller shouted at the prince. Prince Darrikson laughed triumphantly. When I escaped the last time, Lord Darrik, I told you I would be free I am no mans man! Darrikson let go of the windowsill, and for a gut-twisting moment, Little Vel saw him hang in the air like a bird. Then he dropped like a stone and What? Yehd better hope yehve not broke a bone, boy! Yehre nothing but trouble, I swears it! Darrik, who had been halfway to Velson and Little Vel, now started struggling back towards his son through the snow, cursing and trying to keep his fur cloak wrapped tight. Velson was faster. He dashed through the snow like a wolf and helped Darrikson up. The prince was unharmed; in fact he was still laughing. He shook the snow off and accepted the extra plaid Little Vel had insisted Velson pack. shouting like maniacs, mad with freedom. ## Uncle Jeris saw him through the trees. Little Vel! he cried, holding up his spear. He must have been out hunting. He knew Fathers woods better than any man did. He knew them better even than Father himself. Still, Little Vel couldnt risk being seen. He ducked around a tree
139 and crawled along an upraised root, keeping low like a wolf in the weeds, careful to stay hidden. Not even Uncle Jeris could learn of the location of where Little Vel had been ordered to rendezvous with his brother and the prince. After his run in, he had to wind around for a long time, just in case anyone else was following him. It took a while to pick through the skeletal black trees, but Little Vel eventually found Velson and Prince Darrikson at their secret fortress, called Shattertree. It was well hidden and deep in the trees, and now that snow had fallen, they had packed the walls with snow, making it almost invisible. Underneath the snow, which was nearly ice now, Shattertree was a roughly circular fort of branch-woven walls that were lashed to six thick place down. Little Vel was glad to see it again. He removed his hat (a ceremonial gesture of respect decreed by the Prince), and entered the fort through the crawl-hole. Inside, Velson was cutting a piece of jerky with a knife stolen from Fathers shed, and Darrikson was standing on the perch above. What can you see? Little Vel called up to the prince. Nothing but branches and birds, my Little Commander. I saw wolf-prints a few days past, and Ive been watching for him since. I think a wolf cape would suit my royal station, no? he said. It would, Little Vel agreed, settling near his brother. Did you hear the traders have come from up the river? A man stopped by to tell father this morning, Darrikson said. He said they left a mess of the river road. Is Lord Darrik going to the market festival? Little Vel asked. I would think so. Hell probably take the ox and cart along with him, to buy supplies. The windmill is in hard need of some grease, and he thinks there will be someone selling walrus grease. But my father cant drive that cart to save his life, so I spose Ill have to go with him. Can we have a battle today? Little Vel asked. Aside from the mornings successful siege of the Terrible Tower, they hadnt done much warring of late. Indeed, it felt like all they did now that the snow had come was sit and talk, and Darrikson and Velson only seemed interested in talking about Wenna and her sister, the two girls from town they had met at the last trade fest. They had even tried lecturing Little Vel on where to lay lips on a lovely lady, should he live long enough to try. Not today, my smallest champion. Im still sore from my captivity. Im going to the festival, too, Velson said suddenly. He looked up. Father is sending me with Uncle Jeris to fetch some things. Can I go? Little Vel asked.
140 No, his older brother said. Father said it was only me and Uncle Jeris this time. Oh, Little Vel said. He wished he were a little older. Uncle Jeris was a hunter by trade, and worked with Father in the winter to bring in meat for food and wood for chopping and burning. Since he had come, he had taken Velson out several times to prowl with him, but he insisted that Little Vel was still too small. Velson and Darrikson spent the day talking about what they would do at the market fest, and Little Vel had no choice but to listen and wonder what he would do. By nightfall, they were all bone cold. home. Before they parted ways, Darrikson climbed down to Little Vel and said, My spies tell me that there shall be a siege in four days time, at Lets go, Velson said, climbing out of the fort. Little Vel hustled through the crawl-hole after him, and followed in his footsteps so that walking in the snow would be easier. Velson didnt seem to want to talk, so Little Vel thought about which of the Redhorns he would bring with him to the siege. ## Little Vel woke early to see Velson and Uncle Jeris off. After they were gone, Father made his way out to the tool shed and Little Vel was left alone in the house. He didnt like that, so he helped polish and clean the tools in the shed, and sharpen the teeth on the band saws. The next day, they swept and cleaned the house. On the third day, Little Vel was put in charge of the big stew that they set to simmer. Father let him add onions and carrots as he liked. On the fourth day, Little Vel set out when he couldnt wait anymore. It was too snowy to tell if it was dawn. Father was still asleep, to slip past a guardian dragon, he hung his sword at his hip, stole a plaid, and crept outside without making so much as a sound. It was snowing again. Lazy feathers of snow drifted down so thick he could barely see ten paces ahead, but Little Vel wasnt afraid. He had his sword, and a handful of dried blueberries, and he knew where he was going. Once he was under the trees, the snow wasnt in his eyes, and it was easier to see. He was nearly to Shattertree when he saw a line of paw prints the print. Wolf he thought. It only took a few moments of inspection to verify that there was only one, but one wolf was still a scary thing.
141 from Fathers shed, Little Vel almost turned around and ran back to the house. But the snow was thicker out there at the edge of the trees, and he could see more clearly beneath the canopy, even though it was darker. Swallowing, he started forward again, now with his wooden sword drawn. Theres nothing here that I cant see, he told himself. Uncle Jeris had told him to say that whenever he felt scared. Now he wasnt so sure; wolves were as quiet as ghosts, but as real as What was that noise? It was in his mind. It was his imagination, overreacting. Little Vel didnt dare turn around. He kept walking, ignoring the crunching in the snow that didnt belong to him. Maybe it was a rabbit; maybe it was a deer, but it wasnt a wolf. It wasnt a wolf. It wasnt a wolf. He imagined Thoram Wideshield was beside him. Thoram was the champion of the Redhorns, Little Vels army. Edrin Stormbeard was with him, too, carrying a bastard sword longer that Velson was tall. Edrins beard was even longer than Fathers, and black like coal. There was a growl behind him; low and throaty, and Little Vel yellow moons. Wolfs eyes. It paced back and forth, watching the little boy with the wooden sword, eyeing him, no doubt wondering if some other man wasnt nearby. The wolf was very real. It left footprints. It breathed little clouds. It slavered and circled, and Little Vels throat clamped. It was very thin, and hair was missing in clumps from its tail. Along its back, silver hair shimmered like a moonlit creek. Little Vel held the wooden sword up defensively and took a step back. His heart beat like mad. He was not far from Shattertree. He should have brought a lantern. He shouldnt have come at all. Velson would have charged the wolf. And Prince Darrikson, too; they were real warriors. But Little Vel was an eight year old boy. What burning gold coins. The wolf stopped pacing. It had made its decision, and Little Vel did, too. The wolf hunched, preparing to lunge. Edrin! Thoram! Attack! Little Vel shouted, swinging his sword at the wolf. Startled, the wolf hesitated and backed up. The boy spun and ran, imagining his two burly commanders lumbering off to chase the wolf But they werent real, and the wolf was right behind him. He heard it bound after him when it realized it had been had. Snarling and snapping, the wolf bared down on Little Vel even as he
142 scrambled through a dense bramble of icy, dry thorns. The snow-packed walls of Shattertree loomed out of the trees. The entrance, no more than a little hole the boys could crawl through, was twenty paces away. Jaws snapped at his back, and Little Vel turned, swinging his sword wildly. It caught the wolf on the nose, sent it thrashing into the snow. Little Vel dashed forward like Velson, charging like a man, like a wolf himself. Little Vel threw back his head and howled, hoping for all he was worth that Darrikson was inside the fort with the spear he and Darrikson had made. But there was no answer as he dove through the crawl-hole, and the wolf was close behind, trying to scuttle through the little hole. Little Vel thrust with all his strength and caught the wolf in the eye. Blood splashed and Little Vel jabbed again. The beast roared and tried to pull back out, but the boy pressed his attack, thrusting and stamping at it until it was outside of reach, howling and screaming like a demon loosed from one of the deepest hells. Wasting no time, Little Vel dragged the stump that his older into place. Then he collapsed in the hard, dry ground, and cried. ## When he had control of himself, Little Vel climbed into Darriksons perch to watch for the wolf. Crazed lines of crimson traced the snow where it had stumbled back and forth on its way back into the trees as if it had been drawing gruesome borders on his freedom. He felt its eyes on him, though he saw nothing himself. Little Vel wished he could see the Terrible Tower now. Thats to build Shattertree. If he could have seen it, Little Vel would have been able to call out to the prince, or even to Lord Darrik, and maybe they would get Father or Uncle Jeris to come rescue him. But he was deep in the woods now, and there wasnt a man with a sword or spear in sight. So he sat, too afraid of the watching wolf to try running for it. Once night fell, he couldnt see anything at all. Wishing he could resigned to sleeping in the fort and waiting for rescue. He had never stayed outside the house alone before, but he couldnt help that now; not if the wolf was still down there, waiting for him. Bundled in his plaid, with his hat still on, Little Vel waited and listened in the pitch dark as owls hooted and things scurried in the branches above him. A few times, he heard the distant thudding detonation of a tree shattering in the cold, but never footsteps, or anyone
143 calling for him. And twice he heard wolves howling. ## It was too cold to stay in Shattertree. Little Vel knew it even as he move. He clutched his sword, but he couldnt let it go. There wasnt another choice. He would have to run from the wolf if it was out there. He had to go home, or else he would freeze out here. Velson, Darrikson; they werent coming for him. He knew that now. He was in a snow fort with a starving wolf waiting for him outside. He wanted to cry, but the tears were too cold to come. Little Vel kicked the stump aside slowly, wearily. Something inside him told him that if he lay back down, he wasnt going to get up. Father called that something the Snowy Angel, and said never to trust it. When she whispered you to sleep, you didnt wake up. Get up; go home, that was what Father said. Why hadnt Father found him? He didnt ask as he crawled through the hole, holding his blood-stained sword in front of him. He had pierced the wolfs eye, but had it been a killing blow? He didnt know. He stood in the snow, too cold to feel its chill now. offered no counsel. The shadows under the canopy were depthless seas of black that Little Vel eyed warily as he wove his way towards where he thought home would be. He didnt know, couldnt know. He was so tired and cold, but Velson would have known how to get home. He wished Thoram or Edrin were with him, but this time they did not come. No one came. Movement breathed some life into him. It warmed him, and the warmth made him walk faster. He woke up a little more, realized that at night, even the wintery, snow-blanketed forest was alive and busy. All manner of birds called and clicked, and there were rustles around him. Somewhere, a wolf howled. It was far off, though, and Little Vel kept his nerve. When the response came, he couldnt help himself. Somewhere, probably not half a mile off, another wolf cried out and accused the moon. Little Vels frostbit courage buckled. He dropped his sword and ran, holding his arms before him as he plunged through shadow and snow. The trees seemed to lean at him, scraping and plucking at his head and shoulders with branches naked of leaves, black and wet and frozen. Help! he cried. Help! Little Vel tripped over a root that stuck out of the ground like a leg and fell into a thicket of thorny brush. Something deeper in the thicket
144 thorns and crinkling, wiry branches until he was free, running, tripping, tumbling, but away from the howling, away from fangs and pursuit. His breath heaved and Little Vel shouted for help, but the snowy silence swallowed his pleas and cries as if he were under water. A light hove into view ahead of him. Little Vel didnt care who it whisper him to sleep. He ran at it. Vel! Little Vel! A mans voice. Father? It was too dark to see, and the light was so bright. He ran through the trees, through the darkness at that light like it was the center of the world, like it Uncle Velson dropped something heavy and ran to him. He fell to his knees and slid in the snow, catching Little Vel and clutching him tight. Boy, he whispered. Vel, are you alright? He held the torch out, but Little Vel yearned for it, for its warmth. Uncle, he said. Little Vel hadnt realized his teeth had been chattering. He hadnt felt his nose burning, or his skin itching with frostbite. He buried his face in Jeris fur cloak, seeking his uncles warmth. Gods, his Uncle swore. Where have you been, boy? Prince Darrikson was coming, Little Vel said. He couldnt remember what the millers son was coming to do. But it had been important. The wolf! Yes, I found it, Uncle Jeris said, tossing the torch aside. He swept Little Vel off the ground and held Little Vel like mother used to, cradled against his chest. Little Vel didnt have the strength to ask what he meant. He felt like one of the icicles that hung on the eaves. ## At home, while Velson drew a bath of hot water, Father held Little Vel in his arms. It was nice to be held. Somewhere out of sight, Uncle Jeris was bustling around, making noise and cursing. He came over only long enough to touch Little Vel on the head. Then, looking at Father, he said, Im going back to get the wolf. Father nodded and watched Jeris leave, but he did not leave Little Vels side. When the bath was ready, they put him in the water, and it hurt water so hot he couldnt take it. It was like all of the worst sunburns he had ever had, all at once. Its not that hot, Velson said to him, sticking his arm in the
145 water. Look. Its not even boiling. Little Vel didnt care. It felt like it was. He screamed until he couldnt anymore. Afterwards, when he was warmed up, they laid him on Fathers bed and wrapped him tight in heavy furs. Father and Velson sat by the bedside, refusing to listen to Little Vels pleas to fetch Darrikson. Neither of them wanted to talk about the prince at all, or the armies, or Shattertree. Instead, Father wanted to know about the wolf, even though Uncle Jeris had already left. Little Vel told them what he knew; it was starved and silver-backed. It had eyes like moons. He told them that Thoram and Edrin hadnt been enough to hold it back. They arent real, Velson said. None of it is real. I know, Little Vel said. He yawned. But they were there anyway. Velson frowned. Father left and brought them something to eat, but he didnt ask anything more. After a while he left again, and the boys were alone. Vel asked, Where was Darrikson? He never went to Shattertree, Vel. His brother left him to sleep, then, and Little Vel didnt resist. When he woke, the house was quiet and still. He rose and went to look for food, and found a bowl of berries, but he was famished. He set about looking for something better. What are you looking for? Velsons whisper nearly stopped Little Vels heart. My stew, Little Vel said. Where did it go? Father put the rest of it in one of the empty beer barrels. Go sit at the table, and Ill go get some. Velson took a bowl from the stack hurried outside. The door to heat felt nice. When the door opened again, it wasnt Velson standing in the I got your sword, boy, he said. He held the blade up for Little Vel to see. The tip was stained red. It was lying in the snow near a deers nest. Little Vel hadnt even realized hed dropped the sword. Sheep eyes. I brought back the wolf, too. Swallowing, Little Vel asked, Did you kill it? No, Uncle Jeris said. You did. He pointed at the red stain on the tip of the wooden sword. Little Vel turned the blade around to inspect
146 it. Would you like to see the wolf? Yes, Little Vel said quietly. His uncle slid the fur cloak off his shoulders and handed it to Little Vel. The wolf was the sprawled in the snow. Its face was badly damaged. Near as I can tell, you put your sword right through the eye and into the brain. Im surprised it staggered as far as it did. His uncle peered at him and his tone changed. It takes a man to kill a wolf, Vel. The boy stared at him. Why wasnt Darrikson there? he blurted. Jeris shrugged. He never came home. Word is, the miller apprenticed him out to a visiting smith as soon as they got to market. His uncle was still squatting by the wolfs body, stroking it as if it were a hound. Why didnt Velson tell me? Because princes dont get apprenticed, Velson said. Little Vel turned. His brother was standing with the bowl of half-frozen stew in his hands, staring at the dead wolf on the ground. You should have told me! Little Vel cried, brandishing his blood-stained sword. But Velson couldnt seem take his eyes off the corpse. He wouldnt even look at Little Vel. There were tears freezing on his cheeks. Uncle Jeris laid a leather-gloved hand on Little Vels shoulder. It was huge, like a bears paw. Now that youve killed your beast, Vel he said. What say you set your sword aside and help me skin it? Little Vel looked down at the sword in his hand, and then at Velson. His brother was shivering; just a boy. Uncle Jeris bent down and hoisted the big wolf up over his shoulder and set off towards Fathers shed, his footsteps crunching in the snow. Vel leaned the toy sword against the house and followed his uncle.
147 The Termite and the Anteater (Graphic Version) Zach Wilson
150 Were nice people.