The Great Lake Review Spring 2020
The Great Lake Review SUNY Oswegoâ€™s Literary Magazine Spring 2020 The Great Lake Review is open to submissions throughout the year. Please submit your fiction, nonfiction, drama, poetry, and visual art as an attachment to: email@example.com Follow us on: @greatlakereview on Twitter @greatlakereview on Instagram The Great Lake Review on Facebook Our website: https://www.greatlakereview.com The Great Lake Review is a product of your SA fee
04 Located at 19 W. Bridge Street in downtown Oswego, the Riverâ€™s End Bookstore is GLRâ€™s off-campus home. Every year the Riverâ€™s End holds the release party for our Fall and Spring issues. All of us at GLR would like to extend a special thank you to everyone at our favorite independent bookstore, especially Bill and Mindy. THANK YOU RIVERâ€™S END! Spilled Milk Leighann McPartland
05 Special Thanks to Laura Donnelly and Donna Steiner English and Creative Writing Department The Great Lake Review SUNY Oswegoâ€™s Literary Magazine Spring 2020 Editor-in-Chief Alexandra Borowsky Managerial Editor Emilee Crane Secretary Harrison Mark Treasurer Emily Oâ€™Brien PR Coordinator Nirdishtha Raj Sapkota Publication Designer Nirdishtha Raj Sapkota Head Editor of Drama Mary-Katherine Moylan Head Editor of Fiction Chelsee Morris Head Editor of Non-fiction Samantha Zerbinos Head Editor of Poetry Ishara Aryal Faculty Advisor Laura Donnelly Drama Editors Omo Bailey Grace Merrill Douglas Tan (Yanger Tan) Fiction Editors Jessica Chachere Frank Sanchez Tim Bailey Non-fiction Editors Kazashi McLaughlin Abigail Connolly Austin Colotti Noah Rust Poetry Editors Vidal Williams Julia Krurnowski Libby Morel
06 Table of Contents Poetry A Kiss In The Dark by Darby Faublas ........................................ 09 Breaking News by Amber Holt ..................................................... 24 Oblivâ€¢iâ€¢ous by Nicole Hube ........................................................... 25 â€œEating Togetherâ€œ by Anthony Mirarcki ................................... 26 Reya Riding Hood by Kari Henry ................................................. 28 Donâ€™t Think About It by Kiley Kerns .......................................... 42 Pianissimo by David Moore ........................................................... 44 A Taphobicâ€™s Roulette by Madeline Weisbeck ....................... 48 Ode to Locked Bathroom Door by Miranda Phillips ........... 51 To Atlas by David Moore ................................................................. 62 To Rosaries of Anxious Thoughts by Molly Sullivan ........... 63 On Hypocrisy by David Moore ...................................................... 66 Dance to de Riddim by Kari Henry ............................................. 67 An Ode to Christendom by Darby Faublas .............................. 69 Presidentâ€™s Day by Kiel M. Gregory ............................................ 81 Change by Kiel M. Gregory ............................................................. 95 Manic Thoughts On An Empty Radio Station by Benn Delisle .................................................................................. 97 Lilah Mae Holt 2020A New Horizon by Amber Holt ........ 98 Eclipse by Anthony Mirarcki ......................................................... 100 TV Statis by Darby Faublas ............................................................ 106 Voodoo Doll by David Moore ......................................................... 112 Dyke In A Boat by Lynne Rhys ...................................................... 117 A Cafe Associate is Aggravated by Capitalism While Assembling Lattes by Salvatore Mule ................................................................. 121 Fiction Doors Unopened by Quinnlyn Cox .............................................. 12 In A Week by Rachel Herron ......................................................... 30 The Highway by Evan Waugh ........................................................ 53 I See You by Taylor Volkert ............................................................. 55 Milkshakes and Confessions by Kyra Rage Sobiegraj ......... 72 Forest Walk by Kathleen Gaffney ................................................ 102
07 Non-Fiction Thereâ€™s Other Fish In The Sea, Or Rather, Skaneateles Lake by Mary McIntyre ..................................................................................... 16 My Dad Lived In A Castle by Nathalie Sciacca ....................... 33 50 Feet by Asyiah Boddie ............................................................... 83 Boy Syrup by Edward Sourby ....................................................... 86 A Nice Deed by Taylor Volkert ...................................................... 109 Never Love A Writer by Shannon Sutorius ............................. 111 I Wasnâ€™t Ready For My First Kiss by Jamie Thompson ....... 119 Drama Flower by Kayla Elfers ..................................................................... 19 Diana by Courtney Abbe ................................................................. 36 ................................. 58 Coming Out by Francesca Miesner ............................................. 90 Drawing Of A Real Dad by Kayla Elfers ..................................... 115 Art Medusa by Liam Sullivan ................................................................ Cover Spilled Milk by Leighann McPartland ........................................ 04 VI-The Lovers by Liam Sullivan .................................................... 08 Citrus Maxima by Liam Morgenstern ........................................ 32 Opinions by Liam Morgenstern ................................................... 50 The Girl In The Dress by Anthony Mirarcki ............................ 57 Dreadful Morty by Liam Sullivan ................................................ 80 Better than Bae by Natalie Archibee .......................................... 89 Gio by Liam Morgenstern ............................................................... 96 Wyatt by Liam Morgenstern .......................................................... 101 Soft Reveal by Lynne Rhys .............................................................. 108 Pyre by Liam Sullivan ....................................................................... 114 On The Run by Natalie Archibee .................................................. 120
08 Growth Liam Sullivan
09 His tongue circles the top of your mouth tracing the layout of your bones causing your teeth to fall out. His mouth is a vacuum that is stuck on mode high sucking your face dry. You try to endure it because thereâ€™s a baby sleeping soundly just a few doors down from your impromptu jaw incision. So, you contemplate, if letting a banshee cry escape your vocal cords and allowing the baby to combust would be better than having his tongue down your throat A Kiss in the Dark Darby Faublas
10 reaching for the acid walls of your stomach. Finally, he pulls his tongue out, and you mistake your sudden nakedness for relief, only to realize that gasping for air on dry concrete and your saving grace is the very person that pulled you out of the water with a river of spit. Then, slowly, he picks you off the ground against a soft bed, and with his long nails he marks a V against your skin slowly penetrating your dermis layer until he reaches your spine. he removes your backbone and replaces it with an iron rod. rewiring the rest of your body, he leaves you to your own demise. And, from afar, he watches as your frame slowly melts under his bed sheets.
11 he lets a chuckle out when you use your fallen teeth to tear up your skin and nods when you allow bacteria to consume what remains of your lifeless anatomy.
12 Not all doors were meant to be opened. This is something I, in all my arrogance and curiosity, failed to understand. Not all doors are meant to be opened, not all keys are to be used. Not all locks are meant to be unlocked, not all secrets are meant to be unearthed. I donâ€™t know who my family is. Not really. My parents died when I was young, and I was sent to live with my dadâ€™s aunt and uncle. It was obvious they didnâ€™t want me, but took me in all the same for â€˜proprietyâ€™s sakeâ€™ or something. My motherâ€™s family was a mystery. The only living proof of it was my grandmother, but she was in hospice, old and frail and not all there. I used to visit her, sit and white and wispy, and her skin thin and papery, blue veins stark against its paleness. I didnâ€™t really understand too much of what she talked about. Something about a grandfather of mine, her husband. He had designed his own home back in 1908, shortly after they got married. It had a lab in the basement, a place for him to conduct his experiments and research. He wanted to change the world. But in the early s, they had to leave it behind. Grandmother never said why, but it has sat untouched behind a tall iron fence ever since. When my grandmother passed, I was the only heir. I would gain the keys and deed to that mysterious house when I turned 18. Before she died, grandmother begged me not to go in, not to pass the iron wrought gate that now bled with rust, to not cross the unkempt lawn, to not take down the boards from the grand entrance, to not explore that place. She wanted to get rid of it, to burn it to the ground, but she didnâ€™t. She said she couldnâ€™t. Instead, the home remained behind a large fence, windows and doors boarded up, a home meant to be forgotten to time. Yet here I stand, past the bleeding fence, through the tall grass, before the torn down boards, best friend at my side. I turned 18 a few months ago, and me and Bobby graduated high school a few education system. I turned to face him, grinning. â€œYou ready?â€ I asked him. â€œWhy are we doing this again?â€ Doors Unopened Quinnlyn Cox
13 I sighed. â€œAdventure, remember? Mysterious abandoned house I was warned not to enter, mad scientist grandfather, family secrets to be discovered.â€ â€œAnd?â€ â€œAnd I wish for a home to call my own. My aunt and uncle are getting pretty sick of me living with them. This gives me a place to stay.â€ I headed through the door. He followed me, his steps more us, and it looked so boringly ordinary. I expected something more and pictures on the walls too dust coated to see clearly. I took a few steps in, and noticed something glinting in the light. A door, at the end of the hall. Dark wood, six giant locks, a weird vibe coming from it. Probably led to the basement, to his lab. I walked towards it, the key ring, and got to work. Behind me, I could hear Bobby moving there. It opened with a small click, revealing a steep staircase going down. I descended, Bobby at my heels, the stairs narrow and steep a musty smell. The little passageway we were in lead to a larger room that had these rough wooden tables that were covered in glass stuff in there. There were also bookshelves lining the walls, weighed down and sagging in the middle with books. I kinda expected things to be dustier, but it was relatively clean for having been abandoned for over three decades. I got distracted by a notebook sprawled open on one of the tables. It had notes in code and weird diagrams that I couldnâ€™t but ignored it. I wished to know my family, and the journal could be key. When I looked up a minute later, I was alone. To my left where I â€œReally Bobby? Ditching me? So mature.â€
14 I huffed and headed down the passageway, trying to catch up with him while maintaining a leisurely speed. I passed by some pretty wall, metal cages and crates, an assortment of weird looking tools. I kept walking, and then I heard it. A hum, of sorts, mechanical or electrical in sound. I kept walking, and it got louder, and then I saw a crept forward, slowly entering the chamber. Standing in the middle of the room was a man. A living, breathing man. He looked relatively young, maybe early thirties, and he had dark hair and hungry eyes. The man smiled at me and it looked like he was sizing me up, from my scuffed saddle shoes to my dust covered bluejeans and blouse. It made all my hairs stand on end and a chill race down my spine. â€œWho are you?â€ I asked. I was trying not to panic. Stranger in my grandfatherâ€™s locked basement was probably not a good thing. â€œYouâ€™re youâ€™re trespassing.â€ He kept grinning. â€œHow nice it is to meet you at last, Thelma Emery. I am Jacob Merx. I worked closely with your grandfather for many years.â€ â€œExcuse me?â€ â€œWe were partners in crime, doing our research and experiments to give the US an advantage in the Great War. Him departing was a setback, but now that you are here we can pick up where we left off.â€ â€œCan can you tell me about him? About my family? I know so little.â€ â€œI can tell you everything. Why they abandoned this place, what your grandparents were like, why your parents died. All of it. Even better, he can tell you himself.â€ Emerging from nothingness and shadow, my grandfather appeared. He looked wrong, different. Looked like on occasion, he was of the pictures Iâ€™d seen. Portly, short, harsh eyes, severe beard. â€œHeâ€™s dead.â€ â€œTrue, he is. His spirit, however, lingered. Attached itself here, with me and our work.â€ heard snarling over the hum. Turning, I saw four creatures chained up against a wall. They werenâ€™t human, yet were made of human bits. Hunched, sallow, sagging skin, missing hair, scars, implanted claws
15 on their hands and feet. They had their teeth bared, and had their â€œWould you like to hear about us, Thelma? Hear of me and your grandmother, stories of your motherâ€™s childhood, how she met your father. How and why they met their untimely demise?â€ asked a voice I did not recognize yet knew intimately all the same. The voice of my grandfather. â€œYes,â€ I said. â€œI would want nothing more.â€ My ghostly grandfather smiled at me, but said nothing more. of it as a favor. A rite of passage. An initiation into our world. Then, weâ€™ll share our memories with you.â€ â€œAnything. Just say the word. This means too much to me.â€ Jacob smiled again, but it wasnâ€™t the kind smile of my grandfather. It was cold and hungry. My grandfather disappeared, returning a moment later with a gurney before him. Restrained by thick leather straps and struggling was Bobby. My best friend. He was looking at me with wide eyes, and my grandfather was next to him, holding the gurney still. On a metal table nearby the gurney surgical tools and saws. you through it. Human attachments will only hold you back.â€ I looked at the scalpel, then at Jacobâ€™s piercing eyes, then at Bobby. At the time, I didnâ€™t ponder logistics. I didnâ€™t ponder why my grandfatherâ€™s ghost was there, how he couldâ€™ve known about my parents death which occurred a decade after his own, how Jacob looked so young despite working with my grandfather thirty years before, how Jacob was alive after living so long in a basement locked from the outside. All I thought of was how these men held the key to my past. I looked at Bobby one last time. â€œIâ€™m sorry.â€ I grabbed the scalpel.
16 Not, a scratch that might stop hurting in a few minutes. No, thereâ€™s a hook stuck in itâ€™s body that Dad canâ€™t remove. It doesnâ€™t help that itâ€™s out of the Uncleâ€™s unphased as Dad grabs a pair of pliers to wrench it out, but you start to cry. Itâ€™s not like this hasnâ€™t happened before. When you were a Girl Scout, one of the counselors at summer camp carp. Unfortunately instead of it being solely your favorite color, its sides were stained red from catching it at just the right angle. The counselor said she couldnâ€™t get the hook out, and you were just seven years old so what help would you be? So, she threw it back in the water. Years later, you real ized that she left it to die. knows better, but heâ€™s too busy trying to extract the metal barb that this repaired the lawnmower and patched up the pool. But he canâ€™t stitch up the Thereâ€™s Other Fish in the Sea, Or Rather, Skaneateles Lake Mary McIntyre
17 and your Uncle, this is the end. But youâ€™re too emotional to keep driving them, so you take a seat in the back of the boat. a few years. All that remains is the memory of it being left to be eaten by another lake dweller or die, whether it be in the next few minutes or hours. Perhaps your recollection is a seventeen-year-old girlâ€™s overdramatization that the boat surges forward and so do you.
18 VI-The Lovers Leighann McPartland
19 (Lights up on PERCY playing with a wilted turns on the radio. PERCY happy dancesâ€ to the music as DEMITRA enters with shopping bags on her arms.) DEMITRA Percy, can you help me with the bags? Percy? What are you doing? PERCY!Oh my God, is she having a seizure? (DEMITRA drops her bags and walks over to PERCY. music.) DEMITRA (CONTâ€™D) What the hell were you just doing? PERCY I um-yeah, Iâ€™m not even gonna try explaining that. So How was shopping today? DEMITRA I got us new foam, balloons and a whole bunch of stuff. How was the store? PERCY Oh, the store was good, I-DEMITRA Any customers? PERCY No. (PERCY leans on the counter.) Flower Kayla Elfers
20 DEMITRA Whatâ€™s that number doing on your arm then? You know you can get/ It happens to people every day. PERCY Ink poisoning./ I know, I know. DEMITRA So, that number? Whose is it? PERCY I guess you can say he was a customer. DEMITRA What do you mean â€œI guessâ€? Are you lying to me? PERCY Iâ€™m not lying, I just didnâ€™t think he counted as a customer because he didnâ€™t buy anything, thatâ€™s all Mom. DEMITRA So a random man came in here, gave you his number, and left? PERCY He also left me a carnation. and shows DEMITRA.) DEMITRA Throw it out. PERCY Why? DEMITRA Wash his number off your arm, too. PERCY But I donâ€™t want to.
21 DEMITRA What did you just say? PERCY (Audaciously) I said, no. DEMITRA I know you want attention because you are a young girl but/ Youâ€™re going for the wrong attention. PERCY Young girl? Attention?/ Iâ€™m EIGHTEEN. DEMITRA That means nothing to me. (Beat) So youâ€™re gonna make poor decisions now? Is that what Iâ€™m hearing? PERCY How did you get that from â€œIâ€™m eighteenâ€? DEMITRA Youâ€™re gonna go out with this man just so he can rape you and torture you and murder you and ship your parts to China for all I know and-PERCY And what? AND AND AND can you just SHUT THE FUCK UP ALREADY. DEMITRA (Brokenly) Never once did I ever think you would be the one to disrespect me like that. (DEMITRA walks over to grab her bags and leave. PERCY stops her.) PERCY Iâ€™m sorry, Mom. I didnâ€™t mean to--
22 DEMITRA But you did. PERCY I just meant â€œvitaâ€ You gave me this, donâ€™t you remember? You wanted me to live a life worth living. (Touches necklace.) PERCY (CONTâ€™D) I am eighteen and I want to see what he could bring to my life. DEMITRA I want you to live your life but safely, safely. How is life worth living if youâ€™re murdered? A man who gives you a dead living life now is it? PERCY DEMITRA PERCY (DEMITRA hugs PERCY. DEMITRA quickly releases.) DEMITRA (CONTâ€™D) PERCY Nine. DEMITRA Okay, the dollar store should have some, right?
23 PERCY I think so. DEMITRA Iâ€™m gonna go get that and when Iâ€™m home, I want that number washed off, okay? We can watch a movie or something. Iâ€™ll be right back! (DEMITRA hugs PERCY then exits. PERCY takes PERCY (PERCY looks at her arm and then the Telephone. She moves towards the phone. Lights down.)
24 Now at participating McDonaldâ€™s, enjoy 15% off of the permanent damages of institutional discrimination A hurricane that lasts the duration of a nation broadcasting the last breath of faithful press Gilded prophets seize your rent deposit Shorter wages lead to ages lived in cages Mugshots dismiss their stories and their faces Breaking News: The crew wonâ€™t interview victims of policies and laws, but if you review your visit by completing this survey, you can win a new Is it fair when sirens blare for unpaid transit fares? Donâ€™t ask, donâ€™t act, just send them thoughts and prayers Value menu and promotional pricing not valid for peace The hundreds of protesters against the police Thereâ€™s no room for their voices or the sorrows they clad Others have it worse, their lives canâ€™t be that bad Breaking News Amber Holt
25 wooden dinghy tumbling cyclically over a waterfall / chewing on red meat as the word cascades into chaos, / wiping the remnants off your teeth. / A doe-eyed child staring blankly into a screen while its father sits sulking at the dinner table. 2. Thirteen measly points in a game of Scrabble. / The blood that creeps out of unaddressed wounds. / Writing a message of desperation, / shoving it down the neck of unwilling glass, / wishing it farewell from the shoreline. / â€œHow do things get caught up in whirlpools, anyways?â€ / A midnight bicycle ride into the fog, / the unapologetic nature of raised concrete, / whiplash, / asphalt embedded in ankles. / A kettle screaming steam more greased metal than dare look up to see. Oblivâ€¢iâ€¢ous Nicole Hube
26 I never enjoy seafood night at camp. The smell of the clams grosses me out, Iâ€™m pretty sure lobsters are just giant sea-bugs and in order to eat them everyone uses so much butter that everything is greasy for days. Watching the way the shells break apart in your teeth, how many drinks was that again? And maybe the sides taste okay, Nanaâ€™s smashed potatoes, corn, and home-made camp fries that melt in your mouth, when you start to pound the table. Maybe a shot of Jack isnâ€™t the best call right now? And I could have dealt with all the yelling if we had just got the chance to kick back and try not to get brain-freeze while devouring Papaâ€™s world-famous sundaes, with eating a bowl of cerealâ€” Either one of those things would have made seafood night just a little more bearable, but I swear these sea-bugs smell way worse while I watch â€œEating Togetherâ€œ Anthony Mirarcki
27 from your mouth, all while you go around the table, person by person telling us exactly how you wouldâ€”and easily couldâ€” kill us each with your bare hands. Even Grandma Jean, whoâ€™s 165. But I will admit, watching Papa drag you from the house in your drunken tantrum while I made Pop-Tarts helped to make the smell a little less bad.
28 The B46 was clothed in narrow evening lights. I was on my way to bring Ms. Madeline some dasheen, yam, and cassava my mother had made. Motherâ€™s orders, go straight there, come straight back. The evening sight was the usual, people leaving work, people buying dinner, kids leaving afterschool, people transferring from bus to train, and from train to bus. We reached St. Johns. Three people boarded the semi-vacant bus. A man with wrinkles lightly pressed against his face sat next to me. A friend he wanted. My friend was the pepper spray jacketed in leather in my purse. I became fearful of â€œfriendlyâ€ men in the after hours since last year. I tried to let my discomfort speak for me, as I bowed my head and my brown hood cast a shadow over my face. My name he wanted, my name I didnâ€™t give. He told me of his granddaughter who was â€œlike me.â€ â€œBeautiful, sweet, and 16.â€ My age I did not give. I felt the weight of his stare sinking me into the seat. I pressed the stop button one stop earlier than the usual. Reya Riding Hood Kari Henry
29 When I got off through the front, I saw him walk out from the back. I remembered motherâ€™s orders. I sped down to Ms. Madelineâ€™s street. I buzzed the front door, I ran into the elevator, I reached her apartment and rang her doorbell. I caught my breath. Her door opened, it was her, Ms. Madeline. â€œReya, my girl! So long I eh see you,â€ she said with an embrace. â€œCome say hi to my friend.â€ When I walked in to say hello, I saw that her friend was the friend I did not want.
30 The grass grew around the bodies, each blade bending towards one another, covering their limbs. Yellow dandelions, vibrant blues of the Scorpion grasses, deep purples of the wood sorrels mixed with the green, hues which could only be found in nature. Serenity hung in the air, but no one felt it but them. No one would ever feel it but them. Peace enveloped them. It was stronger than they could have ever imagined. Never would they ever theyâ€™d intended, together. Day one, they were left alone. All the animals were too fearful. Their previous run-ins with these creatures never ended well. They looked on from afar, leaving all but one curious raccoon to refrain from approaching. The raccoon found no movement, nothing to fear, but took no interest in what they had to offer. He scurried away, towards the moon, leaving them how theyâ€™d hoped to be. Day two, the insects began their sortie. Ants, spiders, beetles, and the like, all came to defend their ground. After realizing the bodies were not the enemy, they provided no threat, not even a retaliation to this attack, the bugs found them to be a resource. They would let the beetles do the hard work and take their leftovers. Of course, once the maggots heard of the feast, they came quick to the scene. On day three, it rained. Soil turned to mud, worms joined the beetles and the maggots. The bodies grew dirty, hair clumped, skin fouled, bodies drenched. They couldnâ€™t feel a thing. Once the shower ceased, day turned to dusk, and the foxes awoke from their slumber. followed the smell to their new meal. Aside from the damage the insects had done, they could feed for quite some time on this alone. Day four brought the raccoons back. During the sunlit hours, the bugs were the only inhabitants. Fearful that their food would be stolen, the foxes woke early to feed before anyone else could get there. If the bodies themselves werenâ€™t in such a deep, tranquil sleep, they would be glad they could provide so much to so many beautiful creatures. Before their slumber, that was what theyâ€™d hoped for. The In A Week Rachel Herron
31 raccoons watched the foxes from afar, snickering to one another once they took the red canidsâ€™ spots. The previous rainfall did the plants some good. The weeds and limp legs, near the curves of their necks, in the space between his right arm and her left. The deer became less intimidated; they grazed as if the plants were alone. Their hooves were so gentle. Aside from the resistless plantlife, everything stayed the same. The bodies lied on the soft ground, still, placid, contented, together. Never had they slept so well. In their mind lasted the image of dawn, of their beautiful sunrise. Theyâ€™d dream of its colors for eternity. Day six, they were cold. They were blue. Bluer than theyâ€™d been before. Perfect for the crows, the vultures, and the ravens. Vultures were few and far between, so the crows and the ravens were left to duel over them. The fowl frightened the fauna theyâ€™d previously nourished, with their harsh caws, sharp screeches, piercing claws, and pointed gnawed through and skin torn. They got the scraps. morning, the stench and absence of birds brought the raccoons back. Though displeased with their selection, they consumed what they could. Even with how well the bodies fostered the land, they werenâ€™t unrecognizable. Their decomposition and morphing with the earth its prideful parent shouting in fear and scolding once discovering what exactly it fed on. Blue and red lights tinted the bodies, overpowering the touched his forehead, his chest, his left shoulder, then his right shoulder. The daughter of a friend. In a town as small as theirs, everyone was a daughter of a friend, a son of a friend, a daughter of a daughter or a son of a son. She would be mourned, corpse either displayed gruesomely or burned and scattered somewhere sheâ€™d never want it scattered. He would be blamed for the circumstance, because no one knew him. An outsider, from a city no one had ever been to; he was the reason she was trapped in eternal slumber.
32 Citrus Maxima Liam Morgenstern
33 Youâ€™re tired. the smile off your lips. Youâ€™re excited, youâ€™ve been waiting for this day since your mom told you about it three weeks ago. You even bragged You donâ€™t get to see your dad a lot, and you treat it as a privilege. The trunk being slammed is Gray. Your bleary eyes blink open and you stare out at storm clouds. Hours have passed. It feels like every year the car rides get longer and longer. You donâ€™t recognize this as a problem, why should you? It gives you more time to sleep, so you can use all your energy to play with your dad. You turn to your mom, â€œHow much longer?â€ you ask, rubbing your eyes. She smiles at you. â€œNot too long.â€ time, you close your eyes and bob your head to the music on the car radio. Thereâ€™s crackling on the man in blueâ€™s radio. His hands search you and your mom, makes you take off your jackets and shoes, and you almost feel like crying. Your mom looks annoyed, then turns to you and immediately cups your cheek. â€œItâ€™s okay, baby,â€ she whispers, and you feel yourself taking a shuddering breath to calm down. â€œWhy do we need to do this to see daddy?â€ you ask, just as quiet. â€œBecause...â€ she starts, then pauses. â€œDaddyâ€™s castle needs to be protected from bad guys! These guards are just doing their job.â€ Your bad mood is gone in a snap, and you grin happily. You donâ€™t see your motherâ€™s grimace, but you take her hand in yours and squeeze. Thereâ€™s a beep and a green light, and the guards let you pass and go into a common room, different from the last. You bounce in a chair, legs kicking as men in khaki jumpsuits pile out. My Dad Lived In A Castle Nathalie Sciacca
34 time. Your dad doesnâ€™t comment on it. Your dad smiles at you, taking the seat across from you. You manage a half smile back. Your mom sits next to him, her hands He touches your knee, bringing your attention back to him. â€œHowâ€™s your last year of middle school?â€ he asks. â€œItâ€™s okay, but I donâ€™t really wanna talk about school,â€ you say. always wearing khaki. â€œWhatâ€™s up with the new look?â€ â€œI got put in the hole,â€ he explains. Your mom rolls her eyes, and you frown. Itâ€™s prison terminology, something a twelve year old probably shouldnâ€™t know but your mom couldnâ€™t hide it any longer. Especially when you started telling kids in your class that your dad lived in a tall castle with other men and barbed fences. That was awkward for her during the parent-teacher conference. You donâ€™t want to know why he was put in the â€œhole.â€ You almost miss your blissful ignorance, but you donâ€™t want to ruin the visit with him this year. Now heâ€™s in Ohio, miles away from little old Queens and your mom doesnâ€™t want to make the trips anymore. â€œHey, letâ€™s go get a Twix.â€ Your dad stands with a grin, and you smile in return as you take his hand. The common room of the prison always has candy for visitors, and your mom lets you splurge. He lets you push in the buttons on the vending machine, and you watch as it drops to the bottom with a thud. He reaches in to grab it, then opens the wrapper. â€œLeft or right?â€ he asks. You pretend to think about it. â€œRight.â€ He hands it to you, and you both take a bite. â€œWhen will you be home?â€ you ask, after the silence of chewing. â€œSoon,â€ he promises. Mom promised to take you to visit dad this year, but then he got moved to Texas. Your mom mentioned to your grandma
35 she shared with your grandma, how she never smiled during visits. â€œI wish I could see you,â€ your dad says through the phone. â€œYour mom sent me pictures, youâ€™ve gotten so big.â€ â€œWhatever. I guess you have to wait till youâ€™re home, whenever that is,â€ you mutter. Youâ€™re graduating high school in a few months, and itâ€™s just another reminder of how many things heâ€™s missed out on in your life. And will continue to miss. He sighs. Thereâ€™s silence on the line. Minutes pass, and you wait for him to speak. To hear his excuse this time. Instead, you hear the familiar double beep. His â€œIâ€™ll be home before you know it, angel.â€ the silence. Youâ€™re tired.
36 FADE IN: INT. OFFICE BUILDING NIGHT DIANA, late 20â€™s, is idly walking through rows of empty provided from a couple exit signs on the walls. She murmurs to herself under her breath as she zigzags along. Diana passes empty desks. Happy faces smile at her as her eyes fall over countless photos. Some are taped to cubicle walls, some are framed perfectly sitting on dustless desktops. Faces of children holding onto their parentsâ€™ legs as they stand in a well-groomed yard. The shutters on the houses The keys JINGLE against the silence as they twirl around her She pauses at the next desk. There are BOXES surrounding it with â€œJamesâ€ written on them. From a box, she retrieves a photo of a smiling MAN (upper 30â€™s), this is JAMES. He stands with a beautiful WOMAN wrapped in his arms. Her BELLY STICKS OUT, hanging over her waistline. The sun highlights her face, matching the glow of the RING on Diana swallows hard. She takes a couple steps forward, stopping at the next Diana Courtney Abbe
37 cubicle. She plops down into the seat and stares at the name plate that reads: Diana Porter. A cell phone DINGS. Diana sucks in a breath. She fumbles, retrieving her phone from her pocket. DAD (TEXT) Where are you?! Diana shoves her phone back into her pocket. She slams her elbows onto the desk, her face in her palms. Letting out a few shaky breaths, she picks her head up, black smudge on her palms. She pans to the single framed photo on her desk. Pictured in the photo is a young girl dressed in a graduation gown and hat, the tassel framing her beaming face. She holds a diploma reading: Summa Cum Laude. Delirious with anger, Diana stands up from the seat. Diana scans the room, her eyes peer over the cubicle at a room off to the side. The sign on its door reads: CEO. Picking up the name plate off of her desk, she beelines for the door. She tries to open it. Locked. Frantic, she begins trying key after key. CLICK. It opens. A sneer creeps onto Dianaâ€™s face. INT. OFFICE BUILDING CEOâ€™S OFFICE NIGHT Slowly, she takes in her surroundings. sitting on the grand looking desk that is nestled in the back.
38 Diana sets down her name plate on the desk. She gives it a good look, cocks her head to the side, and adjusts it a little. Just right. FADE IN: INT. OFFICE BUILDING NIGHT DIANA, late 20â€™s, is idly walking through rows of empty provided from a couple exit signs on the walls. She murmurs to herself under her breath as she zigzags along. Diana passes empty desks. Happy faces smile at her as her eyes fall over countless photos. Some are taped to cubicle walls, some are framed perfectly sitting on dustless desktops. Faces of children holding onto their parentsâ€™ legs as they stand in a well-groomed yard. The shutters on the houses The keys JINGLE against the silence as they twirl around her She pauses at the next desk. There are BOXES surrounding it with â€œJamesâ€ written on them. From a box, she retrieves a photo of a smiling MAN (upper 30â€™s), this is JAMES. He stands with a beautiful WOMAN wrapped in his arms. Her BELLY STICKS OUT, hanging over her waistline. The sun highlights her face, matching the glow of the RING on Diana swallows hard. She takes a couple steps forward, stopping at the next cubicle. She plops down into the seat and stares at the name
39 plate that reads: Diana Porter. A cell phone DINGS. Diana sucks in a breath. She fumbles, retrieving her phone from her pocket. DAD (TEXT) Where are you?! Diana shoves her phone back into her pocket. She slams her elbows onto the desk, her face in her palms. Letting out a few shaky breaths, she picks her head up, black smudge on her palms. She pans to the single framed photo on her desk. Pictured in the photo is a young girl dressed in a graduation gown and hat, the tassel framing her beaming face. She holds a diploma reading: Summa Cum Laude. Delirious with anger, Diana stands up from the seat. Diana scans the room, her eyes peer over the cubicle at a room off to the side. The sign on its door reads: CEO. Picking up the name plate off of her desk, she beelines for the door. She tries to open it. Locked. Frantic, she begins trying key after key. CLICK. It opens. A sneer creeps onto Dianaâ€™s face. INT. OFFICE BUILDING CEOâ€™S OFFICE NIGHT Slowly, she takes in her surroundings. sitting on the grand looking desk that is nestled in the back.
40 Diana sets down her name plate on the desk. She gives it a good look, cocks her head to the side, and adjusts it a little. Just right. She sits in the plush chair and rocks back and forth. It CREAKS with every motion. She stares into space. A smile on her face that doesnâ€™t reach her eyes. A cell phone DINGS. She ignores it. The CREAK of the chair picks up as she rocks faster. The DINGS continue, falling in rhythm with the CREAKS of the chair. A loud KNOCK at the door interrupts the noise. DIANA (dazed) Yeah? MANâ€™S VOICE (O.S.) Diana what on earth are you doing DIANA No worries, dad. Everything is as it should be. DIANAâ€™S FATHER (O.S.) Oh yeah? Why donâ€™t you get over yourself and take a look at your phone? A moment passes, she takes out her phone. Endless missed calls from Dad.
41 A text from James. Diana opens the text message. A picture of a familiar woman laying in a hospital bed, an infant lays against her chest. JAMES (TEXT) Diana, I know things are hard between us right now and you think my promotion should be yours. I hope we can put this mess aside. Diana raises a shaky hand to her mouth, a tear rolls down her face. JAMES (CONTâ€™D) I want you to meet your niece, Joan Diana Porter. FADE OUT.
42 Their conversation is With puppeteer strings I force my mouth to curl to the rhythm of their laughs and yells... Iâ€™m here, Iâ€™m listening. Yeah you met her at that bar and you, you went where again? Oh okay, right. Yes, Iâ€™m listening. Metal forks scrape plates and glasses thud on the smooth cold table, Greasy yellow fries pop into their mouths But my friendâ€™s voice cuts the veil that separated me from them the deep tone the icy blade that propels me back into the middle of that street: His eyes were drunken red, glassy and wide, my name , and fuck , and slut , and he inched closer and closer and closer to me but I wasnâ€™t Listening, again, to my friendâ€™s story; Iâ€™m sorry, Can you repeat that? Donâ€™t Think About It Kiley Kerns
44 Music rolls into the ether of ceiling hung wreaths and ribbons red and felt. Tween note and neurogenesis the Grandâ€™s of music savory conversation. The man listening looms over the grand as if posing for a portrait (Napoleon on an oily black horse) legs crossed, elbow holding his balancing weight. The Grand listens with reticent little nods, blinks crowned by the heathy brambles of aging eyebrows. He ignores his music sheets, playing from the synaptic holds of habit: left hand forte boom, right hand mezzopiano roll up and up thumb sneaking past ring heavenly high octaves taking the highway lane up the ivories and downtown where they growl like denned lions. Two spectators, fallen to the couch, Pianissimo David Moore
45 keep a mutual silence leaving their watch-donned hands in the lint-swallowing black holes of khaki pockets. Their legs, crossed over the knee, keep time, nodding like spring tree limbs. Perpetually pressing the left pedal down to lessen
46 the sound, the Grand keeps quiet, dialoguing through hammer headaches on metal strings. He bears a crooked smile, teeth perched on chapped, diaphanous lips to the man requesting songs from the all-you-can-play jukebox. The Grandâ€™s hair, white as the wispy cowlick while his feet tap the rhythm of pause & hold beat & roll (rest and repeat). The grand the glac hue of night utters the ineffable, evolving emotion into strands of notation. The man listening notes the virtue of the standards the Grand speaks mild, tempered wafting his left hand down the clean, on the low throaty F (with a smirk, muttering) nice to meet you as well.
48 The ever-gliding portrait, slick and chillâ€”Alice engages with refractions. Pills, a shade of plum, tipped back against her gullet. Dizzy she is, oh ho-hum, sheâ€™s gone and chased the white hareâ€”falling like sequin snow. Trapped in hushed silence, except for thump. An interlude of chimesâ€”ghastly pale, for the door extends no hand. Locked in her own casket, hare jaunts rapid rounds, unaware of space. over her eyes, bounce back towards the earthâ€™s quicken pleas break from her cracked, sunken overpowers her crescendo. A Taphobicâ€™s Roulette Madeline Weisbeck
49 Memories of chrysanthemums wilted, dried, tucked in-between North and South . Before plum pills replaced literature, after Dinahâ€™s death. Smiles of Cheshire Cat shadowed Alice. Her black ribbon bow pushed back tangles of wheat, cowering of a bad trip. Emaciated thoughts. Now her breath slows, no more air to draw from. No more the hare runs, he falls down dead.
50 Opinions Liam Morgenstern
51 Youâ€™ve shoved something in the gap but a furl of teal cloth has vomited onto the hardwood, spewing fuzzy shafts of light into the hall. â€œCome on, open the door,â€ Youâ€™ve turned the shower on, though you came home damp and smelling of shampoo. Above the white noise of water, a cross â€œHoney,â€ I bang my palm against the door. Eyes burn a bright cheery yellow, dancing bubblegum pink, before the pressure valve begins to leak. Youâ€™ve dropped it. The spoon, coated thick with acid, white bubbles sliding over the edge. I hear the silvery clatter as it bounces off our Moroccan tiles. â€œUnlock the door,â€ â€œTen more pounds.â€ Your voice is raw. â€œHoney, no, you canâ€™t,â€ off-season, that wasnâ€™t enough? â€œI have to.â€ Your words are wet. â€œI have to by Friday.â€ I hear you slump against the vanity, your thick muscles scraping the wood. Chest bare. The way you were when you slunk out of bed and locked the bathroom door. And to think how I smiled watching you eat a full meal... How low can the club stoop? Forcing their best defensemen to drop Ode to Locked Bathroom Door Miranda Phillips
52 ten pounds in a week or lose his contract? Doesnâ€™t Roy care what this is doing to him? I slide down the door, head resting on bent knees. â€œPlease, let me in,â€ Youâ€™re crying now, a baby sealâ€™s bark, gasping from the effort of staying quiet. â€œTen more pounds, then everything will be okay.â€ So this is how itâ€™s going to be now You shift, back against the door. I can almost feel your heat in the blackened hallway until grey dawn twists the knob. You bend down â€” slowly Lay me down gently in our bed, kiss my hair. Stay with me. You whisper something before pulling the door closed, before padding downstairs to the gym where you will run and run and run until your lungs give out.
53 When the highway crests the top of the hill, the city appears, back against the darkness that blankets the land surrounding, its inky blackness threatening to rush in if the lights should fail. The lights are warm despite the cold, and the city sleeps, silent and still save for the wind and the Earthâ€™s perpetual rotation. The highway runs through native land, forgotten by all except those who lost it long ago. Weâ€™ve heard the stories â€“ passed down through the centuries â€“ of shapeshifters and other phantoms that stalk the land at night, but the drive is peaceful. silent in the cabin, except for the hum of the wheels against the road below us. Thereâ€™s peace and comfort in this silence; weâ€™ve made this trip many times before. You sleep in the passenger seat, your body curled up and facing the passenger door. We pass the cell towers that reach toward the heavens, their blinking red lights imitating the pulsating glow of ancient stars that will someday blink out of existence with the fading of the universe. Weâ€™re in the city now, and it too sleeps, like you. We travel on the viaduct that cuts through what were once neighborhoods, The HIghway Evan Waugh
54 appropriated without hesitation or regret, splitting generations and histories in two while completely eradicating others. Theyâ€™re still there, in the concrete, but most have no memory of them. The world has moved on since then.
55 tableâ€™s grain, eyes locked on the strips of cured meat. It was a dark stain on my day, blossoming red and rotten. I had to eat it to leave. My fork would dance across the plateâ€” a child crashing through pillows and blankets swerving from couch cushion to ottoman, heart set on avoidance or death by lava. For years I would sink into the couch and absorb commercial after commercial of teeth submerging into burgers with sponge-like buns and glistening meat, but I never understood. I too would dig my teeth into the familiar substance, but my face would squirm as the scent invaded my nostrils, my shoulders would grow taut, and my face curl into itself. It was Thanksgiving. My family was scattered about, discarded plates sat listless, buttons burst open and bellies up as they took in the calming ambiance of familial conversation. I was stalking the buffet table for seconds, perusing the aisles, plate in hand ready for its next offering when my younger cousin appeared. â€œWhat are you doing?â€ She said it between bites of speared meat from skewer. â€œIâ€™m still hungry but I donâ€™t know what I want.â€ â€œYou know, you donâ€™t eat a lot of meat. Thatâ€™s weird. I love meat...â€ She continued to praise its soft texture and sweet taste, but all I could hear was my pounding pulse. I watched as her rod danced through the air punctuating every syllable. She was conducting a symphony to the rhythm of the beef, and I wanted a refund. * * * Years went by and dinner conversations changed into: â€œOh, Iâ€™m sorry. I forgot. Canâ€™t you just eat the buns?â€ â€œEat around it?â€ â€œDo you want a turkey burger instead?â€ I See You Taylor Volkert
56 â€œOh. Youâ€™re not one of those people are you?â€ * * * It was the end of the school year. All my friends were gathered together for dinner and a ritualistic burning of homework. our plates. â€œOo I love chicken nuggets!â€ I looked down at my feet. My friend hosting gently tapped my arm, eyebrows raised playfully, fork in hand. â€œMy mom also made her famous tofu.â€
57 The Girl In The Dress Anthony Mirarcki
58 INT. GIAâ€™S HOUSE LIVING ROOM NIGHT GIA, mid 20s is annoyed and wears nursing scrubs. She is sitting in a circle of chairs that are unoccupied other than the seat next to her, where JILL, mid 20s is content and relaxing in her grocery cashier smock. Both women have the same book in their hands. GIA up. JILL I thought this week we said 8:15. GIA Every Wednesday for the past month itâ€™s been at eight. JILL Thereâ€™s no need for that tone. GIA I donâ€™t know what youâ€™re referring to, Jill. JILL That thing youâ€™re doing with your voice. Based on all the books weâ€™ve read, you should know what that means. GIA I know what it means, Jill, considering that Iâ€™m the one who plans book club. JILL Iâ€™ve been working until nine lately, Gia. Ruffling Her Feathers Mary McIntyre
59 GIA I work the night shift on weekends. JILL Is that supposed to mean something to me? GIA Yes, Iâ€™m actually going something. JILL I do something. GIA But youâ€™re not working the night shift. You donâ€™t watch people die or lose their loved ones. JILL Yes, but I... GIA Sometimes you put the eggs in the bottom of my bags and break them even after having this job for a year. So donâ€™t you tell me you donâ€™t have time to plan book club. JILL I still... GIA Donâ€™t say you donâ€™t remember when we meet because if anyone should be forgetting when we should meet itâ€™s me, Jill. Do you know why? JILL Personally...
60 GIA I. Work. The nightshift. On. Weekends. JILL I understand, but... GIA I donâ€™t have the luxury of forgetting how to bag eggs. You do, Jill. JILL center. GIA And who misspelled â€œbook,â€ Jill? JILL I did. GIA It is not a â€œbokâ€ club. We most certainly arenâ€™t chicken, weâ€™re literature. JILL Iâ€™m sorry. GIA â€œIâ€™m sorryâ€ doesnâ€™t expand our club to more than two members or return my wasted money on those posters, Jill. JILL I can pay you... GIA
61 Weâ€™re still a club with two people in it, we should be called a book pair. Do you bag the pears correctly, Jill? JILL Yeah, I do. GIA Shocker, Jill. A shocker. JILL I think you mean a â€œbok-er.â€ Do you know what, Gia? GIA What? JILL I know youâ€™re not really a nurse, Gia. You have the night shift on weekends at Chicken-Go off East Seventh. I really wanted this to work but even my love for books isnâ€™t enough to make up for the fact that the only truth youâ€™ve told me is that you make the discussion plans. But guess what, Gia? I know youâ€™ve been using Spark Notes. I may not have proofread those posters, but unlike you, I know there is no â€œfâ€ in anaphora, Gia. Iâ€™m through with book club. And itâ€™s a damn good thing I saw that carton in your fridge, which I only put in the bottom of your bag so Gia, you better get ready to clean the eggs off your house. (FADE TO BLACK.)
62 As a boy I would grip the holds of my fatherâ€™s shoulders. My bony, energetic body sticking to him like cellophane. He would feign the innocence of not knowing where I was: leaning the broad freckled mapping of his back surrounding my view. The air squeezed out my lungs like a punctured tire. Iâ€™d stay strapped on, looking at the world from upper deck seating, my legs holstered to his hips, arms slowly choking him, his furry chest. And I hold on still, when the night is devastatingly darkâ€”when he ignores a militant 11 oâ€™ clock bedtime to watch Jeopardy â€™s closing questions. I hold tight to those aged shoulders. He carries my weight the same â€”somehowâ€”as if forgetting Iâ€™m there. To Atlas David Moore
63 My passport is in my backpack. These words plead through my brain like a nervous catholic in confessional. Repeated time and again until the words become burned across my lips. Like surround sound my condemning words echo, off of brain matter and liquid, this hymn supposedly a saving grace. My attempt to absolve myself of sin. My passport is in my backpack and I cling to this information like a nun to her rosaries. Hoping that this slip of paper will keep me safe, that this smooth surface will become a cushion with the means to guard me from pins of the present, that leave me always bleeding for a hint of a different world A world where when I breathe my chest doesnâ€™t immediately To Rosaries of Anxious Thoughts Molly Sullivan
64 my abilities to interact with those I love. To not stop myself from sharing my life because it seems like a mere splash of water compared to the tsunamis they have endured. A world where eyes donâ€™t seem glued to an appearance. Where my Sundayâ€™s best does not have to be shadowed over by what you believe is proper for the deity of your mind. Making me slouch into myself ashamed believing that I can never be accepted for how they made me My passport is now in my hand as the warm eyes that meet mine terrify me rooting me to a place I wish I could only see in the distance. Made up of small rectangular puzzle pieces of green and brown that I will never have to touch again as they become shrouded over by the clouds. My passport is in my backpack and yet I canâ€™t seem to get myself to leave.
65 Dreadful Morty Liam Sullivan
66 Between heaps of letters evenly severed at the head an especially ugly stinkbug Halyomorpha halys with convertible wings, creeps, buzzing like a live wire. Sifting through the murk of dust scrumptious crumbs of week old food. His scum-green jowls delight at the piquant particles, perfect for the agitating bugâ€™s palette. I let my pancake sponge the remaining syrup, cringing at the imbecilic insect crawling next to meâ€” its warty frame & dangling antennae: You disgust me I moan, inhaling my fourth pancake slumping in slippers that smell like dog before brushing, before deodorizing. On Hypocrisy David Moore
67 Itâ€™s been two weeks since I danced around my room. I danced to the voice of Beres Hammond and to the riddim of Reggae. The heart thumping sound of the bass reminds me of a younger Kiki who heard these songs around her apartment on East 94th Street. A signal for cleaning. She and her brother would trade the GameCube controllers for the broom and dustpan. A signal for her mother to destress, from long days of taking care of other peopleâ€™s children, and returning to take care of her own. Her mother had dreads of strength that reached above her bottom. She wrapped them up in scarves, and wore her crown. A Nubian queen. The songs were a reminder of her father. The riddims were his specialty as a famous local St. Lucian DJ. A bullet of silver was his group. She and her sister were known as â€œBazaâ€™s daughters.â€ When he wasnâ€™t roughing up his hands to make houses for people, he was massaging them for his mastery, the turntables. Hammondâ€™s songs were songs that made you rock away. Dance to De Riddim Kari Henry
68 Whenever they came on at a party the whole place calmed and swayed in unison, The Caribbean molded her into me. The taste, the humor, the language, the folklore, the music. The music. The music of her childhood, her parentsâ€™ prime. They came here for a better life and they wanted their kids to have the opportunities they werenâ€™t given when they were youths.
69 Rules made by man placed on paper and burned into our minds since birth. Then blamed fell on Him when war waged on because it was under His name that many died by the sword Where souls were destroyed and spirits hanged. An ode to my belief because You donâ€™t have rules at least not the ones placed by religious zealous behind their golden door on their golden chair. An ode because Your name is now associated with evil, An Ode to Christendom Darby Faublas
70 when pride takes men too long to realize that their cultivated by their own actions that stick to their skin and destroy their hearts. Ode to a belief that of roses in a brown garden where ravens sing songs of death, while the sun follows at His feet bringing in New life in the dawn of time.
71 Big Bend National Park Poster Leighann McPartland
72 Neil sat in the driveway wondering if this was a good idea. Something about being around Alex always made him say and do the stupidest things and Neil wasnâ€™t sure if he could keep it together for just one night. He stared at his hands, gripping the steering wheel tightly, thinking about what he was going to say when Alex answered the door. Over and over he repeated the words, knowing he was going to mess them up anyways. Maybe he should leave. No. Neil got out of the car quickly, before he could change his mind and drive away. The whole ten steps to Alexâ€™s door felt heavy and his hands were sweating as he knocked. He almost wished Alex wasnâ€™t there or that he was sleeping, but he knew the boy wasnâ€™t. He never was. Alex was there immediately, as if he was waiting at the door. He smiled when their eyes met and he tried pulling Neil inside. â€œI was actually thinking we could uhâ€ Neil coughed a bit, struggling to get the words out, â€œwe could go out, or something? Now. Not like a date or anything, I mean, unlessyouwantittobebutImeanâ€ Alex crossed his arms, thinking on it, before saying, â€œYeah, sure. Iâ€™ve got a craving for milkshakes.â€ Neil froze and looked at Alex. He could feel himself heating up as he said too much. â€œWhat?â€ Milkshakes & Confessions Kyra Rage Sobiegraj
73 â€œCome on then. Thereâ€™s nothing to do here anyway.â€ Alex pushed Neil out of the way and locked the door before walking over to Neilâ€™s car, leaving Neil on the doorstep. â€œAre you coming?â€ Neil jumped and scrambled to catch up to Alex. If his walk to the door was hard, this was Hell. Neil could barely focus and he walked right into the hood of his car, ramming his hip. He winced and held onto the hood the rest of the way around, trying not to bump it again. He could hear Alexâ€™s laughs from inside the car though and door. â€œOh whatever. Laugh it up,â€ Neil muttered as he turned the engine and put the radio on in hopes that he couldnâ€™t embarrass himself any more. The music was soft between them and the night seemed empty. The only lights seemed to be from the street lamps that blanketed the darkness. They didnâ€™t speak as Neil drove, only stealing glances at each other. They pulled up to the diner near the edge of the neighborhood, just before town started. Neil cut the engine and sat for a moment, unsure of what to do. He hadnâ€™t planned on getting this far. Alex poked him, pulling him out of his thoughts. â€œOh, uh yeah.
74 So milkshakes?â€ â€œPffft, duh.â€ Alex was already climbing out of his seat, moved out himself. Neil followed Alex in, still not quite believing this wasnâ€™t a dream. They took a booth a few in from the door against the window. Alex was talking, but Neil couldnâ€™t catch what he was saying. He could barely focus on Alex as he began to think of everything that could go wrong right now. A waitress in a plain blue dress with a white apron came up to them, asking what she could get for them. Neil smiled at her sweetly and asked for a chocolate milkshake. Alex said vanilla. She winked before walking off again, now with a little bounce in her step. â€œSomeone has a crush on you,â€ Alex teased. â€œ What ?â€ Neil whipped his head up and stared at Alex. â€œCome on Neil, itâ€™s pretty obvious she has a thing for you. Didnâ€™t help the way you smiled at her.â€ Neil thought he heard some jealousy in Alexâ€™s tone, but he wasnâ€™t sure. He shrugged before saying something about how she wasnâ€™t his type. Alex scoffed at him, kicking him under the table, â€œShe is completely your type, what do you mean?â€ â€œI can promise you she isnâ€™t.â€ In all honesty, Neil hadnâ€™t even looked too hard at her. He only knew what she was wearing because it was uniform. â€œDonâ€™t give me that! Sheâ€™s blond, sheâ€™s short, sheâ€™s got
75 dimples when she smiles and she obviously has no problems with and Neil couldnâ€™t look up from them. â€œWhat part of that isnâ€™t your type?â€ Neil wanted so badly to say â€˜ sheâ€™ that he had to bite his lips together. He took a moment before saying, â€œWhat makes you think thatâ€™s my type?â€ It was his type, but there was no way to say that without outing himself. There was no way to make it sound like he didnâ€™t have it bad for Alex, who also hit all those boxes. â€œYou know what? I donâ€™t even know why I bother with you.â€ Neil looked up and smirked, â€œBecause Iâ€™m irresistible.â€ â€œHaha.â€ It sounded like he was mocking Neil, but Alex smiled all the same and Neil couldnâ€™t help feeling like putty again. His smirk turned into a smile and he was about to say something, but before he could the milkshakes were being placed in front of them. The moment was gone. â€œAnything else?â€ She was smiling at Neil and her voice was too sweet. It took everything in Neil to smile and politely say no. Neil turned back to Alex, who quickly looked down at his milkshake as if ashamed that he was looking at Neil. Neil lightly kicked him under
76 the table, raising his eyebrow in question. Alex only looked up, unsure, and then over Neilâ€™s shoulder. The waitress was still there. â€œWhat?â€ It came out meaner than Neil meant, but what the fuck. He no longer could keep up the fake smile. She jumped, squeaking a little in surprise before turning around and running back to the counter. Neil sighed and turned back around. Alex was smirking into his milkshake. â€œAnd what about you?â€ Alexâ€™s eyes darted up quickly and he shook his head. â€œJust you.â€ Before Neil could ask what that meant, Alex had his spoon in Neilâ€™s milkshake and was digging for all his whipped cream. â€œHey!â€ Neil made a grab for Alexâ€™s hand, but he was too slow and Alex was laughing as he shoved it in his mouth. â€œThatâ€™s not fair,â€ Neil said, now grabbing his own spoon. Alex seemed to know what he was thinking though and he grabbed his own milkshake, standing up suddenly and shoveling his own whipped cream into his mouth. â€œYou wonâ€™ â€˜e touâ€™ing my â€˜ream!â€ Alex said through all the cream in his mouth. He had to look up though to keep it all in, and Neil started laughing. Alex also started to laugh and he had to put a hand over his mouth to keep from spitting it all out all over the table and himself. He coughed it down between laughs and sat back down. He was still coughing. â€œWas that really worth it?â€ Neil asked.
77 Alex stopped coughing and looked up at Neil, dead serious. â€œYes.â€ A moment passed and they were laughing again. --Neil wasnâ€™t sure how the milkshakes were so quickly gone, as it seemed the two of them never really stopped laughing, but sure enough, when he went to drink again he was met only with a mouthful of air bubbles, gurgling their way up the straw. Neil watched as the waitress, still trying to catch Neilâ€™s eye, skipped over to the table. She made sure to lean down as she plopped the check on the table and quickly skipped back. Neil scowled at the thing and Alex ended up picking it up. Alex made a face before tossing it Neilâ€™s way. â€œI told you she was into you.â€ There was a phone number and a heart under the total. Her name was Beverly. Neil scoffed and grabbed the receipt, getting up quickly. He didnâ€™t check to see if Alex was following him as he walked up to the register. Beverly was waiting there, a smile on her face, but it shrunk when she looked up at Neil. He slammed the receipt down with a ten. The ten barely covered the milkshakes, but Neil wasnâ€™t too concerned about a tip
78 right now. She grabbed the bill and when she saw that Neil wasnâ€™t taking the number back, she looked upset, trying to slide it back across the counter. â€œYou can keep that .â€ Her eyes widened, as if shocked to having been rejected, but Neil didnâ€™t care. He turned on his foot, and grabbed Alexâ€™s hand, who had apparently been standing right behind him, guiding them out of the place. Alex spun quickly back to her before they went out the door, but Neil didnâ€™t catch what he did. He didnâ€™t let go of Alex until they got to the car. He stopped them right next to the passengerâ€™s door and let go of Alexâ€™s hand, sighing and leaning against the car. He brushed his hands through his hair. He had his eyes closed and was facing the sky. It was a minute before Alex also leaned against the car, reaching over for Neilâ€™s hand. Neil looked down at Alex, who was smiling down at their hands. â€œWhat?â€ Alex looked up at Neil and quickly moved in, placing a quick kiss on Neilâ€™s lips, before moving right back to where he was. Neil just dropped his jaw and stared at Alex. Alex laughed and looked away, out towards the road. â€œI knew, Neil. For a while. Iâ€™ve been waiting for you to make a move for forever now. I got sick of waiting. Althoughâ€ Alex looked back over to Neil smirking, â€œit was a little funny watching you squirm in there.â€ around, going into space rather than his mind. â€œYou knew?â€ Alex
79 shook his head. â€œAnd you liked me back?â€ Now Alex was smiling, but he still nodded. Now it really hit Neil. He knew he should be excited, but now Neil was focusing back to the diner. Alex grabbed his face, making Neil look back over to him. â€œIâ€™m over here you know.â€ He was smiling and any anger Neil might have been feeling drained away. Alex moved his hands away and Neil immediately swooped down, bringing Alex into another kiss. â€œMan,â€ Alex said, breaking away. â€œI should have made you buy me milkshakes sooner.â€
80 Death of Truie Liam Sullivan
81 This year, I am considering driving to campus and sitting in empty classrooms just to protest the state of our union, which, at this point, seems a misnomer. I see division everywhere except in math class. Have you seen the way we teach children arithmetic these days? Pictograms of dots and hypotheticals; I point to the page and say illegible , I say, I say, we used to do it like this and whip out base ten. I say, just do it like this. I say things that probably reveal biases of cognitive processes. Presidentâ€™s Day Kiel M. Gregory
82 Is comfort the enemy of progress? (Yes.) Is common good? (â€”Debatable.) Then why are we celebrating going backwards with red hats? (Probably has something to do with the common comfort of our division.) When I say core do you think apples or abdomens or the center of oneâ€™s consciousness? When do we say this is not the way we teach our children ?
83 Later in the day when the sun begins to folat back down towards the earth, there is a theatre that stands still in darkness. The an old man wrapping up his day at work. Last task of the day: coiling up a 50 foot sound cable. Some might say it is an intimidating job (especially working in audio) but it is his only moment to recollect on his day. His worn hands work the stretched elastic tie over his hair, wrapping it as tight as it could go without popping back at him. It is With a simple toss, the cable ripples through the air and lands in a never-ending path before him. Swiftly, the man begins to wrap the wire loosely around his hand. The journey begins. Four minutes into coiling the manâ€™s mind wanders. Thoughts begin to messily bubble over. The theatre. Truly a second home to the old man. Looking out into a sea of empty chairs he can envision the life that once ran threw the place. All of his students from all walks of from the catwalks, the feet of dozens stampeding around the stage creates a heartbeat within the theater. That theater was everyoneâ€™s home with that old man as everyoneâ€™s safe haven. 50 Feet Asyiah Boddie
84 Around 20 feet of wire, the black rubber coating begins to redden the old manâ€™s calloused hand. His eyes begin to droop, coiling is a less intriguing event than any person expect it to be especially doing it on your lonesome. Oh, how he wished he did not put the task so far on the back burner, missing the possibility of having an extra hand to fasten the process. In actuality, he doesnâ€™t need the extra talent of having your body repeat an action without being there mentally. Staring at the remaining pile of cables that seemed to snake around the stages for miles leaves him yearning for a distraction, any! Maybe his phone will ring with his scattered wife checking on needed tutoring session. Maybe one of his beloved students would barge through the worn double doors searching for something that was forgotten before. They could sit at the edge of the stage feet swinging just above the house speakers catching up on life. He would use this as the perfect opportunity to untie the studentâ€™s shoes in an act of pure mischief. The student would attempt to retaliate but fail. Maybe, one of his colleagues would rush through the theatre full with eagerness to reach him. They hold a binder spewing with markedup papers and a rainbow of sticky notes. It is play season and there simply, the janitor will come and disrupt the deafening silence with
85 broom brushing the carpet of the aisles. The old man can pass some time trying to guess the melody. What era itâ€™s from, who sung the words, if this was the janitorâ€™s favorite song. There is nothing. No missed calls or messages on his phone. No one trying to disturb him. No one trying to reach him. The old man is left with himself and the shell of the theater. What is this feeling that is arising in him? Is it unsatisfaction with having no one in need of his presence? Is it the feeling of loneliness from being stuck on an abandoned stage with only the walls to talk to. Or maybe itâ€™s simply the sadness of having a great length of wire left to coil up before he can escape back into the world outside of the realm of the theatre. A deep and weary sigh escapes from his mouth. The deep wrinkles within his temples soften as he is brought back to reality. With 30 feet left, his hand begins to wrap the wire around the formed loop in his hand. Over and over and over again until his mind begins to wonder.
86 â€œWe can start it right now, if youâ€™re ready,â€ says the doctor. â€œLike, now , now?â€ â€œUnless you have somewhere you need to be.â€ â€œNo, no! Letâ€™s do it.â€ You might cry. Youâ€™ve been wanting this for years. It took you waiting, you had assumed the prescription wasnâ€™t going to be given to you the same day as your consultation. The shock of being told you can start injections today nearly knocks you off the exam table. You wrestle with your emotions for a moment while the doctor taps away at her laptop. She tells you to go to the pharmacy next door and pick everything up. While the pharmacist processes your insurance and prepares what you need, you are unable to contain your excitement. Youâ€™re messages with congratulations and cheer. You take a picture of your prescription paper and white out your dead name, then post it to your Snapchat story. The pharmacy isnâ€™t big enough to dance in, so you rock back and forth on your heels. Boy Syrup Edward Sourby
87 Seven dollars later, youâ€™re clutching a plastic bag full of supplies. You hurry back into the clinic where a nurse in turquoise scrubs waits. He leads you to a cramped room that is more exam paper beneath you feels distant. You kick your feet anxiously, red Converse bouncing against the drawers. â€œHave you ever done anything like this before?â€ asks the nurse. â€œNo,â€ you say. â€œI donâ€™t like needles.â€ He chuckles and says youâ€™ll have to start getting used to them. He secures his hands in white latex gloves and explains the process. Roll up your cargo shorts, no need to remove them. Feel more muscle than fat. That is where you will penetrate. Now, rub the alcohol wipe over the area. While it dries, pick up the vial. Poke the big needle through the rubber seal and into the clear liquid. Fill the syringe to .25mL. Take out the needle, and make sure you get all the smaller one. Push on the syringe until you see a small drop of liquid come out at the top. Take off the cap. Make sure your gauze is at the ready, balanced on your other leg. Push the needle into your thigh.
88 You hesitate at this step, as most people do. The nurse tells you to take your time, and you want to. You stare at the needle hovering over your pale skin. You inhale deeply, feeling the pressure from your binder on your chest. It wonâ€™t be that bad, you think. It certainly wonâ€™t be worse than all the blood tests you suffered through to get here. Feeling woozy is a small price to pay for the euphoria that will follow. You did not come this far to give up. With your left hand, you pinch part of your thigh. With your right hand, you pierce the skin with the needle. It goes in faster than you expected. You relax your left hand and push the liquid from the syringe down. Itâ€™s like forcing syrup into your body. Once itâ€™s all in your thigh, you slowly remove the needle. A small pool of the clear substance leaks out of the puncture wound, followed by blood. The gauze stops the bleeding. You press down hard while the nurse tosses your used needle into the sharps box and preps your band-aid. He puts it over the little red hole in your leg. Feeling exhausted, you take an enormous gulp from your water bottle. The nurse watches you with the smile of a proud parent. â€œThat was impressive,â€ he says. â€œIâ€™ve never seen someone do it so fast before.â€
89 Better than Bae Natalie Archibee
90 EXT. DOCK NIGHT JOSIE STONE (late 20s) stares over the water. She is dressed formally and her hair is pulled back neatly. She is biting on her nails, which are trimmed short. Beside her stands DOUG STONE (mid 60s). He has a massive mustache and his face is carefully blank. He is wearing an There is a small table with a full glass of whiskey and a glass of wine. The silence between them is a heavy one. DOUG No youâ€™re not. Josie turns to stare at him. This was not the response she was expecting. JOSIE What? DOUG Youâ€™re not. There is another ent of silence. JOSIE I am. DOUG Youâ€™re not. This is your sisterâ€™s wedding, for fuckâ€™s sake. JOSIE Coming Out Francesca Miesner
91 What does that have to do with anything? DOUG This isnâ€™t about you. This is her night, and you have the nerve to come to me and tell me, what? That youâ€™re gay? After a slight pause, Josie nods and looks at her feet. DOUG (CONTâ€™D) Typical. It always has to be about you. JOSIE It just came out. DOUG I asked why you didnâ€™t have a date. You didnâ€™t have to say you were gay. Just say no one was interested. You donâ€™t have to bullshit me. JOSIE Iâ€™m not lying! I didnâ€™t have a date to my sisters wedding because I canâ€™t be myself around my own family because of my stubborn, bastard father. DOUG Youâ€™d better be. Josie is confused. JOSIE Better be what?
92 DOUG Lying. JOSIE Why does it matter to you? DOUG If youâ€™re gay, youâ€™re out. Doug waves a dismissive hand at her and turns to walk back inside. Josie is done playing nice. When Josie speaks, Doug doesnâ€™t turn. JOSIE Out of what?! DOUG The family. JOSIE Why?! Doug whips around and starts back towards her. DOUG Because I wonâ€™t have you running around and fucking with your sisterâ€™s marriage! I wonâ€™t have you ruining the family! Doug is getting more angry. He stands up straight and puts down his drink. JOSIE I would ruin the family?! DOUG Yeah, you would! JOSIE Marley doesnâ€™t even give a shit!
93 Sheâ€™s happy for me. She told me to come out to you today. DOUG Youâ€™re not gay. JOSIE Yeah, Iâ€™m lying because this conversation is so delightful. Doug steps into her space. DOUG Iâ€™m not having this conversation with you. If you wanna be queer, you can go right ahead. DOUG (CONTâ€™D) But I donâ€™t want to hear from you. I donâ€™t want to talk to you. And most importantly, you stay away from my daughter. turns from her and walks back inside. Josie is doing a bad job of hiding her tears. She is shaking and stomps her foot. She screams at him. JOSIE So itâ€™s my sister when you want me to change my mind, but now itâ€™s your daughter?! Sheâ€™s as related to me as she is to you, asshole! Doug stops in his tracks. Josie looks like sheâ€™s regretting her anger, but she presses on.
94 JOSIE (CONTâ€™D) You might hate me now for reasons out of my control, but you arenâ€™t dragging Marley with you. Iâ€™m gay. Marley doesnâ€™t care. Sheâ€™s known for months! Youâ€™re the one with a problem. Doug stops walking. JOSIE (CONTâ€™D) I tried being nice to you. I tried to wait, or in a better mind or whatever, and this is the thanks I get for that. Josie pauses to take a breath. JOSIE (CONTâ€™D) Iâ€™m a huge lesbian. A massive one. Josie laughs, a little hysterical. Doug whips around. JOSIE (CONTâ€™D) And you hating me isnâ€™t going to stop me. Itâ€™s taken me a long time to accept myself, and youâ€™re not taking that from me. She picks up her glass of white wine and dumps it into the lake. She wipes tears from her face as she passes her father. Doug watches her go, but makes no move to stop her. JOSIE (CONTâ€™D) You can call me with an apology if you change youâ€™re mind. Donâ€™t expect to hear from me. Josie walks up the lawn, leaving Doug on the dock alone.
95 Change Kiel M. Gregory being in books gave me the only spine Iâ€™d ever had. so afraid to live some of my poems, and so afraid to live others again kept me, for most of my life, not realizing I was the beauty Iâ€™d spent most of my time trying to be, walking around in glints and lightning but believing what Iâ€™d been told: that I was ugly and shadow and the curse of both. when I set down the weight, knew the grudge I carried was only against myself, I learned to sew alchemy: leaden sails into featherâ€” moving toward the horizon of my bones.
96 Gio Liam Morgenstern
97 Itâ€™s probably raining outside. Iâ€™m always so lonely, Unless Iâ€™m in a library. Something about used books, and Dead peopleâ€” Barbed wire cuts the skin, But only if you think it can. Blue things always resonate with me: Immobile sadness and a Bitter unwillingness to be anything More than blue. I think Iâ€™m going to get a tattoo. Probably something like a watch, The time. Ghosts are just commentary About how we want to scare ourselves. I donâ€™t know if itâ€™s me Or moldy bread on the ceiling, But something smells. Maybe I should take a shower, But then again, the weatherman Said it was going to drizzle Today. Iâ€™ll just wait Until the next forecast. So thatâ€™s all for this broadcast. Reporting live from deep inside your Grandmotherâ€™s coat closet. Manic Thoughts on An Empty Radio Station Benn Deslisle
98 â€œYou keep saying you have all this guidance. From who tho? And how long will your support last?â€ The Father Three glowing embers danced through rising smoke. You leaned over to kiss her cheek, pressing your cold palm against her stomach, uncaring of what laid beneath her skin. You missed her strained smile. â€œNice to see you again.â€ You sounded civil. Calm as the stars hanging above us, Your eyes betrayed you. â€œWhat are you going to do about the baby?â€ You didnâ€™t like that question. You didnâ€™t expect me to ask. â€œIâ€™m thinking about it.â€ Your arm uncoiled from my sisterâ€™s waist, a bitter hand releasing my niece. â€œThe baby is going to be born.â€ I tell you the obvious, what she has told you again and again, ignoring the crackle of dry wood â€œI know. Iâ€™m thinking about it.â€ I knew your answer. â€œThink harder.â€ You didnâ€™t. She now knows your answer, too. I wonder if you miss that night, feigning uncertainty, suspending conversations, Lilah Mae Holt 2020A New Horizon Amber Holt
99 spending weeks crafting ice sculptures of excuses and claiming they match the height of glaciers. You are stagnant, frozen, only able to watch us move forward. We will take turns holding her as we walk the path you warned us of. The path that costs money and time and sleep that glisten gold when the sun catches. Our laughter will carry us through the nights, We will climb the mountains you told her she didnâ€™t have the gear for, and at each peak we will stop and watch the sun melting into the horizon. Weâ€™ll teach her the colors of the sky, teach her that our sunset would be duller without the soft touch of lilac. Softer than thousands of petals dancing in the summer breeze. You may hear of the life blooming around us and wonder where the lilacs are, or why the sun hasnâ€™t risen to kiss your brittle milkweed stems, unaware that this land only serves those who can rise from the ashes of every obstacle and use it to fertilize everything in sight. Our roots will grow beneath rich soil, bringing forth new life, a kindled love. Her support is an army of phoenixes. She is the sun. Your daughter will be something even brighter, spreading warmth and beauty and hope. I take my sisterâ€™s hand. We can already see the sky changing colors. A soft touch of lilac. We start walking without you.
100 to k.g. I am nonaction in motion. I am raw, unadulterated mechability. I am unequivocal self-control. I am restraint incarnate. You are a whirlwind of intention. You are indulgent eloquence. You are a catalyst event. My stoicism belies my fragility. My stolid shell shrouds insatiability. Your contagion is multivalent and carceral. dissect your mind and gift and steal away the last thing that makes you, you. bend me to your will while I lose myself trying to become everything you need me to be. We could only ever be safely viewed at a distance. Eclipse Anthony Mirarcki
101 Wyatt Liam Morgenstern
102 Forest Walk Kathleen Gaffney The police want to shut the park down because of the murders. Too many people have gone missing only to be found dead boot as you walk through the park, snapping you from your thoughts. Youâ€™ve been a park ranger here for a while, you could do the things on your mind. What will you do if they shut the park down? This is your job, and you fought to even get it, and now itâ€™s at risk? No, of course not, and of course you argued with police and the park managers and directors and whoever else would listen. Nothingâ€™s set in stone, theyâ€™d said. Itâ€™s still up in the air. Thatâ€™s when a report came in. Several hikers and park guests got together and reported a strange man in the woods. Caucasian feet tall, dark hair, brown eyes. Theyâ€™d all seen him, but couldnâ€™t agree on what he was wearing. A white t-shirt and blue jeans? No, he Since he wasnâ€™t doing anything more suspicious than walking around, youâ€™d been sent to investigate. Reports like these are part of the job, and usually righted themselves, but with the murderer on the loose, everyone has been quick to report, just in case. Itâ€™s good for you. It meant job security, since theyâ€™d need people to go out and investigate. It also means more work for you, more patrols, more walks. You hope they donâ€™t close the park. You like the forest, you like patrolling it and cleaning up garbage and seeing what crossed your path. Just last week you saw some young fox kits wrestling before they spotted you and they disappeared into their dens. Yesterday you saw a buck by the pond in the forest and counted six prongs on his antlers. Luckily, you never had to use the bear spray you were required to carry on you. Youâ€™re required to carry more things than youâ€™ve ever had to use, but itâ€™s nice to have it all the
103 same. You once thought the rope was useless, but youâ€™ve found it surprisingly handy, like the time you had used it to pull a child who was stuck in the marsh. As you near the pond, a part of you hopes to see the buck again. You donâ€™t, but there is something there. A man in a white t-shirt, a black sweatshirt tied around his waist, kneeling and looking out at the pond. Your nose alerts you to the cigarette in his mouth before you see it. You take a step, making sure to snap a twig under your foot to announce yourself. No need to antagonize anyone, but you are well equipped to defend yourself if needed. The man looks over his shoulder and stands. â€œOh, Iâ€™m sorry,â€ he says, his voice is soft and shakes around the cigarette. His eyes dart around in their sockets as he removes the cigarette from his â€œEverything alright?â€ You ask, taking in the manâ€™s tall, almost lanky appearance. He tenses as you speak, as if he could feel your words on his skin. â€œYes, Iâ€™m sorry. Is somethinâ€™ wrong?â€ He isnâ€™t looking at you. â€œAre we not allowed to smoke?â€ â€œI received some reports of a suspicious individual. Can you tell me anything about this?â€ You always tried to give people the strange, and if locals are on the look out for suspicious people, itâ€™s little wonder why they reported him. â€œAh, did they mean me? Iâ€™m sorry,â€ an apologetic smile crosses the manâ€™s face. â€œIâ€™m new to the area, so I thought Iâ€™d try do a little explorinâ€™.â€ He runs a quick hand through his hair and the smile fades. â€œThat so?â€ you ask, nodding along to his story. â€œYeah, Iâ€™m from a big city, you know? I donâ€™t know much
104 about, um, stuff like this.â€ He waves his hand, motioning to the pond and the trees and the forest around you. His voice shakes harder now, rattling like teeth in Winter, despite the warmth from his cigarette. â€œAre you lost?â€ Sometimes people arenâ€™t keen to admit that, but you see the signs. â€œI think so.â€ He scratches the tip of his nose. â€œWhy didnâ€™t you ask someone for help? People saw you.â€ â€œI â€“ I got scared,â€ he stammers. â€œI kept seeinâ€™ people, but I wanted to avoid â€˜em. I kept hearinâ€™ about a serial killer. A-Any one of them could be it, you know?â€ Oh, you know. Youâ€™re very well aware of that as you stand before this man. â€œOf course,â€ you say with a nod. â€œHere, let me show you the way out.â€ â€œThanks!â€ His face relaxes into a smile. His dark eyes make contact with yours but then dart away like the young fox running home to its den. He takes a deep inhale from the cigarette. You hate the smell. Youâ€™re supposed to radio in when something like this happens, but that can wait until after you let this poor man out of the forest. Besides, you donâ€™t want to freak him out too much. You walk the winding trails with the man following behind approach of dusk. The park will be closing soon, and soon after that, waits the end of your shift. The man is behind you. Youâ€™re keenly aware of his footsteps. Heâ€™s inexperienced, and you can hear when he stumbles over a root you gracefully avoided. You canâ€™t help but smirk a little at the thought that people were actually afraid of this man. Youâ€™re certainly not. â€œIs this the right way?â€ His voice trembles. â€œYes, of course.â€ You feel your chest tighten. You canâ€™t wait to get home, maybe phone your folks back home, maybe watch a good movie, take a hot shower, anything. The forest quiets. The deer have walked on to other parts of the park. The songbirds have given up for the day. Even the squirrels seem to follow the silent agreement to avoid this part of the park in this moment. You wonder if the manâ€™s trampling and smoking scared
105 even the wildlife away. First they want to kick you from your job, and now this idiot city boy is scaring away everything you love about your job. You canâ€™t wait for today to end. Your head hurts. You hear him blow out some smoke and then it hits you. Itâ€™s risky for him to smoke in the forest. Itâ€™s risky for you too, but youâ€™ll do it. No one is watching. Your hand reaches for man had already left by the time you arrived. That there was no one suspicious. He was a nobody, a drifter from far away. you stomp out the cigarette. Somehow, that didnâ€™t make it any less satisfying.
106 TV Statis On My Brain Darby Faublas Blue markers on the wall left by kids who wanted to explore the world motherâ€™s ran after them like a big musical number. Lice made their way up my hair, settling their self-down after the market crash on wall street They seem to enjoy the property on my dome. They can see the ocean in my tears. Tears that were caused by Claudia because she decided to pull my hair on the playground on a Friday afternoon. I hate you Claudia. I like the word hue because it reminds me that the sun will go up one day and settle itself on my shoulders as I looked into the eyes of a red dolphin, but I never know how to permanently implant it In my heart to help my teeth grow like trees. Iâ€™ve never been stung by a bee nor really had to deal with constant rings in my ears after Almost drowning into a pool of water. But Iâ€™ve heard the cry of a bullet in the middle of night that sent my parents and I into our safe chambers. In America, snow fell from the sky resting on the tip of my pink tongue. Swallowing it feels like having the galaxy inside my stomach, storming around like a military parade and singing â€œold McDonald had a farmâ€ but in German. In the middle of the night, when the mouseâ€™s in the walls laid bare, my bed grows legs and settles in front of Deathâ€™s stairs, waiting for its turn to toss me out like an old skeleton.
107 Iâ€™ve never been in love, just infatuated by the thought of eating a dozen donut while high on acid. If clich was a person, Iâ€™d probably want to talk to him about my friendâ€™s foot fetish. Then about Hollywoodâ€™s secret sex cult, wouldnâ€™t that be a fun thanksgiving discussion. By the way mom, I yelled, Epstein didnâ€™t kill himself, but who cares, the government already killed our motivation to care.
108 Soft Reveal Lynne Rhys
109 late you could argue it was early morning. I sat squished against a To my left sat my mother, surrounded by our luggage. My younger brothers were scattered about, heads titled and glued against the wall, eyes numb and falling shut. My father stood some With my head slipping against my shoulder, eyes falling shut to the rhythm of the subdued atmosphere, I watched workers mill about, preparing to close up their stores, minutely aware of the soft grumble in my abdomen. â€œHey mommy, Iâ€™m hungry.â€ I quietly spoke up, breaking the soft tension. She carefully peeled herself off the wall and searched the area in a daze, scanning for any remaining stores. When she spotted pled dollars from her pocket, placed them in my hand, and nodded. I followed her eyes to the far off Dunkinâ€™ Donuts where a solitary worker stood, their eyes on the clock. â€œBoys, go get food with your sister.â€ I began to unfold myself and the two followed suit. The three of us were greeted by a work-worn teenager, barely old enough to be up this late. Standing on my tippy toes I leaned over the counter to see the menu behind them. â€œWhat do you guys want?â€ I asked the boys, they could hardly A Nice Deed Taylor Volkert
110 see over the counter. I let them call out their orders and listened as our list of items grew and grew. While the worker prepared the food I squinted at the small green number on the register then glanced down to the pile of change in my palm. â€œActually!â€ I called out to her back, body stretched to be heard, â€œCan I just have two drinks instead of three and no donut?â€ â€œWhat are you doing?â€ my youngest brothers asked. â€œChanged my mind. Iâ€™m not that hungry.â€ My stomach grum bled in protest. When the food was ready I passed the bags back to contents. â€œHereâ€™s your food!â€ one of my brothers called out to me. I outstretched hands. I held up the items in question and looked over to the closing up.
111 Never love a writer â€” no, Iâ€™m serious. I know I sound like a hypo crite, writing this to you, proclaiming myself among the others who put word to paper and telling you to listen to me when Iâ€™m really saying you should stay away from us. But you should. If you ever leave this one behind, because that is what we are best at â€” giving life to things that otherwise donâ€™t have it. We are actors and liars at heart, every single one of us. We are good at telling stories and selling them to you with all that heartache, horror, tragedy, shock, romance, and drama. We are experts at destroying a good thing and telling you realize they will one day write about you, both as that ethereal being and the demon who comes to ruin them. If you object to our endings, we will tell you about story progression and how your conclusion has to wrap up your story in a way both satisfying to the reader but that still leaves them with lingering questions. If you ever try to ask us about what those lingering questions are, we will spin you an other tale. It will never end, because neither do our stories. We tell ourselves them everyday in our own heads, hoping theyâ€™ll stick and mean something, meanwhile you will eventually be written out in favor of a better revision. Never love a writer. We will always love our writing more. Never Love A Writer Shannon Sutorius
112 The middle seat divides us like river tongues. Your hand on my lap wonâ€™t buy anything tonight when words from the pale light of your phone burns my eyes the caricature you drew of me has a big nose (welcome to life in a funhouse mirror). Thereâ€™s poison on when they tick on your screen. The little voodoo doll you made of me feels a pinprick in the heart. Leave my lips longing Voodoo Doll David Moore
113 but leave my heart alone. I thought I was the joy on the tip of your tongue: I was the hangnail you wanted to cry about.
114 Pyre Liam Sullivan
115 FADE IN: EXT. BACKYARD DAY An 8 year old LITTLE GIRL with pigtails and a cute yellow sun dress is alone outside playing hopscotch. The Little Girl jumps on the tenth square and sighs. She grabs a few crayons, a piece of candy, a green A.A chip, and a crinkly piece of paper from out of her pocket. SHE LIES ON THE GROUND AND DRAWS A PICTURE. crayons back in her pocket. catching it with her palm and then puts it back in her pocket. She picks up the piece of candy and eats it. She hears a noise from the back of the yard. She quietly creeps over to it and notices... HER FATHER SITTING IN MULCH, SURROUNDED BY EMPTY BEER CANS. The Little Girl depressingly takes out the green A.A chip and tries to give it to him. Her FATHER takes the chip and throws it into the neighborâ€™s yard, laughing hysterically. Drawing of A Real Dad Kayla Elfers
116 The Little Girl takes out her drawing and shows him the drawing of her and him... WITH A CAPTION THAT READS, â€œIâ€™M PROUD OF MY DAD.â€ SHE RIPS THE DRAWING APART AND RUNS INSIDE THE HOUSE. Her Father continues to laugh in his drunken state and plays with the ripped pieces of paper.
117 I am a dyke with a boat. I am a dyke with a pontoon. I am a dyke with a pontoon and a dock. I am a dyke with a dock. I am a dyke with a dock and a tree in the closet. I am a dyke with a dock and a tree in the closet so large that there is no room for me. I am a dyke with a dock and a tree and no closet space. I am a dyke with no closet space. I am a dyke with no closet space and a gate at the front. I am a dyke with a gate at the front with a big chain. I am a dyke with a big chain on the gate to keep you out. I am a dyke with a big chain. I am a dyke with a big chain and a lawn. I am a dyke with a big chain and a lawn you can mow. I am a dyke with a chain and a lawn but no mower. I am a mowerless dyke. Dyke In A Boat Lynne Rhys
118 I am a mowerless dyke with a hot tub. I am a mowerless dyke with a girl in the hot tub. I am a mowerless dyke with a hot girl in the tub. I am a mowerless dyke who writes predictable poetry.
119 But Chloe Tyler was. Chloe was my best friend for a summer. Weâ€™d gone to school together for a while, but never spoke until we started Christian day camp. We ended up sharing a desk after our counselor put all of the girls on one side of a tiny room. â€œYou shouldnâ€™t be think ing about boys,â€ she said. Segregation didnâ€™t stop me from glancing at Josh while our class recited â€œThe Lordâ€™s Prayerâ€. It didnâ€™t stop Chloe either. We both liked him, but she was blonde and thin, and I had watched enough Disney Channel to know that that was better than anything I had to offer. So, I made her promise not to confess her feelings. Josh always sat six rows ahead of us on the school bus, giving us room to pine over him. We admired the loose brown curls that covered the back of his head and waited for him to turn to the right, so we could get a glimpse of his other warm features. He was, in every way, beyond our reach. One day, Chloe got the idea to bring him a little closer to us. â€œWe should kiss,â€ she said casually. â€œI donâ€™t want to kiss you,â€ I replied. I didnâ€™t want to kiss any one. My grandmother had told me that kissing caused diseases and I didnâ€™t want to get sick. â€œCome on,â€ she pleaded, â€œWe would both pretend to be Josh, so we would be kissing him.â€ She didnâ€™t budge. She must have really liked that boy. I donâ€™t remember if I was convinced or just too afraid to say no, but I do remember kissing Chloe. First, we said our wedding vows. We needed a reason to kiss. Then, she put her tongue in my mouth â€œthe way they do it on TV.â€ I wanted to ask her what kind of TV shows she watched. Instead, I closed my eyes and tried to ig nore my motherâ€™s words swirling around in my head, â€œYou kids never want to brush your teeth.â€ mitted herself to the boy she liked. I, on the other hand, had kissed a girl with unusually thick saliva. I Wasnâ€™t Ready For My First Kiss Jamie Thompson
120 On The Run Natalie Archibee
121 A Cafe Associate is Aggravated by Capitalism While Assembling Lattes Salvatore Mule Iâ€™ll disclose some truth, The presence of an artistic form is applied with the right amount of tender pressure to the frothy milk thatâ€™s carefully tucked in, spooning the smooth pour of espresso into the bedding of the eco-friendly grande sized, extremely hot cautioned cup the greedy consumer masses drool over every morning at 6A.M. â€œCan you make it bone dry?â€ â€œDo you sell oat milk?â€ â€œMy latte is more than HALF steamed milk!â€ The arbitrary law that stalks you like a silhouette at dawn will pounce if you donâ€™t lose limbs for capitalism. The constant bickering plunges to my skull, contorting my defenses and suddenly I confront the lingering shadow that hovers over like ominous cumulonimbus on a summerâ€™s most humid afternoon creeping off the horizon. Who will take my Associates now?
122 YOU-nique Edition Weâ€™re nice people.