Page 1 avenue A PUBLICATION OF THE SAINT JOSEPH'S UNIVERSITY

Document Sample
Page 1 avenue A PUBLICATION OF THE SAINT JOSEPH'S UNIVERSITY Powered By Docstoc
					                          avenue



             A
PUBLICATION
OF
THE
SAINT
JOSEPH'S
UNIVERSITY

                 GRADUATE
WRITING
STUDIES
PROGRAM









                                     SPRING
2010

                                                

                                                

                                                

                                                

                                                

    Views
expressed
in
the
works
published
herein
are
the
opinions
of
the
individual
authors

          and
not
necessarily
those
of
Saint
Joseph's
University,
Avenue,
or
its
editors.

               


    editorial
board

               



                

        EDITORS‐IN‐CHIEF

        Kezia
Read
Wolf

        Megan
Larrisey

                

                

                

       ASSOCIATE
EDITORS

       Aaron
Van
Gossen

            Sara
Solt

      Laronnda
Thompson

                

        FACULTY
ADVISOR

       Tenaya
Darlington



                                                                                              



                                            table
of
contents



THE
GAME
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
1

       – Amy
Lewis



PASS
ON:
A
PORTRAIT
OF
A
MAN
NAMED
CARL
D.
SMITH
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.9

       – Donna
S.
Smith



RESPONSE POEM TO “MJ FAN LETTER #782,” BY TERRANCE HAYES . . . . . . . . . . . . . .14
       – Kimberly Anderson

DOMESTICATED . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15
     – Kristen Adams

THE PANTY CLUB PARADE . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 24
      – Susan Maguire Rossman

I AM . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 33
              –      Mark Chalmers

YOU CAN CALL ME B.S., FOR SHORT . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .34
     – Ginger Harris

BECOMING A MAN . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 37
     – Christine Skalka
LOUISE-KAY . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 42
      – Laronnda V. Thompson

THE PERFECT WOMAN . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 44
      – Janea Brachfeld

ONE GOOD DAY WITH BUMMY . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 66
      – Aaron Van Gossen

SOMEONE ELSE’S LIFE . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 69
     – Laura Koenig

PORTRAIT
OF
THE
ARTIST’S
MOTHER
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.

76

      – Colleen
DeFruscio


SMOLDER
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.

.
81

       – Kimberly
Anderson



AN
INTIMATE
AFFAIR
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
83

       – Ann
Zaleski







                                      THE
GAME

                                                   

                                    






Amy
Lewis

                                                   

                                                   

        The
bad
kids
got
it
all
wrong.

        They
didn’t
know
how
to
work
the
system.
Catholic
school
was
a
virtual
playground

for
those
who
did.
The
key
to
unlocking
the
fun
to
be
had
laid
in
subtlety.

        On
the
exterior,
Rachel
was
a
Catholic
school
teacher’s
dream:
her
mousy,
dishwater

blonde
hair,
neatly
parted
down
the
middle
with
well‐cropped
bangs,
had
not
a
drop
of

product
or
a
hint
of
dye
in
it.
It
hung,
combed
and
poker
straight,
in
a
neat,
plain
row
over

her
shoulders
and
down
her
back.
Her
face,
totally
absent
of
makeup,
had
a
childlike

innocence
that
moved
many
to
call
her
a
“Campbell’s
Soup
Kid,”
after
the
plucky
gang
of

children
that
adorned
cans
of
chicken
noodle
and
other
flavors
popular
with
those
under

12.
In
class,
she
spoke
only
when
spoken
to,
and
always
said
“please”
and
“thank
you.”

        What
only
those
closest
to
Rachel
knew
was
that
her
appearance
was
merely
a
ploy

used
to
throw
others
off
her
trail.

        She
was,
by
no
means,
evil.
Nothing
Rachel
did
harmed
anyone
at
the
end
of
the
day.

She
was
merely
looking
for
a
way
to
make
the
school
day
a
little
more
entertaining
for

herself
and
others.
Catholic
school
could
be
an
oppressive
place
if
one
did
not
find
some

mirth
to
relieve
a
little
pressure
from
time
to
time,
and
this
was
Rachel’s
specialty.
She

liked
to
think
she
elevated
the
practice
to
an
art.

        The
key
was
to
turn
the
system
on
itself.
The
same
rigid
rules
that
were
intended
to

impose
order
and
structure
into
the
school
day,
when
turned
upon
themselves
or
used
as
a

guise,
could
make
for
some
interesting
dynamics.

        It
started
as
a
small
experiment.


        Every
morning,
as
the
students
congregated
in
their
homerooms,
the
Pledge
of

Allegiance
and
prayers
were
recited
and
school
announcements
commenced.
The

announcements
covered
the
gambit
of
school
activities,
from
the
plays
to
sporting



   
                                          1

achievements,
to
meeting
details
for
various
extracurricular
clubs.
They
were
delivered
by

Mr.
Morris,
the
school
activities
leader
with
boundless
energy
and
no
memory
for
names.

With
thousands
to
remember
from
year
to
year,
Mr.
Morris
had
long
ago
given
up
on

learning
any,
settling
simply
for
calling
everyone
“team.”

        “Hey,
team!”
he’d
chirp
cheerfully
at
each
student
as
he
marched
down
the
halls.
It

was
impossible
not
to
like
Mr.
Morris.
With
his
coke
bottle
classes,
high‐waisted
brown

slacks,
bottomless
supply
of
white
button‐down
shirts
and
perfectly
shined
shoes,
he
was

one
of
those
teachers
that
one
instantly
knew
would
be
a
“lifer”
at
the
school.


        Mr.
Morris
was
someone
who
had
worked
with
teenagers
for
so
long
that
he
learned

it
was
easiest
to
play
dumb
to
most
things
going
on
around
him,
as
further
investigating

anything
suspicious
would
mean
extra
work
only
to
find
that,
at
worst,
he’d
managed
to
foil

a
crime
not
worth
the
effort.
He
had
faith
in
kids
to
just
be
kids;
maybe
a
little
silliness
here

and
there,
but
nothing
worth
worrying
about.

        Fooling
Mr.
Morris
was
easy.
Evading
those
around
him
was
the
challenge.


        The
school,
in
its
specialist
knowledge
of
child
psychology
and
staff
strengths
and

weaknesses,
had
surrounded
Mr.
Morris
with
a
crack
team
of
professionals,
adept
at

sniffing
out
the
leads
he
dismissed.
The
Activities
Office
had
eyes
everywhere,
but
none

more
terrifying
than
those
belonging
to
Sister
Veronica,
who
was
better
known
as
“Sister

Iron
Curls”
to
the
student
body.


        Sister
Iron
Curls
was
the
textbook
definition
of
scary
school
nun.
She
seemed
to
be
6

feet
tall
and
was
built
like
a
steel
girder
–
solid,
strong,
and
without
a
hint
of
a
womanly

curve
to
her.
Senior
football
players
wilted
in
her
presence.
She
need
not
speak
a
word.
Her

evil
death
stare
was
enough
to
melt
their
souls
and
send
them
scurrying
for
safety.


        Her
perch
of
righteousness,
otherwise
known
as
her
desk,
gave
her
full
view
of
both

the
interior
of
the
Activities
Office
and
a
good
deal
of
the
hallway
leading
to
it.
When
the

office
door
was
open,
students
knew
to
behave
themselves
within
the
entire
stretch
of
the

corridor,
as
she,
no
doubt,
had
vision
more
acute
than
those
operating
in
the
mortal
realm

and
could
hone
in
on
a
wayward
teenager
even
in
a
crowd,
quite
possibly
willing
him
or

her
to
hell
in
an
instant.




   
                                            2

        The
challenge
was
too
intriguing
to
resist.
Rachel
felt
herself
itching
to
test
the

infrastructure
so
carefully
created
by
the
school.

        What
Rachel
had
discovered
in
her
time
in
Catholic
school
was
that
outward
order

elicited
trust.
Those
who
appeared
to
be
good
children
were
seldom
questioned
about
their

motives
or
location.
Essential
to
being
perceived
as
an
upstanding
citizen
was
strict

adherence
to
dress
code,
and
taking
the
task
one
was
completing
entirely
too
seriously,
as

this
was
a
sign
of
diligence.

        Rachel’s
plain
and
innocent
appearance
fought
half
of
the
battle
for
her.
All
that

remained
was
the
conviction
to
follow
through
with
the
task
at
hand.

        On
Monday
morning,
Rachel
entered
the
School
Activities
office
with
several
slips
of

paper
in
her
hand.
As
she
passed
Sister
Iron
Curls
and
the
other
office
workers,
she
knew

she
had
succeeded
in
not
arousing
their
suspicions.
With
her
tucked‐in
shirt
tails,

regulation‐length
skirt,
and
top‐buttoned
blouse,
she
was
clearly
a
representative
of
Christ,

and,
therefore,
raised
no
further
alarm.
She
stopped
briefly
before
the
box
for
the

announcements,
calmly
placed
her
slips
of
paper
inside,
and
exited
the
office
in
a

remarkably
unremarkable
manner.
Now,
all
she
had
to
do
was
wait.

        That
morning,
Rachel
waited
to
see
if
her
experiment
was
a
success.
Allegiance
was

pledged,
prayers
were
recited,
and
Mr.
Morris
began
the
announcements.
There
were
the

usual:
sports
victories,
fund
raiser
promotions,
and
club
meeting
changes.
Then,
the

following
made
the
three
or
four
students
still
listening
and
one
or
two
who
weren’t
crinkle

their
faces
in
puzzlement:

        “And
a
final
note
from
the
dance
team:
we
can
dance
if
we
want
to.
We
can
leave

your
friends
behind.
’Cause
your
friends
don’t
dance
and
if
they
don’t
dance,
well,
they’re

no
friends
of
mine.”

        Mr.
Morris
slowed
his
reading
and
dropped
his
voice
off
as
the
bizarre
nature
of
the

announcement
washed
over
him
and
he
attempted
to
understand
where
the
club
who
had

made
the
submission
was
going
with
it.
When
he
was
finished,
he
merely
made
a
chortle
of

confusion
then
signed
off
in
his
usual
manner.
There
were
a
few
stifled
giggles,
but
the

entire
event
went
largely
unnoticed.




   
                                          3

        Even
for
Rachel,
the
moment
itself
was
relatively
unimportant,
but
it
opened
a

world
of
possibilities.

        She
continued
to
stretch
her
muscles
over
the
coming
weeks,
stealing
official

notifications
from
various
offices
and
using
them
to
invite
random
people
to
attend

meetings
that
did
not
exist
in
the
same
room
at
the
same
time,
relying
on
Catholic
school

obedience
to
compel
them
to
attend.
She
left
cries
for
help
to
Sister
Mary,
a
devout
and

fragile
nun
in
the
School
Ministry
Office,
from
one
student
with
a
particularly
abrasive

personality,
confessing
to
having
a
Messiah
complex.

        But
it
all
seemed
somehow
empty
and
meaningless
to
her
when
all
was
said
and

done.

        Then
she
found
her
calling.


        Sister
Pat’s
religion
class
had
been
a
relatively
uneventful
part
of
her
day
for
several

months.
Sister
Pat
worked
in
the
disciplinarian
office,
but
everyone
knew
that
she
was
the

disciplinarian’s
office.
All
of
4
foot
9,
with
birdlike
features
and
a
frail
frame,
Sister
knew

how
to
crush
a
child’s
spirit
in
a
single
breath.
Even
the
most
hardened
students
were

petrified
into
total
submission
for
the
entirety
of
her
class,
as
to
get
on
her
bad
side
was
to

willingly
dive
into
the
bowels
of
hell
for
the
remainder
of
one’s
high
school
career.

        Those
foolish
enough
to
fly
into
Sister
Pat’s
radar
could
never
escape
reach.
From

the
moment
those
students
became
known
entities
to
her,
the
diminutive
nun
did
all
she

could
to
make
them
rue
the
day
they
had
allowed
themselves
to
dance
with
the
devil,
for

from
that
moment
forward,
no
unshaven
whisker,
no
male
hair
touching
his
collar,
not
a

centimeter
of
knee
uncovered
by
skirt,
and
not
an
earring
larger
than
a
quarter
went

without
her
detection.
The
offending
parties
were
then
tracked
and
hunted
to
whichever

classroom
they
were
headed
and
summarily
ripped
from
the
safety
of
their
peers
and

removed
for
an
undetermined
amount
of
time,
with
no
guarantee
of
return.


        Despite
having
a
full
teaching
schedule,
Sister
Pat
always
found
the
time
to
stalk
her

prey,
and
her
appearance
at
the
doorway
of
a
classroom
sent
a
shiver
down
every
spine
in

the
room
and
made
even
the
most
hedonistic
pupils
cross
themselves
internally
in
the

hopes
the
dark
angel
would
pass
them
over.




   
                                           4

         One
day,
whilst
taking
a
break
from
her
crusade
for
vengeance,
Sister
found
the
time

to
teach
her
3rd
period
religion
class.
In
the
midst
of
detailing
the
Stations
of
the
Cross,

Sister
stopped
dead
in
her
tracks.
The
absence
of
her
voice
and
her
stillness
caused
unease

around
the
entire
room.
Which
of
the
students
had
she
honed
in
on?
Who
had
become
the

walking
dead?

         Everyone
tried
to
follow
her
gaze
whilst
simultaneously
avoiding
eye
contact
in
fear

she
would
turn
them
to
stone.
Then,
she
began
to
float
on
her
cloud
of
austerity
toward
the

offending
party.
It
was
a
girl
two
rows
back
from
Rachel.
She
had
tragically
attempted
to

pass
a
note
in
Sister’s
class,
not
realizing
that
Sister’s
internal
tracking
devices
could
detect

evil
within
a
three
mile
radius.
The
note
was
swiftly
seized
as
the
young
girl
sat
frozen
in

horror.

         Sister
proceeded
to
unfold
the
note,
reading
its
contents
aloud
for
the
entire
class.

There
was
nothing
particularly
steamy
or
noteworthy
in
it,
but
the
move
had
succeeded
in

thoroughly
mortifying
its
author.
As
Sister
floated
back
to
the
front
of
the
room,
she

explained
that
anyone
stupid
enough
to
pass
notes
in
her
room
would
have
their
work
read

to
the
class,
regardless
of
how
inappropriate
or
vulgar
the
content.

         With
that,
the
gauntlet
had
been
thrown
for
Rachel.


         “I
will
break
you,
Sister
Pat,”
she
thought.

         Rachel
actually
liked
Sister,
for
in
her
unrelenting
quest
to
quell
the
flames
of
evil

was
a
sick
and
twisted
humor
the
likes
of
which
made
for
memorable
stories.
A
few
years

before
Rachel
had
entered
the
school
–
when
it
was
not
yet
coed
–
Sister
made
a
legendary

strike:

         A
young
girl,
clearly
in
need
of
some
attention,
had
gotten
into
the
habit
of
not

wearing
underwear
to
school.
During
the
change
of
classes,
the
story
goes,
the
“lady”
in

question
would
walk
past
the
iron
gates
separating
the
boys’
side
from
the
school
from
the

girls’
side
and
lift
her
skirt
to
give
the
“gentlemen”
on
the
other
side
a
treat.


         Such
a
flagrant
display
of
unchristian
behavior
was
like
chum
to
a
shark
for
Sister

Pat.
She
allowed
the
show
to
play
out
and
followed
the
girl
from
a
distance
to
her
next

class,
knowing
that
to
apprehend
criminals
immediately
was
nowhere
near
as
soul

crushing
as
allowing
them
to
think
they
got
away
with
their
evil
deed
for
a
little
while.



   
                                            5

         Sister
waited
while
the
girl’s
class
settled
in
and
all
students
were
accounted
for.

Then
she
entered
the
room,
asked
the
teacher
to
excuse
her,
called
the
girl
to
the
front
of

the
room,
and
lifted
her
skirt
up
for
an
entire
classroom
of
shocked
pupils.
With
a
mere,
“I

thought
so.
Come
with
me,”
Sister
extracted
the
horrified
offender
out
of
the
room,
never
to

be
seen
again.

         How
much
of
the
buzz
surrounding
Sister
was
real
and
how
much
was
the
product

of
teenage
folklore
was
difficult
to
determine,
but
Rachel
found
in
her
a
worthy
and

respectable
adversary.

         Though
the
idea
of
having
a
nun
read
filth
was
a
momentary
temptation
for
Rachel,

she
knew
that
would
only
anger
Sister
Pat
and
make
life
miserable
for
everyone.
To

confuse
and
unsettle
her,
though.
That
could
provide
some
entertainment.

         Rachel’s
quest
began.
She
could
not
do
it
on
her
own,
as
Sister
knew
her

handwriting
from
having
her
in
class,
so
she
recruited
her
friend,
Janette.
Together,
the
two

worked
on
creating
a
piece
just
odd
enough
to
throw
Sister
Pat
off
without
angering
her

into
scaling
a
full‐fledged
investigation.
When
they
were
satisfied
they
had
accomplished

this,
Janette
put
words
to
paper.
Rachel
folded
the
paper
so
that
it
screamed
“note”
and

carried
it
to
class.

         As
she
sat
down
at
her
desk
and
put
her
bag
down,
she
carefully
nudged
the
note
out

into
the
aisle
and
waited.
About
ten
minutes
into
class,
Sister
began
a
sentence
quite

differently
than
she
ended
it.

         “Which
is
why
Joseph
of
Arimathea
–
what
is
this
here?”

         The
class
turned
in
confusion,
wondering
who
had
been
imprudent
enough
to
entice

the
little
nun
to
strike.
They
followed
her
gaze
as
she
zeroed
in
on
the
offending
article
and

plucked
it
from
the
ground.

         “Who
does
this
belong
to?”

         Silence.
No
one
claimed
the
note.
Rachel
mimicked
their
expressions
of
curiosity
and

puzzlement
beautifully.

         “Well,
then.
Let’s
just
see
what
this
has
to
say,”
Sister
said
smugly,
sure
the
contents

of
the
note
would
reveal
its
author.
She
unfolded
it
and
read:
“I
think
that
I
shall
never
see
a




   
                                            6

poem
as
lovely
as
a
tree.
Unless,
of
course,
the
tree
were
wearing
a
dress.
That
would
be

real
nice.
Mmmmmmm.”

        The
class
allowed
a
slow
wave
of
confused
giggles
to
wash
over
the
room
nervously,

as
they
scanned
to
see
who
had
penned
the
odd
writing.
Nothing.
No
one
budged.


        Sister
studied
the
piece
again
and
again,
unsure
of
how
to
proceed.


        “Who
would
write
something
like
this?
What
does
it
mean?
Dana!”
she
asked

accusingly,
looking
at
one
of
her
usual
suspects.


        Dana
vehemently
denied,
and
her
handwriting
did
not
match.
The
same
was
true
of

the
next
four
people
to
whom
she
directed
her
steely
gaze.
Indeed,
Sister
knew
she
was

grasping
at
straws
and
would
soon
begin
to
lose
her
stock
as
an
omniscient
soldier
for
the

Lord,
so
she
delivered
a
general
threat
of
misfortune
to
befall
the
guilty
and
moved
on
with

her
lesson.

        Seeing
Sister
so
thrown,
so
baffled,
was
exquisite.
Watching
her
teach
in
autopilot

whilst
trying
to
make
sense
of
what
just
occurred
and
what
it
could
mean
was
fascinating.

        Rachel
had
to
have
more.

        Study
halls
with
Janette
became
dedicated
to
producing
more
intricate
and

disturbing
literature
for
Sister
Pat.
The
two
girls
separated
themselves
from
others,

knowing
that
too
many
people
being
in
on
the
joke
would
surely
cause
its
demise
and

eternal
damnation
for
its
coconspirators.


        If
either
of
the
girls
put
as
much
care
and
craft
into
their
school
work,
they
would

have
been
given
full
scholarships
to
Ivy
League
colleges.
Each
word,
each
subtle
nuance
and

turn
of
phrase
was
painstakingly
selected
and
polished
for
greatest
effect.
Not
a
syllable

was
to
be
wasted.

        With
each
note,
Sister
allowed
cracks
to
appear
in
her
façade.
It
was
unclear
which

aspect
of
the
tomes
was
most
upsetting
to
her
–
their
peculiar
content?
Their
seeming

senselessness?
The
fact
that
should
could
not,
for
the
life
of
her,
imagine
who
penned
them?

        After
reading
note
number
six,
which
said
merely:
“I’ve
tried
writing
on
a
raven
and

can
conclude
that
a
raven
is
not
at
all
like
a
writing
desk,”
Sister
began
to
show
signs
of
the

strain.
Rachel
almost
felt
bad
for
a
minute
as
the
nun
removed
her
glasses,
rubbed
the




   
                                           7

bridge
of
her
nose
with
her
eyes
shut
and
said
with
a
quiver
in
her
voice,
“Honestly.
I
just

don’t
understand
what
is
wrong
with
you
kids.
I
just
don’t
understand.”

        She
replaced
her
glasses,
let
out
a
heavy
sigh,
and
returned
to
the
front
of
the

classroom
with
defeat
in
her
gait.

        While
the
class
had
enjoyed
the
notes
and
the
distraction
they
provided
until
now,
it

was
seeing
their
effect
on
Sister’s
countenance
that
really
got
them
excited.
Eager
talk

began
to
surround
the
issue
as
people
tried
to
figure
out
who
was
responsible
for
the
notes.

Many
wanted
to
offer
suggestions
for
future
content.
Most
of
the
suggestions
centered
on

getting
Sister
to
say
a
string
of
four‐letter
expletives.

        Rachel
knew
the
game
had
to
end.
There
was
too
much
interest
in
it
for
the

anonymity
to
remain
now,
and
she
did
not
want
to
push
Sister
Pat
any
further.
Rachel
just

wanted
to
see
if
she
could
get
a
peek
beyond
the
steadfast
exterior
she
had
held
for
so
long.

Having
done
that,
the
thrill
was
gone.

        The
following
week,
a
copycat
author
was
busted
in
the
act
of
dropping
a
new
note.

Sister
did
not
even
bother
reading
this
one
aloud;
she
simply
condemned
the
boy
to
her

office
“to
be
dealt
with
after
class,”
and
reasserted
her
authority
as
one
who
could
not
be

duped.

        For
all
parties
involved,
it
was
a
satisfying
resolution.
Sister
seemed
to
have
caught

her
foe,
the
boy,
after
serving
a
long
stint
in
detention,
earned
the
respect
of
his
peers
for

throwing
Sister
off
for
several
weeks,
and
Rachel
had
succeeded
in
her
experiment.

        Rachel
was
pretty
sure
that
Sister
Pat
knew
she
had
not
captured
the
real

perpetrator.
After
all,
she
had
been
around
the
block
enough
times
to
know
that
someone

around
whom
so
much
interest
has
been
generated
would
be
more
careful
than
the
boy

who
eventually
took
the
blame.
Perhaps
that
thought
even
kept
her
awake
at
night.
The

important
thing
is
that
the
students
thought
she
had
succeeded,
restoring
her
street
cred

again.

        As
for
Rachel,
she
was
over
the
whole
thing.
After
carefully
studying
Brother
Pat’s

schedule
the
last
few
days,
she
was
beginning
to
hatch
a
new
game
in
her
mind…








   
                                          8



                            PASS
ON:

            A
PORTRAIT
OF
A
MAN
NAMED
CARL
D.
SMITH

                                                

                                      Donna
S.
Smith





         He
lifts
the
lid
from
the
musty
shoebox.
Flecks
of
color
catch
my
eye.
Sixty
years
old

yet
they
glitter
like
new.
I
slide
my
fingers
deep
into
the
cool
mounds
of
marbles,
rolling

them
over
my
knuckles,
creating
avalanches
of
glass.
I
wildly
grab
and
sift
the
marbles
in

handfuls
because
I
am
ten,
and
they
feel
neat.
I
carefully
hold
some
up
to
the
light,

inspecting
them
like
ancient
artifacts,
because
I
am
ten,
and
they
are
older,
much
older
than

me.
I
lift
a
milky
white
one,
drizzled
with
an
orange
like
French
dressing,
and
slowly
turn
it

in
the
light
before
tossing
it
carelessly
back
into
the
heap
so
I
can
run
my
hands
through

again.
My
grandfather
leans
over
the
box
with
me,
telling
story
after
story
of
victories
on

the
playground
as
I
excavate.
I
unearth
a
clear
one
with
a
twist
of
aqua
through
the
center,

a
squirt
of
Crest
toothpaste
encased
forever
in
a
frozen
bubble,
and
ask
if
I
can
keep
it.
I
dig

in
further
and
am
lost,
lost
in
the
world
of
my
grandfather’s
childhood,
the
remnants
of

which
are
tattered
and
faded
except
for
this
box
that
he
just
pulled
out
from
under
his
bed.

The
1930s
in
Technicolor,
under
his
bed
all
this
time.


         The
dusty
schoolyard.
The
smell
of
pine
trees.
No
longer
am
I
on
the
bedroom
floor.

I
am
at
a
place
just
down
the
road,
six
decades
and
two
miles
away,
1937,
Lake
Noxen

Elementary,
and
I
hear
the
creek
where
boys
find
arrowheads
after
school,
and
I
see
a

group
of
children
huddled
around
a
circle
in
the
dirt,
and
I
know
what
this
game
looks
like

because
I
have
watched
Little
House
on
the
Prairie,
and
I
see
a
boy
crouched
over,
eyeing
it

up,
aiming
his
shooter,
fingernail
centered,
ready
to
flick,
onlookers
silent,
boy
holding
his

breath.
Crack.
It’s
Grampy,
and
he
looks
like
Albert
Ingalls,
in
my
mind
if
not
in
real
life,
and

he
just
won
that
red
and
black
one
right
there.




    
                                           9


       “That
was
my
favorite
shooter.”
I
look
up.
He
sighs,
leans
against
the
bed.
Something

on
his
face
says
that
he
too
is
at
Lake
Noxen
Elementary.
And
for
a
moment,
he
too
is
ten.



                                       ………………………….

                                                 


       You
would
have
liked
him.
Everybody
liked
him.
There
wasn’t
much
not
to
like.
He

lived
with
Gram
in
the
house
he
built
in
Ruggles
Hollow
in
the
woods
of
Northeastern

Pennsylvania,
near
where
they
grew
up,
near
where
I
grew
up.
Grampy
was
calm,
quiet,
a

bit
too
patient,
and
ate
with
a
special
fork
that
he
had
taken
from
Gram’s
silverware
drawer

and
sharpened
himself.
He
was
a
packrat,
and
he
smelled
like
gasoline
and
fresh
soil;
his

clothes
had
grass
stains
and
grease
stains
that
made
him
look
like
a
hero
who
wasn’t
afraid

to
fix
anything.
Grampy
spoke
slowly,
and
his
stories
came
out
in
increments,
lasting
all

afternoon
when
we
visited
each
Sunday.
Sometimes
he
would
begin
a
sentence
and
finish
it

ten
minutes
later,
because
he
took
breaks
in
between
words
to
talk
about
something
else
or

watch
his
grandchildren
play.
My
grandfather
was
a
saint—not
the
otherworldly
Catholic

statue
kind,
but
the
down‐home
Billy
Graham
kind,
whistling
hymns
as
he
walked
through

the
woods,
thumbing
through
his
worn‐out
Bible
to
the
old‐time
stories
that
he
knew
so

well,
imploring
God
on
his
knees
each
night,
driving
to
the
little
country
church
with
his

family
on
Sunday
mornings
in
his
shiny
red
Ford.


        He
had
seven
grandchildren,
but
was
called
Grampy
by
at
least
half
a
dozen
other

children
who
mingled
with
his
own
grandkids.
I
think
my
friends
really
believed
that
he

was
somehow
their
grandfather
too,
because
he
included
them
in
our
board
games
and

Sunday
dinner
discussions.
Gentleness
came
through
in
all
he
did,
except
the
day
three

grandsons
trampled
over
his
patch
of
onions,
but
even
that
caused
more
of
an
inner

seething
that
only
showed
in
his
eyes.
Kind
to
children,
kind
to
nature,
kind
to
relatives
and

strangers
alike.
Loved
his
wife
of
half
a
century
most
of
all.
Wasn’t
much
of
a
cat
person,
but

never
did
any
harm
by
them,
and
he
only
threatened
to
shoot
a
dog
once,
just
to
emphasize

to
me
that
no,
he
certainly
would
not
keep
the
stray
as
a
house
pet.
Grampy
taught
his

granddaughters
how
to
hold
a
bat,
and
he
was
left‐handed—so
proud
of
my
baby
sister,

who
was
left‐handed
like
him—but
he
taught
us
to
hold
it
opposite
of
the
way
he
did,
and



   
                                          10

tossed
a
big
inflated
ball
at
us
over
and
over
until
we
finally
hit
it
and
it
rolled
down
the
hill

behind
him,
and
we
giggled
hysterically
because
he
had
to
run
down
and
get
it,
every
single

time,
not
that
we
hit
it
very
often.
He
just
chuckled,
tossing
the
ball
at
us
again.
That
was

Grampy.
And
you
would
have
liked
him.

        Grampy
provided
me
with
a
connection
to
the
past.
He
showed
me
unique
and
vivid

glimpses
into
his
past,
my
father’s
past,
my
own
past,
our
ancestors’
past,
and
his

experiences
from
the
Christians’
past
and
America’s
past.
It
never
felt
like
he
was
far
from

history,
almost
as
if
he
kept
one
foot
back
there
just
so
he
could
revisit
it
and
share
it
with

my
little
generation
that
scurried
around
his
yard
with
new‐fangled
Skip‐Its
and
digital

pets.
He
spent
his
time
in
the
yard
with
antique
tools
from
different
decades
that
hung
on

his
basement
walls
like
a
timeline
from
the
1900s
to
the
new
millennium.
He
could
tell

stories
of
people
born
at
the
turn
of
the
century,
holding
up
tin‐type
photographs
of
scary

ancestors
who
made
moonshine
and
wore
linsey‐woolsey.
He
saw
wars,
the
poodle‐skirt

phase,
the
tie‐dye
days,
and
the
switch
from
black‐and‐white
to
color
television.
He
told

stories
of
everything,
and
he
always
remembered
the
names
of
people
in
his
stories,
and
he

always
had
a
photograph
to
correspond
with
the
story,
usually
of
himself
and
whichever

new
car
he
had
gotten
at
the
time.
He
told
me
where
we
came
from—we
Smiths—and
what

our
Smith
clan
was
like,
the
good
and
the
bad.
He
was
my
History
Channel,
and
his
stories

came
out
slowly,
in
increments.
But
they
came
out.





       He
met
my
grandmother
at
a
square
dance.
I
guess
that
was
normal
back
then,
in

these
parts,
in
this
backwoods
corner
of
Pennsylvania
pocked
with
old
towns.
It
was
in
the

little
white
hall
in
the
center
of
town,
and
he
was
about
twenty‐four.
She
was
a
tiny
twenty‐
year‐old
with
blue
eyes
that
he
would
gaze
into
for
the
next
fifty
years,
in
sickness
and
in

health,
in
good
times
and
in
bad,
from
that
day
forward,
till
death
did
them
part.
I
guess
it

happened
just
like
that.
He
swung
that
partner
‘round
and
‘round,
then
carried
her
across

the
threshold,
from
“do‐si‐do”
to
“I
do”
in
a
matter
of
months.
His
dance
partner
became
his

life
partner,
and
together
they
experienced
sunny
days
and
stormy
nights,
the
arrival
of

three
beautiful
children
succeeded
by
years
of
birthday
cakes,
trick‐or‐treating,
family

vacations,
graduations,
weddings,
and
grandbabies.
But
always
by
Gram’s
side,
always

present,
always
attentive.
Semper
fidelis.




   
                                            11

        He
kept
that
family
together
and
safe,
and
when
it
came
time
to
let
his
children
go
he

relented;
he
let
go,
but
not
emotionally.
When
his
girls’
adventures
took
them
across
state

lines,
he
let
them
soar,
but
lived
wounded,
because
Smiths
hate
goodbyes,
and
he
would

ache
from
their
absence
until
his
last
breath.
Lying
in
a
hospital
bed
near
death,
he
opened

his
eyes
from
a
dream
and
whispered,
in
a
raspy
voice,
“I
thought
my
girls
were
here.
They

were
little
again.”
His
quivering
hand
stretched
out
and
patted
two
imaginary
heads,

indicating
how
small
and
how
near
they
were
to
that
father
who
did
not
want
to
let
go,
who

clung
with
whitened
knuckles
to
the
family
and
faces
that
he
cared
for
so
deeply.

        I
was
sixteen
when
Grampy
finally
had
to
let
go.
He
wasn’t
afraid
of
death,
but
he

resented
being
rendered
helpless
by
disease.
While
cancer
stole
his
breath
and
dignity,
he

pounded
his
fists
on
the
dining
room
table
in
frustration.
When
he
could
no
longer
go

outside,
he
sat
on
the
couch,
stiffly,
covered
in
a
fleece
blanket
reading
C.S.
Lewis.
His

stories
faded
with
his
strength,
but
I
didn’t
notice.
I
was
sixteen,
and
I
thought
I
was
busy.
I

had
teenage
stress
and
teenage
fun,
and
I
was
afraid
he
was
going
to
die
while
I
was
in
the

house
so
I
stopped
visiting,
because
I
was
sixteen
and
it
was
scary,
much
scarier
than
I

cared
to
think
about.
So
one
Sunday
afternoon,
I
kissed
him
goodbye,
like
I
had
done
on
so

many
Sunday
afternoons,
and
I
knew
I
couldn’t
return
until
it
was
over,
I
knew
I
would

never
see
him
there
again,
but
he
thought
I
was
coming
back.
“Bye
bye,
Don,”
he
exhaled

heavily.
And
out
I
went.
And
something
wrenched
inside
me
as
that
door
clicked
shut,
a

loyalty
that
had
been
imbedded
in
me
since
birth,
a
love
revived,
a
grip
I
now
had
to
loosen

just
like
Grampy
had
to
do,
and
a
pain
shot
through
me
because
Smiths
hate
goodbyes,
and

I
am
Grampy’s
granddaughter,
who
never
wanted
to
let
go,
who
had
to
let
him
soar.

        

                                        ………………………….

                                                 


       Grampy
saw
a
UFO
once.
He
wasn’t
even
crazy.
He
didn’t
even
believe
in
UFOs
until

he
saw
one
hovering
above
his
car.
I’m
not
sure
he
even
believed
in
them
after
he
saw
it,

but
he
saw
something,
and
we’ve
never
been
able
to
quite
figure
that
one
out,
so
we
just

pass
it
on
as
family
legend.
“It
was
a
giant
rectangular
thing
with
lights,”
he
would
say

calmly,
as
if
this
were
an
everyday
sighting
for
him,
“and
it
floated
silently—didn’t
make



   
                                           12

any
sound
at
all.”
And
each
time
he
told
it,
our
mouths
would
drop
open,
and
the
questions

would
flow
until
finally
he
would
throw
up
his
hands.
“I
don’t
know
what
it
was
or
where
it

was
going
or
what
was
inside!
I
just
got
out
of
my
car,
looked
up
at
it,
got
back
in
my
car,

slammed
the
door,
and
took
off!”
And
these
are
the
things
we
remember.
This
was
one

man’s
life
in
Ruggles
Hollow.
He
ate
salt
on
everything.
He
checked
the
thermometer

religiously.
When
I
see
his
headstone,
I
remember
things,
things
that
don’t
really
matter
but

that
make
him
a
person
rather
than
just
another
inscription.
When
the
last
of
his

grandchildren
passes
on,
Grampy’s
headstone
in
Ruggles
Hollow
will
become
insignificant.

It
will
mark
the
grave
of
an
unknown
man,
nothing
interesting,
just
an
old
man,
just

another
Smith.
Unnoticed,
it
will
be
passed
by,
because
it
holds
secrets
visitors
can
never

decipher
or
unearth,
as
do
all
headstones
eventually,
so
we
pass
them
by.
But
what
if
a

portrait
were
left?
Not
of
his
face,
perhaps,
but
of
his
character,
his
life,
his
quirks,
and
his

fears.
What
if,
when
memories
are
extinguished
and
eyewitnesses
vanish,
we
could
still

discover
the
person
beneath
the
inscription?
What
could
be
gained
if
we
saw
more
than

just
his
name,
or
all
their
names?
Here
lies
Carl
D.
Smith,
and
oh,
did
he
tell
stories…





   
                                           13

                       RESPONSE
POEM
TO


            “MJ
FAN
LETTER
#782,”
BY
TERRANCE
HAYES

                                              

                                  Kimberly
Anderson

                                              

                                              

Remember
the
time…

I
picked
my
curls
out
to
fro
like
yours,
it
never
worked,
we
didn’t
sprout
from
the
same

follicle
bud.
Growing
up
everyone
said
I
looked
like
your
sister,
but
I
wanted
to
be
you.

Either
way
your
noses
don’t
really
match
mine.
I’ll
admit
it,
I
practiced
your
dance
but
only

on
wet
tiled
floors,
only
after
baths,
only
after
I
washed
away
the
day’s
insecurities.
You

enlightened
my
politics,
revealing
the
massacre
of
lies
Dom
Sneddon
convinced
America
to

believe.
I
never
did.
Because
you
know
that
I
know
“they
don’t
really
care
about
us.”
My

mother
bought
me
that
disk
set
and
I
sat
for
hours
up
in
my
room
watching
the
CD
hum

along
the
blade
of
my
player’s
laser.
I
traced
my
fingers
over
the
bulk
of
your
words
and

made
them
mine.
We
made
it
to
every
party
together,
dancing
around
in
my
room
before
or

driving
back
from
a
bash
after.
I
knew
every
note,
every
squeal.
And
so
I
abandoned
you
for

a
few
years,
I’m
sorry.
Your
masks
frightened
me
and
I
didn’t
know
how
to
face
who
you’d

melted
into.
And
when
I
read
that
you
had
gone,
I
convinced
myself
that
MJ
was
Michael

Jordan.
I’d
never
dreamt
the
KOP
would
be
put
to
sleep
like
a
cat,
you
were
supposed
to

influence
my
children.







   
                                         14

                                    DOMESTICATED

                                                

                                      Kristen
Adams

                                                


        “Be
vewy,
vewy
quiet.
I’m
hunting
wabbits!”
The
voice
of
the
hapless
Elmer
Fudd

drifts
down
to
me
from
someplace
above.
Where
the
hell
am
I?
Shaking
my
head,
I
try
to

make
sense
of
what
I’m
hearing,
but
only
succeed
in
discovering
a
tremendous
pain
in
my

head.
God,
it’s
excruciating!
Like
a
million
pounds
of
pressure
trapped
within
the
confines

of
my
skull,
pushing
against
the
bone,
pounding
against
my
brain,
fighting
to
get
out
of
its

prison.
I
screw
my
eyes
tightly
shut,
fending
off
the
intense
burn
of
bile
screaming
up
into

my
throat.



        Breathing
in
short
gasps
of
air,
I
suddenly
realize
that
the
cry
of
pain
I
emitted
never

actually
made
a
sound.
My
eyes
shoot
open.
This
time,
I
ignore
the
nausea,
and
attempt
to

prod
my
tongue
against
the
substance
pressing
against
my
mouth,
rendering
me
silent.

Duct
tape?

Packing
tape?
Whatever
it
is,
there’s
no
possibility
of
me
making
a
sound.
But

why
is
my
mouth
taped
shut?
Where
the
fuck
am
I?!



        The
soft
blast
of
Elmer’s
shotgun,
his
mumbled,
“Dwat
that
wabbit,”
and
the
muted

sounds
of
laughter
interrupt
my
thoughts,
and
just
as
quickly
as
it
had
disappeared,
the

dizziness
and
nausea
return,
and
win
out
over
my
fear.

Sitting
in
the
chair,
I
fight
to
keep

my
eyes
open.

But
it’s
as
if
two
tiny
anvils
are
clinging
to
my
eyelids,
and
they
slam
shut.

                                         ‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐

        
My
eyelids
flutter
open.
How
long
have
I
been
sitting
here?
What
time
is
it?
Squinting

isn’t
helpful
in
seeing
through
the
cloudy
dizziness
that
turns
the
room
into
a
swirling,

spinning
mass
of
shapes
and
colors.
Warding
off
the
nausea
that
suddenly
forces
its
way

into
the
pit
of
my
stomach,
I
try
squeezing
my
eyes
shut.
With
my
vision
gone,
I’m
able
to

focus
on
other
sensations.
My
body
feels
completely
weighted
down,
as
if
a
chainmail

blanket
lay
on
top
of
me.
Inhaling
deeply,
I
pray
not
to
throw
up.
When
did
I
become
such
a

wimp?!




   
                                           15

        Suddenly,
a
movement
out
of
the
corner
of
my
eye
distracts
me,
a
shift
of
light
and

dark.
Craning
my
head
to
the
right,
ignoring
the
intense
pressure
inside
of
my
head,
I
see

nothing
but
the
wall.
I
try
to
force
my
eyes
to
focus,
running
them
up
and
down
the
various

pieces
of
wood,
taking
in
the
vertical
and
horizontal
lines
and
patterns
they
made...
there
it

is!
A
small
warp
in
a
piece
of
the
drywall,
creating
a
tiny
gap,
where
light
glimmers.
I

narrow
in
on
that
gap,
waiting
for
the
movement
again,
but
the
heaviness
of
sleep
returns.
I

need
to
stay
awake
just
a
little
bit
longer.
I
need
to
know
what
is
out
there.

        Slap,
slap,
slap,
slap
–
the
sound
of
rubber
soles
hitting
the
floor.
Someone
is
outside

of
this
room.

Listening
carefully,
I
notice
the
shuffling
of
feet
and
the
whispers
of
cloth

brushing
against
one
another,
on
the
other
side
of
the
wall.
A
soft
clang
every
so
often
is

followed
by
the
whine
of
a
knob
or
buttons
being
turned,
and
then
the
swish,
swish
of

water
sloshing
around,
and
a
mechanical
vibration
tickling
the
bottom
of
my
feet.


        This
is
too
much.
I
know
I’m
somewhere
in
a
house,
a
basement?
I
know
whoever
is
out

there
likes
cartoons,
and…
has
a
washing
machine
outside
of
my
room?
I
don’t
understand.

Maybe
if
I
sleep
a
little
bit
longer…

                                            ‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐

        I
open
my
eyes,
already
preparing
myself
for
the
nausea.

Maybe
if
I
focus
on
my

breathing
–

long
breath
in
through
my
nose,
and,
even
longer,
emptying
breaths
out.
I
focus

on
a
spot
on
the
wall,
until
the
nausea
and
dizziness
vanish,
at
last.
I
suddenly
become
fully

aware
of
my
body
and
its
surroundings.
Everything
moves
into
sharp,
clear
focus.




       As
I
take
in
the
room,
I
notice
for
the
first
time
just
how
barren
it
is.
The
ceiling
and

walls
are
unfinished.
There’s
naked
wood
facing
me
in
all
directions.
I
can
see
that
the
far

side
of
the
wood
supports
drywall.
The
floor,
too,
is
unfinished.
Cold,
gray
concrete
lies

beneath
my
bare
feet.

Gazing
at
them,
sockless
and
shoeless,
a
cold
chill
runs
down
my

spine
that
has
nothing
to
do
with
the
cool
concrete
below.
Taking
a
deep
breath,
I
slowly

inspect
the
rest
of
my
body.


       A
rope,
thicker
than
any
I’ve
ever
seen
before,
snakes
its
way
around
my
calves
and

thighs.
Another
lashes
my
torso
to
the
chair
I
sit
in.
Still
another
winds
its
way
around
my

bound
torso,
fastening
my
arms
tightly
behind
the
back
of
the
chair.
I
wriggle
my
fingers,




   
                                           16

only
to
discover
that
my
wrists
and
hands
are
taped
together
with
the
same
substance
that

enforces
my
silence.

         But
the
most
terrifying
piece
to
this
puzzle
is
the
wire.

Thin
barbed
wire
is

intertwined
with
the
rope,
so
that
the
slightest
of
extraneous
movements
on
my
behalf
are

met
with
sharp,
stinging
barbs
poking
and
prodding
into
my
naked
flesh.



         Holy
shit!

I’m
totally
naked!

My
eyes
scanned
the
room.
Is
someone
watching
me?

Where
are
my
clothes?
A
pile
of
cloth
grabs
my
attention.
That’s
my
work
suit
I
had
packed
in

my
gym
bag…
my
tie…
my
shoes…

         An
overwhelming
sense
of
panic
triggers
a
state
of
near‐hyperventilation.
I
can’t

breathe.
The
tape
covers
my
mouth,
not
allowing
enough
air
to
pass
in
and
out;
I’m
going
to

die.
This
thought
sends
a
new
tide
of
nausea
coursing
through
my
body.
There’s
no
holding

back
the
vomit
this
time.
I
swallow
the
foul
tasting
fluid,
and
I
work
my
throat
up
and

down,
trying
to
stifle
my
gag
reflex.
A
shock
of
revulsion
roils
through
my
body
as
I
realize

that
if
I
allow
the
vomit
to
move
past
my
throat,
it
won’t
have
anywhere
else
to
go
but
back

down,
choking
me,
and
I’d
suffocate.



         My
mortality.
I’m
going
to
die
in
my
own
puke.
Naked,
bound,
and
silenced.
In
a

sudden
rush,
my
vomit
begins
to
flood
my
mouth,
and
with
nowhere
to
go,
it
begins
its

retreat
back
down
my
throat
and
upwards
into
my
nasal
cavity.
I
can’t
breathe.
I
can
only

gag,
over
and
over.
My
eyes
stream
with
tears,
vomit
and
snot
pour
out
of
my
nose,
and
all
I

can
do
is
retch
repeatedly
inside
of
my
own
mouth.
I’m
seeing
black
spots.
This
is
it.
I’m

going
to
die.



         Suddenly,
a
giant
hole
opens
from
the
middle
of
the
wall
facing
me,
and
the
shadowy

figure
of
a
tall
man
moves
swiftly
across
the
floor
toward
me.
He
quickly
rips
the
tape
from

my
mouth.
Fresh
air
rushes
down
my
throat,
renewing
the
urgency
of
my
gagging,
sending

wracking
jolts
of
pain
and
shaking
throughout
my
bound
body.
The
force
of
my
heaving

sends
me
toppling
sideways
to
the
floor,
sending
a
new,
searing
pain
throughout
my
body

as
the
tiny
barbs
begin
stabbing
into
my
skin.
But
I’m
alive.



         Lying
on
the
cold
concrete,
a
puddle
of
sour‐smelling
puke
spreading
out
around
my

head,
I
stare
at
a
pair
of
size‐14
Nike
sneakers.
The
man
sidesteps
the
reeking
mess,
and

sets
me
upright.
Here’s
my
chance
to
speak,
and
I
can’t
come
up
with
the
energy
to
question



   
                                         17

this
guy.
This
is
my
opportunity
to
figure
out
the
who,
why,
where,
and
how
of
the
situation

I
now
find
myself
in.
He
suddenly
produces
a
towel
and
a
bottle
of
water
from
behind
his

back,
and
gingerly
pours
some
water
into
my
mouth,
telling
me
to
swish,
and
spit
it
out.
He

begins
wiping
the
puke,
snot,
and
spit
from
my
face.



        I
slowly
raise
my
head
enough
to
get
a
good
look
at
his
face.
I
want
to
burn
his
image

into
my
head,
just
in
case
I
manage
to
free
myself.
But
those
eyes
silence
any
questions
I

might
have,
and
bear
into
mine
with
an
intensity
I’ve
never
seen
before.
They’re
ice
blue,

almost
white
in
their
clarity,
with
a
few
lines
at
the
corners,
belying
his
age.
They
emanate

tremendous
intensity,
while
also
emitting
such
a
cold
emptiness
that
my
body
starts

shaking
uncontrollably.

Shit,
I’m
freaking
out
again.

I
need
to
calm
down,
relax.
Shaking
my

head,
I
begin
building
up
the
courage
to
ask
him
my
one
burning
question.

        “Why?”



        He
simply
stares.



        Suddenly,
with
another
towel
in
hand,
he
whips
it
to
my
face,
smothering
my
nose

and
mouth.
I
begin
breathing
in
whatever
toxic‐smelling
liquid
he
dumped
onto
the
towel.

        Shaking
my
head,
I
try
to
fight
the
black
cloud
that’s
taking
over
my
senses
again.

But
before
a
sound
can
pass
my
lips,
with
a
cluck
of
his
tongue,
and
a
shake
of
his
head,
he

grins
and
says,
“No
need
to
talk,
my
man.
It’d
be
a
total
waste
of
breath.
G’night.”
And
with

that,
he
covers
my
mouth
with
another
piece
of
tape,
stands,
and
leaves
the
room
just
as
my

eyes
give
up
their
fight.

                                            ‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐

        There’s
no
slow
march
toward
consciousness
this
time.
I
had
been
dreaming,
but
as

the
details
of
the
dream
solidified
in
my
awakened
state,
I
realized
that
it
hadn’t
been
a

dream
at
all.

In
fact,
it
was
a
memory,
a
very
recent
memory.




        Just
that
morning,
I
was
Sam
Hollen,
a
35‐year‐old
single
guy,
working
as
an

accountant
at
a
big
firm
in
downtown
Washington,
D.C.
Every
morning,
I
wake
up
at
5
a.m.

to
get
to
the
gym,
and
pound
out
six
miles
on
the
treadmill.

I
shower,
change
into
my
work

clothes,
and
walk
the
five
blocks
to
my
office.
And
just
like
every
morning,
I
stopped
in
a

small,
family‐owned
coffee
shop
to
get
my
first
caffeine
boost
of
the
day.
I
flirted
with
the




   
                                          18

young,
blonde
daughter,
as
always,
and
had
finally
managed
to
get
her
phone
number.
We

were
planning
to
go
out
in
a
couple
of
days.

          
I
reflected
on
the
couple
of
blocks
it
should
have
taken
me
to
get
from
the
coffee

shop
to
the
office,
and
it
suddenly
returned
to
me;
how
I
was
kidnapped.
I
don’t
remember

much
beyond
walking
a
couple
of
yards
among
the
scattered,
early
morning
pedestrian

traffic,
stopping
to
retie
a
shoelace
that
had
loosened
itself,
and
as
I
stood
up,
I
took
notice

of
a
fast‐moving
shadow
crossing
the
street
behind
me,
and
as
I
turned
to
get
a
better
look

there
was
a
sudden,
searing
pain
in
my
head,
a
dull
thud,
and
then
nothing
more
than

thousands
of
blindingly
white
stars
erupting
in
my
vision.
And
that
was
it.
The
next
time
I

awoke,
I
was
naked,
tied,
and
gagged
in
this
cell‐like
room.


         My
mind
flashes
to
the
image
of
the
cold,
blue
eyes
of
the
man
who
had
come
into

the
room,
and
saved
me
from
gagging
myself.
Who
was
he?
I
didn’t
recognize
him
when
he

was
in
here
before.
But
maybe
that’s
because
I
was
still
out
of
it
from
the
drugs
and
the

puking.
I
need
another
look
at
him.
Maybe
I’ll
recognize
something
that
would
jog
a
memory,

a
wrongdoing,
a
misunderstanding
that
can
explain
why
the
fuck
I
am
naked,
bound,
and

gagged
in
some
basement.
What
have
I
done
to
make
someone
do
something
like
this?
Who

could
I
have
possibly
pissed
off
enough
to
want
to
kidnap,
and,
possibly,
kill
me?



         I
want
to
scream.
I
want
to
punch
something.
I
want
to
do
or
say
something,

anything,
to
show
how
fucking
pissed
off
and
scared
I
am.
But
I
can’t.
I
have
to
sit
perfectly

still;
silently
seethe,
and
wonder
when
this
will
all
come
to
an
end…
if
it
comes
to
an
end.

What
if
he
plans
on
keeping
me
here?
I
don’t
know
which
would
be
worse,
being
held

captive
by
some
psychopath
indefinitely,
or
being
killed?
Either
way,
I
have
no
choice
but
to

be
silent,
regardless
of
what
my
fate
might
be.


         I
suddenly
hear
a
doorknob
jiggle,
followed
by
the
sounds
of
a
door
opening
and

closing.

I
grow
completely
still,
minimizing
my
breathing,
in
an
attempt
to
pick
up
on
every

sound
I
can,
so
that
maybe,
just
maybe,
I
can
gain
a
clue
as
to
where
I
am.
I
hear
the
flick
of

a
light
switch,
followed
by
a
glimmer
of
light
peeking
through
the
gap
beside
me.
Closely

behind
the
light
comes
the
sound
of
heavy
footsteps
moving
down
a
set
of
stairs.
My

breathing
quickens.
My
heartbeat
pulses
out
a
frantic,
desperate
beat.
I
have
no
idea
why,

but
I
can
sense
that
this
is
him.





   
                                           19


        Gone
is
my
anger,
and
it
is
quickly
replaced
with
pure
terror.
What
does
he
want

from
me?
What
is
he
going
to
do
with
me?
Is
he
going
to
torture
me?
Kill
me?
Is
my
time
now?

Oh
fuck.
I
can’t
believe
it’s
come
to
this.
What
the
hell
did
I
do
to
deserve
this?
Why
me?
I
hear

the
footsteps
shuffle
across
a
carpeted
floor
outside
of
my
room.
There
is
a
brief
pause,
and

then
the
wall
across
from
me
swings
inward
with
a
soft
whoosh.
Before
closing
the
door,
I

see
a
carpeted
room,
a
small
wet
bar,
and
a
large
flat
screen
TV
in
the
room
just
beyond
my

tiny
hellhole.
Who
is
this
guy?


        All
thoughts
quickly
vanish
as
he
shuts
the
door.
There
is
not
one
thing
about
him

that
I
recognize.
This
guy
is
a
total
stranger
to
me.

He
doesn’t
make
any
move
toward
me.

Instead,
he
simply
leans
his
bulk
against
the
wall,
arms
crossed
over
his
huge
chest,
right

ankle
casually
resting
atop
the
left,
and
his
head
slightly
cocked
to
the
right.



         At
least
6’3”,
and
easily
250
pounds,
I
can
tell
this
guy
definitely
spends
a
lot
of
time

in
the
gym.
He’s
huge!
Complete
stillness
surrounds
him;
he
doesn’t
even
appear
to
breathe.

Although
his
strength
is
terrifying,
it’s
the
expression
he
wears
on
his
tanned,
lined
face

that
sends
shit
running
down
my
legs.
Fucking
embarrassing.


        Those
ice
blue
eyes,
made
even
brighter
by
his
tan,
bear
down
on
me
like
two
crystal

drills.
And,
although
he
tries
to
soften
his
face
with
a
smile,
it
only
adds
to
the
sheer
evil

that
resides
within
him.
That
smile
–
a
close‐mouthed,
upward
turn
of
the
right
corner
of

his
mouth
–
offers
no
warmth,
no
consolation.
In
that
smile,
I
know,
I’m
a
dead
man.
There’s

no
big
plan
set
up
for
me,
he
simply
wants
to
draw
it
out
a
little
bit,
make
me
nervous,

completely
mind‐fuck
me
until
he
becomes
bored.
And
he
will.
This
guy
doesn’t
seem
to
be

patient.
Despite
his
calm
demeanor
there
is
an
underlying
nervousness
in
the
twitch
of
an

eye,
the
slightly
wiggling
right
foot,
and
the
soft
tattoo
playing
out
by
the
fingers
resting
on

his
arm.




        Suddenly,
he
lumbers
across
the
room.
He
crosses
the
room
in
two
big
strides
and

crouches
on
the
floor
in
front
of
me,
making
the
room
feel
even
tinier
with
his
bodybuilder

size.
His
eyes
flick
over
my
face,
taking
in
the
sweat
prickling
along
my
forehead
and
upper

lip.
He
steeples
his
fingers
beneath
his
chin
and
wrinkles
his
nose
in
disgust.


        “You
stink,
dude.
Did
you
shit
yourself?”


        His
voice
is
a
deep
rumble.



   
                                            20


       And
with
that,
he
shakes
his
head,
as
if
disappointed
in
a
small
child.
Standing
up,

towering
over
me
once
again,
he
produces
another
toxic‐smelling
towel
from
his
back

pocket.
I
don’t
even
struggle;
I’m
frozen
in
fear.
He
shoves
the
cloth
beneath
my
nose,

demanding
me
to
breathe
in
deeply
for
a
few
breaths,
and
then—
nothingness.



                                         ‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐


       Still
under
the
influence
of
whatever
substance
he
keeps
putting
on
his
towels,
I

come
to
again.
I
feel
different,
as
if
he’s
given
me
more
than
the
previous
times.
I
feel

weaker,
more
drained,
and
unfocused.
I
feel
something
on
my
face.
A
soft
tapping
on
my

cheeks.
I
shake
my
head,
trying
to
rid
myself
of
the
nuisance.
I
just
want
to
keep
sleeping.

But
it
persists.
A
soft
tap­tap,
first
on
my
right
cheek,
and
then
on
my
left.
What
the
fuck
is

that?
Go
away!


        
The
taps
become
a
little
harder,
and
then
I
feel
the
presence
of
someone
very
close

by.
But
I
can’t
bring
myself
to
open
my
eyes;
it
can
only
be
him.
What
could
he
possibly
want

now?



        Slap!
My
head
snaps
to
the
left,
and
my
eyes
fly
open.
And
there
he
is,
crouching
in

front
of
me
like
a
few
hours
ago,
staring
intensely
with
those
dead
eyes.



        We
stare
at
one
another
for
a
moment.


        “Mornin’
sunshine.
How
ya
feelin’?”



        I
can
only
stare
back.



        What
kind
of
question
was
that,
you
asshole?!
I
want
to
put
my
hands
around
his

thick
neck
and
squeeze
the
life
out
of
him.
I
want
to
kill
this
guy
for
putting
me
through
this.


        Unable
to
move
or
speak,
I
can
only
make
muted
grunting
sounds,
and
small
muscle

twitches.

Seeing
my
anger,
he
quietly
chuckles
to
himself,
reaches
out
a
big,
baseball‐mitt

sized
hand,
and
pats
me
on
the
shoulder.

        “There’s
still
a
little
life
in
ya
after
all,
huh?
Too
bad.”

        And
with
a
quick
movement
of
his
other
wrist,
he
slides
a
knife
beneath
my
chin,
ear

to
ear.
Deep
warmth
spreads
throughout
my
body,
flowing
down
my
chest.
A
strange

gurgling
noise
reaches
my
ears,
and
I
realize
that
sickening
bubbling
sound
is
issuing
from

me.
That
warmth
is
my
blood,
pouring
from
my
body.
And
still,
all
I
can
do
is
sit
in
silence,




   
                                           21

staring
at
this
blue‐eyed
monster
crouching
before
me,
with
a
thoughtful
expression
on
his

face,
as
if
contemplating
the
life
ebbing
before
his
eyes.


         

                                              *
     *
     *

                                                      

         With
a
sigh,
the
large
man
heaves
himself
upright,
and
gazes
down
at
the
skinny
guy

in
front
of
him,
struggling
to
breathe
through
his
severed
windpipe.
He
continued
to
look

down
upon
him
for
a
few
minutes
longer,
after
the
man
has
died.
It
didn’t
take
as
long
as
he

expected.

It
was
way
messier
than
he
wanted,
though.

Next
time,
he’d
try
something
a

little
different.
Maybe
a
plastic
bag?
Or
maybe
get
in
close
and
strangle
the
next
one?
He

knew
he
had
to
work
on
his
initial
approach.
Taking
his
victims
was
fun
in
broad
daylight,

but
it
was
much
too
risky.
Hmm…
something
to
think
about
today.

         And
with
that,
he
drops
the
knife
beside
his
victim
–
he’d
clean
it
up
later
–
and

strips
down
out
of
his
blood‐soaked
clothes.
He
crosses
the
room,
and
glances
down
at
the

guy’s
clothes
he’d
left
piled
in
the
corner.
Bending
down,
he
picks
up
the
red
striped
tie,

working
it
between
his
fingers.
Huh,
nice
tie,
he
thinks.

         Tie
in
hand,
he
stands,
and
pushes
against
the
hidden
doorway
he
had
built
into
the

wall
of
his
“Man‐Cave,”
as
he
affectionately
refers
to
it.
Closing
the
door
behind
him,
the

wall
resumes
its
boring
bookshelf
façade,
and
he
smiles
to
himself
as
he
relishes
in
his
brief

moment
of
victory,
enjoying
his
moment
of
privacy.



         With
a
deep
sigh,
he
plants
a
wide
smile
on
his
lips,
and
moves
across
the
plush

green
carpet
and
into
the
adjacent
laundry
room,
removing
a
shirt
and
a
pair
of
chinos
from

the
dryer.

He
swiftly
puts
them
on
with
the
grace
of
a
much
smaller
man,
strides
back

through
his
den,
and
lumbers
up
the
stairs,
stepping
over
the
toy
truck
that
he
had
asked

James
to
move
the
previous
evening.
He
smiles
and
sighs,
Boys.
Picking
up
the
toy,
he

moves
up
the
remaining
stairs,
and
opens
the
door
to
a
kitchen
taken
straight
out
of
a

magazine.


         Stainless
steel
appliances
shine
in
the
early
morning
light
streaming
through
the

huge
windows
overlooking
the
picturesque
backyard.
His
wife,
a
bottled‐blonde
of
40,

bustles
around
the
kitchen.
He
takes
a
moment
to
admire
her
youthful
curves
and
smooth



   
                                          22

skin,
thanking
God
for
personal
trainers
and
plastic
surgeons.
His
two
sons
sit
at
the
table,

still
rubbing
the
sleep
from
their
blue
eyes.
Blue
eyes,
just
like
their
Daddy.





        “Mornin’
guys!
You
two
up
late
last
night
watching
cartoons,
huh?
James,
you
left

your
truck
on
the
stairs.
Didn’t
I
ask
you
to
pick
it
up?”

He
wags
his
finger,
and
ruffles
the

boy’s
shaggy
brown
hair.

        “Sorry,
Daddy.”
The
young
boy
looks
up
with
an
impish
smile.
“Can
we
have
Lucky

Charms
today?”

        The
man
smiles,
and
moves
about
the
kitchen,
setting
the
boys
up
with
their
bowls

of
cereal.
As
he
moves
behind
his
wife,
he
gives
her
a
playful
swat
on
her
tight
ass.

        She
giggles,
planting
a
kiss
on
his
cheek
with
her
collagen‐enhanced
lips.
He
laughs,

and
gathers
her
up
into
a
big
hug.



        “Thanks
for
washing
my
clothes
last
night,
it
completely
slipped
my
mind.”



        “Sure
it
did,
sweetie.
If
you
wouldn’t
hole
yourself
up
in
that
silly
‘Man‐Cave’
of

yours,
maybe
you’d
remember!”
She
grins,
sliding
the
red
tie
from
his
hand.

        “What
do
you
think
of
my
new
tie?
You
like
it?”

        

She
slips
the
tie
over
his
head,
and
quickly
knots
it
at
his
throat.

        “I
do!
Where’d
you
get
it?”

        
“It’s
a
friend
of
mine’s.
He
doesn’t
need
it
anymore.”
He
grins.

        With
a
confused
shake
of
her
head,
she
crosses
to
the
kitchen
table
to
hurry
her
sons

along.

        “I
gotta
get
moving,
though.
I’m
already
late
for
work.
I
love
you
sweetheart.
Love

you
guys,
too!”

        And
with
a
final
round
of
hugs
and
kisses,
he
heads
out
the
door.

        

        





   
                                          23

                           THE
PANTY
CLUB
PARADE

                                               

                                Susan
Maguire
Rossman




        My
experience
with
underwear
was
pretty
juvenile.
That
is,
until
the
Panty
Club

Parade
came
to
town.

        Sixth
grade
was
when
I
first
developed
my
rigorous
morning
routine
of
fixing
my

hair,
applying
make‐up,
and
choosing
an
outfit.
I
rose
promptly
at
6:00
a.m.
so
I’d
have

plenty
of
time
to
make
myself
look
as
public
school
as
I
could
in
my
Catholic
school

uniform.
In
fact,
the
whole
idea
was
to
make
myself
look
different,
but
not
so
different
that
I

stood
out.
The
end
result
was
uniform.


        There
was
a
science
to
my
transformation.
Rubbing
syrupy
gel
between
my
palms,
I

flipped
my
head
over
and
scrunched
my
damp
hair
to
create
the
luscious
curls
promised
to

me
by
my
jar
of
pomade.
The
effect
was
nothing
short
of
frizz.
My
hair
was
not
naturally

curly,
and
I
have
my
mom
to
thank
for
allowing
me
to
get
my
first
perm
in
third
grade.

Unfortunately,
she
didn’t
have
the
foresight
to
predict
how
much
damage
the
chemicals

would
do
to
my
stick‐brown
hair.
I
pulled
out
my
styling
tools,
a
collection
that
would
put

my
dad’s
workbench
to
shame.
Uncoiling
the
cord
of
my
Conair
hair
dryer,
I
attached
a

diffuser,
which
resembled
a
medieval
battle
mace,
with
its
spiked
head
ready
to
be
swung

at
its
next
opponent.
It
was
supposed
to
create
volume
–
or
scare
off
one
of
my
obnoxious

older
brothers.
As
I
flipped
the
two
switches
to
hot
and
high
speed,
it
sounded
like
an

airplane
taking
off
in
my
room.
It
didn’t
bother
me,
probably
because
the
whoosh
of
fans

had
slightly
impaired
my
hearing.
Years
of
blow
drying
had
also
made
me
immune
to
the

scent
of
the
burnt
hair
follicles
trapped
in
the
dryer.


        Once
the
diffusing
process
was
done,
it
was
time
for
phase
two:
reactivation.
Timing

and
form
was
absolutely
critical.
A
few
globs
of
curl
gel
and
I
was
scrunching
again,
this

time
right
side
up.
When
I
had
achieved
a
wavy
look
reminiscent
of
hair
that
had
been

braided
and
unbraided,
I
moved
on
to
my
bangs.
My
weapon
of
choice
was
a
two‐inch



    
                                         24

barrel
curling
iron
which
I
used
to
singe
my
bangs
into
a
structure
that
defied
gravity.
This

style
was
clearly
not
for
amateurs.
I
pinned
back
the
top
half
of
my
bangs,
then
curled
the

lower
half
under
with
the
iron
and
a
bristly
round
brush.
With
utmost
precision,
I
unpinned

the
top
half
and
curled
it
up
at
a
45‐degree
angle.
After
a
thick
coating
of
aerosol
hairspray,

I
was
finished,
and
my
hair
was
protected
from
any
unexpected
tornados
that
might
blow

through
town.


         Next
I
began
“putting
on
my
face,”
as
my
mom
liked
to
say.
Since
I
was
still

prepubescent,
I
didn’t
need
to
spend
time
mixing
together
shades
of
foundation
to
cover

any
blemishes
or
blackheads.
A
light
dusting
of
my
$.99,
Wet
’n
Wild
powder
would
do.
I

had
tried
black,
liquid
eyeliner
in
the
past,
but
my
mom
refused
to
let
me
leave
the
house

looking
like
a
raccoon
with
uneven
rings
around
its
eyes.
I
settled
for
my
equally
cheap

mascara
and
a
dusting
of
Pepto
Bismol‐pink
blush
where
I
thought
my
cheek
bones
might

be.


         Like
any
self‐respecting
Catholic
school,
St.
Mary
of
the
Angels
imposed
a
dress
code.

To
a
12‐year‐old
who
had
only
known
parochial
school,
there
were
so
many
options.
White

oxford
blouse
or
a
light
blue
oxford
blouse,
white
turtleneck
or
light
blue
turtleneck.
These

tops
could
be
paired
in
any
combination
with
a
classic
navy
plaid
skirt,
navy
blue
slacks,
or

hunter
green
slacks.
To
this
day,
I
don’t
think
I
have
ever
seen
a
decent
pair
of
hunter
green

slacks
sold
anywhere,
so
that
left
girls
with
the
choice
of
navy
blue
pants
or
the
stiff,
plaid

skirt
with
pleats
that
never
required
pressing.
Most
of
us
chose
the
skirt,
because
up
until

sixth
grade,
we
had
been
forced
to
wear
a
plaid,
drop
waist
jumper
that
may
have
been

inspired
by
1920s
flapper
dresses.
Graduating
to
the
wool/polyester
blend
skirt
was
a

milestone
that
practically
symbolized
our
transition
to
womanhood.
As
sophisticated
as
we

felt,
these
skirts
still
started
high
at
our
waists
and
hung
down
to
the
lower
portion
of
our

knees
–
anything
above
the
knee
and
we
were
ripe
for
detention.
Knee
socks
were
in
style
–

well
for
Catholic
school
–
so
we
wore
white
knee‐highs
with
black
Mary
Janes
(no
patent

leather
allowed),
or
some
other
nondescript
black
shoe
with
a
modest
heel.


         But
the
dress
code
stopped
there.
Beneath
our
uniforms
was
something
not
so

uniform:
undergarments.
They
were
hidden
beneath
the
pleats
and
plaid,
so
there
were
no

rules.
I
hadn’t
officially
become
a
woman
yet,
so
I
needlessly
wore
a
training
bra.
Two
small



   
                                          25

triangles
of
flimsy
white
cotton
where
I
one
day
hoped
to
grow
some
cleavage.
I
was
in

training
for
a
C,
but
a
healthy
B
would’ve
been
an
improvement.
My
underwear
was
also

made
of
white
cotton,
decorated
with
tulips
in
innocent
pastel
pinks
and
purples,
the
kind

you
buy
in
a
plastic
package,
six
at
a
time.
They
might
as
well
have
had
the
days
of
the
week

stamped
on
the
front.


       As
I
pranced
into
homeroom
at
8:00
a.m.,
I
joined
Alison
and
Noelle
who
were

whispering
about
something
typed
on
a
piece
of
paper.
When
they
handed
it
to
me,
it

looked
like
some
sort
of
chain
letter,
though
I
realized
it
wasn’t
like
any
chain
letter
I
had

ever
seen.
The
page
read
as
follows:



                                   This
is
a
Panty
Club
Parade







Send
a
pair
of
panties
to

the
#1
person
on
the
list

below,


and
send
this
letter
to
six
of
your
funniest
girlfriends.








Only
your

name
and
mine
should
appear

on
the
list
when
you


send
them.


Move
my
name
to
the
#1
position
and
put
your
name
as


#2
on
the
six
letters
you
send.








This
is
not
a
chain
letter!!

It's
just
for
fun!

If
you
are


not
able
to
participate

within
6
days,
please
notify

me
because


it
would
be
unfair
to
those
of
us
who
do.








A

large

manila
envelope

or
the

equivalent
will

mail
the


panties
just

fine.

You

should
receive

36
pairs
of

NEW
(let's


make
that
clear),
NEW,
NEW
panties

in
the
mail.

It
will

be
fun


to
see
where
they
all
came
from

and
just
how
creative
people
can


be.

WE
can
always
use
a
new
pair
of
panties,
or
two,
or

in
this


case.....36!!

So
don't
drop
out!!








Remember,
36
pairs
of
panties
for
the
price
of
ONE!

































!!JOIN
THE
PANTY
CLUB
PARADE
TODAY!!


    
                                                  26

#1

Angie
Miller










 
       Size
5/6
==
Medium









6243
S.
Harrison
St.









Bloomington,
IN




























47401



#2

Jessica
Vitale







 
        Size
5/6
==
Medium









2166
W.
Fullerton
Pk.









Bloomington,
IN



























47403





It
was
as
if
I
had
walked
in
on
my
grandmother
getting
out
of
the
shower.
I’m
not
sure

which
was
greater,
my
horror
and
embarrassment,
or
my
curiosity.
All
I
could
think
was:

what
would
my
mom
would
say?
And
then,
how
could
I
join?
Maybe
it
wasn’t
so
bad.
It

made
complete
economical
sense.
In
fact,
I
bet
my
mom
would
be
proud
to
hear
about
the

great
deal
I
finagled.
Thirty‐six
pairs
for
the
price
of
one!
I
only
had
to
spend
$4.99
to
get

$180
worth
of
underwear.
I
started
doing
the
math
in
my
head.
If
the
whole
family
joined
in

the
Panty
Club
Parade,
we
could
save
hundreds,
maybe
even
thousands.
Perhaps
we
could

even
save
up
to
get
a
pool
for
the
backyard
like
we
always
wanted.
Besides
the
cost
savings,

I
thought
about
the
environmental
savings.
If
I
had
36
pairs
of
underwear,
my
mom
would

only
need
to
do
laundry
10.2
times
a
year.
It
would
save
electricity
and
water.
I
could
get

the
whole
town
in
on
this,
and
I’d
receive
an
award
for
my
efforts
to
be
green.
Not
only

would
my
parents
be
proud
of
me,
but
they
would
revel
in
their
new
lifestyle.
With
laundry

becoming
a
monthly
task,
my
mom
would
have
more
free
time
on
her
hands.
She
could
take

up
a
hobby
of
adorning
greeting
cards
with
pressed,
dried
flowers
and
join
a
book
club.
My

dad
would
be
pleased
as
there
would
always
be
prepared
meals
when
he
came
home
from

work.
Never
again
would
my
mom
complain
about
chores.



       That
same
night,
Alison
and
I
practically
ran
to
the
mall.
We
were
on
a
mission,
a

crusade
to
carry
on
the
panty
savings
for
all.
If
the
Panty
Club
Parade
was
coming
to
our

town,
then
we
might
as
well
arm
ourselves
with
panties.
We
made
our
way
to
the
low‐end

department
store’s
lingerie
section,
past
the
lacy
negligés,
ruffly
teddies,
and
no‐nonsense

bustiers.
That’s
when
I
saw
them:
size
5/6
medium,
white
cotton
bikini
underwear
with


     
                                               27

black
polka
dots.
I
held
the
soft
cotton
in
my
hands.
Functional,
yet
fun.
Conservative,
yet

flirty.
I
knew
that
Angie
Miller
from
Bloomington,
Indiana
would
be
thrilled.
Who
doesn’t

like
polka
dots?


          While
I
had
my
eyes
set
on
the
cotton
panties
that
resembled
a
cute
Dalmatian
pup,

Alison
had
something
other
than
pets
in
mind.


          “How
’bout
these?”
she
asked,
dangling
red,
silk
ribbon
from
her
fingers.
My
eyes

widened
and
my
jaw
dropped.
I
was
speechless.

          
“It’s
a
thong,
silly,”
Alison
said.
“And
I
think
it’s
sexy!”


          Sexy?
I
wasn’t
prepared
for
that.
I
began
to
think
about
what
this
might
mean.


Instead
of
36
pairs
of
underwear
that
would
conserve
energy
and
save
the
world,
would
I

receive
36
risqué
thongs
that
I
would
have
to
bury
in
the
backyard
to
keep
my
mom
from

having
a
stroke?
What
if
she
intercepted
one
of
the
packages
first?
I’d
come
home
from

school
one
day
only
to
find
she
had
mistaken
the
ladies
wear
for
a
lace
doily.
It
would
be

displayed
front
and
center
in
our
living
room,
lying
in
the
center
of
the
coffee
table
beneath

an
etched
crystal
vase
of
lilacs.
Or
worse,
what
if
one
of
my
brothers
got
the
package
and

held
the
panties
ransom?
Matt
and
Brian
were
conniving
enough
to
keep
it
quiet
until
the

time
was
right.
They
would
wait
until
I
attended
my
first
school
dance.
My
crush,
Bobby

Miller,
would
show
up
with
a
corsage
and
sweaty
palms.
He’d
nervously
shake
my
father’s

hand
and
smile
as
my
mom
took
pictures
and
fussed
with
my
hair.
Just
as
we
were
about
to

leave
and
I
was
able
to
exhale,
Matt
would
tell
me
I
forgot
something.
We’d
turn
to
see
him

standing
there,
holding
between
his
thumb
and
index
finger
a
skimpy
black
thong.
As
if
it

were
a
movie
scene
played
in
slow
motion,
I’d
lunge
for
Matt
while
yelling
in
a
slow,
deep

voice,
“Noooooo!”

          But
the
damage
would
be
done.



         By
the
time
we
made
it
to
the
dance,
half
of
the
sixth‐grade
class
would
be
calling
me

“Fancy
Pants.”
I
just
didn’t
know
if
I
was
ready
to
assume
the
risk.




          I
thought
the
point
of
your
unmentionables
was
not
to
mention
them.
Frankly,
the

frilly
skivvies
in
Alison’s
hand
seemed
like
they
wanted
an
outright
introduction.
“Yes,

pleased
to
meet
you
too.
I’m
doing
well,
just
a
little
chilly
down
here.”
I’m
a
firm
believer
in



   
                                           28

the
fact
that
we
call
them
undergarments
for
a
reason.
They’re
meant
to
be
hidden
beneath

our
clothes,
not
on
top,
for
all
the
world
to
see.
Or,
for
the
entire
sixth
grade
class
to
see.
My

mind
wandered
back
to
the
painful,
not‐too‐distant
memory
of
picture
day.


        Any
Catholic
school
student
knows
that
picture
day
is
a
day
to
shine.
Other
than
the

occasional
grub
day
on
which
we
paid
a
dollar
to
pretend
we
were
public
school
kids,

picture
day
was
one
of
the
few
times
to
create
an
identity
for
yourself.
By
sporting
a

baseball
cap
and
a
matching
blue
and
gray
jacket,
you
pledged
allegiance
to
the
Yankees.

With
slouchy
socks,
hot
pink
stirrup
pants
and
an
oversized
black
V‐neck
sweater,
you

gained
status
as
a
fashion
icon.
Or
with
khaki
pants
and
a
plaid
button‐down,
you
proved

you
had
no
desire
to
look
anything
but
uniform
for
the
rest
of
your
life.
Taking
full

advantage
of
the
opportunity,
I
wore
a
flowery
skirt
with
a
sleeveless
denim
jacket
layered

over
a
maroon
t‐shirt.
After
a
quick
trip
to
the
bathroom,
I
started
my
strut
down
the

hallway
imagining
I
was
a
lanky‐legged
model
whose
hips
naturally
swayed
to
and
fro.

With
my
chin
held
high,
I
paid
no
attention
to
the
boys
I
passed,
so
as
to
give
them
all
the

more
reason
to
check
me
out.
My
catwalk
was
stopped
short
by
an
eruption
of
laughter

from
behind.
I
checked
the
bottoms
of
my
shoes,
but
there
was
no
toilet
paper
stuck
to

them.
Perhaps
it
was
something
else
they
were
giggling
about,
so
I
resumed
my
hip

swaying.
By
now,
two
eighth
grade
boys
were
doubling
over
in
hysterics,
their
lungs

struggling
to
catch
up
with
their
laughter.
Raising
a
hand
to
my
nose,
I
checked
for
a
crusty

booger,
sticky
snot,
anything
that
might
provoke
such
a
commotion.
And
then
I
felt
it:
a

slight,
cool
breeze.
My
face
grew
hot
and
turned
three
shades
of
red
as
I
reached
behind
me

and
pulled
the
back
of
my
skirt
out
of
my
tights.
I
had
just
given
half
of
the
eighth
grade

boys
a
clear
view
of
my
behind.
And
if
they
were
going
to
see
my
behind,
it
was
the
least

flattering
way
to
see
it.
Picture
a
bank
robber
with
pantyhose
on
his
head.
The
hosiery

distorts
his
face,
flattens
his
nose,
and
shields
his
eyes
in
a
way
that
is
scarier
than
what

might
lie
beneath.
I
was
now
regretting
the
time
I
spent
finding
nude‐colored
tights
that

closely
resembled
my
skin
tone.
Now,
the
tights
betrayed
me.

They
offered
a
sheer
view
of

my
big,
white
panties
adorned
with
purple
butterflies.
I
hid
in
the
girls
locker
room
for

most
of
the
day,
desperately
conspiring
ways
to
convince
my
parents
to
move
to
another




   
                                            29

state.
It
was
weeks
before
I
stopped
hearing
“Butterfly
Butt,”
and
it
could
have
been
longer

had
Megan
Walsh
not
thrown
up
all
over
our
teacher’s
shoes
in
math
class.



         Just
the
thought
of
how
much
worse
that
fateful
day
could
have
been
if
I
was

wearing
a
thong
made
me
shudder.
I
couldn’t
bring
myself
to
buy
a
thong
for
myself,
or
for

anyone
on
that
chain
letter.
Instead,
I
went
for
the
conservative
polka
dot
pair
that

provided
full
coverage.
After
much
debate,
Alison
traded
her
silky
red
thong
for
a
lacy
pink

pair
with
a
little
bow.
I
blushed
a
little
when
she
handed
them
to
the
sales
associate.
We

walked
back
to
Alison’s
house
to
dispose
of
the
evidence.
I
held
the
polka
dots
as
if
they

were
one
of
my
porcelain
dolls,
afraid
they
may
slip
out
of
my
hands
and
shatter
to
a

million
pieces.
Wrapping
them
neatly
in
tissue
paper,
I
placed
them
in
a
small
brown

mailing
envelope.
I
chuckled
as
I
imagined
a
mailman
carrying
around
a
bagful
of
small

packages
like
this
one,
having
no
idea
he
was
carrying
a
load
of
ladies
undergarments.
Next,

we
worked
on
putting
together
six
letters
that
we
would
send
out
to
our
“funniest

girlfriends”
as
the
letter
had
instructed.
Megan,
Sarah,
Kelly,
Danielle,
Maureen,
and
Erin

would
be
the
lucky
recipients
of
this
non‐chain,
“just
for
fun”
letter.


         Over
the
next
few
days,
each
one
of
the
chosen
six
would
come
into
class
smiling

secretively,
having
received
their
letter.
Although
I
knew
it
was
too
soon,
I
couldn’t
help
but

run
home
from
school
every
day,
anxious
and
slightly
nervous
to
see
if
I
received
any

panties.
But
by
Friday,
our
fun
would
come
to
a
screeching
halt.

         Mrs.
Raider,
our
school
principal,
called
Alison
and
me
to
her
office.
At
St.
Mary’s,

nuns
were
nearly
extinct,
save
for
Sister
Regina
who
taught
religion
classes
and
seemed

oblivious
to
the
tuft
of
black
hair
growing
on
her
chin.
Mrs.
Raider
was
far
more
frightening

than
any
nun.

         Together,
Alison
and
I
walked
heavy‐footed
down
the
hall,
wondering
what
we
were

in
for.
We
unrolled
our
skirts
so
that
they
reached
our
knees,
pulled
up
our
socks,
and
made

sure
our
shirts
were
well‐tucked.

         “Maybe
she
wants
to
say
how
well
we
played
on
Saturday,”
said
Alison

unconvincingly.


         We
both
knew
that
Mrs.
Raider
could
care
less
about
sports,
and
only
showed
up

because
she
had
to.
She
was
unlike
any
principal
we
ever
had,
and
since
we
were
a
Catholic



   
                                          30

school,
we
went
through
a
lot
of
them.
She
was
a
cougar.
Thanks
to
her
three‐inch
pumps,

Mrs.
Raider
reached
a
towering
5
feet,
10
inches
and
had
skinny
legs
that
were
tan
year‐
round.
She
was
the
kind
of
woman
whose
age
only
made
her
more
powerful.
Her
gray
hair

pulled
into
a
high
ponytail
indicated
she
was
in
her
fifties
or
sixties,
but
I
always
pictured

her
husband
being
half
her
age.
I’m
not
sure
if
it
was
the
tight
ponytail
pulling
her
skin
taut,

or
some
sort
of
plastic
surgery
that
made
her
face
look
so
severe.
Her
fingers
were
long
and

bony,
accessorized
with
glossy
red
nails
and
a
gold
ring
that
doubled
as
a
watch.


        When
we
reached
the
office,
Mrs.
Raider
wasn’t
ready
to
see
us.
I
don’t
know

whether
we
waited
five
minutes
or
fifty
minutes.
Instead
of
calling
us
directly,
Mrs.
Raider

opened
her
door,
and
told
the
secretary,
Mrs.
Wells,
that
she
was
ready
for
the
“young

ladies.”


        We
entered
the
lair
and
stood
trembling
in
front
of
her
large,
oak
desk.
The
office

smelled
of
wet
nail
polish
and
heavy
perfume.
There
were
no
chairs,
and
so
we
stood
there,

heads
held
in
shame
and
fingers
fidgeting
behind
our
backs.


        “Ladies,
I’d
like
to
read
something
to
you,”
said
the
cougar.
Alison
gave
me
a
nervous

glance
from
the
corner
of
her
eye,
and
I
knew
what
was
to
come
next:

        “This
is
a
panty
club
parade.
Send
a
pair
of
panties
to
the
#1
person
on
the
list

below,
and
send
this
letter
to
six
of
your
funniest
girlfriends.
Only
your
name
and
mine

should
appear...”


        The
thumping
of
my
heart
drowned
out
the
rest.
I
grew
increasingly
self‐conscious,

thinking
she
could
have
x‐ray
vision.
For
a
minute,
I
thought
she
might
even
demand
to
see

our
panties
to
ensure
they
were
appropriate.
She
read
the
entire
letter,
even
the
addresses.


        “Do
you
two
delinquents
actually
think
this
is
funny?”

        “No,
Mrs.
Raider,”
we
said
in
unison,
with
a
twinge
of
fear
in
our
voices.

        “If
you
think
this
isn’t
a
chain
letter,
then
you’re
wrong.
Dead
wrong,”
continued

Mrs.
Raider.
“And
chain
letters
are
the
work
of
the
devil.
What’s
worse
is
that
this
panty

parade
of
yours
promotes
filth,
and
I
will
not
tolerate
filth
in
my
school.”

        “Yes,
Mrs.
Raider.”

        “You
have
disgraced
yourselves,
your
families,
and,
worst
of
all,
St.
Mary’s.
You
will

each
serve
one
week
of
detention
beginning
Monday.
And
I
don’t
want
to
see
another
chain



   
                                           31

letter
like
this
again.”
Posed
more
as
a
statement
than
a
question,
Mrs.
Raider
sounded
out

each
word
slowly,
“Do
I
make
myself
clear?”

         “Yes,
Mrs.
Raider,”
we
said,
eyes
staring
at
our
feet.

         “You
are
dismissed.”


        When
I
got
home
that
afternoon,
I
sulked
in
my
bedroom.
Of
course,
there
was
no

package
waiting
for
me
in
the
mail
box.
There
would
be
no
surprises,
no
manila
envelopes,

no
panties.
As
nervous
as
I
had
been
to
see
what
was
in
store,
I
had
also
gotten
excited

about
the
premise
of
some
more
sophisticated
underwear.
I
was
going
to
be
a
7th
grader
in

a
few
months,
after
all.
Even
if
I
was
too
ashamed
to
wear
them,
I
would
relish
in
the
secret

of
owning
them.



        A
knock
on
my
bedroom
door
startled
me.
My
mom
peeked
her
head
in.


         “Honey,
I
stopped
at
the
mall
today
and
picked
up
a
few
things
that
were
on
sale.

Here
are
some
of
the
knee
socks
you
like.
And
I
picked
up
a
couple
packs
of
underwear
for

you,”
said
my
mom
as
she
handed
me
the
shopping
bag.
“Dinner
will
be
ready
in
a
few.”

         “Thanks,
Mom.”
I
peered
into
the
bag
at
the
plastic
packages
of
underwear

decorated
with
pastel
flowers,
stripes
and
polka
dots.
Not
exactly
the
panty
club
parade,

but
they
would
have
to
do
for
now.


         “Oh,
and
honey,
did
you
order
something?
There’s
a
package
for
you
in
the
kitchen.”










   
                                         32

                                           I
AM:

                                              

                                       Mark
Chalmers



i
am:


a





falling









star,

the
final
flicker
of
a
dying
flame;


         a
caped
crusader,


         on
the
prowl



         to
score
the
save;

an
eccentric
con,

who
traded
sick


for
being
sane;


         a

mad
hatter,


         with
props



         to
counter
every
claim.









   
                                         33

                    YOU
CAN
CALL
ME
B.S.,
FOR
SHORT

                                              

                                      Ginger
Harris

       

       

       I
had
my
first
visit
with
a
psychic
last
night.

       

       I
have
always
been
curious
about
it,
and
last
night
I
paid
a
nominal
sum
to
have
my

       tarot

read
by
a
young
Spanish
woman
in
Manoa.
It
cost
25¢
for
an
hour
of
metered
parking.

Sometimes
I
love
the
’burbs.



       I
drove
to
a
couple
psychics,
actually.
The
astrology
gallery
was
closed,
the
duplex

near
the
Devon
Whole
Foods’
door
was
open
but
it
was
slamming
in
the
wind
all
accident‐
like
and
the
number
on
the
sign
was
disconnected,
so
I
bailed
toward
Route
3.
I
had
just

gotten
my
nails
done
and
I
was
feeling
like
getting
my
Magic
Bullshit
on.

       

       It
was
a
storefront,
and
I
had
to
call
a
number
on
the
door
to
get
her
to
answer.
She

was
petite
and
mild‐mannered
and
I
instantly
liked
her.
I
had
to
walk
right
back
out
to
get

cash
from
the
CVS,
and
on
the
way
I
passed
a
pub
and
briefly
contemplated
breezing
in
for

a
double
Jameson
but
immediately
decided
against
it.
I
just
got
back
from
a
Mardi
Gras
I

couldn't
afford
(really,
can
anybody
afford
them?)
and
by
all
accounts
I
should
just
get
in

the
car
and
speed
back
to
Fishtown
and
forget
about
Dinah
and
her
crystals
and
her

uncomfortably
Catholic
tarot
room.
I
had
just
spent
my
roommate's
rent
money
on
tattoos,

and
now
I
was
throwin’
down
on
getting
my
fortune
told.
Good
one,
Ginger.



       We
sat
at
a
corner
in
front
of
the
window
at
a
heavily
lacquered
table
that
was
piled

with
crystal
balls
on
stilts.
There
was
Jesus
shit
all
over
the
wall
next
to
me
but
not
her.

Real
subtle,
lady.
Her
kid
kept
waddling
over
to
our
orb‐littered
crevice
to
wag
upside‐

   
                                         34

down
books
about
spiders
at
me,
diaper
crinkling
in
his
pants.
At
one
point,
she
pulled
him

to
the
side
and
whispered:



        “Are
you
pooping?
Are
you
pooping?”




        She
asked
for
my
name
and
birthday,
and
then
made
me
pick
my
favorite
of
two

tarot
decks
that
she
set
on
the
tabletop.
I
picked
the
blue
tessellating
squiggles
over
the

New‐Agey
fairy
paintings,
and
then
I
shuffled
them
and
cut
the
deck.
The
first
thing
out
of

her
mouth
as
she
laid
the
cards
out
in
a
polygon
was
simultaneously
the
first
and
last
thing

I’d
expect
from
a
woman
who
makes
her
living
asking
loaded
questions
to
strangers
under

anthropomorphic
neon
moons:



        “It's
telling
me
that
you're
known
by
two
names.
Do
you
have
a
nickname,
or
do
you

use
another
name
sometimes?”



        Fortune
Teller
Street
Cred:
0.
The
Farce:
1.



        I
know
what
you're
thinking,
lady.
It’s
the
same
assumption
congenial
acquaintances

and
drunk
assholes
alike
make
when
I
introduce
myself.
No,
I
did
not
go
through
an

identity
crisis
in
undergrad
and
change
my
name
from
Jennifer
to
Ginger.
I
did
not

circumvent
uninspired
parents
by
going
by
something
a
little
more
exotic.
It’s
on
my
birth

certificate,
Homes,
and
you
of
all
people
should
be
intuitive
enough
to
steer
clear
of

pedestrian
lead‐ins
like
that.
I
told
her
that
I
work
in
bars
and
everyone
has
a
nickname,

but
that
none
of
them
ever
make
any
sense.



        Her
kid
took
this
opportunity
to
roll
by
and
start
opening
the
drawers
on
her
side
of

the
table.

She
looked
at
me
with
the
pseudo‐resignation
that
mothers
exude
when
the
kid

they
asked
for
is
causing
trouble
that
bothers
everyone
in
the
room
except
them.
With
each

tug
of
the
drawer
knobs,
she
shook
her
head
at
him.





   
                                         35

        “No,
there's
nothing
in
there
for
you.”



        I
sat
on
my
hands
in
the
fragrant
windowsill,
unsure
of
what
exactly
I
should
be

doing
while
my
$30
was
hard
at
work
appeasing
a
miniature
smartass
who
was
actively

shitting
his
pants.
I
looked
around
at
the
purple
glow
of
the
window
neon
being
reflected
a

thousand
times
in
the
room’s
many
mirrors,
saved
from
zoning
out
only
by
a
tortoiseshell

cat
who
scurried
from
beneath
a
sofa
to
disappear
behind
a
curtained
doorway.
I
turned

back
to
mother
and
son
when
I
heard
her
say
she’d
found
just
the
thing
to
make
him
leave

us
to
our
work:
from
a
drawer
obscured
from
my
vision,
my
psychic
pulled
out,

unwrapped,
and
began
to
crunch
up...
a
fortune
cookie.



        It
was
at
this
point
that
I
had
half
a
mind
to
tell
her
what
my
nickname
at
my
last
job

was.
I
could
see
myself
grinning
sheepishly,
looking
off
to
the
side
and
then
back
at
her

knowing
expression,
her
self‐gratifying
half‐nod
as
she
fed
her
kid
the
sweetened
pieces
of

a
clairvoyant
dainty.
I
would
straighten
my
posture,
let
out
a
light
sigh,
and
then
reveal

unto
her
my
clandestine
identity,
eyes
gleaming.
I
am:

        

        Baby
Sasquatch.







    
                                          36

                                  BECOMING
A
MAN

                                                

                                     
Christine
Skalka

                                              




       On
the
tough
Jersey
shore
streets,
there
was
nothing
worse
than
being
called
a
sissy.

Tommy
knew
all
about
being
called
a
sissy.
As
the
youngest
child
with
three
older
sisters,

Tommy
was
always
forced
to
play
the
baby
in
games
of
“House.”
He
received
his
sisters

used
toys;
Ken
dolls
were
not
the
same
as
G.I.
Joes.
Approaching
adulthood,
he
was
less

than
5
feet
tall
and
was
as
a
skinny
as
a
pencil.
The
red
on
his
head
stuck
up
in
all
directions

no
matter
how
many
times
he
brushed
it.
Stashed
under
Tommy’s
bed
were
a
few
stolen

copies
of
his
sister’s
celebrity
magazines.
At
night,
burrowed
under
his
covers
with
a

flashlight,
Tommy
would
skim
the
magazines,
studying
the
pictures.


        Tommy
wanted
to
change
his
image.
He
noticed
how
celebrities
won
over
women

with
their
coifed
hair
and
chiseled
bodies.
They
were
real
men.
Tommy
O’Toole
decided
he

needed
to
be
one
of
these
men
–
rock
hard
abs,
white
teeth,
and
muscles
that
rippled
under

his
shirt.
At
twelve
years,
four
months,
and
eight
days
old,
to
scrap
the
last
remnants
of
his

childish
ways,
he
decided
that
kissing
a
girl
would
complete
his
transformation.
No
one
in

town
would
look
at
Tommy
the
same
way
after
he
kissed
a
girl.
He
would
be
able
to
walk

downtown
with
a
new
swagger
–
with
pep
in
his
step.
His
new
heartthrob
status
would

cause
the
other
boys
to
be
jealous,
especially
when
he
stole
their
girlfriends.




       As
Memorial
Day
approached,
Tommy
would
lie
in
bed
under
his
superhero
sheets

and
imagine
different
scenarios
for
how
he
would
achieve
his
first
kiss.
His
thoughts
played

out
like
a
blockbuster
summer
movie.
Girls
would
chase
him
on
the
beach,
throwing

themselves
at
his
feet.
Some
would
wrap
their
arms
around
his
legs
and
beg
for
him
to
kiss

them.
Others
would
throw
pieces
of
their
bikinis
at
his
feet.
Every
dream
ended
with

Tommy
and
a
girl
rolling
in
the
sand,
passionately
kissing
like
actors
in
the
foreign
love

stories
with
subtitles.




       Tommy
was
an
equal
opportunity
girl
lover.
He
loved
girls
of
all
shapes
and
sizes.



   
                                           37

Tommy
liked
red
heads,
blondes,
brunettes,
and
black
haired
babes.
Tommy
enjoyed
his

girls
tall
or
short.
The
female
sex
was
beautiful
with
brown,
blue,
or
green
eyes.
If
only
one

of
these
girls
would
return
his
love.
Tommy
tried
at
school
and
on
the
beach
to
attract
the

female
sex,
but
all
of
his
advances
were
rebuked.
Girls
laughed
at
his
red
hair
and
gawky

frame.



        Tommy
decided
to
keep
his
plan
for
attracting
girls
a
secret.
He
was
not
even
going

to
tell
his
friends.
Tommy
was
afraid
they
would
steal
his
idea
or,
even
worse,
scare
off
the

girls.
If
Tommy
was
a
little
dorky,
his
friends
were
complete
losers.
Cappy
O’Connell,
the

Italian
leprechaun,
kept
action
figures
as
collector’s
item
–
everyone
knew
he
still
played

with
them
at
night
before
bed.
Matty
O’Brien
continued
to
wear
Velcro
sneakers.
Rumor

around
town
was
he
never
learned
how
to
tie
shoelaces.
Matty
was
a
late
bloomer.
He
did

not
learn
how
to
ride
a
two‐wheeler
until
he
was
in
the
fourth
grade.
The
plan
would
be
a

complete
failure
if
Tommy’s
friends
knew.




        As
the
days
grew
warmer,
Tommy’s
plan
took
form.
To
impress
the
ladies,
Tommy

decided
to
lift
weights.
He
watched
how
his
sisters
swooned
over
the
six‐pack
abs
of

Hollywood
stars
and
athletes.
Every
morning,
he
would
wake
up
around
six
when
the
air

was
still
cold,
and
no
one
was
awake.
He
would
walk
quietly
down
the
stairs,
tiptoeing

around
the
squeaky
steps
and
floorboards.
In
the
garage,
Tommy
would
listen
to
Bruce

Springsteen
and
pump
iron.
In
a
short
amount
of
time,
he
had
progressed
to
lifting
thirty

pounds
with
ease.
Tommy
swore
changes
were
happening.
The
sleeves
on
his
shirt
were

starting
to
feel
tighter.




        Lifting
weights
was
not
the
only
change.
Tommy
began
styling
his
hair.
He
bought
all

kinds
of
hair
care
products
at
the
local
drug
store
–
volumizing
shampoo,
strong
hold
gel,

mousse,
and
flexible
hold
hair
spray.
He
even
purchased
a
comb
to
help
style
his
new
do.

After
his
early
morning
iron
pumping
sessions,
Tommy
would
step
out
of
the
shower
and

begin
his
hair
care
regime.
He
would
first
use
the
mousse
to
create
lightweight
volume
in

his
hair.
Then,
he
would
apply
a
generous
amount
of
gel.
To
finish
his
coifed
do,
Tommy

would
apply
a
great
deal
of
hair
spray.




        Tommy
was
sure
the
girls
would
take
notice.
He
was
becoming
buff,
and
he
washed

his
bike.
It
was
shining
like
new.
Tommy
had
seen
girls
looking
at
him
as
he
sailed
down



   
                                          38

the
promenade
on
his
bicycle.
He
would
slow
down
his
speed
and
slowly
cruise
by
the
girls

letting
their
eyes
drift
over
his
new
body.
Tommy
would
wink
at
the
girls.
All
the
girls
on

the
promenade
were
beautiful,
but
there
was
only
one
for
Tommy
–
Kate
O’Neil.
Tommy

was
determined
to
kiss
her.



       Kate
O’Neil
was
the
most
beautiful
girl
on
the
beach.
She
lived
down
the
street
from

Tommy
in
a
pink
house
on
the
corner.
If
he
stood
on
his
parent’s
rooftop
balcony,
Tommy

could
see
Kate’s
bedroom.
Standing
on
the
balcony,
Tommy
would
imagine
what
it
would

be
like
to
touch
her
long
brown
hair.
He
wanted
to
kiss
her
but
was
afraid
he
would
never

get
the
nerve.

She
was
the
most
popular
girl
in
school,
and
he
was
Tommy
O’Toole.




       For
ten
years,
Tommy
had
pined
for
Kate.

He
had
loved
her
ever
since
she
dumped

a
bucket
of
sand
on
his
head
at
two.
Together,
they
learned
how
to
ride
two‐wheelers.

Tommy
and
Kate
sat
together
on
the
bus
during
elementary
school.
Once
they
reached

middle
school,
things
between
them
changed.
Kate
became
popular,
and
Tommy
stayed
a

nobody.
Kate
was
a
cheerleader
for
the
middle
school’s
basketball
team.
She
kicked,

jumped,
and
flew
in
the
air
with
the
most
popular
girls
in
school.
It
was
even
rumored
that

she
had
been
seen
holding
hands
with
the
captain
of
the
basketball
team.


       Tommy
was
in
love
with
Kate,
and
he
needed
to
win
her
back.
Tommy
was

determined
to
make
Kate
fall
in
love
with
him.
He
dreamed
they
would
fall
in
love
and
get

married.

Together,
they
would
live
in
a
house
overlooking
the
ocean.
Tommy
and
Kate

would
watch
as
their
five
children
splashed
in
the
water.


       If
he
was
going
to
make
Kate
his
first
kiss,
Tommy
was
going
to
have
to
put
a
plan
in

motion.
The
rumor
around
school
was
that
Mr.
O’Neil
wouldn’t
let
any
of
his
daughters
date

until
they
were
17
years
old.
Tommy
figured
the
key
to
Kate’s
heart
was
through
her
father.

If
Tommy
could
make
Mr.
O’Neil
like
him
then
he
would
definitely
have
a
chance
with
Kate.


Tommy
decided
he
would
start
a
lawn
care
business
–
a
one‐house
business.

He
would
ask

to
mow
the
lawn
in
their
backyard
or
weed
the
flower
beds.
The
O’Neils
had
rocks
in
their

front
yards
like
many
of
the
houses
on
the
street.
Mr.
O’Neil
would
take
notice
of
Tommy’s

responsibility
and
decide
he
was
a
prime
candidate
for
his
daughter.

It
was
a
fool
proof

plan,
except
Tommy’s
dad
lacked
a
lawn
mower.
Since
their
own
front
lawn
was
rocks,
they

had
no
need
for
a
mower.
It
was
a
minor
setback,
but
not
disastrous.





   
                                         39


        On
the
first
day
of
summer,
Tommy
pushed
a
beat
up
red
lawn
mower
up
the
road.

He
borrowed
the
piece
of
crap
from
Crazy
Al
who
lived
down
the
street.
Al
was
a
hoarder

and
had
about
fifteen
of
them
in
his
shed.
Tommy
picked
the
one
that
looked
the
newest.




        “Hello,
Mrs.
O’Neil,
is
Mr.
O’Neil
here?”
Tommy
asked,
smoothing
down
his
brown

hair.




        “Hello,
Tommy.
I’m
sorry,
but
he’s
not
in
right
now.
Can
I
help
you
with
something?”


Mrs.
O’Neil
answered.


        “I’m
starting
a
lawn
care
business,
and
I
wanted
to
know
if
you
would
be
my
first

customer.
I
can
mow
your
grass.
It
wouldn’t
cost
you
a
lot.”




        “That’s
a
pretty
ingenious
endeavor
you’re
planning.
Unfortunately,
our
grass
isn’t

real.

It’s
Astroturf,
and
I
vacuum
it
once
a
week
to
keep
the
sand
from
building
up,”
Mrs.

O’Neil
replied.




        Tommy
hung
his
head
–
so
close,
he
thought.
“Oh,
okay,
well
if
you
have
any
yard

work
you
need
done,
let
me
know.”



        Tommy
grudgingly
pushed
the
lawn
mower
back
down
the
street.
How
could
he
not

have
known
the
O’Neils’
backyard
was
fake
grass?
It
was
the
craziest
thing
he
had
ever

heard.
He
imagined
Mrs.
O’Neil
pushing
a
vacuum
cleaner
across
the
ground
picking
up

sand
and
bugs
crawling
through
the
plastic
blades.
As
he
got
closer
to
Crazy
Al’s
shed
of

horrors,
Tommy
hung
his
head.
He
had
come
so
close,
relatively
speaking,
to
Kate
O’Neil.
As

he
positioned
the
mower
into
the
shed,
Tommy
knew
he
would
have
to
come
up
with

another
plan.
Kate
was
a
junior
lifeguard
in
training;
maybe
he
could
pretend
to
drown
in

the
ocean.
But
then
he
realized
drowning
would
be
unbelievable;
he
was
the
captain
of
the

swim
team.
Tommy
vowed
to
think
of
another
plan.
He
would
keep
trying
until
Kate
O’Neil

was
his.




        A
week
had
passed
and
Tommy
was
no
closer
to
winning
over
Kate.
All
of
his
plans

failed.
The
latest
plan
included
a
flat
tire
on
his
bike.
He
staged
the
scene
to
make
it
look

like
a
rock
caused
the
flat.
Tommy
punctured
his
tire
with
a
pocket
knife
and
placed
a
rock

nearby.

Then,
he
lay
splayed
out
on
the
cement
waiting
for
Kate
to
find
him
on
her
way

back
to
the
beach,
but
Kate
never
did.
Tommy
was
found
by
her
mentor
in
the
lifeguard

training
program,
who
told
him
that
Kate
was
sick.
In
a
desperate
attempt,
Tommy
took
a



   
                                          40

direct
approach.
He
threw
rocks
at
her
window,
but
that
failed,
too.
Nothing
had
worked.

Tommy
was
becoming
discouraged.





       One
day
half
way
through
the
summer,
Tommy
sat
on
the
beach.
Desperation
had

settled
on
Tommy’s
mind.
He
was
willing
to
do
anything
to
win
Kate’s
heart.

Just
down
the

beach,
Kate
was
sitting
in
her
lifeguard
booth
with
two
experienced
guards.
Her
skin
was

tan,
and
her
hair
was
pulled
back
into
a
ponytail.
She
was
wearing
a
red
lifeguard
bathing

suit.
Tommy
thought
she
looked
beautiful.
He
decided
to
talk
to
her.



       “Hey
Kate,”
Tommy
said,
shielding
his
eyes
from
the
sun.




       “Hi,
Tommy,”
Kate
said,
scanning
the
horizon.




       “How's
your
summer?”


       “Fine,
I
guess.
Do
you
want
something?”




       “Uh,
yeah.”
Tommy’s
palms
began
to
sweat.
“Do
you
want
to
get
pizza
tonight?"



       Kate
took
her
eyes
off
the
water
and
stared
at
Tommy.
His
heart
dropped.
He
steeled

his
nerves
for
the
overwhelming
certainty
that
Kate
would
say
no.




       “Uh,
yeah.
Sure.
I'll
be
ready
by
6:30.”

        Tommy’s
heart
soared,
but
he
kept
his
emotion
in
check.
It
was
not
a
kiss,
but
it
was

a
start.









   
                                         41

                                    LOUISE­KAY.

                                              

                               Laronnda
V.
Thompson

                                              



I’m
from
One‐Thousand,
Nine‐hundred
and
Eighty‐Four
dreams
to
fruition,
dreams
altered,

dreams
bloodied,
dreams
mesmerized,
dreams
still
to
fruition



I
am
from
25‐years
of
complexity



And
27‐years
of
simplicity



I
am
a
rifle
dusty
with
fingerprints
tucked
under
a
bed,
attached
to
the
hip,
protected
by
a

hair
trigger



I
am
from
eyes
that
stare
back
from
a
gray
now
beige
picture
that
sometimes
resents
time

more
so
than
age.



I
am
from
a
runaway
from
a
nameless
town
tucked
behind
trees
where
you
can
still
hear

cattle
scream
even
though
the
house
has
burned
down.



I
am
from
a
Harlem
skirt
smacking
tradition
of
young
gals
who
take
pistols
to
church
and

don’t
mince
words
because
they
walked
out
of
tobacco
field
with
a
bushel
and
peck
and
a

hug
around
the
neck.



Yes
I
do
love
you
too,
but
tea
for
the
fever
never
released
the
connection
to
vanishing

fathers,
and
fathers
trying
to
do
better.



I
am
from
changing
weather
in
a
nurturing
pasture
of
brick
and
mortar.



    
                                        42

Smoke
of
one
hand
typing
gave
birth
to
skyping



While
I
was
obsessed
with
Facebook,
I
started
seeing
Twitter



And
I
am
a
would
be
writer
having
an
affair
with
science
fiction
though
I
vowed
to
remain

true
to
what
first
sparked
talent
in
me



Poetry



I
am
poetry,
slammed
in
iambic
pentameter
with
no
harmony
but
a
perfect
rhyme
scheme

who
repeats
mistake
like
a
villanelle
because
I
can’t
remain
faithful
since
I
don’t
have
the

self‐esteem
to
say
everything
I
mean
I
get
hiccups
like
a
haiku
leaving
you
to
fill
in
the

blanks.



I
think
before
I
write.
Even
if
not
before
I
speak.




I
am
from
a
voice
that
says
don’t
go
off
the
porch,
but
really
mean
don’t
risk
my
dreams



I
am
sustained
by
hope
in
things
unseen.




From
your
lips
to
GOD’s
ears.




















   
                                          43

                              THE
PERFECT
WOMAN

                                               

                                    Janea
Brachfeld






        Perfection.


        Sarah
was
well
on
her
way
now.
She
had
just
signed
the
lease
on
her
new
apartment

and
it
was
exactly
what
she
had
been
looking
for.
It
was
an
8th
floor
suite
overlooking

Central
Park,
and
so
far,
her
neighbors
were
exactly
how
she
wanted
them.
She
had
only

seen
three
of
the
other
tenants
on
her
floor
and
not
a
single
one
had
acknowledged
her
in

the
elevator
or
in
the
hall.
It
was
perfect.


        Three
days
later
she
was
practically
all
moved
in.
Sarah
hadn’t
kept
many
things

from
her
last
apartment
besides
a
few
plain
pieces
of
furniture,
some
basic
black
clothes

and
shoes,
and
some
other
home
essentials
like
a
microwave,
plates,
silverware,
and
a
bed.

She
had
simply
put
the
rest
out
to
the
curb
when
she
moved
out.
Everything
else
she
would

need
to
make
this
new
apartment
the
way
it
needed
to
be,
special,
perfect
even,
she
would

soon
go
out
and
buy.
She
had
kept
nothing
personal,
nothing
with
any
indication
of
style
or

taste,
from
her
last
apartment.
It
didn’t
match
who
she
was
here
now
anyway.


        Once
she
felt
that
there
was
nothing
more
she
could
do,
Sarah
put
on
her
favorite

outfit:
tight
black
leggings,
an
off‐the‐shoulder,
baggy
black
sweater,
black
flip‐flops,
and

her
large
black
sunglasses.
She
pulled
her
currently
blonde
hair
into
a
ponytail,
tucked
her

little
black
notebook
under
her
arm,
and
set
out.


        Glancing
at
her
watch,
Sarah
began
to
pick
up
her
pace
as
she
headed
towards
The

Boathouse,
a
restaurant
located
in
the
Southeast
corner
of
the
park.
It
was
12:49
and
if
she

was
late,
the
day
would
be
ruined.
If
she
didn’t
get
the
information
she
needed,
her
plans

could
not
progress
any
further.


        Finally
Sarah
arrived
and
took
a
seat
in
an
empty
corner
next
to
the
stairs
leading

down
to
the
water‐side
seating.
There
she
would
be
unseen
by,
but
in
clear
earshot
of,
the

closest
table,
the
one
with
the
“Reserved”
sign
placed
in
its
center.
He
would
be
here
soon.



   
                                         44


      “Hi.
My
name
is
Jen
and
I
will
be
your
server
today.
Would
you
like
to
hear
our
lunch

specials
for
today?”


      “No.
Just
bring
me
a
cup
of
coffee
in
a
to‐go
cup
and
I
will
require
nothing
else.”


      “Okay,
sure.
Do
you
want
cream
and
sugar
in
your
coffee?”


      “It
doesn’t
matter.
Just
go.”


      The
waitress
finally
left,
coming
back
a
moment
later
with
the
coffee.
Sarah
didn’t

even
notice
the
hurt
expression
on
the
girl’s
face.
Instead,
she
got
comfortable
and
opened

her
notebook.
She
began
to
skim
through
her
most
recent
entries.
She
knew
so
much

already.
He
was
a
programmer
for
IBM,
a
hockey
fanatic,
particular
about
his
food,
and

according
to
the
New
York
Magazine’s
50
Most
Eligible
Bachelors
in
New
York
list,
he
was

currently
available.
There
were
only
two
more
things
she
needed
to
find
out:
where
he

lived
and
where
she
could
meet
him.


      “Here
you
are,
Mr.
Brooks.
Enjoy
your
lunch.”


      He
also
ate
at
The
Boathouse
every
Wednesday
at
one
o’clock
with
a
few
of
his
co‐
workers.
This
had
taken
very
little
effort
to
learn.
It
seems
that
secretaries
knew

everything,
and
rarely
kept
it
to
themselves.
Sarah
settled
into
her
chair,
sipped
her
coffee,

and
began
to
take
notes.


      Today
he
was
dressed
as
usual:
a
stylish
but
comfortable
grey
suit
with
a
dark
blue

collared
shirt
and
a
light
blue
tie.
His
guests
on
this
particular
day
consisted
of
a
short,

pudgy,
balding
man
and
a
tall,
thin,
attractive
blonde.
The
blonde’s
smiles,
light
touches,

and
incessant
laughter
–
all
obvious
flirtations
–
seemed
to
go
unnoticed
by
Mr.
Brooks.
He

instead
smiled
coyly
at
the
curvy
brunette
waitress,
even
glancing
at
her
retreating
form
as

she
walked
away
to
fetch
their
drinks,
his
order
being
a
dark
lager.
Sarah
made
some

notations
in
here
notebook:
likes
brunettes,
annoyed
by
“The
Blonde,”
drinks
lagers.


      “So
Nick,”
said
the
blonde.
“Any
plans
this
weekend?”
She
sure
wasn’t
subtle.


      “Actually,
yes.
A
friend
of
mine
has
a
box
for
the
Ranger
game
this
Saturday.
Other

than
that,
though,
it’s
just
me,
Max,
and
Cindy
for
the
rest
of
the
weekend.”


      Perfect!
A
Ranger
game
was
just
the
place
for
someone
to
casually
meet
a
stranger.

She
was
already
beginning
to
picture
her
plans
in
her
head,
how
she
would
get
his

attention.
But
who
were
Max
and
Cindy?
Could
Nick
possibly
have
kids
she
did
not
know



   
                                          45

about?
That
could
definitely
throw
a
monkey
wrench
into
her
carefully
plotted
plans.
She

noted
the
possibility
in
her
notebook,
reminding
herself
to
find
out
who
they
were
as
soon

as
possible
and
how
attached
to
them
he
was.
Personal
connections
to
too
many
people

would
make
him
a
less
attractive
choice.


       On
Saturday
night,
Sarah
was
ready.
She
was
dressed
for
the
occasion
wearing
a

new
ensemble
she
had
just
picked
up
the
day
before:
blue
Ranger
jersey,
fitted
jeans,
and

short‐heeled
boots.
Her
hair
was
freshly
done,
now
a
dark
caramel
color
that
hung
in
light

layers
around
her
shoulders.
She
was
wearing
minimal
make‐up
and
had
selected
small

diamond
studs
because
she
had
noticed
a
look
of
annoyance
cross
Nick’s
face
when
the

blonde
had
kissed
his
cheek
after
lunch
and
smacked
him
in
the
face
with
her
large

chandelier
earrings.
She
was
ready.


       It
had
taken
some
scheming
for
Sarah
to
get
a
ticket
to
tonight’s
game.
She
had
paid

a
pretty
penny
for
a
ticket
at
such
short
notice,
but
it
didn’t
matter.
She
only
needed
it
to

get
in
the
arena.
She
would
never
even
go
to
her
seat.
Sarah
had
also
done
her
homework

on
hockey
and
the
New
York
Rangers.
Tonight
they
were
facing
the
Philadelphia
Flyers,
a

rival
game
that
typically
brought
fights
to
the
arena,
and
a
fact
that
had
helped
form
her

plan.
The
only
obstacle
she
still
had
to
overcome
was
how
to
get
the
young
man
serving

Nick’s
box
to
disappear
for
a
while,
forcing
Nick
to
have
to
leave
the
box
to
fetch
his
own

beer.
This
turned
out
to
be
easier
than
she
had
planned,
as
the
young
man
responded

quickly
to
her
flirtations
and
the
bribe
she
discreetly
slipped
into
his
back
pocket.
A
small

pinch
had
sent
the
boy
skipping
away,
thus
leaving
the
box
unattended.
Young
men
were
so

easy
to
manipulate.


       Sarah
took
her
post,
situating
herself
between
the
box
and
the
concession
stand
so

that
she
could
clearly
see
the
door
without
being
too
obvious.
At
the
end
of
the
period,
sure

enough,
Nick
emerged
from
the
box.
He
looked
around
unhappily,
mumbling
under
his

breath
about
the
lack
of
good
help,
and
headed
towards
the
concession
stand.
Here
was
her

chance.
She
quickly
spotted
a
few
Ranger
fans,
picked
out
the
one
who
seemed
the
most

intoxicated,
and
quickly
ran
toward
him,
putting
a
frightened
look
on
her
face.


       “Oh,
thank
god
you’re
here!
I
can’t
find
my
boyfriend
and
I
just
saw
your
Rangers

jersey
so
I
was
hoping
you’d
just
stand
with
me
a
few
moments.
That
group
of
Flyers
fans



   
                                         46

over
there
just
wouldn’t
stop
commenting
on
how
it
was
too
bad
my
breasts
were
covered

in
blue,
and
I
got
a
little
nervous.”
Sarah
pointed
towards
a
group
of
Flyers
fans
who
also

looked
intoxicated.
She
knew
it
didn’t
really
matter
what
she
had
said,
but
pitting
men

against
one
another
was
always
easier
when
sports
and
protecting
women
were
involved.


      “What?!
Hey
buddy.
Who
the
hell
do
you
think
you
are?”


      Sure
enough,
a
fight
broke
out
between
the
two
groups,
no
one
seeming
to
notice
or

care
about
Sarah
anymore.
They
were
now
focused
on
the
rivalry.
Carefully,
she
placed

herself
near
the
group
and
as
Nick
walked
by
carrying
a
few
beers
for
him
and
whoever
he

was
with,
Sarah
made
her
move.


      “Oh!”
She
made
a
quite
convincing
cry
as
she
pretended
to
be
bumped
by
the

fighting
mob
and
wheeled
right
into
Nick,
causing
him
to
lose
control
of
the
beers,
all
over

her.


      “Oh
my
god!
I’m
so
sorry!
Watch
it,
you
jerks.
Here,
let
me
help
you
get
cleaned
up.”


      “Oh,
it’s
totally
my
fault.
I
should’ve
steered
clear
of
this
mess
going
on
over
here.

Please,
let
me
buy
you
a
new
round
of
beers.”


      “Not
a
chance.
I’ll
even
buy
you
one.
Think
of
it
as
a
simple
guy’s
sorry
attempt
at

making
up
for
my
clumsiness.
After
all,
I
made
a
mess
of
such
a
beautiful
lady.”
As
Nick

helped
her
clean
herself
up
and
bought
new
beers,
Sarah
smiled
to
herself.
Perfect.


      “Thank
you.
That
was
so
sweet
of
you,
but
you
have
to
let
me
return
the
favor
some

time.
You
can’t
just
buy
a
girl
a
drink
and
not
let
me
at
least
make
up
for
ruining
your
first

few.”


      “Ruining
my
first
few
beers
made
my
night.
But
if
you
insist
on
seeing
me
again,
how

can
a
guy
say
no?
But
first
you
have
to
tell
me
your
name.”


      “Sarah.
Sarah
Peters.”


      “It’s
a
pleasure
to
have
bumped
into
you,
Sarah.
I’m
Nick.
Nick
Brooks.”


      They
smiled
at
one
another
and
Sarah
knew
she
was
in.




      As
Sarah
sat
on
her
couch
going
over
her
notes
on
Nick
and
adding
the
new
details

she
had
learned
the
night
before
at
the
Ranger
game,
she
began
to
make
her
next
plans.
She

and
Nick
had
spent
some
time
talking
outside
his
box
seats
until
he
invited
her
in.
She
met



   
                                          47

two
men
inside,
college
friends
apparently.
They
talked
about
the
Rangers,
the
city,
Nick’s

job.
Sarah
had
done
an
excellent
job
of
keeping
the
conversation
on
Nick
and
off
of
herself.

She
had
entertained
his
friends
a
little
bit
by
allowing
them
to
discuss
themselves
as
well,

but
she
was
careful
to
make
sure
that
Nick
knew
that
her
focus
had
been
all
on
him.
His

smile
showed
itself
more
than
once
and
she
had
made
mental
notes
on
what
things
had

caused
it
to
surface:
subtle
compliments,
awareness
of
his
interests,
her
matching
his
likes

and
avoiding
his
dislikes.
When
she
had
expressed
sharing
his
love
of
animals,
Nick’s
smile

had
been
the
brightest
she
had
seen
the
whole
time.
By
the
end
of
the
night,
she
had

thoroughly
impressed
Nick
and
his
friends,
enough
that
he
asked
if
he
could
call
her
for
a

date.
She
informed
him
that
she
had
just
moved
into
the
city
and
would
need
to
call
him

instead.
Keeping
the
control
was
important.
She
didn’t
want
to
risk
him
not
calling
for
one

reason
or
another.
She
had
to
keep
this
moving.


        Early
in
the
evening,
Sarah
decided
it
was
time
to
call
Nick.
A
call
the
next
day
was

always
a
surefire
way
to
show
healthy
interest
and
to
make
sure
that
he
did
not
go
too
long

without
thinking
about
her.
She
wanted
to
eventually
get
him
to
the
same
level
as
her.
She

wanted
him
to
be
as
24/7
focused
on
her
as
she
was
on
him.
He
soon
would
be
if
she
kept

to
her
carefully
planned
schedule
and
plans.
He
needed
someone
to
make
him
smile,

someone
to
share
all
he
had
worked
for
in
his
life
with.
He
needed
her.
She
was
his
perfect

woman
and
he
only
needed
a
few
more
strategically
planned
events
to
see
it.


        Dialing
his
number,
Sarah
took
a
deep
breath.
She
selected
her
pre‐planned

emotions
as
she
listened
to
the
ringing:
nonchalance,
flirtation,
clearly
marked
interest,
and

mystery.



        “Hello?”


        “Hi,
Nick?
It’s
Sarah,
from
the
game
last
night?”


        “Oh,
of
course.
Hi!
How
are
you?
I’m
so
glad
you
called.
I
was
actually
just
thinking

about
you.”


        “Good.
Well
I
was
calling
to
say
hi,
as
well
as
to
see
if
you’re
free
one
night
this
week.

I’d
like
to
take
you
out
to
dinner,
if
you’re
interested.
You
promised
to
let
me
make
up
for

ruining
your
drinks,
remember?”




   
                                            48


       “Of
course
I
remember
and
of
course
I’d
love
to
go
out
to
dinner
with
you.
But
you

know
what
would
make
up
for
the
drinks?
If
you
let
me
take
you
out.
A
beautiful
woman

like
you
is
reward
enough
for
a
few
measly
beers.”


       “Oh,
you’re
so
sweet.
If
you
insist,
then
of
course.
How
about
Thursday
night?”


       “Thursday
would
be
perfect.
I’ll
have
my
assistant
call
you
Thursday
afternoon
for

your
address
and
I’ll
pick
you
up
at
eight
o’clock.
Dress
for
dinner
and
dancing.
See
you

then,
okay?”


       “Sounds
wonderful.
I’ll
be
looking
forward
to
Thursday
all
week.”


       “I
will
too.
Goodbye,
Sarah.”


       “Goodbye,
Nick.”


       As
she
hung
up,
she
couldn’t
help
but
feel
satisfied.
The
conversation
had
gone

perfectly.
She
had
secured
a
date
and
even
learned
that
he
was
the
chivalrous
type.
Now

she
had
three
days
to
make
sure
that
everything
went
perfectly
on
Thursday.
She
would

need
a
dress,
heels,
and
a
bottle
of
wine.
She
would
also
need
to
do
a
little
shopping.
If

everything
stayed
on
schedule,
she
would
have
to
have
her
new
apartment
ready
by
this

weekend.



       By
Thursday,
Sarah
had
found
the
perfect
ensemble
for
the
date.
It
was
a
black

halter
dress
that
tied
around
her
neck
and
was
cut
low
to
her
sternum.
It
flowed
to
just

below
her
knees
and
though
it
showed
some
skin
around
her
neck
and
back,
it
was
still

conservative
enough
not
to
show
too
much;
just
enough
to
make
her
both
desirable
and

classically
beautiful.
She
had
also
purchased
a
few
items
for
her
apartment
like
classic

furniture
pieces,
single‐toned
area
rugs,
and
a
plush
beige
couch.
She
still
was
unsure
of

what
color
schemes
and
stylistic
accents
to
go
with.
After
seeing
Nick’s
apartment
tonight,

she
would
know
more
to
complete
her
apartment.


       The
date
went
off
perfectly.
Nick
arrived
at
eight
o’clock
sharp
(he
was
punctual)
in

a
black
limo
and
was
dressed
to
impress
in
a
dark
purple
button‐down
with
the
top
two

buttons
left
open
to
reveal
a
strong,
sculpted
collarbone,
indicating
that
the
rest
of
him
was

also
just
as
sculpted.
Sarah
played
the
coy,
mysterious
beauty,
rarely
sharing
much
about

herself
that
wasn’t
exactly
what
he
would
have
liked,
and
won
over
his
affections,
earning

herself
a
rose
from
a
street
vendor
on
their
way
from
the
restaurant
to
the
disco.
The



   
                                          49

restaurant
had
been
exclusive
and
their
table
had
been
even
more
so.
Privacy
was
certainly

a
strong
preference
of
Nick’s.
She
had
let
him
order
for
them
both,
being
completely
willing

to
enjoy
whatever
it
was
that
he
had
ordered.
They
had
shared
a
bottle
of
expensive
red

wine
with
their
meal,
a
year
Nick
had
chosen
carefully
for
the
occasion.
Even
the
dancing

had
gone
well,
Sarah
allowing
Nick
to
lead
her
across
the
floor
to
the
songs
he
liked
and

fetch
glasses
of
wine
and
water
for
them
when
the
songs
were
not
to
his
liking.
Only
once

had
she
had
to
guess
at
the
emotion
he
was
searching
for
when
he
asked
her
why
she
had

moved
to
the
city.



       “I
needed
a
change.
Some
things
had
not
gone
as
planned
in
Seattle
for
me
and
I

decided
that
a
fresh
start
in
a
new
city
was
just
what
I
needed.
Lucky
I
did
though,
wasn’t

it?”


       “Absolutely,”
he
had
replied,
with
a
smile.
Sarah
only
hoped
that
mention
of
a

specific
place
did
not
prompt
him
in
the
future
to
inquire
any
further
about
her
past
life.


       When
they
finally
left
the
disco
and
were
back
in
the
limo,
Nick
asked
her
if
she

would
like
for
him
to
take
her
home,
as
it
was
getting
late.



       “Actually,
I
brought
a
bottle
of
wine
for
you,
to
make
up
for
the
spilled
beers,

whether
you
like
it
or
not.
We
could
go
to
your
place
for
a
little
while
to
have
a
glass,
and

then
I
would
like
it
if
you
would
take
me
home.
I
insist
on
doing
at
least
one
thing
for
you

on
this
wonderful
evening.”


       “That
sounds
great.
To
my
flat
we
go.”


       Nick’s
flat
was
actually
quite
near
Sarah’s
new
apartment.
When
he
unlocked
his

door,
Sarah
entered
and
immediately
began
to
take
mental
notes
about
his
stylistic
choices,

color
preferences,
and
his
focus
on
technology.
She
would
need
to
remember
every
detail

for
her
shopping
excursion
tomorrow.


       “You
have
a
lovely
home,
Nick.”


       “Thanks.
Actually,
all
of
it
is
really
me.
No
decorator
or
anything.
I
wanted
this
place

to
be
a
real
home
for
me.
Somewhere
I
could
feel
truly
at
peace.
There
are
only
two
more

things
you
have
to
see
to
really
know
that
this
place
is
me.
And
they
should
be
hiding

somewhere
in
the
bedroom.
Max!
Cindy!
Come
here,
babies.
I
want
you
to
meet
someone.”




   
                                           50


       This
was
it.
Max
and
Cindy.
This
moment
was
make
or
break
time.
Nick
would
have

to
be
replaced
if
two
children
came
running
out
towards
her.


       Instead,
two
cats
came
bounding
out
of
the
room
and
began
rubbing
themselves
all

over
Nick’s
ankles
as
he
scratched
them
vigorously.
Sarah
let
out
a
sigh
of
relief.
Cats
could

be
handled.
She
put
on
a
bright
smile
and
crouched
to
make
their
acquaintance.



       “Hello,
Max.
Hello,
Cindy.
It’s
a
pleasure
to
meet
you
both.”


       Hearing
Nick’s
laugh,
Sarah
looked
up
at
him.
His
smile
said
it
all.
Her
simple

acceptance
of
the
two
cats
and
her
way
of
seeming
lighthearted
had
secured
her
spot
with

Nick.
The
rest
would
just
be
icing
on
the
cake.
Perfect.


       The
next
few
weeks
went
by
so
quickly
for
Sarah.
She
had
made
sure
that
her

apartment
casually
matched
Nick’s
tastes.
By
taking
his
style
and
décor
choices
and
adding

more
feminine
touches,
like
throw
pillows
and
soft
fabrics,
she
was
able
to
hide
the
fact

that
hers
was
modeled
completely
after
his,
while
still
making
it
look
like
they
were
so

much
alike.
They
spent
more
and
more
time
together
every
day.
He
became
accustomed
to

having
her
stay
over
most
nights
when
he
didn’t
have
to
get
up
extra
early
for
work.
He
had

even
insisted
on
staying
at
her
place
a
few
nights
just
so
she
didn’t
feel
like
he
was
hogging

all
the
home
time.
Little
did
he
know
that
home
was
a
concept
she
had
never
really
grasped.



       They
went
out
on
many
dates
and
she
met
his
coworkers,
even
the
blonde
from
The

Boathouse,
who
had
been
thoroughly
annoyed
that
Nick
was
no
longer
the
available
man

he
had
been.
Sarah
learned
more
about
Nick
every
day
and
with
each
new
note
in
her

notebook,
she
came
closer
and
closer
to
winning
him
over.
Each
day
was
carefully
planned

down
to
her
comments,
questions,
and
encouragements.
Soon
her
life
would
reach

perfection
and
she
could
finally
feel
what
she
had
been
working
so
hard
for.
Happiness.
She

could
feel
it
coming.
It
was
all
she
wanted
and
she
deserved
it.
Maybe
Nick
would
finally
be

the
one
to
make
her
feel
that
way.
Make
her
feel.


       It
was
finally
time
for
the
checklist.
It
was
Tuesday
and
Nick
was
at
work,
stuck
all

day
in
long
meetings.
Sarah
was
at
her
apartment
sitting
on
her
couch
with
a
large
box

marked
“Books”
sitting
in
front
of
her
on
the
coffee
table.
She
had
drawn
the
blinds,

unplugged
the
phone,
and
locked
the
door.
No
one
knew
she
was
home
and
she
could
not




   
                                         51

be
disturbed.
This
was
the
most
important
day
in
her
schedule.
This
was
the
point
where

she
would
prove
beyond
doubt
to
herself
that
she
was
right
where
she
was
supposed
to
be.


       As
Sarah
cut
open
the
tightly
secured
tape
with
a
knife,
she
took
a
deep
breath.
She

lifted
the
black
notebooks
from
the
box
and
spread
them
out
on
the
table
in
chronological

order.
Each
notebook
was
marked
with
a
city
and
state
on
the
front,
nothing
more.
There

were
twelve
in
total.
Maybe
Nick
would
be
lucky
number
thirteen.
Carefully,
Sarah

removed
a
piece
of
paper
from
the
back
of
book
number
twelve,
marked
“Seattle,

Washington.”
She
unfolded
the
paper
and
read
over
her
checklist.



       Peter
had
been
wonderful.
He
was
a
struggling
musician
who
had
needed
a
muse.

Sarah
had
been
that
muse
for
him.
She
had
made
the
checklist
and
it
had
been
perfect.
She

had
been
so
sure
that
he
would
finally
be
the
one
to
make
her
feel
happiness.

Unfortunately,
she
had
been
wrong.
Only
three
weeks
after
she
had
made
the
checklist,
he

had
made
his
fatal
mistake.
He
wrote
a
song
for
her
and
played
it
at
his
favorite
club.
He

called
her
“the
perfect
woman.”
He
had
listed
every
detail
about
her
that
he
loved
and
that

made
her
the
one
for
him.
Every
detail
that
she
had
planned
so
carefully
for
him.

Everything
she
had
become
for
him.
She
finally
trusted
him
to
love
her,
so
she
revealed

herself
to
him.
She
told
him
her
secret,
her
one
single
desire,
and
he
did
not
respond

properly.
How
could
she
have
been
so
wrong
about
Peter?
About
them
all?
Why
didn’t
they

understand
that
they
needed
her
and
without
her
they
were
nothing?
Peter
had
left
shortly

after
she
told
him
the
truth.
No
one
ever
saw
him
again.
No
one
ever
saw
any
of
them
again.


       Sarah
took
out
a
blank
sheet
of
paper
and
a
pen
and
began
to
make
Nick’s
checklist.

She
listed
every
thing
he
was,
every
thing
she
was
in
his
mind,
and
every
thing
she
required

from
him.
The
checklist
was
perfect.
She
had
become
perfect.
They
were
perfect.
There
was

nothing
left
she
needed
to
do.
It
was
finally
time
to
let
Nick
in
on
her
secret.
Tonight.

Tonight
was
the
night.
Sarah
then
reached
into
the
bottom
of
the
box
marked
“Books”
and

lifted
out
the
last
item
within
it.
It
was
an
envelope
within
which
was
her
checklist.
The

checklist
of
her
perfect
man,
her
perfect
life.
She
would
give
it
to
Nick
tonight.


       That
evening,
Nick
and
Sarah
sat
down
to
dinner
at
Nick’s
flat.
Sarah
had
cooked
his

favorite
meal,
steak
and
mashed
potatoes,
and
set
the
table
beautifully.
She
was
casually

dressed
in
slimming
jeans
and
his
favorite
top
on
her,
the
light
blue
cashmere
sweater
he



   
                                         52

had
bought
her
that
he
said
brought
out
the
color
in
her
eyes
and
made
her
as
soft
on
the

outside
as
she
was
on
the
inside.
The
scene
was
set
perfectly.



       “This
is
so
great,
sweetie.
Dinner
looks
wonderful,
perfect
even.
Everything
is

perfect.
You’re
perfect.”
He
smiled
lovingly
at
her.


       “I
know.
And
I’ve
waited
so
long
to
hear
you
say
that.
I’ve
worked
so
hard
to
make

everything
perfect
for
you.
I
would
want
nothing
less
for
you.
And
I
think
it’s
finally
time.

Nick,
there’s
something
I’ve
been
waiting
to
tell
you.
Waiting
for
the
perfect
time,
and
I

think
this
is
finally
it.”


       “What
is
it,
my
darling?
You
can
tell
me
anything.”


       “I
know.
And
I
think
you’re
finally
ready.
My
whole
life
has
been
about
perfection.

I’ve
never
wanted
anything
else
in
the
world.
I
simply
want
to
be
happy.
I’ve
spent
the
past

few
months
doing
everything
to
make
sure
that
you’re
happy,
make
your
life
with
me

perfect.
Every
single
detail.
Now
it’s
your
turn
to
do
the
same
for
me.
You’re
happy
now,

and
now
it’s
my
turn.
Can
you
do
that
for
me?
Can
you
make
me
happy?
Can
you
make
my

life
perfect?”


       “I
don’t
understand.
Sarah,
aren’t
you
happy
with
me?
Don’t
I
make
you
happy?”


       “You
can.
And
if
you
agree,
you
will.
From
before
we
even
met,
I
began
making

myself
into
your
perfect
woman.
I’ve
done
everything
for
you.
Everything
I
am
is
for
you.

And
now
your
life
is
finally
perfect.
Now
it’s
time
for
you
to
do
that
for
me.
I
want
you
to

become
my
perfect
man.
Will
you
do
for
me
what
I
have
done
for
you?”


       “Sarah,
I’m
confused.
I
still
don’t
understand.”


       “Here,
I
have
something
for
you.
It
will
clear
things
up.”
She
handed
him
the

envelope
and
waited
patiently
while
he
read
its
contents.


       When
Nick
finished
reading,
the
look
on
his
face
was
nothing
short
of
baffled,
and

scared.


       “Let
me
see
if
I
understand
this
correctly.
You
want
me
to
do
everything
on
this
list?

You
want
me
to
be
everything
on
this
list?”


       “Yes.
See,
I’m
everything
on
your
list.”
She
handed
him
the
checklist
she
had
made

for
him.




   
                                          53


         “Sarah,
this
is
crazy.
You
want
me
to
become
someone
I’m
not
for
you?
And
yeah,

this
is
my
perfect
life,
perfect
woman
checklist,
but
I
don’t
need
you
to
be
everything
on
this

list.
I
just
want
you
to
be
you.”


         “You
don’t
understand.
I
did
all
of
that
for
you
and
now
you
have
to
do
all
of
this
for

me.
It’s
what
is
supposed
to
happen.
I
do
for
you,
then
you
do
for
me.
If
I
make
your
life

perfect,
then
you
make
my
life
perfect.
It’s
how
it
works.”


         “It’s
how
what
works?
Love
is
about
sharing
who
you
are
with
the
other
person.
It’s

about
being
happy
together
and
making
each
other
happy
at
the
same
time.
Not
first
one

then
the
other.”


         “No.
First
you,
then
me.
We
can’t
both
be
happy
at
the
same
time.
You’re
not
my

perfect
man.
This
is
my
perfect
man.”
Sarah
shook
her
list
in
his
face,
becoming
frustrated.

She
was
losing
her
control
over
her
emotions,
her
actions.
She
had
not
planned
for
this.
She

didn’t
know
what
she
would
do
without
her
carefully
plotted
plans.


         “Sarah,
I
don’t
know
who
told
you
that
that’s
how
life
works,
but
they
were
wrong.

Love
is
about
sharing
yourself
with
someone
else.
Being
happy
with
the
person
who

already
fits
who
you’re
looking
for.
You
can’t
create
your
perfect
man.
You’re
supposed
to

find
him.
You
can’t
make
him
like
some
doll.”


         “NO!”
Sarah
lost
all
control.
Nick
was
wrong.
She
had
always
known
that
this
was

how
life
was.
If
she
was
perfect
for
someone
else,
then
they
would
return
the
favor
by
being

perfect
for
her.
She
had
not
been
taught
wrong.
She
flashed
back
to
her
childhood
home

with
her
father:


         “Now
listen
carefully,
Sarah,”
he
had
said.
“This
is
important.
Love
is
about

perfection.
Life
is
about
perfection.
If
you
are
perfect
for
others,
others
will
be
perfect
for

you.
Never
forget
that.
You
can’t
be
happy
if
you
don’t
earn
it.
Be
perfect,
earn
perfect.

Know
exactly
what
you
want
and
one
day
you
will
get
it,
as
long
as
you
earn
it
first.
Do
you

understand?”


         Sarah,
only
7
years
old
at
the
time,
looked
up
at
her
father,
fear
on
her
face.
He
was
a

large
man,
a
God‐fearing
man,
who
had
put
the
fear
of
disobedience
in
her
since
birth.
“Yes,

Daddy.
Giving
perfection
gets
perfection.
Giving
happiness
gets
happiness.
I
understand.”




   
                                            54


       She
did
understand.
He
had
drilled
it
into
her
so
fiercely
that
she
could
never
forget

it.
She
had
followed
her
father’s
words
perfectly
her
whole
life.
He
had
died
on
her
before

he
had
the
chance
to
be
perfect
for
her
like
she
had
been
for
him.
She
had
been
the
perfect

daughter,
the
perfect
housekeeper,
the
perfect
little
woman
of
the
house.
She
had
cooked,

cleaned,
waited
on
him
hand
and
foot,
and
repressed
every
desire
and
emotion
she
had

ever
had.
He
had
told
her
every
single
day
that
if
she
didn’t,
she
would
be
punished

severely
because
little
girls
were
supposed
to
obey
their
fathers,
and
if
she
did,
she
would

be
rewarded.
He
had
promised
that
once
she
fulfilled
her
daughterly
duties,
he
would

become
the
perfect
father
for
her
in
return.
He
had
died
of
heart
failure
before
she
had

earned
her
turn,
when
she
was
only
16.
He
left
her
with
only
a
mission
to
earn
perfection

and
an
inheritance
of
stock
in
Apple,
which
turned
out
to
be
the
solution
to
many
of
her

problems.
As
she
spent
so
much
time
becoming
the
perfect
woman
while
searching
for
her

perfect
man,
she
could
not
be
tied
down
by
jobs
and
ties
to
anyone.


       Sarah
was
alone
at
16,
set
free
into
a
world
she
had
never
known,
with
no
one
to

turn
to,
no
one
to
help
her,
and
she
clung
desperately
to
the
only
thing
she
knew.
She
had

tried
so
hard
her
whole
life
to
earn
the
perfection
her
father
had
made
her
crave.
It
was
all

she
had
ever
wanted,
all
she
understood
in
the
world
that
had
been
so
cruel
to
her
once
she

was
alone.
Why
didn’t
they
understand?
Why
didn’t
they
want
to
be
perfect
for
her
like
she

had
been
for
them?
Was
she
not
perfect
enough?
What
had
she
missed?
What
had
she
done

wrong?
Nick
speaking
snapped
her
back
to
reality.


       “Look
Sarah,
I
don’t
know
what’s
wrong
with
you
right
now,
but
that
look
on
your

face
is
scaring
me.
Maybe
you
should
just
go
and
we
can
talk
about
this
tomorrow
or

something.
I
really
have
to
get
to
bed
early
anyway,
you
know,
early
morning
meeting.”


       Sarah
looked
at
his
face
and
could
see
that
he
would
never
do
what
she
wanted
him

to
do.
He
did
not
feel
she
had
earned
her
perfection.
She
had
lost
him.
He
would
run.
He

would
tell
on
her,
reveal
her
secret
to
someone
who
would
try
to
misconstrue
her

intentions.
She
had
only
made
that
mistake
once,
a
long
time
ago.
After
being
locked
up
in

an
institute
for
several
weeks
because
of
her
first
attempt
at
finding
perfection,
she
had

never
let
that
happen
again.
Nick
would
be
no
different.
Sarah
swallowed
deeply
and

regained
control
over
her
emotions.
She
pushed
them
back
down
to
where
they
belonged.




   
                                          55


       “Okay,
Nick.
That’s
fine.
Go
to
bed.
I’ll
see
you
soon.
I’m
sorry
things
had
to
end
like

this
tonight.
I
just
wanted
you
to
be
happy.
I’m
glad
that
you
were.
Goodnight.”


       As
Sarah
stood
to
leave,
she
scooped
up
the
two
checklists
and
grabbed
her
keys.

She
took
one
last
look
at
Nick,
his
face
showing
what
she
had
tried
so
hard
to
avoid.
He
was

unhappy.
She
could
not
have
this.
She
would
return
later
to
take
away
his
unhappiness.
He

would
not
remain
unhappy
for
long.



       Once
Sarah
was
at
her
apartment,
she
changed
into
all
black
and
form‐fitting
clothes

with
black
sneakers
and
a
black
cap
to
top
it
off.
She
unlocked
her
bottom
desk
drawer
and

removed
a
syringe
and
a
vial.
She
carefully
slipped
them
into
a
small
black
backpack,
along

with
a
set
of
keys
marked
“Nick”,
and
took
one
last
look
around
her
apartment.
She
would

have
to
call
the
landlord
in
the
morning.
She
would
also
need
to
find
a
new
man
who

needed
her.
She
opened
a
drawer
in
the
table
next
to
the
door
and
removed
a
folder.
While

she
would
wait
for
Nick
to
go
to
sleep,
she
would
peruse
her
options
with
only
one
thought

in
her
mind:
who
would
she
become
perfect
for
next?



       As
Sarah
closed
her
door
behind
her,
she
let
out
one
last
sigh.
Sarah
Peters
was
no

more.
Her
search
for
perfection
would
have
to
continue
with
a
new
name,
a
new
identity,
a

new
city,
and
a
new
bachelor.
She
had
not
found
her
perfect
man
yet,
and
she
had
vowed

long
ago
not
to
stop
searching
until
she
did.


















   
                                           56

                               EMOTIONAL
CUTTING

                                               

                                       Lana
Morelli

                                                 

                                                 


       My
therapist
says
I’m
an
emotional
cutter.
I’ve
made
a
nasty
habit
of
tearing
myself

down
in
a
pathetic
attempt
to
motivate
myself
to
do
better.
It’s
a
twisted
cycle
that
doesn’t

make
much
sense.
Amy,
the
therapist,
didn’t
start
as
my
therapist.
She
started
as
the
School

Psychologist
and
the
emotional
cutting
diagnosis
occurred
during
one
of
our
earlier

sessions.


I
was
sitting
on
the
tiny
couch
in
Amy’s
office.
The
first
time
I
met
her
I
noticed
she
has
a


“Mona
Lisa”
look
on
her
face.
Not
quite
a
smile,
not
quite
a
smirk,
definitely
not
lifeless.
It

was
an
expression
that
left
me
wondering
what
she
was
thinking.
I
didn’t
like
not
knowing.

It
was
twenty
degrees
too
warm
and
I
was
starting
to
sweat
from
the
heat
and
from
being

uncomfortable.
Amy
didn’t
seem
to
notice
and
started
asking
me
questions.



       “When
do
you
think
this
competitive
nature
began?”
Amy
was
asking
me
a
slew
of

questions
–
we
were
in
the
“getting
to
know
you”
phase.


       “Um,
I
don’t
know.
I
guess
maybe
when
I
was
kid…
I
was
a
competitive
dancer
for

eleven
years.”


       “Do
you
want
to
tell
me
a
little
bit
about
that?”



                                               ****

                                                 


       I
danced
at
a
dance
company
with
two
studios
and
one
elite
competition
troupe.
Its

reputation
was
“one
of
the
best”
outside
of
New
York
City.
The
studio
recruited
teachers

from
University
of
the
Arts
in
Philadelphia
and
from
“Tremaine”
in
New
York
City.
I
have

danced
routines
choreographed
by
Dan
Karaty
(one
of
the
Judges
from
“So
You
Think
You

Can
Dance?”).
The
studio
was
no
joke
and
neither
was
the
“troupe.”
I
envied
the
girls
in

troupe
and
convinced
my
mother
to
let
me
try
out.



   
                                          57


       “You’re
only
doing
this
as
long
as
it’s
fun.
When
it’s
not
fun
anymore,
we
don’t
do
it.

Okay,
Lana?”
I
was
looking
down,
concentrating
on
tying
up
my
jazz
boot.


        “Yea,
Mom!”
I
appeased
her
and
as
soon
as
my
shoes
were
laced
I
hopped
out
of
her

car.
“Love
you,
see
ya
later!”
I
didn’t
really
listen
to
what
she
was
saying;
my
obsession
with

being
the
best
had
already
kicked
in.


       I
made
the
competition
troupe
on
my
first
audition,
at
seven
years
old.
I
was
at
the

dance
studio
four
nights
during
the
week
and
also
on
Sundays
for
a
three
to
five
hour

rehearsal
of
all
competition
routines.
After
school
I
would
go
right
to
the
studio,
usually

staying
through
dinner
and
arriving
home
in
enough
time
to
do
homework
and
crawl
into

bed.


        Truth
is,
I
am
a
wonderful
dancer.
I
love
to
dance
and
while
dancing
I
feel
as
if
my

soul
is
smiling.
The
routines
are
only
as
long
as
a
three‐minute
song
and
in
those
three

minutes
I
am
at
peace.
I
have
no
thoughts
about
to‐do
lists,
problems,
or
issues;
instead,
I

am
lost
in
the
moment.
The
problem
comes
in
the
second
the
song
ends.
After
the
music

stops
is
when
dance
class
isn’t
always
so
pleasant.

        Competitive
dance
requires
constructive
criticisms,
discipline,
dedication
and
hard

work.

Dance
is
not
a
team
sport.
Sure,
you
have
group
dances,
but
everything
depends
on

each
person
doing
her
part.
One
dancer
cannot
save
another.
The
sore
thumb
in
the
group

always
stuck
out,
and
I
didn’t
want
to
be
the
sore
thumb.
So
the
pressure
started
and
so
did

the
emotional
cutting.


       By
age
twelve
I
advanced
to
dancing
with
the
group
above
my
age
division.
I
was
the

youngest
in
the
group.
I
wasn’t
with
my
friends;
instead,
I
was
always
with
the
older
girls.
It

would
have
bothered
some
children,
but
for
me
it
was
a
new
level
of
elite.
Initially,
I
was

proud
of
myself
for
being
the
chosen
one
to
move
up.
But
after
a
while,
I
forgot
about
the

age
disparity
and
I
started
to
beat
up
on
myself
for
not
catching
onto
things
as
quickly
as

the
rest
of
the
girls.
How
easily
I
forgot
that
I
was
four
or
five
years
behind
the
others
in
my

group.





       Tuesday
nights
at
the
dance
studio
all
the
girls
in
troupe
were
required
to
take
an

extra
forty‐five
minute
class
called
“Technique.”
Our
parents
did
not
pay
for
this
class,
nor

did
they
know
about
it.
My
parents
thought
I
was
having
my
dinner
break.
But
courtesy
of



   
                                           58

the
dance
studio
I
was
suffering
through
my
“complimentary
class.”
One
that
was
never

really
a
class
at
all
and
that
we
were
encouraged
not
to
inform
our
parents
about.

 


        In
Technique,
we
would
be
weighed
in,
measured,
and
lectured
about
our
diets.
I

was
always
small
for
my
age,
in
height
and
in
weight.
When
I
was
first
eligible
for

Technique
class
I
was
in
sixth
grade,
not
quite
five
foot
and
not
quite
one
hundred
pounds.
I

had
no
reason
to
fear
a
scale
or
a
measuring
tape,
but
for
some
reason
I
was
still
nervous

walking
into
the
room.
Also
in
technique
class,
we
would
have
to
perform
certain

moves/tricks
to
show
that
our
flexibility
wasn’t
slipping.


         
It
was
forty‐five
minutes
of
being
torn
down
by
the
director.
Then
we
would
sit

Indian‐
style
with
our
backs
pressed
up
against
the
mirror.
One
dancer,
the
token
sacrificial

lamb,
would
stand
up
and
take
her
turn
being
“constructively
criticized”
by
her
peers.
The

director
said
this
would
help
us
refine
ourselves
and
be
aware
of
our
flaws.
All
it
helped
me

to
do
was
block
out
other
people’s
criticism
and
build
a
thick
skin;
a
skin
thick
enough
that

no
one
could
penetrate
it
and
only
I
could
“constructively
criticize”
myself.



        I
never
told
my
parents
what
went
on
in
Technique
class.
I
knew
how
dysfunctional

it
was
and
I
also
knew
that
my
parents
would
not
allow
me
to
continue
to
dance
there.
On

some
level
I
loved
the
competition
and
so
I
decided
to
take
the
good
with
the
bad.



        Like
I
said,
dance
wasn’t
all
bad.
It
was
only
a
problem
when
the
music
would
stop.

That
is
when
I
would
think
about
the
things
I
needed
to
“work”
on:
my
flexibility,
weight,

muscles,
certain
jumps
and
turns.
I
would
obsess
over
anything
I
believed
needed
work,

until
I
“fixed”
it.
Never
fully
“fixing
it,”
but
improving
enough
to
get
by.
Then
I
would
go
to

another
competition
and
I
would
score
better
and
place
higher.
I
believed
that
if
I

continued
to
harp
on
my
shortcomings,
I
would
force
myself
to
work
on
them
and
do

better.



        As
the
years
went
on,
I
won
countless
awards,
but
the
competitions
grew
to
be
very

exhausting.
It
wasn’t
until
high
school
when
I
really
noticed
that
I
wasn’t
having
any
fun
at

all.
Going
to
that
studio
became
like
going
to
work.
So
one
day
I
just
stopped.




                                                   ****

                                                     



   
                                          59


       “So,
do
you
miss
dance?”
Amy
had
been
listening
and
was
trying
to
get
more
of
my

“feelings”
out
on
the
table.



       “Sometimes…
I
mean…
yeah,
of
course.
It’s
just
that
I
had
to
grow
up.”


       “Did
your
parents
ever
shut
down
your
dream
of
being
a
dancer?”



       “God,
no!
My
parents
have
always
said
I
can
be
whatever
I
want.”
I
knew
she
was

trying
to
see
where
the
pressure
in
my
life
originated.

So,
instead
of
dancing
around
the

elephant
in
the
room,
I
told
her.
“My
parents
are
very
supportive
of
whatever
I
choose
to

do.
My
sister
and
brother
are
my
biggest
fans.

In
fact,
my
sister,
who
is
closest
in
age
to
me,

had
backed
out
of
the
spotlight
in
order
to
let
me
shine.”
Amy
was
caught
off
guard
that
I

was
being
so
honest
and
informative.
“Trust
me,
I’ve
ran
this
over
in
my
head
a
million

times.
I
don’t
know
why
I’m
so
fucking
hard
on
myself!”



       “Okay.”
She
decided
to
move
onto
another
topic.
“How
did
you
end
up
in
law

school?”


       “Well,
I
got
to
an
age
where
I
realized
I
couldn’t
make
a
life
out
of
being
a
dancer.
I

had
to
find
a
REAL
job.
I’ve
done
exceptionally
well
in
school
and
loved
reading
and
writing,

so…”


       “So
you
just
picked
law
school?”
She
was
puzzled.


       “Yeah,
I
guess
I
just
picked
something
that
was
a
challenge,
where
I
could
use
my

brain
and
get
a
certain
level
of
respect.”



                                               ****

                                                  


       When
I
received
my
law
school
acceptance
letter
in
the
mail
I
felt
like
I
had
made
it.

The
crèam
de
la
crèam
of
accomplishments.

I
took
the
LSAT,
a
seven‐hour
entrance
exam,

three
times.
I
wasn’t
satisfied
with
my
score.
I
used
my
highest
score,
got
accepted,
and
was

officially
a
“One
L”
at
Law
School.



        On
the
first
day
of
orientation,
a
panel
of
third
year
students
sat
in
front
of
an

auditorium‐
style
room
and
warned
all
of
the
bright‐eyed,
hopeful
first
years
what
to

expect.




   
                                           60


       “Law
school
is
a
beast
like
no
other.”

The
guy’s
name
was
Kevin.
He
seemed
too

young
to
be
in
his
stuffy
navy
suit,
like
a
child
playing
dress
up.
It
was
mid‐August
and
he

looked
as
though
he
hadn’t
seen
the
sun
all
summer.
I
don’t
know
if
it
was
because
I
had

just
finished
reading
the
Twilight
series,
but
he
looked
so
pale
that
I
was
toying
with
the

probability
of
him
being
a
vampire.


       “Your
life
as
you
know
it
is
over;
you’re
all
now
lawyers.”
I
don’t
remember
the
guy’s

name
who
said
this.
He
sat
beside
Kevin.
Same
dull
expression,
same
drab
suit,
same
sickly

skin
color.



       I
thought
it
was
kind
of
cult‐like,
the
whole
orientation
brainwashing.
By
the
end
of

the
six‐hour
day,
law
school
had
successfully
planted
the
seed
of
doubt
in
almost
every

“One
L”
brain.

I
should
have
been
wary
as
to
why
orientation
consisted
of
breaking
down
a

student’s
confidence
and
security.
Yet,
I
wasn’t.
It
felt
familiar,
like
I
was
in
a
lawyer’s

“Technique
Class.”

I
learned
a
long
time
ago
to
let
some
of
the
dysfunction
slide
and
take

the
good
with
the
bad.
My
coping
skills
had
kicked
in,
and
so
had
my
skills
of
“constructive

criticism.”


       Law
school
is
like
a
hurricane.
If
you
let
it,
it
will
completely
turn
your
whole
life

upside
down.
The
work
is
tedious,
but
not
impossible.
What
is
impossible
are
the

assignments.
Every
night
you
should
be
doing
approximately
thirty
pages
of
reading
per

class
from
books
that
could
be
mistaken
for
Webster’s
Dictionary.
On
average,
you
have

two
classes
a
day;
that’s
sixty
pages
of
reading.
Not
difficult,
right?
WRONG.
That’s
sixty

pages
of
reading,
then
re‐reading,
case
briefing
and
finally
studying
the
case
brief,
so
that

you
would
be
ready
in
the
morning
for
the
Socratic
Method
–
the
satanic
style
of
teaching

that
plagues
all
first
year
law
school
classes.



        According
to
the
Socratic
Method,
the
professor
calls
on
a
student.
That
student

must
stand
up
at
his
or
her
seat,
in
front
of
eighty
of
his
or
her
peers,
and
answer,
dodge,
or

deflect
the
professor’s
questions.
I
was
introduced
to
this
tradition
on
day
one.


       “Mr.
Griswold,
why
don’t
you
stand
up
and
tell
us
the
procedural
posture
of
this

case?”
Mr.
Griswold
was
a
tall,
wiry
blond
in
his
early
twenties.
He
wore
electric
blue

glasses
and
looked
like
he
stepped
out
of
a
pop
video.
No
lifeless
expression
and
no
stuffy




   
                                          61

navy
suit.
He
did
not
fit
the
part
of
law
student,
although
his
tan
face
did
develop
a
green

tint
as
he
stood
to
answer
the
question.



       “Um…
well…
you
see,
I’m
not
really
sure
what
procedural
posture
meant…
I
thought

you
could
answer
that
for
me?”
He
was
starting
to
sweat
and
the
class
nervously
giggled
at

his
response.



       “Didn’t
you
purchase
a
‘Black’s
Law
Dictionary,’
Mr.
Griswold?”


Black’s
Law
is
the

Holy
Bible
of
the
legal
world.

Any
and
all
questions
can
be
defined
and
explained
in
the

five‐pound
book.





       “Yes,
I
did,
but
this
is…
well….
the
first
day,
so—”
Mr.
Griswold
was
cut
off
by
the

professor.



       “Mr.
Griswold,
this
is
law
school.

Do
you
think
you
can
walk
into
a
court
room
and

ask
the
judge
to
define
something
for
you
because
it’s
your
first
day
in
court?

Do
you?”
Mr.

Griswold
and
the
rest
of
the
class
were
silent.
You
couldn’t
tell
that
eighty
people
were
in

one
room.
You
couldn’t
even
hear
a
breath.

          

        “Mr.
Griswold,
did
you
think
we
would
just
go
over
the
syllabus
and
disregard
the

first
assignment
posted
on
the
webpage?
Well,
that’s
not
how
it
works
here.
In
the
future,

do
not
bother
to
come
to
class
if
you
cannot
bother
to
reference
the
Black’s
Law
Dictionary.

For
today,
you
will
stand
for
the
remainder
of
the
two
hour
class.”


        Griswold
was
the
sacrificial
lamb
of
the
day,
the
poor
unfortunate
student
whom
the

professor
used
as
an
example.
Griswold
did
stand
for
the
rest
of
the
class.
If
that
wasn’t

enough,
intermittently,
the
professor
would
stop
mid‐sentence
and
remind
him
of
his

shortcoming.


       “Maybe
you,
Mr.
Griswold,
could
tell
us
the
holding
of
this
case?
Oh
that’s
right,

you’re
unprepared
today.”
The
class,
including
myself,
eventually
started
laughing
at
the

cutting
remarks.
How
quickly
we
had
jumped
ship.
Laughing
at
Griswold,
not
because
it

was
necessarily
funny,
but
because
we
were
happy
it
wasn’t
us.
Just
like
in
dance,
no
one

wanted
to
be
the
sore
thumb.
It
only
took
one
day
to
cultivate
the
seed
of
doubt
planted
at

orientation.
One
class
acted
as
the
catalyst
for
the
overachieving
to
come
full
bloom.



       As
the
semester
progressed,
the
work
piled
up.
I
quickly
realized
there
wasn’t

enough
time.
I
was
drinking
the
amount
of
coffee
in
one
day
that
regular
people
consume
in



   
                                         62

one
week.
I
was
overworked,
overtired,
and
over
caffeinated.

I
arrived
to
class
in
hopes
of

finding
solace
in
my
peers.


       “Ugh,
I’m
so
tired
and
I
only
finished
half
of
the
reading
for
today,”
I
vented
to
Matt,

a
friend
from
class.


       “I
finished
the
reading,
it
was
pretty
good.

I
feel
like
I
really
understand
the

relationship
between
equitable
estoppel
and
equitable
conversion.”
Matt
was
being
smug.


       “You
finished
the
reading?”
I
was
overcome
with
jealousy.
I
managed
to
muster
up
a

smile
as
I
walked
past
him.
I
didn’t
show
my
anxiety.
The
competition
was
kicking
in.
Don’t

let
them
see
you
sweat.
Meanwhile,
I
was
tearing
myself
down.



        I
should
have
never
taken
such
a
long
shower
last
night.
Damn
it!
Had
I
just
cut
the

shower
time
in
half
that
would
have
given
me
ten
extra
minutes
and
I
probably
could
have,
at

least,
skimmed
the
remainder
of
the
assignment.
I
was
beating
up
on
myself…
emotionally

cutting.





        As
the
miserable
year
marched
on,
I
was
harder
on
myself.
I
didn’t
stop
doing
work,

in
part
because
I
couldn’t
shut
my
brain
down
and
in
part
because
I
didn’t
allow
myself.
I

had
to
finish
all
of
the
assignments,
no
matter
what.
I
missed
a
friend’s
wedding.
I
attended

another
friend’s
wedding
with
briefs
and
flash
cards.
I
would
forgo
eating
lunch
and
drink

protein
drinks
because
food
was
not
permitted
in
the
library.
I
stopped
eating
dinner
with

my
family
and
answering
friends’
calls
and
texts.
Before
I
knew
it,
all
of
the
words
of

caution
came
true.

Life
as
I
knew
it
was
over…
I
was
a
lawyer
now.


        

                                               ****

                                                 


       By
January
I
found
myself
on
the
third
floor
of
the
law
building,
sitting
on
a
couch

staring
at
Amy,
bitching
about
how
tired
I
was
and
how
many
things
I
had
to
do.




      “Have
you
ever
considered
the
idea
that
maybe
you’re
too
hard
on
yourself?”
She

listens
intently
while
simultaneously
writing
things
down
on
her
notepad.


       “Too
hard
on
myself?
Are
you
serious?
No
way!
The
real
problem
is
that
I’m
not


disciplined
enough.
I’m
not
working
up
to
par.
I’m
falling
apart
right
now
and
I’m
here
to

get
back
on
track.”
I
was
growing
frantic.




   
                                           63


         “I
think
you
may
be
an
emotional
cutter.”
Her
face
was
blank
as
she
told
me
this.


         “An
emotional
what?”


         “An
emotional
cutter,”
she
said
this
as
if
were
matter‐of‐fact.
“The
problem
is
that

you
have
been
doing
it
for
so
long
that
you’re
going
to
have
to
re‐work
all
the
tools
you

have
developed
along
the
way.”


          I
stared
at
her
with
a
blank
look
on
my
face.
What
she
was
saying
sounded

ridiculous.

Re­work
my
tools?
My
tools
are
what
got
me
this
far
and
into
law
school,
I’m
not

re­working
anything!
She
kept
talking
but
my
mind
was
racing.
This
lady
is
out
of
her
mind,

the
definition
of
a
“quack.”

What
a
waste
of
time
therapy
was,
even
if
the
first
nine
sessions

were
free,
courtesy
of
law
school.
That
is,
until
a
few
days
later
when
I
stopped
by
Steve’s

house.


          

                                                ****

                                                   


         Steve
is
a
friend
who
was
having
a
party
at
his
house
and
we
were
playing
Rock

Band.
I
played
the
guitar
and
after
the
song
ended,
I
stood
waiting
for
my
score
to
pop
up.


It
appeared
in
the
left
corner…
99%.
I
should
have
been
happy.
That’s
how
a
“normal”

person
would
be.
But
not
me.
My
mouth
opened
and
out
came
the
emotional
cutting.


          “Damn
it,
I
can’t
believe
I
missed
one
friggin’
note!”
The
second
the
words
left
my

mouth
I
wanted
to
grab
them
and
stuff
them
back
in.
I
can’t
even
play
a
video
game
without

beating
up
on
myself.
The
therapist
was
right!
Oh
no,
if
she
was
right
then
she’s
not
the

quack…
I
am!
This
thought
had
me
immediately
beating
up
on
myself
for
having
issues,
for

going
to
therapy,
for
not
listening
to
the
therapist
and,
finally,
for
proving
my
therapist

right.



          

                                                ****

                                                   



        I
reluctantly
went
back
to
therapy
the
next
week
to
admit
defeat.
We
sat
silently

until
Amy
started
the
talking.





   
                                          64

        “There
is
something
I
want
to
explain
to
you…”
she
said.
“Life
is
not
a
controlled

environment.
In
fact,
it’s
the
exact
opposite.
It’s
out
of
control
and
unpredictable.
Tearing

yourself
down
does
not
motive
you
to
deal
with
a
situation
better.
A
physical
cutter
is
a

person
whose
wounds
and
scars
can
be
seen
by
the
naked
eye.
An
emotional
cutter
has
an

easier
time
concealing
her
habit;
her
wounds
and
scars
are
not
easy
to
see.
You
have
no

tangible
cuts.
No
one
can
see
that
you’re
hurting
yourself,
but
when
you
harp
on
your

shortcomings
and
tear
yourself
down…
you’re
being
self‐destructive
and
emotionally

cutting.


       I
conceded.
“You’re
right,
and
I
don’t
want
to
beat
up
on
myself
for
being
a

perfectionist.”
I
pause.
“It’s
just
a
habit
now.”

        “That’s
okay.
We
will
use
the
rest
of
our
time
here
to
work
on
that.”

        I
try
my
best
to
listen
to
her
words
and
not
criticize
myself
for
needing
guidance
and

help.
I
am
doing
the
best
I
can;
I
mean,
I
am
an
emotional
cutter.









   
                                          65

                          ONE
GOOD
DAY
WITH
BUMMY

                                                 

                                         Aaron
Van
Gossen

                                                      


        This
is
the
day.
The
first
day
you
get
to
use
Bummy’s
skis.
It
was
less
than
a
year
ago

that
your
grandfather
died.
A
heart
attack
on
these
very
skis.
You’re
not
very
spiritual,
not

at
the
age
of
twelve,
but
somewhere
deep
down
you
believe
Bummy
still
exists,

somewhere.
Maybe
even
inside
these
skis.

        “Bummy
always
called
you
his
little
Hot
Dog,”
your
grandmother
told
you
at
the

wake.
She
knew
he
would
have
wanted
you
to
have
them.


        The
guy
at
the
ski
shop,
the
one
with
the
pitted
face
who
never
smiles,
says
the
skis

should
be
good
for
another
season,
if
you’re
lucky.

        “That’s
fine,”
you
say.
You
don’t
need
much,
just
one
good
day
on
Bummy’s
skis
and

you’ll
get
that
connection
you
never
seemed
to
have
when
he
was
alive.
Living
so
far
away

made
you
feel
like
an
outsider
in
your
own
family.
You
had
a
few
days
with
Bummy
when

you
were
first
learning.
Back
then
Bummy
was
all
about
style.
Back
then
you
were
more

about
speed.


        

        There’s
Will.
He’s
with
that
group
of
guys
on
the
ski
team.
You
know
the
ones.
The

ones
whose
parents
buy
them
new
equipment
every
season.
Brad
Johnson,
he
made
fun
of

you
’cause
your
Dad
bought
his
used
skis
for
you
last
year.
But
now
you
got
Bummy’s.

Bummy
always
bought
the
best.
Always
new,
never
used.

        “Who’s
second
hand
crap
you
got
this
year?”
Brad
says.

        They
all
think
that’s
funny,
even
Will.
Will’s
a
good
skier;
he’ll
be
on
the
ski
team
in
a

couple
of
years.
But
he
doesn’t
have
to
laugh
too.

        “Solomon
464’s.”
You
brag.
You
won’t
be
on
the
ski
team.
You
keep
telling
yourself

that’s
OK.
But
you
know
it’s
not.




   
                                            66

        “464’s
were
last
year’s
models,
you
loser.”
He’s
not
worth
the
argument.
Of
course,

you
have
no
argument.
464’s
were
last
year’s
models.

        

        “Let
him
ski
with
us.”
Will
says.
You
knew
he
was
good
guy.

        They
tell
you
to
get
on
the
chair
lift
first.
By
yourself.
Oldest
trick
on
the
hill.
Get
the

guy
you
want
to
ditch
on
the
chair
in
front.
There
are
two
places
to
get
off,
Halfway
Point

and
Topside.
You
can
either
tell
the
guy
to
get
off
at
Halfway
and
go
to
Topside
yourself,
or

tell
him
you’re
going
Topside
and
get
off
at
Halfway.
But
you
know
the
first
run
they
want

to
make
is
Thunder
Run.
You
can
only
get
to
Thunder
Run
from
Topside.

        As
you
reach
Halfway
you
look
back,
Will
gives
the
signal
to
go
all
the
way.


        They’re
showoffs.
They
need
the
double
diamond
run.
They
wouldn’t
give
up
being

the
first
of
the
day
to
hit
Thunder
Run.
Not
with
the
new
snowfall.
Being
the
first
to
make

fresh
tracks
on
Thunder
Run
is
bragging
rights
around
here.

        You
know
if
you
want
to
hang
with
them
you
got
to
hit
Thunder
Run.
Making
fresh

tracks,
that’s
your
test.
All
these
years
you’ve
never
hit
a
double
diamond
run?
Why?

What’s
wrong
with
you?
Scared?
Of
snow?

        After
you
pass
Halfway
you
look
back
again,
they’re
gone.
They
ditched
you
after
all.

Now
it’s
just
you,
Thunder
Run
and
Bummy’s
skis.

        

        You
perch
yourself
at
the
top
of
the
run,
right
in
the
narrow
of
trees
that
serves
as

the
gateway
to
Thunder
Run,
the
highest
moguls
of
any
mountain
in
Wyoming,
Montana
or

Idaho.

        Thunder
Run
has
broken
more
bones
than
anywhere
else.
You
can’t
count
the

number
of
times
you’ve
seen
the
Ski
Patrol
bringing
someone
out
of
there
on
a
sled.


        You
position
yourself
on
the
skis.

        You
feel
it.
You
feel
him.
Right
beside
you.

        You
feel
it
coming.

        The
style.
Bummy’s
style.

        You
look
out
across
the
valley.

        Your
little
town
surrounded
by
snow‐covered
mountains.



   
                                             67

        You
hear
nothing.

        Just
you
and
Bummy.

        No
one
will
see
you
fall.

        No
one
will
see
you
conquer.

        But
Bummy’s
there;
watching.

        And
that’s
all
that
matters.

        A
deep
breath.

        A
push
off.

        One
good
day
with
Bummy.

        That’s
all
you
need.









    
                                   68

                               SOMEONE
ELSE’S
LIFE

                                               

                                      Laura
Koenig




        By
time
I
got
home
from
school,
the
wind
had
blown
the
leaves
completely
off
the

trees.
They
were
up
this
morning
when
I
left:
orange
and
yellow,
some
the
color
of
old

pennies.
I
watched
the
trees
as
the
bus
rolled
its
way
toward
school,
the
leaves
crinkling

and
quivering.
When
we
went
around
curves,
the
branches
with
yellow
leaves
seemed
to

dip
toward
the
yellow
lines
in
the
road.
They
were
the
same
yellow.

        I’m
always
the
first
person
on
the
bus.
I’m
getting
too
big
for
the
bus
seats
but
each

day
I
lean
back
anyway,
crack
the
window,
and
breathe
in
the
fresh
air,
imagining
that
I’m

going
somewhere
better
than
school
and
then
a
round
trip
home.
When
I
was
little,
I
used

to
imagine
I
was
going
to
Disney
World,
even
going
fishing.
Lately,
I
imagine
I’m
old
enough

to
live
on
my
own
and
that
I’m
taking
a
bus
to
my
new
place.
It’s
just
an
apartment,
like
the

one
I
live
in
now,
except
smaller
and
my
parents
don’t
live
there.
In
my
dream,
they
don’t

know
where
I
live.



       This
morning
I
didn’t
know
what
to
think,
so
I
just
didn’t.
My
parents
had
left
and

would
be
gone
overnight.
That
was
about
all
I
could
wrap
my
mind
around.
The
storm
blew

in
during
math
class,
while
everyone
was
adding
and
subtracting
fractions
and
I
was
still

staring
out
the
window.
It
was
just
wind
at
first.
Then
huge
drops
of
rain
pelted
the

classroom
windows,
and
the
last
leaves
rained
down
with
them.
Watching
the
leaves
being

pulled
from
the
trees
like
that
and
plastered
to
the
ground
was
the
first
time
all
day
that
I

felt
sad,
the
first
time
I
missed
my
Uncle
Jack.



       I
felt
sluggish
and
could
have
stared
out
the
window
a
little
more,
but
within
ten

minutes,
the
building
fell
dark
and
silent,
the
generator
chugged
to
a
start.
The
busses

started
lining
up
to
take
us
home
early.






    
                                         69


       It
was
like
a
snow
day
but
more
dangerous.
Even
as
we
filed
onto
the
bus,
no
one

celebrated.
The
other
kids
had
slack
faces
like
they
were
pondering
the
probability
of

getting
zapped
by
live
electrical
wires
or
smashed
by
flying
debris.

        

        Rounding
the
corner
toward
my
apartment,
I
saw
Ruby
out
on
her
balcony,
same
old

gray‐brown
hair,
same
old
jogging
suit.
She
saw
me
when
I
got
out.
Her
eyes
looked
big
and

soft
through
her
glasses,
kind
of
like
Disney
wildlife
eyes.
I
ducked
my
head
and
walked

under
the
trees.


        I
realized
too
late
that
they’d
provide
little
cover
without
their
leaves,
but
I
was
tired

of
avoiding
her
anyway.
I’d
been
told
not
to
talk
to
the
neighbors
for
as
long
as
I’d
been

alive,
but
I
wanted
to
say
something
to
her.
Just
hello.
When
I
got
near
my
front
door,
I

looked
up
at
her
balcony,
but
she
was
gone.


       The
power
was
out
at
home,
too.
I
could
tell
even
as
I
walked
up
the
inside
stairs

toward
our
apartment.
The
hum
of
electronics
was
replaced
by
a
muted
nothingness,
like

when
snow
falls.
It
wasn’t
even
eleven
yet.
I
took
off
my
shoes
and
put
them
under
my

nightstand
instead
of
in
my
closet
where
my
mom
would
want
them,
and
stretched
out
on

my
stomach
on
my
bed.
Imagining
snow
piling
up
all
around
me,
I
fell
asleep
with
my
door

open.
I’d
never
do
either
of
those
things
if
my
parents
were
home.



       When
I
woke
up,
I
was
surprised
to
be
home.
I
looked
frantically
around
my
room

for
the
eyes
of
the
other
students,
thinking
I’d
fallen
asleep
in
class.
I
leaned
my
head
back

on
my
pillow
and
let
my
breath
out
slowly.
For
a
moment,
just
one
moment,
I
forgot
that

Uncle
Jack
was
dead.
It
was
the
moment
after
I
woke
up
but
before
I
remembered
who
I

was,
why
I
was
at
home
by
myself.


       I
should
have
made
them
take
me
with
them
to
Connecticut
for
the
funeral.
When

they
loaded
up
the
car
this
morning,
I
should
have
insisted.
Father
would
have
cut
me
with

his
eyes
like
he
does,
and
I
would
have
stood
my
ground
this
time.
I
should
have
stood
my

ground
for
Uncle
Jack.
Instead
I
just
stood
there
frozen
and
watched
them
pack.


       My
father
locked
eyes
with
me
as
he
shut
their
neatly
packed
items
in
the
trunk.


       “This
is
a
big
deal,
Jacob.”





   
                                            70

        His
voice
felt
like
ice
water
in
my
face.
It
was
impossible
for
me
to
feel
okay
when
he

spoke
to
me.
I
was
still
frozen,
watching
for
sudden
movements
from
him.
All
I
got
was
a

widening
of
his
eyes,
accusing
me
of
not
paying
attention.
I
was
paying
attention
all
right.
I

let
my
fear
show
on
my
face
for
just
a
second,
so
that
it
could
soothe
him.
He
doesn’t
like

me
to
be
cocky.


       He
nodded
briefly,
but
more
to
himself.
I
relaxed.
I
was
grateful
to
hear
what
he
had

to
say
when
I
knew
he
wasn’t
going
to
say
it
with
his
fists.



       “You’ll
be
home
by
yourself
after
school
until
your
Aunt
Maxine
gets
home
from

work.”


       I
wanted
to
say
“she’s
not
my
aunt,”
not
like
Uncle
Jack
was
my
uncle,
my
real
blood

uncle,
but
I
felt
the
bruise
in
my
ribs
when
I
inhaled
so
I
kept
that
thought
about
Aunt

Maxine
buried
low
enough
that
it
had
no
chance
of
becoming
a
look
on
my
face.



       I
nodded
solemnly.
I
tried
to
imagine
that
someone
had
just
given
me
their
baby
and

I
had
to
raise
it.


       “Act
right,”
he
said
like
a
shove,
and
got
into
the
car.


       Mom’s
face
was
a
rock.
She
didn’t
say
anything.
She
never
does.
She
looked
at
me,

though,
and
that
was
enough.
I
thought
about
hugging
her,
but
all
I
could
do
was
mirror
her

expression.


       I
turned
over
in
bed,
away
from
the
memory.
I
inhaled
and
exhaled.
I
guess
Uncle

Jack
understands.
He
must.
I
couldn’t
say
no.



       I
stayed
in
bed
for
as
long
as
I
could,
looking
at
the
last
leaves
reddening
on
the
trees

in
the
late
afternoon
sunlight.
I
try
to
tell
myself
that
no
matter
what
I
lose
in
my
life,
I’m

lucky
just
to
have
this
room.
Some
of
my
friends
still
share
with
their
parents
or
bunk
out

on
the
couch.
I
have
a
room
of
my
own
with
two
windows.
Our
apartment
is
on
the
end
and

my
room
is
in
the
corner
of
the
building.
Father
used
to
say
that
our
neighbors
called
us

stuck
up
because
we
had
the
end
apartment.
It
cost
$35
more
a
month,
he
said.
I
would
pay

that
out
of
my
mow
money
if
he
told
me
to,
just
to
have
the
windows
to
look
out
of.

        The
longer
I
stayed
in
bed,
the
stiffer
I
got.
Cool
air
was
seeping
into
the
apartment

around
the
window
glass
and
it
wound
its
way
around
my
fingers
and
toes.
I
needed
to
get




   
                                           71

up.
My
knees
had
a
hard
time
straightening
out
when
I
stood
up.
Mom
said
it’s
growing

pains
from
me
gaining
two
inches
this
year.

         I
walk
a
lap
around
the
living
room,
around
furniture
in
paths
I
usually
don’t
take.

After
three
circles
around
the
coffee
table,
I
feel
like
I’m
in
a
museum
memorializing

someone
else’s
life.
As
I’m
taking
a
better
look
at
the
artifact
on
the
end
table—a
wreath

made
out
of
woven
wheat,
I
hear
Ruby
on
the
balcony.
Feeling
the
weight
of
the
wreath
in

my
hand,
I
realize
that
everything
around
is
light.
I
never
thought
of
my
mom
as
a
smart

woman,
but
I
know
now
I
underestimated
her.
No
paperweights,
no
crystal
vases,
no
metal

candlesticks.
Nothing
around
that’s
heavy
enough
for
him
to
hurt
us
with.

         Ruby’s
balcony
door
slides
open
then
shut
and
I
hear
a
sound
like
a
tea
cup
clanging

in
a
saucer.
I
try
not
to
jump,
but
there’s
never
enough
time
to
stop
it
anyway.
She
must
be

bringing
her
potted
plants
back
out
and
placing
them
around
the
patio.


        I
know
I
shouldn’t
talk
to
her,
but
it’s
way
too
early
for
Aunt
Maxine
to
be
home

from
work.
I
peek
my
head
out
of
my
balcony
door
and
look
around.
The
balconies
are
right

next
to
each
other
and
only
separated
by
about
four
feet
of
air,
but
she’s
sweeping
now

with
her
back
to
me.
I
step
out.
Her
stocky
dog
jingles
over
toward
me
and
sits
at
the
edge

of
her
balcony.
It
doesn’t
bark
or
growl.


        Ruby
turns
around,
looks
at
the
dog,
then
looks
at
me.
She
doesn’t
seem
surprised
to

see
me
even
though
we
haven’t
been
out
on
the
balcony
together
since
I
was
too
small
to

clearly
recall.
She
smiles
maybe
the
most
pleasant
smile
I’ve
ever
seen,
which
really
isn’t

saying
much
because
I’m
only
ever
around
my
parents
and
the
kids
at
school.
She
starts

sweeping
again
but
facing
me.


        “What’s
your
dog’s
name?”


        I
couldn’t
help
myself.
My
voice
sounds
small
and
timid,
maybe
like
the
voice
I
had

the
last
time
I
spoke
to
her.

         She
looks
up
at
me
like
we
were
continuing
a
conversation
that
we
just
started

before
she
began
cleaning
the
balcony.


        “Jolly,”
she
says
to
me.
“Good
dog,”
she
says,
smiling
down
at
him.
And
the
dog
looks

like
it’s
smiling
back.
I
smile,
too,
in
spite
of
myself.




   
                                          72

         “I
don’t
see
you
much,”
she
says.
She’s
looking
down
the
broom,
but
I
know
I’m
still

in
her
field
of
vision.

         I
shrug.

         “We
don’t
really
use
the
balcony.”

         “It’s
a
nice
place
to
sit
and
think,”
she
says.

         I
tip
the
plastic
chair
over
to
let
the
leaves
and
dirty
water
drain
onto
the
concrete

floor.
I
want
to
sit
and
think.
While
the
chair
dries,
I
pick
up
the
twigs
that
fell
onto
our

balcony
during
the
storm
and
drop
them
over
the
edge
into
our
downstairs
neighbor’s

bush.
I
immediately
regret
it.
I
don’t
want
Ruby
to
think
I’m
a
bad
kid.
I
look
back
at
her,
but

she
is
putting
the
round
glass
sheet
back
into
her
tabletop.
She
either
didn’t
notice
or
is

pretending
not
to
have
noticed.

         I
lean
my
upper
abdomen
against
the
balcony
railing
in
the
corner
nearest
her

apartment.
I
cross
my
arms
in
front
of
me
to
bundle
up
against
the
cold
breeze
and
let
my

body
weight
fall
into
the
railing.
She
seems
like
a
nice
lady.
I
can’t
imagine
a
good
reason

why
I
can’t
talk
to
her.


         “Haven’t
seen
your
mom
today,”
Ruby
says.

         A
flash
of
concern
passes
through
me.
I
wonder
if
Mom
talks
to
Ruby
when
no
one

else
is
here.
If
she
does,
what
do
they
talk
about?
I
want
to
know.

         “Do
you
talk
to
my
mom
a
lot?”
I
ask.

         She
stops
arranging
her
plants
on
the
table
and
turns
toward
me.

         She
shakes
her
head.

         “I
see
her
around,
though,”
she
says.


         I’m
disappointed.
For
a
moment
I
thought
that
my
mom
could
have
had
a
daytime

life
where
she
did
what
she
wanted
to
do,
that
she
wasn’t
still
obeying
Father
when
she
was

all
alone.
I
hug
my
arms
tighter
around
me.

         Ruby
opens
the
door
to
her
apartment.
I
could
hear
the
mild
hum
of
a
small

generator.
She
nods
toward
the
inside.

         “Why
don’t
you
come
over
and
warm
up
a
little
bit?
I’ve
got
the
space
heater
on.”


        
I
freeze.
I
didn’t
expect
her
to
say
that.





   
                                           73


       “If
we
keep
both
apartment
doors
open,
you’ll
be
able
to
hear
your
phone
if
it
rings.”

She
says.


       I
want
to
be
warm.
I
want
to
be
warm
and
not
worry.
It’s
not
a
good
idea
to
go
into

her
apartment,
but
I
shrug
at
Ruby
and
walk
back
through
my
apartment
and
meet
her
at

her
front
door.
I
feel
a
little
sick
to
my
stomach
as
I
cross
the
threshold
of
my
apartment

into
the
speckled
carpet
of
the
common
hallway.


       I
have
a
hard
time
crossing
the
threshold
into
hers
as
I’m
following
her.
I
hesitate

but
I
push
through
the
wariness
before
she
turns
to
see
why
I
was
lagging.
But
as
soon
as
I

walk
a
few
feet
in,
I’m
swallowed
up
in
the
experience.
I
couldn’t
remember
the
last
time
I’d

been
in
any
home
besides
my
own.
Had
I
ever?


       The
air
smells
like
dried
apples
and
cinnamon.
Pictures
of
people
she
knew
hang
in

clusters
on
the
walls.
There
are
small
piles
of
books
on
each
end
table.
A
newspaper
is

folded
on
the
coffee
table,
crossword
puzzle
out.
The
tables
all
have
glass
tops
with
pointed

edges.
I
search
the
room:
glass
bowls,
heavy
crystal
picture
frames,
a
letter
opener.
She’s

safe
in
here.


       I
sit
down
in
one
of
the
two
chairs
she
pulls
up
in
front
of
the
space
heater.


       “I
didn’t
know
you
had
one
of
these,”
I
say.
I
don’t
know
what
she
has.


       “It
comes
in
handy,”
she
says,
rubbing
her
long
fingers
together
over
the
space

heater
like
it’s
a
camp
fire
she
lit
herself.


       “My
parents
are
at
a
funeral,”
I
say.


       “Oh
no,”
she
says.
Her
eyes
are
enormous
and
brown
behind
her
glasses.
“Somebody

good
pass?”


       “My
Uncle
Jack,”
I
say.



       She
raises
her
eyebrows
as
if
to
ask
me
why
I’m
not
at
my
uncle’s
funeral.


       “He
lives
in
Connecticut,
so.
.
.
“



       “So?”


       “So,
I
guess
I’m
not
supposed
to
miss
school
or
something,”
I
say,
ashamed
at
myself

again
and
angry
with
Ruby
for
making
me
give
an
answer.


       Her
head
dips.
I’m
not
sure
if
she
was
averting
her
eyes
or
if
it
was
a
single
nod.




   
                                          74


       I
rub
my
own
hands
over
the
space
heater.
She
turns
up
the
radio
that’s
been
near

silent
beside
her.
It
lists
the
roads
closed
by
falling
trees.

        “You’ve
got
someone
coming
to
stay
at
your
apartment
with
you
tonight?”


       I
tell
her
yes
and
she
suggests
I
call
that
person
after
I’m
all
warmed
up,
just
to
make

sure
they’re
okay
and
on
their
way.
She
looks
at
me
like
she’s
expecting
me
to
say

something.


       “He
was
a
good
man,”
I
say.
I
don’t
say
how
he
was
the
only
person
who
ever
stood

up
for
me.
I
don’t
say
how
he
was
my
father’s
older
brother
and
how
he
never
let
Father
hit

me
while
he
was
around.


       “I
remember
Jack,”
she
says.


       My
eyes
shoot
up.


       “From
around
town.
I’ve
lived
here
since
he
and
your
father
were
little.
You
look
a

lot
like
him
now
that
you’ve
grown
up
a
little
bit,”
she
says.


       “Really?”
I
ask.
I’d
love
to
be
like
Uncle
Jack
in
any
way.


       Her
eyes
blink
shut
for
a
second
as
she
nods.


       I
hear
a
metallic
tinkling
sound
that
I
can’t
place
fast
enough.
Ruby
cocks
her
head
to

try
to
peek
through
her
slightly
opened
front
door,
but
I
already
know
what
it
is:
keys.



       “The
apartment
door
is
already
open,”
I
hear
Father
say.
Mom
says
nothing.
In
a
split

second,
my
heartbeat
pauses
then
thuds
like
the
organ
wants
to
burst
out
of
my
chest.
My

vision
blurs
a
little
bit.
I
get
up
to
go
and
Ruby
grabs
my
forearm
with
her
delicate
fingers.

She
looks
into
my
eyes,
unafraid.


       “It
might
be
because
you’re
so
tall
you
look
like
your
uncle.
A
strong
man,”
she
says.


       I
let
her
hold
onto
my
arm
for
as
long
as
she
wants
to,
then
go
to
face
my
father.









   
                                           75

                   PORTRAIT
OF
THE
ARTIST’S
MOTHER

                                               

                                   Colleen
DeFruscio

                                               

                                                 


       The
light
is
about
to
turn
yellow.
I
press
the
ball
of
my
right
foot
hard
on
the
gas

pedal
and
feel
the
car
speed
up,
conscious
of
the
engine’s
growl
as
I
force
it
up
the
hill.
I

watch
the
needle
of
the
speedometer
shake
and
rise
on
my
dashboard,
and
imagine
it

bursting
through
the
plexiglass.
The
light
turns
yellow
–
I
press
harder,
pushing
all
of
my

weight
through
the
black,
patent‐leather
pointy‐toed
high
heel
and
into
the
gas
pedal
–
red.

I’m
too
late
but
have
too
much
momentum.
I
whiz
on
through
the
intersection
too
quickly

to
see
the
faces
in
the
honking
cars,
too
much
electricity
in
my
body
to
care.



       I
relieve
the
suffering
pedal
and
a
quick
pang
of
fear
drives
my
pupils
upward
to
the

rear‐view
mirror,
searching
for
the
rounded,
unforgiving
headlights
and
ruby‐and‐sapphire

crown
ready
to
pull
me
over.
There
are
no
cars
behind
me.
I’m
safe!
I’m
through!
My

heartbeat
begins
to
slow
down,
my
white
knuckles
ease
their
tense
grip
on
the
wheel,
my

back
muscles
smooth
out
against
the
leather
seat.
The
speedometer
finds
a
consistent

reading,
only
slightly
over
the
recommended
legal
limit,
and
the
engine
eases
to
a
whirr.


       Behind
me,
the
rust‐colored,
seven‐story
office
building
evaporates
gradually
in
the

midday
sun,
like
the
Wicked
Witch
melting
into
a
pool
of
rancid
sewer
water.
Inside
that

office
building
lies
a
gray‐wash
cubicle
full
of
stagnant
air
and
unrealized
dreams
and
her

forty‐nine
identical,
Siamese
sisters
housing
miserable
telemarketers
–
excuse
me,
“Outside

Sales
Representatives,”
a
job
that
couldn’t
have
required
less
creativity.
Good
riddance.


       A
warm,
beautiful,
honey‐suckle
flavored
breath
of
relief
dances
from
my
lungs
up

to
my
throat,
parting
my
lips.
I
look
back
behind
me
again.
Then,
I
lose
my
sanity
to
a
fit
of

laughter.
My
stomach
and
head
ache
with
the
vibrations
of
my
hilarity
but
I
can
feel
nothing

but
pleasure
sweeping
through
my
veins.
I
stop
hastily
at
a
new
crimson
beacon
overhead

and
am
aware
of
the
bewildered
and
frightened
looks
I
am
getting
from
the
man
in
the
car



   
                                          76

beside
me.
But
I
can’t
stop.
The
laughter
rolls
on
and
on,
spilling
out
and
forcing
tears
from

my
eyes.



        I
glance
back
one
last
time
and
can’t
make
out
the
rusted
puddle
in
the
distance,
but

I
do
notice
the
rattling
car
seat
strapped
in
the
backseat.


        I
pick
up
my
full‐keyboard,
multi‐functioning,
Blackberry
phone,
which
I
now
realize

I
can
no
longer
afford,
and
dial
my
mother’s
number.


        “Hello?”


        I
try
to
muzzle
the
laughing
cavalier
inside
me
long
enough
to
speak
clearly.
“Hamhf

–
Hi,
heehuh,
yes.
Hi!
You
are
speaking
to
a
free
woman.
Do
you
know
that?”


        “Lydia,
what
are
you
talking
about?
Are
you
ok?”


        “OK?
I’m
FABULOUS!
Oh,
I’m
ELATED!
I’m
everything…
I’m,
hahhehummfp,
I’m

sorry
I
can’t
stop
laughing…”


        “Are
you
drunk?
Hurt?
Do
you
need
me
to
come
get
you?
What’s
going
on?”


        “No,
no
I’m
not
drunk.
I’m
not
hurt.
No
I
–
I’m
fine,
I
swear.
I’m
just
–
I
mean
I

wanted
to
call
because
‐
Ma!
I
QUIT
today!
I
quit!
I
finally,
finally,
walked
out
of
that
prison‐
cell‐hell‐hole‐of‐a‐job
and
I’m
never
going
back!
I
feel
so
free!
I
feel
like
I
want
to
DO

something,
celebrate
–
let’s
celebrate!”


        “You
quit?
What?
I’m
not
understanding
you
–
you
said
that
you
quit?
Honey,
take
a

breath.
You’re
not
being
rational
here,
I
mean,
how
could
you
quit?
What
are
you
going
to

do
now?
How
are
you
going
to
support
yourself,
and
Benny?
Were
you
even
thinking
about

him?”


        The
reprimand
is
seasoned
just
right
with
disappointment,
a
staple
recipe
of
hers
–

but
my
laughter
can’t
be
held
down.



        “Hahhempf
–
what?
Benny?
What
are
you
talking
about?
It’s
going
to
be
fine,

because
I’m
free
now!
I’m
happy!
Mom,
I—”


        “Free?
Happy?
What
are
you
saying?
I
don’t
understand
what
you’re
saying.
So
what

if
that
job
wasn’t
ideal?
It’s
just
a
job,
and
you
needed
that
income.
A
job
isn’t
supposed
to

make
you
happy
–
it’s
just,
it’s
what
you
do,
for
Christ’s
sake.”


        “But
Mom—”




   
                                           77


       “Don’t
whine
to
me
about
this,
now.
Is
this
how
you
show
me
you
are
responsible
for

your
son?”


       A
large,
unmerciful
lump
starts
to
form
in
my
throat
and
I
know
my
mother’s
voice

is
lodging
it
there.
I
swallow
hard,
to
no
avail.
The
laughter
finally
and
completely
subsides.

Two
more
red
lights,
I
think,
and
consider
counting
the
trees.
I
yearn
for
a
piece
of
blank

canvas.


       “Mom.
Mom.
Please,
please
just
stop.
You
know
I
will
take
care
of
it,
I’ll
find
another

job.
I
have
some
money
set
aside.
I’ll
spend
some
time
with
Benny,
maybe
apply
for

something
at
the
art
store
and
send
out
some
resumes.
I
could
be
an
art
teacher,
or
try
to

be
an
illustrator,
or
I
don’t
know,
I
could
get
a
job
I
actually
like.
And
Ben
and
I
will
be
OK.

Ok?”


       I
can
hear
her
rustling
around
the
kitchen;
a
pan
hits
the
tile
floor
followed
by
a

muffled
curse.
I
imagine
her
taking
my
phone
call
just
as
she
started
to
make
pasta
on
the

stove
top
she’s
cooked
at
for
twenty‐eight
years.




      “Just
stop.
Listen.
I
was
suffocating
there,
Mom.
I
couldn’t
make
another
goddamn

phone
call.
I
was
dying
in
that
place.
I
couldn’t
stand
it
–
what
good
is
it
for
Benny
to
have
a

shell
of
a
mother?
Huh?
Because
that’s
what
I
was
becoming.”


       Silence
on
the
other
end
of
the
phone
line
sends
my
mind
reeling.
It
could
mean

she’s
listening,
processing,
attempting
to
understand
–
if
it
were
anyone
but
my
mother
on

the
other
end.



       “Lydia,”
she
finally
says,
“You
are
talking
dramatic.
A
shell
of
a
mother?
What
the

hell?
You
think
there
aren’t
millions
of
people
out
there
working
harder,
even
less

glamorous
jobs?
You’re
being
selfish.
What
kind
of
mother
quits
a
job
that
puts
food
on
her

baby’s
plate
to
work
at
an
art
store?
You
think
that’s
going
to
get
you
anywhere?
And
what

kind
of
mother
quits
her
job
so
she
can
get
a
job
that’s
more
FUN?
Huh?”


       I
offer
her
her
silence
back.
I
know
what
is
coming.
I
try
to
prepare
myself.
I

fantasize
about
running
the
last
red
light
and
my
knuckles
grip
the
wheel
tight
in

anticipation,
but
the
black
SUV
ahead
of
me
is
blocking
my
path.


       “Fine.
Fine.
Do
what
you
want,
you
always
do.
You’ve
never
been
responsible
for

Benny.
I
mean,
I
should
have
known.
Disappointment
after
disappointment.
I
always
put



   
                                           78

my
faith
in
you,
Lydia,
I’m
always
behind
you,
and
you
just—.
Just
don’t
expect
your
father

and
me
to
help
your
ass
out
like
we
did
when
you
got
pregnant.
You’re
not
a
kid
anymore,

hell,
you
weren’t
even
a
kid
then
–
just
acted
like
one.

I
thought
you
were
turning
around,

with
this
job
and
all,
and
now
you’ve
gone
and
done
this.
Unbelievable,
Lydia.”


       I
look
down
at
my
naked
left
hand
and
try
to
suppress
the
shame
that
I
know
is

unwarranted,
and
she
“knows”
is
necessary.
I
clear
my
throat
and
try
hard
not
to
scream.
I

imagine
my
mother
as
the
driver
of
the
SUV
in
front
of
me
and
am
overcome
with
a
desire

to
rear‐end
it.

A
desire
which,
of
course,
I
suppress.


       I
had
heard
speeches
like
this
my
whole
life.
When
I
came
in
after
curfew
in
high

school,
it
was
“very
disappointing.”
When
I
quit
the
field
hockey
team
mid‐season
to
spend

more
time
working
on
my
portfolio
it
was
“completely
irresponsible.”
When
I
declared
an

art
major
it
was
“unbelievable,
do
you
know
what
we
sacrificed
to
send
you
to
college?”

When
I
got
my
grandmother’s
name
tattooed
on
my
wrist
after
she
passed
it
was
“you
have

no
respect!”
And
when
I
came
home
pregnant
with
Benny,
it
was
all
of
the
above.
I
was
her

problem
child,
constantly
making
“mistakes.”



       
“Listen,
Ma.
I
just
called
to
tell
you
that
since
I—.”
The
word
I
had
wanted
to
sing

out
loud
became
painful
to
say
now,
“…quit,
I
will
be
picking
Benny
up
from
daycare.
I

wanted
to
catch
you
before
you
left.
Ok?”


       An
audible
heave
of
disapproval
comes
through
the
phone
followed
by,
“Fine.”


       “Bye
Ma.”



       Click.


       I
turn
into
the
parking
lot
of
Children
Garden,
the
daycare
Benny
had
been
attending

for
two
years,
and
wait
in
the
line
of
minivans
and
SUVs
driven
by
mommies
and
nannies.

While
waiting,
I
see
Benny
peeking
through
the
half‐opened
door,
his
almond
eyes
wide

with
excitement
and
reminding
me
of
his
father.
I
wave.


       It
seems
like
so
much
has
happened
since
that
April
afternoon
over
three
years
ago

when
a
bold
pink
line
on
a
CVS
brand
test
confirmed
what
a
couple
of
missed
periods
had

created
anxiety
over.
When
I
told
my
mother
I
was
pregnant
she
pretended
like
she
was

only
angry
because
I
was
unmarried
and
still
in
school,
not
because
the
father
was
a
half‐
Vietnamese,
half‐Puerto
Rican
free‐thinker
and
not
a
Catholic,
Italian‐American
business



   
                                         79

major.
She
had
only
met
him
once
in
our
year‐and‐a‐half
of
dating
–
right
after
I
told
her
I

was
pregnant.


        To
her,
Benny’s
father,
Jay,
was
another
mistake
I
had
made.
Though
it
hurts
to

admit,
she
was
right
about
him.
The
free‐spirited,
charming,
edgy
guy
I
had
fallen
in
love

with
too
fast
and
too
young,
as
a
sophomore
in
college,
was,
in
the
end,
an
irresponsible,

non‐child‐support‐paying,
immature
disappointment.
But
I
would
never
call
the

relationship
a
mistake.
I
made
my
choices,
for
better
or
worse,
and
in
the
end
was
left
with

about
ten
years
worth
of
growth
in
just
eighteen
months,
and
a
beautiful
baby
boy.




       The
cars
in
front
of
me
collect
their
snot‐nosed
glue‐covered
golden
children
away

and
I
step
out
of
the
car
to
collect
mine.
A
young
brunette
child
care
assistant
motions
for

Benny
to
come
over
to
us
and
hands
me
a
stack
of
construction
paper
creations.
“Isn’t
it

great
that
Mommy
is
here
to
pick
you
up
today?”
she
says
to
Benny
cheerfully.
She
looks

about
the
age
I
was
when
I
got
pregnant.



        I
scoop
up
my
beautiful
baby
boy
and
press
my
lips
hard
into
his
cheek
in
a
sloppy

smooch
that
leaves
my
apple‐blush
signature
on
his
face.
“What
did
you
make?!”
I
ask,

trying
my
best
to
mimic
his
three‐year‐old
enthusiasm.
“A
painting
for
you,
Mommy!”
he

squeals.



        “Wow!
You
did
a
great
job,
honey.”



        “And
for
grandma!”


        I
try
hard
to
keep
my
smile
full‐toothed
and
genuine.
I
look
at
Benny’s
little
round

face,
flushed
from
the
afternoon’s
play,
his
hair
ruffled
by
the
autumn
wind,
his
hands
dyed

with
the
paint
that
didn’t
quite
make
it
to
the
paper.
I
knew
it
would
make
her
heart
melt,

just
as
it
did
mine.


        “Let’s
go
over
to
grandma’s
and
give
it
to
her
so
she
can
hang
it
on
her
refrigerator.

Would
you
like
that?”



        He
nods
his
head
and
climbs
into
his
car
seat.
Slowly,
I
pull
the
car
out
of
the
parking

lot
and
wait
patiently
at
the
first
red
light.








   
                                           80

                                          SMOLDER

                                              

                                  Kimberly
Anderson





You
lean

back

into
your
bloodshot
eyes

fluorescent
light
shining
through
the


grooves
in
your
forehead.



You
inhale,
deeply

passionately
and

with

intent

deaf
and
blind
to
your
world.



Your
arms
slump
into

the
grain
of
the
chair

wooden
roots

supporting
the
limpness
of
your
body



At
ease

you

selfishly

suckle
your
way

to
defeat







   
                                         81



and
I

sit
erect

amid

anxiety

envious
and
awaiting

the
same
type
of
release.







   
                         82

                              AN
INTIMATE
AFFAIR

                                              

                                       Ann
Zaleski

                                                 

                                                 


       The
time:
Monday
morning,
7:35
a.m.
The
place:
N101,
an
ex‐band
room
now
turned

half‐classroom,
half‐computer
lab.
And
I,
well,
I
was
sipping
a
Brew
HaHa!
mocha
and

picking
lint
off
my
tunic
at
the
high
school
where
I
teach.

      
      


       I
was
slouching
at
a
table,
agitated
at
having
to
be
present
at
my
daily
morning

meeting
when
I
could
have
been
making
copies
or
straightening
out
my
desk.
“Reading

strategies.”
“Instructional
focus.”
“Bloom’s
taxonomy.”
All
educational
jargon
flying
around

my
head
like
fungus
gnats
during
this
meeting.
But
mine
was
a
failing
school,
and
failing

schools
have
to
implement
changes
in
order
to
bring
their
state
test
scores
up.
Our
change:

morning
meetings.
 
           

        My
buttocks
squeezed
into
a
pair
of
black
pants,
size
12.
Each
pocket
had
a
wide,

satin‐lined
mouth.
Often
wads
of
bills
peeked
out
of
them
or
fell
out
inconspicuously
when
I

crouched
or
sat
down.
When
others
told
me
they
could
see
these
bills,
I
would
simply
thank

them.
“Maybe
I
should
put
that
in
my
purse,”
I’d
say,
then
tuck
the
money
back
in
or
place
it

somewhere
else
for
temporary
safekeeping.
           

        Inside
the
right
pocket
of
the
pants
was
the
last
place
I
remember
feeling
my
cell

phone.
The
top
was
out
and
so
I
nudged
it
back
in.
It
could
have
slipped
out
any
time
after

that
nudge,
even
during
the
meeting.




       The
school
day
that
followed
was
busy.
At
some
point
in
this
forenoon
frazzle,
I

realized
that
my
pocket
was
flat
where
it
should
have
protruded,
but
I
figured
that
the
cell

phone
was
on
my
disheveled
desk
or
in
my
purse,
which
was
in
the
right‐hand,
bottom

drawer
of
my
desk.
The
drawer,
unlocked.


       It
wasn’t
until
lunch
arrived
and
I
sat
down
for
a
moment
to
rest
that
I
began
to

actively
look
for
the
phone.
I
shifted
piles
of
papers,
dumped
out
my
purse,
and
asked
a




   
                                         83

coworker
to
call
the
phone
so
I
could
hear
its
familiar
vibration.
When
he
called,
the
first

clue
surfaced:
someone
picked
up
the
phone,
then
hung
up
without
speaking.


       It
was
proof
that
I
had
not
misplaced
the
phone.
Someone
had
it
and
didn’t
want
to

discuss
its
whereabouts.



       My
instinct
was
that
the
thief
was
one
of
the
freshmen
my
department
chair
taught.

It
was
her
room
I
was
in
early
that
morning.


       I
rushed
down
the
hall.


       “Have
you
seen
a
cell
phone
by
this
table?”
I
said,
crossing
the
threshold
of
the
ex‐
band
room,
encroaching
upon
ghosts
of
trombones
past.



       She
looked
up
from
the
papers
she
was
grading,
and
gave
me
her
attention
through

wire‐rimmed
glasses
and
stray
wisps
of
brown
hair.
She
shifted
in
pants
tightened
by
two

months
of
pregnancy.
“No,
you
think
you
left
it
here?”
she
asked.


       “I
must
have.
Did
you
see
it?”


       My
department
chair
shook
her
head
and
rested
the
pencil
on
her
pile.
“But
that

doesn’t
mean
someone
didn’t
take–”


       “They
have
it.
They
picked
up.”



       She
promised
to
ask
her
classes
the
next
day.
And
I
left
her
room,
the
ancient
band

room
that
had
once
housed
flutes,
saxophones,
trumpets,
and
percussion
instruments
in

large,
oak
cabinets
so
high
only
a
janitor’s
ladder
could
reach
them.





                                             _________

                                                 


       I
believe
people
have
become
obsessed
with
technology.
Before
I
bought
it,
I
had
no

interest
in
a
cell
phone,
even
amid
all
the
rhetoric:
“You
need
one
in
today’s
society
…

people
expect
you
to
have
one
…
we
get
frustrated
when
we
can’t
get
hold
of
you
…
what
if

you
become
stranded
on
a
highway
or
get
in
an
accident?”


       But
I
had
become
stranded
once
and
survived.
Years
ago,
I
had
neglected
to
put
oil

in
my
car,
and
it
broke
down
on
I‐495,
a
major
highway
with
little
more
than
untamed

grass,
stagnant
water,
and
industrial
plants.
I
had
removed
my
infant
son
from
the
car,
still




   
                                          84

in
his
car
seat,
and
walked
with
him
through
torrents
of
rain
until
a
man
stopped
his
Chevy

and
allowed
me
to
use
his
cell
phone
to
call
my
brother.
I
did
not
die.


       For
twenty‐eight
years,
I
had
lived
a
cell
phone‐less
existence
and
was
content.

When
people
asked
me
why
I
didn’t
have
one,
I
shrugged
my
shoulders.
“I’ve
never
had

one,
so
I
don’t
much
care,”
I
answered.
I
didn’t
want
an
extra
bill
to
pay
every
month,
nor
all

the
hassles
I
heard
about
–
overages,
problems
with
bills,
stolen
phones.



       But
last
Christmas,
I
fell
victim.


       My
son,
ten
years
old
at
the
time,
snuggled
into
my
lap
as
we
watched
The
Polar

Express.
During
the
part
where
the
child
loses
his
ticket,
my
son
hoisted
himself
up
with
his

left
elbow,
digging
into
my
side.
His
eyes
were
like
the
night
sky.
His
skin,
a
freckled

constellation.
He
glanced
at
the
distraught
boy
on
the
screen,
then
back
at
me.


       “I’m
the
only
kid
in
fifth
grade
with
no
cell
phone.”


       “The
only
kid?”


       “Well,
maybe
not
the
only
one,
but
lots
of
kids
have
them
so
their
parents
can
get

hold
of
them.
Like
if
there’s
an
emergency.
And
if
I
don’t
take
care
of
it
or
lose
it,
you
don’t

even
have
to
buy
me
another
one.”
Shoulders
shook.
Hands
gripped
my
arm.
“Please
Mom,
I

won’t
ever,
ever
ask
for
anything
for
as
long
as
I
live.”


       “We’ll
see,”
was
all
I
said,
and
it
was
enough
to
coax
his
head
back
to
my
legs.
I
didn’t

care
that
I
had
just
given
in.
The
child
who
had
once
begged
me
to
snuggle
now
rarely

wanted
to
be
in
the
same
room
as
me.
I
massaged
his
scalp
and
thought
nothing
of
phones.

Only
of
a
boy
and
his
mom
and
The
Polar
Express.








                                              _________

                                                  



      



       Before
going
to
Mr.
James,
I
knocked
on
the
door
of
another
coworker’s
room.
She

let
me
in,
offered
some
of
her
apples
and
peanut
butter,
and
sat
back
at
her
desk.
When
I

explained
what
had
happened
with
the
mysteriously
lost
cell
phone,
she
seemed
confused.


       “But
you
texted
me
back,”
she
said.


       I
was
stunned,
sure
the
phone
was
taken
in
the
morning.
The
last
person
I
had

texted
was
my
boyfriend,
and
I
had
done
this
as
I
drove
to
school.
        
       


   
                                           85

        
“Look
…
you
said
‘yes’
when
I
asked
if
you
were
coming
down
for
lunch
today,”
she

said.


       “The
thief
pretended
to
be
me?”
I
demanded
to
see
the
text
she
had
written
to
me,

and
there
it
was:
“Are
you
coming
for
lunch?”
Then
I
looked
at
my
response.
“Yes,”
I
had

said,
apparently.
The
letters
were
right
there:
Y‐e‐s.
In
black
letters,
against
a
white

background,
was
the
affirmative
response
under
my
own
name.
               

        Someone
had
slithered
into
my
identity
and
was
passing
as
me.
I
felt
violated.
It

reminded
me
of
the
scene
in
Ghost
when
the
spirit
of
Patrick
Swayze
entered
the
body
of

Whoopi
Goldberg,
an
intrusion
of
privacy
that
left
her
completely
sickened
and
enraged.
A

child
I
didn’t
even
know,
one
who
had
probably
scanned
through
all
my
pictures,
texts,
and

contacts,
was
claiming
to
be
me,
crossing
into
my
personal
space.



       I
had
worked
hard
to
ensure
my
role
as
an
adult
in
that
school.
A
child
obtaining

personal
information
about
me,
and
possibly
using
it
to
his
benefit,
threatened
the
very

distance
I
had
worked
for
years
to
create.


       And
all
of
it
without
my
permission.




       I
thought
of
all
the
pictures
possibly
still
in
my
phone.
My
boyfriend
and
I,
both
busy

working
professionals,
saw
each
other
only
twice
a
week,
if
that.
I
had
missed
him
earlier

that
week,
so
I
sent
him
a
private
picture
for
no
other
reason
than
to
give
him
an
erection.

The
studio:

my
bathroom.
The
angle:

sideways,
a
little
to
the
front.
The
mirror
I
used
as
a

guide.
With
my
torso
exposed,
I
took
a
picture
of
my
breasts,
sucking
in
my
stomach
and

pushing
my
shoulders
back.
I
had
to
take
a
few
to
get
it
just
right:

a
pornographic
view
of

my
two
breasts.

      


       My
boyfriend
texted
back.
He
loved
the
picture
but
erased
it
immediately.
I
couldn’t

remember
if
I
had
gotten
rid
of
it,
though.
If
my
teacher
breasts
were
still
in
that
phone,
the

student
thief
would
have
seen
them.
And
that
meant
the
entire
school
would
have
gotten
a

glimpse
by
now.



       The.
Entire.
School.




                                             _________

                                                  






    
                                         86


       To
buy
his
phone,
my
son
and
I
went
to
a
small
Verizon
kiosk
at
the
Christiana
Mall.

The
lady
who
assisted
us
had
corn
rows
and
wore
a
Verizon
T‐shirt
and
khakis.
She

accepted
my
distaste
for
technology
and
complete
lack
of
know‐how,
but
warned
me
that
I

might
be
converted
if
I
ever
got
a
phone
for
myself.
I
chose
the
cheapest
one
for
my
son
–

no
special
features
like
Internet
or
emailing
–
but
before
I
could
make
the
purchase,
the

saleswoman
told
me
that
I
could
receive
two
phones
for
the
price
of
one.



       Sneaky.



       We
would
be
on
a
“family
plan,”
a
phrase
I
liked
as
it
suggested
the
bond
I
had
been

trying
to
reclaim
with
my
son
since
he
began
pulling
away
from
me.
My
son
and
I
took
our

two
phones
home.
I
felt
at
ease
with
the
purchase
1)
because
it
was
a
deal,
and
2)
because

we
got
them
with
no
frills.
I
could
still
claim
that
I
was
in
control
because
I
had
only
a
basic

phone.
I
was
still
better
than
the
masses.


       “Give
me
your
phone,
Mom.
I’ll
add
people
into
your
contacts.”
This
as
soon
as
we

entered
the
parking
lot.


       My
son
typed
away,
his
fingers
rhythmically
moving
around
the
keyboard
like
Irish

dancers.
Once
home,
he
taught
me
how
to
send
text
messages.
I
sent
a
perfectly

grammatical
one
to
my
sister
and
aunt,
then
waited
impatiently
for
them
to
return
the

correspondence.
When
they
did,
I
texted
back.
When
they
didn’t,
I
cursed
their
lack
of

etiquette.


       The
cell
phone
was
gaining
control
over
me,
as
I
had
always
worried
it
would.
I

became
its
slave,
texting
during
Sunday
dinners
with
my
family,
answering
in
the
middle
of

in‐person
conversations,
updating
my
contacts
with
people
I
never
called,
changing
the

colors
of
the
screen,
changing
them
back.
All
the
time,
I
felt
for
it
in
my
right
pocket,
just
to

make
sure
it
was
there.


       “Fifteen
minutes,
then
come
home,”
I
would
text
my
son
when
he
was
at
his
friend’s

house
down
the
street.
“K,”
he
would
text
back.
I
felt
confident
that
in
the
middle
of
playing

Madden
3
or
riding
his
scooter,
he
would
hear
my
text
and
remember
that
he
loved
me.

Other
times
when
I
was
reading
in
my
bedroom
while
he
watched
television
downstairs,
I

texted
him,
“Hey
Snuggie,
you
cold?”
sharing
our
joke
about
a
blanket‐wear
commercial.

Sometimes
a
simple
“I
love
you”
or
“Have
a
great
day
at
school”
sufficed.
He
wouldn’t
let
me



   
                                           87

insert
notes
into
his
lunch
anymore
since
other
children
could
see
them.
But
texts
were

private.



                                              ________

                                                  

                                                  


       Mr.
James,
the
school’s
disciplinarian,
was
sitting
in
the
cafeteria
at
his
usual
table

near
the
winding
stairs.
He
established
his
authority,
in
part,
through
consistency
in
his

appearance
–
a
themed
tie
every
day.
On
one
side
of
him
was
Detective
Simms,
the
school’s

resource
officer,
clad
in
her
ensemble
–
a
navy
police
uniform.
On
the
other
side,
an
empty

seat.



       “I
think
my
phone
was
stolen,”
I
told
Mr.
James,
taking
the
seat.
“And
I
really
don’t

remember
what’s
in
it
…
nothing
bad
of
course,
but
I
just
can’t
remember.”
I
told
him
the

story
about
the
morning
meeting,
the
person
picking
up
the
phone
and
hanging
it
up,
the

text
that
I
was
coming
to
lunch.



       “We
can
call
the
phone
and
see
if
anyone
in
the
cafeteria
picks
up,
or
just
see
what

happens,”
Detective
Simms
said.


       I
told
her
I
had
turned
off
the
service.
She
told
me
the
phone
was
now
untraceable

and
asked
if
I
had
insurance,
which
I
did.
So
Detective
Simms
wrote
down
a
phone
number

and
told
me
to
report
the
theft
with
the
police.
That
way,
I
could
get
a
case
number
that
the

insurance
company
would
need
to
send
me
another
phone.



       Mr.
James
made
a
prediction
when
Detective
Simms
was
finished:
“You’ll
get
it
back.

By
tomorrow.
I
bet
you.”



       I
wanted
to
believe
him.
I
really
did.
But
all
I
could
envision
was
the
pesky
thief
in

the
corner
of
a
bathroom
stall
with
his
thumb
on
the
down‐arrow,
scrolling
through
my

pictures
and
stumbling
upon
my
breasts.
My
bare
breasts
now
seeped
into
the
memory
of

an
unknown
person.
I
could
have
had
any
pictures
on
my
phone,
even
more
sexual
than
my

breasts,
and
the
teenage
perpetrator
was
seeing
them
all
–
right
in
the
corner
of
a
dirty,

sinister
bathroom
stall.




   
                                          88


      Pictures
of
my
son
were
also
in
the
phone
–
snapshots
taken
spontaneously
at

various
moments
of
our
life
together.
They
showed
a
boy
who
wanted
to
stay
a
child

forever,
or
one
I
wanted
to
stay
forever.
He
was
my
child,
and
the
thief
could
have
been

erasing
him.



                                           _________

                                               





       My
personalized
bank
of
pictures
grew
to
epic
proportions.
As
I
became
more
adept

at
taking
them
–
zooming
in
and
out,
adjusting
the
color,
angling
the
phone
–
I
took
more

and
more
pictures
just
because
it
was
fun.
Some
pictures
stood
out
more
than
others.
I

showed
these
to
people
often:


My
son
and
I
at
the
parade
a
few
days
after
the
Phillies
won
the
World
Series.
We
looked

     similar
in
the
picture
–
overcast
eyelids,
teethy
smiles.
His
shading
darker
than
mine,

     but
the
family
resemblance
clear.
I
allowed
him
to
skip
school
that
day,
which
was

     Halloween,
so
we
could
take
part
in
“history.”


My
son
at
the
Christiana
Hospital
emergency
room
the
night
he
broke
his
arm.
He
was
on

    morphine,
lying
on
the
examination
table
and
giving
the
peace
sign
with
his
right
hand,

    his
left
arm
in
a
sling.



My
son
at
A.I.
DuPont
Hospital
for
Children
the
following
morning.
It
was
after
surgery.
His

    lips
were
swollen
and
fish‐like;
his
elbow
had
a
metal
screw
through
the
vertical
break

    in
the
bone.







                                             __________

                                                   

                                              



      I
called
the
police,
as
Detective
Simms
had
suggested.
The
woman
on
the
other
line

had
a
warm
voice.
She
made
the
process
simple,
asking
only
a
few
questions,
then
giving

me
the
case
number
for
my
insurance
company.
It
was
a
routine
call
for
her.
The
kind
of

case
she
worked
with
frequently.





    
                                        89


       Throughout
the
day,
I
looked
at
the
faces
of
students
in
the
hallways,
the
stairwells,

and
my
own
classroom
and
wondered
if
any
of
them
had
taken
the
phone.
It
could
have

been
anyone.
They
all
looked
like
criminals
now.
When
I
got
into
my
car,
I
put
together
a

profile
of
what
the
thief
looked
like.
I
imagined
him
as
a
male,
short
in
stature
since
he
was

probably
a
freshman.



       When
I
picked
up
my
son
from
my
mother’s
house
that
evening,
I
told
him
what

happened.
He
hugged
me
empathetically,
knowing
how
it
felt
since
his
phone
had
once

been
stolen
by
a
group
of
older
teenagers
at
a
park.
The
new
bond
between
us:
a
boy,
his

mother,
and
some
stolen
property.


       I
called
my
boyfriend
from
my
mother’s
phone.
I
didn’t
tell
him
about
the
picture
of

my
breasts.


       “Just
get
a
new
phone,”
he
said.
I
claimed
I
would
never
get
another
phone,
even
if
it

was
free.


       It
was
difficult
to
ignore
how
much
of
our
relationship
was
dependent
upon
our

phones.
What
would
happen
if
we
couldn’t
send
the
texts
that
said
“I
love
you,”
“I
want

you,”
and
the
ones
more
intimate
than
that
–
“I
want
you
to
lick
me
all
over”
and
“Make
love

to
me
slowly
next
time.”
Before
cell
phones,
people
found
other
ways
to
express
their

affection.
They
sent
flowers.
They
gave
cards.
They
didn’t
need
the
standardized
pixels
of
a

text.


       “You’ll
get
a
new
phone,”
my
boyfriend
repeated.


       I
answered
him
from
the
most
honest
depths
of
my
soul.
“Watch
me.
If
it’s
not

returned,
the
insurance
company
wins.”




                                             __________

                                                  

                                                



       The
thief
returned
the
phone
the
next
day.



       My
department
chair
stopped
me
at
the
bottom
of
the
steps.
“A
gift
for
you,”
she

said,
then
presented
the
phone
in
the
palm
of
her
hand.
I
placed
my
right
hand
over
my

heart
and
exhaled
forcefully.
With
the
left,
I
picked
up
the
phone
–
its
familiar
scratches,
its

light
weight.


   
                                           90


        “How
did
you
get
it?”
I
asked.


        “I
told
my
class
this
morning
that
a
teacher
lost
her
phone
in
the
room,”
she
said.

“Later
in
the
day
three
boys
brought
it
back
…
I
think
because
they
knew
it
was
a
teacher’s

phone.”


        Out
of
instinct,
I
cupped
my
breasts.
     
       
      
      
      
       


        The
boys
deleted
some
of
the
pictures,
but
kept
the
World
Series
and
hospital
ones.

My
breasts
were
nowhere
to
be
found,
which
meant
I
must
have
previously
erased
them.

Interestingly,
the
boys
entered
an
extra
contact
–
a
person
named
Stef.
It
has
been
months

since
the
incident,
but
I
have
not
deleted
Stef’s
number
though
it
is
useless.
The
unknown

person
is
evidence
of
the
experience,
an
element
of
the
phone’s
traumatic
past.
And
this

Stef
is
my
inspiration
to
be
extra
careful.


        On
the
evening
of
the
theft,
I
swore
to
my
boyfriend
that
I
would
never
get
another

phone.
Now
we’ll
never
know
if
that
would’ve
been
true.
But
we
continue
to
send
text
after

text:
“I
love
you,”
and
“I
miss
you.”
And
we
plug
in
our
chargers
at
“Goodnight.”






                                              





   
                                         91

                             contributors

                                                

KRISTEN
ADAMS

graduated
from
Albright
College
in
Reading,
PA,
with
a
BA
in
English
and
Communications.

She
is
currently
in
her
final
semester
with
the
Saint
Joseph's
Writing
Studies
Program;
only

her
thesis
to
go!
She
currently
lives
in
Cherry
Hill,
NJ,
but
is
planning
to
return
to
her

Pennsylvanian
roots
in
August
when
she
moves
to
Philadelphia.



KIMBERLY
ANDERSON


graduated
from
Ithaca
College
with
a
BA
in
Writing
and
Sociology.
She
is
currently
enrolled

in
Saint
Joseph's
Writing
Studies
Program.
Originally
from
Ithaca,
NY,
she
has
been
living
in

the
Philadelphia
area
for
the
past
year
and
a
half
and
has
been
working
for
two.one.five

magazine
and
Little
Giant
Media
as
their
marketing
writer.
She's
also
worked
for
GPTMC's

Philly
360
book
as
the
sole
writer.
The
Feral
Press,
a
small
press
based
out
of
New
York,

has
published
her
work.



JANEA
BRACHFELD


is
currently
a
graduate
student
at
Saint
Joseph's
University
in
the
Writing
Studies
program.

She
graduated
in
2009
from
SUNY
Potsdam
in
northern
New
York
with
a
degree
in

Secondary
Education
and
English.
Janea
is
from
Long
Island
in
New
York
and
moved
to

Philadelphia
last
summer.
She
is
very
excited
for
this
publication
as
it
is
her
first
as
a

serious
writer.



MARK

CHALMERS


is
a
graduate
of
King’s
College,
holding
a
BA
in
English,
Writing.
Currently,
he
is
a
student
in

Saint
Joseph’s
Writing
Studies
Program.
He
is
in
the
midst
of
producing
his
thesis
in
poetry

aptly
titled,
“The
Absurd
and
Daily
Life,”
and
will
graduate
with
his
MA
in
2010.




   
                                           92

COLLEEN
DEFRUSCIO


graduated
from
Penn
State
University
in
May
2009
with
a
BA
in
English
and

Communication
Arts
and
Sciences.
She
is
currently
enrolled
in
Saint
Joseph's
University's

Writing
Studies
program
and
is
a
graduate
assistant
for
the
University's
Office
of

Development
and
Alumni
Relations.
Recently,
Colleen
was
selected
to
present
a
paper
at

the
Annual
Eastern
Communication
Association
Conference
in
Balitmore,
MD,
titled
"The

Silences
of
Autism:
Redefining
Communication
in
the
Terms
of
Individuals
with
Autism

Who
Are
Nonverbal."



GINGER
HARRIS

is
originally
from
southwest
Virginia.
She
graduated
with
a
BA
in
English
and
German
from

Roanoke
College
in
2007
and
is
completing
her
master's
in
the
Saint
Joseph's
Writing

Studies
program
in
spring
2010.
She
is
a
published
music
journalist
and
contributing
writer

for
several
online
humor
and
entertainment
publications.
She
works
at
several

Philadelphia
Live
Nation
music
venues
and
as
a
graduate
assistant
in
the
university
Writing

Center.
Future
plans
include
continued
graduate
work
in
cultural
and
visual
rhetoric.



LAURA
KOENIG


earned
a
BA
in
English
from
Penn
State
University
in
2001
and
is
expected
to
graduate
with

an
MA
in
Writing
Studies
from
St.
Joseph's
University
in
summer
2010.
She
lives
in

suburban
Philadelphia
with
her
husband
and
cat
and
works
as
a
business
writer
at
a
large

financial
company.



AMY
LEWIS


has
a
BFA
from
New
York
University
in
Theatre
that
she
will
be
paying
for
for
the
rest
of

her
life
yet
never
intends
to
use.
In
addition,
she
has
MA's
from
Cambridge
University
and

St.
Joseph's
that
have
also
put
her
in
the
poorhouse
but
have
at
least
come
in
handy.
She
is

currently
awaiting
news
from
Temple
University
about
a
Ph.D.
program
in
Composition

Rhetoric
and
is
beginning
to
think
she
will
pay
off
her
student
loans
in
their
entirety
before

TU
gets
back
to
her.



   
                                          93



LANA
MARYE
MORELLI

graduated
from
Cabrini
College
with
a
BA
in
Political
Science,
Sociology
and
Pre‐Law.

After

college
she
completed
one
year
of
law
school,
only
to
realize
her
true
passion
is
writing.
She

is
now
pursuing
an
MA
in
Writing
Studies
at
Saint
Joseph’s
University.
In
November
2009,

she
created
a
blog
called
"20Something‐
Straight
Up,
On
the
Rocks
or
With
a
Twist."
Her

blog
is
endorsed
and
published
in
the
Delaware
County
Daily
Times
Newspaper.
She
is
now

coined
"Delco's
20something
Blogger."
She
has
also
been
published
in
Philadelphia

Magazine,
The
Delaware
County
Daily
Times,
The
Garnet
Valley
Press,
The
Delaware
News

Journal,
Saint
Joseph’s
University
Athletic
Media
Guides,
and
Gimme
This
&
That
Magazine.





CHRISTINE
SKALKA


graduated
from
St.
Joseph's
University
in
2009
with
a
BA
in
English
and
History.

While

completing
her
degree,
she
was
published
in
SJU's
undergraduate
literary
magazine,

Crimson
and
Gray.

She
is
currently
enrolled
in
the
Writing
Studies
Program
and
will

complete
her
MA
in
2010.





DONNA
S.
SMITH

received
her
BA
in
English
from
Penn
State
Wilkes‐Barre,
where
she
developed
a
love
for

writing
at
the
encouragement
of
the
English
faculty.
She
is
currently
pursuing
an
MA
in

Writing
Studies
at
Saint
Joseph's
University.
She
resides
in
the
town
of
her
birth
in
beautiful

Northeastern
Pennsylvania.
In
addition
to
writing
creative
nonfiction,
Donna
enjoys
small

town
life,
playing
the
piano,
her
supportive
boyfriend,
her
three
sisters
who
make
her
laugh

like
no
one
else
can,
and
above
all,
loving
and
being
loved
by
Christ.











   
                                          94





LARONNDA
V.
THOMPSON

is
a
Philadelphia
native
who
graduated
from
Temple
University
in
2008
with
her
BA
in

Communications.
She
has
practiced
creative
writing
since
the
8th
grade
and
has
won

several
contests,
including
those
sponsored
by
Philadelphia
Young
Playwrights
and
the

Philadelphia
Free
Library.
She
has
been
published
in
community
papers
and
has
given

readings
for
the
Susquehanna
Community
Festivals
and
a
Delaware
public
access
television

station.
She
has
been
able
to
focus
on
story
writing
as
a
Saint
Joseph's
University
Writing

Studies
graduate
student,
and
she
intends
to
complete
her
first
(in
a
series
of)
science

fiction
novel(s)
for
her
thesis.



AARON
VAN
GOSSEN


graduated
from
The
Theatre
School
at
DePaul
University
with
a
BFA
in
Playwriting.
He

spent
five
years
in
L.A.
as
a
freelance
screenwriter
and
stand‐up
comedian.
His
work
has

been
published
on
Pariah
online
magazine
and
he
was
a
finalist
in
the
2007
David
Mamet

Playwriting
contest
in
San
Fransisco.
He
is
about
to
graduate
from
St.
Jospeh's
Writing

Studies
program.
Aaron
currently
has
a
raw
food
blog,
rawmuffin.blogspot.com,
and
is
a

regular
contributer
to
gimmethisandthat.com.



ANN
ZALESKI

is
a
high
school
English
teacher
in
Delaware
and
plans
to
graduate
from
the
Writing
Studies

program
at
St.
Joseph's
University
in
May
2010.
She
writes
both
fiction
and
creative

nonfiction.
In
her
spare
time,
Ann
enjoys
spending
time
with
her
son
–
going
to
his
football

and
basketball
games,
watching
movies
together,
and
eating
breakfast
at
the
Posthouse.

She
laments
that
he
is
growing
up
too
quickly.







   
                                         95


				
DOCUMENT INFO
Shared By:
Categories:
Tags:
Stats:
views:5
posted:1/30/2012
language:
pages:99