Her Last Note by Kate Harkins

July 15, 2010

It was only a week ago her children had mastered the art of swinging. Regret for teaching them, no. Regret for not being here for them now, yes. She picked up her obituary. Lisa Moren, Mother of two, dies at 34.

She had ripped off a slab from a notepad and grabbed a pen from the desk drawer. The pressure built as the palm of her hand laced with perspiration. Not again, she thought. As she had already written, “I will”, each bump of the m, dot on the i, curl of the s’s, and y-o-u, the paper had dampened with another drop, “It had nothing to do with you.” Completed. The weight of the pen felt like she was attempting to write with a 10-pound dumbbell. Her grasp of it loosened. The page was halfway empty, and she couldn’t come up with any word or sentence to ease her pain. Her eyes drooped as her mouth crept open. Bang! She opted for a staring contest with the paper. The pen landed on the table; her head following with it.

She lifted herself up and walked to the back window. They were giggling on the swings facing one another. Their laughter shaped her bliss. She rushed to the swing-set to go help push them. Standing behind Andrew, she propped her arms up. As he swung backwards she gave it her all and pushed forwards. Her hands went straight through him.


Raspberry by Cate Battey

July 15, 2010

It must feel as if I am torturing her. I sit cross-legged on her bed, buried in blankets and pillows, and I wait for her to speak. The words come in waves, rising out of her throat and then retreating. When she speaks it is nothing extraordinary; her stories are nothing I haven’t heard before, and I won’t leave her room feeling as if the wall between us has disintegrated. It is the act of conversing itself that is extraordinary. Her lips do some of the talking, but the bruise the shape of a pacifier imprinted on her thigh, and the subtle stench of alcohol radiating from her skin, and the purple swells beneath her eyes – they pulse like the neon sign of the liquor store that reads, ‘Sorry, we’re closed.’ An attempt is made at a joke. It isn’t funny, and I don’t laugh. She tries to sit cross-legged with me, but she can’t seem to fold her crooked knees without a foot dangling off the bed. Put your shoulders back, I want to say, but I am not her mother, and even if I were, it would hardly make a difference. And as she bends down to grab something of no importance at all, she looks at me and she is a sunken ship. When she was ten years old, she told me she was running away. I watched in silence as she packed her bag, the one the color of raspberries. I woke up extra early, long before my Saturday morning cartoons, to say goodbye. The raspberry bag was exactly where she had left it, but she was gone. It felt like hours before I found her, sitting cross-legged in front of the television, a finger twirling her curls. ‘I changed my mind,’ she said to me. Just like that.

Now, a tear in her dress reveals the new tattoo that laces the cavity of her shoulder blade. ‘It means promise,’ she says. I chuckle to myself, but it is a sweater one size too small.


Rimini by Kate Harkins

July 15, 2010

We thrive off of each other’s accompaniment. Whether it is propping our feet up on the porch and somersaulting into a novel, or dressing up in rainbows to apply attention to ourselves at a rave, we can’t go wrong. The exploiting of paddleboats, volleyball courts and stores narrates Rimini’s humdrum. Stop. Look. Go. The task of walking to the beach requires us to evade the bikers, the sale scams, and the mopeds. Soaked into our skin is the heat that inserts a yen for the tang of gelatos. With each intake of the rich delight, an ooze of guilt slinks from the core of our chests. Lunch. Lunch is a necessity. It is only here where we attempt to convince ourselves the waiter thought we looked starving and not that we look as if we could actually finish off that platter of food. We over satisfy ourselves as our stomachs bulge with content. As the darkness pounces onto the dusk, the stars emit a signal for the music to strike. Our minds sprint into a realm of ecstasy. We lose grasp of time as we slip into an effortless task of keeping ourselves awake. The sensation of bruises immersed in the soles of our feet is our mind’s flare to go to sleep. We tiptoe onto the bus so as to avoid the collision of the tender nerves of the heel bashing the floorboard. Retracting pajamas from the wooden dresser, we slide into new gear. The rushes of adrenaline seep back into its original abode as our eyelashes clinch our bag lines. Our minds lapse into a sphere between reality and illusion as our bodies stay. Magnetic to the bed sheet.


Ready Or Not by Britnee Williams

July 15, 2010

Boy: “are you ready?”

Girl: “No. Well maybe. Uhhh, you see… I think I need more time.”

(Boy rubs her back to comfort her.)

Boy: “I’m not going to make you do something you don’t want to do.”

Girl: “ I know that. But, I’ve never done this before.”

(She begins to bite on her fingernails. )

Boy: “neither have I, but we can both do this together. I mean, it’ll be fun…”

(She looks into his eyes with fear.
He places his elbows on his knees with his head rested in his palms.)

Girl: “Are you mad at me?”

Boy: “no, but I think you’re making it a bigger deal than it should be.
Either we do it or we don’t. “

(She looks at him with frustration. Then stands up and began to pace back and forth.)

Girl: “You probably think I’m a big baby, don’t you?”

Boy: “Not at all”

(10 minutes pass by)

Girl: “Alright. I’ve thought about it long enough…I’m ready.”

Boy: “its about time, and it’ll be well worth it!”

(The instructor walks to the couple and hands them forms to fill out.)

Instructor: “alright, welcome ladies and gentlemen. Today, we will be skydiving from thousands of feet up in the air! But before we strap all of you in we must first go over all procedures and regulations for a safe flight. Is this anyone’s first time skydiving with us?”

(boy and girl raise their hand, along with the couple next to them)

Instructor: “wonderful! Well now that we know all the safety tips to a safe flight, lets load em’ up!”

(the instructor points to the plane out on the landing strip.)

Boy: “are you ready?)

Girl: “more than ever.”


Reston (The Bloomless Version) 910 by Cameron Vest

July 15, 2010

We look so clean on Google Earth. We have paved paths through the nearly wild woods that the proper associations of this gang-ridden pit of sunshine and disturbed grace put up for the healthy people, the bikers and runners and the lovers and the mothers with their strollers and their husband’s babies. We have a center with live pseudo-jazz and a fountain and security guards with buzzing radios and beer bellies. We are even, in their photographs, quaint; at the farmer’s market that doesn’t have much to do with farms at all but instead with sipping a small milkshake from the Mexican restaurant in the drugstore/post office while fingering the wares of the multinational women running redundant booths punctuated by the occasional authentic confederate-accent slip of woman selling something odd and useless. They are all salespeople, even the big girl in the wheelchair who it hurts somewhere to look at, an achy burn in whatever organ it is that fills the gap between the butterflies in your belly and the knot in your throat. Where guilt lives, almost- the origin of tooth in tire-rubber lip. Shame, maybe, shame for her and shame on you for not even running a paw over the fluffy somethings (they look like badly knitted potholders, but they might be hats) in her plastic bucket. Then you sip your milkshake and swallow it away, and she doesn’t matter anymore.

At some point before I can remember the town started incorporating a series of abstract, student-produced art into its landscaping projects. One of the more minimalist wooden constructions I’ve been climbing since I was ruler-height. There are holes in the slats, purposeful, quarter-sized holes that you can blow your cigarette smoke through. For the longest time I thought if I just blew hard enough I could make it all come out in one thick cylinder, like Play-doh, but the breeze around here is just strong enough so nothing like that lasts for long.

There are broken bottles everywhere, smashed in with the mossy sunshine like bits of the city have fallen into the woods. A little backwards. Polluting.

“It’s pretty out here.”

“Yup.”

“Kind of cold.”

“Yup.”

“Want a cigarette?”

“Nah, those things will kill you.”

“Probably.”

“Seriously, do you know how much tar and shit there is in those things? It’s like you’re smoking the street.” He has one of those laughs that make it seem like his jaw is wired shut.

“I took health class, thanks. It just made me crave nicotine.”

“Hmm.”

“Anyway.”

I think he’s talking- his lips are moving in the way of somebody talking about the stuff of revelations- but either he is not making any noise or this town has sucked the eardrums out of me. Either one makes sense, really. The sun spits out new beads of sweaty bracelet to adorn us, seeping into our pickled skin.

“Hey, look. See the turtle?” I do not see the turtle. I see a log and water and a very hairy almost man.

“Yeah, I think so.”

“No, on the log- look, it’s like a turtle family.” Now, I see the turtle, but I’m missing the babies.

“My neighbor used to catch turtles and paint numbers on their shells so he didn’t catch the same ones twice.” That was definitely a rock.

“My brother used to do that.”

“I never knew you had a brother.”

“Two. And a sister.”

“Oh.”

“You know that old bridge?” I do. I hang my feet over it once in awhile and count the things that are wrong with the water. I take pebbles and beer caps and drop them in, one by one like badly set dominoes.

“The one coming up to the 7-11?”

“Yeah.”

“Did you know a guy hanged himself there?” Hung. He hung himself.

“No- that’s awful.”

“Yeah. I found him, in the morning, on my way to work.”

“Oh- my-”

“I knew him, too. He used to fix cars out in the lot in front of the Hut. Mostly for free because he was friends with everybody but it made him a living. Was pretty good at it but I guess it was illegal or something because he had to stop and then I guess a lot of things went south.”

“I’m sorry.” This is a pathetic response.

“He went by Jorge or something like that. One of those common names. I used to give him free pizza.” I have found the turtles. They are sunning themselves on the log.“I guess free pizza just isn’t enough sometimes.”

It’s not until later, not until we’ve walked back to the Hut and I have freeloaded some pizza myself that I am struck with the urge to ask what his favorite topping was. I don’t, though- instead in my head the mechanic friend’s feet over the concrete creek twist in the wind, which whiles and whistles through his torn jeans and oily tee to the strained rope, up the rope to its triple-tied knot on the bridge with the path that the healthy people walk on, by the road that the healthy people drive on, in this town built up for healthy people with bobbing ponytails and 6:30 workouts; and I wonder how many of these jogged by and missed his knot.


The City Lost In Fog by Hailey Klein

July 15, 2010

The water rushes over your toes as you stand on a beach staring up at the red bridge that disappears into the distance. Well, not really. But with all this fog around it sure seems like it. There are hardly any people around here. Most are back in the bustling city behind you. One may often stand, entranced, just looking at this city like it was made up; completely unrealistic to any architect or mayor who passes by. The buildings shoot up into the sky like pencils in a mug. The ground is still uneven from the many years of throwing dirt on top of swamp and nothingness but the locals don’t mind. Everyone here is relaxed like a baby in a soft sleep. Just a couple days and you’ll feel like before this you lived in Alcatraz. Sitting on a street corner close to the pier, I wait for the trolley. The people around me bustle at a pace I only thought existed in New York City as they head to shops and restaurants. Oh, that reminds me. I must get some clam chowder. How about Bourdon’s? Of course, don’t forget the bread bowl while you’re at it. The Bay grasps the air and sucks water into it making it humid and unpleasant. Who knew that one city could change the thinking of a simple but independent minded person. I only thought this possible in the city lost in an afternoon fog.


Congressional Hearing of the Warehouse District by Michael Brennan

July 15, 2010

On the corner of 6th Street and Red River Road, dangling lights sweep the pockmarked sky; snare drums stutter from every point of reference, and mutual infectious sovereignty sprays all those who walk among the free. Never has anyone ever seen a moon this blue. Its shadow a spotted orange from the cascades of bats making their grand exit from concrete refuge. Inside, men and women sit and stand at tables, booths, and bars planted in their ways, outside they glide across the stocky cobblestones and aren’t afraid of the dark. The electric aura that shines as bright as the owl-shaped tower beams down upon the street dwellers, and they gratefully respond with suiting gestures.