Table of Contents
Editor's Notes
Submission Guidelines

Stories & Essays
A Wedding Toast For Daddy's Little Girl
By Miriam N. Kotzin
_ By Debbi Pless
_ By Rachel Miller
_ By Julie Jordan
Hearts Without Armor
_ By Angela P. Markham
Mental Constipation and Brain Vomit
_ By Winnie Khaw
My Best Subject
_ By Ashley Polker
_ By Samantha Rae
Requiem For An Author
_ By R. Holsen
Sometimes It Pours Only Dogs
_ By Saana Tykkä
The Black Tape
_ By Brad Jashinsky

A Slave To Time
_ By Clyde Windjammer
_ By Kaleen Love
Death By My Lover
_ By Jessica Tempestad
I Am A Pineapple
_ By Rachel Miller
Lament For the Lost Soldier
_ By Melissa Augeri
Laundry Arcade
_ By Ashley Polker
Left Silent To Dream of Wine
_ By Kaleen Love
_ By Henry Grieves
Ode To Microsoft Spell Cheque
_ By Arielle Demchuk
Reminiscent of Society As An Individual
_ By Henry Grieves
Ship's Cook
_ By Heather Inwood
The Phoenix
_ By Kaleen Love
The Raven and the Dove
_ By Melissa Augeri
Train Dreamer
_ By Heather Inwood 

Art & Photography
S. Camargo
_ Photography and Drawings
David C. Clarke
_ Photography
Wiltekirra Samaxionn
_ Photography
Anca Sandu
_ Paintings
Austin Tanney
_ Photography
Ray Tsang
_ Paintings
Mark Warren
_ Photography

By Debbi Pless

I’m not sure why, but my family has always considered bread to be the most important food group. Maybe this belief comes from when my parents were missionaries in Amsterdam, living on bread and good Gouda cheese. Or perhaps it comes from my German grandmother, who sends us a loaf of Stollen every year for Christmas breakfast. Or perchance it just comes from living right next door to a town full of good Italian bread. Whatever the case, my family is obsessed with bread.

In fact, while bread isn't the sole reason I met Rita, it should be. Rita is our next-door neighbor, a petite woman in her late thirties from a well-eating Italian family. I actually didn’t start going over to their house on Saturday afternoons because of Rita; I went because of Buddy, her father. Buddy was sort of another grandfather for me. I went over every afternoon he was there and I helped him with gardening, or cooking, or just errands. I wasn’t being charitable either; I loved it over there.

I was seven when I started visiting, Buddy was still living locally on the East Coast, Rita hadn’t met Tim, and the house was always alive and full of people and food. Especially bread.

My favorite part of Saturday afternoons was when we stopped gardening and went to go do the errands. I’m not sure what was so special about it. Maybe it was because someone I wasn’t related to found me important enough to include me in the mundanities of their life. Or maybe it was to get away from my ever-present family. I think it was both, in a way, but it was mainly for the bread. Rita and Buddy went to Mortillaro’s Bakery for their bread and other miscellaneous foods. Rita’s favorite was the champagne cookies. Pink cookies with rainbow sprinkles pressed into the sides, they were the perfect cookies. At least Rita thought so; I never really cared for them.

The best thing was of course, the bread. We would get it, still warm some days, pre-sided and ready to be slathered with butter and broiled in the toaster oven for the perfect movie snack, or to be painted with peanut butter and jelly for a tasty sandwich. Or even eaten plain, straight from the bag in the car. No matter what, the bread was perfect.

This kept up for two years, and I settled into a Saturday routine of doing my chores, then running over to the House to see what the plan was this week. My parents didn’t really mind my being over there as long as I came when called and didn’t get in trouble. In fact, through me and my presence, our families started getting together for supper on Saturday nights, or inviting each other over for Sunday dinner. Still, Buddy wasn’t getting any younger, and he was starting to stay behind more and more weekends. Eventually phased out of my life entirely, and the weekend became all about Rita and hanging out with her.

The huge dollhouse from their house in Saugus was moved to the Rockport house, where Rita and I spent days redecorating and buying things for it. It was finally complete the day we bought the tiny clay loaf of bread and placed it in the kitchen, on the table, with a knife right next to it so the toy mice who lived in the house could eat a piece whenever they wanted.

By this time, Rita had met Tim and was seriously dating him. Buddy was thinking about moving to California. And Mortillaro’s was closing.

When Rita found out, she was devastated. She bought seventy-two champagne cookies as a farewell to the owners, whom she knew quite well. They knew me pretty well too from all the times I’d accompanied her. We spent weeks trying to find a bakery that was nearly as good. Rita wanted to find her cookies, but I just wanted a place with decent bread. Eventually we settled for Virgilio’s. They didn’t have the cookies, or the right kind of bread, but they had other pastries, amazing St. Joseph’s rolls, and great pizza. Still, it wasn’t enough.

As the years passed after that, Rita helped Buddy and her brother Joey move out to Pasadena, California. By then he had stopped coming entirely, and instead of the sweet old grandfather I remembered, had become a crotchety old man who didn’t like to bend his knees when he walked. I was actually relieved to see them leave. Rita started to see even more of Tim. We figured that something was bound to happen; either they’d get engaged, or break up, or something. But nothing did. And Rita stopped coming as often. Her career was on the fast track, and she had little time to drive an hour from Tim’s house to sit on the couch to eat toast and watch Indiana Jones movies with a twelve year old. Nevertheless, when she did come, it was the same old routine. She’d ask me about school, and I’d tell her all the gory details of my encounters with Cassidy and the jocks, then Hannah and the popular kids. Until I reached high school and Rita stopped coming.

I guess, she didn’t really stop, she just faded out. I started to get used to Saturday nights by myself, and the lack of good bread. By the time she was living in Boston, Mom had found a good bread that was sold right at Shaw’s. Though doubtful at first, I soon warmed up to it, and declared it my new favorite food. Rita still came every once in a while, and often in the autumn, so we kept a fire going in her house while she and Kerstin, my older sister, talked, and I listened and occasionally interjected an idea. In fact, up until Kerstin went to college, that was the schedule. Rita was in work all spring and summer, but in the fall it was old times, plus my sister.

After Kerstin left for college, Rita switched jobs, and I restarted school. I really didn’t see her except holidays. In fact, this year, I saw Rita three times all winter and spring. She came this weekend, and swears she’ll be here next week, but I doubt it. I’m sixteen now. She’s thirty-eight, and starting to worry about her biological clock. When she does come up, we eat bread and talk about anything except the House, Buddy, or how little she comes these days. The House that was once full of people and food now has me as it’s sole occupant, and I live next door. The refrigerator only has a lemon, some seltzer, and a bottle of Nayonnaise in it now. The bread drawer has been empty for years.

But at least one thing has stayed in the house, along with the piles of books and the dusty dollhouse. Me and my love of bread.