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Cover
Table of Contents
Editor's Notes
Donations
Submission Guidelines
Website

Stories & Essays
...gone tomorrow
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By jp Rodriguez
Barbie and the Burn Scars
_ By Dion OReilly
Bright Lights
_ By Nicole Exposito
Cricket Theory
_ By Sophia Alev
Dieciseis
_ By Kate Delany
Fines Double In Work Zone
_ By Brian Stumbaugh
Guy and Doll
_ By John P. Loonam
Lake
_ By Erlynda Jacqui Chan
Lala's Diner
_ By Nicole Exposito
Laundry
_ By Allison P. Boye
Love Story
_ By Cynthia Burke
Magic Bags and Forgotten Princesses
_ By Ken Goldman
Squirrels
_ By Benjamin Buchholz

Poetry
Baking Bread and Other Subtleties
_ By Leland Jamieson
Corpus Christi
_ By Taylor Collier
Early Cold
_ By Yvette A. Schnoeker-Shorb
Ekphrasis at the Mall
_ By James Owens
Games In Your Uncle's Den
_ By Robin Stratton
My Spanish Rose
_ By Jose Rivera
Northern Lights, Southern Soul
_ By E.F. Kramer
Posted on Fifth Avenue
_ By J.R. Salling
Sirens
_ By Naiya Wright
Summer Sojourn
_ By Cheryl Butterweck-Bucher
The Himalayan Sunset
_ By Rohith Sundararaman
Time Decays, Clots
_ By Kristine Ong Muslim
Turn
_ By Terrance Schaefer
Where You Rest
_ By Stephanie N. Barnes

Art & Photography
Bissan Alhussein
_ Paintings
E.W. Hung
_ Photography
Papa Osmubal
_ Drawings
Linda Pakkas
_ Drawings
Anastasiya Tarasenko
_ Paintings
Filip Wierzbicki
_ Paintings and Digital Photography
Nancy Xu
_ Paintings and Drawings

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...gone tomorrow
By jp Rodriguez


The fall winds muscle through the branches of the birch and pines, tantalizing the leaves with promises of freedom in return for the release of a grasp, a leap of faith. The most easily convinced zip madly along on the swirling currents, eyes on the sky and ignoring the fate that awaits them below. Others are hesitant, beguiled but suspicious, clinging. A few, green still and brazenly contented, stubbornly refuse to believe that anywhere could be better than home.

Though the honest cold is late this year, the winds work their way in and May’s grateful for the seclusion they afford. As she presses on through the trees, alone along the path edging the creek, she swims lazily in a flood of nostalgia and a delicious sense of restoration. This is a homecoming, but there’s a resonance to her affection that the banal phrase cannot convey.

It’s been four years—four years since she left this serenely complacent town pinched between a seemingly endless sea of trees and the head of Lake Superior; four years since she traded nature, tranquility, and horizon for the seething city with its vertical cement and sideways sunset and rise; four years since she broke away seeking something better; four years since she felt in place.

As the living land she was shaped by pervades her thoughts, she feels herself wholly consumed, indistinct, a collection of bonded particles inseparable from the surrounding life. She blinks away the sting in her eyes, perceiving for the first time the passion of those who kill and die for their soil. Despite trying, never has she been able to see more than a hazy trace of this emotion that lays so many in premature graves, but here it is in her head: bright, shining, and as clear as a window with no pane. Accompanying the insight is a stab of anger, but she’s thankful to taste some of the wisdom promised with age.

Rounding a corner, she sees a ways up the path a figure, a man. Tall and thin, slow and determinedly he walks, as though dragging along something heavy. Jerky, defined by inertia and rigidity, stiff and rusted, he’s wrought iron come to life. Only just. A khaki jacket hangs from his coat hanger shoulders and his black slacks long to break free of his frame to dance with the promiscuous winds. Rather than support him, the cane he pokes along stabs him in the back with its lamentation of irrevocably lost vigor and ability.

Out of nowhere the sun whips off its billowing blanket to suffuse the scene with such loving radiance that for a moment, the beauty stuns May—the immanent beauty of existence. It stops her still in her mental step, sealing away all awareness of other-than-now. As the man’s legs buckle beneath him and he crumples to the asphalt like scaffolding, she refuses to believe that such a thing could happen at such a moment, like bird-droppings landing on Mona Lisa’s lip. And then the sun, as though sensing its own complicity, hides itself once again deep within its covers, pretending to be asleep.

She runs to the man, afraid of what she won’t find. He’s on his side. The cane is clutched still in his veiny hand and strands of silver hair leak from a bloodless wound. His eyes are closed. His jaw’s clenched. She kneels down by his side.

“Sir! Are you all right? Hey! Wake up! Come on, wake up!” She hesitates, then puts her hand on his shoulder and gives it a tug. He feels empty. She feels a heartbeat, but it’s her own beating double-time, working for the both of them. “Sir. Sir! Wake up! Come on, wake up damn it!” She’s shaking him more urgently. Suddenly she pulls away, fearing she might break him. Or desecrate him.

“It’s okay. (deep breath) I’m all right.” The feeble voice emanates from him as though the trees are ventriloquists and he their dummy. “Please, (deep breath) just let me lie here a moment. (deep breath) Won’t be...” His voice is hollow and airy, scratched and chipped. Vocal chords scored by a million haughty howls of delight and groans of disappointment labor on with their moldings of the air.

His unstirring figure commands space like a still life, and May wonders that the sturdy wind can’t live up to its task of hurrying along to the lee of stones all spent forms. The looser sections of his clothing flutter like flags of surrender flapping on misshapen poles. She waits for him to say something more, but he holds his words close to his chest. She thinks of calling an ambulance and is disturbed by the thought—the stern intrusion of reality it ushers in.

But still, “I think maybe I should phone an—”

“No, I’m okay.” His eyes open and she wonders what scenes they’ve judged. “Maybe you can, (deep breath) just...” He tries to gather up his iron limbs and May gets behind him and under his shoulders to help him sit up. He grimaces in pain and groans. She wonders how many times in his life he’s made such a sound. She panics at the thought that perhaps he never has.

“On second, (deep breath) thought, (deep breath) (deep breath) maybe I’ll stay here just a, (deep breath) just a touch longer. (deep breath) If it’s all the same...” He eases back, and May finds herself with a near-death old man propped up in her lap. Just like that.

And then, like an actor scripted to step on stage, a woman appears.

(Turn the page)