Inklings Fall 2019




Delaney Heisterkamp

Anna Skudlarek

Emma Wunderlich

Arman Aboutorabi

Meg Matthias

Rhonda Krehbiel

Chi Nguyen

Casey Bergman

Elizabeth Brueggeman

Jared Bruett

Nick Felaris

Lila Willis

Editor in Chief

Business Manager

Writing Director

Art Director

PR Astronaut

Editorial Assistant

Editorial Staff

Editorial Staff

Editorial Staff

Editorial Staff

Editorial Staff

Editorial Staff

Dear reader,

Hello! You’ve stumbled upon an

Inklings in its wild habitat. Don’t

worry, you’re allowed to keep this one

at no additional cost but the cupped

space between your own hands.

These pages are yours to share or

shred or cling to. We’re honored that

you’ve tipped your senses our way.

Inklings has always been a purveyor

of the weird and eclectic, and this

issue is no exception. Enquire

within for tactile surrealism, strange

portraiture, gentle bovine friends,

and unnerving encounters. Summer

as ghostly. Apple snacking as slow

horror. There has been many a

rumor floating around the acornriddled

streets as to whether or not

volume 23 issue 1 is the Inklings

teeth issue—a delightful conspiracy,

dear reader, that I can only further

mythologize. There’s no denying

that 2019 has warranted, even

necessitated, our fangs and claws—

grinning and grimaced, bared and

braced. It has been a feral sort of

year, but also a radically tender one.

My humblest and most heartclose

thanks to all who submitted

their work to us—your continued

vulnerability and creativity are the

pulse of our magazine’s inky heart. I

hope these arts and writings unmoor

and enthrall, as they have done for

me. To all you toothed animals out

there—this one’s for you.


Delaney Heisterkamp

Editor in Chief

these pieces were chosen by an

editorial staff of trained undergraduates.

the staff discusses submissions

without knowing their creators, shares

interpretations and critiques, then

votes on each piece. our organization

prioritizes formal excellence, innovative

methods, and unique perspectives.

send submissions to

Alexander Benedict





I have problems communicating


a honeybee

Elizabeth Brueggemann




Lay Up

Jared Bruett


there will be something worth our

anxieties tomorrow

Annie Eyre




Viengsamai Fetters




How to Be Fluent in English


on the fragrance of szechuan


Delaney Heisterkamp


en rapt


angels test run the cosmic broxodent




what i tuck under the pillowcase of the

one i love while they boil pasta in the

other room; or, prayer for gloaming

Meg Matthias


Over the summer you forget you

have a body


sleep socks for october



Meg Matthias

Theo Mesnick



Reflection and Contemplation on

"Love Letters from one Sixteenth

Century Nun to Another (Fragments)"

and Modern Reinterpretation

where wheels crunch over tracks, a

watcher with a wet face

Erin Adelman

Romie Crist





Triptych: Words Painted

Let them eat cake

Orange you glad

Milk man

Lauren Miles


and the night recedes

Lily Ellison


Study 4

Tobias Paul



charm for when hell is not quite

big enough

reappropriation of a love poem

for jon

Viengsamai Fetters

Libby Fisher




little bone blue


Roman Rings Study

Shelby Rice


april's showers, may's flowers


Nocturne I: Summer




Nocturne I: Winter

Morgan Schneider

Emma Wunderlich



Movie Review: August — The Horror

Event of the Summer!


Bryce Forren



In Between

All This Talk About Ghosts, I Don't

See A Thing

Hannah Martin


Stripped to the Bone


Girl with a Star Earring

Lauren Miles


eve's grapes

Alex Morse



Chi Nguyen


It was sunny in Portland


Converse, an anatomy


Andrew Roger


Garden of Eden

Aspen Stein



Emma Wiersma


Self-Portrait after Mucha's "Amber"


view of a factory

Lila Willis




In the Moring




mind, body, etc.

Jae Willis


Sunday Slump


Lydia Wooten


That Yellow Lady Person


Alexander Benedict

Inklings Arts & Letters

albeit profess (stuffed up

holstery) or Puri in the con

text of a midsummer per se

carnival, has um mentioned

the sun seemingly floating as a yell

ow latex balloon that is to say, but

in a modern climate she would (sipping

stale water) morethanlikely retract

her statement and upon fur

ther recon (fumbling glasses)

sideration propose to describe

it as a split-leather basketball

Fall 2019

16 17

I have problems communicating

Alexander Benedict

a honeybee

Alexander Benedict

Inklings Arts & Letters

I have problems communicating with people

and birds and statues. They just stare at me

with silver eyes, picking apart my bejeweled jeans.

I don’t have any nickels or dimes, and I don’t think

they would make great nesting material, sir. Maybe

if I just stare down into my handheld this woodpecker

will stop drilling into the grooves of my spinal column.

I need to rip out this tongue wrapped around my skull

and just ask how is your day mechanical man,

n’ how much for you to peel off your skin, huh?

hovering over daffodils

scrapes edgeless legs

in pollen overspreading

laughter hovering edgeless

scrapes over daffodils

spreading honey over

pollen laugher hovers

inbetween daffodil legs

laughter scraping

Fall 2019

18 19


Elizabeth Brueggemann

Lay Up

Elizabeth Brueggemann

Lefty Keep it short.

dBump dBump dBump I

Mossy-Mouthed Bossy-Pants dropped

dead on a feather mattress

Yesterday And rode the thing away, Hit that

time machine kickback Left me

palmed a | skeptic thought |

had eyed from the junk food


Dad’s tobacco


sagging in his pocket

Inklings Arts & Letters

Whiplashed worse than a scapegoat and

Broken up about the Head

Ache she must have got



Leave it Only

dBump dBump dBump.

YellowYellowYellow My

elbows at the gas pump

compass angry East and West;

Chew bite-size


in mouthfuls of Quiet;


Fall 2019


It’ll kill him it’ll--

Jersey Sagging Walk-in

Throws them in the trash bin.

Goosebump rubber ball


dribble dribble dribble.

On the letgo Lets go

of Flesh away:


20 21

there will be something worth our

anxieties tomorrow

Jared Bruett


content warning: self-harm, blood, gore

Annie Eyre

Inklings Arts & Letters

flick flick flick flick flick flick flick flick flick

flick flick flick flick flick flick flick tick flick

swoosh swoosh flick flick swoosh flick flick flick tick flick tick tick swoosh flick tick

creak tick flick flick squeak tick flick

squeak dink tick flick flick flick flick flick

flick flick flick flick eek squeak tick flick flick squeak squeak

shhhhhhh shhh shh flick shhh shh squeak

flick flick flick tick flick flick flick

flick flick squeak flick flick squeak squeak

flick flick flick squeak squeak thunk flick flick flick tick

flick flick flick tick flick swoosh swoosh flick

creak squeak creak flick flick swoosh tick squeak

creak creak squeak scoosh thump whap flick

I told her that the day had been too hot, and our kitchen too warm,

and that’s why the knife slipped when I was chopping the apple and

the blade dipped into my skin and the top of my finger popped off,

cleanly, and rolled onto the floor. When David came into the kitchen,

his breath hot and quick, he told her that what he found crazy was that I

hadn’t made any noise at all. I just stared at the form of my left pointer

finger—no longer a finger—that was so wet and red and slick that he

said it was crazy that I was staring at it so quietly.

“No, not crazy,” he amended, looking at me. “It was brave.”

He said all this to the doctor, emphatically rubbing my right hand, my

normal hand.

I was quiet again. I kept looking at my left hand and the giant puffy

cloud that had taken the place of my pointer finger. I knew it was gauze,

and the two remaining thirds of my finger were still under there, but

still I wanted to think of it as a cloud with nothing underneath. In my

mind, at least, there was nothing solid under there. There was nothing

numb, bloody, incomplete.

The doctor turned to David and asked him to leave the room for a

moment because she had some questions she needed to ask me, alone.

Fall 2019

flick flick tick

“Of course,” he nodded and rubbed my pinkie finger and left the room.

Before he shut the door, I could tell he wanted to give me a reassuring

look, but I had to stare at the ground, instead, so my heart wouldn’t pour

out into the cloud on my hand, seeping everything onto the hospital bed.





“Carrie,” the doctor said once the door had clicked shut, “We have to

ask, in cases like this, if there’s anything you need us to know. You said

your hand was warm from the heat of your apartment, and it slipped on

the knife because it was sweaty. I’m just having a hard time believing

22 23

that, because the knife cut all the way through your finger. That’s a lot

of force to come from a slip.”

“Well, I was chopping the apple pretty hard,” I looked at her glasses as I

spoke. There was a smudge on the corner of one of the lenses, and I imagined

myself wiping it off and leaving the glass clean. “It just popped off.”

After a moment, she nodded. “Okay. So there’s nothing you need to tell

me about your relationship with your husband?”

“So I guess you don’t want to go to Jamie and Eric’s tomorrow?” David

asked as he squeezed some ketchup on a fry. He was chewing with his

mouth slightly ajar, as he did absentmindedly, when I didn’t feel like

crafting the right words to make him stop.

“No, no, I still want to go,” I lied. Jamie and Eric had moved in together

a few months ago—the same time that David and I did—but they were

engaged, and we were not, and Jamie, especially, liked to make that


Inklings Arts & Letters

“David’s not my husband,” I said so quickly that it felt like the words

had been simmering inside my throat, waiting to be released. After a

moment, when I realized why she asked, I almost laughed. “He’s my

boyfriend, and we live together but… Oh, no, David did not try to

chop off my finger. He’s…” I pressed my thumb to my pinkie finger,

instinctively, thinking of his gentle touch. “David can’t even hurt bugs.

Whenever there’s a cockroach in our apartment, he feels like he has to

let it outside,” I smiled. “It’s kind of annoying.”

She stared at me for a moment more, then seemed to decide I was

telling the truth. “And you didn’t do this… on purpose? You weren’t

trying to hurt yourself?”

“No. My hand slipped. It was really hot in our apartment.”

She adjusted her glasses, and I noticed that the lens was smudged from

where she placed her fingers on the frame.

As she gave me further instructions for how to care for my handicapped

hand, I imagined her fingers as clouds, sprinkling her clipboard with a

dusting of snow.

Through his reflection on the windshield, I could see that David was

nodding. But I could also see that he was still chewing his French fries

with a loose jaw, and I couldn’t bring myself to look at him straight on

while he did that.

When he reached for another, his hand brushed my elbow, and I felt

a heat lurch inside me and reach my lungs. I suddenly felt all of the

hours we had spent together rise to a boil in my throat. It was hot and

mean and bubbling, and I tried to picture the cloud on my finger, but

all I could think about was the cruel, bloody stub that skulked beneath

the gauze.

“I need to go to the bathroom,” I said, tumbling out of the car door. “I’ll

be right back.”

Once in the McDonald’s bathroom, locked in my own stall, I allowed

myself to sit on the cool seat and counted to ten, then to twenty. I

reminded myself of David’s kind brown eyes, his soft caresses on my

pinkie finger, the way he sat with me in the ambulance and told me how

brave I was. How brave how brave how brave how brave—someone

turned on the sink, and I remembered where I was.

Fall 2019

When I was discharged from the hospital a few hours later, David

wanted to know if I was hungry.

We went to McDonalds and ate our chicken sandwiches and fries in his

parked car, and I thought about how the longest I had been without him

all day was when the doctor told him to leave the room. I had expected

him to leave the hospital at some point during the surgery or while I

was filling out all the discharge paperwork, but he hadn’t. My right

hand was practically raw from his worried rubbing.

That morning, when I had been chopping the apple, the heat was so

oppressive that I couldn’t bring myself to make coffee. The air in our

apartment was heavy and still—I felt like I was choking on my own

lungs. An apple, I imagined, would be crisp enough to cut through the

heat, and since David was still asleep, I thought that I would eat it in

front of the old fan we had in our living room. I would point the blades

right at my body, and I would soak in the artificial breeze while I ate

my apple slices.

24 25

And then I had heard him rustling in our room, and my image of the

morning was altered. Now there would be both of us in front of the fan,

and his hot arm would be touching my hot arm, and he would be eating

the apple slices with me, and his jaw would be moving next to my ear.

“I was standing up, David. I couldn’t be dead.”

He turned the car onto the main road. “Still,” he said, “You looked like

a ghost.”

Inklings Arts & Letters

Every way I pictured it was unbearable. Every morning we ate breakfast

together, and every morning I had to confront his jaw, and some

mornings I had to rub my own pinkie finger to remind myself that I

loved him. I lived with him and his gentle eyes, and just because our

relationship existed in an enclosed space now, it did not mean that it

was worse. I reminded myself to count to ten as I pressed the knife into

the apple’s skin and cut another slice. I heard David hum to himself in

our bedroom, and I counted one two three four five…

The night air was cooler than it had been in the morning, and when

I looked up above me in the McDonald’s parking lot, the moon was

a beetle, suspended in the blackness that stretched all around. A soft

wind rustled through my hair and caressed my ears, and I breathed

in the freshness as I opened the car door. The boiling stovetop in my

throat had become the surface of a cool, flat lake.

Seeing David in the driver’s seat, I noticed for the first time that only

half of his face was shaved. A thin layer of brown bristles covered one

side of his jaw, and when I pointed it out he gave me a tight smile.

“I was shaving when I heard the knife fall,” he admitted as he put the car

in reverse. “For a moment I thought it didn’t matter, that you just dropped

something. But then, I don’t know, I guess I wanted to check, just make

sure you were okay, and then when I saw you… I mean,” he tried to

make his voice light, “I thought about finishing before I called 911, but

then I decided your life mattered a little more than an even shave.”

“I don’t think I would’ve died from losing the tip of my finger,” I laughed.

“Honestly, when I saw you standing there,” he pressed the brakes and

looked at me, and his gaze was so raw that I wanted to look away.

“Your hand just looked like blood, Carrie. And you were so white and

so quiet that I thought for a moment that you were already dead.” His

voice cracked a bit on the last word, and I stared down at the cloud on

my hand, feeling the dull pump of the vessels underneath it.

“You could’ve gone back and finished shaving when I was at the hospital,”

I heard myself saying, “You didn’t have to stay the whole time.”

“I would never leave you alone in the hospital,” he said, and his voice

was so earnest that maybe I really was a ghost. My words were passing

right through him. He didn’t know that I wanted to be alone in that

hospital, just for a moment, so it could just be me and my cloud and I

could breathe.

For the rest of the ride home, I counted the street lamps. I looked at

their dead, yellow glow, and I wondered if I would have come running

into the kitchen if I heard a knife clatter.

That night, I dreamed that my hand was stroking David’s unshaved

face. A thousand brown needles were prickling my fingers, and blood

began to blossom from each of the holes. One by one, a million little

red beads, covering my hands and eventually my body; I was drowning

in a sea of myself.

I woke up sweating; the cloud was throbbing and red. When I let out

a sob, David woke up and helped me replace the gauze like the doctor

had shown us. He rifled through my purse and opened the bottle of

painkillers and counted out two of the small white tablets and got me a

glass of water from the sink. It was lukewarm, and when it touched my

tongue it felt like steam.

David rubbed my pinkie as I tried to find sleep. He told me he loved

me and his voice was like a hot syrup coating my body and covering

me in my shame.

I thought: I’m a beetle.

I thought: I can’t stand this.

I thought: One two three four five…

Fall 2019

26 27

Inklings Arts & Letters

David’s humming had floated through the doorway and into the

kitchen, and I had tried to start my counting over again. But the heat of

the apartment made his voice sticky, and I felt it seep into my ears and

clot the sound of the knife hitting the cutting board as I made another

slice in the apple.

The weekend was usually the only time I had the mornings to myself,

when David slept in and I could peel away from the bed and eat in

front of the fan and exist in the calmness of my own uninterrupted

body. During the week, we woke at the same time for our jobs. We both

worked in HR, but in different companies, in buildings ten minutes

apart from each other. We rode in the car together, and he dropped

me off and picked me up, and the space that our separate jobs gave us

reminded me of when we first met, in college, and we’d lay together on

the lawn between our classes and every breath of air around him was

like something crisp and new.

Moving in together after we graduated felt like something that would

bring crispness and newness to every day. I imagined falling asleep and

waking up each morning to his brown eyes. I imagined him caressing

my pinkie every day while we ate every meal and took every shower

together. I imagined the romance of two bodies fusing into one, of two

lives becoming one set of lungs, breathing in the days together.

But when it was the weekend, and we ate together and slept together

and were together every moment, I instead searched for the parts of

him that I wanted to rip my skin away from. His loose jaw, his cheerful

hums, his hot touch on a hot day.

One two three four…

The apple didn’t sound crisp and sweet anymore. It sounded like

something else in my life that I would have to rip into two pieces;

something that I would hate so much that I would press it down into

my body and boil it and boil it and never let it out. I felt like if I put

an apple slice inside me, there wouldn’t be room for it. My entire self

would overflow and every crack in my body would seep with meanness

and ugliness and red, hot blood.

Suddenly the knife was above my pointer finger, right on the joint

below my fingernail. I heard David’s hums as he turned on the sink. I

heard his hums and my throat was boiling and I pressed the knife down

hard, so that the hot world would stop and I could step out of it.


In the morning, I told David that I was still feeling up to seeing Jamie

and Eric. I put more white pills in my body, and David and I walked

through a sidewalk of heat to Jamie and Eric’s apartment. He was

trying to hold my normal hand, but I told him it was too warm and our

skin was sizzling. I told him we’d be humans with puddles for hands

by the time we made it to their place.

But Jamie and Eric’s apartment had an air conditioner that worked,

and when Jamie offered me a cup of coffee, I was able to say yes. The

caffeine soared through my veins, and I wondered if maybe that was all

I was missing. Maybe if I had made a cup of coffee the morning before,

I wouldn’t have given myself a hand that would look wrong forever.

“I just can’t believe it was so hot in your apartment that your hand

slipped on a knife,” Jamie was saying as she poured more coffee into

David’s cup.

“I’m just glad she’s okay,” David said quickly, because he knew I hated

it when Jamie made comments about our apartment. He reached over

and rubbed my pinkie and his touch felt like it should, like a warm

blanket on a cold night.

“So is your finger always going to be missing its tip?” Eric asked.

I nodded, and I could tell they wanted me to seem more upset about my

pointer finger’s fate. But I didn’t care about my finger. I cared about

clouds, and about my throat, and about living with someone I loved and

still having something inside of me that could become so angry that it

would do anything it could to escape, to take off the lid of a boiling pot

and let my insides rise out of me like steam, finally, finally released.

“Well, at least it’s not your ring finger,” Jamie smiled at David, and I

felt the white pills inside of me, making my body noiseless and numb.

“Did you keep the tip of your finger?” Eric was stuck on this idea of my

incompleteness. “Couldn’t they just stitch it back on?”

“We thought so, too,” David said, “but I must have stepped on it when

I came into the kitchen or something. It was too dirty and misshapen

Fall 2019

28 29

when the EMTs came in; they said it was too mangled to put it back.”

He seemed so ashamed by this admission, like maybe a part of him

understood why my hand had moved the knife above my finger, why

the sound of his voice sent the blade plunging down.

What I didn’t say was that when it happened, and the tip of my finger

rolled onto the floor, and the knife clattered after it, I saw the solid, pink

piece of flesh on our kitchen tile. I thought about how what I had just

done could be fixed, and it was almost like it hadn’t happened at all.

And then, when David came in and saw the ghost of my body standing

with only red for a hand, what he didn’t see was that I pressed my foot

on top of that piece of myself, and I crushed it. Beneath the strong ball

of my heel, it dissolved like a dead bug.


Viengsamai Fetters

in most cases, the roles of

princesses jasmine




can be triple-cast.

Inklings Arts & Letters

Fall 2019

30 31

How to Be Fluent in English:

Viengsamai Fetters

on the fragrance of szechuan


Viengsamai Fetters

Don’t: have an accent. 1

Do: have degrees from the United States. 5

Inklings Arts & Letters

Don’t: pronounce anything wrong. 2

Don’t: be intimidated by fast talkers. 3

Don’t: speak another language at home. 4

Do: have impeccable syntax. 6

Do: know every word anyone could use. 7

Do: be ashamed of where you come from. 8

sharpforgotten / uncertainbright

tip of the


clean - defiant || fresh - ready







precipice —

Fall 2019


Unless you look white.

Then you can be the token international friend.


Unless you look white.

Then no one will question you or your “legality.”


Unless you look white.

Then your mistakes are endearing.


Unless you look white.

Then your slip-ups are charming.


Unless you look white.

Then people might slow down for you.


Unless you look white.

Then you don’t have to be a walking dictionary.


Unless you look white.

Then you’re just keeping your culture alive.


Unless you look white.

Then it’s okay to be proud of your histories.

32 33

en rapt

Delaney Heisterkamp

angels test run the cosmic broxodent

Delaney Heisterkamp

Inklings Arts & Letters

peeling panels of sunlight from fences facing west

underhoneysuckle, nails dug deep in whorls of wood

agape, mouthfuls spooned in excelsis

cry out oh god & let the flesh of it

sluice over skin

pulpy as a summer tongue

oh god why have you

ochre-soaked after

image in excised dusk

leave lungs glowing like coals

going like loss

we pray accordionstrange

measure seven times cut once

q: hi dental dorks dot com

do my teeth dream

of falling out ?

others have strayed from the path

& will be punished

sure ur pretty but i’ve got the

superior plaque removal

st. michael the archangel

screams in tongues & sonic actions

we’ll give u a dollar 2

keep ur girlgod teeth


Fall 2019


taking a poll did u find

anathema in urs too lmao


our mouths have never felt so clean

swallow godslice

potent gum passion leading

gingival index improvement

a: thank u for ur thoughtful q!

believe those who seek 2 find

the truth ;

doubt those who do

34 35

Inklings Arts & Letters


Delaney Heisterkamp

today i am iPotential

i contain

contracts ! application ! sales !

& detritus of so many

colleague humble

brags on facebook

live landlocked

so stick to web surfing

douse burn out in deleted emails

collecting i as data, as future

mouth open

we overflow basement lecture

like flood like flotsam

some event committee didn't speculate

sea artifice, see: gentrification

futures flickerblue onscreen

re: claiming walls & squeezing

what i tuck under the pillowcase of

the one i love while they boil pasta

in the other room; or, prayer for


Delaney Heisterkamp

u taste like afternoon

nap gainst silk under sun

light tripping on wrinkles-in-carpet


mouthful of enough

seconds to share

Fall 2019

wash my plastic but throw away straws

stir fry shrimp market value

higher than human life

ocean as weathersite click

bait & body churning

count churning

resume accumulation

attend career workshops & grind

my teeth. they tell me

make urself capacious

36 37

Sometime Over The Summer You

Forget You Have A Body

Meg Matthias

sleep socks for october

Meg Matthias

Inklings Arts & Letters

sometime over the summer you forget you have a body eat dominos & it goes

from box to nowhere you can’t listen you absorb you feel-but-not-physically

you “feel” like the woman on HuffPost who has “had sex with at least twenty

ghosts” she says “orgasms with spirit lovers are better than with physical men”

as a spirit you leave no stray hairs on the pillow no melty mascara stains

as a spirit you are all feeling all numb all orgasm all rush a night meditation

tells you to take stock of your body & you’d laugh if you had a mouth

there is no twinge in your stomach anymore

keep dreaming cold, shiver

lone under covers. order uber

pool manic, sock-footed soft

moss underfoot forgotten


i am night-terror itchy

rate five stars for pleasant

conversation, minus one

for staticky sleater-kinney,

stereo turned all the way up.

Fall 2019

38 39

Reflection and Contemplation on

"Love Letters from one Sixteenth

Century Nun to Another (Fragments)"

and Modern Reinterpretation

Meg Matthias

where wheels crunch over train

tracks, a watcher with a wet face

Theo Mesnick

Inklings Arts & Letters

Both pieces are also found in your textbook, along with discussion pages (331-334).

In small groups: In what ways does the contemporary interruption (right) reflect

and refute the voice of the original text (left)? What does the 16th century piece’s

invocation of gender and sexuality themes imply for the period in which it was

created, both in a broad cultural sense and regarding a more specific religious

context? Are images lost from the original that are impossible to convey in the

modern era? Imagine you were writing your own modern version of this poem.

Which ideas would you keep? Which would you cut?

(Estimated date 1515-1525)

(January, 2019)

You go down to the front porch in your sweatpants &

watch sun slice triangles on the laundromat. Scalene

Sides blue as sky, sky fades to white. Each windshield a

small sun. Your mint plant is dry so very dry, shrivel

-ed stalks like turtlenecks. So very dry: guilt grows where

herb once did. Such injustice to this poor plant. Damp

face & asphalt hands. Up where you can’t see, a bird

makes a sound like a burp.

Fall 2019

call me honey or honeycomb

hungry little bird

i adjust my habit as i wait for you

i say gentle prayers to the saints

if i could buy your life

for the price of mine i’d do it

honey, call me turtledove perched

on dried tree branch

tell me “i had a dream last night

i met virginia woolf,” tell me “i

got weirdly into tiktok lately”

i’m home for winter break january-lonely

refreshing texts like wet band-aids peeled

folded from my palm in the backroom sink

on break i read cosmo snapchat sponcon

(Seven IG Stories That’ll Intrigue Ur Crush!)

or just swipe up screen, front-facing camera

making it all about me again, baby

40 41

and the night recedes

content warning: homophobia

Lauren Miles

Inklings Arts & Letters

you only feel ‘woman’

when he dyke-s you from his truck window

when she deems you worth your skin enough

to steal it

when they crown you “glorious burden”

you only feel ‘woman’

in the cacophony of poisonous masculinity

of Nair-hair and petite feet

& wow have you lost weight?

you only feel ‘woman’

when you don’t want to

and when you do want

you feel nothing else because to want

means the same as to woman

you feel, well not woman but something close and better

when you wake to the orange sun on their face

and their sleepy hand reaching for yours

you only feel you when you stand:

a false woman

unearthed from the stone-ash

of a self you never claimed—

on all those nights you’d rather forget

Fall 2019

you feel ‘woman’ that night

walking to your car far from campus

& an open facing yell screams—something

obscured from you

& you’re glad for the unknown

growing from a fire of noiseless hate

as the forest of street lights flicker—

you sing soft the night-edge

you feel ‘woman’

at dusk

driving 55 down an empty road

your favorite song bass-ing

with the moon watching your back

and through the speeding you never felt safer

‘til the moment’s fading silence pulses

and the night recedes around you to the new dawn

of She

42 43

charm for when hell is not quite

big enough

Lauren Miles

reappropriation of a love poem

for jon

Tobias Paul

Inklings Arts & Letters

Recipe: Mix cold water with a leaf from your favorite tree & the object of

your hatred: Your first report card, your estranged relative’s queerphobic

propaganda, or your ex’s phone number all work well. Heat with a small

flame & then pour mixture onto asphalt. Kiss it goodbye, then say the

following with your innermost voice (yes, that one):

Fear not!

that I shall be the intensifier of gala mischief.

My work must be done, and I shall seek

and consume

this miserable— , that is curious and


Who would create such another as I?

I shall no longer feel the air which now consumes me

or be


look, if jon is gay, and im not saying hes not, get

me? but ifthenwhy couldn't we, he and me, see,

desk elbows bent and breezy like the covergirl

brightsea siptea scene change ! prescription for

flipfone hands site-fold and, maybe this isn't going

to work out scene change ! something shiny

betweenthigh pressed lips ask againme? afterfore

scene change ! lock windows little extra tap toes for

steel, sterlingeared sleeve and now scene change !

touch me signalthere, touch him allspunout,

sundown and wrung gold ear2ear, wake up and

dream of brush, thistle-sweet smile so scene

change ! go gentle good, go night, go into we

breathing, email untouched and tonguecoupled

meeting to sinquadrants and sigh shave and

speak piece and scene !

Fall 2019

Quench the dead who called me—no more!

Vanish the sunshine!

Open upon me,

the rustling of the leaves where can I find


44 45

Inklings Arts & Letters

april's showers, may's flowers

content warning: drug mention

Shelby Rice

I dread the dentist’s. In the outskirts of Dayton, my dentist’s office is

essentially a shack in the woods; which is to be expected for the opioid

crisis hub of America. It’s three chairs and a sink with water that runs

rusty; a communal set of tools shared between the patients in the office.

Last time I was there, the dental hygienist offered me heroin to dull

the pain of a root canal (my insurance won’t cover nitrous). My fifthgrade

DARE teacher flashed through my mind, holding up a picture of

a woman with her teeth rotted out due to drug abuse. I feel like taking

her up on it’ll cause bigger problems, like how my aunt thinks they put

something in the Kleenex to make you sneeze more.

Here, you can actually buy heroin at the grocery store. Ramona, who

restocks the produce, will hand you a three-ounce bag of the good stuff

for thirteen bucks and a pack of Camels, right there in broad daylight.

The dental hygienist told me she’d give it to me for thirty, out-ofpocket.

I told her I could get a better deal elsewhere.

I went down to the 2 nd Street Market before my appointment. There’s a

stall that makes a heavenly chicken caprese sandwich, and even though

the monotone receptionist warned me not to eat beforehand (I throw

up easy), I can’t resist. The bus taking me out to the suburbs where my

doctor’s shack lies between two fields of soybeans passes the market,

and the smell of Chef Joe’s paninis leads me off the bus as if in a trance.

cucumber salad (hipsters make some weird shit) all while gaping at the

most beautiful woman I know.

I did my budget three nights ago; money is tight. I allocated thirteen

dollars for pleasure this month and I just spent seven on the best sandwich

I’ve ever eaten (which I don’t regret in the slightest). I was planning on

buying a cheap bottle of hooch from the kind Irani gentleman around

the corner from my apartment, whose port is shockingly good for

something certainly not FDA-approved. But the spring air beckons me,

making the ends of her neatly-folded hijab flutter, the light catching

golden threads woven into the soft fabric. Her eyes gleam in the

sunlight and I’m drawn out of my seat as if in a trance.

I have four dollars and change. Maybe some flowers will brighten up

my dingy apartment.

The cart is laden with pastel petals. It’s almost Easter, these chalky

monsters are fashionable to have around now. I’m not a flower person,

but I want bright, loud, unapologetically dazzling ones, not these faintfronded

caitiffs. Fortunately, there’s a bunch of fuschia allium in the

corner, and I reach out for them.


The dark-eyed woman across from me pulls her hands out of the

planters and moves in for a hug. “How are you doing? I can’t believe

I’m seeing you, how long has it been?”

Three months, fourteen days, and… I glance at the battered watch on

my wrist. ...a little over eighteen hours.

“A while, I guess. Probably since New Year’s.”

Fall 2019

Dayton isn’t all drug deals and shady root canals. As I sit munching

on focaccia, mozzarella and pesto, the sun breaks through the dusty

windows and I see her. Black apron and cheery smile, you can tell just

by looking she’s the kind of person who’s never had a cavity in her

entire life. She works at the flower stall (ironically the best-grossing

business this side of the Great Miami; the folks moving into the newly

gentrified Oregon District like having fresh flowers on any surface that

won’t bow under a vase). I look down and I’ve finished my chicken

sandwich, and I’ve absentmindedly shoveled down my dill-chickpea-

“I can’t believe I’m seeing you today! You’re going to supper tonight, right?”

I wasn’t planning on it. “Yeah, definitely.”

“Craig said your Gran was going to give him the ring for me.”

I look down at her finger. I’d been pointedly avoiding the plastic

placeholder ring on her left hand, deposited there by my cousin Craig

a little less than a week ago. The rain has started, as is typical for my

namesake month, pattering loudly on the market’s metal roof. Circus

46 47

music starts to play in my head.

“That’s really nice, May.”

I’m now wondering why I thought this was a good idea. The port would

be a much better investment; coming to Gran’s house drunk would deal

with both the tooth pain and seeing Craig’s ring on May’s dainty, dirtstained


family. It was on the banks of the Great Miami, at the Celtic festival;

Craig was blasted and May was on her third plastic cup of Guinness, so

I let them both stay at my apartment so neither would drive home drunk.

They left the next morning to get brunch and seemed inseparable since.

Her soft eyes begged me to come, and the rain seemed to grow

exponentially louder. I look down at the allium, the out-of-fashion

flowers left to wilt in the corner of May’s flower stand.

Inklings Arts & Letters

“So you’re interested in the allium? Not really a pastel Easter flower,

but you’ve never been traditional, April,” May quipped, moving toward

the register.

I shifted uncomfortably. “Actually, I just came over to say hello.

Flowers aren’t really in the budget this month; I have to go to the,

uh...” I can’t find words around her. My tongue is stuck to the roof of

my mouth with a thick paste of my own saliva. “...the, er, tooth doctor.”

I find myself wondering if I should go to Ramona and ask for four

dollars’ worth of heroin. It causes memory loss, right? I’d really love to

forget that ever happened, or that May is engaged to my cousin.

May laughed kindly as she leaned in close, and the world suddenly

seemed in sharper focus. The perfumy flowers mix with her vanilla

scent and I think I could stand here until the sun goes out. “Tell you

what, I’ll let these ones slide. They aren’t really the ones folks are

looking for, and I’d rather you have them than let them wilt here at the

stand. I’ll see you tonight, right? We’re announcing our engagement,”

May added with a diamond-bright smile. It makes me woozy; maybe I

don’t need the nitrous anyways.

“If the dentist doesn’t kill me, I’ll do my best,” I say, trying to back out

of my earlier commitment. Craig already announced their engagement

to me, calling me whooping on the phone that May Al-Najjar was going

to be his wife. I really don’t want to go through that again, especially

not around twelve to sixteen of my closest relations.

Her warm, dark eyes plead at me, dirt-smeared hands clasped in front

of her as if praying. “April, you introduced us. It wouldn’t be the same

without you.”

She doesn’t need to remind me that I introduced them. It’s as clear

in my memory as my grandmother’s crystal, which I’ll probably get

stuck washing tonight as everyone celebrates the newest addition to our

“Yeah, I’ll be there.”

She beamed, gripping my arms tight enough they’ll leave bruises.

I almost hope they will. I want there to be something other than the

dirt smudges from her hands of her left on me. “The allium is my

engagement gift to you,” she laughed, turning back to the potted plants

beside the cart. She delicately adjusted a vining tomato plant so it crept

better up the cage. “Good luck at the dentist’s. Don’t let them sneak

you any opium. We don’t need another Daytonian slipping into the

river; Craig and I will try to kayak in it tomorrow.”

If my grip could suffocate the allium, I’m sure it would. May seems

finished with me; she’s moved on to another customer, this one with

a wide-brimmed hat and high boots investigating a bunch of pastel

peonies. I salvage what’s left of my dignity, turn on my heels and leave

the market as fast as I possibly can.

The rain outside is insatiable—curtains of dew hammering down on

me. The allium won’t be intact before the bus comes; its vibrant petals

are peeled away one by one. She loves me not, she loves me not, she

loves me not.

The DRTA sputters up, peeling green paint promising relief from the

downpour. I look at the allium clutched in my hands through soaking

wet bangs, and see only three petals clinging to the stem of May’s

leftovers, the flowers she didn’t need. The rain is soaking me to the

bone, and though the bus doors are open, I feel rooted in place, as

though the flower has become one with me, growing down through the

cracks in the hard concrete.

The bus pulls away, leaving me standing in the rain, transfixed by what

remains of May’s flowers.

Fall 2019

48 49


Shelby Rice

Anthony’s freshly-shone shoe pounded predictably against the wooden

pew in front of us. He’s young and tired, and a pneumonia outbreak

cancelled Sunday school. He’s far too young to glean anything from the

homily (I think this as though I am). So today, the thump-thump-thump

of old leather on cracked pine accompanied the priest’s monotone


dressed in a polyester pantsuit glared sideways at me, as if to say, “You

dare cough in a house of God?” I glared right back; she turned away.

We reached the front of the queue, and Father Allgeier knelt down

to smile at me. “Hello, Marguerite,” the words parting his cracked,

chapped lips, parting to show a row of age-yellowed teeth. “We’re

looking for a new pianist. Maybe it’s time for you to join us at the

altar?” His breath stank of stale grapes, and I remembered my older

brother whispering that he’d seen the Father drinking the communion

wine once while attending to altar cleanup.

“Father, how do we know that woman was made of man?”

His smile froze. Pa’s sigh echoed loudly behind me.

Inklings Arts & Letters

Father Allgeier’s message about the creation of man engages only the

most pious. My father sits bolt-upright, hands clasped over the missal,

eyes glazed over. He’s thinking about Ma. She’s sitting on the other end

of the pew, eyes clamped shut, arms clutching her swollen stomach—I

have another brother on the way. She looks sick. I can’t blame her.

The three hundred people packed into the too-small nave make the

air uncomfortably sticky, and the kneeler can’t be comfortable on her

pregnancy-swollen knees.

I’m not listening to the homily, either. My mind is stuck on today’s

scripture: how Eve was crafted from Adam’s rib. I look over at my

mother. She’s pushed four humans out of her, and she’ll do it again in

February. I’ve never once seen her cry. She’s strong. On the other hand,

my eldest brother cried for three hours when I accidentally hit him with

my lacrosse stick. It barely bruised his forearm. Imagine if I’d taken a

rib out of him. It made no sense.

Father Allgeier stood at the door as the church began to empty. My

father herded his flock toward the door to be blessed. On the way, I

dipped my fingers into the holy water to cross myself. Forehead-chestshoulder-shoulder—my

hand hit the midpoint of my ribs on the way

down, and I frowned. It doesn’t add up.

“Well, the scripture says so, little one,” the priest said, his impatience

poorly disguised.

Pa’s look told me to drop the subject and accept my blessing, but I

pushed forward. “Look at Ma. She’s carrying a kid. It’s going to be

another boy.”

“Marguerite!” my mother hissed behind me, stark white. I can’t tell if

it’s from embarrassment or from being stuck in the stuffy, perfumed

vestibule. The infant calls the shots these days; smells like this make

her sick.

“Yes, man cometh of woman,” Father Allgeier answered, smile


“So, wouldn’t it make sense for Adam to be made of Eve’s ribs?”

The aging priest stood up, the cracking of his knees deafening in the

echoic room. “Marguerite, who is your patron saint?”

I frowned, thinking back to my confirmation. The sickening scent of

incense mixing with the pounding headache that I had that Sunday

made the memory a blur. “Er, Saint Therese of Lisieux?”

Fall 2019

Pa pushed me forward into the cloud of lingering incense. The smog

clogged my lungs; I coughed loudly, my ribs rattling. An elderly lady

The edge of his lips had cracked from the strain of smiling at a curious

fourteen-year-old girl, and little beads of blood trickled out of the tear

50 51

in his skin. I wrinkled my nose.

“What a lovely choice. Do you remember her story?”

From what I recalled, she was a whiny, bad-tempered girl until the very

end of her life. I’d only chosen her because she was my grandmother’s

patron saint. Father Allgeier continued. “St. Therese’s faith trumped

all. Be more like her, Marguerite Therese. Take it on faith.”

Movie Review: August—The

Horror Event of the Summer!

Morgan Schneider

Inklings Arts & Letters

Pa thanked him hurriedly, ushering us out the door.

Take it on faith. I frowned, feeling under my Sunday coat to where my

ribs jut out. It didn’t make sense. I reached out and jabbed Anthony in

the chest, feeling his ribs beneath his sweater. “Hey!” he said, scowling.

“What was that for?” I shrugged.

“You deserve it for making such a ruckus during the homily,” my older

brother chimed in. “I heard you kicking the pew all the way up by the


Woman cometh of man, but man cometh of woman. It reminded me of

the unsolvable riddles my friends told at the lunch table—which came

first, the chicken or the egg? This one didn’t seem so hard, though. I

remember when Anthony was born. I’ll remember again when this new

one shows up. But I was no rib. I was a human girl. It stood to reason

that Eve wasn’t either.

Troubled, I held Anthony’s hand as we crossed the parking lot. The

wind ate away at my stocking-clad legs, wind spitting needles across

my frozen skin. Anthony began to cry because our car was so far away.

My mother wound her scarf around his neck, exposing her own to the

frigid air.

shot 1: the last entrails of the season sliding down your throat; shot 2:

a pair of lungs slowly suffocating from the humidity; shot 3: the

grief on third-grader faces when they realize It starts tomorrow;

shot 4: the despair of the pair of teenagers who fell asleep at the

pool and must now, cruelly, peel their skin away if they wish to

ever feel better (but it hurts, Mom, it itches); shot 5: a group of

friends tearfully saying goodbye the night before they all leave

for college, and the uncertain—unsettling—uneasy possibility that

they’ll never see each other again; shot 6: the nausea in the stomach

of a new student on her first day at school; shot 7: fade in on the

CLOSED FOR THE SEASON sign at the local pool, always hung

a day too early; shot 8: they finally bury the boys who kept fooling

around with the leftover fireworks; shot 9: fire season and hurricane

season still have a few months left & the country holds its breath

waiting for the next national tragedy; shot 10: thalassophobia is the

scientific name for the fear of deep water; shot 11: the thing from

the bottom of the lake grasping at a swimmer’s ankle; shot 12: one

day out of my week-long swim lessons was always reserved for

showing us a video on all the ways we could die in the pool if we

weren’t careful; shot 13: the Final Girl in slasher films is the last

one to confront the killer and, usually, the only one to survive.

Fall 2019

I press into my ribs again. Take it on faith.

How can I take it on faith when the answer is so clear?

52 53


Emma Wunderlich

feral cat who threatened the health of your inside, pedigree cat. A bad

influence, you’d said to me after you met her at my cousin’s wedding.


Inklings Arts & Letters

On the day the cat went missing, I woke up feeling empty. I suppose it

wasn’t the first time I woke up that way—with the feeling of a carved

-out hole in my stomach—but it was the first time I really noticed it.

I sensed you standing in the doorway before I heard you. Max? I

pretended to be asleep at first, hoping you’d go away and leave me

with this new, inexplicable hollowness. But instead you said my name

again, this time louder. When I turned toward you, you said it all in one

breath, vomiting it all out onto the carpet. The cat is gone. I’ve looked

everywhere. She must’ve gotten out somehow.

Did you look under the bed? I mumbled, trying to learn how to breathd

with puncture wounds in my gut.

Of course I looked under the bed, Maxine. Jesus. You ran your fingers

through your hair, looked at me imploringly. A declawed cat, out on the

streets. If she dies, it’ll be our fault.

So what do we do? I asked, because these kinds of things—the kinds of

things like decisions—were always for you.

You were silent for a long time, so long that I was almost able to drift

back to sleep. I guess we wait for her to come back.

On the other hand, you loved to hear the stories about my parents. They

had wanted boys. Andy and Max, my sister and I were called. Our hair

was always kept above shoulder length, we were dressed in blue jeans

and ratty old t-shirts. And we grew up with our feet almost permanently

stuck in the murky creek water of Perryville, Missouri, where we spent

full days hunting for tadpoles.

And all this happened while my father told us stories about the desert.

He’d been talking about the desert for as long as I could remember.

It was his dream—to lay with his skin against the sand, to stare up at

nothing but blackness and stars, to live in a place where no one else

did. He talked about the quiet most of all. If all the sounds outside of

us were quiet, even for a moment, we’d be able to hear sounds within

ourselves. He always ended his stories this way, while my sister and I

stared up at him in awe.

So by the ages of five and six, the desert was our dream, too. My mother

hated the idea; she’d been born in Missouri and she planned to die there

too, where everything was green and frogs could be heard singing. My

father rarely talked about the desert when my mother was in the room.

When my parents split, they divided their assets down the middle. My

mother got the house but my father got the furniture in it. My father

got the dog, but my mother kept the cat. My father got Andy and my

mother got me.

Fall 2019



I was fourteen when my sister left. I don’t talk about this much,

because I know how you feel about her. Polarizing was always your

favorite way to describe her. Almost exactly a year younger than me, I

frequently thought of us as opposites: where I was soft and malleable,

she was solid and stubborn, prickly when crossed. She was tumultuous;

being around her sometimes felt like walking across a bed of coals.

Painful and exhilarating, scary and empowering. I stopped telling

stories about her around age nineteen, when my relationship to you

took over the center space and she moved to a more peripheral position

in my life. You always hated the way she was wild, untamed. Like a

When Dad and Andy left, they drove straight to Arizona.

It’s finally happening, Andy had thrown herself onto my bed the night

before their departure. She entered rooms like a tornado, always

leaving evidence of her presence in the aftermath.

I’m going to live in the desert, Maxy. I’m going to see rattlesnakes and

finally get to hear all the noises inside of me. I gripped her hand tight.

Nodded, then started to cry.

Oh, sis. Don’t cry. She wriggled her way under the covers, rested her

head in the crevice between my neck and shoulder.

54 55

Inklings Arts & Letters

I struggled to find the right words, how to tell her: I do not know who I

am without you.

Instead, I said, I’m going to miss you, which was not right, because to

miss someone was not strong enough to describe the way I was about

to feel: unanchored, irretrievably lost.

You won’t have to miss me. I’ll call every day until you can come join

us. You won’t be here forever, Max.

What about Mom? I asked. But Andy only shrugged.

I fell asleep that night dreaming about the stars.

Part of me wishes that I didn’t understand why my father chose Andy

to accompany him to the desert. The problem was that I did; as I stood

on the driveway and watched them take the truck, its bed full of what

furniture the two of them would need, as I tried to wipe my eyes dry

before my mother saw, I knew that I would have chosen her too.


She called me on the night of my twenty-second birthday. Max, finally.

You can come out West with me. I cleared my throat and opened my mouth.

Cleared my throat again. Finally, I told her I was happy in Missouri, that

I was moving in with you after graduation. Andy didn’t go to college;

neither did my parents. I was going to be the first to graduate.

But this was our dream, her voice, like ice, finally cut in as I tripped

over my words.

Andy, it was your dream.

So what are you saying? You’re staying there forever?

I’m saying I don’t think I can leave this town.

She’d sighed in that huge, heavy way she’d always done when we were

kids, as if there was nothing in the world sadder to her than what had

just happened. I hung up.

This is what I thought about on the morning of the cat’s escape, as I

laid in our bed and listened to the sounds of you making your coffee.


I finally crawled out of bed around 10. You’d already been in twice to

ask if I was okay. Just worried about the cat, I lied. It was true that I

was thinking about the cat. But she was not cold and scared, as you

chose to believe. She was free to explore the forest behind our house,

independent and unrestricted for the first time in her life.

It was a Saturday, so when I sat at the kitchen table you were still there,

watching the news on the kitchen television set. There was no TV in

the living room or the bedroom, just this one. You insisted on watching

it while we ate.

I looked across the table at you as I sipped my coffee and realized it

was possible that I no longer loved you. At least this felt true as I stared

across at you.

I thought about how we met, in the back of the bookstore during our

first week of college. You carried my books to the register. I thought

about how easily I’d molded my life into yours after that day. How

we’d meshed our lives so wholly over the past six years.

I thought about how my mother always did your laundry along with

mine on the weekends. The way you scoffed at my literature courses

while you learned finance and economics. The way you always called

my drawings cute, even the ones that now hung in other people’s houses.

You were from a town only thirty minutes from my own, so somewhere

along the line, it became obvious to you that this was where we would

stay. I would stay at home, writing and illustrating children’s books,

while you would become a marketing manager at some company

(which one, however, had yet to be decided). We would have three

children, because this was the kind of family in which you’d grown up.

There would be a screened-in porch in our house.

These were things I agreed to without considering the possibility of


Maybe that is what happened when you said we were in love, too.


Andy called daily at first, as she’d promised me on what I’d come

to think of as the last night of my childhood. But then days became

weeks and eventually months. She got tired of asking what was going

on in Missouri, only to hear again and again. Oh. Just the usual. Quite

frankly, I got tired of hearing about Arizona, too.

She flew home to visit Mom and I about once a year. Dad came

sometimes, too, and he stayed in the guest bedroom of our house as if

this were normal, as if he had always been an outsider in this family. It

Fall 2019

56 57

Inklings Arts & Letters

was every six months with Andy at first, and she’d stay for a few weeks

of the summer or winter breaks. But by the time she was sixteen, she

only came for special events, like weddings and funerals. Sometimes,

at night, when I stared at the ceiling and missed her with a longing that

made my whole body ache, I found myself almost willing our relatives

to die, begging them to give her a reason to come back to us.

I never went to Arizona to visit them. Mom asked me not to, and

something always kept me from defying her. I used to tell myself it

was loyalty.

Sometimes, I wonder if you remember your first meeting with Andy as

vividly as I do. It was during one of those obligatory visits: our cousin

Lucy’s wedding. You and I had been together for nearly three years,

but it had been an unusual couple of years, free of death and lifelong

commitment. I hadn’t seen Andy in almost two full years. So when she

stepped off the airplane, twenty years old, I felt the breath leave me.

She was as I remembered: cool, collected, an aura of wilderness about

her. Her hair was un-brushed in a flattering way; turquoise glinted on

her fingers. Her calves were toned from frequent hiking. She was tan

and freckled and, shockingly, an adult. Somewhere in the past two

years, she had shed that inevitably awkward teenage skin.

Andy’s bag was left in the terminal as she noticed me, running full

speed at me. Sister, she exuded, so much warmth in just that one single

word that I no longer felt like I needed the cardigan wrapped around

my shoulders. She collided with me, nearly knocking us both to the

ground. We balanced ourselves and stood, holding each other tightly

for several minutes, not sure when we’d be ready to let go again.

You stood beside me and raised your eyebrows.


Lucy and Daniel had an open bar. Nobody was checking IDs. I was

twenty-one, but rarely drank; Andy was not, but frequently did. By

the time dinner was served, we were raucous and warm, our stomachs

crackling with champagne.

I am not sure if either of you truly tried to know the other. I do know

whatever attempts were made were futile. You hated her; I could see it

in your eyes. And I could tell by the stiffness in her stance that she was

not fond of you either. I pretended to ignore this, pretended I simply did

not notice. Instead, I got drunk with my sister and acted as if I couldn’t

feel the intensity and disapproval with which you watched us.

At some point in the night, at a time she probably deemed was safe

due to my own drunkenness, Andy broached the subject of you. Max, I

don’t like him.

I looked at her hard; she’d been wrong to think the champagne would

have softened me to this announcement. Well, good thing you’re not

dating him.

He’s too boring for you.

Everyone is boring compared to you, I told her.

That’s not true. She was quiet for a minute. I just never thought you’d

settle for boring.

Andy, I don’t care what you say. Greg is good, I told her seriously, even

as my words slurred together.

No, Max. Greg is safe.

And when you tucked me into bed that night, after I’d emptied the

champagne from my guts onto the bathroom floor, I thought, what’s so

bad about safe?


On that morning, when the cat disappeared, when I was twenty-four

years old, I woke up sick of safe. When you went outside to cut the grass

(it was late spring, May. The time of year when things are supposed to

start feeling good again), I went back to bed. I crawled under the covers

and I dialed Andy’s number.

She picked up the phone with, Hey. Then, when I said nothing, Max?

Pause. Is everything okay?

I laid there and tried not to breathe audibly, listening to the sound of

her voice. I hadn’t heard it in so many days. It was still cold outside last

time we had spoken.

I listened until finally, she hung up.

As I packed my bags the next day, I filled them with nearly a month’s

worth of supplies. I wanted to bring more, but I couldn’t fit it all in the

two suitcases I owned. I didn’t know what I was doing or why, but I did

know that once I started to pack, I would not stop until I was finished.


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Inklings Arts & Letters

On the day I left, you blocked the door and said Maxine please, I love

you. Do you not love me anymore? And I said I need to know how to

love myself before I can answer that, because it was something Andy

told me once, years ago, as we curled against each other in my twin

bed, our legs tangled and gangly with adolescence. That doesn’t even

make sense, you scratched your head and waved your hands with

exasperation. If you really loved me, it would, I told you, my head held

high. You stepped out of my way then, looking at me with eyes full of

confusion but also a sort of fear. It was something I had never seen in

your eyes before. And with that, I left Missouri.

I know you will never understand this, but something inside of me was

broken on that morning, Greg. And I knew Andy was the only person

who would be able to fix it.


I drove to the desert with the old Camry in our garage, and I left you

with the pickup truck. It was a 21-hour drive to Sedona, Arizona. I

stopped in a dusty, quiet town of western Oklahoma, where I spent the

night in a hotel next to a rundown McDonalds.

On the hotel’s wifi, I looked up the town my sister now lived in for the

first time in my life. Sedona, Google said to me, “Home to Collared

Peccaries” and “John Wayne Was Filmed Here.” Google also said: red

rock walls, hub for artists, population: 10,336.

I fell asleep staring at photos of the town, wondering which of the

houses my sister lived in. When I woke up in the morning, I found that

it was a Monday, and I got back in the car.

You called once, somewhere in New Mexico. I didn’t pick up; I was

afraid the sound of your voice would turn me around. Instead, I turned

the music louder and pretended not to hear the ring.


When I got to the desert, it was past midnight. Andy’s house was none

of the homes I’d inspected on Google Earth — zooming in close enough

to see if maybe I could see her inside one of them. Instead, it was a

small cabin, several miles outside of the town’s main road. Where we

grew up was dark; there were many trees and little light pollution. But

this was a whole new darkness that I had not experienced before. The

moon was just a sliver, shyly peeking out from behind its own shadow.

I sat outside in my car and stared at the door. I was surprised to find

myself there; part of me had always thought I would turn around. But

I hadn’t and I was here now, where I had never been, where you would

never go. Something about this—the victory of this—compelled me to

climb out of my car.

I dragged my suitcases quietly up the porch steps, rang the doorbell,

and waited. I glanced at my watch. 12:47. I rang the doorbell again.

When she answered the door, she wore only a large, ratty t-shirt with a

wolf on it. She blinked several times before she recognized me.

Oh Jesus, oh God. Mom’s not dead, is she?

No. I shifted my weight uncomfortably. I did not—could not—explain

why I was here. I didn’t even understand it myself.

Max. Who died?

When I said nobody, she blanched. Somebody had to have died. Why

the hell else would you be here? At one in the fucking morning.

I don’t know, Andy. I really don’t. I just needed to come here.

What the fuck? I said nothing to that, just stood with my shoulders

slumped, waiting for the shock to pass. Well, she softened finally, get in

here. And she pulled me through the door and into her arms.


Andy did not ask many questions of me, after the initial: where is Greg?

To which I replied: Not here. That was good enough for her.

There was so much I didn’t know about her life. She works as a guide

at Red Rock State Park, just a few miles from where she lives. She

spends her days among the rocks and the sand, under the sun, where I’d

always pictured her. There is a girlfriend; this was why she’d moved

to Sedona in the first place from Wickenburg, where Dad still was. Ria

was clever and snappy, rivaling even my sister in ferocity. The first

time I met her, I thought of how she would terrify you, and it made me

laugh. I asked Andy not to tell Dad that I was here; I would visit him

when I was ready to, I would show him that I’d made it here even after

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I’d been left behind all those years ago.


During my first week in the desert, I rode with Andy to work, where I

spent my day hiking and exploring, hoping that at the end of one of the

days, when I emerged from a trail, I would be done feeling lost.

This all happened more or less a month ago, and so my suitcases have

been emptied and never repacked, my clothes have been worn and

washed, my feet have grown dirty from the dust.

When four days had passed and the ache inside of me was still there,

Andy handed me a backpack and a sleeping bag. Pack this. We’re going

camping. I still haven’t shown you the best part. And so I listened, like

I’d done my whole life. But there was something different about it this

time, something more deliberate in what I chose to do.

This morning, Andy grabbed my hand across the table during breakfast.

Look, sis. Don’t take this the wrong way, you can stay as long as you

want. But how long do you think you’ll be here?

Maybe forever, I told her. But also maybe not.

Inklings Arts & Letters

We drove until there was nothing, for miles. Nothing but rocks and dust

and night sky. We lie on the sand and I finally felt the grains against my

back, the way my dad had always described.

Dad drove me out here one weekend when we first got to Arizona. I

wouldn’t stop crying; I wanted to go home. I never told you that. I begged

him to bring me back to you. To my life before. I was silent, listening.

We drove two and a half hours just to get here, the middle of f-cking

nowhere. He told me his friend had told him about this place, a place

where you could forget the rest of the world even existed. So we came,

and we laid here, just like this. And he said to me, Andy. Look up. So I

did, and I’ve only ever been homesick for this place since.

You left a voicemail about the cat last week. You found her curled

on the back porch five days after she disappeared, waiting to be let

back inside. But she was not the same, you said. I don’t know what’s

different, your voice crackled on the other line. But something is.

Fall 2019

Max. She turned to me then. Look up.

And so I did. Quiet echoed in my ears as I met the stars.


When we got back the next day, I picked up the phone and called you.

I don’t know if I’m coming back. And if I do, I don’t know when it will

be. And you said, Please come back, I will make you happier, which

already had the feeling of an empty promise. And I chose honesty for

the first time in a long time. I don’t know. Greg, what if we only love

each other out of convenience?

You said, I love you out of love.

I just don’t know. I still don’t, Greg. I’m sorry.

Okay. I love you, you finally said.

62 63


Triptych: Words Painted

Erin Adelman

oil on canvas

Let them eat cake

Romie Crist

colored pencil

Inklings Arts & Letters

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66 67

Orange you glad

Romie Crist


Milk man

Romie Crist


Inklings Arts & Letters

Fall 2019

68 69

Study 4

Lily Ellison


little bone blue

Viengsamai Fetters

photography & pen

Inklings Arts & Letters

Fall 2019

70 71


Libby Fisher

monotype print

Roman Rings Study

Libby Fisher

ink on paper

Inklings Arts & Letters

Fall 2019

72 73

Nocturne I: Summer

Libby Fisher

oil on panel

Nocturne I: Winter

Libby Fisher

oil on panel

Inklings Arts & Letters

Fall 2019

74 75

In Between

Libby Fisher

oil on panel

All This Talk About Ghosts, I Don't See A Thing

Bryce Forren


Inklings Arts & Letters

Fall 2019

76 77

Stripped to the Bone

Hannah Martin


Girl with a Star Earring

Hannah Martin

colored pencil

Inklings Arts & Letters

Fall 2019

78 79

eve's grapes

Lauren Miles


Alex Morse

oil paint

Inklings Arts & Letters

Fall 2019

80 81

It was sunny in Portland

Chi Nguyen

film photography

It was sunny in Portland

Chi Nguyen

film photography

Inklings Arts & Letters

Fall 2019

82 83

Converse, an anatomy

Chi Nguyen

pencil on paper

Garden of Eden

Andrew Roger

ink on paper

Inklings Arts & Letters

Fall 2019

84 85


Aspen Stein

photography and embroidery

Self-Portrait after Mucha's "Amber"

Emma Wiersma


Inklings Arts & Letters

Fall 2019

86 87

view of a factory

Emma Wiersma



Lila Willis


Inklings Arts & Letters

Fall 2019

88 89

In The Morning

Lila Willis

digital photgraphy


Lila Willis


Inklings Arts & Letters

Fall 2019

90 91

mind, body, etc.

Lila Willis


Sunday Slump

Jae Willis


Inklings Arts & Letters

Fall 2019

92 93

That Yellow Lady Person

Lydia Wooten


Inklings Arts & Letters

94 95

felicitous thanks to

C a t h y W a g n e r

F r e d R e e d e r


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