LIT/PUB Modern Affairs -- Issue II, Spring 2022

The striking cover by Jade Ramos – two girlfriends sitting at a café as they try to make sense of things – evokes the spirit of this post-pandemic phase as we emerge, eyes blinking and tentative, to face the insidious residuals of Coronavirus. This same feeling of tentativeness pervades the short fiction of Autumn McIntyre, Yasmine Guiga, Olivia Kesselman, and Madison Walters – we read about the friendship between two young women as it slips away; the confused anxiety around a possible pregnancy; couples breaking up, and coming together at the New Year; a daughter confronting her mother’s infidelity, and her own sexual identity. In Kathryn Uliana’s quirky sketch, two strangers stuck in an elevator discover more about themselves than they perhaps wish to. In the Non-Fiction section, Margaret Kovick looks back soberly at a brief encounter with an older man. Meg Gephart writes movingly about the loss of her grandfather. Alyssa Pasvantis tries to reconnect with her Greek community in Florida after the pandemic. Autumn McIntyre battles bravely with her eating disorder. Madison Walters wonders about the lives of her neighbors from her balcony. Julia Eisen writes to her former selves in a touching exercise in self-reflection. And in Lauren Neely’s humorous sketch, an apartment in Rome filled with American students complains about her untidy tenants while lamenting their imminent departure like a typical Italian Mama. In addition to her cover and drawings, Jade Ramos has contributed two fine poems – on the strangeness of new love, and on oranges that sometimes cure illness and other times don’t. When we first began putting together this issue of the magazine, we decided to work on the idea of relationships. It seemed an appropriate theme as we emerged from the contact-less, remote-living, zoom-zombie days of the pandemic. Over the past months “Relationships” morphed into the nervier, more upbeat, more assertive “Modern Affairs” – all in all, a promising sign. Rome, May 2022

The striking cover by Jade Ramos – two girlfriends sitting at a café as they try to make sense of things – evokes the spirit of this post-pandemic phase as we emerge, eyes blinking and tentative, to face the insidious residuals of Coronavirus.

This same feeling of tentativeness pervades the short fiction of Autumn McIntyre, Yasmine Guiga, Olivia Kesselman, and Madison Walters – we read about the friendship between two young women as it slips away; the confused anxiety around a possible pregnancy; couples breaking up, and coming together at the New Year; a daughter confronting her mother’s infidelity, and her own sexual identity. In Kathryn Uliana’s quirky sketch, two strangers stuck in an elevator discover more about themselves than they perhaps wish to.

In the Non-Fiction section, Margaret Kovick looks back soberly at a brief encounter with an older man. Meg Gephart writes movingly about the loss of her grandfather. Alyssa Pasvantis tries to reconnect with her Greek community in Florida after the pandemic. Autumn McIntyre battles bravely with her eating disorder. Madison Walters wonders about the lives of her neighbors from her balcony. Julia Eisen writes to her former selves in a touching exercise in self-reflection. And in Lauren Neely’s humorous sketch, an apartment in Rome filled with American students complains about her untidy tenants while lamenting their imminent departure like a typical Italian Mama.

In addition to her cover and drawings, Jade Ramos has contributed two fine poems – on the strangeness of new love, and on oranges that sometimes cure illness and other times don’t.
When we first began putting together this issue of the magazine, we decided to work on the idea of relationships. It seemed an appropriate theme as we emerged from the contact-less, remote-living, zoom-zombie days of the pandemic. Over the past months “Relationships” morphed into the nervier, more upbeat, more assertive “Modern Affairs” – all in all, a promising sign.

Rome, May 2022


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<strong>LIT</strong>/<strong>PUB</strong><br />

<strong>Modern</strong> <strong>Affairs</strong><br />

<strong>Issue</strong> <strong>II</strong> - <strong>Spring</strong> <strong>2022</strong>

Table of Contents<br />

Editors' Note<br />

Fiction<br />

Melanie & Lucille - Autumn McIntyre<br />

ninety-nine percent - Yasmine Guiga<br />

The Ticking Clock - Olivia Kesselman<br />

That Remains to Be Seen - Madison Walters<br />

1<br />

4<br />

8<br />

12<br />

Script<br />

The Wedding Scene - Kathryn Uliana<br />

15<br />

Poetry I<br />

Meeting You - Jade Ramos<br />

27<br />

Non-Fiction<br />

Collectables - Margaret Kovick<br />

John Henry Totter - Meg Gephart<br />

Panagiri Under the Stars - Alyssa Pasvantis<br />

If I'm Being Honest - Autumn McIntyre<br />

Letters to Julia - Julia Eisen<br />

Balconies - Madison Walters<br />

29<br />

33<br />

35<br />

38<br />

41<br />

45<br />

Humor<br />

The Apartment’s Lament - Lauren Neely<br />

47<br />

Poetry <strong>II</strong>:<br />

Oranges When Sick - Jade Ramos<br />


Editors' Note<br />

The striking cover by Jade Ramos – two girlfriends sitting at a café as they try to make sense of<br />

things – evokes the spirit of this post-pandemic phase as we emerge, eyes blinking and tentative, to face<br />

the insidious residuals of Coronavirus.<br />

This same feeling of tentativeness pervades the short fiction of Autumn McIntyre, Yasmine<br />

Guiga, Olivia Kesselman and Madison Walters – we read about the friendship between two young<br />

women as it slips away; the confused anxiety around a possible pregnancy; couples breaking up and<br />

coming together at the New Year; a daughter confronting her mother’s infidelity, and her own sexual<br />

identity. In Kathryn Uliana’s quirky sketch, two strangers stuck in an elevator discover more about<br />

themselves than they perhaps wish to.<br />

In the Non-Fiction section, Margaret Kovick looks back soberly at a brief encounter with an<br />

older man. Meg Gephart writes movingly about the loss of her grandfather. Alyssa Pasvantis tries to reconnect<br />

with her Greek community in Florida after the pandemic. Autumn McIntyre battles bravely<br />

with her eating disorder. Madison Walters wonders about the lives of her neighbors from her balcony.<br />

Julia Eisen writes to her former selves in a touching exercise in self-reflection. And in Lauren Neely’s<br />

humorous sketch, an apartment in Rome filled with American students complains about her untidy<br />

tenants while lamenting their imminent departure like a typical Italian Mama.<br />

In addition to her cover and drawings, Jade Ramos has contributed two fine poems – on the<br />

strangeness of new love, and on oranges that sometimes cure illness and other times don’t.<br />

When we first began putting together this issue of the magazine, we decided to work on the<br />

idea of relationships. It seemed an appropriate theme as we emerged from the contact-less, remote-living,<br />

zoom-zombie days of the pandemic. Over the past months “Relationships” morphed into the<br />

nervier, more up-beat, more assertive “<strong>Modern</strong> <strong>Affairs</strong>” – all in all a promising sign.<br />

Rome, May <strong>2022</strong><br />


Special thanks to Margaret Kovick, Yasmine Guiga, Olivia Kesselman, Marco Parolin, and Jade Ramos<br />

for their excellent work on the design and layout of the issue. This magazine is a product of ENG305 -<br />

Literary Editing and Publishing, taught by Professor Andrea di Robilant at<br />

the American University of Rome.<br />

***<br />


Melanie & Lucille<br />

By Autumn McIntyre<br />

“You know, I really hate this weather.”<br />

Lucille scooted her chair closer to the small, wooden table and attempted to hide herself further<br />

under the umbrella. Although it protected her and Melanie from the sun, the heat continued to<br />

beat down mercilessly. But indoor seating was full, what other choice did they have?<br />

“Yes, that is something you frequently make clear,” Melanie remarked, sipping from a glass of<br />

water. “But I prefer this over the freezing cold.”<br />

Lucille picked apart the bread in front of her. “I just need a nice breeze. That’s all I’m asking<br />

for. It’s not much.”<br />

“You’re asking for a nice breeze… and for me to wake up on time,” Melanie smiled.<br />

“Hey, you weren’t that late today.”<br />

“Only twenty minutes,” Melanie noted. “I didn’t mean to sleep through our plans last Saturday.”<br />

“It’s okay. I saw some friends instead. Besides, I cancelled on you the week before.”<br />

“True. Well, what did you end up doing last weekend?”<br />

“My friends and I worked on a group project.”<br />

“Cool.” Melanie tapped her fingers on the table. “How’s your mom doing? I forgot to wish<br />

her a happy birthday last week.”<br />

“Oh, don’t worry. She’s good. She asked about you and your brother. Does he know if he’s<br />

gonna make varsity basketball?”<br />

“He probably will.”<br />


Fiction<br />

“That’s great!” Lucille hummed, sipping her drink. “That’s really impressive, especially since<br />

he’s a sophomore.”<br />

“Yep, he’s pumped,” Melanie nodded.<br />

“That’s good.”<br />

Lucille smoothed out her floral-printed skirt and shifted in her seat. Her legs were sticking to<br />

the metal.<br />

“I talked to Anna on the phone last night,” Melanie said, picking at the loose seams from her<br />

ripped jeans. “She wants to know if we’re going to visit her this semester.”<br />

“I hadn’t even thought of that yet.”<br />

“We can visit during our long weekend next month.”<br />

“I made plans with some friends to go away that weekend.”<br />

“Oh. I mean, I think I could go back without you.”<br />

“Go ahead. Anna and everyone would be thrilled to have you there.”<br />

“Maybe we can visit again next semester.”<br />

“Maybe.”<br />

Silence filled the air as Lucille wiped beads of sweat off her forehead. She hoped she could go<br />

home soon. She wanted to strip off her tight clothes and change into her looser, cleaner, more comfortable<br />

pajamas. “I might go visit Anna and everyone earlier,” Melanie said, chuckling. “She told me<br />

Riley is staying at her apartment because he got locked out of his.”<br />

“Oh my God.” Lucille rolled her eyes and laughed. “Typical.”<br />

“I can’t believe it’s been almost a year since we left.”<br />

“Really?<br />

“Yeah.”<br />

Had it been almost a year since they had parted from their friends and moved to new schools?<br />

Time had passed faster than Lucille expected. The memories used to burn her skin. They were like<br />

mosquito bites–the more she itched, the worse they got. But now, it seemed that they had scarred<br />

over.<br />


Fiction<br />

“I miss it,” Melanie finally said over the silence.<br />

“Me too, sometimes. But I’m also happy here.”<br />

“I’m glad that we’re here together.”<br />

Lucille gave a small smile. “I am too.”<br />

The sun was finally beginning to move away.<br />

“I don’t think I’m gonna have time to meet up next week.”<br />

“I won’t either.”<br />

“Oh. Okay. Well, then whenever we’re both free next.”<br />

“Whenever we’re both free next.” •<br />


ninety-nine percent<br />

By Yasmine Guiga<br />

“Miss Brower? Dr. Richards is ready for you.”<br />

Lily followed her doctor’s assistant down the hallway and into the office. “Good morning, Dr.<br />

Richards.”<br />

“Lily! Please, have a seat.” The middle-aged doctor stood up to greet her.<br />

“The results of your laparoscopy came in last night,” Dr. Richards said, patting the papers on<br />

her desk. She readjusted her seat and took off her reading glasses. Lily noticed that Dr. Richards was<br />

fidgeting. Dr. Richards never fidgeted.<br />

“And? It can’t be good news since I had to come down here for it, right? Your assistant usually<br />

just calls me,” Lily said, fighting against a wave of nausea. Her hand instinctively came to rest on her<br />

belly. She shouldn’t have had those pancakes before she left. But Lucas had made them. He made the<br />

best pancakes. Lucas should have been here with her. If only she had told him she was going to the<br />

doctor today. At least she would have someone to hold her trembling hand while she sat there, waiting<br />

for Dr. Richards to finish her sentence. Why didn’t she tell him?<br />

Dr. Richards’ face softened with pity. Lily hated it.<br />

“No,” the doctor said. “I’m afraid it isn’t good news.”<br />

Lily frowned. “I thought it was just a regular procedure, nothing to be worried about?”<br />

“It was a regular check-up. And ninety-nine percent of the time, there is nothing to be worried<br />

about, but …” the doctor trailed off.<br />

“But,” Lily pressed. “Just tell me, please. Might as well get it over with,” she chuckled bitterly.<br />

“When you came in for your check-up, you mentioned your menstrual pain was getting worse.”<br />

“Yes, but it’s been like that my entire life, I just have painful periods.”<br />


Fiction<br />

Dr. Richards shook her head. “Painful periods aren’t that common. At least not to the degree<br />

that yours are. That’s why I wanted to do a laparoscopy. For a while, we thought you had primary<br />

dysmenorrhea, which is the pain caused by the contractions of –”<br />

“I know what primary dysmenorrhea is,” Lily snapped. “I’ve had it since I was thirteen.”<br />

Dr. Richards was taken aback by Lily’s sudden aggression, but tried not to show it. She was<br />

used to dealing with annoyed patients.<br />

“Yes, of course. What I meant to say is that you don’t have primary dysmenorrhea; you have<br />

secondary dysmenorrhea, caused by endometriosis.”<br />

“Secondary dysmenorrhea,” Lily repeated stupidly. “Endometriosis.”<br />

She was completely still now.<br />

Dr. Richards carefully looked down at the file on her desk. Lily suspected she was bracing<br />

herself for the rest of the diagnosis.<br />

“Endometriosis is when the normal lining of the uterus starts to grow outside the uterine wall,<br />

which explains your abnormal menstrual cramps.”<br />

Lily nodded. There wasn’t much else she could say.<br />

“It isn’t uncommon for endometriosis to go undetected for years because people just assume<br />

it’s normal period pain. Now, Lily, um … this is the part of the conversation that I hate the most.”<br />

“Why? Why do you hate it?” Lily knew she sounded impatient, but any sense of social pleasantry<br />

was overtaken by the dread settling in her stomach.<br />

A part of her knew what was coming next, but try as she might, she couldn’t convince herself<br />

that she was ready to hear it. Her thumb absentmindedly went to twist the ring on her left hand, but<br />

it wasn’t there. She had forgotten to wear her engagement ring. She usually put it on in the morning as<br />

soon as she woke up, but today, it sat on her nightstand, overlooked in her haste to make her doctor’s<br />

appointment on time.<br />

Dr. Richards’s calm voice cut through the chaos of Lily’s thoughts. “Lily, you have severe endometriosis.”<br />

She paused, letting the weight of her words sink in. “It means you will most likely never<br />

be able to have children.”<br />

There it was. The reason she had been asked to come here.<br />

“Oh,” was all Lily said.<br />

The irony of her situation almost made her laugh. Lily didn’t want to have children. She had<br />


Fiction<br />

known ever since she started college, and every single one of her exes had broken up with her the second<br />

she uttered the infamous words.<br />

“I don’t want kids,” Lily would say.<br />

The boyfriend at the time would then lose his ability to form coherent sentences. “Um … you<br />

… eh what?”<br />

“I don’t want to have kids. I don’t want kids now, and I don’t think I will ever want kids,” Lily<br />

would repeat slowly, deliberately.<br />

“I’ve always wanted kids,” the boyfriend would say.<br />

“I figured you would say that.”<br />

That was how most of Lily’s relationships ended. Until she met Lucas. They had only been<br />

dating for two months, but Lily didn’t want to waste her time. She was starting to fall in love with him<br />

and wanted to make sure he knew about her choice. But Lucas didn’t react like her exes had.<br />

“I don’t want kids either,” he had said.<br />

Lily hadn’t believed him at first. Then two months had turned into six, and less than two years<br />

later they got engaged.<br />

“I don’t want kids,” Lily said after a while. “I’ve always been ninety-nine percent sure that I<br />

didn’t want kids.”<br />

Her use of the past tense wasn’t lost on the doctor. “Didn’t? Lily, I’ve had this conversation<br />

with more people than should be bearable, and I know it’s never easy. But there are other options we<br />

can look into, other –”<br />

“I don’t need other options. I don’t want children. I’m fine.”<br />

***<br />

I’ve always been ninety-nine percent sure, Lily repeated to herself on her way out of the doctor’s<br />

office. She replayed the words over and over in her head as she exited the building, got into her car, and<br />

drove home.<br />

She parked in her usual spot, leaving space for Lucas’s car, turned off the ignition, and sat<br />

there in silence. Pressure started building behind her eyes and she let her head fall back against the seat.<br />

She clutched her hands on the steering wheel. Her nail polish was beginning to chip. She should get<br />

a manicure next week. The neighbors’ cat sauntered down the alleyway and stopped in front of her<br />

car. Lily loved cats. They weren’t allowed to have cats growing up because their father was allergic. She<br />

should adopt a cat. She and Lucas should get a kitten. Lucas. She should tell him about her doctor's<br />


Fiction<br />

appoinment. He will ask what she did today, and she won’t be able to lie to him. Lily was a horrible<br />

liar. She should tell him. Maybe after they adopted the cat? She could tell him then.<br />

Lily fished through her purse for her phone and started texting Lucas:<br />

Lily: We should adopt a cat.<br />

Lucas: Should I be worried that this is a disproportionate reaction to something?<br />

Shit.<br />

Lily: Nope. I just really want to adopt a cat. It might be tricky when my parents come visit<br />

since my dad is allergic, but I think we can make it work.<br />

Lucas: Yeah, of course we can. We’ll drive down to the shelter tomorrow. •<br />


The Ticking Clock<br />

By Olivia Kesselman<br />

I<br />

“We should break up.”<br />

August could not have chosen a worse place to say those four dreadful words to Fiona – surrounded<br />

by friends and just a few seconds before midnight. It’s not like she didn’t see the break-up<br />

coming; they had both been thinking about it for a while, but why couldn’t he have kept it to himself<br />

for a little longer. The music and din of the party made it hard to focus on the conversation.<br />

Fiona let out a sigh full with the weight of their failed relationship, “I know, I was hoping you<br />

wouldn’t say it though.”<br />

August twiddled with the unraveling thread of the old couch they sat on. “One of us had to,<br />

and we both know you have too much pride to say it first.”<br />

“I thought we could make it work, with a little bit more effort—”<br />

“Next year we won’t even live in the same time zone, so how did you expect to make it work?<br />

We should just break it off now. We barely hang out as it is and when we do, we spend the whole time<br />

arguing.”<br />

“That’s not true! You just refuse to do anything if it doesn’t come easy to you,” Fiona said,<br />

frustrated.<br />

August let go of the thread he’d been fidgeting with and clenched his fists. “Well, I’m sorry I<br />

don’t want to spend every waking hour striving for perfection and success!”<br />

“I’m sorry for having ambition instead of expecting things to be automatically handed to me!”<br />

August suddenly felt everyone’s eyes on them. He let out a shaky breath as he tried to calm himself<br />

down. “See? We’re doing it again.”<br />

Fiona looked around at the people staring at them and fell back against the couch.<br />


Fiction<br />

“I never thought we would end up like this,” she admitted, her voice calmer.<br />

“I know.”<br />

She inhaled sharply and met his eyes for the first time that night. “August, I love you, but maybe<br />

we’re clinging to something that is no longer worth it.”<br />

“Maybe.” August’s eyes glistened with tears that had yet to fall.<br />

“Lower the music! The countdown is about to begin!” chimed a random voice in the crowd.<br />

August looked down at his shoes and cleared his throat. “So, this is it, huh? Once the countdown<br />

ends, we’ll be broken up,” he said with a strained smile.<br />

“Yeah… this is it.”<br />

He looked up at her as the music lowered and the chatty host on Dick Clark’s New Year's<br />

Rockin’ Eve sounded clearer. Fiona pursed her lips as the first tear fell down her cheek. August quickly<br />

glanced towards the big ticking clock on T.V.<br />

He wiped off her runaway tear with his thumb. “We still have a few seconds left of this year, so<br />

no need to cry just yet.”<br />

“Right, no need for that yet.” She smiled up at him.<br />

“Everyone gather around! It’s starting!”<br />

<strong>II</strong><br />

“Ten! Nine! Eight!”<br />

The crowd around Ella chants and she realizes she doesn’t have much time left. Her grip on<br />

her plastic cup tightens as she glances to her right. She can only see his side profile. Newt is smiling and<br />

chanting along with the others. The neon lights shining off the cheap disco balls illuminate his face.<br />

He is laughing and he closes his eyes when the light beams hit them.<br />

Stupid, stupid idea. Who even came up with the concept of kissing at midnight anyway? Ella’s<br />

cup starts slipping as her hands get clammy. Her ears are ringing even though the booming music has<br />

been lowered to hear the countdown on T.V. She looks around at her other friends, and her friends’<br />

friends, and everyone just keeps counting, and counting, and counting … she is not sure she can do it<br />

when the time comes.<br />


Fiction<br />

“Six! Five! Four!”<br />

The crowd cheers on. This is going too fast; she needs more time to make up her mind. Her<br />

glances towards Newt are now frantic and rapid. She chugs the remaining liquid in her cup, hoping<br />

for some extra courage and sets it down on the table beside her. She takes a step towards him. Then<br />

two more. Her hands shake, should she just stuff them in her pockets? What if that makes it awkward<br />

or uncomfortable?<br />

“Three!”<br />

Newt finally looks at her and his smile is the brightest thing in the room – he makes even the<br />

fluorescent lights look dim.<br />

“Two!”<br />

The crowd roars as the two of them lock eyes. What if this ruins everything?<br />

“One!”<br />

Then nothing else matters. It’s just her and him and it’s midnight.<br />

<strong>II</strong>I<br />

“Happy New Year!”<br />

This is definitely not the way Lotus wanted to start off her year. Her previously white dress is<br />

now sticky and clinging uncomfortably to her body as the huge red wine stain seeps through the fabric<br />

to her skin. Not her brightest idea – she’s aware, but she has to start a conversation somehow. Lotus<br />

spent the entire night eyeing him and never got the courage to make a move. She sets down her now<br />

empty cup on the table next to her before turning towards him, and taps him strongly on the shoulder.<br />

“Hey! You spilled your drink all over me!” Her voice is loud enough to be heard over the blaring<br />

music, but she’s careful not to sound too angry or upset.<br />

He turns around to look at her, an incredulous look on his face. “Did I really?”<br />

“Yes, do you think I bought the dress like this?” She gestures dramatically to her ruined dress.<br />

“You were obviously too busy partying with your friends to even notice that you bumped into me.”<br />


Fiction<br />

He lets out a light chuckle. “Well I’m really sorry about your dress, but my cup only has water<br />

in it. I don’t know who did that, but it definitely wasn’t me.”<br />

Lotus looks down and sees the transparent liquid in his cup. “Oh… right… never mind then.”<br />

She turns to leave when he calls out to her.<br />

“I’m Monty by the way.”<br />

He smiles at her. The smile she had seen across the room so many times was finally directed<br />

towards her. He extends his hand.<br />

She takes it, a triumphant smile spreads across her lips. “Nice to meet you, I’m Lotus.” •<br />


That Remains to Be Seen<br />

By Madison Walters<br />

The car radio died with an unceremonious beep, the accompanying light disappearing from<br />

the screen. Laura thumped the steering wheel of her truck with her fist.<br />

“Of all the days…” she muttered under her breath. She dug her manicured nails into the<br />

steering wheel, scarring the rubber with gray crescents. Her job at the local grocery store didn’t pay<br />

her enough to even begin thinking about fixing such a superfluous part of her car. Something needed<br />

to be done. It wasn’t so much that Laura liked music – didn’t everyone? – it was the need for distraction.<br />

Stuck in a moving vehicle, without diversion, even the strongest of minds wandered to intrusive<br />

thoughts after a while. Laura’s mind immediately crashed back to her revelation from that morning.<br />

It all started with that damned phone. Why did it have to have the same case as hers? She<br />

didn’t mean to look, it just happened. How could she ever look at her mother the same way? She<br />

didn’t see the message itself, only the lock screen preview, but it was more than enough to confirm her<br />

longtime suspicion. It only took seven little words:<br />

I want you so badly right now.<br />

Laura had tried to ignore the mounting signs of her mother’s infidelity--the spin classes, the<br />

new highlights in her hair, her “late nights” at work, and always texting someone on her phone. That<br />

damned phone. But willful ignorance could only last so long. At some point, you had to face the facts.<br />

The message she had seen earlier that morning confirmed it. There was no denying it.<br />

It was a miracle Laura’s father hadn’t noticed the changes in his wife, but that probably explained why<br />

she was having an affair. Losing 20 pounds and bleaching her hair was quite the change, but he never<br />

said a word. Laura knew in the back of her mind that she was a “save the marriage baby.”<br />


Fiction<br />

So much for that. It wasn’t that her father was absent, he just wasn’t present.<br />

But what about Laura? Everyone always thinks about the spouse first, but what about the<br />

child? Sure, Laura was twenty, but in some ways, she still felt fifteen. Frozen in time.<br />

At fifteen, Laura’s mother intentionally snooped on her phone. She too had her longtime suspicions<br />

confirmed, yet had chosen to deny them. Her daughter was queer. It was something Laura’s<br />

staunchly religious mother had always suspected, but had prayed wasn’t true. Threats of homelessness<br />

and disownment had followed, leaving Laura a shell of the person she could have been.<br />

“It’s a sin,” her mother would spit at her. Church became mandatory. Somehow, Laura’s<br />

mother became more fervently religious than before. Which was what made her mother’s adultery all<br />

the more shocking.<br />

“It’s a sin,” Laura said under her breath, stopping at the stoplight two streets away from her<br />

college campus. Her stomach clenched in what felt like a neverending cramp. She cursed her mother,<br />

her father, and the church. Clasping a hand to her mouth, she let out a muffled scream, then settled<br />

back into silence.<br />

Laura wasn’t religious, yet had all the knowledge of the most devout believer. Weren’t all sins<br />

treated equally? Why should it have been a different story when her mother broke one of the deadly<br />

commandments? Why was it a sin to love – one of the purest emotions in this bleak, bleak world.<br />

Did her mother love the man, or was it just physical? Laura decided that if it were love, she’d be more<br />

forgiving, considering the twenty-five years her mother had spent in a passionless marriage.<br />

But what about Laura?<br />

“Are all forms of blackmail bad?” she asked herself, instantly knowing the answer. “But<br />

maybe…” her voice faded. Would it really be such a bad thing to do given everything Laura had been<br />

put through? Or would it make her just as bad as her mother? She could promise her mother that her<br />

secret was safe, so long as Laura could have the life back that was stolen from her.<br />

“Mum’s the word,” she said with a dark chuckle.<br />

“No, I can’t,” she said with a resounding sigh. Should she tell her father? Did he even deserve<br />

to know? Laura had always wanted to believe the best in people, whether they deserved it or not. She’d<br />

wanted to believe that her relationship with her mother could have been different if her mother<br />


Fiction<br />

and father’s relationship had been more fruitful. Secretly, she had always favored her mother, even<br />

after everything she had put Laura through.<br />

Her car pulled into the student parking lot. The spaces weren’t designed for the size of her<br />

truck, so it always took some creative maneuvering. After a few moments, Laura finally succeeded. She<br />

sat back and closed her eyes. The prospect of going to class was unbearable, but she needed an escape.<br />

“Now what?” she asked no one in particular. How did people move on from something like<br />

this?<br />

Absolutely exhausted, Laura slumped over her steering wheel, accidentally blaring her horn<br />

in the process. Simultaneously, her radio came back to life with a loud drum solo from a song on the<br />

classic rock station. Laura sat up quickly with a small smile on her face.<br />

She could really use a distraction. •<br />


The Wedding Scene<br />

By Kathryn Uliana<br />

(A young woman is fixing her makeup<br />

using her phone camera in an elevator.<br />

The doors open and a slightly disheveled<br />

young man in an untied bowtie enters.)<br />

MARTIN<br />

Going down?<br />

JILL<br />

Yep. Which floor?<br />

MARTIN<br />

Second.<br />

JILL<br />

Me too.<br />

(Elevator doors close)<br />

JILL<br />

Are you here for the wedding?<br />

MARTIN<br />

Yeah, I’m the best man.<br />

JILL<br />

That’s cool. (Nods) It’s such a beautiful day.<br />

MARTIN<br />

Yeah, sure is.<br />

(Martin starts to pace, up and down. Jill<br />

notices. At first doesn’t say anything, then<br />

she finally speaks.)<br />

JILL<br />

Are you ok dude?<br />

MARTIN<br />

Yes! I am… I am fine… I am perfect.<br />

JILL<br />

Cool. Cool.<br />

(Jill returns to fixing her makeup)<br />

MARTIN<br />

(Unaware of how loud he is)<br />

No, I am not, I am absolutely not.<br />

(He leans his arm on the elevator wall and<br />

fidgets with his untied bowtie)<br />

JILL<br />

Oh…Alright<br />

MARTIN<br />

If I were to take a Prozac now, how long<br />

would it be until it kicks in?<br />

JILL<br />

Uh, I don’t know.<br />

MARTIN<br />

It's just… (Martin pulls out a small bottle<br />

of liquor from his coat pocket)<br />


Script<br />

I am in the middle of a bit of a breakdown.<br />

(He drinks from the bottle wiping his<br />

hand with his sleeve)<br />

JILL<br />

Oh, ok.<br />

(Jill nods anxiously, feeling a bit trapped<br />

in the elevator)<br />

MARTIN<br />

I mean, these are my college friends… and it's<br />

their wedding, and I should be happy for<br />

them. But I’m not. And I’m getting evicted,<br />

the love of my life just ended things with me<br />

and… Who are you?<br />

JILL<br />

I’m just in the band, man. I’m Jill.<br />

(She smiles slightly as if trying to defuse<br />

the situation and holds out her hand,<br />

Martin shakes it)<br />

MARTIN<br />

Martin. Hi.<br />

(Jill discreetly wipes sweat from his hand<br />

on her dress)<br />

JILL<br />

Hi.<br />

(Jill, unsure whether to speak, looks at the<br />

elevator buttons. There is a brief silence as<br />

the two stand facing front. Martin nervously<br />

fumbles with his bowtie)<br />

This is a really tall building.<br />

MARTIN<br />

Yeah.<br />

JILL<br />

I know it starts in like an hour--I just had to<br />

run up and get a pick.<br />

MARTIN<br />

I’m glad they went with a band, it's so much<br />

more authentic. DJs just suck the life out of<br />

events.<br />

JILL<br />

I’m also a DJ.<br />

MARTIN<br />

Oh (Three second pause) …So do you<br />

mainly do weddings?<br />

JI LL<br />

Some bar mitzvahs and company parties.<br />

MARTIN<br />

That’s interesting.<br />

JILL<br />

Yeah, it is.<br />

(Stressfully long pause)<br />

(Elevator jumbles, the two fall to the<br />

ground)<br />

MARTIN<br />

Is it stuck?<br />

VOICE<br />

Hang tight, We’ll get you out as soon as possible,<br />

you might be in there for a while.<br />

JILL<br />

No…no no no!<br />

(Begins to pound on door)<br />

MARTIN<br />

Well, we might be here for a bit.<br />

JILL<br />

(Yelling) If I climb up the shaft what’s my<br />

chance of survival?<br />

VOICE<br />

Zero if we get the elevator running again<br />

while you’re up there.<br />

JILL<br />

Shit.<br />


Script<br />

MARTIN<br />

You know- this is kind of poetic. Two strangers<br />

who never would’ve met if not for this<br />

situation.<br />

JILL<br />

We’re going to the same wedding.<br />

MARTIN<br />

Would you ever have talked to me?<br />

JILL<br />

Good point.<br />

MARTIN<br />

All I’m saying is that this is the perfect opportunity<br />

to trade war stories, if you know<br />

what I mean.<br />

JILL<br />

I don’t. Martin, you seem very kind but I can<br />

already tell we are two very different people.<br />

For my own sanity and your own feelings I<br />

think we should spend our time together in<br />

silence.<br />

MARTIN<br />

Ok-<br />

(Painfully long silence)<br />

-Counter point.<br />

What are the chances of you ever wanting to<br />

see me again when the wedding is over?<br />

JILL<br />

No chance.<br />

MARTIN<br />

Right… So let's take advantage of this situation<br />

to air everything out.<br />

JILL<br />

I feel as though you need to air everything<br />

out, and I should just stay quiet.<br />

MARTIN<br />

You’re stuck here too, it's only fair for both<br />

of us to lay everything out on the table.<br />

JILL<br />

Are you a cop?<br />

MARTIN<br />

No. What?<br />

JILL<br />

Nothing.<br />

MARTIN<br />

Well, anyway, I think this could be therapeutic.<br />

JILL<br />

Ok…fine…why are you…<br />

(Delicately)<br />

…the way that you are?<br />

(Awkwardly long pause, Martin takes an<br />

uncomfortably loud deep breath)<br />

MARTIN<br />

Have you ever been in love?<br />

JILL<br />

(Whispers) Jesus Christ (Full volume)<br />

Uh…I’m not sure.<br />

MARTIN<br />

(Martin walks to the front of the elevator<br />

not facing Jill)<br />

I was. Still am. She was my everything. I<br />

always thought we’d have a beautiful life<br />

together. Three kids, a Pomeranian.<br />

JILL<br />

(Jill makes a disgusted face)<br />

That sounds…Domestic. Why are you freaking<br />

out? Is she here?<br />

MARTIN<br />

She is actually.<br />

JILL<br />

(Trying to feign sympathy)<br />

Oh that sucks seeing your ex and--<br />


Script<br />

MARTIN<br />

She’s the bride.<br />

JILL<br />

(Snorts) You’re kidding? (Martin looks at<br />

her with no trace of joking) Oh, you’re<br />

serious. When did it happen?<br />

MARTIN<br />

Just before the wedding. She used to come to<br />

me for everything. Comfort, reassurance, a<br />

shoulder to cry on.<br />

JILL<br />

(Suddenly interested)<br />

Really?! So did anything happen?<br />

MARTIN<br />

What do you mean?<br />

JILL<br />

Well like, you know…<br />

MARTIN<br />

No, no nothing like that.<br />

JILL<br />

( Jill looks even more intrigued almost<br />

reveling in Martin’s sadness)<br />

So are you going to…<br />

MARTIN<br />

Object? No, it doesn’t matter anyway, she<br />

chose Anderson.<br />

JILL<br />

Anderson? That’s his name?<br />

MARTIN<br />

Yeah, she and I--<br />

JILL<br />

Wait, his first name is Anderson?<br />

MARTIN<br />

Yes.<br />

JILL<br />

That’s weird.<br />

MARTIN<br />

It's just his name.<br />

JILL<br />

Yeah, but it’s a last name.<br />

MARTIN<br />

It’s a normal name.<br />

JILL<br />

Ok, what’s his last name?<br />

MARTIN<br />

Todd.<br />

JILL<br />

So his name is Anderson Todd.<br />

MARTIN<br />

Yes.<br />

JILL<br />

What’s his middle name?<br />

MARTIN<br />

Comma.<br />

JILL<br />

Stop it! So his name is Anderson Comma<br />

Todd. So, the reverse of an actual name.<br />

Were his parents playing a lifelong joke?<br />

MARTIN<br />

Shouldn’t you already know the name of the<br />

groom? You’re playing at his wedding.<br />

JILL<br />

I just show up and play, man.<br />

MARTIN<br />

Look, none of this matters.<br />

JILL<br />

Right. Did she ever tell you she loved you?<br />

MARTIN<br />

She didn’t have to.<br />

JILL<br />

So she never did.<br />


Script<br />

MARTIN<br />

I felt it. Like the energy between us.<br />

JILL<br />

But she never said it.<br />

MARTIN<br />

Well, no.<br />

JILL<br />

Well, did she lead you on? Like flirting with<br />

you?<br />

MARTIN<br />

No, she would just look at me and I would<br />

know. Since college, but she was always with<br />

Anderson, and I was always with someone<br />

else.<br />

JILL<br />

So she never affirmed that she liked you.<br />

MARTIN<br />

Well no.<br />

JILL<br />

And you never dated either?<br />

MARTIN<br />

No. But I mean… When you’re up there<br />

playing, you must see couples all the time<br />

who don’t look perfect or who don’t fit.<br />

JILL<br />

I never pay attention.<br />

MARTIN<br />

But you must really love weddings.<br />

JILL<br />

I love paychecks.<br />

MARTIN<br />

But you get to play some of the most beautiful<br />

love songs ever written.<br />

JILL<br />

Over and over again. It gets exhausting.<br />

MARTIN<br />

Then do something else.<br />

JILL<br />

Why should I?<br />

MARTIN<br />

You hate your job.<br />

JILL<br />

I never said that.<br />

MARTIN<br />

So, you love it?<br />

JILL<br />

Nobody loves their job. What do you do?<br />

MARTIN<br />

I’m a barista at a vegan coffee shop/used<br />

bookstore.<br />

JILL<br />

Makes sense. Ok, do you love that?<br />

MARTIN<br />

Yes.<br />

JILL<br />

Oh…(Pause) Well, I tried to do something<br />

else. I promised my parents I would go to<br />

law school, but I ended up dropping out<br />

and becoming the rhythm guitarist in a wedding<br />

band and a DJ every other weekend of<br />

the month.<br />

MARTIN<br />

Not the worst thing a person can do.<br />

JILL<br />

(Jill puts a finger up to interrupt)<br />

I used to love Taylor Swift…The Beatles… Elvis…<br />

John Mayer, but if “Lover,” or “Can't<br />

Help Falling In Love” or “All You Need Is<br />

Love” or--God forbid-- “Daughters” comes<br />

on in the supermarket, I just leave. I will<br />

leave my cart full of groceries in the aisle<br />


Script<br />

and walk out of the store, into my car and<br />

drive away. And for whatever cruel reason<br />

those songs are very popular at my local<br />

Ready Mart.<br />

MARTIN<br />

Your parents wanted you to be a lawyer?<br />

JILL<br />

They never said it but I’m sure they<br />

wouldn’t have wanted me to end up in their<br />

situation. They were musicians too.<br />

MARTIN<br />

What kind?<br />

JILL<br />

Bluegrass, moderately popular in my town. I<br />

was born with perfect pitch, so I kind of fell<br />

into music.<br />

MARTIN<br />

It seems like a job you need passion for.<br />

JILL<br />

I mean, I have passion for it. I guess. I’m<br />

pretty good at it, it’s what I’m best at.<br />

MARTIN<br />

You don’t seem too enthusiastic about it.<br />

JILL<br />

(Defensive)<br />

Well, I’m just not like you, I don’t need to<br />

make a performance out of my emotions.<br />

MARTIN<br />

Why did you even join a wedding band if<br />

you hate love?<br />

JILL<br />

Whoa, I don’t hate love. What makes you<br />

think I hate love?<br />

MARTIN<br />

You just shit on some of the greatest love<br />

songs of all time.<br />

JILL<br />

You would hate them too if you played them<br />

over and over every other week.<br />

MARTIN<br />

You’re being very condescending about my<br />

romantic plight when you can’t even recognize<br />

love in your own life.<br />

JILL<br />

I’m not condescending. Maybe I’m just<br />

better at recognizing love when I see it and<br />

you aren’t?<br />

MARTIN<br />

Well, what were your parents like?<br />

JILL<br />

Oh no, you do not get to play the stable one<br />

and psychoanalyze me now.<br />

MARTIN<br />

I mean, hearing your side of the story might<br />

show me where I’ve gone wrong in my life<br />

and show me how you’ve become such an<br />

expert in matters of the heart. Also, it will<br />

help pass the time.<br />

JILL<br />

Fine. But then we’re done talking, deal?<br />

MARTIN<br />

Deal.<br />

JILL<br />

I grew up in nowhere Oregon. My parents<br />

were creative types that never made enough<br />

money, so they divorced because of that. My<br />

sister, by some fucking miracle, got out with<br />

a fancy business degree. I tried to be pre-law,<br />

but my first month of university I dropped<br />

out and ended up working at a gas station<br />

outside Cincinnati. Are you keeping up? I<br />

will not repeat myself.<br />


Script<br />

MARTIN<br />

Yes.<br />

JILL<br />

In that gas station, for some cosmic reason,<br />

a guy and his boyfriend were playing “Free<br />

Bird” on an out-of-tune guitar. One of my<br />

favorite songs. I go up to them and tell them<br />

that it's out of tune, neither of them play.<br />

They are, however, in a wedding band on<br />

vocals and drums. Next thing I know, I’m<br />

sleeping on their couch playing in the band,<br />

Love is patient, Love is Rock.<br />

MARTIN<br />

That’s a really great name.<br />

JILL<br />

It’s a horrible name.<br />

MARTIN<br />

And DJing?<br />

JILL<br />

I dated one.<br />

MARTIN<br />

Oh, I’m sorry.<br />

JILL<br />

Yeah.<br />

(Silence)<br />

MARTIN<br />

If your goal was to escape, you failed.<br />

JILL<br />

Excuse me?<br />

MARTIN<br />

Well, your resentment towards your parents-<br />

-it didn’t work.<br />

JILL<br />

I don’t resent my parents. And you promised<br />

silence.<br />

(Pause until Jill speaks again)<br />

What makes you think I resent my parents?<br />

MARTIN<br />

You ’re making them into the villains of your<br />

story.<br />

JILL<br />

They aren’t villains, they’re a cautionary tale.<br />

MARTIN<br />

Did they even want you to be a lawyer?<br />

JILL<br />

They never came out and said it, but every<br />

parent wants the best for their child. (Silence)<br />

I wanted a good job, I wanted security,<br />

and I didn’t get it. I failed, it’s fine.<br />

MARTIN<br />

You didn’t fail. Do you write music?<br />

JILL<br />

No. Well, I compose if you count that.<br />

MARTIN<br />

I do. Elton John composes.<br />

JILL<br />

I love Elton John.<br />

MARTIN<br />

Really, “Your Song” hasn’t been tainted for<br />

you?<br />

JILL<br />

No…Not yet . Point is, I tried to get out. I<br />

tried to have a good job. I just-- Couldn’t. It<br />

was just illicit for me.<br />

MARTIN<br />

I mean if--Wait what was that word? Illicit?<br />

JILL<br />

Like I had no other choice.<br />

MARTIN<br />

That’s not what illicit means.<br />


Script<br />

JILL<br />

Fine, invaluable.<br />

MARTIN<br />

That’s not--What are you trying to say?<br />

JILL<br />

Like, unavoidable.<br />

MARTIN<br />

Oh, inevitable. Or you could’ve just said<br />

unavoidable.<br />

JILL<br />

Fine whatever, I didn’t go to college. I didn’t<br />

drink, I didn’t smoke, and I have a failed<br />

degree to show for it.<br />

MARTIN<br />

So this is how you rebel?<br />

JILL<br />

What?<br />

MARTIN<br />

You didn’t rebel in your teen years, you tried<br />

to have a boring non-music related life to<br />

reject your parents.<br />

JILL<br />

Ok, sure. Somehow, Jac, my sister did.<br />

MARTIN<br />

Wait, your sister's name is Jac?<br />

JILL<br />

With a C and no K.<br />

MARTIN<br />

Sorry, wait, hold on, if your name is Jill, and<br />

your sister is Jac, then…<br />

JILL<br />

What?<br />

MARTIN<br />

You’re Jack and Jill?<br />

JILL<br />

Well, our full names aren’t Jac and Jill.<br />

MARTIN<br />

Jillian and Jaqueline?<br />

JILL<br />

No, Jilliard and Juaquina. What about it?<br />

MARTIN<br />

You have no right to criticize anyone’s name.<br />

Anyway.<br />

JILL<br />

I thought we were talking about you…<br />

Something tells me you don’t want to date a<br />

woman.<br />

MARTIN<br />

What?<br />

JILL<br />

Like a real woman. You created this entire<br />

affair with the bride in your head.<br />

MARTIN<br />

No, there was something.<br />

JILL<br />

She needed a friend and she found one, you.<br />

A friend, a person she could talk to, and<br />

you were there, that’s it, that’s your entire<br />

connection.<br />

MARTIN<br />

You weren’t there.<br />

JILL<br />

I didn’t have to be, you’re such a prolific<br />

storyteller. You didn’t even love her.<br />

MARTIN<br />

Stop.<br />

JILL<br />

You loved her achievements, her aesthetic--the<br />

idea of her.<br />

MARTIN<br />

You weren’t there, you didn’t see us together.<br />


Script<br />

JILL<br />

Fine, then tell me something about her.<br />

What’s her favorite song, better yet, what’s<br />

one from a band she loves but always skips<br />

because it's “not as good as the rest of the<br />

album”? When was the first time she got<br />

drunk? Who’s her favorite co-worker?<br />

What’s one thing that is unique to her and<br />

only her?<br />

MARTIN<br />

She used to do ballet; she was good enough<br />

to go pro. She was the salutatorian of her<br />

high school. She--<br />

JILL<br />

Don’t give me her resume, give me a reason,<br />

anything! I think I’ve figured you out. You<br />

chase these dream girls that don’t exist, and<br />

when they can’t save you or be the perfect<br />

mold of a woman you thought they were<br />

going to be, you chase the next one. You<br />

build beautiful pedestals for these girls and<br />

worship at the base until one day they deign<br />

to talk to you or fuck you, or whatever you<br />

want from them.<br />

MARTIN<br />

You have no idea what you’re talking about.<br />

You don’t know me! Maybe you just didn’t<br />

have a good example of love growing up. My<br />

parents were perfect.<br />

JILL<br />

(Scoffs)<br />

Right.<br />

MARTIN<br />

They were. My dad would always open<br />

doors for my mom. We always had dinner together.<br />

They would never fight around me.<br />

JILL<br />

What, so… Just ‘cause my parents fought and<br />

divorced means I’m incapable of love?<br />

MARTIN<br />

No, maybe it means that you're just skewed.<br />

JILL<br />

I’m skewed? Well, I’m sorry, my parents<br />

weren’t some Leave It to Beaver wet dream<br />

but actual human beings who screamed in<br />

the street at 2 a.m. over who got the Mazda.<br />

At least I got two Christmases.<br />

MARTIN<br />

No, that’s not what I mean. I just mean, you<br />

need to find the things you want. Take my<br />

dad, he would always buy two perfumes for<br />

my mom. I mean the fact that he would buy<br />

her perfume in the first place--<br />

JILL<br />

Wait--Two perfumes?<br />

MARTIN<br />

Yeah, in case she ran out.<br />

JILL<br />

He was buying a second perfume…for his<br />

mistress.<br />

MARTIN<br />

Now you’re being delusional.<br />

JILL<br />

It's true. Men do that so they won't come<br />

home smelling like another woman. No one<br />

goes through perfume that quickly. Would<br />

he ever buy two bottles in front of her?<br />

MARTIN<br />

No, no it doesn’t. I--<br />

(Realizes)<br />

JILL<br />

Did he have two credit cards?<br />


Script<br />

MARTIN<br />

How would I--<br />

JILL<br />

Did your parents suddenly stop acknowledging<br />

each other?<br />

MARTIN<br />

What?<br />

JILL<br />

Did your dad suddenly take more interest<br />

in his appearance out of nowhere? Did your<br />

mother suddenly start spending more time<br />

with the 25-year-old gardener?<br />

MARTIN<br />

Stop.<br />

JILL<br />

Here’s a good one, did your dad start telling<br />

your mom he would be out with a coworker<br />

named Chris, or Alex, or Jo. Which you later<br />

realized could be short for girls' names.<br />

MARTIN<br />

That’s enough! You know, since you have<br />

such a high moral opinion of yourself, tell<br />

me. Are you happy?<br />

JILL<br />

Happiness doesn’t exist. You can’t chase a<br />

feeling.<br />

MARTIN<br />

Contentment does, are you content? What<br />

are you protecting yourself from by detaching<br />

yourself? Turning out like your parents?<br />

Well, I’m sorry to be the one to tell you, but<br />

you’re a musician living in Nowhere, USA.<br />

JILL<br />

At least I’m not delusional.<br />

MARTIN<br />

Maybe if you felt something every now and<br />

again you could sympathize.<br />

JILL<br />

Maybe if you self-reflected you could be<br />

something more.<br />

MARTIN<br />

What if your parents didn’t care what you<br />

became, as long as you were happy?<br />

JILL<br />

I’m sure they wouldn’t want me to turn out<br />

like them.<br />

MARTIN<br />

What? Fulfilled?<br />

JILL<br />

How do you know my parents are content?<br />

MARTIN<br />

Well, from what you can see, are they?<br />

JILL<br />

I don’t know. They never complained.<br />

They were much happier when they split,<br />

although they were still in a band together.<br />

Overly emotional people. A bit like you<br />

actually.<br />

MARTIN<br />

Strange they produced such a detached<br />

daughter.<br />

JILL<br />

Produced, really dude?<br />

MARTIN<br />

You know what I mean. You’re just so…<br />

Emotionally constipated. (Jill looks made<br />

for a moment before she starts quietly<br />

laughing, Martin cracks a smile)<br />

JILL<br />

(She covers her face and sits)<br />

Emotionally constipated? Your word choice<br />

today, man.<br />


Script<br />

I hope you’re not using anything like that in<br />

your speech.<br />

(A quiet moment passes. Martin sits with<br />

his face in his hands. Jill takes a deep<br />

breath. She looks at Martin with pity,<br />

then compassion. She looks at the floor<br />

while speaking.)<br />

I’m in too deep. If I start to feel… everything,<br />

25 years of emotions… It’s over. I wouldn’t<br />

be getting anything done, I'd just be dealing,<br />

coping--self-medicating, probably.<br />

MARTIN<br />

Then don’t feel everything now. Let emotions<br />

come when they do, and if they bring<br />

up the past, let them. You can’t be a real<br />

person without your feelings. Sorry, that was<br />

a dumb way to put that.<br />

JILL<br />

I think that’s the most cohesive thing you<br />

have said, but the opposite could be said<br />

about you. I don’t think you’re delusional.<br />

Naïve yes, but not delusional.<br />

(They both half smile at each other before<br />

sinking into themselves again. Martin<br />

covers his face with his hands. Jill reaches<br />

her arm out and awkwardly pats his<br />

shoulder. When he looks at her, she quickly<br />

stops.)<br />

MARTIN<br />

I thought I’d be married by now.<br />

JILL<br />

I thought I’d be in law school by now.<br />

MARTIN<br />

I guess we both failed.<br />

JILL<br />

Jesus, we’re too young to talk like this. Do<br />

you have any of that liquor left?<br />

(Martin passes her the small bottle)<br />

MARTIN<br />

It’s too late to do anything about it now.<br />

JILL<br />

Think of it this way, with all your issues, sorry,<br />

but you would be on your way to divorce.<br />

And with my mess, I would be on my way to<br />

a courtroom breakdown.<br />

MARTIN<br />

Probably while working on my divorce.<br />

JILL<br />

Probably.<br />

MARTIN<br />

Are you saying we weren’t cut out for the<br />

lives we thought we wanted?<br />

JILL<br />

No. Yes? No. I’m saying we tried to design<br />

lives for people we thought we were, not<br />

who we actually are.<br />

MARTIN<br />

Do you know who you are?<br />

JILL<br />

No, do you?<br />

MARTIN<br />

Absolutely not. We just… have to keep failing<br />

I guess.<br />

JILL<br />

I guess. It would’ve been pretty funny to<br />

watch you stop the wedding on the basis of<br />

your one-sided relationship.<br />

MARTIN<br />

(Laughs)<br />


Script<br />

It would’ve been. Great story, too.<br />

(Laughing dies down)<br />

We could die in this elevator.<br />

JILL<br />

That’s a wonderful thought. If we do, do<br />

you have any regrets?<br />

MARTIN<br />

Not taking the stairs.<br />

JILL<br />

Like actually, what do you regret?<br />

MARTIN<br />

Hating myself for so long. It was exhausting<br />

and only a little justified.<br />

JILL<br />

When this elevator works again, and you<br />

have to be up at that altar next to the happy<br />

couple, what are you going to do?<br />

Blackout.<br />

•<br />


Meeting You<br />

By Jade Ramos<br />

Meeting You 1<br />

Meeting You 2<br />

Fluttering heartbeats and shining eyes<br />

stealing quick glances of you,<br />

ecstatic when our fingers intertwined<br />

Pulling you closer, closer<br />

You pull me closer still<br />

I can barely keep my gaze on you<br />

flashes of smiles I fantasize<br />

Who are you?<br />

Your body is so warm as I hold it to mine<br />

Our words dance between us<br />

Our thoughts fill the sky<br />

You bought me ice cream and it tastes sweeter<br />

now<br />

I think I like you a lot<br />

the warmth that curls through my cheeks<br />

I reach out and you take my hand<br />

Fresh innocence and care is all we’ve got<br />

Your web has me but it doesn’t matter<br />

I’ve fallen and so luckily been caught<br />

Pounding heartbeats and glistening eyes<br />

tears blurring my image of you,<br />

fingers clutching my chest as I cry<br />

Get away from me<br />

You pull me closer still<br />

I want to forget you now<br />

dark clouds raining down your lies<br />

Who are you?<br />

My body is cold as you still fill my mind<br />

Your words are flat now<br />

Your thoughts I couldn’t surmise<br />

The sweet memories rot and decay to dust<br />

I think you horrify me<br />

my guts tearing themselves out in bloody yanks<br />

You reach out but I want to run away<br />

Ears stinging with each sharp plea<br />

The little bug feels the web quiver<br />

bubbling in false rage<br />

I want to leave<br />


Poetry I<br />

Meeting You 3<br />

Nervous heartbeats and tired eyes<br />

we look different now,<br />

fingers dancing together and apart<br />

I catch your warm hand<br />

You follow my lead<br />

I look steadily at your face<br />

lines of pain softened by time<br />

I’m starting to know you.<br />

And I know that tears do dry<br />

And words can be melody<br />

Our thoughts unified as we try--<br />

Don’t forget--but the future is sweeter now<br />

It takes a lot to rebuild trust<br />

weeks and months of persistence our testament<br />

You loosen your grip but I choose to stay<br />

We know there’s so much to discuss<br />

No spells or webs, but magic nonetheless<br />

borne from our hope in us •<br />


Collectables<br />

By Margaret Kovick<br />

The smoke unfurls above me in wispy grey clouds. I watch it as it separates and rejoins itself, twisting<br />

and twirling like old-fashioned ribbon candy. I think now that I have never seen something so magical.<br />

The vibration of the music seeps into my bones. It comes in waves, flooding the trailer all at once, and<br />

then recedes, dissipating into hollow vocals and synthesized angst. It’s Pink Floyd. Something from<br />

Wish You Were Here, but I don’t remember the name of the song. It is sad, and a bit angry.<br />

I should be on drugs, I think. It feels like I’m on drugs.<br />

But I’m not. I swear I’m not on anything. I’m comically sober considering where I am and the types of<br />

people who usually find themselves here.<br />

I am not alone here. (I’ll call him Freddy) is standing in the corner of the room, where a plywood<br />

counter with peeling paint meets a rusty Coleman stove. Above him, a wood plank of a shelf holds<br />

bottle upon bottle of unopened Kraken. The bottles are black and glossy and full. There must be at<br />

least twenty of them. Who in the world needs that much rum, I don’t know. But Freddy doesn’t. I<br />

have never seen Freddy drink Kraken. I think that’s why I’ve always felt safe here. This is the home of<br />

someone who knows self-control.<br />

Lost in smoke and a second-hand high, I don’t ask why he bothers to have a Kraken collection. If I did,<br />

maybe he would tell me the truth. That he is a trophy collector. He likes pretty things, slightly dangerous<br />

things, things that give him an air of mystique and depth. And he likes to show them off.<br />


Non-Fiction<br />

The content of the things matters less than their appearance. If he wanted to drink the Kraken, surely<br />

he would have by now.<br />

He once said to me, “you wouldn’t be here if I didn’t find you attractive.”<br />

I think most people would take that personally, but I didn’t. I got it. It was honest.<br />

At the time, I told him I understood. “You have to have pretty friends,” I said, “just in case it turns<br />

into something else.”<br />

He smiled at me. “Exactly.”<br />

Now, I’m lying on the couch next to him. We are two leftover Tetris pieces that cannot fit together,<br />

but make a twisted sort of sense side-by-side. He’s smoking a joint. Its paper body rests obediently<br />

between his weathered fingers, quietly smoldering until he brings it to his lips and it burns deep red.<br />

Running his fingers through his thick black hair, he asks, not for the first time, “How did we get ourselves<br />

into this mess, Maggie?”<br />

“Don’t blame me,” I say, “I just sell tea.”<br />

I don’t look away from the smoke.<br />

“Yeah, yeah, always miss innocent,” he says. He has a subtle Puerto Rican accent that I once found<br />

endearing.<br />

“Yeah.”<br />

I know how it happened. It happened the way it happened before, the way I hoped it wouldn’t.<br />

I let it.<br />


Non-Fiction<br />

I don’t say that as in oh, I was so swept off my feet I just couldn’t control myself, I say it as in, when he<br />

told me he wanted more than friendship, part of me had hoped he’d take it back--that he’d keep me at<br />

arm’s length as his shy, blonde friend. But when he didn’t, I found myself saying I did too. I was flattered.<br />

It’s flattering when a good-looking, smart, funny, good-reputation-holding, older (much older)<br />

man wants to spend time with you. That is why I say I let it happen. Because I knew it would. I just<br />

didn’t want to believe it would. This was supposed to be a person who knew self-control.<br />

After we kissed, all I could see was a fluorescent number “40” flashing feverishly above his head. I had<br />

thought it didn’t bother me. I had thought I was genuinely attracted to him. I did like Freddy. He was<br />

sweet, annoyingly generous, and always smelled like dark chocolate or myrrh or some rich, exotic spice<br />

I couldn’t place. But I was eighteen and I didn’t know what the hell I was doing.<br />

I thought I had stumbled into a lifelong friendship. We had been honest with each other. He was<br />

afraid his almost-sort-of-girlfriend was going to leave him, I was in the process of breaking up with my<br />

first real boyfriend. I told him that I wanted to travel to Sweden. He told me that he wanted to start<br />

a shoe-shining business for renaissance faires like this one. I told him that I couldn’t stand my sister’s<br />

boyfriend. He told me I wasn’t as pretty as my sister, but only when I asked. He was right. Honesty.<br />

Blatant, fine, new.<br />

There was that day we walked through the woods behind the faire site together, climbing over boulders<br />

and talking about bears. It was seamless.<br />

But the friendship I had thought was going absolutely swimmingly turned on a dime when Freddy’s<br />

almost-sort-of-girlfriend packed her bags, left the faire, and left New York. And then it wasn’t about<br />

self-control. It was about clinging to a confused possibility.<br />

There had been a point, a few weeks earlier, when he kissed me on the cheek and I felt my entire body<br />

ignite. It was an empty kiss, a platonic kiss, a small goodbye gesture after stopping by my booth to<br />

chat about nothing in particular. I had silently thanked god that Freddy was in love with someone else<br />

because otherwise, the potentiality for messiness was unquestionably high.<br />


Non-Fiction<br />

And then, suddenly, he wasn’t. And I became something else. Something new and shiny moved like a<br />

chess piece to the forefront of a game I thought we had agreed not to play.<br />

He had told me, “Every guy you meet will see you as a conquest. He won’t be able to help it. It’s instinct.<br />

No matter who you are as a person, he’ll see you as an attractive young woman.”<br />

I didn’t want to believe that. I don’t believe that.<br />

Now, I stare at the Kraken bottles. Under the yellow trailer lights, I see that a faint layer of dust has<br />

collected on their necks. And I wonder how long they’ve been here, and about the small, trapped,<br />

useless life they’ve had.<br />

Freddy knocks the last bit of ash off the joint and into a coffee mug. The smoke has nearly cleared. I sit<br />

up, suddenly.<br />

“I’m going home,” I say. “It’s getting late.” •<br />


John Henry Totter<br />

By Meg Gephart<br />

The memory that sticks in my head is not when I saw him three weeks ago or at big holidays.<br />

Instead, it is a small moment from over a decade ago when he came to visit and helped me make my<br />

bed. He told me that, in the Navy, they had to make their beds so that a person could bounce a coin<br />

off of the sheets. This filled my childish heart with delight, and we spent a while bouncing coins off<br />

my bed, laughing while he told me stories about his days in the Navy. The relationship between a<br />

grandfather and granddaughter can be one of the most precious in a person’s life. That is how it was<br />

for me. Time is a tricky thing, and you always think that you have more of it.<br />

I received the news standing on the side of the street, waiting for the bus. No warning, no<br />

preparation. Simply an incredulous, “What?” Then, the disbelief and the horror and the panic of<br />

knowing that I’ll never see him again set in. Memories flooded in all at once—the anthology of stories<br />

that depicted almost twenty-two years of adventures and laughter and mornings around the breakfast<br />

table fighting over the last crumb bun. Now those moments were gone and I was left with the guilt<br />

of being thousands of miles away. But I knew he would understand. He didn’t want us to make a fuss<br />

anyway. He didn’t even want an obituary.<br />

My sister and I watched the funeral over livestream. We had a bird’s eye view of the simple<br />

coffin that my carpenter grandad would have loved, as it was carried in and set in the center of the aisle.<br />

Our family followed behind it, each laying a hand on the top—the last physical connection anyone<br />

would have with him. No one wore traditional black. Much like my grandmother, he would have<br />

wanted everyone to dress brightly at his funeral. I watched my usually stoic father choke up while<br />

reading a passage from The Book of Sirach about great friendship. My uncle played a moving piece on<br />

the piano in my grandad’s honor. It sounded like him. The service was over quickly--far too quickly<br />

for someone who had such a massive impact on the lives of so many other people.<br />


Non-Fiction<br />

I watched the procession carry the coffin back out of the church. I said my goodbyes through<br />

the screen and sat in numb silence for a while. The reception after the funeral was more like a party.<br />

My sister and I were carted around on my mother’s phone between different family members, replying<br />

to questions. Everyone kept saying to us, “He was so proud of you girls. He loved you so much.”<br />

My grandad was a devout Catholic. He attended the 7:30 a.m. mass every single day until his<br />

death. The last time I saw him was the day before I flew back to Rome. He was very excited for me and<br />

jokingly told me to say hi to the Pope for him. Of course that was a rather impossible feat, but three<br />

days after the funeral off to the Vatican I went. I didn’t see the Pope, but I was able to feel a little bit<br />

closer to my grandad. While in the San Pietro Basilica, a mass started, and the halls were filled by music<br />

perfectly supported by the acoustics. It was enough to stop anyone in their tracks. As I looked around<br />

at the splendor of San Pietro while mesmerized by the music, I found some peace. I was as close to my<br />

grandad as I could possibly be without going back to the United States. In those halls, I found a bit of<br />

closure, yet something was still missing.<br />

I was haunted by the lack of the physical goodbye that I would have received at the funeral.<br />

I needed to heal--at least a little--rather than be consumed by memories and the guilt that I wasn’t<br />

there. My grandad kept his word no matter what and was always there for all of us. He was the one<br />

who found and lugged a massive antique desk up a two-hundred-year-old staircase because I didn’t<br />

have one. He kept a tape in the cassette player for years because I listened to it every time I visited. He<br />

would send cards every holiday and birthday no matter what. The year I lived in Spain, he looked all<br />

over Long Island to find a Christmas card in Spanish. I’ll miss receiving those cards, seeing his handwriting<br />

on the envelope. How could I say goodbye to all of that?<br />

In the early hours of February ninth, I had a dream. My grandad came to visit my apartment.<br />

He sat and talked to me for a while. When he stood up, I got to hug him and feel my arms wrap<br />

around him and his around me, and to say my goodbyes. His last words to me were, “I love you, goodbye.”<br />

•<br />


Panagiri Under the Stars<br />

By Alyssa Pasvantis<br />

“Are we hugging?” Ana asked.<br />

We hadn’t seen each other in a year and a half.<br />

“Umm…” I hesitated, as about a million thoughts ran through my head. Is it safe? I’m wearing<br />

a mask. That should be enough. But is it taboo nowadays? It used to be that we hugged and kissed each<br />

other on both cheeks without even thinking about germs. Is she asking because she’s hugging?<br />

“Yes?” I said, but didn’t move forward.<br />

Thankfully, Ana did. It was a loose hug--no kisses--but it was something. I was grateful for<br />

this small bit of contact with a girl who had become like a sister to me after almost twenty years of<br />

growing up in the same church community. Ana was part of my parea, the affectionate Greek term for<br />

a small group of friends. There were about eleven of us who had met as babies in strollers, pushed by<br />

our mothers into St. George Greek Orthodox Church every Sunday morning. As soon as we learned<br />

to walk and talk, our parents added Friday night Greek language school to our schedules. By the time<br />

we were in high school, we were spending entire weekends together. Greek folk dance practice took<br />

up Saturday mornings and was followed by car washes, bake sales, or Domino’s pizza fundraisers for<br />

our costume and music fees. Though we hadn’t chosen these activities, eventually, we all grew to enjoy<br />

them--especially the dancing. We began to feel that we belonged together, no matter how different we<br />

were as individuals outside of the Greek community. Our connection had fueled our frequent visits to<br />

the church after we graduated high school, for holidays and festivals like the one we were at tonight.<br />

Tonight, the beloved “Panagiri Under the Stars” was finally making its post-lockdown comeback.<br />

“Come on, Alex is over here,” Ana guided me over to Alex, another adopted older sister. She<br />

was standing near a large wooden table covered with a blue and white tablecloth. When she asked "Are<br />

we hugging?" I was slightly more prepared and my hesitant "Yes?" came out faster. I had hoped the<br />


Non-Fiction<br />

initial discomfort would subside as we exchanged “I missed you”s and began catching up on what we<br />

had been doing over the last year and a half of the pandemic. However, about ten minutes into our<br />

conversation, excitement faded into awkward stares, and somehow we fell into silence like strangers<br />

seated together at a wedding.<br />

For all of our lives, we had taken for granted how easy it was to stay connected by staying<br />

involved in the church. When the COVID-19 virus confined Christmas service to a broadcast on<br />

television and reduced birthday celebrations to cake emojis sent over text, we were unprepared for how<br />

quickly our circle broke apart.<br />

Now, reunited, the only relief from silence was Alex’s suggestion that we all get drinks. While<br />

standing in line at the bar, I tried tossing out old lines of conversation, hoping someone would bite. I<br />

asked the once boy-crazy Ana if she was dating anyone.<br />

“No,” she replied, “you know how it is. It’s the same old, same old.”<br />

But I didn’t know. Had the “same old” changed in the past year and a half? I waited to see if<br />

she would elaborate, feeling somewhat guilty that I didn’t know whether pre-lockdown Ana was the<br />

same as post-lockdown Ana. She looked mostly the same, but with a slightly shorter haircut and a new<br />

pink bag to fit with the fast-fashion trends she had always loved following. There was a big blank space<br />

in my perception of Ana then and Ana now, and I didn’t have the evidence to judge whether she was<br />

as unchanged as her appearance suggested.<br />

She didn’t give me an answer, but, luckily, our friend Panagioti found us before we returned to<br />

waiting in silence.<br />

“Excuse me! You’re too young for that!” Panagioti exclaimed as he playfully grabbed the<br />

Mythos the bartender just served me out of my hand.<br />

“I’m 21!” I countered, not realizing this information was front-page news.<br />

Alex, Ana, and Panagioti all looked shocked, and the quiet quickly transformed into a cacophony<br />

of unbelieving “No way”s and “Wow, the time has really passed”s. It felt a bit like I was among<br />

older siblings who never got to see me grow up, and, for a second, I felt pulled in two directions. Was<br />

I the nineteen-year-old girl just beginning college that they obviously remembered so vividly? Or did I<br />

have to prove that I had become someone else?<br />

Uncertainty about my own identity was replaced with uncertainty about my friends’ identities<br />

over and over again throughout the night. I repeatedly had to explain the change in my age, college<br />

major, and career goals in response to every incredulous look. As the night went on, I even began to<br />


Non-Fiction<br />

question my memories and past judgments of our shared past. George, the goofball party animal who<br />

couldn’t have cared less about homework in high school, was moving back home from his big state<br />

college in the hopes of becoming a doctor. The transition had been gradual for him but absolutely jarring<br />

for me--he had told me a year-long story in the time it took for me to spread a little extra tzatziki<br />

on my souvlaki sandwich.<br />

Just as jolting was the realization that during our separation, all of our paths had diverged.<br />

We had transitioned from high school to college together, cushioned by church events, but we had<br />

been moving into the real world of careers, serious relationships, and ever-increasing responsibilities<br />

in almost complete obliviousness to each other’s lives. Now, as we were passing tomato salad around a<br />

table lit by artificial stars, we began to rediscover each other. The silence was overtaken by spurts of excited<br />

conversation and halting moments of contemplation. As more members of the group joined our<br />

table, there were more people to break the silence when others ran into the roadblock of not knowing<br />

what to say. Gradually, as our entire parea reassembled, the evening inched towards what old times<br />

had been like.<br />

The phantom of COVID-19 grew fainter as the beating of the drums and strums of the<br />

bouzouki grew louder and we made our way onto the dance floor. We formed a semi-circle and joined<br />

hands as we moved from the Kalamatianos to the Tsamiko and Zeibekiko. We expressed our joy and<br />

passion through these dances just as Greeks have done for thousands of years. However, the phantom<br />

did not completely disappear--at least in my mind. Though we danced like we always had, the rest of<br />

the evening had been very different. I wondered if when the music stopped we would return to hesitant<br />

conversation and our now seemingly separate existences. Looking down at our string of connected<br />

hands, it seemed as if our culture and the church were the only threads tying us together. With a<br />

pang of sadness, I wondered if the pandemic had created a sharp enough shear to sever those threads. •<br />


If I'm Being Honest<br />

By Autumn McIntyre<br />

My obsession with my physical appearance began when I was twelve. The history is long,<br />

boring, and frankly, upsetting. My mother always told me that I needed to lose weight, my extended<br />

family told me I’d be prettier if I lost ten pounds, and I generally despised the body that I saw in the<br />

mirror. Eight years of self-hatred later, I discovered that starvation was the only thing that stopped the<br />

nagging in my head.<br />

So please don’t ask me why I can’t eat because I don’t know. If I did, I wouldn’t be skipping<br />

meals. The part of my brain telling me to starve myself is a lot stronger than the part telling me to stop.<br />

I began intermittent fasting in spring 2021, as a sophomore in college. I only ate between the<br />

hours of two in the afternoon and eight at night. I liked the result I saw in the first half of the day – a<br />

flat stomach. But, after I ate lunch, my stomach would protrude out of my skirt or high waisted jeans.<br />

I started limiting my lunch and dinner portions…then I stopped eating lunch…then I’d only eat half a<br />

plate of food for dinner.<br />

When I arrived home for summer break, my mother told me that I looked good. Initially, I was<br />

proud. Throughout my eating disorder, I felt like I was doing something right. As if I received a gold<br />

sticker for each meal I skipped. This pride increased when my mother validated my appearance, but<br />

that made me realize that I looked good because of the deterioration of my health.<br />

This led to a summer- long journey of mental tug-of-war: between my unhealthy habits and<br />

my desire to get better. Eventually, recovery won and I started eating small lunches. I consumed foods<br />

that wouldn’t make me feel guilty, like eggs, vegetables, and chicken. I told myself that I needed to eat<br />

– in the summer I worked forty hours a week in retail.<br />

I was still obsessed with my body but, hey, at least I was eating. That had to count for something.<br />

I ate regularly during this last semester as well. I was making progress.<br />


Non-Fiction<br />

Until I relapsed during winter break.<br />

The old habits came back like an old friend and I embraced them in a warm hug. I knew exactly<br />

what to do this time because I had learned from my past failure.<br />

During break I worked five days a week, from five in the morning to two in the afternoon. I<br />

skipped breakfast then I ate an orange and a protein bar for lunch. When I got home, I’d run on the<br />

elliptical for thirty to forty-five minutes and then I’d weight- train for another thirty to forty-five minutes.<br />

My mother regularly cooks Asian food for dinner. It’s dense with veggies and meat, but also<br />

contains a lot of sodium and fattening foods like rice and noodles. I ate them anyway. My mother<br />

would have become suspicious if I had stopped eating her food. And I told myself it was okay to eat<br />

those dinners because, withwork and exercise, I burned more calories than I consumed.<br />

I made sure that I ate … slowly. I read online that it helps with bloating and that it's better to chew<br />

your food fifteen to twenty times. It should take at least thirty minutes to finish a meal, and one<br />

should stop eating before feeling full.<br />

I had to adjust my habits when I returned to school in January. My class schedule was packed,<br />

and I couldn’t exercise like I used to. I’m also not on my feet as much as I was.<br />

But I can starve myself to make up for it.<br />

Here’s what it’s like:<br />

I don’t eat breakfast and I don’t eat lunch. I might eat an apple around ten in the morning,<br />

but I try to avoid doing that. I usually just drink a lot of water to fill me up.<br />

My first ‘meal’ of the day – the only thing I allow myself to eat besides dinner – is a small container<br />

of yogurt. I buy plain Greek yogurt because flavored yogurt has more sugar. More sugar means more<br />

calories.<br />

I take over an hour to eat the yogurt. My friends laugh because it looks ridiculous. Objectively,<br />

this habit is funny. And I get it. I laugh along and pretend that I take ages to eat yogurt because I’m<br />

weird, and not because of my eating disorder.<br />

I cook Asian food for dinner. Although Asian food relies on vegetables and meat, it also contains<br />

noodles and white rice. But I’ve swapped ramen or udon noodles for buckwheat noodles, and<br />

white rice for brown rice.<br />

Sometimes I don’t like eating a full plate of dinner and I want to cut back. But I tell myself<br />

that it’s okay. I’m starving myself the next day to make up for it anyway.<br />


Non-Fiction<br />

I'd rather not eat than overeat. It’s easier to have positive thoughts surrounding starvation<br />

than negative ones around my body.<br />

I don’t want to get help. I don’t want to tell my friends about this. I don’t want anyone to ask<br />

me if I’m okay because I’m obviously not. I can’t give anyone the explanations they want, and I don’t<br />

want their pity. I don’t want them to think that they have to walk on thin ice if they mention food or<br />

going out to eat. I don’t want my eating habits to be monitored and discussed. I have no interest in<br />

announcing to everyone: “hey, guess what? I have an eating disorder! My favorite pastime is starvation,<br />

what’s yours?”<br />

I don’t want to explain what’s going on in my head because I … don’t … know. I don’t think<br />

that what I’m doing is actually bad because I feel fine.<br />

I’m in control.<br />

Reaching out means I have to get better, and to be honest, I don’t want to get better.<br />

I just want to lose twenty pounds. •<br />


Letters to Julia<br />

By Julia Eisen<br />

Dear 16-year-old me,<br />

Hello! It’s me. Your young self. I am 5 years old. I live with Mom, Dad, Elena, and baby sister Leia. She<br />

cries a lot. I hope she stops crying soon. Elena and I can’t watch TV when she cries. She is loud. How<br />

are you? What did you do today? Are you still in Ohio? I hope you are happy. I hope Leia is happy<br />

and is fun to play with too. Elena is my best friend. Besides Olivia and Anna. How are they? Anna’s<br />

brother opened the door for me today at school. That was nice of him. I hope you have a boyfriend.<br />

I hope he is cute like Zack Martin. I love Suite Life of Zack and Cody. Do you still like to play? My<br />

favorite to play is pretend camping with Elena and dolls. I like the Barbie Mermaidia barbie that I play<br />

in the bath. How is school? Are you smart? I am smart in class. I sit at the yellow table and everyone<br />

knows the yellow table is the smart table. How is Mom, Dad, Elena, Leia, Grandma Betty, Uncle<br />

Doug, Uncle Dennis, Uncle Martin, Uncle Matthew, Aunt Anna, Uncle John, Josh and Alie? How is<br />

Grandaddy Joe, Grandma Sharon, Aunt Laura, Aunt Kenna, Uncle Shoe, and Uncle Joe? I hope they<br />

are happy too.<br />

From,<br />

5-year-old me<br />

Dear 17-year-old me,<br />

What’s high school like? Will it be any different from middle school? I see some of the popular girls<br />

already going to football games and meeting people from other schools. Will I do that? I want to be<br />


Non-Fiction<br />

popular. It looks like more fun. I like my friends, but they could be cooler. Elena has more friends<br />

than me – I can tell she will be popular. Already in 6th grade she has a boyfriend. Do I at least get a<br />

boyfriend in high school? What’s driving like? Do you drink? I don’t think I want to drink until I’m<br />

legal. What’s the worst thing you’ve ever done? Do you feel like you’re finally cool? Do you hang out<br />

with some of the popular girls? Ugh, I wish I had a crystal ball to see what my life will be like. I get so<br />

worried about my future. I don’t really know what I want to do with my life. Should I know that by<br />

now? I just want to know that it gets better!!<br />

Love,<br />

13-year-old me<br />

Dear 36-year-old me,<br />

I hope your adult life is as great as mine is right now. I had the best first semester of college. Winter<br />

break is almost over, and I can’t wait to go back to campus and see my friends. I think 2020 is going<br />

to be a good year! Sometimes I do miss high school, though. Looking back now, I wish I had been<br />

more confident. I spent most of those years feeling like a burden to everyone I met. I didn't meet good<br />

people until the end, and I wish we could’ve had more time. But now I have a friend group I really<br />

love. Every day we spend hours in each other's rooms, talking nonsense and watching movies. There’s<br />

Cailin, Joe, Luca, Erick, and of course Margot. She is the perfect roommate and my best friend. Also…<br />

I don’t know what will happen with Adam, but I hope our friendship turns into something special. I<br />

really like him. I can’t believe how fast my life has changed in just a few months. Does it stay this good?<br />

What are your favorite memories from college? Which semester will be the best? I hope things stay<br />

the same in the next few years, or that they get better. I’m having so much fun going out to bars and<br />

parties with my friends. I can’t wait to get back to campus and have many more drunken nights,<br />

singing at the top of my lungs to the Jonas Brothers and Taylor Swift--and ravaging chicken tenders<br />

afterwards. Is it weird that I oddly miss the dining hall food?<br />

What did you end up doing with your Journalism degree? I think I want to go into broadcasting and<br />

be an anchor, but that might change. There are times when I second guess my decision--I worry about<br />

my future. When that happens, I have to remind myself that I’m doing my best.<br />


Non-Fiction<br />

I wish we could have a face-to-face conversation--I want to hear everything. Where do you live? What<br />

does a perfect day look like for you? What do you do for fun? For now, a letter will have to do.<br />

Best,<br />

18-year-old me<br />

Dear 10-year-old me,<br />

A lot is changing for you right now, but I don’t think you realize that yet. You moved all the way to<br />

New Mexico after living in Malaysia for three years! It was a huge culture shift, but you adjusted well.<br />

Most people don’t even move out of the state they were born in. You made great friends in Malaysia<br />

and it was hard to say goodbye. I hope you cherish the memories you made there because that’s the<br />

last time you’ll live abroad for awhile. You’ll get used to that in the future when your family moves<br />

away from you.<br />

I love that you still love to play pretend: that you walk around the neighborhood hoping that a prince<br />

(or Edward Cullen) finds you, that you imagine you’re in District 12 when Dad whistles from the<br />

dining room, that you think you will sprout a tail and turn into a mermaid the minute water touches<br />

your body. One time, Elena caught you flapping around and laughed. Now, she and I remember that<br />

moment, and even though it was embarrassing, I love that you are so creative.<br />

My biggest question to you is… what do you think is going to happen in the next 10 years? I wish I<br />

could remember what I thought my life would be before it actually unfolded; before middle school<br />

drama, before I started dating, before the fall-outs and reconnections. My days are now filled with<br />

internship applications and assignment deadlines. I just miss your freedom. This might sound scary,<br />

but I want you to know everything will be okay. You even end up finding your prince!<br />

Please take care of yourself. Take care of your family. Hug Leia for me. I wish I could hug 5-year-old<br />

Leia right now.<br />

With all my love,<br />

19-year-old me<br />


Non-Fiction<br />

Dear 20-year-old me,<br />

Hey. It’s me. I’m so glad that you’re living abroad again. Covid has been hard for a multitude of reasons,<br />

but you know that already. Travelling and living in Europe has been the thrill of a lifetime. Even<br />

though this is a special experience, it’s still hard. You’re meeting new people and adjusting to roommate<br />

dynamics. You miss your family. You miss Adam, your friends, and your old life. But what did<br />

you really leave behind? Another happy hour at the rundown college bar? Going to sweaty, dark frat<br />

parties where they constantly play the same music? You’re in Rome, for god's sake. Yet sometimes, you<br />

can’t help but reminisce on the past.<br />

You miss the playfulness, the innocence. You no longer dream up scenarios of teenage heartthrobs<br />

finding you in a crowd and taking you backstage– unless it’s Harry Styles. Your daydreams are more<br />

realistic now: will you have a well-paying, secure job? Will you be living with someone you love? Will<br />

you still hang out with your college friends?<br />

You need to stop thinking about the future and take a deep breath. I am thankful that you have<br />

taken this leap of faith and set out on a new adventure. Cozy up in the uncomfortable single bed<br />

with scratchy linen sheets. Relish it all. Turn to your roommate and say, “Isn’t it so crazy that we’re<br />

in Rome?” Because it is crazy, and you made this happen. I know that, one day, you’ll look back on<br />

this moment of your life with the same affection as your first semester of college. These days, months,<br />

years--they will all turn into snippets of time that you can fondly look back on and appreciate.<br />

Lovingly,<br />

20-year-old me •<br />


Balconies<br />

By Madison Walters<br />

The woman with gray hair tends to her plants. The younger woman in a pink hoodie smokes a<br />

cigarette. The girl my age folds her laundry. The curly-headed man wearing a sweat suit is also smoking<br />

a cigarette. The man who appears to be in his thirties cleans his glass door. Then there’s me, reading a<br />

book. One thing connects us all: our balconies.<br />

Though we don’t know each other, I’d like to think we have a few things in common–a love<br />

for the pigeons that incessantly coo, a dry amusement for the little yappy dog who screeches happily<br />

anytime his owner takes him for a walk, a fondness for the chilly yet welcome breeze that blows<br />

through our hair, a hopeless weakness for the city sounds that only the bravest will own up to enjoying.<br />

It’s not home, but it’s the closest to one that I’ve ever gotten. These are my neighbors.<br />

Vivacious plants curling over the guardrail, multicolored clothes draping over laundry racks, a<br />

small grill in a state of disrepair, a rainbow pinwheel furiously spinning in the wind, a more than likely<br />

stolen blue street sign with an arrow on it–these are just a few of the things adorning my neighbors’<br />

balconies.<br />

My simple balcony doesn’t have much, not even a chair. At my balcony, I like to picture the<br />

lives of my neighbors. It’s harmless enough.<br />

I think of the little old lady and how her grandchildren probably visit on the weekends.<br />

“Don’t lean too far over the edge, my loves.” How she regales them with stories of her youth while<br />

shaking out her laundry. I see the children’s amazement at the pigeons and seagulls swooping by in the<br />

air.<br />

The woman in the pink hoodie seems a bit tired–her hair in a messy ponytail and her eyes<br />

slightly sunken inward. Perhaps her next-door neighbor keeps her up all night as he and his girlfriend<br />


Non-Fiction<br />

argue. The cigarette perched between her lips is a small gift to herself, or maybe it’s nothing like that at<br />

all. Maybe it’s a vice.<br />

The girl my age decides to have a nice weekend to herself, saving her laundry for this beautiful<br />

Sunday afternoon. Later, she’s going to call her family and catch up with them. It’s been so long–too<br />

long, even. She’ll soak up the sunny day, while tending to her verdant plants with a glass of wine in<br />

hand and a satisfied smile across her face.<br />

The man in the jogging suit just got back from working out at the local gym down the street.<br />

He smiles brightly, maybe because he ran a 5k in his best time yet. His patience and hard work are<br />

paying off.<br />

The man cleaning his windows has two very small children, a boy and a girl–practically toddlers,<br />

but they grow up so fast! His two little children desperately want to see the world that the view<br />

from the balcony offers. Unfortunately, they’re too small and it’s too dangerous for them to go out<br />

onto the balcony yet. So, instead they take in the sprawling brick buildings with little grubby hands<br />

splayed onto the glass door, leaving topsy-turvy smears in their wake. Their father cleans up their<br />

handprints without complaint.<br />

What, if anything, do they think of me? What’s she reading? Could she be the one with the little<br />

yappy puppy? Why does she always look so content on her balcony? Maybe she’s relishing an afternoon off<br />

from her job at the local grocery store? Maybe she just moved here and hasn’t gotten bored to tears of the<br />

city yet? What is she scrambling to write down in her notebook right now?<br />

Do they know that I’m thinking of them and wishing them a wonderful day? Even if they<br />

don’t know, I hope they can feel it.<br />

I certainly can with every fleeting smile and shared moment out on our balconies. •<br />


The Apartment's Lament<br />

By Lauren Neely<br />

WHAM!<br />

My God, it’s like these kids slam my doors for fun.<br />

The six new girls I have to keep an eye on this semester have no proper door etiquette—or<br />

really any etiquette! All with the same flaws as the previous American girls I’ve watched over. What<br />

are parents even for? Chloe can’t make her bed. Kamila notices the pile of dishes in the sink and prays<br />

they’ll disappear before she uses the kitchen again. Helisa never wears a jacket when it’s cold outside.<br />

I can’t keep up! Then we have Sydney with her piles of laundry. It’s no wonder she’s always late for<br />

class – she can’t find anything to wear! Mia could sleep the whole day if Josie didn’t wake her up every<br />

morning. Ah, Josie. Such a good girl. She takes after me. Still can’t push in her chair though.<br />

I was enjoying the sun pouring in from my balcony window when Helisa walked in with a few<br />

grocery bags. So much for a little rest and relaxation. My God, this girl is withering away in front of<br />

me. I’m surprised that she doesn’t have scurvy by now with the lack of fruits and veggies in her Erasmus<br />

student diet.<br />

“I hope you two left some junk food for the other shoppers,” I say as Helisa and Sydney walk<br />

in, arms full of grocery bags. “Helisa, you need to eat real food! I have pasta, eggs, grilled cheese...Oh! I<br />

could make you bruschetta. You like bruschetta, right?”<br />

Helisa huffs, “Apartment, I, like, just got home! You’re, like, suffocating me! Give me a second.”<br />

“Fine, fine. But just so you know, you didn’t ‘like’ just get home. You just got home,” I say.<br />

She’ll thank me later.<br />

“Ugh!” Helisa rolls her eyes and storms off towards her room, leaving Sydney with the groceries.<br />

Well, that was selfish. I’ll have to talk to her about that later.<br />


Non-Fiction<br />

“Sydney, sweetheart, shut the door. You weren't raised in a barn.”<br />

Two of my other girls are on their phones, talking to their other mothers. Chloe is complaining<br />

about a boy and Josie is asking if sauce needs to be refrigerated after it’s been opened. After my<br />

first few groups of kids cycled through and many phone calls later, I noticed that all moms are the<br />

same.<br />

“How can you be bored? Don’t you have homework? When I was your age...”<br />

“You need to pick up your phone! I thought you were dead in a ditch.”<br />

“No! Listen to me. It’s whites, lights, and darks.”<br />

Do mothers ever stop fretting over their children?<br />

Suddenly, I notice a terrible crime occuring in my kitchen.<br />

“Kamila! You know that it's illegal to break spaghetti in Italy!”<br />

“But Apartment,” she whines, “It wasn’t going to fit in the pot!”<br />

“If you wanted your pasta to fit in the pot you shouldn't have bought spaghetti! Don’t act like<br />

this was your only option. There’s cavatappi, fiorelli, fusilli, gemelli--keep making that face at me and<br />

it’ll freeze that way!”<br />

I am pulled away from Kamila’s atrocity by a cry of frustration down my hall. Gazing at Mia’s<br />

room is like looking at the aftermath of a tornado. Her “clean laundry chair” is about three feet high<br />

now. I have a suspicion she would rather lose all the functionality of her desk chair than put her laundry<br />

away. Mia is currently dressed for what looked like her circus clown audition.<br />

“Apartment, I have nothing to wear!” Mia says theatrically.<br />

“Well first of all, you’re mixing three different patterns.”<br />

“Sydney says that mixing patterns is in style right now.”<br />

“If Sydney jumped off a bridge--”<br />

“Yeah yeah, ‘If Sydney jumped off a bridge would you?’”<br />

“I don’t sound like that. Mamma mia, you girls are giving me a headache.”<br />

These kids drive me crazy. They’re always complaining about this and whining about that.<br />

There is never a moment of peace.<br />

But secretly, I wouldn’t want it any other way.<br />

Each of the girls has an entirely unique--and sometimes questionable-- personality. Kamila is shy but<br />

good hearted. Chloe is always in a rush, but she is there for her roommates if they need her. Helisa<br />

forgets to take care of herself, but always offers to make food for the girls when they aren’t feeling well.<br />


Non-Fiction<br />

Mia spends a little too much time on her appearance, but whenever one of the other girls makes it<br />

through the mounds of clothing blocking off her room, she’s always willing to lend them a hand. Sydney<br />

has a short temper, yet always stands up for her roommates. Josie is a little antisocial, but always<br />

makes time to join the other girls for Sunday movie night. Each of my girls have traits only a mother<br />

could love. I'm glad that these girls were placed with me and not that deadbeat apartment down the<br />

street.<br />

I may not have been there for kindergarten dance recitals, and I won’t be able to attend their<br />

graduations, but I am here to witness these girls overcome the difficulties that come with roommates,<br />

college, and living abroad. I am there for the 3 a.m. dinner parties, for the you-hog-the-bathroom<br />

roommate fights, and for the quiet girl-you-are-so-hungover-right-now mornings.<br />

Each year I get a new group of kids, and each year it just gets harder to let them go. Every<br />

packed suitcase reminds me of their arrivals. Every hug, goodbye, and “I’ll see you next year” tears me<br />

in two. Every last look around haunts me. I wouldn’t be surprised if the cracks start showing through<br />

my walls, my doors.<br />

I spend my time watching my kids grow and learn throughout the school year, just to wonder<br />

what they’re doing for the rest of their lives. Will Kamila finally do her dishes? Will Mia still sleep the<br />

day away? Will Helisa continue to refuse drying her hair before going out? Will they still stay in contact<br />

with each other? Will they think of the memories they made with me just as fondly as I do? All I<br />

can do is hope that Sydney cleans her room, that Josie goes outside every once in a while, that Chloe<br />

makes her bed, and pray--pray a whole lot--that their other mothers take advantage of the fact that<br />

they have arms and hug the life out of my girls. How could you not? Look at those chubby little cheeks!<br />

I could just pinch them all…-- •<br />


Poetry <strong>II</strong><br />

Oranges When Sick<br />

By Jade Ramos<br />

I was taught to eat oranges when I'm sick<br />

I don't quite remember being told<br />

no clear memory of when it all began<br />

but perhaps all of my mother’s lessons simply<br />

merged<br />

seeping together to create an understanding.<br />

I now eat oranges when I’m sick--<br />

in a pinch, any fruit will do.<br />

Sickly sweet and sweetly sick<br />

popping grapes between my lips<br />

and spitting out the seeds and illness.<br />

My mother isn't here to take care of me now<br />

though I know she wishes she were<br />

I could, we could, but I find I won’t<br />

as oranges won't cure what she does to my<br />

mind.<br />

I continue to eat oranges when I’m sick<br />

pressing the flesh inside my mouth<br />

to wring out the juices and rejuvenation<br />

breathe life back into my sore throat.<br />

If my mother were here I’d eat oranges<br />

after warm soup and a nap in her bed.<br />

But her love and food won't cure her curse in<br />

my head<br />

constricting my throat without bacteria<br />

welling tears in my eyes as I bite down on<br />

muscle.<br />

I think of her as I eat oranges when I’m sick<br />

my mother can't take care of me now, but<br />

that’s alright.<br />

I can feed oranges to myself.<br />

I can peel oranges myself.<br />

I can buy oranges myself.<br />

I can cure myself.<br />

The juices remind me of home and remind<br />

me of disease<br />

I pop another slice in my mouth and know<br />

regardless<br />

somewhere my mother disagrees<br />

even though she’s the one who taught me<br />

to eat oranges when I'm sick. •<br />


Thank you to Professor Andrea di Robilant, our wonderful contributors,<br />

and the <strong>LIT</strong>/<strong>PUB</strong> editorial team--this magazine would not have been<br />

possible without you.<br />

Rome, <strong>2022</strong>

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