Categories
12th Edition Poetry- 12th Edition

Homecoming

Homecoming
by Victoria Lane

Every time I come to visit, 
I stay for hours. 
But I’d stay for days, 
For years, if you’d let me, 
A princess in a tower. 

It’s hard to leave 
When here I once returned. 
Coming here meant going home. 
Now what’s left for me, 
This house of bones? 

I know I can’t stay. 
It’s not my home anymore. 
But I can’t bring myself to drive away, 
To even stand and walk out the door. 

Now my home is one of convenience, 
A single rented room I have no hope to ever own. 
I pay for my twin bed, desk, and paint-peeled walls, 
And I return in the summer to someone else’s home. 

If I ever have children, 
I will build a house with a thousand rooms, 
So that each child may someday return 
To a stable, unyielding place in the world. 

A forever home. 

I’d never turn their room into an office, 
Box up their things, or even paint the walls. 
I’d leave their posters there, 
Their photos, memories; I’d leave it all. 

They say a house does not make a home, 
But this life without a house, 
Living from dorm to dorm 
And spare room to spare room, 
Does not feel like home either. 


Victoria Lane is a graduating senior at Lindenwood, completing her degree with majors in Game Design, Digital and Web Design, and Art History. She plans to continue her education through Lindenwood’s Writing MFA, where she intends to write more original fiction and poetry. She loves to read comic books, collect action figures, watch films, play video games, make art, and yes, write.

Portfolio – victoriamlane.com

Instagram – @victoriamadilynlanee

Categories
12th Edition Fiction - 12th Edition Short Story

Homecoming

Mona reflected on how different her house looked in the dark. The familiar presence of her mom’s hutch and their dusty ceiling fan were transformed into a giant, a bird of prey, all by the absence of light. Maybe also a guilty conscience. The geometric kitchen vinyl crackled under her feet, even though she tried to avoid the bubbles where the glue had come loose. If her mom woke up right now from what was probably her latest bender, things would be bad. Mona didn’t even know what she could say. Hey, mom, how’s it going? I know it’s been weeks since I’ve been home, but I just came back to get some stuff from my room. How’s the cat? Yeah, that would go down nice and smooth. Speaking of Yucky, she hadn’t seen him around yet. Maybe he was off on one of his grand adventures. She hoped he never came back. Can cats suffer from secondhand smoke? Mona really hoped not. Her mom probably singlehandedly funded several government programs with how much sin tax she paid.  

Mona skirted around the kitchen table. If this was a normal house, a normal family, there would have perhaps been MISSING CHILD flyers scattered across its surface. A list of local phone numbers, too, maybe lying next to an old family album with a school photo removed for the police to photo-copy. The universe decided to give her only a crumpled pleather purse and an empty wine bottle with the cap lying beside it. Real classy, mom. Not even a bottle with a cork. Then again, the daughter of a normal family wouldn’t have run away as often as Mona had. She didn’t even know why she chose tonight to come by. It was stupid, she’d just had a weird feeling she couldn’t wait any longer. It had to be tonight. 

The rest of the way was simple; down the hall, into her room, stock up on Fruit of the Loom and tampons, get the sock fund, Exeunt Mona. Easy peasy as-can-beezy. Her footsteps became swallowed by the carpet as she navigated around the overstuffed La-Z-Boy in the next room, and it was then that she noticed something: a bright, burning cherry. Mona froze. The cherry bobbed for a moment, grew brighter momentarily, then dimmed once more. Even in darkness, she knew that connected to this ember was an American Legend cigarette. The person that held the cigarette spoke. 

“Nice of you to drop by.” 

Mona’s neck hair prickled. This voice was ruined birthday parties and broken pinky-promises. It was pouring peroxide on your own scrapes, and it was missed soccer practice. It was everything but the voice of a mother. At 17, Mona was finally old enough to see R-Rated movies, and yet this voice scared her more than The Exorcist ever had. Her mother flicked on a lamp. 

“I was gonna call-” Mona’s attempt to explain herself was stopped by her mom’s raised hand. Silence thickened the air between them. Suddenly she was nine again, pink marker in hand and evidence of her crime on the wall. Her mother’s purple lips closed around the butt of her Legend once more, and when she released, the smoke that curled from her mouth reminded Mona of a spirit escaping its corpse.  

“Are you back, or just visiting?” The question took her off guard. Where was the icy scorn? The guilt trip? The cutting remarks?  

“I need some stuff from my room. Then I’ll go.” Mona had heard stories about others who’d run away: When they visited home, their parents looked older and smaller. But not Peggy. No, she seemed as strong and mean as ever, blue sleeves rolled up over thick arms. Despite her lined face, hollowed by years of substance abuse, Mona’s mother was what some dead author would call a “handsome woman.” She wasn’t beautiful, no one would call her that. But she was attractive in a hard, unrepentant way. 

“You’re welcome to it,” her mother said, and again Mona wondered at her uncaring tone. Why did it feel like Peggy was expecting her? But already, this reception was better than Mona expected, so she hurried to her room, feeling somewhat lighter than before. Perhaps it was a relief. The door to her room was ajar, and when she pushed it open and flicked on the light, Mona froze. Her room was completely empty. Not one of her posters remained. The bed was gone; she could see the impressions in the carpet where it had been. Push-pin holes dotted the walls. Mona stood very still, blood thrumming in her ears. Then she flew to the closet and ripped it open. Gone. Her clothes, shoes, the boxes filled with old diaries and yearbooks every god damn inch of her life besides what was on her back and in her head, it was all gone. Worst of all, the sock roll that held the rest of her savings was gone from behind the baseboard. Her body flashed hot and then cold. Finally, a sick feeling of dread settled in her stomach. 

Her return to the living room was slow, feet dragging on the carpet. One look at her mom’s face, and Mona knew. Less than a month since her latest departure and Peggy had already scrubbed her from this house completely. In a pained voice, Mona rasped, “Why?” 

Her mother gestured to the opposite loveseat with a fresh, unlit cigarette. “Take a seat, I’ve got some shit to say. It’s not gonna be nice, but it’s not gonna be what you’re expecting.” When Mona just stood there, Peggy sighed. “Give me the benefit of the doubt, munchkin.” Still, Mona stood. Finally, Peggy grunted and reached into her pocket. She threw something onto the coffee table, and it landed with a clunk—Mona’s sock money. Three hundred dollars from stocking produce at the Winn Dixie and watching the neighbor kids. A teenage fortune. Finally, Mona sat. Peggy had been observing her all this time, tapping the cigarette against her leg. Now she grunted again and stuck it into her mouth, fumbling with a lighter until there was a thick smell of burning tobacco in the air.   

Her mom had never been one for long speeches, but now she spoke more than Mona had seen in the course of a week. “Here’s the thing. For a while, since before you came along, I’ve worked nights at Prissy’s. Not the classiest of diners, I know, but it’s okay. Well, I don’t have to tell you, you’ve eaten enough of their banana cream pies. Heh. And then, there’s also my, uh, gentleman callers, who…” She trailed off. It sounded like she’d rehearsed this speech, but now she seemed at a loss. Finally, she cleared her throat. “Look, I know you think I’m a shitty mom. I know. To you, I screw around, work a sleeper shift at a dive, and abuse substances like they’re going out of style. But it’s not true. Well, the last thing is true. Addiction’s a bitch.” She took a long drag, and Mona fidgeted, wondering where this was going. Her ride was going to be back any minute now. 

Finally, her mom looked ready to continue. “I don’t really know how to say this. I’m not good at it… you know,” she said, gesturing aimlessly like Mona actually knew what she was talking about. “You know. Talking. Explaining myself. I know I’ve been a shitty mom, but I’m not a shitty person. God, I wish I had more time to talk to you before… well, I’ll get to that. Point is, Prissy’s isn’t what you think it is, those guys aren’t who you think they are.” The next drag she took was longer, and Mona now noticed how much her mother’s hand was shaking. “Mona, I’m not who you think I am.”  

“Mom, what are you talking about? Where is this coming from? I don’t care who those men are anymore. Prissy’s ain’t bad. Just tell me why you scrapped all my shit.”  

Peggy looked like she was about to answer. Then, there was a sound of breaking glass in the other room. Mona froze. “What the hell was that?” For a moment, she thought that Yucky had knocked a glass off a table or something. Then she saw the look on her mom’s face. 

“We have even less time than I thought. Mona, I want you to know I’m sorry. I was never a fair mom to you. But right now I need you to listen to me, you have to go. I added some money to your sock, take it and go out the back as quietly as you can.” Her voice was hushed, guarded. 

“Do I need to call 911? Why are you acting so weird? You’re freaking me out.” There was a thump, then what sounded like footsteps. Mona tensed, nerves thrumming. Yucky was heavy, but not heavy enough to make that kind of noise. Frantically she reached for her phone in her pocket, but Peggy shook her head firmly.  

“No! No police. Around these parts, they hate our kind. You’re savvy, thank god you got that from me at least, so use that. Get far away from here. Three states away, at least. And stay away.” As Peggy spoke, she reached under her chair and pulled out a heavy-looking pistol. Mona recoiled. 

“Jesus, mom!” Before Mona could say anything more, a dark figure loomed in the doorway, just beyond the reach of the dingy lamplight, and Mona’s neck erupted in chills. They wore a hood over their head, but Mona could tell from their build that they were probably a woman or a man with a slight frame. The intruder’s image burned a negative into her panicked mind displayed on her eyelids when she blinked. Time was becoming syrup-thick in her panic. 

“Mona, damn you, go!” Her mom sprang up and fired off three quick shots. That got Mona moving with a jolt. As she sprinted out the door, sock in hand, her mother called her name again. Mona turned.  

“I love you, Mona.” Eyes brimming with tears, Peggy smiled.  


Abigail Manis Alpha Chi student representative and soon-to-be LU graduate Abigail Manis has had research published in Aletheia and placed first in the 2020 LU SRC. When not furiously scanning JSTOR or writing her novel, Abby can be found setting off her kitchen smoke alarm and plotting to kidnap her roommate’s cat. 

Categories
12th Edition Fiction - 12th Edition Short Story

Sticky Memories

In the very back of my mind, there is the smallest bit of memory, dusty like a photograph found in a packed away attic box. If it were a photograph, it would be a beautifully deceiving scene of a perfect family. If I squeeze my eyes closed tight, I can see us all. Just a little bit before dawn, we all gathered on an old stuffy couch that sat on the porch in a very southern fashion. Fog billowed out over the trees at the end of the yard, and the smallest bit of sunshine started to peek through, casting yellow and pink hues over the mist that rolled across the grass. My father had been so proud of that property, three acres of land in a town with more cows than people. That morning in my little memory, I can recall, my mom, father, and Skylar, the youngest out of their collective eight children squished together on the couch. We listened as the world woke up and watched the sun move over the trees to touch every corner of that land. My father went inside and made us pancakes. I only liked them when he made them, perfectly golden and with a slab of blackberry jelly on top. I try to reach as far back into my brain as possible, but still, the first moment I find is the four of us tangled up in a big blanket made sticky and damp by the morning dew and some stray jelly, and the sun stretching itself over the trees to greet us. The memory stops and staggers on that scene of us staring out over the yard. And I have to wonder now, with all the knowledge I have of who we really were, how long did that peace last? 

Everything always felt more there. The summers had more warmth, the winters brought more snow. That place lived and breathed just like me. It pulsated with life, drawn to extremes, both beautiful and bleak. I wish I could say that my childhood was filled with memories of that place as picturesque as a family, eating pancakes outside and enjoying the morning together. My childhood home is like the skeleton that holds me upright. All of the memories of that place, which make me tear up with thoughts of the “good old days” and the ones that make my whole body cringe, have all built me into the vessel I am now. 

The naked eye is blind to those pieces of me, but I know they are there. You can’t look deep enough into my eyes to see the bright pink butterfly net my mom bought me, and how she taught me to catch butterflies in the yard. Or how I cried for hours when I accidentally crushed one, and how my mom pulled me into her lap and told me that accidents happen. With a far off look in her eyes, she said that my intentions mattered more than the harm I caused. You can’t read the lines on my palms and see the fluffy, indigo comforter my mom would drag out into the yard, the one Skylar and I would roll around on while she read to us. You wouldn’t see my father’s absence, working maybe, or just watching the news and reminding himself of how evil the world was. I might have a small scar, but you wouldn’t tell by looking that it’s from the last step on the porch where I tumbled off my bike, newly released from the shackles of training wheels. The concrete had pulled what seemed like every piece of skin off my knee. And that wispy tree in the yard that I loved to climb and read my books in didn’t leave any external marks on my body that one could notice. “If you fall out of that damn thing and break your arm, I’ll kick your ass like you’ll never forget,” I recall my father screaming from the porch as I swung like a monkey back and forth from the branches. I loved that stupid tree, but pain or the fear of it, I remember, kept me from swinging just far enough to enjoy myself. My body bears no signs of the train that would rumble by. The tracks bordered our property, and every window on the house would rattle, the ground would shake, and still couldn’t compare to the screams of my father.   

I remember what started out as an argument between my father and my brother, Daniel, turned into our great escape, and the last night that place ever felt like home. My father never cared much for Daniel. To him, Daniel was baggage my mom brought with her into their marriage. He disdained him so much that most of the year, Daniel lived with his own father. I don’t remember my mom locking all the doors after a phone call from my other brother, Billy. He warned her to call the police and get out of the house as soon as possible. I wonder how my father must have felt when he realized it was Billy, his own son, who had betrayed him that night. It was Billy who had told us to run as far away as we could. I only remember my mom’s panicked voice in the other room, and the swift scene changes from my bed to her car. That place holds all of these memories, it watched me move in as a scrawny child with bright red pigtails. And it watched me leave in the middle of the night, blinding red and blue lights dancing over my face as my mom’s car pulled out of the driveway. My father screamed as loud as he could as if this time, he would be able to shake the wheels right off her car. I wonder how much would have been different these days if my mom hadn’t received a police escort out of that place. I wonder if I would have grown up there, spent my childhood running through the fields or sneaking down to the creek to catch crawdads, gone to high school with a graduating class of 50 or so. Or if I would have been laid to rest in the pasture alongside my mom and siblings so that my father could make absolutely sure he was never abandoned. Cold and still in the earth, we would never talk back to him again. Those memories were never made or shattered. My family never sat all together on the porch again, watching the sunrise and eating breakfast. But my mom, Daniel, Skylar, and I had better breakfasts. Even in our journey away, sleeping in Mcdonald’s parking lots and eating greasy, drive-thru hashbrowns as soon as we woke up in the morning, the world stood a little stiller. The sun came up and went back down, and the windows of that small red car never rattled like those of that house.  


Kat Townsend is an Environmental Biology major at Lindenwood University. However, if her professors had a vote, she would have switched to an English degree long ago. She finds solace in writing that she cannot find in people, and she hopes to eventually run away to live in the forest.

Categories
12th Edition Fiction - 12th Edition Short Story

My Mother’s Ghost

As my dangling keys clank against one another, they sound like rusty chains. My fumbling hands miss the door lock again, and it feels like a much more devastating failure than it appears. Eventually, I jam it in with enough force I think I could have just pushed the door down instead. This is the same key my mother once used, but it doesn’t seem to fit, not as well. The door opens anyway, and I step inside to the entryway. I shut the door quickly behind me, and as it closes, the light of the evening sun disappears behind the distressed wood, leaving me and the rest of the home in familiar darkness. 

 There are plenty of windows; my mother used to leave them open in the spring and autumn, letting the cool breeze and sweet smells waft in from the outside, soaking into the walls. Now, only a few are visible behind thick curtains that have been drawn shut in her absence. Soft and thin streams of light filter through cracks between the inadequate panels of fabric, evidence the sun is fading fast, and will soon be absent altogether. They illuminate the dust suspended in the air, the thin layer of dust coating nearly every surface: furniture, art, and knickknacks, stagnant and stale. I need to clean. Maybe tomorrow. I can’t right now. I’m just too tired.  

I used to leave the curtains open like she did, but they always seemed to fall back to obscuring the light on their own. I stopped trying. At least like this, I don’t have to see the flowers she planted in the garden or her old station wagon deteriorating in the driveway. The dark isn’t as bad as I’d imagined. It’s mostly empty. 

 I shrug my coat off and toss it to the ground by the door. I don’t see where it lands. I’m alone here, and no one will care. I reach for the nearest light switch and flick it on, a brass lamp coming to life. It blinks. It flickers. It burns out, and I’m returned to the realm of shadows. I can’t keep the lights on. This house always used to be so bright.   

 I rub my hands against themselves, against the cold, as I start my arduous trek up the staircase. The boards creak under my feet in loud groans, and the moaning continues long after I’ve finished. As I pass door after door, my hand trails along the wall, against the gaudy wallpaper she had loved, and I had always hated, and against the discolored outlines adorning it. They were left by photos that once hung there.  Faintly deeper colors than the rest of the wall that had faded with exposure, these empty spaces will soon fade as well until it is all equally dull. The photos have been disappearing from the walls, like everything else. One by one, photographs, trinkets, and memories have vanished.  Leaving behind only bones, small disruptions in the omnipresent dust tell me anything was ever there. Her home is decaying.  

I pass a room with an open door (there are not many anymore) and gasp, the air in my throat escaping and dissipating with a chill. In the darkness, I can barely make out the silhouette of a woman. She is unnervingly thin and pale, and she stands still, gawking at me with an open mouth and sunken eyes. She reminded me of her when she was young. It’s wrong. I’m frozen in place. I blink. Again. I reach in with a shaking hand and turn on the light switch. I’m left staring at a mirror.   

 I float from room to room like I am barely there, invisible and inconsequential, an unwanted visitor and shadow of who had once walked these halls. I arrive and open the door. I don’t bother turning on the light. My hands ache under the weight of the mirror as I bring it inside and lay it amongst the other forgotten things that crowd the room: family photos, books she loved to read, crafts she made, a painting I once painted for her, the television she watched her soap operas on, and her favorite chair from the kitchen table; all the things I can no longer stand to look at. The room fills with whispers. I absently brush away, welling tears from my sore eyes and shut the door. I lock it.   

My mother’s house is haunted. 


Victoria Lane is a graduating senior at Lindenwood, completing her degree with majors in Game Design, Digital and Web Design, and Art History. She plans to continue her education through Lindenwood’s Writing MFA, where she intends to write more original fiction and poetry. She loves to read comic books, collect action figures, watch films, play video games, make art, and yes, write. 

Portfolio – victoriamlane.com

Instagram – @victoriamadilynlanee 

Categories
12th Edition Fiction - 12th Edition Short Story

Forget Me Not

There is nothing more freeing than driving at night with the music loud and the windows down. That’s what Elliot thought as she drove the roads home. The cool breeze danced across her face and head, causing hair to fall from the loose ponytail she had assembled earlier that night.  She felt happy for the first time in a long time due to the pain in her left arm, the wolf took an hour to outline- she needed to make another appointment to get it shaded in. There was something relaxing about the needle prodding her skin with ink. Elliot didn’t expect to like the pain so much, she wanted to remember the sensation forever. You can’t get all of the senses in a picture, so she closed her eyes to soak up the needle’s stabs. Elliot turned the radio up and began to sing along.  

Elliot wouldn’t be caught doing this in the company of someone, she hated singing in front of people. This was what life was about, Elliot decided that she had never been happier than in that moment. She never thought the happiest moment in life would be alone. She assumed it would have been when she married or held her child for the first time. That’s what everyone told her anyway, even though she never wanted any of it. She just wanted to experience sex and then be done with it all. 

But no one knew that.  

Her car had passed inspection a couple of weeks prior, but that wasn’t enough for her to miss the 3 ½ point buck. She wasn’t speeding. The crushing of glass and screeching of tires thundered above the music briefly. The buck died instantly, its body easily breaking through the windshield.  

Elliot’s seat belt wasn’t enough to protect her from the antlers, and they pierced into her stomach. The stench of blood clouded her senses; she couldn’t tell if the car had stopped moving until it dipped into the ditch of the back road, jerking the antlers further into her. 

Elliot didn’t cry, she didn’t panic despite her heart rate seeming to accelerate. She assumed it was natural and let things take over. Only now, she was overcome with sadness; because people would never know who she truly was: 

 That her favorite flowers were forget-me-nots and not the baby’s breath that would be used in her funeral.  

That she really didn’t have a favorite colour.  

That she really did like hugs.  

That her favorite scent was fresh linen.  

That she wanted to die for so fucking long except for now.  

Elliot looked down and stared at the buck, it’s dead eyes looking back up at her; blood dripped from its mouth and onto Elliot’s pant leg. She brushed the glass from the buck’s neck and rested her hand upon it, it was still warm. Elliot didn’t think the last thing she would be doing was petting a dead buck and listening to music, then again she didn’t have the luxury of knowing she was going to die that day otherwise she would have done so many things differently. She would have eaten more chocolate that day, asked her friend to become one with benefits, and take her away. She would have told more people to fuck themselves. She would have tried to be healthier and build more stamina to run to the light as she was now.   

People would forget about her after a while and only remember the freak accident. She would be memorialized for how peaceful she looked, her head slumped with the buck’s head lying on her knee. 


Amanda May is a senior at Lindenwood University. She is majoring in English Literature with an Emphasis in Creative Writing and minoring in Journalism. When she isn’t writing, she can probably be found screaming or crying (or both) about Star Wars, anime, or Florence + The Machine. She can be found on Twitter and Instagram @Amandalorian451

Categories
12th Edition Fiction - 12th Edition Short Story

Mouadh

Eion had been a young lad when he decided to catch himself a merrow-wife, down near the sea. At dawn, he stood, ankle-deep in the tide, with a fishnet in hand—and cast it three times out.  

“It shall be like my father said,” Eion thought to himself, “I shall catch myself a wife and relieve her of the red cap upon her head and the sealskin about her shoulders so that she cannot help but be mine.”  

The first time the fishnet was reeled back, it was empty, aside from the trash that littered the sea. When he tossed it a second, all that was caught in it were the few slippery spasms of fish, and several shells tangled up. Eion cast it out a third and gripped the fishnet in hand—for it weighed heavily.  

From the sea, he dragged the maiden, which was spasming as the fish. 

“What is it you want from me?” The sidhe asked once she could not free herself from the fishnet.  

“You are to be my wife,” Eion told her, as he brought out a knife in which he gutted fish and cut the merrow from the seams, “You are to share with me, your wealth of the sea, and I will give you two sons.” 

When the sidhe had been cut free, Eion took from her head—the red feather sewn cap. From her shoulders, he removed the sealskin. Once he had stolen these from her, the sidhe wept. 

“Am I never to be given such things back?” She asked. 

Eion said, “When I am old and burdened with age, I shall give them to you.” 

Then he took the merrow up with him to his house upon the hill, where he hid the red cap and the sealskin so she could not return to the sea and made her his wife. 

“Is she not the most beautiful woman you have ever seen?” Eion asked as he gripped the merrow’s shoulders, dressed plainly now in cottons his mother had sewn together for clothes. It had been when she was young and poor, and though the garments were tarnished with holes from moths, the radiance of the woman that worn them outshone the shame of wearing such things.  

Nolan, a drunk, leaned in close to admire the merrow, and said to Eion, “What a beautiful wife!” 

Sailors and fishermen alike gathered around as Eion had taken her to the local pub. She was a head taller than most and smelt of sea salt, and her pouty lips and dewy eyes made for a sad expression.  

From beside Nolan, Keegan sat, with hair red as fire. 

“Where did you find her?” He asked as he held a mighty mug in his hand that was filled to the brim with ale that tasted no better than the sea. 

“I caught her from the ocean,” Eion spoke. 

Griffin, a blue-eyed boy, leaned forward, a bard and a minstrel and a story-teller at most, “Why—you speak to have drawn her up from Tir fo Thoinn—a land beneath the waves. They say the fairies that live there have no love or want for the men like us.” 

“Love, no,” Eion agreed, and sat with the merrow upon his lap; “But the stories of the merrow-men range abhorred and ugly, and the want for children often bring them up from the sea.” 

His bride was the talk of all the traders and merchants, this wife Eion had coaxed from the sea. Those who saw him helping her along the small pathway up to that lone house on the hill paused to watch, for she was unearthly and beautiful and he the darndest man there ever was. 

“Can I not have my cap at least this once, so I may go and soak my legs in the sea?” The sidhe asked when she had been miserable—for her bones felt brittle, being gone so long from the tides and sand.  

“I shall bring you up saltwater myself, and you shall soak your legs here,” Eion said, and the merrow watched as Eion hauled up buckets of water from the sea. 

Three times he went down, and three times he went up, filling the tub to the brim with salt water. When Eion looked to her, she looked back and allowed a papery smile on her face. 

“Thank you,” The sidhe said, though there was no joy. 

She sat, with her legs in the water, and scrubbed the salt against her knees. It did not keep her feet from feeling like blisters upon the floorboards, nor the teeth in her gums from aching. 

When Eion was out, she searched that little house, over and over again. Eion did not mind leaving her alone in the house, for he knew she would not find where he had shoved that red cap, or if she did, most certainly would not find the sealskin, which was hidden aside from those rosy feathers.  

“We are to try for a son soon,” Eion said once, as they laid in bed together, where they both could listen to the tide come up.  

“What if it is not a son,” The sidhe asked, “What if they are born a daughter.” 

“They will not be,” Eion said, “If they are a daughter, you will most certainly not see your red cap again, and I will most certainly not give you back, your sealskin.”  

Quiet was the merrow, as quiet as she was when the night came when Eion shifted on top of her. For a moon, they waited until the swell of her stomach confessed all they needed to know.  

“We will name him Teague, for it means handsome, and he most certainly shall be,” Eion said, and kissed her stomach, and it was the only kindness and softness the merrow had known from him. 

Teague had been born a handsome child and grew to be a strong and sturdy boy. Niall came after him, a second boy, as was promised, and he was just as handsome, if not more compassionate. 

“I come from the sea,” The sidhe would read to them, collecting her two sons under her arms, “Where the tides come to and fro, and lead out to the oceans and shores of foreign lands.” 

Teague was the first who decided when he became too old for fairytales. 

The merrow watched bitterly, the more he became like Eion, and when it was time for him to take a wife, he matched his father’s cruelty, in that he found the quietest and docile woman and holed her up in a house somewhere—for her to give him sons. She may not have had a red cap or a sealskin fur to steal, but she soon did have an iron ring upon her finger, which was a prison enough. 

Niall loved the stories his mother told of the sea; they walked to the sand and beach almost every day. He held her hand as she wept and collected the pearls that rolled from her cheeks. 

“Why is it that your hair looks this way?” Niall asked once when braiding it, for it was more like seaweed than anything else, and the merrow had laughed, 

“Because it is what helps me stick to the hull of a ship like barnacles, that I may sail with them against the tide.” 

Niall was the one who would spend afternoons with his mother, looking for the secret red cap and the sealskin fur, “You mustn’t tell your father you’re helping me look for it. It’s a surprise. We can’t let him know if we ever are to find it.” 

Eion had no interest in Niall, who was passive and sweet. He took Teague out with him on the fishing boats and taught him the trade; before he grew and became of age and left the house. 

Niall married soon enough and held his mother as she cried. 

“I won’t be far, just down the path,” He said, as the pearls from his mother’s cheeks hit the hardwood floor and rolled underneath cabinets and furniture to be swallowed up by cobwebs. 

The merrow smiled miserably because she knew she would soon be alone again with her husband. Without the companionship of either of her sons to distract her from the call of the ocean, 

“I know you will.” She touched his face, “You will be happy with Aileen, and she will make a good wife.” 

Aileen indeed was fair and kind and had a love for the sea herself. She had stood out on the threshold, as Niall went and gathered his things, and they left together. She held his hand along the pathway, where they passed Teague, who was out fishing with their father—and his wife, Maureen, near the birth of their own first child. 

“We shall see your mother often,” Aileen assured him, “She’s alone no more with your terrible father. You know he has gotten to be very sick and will pass soon.” 

He did pass soon, for there came a stormy night when the family gathered at that little house upon the hill—that house, which was now dark and heavy with sickness. 

Teague spoke a long while with his father and left first with his wife, and Aileen sat as Niall went to talk with him before he took off his hat and said to his mother, 

“He’s asked for you.” 

Never had the merrow felt such joy than she did when she stepped over the threshold into their bedroom and sat on the other side of Eion, who was worn with age. 

“Will you tell me now, where my red cap is, and my sealskin, that you’ve hidden so long ago?” 

Eion laughed, his lungs heavy, and he gripped his wife’s hand. 

“Here I lay dying, and I am not surprised that is all you care to ask of me. I promised you when I died that I may tell you, and I shall tell you now, you shall never find them.” 

The merrow stared, and tears gathered in her eyes again, that hardened into pearls, 

“You cannot die and leave me here; my home is the sea.” She said, and Eion just patted the top of her hand, and he smelt as much of sea salt now as she did, from so many years of fishing.  

How often the merrow thought to curse him, that he got out to be on that boat in the water, and she was forced to slave on land. It was she who belonged to the sea, and he upon the solid earth beneath her. How she had tried once to throw herself into the waves so that she could smack upon some craggy rock, but Niall had stopped her, running out, a small boy in his pajamas, to drag his sea-torn mother back home. 

“Your home is here now, with our boys and our house, you need no more for the sea,” Eion said, and with another breath, laid down his head and spoke no more. 

The merrow sat, haunted by the words that she would never find her red cap or her sealskin fur. 

Niall had heard some of the words spoken and laid awake in his own house that night. They had gone with the undertaker to the cemetery to bury his coffin beneath the old grass and rocks of the church, near the hill. How his mother had stood there, in her tattered clothes, looking more like the banshees, with the tears that turned to pearls, falling from her eyes. 

“I used to look with her,” He told Aileen, who was not yet asleep beside him; “For her red cap and sealskin fur. I believe my father told Teague once, where it was hidden, and he delighted in Eion’s cruelty of secrets—and I know he will not tell us either.” 

“It is a pity,” Aileen agreed, “For you and your brother both to have your lives, yet your mother still remains with her stolen, hidden away somewhere.” 

Niall laid awhile longer and thought of what his wife said. He knew his father to be a clever and cruel man, and Niall sat up suddenly when dawn was not that far gone. 

“I bet you, he was buried with them,” Niall said, as Aileen turned over in the sheets to stare at him; “In his coffin, his deathbed. My mother had no love for him, she would never look there.” 

So, from the bed, he rose, with Aileen climbing out of bed after him. He dressed in a cloak, and she pulled her own shawl over her shoulders, and out they went into the cold night, with her carrying a lantern, and he a shovel he used to pry up his father’s coffin. 

When they opened it, they found the cold corpse of Eion clutching a red cap in one hand and a sealskin fur in another.  

“It’s as you said,” Aileen whispered, and decided to spit upon the man; “You may have thought yourself clever, but not as clever as the kindness of your son.” 

Dawn was there when Niall came to his father’s house upon the hill. He knocked three times when his mother answered, her and he could almost swear that the floorboards were covered in pearls. 

“Come with me,” Niall said, and gripped his mother’s hand, as Aileen gripped his other, and they made the walk down to the sand and the sea. 

Once there, Niall took the red cap and the sealskin fur from underneath his cloak, and his mother cried in surprised as her hand went over her mouth and her other went out to grab it, 

“Where did you find it?” The sidhe asked. 

“Eion buried himself with it, in hopes the land could swallow up the sea,” Niall said and watched as his mother placed the red cap upon her head, and how her hands trembled as she wrapped the sealskin fur about her shoulders and stared at her son with such softness. 

“I thought there was no love to be had here,” The sidhe said, “But that was before I learned the love of a child. You have done what your father would not, you have given your mother her freedom.”  

Niall wept, as his mother kissed his face, for he knew it was her turn to go, and he would not stop her, for he could not be like his father nor brother and carry on this cruelty. 

Aileen still held his hand as his mother turned out towards the sea, and as the sun rose higher, the merrow stepped more in-depth into the water until the waves carried her home. 


Angelina Chartrand is a student at Lindenwood University, pursuing a Bachelor of Arts Degree in English Studies with an emphasis in Creative Writing. Having developed a passion for writing ever since she was very young, Angelina has found a love and admiration of short stories to convey her creative ideas. 

Categories
12th Edition Fiction - 12th Edition Short Story

In

They had always met on the docks near sunset.  

Adalaide had come to dread this tradition of theirs, not the meeting part, but the build-up. The planning ahead, telling her husband she was going out. He would respond with ‘where?’, to which she would have to lie and say with a friend. It wasn’t a whole lie, Holly was her friend. Bert didn’t know her, though, so he assumed instead that Adalaide was out with Briar or Zelda. She had always looked forward to these meetings, now they only stirred anxiety in her. 

Adalaide searched for the ship. She knew she looked out of place here, in a dull green number with bell sleeves, her hair pinned in an updo. She could feel the needles clawing at her head with the slightest movement. Holly had said she would be on a different ship, one she bought in Spain according to her letter. She offered no description of it, much to Adalaide’s annoyance; she waited where they usually met-under the lamp post near Bigsby’s Tavern- and hoped Holly would appear. Looking around and finding Holly wasn’t in sight, she slipped off the silver wedding band, stuffed it in her dress sleeve, and replaced it with an opal one.   

Adalaide waited for what seemed like forever; it tended to feel like that when Holly was concerned. She pulled out the letter that had arrived a few days before. Bert had found it and asked who it was from; she played dumb and pretended to briefly read it and throw it out before he could read it. That was the beautiful thing about Bert, he forgot about things quickly, and he didn’t make connections easily. He had accused her, playfully,  of using charmspeak to entice him. Adalaide never meant to use it intentionally; she swore, and she was telling the truth unknown to Bert. It was something, even after all this time, that she had trouble controlling.   

She checked the date and time written on the letter for the hundredth time that week. It was tonight. No one was really around, save for drunken beggars, women offering their services to lonely sailors, and those who entered and exited the tavern (it was Sunday, the business was slow). Adalaide felt a presence behind her. 

“I was beginning to think you weren’t going to show,” she said before turning. 

“And miss seeing you? Not for the end of the world,” Holly was wearing brown trousers, boots, and a black coat; a sword hung at her hip. Her dark hair was pulled into a low ponytail, loose strands hung in her face. Holly held out her arm, “Shall we?” 

 Ada took her arm without responding. The two walked around the docks in comfortable silence. It was something Ada missed, being able to walk and observe everything in peace. With Bert, he was pointing out every bird, flower, and cloud that caught his eye. It was worse if it rained, he would point it out repeatedly and try to determine the number of raindrops falling at a time (he would always lose count. She didn’t know why she married him sometimes). After a short walk, they came upon a wooden ship with intricate carvings on its exterior barely visible in the dull street lamp.  

 “My God,” Ada flinched at her words. “I knew you said you had a new ship, but I never imagined anything like this.” 
“Just wait until you see the inside.” 
“How did you get this?” 

“Through some negotiations.” 

“Negotiations?” 

“You don’t want to know.” 

“I think I do.” 

“What if I told you we’d be drinking the man who sold me this ship?” 

“I would be disgusted.” 

 “Well, prepare yourself then.”  

 “How could he have sold you the ship if you killed-”  

“Hush, darling. Wouldn’t want me to get caught now, would you? You need to relax, everything is fine.” They boarded the ship. Ada didn’t think it would be difficult, but her skirt caught on one of the carvings on the side and tore.  

 “Oh, dear!”   

“Come now, I have spare outfits you can use.” They were quick to walk across the deck and towards a wooden door with a raven painted onto it. Holly unlocked the black latch and held the door open for Ada. “I never liked you in green anyways.” 

 Ada was surprised to find that Holly owned dresses, for as long as she had known her, she had only worn one a handful of times (unwillingly and with much dread that is). She chose a white frilly, flowy number that looked the least complicated to put on. The material was soft, Ada thought it was the fanciest nightdress she had ever seen.   

“Where did you get a dress like this?”  

“Spain, it’s also where I got this ship.” 

“Have you traveled elsewhere?” Ada stepped behind a dressing blind and began removing her torn up dress. She was careful not to drop the silver band from her sleeve, she took it out and clutched it tightly in her right palm.  

“Sure, Belgium, Denmark, Italy, Germany, France-” 

“Where has been your favorite place?” She tossed her dress, so it hung on the blind and stepped into the white dress, it’s soft material embracing her in a loose hug.  
“Any place where you are,” Holly said. Ada couldn’t see her but knew she was smiling.  

“Do you have something I can use to sew my dress?”  

“I may let me look.” Ada stepped out from behind the blind, grabbing her green dress. Holly was still in her coat, searching through the mahogany wardrobe Ada had found the dress she was in now. The room was cozy, with wooden walls and stuff everywhere. An unkempt bed with red sheets was near the dressing blind, a desk laid on the opposite corner of the room, two chairs with red velvet lining sat on the outside of it. Daggers, empty wine bottles, papers, and dirty clothes were littered throughout the room. A grey tea set with white floral designs sat atop the desk, ready to be used. Ada turned back to Holly and saw her staring at her. 

“What?” 

“Nothing, nothing,” Holly wasn’t one for blushing. Ada liked to joke that her cheeks glowed. “Here, I found this. I could only find black thread, I’m sorry I-” 

“No, no, it’ll do fine. Thank you.” Ada took the needle and thread from Holly. They stood in silence for a few moments; the soft sounds of water sloshing the sides of the ship lulled throughout the room. 

“Have a seat,” Holly led Ada to the desk with the tea set, she sat Ada down in one of the velvet chairs in front of the desk before taking her place in the grand leather behind it. “How has this life been?” 

“Well. Yours?” 

“Adventurous, I guess that comes with being the Captain of the Cursed Siren.” Holly had poured them their drink and offered Ada a cup of the red liquid.  

“Is this really the man from earlier?” 

“Benicio Arnau was an ass, he deserved what was coming-” 

“My God,” Ada took the cup with her left hand, her right still occupied holding the ring. She sniffed the cup and became dizzy, it had been years since she had tasted the blood of another human. An extreme hunger brewed within her, “Why not go out and get one of the street sleepers? There was a hearty man in the alleyway not too far-” 

“What’s wrong with Benicio?” Holly asked as she drank from her cup. “I think he tastes just fine.” 

“I can’t do this.” 

“Why not?” 
“It’s not right-” 

“And taking one of the poor unfortunate souls out there is any better?” 

“It’ll end their suffering.” 

“Suffering?” Holly scoffed as she continued to drink. “They don’t suffer. They don’t know the first thing about suffering, their lives are over before they know it. They don’t get time to suffer.” Ada stayed silent and began sewing her dress skirt back together. 

“Just try it, I know you want to. How long has it been since you’ve had a drink?” 

“I had one this morning-” 

“A mortal’s blood?” 

“A lamb’s.” 

“See? I bet you haven’t had a human’s since the last time we were together.” Ada didn’t want to fuel Holly’s pride any further and continued working on her dress. “At least try it?” 

“No.” 

“Why not?” 

“I don’t want to end up hurting anyone.” 

“You won’t, I promise. I’ll make sure of it.” Holly set her cup down and poured herself another drink. “Come now, let’s toast.” 

“To what?” 

“To seeing each other again! It’s been years, Ada.” 

Ada smiled and took her cup from off the desk, raised her with Holly, and the two drank. Ada felt warm, mortal’s blood always had that effect on her. With the animal’s blood, everything was normal and a bit cold. Human blood, possibly because it was so rare to her, made her feel out of her body. She assumed it was what mortals felt like after consuming enough alcohol (she’d never had that reaction. alcohol only tasted bitter to her). Ada took another drink, nearly finishing her cup.  
“Adalaide, take it slow. I know how you are with this stuff.” 

“Then why did you want me to drink it in the first place?” 

“Because everything is okay in moderation, darling.”   

“But, I want more now!” Ada stood abruptly and lunged for the teapot, her silver ring clattered on the desk.  

“Ada, stop!” Holly shouted as she took the teapot in time. She looked and saw the ring on her desk. She picked it up and held it towards Ada. “What the hell is this?” 

“Nothing!” Ada reached for it, only for Holly to pull back, causing Ada to fall atop the desk, nearly missing the tea set.  

“What has gotten into you?!” Holly stood, disgust laced her voice. She walked around the desk to look at the ring in a better light. “Who gave this to you?” 

“Holly, it’s nothing-” 

“Who?” Holly turned, Ada was shocked to see her eyes red, on the verge of tears. Ada didn’t say anything, she just kept her head down. 

“I thought since you were wearing the ring. The one I gave you all those years ago that we still had something.” Ada had never seen Holly cry before, she poured herself another cup of blood and downed it. Holly returned to her place behind the desk. Ada began filling herself another cup full, only for Holly to gently lay her hand atop hers.  

“I think you’ve had quite enough, dear,”  Holly composed herself.  

“I’m sorry,” Ada said after a few moments. 

“Who is she?” Holly said as she poured herself a cup of blood. “Tell me about her.” 

“His name is Bert-” 

He?!” 

“Yes,” Holly didn’t speak, so Ada continued. “He’s a butcher-” 

“Does he know?” 

“No.” 

“Quite the secret to carry. I suppose it’s smart though, marrying a butcher who can supply you with daily sustenance-” 

“He’s very kind-” 

“I wasn’t finished!” Holly exploded. They sat in another uncomfortable silence for what seemed like forever. “How long?” 

“It’s not important.” 

“How long?” 

“Holly-” 

“How long after we last met did you begin courting him?!” Holly slammed her cup against the desk, blood splattered everywhere, onto Ada’s new dress and her old one. “Shit!” 

“It’s fine, it’s fine,” Ada said. “Don’t worry about this right now.” Silence covered the room again, Ada went back to sewing her dress.  

“Were you going to tell me?” Ada stayed silent, her sewing becoming more frantic. “Adalaide-” 

“I didn’t know how to tell you. I wanted to avoid this whole thing.” 

“Why did you do it?” 
“I thought I would never see you again-” 

“I don’t believe you. Need I remind you: we are immortal. We would’ve crossed paths again eventually.” 

“But I didn’t know how long!” 

“You knew I wouldn’t keep you waiting for long! I never do!”  

“I just wanted something different-” 

“Do you love him? What does he offer that I don’t.” 

“He’ll die someday, that’s what he offers,” Ada looked up at Holly furious. “He is a short term commitment for me.” 

“Nevermind you already had a long term one with me, or so I thought.” 

“Oh, come on now. Don’t tell me you haven’t been with someone else within your tenure as a Captain? All the talk is that women must hide because pirate pillage and rape-” 

“How dare you compare me to those monsters?! Humankind is a sickness, they are all infected-” Ada started crying, Holly stopped.  

“I don’t know what to do! I’m not happy, I love Bert I do. But I’m not happy. I miss being with you, I miss us. I wasn’t going to come tonight. I wasn’t. I closed myself off from you long ago. Oh, Holly, what have I-ow!” Ada Rose, in all of her distress, had scraped the needle across her palm. Blood immediately began to leak from the wound and down her hand.  Holly was there in a moment, she looked at Ada as if asking permission, Ada nodded. Holly brought Ada’s palm to her mouth. She then began to kiss her wrists, her lips lingered on her neck.   

“Let me in, please, it’s been too long.” Ada tilted her head back and closed her eyes, letting Holly in. 


Amanda May is a senior at Lindenwood University. She is majoring in English Literature with an Emphasis in Creative Writing and minoring in Journalism. When she isn’t writing, she can probably be found screaming or crying (or both) about Star Wars, anime, or Florence + The Machine. She can be found on Twitter and Instagram @Amandalorian451

Categories
12th Edition Fiction - 12th Edition Short Story

Evasive Actions of the Mind

“Son,” The Venator loudly called out through flooded timber. “Quiet yourself! For they are fast approaching.” 

Almost immediately, the Tyro — only about 12 or so years old — focused his eyes on the meadow passage that bordered the swampy portion in which they sat. He could not help but imagine a great many beasts traversing the grassy plain that lay before them, and he hoped his father — who rested behind a tree some distance behind — would not mind if he considered the prospective course of his arrows. 

A moment passed, but the Tyro’s desire to prepare himself for the incoming quarry was deadened with the heavy sigh emitted from his father. The boy felt a sense of failure that seemed almost innate to his existence. 

“Son,” The Venator spoke in a quieter voice this time, but his tone held all of the rages of a Capital Clansman. “I can feel your anxiety. If you do not silence this conflict of your soul at this very moment, your mother and I may very well be required to tear the flesh from you and your siblings rather than from the lamassu which we seek.” 

“Father,” The Tyro began after a panicked attempt to clear his mind, during which he partially swiveled his head to view the tree behind which his parent rested. “I have done as you requested. What more do you suppose I should do?” 

Slight ripples in the shining waters of the marsh emerged from behind the mud-stained tree, and the Venator appeared fully from its darkened side. His light blue eyes were wide with incredulity. “Do you truly believe that you have reached the Ataraxic State of Being in the same way that an Agrestic Warlock might?” 

The Tyro forced his gaze downward to the ripples as they met his tarred boots. He had never achieved success in any of his father’s endeavors. He should have expected this result and reprimand from the start. 

“Have you taken any of the Matriarch’s teachings to heart?” The Venator’s voice was even softer this time. The Tyro thought it was eerily similar to the serene atmosphere preceding a storm. “Did you even attend the –” 

His father’s voice was cut off at the sound of the meadow grasses swaying, and the Tyro quickly lifted his face to see nothing more than the after-effects of the wind. He would have to mark the sigil of the Collective Cause into his quarter’s western wall; the gratitude he felt for the distraction of natural forces was great. 

Regardless of where their attention rested, though, the father still had an important lesson to impart upon his son. “The beast approaches. Quickly, you must silence yourself in more than a single manner. The mind’s methods tend to attract undesired attention from the beast and bureaucrat alike. If we spend too much energy considering the potential courses or outcomes, then we will discover ourselves in the state of simple suffering, which would surely attract every eye in the wood. Ensure that does not occur, son.” 

“But,” The Tyro felt his heart beating heavily as he dug a closed fist into the flesh over it. “How am I to do this? You have said nothing of the mind’s method in this regard.” 

A chuckle found itself exiting from the Venator’s red-stained, smirking mouth. “Precisely. Do nothing. Only with the lack of action and subsequent emotion can you become imperceivable to the beast and the bureaucrat. Only with a lack of action and subsequent emotion can you attend to the affairs ahead of you.” 

“But father–” 

In an instant, his father was looming over him. The large waves of marsh water had somehow barely shifted from the swift movement of the Venator’s tar-coated legs, yet the hulking man had found himself in an entirely different position. One that was completely advantageous to him, as one hand covered the mouth of his son, and the other clasped the synthetic handle of the stiletto strapped to his upper arm. 

 The Tyro attempted to speak in a panic but to no avail. For the father’s hand was firmly emplaced over nearly half of the boy’s face. Only the eyes seemed to communicate, as the large man’s electric blue irises displayed a deep concern. 

And then they didn’t. The Venator’s pupils expanded greatly. The irises also seemed to take up a sort of glossy hue to them. This must have been the process he had spoken of moments earlier; the lamassu had probably neared them enough for his father to have sensed its presence and prompted evasive actions of the mind. 

The Tyro knew he should attempt to replicate the effort, but he lacked the direction to do so. How had his father willed himself into such a state with such ease? 

The question seemed to exponentially increase in its significance as metal scraping against sheath sounded out. Surely this was the reprimand the boy had imagined — perhaps twenty lacerations this time? He could imagine receiving twice that amount if the lamassu were allowed to escape once again. 

Instead, his father’s grip loosened, and the Tyro watched as a gathering of dark, yet somehow shiny, figures approached straight toward them from the edge of the meadow clearing. 

“Units of the Wood!” One of the figures — who could now be discerned as donning a dark, metallic armor — screamed as his fellow beings spread further throughout the grasses. Each one held a staff or pair of batons that seemed to have a spirit of its own, and the Tyro began to feel an awkward sense of anger. He still did not understand the identities of these people, yet he hated them with such vigor. 

Suddenly, the boy felt his body sway violently against the counterforce of his father’s arms. What was he doing? If he impacted the water with any individual appendage, then he and his father would certainly be uncovered. Nevertheless, his arms tensed in preparation; he sensed in himself an urge to execute an attack upon his father’s restrictive extremities. 

“Units of the Wood!” The same figure yelled out again, somehow exuding even more rage than the last time. “If you do not reveal yourself within the next half-cycle, your precious settlement will be burned and your families drawn and quartered. In accordance with the Conventions of the Collective Conscious…” 

At this, the Venator’s pale irises lost their cloudy shroud. 

“…the Orbital Sovereigns have deigned me as…” 

The Tyro looked again to the figures and then back to his father’s eyes, which still only held blue-rimmed darkness. 

“…and so I have been called upon to execute the actions…” 

His father’s grip loosened as the voices neared the swampy waters, and the boy found himself falling as the harsh voice neared. 

“…of abundant mercy.” 

Fear abounded through the very essence of the Tyro as the entire force of his short body seemed to attract itself to the mud-infused pool below him. 

But the resounding splash never arrived. Instead, a wretched voice called out in a tone that radiated malevolence: “Over here!” 

Immediately, the figures of black armor were upon them. Some stood idly in the waters in front of the father and son, as if their sole purpose was to prohibit passage away from this suddenly-perilous place. Others found themselves perched in the trees, their metallic chest-plates and shoulder-pieces glistening in the sunlight as the batons they held glowed an intense array of bright colors. 

 It was only with the closest approach of the leading member of the apparent opposition that the boy noticed the resumption of his father’s movement; the Venator’s arms almost seemed to go limp as they fell from their grasp on his son. 

With this indication of forfeiture, the armored leader began from behind a mask of darkness: “Well done, Venator. Or at least nearly so. Had your child here not exhibited the small degree of fear that he had, we very well might have passed you by. It is so simple to detect a weakling’s soul in the ever-chaotic state of nature.” 

At this, the Venator only grunted. He seemed to hold his gaze slightly above the leader’s helmeted head. 

“Of course, we would have discovered you in the end.” 

Another moment of silence resumed as the boy’s father remained physically unperturbed by the taunting words, and the leader accordingly turned to view his supposed subordinates behind him. 

“For the Capital Clansmen always claim their own.” 

With a slow upward movement, the leader lifted the dark helmet off of his head and turned to look at the father squarely in the eyes — eyes that seemed to imitate his own. 

“And you are very much one of us, Venator.” 


Zane Bell is a junior studying History and English Literature at Lindenwood University. He originally hails from the small town of Washington, Missouri, where his parents taught him various lessons, including how to hunt and shoot. In his spare time, he enjoys entertainment media and discussions of culture and history.

Categories
12th Edition Poetry- 12th Edition

when the twink and the butch get together over discord

Playing through an mp3 file on my old crappy laptop I got for free from my father, her voice transmits a signal of safety, of living with a stable internet connection, of being whole and happy in a stone cottage high in the mountains, surrounded by pine and earth. 

She sounds gorgeous, and I want to press my mouth against the microphone just to see if I can taste her lips through the Wi-Fi at my work that delivers her to me. I don’t see her face nearly enough, so I long for her in the empty spaces between vowels and consonants, hanging onto the smiles I can hear, the crinkling of eyes I swear emits via the soundwaves blasted from almost a thousand miles away. 

I don’t want to scare her with the ugly declarations of passion I do not yet know how to make,  so I simply curl up in the hollow emptiness left behind when she’s gone, because “I love you” sounds tinny and false over the phone, and she deserves to hear it from a flesh and blood man who isn’t so virtual. 

One day, I’ll hold her in my arms, press my hand to her chest so I can feel her heartbeat, and brush her hair aside to whisper in her ear those words that I need her to feel in her bones. 

For now though, I’ll listen to that Rise Against cover she recorded for me, and I’ll know that the sun’s always rising in the sky somewhere. 


Emerson Gray, a disabled genderqueer creator living in Saint Louis, Missouri, has been previously published in the Eunoia Review and Neon Mariposa Magazine. His piece “Life of an Ophelian Girl”, as seen in Crabfat Magazine, was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. He can be contacted on Twitter @Emerson_Gray_

Categories
12th Edition Poetry- 12th Edition

Up in Flames

Delilah Abell 

Beautiful and talented 

All women envy her, all men want her. 

 But her eyes lock on one thing… power. 

An actress by day… arsonist by night. 

Manipulation and force are her key to success 

She auditions and is accepted, it’s very rare that she is rejected.  

If she is rejected, well… they will surely pay. 

Their company will go up in flames. 

So, as you can see, entertainment industries have no voice. 

Casting her as the lead is their best and only choice. 

In sad way, she’s gets away with it.  

Destruction and chaos 

She’s even enjoys it. 

 A warning to all entertainment industries 

The next time you see the name Delilah Abell 

Remember to give her the lead role.  

Never, Never, never reject her. 

Or you will burn in her hell hole. 

It’s not difficult to recognize her 

Eyes that are hazel, and bright as the sun. 

Brunette hair that looks black from a distance. 

Olive skin that’s oil resistant.   

From the looks of it, she seems innocent in a way. 

But as you know, your true self always gives you away. 

Her indication is the look of hatred  

Eyes changing into a lifeless black 

The saying goes “If looks could kill, you be dead.” 

With her death stare, you can’t never get that image out of your head.  

Once again, I plead, cast her as the lead. 

Your company will be safe… And undemolished. 

But most of all, make sure that one day she will pay. 

Justice will be served. 

Her luxurious life will… go up in flames. 


Andre Tompkins a junior at Lindenwood University (soon to be Senior this fall!), earning their bachelor’s degree in Social work while minoring in psychology, Gender Studies, and creative writing. Andre is currently an editor for Lindenwood’s undergraduate literary journal called Arrow Rock. Plus, Andre was also an editor for The Gateway Review: Journal of Magic Realism, while they were attending St. Charles Community College. Andre is an advocate for Diversity and Inclusion in all literary forms. And they identify as a non-binary person of color. Their ultimate dream is to write stories that are diverse and inclusive, that their readers will be represented in an authentic and positive way