Eat Your Family's Food
By Eric Nelson
It was sometime after 1 a.m. Outside of the veterans’ hall, red party cups and roman candle shells littered the parking lot, still full of cars and trucks. A plastic banner, reading “Happy 3rd Birthday Missy!” dangled over the doorway.
Boots crunched on the gravel parking lot. The autumn moon hung heavy over the woods alongside the interstate, the children already put to sleep, either driven home by aunts and grandmothers, or put down in the backseats of cars.
People were screaming over the music, shouting at each other inside the hall. A dog barked in the distance. The sound of a glass shattering was close. Wayne spat on the ground and unlocked the Ford pickup.
In the glove compartment was a Walter P22 and clip, amidst other bric-a-brac. He went to close the door, remembering the passenger-side door never caught the latch.
The quarter keg that had been purchased was nowhere enough beer for both families and friends of Frank and Donna, celebrating their daughter’s birthday. By 9 p.m. the beer had run out, along with the extras people had brought with them. The music had changed, as had the overall mood.
When Donna’s father Frank scratched the side of his truck against the disc jockey’s Charger backing out, even he admitted it was clear someone else would have to drive. He was shorter than most of the men present, mustachioed with wide shoulders and a left eye that wandered on its own, more so after heavy drinking. His wife Donna, a taller, slender blonde, saw it moving before most people.
The couple had married relatively young by a Baptist minister, with everyone but Donna’s older brother and parents present. Donna, barely 20 at the time, had recently lost her father to Miners’ Lung, while her mother abandoned the family years before, leaving her to be raised primarily by her brother and aunt. Frank was only a few years older and came with a fully extended family, many of them cousins whose actual genealogy was now a blur. With her settlement from the mining company and his job at the tile wholesaler, the couple was relatively comfortable compared to some. Neither had many relatives who lived past their sixties.
By Amanda Gaye-Smith
Tobacco, burnt, smells like rotting--
wise logs, nails stained. Teeth bluing at the gum line.
Many rings, many wives! The old pine bends and sloughs.
Oh, a fire here:
a bad year for bark-bound parasites. Lush and bursting
pillows which close over my boyish heart--
“How are your hearts?” a friend asked, as if I am an earthworm.
“I never cared for pink or yellow” I replied
In three days I realize while pissing at work that if I drink enough
coffee, I still smell like you--
one year later.
In April 2011 Amanda-Gaye Smith was broke and desperate for adventure. To ease this she left the Blue Ridge Mountains on a Virginia Creeper-like path around highway overpasses down the Southeast coast for the swamps and cypress knees of Gainesville, Florida.
Wish Me Well
By Blaine Derrick
Every man has a story to tell, and like any story it starts just like any other day. I was alone in my office, working late with a bottle of scotch, drinking myself hopefully into a coma. That’s not just an ordinary day for you? Well, the way my life had been going it was for me. My wife kicked me out of the house for overworking, just never being there for her or the kids finally got to her, I guess. Starting at a new law firm takes time and effort though, and none of mine seemed to have paid off because I got laid off that day.
It was never how I imagined my life to turn out, but there I was, packing my office. I finished packing by throwing an old hour glass my best friend Mikey had brought me back while touring Iraq. It was a ratty old thing, and I never understood why he brought back that of all things for me. Yet, I packed it anyways, and after I threw back the last of the scotch in my glass I grabbed my things to head towards the parking lot.
Almost to my car, I tripped and the contents of the box I had packed spilled across the empty asphalt. I lifted my head to see the damage, but I couldn’t see anything. Smoke surrounded me in a thick fog. When I got to my feet, I could see a faint light through the smoke. I walked towards it to see the hourglass shattered on the pavement, the sand inside spilled over the floor, and glowed white hot. A gust of wind almost knocked me off my feet, lifting the sand into a whirlwind. Suddenly the sandstorm was set ablaze, and a figure of fire stood before me. I fell backwards, taken by complete surprise and confusion. Never in my life had I seen something so amazing. The figure stood over me and spoke in a sinister voice.
“I’m a jinn of the desert, and I’ve been trapped in that accursed hourglass for centuries,” he said, leaning in closer, and opened his fiery gullet to speak again.
“I’ve been watching your miserable life human, and for freeing me I will grant you three wishes.”
I opened my mouth to speak, but seemed lost for any words. I must be dreaming, but I stood at my feet and gathered my thoughts. I had so many questions. However in my greed I didn’t want to waste any time.
“Gold!” I shouted above the blowing wind.
“As you wish” he said, and with a snap of his molten hands there was a flash of light.
I was confused, everything seemed the same. Then I screamed. The pain in my mouth was excruciating. My teeth began to fall to the floor. When they all finished falling, I picked one up. It had turned into solid gold.
The Kreme Greme
By Maria Camia
Maria Camia is currently a senior majoring in Sculpture and Extended Media at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Virginia. She was raised in Virginia Beach, Virginia. Her work consists of video, painting, music, and accessories. Maria sends the viewer into an alternate universe where the kooky characters laugh, chant, eat, and dance together. Through this means, she hopes to entertain but enrich the audience with new uplifting perspectives. She will be graduating this coming May.
By Helen Georgia Stoddard
By Beth J. Whiting
Taylor was going on a field trip to an aquarium. She was in high school. She was a brunette with dark eyes. She was more excited for the prospect of a field trip than the aquarium itself.
Taylor was walking along the aquarium exhibits when she found one that was most crowded by people. She wondered why it was so. When Taylor got there, she saw that a human was inside. The aquarium was without water.
She asked the tour person, “Why is a human in the exhibit?”
“That isn’t a person. This is a fish who appears human. He has the ability to breathe underwater. We’re not exactly sure about this kind yet. We’re still researching. There are a few who have been caught like him.”
Taylor told her friend nearby, “He’s cute.”
He was. He had dark eyes and dark brown hair. He was tall also. They dressed him as a human in jeans and a t-shirt. He appeared to be older than her, though.
Her friend looked at her and rolled her eyes, “Taylor, you’re talking about a fish.”
Taylor said “Hi” to the guy. He looked at her bizarrely as if that didn’t happen often.
Driving back home from the exhibit, Taylor decided to herself that it had been a good visit. She thought about telling her parents about the exhibit. She decided, though, that they might have the reaction that her friend did. So she kept it to her diary.
Taylor admitted that she had a crush on a fish.
She wrote in her diary, “He may be a fish but I swear that he is human, as well. I’m going again after school. Hopefully the place is less busy than it was during the day.”
Taylor played clarinet in the school. She had marching band after school. She figured that she could skip a day and she would be fine.
After school she took a city bus. It was crowded but she told herself it was worth it.
She was right. When Taylor went to the exhibit there were hardly any people about. She went right up to the exhibit. The guy was just there, looking bored.
She waved her hand and said, “Hi. Do you remember me?”
Primal Formation: The Entities Gathered Their Form
By Sarah V. Smith
Vanilla Strawberry Shortcake
By Christine Stoddard
To call her an alabaster angel would beg the question: Were the others angels, too?
Yes, of course, but she was the only white one in the class, hence the preceding adjective.
She strutted with her nose in the air, flipping her faded gold hair and flicking her wrists.
Her mother, a light-skinned Mexican woman, had her by a light-skinned Indian man
and then she was born a light-skinned little girl in a neighborhood full of sand, pecan,
brown, beige, caramel, clay, chocolate, oxblood, sable, ebony, onyx, charcoal, and black.
Her hair curled like mine, not in tight kinks but in soft ringlets with a few fly-aways.
She was what most white people would call “light olive,” but to the other children was “white.”
When talking about white people, the children would always rush to point to us and say,
“Like Miss Stoddard and Arrielle,” issuing a flush to my face and pushing out the words,
“Let's not talk about skin color. People are people,” out of my twitching, itching mouth.
Because I loved all of my angels, from the alabaster to the sand to the pecan to the brown
to the beige to the caramel to the clay to the chocolate to the oxblood to the sable to the ebony
to the onyx to the charcoal to the black, for their colorless hearts and minds and hands.
Director: Amy Gatewood
Photographer: Jasmine Thompson
Model: Teresa Ofoia