The Last Call

Written by: Joshua Lipson

It was half an hour past closing time. Paul Sanders was used to people staying after hours due to his years of experience. The young ones called him, “old man Sanders” as per his imply. To them it sounded a bit forced, something that people would say on a sitcom like, “Cheers”. Although, Paul didn’t want to have such a boring name. How would people remember him? He had a face full of wrinkles, ten fake teeth, a bald spot with some white hair surrounding it (which he was very proud of), and his old man glasses which made him happy, because this way he really did look his age. Then there was the boy in front of him. This boy was not a usual, so it struck Paul as to why he was there. Young people did not usually come to his place, if they did, they’d leave after ten minutes because of how boring it was. The boy had dark skin, a black jacket, jeans, while noticeably twirling a ring in his hands. “Bartender, give me another beer.” He exclaimed in a slur of words. He was at five. Paul had a rank for people and how hammered they were. By now, he knew those ranks inside and out. Five, that means this boy was drunk enough to forget what the word “no” meant, but not drunk enough to forget what the phrase, “get the hell out of my bar!” meant. However, Paul planned on being nice at first. This boy seemed to be wreck, so it was in his natural to help him out. “Last call was thirty minutes ago, so, can I ask why you’re still here?” Paul said as he scrubbed the last of his mugs. The boy looked to the old man as if he had spoken a different language. His eyes had bags under them, which meant he must’ve been tired as hell. “I thought your job was to give me a drink, not ask questions?” The boy exclaimed, sounding more hurt than anything. “Yes, but it’s been closing time for quite a while. Look around, no one else is here.” Paul explained, but not that there would be people

there. Paul’s bar was basically dead most of the time. However, Paul was right that it was more quiet then usual that night. “Oh… I see… yeah, sorry.” The boy’s words began to slur even more, but this was coming from pure exhaustion then rather being drunk. The boy tried to get up from the stool but Paul felt as if he should really reach out toward this kid.

           “You know what, I’ll give you one last beer.” Said Paul.

            “Really?”

           “Yes, but on one condition, you tell me what’s bothering you. Believe me kid, I know a distraught heart when I see one. We bartenders have a knack for that. We’re kind of like cheap second hand therapists. Except we also give ya beer. So, all around – yeah we’re just better than therapists.” Paul smiled at his joke, which he tended to do a lot. The boy looked up to the old man with hesitation, but eventually he opened his mouth, and his words began to string together,

           “Well where do I start?” asked the young man.

           “Your name.”

            “My name?”

            “Yeah, a name, you know, the thing that you call a person.”

            “Yeah – yeah, my name’s, Virgil.”

           “Well Virgil, what’s your problem?”

           “Well, eh-”

           “Spit it out boy.”

           “Okay, okay. Well, I eh, wow. Sorry, I’ve never told anyone my whole life story before.”

           “That’s fine Take your time.” Paul said as Virgil took a large breath. The boy began to tell his story, “Okay, well when I was in high school I had this girlfriend, Jess. She was so beautiful man, like just – really beautiful! I never had the guts to go up and talk to her. It wasn’t until this one party; my friends and I got drunk, when all of the sudden I see her there-” “Ah yes, alcohol is liquid courage. Go on.” Paul interrupted with Virgil letting out a little laugh.

           “Yeah, so; I actually start to talk to her. Before I know it, we’re in a relationship and everything! We dated for year – God, what a year! And when we graduated she went to the best university in the province.”

           “And you?” asked Paul.

          “I ended up here. I couldn’t get into any of the universities back home, this was the only one closest to home that would accept me. So, we started a long-distance relationship.”

           “Oh no.”

           “Another year passes by and I missed each of those passing days! I decided, I had enough of this long-distance bullshit! I – I… bought this ring.”

            Virgil showed Paul the ring and it all started to make sense. “I went back home, and you know, proposed. She said, no.”

           “Oh, kid… I’m so sorry, but-“

            “And then she broke up with me. She had enough of this long-distance thing to. She just felt the strain in a different way though.”

           “I see.”

           “How hopeless am I?”

           “Not as hopeless as me, kid.”

           “Why do you say that?”

           “How old are you, Virgil?”

           “Nineteen.”

            “And you were going to marry this girl? A girl that you had only seen a few times in a year?”

           “You sound like my friends.”

           “I’m glad to hear that I sound young, but you’ve got to realize what your situation is.”

           “I guess.”

“Listen, kid… guess how old I am.”

           “Um… eighty – three?”

           “Ha! Close, eighty – six.”

            “Damn, how are you still working?”

            “I own the bar; it also helps that I am friends with some people in high places.”

           “Really?”

            “Yup, after all this time, I better be. I like this job, it gives me… purpose.”

           “Good for you.”

           “Thanks.” Paul smiled and poured his last beer. He handed it to the young man, and began his own story.

           “Okay, kid, time for you to listen to an old man.” Paul said with a large smile on his wrinkly face.

“When I was your age, I got married. She was a girl named Mary, and we thought we’d grow old together. My naive mind thought we’d live forever. It didn’t happen all at once, but we slowly began to hate each other. I wanted kids, she didn’t. She wanted to travel, I didn’t. I wanted to work at a bar, she didn’t. And she wanted to be married forever, I didn’t. It was all the little things that led to our divorce. We weren’t a broken relationship, but we did have too many differences that the odds were stacked against us. By the time we were forty, we hated each other. We robbed one another’s lives without even knowing it. That’s why I said we should end it.” Paul explained as Virgil sipped on his beer, intensely listening to the old man’s story. “She went her way, I went mine, type of deal. I bought this bar, and have spent more than half my life working here. There were other women after her, but none as great, and they already had baggage, most of the time worse than my own. I looked around at my life, no children, a small bar to my name, and what I thought was a pretty miserable life.” Virgil made a face, thinking that the story was over, but then Paul smiled. “I was wrong. I did not have a meaningless life. I have made friends, seen adventures, and have known quite a large story, in such a little bar. My life is small. All of its potential is used up, but it’s all I could really ask for… well… now that I’m looking back at it.” Virgil stopped sipping his beer. He stared into the yellow liquid, as if looking into a mirror.

“What is it, kid?” Paul asked.

“You lived quite a life.”

           “I think so.” “I – I have to go.”

           “What are you going to do?” Paul asked as Virgil jumped off his seat. The young man turned, he looked at Paul, his face full of hope and potential. “I – I think I’m going to go live.” he said.

           “You go do that.” Paul replied with a large smile that he hadn’t had for years. Virgil opened the door into the endless night, he turned his back to the old man, “What’s your name, old man?” Paul once again smiled and said, “Just call me, old man Sanders.” Virgil smiled to. They shared a small laugh and the moonlight bathed the entire bar. “Well, I’ll come back for another last call, old man Sanders.”

           “Until then, kid.” Virgil went off into the night, and left Paul behind. But that was fine. He was tired anyway.

           Paul went to his room; it was right above the bar. All it was was a picture of his old love, a bed, and a window into the endless night. He fell onto his bed, and went into an eternal dream.

 

Five

Written by: Adriana Travisano

It’d been 5 hours and he was numb.

           He sat in class, numbers on the chalkboard blurring together as Mr. Glasend droned on about calculus. The ringing in his ears hadn’t stopped since the moment he had found out. His dad had advised him to stay home but he insisted on going to school, stating he’d take the bus and that was that.

           He’d seen the hurt in his eyes, but there was no way he could stay. Instead, he advocated for distractions and liberty and peace of mind. How naive was he to think that school—of all things—would allow him peace of mind. Ha!

           After being singled out and chastised for not listening, Roderick leaned over, asking, “Hey, you okay, man?” to which he responded with a nod of his head and a brief, “Yeah.” He wasn’t sure if his heartbeat had slowed so much that he couldn’t feel its pulse, or if it was beating so quick his brain didn’t have time to register it was there. Either way, he was lightheaded.

           It’d been 5 days and he’d missed two days of school to attend the funeral. By then everyone knew and he’d received texts of condolences and sympathetic smiles in the hallway.

           He was still numb.

He hadn’t cried yet, not once. Not at the hospital when her limp body lay on the stretcher and his dad’s sobs echoed throughout the room. Not at the funeral when he couldn’t help but feel disgust at everyone else who was crying—they didn’t know her like that, not enough to mourn like his father was—like he should’ve been. Not even afterwards when he felt guilty for feeling disgust at the attendees’ despair.

He came home from school one day, calling out, “Mom, I’m—” before realizing that she wasn’t home and would never ever be home again. Even then, he didn’t shed a tear; he merely sighed and pulled at his already disheveled hair.

           It’d been 5 weeks and you’d think he would be getting his life back together—or at least starting to. What a rose-coloured-lens way to think. And what a shame people aren’t cookie-cutter characters in novels or movies. They don’t fall into boxes, or categories, and certainly not into elementary feelings.

           Her stuff was still everywhere. His dad didn’t have the heart to get rid of it—no one did. Her lipsticks still adorned the shared dresser, her clothes still hung in her closet and her work files and folders still littered her desk in the basement. Sometimes, her favorite movie would come on while he surfed through channels and he didn’t have the heart to turn it off. So, he’d sit tense for the remainder of the duration of the film, wishing she was there and he was not.

           And when he passed by the laundry room to see his father crouched over and sobbing over the last t-shirt she’d worn, he couldn’t breathe. He wanted to fix this, wanted to help somehow—tried and searched and wracked his brain for a solution, anything—but there was nothing he could do.

           His brother was having a rough time too—which was, first of all, an understatement and second of all, rather expected from an eleven-year-old. He felt worse than scum when Jeremy’s teacher confronted him about the situation one day when he went to pick him up after school.

           “I’m afraid that… Jeremy’s been… crying a lot in class. I am aware you are not his legal guardian, but do you have any clue of what might be going on?” she’d asked.

           Oh, he felt like absolute shit having to tell this concerned teacher that, yes, there was indeed something wrong with the eleven-year-old boy crying in class all the time.

           “He won’t say anything whenever anyone asks him what’s wrong. He keeps saying he’s fine.” He’d learned well from his older brother.

           And the woman’s face fell and she rambled on empty apologies and transparent life lessons he really didn’t care to hear.

           “Would you mind, um, keeping it between you and me? I don’t think he wants the sympathy. He’s a strong little guy.”

           “Oh, of course Mr…..”

           Soon after, Jeremy had come running up to him from the playground where he’d been playing Sandman with a few friends. His teacher already regarded him differently—commiserating smiles and soft coos—and almost immediately, he regretted even saying anything.

           It’d been 5 months and he was mindlessly driving, which he seemed to be doing a lot of recently.

It struck him at the absolute worst time.

He’d taken exit 8 down the 404 and in the distance, to the side of the road, he noticed it. Directly in his line of vision was the Dairy Queen.

Two years ago, the entire family had gone out for ice cream. He remembered the day perfectly. So much so, that he’d remembered everyone’s orders. Jeremy—as always—got an Oreo blizzard, he’d tried a cookie dough blizzard, his dad had opted for a vanilla cone, and his mother, a strawberry milkshake. He remembered sitting across the table from her, her eyes growing wide in surprise and jaw unhinging in slow motion as vanilla ice cream found its way to her nose.

He’d lost it, almost sending ice cream flying out his nose, while Jeremy erupted into his own fit of giggles.

“Oh, you’re going to pay for that Martin!” she’d screeched, grabbing her husband’s wrist and making him smash the cone into own his face.

He’d laughed, wondering if there was any other couple in the world more ridiculously childish (and completely in love) than his parents. He really didn’t think so.

Then the road went blurry and his car swerved a little, the only thing keeping him grounded in the moment being the honks from behind. He pulled over, gut retching sobs ripping their way from his throat.

“Mom,” he cried out to the dashboard and the steering wheel and the old suede seats.

He pulled at his hair and covered his mouth and slammed his fists against whatever the remains of rationality in his brain told him he wouldn’t do damage to.

“I miss you,” he choked out between sobs. “God, I miss you.”

And then he was whispering to the threateningly heavy air. “Nothing is okay without you.”

It’s been 5 years and sometimes things feel okay. It’s nice, once in a while, to not feel like the world is caving beneath your feet and swallowing you whole.

However, sometimes he wakes up in the early hours of the morning and breaks into a cold sweat if it’s anywhere near the time 2:36 A.M. If it’s before, he’ll race to get back to sleep, but anxiety gnaws at his conscience, letting him know that if he doesn’t fall back asleep before the clock strikes, something terrible will happen.

It’s the reason he doesn’t pull all-nighters anymore.

Other times, he wakes up at exactly 2:36 A.M and the second his brain processes the three digits on the electric clock, he’s sent into a full-blown panic attack. His mother’s laugh rings through his ears and then visions of her feel like distant dreams that cloud his mind. However, they’re overshadowed by the images of her in the hospital bed, and the time on the electric clock on the nightstand when the monitor had ceased its rhythmic beeping.

He sees black, and not just the darkness of the room. He sees colors that aren’t there and hears his heartbeat so loud it almost drowns out the high-pitched ringing. He’s crying and struggling to breathe and oh, God why did he check the time?

Nevertheless, he doesn’t have a choice. If he wakes in the middle of the night, he scrambles to check the time in a manner so his subconscious doesn’t have the means to fight it. He has to check the time.

Or else something truly bad will happen.

He takes a panic attack over a profoundly bad thing any day.

At twenty-two years old, he sometimes feels shame for having to leave clubs or parties so early in the night. Then again, he’s not much of a drinker either. He drowns himself in schoolwork and studies hard for a career he’s not even sure he’s all that interested in.

After years of counselling, his dad’s life has started to pick up speed again. He was almost forced into it as well, but he denied it multiple times, assuring everyone he was perfectly fine.

He does a good job at hiding it.

Because in the dead of night, when he sits, wishing—praying—that by some force he could swap places with the body in the casket buried deep underground, he’s the furthest thing from perfectly fine.

 

Perspective

Written by: Danielle Renaud

On a planet the size of a cantaloupe, suspended by four strings, there are forests made of trees and animals, mountains made of rock and snow, and oceans made mostly of seaweed and a little water, among other things.

The music of the waves enchants the entirety of the planet as it moseys by in the clockwork of its day-to-day life. On the north beach of the east sea, a talented violinist gazes over the horizon. He is entirely human, apart from his head, which is that of a large white dog with long hair and big ears and intention.

If you listen closely, you might hear the dog-man, with his gloves the colour of a snowflake still afloat, breathing with the ocean and allowing his instrument to play him with the same largo tempo that moves the water.

His song reaches the ears of a concrete giraffe, who is completely submerged in the ocean during high tide, and whose head pokes just above the waters when the tide is low. His spots are made of fluorescent algae that glow a deep Himalayan-salt orange. His emergence is the illusion of a second sunrise.

Cats with twelve legs and one eye, who live among the trees in the forest, begin to wake up and stretch their legs in the artificial light. The trees, with leaves made of playing cards, reach higher than Cantolopian skyscrapers, and can be seen easily by anything fluttering in space near the planet. The cards hum ancient tunes as the warm air dances around them.

If you listen carefully, you might hear creatures telling the tales of a dictator who cut the tails off of all the Cantolopian dolphins, so that they had no choice but to adapt and learn to hop around on land.

They might tell you of the time that it snowed for five years, and they had to create a system of under-snow tunnels just so that they could get around and continue on with their lives while the trees shivered, and the giraffe remained submerged. When all the snow melted, the resulting water was absorbed into the earth. The ground became swollen and as difficult to walk on as a water-bed. It was a time when the creatures found it easier and faster to bounce rather than to attempt walking. This method gained popularity for months, until a type of velcro shoe was created that could hold their feet in place wherever they chose to step. They could walk on the streets once more. They could walk up trees and houses. They could walk on water. If they moved fast enough, they could even sprint up the raindrops that fell from the sky to go take a nap on a cloud.

The dolphins, however, were very grateful for the elasticity of the ground. They politely refused the velcro body suits that had been designed for them, and chose instead to bounce freely among the others, who obsessed over sticking themselves to things.

The planet itself became so used to absorbing water that when the land was dry, it began to drink from the oceans. Eventually, the giraffe was left naked and exposed in the empty basin of the sea – a child in an empty swimming pool.

He remains there to this day, his legs covered in a pile of salt that reaches his knees and dusts his back like snow. He stands without tiring, sunrise after sunrise, in his empty basin near the north beach of the east sea, on a planet the size of a cantaloupe, waiting for someone to stop and listen.

Caliburn

Written by: Taylor Ménard

“Hey.” He shook his head, trying to find the source of the disturbance. It was quiet in the woods. The only sounds were those of the local fauna fleeing his obtrusive steps.

“Hey, kid, over here.” The voice had become more demanding, almost commanding him to act but in regards to what he did not know. “What are you, deaf? Over here.” He spun on the spot, trying to comply to the demands made of him by the unseen voice, but found nothing in his search of the immediate area.

“Are you kidding me? OVER HERE!” the voice shouted, and he spun on instinct towards the origin of the noise. He drew his attention seemingly unconsciously towards a small patch of overgrowth. Brushing it aside, a small passage appeared, just large enough for him to crawl through.

What did he have to lose? And so, he found himself on his hands and knees crawling through the underbrush until he arrived in a small glade of sorts, hidden from the outside world. It seemed to exist in a reality all its own, the canopy forming a dome around the glade only letting in glimpses of sunlight. The most astonishing thing, however, was what stood in the middle; a sword embedded in stone.

It stood in the center, glinting in the meager sunlight that was allowed through the canopy. The blade was untouched, inscribed with what might have been some sort of Celtic knot work, but he couldn’t be certain.

“Finally. Well, come on, kid, pick me up. Wield me. It’s getting lonely out here all by my lonesome.”

The voice could not be coming from the sword. It was physically impossible. Swords do not talk.

“Okay, seriously, you’re starting to piss me off. Come on, get on with it.”

He was going insane. Somewhere along the line, during his trek through this godforsaken forest, he had lost his mind. It was the only reasonable explanation.

“GET ON WITH IT ALREADY!” The sword shouted at him in what he would have described as an irritated manner. “I said PICK ME UP!”

Almost without conscious thought, his hand shot out to enclose the handle of the sword. In a moment of folly, he tightened his grip and pulled. The sword shot out of its lithic sheath and seemed to reverberate for a moment within his palm. “Finally,” the sword sighed in relief, “you would not believe how constraining that is.”

He stood stock still, staring wide-eyed at the weapon in his hand, trying to process the new reality he had seemed to have plunged head first into.

“Oh, yeah, shit, I just remembered. I gotta congratulate you. Congratulations on pulling the sword, me, from the stone, blah, blah, blah, something about one true king of Albion, or some nonsense like that. You can use me as you see fit. I, personally, favour the whole slaughter-your-enemies-and-bloody-conquest method, but I mean that’s totally up to you.” The sword suggested in a nonchalant tone. If it had shoulders he was certain it would have shrugged them.

“Um.” He finally stuttered out, uncertain of his next words.

“So, it does speak. Who knew?” The sword remarked sarcastically.

“What’s your name? I mean, do you even have one?” He tentatively asked, half not even expecting an answer. This situation was too absurd to be true.

“Of course I have a name, I am a sword of legend.” The sword responded, insulted by the mere insinuation. “Technically, it’s Welsh, so you probably wouldn’t be able to pronounce the original version, so you can just call me Caliburn. It’s fine, I don’t mind.”

“O-Okay.” He stuttered. He tested the weight of the blade in his hands, discovering that the balance suited him fine. He could wield it well enough, even with the meager knowledge he possessed of sword play. He swung the blade in a tentative arc, watching it glow where the sunlight hit its polished steel.

“Nice. You’re a natural, kid.” The blade praised after rightening once more in the hands of its new master. “Do it again.”

He swung the blade once more in a larger arc this time. The sword sheared through the underbrush, severing the leaves from their stems without so much as a whisper.

“Ha ha! I forgot what that feels like. It’s nice to be back,” the weapon cried ecstatically. “So, when are we getting out of here huh?”

He froze, he had no way to transport the blade. He didn’t anticipate meeting a talking sword when he left the house this morning, “I guess I’ll just hold you?”

“That would be preferable, yes.”

He sighed, getting down on all fours to crawl his way back through the passage he had come from. Leaves stuck to his knees and branches tangled in his hair, almost as if trying to prevent him from leaving the clearing.

He stood and dusted himself off, shaking his head as if to clear it of the fog in his thoughts. What was he going to do with a talking sword? No one used swords anymore, let alone talking ones. They were antiquated and rendered useless by the invention of gunpowder.

“HEY. I am not useless thank you, if anything you’re useless. What’s your purpose huh? At least I know mine.” The sword said challengingly.

Wait.

How did it know that?

Was the sword reading his mind?

“Not quite, sorta more like just, y’know, tuning in. It’s not like a constant feed but I can pick up when you’re thinking about me. Oh, and I should probably mention, these little chats we’re having? All in your head. You’ve been talking to yourself this whole time,” the sword said.

He grimaced. “So how am I supposed to talk to you then?”

“Well I don’t know man. Whisper or some shit, just don’t get caught.”

“Thank you for being so helpful. Really appreciate it.” He intoned sarcastically.

The sword was silent. “Hello?”

“I’m ignoring you.” The sword deadpanned.

He sighed, leaning the sword against the wall in his living room before collapsing three feet away on the sofa. He ran his hand through his hair, desperately trying to grasp the truth of the situation, and come up with some reasonable explanation.

Picking himself up he headed for his bedroom, just wanting to forget everything.

 

The Wanderer

Written by: Cris Derfel

A man stands propped up against the trunk of a rusted car as the sun sets in the distance. The pupils in his swollen, sunken eyes shrink as the fading crimson in the sky creeps onto his face. Though the silence is broken by the shrill call of a crow somewhere down the street, he does not flinch. He is at peace with the world, having forgiven it, at least until the sun comes up again.

He is slowly turning a knife over in his hands. It is rusted, the same shade of dirty metal as the car he is leaning on, and it is almost completely blunt: he is able to press his fleshy thumb into its tip without even so much as pricking himself. As he twirls the dirty knife between his fingers, attempting to scrape the underside of his fingernails with it, the striped pattern of his tattered clothing becomes more obscured under the fading light. His chest is exposed where a sewn-on patch had once been; he had cut it off the night before.

He suddenly stands very quickly, as if he had been waiting for a precise moment, and swiftly slips the knife into his back pocket. In its place, he pulls out a miniature wooden arm. The arm appears to have once belonged to a doll: it is coated in fading paint, and was ripped off clean at the socket, the round fixture at the end of the arm patiently waiting to be put back into place. The man looks at this incomplete doll for a moment, as if trying to remember what the whole thing looked like, then places it back in his pocket, slowly, more careful than he had been with the knife.

The first snow had fallen. Anna had just returned from school, rushing past her bewildered parents to drop off her school things, and then she was sprinting back outside to play in the snow.

The man brushes away the dust from the trunk of the car, as if preparing it for the next person. He begins walking, having no care for direction. Why should he, as the state of the entire city around him is in shambles for blocks on end. The buildings are ravaged, entire floors exposed, roofs blown off, lying inward, resting awkwardly against bare framework. Signs hang from these buildings, swaying side-to-side though there is no breeze flowing gently through the street.

On one particular sign there is the image of a book, just as faded as the stripes on the man’s clothes. He can only imagine what the block had once looked like: a coffee shop there, an office here, a bank past the corner, and here, just next to where he now stands, a book shop. Perhaps it had once been a popular local place where students would meet up, sipping the coffee they had bought from the nearby shop; maybe a couple had even had their first awkward date here, struggling to find conversation amid the myriad topics that lay hidden away in the shelves, begging to be found and opened. Maybe the man had once been to this very shop with his daughter, where she had picked out a book for the two of them to read. Maybe he had read it to her, but had forgotten over time, not out of carelessness but out of the sinister reality which dictates that the best memories are often replaced by the worst ones. Maybe this very book shop had supplied him with one of his very best memories.

Maybe not.

As he walks past the possibly once-magnificent bookshop, he feels he can almost smell the books. This was impossible, of course, as the books had long been destroyed and the only scent that lingered on the street was the scent of smoke and ash. But the thought of what had once been was so overwhelmingly powerful brought to life the sweet smell of a freshly-bound book, one that is about to be opened for the first time. The man had once relished those moments, though he had forgotten that now, but the scent was powerful enough to make him stop in his tracks for a moment—just a moment—and think.

He kneeled to catch her in his arms, tensing himself and yet still having the wind knocked out of his lungs.

The man pushes any thoughts of his past out of his mind and continues down the street, having no apparent physical destination in mind but walking with the kind of purpose that defines determined men and women. He pats the outline of the doll’s arm, which is sticking out of his pocket, and probably would have brought it out again had he not heard some strange voices coming from the other side of the buildings.

His body tightens immediately at that familiar guttural language, one he does not need to understand to recognize instantly. Frozen in place, he gropes at his pockets once again and fishes the doll’s arm out, tightening his grip around it so that the colour drains from his knuckles. Fear has crept onto his face as darkness begins to cover the poisoned sun, and he knows he has only minutes until he will no longer be able to see his own hands.

He crosses the street, half hopping, half sprinting. The voices become louder, and he realizes that whoever they belong to stand between him and salvation. Moving with a sense of urgency more palpable now than before, he crosses the corner, where the bank would have once been, and finds himself staring at the backs of two soldiers.

One is standing with his arm outstretched, and the man notices he is pointing a pistol at a bound-and-gagged prisoner. A gunshot rings out and the figure collapses as the other soldier claps the armed one on the back. The man swiftly slips into the building which he had been looking for, directly adjacent to the bank. In fact, it was more of a house than a building but amid all the rubble the entire city looks the same.

Looking through the doorway, he sees that the officers are dragging the body onto the side of the road where countless others are lying.

He told Anna they were going on a trip, all of them together. She didn’t doubt him for one moment.

The man turns and begins looking frantically through the rubble. He is aware that the ceiling could collapse on him at any moment, and that the two soldiers outside are most likely on their way to investigate the noise.

He is no longer certain of what exactly he is looking for, as his only plan up until this point was to escape, survive, and get home. But home has been reduced to a pile of rubble, and the man bloodies his hands and breaks his fingernails as he desperately throws rocks aside in an attempt to unearth his old house. But he is too late, and the soldiers reach the house.

He told her to pack her favourite things, and she brought the book they had bought together at the store. When they took it away from her, he said it was for safekeeping, and they would get it back soon enough. When they were separated, he said that he had a special surprise waiting for her, and that she and Mama would have fun until then. She had given him her doll, so that he could take care of her while she was gone.

One of the soldiers shouts at the man, but he does not listen. He continues his frantic search, suddenly bitterly aware that what he has been looking for has been ripped away from him. The other soldier raises his pistol, steadies it, and fires.

The last few moments of light sputter out of the sky as the sun finally sets.

Silver Tides

Written by: Sophia Magliocca

The tides are coming in closer now. Under the crystal moon, she sees your shadow stretched over the left side of a short cliff. She keeps her blurred eyes fixed on the water while you walk endlessly towards her. There is a radiant darkness in your eyes.

The water runs deep. Without hesitation, you gently lay down on the sand, kissing the waves with your toes. She allows her body to collapse next to yours; you hold her hand, and together, you stare at nothing. Your bodies unleash lustful desire— the kind of desire buried deep within.

Her hair still smells of salt, but yours smells of another woman. She closes her tender eyes, and you close yours. Her throat tightens. You relax your jaw. Her heart pressed against your pink chest roars louder than a lion. Her limbs wrapped around yours like thorny vines. You never cut her away. Your entire love was a jungle. She blinks twice. She’s not dreaming; neither are you.

Your darling has golden eyes—they aren’t green or brown like the rest. Honey-kissed rays are duller than dust compared to her glory. Together you are enveloped in the darkness of the deep blue. The tide is rising; the waves reach your ankles now. The wind is blowing gently as grains of sand hit your bottom lip. Time is slow. You inhale damp air; you exhale the sands of time. Your eyelids quiver from being held shut so long. You inhale dusk, and in your next breath, you give your body to the night. The galaxies tattoo your skin.

She gives herself to you. A dreaded kiss from her salted lips on your burning cheek. She pulls away from your flesh, and each pore slowly unhooks from you. You are loose from her embrace, as she howls with the winds and drags her feet back to the shore. She drifts away. You don’t move an inch. You lay there deep in the high tide. You turn off the moonlight.

You hear nothing.

You see nothing.

You feel nothing.

You rest in sweet, sweet solace.

In still darkness, you sleep forever. You let your body succumb to water. You devote your life to the majesty of the deep. With one final breath, you drown in the silver tides with a smile cast over your face.

 

ALL ONE

Written by: Nicolas Andre

Tall straight lines run

Zero after ones

Thin beautiful lies

The only time I’ll be a one is alone

Centre-stuck

Zero exit

I’ll never be straight enough to be one

How can we ever add up to two?

If a zero wasn’t so round I could run

Do you find me as shallow as I do? Always uneven

Everyone tries to be like everyone

I’ll take no one over someone

This equation balances.

 

And Then Blue

Written by: Daphné Greco

You were the early rays of sunlight blinding my eyes, waking in the morning to a beautiful, golden day. A handful of daisies in a cup on my yellow windowsill, plucked with your hands to give to mine. Your shirt smelling like honey. My collarbones smelling like honey when I wear your shirt. Watching the sun set in your arms, gold dripping into the moon, gold dripping onto our skin. Your soft hair in my lap, golden. My, oh my, what a drop of perfect sunlight you are.
It was the colour of your tongue on my lips. Soft. The petal of a pink rose in my hands. The blush in my cheeks; the flush in yours. The colour of your paint on my fingernails. I tell you I love you. You tell me you love me. The clouds in the evening are pink. They taste like pink lemonade.
My heart is in your hands. Your nails are the colour of my blood. I drink chocolate milk in a red mug in your sweater. You wake up. You’ve never looked more beautiful. I bite my lip so much it bleeds. There are strawberries on the kitchen counter. They taste sweet. You taste sweet. You love me. Make love to me. The curtains are shut, and everything is red. Your touch lights me on fire. We are on fire. I love it. I love you.
Another sunset. This one we watch fade into purple. The bruises you leave on my neck for me to find in the morning light are the same colour. I love them. I love you. You love me. You wear lilac socks to bed. I sleep barefoot. I love you. I pin small bundles of lavender to the walls, leave them in books on my shelves, leave them on the piles of your clean laundry. You love them. You love me. I love you. The record player is lilac. We listen to Phil Collins. You planted flowers in a pot and put them on the balcony. You forgot to water them. I did it. My bookshelf holds all the words that could never describe you; that could never describe my love for you. You tell me you love me every day. The cork board in the hallway has purple push pins holding pictures of you; pictures of us. We look silly in most. But I love you. I love us. I love your hand in mine and your hands in my hair. The touch of your skin and the light in your eyes. How you hold me like you’re holding the stars. I always knew we were the sun and the stars.
I woke up this morning. You were already in the kitchen, reading. It’s strange, not waking up in your arms. I like waking up warm. But you look peaceful as always, wearing one of my mulberry sweaters. I love you. I love this. It’s cloudy. Perfect weather, right before it rains. Perfect weather for watching movies in each other’s arms. On the couch, we wear each other’s sweaters. I love this. I love you. You wake up earlier and earlier. I keep finding you in the kitchen, the living room, the hallway. I miss the honey and the lavender sheets. But I love you. You aren’t sure.
You aren’t sure.
And then blue. It’s never rained so much. I can’t breathe. The night sky is terrifying. Stay. My blue pillowcase can’t take the tears. I can’t, I can’t, I can’t. Stay. I love you. I don’t know what I’ve done. Was the lavender too much? Were the trips to the bookstore getting old? I love you. You say you don’t but I don’t believe you. I can’t. Look me in the eyes. Tell me I still mean something to you. I’ve worn the same blue pyjamas for days. I need you. You say you don’t love me. You say you don’t love me. Not like you used to. The house is navy from day to night and I’ve never cried so much. The bed feels like ice. I need you. Please. Just say it once. Lie if you have to. My heart can’t take this. I don’t know how to live without every part of you. I need all of it. I need all of you. Please. The early rays of sunlight burn. I love you. You colour my whole world. You coloured my whole world.

 

Want to Join our Group of Student Editors?

Want to join our group of student editors?
If you’re a Literature Profile student interested in the publishing world, Creations provides the chance to develop your critical eye, gain editing experience, and participate in organizing a book launch, held during the spring ALC Festival.

Send requests to:

Pauline Morel, Ph.D.

Literature Profile Coordinator

Room # 3D.5

pmorel@dawsoncollege.qc.ca

(514) 931-8731 local # 4343