A Quarter Cup
by Molly Beach Murphy
Thanksgiving in Coastal Texas is always a gamble. Sometimes you need to bundle like a New England school kid, other afternoons roast above 90 degrees. And whatever you expect, it will be the opposite. It was on such a day, when I had dressed for Brooklyn and ended up with heatstroke, that my mother called my brother Matt and I into her room and pulled from the closet a breadbox sized plastic bin.
When I was a kid, my family spent two weeks every summer on Block Island, off the coast of Rhode Island. We went there first when I was ten, and after that we went every summer until my sophomore year of college. At first, it was heaven—rocky beaches at the bottom of cliffs, sand beaches got to on paths that led past the ruins of an old mansion, ice cream in the afternoons, fresh corn. But when my parents divorced, it became less like heaven—parents taking turns, trying to (poorly) recreate a sense of summer joy; my mother with her new boyfriend; my father silent, mourning. And being on the island itself, an island where you had to make reservations months and months in advance to get your car on the ferry, an island where you couldn’t leave until the return ferry reservation came due, an island where your friends were far away and it felt like life was happening without you, the island became claustrophobic, almost panic inducing: what if we needed to leave and couldn’t get a spot on the ferry? We’d be trapped there forever, our eyes fixed always on the horizon.
“Calamity and Despair”
by Filiz Turhan
Back in the 90s, I worked as a private SAT tutor. I travelled to all kinds of jaw-dropping apartments around the city, raking in about $40 an hour, billed through It-Shall-Remain-Nameless Tutoring Agency that mainly served the populations of elite Manhattan private schools.
If there’s one question a young writer dreads, it’s what is your devilishly handsome semiautobiographical masterpiece all about, anyway? But the question this writer dreads even more is the one I got asked the other day at the Wicker Park Renegade Craft Festival: in what year does your masterpiece take place? Because as a writer I long ago had to put the cult of years behind me.
by Nate Waggoner
Just before we left the bar, Alex struck up a conversation with a thin middle-aged man in a baseball cap. The man left at the same time as us, lugging a cardboard container for a box fan. The man said, “Hey, uh, any chance you cool cats wanna give this guy a ride home? I live just down the parkway.”
We three friends made brief eye contact about it, then Evan obliged the man. The man said, “My name’s Groove. But you can call me Steve Groove.”
We Used To
by Luke Wiget
God loves things by becoming them. —Richard Rohr, The Universal Christ
I find Young in My Head on Spotify before heading to work where my business cards remind me I’m Luke Wiget, Creative Content Manager at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum in Downtown Nashville. It’s Tuesday, maybe, and I’m beat, definitely, as I hit Gallatin Pike South and “Hey, Are You Listening?” lifts with Gibson riffs I know are Jason Martin and Moog drones I believe are the producer TW Walsh, one of Martin’s longtime collaborators who played on and mastered this seemingly final Starflyer 59 record—that is if you’re listening to any of the words on this retrospective ten-song album. The first track feels to be in first and second person and it nulls Jason Martin like the violins they used to teach us about phasing in our recording classes. They loved to tell us that if two of the same instruments struck the same note at the same time they’d create silence.
Self-Portraits and Empty Frames in the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum
by Jessica Vestuto
My apartment is small, the picture-hanging real estate even smaller—two large windows and a row of cabinets in the kitchenette leave limited surface into which you can hammer a nail. I have lived in Boston for a few months, and in a few months, I managed to acquire a varied collection of wall art. A New Yorker cover. A travel ad for Chamonix. A Bauhaus poster. A photo of young David Bowie riding a subway in Japan, all blonde and cheekbones. With each new piece, the surrounding empty space on the wall becomes more obvious, and the space bothers me until it is filled. On the phone with my sister one night, I learn my collection had become cause for familial concern. “Mom thinks you have so much hanging on your walls because you’re lonely,” she says.
End of the Dog Days
by Karen Eileen Sikola
There is a picture in my mind, of a man with no shirt, his belly taut, his skin burnt from the sun, which reflects off his bald head. In his hand is one of those plastic wands that chucks tennis balls as far as the stream flows between our facing townhouses and Hardy Pond. At his feet is a red-nosed pit bull named Reddy, his tongue dripping in anticipation, his eyes awaiting the next throw.
There is another picture in my mind, of a man with no shirt, his belly heaving, his skin splattered with blood, which runs down from a gash on his bald head. In his hand is a kitchen knife, and at his feet, a woman who always welcomed me home, her eyes awaiting the final blow.