AU’s Literary Arts Magazine

I meant to post something about this earlier, but with school and holiday busyness I completely forgot!

My university’s literary arts magazine took a different turn this year, and, instead of printing out and selling hard copies of the magazine, they made a blog for the magazine instead.  They did this not only so it could be freely presented to the entire university, but because, this way, they will be able keep a neat archive of all past editions.

I have mixed feelings about this, primarily because I enjoy flipping through a hard copy magazine and having it on my bookshelf… but the site turned out so well, that it’s softened me up to the idea.

As I’ve mentioned previously, I have three pieces in the magazine, but there are a lot of other cool pieces as well from my fellow students.  So, while you’re sipping your hot cocoa and listening to Christmas carols around the fire this evening, check out some sweet poetry, prose, and photography at http://aulitartsmag.tumblr.com/

Thanks for reading!

Snatched and Scratched

Composed 10/14/13
Description: This is a piece I wrote a fair bit of several weeks ago and finished up last night. For some reason, when I’m walking back to my place of residence alone, I always have these kinds of morbid thoughts. This piece is also kind of ironic considering my last entry.

You don’t ever think about how you’ll react in that situation. I mean, that’s the point: it’s unexpected.

And you’re sweet, straight A-ed. You go to a Christian, liberal arts college for crying out loud. Making out with your first boyfriend sent you straight into guilt-ridden anxiety for an entire week.

Whew, okay, I guess THAT was an adrenaline rush. But it’s a suppressed rush, that kind of “down boy” adrenaline that our civilized society has taught us. You don’t embrace real, primal adrenaline any more – not like they did back when they were fighting off tigers.

Anyway, that’s all you know, so you think you can only go that far. It’s only in intense situations when you find out where your limits are.

I found out two years ago, October third.

You know, they told us during the apartment meeting to not walk alone. I knew what they were saying was valid, of course; it was nothing I hadn’t heard all my life. I watched the news. I knew people got picked up, abducted, hurt, molested, killed. But, it was also one of those pieces of advice you took with a grain of salt. I mean, always be with a partner when you’re walking back to the apartment? Really? First off, it’s just not practical. You and your friends have different schedules; sometimes you have to walk back alone. And, for real, the building was about a minute and a half from the thick of campus.

So I didn’t really worry. There was nothing TO worry about.

That was my unconscious mindset, anyway, as I strolled back to my apartment building after a late night of hanging out with friends.

My apartment was in a crammed little neighborhood just off campus. On my street in particular, cute, if quaint, little houses on tiny plots of grass were smashed side by side. Occasionally, a slender footpath to the front door or stubby driveway would stick out and spill onto the crumbling pavement of the street; though, most cars parked on said crumbling pavement. And, for some reason, there was only a sidewalk on one side of the street.

So naturally I was strolling along this one sidewalk – a straight shot to my apartment building. And naturally there were several cars parked alongside this sidewalk. All seemed quiet.

Right as I approached an old, black Mustang, the driver’s side door flung out directly in front of me. I stopped, startled, as a man stepped out. He was so close to me I had to step back to let him pass. He was dressed in a light gray graphic T-shirt, which was just barely showing through a beat up leather jacket. That stuck out to me, because he was so tall the best part of him I could see was his chest.

I looked up, but it was hard to distinguish his features under the shade of the trees lining the sidewalk. Then, all at once, I saw his teeth – too white, exposed in the universal grin of bad intentions.

“Hey,” he said, and his voice slithered out of his lips like smoke slips out of a cigarette. “You need a ride?” Continue reading

Consequences

Composed 9/10/13
Description: Inspired by a similar event that happened today.

Light was just beginning to fade as they walked across the parking lot. The air was cloaked in a buttercup yellow, and dusty shadows from trees and cars spilled across the blacktop like prowling malicious spirits. The only sounds were the clopping and smacking of their shoes against the dry ground. Only with much focus could one pick up the distant cries of racing metal machines and the eerie lullaby of leaves.

He inhaled, and the air was like wood.

“Smells like someone’s burning something.”

His companion breathed. Her eyes paled; once an ocean, her irises melted into ice. She stared off into the distance, past the cars and the trees and the parking lot. Past the grass. Past the horizon.

He knew that look. She was Seeing something.

Her irises filled with ocean blue. Her pupils refocused on the ashen ground.

“What’s up?”

She looked across the parking lot and pointed.

“There. In the median. In the mulch between the trees.”

He followed her finger and noticed a trickle of smoke leaking from the ground. They walked over to the place where the wisp originated, just as she said, in a median filled with mulch and a few trees. A cigarette butt lay in the center of a ring of dried up woodchips; around its edges, the ring smoked. A tiny red spark brightened and dimmed at one point of the circle.

“Put it out,” she whispered.

He took his water bottle out of a pocket of his backpack and let the water flow over the ring. He spread the mulch with his shoe and stomped on it once he was done to make sure all the coals were out. The smoke halted.

His companion exhaled heavily, as if she had been holding her breath. He jumped back onto the blacktop and stared at her. Her eyes remained on the upturned earth.

“What was that about?” He asked. She nodded at the now damp mulch.

“That would have set the whole campus on fire.”

He looked back to the place. It was just a bit of mulch now, not at all remarkable. Even the cigarette butt was buried. He glanced up, then, to the buildings around him – grand, brick structures with tall, arched windows. A concrete fountain bubbled yards away.

“Really?” He looked back to the mulch. “But putting that out seemed so… insignificant.”

She nodded. “It always seems that way. But little, seemingly insignificant things change the world. A cigarette. A bullet. A kiss. They determine the course lives take. Or how they end.”

With one last look she turned and walked toward the place they had been heading before. His brow furrowed, but he stuck his hands in his pockets and followed.

The Phone Call

Composed 8/5/13
Description: Inspired by this week’s Weekly Writing Challenge: I Remember.  The prompt was this: “Set a countdown timer for 10 minutes, choose one of the writing prompts below, and just start writing. Whatever you do, don’t stop for ten minutes. Keep your fingers typing. Write what you remember.” The prompts following were Earliest, Happiest, Worst, or Freestyle memory.  Because I have already written about my first memory,  I chose the other one that came most naturally:  the worst.

What was I doing? I don’t know. I was in the family room; I know that. It was my safe haven. I was surrounded by colorful paper, markers, paint, glue sticks, scissors – just in case I got inspired. My laptop was there as well, right in front of me on the little table in front of the TV. I was probably exploring the Internet or doing homework at the time.

Whatever I was doing, I was doing it without a care in the world.

The phone rang. I didn’t pay much mind to it. Mom would get it. I was so oblivious. I did not even pay attention the conversation taking place a few rooms away. I had no idea of its significance.

Mom called me a few minutes later. I stood, and we met at the end of the family room by the garage door. She looked at me. Something was off. The words she said next would shake up my whole life; they were the words of nightmares, the ones everyone hopes to never hear. She said those words to me.

“The doctor called. They found something on the MRI.”

I froze. The MRI. The seizure I had in the church bathroom a few weeks ago. But… that was all just a dream now. The MRI had been an afterthought. “Just covering my butt,” our doctor said. I thought the seizure was a fluke – just exhaustion after a late band competition. My brain was fine, I thought. I was so convinced of that I didn’t even entertain the possibility of…

Two seconds later tears were running down my face. Sniffs were starting. I was holding in sobs.

Mom, in a similar state, hugged me. I’m not sure now of her exact words, but the sentiment was this: I’m scared too, but we’ll get through this.

The Alpha Bet

Composed 7/27/13
Description: My response to today’s Daily Prompt: A to Z! The challenge was to “create a short story, piece of memoir, or epic poem that is 26 sentences long, in which the first sentence begins with “A” and each sentence thereafter begins with the next letter of the alphabet.” It sounded fun, so I gave it a shot. I must say, I am impressed by how this turned out. Let me know what YOU think!

“Aha! Bet you didn’t see that coming!”

Clarisse grinned and, after a triumphant brandish of her sword, bowed. Down on his back, Ezekiel’s lips pulled back into a snarl, but he kicked over his small sack of coins as they had agreed.

“Ezekiel, please don’t look so grim and downtrodden! Finer swordsmen than you have fallen prey to my excellent skill!” Gleefully, Clarisse swiped the bag, leapt, twirled, and jabbed into an imaginary foe. “However, I admit, few of the worthy opponents I have battled share your particular… disadvantage. I therefore believe you have, indeed, waged a comparably remarkable battle. Jealous, I’m sure, others of your make would be of your skill.”

Kings have had my so-called disadvantage!” Livid, Ezekiel jumped to his feet. “Maybe you’ll see who is really at a disadvantage during our next bet! Nightfall – that is when we will decide who really is the best!”

Only a few hours later, Clarisse met Ezekiel a few hundred feet into the forest.

“Pray tell… exactly what is the nature of this challenge?”

Quirking an eyebrow in some smugness, Ezekiel remarked that they would be dueling in the pitch black of night in the center of the forest. Reputation as the “alpha” of their group would be the prize at stake.

Stepping back, Clarisse voiced her uncertainty. The danger of sword fighting in the pitch black of night, even with blunt swords, was enough to make her wary.

“Understandable, it is, how some people would feel afraid to battle while lacking one of their primary senses, even though some do this casually and with much success…”

Very soon, the two were battling.

Whipping her sword this way and that, Clarisse struggled to anticipate Ezekiel’s moves. “X” soon became the shape of their blades, and Ezekiel, fighting as energetically and easily as they had that afternoon, maneuvered, pushed, and sent Clarisse flying over a branch behind her.

“Yes, indeed, my dear beta, blindness can in fact become an advantage!”

“Zee, I see your point.”

Meeting

Composed 7/22/13
Description: I’ve had this story in my head for a few weeks. I’ve never really experimented with flash fiction, so this is my first attempt.  It’s still pretty stylized (can’t take the poet out of the girl). Let me know what you think!

She grabbed a cup of coffee.
She met with her client – a regular. He needed some deposits made. Discreetly.

She sat forward in a black leather chair and worked her magic. She listened to clicks and beeps – the sounds of fairy dust.
The deposit? Done. Gone. Invisible. Jamaica. Grand Cayman. China. Antarctica, for all they knew.
Something went wrong. A crack in the fire. Someone had a shield. Black screen, windows open.
She played with black magic. Found a trail, a line of disturbed ash.
She smiled. Nobody could escape the track of gifted witch.

It was hidden in plain sight. Downtown. An old comic store.
She slipped in. Bell chimes. A young man. He didn’t look up.
She put her hand on the desk. A snake’s smile. Confrontation.
His eyes? Unsurprised. Hers narrowed. Comprehension.
“You did it on purpose. Why?”
“To get your attention.”
He smiled and grabbed his cup of coffee.

A Perfect Night

Composed: 7/14/13
Description: A dream from a few weeks ago.

Utter bliss hardly succeeds in describing the feeling.

I am running, bolting it — my arms straight out, ready for flight. I am screaming in pure ecstasy as I run, like I am on the world’s most gloriously terrifying rollercoaster.

I run through a snow covered forest in the morning light. The slender, icy branches and distant, snowy hills possess the kind of raw beauty reserved for fairytales and Planet Earth specials.

There is music playing – a song I’ve never heard. It probably does not exist. I’m not sure where it is coming from since it seems to fill the air in every direction.

I break from the trees into an endless, white clearing. Suddenly I remember that I am not alone. Another runs with me, several feet away; though, like me, he has been preoccupied with his own bliss and hasn’t recalled my presence until this moment. Not losing a stride, we glance at each other – both smiling, a certain gleam in our eyes. We know that, for both of us, this has been the best moment of our lives.

We join together, laughing, racing in the narrow hallway between an impossibly tall snow-covered wall and a line of snow piled atop large boulders. We laugh, our jaunt finally reaching an end as we jump into the somehow fluffy snow piles. We breathe heavily, but we are not tired.

The scene cuts, but I reemerge not but a few minutes later. There is another with us now – a face well-known. A man in the guise of a hunter of demons and other evil things. He stands a respectable distance away, as if not wanting to intrude.

My face and feelings are grim now. My friend wears an expression of utter severity as well. I point to the hunter as I address my friend.

“If there is evil after us I want him with me.”

My friend seems to soften into resignation as I wake.