"She was Fire"

Mackenzie McFadden

Short Fiction

            She was fire, bending and curling and searching for something to devour. She was ice, solid yet cracking with the sounds of thunderous anger. She was the wind, howling and screeching and abusing the sky with her defiant tugs. She was the water, crashing on the sand and pummeling the stones and shells upon the coast before receding into herself. She wasn’t beautiful, she was powerful. She was bursting with force and rage and the memories of things that tongues refuse to speak and ears refuse to hear. She was an embodiment of destruction, insatiable and unreasonable as she clawed at the world with broken and bloodied fingers.

            But sometimes, on those nights when the world is exceptionally quiet and still and the stars shine so brightly that none can resist their beauty, you may catch her sleeping. When she is alone, isolated from the parts of her that amplify her anger and grief and pain, she is so quiet and peaceful you might think her dead. She stills and becomes the cool surface of a lake, so smooth that you might mistake it for a mirror. She becomes the careful breeze that rustles leaves on the trees and creates a symphony that disappears with her breath. She becomes stone, polished by age and made to shine by the moonbeams that dance over her. She is a quiet song about mountains and snow and roses, sung by a high and clear voice. She is an echo of a hooting owl in a dark and desolate canyon. She is the feeling that is left on your skin after a gentle caress. She is a divine contradiction and a perfect mess.

            You see her in the face of the most innocent child, still only hours old and wrapped in the protection of a mother’s arms. You see her in the heart of the oldest man, reminiscing about a joyful youth when his bones didn’t ache and his voice didn’t shake. You see her in the hands of the pianist, composing a melody full of emotions that he can’t express aloud, for fear of finally believing in them. You see her in the voice of the performer, singing about hope and joy but never forgetting the music of pain and sorrow. You see her in yourself, staring into a mirror and not understanding the person looking back, never fully knowing who you are or who you have been or who you may become.

            She is everywhere you look, hiding in the corners of rooms and on the faces of strangers. She is inescapable once you know her, leaving her brand on your skin with the scent of sizzling flesh and the sound of panicked screams. She becomes the beating of your heart and the rasp of air in your lungs, filling your being until she destroys you just like she has destroyed everything that came before. She again becomes a wildfire tearing through the forests and devouring everything within reach. She again becomes an avalanche, burying everything before her and suffocating the earth. She again becomes a whirling tornado, grabbing at the earth and tossing things into the air with explosive force and blind hatred. She again becomes a tsunami, rushing towards the shore with a determined glare and clenched fists, prepared to drown everything she can reach with her saltwater fingertips. But sometimes, on those nights when the world is exceptionally quiet and still and the stars shine so brightly that none can resist their beauty, you may catch her sleeping. 

"Skin"

Savannah Leonard

Short Fiction

            She sat in her bed. Another day in the same room, the same bed, in the same corner of the same house that she was born in. She, a girl of only seven, spent minimal time outside that room. She pushed her blankets aside and stood at the side of her bed. She listened for the maids outside, an activity that had become something of a pastime. She took exactly three large steps forward, stretching her feet out far beyond the rest of her body. The petite girl ended up in front of her second-floor window, which overlooked vast acres of fields filled with her father’s men. She sat on the bay window, feeling the sun’s warmth on her skin. She was so enveloped in the warmth that she didn’t realize the footsteps that approached or the gentle rapping on her door.

            “Miss Clara, we’ve brought you a new girl. Your father asked that she stay by your side.” Clara turned her head towards the door and the visitors.

“Come in.” Angela, the elderly housemaid stepped in heavily, her feet nearly denting the floorboard, along with two unknown guests. “Hello, please come in.” She had learned many things from her father and her teachers, and being a good hostess was one of them. They ushered their way over to be closer to her, to be by her side.

            “Good mo’nin’, M’ss Clara! It’s Genevieve, M’ss Clara!”

            “Oh hi, Genevieve! I was wondering who would come visit me! How are you?!”

            “I’m fine, ma’am, I’m happy to see that yer well.” Genevieve’s voice was soft, kind, and strong, something that Clara couldn’t easily forget.

            “I would like ta offer my girl as yer helper.” Clara wasn’t sure how the idea of a helper sat with her. She wasn’t against the idea of having a playmate, but it seemed a bit rushed for her.

            “And papa says it’s okay?”

            “Yes M’ss Clara. Shall we leave you alone to introduce yerselves?” The maid began to refuse such an outrageous offer, but before she could, Clara had accepted it happily.

            Accepting Mrs. Genevieve’s proposal now seemed like an awful idea seeing as nearly half an hour had passed and yet, not a word had been uttered. The girls sat silently on the bay window, staring either down at their hands or at the world outside. Unfortunately, Clara wasn’t very good with such silences. To her, it feels like people are either staring, pointing, or silently scolding her parents for having a ‘broken’ child. She could no longer bare the lingering silence.

            “My name is Clara Thayer. What’s yours?”

            “…”

            “I’m seven and a half, how old are you?”

            “…”

            “Don’t you talk?” She reached out to touch the girl, but then, decidedly slinked back.

            “M-my name… My name is Alana… Alana Gallo. I’m… I think I’m eight.”

            “How can you think that you’re eight?”

            “’Cause that’s just what ma and pa said.”

            Silence overtook the room again for a minute or two. Clara, once again, started the conversation.

            “Can I touch your face?”

             “What?”

            “Can I, pretty please, touch your face? I promise that I won’t hurt you!”

            “I s’ppose.”

            Clara lifted her hands limply, as if the weight of gravity had made her arm ten times heavier. She moved her hand around slowly, until it found its way to Alana’s cheek.

             “Hmm…”

             “Hmm?”

             “They told me that you me that you were different from me. That your skin was different from mine… But it feels the same to me.”

"La Dama de la Libertad"

Jenny Pinson

Creative Nonfiction

            Allí se para ella. Singular. Solitaria. Majestuosa. Un brazo se extiende hacia los cielos,  sujetando la antorcha de iluminación, y el otro agarra un libro de piedra. En el libro está inscrito la fecha primordial de los Estados Unidos, IV julio MDCCLXXVI, la fecha de la declaración de independencia. No tengo que mirar las palabras de esta inscripción. 

            “Sostenemos que estas verdades son evidentes en sí mismas: que todos los hombres son creados iguales, que su creador los ha dotado de ciertos derechos inalienables, que entre ellos se encuentran la vida, la libertad y la búsqueda de la felicidad.”

Estas palabras establecieron la nación y deberían llenar los cuerpos de sus ciudadanos de orgullo.

            Adornada como una escultura de una diosa griega, ella tiene una corona fabricada con siete puntas extendiéndose hacia los siete mares. Y su color, el inequívoco azul turquesa, es el color de cobre oxidado. ¿Y para quiénes se ha construido ella? Definitivamente la estatua no es para los ciudadanos de los Estados Unidos. Ella está mirando hacia  el puerto de Nueva York, hacia los que viene en barco. Ella es un símbolo de que esta tierra los va a proteger y que todos están bienvenidos, especialmente aquellos que vienen a empezar de nuevo. Ella es un símbolo de justicia y esperanza para los que más la necesitan.

            Pienso en ella con frecuencia, y más y más en los últimos días. Me enfado facial mente con los problemas de injusticias sociales. Me hierve la sangre y me pongo roja cuando escucho cada ataque contra los inmigrantes en las noticias. Parece emporar cada día. Me pregunto, “¿qué piensa ella?” Yo imagino que si ella pudiera moverse, bajaría para darle un puñetazo a Donald Trump y después regresaría a su pedestal con la antorcha en el aire, triunfante. Si tan solo la antorcha pudiera iluminar la mente de la gente.

            Sin duda, ella es mi símbolo nacional favorito, a pesar de que me recuerda cuanto nos apartamos de su mensaje. Creo que el país la necesita más que nunca.  La discriminación es un problema real que puede separar a los Estados Unidos. La firmeza de sus pies en el suelo contrasta con nuestras piernas temblorosas. A pesar de la agitación social, sigue allí ella, estoica, esplendorosa, conservando toda la dignidad con la que el país nació. Ella dice todo que necesita sin decir nada en absoluto.