From the Print Journal

“Never, Never,” by Jen Fawkes

* Jen Fawkes *

Although he bore plenty of battle scars, Captain Hook was a good-looking guy, and he treated Mom like a queen. I can see now why she was so into him, but at fourteen, I was mortified by my stepdad, and it wasn’t just the crocodile. He was forced to wear the standard issue postal uniform during the week, but on his days off he dressed in knee-length breeches, stockings, a red frock coat, and a wide-brimmed hat with a plume. His hair was even longer than mine, and it curled into black ringlets. My mom never seemed to notice the things that set her husband apart from other people—she saw only the man who’d rescued her from a lonely, loveless existence.

Poetry by Cleopatra Mathis

INTERSTICE

1. Between Grief and Sorrow

Grief staggers around the house

some thief has emptied.

It wants to tell you everything

all over again; blame is the story

grief hammers, hammering until your leg shakes,

your right foot won’t stop tapping.

It’s a dance for the shaken,

strung out with waiting, and now look

who’s back to guard the door:

“Cross,” by Rebecca Makkai

There was garbage on the lawn, or maybe a construction sign, or (now that she was close enough to notice the flowers and ribbons) detritus from a prom. But it was late August, not spring. And no, it wasn’t prom garbage, but a small cross.

“A Drunkard’s Walk,” by Gerald Shapiro

fiction by Gerald Shapiro

His name tag said “Sherman Lampert (Barbara Rossovsky).” People were looking at him like he had two heads. Probably half of them thought he’d had a sex change operation. He’d be glad to go along with the idea if it would save him from anyone’s clucks of sympathy, the whole “Oh, you poor man” spiel he’d heard a thousand times (and that wasn’t much of an exaggeration) over the past eleven months. Enough, enough already with “I can just imagine the pain you’re in,” because the fact was, even he couldn’t imagine the pain he was in, and the thought that someone else might presume to understand it made Lampert almost giddy with contempt. He’d moved to a foreign country, the land of grief, and had burned his ships upon arrival, like one of the old Spanish conquistadors.

His children had advised him not to come to this high school reunion, and who could blame them? “It wasn’t your high school, Dad,” his daughter Franci told him. She spoke to him as if he had dementia.

“The King of Hispaniola,” by Chidelia Edochie

fiction by Chidelia Edochie

I spent that Christmas Eve with my schoolmate Bibi and her parents at the National Palace, comparing the sizes of presents and our thirteen-year-old breasts with the other daughters of cabinet members and businessmen. All over Port-au-Prince younger children were taking off their shoes and filling them with hay so that Papa Noël could lade them with gifts as they slept. In the palace chandeliers gleamed down on us, everyone so drunk off of anisette punch that the whole place smelled of sugar and rum and salt from their sweat.

Bibi’s father, Mr. Mesadieu, kept an arm around President Duvalier as if they were brothers. The whole country called him Baby Doc—not fondly—and I’d heard Mr. Mesadieu refer to him as le bébé idiot. Our textbooks said that the Duvalier family had been the savior of Haiti, though our teacher often let it slip that he found the extravagance of their lifestyle distasteful. But I knew that Bibi liked him.

Poetry from Todd Boss

ONE DAY THE DOCTOR TELLS YOU YOU’RE BLIND

to the truth. It’s physical; something about

the retina, rods, and cones. Truth is a wave-

length in the spectrum you’re unable to detect.

All your life you’ve been compensating,

convincing yourself you could see what you

could not. Suddenly you’ve got questions

“That Fall,” by Peter Ho Davies

Perhaps because he had no singing voice, Pop leaned forward to twist the dial when Nelson Eddy came on to do “Song of the Vagabonds.” “What, Saul,” my mother called from the doorway, giving a wiggle of her hips, “you got something against a little music?” but my father shushed her so sharply I looked up from my books. He was bent close to the radio, his eyes on us, but wide and unseeing.

“The Hair,” by Karen Heuler

fiction by Karen Heuler

Truly the most astonishing thing happened when that new employee Mindy walked into the meeting wearing Paulina’s hair.

Paulina’s hands immediately went up to her head. Bald. Maybe a little patch of stubble.

Paulina gasped, but her coworkers at the meeting smiled a bland welcome to Mindy. Couldn’t they see what had happened?

Paulina’s hands began to shake in anger. Her pencils had been disappearing, even her scotch tape. And now this!

“The Underground Bird Sanctuary,” by Kuzhali Manickavel

Kumar’s bones were pushing up under his skin like silent hills. His ribs rippled up in hardened waves while his shoulders and wrists stood out in knotted clumps. In the afternoons, I would count Kumar’s bones while he tried to sleep.

“You’re counting the same one twice,” he would mumble without opening his eyes.

“Well it’s poking up in two places. A lot of them are.”

Marshall_fig_1, Marshall_fig_2, Illustration by Megan Eckman

“In Which a Coffin Is a Bed But An Ox Is Not a Coffin,” by Brenda K. Marshall

fiction by Brenda K. Marshall

The winter of 1881 found Frances Bingham reluctantly arrang­ing for her move from the spacious comfort of her father­-in­-law’s bonanza farm on the Dakota prairie to her almost­ com­pleted new home six miles away in Fargo. The arrangement that had suited both Percy and Frances since she had joined him in Dakota three years earlier—in which Percy insisted that he would soon leave his job as a newspaperman for the Fargo Argus to make a new start back east, and Frances, in turn, rea­soned that it made no sense for her and their son, Houghton, to move to Percy’s two rooms above the Argus in the meantime—had come to an end with Percy’s newfound respectability as Fargo’s delegate to the upcoming Fifteenth General Assembly of Dakota Territory. A man with a promising political career, Percy now insisted, must have his own home in Fargo, and his wife must live in that home with him, and not with his sister and father-­in­-law nearby.