Kristine Fielding || Editor Nathan R. Cox || Assistant Editor Greg Taylor || Web Designer Alisa Baxter Chris Bergaust Mandy Campbell Karen Cromar Kristen Eldredge Daniel Evans Cristy Fathers Mindy Gerun Nicole Gharda Billy Hereth Holli Keel Rachael Lauritzen Sarah Pierce Kaare Revill Meredith Reynolds Mike Riding Jenny Roueche Elise Smith Rachel Smith Laura Stott Laura Summerhays Joy Tang Alicia Thomas Jennifer Thompson Emily Wegener Eliza Ybarra Merete Grimmer || Photographer Linda Hunter Adams || Advisor
Scott Cameron loves hiking Timpanogos and running the foothills around his Provo home. He considers moose, Indian paintbrush, Hal, and Rosie to be some of his greatest blessings.
William DeFord, born in Kentucky, spent his formative years in Katy, Texas. In addition to writing poetry and creative nonfiction, DeFord is a singer/songwriter/guitarist and a fanatic reader. He is a senior at BYU.
Meghan Engelhardt grew up in the lush tree country of New England. She is an idealist and hopes to be an author/teacher when she grows up. In her spare time, she enjoys fudgesicles, John Denver, and wrestling calves in Wyoming. But above all, she still believes in miracles. Always.
Eric Freeze graduated in April from BYU’s MA program in English. His future plans include teaching a French Cinema course in France this summer and pursuing Creative Writing Ph.D. at Ohio University in the fall. He thinks that everything ever written should be embarrassing in some way, which is why his family wants him to quit writing and become something respectable, like a lawyer.
Rixa Ann Spencer Freeze, after studying violin performance, conservation biology, and American studies, decided that it was time to leave Provo. She graduated in April with a B.A. in American studies. She will pursue an M.A. at the Contemporary History Institute at Ohio University and plans to get her Ph.D. in American Studies. She will be in France this summer teaching a music history and appreciation course. She enjoys bookbinding, reading, cooking, outdoor activities, and playing the violin.
Jane Galt is a sophomore at BYU. She is eighteen years old. She wishes she could stop writing things that hurt people.
Scott Hansen is a budding young poet.
Brian “B-Love” Jackson is currently living with his gorgeous betty wife Amy Louisa in a humble shanty in a dark alley behind a condemned building in Sandy, Utah. They both enjoy a hunter/gatherer lifestyle; daily they forage through the broken bottles and egg cartons and crusty cheese deposits for rats. In his spare time, Brian attends the Y where he is studying English because that’s the major of choice for those who are dumb at math. He hopes to become a professional writer for Guns and Ammo magazine and eventually do field research on why his belly button lint is always blue, even when he wears a white shirt.
Jean Jones is a graduating senior with an English major and a Spanish minor. She was born in Berlin, Germany, and spent a total of twelve years overseas (her father was in the Army). Her family moved back to the United States her sophomore year, and now she claims Colorado as her home. She served a mission in McAllen, Texas, from April 1997 to October 1998. she loves chocolate and caramel and late night movies.
Hyrum LaTurner has recently completed an M.A. in English with an emphasis in rhetoric, and is currently working on a Ph.D. with the Committee on the History of Culture at the University of Chicago. He hopes to someday learn to write creatively, but in the meantime he is attempting to criticize those who can. He loves to write short stories, though he often wonders why when he looks at what he has written.
E. L. Miller loves spuds and hopes to have her own tractor and disc one day.
Marilyn Nelson is a music/home ec. major from Provo, UT.
Kimberly Patterson is a single mother and a senior in philosophy at BYU. She looks forward to graduating in August so she can spend more time with her beautiful five-year-old daughter, the joy and inspiration of her life.
Walter Rhead considers himself a collaboration of sorts—a combination of colors, a mixture of thoughts, a conglomeration of perspectives. In short, he has four eyes, four ears, four hands, and two brains to oversee everything. And he weighed fourteen pounds at birth.
Sally Stratford, a native of Lake Arrowhead, California, is a graduate of BYU with a bachelor’s degree in English. She is interested in poetry, Native American literature, and bookbinding. Sally not only loves literature but also enjoys spending time outdoors, working as a florist, and eating grapefruit.
Melody Warnick graduated from BYU in December 1999 with an English degree. She and her nice, poetry-spouting husband, Quinn, now live in Silver Spring, Maryland. She has never been pregnant.
by E. L. Miller
My mother has pictures of half-naked men all over her sewing room. It’s doesn’t bother my dad. I asked her once why she had them and she said it’s because she liked their expressions or hair but not to worry because she still liked Dad. The answer didn’t satisfy me. She asked me to renew her Glamour subscription for her birthday, which was last week. I mailed off the check today. I almost subscribed to Better Homes and Gardens for her, too, just as a subtle push towards a different direction but I didn’t because she’s not interested in deadlife pictures, as she once put it. Last winter she bought four boxes of grapefruit because they were on sale, though we have a healthy grapefruit tree in the front yard. The boxed fruit rotted. My dad said she just bought a box of oranges, despite the neighbors’ limb hanging over their shared fence.
She called me last week. How’s my oldest daughter? she asked.
Ah, Mom. I cut my hair and I hate it.
I thought you were growing it out.
Yeah, but I didn’t look like myself in the mirror.
I know the feeling, she said. She’d had the same bowl cut for twenty years; I doubted her.
She said, Remember when you were little and you and Suzette had your hair cut just like mine?
Yep, I remember that.
Oh, hold on just a moment, the cat thinks he’s my Siamese twin attached at my neck. I’ve got to put him out.
She rustled the phone and dropped it on the carpet. The cat screeched and finally a door slammed. Okay, she said, I’m back. What were we talking about? She told me about her new recipes and we hung up.
My mother died last night from a brain aneurism.
The airplane was noisy. Someone brought three little kids under ten and they wouldn’t stop screaming and kicking my seat. I turned around and glared at them but they just looked at me and started pinching each other again. Finally I used my teacher voice, the one I use with Rick Clayson when I want him to sit down and shut up and don’t care if he has ADD—Stop it.
The mother looked up from her novel and wondered if she should become indignant. She must have seen my teacher look and murmured to the children, Settle down. We’ll be there soon.
My brother picked me up at the airport. He flew in from California last night; his wife and two kids will come tomorrow. We hugged hello and picked up my bags.
When is Suzette coming, he asked.
Tonight. She’ll drive down after she gets off work. She can stay only for a few days. When do you leave?
Sunday. Beth and I can’t miss more work and the kids can’t miss much school.
He pulled onto the freeway and I looked at the cactuses and dirt. I began to sweat, reminding myself of sticky dandelion milk.
I said, I guess I’ll stay an extra week to help Dad out. I’m sure he’ll need a little help.
When we got home, my dad was playing solitaire on the computer we gave him for Christmas. He nodded his head when I walked in but didn’t move his face from the screen. I kissed the top of his head. He was fatter.
Dad, you look well, I said.
Thanks. What did you do to your hair?
Do you like it?
I cut it.
He sniffed, his way of saying a light topic had been adequately covered. He asked, When is Suzette coming? He clicked his mouse a few times and restarted his game.
Tonight. She’s coming tonight.
There were casseroles in the freezer next to the frozen cookies. The cat stepped on my toe and rubbed its head on my leg. I wondered if the cat realized she’s not coming back. I picked up a heavy throw-away tin labeled “Beef Hash Surprise.” The pantry smelled like oil paint and there was a can of paint thinner on the shelf. Probably one of her beautifying projects.
Beth and the kids arrived. The kids were cranky from traveling and Beth looked tired. She kissed Tim and they both looked a little relieved. Suzette went out and I called Marcus. Dad put the nine of spades on the ten of hearts.
Suzette and I picked out Mom’s last outfit, the blue dress she wore to Tim and Beth’s wedding fifteen years ago. If it doesn’t fit, they can leave it unzipped. Suzette wanted Mom’s pearls so Mom will go without a necklace. I kept a hideous tarnished pin shaped like a rooster. It’s ugly but it reminds me of her; it doesn’t match anything I own but it’s something I’ll remember I have.
Marie, she said once after her mother died, you never know everything about a person.
Can we go home now? I whined. I was tired of standing in the cemetery while my mother nodded her head and rubbed the rooster pin on her coat lapel.
The funeral was short. She looked nice in her blue dress but she needed a haircut. Suzette, Tim and his family leave tomorrow; I took out another casserole for dinner.
I haven’t seen the cat today.
She smelled like maple syrup and cold leaves on Sundays and sometimes she would run her finger around my face, light as dust. She knew how to say my name so it sounded like a complete sentence.
The cat hasn’t come back.
I threw out a box of rotting oranges from the pantry. They looked like tennis balls.
Marcus called and asked if I needed him to fly out but I said no, I could handle Dad; he doesn’t say much. He fell asleep at the computer today, his chins resting on each other and propping his head up.
Hey Dad, I said, knocking on the open study door for his attention, dinner’s ready.
Just a minute, I’m winning.
I waited in the kitchen for him, drumming my fingers on the counter and hoped Marcus had remembered to water my plants and pick up my mail.
He came in and we sat down at the table she salvaged from the dump years ago. She liked saving things. He bowed his head for a moment and I watched him. I’ve never seen him pray over food—my mother always did.
Okay, he said, trying to be chipper, What’s for dinner tonight?
Chicken and rice casserole, I said, spooning some on his plate.
How’s Marcus? Talked to him lately?
He’s fine, I said.
I waited a moment. Dad, what are you going to do now?
Watch TV, I suppose.
No, I mean tomorrow and next week.
Go back to work. Maybe I’ll put in a rock garden this summer and visit you kids. The house needs new windows. I don’t know, that’s all I can think right now.
Do you want me to go through anything while I’m here? Clear out any space or move things into storage?
No, but you can sew a button back on my coat.
I could barely budge the door open because magazines blocked its swinging path—I almost cursed my dead mother. I turned on the lights; the naked men were still there, probably ten deep on the walls. The room stunk like paint thinner so I opened the window and let the heat in; cars brushed by outside. I looked in a drawer by the sewing machine—a logical place for a needle. Instead, I found charcoal pencils and small drawing tablets. I picked one up and flipped it over. The price tag was from a store that closed years ago. In a few hasty lines on the first page I saw myself as a small girl jumping in the yard sprinkler, my brother inspecting a dead bird, my dad watching TV. Another tablet had men I didn’t know and then I realized they were the magazine men. Those drawings were more detailed and the lines more smooth. I looked in the cloth closet, tubes and tubes of dried paint and canvases. The first paintings were the most recent. My dad shaving without a shirt on, naked from the waist up; Tim’s second girl after she lost her two front baby teeth from riding her bicycle; Suzette and I talking over morning toast last Christmas—I remembered the blue blouse she was wearing. My mother didn’t paint those from photographs.
Maria, my dad called from the living room, Can you find anything? That room is such a mess.
Yeah, Dad. I got it.
I stood for a moment, listening to traffic, my mother sketching in a sleeping house. I put all the canvases and tablets back and closed the door. No wonder she didn’t look like herself in the mirror. People with bowl cuts don’t paint.
by Meghan Engelhardt
The street lamp shone against the windshield; the light splattered on the raindrops and smeared against the still wiper in the middle of the glass. It cast shadows on my clenched hand. My knuckles glowed white, even in the shadow. Opening my fingers, I stared at the crumpled white paper. I smoothed it out and cursed at the black marks. She should have won today. Today, the odds were in my favor; she should have won. I squeezed the paper between my fingers and shoved it into my pocket. My palms were wet. A car drove by and water splashed again on the windshield, dripping crookedly against the wiper. It reminded me of those paintings by . . . Meg would remember the name. Those big, crazy patterns that took up a whole wall in the Museum of Modern Art. After our honeymoon, Meg took me there during our layover at La Guardia. She said those crazy, out of control slashes of paint were “brilliant.” I didn’t think so.
The walkway was dark and the tulips were closed. Meg told our daughter Aubrey once that without the sun, the tulips didn’t have much to open for. Meg weeds every Saturday morning, wearing her overalls and her faded blue-and-black plaid shirt, rolled to her elbows.
“It’s the one my dad gave me,” she tells me every time I tell her to buy another one. It comes down to her knees when she wears it. She almost trips on it when she rolls it around her waist. “It was my dad’s,” and then she hangs it on a hanger, two shirts away from her favorite blue skirt.
The house was dark. Aubrey should be asleep by now. Hopefully Meg, too. I checked the mailbox and cringed as it clanged shut. Habit. I turned the knob but it wouldn’t budge. Habit again.
I shoved back my overcoat and took out the key from my pocket. I clutched the doorknob and twisted slowly, clenching my jaw. The door didn’t squeal.
The living room was dark. Was this room always this dark at night? Where was the moon? I swiped the wall for the light but the light switch wasn’t there. My fingers trailed against the wall as I walked through the room.
The wood creaked beneath my feet as if it knew where I’d been. I think Meg’s right about ghosts in this house. She told me about her grandmother’s stories, that there was a ghost in the house she left in Oregon, the one on the river. But she didn’t know it was there until—
My breath caught, my hand flattened against the wall. It left a dark mark on the green wallpaper. Meg was sitting on the steps, her face in her hands and staring at me between her fingers. She looked gray; I couldn’t see her eyes in the shadow. She almost looked like a ghost.
I laughed a little but the sound caught in my throat and I coughed.
“I didn’t see you,” I said.
“Obviously. Matt, where have you been?” She stood up. The clouds shifted, light passing over her face—then it was gray again. Why wasn’t she asleep?
“Just working late. I haven’t quite caught up yet since Aubrey’s T-ball game.”
She was standing in front of me in my college sweatshirt, the one with the baseball on the left breast, and her snowflake pajama pants. The shadows gathered beneath her eyes when she narrowed them.
“How much work really backs up when you leave two hours early? Honestly, Matt—”
“A lot, Meg.” Why wouldn’t she believe me? “Trust me. Look, I’m tired. Sorry I’m late, all right?” I walked by her. “Just trying to make you money.”
I heard her footsteps behind me. She touched my arm. I stopped but didn’t turn.
“I know. I’m sorry. It’s just—” she said.
I stared at the ground, my calves tightening.
“Never mind,” she said. I turned around and she smiled. “Good night. I’m glad you’re home.” She kissed my cheek then went upstairs.
I flipped on the dining room light. Meg had left the mail on the table unopened. Bills. They stuck out on the dark wood—almost glowing. I turned away but only saw Meg and me on our wall in a photograph from our honeymoon. Her eyes were almost squinted shut, she was laughing so hard. She was on my back in a bright yellow moomoo and my head was turned around so my face was in her shadow. I was laughing and my eyes were closed. When Meg had hung the photograph in the dining room, I shook my head.
“No Meg, not in the dining room. Not here. We can put this one upstairs.”
She looked at me with her eyebrows down.
“Who cares, Matt? Really? I like this one.”
Later she mumbled, “You’re scared to be different. Just scared.”
Meg and her ideals. I’m not scared. But sometimes I wonder whether she knows who I really am or not. I didn’t want to look at Meg in that laughing picture but I didn’t want to look at the table either. The last thing I was was scared—about anything. Everything would work out—it had to. It would—somehow. I turned back to the table and picked up the first white bill, then I put it back. There was no money. I felt the crumpled racing schedule in my pocket. I hadn’t even realized I’d put my hand back in there. I squeezed it in my fist. My palms were sweaty and the paper scratched my skin. Why was the house so warm? It bothered me how warm Meg always kept it. She wore the quilt in the middle of the summer and the way she kept up the heat all winter, no wonder the bills came. My forehead was wet. I turned down the heat and shut off the light so the table disappeared, swallowing the bills in the blackness.
I walked up the back stairs. They were darker than the front room stairs because there were doors at the top and the bottom Meg always kept shut. She says she doesn’t want Aubrey to wander over and trip down them. They’re not carpeted. Aubrey is eight years old; but Meg still closes both doors. I’ve heard Meg clobber up these stairs and slam the door at the top behind her, like she doesn’t trust them, like something’s going to grab her before she gets to the top and drag her down screaming.
I climbed the steps hearing my own breathing. I shivered and skipped the last step and opened the door. It shut behind me—like something had been waiting there.
I leaned against the door. My breathing was louder and I saw my shirt twitching on my chest. My throat began to close. I had to tell her. My neck itched. It was so hot. Why did Meg like it so hot?
Aubrey was curled on the floor in the doorway of her room. Her shoulders moved slightly as she breathed. Her long t-shirt bunched around her waist and her legs almost touched her chin. A dark spot stained her pillow where her cheek and open mouth squished against it. She always moves from her bed to the doorway before she goes to sleep. I think she’s scared and goes towards the light of our bedroom. What’s she got to be scared of? Does she think something’s going to grab her too? How did she learn to be scared? Aubrey doesn’t use the back stairs. I think Meg has scared her from them.
I picked her up. She was heavier than she used to be. Her body hung in my arms, her shirt pulling up against her stomach. She wore her favorite underwear—Wonderwoman. Maybe it gave her protection.
When she was born, all wrinkled, she looked like one of those white raisins, the kind that are almost transparent. Really small, so that even if you wanted to see through them, there just isn’t enough to see. But I thought I could see through her when I held her the first time. I thought I could see her heart beating, neurons shooting back and forth, the genes that told me she was part of me. And then she opened her eyes and I forgot she was transparent because then it was she who saw me, with her pupils getting larger and contracting in her dark blue eyes. She saw through me then—and she wasn’t a part of me. I was a part of her.
She didn’t open her eyes when I tucked her in, but her mouth curled up and she grunted as she snuggled into her bed. My breath rattled. My temples throbbed against my skin. I clenched my teeth and squinted my eyes. My skin bunched on my forehead, pulling tighter across my temples.
“Daddy.” Aubrey rolled towards me. Her eyes were half-open. I couldn’t tell if she was asleep or awake. I touched her cheek and my fingers slipped to her chin. I couldn’t keep them still. I hugged her.
“I’m sorry honey,” I whispered in her hair. It tickled my cheek as she shook in my trembling arms. I clutched her tighter.
“I’m so sorry.” My cheeks were wet, my teeth chattered. Aubrey whined and moved a little. I put her back against her pillow. She grunted again and turned over.
I looked out the window. The oak outside her bedroom swept the shadows across the wall in crooked-finger scratches. I sat against the bed and pulled my knees against my chest. The collar of my overcoat scraped against my chin, my tie fell between my legs and dangled there. It hurt my neck. I loosened it but still couldn’t breathe. I pulled the schedule from my pocket. I could hardly see the black scrawls. It blurred in my wet fingers. They were black and crooked against the floor. I hated the paper. I hated the races. I wanted to stop. My fingers shook more. I couldn’t tell one from the other. I gripped the paper and saw the smear of my white fingertips, squeezing, trying to break the paper. Crush the habit. Smother the thing that was coming up to grab me and strangle my family. It didn’t tear. I couldn’t tear the measly pamphlet. I coughed and spit out the salty liquid gathering on my lips. It splattered on my overcoat, crazy and spackled against my grey sleeve. The words were still written on the white paper, clear and ordered and black. It wouldn’t tear. My stomach turned. I closed my eyes and I coughed. My eyes burned, my face was wet I shook. I shook until the paper dropped from my fingers, hitting the floor softly, curling in its wrinkles. I walked slowly into my bedroom and pulled off my overcoat. It was heavy. I almost dropped it as I hung it over a chair. The blinds were open, and the wind swirled patterns on the bed. Meg would have liked it; it was like a painting. I tried to unbutton my shirt but my fingers slipped—they wouldn’t move. My pockets were empty. I wiped my hands against my legs. I had to tell her. Meg shuddered in her sleep. I wanted to. I had to.
My clothes were hot against my body as they twisted under the sheet. I put my face against the pillow.
I didn’t recognize my voice. She shifted and her eyes half opened. I stroked her hair from her face, strands sticking to my fingers.
“Meg, I—” My heart began to thud. I could hardly hear my words. I swallowed.
My body began to shake.
“I love you, Matt.”
She rolled against me and closed her eyes again. I felt my old sweatshirt against my chest, the one I used to wear in college with a baseball and bat on the left breast. It came down to her knees when she wore it. I didn’t want her to throw it out. I wasn’t scared. I just didn’t want her to hide. Nothing would grab her. Everything would work out. Everything. I couldn’t lose her. I was still shaking. It would all be fine.
“I love you, too.”
by Jean Jones
The summer I turned skinny I became free in my body for a season— a dog allowed off the leash for the first time. Timidly at first, and then proudly hem lines rose as I became used to exposure. I learned to saunter and returned coy looks, glance for glance. I thought I was and acted, too. I stared in the mirror for hours in amazement, and then in the arrogance of illusion. Soon, my skin became raw, and a casual gaze burned like molten gold until I longed for my protective fat, for the first time eyes slid off my greasy body to rest on smaller prey. I remember now the glory of self abandonment, of swallowing fear and self hatred, feeling my body digest it, forcing it through my system. I had stood safely encased in a body made of character without physical dependence.