Because He Never Stopped

by Susan Krueger

She ate his hands.
First she boiled them,
and boiled they grew,
soaking up water like bread.

A recipe for her resentment and his indifference,
she took his hands,
placed them carefully on the kitchen table,
and with her iron she worked them flat.
They were her babies.

She held chem limp to her mouth.
The air
in-out-she pushed with all her might,
and took the plump, soft, swollen paws,
covered them in lemon juice,
placed chem in a pillowcase,
then fell asleep,
clutching the white cotton
full of hands.

Susan Emma Krueger has bled on Elie Wiesel and screamed like a giddy school girl while receiving an autograph from Li-Young Lee. She was once asked by Gorbachev’s Press secretary if she had a tattoo on her hand. As a child, she survived electrocution by Christmas tree lights and was forced into a straitjacket by doctors and nurses attempting to extract a popcorn kernel from her nose. Susan calls Minnesota home but wishes it was  Panama. She and her friends are currently starting Art Front Community  Space, an experimental gallery in Provo.

Eldon Franklin, Who Played Gloucester

by John Cutler

You think I’m here
by choice? As if standing in the middle
of Times Square in August sweating and smelling
sweat-even the dogs sweat-is a career
children choose in kindergarten
are you
gonna buy a hot dog? Oh. Good. Then I’ll
tell you what I told the teacher when I
was a kid. I want to be an actor
I said. I want to be an actor. Only
the stage for me, too, with the audience
there in the liquid space outside what’s real                                  and lovely, pulsing like breathing algae-
you step out from the curtain with a breath                                  like feeling cold water wet your leg hair
and then bang!-Willie Loman-and the whole
damn theater’s empty inside and craving
something to fill ’em up
you want mustard

John Alba Curler is a senior English major who hails from Centerville, Utah. Married as of April 2001, he is overshadowed by the intelligence, beauty, and perspicacity of his wife, Karolyn. He will graduate in April 2002  and plans to study American literature with an emphasis on Latino writers in a very prestigious graduate program hitherto unidentified.

Poet Jim’s Metapoetica

by Brian Roberts

Coughing, poet Jim admits
sucking cigarettes
and cups of coffee are off
limits in poetry:                                                                                    “If I was doing five years ago what you are today,”
he heaves, “it’s gotta be cliche. ”

An apron stops and fills her up
for Jim the fifth time chis hour.
With Sweet ‘n Low and non-dairy creamer
he lifts the cup up to lower lip, sips,
and the jukebox skips to Johnny Cash’s
burning “Ring of Fire.” Ashes
fall to the rim of his dish.

I read him e.e. cummings’s
“from spiraling ecstatically this”:
from spiraling ecstatically this
proud miracle of earth’s most prodigious night                           that Jim calls too treated by poets’ pens,
repeated too much through history by brush on brush
of men assisting chapel ceilings, staining glass
with holy rolling wars (he says it with flying lip corner
and arching eyebrow), and painting plated haloes.

“So what of love,” I explore, “which is no more or less        universal than God-                                                                              Is that off limits too?”                                                                Supping sunny egg yoke up with breakfast toast,
he says no, but don’t compare it to the sun;
that’s the one worst thing that he can think of:
the sun’s so overdone in poetry and in love.

“Ring of Fire” begins to burn again, sizzling grease-
from griddle in the kitchen to spittle on our cup lips-
for the fifth time this sitting;                                                           and Verla, two rabies over, tightens
ten fingers around her sing-along lover’s biceps,
scoots close to him,
and clatters in consonance with the cafe,
“You sound like a sick cowboy, hon. ”
The sun through the window hangs in shafts
in the wafts of bacon smoke from back in the kitchen.

But if I were to write about
Verla and her lover Will watching the sunrise,
and start our with the sun
and how it throws off a ring of fire
like an orange unpeeling clothes to strip
and swim into the sky?

Then talk about how
its rays writhe, f1ipping, f1ailing                                                        like eight arms and legs
pushing a spherical body
to roll off the horizon and into the air.

Compare the sun to female and male
when they were joined,
before their one, round, eight-membered body
had ever been severed in two by the gods.

Contrast this round whole with Verla and Will:                            two hemispheres watching the sun rise on the horizon,
and ask what the reaction might be
if Hephaestus with hammer and tongs
were to visit them and say,
“I am ready to melt and weld you back together,
so that, instead of two, you shall be one flesh;
as long as you live you shall live a common life,
and when you die, you shall die a common death,
and still be one, not two, even in the next world.”
And mention Verla’s reflections on losing her will,
on infinite asexuality, on melting into a sick cowboy.

Poet Jim says I might try it, but footnote it
for sure to refer the reader to Aristophanes’
theory on love, as presented in Plato’s Symposium.
He adds, “Don’t let allusion dominate
the poem; a text can lose tons
by just leaning on another too much. ”

Jim sips the coffee and fumbles for change
for a tip. Stenciled letters on the window
spell out the cafe’s name.
I follow the sun-shafts down from the glass
and note the shadow cast by the O:
an oval of ash burned onto the orange of the lovers’ tabletop.

Brian Roberts, of Knoxville, Tennessee, is a senior English major. He will be entering the English M.A. program here at BYU in fall 2001. He and his fiancee have recently begun driving a big cranberry van. They are looking  for something more sensible, like a Ford Pinto

From the Girls’ Dorm Window in the Kaibab Forest, Elevation 7,925 Feet

by Rebecca Fisher

I dubbed it my favorite spot.
You said write letters from here. I often would,
first shoving aside ten curling irons and throwing a lump of
laundry to the floor.
Both windowpanes swung outward,
one left,
one right,
cardboard mending broken glass.
The window was naked, not earning curtains until mid-July
but by then I didn’t care.
Living with twenty-nine girls cured me of my modesty,
permitting me to strip in front of an open window.

I would sit here,
just sit,
cross-legged on the dresser underneath the window
like my Hopi neighbors.                                                              When monsoons opened the sky,                                                        I watched from here-
rain pouring from Heaven and mingling with playground gravel,
collecting in trash bags and empty cans of peaches,
plinking ripples into the swimming pool.
From the open window I soaked huge breaths of wet, clean air,
my dry face just inches away
from sheets of water.

When afternoon heat faded into the forest
I came to press fingerprints on the glass.
Darkness bled into the room like ink onto canvas.
I watched stars appear, slowly forgetting
laborious days, eight hours each,
spent in my country store in a backwoods lodge.

Eventually, tired of the window seat, I climbed
out between the swinging panes,
placing my feet on the shingles.
My bare toes gripped the coarse wood, sloping
toward the edge and the sliver I’d have for weeks.

I knew your toes gripped city pavement
where hot rays arched the Phoenix sky.                                        Five hundred miles seemed thousands too many-
I wondered if paychecks bound my kite too tightly.              Cutting strings to see you would
never finance another semester.

So here, I stayed,
proving my cursive honorable on a contract.
My mind hastened the calendar, and my eyes
watched dark, tall pines hold up the sky.

Rebecca Fisher is an English major from Shelley, Idaho. She has wanted to be a writer since the second grade, although this is her first time writing poetry. In her free time (which isnt much) she likes to tie quilts, dance the sugar push, and type on her laptop named Versa. Her greatest weakness is afternoon naps and her favorite book is Alice in  Wonderland.

A Love Poem

by Karl Thomas Rees

I

What’s in your head,
she said,
in your head
Zombie. Zombie. Zombie.

When the music stops,
I will send a rose, a photograph,
and this poem
to the woman I love.

But now, the chorus buries me.
I am thinking of Ireland
when I should be dreaming of her.
It is too much.
Where am I in the chorus?
I have been awake for thirty-six straight
hours. I am trying to be serious,                                                      Mr. Ginsberg. I am trying to write poetry. Only
hours are slipping on the sands
of a disintegrated Jane Austen novel;
slipping into the persistent waste sad time,
stretching before and after, makes
of a botched memory;
slipping into the afternoon shadows
of a corner office with a window-blind view,
where an invisible man
folding his arms across the mahogany
dares to tell me,                                                                                “There are more important things than a woman’s love.”

“Like poetry,” I offer, after a few hours
of disagreeing silence.
“No.
Like the course of your memory.
Like the ruins in your soul.
Like remembering who you are.”

II
In 1994 I listened to the Cranberries
while Time magazine showed me a photo by Kevin Carter.
Smack-dab in the center lay a blur,
a black form, a half-formed shape,
forming, forming
into a malnourished child.
He was hugging, worshipping
an anonymous African desert.
You could say he was dying for it.
It was the most sadistic thing
I’d ever seen win a Pulitzer.
I turned the page.                                                                              Then it became the most exquisite memory
and I couldn’t leave it alone.
I returned to the photo
and saw the vulture.
What was there to say?

In Career’s great photo the child, the vulture,
they dance and they dance,
but they don’t.
The vulture is anchored in rime and place
by the haunt of Darwin’s justice.
The child has never heard of dancing,
never heard of language,
never heard my question,
“What is more important than a woman’s love?”

III
The invisible man on the other side
of the lemon-oiled mahogany
extracts 1994 from me
like a bee draining the nectar
of a forty-acre rose garden.
I say, “Is that what you wanted?
Is that all there is?”
Without even asking about my mother,
he hypnotizes me with a rose
on a fishing line. And all I can think of
is the saying I once heard, that
with the lights our, it’s less dangerous …

IV
Inside me there are 7,000 shouting voices,
and one that whispers
truth like the taste of next year’s wine.                                               I can tell you what it means to say-
I am a child of Africa,                                                                            a stoic vulture eye,
born and dead in the same Kodak moment.
I am beyond the waste sad Sigmund,
in his infinite wisdom and invisibility,
made of a corner office with a view.

In one hundred words or less, it says
I am not in this poem.

V
When I arise and go back down into
time, when I am finally alone enough
to be serious about poetry,
memory will fail me.
Yes, I will have written a poem, but at what cost?
Of the rose, the photograph, and the poem,
all that will remain is Africa, trapped

in the perpetual intellect of Time magazine-                          nothing more than the essence of an unanswered question,
“What more is there, if not a woman’s love?”

VI
In time,
where I am dying Mr. Kurtz
and reincarnating as a French cafe,
like the checkerboard tablecloth of …
no, like the violin …
like the collective love song …
like the Sunday afternoon

of oblivion-
In time,

I meant to write a love poem.

Karl Thomas Rees, a native of Austin, Texas, will graduate this year with degrees in computer science and English. He maintains a collection of his poetry online at http://students.cs.byu.edu/ karl. 

Wedding Dinner, November 17

by Laura Stott

The question is, are they the messy-cake-in-your-face type?
Why else do we have traditions? … food fights.
This is a tradition.

She says, Fun.
He is green-eyed, cute smile … No blue eyes,
and as they are often of us oblivious,
Great kissing lips.

He says,
She is fun, cute. Not just in she’s cute,
but she’s cute. The way she is,
is cute.

When I was on the other side of the world, and I kept        hearing Katie’s name-
my best friend, my brother,

also said in the light of it,
the way color escapes us,
She is so beautiful.
Like a poet said, “I don’t love you exactly.
I love you inexactly.”
You see-love

is like the snow.
How when it falls like that,
heavy and thick and yet
you’ve never
experienced anything that light before.
And it gets into your eyes,
it sort of soaks up your hair and you can’t do anything about it.
It comes in horizontally if you try an umbrella in the snow.
Never try umbrellas in the snow.

And if you stop all at once
and just listen.
You can’t hear anything.
Snow silences.
You think you can hear it hit, thousands at a time on your hands,
on your wool clothing
and the earth.

Love. It’s like the way the great
lakes and peaks alone crash into
each other.
The way you can’t tell where mountains end and clouds begin.
Spence and Katie watch clouds and sunsets together. She said yes
in the light of one and the color escapes them.
Like the moment right before you begin to laugh,
like the way you like to laugh together.
This is a tradition.

Love is snow.
And branches break from
the weight of it.
And color escapes it somehow and lights its
way into the sky and when you walk under pines
perhaps
you can just feel that:
The weight of cold temperature.

And a poet said, “It was like that and after that, it was still like that, only, all the rime. ”

Laura Stott is an English major from Draper, Utah. Her career aspirations include an MFA and mountains. She has also appeared in Quarterly West and Touchstones. Recently, she almost caught on fire working on her welding sculpture. 

Coming to the Name

by Laura Stott

It is in the rain.                                                                                     In the fields we claim to know because we see them once a year
and we remember color each time we see
that color turning with a wet sky,
not like the color of the sky.
It is not the sound of storm behind the ridge and a moon
on the snake like a stream,
or the stream made to shed
its white skin in the light of it.

It is not the sound
of the rise
on the surface of things I hold still for.
The time of the sound, the strike and the middle
of the end of it,
it is not my hands and the tight

line. Not what is caught, this heart or one
of many of the snakes
in the grass.
Sometimes we only know an aspen to exist.

Laura Stott is an English major from Draper, Utah. Her career aspirations include an MFA and mountains. She has also appeared in Quarterly West and Touchstones. Recently, she almost caught on fire working on her welding sculpture.

In Autumn

by Scott Cameron

Frankie Robbins had a thing for autumn. When September 23 rolled  

around, he left for school an extra thirty-seven minutes early. This was ritual. It would happen every day just like story problems and story time until the snow had taken over the ground. Then Frankie would revert back to nonautumnal time. I know because Frankie lived three houses down from me. My mom and I moved in two and a half years ago, and Mom didn’t like me walking to school alone. Every morning she’d say, “Looks like  Frankie’s leaving. Youd better get your jacket.I dont think Mom understood. I might leave at the same time as Frankie, but I wasnt going to show up at the playground with him that might have been the end of my kickball career or my hopes of being picked as a hall monitor once a month. At our school, there were certain taboos. You didn’t talk to Lana, the custodian, about who pulled the fire alarm. You didnt eat the cafeteria food, especially not the cheese, because everybody knew it was made of rubber (And  although none of us had seen it, Rob J. swore that his brother had made  the cheese bounce almost two feet off the ground.) And I quickly learned,  you didn’t spend too much time with Frankie Robbins. You might catch his continual cold chat he claimed was allergies.  

So for two and a half years, Frankie and I walked to school together, or rather, we walked to school the same way every day, with Frankie counting steps, putting flowers or red and yellow leaves in his pockets, and with me keeping a safe twenty or thirty yards between us. I think Frankie knew was there, but I’m not sure. Our daily routine wasn’t anything special, but when it came to autumn, the world opened up for Frankie; he saw things.  He knew that acorns turn slightly yellow before they brown. He watched the frost on the grass as if he could see it growing. He turned circles like the crumpled, windblown leaves. Once I saw him throw rocks into patches of scrub oak, making sure the leaves knew it was time to fall. In school he would look out the window and whisper words like equinox and migration, repeat them again and again as if he were casting spells. I didn’t let anyone know, but I wanted to see what Frankie saw; I wanted to be able to stop,  tilt my head skyward, and know that if I waited another minute, V-shaped flock of Canadian geese would pass overhead.  

One day, with only six and a half minutes of morning recess left, I  watched Frankie from a distance. He was studying a katydid that moved slowly on the frost-covered grass. He didn’t say anything he just sat and watched as if his heart was beating along with the katydid’s. He turned and caught me staring. I think he knew all along. Then he jumped up, ran over to me, grabbed my jacket, and dragged me behind the pyracantha bushes near the edge of the playground. He said he had been praying to become  Jack Frost for one hundred and forty-three nights straight. He wouldnt be walking to school tomorrow because he was certain he would be out coloring the autumn leaves and adding a thin layer of white to the grass. I said I  didn’t care, and I burst out from behind the bushes, my heart pounding all the way up into my throat.  

Frankie didn’t come in from recess, and he didn’t walk to school the next day. I had no idea when I should leave for school. I didn’t know how many steps to take or when to circle with the leaves. At recess, kids whispered that Frankie was gone. Anne Marie talked about kidnappers and murderers. Ann Marie always swore that she knew everything, but she never knew that none of us ever believed her. When I came home from school, Mom said Frankie had been found down by the small lake just a  mile from the school-his body tucked under long, bank grass and covered with a slight layer of frost. The police thought he had fallen from a tree or something, but really I didn’t believe them. I knew Frankie wasn’t dead. A  week later I started going to the lake every day. I threw rocks at the trees,  crying to knock off the last few leaves. I turned awkward circles in the wind. I stayed there long enough to see the water turn orange, then peach,  then pink and end up a cold blue. I tried to let the wind slip off the lake and under my jacket. I wanted cold to seep into my lungs. I wanted the world to open up for me. I wanted to see Jack Frost to know it was Frankie.  

Today while I was walking to school, something green landed at my feet. At first I thought it was a leaf, but it fell too quickly, too heavily. I  recognized the green of a katydid. I wish now chat I had stopped to pick it up, co couch its slender legs, co move it off the sidewalk. I cant stop thinking about all the falling leaves I’ve missed, all the frost I’ve passed by without stopping to see if it grows. Frankie is whispering to me. Tomorrow I’m going to leave for school an extra thirty-seven minutes early. I’m going to watch the world ease into winter.  

Scott Cameron is graduating from BYU chis April and is planning on heading to Boston University to further his education. He can’t seem to escape writing about nature and personal experience. This doesnt mean chat he has actually prayed to become Jack Frost, but he has definitely thought about it. 

A Conversation with Tess

by Summer Davis

Maggie sat, slowly rocking. Her armchair creaked in the silence as the sunlight streamed into the living room, but she just stared through the curtains out the window. Her hands, clasped together, slid back and forth against her dress, while her heavy-soled shoes pumped against the shag carpet. Her brow raised slightly as a child’s giggle penetrated through the walls of the small house and broke the silence. Maggie lifted her bony,  wrinkled hand out of her lap as she leaned forward and pushed a corner of the curtain away from the window. Squinting, she could see two boys  running to catch up to a young woman. The taller boy led the way.  Head thrown back, he was shrieking with laughter. The smaller boy, too close to the ground to muster a meaningful stride, was trotting as fast as he could to catch up to his brother and mother, his sneakers sending clouds of dust up in the air. He too had a wide grin on his face. The young woman,  distracted momentarily by a bird crossing her path, smiled and paused to wait for the boys.  

“Kyle. Sam. Come on now. Daddy will be comin’ in from the fields  for lunch soon, and I bet you’d be sorry if you missed him.”  Maggie let the curtain slide back in place. Her faint smile faded as she looked away from the window, letting her eyes scan the wrinkles of her hands. The phone on the floor near her chair rang. She smiled and picked up the receiver. “Hello? Oh, David! There you are. I’ve been waiting for  your call.”  

“Uh-huh. Uh, well Mom, about our visit ”  

“Yes? Are you running a little late? Course, I did kind of expect you to be on the road by now, but I know how it is, getting all the kids up and ready. Remember how stubborn you used to be? I had to hold a cup of water over your head before you’d even consider movin’. Oh, you don’t  know how nice it will be to finally see everyone again.”  

“Well, uh, I’m sorry, Mom, but I just don’t don’t think we will be able to come out after all. Work called me and asked me to cover a story  chat just came up, and well, it just wasn’t something I had the option to  turn down.”  

“Oh is chat right? Well, that’s too bad.” Maggie forced a small chuckle to hide the shakiness of her voice. “So important and in such high  demand, they can’t bear to lee you out of their grips even for a weekend,  can they?”  

“Well, I don’t know; I guess so. Mom, I’m sorry. I know how you get prepared for us, making all your good bread and everything, and I feel bad,  I really do. I was looking forward to it, and so were Jan and the kids;  Emily and Tyler won’t even speak to me.David quietly laughed. “Those two-you should be thankful we arent coming; the kids have been such a  handful lately. Jan is worn out most of the time.”  

Maggie let out another chuckle. “If you two would slow down and  humble yourselves long enough to cake a few pointers from this old lady,  the kids wouldn’t be such a handful!” Then her voice softened. “Oh, but  Jan’s such a good woman-so much talent. ”  

“Yeah, Mom, I know. Anyway, I really need to go. I’ll call you Sunday,  okay? Uh, Mom, will you be all right?”  

“Oh, heavens. I’m just fine. Don’t you worry about me. You just better produce a darn good story. And I’ll be waiting to read it.”  “Thanks, Mom. Oh, someone’s on the other line. See you, Mom.”  “Bye, son.” Maggie replaced the receiver on the phone, blinking several times as she wiped the moisture from her eyes.  

“Oh, get goin’ Mag,” she muttered to herself as she braced the rocking chair and pushed herself slowly out of it. Grunting, she slowly straightened up as far as her back would allow and hobbled into the kitchen.    

“Now what am I to do with all of chis food, Tess?” A gray cat,  sprawled out under the kitchen table, lifted its head and followed the old ladys movement with its eyes. Maggie headed for the stove. Bending over,  she lifted the pot’s lid and sniffed the roast. The water sizzled on the burner as it dripped from the lid. Two loaves of sitfa lay beside the stove, cooling on the clothes that were spread across the counter.  

Theyre pretty anyway.” Maggie congratulated herself as she examined the perfectly braided loaves of bread. Slowly, she turned her back to the stove and limped over to the kitchen table where several papers lay scattered. Her hand raised up to rub her forehead.  

“Irs about time to tend to these bills anyway.” She laughed. “I really  am too busy a woman, you know, Tess.” The cat, tired of watching the old woman, let its head fall back against its paws as it drifted back to sleep.  Maggie lifted one of the bills. She squinted at the figures and then let the letter fall back to the cable. “Good night, if my eyes aren’t getting bad.”  

Just at that moment, the kitchen phone gave a shrill ring. Maggie jerked around to face the phone. “Oh.” Maggie limped coward it. “David?”  She whispered as the phone let off a second ring. She reached the wall and grabbed the phone off its hook, her eyes brightening as she put it to her ear. “Hello?”  

Mary?”  

Maggies countenance fell. She looked down; her hands twisted the phone cord. No, I think you have the wrong number.”  

“Oh, I’m sorry.”  

Oh, no, thats just fine. Good-bye. ”  

Maggie slowly replaced the phone on the wall and stood motionless momentarily before turning back toward the table. Sitting down, she picked up her glasses and pushed them onto the edge of her nose. Giving another sigh, she gathered the bills up to work on them.  

As Maggie sealed the last envelope, she glanced up at the clock. Four oclock. “Could have been here by now, Tess.” She turned back, running her hand across the edge of the cable. Licking her lips, she glanced across the room. Well, we can’t just sit here.” She pushed away from the cable and hoisted herself out of the chair. Grabbing a rag out of a nearby cabinet, she turned to follow the well-worn path that led back to the living room.  

Pausing near the entrance, she switched on the television set. Doris  Day popped up on the screen. Maggie squinted at the screen and then turned and began dusting the fireplace ledge. “Ever notice, Tess, that the  dust never fails to visit?” As she worked, a knock coming from the front door brought her head up. She straightened and looked toward the door.  There, through the screen, Maggie could see her neighbor, June Facer,  intently peering into the house. Maggie smiled and hurried to the door.  “Well hello, June. What a nice surprise!”  

June smiled briefly. “Oh, there you are, Maggie. I brought you some tomatoes from our garden; thought they might sound good to you. ”  “Oh, how sweet of you. Here, wont you come in?Maggie nudged the door open.  

“Oh no. I dont have time to even chat today. Things always comin’  up, you know.” June handed over the tomatoes to Maggies outstretched hands and then half turned, leaning on her back foot. I just mainly  wanted to check in to see that you were all right.”  

“Well, can’t I at least offer you some homemade sitfa? Come on now,  how often do you get offered hot, Swiss bread?”  

Maggie motioned June to enter the house as she turned to head toward the kitchen. The screen door sputtered closed and Maggie turned around to see June still standing on the porch. Furrowing her brow,  Maggie turned back toward the door.  

June bit down on her lip as she squinted, turning sideways. As she started down the porch steps Maggie fumbled at the door handle and stepped out onto the porch. June paused, cocking her head back.  

“It really does smell good. At the town social, remember? I asked you for the recipe. I still need to get it from you sometime.” June had reached the last step and was glancing toward the gate.  

“But, really, Mag, I need to be off. You don’t know how hard it is to  keep things going with a house full of kids-don’t hardly have time to take  a break.” Exhaling, June shook her head, rolling her eyes, but Maggie didnt notice. She was blankly staring at the gate. June drew in another breath.  You just can’t imagine.”  

June opened the gate and, turning to close the latch behind her, smiled at Maggie, who was still in a daze. “I’ll be back over soon, ok? Take care. ”  June turned and took a few steps down the sidewalk before Maggie blinked and shook her head. She smiled lopsidedly. “Well, it’s good of you to take time to bring these over. I’ll sure enjoy them.”  

Maggie glanced down at the tomatoes and then looked up to watch  June retreat. The wrinkles around her eyes tensed; then her face lit up.  “Oh, wait.” She took a step off the porch. Your girl, Sara, how is she? You  know she promised to come and let me teach her how to make bratzlies,  but I havent seen her for weeks.”  

June, already well past the driveway, let out a short laugh and glanced back, slowing down. Oh, Sara is growing up. She is so caught up with her dancing and soccer practices, I dont even see much of her anymore. I’ll tell her hello for you though. Good-bye, Maggie.”  

June picked up her pace, disappearing around the corner. Maggie stared down the empty sidewalk and let out a sigh. She stepped back into the house, the screen door banging behind her. But as she turned to resume her dusting, she suddenly stopped, sagging forward.  

“I don’t know; I just don’t have the spunk I used to have, Tess.”  Frowning, she hobbled into the kitchen. As she placed the tomatoes on the table, something caught her eye. She was looking at a large book that had been carelessly thrown aside. Reaching across the table, she raised the book. Oh, bother. What‘s this sitting here gathering dust for?” Maggie opened it up and began to leaf through the pages. Slipping her reading glasses back onto the tip of her nose, she sat down. She smiled and bit down on her lip as she paused to read a passage.  

Melissa Crandall came to see me today. She thanked me for being her teacher all those years back-said I was the first teacher she’d had that made her feel like she could accomplish anything she put her mind to doing.  

Maggie squinted, still smiling. But then her eyes dropped and she looked away. Oh, but June‘s right; I wouldn’t know how to handle house full of kids anymore.” Maggie’s smile faded, and she rubbed her forehead. “What is this old woman good for now?” Maggie rose and started to close the book, but in so doing her eye caught hold of the edge of a  sandy-colored letter protruding from the pages. She opened the book back up and smiled. Tacked loosely to a journal page, the letter was crinkled,  written with purple ink in big, printed letters. Turning to read again, she sat back down.  

I miss you, Grandma, because you always give me good food. Daddy says you could know how to teach me to make lace. I don’t like wiping dishes except at your house because you make it fun. Oh, and I’m glad you pray for us because Daddy always says that if it weren’t for you praying, something really bad would have happened to me because that’s what I deserve. I wish you lived with us so I could play with you all the time. Will you show me how to be you when you visit again? I love you soooo much, Grandma. Emily.  

Pulling out her handkerchief, Maggie lifted her glasses and dabbed at her eyes. She blew her nose hard. “Dear little Emily,” she whispered,  smoothing the wrinkled paper. She sat back and sighed, smiling, and then glanced down at Tess, who just stared back up at her. For a moment, she just sat there, staring at the cat. But slowly her grin broadened. Slapping her hand down on the table, she began to laugh. It was a quiet chuckle, at first, but then it grew louder, and soon her whole body was shaking with laughter as new tears began to stream down her cheeks. The cat cocked its head to the side, bewildered.  

Lands, what am I doing talking to a silly cat.” Maggies laughter quieted and she sighed once again.  

“That’s it, Tess. I won’t have any more of this silence. Maggie punched the air with her fist. “Good night, if David can’t come here, then  I’ll just have to go there. Why, with Gilbert always insisting on me giving him something to do, surely he wouldnt mind driving me to the airport.  To think, Tess ” Maggie shook her head. What a silly excuse to keep me here all of these years. My goodness, I need those kids. Why, yes, I do  believe they need me too.” Her eyes sparkled as she pushed against the seat of her chair and stood up. “What am I just sitting here for? Theres so  much to do yet.”  

Turning to push back the chair, Maggie caught sight of the food still simmering on the stove. “Oh, dear me, the food-it’s still here, isn’t it?”  Shaking her head, she grumbled, “Oh, Mag, what are you thinking. With this far-fangled microwave dinner craze going around, surely plenty of folks would appreciate some of this old-fashioned cooking. Tapping her fingers against the back of the chair, Maggie stood there a moment, eyes looking skyward. Then, with a start, she straightened up.  

Leila, yes, of course. Why, here I forgot all about her, poor thing. Sick as she is. She and her husband could surely use a good meal right now.”  Turning back around, she glanced down at the book, pausing as she started to shut it. Gently, she picked at the staples that held the letter to the page. Setting the letter aside, she bent down to put the journal in the magazine basket lying at the foot of the table and then headed over to the stove. Tess followed her, running in front of her as she raised the pot holding the roast.   

What, Tess?” she grinned as she half turned with the pot. “You tryin’ to tell me that putting up with my gabbing gives you claim to this food?”  Tess purred and darted around the back of her. Maggie swung around to see where it was headed, losing grip of the pot as she did so. The pot banged against the floor, and chunks of meat flew everywhere. Tess reared back, ducking its head to miss the flying food. “Oh, you darn oh.”  Maggie patted her eyebrow and gazed down at the mess. The room was silent. She turned to glare at Tess.  

“What will I give ”  

But the cat was already edging its neck forward to eye up the nearest lump of meat. Maggie started to shake with laughter once again. “Oh,  Tess, of course you deserve it. Maggie stooped down far enough to put her hands on her knees and watched, chuckling as the cat dove into the feast. Suddenly a sparkle came into her eyes. Straightening up, Maggie turned and shuffled to the fridge.  

“Wait, Tess.”  

Tess momentarily stopped and glanced up. It watched the old lady rummage through the fridge until she found a plastic yellow butter container. “Here it is. ”  

Maggie turned and grabbed a chair, dragging it slowly over near the cat. Tess had resumed eating. Throwing her arm behind her to balance her as she slowly sat down, Maggie looked down at Tess.  

“Don’t you know you need good company to really enjoy a meal?”  Tess, knawing on a piece of meat, looked up to see Maggie pull a Vienna sausage out of the container and slip it into her mouth. Tess continued to chew, its head cocked up toward Maggie as she reached down to stroke its back.  

Now, I hope you wont be expecting me to up and drop the potatoes,  too.” Maggie grabbed another sausage and smiled. “Shoot, Tess, how am going to explain to Leila when I show up with half a meal? And what am still doing talking to you anyway ?”  

And there they sat, feasting. Nearby, on the kitchen table, a letter, written in purple ink, quivered from the breeze chat drifted through the window.  

Summer Davis, a psychology major from Bountiful, Utah, created her story in the basement of the BYU psychology department’s “Johnson House  Lab” while she was eating cold corn out of a can one weekday midnight.  She gives credit to Packard’s philosophy 419 crew for mercilessly picking the story apart and pushing Summer to revise it on a few more weekday midnights. Summer is one-fourth Swiss and enjoys hiking, picking cherries,  and shoveling snow. She is fascinated with the blindsight phenomenon and is slightly impressed with spirals and the fraction 1/49. Summer has no interest in obtaining a cat for a pet. 

An Order of Fries

by Luis B. Pagan

Wally put five bucks into his fanny belt and strapped it on. He slipped two more dollars into his pants’ pocket, buttoned his plaid red, white and green shirt his father had given him, then tucked it into his black slacksOne, two, three tucks.  

Before putting on his Pic-n-Pay green-and-brown shoes-$10.67 with tax-Wally slipped on his favorite black-and-white Star Trek socks. A picture of the Enterprise chat zipped along Wally’s ankles ran right in between the heads of Captain Kirk and Mr. Spock. He’d bought chem at a convention three years before, and they only now had small holes in the heels. He was cold chat they were one of a kind; so he wore chem only on special occasions.  

Wally sat at the desk in his dorm after dressing, making sure he’d forgotten nothing. He closed his eyes and mentally pictured each item he needed, whispering the name of the item and poking the desk in front of him, poking a different place for each item he named.  

Dorm key.” Poke.  

Bike key.” Poke.  

Money. Poke.  

“Emergency quarter. Poke.  

“Comic Book. Poke.  

Poke.  

Poke.  

Poke.  

Wally opened his eyes. He stayed in his chair, staring at the Star Trek movie collection he’d received for his birthday-$110.95 at Suncoast. shiny red box held all six original wide-screen editions. His focus settled on the second movie-his favorite-where Spock dies to save the ship. There was no conscious choice about it, about staring, he just did. The movie fit him somehow, on some level he didn’t know yet. But it fit him.  

He got up and walked out of his room and down the hall, watching his feet as he went. When he came to the elevator, he pushed the button three times and took one step back. The elevator popped open and Wally stepped in. He pushed the first-floor button three times and waited to the right of the door. When he arrived, Wally followed the pattern of squares on the carpet to the exit. He stepped outside and went to the fifth slot on the bike rack.  

Wally!” Marianne cried out, stepping out from behind the buildingWally stopped.  

Hey. She smiled.  

Oh. Hi, Moe. Wally glimpsed up and smiled for a moment, then looked back down to his round tummy. He started to count the lines between one button of his shirt and the next.  

In that glimpse, though, Wally noted every detail of Marianne. She had a green dress that had small pictures of yellow daisies dancing around each other. The green was faded, like the color of her eyes, and looked tired. White stockings slouched loosely just below her dress line, a sliver of powdered skin showing below the knees. Thick black glasses clenched her nose, and her hair, equally black, was rolled on top of her head, stray strands running free down her neck. All of her dresses were baggy, bigger than necessary, and they played on and off her snow-colored shoulders.  

Wally sifted through her smell. He sorted it out, as if he were back at his desk, taking inventory again. Detergents. Poke. Fabric softeners. Poke.  And a touch of perfume mixed with soap. Poke. They crafted themselves in his head until he’d memorized their order; then beyond what was on her to what was in her. Wally had an unconscious awareness of strawberries that lay inside, faint and quiet.  

When Marianne spoke, Wally found no complexity, no threat in her tone, no guile to be wary of. Hi meant hi, and Wally trusted chat. She’d told him, often, as he sat silent across from her at the library, in the cafeteria,  in their classes, chat she loved being in school, chat she loved living alone,  and chat she didn’t miss her family. Wally never asked, she would just come; she would sit and talk while he listened.  

“So,” Marianne looked at Wally and smiled, “where you off roo?”  Wally continued to scare down. ‘Tm just going to gee something to eat, Moe. You know, like usual. ”  

“Oh, yeah, I remember, you told me.”  

A breeze glided between chem. Snow clouds paused above.  “Well, I’m kinda hungry too, maybe I’ll see you down there, ‘kay?”  said Marianne.  

“Okay.”  

Wally turned and unlocked his bike. Marianne stood behind him,  holding her hands behind her back. “Okay, well, I’ll see you there maybe then. Kay. Bye. Wally hopped onto his bike.  

“Okay, great, I’ll see you there,” Marianne said.  

Wally rode down to the end of the parking lot, turned left, and headed toward Quickies.  

He rode into the side entrance. There was a bike rack, and Wally slid his bike into the fifth sloe. He hopped off and opened the entrance. He binged as he went inside. Wally stopped then inhaled deeply, holding his breach. He closed his eyes, and a smile filled his face.  

He opened his eyes and started to plan.  

le was 6:30 p.m. and all the lines were in full dinner rush. The trick was to get in the line chat had quick and easy orders. If there was a line with one guy in it and another line with a mother and two children, odds were that the guy would be faster. Bue if you weren’t careful, it could backfire, because some guys are really picky and chink theyre in a restaurant, so they make what Wally called “special ed” orders. Or a guy might come in and order a huge takeout for a group of people. These were called “dumbo jumboorders. Older people were also to be avoided. It took chem longer to get to the counter and order than to actually prepare their order. And when they were at the counter, they couldn’t see the menu and had co ask,  completely eliminating the point of fast food. Outer lines were dangerous too, because those were the lines that people would bring faulty orders and ask for catsup or refills, all of which doubled the workload of the cashier.  Wally calculated. There was a promising line just one over from the line closest to him, three guys and a couple. Couples never took too long,  because the girl never ordered much, and the guy kept it small, because it cost too much otherwise. But Wally chose the next to last line furthest away from him. He had a special request to make and thought itd be easier to handle from there. Two girls, an older gentleman, and a man dressed in long trenchcoat stood in front of him.  

As he waited, Wally thought about his food. He had never mentioned how much he enjoyed eating here to anyone besides Marianne. Actually,  he’d never mentioned much of anything about anything to anyone. But he had decided to tell the manager how much he enjoyed the food. The burgerthe fries, the coke, it all worked so well together. Wally would often just sit and enjoy the deep aromatic smells that rose from the tray-sauce on the burger, cheese melting on the meat, butter smoothed across fresh toasted bread. And on the side, an order of fries, perfectly completing what was for  Wally a symphony of anticipation. To go from what could be to what was at times made Wally delirious with joy. It filled him body and soul, and he was here to let the manager know how much it meant to him.  There was only one more order to go.  

‘I’d like to see the manager, please,said the man in the trenchcoat.  Wally listened.  

‘Tm sorry, he‘s busy right now. Can I take your order, or will that  be all?”  

Busy, Wally thought.  

The man lifted the left side of his trenchcoat and took out a 12-gauge shotgun.  

I said!” He fired a shot into the roof. The microwave binged and he shot again. “I WANT TO SEE THE MANAGER!”  

Wally froze. The man twirled and began shouting. “EVERYBODY  DOWN NOW!”  

People shot for the door. The girl with the guy dropped her order. Fries and soft drinks spilled everywhere. The two girls who had seated themselves wailed and waved their arms in the air, knocking over their trays. The three guys that had been in line just sat and stared, holding each other. The gunman shot again, “EVERYBODY SHUT UP AND GET DOWN!” Wally didnt move. He couldnt. Consciously, he couldnt do anything.  The gunman narrowed his eyes and stared at Wally. “I SAID DOWNFAT BOY!He knocked Wally in the stomach. Wally doubled over. The gunman slammed the butt of his rifle down on Wally’s head. Wally fell to the floor. AND YOU!” He began to twitch, talking to the cashier, his voice rising high. “START LOADING THIS BAG AND GET ME THE  MANAGER!”  

Wally lay folded on the floor, pain causing him to vomit what little hed had left inside. He held his bruised stomach in his arms as a dull numbness in his head started throbbing. It throbbed and beat then got louder and throbbed some more. As his body started yelling at him,  screaming at the pain, wretching from the puke, the gunman’s barking orders started to fade.  

Wally was in a different world now.  

He thought how hed say to the manager, It‘s ok, I’ll still eat here,  ‘cause I really love your place and all it‘s given me!he thought. “The burgers, the fries, I love them so much,he’d tell him. I just wish I could have told you, told you before. I just wish he thought he’d say. And then he thought about it some more and then thought about it again. He thought about it and thought about it till he could almost hear himself say it. Till it hurt his throat not to.  

Then he thought about Marianne. What had he said to her? She had said she was coming. He wished she were here. He wished he could see her, could see her in her baggy dress, see how it hung off her body, slipping past her shoulder. He wanted to tell her something. Tell her what? Tell her he liked to listen to her? Tell her he liked her smell? Tell her he wished hed told her? Told her with twenty-one years’ worth of words how he’d waited for someone like her? Is that what he wanted to say? Did he really want to tell her?  

Yes, he would tell her.  

And then Wally thought he started talking, started telling her. He began forming whole dialogues, paragraphs and poems. There were symbols of her hair, eyes and mouth that he envisioned God had created, just so he could compare them to her. There were endless books he’d write of the joy she was capable of bringing. How complex it was. How meaningful. Plays written and performed by him, for her, about her, that revealed the wholeness of the life they would live together. They would have children,  he said, they would give love to each other, raise their children, tell them they loved them. They would understand truth, explain it to one another.  “The truth and the light of it all,” he’d say, “was that you have filled me  with joy for the rest of my days.” He heard and said all of this, full, content in his intent, and wondered if she would ever be able to hear him. Would he ever be able to let her know that hed have done it all, would have lived it all, for her.  

Then she was there. Wally opened his eyes-she was right outside the binging door.  

le was in chat brief moment of blurred sight and muffled silence chat  Wally knew what he had to do. He knew that she had come as promised,  to be with him. He knew that her entrance would startle the twitching gunman. He knew that as the gunmen turned to fire, he would lift himself to pull the gun downward, into himself. He knew that every word and poem and passage written, every emotion felt and said by him for her in that brief moment of time, would never be spoken in words she could hear. He knew that only in the silence of his death would he open his heart and speak loudest what he wanted to say.  

I love you, he would say.  

I love you.  

But he didnt. He couldn’t. Pain and vomit and pain made his body wince. He couldn’t move even to try.  

Marianne pushed on the door-bing. The gunman twirled and pulled his shotgun trigger. The gun clicked empty. The gunman shook his head.  “WHAT?! NO!” He flew forward as the manager jumped and tackled him from over the counter. They fell and the gunman hit hard against the floor.  

Wally closed his eyes. Then he felt his head being lifted into Moes arms and placed onto her legs. He opened his eyes.  

“Wally?” Marianne was holding him, sitting on the floor, cradling his head and stroking his hair, repeating his name in disbelief as she gazed in confusion.  

Wally followed the trail of yellow daffodils up along her dress to her collar bone, then from her neck to her chin, circling his sight around her face to rest on her eyes.  

Everyone was hugging and crying and thanking the manager. Wally turned his head toward her gaze. The gunman lay five feet from Wally and  Marianne. “Moe,” Wally said. Moe turned away from the commotion“My socks ”  

“Yeah, Wally?”  

“My socks are for special occasions.”  

Luis B. Pagan is graduating in April with a double major in English and design. He has been in school for over six years and is quick to point out that a double major was the only way he could think to stay chat long. An avid reader of science fiction and fantasy, Luis quickly condemns all things fluffy and shows no mercy for anything in an attic or garden.  Married to what he and others agree to be the best wife in the world, Luis considers himself one lucky, undeserving, bo-hunk of a man and can say without hesitation chat hes really not a bo-hunk. Look for Luis, he says,  in future credits of Star Trek, Star Wars, and Star Search, and if not there,  the weekly STAR. Thank you, he says, to India and to all other countries he might live in.