‘Fragments’ by Steven Tutino

“Art is the highest expression of my being. I was born to create. I live freely through art. I think in color and dream in color. Color has significance for me because color is the expression of spirit. There is a spiritual significance to color and the merging of colors that blend and fuse while still retaining their distinctiveness. When I create, I am no longer a stranger in the world, but a welcomed guest. The feeling of creating a work of art is absolute fulfillment, the sense of having acquired an inner peace through the integration of mind, body and spirit. Art conquers and washes away fears and anxieties. When I create, I am no longer divided or cut in two. Rather, I am wholehearted, blissful bliss pouring out of my being into love of all things. I am whole and young. I give a sigh of relief. I am at peace with myself, a freely-flowing unity, lover of all things. I am real. I am alive. I am myself. I am reaching toward Spirit. Art is about a spiritual quest, the attainment of a purity and dignity in the reaching toward Spirit. Painting is like dancing in color, through color, with color. It is discovery, revelation, Being, Truth, Goodness. Art is the hunger-mark of my being. I create in freely flowing streams. Nothing scares me anymore. I am no longer broken. There are no broken pieces inside. Pursuing art is pursuing the attainment of a higher good, a good that is dignifying and ennobling and that enables spiritual growth and transformation. Art can lead to a transformation in one’s outlook on life. It can lead to an expansion of horizons. It is a true conversion experience. Art is a marker of the human spirit, the desire to create meaning in the act of pursuing what is valuable and worthwhile. Art is Love. Art brings communities together. It forges communities by bringing people engaged in the pursuit of meaning and a higher, more noble good, together. And together, they sustain one another in their pursuit of wisdom and their longing for the discovery of knowledge and truth. They support one another in the pursuit of a common goal. Here we see a community united, devoted, in love… Their is a spiritual truth in the desire to communicate more fully what it means to live and die for art, what it means to live and breathe like the wind and surrender oneself to the fury of sunrises and the fury of a thousand kisses and the fury of a fiery love, ardent and noble and true that it leaves you clinging to the other more fully.”

 


STEVEN TUTINO is currently a graduate student at Concordia University in the process of completing an M.A. in Theological Studies. He obtained a double major from Concordia as well in Honors English Literature and Theological Studies. His poetry has appeared in Concordia University’s Journal of Interdisciplinary Studies in Sexuality, The Paragon Journal, Halcyon Days, Perspectives Magazine and Founder’s Favorites. His artwork has appeared in Word in the World, The Paragon Journal, The Minetta Review, Beautiful Minds Magazine, GFT Press: Ground Fresh Thursday, Michael Jacobson’s The New-Post Literate, The Omnicult, November Bees: Journal of art and literature, Inside the Bell Jar, and Hour After Happy Hour Review. Steven currently resides in Montreal, Quebec.

Copyright © 2019 by Steven Tutino. All rights reserved.

‘Rainbow Landscape’ by Robin Yukiko

rainbow cover

 


ROBIN YUKIKO is a visual and performing artist currently living in Arlington, Mass. A graduate of Berklee College of Music and two albums as a singer-songwriter, Robin is always looking for new means of expression.

Copyright © 2019 by Robin Yukiko. All rights reserved.

‘Mythical Forest’ by Renée Cohen

Mythical Forest.JPG

Acrylic on wood

 


RENÉE COHEN is a freelance writer and a mixed media collage and abstract artist. Her work has been exhibited in group and solo shows in Montreal.

Copyright © 2019 by Renée Cohen. All rights reserved.

‘Dream Big’ by Désiré Betty

dream big by désiré betty

10″ by 20″, Acrylic on Canvas

 


DÉSIRÉ BETTY has long explored the spiritual serenity that manifests itself through her artistic expression she calls ‘Perpetual Freedom Art.’ Her passion for the arts led her to pursue a career in Architecture; broadening her quest for constant creativity from the canvas to the built environment. Although content in her profession, there is nothing more fulfilling than creating art.  The characters she paints are mostly women or seemingly androgynous figures along with complimentary abstract pieces that represent their creative realms. Her inspiration for each piece is driven by her fascination with the power of aesthetics. Her characters represent a portrayal of revitalized appreciation for inner strength and conviction by way of shedding the facade that several inherently assume in order to meet the societal status quo.  This collection of work reflects interests focused on elegance, fluidity, exaggerated proportions, dignified characters and creative environments. Her aim is to draw awareness to the perpetual interplay of ego, psyche and soul.

Copyright © 2018 by Désiré Betty. All rights reserved.

‘Miss Marigold’s Self-Portrait’ by Danielle Eyer

3

Illustration by Andres Garzon

 

The summer I turned ten was filled with church bells and local choirs singing the town’s sorrows. The news blared from every television and radio –– they were investigating a death near my old house. A kid had died falling off a rocky cliff on the shores of Lake Erie, and the accident had awakened our small town. That night, police sirens screeched past our cottage. It took the entire fire department to retrieve his broken body by the rocks at the bottom. It had only been a dare. After the boy died, cliff jumping decreased in popularity.

I found Miss Marigold a year later on that same cliff. It was a day in early October, so it was too cold for swimming. The waves were too rough, and the clouds were too low. Miss Marigold sat facing the lake, her back against a boulder.

She was a colourful stain in a grayscale landscape. She looked like she had emerged from a mound of fabric swatches –– the textile equivalent of a scrapbook. Red and green ribbons in her hair, denim and suede patches to cover tears in her dress, a wide-brimmed yellow hat tied to her chin with twine. She balanced an oversized sketchbook on her knees and, trailed charcoal across the blank page in a sweeping motion.

I approached her from behind, half-hidden by the rocks. Her shoulders tensed when I stopped. I held my breath, stood still for a full minute. When I ventured upward again, she was back to sketching, her hat flopping in the wind.

She never acknowledged me, but I knew that she was aware of my presence. She waited for me. I waited for her. The sun waited for no one, and continued its slow descent behind the layers of clouds.

I closed my eyes for just a moment. When I opened them again, it was dark and she was gone.

I returned to the cliff the next day after school. Miss Marigold was back at her boulder with her sketchbook. Today she wore a red baseball cap and a skirt, layered like a wedding cake. A paint-splattered shawl was wrapped around her shoulders to keep warm.

I stopped a few feet before her and rolled up the collar of my turtleneck to keep out the wind.

“What are you drawing?” I asked.

She set down the piece of charcoal, her fingers smudged black. “It’s a self-portrait. Do you know what that is?”

I stepped forward to peer at the drawing. “That’s like, when you draw yourself, right?”

It was unfinished, but I recognized the image of a young lady’s profile, her small nose pointing upward, her eyes soft and shining, her lips full, smiling. It was only the start of a portrait, but it was radiant, even in black and white. I almost wished I could climb inside the picture just to be in the Beautiful Lady’s presence.

“So?” she asked. “Does it look like me?”

“I can’t tell with your hat on.”

She removed her hat. My initial reaction was to step back in horror, but my curiosity overcame my shock, and I inched forward to peer into her face.

Her murky eyes were wide-set. Her nose sank into her face. A deep scar ran from her hairline to her mouth. Her teeth were crooked and yellow, and her crayon-drawn lips were smeared across her face.

I grimaced. “That doesn’t look like you at all!”

She frowned at my words, her lips pressed together. Her eyes flared up as she glared at the image. She tore the page out of the book and crumpled it up, saying: “You’re right! Oh god, you’re right. She’s beautiful, she looks nothing like me!” She flung the crumpled paper over the side of the cliff.

“No, don’t!” I cried. I raced to the edge and watched it sink into the water. My eyes stung. Never again would I see those smiling eyes, the lady radiating on the page. “Why’d you do that? You didn’t have to throw it away.”

“Yes, I did.”

I softened when I heard her voice, high-pitched and near sobbing. She sunk her face into her hands. “I will never look like her,” she muttered. “Never.”

I stuck my hands into my jacket pockets and sat down, close but not too close. I saw the hurt I had caused, and needed to repair the damage I had done.

“You’re not ugly,” I said, and even as I said it I knew it wasn’t true. “Maybe you just need more drawing practice. My daddy says you can get good at anything with practice.”

Lifting her face from her hands, she asked, sniffling, “Really? You think so?”

I gulped and nodded. She smiled at my answer and wiped her face with some loose fabric on her sleeve.

Even now, I don’t remember if she ever introduced herself as Miss Marigold or if I baptized her myself. Her name came to me as I sat with her every day. It suited her, with her brightly coloured hats and clothing.

I’d come home from school every day and find her at that same boulder like a stray dog. I didn’t know where she came from. My classmates shrugged when I brought her up at school. Perhaps she never left, never stood up and stretched her legs. I sat with her as she sketched.

As the month wore on, the lady in the portrait grew clearer. Her delicate features sharpened as Miss Marigold added detail to her sketch: her curled eyelashes, the blush in her cheeks, her slightly upturned nose.

But just when the lady became real, Miss Marigold screamed and tore up the page, whimpering as if she were in physical pain.

It became a pattern. With every attempt, she grew more furious. The mere existence of the image hurt a deep part in her, and she wouldn’t keep quiet until it was destroyed.

The destruction of the image pained me. The lady’s existence, or perhaps her inexistence, haunted me. I woke up in a cold sweat from dreams in which she was burning, writhing in the flames. Her arms flailed like tree branches in the wind, reaching toward me. I watched helplessly.

Perhaps two weeks into this endeavor, whenever I felt one of Miss Marigold’s fits coming on, I would ripped the book from her hands before she could tear out the page. I stood up and held it behind me, stepping back. I thought that after a few seconds, she might calm down from her fit. She would see that she and the picture could coexist in peace.

Instead, Miss Marigold pulled at my hair and scratching at my face until I returned the sketchbook. I tried to push her away, but she was stronger than she looked. I stopped struggling when my chest began to hurt from the weight, and only then did she let me go. Once I had regained my breath, I found her a few feet away from the ledge, staring at the water below. I stayed back until she turned to me, smiling.

“Well,” she said with a contented sigh. “Let’s try again, shall we?”

My parents wouldn’t allow me to go out when it rained. “Your Miss Marigold will survive one day without you,” Mom would say.

I wondered if she sketched then, too. I’d ask my parents if she could come inside from the rain, but they laughed and told me not to be silly.

The day after a bad storm, I found her by the waves. I noticed that her picture was a smudged, watery mess. The pages of her sketchbook were wrinkled and deformed. But Miss Marigold only smiled and continued sketching.

I don’t know why I kept returning. Perhaps it was because I wished to see the Beautiful Lady again. I was drawn to her. At school, at home, in bed, I felt a string tugging on my heart. She called to me. So I returned, day after day, just to see her portrait be torn apart or crumpled or soaked in the lake.

The pain that came with her destruction only increased. I knew what would happen if I tried to stop Miss Marigold from destroying it, but something within me still made me want to try. The Lady stared at me through the paper. She called to me, begged me to save her. I cried at night, wishing that I could.

Snow began to fall. We went to the city for the holidays to visit family, and those two weeks I spent away from the Lady were spent in pure agony. I grew irritated at my cousins and snapped at family members. I spent most of my time in any empty room I could find, lying on my back and staring at the ceiling. Only then could I attempt to visualize the Beautiful Lady. Still, it wasn’t enough. Her image liked to slip away from me just as I began to get comfortable.

When I returned from the city, I rushed back to Miss Marigold’s side and sat by her as she put the finishing touches on the picture.

I knew what was coming. I knew that in just a few moments, Miss Marigold would lose her calm and wouldn’t regain it until she had destroyed the Lady.

It wasn’t fair. It wasn’t fair that Miss Marigold got to choose whether her artwork lived or died, whether she existed or didn’t. I wanted to decide, I wanted the Lady to be mine. That’s what she’d say in my dreams.

I’m yours, she’d call as she folded in on herself in the flames. I belong to you. Why would you let a stranger do this to me?

“She’s pretty.”

“Yes,” she frowned. “She is, isn’t she?” Her lips twitched. “Too pretty.”

Her body recoiled like a spring preparing to be released. But before it happened, I grabbed the sketchbook from her lap.

“No!” I screamed, sprinting away from her.

“Give it back!”

“Stop it, it’s mine!”

She ran after me, but I tripped on a loose stone and fell onto the rocks. Sharp pain shot up my leg, and my palms tingled when they hit the ground. The sketchbook slid on the icy floor toward the edge of the cliff. The world froze. If the Lady fell over the edge, into the water, it would all be over. But it stopped a few inches from the side, and I jumped up and raced toward it, Miss Marigold a few steps ahead of me.

She stopped at the edge and leaned down to pick it up. Pick it up or push it over. She seemed to catch fire before my eyes, her skirts billowing about her in reds and oranges, a blazing sun silhouetted on a grey sky. In the back of my brain I thought, water.

I slammed into her thin body. Her weight dragged her over the edge.

I didn’t hear her screaming. I didn’t hear her bones crack on the rocks or her body hit the lake below.

Instead, I picked up the sketchbook, and gazed at the Beautiful Lady. She was nearly finished, but a few curls at her shoulders were only outlined, not filled in with charcoal. I didn’t trust myself to complete it. It was enough.

I kicked the charcoal over the edge and tossed her yellow hat away like a frisbee. The rock ledge was just as I had found it that first day in October. Only this time, Miss Marigold had been traded for her artwork.

“Where did you get that?” my parents asked later that evening.

“Miss Marigold gave it to me.”

“Aren’t you getting a bit old for that imaginary friend stuff, Sweetie?”

“Don’t worry, Mom. I’m done with Miss Marigold, now.”

I hung the picture in my room, and the lady watched over me at night. Outside, tree branches tapped on my bedroom window. The rest of the world was quiet.

 


DANIELLE EYER is an emerging writer and playwright based in Montreal, with a fondness for musical theatre, big cities, and typewriters, although she’s never used one and doubts she would enjoy it. Roman Payne said that “all forms of madness, bizarre habits, awkwardness in society, general clumsiness, are justified in the person who creates good art.” Luckily, Danielle benefits from every one of these.

Copyright © 2018 by Danielle Eyer. All rights reserved.

‘A Sense of Dread’ by Mark Towse

2

Illustration by Andres Garzon

 

Tom has been waking up the last few days with a sense of dread. Always very anxious, but recently experiencing severe bouts of panic, Tom’s heartburn has been almost unbearable. Today is no exception—Tom feels that this impending feeling of dread will manifest itself in some shape or form, and it’s making him even more anxious than ever.

He leaves the bed and pulls the covers back over his wife, telling her he is going to make a drink. He leans over, turns off the alarm clock and heads down to the kitchen to grind some coffee beans. He grabs the pestle and mortar from the cupboard, deciding that he needs to alleviate some stress, and starts grinding the coffee with an unnecessary ferocity. Most of the coffee spills over onto the floor, so he gives up, unable to cope with the prospect of picking it out from the already dirty tiles. He sighs, grabs the teabags and shouts, “I’ve made a small mess, but don’t worry! I’ll clean it up.”

The pots are piled high, so he rinses two dirty cups and fills them with water once the kettle boils. He begins to dip the bag into the first one, but it bursts, so he empties both cups in the kitchen sink and then bends down to spoon the powdered coffee into the filter.

He starts to sob.

Eventually, he gathers himself, pours the coffee and takes the cups with him through to the hallway and up the dimly lit stairs, towards the bedroom. He stops halfway up to look at the picture of him and Judith on the wall, their wedding day, and a snapshot of history when everything was okay—before the accident. He studied the photo as he had done many times—her skin like porcelain and a smile that just drew him in from the moment he saw her. She had Chrysanthemums in her hair. On the day itself, he thought they were daisies until Judith had laughed and corrected him. His own face too was one of genuine happiness; after all, he had just landed the love of his life, and nothing could stop him.

Christ, I love you, Judith.

As he reaches the top of the stairs, he tries to elbow away an annoying bluebottle fly that is buzzing around his head, causing him to spill some of the coffee as he trips over the damned vacuum once again. Tom rushes to the bathroom, puts the coffee on the edge of the tub and grabs a towel from the rack to wipe himself down. He sighs, leans over and turns both taps, watching her as the water rushes in, filling the tub. When it’s half full, Tom turns off the water and heads into the bedroom to help his wife out of bed. She’s heavier than usual, but Tom doesn’t comment. He knows it will only get him in trouble.

Tom carries Judith into the bathroom and helps lower her in the bath. He asks if the temperature is okay, not bothering to wait for a response as he lights some scented candles and pours in some bubble bath—the lavender one she likes. The colour contrasts nicely against her pale skin.

His mobile phone begins to ring, and immediately his pulse quickens. He knows it’s his boss—he didn’t go in last week and ignored the e-mails. Questions were being asked, and it would only be a matter of time before they found out. It had started small, a little bit at a time from a couple of clients, but a few bad bets and he started to get careless. Once a gambler!

He lets it go to voicemail.

Tom checks his reflection in the bathroom mirror and even through the steam, he can make out his sallow skin that frames the large dark circles under his eyes. He has seen better days. His mostly grey hair is matted and unwashed, and he hasn’t shaved for nearly a week. He contemplates showering, but the thought of the required effort distresses him, and so he splashes some water on his face instead and swallows some toothpaste straight from the tube. His wife recently told him that toothpaste causes cancer. He had laughed at this, pinched his nose and asked for a kiss. Tom enjoyed the times they fooled around like that.

He walks through to their bedroom, lifts up his dressing gown and, for the next few minutes, masturbates furiously—a habit he has picked up over the last few days. Once he’s done, he goes back downstairs with his coffee, being careful not to trip over the vacuum. He puts some bread in the toaster and opens the fridge to find he has no margarine left. In fact, there is nothing spreadable at all. He sits and waits for the toast to pop up. Eventually, it does, and even though he prepared himself for the pop, it still startles him, and he estimates his heart rate increases by at least ten beats per minute. He takes the toast and places it on the cleanest plate he can find from the dirty stack of pots, but when he reaches for his coffee, the toast slides from his plate onto the kitchen floor.

He wants to cry again but refrains as he bends over and collects it from the dirty floor and gives it a quick shake. He takes a bite and chews solemnly, washing it down with a swig of his coffee. He stops to pull some hair from his teeth, no doubt gathered from the floor and then pours the remainder of the coffee down the sink.

Tom looks down at his overhanging belly and suddenly feels the impulse to go for a run. He considers it very seriously for a few seconds before deciding it would be quite an upheaval, so he switches on the television instead. He flicks through the various channels until he finds a nature documentary. Settling into his chair, he begins to pick at his immature beard and pulls out a huge dark hair with the follicle still attached. Tom chews off the follicle and begins to think he is losing his mind.

On TV, the deer is running for its life, closely followed by the jaguar that is hungry for its dinner. Tom changes the channel quickly, suddenly contemplating how savage existence is.  He convinces himself that if reincarnation is real, he would no doubt come back as a deer. Or worse, he’d come back as himself.

In his melancholy state, he finds himself wandering back to the early years, before marriage and back when he and his wife told each other everything. Judith said she once ate a worm when she was nine, and that was pretty much the worst thing she had done. He confessed to her about a few things from his not so clean past, including his previous gambling problem and how he had kicked it well before they met. It was true, at least in the way you can ever really kick an addiction.

Tom snaps out if it just in time to see the jaguar bring the deer down.

He shouts upstairs, “I’m just going for a lie-down love. Let me know if the water gets cold.”

No reply, but that’s standard when Judith bathes. She hates to ruin the experience with chatter and normally scolds him if he tries to talk to her before she’s out the bath. He lies down on the couch—eyes closed but his mind is wide open, and the bad thoughts come. He pulls more hair out and realizes there is zero chance he will be able to get any sleep, so he gets off the couch, does one press up, and walks back to the kitchen to put the kettle back on.

Someone knocks at the door.

Tom runs back into the living room and ducks behind the couch, as though the knocker has x-ray vision.

“Tom!”

His breathing increases rapidly, he is very conscious of it, and he is sure they will hear it.

“Tom! It’s Irene from the apartment next door. Are you okay?”

She knocks again, and Tom tries to squeeze into an even smaller shape. Irene shouts through the door, “Tom, I’m coming back with a key. I haven’t seen you or Judith for a few days. I’m worried.”

There is some relief that it’s only Irene, but he doesn’t want the nosy old bag coming back. He curses Judith for giving her a key and estimates that it’s been nearly a year since they went away and left it with her. They still hadn’t got it back.

He straightens up and shouts from behind the couch “Irene, it’s all good. I’m not decent though, and Judith has gone to stay at her sister’s for a while.”

“Oh… okay. Did you take your garbage out by the way?”

When he hears her footsteps moving away, he gets up, moves back in the kitchen and makes two teas with unwashed cups: one for his wife and one for himself. He takes them up to the bathroom and places them on the edge of the bath, next to the cup he made earlier.

“Have some tea darling. You look cold—this will warm you up,” he says.

He smiles at her before disrobing and stepping into the water, “Room for one more?”

As Tom squeezes in on the opposite side of Judith, being careful not to disturb her, there is a loud knock on the door—one with a sense of urgency.

“Tom, are you in there?” a male voice shouts.

He takes a gulp of tea and swills it around his mouth.

He had considered calling it in as an accident when it happened. That’s why he put a dead bulb in the landing area and moved the vacuum to the top of the stairs — tripping over it three times since. In a way, it was an accident. He tried to convince himself of that anyway.

“I think we are going to need more scented candles,” Tom says as he leans over and kisses his wife on the forehead.

The thought of living without her, though, was too much to bear. Not to mention the additional lies and deceit that would be required.

She died for nothing.

Work are onto him now anyway—the emails from his boss and the voicemails asking to see him urgently. He feels like the deer from the nature documentary.

It was a dead cert!

There’s another loud knock at the door, “Tom!”

Tom stands up and reaches across to the cabinet to retrieve the small brown packet and then sits back down on the edge of the bathtub.

He didn’t mean for her to fall down the stairs—he was only trying to stop her from calling the police. He had grabbed the arm of her nightgown, and when she yanked it away, she lost her balance and tumbled all the way down. She moaned for a while—an awful wail that has stayed with him over the last few days. He won’t miss that.

“Tom!”

He just wanted to unload, share the burden—work through it before it got out of control. If they came up with a plan, they could probably find a way to put the money back before anyone noticed and then he could get help again. Going to prison wasn’t an option—he wasn’t cut out for that.

He should have known. Judith was always so black and white.

She is now, he thought.

“I love you, Judith,” he says as he empties the packet into his cup before taking a large gulp of tea.

 


MARK TOWSE has only been writing short stories for two months now, but his passion and enthusiasm are unparalleled, and this has recently resulted in his first paid piece in the publication Books N Pieces along with imminent publication in four other prestigious magazines. Mark currently works in sales and is ready to sell his soul to the devil for a full-time career as an author. He resides in Melbourne, Australia with his wife and two children.

Copyright © 2018 by Mark Towse. All rights reserved.

‘An Annual Affair’ by Désiré Betty

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Illustration by Andres Garzon

 

In the small town of Hamnia, a healthy baby girl named Melissa was born to proud parents, Mr. and Mrs. Denver Campus.  She would be their only child. Their life together was anything but ideal, yet Melissa managed to bring joy to a loveless marriage.

Denver, a handsome and successful man in his mid-thirties, had recently been promoted to Vice-President of a new and progressive IT Company called Viral X.  Despite his arrogance, he was well-liked by his co-workers. His wife Taborra was an unattractive, stay at home mom that was at least thirty pounds overweight.  As an adolescent, she suffered from severe acne, which had left her with facial scars that contributed to her low self-esteem. She was a loving soul that lacked self-respect; allowing herself to be treated disrespectfully by others, especially her husband.  Denver used to find her humbleness endearing, but over the years became annoyed by her lack of intrigue for excitement and new adventures. Taborra never had many friends and when she resigned from her career as a construction manager to become a stay at home mother, her world became very small.  Denver distanced himself and lost all respect for his wife; seeking adventure outside of their marriage. Many often wondered why a man of his standing would marry such a lack-luster woman, as he was clearly unhappy.

Two years later, on a beautiful sunny day in July, the birds were chirping and the light breeze was blissful.  The Campus’ left with their beloved daughter, to attend the annual Viral X company picnic. They reached their destination just before noon and made their way to where the employees and their families were gathered.  Denver was greeted by his pal and colleague, Steve Adams, a genuine guy. Taborra had become accustomed to accompanying Denver to events, only to not be introduced and abandoned the entire night. The first time this happened, Taborra continued to stand by Denver, introducing herself as his wife and trying to interact, but quickly noticed that he would shut down any of her conversation starters and solely talk business to exclude her.  Within minutes, others would join the group conversation and Taborra would be left to fend for herself.

She was often accused of being an overprotective mother that devoted all of her attention to her daughter.  She instinctively refused to leave her side in fear that something bad would happen to her in her absence. While other mothers sunbathed on the beach and their husbands tended to their children, Taborra built sand castles with her daughter.  When Melissa tired of that activity, she made her way towards the beach. Taborra followed behind, cautiously introducing her to the water. She never left Melissa out of her sight, not even to socialize with other people. Unbeknownst to her, she was nicknamed, ‘the weirdo’ by the other employees and their spouses, simply because her priorities were different.  Her insecurities prevented her from confidently mingling with the other women, allowing her shyness to often be mistaken for mental instability due to her excessive introversion.

An hour later, Melissa fell asleep in her mother’s arms.  Taborra laid her down to sleep in her playpen, situated in the shade, away from the incessant chatter and loud music.  She planned to take this time to relax, but to her dismay, she realized that Denver neglected to bring her straw bag with the book she intended to read.  She spotted her husband walking along the beach with his secretary, andfrantically tried to get his attention, but to no avail; he was clearly preoccupied.

This led Taborra to act completely out of character. She did something that still haunts her to this day.  A young woman she had noticed earlier was walking her way, and Taborra assumed her to be an employee of Viral X.  Taborra politely intercepted her, “Excuse me? I wouldn’t normally ask this of a total stranger, but I am getting rather restless now that my daughter has settled down for a nap.  I was wondering if you would be willing to watch her while I run over to my car to retrieve my book.” The personable stranger did not hesitate to accommodate her request.

As Taborra thanked her and walked away, she felt a chill run down her spine.  Her gut told her to go back, but she ignored it. She felt obligated to go through with her initial request because she feared the gossip that would ensue should she change her mind.

***

The woman eyed Melissa in the crib and a surge of hatred rushed through her.  Never in her wildest dreams had she suspected Denver, the man she had spent countless evenings with while eating Chinese food and drinking cheap wine, to have a wife, yet alone a child.

She looked down at the infant with disgust, and felt something come over her.  Hatred resonated through her and she quickly reached down, grabbed the teddy bear, and smothered the child with it.  It was quick, and the child fell still without a sound. The woman placed the teddy bear back the way she had found it, smiling to herself as she took in the child’s soft, sleeping face.  Then, she slipped away before allowing herself to feel an ounce of remorse.

***

Taborra hurried, her heart beating faster as she failed to shake the fear triggered in the pit of her stomach.  She kept thinking that her daughter was in danger, but had no concrete reasoning behind her indescribable fear.  She hoped that she was simply overreacting. She made it to her car, quickly retrieved her book and raced back, all while allowing her mind to wander through the possibility that her daughter would not be present when she returned.  With tears in her eyes, she ran madly through the crowd. Denver spotted her in the distance and he instinctively made a mad dash after her.

As he got closer to his wife, he shouted, “Taborra, Taborra stop!” demanding her to come to a halt.  It did not stop her, in fact, she sped up. He had never seen her run so fast.

Out of breath, she finally reached their daughter’s playpen, still asleep in the same position she had left her.  The young woman was nowhere to be found.. At that moment, Taborra’s intuition led her to believe that the kind stranger was more than just a stranger.  It was not out of character for Denver to attract the admiration of a female employee. Nevertheless, it was rather irresponsible of her to leave after gladly accepting to watch her child.  Taborra swore she would never leave her precious daughter with a stranger ever again.

Denver’s cheeks turned pink from embarrassment and Taborra could tell he wanted to scream at her, but was restraining himself so as not to draw more unwanted attention.  She had demonstrated such erratic behavior in front of his friends and colleagues. She could not bring herself to tell him the truth. Instead of explaining the situation, she allowed him to believe she was crazy.  All was well, their daughter was fast asleep.

Denver sat down by the playpen, put his head in his palms and let out a long, frustrated sigh.  Taborra sat beside him and rubbed his back, but he instinctively moved away from her touch. She apologized for her behavior.  She explained that she had experienced a terrible premonition that had not come true. He snapped and said, “You’re ridiculous.  What is wrong with you?”

Taborra just stared blankly at him as tears filled her eyes.  She got up and walked towards the playpen as her daughter always seemed to alleviate any tension.  She noticed that Melissa remained undisturbed despite all the commotion. She softly touched her daughter’s face and it was then she noticed that Melissa was not breathing.  “Oh my God! Denver!” she screamed.

Denver looked at Taborra with such discontent while shaking his head in disbelief as he retorted, “Holy shit!  What now?”

She picked up her daughter’s lifeless body in her arms and screamed, “Something is wrong.  She isn’t breathing!”

Denver jumped up and took Melissa from her arms.  He cried, “My baby! What happened? What did you do?”

He attempted CPR and told Taborra to call an ambulance.  As her hands shook uncontrollably, she dialed as fast as she could.  Minutes, felt like hours, before an ambulance arrived. Melissa was pronounced dead at the scene.

Denver screamed and fell to his knees.  He could not look Taborra in the eyes. He despised her with every ounce of his being.  The hatred he already felt towards her was now tenfold. He wanted to hurt her, his eyes wide and raging, but she was already dead to him.  Taborra did not mention the woman as she was in too deep and feared speaking one more word during this calamitous moment.

An autopsy was conducted and determined that Melissa had been asphyxiated.  Despite being the doting mother she was, her unstable behavior witnessed at the party and previous work engagements easily led her to be the only suspect.  This was not the first time that her love for her daughter proved to be too intense. Denver often confided in his secretary about how he worried about his wife’s unhealthy attachment to their daughter.  She could easily testify to solidify Denver’s position on the matter. There was no further investigation, and without any support from her husband or witnesses, Taborra was found guilty.

It was an unfortunate reality for Taborra, as Denver had long lost his admiration and respect for his wife; desecrating her true love and care for their daughter into a vile representation of her unfortunate demise.  A judge sentenced her to life in prison, with no chance of parole. Melissa’s death had sucked the remaining life out of Taborra. She did not possess the energy to defend herself, and silently accepted her fate, as she knew that no one would believe her.  She held herself responsible. The mystery woman at the beach had disappeared into thin air. Given all her self-doubt, she believed the accounts that maybe she was the crazy one and that the woman was in fact a figment of her imagination.

Denver was at the lowest point of his life.  He was relieved to see his wife put away for the devastation that she had caused, but incredibly broken by the loss of his precious daughter.  For Stella, his mistress, her eerie fairytale had come true. She stood by her lover throughout this difficult time; consoling him, despite being the cause of his endless misery.  

Denver would never know the truth about that fateful day or his merciless mistress.  Stella had won, she had solidified her spot as his one and only.

 


DÉSIRÉ BETTY is a Mississauga, Ontario based artist that began her innovative journey at an early age.  Her passion for the arts, led her to pursue a career in Architecture; broadening her quest for constant creativity from the canvas to the built environment.  Although content in her profession, there is nothing more fulfilling than creating art, in all its forms.  In 2009, she vowed to complement her architecturally based career with her artistic pursuits. Désiré has since exhibited in several solo and group shows, had her art and poetry published in several magazines and sold pieces to art enthusiasts around the world.

Copyright © 2018 by Désiré Betty. All rights reserved.

‘Unburden’ by Michael Formato

4

Illustration by Andres Garzon

 

“What are you waiting for?”

“What do you mean?”

“We’ve been over this.” I snapped my fingers a couple of times. “Hello? You listening?”

“What the hell are you talking about?” The man in front of me had his arms glued to his sides like a dead old tree stump, and his hands were shaking like all hell.

“It’s the only way you’ll ever get better. What are you waiting for?” I couldn’t believe he was doing this to me. Not again.

“I don’t even know who you are. Where am I?”

Marcus.” I said his name the way a person would speak to a misbehaving dog.

“Who are you?”

“A friend. I’m here to help you, remember? You don’t remember me?” I walked over to him and forcibly raised his right hand up at a ninety-degree angle, the cold metal of the gun in his hand leaving its residual sensation on my skin. The brightness of the room was beginning to annoy me, but not as much as my client was right now. Perhaps I should have selected a different setting.

“It’s easy.” I smiled and turned away from him then. I stepped a couple of paces back to where I stood earlier. “We’ve been through this.”

“Why are you doing this to me?” he yelled.

“You’re losing yourself again.” I remarked, facing him again. “You’re the one that requested these sessions, right? You’re the one who said you were ready. I’m just the one you enlisted to help.”

He screamed again, covering his face and sobbing. “Wh- hu- why do you keep doing that? Your face!”

I sighed. I kept switching through faces in his memory –– enemies, rivals, people he wouldn’t think twice about shooting in the face within the confines of a controlled setting. It usually helps, but this wasn’t a usual case.

“I don’t know what to do!” He fell to his knees, the gun falling out of his hands and clacking across the blank white floor.

I couldn’t help but sigh. I walked towards him again. “I’m telling you! All your fears and anxieties will be gone! You just gotta take that leap! That’s what I’m here to do: to make you take that leap. It’s what you wanted, more than anything in this world.” I crouched beside him, reaching for his shoulder as my skin changed from white to black. “When I asked you what you wanted most in this world, what did you tell me?”

He started sobbing again, not paying attention.

I shook my head. “You’ve made so much progress. We are at the divide now, the one we have both worked so hard to get you to. There is nothing more I can do. Nothing other than encourage you to take that leap.”

He peered up at me again and let out another cry.

Maybe the face changes weren’t the best idea. I picked up the gun again and nestled it into his grip. His hands were wet. I urged him to his feet, and once he was there, I dropped to my knees. I looked up at him, hands and fingers crossed as if in prayer. “Don’t throw it all away now,” I said. “It’s your last chance. Take the shot.”

He shook his head.

“Would a change of scenery help?”

The blank room turned into a vast grassy plain, rolling hills. New Zealand. The first thing that came to mind.

“That doesn’t help me! No amount of face-changing or room-changing is going to help. It doesn’t work that way. You’re asking me to kill a part of myself!”

“A diseased, corrupted parasite that happens to reside within the boundaries of your existence. Sapping away at your delicate life, your happiness. I am the personification of this parasite, this tumor, that needs to be cut out. I am that tumor! And you are holding the scalpel. This is what it’s all about!”

I saw him calm down a bit. He wiped away a few tears, and I decided to change faces one final time. He didn’t flinch, thankfully.

“You asked for this. We’ve worked for this. I’ve counselled you, trained you, and now you’re here, on the cusp of it all. I’m right here. Please. Take the shot.”

The wind felt so real on my face as it must have felt for him. The new-found warmth in the air filled me with its wonderful scent, as I hoped it did him.

“Marcus. Time is running out.”

It really was, and I could mentally see my pay-check getting picked up by the breeze behind him and fly out of eyeshot. I was glad he didn’t see that. My own blips of thought making their way into the projection I had created for him.

He took a moment, then slowly raised his arm at an angle, pointing it at my forehead. Finally.

“That’s it. Take the shot. You got this. One more step, and it’ll be done. You’ll be free!”

His hands were shaking now, branches in the wind.

“Take the shot, Marcus.”

“I can’t.”

“Do not give up on this now. Take the shot.”

“I can’t!”

I yanked his arm and pressed the barrel against my temple. “Take the shot.”

“I–”

“Take the shot.”

“Please!”

“Shoot me!”

“I don’t know if I can!!”

“You’ve told me yourself: you hate me with all of your heart! You would do anything to get rid of me. I ruined your life! I did! And now you can end it all! The gun is in your hand. Shoot!”

“I–”

“Do it.”

Darkness. The gun went off, and the sound almost made my ears pop, which was scary, even for me. I quickly deactivated the layer of mental projections and waited for him to get to his senses. He had collapsed onto the floor in a slobbering heap. When he would open his eyes again, the room before him would become familiar. The house he stood in, the room he resided in… it had to be perfect.

This had to be her room. This had to be the year 2047, sixty years ago.

When he stopped crying, I hooked my arm under his arm and tried to lift him up. “You did it Marcus.”

“I…what?”

“Get up!” I grinned at him, and urged him to look down at what he had done. “Look! You did it!”

Flustered, he looked down at the small bed before him. A child lay within it, a bullet through the side of her head, blood spewing from her open skull, pieces of her brain adorning the pillows. He fell backwards, recoiling as far as he could, his back hitting the wall behind him. “Oh my god, what have I done? What have I done?

“All that hard work, all this time, and you actually did it. I’m so proud of you.” I sat down next to him. My smile was beginning to hurt my jaw. “This was what you wanted, remember? Clear your mind, and remember.” I projected my own face this time, my true face, and suddenly his own began to turn. He remembered it.

“Wha–”

“It’s me Marcus! Look! Stand up and look at what all those sessions and all that training has done for you! Don’t be scared!”

He got to his feet, and looked at the corpse, like a small child analyzing a lizard.

“You took the shot, buddy!”

“I did it.”

“It’s what you wanted.” I stole a glance at my watch. Right on time, too. “You wanted this, and you went out and did it, my friend! A success.” Thank fucking Christ.

“Yeah!” He was beaming now. Fully remembering the task he had laid out for us both, and realizing that we had succeeded. He turned swiftly to the girl’s nightstand and brushed all the toys and pill bottles and machines off the top and watched them fall onto the floor.

“How are you feeling?” I asked him.

“Relieved.”

“Like a weight has been lifted?” I rested a hand on his shoulder. “You won’t be needing those machines anymore, or the pills to keep her alive, right? No more expenses or bills. The minivan you hate. The physiotherapy, that wheelchair you needed to push around. All that money you threw away. It’s over now. You have what you wanted. Calm. Peace.”

He ran from the room and tossed the wheelchair –– the one he had once bought for her comfort –– down the flight of stairs outside her room, past the electric lift he had once installed along its length for her. He was on top of the world. The happiest I’ve ever seen a person. I suddenly felt a vibration on my wrist, the kick, and with a final look of what pure ecstasy felt like –– perhaps something I’d never feel –– I removed my physical projection from the environment.

I watched like a ghost, as Marcus returned to the little girl’s room, completely forgetting my existence altogether. He picked up the corpse like a doll, and began dancing with it, laughing as only the happiest man in the whole world could, blood pouring from the open wound, the child’s body flailing limply as he shuffled across the room. I stared at my watch again. I let him enjoy one last moment of ecstasy, the last he’d ever feel, before I cut the simulation.

I quickly removed the diodes from my temples and the Halo Mechanism from my head, setting it on the table beside me as I put the real world back into focus once again. I was greeted by a myriad of medical machines blaring, all to their own tunes. A solid flat line across the heart rate monitor. I found my tablet and peered a my watch once more.

Time of death: ten minutes to 5:00pm.

I leaned over and snapped the heart rate monitor off, along with the life support machine, before standing and removing his own Halo from its mounting points, and the diodes that sent the projections from my brain directly into his, hijacking his dream and implanting my own. I nodded, and one of the nurses who oversaw the operation began removing the tubes from his nose and the IV from his arm, and prepared the body to be removed.  I looked to my tablet again, filling in the rest of the post-mortem information necessary to satisfy the mediators, who by law had the final say over the success of the operation.

Time within: ten and a half minutes.

The time on the outside world was minimal. It always feels longer on the inside, where hours within accounted for minutes in the real world.

Target: reached with success. Transmission sent to base. 

With everything off him, I looked down at the elderly corpse of Marcus Ball, ninety-eight years old, and dead of multiple organ failure. Even in death, the cutting out and the replacing of his memories had done its job. He died smiling, believing that what he had done within his own mind had happened in reality. The faintest of grins etched across his dead lips.

Notes: died happy.

Without another thought, I shut off my tablet and left the hospital room, closing the door behind me.

“Doctor!”

I froze. My pulse sped up. I turned around, and a woman with tears already streaming down her face approached me. I had hoped to avoid this confrontation.

“They called me, they… they said he was dying, and I came as fast as I could. I ––” She burst into tears.

I lowered my head. “I am sincerely sorry for your loss. I want you to know that the staff and I took every measure at our disposal to make sure he died peacefully.”

She nodded, regaining some resolve. “He was the only one I had.” She chuckled, trying to see the bright side of it all, and wiped her eyes. “When I was young, he was the only one who took care of me. After my mom passed away, I mean. I loved him so much.”

I nodded. “He was a great man. He was so proud of you.”

She turned her electric wheelchair towards the door. “Can I see him?”

“Of course, Ms. Ball.”

She didn’t move from her spot, peering at her father though the glass slit in the door. “What were his final moment like?”

“We made the preparations to make him comfortable. I’m afraid he was asleep in his ––”

“No. I mean his final moments.” She wheeled back towards me, the small electric motor humming softly in the silent corridor. “I know he had the procedure done.” She smiled. “You gave him once final experience. You fabricated a memory, a moment he believed he lived. His final moment. I know he did.”

“I see. I apologize, Ms. Ball. He requested to keep the procedure private. He didn’t want to alarm you. The operations can be quite intense.”

“I understand. You reconstructed a memory, right?”

“That’s correct.”

“Was it about me?” she asked. “I always remember him telling me that he would see me walking and sprinting and jumping in his dreams, and that it would make him so happy. Was that it? Was that the memory you constructed for him in his final moments? Me getting up from my chair and running into his arms one last time?”

My lips parted, but no words came out.

“You don’t need to tell me.” She nodded and reached for the door handle. “I loved him so much, but deep down, I knew he always loved me even more.” She pushed through the door. “Thank you, doctor. I appreciate everything you’ve done for him.” She disappeared behind the partition, the door closing behind her.

I stood there motionless, and after a few moments I walked towards the door and laid my fingers on the handle, peering through the glass. I stopped myself. Ms. Ball was holding the hand of her deceased father, a fresh fountain of tears streaming down her face.

I stood at a crossroads. Ms. Ball believed that her father loved her. Was she blind to how he truly felt? A burning hatred, masked by a façade of unwavering love and support. Would knowing the truth even change the way she thought about him? Would it change anything? Would it change everything? I felt my hand slip off the lever.

It was in that moment, through the small slit of glass in the hospital door, that I witnessed what love truly is. An illusion. To the eyes of the beholder, and threshed within the lies we tell ourselves on a daily basis. It is the cage that imprisons us all. A cage to which we hold a key that we have swallowed long ago.

 


MICHAEL FORMATO is a science-fiction writer born and raised in Montreal Quebec. He is currently a student at McGill University in the faculty of Education. As a writer of fiction, he is obsessed with twisting and contorting what we as a society take for granted in life. Things like technology, family, relationships, the very idea of love, and bringing out the subconscious anxieties that reside just below the surface of our paranoid thoughts.

Copyright © 2018 by Michael Formato. All rights reserved.

‘Jack’ by Angela Hanna Goulene

Jack Cover V1 (signed)

 

It’s nothing but a story. A story that constantly changes, just like the road I’m on. From the chanting corpses in Hell to the crying angels in Paradise, the road makes no sense. Or maybe…maybe that’s just how I see it. There’s a gigantic tree, with the finest greenest grass, and buffalos all around. I feel the wind on my face and enjoy the rays of the sun, mentally confessing that I’ve missed them. Two weeks of rain is just too much. There’s soft music and happy thoughts…

and a dead woman on a chair, she’s– )

and many people out there, the smell of barbecues. Over all, it’s a peaceful day. I wipe the drool off my jaw, like I always do. Doctors tried to explain to me why I drool constantly, but their words made no sense. I like things that don’t make sense, except when they’re supposed to make sense, because in that case, it’s a mistake. Errors and mistakes are part of nature, but I don’t like them.

my dear sweet Delphalilah  )

Do you? The road is changing again. Now it’s nothing but a gray and desolating landscape, a dark sky and broken houses, where the people look deader by the second. I watch with no fear but mere curiosity at a bird shooting through the air to finally crash on this cold looking floor. The people are looking skinnier and skinnier, and the cows are as thin as paper with lizard faces, their black hole eyes popping out of their orbits. The music turns morbid. But ha! I look at the road once more, and the sun is back, the peacefulness there, except that if I slit my eyes a bit, I can see under the camouflage, I can see the decomposing bodies and the dead things. A humongous tree is so bent that you’d think it would crack. It seems as though it has lost something there in the grass and wants to pick it up. I tell my mother to stop the car so that I can pick up the tree’s lost possession, but she ignores me and goes on. We lack so much of charity in this world. Ah, there it is again.

The road is back to being dead and desolated. My heart pumps faster and here I am, overfilled with warmth and joy. I shall see my Love soon. This landscape is far from being as unique, as wonderful as hers, but it’s already closer than the sun and peacefulness. Delphalilah is my Love, you see. She is wonderful in every way, and the only one to understand me. The only one who’s ever understood me. Just being with her makes me so happy, it makes me feel so warm, so complete. I cannot wait to introduce you to my Love, Delphalilah.

The road is changing again. Now, when I look out my window, I see a guy on a motorbike. When he turns around, I see that in reality, he’s dead, and half his face is peeling off, with only the side possessing the remaining eye staring at me. His lips too, have been partly torn off, but I can tell that he is grinning at me. I wave and smile, and he does the same. He then accelerates and drives away, far ahead of us, on the road which is now as dark as charcoal, as dead as the man on the motorbike. As beautiful and deadly as Delphalilah.

How must I describe my one true Love? She is simply perfect, as perfect as nobody, yet as eternal as everything is ephemeral. Her skin as blue as the darkest oceans, with a heart tattoo on her left arm, her lips are as red as fresh blood, and her long hair is of the brightest and most vivid orange you’ve ever seen … trust me when I say that no one is like my Delphalilah. I like to bend over – because she’s always seated, she who is so tall – and kiss the black buttons she uses for eyes.

Yes. There is only one like her. I almost cried when I met her, of emotion because all my short life I had been waiting for someone exactly like her, for someone who would understand me like she. Never have I felt as complete as during my time seated at the red table with Delphalilah. There has only been one thing which has caused me stress and wonder at the Madhouse. It’s the glass bottle.

It’s black, with the painting of a skeleton head on it, one obviously meaning something that has to do with death. Never once has this bottle moved from its same exact spot in front of Delphalilah, right on the red table. I have always wondered about the origin of this bottle, but most of all, its effects. Did Delphalilah drink the bottle? Is that how she became what she is now, or was she always this eternal, this stoic, this blue? If I drank some of the bottle, would I be even closer to her, would I see things her way? I would be there, seated on the other chair at the table, the one which remains constantly empty when I’m not there. And if that were the case, me and Delphalilah would be eternal and together forever. The fear I had of losing her support, her in general, her perfection, was beyond limits. I knew that if I lost her, I would let myself go, and all insanity would lose sanity, with all colors fading to white. White, because black is just the start of another story.

We’ve arrived; the car comes to a halt. Now this you see…this is where Delphalilah is. This is all that matters. It’s a deserted ground, if not for one huge mansion. Tall, impressive, dark and sinister, with the windows reflecting red shades. A few unidentified skeletons on the floor, discarded here and there, and the only living things are the hordes of black cats, hissing and running in confusing circles. One of them, much bigger than the others, walks up to me with its smug, elegant demarche.

“Little Boy,” it purrs. To black cats, all boys under thirteen are little boys.

“Haidren?” I respond with a smile.

“Came you to see her Highness of the Red and Dead?” All the while it’s staring at me with its wide eyes, tinted yellow-green shades.

“As every other time.” Its eyes turn into slits, but following that he merely nods and walks away, inciting me to follow him, which I do, like every time. The door of the old manor creeks open before the cat, and finally shuts behind me once I enter. Red velvet in all angles and places, occasionally mixed with expensive-looking and quality wooden furniture. The inside of the House appeases me: eternal, red and beautiful. Like Delphalilah.

Finally, the cat vanishes after we’ve turned a few corridors. I know what this means and enter the first room before me, where my eyes finally lay upon her: Delphalilah.

“My Love,” I breathe with emotion. There she is, on a chair, stoic as always, with her blue skin and all the stitches covering it; and how wonderful she looks with her perfectly straight hair and her buttons for eyes. Her dress never changes: its swirls and circles of black and white covering her pointed, triangular breasts, almost as if she wants to hypnotize you. My heart skips a beat, and I run to hug her, though gently, of course.

“Delphie my Love, Delpha! How are you?”

Silence. She’s a shy one, you see.

“I’ve been thinking about you every day of my absence, as always.” She remains silent, and so I sit down on the other chair, facing her. I don’t know how long we stand there, gazing amorously into each other’s eyes. That is, until, once again, I notice the bottle. It is, as always, in the same spot, but there came the itch once more, the desire to open it and drink it. I know it will have some enormous impact if I do, but the curiosity is nagging me, stronger than ever, and with no desire to let go. I approach my face to the black glass’ surface.

( this is Deplhie’s bottle )

To drink or not to drink?

I look up at Delphalilah anxiously. Her soft gaze reassures me, and even though I am scared and anxious, the answer is already evident, deep inside of me. I know that this time, I will drink the bottle. Getting up, I timidly reach out to it, until my fingers brush and seize the cool surface. I sigh in relief. So far so good. Following that, I gaze at Delphie with fear, sadness, and regret. At that moment I know that I will never see her again, that nothing good will come out of the bottle, but that I am meant to drink it.

“Goodbye, my Love…” And I drink. Nothing happens for a while, and then…

“NO! NO! NO NO NO NO NO NO! I DON’T BELIEVE THIS, I DON’T BELIEVE YOU-”

( you’re insane and the WAR the WAR came and killed the cat, killed your mother, killed your brother, your sister, your father– )

“NO! SHUT UP! PLEASE! I DON’T BELIEVE YOU! WHAT YOU’RE SAYING MAKES NO SENSE!”

( Daddy was already dead, but the soldiers came in the house and they got Nadie, the soldiers came in the house and they got Timmy, then the soldiers got Mommy– )

“NO! SHUT UP! BE QUIET, PLEASE!” I cried to this inhuman voice, seizing at my head with both hands, lacerating my face.

( and they cut Mommy, they laughed at Mommy and they hurt Mommy a lot. And they had a spray can– )

“SHUT UP!” I didn’t know where I was anymore, but it was pitch black, yet somehow I managed to slam my head against a wall. “I DON’T BELIEVE YOU!”

( and that’s how Delphie was born, because when the soldiers were done they left, and you came out from the basement’s slightly open door )

I started crying and sobbing.

“No, please…” The tears are cascading down now.

( they later found you sleeping against Mommy’s blue corpse Hell only knows how long you had stayed there )

And they brought you here, to a mental hospital, one in which you’ve been hiding from the truth inside your daydreams, inside the welcoming warmth of insanity. But this my boy, this –reality-, this is the real Madhouse.” I screeched until my lungs exploded, screamed covered in blood even, screamed and wailed, and then I truly saw Hell. I was locked in a white room, with demons coming to seize me, to bring me back with cruelty, to the Madhouse of Reality.

 


ANGELA HANNA GOULENE is a difficult to live with French, biracial intellectual with a love and adoration for children and cats, who hates pretty much everything else. She spends most of her time watching horror films and cartoons, as well as drawing, writing, singing, and just binge-watching anime.  When she isn’t busy doing that, she loves to spend her budget on books that are thousands of pages long which she won’t have the time to read.  The loves of her life are undoubtedly her Siamese cat Clea, storytelling, and traditional animation. She currently resides in Montreal where she spends most of her time writing or working on various show projects.

Copyright © 2018 by Angela Hanna Goulene. All rights reserved.

‘A Woman Is An Island’ by Andres Garzon

A Woman Is an Island copy

A Woman Is An Island, Watercolor on Paper, Andres Garzon, 2017.

 


ANDRES GARZON is an illustrator and designer living in London, ON. A die hard lover of whimsical portraiture and dreamy landscapes, he naturally gravitates to good ol’ pencil, paper, and paint, as well as digital platforms that emulate that same hand-made feel and craftsmanship. Andres loves bright colour palettes, striking imagery, friendly and accessible design, and neat and original artwork. His work revolves around themes of femininity, relationships, and the world around us.

Copyright © 2018 by Andres Garzon. All rights reserved.