Throughout the past year, our society as a collective has been going through changes, rough ones especially.
There has been a gradient of good and bad; from quick bursts of happiness to heartbroken moments that leave our souls torn.
In this issue, we wanted to explore those shades of emotion and showcase that even in times such as these, you can still find the beauty in the gradience of it all.
With Fiction, writers can take themselves to a world of their own and let their imagination run wild. You can open yourself to the possibilities that anything is possible, you just have to be willing to put the work in to make it come to life. Tales are what keeps the human race connected to each other, because no matter our differences, everyone loves a good story.
I’m going to a funeral today.
I enter through the back garden gate and briskly make my way to the sliding glass door. With my foot, I nudge the potted marigolds over to the left and retrieve the spare key. I make my way inside.
The house is quiet. My husband, sister, and mother have already left for the reception. The servants have been sent off for the week, my mother too grief-stricken to have anyone in the house.
On the second floor, my bedroom door is closed. The garish knob turns open with a tired groan. When I toss my purse onto the partially unmade bed, a freshly used check stub falls out, as well as a small white tag connected to a pale string. I don’t bother to pick them up as I won’t be here long.
I sit at my vanity, glass perfume bottles arranged in a row against the oval mirror. Each bottle is filled with a luscious fragrance, imported from France, Italy, or the Far East. I pick out Apres L'Ondee Pure Parfum and spray a puff onto my neck and wrists. Then, I open a side drawer and pull out a small metallic tube. Even if it’s unconventional, I just can’t go without my signature Christian Dior #9 red lipstick.
The stereo in the corner spins sweetly, playing new tunes of Rockin’ Robin. The satin white robe resting on my shoulders moves with each motion of my arms. I do a touch-step towards the closet, humming along with Bobby Day.
In the very back of my closet sits a dress perfect for the funeral. I hang it on the door to admire, not one crease in its skirt. The black silk swing dress feels cool to the touch as I slip into it, buttoning up the front and smoothing out the cape collar. The petticoat snaps together under the tea-length skirt, filling it out perfectly.
THE WRONG TRAIN
A HEALING LOVE
It was late afternoon, and the people on the train outgoing from the hospital looked tired.
They were a mixed group of strangers. In the front seat, there was a middle-aged businessman in a suit with his hair slicked back. He was reading a book about investing. He smiled smugly to himself.
Several rows of seats behind him, there sat a teenager in a red beanie. As she gazed out the window, her eyes sparkled with light and color, absorbing and reflecting fleeting images of the rapidly changing landscape outside.
Across from her, there was a very old man. He too was looking out the window, but the reflections in his eyes looked dull and lifeless; they had none of the life and color and energy of those of the girl. He looked old and exhausted, not sad exactly, just extremely jaded and a little bit disappointed.
In the rear of the compartment, there was a mother and her 9-year-old son. The mother squinted at the tiny images on her phone, swiping furiously on a social media site. Likewise occupied, the boy peered into his own screen. He mashed the buttons of his controller, completely engrossed in his video game.
In the silence, the rhythmic clanking of the train expanded to fill the empty space like a dense cloud. It seemed to push the strangers away from each other, pinning them to opposite edges of the compartment.
Suddenly, the clanking began to slow. It got slower and slower and slower. Then, the train stopped. They were in the middle of nowhere.
An announcement came in on the intercom:
Attention, passengers. We believe that someone on this vehicle has mistakenly taken the wrong train. In a few minutes, hospital personnel will arrive to take them back to the hospital train station. We apologize for the inconvenience and thank you for your patience.
"Mom, please?" I drew out the please so that it sounded like peas. "Really, I’ll only be gone for the summer and Tony and Nate are going to be with me the whole time. Plus, you already told Nate’s dad I could go when he bought the tickets." I added the last part, not because it was true…(though it was), but because I know how much my mom hates going back on her word.
"I don't know, Joey. It's Europe. EUROPE! Have you ever watched the news about when people go missing overseas?” She was ringing her hands, in the way she usually does when she’s trying to slow down her thoughts, “Or those cheesy movies where the young American falls in love and never comes home?" Her face was taut with concern and worry and I was trying to not to laugh at her whiplash worries through opposite genre movie analogies.
"No, but we have all seen Hostel," I joked, hoping to make her laugh but once I saw her face twist with fear, I got serious. "Mom, we're going to stay in London...no hostels, no crazy adventures or plans to immigrate. I promise."
She stepped closer to me and pulled me into one of those tight 'mom hugs.' I knew that she was going to give in and say yes. "Fine, you can go, but you have to call me everyday.” She pulled away just enough to bring her hand up and cup my cheek, “ Joey, you're my baby...my only child, so cut me a little overbearing slack."
As jet lagged as we all were, Nate’s eyes brightly lit up when we met his student liaison officer, Camilla Brandon. She was small and looked like a preppy, goth-girl mix. She had short, sharply cut black hair and matching onyx painted nails and lips. Her lace edged dress was at odds with her tattooed covered skin and while she was semi-polite it was like she wanted to be anywhere else but here, showing us around Nate’s new student apartment.