The Cedarville Review 2022

DISCLAIMER DigitalCommons@Cedarville provides a publication platform for fully open access journals, which means that all articles are available on the Internet to all users immediately upon publication. However, the opinions and sentiments expressed by the authors of articles published in our journals do not necessarily indicate the endorsement or reflect the views of DigitalCommons@Cedarville, the Centennial Library, or Cedarville University and its employees. The authors are solely responsible for the content of their work. Please address questions to

THE CEDARVILLE REVIEW Volume 22, 2022 Cedarville University 251 N Main Street, Cedarville, Ohio 45314

iv TABLE OF CONTENTS FOREWORD . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . VII POETRY. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 01 Morning Wedding, Josiah Alberghene ������������������������������������������������������������������ 3 Storm Chamber, Alayna Drollinger ���������������������������������������������������������������������� 4 Classroom Cantos, Anastasia H. Cook ���������������������������������������������������������������� 5 Commission, Meghan Wells ������������������������������������������������������������������������������������ 7 Augur, Rachel Rathbun. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8 Atlas, Alayna Drollinger. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9 First World, Grace Kohler. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10 Castle Crumbling, Emily Vest �������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 11 Home Remedies, Megan Collom ��������������������������������������������������������������������������12 Ginori, Dulevo, and Aynsley, Emily Vest ������������������������������������������������������������13

v FICTION. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16 Rerouted, Megan Collom. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17 The Hermit Saxophone, Madelene E. Fish ��������������������������������������������������������22 A Treatise on Time Travel, Corrissa L. Smith ����������������������������������������������������23 Warnings and Wilted Roses, Rachel Crane ������������������������������������������������������25 The Shadow, Corrissa L. Smith ������������������������������������������������������������������������������26 NONFICTION ������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������ 34 First Impressions, Alayna Drollinger ������������������������������������������������������������������35 Appendicitis, Grace Kohler. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 36 Potatoes, Heidie Raine. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 39 Lakeside, Anastasia H. Cook ����������������������������������������������������������������������������������40 On the Deception of True North, Emma Hurley �������������������������������������������� 41 Second Long Eternity, Evan Ellis ������������������������������������������������������������������������44 A Sickly Sabbatarian, Heidie Raine ����������������������������������������������������������������������45


vii FOREWORD God, who loves us in these commonplace, blinkand-you’ll-miss-them kind of ways, our state of preoccupation becomes not only a tragedy but also a loss of opportunity for worship. So with this volume, we’d like to encourage you to make worship a part of your everyday moments. Praise God for well-written poems and fresh-cut grass and your favorite song when it comes on the radio. Thank Him for His goodness in a perfectly timed photo, in an art gallery or at a movie theater, for a day off of work or the first snow of the year or a friend asking how you are when you need someone to listen. And when you find a piece in this volume that makes you feel a sense of wonder, take a moment, take a breath, and praise Him for that too. Welcome to the 2022 issue of the Cedarville Review! Whether you’ve written one of these pieces, know a contributor, or just found this issue on a whim, I hope that you will find things in these pages to delight you, words and phrases that make you stop and savor them before reading on. I hope this slight book will be a treasure taken off the shelf and pored through for many years to come, and that your favorite pieces will become old friends read until the pages crease and yellow: these are the medals any well-loved book wears. We also hope that this book will encourage you to look with a fresh eye at the rest of the world. The calling of any artist is to defamiliarize things we have become too used to. Artists seek to bring our eyes and minds back to something we might otherwise have glossed over, which more often than not we do, laden as we are with Big, TimeConsuming Things that steal our focus. One of my professors said it this way: “we walk in a world of beauty and we miss it every day.” But we believe in a God that loves us not only in the big ways, such as our salvation, but also in little ways every day through a rosy sunrise or kind words from a friend or (my personal favorite) the addictive goodness of a latte. And when we believe in this kind of a

1 PARADOX Emma Hurley


3 “The repetition in Nature may not be a mere recurrence, it may be a theatrical encore.” - GK Chesterton the tingle of thick tea the tangle of lattice light and the tintinnabulation of wrens and thrushes rushing in like a groom and bride and the gloom of night the garter gloaming the veil moonlight souldeep, bellowing, quiet blue, blue, blooming. the chrysanthemum of exultation and careful illumination and the cordial rumination, lifeladen sunset dawning on a wideyawning pissarro landscape. and my thrushes and wrens rehearse waterfalls, fading to drops, resuming in rivulets and the chrysanthemum rises, and restores his composure, and binds budlike the closing bloodred bloom, aperture, and exposure. even the sky into his brightness he gathers blooming, in the blue, blue gloaming; he slips back the garter on her birchwhite leg illumined in the latticed moonlight, and her sighs drop and rivulet and my thrushes silence for the kettle whistle MORNING WEDDING Josiah Alberghene

4 Breath-mixed blood pours through chasms and chambers that pulse and charge with strange, subtle fires, electricity galvanizing staccato thunder lest postmortem shock render motion obsolete. STORM CHAMBER Alayna Drollinger

5 CLASSROOM CANTOS Anastasia H. Cook III We write because He first wrote us. IV And, As usual, I am the last one out. Oh well. I Sing to the Lord a new song. May I sing about insects? II Sure. One word can be a stanza. It could even be a poem.

6 V The space Between your words Speaks. VI Sensory words: What does a charred cherry taste like? VII First thought, best thought. Risk it: Write.

7 “For I desire mercy, not sacrifice.” —Hosea 6:6 You desire me, God— To note fraying smiles, untied laces. To darn the fibrils of untucked hearts and hush grating wind chimes of dissonant spirits. Grieve bells clanging final prayers. And sink in sand as tidal souls suck me. Stand ‘till the waves still, rippling, at peace. To glue crumbling minds— scraping flour-dust dreams— brush pride-cracked crusts and knead charred love. “Child, I desire sacrifice-mercy. Daughter, pour gall with your wine.” COMMISSION Meghan Wells

8 Through a glass sharply she dwells in scarred chiaroscuro, rendered golden in her dying candle’s light. Breath swells with static, lulled by the rise and ebb of a broken radio’s whine. Broken: she cannot reach you here. Fingers impressed by cold brass as the knobs turn gently, searching out the gap to light your way back homeward. She spends her witching hours in this minute dance, in fits of ghosting voices, hollow horns, the hum and brush of strings in harmony dimming, swallowed in the static sum. Do you hear her long transmission vigil, you beyond frequencies’ reach, who live on through her restless searches in caesuras? There are no dreams for you when her bleary eyes find mercy in a softer somnolence and no one listens for your voice. AUGUR Rachel Rathbun

9 ATLAS Alayna Drollinger my hands ache with the unraveling of the world. the sky sh t t e s, a r shards biting deep into my palms, the sharp caress of nightfall on a splinter ed world.

10 Give me a wailing song give me a dance a gyration to pound and stamp my sorrow my pain my little inconveniences my deepest paper cuts give me a sense of purpose or if not I’ll give you my tears and unburdening you get sympathy and I get feeling gratitude and gratified from my exhales We know our problems don’t warrant any dam bursting or volcanics shall my heart turn grey the world over slighted introduction when my dinner mates who slight pass me heaping platters over wooden tables FIRST WORLD Grace Kohler

11 Gathering grains of sand with sun-stained back, spine sliding, inclining down the shore—in my nail beds; I build a castle with towers and terraces, flags and front doors thrown wide. Seaside, it stands, grandly surveying the leaving-boats at the quay, screened by palm leaves while Solia plastic spoons sculpt sandy sides, till symmetry makes my placid sanctuary. But I cannot keep the seeping waves from sweeping up the beach , shaking non-rock floor . Rains fall and floods rise , spilling silt from the deep into my castle on the hill — my house on the sand . The remains sift and sink through my fingers , washing grains away , sloshing clay fortitudes . . . and I’m left struggling to save the castle c r u m b l i n g . CASTLE CRUMBLING Emily Vest

12 HOME REMEDIES Megan Collom Maddy’s giggles blow bubbles with Grandma’s cigarette smoke. They jump with her coughs, colliding in whiskeyed breath and mumbled swears. Maddy’s scraped knee remedied by press-on nails, the Avon catalog, her picture book. They read of cloudy diamonds and chunky mascara. An epic told on glossed paper.


14 My teacup collection does not exist because I do not trust the moving van to keep each cup intact rather than rattling them to china dust; but I persist, daydreaming of an anchored place, an ivy-clothed cottage, trees dripping with wisteria, and a garden of lavender, lemon balm, mint, and time—to dry herbs and drape along walls to press peace like flower petals, things going to plan, without fractures or shatters or falls. I’ll have high wooden shelves, cups all arranged And invite neighbors for lemon-lavender pie and peach tea, let each guest, eyes rising to storied cups, choose from my set: the first of my collection, a Japanese red porcelain from Salado a gift from a bygone friend, and a German cobalt and gold from my sister. Their fingers trace over a Royal Sealy scalloped aqua lustre from my mother, but I don’t flinch as its feet tap on the saucer— I own dozens and shall earn dozens more and ceramic is but a flicker in an inch of existence, porcelain faces wrinkle, china walls fall, tables tip, so laugh lines and cracked cups won’t worry me.

15 ICY GLARE Alissa M. Geist


17 REROUTED Megan Collom mine in the rearview mirror. I move the mirror downwards, I want to see her whole face. Her eyes trace the mirror’s movement. “Uhm—my Granny Patrice,” her voice shakes, she must be trying not to cry. “She old?” “She was 64?” “Oh, so she was sick,” “I’d rather—” “No no no, you can tell me.” Poor girl. The clasp of her necklace is showing, falling down her neck like a minute hand that has just passed four o’clock. She moves it back into place, threading the chain through her fingers until the clasp is seated behind her back. I wait for her attention to return. She’s quiet. “Well?” “She had Huntington’s,” she snaps. I feel the thud of her words. “Genetic, ain’t it?” She’s waiting by the crosswalk. Waving at me, she raises her arm as her dress lifts a couple inches higher. I tug at the steering wheel, driving Bonnie up to the curb. She looks good in black. The dress hugs her sides and dips at the neck, making room for antiquated pearls to rest on her protruding collar bones. Her hair-sprayed curls seem to reflect the billboard glow. I watch her hobble towards us. Her black heels look too big, like her feet are sliding in and out of them with each step. The door opens. She shuffles her things into the seat beside her and gathers her hair in front of her shoulders. I roll down the window to toss my cigarette. “Pelham Funeral Home please.” She etches a smile onto her face. I catch her eyes in my rearview mirror. They’re green, maybe blue. Her eyelashes are coated with mascara. She blinks her striking eyes away, gluing them to her phone. I watch her buckle her seatbelt, waiting to put Bonnie in reverse, wouldn’t want to risk anything right? The click of the clasp is my cue to click on my blinker. We drive. Head South towards Perkins Drive “So who died?” I ask. She’s quiet, looking at that damn phone again. She’ ll look up. “Hmph,” I cough, “Who died?” Her eyes flutter open, meeting

18 “I’d rather not think about this right now.” “That’s one of them diseases without a cure right?” Her glare echoes her words, I understand. I turn my eyes towards the road instead of the mirror, I figure she’d like some privacy. There’s a red light up ahead. The red light glows above us in the New York sun. It buys me a second of time to glance behind me. Her phone has a wallet stuck to the case, her driver’s license sticks out from the third card slot. The left hand corner reads Kansas. MART is all I can decipher of her name. It’s a sweet nickname, she’ ll like that. I lunge over the middle console, keeping my right foot firmly on the brake. Bonnie rocks as I reach for my glovebox. Mart clutches the handle above her. The latch pops open. I sift through the crumpled road maps and past insurance slips until my hand lands on a red plastic CD case. The light turns green—I open the CD case. My handwriting is scribbled across the silver disk: United Methodist Church Hymn Collection. I’m a bit of a church-goer. I slip the CD into the disc slot to dispel the static of Bonnie’s breaking stereo. Clicking through the tracks, I create a metronome for the honking cars behind me. Mart kicks my seat just enough to break me out of my haze. I release the brake, speeding up to catch the cab in front of me. Continue onto Peace Bridge “Amazing Grace” has been playing for the last fifteen minutes—the CD must’ve gotten scratched. Mart seems to like it though. She’s been sniffling to herself for around ten of the fifteen minutes. Bonnie hurries across the interstate held up by the green iron of Peace Bridge. Mart looks out the window, mumbling the lyrics to Bishop Kenny’s version of “Amazing Grace.” “You religious?” I ask her. She stiffens, sitting up straight before she answers. “I guess so,” she says. “You guess so?” “I mean I grew up Catholic—” “Did Granny?” “Sorry?” “You know, Granny Patrice?” “I’m not sure, I mean we were never that close—” “I suppose that’s good. Should make it easier for ya if she ended up in Hell.” The car goes cold, the only sound left cars whizzing past us. Mart shoots me a nasty look, I feel it creeping down my throat. Damnit, Shawn. I hit the center of the steering wheel. It lets out a gasp of squeaking air—my horn broke a couple of months

19 ago—Mart flinches. Don’t worry Mart, I’m not angry at you. No, no. Just the traffic, it’s just the traffic. My hand is still clenched in a fist above the Ford emblem. I stretch out my fingers, my hand shaking as it hovers. Breathe, Shawn. I rest my hand so it’s parallel with the left one. It still shakes. I ignore it. Maybe I’m just cold, it’s gotta be cold in here. I find the climate knob with my twitching right hand and spin it as far into the red as I can. The fans kick on and exhale loudly. So do I. “I—I’m sorry, I didn’t mean it that way I—I” “Do not speak to me.” “No, no, no listen Mart.” “Who the hell is Mart?” “That, that’s your name—isn’t it?” Mart shudders. “I said do not speak to me.” Her voice bites. “Honey, I’m sure we can work this out. Listen to me, I’m sorry, I—” I ramble on. “Pull over.” “Mart listen to me,” I plead. “Now.” She grabs the door handle, trying to bust it open. She grunts, slamming her hand against the wall. “The car is moving, the door won’t open.” “Then stop the car.” “No.” You’re never going to make the funeral from here Mart, we’re still 15 miles out. Just calm down Mart, we’re gonna make it. I glance back at the rearview mirror. She heaves, sinking back into her seat defeated. Mart scrunches the sleeves of her dress so they rest on her forearms. She clutches her phone, acrylic nails beating against the screen. They are percussive. Tapping. Constant. I feel her reach her head around my seat, peering at the GPS signal. Only 20 more minutes Mart, you’re okay. You can cry for Patrice later, you’re okay. Continue onto Townline Tunnel Road My hands slip off the steering wheel. I wipe them on my pant leg. I put them back at ten and two. Mart’s hand moves towards the window button, she’s so dainty, so graceful. No, no Mart, you’ ll mess up your hair. I lock the window. Turn Right on to Canal Bank Street Droplets fall from my forehead like straggling drips of fuel from a leaking gas pump. “Can you turn down the heater please,” quivers Mart. All you had to do was ask, Mart, I was doing all this for you. “Sure, sure sure.” I nudge the knob to the left. The heat begins to disperse, the air thins as the cold slices through. Mart sighs. She’s quiet again.

20 In 400 Feet Turn Left onto Ontario Road “Actually, can you drop me off here?” Mart says. She’s chipper, her kind eyes seem to have returned. She points to the row of shops to our left. “It’s really no trouble, we only have ten minutes until we’re there.” She raises her phone to her ear. She’s not even listening to me. “No. You will drop me off on the corner. There’s a flower shop I need to stop at—” There it is. That voice again. That voice won’t get you nowhere Mart. “How will you get to the service then—I’ll just take you there.” “No, you will not.” I will. You can’t just miss the service Mart. She screams at me. It’s incoherent. I reckon it’s best I turn left, and drive down the row of shops. Make a U-Turn and Return to Ontario Road I hate parallel parking. But Mart wants to visit this flower shop, so I’ll do it. There’s an opening between a red pickup—Who drives a pickup in the city?—and a police car. It’s tight, but I can do it. I focus my eyes on the trunk of the pickup. A Chiefs fan. I pull forward until my side door aligns with his. I shift the car into reverse, squeezing it into the spot, keeping a close eye on the fender of the cop car. Bonnie makes a screeching sound as I brake. I park. “Hold on, let me get that door for you.” I say, hopping out of the car. She grunts, unbuckling her seatbelt slowly. I watch her scoot towards the passenger side door rather than the one in front of me. Oh! You’re right Mart, I should have known you wouldn’t want to step out into the road. I scramble towards the passenger side. My shoe unties—no bother—I grab the door handle. I pull on the handle. It’s stuck. I try again. It’s locked? Make a U-Turn and Return to Ontario Road Mart and I lock eyes through my tinted backseat window. She’s on the phone still. She’s talking quietly but I can hear muffled words. “I’m outside… yes… scared…” Mart don’t be scared, it’s because you locked yourself in dear. Silly girl, just open the door, I’ve got you. “I’m locked in.. no no… he’s not in here” I tug on the handle again. Mart screams. “No, no no. Listen to me,” I say. I’m calm. She knows that. “All you have to do is unlock the door.” I place my face on the glass so I can be close to hers. I take my hand to the glass and point down. She shrieks. “Mart look at me,” She shakes her head, tears starting to glide down her powdered face.

21 on his white shirt, her mascara blotting in his chest. I wonder if he was as close to Granny Patrice as Mart was, he’s stoic in comparison to her. Mart doesn’t look at me as the man helps her into the truck. She balances her stiletto on the step bar, and hoists herself in. I want to tell her everything is going to be alright. I’m sure Patrice is happy now. I shift my hand in an attempt to find the second cigarette I feel poking out of my pant pocket, but my hand is met with the firm grip of the man behind me. He puts my wrists together behind my back; my incessant movements are ceased by metal handcuffs. *** It’s odd to be a passenger, but the man said I would have Bonnie back in no time. I missed looking out the window and ignoring the traffic signs. There’s a cab in front of us. He’s well behaved, signaling his right hand turn before entering the parking lot of Pelham Funeral Home. He parks behind the red pickup, letting his three passengers escape. I catch a quick glimpse of Mart before she’s blurred by the roadside trees. I pray for her, her smile carved into my memory, bright shining as the sun. “Look at me, look at me,” “No.” She yells. Her voice breaks, please don’t sob, please. “Just unlock the door, you’re going to be okay—” “No!” She’s doing this again. Don’t make me—I don’t want to. Breathe. My hand is shaking again, it feels numb. My hand is numb, why is my hand numb? I plunge my shaking hand into my pocket. I just need a smoke, then I can relax. Make a U-Turn and Return to Ontario Road A hand presses into my back. I’m pinned against Bonnie’s door. Turning my head, I catch a glimpse of the man behind me, before he pushes my head into the window. He’s saying something, his voice is bellowing, but my eyes are searching for Mart’s. Mart has scooted herself back into the seat behind mine. She grips her purse close to her. The running mascara connects her eyes to her lips. A man runs past me, moving through the space between Bonnie and the truck. He’s dressed in a black suit, his jacket drapes over his shoulders. His hair is graying, but he’s large. I watch him through the tinted window. Holding the phone to his ear, he looks at Mart and nods his head. The lock snaps and I feel the car convulse. He opens her door, draping the jacket around her, and she falls into his arms. She weeps

22 THE HERMIT SAXOPHONE Madelene E. Fish fingers dance on the golden keys. After pulling the saxophone from its case and tuning it, Zachery played his favorite classic jazz song “Joy Spring” by Clifford Brown by memory. The feel of the neck strap draping around his neck and the bell balanced on his hip felt like an embrace from an old friend. The notes sashayed on the air, filling the house, and soon Zachery let himself get lost in the metallic notes. The garage door slammed closed behind Zachery Jerome as he strode into the mud room of his house. Taking off his shoes, he slipped on his shabby slippers and headed into the kitchen where he set down his work bag onto the scratched kitchen table. He knew that no one besides himself and his wife’s tuxedo cat, Aslan, were in the house since his wife, Mandy, had told him that morning that she was going out with a friend from their college years. Knowing Mandy and her friend, his wife would come gamboling home when the moon had reached its zenith. It was the perfect time to pull out his saxophone from their closet and play some tunes. Now that there was no crowd to try to thrill, the ever present nerves that raked through Zachery whenever others might hear him play dissolved. Even Mandy had never heard him play, no matter how she begged to hear him play even just one song. Zachery loved his wife, but playing for her would not be an option. For now. At least not until he could play without breaking down in his nervousness. As Zachery pulled out the faded case covered in band stickers, he smiled to himself. The dust cloaking the case testified to the amount of time since he had last played. Brushing the dust off, his smile grew in anticipation of letting his

23 A Treatise on Time Travel. Sir Bartholomew Achida, Poet and Mathematician. I. Definitions A formal definition of time: The sequential continuity of space as perceived by the mortal mind. A formal definition of space: The adjacent continuity of place. II. Relationship These being the case, it may be clear That time and space are closer than appear Whereas space is tridirectional, with right and left, up and down, front and back, it is bereft of time’s before and after which complete the fourth axle. Though time appears sequential, it is quite alike to space: from a certain referential, both exist as total states. Instantaneous travel through space and time ought then be much the same. We expect to find one possible should the other be ascertained. In fact we find this to be true, upon analysis of the equations, too. A TREATISE ON TIME TRAVEL Corrissa L. Smith

24 For that which describes travel through space is quadratic in nature and thus presents alike to that through time as if they were meant to be combined. Some of you may have observed that the traditional form of equations for space require energy linear to change in place. How can this be the case? The quadratic form— or even, should we be mistaken, whatever form this equation has taken— will be found to be constant per distance quantum and thus a summation will produce the linear equation for this travel is not of the instantaneous type. Suffice it to say, we do observe that differences remain, but space and time are much the same.

25 WARNINGS AND WILTED ROSES Rachel Crane attention; I sight my target. He poses in his Romeo costume. Some Romeo. Promising devotion to me till death parted us, really meaning the death of his affections. I wish I had some darts to throw at his heart, but then I remember he doesn’t have one. I start the Keurig, wait, pour the coffee, return to my desk, sit, place my Jane Austen mug beside the letter. As I reach over to close my blinds, my hand bumps the mug, spilling coffee everywhere. Black liquid seeps into the letter I just crafted. I growl and pound the desk with my fist. No matter, I’ll just make another one. I have what I need. Everything else I need I can get from the prop room: fake blood to stain Romeo’s costume, five-dollar watches to smash and warn him of his limited time, a tape recorder so he’ll hear me for once. As I begin cutting out new words, I glance at the roses wilting in their vase. What a lovely gift they’ll make for Romeo in two more days. They were a gift fromMom after opening night, but I can put them to better use than wilting on my desk. After all, what are flowers compared to revenge? This letter turned out better than I expected. I sit at my desk, tracing a streak of glue along the rectangle I’ve just cut from People. Words lifted from the soap opera accounts transfer from their paper to mine via sewing scissors and Elmer’s glue. A chorus of car horns outside my window jerks my hand and trails glue an inch across my desk. I glance out the window, huff, then reposition the glue over the slip of paper. I wipe up the glue trail with latex-covered hands, fill in the rectangle with more glue, stick it to the paper, search People for the word “revenge,” attach it to the end of the sentence. My message complete, I fold the paper in half, stuff it in an envelope, leave it on my desk while I clean up the scraps. Tomorrow I’ll plant the note on our handsome leading man’s backpack. No one at Richmond Civic Theater will notice an extra like me. No one ever notices me. People and its remains tumble into my trashcan. As I turn, my Keurig, on a table by the door, catches my eye. Coffee sounds good after two hours of skimming, cutting, and gluing. I cross the room to the Keurig, wondering if I’ll have to sell it to pay my rent. The poster above the machine captures my

26 The room was dark, until he uncorked the bottle. Red light flashed up to the vaulted ceiling, away to the far columns, and forward onto the wall of interlocking sigils and the winding ribbons of narrative text. He tipped the stone flask. Fire poured out and cast light against the slender neck. The molten fluid hissed along curves and lines, writing in flame in the dusty tracks of the stone floor. Blood. Ruin. Flame. Shadow. Heart. This was the creature he needed. A perfect monster. One that would answer only to its blood, to the fire, to his blood. He knelt in front of the runes and breathed in the ancient air. Pressed his palms against the cool stone, and whispered the old enchantment. The fire retreated as he spoke, coalescing against the wall into a glowing figure. The chamber trapped his whispers, echoed them, and as his voice died away, the figure became wrapped in shadow. The man stood in the silence, slowly, his hand straying to the hilt of his sword. Two blazing, white eyes winked open. The shadow cocked its head, and stumbled forward, as if walking for the first time. The man let his hand fall as the shadow came and knelt before him. There was something strangely innocent about it: disarming, gentle, for such an instrument of destruction. “Father?” The man froze for a moment, then knelt with the shadow, and reached for its shoulder. He marveled at how sleek, and cool, and soft the darkness felt. A mane of smoke drifted about and brushed his hand. But it was the face that took him. Muted features, all but the eyes, the fiery, clear, deadly, innocent eyes. “Yes?” he replied. “Who am I?” “You are my son,” the man said, and embraced the shadow. It seemed confused, at first, motionless in his arms, and then mimicked him, putting its arms around him. It shivered, and drew closer, as if melting from his body heat, and buried its face in his shoulder. * * * THE SHADOW Corrissa L. Smith

27 He walked back to his estate in a daze, dissolved shadow swirling around his feet at every step, exploring. Anyone who saw him darted indoors. Perhaps they watched him, quaking, through their papered windows. “Your Eminence,” the man heard, over the march of approaching footsteps. He turned. Councilor Meridan in deep velvet, come with armed lackeys. “That creature is a danger to us all!” “I regret your cowardice more than your treachery,” the man said. He made the smallest gesture, and the shadow shot out from beside him. Cries arose from the armed guard. Screams, and rending metal. Swords slashed at the air, hitting nothing but the enveloping smoke that rose and choked all sound. Then, in the silence, the smoke withdrew and the shadow reformed. The man surveyed the carnage. Bodies, slashed across throat or chest, only once. Viciously. Economically. He smiled at the look of terror frozen into Meridan’s jowls. The shadow stood still, staring at its hands. “You were perfect, son.” The man set his hand on the shadow’s shoulder, on the darkness softer than silk. It shifted to stand against his warmth. Childlike eyes absorbing the praise from its father. * * * “You had Meridan killed today.” It was her first remark since supper began, the two dining in the privacy of her balcony. “You’re displeased.” “If you’re willing to murder your own puppets, what should that tell me?” “You are my honored guest, Senator.” “No, your prisoner. Why you think I might ever give you my support is beyond me—” “Senator, please. When have I been anything but kind?” “Kind to whom? Me? Meridan? The people?” A knock interrupted them, and the man leapt up. Before he could go even a pace, the shadow stumbled into the Senator’s quarters. “Father!” it rasped, clutching its shoulder. “What happened?” the Senator cried. The man peeled the shadow’s hand back, revealing a gash of light across its shoulder. Foaming white radiance, bleeding. “What did this?” the man asked sharply as he pulled the shadow over to the table. There, he pricked himself on his knife and rubbed a drop of blood over the gash. It sealed instantly. Scarless. The shadow proffered a rusted knife, gingerly, and the man lifted it. Impossible. No one but he

28 himself could even harm the creature. Was this his old hunting knife? Perhaps something of his had the potential to injure the creature as well. This was a vulnerability unaccounted for, and quickly exploited. He would have to double down on the insurgence. “Will it happen again?” the shadow whimpered. “Are they dead?” “I killed them, Father.” “Then no, child,” he said, pulling it into his arms. “No one else could ever hurt you, except me.” He stroked the shadow’s back as it lay against his shoulder. “And I never will.” * * * The Senator insisted on naming the shadow. She called it Elendi. And though it ate nothing, she requested its presence at supper day after day. He suspected her fondness for it was a result of concealing anything she felt for him. Let her do it, then. Every now and again she’d let a smile slip through. The shadow’s blood loyalty would not be bothered. He didn’t tell her of the rebel hunts. Of the nights when he and the shadow prowled the mesa’s caves and catacombs. Of the desperate struggles of those they cornered; of standing back, arms folded, as the shadow closed in. Did he fear them? The man feared nothing for his own safety. The shadow never let a soul touch him. But he feared their knowledge. They had found a weakness, and the shadow couldn’t heal without him. * * * A speech, a fortnight after a rebel cell was cleared. He’d dismissed the shadow indoors and stood over the courtyard. Intimidation was not what he wanted, not right now. When there are no rebels, he promised, there will be peace. He saw a silhouette rise above the crowd, and his words died. A figure climbing up a statue amidst them. The silhouette—he began to take a step back— held—he tried to turn, and dive to the ground—a bow—but before he could turn far, an arrow sang across the courtyard and slashed past his shoulder and into his ribs. The shadow rushed out and stood over him in the calamitous noise, his guards filled in between him and the railing, and a physician broke off the bloodied shaft. He was carried into the nearest bedroom, where the physician cut the arrowhead from his chest. Not too serious, he pronounced, wrapping the man’s shoulder tightly. His mantle had likely saved him a month’s recovery. The shadow stumbled in, hands pressed against spiderwebbed cracks in its chest. It paused against the wall to yank out an arrow-shaft, the headless shaft that had been spattered with the man’s blood. The shadow ran to his side. “Father! Father, are you well? Father, I failed you,” it panted. Wisps of light leaked between its claws and curled up to the ceiling.

29 went to supper and found the shadow there before him, talking quietly with the Senator. The shadow’s wound had become an old scar. “You’ve gone beyond murder this time,” she snapped once she saw him. “They were children!” Bile rose in his throat as she described the acts of terror. “On my life, Senator, I gave no such order.” “Yes, you did,” the shadow hissed, almost thoughtfully. “You ordered it directly, Father.” The man’s blood thickened with ice. “Did you— lie to me?” “I can’t. I’m bound to you. Aren’t I?” “Senator,” the man whispered, around a pasty tongue and numb lips. “Senator.” He tried. He tried, desperately, to get her away from the shadow. She didn’t see the danger. Gave him a pointed look, and didn’t move. “What do you want?” he asked the shadow. “I want you to be proud of me, Father.” “I—I have been.” “Yet you say nothing. Am I nothing to you?” “You,” he faltered, “you are my son.” The shadow rubbed the spiderwebbed scar on its chest. “Do you love me?” He raised his good arm to point to the door. “Go kill whoever did this,” he barked. “Find whoever was involved. Get answers before they get away.” The shadow bowed and dashed away. There were bodies, but no answers. It returned again and again, bowing, hand clutched to chest. Never news of the rebels. The man scarcely spoke but to send it again. The Senator expressed little concern for his well-being, though he came to supper with his arm in a sling for weeks. He kept the shadow away until the day it burst into her quarters unbidden— “Father! Father,” it cried. “The assassin is dead.” “Where was he from? Who was he working with?” “I could not—” “Go!” And the shadow bowed, light leaking through its claws, and dashed away. “You haven’t healed him?” the Senator asked. Her fingers strayed to the blade of her knife. The man gave silence for answer. * * * He left for a week, paying respects to one of his lords further south, as proof that he was neither ill in bed nor dying. The shadow had work to do, and remained behind. It was upon his return that he

30 sword. Once he’d come to the low, sprawling town, he scaled a ladder onto some family’s flat roof. They had a small potted garden; he skirted the rosemary silently. One foot on the lip of their rooftop, he waited, letting the night’s chill seep through his cloak. The stars hung bright and lonely. He heard a scream, faintly. A pause, shattered by wailing. And he took off running, leaping over the little alleys. The wailing stopped. He carried on. Perhaps he woke the men, the women, the children sleeping under him as he ran across their roofs. Perhaps no one heard him at all. But the shadow did. He saw it waiting for him, only the blazing eyes, on a rooftop in a swirling mass of smoke. “Elendi,” he whispered. “Son.” Now that he was done running, his wounds burned, throbbing in his chest. The eyes blinked. “The fault is all mine,” he said, lowering his sword to the ground. The shadow took a step forward. The man opened his arms, and the shadow came to him. For one heartbeat, two, he stood with its head against his shoulder, cool and soft and silky. Then he wrested the two of them to the floor, locking his arm around the shadow’s neck. The shadow’s claws raked him. It burned. Like fire and poison. As they rolled over, his sweat-beaded face came pressed up against the shadow’s ear. He saw the look in its eyes. Frightened, pleading. White and blazingly cold, icy, dark. Senator. Senator, move. “You love her,” it whispered, slowly, “more than you love me.” The Senator finally understood, startling from her seat, but the shadow grabbed her. She screamed. It hissed back at them, claws against her throat. “I’ll kill her!” “You won’t!” the man said. “Stand down. You have no right to disobey me.” “Your mistake,” the shadow spat. “That’s no longer true.” He saw the claws flex. “No! Celeste!” The shadow stared at her blood, flowing over its claws, then flinched back and dropped the body. “I made you!” the man roared. “You have no right to do this! None!” But he raged at air. The shadow fled out the window and was gone. * * * He had never felt quite so strange as that night, sneaking out of his own estate in dark cloak and

31 “I never should have made you,” he growled. The shadow kicked and thrashed and tried claw its way free, but screamed in pain with every rivulet of blood that touched its skin. He pinned it to the ground and twisted, twisted until the shadow froze, panting in his arms. “Father—” He gave one last, vicious, twist. The shadow’s neck snapped. Cracks splintered over its body, light and smoke seeping over his arms, spilling to the ground, swirling away. He lay back and closed his eyes, unmoving, chest heaving. Arms still wrapped around the body, until dawn.




35 FIRST IMPRESSIONS Alayna Drollinger The other day, I met a man who looked just like Cicero. His hair curled in flat grey rings about his ears, in accordance with the style of the latter days of Rome. His forehead lay bare and broad and wrinkled in the middle, as if in the midst of formulating such pithy remarks as “abuse the plaintiff ” or “sane men don’t dance.” His nose protruded from his face like a chunk of marble, two eyes rudely squashed on either side and contorted to show lines of wry humor and stifled laughter. A heavy chin had attached itself to the jawline and rounded the features to a genial edge, still good for cutting. At any moment there might drop from his lips those dry epitaphs that had earned his head such an auspicious place upon the Forum walls. Perhaps this man before me was Cicero—reborn, the sage reincarnated, the oracle returned to flay the flesh of tender men with quick wit and sharp glances. Yet as this Cicero turned, I glimpsed peeking from those grey curls like the eye of a bearded cyclops peering at the world in bleary consternation, a bald spot. I reconsidered. Perhaps he was not quite Cicero.

36 APPENDICITIS Grace Kohler Five hundred fifty-one hours, plus the evenings she spent with me before admittance Twenty-three days: January-February. The day before my sister’s eighth birthday. Five surgeons assigned to my case, two more residents. Three hospitals, one doctor’s office. Two surgeries. Two ambulance rides. One nasogastric tube, twelve days. One PICC line, ? (too many) days. Countless IVs, one burst. I don’t even know how many nurses, but she met them all and remembered their names. I felt sick Tuesday, January 15th, 2019. A minor stomachache, Mom had made me a large salad for lunch and my smoothie could have gone bad sitting on the counter the hour before. Stomachache turned to cramps—abdominal muscles squeezed into fists that won’t unclench. Dad asked me if I was just on my period, and I glared at him. He had to apologize later. We all knew after I threw up—every hour on the hour starting at four o’ clock. Two days later I was admitted—had surgery taking out my appendix that evening. We’re not new to how this works. My family, that is. One to be sick, one to deal with doctors, and one to hold down the fort. She was in the hospital for what felt like months. Maybe only a week. We got the meals for a while. It’s Dad’s job this time, to fit them all, like Tetris into the fridge. Instead of learning to cook, I became an expert in how to reheat pre-cooked meals and plate for the kids— leaving some for my dad, the note from one of the church moms magnet-ed to the fridge. I read all the Kindle books we owned during the space between when I put the kids to bed and when Dad came home. Those shadowed golden hours were my own, but unwanted. The black of the house crept into the studio, and the yellowed overhead bulbs glowed like circles of candlelight against the couch in my mind to ward off the dark. He’d told me I could go to bed before he got back, but he knew that wasn’t my habit, so he’d text me in advance to let me know if he planned on staying the night at the hospital.

37 At least at the Cleveland Clinic, when they mercifully turned off the stark fluorescence of the lights into the stale grey, she was there. But she never went home to Dad, to fetch a change of clothes and sleep in her own bed next to him. She breathed the same antiseptic that I did. Maybe she didn’t taste the bile in her own throat ebbing and flowing with each swallow, but she felt the convulsing of my throat every time I threw up in the spasms on all her heartstrings. There were babies—weeks, months, I don’t know how old—infants—in those hospital rooms all alone. At Fairview, I was the only real shakeup: longest stay, eighteen years old, still throwing up every time they tried to feed me, dependent on my daily injection of Pepcid because I can’t even swallow that. My mom prayed for all of the children on the roster at the nurse’s station on the pediatric floor. When we’d take our semi-hourly walks, me leaning on the IV pole and her arm around my waist, I could tell she was praying over them, even with her eyes open. When she wasn’t casting her petition up to God on my behalf, it was for them. When I transferred to the main campus in Cleveland, we didn’t know my young neighbors as well—they changed too frequently. I, at eighteen, was the only child in the pediatric ward with parental supervision. There was one father who went around to all of the children and gave out toys to play with, but he couldn’t stay the whole time. He gave me a lottery themed Rubik’s cube. She went home once during the whole stay, and only for an afternoon. My aunt sat with me while she went to pack her own clothes and shower. I don’t remember anything from our conversation. People came to visit, but I only remember what they left; I inventoried them and she arranged them in their gift wrappings on the far shelf, too afraid to keep them close in case I threw up again. The night they put in my nasogastric tube was the most wretched. I had guests that evening, but they left as soon as we had to start the procedure. I assume it was night because I was told so, but it could have been afternoon for all I remember. The doctor said putting it in was the worst part, but it would be fine after that. The nurse said they needed to suck the bile out of my stomach to give my intestines space to recover. I had to swallow continuously as they fed a rubber tube up my nasal cavity. They gave me a cup of water that I drank too quickly, and I had to force myself to dry swallow. It couldn’t have been more than a half-centimeter in diameter, but I could feel it, like a metal rod I was convinced dissected my esophagus. I couldn’t swallow. If I’d let my mouth hang open, I could breathe against the pole I imagined bisecting my throat. But the reflex to swallow would overcome every few minutes, forcing down my spit and gagging up rubber, choking, crying, and her hand was there, in mine, squeezing it back so I knew she was there as I pressed the cloth to my mouth and tried to stop my convulsing. She stayed like that the whole night, hand gripped in mine, arm stiff over the bed rail, plastic-threaded chair as close as she could get it. I couldn’t speak, didn’t know else how to communicate.

38 Midway through writing this draft, I called my mother, my back against brick wall, choking on imagined plastic and real tears. I think I scared her—calling her up at 10:39 in the evening, when I knew she’d probably gone to sleep. She was in bed, but I caught her before she had drifted off. We talked about it again, the hospital. But we grew out of it, talked about school, about what the kids had done lately, how she was feeling. I spent an hour before I remembered the book I was supposed to be reading for class. She ended the way she always does: “Don’t lose your scholarship! Love you.” She. My mother. I keep forgetting “she” isn’t enough specification. People tell me I look exactly like her and it makes her beam. Her eyelids fold over in a way I’ve told her mimics a sad hound dog’s. When she’s upset, they make me mad—how dare I make her eyes look that sad? How dare she make me feel that? I don’t even think she knows she does it. I have my dad’s blue hue, but her hound-dog folds. Maybe I spend so much time dwelling on the “She” in my head that I forget to look at my mother now. Her hair is greying; she gave up plucking the white hairs out a while ago. I have one white hair that I refuse to pluck. It curls around the other hairs. My mother is entirely practical, but she knows to factor my tears into the budget as a regular expenditure, filed under “comfort.” We get in fights more than we used to, but she still knows how to interpret my emotions to my dad most of the time. She wanted to be a doctor—all of the facts I know about anatomy came from her.

39 Strength comes from the shoulder, so taut and stern that each downward push releases something. It’s a churning, turning motion, hinging the wrist like a patio door swinging wide. Steam fogs up my glasses, but I don’t need to see. This is innate, ancestral— carrying on the pioneering grit of heating and boiling and straining and adding and reducing. My tricep tightens when I reach the chunks still bound together, and I stumble into the pot when the masher slips through a pocket of soupy butter instead of spud. I can hear mom’s voice calling to me, my grandmother, my aunt—my housemates, asking when I’ll be done in the kitchen. I’m understanding ritual. I’m stepping the dance of my mother’s feathered grip that labors for a number of victories: sustenance, a full table, validation, prong-bent forks clouded in white, exhale. I’m understanding “I cook, you clean,” and even more why she always chose cook. It’s creating and watching be consumed, the transformation of stock to product. As I pass her recipe card to friends, guide them in the proper torque and seasoning, I am observation begetting continuation. I am mimicking a lifetime of peripheral memories, absorbed as I derived quadratics and pressed my elbows into the countertop behind the oven. In my own kitchen, at my rented electric stovetop, I stand with her gait and practice, pressing, punching. I boil red potatoes and serve them, handmashed, from the pot she gifted me for Christmas. “Someday, you’ll pass that recipe to your daughters,” she breathes out over the phone. Shaved skins in the garbage, minced garlic spilled on the countertop, butter and cream rippling through whipped waves, I am conversing in her warm, lassoing tone. POTATOES Heidie Raine