The Lake

By: Roktim Bhattacharjya

Even though it was the morning after the exams Zubin woke up early. It was a few seconds before it really sunk in that he would not have to torture himself awake today. There were no formulae to revise. No chapter left for a desperate read-through in the morning. He could lie on bed and let his mind wander free. Ah the freedom of the mind. The joy of it all made him a little dizzy.

Sure he would eventually have to get off the bed and pack up all his stuff. He was going back home for the month long vacation. But that could wait a few hours without causing too much of an inconvenience. He plumped up the pillow and let his head sink in its softness. On the wall next to him the warm light of the dawn bled through the curtains over a broken window.

He had dreamed last night. He tried to remember what the dream was about and failed. All he remembered was that it was a sweet little dream. Some of the sweetness still remained like the taste of something delectable sometimes does long after the teeth have stopped chewing. But the dream itself had completely faded away. He had a feeling it was a dream he saw often. If only he could remember.

Zubin held the curtains slightly apart with a hand and peered out. From his hostel he could see a line of tall trees standing just outside the premises. He didn’t know what the trees were. They were taller than most trees around and had really large leaves. He liked looking at those trees. They looked to him like ancient trees from another age. All the view needed was a lake, a large one with the waters still as a mirror.

Zubin closed his eyes and pictured the lake. He liked lakes. There was one near his hostel. Well it was more of a pond really but to Zubin it held all the beauty of the largest lakes, if not as much water. Often times he would go and sit near the crystal clear water for hours. And a wishful mind would take him to the lake his mother would take him to when he was a child.

This was long ago. He was a little child then. He had no other memories from that time. But the lake the remembered like it was yesterday. And not without reason; his mother had passed away soon after with him not much older. He held onto that memory of her with all the tears he did not shed and anchored it in place with the smile he chose instead. A smile that mirrored his mothers he believed.

He had never been to that lake after his mother had passed away. He didn’t even know where it lay. No one even mentioned it anymore, probably worried that it would bring back memories of his mother. As if he could forget. As if he should. Read More

The Keeper Of The Truth

by Anne Leigh Parrish

The crystals in the window would have thrown a rainbow in the sun. The sun wasn’t out, though. It was winter, and the world was gray. The woman was gray, too, not just her hair, but her suit, whose only decoration was a small pin in the shape of a seahorse angled on her right lapel. She didn’t go by Madame Zolara or any sort of exotic name that conjured an intimacy with the spirits, but by Gwen. Psychic Gwen. Painted in gold loopy letters across the dusty glass door.
Emily was there for research. She was writing a book on sooth sayers, visionaries, and fortune tellers, women with a gift, women beyond the mainstream and how they had been perceived – and treated – over time. She’d done enough reading, and needed a primary source, so had driven up South Hill in the snow, struggling to find the right address among the storefronts whose numbers had faded or disappeared.
Psychic Gwen gestured to a folding metal chair by a small, round table. Emily sat down, and then Psychic Gwen took the chair opposite her. Emily didn’t know what to do next. The last time she had interviewed anyone was back in high school, when she’d worked for local newspaper as an intern. The person they matched her up with was a local politician, a Second Ward alderman, a crusty old Irish Catholic who talked about “bad elements” moving to Dunston, and then offered her a cigarette.
After a moment, while Psychic Gwen held Emily’s gaze in a way that made Emily uneasy, she said, “There are some things I’d like to ask you.” It was a short list: When did you first suspect that you were psychic? Did you tell anyone? If so, what was the reaction? Psychic Gwen reached across the red velvet tablecloth and took Emily’s hand. She gazed into the palm which had suddenly dampened with sweat, then turned it a little towards the only source of light in the room, a small lamp on top of a large and very dusty roll-top desk.
“You will live a long life,” Psychic Gwen said. “Much of it alone, but not all.” She peered more closely. “You will not have children, yet there was a child once.”
At twenty-two Emily had had an abortion. Her boyfriend was in love with someone else, needing Emily for comfort until his true love opened her heart. Emily never told him about the baby. She never told anyone.
Emily reclaimed her hand.
“Please. There are things I must ask,” she said.
Psychic Gwen took out a deck of Tarot cards from a drawer on her side of the table. She spread them out, face down, with the skill of Las Vegas dealer.
“The cards hold all your answers. Point to one,” Psychic Gwen said.
Emily sighed. This was a bad idea, she now saw. She pointed to a card.
“The Chariot,” Psychic Gwen said. “This means you desire to exert control and find it difficult to do so. Now, choose again.”
Emily pointed to a second card.
“The Hanged Man. You want to let something go, change direction, reverse your fortune. These cards are in opposition, as are you, torn between two objectives, unsure of the outcome. The third card will decide your fate.”
Emily’s third choice was the Ten of Swords. “You feel like a victim, on the receiving end of another’s folly. You have put this person’s welfare above your own.”
Psychic Gwen put the cards back in the drawer, and told Emily she had a stain on her soul.
“You have carried it there a long time. Yet one day, you may wash it clean.”
Emily gave up on the questions she’d prepared, and handed Gwen the twenty dollar bill she’d been asked to pay when she made the appointment on the phone, refused a receipt, and rose to go.
“I will see you again,” Psychic Gwen said. At those rates, Emily didn’t think that likely.
The snow fell harder. What had taken over thirty minutes to get to Psychic Gwen’s became over and hour to return home – to the house she had taken possession of from her mother and father when they moved to Arizona. They hoped to put it on the market within the year, and counted on Emily to supervise the sale. She lived there rent-free, because at the time the arrangement was made, she was in school, plugging away on her doctoral thesis. Her parents assumed she still was. Emily had withdrawn from the university the previous autumn after the man she was having an affair with went back to his wife. At that point, school became too much.
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Another Shred of Evidence to Burn

By Rebecca Zielke

I scrambled to get the papers together, trying to figure out which documents were most important, the ones that I would not burn in the fireplace. The regime had found out about the resistance and there were rumors that names were released. While I was not high in command, my name was on that list regardless, and I had no idea how much time I had left before the army started looking for me. I had heard stories of public executions of those who dared to disobey the Germans’ command in France. I knew I may not be so lucky.

After deciding which papers were crucial, I threw the rest in the fireplace. The flames consumed them within minutes; names and locations disappeared as if they never were. I hid the rest in a concealed location in my suitcase and started to pack the essentials for traveling. We were told that if our names were made known to the Gestapo, we were to flee to Switzerland. As a mere contributor, we were told by our leaders that it was best to make smaller differences from afar, than no difference being dead. The top officials of the resistance would stay behind and fight until the Gestapo or the French army got them.

I heard a knock on the door. My heart sank. Was it them already? What if it was just a neighbor?

Yes, it could just be Mrs. Dawnay. She might need help with her garden again. The poor lady is too old to continue to work in the ground and yet she still does.

I composed myself and walked to the front door to look through the peephole.

It was Nathan and another man behind him. Nathan was my boyfriend, and it seemed more daring that we were together considering he was in the French army, the army controlled by Germany. Any one at that very moment would have seen that two French army soldiers in uniform were at my door, which left me with no chance of running out the back door. I opened the door to let them in.

“Nathan,” I started nervously. “I thought you were still out…” I trailed off as he and the other man pushed past me inside and into the main room, closing the drapes of the windows. When the windows were covered, he turned around to look at me. He did not seem warm and inviting as he usually was, but cold and distant. I slowly walked towards him but he pulled away. The other man walked towards me and grabbed my arm so I would not run away.

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The Ghost’s Guitar

By: Lily Luchesi
Edited by: Kelly Smith

How could you move a city gal from NYC to a town somewhere in Butt-Fuck, Virginia right before she starts high school? How?
That’s what fifteen-year-old Maria Devine’s parents did, however, due to her father’s job being temporarily relocated. But no one knew how long “temporary” actually would be and Maria hated starting high school in this one-horse town!
Nothing would make it better…or would it?

Next door lived a nice, “down-home” family, the Sweetzers: mother, father, older son and younger daughter. All of them had light eyes and medium-brown hair with fair skin. They looked like and advertisement for the all-American family.
Maria, a Goth and die-hard fan of acts like Type-O Negative and The Cure, didn’t even bother meeting them.
One night, right before school began, Maria couldn’t sleep, so she opened her window to get some air. It was then she heard the most beautiful, ethereal guitar playing she had ever heard.
Not caring that it was almost 1am, she put on a jacket over her black, skull-printed pajamas and went outside to find the source of the music.
A candle, silhouetting the young man sitting there with an acoustic guitar, was illuminating the back porch of the house next door.
“Hello?” Maria called tentatively.
The music stopped and the man’s head popped up. “Who’s there?”
His voice was soft, musical. It went through Maria and gave her the most pleasant chills down her spine.
“I’m Maria Devine, your neighbor.” She walked closer and saw him in full light. He was breathtakingly handsome, with a strong jaw, a nice smile, side-swept hair and light, angel-blue eyes.
“Hi. I’m Chris Sweetzer.” He didn’t offer a handshake, but, then again, what teenage boy would?
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Break Up

By Mike Leon

Allison opens her eyes to the bright sun shining in through the gaps in the blinds. She sweats under the heavy sheets. The upstairs room is like this every morning during the summer. The sun pours in through the front of the house and the second level becomes like a sauna compared to the downstairs where the thermostat is mounted. She peels back the sheets and steps out of the bed, her right foot making contact with the cool wood floor.
“It’s so gross up here,” Daniel says. He remains in the bed, on the left side, where he always sleeps, as if it makes much difference on the tiny twin mattress. They always end up entangled in some back breaking position together. “We need to move somewhere that doesn’t get hot.”
“Well, if you get a real job,” she sighs as she covers svelte frame with a bathrobe and throws her long hair behind her. The robe is worn and frayed along the bottom.
“I know,” he says, rolling over on the bed to face away from her.
He works in a call center. Everyone they know seems to work in a call center. Banking, or technical support, or generic customer support—if they’re not a teacher or a nurse or an engineer, they work in a call center. Daniel was supposed to be an engineer, but that never happened.
“My parents already said they would help us out if you go back to school,” Allison says, attempting to broach a topic that has been avoided for at least a week.
“We talked about this already,” Daniel says.
“So are you going to go?”
“I feel so itchy.”
“Itchy? What does that mean?”
“I don’t know,” he says. “I just feel itchy.” Read More