Spring Fling

Spring Fling – Envy by Rena Olsen

Posted by on May 30, 2014 in Spring Fling, Writing | 1 comment

Spring Fling – Envy by Rena Olsen

The seats by the bathrooms reek. I mean, duh, of course they do, but I’m not sure why they couldn’t at least make these seats more comfortable. Cushy seats in the air pollution zone, or hard molded plastic where it’s more breathable. I glare at the scruffy backpacker currently stretched out on some of the prime odor-less seats and pull my sweater up over my nose. Before closing my eyes, I sneak a peek at her. The golden goddess. I spotted her on the plane. First class, of course. Her shimmering honey hair and immaculate makeup caught my attention first. The way she commanded the entire area, making her presence known in subtle ways. The haughty tilt of her head. The careless toss of her hair. The authoritative tone of her voice when she called for a flight attendant. The epitome of everything that I will never be. I got up to use the bathroom between first class and business class more times than I needed to during the six hour flight, just to see what she was doing. I knew it was creepy, but it was like I was drawn to her. Leaning back, I close my eyes and imagine that we are friends, traveling together, pulling matching designer luggage, having the time of our fabulous lives. She’s probably in LA for some audition or movie or something. Not like me, back home because I’ve been cast off once again by dear old Dad. We were supposed to have the summer together, me and Dad. We’d planned it. Sure, he worked during the day and kept his rock star dreams alive with gigs most nights, but I was okay exploring by myself. Anything to get away from my annoyingly chipper stepdad and his bratty kids. I mean, yeah, they were nice enough, but my stepdad is always trying to get me to talk about my feelings and go do family things together, and he doesn’t seem to understand that Mom and I were fine without them. And Dad would have come back someday. Probably. He just needed to do the band thing for a while. And yeah, it’s been five years, but if Mom had just waited I wouldn’t be here now. Because there wouldn’t have been a Sonya. Sonya is the reason I only lasted three weeks in New York. She convinced Dad that I was cramping his style, what with my demands for things like food and a place to sleep. “You can’t be a true rock star with a teenage daughter hanging around,” I heard her whisper to him when they thought I was asleep on the couch. She was supposed to be his “manager,” but I’m not a kid. I heard her sneaking out those mornings. Adults are not as smart as they think they are. I look at my watch. Now my family is twenty minutes late. I fish my phone out of my pocket, making sure the apple icon flashes in the goddess’ direction. Before I send a text, I glance up to see if she’s noticed that I’m not totally lame. She is absorbed in her own phone screen, a small crease between her eyes hinting at distress. I wonder what she has to be distressed about. She’s waiting too, so maybe her fabulous boyfriend is stuck in traffic. I hope he gets here before my family so I can see what I’m sure will be a passionate reunion. Where are you guys? I tap out a quick message to my mom. The phone vibrates almost immediately. Had to grab a...

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Spring Fling – Prisoner of the Heart by Emily McKeon

Posted by on May 30, 2014 in Spring Fling, Writing | 1 comment

Spring Fling – Prisoner of the Heart by Emily McKeon

Jeff noticed her right away. He always noticed her the minute she walked out of the building. It’s why he sat here on the park bench across from the metal door she always came out of. Every day at one-fifteen, just like clockwork, the metal doors opened and twenty-five women flooded out, lapping up the sunshine for the rest of the hour before being corralled back inside. Every day at exactly one-ten, Jeff sat down on his bench and waited for the stream of women to come out. At first Jeff hadn’t noticed anything all that different about her. She dressed the same as the others, forced to conform to their unity. Her hair was cut short, keeping the sun from getting caught and gleaming on it too brightly. Not like the long, luxurious curls of the co-eds Jeff was accustomed to seeing over the weekends. Hers were a muddy brownish-black, dulled by a shoddy dye job. Still, she fascinated him. A mystery that clung to her like early morning dew. And her laugh. Oh how her laugh went through him. It was what drew his attention to her in the first place. Poems filling an entire notebook existed at the back of his underwear drawer. Every page in it documenting the unique beauty of her laugh. How it memorized him and sent his heart skittering whenever he heard it. Jeff watched as she clambered onto a picnic table in the yard and pulled out a pack of cigarettes. She tapped one out, placing it between ruby lips. Someone said something and she threw her head back and laughter poured out with the cigarette smoke. A deep, rough laugh, tinged at the end with a brief burst of smoker’s cough. Music to his ears. Jeff didn’t know her name, although he’d overheard one of the others call her Sheila. Whether that was her real name or a nickname didn’t matter. From that point on, he changed the address of all his poems from ‘The Most Beautiful Woman in the World’ to ‘Sheila, the Most Beautiful Woman in the World.’ A small change, but for Jeff it opened up a whole new world of poetry. Now he could expound at length over the beauty of her name. He’d been watching her like this for months, starting in the cool, nippy air of the Delaware autumn, through the light snow-filled winter. Now the air grew warmer with the promise of spring and he still hadn’t worked up the courage to speak to her. He didn’t even know if she ever noticed him sitting across the street or if she was so wrapped up in her own world that she never ventured to peek out beyond her walls. The sun slid out from a cloud and the ray struck Sheila, lighting up her shallow skin, giving it a dusty brown tone. Jeff sighed, scribbling away in his notebook, composing his next poem: The beauty of your skin in the sun Pales in comparison to the joy of your laugh He looked up. Their time outside would be coming to a close soon. Ten minutes more and she’d head back inside and he’d be forced to go back to work. Work. How he hated it. Sitting alone in his little booth, deciding who could pass through the gates and who would be stopped by them clanging shut. He tried applying for another position, one that would allow him to be closer to her. Every time he tried, he was told there was nothing available or that others with more seniority and experience had...

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Spring Fling – The Turning Point by Kristin Rivers

Posted by on May 23, 2014 in Spring Fling, Writing | 0 comments

Spring Fling – The Turning Point by Kristin Rivers

The field of roses in Brookshire Hill is where many come to rest. They lay down their hearts, their hopes, their dreams, by day or night by the lone oak tree with initials carved all over the wood. The carvings tell stories of each couple, each dream that is asked for as if by prayer. Ophelia Evans knew this tree very well. The very spot was considered a tourist attraction, a sacred place where the spring brought love and new beginnings to all who spent in this field, even if it were a mere hour. She heard how all those who went to the hill after spring began suddenly managed to get true love, and were happy the rest of their lives. She wished that were so. For five years she came to this field at the exact same day, a few days into mid-April as the first flowers began to poke their sleepy heads out from the grass. Roses so red they reminded one of blood, dandelions so little and innocent, marigolds and daisies, many flowers sprouting luxurious colors as if she lay in a heavenly rainbow upon the Earth. For once, no nosy tourists were here. It was quiet, the first time in a long time she was truly alone; and she dreaded it. She sighed, her breath gently blowing some of the flowers in front of her face. Like he’d care what I have to say. Suddenly, she heard this whoosh dashing by her eardrum. With a start, she sat up in the field and looked around. Her blue eyes blinked to try and see past the glowing sunlight in front of her face, shielding her forehead with her hand. “Hello?” she called out. “Is someone there?” No answer. With a shrug, she lays back down again. Closing her eyes, she tries to picture him. His gentle smile, his contagious laugh, his paintings he spent many weeks on, trying to sculpt and create things only the human heart could ever decipher, a rare gift she found many men did not have. Sure, Ophelia had her cat Whiskers who laid on her comforter every night when she kicked him off. As always, he got back on, but she loved him to pieces anyway. She had her mother, Susan, who took care of her and made sure she was loved and appreciated throughout her childhood, encouraging her to follow her dreams of being a dancer on Broadway. Her stepfather, Noel, was a second father to her; her real father leaving Susan before Ophelia could even talk. Noel always made sure to be there for every recital and talent show she did, and always called when he was away as a journalist for a magazine. She had her best friends Stacy, Lucy, Carmen and Cleo; Stacy being the loud one of the group who wanted to be a comedian like Ellen Degeneres, Lucy the shy one who wanted to be a photographer for National Geographic, Carmen the musical one that almost sang in every conversation who wanted to be a singer just like her idol Mary J. Blige, and then Cleo the bookworm who wanted to be the next J.K. Rowling and write her own fantasy series. They all had boyfriends. Carmen had Marcus, the aspiring football player, Lucy had Nicholas, the naturalist and environmental dude, Cleo had Jackson, the soccer guy a la David Beckham, and Stacy had William, the serious but humorous chess player who rode horses. They all met by chance in town and never in the field as the majority of others did, which in...

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Spring Fling – Wist’s Wake by Connie B. Dowell

Posted by on May 16, 2014 in Spring Fling, Writing | 0 comments

Spring Fling – Wist’s Wake by Connie B. Dowell

I peered into the miniature coffin. Though it lay in jagged shards, I could still admire the beauty of the lines. A genuine Moira Wist vase from her green period. Even for a ceramics dealer, it was the sort of thing you’d see once in a lifetime. John’s shoulder brushed against mine. Our champagne flutes clinked. “To the Wist.” “To the Wist,” I mumbled back. Weird as the occasion was, to his credit, John had taken the whole thing very well. Indeed, my overall impression of John so far was politeness incarnate. I’d have thought the whole party was a trick if not for the honesty in John’s eyes. John pulled me into a hug, his face lit with a huge grin, then he stumbled off toward a group of guests hovering near the bookcase. On second thought, maybe it was the champagne that had taken it well. I moved toward the bookcase myself but avoided the crowd. John clearly loved collecting, and not just ceramics. Every spare inch of wall held a colorful painting, each in a different style or movement. Every nook held a new and strange object. I was admiring John’s other ceramics, none nearly as valuable as the Wist, when I noticed faces peering my way. I’d been identified at last. I loosened my tie. In a flash, a gray-haired woman with octagonal glasses stood inches from me. “I’m Eileen. I know who you are.” Her magnified eyes never left mine. I couldn’t read her tone. Angry? Curious? “You don’t need to worry with me.” She dropped her voice to a whisper. “I know what really happened.” I blinked. “The appraisal table broke. It was faulty. It…” I flinched at the memory of the vase shattering and John, Mr. Nice Guy, patting me on the back before a swarm of official show folks surrounded him, murmuring apologies and promises, cell phones pressed to their ears, dozens of lawyers on the line. I had just told John—on camera, no less—how priceless the darn thing was and… Eileen put a shushing finger to my lips. I backed away. “It was a put up job,” she said. “Those show people did it.” “Excuse me?” Eileen placed a hand on my shoulder. Why was she touching me? “Oh, not you, of course. The higher-ups. The people behind the scenes of behind the scenes. They knew John would sell that vase for lots of money, much more than the insurance company will pay. They never do pay what a thing is really worth.” I opened my mouth but decided the details of such a claim were extraneous to the conversation, at least for Eileen. Eileen nodded. To herself, I suppose. “They didn’t want him to have that money.” I drained my glass and some words bubbled up in a voice like metal scraping on porcelain. “Why would they do that?” “Oh, to keep his ideas quiet!” She was touching me again. “They don’t like John’s ideas. Money is power, you know.” “Mmm-hmm.” A rivulet of sweat trickled down my neck. I didn’t think I wanted to know what those ideas were. Nice as John had been, I should never have come here. A lunatic who didn’t understand freedom of the press in the 21st century was about to give me a lecture on alien abductions or maybe communism. Either way, time to go. I set my glass on the shelf and sidled toward the door. Eileen reached toward me. The tinkle of silverware on glass came to my rescue. All heads turned, even Eileen’s. John stood on a footstool. “I’d...

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Spring Fling: Strings and Shadows by Jamie Adams

Posted by on May 9, 2014 in Spring Fling, Writing | 1 comment

Spring Fling: Strings and Shadows by Jamie Adams

Rain is pounding down and a Bach sonata thunders through my headphones as I dash from the taxi up the marble steps and into the pristine blue and gold lobby. The doorman stares down his nose at me and I smooth my hair, attempting to look marginally less bedraggled as I set my violin and bag on the ground and shake the water off my coat. “Miss Marsh?” A tall, balding man in a crisp collar that appears to be choking the life out of him rushes to me. “You’re very, very late. The others have gone on to the concert hall already.” “I know. Plane troubles. Did they leave any instructions?” I try to look more sophisticated than I feel. It’s not as though I’ve never been late to a rehearsal before. I’ve just never been late to a rehearsal of this magnitude before. “You’re to head to the hall at once. We will see that your bags are delivered to your room.” He’s already rushing away, waving a bellhop over as he charges toward to front desk. “And enjoy your stay here at Avaline Ward Hotel.” I grab my violin and step back out into the rain, stomach growling. I’ve been on the go since four this morning and I’m starting to wonder if part of being a professional musician is developing the ability to exist on air and water alone. But I’m seventeen. I’m still a growing girl, and I’m pretty sure growing people are supposed to eat frequently. That’s what my stomach says, anyways. Apparently there isn’t a single taxi in the universe right now, so I run the mile to the hall in the pouring rain. My flats, already wet, become so waterlogged there are puddles inside them, and strands of my hair stick to my forehead and cheeks. The buildings around me rise in brick and mortar grace, unmarred by the water pouring over them, as I struggle past. When I at last reach the corner of Howard and Vine, the Charleston Performing Arts Center blossoms out of the ground across the road, a glass and steel monolith that somehow still blends in to the age and grace around it. Everything here is dignified and refined except for me. My stomach rumbles again and my grip on my violin is wet and slippery. Suddenly the rain stops. An umbrella has appeared over my head, the long fingers of an adept musician wrapped around the handle. “Can I help you find something?” I turn and lock eyes with a boy almost exactly my height. He has a shock of blond hair sticking straight up and a mouth that lists just slightly to the left. “I’m just headed to the Arts Center. Rehearsal,” I say, swinging my violin. His left-tilted mouth stretches into a smile. “A musician. That’s pretty sweet. I’m actually headed over there too, let me walk you over.” I don’t know if this is a South Carolina thing, or a gentleman thing, or just a decent human being, but it feels so good to be out of the rain I don’t even question it. “Are you a musician too?” I ask as we wait for the light to change. He laughs. “No, not at all. I clean the building. Slightly less glamorous.” “I clean too.” I hoist my violin into my arms, tired of trying to keep my grip tight. “I work for a maid company. So, you don’t have to tell me about not glamorous.” “Hey, I clean public toilets and all that entails. Including the men’s toilets. No way can...

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Spring Fling: Relative Proximity by Michelle Ceasar Davis

Posted by on May 2, 2014 in Reading, Spring Fling | 0 comments

Spring Fling: Relative Proximity by Michelle Ceasar Davis

  It’s time for another writer and illustrator showcase on Pen and Muse. This season’s theme is Spring Fling – making powerful connections with another soul, and as quickly as they appear, the person is gone.    Relative Proximity by Michelle Ceasar Davis   Dr. Lawrence glanced around the History department student lounge before entering. All ten students in attendance, he took his preferred seat next to the window. He let the students talk amongst themselves so he could finish the last few sips of his warmed coffee. When he set his empty travel mug on the end table next to him, the room became quiet. “We’ve discussed several broad ideas for your senior papers the last two weeks. Has anyone decided what you will write about?” Danielle waved her hand wildly and he nodded to her. “I have the most fantastic idea. I’m going to write about the failure of the Equal Rights Amendment in 1972.” Dr. Lawrence folded in hands across his chest. “Interesting topic. Any particular reason why?” “I want to show how an amendment from 1972 never got ratified by 1979 because of falsehoods and poor logic. And after I get my law degree, I plan to represent women in discrimination lawsuits.” “Admirable. Anyone else?” Greg cleared his throat and leaned forward. “I’m gonna write about Tulane University basketball and how the school ended the program before the NCAA could give them the death penalty.” “What’s that?” Danielle asked. “The NCAA was going to make an example of Tulane University. Instead, the school ended the program.” “Interesting,” Dr. Lawrence said. “Should make for an interesting read.” He looked around the room. One student looked jumpy for a Wednesday afternoon. “Alyssa, do you have something to say?” She ran a hand through her short hair. “I’ve been thinking about a subject for weeks and reading different books and articles but I don’t think I’m any closer to finding something that really excites me.” “That’s why we meet every week for the first month. Maybe as a group we can help you find your true topic.” “Okay. I know I want to do a historical overview of a religious movement, but I’m torn between the witch trials of Salem and the Fox sisters and the spiritualism of Lily Dale in upstate New York.” “You’re crazy,” Greg said. Danielle shook her head. “No, she’s nuts. No one wants to read about either of those.” “Those topics are so difficult to contain to a 25-page paper,” Dr. Lawrence said. “And no one will come to your presentation when it’s time to do your reading.” “We support each other here, not tear each other down. Alyssa, I don’t think you can do a comprehensive paper on either of those. People have written books, indeed volumes of books, on each of those subjects.” Alyssa rubbed her eyes, not worrying about the mascara she smeared. “But I want to write about one of those. What if I examined one day during the witch trials? Or maybe the punishments they exacted?” “One word,” Danielle said. “Hanging.” Dr. Lawrence raised an eyebrow in Danielle’s direction and she sat back in her chair. “The subjects are too complex. Find something more focused.” “What would you recommend?” Alyssa asked. “I can’t think of anything other than tighten up your topic. There must be something else out there that interests you.” She threw her head back against the chair. “I don’t know. I’ll take a pass for right now and let everyone else have their say.” At the end of class, Alyssa went downstairs to the coffee...

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