Mr. Chris Murphy
cover photograph by Heather Banak
looking out my window, I see even the stars have lost their luster, sinking into the bluest hour. Reaching through the glass, the lightning only eradicates the closest darkness, but reveals my counterself.
once, everything was beautiful
in the arboured bedroom I awoke, the English patient viewing the greatest distances with eyes that have tried to see everything except what was temporary and human.
he speaks in fragments about oasis towns.
“These were water people. One tribe dyed a whole valley floor, blackening it to increase convection and thereby the possibility of rainfall, and built high structures to pierce the belly of a cloud. Even today caravans look like rivers.”
I read from dry porous pages; the crack of sound if a book is opened too fast. As if breaking some minute unseen series of bones.
“Non omnis moriar”
“If only there was water with no rock”.
“Cavete autem ab aquis tacita.”
“If there was rock and also water.”
“Perfectus vetari, excepto eo quod in salutis eterne.
between bouts of delirium he listens intently.
his bandaged hand clutches mine.
“It used to be different” his shadow whispers fervently as it falls back against his empty bed. “Knuckles weren't calloused from doubt and palms clenched in fear that heaven isn't a place-it is a feeling.”
I lay his hand down on the coarse linen sheet. An attempted semblance of reassurance. But there are spaces between words that are almost infinite when medicine is the sickness.
a smile curves his charred lips at my silence. “It seems that even our skeletons need melting and reshaping. Maybe that’s why bones are made of tinder.”
grey eyes climb up, beyond the plaster, into that ocean above the roof. He turns his head slowly, rejoining my gaze.
“It’s a complicated anger to be jealous of your own skin.”
The Fragile Arc Part 1
The Layers Unseen
The Layers Unseen
letter from the editors
Enigma isn’t just a literary magazine, but a place for people to discover that they are not alone. That others their age are currently experiencing what they are, and that people may see the world in a similar light. Whether it be through poetry or photos, short stories or self-portraits, this literature magazine helps connect the school by way of the arts, whether the reader is a freshman, senior, or staff member.
The Summer edition of Enigma is the second edition of the year and we can attest that putting out two issues is no simple task. This issue’s uniqueness can be seen through its content, from containing short stories to the majority of the artwork being photography. This edition gives one final “huzzah” for the seniors, featuring many talented students transitioning into a newer stage of their lives, whilst also including newer writers who are about to be published for the first time.
It’s been a long journey to thirty-two pages exhibiting the arts of the school, and we can’t wait for it to continue into the next year, from introducing new writers, new artists, and getting to know new club members as time carries on. We enjoy showcasing the creativity of Holliston High School and hope everyone enjoys it just as much as we do.
From our staff to you, Enigma’s 2016 Summer Edition
If I showed my tear drops,
Would you collect them like rain.
Store them in jars,
That are labeled with “Pain”
Would you follow their tracks,
From eyes to my cheeks,
As they write all their stories,
I’m too scared to speak.
Would you stop them with kisses,
Bring their flow to a halt,
As you teach that pain, Isn’t always my fault.
Maria Jessup McDermott
The house is quiet
But not silent
There is the clicking
Of a keyboard
The hum of the refrigerator
The dull roar
Of a furnace
A car rumbles past
Its yellow light
Filters through the blinds
The house is not silent
But without the snores
Loud enough to be heard
From across the hall
It is empty
II. The Place Where I Wait
again his gaze wanders off the edge of the world, to places I have never known. I don’t know
what they are called, those spaces between seconds, but he thinks of her always within those
“You are in love. What does love look like?”
“Like everything I have ever lost
come back to me...
Love looked like her.”
“I met her in the deserts of Africa. A painter. Yes, there was magic, even there, in loneliness, in
firmaments of sand and stars, in permanent winds that live only in the present tense. That night I fell in love with a voice. Only a voice. I wanted to hear nothing more.”
-Are you an artist?
-You have aquamarine on your neck
“I smiled. I had spent so long calling it blue.”
“I can picture her” he continues softly, “as if her silhouette is still leaning against the balcony, face towards the Sahara. Her passion for the desert was temporary. She’d come to love its sternness because of me, wanting to understand my comfort and solitude.
She was always happier in rain, in bathrooms steaming in liquid air, among gardens.
But I was of the desert people, and had long ago learned the fury of water”
“I can still picture her, standing there in the emptiness, holding the universe together...”
a quiet whisper falls from his lips, like wind gliding through stilted doorways. But it is only a voice.
The Fragile Arc Part 2
THe Place Where I WEnt
Beauty hides deep
living in cavernous bodies
of black oozing needles
striking from the sun
scares breath away
Soft brush of warmth
faint buzz of moonbeams
bright midnight breeze
Lush purple petals
wings dipped toward the sky
timid life opens
Stars fall in a rain
to the rhythm of dark
Night folds back
flowers turned to weeds
beauty hides deep.
No longer would I be of wealthy means.No, I’d be the one that destroyed what my family built from the ground up, as immigrants, in a foreign and harsh new environment. For the first time since my mother’s death I thought I might cry, or possibly even throw up, although both struck me as highly probable. Since the horrible moment of the crash, I’ve been locked away in my once elegant office, now filled with a tangible smell that is only released when I decide that I can no longer handle the stench any longer and crack open the two windows that occupy one of my office’s walls. Only then is the stale air replaced with the street air that is so heavy with sorrow, that I feel as if I am choking on it, my lungs caving in on each other as my world turns into a heavenly and peaceful black. The few hours after realizing the position my bank was in, I spent my time spifflicated, unsuccessful in my attempt to drown myself out of the anarchy that had become this nation in just few short hours. Avoiding both my employees and my clients, attempting to prolong the inevitable for as long as father time would permit me. Wishing for the time when people’s biggest problems were gatecrashers and finding illegal alcohol, while simultaneously hoping that for some reason a man with a gun would come and end my misery. I could practically hear my father’s belly laugh mocking me in his higher-than-thou way from his burnt ashes sitting on a precarious window sill that was being far too faithful to its previous owner.
Slowly rising from my old leather chair, that begged for me to hide in it for the rest of my horrible life, I gulped one last large breath of rancid air, feeling it burn into the deepest part of my lungs. Slowly exhaling I managed to maneuver myself until I was standing in front of my office’s doors. As I reached for the door handle, the cool metal soothed my clammy hand, allowing me to open the door and enter into the mournful world.
Ashes By the WindoW
It was as if the entire city had turned into a ghost town for a split second that seemed to last for years. The wave of adrenaline from the realization that the economy had been broken into a thousand fragile egg shells in just one day, finally coming to an end. That Wall Street air that used to be ossified with wealth and power, now rancid and sour. What once was the definition of wealth, became infamous in a mere second. Streets that were once filled with the deafening noise of purposeful footsteps from career oriented men and their wives, became the venue of a nation wide funeral procession. Then all of a sudden, as if choreographed before hand, the streets began to clog with what seemed to be everyone in the entire world, sprinting towards their banks. One man with copacetic reflexes was able to run through the small crack of the large, spiffy doors being pushed closed by the stronger of the men that work in this particular bank. Though the man was repeatedly told to leave, he was insistent on obtaining his money. Sadly the time had passed for seeing if what the papers told were true, because even though the crash had just transpired, the inevitable end of our bank and over half the nation’s bank seemed as close and clear as tomorrow. Yet at the same time tomorrow could not come soon enough. It seemed as though the economy was already as dependent on the stock market as the South once was on slavery.
A bank teller told the man in a stony manner that we could not give him his money at this precise moment. Yet even from behind my closed office doors I could hear the hesitation in his voice, the part of him that wanted to warn the man of the future, of the fact that we might never be capable of giving him his money. Of the fact that after years of hard times, I might be the last son in charge of our family bank.
photo by Flannery Langton
We used wooden barrels, which still reeked of wine. The participants were chosen somewhat randomly. All we did was walk the streets, picking them out like prized cattle. There were four of them, and only two barrels. The first three (a young girl, a teenage boy, and a mother) were all snugly fit into the first barrel. It wasn’t a pretty sight, but it had to be done, for the second barrel contained the fourth participant: a white duck. It could have been a chicken to be honest. We weren’t the most observant bunch back then. Regardless, we rolled the barrels from the western shore into the lapping waves of the cyan sea. All of us stood: admiring those two barrels as they drifted further and further into the great beyond. We lost sight of them within the next couple of hours. We thought that was it. We thought it was over; that they had fallen off the edge. We went back home and shut down the entire operation. We had failed, soiling the very meaning of a word we were yet to discover: scientist. My mother changed her last name. Several months went by, and to our surprise, we found the second barrel rolling back and forth on the damp sand of the eastern shore. You could smell the rotting duck, or the chicken, or whatever it was, from a great distance. However, my condolences go out to the other three. They must have felt pretty bad about wasting a perfectly good barrel.
“Where do you go?”
“What do you mean? I remain here, in this four walled muralled room, incapable of movement.”
“You can't walk the lines, but you follow the echoes...where do they take you?”
“Someplace you can always get to from here.”
“Give me a pencil and I will draw you a room in South Cairo, tidal charts on the walls. Give me
a map and I will build you a city.”
The fragile arc part 3
The things left behind
how we discovered the earth was round
heart- shaped sunglasses
made of plain plastic
cheap from a dollar store
too small for my growing head
of a hazy childhood
pink stained glass
worn to a halloween party
they make my mother laugh
they are cracked on the frame
and blindingly neon
darkening my sight
hiding my curious eyes
at five and a half
in heart-shaped sunglasses
I was feeling cooler
in attempt to entertain
the possibilities of tragedy
and glory, depressed jesters
prance and pawn at deceased
dreams, laid to rest with the
incoherent digestion of thick
words, bold and distasteful
as the pills a child takes to function,
spit from the teeth of boredom
with sneering pride and impostery.
entering the public space
each hysterical, waking moment,
the fishhooks of success based
on presentation pry open
a locked smile, fiending
false radiation, the intoxication
of the fragile lining of glass lungs,
glowing and smoldering
as the embers of the jester’s
joy disappears into the smoke
from a fire, lit under his ass
to keep others’ hands warm
while he is left choking on
smoke risen from his own clothes.
though the sun’s swelling flare
reflects as a burning desire for
success in blind eyes, the midsummer
heat draws from the jester
a last drop of dehydrated happiness,
exhausted from sealing pores
as the cell he is trapped in
emits subtle, visual heat waves,
accounting for his life’s work
and unnoticed as his red, stained
drapings, pooling with thick
blood as his last gift of wine
to a merciless, drunken world.
Do not fear those who are different
Those of a faith Misconceived as terrorism
A faith of peace and tolerance A faith as common as brown eyes
A faith similar to your own
A faith only known for their radicalists For I fear those who are the same.
Constructing a supremacist society
Roping people further into the hatred
Off of a misunderstanding I fear those who believe
That there are limitations to freedom
Limitations to the land of the free and equal
Rules of who is allowed a chance
I fear those only capable of seeing the worst
Categorizing one religion with extremists I fear those who cannot see
Pass the blindness of their misconceptions
I fear those who do not know
The impact of that fear
Longing for the sobriety of society
The dawn of awareness The day people can walk in the street
Without the fear of being accused Accused of hating their own country
The Phobia of
In the back of the library are four tables. Green tops with fake wood wrapped around the edges to give the look “personality.” At the first table sits the jocks waiting for whatever season’s sport to start. Walking by the table I can feel their entitlement, it makes the air thick. Then there’s the overpowering lavender, that comes from the girls that sit at the second table, trying to avoid looking at the boys. I try not to judge them, I want to be above that, but that horrific smell has a permanent place in my heart synonymous with the flowers that used to grow outside the house of an ex friend.
But back to those tables, I sit at the fourth one, the farthest from the smells and mid-calf socks. So I sit down, as I have for the past one-hundred and thirty-seven days of my sophomore year, headphones shoved into my ears to block out the talking, and a book in hand. To Kill A Mockingbird. I’ve read it a thousand times, but this time I just bury my face in it for the sake of staying hidden.
I’m watching this girl, across the room in the center of the history section. I suddenly become aware that my mouth has fallen open, just enough for a fly to venture inside, and my book has fallen below chin level. The girl looks up at me and we mistakenly lock eyes. Shoot. She then smiles, a real, genuine, big-toothy smile.
She pushes her enormous glasses back up on the bridge of her nose then ducks down behind the protection of the bookcase and I go back to pretending to read my book as knots of embarrassment rattle in my stomach.
A thud shakes the table.
It’s the girl. Great, this is what staring gets you. I try my best not to groan. Placing her hands on a stack of history books, she smiles again. On top of the pile sits an incredibly worn copy of A Game of Thrones.
Then she starts talking.
Hello? Can’t you tell that I didn’t mean to stare and am actually brought into great discomfort when people start talking to me?
I slowly pull out one earbud, then notice that the library has fallen unrecognizably silent, besides of course the girl’s voice.
Even the jocks have stopped talking.
“So what’s your name?” She asks excitedly. I stare at for a second in disbelief.
“Um… Gwen,” I stutter. Taking a deep breath, the girl then starts talking about anything and everything.
“My cat… Harry Potter… Christmas.” It seems as though she spilled her entire life story to me in under a minute.
I look down at my watch as if I have somewhere to be. Escape! Must escape!
The girl keeps talking, not even noticing that I have packed up my things and stood up.
At her next breath, I jump in, “Sorry to interrupt, but I have to get home… now.”
“Oh that’s fine! It was nice talking to you though!” she says reaching out to grab my hand. I jump at the sudden touch. She whips a pen out of the bun on top of her head and scrawls a bunch of numbers and a name onto the back of my hand. I fake a smile as I walk away, leaving her still smiling and standing by table number four.
Looking down at my hand I read Jillian Harper and ten numbers in the classic phone number order.
I might just give this Jillian a call.
Life granted me a victory
the day I was born
the first child in my family.
It's not that I'm favored
(although it's true
I'm the angel,
and each new day
is an experiment in limits
for unsuspecting parents).
No, rather it's a lack
of the terrible burden
that is hand-me-down clothes.
First means first
Means brand new
There was an older cousin once
a potential usurper
but the two years
she had on me
compared to the three inches
I gained on her.
So each season I'm older
it goes like the saying
out with the old
in with the new,
as the mountain
grows taller still
in my sister's closet.
the fragile arc part 4
the day you read this
that night the stars had been pulverized and the earth was covered in their dust. As his
fever increases, so too do his delusions. I know he cannot hear me. But I talk to him anyway, try to soothe the pains that jump from shoulder blade to shoulder blade, like a spark leaping a gap. The way light and darkness mix under his skin has become a storm. I don’t see the lightning, but I hear the echoes.
he has awoken from his altered state but once, to tell me to untie myself from a corpse,
that I have thrown myself out of the world to love a ghost.
but we have all pretended to go mad in order to tell ourselves the things we need to.
He doesn’t understand that this is the way to come out of a war. A burned man to care for, some sheets to wash in a fountain, a room painted like a garden.
below tissue and tendon there lies us, living in such qualities of anonymity.
because we are all scared to say the things worth saying.
photo by Heather Banak
My bones seem to rust
I understand now
why candles burn
after they're lit
by a man, thinking
back to Sunday mornings
on bar stools in the kitchen
fluffy pancakes and whipped cream
a red apron, the deep blue of the stove's flame
with hints of orange.
forks clink on round white plates
the radio sings of catastrophe
and the man
standing in a dark room
with a wooden match
tries to forget.
By Heather Banak
of Meghan Cox
Today I am green, because I want to be.
Today I am grumbling stomachs and spinning circles over dirt
I am all of the things that haunt me
and shaking, crying, screaming
Itching eyes and tumbleweed fur
I am windows down and Santana and Fenway
my father’s daughter, for better or worse
I am the fifth grade chorus concert, kicking
Justin in the shins because I pride myself in
following through with threats
I am nothing in moderation
I am the glass through Jenny’s foot because it’s hard
to protect anyone when you’re looking out for everyone
I am a burnt grilled cheese, salt when you wanted sugar
I am a turtle necklace lost in the grass, my grandfather’s ring
buried without him
I am a sister, blood or other
i purge life today
By Samantha Tate
Through a general escape
I purged life today
drenched it down
in the opaque dark swamp
old copious minutes relying on these lids
just to use these two blue sweltering eyes
pressed mouth to hole out each lip
fragile to the crevices of my tender
broken black glasses
In those strange years of hippiedom
who devoured in power that was faint like wallpaper
this is the same day we baked a hard fruit cake
after dropping the hairdryer in the pink soapy bathtub
Don't ever make fun of the younger numbers
for they wear the rouge and bare truths
all the way down to the jelly jam
slide all the way down, across to summer camp
held on by the whimsical weekends
When I was at a mess I smiled naked
gloating in my own and I smiled high
at the spaghetti dinner floor
it's always quite alright, she was an old bee
I grab the overbaked sunscreen to cover another temperature
Will the elderly prevail under the newly born grass slicks?
yes I mean 50 years after snowboarding in the backyard
those bruises are merely foggy ecstasies
to these huddled bullet holes under my chin
No one notices
the ever present feeling of death.
They all push it away.
No one notices
the dark brown hair,
sitting in the corner,
crying into her tiny dirt covered hands.
No one notices the blood dripping
down her dress,
or her feet caked in mud.
No one notices that her father,
No one notices that
the killers are sitting
all around her.
People she thought she knew,
people she knew she didn't.
And no one notices
that the Earth shattering moment
in her life
The Girl Written By: Meghan Lotti
How To Kill
Find your victim and learn everything about them
Follow them everywhere and anywhere they go
Where they live, what they drive, where they go to eat
Learn about who they hang out with, where they work
Never get caught, this is not the right time to be seen
If they see you turn around and walk the other way
Slowly get closer and closer to them
Knock their coffee out of their hand by accident
Help them clean it up, or pretend you're a sales rep
Do whatever you need to do to get a closer look
Only do this once, if you're seen too many times it'll be weird
This is your time, you've learned all you needed to learn
Now find a place to meet them, somewhere quiet
Not too quiet, make sure whatever you're going to use is ready
Trap them in the corner, stand over them and say the words
Say the words that will scare them and make them beg
Then walk away from them for forever
Because words said are enough to kill
Ocean nails and matching eyelashes, she is older than the rest;
As old as the sun, yet
an eggshell in front of others.
Standing in red shoes
Reflecting the face, plagued with
Darting eyes and sweat under shirt.
She is an ocean breeze of racing breath
Bouncing into the microphone with a cough,
Following the responsive silence of the audience.
Crystal numbers pound
slippery, carbuncle skin.
Eyelid to eyelid like lions,
warlocks swim amongst the cotton
and wash up half broken.
vomiting flavorless drinks.
Prepared like wreathes,
royal beggars wait patiently.
Holler the name.
Call he misses.
For it goes on in actual years.
6 Mirrors In My Bedroom
I see myself in monochromatic
and I own a few faces
I see myself in the wet paint
rich, like the ribbons strewn
I see myself in the faint train bell
heard from the East wall
I see myself in the smells
of paper and Polyurethane
I see myself in wood
the kind that bleeds knots
I see myself the berries and fruit
like the beads in my boxes
I see myself in batman
with the big ears, black and blue
I see myself in women and emotions
but never in communication
I see myself through my mind games
but always tripping around
I see myself in creative guessing
to fit in with an invisible disorder
At least I can see myself
in all color
There’s this bird living
in the flower basket
attached to my front door,
so we don’t use that door.
Instead, we use the garage door,
or the side door, or the door
out back, mainly because her hatchlings
are only a few weeks old and we’re afraid
if we scare her off, she’ll never return,
and we’re not murderers, so we don’t want that on our conscience.
I can often hear her singing
early in the morning.
Sometimes I think her songs
are about me.
Sometimes I think her songs
are about everyone else.
Sometimes I think her songs
are one and the same.
And that absolutely terrifies me.
someone play me a lullaby before I sleep– when the spiderman comes to wrap me in silk and drag me down. my hair is soft and my eyes black. glossy and dull like the lead of this pencil. veins are cold and crack, rippling my skin as they drain into silver, chrome pipes. I sway in circles, moving to the heart beating my ribs into feathers. feeble hands scratch at empty concrete. chewed up nails crusted with blood. you may touch, but do not hold.
seventeen and three months
birds know best
the fragile arc part 5
“It’s very beautiful over there”.
I don’t know where there is, but I believe it’s somewhere, and I hope it’s beautiful.