an OUC Fishbowl Publication - 2018-2019
Windows Beyond Shattered Synapses
an Ohio University Chillicothe Fishbowl Publication
Copyright © 2019 by the OUC Writing Center
Ohio University Chillicothe
101 University Drive
Chillicothe, Ohio 45601
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any form, electronic or mechanical, without permission in writing from the publisher, Ohio University Chillicothe, except by a reviewer, who may quote brief passages in a review.
Glass Enclosures samples the best of Ohio University Chillicothe's student and alumni writing. Compiled and edited by the Writing Center, also known as The Fishbowl, this volume is dedicated to the hundreds of potential student writers who can be seen through the conspicuous glass windows of the Stevenson building. Your stories, your words matter.
Lead Editor & Design
Putting together a publication such as Glass Enclosures takes a great deal of collaboration, energy, persistence, creativity, and devotion. We at the OUC Writing Center want to extend our sincere appreciation to the English faculty who consistently support and encourage student writing year long. We also want to express our continued gratitude to the Dean's offices for the generous financial support of this project and its launch.
Sarah V. Uhrig
Table of Contents
Before and After by Brea Michelle 7
10 Signs You're Cursed
& How to Break it for Cheap by Shea Daniels 9
Morning by Jarod Dove 12
Heavy Blue by Gina Gidaro 13
Drifting Machines by Sarah V. Uhrig 16
Twilight on the Prairie by B. Layne Weaver 17
One Bottle in the Sea by Jennifer Woods 22
Tolling by Jennifer Woods 23
Company in Coffee Shops by Christianna Hines 28
A Walk with a Friend by Sydney Wayne Newsome 32
When the Darkness Appears by Madison Stant 36
Coming of Age by Seth Turner 38
Reflection on Fear by Jennifer Woods 43
Untitled by Megan Downing 64
Untitled by E. Paige Foraker 64
Windmill by Gina Gidaro 64
The Traveling Man by Gina Gidaro 64
Light the Way by Gina Gidaro 64
Untitled by Cassandre Jaspard 64
Tordus du Cerveau by Sarah V. Uhrig 64
by Gina Gidaro 49
A Mind of Innumerable Colors by Sierra L. Adams 45
Finding Hope, Even Here by Sierra L. Adams 47
Monotony by Sarah C. Cook 48
Numb by E. Paige Foraker 49
Second Self by Gina Gidaro 50
Still Lungs by Gina Gidaro 51
The Idle Passing of Time by Gina Gidaro 52
Ugly Miracles by Gina Gidaro 53
Spring Break by Christianna Hines 54
Mosaics from Broken Pieces by Sabrina Pirtle 55
Let's Go to Back Then by Travis Ray 56
[Something really strange...] by Erica Turner 57
Splattered Kaleidoscope by Sarah V. Uhrig 58
The Workings of a Factory by Sarah V. Uhrig 59
Frozen Travels by Sarah V. Uhrig 60
A Heart Read by Jennifer Woods 61
He Will Rise Again by Jennifer Woods 62
Same World, Different Earths by Jennifer Woods 63
TAS 4440: Class Haikus 64
Before and After
The things you carry are essential. A pocketknife, a sleeping bag, a pack of matches, flint, two cans of peaches, a pair of mittens, three pairs of dry socks, two pairs of clean underwear, a single tampon, an old flask, an extra pair of laces for your boots, a small pot, a handgun with ammo, and a single photograph of a man – smiling and laughing at something out of focus. This is not essential, so you smash it to the bottom of your backpack, throw the peaches on top of it, and pretend that it is not there.
Yesterday, you found a can of soup with an expiration date of two years ago. At least, you think it was two years ago. Maybe it was three, maybe four. Does anyone know anymore? You cook your soup with your pot over an open fire you started with your flint. You’ve gotten crafty. Back Before, you used to burn water. The soup tastes like iron. Maybe this is how you’ll die. By a can of expired soup. It makes you laugh, and soon you’re laughing so hard you’re crying, and soon you’re sobbing into your can of expired soup, your mouth tasting of metal and sawdust.
Here’s to you, kid.
You sift your life into Before and After. Before, when you were managing your way to survival with medication, you were a vegetarian, and two weeks from college graduation. You are not sure how long ago this was. Three years. Maybe four. It is hard to keep track of time now. You used to keep a tally list of days, tracking them over time. Then, you just stopped caring. One day bled into the next, and some days, you’d just sleep on through them. So, you stopped counting. You measure your days in the amount of dirt upon your skin and the growing hunger in your stomach. Three days, manageable. Six days have gone by, at least, when the hunger is gnawing away at you so harshly that your stomach feels like it is filled with bricks and air. You have grown accustomed to this, so you ignore it, and bust your ass to walk a little further, a little longer, a little faster until you find food and you eat. You have your peaches, but you keep these, you hide these, until you’re desperate to die, you finally eat them. You use them as the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. You will lug them around until the day that you finally kill over, and then you will stuff yourself to burst.
The photograph. It is wrinkled from being smashed, and this is one of the reasons you keep the peaches, to hold its weight to the bottom instead of in your chest. It is also wrinkled from your fingers, and your desperate grab on nights when everything seems to come in a little too close. It is not essential. No. But sometimes it feels like survival, and survival, as you have learned, is something you have to work for.
So you keep his face, his words, close. “See you again soon, miss you, hope you’re having a good time. Love always,” scrawled upon the back in messy handwriting. His love is tucked into your pack, into your hands and it is what keeps you going. You have learned that now, something you did not know Before.
It is the people who keep you going. The people, and your love for them and their love for you. You are a robot of a body, struggling and fighting, and they are the ones who continue to replace your batteries, because you wish they would have died out a long time ago. Survival is
a person. It is not you, because you no longer feel like a person, if you ever were one to begin with.
You trap with sticks and you learned to gut with your knife. Tonight, it’s rabbit. You cook it and tear into it with ferocity. It’s fatty and warm, and you would moan if you had the emotion left to do so. Before, you used to be a vegetarian. You wouldn’t even eat eggs. You cried if you stepped on a bug. What would your younger self say to your older one? Would they be proud of what you’ve done to survive? Or would they spite you for the person you have become? Sure, you were a shell of a person before, but now you are something a little stronger, perhaps. Anyway, you keep on surviving and pushing, and you try to count that as something.
You like to keep track of what you’re doing and give yourself points. That’s a point for the fire, a point for the food, maybe you should take away a point for killing, but add a point for learning how to gut. One more point for learning how to trap. That’s four points. Four points toward survival, four points towards another day.
You do not know what you are going towards. Only that you’ll know when you get to it. You do not know where you are, but it is hot. The ground is dry, but everywhere is dry. The back of your neck burns and you wish for sunglasses, for a bit of shade. You chew on a bit of rabbit, the fat to try and keep your mind busy, but it runs anyway, it always runs. You find yourself thinking about what you’re doing, and who you are. Who you want to be. Does that even matter anymore? It’s a funny concept. You used to want to be a police officer. Maybe, dead on some of your more bad days. You’re no longer sure if you want to be dead anymore. It would be easier. But you feel like you have a mission now. Get to where you’re going.
You don’t know where that is, but does anybody? Does anybody know exactly where they are going? You only know what you are running from. You allow yourself to take the photo from your back, from below the can of peaches. You allow your finger to touch his face, the smile, his love upon the back. You imprint it upon your mind, and then, you allow it to slip past your fingers, and drift onto the dusty ground. You don’t take a second look, you don’t even glance behind you.
You don’t think you’ll need it – where you’re going.
10 Signs You're Cursed & How to Break it for Cheap
Bane found Rowan across from the candy shop on Water Street brandishing a conceal carry license and a fifth of whisky. “I’m going to amputate my arm and send it to her,” said Rowan. “I’m going to buy another fucking 8 ball and send that bitch my arm in the mail.” Streetlamps flickered overhead, some the warm yellow of artificial candlelight, others harsh and white. The Yoctangee smelled stagnant. Further downhill, past the fields of nodding onions, agrimony and everlasting, was the Scioto.
Bane pinched the skin between his thumb and forefinger. He tugged at the webbing, then looked up. “Are you getting in the car?” he asked. “It’s something like midnight. Let’s go home alre--”
“Do you think they make boxes big enough to send it in the mail?” Rowan asked. He looked about like the moon, his silhouette monochromatic against the rise and the fall of headlights, refracting their light and unable to make his own.
“Get in the car, Rowan,” Bane replied.
“Maybe I should egg her car, too,” said Rowan. “Steal some eggs from the Valero and yolk up her Chevy.”
Rowan extended his arms, balancing on the levy. Laurel’s canvas shoes were caked with mud. Downhill, across the annex on the main stage, a man dressed as a T-rex sung distorted Johnny Cash songs. A bottle of catsup played the drums half a beat behind.
“We could hold this entire valley in our hands from here,” Rowan said, hollering as if to call down the day. Further downhill, closer to the Yoctangee, someone had mixed white chalk with water, painted a skeleton onto a black mare like a Shawnee war horse: like an echo: like a harbinger of death.
Rowan howled at the flowering moon. His shadow stretched long behind him, holding space against the encroaching night. He stepped into the intersection. A red Mazda veered left to avoid him. “I am fuck-ing GERONIMO!” he hollered, drawing an invisible bow and shooting it at a Toyota. The driver rolled up her window, avoiding his gaze.
This is the way men disintegrate. First there’s emptiness. Next there is the frantic attempt to fill it, late-night runs for marlboros or molly or sudafed, men collapsing and expanding at the same time, fighting to be and not to be erased from this earth.
A million years ago giants walked here, claim the old folks. Buried over at Shawnee Square, Rowan’s uncle told him, that’s why those shops always stay empty and the parking lot won’t stay evenly paved. Sun streamed through the easternmost windows, the ones overlooking Coperas Mountain, slatting the floorboards perpendicular and happenstance. As Rowan watched the sun glint off the mountain he could almost believe it. If he squinted hard enough and covered his ears he could almost transport himself away.
Walking through the living room, Rowan’s father grabbed him by the back of the neck. His soul was unfathomable. “You just want one thing to be another because it feels better,” he said, “because it’s more comfortable or more convenient, but no matter how much you squint out that fucking window, boy, you live here.”
Laurel had always been forested hillside, the first to photosynthesize any semblance of light, but Rowan was a holler, was the last place light entered and the first place it left. He fought against a sort of hopelessness that was circumstantial as much as heredity, sadness on his periphery like the hills around this valley—steadfast, seemingly impermeable but for glacial indifference.
“Things don’t always go the way they should,” Rowan said, by which he meant, things didn’t always go the way that seemed easiest. The cavern in his chest threatened to explode. Rowan grasped the steering wheel, concave and sobbing.
Rowan coaxed the fire sufficiently high before emptying the contents of the house into it, one armful at a time. The fire, burning as high as the top of the trailer, looked to engulf the hillside.
Laurel carried her things out to the car hastily. “I’m going now,” she said. She remembered Rowan younger then considered him now. It was something steadfast, like mourning. She weighed the costs of bitterness and misfortune and wondered how they might compound exponentially, usurping everything over which they had any power.
Laurel didn’t turn around as she shut her car door against the August dawn. Storm clouds had left the valley shrouded haggard and exquisite. Steam rose from the Scioto like a teakettle from a stove, possums making coffee the old timers called it. Laurel looked over the whole scene left to right, like by looking, she might unmake it. She maneuvered the car into gear and drove towards the valley below. Its fields, awash in ironweed, set the dawn.
Back in the trailer saltshakers rattled as the day’s first train came through, piled
high with clear-cut pine. Rowan propped his shotgun against the coffee table, took off his right sock, decided his toe fit the trigger, and swallowed the night.
X. Alternative Ending
There were no more things for him to break. In this ending he never learned to smoke meth from a lightbulb, or maybe he stopped, made it through post acute withdraw and stabilized enough to lead a healthy life. In this ending, nothing gives the look of shade despite the sun. Imagine him any way you’d like, so long as he survives.
Rowan’s mother aimed the hose higher, arcing the water to spray what she figured was the middle of the trailer’s roof. “He’s never here, Debbie,” she said into the wireless, “leaves me home alone with this punk-ass kid.” Rowan pushed his dump truck across the yard, filling it with gravel from the driveway. A preying mantis fell from the side of the trailer, rose towards the stream of water, landed graceful as an omen.
When I open my eyes and see you there, peaceful, beautifully asleep, I don’t want to disturb you, but at the same time I want you to wake up so I can spend time with you. Though I know I’ll just let you rest because I wouldn’t want to interrupt some fantastic dream or make you grumpy.
Knowing you’re here makes waking up one of my favorite things. I quietly make my way out of bed and start my own daily ritual, keeping a close ear out so I don’t miss you waking up. I’m motivated to do even the most mundane tasks because I want to get them out of the way so you won’t stress about the little things. I look forward to each day because it is something new, a new part of a grand story, a new step towards wondrous goals, a new opportunity for me to make life better for us.
My eyes constantly check the time, while yours stay hidden beneath your eyelids. I watch the time waiting for the right moment to wake you. I run through a million scenarios in my head on how to do it. I know I’ll just gently rock your shoulder and softly let you know the time, asking if you want to sleep longer or if maybe you’d like some breakfast. Either answer will be fine, because I like being your alarm clock. If you do want breakfast, I’ll try hard to get it right, because you obviously deserve the best.
Once you finally get out of bed, I know I’m going to be annoyingly attentive. I promise I’m working on that, but I’m just so excited to have you in my life it makes it hard not to just be around you. I’ll ask if you need anything, or my help getting ready, or for me to pack you a lunch. I just don’t want you to think I don’t care, which I know can get frustrating, especially when I’ve complimented you a thousand times already today and you’re just trying to put your make-up on – but I really do mean each word I say!
The time has come when I must leave, either to work or some obligation that I don’t appreciate because it takes me away from you. I gather my things and you meet me at the door. I say my goodbyes, extending my arms to give you a hug, because hugs are good for both of us. You lean in as if almost to kiss me bye, and then I open my eyes. The mid-afternoon sunlight illuminating the room, I stare up at the untextured, white, blank ceiling, knowing that I should just get out of bed, but I am not motivated. What’s the point? I mentally calculate just how long I can lay here before necessity forces me to start my day, dragging my empty husk through the same tired, lonely routine. I am alone and I hate waking up.
She woke with her arms spread wide on the cool forest floor, her body both tired and alive, like she had been running and then reborn. Her fingertips dug into the soft soil, leaves crunching beneath them and dirt finding its way under her nails. With heavy weighing eyes, she looked up at the stars.
Constellations sprawled out before her on a dark canvas. She attempted to reach up to trace one, only to find her body to be firmly stuck in the dirt like she was being slowly sucked in. With great effort, she freed herself, and with a stiff back, she skimmed her eyes across the landscape and was welcomed by the darkness of the forest and the clicking of its insects.
Her mind was a blank slate. She tried to remember things, but there was something blocking her from her memories … a wall, of some sort. So she walked. Where do you go when you have no destination? she wondered. She ventured lightly into the forest on bare feet, but it was impossible for her to feel lonely. Someone was watching her, following her. Several times, she would catch a shadow in the moonlight that wasn't hers, she would hear a crunch of leaves when she had taken a pause, a low howl when the darkness became too dense ...
She took her time through the forest, wandering aimlessly under the watchful gaze of the moon. There was a constant stillness, like the silence between ticks on a clock. It wasn't until she heard the low growl behind her that she stopped. She had expected this; wild animals live in wild forests. The coyote stood several feet away from her with matted light brown fur and tall pointed ears. It looked dirty and skinny and tired, but its lips curved around its narrow snout, fully prepared for a feast. She assumed there wasn't much of her to feed on. She was also dirty and skinny and tired.
Frozen in the creature's spell, she didn't move until it sprung toward her. She went as fast as her numb feet could carry her, swerving around trees, stepping on sticks and rocks that cut into her flesh and lifeless things that stuck to her now wet feet. Up ahead, a cliff presented itself. With a hasty glance back at the approaching creature, she knew her options were little to none. Jump or be jumped.
A waterfall. It was a waterfall.
The bottom of her foot curved along the edge of the rock and her toes squeezed together and for a second she wondered why she was alive, wandering aimlessly through a dark forest. It was the first time she recognized her own heartbeat. She fell down and down and down until she hit the water and then went down some more. The world went black and muffled. She cupped her hands and shoved water out of the way, searching
for oxygen. There was no way to tell which way was up or down, but then she remembered the moon, hanging proudly above and reflecting its light off the world . . . so she opened her eyes and followed the light. Fish ogled at her with curious eyes, wondering why she would want to leave their lovely water land. You have a place here, they seemed to say. Don't go, don't go.
But she went. She dragged herself out of the shimmering water and wondered again why she was alive, falling through the sky with birds and swimming with fish. Why are you alive when you don't know what you are living for? she wondered. Her fingertips dug into the wet sand as she relieved her lungs of water. The Lupus constellation blinked over her. The forest was quiet and still and waited for her.
She thought about trying to catch a fish for food but couldn't find it in her to crave it. It was her instinct to eat, wasn't it? She had a stomach. She was human, after all, wasn't she? When was the last time she ate? Or craved food? When was the last time she craved anything at all?
When she was ready, she picked herself up and resumed her journey through the forest. It awoke with her arrival. It sang to her, beautiful, terrifying melodies. It was a wild forest, she knew. With wild things living inside. She trudged on, skeptical of her journey and her purpose, lost and alone, in a murky and treacherous forest that hosted wild things.
There was still something following her.
The moon cast a heavy blue shadow in her wake. She followed it, and at last, when she turned to catch the mysterious culprit, she captured two blue orbs floating several feet away from her. They gazed at her with a curiosity she felt herself. Why are you following me? It didn't reply, nor had she expected it to. The forest seemed to stop in order to partake in the meeting of two creatures in the heavy blue shadow. The insects, birds, and fish all waited.
The blue orbs moved closer with a steady calmness supported by four large paws and a light gray coat of fur. Its broad snout pointed to the ground as it continued to stare at her. Without fear, she reached a hand out to the wolf, causing it to twitch its nose in interest. The moon continued to illuminate them in a heavy blue and the girl wondered, suddenly, if this was why she was alive. Then it was over when the rounded ears of the wolf flattened and it barred its sharp teeth. The girl stepped away, careful with her movements. The forest was active again, readily accepting the chaos, but she didn't. She was not prepared for it, nor did she understand why it was happening. With graceful deadliness, the wolf sprung and the girl, with an arm stretched out for protection, sunk to the ground.
She waited for the weight of death to land on her but it didn't. However, it was still there in that wild forest, and when she turned she found it in the
form of her gray wolf pinned dangerously underneath the coyote she thought she lost at the cliff . . .
The wolf was significantly larger than the coyote, but the coyote didn't fight fair. It used sneaky and cruel ways to gain the upper hand. It knew what it was doing. It had done it before. They had both been following her. She saw that now. The wolf must have been protecting her from the coyote, but it tricked them both into believing they had lost it at the cliff. They had been foolish, and now they would pay for their foolishness.
As much as she wanted to help the gray wolf, the ground around her began to sink, sucking her in. She clawed at leaves and dirt in a feeble attempt to prolong the inevitable, but as she witnessed the battle between the two creatures she realized then that the fatal mistake was her own. Not the forests, not the fishes or the birds or the coyotes or the wolves. Whatever her purpose was, she failed to achieve it. And now, the coyote was winning and the Earth demanded her back.
The forest watched helplessly and aided nothing. Vicious snarls from the two creatures echoed through the loud darkness as the girl became too tired to fight anymore. Her body became cold and she let the Earth swallow her whole. It welcomed her back. That was the paradox of it; it was a cold place, but it always welcomed you back.
She fell for a long time, or at least, she thought she was falling. It was hard to tell when she had no concept of up and down. The constellations whipped past her, and she watched their bodies made of stars live vividly through the night sky; the hunter, Orion, wielding his sword and shield; the vain queen, Cassiopeia, combing her hair upon her throne; her daughter, Andromeda, the chained woman; Apus, the bird of paradise, lacking feet; Lupus the wolf, being sacrificed by Centaurus to Ara; the Firebird, Phoenix, who continuously rebuilt itself from its own ashes.
Her landing was soft, like she was an infant being lightly placed in its crib. Her body clung to the Earth like a hug. Her fingers stretched and she felt the crunch of leaves. She took her time sitting up because she had learned that the forest waited for her. It was the ticking hand on the clock, but she was the mechanics behind the operation.
She felt her memories slipping, the wall being put back up. She couldn’t let her intuition slip along with it, so she stared up at the Lupus constellation until the heart of the wolf thumped along with hers. It was a damned forest and it was a damned world and she realized only when realizing was too late that when you hold a wolf by its ears the only way to keep it is to sacrifice yourself for it.
Her mind was a blank slate. She didn’t try to remember things. She stepped into the familiar stillness, the stars still lingering on her skin.
I’m not the brain eating type from the movies. My car keeps me safe from what my mind thinks is out there. People. People who hate zombies. Glass is scattered across pavement where humans ran out of resources and demanded more. I hear a slow scratch and break. Feet hitting pavement. I open the door wide enough to get a breath of fresh air. The shot is heard above my numbness. I slide forward into the exposure of the outside. My knees hit the gravel, but I can no longer feel the sting of shrapnel that enters my unbeating heart. I feel nothing – and nothing is gone and replaced with an empty memory of the end to infinity. Man, they were so close! The humans who search for me. If only they aimed a little up and to the right. Where sunshine reflects on the forehead – isn’t that the trained direction? I strain and see a bloody handful of sludge and flesh on pavement. I recover the strayed tissue of me and let out a soft laugh when I return to my original position.
The smog encompasses the trees where leaves used to be free among the limbs. Like a blanket, the stench starts out low and makes its way to the sky. I reassert myself back into the driver’s seat of my home, slowly but surely, and observe the foggy vapor. Waiting for the air to say that it is okay to breathe. Only the recognition of outsiders on raining days bring back the memory that you are living underneath a tarnished sky. Smokestacks fuel the city; economically, environmentally, structurally, and chemically. Infinitely pulled over on the side of an abandoned suburban street, I hum to destroy the silence. Sometimes the white mist disappears into the afternoon and you can no longer track it with the visible eye. Sometimes I imagine the car’s engine roaring to life with my fingers resting on the steering wheel. The odor settles on your clothes and the air translates as being fresh. I pick up a discarded Tim Horton’s cup and drink the last remnants of ancient energy. I sigh in disgust with the one muddy drop of styrofoam. My eyes return to the sun behind the windowed glass.
The snow flutters down from the sky in heavy feathers. I peer up in the sun roof of my car and lose my train of thought. For a moment I am something other … a blank sheet scattered in fragments. Neither human nor zombie but continuously gliding into stillness. Infinite motion. I become metaphor, transfixed to blankness that I cannot grasp a hold of or let go. The smoke rising above the town. That’s what life is about isn’t it? Production . . . material … flesh. Then the moment is gone, clouds shake in their stagnancy, and I am hungry again. The familiar comfort turns into incoherence, and I manage to carry out my day without thought or appreciation. Just soft stares waiting for the next warm body to discover my decayed body. To shoot bullet holes into. So, I close my eyes and hum along with the birds absent from the trees outside of my window.
Twilight on the Prairie
B. Layne Weaver
Sam leans forward from her seat on the upturned crate and studies the mangled carapace of the Med-X robot. The machine’s headlight-like eyes stare down from a tilted head, peering at some point on the floor beyond her right shoulder. A flickering orange light thrown by a nearby stove replaces the amber glow absent from the robot’s eyes.
Around her, other military personnel work at their own repair tasks within the large garage. The curved apex of the building’s ceiling catches broken conversation, laughter, and the record of James McKay that Jones has just placed upon the phonograph. Something in Sam relaxes at the crooner’s voice.
Jonesy, standing at his work table, says without looking over his shoulder, “Williams, I don’t know how you got hold of that phonograph and I don’t wanna know, but good Christ it’s nice hearing something in English again.”
“With you on my mind all day and all night … ” McKay sings.
Sam glances toward the west wall, against which a stiff wind buffets. With the bay door closed against the cold, the wind does something to the air pressure in the building to give it a sense of breathing.
Pieces of a story dodge through a field of clanks and clatters. Sam recognizes the Boston accent of Williams. “I was gettin sick of French music. Almost as bad as the food. Did I tell yous guys about that restaurant I went to last year? All fancy-schmancy. I sit down, I take one bite of this shit, man. One bite is all I can manage. I thought French food was supposed to be good, right?”
Sam angles the shop light to better illuminate the report file open on her lap. She allows her fingers to hover just beside the bulb. Her fingertips pulse now between too cold and too hot. She pulls her hand back before pain sets in and turns the page on the report.
“I managed to choke down whatever it was I just put in my mouth—”
Here comes a mom joke, Sam thinks.
“Your mom choked down what I put in her mouth!” This leads a spattering of laughter.
“Shut the fuck up, Jonesy. Anyway, the waiter musta thought I was choking, ‘cause he comes running over. He don’t speak hardly no English, of course. None of them do.”
“I think about you … I dream about you …” The musical notes seem frail as spider webs, ready to be torn apart by the outside wind at the first opportunity.
Sam squints, trying to make sense of the words on the report: MALFUNCTIONED IN FIELD. The Med-X’s carapace seems too mangled, but she gives the lever of the access hatch a try anyway. Her fingers quake, but the lever refuses to release any more than halfway.
“I’m trying to tell him, ‘This food tastes like shit, man. Like shit!’ And you know what he does?”
Sam reaches into her right boot and draws her favorite screwdriver, a beat-up old thing she brought with her from her father's shed back in Kansas, from alongside her ankle. She wedges it against the lever and applies pressure.
“He says, ‘You’re ve-ree wel-come, monsieur.’ Can you fucking believe that? The fucking nerve of the guy!”
“…all day and all night…”
“’Malfunctioned in field,’” Sam mutters, giving up on the mangled lever. “Yeah, I imagine gettin’ hit by mortar would do that to ya.”
The wind manages to find a corner on the mostly rounded building to whistle through. The cold adds its own scent to the dust, concrete, and motor oil in the garage. Somewhere to Sam’s left, still casting the light that shimmers in the Med-X's dark eyes, squats the small pipe stove whose only mission in life, it seems, is to barely warm her flank in order to remind her how cold the rest of her feels.
“How do you expect me to get by … all day and all night?”
“Wait wait wait wait, hold up, Williams,” one of the guys say. “What exactly did you say to the waiter?”
“Like I said, I told him it tasted like shit. Like merci.”
For a moment, the music and wind disappear beneath laughter and calls of, “Williams, you dumbass!”
"What?" Williams replies. "What's so funny? What'd I do?"
Sam looks to Jones, whose station occupies a section of wall next to her own. “Hey, Jonesy.”
“You got a crowbar?”
Jones roots around in his supplies until he unearths a crowbar. He rises and strides over to her. “Good luck getting that thing open. Good lord. Probably won’t be good for much but parts.”
Sam closes the file on her lap and lets it fall flat to the floor. It hits with a slap. “You know what they put in there? ‘Malfunctioned in field.’ The report says it got hit by mortar. Of course it malfunctioned in the field!”
Jones has picked up the file and begun thumbing through it. “I think it means,” he says, “that it malfunctioned in the field, then was hit by mortar. It couldn’t get out of the way.”
Sam runs a hand over her face. “Holy shit. I need more sleep.” Realization slaps her. She jumps to her feet to stand beside Jones. She jerks the file from his hands and flips to a section she glossed over before. “… ’resulting in death of soldier.’”
After exchanging a glance, both she and Jones look toward the lop-sided, vacant stare of the Med-X.
“Now do you expect me to get by?” A few of the mechanics sing along with McKay's recorded voice.
“Want help getting it open?” Jones offers.
“I’ll let you know if I need to take ya up on that,” Sam replies.
Jones nods, heads back toward his station, closer to the banter still focusing on berating Williams, deeper into the dim light of the garage.
Readjusting the shop light, Sam lets the file slap to the floor again. A corner of it strikes her screwdriver, which rolls until she stops it with her boot. She picks it up, lowers herself to her crate seat, and inspects the seam of the carapace’s access hatch. She didn’t see enough of a gap anywhere to insert the crowbar, so she lays it at her feet for now.
The record moves on to an instrumental piece featuring McKay on the trumpet that reminds Sam of twilight on the prairie for reasons she can’t pinpoint. Something about the forlorn flavor of the music. The dust in the garage becomes memories of dust in her mother’s kitchen, wet towels lining the bottoms of doors and tacked over windows to try to block out the airborne grit, but it still makes its way into lungs. The garage still breathes in the wind, but the house … the house chokes.
Sam clears her throat, returns to the correct present. The Dust Bowl years recede to their proper place in the not-so-distant past. “Aren’t people talkin’ about these things malfunctioning?”
Jones stands eye-to-eye with his own Med-X. It returns his regard with a helpful amber eagerness. “Right face,” he says, and the machine’s treads execute the maneuver. To Sam, he says, “Scuttlebutt. You know the Army would never send subpar equipment.” He gives her a look, managing to hold the façade for a few beats. “I’ve heard tell of something like that. But it’s the newer models, ain’t it? The MX-14s. That one’s a 12?”
"Shit. Yeah." Sam lets Jonesy get back to his checklist. The dog outside stops barking. The trumpet and piano continue their interwoven melody. From the far end of the building, another mechanic announces that she will be right back, that she needs to go take a merci. Someone else says merde for letting them know. The others laugh. Williams grumbles through his poorly subdued smile. The garage inhales deeply when the door opens, holds it when it closes again.
After deciding on a plan of attack, Sam touches the flat head of her screwdriver along the carapace’s seam. The gap does not admit the tool, however. She worries at it, prodding and prying, jerks her hand out of the way just in time to save from scoring it with the screwdriver. Abandoning that spot, she slides the screwdriver farther up the seam and begins prospecting anew for leverage to open the damned thing.
At last, the screwdriver digs into something it can purchase. Sam makes sure of her grip, then begins prying the carapace door, jimmying the tool back and forth, back and forth, the door shifting a little at each movement. She inserts the screwdriver as far as it will go, using it to prevent the metal from settling back into place, and reaches for the crowbar by her side. She wedges it in beside the screwdriver, finally replacing the smaller tool; the screwdriver clatters at her boots, unseen.
Sam braces herself and puts her weight into the crowbar. The Med-X's carapace groans, the robot's treads shift slightly on the concrete, the head lolls and changes the direction of its gaze. At last, the small door relinquishes, nearly sending Sam backward off her crate. The crowbar clanks to the floor.
“There ya go,” Jones calls, not looking up from his checklist.
Sam yanks the door open wide, allowing the shop light to dispel the shadows within.
MAINTENANCE SERVICE RECORD
24 Oct 1941 18 078 09BA W. Derringer
02 Jan 1942 18 134 02BD M. Martinez
11 May 1942 18 266 12CM K. Quinn
01 July 1942 18 151 63DK S. Brooks
The worst dust storm Sam can remember happened about a week after she turned sixteen. All but three of the cattle ran back to the barn, which her father and two of her brothers shuttered as best they could. Of the three cattle who had not been in the barn, one returned the next morning, trailing streamers of black mucus from its nostrils; the remaining two were found dead nearly a week later, all but completely buried. A local paperboy died of pneumonia not long after that storm. Sam herself took a chestful of grit and worried she might die. For a solid month she worked for every breath she took. She took to sleeping downstairs on the sofa because climbing the stairs to her bed taxed her body too dearly. If she exerted herself, her vision would darken from the outer edges inward, she would feel too low to the ground even though she stood straight, and a strange numbness would wash down her
body in a wave, starting at the crest of her head and working its way downward.
It has been six years since she felt that sensation of numbness being poured over her body like a cold, thick liquid, but she feels it again now. I was the last person to work on this Med-X … A thousand miles away, Jimmy McKay’s trumpet keens like a high wind. Jonesy’s voice like a 7 calling across the miles, the meaning just as elusive.
“Engage thrusters. Hover.”
Heavy rain shushing on the roof. Squealing of metal from the windmill.
A pot or pan dropped on the kitchen floor downstairs.
“I’m gonna have to requisition a new thruster for that thing. It’s still listing. Brooks. Brooks?”
Sam draws a breath and her gaze snaps to Jones. “Huh?”
Sam shakes her head, looking again into the pit of machinery. “It’s … a mess.” She realizes how naked her hand feels. She twists about on the crate, scanning the floor for the screwdriver.
“If it’s gotta be scrapped, it’s gotta be scrapped. Hey! How are its thrusters? What are you looking for?”
“Screwdriver.” The crate scrapes the concrete as she stands, looking again where her own body had blocked her view.
“There are about twenty right there in your kit.”
“Not the right ones.”
Malfunctioned in the field. Mortar came later. Malfunction.
The garage breathes again with the opening and closing of the door. A fresh draught of air tasting gray and cold eddies into the building, caught and reverberated by the rounded ceiling with the trumpet and piano.
“I’m not sure how to make it right.” Sam lifts the crate and checks under it. No screwdriver.
“Like I said,” Jones replies, his voice carrying a firmness now, “scrap it. There are plenty more to work on. Ones that can be saved. Come on, help me check the thrusters.” He moves as if to dance with the lifeless Med-X, taking its shoulders in his hands, bracing his left hip against the machine’s left side. “Brooks. Brooks!”
“Help me lay this thing down.”
Sam’s thoughts resist her attempts to mold them again into something useful, but she manages just enough. She joins Jones, and the two of them are able tip the Med-X up and over its own treads. They slow its fall to the floor. Its unlit eyes stare at the ceiling as if noting the music’s trek around the curvature.
“Oh, swell! Three of its thrusters look great! Not sure about the other.” A long silver glint catches Sam’s eye, and she drops to a crouch. Her fingertips graze the concrete floor, cold and dusty, before closing around the handle of her screwdriver. From her crouch, and with the Med-X’s altered position, the shop light more effectively illuminates the smears of blood. It is normal. The robots’ primary function involves basic first aid and transporting wounded soldiers to a safer location, where human medics can render further aid before shipping the casualties off to the nearest portable surgical hospital. The blood
is normal. No one cleans up the Med-Xs before they head for repairs. Sam recalls a story from before her arrival when the turning treads of a Med-X going through its paces revealed most of a human ear. Someone told it to Sam on her first day on the job. Wondered then if it was a lie to scare the greenies. Knows enough now to think it was probably the truth.
Jones’ voice solidifies again. “… try to pop one out of here. Hand me a screwdriver, will ya?”
Sam glances at the one in her hand, then grabs one from the edge of her work bench and passes it to him. She stands, awkward, feeling worn wood in one hand and cold metal in the other, waiting for the next task to be handed to her, feeling like a child for the first time in years. She glances again at the blood, glances away. She wonders what the Med-X’s voice sounded like, what little quirks its programmer built into it, like a signature. Her eyes find the carapace door again, find her name and serial number. McKay begins to sing about San Francisco. Williams joins his voice to McKay’s, off-key but the enthusiasm behind it makes up for a lot. Sam wants to see San Francisco. Wonders if the blood’s owner was from San Francisco. Wonders if he was conscious and waiting for his metallic savior to take him away from the battlefield.
At some point, the wind has died down. The dog’s barking resumes and grates on Sam’s nerves now. There is something insistent in it. Something …
Someone shouts for someone else to kill the music. The notes die in the air and fall like dust to the floor. Percussion remains, however …
“Is that mortar fire?” someone asks.
Jones looks up, the thruster forgotten.
The compound’s alarm system sounds. The relaxed work of the late morning gives way to controlled intensity. Sam jams her screwdriver back into her boot and joins the others, rushing toward the exit, rushing toward her station. She passes the phonograph, the turntable still spinning, voiceless, hopes that it will survive whatever attack might be coming. It’s difficult to get a record player here, and the transistors pick up only French.
Slowing to a single file at the door, Sam looks back at the Med-X, lying broken and alone on the concrete floor, its dull eyes focused somewhere above her. She wonders if it is somehow conscious, if it worries its human savior will abandon it, if it is horrified by the screwdriver in her boot.
The wind, though weaker, strips the warmth from Sam’s bones. But no dust rides this wind. Only flecks of snow, the scents of oil and smoke, and the sounds of the barking dog and, distant, the percussion of artillery causing destruction.
She whispers, “Merci.”
One Bottle in the Sea
Nine bottles rest around my TV. Eight names written on labels. Seven rooms fill the husk. Six walls burned black. Five rooms of barren smoke. Four doors sealed off. Three mice at my feet. Two trashcans over-flowing. One picture of my buildings down the street.
Nine years of Romance,
Nine years of learning. Nine years of crying, and laughing, and growing. Eight years of marriage. Seven broken phones. Six nightly kisses. Five stupid candles waiting for me to come to bed and leave the PC. Four broken cars in my 34 years. Three little words whispered every day. Two perfect people. One wave.
Eight years of watching my parents fade,
Eight years of caretaking. Eight years of helping, and begging, and hoping. Seven years since acceptance. Six realtors came knocking. Five missed lunches while I made a meeting. Four long trips to move them in. Three little words screamed every-day. Four perfect people. One wave.
Seven years of crying for the miscarried Angel,
Seven years of looking at the ash. Seven years since failing, and hurting, and searching. Six years since succeeding. Five months of hospital visits for our preemie. A four-week stay: not for me, I was designing blueprints. Three little words signed with fingers every day. Six perfect Souls. One wave.
Six months of barking,
Six months of walking. Six months of playing, and fetching, and running. Five days of starving. Four lawyers calling. Three special licks gifted every day. Seven perfect Souls. One wave.
Five weeks of holding the lonely in-law,
Five weeks of stressing. Five weeks of feeding, and pleading, and checking. Four messages left, never to be answered: the contracts are void, just like her heart is. Three silent words. Eight perfect Souls. Now down to one.
Four days of hiding,
Four days of sleeping. Four days of freezing, and stilling, and stopping. Three holes in the wall. Two safety inspectors called.
Three hours of thinking. Three hours of drinking. Three hours of wishing, and hating, and cursing. Two broken fingers.
One empty urn.
Two trashcans over-flowing. Three mice at my feet. Four doors sealed off. Five rooms of barren smoke. Six walls burned black. Seven rooms fill the husk. Eight bottles of ash. Nine minus Timothy.
Nine perfect loved ones.
Eight names on the bottles.
Seven contain humans.
Six are blue from our Honeymoon cruise.
Five buildings condemned.
Four days ‘til water is gone.
Three days ‘til lights go dark.
Two days 'til gas stops.
ROSIE: Energetic, lively, childish in a way, dressed beautifully, looks from high class.
SHEEN: Geeky but cute, charming, faking a higher class than his rugged clothes would suggest.
Setting: Lights are dim, only concentrated on Rosie as she stands center-stage. As Sheen walks toward Rosie, a spotlight follows him. As he nears Rosie, however, the light dims away and the amount of light on the two shrinks in shape but grows in intensity. All we can see is what appears to be a sidewalk below them and a building behind them. The building looks bland, boring.
Hallow, hallow, my dearest darling!
Well hello, dear Frederick. How are you this fine evening?
Quite well. Quite well. Tell me, do you hear the bell tolling?
A bell? Tolling? But of course! Everyday! No, every hour, every minute, every second!
My, my, my … your ears must be ringing madly.
Madly with joy!
How … (awkward pause, crooked smile) cute.
Ahh (whine) you lost the rhythm of our conversation!
Yes, I am afraid I did just that.
I hear them you know (Slowly lean closer to him, light grows smaller in size)
(Lower voice) As do I.
(Lean in closer) All the time?
(Put face right in front of hers, as if one gentle breeze could push both of your lips together. Just above a whisper) Always.
(Church bells chime. Rosie is alarmed) Oh, we must be going!
Shh—shh (stand back up straight and smile) Not just yet. Look around, what do you see?
(Look puzzled but turn slowly. The light grows just a tad. We can see what appears to be black road and a stop sign) Sidewalks … a road … a sky?
Sure, sure. But I mean, what do you (place palms together and spread hands and fingers apart while speaking, deliberately being slow) see?
You— being most unusual.
(Laugh jovially. Faking a very poor Irish accent) I’m al’ays an odd on’ missy.
(Laughs) Sure, sure.
(Run around in a circle within the shadows, rushing about as if you’ve dropped something)
(Still faking poor Irish accent) Open your eyes me laddie! Wa’s aboot?!
(Look closely around, scrunching up nose. The stage is lit but dim, the only strong light still on Rosie and Sheen) I see the usual.
LATE! LATE! I CAN’T BELIEVE I’M LATE!
(Jump in shock and turn around to see the Passerby. Light intensifies on the passerby) Excuse me ma’am, but are you okay?
Fine, yes. Quite fine, thank you! Just late! Very late. (Frantically continue looking for something on the ground)
Do you need assistance madam?
Course not, why would I? No one ever notices you til you make a scene. I don’t need that drama. Ooh late, late. So very late. (Rip off a shoe and shake it up and down, look into it. smell it).
Oh! I really don’t think that’s necessary.
(Tired) Well, it’s a good thing I didn’t ask you then, isn’t it?
(Taken aback) Why’s that?
Because I’ve found it!
Found what, exactly?
Why, my soul of course! Everyone knows you should take your soul to church with you. Couldn’t remember where I left it. See you kiddies! (Saunters off stage, humming happily)
(Slowly turn back to Sheen. Lights go back to Sheen and Rosie only)
Well, that was /entertaining.
Insane! Wait—you thought it was entertaining, why?
She’s a nutter all right, but look at how alive she was.
I think you’ve gone a bit nutter yourself.
(smile) Come on—why live inside some small bubble? Pop it already!
(Roll eyes) We should get going. It’s bad when we are more late than crazy soul foot.
You have enough humor for the two of us.
(Get a little louder with each word, slightly aggravated, slightly hopeful) Look. Around. You. Stop looking for the specifics you already know and just see. Then. we’ll go. Promise.
(Puts hands on hips and turns in a slow circle, dim light floods the entire stage. As Rosie turns, taking in more, the lights grow in intensity. A barrage of sounds occurs: a dog barking, children laughing while playing hopscotch, a mother calling lunch time. The lights turn up all the way— all of equal intensity now and the entire stage is lit. The sounds fade out. Rosie drops her jaw in awe. The building behind them has an entire section spray-painted. It’s beautiful and alluring, abstract. At the entrance of an ally, side of stage near curtain, is a large box with clothes beside it. A homeless person sits hunched over. A young boy stands still on a stoop, crying silently while playing tug-of-war with a dog. A woman stands at a window, tossing a man’s clothes out. A shady figure stands quietly with his back against the building, watching Rosie, fiddling with something in his hand, a pocket knife)
Why … why would I want to see all this? The bubble is better!
(Eyes widen) All of this would be here even if you’re in a bubble. It was here the entire time.
NO, it wasn’t! I would have noticed!
Sorry, Rosie—you chose not to notice. Not to notice at all.
Well … you … you didn’t notice!
I did. Don’t you remember? I hear them, always.
Well, you didn’t say anything! You didn’t do anything!
What was I to do?
Well, you heard everything so you should have done something!
You said you hear it too! You ignored it. (Annoyed) At least I acknowledged everything.
What good is acknowledging if you can’t do something about it?
So you hide from it instead, inside a small little bubble … letting it all happen even though you can hear it … even though you know it’s happening. You can so easily turn a blind eye?
(Lights on stage slowly start to fade, only staying intense on Rosie and Sheen)
(Quiet, sad) I want to be happy. I don’t want to see.
They want to be happy too.
Don’t you want to be happy?
Then walk with me. (Grab his hand and slowly walk off stage. For a moment, there is a shimmer, like a bubble around them. They disappear and the light goes with them. We hear a loud scream. Police sirens sound quietly and grow louder. There is flashing red and blue lights. The sirens stop. The stage floods with regular light. The Woman is hanging out of the window, motionless, blood flowing down to the ground. The homeless man is lying in the street; a pocket knife sticking out of his chest. The dog lays still between the bodies. The man screams and runs off stage. Commotion as police chase after him).
(The lights fade into darkness and we hear a faint whisper of a little boy, slow, and emotionless): Don’t
Company in Coffee Shops
Ciara sits in the passenger seat of my car as I drive north toward the city. I feel uneasy; though she is my sister, Ciara is not someone with whom I generally feel comfortable, and our car ride unsettles me. For forty-five minutes, we don’t emit a word. Only our breathing and the low-volume music disturbs the stiff air molecules.
When we arrive at our destination, the densely-bundled nerves in my body feel taut, my shoulders tight and my chest thick with discomfort. We climb the stairs to the second story of the building where we will find Jay, my boyfriend, and so many other people. At the top of the stairs, I walk forward to the bathroom, leaving Ciara behind me. I glance to the left. Through a narrow window standing parallel to the door, I see garish costumes on moving figures with nondescript faces. I avert my gaze, dart into the bathroom, hide myself within a private stall. Tears collect at the seams of my eyes, but I do not let them escape onto my cheek. Despite the tightness I feel throughout my body, I try to deeply breathe. Realizing I am unable to completely control my tears or my breaths, I quietly emerge from the stall and look into the mirror. “Just smile, Christianna,” I tell my reflection. With pinked eyes, my reflection smiles at me and I exit the bathroom.
Entering the half-filled room of costumed people, I spot Jay and hug him from behind, a relief which does not penetrate my skin. We small talk. A few minutes pass as others—many others—enter the room behind me. A collection of voices, loud and enthusiastic, change the pressure of the air enveloping me. My nervousness increases; my breaths become shallower.
As Jay jokes with a friend, I leave him to find a seat. I fix my eyes on the carpeted floor. I remember Ciara is present, somewhere, in the room. Cautiously, I lift my gaze to find her. On my left, she speaks to a few figures whose laughter joins the other voices in the room. Maybe two or three girls surround her. I don’t know. Anyway, she looks at me, pinching her lips into an uncertain smile. I continue walking, my eyes following my feet.
With voices concentrated on my left, I place myself in a seat near the aisle. I wait. I cannot describe the nervousness within me, except to explain my attempt to control it. I press my legs together and tuck my hands beneath them. I restrain my tears. I sit without making a sound; even my shallow breaths do not further disturb the air. I focus my eyes on my lap, on my feet below my lap. I see nothing but my own rigid body and pairs of unidentified feet as they cross my periphery. To lift my eyes and identify the feet, the voices, would induce a panic, an attack. A panic attack.
I am on the cusp of a panic attack—an overwhelming, unnegotiable panic attack. My thoughts feel disjointed and irrational as they circle in my mind: I cannot stay here. I have to leave this room. I don’t think I can stay here. What will Jay or Ciara think if I just get up and leave? What if I go to my car and drive home? I cannot stay here. This is overwhelming me. I am overwhelmed. Irritatingly, tears attempt to escape my body and enter the room of strange people. I blink and I rub and I will the tears away. I do not want anyone to perceive my inability to function within a large crowd. So I remain still and silent. I say nothing to anyone.
Eventually, Jay sits beside me. He holds my hand and I stare at my lap, at my feet. From the front of the room, two individuals speak into microphones, sharing announcements with the crowd of which I am part. Their voices fill and dominate the air. They hint at organizing a social game which would involve every figure in the room—and I will not be able to participate, I will not be able to stay. If I am forced to look up from my lap and find the faces which own the voices, my panic will take a definite and tangible form. And I will succumb to it, accept defeat, leave. At the corners of my eyes, the tears proliferate.
But they don’t organize or play the game. Announcements end with the introduction of the speaker. He begins speaking. I listen to his voice. I look up.
With snow descending outdoors, I sip a chai tea latte in a bustling coffee shop. I sit at a round table with two other women: my closest friend, Maddie, and one of her housemates. On this quiet Sunday afternoon, we spend idle time reading, writing, drawing. I stare at the open book before me. Though I find myself in a comfortable atmosphere, anxiety creeps up like a weed. Sprouting in the floor. Rising into my toes. Reaching throughout my body.
When it grows into my chest, the weed thickens. I feel uncomfortable, my chest dense and tight, keeping my lungs contracted and my breaths shallow. Careful tears wet my cheeks. The rules for public behavior have left my mental repertoire. I do not know how to act. I forget every social ritual. I cannot function in this social setting.
To cope with this overwhelming experience, I pretend to read. I hunker close to the page, filling my vision with white paper and black lines. These reliable characteristics of a familiar object steady me. I focus my attention on the word-forming ink; I stare down so I don’t have to look up.
I do not let anyone know anxiety envelopes me, not even Maddie. Ashamed, I cannot find the voice with which to expose my overwhelmed spirit. I do, however, use my voice against myself. I allow my thoughts to further shame me: I shouldn’t feel anxiety when I’m sitting in a coffee shop with two other women! What’s wrong with me? I shouldn’t feel this way.
Having forgotten all social rules, I am unsure of what to do. So I stare at my book. I blink away tears. I do not move. I do not look up. I do not speak up.
Reflecting off the ivory walls, warm sunlight floods the room. Even so, a chill hovers in the periphery. With four inches of snow gathering outside, the warm indoors tempt cold, dense air. It tries to wrap itself around me. I, however, have tucked my body under soft pink sheets and a white floral duvet, limiting the air’s ability to disturb me. I breathe deeply and lie still. Comfortable. On my propped-up legs rests a book upon which I cannot devote my concentration; contentment enraptures me. My closest friend rests too. With her back toward me, she feigns a Sunday afternoon nap.
Below us, the lively voices of other young women rise through the wooden floor. Maddie’s housemates and their friends chat with enthusiasm, though their words are unintelligible. The women’s voices are distant and powerless. Distorting the message, structural layers of the house soften and quiet the edges of high-pitched tones, morphing the language into something only it can understand. Congenially, it murmurs its secrets to my closest friend and me.
Absorbing the stillness, we say nothing. I let the sun-filled air suffuse every pocket of my lungs. Thankful and content, I note these details characterizing the late afternoon. A list of small things—sunlight, pink sheets, murmuring walls—allay my anxiety. This brief experience of joy reminds me to
search for peace through thankfulness. Like the cold air in the periphery of the room, anxiety hovers near me. Sunlight and stillness, though, wrap around my spirit like pink sheets and a white duvet. The power of anxiety does not negate the presence of peace.
For the first time in three days, I find absolute solitude and silence. The house is empty. Maddie and her housemates have vacated their house for the evening and I, their house guest, have space in which to breathe.
Resting under sheets and a blanket, I sit in Maddie’s bed with my back against the cold wall. I breathe. Slowly, I let my lungs pull oxygen into my body, taking in the quietness. I exhale—pushing the gaseous waste out of my lungs, releasing the social rubble of the past three days. An obligate introvert, I have room to breathe in the vacancy of others. Though the house is empty, voices still resonate with the walls and in my mind. To hush the lingering echoes of anxiety, I have to externalize, express, explain it. Instinctually, I call Jay—on impulse and out of necessity rather than by logic. We talk for two hours. I externalize, I express, I explain the anxiety with which I wrestle, grasping words to explore what I cannot understand. Graciously, Jay just listens. He gives me his time and his attention. Yielding his own emotional strength, Jay enters my frailty.
Through my conversation with Jay, though, I discover my anxiety originates in unmet expectations and too many social activities. It’s simple. Flying from Ohio to Colorado, I came to visit Maddie for my twentieth birthday and although Maddie and I have shared an intimate breakfast to celebrate, much of our time has been spent with other people. As a result of this social overstimulation, I am spending my last evening in Colorado crying on Jay’s virtual shoulder.
As Maddie and her housemates return and I tell Jay goodbye, I feel buoyant. When someone suggests we play a card game, I enthusiastically join them. I fully share in carefree college memory-making with a group of people, many of whom I do not know very well.
Around midnight, we take showers and ready ourselves for sleep. Not much talking occurs. By the time Maddie and I tuck ourselves in her bed, the house rests silent and still.
The room is blue with darkness. We lie on our bellies, facing each other. When I first explained my unexpected experiences, Jay had suggested I also share them with Maddie. Though I know she loves me as he does, I hesitate to reveal my feelings to her; she has partially contributed to my anxiety. But I have to expose the weed within me in order to kill it, and Jay cannot be the only person aware of the weed.
With difficulty, I whisper through the softness of the pillow, the sheets. I admit feelings of frailty and the circumstances surrounding them. Like Jay, Maddie listens but doesn’t have answers. And like Jay, she compassionately gives me space to express my difficult experiences, supporting me as the introvert I am.
We gather in my favorite coffee shop; the white walls and black picture frames housing black-and-white photos remind me of books with white pages and black ink. Reliable characteristics. Familiar objects.
Familiar faces. Maddie lounges comfortably in a black leather chair, and I sit beside her on the armrest. Among other friends, Jay stands near us. We are laughing, gathered in the front of the store. Unobstructed light pours into the space around us. With voices reflecting off white walls, anxiety echoes in my mind; just a couple weeks ago feelings of helplessness and inadequacy had overwhelmed me.
But those standing beside me nourish my confidence. We talk briefly of my recent experiences. Both Maddie and Jay claim I am not as socially helpless as I feel that I am; no one around me can perceive my anxiety in moments of panic like I think they can. And Maddie and Jay assure me, through their presence and with their words, that they will not let me sit in this darkness alone. They simply love me—and in their presence, I am both vulnerable and safe.
I look up from the light wood floors. I look into the eyes of the two humans who love me most. I see them and am seen by them, as well as others whom I don’t know so well. Though the threat of anxiety has not been eliminated, I rejoice in the opportunity to enter a coffee shop with people all around me, my heart full and thankful and satisfied.
A Walk with a Friend
I spend an unfortunate amount of time in cemeteries. Of course, I suppose any amount of time spent in a cemetery is unfortunate to some degree.
I feel like Grandview Cemetery is the one place I should feel uncomfortable or unnerved. I won’t walk around my tree farm property or anywhere at night time because I am suffocated with fear. In all cemeteries, but Grandview especially, I feel safe. For the short amount of time I am there, I don’t feel the need to look over my shoulder, or get from point A to point B as fast as possible. In the past, graveyards are where minutes and seconds seem to stretch out infinitely. While I have only been to one wedding of a friend my age, I have lost count the number of funerals and callings I’ve attended.
Time is allowed to stop here. This is where I walk with Leah.
The autumn trek begins at “Patriot’s Square,” or so a sign reads. Under a large and billowing orange and red tree, thirty-two headstones make four rows of eight, each paired with a freshly colored miniature American flag. All the tombstones are the rounded white of which Arlington National Cemetery is known for. After all, they are soldiers.
At a closer look, every headstone reads “Revolutionary War.” One, in particular, stands out to me the most in the front row. It tells me that Private Henry Hill was born in 1753 and died in 1833. In September of the year Henry was born, the steam engine was brought to North American colonies. In 1833, Charles Darwin arrived in Buenos Aires after traveling through the Argentine interior. That’s the world that man lived in. Leah loved history, using it to fight the hatred our society has to offer.
The bottom line of engraving on Henry’s stone strikes me. Man of Color. The poor man was marked in death, so everyone knew he was different from the rest as long as the etching on his hero’s headstone was legible. “Racism never dies,” I could practically hear Leah say, struggling to push the words out of her chest. Cystic Fibrosis always made her sound like she had just run a marathon while fighting a nasty cold. Across the winding road from Patriot’s Square is a towering mausoleum with Greek columns and double, metal doors that had aged to a blue-green. Across the top, it lets everyone who reads it know that the James family is inside, decaying like every other body on the property. On the back wall, visible through the doors is a stained-glass photo of Jesus. Even though I don’t believe in God anymore, a piece of me feels moved by the light shining through, covering the interior with a rainbow.
Every time I see a family grave plot, I feel strange inside. A line of weathered white and rounded stones that are taller than Henry’s are placed side by side. Mary A. Fultz lived 18 years, 3 months, and 14 days. William F. Fultz lived 22 years, 10 months, and 14 days according to his headstone. I am at the point where I am closer to William than Mary in age. Leah is now closer in age to the marker next to Williams—Isabella, wife of Joseph E.
Sydney Wayne Newsome
Moore, died March 26, 1878, at 25 years, 1 month, and 28 days old. The three of them seem so young, but they probably didn’t seem that way when they passed.
Scattered amongst the entirety of Grandview are monolithic, Washington Monument-style headstones three times my size. Among one of the rolling hills of the land of the dead is the granite grave site marker of Benjamin G. Leonard—born in 1793 and died in 1845. Under his name reads Homo Multarum Literarum, which to my understanding means "man of many words" in Latin.
In a poem she published, Leah wrote: Don’t run, fly. For land was never where your feet belonged. Go South with the birds. Ride air like waves until brown earth meets blue and keep going. Find the place where the sea meets the sky and it will hold you like the night holds the stars, solitary and safe. The wind around the cemetery whips my hair around my face, and I think about how hard it must be for a bird to fly when the air fights them … how hard it must be to breathe when your lungs are struggling to even serve their biological purpose. I shut my eyes to the point my head begins to ache. To sit down and breathe, I know where to go.
Emily Elizabeth, daughter of W.W. and S.E. Peabody, wife of Alexander M. Stuart.
Born in Chillicothe June 25, 1862, died in St. Louis July 4, 1888. Also her infant son.
Emily and her infant, nameless son are placed under a stout pillar in which curved benches jut out on either side. The gray stone is weathered from 130 years of unpredictable and varying southern Ohio weather. What I assume is green mildew lives on the lip of the bench. The bench's seat is a darker slate than everything else. Except for one spot.
One spot is colored like the rest of the monument. It appears as if it had rained as someone was sitting there, keeping it dry from the water that had long evaporated from a few days before. As much as I know the discoloration was due to irregular deterioration, I felt invited by whoever was saving me a dry seat.
The circular tables of the Writing Center seemed daunting when I walked in on the first day of my first job. It was then I was greeted by a girl with rose colored streaks in her dark brown hair. Just seeing someone with pink hair made me feel safe and as if this could be a place where people would like me, and I could be myself. I would go on and be able to share my stories with the pink haired girl, and we would work together to put words to our trauma.
As Leah’s pink hair faded, my relationship at the time was descending more and more into unexplored treacherous territory that slowly but surely destroyed every part of myself I knew. She would look at me with a fear of
experience in her eyes and say “get out before something happens.” She was the only one who saw her pain reflected in my eyes when I would whisper that it already had. The men—no, boys—we had let into our lives and trusted at one point or another had done nothing but taken advantage of us and our bodies.
Leah knew I was broken and trapped because she had freed herself and crawled down that same path before me.
Trekking further around the rolling hills of the cemetery that overlooks my hometown leads me to a tree that’s roots are dislocating the small rectangular grave marker of Richard F. Erdmann. According to the dates on the stone, he died the day before his 70th birthday and served in the first World War. I duck down and look underneath the granite slab where the tree root had moved it. If his headstone is being uprooted by a tree, I can only imagine what under the dirt looks like.
My mind paints a picture of a body strangled by roots desperate to support life. I know he is in a casket and the corpse laid to rest is deteriorated beyond recognition. All around me, life was doing everything it could to survive and try to make the world forget all the death underneath the surface as yet another autumn rolled into town. It was this time last year—2017—that my mind began to spiral at night, picturing decaying bodies of people I loved who were buried far before their time.
Had their caskets filled with water? Had maggots ate away at their eyeballs and crawled around them like a feast? Did my friends who had died in a car accident six years prior have anything left to them but bones? Were their clothes still intact? How did anything past their last breath work? Why had so many people I loved died so painfully? I got to the point where I covered all my mirrors because the sight of my own skin is nauseating.
While trudging away from the roots of the tree exposed to the air, I migrate towards the more modern area of the cemetery, which edges closer and closer to the outskirts. The further I get, the looser the dirt in front of headstones get and the dates engraved in stone get more recent. The ones that leave my stomach churning and head spinning are the ones that are unfinished. Stones meant for two are left with only three of four dates, saying only one body lay beneath the earth.
For a moment, I feel like I was standing above my own grave, wondering what it would look like if I ended up buried. I cannot imagine having that set-in-stone in reality, knowing that one day I would be buried in this specific place, knowing I could visit my own grave every day until the time came … my time came.
The anchor of my sanity appears in the corner of my eye. A group stone for the Blosser family is topped with a sundial made of gray metal splotched with green rust. The outer edge read Life at Death is Just Begun, crowning
roman numerals and a scythe-wielding grim reaper wearing a hooded cloak. Many don’t want the grave markers for the ones they love to be anything but a reminder of the life a person led. Seeing Death atop a stone marking a burial makes me wonder because I know it is something Leah and I would both find joy in just because of the pure truth it embodies.
The truth is that death is terrifying and agonizing for those who witness it, but it is the complete and final end of all endings. There’s some solace in that.
I end my walk at the same place I always do in the act of final acceptance that once I drive away off this hill and into the real world, time will start again and my safety net will dissipate.
The headstone of Leah V. Hollis is a five-foot-tall Tardis made of shiny black granite. Etched into the bottom four panels of the time machine’s doors are the words Daughter, Sister, Friend, Poet, along with a quill resting in an ink pot and the logo for her favorite band, Kill Hannah. Every time I place flowers on top of the almost grown back grass, I feel as if I have opened the doors of her time machine headstone and stepped back into reality.
It is the reality that I stood in this place for the first time last year, watching as her father sat in front of her elevated casket playing Wake Me Up When September Ends by Green Day from the speaker of his cell phone. She loved Green Day, and the second date on the police box reads September 3, 2017. Standing here overlooking a valley embodies the truth that I never took her to see Lady Gaga like we planned, even though she would have been dying in the hospital the day of the concert anyway.
I don’t know how a Tardis is supposed to work, but if I could pry open the doors and hide in it forever because that’s where she’s been hiding, I wouldn’t think twice.
Tonight, I stand in the middle of a dark alleyway. It is pitch black, and all I can do is hear. I cannot see what is calling out, but it knows my name. I can hear the tone in the entity’s voice as it calls out to me. It sounds like a howl of wind in the middle of the night, and it says Madison smoothly and slowly. It then continues with Madison, ma-di-son, MADISON! Then bam! My attention is back to the voice I hear, the depression and anxiety kick in, and then once again it is all silence with in the night.
I awaken suddenly and look at the clock, which reads 3:00 AM. I realize I had another bad dream; however, class comes early, so I turn back over. I turn opposite to my bedside clock. Watching the minutes tick away does not help get rid of the feeling, any more than creating wounds on myself does. Therefore, this leads to why I just lay in the darkness waiting. I wait and wait for the feeling to pass, but it never does. The feeling I mentioned is a hard feeling to describe to the reader’s eye. The feeling of emptiness surrounding the organs, and various components of the body that are contained within. The feeling of a blackness that colors your veins, organs, bones, and even brain. This is the feeling that even when the world tells you that you matter, the darkness swoops in and blocks your brain from absorbing it. The feeling that makes you want to end your existence, then somehow your heart breaks through, and allows you to feel for the ones that love you. The feeling of not feeling anything towards yourself or your purpose in the life you live. Eventually, you get accustomed to the feeling and learn how to put yourself back to sleep by wearing your mind out. Your mind finally shuts down from the thoughts. Therefore, after an hour back to sleep I go. See you in the morning. Unfortunately.
I say Good Morning to myself as my alarm rings for my 9:30 A.M class. This means it is time to put on my happy face, and to be ready to greet the world. I have no worries due to not being required to tell anyone how my dream went. If I had to explain it to someone, people would surely think I am weird. This leads me to putting the dream in my long-term memory. As I rise from my bed, I go to walk into the bathroom and look into the mirror. The first thing I see is my acne because it is the most noticeable thing about my appearance. Who cares though. I have no friends to impress so natural look it is. I pull on my clothes and get myself ready for the day. My long day of talking to no one and hanging to myself. Which helps the feeling calm down for a bit, until I am in bed again.
During my day, I do my normal routine of work and school. Work is great; however, as a person college truly changes you. This leads to the non-socializing part of my day. I pass by faces each day that amplify the feeling I hold in my mind. I give a warm smile; however, they look back with a face that reads "annoyed" all across their skin. Why is this oddball looking at me? I read this vibe across the room while I accidentally make eye contact with some people. I ask a question in class then receive the same look from the professor. I respond to this by shrinking into my chair. I ask myself, "How can humans make other humans feel this way?"
"I do not know," I reply back to myself. I then return to continuing the rest of my day. It is now nighttime again, so I am back to laying in my dark room beside my fiancé. I listen to the breaths released from her lungs. I can see the rise in her chest. The in and out of the shallowed relaxed bursts of air she breathes. I watch her because I hope it will help me fall asleep faster. I roll my eyes due to knowing it is a false hope. I usually get a visit from insomnia twice within the night. When I first lay down, and then towards the end of my sleep journey. This makes the next day suck even more. I return to trying to fall asleep to the rhythm of her breathing, and then I try to match her pattern. Hoping this will make it faster to at least relax.
When the Darkness Appears
"Nice try,” says a deep low voice. I turn my head to the left, but it is too late. "IT" is back. I call the voice "IT" because I have never seen the voice’s face. I can feel it grab a hold of my arms. Like the voice is trying to comfort me before making my night a living hell. Then goes round one. It sets the stage for my dream, and, once again, I am induced into sleep by the darkness. So, I can dream of the things no one should have to dream. To hear the thoughts about myself that no one should have to hear. To be stuck within the alleyway of hell and hatred. The hatred of your own self. The darkness makes you believe it is your only friend and holds you by the neck another night that you struggle to stay above the water. With hopes that one day you will see the light has been there and the darkness is not a way to end your days.
Millennials are by far the most open generation when discussing mental health. However, they are also the generation most plagued by emotional and mental distress (Heck). This is attributable to a combination of multiple social and economic reasons, including the advent of social media and the lack of a firm economic foundation. Millennials and those who follow in their generational footsteps, Generation Z, have rates of anxiety and depression that are professionally and educationally crippling (MacLellan). Socially, Millennials are the second most connected generation in history through social media and instant digital communication such as texting or instant messaging. However, they are among the most socially anxious. While it would be highly speculative to suggest that all of the individual stressors that impact the mental health of Millennials can be identified, several can be grouped into two categories: Social Stressors and Economic Stressors. Each are key in understanding a generation that came of age in a unique world.
Millennials suffer from multiple social stressors that have negative effects on their mental health. A majority of these stressors are byproducts of the digital age. As such, these effects are unique to Millennials and their younger Generation Z counterparts; thus, their impacts are only just being realized. The advent of social media and the Internet has allowed a generation to utilize a wholly new form of digital communication while also being exposed to its unintended consequences, including bullying and the posting of graphic imagery. No singular stressor defines the social aspects of life as a Millennial, but collectively they combine to negatively affect the generation as a whole and result in higher rates of mental distresses, such as depression and disorders related to social anxiety.
Social Media and Digital Communication
Millennials and Generation Z are the most socially connected generations in history, and while they have both reaped the benefits of technology-driven globalization, they have also been subject to its darkest detractors. Social media has grown since its humble roots in the early mid-2000s; instead of being a small collection of applications and websites utilized by a small subset of the population, it is now an integral part of daily life across much of the globe. While the convenience of social media is apparent, it is difficult to ignore the inherent dangers of social media technology. Platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, and Instagram have all been settings for malicious content, including bullying, stalking, and the posting of graphic images and video which depict acts of graphic violence, animal abuse, and racism (Leetaru).
When tackled individually, the effects of social media on the mental health of its user come in to clearer view. The number of children, teens and young adults being bullied on social media platforms is steadily rising across the globe, with fifty percent of children and young adults in the United Kingdom experiencing some type of bullying in their lifetime and ten percent report experiencing bullying with the previous seven days (Ditch the Label 13). These reports include instances of cyberbullying where nearly one in five children and young adults report being bullied online, including instances of abusive language towards persons being placed in public forums such as comments and sent to them via direct message, private information being disseminated, and even persons being impersonated online by their peers in a malicious manner (Ditch the Label 24). Those who reported online abuse also reported negative impacts on their mental health, with forty-one percent reporting that the abuse
Coming of Age:
Millennials and Mental Health
caused them to experience social anxiety, thirty-seven percent experienced depression, and over one in four developed suicidal thoughts (Ditch the Label 25).
These effects are not limited to the United Kingdom. In the United States, seven in ten children and young adults report being bullied and nearly one in ten reported being cyberbullied online. These statistics become more harrowing when children, teens and young adults who are members of at-risk groups are asked to report their experiences with bullying, with over fifty-percent of LGBTQ+ persons being cyberbullied in the United States and three-quarters of surveyed persons with autism spectrum disorders being victims of various forms of bullying (“Facts about Bullying”). In both countries survey respondents were asked if social media platforms were doing enough to prevent cyberbullying, a vast majority stated that they were not.
Aside from the effects of cyberbullying, social media presents two additional negative stressors on the health of Millennials: the distribution of graphic content online and social media addiction. In 2014 the terrorist group known as the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) began releasing graphic videos of captive persons being executed in a number of gruesome manners, including decapitation, immolation and drowning; one of the primary platforms for the release of this material was Twitter. In 2015, the world was shocked to find their social media feeds filled with images of a deceased child on a beach in Turkey; the child and his parents were fleeing the violence associated with the Syrian Civil War. These are just two examples of graphic and disturbing content that can be found on social media, with many other including images of sexual assault and animal abuse.
The effects of this content on journalists who are professionally required to view such content are well documented, with many journalists reporting the development of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and symptoms of acute stress (Mayhew). The effects on the general public who view such content during the course of their daily lives on social media is not well documented; however, one can infer that the consumption of such media is damaging to the mental health of the viewer with the potential to cause significant distress. In 2015, a warning was released by leading trauma experts that viewing ISIS propaganda videos depicting the murders of captured civilians could result in significant negative impacts on the mental health of viewers (Wridt). It is clear that continuous dissemination of graphic content could negatively affect viewers across all generations.
While it has been demonstrated that the content of social media can harm the mental health of Millennials and Generation Z, the effects of the overuse of social media has yet to be discussed. Like other aspects of daily life, social media can be overused and research has concluded that it could be harmful to those who overuse platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, including the development of anxiety and depression. It is believed that "social media addiction" is a problem being endured by a relatively small percentage of users; however, the statistics regarding the average use of social media are alarming. Eighty-eight percent of Millennials in the United States report that they use social media and fifty-one percent of those users report that it would be difficult to stop their use of social media. Millennials tend to use social media for around two hours per day, with each person cumulatively spending over two and a half days on social media each month, and almost two weeks in a calendar year (Smith, et al.). This type of social media use can be damaging to the emotional and mental health, especially if the content being viewed is personally distressing in nature.
As discussed earlier, Millennials have been forced by society to adopt a perfectionist mindset with regard to their education and their financial status; not only have Millennials been forced to fine-tune themselves to be acceptable
applicants to colleges, universities, and employers, they have been forced to go into significant amounts of debt to achieve those ends. Thus, student loan debt is the primary economic stressor on the mental health of Millennials and is the primary cause of financial stress among the generational cohort. The effects of these loans are compounded by the fact that a large number of Millennials reached adulthood during the Great Recession and its aftermath, thus making repayment of these loans harder due to the difficulty in finding employment in such an economic environment. When combined, these two economic stressors on the mental health of Millennials, student loan debt and the Great Recession, create a vicious cycle that entangles the entire generation and erodes its financial future.
Student Loan Debt
The combined total of student loan debt in the United States is over one and a half trillion dollars with over forty four million borrowers in debt (Friedman). Millennials hold a vast majority of outstanding student loan debt, holding an average balance of twenty-two thousand dollars and paying an average of three hundred ninety dollars per month in loan payments and interest. When combined with living expenses, these payments can be a significant financial hardship, especially when the average wage of recent graduates who hold a bachelor's degree is approximately fifty thousand dollars (Money). The effect of high loan payments and exorbitant amounts of debt is compounded by the stagnation of wages, which haven't significantly increased in comparison to the cost of living in over forty years (DeSilver). The length of many student loans, which vary between ten and twenty-five years, means that most Millennials will carry the burden of student debt for a significant portion of their lives. The length of student debt combined with the lack in overall wage increases over time means many Millennials will not be able to experience financial successes enjoyed by the generations that preceded them, such as home ownership.
It has been well documented that the vicious cycle of student loan debt has a real impact on mental health of those who are burdened by them, especially Millennials. The compounding effects of the inability to pay the loans or the inability to become financially successful due to the budgetary effects of student loan payments is believed to lead to increased rates of depression, anxiety and panic. The symptoms of mental and emotional distress are compounded later when student debt limits a graduate's ability to own a home, own a car or have children while remaining financially secure. The cumulative effects of student loan debt do not only affect the mental health of Millennials; they affect the economy on which their financial success is predicated, an economy on which the success of future generations is predicated, an economy that failed them before in 2008.
Millennials have come of age in one of the most hostile social and economic environments in history, and they have the emotional scars to prove it. The advent of the digital age has at once made their lives easier by granting them unprecedented access to the world around them while also allowing a platform for those who wish to spread hate and mistrust. Millennials have watched as technology has continued to advance, shaping and molding their social lives, but at what cost? Is the ability to connect with the world instantly worth the emotional damage that could be incurred by viewing the wrong video or being a victim of cyberbullying? These are questions that only Millennials themselves can answer, as they are one of only two generations with near life-long, first-person experience dealing with these kinds of threats to their mental health. It will be up to them to draw the line through initiative
and policy, but it is up to all of us to promote positive mental health and negate persons and content which may threaten it.
The economic situation of Millennials is dire; no generation has ever seen more debt at such a young age. The compounding stress of earning and education then finding a job that is at once commensurate with that education and able to pay their outstanding loans is absolutely daunting. The fact that some Millennials had to go through this struggle while in the depth of the Great Recession is all the more astounding and distressing. It seems that previous generations have only been able to provide incremental relief to the problem and once again it appears that Millennials themselves will have to provide the solution in due time through policy. This generation has been scarred and shackled by incredible amounts of social and economic violence; however, they have yet to achieve a majority in any legislature and while all above the age of majority, many are still rising stars in their communities, professions, and institutions. While many are struggling, they refuse to give up or accept failure. They know an unfortunate truth that no other generation can understand, that despite the economic and social violence this generation has had to endure, it is united in its struggles and its capacity to change the world is unparalleled. It is in this unity that the shared struggle of Millennials may result in lasting positive change with respect to social and medical attitudes towards mental health, for this generation and the generations who follow.
DeSilver, Drew. “For Most Americans, Real Wages Have Barely Budged for
Decades.” Pew Research Center, 7 Aug. 2018,
Ditch the Label. "The Annual Bullying Survey 2017." Ditch the Label, 2017.
“Facts About Bullying.” StopBullying.gov, U.S. Department of Health and
Human Services, 28 Sept. 2017,
Friedman, Zack. “Student Loan Debt Statistics In 2019: A $1.5 Trillion Crisis.”
Forbes, 7 Mar. 2019,
Heck, Laura. “A Generation on Edge: A Look at Millennials and Mental
Health.” Vox Magazine, IPC Media, 19 Nov. 2015,
Leetaru, Kalev. “Why Don't Social Media Companies Stop Violent Imagery?”
Forbes, 20 Apr. 2017,
Mayhew, Freddy. “Vicarious Trauma: How Dealing with Graphic Videos and
Images Can Harm Journalists' Mental Health.” Press Gazette, 6 Nov. 2017,
Tuttle, Brad. “New College Grads Could Be Looking at the Highest Starting
Salaries Ever.” Money, Time Inc., 15 May 2017,
Smith, Aaron, et al. “Social Media Use 2018: Demographics and Statistics.” Pew
Research Center: Internet, Science & Tech, 19 Sept. 2018,
Wride, Nancy. “Trauma Expert: 'Do Not Watch' Beheading Videos | Promises
Behavioral Health.” Promises Behavioral Health, 15 Sept. 2014,
When I realized the freedom around me, I acknowledged that I had no idea who I was or where my life would lead. My life’s direction was then on my own shoulders. A crushing weight of suffocation filled my insides. I felt like I would be lost in a murky abyss and never find my way out. Then I pulled myself to reason and realized that the only thing stopping me from achieving limitless possibilities was myself.
Fear was my enemy.
It should have been my companion.
Fear can remind me of my humanity; but it should not stop me from achieving beyond the limits we have set for ourselves.
I must break through my limits.
The ambiguity of life is what allows the soul's energy to strengthen by creating itself from the bare minimum. The goal should not be to break out of the murky, but to use these fleeting moments of clarity to learn the ways of navigating it.
Reflection on Fear
Sierra L. Adams
The world I live in is far more colorful than the
limitations of language could express.
From my line of sight, mountains peak higher,
the valleys are deeper,
the mornings brighter,
the nights darker.
The waves of joy
the waves of pain
From my unique vantage point,
I ache to no end.
I hold in the recesses of my heart an unshakable and irrevocable hope
that allows me to persist in spite of ache.
I long that you could see the same world I see.
I know both the lowest of lows,
I would argue, the highest of highs.
A few breaths of heartfelt laughter following a bout of tears.
The quiet transition separating the closing of day and arrival of night.
The moments that others overlook
as commonplace or mundane
become fleeting moments I grasp onto.
I search for newfound hope in stillness here,
and most frequently find it.
A Mind of Innumerable Colors
I take each fleeting moment of my heart's coveted peace
knowing that peace and solace will continue to come and go much
This is how my world spins daily.
It is a never-ending,
Unfiltered and unedited emotion
collide with experience
to create deep beauty and meaning.
However undesirable the persistent pain,
I am undone when I see this collage of my life in the making.
Without pain, there would be no collage intermixing joy and hurt,
and thus there would be no color.
Where pain and peace collide,
the colors are created.
The same mind that causes immense suffering
is one and the same with the incomparably beautiful mind
that allows me to dream,
write, love, and
hope, serve .
A broken mind can still give life
in all its bittersweet messiness,
I intend to plant roots here,
to work diligently
with a mind of innumerable colors.
Deep longing pulsates
Courses through veins
To be known
I never cease to crave
Redemption to come
From ruins of pain
The world, exaggerated
Emotion and thought
Light may come, shine
Even in heartbreak
I await morning
Trust in its birth
Day always brings
The will to fight
To endure the day
Clinging to hope
A fragmented mind
heavy of heart
Breaking forth anew,
hope rises here
serve well to
The conundrum exists,
Shows precisely this
I would know no joy
I would know no peace
I would know no rest
My heart will forever
Hold even suffering dear
In ashes, in ruin, in strife
I will find hope, even here
Sarah C. Cook
Ready to feel
Waiting for the pain
Ready to love
Waiting for the opportunity
Ready to laugh
Waiting for the joke to end
Ready to live
Waiting for the time to die
Ready to learn
Waiting for the lesson
Ready to transform
Waiting for the willpower
Ready to succeed
Waiting for the motivation
Ready to lead
Waiting for the finish line
Ready to jump
Waiting for the wind to die
Deprive of feeling and responsiveness.
I wonder how long it’ll last this time. Minutes? Hours? Days?
I could watch that show about the group of friends trying to make it through everyday life. That show always makes me laugh.
I could read that book about the girl who is the chosen one and who is meant to save us all. That story always inspires me.
I could listen to that song about the boy who left the girl and now she’s spilling her heart out on paper. That song always makes me cry.
Maybe I’ll just lay here. I wonder how long it’s been?
Who knows? Who cares? Why does it even matter? Nothing matters.
Maybe I should just let go and slip into darkness. I’ll never have to deal with this again.
I think that’s the best thing to do …
What was that?
Don’t let go!
Why shouldn’t I? I feel nothing.
Aren’t you afraid of the darkness?
I’m not afraid of anything, like I said I don’t feel anything.
But I think you are afraid of it.
I don’t know … I don’t remember what it’s like to feel fear.
Sure, you do.
No, I really don’t.
Yes, you do.
No, I don’t.
Yes, you do and here in a little bit you’ll remember that feeling. You’ll remember a lot of other feelings as well.
I don’t know … Wait . . . What’s happen . . . what was that?
That was the numbness going away. It usually goes away on its own, you just have to wait it out.
It’s like . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . it’s like everything is clearer and in focus now.
That’s what happens when you’re able to feel.
Why can’t it always be this way? Why do I have to be numb?
I don’t know. But for right now at least you’re able to feel.
What happens when I’m numb again and I’m not afraid to go into the darkness?
. . .
Don’t worry, I’ll stop you. It may take a while, but I’ll be there.
What happens if you can’t be there?
What do you mean? I’ll always be there.
But it’s coming back to me now, the last time this happened you got here quicker and the time before that was quicker than that. What happens when you can’t be there?
. . .
Voice? Voice, what will happen if you don’t show up before . . . before I go into the darkness?
I don’t know what will happen.
I don’t like the idea that I could become so numb that nothing will stop me from going into the darkness.That scares me.
It scares me too.
E. Paige Foraker
My alter ego is more than I am.
She is a tidy room,
a stable mind,
a healthy snack,
the period at the end of a sentence.
My alter ego is less than I am
I’m a burning candle,
an empty pill bottle,
a trembling hand,
an open book with many pages missing
I am always—
My alter ego is an award-winning smile
in an empty room.
I’m a thunderstorm that never breaks
I am less than—
or more than she is.
It’s hard to tell the difference.
In fact, she probably likes you
more than I do.
I’m a pro at holding my breath.
Palms against the aluminum, pushing
myself under the surface.
The accumulation of carbon dioxide
squeezes my lungs,
and increases my heart rate.
My sister bet that she could
finally outdo me.
She doesn’t know my secret.
That I am always holding my breath.
Prepared for the Sun to swallow the Earth,
the stars to come tumbling down,
the grass to turn to snakes.
My secret ability,
to always be half-awake.
Water ruffles, and she breaks surface,
losing the bet—
I win again,
hold on until I can’t anymore.
I finally come up, light as a feather,
carbonated like sparkling wine.
The train is coming
Do I need a ticket?
It’s on its way
Do I just get on?
The train is coming
Can’t be late.
The tracks are trembling
The train is coming
Must I get on?
There are lights in the tunnel.
Is something wrong?
The train is coming
Don’t get too close
Right on time.
The train is coming
What’s it worth?
It’s been coming for years now
What’s the cost?
There goes the train
Why do I miss it—
Until next time
The Idle Passing
You are so
when you cry.
—when your father left
in that police car, and
you learned how to hide.
—when your sisters lied,
and you eventually forgot
what they looked like.
—when your doctor
gave you that prescription
you were afraid to try.
—when that sad boy died
and haunted your waking
dreams for several years later.
—when you let your eyes drift
open and saw that tragedy
was never beautiful
when you endure.
Silently, he moves toward muddy earth,
letting legs dangle from the bank of the creek.
I follow his soft movements,
crouching quiet by his side.
In summer, when we swam,
the creek was clear, a few inches deep.
With quiet persistence, the steadfast stream
was burying breathing things.
As waters built layers in winter’s freeze,
the breath evanesced from these;
they became deciduous matter sleeping
on the creek bed deep.
The overlaid death broke light’s reach,
darkening the clarity of the summer stream.
Spring surges around us now.
Murmuring, he invites me to just listen
and I close my eyes. For a few seconds,
the water, wide with added volume, rages.
I open my eyes and I consider the creek;
upturn colors it like coffee with cream.
Spring unsettles dead layers deep and
suspended in the turbulent waters, they rise.
Resurrecting death nourishes the cold creek,
hope convalescing in turbidity.
From the muddy creek bank,
we witness growth and grace, rising.
Through layers upturning, light reaches deep
germinating dreams within the spring stream.
Mosaics from Broken Pieces
I was born unbroken.
Being unbroken is considered beautiful.
Now – I am broken, shattered,
once a crystal owl, now
fine as dust,
other pieces large
with jagged edges.
For years I have
taped and glued,
pinned and welded,
knitted and stitched,
the pieces together
to resemble the whole.
Shattering other parts
of myself in the
I cannot recall
just what the whole sculpture
first looked like …
I am learning to love
The constant shifts of myself –
how everything that
touches me makes my edges
burn and sing,
gleam and glow,
glitter and shine.
How my sharp edges
catch the light and sparkle.
My fine as dust particles –
remnants of my softest parts –
are rich and fertile.
Perfect growing conditions
for dreams that I will
water with sweat and tears.
I am buoyant
no longer being
beautiful to this world.
You are beautiful in your wholeness.
My lovely brokenness
is a threat to you.
You must be careful of me.
My sharp edges can
spill your blood –
puncture your spirit.
My dust particles
can fill you up
‘til you cannot
breathe ‘round the buttercups
and purple irises
growing inside you.
Run from me. I understand.
Perhaps one day, someday,
I will meet someone
as broken as the one
staring back from the mirror.
Perhaps our sharp edges
will spark and burn
and sing together
not cut or puncture.
Perhaps our dust
will flow between our
larger pieces freely
Perhaps we will know
intimacy and simply
existing – broken – together
a mosaic of a
different type of beautiful.
Life seemed easy,
When we were kids.
We didn’t need a reason,
To do what we did.
We used to play war,
And it seemed really real.
But now we stay bored,
Cause we have to pay bills.
We put lots of pressure,
On our meaningless lives.
We thrive at the struggle,
But we struggle to thrive.
It seems it’d be easy,
To just have some fun.
But instead we just sit,
And ponder the gun.
Don’t get me wrong,
Our life’s pretty sweet.
We have smartphones and macs,
And cool shoes for our feet.
But at times it feels,
Our joys gone a drift.
We forgot to tie off,
And that’s caused a rift.
My only wish,
Is to be free again.
That only wish being,
To go to back to then.
Let's Go to Back Then
[Something really strange...]
Something really strange happens when your emotions cease to function
Suddenly everything simultaneously does and doesn't matter
You're overwhelmed by how things no longer overwhelm you
Upset by your inability to get upset
Slowly falling into the embrace of a purely numb mindset
But in a serene and peaceful way
Because can you really be terrified of something you can no longer feel?
Something really strange happens when the real terror sets in
When you begin to feel again
When another's voice makes your stomach do flips
When a text notification instantaneously provides your face with a smile
And when a kiss takes your breath away
Happiness brought to you solely through the existence of another
But, at the same time, dread at the fear of losing happiness once again
Something really strange happens when dread and happiness coexist within your mind and soul
Your mind wanders through meadows of good feelings and sunshine
Until dread calls in the fiercest of storms to uproot every living, beautiful thing within your meadow
Destroying the newly bloomed manifestations of your joy
Something really strange happens when another staves off your dread
And cultivates your happiness
You no longer peer over your shoulder when exploring your meadow
No longer expect the storms to pop up
No longer feel the pain the destructive clouds and angry rains bring
Something really strange happens when you begin to feel whole again
Your sleep is much sounder
Your voice shakes a lot less
Your mind no longer works against you
And caring for another is no longer an unaccomplishable feat
Something really strange happens when you love again
Especially after deciding it would never happen for you
Especially after all the wounds investment has brought
Especially while you're still picking up the pieces from last time
And the time before that
Especially after deciding you weren't worth it
Especially when you cannot even love yourself
But something really strange happens when you love again
Texts turn into conversations
Conversations turn into nights
And nights turn into weekends
Weekends full of overwhelming bliss
Weekends that instill the kind of peace that monks only aspire to achieve
Peace found solely in the words and looks exchanged with another
Looks that are enough to make you hide your face
For fear you'll give your secrets away
The kinds of secrets that keep you up at night pondering the future
The kind of future that you don't have to compromise on
And something really strange happens when you no longer have to compromise
Windows are rooms of four,
Glass upon glass,
They blur and run.
Paint and Paint.
Windows are rooms,
Frame and you’re there.
The Workings of a Factory
I am a sorrowful heart,
But I am strong.
I beat in loneliness,
And smile at light.
I provide no demands,
Just the blood of myself.
With every beat,
I heal a bruise.
In my chest,
I rest in darkness.
Do not worry,
Rhythm and song
A swan exists in the night,
With the ice.
She travels the lake,
Creating a path.
Her body is a boulder
A rock shattering solids.
Hear the break.
Between wings …
Under the willow,
Her body sings.
A Heart Read
Love and beauty life doth hold.
So vast and true the ocean’s fold.
How quaint the night when told.
Forever abiding within a soul to keep at bay the untold cold.
Lonely the heart who never gave true.
Lost is the soul who never flew.
How strong the sadness that all turns blue.
So great the toll that none never knew.
How quiet the heart so stricken with pain.
Forlorn the words spoken in vain.
So still in the light a dead tree lays.
Lost to a day when tempest reigned.
He will rise again
from the depths of his burden.
He will start over
in the chase for his dreams.
The boy will rise once more
and become the man he sought to be.
His laughter will overtake tears,
his courage will chase away fear.
He'll start a true family
and own a great career.
will evil plague him,
shall he torment his soul.
that's what he told us.
In a small town when fall was near.
We were sitting in a diner booth-
He was sitting on a neat little stool,
sporting a black raven tattoo
as he replayed tales
no man could tell better.
He talked of hopes
and of dreams.
He spoke of missed opportunities.
"You don't always notice the open doors ...
just the open road in-front of you:
it's all right there.
But a door ...
A door can take you anywhere."
And that day he made a vow,
a vow that he spoke from his heart;
He would someday rise again,
and become that door-taking,
great young man.
He Will Rise Again
I can't seem to find
that little happy rhyme—
The one that brings a smile,
and makes your lungs giggle.
I admire her
for all her love-filled poems—
For keeping her spirit up,
while all the others are falling.
I no longer have
that optimism I once held close—
The idea that all good was possible,
on this crazy mixed-up earth.
And I listen to her words
of hope and the strength—
I can't seem to grasp,
those ideas I once understood.
I once was not soft-spoken
nor was I afraid to hurt—
I once knew what it was,
to have faith in others’ hope.
And I watch her eyes brighten
as she takes in what we say—
I see her chest swell,
when she takes in what she hears.
Is it growing up
that's changed me so much—
Or is it just my lack of courage,
to hold on to what was hurt?
And there she is
just three years younger—
My little sister,
same world but different earths.
Cloud of butterflies
On a purple flower stem
Tree branch falls on them
They scatter into the air
Amazing color to see
The whistling leaves blow
Playfully surround my feet
A colorful wind
Flapping, floating, gliding by
A swirl of wings and leaves fly
TAS 4440: Class Haikus
and Bryce Martins
and Janelle Coleman
A chilly autumn,
with rich chocolate giggles.
Feel the spooky air.
Crunchy leaves, dead trees, white clouds.
The chilled air makes me quiver.
I dreamt last night of
pumpkins, witches, black cat stares.
Oh, how I love this!
Crispy fall air fills my lungs.
Reds and oranges and yellows!
Light the Way
The Traveling Man
Tordus du Cerveau
Sierra Adams is a junior at Ohio University Chillicothe and will earn a Bachelor of Social Work next May, beginning graduate school shortly after. She currently works as a writing tutor on campus, most enjoying reflective, contemplative work inspired by personal experience. In her free time, she loves to travel and learn about other cultures, which will benefit her career as she engages with diverse populations.
Brea Michelle is a senior at Ohio University and is graduating this summer with a Bachelor in Criminal Justice. She is currently preparing to take the LSAT to apply to Ohio State University’s Law School in the fall and go on to complete a Masters in Law, with a focus in Criminology. She’s always loved writing and enjoys writing stories in her spare time. When not writing, she likes watching Netflix, reading, and hanging out with her hedgehog.
Janelle Coleman is a senior at Ohio University Chillicothe. She is inspired to write by the freedom that writing allows one to have, and she loves all things Disney.
Sarah C. Cook, Administrative Director - Graduate Medical Education at Adena Regional Medical Center, earned her BSEd from OUC in 2011. During her time at OUC, she was a Writing Center tutor. After undergrad, she taught at a local charter school for one academic year and eventually made the decision to change career paths and obtain her Master’s. She successfully completed her MHA in December 2016. She is a proud mother of a soon-to-be graduate of CHS. Her son, Cameron Cook, is on his way to Marietta College. She tries to find time to ground herself in nature and enjoys jotting down some free verse poetry from time to time.
LeeAnna Cox is a sophomore at Ohio University Chillicothe, majoring in Business Management Technology with plans entering the Applied Management Program this fall. This is her second year working on and editing the fiction section of Glass Enclosures. She has thoroughly enjoyed every second of this process; from exposure to all the flair and talent this campus has to offer, and even when Deb made her partake in writing prompts at meetings knowing very well that she doesn’t write.
Shea Daniels believes in sacred ground and neuroscience, which is to say, formalized and non-formalized ways of healing. She collects blue glass. Each April, she makes wild violet jelly.
Jarod Dove is a student at Ohio University Chillicothe, majoring in Middle-School Education, focusing primarily on English. Originally from Bainbridge, Jarod graduated from Paint Valley High School in 2001, devoting more than a decade to running a small local business as well as traveling the country as a customer service representative for a logistics company. Jarod also had a supervisory role in a manufacturing environment for a several years before deciding to pursue a career in teaching.
Megan Downing is a current student at Ohio University Chillicothe.
E. Paige Foraker is a senior at Ohio University Chillicothe, majoring in Communication Studies. She will be graduating in May of 2019. Along with writing, Paige enjoys performing on stage and reading. She has always loved writing as it has been a way for her to better explain how she feels or what she thinks. However, she never felt brave enough until now to share her work. It is her senior year; go big or go home, right?
Heidi Friesner-Fry is a current student at Ohio University Chillicothe.
Gina Gidaro lives in Londonderry, Ohio with her mother, stepfather, niece, and twenty-one animals. She studies Creative Writing and Studio Art at Ohio University. When she’s not reading, writing, or taking photographs, you can find her playing Resident Evil video games, binge watching TV shows or cleaning. Gina doesn’t know where she will be in ten—even five—years, but she does strive to travel a little bit and maybe, just maybe, publish a book or two.
Christianna Hines will be graduating this spring with an Associate’s of Arts and Humanities. She plans to pursue a Bachelor of Specialized Studies in English and Biology and a Master’s in writing and rhetoric. With her love of science, Christianna prefers to explore the world through nonfiction reading and writing. Additionally, she likes to clean the kitchen and do the dishes—for stress relief, of course.
Scott Jones is a current student at Ohio University Chillicothe.
April Kenison is a graduate of North Central State College, with an Associate of Applied Science-Human Services. She is a senior at Ohio University, in the Bachelor’s of Technical and Applied Studies program. April resides in the Clear Fork Valley (Richland County) with her daughter and is an eCampus student.
Miranda Lindsey is currently a tutor at the OUC Writing Center. She is pursuing a Bachelor’s in Middle Childhood Education with concentrations in Language Arts and Social Studies. She hopes to one day teach fifth grade Language Arts and possibly work towards earning a Master’s degree. When she is not in class or doing homework, she enjoys reading.
Kyle Lundy is a Middle Childhood Education Major, with a focus in ELA and Social Studies. He works at the OUC Writing Center as a tutor. Kyle hopes to get a Master’s to teach high school English. Outside of school and work, Kyle likes reading and writing.
Bryce Martins is a current student at Ohio University Chillicothe.
Brian Mershon is a senior at Ohio University Chillicothe. Currently, Brian’s inspiration for writing comes from his weekly assignments for his classes. He has been working on a fictional children’s book for years, which he might finish one day and become a famous, very rich writer. He loves to eat, play guitar, sing, and walk his three dogs.
Sabrina Pirtle came to OUC twelve years after graduating with honors from East Literature Magnet High School in her hometown of Nashville, TN. She began writing poetry at the age of eight, short stories at the age of ten, journalism in high school, and technical writing for aviation maintenance manuals while serving active duty in the U.S. Navy. In addition to college and writing, Sabrina spends her time raising four strong-willed children, painting, lurking in coffee shops, singing loudly and off-key in the shower, attending PTSD therapy, advocating for human rights, and making obscure, geeky references no one understands.
Travis Ray currently works as an auditor for a local CPA firm. He has an Associate’s degree in accounting and is currently working towards his Bachelor’s in the same field. Art, such as music or literature, is very important to him and he can usually be seen in his free time playing a guitar or reading a book. Travis is also an active member of his church (Centerpoint) and can be seen on most Sundays playing bass with the worship team.
Madison Stant is a current undergraduate student at Ohio University Chillicothe. She received her Associate’s degree in Child Development in 2018. She is now seeking a Bachelor’s degree in Applied Management. She prefers creative writing over all. In her spare time, she enjoys being an actress. In the summer of 2019, she is attending a showcase for her acting talent. She enjoys learning new things and takes any opportunity to do so. She also enjoys spending time with her fiance and family. During her life, she hopes to make an impact in the world, and to never stop dreaming big.
Erica Turner is graduating in May of 2019 from the Social Work program and plans to continue to Athens for her MSW in Fall 2019. Her writing history is small; she participated in Power of the Pen while in junior high where she went to the state level. This is the first time she has even submitted a piece for a publication! She is elated to be a part of Glass Enclosures, especially the mental health publication as that is an issue near and dear to her heart.
Seth Turner is an alumnus of Ohio University’s Political Science program, obtaining a Bachelor of Arts in 2017. He currently lives and works in the Chillicothe area. His research interests include political postmodernism, globalization, American politics, and constitutional law. He intends to return to Ohio University in autumn of 2019 to pursue a Masters of Arts in Law, Justice and Culture.
Sarah V. Uhrig is currently a junior pursuing English at Ohio University Chillicothe. At OUC, she works as a librarian assistant, writing tutor, and bookseller at Wheatberry Books. She needs space for voice, self-expression and lots of coffee! Sarah's heart rebels against her through poetry—revealing someone underneath sounds and metaphor. Like her art, it is double-sided. Someday she dreams of going to grad school and becoming an English professor. College has taught her to keep writing to ghosts who listen. Sarah is honored to have been a part of Windows Beyond Shattered Synapses. She loves all her friends at OUC's Writing Center.
B. Layne Weaver has been an avid reader for most of her life and has taken a few stabs at writing as well. Aside from writing, her most recent creative outlet is podcasting, in which she pairs up her geeky side and her love of reading by exploring the books of certain fandoms. Stories such as "Twilight on the Prairie" are a pairing of her enjoyment of writing as well as her interest in history.
Jennifer Woods grew up and resides in Fayette County, Ohio with her husband, Casey, and their fur-babies: a dog named Red, a pup named Pearl, and a black-cat named Salem. She has an Associate of Arts from Southern State Community College. She’s worked in healthcare and education but is currently employed as a reporter. Jennifer has an interest in bettering her local community and seeing the OUC campus grow. She’s the first president of OUC's Creative Writing Club and is spearheading a student-led movement "Revitalize The Arts at OUC" to improve educational opportunities and student support of one another.
Submit all written work both electronically and in hard copy (art will need to be converted digitally, see below) to the OUC Writing Center between Monday, August 27th and no later than Wednesday, February 27th during normal operating hours.
The following format files are acceptable for documents: Microsoft Word and Rich Text Format. We will not accept PDF files. MLA is preferred. Art submissions must be converted to digital formats; query the Writing Center to negotiate specifics.
Multiple submission are welcomed, but only two pieces per writer will be published. Follow a 2500-word limit for written work.
A Writers' Workshop, by invitation, will follow the deadline. Writers and artists will be notified of acceptance to the journal via email.
Upon notification of acceptance, submit a brief bio including name, major, writing experience, and notes of interest. Aim for 50-100 words written in third person.
The Fishbowl Writing Center
at the Stevenson Center, Ohio University Chillicothe
101 University Drive
Chillicothe, Ohio 45601