Saturday, August 13, 2011

Issue One, Volume Two

From the Desk of the Editor,
     Hello and welcome to the first installment of Volume Two. Today marks the One Year Anniversary of Larks Fiction Magazine! To celebrate we featuring two works of independent experimental literature! Thank you for reading and for being a great community--we literary (litera-ture-ary?) could not have done it with out all of you.
     In news we are almost ready to begin our Smashwords publishing. We will be contacting writers from Volume One to see who wants to join. This also means that this week we should be starting to contact artists about creating covers.
     I hope you enjoy the reads and happy anniversary!

Daniel J. Pool
Editor and Chief

By Karen Tran

Mr. Olly had the world's largest collection of shoes... from the deceased. He would wink, the folds of his crow's feet barely shifting, and cackle, "There be souls in them soles."

He would let me clean them and try them on. He taught me how to re-lace them in different ways: spider web, criss-cross, fish-bone, and so on. He taught me about the different kinds of polish and what the numbers on their tongues meant. When I inherited these shoes, mom wouldn't allow them in my room. I felt like Noah transporting the pairs to sanctuary at my secret clubhouse. They sat there for years until the day I started packing for college. Mr. Olly's slippers surfaced in my bed trunk, materializing as if by whimsy. They belonged with the rest of him.

The cacti had grown to dominate the area around the clubhouse, guarding the cache menacingly. A giant’s perspective clashed with a child’s memory; I squinted at the setting sun, hoping I would find my old hideout before nightfall. Dust rose in snake-like plumes from my sneakers shuffling the ground. A pink feather protruded from the earth. I pulled at the fronds, weeding out a silk ribbon still anchored to its ballet shoe. The sight of it evoked memories of the dancer and her estranged lover. Digging from there, I lifted the cardboard carcass of my old clubhouse. The mound of dirt slipped away.

The shoes greeted me in militaristic lines. The grinning soldier's boots now lay crumpled and lame, arching over the librarian's stilettos. Rusted bells adorned the infant booties nestled in the maw of dilapidated soccer cleats. I contemplated each pair, hearing their histories in Mr. Olly's doting murmur. They were grander than unmarked headstones; I did not have their names, but I had their stories. In their stitching, I saw his smile. In their toes, I saw his home.

I cleared a space in the center and planted his heels, sniffling a little as I worked. I replaced the cardboard, entombing them for the next life. The eyelid of the night slid shut as I backed away.

"There be souls in them soles," I whispered to him.

About the Author:
Karen is an avid foodie/gamer/SFF reader who, despite existing for a couple decades, has still not decided what she wants to be when she grows up. She is an aspiring writer with a mysteriously irrelevant past... 

How to Not Get What You Want
By Erika Duerksen

1.              Decide that you want to eat pizza for dinner. Tonight (Friday) is pizza night. Tactfully bring this up at least three times when your mother walks you hand-in-hand to the bus stop. Take your hand out of hers because you don’t want to hold hands. Continue to ask for pizza. Ignore your mother telling you that Bob, her boyfriend, will be taking you out to dinner. Ask again for pizza. Be ignored. Get used to this; this will happen often.
2.       Go to school. Sit through class. Pretend to listen. Think about lunch. Think about pizza. Spend the thirty-minute lunch period telling your friends that pepperoni pizza is the best. In gym, change this to sausage, bacon, and pepperoni because more meat is always better. It is also a sign of manliness. Billy Hays will call you out for inconsistency. In this event, you have several options:
a.       Wait until the game of dodge ball begins to throw the soft, red ball at his nose. Take careful aim, since this will determine your status as a master athlete for the remainder of your life.
b.      Decide to pounce on the insulter. Punch him in the arm. He will squeal and complain. Get sent to the principal’s office.
NOTE: This is a very poor idea, since you will, in all likelihood, go to bed without dinner (pizza or not). This is not recommended, even though it will be the most immediately rewarding emotionally.
c.       Laugh and inform him that the pepperoni is still there, but you just want other things too. This will make you sound intelligent (for an eight-year-old), but will not get you out of the change in opinion.
NOTE: The recommended option is a combination of (a) and (c), which will not only save your pride, but it will also ensure your future popularity, athletic prowess, and ability to successfully acquire a girlfriend.

3.       Get on the bus to go home. Continue to brag about your night with pizza. Listen to your stomach growl. Rifle through your backpack for a solution to this problem. Find a stick of string cheese that is warm, slightly gooey, and has been buried for an undisclosed and/or unknown period of time.
a.       If the package is open, tear off the part that is slightly stale and eat the rest.
b.      If the package is not open, open it and eat it.
NOTE: This may lead to several common side effects, such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, blurred vision, and/or cramping. However, this is unlikely since all fake cheese is hyper-pasteurized and probably isn’t cheese at all.

4.       Once inside your home, delay informing your mother of your arrival and immediately head to the kitchen. Decide to leave a subtle hint that you still want pizza, since your mother clearly had not heard you that morning. Find the jar of marinara sauce and put it on the counter, along with a stick of sausage. Take care when arranging these, as they must catch your mother’s eye, and yet not look as if they were placed there on purpose. Here are some tips for where to place this display:
a.       Do not put these in the refrigerator. The likelihood of your mother opening it before she is ready to make dinner is unlikely. Also, a new jar of marinara sauce does not belong in the fridge.
b.      The kitchen island, though visible, is a little too obvious. Leaving the objects there is the same as leaving the toilet seat up and proclaiming, “I, Malcolm, would like you to know that I am responsible for this.” Your mother does not like this, which is why you always leave the toilet seat up. This will not sway her opinions.
This location could also lead her to believe that she simply forgot to put those items away.
c.       In the sink is also a bad choice. The sausage, a vital ingredient to your plan, may fall into the disposal and be ground into smithereens. It could also get wet.
d.      Atop the oven is the best choice. Though your mother may question how the sausage got there, it will gather her attention at the oddity of its location and ensure that she understands. After all, the oven is necessary to pizza.

5.       Place the sausage and jar of sauce on the oven. Arrange them carefully, as you would a fine bouquet on a coffin or altar to the Virgin Mary/Jesus/etc.

6.       Do not be surprised when your mother walks in on you. She will ask you how your day went, not particularly caring, and then demand to know what you’re doing with the sausage for her breakfast casserole. Attempt to hide the evidence, despite being caught red handed, and feign innocence. Fail. When pressed, blurt an answer, preferably without too many “uh”s or “um”s and inform her that you wanted to help her make pizza tonight.

7.       Do not cry when your mother tells you that you are not going to be eating either of those things tonight and to put them back where you got them. She will tell you that Bob is still taking the family out to dinner. You do not like Bob, so this is unacceptable. He has been trying to do this for nearly two months and you have always found an excuse not to go since you don’t like Bob. He is not your father. Your father left for vacation three years ago and is still having fun in Tahiti. He is coming to get you when you’re old enough. Decide to wait for your father.

8.       Replace the pilfered food items and insincerely apologize for taking them out.
NOTE: This is not an admission of defeat, but rather an attempt to make your mother happy enough with you to convince Bob to take you to pizza.

9.       Ask what’s for dinner. Pray to God (or any other deity, Ceres being a particularly good choice) for pizza. Complain vehemently when she tells you, again, that Bob is taking the family out for dinner. Inform her that tonight is pizza night and that, if Bob wants to be your new Dad, he will have to buy you pizza. Do not say that you are a vegetarian or of any non-meat eating religion (Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, or Judaism, as examples), since you want pepperoni, sausage, and bacon pizza and all three must be present to fill your craving. Your mother will also know that you are lying because you are Catholic.

10.   Get sent to your room for talking back. Be told loudly that she and Bob are happy and that he is going to be part of your family whether you like it or not. Be ordered to do all your homework. Ignore her. You are in second grade. You have better things to do than study for a spelling test. The hardest word you have to spell is “couch”. C-O-W-C-H. Duh.

11.   Wait until your mom leaves at 4.30pm to sneak downstairs and have a snack. By this time, your sister should be home and watching TV with her boyfriend. They will not actually be watching TV, but instead be tangled in a single lump on the couch making odd squelching noises with their mouths. Taunt them. You are the younger brother. This is your duty and privilege. Appropriate comments (and reactions from both guilty parties) are as follows:
a.       YOU: Ew! Gross!
HER: Get lost, Malcolm! This is private.
YOU: It’s my living room, too, you know.
HIM: Beat it, kid. I’m the quarterback. I’m a senior.
NOTE: At this, you should go and kick HIM somewhere extremely uncomfortable (the genital region is recommended), as your sister is fifteen. Consorting with an eighteen-year-old is illegal, though you do not know this.
b.      YOU: Elizabeth and Mickey sitting in a tree. K-I-S-S-I-N-G! First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes—
HER: His name’s not Mickey! He’s soooo last week. This is Nick. He’s a quarterback.
YOU: Weren’t the last two, too?
HIM: Beat it, kid. I’m a senior.
Refer to NOTE in (11.a) for appropriate reaction to HIM.

12.   Make popcorn. Entertain yourself by throwing most of it at Mickey/Nick and your sister. Ignore their protests and continue the barrage until you are out of ammo.
NOTE: This is an unlikely event, as your sister and/or the quarterback will probably get up and chase you around the house. We recommend finding a good hiding place where they cannot reach you, such as an attic or tree house with rope ladder.

13.   Escape the clutches of the quarterback and your sister by wriggling into the crawlspace beneath the front porch. Ignore the spiders. They creep girls out and therefore are cool.

14.   Watch with smug pride as Mickey/Nick storms off into his ’67 Mustang. You will not know what kind of car it is now, but you will remember in later years and wish that you had it once you understand the effect of certain automobiles on the female species’ willingness to consort with you. You will understand when you are fifteen or sixteen and still remember that care when you are thirty.

15.   Ignore your sister’s shouts, screams, and curses that she will kill you. Such insults are due to hormonal imbalance, which will be rectified after she has left menopause. Exit the crawlspace after you are certain she is safely in her room crying and/or speaking to her best friend about how evil you are. Collect two to four spiders in your hands. Run upstairs and place the spiders inside her door. Move the laundry hamper in the hallway to stop her from opening the door and lean against it for good measure. Listen to her screams with pleasure. Remain blissfully unaware that you care making her arachnophobic and that her door opens to the inside. Fall into her room when she opens the door.

16.   Run back to the crawlspace and flick spiders at her to keep her from strangling you. Decide to take over the world using an army of mutant spiders or becoming Spider-Man. Wait there in the semi-darkness until your mother returns at six-thirty.

17.   Be disappointed because Bob is driving your mother’s car. Slowly come out of the crawlspace when Bob honks the horn. Get into the car without brushing the dirt off your pants, hands, and elbows. Tell your mother that Elizabeth was kissing a boy again on the sofa. Watch in shock as your mother only giggles and squeezes Bob’s hand like a ketchup bottle.

18.   Be defensive when your sister says that you put spiders in her room. Shift blame about the spiders in your sister’s room. Lie and say that the spiders snuck in there, ten at a time (you sister has exaggerated the story for effect; mimic this technique). Be surprised when Bob snickers and tells you that he did the same thing to his sister. Decide that maybe Bob has one okay thing going for him.
NOTE: This will be the first of many such admissions. Don’t be disappointed; it’s just part of life to find that people you don’t really like are, as a matter of fact, okay and/or cool.

19.   Get to the restaurant. It will be slightly run-down and titled “Hong Kong King” with Chinese letters next to it. Ask why there are funny doodles next to the name. Look at Bob questioningly when he tells you that it is Chinese writing. Ask how they can read it. Laugh when he says that he has no idea.

20.   Trudge inside and think of ways to complain. Be too distracted by the cool décor (cats with bobbing hands, red and gold paper lanterns, painted landscapes, and weird string music) to actually complain. Point at a picture of a crane and ask why there are painted geese on the wall. Make Bob laugh. Make your mother laugh. Make your sister roll her eyes.

21.   Sit down to dinner. Be forced to sit next to Bob. Grin when he lets you order a Mountain Dew.
NOTE: Bob will be becoming infinite cooler in your mind, especially since your mother never lets you get a fountain drink when eating out. You may not like the idea of Bob coming in and being your father, but it will not be the end of the world since Bob is, in fact, a cool guy and will not try and be your father unless you want him to be.

22.   Have an Asian waitress wearing a white collared shirt, black pants, bowtie, and apron come to your table. You will not be able to tell if they are actually Chinese or Mongolian or something else. Think they are American until she starts talking. Snicker at the fact that she can’t pronounce her “l”s very well. Don’t listen to your mother when she tells you that it’s rude and racist (whatever that is) to laugh like that. Listen to Bob when he tells you that your mother is right. Apologize to the waitress and ask if they have pizza. Make everyone laugh. Let Bob order everyone food. Accept Bob’s proposal to get you pizza later, so long as he lets you have an entire pizza to yourself.
NOTE:  Negotiating like this is critical to your acceptance of him anywhere into your life. You cannot let him think that he has the upper hand.

23.   Wait for half an hour. Munch on the deep-fried noodle-cookie things that are on the table. Be afraid to dip them in the clearish, orange sauce (duck sauce) until your sister antagonizes you for being a chicken. Do not listen to her and try the sauce. Like the sauce. Steal the blue and white porcelain bowl of it and make Bob laugh as you try and hide it from him and everyone else.

24.   Be served brown rice with carrots, peas, tiny corn-on-the-cobs, onion, and rubbery egg. Stare at the barbeque chicken nugget-like things seeping reddish-brown sauce into the rice. Smell it tentatively. Do not admit that it smells good.  Ask what it is. Ask again when the answer sounds Chinese. Make Bob laugh instead of answering.  Complain loudly that you wanted pizza. If necessary (which it will be), add you don’t like any of this weird Chinese stuff. Lie and tell your mother that you did try it, even though she probably knows that you have not. When threatened to be sent to bed without dinner, mutter “obscenities” beneath your breath. Since you are sheltered and eight, you are limited to things such as “stupid idiot” or “dumb-butt”, though you are welcome to throw in the worst two words you know (“crap” and “damn”) if you are willing to risk having your mouth washed out with soap and/or being grounded. Don’t worry: You will learn more insults as you age and become exposed to media, teenagers, and college students.

25.   Gape as Bob intervenes on your behalf. Feel pleased that he would take your side. Agree when Bob promises to take you out to pizza, just you and him, if you don’t like Chinese food, but you have to promise to try at least three pieces of everything, since you can’t know if you like something until you’ve had three bites. Do not see Bob lean in and whisper something to your mother which makes her smile with tears in her eyes.

26.   Pick up the two sticks next to your plate and stare at them for a minute. Wonder why there wasn’t a fork, knife, or spoon there instead. Ask what they are and be told that they are chopsticks. Ask why anyone would use “crapsticks” to eat food. Make Bob laugh and offer to ask for a fork and knife for you. Refuse. You need to prove yourself to him. Glare at your sister when she smirks at you and grandiosely uses them to shovel rice into her mouth. Laugh when she drops a chicken lump into her lap and/or loses almost all of her rice down her shirt. Repeat as necessary.

27.   Watch your mother carefully and attempt to replicate her movements with the sticks. This will be difficult. The pieces of meat will be large and need to be cut. Stab the meat in a slightly straight line in an attempt to cut it. Fail. Feel Bob watching you.  Attempt to use the stick as a knife. Fail again. Do not be disappointed. There is always silverware for you to use, if you ask. Eye Bob’s spoon like it’s your savior. Protest when Bob asks the waitress for a set of silverware for you.

28.   Resort to using your fingers to eat. Get told off by your mom. Watch angrily as the waitress puts a roll of silverware next to you. Pick up another piece of food with your fingers. Refuse the help of a fork, when offered by Bob/ordered by your mother. Pick up the chopsticks again. Be creative in their use. Hold one stick in eat hand, impale the piece of chicken with each, and raise it to your mouth. Eat as a corndog. Drop it twice. Ignore your sister’s laughter and taunts of, “Who’s the loser now?” and continue. Assure your mother that you can figure this out with the tried-and-true phrase of, “I got this.”

29.   Discover that the chicken isn’t actually chicken, but rather pork. Discover that it is spicy. Complain. Be told to eat three pieces and get pizza or be sent to bed without supper. Talk back. Play the quiet game.

30.   Eventually succeed in eating three pieces of food. Like it, but say that you still want pizza. Decide that there is no point in trying to do anything with the rice lest you embarrass yourself and give your sister the opportunity to laugh at you. Smile when Bob agrees to take you to pizza after dinner. Feel a surge of self-confidence and victory when Bob immediately asks for the check.

31.   Win the quiet game as your sister burps and excuses herself. Point, laugh, and taunt her appropriately (see 11.a.YOU-1, for details). Gloat at your victory and ask what you won. Be given a plastic wrapped, crescent shaped, hollow cookie. Stare at it. Wonder why there’s a white and red, cartoonish cat printed on one side and a circular, gridded, coin-like design on the other. Tentatively open the packet and smell the thing inside. Recognize the scent of sweet cookie with a lemony kick. Decide it could be tasty.

32.   Remove the cookie from its pack and raise it up to bite into it. Drop it when your mother and sister shout at you not to eat it yet. Listen as they tell you to break it open because it’s a fortune cookie and will tell you something deep, wise, and/or important about your future. Break it open and pull the halves apart. Stuff one half of the cookie into your mouth as you read the paper slip. It should read, You are gifted on one side and Your lucky numbers: 1 9 13 45 69 on the other.

33.   When begged to read your fortune aloud, do. Wonder why Bob and sister are snickering. Ask. When informed that you are too young to understand, press and inform that you are mature for you age. This is a lie. You are an eight-year-old-boy. You are incapable of being mature.

34.   Convince your sister to tell you. She will take pride in corrupting you and tell you to add the line, “in bed” to the fortune. Re-read your fortune as, You are gifted in bed. Do not understand why Bob and sister laugh even harder and your mother snorts in protest but still blushes. Declare fortune cookies as stupid and eat the other half. Say that you like how they taste.

35.   Listen to your mother’s fortune of, Great wealth is coming to you. Laugh too loudly. They will not laugh, but instead say, “Well, that doesn’t really work, unless you’re sleeping your way to the top.” Ask what bunk beds have to do with wealth. Make them laugh. Wonder what’s so funny. Decide to make your own joke about it. Listen to your sister’s fortune of, Space monkeys like ice cream. Wonder what that has to do with anyone’s future. Laugh at the idea of space monkeys stealing your sister’s ice cream. Listen to Bob’s fortune of Great happiness is coming your way. Complain loudly when he kisses your mother’s cheek and squeezes her hand. They are embarrassing you on purpose, so you have every right to protest. That is a parent(s) job.

36.   Get into the car to drive home. Be offered the front seat next to Bob. Accept. Watch your sister pout in the back. Feel empowered. Sit in silence until you’re in the driveway. Wait when Bob asks you to have a man-to-man talk. Feel proud to be put on his level.

37.   Talk to Bob. Be disappointed when Bob tells you that your mother won’t let him take you to pizza tonight. Complain. Accept his apology and make him promise to take you later. Wait impatiently for Bob to stop talking about how he really likes your mother and cares about her. This mushy stuff is for high schoolers and girls. Tell Bob that girls are supposed to have cooties. Don’t understand when he tells you that you’ll get over it. Gape when he tells you that he wants to marry your mother. Don’t believe it. Only your father would want to marry your mother. Listen as Bob tells you that your mother also wants to marry Bob. Tell him that it isn’t true because your mother is waiting for your father. Argue when Bob tells you that your mother knows what’s best for her, not someone who hasn’t been around. Like Bob a little less. He is arguing with you. This is not good. Feel startled when Bob asks your permission to marry your mother. Don’t give it.

38.   Get out of the car and run upstairs to bed. Crawl under the covers. Think about Bob. Think about Bob and your mother. Try not to think about Bob and your mother. Like Bob. Hate Bob. Don’t know what to do with Bob. Decide to give Bob one more chance since he has to take you to get pizza. Decide to make 69 your lucky number. Try to figure out what it means to be gifted in bed. Decide that it involves getting presents in bed. Fall asleep wishing your dad was there. Know that he isn’t there and Bob is.

About the Author:
Ms. Duerksen is a recent graduate from Virginia Tech’s Creative Writing and Agricultural Economics programs. She has never been published, since until recently she has only written novel-scale stories. She enjoys writing stories in non-traditional, odd formats, such as how-to guides, author biographies, and product warning labels. She has three dogs who can all jump six-foot fences and loves Vanilla Wafers. She lives in Virginia.

     Thank you for joining us in this very special issue of Larks Fiction Magazine and I hope you will join us in two weeks with the next installment. Also remember that starting next month we will be switching to weekly issues! So come back and see us again!

No comments:

Post a Comment