From the Desk of the Editor;
Hello and welcome to Larks Fiction Magazine! In this issue we study the fantastic realistically and the realistic fantastically. Today we study life through literature of every day life.
Slowly but surely we are thinning out our back log. We hope to reply to everyone soon but don't be afraid to inquire.
In big news we have finished editing Quentin Pongratz's book “Del City Nights” and will be publishing it as soon as the cover art is finished. We are pretty excited for our very first novel publication and hope to have copies for sale soon!
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Daniel J. Pool
By Mercedes Lucero
1. the part of us that couldn't last.
mid-June; Our bodies were like magnets drawn to each other, to the way we moved, to the way our chests rose and fell, to the way our eyes met for brief moments before they lost each other, to the way our bodies looked when we were awake , wilting away in the naked summer sun, and to the way our bodies looked when we slept quietly, like we were dead.
1. the things we never used.
late-June; We never spoke about our lives. I never asked you about your mother. You never asked me about my favorite type of day. We learned to speak to each other in shades of dark blues and burnt oranges. Alone in our rooms we would feel the way our bodies felt in the darkness speaking to each other in a kind of sexual hypnosis, pretending our own skin was the others.
electricity [ih-lek-tris-i-tee ]
1. what we created.
early July; Perhaps it was the way we moved together like waves in the ocean. We were tides rising to the shore and falling back gently. Perhaps it was the way we were travelers swimming across each others skin like we were whales searching for the surface.
1. things we found on each others skin.
nights in July; We became astronomers when we dragged our fingers across the soft parts of each others spines. We found moles and connected them together like they were stars. I collected the stars from your body and spread them across my eyelids thinking perhaps it wouldn't be so bad to see what the world looked like without darkness.
1. what we fell into.
mornings in July; It was after the intoxication from each others saliva that we noticed our bodies turning into phantoms haunting the the caves beneath our tissues. We dreamed in silence, built houses out of empty shadows that stretched across us like blankets but didn't keep us warm.
1. what we became to each other.
late July; It's because we were afraid, because we sensed the fear on the other like a perfume. It's because we only lived in darkness to each other, because we were afraid the light could expose us. Because we weren't sure we wanted to hear the others heartbeat. Because we disguised affection for attention. Ours was a connection of pure mechanics.
1. how we finally left each other.
September; It was how the pieces of us we'd left on each others skin began to flake off like snowflakes. You watched as I tried to gather them from the floor before they dissolved into nothing. It was long days that turned to nights turning to days rolling over and over again into the things we never said. It was feeling the way you left the smooth parts of my thighs possessed, gripping the flowered hallways of my body.
1. the permanent state we are now in.
forever; It's the way we will remain constant to each other, a tragic metronome in each others minds. It wasn't that we didn't want more from each other, we did. But there were too many gaps we couldn't fill. There are days when I am in the process of forgetting the way you slid your hands over me
like you were feeling wallpaper for bubbles, but then the breath you left in pores on my skin
whispers something I cannot hear and blows them away.
About the Author;
Mercedes Lucero blurs the boundaries of form with experimental storytelling. She have previously been published in North Central Review, Whitefish Review, and Burner Mag. She is currently a first-year MFA student at Northwestern University. She lives, loves and writes in Evanston, IL.
The Water Cycle
by Melanie Cordova
Megan liked the way Charlie smacked his gum. As she waited by her cubby after recess, she watched him pull a warm crumpled stick of Wrigley from his back pocket and peel the wrapper off with dirty fingers. She even liked the way he bit off just a small chunk of the stick at a time until only a few centimeters were left, then added the rest to the wad in his mouth. The gum was juicy and a stream of saliva dripped from the corner of his lips.
“Miss Wells, pay attention, please.”
Megan flushed and turned back to Mr. Wurthers, her fourth grade science teacher. Her partner Chrissy, who sat next to her, giggled and poked Megan with her elbow.
“I am paying attention,” said Megan, her face growing hotter. She wanted to push Chrissy away from her and run out the door. Instead she straightened her back and pinched her thumb, trying not to look at Charlie.
Mr. Wurthers raised his very white, very thin eyebrows. “Oh? Then perhaps you can repeat what I just explained?”
Megan frowned into her lap and brushed a lock of her brown hair behind her right ear. “Pre—um—precipitation.” She heard a muffled giggle from behind her and out of the corner of her eye saw classmates turning to look at her red face.
She paused. Mr. Wurthers put his pointer beneath his armpit and crossed his arms.
“The water cycle,” said Mr. Wurthers, turning back to the board, “is the way the Earth recycles its water. Plant life like trees and vegetables play their part. We—”
Megan felt her ears turn pink and didn’t hear the rest of his lecture. She tore her eyes from her lap to steal a glance at Charlie. He smiled and she could see the pink wad of gum between the gap in his front teeth. Last week he stepped on her untied shoelace and tripped her. The week before that he threw an eraser at her head. And at the beginning of the school year Charlie brought two miniature cars to play with during recess, which is when Megan realized she liked him, even after he stuck his chewed gum in the convertible car and pretended it was a person. She quickly looked away and settled on Chrissy’s notes. On her paper was a diagram of the water cycle in sparkly green ink. She’d also drawn a rainbow with her gel pens but accidentally smeared it over the word evaporation. It just said ration now.
Liberty Elementary sat tall on a hill in the center of town. At three-o-clock children burst from its wide glass doors like liquid from a popped water balloon. Steps wound down the hill alongside the street and Megan played with the yellow fringe on her scarf with one hand and held on to the railing with the other. She hummed to herself.
As she made her way down step by step, she heard a familiar smacking sound. She turned around and saw Charlie walking behind her. He waved hi.
Megan thought about the big storage bin filled to bursting with miniature cars in her attic. Her palms dampened and she rubbed the moisture on her scarf. Her heart raced as she said the line she’d been practicing for weeks:
“You wanta come play cars with me?”
He stopped a few steps above hers. His red hair stuck out beneath his hat over the ears. He sniffled. “Yeah okay. Gotta be home by five though. Mom said I have to pick up the dog poop.”
They reached the bottom of the hill and went off together down the cold bright streets. Megan lived just two blocks away from Liberty in tall row houses. The one where she lived with her father and pet lizard Lizzy was the second one down the line. In between the sidewalk and the avenue at least a dozen trees lined the street, each reaching for the gray sky like stretching gymnasts. Their branches waved in the chilly breeze and the leaves chattered as they walked by.
“You’re gonna love them,” said Megan, pulling Charlie up the walkway to her porch. “I’ve got tons. Dad let me pick some new ones out for my birthday, too.”
She pushed open the door and left Charlie on the landing while she ran into the living room, shouting out the back window. “Dad? I got a friend over! We’re going up to the attic to play!” When a muffled voice answered her from the backyard she went over to her terrarium and plucked Lizzy off a rock, knocking the lizard’s newly-shed skin to the side. She cradled her in her hands as she ran up four stories of stairs with Charlie to the top room, the row house’s attic and Megan’s playroom.
Megan handed Lizzy to Charlie. “Be careful, ‘kay? And don’t pull her tail.”
Charlie sniffed the lizard as she crawled over his hands. Megan rushed to a shelf, grabbed her big box of miniature cars, and dumped its contents over the floor by the window. The plastic cars spilled over one another in a mountain up to her waist.
“Whoa. That’s a lot of cars,” said Charlie. He grabbed a red racecar with a yellow stripe along its side and met her at the window, where she set up a street along the sill.
“Three car pile up,” she said, knocking a tow truck and a mini Toyota into the windowpane. The plastic clicked against the glass.
“The rescue was going peacefully until Lizard Kong showed up.” Charlie put Lizzy on the sill. She took one slow step backwards, away from the racecar.
Megan giggled and reached for more cars. Charlie smacked his gum. Outside dark clouds gathered far above the tips of the trees. Their attic window was level with the treetops, which swayed silently behind the pane as the wind picked up. One heavy raindrop struck the glass as Lizard Kong wreaked havoc.
Together they created a road of old jackets and bandanas so that they could race their mini vehicles. Megan chose a tow truck and Charlie grabbed a Jeep.
“On your mark,” said Charlie. “Get set. Go!”
They raced on hands and knees along the arm of the jacket and over the zipper at the collar. Their limbs pounded on the rough carpet of the attic like unsteady horses. Near the end of the race by the bandana on the shelf Charlie said, “And he goes up a ramp!” and lifted his car to the finish line.
“Hey, there’s no ramp there,” said Megan, out of breath.
He nodded. “Yeah there is—it’s this pencil on the carpet, see?”
“We didn’t put that in the rules.”
He frowned. “You don’t need rules to play with cars, do you?”
She pursed her lips. This isn’t how she imagined this day would go. If he always cheated it wouldn’t be as fun. “I guess not,” she said.
He spun the wheels of his Jeep with his pinky as she sat back and tucked her legs beneath her. “Okay, we can have a do-over.” He looked up at her. “Do-over?”
Megan grinned and they clambered over to the starting line again. Charlie finished first once more but this time Megan didn’t mind. She crawled to the mountain of cars and scooped a handful as if she were drinking from her palms. Then she dumped the cluster in front of her and picked through them. A truck. Another Jeep, blue this time. An ambulance. Two race cars with flames. A big-rig.
“You gave a good answer in Science today,” said Charlie as he put another car in front of Lizzy on the windowsill.
Megan grinned. “Yeah well I know a lot about that stuff.”
He nodded. “Doesn’t Mr. Wurthers have a big head? Me and Peter are always talkin’ about it.”
Megan’s heart pumped faster. When she wasn’t playing or talking cars it was hard not to suck air nervously through her teeth around Charlie.
“Huh-huh-huh yeah.” She pushed her ambulance into the carpet. “Like a hot air balloon head.”
Charlie giggled at this and his cheeks flushed. Megan hur-hurred again. Lizzy rocked forward and backward on the sill. Three raindrops on the window pane came together and sped toward the bottom. The sky darkened.
“Thanks for letting me play,” said Charlie.
Megan smiled. “It was fun. You’re good at cars.”
They stood beneath a tree just across from her row house. Thunder grumbled in the distance. The white houses washed out against the sky.
“Lizzy probably shouldn’t be outside,” Megan said. She held out her hands and Charlie put the lizard in them. She tucked her in her yellow scarf.
“You going to school tomorrow?” Charlie said. Now that he wasn’t holding the lizard he shoved his hands in his pockets against the cold.
Megan nodded and felt her cheeks flush.
“We could be partners if Mr. Wurthers lets you change seats.”
“Yeah okay. Chrissy just draws all over our homework.” She thought of the ration glitter pen on their paper and got an idea to spell out the word with her cars, which they’d left splayed across the attic carpet, waiting like little landmines for Megan’s dad’s feet.
Charlie started walking home but after a few steps he turned around. “You want some gum?”
Megan smiled. “You have some extra?”
He shook his head no and walked back over to her. He reached into his mouth and pulled out an enormous wad of gum. He bit it in half but some of it got stuck between the gap in his front teeth. He handed her the half in his dirty fingers. “You can have half of mine.”
She tilted her head and looked at the bulbous pink mass. She wondered how much flavor was left in it.
“Yeah okay.” She took it from him and popped the gum in her mouth. It felt waxy on her tongue.
Thunder rolled. They looked up at the sky. High and far above the treetops dark clouds dropped snow over the city. Before the snow reached the top of the tall houses it melted into rain. And before the rain reached the branches of the tall trees it faded into mist. Before the mist reached Megan and Charlie it dissipated in the cold wind.
About the Author;
Melanie Cordova is currently a PhD student in English at Binghamton University studying creative writing fiction. She received her MA from New Mexico Highlands University with a creative thesis, a magical realist novella set in early twentieth century southwestern Russia.
The Headless Girl
by Beth J. Whiting
Kimberly was a headless girl. She wore a dress made of purple yarn. She went to a school for misplaced people. The school was way out in the middle of nowhere. A bunch of people went there. For example, people who had toes for ears or people who had two mouths. They secluded themselves in the school..
Kimberly was nine years old. She knew everyone from the boy named Emerson who had a hand in his face to Lindsey, the girl who had three feet. She liked them and all. But she was getting restless.
The school didn’t know it. But Kimberly had taken the hobby of long distance running. She would sneak out when people were asleep and the coast was clear. . She then would run for at least an hour.
Kimberly had been doing it for a while. She never thought that something would go wrong as she always quietly entered back through the glass and back in one of the hundreds of bunk beds.
Yet one night as she was running, she ran into something. Kimberly then heard the thing crying. Then it screamed.
It was a little boy.
“You’re Sleepy Hollow!”
“Do I have a horse?”
The boy’s voice loosened. He was still shaky but less frightened.
“You are a girl without a head.”
“That is obvious.”
“How do you speak?”
“I don’t know. No one knows why.”
He thought it was strange. She thought it was odd herself. Seeing a human boy around her age with just one nose, two eyes, no problems. It was unsettling to her. He was a redhead with freckles. He was in his pajamas in the moment.
“Why are you up anyway? It’s late.”
“I have a problem getting to sleep. I usually just sit out here and watch the stars.”
“So what’s your name?”
“You don’t look very happy.”
“Not really. I haven’t been for years.”
Happy what an odd name she thought. His parents must not have been thinking.
“My name is Kimberly.”
“How did you lose your head?”
“I was just born this way.”
“How did they know you were alive?”
“I had a heartbeat. My parents didn’t know what to do with me. It wasn’t like they could show me off.”
“But they love you right?”
“No. That’s why they shipped me off to a boarding school as soon as I was old enough. It’s a boarding school for freaks. I’m friends with a boy who has a hand in his face. Things like that are ordinary. So seeing you is kind of strange.”
“How’s it like being in a boarding school for freaks?”
“Interesting. You meet a number of peculiar characters. The leaders of the boarding school are a bit scary though. How is a normal school like?”
“I don’t know. It’s pretty much just bullies and snobs..”
She took a break and decided to ask something risky.
“How would you like to be friends with a headless girl?”
“I’d like it actually.”
Kimberly was excited about being friends with a normal boy. It made her feel like maybe she wasn’t so unusual after all. Besides it gave her a place to run to every night.
Kimberly asked the boy what he learned in school.
He said that he learned English, science, history, and math.
She asked about the history part.
“They don’t teach you history?” he asked.
“I guess they don’t think it is necessary. I mean it’s the history of your people. Since we don’t go outside the walls maybe they don’t think it’s important to us.”
“You really don’t go outside the walls.”
“No. I’m the only one who does. I think they do it so we think that there isn’t a world we’re missing out on. We do have a recess though. Since it’s the middle of nowhere it’s not likely that anyone would be gawking at us.”
He smiled to himself, “I’ll teach you history.”
He took his history book and started to read her stories that she’d never heard of.
When he taught her the Boston Tea Party, he had two cups of tea ready for them.
“I thought we would celebrate.”
Kimberly thought it was corny but she liked it at the same time.
She liked the tales of the traitors like Benedict Arnold and the duel of Aaron Burr.
Happy liked seeing her enthusiasm. He didn’t have that spunk. Maybe having at your fingertips had something to do with it.
He also heard that Kimberly didn’t have much access to literature.
She said that all they had in her school were Babysitter’s Club books. So he brought her The Secret Garden and A Little Princess. He stole them from his sister.. He didn’t much care for them but they were imaginative girly books. Kimberly adored them.
He told her once, “You know I’m beginning to forget you’re headless.”
“Thanks,” she said blushing. How could you do that?
Happy wanted Kimberly to try new things. That’s why he put his money aside for her to get chocolates or stuff like that.
Every time she tried a new candy bar it was like a new experience.
The first time Kimberly tasted chocolate she was in heaven. It wasn’t like that at the boarding school where she was fed only fruit and vegetables.
Happy was starting to have a crush on Kimberly when it happened.
Emerson, the boy who had a hand on his left cheek was on the top bunk one night. He woke up in the middle of the night. The room was surrounded by bunk beds full of children. It was dark.
Emerson tried to get back to bed but then he saw Kimberly get up from her bed. He saw her look around for caution and then climb out a window.
He decided to follow her immediately.
Now it was against rules to leave the school premises but Emerson had to know what Kimberly was doing. What would make Kimberly break the big rule? The rule that was repeated a hundred times a day: Do not go into the outside world.
So he followed her. It was hard. Kimberly was in shape and he was not.
Emerson ran through grass and mud. He had a hard time breathing. He was far away enough from Kimberly for her to not hear him breathing. Yet he was near enough not to lose her. Sweat dripped all over his body.
He wasn’t insulted by any of this. He could understand the need to want to be outside, not cooped in the school. That was why recess was his favorite part of the day. However, when he saw her with the human boy it was something different. She was laughing. She was practically flirting with him. It just wasn’t right.
The next morning Emerson went to the principal’s office to tell her off.
Emerson ended up getting detention because he admitted to being outside after hours. But from the expression on the principal’s face he could tell that Kimberly’s punishment was going to be far worse.
When Kimberly was called to the principal’s office, she really had no idea what it was about.
The look on the principal’s face told her though that it was going to be bad.
The room was dark. There was a desk and two chairs, one by her table and one for the student. There was a computer, a phone and white walls.
The principal wore a black suit and had black hair wrapped in a bun. She was scary. With her angry expression she looked like a villain.
Kimberly sat down and asked innocently, “What is this about?”
“You were seen outside at night with a normal last night.”
Kimberly was taken back. Who followed her?
“Do you know what the punishment for that here is?”
“Lots of detentions.”
“You should wish. I don’t know if you realize Kimberly but we are in desperate need of parts here. People have an eyeball missing. Give me the heart of the boy and we should be on good terms.”
Kimberly was shocked.
“But that’s cruel.”
“It’s the way things work around here.”
Kimberly sneaked off that night. She ran to Happy to tell him the problem.
She was crying, “Someone snitched on me.”
“They found out I’ve been sneaking out and they want me to do something unreal.”
“What do they want you to do?”
“Take your heart.”
He was horrified by this. He immediately became scared of her and stepped back.
“You aren’t going to do that?”
“Of course not.”
He was relieved.
“I’ve just got to find a way out of this.”
Kimberly spent the week thinking up things to do. If she gave her the heart of a toad would she notice?
In the end the principal became impatient and sent for Kimberly at once.
“Show me the heart,” she asked Kimberly.
On an impulse Kimberly ripped it out of her own chest.
“You can’t have his. But you can have mine.”
She ran out to meet Happy.
He was surprised to see her.
“So what happened?”
“I gave her my heart.”
“I figured that if I could live without a head I could live without a heart.”
“That was a risky decision.”
“That’s what friendships are for,” she said and smiled at Happy.
About the Author;
Beth J. Whiting was born in 1983 to a large family of brainy eccentrics. At eight years old she developed a love of books through the works of Roald Dahl and C.S. Lewis.
Her short stories revolve around underdogs in suburban settings, such as the one in which she was raised. She currently lives with her artistic twin sister in a tiny apartment in Mesa, Arizona.
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