From the Desk of the Editor;
Hello and welcome to another installment of Larks Fiction Magazine. In this issue we are uncovering the what it means to be apart of this modern world. In these three contemporary pieces about life in the post-post-modern world we have to stop and wonder, “What does meaning even matter if we transcend rational objectivity without faith?”
In news we are joining forces with a small town upstart coffee shop to sell copies of our magazine and forth coming merchandise. See our YouTube partner Filozophy for updates and videos as it develops.
We sincerely hope you enjoy this issue of Larks. If you like what you see remember to see our past editions as well as our emagazines available on Smashwords.com.
Daniel J. Pool
I Meant to Do Something Today
By: Arjan Ahluwalia
I meant to do my work today –
My iPhone keeps on screaming
Facebook, buzzing constantly
Twitter all around me, tweet, tweet
Email updates all day long
Pop-ups bouncing, Xbox tempting me
iTunes music on constant mode
Songs streaming endlessly
I feel so overloaded
Blogging, chatting, buying
Googling this, searching things
Bytes and bytes I see
Too much technology, all on overload
Texting her, writing on walls: lol, nvm, g2g
Face time, online, offline
Blogs clouding the mind
The T.V. roaring, radio blasting
Ear buds tangled
I meant to do my work today
But my mind is always spinning
Churning with so much technology
Oh how I wasted my day
About the Author
Arjan Ahluwalia is an aspiring pre-medical student at Virginia Tech University.
A Story of Summer and Winter
By Sheila Johnson
A group of local tribe members were at the pond, searching; Eddie could see them from the lot. Some of them were knee-deep in the water, flicking long-handled nets over the thick green froth on the surface. Other parted the reeds and the tall grasses near the shore as if they were trawling for milk-crate treasure at a flea market. Their tattoos screamed warnings at Eddie, the same way graffiti did whenever he passed certain blown-out scraps of buildings downtown. Something had told him that today would be a lousy day to go to the park.
But he couldn't think of anything else to do to wait away the last few hours until Violet's mother picked her up. Thinner now, quickly abandoning her baby fat, his little girl had to be collected from a place that went deeper into shadow every weekend he had custody of her. Ten years old, and she was already wearing all black. “We can get hot dogs and milkshakes and have a picnic in the park,” Eddie had suggested, to which Violet replied, “Die,” though she did accept a frozen banana.
Now, using her teeth to tear splinters from the frozen banana's stick, she stood with Eddie next to his car, and they both watched as the tribe members worked the nearby shore, where, once the city board discovered that the tribespeople made use of animal carcasses, it was more than happy to let the tribe assert jurisdiction and clean the park for free.
From among the reeds, a young man with ink creeping up his forearms in erratic zigzags hoisted what used to be a goose into the air and cheered. Except for some feathers and a few glistening bits of connective fiber, the carcass had been picked clean. Eddie had heard that there were coyotes in the area. The way that the man dangled the carcass for the rest of his group to see, grasping one wingtip in each hand, made Eddie think of an Olympic gymnast stalled in the middle of a fumbled routine on the rings. The man tossed the carcass into a bag held open by another pair of tattooed arms. Eddie saw a few smaller bones snap off and fall into the marsh grasses along the way. Sloppy dismount, he thought.
“Nice,” murmured Violet, nodding.
“Let's go sit by the trail head,” said Eddie, shaking his head free of intrigue and closing his arm around Violet's shoulders while he stared at the tribespeople. “There are some picnic tables over there.”
“Okay,” Violet said. She stepped away from his protective circle and headed for the monkey bars.
Eddie sighed as Violet skipped ahead of him. It was a sigh that gave voice to the question of What else can go wrong here? that cycled through his head. His phone rang; it was Julia, Violet's mother. His ex. He hit his phone against his forehead a few times. It continued to ring despite this. Turning away from Violet, he snapped open his phone and lurched over to an old bench that groaned when he sat on it, resigned to accepting all the weight that Eddie bore on his sagging frame.
“Hello, Julia,” he said. Once he sat down, he was again facing the monkey bars. Violet, however, was no longer anywhere in sight.
“We're fine,” he said into the phone, his voice tight as it escaped his throat, “everything's fine. Wait, what do you mean, 'early'? How early? That wasn't part of the arrangement, Julia.” Eddie gritted and grimaced his way through their negotiations; all the while, he sat perched at the edge of the bench, his glance shifting as he tried to determine where his daughter had decided to hide. Suddenly, he thought of the tribespeople, with their tattoos that clawed their way across skin. Eddie had heard that there were coyotes in the area. “Fine, Julia, four-thirty,” he said abruptly as he rocketed off the bench. “We'll see you then,” he added, though he had already shut his phone halfway through the sentence.
The park was a smaller one, even considering the pond and the playground and the path that wound around them like a figure eight. But the trees seemed taller than ever, maybe because Eddie couldn't find what he was looking for among them. Off the path, with the playground behind him, he darted from trunk to trunk like an anxious squirrel. The group of tribe members lingered at the shore, examining their haul in the distance to Eddie's left. He was about to approach them and ask if their search had netted them a dour ten-year-old girl when, from somewhere deep in the thicket to his right, he caught the plinks and tinks of an unusual song. He walked toward its source, the notes landing at his feet to form a path.
Once Eddie entered the thin golden light of the grove, the space between the trees opened like the pages of a fairy tale. A second group of tribe members had gathered here and settled in the clearing. Most of them were sitting on logs or leaf piles, though a few had claimed spots on quilts spread over the ground and were tapping their toes on the quilts' patches. The tribespeople who were sitting, and there were perhaps fifteen of them, were all playing instruments. Those who weren't sitting were dancing. In pairs, by themselves, though even the ones who danced alone seemed to move according to what the others were doing—all of them gave life to the strange music-box melody. Among the solo dancers, Violet was easily the youngest.
Eddie watched as his daughter shuffled in circles a few paces behind a middle-aged woman, who moved in her jeans and her oversized sweater as if she were crossing a ballroom floor in satin. Violet spun and swirled in the woman's footsteps; when the woman bent her arms, Violet did the same. In her black shirt and black leggings, she reminded Eddie of a shadow, except that she was smiling. And laughing. He couldn't recall hearing his daughter laugh as a ten-year-old before. To him, the sound was both bright and distant, a church bell in summer.
So astonished was Eddie by the sight of the smiling Violet and the bell-song of her delight ringing through the clearing that minutes passed before he gave more thought to the music that had called him there. His gaze eventually slid over to a cluster of musicians camped on a blanket, none of whom seemed to pay him any mind. They, depending on which one Eddie studied, were focused either on the dancers or on something beyond the dancers, something snaking between the fibers of the atmosphere like a message hidden in a pattern. Eddie couldn't see it, whatever it was; he imagined it written in the language that scrolled across their arms in ink. He could, however, see the instruments they used to coax it out, and those were familiar. Some were white, while others were ivory or yellow or nicked with brown; some resembled flutes in the way they were played, while others stirred Eddie's memories of the thumb piano his grandmother gave him when he was six. All of the instruments were long and cylindrical, or had long, cylindrical parts. With that observation, Eddie understood the instruments' familiarity.
He imagined one of the tribespeople holding an instrument between his outstretched arms, shaking it free of feathers. While he conjured that image, Violet twirled and giggled.
He wanted to snatch her wrist and pull her away from that horrible enclave then, away from those people who stripped carcasses of their flesh and played music on what remained. He in fact took the first twitchy steps toward doing so. But he hesitated after every one, because he could still see Violet, spinning like a winged maple seed. It was as if she were spinning time backwards, dancing now with the same giddiness that had animated her when she was five. Instead of approaching her, Eddie waited until one of the musicians on a nearby quilt rested the tiny rack of bone he had been playing on his knees and stretched his arms overhead. Eddie crept toward him.
“Excuse me,” Eddie whispered to the musician, who raised an eyebrow. “How much would you charge for one of those?”
Even the musicians who were still playing chuckled. “Our instruments? They're not for sale,” said the one on break.
“Please,” Eddie said. He cast a glance at Violet, who remained merrily unaware of his presence, and thrust a twenty from his wallet into the musician's face. “You have no idea what it would mean to her. See, I don't get to see her too much, only every few weekends, and—”
Violet's feet skidded into a tangle, and the music came crashing down behind her. There was a moment in which the silence was as tight as a string. Then, “God!” she huffed as she blew out of the clearing on a sudden gust.
No recriminations crossed the tribes people's faces, no looks of disgust or even an eyeroll, but Eddie still felt ashamed. A flicker of movement from below tugged at his vision: the musician to whom Eddie had spoken was reaching for the twenty-dollar bill with one hand and passing his instrument into Eddie's possession with the other. The man nodded, and Eddie relinquished the money so that he could better cradle the awful treasure. It looked like a series of open ribs connected to a spine that had been set in a curve; it disgusted him. The musician smiled and lifted his chin, indicating an opening between the trees, which Eddie ran to in search of his daughter.
He caught up to Violet at another old, creaky park bench next to the trail, where she stood leaning over the bench's back, her face rubbed raw and red like the skin around a scraped knee. She withered as Eddie approached but blossomed when, from behind his back, he produced the musical instrument. She looked from his face to the bundle of bones but made no move to take it. Eddie reached to touch the tip of one of the open rib bones. As carefully as if he were six years old, trying his thumb piano for the first time, he plucked it—
—and the instrument began to curl and writhe until it dropped from Eddie's hand. It twisted in the air as it fell, as if it were a living cat and not the remnants of a dead bird, but by the time it landed on the grass, it had sprouted what looked like the beginnings of wing and leg bones, as well as feathers along the ribs and spine. A few more shakes and shivers of its frame, and the skeletal instrument had transformed itself completely into an adult male mallard, webbed feet, proud green crest, and all.
The mallard squawked once at Eddie before opening its wings and taking off for the air above the pond.
“Figures,” muttered Violet, who crossed her arms and stomped off along the path.
“That... wasn't....” Eddie was still holding his hands apart, his fingers gently bent. Still expecting to cradle something. “Wait,” he called to Violet. “Wait right there. I'm going to go back and talk to them.”
She whipped around, held one hand out and open, and knotted the other one into a fist that she jabbed into her hip. “Give me the car keys,” she said. The look Eddie gave her was weak and wary. “I'm going to wait inside and listen to the radio,” she hissed, exasperated. Eddie ground his teeth, then tossed her his keys and turned for the clearing.
The tribespeople were packing their instruments and quilts, and some had already left by the time Eddie returned, but the young man who had Eddie's money was still there, folding a blanket into a knapsack. Eddie shouted at him wildly. He told him everything that happened, told him that Violet still hated him. “That wasn't what I paid you for,” he said. The musician responded by patting Eddie's arm twice. Then, he joined the other musicians and slipped through the trees toward the west side parking lot. Then, the tribespeople were gone.
As for Eddie, he climbed into his car, where Violet was waiting, and didn't turn down her music. They drove back to his apartment in some of the loudest silence Eddie had ever heard. Julia was waiting outside when they arrived; she was twenty minutes early, worried, she said, because of the way he had sounded on the phone. “That wasn't our arrangement,” he told her for the second time that day. But Julia ushered Violet into her car and swept her away. The little girl that Eddie had brought into the world, to dance the way that Violet had danced in the park, was gone as well. And silhouettes were crossing the sky.
Eddie looked up. A flock of mallards in flight covered a stretch of the blue sky in inky shadow. Southbound already. Winter, he thought, was starting far too early.
About the Author;
Most of Sheila Johnson's published work has actually been digitally restored comic book art produced for the Marvel Masterworks books, but she has also worked as a writer and a proofreader and enjoys collecting her stories in handmade books that she binds and sells herself. Her website is www.sheilacjohnson.net.
Wits and Tenure
By Leonard Treman
“We owe all our knowledge to the great philosophers of the past. Is there anyone in the room that doesn't agree?” Professor Prickley asked.
I looked around the silent room. Not a single brave hand was up.
“Come on, don't be afraid to tell me what you think,” the professor continued.
I should have known what I was about to do to be a mistake, but I fell right into his trap. The air in the room seemed to go from a normal temperature to ice cold the moment I raised my hand.
The professors gaze narrowed onto me and at that moment I realized my mistake. He had an evil smirk on his face. It said, “Got you.”
“So what do you think then mr?” he asked pausing as a hint he wanted my name to make an example of me.
“I'm Tom Stockly, and I think Socrates was a pedophile. I think his student Plato, was a sell out. I think Aristotle was the personal tutor to the man who conquered and ended one of the world's greatest civilizations,” I said in a tone that was both loud and proud. This was my second mistake. I basically accepted the professor's challenge by doing this.
The professor's grin grew even wider and it was beginning to look like that of a psychopath more then that of an academic. “Socrates, was a product of his time. Young men were often taught to love by their mentors, it wasn't an odd thing,” the professor said, pausing to let his authority set in. “Plato was not a sellout; in fact, Plato advocated against the sophists who were sellouts.” His face was beginning to turn red in what seemed like anger. “Aristotle had no control over what his student did,” my professor finished with a beat red face.
I replied, “With all due respects sir, “Socrates was executed by the state of Athens for corrupting the youth. He had no defense except to mock the court. Plato built a lavish school that you might be familiar with. Schools don't just appear from thin air. As for Aristotle, to say he had no influence over his students would be like saying that you have no influence over our idea's it's like-,” and I stopped. The professor's face was now purple.
The professor stuttered as he spoke. His whole body was shaking, “This is an example of, a student who thinks he knows everything.” The professor walked down to my desk and handed me the chalk.
Then he stood next to me and announced, “We can switch places if you like. He can do the teaching and I can hand out the grades.”
“Since Tom here is so smart, why don't we all listen to him teach,” professor Prickley mocked extenuating the, “o,” in the word, “so,” as he spoke.
There were a few seconds of silence where no one dared to say a word. Then the professor picked up where he left off, “Just so you all know, while Mr. Stockly is teaching, I fail thirty percent of my students regardless of how many questions they get right. Twenty percent of you will get D's, another twenty five percent will get C's. Fifteen percent of you will get B's and five percent will get A's, so listen carefully to what Tom says,” Prickley continued to rant.
The timer on his desk broke his rant. This meant it was time for a break. I was the first one out the door and I nearly collapsed onto the floor when I reached the hall. It was only after I slid down onto the floor with my back against the wall that I saw a friendly face walk by.
“John!” I said waving.
He looked over and waved back, “Hey Tom, It's been a long time.”
“How are you?” I asked.
“Great, my philosophy 1010 class has a professor that told us bluntly that she will give us a 4.0 if we do the work,” Tom said.
“Damn, I wish my professor was like that,” I replied.
John tilted his head kind of like a dog does when it finds something interesting out, “Which professor?” he asked.
“Prickly,” I groaned.
“Oh, I've heard of him,” John replied.
This had me curious, “Have you now?” I inquired.
“He's an awful professor. Why don't you come join my class,” John said.
I jumped into a standing position with excitement. I had no real reason to get to my feet with 5 minutes of break left, but it was just automatic, “That's a great idea, I'll transfer over after class.”
“After class?” John inquired with a mischievous smile as if to say, “What are you planning.”
I smirked back and said, “It's nothing that bad.”
For the next five minutes we caught up on what the other had been up to and shortly after I returned to my class.
Prickely was sitting in my desk and when I entered into the door he motioned me to the chalk board as the class shuffled in, I picked up the chalk and walked up to the board.
I wrote, “This isn't the only philosophy 1010. My friend is in one across the hall in the same time slot. His professor said he'll get a 4.0 if he does the work. You can still class transfer for a few more days. Or you can stay here with professor Prickley. Good bye.”
I walked out of the classroom and the professors face was purple again. Although, as I left I noticed I had a following. The entire class had followed me into the hall to learn what classes they could transfer into.
While I no longer talk back to professors in case they are baiting me into an argument. I have to say, that last one ended well.
About the Author;
Leonard Treman is a run of the mill 23 year old author with a website at http://authorleonardtreman.webs.com/
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