Issue #5

(November/December 1994)

Man on stairs - #5 Cover

cover drawing by Ferrilyn Sourdiffe

Table of Contents

full or partial text is availablefor highlighted items




(Updated July 9, 1996)

© Copyright 1995 EchoesMagazine

All stories, poems, and drawings are protected by copyright andmay not be reproduced, in whole or in part, in any form, by copyingor by any electronic or mechanical means, without written permissionfrom Echoes Magazine. Individual stories and poems are also copyrightby their authors; drawings are copyright by Echoes Magazine and bythe artists.

Joyful Restraint

by Robert Vitalos


It was 5:32 in the morning,
And the first feet
Of dawn sneakered in.
I was watching your lips
Pursue breathing,
And the feather tick
Nestling your chin.

And again I recalled
The first touch of your hair,
As it fell,
Trickling over my skin.
It was all I could do,
Not to wake you too soon,
To restrain all my joy,
With a grin.

Joyful Restraint
illustration by Ferrilyn Sourdiffe

© Copyright 1994 Robert Vitalos

Robert Vitalos is forty-six years old and has been writingpoetry for about nine years. He has been published in a number ofjournals and magazines, including Feelings, The Dream Shop, AbikoLiterary Rag, The International Beer and Pub Poetry Anthology,and several others. His "real job" is working for AT&TMicroelectronics. (9/94)

[Table of Contents]

The Lake

by Jason O'Rourke


following is a series of excerpts fromthe story:

. . . . I realized that my father was slowing the car down, and we were climbing a hill. The hill. My stomach began to tingle in anticipation.

"Everybody ready?" my mother asked, as she turned towards the back seat, her eyes wide, smiling at the two little heads straining to see through the canopy of trees. When the car reached the top, there was a flash of blue against the green background. Three voices burst into a race.

"Iseethelake!" I yelled. I heard my mother's voice, too. But my sister had started late. . . .

. . . . . .

The screen door of the small trailer creaked before snapping shut behind me as I stepped out. I took a deep breath of the rich, aromatic air, all pines and sunshine, as I finished pulling on my shirt. I tugged the black hat down over the tangle of my long hair, not bothering to brush it. The chill of the summer morning caused me to shiver and I padded gingerly on bare feet, avoiding the sharp twigs, enjoying the silky pine needles.

I grabbed the fishing rod that leaned against the rusted trailer and headed across the sharp pebbles that stuck out of the sandy driveway. I looked up at the golden wood on my grandfather's house and peered through the big glass doors that faced the sunrise. He was already at work, mixing the batter for the large pancakes that would lure me inside. At the edge of the narrow road, the pavement was split, and the surface of the asphalt was uneven and rough against my feet. It was still cold, and I hurried across to the damp, soft pine needles on the other side.

At the top of the twisted staircase, I looked out across the lake at the fog rolling along the shore. The soft breeze pulled the mist out of the shadows to the area that was lit by the sun just peeking over the mountain ridge. I took each step slowly, one at a time, avoiding the nails poking out of the rough, splintered wood. When I reached the last stair, I leapt off and landed with a thump on the smooth boards of the new dock. . . .

. . . . . .

Driving my graduation present, a 1971 red Cougar with a white hardtop, I headed up to the lake for the Fourth of July fireworks display. My girlfriend rode with me, her hand resting on my knee as I raced around the corners of the winding road.

As we reached the top of the hill, I laughed and then shouted, "Iseethelake!" From the corner of my eye, I saw Stephanie staring at me. "I win!"

"You win what?" She asked.

"When I was growing up, we always used to see who could be the first to see the lake. So I win," I said.


"What's that look for?"

"What look?" she asked innocently.

"The you're-crazy-as-a-loon look."

"Well, you are." She laughed, and patted my thigh. . . .

Mike & Stephanie at the lake
illustration by Ferrilyn Sourdiffe

. . . . . .

The morning sun was just beginning to shed light on the trailer when I heard Ethan start to squirm. I had already been awake for several minutes, so I picked him up to let Stephanie get some more sleep. Grabbing a blanket and his bottle, I bundled him up and crept down to the dock. Ethan watched me with his blue-gray eyes as I sang him back to sleep. His eyes fought a losing battle against the gentle gravity of sleep before finally staying shut. I sat and stared out across the water thinking back on the years and wondering how Mikey and Christine were enjoying their honeymoon.

Stephanie's footsteps brought me out of my dreaming, and they were followed by the heavier step of my grandfather. . . .

. . . . . .

The winding back roads were still riddled with frost heaves that seemed perfectly spaced, so the tires thumped over them with a beat. Glancing in the rear view mirror, I noticed Ethan lost in thought as he stared out the window. I wondered, for a moment, what he was thinking about.

"Hey, Ethan," Stephanie called him back to reality. "We're getting close. You ready to play a game?"

He nodded eagerly from the back seat, his smile lighting up.

"Okay, it's called 'I see the lake'. Daddy will slow the car down at the top of a hill, and if you look through the trees you can see Grampy's lake. The first person to say 'I see the lake' wins." She turned to look as we began climbing the hill. "Okay, ready. Here we come."

Stephanie and I shouted at the first sight of the blue-green water.

"Where?" came the tiny voice from the back seat. "I didn't see it."

"Here it comes again," I said as the car came down out of the hills and trees and out to the lake road. "There it is," I almost whispered as the expanse of water was visible. . . . .

© Copyright 1994 Jason O'Rourke

Jason O'Rourke, a nineteen-year-old sophomore at theUniversity of New Mexico, spent many childhood summers at ProvinceLake in New Hampshire. His hobbies include skiing, soccer, piano, andcomputers. This is the first story he's tried to publish, but he'sbeen writing since elementary school.(9/94)

[Table of Contents]

The Spiral Steps

by Joseph A. Hill


trapped on the spiral steps
illustration by Ferrilyn Sourdiffe

following is a brief excerpt from thestory:

 . . . The darkness never ran out, nor did the wind, which bore down on him from above, sweeping along the steps, searching out some avenue of escape below. Air could survive the blistering heat that lay downward; he knew he couldn't. When he had inexplicably found himself here, he had tried going down. The heat had grown and grown as he descended, until it seemed the walls of this tower (if it was a tower) should glow a dull red. The steps and wall were stone, or seemed to be, and total darkness was all they ever knew. The steps and the wall and the wind and the darkness comprised his whole world; he could not imagine a time when he hadn't been here.

He was finally forced to turn back, toward the wind, convinced that nothing but slow though certain death waited in the unbelievable heat below. And here he was still, having no way to guess the number of days or weeks that had passed. He rested for a short time, huddling alone against the curving wall on the seemingly endless steps, wishing against hope that there would be only a few more of them to climb.

He slept. When he awoke, there was a tin cup containing warm water and an acrid hunk of bread on the step beside him.

This had happened a couple of dozen -- possibly even a couple of hundred -- times. Who knew? At any rate, the man finally learned not to question this phenomenon, that it was quite useless. Upon first discovering the food and water -- and the accompanying realization that someone was, must be, aware of his predicament -- he had pleaded and screamed and cried for that someone to show himself. His thin voice, drowned in the wind, had gone seemingly unheard. . . .

© Copyright 1994 Joseph A. Hill

Joseph A. Hill is a former newspaperman, teacher, andbudget analyst. His first novel, Various Vistas from Charron,is yet to be published. He holds a degree in Political Science and iscurrently at work on several projects, including his "soon to beunpublished" novels Go More Softly Than Before and Let theRiver Decide. (9/94)

[Table of Contents]


by Valerie Simon

Finding the room oppressive,
we went for a drive, and stopped
by a meadow, frozen ground
under grey sky.
We sat in silence,
car running, heater blasting,
staring at the brown field.

A faint thought disturbed the quiet,
and looking out, I saw the first arrow,
twenty snow geese, flying north.
Circling once, they glided to ground
before us, followed by a second arrow,
then another, until the meadow
became a feathered field.

I shut off the engine, rolled down the window
to make you listen. The raucous noise
came in with the biting cold,
every goose squabbling loud argument,
every movement rippling,
clamoring across the snowy field.

I wanted to join them, honk and squabble,
escape the lonely silence between us.
I almost spoke,
but it was then, in one body,
a hundred thousand geese took flight.
The field lifted into sky,
leaving no trace of their stay
except Spring.

© Copyright 1994 Valerie Simon

Valerie Simon is a First Lieutenant in the U.S. Air Force,a specialized navigator stationed in Nebraska. While she lovesflying, she also likes to go for walks, read, play the piano -- andwrite. Valerie holds a degree in Mathematics from the University inWashington and has participated in poetry seminars. In addition toall her other responsibilities, Valerie is a graduate student inHuman Relations at the University of Oklahoma.(9/94)

[Table of Contents]

Fall Far Off

by David Curtis

Rake all the leaves, my boys,
bag them, crushed and tight,
yet I recall a crackling noise
and sparks one magic night.

that single smell of spring's
rebirth and summer's greenery
consumed in flame, as other things
alive and dying be,

embers bursting for the skies
from smoke too blue to watch,
twilight men with water eyes
and water days to match.

Then pack away my burning time
in your own plastic way,
but leave me ashes of the mind
for sweeping as I may.

burning leaves (
illustration by Ferrilyn Sourdiffe

© Copyright 1995 David Curtis

David Curtis is a Professor of English at Sacred HeartUniversity in Fairfield, Connecticut. He started writing poetry incollege, but says that "all of those rather amateurish efforts havebeen happily lost." Originally from Rhode Island, he made a freshstart at writing poetry around 1986. Some of his favorite writers areRobert Frost, Marianne Moore, Henry Adams, and H. L. Mencken. Curtisis the author of a collection of poetry, Update from Pahrump.(9/94)

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