The "Next" issue

(Issue 18 - not Published)

based on the drawing for "Silent Voices" by Erin Higgins

   

 

Table ofContents

full or partial text is availablefor highlighted items

 

Stories

  • Silent Voices by Jennifer L. Martin
    Blythe lives in the small village on Petty Island, and Geoffrey is from New York City. They won't know each other long but both their lives will change forever during Geoff's short stay on Petty Island.
  • Light on Rainbow Mountain by Janice Porter Hayes
    Everything her new stepsister Darlene does grates on teenage Makaria's nerves. Dad tries, but can't seem to find anything that will help them get along.
  • Glass Castles by Lisa D. Falk
    John is with her and Chris is thousands of miles away....
  • Megadeth and Pirates by Shay Story
    It's Seth's fifth foster home, and Daren gives Seth lots of on things to do to impress the foster parents. Things are going OK until Seth learns about something else that Daren does.

 

Poetry

PLUS -- Illustrations by Eric Davidick, Erin Higgins,
Vicky Perry, and Allan Tollefson

 

(September 26,1997)


©Copyright 1997 Echoes Magazine

All stories, poems, and drawings are protected by copyright and may not be reproduced, in whole or in part, in any form, by copying or by any electronic or mechanical means, without written permission from Echoes Magazine. Individual stories and poems are also copyright by their authors; drawings are copyright by Echoes Magazine and by the artists.


 

SilentVoices

by Jennifer L.Martin

 

Following is a brief excerpt from thestory:
 

It was a hot and humid June afternoon when I first met Geoffrey Johnston the Third. It had stormed out, great dark clouds moving over Charleston on their way to the Atlantic Ocean. The storm drove people inside with its booming thunder and brilliant lightning. In a matter of minutes, the fury of the storm had passed and people stuck their heads out of windows as the sun began to filter through the racing clouds.

As the storm raged on toward the ocean, the heat of the day radiated up from the warm streets, sending waves of steam into the air. As I stepped onto the main road of Petty Island, it felt as if I had just walked into a sopping sponge, as if I was breathing underwater The air did not move, it pressed down hard on you.

In this kind of humidity, the people of Petty Island sought shelter inside where cool fans, or -- if they were really lucky -- air conditioners, blew at full blast, furiously trying to circulate the air which hung like lead over the island. Only a few brave souls ventured out onto the steaming streets, and they moved in slow motion as if the heat had taken all the energy out of their bodies.

As I darted from shadow to shadow on the sidewalk, I could see a group of old men rocking in front of Nick's Barber Shop. They had their hats pulled low against the glare of the sun, their shirtsleeves rolled up high on their brown arms. Only the old men of the island, those who had been here all of their lives, seemed impervious to the heat and humidity of the summer. And, as I approached them, I could hear them chuckle as they watched the people scurry from shop to shop, hoping to find relief from the unrelenting sun which had extracted itself fully from cloud cover.

I darted past the old men, my bare feet beginning to burn on the sweltering sidewalk. Even in the shadows, the pavement seemed to sizzle every time I took a step. Though I was only dressed in my bathing suit and a pair of cotton shorts, I still felt as if my skin was on fire. Finally, I made it to the electronic doors of the A & P. The doors swished open on silent command, and I stepped gratefully into the coolness of the supermarket. The doors closed behind me and I stood there for a second, savoring the icy tiles under my feet and the waves of cool air filtering through the store from a hidden air conditioner.

I headed over to the frozen food section and picked up a bag of frozen sweet peas. Looking both ways to see if the aisle was clear, I placed the bag of peas up against my chest, gasping at the coldness, but loving every chilly second of it.

I heard laughter nearby and I hurriedly dropped the bag of peas. Drops of water dribbled down my chest and soaked the front of my bathing suit. A group of boys rounded the corner and stopped as they saw me standing, in front of the frozen foods.

"Well if it ain't Blythe Cower," said the first boy, who I recognized as Andy Carson. He was a tall boy with long limbs and a horrible overbite. The other boys were his little brothers Willy and Cis, twins who, by the looks of them, were going to be the unfortunate inheritors of Andy's gawkiness.

Andy moved a little closer to me and sneered. "Whatcha' doin' here all alone? Does your daddy know you're hangin' out here?" Andy placed his hands on his thin hips and laughed. "Oh, that's right, your daddy's an idiot and a drunk. He probably don't even know who you are." . . . .
 

(coverbased on the above illustration by Erin Higgins)

©copyright

Jennifer L. Martin is working on a Masters in English atEast Carolina University in Greenville. Now twenty-three, she hasbeen writing seriously since she was in middle school. Favoritewriters include Pat Conroy, Anne Rivers Siddons, John Sanford,Patricia Cornwell, and Sue Grafton.  (8/97)

[Table of Contents]


At YourCountry Wedding

by Leonard Sanazaro

I

Spiny leaves of green,
ridged sateen elegance
of elm, the broad oak,

its round, nubbed leaves,
sprite-capped acorn
clusters bunched young

in their shade, silver
sugar maples shimmering
above, around you,

promise the future &
celebrate this.

II

Outcrop stone
surprise, sudden,
rises out & up from
New England
forest & plain,

catches light,
clouds,
this gray granite,
glittering mica-gold,

solid beneath
your feet where

you walk this day
under the trees
together.

All above & below
blesses from two
ways your one path
forward.

illustration by VickyPerry

©copyright

Leonard Sanazaro, forty-six, teaches English, the classics,and creative writing at the City College of San Francisco. Leonardstarted writing poetry when he was fifteen. His poems have beenpublished in Denver Quarterly, Antioch Review, and manyothers. (8/97)

[Table of Contents]


LaborDay

by Elsie Wear Stockwell

We're ready!
The old blue couch,
stained with spilled food
and wet bathing suits,
is still relatively
comfortably cushioned
and free of summer's
moldy smell.

The table's set
with hurricane lamps.
Late light slants low
and traces the patterns
of oak leaves
on pale peach curtains
(sewn sheets),
a dancing breeze stirs
through a screened
slid-open window:

How quickly the moment
flees in a confusion
of hugs and voices,
tinkling glasses
and chipped plates,
melted butter,
sugar corn
and sun colored
boiled lobsters.
We crack their claws.

When all the shells and mess
are cleared away,
then we can talk.
So long!
Candles shimmershine
through one empty
green bottle
of red wine.

©copyright

Elsie Wear Stockwell is a painter and poet who lives inBrighton, Massachusetts with "a big family and two large dogs." Shehas published two books, For a Stranger Here and The Light Betweenthe Leaves. Elsie's poems have appeared in Blood and FireReview, The Iconoclast, Potpourri, WholeNotes, and Yankee, among others.(8/97)

[Table of Contents]


Light on RainbowMountain

by Janice PorterHayes

 

Following is a brief excerpt from thestory:
 

Pine-filtered sun flickered across the road, crashing into the van as it climbed into the mountains. In the front seat, Makaria Davis craned her neck, excitement building as patches of quaking aspen shook their leaves, welcoming her back.

"Look, Dad, there's the old cabin Mom and I walked to when the weather was good. And there's the stream you fell in trying to help me bring my first fish in."

Makaria laughed as her father, Steve Davis, nodded. His blue eyes darted from the road to the trees, to the stream to the dilapidated cabin, one hand grasping the steering wheel. Slowly, he smiled, and for the first time in months, Makaria saw the lines of worry melt from his face.

"And there's the grove of trees you tried to find your way through and got lost. Your mother and I thought we would never find you."

Makaria smiled as the snarl of quaking aspen quivered in the thin mountain breeze. "Like ladies shaking their skirts, whispering and fawning," her mother used to say of the trees as they drove this road toward their family cabin. "Delicate, sweet, ladies."

Tears muddied Makaria's eyes, and she turned toward the window, not wanting her father to see her cry. After all, it was more than two years since her mother had been killed in a car accident. Surely that was long enough to grieve, long enough to stop expecting to see her mother in all the places their family had loved and shared together.

"It's cold! Roll up your window, I'm freezing."

The whiny voice sliced Makaria, yanking her to the present. She'd almost forgotten her stepsister Darlene sitting in the back seat, bundled in a down jacket, her delicate face peeking from beneath a bulky woolen cap.

"Come on, roll it up. It's freezing, Makaaaria, it really is."

Makaria clenched her teeth, flinching at the way Darlene's southern drawl massacred her name. The name her mother had proudly given her to remind Makaria of the grandmother who had left Greece for a new life in America when Makaria's mother was just a child. . . . .

 


illustration by Allan Tollefson

©copyright

Janice Porter Hayes is a thirty-eight-year-old mother ofthree who has been writing for eleven years. She has a degree inhistory and is a school teacher. As a writer, she takes most of hermaterial from her "own life experiences."(8/97)

[Table of Contents]


Nectarine

by Marilyn Injeyan

"Record your parents' laughter"
H. Jackson Brown Jr.

The house held its tongue
as I held mine afraid
to stumble over muddy words.
Tobacco-stained walls and musty
smoke lingered in tired air.

I hear the leaves change color
as I did when I was small,
a sound that welled green
and burst baroque.
Glasses brimmed and chimed
as Al Jolson's "Mammy" spun,
but I remember the clatter
of pots and plates as Mom
rushed in minutes before Dad
or not at all, those nights
she held another hand of Poker.

When I forgot myself and said, "I thought...,"
Mom silenced me red, "Don't think!"
I did not know how to record laughter
until Dad carried in a crate of fruit,
sliced one and placed it in my palm.
I heard the sun and rubies
as June fountained down my chin
giggling nectarine.

©copyright

Marilyn Injeyan has taught English in Huntington Park,California, for twenty-four years, and she has been writing poetryfor over fifteen years. Only recently did Marilyn begin sending outher work, and she has been published by The Acorn, TheGentle Survivalist, and High Tide. Her hobbies includereading, writing, art, enjoying nature, and listening to music.(8/97)

[Table of Contents]


AFarewell

by Dorothy K. Fletcher

she told me
that he had died
as she slept
in his arms

just a little girl
napping on Grandfather's
shoulder resting
in an overstuffed chair

after a hard
afternoon of playing
when they were found
he was already gone

she was deep
in slumber undisturbed
and I wondered if
her dreams had watched

his spirit rise and go
if she had felt
his spirit passing
through her little body

next to his bigger one
did her heart feel
his heart stopping
did she feel his life

escaping
she says she can't
remember anything
but his ghost

smiling in dreams
for many years after

 
illustration by Vicky Perry

©copyright

Dorothy K. Fletcher has taught language arts in the DuvalCounty School System for the past twenty-three years. She haspublished a children's book, and her poetry has appeared in theKey West Review, Galley Sail Review, Rough Draftand Beyond Doggerel. She also has had several articlespublished in various magazines. (8/97)

[Table of Contents]


GlassCastles

by Lisa D. Falk

 

Following is a brief excerpt from thestory:
 

I lean back in the bath and close my eyes, savoring the soft bubbles that blanket my skin and dust me with mint. When I get out of the tub, dripping wet, John will wrap me in his arms and bury his face in my hair and say I smell wonderful.

Through the bathroom door, I can already hear him padding about in anticipation. Every Friday for the past few weeks he's been spending the night, and this has become sort of a ritual for us. First a late dinner out, then back to my place where I escape to the bathtub. When he's here, this is the only space where I can be totally alone and prolong the inevitable moment when we will retire to bed together.

John, in his straightforward way, thinks I am obsessed with cleanliness.

"If there's a water shortage, we'll all know who's to blame," he says fondly each time I get ready for yet another bath. Sometimes I'm not even sure if he is kidding. He doesn't know about Chris, who's been gone for almost seven months, or the baby Chris and I lost.

Through the bubbles, my fingers lightly brush against the slight swell of my stomach which now protrudes not from the beginning of a new life, but rather from too much lasagna at dinner. I was only three months pregnant when the miscarriage happened, and sometimes I feel like it was all a mistake, and I'm really still pregnant.

I could swear that I feel a ripple of life growing inside me, straining to get out. But if I told John about it, he would say it was indigestion. That's the kind of guy he is. Feet firmly planted on the ground. Unlike Chris who used to float up high with me, helping me weave my dreams . . . .

Read the complete story

 

©copyright

Lisa D. Falk, thirty-one, lives in Boston, where she isworking on her first novel. She studied writing at Columbia, theUniversity of Iowa, and Boston University. Lisa's favorite writersinclude Joyce Carol Oates, Susan Minot, John Updike, and Amy Bloom."These writers have shown me that the ordinary -- when clearlyilluminated -- can be transformed into something extraordinary."  (8/97)

[Table of Contents]


I HaveLeft the Counting of Stars to You

by Andrew P. Williams

I have left the counting of stars to you
because your fingers are longer than mine
and can snap at points of light.
They are more graceful
than these which find comfort
in the wielding of a hammer or a comb.

While your fingers glide over piano keys,
mine tap an unsteady rhythm against my knee
or the cold surface of a kitchen table.

I do wish my hands
could find the music
of a spoon
stirring cream into a coffee cup.
but they are scarred
from the handles of coal shovels,
which is why I appreciate
how you never flinch
when I touch your skin,
though I know I leave behind splinters.

©copyright

Andrew P. Williams, thirty-one, is assistant professor ofliterature at North Carolina Central University in Durham. He is anative of McKeesport, Pennsylvania, and a graduate of Slippery RockUniversity. He has been writing poetry for about ten years and hasbeen published in Double Entendre, the New Growth ArtsReview, and many others. Andrew is working on a collection ofpoetry entitled "Artifacts and Other Remains."(8/97)

[Table of Contents]


Megadeth andPirates

by Shay Story

 

Following is a brief excerpt from thestory:
 

Wouldn't you know it, Seth thought to himself. The guys who get all the breaks end up being the biggest jerks. He pretended to browse through the CDs, but it was the hats on the back wall he was after. The CDs were protected now with those stupid plastic covers, but the hats just sat open and vulnerable on the shelf. There was one with a Megadeth label on the front. It would fit easily inside his letter jacket.

He shuddered as he thought of it again. It just didn't seem possible that Daren was queer. He'd never looked at him like that. Of course, Seth was short and chubby with fat cheeks and long black hair. Not exactly what you'd call handsome. But then, compared to little Bobby…

He shook the thought away and headed casually toward the back wall. There it was, just above the "Friends" T-shirts. Seth rolled his eyes. What a dumb show, he thought. Everybody living together so happily. He knew it wasn't really like that. After staying in five foster homes, he ought to know. People took what they wanted from each other, then went about their lives. Still, Seth had thought Daren was different. After all, he'd helped him stay at the Cole's now for almost a year. That was a record for Seth, who usually got himself kicked out after the third week. Smashing a window or wall usually did it, and if that didn't work, there was always a pet around to torture or kill.

He looked quickly around the store. The clerk with the ring in her nose was at the checkout counter, and the other, the one with acne all over his face, was helping an older couple by the easy listening section. Seth lifted the hat off the shelf and slid it inside his jacket, pushing it up the sleeve a little so he could leave the zipper open. Cool as a cucumber. He smiled to himself, then drifted back to the rap cassettes . . . .


illustration by Eric Davidick

©copyright

Shay Story is a twenty-eight-year-old musician who playsthe French horn in two symphony orchestras. Colleen has enjoyedwriting all of her life and her favorite writers are Richard Bach,Vladimir Nabakov, Ernest Hemingway, and Sting. Her works have beenappeared in The Country Connection, Once Upon A Time,and Writers' International Forum.(7/97)

 [Table of Contents]


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Following isthe complete text of
  

Glass Castles

by Lisa D. Falk

I LEAN BACK IN THE BATH AND CLOSE MY EYES, savoring the soft bubbles that blanket my skin and dust me with mint. When I get out of the tub, dripping wet, John will wrap me in his arms and bury his face in my hair and say I smell wonderful.
Through the bathroom door, I can already hear him padding about in anticipation. Every Friday for the past few weeks he's been spending the night, and this has become sort of a ritual for us. First a late dinner out, then back to my place where I escape to the bathtub. When he's here, this is the only space where I can be totally alone and prolong the inevitable moment when we will retire to bed together.
John, in his straightforward way, thinks I am obsessed with cleanliness.
"If there's a water shortage, we'll all know who's to blame," he says fondly each time I get ready for yet another bath. Sometimes I'm not even sure if he is kidding. He doesn't know about Chris, who's been gone for almost seven months, or the baby Chris and I lost.

in the bath
illustration by Vicky Perry

Through the bubbles, my fingers lightly brush against the slight swell of my stomach which now protrudes not from the beginning of a new life, but rather from too much lasagna at dinner. I was only three months pregnant when the miscarriage happened, and sometimes I feel like it was all a mistake, and I'm really still pregnant.
I could swear that I feel a ripple of life growing inside me, straining to get out. But if I told John about it, he would say it was indigestion. That's the kind of guy he is. Feet firmly planted on the ground. Unlike Chris who used to float up high with me, helping me weave my dreams into fragile glass castles.
The baby would be two months old by now. And I think of her as a tiny girl, with tiny hands and tiny feet, and huge blue eyes just like her daddy's.
But my friends think that the miscarriage was probably for the best, since Chris and I didn't really want to get married. We would have done it for the baby, I guess, but I'm not sure if we would ever have been truly happy. It's not that I didn't love Chris. I did, and still do. But it's been only a little over a year since I graduated from college and there are things I want to see and do before trading in my independence and becoming my parents.
When my parents were my age, twenty-four years old, they were already married and bringing me up. But Chris and I agreed that we weren't ready for dirty diapers and late night feedings and uncontrollable baby's tantrums.
So we had argued about what to do with our lives almost every night since I found out I was pregnant.
"Do you want to get married?" Chris would ask.
"I don't know." I'd shrug, eyes downcast. "Do you?" Chris would never have an answer.
Night after night we'd haggle out our options till one or both of us ended up in tears. Then we'd huddle together on my bed, Chris with his hand cupped protectively on my stomach, probably awed even in sleep at the life he had planted inside me. It was quite a heady feeling for both of us.
When I felt the first stabbing cramp, I prayed it was something I ate, but Chris knew, even before the doctor said it, that the baby was lost.
Now Chris lives in Los Angeles, more than 3,000 miles away, and his days flow three hours behind mine. While I shiver in the Boston winter, he fights traffic on the L.A. freeway and squints in the unfamiliar sunlight. His uncle offered him a job there after it happened, and Chris agreed to go. Although I wanted him here with me, you just can't hold someone as free as Chris back. So he packed his bags and said good-bye, and I held my grief deep inside and comforted myself with the age worn knowledge that things have a way of working out for the best. But sometimes I wonder...
Like now, while I cuddle up in bed beside John, trying to warm up after my bath. John predictably wraps his arms around me and instead of feeling comforted, I just feel like my bed is too small. I could ask John to leave, but he would be hurt and I'd be alone, and that would be worse than anything.
So I hold my breath while John suffocates me with kisses till my blood roars in my head like the pounding California surf. John and I have not had sex; I am not ready for that kind of intimacy again, but John doesn't question my reluctance. He just lets me be.
"When you're ready, you'll know it," he says. In the meantime, he's willing to wait. I'm pretty sure he thinks I'm a virgin. I tell myself often how lucky I am to have found someone as steady and even tempered as he is. While Chris was a tempest, John is more like the calm that settles after a summer's storm. This seriousness makes John seem older than twenty-seven -- and also not right for me. I'm more like Chris, craving constant excitement.
Soon I'll have to tell John our short relationship is over. I wonder if he'll be surprised, or if he'll know it was coming. I have a feeling John doesn't look ahead, but lives more from day to day.
Sometime during the night I roll up against him and cry out in my sleep. He soothes his hand down my back and holds me.
I, in my semi awake state, pretend that it's Chris spooned around me, and we are in his new bed, in his new room. I sometimes try to imagine what it looks like. And the city sounds of L.A. float up through the open window. I curl up closer to Chris-John and embrace him tightly, my ear pressed so close against his chest I can feel every breath, and I am safe and sound, ready to dream of beaches and white sand, not my usual nights filled with dead embryos and unformed babies' hands.
But when the morning light pokes itself through the slats on my window blinds, the man in my bed becomes only John again and I roll away from him, want to get up and away. He gets up too and throws on his clothes, which look fresh and new. You can't even tell he's worn them already. I feel traces of tears dried on my cheeks, as if I had cried in my sleep, even while I dreamed sweetly of the beaches. But John doesn't notice.

in bed
illustration by Vicky Perry

About Lisa D. Falk

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