In Hopes of Being an Oxpecker in My Next Dream by Baylie Raddon
The last time I dreamt that I was pregnant was the last time I tried to help a boy
in the throes of daddy issues, energy propagating through him from bouncing between his desire for divinity and his adamant disdain for anything bigger
than he can understand. I dream of a being of my creation, its genesis in me and no one else, growing at breakneck speed inside. Inside
a world you will understand when I remove the wool from your eyes and show you that everything is exactly what They told you it would be. And forgive me
when the dreams stop, my maternal instincts fade, and I decide I was not really raising you for the next girl but was instead
cultivating an environment in which neither of us will have to envy Mutualism again.
Baylie is a second-year student at Pasadena City College where she tutors in the writing center and takes more English classes than she needs to transfer. She plans on getting a PhD in either English Literature or Linguistics, that is, if she can stand being on this side of academia for 6+ more years. She participated in National Novel Writing Month and published The Flipside when she was thirteen. She loves few things more than the scene in The Stranger where the old man is crying for his dog in the hallway and Meursault thinks of Maman.
Signet by Kathlene McGovern
In slow motion, Tom watched his fist swing back, noticed the blond hairs on his arms were standing up, like he’d stuck his finger in a light socket. Even through the haze of the eight beers, and four shots he’d downed between the Nittany Lion Inn and his fraternity house,plus the five tokes of the marijuana cigarette the groundskeeper offered him, he was still coherent enough to notice the hair as his clenched fist connected with the Paul’s jaw. Tom had never seen real life go in slow motion. You know, how some people say it does when they’re in a car accident or signing important papers. His life had always happened at a fast pace. Like this summer. Days by the pool at his parent’s house. Evenings spent with Hannah Dorsey. The beautiful girl with the old-fashioned name and modern-enough attitude to let his hand roam under her twin-set to the soft swell over her bra. It seemed like those hot days and warm nights had flown by. Until yesterday. Now it was all going at half-time. He shook his head to clear it, saw beads of sweat from the alcohol and the rage fly, felt like he was inside the picture tube of the Philco television set in his parent’s den. Like he was inside the Liston-Williams bout, the slow-motion capture he’d watched and dissected with his father two months before high school graduation. That memory made his fist close again, pull back with animal fierceness and swing away. This time he heard a distinct crack as Paul’s head snapped back. Through the swelling of his left eye, Tom watched his friend, the best one he’d made since he’d arrived at Penn State the fall before, crumple to the ground.
Tom felt tears sting his eyes, pricking the ball of rage in his gut. Clearing the haze for a second. Allowing just enough space for the shame to make its way in.Pain radiated through his fingers and up his arm. He shook out his hand, bringing the raw, swollen knuckles close to his face, his good eye catching sight of the signet ring his dad had given him on his sixteenth birthday. “It’s the La Grange family crest,”his father had said proudly. “My father gave it to me on my sixteenth birthday and now I’m giving it to you. It’s tradition.
”Tom remembered his eyes welling up then too, with pride for being his father’s son. For their family. Their good family who held charity dinners and donated turkeys to the local shelter for those “less fortunate”on Thanksgiving. Pride for the name that had helped build Philadelphia’s ship yards and Rittenhouse Square. Pride for the father who’d taught him to hold the door for a lady and stand when she came to the table. For the man he’d watched put his hand on the small of his mother’s back, drape his coat around her, even when it was ridiculously hot,and she was inexplicably cold. His cold mother, who’d told him everything. Even when he screamed at her that he didn’t want to hear any more. His parents and the deep lie that their family was. He looked at the blue enamel shield and the gold filigree that filled out the crest. Saw a piece of his best friend’s skin stuck in the fleur-de-lis at the top.
And as the campus guards rushed over, Tom pulled the ring off his finger and with the last little strength he had left hurled it into Oasis pond, wishing the water was deep enough for him to follow it in and never come out.
Kathlene is currently a student at PCC who will transfer to UCLA to finish her BA in English. In 2017 she served as the fiction editor for PCC’s Inscape Literary Magazine and worked as a staff writer for Blindfold Magazine, a print mag that combined activism with pop culture and fashion where she wrote features on several actors and directors including Darryl Hannah, Aaron Paul, and Casey Cooper Johnson. When she's not writing, Kathlene teaches a performance workshop for dancers around the country called The Emotional Dynamics of Dance. The workshop teaches dancers to create story and connect emotionally to choreography, allowing for more dynamic performances.