Untitled by Richard Fox
It’s 10:30 at night, and I just want to go to bed. I want my blanket, I want my pillow, and I want it now. I step out of my car and feel the warm, summer air trade places with the full-blown AC. It’s a graceful way to transition into an evening in June. I slug my way to the door code box. The beep of the door code being punched in is an artillery barrage on my ears, but that’s ok, a few flights of stairs and I’m in a first class trip to dreamland. The old door swings open and the stairs present themselves as an amusing obstacle course. It’s just a small carneys game for the weary sucker, the big prize at the end being my bed. I accept the challenge and make my way up, eyes getting heavier along the way. Each creaking step mocks me, but I ignore it. I make my way to the top and my head becomes lead as it fails to stay above my shoulders. The door is there, just have…to…push… through. My knees start to give as I grab the handle, turn the knob and go through. I need to sleep so badly. The door opens with a flashing light, a light I know all too well. The flash of light I see is the damn fluorescent flickering on and off again as I sit in the budget meeting.
Two coffees down and the CFO sounds as though he could bore a Jack Russell. Predictions, analysis, planning, blah, blah, blah. My mind wanders on various things and then it hits me, wasn’t I just here? Did I go home? No, it’s 2:30, too early to go home. Way too early to leave, way too much to do, right? Right. One thing I do need to do is use the bathroom, bad. I can barely understand a word he is saying, old fart. How do I get out of this…think, think, think? I know! The old fake cell call trick! I reach into my black coat pocket for my phone and find it vibrating; I’m actually getting a call. I see “DAD” in bold letters on the screen, perfect. I slightly raise the phone, point to it, point to me, mouth a fake sorry and begin to stand. The CFO waves me off without looking up. As I get up to leave I try to look around the room for dirty looks. No one notices, no one looks up, no one moves, no one has moved, I don’t recognize anyone. I shrug it off and head for the door. I’ve freed myself from that prison and I look at my phone again to call my dad. Wait, why am I calling dad, he died last year. He had a heart attack while fishing. Anyway, I move on. I move past people I can’t recognize, answering phones I didn’t know we had, and speaking in words I can’t understand.
Do I even work here? Yeah, I do. I think. Oh, speaking of phones, nature is calling, got to go.
I make my way to the bathroom area when Barbara steps out and greets me with a giant, toothy smile. I remember Barb right? Barb…Barbara in the pink dress, from the Christmas party. She says something I can’t understand but I nod anyway. As she walks by I remember that she works in HR and her favorite color is purple, like the dress she just wore, or was it pink? I turn around and see Barbara from HR, I was right; it’s a purple dress. Where did I get pink? I turn to the men’s room but shocked to see that it says LADIES on the door. I instinctively turn left and there is the MENS room. It was always on the left, right? Right. Yeah, left. My knees feel funny again and I can’t stop yawning. I’m going to sleep good tonight. I reach for the handle and go through.
The freezing air slices my face with its typical winter trickery. I always hated winter. Then again, I thought it was supposed to be June. I check my phone and in bold letters it says JANUARY. WINTER ADVISORY WARNING! More wintery trickery. It reminds me that I need to call Dad when I get a chance. My brown coat is no match for this wind. It’s a contender for a one-sided fistfight. I need to get to my car. I’m on the rooftop parking deck, so this shouldn’t be too hard. I look around the sea of silver sedans and can’t seem to find mine. I pace around the rows and rows of cars and have a sudden thought, since when do I park up here and what do I drive again? I look for my keys but can’t find them, just my cigarettes that I light out of instinct. Since when do I smoke? Always, I thought, for the last few years at least. I put the lighter back into my gray coat. My gray coat, wasn’t it brown …or black? I can’t remember. I turn to the silver sedan beside me and look in the glass for a reflection. It’s black, just like always, right? Right. Just then my phone rings, it’s already in my hand. I don’t look at the screen as I answer it. “Hello?” No answer for a few seconds, then a voice, “Hello David.” It’s a woman’s voice. “Have fun today?” My name isn’t David, I think, but I answer anyway.
“Uh…not really…no. I’m pretty tired; I just need to go to bed.” Not sure how else to have better answered that. Her voice was a little more authoritative this time, “Actually, now more than ever, you need to wake up. The Arbiter isn’t too pleased with you.”
My eyes burst open and I practically catapult from my bed. My brain feels like static noise in a confined space. I sit on the edge of the bed and try to catch my breath. Focus…focus…you’re awake now. My heart slows its panic as I try to regain control of its quivering. I look at the clock and it says 1:30am. I need to get to bed, I have a budget meeting tomorrow, and I have a lot to do. I can’t leave early either. I lie back down and attempt to go to sleep. Suddenly, as if on cue to my closing eyes, my phone gets a text message. Who the hell is texting me at 1:30 in the morning? I grab the phone angrily and am about to give the sender a piece of my mind. The message is in bright bold letters: THIS IS YOUR LAST AND ONLY WARNING…WAKE UP ~ Architect. I sit up and the phone is in my hand, I am in my car. I am in my black coat. I can’t remember how I got here. It doesn’t matter.
It’s 10:30 at night, and I just want to go to bed.
Dagmar Afternoon by Maggie Snowberger
Kaleidoscope by Kristen Gresalfi
My life is as abstract as an ink blot test
But as precise as a geometric architect
My body is like a Picasso, only truly understood by its maker
My spirit is one of a mythical creature which flies to a different world
This mind is like no other, unique as one’s fingerprints
My heart is comprised of the most malleable material
That allows my emotions to flow as effortlessly as blood through veins
My soul, an unchartered treasure, its key hidden from the untrained eye
My brain is damaged goods, as science would say
Lucky my kaleidoscopic life isn’t broke
Its manufacturer is no joke
All of the pieces are cut to size
When all aspects of my life are accounted for
There’s only one force
That I want to stay my course
Turning my lens right to left, honing in on the path that is correct
Me by Madison Gaines
My door has been locked for 3 years, 8 months, and 26 days. I have explored this 25′ x 25′ room over and over again. Waking, pacing, eating, searching, sleeping, and then starting the process again for 3 years, 8 months, and 25 days. It took less than a week for it to become my monotonous routine. Doing it over and over and over again…
Some nights, after a long day of pacing and pacing and pacing, nightmares consume me. I scream, even after I wake, with no one to console me. No mother to hold me close, no father to check under my bed for monsters. But in this room, with its broken toilet in one corner and a too-small blanket and ratty pillow in another, there is no place for the monsters to hide. Or at least, that’s what I thought.
For 1 year, 6 months, and 19 days, I’ve been thinking about the bare door, locked from the outside. For 1 year, 4 months, and 7 days, I’ve pondered the fact that this eternal darkness I’ve been shrouded in has become comforting. That the unidentified meat that falls through a hole in the ceiling is appealing to me. That I can’t remember a day when there weren’t voices echoing through my mind.
It took me 2 years, 2 months, and 7 days to realize that the bare door was to keep something inside, not to keep something out. It took me 2 years, 4 months, and 19 days to realize that the reason why there’s no one to console me, why there’s no mother to hold me close, why there’s no father to check under my bed for monsters, why there’s no one to protect me….is because they can’t save me…..from me.
Flower by Lauren Strehle
Forever by Veronica Tatone (Nora Roberts Young Writers Institute)
We loved each other before we knew anything. When we were still just souls, drifting in another world where there is no gender or race or even species. We were content to simply be together.
Everything changed the day the messengers came to us. They told us that it was our time to fulfill our destinies, to be given physical forms and start a new life on a planet that the native species called ‘Earth.’ We knew nothing of such a place, and at first we were distraught. I remember comforting you in your fear.
The messengers told us that they would be kind to us and send us to Earth at around the same time, so that we could be together there. They warned us it would be hard, that they had no control over where we would be sent. Countries and borders meant nothing to us in the Otherworld. We would have trouble finding each other.
They sent me before they sent you, at my request. I knew you’d be frightened to go first.
But the messengers unknowingly damned us the day they sent you. They had no way of knowing the cultural customs of Earth, none of them having lived there themselves. How could they have known we would be shunned, that people would want to keep us apart? How could they have known it was a cultural taboo, that they had done the same to millions of souls before us?
For you see, they made us both human men.
Veronica Tatone is a 16-year-old entering the 11th grade at Mercersburg
Academy, where she will be taking AP English and writes for the Arts page
of the school newspaper. She attended the Nora Roberts Writing Institute
and has been published in her school’s art and literature magazine, the
Blue Review. She enjoys writing science fiction and fantasy.
Run to the Thicket by Marissa LaPorte (Nora Roberts Young Writers Institute)
A beautiful female fox, with shining red fur, basks in the sun. A male is nearby, drinking from a stream. There is not the slightest hint of a breeze. Yet the heat is not stifling, it is pleasurable. The birds produce a melodic symphony. The sound of the male fox’s lazy lapping can be heard, along with the gentle trickle of the stream. The female fox is dozing off, her majestic golden eyes becoming hidden by her drooping eyelids.
The male fox raises his head from the stream and scans between the trees. The female arouses and her black tipped ears flick back and forth. The birds abruptly stop chirping and there is silence, only for a moment. The deafening crack of a gunshot rips through the air and the birds take flight. The male fox falls and blood trickles from his shoulder. The female nimbly jumps to her paws and rockets in-between the trees, kicking up soil behind her. Shots are being fired behind her and soon the howling of hounds fills the air.
She races deeper and deeper into the forest. The trees and shrubbery grow thicker the further her legs carry her. She bounds over fallen trees and ducks under low hanging branches. With her ears flat to her head and determination burning in her heart, she draws near to her destination. She jumps through a thick bush and hunkers down in a small clearing, hidden by its surrounding vegetation. She has reached the thicket.
Marissa LaPorte is entering her senior year at Escanaba High School in Escanaba, MI. She won the annual “Edgar Allan Poe Writing Contest” held at Escanaba High School three consecutive years. She has also been selected as one of a few different winners for four contests held on the writing website Figment.com and was a runner up the “Letter’s About Literature Contest” and the NRYWI contest in 2013. She visited the NRYWI in 2014. Realistic fiction is her genre of choice but she also enjoys and writes horror occasionally.
Blow by Sean Kenny
Let us wind up the day
Crank up the winds, stopper up the sunlight
Cross the tracks the wrong way round
And dance through the dust with the alley cats
Jelly burns, bloody tires, chains swinging free
Skins on the table, bones in the sink
Tears all dried up, and far too much to drink
Come with me, sing with me, pierce the piercing howl
Skip the fence, beat the bricks
Rattle your rosary beads
Beechwood, maple, ponderous ponderosa
Let us pop the world
Catch its humors in a sieve
Sift the hugs from the fangs
And let the chaff float away with the weeds
Cross the tracks the right way round
Bend ‘em, make a bow
Sit down among the dandelions
Make a wish, and
Hedge Apple Reception on October 14th
The Fall 2014 Issue of the HCC literary magazine has arrived! Please join us for a celebration and reading!
WHEN: Tuesday, October 14th, 2014
5:00 — Food, conversation, and sign-ups
5:20 – Hagerstown Magazine Internship Experience (Matt Makowski and Stephanie Eberly)
5:30 — Prose and poetry readings by contributors, followed by an open mic session
WHERE: Career Program Building 210-212
Hors d’oeuvres and drinks will be served.
Workshops will include:
Writing Dialogue – Amanda Hart Miller
Progressive Story Group Write – Hannah Streett and Stephanie Eberly
The reception and workshops are open to the public.
New pieces of fiction, poetry, and artwork released at www.hedgeapplemagazine.com throughout the year. Special congratulations to the 2014 participants of the Nora Roberts Young Writers Institute who were published in the online edition of the Hedge Apple.
The submission deadline for next year’s Hedge Apple is January 31st 2015.
Email your poetry, fiction, artwork, or photography, with a brief bio, to firstname.lastname@example.org