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The Underground - Winter 2011

The Underground Winter 2011
Mount Frost (Front Cover Photograph) by Sister Margaret Egan
Untitled (Photograph) by Milagros Taveras......................................................... 2
Subtext (Short Story) by Ariel Pimentel.............................................................. 3
Say Goodbye (Poem) by Estefania Fernandez.................................................... 5
What Jenny Said (Poem) by Dr. Robert Meade.................................................. 6
Chapel (Photograph) by Jean Flannelly............................................................... 7
How I Got Away With It, Too (Short Story) by Bo Fisher.................................... 8
My Canterbury Tales: The Girl from Baker Street: A Tale (Poem) by Nafisa Aktar 11
At this Place (Poem) by Temitope Aina.............................................................. 13
Declining Beauty (Photograph) by Sister Margaret Egan...................................... 14
Goodbye (Poem) by Nancy Sully...................................................................... 15
A Paragraph for a Poem (Poem) by Paul McGovern............................................ 16
Act of writing (Poem) by Jose Rosa.................................................................. 16
Can a heron (Poem) by Christine Westphal........................................................ 16
Reading “The Ugly Duckling” (Poem) by Veronica Matta..................................... 17
Leaving the Nest (Photograph) by Ariel Pimentel................................................. 17
Spring Child (Short Story) by Kiora................................................................... 18
My I (Poem) by Christine Westphal................................................................... 20
Let Us Pray (Photograph) by Sister Margaret Egan............................................. 21
Do Dreams Ever End? (Short Story) by Veronica Matta...................................... 22
The Wanderer (Photograph) by Ariel Pimentel.................................................... 24
In Human Clothes (Short Story) by Bo Fisher..................................................... 25
Untitled (Back Cover Photograph) by Michaela Keough

Goodbye
By Nancy Sully

“They’re coming,” she said,
Her voice dripping with dread.
Her brown eyes were wide with fear, her voice so low, only I could hear.
Her body was covered with dirt, trembling as if she were hurt.

But I knew my sister, especially now.
And I could only ask myself, how?
How could she hurt if she wasn’t here anymore?

I looked at my sister, my heart filling with guilt.
She had left this world just over a year ago and in her wake had left quite a show.
Now she stood before me, her eyes filled with terror…
And she repeated the words that never failed to make me think or shiver.

“They’re coming,” she said,
Her body starting to fade.
It was slow, but she wanted me know;
Know that she wasn’t going to suffer anymore.

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Spring Child
By Kiora

Spring, the time of beginnings and life. There he was, my little baby brother. How could they all adore him? He smells of rancid milk and shit. They rave how adorable he is, but he’s just a fat baby. He was born only a month ago on New Year’s Day, how lucky they say and always gives him what is mine. This creature had stolen from me my parents. Their love for me they handed down to him.

Look at little Timmy they rang like a bell struck at the sight of him. What more is that this Timmy had stolen the last precious thing that I had, Mr. Teddy. A teddy bear is essential to every child’s well-being and to steal one is to steal their last true friend and companion. Now, that’s just wrong.

No, now Timmy had everything and I was left with absolutely nothing. He wasn’t my brother but rather a thief concealed in the soft pudgy shell of an innocent looking pudgy babe. His deception could fool them but not me.

One day after school I wanted to show my parents my test. I had received my first “A+” in math and I was overjoyed with this triumph. Instead of coming home to a grand celebration, I was left again without anything. My mother was in the kitchen trying to tame the loud, screeching beast spawn. Look mother, my first “A” in math, I said holding up my paper to her face. She simply waved the paper aside and carried her precious baby to his room, singing the whole way.

I was aside myself, what could I do? After the past days of hell, I was ready to raise some on my own. I then decided to take back what rightly belonged to me.

That night I waited for them to fall asleep. With reassurance I began to venture to the creature’s den. My room was strategically placed next to the lair and I moved onward. This will be a breeze, I thought as I crept into the room, quiet as a fox.

When I was standing beside the creature’s cradle, I couldn’t help but notice a strange shadow on the wall. I looked to its source and saw to my surprise, a black cat. He sat quietly outside peering into the room. Paying him no mind, I began my work.

I looked at the cooing of the little thing and glanced at his feet. There he was, Mr. Teddy. I snatched the bear out of the confines of this cage and held him close. I smiled, it was a long time since I had that bear in my arms and I was happy to feel his warmth. It was at that instant I felt something odd, hesitation. A voice inside had told me not to do it, however it was no match for the other voice. Go ahead take back what is yours, you’re not afraid are you Georgie? Afraid? Hell no, I wasn’t afraid of this mite.

With anger pumping through my veins I looked at Mr. Teddy. You wanna help? And Mr. Teddy replied with a nod. Then it was to be done!

No more, I said underneath my breath, but this disturbance in this eerie silence slightly awoken the creature in a babe’s crib. I saw his blue eyes and fueled with hatred for them prompted me to shove the bear, my friend and accomplice onto its face.

As he was struggling, I forced the bear on him harder. The black cat I had noticed was watching me with the awe of a scientist. I was the lab rat in his observations. But, I didn’t care, but I did.

I retracted the bear from the babes face and stood erect looking at his purple face with horror. I thought he was dead, but the babe managed to say his first and final words. His lips began, Brother ending with a sad cry of, Why big Brother? His question pained me even more when his drew his last breath.

Mother and father entered the room. As the saw the deed horror struck their face. My mother was crying exasperatedly, Georgie, why did you kill your baby brother? It was then I had realized that I had indeed killed my baby brother. Panic and fear struck my face and tears stormed down my cheeks.

The black cat was still there, but went unnoticed. I could only guess that his hypothesis was proven true, humans can be cruel, even to their own kin. I could care less with what that cat was thinking, but I couldn’t help my remorse. I slumped to the floor, not paying any attention to the parents cradling their dead baby. Just as he was born, his life had been stolen by his selfish brother, who would live his life only to be haunted by the babe’s only question, Brother, Why big Brother… 

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My I 
By Christine Westphal

 

hear their voices sing with
My own ears

the bent leaf
gathering water
reminds me of
my mother

you hear the
chirping, the trees-
tall trees
pregnant with leaves

‘how many birds-’
but you do not stop to think
to climb the tree
to count how many birds

so I climbed the tree

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In Human Clothes
By Bo Fisher

He doesn’t wait under their beds anymore, patiently resting his face in his hands.  The hole in the ceiling of the closet has collected cobwebs that have collected memories left behind.  Basements and crawlspaces have been remodeled in the past years because of his negligence.  Those alleyways behind the liquor stores and in between the apartment buildings aren’t as dark as they once were.  People no longer ask if Haddonfield, Illinois is a real town or if there’s an Elm street in your neighborhood.  What they don’t understand though, is that that is the idea.  He doesn’t hide anymore.

James B. Mann, more popularly known as “The Boogeyman,” has retired.  He doesn’t respond to that name anymore, however.  Now a manager at the neighborhood Applebees and a student at a community college, he looks to turn his life around.  Like a recently released ex-convict of forty years, though, he doesn’t remember the real world.  More importantly, the real world doesn’t remember him. 

The infamous, jagged scar curving around the top of his right eye and creeping down the inseam of his nose sparks an uneasy heat inside the stomachs of the children at Applebees.  Required to remove his sunglasses before coming to work, the hollowness of his eyes pulls them in, suffocate them; he’s been asked to refrain from looking directly at people when speaking.

His voice isn’t as smooth as a vampire’s.  He’s not suave and he had never even heard of Jude Law until he left the closet for the last time.  To be completely honest, he’s more of a Christian Bale kind of guy.  He’s thrown away his copy of American Psycho though and has tried watching The Holiday but Jack Black gets on his nerves and frankly, The Talented Mr. Ripley just doesn’t make any sense to him.  He tells people he’s trying, but only because nobody will take notice.

There are a number of acting classes at the community college he attends.  The professor doesn’t think he’s ready for an understudy position yet.  That decision was made shortly after one of the students recognized him and judgments were quietly made, rumors were spread.  The fact that nobody bought him as a police officer with charm and confidence in his sixth failed audition didn’t exactly help his status in the classroom.  

Jim can’t hand out candy on Trick or Treat.  The parents of the neighborhood have circled his house on their community maps, along with the registered sex offenders and ex-convicts.  He knows that he’s misunderstood, so he goes for a long walk every year on the 31st of October, just to see their faces, just to get the other side of them: the happy side.  But he wouldn’t even recognize that face if he saw it, not even in his human clothes.  Walking behind them, their parents turn and catch a glimpse; his ghostly white face, his slick black hair that, for some reason, won’t grow any other way no matter how many times he goes for the curling iron.  His smile is only seen from below, hidden in the shadows, broad and menacing like the Jack-O-Lanterns.  The mothers rush their sons and daughters along and point at him, warning the other women and their children not to cross to his side of the street.  Their husbands then chase him back home where, even after all his effort and love, he retreats to turning the lights back off.  He retreats to sitting in the dark.

He knows why they do so, but he resents it.  He resents that after a month of scared children and complaining mothers he was demoted to washing dishes at the restaurant.   The man with the tattoos and the lip piercing has been given his job out front.  He resents the fact that he isn’t convincing as a war hero although he spent four weeks memorizing those lines for his audition.  He resents the fact that his father would rather pay for the plastic surgery to cover up his scar than just forcing himself to smile every time they see each other.  He’ll accept all those things though. 

James knows – passing through hotel bars and restaurants, watching the news, watching sports and reading the daily paper – he doesn’t belong here.  But he sulks home, passing the town houses in which little boys and girls, seeing him outside their bedroom windows pull their shades down and scurry to turn their lights back on.  When he lies down in bed at night, he drops his hand to the side of his bed and waits for something to grab it from underneath.  He doesn’t feel anything.  He glances over to the closet next to his door, cracked open.  He tries to understand the terror he brought upon people for so many years.  He tries to feel human.  But when he pulls the covers over his face and lets the heat trap under the blanket, he feels nothing.  All he feels is distance.  

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