Here you’ll find merch, Issue #10 story excerpts, interviews, the issue’s Spotify playlist, & links to reviews. So take a look, and make sure you haven’t missed anything!
All the students at Queen Mary Catholic High School knew about Principal Vargas’s death before the first bell.
To Rayven James, it was welcome news.
The entire student body swarmed through the hallways like a many-headed ocean, with straight brown, blond and black hair coloring the seas. An occasional pop of red floated past like flotsam, but one thing as rare as finding a perfectly formed pearl within the tight clasp of an oyster’s shell was any hair that didn’t flow in silky sheets, that didn’t bounce like those no-rhythm-having girls trying to twerk in the restroom, that didn’t accept a fine-toothed comb as readily as a mother’s hand opening for her child’s.
Rayven was that rare pearl.
I was four the day my mother cut off all my hair.
“I thought I could make you look like all the other little black girls with their cute Afros. Your dad had an Afro back then, and I thought all I had to do was cut your hair short. But it didn’t work. You looked like a Struwwelpeter, like you’d been electrocuted.”
The vibration of the clippers had buzzed inside my head. Wisps had fallen around the legs of the chair, scattered across the kitchen linoleum.
While my mother swept, I took my dolls into the bathroom. Gretchen had blond braids down to her shoulders, bangs curled over her blue eyes, and wore a green dirndl with an immaculate white apron. Mucki wore a red dress with a blue ink stain on her red-checked apron. Mucki was a hedgehog. I looked like Mucki.
Yes, that is a real feather growing out of my scalp. No, I did not fall asleep on a craft project, which was my first thought, more on that later. I am also not part-bird as far as I know, though there are birds involved. Trust me, whatever explanation you’re coming up with for this, it’s not it. If any of you guessed obeah though, well, now is a good time to get out your blue and bush and jumbie beads.
To tell you this story right I have to tell you guys about my boyfriend.
You guys remember bae, right? Samson (not his real name, of course) and I were together for the past seven months.
When a breeze shook the reed curtains in mama’s salon, I thought it might be another dragon gliding low, stopping to drink from Lake Mritil. ‘Course, mama and I weren’t afraid; we loved watching them soar overhead, wings gusting hard enough to free cotton fibers and coffee cherries across Gyrixëan farms, so that croppers only had to scoop them up.
So, you can imagine my disappointment when it wasn’t a dragon aloft, but a lanky huntress pushing into mama’s parlor. She burst through our straw door, letting in the noon sound of Gyrixëans haggling over pouches in the nearby spice house; testing winter tunics in the adjacent tailor’s gallery—but this wasn’t any old villager, like the rest of them.
Poem: “Umake: The God of Hair” by Tim Fab-Eme
Poem: “Bury Me With My Bonnet” by A. Z. Louise
Poem: “Unbraided, Clean” by Terese Mason Pierre