Here you’ll find merch, Issue #12 story excerpts, interviews, the issue’s Spotify playlist, & links to reviews. So take a look, and make sure you haven’t missed anything!
It was September, but still ninety degrees outside, and they’d been driving in the hot sun for almost four hours. Donnie and his older brother, Koda, were in the back of their grandmother’s ‘89 Caprice Classic, headed to her middle-of-nowhere Virginia hometown to visit some relative neither of them had ever met. Frances, their grandmother, narrated the drive, telling stories about her childhood, pointing out this and that, but this far out in the country there wasn’t much to see. Donnie kept himself occupied by tapping his foot in time with the fence posts they passed.
“It shouldn’t be you.”
Willow’s voice is hoarse, rattling against her bones and sallow skin, as it escapes up her throat and out her cracked lips. Mother moves to the side of the hospital bed, a bottle of water in her hands. She offers it to Willow, who ignores her and continues glaring at me. Her eyes, grey and wispy from cataracts, attempt to burn holes in me until I’m ash before her once again. But I stand in the doorway, blocking the view of the hallway, and stare back at Willow, Mother’s mother.
It’s easy to tell when a world is roused. Cyclones, earthquakes, lightning, drought, anomalous happenings. The omens are obvious. Harder to spot is the subtle build-up, for worlds lie in deep time and are slow to anger. If the universe is a clock, they are the hour hand and our lives are measured by the tock of the second hand. Most of us have forgotten how to read the lay of the land. Our ears are deaf to the voices in the wind, the soles of our feet numb to the gentle nudge of the soil we trudge upon, our hearts closed to the soul-song upon whose notes life and death flit.
I. In the beginning, there was darkness, and she was infinite.
Ayo doesn’t believe in praying, but she will do it today. It is a holy day, and she has been given a part in it. Stillness comes, the moment the gods remind the world of their gift by taking it away. That’s the kind of bullshit gods do. A foot to your neck to remind you who’s in charge.
She can almost hear her skin sizzle under the late morning sun. Too hot for the braided wig she’s been forced to wear. The beads tied to the ends of each braid, amber and pearl, click and clack in the breeze as she tugs it off and throws it to the ground. The mutters from the crowd at the sight of her bare head are almost as good as the feeling of the air on her scalp.
Poem: “Not an ordinary dream” by Dike Okoro