Fiction Editor

Short Story by Kendra Lindemann

Okay

By Kendra Lindemann

Grass smells different in the morning than in the afternoon.  Alexandra lay with her back to the sun and her feet flipped up, the slight flare to her jeans catching on the wind.  Before her was a necklace and the warm, vaguely damp grass.  She played the necklace over in her hands and closed her eyes.

She hadn’t wanted to, but she’d said okay.  She’d said okay and she’d kept saying that everything was okay.  She closed her eyes and felt the familiar edge of silver under her fingertips.  This was real.  This was something she could grasp and hold and that could bite if she so directed.  This moment, this moment was safe.

Safe.  A large dog trundled over to investigate her as she lay mostly still, a well-chewed green frisbee dangling from its mouth and moving as it adjusted its grip excitedly.  Reaching up, Alexandra scratched the dog under its jowls and smiled at the waving tail as it marked the contented departure of the dog through the overgrown green grass.  The field needed to be mowed, though it was not so bad.  Four inches long or six made very little difference.  Seven inches, though, that was too much.

Too much.  He’d been so gentle.  Alexandra plucked a blade of grass from the wet turf and looked at it.  The light caught the green in interesting ways, refracting into an almost pink rainbow.  Fascinating, she mused, how a thing who could look so different up close.  Fresh grass was supposed to be green, not so close to irridescent that it couldn’t possibly be real.

When she’d cried, he’d stopped and asked if she was okay.  She’d said yes, as she’d been saying, but he hadn’t continued.  He’d stayed close for awhile, just holding her in place and making soft shushing sounds.  When she’d calmed a little, the tears rolling down her cheeks silently such that he couldn’t see, he’d kissed the top of her head and left her there.  A yellow light in the kitchen had come on and she’d heard popping and shuffling.  A few minutes later, there had been pizza rolls and popcorn and her shirt was smoothed back in place.

Above her, a bumble bee hummed as it moved from one clump of clover to another, drifting to the left as it chased the firmly planted but gently waving flowers.  She smiled and looked up.  Across the way, a soccer ball danced across the field, several girls in bright pink and white chasing it while a matching set of french braids and ponytails dressed in sky blue charged from the other direction.  They would meet in the middle and send the ball toward one goal or another, depending on which foot made first and strongest contact.

Her stomach hurt a little.  Well, not her stomach.  Lower.   She’d tried eating macaroni and sourdough toast for breakfast.  The ache didn’t go away.  It was like when she put in pads but different, both worse and not nearly so bad.  The phone, discarded a few feet away where she’d abandoned it to think, chimed once.  He’d informed her that he had tickets to the game.  She didn’t do sports, not usually, and wasn’t certain what teams were playing.  No one she knew, she was sure.  But he’d invited her; he already had the tickets.  There was nothing else to do tonight and people would talk if she didn’t go.

Picking up the phone and dragging it across the turf as she propped herself up on an elbow, she gazed at the screen for a long, long time.  “Still there?”

He never used acronyms.  They’d only started texting a week ago and she had waited in the cafeteria earlier today for all the guys to leer and make their stupid comments and for all the girls to look jealous.  She could have hated him, then.  Instead… instead all was well.  Katy had asked if she’d had fun yesterday but there had been nothing suggestive about the way she’d asked, even if Alexandra knew she’d been a bit defensive.  She gazed at the phone and considered writing yep, followed by the send key.  Her fingers didn’t move and she looked up at a distant clicking sound as a bit of dust caught in her eyes and nose.

A large mini-van opened up, revealing an ice-chest of juice drinks and pre-packaged cheese.  Probably a few apples.  The sorts of innocuous things that meant a mom was dedicated to her daughter and to the team by extension.  The kind of attention that was great now and would be stifling later.  Alexandra wondered what it would be like to feel so stifled.  She’d be just as unable to talk about last night if she was, she mused, though for entirely different reasons.  Oh the humanity.

Humanity.  She’d seen humans on TV.  She’d talked about the alphabetical faces and what they meant.  He had stopped well before.  He had… and now he wanted to watch the game with her.  And he hadn’t told a soul.  And he had an extra ticket if she wanted to bring a friend.  A third wheel.  And it hadn’t felt as good as the movies said.  And the popcorn had gotten stuck in her teeth and the blankets had been wet after and he’d said there was shampoo and conditioner in the shower.  His hair was short; how had he known to have conditioner?  How had he known…

The phone chimed again and Alexandra realized she’d been staring at the bee for a long time now.  Her skin might even be a little bit burned.  It felt nice, and maybe, when it peeled, she’d be clean again.  “Are we good?”  Another chime.  “Say something.  I’m getting worried.”

She rolled over and tossed the phone in the air.  It came down to the side and she extended her hand to catch it.  Another toss.  Another catch.  Another toss.  This time she caught it with her left hand.  The tosses were growing wild.  She tossed it more gently and it landed between her shoulder and her head, a little away from her neck.  Fishing for it awkwardly, she sat up and watched the large golden-yellow dog lope toward where the frisbee had hit the grass and scratch at it, trying to get an edge so it would flip up and he could lift it.

Again, the phone chimed.  “We okay?”

That word again.  She hated it.  She hated that she’d said it.  She hated that she’d kept saying it.  She hated that he’d stopped and she hated that he cared so much it hurt to look at him.  She hated it and she hated him.  Except that  “Look, I didn’t know.  There are things I would have done.  We don’t have to do that again.  Ever, if that’s what you want.  I like and respect you enough to want to be your friend, anyway.”

A long text, this time.  She could picture him with his finger-length hair and his dark blue eyes and his chestnut skin and his high cheeks and beautiful, kissable lips.  His smell had lingered on her shirt.  She hadn’t washed that, yet.  Maybe that was the problem.  He’d looked so concerned, so worried that it had seemed his pain and not a reflection of her own when his gaze had reached her eyes.  Too much.  She watched one of the pale blue shirts shoulder-check one of the pink and white shirts.  The other girl went flying.  It was obvious she wasn’t hurt, though she played up a skinned knee as the ref blew the whistle and a friend from the sidelines helped to walk her from the field.

How he must be panicking, now.  She was one of the pretty and smart girls.  Not the queen bee and not one of the wasps that defended her, but popular enough to be an oscar winning victim.  She’d not meant to say everything was fine.  She’d not meant to do a lot of things, least of all follow the kid back to his house with the busted front lock and the thousands of carpet-stains.  Once it was happening, she’d not meant to cry.  Once she’d stopped crying, she’d not meant to feel worthless.  Once he’d wrapped his arms around her, she’d not meant to feel like she’d hurt him.

Another chime.  She held her phone up and squinted against the brightness of the sun.  “Do you respect me enough to be honest?”

Ugh.  Why wasn’t he just leaving her alone?  She texted back the word “Busy” and tossed the phone a little ways off in the grass, laying back down again.  Her skin felt tight, like maybe it really was burned a little.  Didn’t matter.  The heat was nice.

She closed her eyes.

Off in the field, the girls were high-fiving each other in the lineup, saying they respected their opponents.  There would be pizza and soda tonight and juice boxes in the here and now.  Even the losers had grins on their faces.  Everyone was a winner.  The dog’s excited footfall as it trotted after its frisbee again mixed with the music of another lazy bee and the phone made a ding sound followed by another chime.  She rolled over and picked up the device, noting her mom’s identifying picture in the corner.  “Working late.  Leftovers in fridge.”  “Gave the tickets away.  See you tomorrow in class?”

Well, there was that word again.  She hated herself for saying it then; she hated herself for saying it now.  There was no other phrase to use, though.  There was, however, a social constraint that begged compliance.  She would heat up leftover sloppy joe mix in the microwave and put it on fresh buns from the toaster onto a plate.  She could, if she wanted, make something fresh and original before slaving over the dishes.  She might even have enough petty cash to go out, or even call in sick and take some time away.  These were things she theoretically could do, though she knew she would not.  Instead, she gave the only answer that was acceptable.  She gave the only answer she could.  She looked at her mom’s line of text and flipped to the other.  On both, she wrote the same word.  On both, they meant the same.

Okay

 

 

Weekly Feature Editor #2: James (Jesse) Crawford

Mirror
By James Crawford
I.
I can’t speak for the mirror, standing
outside, I am inside & different, and
why question anything anyways if it’s
the room that thinks we live our lives
strange.
a tiny apartment, a kitchen, & a closet
is emptied of items that might suggest
— a couple is living, taking up
space (what else) standing several
feet apart they stare into a mirror.
II.
The space between us
is the void. a carpet.
the absence of a rug.
the thought of your dog
shedding in June the winter
we thought we’d lost him.
(it must be strange. alone.
in that big house)
I am behind you(hello)
I am living. more as couch
than person. you are window
(&I mess up. I call you television)
we change names the same way.
an old man complains. the summer
is hot. winter is not cold enough.
we change names hoping
humans
are seasonal things. will stick
around with the earth.
(men are not built in motion.
But in still hammocks of their own
imagination.)
Drying,
dripping wet. you come out of the
shower. the diffused
light. like a quick violence
in July. is frightening the blackbirds filling the
frame. obscuring you. (as an idea)
your form: a black cloud. your
nakedness: another kind of death. with
a towel crown. the fog dissipates. &it
appears that I am sleeping. Dreaming you
as television.
III.
As couch. A few years from now.
I sit &expect you among others.
today is your birthday. happy
birthday. I wonder if you will
leave your house. At the party,
people dance to wild music (Can
you recall the viola player’s face?
The dutiful shadow. Who stayed
Silent till morning. Needing only
the fare
to get wherever
he was going next.)
You arrive late under a large, Russian satellite.
Refusing Heaven. Like a crucifix.
You take the seat across from me.
Adjust your awkward antennae. Channel your suffering.
(with an umbrella, he shields you from the sun&
with his free hand points west, assuring you, “Arizona
didn’t kill your mother”
((no))
Your mother killed your mother in the second person,
&then poured herself a drink. I read it in a poem. It
was taped to a pipe under our sink.)
IV.
Through the open window
church bells come in& touch everything:
Your body’s black script
My own pale index of symbols. Naked by the
bookshelf where poems go missing (which poem.
this poem? I can no longer be certain) they knock
at my chest and wait for the heart to answer.
Yesterday,
I hung the mirror to the ceiling. Underneath,
our bodies took shape in a painting I’d make.
One winter alone.
Near the place where men kill chickens.
Believe the magician.
Two things can happen at once, but always
with the possibility
one or the other is forgotten.

Rejection Letters Sent to Famous People

It’s not easy receiving that cursed rejection letter in the mail, and often times it’s no easier for a publication to decide not to publish your piece.  No matter if you ever receive a rejection letter from us or any other publication.  It certainly doesn’t mean you lack talent, drive or a great career in the arts.  Don’t believe me?  The take a look at this great Mental Floss piece highlighting 10 rejection letters sent to 10 of our most beloved authors, musicians and artists.  Click the image for the full article.  Good luck to all of you in your bright, creative endeavors!

01006

Introducing the Editors for Spring 2014

Introducing our team of editors for the Spring 2014 issue of Forum Magazine!  These are the people who, thanks to your contributions and the help of the graphics department on campus, are able to put together this fantastic magazine every semester.

Katerina Argyres
General Editor

Katerina Argyres is currently enrolled in CCSF and SF State. When she’s not studying, working, or entertaining her dog she likes to watch old movies set in San Francisco and cook. She is currently on a detective novel spree. It is inspiring her to write short mysteries and narrate her daily activities like she is in a noir film.
~

Kristine Nodalo
Managing Editor
Drama and Visual Arts Reader

Kristine Nodalo has been living in San Francisco for ten years, but has continually failed to find the cool places where the cool kids hang out. In her spare time, she likes to hole up in her room with a pizza all to herself while watching Downton Abbey. You’ll usually find her hungry and searching for more food, or with her nose in a book.

~
Virginia Carrillo
Assistant Managing Editor
Poetry Reader

Virginia Carrillo currently works at a public library. She is a student at City College of San Francisco and wishes to obtain a bachelor’s in English literature.  Her house is currently infested with literature books and cats, all around!

~

01001

Leith Mahoney-Maver
Social Media Editor
Assistant Non-Fiction Editor

The daughter of two hippies from the Santa Cruz Mountains, the third of four children, left-handed, and she once met David Sedaris while living in Paris, which has been a life highlight.  She writes about all of it in a blog called The San Franciscan.
~
Osiris Walls
Fiction Editor
Assistant Drama Editor
Poetry Reader

not unlike the moon
dark, pulsing clouds will reveal
My Incandescence
~

Brian Fidler
Drama Editor
Assistant Fiction Editor

Brian currently studies English at CCSF and lives in Oakland.
~
Sara McKinney
Poetry Editor

 Writes, paints, and sings in San Francisco. A South Carolina native, she loves life in the city, but will never forget home. Her favorite color is all of them, and 2014 is going to be her year.

~

unnamed

Elise Stewart
Non-Fiction Editor
Visual Arts Co-Editor

 Since graduating from San Francisco State with a Bachelor’s degree in English Literature in 2012, Elise has endeavored to find employment that, in some way or another, would help to facilitate her unwavering wanderlust. After a number of ill-fits–including a short, yet soul-crushing stint as a slampiece in the tech world; a demeaning personal assistantship for a racist psychiatrist; and a dismal temp job at a bridesmaid-dress startup–she has cycled back to the academic bubble. Eager to reassume a place among those with full heads and empty stomachs, Elise has ungrudgingly shelved her travel plans to reenter the figurative space she feels most at home in: that of visual arts and literature.
~

Bryan Makishi
Assistant Non-Fiction Editor
Assistant Fiction Editor

 Bryan likes to find good books at garage sales and at his coin laundromat’s “Take a book Leave a book” table.
~
David Chang
Visual Arts Co-Editor

A facetious person.  Self-proclaimed “cool” (more like borderline narcissistic), he will always do his best to give you a good time and a good laugh.
~

unnamed 

Gary Baker
Business and Fundraising Manager
Events Coordinator

Born in the East Bay, Gary has lived all 48 years of his life in the Bay Area.  A baseball fan, softball player, music aficionado and pop culture junkie, Gary is also a former music marketing professional. Gary has returned to college to be an English teacher at the high school level. This is his third year as a part-time student at CCSF, and he will be transferring to SFSU in the fall.

The Ambivalent Protaganist

by Casey Baker

Recently, Huffington Post published an article (link:http://www.huffingtonpost.com/claire-fallon/great-male-protagonists-w_b_4044741.html) naming a few male protagonists from famous novels that no one would really wish to befriend if they existed in the real world. While the piece is an interesting, rather pro-feminist examination of generally brutish male characters, it leaves out an entire gender and examination therein.

Which led me to consider, of all of the characters I’ve met in the great Imagi-sphere that is the act of reading, which ones have I encountered who were both entirely compelling and also incredibly off-putting? Here are my top five.

1. Esther Greenwood, The Bell Jar – While Sylvia Plath’s semi-autobiographical novel is a strong examination of the stilted social mores of women during a specific time in history and the effects of those mores that still holds great weight today, Esther is someone I would never want to simply ‘hang out’ with. This isn’t to say she is an uninteresting protagonist, rather the opposite – as the old adage goes, “Misery loves company” and Esther’s way of thinking is so relatable to anyone who has lived under the oppressive, patriarchal hetero-normative society that still informs our culture today. A day with Esther would involve venting together, crying to let it all go, and then feeling miserable for the rest of the day. The novel is enough catharsis.

2. Tyler, Shampoo Planet (Douglas Coupland) – Tyler is what Coupland labels a “Global Teen” and part of Generation Y, a generation that I unfortunately belong to simply by a matter of years. Tyler embodies everything I dislike about my generation, including a mindless adherence to consumerism that even reaches into a desire to be a corporate CEO simply because corporations control so much of the consumer media, a misplaced admiration in Reaganomics, flightiness in both life and love, and a copious amount of hair products to keep up a facade of stability and self-assuredness. By the end of the novel, Tyler finally realizes that his interests are transient and not based on anything real or sincere, but by then he has already ruined things for himself in many ways. I suppose a part of what I dislike about Tyler is that he does remind me of some elements of myself at a much younger, more naive age.

3. Clay (Bateman?), Less Than Zero (Bret Easton Ellis) – Clay is a spoiled, rich Southern California jerk. His friends are detestable, his life is by and large meaningless, and he is generally an amoral bit of driftwood, floating along a tide of drugs, sex and unhappiness. While Clay is fascinating because his life does well to satirize much of the LA culture and its excesses in a very dark series of parties and meaningless relationships, he is also someone who would casually sit across a dinner table with you, coked up and barely paying attention. A real sleezeball. It doesn’t help that his brother is possibly the one and only American Psycho, Patrick Bateman.

4.  Shannon McFarland/Daisy St. Patience/Bubba Joan/Whatever, the narrator of Invisible Monsters (Chuck Palahniuk) – After getting her face shot off, the narrator of Invisible Monsters meets the queen of train-wrecks, Brandy Alexander, and the two go on a pill-stealing, soap-operatic crime spree of epic proportions. While the narrator and her story are hilarious and continuously compelling throughout the several ridiculous plot turns of the story, she’s also incredibly psychotic and someone you wouldn’t even trust with your dying houseplant. Steer clear of this brand of crazy, despite how fabulous she seems.

5. Ms. Valerie Frizzle, The Magic Schoolbus – While the idea of shrinking into microscopic sizes and exploring the cells of the body or diving deep into the dark, black ocean with a bus submersible seem incredibly fun for any kid, the reality of the situation is that this woman is more than a little deranged, willing to put her students right into the jaws of danger just to teach them a lesson about plant chlorophyll or the inner workings of stomach acid. Ms. Frizzle is a dangerous woman with dangerous ideas.

What are your type five fiction frenemies?