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Commencement

Middle Name Mag - Monday, May 16, 2016

Hi, it's me.

 

I just wanted to write to tell you that I’ve made a horrible mistake and I’m sorry. For the most part of the past couple of years, I have regarded the beautiful anthology of stories and love you have collected for me as a car manual as opposed to the fairytale which you describe to me as the best sixteen years of your life. You carried these memories like prized medals, and I wore them like pieces of string messily tied around my fingers. Now your medals have faded from age and my strings are starting to unravel due to my lack of upkeep, and I have realized that I might never forgive myself if I let this part of our lives disappear. When people ask me where I come from I want them to know that this is it. So, from me to you, I think our story is worth telling.

 

I don’t remember when you moved to be here with us. Maybe because I wasn’t alive yet, maybe because I’d like to believe that I was special enough for you to shoot yourself however many miles down south to be with me. Regardless, I’m sure that Auntie Marian threw a fit, probably assuming that you chose Conner and me over her kids. The thing I do know for sure is that you were here when I popped into the world on June 18th. I can see you standing next to the hospital bed holding me in your nimble hands, calloused from countless hours performing extensive surgery. I’d like to think that you said something reverent and beautiful, and knowing you, there is no scenario where you did not thank God or my parents, or maybe even me, for allowing Grace Eliene Olson to be a part of your life. I didn’t understand this part of you for a long time, the part that was endlessly gracious and grateful. Perhaps I was too young and self-absorbed to comprehend the beauty of your selflessness. I wish that I could go back to that hospital room and respond in kind, whisper in your ear how lucky I am to have you, but you can never go back, only forward.

 

- grace eliene

 

 

Cracks

Middle Name Mag - Monday, May 02, 2016

It’s half-past ten and your dad’s silver BMW – ten years old, not worth more than three thousand bucks – pulls into the parking lot of the 7-Eleven a few blocks away from your house. You are sitting in the passenger seat while your dad drives and the car is quiet except for the sound of wheels turning against the pavement and a muffled R.E.M. song that you used to know. You pull past the gas pumps towards the fluorescent store front, your pulse involuntarily rising at this small act of defiance against your all-organic mother. Your dad turns off the car and the music comes to an abrupt conclusion. You had heard silence described as heavy before, but perhaps you previously never quite understood the metaphor.

 

You pass a single Snickers bar and a can of Arizona Mucho Mango Iced Tea to the gangly dropout perched behind the counter, and, seeing your total light up in green LED, pass him a five dollar bill. He hands you eighty-four cents and a plastic bag. You nod in his general direction as you push open the glass door and step in to the night air.

 

All your life, you have opened car doors with too much force, yanking on the handle and tripping over your own feet, and tonight is no exception. Your dad is still sitting in the drivers’ seat with the engine stalled, his eyes closed and 80s new-wave once again leaking through the speakers. He doesn’t open his eyes when you sit down on the fake leather seat and pull the door shut behind you, so you fasten your seatbelt and unwrap your candy bar. As you are chewing the first bite and rummaging through the plastic sack in search of your iced tea, it occurs to you that the moment has a particular cadence about it. You think that you would like to do this again, but even as you are still sitting in it, the details of the experience have begun to slip through the cracks in your mind. Then your dad opens his eyes as if waking from a dream and smiles at you while he shifts the car into reverse. The silence persists in the air, but moments later it has faded into the background.

 

- maye hadley

 

 

WHILE THE SUMMER TURNED GLAUCOUS

Middle Name Mag - Friday, April 29, 2016

she had been smoking outside of the language studies department and her cheeks were flushed from the certain change in temperature but her eyes were the most vivid you’d ever see them

 

you asked her name and she replied quickly, but the following words were laced with mild curiosity

 

“phoebe, you?”

 

“maeve”

 

she glanced down at the pavement and inhaled sharply but you noticed the corners of her mouth curve upwards ever-so-slightly, as though she was amused about something you couldn’t even begin to comprehend, but of course you didn’t notice that then

 

you were too caught up in the way she held herself up, the way she gesticulated when she stressed her words even though the conversation was anything but serious, the way she looked just directly past you until she said something that piqued your interest and looking at you so directly that you almost felt a string attaching the two of you and fixing your gaze upon each other

 

again, maybe you’re just imagining what happened and translating it into something far more beautiful than it ever was

 

five of your favorite minutes

 

you got her number

 

she got yours

 

that’s all

 

- isabel mercedes

If the Shoe Fits

Middle Name Mag - Tuesday, April 05, 2016

Do you remember going into your mother’s closet and trying on all of her shoes? I do.My mom’s closet lay beyond her bathroom, and, after trying on various lipsticks and spraying her flowery perfume into the air until a thin layer of sharp-scented dew covered the countertop, I would parade in, happy to play Cinderella for a few hours with my mother’s high heels. I would dance around in shiny black flats or strappy golden heels, toes sliding into a red pump’s tight point, heels clapping against a thick cork wedge.

 

As I got older, my feet grew to the size of diving flippers that slapped the ground instead of dancing lightly across it. I could no longer so easily slip my feet into my mother’s petite, delicate shoes. I would sit on the floor of her closet, and attempt to cram my feet into the shoes that once made me feel like a princess, this time feeling rather like an ugly step sister. I stomped around, my feet spilling over the toes or hanging off the back of a heel. This ritual would continue until my feet ached and blistered, and only then would I return to my room, defeated.

 

When I turned 15, I fell in love with a boy. It was a perfect fit. He called me beautiful, and when I ran, he always chased. My heart soared at the thought of being loved and seen as special in the eyes of someone who wasn’t my mother or father. I was living in a fairytale. But in a few months, the clock chimed midnight on the eve of our relationship, and just like that, the magic disappeared. I pursued him desperately. He ran and I chased, him always the faster. I called out, showing him my heart, hoping he would want me again. He didn’t. I watched as my vision of a perfect Prince Charming shattered like glass. He stopped calling me beautiful. He stopped thinking I was special. It turned out the shoe just never fit. I worry that I will find myself at 80 years old still trying to wedge my feet into teensy heels, unable to squeeze my toes into the fragile pairs some girls twirl in so easily. For now, I guess I’ll just keep trying on shoes, venturing out of my mother’s closet to pursue a perfect fit.

 

- grace eliene

 


 

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