Issue #86 Guest Editor Amanda Miska previously appeared as Storychord's Issue #81 writer and is the fiction curator at Luna Luna Magazine. Her work has been featured in or is forthcoming from Whiskey Paper, Buffalo Almanack, CHEAP POP, jmww, Cartagena, The Collapsar, Five Quarterly, Cartridge Lit, Cactus Heart, Pea River Journal and Counterexample Poetics. She lives and writes (and obsessively listens to music) in Northern Virginia, and you can find her procrastinating on Twitter as @akmiska.
YOU'RE RUBBER AND I'M GLUE / LIKE BREATH
Two Stories by Lauren Becker
You’re Rubber and I’m Glue
I would like to say to you that you do not know one single thing about me. I would like to say to you that you should not be proud of the things that make you proud. Which is mostly that you don’t give a fuck about how anyone else feels, and if you made them feel that way, you care a little bit because if you made them feel any way, it was bad. I would like to say things to you, but they would make you care a little bit or even a lot.
Issue #86 soundtrack: Luray "Promise of Lakes"
I would like to say to you with some conviction that I am pretty, I am smart, I am funny, I am kind, I am talented. I would like to say that you are nothing special. You didn’t finish high school and not because you were too smart. You are smart and other things, too. You work at a corner market. It’s where you meet us. You give us a pack of cigarettes. Or a Diet Coke. If I looked like someone else, you wouldn’t have given me a Diet Coke and I would have looked at you straight back and you would have looked away first.
You have the sweetest face when you sleep. You would hate this face, but you can’t help it. When you untense, you are outright beautiful. You look like your dad and you hate your dad, so handsome and kind. What did kindness do to you?
I take a picture of you sleeping and show it to you in the morning. You teach yourself to sleep on your stomach and grow your hair long enough to cover all of your face but the part that lets you breathe.
Your name is Ryan and mine is Lucy. You call me Goose. I call you Ryan.
When my eyes are cold, you become what I want you to be and I hate you and I hate me, but I hate me more. I try to learn to hate you so you will be what I want you to be all the time, but it doesn’t work that way.
Remember that day we went wine tasting? You acted like a grown up and wore that white button-down shirt and you didn’t take it off when I said you looked handsome. You did not mock the small wedding taking place in the vineyard. You paid for everything and kissed me at sundown, even though I wasn’t mad at you. You picked a grape for me. I nearly went down on one knee and asked you to be with me forever.
Remember the night we went to the bar down the street and you got drunk and tried to hit the guy who bumped you when he was trying to get past to get to the bathroom, even though he said excuse me and sorry? And you called me a bitch when I wouldn’t buy you a drink and said sometimes men buy drinks for their girlfriends instead of the other way around. You also told me I was not your girlfriend and tried to talk to some other girl who looked at me with such pity I just about went down on both knees and let the earth swallow me up.
Why am I with you? Why do I stay? Get out if you’re going. I won’t leave because you tell me. I won’t leave because I don’t want to leave. I won’t leave because you won’t. I stay because I remember what your face looks like when you sleep and the taste of that grape that would have been wine one day.
When I met you I was beautiful. It was nothing that happened. It was. It was nothing I learned. I knew it like breath. And I breathed it in the air. And I was able to be generous and I gave you things I thought you needed or said you needed or took anyways, thinking there would always be more. And then I grew small and you grew large and I asked of you and you would not give. And then I grew smaller. And I didn’t know that growth could be backwards. And I didn’t know that someone could un-grow you.
You withheld your touch and your patience and your permission and your beauty. We slept in separate rooms, drove in separate cars, ate separate meals comprised of different foods. We watched different movies and had different friends until I had no more friends. Until I had no friends at all, especially you. And I was alone and small and I thought I had nothing to give. And others read your words on me and took what was left.
I looked up at the moon and saw absence of sun, selfish pinpoints of stars. I wrapped myself against cold, but cold came in. And it grew familiar and I knew it like breath.
I walked at night, unsafe because I could not meet eyes. I walked all night, to test the presence of something more, then to fight the night air that burned my lungs, then to wait. I waited for a very long time. For all of time.
You conquered my history. And I rewrote it in terrible handwriting I did not recognize. And you took my voice and when my whisper was gone, I no longer cared at all. And just before I could not see myself in the mirror, I saw ugliness. And you were kind again.
And I took your kindness like a kitten. And I grew bigger. And I hid from you under loose clothes. And I walked in the day. And I met people’s eyes. And their eyes were so beautiful. And they saw my eyes. And they smiled.
And I took their smiles, suspect, then not. And I slept again, not missing your form beside me. And I smiled back. And they smiled more. And when you tried to reclaim my breath, I inhaled with expanding lungs. And I recognized my handwriting, and it told my own story. And I remembered my face and my hair and my body. And they were mine. And I knew you could not take what I did not give. And you grew small until you were only a selfish pinpoint. Until you weren’t even that.
Lauren Becker is editor of Corium Magazine. Her work has appeared online and in print at journals including Tin House, American Short Fiction, Wigleaf, and The Los Angeles Review. Her book of short fiction, If I Would Leave Myself Behind was recently published by Curbside Splendor.
Jayme Cawthern is a visual artist and vintage seller living in Central Pennsylvania. She received her Bachelor of Fine Arts in Painting from Slippery Rock University and has painted several local murals. After a short hiatus, she is trying to get back into a regular process. She's working on a website, but first: more paintings.
Luray is helmed by Washington, D.C.-based singer/songwriter Shannon Carey, who creates banjo-inspired indie rock fused with classic country and folk. Inspired by her travels, Luray is named after the Virginia town at the foothills of the Shenandoah Mountains. Their debut album, The Wilder, released August 27th, 2013, was recorded in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, with her brother/producer Sean Carey (of S. Carey and Bon Iver), and was nominated for Album of the Year by NPR’s All Songs Considered. Luray plays live as a five-piece: Shannon Carey on banjo, Sarah Gilberg on keyboard and vocals, CJ Wolfe on drums and mbira, Scott Burton on electric guitar, and Brian Cruse on bass. Luray has been featured on Daytrotter, WXPN, and Mountain Stage, and has been reviewed by The Washington Post, CMT Edge, Acoustic Guitar Magazine, and Utne Reader. Download the band's LIVE from The Wilder tour EP for free from Noisetrade, and follow their tours at luraymusic.com.