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2012 Literary Supplement
2 3 4 Chris Brown – “Waking Hours” Jocelynn Marsden – “Homes” Melissa Ens – “After Another Troubled Night” Melissa Ens – “Writers” Richard Krahn – “It’s All I Can Do” Joel D. Blechinger – “Johnnie-B” Debby Adair – “Picnic”

Inside

Natasha Morrow – “Surplus” Debby Adair – “Lullaby from Avice Cunny, c. 1589”

ICE COLd... I stared blankly at the soda machine’s inane message blink on its small, dull ticker. “What a sorry existence,” I said to no one in particular. I meant the ‘d.’ That single, solitary, lowercase ‘d.’ Forever would the lowercase ‘d’ be ostracized from its uppercase brethren— ICE COLd... “Though that makes sense, of course. An uppercase ‘d’ in this string of lights would look like a zero.” ICE COL0... “But suppose the drink machine just got filled? Those drinks are not—“ ICE COLd... “And suppose some poor schmuck buys a warm drink? The schmuck’s pissed off, and the machine is a liar. But that’s not the machine’s fault.” GrACIAS “Or further suppose that the machine is tired of saying—“ ICE COLd... “Perhaps it has become apathetic about proclaiming the sub-zero state of its innards to a permanently disengaged world? This machine is relaying some deeply personal information, and, in short, no one gives a flying fuck.” UH-UH “So, as I was saying: perhaps the machine is tired of the old--“ ICE COLd... “Song and dance. Suppose the machine wanted to tell off those insensitive pricks who assault the machine,” at this, I patted the soda machine’s dusty and dented exterior, “in the hopes of procuring a free frosty beverage.”? OW STOP I plugged a few coins into the machine, and made my se-

ICE COLd
by Kyle Leitch

In the rain in the sun he stands as all the world laughs at him, the fool, while a little girl from the nearby town brings him a lunch each day and a thermos at noon thinking him quite brave.

W alter on the East Docks
by Cassandra Hubrich

lection. The old machine’s gear work groaned and moaned from years of immobility. Finally, the great beast sprang into life with a great whirring and clinking of glass in its belly. The bottle dropped into the small steel catcher with an audible Clink! I plucked the bottle from the catcher—gently, by the neck—and popped the cap off with the machine’s convenient, albeit rusted, bottle opener. “I wonder why you don’t see machines that dispense bottles, anymore,” I pondered with my same non-company. “Yessir, when I was a kid, there was nothing like wrapping your lips around the steaming head of an—“ ICE COLd... “Bottle, and drowning in the sweet, sweet taste of—“

They say the man is crazy the one who fishes from the docks each day reeling in pike to everyone's surprise, 23 lbs. and letting them go saying This isn't the one as the little girl nods in agreement.

The putrid, stale, dusty-tasting liquid seared the back of my throat like the first puff a ten-year-old takes of his neglectful father’s cigarettes. I turned, spit the slop out, and vomited violently. Even stomach acid couldn’t wash the taste of that foul liquid out of my mouth. “What in God’s name was that?!” I yelled at the machine. “That wasn’t cola! That wasn’t even—“?ICE COLd... I turned the maroon bottle over in my hand, and wiped some of the grime from the label with my thumb. Dr. Simpkins’ Cranberry Cure-All. Circa 1954. I glared incredulously at the soda machine. “You treacherous bastard!” I pounded the front of the machine angrily. “After all of the defending I did of you, this is how you repay me?! What do you have to say for yourself?!” ...HA-HA Perhaps soda machines aren’t bored. Perhaps they’re just assholes.

Lover from a foreign land, you had to go back home. You stepped away, removed your hand, and left me all alone. The kiss was short, the goodbye sweet, I cried to see you go. You promised me once more we'd meet, again we'd say hello. The future bright, my heart so young, I believed your every word: Je t'aime, mon lapin. Je t'appelleras. The passion inside me stirred. Day and weeks, then months went by, then months turned into years. With still no call, it's clear you lied. You caused so many tears. To this day, the little things remind me of your voice. Some nights I wonder why you left and how you made your choice. I hope that you have no regrets; I hope you're doing well. I hope that you're enjoying France. Love, ton ex-amante casuelle.

Untitled (On se reverra)
by Cassandra Hubrich

Dawn. Light breaks into twilight greys and spills into the clouds, then seeps over the hills, giving each leaf and blade its own muted glory. Through the night raged tempest and fear and wind, threatening to tear it all down, that structure so laboriously established. But once again, the sun has come, replacing turmoil with peace and light and glory, accomplishing what we never could.

After Another Troubled Night
by Melissa Enns

We think so highly of our mistakes, groan in misery at the darkness, think ourselves so helpless... and we are. Still, we underestimate the sun and its infallible capacity to rise again and again over our troubles, rendering what was shadowed grey and dying inexplicably beautiful... complete. So, we cry out to the sun in the night when our bones shake and our guts seem ready to fall out; let him come and illuminate the path at our feet, outline our features in glory, and bring the impossible light, which relentlessly makes all things new.

Waking Hours
by Chris Brown
Pretty much the usual morning, but greyer maybe, and he could see his breath. He got into his car and sat looking towards where the sun would normally have peeked out from behind the houses and saw the spider crouched an inch above the driver side windshield-wiper. He listened to the wandering trill of the wind through a crack in his door seal, a lively sound from his childhood, and slid a key into the ignition. Morning spiders were a common occurrence in this neighbourhood. He had, in fact, used his windshield-wipers to eradicate spiders on several occasions, but that morning he was distracted by a thread of thought that unravelled somewhere in the haze of last night, and so he paid the spider no more attention than the first drop of rain which signed the glass as he stepped on the clutch. That funny thing, his irrational fear of spiders and the fact that they have as many eyes as they do legs, did not surface because he was here and the spider out there. He did notice the spider, though, when he pulled onto Vic and accelerated. It fumbled forward and comically splayed its legs in an attempt to stabilize itself, but the rain was coming faster now. Sorry bud, not gonna last long. When he stopped at a light, the spider regrouped slightly, edging its way back between the swaying wipers. The glass was dark and slippery. He was sure the spider would disappear when he hit highway speed on the Ring Road. This time, instead of splaying, the spider crumpled into itself, looking less and less recognizable as any kind of living being. It thrummed with the engine, small and oblivious and barely visible. He found himself slowing slightly, but only slightly, because this was only a spider, and because a familiar black car went by and his mind fled, quietly, somewhere behind it. It was early, after all, and his thoughts were tired and the rain was cold.

introverts you don’t know what they’re talking about, so cleverly masked it is by the words. they are puffed up, important in their own eyes— nevermind mistakes— only they know they have the power to control your minds.

Writers
by Melissa Enns

by Jocelynn Marsden
Behind walls constructed, plywood, polyester, plastic our coveted livelihood, cherished individual favorite blanket Illuminated by soft lighting, hiding in modern decorating the places we hold closest, homes Yet, alienated and contained mirrors of social constructs, judge our behavior within, specific dichotomies exist to ease our sensibilities The landscapes planned or otherwise look like the insides of bodies fenced off not quite natural close the front door, stop the draft, save energy close us off from others keep us safe DEADBOLTS click click click turn in the night while lights turn off in the different frames My view, like a gallery of paintings animates itself in front of me and slowly becomes stale like the heavy breathing contained within While humans dream, and turn fluff pillows and try to sleep make grocery lists and think about MTV––the shows they need to tape The various forms of monotonous escape Where is the mystery? Am i as self contained and alone as the rest? Houses hold the lonely in its creaking embrace and temporary nature; the knock and hum of furnaces and the sounds of slumber while trying to forget my own

Homes

It’s all I can do, Girl – Just walk the straight and narrow. It takes all my strength ‘Cause I’m not a straight arrow. I’m bent and I’m twisted. I’m the bad boy Your Mama insisted Would drag you down.

All I Can Do
by Richard Krahn

What are you hiding behind your numbered lot? in glass your shadows dance for me hiding behind my own facade stucco, salmon pink my perch, my core, my prison perhaps You hide your own details, the messy bits the small fragile tensions sexual or otherwise The gathering and placement of furniture drinking wine, eating dinner alone

You think your love can save me? Ha! It’s all I can do, Girl – Just take my medication. ‘Cause it takes all my strength To keep the madman at bay.

Hiding within the shrouding nature of egyptian cotton I wonder what you're thinking behind the drywall Kubla's paradise, or tortured abyss? You cook dinner, practice domestic rhetoric, things in specific places abstract art growing up, painting over the walls fresh coat, new life as though peace is obtained superficially Are we happy in the dwellings we so adamantly cling to? In the night the peaceful structures, spaced precisely according to land line fenced, isolated, content Are you hiding animosity, violence, new families? I see you in the kitchen you’ve opened the pantry no motivation staring blankly nine times I stare out my own widow, a barrier solemnly Contemplating the lives of others

And yet you are still awake as am I I want to peer into your dining room activities fly on the wall so late in the night I want to hear the trickling of words off tired lips foot in the door half dwelling within the domain of sand The beer finds its spot on the table, the tenants dwindle off into their respected locations, you stare briefly into the night; life ceases to exist for spying eyes, continues as normal for those inside.

Almost 5:30 lemonade sitting in half-empty styrofoam cups flies buzzing upturned icecream cones I wanted to offer to clean up, but couldn’t miss seeing the car

by Debby Adair

Picnic

I fidgeted then heard music before dust clouds rolling behind tires windows down Cowboy hat on

Johnnie-B
by Joel D. Blechinger
It is a shoe. There is a shoe. I see it out of the corner of my eye. A little red velvet flat adorned with embroidered sequins, lying in the middle of the crosswalk. Crushed several times by the oncoming traffic with tire marks tracked into the white insole. Without looking, I run across with my hands outstretched toward it on the ground. Stooping over, I notice the light in the yellow hand turn solid, stale, unblinking. And then I hear the noise. They are pressing their horns. They are angry. A man in a black Acura rolls down his window and takes a swing at me as he passes. I rise with it, clutching it to my chest. I stow it in my knapsack. I just keep saying, “No. No, no. You don’t see. No, no. You don’t see. No. This is a shoe. There was a shoe there. I found it. I found a shoe there. This is her shoe. I found it. I have the other one.” But they do not hear me, and I do not hear them. On the morning after Christmas in 1996, a mother picks up a strange note from her stairway step. The three-page letter says, among other things, that they have taken her daughter and want money. She goes to her 6-year-old daughter’s room and finds her bed empty. When I was very young I had an awful time with wetting my bed. I can remember the terror that greeted me when I would jerk awake soaked. I would still be warm, but, within a short time, I would be very cold. This is because I would not rouse my parents. I was afraid to tell them. Instead I would stare at my ceiling for hours – my thighs turning raw, my nose prickling with the scent of urine. In the morning, I would hide the sheets in the back of my closet. But the smell was overpowering, and, by the time I returned from school, my mother would discover them. She would meet me at the door, unsmiling, forcibly grab me by the wrist, and lead me to my room where they would lay piled next to my stripped bed. “Take them downstairs. Take them to the cellar,” she would say, drumming her lacquered nails on my dresser. “There’s a bucket of bleach there that I’ve prepared – soak them in that!” Avoiding eye contact, I would descend, piled high with the balled sheets, often not able to see my footfalls. By the time I reached the sink I was usually quite nauseous from the smell. Once, turning the corner, I placed my heel deliberately on the edge, and I fell the whole flight, slamming my head on the corner of a protruding wooden windowsill. Sobbing at the bottom, and splayed across the yellowed sheets, I looked up to see my mother appear at the top of the stairs. “Baby! Baby, I’m sorry!” With mascara streaming down her face, she flew down and pressed me to her chest. As she massaged my aching scalp and dabbed at my hot tears, I felt like a doll that she was mending. I could hear her heart pounding. teeth. I wonder how many she has lost.

He swung out of the church driveway and for a moment I prayed for us to be swallowed up hidden inside the clouds of music music and dust

He waved I glanced instead behind me and walked slowly to the car as if we did this every day

And it pleases me that Sister Socks was at her side. We will all need this in the end.

JonBenét Ramsey and I were born exactly twenty days apart in August of 1990. She is twenty days my senior. JonBenét Ramsey’s tombstone reads “August 6th 1990 – December 26th 1996.” It also reads, “Love. Purity and Joy. A gift to her family and the world. Home in the Peace of God.” I do not remember what I did on December 26th 1996. I have memories of what I might have done. But, if I need them, I am sure there are photos.

Patsy Ramsey rises to her knees, her arms straight overhead, and calls out, “Jesus! You raised Lazarus from the dead, raise my baby from the dead!” The window is open, and, though several blocks away, she can faintly hear the synthetic din of a car alarm amidst the howls of the many cursing neighbours. Do you know the America that smiled at your father every day? That he saw in the pupils of the people he met? That they felt in his shaking hands? Do you know the America that winked at him from the mirror? That chased his morning spittle down the drainpipes? Do you know the America that ashed his cigarette? That wrote him a song? That licked the dregs from his bottle? Do you know the America that danced just for him? That teased his cock before bed? That signed his initials next to a circled total?

Sometimes, I wish that we could prove that there exists the ever-loving heart of God. That somewhere pulsing violently above the clouds it rests, its palpitations causing bouts of strange precipitation and unexpected changes in the weather. But then I reconsider when I realize that we could then also prove that we are capable of breaking it. On est capable de briser le coeur de Dieu. Do you know the America that greets you every day? That you see in the faces of the people you meet? That you feel in the hands that you shake? Do you know the America that gazes at you from the mirror? That watches your morning spittle slink down the drainpipes? Do you know the America that lights your cigarette? That sings you a song? That drains the dregs of your bottle? Do you know the America that dances just for you? That strokes your cock before bed? That jots your initials next to a circled total? I do, and she is staring back at me. Little Miss Colorado, National Tiny Miss Beauty, Little Miss Christmas. These are the names that I give her. It is on my wall. She is on my wall. I can see her out of the corner of my eye. There is a white bow in her hair, rising out of the back of her head. She is wearing a navy blouse, lapels trimmed neatly in white. She has a necklace on, slung lopsidedly across her neck. Her eyes appear to be pointed upward, as if she is staring beyond the camera. She is smiling, revealing a row of immaculate white

I read, Cosmetics and a pageant gown conceal the deep furrow around her neck. She wears a tiara, and Sister Socks, a stuffed kitten, is at her side. John and Patsy are in the receiving line to greet the several hundred people who have come to pay respects to their daughter. Patsy’s mother, Nedra Paugh, “flits about,” taking people by the arm and leading them to the open casket to see her beautiful granddaughter in her crown and gown. And I think, crown and gown and crown and gown and crown and gown and crown and gown and crown and gown and crown and gown and crown and gown and crown and gown and crown and gown and crown and gown and crown and gown and crown and gown and crown and gown and crown and gown and crown and gown and crown and gown and crown and gown and crown and gown and crown and gown and crown and gown and crown and gown and crown and gown and crown and gown and crown and gown and crown and gown and crown and gown and crown and gown and crown and gown and Johnnie-B was crowned in death as in life as in death.

The shoe. The shoe that I found. The shoe that I rescued. I have two of them now – a pair. They are very dirty, but I think they are expensive. I think they were expensive. Whoever lost them must be sad. I think I would be very sad if I lost shoes that were this expensive. The funeral services are held in Atlanta’s Peachtree Presbyterian Church. The Reverend Dr. W. Frank Harrington tells the mourners, “I can tell you that the heart of God is broken by the tragic death of JonBenét.”

The Reverend Dr. W. Frank Harrington tells the mourners, “I can tell you that the heart of God is broken by the tragic death of JonBenét.” The Reverend Dr. W. Frank Harrington tells the mourners, “I can tell you that le coeur de Dieu est brisée par la mort tragique de JonBenét.” The Reverend Dr. W. Frank Harrington, after winking, tells the mourners, “I can’t tell you. I can’t tell you anything. If I did I would spoil it.” Then, when the Reverend Dr. W. Frank Harrington is alone, crossing the parish lawn with an easy gait, he sings to himself this rising and falling incantation just above the whisper of wind through leaves: On a brisé le coeur de Dieu and we have photographed its many pieces.

And here I stand with God’s own hand imprinted in my womb A special song, from lust gone wrong love locked me in a room So now I wait, ’tis Heaven’s gate not oil from Hell’s own pot

Lullabye from Avice Cunny, c. 1589
by Debby Adair
They said a prayer and threw me there so death could save my soul With one small move, then I did prove my belly was worth the wait You let me down, he would have drowned two lives, two souls at stake What they don’t know, is as he grows he’s still a piece of me

In six month’s time, they’ll take what’s minehe’s mine, not there’s, he’s not I thought I knew your flame was true our love, for me surreal But when I told, your eyes ran cold as the river I would feel

I’ll will him strong, he’ll do no wrong his life will set me free My hang will come, so you’ll be done of blame, of shame and pest

You ran to town, they found a gown and wrapped me head to toe

But none can save your wretched name cursed from eternal rest

She couldn’t stop touching it. For the tenth time that morning, Donna reached her right arm across her body and ran her hand over the lump just below her left armpit. She was sure it hadn’t been there the night before. Surely she would have noticed something like this, wouldn’t she? It was broad, three inches wide at least, and protruded only slightly from her body. She pressed her fingertips against it and felt them sink into its fleshy texture. She could press into it easily enough. It was definitely part of her body, not flimsily attached like a skin tag. But it was big enough that she could feel it press against her underarm when she lowered her shoulder. She wished the doctor could see her sooner than two days from now. Not like she had time to see him until then anyway, but you make time for something like this. She lifted a file from the top of one of the three piles on her desk and turned to her computer. She was typing intently when the phone rang. She had been concentrating; the sound startled her. She lifted the receiver to her ear. It was her husband, needing another favour. He knew personal calls were frowned upon by her boss. She quickly agreed to pick up his package, even though she would have to work through part of her lunch hour in order to leave early and get there before the store closed. “Thanks. Love you hun. What’re you gonna make for supper?” “I haven’t thought about it. Chicken, maybe?” Her boss appeared suddenly at the doorway of her cubicle carrying a stack of files with a small cassette on top. She quickly hung up and took the stack of dictation from him. The surface of her desk already obscured by similar stacks, she set this one down on the floor next to her chair. By the time she had picked up the kids from the sitter and driven home it was already a quarter after five. She dropped her purse on the floor, kicked off her high heels, and started supper, yelling at the kids to hurry and dress for their lessons. Charlotte had to be at dance by six, and Michael at soccer by a quarter after. Yesterday’s mail was still on the counter, so she opened the envelopes and separated the contents into piles. Charlotte limped into the room with one leg partway into a pair of tights, whining that she couldn’t put them on by herself. Donna bent down, pulled the tights off Charlotte’s leg, and put them back on the little feet, toes-first. Michael yelled from down the hall that he couldn’t find his soccer bag, the soccer bag that was in the hall closet where it always was. She unloaded the dishwasher and re-filled it, tidied and wiped down the countertops, fed the kids a few quick forkfuls, then hurried them to the car. She told Michael to wait in the car and ran into the dance studio with Charlotte. She hugged her daughter and turned to leave. Michael stood pouting in the doorway. “I didn’t want to stay in the car by myself.” Donna sighed in exasperation. “I swear, these kids. Sometimes I think I need eyes in the back of my head.” Other mothers standing nearby nodded their understanding. After lessons, she ran Michael’s bath and cleaned up the supper dishes so that she could fold laundry at the kitchen table while she helped Charlotte study her spelling words. Her husband called out from his recliner in the next room. “Donn,” he called, “could you grab the remote for me? It’s way over there.” Donna found it on the end table, picked it up and delivered it to him. “Thanks, hun. Could you make me some hot chocolate? I’m really tired. You’re the best.” He smirked, pursed his lips, and held his arms out to her. She rolled her eyes, grinned, and set the kettle to boil. After three bedtime stories and two glasses of water, she finally closed the kids’ bedroom doors and sat down to check her email. One from the community association

Surplus

by Natasha Morrow
Donna didn’t look sick, but hoped that whatever it was wasn’t contagious. Her boss said he hoped her emergency the day before had been satisfactorily handled and that she wouldn’t need to leave early again today. She nodded and almost reminded him that she had gotten his permission. He set another stack of dictation on the floor by her filing cabinet and left her cubicle. During her two daily breaks, she called the indoor playground to book a date for Michael’s birthday party, made dental appointments for both kids, scheduled haircuts for all of them, and responded to a few of her neglected personal emails. At the end of the day, her fingers were sore from typing and her neck ached. She made a quick stop at the grocery store for milk and eggs, picked up the mail from their post office box, and was only fifteen minutes late picking up the kids from the babysitter. She made a quick supper so that she would have time to drop Charlotte off at her piano lesson before she went to her community association meeting. She meant to leave Michael at home but her husband arrived just as they were leaving and told her he needed to work in the garage that evening, so she took her son along. The association agreed they would do a cabaret fundraiser and Donna took home a list of tasks that she had been assigned to complete. At home, she put Charlotte in the bath and noticed that the tub had a prominent ring around it. Michael’s teacher had sent home a book for him to practice reading to her. As he struggled with the one and two-syllable words, she glanced at her wilting houseplants and dusty shelves. She couldn’t even remember the last time she had cleaned the floors. After she finally got the kids to sleep, Donna laid down on her own bed, exhausted. After a few minutes, she stood up and looked out the bedroom window to make sure her husband was still outside. The light was on in the garage, so she quickly undressed and put on her nightgown without removing the tensor bandage that was still wrapped around her torso. She didn’t want to look at it. Tomorrow she would go to the doctor and find out what it was and how they were going to get rid of it. She slept fitfully. She woke up at three a.m., feeling nauseous. She stumbled to the kitchen, swallowed two ibuprofen and went back to bed. When she woke the next morning, her husband had already left for work and the kids were still asleep. She locked her bedroom door, slipped her nightgown over her head, took a few deep breaths, and removed the bandage from her body. She noticed immediately that something was different. Now her right shoulder was slightly elevated and she couldn’t lay that arm flat against the side of her body. She reached across her chest with her left arm and felt a rounded bump, like a nipple-less, adolescent breast, swelling out of her body just below her right armpit. She began to hyperventilate. How could this be happening? She had never heard of anyone developing two identical tumours so quickly on opposite sides of their body. As she was pressing her fingertips into the soft, cushiony flesh of the new lump, she felt something unexpected and unfamiliar on her left side, the site of the original growth. She stopped hyperventilating, stopped breathing altogether, and slowly withdrew her left arm. Her left hand began to shake as she stared down at what her original lump had become. That cylindrical slab of flesh had elongated another six inches. As she watched in horror and disbelief, it began to move as if of its own accord, lifting itself away from her body and swaying from side to side. Soon it stopped moving and hovered in mid-air, as if in contemplation. Then it raised its rounded tip and slowly extended five slender fingers.

with the date of their next meeting, one from her friend Susan pointing out that they haven’t seen each other in six months and wondering if they are still friends (winky face emoticon), one from the kids’ school outlining upcoming activities and requesting volunteers, and one from her co-worker Gloria asking why she left early today because the boss had been looking for her. She read them all, then logged off without responding. Nine forty-five. How did it always get so late? She hadn’t even showered yet. She stood and walked down the hall to the bathroom and began taking off her clothes. As she slipped her top over her head, she caught a glimpse of her left underarm in the mirror. It occurred to her that she hadn’t thought about the lump all day. For a moment, she was almost glad that she was so busy, decided it was better that she stayed that way, so that she wouldn’t have time to think about it. Yet, despite her anxiety (and feeling, in all honesty, a little bit terrified), she leaned forward for a closer look. The lump wasn’t as obvious as she had expected, and its skin was soft and supple. Its pigment was the same as the rest of her flesh and it rose out of her side like a nipple-less, adolescent breast. That night in bed, her husband sulked when she nudged him away. He complained that it seemed odd she would always be too tired. He thought there must be something she could take for that. When she awoke the next morning, Donna felt immediately that the lump had grown substantially. She could no longer rest her left arm flat against the side of her body and she felt it not only beneath her armpit but halfway to her elbow. She waited until her husband had left for work, proffering the right side of her body to accept his habitual morning embrace, then she locked herself in the bathroom to inspect the foreign bulge. To her horror, it had nearly quadrupled in size from the day before. It was no longer a slight swelling of flesh but had in fact elongated in opposition to her torso. It was shaped like a cylinder, approximately four inches long, and it had girth and circumference. Her limbs began to feel numb and she collapsed onto the edge of the tub. What the hell was happening to her? This wasn’t right. She regained her composure enough to put her nightgown back on and make her way down the hall to the telephone where she promptly dialled the doctor’s office. She told them it was urgent, that she needed to see someone urgently about the lump under her arm. They were sorry but they had absolutely no openings. She would have to wait one more day until her scheduled appointment. The receptionist asked her to describe the lump and she would speak with the doctor about it. Charlotte and Michael walked sleepily into the room. Donna paused, then hung up the phone. She told the kids to get dressed for school, then called the office to tell them she was taking a sick day. “Okay. Don’t forget, we’ll need a doctor’s note.” She squeezed her hands together into fists. “Never mind. I’ll be right there.” She locked herself in her bedroom so the kids wouldn’t see anything, and hurried to get ready. She had no idea what to wear. She had to hide this thing somehow. She quickly realized that it was flexible enough to be flattened painlessly against the side of her body. She found a roll of tensor bandage in a drawer, held the growth against her body and wrapped the bandage around her torso. She looked a bit wider than usual, but that was all. The extra breadth of her body was easily concealed under her suit jacket. She looked at herself in the mirror, decided no one would notice, and wondered if she was going to die. After feeding the kids a quick breakfast, Donna hurried them into the car and dropped them off at school just as the bell was ringing. The receptionist at work said