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TurlTimes

Volume III, Issue 2– April 1, 2012

I pushed upon my gate and found it gone - David Jeffrey

“Momentum”
Poetry and Prose from the students of the 2010 Oxford University Summer Creative Writing Program.

Contributors
Carolina Amoroso is an Argentinean teacher, writer and editor. She started learning English at the age of six, and has not been able to stop ever since. After sitting for several international English exams, she attended teacher training college at IES Lenguas Vivas, from which she graduated with honors. She then decided to continue her education abroad, and studied Creative Writing at Oxford University. She is currently doing an MA in English in hometown Buenos Aires. She works full-time as a teacher of English as a second language to kids, teenagers and adults. Early this year Miss Caro also started teaching writing. Following her experience at Oxford she undertook a collaborative writing project in the form of an electronic newsletter with her fellow classmates, for which she writes and is assistant editor. She hopes to combine her passion for writing and for English and turn them into a book, ideally a best-selling one. Stay tuned. Dipti Anand is a dreamer. An artist in training, she loves to draw and paint. She is currently halfway through finishing her BSc degree with a double concentration in Entrepreneurship and Creative and Visual Arts at Babson College, USA. Clearly this is all just a ploy to distract her friends and family from her true hopes and dreams, which are to be a Bollywood dancer. She has been writing since she was 9 years old and her first poem was called “Smile”. Dipti specializes in giving people false directions to well-known destinations and dressing as well as she possibly can, even when the weather is just absolutely unbearably awful. She also loves bubble tea. Sheila Armstrong is currently doing an M. Phil in Popular Literature in Trinity College. She has just finished an internship with New Island Books and will be staying on to do some editing work for the company. Her blog is doing well and she is incredibly busy. She is still struggling with her health, but hopes that the new year will bring a fresh start. Her blog is http://www.facebook.com/l/de316NBvi6VkKOwlDw1CX4U48Q/www.wrapitinwords.tumb lr.com Omnya Attaelmanan is currently exploring the many facets of getting an MA in Globalization & Development Studies, which include obligatory grad student broke-as-fuck-itude, unraveling the many mysteries of Dutch society (among other things, they appear to eat chocolate sprinkles on toast for breakfast and occasionally engage in mass blackface) and switching thesis topics 14 times. Her ultimate goal is to save the world, although she will also settle for the chance to rule said world. These days, she is far more likely to stumble upon the Holy Grail at a garage sale than she is to find the time to write fiction, but hopes to actually be able to hand in a full-length, predeadline submission to the Turl someday soon. She looks forward to a full Exonian reunion, tulip

season, Frank Turner’s return to the Netherlands in April, graduation, another day spent in the company of the loveliest man on Earth, the release of the Hobbit, and the moment she figures out where “home” really is – not necessarily in that order. She can be reached on Facebook, which currently owns her soul. Janet Barr is an Australian writer and filmmaker. She graduated with a Bachelor of Arts Honours degree from The University of Melbourne, majoring in art history, while continuing to work as a critical nurse to support herself and three teenage children. After attending Oxford University’s Creative Writing Summer School at Exeter College in 2010, Janet completed the Foundations in Film and Television Course at her Alma Mater’s Victorian College of the Arts in 2011. Throughout the year she wrote, directed and produced three short films, acted and crewed for fellow students and continued to hone her first full-length screenplay through multiple rewrites. Janet is currently researching the subject of her second screenplay sustained by family, friends, landscape and music from pop to rock, dance and blues to classical compositions, especially the repertoire of her favourite ensemble, the Australian Chamber Orchestra. She also enjoys reuniting with her Exeter College colleagues online as a regular contributor of short stories and essays to their international e-journal, the Turl Times. Always a keen traveller at home and abroad, Janet hopes to return to Oxford and another inspiring summer school in the not too distant future.

daily. It also featured well received features on Durga Puja celebrations and the Sunderbans wildlife sanctuary. Though she is in love with textin-print, she also enjoys writing for online media like www.caleidoscope.in and others. Her written work has also appeared in foreign and Indian publications like: the Times of India, Hans India, the 11th Issue of 34th Parallel, two issues of Fashion and Beyond, Kolkatamirror.com, On the Grass, issues of Turl Times, the winter issue and summer collaborative issue of Twenty20 Journal (a popular minimalist journal). She wishes to continue contributing to the world of published literature by way of quality fiction, poetry and journalistic writings. Ruth Cupp has been a Practicing attorney since 1954, columnist for SC Lawyers Weekly, writing third book, it is non-fiction and on the subject of unmarried teenage mothers.

Wafik Doss or (Fiko) Doss is 19 years old and lives on a farm in Cairo, Egypt. He is currently studying at the American University in Cairo and majoring in English and Comparative Literature. Wafik has inherited a love of literature and the fine arts from his mother’s side and his flair for business from his father’s. He dreams of traveling to Tibet, South Africa, and The Americas, and hopes of becoming a world-renowned writer. In his spare time, he fights off monkeys in Bali, incidentally, and loves swimming and traveling the world. Wafik has been writing poetry since the age of six and remembers his first ever poem, word for word, however he is too embarrassed to include it in the Rebecca Brothers is a junior English major at anthology. Walla Walla University whose poetry has been published in Cirque and The Gadfly. She has also Lorenza Hadda is a college student from Mexico. written numerous short stories, two novels, and a A warm hearted, sweet young woman, Lorenza screenplay, none of which has yet been can often be found wandering through Blackwell’s, published. During the ten months she spent reminiscing about excellent salads she's had in the teaching English in Poland, she began a weekly very recent past, and, unfortunately, sometimes food blog called “Cook, Rejoice, Repeat” at careening headfirst into thick, dense briar patches. rebeccainpoland.blogspot.com. Over the next Her long, flowing locks have inspired much twelve months, she intends to continue submitting jealousy in the female population. In the future, her work to journals and agents, as well as Lorenza hopes to spend a great deal of time applying to be a writing concentration student at strolling around sunny warm beaches and reading WWU and finding a publishing internship for the books under gently waving palm trees. If this fails, summer. She resides in an unheated house in the she has her heart set on becoming an Walla Walla Valley, along with two roommates archaeologist. and an itinerant ant population. She currently works as the head copy editor and “This I Believe” Cilla Henriette was born in an Indonesian family Committee chair at The Collegian, the student with mixed religious and cultural backgrounds. newspaper of WWU. Her innate curiosity of cultural richness and diversity has brought her to live in Singapore, The Trisha Bhattacharya is a creative writer born in Netherlands and now India. She works for Innate India and brought up amidst varying cultures and Motion, a brand development agency that helps geographies. Travelling and reading are some companies building more meaningful brands for of her interests in addition to creative writing. people and society. She feels fortunate with the Her repertory of educational qualifications opportunity to meet people across ages and include: creative writing at Oxford University, places around the globe through her job. She is online program in short story writing and poetry intrigued with real human issues and inspired to from Stanford University. Her contribution within voice these out through her writing. Cilla came to the sphere of creative writing spans - fiction, Oxford to expand her imagination and become a poetry and selective journalistic art, literature, better writer. culture, travel features and articles for print and online. A travel feature written by her about Oxford was published in Hans India, a print

General Copyright Notification All contents of the Turl Times are Copyright © 2012 On The Grass, its suppliers and/or participating publications, their contributors, licensors and/or advertisers. All rights reserved. All digitally represented pages of publications accessible through the Turl Times are protected by their respective copyrights. Notwithstanding reservation of rights hereby noticed, additional specific copyright notices of individual copyright owners may be provided below. Materials obtained through this or other Turl Times publications remain the property of the copyright owners of such materials and are also protected by national and international intellectual property laws, conventions and treaties and may only be used for providing proof of insertion and/or proof of publication for advertisements ordered for placement within the publication(s) in which they appear (if any). All other uses are specifically prohibited without prior written permission from the copyright owners(s) including but not limited to republishing in print, electronically, or by any other means; distributing, whether or not for payment or other consideration; or copying, reproducing, displaying or transmitting for any other purpose. These uses are prohibited whether in whole or in part or in combination with other materials.

CONTENTS
2 Foreward to the Turl Times Sean McIntyre “Spinning” Dipti Anand “Foxtails and Soup” Sheila Armstrong “Love Strokes” Janet Barr “Coconut Water” Trisha Bhattacharya “To Search, To Seek, To Find, but not to Yield”, “Myself the State”, and “Nameless for Now” Wafik Doss (Fiko) “Momentums” Cilla Henriette “Camus Café” Jackie Lee King “Norman and The Pickup” Sean McIntyre “How I Became (Almost) Roman” David Sgarlata BACK PAGE:THE NEXT ISSUE

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Turl Times Volume III Issue 2 – April 1, 2012 ISSN#: Pending Inquiries: Turl Times On The Grass LLC Publications P.O. Box 329 Beverly Shores, IN 46301 Editor & Publisher Jackie Lee King Assistant Editors Carolina Amoroso Dipti Anand Amy Lovat Sean McIntyre Images & Artwork James McDonough – Cover Photo Ashley McMillan – Coat of Arms Jackie Lee King James McDonough See Back Page for Image sources

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© Turl Times On The Grass LLC Pulbications All Rights Reserved 2012 The Turl times is a Private Newsletter distributed, via the Internet and print, to the students of the 2010 Oxford University Summer Creative Writing Program.

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Turl Times

Forward to the Turl Times
Sean McIntyre: Australia – Melbourne Oh I nearly forgot. While reading this edition, you may be interrupted by a loud bell. In the event of any emergency: Please put on your pyjamas. Seek refuge in the nearest chapel. Thanks. For me, the Turl is proving the perfect laboratory in which to experiment. For example, no doubt my choice of punctuation in some stories submitted to previous editions has raised an editorial eye-brow or two. Not to mention the odd red pen. This has its origins in an anecdote I read about Christopher Walken. I discovered that when he reads a script for a role he is preparing for, he has made a habit of inserting comma’s and full stops into his dialogue at oddly spontaneous spots. So I thought: “Why not short stories? I want to subvert a few rules too”. As a theme, ‘MOMENTUM’ seems to encapsulate the post-Oxford approach that I wanted to take to my Oxford experience: Use what I learnt. Keep going. Carry on practicing. Keep writing. Continue creating. Work at my craft. Develop my voice. Find my audience. Find a market! Knock over those 10,000 hours of practice. I haven’t kept count of the hours, but I can now say that I now have had 18,000 words published in print thanks to the Turl Times and On The Grass. Now that’s momentum. And that momentum has flowed into and informed my other creative interests and projects. And vice versa. Reading each new edition, I take much pleasure in the momentum apparent in every contributor. Even if contributions from our fellow ‘Turlers’ might be scarce from time to time, I’m pretty certain that their unpublished creative endeavours are powered by momentum as well. Anyway, can’t sit here all day waxing textual. Another creative road patiently beckons to inspire, entertain and move you. Buckle up, sit back and enjoy the ride. Within the following pages lies another magnificent, adventure-packed, prose-laden and highly imaginative edition of the Turl Times - Vol III Issue 2: ‘MOMENTUM’.

The Turl Times | Editors Intro Welcome!! Welcome to the first edition of the Turl Times for 2012, brought to you by: ‘MOMENTUM’. It’s the word that keeps you moving. I’ll be your Editor for this part of our journey together, which of course means that this edition will be diverting via the Antipodes. Come on. It’s not that bad. We’re not THAT far away! If Santa Claus can do it ad nauseaum/infinitum, one little trip in print Down Under won’t hurt you. We have a few formalities to negotiate, then I’ll pipe down to let you enjoy the pages that follow. Naturally before we get underway, there are some standard safety items to bring to your attention. Please observe that the following contributions have been submitted by highly talented writers. Their stories and poems may cause excitement, wonder and could even stir your imagination. It’s also highly likely that while reading you may be transported to another place. This is perfectly normal. I’m thrilled to be helming this edition. I would also like to confess that the Turl is a guilty delight for me. I have each edition printed, bound and tend to look forward to and read every contribution in every edition as though it’s been written especially just for me. Weird! But I guess that simply stems from the fact that as writers, I feel like I now know you all so well and enjoy your writing styles so much. So thankyou, I love your work!

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Dipti Anand India – New Delhi

insignificant faux pas of the body in the face of your power to move, to overcome the bondage of bone and muscle and the limited flexibility of the average person. Being inconsequential as it is, You still have an itch that You cannot scratch while the most average person sitting in the audience watching You can. Frustrated, You feel some feelings of displeasure bubble up inside You. Though overcome with the sensation to throw up, You stifle the commotion inside You with a robotic choreography that does not entertain a contortionist’s outlook, hoping one day your heart will also become tin-made so You will have conquered your feelings once and for all. The programming of the choreography now calls for a shrill yelp and You oblige, filling the Theater with the sound of yourself wailing. A bit too loud, You fear You have over-exposed yourself to the audience below, whom You can show your body but never the inner workings of it. You did not mean to cry so loudly but perhaps You slipped up despite the strong belief that a star performer like You could never make a mistake. Granted, You have always been performing even before You took the stage for the first time, putting up a show in smaller settings like family, friendships and romantic relationships. Now your audience operates on a grander scale, filled with strangers who understand You even lesser than You, yourself but perhaps slightly more than those You have only shared a façade with. There is still that itch You want to scratch but You cannot let go out of fear of the consequences. You cannot break-down into pellets of distress now because You are still mid-performance. Distracting yourself more appropriately, You theorize that the clashing purple and gold sequins on your tights must be odious to the senses, much more than the idea of a person wanting to be suspended in air of their own accord. You pose – unmoving for another rehearsed eight seconds. The only movement You experience is the chiaroscuro of the spotlight on the sequins, sparking little beads of fire that fire away at the sea of faces in the audience below, quenching them with some delight. Shades of dark purple and dark gold, light purple and light gold transform your body into an apparition but You feel guilty for fooling them into thinking You are a fantasy of any sort. You are aware that You have riddled the audience with the desire to know more about You, but You cannot trust them enough to comply with their wishes. Your Choreographer is perhaps the only person closest to You because no matter the heights the ropes take You to, she will always be the person who put You there. Amongst the flashing lights that twinkle like desperate heartbeats, You are stuck waiting for the dance of time to pass. You decide You need a small breather so You

“Spinning” Spinning so fast, You feel relieved when the wire lowers You to the ground but despite the synchronized choreography, You forget You are going to be yanked off your feet again. When the rope suspends You in air another time, You can see from the blurriest corner of your eyes as the audience below gapes at You with lips slightly parted to let little squeals of wonderment escape. You imagine what they are thinking about You, all the while intending to reinforce their approval by pushing your pelvis up, moving deeper into the orange lights and raising your legs in point as steadily as the shells of artillery. You hold yourself in position for eight rehearsed seconds, just long enough to ask yourself if they can really see You through all that make-up. Perhaps the corner of your eye is not the most trustworthy source so You must abandon reason and logic for the magic of feelings instead. By virtue of being the easiest to imagine and quickest to manufacture, a feelings’ lifestyle is the only justification You have for being so emotional. But as You correctly declare, someone who spends twelve out of twentyfour hours a day stuck in mid-air could never not be emotionally delusional. You want to itch a speck of a scratch on the right side of your nose but your arms are busy, extended, now wildly encircling the air around them. The tiny speck should be nothing in comparison to your majestic form, an

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close your eyes just to steal a few seconds of quick breaths that You are hopeful will carry You through the rest of the performance. As You exhale each consumed breath in exchange for fresher air, You find yourself growing fonder of the transience. But You are disappointed with the moldy smell of the dry-ice fog your Choreographer insisted would enhance the spectacle as a whole. You want to sneeze but You cannot afford to have any more complications settle in at this point. You force your thoughts to untangle themselves from each other feeling much lighter as the itch on the right side of your nose disappears. It seems to have melted into your momentary calmness, a much needed rest period before You start spinning again. You are a fantastic spinner since this is probably the fortieth time You have acted out this role of perfection, but sadly, You may not have lived it even once yet. Your mind is always far-off, travelling on emotional planes that take-off even when your feet are rooted firmly to the ground. But your feet have never been grounded thanks to the many hours a day You perform your duties. This perseverance has granted You perfect extensions, as if your body were boneless, as if two unhappy lovers were trying desperately to part ways, giving You the ability of resting at tipping point. After all, without this help You may have fallen off balance a long time ago. You often look like You are about to break in two pieces, maybe more, but You have trained your stomach to hold your body in place after all these years. Your choreographer has only one complaint: You cannot hold your mind in place, even if your body can stay still for hours. It is not a lack of concentration, You lack the heart, she always says but You are too high up in the air to listen to her. *** You are not a miracle, she reminds You. You are just a performer under the control of her choreography and the directions of everybody else. But You argue as a performer of miracles, You must be one yourself. Jumping, twisting, bending, turning into shapes that few people can are the gifts of a prodigy, You retort. Bitterness rises in your throat as You want to say a lot more than You should. Luckily, the curtain calls for the performance to begin and You walk away without saying anything meaningful. She also does not reply but only acquiesces to your stubborn spirit, perhaps more respectfully to your talent. *** Though she may be right about one thing, that You have been missing your heart for a while, not remembering where and when You dropped it. But You cannot think about that now because the idea of that is just too ridiculous. You

try to reason it is still there since there is no way You could soar in the skies night after night with the confidence of being the best at every move You make. But the constant suspension, pegged in the control of black ropes that decide your next move may have caused the blood to rush to your head. In the fervor of your own life gushing through your mind, You probably dropped it not into anyone’s lap but straight into the stage door that leads underground, into a labyrinth of darkness from which nothing pure can ever return. Surprised by your momentary abandonment of feelings for logic, You smirk, so faintly that the fleeting happiness leaves You more quickly than when it set in. The lights are slowly turning a dark shade of black and You feel your body stalling to a rest. They can still see You though, so You must make sure your neck is perfectly arched, your right hand is neatly tucked around your left hip, your left leg flexed supporting you as you hang upside down. The wire is lowering You on to the ground and You can feel your feet grow itchy, anxious to reconnect with the floor as the performance comes to an end. Over-wrought with exhaustion, You feel more tired with every step bringing You closer to the ground. In all the madness, You never once recognized the hidden desire to stop and take a moment’s rest. Perhaps tomorrow You will take your first day off. It may be sinful but it is definitely not your only vice, so You reason that You do not have to feel so strongly averse to the idea of giving in to a simple desire. But before You can convince yourself of making yourself happy, You immediately grow angry, shouting at yourself in a tone your Choreographer would use. You cannot take the day off, she would say. You have to practice perfection every single day or You will lose it. An argument ensues in your head; You yelling at your Choreographer, she yelling back at You while your body just hangs like an elastic band waiting to snap. As the rope is still lowering You to the ground, your body rests but your mind has begun a performance of its own. It is spinning out of control. You want to risk losing perfection for something more real. You want to try to stop, to give up the speed for just eight seconds and the sensation should last You a lifetime. But You are not strong enough to give up and give in to yourself. Ironically, applause breaks out as the audience slowly ripples to life after two and a half hours of silence. You are startled but more surprised since You have not made a decision yet and that should warrant more silence, not applause. Amongst the fog of confusion and thunderous clapping, You somehow remember it is time for your finale. One last spin and then You can touch your feet back on the

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ground, unbothered by how long it will take your mind to follow suit. The audience cannot see You but they can feel your presence. They are waiting anxiously for You to delight them once more, but You are settling into the quiet discomfort of giving up. You want to oblige the choreography again but your limbs hang dead on your side, refusing to move even if You willed all the life you have left into them. Questions of the mechanics of movement hang heavily over your thoughts and despite all the reasons and the logic and the feelings, You just cannot do anymore. A flash of glitter catches your eye, surprisingly since the chiaroscuro has become yesterday’s secret in the dim lighting. Perhaps earlier, only You could see the accents the light made on the sequins and You just imagined that the audience could see You the way You saw yourself. Perhaps the beads of fire never made it all the way down, your make-up too heavy for the audience to notice anything else.

Stuck on You, these beads of fire have burned You in their shrinking heat. You are no longer rising like a flame, but fading, falling and giving in to a half-hearted somersault that throws You off-balance. You are filling with sadness as tears pour down the insides of your body because You cannot risk over-exposure again. You just want to get to the ground as soon as possible. With a last spurt of energy, You fling your body into the air, flapping your arms gracefully to speed up the descent. Falling deeper into freedom, You break into a broad smile, a whole piece, as You escape the suffocating grasp of the ropes. Suspended without a harness, You fall flat on the ground, the final rest before the next performance. You give up.

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Sheila Armstrong Ireland – Sligo

The worst were the lambs. We would often find one mauled in the field; wool clotted with dirt and blood. I would cry, because I would name each and every lamb that was born to us, and knew them all well. My father set out poisoned chunks of meat for the fox and nailed shut every gap and tear in the fence, but it was no use. All we found was a couple of dead rats and, once, the sheepdog foaming and convulsing beside a lump of half-eaten meat. So it was. The red fox gives tongue to death for all the small things of this world. But the fox didn’t scare us during the day; it was only at night that his shrieks left us shivering in our beds. Under the glaring sun, we would go hunting with our stick-swords and stick-arrows to find him. We marched and shouted and sounded our stick-horns. No bush or earth was safe from us. The fox’s home, its den, we would find it. Once, we even wandered down to the sea shore, but all we found there was a huge speckled crab with one claw. We pulled the other claws off, one by one, and watched it die before going inside for tea. And so the hunt went on.

“Foxtails and Soup” Have you ever heard a red fox cry, deep in the night? It is something unearthly. In days past, they took it for the cry of that herald of death, the banshee, and locked their doors and prayed all night for deliverance. It is not unlike the scream of a severed hand, or a mother who has left a child alone in the bath too long. It is a shriek, if ever there was a shriek; guttural and alive. It will freeze your marrow and you become fixated by the vacuum of silence that follows; eardrums throbbing with anticipation. Unable to move or breathe. And, worst, the cry comes out of the dark. It is terror. When we heard the cry, we knew it was no banshee, but it brought death all the same. We knew we would find bloody feathers strewn across the field and there would be no eggs for breakfast. The cattle would spook and try to run somewhere, anywhere. One, a mottled cow, broke its leg on a twisting rock and bellowed its agony until morning. My father shot it at dawn. Another time, a young calf tried to escape through the barbed wire by the shore and managed to slit its own throat. The blood was dark and thick and the crows had already eaten out its eyes by the time we found it.

When the snows came and the early lambs died under frozen drifts, my father assured us that the fox had frozen too. We would cheer, imagining our foe stiff and cold under some overlooked bush. But a part of me always remained uneasy. Who could we fight, with our stick-swords and stick-arrows, if not the fox? Who could we blame for the stolen eggs, the broken fences, the missing calves? And so it was that winter was a time of suspicion, a time to watch the neighbours from a curtained window, to count their herd, to check the grain bins every day. A time to leave a lit lamp in the barn all night. But come the melt, the smiles and the handshakes returned. The fox was surely the culprit, once more, surely, surely. And the suspicions and squinted eyes were put away for a season. Glasses were clinked. But one grudge, an ancient one, would fester even in the heat of the summer, and rise up angrily again in winter. For generations, the farm next door had been both our closest neighbours and our greatest rivals. Our grandfathers had fought, and our great-great-grandfathers had bickered, and we were no different. Arguments would swell and soften over the years, swell and soften, and sometimes burst like a ripe old boil.

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The fox got our chickens, and the neighbour somehow gained more eggs. We took a lamb or three from his fields in the night, and suckled them from bottles in the furthest barn. And so it went on, back and forth, back and forth. Once, my father’s prize bull got loose and impregnated three of our neighbour’s cows. He said the gate had come lose, but my father was sure that it had been opened on purpose in the night. They fought for months, but my father managed to get the rights to any male calves born, so there was a form of peace, for a while longer. The only true peace came in the spring and summer, the gentler halves of the year, when the red fox could be blamed for each and every wrong. Winter was a time for war. And so it was. And one November, when our neighbour dared to blame the fox for yet another missing chicken, my father took up his wood-axe and lodged it in his throat.

My mother saw it happen from the kitchen window. She screamed, a little, and clapped her hands to her mouth and stood there, panting. We ran to the window to see what had startled her so. We saw my father, frozen still, and the neighbour, slumped against the fence, looking ridiculous with a wooden shaft sticking out at an impossible angle from his neck. It was dusk, and growing dark, but when my father looked up, we all saw the flashing anger in his eyes, which meant this was not our business. He gave us the same look when we were sent to fetch him from the pub, or when we tugged at his coat asking for penny-sweets while he talked to the priest after mass. My mother pulled the curtains closed. She went back to her range and stirred the stock so hard it spilled and hissed on the hot surface. She set us to chopping vegetables. I was in charge of the carrots; I liked to cut them a certain way and I would fuss and fret if one of my siblings was given the job. We worked in silence. When the soup was done and simmering, my mother did not call my father in for supper, as she usually did. Instead we sat around the table and ate without him. She had set him a place, though, and his favourite chair seemed so wrong without him that we kept stealing glances at it to make sure he truly wasn’t there. The soup was burnt, that night. I remember. My carrots were perfect, as usual, but the rest had cooked too long. No one complained. When my father came in, we were in bed, having gone without arguing this once. Our house was thin and creaky, and our rooms sat on top of the kitchen. The heat from the range wafted up and kept us warm at night, and the smell of eggs and fried bread would wake us every morning. That night, after he came in through the back kitchen door, all we could smell was whiskey, strong and earthy. We saw no more of our neighbour, and spoke even less of him. And so it was that the red fox was the death of more than just small things. All things died, and all for a cry in the night.

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Janet Barr Australia – Melbourne

harbouring a secret crush on him for a while now, heightened by the shock news last year when his wife left him for another woman. Not much you can do about that. At the rate we’re going, this may be the first and last year we race in the regatta. It’s not our intention to be the laughing stock on the river, unless it pulls in generous sponsorship. I’ll ask Caro to reconsider. She’s tall and athletic. If she wasn’t so busy working on her upcoming exhibition she’d be sitting in my seat and I could be the cox. Maggie wouldn’t mind. She hates the early starts. Not that I’m one to bounce out of bed before dawn but I love it once I’m on the river. Last week, as we turned the boat close to a lightly timbered spot upstream, we saw the most amazing golden spider’s web. We noticed it glistening in the early morning light as a gentle autumn breeze wafted the golden matrix of silk threads strung between the trees. Roger said it’s called the Golden Orb Weaving Spider and quite rare in these parts. He says it’s more common further north, up around Sydney where it’s warmer. Roger’s been in charge if our I.T. department for a decade, yet none of us knew of his passion for the great outdoors until we started rowing together. Now I like to row that far up the river every training session, just to check on the spider’s progress. According to Roger, it’s definitely a female because she’s huge compared to the little male spiders that hang about the margins of her web, hoping for a chance to mate with her. I say ‘a’ chance because the downside for the successful males is post-coital death. They only ever get one go at it. ‘Way to go!’ I say, but the blokes in the boat disagree. They say life just isn’t fair in the spider world for the males. This morning we stop short of the golden web. Flashes of lightening fracture an eerie green sky in the west. It appears that the day’s forecast for an electrical storm to hit the city around the morning peak hour is accurate. None of us want to be gripping metal oars out in the middle of the river when the storm arrives and it suits me to finish early. I’ve taken the day off to attend to some personal affairs, including an overdue visit to the dentist and an anomaly small but annoying - on my mobile phone account. We ship the oars as the boat glides gently to the landing below a row of old timber boatsheds - relics from an earlier age, before the forest of sleek skyscrapers rose to dominate the opposite bank. The din from peak hour traffic on a nearby bridge jolts us back to the urban reality of our lives as we wobble from boat to solid ground. I’ve been admiring the cut of his suit for a good ten minutes. The man at the counter pats his trouser pockets, first the right, then the left. From the inside breast pocket of his jacket, Mr Rollins extracts the object of his search, a mobile

“Love Strokes” From the riverbank, I must look like a rower on crack. I’m up and down the slide in half the time it takes the guys to pull their oars through the water. It’s not so much the difference in muscle strength as the long and short of us in leg-length. If we could get our oars in and out of the water at the same time, we might be able to get a good run on the boat. As it is, I pull up short every time, which seriously compromises our forward momentum. My three female colleagues, in our mixed eight, are all on the tall side so they’re not the problem. I really should be in the coxswain’s seat. Maggie’s more than happy to admit she’s rubbish at it; being the one to steer the boat that is. She’s very good at haranguing us to up the stroke rate. Maggie’s still waiting for the smooth and regal ride we promised when we coerced her into coxing our motley crew. It’s all for a good cause. We aim to raise thousands of dollars for people hit by the recent floods up north. Ferran - strong, fit and forty-something - sits in the stroke seat facing the cox, so he’s the one we’re supposed to keep in time with. As our firm’s legal adviser to charitable foundations, it was Ferran’s idea that we enter a boat in the annual rowing regatta for the business community to raise funds for worthy causes. As one of the senior accountants, I work closely with Ferran. He’s a good man: an increasing rarity in the cut-throat world of commerce. I’ve been

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phone identical to three before him on the counter. I know his name because I have heard the shop assistant address him several times as I wait, with increasing impatience, in the lengthy lunchtime queue. I silently chastise myself for not coming earlier. Post Offices and phone stores are always busy at this time of the day. We’d all be doing our business online or by phone if someone would only speak to you; I mean a real person. You can’t resolve problems with a recorded message, however calm and nicely modulated the voice. ‘Your call is important to us. Please hold the line.’ I think not. I can listen to that bland music for just so long before irritation builds to petty fury. Perhaps the man in front of me shares my sentiments. Mr Rollins now enjoys the undivided attention of Natalie at the counter, both seemingly oblivious to the restless throng in a queue that stretches to the door. Unhurried, Mr Rollins fiddles with an array of handsets before him on the counter. At last I step forward to query the mystery surcharge on my account. I explain to Lisa (as I wonder how much their name-embroidered blouses cost the company) that my attempts to contact their customer service by phone have all but defeated my usually sunny disposition. She is happy to help me if I can just wait a moment while she brings up my account on the computer. It, too, is working at reduced speed this day. We wait. Mr Rollins tells Natalie that he’ll take two new phones and hands her his credit card. He has a seductive resonance to his voice. ‘One mobile phone is enough to give me a headache,’ I say. He glances down at me with a fleeting smile as he weighs a phone in each hand. ‘The way I see it, the more you have of something, the quicker you get to master it,’ he says. ‘I’ll give that some thought,’ I reply. ‘I need the pleasure of possession to equal the cost of the thing.’ ‘Ah! That’s the key, you see,’ he continues. ‘Get to know how things work and you find out what pays and what’s a waste of your time.’ Lisa frowns at the computer screen. ‘I don’t know why that’s been put on your account, Ms Costa.’ ‘I don’t know whether I’m pleased to hear that or not. How can a mystery charge so easily be lobbed onto my account?’ I say. ‘Can you remove it now and credit me fifty dollars for inconvenience and irritation?’

‘Sorry about that,’ says Lisa cheerily. ‘No facility to give you any extra money, I’m afraid. Best I can offer is a mint,’ she says as she nudges a bowl of shiny white orbs across the counter. ‘Here. Take a handful.’ Mr Rollins echoes my sentiments with a snort. Clearly, he’s a man capable of multitasking as he signs for two new mobile phones while monitoring my conversation with Lisa. Natalie hands him a list of phone numbers. ‘Choose whichever ones you like,’ she says. I scan the paperwork before him while I wait for Lisa to finish tidying up my account. Michael Rollins proceeds to key the numbers into the phone he retrieved from his pocket earlier, while Natalie takes the sheet and types the numbers into her computer. ‘I’ll just get the sim cards for you,’ she says. ‘No rush,’ he replies. As I exit the store I’m mentally playing with Michael Rollins choice of numbers. I’ve always liked numbers. I draw them, move them around in my head, make patterns. Like letters on a page, numbers have a beauty to them, regular and useful, yet infinitely changeable in their arrangement. Perhaps that’s why I remember sequences of numbers. 0404 636 228. I can see why that number appealed to Mr Rollins. It has symmetry, unlike his second choice 0425 769 338 which looks less balanced to my mind although the last three digits have a visual elegance to them. Turn the first three to face the second three, close the gap and it matches the final eight. Lay each eight horizontally and you have the sign for eternity repeated, side-by-side. A car horn blasts me from my numeric musing. I have almost stepped in front of a black sports car that has come to a screeching halt at the corner. ‘Sorry,’ I mouth to the cool cat at the wheel. Not that I mean it. I thought cars were supposed to give way to pedestrians when turning left or right. I must check with my kids to see if that law has been scrapped since I took my driving test eons ago. I pour a second cup of tea from the pot. Despite the clutter, large windows along the north wall make Caro’s studio feel light and airy. ‘Caro,’ I say to my friend as she paints black letters on the pyramidal sculpture, which is almost completed. ‘Are you supposed to give way to pedestrians when turning left or right, or has that rule been abolished?’

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‘No idea,’ she says. ‘Ask the kids. I give way to everyone. That way I don’t have to think about it and I won’t run over anyone either.’ She’s sensible, my friend Caro. Correction: most of the time, she’s sensible. I’m not so sure about this latest escapade that she’s embarked upon. As I watch Caro add the finishing touches to the final piece destined for her upcoming exhibition, I feel compelled to suggest caution regarding her latest love interest. ‘You’ve got know idea who you’re hooking up with on the internet,’ I tell her. ‘You’ve got no idea who you’re hooking up with wherever you meet someone,’ she says. ‘Work, friends. Even someone you’ve known since you were a kid could turn out to be the devil incarnate once you’ve moved in together.’ Caro dips the fine tipped brush back into a small pot of black paint. She darkens the M on MOTHER’S TEATIME FANTASY. The letters are painted as though etched vertically on three sandstone markers that lean against each other in dunes that undulate around the lower half of her ceramic pyramid just over twenty centimetres in height.. ‘How well do you know anyone? I mean really know them,’ she says as she slowly turns the potter’s wheel to admire her work. ‘At least they’ve been through other people’s filters if friends or colleagues have met them,’ I suggest. Trained as a graphic artist, Caro works in the marketing department of our firm. ‘The Creatives’, we call them. ‘I’m going to suspend some clouds over this,’ she says, dismissing my concern about her latest date. ‘I’ll make them out of padded silk. What do you think?’ she asks. ‘Cream or blue clouds, or I could make them a soft pink?’ “There aren’t clouds in the desert,’ I remind her. ‘No clouds, no rain. That’s what makes it desert.’ ‘Stop being so rational,’ says Caro. ‘This is a dream piece.’ She spins the wheel with a flick of her finger. A seminaked woman, reclined across a camel’s hump, blurs with three robed men who grovel after her on their knees across the painted desert dunes. She holds aloft a bunch of plump grapes that dangle seductively above her breasts. The other arm stretches across the camel’s rump to wave a chequered tea towel within reach of her closest admirer’s upraised hands. With one leg bent above the curve of the camel’s

neck, her delicately pointed toes tickle the nose of the lofty beast that transports her away from domestic drudgery. The wheel stops. Caro raises disconsolate eyes above the blueskied peak of her pyramid. ‘Di, I’m lonely,’ says Caro as she wipes black paint from her hands with a crumpled rag, before flinging it into the studio sink. ‘I’m not about to move in with this bloke. I just want some fun.’ She puts emphasis on the final word. ‘Well, go for it’, I say. ‘And remember; there’s always room in our boat for you if it doesn’t work out.’ ‘I told you. I haven’t rowed since school,’ says Caro. ‘I’d be hopeless.’ ‘Everything’s relative,’ I tell her. ‘You haven’t seen me trying to keep up with the stroke rate Maggie and Ferran set.’ Caro laughs. ‘I will have to come and watch this race. It’s going to be pretty funny seeing you with the likes of Roger and Ferran in the same boat.’ ‘I don’t mind providing light entertainment for those on the river bank but a total embarrassment won’t advance the firm’s image, nor help the flood victims we aim to support,’ I tell her. ‘If my exhibition goes well I’ll donate the sale of this pyramid to your cause,’ says Caro. She’s good like that. Big hearted and generous as always. We’re pulling the boat from the water when I see Caro walking along the bike path. I’ve hardly seen her outside work for weeks; she’s so engrossed with her new man. We’re as race-ready as we’ll ever be. Our mature ages place us in the Mixed Master’s section and, being over the half century, my legs aren’t likely to grow any time soon. Maggie’s more nervous than ever as race day draws near. She realises she does have to steer the boat and the thought of doing it amid the wash from others in the race, and not running us into any of them, has filled her with uncharacteristic self-doubt and recurrent tension headaches. ‘Hey, Caro!’ shouts Roger as he lugs oars up from the water’s edge. ‘You bringing that mystery man of yours to the race?’ ‘Maybe,’ she replies. Roger’s always had a soft spot for Caro, to which she seems oblivious. If I could set them up together, I would, because Roger is a genuinely good man, just like Ferran.

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The more time I’ve spent with these guys the more I’ve come to like and respect them, beyond the roles we inhabit at work. Caro’s been quiet these past few weeks. Her exhibition was a huge success. Nearly every piece sold on opening night so I imagine that her low mood is the inevitable letdown following a time of intense concentration and hard work. She is amazing, as we keep telling her. Raising two kids on her own after Bill died, while continuing to paint and sculpt after work is no mean feat. Single parenting is no walk in the park, as I know too well. “Time for a coffee?’ she asks me as I hose riverbank mud from my cold feet. As winter encroaches on the lovely autumn mornings we enjoyed up to a week ago, we’ve been forced to don lights on headbands at the start of morning sessions in the predawn light. It’s not ideal, so we’ve managed to replace one morning with a training session on Thursday afternoons. It takes a bit of juggling at work but the race is only ten days away. ‘Sure. What about a glass of wine? It’s after six.’ I check the time on the phone I have tucked safely in the zip

pocket of my windcheater. I twirl the glass slowly by its stem, watching the wine catch light from naked bulbs suspended low over the bar. Caro’s fellow has been acting strangely and she can’t pin the problem down. ‘Have you talked to him about it?’ I ask her. ‘I’ve tried to,’ she says. ‘Try again,’ I say. ‘If he can’t or won’t talk, then maybe back off for a while,’ I suggest. I still think Caro’s with the wrong man. She and Roger are made for each other. He’s good at his job and such an interesting guy outside work. ‘I’ll set up a time just to talk,’ she says, as she keys his phone number into her mobile. No answer. She sends him a text. I notice the numbers, as is my habit. 0404 636 228. Something about the sequence jolts my memory. I see a tall man in a well-cut suit standing at a counter. The phone shop, that’s it. The mystery surcharge on my account. The man buying two new phones when he already had the same new model in his pocket.

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‘Caro’, I say. ‘Might there be another woman?’ ‘I asked Mike that, straight out, but he said certainly not. Said he’s not that sort of guy. Just been tied up with work interstate, he says.’ I hesitate to say it but the second sequence of numbers flashes like neon lights in my brain. Caution gets the better of me. ‘Here’s a number that might be part of the problem,’ I say as I write 0425 769 338 on a drink coaster. ‘How so?’ asks Caro. I tell Caro about the man with three phones. I see the veins in her neck pulsate, her face flush. I regret what I have just done. When will I learn to mind my own business? She stabs the numbers on her keypad, presses the loudspeaker and we wait. The bar is noisy. ‘Hey my little kitten, what’s up? I’ve been waiting by the pool for half an hour,’ says a distinctive male voice I think I’ve heard before, if only briefly. By the look on Caro’s face, it’s a voice she knows well. ‘Pool?’ we say in unison. ‘Kitten? Arsehole!’ spits Caro. ‘Caro?’ says the voice, sounding confused. Caro hits the ‘end call’ button. I help by picking up her phone and dropping it in the water jug on the bar. The barman raises his eyebrows. Without a word he removes the jug with submerged phone, places a fresh jug before us and continues to mix cocktails for an amorous couple smooching across a table nearby. ‘You don’t need to waste your time on him any more,’ I tell her. ‘It’s time you replaced that old phone anyway. I’ll buy you a new one in the morning. You can choose a new number, too, if you like.’ Caro is fuming. I raise my glass. ‘Here’s to a fresh start.’ ‘A fresh start,’ she says, before tossing the wine back in one gulp. We have a fine run on the boat, six days out from the race. I am a happy cox now that Caro has replaced me in the number two seat between Roger in the bow and Sean in front of her at number three. Maggie’s headaches

disappeared as soon as she relinquished her microphone and rudder lines to take charge of our post-race picnic. She loves food, so regardless of how well we row we are set to have a feasting after the event. Nestled in the stern of the boat, I face Ferran and call the stroke rate according to the perspiration and strain I see on his handsome face and muscular frame. We turn the boat around upstream where the Golden Orb Spider has slowed the pace of her weaving as the days have cooled. She has feasted on a multitude of insects caught in her web over the weeks we’ve been monitoring the magic matrix she has strung between the trees. Caro is scared of spiders and threatened to knock it off with her oar if we rowed too close to the web. From his perch behind her in the bow seat, Roger talked her out of it and promised to keep her a safe distance from the overhanging branches laced with sticky thread. He’s commissioned Caro to make a wall hanging for his office in the I.T department. She’s making it with threads of golden silk and ceramic spiders ready to be fired in her friend’s kiln; one very large fat female and a dozen little males which amuses Roger hugely. He says he’s going to name each one but none will be called Roger. The value of Caro’s artwork has shot up since Ferran paid an extraordinary sum for the pyramid sculpture, which I had hoped to buy, on the opening night of her exhibition. He says it was for a good cause as Caro promised to donate the proceeds of its sale to the charity he set up to help people who lost so much in the floods. Last night Ferran brought the pyramid around to my place. He says his purchase wasn’t entirely altruistic. He bought it with carnal intent, a gift for me! He has named the man closest to the temptress draped across the camel’s back, Ferran. He says the other two will remain nameless because they haven’t a hope. Caro agreed to keep the silk clouds for another work because Ferran wanted to add a finishing touch of his own. A gold coloured wire rises through the apex of the pyramid to clasp a bunch of plump purple grapes, real grapes that dangle in the air. Did dangle. We ate them all. Sweet.

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Trisha Bhattacharya Kolkata – India

crossed a path cut through a cluster of coconut trees. Coconut trees swayed in the strong breeze from the ocean. She stared up at them, silent in their green and ripe round formations; and swiped a palm across her dry lips. She pushed the other hand inside her trouser pocket and touched a large folded note. A smile came upon her as she looked at it. She felt peaceful and thrilled, both at the same time. Coshali always brought a smile on her face. The sand beneath her feet felt cool and grainy. She walked for a few minutes, taking care to stay on the sand, instead of stepping onto some of the nearby thorny shrubs. Soon, she was out of the coconut foliage and could see the beautiful expanse of the sea spread out before her. She checked her wrist watch again and then looked at the dark orange-blue horizon before her eyes. The sea looked like a princess, strong and very dark. Sara looked around, feeling thirsty. The coconut water seller was sitting inside his usual small wooden kiosk. Green ripe coconuts arranged in rows, one atop another, in different sizes, sat on a wooden plank extending from the kiosk. Sara licked her lips, and found herself drawn to the kiosk. She loved the sweet and refreshing taste of coconut water. She wanted two, she thought. But later changed her mind. She brought out the note from her pocket and gave it to the seller, who handed her some change. She looked at the change and pushed it into her trouser pocket. She quickly drank water from the coconut that was now in her hand, and threw the empty shell into a nearby garbage can. Her parched throat now felt cool. A soft balmy breeze from the ocean hit her face, neck and hair softly. Her hair touched her waist, and flowed in curls, naturally, and soaked in the sea breeze. Sara smiled. There was no one else on the beach. A few bungalows were lined next to the beach on a cliff, but she saw no one there either. Her decision to buy her cottage near the beach had been the right one. She could come here whenever she wanted, and be on her own, away from the city, away from everything, and at peace and drink coconut water when she pleased. In her absence, Sara had hired a caretaker to take care of the cottage. She turned her attention to the sea and stared at the rushing waves, which seemed to beckon her, moving in musical rhythm. She walked slowly toward the sea, staying near the shore though, until her feet were buried in the sand, and the waves continued crashing softly against them. She smiled and thought of her work, her life in the city. Everything was perfect, going at a smooth pace, work and life in general. She was twenty six, unmarried, and was quite happy with her life. She had suffered from a cold and cough a few months back, but miraculously she was absolutely healthy

“Coconut Water” The sun cast a sheen of light gold on the floral patterned table cloth of Sara's dining table. She was basking indoors, sipping tea, staring out a window at the evening sky. This quaint cottage, which was a two hours drive from the main city, was her holiday home. She was here for fifteen days this year, and the holiday had fortunately just begun. She was alone in the cottage this time though. Her family had chosen to go to Goa, and she had chosen to come to Coshali and be by herself. The large round clock on the wall sought her attention. It was 5'o clock in the evening. She ambled to the kitchen, drained the remaining tea into the sink and washed the cup, keeping it aside on a glass shelf. Sara changed her skirt and t-shirt to a pair of beige trousers and a white voile shirt. She was eager to walk down to the beach this evening, which was only about a short distance from her cottage. The beach was one of the secluded spots in Coshali, and was never crowded at this time of the day. Sometimes, she could walk there all on her own and not have anyone disturb her. Half an hour later, she rolled up her cotton trousers, left her yellow slippers behind in the house, and walked barefoot toward the ocean. Lights lining the path to the beach glimmered overhead, in a bright silver tinge. She

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now. She felt so blessed. What more did she need, she thought. Sara took a few steps further into the sea, enjoying the waves around her feet. She wanted to giggle, like a small child and she did. The waves now reached her knees as they had gathered some momentum. Sara couldn't swim. She quickly walked backwards, away from them, until the waves could touch only her ankles. Suddenly, a sharp pain shot through her right foot. Her hand reached her mouth, as if stifling a cry. Something glimmered below her foot, as she raised it on reflex, to see what had hurt her. A piece of glass sparkled below her foot. It had pierced her skin, which was now bleeding. She quickly hopped away from the water and fell on dry sand. She brought the foot closer for inspection, and saw that the wound was deep. She tried to get up but she couldn't. She looked around. She saw no one. The coconut trees swayed in the wind, and the sky turned dark and silent. The coconut seller couldn't see her, and she was too far away from him to have him hear her. Her cheeks grew damp. She was not giggling anymore. Her foot hurt. Fortunately the waves were retreating instead of coming toward her, so they could not reach where she now sat. She clasped her toes hard as if to stop the foot from paining. But it didn't. A few minutes passed. She tried to stand up again. But her leg was too weak to support her. She yelled at the coconut seller standing at a distance and waved her arms at him. “Help me!” she said. The man was looking the other way and did not see her. Sara turned her face to the sea with anxiety and a prayer in her heart. She tried to crawl along the sand to cover some distance to see if she could reach the coconut seller, but after trying for a while, she gave up. Her clothes had sand all over them, and she could feel the sand inside her clothes now. She felt very weak. No one came to the beach at this time of the day. It was a seldom visited beach. How would she get back home? she thought. She cupped her face in her palms and cried. The sky shone like indigo milk, and the sun was slowly sinking into the sea. Sara saw all this and cried louder this time. The coconut trees swayed behind her, as she swiped a hand across her forehead and brushed away the flowing tears. Her eyes were shut tight. Suddenly, someone touched her shoulders. It can't be. I must be dreaming. Sara thought. There was no one else on the beach but her. But a hand now shook her lightly. Sara opened her eyes, and stared at a man who was now looming over her.

“Are you hurt?” he said, brown soft eyes looking gently at her. His hair glistened in the beach lights, as he looked down with deep concern at her. Sara's pulse raced in surprise, as she smiled and nodded furiously, pointing to the wound and lifting her foot to show it to him. “Yes, I've hurt myself. Please help me.” Her foot hurt and she cringed to see blood still oozing out of the wound. Another bolt of pain shot through her. The man sat down beside her and checked her foot. “Oh, this is a deep gash. We must treat it right away.” “Yes, please get me home,” Sara said, looking at him through a film of tears. She had seen him in Coshali before. The brown hair and eyes seemed familiar. The man was dressed in white. “I'll take you to my house. It is right behind those trees,” he said, pointing to a deep yellow bungalow behind the trees. Sara had seen that house before. It belonged to the Luthras. They owned some of the main resorts in Coshali. And the man offering to help her was none other than Siddharth Luthra, she remembered now. Everyone in Coshali knew Siddharth Luthra. Sara had seen Siddharth a few times before, at one or two parties in Coshali, but had never really spoken to him, except for exchanging pleasantries. He placed an arm around her shoulders and helped her rise. Sara hopped with one leg, as the other foot was too weak to be placed on the ground. “Can you walk? Should I lift you? Siddharth said with some hesitation. “No!” Sara managed a smile. “I can manage. I just need support so that I can make it to your house.” “Ok, then, hold onto my arm and hop with the other foot,” he said. Sara could not respond with a smile this time. She winced in pain. The wind blew into their faces, as she tightly held onto his left arm for support. She could see the yellow house becoming clearer as her tears too started clearing up. “Glad I came down for my evening walk or else you would have been stranded,” he said, his eyes twinkling as they looked at her with familiarity. Sara felt grateful that her prayer for help had been answered so soon. She looked back at the ocean and said another prayer. “Thank you Siddharth,” Sara said. She was finding it extremely difficult to move with all the pain, but she pursed her lips, instead of asking to be lifted. She would feel so embarrassed if he did that, Sara thought.

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“So you do remember my name?” he said, startled. “You are Sara, right?” “And you remember mine?” Sara said, equally startled. “Yes, I do, don't I?” he grinned. Sara held onto his arm tightly, to keep from falling. Sara looked down this time instead of at him, and smiled. “Yes, I did too,” she said, suddenly feeling strange that he had noticed her and remembered her name. Siddharth stared at her for a while, but didn't say anything. The sky was getting darker by the minute and the ocean had receded far into the background. It all fell silent. Sara could feel her heart racing a bit. She all of a sudden remembered coconut water, and thought of having some more later on, when she was better. Sara noticed that Siddharth was walking as slowly as he could, so she could hop alongside without any trouble. She didn't know how to express her gratitude, but she would find a way, she thought. In a few more minutes they were inside his cottage. An older woman came running down the stairs as they entered. Sara breathed a sigh of relief as her eyes fell on a few chairs and other furniture inside the living room. “What happened Siddharth?” the lady said. “I found Sara on the beach mother. She has hurt her foot,” he said. His mother looked at Sara with concern and asked her son to help Sara sit. Siddharth helped Sara onto a comfortable cushy chair and placed a small table in front of her, where he gently placed her foot. “Can you please ask someone to get me the first-aid box,” he said looking at his mother. As soon as he said that, a maid came running down the stairs with a white box in

her hand. Siddharth almost grabbed it, opening it quickly. He quietly dressed Sara's wound himself. He gave her some water and a medicine for the pain, and asked her if she needed to see a doctor. Sara said that she would tomorrow, if the pain increased. “I will drop you home. I don't think you can walk back home in that condition,” he said. His mother had now left the living room. Sara looked at the house closely for the first time, as she felt better. It was a lovely house, wooden antique furniture ornamented the living room, and paintings of beautiful landscapes adorned its walls. A chandelier lit up the living room and its light fell on her face. Sara was no longer crying and the pain had receded too, quite quickly. She liked this house, a lot. “Thank you. Yes, please do,” she said. Siddharth helped her once again to his car and drove down to her house, which was a short distance from his own. Siddharth helped Sara open the door to the cottage and sat her down on one of cane chairs in the living room. Once they were seated, Siddharth looked around and grinned. “You have a beautiful house Sara.” “Thanks,” Sara said. The walls of the room were orange and red, and sculptures of goddesses adorned some of the shelves in the room. Sara looked at him carefully this time. He was handsome, and his hair was longer than usual. She closed her eyes to think of the last time she had seen him at a party. He had looked the same even then. “So, how long are you in Coshali?” he asked.

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“I will be here for a while,” she replied, smiling at him. Siddharth laughed. Sara raised an eyebrow, and suddenly felt funny. “It is strange we had to meet his way,” he said, looking at her. “But it is good we did.” “I never thought I'd meet him like this and that he'd be of so much help.” Sara thought but said nothing, she smiled instead. Siddharth brought out some medicines from his shirt pocket and gave it to Sara. “You may need this again” Sara thanked him again. “Okay, I need to go now. If you need anything, let me know. Here's my number.” Saying this, Siddharth left, writing his number on a piece of paper and leaving it behind on the table. Sara managed to change and get in to bed. The medicine had erased any remnant pain. Before dozing off to sleep, she wondered if she would see Siddharth again. She felt she wouldn't. The wound would heal quickly. There was no need for her to meet him again. She did not feel too good thinking that though. But she would send him a thank you note soon, she thought. The next morning, as Sara woke up, she felt thirsty, but instead of water, she thought of coconut water. She decided, she would get back to the beach to buy some more coconut water for herself later in the evening. This time she would wear slippers to the beach. She looked at her disheveled appearance in the mirror placed next to the bed and pulled a face. The doorbell rang. Someone was at the door. Sara crinkled her nose and hopped to the door wearing a white skirt and top, which she had changed into the night before. Her hair was flying about her face. She was expecting the milkman, but to her shock, Siddharth was at the door. Sara pinched herself, and a smile unknowingly lit up both their faces as they stared at each other. “I came to check if you were alright,” he said, smiling. He wore a pair of brown trousers and black shirt today. “You could have called,” Sara thought, but didn't say. His presence meant he really was concerned. She was glad he was here, and even though she had wanted to be alone on this holiday, she felt like his presence pleased her and her cottage.

“I feel much better now. Thanks.” Sara said, smiling. “Why don't you come inside?” Siddharth had brought some more medicines for her and fruits. “My mother asked me to carry these for you,” he said, placing the fruits on the dining table and the medicines alongside. He turned to look at her and smiled. “Thanks,” Sara said, managing to stifle a grin. Siddharth sat down on one of the chairs in the living room, while Sara sat on one next to him. They sat together for a while, and spoke about their respective lives in Coshali and in the city. Sara was surprised to know that he had been meaning to speak to her earlier, but never had the chance, because she never stayed long enough in Coshali. They sat like that for a while, speaking, before his mobile rang. “I'll be right there mother,” he said into the phone. As he began to leave, Sara couldn't stop herself and blurted. “Are you coming back tomorrow?” Siddharth raised an eyebrow and smiled. “I mean, what if I need something? You have been so helpful,” Sara said. Siddharth laughed. “Yes, of course. I think your foot will hurt less tomorrow, we can walk together to the beach if you feel like.” “And drink coconut water?” Sara said, without thinking. “Yes, we will drink coconut water. You are crazy about coconut water, aren't you Sara?” “I am,” Sara smiled. “I am too,” he said. They looked at each other once again before he left. Sara felt at peace, blessed and serene. Coshali and coconut water always brought a smile to her face, and now, Siddharth had too.

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Turl Times – April 1, 2012

Wafik Doss (Fiko): Egypt – Cairo

Let them be the Rebels and Hear them cry Wolf! Weep, moan, scorn Me not and not to me. I stood my ground when Needed. I wiped my Slate clean when indebted. Weep, moan, scorn Me not and not to Me. Though I am Different I am Still Equal. Hush now! Speak in whispers, In minute words lest it sting Smaller ears. Or puncture larger Mouths. Slippery tongues, loud words May end my silence and yours. Quietly, take the step. Bridge the leap. Let me find a way To your Heart. And I Will carve a way to Your Mind. *** “Myself the State”1 Have ever you tried to move a man? Have ever you tried to change the State? When a man moves, moves emotion, Moves thought, moves feel, moves love Moves hate, moves song, moves dance, Moves worlds we can and cannot understand. When a State changes, changes many men. I am a man, my State is changing. I fell in love, my State is raging. I stood tall, I stand united. My State, my land, is divided. I am a man, who fell in love, My State is changing?
1

“To Search, To Seek, To Find, but not to Yield” Let me find a way To your Heart. And I Will carve a way to Your Mind. You heard them slant Our names and break Our Beliefs. You saw them chain Our lips and murder our souls. You know us, but whom Of them have you ever known? They broke in betwixt us. Each holding a history with a handful of time . Each with a mask across his face, A dagger hidden behind his chest, and Blood stained hands with the names Of my brothers behind whitewashed smirks. Has our history been forgotten? Has the land not spoken enough of us? Has Heaven’s books not blessed us amongst Each other? You know us, but whom Of them have you ever known?

Throughout the poem, starting with the title, the word state will hold a duality of meaning, though in some instances it will only be that of THE STATE, i.e. Egypt. In that I leave it to your discretion to explore.

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Vive mi Corazon!2 Cor meum vivit! Mon Coeur vit! My heart lives! !‫ﺣﻰ ﻗﻠــــﺑﻰ‬ Shout my State, scream my land! My heart it aches, please take our hands. Alas, my state and I are lonely, We embrace, and find ourselves holding back. My love knows not my existence. My state knows not its own. I am a Man of many wounds But a single scar. Despite the warmth I shiver. Despite the heat my state rains. Despite my tears, my State quivers. Mi Corazón todavía vive! Cor meum vivit! Mon Coeur vit encore! My heart still lives! !‫4دام ﻗﻠــــﺑﻰ حي‬
3

‫أدام ﻗﻠــــﺑﻰ حي؟‬
Weep not my state, I shall weep for us. Let not the sun mock you, we both have not Lost our winter yet. Fear not my state, you have lost your sons, I have lost what was never mine. I am your son my state, take me in their stead. In many things I am half the man, But in love there is none more mortal, more man, Than I. Weep not my state, my love, You and I have not lost, above, There still lives enough to know us. I am your tears, your courage, your hope For you Mi Corazón es muerto5

‫6 ومات قلبى معك‬
*** “Nameless for Now” There are those born with wings Those more that earn theirs. There is beauty in some or many things, But hers breathes through the air. Her story starts in a single detail. To detail adds detail, through a word comes the story. Hers, starts with the clutch of a bar, The lift of her legs, the strength of her arms. The weight of the world as it falls behind, And the rush of the wind through closed lids, As her whole body soars towards the heavens! With a sharp inhale, a held breath A fluttering eye from top to right to left, A gasp, a flurry of thoughts, a standing ovation Awaiting the angel’s flight back to earth, Suddenly…bursts the crowd, the sky is torn In jubilance reborn! She lands as light As sound as a feather. She opens her eyes Unaware, undeterred, unlevered By the screams of admiration. The tears her mother shed, “there is mine… There is my daughter…there is mine” The roaring pride her father exhales “There is mine…my glory, my star, my one My only daughter…there is mine.”
5 6

There is no tear too strong to shed! There is no hope too far! Too long we’ve bled! My State is half in ruins, my soul not long behind But ruin is our sorrow, sorrow is our kind! We cannot shake the shivers, but we will not Bow to winds! Ask of me, my State delivers Our voice no longer breaks. !‫ﺣﻰ ﻗﻠــــﺑﻰ‬ Mi Corazón todavía vive! My love, you will not find me Too far is your sight, while close to mine My heart your own did plead. Cor meum vivit? My state, your own have separated, The columns that stand Stand for different sides. United, you and I were known. Divided, you and I have grown To despair.

2 3 4

Spanish for: “My Heart Lives” “My heart still lives” Arabic for: "My heart still lives?"

“My heart is dead” Arabic for: "And my heart dies with you."

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Turl Times – April 1, 2012

The fight is always greater than The fall. She of all Knew the strength of her persistence, The kiss of the wind to her cheeks In every leap, In every height In every clap added To make an applause. She knew it all, But it wasn’t enough. The feel of the air Meant nothing to stable Ground. The constant turns Felt powerless to a powerful Girl. She needed land, She needed floors Under her feet. Space has acted too many times her ground, Air has been too many times breathed upside down. The wind too many times has kissed Her whitening lips. It was time to land, And the fight…was always greater than the fall.

She thought it all, As she watched the young, Now a reflection of her past, And she their future. As they swirled and whooped, Fell and repeated their new world of ropes, Jumps, and hardest, landing. This was their time now She knew it all. With the flicker of her Eyelash, and a speck of light In her diamond eyes, she closed. And dreamed it all to rest. They say the beauty of the rose Reflects off the beauty of the moon And there you find a lady. Today a lady has fallen The moon weeps The rose bleeds, But their beauty always lives Beneath her diamond eyes. The lady sleeps, the lady Lies in wait...after all The fight is always harder than the fall.

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P. 19

Cilla Henriette Indonesia – currently living in Amsterdam

They went for a nice stroll in a shopping mall, movie and popcorn then dinner. The movie was The Iron Lady, not particularly romantic. The way Ricky smiled and looked at her patiently while waiting for her answers when he asked something about the movie, somehow moved something inside Helena. A strange feeling, but it excited her. The dinner was casual; they had seafood by the sea. It was the way Ricky made a joke, as if he knew how to make her laugh. Then his eyes again - they searched what she truly felt and they were attentive. Helena was not used to attention, let alone attention from such a handsome man. Ricky somehow liked to stand or sit or position his body close to her during their interaction. She could smell his manly scent and it was perfect. It was not too strong but confident enough to be noticed. By the end of the night, she felt the escalated desire for more, more of those jokes, those beautiful smiles revealing his white teeth, those intense looks and attention. Basically, more of him. When his car stopped in front of her apartment building, Ricky thanked Helena for the wonderful evening: “Thanks for everything, I had a great time.” Helena did not say a thing. Ricky waited and smiled. She turned her body towards him and leaned her head to his face. She kissed him in the lips.

“Momentums” I’m still learning and contemplating about momentum and its manifestation in life. What are all the factors? What triggers it to happen? Is there certain intensity that we can call as momentum? Or is it just a collection of moments? Or is it moment after moment that build up and create an extraordinary outcome? Why is it a momentum? Does it have to be powerful and impactful? Or is it just the motion?

Fey “So, will I see you tonight?” “I have a work thing, but I’ll try to get back home as soon as possible.” “Oh…sure.”

Helena’s Helena was the shy, rigid kind. She was rather uncomfortable with herself. She didn’t find herself pretty or attractive or sociable. She enjoyed talking to people but she waited until they came to her. Perhaps that was just the way she was or being Singaporean had an impact on her stiffness being. Making the first move was somehow erased from her dictionary, until last weekend… Ricky, her hunky colleague, asked her if she was free that weekend. The unusual Helena felt nervous being confronted with such a question, but she nodded. She blamed it on Ricky’s eyes, that was how she justified her answer.

The cold kiss on her forehead was almost ignorable. It was the usual ritualistic thing husband and wife do. It was nice in the beginning but after a while it became flat, the emotions evaporate before the kiss ends. Fey smiled and waved to Ray as his car departed. The smile was real. She took her mobile phone from her bag. There was an abandoned message she had to get back to. She stared at it and walked to her office. She wrote “YES” and pressed the send button. Her thumb moved quickly, before her mind changed. “Good morning Fey!” Tina, the secretary of her department greeted with a jovial smile. “Hey, morning!” Fey put the phone away for a second and smiled.

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Turl Times – April 1, 2012

“What’s with the sparkly eyes?” “Nothing!” Fey’s answer came out too quickly, too suspicious. “That sounds like something.” Fey stopped and looked at Tina. She did not say anything but her eyes were begging for forgiveness. Tina was a trained wolf, her ears extended and her nose sharpened when something was in the air. “I said yes.” “OK, to…what exactly?” “You know…you always pick up his calls for me.” Tina’s eyes flicked open bigger than usual, her right hand covered her mouth. “To Dan, your old flame?” Fey nodded. “It’s just a dinner.” “Why now? After all these months, those flowers and you ignoring his calls?” “I don’t know.”

“Don’t ever come back to this house. My daughter will never betray her family, you never exist!” Sara’s parents disowned her after she and Jinhai decided to get married. Sara and Jinhai walked away from her parents’ house 15 years ago, and it was the last time they saw them. Her memory of her family was portraits of her father yelling at them, her mother cried from hopelessness, the neighbours watched. Her heart broke to pieces, but the warmth of Jinhai’s arms convinced her that she fought for the right cause, love. The first year of their marriage year was great and loving, just how she had expected it to be. They welcomed their first child with abundant happiness but the next ones came too soon and put them out of balance. Sara had to leave her study. Jinhai stepped into managing his dad’s small business due to financial pressures, not because it was where his passion was. “We need to get into family planning, Sara.” Jinhai opened a conversation not long after their third child was born. “Kids are a blessing and you know my faith is the only thing I have left from my family.” The guilt in Jinhai’s heart showed a smile in his face but his business mind calculated a minimal life that will put them into difficulties. Their love grew apart. Life was more about dealing with pressures, bills and children’s tears. Deep down, Jinhai blamed Sara for not getting into the family planning earlier, for allowing 5 children to be part of their lives when his business was not doing well. Deep down, Sara blamed Jinhai for her difficult life, losing her family, and giving up her study. Sara wiped her tears. She went to her bedroom and packed her bag. She left.

Sara Sara was cleaning her tiny and messy house when she suddenly sat and broke down. She had not cried in years. A woman has to be strong, that’s what she learned from a young age. It was that and her own training to numb unnecessary emotions. Her life flashed back in the shape of puzzles in her mind: the five children, the small house, the nosy neighbours, the judging parents in law, and the distant husband… Her mixed marriage was a challenge from the beginning. She knew things were not going to be easy but she was determined to make it work. Sara came from a Malay Muslim family and Jinhai Chinese Christian. They met and fell in love during university. The happy hearts and the young minds saw a colourful future and happy ending. The Malaysian constitution saw things differently, norms and religions are black and white.

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Jackie Lee King: U.S.A. – Michigan City, IN

I feel annoyed at being subjugated to this scene, but I’m not going to alter my routine just to avoid some sort of pretense attached to my meal. The background music is new for this place, but I can’t dicern what obscure Cure song is playing—something about staring at the sea. I guess it’s required listening for being in one of these places. I’ve lived in this neighborhood all of my life and am offended by the tourist mentality that comes with new ownership. Is bigotry really such a sin? I don’t need cable television to determine if my eggs are cool—they’re eggs, but now they have to be special. Spinach and shallots invade them (which are now only comprised of the whites) because the new class prefers them that way. There is a minimum order, a set menu, and a time limit, because there is a line out the door. I have to order my meal À la carte because there are no substitutions. How hard is it to make a bacon and egg sandwich? The waitresses don’t take your order, they give you a slip of paper and you have to check off what you want. Side orders of bacon; check, cheese; check, bread; check, egg; check, juice; check, some assembly required; Fucking check! My bacon arrives first, though it was probably precooked at closing time last night. How long does it take to make fresh bacon? I can wait. Now the orange juice has arrived, though I suspect the ‘freshly squeezed’ aspect is the process it goes though coming out of the bag they put into the dispenser. A perfectly round white egg appears on my table and the waitress states that my bread is on back order, though it should be out before I finish the rest of my items. I fucking need the bread to assemble the sandwich. I scrutinize my breakfast and ponder its separatist existence. What really makes a muffin English? Why do they call it Canadian bacon – it’s a slice of ham? I pull out a cigarette, a Marlboro, because it’s what my grandpa smoked, and he lived well into his nineties. Save your lectures, because I won’t listen to you anyway while you’re Barcolounging in the living room screaming at the boob tube. And the way commercials are nowadays the screaming is mutual. I consider writing a manifesto, but the broadband is down. Serves them right for putting a router too close to the grease traps. The new owner stops by my table and tries to commiserate with me, cursing and praising his business all in the same breath. He asks me if I’ve seen his son at school. It’s not my job to baby-sit his spawn. Just because I was in one of his son’s intro classes, doesn’t mean that I’ll be a spy for him. It’s not my fault that his son didn’t like where he was living and decided to split. I’m studying humanities, the most generic degree that exists. I don’t have classes in the business school. That building

“Camus Café”

Newton's First Law of Motion states
that a body at rest will remain at rest unless an outside force acts on it, and a body in motion at a constant velocity will remain in motion in a straight line unless acted upon by an outside force.

if an unbalanced force acts on a body, that body will experience acceleration (or deceleration), that is, a change of speed.

The Second Law of Motion states that

“I can’t wait to start my career,” says one of the commuter college kids from the booth down from me. Your ‘career’ begins when you are born—there’s no need to wait for it, I think to myself. I blame all those reality shows for selling them a lifestyle that is unattainable in their circumstance. It’s like self-help books—someone else’s solution. You have to find your own way in this world and not wait around for a silver platter. The rules are all arbitrary, and no one really follows them. I have made my own reality, and it works for me. I wish these kids would just wake up and smell the coffee, which for this place, is now a premium blend. This was my diner, but now there are new owners, and everything’s different.

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Turl Times – April 1, 2012

is at least four parking lots away from where I attend class. The different degree programs are very much like tables in a high school cafeteria. Each school has a clique, and rarely do they take in outsiders. I don’t like to spend too much time at school because I don’t want to get too involved. It’s ironic that most of the liberal arts clique hangs here, and their leader is the one that can’t get me my meal all in one run. The waitress finally brings me my bread and then drops the check at the end of the table. She’s on her way to the corner booth where her clique has taken up residence. She sits and shares a half clove with a man who hasn’t taken a shower since midterms. It’s probably part of his thesis project—The Entiltement of Americans: a study of reality. They cajole her to pick up a seminar course so that she can graduate, but they themselves have been working on their associate degrees for over three years now. The student loans won’t fund their brunch extravaganzas for very much longer, and misery loves company. “Smile Bette,” one of them calls her, but her nametag says Babette. They take pictures to post on their on-line profiles to show the whole world that they are at hipster central. Though this place is named after a Suzanne Vega song, no one’s name here is simple: like Tom, Dick, or Harry.

I crush the last half of my cigarette onto the clean plate, having just finished my assembled sandwich. I wish they had hash browns here. I think about how breakfast has always had a special nod to the drug culture. Why would someone name a cereal Smacks or Pops? And I always want diner food when I’m smashed. Still, I consider my hypocrisy and fiddle though my pocket for a tip. I pull off a scratcher and hope that if it’s a winner that it’s not enough for Babette to go on a bender. I get up to pay my check and am almost knocked down by a guy in a ski mask. I gain my composure and half chuckle while he pulls a dart gun out of his jacket and points it at the wife of the owner, who now cowers behind the register. The reaction from the corner booth is more of fascination, rather than fear. I see several cell phones surface so that they can stealthily record this occurrence. “Money,” he states and then shuffles his feet about. “Just give me the register!” The owner’s wife considers his request, and then tries to lift the machine off of the counter in order to present it to the thief. Someone’s been watching stupid criminal videos on YouTube. This is no way to survive a robbery. “Money, money, I want the money, not the damn register,” he says while one of the college crowd suppresses a giggle. The thief turns in the direction of the corner booth where Babette lies and asks, “do you have a problem?” “Nope, no problem…just remembered a punch line from a joke. No offence.” “Shut up! I have a gun.” “Yes, and it’s lovely. under control.” “Good—busy here!” She gestures locking her mouth with an imaginary key and then folds her hands nicely on the table. All of their cell phones now reside on the table at strategic angles to capture this real life event so that they can post it on line. Maybe smelly midterm guy will be able to use the footage for his thesis project. I find it ridiculous that the thief doesn’t realize that he’s being recorded. He doesn’t have to worry about that from me. My phone is just a phone, its makes calls. I don’t need it to entertain me. My grandfather always said that all he needed was a gravel lot, an old coffee can, and a summer afternoon to be entertained. It boggles me that these college kids use smart phones to make themselves look dumber. I’ll try to keep myself

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Turning back to the register, the thief gives the owner’s wife some environmentally safe bag, and she puts rolls of coins into it; saving the bills for last. I’m still standing about two feet away from him, fighting off a snicker, when I start to hiccup. The thief is startled by my spasm and turns and fires a dart into my neck. I think to laugh and wonder just how much damage a dart gun can do, that is, until my legs give out. This stuff doesn’t happen in real life, I must be in some sort of student project. It feels like I’ve been stung so reach to pull out the stinger from my neck, which I can’t find. I taste a bit of copper in my mouth, probably from the stale bacon, and feel a little drool escape from my lips. From my angle on the floor, I can see the cell phones now focusing on my location. I guess they’re bored with the crime drama and want to record a klutz. “Forget the change and just give me the bills,” he demands turning back to the owner’s wife as she proceeds to put the guest checks into the bag as well. It seems like everyone is at the edge of their seat—waiting to see what happens next. I swear, if popcorn were À la carte here, it would be on back order as well. I try to get up, but I keep slipping on something on the floor. I look at the back booth and now see horror in their eyes. I can’t think of what would be upsetting them. I’ve fallen, and I can’t get up—ha ha. I may not look my best, but that’s no reason to look at me funny. I guess Facebook will have a number of posts about this in the next few minutes. I reach for my inhaler, because I’m having trouble breathing, but I can’t move my arm. It feels like it’s fallen asleep. I must have hit it on something when I fell down. This diner’s new filtration system must be messing with my asthma. The owner must have the filters on in reverse. Now that’s a bonehead move. The bag is now full and the thief turns, heads for the door, and slips on the same slippery substance that is preventing me from getting up. I laugh to myself and consider his misfortune. The poor bastard hasn’t been taken seriously since he entered this place and now will probably get caught before he gets to the parking lot. The lights in this place must be on a timer, because it’s a little dimmer now; probably something to add to the atmosphere of this place. Great, now the commuter college kids will complain that there wasn’t enough light in the room to capture the essence of this reality moment. It’s like photos of big foot, or videos of alien ships; you never get a clear shot of what you are supposed to see. Maybe someone can clear

it up in PhotoShop or After Effects and punch up the clarity of the occurrence. The thief now lies on top of me, making it harder to breath. Is anyone going to get up and help me off of the floor? Finally, the owner who has been at my table this whole time, jumps up and kicks the dart gun out of the thief’s hand. He unmasks the thief, but I can’t seem to focus on his face. I hear some gasps all around, and feel that my voice is in there as well, though I really can’t see anything at this point. There is a ringing in my ears, but I can still discern some hushed words being exchanged between the owner and the thief. It almost seems like a family argument, but that would be preposterous. Why would a son rob his own father’s restaurant? Talk about ungrateful. I mean, yeah, I heard the owner kicked him out a few months ago, but the kid is in college—don’t they have dorms for that kind of situation? And I would think that his dad would at least give him some cash from the register since this place is so successful. Great, now there are camera crews coming in to add another angle to this reality. I bet it’s some morning show, looking for filler, doing a story about the new hotspot in this neighborhood. I wonder if my cigarette is still smoldering on my plate back at my table. Maybe if this place burned down they would rebuild my old diner. I know what I want out of life, and I’m not afraid to take things seriously. I just wish they would go away. I wish they would all go away and just let me rest here on the floor. I really don’t feel like moving, and I’m sleepy. “Everyone will be famous for 15 minutes.”- Andy Warhol

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Turl Times – April 1, 2012

Sean McIntyre: Australia – Melbourne

to a halt some 20 metres past us. The climb up into the cabin was a challenge. I sat in the front while Norman parked in the comfy area behind the two front seats next to my backpack. Jolly, full of queries and happy for the company, the truck driver’s name was Paddy. Now given the country we were in how much of a coincidence is that? Norman had a way with people. He drew them in. Even without making a sound he could command attention with just his presence. But idle chatter was not his strong point and this was always left to me. I guess that is the way great partnerships work. Each plays to his or her strengths. Paddy was a great host and very proud of his rig. Like a lot of Irishmen I had met during this leg of my worldtrip, he had not ventured to many places abroad. Asking many questions, he listened keenly as I tried to sum up my travels so far. He dropped us off in Dublin. The Dublin segment was by far the easiest of the day for I was now so familiar with the place I felt like a local and acted accordingly. We boarded a bus on the southern side of town that took us into the heart of the city. Our next bus departed from the banks of the Liffey and its route just happened to pass the front door of Pat and May Molloy. Distantly related to my mother, it would have been nice to see them. Yet they had been so good to me already, I couldn’t just appear on the doorstep unannounced for a quick cup of tea and be off again. I didn’t think that would have been fair. Besides, I planned to stay a night with them before flying to London in a couple of day’s time anyway. Plenty of time for tea then. These are some of the thoughts that occupy the mind of a backpacker. Decisions, big and small, have to be made. They have to be weighed and assessed from all angles. It’s probably the most selfish life-style I can think of – for all the right reasons mind you - but it has to be done. I mention this as a prime example of the phrase ‘think on your feet’ because you do. You have to. Norman remained indifferent as the bus and I sheepishly stole past the Molloy’s Whitechapel residence. Our ride ended well past Dublin airport pointing me north to the fabled city of Belfast. Stepping off the bus into the light drizzle was like the end of the first act on the opening night of a play. While enjoying it immensely as it unfolded before us, we had little inkling of what was to come in the second act. How would the story pan out?

“Norman and The Pickup” Norman lay silent and still near the wet grass. Traffic from the busy Dublin to Galway motorway peeled past; strips of water screaming from sodden tyres. In the time since my cousin Angela had dropped me off, no one had taken much notice of my outstretched hand. Hitchhiking was the last challenge. The last unknown. I wanted to use this form of transport to get us to Belfast for one last adventure. Norman was happy to leave those sorts of decisions to me and always went along with them. Since meeting on the eve of my impending 30th birthday in Victoria, British Columbia we were the best of travel mates. We’d had a spectacular and exciting 11 months together travelling the world. Now we were five days from returning home to Melbourne. I couldn’t wait to introduce him to family, friends and the broad Australian landscape. My wandering thoughts were soon brought into focus by an approaching semi-trailer exiting a nearby roundabout that had yet to build up an acceptable head of steam. I caught the driver’s eye and sure enough he came

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Although the stars of the show, Norman and I had no clue as to what lay ahead in the script. So the best idea was to make the most of the intermission and assess the story so far. Naturally this could not be done without a refreshment so I wandered into the nearby service station for a chocolate bar. Norman never ate chocolate. I was enjoying hitchhiking and so far it had worked out well. It was definitely a cheap alternative and much faster than the inter-city bus services which sometimes tried your patience. The worst bus trip had been from Limerick to The Cliffs of Mohr on the west coast. It was also a mental challenge. So much depended upon the chance that someone was going your way and would stop to pick you up. Not only this, but as a strategy it also depended upon the nerve one had to have to actually do it. We often talk of a man’s home being his castle so what does that make his car? Let’s face it, what rational person would want to invite a total stranger into what is practically an extension of their home? Being a rational person I’d never picked up someone standing on the edge of the road. I was still a rational person. Now I was expecting to be granted that very same favour. Norman really didn’t care either way and had no opinion on the subject. A lot of backpackers use hitching as a form of travel everywhere but I never seriously considered it until I arrived in Ireland. For instance I refused point blank to hitch in Israel even though I had been travelling well over five months when I got there. Although a common method of getting around the Emerald Isle, many Irish people commented that hitching was no longer a safe mode of transport. It was as though they had witnessed the passing of an era, which saddened these commentators greatly. Innocence had been traded for weariness and cynicism. It’s a worldwide epidemic. I heard similar comments on safety from many locals in other countries that I visited. As I now saw it, the great thing about backpacking was that it bestows upon you a certain naiveté and innocence. It all boiled down to perspective and mine was an optimistic one. Although a certain amount of calculated risk is something any self-respecting backpacker has to have on hand. After nearly a year on the road, faith in my fellow man was undaunted. What will be will be. My experiences to this point had been overwhelmingly positive and I was

happy to leave myself open to the magical cycle of life that is fate. With this in mind I stepped back onto the edge of the road and held up a finger that indicated to all and sundry I needed a ride. My strategy was to always present myself at a point where cars would pass at a speed slow enough that the driver could make a snap decision and stop safely if they wanted to. With the drizzle becoming steady, unrelenting rain, the weather had turned. My other stock tool of trade was a green gore-tex rain jacket. I had to keep readjusting the hood so as to see properly. I wondered whether I looked like some wayward Los Angeles street rapper. After the first fifteen to twenty minutes hitching can be a fairly boring pursuit. Cars file past. Adrenaline levels drop. The mind strays. It’s not long before you begin to take it personally and start searching for answers. “Well ok what wrong with me” you say to thin air. “You’ve obviously got way to much room in your car” you say to any car with only one occupant. “Don’t you like Australians?” “Never seen a backpacker before?” I also employed the use of a sign. Writing the name of my destination on it, I held it in front of my chest to help the driver in their decision making process. Or so I thought. “Put your glasses on!” I told each driver blinded to my plight. I re-examined the sign, checking it for any possible spelling errors that might lead to embarrassment and cast dark shadows upon the quality of Australian education. “Belfats”. “Belfist”. “Belfarts”. Nope – the spelling was fine. I turned to Norman but he couldn’t explain the growing delay either. We still had plenty of daylight but

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here was one aspect of hitching being played out before my very eyes. The downside was the lack of control over travel time and it was total. I was at the mercy of fate just like I had wanted. A decision was looming. I was recognizing some tiredness creeping upon me and began weighing up options. There was no point flogging a dead horse. Anyway just what was the point of going to Belfast? I didn’t know anyone there. I had to return to Dublin to grab my connecting flight to London anyway. Did I really have to do this? The rain was diluting my resolve. I wavered. Then I steeled myself. No. I had set myself a goal. To hell with it! No matter what, there were to be no setbacks allowed or backwards steps taken. Up to now, I’d never done either and now was no time to start. I don’t know how long I had been there but I was just about drenched. Eventually a car stopped. It was a hatch-back with a sole occupant. Again Norman deferred to me so I took the front seat. The driver’s face was youthful, thin and gaunt but not sickly. Somewhere in his early fifties, he was greying with a moustache and glasses. His thick Northern accent polite, but not overly friendly. As we began our ride together the conversation touched upon all the usual subjects: Where I was going. Where he was going. The weather. How far he could take me. How long I had been waiting. But in those first few minutes I felt uneasy. It’s funny how your gut instinct acts in these situations. Your senses pick up so many signals. I felt awkward. As if I was imposing. While my new host spoke, my mind switched from listening mode to review the situation at hand. There was something about the man that just didn’t allow me to feel relaxed. Was it me? Water was dripping from my jacket onto the seat and floor. Perhaps I was damaging the seat covering. Maybe he hadn’t realised how wet I was before he stopped and was now thinking he had made a mistake? Was I talking too much? Not talking enough? Was I boring him?

I also considered the possibility that the driver had somehow gleaned the fact that I was Catholic. Of course. It made perfect sense! What with him having a Northern Irish accent and all. We could be mortal enemies! I caught myself just in time. Imagination is a wonderful thing but right now it was being silly, irrational and no help at all. I tried to dismiss all of the above and started listening again. Lucky for me because the conversation took a turn into territory I had not ever considered, let alone visited. He asked me what I did back home for work, listening quietly while gripping the steering wheel with both hands. There was a pause before he spoke. “I was a bank manager too, you know”, he said. “Not any more though” “Oh” I said. Banking - well at least we had something in common. “Retired, did you?” I ventured. “No,” he said. He paused again. “I’m a recovering alcoholic” he said matter-of-factly. “Oh”. I said this again despite the fact I was repeating myself. Concerns about my company boring him were fast disappearing as a priority. He was still holding the whip end of the conversation. “And I’m gay” he said. This time I did not add “Oh”. Norman didn’t utter a sound. I have to be honest here. I didn’t really know what

to say.

What can you say to that? Barring his name, a complete stranger had just told me some very personal things about himself. To be frank two of the three were not really things I wished know about him. I think I am a fairly accepting person. I try not to judge other people. Here I was sharing a car ride with an ex-bank

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manager who had been an alcoholic…and just happened to be gay. By definition, a demographic nightmare for any marketing professional. And against all the odds fate had chosen this person to be my patron saint of transport. I’m not homophobic. It was just a lot of information to digest. Why tell me these things? I still felt uneasy but now I knew why. However I tried not to reveal it. I was in no danger so there was no point showing my discomfort. I wasn’t in control of the car but I wanted to maintain control of my unease. I was a world-weary backpacker. Nothing would faze me. So I acted as though I met gay, alcoholic ex-bank manager’s every day of the week. “So you’re, um, not gay yourself then?”, the man

And once more I steered the topic back to where I wanted it. Away from me. He persevered. “Why not?” “’Cos I’m not gay” “How do you know, until you’ve tried it?” he asked, losing eye contact. It was a dumb argument from my point of view and quite an easy one to break down. Sexuality, according to most homosexuals I have heard speak on the subject, cannot be chosen. “Sorry mate. I’m straight. That’s all there is to it. You do not have a chance in hell.” Norman was unfazed. Sexuality was never an area we had broached as a topic. He seemed to take this well which pleased me as I was beginning to tire of the verbal jousting. I turned to look out my window and my gaze fell upon the ground speeding by. Just how do I escape a moving vehicle with a backpack. And Norman? I weighed it all up. Escape was not really an option. I had to accept the situation I was in. I had put myself in it. The only solution was to deal with it. The best way to deal with it was to remain calm and not panic. I considered the positives of the situation. Firstly the driver, although inquisitive, was quite harmless. I didn’t feel physically threatened in any way. But the line of questioning was growing more and more suggestive. I didn’t like where it was going. “You know I have picked up hikers before. Some have been happy to come back to my place. It’s not far.” “Mate just drop me off where we agreed and that’ll be fine”, I said firmly. “Are you sure?” I noticed his gaze dropping from eye level before flitting back to the road ahead. “Yep, that’ll be fine”

asked

“No. Never was. Never will be,” I replied firmly. “Nup. Sorry” I steered the topic of conversation back towards something I was more comfortable with. I was on the defensive. I wasn’t too happy discussing my sexuality with a complete stranger. “Yep, mate, I’ve done most of the touristy things in Dublin,” I said. “Didn’t quite make it to Guinness Headquarters but I’ve sampled the local product and enjoyed it.” It then occurred to me that discussing an alcoholic product with a recovering alcoholic was not one of my better ideas. The conversation became a fencing contest. Every so often he posed questions designed to probe and glean information which might be used to reveal my latent homosexuality. I parried them harmlessly into thin air. But the questions became suggestive which was a worry. “So have you ever tried it” he asked. “What?” “You know. Sex.” “Yeah” “With a man?” “Nup”

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There was an awkward silence, one he used to sum up his lack of progress. He changed tack. “Tell me”, he inquired looking down at my crotch, “is that your penis?” This really caught me off guard. To this day this fellow remains the only male who has ever asked for confirmation of the location of my penis. “Um………yes”. I couldn’t really lie. I mean I’m not a Ken doll. “It’s very impressive” Again, another first. I suddenly became very self-conscious. But I worried that the moment I showed any fear I would lose any sense of footing I might have. Again he glanced across and down. Suddenly I felt like a piece of meat at a nightclub. …to be continued…

David Sgarlata: U.S.A. – Chicago, IL

“How I Became (Almost) Roman” At Piazza San Silvestro, I boarded the bus for the Via Salaria, remembering to validate my ticket—and watch my pockets—as Maria-Giovanna had instructed. It was past noon. Most people were on their way home or to restaurants for the three-hour Roman lunch. The bus was not full; I found a window seat just as it pulled out from the terminal. My feet hurt, and it felt good to sit down. I closed my eyes and tried to ignore the Eternal City’s eternal traffic. The honeymoon was over. Two weeks earlier, I had been in love with Rome. The summer light, the rustling pines, splashing fountains, storied churches, palaces, and ruins, fragrant jasmine, delicious food, and friendly people had enchanted me. Eventually, though, the strikes, isolation, language barrier, homesickness, noise, and writer’s block made me wonder why I had ever left home. Then, I received a letter from my aunt and uncle, with my cousin MariaGiovanna’s telephone number and address in Rome. She would be waiting to hear from me. I had first met Maria-Giovanna when I was seven and she was in college. She was at least ten years older than me, although I could never guess her age. MariaGiovanna had been born in the United States but was an Italian citizen and lived in Italy. She had studied accounting in Illinois and then worked as an interpreter and a translator

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for Italian businesses that also needed advice on American taxation. When I called her, she invited me to lunch at her studio in Rome that Friday. The bus left the city walls at the Porta Pinciana, skirted the Villa Borghese, and ascended the Via Salaria, the ancient road having given way to a modern boulevard. I noted the street names: Viale Somalia, Viale Libia, Viale Etiopia. They recalled Italy’s attempt to build an empire in Africa between the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The next roadmap tribute to bygone colonialism, Viale Eritrea, was my destination. I pushed a button to alert the driver. When we slowed, never completely stopping, and the doors opened, I stepped off the bus as well as I could. The buildings along the street had been built in the early twentieth-century Fascist style, with brown bricks, white marble window and door frames, and plain columns. The overall effect was heavy and oppressive, not even softened by the plane trees lining the street. Maria-Giovanna rented a studio in one of those piles of masonry. I found her landlady’s name beside the door, rang, entered, and took the cage elevator to the top floor. The thick walls, stone floors, and dim lights kept the building’s interior cool, even in August. Maria-Giovanna was small and slender, but confident and energetic in her movements. She had her dark-blond hair pulled back, a pair of sunglasses pushed up onto it, and wore a white blouse and narrow black skirt. Her olive complexion had become tan under the Roman sun. “Salve, David!” she exclaimed, taking hold of my shoulders and kissing me on both cheeks. “Buon giorno, Maria-Giovanna,” I began, feeling less well dressed in my white Oxford and blue jeans. “After midday, say, ‘Buona sera.’ ‘Salve’ is a good Roman greeting,” she corrected me, her voice a rich mezzo. “I just got home from a client meeting,” Maria-Giovanna explained, ushering me through a doorway. We crossed a foyer onto which her studio and her landlady’s apartment opened and entered the latter. “When I told my landlady you were coming, she insisted we join her family for lunch. She thinks I’m too busy to cook!” “Well,” I responded, “that’s very kind of her.” Lunch with a relative was one thing; lunch with Italian strangers was something else. “Salve. Piacere,” a smiling woman wearing a brown dress greeted me inside the door. “I’m Lucia,” she introduced herself in Italian. Maria-Giovanna’s landlady was

in her fifties, of average height and ample figure, with short blond hair. Her voice was warm, her bearing matronly. “Salve. I’m David,” I responded in my best Italian, following Maria-Giovanna’s example. Signora Lucia conducted us down a hallway to the dining room. The tall windows on two sides of the room were open, and some sunlight and a cool breeze filtered through the Persian shutters. She directed us to sit at a round table, where her husband, Carlo, and adolescent son, Alessio, joined us, shaking my hand in greeting before sitting. Signor Carlo, a middle-aged man of average height and build, had graying hair and a mustache. He wore a blue suit but had removed his tie and unbuttoned his collar for lunch. Alessio, dressed in an orange shirt and blue jeans, was tall and thin with wavy dark-blond hair. He absently deposited a shoulder bag full of books in the corner before taking his seat. Sensing my inexperience of Italian family dining, Maria-Giovanna sat next to me and served me from every dish as it was passed, explaining in slow and clear Italian what we were eating. “Italians often drink water and wine with lunch, even if they’re going back to work in the afternoon. That’s why lunch takes three hours.” She poured me some sparkling water and home-bottled rosato that Signora Lucia had placed on the table. “If you want more, serve yourself. Just ask, ‘Posso? May I?’ to be polite.” MariaGiovanna then served me insalata caprese out of an earthenware bowl. “Mozzarella di bufala comes only from Campania; it’s much better than the fior di latte kind made from cow’s milk and the only one you should eat in a caprese.” She accepted a loaf of bread from Alessio, tore a chunk off, and placed it on my plate. “This is how people share bread at the family table. I don’t eat it at lunch because there’s also pasta.” Even as Maria-Giovanna spoke, Signora Lucia filled our bowls with noodles in tomato sauce. “Today we’re having bucatini all’amatriciana,” our hostess explained, “with guanciale, like bacon but from the cheek,” pointing to her face above the jaw, “and peperoncino.” Signora Lucia waited for me to take a bite before asking, “Do you like it? Maybe I should have warned you about the spice.” “It’s a little spicier than I expected,” I replied, taking a drink of water, “but delicious.” “Between bites, eat the bread I passed you; it’s better than water for lowering the heat,” Alessio recommended in a gentle voice, a slight smile in his eyes.

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“From Rome southward,” Signor Carlo interjected, pouring himself some wine, which he topped with water, “the food gets spicier the farther you go, and then on the islands it gets less spicy again.” I was starting to feel full, but Maria-Giovanna insisted that I taste the roasted chicken. “It comes from the Campagna, outside Rome, and has more flavor than American chicken.” I also ate a salad of greens, mostly bitter, dressed with olive oil and lemon. “Rucola is good for the digestion,” Maria-Giovanna told me; “you should always eat some at the end of a meal.” Signora Lucia and her family, recognizing the limits of my Italian, kept our polite conversation brief and simple, mostly about the food and the city. They found it amusing that an American would visit Italy to research a German author who had once traveled there: a case of cultural globalization. By the end of the meal, I could accept only a few honey-colored grapes and coffee. “Espresso comes from machines, like those in bars,” Maria-Giovanna clarified. “The signora makes caffè in a moka.” After finishing our coffee, my cousin excused us, and I thanked Signora Lucia for her hospitality and said goodbye to Signor Carlo and Alessio. Maria-Giovanna and I walked down the hallway to the foyer and her studio. The studio was one large room with a high ceiling and tall windows, also open but shuttered against the sun. Two half-open doors on one side partly concealed a bathroom and an angolo cottura, or kitchenette. The corners of the room were furnished according to their functions: bathing and dressing, cooking and dining, living and sleeping, reading and writing. Rugs in the different areas further divided the space. Maria-Giovanna directed me toward an armchair in the study area. She took another chair from behind a desk and sat across a low table from me. “So, how do you like Rome?” she asked, watching me. “The city’s beautiful,” I responded,” but I’m not used to walking on cobblestones, and with the transit strikes, I’m doing more walking than I’d expected.” “You can find the weekly strike schedule in the ‘Italy Daily’ section of the International Herald Tribune, so you won’t be caught unprepared,” Maria-Giovanna told me. “And those shoes might be fine for winter in Chicago, but not for summer in Rome.” She looked down at my chunky Doc Martens. “Have you noticed how people look at your shoes? That’s one way the Romans can tell who’s a foreigner; foreigners always wear the wrong shoes.”

“I hate to disappoint the Romans,” I laughed, “but I can’t afford another pair.” “That’s because you don’t know where to buy them,” Maria-Giovanna countered. “Senti, David. Listen,” she said. “Do you know the Italian word ‘arrangiarsi’?” “No,” I answered, “I don’t think so.” “It means ‘to get by,’ or ‘to make do,’” she explained. “It’s how people manage to live in a place like Rome.” Maria-Giovanna seemed to notice my incomprehension and arrive at a decision. “If you can’t afford to buy shoes in a shop,” she continued, “I can show you where to find a pair at the flea market. We can get more comfortable clothes for you, too. Meet me Sunday in Piazza Sant’Eustachio, between the Pantheon and Piazza Navona. I’ll be at Il Caffè—opposite the church with the stag’s head above the door—at nine.” Maria-Giovanna looked at her wristwatch and stood up. “I need a rest before going back to work.” I stood up and followed her to the door. “Ciao, David!” She kissed me on both cheeks. “Ci vediamo domenica. We’ll see each other Sunday.” “Ciao, Maria-Giovanna. Sì, ci vediamo,” I said, adopting her expression.

*** Over the following days, I was self-conscious about people looking at my shoes. I considered what MariaGiovanna had said. Maybe arrangiarsi meant accepting Rome as it was. I couldn’t change the cobblestones or heat, but I could change my shoes and clothes. I couldn’t stop the traffic or strikes, but I could plan and get around them. I couldn’t teach even well-meaning Romans enough English to talk and listen to me, but I could improve my Italian enough to converse with them. To really meet Rome and the Romans

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on their own terms, I would have to take lessons from MariaGiovanna. The following Sunday, I located Il Caffè Sant’Eustachio. It was crowded with worshippers from the nearby church, but Maria-Giovanna found me among them. I had exchanged my Oxford for a black T-shirt with my jeans—I was going to a flea market after all—and stood out from the local churchgoers, dressed in their Sunday best. “Salve, David!” Maria-Giovanna called out. “Salve, Maria-Giovanna,” I responded, with kisses on both cheeks. “That’s a good Roman greeting,” she approved. Maria-Giovanna wore a pale-blue dress, and a turquoise and silver choker. Once again, I couldn’t help feeling underdressed in her company. She took my arm and led me through the crowd toward the cashier. “Due cappuccini e due cornetti,” she ordered. “This is the best cappuccino in Rome; the owners roast the coffee themselves.” MariaGiovanna took the receipt and we crossed to the bar, where she repeated our order. “Remember, Italians drink coffee with milk in the morning, not in the afternoon or evening.” We sipped our coffee and ate our sweet rolls standing at the bar, which, Maria-Giovanna explained, cost half as much as sitting at a table. After we finished, we walked from the caffè along narrow streets to Piazza Venezia, where we boarded the bus for Porta Portese, arguably Rome’s best flea market. The bus took us over the Tiber and into Trastevere before veering toward a seventeenth-century gate in the city walls, where the market took place. We exited the bus, and Maria-Giovanna began navigating our way through the crowds assembled around the 4,000 booths of the market. She nodded in the direction of small children weaving through the crowd carrying cardboard signs. “Zingari,” Maria-Giovanna explained, “Gypsies. One holds up the sign to a passerby, and another picks his pocket. She directed my attention to a woman holding a baby outside the market area. “La mamma waits off to the side to collect whatever the children take. Then they move to another part of the market before anyone knows he was robbed.” MariaGiovanna raised a finger to her cheek and pulled at her eyelid. “Occhio,” she warned. “Keep your eyes open.” Maria-Giovanna found a table piled with boxes of canvas lace-up shoes. “What’s your size?” she asked. “About 9 ½ at home,” I answered, “but I don’t know my Italian size.”

“43,” she guessed correctly, taking a box. “Posso?” she asked. The vendor nodded his assent. “Try this on,” she instructed, handing me a shoe. I removed one of my Doc Martens and slipped on the canvas shoe. It was light and flexible, but with a thick rubber sole to provide cushioning on cobblestones. “This feels great! I’ll take them,” I announced, but Maria-Giovanna held up her hand. “You have to get a better price first, by either bargaining or looking somewhere else,” she told me. MariaGiovanna argued a moment with the vendor, gestured for me to give her the shoes, put them on the table, and turned to leave. The vendor called out a number to her. Smiling, she stopped and turned around. Before Maria-Giovanna could change her mind, I bought the shoes and put them on, carrying my old ones in the box. “That’s better!” I exclaimed. To get by in Rome, I had to walk in a Roman’s shoes. And, for a little more money, I managed to buy a second pair, of the same style but in tan leather. I likewise acquired some jeans, softer and lighter than the American kind, which I measured by holding them against the pants I was wearing. “Italian men like color,” Maria-Giovanna advised me. “Jeans can be red, orange, purple, green, khaki. Not just blue.” I settled on khaki and olive. “I’m only half Italian,” I explained. “This is as colorful as I get.” Maria-Giovanna laughed. “Remember,” she began, “men don’t wear shorts as much in Italy as in America, except when going to the beach or playing calcetto, the ‘little soccer.’” She regarded my T-shirt with a critical eye. “You’ll also need a jacket—maybe two, depending on the price. Size 50, I’d guess.” I didn’t argue with the recommendation or the measurement. We found two jackets, one in blue linen, the other in gray wool, that met with Maria-Giovanna’s approval. “You’ll see that men often wear jackets in the evenings, even with jeans.” They were from the design houses, but still fine to wear, she claimed. The prices were reasonable because the department stores and botteghe wouldn’t dare sell them past season. MariaGiovanna also convinced me to replace my backpack with a canvas messenger bag. “Even businessmen carry these,” she explained, “but usually in leather. Students’ bags are canvas or nylon; I like the canvas ones.” We reached the Viale Trastevere and boarded a tram for central Rome. At the Via Arenula, we stepped off the tram, crossed the road, and plunged into a maze of

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narrow streets, their shade a relief after the sun of the marketplace. “Where are we going now?” I asked. “You can buy shirts from Naples cheaply in the Via dei Giubbonari, the ‘Street of the Jacket-Makers.’” Even in shops, with many merchants close together, haggling or walking away brought the prices down. Maria-Giovanna mouthed the word, “Colore,” as I made my selections, so I settled on some cotton dress shirts in blue and pink to supplement the white Oxfords I had considered so versatile. We walked up the street to Piazza Campo de’ Fiori. Maria-Giovanna pointed to a bakery. “It’s time for a merenda, a snack, and then I have to go home and change for a lunch date,” she announced. I couldn’t imagine her having to change clothes to go out, but I was beginning to understand the importance of dressing for the occasion among the Romans. My clumsy shoes, heavy jeans, and black T-shirts betrayed a notion that Rome, or any other Western city, would resemble Chicago: cement sidewalks, northern breezes, and adolescent informality. But Rome was a city of hills, leveled somewhat by time, crisscrossed by ancient pavements and stairs. The city’s climate was Mediterranean, hot and dry or cold and damp, gentle or fierce. And the Romans were stylish, dressing with enough elegance per fare una bella figura, to make a good impression. At the fornaio, where only bread was baked and sold, Maria-Giovanna ordered slices of pizza bianca, focaccia drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with sea salt. “This is what good Roman mamme pack for their children’s mid-morning snack at school, but grown-ups eat it too,” she explained. We walked across the piazza as we ate. “If you need a hot lunch, go to a tavola calda or a rosticceria, like the one where Signora Lucia got the chicken the other day. She didn’t have time to roast one before lunch—nor would

she want to in summer. Otherwise, just come to this market, and buy fruit, cheese, and pizza bianca. The tomatoes from Campania, like those in the insalata caprese, you can eat like plums. They’re sweet and have little juice, which is why they’re good in salads.” Maria-Giovanna pointed out a small fountain at the edge of the piazza. “You can drink water from fontanelle like that one all over Rome. It comes from the Apennines through aqueducts, so it’s safe and tastes good. But it has a lot of calcium, so the Romans say it will give you kidney stones. That’s why they drink bottled water.” We left the piazza and said goodbye before going our separate ways. “I’ll be traveling for work over the next few weeks, but we’ll see each other later, when I come back. Ci vediamo dopo, David. Ciao!” “Ciao, Maria-Giovanna. Ci vediamo,” I responded. *** In the meantime, I checked the schedule of scioperi—strikes—each week and planned around them. The shoes and jeans from Porta Portese made walking around Rome a comfortable alternative to riding the bus whenever a strike left me no choice. The new jackets and dress shirts elicited a more helpful reception from the staff of the research libraries I visited than my T-shirts had. I must have looked more like a visiting scholar than an itinerant graduate student. I ate inexpensively at the market most days and splurged at a tavola calda or university mensa on weekends. And, for less than I’d spent to stay at a student hotel, I was able to take an Italian course and live in a rented room the language school had found for me. That step also gave me confidence in speaking and opportunities to meet people. Back in Rome, Maria-Giovanna invited me to dinner at a favorite restaurant. She told me to meet her at Tre Scalini, a bar in Piazza Navona, before dinner—no earlier than 7:30—for an aperitivo. The piazza was filled with couples and families strolling, artists painting, musicians playing, and, along the Corsa Agonale, fortune tellers reading Tarocchi, Tarot cards. The three fountains, including Bernini’s Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi, were floodlit, as was Borromini’s church of Sant’Agnese in Agone. I found MariaGiovanna at a table on the piazza. “It’s all right to splurge once in a while,” she explained, standing to kiss me on each cheek. “Salve, David!” She wore another elegant dress, basic black. I was wearing the blue jacket, khaki jeans, and a pink shirt from our shopping expedition, and was not selfconscious. “Look at you!” Maria-Giovanna exclaimed. “Dressed that way and with a little suntan, you look more Italian.” She lowered her eyes to check my shoes—the tan leather sneakers—and nodded her approval. “Siediti,” she said, gesturing for me to sit. “You seem happier now too.”

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“Your advice has helped me feel more at home,” I explained. Part of getting by in Rome was getting along with Rome, not railing against inconveniences beyond my control, and not proclaiming myself, in appearance or behavior, an outsider. The waiter arrived, and Maria-Giovanna ordered, “Due Campari Soda, per favore.” She explained, “It’s an aperitivo, very nice before dinner.” When the waiter returned, he poured two bottles of red liquid into glasses with ice. “Cent’anni!” Maria-Giovanna toasted. “May you live a hundred years!” “Salute!” I responded. “To your health!” I sipped. The beverage was bitter, lightly alcoholic, and sparkling. “Campari is made with bitter oranges. It’s good in the summer,” Maria-Giovanna told me. We finished our drinks and told each other about the intervening weeks. Maria-Giovanna had been working in Milan, where she kept another studio. “It’s an ugly city,” she said, “but it’s where Italy’s business is done.” “So why do you live in Rome?” I asked. “Look around you.” Eyes widening, Maria-Giovanna gestured about. “There’s beauty everywhere, and life here is good.” “And you’re seeing someone here?” I ventured. Maria-Giovanna smiled. “A friend,” she answered. “We both travel for work and see each other in Rome whenever we can.” She signaled to the waiter that she wanted to pay. “We should go to the restaurant; I’m getting hungry.” “I am too,” I commented. “È lontano da qui?” I asked. “Is it far from here?” “Romans ask, ‘È lontano da qua?’” Maria-Giovanna corrected. “‘Qua?’ Why?” I asked. “Just because ‘da qua’ sounds more musical than ‘da qui,’” she explained with a shrug. “But no, it’s not far. Andiamo! Let’s go!” We walked to Navona Notte in the Via del Teatro di Pace. We ate bruschetta, linguine with mussels, and a salad of bitter greens, drank white wine, and finished with

tiramisu and espresso. As we sipped our coffee, MariaGiovanna asked, “Are you going to church this Sunday?” “I hadn’t really thought about it,” I responded. I had become used to how ubiquitous the Catholic Church was in Rome—and how ambivalent most Romans seemed to it. “But I guess I should.” “Yes,” she confirmed, “but not for the reason you think. Senti, David. You’re Catholic, but you need to go to All Saints Church in the Via del Babuino, near the Spanish Steps. It’s Rome’s Anglican church. There’s a bulletin board where Romans looking for private English lessons post announcements. But the church isn’t always open, so you need to go on Sunday. Private clients pay better than language schools—in cash. And many Italians want to learn English. I know you’re trying to save money, but with your background and a few clients, you could make enough to cover your expenses.” Maria-Giovanna insisted on paying, and we stood up to leave. “Remember, go to the English church,” she reminded me when we said goodbye outside. “Ciao, David! Ci vediamo.” “Ci vediamo, Maria-Giovanna. Ciao,” I replied, as she turned toward Piazza Navona. *** My Italian course finished, I had to move out of my room to make it available for another student from the language school. I responded to a posting by an AngloItalian couple seeking a live-in English tutor for their son. I spent a month living with and working for the family in the Prati district, overlooking the Tiber. I gave conversation lessons to Francesco, who would be going to study at an English university in the fall. Francesco’s English was good, but he needed more confidence in speaking. The irony was not lost upon me; I had needed Roman life lessons for similar reasons. When Maria-Giovanna was next in Rome, I invited her to dinner at L’Insalata Ricca in the Largo dei Chiavari, a vegetarian restaurant popular among students, foreign and Italian. Maria-Giovanna was dressed casually, for her, wearing a sleeveless beige linen dress with an amber bead necklace. I wore my olive jeans and gray jacket with a blue shirt. She nodded her approval as I stood to greet her. Maria-Giovanna suggested semolina gnocchi, a Roman specialty. We also shared a grigliata mista, a mixed grill of local cheeses and sliced vegetables, and ended with a salad of rucola. As we finished the Umbrian wine we had ordered with dinner, I told Maria-Giovanna I

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had news. “My student, Francesco, is leaving for university in England the week after next, so I’ve had to look for another place to live and way to support myself. That’s the bad news.” “There is good news too,” Maria-Giovanna guessed. “Maybe you’ve found another client?” “No,” I began, “even my good news is bad.” I told her I had received a scholarship from the GoetheInstitut to study and carry out dissertation research in Munich that fall. “I’ll get room and board, and a stipendium,” I explained, “so I won’t have to find a job.” “Bravo, David! How is that bad?” MariaGiovanna asked. “You couldn’t stay in Italy without a visa, so the timing is perfect.” “Just when I feel comfortable in Rome, it’s time to leave,” I complained.

“You’ll come back,” Maria-Giovanna insisted. “Now that you understand the lifestyle, the language, the food and wine, you’ll know how to get by in Rome. Saprai arrangiarti. You’ll come back because everything will be familiar.” She dabbed her lips with a napkin before refreshing her lipstick. “Red wine stains the lips. If you’re not careful, everyone will see how much of it you’ve drunk.” I laughed at her parting advice as we stood up. I walked Maria-Giovanna to a taxi in the Corso Vittorio Emmanuele II. We embraced, kissing on both cheeks, before she got into the cab. “Ciao, David. Buon lavoro in Germania. Do good work in Germany. Ci vediamo.” “Ciao, Maria-Giovanna. Sì, ci vediamo,” I said as I shut the door of the cab. We couldn’t have known it, but MariaGiovanna and I would seldom see each other over the years to follow, our lives taking us in different directions. But I would often return to Rome, and remember her each time.

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Next Issue Theme: “Leap and the net will appear!” (2,000 – 4,000 word submissions) Deadline: June 20, 2012 Publication: July 1, 2012 Introduction: by Ruth Cupp Note on Submissions: Make sure you put your name and title as the first two lines of your submission in the document. Also, if you could title the document with your name and the issue, that would be peachy. Have fun traveling the globe. I bid you a fond greeting from the home office in Michigan City, IN, U.S.A. Yeehaw! Editors Final Note: So much to do! Guest introductions are being set for the next year. Trisha Bhattacharya is doing the October 1 2012 issue and Stefanie Sabathy is doing the January 1 2013 issue. Thank you Stefanie for the last minute switch. Let me know if you are interested in writing an introduction to the Turl Times. You can set the theme of the issue and in addition to the Introduction you have to submit a piece for that issue as well. We are also looking for guest writers and will be doing profiles on our current writers—so be prepared for Carolina Amoroso to

contact you for an up close and in-depth interview. Don’t worry it will be quick, and she’ll be gentile with you. And as always, please send us your Bulletin Board items and updated Bio’s. Thank you all. BBBS-JLK
Photo Credits 1. Jackie Lee King (Cover Photo) 2. Production still from “Petticaot Gambit” (Sept 2011). Photographer: Allie Bogar (p. 2) 3. http://dancingdeck.wordpress.com/2010/12/30/danceforms/ (p. 5) 4. Wafik Doss (Fiko) 2012 (p. 7) 5. Omnya Attaelmanan 2010 (p. 11) 6. Jackie Lee King 2012 (p. 15) 7. Wafik Doss (Fiko) 2012 (p. 19) 8. http://manic-lizard.xanga.com/753034253/abandoneddiner-madness/ (p. 22) 9. Sean McIntyre. Narvik, Norway (1997) | Used with permission of Sean McIntyre (p. 25) 10. http://www.roninrome.com/shopping-dining/coffee-in-italy (p. 31) 11. http://tripwow.tripadvisor.com/slideshow-photo/famousfountains-by-travelpod-member-erinkoval-romeitaly.html?sid=14299752&fid=tp-15 (p. 33) 12. http://www.pontuali.com/marco/en/tours/rome/183roma-barocca-segreti-storie-e-legende-in-mezzagiornata.html (p. 35)

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Contributors (Cont.)
David Jeffrey and his wife Annie moved from Sydney, Australia to New York in 2000 when I was posted to work in the Office of Legal Affairs at the United Nations. Our two children, Royce and Ellen, work in the DC area and we have extended family in the Oz and the UK. I sing in the bass section of the Choir of the First Presbyterian Church in the City of New York in Greenwich Village. In Sydney, I hosted a live children’s television program during college and law school, wrote and performed comedy sketches on public radio, and appeared in TV commercials and soaps. In New York I continue to write short stories at present, am a keen cyclist, hiker and swimmer and take improv theatre classes. It has been a privilege and a joy to be part of this wonderful Summer School. Amy Lovat Ever walked down a dark alley and felt the presence of someone behind you? That’s Amy. In addition to sporadically stalking and killing strangers (or, at least writing about it), Amy loves editing. She first realized this love of spelling and grammar when she was six. She stole her best friend’s ‘writing book’ and vandalized it with a red crayon. She remembers the rush, followed by profound contentment. Amy is a self-confessed grammar and punctuation freak and one day hopes to make a career out of correcting the mistakes of others. Either that, or stay a Uni student forever. In the mean time, she takes photos of Public Spelling Mistakes at http://public-spellingmistakes.tumblr.com. Amy is currently finishing her Honours thesis in Creative Writing at University of Newcastle, Australia, and is deciding whether to finish that dreaded Law degree, or pursue a Doctorate in Creative Writing. She spends her time oscillating between writing, traveling, working in a cafe, teaching ballet and Pilates, and blogging about the awesomeness of Newcastle at http://novocastriantourist.wordpress.com. James McDonough is compiling a book of English and Swedish poetry titled Not About You under the pen name Edwin Oak which, will be available in May 2012. There is a Facebook page and website www.edwinoak.com with more details and poems. Sean McIntyre Based in Melbourne, Australia, playwright, screenwriter and character actor, Sean McIntyre has produced and written plays which have been performed in Australia, Ireland and the United States. His play ‘A Kind of Destiny’ has twice been awarded Best Actor (JUDAS) and recently featured as a finalist at Crash Test Drama, March 2012. His short play ‘The Pickup’ was selected as a top 30 finalist from over 1100 plays for Short and Sweet (Melbourne and Sydney, 2005) – the world’s largest short play festival. Sean is creative producer of ‘A Fistful of Scripts’, a script reading series, which he created and launched at Theatre Works, St Kilda in July 2010. His writing also includes personal essays, short stories and film scripts. In 2011, he presented the workshop: 'Adapting Your Own Work For Stage and Screen', at 2011 Williamstown Literary Festival. In 2010, Sean also studied Creative Writing at Oxford University.

Appearing in some 15 short films and feature films, as well as TVC’s and theatre, Sean has also handled media for a range of independent theatre productions, most recently Mark Andrew’s ‘Bomb The Base’ (2011 Melbourne Fringe Festival) and ‘Time’s Arrow’ (La Mama’s Carlton Court House). He is currently collaborating with Chilean director Marco Romero on a unique 'micro theatre' project for Melbourne audiences (Lounge Theatre, Jimmy Flinders Productions) originated by Teatro de Cerca (teatrodecerca.com) performed to sell-out audiences in Spain. Sean continues to plot an assault upon New York’s off-Broadway scene, publish an anthology of his writing and holds onto his dream to spend a minimum of 6 months experiencing life as an ex-pat overseas. Amanda Redinger was born in Providence, Rhode Island, USA. Her primary job at Oxford this summer was writing everyone else's bios for the anthology, while almost never doing any of her own work. Camilla Mørk Røstvik is 22 summers old, divides her time between Student politics, Art and Architecture History studies at the University of Oslo, traveling and drawing princesses. Enjoys anything Alice in Wonderland, aesthetically pleasing and/or Spanish. Dislikes waiting, nonvegan food on the vegan-menu and British Boy Bastards (a rare, but terrifying breed) She is also known as Always-in-a-dress, Norwegian Ninja and Princess. Stefanie Sabathy who is also known as “Steff” has studied English and German, taught at the University of Mexico City and is now teaching kids and teenagers in her hometown of Vienna, Austria. She loves traveling which has brought her to remote places in Mexico, Australia, New Zealand, Great Britain and the USA and to many cities in Europe like Amsterdam, Paris, Rome and Berlin to name but a few. She has been writing since she was little, has studied Creative Writing at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champain and has done workshops at the Vienna School of Poetry and the Scuola Holden in Turin, Italy. In the summer of 2010 she attended the Oxford Summer School of Creative Writing and she is deeply moved that within this circle she now has the opportunity to publish her stories in “The Turl”. Calvin G.W Sandiford was born in Montréal, Québec, Canada. He obtained a Bachelors of Arts in Political Science from the McGill University. He read law and was granted an Honors degree in Law from the University of Wales, UWIST. He is a member of the Honorable Society of Lincoln’s Inn. He was a tutor of law at the City of London Polytechnic in England. He has written on a constitution for the Nlaka' Pamux of British Columbia. He read and received a Masters of Laws in Maritime Law from the University of London. He has sat as an Arbitration Judge. He retired as an Officer from the Canadian Forces in 2010 having served in all three branches twice serving overseas in accordance with Canada's NATO obligations. He was awarded the Canadian Forces Decoration. He has attended the University of Oxford, Exeter College where he undertook a

creative writing programme As head of The Sandiford Group he is spending his time post the military representing authors and publishers, as well as reading and writing fiction and nonfiction and lecturing on constitutional law issues. He is also a member of The Independent Press. He enjoys spending time with his son in Germany as he re-entering the practice of law in the United Kingdom. David Sgarlata teaches English and humanities at Robert Morris University of Illinois. He had completed a doctorate in literature and critical theory at Northwestern University but later returned to graduate school at DePaul University for a master’s degree in creative writing. David lives with his long-time partner, Scott, and their German shepherd, Bunny, in Oak Park, outside Chicago, and at their farm in western Illinois. He is currently working on a novel and writing about Chicago architecture for an educational website. Sheeba Shah is a published writer from Nepal. I write fiction. My first, LOYALS OF THE CROWN, is a historical fiction dating back to the 1840's. My second, BEYOND THE ILLUSIONS, is a spiritual fiction that describes in detail and rather dramatically the intensity of belief in Kali worship in India. My third and the latest is called FACING MY PHANTOMS. This novel is seen from the perspective of the bewildered mind of the chaotic youth during the Maoist insurgency period in Nepal. It too is a period novel as it keeps skipping time from the 1940's to 2001 and there after. Aggie Stachuraa; misses y'all! Oxford seems like a happy dream. Publication-wise, it's been a good fall; I've had work published in Hint Fiction, Fifth Wednesday Journal, and The Sun. But four months of full-time work plus graduate school have left too little time for new writing. Now that my work hours have dropped and I'm between semesters, I'm in a much better mood. Laptop + cafe + writing time = happy gal. Danielle Williams is currently sipping wine and listening to music trying to figure out how to define myself in a hundred words. I suppose the word that defines me most honestly is: searching. I am searching for a way to connect what is inside me with the world outside me. Often times, I’m bewildered by how our world operates, and more often, I feel very alien. I’m on the outside observing and noting observations. My noting methodologies include words, drawings, videos, performances, and conversations. But these are things I do, not who I am. I suppose, most honestly, I’m still searching for who I am...

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