Unlatched

Unlatched


Written by Lucy Wallis
Illustrated by Lucy McDonald


I held your diary in my hand but I didn’t read it. 

I imagine stored there within tiny fragments of your days, a kaleidoscope of being. Daily weather reports, and bird sightings, jumbled up with the minutiae of thought that flickers along the inside of your eyes (which is where I imagine my thought lives – but I never asked you where you kept yours). 

Today started fine and turned to rain. The leaves have begun to turn along the A40, and every night so far this week I’ve heard the geese pass overhead. I thought you’d like to know. 

I looked out of the back bedroom window over a garden much overgrown, and fields much unchanged since I sat on the edge of the bed a child a sent my dreams out there to run like Hazel’s ghost in the cartoon version of Watership Down. I never spoke to you about it, but I’m sure you read it. The country in that book being the country you grew up in. 

I heard a blackbird while I was sweeping. It’s only natural, being as it was after the rain. 

Standing in your shed, the smell of old oil and damp wood, and working things I saw a spider had strung her web across the small window panes in its corner. The Autumn light oozing through dusty panes to leave a streaky, blinking miasma over the fact that all of your things have been unhooked and packed away and all that’s left in here is a rusty saw, and a nice new home for spiders.

I’m not sure what sort of spider it is. 

Up the garden, the vegetable patches and flowerbeds are all overgrown and the apple tree bears fruit for the dropping because there’s no one here to pick them. You have gone elsewhere. 

Back upstairs now to the front where we crammed ourselves in making your 3 up 3 down a port in all our storms. The sun has become brilliant, and in the beams that break the silence the dust dances in eddies. Swirling in the current of all our comings and goings. Except no one comes. The house draws shuddered breath as the afternoon draws on and the curtains, undrawn, catch themselves in whichever breeze unsettles the dust. 

Memory settles in the corners of all the rooms and collects inside the cupboards and drawers. If I opened up the cupboard with your cups inside I might find whole days tucked inside the mugs. 11th June 1985 jumbled in with 1st September 2001. I might find 2002’s February, or 2007’s march. My memories, my mothers, the whole family’s, yours. Stored under the sink with the dustpan and brush and the WD40. 

In the garden, I look through the window at where you used to sit and where you don’t sit anymore and think about how nice it is that you’re not sitting there at all and you’re freer than all of us to go where you will, even though I wish you were sitting there just now. No, actually, I wish you were outside, or in the shed doing things, or up the garden digging. 

The last time I saw you, you read me Seamus Heaney’s ‘Digging’.

The August day was high and clear. No clouds. I heard a skylark in the field that morning and told you all about it. 

 When I read it now I hear you reading to me inside my head somewhere. In my head, you say ‘By God’. You say ‘By God, the old man could handle a spade./ Just like his old man.” and In my head, I reply to my memory of you “But I’ve no spade to follow men like them.”

In the silence that follows I playback you reading me the end: 

“Between my finger and my thumb
The squat pen rests.
I’ll dig with it.”

So after the cleaning and the clearing, I left the windows unlatched so that whatever may be left of you in those back rooms might find its way out through the overgrown garden, over the back fence, and into well-known fields. To wend and wind your way onward. Freer still than the birds are free. 

I go home to dig new furrows with my pen. The earth turns over. 

         and I leave my window unlatched too in case you come by in the night to
say hello.


Lucy Wallis (she/her) is a writer from London or Oxfordshire – depending on who’s asking. She created this zine from a tiny flat in Paris. Her life long goal is to become a morning person, or a writer other people tell their friends about. Her greatest fear is that only one of these is possible. You can find her on twitter & instagram @thelucylist

Lucy McDonald (she/her) is an illustrator and audio creator from London. She loves all things auditory and visual and can most often be found with a big set of headphones on and a pencil in hand. You can find more of her work on instagram @lucy_walks_about

Firmly Planted by Streams of Water

Milo Gorgevska lives in the dreary suburbs outside of Toronto, Ontario. Nonbinary and queer, they identify as a menace to society’s traditions. As a jack-of-all-trades, they are an author, director, poet & screenwriter. Previously, their writing under the pen name ‘Kara Petrovic’ has been published in Philadelphia Stories, Train: A Poetry Journal & others. TheirContinue reading “Firmly Planted by Streams of Water”

Meshwork

Meshwork by Soramimi Hanarejima In the cozy diner, breakfast with you is its customary languid affair of savory omelets and occasional quiet conversation—until coffee has coaxed me into greater wakefulness. Then I notice a lavender filament extending from you towards the tech district—a direction none of your strands has ever gone in. I know theContinue reading “Meshwork”

Bones For Arcadia

Bones For Arcadia

by Christopher D.Z. Mason


I’m at the table after dinner and through the window to my left I see hued layers of green going back into a smoked-blue haze. First is the back fence, festooned with creeping old man’s beard that grew with such groping vigour in the spring. Behind it is the top of the pear tree, leaves fluttering faintly to bare the small pink heads of new fruit. Further down is the hunched and shouldered back of the hill at the bottom of the village. Its coat is glossy and dark, that of walnuts and chestnuts grown out like sociable broccoli in an imaginary world. After that the landscape grows sparse. The domed and balding hillside below the forest is far enough away to feel like another place; a midland where only low, secretive bushes hold out against the valley’s ever-searching winds. A place where jackals and restless spirits own the night. And then, way off and robed in an opaque and silken cloak, lie the mountains. Each summit higher and paler than the last, until finally, just visible is Mount Mainalo.  It’s said to have been a place sacred to the rustic rutting Pan. Now it pushes in conical loneliness up to the heavens, always reaching, never holding.

Last winter we drank wine from the bottle as we stood for the first time in its shadow, alone but for the slender pines and many voices of the wind. I let the wine run from my lips and poured more into the snow. It was red and fleeting. My mind was full of wild whispered plaintiffs. Yearning poems from the Gods of the mountain passed over my head and the lives of my ancestors poured out of me like mist and returned through my nostrils to mix with the heavy scent of my dreams. My lips were cold and my body was an empty vessel left behind by my soul, which roared out to meet those who called me. But still I stayed, tethered, my edges snapping in the breeze.

From the last Cape of Africa to the middle of the Grecian Peloponnese, we moved as if ghosts in a packed and folded landscape, and we came to rest in the cupped hands of this mountain valley where I no longer feel as I did before. Who was it I left behind? Where is that person that held me all those years? Was he just a husk, a skin shucked against the rocks of change? You’ll know the feeling; the wind against new skin.

Now, I watch the colour change over dusky trees. Through the front veranda doors the vast breast of the valley’s warmed earth rises up to catch the last of the yellow sun. The frame is nearly filled with this arcing mound. The tip pushing into the white-blue envelope of the evening sky. New life is made in the seasons, and it is summer now. Anything is possible. All the windows of the house are thrown open. I am thrown open. The hot wind dries the hollows of my bones. I prepare my skeleton to be offered to this place. 


Christopher D. Z. Mason (he/him) is a writer and filmmaker from South Africa, living with his wife and daughter in a small rural village in the Peloponnesian Mountains of Greece. He has been making films incessantly for the last decade but has stopped doing this as much to write more stories. He’s published fiction in South Africa’s oldest literary journal, New Contrast, and poetry with Botsotso Press.


Opossum

by Zach Murphy Pete and Richard’s orange safety vests glowed a blinding light under the scorching sun, and their sweat dripped onto the pavement as they stood in the middle of the right lane on Highway 61, staring at an opossum lying stiffly on its side. Richard handed Pete a dirty shovel. “Scoop it up,”Continue reading “Opossum”

Houseplants

Houseplants By Jan Ball The houseplants thanked mein their particular green way,for your unexpected aspirationson the climbing philodendronin the guest room where you sleptlast night and for your fragrant exhalationsof carbon dioxide on the spiderwortpotted in the living roomwhen we companionably watchedThe Kominsky Method with Alan Aldaand Michael Douglas, laughing togetherat Douglas’ frequent visits toContinue reading “Houseplants”

Notes For Sunday

I was seventeen years old, utterly drawn to the closing scenes of The Sandlot (1993), when the narrator explains what happened to everyone after the sandlot becomes a location of boyhood. Bertrum said to have “gotten really into the ’60s, and nobody ever saw him again.” was one of the many lines that stuck to me.

In years past, my cousin Makala pointed, “that’s you,” and laughed. To this day, I have difficulty understanding. Sure, I loved Jimi Hendrix, The Beatles, and The Velvet Underground, but I wasn’t especially interested in LSD, Woodstock, The Sound of Music, or anything Charles Manson related.

The mosaic of bands that concealed my identity spearheaded the NYC Rock Revival. The Strokes, Interpol, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, and The White Stripes.
I recall listening to Julian Casablancas sing, “Yeah, it hurts to say, but I want you to stay,” on the corner of Washington Square Park in 2014.
Minutes before, my then-girlfriend said, “I don’t think this can last,” and we wished each other the best and never enunciated another word to each other, completely vanishing from one another’s life.

I felt something unlatch.

A few days later, after an evening of spiking forks through boneless wings, the Long Island Rail Road rattled the tracks above the heads of a few close friends and me. We were on the back streets of Forest Hills, speaking for what was our last time. There was an odd yet subtle comfort in understanding the end was inevitable. Everything was changing.
The vision I had of the city, along with the memories connected to it, was all slipping away. It was as if it were a balloon string, and I had clammy hands. Inherent guilt devoured me. I thought of J.D Salinger’s words from The Catcher in The Rye: “I was trying to feel some kind of good-bye.”
I waltzed away to Vermont the following morning. On top of the grass in the Green Mountain College quad, barefoot, around new friends, we swiped crackers through goat cheese, draped our arms around one another, pulled hemp joints, and discussed ideas of peace and what that entailed.

A guy roamed barefoot with a lengthy beard, tie-dye shirt, and guitar. He sat on the large blanket with a group of students who jammed and sang along to what somebody told me was a Grateful Dead song.

Vermont, in various instances, was a haven where the grass was greener. Perhaps I overwatered specific aspects at first to submerge the discomfort I buried. Nevertheless, the seed I continuously doused grew roots, expanded, and shattered through the shell.

I had graduated college, and aspects of life began to unfold. Then, at the end of July 2018, when I received the call that one of my best friends had passed away, I concealed tears in the crevices of bare palms. In the mornings, afternoons, and late nights, various train conductors chimed, “stand clear of the closing doors, please,” and I watched my window of despair shatter the millisecond the doors separated and merged at every stop.

“Things happen for a reason,” numerous commuters cued as they either patted my shoulder or my back before I got off at 42nd St.

Walking through the tunnel, reading The Commuters Lament with tears falling down my face, “Why the pain? Just go home. Do it again.” it read.

Days became uniform, grim memos enabled cynicism, and I couldn’t feel anything halfway through that week.

When thoughts of summer 2018 inflate my mind, all I could recollect was the thick fog. The world around me existed deprived of colour, emotionally heavy, and nothing made sense. Friends, family, and others spoke words filled with love, even hugged me, but I felt deflated. I was a balloon with punctured holes, strolling around breathless, hyperventilating in public, arriving to work late, crying in bathrooms, and throwing up near the carousel in Central Park.
In the middle of August, two weeks later, at my camp job in Pennsylvania, there was a unique installation at camp: the butterfly dome. The man who ran the program, Butterfly Rob, approached me one night while I walked over the thick wooden bridge and invited me inside the dome. We drank a cup of green tea, candidly conversed about people we’ve known who passed away. A chill ran through my body as Rob crossed his feet over each other, pointed across the tent, and said, “think of it like butterflies,”

On August 27th, all counsellors and campers stood beside the flagpole on the hill across from the cafeteria. Each of us watched Rob give a speech, and a few staff members assisted him in releasing about fifty butterflies into the Pennsylvania sky. I watched them vanish completely and developed questions about love and longing.

Over the years, there was no fight, only evasion. As a result, the city was cultivated into a territory of despair. Existential anguish was overt downtown, harshly scratched in bar bathrooms where indie music played. One memo, in particular, caught my eye: “The city is dead.”

Universal grief consumed the earth, left us damp with memories of suffering, and now that the world is opening up, I can’t help but allow hovering uncertainty to devour me when it will.


Dominic Pierre (he/him) is a writer, editor, and a fan of The Strokes from New York City. His work has appeared in CP Quarterly, Winnow Magazine, Dreams Walking Magazine, and Moonchild Magazine.


Adam Driver & other obsessions

by Bridie Donaghy


I have become obsessed with Adam Driver.

I don’t know if it’s my age or the isolation or what, but I am obsessed.

If you go into the search part of my Instagram, it is literally all Adam Driver based content; ‘Adam Driver as Kylo Ren’, ‘Adam Driver SNL’, ‘Adam Driver topless holding a mountain goat around his neck’. The algorithms are making it worse. They’re putting every single bit of Adam Driver content that there is in the world in front of me all of the time. Feeding my obsession. I consume it like biscuits or pringles or cigarettes. 

Last night I watched a montage video a fan put together from various films and tv programmes where Adam Driver holds babies. That’s all he does in the montage, hold babies.

I’ve watched the slow-motion video of him learning fights and doing stunts for Star Wars like thirty times now. The one where his hair flicks oh so slowly as he swings his massive arms around wielding a lightsaber. 

I go through phases where I’m a bit obsessed with people. 

Like, obviously, I wouldn’t actually stalk them or anything creepy, but I watch videos about them, read articles about them, cruise around their online fan accounts. I’m too fickle to make an actual fan account for anyone myself. I like too many different people at the same time to ever commit to just one. I’d honestly have like fifty fan accounts to maintain if I made one for every person I’ve been obsessed with.

Being obsessive isn’t cool, and it isn’t sexy either. Even just as a word it sounds gross, desperate. 

When I was younger, I was obsessed with Rupert Grint, the one who plays Ron Weasley in the Harry Potter movies, and I used to think about what I would say if I met him. I had this plan, this idea, that I would say ‘You’re Rupert Grint! Wow. Oh my god. I really loved you in Thunder Pants’… which would make him laugh because obviously I wouldn’t know him from Thunder Pants right? Obviously I would know him from Harry Potter, but by making that joke I’d show him I was funny and clever and not afraid of famous people, and probably exactly the kind of girl he should be going out with. 

I remember being eleven, sitting in the living room at home and rewinding and rewatching the moment in the first film where they’re playing the giant chess game and Ron says ‘Knight to H3’. Thinking about how brave he was, sacrificing himself so Harry and Hermione could go through to the next stage of the challenge. I’d fantasise about kissing him, pushing my face into a pillow, or my forearm or hand. I’d daydream about visiting his house, meeting his mum and dad and all of his siblings. 

When I was that age, I didn’t really have any shame about obsessing over people, or about fancying them. I was pretty ferocious. That comes later I think, the shame.  

Do you remember Ursula, from The Little Mermaid? I think…and this is going to sound gross right but…I think I might have got…a bit turned on by her. Don’t, I know, I know, I know that’s fucking weird but I just remember watching her in the film and being like ‘hm that’s interesting, I feel something about that’. But when you’re that age your sexuality is defined by the characters you see on tv. Like everyone fancied Robin Hood even though he was a fox. No one wants to talk about what the fuck was going on in their head at the time but it’s a fact. 

At least I was learning about those sorts of feelings from Disney and Harry Potter and not fucking PornHub like kids today. That’s fucked up.

Anyway. I’ve started watching Girls, for Adam Driver obviously, and this is going to be an unpopular opinion but, I’m really not that into it. I know I’m meant to be like, ‘wow that’s so me am I right ladies?!’, but I’m just not. It’s ok. It’s fine. Like it does something for lots of people so that’s totally fine, but it’s not amazing. 

I think I don’t like stuff that thinks it knows you already. Basically, anything that has inspired some marketing director to say ‘this is gonna totally resonate with women in their 20’s, right?! This totally sums them up!’ Only algorithms know what I want…though I guess they are programmed by marketing people…whatever.

Most of my fantasies pivot around me being desired or revered in some way. When I’m in the shower I practice what I’ll say when I win an Oscar, or a Nobel Peace Prize, or when Vogue interview me. Fame and fortune. Though I’m pretty sure you don’t get those things from sitting in your pants, obsessing over the lives of famous people. 

I think I just love to daydream. Obsessing is a bit like that. Making stuff up in your head cos it feels good and passes the time. 

Like I said though, it’s probably just the isolation. I don’t think it’s meaningful or says anything about who I am or want I want or need. What you obsess over at 3pm on a Tuesday has nothing to do with who you are the rest of the time. Besides, everyone ends up in some pretty shameful places in their head when no one’s watching.

Adam Driver by Luke Richmond

Bridie Donaghy is a London-based writer, producer & performer. You can find her on twitter @bridie_donaghy

Luke Richmond is a primary school teacher from London. When he’s not marking books and planning lessons he tries to find time to draw because his therapist said it’s good for him. You can find him @expletivesdeleted and his art @expletivesdrawleted.