the brink

Luna Park

Phil Thompson

ISSUE NO. 3 • GOOD-BYE TO ALL THAT

I’m saying goodbye to a part of my life and a place. I will probably have to say goodbye to other parts of my life and other places in the future but I really don’t want to.

I enjoyed shopping and sought out ways to prolong my time in the supermarket. I think it was the anonymity. And the purposefulness. I stalked through the dimly lit shelves of alcohol and selected a six-pack: something dark today, something called Luna Park from Byzantium Brewery in Anna Cortes, I’d never heard of it. The packaging depicted a stylized crescent moon between the tips of dark pine trees, faintly lit by a glowing lantern at the bottom of the case. That was first in the cart. Then several boules of sourdough, a jar of green olives, a block of gouda, spicy mustard, red peppers, Guinness-battered brats, coffee concentrate (I liked the shape of the bottle), a Jamaican rub, chicken breasts, pre-cooked garlic bread, eight ounces of tri-tip, pears, potatoes. And in the miscellaneous aisles, birthday candles. All for me. Except for the candles. But you never know.

As I was checking out, I noticed a woman in the line in front of me. Middle-aged, wearing athletic pants and a pastel yellow fleece sweater. She was really nice to the tired-looking man at the register. Judging by the amount in her cart, she was shopping for a family. A movie was playing on cable that night that I wanted to watch, but I didn’t have any other errands and I didn’t want to go home, because I knew I would succumb to one of those depressing early-evening naps, so I waited until she pulled out of the parking lot and followed her. I liked to see where the families lived.

She drove across the bridge into an upscale neighborhood where the street forked into two one-ways separated by a grassy, tree-lined esplanade. I used to know some people who lived in this area, but they had all moved away a long time ago. The light of the sun, dipping below the ridge which we’d driven up, sunk like arrows into the strong brown tree trunks. Its orange tinge turned gold against the drab brick houses of the block, and the windows with the closed curtains flashed like wet eyes. A sliver of frigid moon could be glimpsed between the treetops.

A kid ran in front of my car. I didn’t need to brake – he was far enough down the block, and ran back after retrieving his ball – but I felt a lump form in my throat and I pounded the top of the wheel with my hands and cursed into the roof. I curled around the first break in the median and rattled home. I got home, drank all the beer, and went to sleep before midnight, dreaming of a gigantic purple shape that crushed the city into powder. Woke up to no good news.


So Long

Pardo, C.

ISSUE NO. 3 • GOOD-BYE TO ALL THAT

to the tune of Helena by My Chemical Romance


“Goodnight stars

Goodnight air

Goodnight noises everywhere”

-Margaret Wise Brown, Goodnight Moon

Long ago

Can I take a step back? Before I say goodbye. Just allow me this last reverie.

Just like the hearse, you die to get in again

Death and birth. Stagnation and Growth. Growing up and getting older. It's all the same thing, isn’t it?

Changing is dying.

We are so far from you

We aren’t who we used to be. There are so many years between you and me the space is hazy with all the time that’s fermented. I’m barely recognizable.

You’re not here anymore and all I can tell is that I’m here instead.


Burning on

I-

Just like a match, you strike to incinerate

Is this what living is?

The lives of everyone you know

No wait

And what's the worst you take

No no this isn’t what I wanted

(Worst you take)

No wait, please

From every heart you break

I can’t take it, don’t do this to me

(Heart you break)

I’m not ready

And like a blade you stain

I don’t know how yet

(Blade you stain)

Please please I’m not ready

Well, I've been holding on tonight

I’m not ready to grow up.


What's the worst that I could say?

Let me be a kid again.

Things are better if I stay

What if I promised to be good? What if I had the cutest laugh and the brightest smile? And chubby little arms that were open wide as I could stretch them? That couldn’t wrap themselves all the way around my father’s chest but could hold all the love in the world.

I promise I wouldn’t be any trouble. I would always listen and put my toys away. I might not always remember but if you reminded me I would - I promise, I promise I would.

So long and goodnight

I guess it doesn’t matter.

So long and goodnight

There’s no use believing in childish fantasies anyway.


Came a time

I can’t remember

When every star fall

The last time I was simply and plainly happy.

Brought you to tears again

Can you?

We are the very hurt you sold

I didn’t think so.

That’s the danger of nostalgia, isn’t it?


Can you hear me?

No not anymore. My memory is fading.

Are you near me?

I still wish I was.

Can we pretend?

Haven’t we been playing this whole time?

To leave and then

It’s hard to pretend we’ve been left farther apart than we already are.

We'll meet again

If I smile tightly while I say this it’s not because I’m lying.

When both our cars collide

It’s because I know that’s why I’m crying.

We can’t keep meeting like this.


What's the worst that I could say?

I want you to stay.

Things are better if I stay

It would all be so much easier this way.

So long and goodnight

But you were never here, were you?

You’re just me.

And I’m alone.

So long and goodnight

Goodbye.


Well, if you carry on this way

I can do nothing but move forward.

Things are better if I stay

All I have is this moment.

So long and goodnight

There is no going back.

So long and goodnight

But I’ll tuck you in gently, my childish fantasy

before I turn off the light.



Behind the Curve

Jennifer Willis

ISSUE NO. 1 • To Have a heart


Being a commuting student, I often feel that I have a completely different college experience from most of my peers. I wrote this piece for other students who may feel like they’re on the outside, and for the person who was there for me through it all. I see and appreciate you both.

I’ve totally missed the whole Tinder and Bumble and general online dating thing. Not that I’m complaining, but it would’ve been interesting to experience that. Whenever I go out to random places with my girlfriends, one of them will pull out their phones and jokingly go “Let’s see what’s going on out here.” I was hanging at a friend’s place in Plainsboro, New Jersey, when someone started swiping left. She wasn’t actually looking for a hookup; it’s become more like a party game among girls recently, I feel. Nonetheless, I was instantly hooked, like always.

“Let me see!” I’ll beg, and they’ll usually hand off their phone to me, disillusioned with the whole thing and wanting nothing to do with it anymore. I always take way too long, scrutinizing his bio and photos before deciding if this man is a good match for my friend, and swiping either left or right. I realize I take it way too seriously, and it makes me feel like I’m missing out on an entire way of thinking about dating. That you’re in control, and you have the freedom to choose any person you might want. Anytime I swipe left too quickly, I almost feel bad for the man I just digitally threw to the wayside. But then there’s another one there to scrutinize again, and the one from before is forgotten. It’s so fun.

My boyfriend and I started dating in December of 2013. I’m not sure how many dating apps existed by then, but we were under 18 anyway, both juniors in high school. Having been together so long, we kind of have an unconventional relationship for people our age, especially in today’s dating app world. I think we even have an unconventional relationship for college students in general. We’re seniors now, and we go to school in different states. He’s in Washington, DC, and I’m in New York City, so it’s not terrible, but it’s not easy either. Oh, and we’re engaged. We’re going to get married right after we graduate in May this year. And to me, that’s a miracle.

College, specifically commuting to college, was hard for me. I was depressed enough in high school for a cocktail of reasons, but undergrad was an entirely different ballgame. All high schoolers go home at the end of the day, no matter who they are. But not all college students do. And feeling completely disconnected from my campus took a huge toll on me emotionally.

I watched from a distance as my boyfriend, now fiancé, got adjusted to living on his own-- something I wrote about looking forward to doing in all of my college applications. The first time I ever visited him was for a long weekend in our freshman year, and my mom had demanded I take an 11am bus back to New York on Sunday so I wouldn’t be out in the city too late. It was freezing out, and no one was throwing any parties because all the fraternities and sororities were off campus that weekend, doing some kind of Greek retreat. I don’t know. The point is, I was dying to go out and just get trashed because I never had, and I couldn’t at home. That should’ve made me upset, but he didn’t let it. He invited all of his new college friends to his tiny room, and we had a movie night, which I still remember fondly but not too well because there was one of our good friends involved, Honey Jack.

He was there for me in ways I never expected. He showed me that college wasn’t rainbows and butterflies and fun parties like I expected. He’s in ROTC at his school so he worked harder than I had ever seen him do previously in high school. He felt his own disconnect, being a soldier on a very liberal college campus, and we found solace in each other despite being so far away. Don’t get me wrong- being long-distance was still really tough. We kind of had a role reversal: he was originally more clingy than I was, but once we got to college and I was bored at home and he was busy all the time...oh, how quickly the tables turned. It’s pretty funny in hindsight. If you told seventeen-year-old me that all this would happen, she’d cry laughing. Sometimes I still do.

I have not had, and will never have, the typical college experience, at least not the one that white people get to have. You know the one. It’s what they all advertise- some kind of weird individualism or whatever. For some reason, I thought being stuck in a plain brick room with a nightmare of a person was going to turn me into an adult. Try being stuck with your family, unexpectedly, for another 4 years, and see how quickly you turn into an adult.

But seriously, I was really looking forward to going to college the way I’d dreamt it up to be: a time and place where I’d find myself and lifelong friends. I didn’t get that, and it drove me into an emotional quarantine. As a senior on the verge of graduating, I’m still working on reconciling that. But what I don’t have to reconcile was that I spent college falling even more in love, growing and working on a relationship from miles and miles away. His warmth and support that he gifted me and continues to gift me is something that I appreciate immensely and have no words to really express my gratitude for. I’m trying it with this essay, but it feels so inadequate. The whole experience was so difficult. It really hurt me to watch the person I love get to have something I wanted so badly and to figure how to balance those feelings of jealousy and bitterness with the love and appreciation I have for him. He’s seen me at my absolute lowest. And after all this, he wants to marry me; he wants to continue providing for me forever, and call me old-fashioned but that is the greatest blessing I couldn’t have even asked for.

Sometimes I think about getting a Tinder just for fun, just to see what it’s like. I really feel that this thing that my generation collectively does is shaping our entire consciousness. Whether for better or worse, it doesn’t matter- it’s still huge. I don’t think I ever could get in on it though. I’m left to peruse my friends’ accounts, bringing them unnecessarily enthusiastic scrutiny and judgement, which they’ve seemed to either already have perfected themselves or just thrown to the wind. In this regard, I’m behind the curve. So yeah, I don’t know what it’s like to have Tinder. But it’s because I’ve been with someone for the past five years, someone who I really love, so that’s not exactly the worst problem to have. Disconnections aren’t always bad. While it’s fun and strange and totally earth-shattering to just have a catalog of men and women at your fingertips, it’s not something I feel too badly about missing out on. Actually, I’m glad I got a bit of a break. Lord knows I’ll need to save my energy for the new disconnection in my final semester of undergrad: planning my wedding.