Damn Eurydice by Máiréad Casey
My thumb threads along the scalpel’s edge. It’s the only thing that glimmers in our bathroom’s grim light. With little hesitation, I press down on the shining apex and watch it puncture my cheesecloth skin. Dark liquid seems to stain the flowing water twisting down the drain, but it looks for all the world like ink. Tomorrow I’ll buy light bulbs.
I would ask you to do it, but of course you’ll never think of it. You probably won’t even go into work tomorrow. In your head you’ll still be where you are right now, two rooms away and trying to mend the bleeding man on our tile floor. With the kitchen lights, you can see, his blood is the right colour. I think I’ll get those light bulbs again for the bathroom. You will continue in vain to repair the broken vase and retrieve its spilt liquid. I will plan for our new, very wonderful future.
Always the sentimental type; you claimed to be unafraid of your feelings, of loving me in ways we both knew I could never express. You were also meek and indecisive, never fully present or committed, at least not to me. But tonight, when we heard the awful sound of glass crashing in our back door and a person’s purposeful footsteps violating our home, you made a choice that cemented your fate, and our lasting love. You reached for the tan leather case of veterinary tools on the desk, and unsheathed the deadly little serpent’s tooth I hold here. It is worth noting that you did not pick a duller instrument of intimidation like the dumbbell or chair-leg. For Heaven’s sake, what else could you do with a damn little thing like that? I know, you only intended to frighten the intruder, but your intentions do not matter now.
Now you strive to undo the most permanent of deeds.
I saw your eyes pop when you realised what you had done. Really I mean pop, like bubble wrap, bulge and blow and after that brief instant of gratification, gone forever. You are a ghost already.
But there is hope; there is apotheosis. This unworthy, thieving cretin has been delivered to our door and with this blade we will transform him into something more. Your shock and malleable ways will follow my sure hand. Sweet shame will unite us. Although we share a house, a car payment and a cat named Buttons I hate more than waiting at the post office, it was always too uncertain. Nothing really prevented you from walking out the door in the morning and simply deciding not to come back. But secrets like this one, secrets like we are going to have, can forge as well as destroy. You follow me down into to the Underworld; there is no need to rise and return, when together we can frolic in the Elysian Fields forever. You did say you liked meadows.
I can hear you calling my name now.
I swan back to where you and the oozing man are waiting for me to return with dressing and antiseptic. I see his beard is caked with spewed-up, right-colour blood as his head rests on your lap. As I watch your raw panic and ever-diminishing chances, the proposal is crisp on my tongue, “Love, I know what to do with the body. No one else needs to – ”
A royal blue shard of light swipes through our small kitchen, then again, and again.
“It’s alright,” you coo to the body on the floor as if it was one of your ‘really brave’ terriers prepped for surgery, “the ambulance is here.” Your face is shining wet relief.
I wonder if this is what Eurydice felt when she saw her lover bravely descend to meet her below the earth, only to feel the fool catch her by the hand and lead the uninspired climb to where the sun still rises. You turn back from the failing fellow there for the first time and see me, holding the scalpel and know that like Apollo’s sorry son, you will be left to walk in the real world, alone.
With Holden Caulfield in the Panic Room by Kathryn Kulpa
Sometimes I envied tiny-purse girls, girls who could carry off going out for the night with nothing but a five-year-old’s Hello Kitty purse–room for car keys and lip gloss and maybe a tampon, if it was the compact kind without an applicator. I envied them but could never be them. I was a big-purse girl, if purse it had to be. Mostly, I was a backpack girl.
I had a horror of being caught somewhere with nothing to read. I’d heard about earthquake victims buried under rubble for days, miners trapped in tiny crawl spaces, and I’d think: but what did they read? I always had three books in my green canvas backpack: current book, emergency backup book, and tried-and-true comfort book, which, for a long time, since high school, really, had been Catcher in the Rye. I couldn’t have explained why I found it comforting. Rich kid, nervous breakdown, depressing interlude with prostitute, only able to relate to eight-year-olds. Not to mention the John Lennon murder connection. But there it was, its maroon and gold cover frayed and cracking. To me that book meant tenth-grade daytrips to Boston with my best friend Grace and my parents, book shopping at the Harvard Coop, and Indian food in Davis Square.
I kept other emergency gear, ready for disaster to come. My father said I was a true daughter of the Puritans, haunted by a sense of the millenial. I was born in the waning years of the Cold War; my first president was Reagan. Anything could trigger annihilation, even a child’s stray balloon. I’d grown up hearing that Prince song; I knew 1999 was only a few years away. I stockpiled. If you needed something, I was the person to ask. Kleenex, Band-Aids, sunscreen, safety pins, aspirin for the little hurts, Prozac for the big ones. Partially filled notebooks, extra pens, travel toothbrush and toothpaste, folding maps, subway tokens for cities I didn’t live in. A keychain flashlight. And food stashes, another legacy of high school, that year I avoided the cafeteria. I had restaurant packets of oyster crackers, now crushed; peanut M & Ms (protein), Skittles, fruit roll-ups. Tins of Altoids in case I had to kiss someone. Just in case. Anything could happen, even a sudden love amidst civilizataion’s ruins. Hurricane, earthquake, tsunami, tornado. A nuclear error. Ice age, blizzard, Donner Party. Just in case.
Máiréad Casey is a writer from Limerick, Ireland. She graduated Trinity College Dublin 2011 with a degree in English Literature and Film Studies and in 2012 with a M.Phil in Popular Literature. She did her master’s thesis on mutant children in science fiction and horror.
She’s previously been published in The Attic, University of Limerick’s online journal Full Stop, Silver Apples magazine and Steve Berman’s anthology Where Thy Dark Eye Glances: Queering Edgar Allan Poe. She is currently traveling, looking for more stories.
Kathryn Kulpa is a child of the 1970s, and therefore, some of her earliest efforts at fiction were ‘disaster’ stories with titles like “HURRICANE!”, “TORNADO!”, and “PLANE CRASH!” More recently, her work has appeared in Crab Fat, Foliate Oak, Gravel, NANO Fiction, and the anthology Up, Do: Flash Fiction by Women Writers (Spider Road Press).
Leonie Rössler is a contemporary composer, sound artist, musician, and teacher living in The Hague (Netherlands), where she recently completed a one-year course at the Institute of Sonology, as well as an “Electronics for Artists” course at the Royal Academy of Art. She studied composition with Calliope Tsoupaki and Peter Adriaansz at the Royal Conservatory of The Hague and received her Master Degree in 2013. During her time as a master student, she was also enrolled in the Contemporary Music Through Non-Western Techniques Program at the Conservatory of Amsterdam, where she studied composition and Carnatic rhythms with Rafael Reina and Jos Zwaanenburg. Leonie earned a Bachelor Degree in Composition and a Minor in Dance Performance at California State University Northridge and received her Associates Degree in Music (Classical Guitar) at Los Angeles City College.
She was born in the Ruhr District (Ruhrgebiet) in Germany, but relocated to the Southern California when she was sixteen years old, ended up in Los Angeles, and lived there for ten years, with the exception of an intermission of several months in San Jose, Costa Rica. Recent endeavors include writing, performing, and producing the film score to On the Frontline: The Office of the Prosecutor (a documentary produced by the International Criminal Court), and writing music for UNEVEN dance festival 2013.
These days it is not unlikely that you see her out and about with her field recording equipment, collecting city sounds for another chapter of her soundcollage series Luister Den Haag. Except for Sundays, when you can find her at Villa te Koop, building analogue synthesizers under the instruction of Peter Edwards and synth-legend Rob Hordijk.