By Margaret Doyle

We could talk about who knew and we nearly get there as the gravy boat dashes over turkey and hockey trades are discussed with gravitas but it would mean we’d have to scrape our chairs back, put on our coats and kiss each other goodbye or maybe slap each other so hard our cheeks burn for days, hands flying to our faces for years remembering that Thanksgiving when the truth was served and nothing was the same after because we saw what was under the tinfoil—below the crunchy browned skin was the wet meat of abuse ignored for so long it stank up the entire dining room but at least we finally knew who’d made the meal and who then should do the dishes.

Margaret Doyle is a screenwriter, digital storyteller, and occasional copywriter who recently graduated from the UBC Creative Writing program and is currently hunkered down in wine country in the interior of beautiful British Columbia.

Art by Brendan Doyle.

By Och Gonzalez

As if on cue, in the middle of March of this disastrous year, the whole world started baking, as if all at once a siren song rang out and people stirred awake and remembered they were once bakers in their past lives, and tins and pans clanked out of dusty cupboards while people cracked eggs into wells of flour and coaxed them into balls of dough, kneading and pounding and rolling and watching yeast make holes in it the way fear does in people, making all kinds of breadraisin, rye, banana, cinnamon rolls, and of course, the highly aspirational sourdough, among othersso much bread...while I, utterly useless in a kitchen, all I can do is watch the world bake in an effort to stay sane, and sing the first lines of “Aubrey”a not so very ordinary girl or name / but who’s to blamewhile I, a girl with a not so very ordinary name herself, but who can’t hear out of both ears, who only relies on reading people's lips to make sense of the world around her, can only think about all the lips disappearing in this season of masks, can only think about all the words getting trapped in a place where I can’t catch themnot a single oneand little by little I feel myself disappearing too, inch by inch like the topography of people’s faces have until all that’s left are their eyes, and I want to tear their masks off just so I could see their mouths, luscious, open, moving mouths to keep myself from dying but if I do that we could all literally die, and so I stay silent or talk to myself in the mirror, and I think instead about how, at the start of this year, the word “synchronicity” appeared on the pages in my journal, making more and more appearances until it had embedded itself in my subconscious, and I couldn’t tell you how this came to be, only that the word, perhaps, chose me, but in any case, I welcomed it with open arms because it struck in me so many images, images that appealed to my aestheticwater ballerinas with their toes pointed above water, a rowing team, a troop of cheerleaders, a marching bandall of them imply movement; without movement, there can be no synchronicity, and I had no way of knowing then that synchronicity would soon manifest itself in my life and in the larger world in a manner I could never have dreamed of, like people all over the world getting stuck in their homes, some away from their families, like people’s chests rising and falling and gasping for air, like doctors and nurses moving in sync across countries, going through the same movements as they tend to these patients, like heads bowing down all over the world, like prayers to different gods shooting upwards with the urgency of a fighter jetall of these synchronous movements having their origin story rooted in a tiny spiky ball of poisonall of these I certainly never foresaw when January first rolled in, and if I could only take the word and hurl it back to whatever blackhole it came from, you know I would, but it is what it is (oh, how I hate this saying but it’s true, isn’t it), and so I go back to watching the whole world bake so it doesn’t burn, and singing, no it never came around / if it did it never made a sound, and rowing my own boat round and round in my fishbowl of a house, my arms pulling the oars through the water in time with the endless ticking of the clock on my wall.

Och Gonzalez is a Filipino writer and artist, whose work in nonfiction has earned her a Palanca Award for Literature, as well as 1st Prize in the 2019 Coalition of Texans Against Disabilities’ Pen2Paper Writing Competition; her writing has appeared in Brevity: a Journal of Concise Literary Nonfiction, Esquire Magazine, Panorama Journal of Intelligent Travel, Lunch Ticket, and elsewhere.

Art by Och Gonzalez.

By Marcia Aldrich

As my husband and I were walking on a beach in Port Ludlow, a place we were visiting for the first time and just following our instincts about where to go, we reached what appeared to be the end of the sandy stretch of beach at which point he asked should we turn around, a familiar question, predictable even, what he says when he and I have reached an end whether it be a trail, a beach, a road in the woods or the end of a bad fight and just as familiarly I asked, what’s around the bend because I never want to turn around and go back, returning doesn’t call me, I want to go ahead to see what’s there even if it’s something difficult like jagged rocks or crashing waves that would make walking further arduous, after all the bright sand could fall away into black rock that could slice open my foot in a flash or we could be walking down a quiet country road lined with blackberries and queen anne’s lace and then turn with the bend and find a house on fire or someone shooting a dog or slapping their girlfriend or a neglected orchard, gnarled, charred and nothing green with nary an apple in sight, but I never think tragedy is up ahead, no, I think maybe there will be surprise, a prettier beach than the one I’m on with a view of the mountains suddenly exposed, sea otters lolling about near the water’s edge, a woman in a kayak paddling to shore in a white dress and waving to me as if she knows me, a single solitary blue heron hunched over in the shallows, with feathers like wet velvet, a dusty blue tinged with grey who cranks his head towards me and then lifts off into the air in one long exclamation point of a body.

Marcia Aldrich is the author of the free memoir Girl Rearing, published by W.W. Norton, and of Companion to an Untold Story, which won the AWP Award in Creative Nonfiction; she is the editor of Waveform: Twenty-First-Century Essays by Women, published by the University of Georgia Press (with teachers’ guide here), and has been the editor of the journal Fourth Genre: Explorations in Nonfiction.

Photo by Rose Portillo.

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