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or: Everything I Want to Say to That Only White Dude in 12 Years A Slave

Who Got Nominated for an Academy Award

By Sarp Sozdinler

You can’t say they didn’t whip your talents after all, that they never scalped your skull to peek inside, to recognize you for your rich inner world, your privilege in the shape of a man, the kind that’s farting your rehearsed lines as if it would explain a lot, your Aries moods and big dick energy, your been-theres and done-thats, always better and before, always following one success story after another, of how you traveled across realms and ate worlds, of how you swam with sharks in the morning and shat awards at night, wrestled mutants and sniffed crack, of how you rescued entire civilizations and sometimes cats but never, never, never your loved ones, not even at times of need, definitely not as Magneto or David, much less a slave owner, and always, always, always at the cost of your eternal doom, your own private idaho, your five o’clock shadow and After Eights, your handheld loneliness and paparazzi nonchalance, your depression beard and bony frame, despite the big screen and its extra few pounds, despite the scores of muscle mass you lost in most films, slashed Spartans and invented Macintosh, golfed with the Clintons and ignored the Weinsteins, you legend, you the mad king, a winner both in victory and defeat, a speculatively good guy deep down, way deep down but still, one that is not hard to picture sitting across from me at my dinner table, drinking my beer and chewing my beef, while me telling you that I know, that everyone gets the pronunciation wrong, that Shame was in truth one of the most romantic movies ever made, that how hard it must be to be born in one continent and prove yourself in another, how you’re the star of everything you’re in but sometimes a star for all the wrong reasons, how you seem to never know when a director would kill you off, would make you look bad in the eyes of the viewer, you shaking your head in disbelief, amazed to have at last found someone who understands, then saluting me with another one of your boring speeches while resting your free hand on my knee, you foolish casanova, you inglorious basterd, one who was born into the dark side of the world and doomed to die in a darker one, both in rhetorical and artistic senses of the word, both on IMDb-realm and in real life, all while his mortal self will forever be a-slaving away.

Sarp Sozdinler is a Turkish writer out of Philadelphia and Amsterdam whose work has been featured or is forthcoming in the Kenyon Review, Masters Review, The Normal School, Hobart, HAD, Maudlin House, Passages North, The Offing, and elsewhere.

Art by Sarp Sozdinler.

By Jade Braden

When we moved in we both got the feel that something was there, something rather than somebody, which was an important distinction because we were used to living with somebody and weren’t as sure what to do with something, especially when we couldn’t pin down exactly what that something was because there are so many options when you move to this part of town (like demons or land spirits who were never human) but now that I’ve had some time, I think I have it figured out: somewhere between the ever present hum of power lines and chemicals in the water putting us on edge, foreshadowing snuck in and warned us that we wouldn’t live alone long if we ever did, and you know I don’t think we did, because there was always something crawling in (fat spiders through the door jam and stink bugs through the windows) and we hoped that nothing bigger would come along, but of course that’s when the first mouse showed up, and then the second, and the others, and we got so tired of calling the landlord each time that we started buying our own traps and snapping their little necks in them, which I haven’t stopped feeling guilty about even though I gave them fair warning—as if they speak English and as if I don’t entice them with name brand peanut butter (because I refuse to let them die with any less dignity than that)—and either way they kept coming and we kept killing them and then I’d have to dispose of their cold tender bodies so I could make my breakfast or dinner—we were always waking up or coming home to death—and I sort of got good at it, taking them away with latex gloves (while praying), didn’t have to cry every time, but still that ball of guilt welled up in my heart and hasn’t yet receded because I know I’ll do it again if I have to and that I’ll have to (because who are they to resist a hole in the wall that leads to warmth and sweetness) until someone comes to patch those holes up and that in the meantime our sanity will be steadily chiseled away because the kitchen is now a live-in jumpscare, a full-on stop-in-the-doorway-hair-raised-slowly-checking-each-trap-before-proceeding movie moment, bated-breath, hoping that nothing is waiting, hoping that nothing will jump out of the toaster (again), and honestly, maybe I feel better that I’m suffering because I know the mice are having their revenge; in fact, when the closet door started swinging open at random I surpassed the logical answer that the weather was making the house shift, and straight to the conclusion that the ghost mice were opening it (and somehow maybe there’s more comfort in that thought than fear), saying “we’ll never be gone” and “check the trap in here, we’re waiting” which would be a good ploy if they were dealing with an amateur, but I’ve watched too many horror movies so I just close the door five times a day and don’t look in, hell, I wrote papers on The Tell Tale Heart, so I know how it all goes, but that doesn’t stop me from being a heroine on the brink of madness, it doesn’t stop me from knowing that ghosts, guilt, and grief are so often the same thing, doesn’t stop me from knowing that one of these days I’ll have to look inside the door and face the fact that what I abhor most here, waiting with death and rot and severance and sadness, reflected in their big dead eyes, is me.

Jade Braden is an author and artist based in Columbus, Ohio and can be found on Twitter @jadewcb, online at, or buried underneath a mountain of guilt for all the mice she’s had to kill in the past few months.

Art by Jade Braden.

By JV Genova

Frothy spit swirled in the bottom of the small plastic bottle, my tiny little spit bubbles popping slowly as sunlight filtered in through the slats of the window blinds, producing little rainbows on the translucent bubbles while I bent over the bottle and watched my saliva swirl, shine, and pop as behind me in the small room the rustling sounds of other people—a doctor, my husband, my baby, and my mother—all uncomfortable and unsure what to say, could be heard as I lingered over the bottle studying my future, wondering what the spit would reveal, considering the technician in the lab who would process the spit full of my DNA much like a prophet reveals the future in tea leaves at the bottom of a cup, and the technician would relay the information to the computer before leaving for their lunch break, my future a simple task needing to be completed before another person’s future could be read, and this alone would tell me and my family members gathered in the small room making the small noises what the odds were of my death and what drastic measures might need to be taken to try to avoid it—answering the mystery of whether my ancestors gave me the genes that could cause various parts of my body to replicate and replicate and replicate until my death—maybe soon; maybe not, but now we wait for a lab test prophecy, everyone contemplating their own future.

JV Genova dabbles in photography and growing potatoes; she can be found on Twitter @jv_genova when she should be writing.

Photo by JV Genova.

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