August 30, 2012


I wasn't always a supermodel.

That seems like an obvious statement, right? It's not like hordes of modeling scouts are scampering through maternity wards with lighting rigs and cameras evaluating infants for sexy potential. They're not shining flashlights up expectant mothers' vaginas, whispering about the "it factor." They have no file cabinets stuffed with detailed womb profiles. Too bad. If they did those things, my path would've been straightforward. I never would've never endured a moment of insecurity. I never would've felt a moment of sadness or doubt. I could've streamlined perfection from womb to tomb.

Most supermodels are discovered in their teens, or early in adulthood. Having breezed through puberty with grace, dignity, and the awe of their peers, they arrive (on the scene!) with angular cheek bones, big bright eyes, and slender legs. All without effort. They (not so miraculously) find themselves among other pretty people. There vultures spy, awaiting and expecting them. Then, cameras. The world worships. Just that easy.

I didn't have that. Sure, I was a pretty good looking teenager. But I wasn't spectacular. I was a slight bit overweight, awkward, and certainly not aloft with breezy confidence and the expectation of adoration. I didn't have The Destiny. I stumbled into my magnificence via an all too common weakness.

Addiction has positive aspects, you know. They don't tell you that.

All of us, pretty and ugly alike, took our turns with substances. (except the hardcore academia nerds, but come on, fuck them, right?) For you, maybe, it was only beer and weed. A lot of us, though, disappeared for whole weekends, hiding in warehouses and forests, trying on different styles of blood chemistry. Call it youthful curiosity if you require justification. I tried them all. The ecstasy was good. I liked the instant fellowship. Acid was really intense, but it scared me sometimes. Heroin? Fashionable as fuck, but too dangerous and taboo, at least in my crowd. Cocaine, though? Fuck yeah more more more. Deviate my septum, right fucking now. Amen and hallelujah! I was all about it.

It took a while, but I got motherfuckin' skinny. And it looked damn good on me, gotta admit it. I was a mess, yet they all loved me. I had something. It was like being tickled constantly.

I know, I know, I'm dancing around it. Teasing. We do that. I'm getting to it, promise.

High school ended just in time. I flew off east and landed in the Big Apple. West Village, of course. (you expected that, and you were right to) NYU barely took me, but admitted I got. Was I a hipster? Maybe. Not too much, I like to think. It's not like I was a college radio DJ or anything. I didn't get carried away. At that point, at least. But damn if I didn't feel on top of the universe. The world? My oyster. Sex smothered me.

I could detail more about the college experience, but that's all irrelevant bullshit. Let's face it: I was headed for the center of the universe, and I fucking knew it. 

Hmm. There I go getting a head full of ego steam again. It's hard to step back, at this point, and be realistic. Fuck it, though, I'm hot shit now. You love me. You'll pay attention. You have no choice. My middle name should be Compelling. Ahem. Back to the story. Sorry. Not really.

It wasn't until the art gallery opening that the world laid down gently and spread its legs wide for me.

There I was. Laughing, drinking, and pretending to like vegetable dip. You know, just socializing. Being sociable. Waiting for the inevitable sunshine that I deserved. Sneaking off to the bathroom for a bump. I don't remember the names of the gallery or the artist, but I can tell you the canvases had some sort of misguided crap best described as Jackson Pollack interpreted as geometry. Garbage, but nobody said so.

A man grabbed my shoulder and laid it on thick:

"I can make you. Are you ready to be stalked?"

Naturally, I had a bad reaction to this ominous sentiment. I shoved him off, called him a creep, whatever. He stood there, implacable, offering superior knowledge.

"Fine. You're not ready. Take my card. (which he handed to me) You're perfect. Christ. I need your face. I need it now."

The fuck? I stepped back, setting down my ranch drowned baby carrot. Nervous, scared, and yeah, excited. He continued.

"Clock is ticking, darling. You only have moments. I want to dress you up. I want to muse you. I can make the whole world sit up and take notice of every last eyelash stabbing the atmosphere. You got what I need.  Make me money, sweetheart, before you grow old. Happens fast. I can make you famous. That's a promise. Give me a chance, and your life will magnify into something so amazingly good. I want you to be my supermodel. Wear my clothes. Wear my designs. Strut for me."

When I managed to close my gaping mouth, my gorgeous ass was smart enough to take him seriously. He was an awful creep, granted, but his confidence seduced me, and i decided to let him in. For my own glory. I believed him. 

I made the right decision.

So here I am. My tiny ass sells panties. You're not even sure who I am, after this little confessional, but I guarantee you desperately want to fuck me. Yeah, they give me money. They give me cocaine. As much as I desire. I have it all.

And I'm still young. I'm not old.


Steve Giles used to write a lot at Tinfoil Viking Science. He doesn't anymore, though, because he's a lazy fuckup with nothing to say.

August 28, 2012


Dorothee Lang was born in winter and thinks that the invention of summer was as perfect idea. Her favourite supermodel is Wonder Woman. She blogs at life as a journey. (

August 26, 2012


An American Seeker
by Kevin Catalano

Heidi returned from her job at the Watchung Bank and Loan that evening, glad to find that Paul had already left for work.  For the first time in their four-year relationship, Heidi began snooping through Paul’s things.  The cargo shorts Paul had worn while tending bar were balled up on the carpet next to his side of the bed.  They were dank with alcohol and sweat.  She turned the pockets inside-out and wads of cash fell to the floor, along with receipts and business cards.  Heidi sat cross-legged and sifted through the evidence, heart racing with expectation.  The business cards were not at all interesting (mainly because they belonged to men).  However, the receipts had suspicious things written on them.  Many had phone numbers and email addresses, though no names; one had drawings of stick figures with stick dicks going into stick vaginas; another, the one that really got Heidi’s attention, had the words American Psycho written in a female’s bubbly script with a heart next to it.   This receipt she held on to.
Ever since last night, Heidi was disturbed that Paul had managed to surprise her with the marriage proposal.  They were at the same semi-authentic Italian restaurant they always went to Sunday nights, and three different waitresses delivered three different, ever-since-the-day-I-met-you lines, all of which concluded with big Paul, wincing on a knee, displaying a ring. 
Heidi thought she knew him well enough to tell when he was keeping something from her.  In fact, he no longer attempted to surprise her with Christmas or birthday gifts.  Now he simply asked what she wanted, because she’d find the receipt for the gift, or the gift itself stupidly hidden in places he never frequented, which were the exact places she always did: the top of the coat closet where the iron was kept; under the kitchen sink with the glass cleaner and dishwasher detergent; inside the washing machine, for Christ’s sake.  Heidi didn’t like the version of herself that knew more about Paul than Paul did.  She hated being that kind of woman, the type depicted in sitcoms and women’s magazines—the ones who nag their dopey husbands.  But if dopey Paul was capable of secretly planning such an elaborate proposal, he could be capable of any other imaginable sneakiness.   
She knew the night would conclude with her sitting at the kitchen table, well into her third glass of pinot noir, Paul’s laptop open, looking through his emails.  She logged onto his account, typing in the same password he used for everything: Paul123
Two thousand unread emails.  She instinctively wanted to organize his messages, deleting the obvious junk emails, creating folders for the others.  But she was on a mission, searching for messages from girls.  Maybe American Psycho was a codeword he used when emailing some lonely housewife for a latenight hook-up.  She did a quick Google search and discovered American Psycho was a novel, which only intrigued her more, since Paul wasn’t a reader.  She then typed the phrase into the Email’s Search, but came up with nothing.  She scrolled through pages and pages of messages, clicking on the ones from females whose names were unfamiliar.  A few got her attention.  One from last year read: “Hope to see you this weekend” to which he had replied “Right on”—a phrase he unfortunately overused.  Mostly, these messages were harmless, though she wouldn’t allow herself to quit until she had exhausted her search.  She kept telling herself one more page.  And then it was one o’clock in the morning.
She felt disgusting.  Her legs were cramped from sitting in the chair at the kitchen table.  The entire apartment was dark, except for the blue light of the laptop screen.  She groaned and got up to pee, avoiding herself in the bathroom mirror.  The same impulse that compelled her to snoop, however, forced her to examine her reflection.  Closely.  She forced a smile, then let it limp, and studied the lines left behind.  So close the mirror fogged, she held her breath, and noted her freckles turning to the splotches her mother now had on her face and hands.  Heidi stared hard at herself, a ruthless showdown.  She shut the lights, darkness crawling her skin.
She muttered, “Fuck you, you old worthless bitch.”  

Here was the plan: when Paul woke up tomorrow, Heidi would be reading American Psycho on the couch, so that when he came out of the bedroom, she and the book would be the first thing he saw.  Over the top of the pages she’d carefully watch for his expression, that which would give him away.  Once trapped, she’d pounce—interrogating him until he confessed his infidelity.  She would have to prepare for what he might reveal: an affair that had gone on for years, perhaps with not only one woman, but countless female customers—hundreds maybe.  Perhaps he never worked at the bar; maybe that was a cover for cheating, and he was even savvier than she recently thought.  She had to be ready for anything.
There was nothing on TV that night—nothing else to do other than read the book.  She hadn’t planned on reading it; the book was a prop.  She wouldn’t admit this to most people, but her reading material of choice was vampire and sorcery and King Arthur books.  They didn’t write these novels fast enough.  She knew very well that these were what thirteen-year-old girls read—that they were considered low brow and so forth.  But they were good, and when she was home alone at night, she wasn’t looking to challenge her intellect or broaden her horizons.  She was just looking for a good read, and maybe if these literary authors got off their high horses and wrote something interesting for a change, she’d give them a try.
            Heidi put on her soft, froggy pajamas, poured herself some wine, got under a blanket on the couch, and opened this novel with the horrible name.  At first, she didn’t get it.  There was this egotistical guy who apparently loved face- and hair product, who loved to exercise and listen to 80s music, and who hung out with Wall Street friends who were shallow and racist and talked about nothing other than getting reservations at fancy restaurants.  Where was the psycho stuff?  Heidi kept looking at the book cover to make sure she had the right one.  This is so stupid, she thought, but found it rather easy to read—not a lot of big words or fancy writing.  She was over a hundred pages in when the guy narrating the book, Patrick, sliced open a homeless man’s eyeball, and it ran down his face like an egg yolk.  Then Patrick cut open the man’s nose, and the most awful part was that he didn’t kill the man; he just left him agonizing on the street, with his eye cut out and his nose flayed. 
            “Jesus,” Heidi said to the book, heart throbbing in her ears.  What surprised Heidi, scared her a little, was that she began to read faster, seeking out the next violent scene. 
            The violence to come was unimaginable horror, and she read voraciously.  This Patrick would lure various women into his extravagant Manhattan apartment, and do unspeakable things to them with mace, a nail gun, a rusty coat hanger, a power drill, and oh Lord, what he did to one with a rat.  Reading these scenes—described so carefully, in such gruesome detail—made Heidi afraid of herself.  The author’s trick, if it was one, was that what preceded the violence were detailed, pornographic sex scenes, so that Heidi constantly found her hand between her legs.  Then, out would come the nail gun!  She was convinced she was diseased in the head, the furious way she was devouring the pages, reading (hoping?) for how the author would top the previous scene’s gruesomeness.
            The handle of the front door jiggled.  Heidi froze.  It was 3 AM.  Thank God it was only Paul.  She remembered the book, the plan—this could all backfire if he found her on the couch waiting up for him. 
            Paul opened the door and Heidi hid the book under the blanket.  He looked at her, confused, and then he smiled.  “Hey baby.  What are you doing up?”
            “Nothing,” was all she managed.  She noticed that the TV was off, the apartment was dark, and there was no type of reading material in sight.  She must have looked creepy.
            “Nothing?” he stumbled towards her, a little tipsy.  He sat down next to her, unloading wads of cash onto the coffee table.  “What do you mean, nothing?  What were you doing?”
            It was late.  She was suddenly tired and irritated that she was in this position.  “Just nothing Paul,” she snapped.  “Leave me alone.”
            His big, flush face retained the smile, and now the sweet scent of liquor wafted from his mouth.  “You’ve been acting really weird lately,” he said.  “Ever since I proposed to you.”
            Heidi bunched up the blanket to conceal the book and waddled to the bedroom.  She was aware, and ashamed of her behavior, but couldn’t help it.  Paul followed her into the room.
            “If you don’t want to get married,” he said, “we don’t have to.  We’ll just go back to how it was before.”
            She climbed into bed, still holding the balled-up blanket.
            “How it was before,” she repeated absently.
            The hard spine of the novel had found its way between her legs.  She shifted her butt to escape it, but it only pressed into her, prickling her thighs with goosebumps. 
            Then Paul said, “What are you hiding?”
She shook her head.
            “Under the blanket.  I’m not an idiot.”
            The book rubbed at her clitoris.  She bit her lip, squinted her eyes. 
            Paul stood still watching her for a moment, then raised his eyebrows.   “You’re losing it,”  he said, and left the room. 
Heidi slithered under the covers and squeezed her eyes shut.  The violent images from the novel were waiting for her.  One scene in particular described Patrick skinning a woman alive.  Heidi felt that about herself, that someone was yanking her skin off her flesh in one, long peel, revealing the purple meat underneath. 

            Paul had slept on the couch that night, which he often did; this time, though, he was sending her a message.  So as not to wake him, she snuck out the bedroom and through the kitchen glowing with new sun.  She went into the bathroom and sat on the toilet.  Her head buzzed, hung over from the late night and her gruesome dreams.
            She turned on the shower and studied herself in the mirror.  There, on the split of her nose, a cold sore was blossoming.  It was in its pre-pus stage, bubbling the skin.  Of course she would get one—it was her punishment for her behavior.  She always understood her cold sores to be what kept her vanity in check.  This morning, however, she surprised herself.  She pulled the tip of her nose up oink-style and studied the viral skin—the pinks and reds, the tumor-like texture that deformed her.  Where before she would want to hide under a rock for the week, today she couldn’t wait for the ooze, the gold-flaked crust of dried pus.  Her own distinct, localized horror show. 
            Instead of going to work, she drove to the mall.  She weaved in and out of the elderly mall-walkers and teenagers, and stopped at a mannequin in the window of one of those boutiques that sells slutty, urban-youth apparel.  The mannequin sported a fabulous black dress with a low v-neck top and a dangerously short skirt.  She wore knee-high black fuck-me boots, and to top it off, a raven black, femme fatale wig.  She’d walked by this display countless times in the past few weeks, always intrigued, not sure why.
            “Patricia,” Heidi said, fogging the glass.
            She charged into the store and ordered the sixteen year-old texting on her phone to retrieve the dress and boots.  The girl was exasperated and moved too slowly, so Heidi stepped into the showcase window and stripped the mannequin.  She shimmied out of her clothes, putting on a show for the group of high-school guys who stopped to gawk.  She performed a catwalk twirl before pulling on the black dress; she stepped into the boots, zipped them up her calf with slow seduction; and after positioning the wig on her head, she cocked her hip and blew a kiss at the guys—who hooted and took pictures of her on their phones—and then she turned and marched out of the window.
            “Hey, you can’t do that,” the teenager called.
            “It’s already done.”
            As she strutted through the mall toward the exit, Heidi felt that the blood pumping through her had electrified, sending continuous spasms up and down her legs.  She got into her car, deciding right at that moment that she—or rather, Patricia—was going to pay Paul a visit at the bar. 
As she drove, she thought of the times—at least twice a year—when she would get so fed up with Paul’s messiness and overall lack of drive that she’d blow up at him and demand that he made an attempt to change.  For a solid week he’d clean up his hairs from the bathroom sink, put his dishes away, and make the bed.  Once he even typed up a resume, but the only jobs it listed were a Staples and the same bar he’d been tending ever since they met, which was at the bank.  At that time, she was a lowly teller, and every couple weeks he’d deposit startling wads of cash.  There was plenty of time to chat as she counted the filthy bills—organizing them into sequential piles—that amounted to six-to-eight hundred dollars.  She would think about his mysterious profession at night in bed: a drug dealer, a ruthless bookie, a pool-playing hustler.  In each scenario, she would be his fabulous accountant.  This was his allure, and so she had allowed him to take her out to dinner where she couldn’t wait to ask what he did for a living.  Her disappointment was profound when he told her he tended bar.  But as the meal progressed, she had found herself charmed by his humor and affability.  Even if he wasn’t New Jersey’s leading supplier of marijuana, there was still something enigmatic about Paul that kept her interested.  Perhaps, she now thought, it was his inability to change—that he remained the same old Paul despite his context.  Or maybe the fact was that nobody was capable of change, and therefore, Paul was just like everybody else.
            Heidi squealed into the parking lot of the bar.  She looked at herself in the rearview and adjusted the black wig.  Her cold sore was oozing, an orange, candy-like bubble.  As Heidi stepped out of the car, she wondered whether she was evidence that people change.  She charged towards the entrance with supermodel confidence—wagging her ass and swinging her arms, heals clapping the asphalt like nail-gun fire.  This was not change, she thought.  This was finding herself.
Heidi flung open the door and swaggered inside.  She wanted to see if Paul was into the dangerous types, because he might have to marry one.

Kevin Catalano is the author of a forthcoming book of short fiction, The Word Made Flesh (firthFORTH Books, August 2012). His fiction has appeared, or is forthcoming, in PANK, Pear Noir!, Metazen, Emprise Review, Atticus Review, Fiddleblack, and others. He lives in New Jersey with his wife and daughter.

August 24, 2012


Tessa McSorley is artist and writer from Gainesville, FL who hoards sketchbooks. She has a screen printing studio in her garage, and her dog likes to sit under the table as she prints. She recommends Bisquick's Extra-Easy Pizza Recipe.  You can view more of her work at or

August 22, 2012


Look into eyes to examine skin surfaces, layers of epidermis arrayed like halls of mirrors.  As a child, their distortions produced delight marbled with queasiness.  Each one a different iteration – impossibly short and fat, impossibly lanky, collages of light chopped and screwed -- versions of hide that never felt like home anyway.

Now cameras flash, flatten possibilities to the power of zero, allow a single signature imperfection amongst a sea of bland pores, a way to prove you are really human and not airbrush, not photoshop, not some CGI tech’s pixelated wet dream. 

Food intake is monitored with sad exhalations and stimulant stares.  Dead eyes reflect sparkling seas from charter planes.  Brittleness is not nurtured, is disallowed, excepted from impact by constant motion. 

There are other possibilities that never make it from mind to lips, never cohere beyond vague state fair fun house recollections.  A series of choices one after another, dominoes clicking into place, collapsing with a single breath of lack. 

Eyes linger on tabloid paper, paired envy in the millions.  How could that excess of feeling not produce some physical manifestation?  How can such coarse beauty remain fresh, forever renewed by a failure to acknowledge any alternative?

There is no loss or gain in this world, just reflection upon reflection in fragile glass.  Prismatic crystal, kaleidoscope thighs, nonsense words escaping through fevered lips in a dreamless sleep.  Misheard profundities, misunderstood proclamations, obsessed with capture.  Books always at hand but never read, mental images cultivated and focus-grouped same as physical. 

Wake in a new bed each day, to a new life, a different angle of calibrated light piped through spotless windows.  “Home” stretches and narrows – the absence of the singular privileges multiple interpretations.  There is really no difference in the practicalities of Tuscon and Spain, handlers smooth difficulties to a frictionless sheen.  Look out the window, examine the world, shiny sanded-down to reflect only self, empty strip mall storefronts, bankrupt conception.

Neal Kitterlin lives in Matteson, Illinois with his wife and daughter.  He has work published in PANK, Housefire, and elsewhere.  To the best of his knowledge, he has never been in a room with a supermodel.  Find him at or on twitter @NealKitterlin.

August 20, 2012


Thank You For Thinking Of Me

A short story
by Nikki Magennis

A girl walks in. She goes straight to the little stage, climbs up. Against the red curtains she's as pale as a larva.

'What's your name, love?'

'Hi. I'm Gemma. I'm sixteen.'

It's a nice, light, icing sugar voice. Her eyes are sky blue, as round as globes. I look at her chest, her lines, as she hovers.

I run down the tick list on my clipboard. Build. Hair. Skin.

'Tell me about yourself, Gemma.'

She talks about hanging out with her friends.

'I like to find funny things in second hand shops and make them into something new.'

She is picking at her own hands.

I used to draw. I have this sketch, in blue biro. Me and Elle and Trudy - Superstars. Cheeks like dents. Painted mouths, see-through clothes. We were perfect dolls. Really, we had no breasts or periods. Our cunts were dry. Trudy carried Vaseline in her purse. Once I borrowed it - put it on my lips and got a faint smell of her other, hairy, animal mouth. The scent lingered all day. 

We shared hotel rooms and a king size bed. We didn't touch much - only grazed elbows. Sometimes we placed the soles of our feet against each other and played bicycles, lying on our backs on the floor. Unless we got drunk after a show. Then we'd cry, and hold each other's porcelain shoulders, chins digging in.

The shows were heaven. Backstage was a place where gods moved around. The sight of it took your breath away, made your heart race. I wanted to scratch myself with joy, tattoo it under my skin.

A King walked among us. A big furred bear with a mutilated stomach and hair on his knuckles. Crowds parted.

'Coffee tastes like piss,' he said.

He gripped Elle's waist. I looked at her fat smile, her insect eyes and felt ill. My skin was raw, the lights were burning and every flash pointed at me hurt like a smirk.

The king's lips drew close to her ear and there was a blink. Elle shook. Then she was gone. As if she'd been no more than a slight afterimage, something caught in your eye.

The papers reported it. Her new face repeated on TV screens, soft and smiling. She carried a small purse with a gold clasp.

Trudy and I tried getting drunk but the tears made us bloodshot and puffy. I kept bursting out laughing. 

Laughed without covering my mouth, with food spilling down my chin, clear snot coming out my nose. I wept and clutched at myself, at Trudy, leaned in to the hollow of her ribcage, tried to curl in the nook of her neck.

I lolled around in cafes and spoke to journalists, readily, loose-tongued, drunk and in hysterics.

It all unravelled quicker than you could imagine.

Dressers ignored us, tugged our limbs out of the clothes. No one wanted us to walk. Trudy booked into a clinic.

I went home. I thickened.

Last year I got hired to measure the girls. They stumble into my shoebox office, a dusty room with magazine sheets sellotaped to the walls. They're entranced by the camera, its tripod spread wide, its open glass eye. They're looking for a tiny window just like this one. If they're thin enough, whittled to perfect, they could fit through that aperture. Disappear into colour.

'You were so beautiful', Gemma says, suddenly, and I remembered the sad streets of Paris, my red blistered raw heeled feet and the sting of cocaine and the sweetness of vomit, 'supermodel perfume', Elle called it.
Only now I realise where else I smell that - every time a new girl hands over her fifty pounds, her signed release form, and I clip her details into a folder, toss her photo onto the desk with the others, slip the money into my purse. All along, that warm, comfortable, dirty scent: it was just the smell of used notes.

Nikki Magennis writes when she can. She edits FeatherLit - a zine of the literary erotic - and thinks too much about birds. Find her at

August 18, 2012


How I Stay in Shape by Marilyn Monroe

--from the September 1952 issue of Pageant magazine

Now I spend at least ten minutes each morning
working out with small weights. I have never cared especially
for outdoor sports and have no desire to excel
at tennis, swimming, or golf. I'll leave those things 

to the men. Despite its great vogue in California
I'm personally opposed to a deep tan. 
By nature I suppose I have a languorous disposition.
I move my weights in circles until I'm tired. 

Now I have to worry about eating too much.
Before I take my morning shower
I start warming a cup of milk on the hot plate
I keep in my hotel room. When it's hot, I break

two raw eggs into the milk, whip them up with a fork,
and drink them while I'm dressing. I supplement this
with a multi-vitamin pill, and I doubt
any doctor could recommend a more nourishing breakfast.

Every night I stop at the market near my hotel
and pick up a steak, lamb chops, or some liver
which I broil in the electric oven in my room. 
I usually eat four or five raw carrots with my meat

and that is all. Frankly I've never considered 
my own figure so exceptional.

Amanda Laughtland is an English teacher and the editor/publisher of Teeny Tiny Press ( Her most recent collection of poems, Vital to Victory, is available for free from NAP (

August 16, 2012


The Diet
by A.K. Mayhew

She tried. She used to try so hard to throw up. She couldn’t help it. This is the last time, she’d tell herself. My diet starts after this. After this box of chocolates. After this package of frozen waffles. After this giant bag of M&Ms. And she couldn’t help but eat it all, compulsively, stuffing her mouth piece after piece of chocolate, disgusted with herself but telling herself after that she would start her diet.

Her diet went like this:

·                                - No eating except when necessary.

That meant, if there was a family meal, she could eat. Because her parents could not find out. Breakfast could be one yogurt, since her parents usually noticed whether she ate breakfast or not. She knew it was wrong not to eat, but it was the only way she could ever be—or even feel—skinny. Once she tried to explain this to her boyfriend. Today is a good day, she said, as they walked through town. Why, he said. She felt hungry. She hadn’t eaten all day, for once. And when she felt hungry, when her stomach went concave from lack of food, she felt skinny.

(Because usually, the diet never worked. She could never make it more than one day on her diet.)

She was good at skipping lunch. During lunchtime at her private school, she would take her food out of her brown paper bag, the food her dad had lovingly packed that morning, and she would push it around on the table until the bell rang. A friend only said something once, an off-hand comment to the effect of, “Like you never eat your lunch anyway.”

But she could never make herself throw up. It physically couldn’t happen. And she was so desperate to throw up, because she could never stick to her diet, and not only did she not stick to her diet, but sometimes she overate, compulsively ate until she felt sick. But she could not make herself throw up.

The memory she will never share, though, is the time she tried to duct-tape herself skinny. She only looked skinny if she sucked her stomach in ALL the way. That was skinny. One day she went into the basement and took her dad’s gray shiny sticky duct tape and took it up to the bathroom she and her sister shared. She sucked her stomach in all the way. All the way, until she could barely breathe. She wrapped the duct tape around her stomach, sticky-side out—she wasn’t stupid, you know. She then wrapped another layer around, sticky-side in. She then let her breath and her muscles go, thinking that the duct tape would hold everything in and she would look skinny.

When she did that, though, the bits of her body that were not covered by tape bulged out, like love handles. Even a shirt couldn’t cover up the love handles. So she was back to square one. Fat.

A.K. Mayhew is a Twin Cities native working on her undergraduate degree in the suburbs of Los Angeles. Her writing has appeared in The Safety Pin Review, MicroHorror, and The Specter Collective. You can find her on twitter @akmayhew or at her blog, http://readingthroughcollege.

August 14, 2012


Thin and Then
by Casey Hannan

I was in a church choir once, but I just whispered. There were other boys who could sing. I only sang in the car with my mother. She lied and told me my voice had a creepy beauty. She said it was like if spiders could sing. She circled one of her hands around my wrist and told me I would be a spider if I had to be anything else. I told her she would be a sewing needle and thread.

My mother said, "Thank you. I'd be useful in so many ways."

My mother's a supermodel. She has a new family who doesn't know she's a supermodel. Her husband is a librarian and her children know how to make their own clothes. My mother says it's important her new children have a skill. She says they don't have good faces yet. I say they look like models. My mother says there's a difference between models and supermodels. I ask about that difference and my mother won't tell me.

I've lost a lot of weight. My mother hasn't said anything about it. Being skinny is the bare minimum. I've always had skinny wrists. I have nightmares my wrists are full of snakes. That's why I tried to cut them out once. My mother was there. She put her hands over my eyes, and I fell asleep.

My mother's in town for a fashion show. We only drink. I've never seen my mother eat anything but breakfast. That was a long time ago. We were eating scrambled eggs and she said, "Just think about yellow food and how weird it is." Now I think about it every time. It's the weirdest with lemons. They look how they taste. I can squeeze lemons into my water all day and not get tired. My scars stand up when I squeeze. I've been doing exercises so I'm not such a spider anymore.

My mother has a purse full of airplane vodka shots. We sit on the edge of a fountain and drink. My mother tells me how her husband collects pictures of naked women. One folder on his computer is all supermodels. My mother is in there twice, but her face is painted.

"He knows my tits, though. I bet he knows. I don't have this many old friends getting married. That's what I have to say to travel."

"All my friends are getting married. They're turning into birds and making nests."

"Don't act like you want kids. You don't."

When my mother married her new husband, she made a nest of pillows on my old bed and put scented candles in it. She never lit the candles because scented candles are expensive. She took the lids off to let them breathe. The scents were grass and laundry. My mother had me again for a little while.

I ask my mother about tickets for her fashion show.

"It doesn't have to be front row."

"Listen, sweetie, I'm not really in town for a show this time."

My mother lifts her shirt and shows me a purple swell on her belly.

"I rolled over a brown recluse in my sleep. I can't be in a bikini yet. Maybe never again. It looks worse than it is. Just the end of my career."

My mother is crying. She drinks an airplane shot. It looks like she's sucking poison.

I say, "You can do makeup over it."

My mother takes my wrists and runs her thumbs over the web of my scars.

"You don't," she says.

There are some pigeons on the fountain with us. They're putting their beaks in the empty vodka bottles and knocking them in the water. A cop on a horse comes by and tells us to pick up our trash. My mother walks behind the cop and pulls the horse's tail. The horse kicks my mother in the stomach. The cop smacks the horse, and the horse kicks again and again. My mother tries to cave in a little more each time. She's a needle and her hair is snipped thread. The horse kicks my mother invisible.

BIO:  Casey Hannan lives in Kansas City. He's seen a man milk a venomous snake. The man had no thumbs. Casey is lazy at

August 11, 2012


When Kate Moss Thinks About Her Eyes and Bones
by Chad Redden

“Ballerina, I need to answer the phone soon. It’s an interview about my eyes. A silly thing.” Kate Moss said to man on her kitchen floor beneath her, stretching. It was Michael Clark, the dancer. Kate Moss liked to hang out with dancers. He stretched himself on Kate Moss’s kitchen floor as she sat on the counter watching him. Michael Clark liked to stretch when he hung out with models. When she called him a ballerina, he didn’t mind and continued to stretch along the length of her kitchen floor.

He asked, “What about your eyes?”

“I guess I share a syndrome with Marilyn Monroe and Brigitte Bardot. Maybe not syndrome, maybe condition. Strabismus. Some say JFK had it too. A wandering eye. Do you notice it?” Kate took a drink of water.

Michael didn’t look up when he answered, “I have seen your eyes, but never noticed them wander off anywhere.”

“Ballerina, you are a charm.” Kate replied to Michael, then to her kitchen window, “Why don’t they do a report on this ballerina on my floor? He just performed on sand. Nothing but sand for a stage. I couldn’t imagine it. Then he did it. A pile of sand. Two elephants tall!" She looked back to him, "You are who they should ask about. Something more interesting than my eyes.”

Michael sat up and moved into the cobbler’s pose, “People want to hear about you.”

“People want to hear about the most boring things. People examine the oldest things too. All of because a photo of me with Mark is twenty-years old.”

“Which photo?” He pressed the soles of his feet together.

“The Calvin Klien ad. The one by Herb.”

“A good photo.”

“Just one. There are millions more.” She took another drink of water.

Michael stood up and then asked. “Can I stand on your counter?”

“Yes, ballerina! Please do.” She hopped down for Michael to take her place.

He stood on top of the counter in a crescent moon shape above, he then said. “When I think about your eyes, and your condition, I think it gives you a unique field of vision like you can be in one place and see another. This happens for grasshoppers.”

Kate straightened her spine and considered what he said, then replied, “I guess I do jump out of myself like a grasshopper. I am not sure if I am thinking or seeing now that you bring it up. I have always been this way. Obviously.”

He shifted from crescent moon to eagle, “What do you think about when you are photographed?”

Kate took another drink of water and then, “I’ve always thought about my bones. How I want to make them glow. Bones though, do not glow. In fact bones when they are inside of us are quite filthy in their own way. Making blood. Bleeding through. Why when you see bones first stripped of their flesh, they bleed.

“But there are places, a few places set aside for the sky, maybe still open in India. Towers of Silence. The Dakhma. Corpses are placed on the towers. Children in the center. Woman around them, since women should be closest to children, then the men. Birds eat the flesh. Leave the bones. But they are not clean. The bones bleed and look something like a rust or grime. So many microbes on them eating away too. Can you imagine?

“It takes months of wind and sun to polish the bones. This must happen in a dry place. Otherwise the bones turn black. Did you know that in some areas of Greece families unearth their dead a year afterward to collect the bones? If the bones are black, they believe the person went to hell. That is a sad thought to think about your husband or child. Loved ones think they were a sinner when it was something probably in the ground that turned them black.”

“That is sad,” Michael said, his eyes closed in half-bound lotus.

“But like it takes months of practice for the wind and sun to get the bones just right, it takes hundreds of photos before a photographer sees what he wants from a shoot. Hundreds. I think of each flash as a day. I see the photographer in one eye but in the other I see beyond him. I think of each flash as a day. Isn’t that cute? I do this. Then I think about my bones. I think about my bones glowing whiter and whiter with each flash. Each one is a day and I feel the wind smoothing my bones with sand in each flash.  And when my bones glow in my mind, then they glow in my photos. I can see these towers of silence. I go there when I pose. I do.

“I know Marilyn Monroe and Brigitte Bardot both had eyes like mine. Yes. I don’t know what they thought about when they modeled. I’m not sure they knew about towers of silence. In Tibet, they call it sky burial, but once the birds peel the flesh from the bones, the monks crush the bones into a meal and mix it with flowers to feed smaller birds. I’m not sure they saw that. I don’t. But something, I know they saw something because when I look at them. Sometimes I see their bones glowing too. So, they have seen something like that. Something like I have seen.”

Michael moved into half-moon and then said, “I agree, when I think of them, I think of them looking at something like what you have seen. Maybe they saw mountains, the snow caps, or rock formations ground by wind. There are many things to see when thinking about bones.”

Kate finished her glass of water, “What do you think about when you dance?”

“I don’t think when I dance.”

Kate laughed and then the phone rang. When she answered it, Kate told the interviewer, “Ask me about the ballerina in my kitchen right now.”

Bio: Chad Redden wrote a small book about Thursday titled Thursday (Plain Wrap).