Plain China

October 2013

Playing House

Lauren Parker · University of Houston

The screaming makes her break a dish a white ceramic plate with black scuffmarks

Monday, Between Four and Five PM

Margaret Sweeney · Bennington College

We are through the door—the side door, the door to the mudroom where the family’s shoes rest in crowded rows—and Claudia doesn’t bother to greet us as we pass the kitchen table, where she sits in a sea of ungraded papers. She knows that by the time she lifts her head from her work we will already be at the bottom of the stairs, climbing the stairs to your room, our shoes and coats lying limp and dripping where we kicked them off on the linoleum floor. The door to the mudroom is still cracked open, swaying on its hinges and letting the cold in, so she will stand to close it, like a good mother.

If She Remembers

Kelly Bates · Columbia College Chicago

She took too much chili cheese dip. And my Girl Scout friend Katie Johnson, with a too thick, bland brown bob, told me to tell her that she was taking too much.

World Peace Hotel

Georgina Parfitt · Harvard University

I thought I would have something on her, this nun. I thought that being out in the world, spending my time not with my eyes closed, wearing pants, watching television, would give me something that she didn’t have. But now she’s coming slowly down the hall and I’m smiling already, far too soon, giving myself away. And now breathe out all negative thoughts in the aspect of thick black smoke, out into the sky, where they will disappear, never to return again.

Trapping

Kim Stoll · Susquehanna University · Honorable Mention in Nonfiction

When I was a child, my dad always walked with a cane. He had a few of them, but the one I can picture most distinctly had a bronze dog head on top. The decorative head gave it some heft, making it the cane of choice when he went to check traps with my brother. I’m not sure when I asked how they killed the foxes they found in their traps, but at some point my dad must have explained, in his quick, harsh voice. He beat the foxes to death with his cane. Shooting them would have ruined the fur.

Playing House

Lauren Parker · University of Houston

The screaming makes her break a dish a white ceramic plate with black scuffmarks

Monday, Between Four and Five PM

Margaret Sweeney · Bennington College

We are through the door—the side door, the door to the mudroom where the family’s shoes rest in crowded rows—and Claudia doesn’t bother to greet us as we pass the kitchen table, where she sits in a sea of ungraded papers. She knows that by the time she lifts her head from her work we will already be at the bottom of the stairs, climbing the stairs to your room, our shoes and coats lying limp and dripping where we kicked them off on the linoleum floor. The door to the mudroom is still cracked open, swaying on its hinges and letting the cold in, so she will stand to close it, like a good mother.

If She Remembers

Kelly Bates · Columbia College Chicago

She took too much chili cheese dip. And my Girl Scout friend Katie Johnson, with a too thick, bland brown bob, told me to tell her that she was taking too much.

World Peace Hotel

Georgina Parfitt · Harvard University

I thought I would have something on her, this nun. I thought that being out in the world, spending my time not with my eyes closed, wearing pants, watching television, would give me something that she didn’t have. But now she’s coming slowly down the hall and I’m smiling already, far too soon, giving myself away. And now breathe out all negative thoughts in the aspect of thick black smoke, out into the sky, where they will disappear, never to return again.

Trapping

Kim Stoll · Susquehanna University · Honorable Mention in Nonfiction

When I was a child, my dad always walked with a cane. He had a few of them, but the one I can picture most distinctly had a bronze dog head on top. The decorative head gave it some heft, making it the cane of choice when he went to check traps with my brother. I’m not sure when I asked how they killed the foxes they found in their traps, but at some point my dad must have explained, in his quick, harsh voice. He beat the foxes to death with his cane. Shooting them would have ruined the fur.