Plain China

October 2017

Appalachia Heartache

Allison Cooke · Presbyterian College

For a time I believed in the longevity of a dew-swept skyscape, how the sun-drop suspended itself over hazy blue hills

A Constellation Is a Group of Stars That Form a Pattern

Rachel Finn-Lohmann · Oberlin College

It was the summer between jump ropes and lip gloss and Dad was a rarity and a giant, often asleep during the day or loud in the night, often not around without much explanation at all, and Lex was busy taking care of the baby that may or may not have been growing inside of her, or else she was “taking care of it,” and she had her secrets and her boyfriends and her cigarettes, and her secret boyfriends who smoked cigarettes, and I had yet to learn the correlation between dangerous boys and babies that never come, but Lex was occupied, so you and I were alone most of the time and most of the time that was okay with me, because you knew how to cook eggs in the morning and could name all of the constellations at night, and we weren’t so very alone with all those stars up there keeping us company, but on the cloudy nights I could feel the emptiness of the world in the tips of my fingers even when I held your hand.

A Family

Connor Fieweger · University of Chicago

Somewhere in the suburban-rural divide of New York, a family of four moved into a small house offset from the rest of town next to a set of train tracks. When a freight train came by in the first night, the entire house rattled

Satin

Lenna Mendoza · Rice University

Today, on an especially beautiful Saturday morning, you run through a list of errands. First grocery shopping, then laundromat, license renewal, and a gift for your sister’s birthday. It has been a long week, but it does not matter as you tend to live with a quiet acceptance and general focus on the task at hand. After completing the penultimate chore on your list, you enter the antique shop, which takes up more than half of the strip mall’s rental space. At the front, near the checkout is a cheap tea room complete with wood paneling and plastic chairs. There, older women chat, delicately lift teacups to their lips.

The Elder Law Attorney

Melissa Cook · University of Florida

It was the nature of her business: taking what little was left of her clients

Appalachia Heartache

Allison Cooke · Presbyterian College

For a time I believed in the longevity of a dew-swept skyscape, how the sun-drop suspended itself over hazy blue hills

A Constellation Is a Group of Stars That Form a Pattern

Rachel Finn-Lohmann · Oberlin College

It was the summer between jump ropes and lip gloss and Dad was a rarity and a giant, often asleep during the day or loud in the night, often not around without much explanation at all, and Lex was busy taking care of the baby that may or may not have been growing inside of her, or else she was “taking care of it,” and she had her secrets and her boyfriends and her cigarettes, and her secret boyfriends who smoked cigarettes, and I had yet to learn the correlation between dangerous boys and babies that never come, but Lex was occupied, so you and I were alone most of the time and most of the time that was okay with me, because you knew how to cook eggs in the morning and could name all of the constellations at night, and we weren’t so very alone with all those stars up there keeping us company, but on the cloudy nights I could feel the emptiness of the world in the tips of my fingers even when I held your hand.

A Family

Connor Fieweger · University of Chicago

Somewhere in the suburban-rural divide of New York, a family of four moved into a small house offset from the rest of town next to a set of train tracks. When a freight train came by in the first night, the entire house rattled

Satin

Lenna Mendoza · Rice University

Today, on an especially beautiful Saturday morning, you run through a list of errands. First grocery shopping, then laundromat, license renewal, and a gift for your sister’s birthday. It has been a long week, but it does not matter as you tend to live with a quiet acceptance and general focus on the task at hand. After completing the penultimate chore on your list, you enter the antique shop, which takes up more than half of the strip mall’s rental space. At the front, near the checkout is a cheap tea room complete with wood paneling and plastic chairs. There, older women chat, delicately lift teacups to their lips.

The Elder Law Attorney

Melissa Cook · University of Florida

It was the nature of her business: taking what little was left of her clients