Submission Guidelines

Please click the Submit link in the frame to your left to submit to S/tick after fully reading these guidelines!

S/tick publishes 2-4 issues per year and accepts rolling submissions. Due to a high volume of submissions we are now accepting blog-only material as well as contributions to the issues so that we can get as many feminist voices out there as possible! Please read all guidelines before pasting a submission into the submissions manager below to be considered for both the blog and the online issues. A small portion of submissions chosen for an upcoming issue will be posted to the blog as a “teaser” (e.g. a paragraph, stanza, or single piece of artwork).

Welcome to S/tick! We want submissions of your feminist art and creative writing. Tell us your stories and challenge the status quo. Try odd or forgotten writing forms, like haibuns, on us. Or, if none of these red dresses fits you, simply ensure you redress something of interest to women!

We encourage you to check out our issues by clicking the links to your left to get a sense of what we’re looking for and what your work might look like in our journal. Our hope is to provide a community for feminist writers and artists, so please offer a little of your time to those who have contributed!

The following submissions criteria must be met to be considered:

1. Note: If this criterion is not met, the submission may not be responded to. Unless the issue theme indicates otherwise, submissions must be somehow related to women. Female protagonist or speaker or subject matter that pertains to women’s issues are examples. A feminist point of view is probably the best example, but is not necessary. A submitter does not have to identify as feminist. Women and Canadian artists may be given preference, though all are invited to submit.

2. Do not include a bio. We will request an artist’s statement that asks how feminism or gender influences your work if we accept your submission for an upcoming issue.

3. Do not send pieces or excerpts longer than 2000 words. A grace count of approximately 500 words will be considered where the piece is strongly relevant to women or feminism, but otherwise a piece that exceeds the count may be deleted unread.

If you have a piece much longer than this that you would like to submit, please send an excerpt, letting us know that it is an excerpt and what the total word count is, and we will request more if we are interested. Alternately, we may accept the excerpt alone.

We will consider the following: one piece of prose up to 2000 words; up to three poems less than 2000 words together; up to ten pieces of artwork.

4. Issues pertaining to publication:

a) We cannot accept previously published work, though we may consider art or writing that appears on your personal website, provided you link to S/tick as an alternate place of publication.

b) For writing or art that is published again later, we ask only that you please identify it as previously published in S/tick so that you can help give a wider audience to all our talented contributors, yourself included!

c) Simultaneous submissions are acceptable, but please inform us via e-mail at as soon as a submission is accepted elsewhere. Multiple submissions (another submission after the first has been responded to) will not be considered.

d) You own the copyright to all your own work, but give us first publication rights.

e) We cannot at this time pay you in any way for your work. The pdf issues and blog are free to the public, and you are free to download the issues. We hope you will share our beautiful issues widely!

f) We will consider work from those artists who have previously been accepted, but please wait six months before submitting again. We will be happy to consider those previously published at any time for an interview for our …And Stones feature if you e-mail with information about your fabulous woman-centered activities!

5. a) In the submissions manager below, please choose “Text” for a poem or story and “Photo” for any artwork.

b) Please include your name, location, and e-mail address at the top of the text box. By submitting to S/tick you consent to being added to our mailing list, from which you will receive only a handful of e-mails each year regarding issue launches and the occasional themed call for submissions.

c) Please read and accept the terms of submission.

d) Select any relevant tags from the list, and feel free to suggest any further tags relevant to your submission for consideration by the editor.

Thank you for your interest and support! We look forward to working with you!

—Sarah-Jean Krahn, Managing Editor

with Ada Sharpe, Contributing Editor

Merrill Edlund

S/tick is very pleased to present another Canadian writer, Merrill Edlund, with the following delight!


It usually happens on a day when you have a spring in your step and you feel a like the sun is shining just for you and you’ve decided to take up yoga and you wander into a store to buy the latest tight pants and the girl says to you oh yes, those are the style that my mom wears. You’re sure she is just trying to be pleasant, to strike up a conversation maybe make a sale. But it hits you like a stone pinging off your windshield and yes indeed she has put you in the same age category as her mother. She is not one of the younger attendants in the store, she appears to be the store manager and she’s likely younger than your oldest daughter. Wait for it, she can’t stop herself; I hope I look as good as you when I’m your age. (You want to say you don’t look as good as me now). You are a middle aged woman and every style in the store makes it even more prominent. That pulpy protuberance that reminds you that you gave birth to three children, endured twenty five years of not sleeping through the night and you are too tired for exercise of any kind.  Even though you want the glow of downward dog, and the yoga instructor is the cutest young guy you have seen half naked in forty years, you just don’t know if your back can handle all that twisting and turning. And you ponder skipping yoga and going to a friends for a glass of wine instead. You need it more than falling on your head while attempting a hand stand against a wall. Somehow you have made it. Burned your bra, survived all of the fads and still you spend over one hundred dollars on tight pants and they come with a bag that chants your outlook on life is a reflection of how much you like yourself and breathe deeply and do one thing a day that scares you like reading the words will make you a better person. You have just purchased happiness and a chance to get rid of the ripples of cellulite that hang in layered folds under your arms and besides your ass looked pretty damn good in the three way mirror and low lights. Tight pants that clinch caesarean closures and bind the breach of a bewildered bulky uterus that was wrenched out like a woolly sweater (it was just hanging around too full of itself). Just when you are at the point in life where you have nothing to lose, you’ve stopped living in a laundry commercial and now wonder when the pills you took to buy her freedom will stop causing concaves the size of moon craters in your body. And you wonder if she will ever thank you.

Copyright Notice: All work appearing on this blog is copyrighted to its stated author and has been posted with permission. Please post a link to a post you like rather than reblogging in order to avoid copyright infringement.

Kasie Whitener, PhD

S/tick is pleased to present Kasie Whitener, PhD, with a brand new story! And you can visit Kasie’s blog for more!

Casket Fresh

          Well, I know she’s tacky, honey, but she’s family. You don’t have to remind me about how hard she makes it on ya’ll. I know about that time she took you and your sister to the R-rated movie and made out with her boyfriend and told you not to tell me. I thought she’d be a great babysitter for you because, you know, I used to babysit her and so I know I showed her how to do it. But I guess my good lessons never did rub off on her because she couldn’t be trusted a lick to keep you. Or your sister. I thought maybe your sister’s thing with the boys came from her followin’ your cousin around while she was so young. But then there’s so many things that cause the kind of problems your sister has with the boys. You never did though, did you? You never had those problems and now you’ve got Beau and he’s just as perfect as can be. I know you’re so in love with him it’s like you can’t stand it. I know. I remember bein that in love with your daddy. And then with your sister’s daddy. And then. Well it doesn’t matter now. Bein in love is something special every time it happens. Course this is the last time for you, isn’t it, sugar? Until you have a baby girl anyway. I never have been in love like I was with you when you were born. And with myself for havin born ya. Course your daddy didn’t stay in love with me even though I had done that work to born ya. But that’s okay. He’s a good man anyhow. I’m glad he’ll be there for you. Thank you, honey, for invitin your sister’s daddy too. I know you don’t know him and Darla that well but they mean a lot to your sister, she’s still so young, and they’ll need to be around a lot more. After. Well that doesn’t matter now either, does it? Oh, don’t cry, honey. It’s gonna be a while, you know. Let me hold that for another minute, okay? They said it would be okay if I just for another minute. I promise. Your sister was here last time and she’ll tell you. Go ahead and ask the nurse if you don’t believe me. Or text your sister. Go ahead. I’ll wait. Not like I’m goin’ anywhere. Oh, hell, honey quit that cryin. This is why your sister comes instead of you. This and so she can skip school. Crazy girl. Beau told you it would be like this. He knew because of his mama havin to do it, remember? She’s got that neat little fake titty now. Did she show it to you? Lord, you’re a mess. Get it together please. It ain’t the end of the world. It ain’t even the end of the dose. Now, come on and read me the rest of the names. It matters, you know, even if I’m not there. Especially if I’m not there. It matters to include family. I know you’d like to leave some off and, well, your cousin for example. But remember the summer she came and stayed with us after Darla? Remember she had that polka dot bikini? The rainbow one with the tiny black dots that looked like it had mold spots or something? That was the summer you got your period and did you tell me? No, but you told your cousin. So she’s good for something. She was your confidante. She kept my secrets when she was a little girl and my sister trusted me to watch her and we ate ice cream instead of lunch. She was a wild teenager, I know, and she’s a bit tacky, I know. But her mama’s gone now and she’ll be good for you when. Well after. But let’s don’t talk about that now. You know what my sister used to call girls like her? Okay, yes, you can take it now. I feel better now. My sister, her mama, used to call them casket fresh. Oh, honey, really, don’t cry. It ain’t what you think. It means the front is all presentable but the back is a mess. Get it? Like no one sees that anyhow. Right? Wait. Honey, I’m sorry. No, you’re right. Funeral jokes ain’t funny. I’m sorry. Here, let’s get through the rest of the list. I’m sorry. She’s family. Invite her. She’s family. You’ll be glad she’s there, you’ll see. The day in your life when everyone you know and love is in one place. Don’t leave anyone out if you can help it. You don’t want to miss anyone. There’s a second time, of course, when everyone you know and love will be there, but that time you’ll be dead. Don’t look at me like that. I ain’t forgettin’ about that. Ain’t forgettin that time gonna come for all of us. All of us. Some sooner. But this time is your time and I know you’ll be just beautiful. And Beau will be crazy with love for you. And I’ll think you’re prettier than you’ve ever been. Except maybe right now. While you’re here. For me. Smiling. Or tryin’ to anyway. Thank you, darlin’, for tryin’ to smile. You kinda look casket fresh when ya do that, ya know? Pretending it’s okay. Pretending you’re not ready to burst with the tears behind those pretty blue eyes. It’s okay. We’ll be okay. You’ll see.

Copyright Notice: All work appearing on this blog is copyrighted to its stated author and has been posted with permission. Please post a link to a post you like rather than reblogging in order to avoid copyright infringement.

Nettie Farris

S/tick is pleased to welcome back Nettie Farris with a brand new poem!


               a story by Charles Perrault

She wrote
a violent
erased it.
The blood
could not
rid of.

Copyright Notice: All work appearing on this blog is copyrighted to its stated author and has been posted with permission. Please post a link to a post you like rather than reblogging in order to avoid copyright infringement.

Olfa Drid Derouiche (Olfa Philo)

S/tick is very pleased to present a new poem from Olfa Philo. Please check out her website to enjoy more of her work!

A Poetess’ Wrath

you might be wonderin’ when
I’ll destroy you with my Pen?
don’t need your poor money!
what we need is pure honey!
don’t need your food and
shelter, we’re not your dogs!
what we need is sweet
talk and a daily hug!
don’t need a ring and bed
to make of us your slaves!
need our hearts and minds
to explore what the world gave!
want us for your
washing and at night ‘whoring’?
we’re not here on earth to be
the object of your ‘dirty’ craving!
roaring, thundering, hurting
whenever and wherever you come,
but shrivel, shrink when sun sets
and tiny little you become!
impatient, greedy, hungry as if
against time racing!
so never ever our golden hearts
will you be embracing!
never ever will you gratify
our hidden craze!
never ever will you hug
our love and praise!
never ever will you
‘strip tease’ our mystery!
never ever will you
kiss away our misery!
we can just but pretend
so as not your feelings hurting!
kind, sweet, as we are always
loving and for others caring

killed teens, shuttered ladies,
thousand of hearts fade!
it’s for your impure tainted Lust
that whores are not born but made!
hey, pretentious males!
heaven is not in your increasing heat!
our gracious Almighty God
put ‘Heaven under mothers’ feet’

“I’ll destroy your Curved Pens with my Straight Pen! ”

“Nude photo-stickers!”
“Babes’ collectors”

who on earth think you are blind, deaf and dry?
tender ladies hugged your shore
but never knew how to adore!
thinking, acting with your ‘Pens’
instead of your hearts and minds!

I’m not the sex bomb you adore
I’m the soul bomb you ignore!
I’m the Beauty concept modifier!
I’m the one who‘ll put fire!
I’m the fusion of heart and mind!
I’m the poet of love and grief!
will destroy you with my pen! 
will straighen your curved pens!
make you harness your desire!   
make you think before you fire!
my noble silence you disrespected!
my splendid Heart you displaced!
my pure nature you made wild
then fancy fade and hide?
 so now the wrath of my
Pen you’ll embrace!

no more wrath…
no more hate…
no more loathin’ for you…
from that milky heart of mine
I have just compassion for you
compassion for your male gender
compassion for being cursed

by your own Curved Pens

the Pens for which you betray …

Copyright Notice: All work appearing on this blog is copyrighted to its stated author and has been posted with permission. Please post a link to a post you like rather than reblogging in order to avoid copyright infringement.

Yvonne Jayne

S/tick is happy to present Yvonne Jayne with a brand new poem!

Storms in the Long Night

I am shaped by her thought of me,
I am named in her dreams,
Baptized by her vision of me
And born into her likeness.

I am shattered by her disappointments
I cry for her lost life,
I fall in her vacuum and
I flail in her failures.

I am driven by her dreams,
I am powered by her regrets,
She is capsized by the curse
Of her marriage to a madman.

I am rocked by his rages
Storms in the long night,
His genius beats against his bars
I am shattered by his disappointments.

I am unsteady, rising to the sun,
I am called in visions
To express what is sinking,
Back to the core of me again.

I am unheard in my expression
Struggling to have a voice,
I am told to stop being dramatic
And make obedience my choice.

I am shattered by their disappointments
Drowning in their struggles,
Each is the enemy of the other
Storms in the long night.

Copyright Notice: All work appearing on this blog is copyrighted to its stated author and has been posted with permission. Please post a link to a post you like rather than reblogging in order to avoid copyright infringement.

Erin Verdi

S/tick is very pleased to present Erin Verdi with a brand new non-fiction short story!


The University of Washington Muslim Student Association is located off campus in what appears to be a two-story house shielded from the street by overgrown bushes and moss-covered trees. My friends and I have no idea where we are going, and have the slip through a gap in a chain-link fence to reach the entrance. Three men are smoking outside, all bearded and with their heads respectfully covered. Shoes are piled like a rubber-soled mountain range by the door. The men stare at us, suspicious or intrigued, but say nothing. We have no choice but to stand there awkwardly while we decide what to do.

“Women go upstairs!” someone calls. We look around, unable to see the speaker. “Upstairs!” the voice repeats. My eyes trace up the wooden staircase beside me, where a woman dressed in a full-length skirt and hijab smiles and waves at us. I look down doubtfully at my short dress and leggings, overly aware of my uncovered head. I knew from studying Islam that modesty was important, but unfortunately for me my wardrobe was not particularly accommodating in that regard.

With a shrug my two companions and I follow the woman up the stairs, where she welcomes us into an apartment that has been converted to a mosque. Everyone leaves their shoes in the space originally designed for a pantry and takes a seat on the floor. There are pillows scattered everywhere for those who require them. My friends and I sit at the outskirts of the room, where we strive to be invisible. I press my back to the wall and try to look inoffensive. From my position at the back of the room, I have a clear view of everything.

The first thing I notice is that there is a white curtain separating the men and the women. I could see the men’s shadows through the fabric, but not much else. The speaker that day happened to be (and usually was) male, so all the women in the room had to listen attentively to an unseen lecturer. I don’t understand much of what is being said, as the speaker has a very thick accent and I have a very short attention span. Many of the Muslim girls are on their phones texting or talking to one another. The speaker seems secondary in importance to them. I sense that there is more of a community between the Muslim women in the room than between the Muslim women and men.

There are also several infants in the room, who are given free reign as their mothers engage in salat, the Muslim prayer where the Qu’ran is recited while a series of movements are performed. I do not know the ritual of salat, so I entertain myself by watching two infants introduce themselves to one another. They knock heads and tumble over, completely bewildered at their own lack of motor coordination. One of the older women, who is not performing salat but remains sitting against a wall, grabs the baby nearest to her and holds him in her lap. The mother smiles at her gratefully, a reaction I did not expect. Inside the service the old woman is part of the same family as the young mother; they are united by common ground and find trust and responsibility in their similarity. The women in the room look out for one another.

I lose myself in the steady flow of Arabic, the language somehow fragrant. Suddenly the service is over, and people are retrieving their shoes.

“Did you like the service?” one of the girls next to me asks. Her eyes are eager and bright, framed by the curve of her pink and white hijab.

“I did,” I say, “Is this how the services typically go?” The girl shrugs.

“We have a different speaker every week so the quality of the service depends on that.”

“Do you ever get to…see the speaker?” I ask awkwardly. The girl purses her lips.

“Not often. The speakers are usually male. Women don’t usually…they don’t usually speak.”

“Does that bother you?” I ask. She doesn’t answer.

Copyright Notice: All work appearing on this blog is copyrighted to its stated author and has been posted with permission. Please post a link to a post you like rather than reblogging in order to avoid copyright infringement.

E.M. Youman

S/tick is very pleased to present E. M. Youman with a fabulous new short story!

Dear Craigslist

He grabbed her arm, her feet lifting a few centimeters off the ground. Her briar-like hair sank into the sweat-soaked off-white cotton covered chest. The thudding sounded like an avalanche of rocks. Two top-tier shelves of books crashed into the spot she recently occupied. Tasha turned, beating her fist into the cotton chest.

“I told you, you can’t move the bookshelf while the books are still in it,” she said.

“I’m sorry, I was hoping we could’ve carried it out on its back without having to go through boxing up all your books,” Allen said.

He grabbed her wrist and held them above her head, out of striking distance of his chest.

“It was worth a shot baby.”

He leaned forward and she turned her head, missing the kiss he wanted to plant and meeting the cold beads of sweat on his cheek instead. She shuddered, pushing him away.

Striding toward the stairs Tasha tripped over the orange tape gun, Allen had left lying on the floor next to a box marked movies. She massaged her ankle before picking up the tape gun and slamming it on the coffee table.

Allen’s lips curved into a sympathetic grimace before saying, “Sorry.”

“I’m going upstairs to finish in my room.” She took the stairs two at a time and then turned around. “Please, pack my books up.”

In her bedroom, her mood lightened at the sight of the thick blanket of sunlight streaming in from the bay window spanning two-thirds of one wall. Tasha thought about the new place and the bedroom that contained one pathetic window, shaded by an apple tree that blocked the revitalizing sunshine.

She walked over to the monolith-sized nightstand and ran her hand across the mahogany. It was a garage sale find she came across on Craigslist one late night. The nice old lady who answered the phone told her there was one other person interested, but he was a man and she said the nightstand was meant for a female.

Tasha opened the bottom drawer first and took out her magazines on electronic engineering. Each one alphabetized by subject matter, she leafed through them and saved the ones that had the most wrinkles and threw the rest on the floor, which had now turned into her throw away pile.

The second drawer held her jewelry. She grabbed her tote satchel from the top of the nightstand, placing the boxes in her bag. The tiffany ring box sat on top. She opened the velvet box as if she wasn’t sure it was still there. Her breath caught in her throat as the sun illuminated her prize. The one carat diamond sat on its pronged pedestal flanked by six round distant cousins on each side of the white gold band. She bit her lip and snapped the box closed then zipped her purse.

The last drawer was the hardest of all. The sun revealed the neatly lined array of vibrators, worthy of a display case. She ran her hand against each one remembering her likes and dislikes. The pale pink one: a battery guzzler. The black one’s lawnmower sound reminded her why vibrators did not belong in her purse. Going to her friends’ house to use their bathroom for ten minutes rightly allowed them to haze her for ten more afterwards.

She could still smell the jasmine-scented soap she used to clean them. But there was another smell lingering, making her feel guilty: dust. The musky smell of dust lingered over the jasmine, suffocating her. It robbed her of the chance to enjoy reminiscing about lazy afternoons in which she stayed late in bed with the rabbit or the frisky tease.

Her cyclic use of the vibrators slowed once Allen entered the picture. She felt like a scarlet lover, her cheeks flushed at the thought of her latest betrayal. If the lights had been on she wouldn’t have done it, but they’d entered her bedroom in the early morning when the moon had yet to disappear. She put her hands on top of the nightstand and once their bodies were intertwined she thought nothing of the jilted lovers in her drawer.

His large fingers abused her nipples, his tongue swirled around her own and he probed her g-spot. When she reached the point where she would normally drop the frisky fingers, he probed faster, like a bank robber on the run. At this moment she felt the one thing she never felt with her vibrators. She screamed his name.

On top of that he didn’t take well to the suggestion of an O ring.

“Why?” he asked.

She didn’t think an answer of “why not” would satisfy him so she closed the door to that avenue. He didn’t even know about the drawer and she wasn’t sure how he’d respond once he did. Would he make her choose? Or force her to reveal he was perfect in every way, but his tongue work left her inner lips hungry for more. This was madness, how had she gotten to the point of needing his permission? That smile. She’d left her job and was moving to another state, because his smile made her feel warmth from tip of her toes to the base of her neck.

She was changing a lot for four little words, but not everything needed to unravel. She placed a hand over the row of friends and pounced on the frisky fingers, opened her purse and stuffed the toy inside. Slamming the drawer shut, she grabbed the magazines and walked out of the sunshine splattered room.


Nightstand For Free

On the corner of Brook and Ashby is a mahogany nightstand. For FEMALES ONLY.

Please don’t contact this poster with other services.

Copyright Notice: All work appearing on this blog is copyrighted to its stated author and has been posted with permission. Please post a link to a post you like rather than reblogging in order to avoid copyright infringement.

Anjali B. Desai

S/tick is pleased to present a new poem with an accompanying video from Anjali B. Desai that is definitely worth the watch! Check out more of Anjali’s writing here.

Rape escape: An open letter to yahoo forum guy

A Yahoo! Answers question titled
“Why can’t women
(especially feminists)
accept that men are biologically superior?”

And under “edits,”
“educate yourselves,”
after which, the top answer referred to feminists as a gender

So dear users on both sides of the argument,
dear Chris,
dear Mike Hawk Kurts,
dear Neil with a crown emoji next to it,
dear question mark,
dear Jesus… apparently:

If all girls could educate themselves,
they would
Unfortunately however, those rights are held hostage,
along with over 20 million girls who are used as
sex slaves

I can understand, however, why you’re so scared of educated women

In this nation of frustration they might just seek some compensation
for the strength with which your
“biologically superior gender”
can keep grip

They would learn that keys,
used as an analogy to shame women about their sexuality,
are actually just something that they will need as
literal sharp objects
to clutch between two fingers
while down dark alleys

They would learn that those dark alleys would not hide their shame,
as they’ve been told they should have
for being in the wrong place at the wrong time

Someday the only ‘Shame’ they’ll know is a 2011 British drama film
starring Carey Mulligan,
(whose first Google search result is “Carey Mulligan hot”)

They would learn that their value isn’t based in how they fit the descriptions of men and instead the job descriptions which,
as of 2010 in the Unites States, pay women
81% of what they pay men

And despite the word “woman”
being an extension of the word “man,”
they would learn to love themselves and every extension of their bodies,
including when those extensions are dressed in short skirts or whatever else is supposedly “asking for it”

Asking for it is simple.
Example: could you please pass me a spoon?
Example: Could we fork?
Example: could you please pass me an instance in which my
words say more than my skirt length?

Or maybe education isn’t the solution.

Because we still haven’t learned how to teach rapists not to grow up thinking it’s okay to rape

instead of teaching our victims how to hide

The problem is
we can’t hide

When I was a little girl,
my worst nightmares were
and rape
I will not go into dark alleys alone
And I will not leave the door to my house unlocked
The difference here is that culprits for rape are a little more
reachable, a little more
common, a little more not so little.
The difference is that the culprits of rape arethe products of a rape
culture that we can destroy just as we made it.
And actually, don’t excuse thieves from that, because in India, rape is referred to as “izzat lootna”: or to
steal one’s dignity.
I’m sure if dignity weren’t abstract but something you could take by force,
it would be yours in an instant

So dear Yahoo! forum guy, I believe you when you say that men’s upper bodies are 52% stronger than women’s
I hope you believe me when I say they know it
Rape has never been about the victims
No amount of clothing on our bodies is ever enough. Being harassed in sweatpants will tell you that

And when people say they “raped their tests”
they mean they dominated them
Rape has never been about the victims
It’s about dominance
It’s about men having the strength to use it if they want to, and it’s about
women hoping that with every bit of luck,
they won’t

And I’m sorry that you
“get tortured by women and their nonsense talking everyday,” as you said
I hope you never have to know the torture of being scared
all the damn time

It’s not your fault
You’re just part of the system that has conditioned so many.
It says not much of your personality, just your existence
And I apologize that you’re a victim of the system- I sincerely feel bad for you
I can’t imagine what it’s like for you,
the victim,
to be blamed for the actions of somebody else.

Copyright Notice: All work appearing on this blog is copyrighted to its stated author and has been posted with permission. Please post a link to a post you like rather than reblogging in order to avoid copyright infringement.

Aimée Jodoin

S/tick is pleased to present a new story from Aimée Jodoin! Check out Aimée's website and find her on Twitter @aimeebeajo.


Confounded by the implications of the twinge in her womb, the girl is not comforted by the soft curve of the car’s passenger seat hugging her minutely thickening thighs and slouching, curled spine. The sun streaking in through the smudged window squarely positioned above her right shoulder does not warm her, only her moist skin, the recent papercut from her anthropology textbook on her hand stinging from the salt in her sweat. The sun instead plagues her with a melancholy sense of dreamlike disillusionment, brought on in addition to the daffodil-yellow rays by the thrumming ache deep in her abdomen, over which her hands delicately lie, prodding the sensitive, hardening flesh. The boyfriend in the driver’s seat beside her, though miles away, does not possess eyes capable of looking at the girl, though her own gaze falls over the contours of the boyfriend’s face, tracing the line that follows the point of the widow’s peak high on the tanned forehead and swoops down over the tip of the nose toward the pinked lips. They once caressed the pearl of the girl’s nipple but which now are only able to be firmly pursed, offering on occasion a faint twitch that cannot be recognized by the girl who has never had this alien experience with anyone she trusts, or does not trust, let alone the boyfriend.

Her hands trembling over her stomach, unsoothed by the purr of the boyfriend’s car’s engine, capture the girl’s attention, and she watches them, wondering how many fingers the thing they are trying to touch bears. Her fingernails are bright red, a color which evokes to the girl some sense of irony, though she cannot claim to understand about what or where the irony lies. Tracing the streaks of red which did not quite meld into the rest of the liquid to become smooth, the girl recalls the chill of the polish as she slid the brush over her nail and the pleasure that elicited a smile from her as she watched as her hands transform from plain and boyish to attractive and slim. She just wanted to look pretty for the boyfriend, her first, but likely not last. She realizes, mesmerized by her hands, that she is only going through with this procedure, not because of the fierce, feminine independence with which she believed she was endowed, but because she knows that she cannot do it on her own right now and that she does not want to spend forever with the boyfriend.

When the flash of hot color outside the smudged window conjectures to the girl that time will continue to pass, that leaves will continue to transmorph and whither and miraculously reappear, her neck twists to carry her gaze to the placation of the autumn-sharpened hues of the forest sprinkled along the road, and the boyfriend is no longer visible in her periphery. With his face now disappeared, there is only just the girl and the blurred, oranging forest outside, the majesty and awe-inducing color, leaves flickering in the chilled wind, a haven of a facade, masking the decay of the woods. The illusion of the forest blurring past provides for the girl a blissful evocation that she and the boyfriend are inhabiting a time machine, lunging into the unknown under the protection of the boyfriend’s car, while the world outside disintegrates then begins to flourish again as the foundation for new and better species, as she and the boyfriend remain the same in age and looks and circumstance. They hurtle through time, never changing, the thing inside her never growing, so she and the boyfriend will never have to deal with their consequences, one way or another.

She allows herself for only a few seconds the relief of this dream, but the truth of it seeps quickly back into the car; she and the boyfriend are the ones growing older and shooting forward through time. This truth for the girl is so easy to forget, especially in the past few dwindling months, in which she and the boyfriend spent their evenings cozying up on the couch in front of the television after long days earning rent and growing tired. The flashes from the television screen remove from the girl the dread that comes with the memory of the open space that awaits her in the future. She doesn’t know what the boyfriend sees or does not see when they curl together on the floral-stained couch, blinking away the exhaustion that haunts them, and this lack of knowledge paired with his half responses to questions is a constant reminder to the girl that they will soon be parting ways, maybe after he is done with school, maybe after the father of the girl finally passes away, maybe quite soon after the procedure.

The scene outside the window suddenly becomes clear, a brick thrift shop and a pizza dive emerging in the square out which she stares, and the lurch of the boyfriend’s rickety car flings her head toward the dash. Out the windshield, the girl sees from the spot the boyfriend maneuvered the car between fading yellow lines the building to which the boyfriend has agreed to take the girl. They both press the buttons at their hips, the clicks releasing the reluctant constraints that slide over their bodies to unleash them from the seats of the car. Exiting the car warily, the girl makes herself pretend that she and the boyfriend are only going to a store. This is the only way she knows that will allow her to bring herself to enter the building. The plopping of the flat soles of the boyfriend’s shoes against the pavement and the chirping of a bird reinforcing its nest for the last night before its migratory flight slow the steps of the girl, so when she finally reaches the door, she has come to a complete halt. Holding the door open for the girl, the boyfriend moves aside for her to enter, while his eyes search for some crack in the sidewalk or some pink gum stuck in the flowerbed—whose thorny bushes are withering in the dirt next to the door—that lies next to the building. As she edges through the door, the girl almost forgets the color of the boyfriend’s eyes.

At the front desk across from the entry to the room, the secretary taps the pen in her hand against the edge of the desk. The earrings perched on either side of her small head glisten in the fluorescence of the lights above her, and the glasses she wears are thin and sleek. Recalling that her mother had worn glasses like these once, the girl wonders if the propensity for diminishing vision lurks in her genes.

After the girl provides the secretary with her name, she turns to find the boyfriend has already found a seat across the room, in one of the maroon plastic-upholstered chairs near a flowering plant on a wooden side table, which also displays magazines with titles the girl dreads to see. The boyfriend does not look at the girl as her feet shuffle her over to him, and a spark of anger pinches in the chest of the girl. One quick glance from the boyfriend would bring her a pinch of comfort, or at least some recognition that he is ensconced in pain and fear just as much as she.

No sooner does the girl place herself in the seat beside the boyfriend does the feared wait abruptly end. The room behind the wall must be already prepared, as if the doctors are constantly dealing with a stream of girls like her, who come, who lay, who cry, who leave, ever providing the next girl with the opportunity to get the procedure over with as soon as they arrive.

The name of the girl sprawled out into the air, leaving the nurse’s mouth like an ambivalent cacophony oblivious to the ears of other girls in the room whom the girl does not wish to know her name, breaks the silence of the tense room. The boyfriend stands first, turning, when his aloneness is noticed, toward the sitting girl, who remains for a moment on the stiff seat. Before the boyfriend lifts his hand to usher the girl to her feet, the legs of the nurse bend and begin to beeline toward the pair. Those legs, clad in pink cotton scrubs, move in the nuanced way the girl understands she will never witness from the thing that depends so much on her now and will for the rest of its miniscule life. The girl’s own legs push, and her body raises to meet the gaze of the nurse and to extend her hand. The nurse accepts it, though the girl can tell from the wrinkled brow of the nurse that not many girls have the wherewithal to use their manners when in this building.

Through the door and into a hallway the nurse leads the girl and the boyfriend, who is following them but lagging behind. The girl only now realizes the extent to which the boyfriend does not want to be here. The bright room into which the trio enters is filled with metallic tools in misshaped holders, all which surround a bench-like table, not unlike to that of a dentist chair. The nurse offers some comforting commands then exits the room, closing the door to allow the girl and the boyfriend a few moments of confrontational conversation, but the lack of a nurse is only met with silence. The boyfriend, who can barrel on for an hour about the video game he managed to beat or the football match which won him and his friends one hundred dollars, has never been this quiet.

A few minutes pass, and the door to the room opens to reveal the glowing face of a tall woman in a white jacket. A name tag is pinned to the pen-housing pocket of the jacket, but the girl refuses to allow her eyes to fall upon it.

There are questions asked of the girl, so many questions, but the one inquiry of which she is not asked is the answer to which the girl most yearns to announce: why.

The woman with the white jacket then asks if she is sure, and the girl makes a nod that does not mean yes but I think so. The bare stripe of flesh that peeks from between the top of her jeans and the hem of her t-shirt reaches the cool plastic of the bench, and her vertebrae unfurl as they slowly lower her bony back onto the crinkling, safe tissue, her zipping brain conjuring up that moment that incited the harrowing realization in her three days ago when she was sitting on that isolating porcelain seat, awaiting the drops of blood that would never come.

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