Congratulations to our winning entries from FANGLE Magazine’s Fall Writing Contest, Leah Nash and Benton Molina! Be sure to check our their work in the fall issue of FANGLE Magazine under submissions or read their work below.
We’ve also included honorable mentions of writing we wish we could have included in print. Our Spring writing contest will start on January 30th and end on February 20th.
By: Kaitlin Owen, firstname.lastname@example.org
Shhhh, child, fear me not.
I am here for you, only for you.
No, they cannot hear me.
No, they cannot see me.
They won’t believe you, you must know that.
I know all about you, pet.
I am here to keep you company.
Follow me, for I will show you the way.
Fear not the darkness; I am the darkness.
I am your imaginary friend.
I am the voice inside your head.
I am your shadow.
I am here because of you.
Your belief in me is why they shut you away.
Your belief in me is why I stand before you.
You gave me life.
You could take it just as easily.
But you won’t.
I am all you have left.
It matters not what they do to you.
I will hold your hand.
It matters not how they medicate you.
They can’t rid you of me, because I am you.
I am every childhood fear, every nightmare, every monster under your bed.
I am your personal demon, and yet I stand more loyally by you than any you ever called “friend”. So don’t cry my child.
I am your constant.
And I will be with you until the very end.
By: Olivia Robinson, email@example.com
Shoulders scrunched to my neck and tongue caught between my teeth, I raise my camera up. Through it, I watch a blonde fumbling for something in her purse.
She reaches to extract a tube of lipstick from the abyss of her leather bag, and her cellphone flies to the cement. She grimaces, instantly ducking to retrieve her phone. Eyebrows knit in concern, she checks for damage.
I lower my camera, watching as she stores her phone again and then begins to apply her rosy lipstick without even looking in a mirror. She fluffs her already puffy blonde hair and her eyes travel across the street, momentarily meeting mine. She flashes a smile with her glossy lips and I return it before she ducks into the nail salon.
Hours later, in the red loneliness of my dark room, I pull my freshly developed photographs from the solution. With careful and experienced movements, I clip the photos into line on the string running from one side of the room to the other.
I step back, hands wringing together as I observe my work. It’s warm in here and so quiet that I can hear my heart pounding. I notice that the blonde has a mole by the right-side of her upper lip.
Days later I’m sitting at the park, my legs crossed and my gloved hands resting on my lap. I can see my breath crystalize in front of me and it mingles with the stray snowflakes. I watch a mother pick her fallen boy up off the ground. He’s crying, his face red from pain and the cold. The mother looks around, distress painted on her face as she leans down to say something to her child.
I lift my camera, but freeze as the boy fixates on something behind his mother. Approaching them is a jogging woman with her golden lab. The boy stops crying and points at the dog, causing the jogger to stop. She allows the boy to pet her dog and I watch as the boy’s mother seems to be thanking the jogger. Even makeup-less and with earmuffs, I recognize the mole on the upper lip of the jogger.
The next afternoon I walk into the nail salon, a picture in hand. I find out that my model’s name is September Stone.
It’s two weeks later now and I’m perched on a bench at the park, my chin buried in my knit scarf. My head jerks to the side as I hear someone call out. I find September, dog-less, walking towards me. There’s a sheepish look on her face as she comes towards me.
“Were you by any chance asking about me?” She asks, pink gloved hands shooting to her pockets. “I see you around a lot and the people at the salon told me that a little while back someone came in to find out my name.”
I nod along and tell her that she’s my muse. She blushes at that and I can tell she’s timid. She doesn’t need to be. I tell her that she’s perfect.
September thanks me and stands, insisting that she isn’t worthy to be my model. As she begins to leave, I ask if we can meet again. She says no and leaves. I can tell she’s just modest. I forgive her.
I begin to uncover her daily routines and manage to find September as often as I can. Sometimes it’s at the coffee shop and once at the movie theater. She loves shopping and going out to nice restaurants too.
Now I sit at the park, a smile on my face and camera in hands as I wait to see her. She never shows. I stay until dark and then leave, only to return to my red room. Is something wrong? I hope she’s okay.
Weeks pass and I’m worried sick about September Stone. I’m leaving my brother’s apartment and walking towards my car as I hear a dog bark. Turning around, I see a blonde step out of her door with her golden lab on its green leash.
My heart stops and we both freeze. I wave to her and she doesn’t wave back but demurely grabs her dogs leash with both hands, cheeks flushed. I can tell she missed me too. I raise my camera and she shakes her head, ducking back into her apartment.
By: Kelsey Jackson, firstname.lastname@example.org
Marly gets off the bus at 2 pm. She begins her two block walk back to her little apartment on Court Street. Her purse is heavy with the gun she has taken from her boss an hour ago. She opens the door and tosses the keys in the bowl on the table. She hears knocking in the kitchen, meaning her husband is home early. She makes her way into the kitchen, where Ken is sitting at the table, drinking a glass of whiskey.
“So glad you’re home darlin’. Have a drink.”
“I’m starting dinner.”
“ Make that pot roast I like.”
“Of course love.” Marly pulls out the roast she had bought at the butcher earlier.
She had gotten it on sale, but she wouldn’t tell Ken that. She makes dinner while Ken drinks. He never asks her how her day was, and she never asks him. When dinner is done they sit down together, eating in silence. Eventually, Marly opens her mouth. “Ken honey, what do you think of getting out of this house? Moving to the suburbs?”
Ken looks up at her, pouring himself another glass. “What’s wrong here? We’ve got everything we need here.”
Marly sighs but says nothing.
“There you go again Marly, wanting more. You always want more. Haven’t I
given you enough? I work all day for you to have this nice house and these nice things,
and you always want more! I’m fucking sick of it!” Ken stands, the table flipped over again.
“Ken, sweetheart, you’re hurting me.” Marly’s voice is shaky, her eyes on Ken’s large hand. Ken looks down and backs away, the shock of what he’d done again in his eyes. Marly feels sorry for him. She always does.
“I’m sorry Ken. I know I ask too much.”
“Of course you do.”
“It’s just I thought moving to the suburbs would be nice, since…” Marly trails off. “Since what? Spit it out Marly.”
Marly takes a deep breath. “I’m pregnant.”
He opened his mouth, then closed it, then opened it again. “ How long?”
“and you haven’t told me?” His voice starts to rise.
“I… I’m sorry honey. I hadn’t found the right opportunity, and I didn’t know if it
would be another miscarriage- “
Ken interjects “We can’t have a child!”
He moves across the room, and Marly stands, up, rushing over and grabbing the
keys out of the bowl. “I’ll leave! I’ll take this damn baby with me! You can either be a man or you can say goodbye to me!”
“You can’t leave! Who the fuck is going to take care of you? I’m the only person you have!”
This was true, but she was going to win this argument. “I’ll go back to school! I’ve saved up enough money anyways! My child doesn’t need a deadbeat like you!” Ken’s eyes flare, and Marly grabs the gun out of her purse and aims it. “Don’t you come any closer!”
“You put that thing away Marly! We both know you won’t do it!” Ken steps away, his hands in front of him. “Put the gun away, we can share a bottle of wine and be happy. Maybe we’ll even talk about the suburbs. Isn’t that what you want? For us to be happy? Put it down Marly. You’re too good for that.”
An hour later, Marly rolls over and closes her legs, breathing lightly.
“I’m sorry for yelling darling.” Ken lights a cigarette. Marly says nothing, but covers herself with a blanket, looking at the keys on the table.
“So you’ll get that operation tomorrow?”
“Yes. I’ll go after work.”
“Good. That’s the best decision for us. You’ll see. We’ll be happy again.”
“That’s right honey. Just like before.”
She makes him eggs with bacon grease the next morning.
“Put on a longer shirt Honey. I can’t look at all those bruises.” Ken pulls out a bottle of gin. Marly sighs and climbs upstairs. She puts on her clothes for work, covering everything besides her shaky hands. She kisses Ken on the forehead. She holds the keys in her hand as she walks out the door. Maybe she won’t come back this time. Maybe
she’ll ride the bus off to some distant land where no one will ever find her. No, she had to be back to make dinner for Ken. Who else would? She wiped a tear from her cheek. She had lost the argument. She always did.
By: Katherine Davis, email@example.com
He worked under the light of an old desk lamp he’d found at a flea market. From an outsider’s perspective, it would seem he was doing some odd dance which involved swiveling slightly to the left and then quickly to the right, his right hand clutching a long, narrow brush and fluttering around like a sparrow in a rain puddle. He moved with no rhyme or reason— sometimes he’d just prop the panel up against the wall and roll his chair backward so suddenly that it would probably startle any onlookers. Before rolling back up to the heavy, oak table, he’d squint back at the small panel until his eyes practically disappeared. Then, just as quickly as he’d retreated from his dance, he’d resume as if it had never been interrupted in the first place.
Upon closer inspection you could see that he was beginning to block out the image of an old house, presumably abandoned, judging by the cracked and broken-out windows. Wisps of burnt umber weeds were hastily added here or there by a fine haired brush. With quick, practiced strokes, he began to unveil a twisted tree looming around the left side of the house.
The man reached down toward a rusted, grey toolbox and rummaged around until he found a tube of cadmium yellow. He unscrewed the cap and pushed out a smear of the thick, cheese-like paint onto his palette. He was glad he’d refrigerated his palette from the previous painting he’d completed, so most of the colors were already prepared.
Dipping his brush in a mug of already muddled water, he began to swish one color into the next, skillfully creating the exact tone of the decaying siding. He brushed layer upon layer over the front of the house, and at times he washed over the entire painting with heavily diluted colors. He would do this until the image of the house was nearly covered over with the washes. Just when it seemed he had forgotten about the subject of his image, he would then focus in on the details with heavy, bold lines. He did so with the utmost confidence; not a trace of hesitation or nervousness. The vivid strokes were applied with such careful urgency that one would think he was being held at gunpoint to produce a masterpiece.
It should be mentioned that this artist had screwed the handle of an old boom box to the wall of his studio (the kind that took four D batteries). He exclusively used it for its radio, which only picked up the local country station, 105.5. He’d found the thing in a dumpster on his way home from school one day and since then, he’d grown accustomed to the twang of the melodies and the messages of a simpler time. It was comforting to be reminded where he came from.
As the work in progress became more defined and articulate, a small hint of a smile was seen in the man’s eyes. You could almost see through his expression that the twisted tree and the old house had grown into his soul somewhere in the process of bringing them to life. He had one hand gripping the edge of the table while the other flew over the surface of the panel, turning at nearly every angle in order to achieve the perfect shape of a line. It had been hours since he’d first sat down, and he’d had very little to eat or drink. A thin layer of sweat had formed over his face, but he didn’t seem to care. Just as his movements reached a nearly feverish momentum, he stopped everything.
He stamped his feet on the floor, and pushed back his chair one last time. He stretched his tired legs and slowly stood up, knees slightly bent from the sudden strain on his muscles. Staggering over to the paint-spattered table, he lifted the panel up and propped it against the wall. His feet slowly scuffed backward about ten steps and he looked back at his work. This time, the smile of his eyes grew until it reached his lips.