Meanness   

Meanness  

One: I awoke to my mother’s weeping and walked over the jail bars’ shadow the Venetian blinds made on the kitchen floor. Her chest heaved as she smoked across from me at the table, sobbing about doctor’s bills and my father’s lousy job, how we were going to end up in the poorhouse like she...
Shana’s Father Wins a Monkey

Shana’s Father Wins a Monkey

Our friend Shana… her… father… well, she wasn’t born yet. But her father won a live monkey at a drive-in movie. [Sniff.] No time to talk about the… it’s got too many distasteful details in it … nothing bad happens to the monkey, don’t worry. The monkey dies, but of natural causes at an old...
Survival

Survival

Imperceptibly, the white pine has grown so tall no one can see what’s happening up there. Dirt has mounded at its base, the underside asserting itself: a bulge of the invisible. You can see the tree from far down the lake. It was planted ninety years ago by my father and his brother. They put...
Forgetting

Forgetting

You know how you find yourself in the kitchen and you can’t remember what you’re doing there so maybe you put your hands on the cold sink and look out the window but it doesn’t help? What works is to go back to the living room, sit down again on the chair you got up...
What I Took

What I Took

From my mother’s house, in 1982, when I left for college—for good: her prized crimson cashmere sweater, which she never wore (Orlando, average temperature in January: 70 degrees Fahrenheit), the most collegiate item in our house, which I washed in warm water, which turned my t-shirts, sheets, and underwear pink, all of which I put...
Glossary of Chain Accidents

Glossary of Chain Accidents

Because I used to stare at Mendy Frankl’s Adonis curls in statistics, because I had a pair of silver boots from Baker’s I got on clearance for $14.99 and Sharpied them to near-extinction, because I dreamed of being the kind of girl who had a red high heel on the end of a keychain, as...
Senior Moments

Senior Moments

Heavy double doors slowly swing open. A tall old man in a hospital johnny, stooped and gnarled, wanders the long hallway. My mother, half his height, pastel scrubs and permed hair, pulls me past him. “Sit in the day room with the residents. I’ve got to get to work.” Where my mother works, I follow....
Mud and Gravel

Mud and Gravel

1. Gravel and mud, mud mixed with gravel, gravel sinking gray and jagged into the soft brown mud as the spring storms beat down and pass by, as puddles fill and ebb away, as the heavy yellow diggers and draggers and loaders prowl in their loud slow way. This sloppy wide mess that runs down...
Siberia, Atlanta

Siberia, Atlanta

When I tell you that my mother’s father was born in a Siberian prison, I’ll remind you that was because his parents were perhaps exiled as retribution for political acts. Or simply because they were Jews. He, however, was a baby. Some of what I will tell you is true. Were they Jews? Yes. But...
When a 17-Year-Old Checkout Clerk in Small Town Michigan Hits on Me, I Think about the Girl I Loved at 17

When a 17-Year-Old Checkout Clerk in Small Town Michigan Hits on Me, I Think about the Girl I Loved at 17

When it opened in 1908, The New York Times called the PATH train one of the greatest engineering feats that has ever been accomplished: perhaps greater than, they noted, the ongoing Panama Canal project, which wouldn’t be up and running for six more years. Spanning only three and a half miles, the PATH train from...
There But for the Grace of God

There But for the Grace of God

In the country of my mother’s birth, miracles and sloths keep to themselves. In the weeks I spend looking for some sign of her, the rain persists with its genius for mud and birdless afternoons. Butterflies, people said. Ladybugs, people said. Songbirds, they all said. My mother would come back from the dead as something...
Hoot

Hoot

1. She titled it “Autumn Beauty.” Three crimson maple leaves hang from slender, silvery branches, backgrounded by a watery swirl of teal, lime, burnt umber, and gold. A quiet peacefulness balances the bold beauty of the leaves. The painting was her favorite, and she brought it “just to show” when she and my dad came...
Jack Ruby’s .38 Colt Cobra

Jack Ruby’s .38 Colt Cobra

Because even after you put death aside—keeping in your sights not Oswald’s ruptured gut, but the very idea of the gun beginning to grow, becoming a new kind of try-me, a sure bet he could grip, strap to his thigh, flaunt to protect the earnings of his half-assed strippers and ventriloquist acts and hustled bottles...
At My School

At My School

The bathroom walls are a battle. Between dissent and Magic Erasers, between wrath and paint, between the kids and the janitors. I sit on the toilet and read—about the protests back in November, about the institution protecting rapists, about Chance the Rapper, about which Instagram accounts to follow, about whether or not Jeff Sessions is...
Turn, Bend, and Spread

Turn, Bend, and Spread

The officer yells, Next! I unbutton my shirt as I walk. The officer follows me into a stall and yanks the rubber curtain behind him. Shower rings screech against metal; the curtain barely moves. I don’t care. There’s no privacy anyway: two men in a cinder block booth. Shoes. I take off my prison-issue sneakers....

About the Artist: January 2018

Lauren Crux is an interdisciplinary artist — writing, photography, performance — who was born in Canada, but has made her home in Santa Cruz, California. She has a long-standing career as a psychotherapist. The photographs featured in this issue come from three different series: Through the Craic (an Irish term, pronounced “crack.”), Markers, and Untitled (as of yet). Her photography and...