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The Elixir

The Literature and Arts Magazine of Brenau University

letter from the editor

Rebecca Jarrett /  Editor-in-chief of the 2017-18 edition

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Elixir Magazine (2017-18)

 

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Elixir 2017-18
Featured post

Georgia’s Best Emerging Poets

Congratulations to all Elixir alums who were published in the recent anthology Georgia’s Best Emerging Poets!

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Inside you can find:

Featured post

The Spill

The Spill by Katie Ivey

(2nd place prose winner)

 

I’m sitting in Inman Perk skimming the endless pages of a textbook that I have to finish reading for class in less than an hour. Maybe if I had found a decent place to park besides the top level of the parking garage, I could’ve had the time to get more reading done…  No, probably not. My mind is wandering off again when suddenly the serenity of the coffee shop is being tampered with.

I look up to find a couple walking in and being quite loud, as if they’ve never been in such a sacred space. The quiet slowly killed me inside and paying attention to the noise was another way to procrastinate my skimming and enjoy a nice break. They order a pumpkin spice latte and a shot of espresso… Obviously neither of them has drunk coffee outside of Starbucks. But in an odd way, I sort of envy that. Maybe not how they had only drunk coffee at Starbucks, but going and exploring new places with someone you’re close to.

I watch as they sit down at the table in front of me. They look really good together, and by the way they’re looking across the table into each other’s eyes, it occurs to me that they’re in a relationship, and I can tell they probably love each other. I get a knot in my stomach and then lose interest pretty fast because it goes back to the quiet atmosphere of a typical coffee shop. Then I remember that I have reading to do. I’m reading while the couple is getting their coffee and making their way back to the table. I overhear laughter and then a little later, what sounds like arguing, but I am trying to focus my attention on the reading. So much for that, because then I hear a loud noise and instantly smell espresso. I look up from my reading to see that both of their drinks are on the ground and on their clothes. There was some on the walls, some in their hair, and some on their faces. I could nearly taste it.

The teenage boy seems to find the incident hysterical. He is bending over and laughing while the girl is bouncing up, grabbing a napkin and throwing it on the floor, visibly frustrated. Over the laughter I hear, “Are you seriously going to sit there and laugh while I clean this up?”

He continues laughing and she’s yelling, “I’m seriously not in the mood today. This isn’t funny. Help me.”

He looks at her, mid-laugh, and exclaims, “It’s… It’s… It’s coming out of your nose!”

She gives him a really stern look, coffee dripping from her hair, and begins wringing it out of her shirt, where most of the drink wound up.

I stand up and walk over to the counter. I ask the worker for some paper towels and then head over to the swimming pool that was the entrance of Inman Perk.

“Need some help?” I ask.

“Yes I do. Thank you,” she says to me but continues glaring at the boy across from us.

“Come on now, lighten up. I’ll buy you another coffee and we’ll go home and get you some more clothes,” the boy says with a large smile on his face. He then begins cleaning up the mess with us, grabbing some paper towels out of my hand, tossing some on the ground and then to be funny, rubbing one in her hair.

“Smart alec,” she says to him with a partial smile.

He responds, “I’m only messing with you.” Then he winks at her.

The worker who witnessed the catastrophe and handed me paper towels, comes out of the back, sighing, with a large mop, and begins to take over. I walk over to my seat again after the girl thanks me for helping. I can’t help but giggle. His laughter was so contagious and there was something about the way she stood up straight as a board after the spill that I couldn’t help but share the laughter with him.

I realize that I should probably give up on the assigned reading. I have only twenty minutes until class starts. I get up, wave goodbye to the couple still cleaning the mess, walk across the square, go up the freakishly shaky elevator leading me up to the top deck of the parking garage, and stand at the top for a minute before heading to class. I’m looking out at the square when I see the couple walking out of Inman Perk. He’s got his arm around her and she looks annoyed. He leans over and kisses her on the head and I can physically see the change in her demeanor. She kisses him back.

I walk over to my car, unlock it, climb inside, and look at the large textbook that I have yet to finish reading. I pick up my cellphone instead and begin dialing a number, realizing I’m not going to class today.

I’m sitting in Inman Perk skimming the endless pages of a textbook that I have to finish reading for class in less than an hour. Maybe if I had found a decent place to park besides the top level of the parking garage, I could’ve had the time to get more reading done…  No, probably not. My mind is wandering off again when suddenly the serenity of the coffee shop is being tampered with.

I look up to find a couple walking in and being quite loud, as if they’ve never been in such a sacred space. The quiet slowly killed me inside and paying attention to the noise was another way to procrastinate my skimming and enjoy a nice break. They order a pumpkin spice latte and a shot of espresso… Obviously neither of them has drunk coffee outside of Starbucks. But in an odd way, I sort of envy that. Maybe not how they had only drunk coffee at Starbucks, but going and exploring new places with someone you’re close to.

I watch as they sit down at the table in front of me. They look really good together, and by the way they’re looking across the table into each other’s eyes, it occurs to me that they’re in a relationship, and I can tell they probably love each other. I get a knot in my stomach and then lose interest pretty fast because it goes back to the quiet atmosphere of a typical coffee shop. Then I remember that I have reading to do. I’m reading while the couple is getting their coffee and making their way back to the table. I overhear laughter and then a little later, what sounds like arguing, but I am trying to focus my attention on the reading. So much for that, because then I hear a loud noise and instantly smell espresso. I look up from my reading to see that both of their drinks are on the ground and on their clothes. There was some on the walls, some in their hair, and some on their faces. I could nearly taste it.

The teenage boy seems to find the incident hysterical. He is bending over and laughing while the girl is bouncing up, grabbing a napkin and throwing it on the floor, visibly frustrated. Over the laughter I hear, “Are you seriously going to sit there and laugh while I clean this up?”

He continues laughing and she’s yelling, “I’m seriously not in the mood today. This isn’t funny. Help me.”

He looks at her, mid-laugh, and exclaims, “It’s… It’s… It’s coming out of your nose!”

She gives him a really stern look, coffee dripping from her hair, and begins wringing it out of her shirt, where most of the drink wound up.

I stand up and walk over to the counter. I ask the worker for some paper towels and then head over to the swimming pool that was the entrance of Inman Perk.

“Need some help?” I ask.

“Yes I do. Thank you,” she says to me but continues glaring at the boy across from us.

“Come on now, lighten up. I’ll buy you another coffee and we’ll go home and get you some more clothes,” the boy says with a large smile on his face. He then begins cleaning up the mess with us, grabbing some paper towels out of my hand, tossing some on the ground and then to be funny, rubbing one in her hair.

“Smart alec,” she says to him with a partial smile.

He responds, “I’m only messing with you.” Then he winks at her.

The worker who witnessed the catastrophe and handed me paper towels, comes out of the back, sighing, with a large mop, and begins to take over. I walk over to my seat again after the girl thanks me for helping. I can’t help but giggle. His laughter was so contagious and there was something about the way she stood up straight as a board after the spill that I couldn’t help but share the laughter with him.

I realize that I should probably give up on the assigned reading. I have only twenty minutes until class starts. I get up, wave goodbye to the couple still cleaning the mess, walk across the square, go up the freakishly shaky elevator leading me up to the top deck of the parking garage, and stand at the top for a minute before heading to class. I’m looking out at the square when I see the couple walking out of Inman Perk. He’s got his arm around her and she looks annoyed. He leans over and kisses her on the head and I can physically see the change in her demeanor. She kisses him back.

I walk over to my car, unlock it, climb inside, and look at the large textbook that I have yet to finish reading. I pick up my cellphone instead and begin dialing a number, realizing I’m not going to class today.

 

 


Originally appeared in The Elixir’s 2017-18 print edition

Get Better Soon

Get Better Soon by Laura Burke

When I was a little girl,
I remember my mother
sitting me down in front of
a machine in our living room
after we had finished dinner, the family
settling down around us, ready to relax
for a while before heading to bed.

Now I know that the machine is
called a nebulizer. She said I had
something called “asthma,”
that it was what made me cough all the time,
and that this machine would make me feel better.

She told me not to worry,
it was for the best.

She placed the cold mask around my face,
the hard, unyielding plastic fitting over my
nose, making the sound of my breathing
echo raggedly, reminding me of an astronaut’s.
I would fidget and pull at the straps that
went over my ears, picking at
elastic that might as well have been iron.

She told me not to move,
not to touch it.

She hit a button
and the nebulizer roared
to life like an angry animal.
Then she would join my brother
and my father and put on a movie.

All I could do was sit there,
catching snippets of their conversations
and dialogue from the film.
I sat there in that corner
and told myself it was for the best,

I wanted to get better.
I wanted to get better.

Because I hated when I could
feel those steel bands creep around my chest.
I hated the random attacks, the feel that my heart
would race out of my chest.
Hated drowning on dry land,
flopping about like a fish out of water,
spasming on the cold unforgiving ground.
Of course I hated the cough that made my ribs ache
like a fist had been smashed into them from
the inside, the gagging that interrupted the
cough, like my body could regurgitate that nonexistent
water. The feeling of gray encroaching,
until that blessed pump, my sweet rescue inhaler-
closer to me than any friend-appeared between my lips
and suddenly I could breathe.

Yes, I wanted to be better.
So, I sat in my corner and listened
to those snippets and let the roar
of the machine be my lullaby,
taking comfort in the fact that,
for tonight at least, the monster
asthma would be held at bay.


Originally appeared in The Elixir’s 2017-18 print edition

Hidden Treasure by Rebecca Jarrett

Originally appeared in The Elixir’s 2017-18 print edition

Still by Sara Jane Bowers

Originally appeared in The Elixir’s 2017-18 print edition

Locket

Locket by Mei Reily

Up, up, up I climb in an endless expanse of staircase after staircase. Each step creaks and groans with every step I take. Who knows how many years it’s been since they’ve had a human walk on them? The voices from downstairs turn to whispers, and are soon indistinguishable from the howling winds outside. A flash of light briefly illuminates the faded yellow wallpaper surrounding me, and for a moment every detail is clearly visible. For the first time I notice the repeated pattern on the walls: tiny wedding bouquets. Now that the lightning has passed, the room is just as dark and undisturbed as before, but the image is still burned in my mind: a million identical bouquets of flowers slowly rotting with mildew and age. Soon they will be nothing but a memory. Soon I will be nothing but a memory… The trumpet call of thunder brings me out of my daze and reminds me of why I’m here. I start to climb again. The cobwebs grace the golden railing like a blanket, proof that this place has remained untouched…until now.

Down, down, down I walk, trying not to trip from the fear and stress of being seen by this congregation. I’ve always been terrified of crowds. What do they say you should do?        Imagine them in their underwear? Well, that doesn’t work. Now I’m terrified, tense, and I’m sure my face is bright red. Great. Faces from every angle stare me down, making it harder and harder to breathe. One face in the crowd demands my attention in particular, and for just a moment, I take a breath and my heart stops ringing in my ears. I see a                reluctant smile and a wave of calm washes over me. I make the mistake of looking away because then I’m haunted by hundreds of eyes boring into my soul. I suddenly feel like I ’m being frozen in place, and my feet seem to get heavier and more sluggish. Maybe all of Medusa’s victims were just socially anxious, and she told them to give an impromptu speech about the French Revolution in front of hundreds of glaring faces. I’d certainly turn to stone if that happened to me, and at this moment I feel like I am. 

Only a bit further now. I can see a once-beautiful wooden door at the top of the spiral staircase. I finally reach the end of my journey, and my reward is just behind that heavy oak portal. I reach for the rust and dust-covered handle and lean forward as a small shower of dust rains down from the doorframe behind me. I’m welcomed by a bat fluttering in the corner, clearly angry that I’ve disturbed his slumber. He flies around the room to show me that this is indeed his home and finally lands on a large wardrobe, presumably to continue his afternoon nap. I apologize and take in the room for the first time in years.  I see a huge circular expanse that is filled to the brim with furniture, clothes, and clutter. Directly in front of me is a gorgeous stained glass window that stains my face red, purple, and green. Dust motes float in the colored light, barely visible and always just out of reach.

I’m almost there now. I just have to keep my footing for a few more steps. Dark figures form an arc around me, trapping me inside this cage of guilt and regret. But I’m no stranger to this cage. It’s been my companion for a month now, but I don’t think I’ll ever get used to it. Every time I start feeling better, the guilt creeps up on me like a snake and I hear her voice with every hisssss. My heart feels like it ’s breaking, but I’ve been standing here for centuries, and the mass of people aren’t going anywhere. They look at me expectantly. They all want me to say something, but I struggle to find the right words. I went over this a million times before, but now the words are as impossible to grasp as a dust mote in a stained glass window. I spot some supportive nods, but mostly I just feel their pity. I hate feeling pitied. Over the last thirty days I’ve had to endure countless comments along the lines of “I’m so sorry, dear,” and “I know exactly how you feel,” but how could they? How could they know what it felt like lose my best friend, my idol, the only person I could turn to whenever I needed anything? There are moments when I’m so excited to tell her something until my brain catches up to my heart and I realize… I can’t. I can’t even find solace in my memories because every time I picture her face I feel physical pain. It ’s like a wound that refuses to heal and every time a scab tries to form it just gets ripped open again. Someone to my right tries to put her hand on my shoulder but the last thing I want is to be touched. I don’t want to be hugged. I don’t want to be held.  I just want to be alone. This desire lets me breathe again. I recite the speech I’ve practiced a million times, but there is no heart in it. My heart died when she did. 

I tear the room apart. Old scrapbooks and letters flutter to the ground, sending up a cloud of dust. It’s funny. If she were here, she would consider my disregard of these memories to be unbelievable.

But right now, I only care about one memory, and I’d walk through Hell to find it. I flip over chairs, ruffle through board games, and nearly rip the hinges off an old cabinet in search of it. So far I’m having no luck, and the space seems to get smaller and smaller. I’m being crushed by my past, and all these memories rush back to me instantaneously. My uncle teaches me to ride the bicycle in the corner. I drop a teacup in the kitchen, leaving the incomplete set in front of me. I see my father fawning over the painting to my left. Wait, the painting. That’s it! I crawl over a velvet cushion-less loveseat and finally get my hands on the frame. The “gold” is starting to peel off at the edges, but I couldn’t care less. I remove it from the pile of junk as gingerly as I can with my hands shaking as fast as they are. I bring it over to the light and I see her: my mother on her wedding day. She’s more elegant and beautiful than I could ever be, with a bright golden locket gleaming on her chest. But wait, there’s something behind her; there’s something I never noticed before: a barely-visible figure dawning her with the necklace. I pull it closer to get a better look, and when I touch the backside my hand grazes something cold and sharp. I nearly drop the painting in fear of a cockroach or spider’s nest. I turn it over and see a tiny plastic bag with a locket inside. I tear the bag away from the frame and open it. I open the locket as fast as I can and for the first time since her passing I weep. I sob like a child, not knowing or caring who can hear me, because in the locket is a picture of my flawless mother on the left, and one of my graduation pictures on the right. There is a note in the bag as well, written in her beautiful hand.  

My darling,
I wish I could have been there to see you on your wedding day, but I want you to know that I’ll always be with you. I’d like to see Death himself try to keep us apart.
-Mom XOXO


Originally appeared in The Elixir’s 2017-18 print edition

The Snow Queen

The Snow Queen by Kate Rochford-Price

(staff pick)

 

Once after an art show at the Lincoln Center in New York, she’d met a prince. His manservant had persistently raised his forefinger, forcing the bidders—ranging from a frivolous heiress to a French museum curator to a middle-aged businessman showing off to his mistress—to climb to his winning number. He bought her piece—Inverted Self Portrait—for $375,000. The days she’d spent crafting the plaster cast of her profile, then carving the image into a solid marble slat, sanding her cheekbones, perfecting the eyes so that the grey veins formed the eyelids, all seemed wasted on someone who she imagined would hang it precariously over his bed as he brought in docile lover after lover. Besides, it was worth double that at the least, but no one appreciated her work for what it was: transcendent. But then again, no real artists were recognized in their time. Pity her time stretched on so long.

Giselle—dressed in Louis Vuitton 4-inch pumps and Christian Dior’s latest with a neckline that plunged to her waist, showing off her paper-thin, snow-tinted skin—stood in a secluded corner of the gallery watching the refined tug-of-war play out from behind her champagne glass. Ordinarily, she wouldn’t have come to her own auction but she’d been bidden by her annual craving to venture outside her studio.

The prince came over to meet her before any of the other stares could—a man in a finely tailored suit with a close-cut beard and two heavy rings on his thumbs. He reached out as if to shake her hand, then lifted it to his lips, saying, “The artist is even more beautiful than the art, I see,” and kissed her knuckles. Giselle offered him a wan smile and pulled her hand from his grasp. She looked at her diamond-encrusted watch: midnight. “If you’ll excuse me, your highness.”

He grabbed her arm mid-stride and said in rehearsed English, “Wouldn’t you like to spend the evening with me?” His grasp was firm and Giselle smirked at his presumption. She regarded him from beneath her eyelashes. He did remind her of Ivan, with his wide-set eyes and dark whiskers, that long-ago lumberjack who had shown her how good fresh earth feels on bare skin.

She decided to humor him. “Let’s head back to my place then.”

His manservant shut the heavy metal door on the armored truck with a thud, sealing the sculpture inside, just as she stepped into the limo.

Once at her building, his bodyguard followed them out of the limo and up the stairs, stationing himself outside her door. Giselle led the prince to her bedroom and would have undressed him except that he had already begun methodically discarding his clothes. Meanwhile, she peeled her dress from her skin until it slid to the ground, revealing the snowy landscape beneath.

***

The next morning, his body was rigid and cold.

Giselle pried the two platinum rings from his thumbs. The left read power in Arabic (قوة), the right read royalty (ملكية). She placed them carefully in her lacquer box, amongst Ryan’s Silver Star, Stephan’s St. Christopher rosary, poor Ivan’s wood carving of Perun—though why he’d worshiped that old, foolish tyrant she never knew.

She shut the lid and brushed the intricate painting of a white-haired woman crowned in ice. Her fingers trailed the delicate lines of the crystalline dress, furs at the woman’s feet. Giselle admired the blend of colors—all shades of blue and white—but most of all, she gazed longingly at the familiar forest garbed in snow.

Tree Nymph by Miriam Murphy-Gary


Originally published in The Elixir’s 2017-18 print edition

Down to Sea Level by Sara Jane Bowers


Originally published in The Elixir’s 2017-18 print edition

Lipstick Kills Innocent Humans

Lipstick Kills Innocent Humans by Ashton Stockdale

when i first wore lipstick
it was to impress a boy that i thought
was lovely
it was my mother’s
it was red
an old shade
the ends were hardened from disuse
from misuse
i wiped it off before school began
he wasn’t going to notice

when i first wore lipstick
it was to try to get a priest to see my lips
not my heart
it was my aunt’s
clay brown
beautiful
i wiped it off before
he came to get me
i couldn’t let him notice


-Originally published in The Elixir’s 2017-18 print edition

Elixir Magazine (2016-17)

Cover, Index, etc. (3).png
Elixir 2016-17 (FINAL)

2012-13 Edition Notes

Dear Readers,

I am thrilled to share with you the works of Brenau’s talented writers and artists. This year, our collection draws from a diverse group of students who utilize multiple mediums and genres to explore everything from the impassioned to the mundane. Each woman included in this collection has shared with us a unique rendition of life as a Brenau Woman. It has been my privilege to work with these creators, and we hope that you will find as much joy, intrigue and fascination in seeing our works as we did in creating them.

Warm Regards,

Chloe Golden

Tough

Tough by Marley Elliott

Now she’s single,

but she never complains

because she knows that sometimes

a girl needs to suck it up.

On her back

is a dragonfly tattoo.

Her heart is harder to get to

than Fort Knox,

they key is buried

under miles of concrete.

Her heart has been stamped on,

tilled battered and barely beating,

she thought it was tough love,

and would cry herself to sleep every night.

Now she flits away from guys

as nimbly as a dragonfly,

and to any guy

who thinks they have a chance with her,

she says,

“Tough.”

 

-Originally published in The Elixir’s 2013-14 print edition

-Photo credit to Tattoo Journal

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