The Elixir

The Literature and Arts Magazine of Brenau University

Clifftop by Rebecca Jarrett

(cover art winner)

-Originally published in The Elixir’s 2016-17 print edition

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Pink by Rebecca Jarrett

Pink was her favorite color; the very pink that had colored his cheeks in slumber. She despised grey. It reminded her of storm clouds and smog and spoiled meat. Looking at his suit, she revised her complaint. She didn’t merely hate grey; she hated all dark colors. With a new resolve, she turned from his casket and strode out of the church. When she got home, she threw out half of her clothes.

-Originally published in The Elixir’s 2015-16 print edition

-Photo credit to This Creative Girl

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Rasputin by Samuel Roper

-Originally published in The Elixir’s 2015-16 print edition

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The Cliff

The Cliff by Tahimi Perez-Borroto

She sways on the cliff, sea pink flowers wrapped around her fingers, faint traces of tears carved on her cheeks. There’s a storm coming, the foam from the sea below her gurgles in anticipation, pity drops from above. He rode away ten days ago, Continue reading “The Cliff”

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Owl of Owls by Britney Powe

-Originally published in The Elixir’s 2015-16 edition

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The Bird Man by Monica Sanchez

-Originally published in The Elixir’s 2015-16 edition

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Sin by Emily Bruce

In the beginning there was God, and in the end there will be God, but in the middle all I know- the heat of your breath.

-Originally published in The Elixir’s 2015-16 edition

-Photo credit to Made

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What is Aspartame?

In Response to Amy’s Question: What is Aspartame? by Marissa Hewatt Stephens

(3rd place poetry winner)


It is a sweetener,

an artificial, addictive, non-saccharide sweetener,

rapidly hydrolyzed in the small intestine,

and it breaks down, somewhere between saliva enzymes and piss stream,

into components, one of them being formaldehyde,

the stuff that coats those dead sharks you buy in glass jars,

and those dead people you find in coffins, Continue reading “What is Aspartame?”

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Her by Kaleigh McIntyre

A girl sitting on a bus bench drinking coffee. Is she going to get on. Where is she going. Where has she been. Does it even matter where she’s been if she knows where she’s going next. Does she come out every morning, like this one, and wait for her bus. Is she trying to get away from something. Or trying to get back to it. Where on earth is her coat. Doesn’t she know it’s freezing this time of year. Does she know that she’s wearing some of her latte on her cashmere sweater. Does she know and just not care. Is she a wanderer. Does she like to stay close to home. Why do I want to speak to her so badly. Why am I drawn to her worn face. Why do I want to know the story behind the deep lines in her face, the ones that say she’s laughed a lot in her life, and the story about the circles under her eyes that say she hasn’t slept a lot lately. Does she have a husband at home who won’t tell her how beautiful she is. Or a stack of bills too high for her paycheck. Or maybe a high-pressure job nearby she’s late to. Does she come to this bench in the mornings to have a few moments of peace with her venti latte and her thoughts. To just forget whatever it is that she can’t tune out anywhere else. Or maybe to hear the sounds of a world outside of her, to remind her of how minuscule her problems are in the “big picture.” Or to watch others as they board their own buses. To speculate their stories, as I speculate hers. To feel connected for just a moment to some other, stronger woman.

All I know for certain is this: in this moment, none of those things matter as she realizes I’m staring, and we exchange smiles.


-Originally published in The Elixir’s 2016-17 print edition

-Photo credit to Damien Demolder

Beauty in Nature (#3) by Haley Krokey

-Originally published in The Elixir’s 2016-17 print edition

My Home

My Home by Cairistiona Barron


  1. The women talking in the kitchen, men gathered by the T.V., and children running as we played
  2. The rocking chairs around campus at dusk
  3. Her wild tail as she dreams of squirrels and cats to chase
  4. Everyone’s heights on the door frame
  5. Sitting in the dark, oblivious to the world around me as the next episode begins
  6. Spaghetti-o’s on Saturday
  7. Sinking into the couch to join others in mindless chit-chat
  8. The banners that proclaim our three consecutive victories
  9. His firm grasp around my clammy hands
  10. Running back stage to grab a missed prop
  11. Rain clouds every afternoon
  12. My parents holding hands as we enter our 9th hour of driving

Giant Cat by Miriam Murphy-Gary

-Originally published in The Elixir’s 2016-17 print edition

Basket of Mourning

Basket of Mourning by Mae Allison

(3rd place prose winner)

Today’s sadness is different from yesterday’s. The realization that my young Chen will not return has settled in my heart. I have almost accepted that she is gone forever,  although I will always wish it was not so. The fog on the mountains rises every morning. Cherry blossoms bloom and fall as their season passes. My season of depression nearly passes. As I stroll through the fields of my family, I remember the times spent galloping through them with my sisters when I was only knee high. I see the baskets we crafted ourselves. Each one had a unique flare that displayed our personalities, but they have all moved now. I taught young Chen to weave. She and I would spend our time after chores weaving baskets of all shapes and sizes. Across the river and across the bridge, the jungle waits. My chores wait as well, for I cannot tear myself from the forest in search of her. I hear the trees calling to me by name. They whisper the truth I already know. My daughter was there, but now she is not. I have looked for years for clues that are never to be found. All I have left are her unfinished baskets. The weave is loose, and the reeds have grown black with time. The reeds hold my daughter’s soul. The unfinished ends dangle waiting to be touched again as my hands long to hold her. The grid intertwines and weaves, holding the memories together. As I gaze at the baskets, laughter of a child echoes through the air of our home.The sound fills my heart with joy.

I can see her smile in the sunrise. My little Chen. Her long raven hair I had not cut since birth, dripping over her shoulder while she slept. The strands would fly in the wind when she ran out to me while I worked in the fields. A smile on her face, and a heart full of glee. She would come to me every day carrying water from the river for me to drink. I envied her optimism. I now pray for caution. If only I had had more caution. I let her roam freely. I did not think anything would happen to her. I did not think anything could happen to her. We live in a peaceful and plentiful valley. Our humble home is far from any village’s comfortable reach, but still something happened to her. Dragon, snake, or man, I will never know.

I will never know what kept my daughter from returning that evening, and every evening of every year she has been gone. Every afternoon, after I eat alone, I sit on the front step of our house. I stare at the overgrown path that leads into the jungle. That is the last place I saw her. Chen was going to our favorite place by the river. A short walk through the forest where the trees curl and cross lands you into a small clearing. The hole in the canopy of trees allows warm light to shine down onto the ground. The moss is still damp from the morning dew, and the trickle of a slight waterfall can be heard through the bird calls.

We would walk down there in the mornings with her hand in mine. The delicate hand was not even half the size of mine. She pulled me along the path. She would only look back to tell me to hurry. She was always so anxious to get there as quickly as possible. The two of us sat at the edge of the clearing where the river was lined by families of bamboo rods. Chen would skip through the rods to find the right ones to cut for our baskets. She would load her tiny arms full with bamboo rods for me to make into strips of reed. Chen would gather, and I would cut. I would sit there for hours meticulously wetting and shaping each strip. Chen would watch every move my fingers made. She wanted to cut them herself, but the knife was too massive for her hands.

The baskets we made were smooth and strong just like the land on which they were made. Chen had not yet learned how to make the reeds even in size. Her baskets would leak water like a flood if filled, but that makes them even more special to me now. I am afraid to touch her baskets. I am scared that they will no longer hold her sweet giggle or her beautiful brown eyes. They will no longer hold the crinkle in her nose when she was dreaming. Chen’s baskets hold more valuable cargo than mine ever will. Her unfinished basket lying on the table holds more even when it is flat. Each basket holds a special part of my little Chen. Her laugh is in more than one basket because her laughter fills the room. She would look at her reflection in the water of the river, and laugh for hours. She was pleased by something so simple. I never thought I would be so easily pleased. I don’t think that I ever will be again. No pleasure is right without my Chen. The smallest baskets she made hold her tears, and the sighs she would let out right before she fell asleep. I am tempted to crack open the lids of all the baskets just to hear them again, but I know I could never refill them.

My daughter is gone. Never to return. I hold onto her like the sun holds onto the earth when it sets. I grip onto my memories of her even though they are fading fast. I dream that she is gripping onto me too. That my young Chen is still running to me in the fields with her arms stretched wide. My arms are too. Her frail body and soft hair collapse into my lap, and she looks at me like I am the world. I know she would say the same about how I look at her, because she is my world.

-Originally published in The Elixir’s 2016-17 print edition

-Photo credit to Design Sponge

Venus by Lexi Hohmann

-Originally published in The Elixir’s 2016-17 print edition

Which Room?

Which Room? by Nina Siso

I read somewhere

that if one dog is put to

sleep the other should

be brought along. Helps them

to process what happened.

To be there as life

slips away like smoke weaving

through panicked fingers.

They can smell the energy,

warm and pungent, fade.

It provides closure.

We didn’t do that.

Kiki and Jasmine, a short

corgi and an onyx poodle

they were an odd pair.

A crotchety old dog,

given a few more years

by a puppy we forced on her.

If you follow someone around

long enough, they learn to

like you. Even if you bite.

Inseparable and close

till her legs stopped

working and the kidneys

gave up. A stale smell

stained her fur when we

could no longer bathe her.

We cried, hot tears

like countless families

have. Jasmine stayed.

We had to force food

into her mouth sometimes

because she refused to eat.

And though it’s been five

years. She still searches the

house, checking each room.


-Originally published in The Elixir’s 2016-17 print edition

-Photo credit to Pinterest

Lush by Rebecca Jarrett

-Originally published in The Elixir’s 2016-17 print edition

And Then They Had Sex

And Then They Had Sex by Kate Rochford-Price

Her husband was rubbing her feet.

Her feet were bare. Why did he always wear his socks to bed? His thumb pressed into the solar plexus of her left foot and she groaned. The sensation sped up her ankle, soaking into her tendons, sending her brain the message to relax. The running to-do list in her mind (email Meg her R.S.V.P., send their $147 installment check to the IRS, call in her birth control subscription, schedule PJ’s pediatric appointment) slowly faded.

His thumb moved in circles on the ball of her right foot. She pushed herself farther into the pillow, and exhaled. Intense pleasure. She looked at him, arched over her feet in concentration, and felt as if she could devour him.

She suddenly felt self-conscious about the jagged, chipped green state of her toenails.

His thumb smoothed the arch of her left foot over and over again. She stretched like a cat (and felt like purring too). He smiled at her and it suddenly struck her that he had just come off his sixth twelve-hour shift this week. Looking at him bent over the feet that did one-tenth the walking his did made her want to cry. She wanted to push his hands away, but she was paralyzed with pleasure.

His thumb massaged the softly calloused rim of her right heel. She wanted him to rub other places. Places that hadn’t been touched in two weeks. But she couldn’t break the silence, drugged as she was by the sensations. And she wasn’t the brave type anyway. The only time they’d tried “dirty talk” had gone disastrously wrong and ended in bruised feelings and a bruised tailbone.

His thumb slid between each of her toes, exercising them, and she flinched when he reached her pinky on her left foot. She’d stubbed it this morning on one of Cal’s racecars on her way to the coffee pot in the dark. Her husband lifted the tiny digit to his lips and placed a prim kiss on the tip of the now lavender flesh.

She could no longer feel her feet, they were weightless with pleasure. She pulled him to her, both already naked, and planted a fierce kiss on his lips, massaging them with her own. Her fingers dug into his back as if she could hold this moment suspended—free of spilt cran-grape juice and in-laws and thanksgiving potlucks plans.

His thumb brushed her cheekbone; he leaned his forehead on hers, and said, “Stop thinking so much.”

She laughed and turned to bite his thumb lightly. “Make me.”


-Originally published in The Elixir’s 2016-17 print edition

-Photo credit to Musely

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