Jane carrying her tray of corned beef hash into the dining hall. Jane with two small glasses of milk. Jane sitting at the far end of the table next to Rosalind, Francis, Gerdie and Viola. Jane not saying a word. Jane dressed for dinner, as always, in a plaid skirt and dark blue cardigan. On her feet: baby blue thin hospital slippers. Jane smoothing a paper napkin across her lap, carefully, neatly, as Rosalind bullfrog burps beside her. Jane taking one small sip of milk. Jane looking as if she doesn’t quite belong here, just as I hope I don’t. Jane not twitching, not rambling, never pressing all of the elevator buttons or talking to the washing machine, never kicking the tires of waiting taxi cabs along Park Avenue South. Jane was a schoolteacher once. Jane was never a mother. Jane with her fork poised and lifted as if wanting to be called upon. Jane not saying a word. Jane only ever watching, never any trouble, disturbing not even her face with a smile. Jane not like the other ladies here at the residence, most of them crazy, what with Francis and her mumbling and Gerdie with her baby dolls and Viola shoving ice cubes into her purple knitted tichel. Jane making gentle digs into her glob of corned beef hash as Rosalind grouses, Why are those girls so loud? Those girls meaning us at the round table. Jane turning her long gaze toward us, as if loving the sound, the sound a delight, the sound like those two tip-top notes on a piano twiddled quick and light, that sound such a smile, isn’t it, Jane? Because I see her sometimes. Some nights, after the other ladies have gone upstairs to bed, I see her from the hallway phone booth, sitting alone at the piano in the parlor. I see her moving her fingers across the keys but never pressing down. Jane never makes a sound. Jane, do you ever want to be the noise? When you were young like us at the round table, with hope in your cheeks and life in your throat, did you laugh too loudly, too? Ugh, that laughing hurts my ears, Rosalind complains. Leave them alone, says Gerdie, waving her hand our way. Jane then catching my eye. Stick a fork in it, girls! yells Rosalind in our direction, and Viola, rapping her finger on the table, says, You put a fork in it, Rosalind. No one asked you, Rosalind shoots back, and Gerdie cups her hands over her ears, begging them to stop. And back and forth it begins, on and on it goes, as it does every night, this cacophony of mealtime drama. Jane sitting still in the middle of it, our eyes still locked. Jane, what does your voice sound like? And Jane, how did you lose it? Put a fork in it! Put a fork in it! Viola shouts, rocking back and forth in her chair. Jane wiping her mouth with her napkin before scooting back her chair. I’ll put a fork in you, Viola, Rosalind says. From across the dining room rises tiny Italian Adele, hacking a cackle up her chimney throat. She points to Jane and says, Jane, put a fork in Rosalind, will ya? And Jane, blinking the music from her eyes, stands up from her chair, picks up her fork—
Wendy Chirikos’s work has appeared in Emerge Literary Journal, Parhelion Lit, Bending Genres and Lunate, among others. She lives in Boulder, CO, and can be found awkwardly lurking on Twitter @WChirikos.
Lost in Translation
Alec Ward is a St. Petersburg based artist who explores colorful multidimensional fields of time and space through his psychedelic blends of collage and liquid acrylic. Inspired by the music and art of the 60’s, Alec sharpened his experimental skills as an Interdisciplinary Art graduate at Eckerd College. Amidst college, Alec created his own business “Far Out Mojo” showcasing his multifaceted works of art that went on to be album covers, logos, website design, and photography. Post college, Alec’s versatility guided him to expand his business with unique goods like screen printed tie-dye clothing, wooden acrylic paintings, and postcard decor. Alec enjoys the spontaneity and bliss of diving into the flow of the unknown when it comes to collage and liquid acrylic. Just like life, you never know what you’re going to get. Alec’s work has been published in Beaver Magazine. Instagram: @far_out_mojo Website: https://www.etsy.com/shop/FarOutMojo