Thursday, December 1, 2016

Nightmare in 100 Words, Katy Comber

by Katy Comber

The guy saw the girl across the room. 
a) He wanted her. The dress fell perfectly, a satin invitation—asking to be unwrapped. He would do the unwrapping. 
b) She wasn't his taste. Her dress was a bit too slutty. Her lipstick too bright. Asking for trouble. 
c) She laughed loudly as her friend whispered in her ear. Confidence both attracted him and intimidated him. Maybe he should mention his education/resume/crack a joke without a common punchline. Knock her down a peg. 

d) She was everything he could ever ask for and he didn't even know her name. 

Nightmare, Rebecca Tabbutt

By Rebecca Tabbutt

He let himself in quietly.  He knew no one would be there, of course, but professional courtesy was difficult to overlook, even when he was alone.  The house was not completely silent.  He could hear a ticking clock, the whir of the heating system, and his own footsteps on the wood floors.  He moved slowly, cautiously, taking notice of every detail.  It was far too easy to miss things if one moved through a house too quickly.  He’d come in through the kitchen because it seemed like the most common entrance in use, and he wanted to see everything through her eyes.  What would she see every time she came home?  A spotless kitchen, apparently.  He was fairly surprised to see no piles of clutter, no crumbs on the counter, a refrigerator door free of children’s drawings.  So, she’s a neat freak, he thought.  A hard thing to be when raising small children, but maybe it was her way of maintaining control where she could.  He could appreciate that.  He was a bit of a neat freak himself.  No children to mess up his place, but he still never let things pile up.  
He opened the refrigerator.  Here her attempts at order were slightly less effective.  Neon colored yogurt tubes rested on two different shelves, and containers of leftovers dominated the top shelf.  He noticed that she had labeled them with dates, but several were old enough to be inedible.  So, she’s not perfect.  Good to know, he thought.  No one likes perfect.  Better that she have flaws.  He closed the refrigerator door, and moved through the living room toward the stairs.  The living room was as orderly as the kitchen, and had been recently vacuumed.  Children’s toys were neatly contained in colorful storage boxes, and framed photos were dotted around the room.  More photos of the daughter, than of the son, he noted.  Something to ask about.  He popped his head into the powder room, and saw a child’s stool sitting smack in the middle of the floor.  She must not have noticed it before she left the house.  He resisted the urge to nudge it back into place.  Everything needed to remain in place, just as she’d left it.  Though he suspected that she would have appreciated his attempt to keep things to her standards.  
He moved slowly up the stairs, taking care not to touch the banister.   He was wearing gloves, of course, but it looked freshly dusted.  He admired her commitment to cleanliness, and couldn’t bring himself to muss anything.  He checked both children’s rooms, and was as surprised to see their orderly state as he had been to see the immaculate kitchen.  How she got two young children to keep their rooms this clean was beyond him.  His experience with children may have been limited, but he suspected that their exuberant existence usually meant toys everywhere.  These two children had neatly made beds, no toys on the floor, books still in bookcases.  He considered that she cleaned the rooms herself, but when he opened a drawer and saw the mess of socks, two Barbie dolls, a necklace, and some stickers, he knew she made them clean up after themselves.  It impressed him.  Too many kids were coddled these days, in his opinion.  Better to start them early on keeping a clean space.  The further he moved into her home, the more he liked her, and the more he regretted her loss.  He scolded himself for letting emotion take hold for a moment; he needed to maintain his cool detachment.  
He had saved her bedroom for last, because he knew it would tell him the most about her.   He knew immediately which side of the bed was hers.  The TV remotes were lined up perfectly, as was the pile of books on her nightstand.  Her husband’s side contained only a lamp, and an alarm clock, both perfectly positioned.  He bent down to look at the spines of her pile of books.  A couple biographies, the rest murder mysteries.  He was pleased to see that she didn’t go in for chick lit.  He opened the drawer of her nightstand, and stared for a moment in surprise.  It was a food hoard.  Half eaten bags of chips, a box of Girl Scout cookies, a third of a Hershey bar.  So, that was her little secret.  Her home was perfectly maintained, but then when the kids were in bed, and the husband ensconced in his basement cave, she ate junk food in bed.  He almost laughed aloud.  He’d noticed a dustbuster in her laundry room, and pictured her pulling it out to clean up her crumbs before turning off the light.  Yes, he would have really liked her.  
The closet was next to the husband’s side of the bed, and was as neat as the rest of the home.  The husband’s clothes were even color coded, so clearly he liked order as well.  It made him think; was she the one who loved order, and cleanliness, or was it simply an attempt to keep the husband happy?  Another question to ask.  He had to have all the information to do his job.  Even the delicate questions would be asked.  
He examined the closet carefully as he considered his next move.  He’d gathered as much information about her as he could from examining her surroundings.  He was fairly certain he knew as much as was possible for his purposes.  His questioning would be secondary to his investigation; he’d known walking in that there would only be one result.  He’d known from the moment he saw her that he needed to know her more intimately than any person ever had.  He reached a gloved hand into his pocket to reassure himself that he still had his tools for the job.  Then he pulled aside several of her dresses, settled himself on the floor behind them, and waited.  

Friday, October 28, 2016

Space, Katy Comber

One Space
by Katy Comber

I tug at the word
carve it out 
for one
in the roots of a tree
in the vacuum of an undertow
in the orbit of a slightly tilting planet
I carve it
I crave it
Then invasion! 
My space 
and is altered  
now it sits on me 
like ill-fitting sweater
and longer suits my frame 
of mind 
if you’re not filling it too 

The Space Cadet
by Katy Comber

I’ve never dreamed 
of being an astronaut
swimming in the sea 
of stars
but I’ve been called
a space cadet 
for my mind seems 
to find greater pleasure 
in other worlds 

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Indie Film Series, Gallagher and Lieberman: Allagash, Maine // Canoeing 120 Miles

The talented aspiring videographers Mike Gallagher and Nathaniel Lieberman chronicle a 120 mile canoeing trip with their closest friends.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Old Works, Sheyna Land

Same Art 
by Sheyna Land, 2010

Long time no see, my friend.
No, you haven't been on my mind, 
Rolling around like a bead in my hand. 
Never do I
Wish I could pry open the frame,
Pull back the glass, and
Burrow through the pictures--
Steal back into our unsuspecting smiles, 
Crawl into our carefree embrace. 
I never look upon us -no, never!-
As an artist beholds his broken pieces
Blaming himself for putting it too close to the edge 
Or for assuming its strength
Would withstand

By Sheyna Land, 2011

Upon the wall
Strange shapes did fall
Like children's sparklers spinning. 
Their ebb and flow
Like waves did go,
First swelling up, then thinning. 
These shadows cast
Did move so fast,
Like evanescent streamers. 
So queer a sight
In candle's light
Might turn us all to dreamers. 
Closer I crept
To further inspect
The place these forms did hallow; 
When then, found I
A lonesome fly
Dancing with its shadow.

When I Still Feel You, 2011
By Sheyna Land 

When I still feel you most 
Is when I

Afterward, it’s the stillness.
The            quiet
Like houses after holiday
When the faces have gone, 
their laughter sticking in the air like the 
Crimson stains in leftover goblets 
This one has 

When I first felt you, it surprised me, like 
The throng of a party in
the kitchen
The belly of the house 
Life jumping all at once, like a gale of laughter at the table 

You are not gone
You are just still
You couldn’t come to the party. We understood.

But we will come to you.

Old Works, Katy Comber

Note from the Author: This was written before I learned the proper way to format a script. It was incredibly fun to dig this out and read it again.


Characters in order of appearance:
Clint the Man with cliches
Judy the Woman who judges
Colby the Cult Leader

Summary: Family Dinner is takes place with a variety of characters having family dinner in the mind of a struggling writer. The writer has invites them to a imaginative, weekly, family dinner as part of her creative process. This week is exceptional because it is a celebration of her husband, the only actual person in her life,  leaving her because she was too focused on her work to notice him despite his antics. Husband is the both the dinner guest and enters at the end of the play to his wife sitting at a table set for 6 and eating a large cake by herself.

The stage is set with dining room adjacent to the front door. A long table set for six people is center stage. The place settings are as such: Narrator at one end, DG, Judy, Colby, Clint, other head of table is set with a laptop instead of a plate, silverware on either side and other place-settings are the same. Dinner is set out family style. Characters never actually sit in their chairs but rather stand and interact behind them.

On stage: Narrator, Clint, and Judy. The doorbell rings. Narrator answers and DG enters.

DG: Hello. I’m here for family dinner.

Narrator: Welcome! Is this your first one? I’ve never seen you before, and I’ve been invited to them all.

DG: Yes. The writer started on my story after John set fire to the kitchen and she didn’t notice until the smoke got between her and the screen.

Narrator: The week he left? Boy, you must be extremely angry or--

Clint walks up.

Clint: A bird in a gilded cage.

DG: I’m actually still in development. So, mostly naive and confused at this point.

Narrator: I see. Well I’ll try to introduce you to everyone. With the writer in this state of mind, the characters may be a random set. How should I introduce you?

DG: Well, at the moment I have seven possible names.

Narrator: Nothing new around here. Usually we call your kind DG and leave it at that.


Narrator: Short for the Dinner Guest. It’s better than the original plan to number you.

DG: Okay. Well, I’m not sure what my opinion is about all this yet, so for now I’ll assume I’m fine.

Old works, Harrison Comber

Note from the photographer: I took this picture when I was nine. I was being homeschooled and taking a photography class at my co-op. This is one of the first pictures I've taken and it was with my mom's phone. I'm learning how to use a Nikon now, and the experience is better with an actual camera, but I still like to play around on my mom's phone and instagram.

Old Works, Melissa Taggart

Note from the Author: I have no idea when I did this.  Maybe fourth grade. Definitely on a typewriter.

Old Works, Rebecca Tabbutt

Note from the Author: I resisted the extremely strong urge to edit. 

Don't die, I whisper
To the clinging vines
Wrapped tight across the hard rough stones.
My hands
Themselves rough and hard
Stroke the velvet vine
Its once hearty leaves
Under the weight of the heavy rain.

That vine was once my comfort.
On the sleepless nights
I would wander
To its cool green bed
And when it had been ripped apart
By anger at its creeping growth
I would nestle down
Among its broken arms
And let them heal around me.

Don't die, not now
Not ever.
Even when you're cut apart
Thrive for me.
When tiny insects plague your leaves
Live for me.
So I might stumble
Little sleep
Into your waiting arms.

-E. Rebecca Woodward, July 1995

Indie Series, Krystle N. Adams

This may be an new work, but it's the first opening sequence of a web series project by Krystle Adams. Enjoy!

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Lost, Melissa Taggert


Tyin’ pink ribbons in my daughter’s hair
Thinking the whole time that it’s not fair that
My momma isn’t here to do the same

Awareness bought for only $19.95
But that money couldn’t keep my Momma alive
So tell me, do you really care?

Why are they forsaken
By the very ones claiming to save them?
Our bodies washed in pink, but underneath, our souls, they sink
While we have breath to speak, let’s let them know:
“We’re not pretty in pink.”

Buy the ribbons and the socks, you tell me
You might mean well, but it’s a lie you feed me
But what do you care, as long as we all behave.

To all the souls thinking “isn’t this pink so nice?”
Well, those corporate offices are just takin’ their slice
They care nothing for the souls cryin’ from the grave

Whisper down the lane while Daddies die too soon.
We’ll grieve for our loved ones however we choose.
We’ll stop the whisper and let our voices swell.

We’ll wash ourselves clean of this pink world.
Money you might take, but our voice you’ll not quell
Because you’re makin’ a profit while we’re in hell.

Lost, Katy Comber

by Katy Comber

There's a restlessness
in my bones
as I sway here, lost
to my surroundings
an urge to fight
windmills threads deep
in what I wonder of my soul,
spirit, fraction of a whole,
a vein of a needle about to shed
from a grand Muir tree

to hug
tsunami waves
seems easier
somehow than to
sit and calm this blur
of purposeful temporary-ness
while men fall
permanently at rest
without judge or jury
from cars and corners

I reach for my anchor
the one that pulls and binds me
to this world
to these fallen
sculptures molded by the same hand
and wrestle to understand
this restlessness

For now, I will name it
try to title it.
own it.
know it.
This is misplaced hope.

Lost, Fred Feldman

Friend, where have we gone?
By Frederick W Feldman

You’re reaching for the bright lights now –
Finding photo ops travelling the country.
Remember when I sat in your audience? These days
you trickle down like economics, looking
more perfect the farther you’re from me,
and now I’m just a check you don’t feel like cashing –
the accounts of our lives we won’t be rehashing.
You’re seizing opportunity; I’m partial to loyalty.
I don’t want to like your photographs if
you can’t care about my stories or poetry.
Where you are now you don’t seem to need me,
and unconditional love is not my specialty.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

If I were..., and Changing Leaves, Katy Comber

Nomads, Installment Two
James and Cola Flashback
By Katy Comber

“If I were more honest than loyal, I’d open my vaults, let the characters out, and shrink into nearly nothing,” Cola’s hands flutter downward and gesture to her body, “this is all composed of secrets, you know.”
“Your vaults?” James grins. Some of the things Cola says are just plain weird.

“‘Don't be ashamed of being human, be proud!
Inside you vault opens behind vault endlessly.
You will never be complete, that's how it's meant to be.’”*

Cola shrugs and shakes her head, “Tomas Tranströmer. I’ve always loved this idea. That people are composed of endless vaults.”
“I’m probably some old cigar box within a dusty shoebox some jerk left forgotten under his bed.” James breaks into a full belly laugh. Cola smiles.

The wind shifts, and the tree limbs above rattle. Leaves, vibrant with the colors of joy within grief, life right before death, nature’s allowance without fight or manipulation, drift down. One tiny leaf, bright red with hints of green, lands on James’ shoulder. Cola’s thoughts sway with the wind. She sees her life then. What it is now. A tiny red leaf, a blade of grass, one sea wave about rise, crash, and disappear; she considers the secrets she once promised to never tell and if they really matter anymore.

“Come on, Cola. The gang’s probably wondering where we are and if we’ve been harvested or something. Kid’s probably needing to be fed, and you-” James looks at her unabashedly, “you look about to burst.” Cola’s breasts ache at the reminder, but she pauses. Kid can wait another second or two.

“James, I think I should tell you…”
“Cola, hush, now. It’s okay. I love you for your loyalty.”        

James grabs Cola’s hand and leads her back to camp. Cola knows that in this moment, James thinks that he is being kind. Yet, this silencing stirs something in Cola, and a quiet bitterness begins to brew.

*"Romanesque Arches" by Tomas Tranströmer, from New Collected Poems (Bloodaxe Books, 2011 edition). Translated from the original Swedish by Robin Fulton. Citing from source:
Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Shelter, Katy Comber

Nomads, Installment 1
By Katy Comber

“This will be our shelter for now.”
I look at the camper. Metallic. Round. There’s a reason Bill likes it. Tattered curtains.
“I can fix those.” As with every move, my mind jumps into inventory mode, “The dresses Cola left behind?”
“Use ‘em.”
“Rusted door… hmm. James can fix that.”
“The cinder blocks are crumbling on one side. There’s a junkyard east of here.”
“I saw it.”
“We’ll go there after the post.”
“The post? How much do we have?”
“Well, with Cola and her kid gone we have two less mouths, so that should help. The trade post’s a quarter of a mile from across the lake.”
“How much do we have?”
He doesn’t meet my eyes. This question. It rakes the inside of my throat on the way out. Sometimes words have claws and teeth: animals that attack because it’s in their nature. This constant question is such creature. I see the question slap Bill for ignoring it the first time.
“Enough.” This word hisses a warning. My creature backs off. For now. I swallow other words, my mouth dry, and wonder silently about water. The stiff rotting smell of algae lingers over the lake. Drinking from that is not an option; besides, Cola took our filter. Bill paces over grass until his feet sink in the muck of lakewater and soil. The sounds of mud sucking at Bill’s feet lifting in and out of the gray make my stomach churn. This will be the sound of my temporary home. I try to focus on finding better sounds, but Bill clears his throat and orders me to dig through what we have and make a list of anything we might need.
“I can tell you now. We need--”
“Just dig through. Will you? Then make a list.” There is the hiss. It will be weeks before his voice cools, and by that time we might have to move again.
Shuffling through the trunk of the camaro does not change the mental tally I had before Bill ordered me to go through it, but the task calms me. Possessions do that. Knowing every object we’ve collected on our way, every dent, every smell, every sound of certain things clanging and clattering as we drive--for the past ten years, these things are my only real sense of home. Whenever we find something new, I study it. I memorize its grooves and textures as I clean and fix it up to meet our needs. This is my job.
My eyes scan the trunk and the milk crates that divide all our supplies into the categories of our entire existence. I imagine a museum exhibit dedicated to us, the modern human nomads, curated with a sense of bewilderment at the things we now consider precious to our survival. If there were museums left, anyway.
I feel the shock and rumble that haunts me whenever a memory dares to come... My little hand is held by someone taller and this someone is wonderful and I love her and her eyes and my eyes are the same and she points at something in the sky and her hand tightens and pulls and loosens and she is gone but the hand stays in mine, detached and purposeless. There is rumbling. There is shock. There is darkness. There is Bill, James, and Cola pregnant with her nameless kid. There is survival.
I swipe at my eyes and tug at the ring dangling from my neck. This memory is not welcome. Inventory. I focus and spot the nearly useless radio scanner in the blue crate marked SEARCHING. James staggers behind me and curses as he slips and slides in the impractical shoes he took from a dead man 452 miles ago.
“Heya, Maggs. Taking inventory?”
“A’yup. Orders from Bill.”
“That camper’s a pit.” James reaches into the milk crate marked TOP 5 and grabs a can of WD-40 from under a large pile of duct tape and a couple packs of needles.
“It’s shelter for when night falls.”
“Would you rather take your chances, James?”
“Cola…” his voice cracks and drifts. I can see the rumble and shock haunt James too.
“Just because she and Kid left--”
“Yeah. Yeah. I know. She’s probably fine. Kid too.”
“The showers haven’t been too bad in their section. I was thinking of pulling out the scanner before you wandered over. Maybe we can check?”
“Yeah. Yeah. Okay. Great idea, Maggs. Okay. Ohhhh. Kay.”
“James?” I search his face. His unkempt beard hides most of it, but his eyes are glazed and dreamy.
“I needed it, Maggs.”
Fury boils deep inside me. I try to look down in the hope that inventory will have its sedating effect, but I can’t take my eyes off James. His shirtsleeves, the ones he always has tightly rolled up his forearm, are down. I rush to him and yank them up to see fresh marks up and down his pale skin. “You? You traded?”
“They only wanted a pint for it, Maggs. I swear. Only a pint. With Cola gone--I needed it. Maggs try to understand. Maggs?”
I stop listening after I hear his voice whining her name, sprint back over to the camaro’s glove box, and punch in a code Bill uses when he thinks I’m not looking. The door of the compartment pops open and there it is, two glass vials. One of Bill’s and one of mine. Our blood. Somewhat fresh and the only thing left to trade for human food and filtered water. Bill’s frustration makes complete sense now. We are screwed.

To Be Continued...

Indie Series, Krystle N. Adams

We are so excited about this new web series by Affinity CoLab contributor, Krystle N. Adams. We can't wait for Episode 1! Here's a trailer and a request from the Brooklyn Baby, Jersey Maybe Team. Happy viewing!


List Poem, Hannah Poley

I am
by HM Poley

I am from Steep wooden staircase and the smell of old farmhouse mixed with sweet summer air.
I am from a family with cats who were busy in the kitchen.  I made ginger cookies, Chicken and rice, valentino’s pizza with tiny messy hands.
I am from Escondido, Lincoln, Artas, Herreid, Freeman, Parker, Eagle, and Phoenixville
California, Nebraska, South Dakota, and Pennsylvania where I made my home.
I am from worlds undiscovered in book pages, where magic lives and waiting for my Hogwarts letter.
I am from old farms and pumpkin patches, apple orchards and red wagons.
I am from loneliness and broken friendships
Parents hurting, lives transforming.
I am from hard decisions and painful moments, innocence and youth turned grey to quickly.
Ugly fighting always hiding, scared of who I was becoming.
I am from redemption

All the bad turned beautiful.