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Some Questions for Elaine Medina

Editorial intern Kevin Herrera had a few questions for author Elaine Marie Medina

Is “Buzzing Bees” based on something in your personal life; and, if not, what is “Buzzing Bees” based on — what was the inspiration for writing it?

“Buzzing Bees” in some form is based on a relationship from my youth where I allowed myself to be ruled by my heart, consequences be damned. It was a way to let go of a bad situation that still haunted me. Writing has always been a way for me to sort of exorcise emotional demons and this semester I really let it speak into my writing.

How long did it take you to write “Buzzing Bees” and what was the process like? Was it difficult or easy for you?

I first worked on “Buzzing Bees” last semester. It took me about a week 2 weeks to write it and this semester through the wonderful guidance of the Lit & professors I’ve been better able to get the true essence of what I was trying to express and I hope you guys enjoyed it!

Did COVID impact this piece of work and if so, how did COVID impact this piece of work? Did it make you change, in some way, how you wrote this piece or why you wrote this piece?

Honestly, if it wasn’t for COVID I don’t think “Buzzing Bees” would have ever existed. Due to being out of work and staying home and away from loved ones, I decided to enroll back in school to further my career: but mostly to chase my passion, which has and will always be writing.


Read Elaine’s flash fiction piece “Buzzing Bees”


Image credit: “Pollen Heart,” Danny Perez Photography. Flickr CC BY-NC-ND 2.0. 

Buzzing Bees

by Elaine Medina

Busy worker bees clamored along. Shoppers buzzing around, honing in on flowers and selecting the ones they’d be choosing. The sweet old lady with her grandson, buying him a lollipop that his mother surely would not approve of; but it brought color to his face and made his eyes beam.

“Granny, could we get a slice of pizza before going to mom’s house tonight?”

The supermarket manager had dribbles of saliva flying out of his mouth from yelling at an employee who’d dropped one too many cases of milk: spilling the liquid like a white flood coming to engulf her and sweep her away. Maybe if it did then I wouldn’t feel so lost. Thinking of a man who is with another– who has always been with another — leaving me like a wilted flower that all the bees seem to overlook–

“How many times am I going to have to take this out of your pay?! Maybe I should just fire you!”

All these bees buzzed and zipped around, not even noticing me. Was it finally happening? Was I finally disappearing, the way he had from my life? The way he’d just thrown me away like I didn’t matter. Maybe I don’t.

I tried to focus on the one-sided cell phone conversation with my friend but lacked the energy. Without my bee I couldn’t focus. But I had to try. He has another. He has another; I kept telling myself. I had to let him go.

“Gwen, are you even listening?” Was I even listening? No. I had no desire for this phone call to continue, but I knew deep down Rose did it out of love. She knew the state I was in. But it was pointless. She was just another droning sound. Another bee buzzing at me. As I stood there in the middle of all these busy bees in the supermarket aisle, I wondered why I even came out to this store? Why did I want to be around all these bees, buzzing and searching when I didn’t know what it was I was searching for?

Then I remembered Rose insisting I start getting my life back in order. To try and forget the man who only wanted my heart in stolen moments. Moments I would give just to have him, even if only for a little while.

“I see him,” I said to Rose. I saw my bee. I saw Devin. After being apart for so long.

“Who? Who do you see?,” came from the cellphone, barely resonating when my eyes were on my bee. On my love yet not love. Because he wasn’t mine. I needed to remember this.

“No one. I have to call you back. I think it’s my coworker.” I pressed the glaring red button to end the call three times just to make sure I’d actually done it.

I lied of course, because if Rose knew who I saw, she’d scream at me to run the other way — even when I couldn’t. My body would never let me. He was like a magnet, pulling me to him.

I could see him through the stacked cans of beans. Could he see me?

Yes. YES. He did. He saw me. He did! He walked towards me. He was coming for me. Coming back to me. He needed me like I needed him. I was his Queen. All the other worker bees buzzed out of his way. And he buzzed out of my way too. Walked right past me.

“Devin…” I called out. But he kept walking.

And I did the only stupid thing I could do before he was gone.

I reached out for him.

I knew I shouldn’t. He for once in our sordid relationship did the right thing, and here I was after everything I told myself after two months apart. Desperate to reach him, when I should be pushing him away; I just couldn’t bring myself to retract my fingers.

I grasped his coat tugging him towards me.

“Devin…” What I wanted to say was I miss you and pick me. I’m yours, not her. But all I could say was his name.

“Gwendolyn. I didn’t see you. Hey.”

I stood there gaping at him. If we’d been in a cartoon, my mouth would have dropped to the floor.

Those were the words that left his mouth after two months apart? He no longer recognized me or knew who I was? I was just this forgettable thing. Something you had to make a sticky note for because he just couldn’t bother to remember me. Couldn’t bother to realize how he’d just ripped me to shreds again.

The buzzing in my chest intensified. The bees gathered around my heart protecting their hive after I opened it and left it exposed again. I knew better and yet at the first sight of him, I went right back.

I let go of him, feeling the burn of his words on my fingertips, like I’d grazed my fingers too close to a candle. Because that’s what Devin was: the beautiful flame dancing atop a candle. So alluring, enticing a bee to its own demise.

I wanted to melt into the shoppers buzzing around us, trying to ignore the show I just put on. I grabbed the basket with the little groceries I’d left discarded and rounded the aisle to make my way to the cashier, but now Devin stood, blocking my path.

“Am I still so invisible you don’t see that you’re blocking my way?”

“I’m sorry I–.”

“Sorry for being an utter and complete asshole or sorry for blocking my way?” I knew I was being immature but at that point I didn’t care. I wanted to hurt him how he’d just hurt me yet again.

“I suppose both.” He gave me that lopsided grin that used to disarm me. I could feel the bees buzzing near my heart, their hackles raised more than my own.

“Marvelous. Wonderful, you supposed both.”

I tried to side step him but he blocked my way again.

“Is this what you wanted? To have me still pining for you? Well revel in the tiny glimpse you almost saw of you having any sway over my life, my emotions, my being because I will never allow you to do that– this to me again. You will never have power over me. I am a Queen. I am–”

And he did the only thing that could have probably stopped me from going further into my tirade.

He kissed me.

He consumed me. Gripping my shoulders, pulling me to him, setting my body alight and all the bees in my chest hummed with pleasure. With no regard for the shoppers buzzing around us. Without a care for who might see us as we held onto each other — with everything we had our bodies melding and mouths devouring one another under the fluorescent lights of the supermarket aisle, with shelves of pastas and sauces surrounding us.

He took until I had no more to give and was too exhausted to fight.

Devin I’ve lost you,” I heard her say from one of the other aisles, “did you get the sauces?”

Hearing her voice incensed the bees in my chest and they wrapped around my heart, bringing me to my senses.

The hands that were just gripping his chest now pushed away. He released my shoulders and I immediately missed the heat of his touch. I stared at his mouth thinking of what we just did, and that it changed nothing.

“You’re here with your wife.” It wasn’t a question, but a statement. I’d know her voice anywhere.

“Yes. I’m here with her.”

I turned away before he could see the tears fighting to be released.

I went to move around him and leave the aisle and this time he relented.

As I made it to the register I saw her join him with their cart full of things for their life together.

We locked eyes one final time, as if reaching for each other.. Hearts and souls wanting each other.

But never meant to have each other.

The bee buzzed back to his queen.

And I thought: maybe I wasn’t a queen, or the flower Devin would ever choose. Maybe I’m just a bee who’d lost her way.

 


Check out our questions for Elaine Medina.


Elaine Marie Medina writes fiction and poems. She was born and raised in the Bronx. She is a Daycare Provider, but don’t judge a book by its cover.


Image credit: “Honey Bees,” BluDawson. Flickr CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

This Story Has a Ghost In It

by Earthnova 

Veronica was in a spacious office. The well-polished furniture and loosely packed bookcase resembled a minimalist but not modern aesthetic, and the large windows had a view of the gridlocked traffic below that stretched for miles. 

“So, Ms. Veronica, why did you apply to work for me?” He laid down the resume he had pretended to read and leaned back slightly in his leather chair. Veronica concentrated to ignore her hunger pangs and drowsiness and smiled brightly.

I am an avid reader so when I saw the ad to work for the best writer of our age, I knew I had to jump at the chance,” she said. As she maintained direct eye contact, the same way she practiced while on the previous dozen interviews that week, she could see his blue irises had green straight diagonal lines in them that intersected with his pupils.

Well, I’m flattered to say the least,” he said. “To tell you the truth I owe all of my success to my story consultants.” He sat upright. “And one of the perks is that you can spend most of your time reading anything I have in the lobby that you will be working from. So I hope you’ll make use of that.” She stared at him with a neutral expression, expecting to hear a downside. “In short, other than setting appointments and maintaining my calendar the only ‘work’ you will be doing here is making sure I am not interrupted, under any circumstance, when I am speaking with my story consultants,” he said sternly and gestured to the empty chair next to Veronica.

Take Reggie here for example. Just because he is a ghost and therefore cannot be seen, everyone assumes they can barge in here and demand my attention whenever my office looks empty. This can stop the groove we were in, wasting the whole day.”

…What?” she said, with her smile cracking. Veronica began to think quickly, replaying in her mind the previous minute of noises coming from the author’s mouth and she pondered how she could have misheard what was said so badly. 

“Oh, I should explain. See, all of my story consultants are ghosts of people who died before finishing that great book they were working on. I write it for them, and then with all of their earthly business done, they can get to the afterlife.” 

Veronica started to grip the arm rests of her chair. “What?” she said with a small panic in her voice. She realized she did not mishear, he actually believed that he saw ghosts. Dread and disappointment overtook Veronica in equal measure. 

“That’s how I became the preeminent ghost writer you see before you,” he said with a rakish grin. She frowned. 

“That’s not what the phrase ‘ghost writer’ means. In fact, I’m pretty sure that is the reverse of what it means.” 

“Oh, tomato potato,” he said dismissively. He looked over to the empty chair. “Really? I think I’ve heard it my way before,” he said as if he was talking to someone.

Veronica looked back-and-forth between the empty chair and the author. “And you can see these ghosts, how?” she asked. 

“Inherited. People like me who were born with angelsight,” he said while gesturing to his eyes. “Have the ability to see the unseen. Some of us see through walls, some see cancer, I see ghosts.” 

“If it’s from your eyes, how can you hear them?” she asked with increasing incredulity. 

“I don’t … know.” He said after a pause without confidence. His head perked up and he glanced at the empty chair. “Yeah, that is possible,” he said to nobody.

Do you expect me to believe that you built your career by stealing stories from ghosts?” she asked while staring him down. He became irate. 

“OK, so first of all, I don’t steal anything. In exchange for writing their stories down, and taking credit, their torment of clinging onto the mortal coil ends. That is completely fair. Secondly, I don’t expect you to believe anything. I expect you to tell appointments: ‘Sorry, a story consultant just stopped by so your meeting has been pushed back. He will be with you shortly, please wait here,’ while I conduct my business with people like Reggie here.” He said while nodding his head to the chair that still looked empty.

Veronica realized she had wasted her time again. Although she had not decided if he was a charlatan or a loon, she was sure that working here would have no future. This was just like that pyramid scheme she spent 6 hours interviewing for the day before last.

 “Oh, uh… Look at the time!” she said, looking at her bare wrist. She forgot she had to pawn the watch she usually wears on it to pay for her resume printing. “I have somewhere else I have to be.” She proceeded to stand up while the author lunged forward with a hand outstretched.

 “Wait! I give unlimited vacation days, payroll is run weekly, and the health plan has a zero dollar copay,” he said quickly. She cocked her head.

 “What’d you say?” 

“Unlimited vacation days.” 

“No, after that.” 

“Zero dollar copay.” 

“No, between the two.” 

“… Payroll is run weekly?”

One week later…

“Sorry, a story consultant just stopped by so your meeting has been pushed back,” Veronica said casually between bites of her overpriced sandwich. “He will be with you shortly, please wait here.” 

The man standing before her sighed and turned to sit on the plush bench on the other side of the lobby. But he immediately spun back around to face Veronica: “It is absolutely vital that I speak with him now. Otherwise his contract with the studio will eliminate residuals entirely.” 

“That does sound important, but so is your client hearing from his consultants,” she said, and then added “Unless you can pass through walls too, you’ll have to wait until he’s ready.” 

“What do you mean ‘pass through walls too’?”

 


Listen to an interview with editorial intern Jin Martin and author Earthnova


Earthnova is a File Clerk from Ridgewood Queens. They are currently enrolled at LaGuardia pursuing a degree in Liberal Arts: Social Science and Humanities. Their likes include Anime, Card Games, and Stand-up Comedy. Their dislikes include Social Media and Flash Photography.


Image credit: Sit Over There, Thomas Hawk. Flickr CC BY-NC 2.0.

Whatever Will Be, Will Be

by Alicia Evans 

Sharon contemplated calling the whole thing off so many times before. She finally accepted her fate, as she let out a quiet sigh. Sharon ran both hands down the front and sides of her dress, an act that she often used to calm her nerves. She was fitted for her wedding dress two months ago, but today she had to add an extra spandex waist trainer. “If only you lost those last three pounds,” she could hear her mother say. Sharon looked in the bedazzled mirror and tucked a loose strand of hair behind her ear. Absolutely nothing could be out of place today. She forced a wide smile on her face and prayed that no one noticed the dark clouds in her eyes.

When she walked into the room, Sharon caught a whiff of the gardenias that engulfed the bridal suite. The scent triggered a feeling of sadness. There were over fifty gardenia floral arrangements at her mother’s funeral: her mother’s favorite flowers. Kenneth said it would be a good idea to double the amount of flowers from that day, on their wedding day.

The room buzzed with activity: her bridesmaids in one corner sipping champagne and laughing and the two photographers walking around snapping pictures. As Sharon reached for her bouquet, the hair on the back of her neck stood up.

Sharon had planned her fairytale wedding since age nine. Nothing overlooked, except what to do when the groom plans everything. Sharon lived her life preparing to meet her king. Attended a Historically Black College, got a good job, always dressed to impress because she never knew where he may be. The day Sharon met Kenneth she knew he was the one. He met all her requirements. He was attentive to her needs and wants. He delighted in Sharon spending every free moment with him. Sharon thought his affection for her was special. It was not until this last year that things changed. Now, according to Kenneth, Sharon could not do anything right. When she cooked, it was either not cooked well enough or overcooked. He acted one way in the privacy of their home but then a totally different way in the public’s eye. Kenneth was the king chameleon.

“All relationships have their problems,” her mother told her one night, when Sharon went to her crying and scared. Problems were one thing, but this was something else. After a fight Kenneth would always cry and apologize. He would shower her with lavish gifts and declare his love for her. Sharon had wondered if Kenneth’s domineering and abusive personality was always there.

He even insisted that he take Sharon to David’s Bridal to shop for her wedding dress. What should have been a special day between Sharon and her maid of honor Chantel, Kenneth instead found a way to impose himself into the festivities. Kenneth chose a Cinderella style dress with a long train, which Sharon hated. She preferred the Mermaid style dress with a detachable train. After two hours Kenneth stormed out of the showroom, threatening that she could get home on her own. With her head hung she walked back to the fitting room. In a low voice with her back towards the attendant she whispered, “I say yes to the Cinderella dress with the twelve foot train.”

Chantel entered the bridal suite and rushed towards Sharon. She sensed something was wrong by the grave look on Chantel’s face.

Chantel’s mouth moved but Sharon did not hear anything Chantel said. Sharon focused her attention on the bouquet of gardenias. These were her mother’s favorite flowers, not hers, she thought. Her mother thought Kenneth was the best her daughter could do. The date was set, the room booked, and Kenneth had made the final payment for the reception. Two months ago, her mother passed away. Sharon knew she should have called the wedding off then, but she had promised her mother to continue with their plans to marry.

“Sharon, did you hear me? Kenny is not here,” Chantel said, and Sharon felt Chantel move closer.

Kenneth hated when Chantel called him Kenny. Each time she said his name, his lip would curl up in a tight grin. Sharon told Chantel numerous times to stop calling him that, but Chantel just rolled her eyes and said, “what is the big deal? Everyone knows Kenny is short for Kenneth.” Sharon thought to herself: “the big deal is that each time you call him Kenny I have to deal with his anger.”

Chantel went on to explain that Kenneth had chosen to drive himself to the hotel, saying that he had a last minute surprise for his bride. Chantel’s voice quivered, and Sharon realized that Chantel was actually worried more than she could ever be. “Sharon, please turn around and look at me.” Chantel put her hand on Sharon’s shoulder, urging her to turn around.

Sharon remembered watching the Alfred Hitchcock classic The Man Who Knew Too Much with her mother. Her mother hummed along with Doris Day the song “Que Sera Sera” and Shannon asked her mother what it meant. Her mother’s reply was “whatever will be, will be.”

Chantel was still talking. When Sharon finally turned, she could see the worry etched on Chantel’s face. As Sharon glanced around the room, she no longer saw the beautiful flowers. She saw the faces of her bridesmaids with wide open mouths and bulging eyes. The photographers huddled in a corner. A collective gasp could be heard. Sharon felt like the right thing to do would be to say something, but when she opened her mouth nothing came out. Sharon silently wished she could make herself cry, because this would have been the perfect moment to have a single tear run down her cheek. She should be worried that something may have happened to Kenneth. He could have had an accident and been hurt. Slowly Sharon exhaled; she had not realized she was holding her breath. Sharon closed her eyes and said a prayer. She did not wish anything bad on Kenneth but she believed — just maybe God — was answering her prayers.

Sharon grabbed up the corner of her dress, struggling with the twelve foot train that Kenneth had insisted on. Once Sharon was able to manage walking without tripping over the monstrous train, she walked slowly to the door, turned around with a sparkle in her eyes, face glowing and said, “Que Sera Sera.”

Sharon took her left hand and in one smooth motion tossed her bouquet, and with it the past. She swung open the door and danced out of the room singing, “Whatever will be, will be.”

 


Check out our Questions for Alicia Evans.


Alicia Evans is a student at LaGuardia Community College CUNY. She lives in Saint Albans, New York.


Image credit: “Gardenia,” Paul VanDerWerf. Flickr CC BY 2.0.

Texas Flood

by John Puga


John Puga is a Brooklyn-based artist who has been studying photography, art, and design for over 18-years. He came to New York City from San Antonio, Texas, to study photography at LaGuardia Community College. His photography explores the beauty in everyday life’s overlooked moments. He has a B.F.A. in Computer Graphic Arts (2012) and an M.A. in Communication Arts (2016) from the University of the Incarnate Word. You can see more of his work via his website: pugarazzi.com.

Inversion

by Irving Rodriquez


Irving Rodriguez is a traditional artist born in the Dominican Republic. His feelings of being Dominican are expressed through art, using complementary colors to represent his personas and he attempts to use the concept of dualism by using his palette divergently. Irving likes to experiment with pens and uses dry mediums involving chalk pastels, graphite pencils, and charcoal. Irving’s main interest is exploring how lines react and form to create one final product.

Smiles in February

by Jeremy Orozco


Jeremy Orozco (b. 1995) is a photographer from New York City. In 2021, he is currently studying to receive his degree in Commercial Photography. He is passionate about Photojournalism as well as cultivating images that speak and give light to subjects that are often overlooked.

Some Questions for Madelyn Romero-Melgar

We had some questions for author Madelyn Romero-Melgar

What inspired you to write “Into This World”?

When we were asked to write a “home” piece, it was really hard because I moved a lot and I never felt that “home” feeling, even until this day it still feels like something is missing. I was inspired to personify my old homes by Colson Whitehead’s “City Limits” where he talks about being a New Yorker and what stories your old apartments would tell. I liked the idea of my old addresses being sort of an old babysitter that looked after me and taught me things. I was also heavily inspired to open up by Sonia Alejandra Rodriguez’s “Witness Mami Roar.” I cried deep belly tears reading her essay and related with it so much.

What was your writing process like for this piece?

I did not intend for my essay to end the way it did. I actually left my mom looking like the bad guy at first, but the more I revised it and started finding the double meaning to “welcomed into this world.” I realized that she never felt at home either and she struggled to be accepted in this “world” that we were more easily accepted in because we were born here. This piece helped me open my eyes about a lot of things as I wrote it.

How has COVID impacted your creative work?

Because of the pandemic, I had time to go back to school and take a writing course. I think the quarantine helped me slow down and reflect on a few things. I forgot that I loved reading and writing. What has happened during the pandemic is tragic and it still feels very hard but I would say writing again is the silver lining to it for me.


Read Madelyn’s nonfiction flash “Into This World.”


Image credit: “Apartments,” Stu Rapley. Flickr CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

Towel

by Stella Gleitsman

I thought a towel in my room was a man today
I thought a clothing rack was a man when I went out shopping
I thought there was a man behind the shower curtain this morning.
I keep on being a delusional woman
I keep on seeing shit that’s not there
Is this what being a girl is?

Having a vision that is untrustworthy, a mind playing all these tricks on you.
Making these accusations,
yelling at nothing, screaming at clouds,
At all the birds who pierce through them.
I tell everyone how small that boy made me feel
How he violated my spiritual space, harassed my body.
They burst out laughing, tell me, everything’s fine, no one’s out to get you, relax.
But I can’t relax, see, I am afraid of everything, even shadow puppets.
I see a man everywhere
I see a death everywhere
And aren’t they just about the same thing?
You see the man and then the woman’s body turns up a day later, bloated, mangled, frozen, ripped to shreds.
At times I think what I’m seeing are ghosts, stuck here, going through the motions of violence until it ends differently.
The ghosts are ten feet tall and breathing down my neck, eyeing my every move.
I am frozen and shaky and stupid before them.
I’ve noticed I’m always waiting for male violence to end differently,
to end in softness,
in tears, in love poems.

But the truth is that man was waiting for me to get out of the shower
The clothing rack man had been stalking me in my closet for weeks
The towel followed me home from the corner store– blocked my path, asked me to come back to his place
When I said nothing — when I said I needed to get home
He covered me in his starchy terry cloth
He wrung me out dry
I don’t bathe for years,
I reek of sweat
My hair in knots
Oh, I’m so tired of soap
Oh, I’m so hungry for dirt.

 


Listen to Stella Gleitsman read her poem “Towel.”

 


Stella Gleitsman grew up in the Lower East Side of Manhattan and is a Writing and Literature major in her freshman year at LaGuardia. She has been writing poetry ever since she was 13 years old, often about mental health, feminism, Jewish identity, and spirituality. She views poetry as a place of healing, catharsis– a safe place to speak freely–and hopes that her poetry can connect with others and touch their lives in some way. You can find her on Instagram @stell__uh, and as well as her poetry account, at the handle @stellaisapoet.


Image credit: “Towel,” Kevin Steinhardt. Flickr CC BY-SA 2.0.