Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Round 3


And the pretty girl circles the ring...

E-mail us at if you'd like to participate. The deadline will be August 1st. Round 3's titles will be culled from the catalog of Jimi Hendrix's song titles. And of course tell your friends.


A reminder: We only require that your story maintain the title we assign - length, genre, form, etc. are all up to you. Part of the excitement, we feel, is having this unique combination of freedom and pressure. You have a deadline, and the smallest starting point, but beyond that it is your satisfaction and your satisfaction only that need be satiated. Outside of what is academic, outside of what is conventional, write freely.

That said, we will reject pieces. Some editors, to state the obvious, will be more finicky than others. We can tell when you're swinging for the fences, and that's (almost exclusively) what we want to see.


Another note: We appreciate the patience from both readers and writers. We are admittedly new at this and are working out the kinks. A little insight: This is being operated by three editors and we are round robin-ing the responsibilities. Not having developed a skeleton for this thing, we've encountered some inconsistencies between editors. This will continue to a degree - however, we will of course learn from our experiences and develop a somewhat more consistent e-journal philosophy as we move along.

Thank you again for your patience and for being the most important part of this.

Monday, June 14, 2010

I Got This Bruise Stage Diving by Matt Hegdahl

Lie. It’s what I do best, the only thing I’ve ever really excelled at. I spent my childhood constantly avoiding punishment from my mother’s soft but violent hand. I had to learn the art of the lie. I had to develop my skill set and, with age, was able to fine-tune it. The lie, for me, has become a thing of beauty.


The chair in the therapist’s office is comfortable, leather and at times a bit sticky, but, nonetheless, it serves its purpose. She thinks she knows, she thinks she’s peered into my soul. She believes that because of her efforts I have realized my true desires.

Her legs cross, just enough skin showing to be sexy but not too much to be unprofessional.

“How have you been dealing with the dreams?” Her pencil taps her notepad in anticipation.

“What I’ve decided, more like the…no, well I don’t know, with the abruptness of the death and everything I feel like it, ha…I’m not sure.”

“I understand.” A strand of hair drops in her face; she ignores it as she scribbles something on the pad. “Same time next week?” She asks.


My girlfriend is a different story. She doesn’t think she knows anything. I think she knows quite a bit, just nothing about me. I don’t know what it is, but there’s something about damaged goods that turn me on. If I’m walking through a grocery store I get a rush at the site of bent cans or crushed cracker boxes. Bruised fruit is my Achilles Heel. I love her—at least I’m pretty sure I do. I fake the majority of my life, and with that much faking, it becomes difficult for me to decide what’s real and what’s manifested. That aside, I’m pretty sure I love her.

She’s damaged in all the right areas. When she was little, her parents split. Not on her, just with each other. I don’t think it was so much the divorce that destroyed her, just the inability to choose a side. Her parents are extremists when it comes to pacifism. In fact, they’re certifiably insane when it comes to love, compassion and peace. The divorce is shrouded in “I love you” and “We just weren’t right for each other.” So there she is, four or five or something, and her parents split. Her dad moves a block down the street, and they agree to joint custody. She has free reign of both houses and does whatever she wants. She’s never punished, never given a curfew and always given everything she wanted. She forms issues with her father not caring enough, her mother not being overbearing enough, her independence not being inhibited enough, and her biggest issue becomes the lack of guidance.

She was given the opportunity to do whatever she wanted, make her own life decisions. Money was not a problem in her family. She had the best tutors, the best schools, the best teachers, best toys. She had everything and still could not find happiness.

It’s like karma blessed her with the curse of a fortunate life. Imagine it, karma comes down and hears a mother and father discussing divorce. Karma sees this little girl, four or five or something, and this little girl is crying. Karma, having all this compassion that she does, decides that this little girl will never struggle.

What karma didn’t know is that this girl wanted struggle; she wanted torment and pain. She tried to make it happen, she tried to date the wrong boys, hang out with the wrong crowds, and she even tried getting hooked on drugs. Everything she attempted always ended up working out in her favor. The boys she’d approach would have a sudden change of heart and no longer want to just have sex with someone. They were looking for a meaningful relationship. The groups with black makeup and cigarettes dangling from their mouths would turn to healthy lifestyles and become the model for a “good friend.” It was hopeless for her. She wanted nothing more than pain and misery in her life. She wanted to be treated poorly and know what it’s like to feel lost or confused or wrong. She thought college would fix everything.

The same thing happened to her in college, she had such an aura about her that everyone continued to change for the better while all she wanted was to be bad. She had heard girls cry about the terrible things their boyfriends would do to them, the horrific experiences that came with one-night-stands. She heard stories of the fear of having missed a period, the depression and regret of having to drop out of school because of a baby and the depression and regret of going to a clinic in order to stay in school. She heard all of these things, saw the sadness, the stupidity of it and wanted nothing more than to have to deal with it.

As expected, she breezed through college, found a great job with great pay and remained so extremely miserable that she spent all her free time thinking about how miserable she wished her life was.


I’m not an avid follower of the band “Anal Cunt,” but I do enjoy the crowd that they attract. It’s similar to watching a white supremacist inspect himself for fleas while his sister scrubs his back with a dead porcupine that soaked in moonshine for the last three days then adding a death metal aspect to the whole ratio. These guys know how to let a crowd enjoy the simple pleasures in life. Circle pits, mosh pits, thrash pits and anything else you could ever wish to find at a death metal concert. I find myself at times, searching for a beating. Not the kind of thing you get from one on one punishment but the thing that just happens when there’s nothing more than a group fists flying through the air, and they don’t care if it’s your face that stops them.

She shows up simply because of the band name. She saw a poster at some obscure coffee shop. The name screamed at her, but she wasn’t sure until she checked out the music. After seeing songs with titles like “Hitler was a Sensitive Man” and “Van Full of Retards.” She knew she would not be disappointed.

I crawl out of the crowd, bleeding from the nose. My face was raw from other people fists. On my hands and knees, I grope for the wall or whatever and what I grab is her. She helps me to my feet, and I see it, the beauty in her eyes, the suppleness of her lips. Her hair, it’s amazing.

She looks at my face and started dabbing the blood away from my nose with a handkerchief. Next thing I know I’m in a car with her, she’s driving, it all goes a little blank. I wake up, partially undressed, blood-free, in a bed.

“I’m assuming you were on something, some sort of drug.” She says as she walks into the room with a cup of coffee.

“Whiskey.” I say bluntly as I gladly take the cup. I put it to my lips and drink in the darkness.

“I’m worried about your face. What happened to you last night?”

I look around for a mirror. No luck, so I used my coffee cup, the black liquid reflects a face that had been beaten badly. “I got this bruise stage diving.” I tell her. It would be one of the few times she hears the truth from me.

“Does it hurt?” She asks.

I gently put a finger to my swollen cheek, fight the instinct to wince and say, “Nah, it’s not bad.” I give her a smile, a wink then a nod. “You’re a sexy little thing. Why would you bring me home?”

She smiles, moves toward me and says. “I felt sorry for you, and I thought you were cute.”

And that was that. The easiest time in bed I’d ever had. After that, a week went by, I didn’t call. She didn’t call. Eventually, I hit a dry spell, so I called her. She was down, so it was golden. This went on for a while, and I thought I’d scored the lottery.

It wasn’t three months after we met at the concert that we went from “friends with benefits” to “full on relationship.” I haven’t changed shit, and she likes it that way. I still go to nasty metal concerts and bang even nastier metal bitches. I make my way home and sometimes spend the night with her afterwards. I lie to her constantly.


I’m at the therapist’s office.

“Okay shrink,” I say, “What am I supposed to do about this dude that keeps wanting the same thing, and he never cares that I can’t deliver because of some lame excuse I give him?”

Pen in hand, she taps the notebook. “He knows you’re not telling the truth?” She asks.

“Of course he knows, there’s no way he couldn’t know, he’d be a moron to believe me!”

“You’re positive he knows you’re lying to him?” She asks again.

“Yes!” I can’t help but put my head in my hands.

“I wish I could help you, but our time has ended. Take a few moments throughout the week and reflect on what you’ve told me. Give it some thought, and try to decide if, in fact, this man truly knows you’re lying to him, or it’s only that you wish he knew. I’ll see you next week.” With that she closes her notebook sends me out the door.


Later that week, I’m at the bar with Bukowski, drinking beer and reading poetry. I’m thinking about women and taking advice from the master. There are parts of me that want to smack the shit out of myself, other times I feel like I need to smack the shit out of her. I’m torn because I don’t know if she knows. I decide to test it.

“Hey babe, I’m going out with some friends of mine from the gym tonight.” I tell her.

“That’s nice, who are they?” She asks.

“Just some of the girls from the yoga class I enrolled in. You know, real flexible and in really great shape.”

“That’s nice, you coming back tonight or staying out all night?” She asks me as though it’s not a problem.

“I don’t know, we’ll see where things lead,” I say. With that I walk out of the house and down the street. I get less than a block away, and I’m practically screaming on the inside. My inner-self is joyous. My soul is confused, and my conscience has resurrected. I feel free and terrible and bored and angry. I’m pissed that she knows but happy that I can do whatever I want. That night I sleep in the backyard. I avoid the house just to test her.


My therapist taps her pen on her bare knee. She’s wearing that cute outfit, it’s not showing enough to be sexy, but it’s showing just enough to perk up my imagination and for me to determine that she’s cute. I stare at her. I haven’t been sleeping the greatest due to my tests.

“So, did you find out if your friend knows?” She asks.

“Oh, I’ve found out plenty, more than I wanted to know.” I notice that she’s looking at me in an odd way. I’m excited about this. “He knows everything, he knows that I’m out-right lying to him and doesn’t care, I might as well rub it in his face.”

“You haven’t?” She asks.

“No. Should I?”

“Have you talked to him about the lies? Have you taken the initiative in the relationship and brought it up?” She asks. I stare at her eyes and feel like she’s trying so hard to peer into my soul, past the lies and trying to get to the truth.


Another night later down the road, she’s getting ready to settle down with a book. I’m trying to work up the energy to go out. My goal is simple: get laid. I feel like she doesn’t care.

“You just gonna read again tonight?” I ask.

“Yeah, this is really good book. Are you going out?”

“Maybe.” I’m trying to be blunt.

“What are you doing?” She asks.

“A little of this and a little of that, I might not be home tonight.”

“That’s nice, just have a good time,” she says.


The leather sticks to my arms; it’s hot outside, and my therapist is too cheap to turn on the air conditioner. I’m not happy.

“So you talked to him about your issue?” She scribbles something down on her pad.

“Sort of.”

“What do you mean?”

“I’ve been very direct with the fact that I’m not being a loyal friend, but he doesn’t seem to care. I feel like I have free reign, and I’m not sure what to do with this much freedom.” This is as honest as I feel like getting with her. I’m struggling here, and I’ve found myself actually trying to use my therapist for therapy. It’s shameful is what it is.

“I don’t know what else to tell you. The truth is the best.” She put pen to paper and scribbles again. “Our time is up. See you next week?”


It’s raining outside, I can’t stand it any longer. My cell tells me it’s close to 12:30 in the morning; I’m wet, cold and pretty sure I’m forming an inner-ear infection. Defeated, I enter the house and find her in bed, reading a book. The covers are pulled up to her waist, and she’s sitting up in bed holding the book with both hands, the way people sit in bed and read books.

“You’re home early,” she says as she smiles at me.

Water leaks from my shoes onto her nice white carpet as I put one foot in front of the other. I walk to the bed and don’t even bother removing my wet clothes before plopping down on the bed. “I can’t get laid,” I say bluntly.

“I’m sorry.” She says.

“You should be!” I scream at her, “I have been completely unable to be unfaithful to you for the last few months! Do you know what it’s like to try to pull a piece of ass when your girlfriend is home all alone, sitting in bed, reading some book? Do you know what it’s like?” I fall backwards on the comforter. “it’s impossible.”

She carefully places the receipt she uses as a makeshift bookmark in between the pages, closes the book and places it on her lap. Her head turns, and I see a just a little bit of a tear in her eye. She composes herself and says to me, “You’ll just have to work on that then.” The book gets placed on her nightstand. She turns off the light and goes to bed.

I’m not sure what this is. The one time I’m honest with her, truly honest with her, and I’m left in a puddle of my own confusion. There is a feeling of something inside me, love or whatever it is, I’m not sure, but what I do know is that it’s for her. I know that I want to make her happy, which means I’m going to be spending a lot of nights out in the backyard, pretending like I’m out getting shit-faced and laid.

-This title comes from the immortal Conan O’Brien. He's going through a rough patch.
-Matt Hegdahl has his BA in English and Theater from Southwest Minnesota State University. He is also the author of the play Bottle Necked .

Sunday, June 6, 2010

This and Other Near-Misses by Jimmy Callaway


“Bronson? Bronson! You all right?”

Bronson, with numb fingers, felt the bullet hole in the wooden fence, just up and to the right of his head. “Jesus,” he said.

Mal pulled his nine from the small of his back. Bringing the gun up with his right hand, he braced it with his left and emptied it at Jorge’s Impala as it barreled down Meade.


The after-game party at Tanya Jackson’s was huge since Tanya’s parents were in Seattle for a week. Tupac boomed incessantly inside, but Mal sat alone in the backyard, putting a huge dent in Mr. Jackson’s bottle of Black Label.

Nobody wanted to talk to him, and that was just fine. All his teammates thought he was a weirdo, and that was fine, too. If he could play basketball without them, he would. But he couldn’t, so there you go.

After a while, he didn’t want to push through the house to get to the bathroom, so he went around the corner to take a piss.

Voices wafted to him from the front yard. An angry voice, a timid voice. Mal stepped quietly over to the side gate.

“Where your homies at now, bitch?”

Jenkins did not, in fact, look too fuckin’ tough, Mal thought. Tanya’s boyfriend, a 23-year-old psycho named Shorty towered over him. Word was he’d already been in prison a couple of times. He was wearing a brand new Bulls jacket.

“Man, I ain’t even tryin’ to fuck with you,” Jenkins said.

“I got my own back, bitch. See? This what a man look like, motherfucker.”

Mal stuck his arm through the bars of the side gate, careful not to tap the Black Label bottle on the iron. Once he had his arm all the way through, Mal closed one eye and took aim. He was way too drunk to be doing this. He pulled back and threw the bottle.

Jenkins actually screamed when the bottle exploded on Shorty’s head, putting the dude on his face in broken glass and cheap Scotch. When Jenkins’s eyes finally landed on Mal leaning against the side gate, Mal gave him a little wave.

“Mal, Jesus Christ!” Jenkins let out a shaky breath. “Way to be on point, man.”

Mal shrugged.


The Impala swerved to the left, overcorrected to the right, and plowed itself into one of those bulky SDG&E transformer things, decorated with finger-paints by a local fourth grade class.

The neighborhood flickered and went dark.

“Jesus,” Bronson said.



“Hey, Mal! Shit, I haven’t seen you in a dog’s age. How’ve you been?”

“All right. What you drinkin’?”

“No, no, no, I’m buying this round. Barkeep!”

Even though they’d lost touch, Bronson had known Mal pretty much all of his life. And here, ten rounds later, Mal was probably talking more than he’d ever heard before. Must be the Black Label.

“Hey, man, shit,” Mal said, “So ya lost yer fuckin’ job, so what?”

“I gotta eat, Mal, y’know. I mean...I gotta eat, right?”

“Yes. Yes, yes, yes, you do, Bronson, but here’s the thing. Here’s the thing: there’s a difference ‘tween working and making money. See?”

“No. No, I don’t see at all.”

“Well, you don’t worry ‘bout it. You and me, we’ll go into business. Forget about it.” Mal raised his glasses and wiped at his face. “And this broad? Forget about that, too.”



“Yeah. I mean, at least she, y’know, gave me the fuckin’ ring back. Can’t, uh...can’t take that from her.”

“Lemme, hey, lemme ask you this. And don’t think about, like, just answer. Don’t even think about it.”

“All right.”

“Like, don’t even think about it. This broad, when she gave you back yer ring there, what was your first gut feeling: depressed? Or relieved?”


“Bronson? Bronson! C’mon, man, let’s get the fuck outta here.”

Bronson touched the hole again. The wood was warm. He let Mal pull him away down the darkened block. Sirens rose in the distance.

“C’mon, man,” Mal said, “You all right? Are you hit at all?” He began patting Bronson down some.

“No, I’m good, man.”


“Yeah. I’m, y’know.” Bronson let out a shaky breath. “Relieved.”

-This title comes form Michael Moore’s Twitter account in regards to a plane he was on almost missing the runway…or something like that.
-Jimmy is the tireless line-editor of Cameron Ashley and Josh Converse and has a Blog Spot blog you should all check out. It’s

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

"The Most Beautiful Woman in the World Died Today" by Jessica Fokken

It began in April.

There had been clues, a few untimely deaths, whispers of something more malevolent. Rumors spread across the Internet, started, of course, by bloggers piecing the events together—such things were often more than coincidence, they claimed—before anyone else took it seriously.

Shakira was the first. The singer’s latest album was set to drop in a couple months, the first single a few weeks before. Based on the reception and phenomena of the Lady Gaga music videos, and now Christina Aguilera’s NSFW, Madonna-eque video, Shakira’s record producers brought in a director with a vision, something sexy yet with some sarcastic, self-aware humor. Shakira grinned at her costume in wardrobe. Her make-up was dramatic, her long hair down and tousled, and she wore a thin black mask across her eyes. The costumer handed her a black bodysuit reminiscent of a particular comic book character, and they spent the next thirty minutes pulling and stretching the fabric around her curves, each giggling at the process and the imagined product. She stood and stared at herself in the mirror as she clipped the last accessory, a black and silver belt, around her waist and let it hang off of her hips. She smiled and tossed her head back and laughed. Her laugh, however, stopped short, and Shakira fell backwards in a heap. Dead.

Unbeknownst to Shakira, the director, the producers, the costumer, and nearly everyone else in the world, the moment Shakira let the belt slide a little further down one hip than the other and planted her balled fists on each, she had completed the fantasy of some indeterminate number of men and fanboys. As the details of her death were leaked, social media and networking sites were flooded by these details being reblogged and reTweeted and linked over and over again until everyone knew that at the moment of her death, Shakira was wearing a costume this close to a certain comic book heroine’s. Celebrity Twitters posted goodbyes and we’ll miss yous, fans posted links to the “She Wolf” video, and artists drew pictures of Shakira as this heroine and posted them to blogs and the sudden rash of Shakira fan groups on Facebook.

And at least one lone blogger posted a long, sad, heartfelt goodbye, and lamented that the world, and he in particular, would never see her as this comic book heroine as he had so longed to. His blog post was titled, “The Most Beautiful Woman in the World Died Today.”

As the pop world calmed, the sports world was stunned by the loss of Russian tennis star Maria Sharapova, who, after winning a particularly difficult round in the French Open, sank to her knees, cupped her face in her hands, and didn’t look up again. Shortly thereafter, Charlize Theron was found in her hotel room, dressed in Dior, as if waiting for a date or driver who never showed.

Crystal Renn. Zoe Saldana. Christina Ricci. All of natural causes. The blogosphere exploded.

There were rumors of a serial killer, a government conspiracy. Who would target famous, beautiful women? It was, of course, a blogger who found the pattern, who brought it to the authorities, who eventually issued a statement. The press conference was to be aired on every station and interrupted programming; it was broadcast over the radio and could be streamed online. This was a global phenomenon, they claimed, one that would affect every citizen of every nation.

A line of grave-faced scientists, politicians, religious leaders, armed services officials, and the one blogger lined the risers in front of the impatient press. A tall man in a slightly crumpled suit rose and went to the podium to speak. No one was sure who this man was, and later, his name would be forgotten. It seemed that the panel had chosen the least important among them to release the news; indeed, no one among them wanted to confirm such a thing.

The man touched his glasses and put his hands on the podium. “Good morning. We are here today to report the findings of this unprecedented coalition you see before you. As you all know, six celebrity women have been found dead in the past month. I can now confirm that these deaths were only a small part of a larger series of deaths that have recently occurred, and this phenomena may have begun far earlier than we have imagined.” The man smoothed his hands over the paper in front of him and looked up to the cameras and reporters, to the audience listening and not listening, to the world and to God. “The most beautiful woman in the world has died and is dying daily.”

Silence. No one quite knew what he had just said, and if they did, they didn’t know if they understood it.

The man continued. “We can confirm through careful study and research that, each day, a woman believed by someone to be the most beautiful woman in the world dies. These deaths appear to be of natural causes; however, there is a direct correlation between her death and the perception of this woman as the most beautiful woman in the world.”

Now the room erupted. Some were stunned but most were incredulous or disbelieving. Everyone seemed to be shouting. The man held up his hands in an effort to calm them. “Folks, please. Please. I know this seems unbelievable, but it is true. An undeniable pattern has emerged from these deaths. And we believe the pattern will continue.”

The panel addressed questions from the press corps one-by-one. No, no one had stepped forward to claim responsibility. No, there were no suspects. There was no motivation.

“And the women?” one reporter shouted.

A scientist shrugged. “We don’t know. We have no way of knowing who will be next. We do know that it has nothing to do with how many men think a particular woman is the most beautiful. The selection appears to be random.”

“Can you speculate who might die as a result?”

“No. No.” A small man, a philosopher, shook his head quickly and waved his arms. “We cannot predict these deaths at all. Beauty is defined differently by each of us. How do we quantify beauty? There is no worldwide standard, and though there may be a societal standard, other characteristics besides physical attributes may contribute to one’s perception of a particular woman’s beauty. And—”

“But can you protect them?”

The members of the panel looked at each other or looked down. A general leaned into his microphone. “Ma’am, we currently testing every possible method and means of protection.”

“Can you protect them?”

“The difficulty here is the means by which these women are dying.” A woman near the end of the table spoke. The sleeves of her lab coat were pushed above her elbows. “All the deaths appear to be from natural causes, and, in the majority of the cases, there was no previous indication that the woman might suffer a heart attack, etc, or that she had any reason to think her life in jeopardy because of her health. And those few that did died from entirely unrelated causes.”

The reporter stood. “But can you protect them?”

The general leaned forward as if to speak again, but the woman in the lab coat closed her eyes, and clearly, definitively, said, “No.”


Lady Gaga.

Keira Knightley.


Adriana Lima. Cate Blanchett. Taraji P. Henderson. Christina Aguilera. Penelope Cruz. Scarlett Johansson. Maggie Gyllenhaal. Evangeline Lily. Cote de’Pablo.Actresses and singers fell as if from a scythe through a field.

The names of the newest casualties were reported daily in the news media. Some days, the names were those that had been a part of the news media.

The plague was not discriminating. Hillary Clinton was lost in June, and some expressed surprise at her passing. Others were surprised by Margaret Atwood and Joyce Carol Oates. (One college student to another, “Did these guys ever see their author-photos? I mean, Joyce Carol Oates looks more like an insect than a woman.” The passing English professor: “But her words.”) Women whose beauty had been questioned because of their weight were also taken: model Mia Tyler and singer Beth Ditto joined Crystal Renn.

Magazines ran profiles of the women who had been taken. Christopher Hitchens wrote a lament for the male situation (what, after all, would men do in a world without women who were in some way aesthetically pleasing?) in Vanity Fair, which was promptly received by outrage and a demand for retraction. Hitchens’ article implied that the women who were left alive were in some way deficient, many argued. Didn’t these women have a right to be grateful, to celebrate that they were still alive?

Still, it almost became a trend to prepare to die, to expect it. Sarah Palin issued a formal statement, calling her death “impending” and “inevitable,” and spoke of the legacy she would leave behind for the next generation of “hockey mom” politicians. Hers was a death that did not come. Kristen Stewart would live to see middle age, and Naomi Campbell would be eligible for a senior citizen discount. For a brief moment, it seemed that Ann Coulter could be counted among the victims; autopsy reports, however, determined that she could not.


“The Deaths of the Beautiful Women” continued in pitch and frenzy. After mounting pressure from his producers and the public, each night, though he despised it, Keith Olbermann named the number of “Beautiful Women Lost” instead of the number of days since “Mission Accomplished” was declared. Glenn Beck began discussing whether the woman who died on a given day could be called beautiful and tried to withhold the characteristic from some, but public outcry, backlash, and the loss of even more sponsors forced him to abandon the segment. Headlines in tabloids and certain talk shows read, “Still Alive, Ladies? What it Really Means for You and Your Man.” Jealous wives suddenly began demanding explanations from their husbands. “What does this really mean, huh? Why am I still alive?” About six months in, The Today Show and Good Morning America led with the story of one young woman who held her fiancĂ© at gunpoint, forced him to say he thought she was the most beautiful woman in the world, and when she was still alive when he finished his sentence, she shot him in the leg.

Another woman struggled through the backdoor with the groceries only to find her husband kneeling and nearly sobbing on the kitchen floor with a gun in his mouth. “What are you doing?” she dropped the groceries. Broken egg seeped through the paper bag and over the floor.

“I can’t do this,” he gestured with the gun. “I can’t stand knowing that one day, a woman will be dead because of me. Possibly you.” He stared at her. “But I don’t even know if it will be. I used to believe you were it—the most beautiful woman—but I don’t know anymore. I’ve spent so much time trying to figure out who I honestly fucking believe is the most beautiful woman in the world, and it’s just made me more unsure. Someday, a woman will die because of me, and I might not even know it’s my fault. I can’t live with that. If I die, than she, you, whoever, won’t.” He looked at his wife. She held out her hand, and he passed her the gun. She walked outside to the garage buried it in the folds of an unused tent.

Cosmopolitan and Marie Claire ran articles on making oneself less attractive. Covergirl and Maybelline pledged to stop producing beauty-enhancing products and instead began research on methods that would allow a woman to alter her appearance to become “ugly.” Bloggers wrote about the worldwide evolving standards of female beauty, the implications for a diminishing female population, speculated about the phenomenon’s causes or ways to keep women safe. A traditionally insensitive writer wrote a very sensitive piece about the need for men to adopt the conventional mother role and fulfill duties traditionally viewed as and completed by woman. Again, one lone blogger sent a series of questions out into cyberspace: Are we really facing the extinction on women, and by extension, humankind? One woman per day? Has anyone really done the math?

And as quickly, as strangely, as incomprehensibly as it began, it was over. Women continued to die on a daily basis, but one day, a major news network didn’t report the name of the Beautiful Woman. Instead, a young man with a boldly patterned tie and combed back hair looked up at the camera and said, “Crisis. Scientists say the night is less dark than it was 100 years ago. What this means for you and your children’s future, next.”

-This title comes from the Tweets of the iconic and (ironically) immortal Elizabeth Taylor. It did not say who it was who passed, but I'm sure they are missed.

-Jessica Fokken got her BA in English from Southwest Minnesota State University, her MFA from Iowa State University, and is currently working on her PhD at Oklahoma State University.