TW: miscarriage, spiritual abuse
âMy mother was baptized and raised in the Catholic church. Her miscarriage had struck when the nursery was already painted, a mural sheâd done by hand, redbuds and dogwoods, the trees that sequined the Ozarks in spring, and made April my motherâs favorite month. In her grief, sheâd sought solace from her priest. Sheâd asked him, âIs my baby girl in heaven?â And received the unwelcome revelation that April Annâs small, unbaptized soul was stuck in Limbo. My mother said that's when the nightmares began. Her baby girl trying to slither under a smoldering steel bar held aloft by grinning demons, set lower and lower still. Her baby girl weeping and wailing, inconsolable, trying to get under that bar without touching it, the bar bursting into flames, the demons laughing, and Mom couldnât reach her, couldnât rescue her, and there was no God.â
âmy father is perched on our staircase, arm leaning against the walls. he is lazy, drowsy in his movements and eye-crust dotted on the bridge of his nose. i linger by the fridge, intrigued as he tells me of his time spent in saudi arabia, when the old sun was burning his body and a cig was permanently plastered in his index and middle fingers for hours on end. my father drawls out that he spent his pay on packs each day, smoking till something in his heart gave, whether it was a beat, a sputter, an ache, the ashes piled together to fill the spaces in his empty home.â
Somewhere in America, a butterfly is flying. You would love it
staggered with daylight, a white-rimmed forewing held in provocation
to the wind. See, you would know those greying blue cells
mean vulnerability. You take a few home anyway. On paper sheets
you spread the paralyzed body and sketch every vestigial vein and thrust
the thinnest pin through the crackling thorax. Dedicate it to VÃ©ra.
Mim Murrells reads an excerpt from "The Equation, or for External Use Only", forthcoming in Wrongdoing's second issue
"The question is in the pleasure,
and why stomata become stigmata.
The problem is in where there ought to be girl-meat,
where there is instead a past-life seed,
where I am hung drawn and quartered
suspended pregnant with the world,
never to come to term.
It does not go away."
Jonathan Louis Duckworth reads an excerpt from "Black Rose Immortal", now available in Wrongdoing's first issue
It took what it wanted. The adornment, the silken
White dress, the rounds of staled flesh plucked
From the outside. The relic, enshrined in gold or
Enamel, bones lent for salvation efforts wrapped in
My own hands. Morning star,
Be my derivative on earth. Tell me
The calcium scattered across
Your structure exploded from the
Curved cage in my chest.
Your heart is a half-open window.
wind-tickled trees rustle,
shredding the night sky:
black flashes illuminated by streetlamp glare,
they dart in unpredictable directions
above an overgrown garden,
a washing line dotted with unused pegs.
My favourite kind of apple? I place my palm
against your hair, press until both of us are anointed
with apple, crushed close, held
by the scent of the green apple
shampoo you started using
after I told you how the right apple
can throw you off completely, burst new buds
in your mouth, make you bleed, sweat, pray
for each torn crisp hit of sugar, squeezed out
by your very own teeth. I love
the hand-sized promise of them. I love Braeburn, Jazz,
Granny Smith. I once saw five Red Admirals, wings vivid as hearts
drink from the same fallen Bramley,
saw their long tongues, dreamed I could feast too
Jake McAuliffe reads an excerpt from, "and what of the moth", now available in Wrongdoing's first issue
When I first joined the queue, the hall bounced with hurried music. The tempo quickened my heart. I tossed my shoulders like I was renting the joints. In the queue, we had young punks wearing the velvet cordons like sashes, the even-younger-again punks looking for more cordons to copy them with, the shisha smokers who unfurled, built, and then unbuilt the bronze smokey goliath each time the queue progressed until they stopped queuing altogether and set up shop, we had the sand-shedding surfers inconvenienced to be out of their wetsuits and drysuits, like skin was a thin burden compared to wearable rubber, we had helpings of this and that, and it was all very funny and ironic, like we were all queuing with a collective sneer. I made a friend, my queue-neighbourââLazââwho had peculiar opinions on birdsongs. She said they were threats veiled in music. The punks liked that idea so much they serenaded the queue-skippers. We had drugs and the queue moved along okay during the highs. We were on the way to the thing.
Then, I loved Miranda in the fierce, aching way a girl can only experience in high school and shortly thereafter. She was all that I had, and yet she had become foreign to me.
We had been so quiet together as students, floating around the school in our matching plaid skirts and vests, never turning a head or catching an eye. We had each other and only each other, and when you are two, there is no need to be boisterous or to attract attention. But here she was, stopping in the middle of crossing a street to clutch her chest and inhale in wet, jagged gasps. Here she was, crying out while we walked in the park, making all of my former classmates turn their heads. Once, when we were sitting in my bedroom, she collapsed on my desk then slid to the floor, dragging all my textbooks with her. I was positive sheâd stopped breathing, and in the second before I dialed 911 her eyes flew open and she screamed, âa noose in the night.â
I didnât know what to do with her. We were only children, there was no younger, pestering sibling in which I could confide; her mother, with her tattooed eyeliner and over-tweezed brows, had always made me nervous. When people approached Miranda, asking if she ever saw them in her visions, I wanted to shed her and to get away from home as soon as possible. But when she crawled into bed with me, her hot form against my back, I felt a thread attach us again and again.
Even now, the palm of her left hand tingles in the presence of the celestial body, and a thick band of red, raised flesh on her thigh tells the tragic story of her first adventures in love. Flew too close, she thinks, too bloody close, and can feel her mouth water even in this arid, shimmering atmosphere.
Joanna keeps the sun in the basement now, because it's too bright for the spare room. There's still daylight outside because it's a sun, not the sun; not her sun, but her sunâcaptured neat as you please when the little bastard came down to graze on the night meadows. They're slippery, not easily held in a net or cage; weaving like mercury to reform into human shape later. She'd had to buy special gloves too, a special rope, a heat-proof blanket to wrap it in. Black market stuff.
Calia Jane Mayfield reads an excerpt from "my hands sit on my throat when i try and remember my name", now available in Wrongdoing's first issue
Sunny Vuong reads an excerpt from "Silent Blooms: A Cottagecore Horror Pick Your Own Adventure", forthcoming in Wrongdoing's first issue
When the sun sets and paints the sky into a dulcet pink, the hue is a bit off. Just by a fraction, you think, so miniscule that you might be making too much of it. But the sky looks like itâs melting into an unnatural wax, and the cicadasâtheyâre loud. Theyâre *always* loud anywhere, but at night, you think maybe youâre just imagining it when their song sounds just a pitch higher than it should.
The locals donât say anything when you ask. They smile good naturedly, and ask if the deer are giving you any trouble. The deer do get a bit territorial this time of year, yes. Tourists have problems with them. You decide itâs better not to mention that youâve never seen them eating grass.
Lindsay Hargrave reads an excerpt from "paragloria (Judgment)", forthcoming in Wrongdoing's first issue
Your hills have been burning for
centuries. Rise! Open your
eyes and feast your bare guts on
a white sun molting to
black dwarf beginning at
Rise rise rise and
draw up a tub for next lifeâs
bloodletting. You could live in a moon
colony. Find out which friends were
imposters all along and invent
new ones. Finish scrapbooking.
TW: suicide, self-harm
Amy J reads an excerpt from "The Temple Yields Like a Lamb", forthcoming in Wrongdoing's first issue
God says when i encounter a lion i must fold / myself under him & iâm like ok big guy as if but i do & i leave / a lily on the tabletop so the viewer sensing / my absence in the photograph will know where to look for me. God says fold / & i say into how many halves? a fragile / leafpaste slivering itself. God says be good but iâm worsted; iâll only walk / barefoot when you lay your palms on the ground
I met the dressmaker between the third and fourth floors of a museum. I was trying to make sense of it allâthe artwork, the architecture, my own inadequacyâwhen he stepped into the lift wearing a white shirt and a pair of jeans, and I thought, this man will show me the impressionists.
âItâs like a labyrinth,â I said, gesturing to the map in his hands.
He pulled a piece of string from his pocket and said, âUse thisâ. When I dropped the end to the ground it came up to my waistâlong enough to explore the lift without losing my way. I tied one end around my wrist and the other around his, and suddenly it was much longer, the length of the whole building. We stepped out together, and the ground stabilized.
I swear to you, they are preparing to sacrifice me at any moment. / I swear to you, they are impassioned with morphing language differently than me / to torture and confuse like the curse of diversity at babel. / I swear to you, mere boys and girls are defying norms of appearance, switching places, multiplying into theys and thems / a threat to my gendered three-in-one god of one body and many parts. / A concept beyond my grasp of spirits and angels and singularity where there is no longer male nor female. / Does no one hear me, in this wickerman theyâve built, burning up? / I know it looks like Iâm just comfortable in my own house with the same rights as always, marriage untouched, family unharmed, lifestyle allowed / but the way sweat drips like blood from my brow / I must be burning. / I see the walls melting down, I hear the devil laughing. / At least I think itâs the devil. / It sounds like children.
What happens when I am boiled down to just one individual? / What happens when what I know to be true is whittled away? / If I am not supreme, then how can the god in my image be?
Kate Doughty Reads an excerpt from "Screening Questionnaire", forthcoming in Wrongdoing's first issue
Have you found the lights of your small bathroom on at night and the mirrored medicine cabinet door askew? Upon further inspection, the tap might be running. When you creep across your studio to turn it off, the basin is full of mossy, overgrown sludge typically found in long-abandoned outdoor fountains. Are those lichens on the vanity? You spend the small hours cleaning pond water from your sink, removing the smell of algae from your bathroom. When you return to bed, all that remains is the sound of your faucet, dripping again, and a sing-song sigh from the reflection in the mirror you couldnât scrub away: oh, my darling, you cannot run from this in a way that matters. Come on in, the water is just fine.