This piece was written by Christopher Rein, a sophomore at the San Luis Obispo Classical High School. He was a finalist in the short story section in our writing competition.
Two Months Until Malaysia
The man walked slowly from his place of work to the bus stop to catch the 5:20 PM bus to his apartment. His pace slackened gradually with every step, starting out as a brisk walk as he left the door, and ending with a slow shuffle as he neared the bus stop. He contemplated his day. It was uneventful in truth; he had mostly filled out and then filed hundreds of pages of paperwork. He worked at the law firm Hungadunga and McCormack as a paralegal. The September weather was far more interesting, the overcast skies and frigid air heralding in the creeping winter. He arrived at the bus stop, his feet losing momentum as he sat down on the bench, three minutes earlier than 5:20, at 5:17. The bus stop was silent; occasionally the silence was punctured by a woman behind him sipping coffee, or tea; the man couldn’t tell, nor did he care.
At 5:22 precisely, the bus lumbered into the stop, the dark windows reflecting the cloudy sky. The sounds of the doors opening and the bustling of individuals getting off, while mundane, were nearly musical to the tired man waiting for the bus. The routine and habitual trudge onto the bus was repeated; it had been done countless times before by the man. He had no intention of quitting his habits just then. He sat down in his seat, a small seat across the way from a smiling elderly woman; the man did not know why she sat there, but he knew she was always there. She waved hello at him; his reply was a simple good evening; despite his curiosity, he never bothered to ask any details of the woman’s life; he didn’t even know her name.
At approximately 5:47, the bus screeched into the man’s stop. He exited the bus, the old woman waving good bye, and stretched. He thought to himself that he couldn’t stretch while on the bus. As he arrived at the base of his apartment building, his stride loosened and simultaneously quickened. The sun had all but dropped behind the horizon as he reached the third floor of the apartment complex; he fumbled in his pocket for his keys; the insufficient light provided no relief in his search.
At 5:58 PM, his doorway opened up and he flicked the light on, bathing his small abode in dim yellowish white light. The two windows on the adjacent south and east sides of the apartment (being at a corner of the complex) had not been opened that day. It was a foolish mistake, and one that caused his apartment to heat up dramatically. They were quickly opened to release the thermal discomfort they had caused. The man scoured his fridge for an appropriate beverage; finding none, he settled for a glass of cool water. This done, he browsed his cabinet for a suitable dinner.
Despite his reputation amongst friends and family for being gifted with culinary skills, he rarely made any substantial effort for the creation of his own provisions. Unless special occasion or company permitted an exception, he had always thought it was excessive and improper to create all but the most Spartan of foods for his meals. In line with his philosophy, he poured a small cup of rice into a pot of water for his dinner. At approximately 6:45 (he had stopped tracking the time at this point and relied upon an estimation), his dinner was done. The plain meal of rice was complemented by a raw carrot. Being alone he eschewed the small table in his room in lieu of eating the dinner on his couch; a television show about a very loud-mouthed chef travelling to foreign countries and eating the cuisine, this week visiting Kuala Lumpur and Penang in Malaysia, was playing. At 10 o’ clock precisely, he dragged himself to bed.
At 6:00 AM the next morning, he restarted his daily ritualistic routine; returning to the bus stop at 6:58, two minutes earlier than the 7:00 bus. He was at his work place by 7:56. His work place was a large law firm; though it had the names of only three lawyers, it had nearly 20 who were partnered, and several dozen staff members assisted in various endeavors. The building was a red brick structure built to last; it was stocky-looking despite its three floors; the man entered through two large doors in the front.
So excited for our spring reading and release party. Print issues will be ready in a matter of weeks! Thanks so much to Studio Design Group for donating the awesome space for this event. (Downtown SLO, May 30th, 7:30 pm). Admission is free, donations welcome.
For directions, visit https://www.facebook.com/events/371004813020834/
Alexandra Houlis was a finalist in high school poetry.
how much resonance can echo in a single breath?
the whispered exhale, the silent death
of a sacred syllable, foreign phrases become stable
establish strength among the fiberglass fables
but it’s just another lie, our faces shatter in the mirror
the fear of our reflections, switching my direction to
defy all the misconceptions
a goodbye kiss to public intellectualism
trade it in for bones and feminism
embrace the misogyny: back to nature, the way it was meant to be
Darwin’s delusions, the de-enlightenment
as if I could ever find delight in this?
his mystery, I stare into eyes that I can never seem to read
all the gazes look the same, full of disrespect and shame
forget the Existentialism, adopt the sentimentalism
I am who I pretend to be; no, I’m only what their eyes can see
I’m switching personalities, I split my sexuality
into a neutral form of boring, throw me overboard
and let the sharks feed on me, slowly
just devour me and every insecurity
the ocean’s full of obscurity, as if absence is a substance
but this confusion can be described only by the lust in it
delusions of pleasure in smoke, skin, and mental treasure
but the only grandeur I can see here is the plastic silverware and
skin sliding off a soft skeleton that has always looked too bare
About the Poet: Alexandra Houlis is a Junior at San Luis Obispo High School. She says she centers her life around exploring new ways to look at the world, usually by changing herself. She enjoys traveling, writing, reading and analyzing literature, doing yoga, skating, and having conversations over coffee. In college, she plans to study English, German literature, and philosophy. Her personal essay “Living Art” was the first place winner in the 2013 Hanging Lantern Review Non-fiction Contest and will be published in this year’s print edition.
Well, folks, we are finally ready with some long-awaited news. With much deliberation, our judges have selected winning pieces in each category. The following pieces will appear in our first ever print edition of Hanging Lantern Review this May! Work in this year’s print edition comes from students throughout San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara Counties, representing many different schools. These pieces were ultimately scored and ranked by our three judges, writers Todd James Pierce, Paige Eve Chant and William Camponovo. Here are our winning pieces:
Middle School Poetry:
1st Place - “Family Tree” by Eleanor Johnson-Carter
2nd Place - “Happiness” by Anna Stubler
3rd Place - “The Cafe Terrace on the Place du Forum, Arles” by Samantha Wright
Middle School Prose:
1st Place - “His Promise” by Autumn Boyd
High School Poetry:
1st Place - “Headlights in the Street” by Wyatt Krutsch
2nd Place - “The Roundup” by Sara Overduin
3rd Place - “An Adventure” by Lucy Israel
High School Essay:
1st Place - “One Art” by Alexandra Houlis
2nd Place - “An Obstacle to Humanity” by Caleb Campbell
3rd Place - “The Scarlet Letter: A Research Paper” by Rachel Klemm
High School Fiction:
1st Place - “The Dock” by Cami Smith
2nd Place - “Lavenders Blue” by Audrey Raj
3rd Place - “Closed Doors” by Sage Theule
Congratulations to all our awesome winners! Stay tuned for news on our spring release party and reading at the end of May, and watch our blog - we’ll be posting many of these pieces here this spring.
We are thrilled to announce that we will be holding a Summer Writer’s Workshop in San Luis Obispo for high schoolers. The camp is two weeks long, and will include instruction by experienced writers, such as Poet William Camponovo and fiction writing MFA grad Sarah Shotwell. For more information, visit the SLO Classical Academy Summer Camps Page and scroll down to the bottom!
Asked by Anonymous
Absolutely! We welcome you to apply. Please send 3 poems or 3-15 pages of prose to hanginglanternreview.com with a registration form. We’ll notify you within a week about the status of your application. Let us know if you have any other questions. :)
Asked by Anonymous
Hi there! Thanks for your question. 3 poems would be fine. If you don’t have 3, please send 2. You can send all your work and a registration form to email@example.com. Once approved, we’ll notify you and you can secure your spot with a deposit. Thanks so much!
Follow the link above to watch an awesome video! We’re working with indiegogo.com to raise money for our 2013 print issue. We’re getting close to announcing all our contest winners! In the meantime, please share this video and help raise support for this worthy community project, edifying young writers on the Central Coast!