1 Literary Magazine - year 1, issue 2 Natasha Sondakh Diarra English Ashley Sgro Marcy Rae Henry Jessica Simpkiss Donna Dallas Rachele Salvini Beautiful Losers uomo terra - Paolo Loschi
2 Editorial If you ve been following us in any form, you might have noticed our patterns. The easy one to spot is we always publish things we really like, and that means great literature. Another one is, we love poetry as much as fiction, in a world were the two are often put against each other. The hard ones to spot are the missing patterns; the things we don t do. For example, we don t really take a stance on politics. You didn t hear a single politician s name, and you most probably won t. We don t talk much about the environment, even if we really care about it (but we also like to contradict ourselves, so while we re here we want you to know that the 2nd of August, 2017 was this year s Earth Overshoot Day. Look that up). Another thing we don t do is thinking about who we should publish. Our process is deprived of any author s check, so in the end if you re a 12-year-old boy or a 97-year-old grandma, we will know only when we ll actually publish you - and your bio. It has been a surprise more than once, connecting a bio and a piece. We care about the words, not the rest. So when our editors for BL 2 told us, Hey, you ve made an all-women issue, that s cool, only then we connected the dots; we didn t set out to do that specifically, but it happened naturally. And as usual with us, we won t think much of it, as it confirms what we ve always thought - there s no difference in age, gender, haircut, job - when you bare the soul it speaks for you. Enjoy this number, Beautiful Readers. The Staff at Beautiful Losers. I think we are blind. Blind people who can see, but do not see. - Jose Saramago
3 Contents One - Paolo Loschi 5 Glass Box by Natasha Sondakh 6 Vagabond by Natasha Sondakh 8 Interview with author Natasha Sondakh 10 Black Faces in Private Places by Diarra English 14 A Wire Coat Hanger s Hook Looks Like by Ashley Sgro 16 No More Sex If You Throw Me To The Ghosts by Marcy Rae Henry Morph by Donna Dallas 24 Windows by Rachele Salvini 30 Boogie Boy by Donna Dallas 32 Damaged by Donna Dallas 34 This issue s authors bios Tatemae (n.) what a person pretends to believe by Jessica Simpkiss
4 Crystal Gloves - Paolo Loschi
5 Glass Box by Natasha Sondakh Beautiful Losers In the corner of a silent hole lay an ominous glass box shedding melancholy; in rivulets dizzy, out of control, sprawled carelessly on dirt. Sealed within a jester, onyx and mahogany horns for hair Chiffon: painted to disguise her imperfect complexion fitted with a medieval corset that prevents a breath A troop of melted crayons smeared across her hooded eyes She imagined: water charging in from each corner Its particles choked her pale twig legs (yet the glass box remained empty) Help me, she whimpered. Her chin cocked up to face the heavens as she feared the chimerical blue Soon enough she clawed for oxygen; her corset forbade her lungs from expanding She struck her chapped lips against the surface Muffled fogging evident yet she gagged. And then her rivulets sprawled against the fractured glass floor as she lost the crayons to the light. 5
6 Beautiful Losers Vagabond by Natasha Sondakh Wisps of fog tie a knot around her delicate feet, tripping her so the blades of stray charcoal scrape her hairless ankles A blood orange oozed out of the interstice; its vibrancy captured by sheer moonlight Despite the wound she ran, into a swamp with multicolored snakes and starved gators Where the peril lay not within the morass but was prominent on the tree barks; amongst the petrifying shrieks that spewed from her mother s heedless lips, And the synchronized march of burly men in metallic attire scouring the place for torn satin, bloody silk (The men believe that she could not survive the swamp due to her privileges, the stainless crown on her head) She heard the shrieks She noticed the snakes But nevertheless, she ran sometimes running is all we can do. 6
7 Orango Spinale - Paolo Loschi
8 Beautiful Losers Interview with author Natasha Sondakh 8 Q: Thank you for talking with Beautiful Losers, Natasha. Tell us about yourself for our readers. A: Thank you for having me! I m a sixteen-year-old rising high school senior living in Jakarta with my parents and five dogs. I ve loved writing ever since I can remember, but gotten serious with it only last summer. Besides writing, I like watching Netflix shows like Gossip Girl and Grey s Anatomy, playing competitive Tetris and shopping. Q: Your poetry is wonderfully evocative, literary yet accessible, and rich with imagery. Can you share with us some of your biggest influences? A: Thank you! I draw a lot of inspiration from George Orwell; I like writing about dystopian scenes that capture the 1984-esque world. Similarly, I admire Sylvia Plath s style how her work reeks of disturbingly-dark imagery and how she plays with alliteration. Some people say that my work gives off an Emily Dickinson vibe. Q: I understand that your poetry collection received an honorable mention at the 2017 Scholastic Art & Writing awards. How did you feel when you found out? A: I actually didn t expect to win anything! In fact, I initially forgot to check if I had won anything on the day results were out it was my friend Sabrina who reminded me of them through her congratulations. When I saw my name next to the honorable mention, what seemed like an electric current shot through my veins: it s such an honor to be recognized as being on par with other talented writers around the world. Q: Do you believe that there might be an age bias within the literary scene? Have you ever felt that older writers may have prejudged you or your work because of your age? A: Definitely. Although it is emphasized that age is just a number, I still feel like many adults have misjudged young writers as being inexperienced or immature in their pieces. Fortunately, I have not experienced much of a bias due to supportive family and friends, but I do feel the occasional condescendence from teachers and acquaintances. Q: Can you tell us a bit more about the work you ve done writing for TEDx conferences? A: As Editorial Coordinator, I write journalistically for TEDx. The articles I ve written were meant to look back on events held in anticipation of the main conference in February 2017, and promote the actual conference for a city-wide audience. Since I m mainly a creative writer, I played around with descriptive, poetic language in the articles to keep it interesting, which was definitely a meaningful learning experience for me. Q: I hear that you are interested in a career as a literary translator. Can you tell us about some of the projects you ve done in that respect?
9 Beautiful Losers A: I wouldn t say that I d pursue literary translation as a career, but it is definitely a side project that I plan to carry out throughout my life. Right now, I ve translated two short stories by the Indonesian poet/ prosaist Ali Akbar Navis. Teachers in my school have volunteered to include my translated pieces in the ninth-grade English curriculum. In addition, I have been pressing for these stories to get published on an online magazine specializing in world literature. Q: In what ways does life in Jakarta inspire you as a writer? A: Jakarta is a very busy city, bustling with a lot of life and antics. The culture is very different from what I observe in the West there is a lot of segregation between the privileged and the underprivileged due to a large population. A lot of my pieces mirror this segregation and are mainly about the willingness to escape the bounds (Vagabond) and pressures of society (Glass Box). Q: You have worked in a variety of mediums, including poetry, essays, and prose. Which format do you prefer? Why? A: primarily consider myself as a poet. Poetry is a medium for me to articulate my thoughts and beliefs in ways that are reflective of my heartfelt thoughts and emotions. I like the idea of open-endedness and beautiful language, so when I tried poetry, I instantly fell in love. Q: You are managing editor of Feedback Magazine. Can you tell more about your role there and how you became involved with that publication? A: We had to take a journalism class in order to be involved with the publication. Initially, I enrolled in sophomore year because I needed to take an elective to fulfil a credit. However, I realized that I enjoyed writing feature articles, and as time passed, I learned the artistic and creative aspect of journalism. When I was presented with the opportunity to absorb a larger role in the publication, I simply couldn t refuse. With the role of Managing Editor, I had to lead budget meetings, oversee the Calendar segment of the magazine, edit second drafts, and ensure that the staff was on schedule when submitting their articles. Q: Can you tell us a bit about any current projects that are in the works? A: I ve been scouring for various literary magazines in addition to Beautiful Losers to publish my work in both poems and translated short stories. I also want to submit to poetry competitions. I do aspire to be a published author/poet, so I plan to start by publishing a poetry anthology at the end of senior year. Q: Do you have any words of advice for any of our readers who may be aspiring to a literary career? A: Don t be afraid to make mistakes, or to take things to a different direction than you initially intended. When I write, I live by the words of Charles D Ambrosio, the inevitable errors and imperfections [bring] the texture of experience into the story in a way that being cautiously right never could. Sometimes, straying away from perfection is the key to good art. Q: Natasha, thank you so much for your time! A: Thank you for having me! 9
10 NewYorkers-Polaroids Paolo Loschi Black Faces in Private Places by Diarra English
11 Beautiful Losers From the minute I stepped on BB&N s campus, I became the token black girl that would know everything about the latest trends, dances, and music. BB&N is one of those private schools that boasts about their wildly diverse community of students that achieve at an extraordinarily high level and go on to only the most prestigious colleges. It s the type of school that has more gluten allergies than black students and gives its students an urban setting by placing it on the outskirts of Cambridge, MA, right before it turns into ritzy, suburban Belmont. It was never a place where conversations about race happened inside or outside of the classrooms until a racial slur was directed at one of the sole black teachers on campus. After that, teachers couldn t stop throwing the words cultural proficiency around. I think I was expected to enjoy the fruits of these conversations, but all it brought me was stress, discomfort, and more ignorant comments from my classmates. I don t think we have a problem with diversity here, I feel like everyone is different and we all appreciate the different backgrounds we each bring to the table. I watched Annabel proudly profess this nonsense to my class, clearly without any consideration of how wrong she was. What would a white girl who plays soccer, hockey, and lacrosse know about diversity? Everything in her life is monochrome from her family to her friends, and sadly my school. I made eye contact with the other black students in class and proceeded to raise my hand, keeping eye contact with each of them. Since this was an African American Lit elective, it was one of the only classes in the whole school that had more than the usual two black students. I would have to argue that we have some of the worst diversity I have ever seen. In each class picture I have no trouble finding myself or my friends because we each stick out like sore thumbs. I paused to look around for reassurance and noticed nodding heads from each of my friends and even my teacher. I continued on it s not uncommon for me to be mistaken for another black girl by either a teacher or another student, nor is it rare for me to be asked to play black music during a sports practice. We re in a bubble and if you think this is real diversity, you re wrong. I sat back in my chair and looked around at my classmates faces. ~~~~~~~~ BB&N s mission is to promote scholarship, integrity, and kindness in diverse, curious, and motivated students. The school prepares students for lives of principled engagement in their communities and the world. ~~~~~~~~ Due to my affinity for small class sizes and my consistent need for extra attention from my math teachers, my parents decided to focus on private schooling for my high school years. The class sizes at Cambridge Rindge and Latin High were too big for me to not literally get lost in between my classes, and attending a private school like Buckingham Browne & Nichols would give me more educational opportunities as my parents repeated over and over again. What they didn t tell me was that going to this school which sounded like a corporate law firm, would be one of the most confusing, mind-blowing culture-shocking experiences of my life. 11
12 Beautiful Losers On my first day at BB&N, I was unusually excited to start high school. I had heard rumors about how different it would be from my other schools; there would be no black people, my classmates would have Kardashian money, and I would never feel comfortable. How hard could it be to go to school with people that came from different economic and social backgrounds than me? What I failed to think about in that last question was the range of difference between me and my classmates. In my junior year history class, I finally realized what everyone had warned be about. We were having one of those generic discussions on slavery where everyone looks at the single black student for the answer. We began to talk about negro spirituals slaves used to sing on plantations and their hidden double meanings. My teacher read us the lyrics of Wade in the Water and then asked us our thoughts about the possible meaning. One of my especially white classmates confidently answered, I think Wade in the Water is a spiritual about the slaves swimming from Africa to America and them drowning because it was too far. Yes. This was an actual response in a junior year U.S. History course. The confused stares from my teacher, myself, and the black boy sitting next to her gave her absolutely no inkling that this answer was very wrong. Instead, she looked ahead with conviction, patiently waiting for my teacher to validate her interpretation. It didn t happen. As I moved through my schedule, I paid close attention to each class, mentally noting the amount of students that looked like me. It didn t take too much of my time or attention since I was usually only counting myself and one other boy or girl. Before completely discouraging myself, I waited until our first all school assembly where I could completely scan the whole student body, only to find that the number of people that looked like me was relatively low. There were a couple spread out through the bleachers, but a small group of brown faces caught my attention in the high corner of the bleachers. I decided to count that group as a win. I figured if they all found each other, I too could find a group in this sparse student body. When Miley Cyrus introduced the rest of the world to twerking I could have killed her. From that moment on, I couldn t even count the amount of times someone asked me to teach them how to twerk or asked me to comment on their twerking form. When I had the nerve to inform one of my classmates that I didn t even know how to twerk, she looked me up and down in disappointment, shook her head slowly, and walked away. I didn t realize the gateway to pop culture that my blackness provided these suburban white kids, nor did I realize the growing disappointment I kept serving them each time a stereotype was disproved. It was like they were hoping I taught a free course in blackness, but they were highly upset when they found out I was severely underqualified. One of the worst parts of going to BB&N was coming back to after summer, winter, and spring breaks when I knew my classmates had devoted all their time to sunbathing in hopes of looking less pale. I dreaded the moments I would hear, I got so tan over spring break, I m almost as black as you! from girls as they held their forearms up against my to compare complexions. The first time it happened I thought it was a joke, but after studying the concentration in her eyes as she gazed back and forth between my deep brown skin and her barely sun-kissed milky skin, I realized she was completely serious. 12
13 Yeah, almost, I would respond back to satisfy them. In just my first year, it became very clear to me that every conversation one of my white classmates had with me or another black student was monumental for them at the very least. It was easy to see their pupils dilate as they would walk up to me with their latest comment. Not only did they make it very apparent that they didn t have many interactions with black people, they expected each to be somewhat theatrical, like right out of a low budget movie that romanticizes the hood and provides cultural appropriators with enough material for decades. They say that birds of a feather flock together, so I guess it makes sense that me and the four other black girls in my class found ourselves being close friends. After each of us unsuccessfully tried to infiltrate the impenetrable cliques that were built in middle school, we gave up and settled into a group of misfits. Every day before school we met in a study room and talked about hair, music, and other aspects of our culture without having to stop to explain anything. Today Ms. Makrauer confused Nick for Gerry again. Ms. Jones just asked me if my hair was real or not. All the white girls actually think Koby is a prince from Ghana, but he was definitely born here. We spent our free blocks throughout the day meeting up again to share the latest micro aggression from our teachers or peers and our lunch block observing the world our parents convinced us would be better for us in the long run. We held on to each other like life rafts. Since the majority of girls at BB&N had long, straight hair, it was almost entertaining to watch them attempt to figure out my sometimes curly, sometimes braided, sometimes straight hair. Some would just stare, others would ask a series of questions that just left them more confused, and some would be so bold as to reach out and touch it like they were petting their puppy. In these instances I had no choice but to laugh it off and excuse them for not knowing, after-all, the black community is like Fort Knox when it comes to keeping our hair care secrets under wraps. Our busiest days were Mondays. Not only did we have our usual gossip to discuss, we also had to talk about the extravagant weekend escapades our classmates went on: skiing trips to Vail, a boys weekend on the boat sailing around Nantucket, or the nonchalant spa day for one paying girl and 3 of her closest friends. It was almost impossible for us to not turn green with envy, but we held each other together with our basic movie nights and sleepovers. W e didn t talk about school, our racist classmates and teachers, or even homework. We just existed like normal high schoolers that did facemasks to keep up with their acne, gushed over Michael Ealy, and braided our hair at night before falling asleep while listening to Beyoncé s latest album. My classmates never realized what they were saying, but their words hit me and my friends too hard too often. At times it seemed like getting out was the only thing that would make things better, but we had to remind ourselves what was at stake here. BB&N tried to break us, but we didn t. We bent over backwards, held our heads up high, picked up our pencils, and kept moving.
14 Beautiful Losers A Wire Coat Hanger s Hook Looks Like by Ashley Sgro The face and neck of a golden goose skinned to a single bone that s curved for the purpose of being hung. 14
15 Pajaro - Paolo Loschi
16 No More Sex If You Throw Me To The Ghosts by Marcy Rae Henry W e were together for about a year when she decided to take me home. Objet d art or affection, it didn t matter to me. My family was only one time zone away, so I d already taken her to meet my mother and grandmother in the spacious crimson desert ringed by blue mountains. I knew my grandmother would be open-hearted and, though my mother was initially shocked that I d met another girl at school and we moved in togeth- At Williamsbourg - Paolo Loschi er six weeks later, I could see it helped that my girlfriend, wearing Converse and no make-up, was modelesque. Soon enough, my mom began mailing us thoughtful gifts that included luxuries for our small Chicago apartment and matching underwear. I would not get the same acceptance from my girlfriend s family. Except for those of her generation, whom she rarely saw, everyone in her family was dead. She spent much of her time speaking with their ghosts. Sometimes more than with me. But perhaps she was just ignoring me.
17 Beautiful Losers The flight to Buenos Aires was fifteen hours long and I suspected it d be insufferable. We got lucky, however, and had a row all to ourselves on the plane. When the Americas rotated away from the sun and the lights were switched off we covered ourselves with blankets and pleased each other over and over. We managed to be quieter than the roar of the plane and believed no one knew what we were up to. She told me her father had been a flight attendant for a South American airline and was fired for having sex in the restroom of a plane while on duty. She detested him, so it made getting it on a mile high even sweeter somehow. After days of watching her city come alive when she walked onto its stage of streets, she wanted to take me to her family house in the country. It was where her grandparents married and where Borges stayed and wrote. I couldn t wait to see it. So, along with her sister we boarded a bus and, after a few hours, arrived in the brown little town, temporarily increasing the population to 203. I felt like I d been transported to a handful of time clenched in a fist. It was slow, restrained and quiet, especially after Buenos Aires. The first thing we did was to go and buy food at a wooden mercado that looked as if it d fall to matchsticks if one of us sneezed. When we got to the house, I discovered there were actually three of them. The main building was two-stories with an enormous outdated kitchen. There were separate servants quarters and another structure that seemed to be used for storage. In it, we found moldy books, photographs from the early 20th century and furniture that would have complimented and completed our Chi-town apartment. I didn t expect servants quarters because I didn t expect servants. (After another year of togetherness, when I agreed to marry her, I would not only feel the growing curiosity, but the distance created by the things she neglected to tell me.) Though cordial, the groundskeeper and his wife, the cook, made me uncomfortable. Despite my being more or less of the same class and undeniably much younger than them, they spoke to me with the formal usted. And while I wished to take my own dish to the sink and rinse it myself, the girlfriend said that as her family rarely visited, the workers appreciated it when they could do something to earn their keep. I told her I was quite capable and politely debated with everyone when I tried to prove it. Like most arguments with the girlfriend, some of which being nonverbal, it was an argument I quickly lost. I simply couldn t imagine growing up like that. My maternal grandparents had to quit school to work in the fields and my father grew up in a house with dirt floors and an outhouse in the backyard. While there were plenty of bathrooms, there was no electricity in the country house, so when it got dark we d have to ask the servants to turn on the generator. When we were ready for bed, we d have to go disturb them and ask them to turn it off. They saddled the horses for us, made the beds and brought us fresh towels every other morning. When hideous noises led us to a very large pig trapped in a ditch, they took care of that too. If they made me uneasy, the main house scared the hell out of me. I ve traveled through China and India solo and slept soundly, surrounded by languages I did not know, in more ancient and unfamiliar edifices than I can recall. But, 17
18 Beautiful Losers then, I was unconcerned with what I couldn t see. In contrast, I felt an eerie presence in the house that I d heretofore never experienced. It intensified if I was alone. And it very much concerned me. middle of guided tours, pulled over on the side of the road and we were once kicked out of the post-massage quiet room at Bloomingdale s before we realized they d placed cameras in the dark sensual room made up to look like one of the Arabian nights. Maybe there were too many memories packed too tightly in the main house. Or maybe the house absorbed the lingering grief of generations because, beyond an unnatural manifestation and an oppressive heaviness, I felt something akin to anger and, alternately, sadness emanating from the walls. (I strangely suspected they were painted black and only recently covered with a thin coat of French Vanilla.) As I was supposedly the first lover my lover ever brought to the estate, I also suspected that I was being regarded as an unwelcome intruder. All of these feelings escalated so that, even in the honesty of daylight, I didn t want to go inside alone to use the restroom. I told the girlfriend if she didn t go with me that I d just go behind a tree. At first, she thought this preposterous. She d grown up there and used to go and stay by herself after her mother died. She probably didn t even notice when the ghosts started to arrive. Had I met them in life, I might have felt differently. Or perhaps they would have. At first I was afraid to make love in that house and told the girlfriend about the practice I heard about in India, where people could so intently focus their sexual energy on someone they could bring the other person to climax without touching them. She asked, Why would anyone care to do that? and I was as easily seduced in that house as I was everywhere else I d ever been with her. We d given in to our desires in the depths of forests, in the One night, in a country house surrounded by a darkness punctured by stars, we made love for hours after the generator had been turned off. Truthfully, I hadn t felt anything watching us and figured the phantoms respected our privacy. We were just about to be embraced by sleep and our fingers were still touching. Chicago was cracking in ice and though it was summer in Argentina, we had closed all the windows and were under thin blankets. All of a sudden, from under the blankets, I heard a whisper: shwr rrrr shwah My girlfriend heard it too because she said, Qué? at the exact moment I said, What? What did you just say? I didn t say anything, what did you just say? It went on this way for some minutes, each of us swearing we d said nothing, but that we d distinctly heard a whisper. When there was a lull in this swearing, we heard it again. It sounded as if it came from the small space between us. Goddammit! What s going on here? Why didn t you tell me this place had spirits? Nothing like this has ever happened to me here! Maybe your family doesn t approve of us. They all had plenty of gay friends. I m certain my mother would have loved you. Well, maybe they wouldn t have loved my background 18
19 Don t be foolish. I know in my heart they would all attend our wedding if they were around. Oh, they re around After hearing the wispy voice a third time I begged her to get up, light a candle and peer under the bed. She scoffed, I m not scared. But if you re afraid of the dark, you get up and light the candle. Come on, I m your guest No. I don t know this place in the dark. I m not getting up. So, anxious beyond reason, I jumped out of bed and felt my way to the adjoining bathroom. The door was open and my hands led me to the sink. It was cast iron and massive and I lit the candle on top of it. Then I crept back to the bed, appreciative of the warm glow. I peeked under the bed s historic wooden frame and saw nothing. The second I got back under the covers, we heard a whoosh. The candle was extinguished. That was when, in a darkness thick as pudding, I really flipped out on my striking, stubborn love. Now it s your turn! I insisted. Get up and light the candle. Oh, just fall asleep. We ll laugh about this in the morning. I will not laugh about this. Ever. And I will not be able to sleep tonight. Please re-light the candle. She laughed then and there at my fear and asked, What do you think is going to happen? If something can speak and blow out a flame, who knows what it can do? You re ridiculous. Maybe the dead are jealous of the living. Oh, please. They re at peace. You should do more crossword puzzles. The mind invents things when it s idle. Invention? Are you joking? You heard it too! You think I invented the candle blowing out? This led us into a lip-quick quarrel that, as usual, spilled out well beyond the original subject and climaxed with her insisting I go sleep in another room. Are you crazy? I m not going anywhere. I don t want to sleep next to you. Well, I am not leaving your side. Go to shit. I don t want to share a bed with you and I m not going to tell you again: Get the hell out of here. Fine. I ll go sleep with your sister. I always knew you wanted to sleep with my sister. I don t want your sister. I m scared and I don t want to be alone. Too bad, because that s exactly what you re going to be. Listen, I m tired. But I ll tell you one thing. If I leave this room I will never, ever eat you again. The next morning, while the servants brought us croissants and café, we told her sister all about it. We asked if she d heard anything and she said she d heard an owl. I asked, Did you hear your sister try to kick me out of bed? She said she hadn t and, looking at my love, asked why. My love said nothing, so I responded, I m not quite sure. But I threatened to go sleep with you. Well, you didn t come to my room, so I assume she let you stay. She didn t have much of a choice.
20 Spring - Paolo Loschi
21 Morph by Donna Dallas Beautiful Losers She slips red painted toenails into silver ankle strap high heels, licks collagen-pumped lips and brushes blue frost from the roots of false black lashes to the arch of penciled eyebrows. She takes a deep breath, lights a cigarette. She inhales blue smoke and applies a second layer... Blue powder flows. Heaven sighs for thick creamy frost the color of Mother Maybelline. 21
22 Beautiful Losers Tatemae (n.) what a person pretends to believe by Jessica Simpkiss We sat across the table from each other Smiling with a virgin shyness Eyes making love long before our bodies ever would You asked me to pretend with you that afternoon We played hooky from work and used make-believe names as we toured houses we pretended we might want to make a home We giggled as we walked from room to room, talking about where our imaginary furniture should go We made excuses to touch the other as we moved fluidly through the space; I let my hand run across your shoulders and yours found their way around my waist when you lied and said we d take it We stood on the front porch to hem and haw at the two white rocking chairs and my cheeks blushed when you called me your wife We laid in bed next to one another as we listened to the summer rain fall above our heads You asked me to play family with you I laughed because we had no baby, so you said let s pretend to make one We pretended day and night even though we both knew your virility had long since been frozen in time and there were no more children living in your loins You asked if you could make love to me and begged for my tender touch We wrestled lovingly in the darkness, our only light the shining of your soul when you whimpered that you might one day fall in love with a girl like me We wrote love letters to the other and sent them out in texts You asked me to imagine growing old with you You told me about your memory of the old man selling flowers on the roadside and I said l would love to play piano We would move to the country and build the dream house that was already mirrored in the other s mind, and you d be mine and I d be yours and we d love until the end of time We stood face to face at the precipice of what felt like us, having tasted the other s salty skin, inhaled the other s hurried breath and seen the other s naked soul I looked at you and told you that I loved you And you looked back and said, oh, but dear, this was all just pretend 22
23 Beautiful Losers Il Cimice - Paolo Loschi 23
24 Windows by Rachele Salvini (previously published in Potluck Magazine - potluckmag.com) Gli Amanti (detail) - Paolo Loschi
25 Beautiful Losers In Antignano, the southernmost neighbourhood of Leghorn, lived a young girl called Amalia. Amalia was only eight years old, but she already understood why her mother didn t like her to lean over the window on the sea. **The* **window** *on the sea.** How many stories and poems, more or less beautiful but always stuffed with sighs and murmurs, could you find with a quick research on Google? You know the answer: there are infinite. But at the time when Amalia loved leaning from that big window with slightly chipped white shutters, Google didn t exist. Amalia was born at the beginning of the fifties, and I ve never known her except from seeing her pictures. My grandmother told me only some tiny bits of her story. I always try to ask for more, but she just flinches and changes subject. That s why I m going to tell it my way. My aunt needs to be remembered. I don t know whether Amalia could be defined exactly as a cute girl. She had a very high forehead, with thin, pitch black eyebrows over beautiful dark eyes. Her nose was small and straight, and her mouth was slightly crooked in a foxy smirk. In the morning, she had breakfast with her sister and her mother, who read the newspaper and sipped her tea. Right after finishing her milk, Amalia would slip away in her room. She hoped the crime news would keep her mother s eyes on the newspaper enough to let her run to the window, open it cautiously and finally look out, over the sea. Then her room, which usually smelled of the old withered flowers that the maid used to bring in every week, would fill with the salty sea smell. Amalia would try to breathe in the scent, exposing herself to the libeccio that whipped her hair. She felt the salt sizzling on her skin while the sun hit her like waves on the cliffs. After a while, afraid that her mother would find her, she would close the shutters and finally smell her own skin. She used to sink her nose in the hollow between the arm and the forearm, and she felt the essence of the sun on her soft epidermis. Her mother was a stark woman, with dark hair accurately fashioned into a bun and a pearl necklace that was too tight around her neck. She didn t like her daughter s pastime. And, to go back to what I was saying just a few lines ago, Amalia was too smart for her age to really think that her intransigent mother was simply afraid that the girl could lean a little too much. She had already understood that her mother wasn t bothered by the tragic image of the beloved daughter falling from the fourth floor of Villa Rosetta, the family cottage with light green walls. The girl, pushing herself out towards Leghorn s seaside, felt the black velvet dress going up her skinny legs wrapped in white stockings. When she really wanted to expose her pale little face to the sun, she knew she let half-view of her panties, under the rolled-up hem of her dress, and that was really a dishonour her mother couldn t bear, even if the room was totally empty. And even if someone had been there, anyway, they would have unlikely been interested in a eight-year-old girl s pants. But Amalia knew her mother. Of course, I only heard about her. I listened 25
26 Beautiful Losers patiently to all the stories about her. Every Sunday, she would drag Amalia to the church, where the priest would try his best to turn the girl s crooked smile into a gloomy expression of remorse. No one knew the reasons for that remorse, given her young age, but of course the priest could have explained it better than me. During the mass, Amalia kept her eyes down. Her mother watched her with an always controlled expression of pride as the girl followed the old priest slowly towards the altar. The black curls would fall on the collar of her white tunic, even though her mother and the maid had tried to fix them accurately with some horrendous metal hair clips, which Amalia hated deeply. The smell of the white tunic (which was always a bit yellowed on the hems and under the armpits), wasn t like the sea s at all. It always made Amalia feel like she had been imprisoned for more than an hour in a cage lined with sweat and mothballs a sensation that, needless to say, the girl couldn t stand. On Sunday evening, when she was back home at lunch, and her mother told her to finish off the roast meat on her plate, Amalia kept on smelling the scent of that awful tunic, the candles wax, the cold stone of the church. She never managed to eat the whole lunch, while her sister finished everything and even polished off the plate with a slice of bread. Amalia, instead, as soon as the mother would retire to her room and switch on the radio, would run and open her beloved window. * Amalia s pictures get more interesting as time passes. They re small, yellowed, of course black and white. Her hair, though, jumps out of the photographs as musk curls on the dark stone. Her face gets gaunter, the chin sharper, her eyes are blacker and blacker. Her eyebrows arch elegantly under the white forehead as her new beauty emerges slowly, evolving through the pictures year after year, gradually freeing her from her childish expressions. She kept leaning over the window of her room even after the day her mother had found her and grabbed her beautiful black curls, pulling her back. Amalia realised that her mother s long fingers could become even more evil enemies than the metal clips she used to arrange her wild hair every Sunday morning. But the sea didn t lose its appeal, even during her adolescence. She basked in the salty smell of her skin, snuggled in her white sheets on hot summer nights. As she grew up, she found out that every time she would open a window in a closed place, she felt an almost physical pang of pleasure. She enjoyed the cool and clean air that came in a gust of wind, stroking her face or raising her skirt. So she never stopped leaning over. At school, whenever the teacher decided that her classroom needed to be refreshed and opened the window, a beautiful smile appeared on Amalia s pale face. And when the girl finally moved to a house in Borgo Pinti, Florence, to study classics, she filled the breaks from her study of Ancient Greek with long reflections at the window. From there she would smoke a cigarette, watching the Florentines hurrying on the 26
27 cobblestones of the narrow alley. Of course, it wasn t like seeing the sea of her beloved Livorno, nor could she breathe in the salty smell and feel it on her skin for hours, but it was fine. The pleasure of the air on her face and shoulders reminded her of running towards the prohibited, when her tiny hands would pop the lock of the shutters, and she would listen carefully to sense her mother s quick steps in the hallway. Amalia had started dressing entirely in black. She didn t wear anything colourful, or, worse, white as the old altar-girl tunic. She said black looked good with her hair, and she had learnt an important lesson from her mother: if she dressed entirely in black, including her underwear, she could have leant over the window as much as she wanted. She wouldn t have to worry that her clothes would go up her hips and the contrast between her clothes and her underwear would catch other people s attention. She always thought about it when leaning over, even if there was no one around. The day everything changed, Amalia was sitting on a cherry-coloured pillow on the wooden floor of her Florentine house. The turquoise curtains were sliding slightly on the white walls. Every gust of the summer breeze made them gather. Amalia had decided to have a party for her birthday. She was turning twenty-two. Her classmates had been drinking red wine and smoking pot all night, as she had started to do as well since the beginning of her studies at Uni. No one had felt like going home yet, when Gesila came in. He was with Walter and Mauro, two of Amalia s classmates. He was unexpected. She didn t know him. He was a tall guy, with dark hair, almost as black as hers. He was wearing a camel-coloured shirt, open down to his chest. Amalia didn t get whether his arrival had provoked the silence or if everyone had kept on talking, laughing and smoking and she hadn t noticed. She didn t hear anything for a couple of seconds. She just watched him. His smirk was cutting the air. As he closed the door behind him, a sudden gust of wind had come from the window, arousing a tremor in the turquoise curtains, which blew dangerously towards the dark candles on the floor. Without faltering, Gesila headed towards the carpet where everyone was sitting. He didn t sit down. His inquisitive gaze scrutinized all the women in front of him. When he spotted Amalia, for a second, every girl around her disappeared. His killer eyes had stuck with hers: they stayed like this, motionless yet wild, and she held her breath. She felt his gaze on her, sliding over her skin as the sea foam on the shore. He was undressing her. He was a virtuoso. The girl had a sensation as though the strap of her black dress was falling down off her shoulder, and she turned abruptly to check. It was alright. It was at that point that Celeste, one of her classmates, got up to greet the three guys. Amalia remained on the pillow and caught another of Gesila s glances. His eyes had nailed her to the floor. They stared at each other again for a few seconds. That night, they slept together. My grandmother told me everything she could about her sister. She had never known exactly what really happened in that room, and she rarely cries when she talks about it. They couldn t have been more different. She
28 Beautiful Losers was blonde, always wearing pearls and dressing white as her mother wanted, keeping her straight hair fixed in a bun. She had thin, well-designed lips. And then there was Amalia, her sister, completely black, as one of those women in Giovanni Verga s novels. That night, my grandmother was sitting on a pillow, next to the cherry-coloured one that Amalia had left on the floor. She was drinking a glass of wine and just saw her sister and the unknown guy heading together towards her room. She said Gesila didn t need a word to take Amalia to bed. If this is true, he must have been very good to have done it without even opening his mouth. Still, it seems like it really went like this. He didn t say a word, he didn t ask her name or where she was from. He hadn t even brought a bottle of wine to make up for having snuck in uninvited. He held out his hand. I don t know whether people noticed and the two of them just went out of the room in silence, or if the others kept on laughing and smoking pot, handing glasses of Tuscan wine to each other. I have no idea, it s a detail I ve never known of. My family doesn t like to talk in detail about what happened next, but this is what I have come to believe. I can imagine how it went. I can assume Gesila guided her to her room and pushed her against the wall, looking at her with his smirk and his pitch black killer eyes. Something tells me that Gesila locked the door. And something else tells me that Amalia didn t notice it because she was too busy opening the big window of her room, from which she usually watched the passers-by. Gesila approached her slowly. He grabbed her wrists and pushed her towards the eaves. Amalia felt his Adam s apple as she brushed her lips against his neck and he tilted his head back, closing his eyes. Gesila was a great kisser. I know he was. He was one of those who grabs your wrists, your neck, your face. They stroke them, holding them tightly. They know what to do. And I am sure Amalia must have felt on top of the world, being with such an attractive and fascinating guy in a room in Florence, in summer, when she was just turning twenty-two. The window was open, and even if she couldn t smell the salty sea scent that she loved, I like to think that she was happy with the scent of incense and smoked meat coming from the nearby apartments. If all that hadn t happened, my great aunt would have probably become one of those emancipated women, like the protagonists of Anais Nin s stories. She would have been capable of going to her lover s place (never her husband s) with a wine bottle in one hand. She would wear pointed boots, a long coat and nothing else under it. She would have had an adventurous life and she would have just partially remembered the times when her mother used to tighten her beautiful black curls in awful buns. She would have laughed, traveled, loved intensely and spent the end of her life breathing the salty sea smell of her city, sitting on Antignano s steps, smoking slim and long cigarettes and not giving a damn about getting cancer. But that night Gesila touched her white, long neck with his nose. Amalia sighed many times, as her trembling fingers slid over his chest. Gesila sank his hands in her pale behind. It was full and soft. She felt his erection against her thigh and spread her legs to embrace it, as their sighs got intense. Gesila knew what to do. It wasn t a surprise that he was good, from the moment he had come in 28
29 and stripped her with his gaze she had no doubt he would be. She raised her dress up her thighs and hips, as all her clothes did everytime she leant over the window. Gesila untied her garters, and Amalia was unsurprised at how he could be so natural and swift in his moves. She just let herself go to his kisses, stopping only to look at his black eyes, feeling filled with him even if she hadn t undressed him yet. He was the one who did it. He held her nape with his hand and unfastened his belt with the other. His trousers fell on the ground. Amalia didn t see him pull off his underwear, but she felt him inside her. She let out a deep sigh and he smirked. Amalia didn t seem to notice or care. He put his right hand on her lips, pushing inside her as her eyes closed in a flash of rapture. Then Gesila grabbed her behind with both his hands and lifted her. Amalia couldn t help moaning. He was strong. With his trousers around his ankles, he slowly approached the window. Hot and sticky air was coming in. Amalia didn t feel any wind on her face. Gesila put her delicately on the eaves, then forced her legs wider. Amalia lost her balance for a second, but he held her steadily. He was getting excited and pushing her to the brink, floors over the heads of people walking on the street. Amalia didn t hear the voices nor care that someone could look from the window of the facing building and see her naked back. Gesila was kissing her neck, nailing her hands to the parapet. If she had fallen, she would have gone right to that hell her mother had long talked about during her adolescence, when Amalia had started questioning her habit to drag her to mass every Sunday. It was the inferno where all those who went to bed with a stranger at a party were going to. A hell where Gesila was pushing her towards, moaning and digging his nails into her flesh until it hurt. Gesila sighed hoarsely in her ears. The pale, wide forehead of the girl was shining with sweat, and the heat of Florentine August was burning her temples. She felt the humidity sticking to her skin like a web, but she liked it. Under her there was only the infernal nothing. A delicate gust of wind hit the black curls on her back, whipping round onto her full cheeks. Gesila felt a flash of bliss and suddenly wasn t holding her. I don t want to imagine this scene. I can write non-stop about my great aunt having sex with a stranger, but I can t go on telling you about her falling from the fourth floor, as her mother had predicted long before. In my imagination, she s not a eight-year old girl that leans over a window with the white and chipped shutters of Villa Rosetta. There are no light green walls that smell of sea. The Amalia in the window that I like to imagine is a woman with long, black hair and alluring eyes, with fishnets and untied garters, pushing herself out over the inferno. I like to imagine her as ironical, almost happy with falling from one of the places she liked most, one of her guilty pleasures, in that mythical, unique way. But she probably spent those last seconds with an expression of pure terror on her face, with tears in her eyes, as if she knew she shouldn t have died, not that early, not like that. Under her, Florence was burning.
30 Boogie Boy by Donna Dallas Gli amici in festa (detail) - Paolo Loschi
31 Beautiful Losers I have a bag of marijuana in the fridge, I have fake tits and your little black book in my purse. It s 3:00 A.M. and I m waiting for this sleeping pill to kick in and settle me do wn into a tunnel with vapor blue lights and cryptic chants. I won t die tonight, I will grow into an old, rotten corpse. Right now I am beautiful Venus-like. Almost as beautiful as my 24th birthday, the night we went out and snorted line after line in Studio 54. The same night you told me you had aids and in a split second I was sober, my life dropping like Intra-venous into your blood. Save you. No, we ve never slept together and I knew you were gay since the day I knew you but I have loved you with every fiber, every false eyelash and every penny I have given to support your habits. Now I m feeling it. The faint calls of sleep, of dreamy boys jumping over my bed. I count them sometimes, flick my tongue at them like a desperate frog, search for your face among their shirtless David bodies. If you pass through my dreams tonight, send your love, send boogie chants from your thirty years of boogie fever in every disco in New York City with every beautiful man I could barely imagine between my legs...lonely is the night when all the boys are gone and all I have are your baby 31
32 Beautiful Losers Damaged by Donna Dallas I have dimply, fatty cellulite on my buttocks that you immediately highlighted and centered as my weak-point that has now become my weak-point and even though the cellulite cannot easily be broken up and dissolved, my self-esteem can and did. Who else would take my stretch marks, temper tantrums and chewed up fingernails? I covered up my tattoos for fear of your embarrassment. I lengthened my skirts and I stopped wearing high heels so we would be equal in height. I hungered for your approval, starved myself as I fed you milk from my own breast to capture the sugar of your words. I leak sour yeast that runs down my legs. I am broken luggage you carelessly carted around your airport. Leave me at the baggage check like sperm left on the sheets. You are up and away, your flight to nowhere. I sit, with dead womb. 32
33 Beautiful Losers Divano - Paolo Loschi 33
34 Marcy Rae Henry This issue s authors bios Natasha Sondakh is a budding writer living in Jakarta, Indonesia. An aspiring literary translator, she is currently pursuing a project of translation: she translates Indonesian short stories by Ali Akbar Navis into English, and Asian folktales into Bahasa Indonesia to distribute in Jakarta s trash picker communities. Natasha also writes creative essays, poetry and prose; three of her poems received recognition from the 2017 Scholastic Art & Writing Awards. She has also written articles for TEDx conferences and Fandom WIKIA, a keynote speech for the opening of St. Regis Jakarta Residences, and is Managing Editor of Feedback magazine. You can find her online portfolio at Diarra English is currently a third year student at Loyola University New Orleans where she studies English Writing and Sociology. She resides in Cambridge, MA where she enjoys spending time with her family and friends. Ashley Sgro has always been infatuated with words and writing. As an avid reader and eternal writer, she dedicates her free time to composing poetry and flash fiction. Ashley currently lives in New Jersey. Visit her at is a Latina born and raised in Mexican-America. She is an activist and a mediocre musician. Her 2006 publication, The CTA Chronicles, received a City of Chicago Community Arts Assistance Grant and, according to Audrey Niffenegger, author of The Time Traveler s Wife, Marcy Rae Henry has written the true Chicago, the true El, stuffed with humans, source of strange encounters and disturbing memories. Her gorgeous writing captures the transience and the beauty of the city. Henry s confounding novel, Cumbia Therapy, received an Illinois Arts Council Fellowship, but remains unpublished. Her writing has appeared in World Haiku Review, Chicago Literati, The Chaffey Review and is forthcoming in Shanghai Literary Review. She was recently accepted to Lighthouse Writer s Workshop. Ms. M.R. Henry is an Associate Professor of Humanities and Fine Arts at Harold Washington College Chicago. Jessica Simpkiss lives and works in Virginia Beach, Virginia with her husband and four-year-old daughter. She has a degree in Art History from George Mason University. While she has always loved writing, she is returning to the art form after a 10-year hiatus, in hopes of finding her voice again. Her work has most recently been published or is forthcoming in FishFood Magazine and The Feast. Donna Dallas studied creative writing and philosophy at NYU. She meandered about before she became a successful businesswoman, married and mothered two beautiful children. Over the years, she has written down events from scribbles to journals. She has bundled stories of lives that fell apart in front of her or with her. Donna has been published in Mud Fish, Nocturnal Lyric, The Café Review, The New York Quarterly and was lucky enough to study under William Packard back in the day. She took a slight hiatus and is recently found or forthcoming in 34th Parallel, Anti-Heroin Chic, The Opiate Magazine, Sick Lit Magazine, Furious Gazelle and several other publications. Rachele Salvini is an Italian 23-year-old student of creative writing. She earned an MA in Creative Writing at University of Westminster, London. She is moving to Oklahoma State University to start her PhD in English. Her work has been published on several magazines both online and on paper.
35 Beautiful Losers literary outlet EDITORS IN CHIEF Alfonso Colasuonno Austin Wiggins Dario Cannizzaro EDITORIAL STAFF Rairigh Drum Lauren Rubin ART AND CREATIVE DIRECTION Nico Carone MARKETING & SOCIAL Richard Gibney FEATURED ARTIST Paolo Loschi Every quarterly release of Beautiful Losers Magazine features original artwork from an indie visual artist. If you re an artist and would like to be featured, please reach out to us at to the attention of our Art Director, with a short bio and your thoughts on Why you would be a great featured artist. Please do not send any artwork via unless requested so by our staff. Copyright 2017 by Beautiful Losers Magazine. Some rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited. Beautiful Losers Magazine is protected under Creative Commons.
36 Featured artist: Paolo Loschi Paolo Loschi was born in Treviso in His versatile personality stood out very early in his artistic career because of his passionate creativity and his unconventional vision. He attended a Music School during his youth years and later changed his course of studies to entirely devote himself to visual art. This how he got to know a number of painters and graphic artists of the area of Treviso and Venice. His particular sensitivity to music and sounds, however, is a major ingredient of the lyrical and gestural character of his pictorial language, which had him defined as a painter with a good ear. He reached his audience very quickly thanks to his incisive and analytical sign, at times sarcastic and introspective, always able to explore and bring out the intimacy of his subjects and to push figurative expression to its extremes. Since 1996, he has been featured in numerous solo and collective exhibitions in Italy, Europe and the United States. He mostly works with art galleries in Rome, Milan, New York (USA), Amsterdam (Netherlands) and Berlin (Germany). Between 2001 and 2002, he has worked in Seville, Spain, on a project that gave him a chance to collaborate with a few major Spanish artists. The expressive contamination and the extraordinary light of Southern Spain were essential elements in the chromatic maturation of his style. Since 2014, Paolo began a fruitful collaboration with artist Fabrizio Fontana of Salento, Apulia. From the perfect fusion of their styles derived a symbolic, ironic and desecrating third artist, who gave life to the series of works named Jioki Loschi. Paolo Loschi is a tireless experimenter prone to artistic contamination between different languages. A few series of his works have inspired and have been featured in the scenery of major theatrical plays. He has designed the covers of Massimo Bassan CD albums, the book cover of a novel and the illustration of the famous musical book The Carnival of the Animals by Camille Saint-Saëns. He currently lives and works in Giavera del Montello, Treviso, where he retired several years ago to accommodate his need to live in close contact with nature. Shows 2017 LIGNUM HERO EST - Action painting with Fabrizio Fontana. Ostuni, Italy 2015 AAF - Art & Ars Gallery Amsterdam - The Netherlands TARAB Gruppo Petit Prince Ravello, Italy IN NOMINE SANCTI -The Others - Art & Ars Gallery Torino, Italy ANGEL OF THE EARTH Orizzonti Arte contemporanea Ostuni, Italy SET UP Art Fair - Art & Ars Gallery Bologna, Italy IN NOMINE SANCTI Art & Ars Gallery, AAF- Milano, Italy 2014 JIOKI LOSCHI Art & Ars Gallery NY, USA JIOKI LOSCHI Art & Ars Gallery Galatina, Italy 2013 TELL-LINE Caronte Spazio espositivo. Treviso, Italy TELL-LINE Villa Wassermann - Giavera del Montello, Italy The Hiding Places Are (utterly) Empty Gallery Molly Krom, NY, USA 2012 BABEL Magazzeno delle lane c/o Lanificio Paoletti. Follina, Italy NewYorkers Polaroids Centro culturale Musikrooms. Trevis, Italy AAF - Affordable Art Fair Milano - Vagabond Gallery NY, Milano, Italy AAF - Affordable Art Fair Milano - Per Capita Gallery, Milano, Italy Annual Exibition - Per Capita Gallery, Villa le Maschere, B. del Mugello, Italy 2011 Friend is four letter word - Vagabond Schmarotzer Gallery, Berlin, Germany AAF - Affordable Art Fair Milano - Vagabond Gallery NY, Milano, Italy AAF - Affordable Art Fair Milano - PerCapita Gallery, Milano, Italy Arezzo Arte Fiera - Per Capita Gallery, Arezzo, Italy Annual Exibition - Per Capita Gallery, Pisa,Italy 2010 South Africa Meets The World - Galleria Forme d Arte, Venezia, Italy AAF - Affordable Art Fair in New York, Muriel Guepin Gallery, NY, USA Tales from The Thousand and Second Night - Vagabond Schmarotzer Gallery, NY,USA Vanity Face Spazio Spinazzè, S.Donà di Piave, Venezia, Italy Face/art, portraits in the age of facebook - Studio Iroko & Tortona Creativity, Milano, Italy 2009 Merry Christmas - Galleria Browning, Asolo,Treviso, Italy COLORS Notebook - Fabrica, Lisbona,Portugal Shop Art - Muriel Guepin Gallery, NY, USA Hot Art-Cold Drinks - Vagabond Schmarotzer Gallery, NY, USA Amsterdam Art Fair - Vagabond Schmarotzer Gallery, Amsterdam, NZ Verger Art Fair - Vagabond Schmarotzer Gallery, MiamiBeach, USA - Galleria Polin, Treviso, Italy NewYorkers Polaroids - Spazio Bevacqua Panigai, Treviso, Italy 2008 Angel de Tierra Colarte Gallery Santander, Spain. Italia Circa - Da San Remo a New York - Marzia Frozen, San Remo, Italy 2007 Italian Dreamz Silvia s House, Brooklyn, NY, Usa Colonizacija Jaica residenza patrocinata UNESCO, Sarajevo, Bosnia E. Colonizacija Jaica Galleria IPC, Sarajevo, Bosnia E.
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!"#$%&'(!#$%")!"#$%&'"#()&*" *&+",-%".)(/0(1#++%"(2#,3%45 Maggi Hambling: Painter and sculptor 1945 Born in Sudbury, Suffolk 1969 Left the Slade School of Fine Art, having previously studied at Camberwell,
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When I wake up, the other side of the bed is cold. My fingers stretch out, seeking Prim s warmth but finding only the rough canvas cover of the mattress. She must have had bad dreams and climbed in with