“Code Switching of the New Romance,” new prose by Kate Shaw


Spanish cropped up in their discourse in a very predictable way. Their relationship was established in English — her first language, his second — and Spanish tended to couch the more intimate sentiments. For her, it created distance — both from the topic and from him — when they traipsed into territory that was rife with vulnerability, con dudas.

—Pues ¿por qué crees que te sientes así?

Spanish, in case asking directly about his emotions was too big a threat to his masculinidad, to the machismo of his culture. Spanish to distance herself from a fair question, but one that asked for vulnerability from a new partner who maybe wasn’t ready to give it. Spanish, porque tenía miedo.

She used code-switching as a buffer, a way to protect herself when she took a tentative step into the thick haze that was an infinity of potential futures for them.

It was different for him.

—Te escondes con mi idioma.

He didn’t fear that haze. The lack of clarity was something he simply accepted as inevitable, even beautiful in its incertidumbre. His Spanish was meant to pierce it boldly, shoot it through with light — aunque efímera — so they could both see, at least for a second. See each other.

The contexts overlapped almost perfectly. If you didn’t know them — as individuals, as partners — you might think the role Spanish played for each of them was identical. You had to have a much more personal perspective to see that what allowed her to hide was what most allowed him to show.

these words by Kate Shaw were inspired by the photography of Alison Scarpulla

From the author: “What spoke to me most about the photo was the haziness of the image and the reflections. I linked the lack of visual clarity in the photo to the uncertainty of the future shared by the two characters, which they approach in different ways. The idea that a reflection appears identical to the source it reflects without actually being the same is connected to the fact that the characters use Spanish in the same contexts but with very different intentions.”

“A Field Guide to Fairies,” new prose by Samantha Lapierre

Autosave-File vom d-lab2/3 der AgfaPhoto GmbH

When I was young, my mom would dress me in a warm coat and bring me out into the autumn woods next to our cottage, and we would look for fairies.

In my mittened hands I held a pen and notebook. My mom held a pack of cigarettes. We would traipse through the crunchy leaves, our boots sinking into the soft ground. We would weave in and out of the birch bark trees, and our dog, Pal, was never far behind.

My mom would tell me that fairies live in small nooks and crannies in the woods. They live in trees, they play under the large tops of mushrooms, and they are magical. They are friends with birds, bunnies, and other creatures.

I’d spot fairy houses and jot down the sightings, and my mom would spot some too. She was at her gentlest during fairy expeditions. She would sip coffee from a travel mug, hold my hand, and listen to my excited chatter before it was time to leave.

When I grieve for my mom now, I grieve for her at her gentlest. The leaves in the treetops turn orange. A chickadee calls out from somewhere in the cityscape. I try not to grieve too hard, or too angrily. When I smell cigarette smoke in the cold fall air, I am still a girl wrapped up tight in her secondhand coat, surrounded by fairies.

this prose by Samantha Lapierre was inspired by the art of Alison Scarpulla