word by Josh Elyea
colour by Jason Middlebrook
What do you do when the lights have gone out?
You take a walk. Not outside, where the autumn has turned leaves red and a familiar chill has crept into the Montreal wind, but rather inside: you take a walk through the desolate hallways of the mind. It’s best to ignore the part of your consciousness that tells you this is just your mind imagining itself – you can’t know what the inside of your head looks like – and continue to press deeper into the increasingly detailed world of your brain.
The further you walk, the more you notice the darkness; it’s not apparent at first, but before long you can’t help but see that in all these rooms, in all these wrinkles and rooms and chambers and palaces and dungeons that are dedicated to the things you cherish, the lights are out.
After wandering the halls for a while, you begin to wonder whether your brain works the way it used to; you find yourself pondering whether these rooms can still light up in the way they did when you were young, when things were simple and you didn’t feel so used and so jaded.
You might make an effort to stop in each of these rooms and flick the small switch that hangs precariously on the darkly-papered walls; you might find yourself taking note of which lights shine bright and which bulbs now seem dim, and what this says about how you value the things stored in each room.
You’ll wonder what all this has to do with your addiction to entertainment, and whether there’s irony to be found in the fact that the room dedicated to Friends shines brighter than the room dedicated to your friends. This might be coincidental, but you can’t really know because you’ve never taken the time to understand irony.
You’ll begin to wonder where all the colours of your mind went, and what it says about you as a person that you don’t even have the requisite neuroelectricity to power the bulbs in the rooms you deem essential, those dedicated to creativity and personal fitness and Bob fucking Dylan.
You’ll ignore the advice of the people closest to you, who tell you to pull yourself up by your bootstraps and focus on getting ahead by doing what you can. You’ll try and tell them it isn’t as simple as flicking a switch; by this point, you despise the colours of your mind, and you’re used to life without the lights on.
It’ll start small. You’ll find a room, somewhere deep in the right hemisphere of your brain, where a bright yellow light burns from behind a tightly locked door. Inside will be a book or a movie or a song, maybe even a person or a pill that’ll walk with you, to remind you that there’s still vivid colour to be found, if you only take the time to turn on the lights.*
See more art by Jason Middlebrook
word by Keah Hansen
colour by Tomasz Kartasinksi
16 minutes left of class. The seconds drift onto the floor, clustering like fallen leaves or crumpled love notes around her converse shoes. Laughter seeps sideways from her mouth – I inhale her sounds. Filling the blank spaces on the corners of my notebook with cryptic doodles. Inside jokes nestled on the pages, shading in the loopy curves with tenderness. She slips me a mint, like any other day, under the roaming eyes of the teacher and spinning discussion, which floats to the florescent lights in a hazy, vapid way. I follow the din upwards, over her curly hair and alight on the fire alarm, with vague notions of apprehension and pensive yearning.
Today, the mint is imbued with significations, defining our comfy closeness on her worn yellow couch and clandestine ice cream escapades (alternating spoons of chocolate ripple and gossip) with flaming gravity. We snicker together over something trivial, then with giddiness I alone levitate equidistant to her forehead. The bell sounds and the class streams out. We tumble to the water fountain together and pause. She splashes over me with her usual locutions while I take a long sip of water.
The water is icy and clarifies my thoughts. 6 months of uncertainty. 6 weeks of contemplation. I’m bobbing here, staring at the grandeur of the stars from this makeshift raft. Her crocked elbow is my mooring. The water ebbs unceasingly. I feel seasick (or is it butterflies?). She’s never had a boyfriend. We’ve held hands in the hallways. Oh to hell with it, I dive in.
My statement, a small confession of love, comes to her in small timid waves. We are the last ones in the building. I’m fixated on those worn converses again; her feet dance nervously while I’m a shipwrecked mess, letting the waves pass through my lips. The rocks hold me steadfast on the hopes for our relationship; they are sharp and make my voice waver more than I’d like.
Her features are catatonic. She contorts her face into a sympathetic smile. I surface into the glaring sunlight. Her face is burnt; she doesn’t understand my watery, viscous existence. These mermaid musings mean nothing to her. My ears are clogged. I feel the palpable pressure of her discomfort; my skin is cracking as impressions of my declaration sink into her body.
Another bell sounds. I slink back into the water, my element. Half coherent and murky, I don’t need to define myself or reveal my pinings to anyone. I’ll cry tonight, alone, but gather my tears as jewels. Later, I’ll string them together and wear them on my neck, something beautiful and brave.
For now, I drift away. A current pulls her brisk minty existence away from my waterlogged love.
From the author: “I was inspired by this artwork to write a story about an experience of revealing your romantic affection to a friend of the same gender. The blue material at the bottom of the piece expressed to me both bed sheets and water. I interpreted the water as a symbol of renewal and rebirth, which I related to coming out with your sexual orientation.
The positioning of the legs also gave me the impression of figuratively “diving in” to a relationship or a new experience. The opaqueness of the blue inspired me to think of the colour as a form of protection, which I developed later in the story. Furthermore, the vertical tiered nature of the piece affected the progression of my story, while the Facebook friendship sign symbolized the ambiguities of relationships, especially during adolescence as we have a tendency to question our sexuality.”
#14- Blue, red, blue. Sometimes what’s important is just what’s right in front of your face.
#37- This sculpture was huge on the bottom but small on the top and it made me think of my dad’s girlfriend, Shelley. That’s what I have to call her, Shelley, like we’re friends or something.
#42- Vaginas. Art is full of vaginas.
#71- Egg all over a black wall, yolk and white and shell and everything. Like someone just couldn’t stand just looking at nothing anymore.
#89- Supermarket aisles. I got lost in a supermarket once. I didn’t know I was lost until someone found me.
#91- It looks like a building we used to see all the time that was covered in shapes and colours. My mom would say, “It’s too much like a Kandinsky,” and my dad would say, “You never like anything.” I thought it looked like an elephant, but I was just a little kid. My sister told me it was a picture of the most beautiful music in the world. She always saw things I didn’t.
#111- The inside of a really big room.
#112- Two triangles fighting, one is upside down. This one was very red.
#118- This one looks like a lake. I remember thinking lots of pictures were of the ocean. When I was a kid, we used to take trips to the beach, but I found out a little while ago that we were swimming in a lake, not an ocean, so now I’m not sure if I’ve ever seen the ocean in art at all.
#154- Myself. But the art was just a big broken mirror. I could also see the other people looking at it.
word by Leah Mol
colour by Carlos Garci
From the author: “One of the things that intrigues me most about art is how it can invoke such specific and personal memories, feelings, and ideas for so many different people. I also find it interesting that what a person sees in a piece of art often says much more about that person than the art itself.
This all started because he’d seen an old movie where some stoned chick with an 80’s crop cut said something about when you grow up, your heart dies. (You’d know the flick; kids in detention.) It was supposed to be funny, but it scared the shit out of him. Nothing funny about compromising your soul, he’d thought. That’s why they were out here in the cold, freezing their tits off. This was about never losing sight of your soul.
The mask was a little tight against his face- it felt right. The fox had cost him $17.99 at the costume store, a small price to pay for immortality, and it was one with him now, a new face. His true face. The book of voodoo had said they had to choose masks they thought reflected their character, their true selves. It said this was the most important part of the ritual. Before you could change something about the world and your place in it, you had to know, really know, who you were inside. In your soul. That’s why voodoo doesn’t work for grown-ups in the West: they’re all dead inside.
His breath in the cold leaves little beads of condensation that run down the inside of the mask and out the bottom. He watches them and listens to the crackle of the fire underneath the languid, off-time clapping that seems to pervade most any pagan ritual. The children’s chanting is hushed now, but it’ll grow, feverish and in leaps and bounds, to a frenzied crescendo when the moon is brightest. He isn’t sure they’re speaking the right words, but he hopes whatever gods they’re praying to get the jist. Through the slitted eyes of the fox he tries to count the number of snowflakes the fire touches. He can’t. There’s too many, a million. If the magic works, the flakes will never melt. The inevitable thaw that follows the cold will never come, and they’ll endure, ageless, in the depths of winter.