His Living Wife

By Kathleen J. Woods

I have not seen my husband yet. Each night, I await his footsteps, the rustle of feathers outside my door. I lie with my eyes closed against the dark. I am not allowed to look.

They say my husband is a monster. A winged serpent the length of a river. A lion with the snout of a boar. A death’s head, death’s face, the stink of rot. So said Apollo to my father, my father to me. My sisters wept. He will split my throat and take my hair to bed his den. He will lick the muscle from my bone. My sisters wailed and placed a diadem of leaves upon my head. They draped me in white robes and the plainest jewelry. On my neck, a golden seed on a string.

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Propellers

By Michael Dean Clark

The glare off the helicopter propeller is blinding until Stazi realizes two things: there is no helicopter and it’s nighttime. He’s also wearing sunglasses and his name is not Stazi. Rather, it is Stalin Lenin Gordimer, but his parents’ hatred stopped at his birth certificate because, for no discernible reason, they called him only Stazi until he killed them. Of course he didn’t actually kill them. He calls them every day at the same time, but he feels like he should shoot them or at least burn their house down because what other destiny awaits a man whose given, legal nomenclature is Stalin Lenin? If he doesn’t slaughter at least a million people by the time they are erecting statues in his honor, he will have to encourage posterity to declare his life a failure.

But the propeller won’t stop glinting, even when he says aloud, “There is no helicopter! And helicopters have rotors!”

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INTERVIEW: Kate Winter of Girls Underground

Kate Winter is a writer, artist, and ritualist originally from New England, now living in Eugene, Oregon where she runs Girls Underground, a blog about the Girls Underground archetype in mythology and popular culture. She is the author of Kharis: Hellenic Polytheism Explored and Dwelling on the Threshold: Reflections of a Spirit-Worker and Devotional Polytheist and holds a degree in comparative mythology and ritual from Goddard College.

To kick of Paper Tape’s Underground issue, in this interview with Paper Tape editor Kristy Harding, we talk about what girl underground stories are, their roots in ancient myth, and Kate’s work researching Girls Underground.

PT: What are girl underground stories?

KW: “Girls Underground” is a name I came up with to identify I certain pattern, or archetype, I saw in various stories – as ancient as myth and folklore, and as modern as movies and YA fiction, however with the emphasis being on the more modern examples. The basic plot is that a girl – usually either fairly young, like 7, or a teenager, like 16 – with absent or distant parents, often dissatisfied with her life, makes a choice or wish (or mistake) which propels her on an adventure into another world unlike her own.

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This Word Is Cop

By Harmony Button

I had a pretty awesome childhood. My best friend Greg lived on a hill out in the middle of farm country with corn fields and grape vines and crab apples. In the fall, the trees would drop buckets of gnarly apples that would roll down the drive and collected in a soupy bank at the side of the street. This was back in the days when disgusting things were totally entertaining, so of course we poked at them, squealing at the worms and mush. We didn’t have The SnapChap or The Twittergram, so instead of taking pictures of ourselves pretending to eat nasty worm-apples, we had to get a little devious.

I don’t remember whose idea it was, but it didn’t take very much effort to relocate the sweet heap of semi-rotten fruit into a speed-bump-ish berm that spanned both lanes of Dublin Road. Then we crouched down behind the corn stalks in the field on the far side of the road and waited, gleefully, for the next vehicle. Continue reading

Photo Finish

By Dana Bowman

Contemplating the beginning of a run is like contemplating world peace,  cumbersome and impossible.  She proceeded anyway, and slowly her jangled nerves and tired muscled eased into a rhythm.  The soft pad, pad, pad of her feet against the sodden leaves on the road kept time with her heartbeat.  A squirrel skittered across her path, and one of the neighbor dogs barked longingly at her as she passed.  The town felt quilted from loud sounds by the cold.

It was Saturday evening, so she avoided Main street.  Usually this was a favorite part of her run, always someone to wave to; the glowing windows filled with antiques and snow shovels or cheerful floral displays.  But this night she headed out of town, to the dirt road that would lead her to fields brown with stubble. She craved a solitary place so badly it made her grimace.  The dirt road was lumpy and damp, slowing her considerably.  This, she realized, was good.  She could watch things.  She could just run and breathe and look.   In the distance, a creek bed was laced with more of the inky black trees, their branches like spidery cracks in a windshield.  The night glowed behind them creating cut images and silhouettes in the blue.  On a fencepost she actually spotted a hawk waiting for some poor field mouse.  It fluffed its feathers and posed for her, looked cross.  No meal yet.   Tonight was not for speed or pacing or tempo runs.  Tonight was a night to run as far away as possible.  And then, run farther still.

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If the Shoe Fits

By Joelle Berger

“Oh babe, those look phe-no-me-nal!” cooed the saleswoman at Saks.  With such great articulation, she must have been serious.

“Seriously, the sparkle is like, so special – SO special.  They will look fab-u-lous with your wedding dress – they’re SO you.  They’re you!”

After being an integral part of my life for about nine minutes, she certainly thought she had me figured out.  I wobbled toward a full-length mirror for a closer look at these Jimmy Choo four-inch silver stilts.  Rocking my gray boyfriend tee, weekend hair knot, and hole-ridden short jorts – a relic of jeans from college – I twisted and heel-toed my feet to see the sparklers in action.

“Uh, I’m sure they’d look better if I was in my dress,” I called back to my seated 78-year-old Mom-Mom.  Under grandma goggles, she usually thinks I look beautiful in everything (or hides her true feelings quite well).  But this time, even my utmost supporter looked concerned.

“Can you walk in those?” she asked, as if it mattered.

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Mount Kearsarge, 2012

By Cory Johnston

Maybe it’s because I’ve been here before. In previous years, down to the day, down to the hour. Sweat pools on our shoulder blades. A Camelback is passed around the circle, same as always. But the view from atop Mount Kearsarge is different.

We see the same things, of course: the vast green forests of western New Hampshire that stretch out under the blue afternoon sky on their way towards becoming eastern Vermont. We hear the same sounds: the wind against the steel weather tower, the conversation of fellow hikers echoing off the stone mountainside before falling into the shaded forest path.

But to hear people’s words echo, to stop once more, and once more, to examine a small film of lichen on some nearby stone, summons no deep chill from my spine. That sense of awe does not return, as I do. I accept that the scene is beautiful. I consider the fact that it must be so. But the mountaintop that once blinded me with brilliant sunlight reflecting off stone and trees—reflecting off everything—today falls in the penumbra cast by a slate grey cloud that passes through the sun’s gaze.

The others laugh and breathe deeply. They exchange the Camelback’s water for bottles of pale beer I brought in my pack. They line up cameras and take pictures, then line up cameras at different angles and take more pictures.

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