On the drive home, our main character thinks about doing a little spell, doing a little magic.

Sometimes the best way to get over something is to just write about it and talk it out with yourself, which is a lot of what spells are. Even if you don’t believe in magic, you can probably appreciate the power of ritual and how doing something in an organized and thoughtful way can be a significant act of closure (or renewal, depending on the situation). She thinks about the things she needs for her spell and gazes out the window, getting everything ready in her head while her friend sings along to pop songs on the radio.

She hugs her friend goodbye and gets out of the car,runs up the driveway. She unlocks her front door and hugs her cat,then takes off her shoes and washes her hands in the bathroom sink.

We get a good view of our main character’s apartment. Everything looks orderly enough, though there are some items of clothing tossed over a desk chair, and some more items of clothing folded and stacked in a sloppy pile on an ottoman to donate or give away to a friend when she remembers to do so. Her bed is unmade, the sheets and blankets swirled together in a cozy heap. There isn’t much cat fur floating around, as our main character wipes down the surfaces in her apartment and vacuums frequently. There is artwork everywhere, framed and hanging on the wall or scraps of paper taped up. She opens up a cabinet under the sink and pours some cat food onto the dish on the floor near the closet.

“There ya go,” she says to her cat. “Okay, let me get some paper.”

But before she gets the paper, she straightens up the blankets on her bed and puts the folded clothes into a bag. She puts the dishes on the drainboard away into another cabinet under the sink.She washes her hands and dries them on her pants,then ties her back into a ponytail. She picks up the clothes hanging off the back of her desk chair and folds them, puts them away in her bureau. She sits down on the desk chair and leans her head back,
stretching her neck and her back. She takes her notebook out of her bag and fishes a pen out from the bottom of the bag after searching with her hand for a moment.She stands up and lights a stick of incense, placing it carefully in the incense holder on top of her bookcase.

She sits back down at the desk and rolls a spliff. She lights it, then picks up the pen and starts writing in her notebook. She writes the word “BANISHMENT” in all capital letters and draws some cartoon vampire bats flying out of the word. She puffs on the spliff and spends some time drawing the bats, adding flourishment to the letters and drawing a border around everything. She puffs on the spliff and blows the smoke down on her notebook.

She starts writing quickly, not stopping to go back and read what she’s already written, just keeps writing and writing about everything she has been thinking about. She writes about feeling hopeless and feeling like she keeps making the same mistakes but she doesn’t know what else she should be doing. She writes about her insecurities about her finances and her status in life as compared to what she sees as the accomplishments of her peers.

She writes about her fear of being alone forever and her fear of being unlovable. She writes about her curse of attracting the wrong type of person always. She writes about wanting to be better at making decisions for herself. She writes about wanting to think through things
better. She writes about wanting to know what she actually wants,what she actually wants to feel.

She writes about setting an intention. What does she want out of this.She wants to be able to breathe. She wants to be able to feel like she is allowed to exist without all of the things that she feels that she lacks. She wants the ability to forgive and move on. She wants the ability to forgive herself and others for mistakes and transgressions. She wants to stop being so goddamn dramatic about every little thing. She wants to be less naive.

She drops the pen and massages the right hand with her left. It is a good start, she thinks.


Alexandra Naughton is based in Richmond, California. She is the founder and editor-in-chief of Be About It Press, established in 2010. She is the author of six poetry collections including You Could Never Objectify Me More Than I’ve Already Objectified Myself (Punk Hostage Press, 2015), I Will Always Be In Love (Paper Press, 2015), and I Wish You Never Emailed Me (Ghost City Press, 2016). Her first novel, American Mary, was published by Civil Coping Mechanisms in 2016. Her latest collection of short stories, Rapid Transit, was published in March 2018 by Nomadic Press. The excerpt above is from her forthcoming novel.

Luis Lázaro Tijerina was born in Salina, Kansas. Mr. Tijerina has a Master of Art degree in history, concentration being military history and diplomacy. He is a published author of military theory, short stories, essays and poetry. Mr. Tijerina resides in Vermont.