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Fiction inspired by the journal of Kindred Black

Sol pulled her jeans down slowly as she scanned the walls around her. The bathroom was covered top to bottom in magazine cutouts of flowers. Daffodils, tulips, roses, daisies, sunflowers (or girasoles). The fluorescent ceiling light reflected off the shiny patchwork as she bobbed her head around the room, reminding her of Tinkerbell zipping around breathlessly.

She sat on the old porcelain toilet, admired the cluster of pink and red roses near her feet. Behind the curling edges, she could see the concrete crumbling where it met the floor.

This old bathroom… she exhaled unsteadily and tears started forming in her eyes. She washed her hands with a thick coating of the salty sad between her and the ancient mirror. She looked up just once, her eyes red and skin patchy as always in this unflattering light. …

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Photo by Anthony Macajone

At 35, I’m starting to think seriously about grad school. The thought was unexpected, materializing sometime in June.

I won’t say I was surprised. By June we were three strange months into the pandemic and, like so many, I had gone through countless mental expeditions and detours. Time took on an almost laughable quality. Minutes felt like hours, days felt like seconds. The linear nature we normally plunk along with turned into a wide tarmac of something very different, something unnerving.

My job was still there, but it was excruciating. My clients (small hospitality businesses) were lurching and capsizing. My boss was an emotional wreck. My tiny apartment, as much as I love it and everything in it, revealed a near fatal flaw in its lack of private outdoor space. I realized I was dangerously close to burnout and for what? …

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Something about the intensity ripping through the US gives me a vaguely disquieting association with that classic activity from sleepovers of my youth — the game of telephone.

One person starts, then we whisper a phrase excitedly down the line. And the longer the better… both in phrase and in number of stops. By the time it reaches the end, some bizarre nonsense comes out of the confused caboose’s mouth while everyone else keels over laughing.

I knew even then — in that storied time before social media and the unrelenting news cycle — it was both a cautionary tale against gossip and a fun game. But it occurs to me that we are living in a giant, infinite experiment of telephone with the way social media & news media function in 2020. It’s a grotesque enterprise in many ways. …


Jemma Jorel

A thinking thot.

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