Gone Lawn
a journal of literature
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Gone Lawn 15
Summer, 2014

Featured painting, Riding the Dragon by Leslie Ditto.

Featured Novel Excerpt
New Works

Sarah Mack

Venom and Love

I created the girl in the mirror because I knew I would remember wrath and desperation longer than I could ever remember bliss. Don't forget, my pale winter self told the bathroom glass. Don't forget how happy this old stone city makes you. I leaned on the dirty porcelain sink and stared hard at my reflection beneath the yellow light. The color of our hair was darker than I was used to seeing—we had been out of the sunshine for so long. I tried to snarl at the girl in the mirror, but the warm, desert-born cocoon of fury and sorrow had vanished in the wake of a snowstorm I had not realized could exist outside of "happily ever after."

The girl in the mirror narrowed her eyes. She would have no difficulty at all producing a snarl. I needed her for her strength, for her venom and carelessness. Don't forget how to be happy, you stupid bitch.

I won't, I swore.

I might have gotten a "happily ever after" within the old stone city, but my story reached seasons beyond. The desperation that birthed the girl in the mirror grew sinew and scales only after I returned to a life in full view of the burning red sun.

I should have known she would be a summer girl, suntanned and sparkling with salt water. I might have known it, but I created her anyway.

The girl living in an old stone city who had to twist and dig for venom doesn't exist anymore. The girl who leaned over the dirty bathroom sink has transformed into my meaner self, my mirror self, my inner self. The girl who grew pale and happy in the dimness of a snow-torn winter has faded.

Without the slow days of snow and darkness, the girl in the mirror adopts her own will and sentience. In the sunlight she unfurls and comes after me with my own fire and venom. She reigns from within the mirrors with a scorching ferocity.

She crosses her arms over her chest and laughs while I stare, hungry like a teenager. She laughs the way I laugh when someone grows angry—pleased and dangerous, looking forward to a fight she cannot lose.

She laughs as I burn, and I cannot help the way my heart shudders with love.

Sarah Mack, more commonly known as Smack, is a 2012 graduate of the Clarion Science Fiction and Fantasy Writer's Workshop at UC San Diego and UC Santa Barbara's College of Creative Studies, Literature program. She has been published a handful of times in the past and can be found on Twitter at @whatsmacksaid.