Alchemist Review 2018! Click the Link to Read Online!


Short Stories By: Vika Mujumdar, Diana Vazquez, Maura Freeman, Brittany Wiser, Kayla Thomas, and Zoey Pritchett!

Poetry By: Glenn Cassidy, Stanley Sharkey, Thomas Brooks, Maura Freeman, Kaya Schreiber, Drew Kodrich, Cheyenne Gain, Daymon Kilman, Allen J. Dixon, Kayla Thomas, and James Kanter!

Artwork By: Abbi McKinnie, Drew Van Weelden, and Cheyenne Gain!

December Contest Winner: “Legacy” by Shawna Mayer

December Contest Winner “Legacy” by Shawna Mayer

Thank you to everyone who submitted their stories for the December contest. We received many great stories and it was difficult to choose just one winner. Keep writing! We will announce the January contest soon.

by Shawna Mayer

Woman in bathing suit hugging a snowman - 1924 (from Library of Congress)

“In those days mixed marriages were unheard of.”  Grandma slapped the picture on the table like an ace next to a king in a hand of blackjack.

The picture showed my Grandma in her bathing costume hugging the neck of a snowman on the beach.  Her parents had hated the idea of their spritely, effervescent daughter hitched to a cinderblock of ice with nothing to his name but a carrot nose and a ratty old hat.

“Pop was ready to disown me when Charlie and I announced our engagement, but Ma talked him into coming to the wedding, and by the time your father was born, it was clear he’d made his peace with us.”

The first time Grandma told me this story, she’d been baking Christmas cookies all day and smelled of vanilla and rum.  I’d helped and still had bits of dough in the crevasses of my fingernails.  Snuggling more deeply into her lap, I reached out to caress her long white braid.

“Charlie, wasn’t any ordinary snowman.  He exposed himself to the sand and the salt air that day all because he wanted to make me happy.”  She looked down at me, and raised an eyebrow.  “Hear that sweetie?  When it comes time for you to pick, make sure you choose one that’ll risk something for you.”  I nodded seriously, recognizing wisdom was being imparted.

“He must have been cold to hug,” I said.

“Yes, but it never bothered me,” she said, “Because he always kept me laughing, and we could talk about anything.  Every moment we spent together was precious.”  She sighed.  “Then two years after Charlie melted, I met Stanley.  He adopted your father and raised him like he was his own son.  I was very lucky to find two such good men.”

“Now, I want to show you something.”  I climbed out her lap and she led me down the narrow basement steps, past the washer and dryer and work bench piled with broken appliances.  We stopped in the very back corner in front of the ancient deep freeze.  She propped the lid open and dug around, shifting the blocks of meat, until finally she said, “Here he is.” The light glinted off a silver box in the palm of her hand.  She lifted the lid and inside was a small chunk of ice.  “Touch it,” she whispered, “It feels like velvet.”

Tentatively, I reached out.  Maybe it was only the power of suggestion, but she was right.

After Grandpa Stanley died, we had to auction off the antiques, and in the decade that followed Grandma had a series of strokes that stole more of her each time.  When we finally had to sell the house there was only one thing left that I wanted.

Tonight, as I cuddle up in front of the TV next to my husband Steve, the silver box is nestled deep in my freezer.

Steve gasps, “Your feet are like ice cubes.”  I smile.  It runs in the family.

Mikko Harvey’s “Cannonball”

Story Title: Cannonball
Author: Mikko Harvey
Magazine: Juked
Blogger: R. Romero

While reading this fictional story I did not quite understand where it was going. The title is “Cannonball” and throughout the story clearly states that the character is talking about being shot out of a cannon; however, I was not sure what the point of this story was. I reread some lines in this story and I tried to see if there were any references that I may have not picked up on and this metaphor: “how the cannon stood for human resilience,
and how I stood for all humans”, popped out the most to me because it clearly states that this character was an idol of what all humans go through. To figure out this struggle I looked further and saw this line: “I hear the air is like a warm blanket when you’re in it. People are so afraid of falling that they don’t enjoy flying, but the truth is, they’re the same”. This line made me think of how people perceive things in a negative manner and that all situations have a good and bad, it’s just the interpretation that makes the difference. Therefore, the downfall of humanity is how people think. This character has been thinking about this cannon shot as a “doom” or an unhappy ending but really he can think of this as a way to help humanity or to show how people can really have a positive outcome in situations. After trying to analyze the meaning of this fictional story, I see that the character is facing a lot of decisions that help the fellow society around him.

In my opinion this would not be my favorite story to read because it was quite confusing. I was not sure what the other was trying to get at and the story itself did not really interest me.

Linda Simoni-Wastila’s “The Abridged Biography of an American Sniper”

Story: “The Abridged Biography of an American Sniper”
Author: Linda Simoni-Wastila
Magazine: SmokeLong Quarterly
Blogger: A. Schafer

The Abridged Biography of an American Sniper by Linda Simoni-Wastila is instantly engaging, and the attraction I felt at the beginning held steadfast up to the last word of the story. Simoni-Wastila’s attention to detail works double-duty in this short story, developing the main character, Jeremiah, as well as connecting elements of the story over different segments of the sniper’s life. In the third paragraph, Simoni-Wastila packs a concise but revealing amount of detail into Jeremiah’s backstory, especially in the first line; “When he was 17, Jeremiah packed up his crossbow, arrows, and guitar and took Sheila up to the foothills that curved down to the edge of the farm.” Simoni-Wastila establishes a concrete sense of place and character and introduces a new relationship between two characters all in one line. Although the story boasts a separate official opening, in my mind this is where the story really begins.

Simoni-Wastila develops the relationship introduced in the third paragraph in an intricate way, using the love of two characters to set up the rest of the essential relationships in the story. Simoni-Wastila’s strategy takes shape with the line, “he thought of Maryam then, of the way she chewed the wooden end of the brush when contemplating a painting, of Martin watching him teach John power chords on the guitar, and for the first time since he arrived in Afghanistan, Jeremiah felt the space in his chest swell.” It is this passage that introduces the reader to the feelings Jeremiah has for Maryam, critically shaping a major conflict in the limited space the writer employs. This allows Simoni-Wastila to phrase the line in Self-Criticism so succinctly; “after the baby died, after Sheila left.”

Simoni-Wastila’s organizational mastery provides effective character development despite the shortened length, and brings forth necessary details in refreshing ways. From the sniper terminology to the type of bread Jeremiah is eating, the story is rich with description, and communicates remarkably deeply, due in part to Simoni-Wastila’s reiteration of images. One line, however, mystified me, and I was unable to fully understand its influence in the story, despite my continuing assurance that it played an important purpose. In the opening, Simoni-Wastila writes, “All three sons forgot about the pistol, although they knew it was kept in a box with a combination lock for safe-keeping. The mother did not forget about the pistol.” In this parable-style opening, I find it difficult to ignore that Jeremiah forgot about the weapon that the father kept for protection, not hunting, and I wonder about its message regarding Jeremiah’s plight in the conclusion. Despite my lack of wisdom in interpreting this matter, I found the entire story flowed like a much longer tale, due to Simoni-Wastila’s reiteratino of images and concise, revealing details.