Fiction: Cows Like White Elephants
By Madeira Miller
Hey. Can I call you?
Her hands were shaking as she sent that text. She had been staring at a dirty screen for about six minutes before she finally mustered the courage to press ‘send.’ She’d only had his number saved for, what, a month now? Less than that?
I’m at work rn. I can call in an hour
She spent the next hour and seven minutes biting her fingernails, a habit she thought she’d kicked a few years back. She was worried that he wouldn’t call at all, that he’d block her number or something. She wasn’t sure if she even wanted to tell him, but ultimately reminded herself that it takes two to get into this situation, and she didn’t have a support system to deal with this situation by herself. When his name finally flashed across her screen, accompanied by a harsh buzzing noise that made her jump, she was sweating and her hands were shaking.
That was a difficult conversation, to say the least. It’s ridiculous, the impact that two little lines can have on a person’s life; how pissing on a small, plastic stick can lead to the most awkward road trip imaginable. But flash forward a few days and a few phone calls to take off work, and there she was, in the passenger seat of his shit-box Ford, taking an impromptu ‘vacation’ to Boulder with a man whose contact name in her cell phone was ‘Jack from the bar.’ She had been too wasted to remember which bar at which they even met; she didn’t even bother to ask for his last name.
“So…” he mumbled, “what type of music should we play?”
“You can pick. I’m getting burnt out on all of my music lately. I need some new recommendations.”
“I’ll show you some of my shit on Soundcloud.” He suggested nonchalantly. She tried to hide the disease from her expression.
“I wasn’t aware that you were a Soundcloud rapper.” She chose her words carefully.
To her surprise, he started laughing and assured her, “I’m just kidding. I kind of just wanted to see your reaction. How do you feel about The Strokes?”
Cadence couldn’t help but chuckle. The man in the driver’s seat may as well have been a stranger, but at least he was funny. They sat together listening to a song titled ‘Selfless’ and engaged in small talk. Cadence watched the sun creep across the sky. She watched northern Texas turn into Oklahoma.
“Cow on my side.” She announced.
“What? Good for you.” Jack’s voice sounded confused.
“Have you never heard of that game? If I see cows on my side of the car, I have to say, ‘cow on my side!’ If the cows are on your side, I say, ‘cow on your side.’ Whoever says it first gets a point. If there’s a cemetery, I can say ‘ghost cow on my side,’ and that means I get to steal all of your points.” She explained, pulling out a sticky note and sticking it on the dash.
“Are you keeping tallies? You’re serious about this game, huh. Well, I’d like to point out that I’m at a clear disadvantage, since I have to be focused on the road.”
“It’s more fun with a car full of friends.”
“Next time we get an abortion, I’ll bring some buddies to make the game more fun.”
Jack was briefly concerned that he’d gone too far and offended Cadence, but to his relief, she was laughing again. She had a nice, loud laugh. He always liked loud laughter that filled the room and even attracted attention. The circumstances for this road trip were awkward and a little grim, but it was then that he made it his goal to make her laugh as much and as often as he could.
It wasn’t but three hours into the seven-hour drive when they stopped to grab lunch at an old diner on the side of the road. They were the only two in the tiny restaurant; it was sinfully hot and muggy and the place didn’t have A/C, just a few fans that didn’t seem to do anything but swirl the sweltering heat around them. They didn’t discuss the heat; they mostly just sat and made somewhat awkward small talk.
“So… do your parents know about this little escapade?” Cadence asked to fill the silence.
“My mom does not. We’re close, but not ‘I’m getting an abortion with a one-night-stand’ close. How about you?”
“Absolutely not. My family is Catholic. They would flip their shit if they had any idea.”
“Ah… unfortunate. On a scale of one to ten, how do we rate the Catholic guilt over this?”
“Guilty enough that I can feel it. Not guilty enough to become a young mom.”
Jack decided to change the subject. Cadence was focused in on her chicken sandwich, trying to decide how she felt in the moment. A whole host of emotions, but also, nothing at all. Simultaneously. Above all of that, in this moment, sweaty.
“I think it’s the best thing to do. But I don’t want you to do it if you don’t really want to.” Jack spoke with an uncertainty in his voice.
“Does anyone really want this? I mean, is it ever on anyone’s bucket list? I don’t love this but I prefer it to any other alternative.”
They’d had this conversation twice now. It was something that hung heavy in the sweltering air. They sat in a diner like a hot air balloon and addressed the white elephant in the room one final time before dropping it. That’s what Cadence really wanted to say: Just drop it. They instead talked about their favorite films.
They tried to make the rest of the drive more lighthearted – because what else can you do? Cadence had never been to Colorado, but Jack knew the area and had been many times, so he told her stories about his trips in the past. It wasn’t until hour five that Cadence started feeling sick. She’d had food poisoning once in her life, when she was thirteen, and she would’ve recognized the feeling in her nightmares.
“Can we pull over?”
The sun was setting like molasses in the sky, painting the view in shades of gold and amber, while Cadence painted the side of the road with today’s lunch. She hadn’t puked this hard since she’d gotten alcohol poisoning last spring; at first, Jack let her be. But then he started to get a little worried.
Jack worked at a bar. He was no stranger to vomiting girls. He turned off the car and held Cadence’s silky, black hair back while her body shook from the violence of hurling. Cadence wanted to fling him away from her, but she couldn’t do anything but heave. Her skin was a sickly shade of pale green and beads of sweat gathered at her hairline. Jack knelt down, to her embarrassment, and held her body in place while she wretched.
In the aftermath of it all, they remained locked in their position: Cadence on her knees, with her head down, and Jack with one arm wrapped around her weak frame and a hand holding back her hair. He stroked her hair gently while she sighed and regained her composure.
“Thanks,” she muttered, too utterly embarrassed to even look at him.
“I’m used to it. I work at a bar, remember? I see that all the time.”
She stood up and turned away from the pile of vomit on the side of the road and they got back into the car. They sat together, still in park, in a suspended silence, before the laughter began. They weren’t sure who started in first. Before they knew it, the car was full of laughter; the absurdity of the situation was too much, and every time their eyes locked, it sent both of them into another fit of giggles. Cadence looked a frightful mess. With tears in his eyes, Jack rummaged through his console and found a breath mint. He wordlessly handed it to her and then their road trip commenced.
Jack had booked a Drury hotel on the outskirts of town for a few days. The appointment was tomorrow, but they had the hotel booked for three nights so that they could be near the clinic during the ordeal. The person on the phone had a soothing and kind voice; she talked about taking two pills in a 48-hour period, and went over some other options. Jack wanted to be there for Cadence throughout the entire process. He was mulling this over while they checked into their room.
Cadence was relieved to see that he had booked a two-bed room. She figured she’d need some space throughout all of this – physically and emotionally. She made a beeline for the shower after her vomit fest a few hours earlier, and as the water drummed against her skin, she couldn’t help but think heavily about the decision she was making. She thought about the drive up here, the two separate beds in the room next to her, and the man who drove her here. She was torn between wanting space and needing support. She had a headache.
“You know,” Jack said when she emerged from the bathroom, wrapped in a towel, shivering from the chill hotel room air, “we have the rest of the evening to do whatever you want. Is there anything you had in mind?”
“We could explore downtown a little bit,” Cadence suggested half-heartedly.
Jack could sense the moroseness in her tone. He could tell that she was trying not to think too much about the gravity of things; he did his best to be light-hearted and cheerful. He was usually pretty good at that.
Downtown Boulder was a sight to behold, with lovely buildings and rolling mountains on the horizon. It was golden hour and the sun cast a warm, joyous glow upon the world around them. They walked with some distance between them; functionally, they were strangers, but in these fleeting few days, they really only had each other. They visited some shops and touristy sites. Cadence was trying to feel a little more human.
“Let’s go here,” she gestured vaguely to a stately dive bar across the street.
“Are you wanting to get a drink? Can you stomach a drink after throwing up today?”
“I think a drink is exactly what I need right now.”
Jack certainly wasn’t one to argue. They situated themselves on the uncomfortable barstools and ordered their respective drinks. It was a karaoke bar, and they watched in fascination as an abundance of stumbling, drunk individuals took turns wailing into a microphone.
“This next song,” rambled the disheveled man on stage, “is for my fiancé.”
It was pitifully bad, but maybe that was the point. Isn’t drunk karaoke supposed to be a bit messy and awful? The intoxicated idiot’s beaming bride cheered him on from the back of the bar. Cadence thought it endearing, actually. She sipped on her beer plaintively, and then turned to Jack.
“I’ve never admitted this to anyone, but I’ve always wanted to fake a marriage proposal at a restaurant to get a free dessert. And for the drama of it, I think. Public proposals are so cringey to me, I think it would be fun to fake one.” She confided in him with a smile.
“That actually sounds hilarious. There would have to be a speech and everything, and it would have to be extra sappy.”
“Oh, of course. And as loud and obnoxious as possible. Can’t pull a stunt like that without milking it.”
“Is that a fun first date activity? Or is that more of a fourth or fifth date type of vibe?”
“First date would be iconic. That said, I prefer to go get coffee for first dates. Dinner dates are dicey because I feel like they’re always accompanied by the looming expectation of going home together afterwards. Coffee dates are nice because there’s less pressure, it’s more casual, and a guy is much less likely to try and get into my pants in the middle of a café.”
“I think you underestimate guys and what they’re capable of when they’re determined enough. Glad to see you’re not one to put out on a first date though.” Jack joked; their eyes locked playfully and they busted out laughing. At the commentary, at their banter, at the situational irony of it all, at the man’s slurred speech on the microphone, at the absurdity of everything going on.
“Up next, I’ve got… Jack Taylor,” the announcer said as the song came to an excruciating end. Jack was bewildered. He looked over at Cadence and she could hardly contain her wicked laughter.
“No way did you put my name in while I was in the restroom!” He exclaimed.
“Have fun up there.”
He shook his head and grinned as he made his way to the stage. What the hell was he supposed to sing? It wasn’t until he reached the stage that he remembered that one of Cadence’s favorite songs – which he wouldn’t have expected from her, but she mentioned it in passing in the car – was Tennessee Whiskey.
She lit up like a Christmas tree at the sound of the first few chords. He remembered. She laughed as he struggled through the song with its abundance of vocal runs, but to his credit, he wasn’t a bad singer. He was flustered and embarrassed, of course, but he maintained eye contact with her throughout the entire number. He even got into it a little, pulling out some subtly stupid dance moves. The crowd ate it up, naturally.
Cadence was more than a little tipsy by the time they left, but Jack made sure to be sober. He was driving, after all. He had known all along that she was a funny woman, but her sense of humor really came out when she was intoxicated. She kept him thoroughly entertained on the drive back to the hotel.
He found himself sitting at the foot of his bed, surfing through TV channels. He was tired from the drive and the activities of the day, but Cadence was wide awake. She scooted up behind him in bed and began to rub his back, prattling on about her favorite TV shows.
“Man, you’re tense.” She remarked as her fingers kneaded his muscles.
“A seven-hour drive will do that to you.”
“I bet I know what could relieve some tension,” she all but whispered into his ear with a sly smile. Jack turned around and eyed her.
“Listen. As much as I’d like to ease some tension, you’re drunk and I’m not. And you’ve had a long day. You’re going through a lot right now. How about I braid your hair and get you into bed instead?” He heard himself say. Cadence’s expression softened a bit as she mulled over his suggestion. She didn’t expect this gentleness from him; she’d mostly only gotten to know his wild side. She nodded silently and looked up at him, suddenly feeling a little more vulnerable than before.
Her hair was long, dark, and silky. She had washed it in the shower earlier that day and it smelled divine. Jack inhaled deeply as he braided it with careful fingers. They talked and giggled together in the muted yellow light of their shared hotel room. The A/C buzzed and the crickets sang their tired songs outside, and Cadence focused her sleepy eyes on the cream-colored walls. Her eyelids were heavy; it wasn’t but ten minutes before Jack lifted her sleeping form up off of his bed and laid her down in her bed. He turned off the light and the TV and laid himself down. He stared at the ceiling for most of the night, listening to her even breaths from across the room, trying to prepare himself for what was to come. He did not get much sleep.
The waiting room at the clinic was busier than Cadence had anticipated. She was uneasy; she stared straight ahead wordlessly. Jack had done his best to shield her from the protesters outside, but he could tell that their presence and their harsh words bothered her profoundly. He was pissed about it; it invoked a kind of rage that sat like a stone in the pit of his stomach. He found himself instinctively close to her, with an arm around her chair.
Cadence figured that there would be protesters; that fact did not shock her. She kept her eyes on the ground as they walked in and focused on the cracks in the sidewalk. From the time she was a kid, she’d avoided stepping on the cracks, in the event that it would actually break her mother’s back. She always knew it was just a myth, but she would have done anything to keep from disappointing her mother – anything except for keeping a baby, at least.
One of the less graphic signs said, “Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you. Jeremiah 1:5.” It vaguely reminded Cadence of her Sunday school days. She could still recite every book of the New Testament in order. She could still recall sitting in a stuffy confessional and regurgitating every bad thing she’d ever done in hopes that she would be forgiven; now, in adulthood, that sort of vulnerability felt like vomiting into another person’s outstretched hands. All of these thoughts and memories ran through her head in an instant as they walked through the doors. Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you. That verse repeated in her head over and over again, hauntingly, like a mantra. Jack could see the clouds gathering in her eyes and wondered whether he should make small talk or just let her be.
The nurse was kindhearted and warm; she was one of those people that was cut out for her profession. She went over their options with them in a calm, collected manner; Cadence was to take one pill this evening, wait for tweny-four hours, and then take the other pill. This would essentially cause what would functionally be considered a miscarriage. She would bleed and she might have some cramps, and then it would be over with. Then they could move on with their lives. The clinic gave them number to call if there were any complications. Jack clutched Cadence’s hand while they discussed the logistics of everything and squeezed it from time to time.
“So how long have you two been together?” The nurse asked them. This question startled Cadence; her cheeks flushed, and Jack knew that she carried a lot of shame about falling into this situation with someone she barely knew.
“Four years, actually,” he interjected before she could speak, “we’re high school sweethearts.”
He could feel Cadence’s confusion, but she kept a straight face. She even broke into a bemused smile when he went on to say, “We’ve been together ever since her junior prom.”
“Oh, how special,” the nurse cooed. She was just making small talk while they waited; she had no idea of their circumstances, of course. She had probably just assumed that they were together based on their body language.
They left the clinic having told her an elaborate lie about their high school glory days, about being Homecoming King and Queen their senior year, and a whole host of unnecessary, extraneous details. By the time they got out to the parking lot, they were cracking up.
“How did you just come up with that on the fly?” Cadence asked incredulously.
“I figured it would be more fun than telling the truth.”
He decided against telling her that it was less for their amusement and more to prevent her from having to get into the awkward conversation about how they were a one-night stand. He knew that she was rather sensitive about that. He had also gathered from previous small talk that she didn’t even do hookups usually. This was a rare, maybe even unprecedented occasion, and naturally, it had turned into a disaster.
“High school sweethearts, huh. That’s pretty funny. You know, I think you could be a comedian.”
“Is that what I am? A modern-day court jester?”
“Something like that.”
They decided to go and get ice cream, and then to go thrifting afterwards. They had the next few days to do whatever their hearts desired while they waited for the pills to do their job. They tried on the silliest, stupidest outfits they could find at the thrift store and modeled them for one another. Cadence hadn’t laughed this hard in God-knows-how-long.
They wasted the day meandering around downtown again. Cadence noticed that there was less space between them now when they walked on the sidewalk; every now and then, their hands brushed against one another, and neither of them really pulled away. She’d only known this man for a short amount of time, but she was fully convinced that he was a really great guy. In fact, she couldn’t imagine facing this without him.
“Wanna go somewhere fancier for dinner tonight? My treat,” Jack suggested.
“Are you sure? I’m fine with just getting takeout.”
“I’m positive. I’m dying to try out this Italian place.”
They were seated immediately and sank into a booth. It felt good to sit down after walking around town all day; Cadence fanned herself with a menu while they looked over their options. She didn’t have much of an appetite.
Jack ordered the fettucine alfredo and Cadence ordered a salad, and they chatted comfortably amongst themselves while they awaited their food. Jack insisted upon sharing a bottle of wine, and hushed any of her protests. As they were finishing up their meal, he got a mysterious gleam in his eye. He stood up, to Cadence’s bafflement, and exclaimed, “Can I have everyone’s attention?”
She felt her cheeks grow hot. No way is he actually doing this, she thought to herself. But he was. Of course, he was. Who else would be this insane?
“To my high school sweetheart,” he began, sinking down on one knee. The other guests and waitstaff around fell into an excited hush. “The past four years have meant everything to me.”
It took everything in her power not to laugh.
“From the time I saw you in that blue dress, your junior year of prom, I knew this day would come. You’re the kindest, most selfless, most badass woman I have ever met.”
How is he coming up with this damn speech on the spot?
“You’re everything I’ve ever wanted in a woman. So, Cadence Blair,” – he pulled out a ring that he most definitely snagged from the thrift store when she wasn’t looking – “will you make me the luckiest man in this restaurant and be my wife?”
He slid it onto her finger and it was much too large. She stifled a laugh.
“Your grandmother’s ring! My goodness, yes! A million times yes.” She replied, really hamming it up. A resounding cheer rippled through the restaurant and Jack kissed her quickly and softly on the lips before falling back into the booth.
To both of their amusement, the restaurant gave them a free dessert to celebrate their ‘engagement.’
“You know, that was a pretty impressive speech. Pretty convincing, obviously. You’re great at coming up with stuff like that on the spot.”
They were lying in their separate beds, watching cartoons back at the hotel. Cadence had taken the first pill – mifepristone – and she was anxiously awaiting the cramps that were to come. They weren’t really talking about it. All that she said when she took the pill was, “Well, here we go,” and that was that.
“Thank you, it’s a talent I don’t exercise much. I’ll be honest, I don’t propose very often, so I’m a little surprised I did it well.”
“Only when free dessert is involved.”
They both stared at the ceiling for a little while. It was about an hour and a half before she started to feel it; it was much like that distinct pain that you get when you’re about to start your period, but stronger. She sighed heavily. She was stocked with pads and tampons and OTC painkillers, and even a heating pad. She was prepared for everything except the grief.
“Bleeding has commenced.” She remarked flatly, and then more softly, “Crisis averted.”
“That’s good. How do you feel?”
“Like my uterus is being hit by a truck.”
“That’s not what I meant.”
Most of the men that Cadence had been involved with in the past seemed chronically incapable of using ‘I feel’ statements. It was something that had turned her off to dating; that exhausting lack of understanding and communication. Now that she thought about it, she’d probably never been asked that question: how do you feel? Emotionally, rather than physically? She pondered over this for a while. She held this knowledge and these thoughts in her mouth and chewed on them. How did she feel?
She didn’t have the words. Does anyone ever have the words in the midst of that first wave of cramps? That first wave of panic or relief or something in between? But how do you express that to a man you’ve known for less than a month? Cadence wasn’t generally an emotional person and she had her reasons for that, but she felt her eyes brimming with hot tears.
“This is for the best.” She mumbled.
“Yes. And how do you feel about it?”
Pause. Silence. Not an uncomfortable silence, but a patient, safe silence. A silence in which she could collect her thoughts to the best of her ability, adjust her heating pad, and sniffle a little bit.
“I always wanted to be a mother, but not like this. Not now, not this young, and no offense, but not with you. You’re fantastic and I mean that but we just met.”
“You’re wise for seeing it that way and I take no offense to that.”
“I guess I feel a lot. A lot of what, I’m still figuring out. I think I’ll be figuring this out for a while, too. Maybe the rest of my life. I don’t know.”
“No. Just… a lot of something that isn’t regret but doesn’t feel good.”
Now it was Jack’s turn to be still. A long, thoughtful stretch of silence passed between them before Cadence spoke: “Can I sleep with you tonight?”
He knew what she meant. He peeled back the covers for her and she laid beside him. He wiped away her tears with his pointer finger and just held her in the way that she needed – in a way that she had not been held in a long while.
Cadence awoke on her side with dried drool hanging from her mouth. Her face was swollen, her cramps were brutal, and her eyes were crusty. She blinked away the bleariness and looked around her. Jack was gone.
On the nightstand, she noticed some chocolates, flowers, painkillers, a cow plushie, and a note that read: Went for a walk. Be back soon. Cow on your side.
A smile spread across her chapped lips and she felt the tears well up again. She was definitely emotional in a hormonal way, but even if that wasn’t the case, this probably would have struck a chord in her heart. The gestures were sweet, but what she really liked was the fact that he seemed to instinctively know that she would need some space after being so vulnerable the night before. Or maybe he just needed to be alone. In any case, so did she, so she took a shower. The water soothed her ever so slightly. She looked down at the sterile, white floor of the shower and sighed at the dizzying sight of water and blood circling the drain. It still didn’t feel real. Well, maybe it felt too real. She wanted to stop thinking about it.
Meanwhile, Jack was on a run. He hadn’t gone running in months, maybe even a year. he needed to clear his head and he figured that Cadence would need some time to compose herself in the morning. He noticed an ebb and flow to her: she would open up a bit, then revert back into herself for a while afterwards. It was a minute detail that he had picked up on, and he understood it. Vulnerability is difficult, especially with someone you just met a month ago. Especially under such circumstances.
When he came back, Cadence greeted him with a weary smile.
“I’m okay. I mean, thank you. For everything. I appreciate it. The cow is so cute.”
It was obvious that she had been crying. Jack wrapped his arms around her and held her for a moment, just like last night, and they stayed suspended there inside their little hotel room.
“What should we do today? Should we go out or stay in?” Jack asked, allowing her to decide what she needed, and eager to go along with whatever that may be.
“Would you like to just stay in and watch movies?”
“More than anything. As long as we get Chinese takeout.”
The second pill was called misoprostol. Cadence took it twenty-four hours after the first pill, also in the middle of watching cartoons. Normally, when feeling this shitty, she would call her mother, but her family would never support this decision. She disliked the idea of relying on one person, virtually a stranger, for this much emotional support, but she couldn’t deny the fact that Jack was doing great. He was there for her in ways she didn’t even realize she needed. She clutched the cow plushie while he took a shower and stared down at it. What a thoughtful gesture.
They shared a bed again that night. It was just understood that they would; at first, she was relieved to have separate beds for this excursion; now, she couldn’t possibly be more relieved to share a bed. She matched his breathing in the night, completely unaware of the fact that he was doing the exact same thing. When she bled through the pad and onto the sheets, she was so mortified that she could’ve died, but Jack remained calm. He washed her clothes for her and changed out bedsheets.
“God, that’s embarrassing. I’m so sorry. Did it get onto your shorts?”
“Yes, but I know how to get blood out of clothes.”
“I could just die right now.”
“I’d prefer that you not do that.”
They checked out of their hotel with a few more things than they had when they checked in; it was funny, to think of bringing souvenirs home from a trip to get an abortion. In some ways, it was the most romantic getaway either of them had ever been on.
They played the cow game on the drive home, of course. They talked and laughed like usual. Cadence couldn’t stop thinking about how, with Jack, she was always laughing. Even with a pit in her stomach and the worst cramps of her life, and a newfound grief that she’d have to come to terms with eventually once she was able to process everything – even throughout all of this – he was still able to make her laugh. Constantly. Boisterous belly-laughter with her head thrown back.
They stopped at a restaurant for dinner a little outside of the town they both were from. It had a bar, but neither of them drank. They sat and ate what was presumably their last meal together before returning to the monotony of everyday life, listening to the music. To both of their astonishment and excitement, ‘Tennessee Whiskey’ began to play.
“May I have this dance?” Jack asked in that goofy tone of voice that he always used when he was being stupid. Never one to back down from a good bit, he stood up and offered her his hand.
“I mean, of course. Wasn’t this the song we first danced to at my junior prom?”
“Ah, yes, how could I forget?”
They slow danced in the outdoor seating area of the restaurant, looking like complete idiots. Jack had decided somewhere along the line that he didn’t mind acting like a complete idiot if it made Cadence laugh. She was still wearing the thrift store engagement ring, playing with the hair on the nape of his neck.
“You know, I was thinking about what you were saying about coffee dates being preferable to dinner dates so that you can get a good vibe check on the guy. I know that being in love is just a running joke with us, but I’m starting to enjoy it more than I anticipated. Would you want to get coffee some time?”
Madeira Miller is a writer and poet seeking a creative writing degree at Missouri State University. Her work appears in ‘Dreamstones of Summer’ by WinglessDreamer, ‘Praised by December’ by WinglessDreamer, Every Day Fiction Online Magazine, F3LL Digital Magazine, The Gateway Review Literary Magazine, ‘My Cityline by WinglessDreamer,’ The Bookends Review Creative Arts Journal, ‘Sea or Seashore’ by WinglessDreamer, Bridge Eight Press, In Parentheses Literary Magazine, Dipity Literary Magazine, Abstract Literary Magazine, and Academy of the Heart and Mind Literary Magazine. Instagram: @madeiramiller