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2021 Issue

"To the Core": Cover Image

Volume 38, Spring 2021 Northern Lights Journal Cover

© 2021 by Kasie Bazan

2021 Contributors

Meet the staff who worked hard to put the journal together, as well as the writers and artists who shared their creative work with campus.

Meet Our Contributors

Exclusive Digital Bonus Content!

We weren’t able to fit all of the best submissions this year into our print pages, so we created an online space for them. Visit the "Digital Bonus Content" section for additional poems, short stories, photos, short stories and digital stories from UW-Green Bay students and faculty/staff.

Visit Digital Bonus Content

An Homage to Home

The rhythmic curve from my nose followed the stories of women before me. Not a swift swoop, but an abrupt start that trails down the hump to the tip of a continental, a radical dead end. Rounded at the edges, protruding from the side, it whispers kindred spirits. Through metal bars protruded fresh flesh in defiance of landscapes, the foreign territory was not bestowed to the linkage of this lineage. Ancient Aramaic spewed from the sharp tongue, as tiny black hairs trailed down my soft, white tummy. How I tried to bend my roots, reshaping this family tree, in defiance of my appearance. Plucking each brow, I cast away each tear that my ancestors shed underneath the hot, Assyrian sun. This heritage is my home, dark hair trailing down my back, soft eyes underneath full lashes, the curvature of my own femininity. Three prominent creases on the knuckles of each finger, tangled, intertwining with June—this is a part of me. It could swallow me whole in the complexity of each freckle, it could open the flood gates of northern Mesopotamia, modern-day Iraq; it could boast to me in such a way that Biblical references cower away from these thorns; it could drown me from Tigris and Zab Rivers and crumble underneath the Median Mountains.

It doesn’t though. Not in that way. It comes from the soft smiles of my grandmother, the full beard of my father, the olive complexion of my sister. It comes from the photos that are tucked neatly in floral boxes, underneath blankets in closets. It comes from the family gatherings, the old house in Chicago, the small oxford shoes placed into the corner of neatly carpeted living rooms. It comes from the china sets stowed away in glass cabinets, a lady in a ballgown with children trailing behind. An homage to the home I never stepped foot in, besides the words spoken from mother to son: God be with you.

 —© 2021 by Lydia Downey


 —© 2021 by Collette Larue

Specter Detector

Beeping hands, ghostly bands,
My palms, they sense the deceased.
Adrenal glands, what disturbed lands!
Specter juice left behind by the teased.
My finding fingers, they poke many ghosts,
But some men, I cannot sense.
They are senior gamblers, troubled hosts,
Their lying apparitions are dense.
Fibbing in life, falsifying death,
As if their hands still hold the cards.
Paranormal scum, straight whisky breath,
Pure brutish bodyguards.
Hoarding poker chips, the floating few,
Always slide into their stash.
Six feet under, what more to accrue?
Invisible plastic is comparable to trash.
One way to catch them, one captured way,
Is to hold out handfuls of loot.
Even if my palms sense no array
Of gamblers—Holy Water will shoot.

© 2021 by Isabelle Hoida

November Horoscopes:
Mental Illness


People with anxiety should watch out today. Contemplate things like did you unplug your curling iron? Did you turn off the stove? What is the meaning of life? Are you a waste of space, or do you just not have a purpose? Look both ways before crossing the road today and cross at crosswalks but also be sure to not cross at crosswalks because you’re fat and you cross the street too slowly so all of the drivers get angry and make fun of you. Make sure to have 3 balanced meals today, but triple-check everything you use for bugs and then remember to have an anxiety attack while you eat because you thought you saw a bug. Second- guess every single decision you make today, and always let other people make major decisions for you.

Lucky Numbers: _______

Borderline Personality Disorder

People with Borderline Personality Disorder will have a normal day. Your family will abandon you, and your fiancée is with you out of pity. Your dad never loved you, and you have nothing to contribute to the world. Your friends don’t like you; they have a group chat without you. Based on this, you should quit your job, drop out of school, and become a full-time TikTok creator. Even though you only have 100 followers right now, if you stick with it, you will take off. Remember, you have no ability to decide what you like on your own or what your self-worth is, so seek validation from people on the internet and adjust your personality according to who you are with. Contemplate further self-harmful behavior all day.

Lucky Numbers: 13, 4, 6, 66


People with depression will likely have an exhausting day. They will isolate instead of seeing friends and family. They will struggle to get out of bed but likely struggle to fall asleep at the end of the day. People with depression should remember the lack of meaning and love in their life. They should also think fondly of a time where their depression didn’t rule their life. Remember to cry and wish for it back when remembering the past. People with depression should abstain from thinking into the future. Make no future plans because none of them will work out anyway.

Lucky Numbers: 1, 8, 18, 81, 181*
* Lucky numbers are subject to being fake because there is no luck in your life.

Bipolar Disorder

People with Bipolar will have an amazingly productive day. You haven’t slept since yesterday, but that’s okay because you cleaned your bathroom, meal planned for 4 weeks, planned your little brother’s Christmas gifts for the next 3 years, applied for a job, applied for college, and took 2 showers. Do not forget to make all your friends and family cookies today and handwritten cards. Remember to start seven projects but not finish a single one of them. Definitely make that online purchase you’ve been thinking about, and make plans for the weekend even though you’ll likely be in a depressive episode by then and will cancel. Don’t forget to text everyone you know at 3 a.m. to see if they’re awake and willing to talk.

Lucky Numbers: ALL OF THEM.
© 2021 by Rebecca Stewart

Over Romanticized

I need
what I dare not say
for fear       that it will hear
and run   a w  a   y

I’m waiting. For something,
that I cannot feel.
Hoping; it will find me…
Am I even on its list?

I can only imagine,
the foreign feeling,
that will always be fantasy,
for fear       of its hot fire catching
on scorched skin of my charcoal heart.
It’ll never be as good as my dreams.

I know it’s fake, but
I will still indulge
in its warm embrace
as I stare out
of the rain stained window
on a sunny day

© 2021 by Anton William Kubetz

Big Boat and Little Kayak

 —© 2021 by Cindy Bailey

A Hypothesis of My Distant Stranger

in our small town suburbia;

it’s the feeling of something missing
cracked sidewalks break like crater moons
off the corner of where the dope dealer leaves the door open where there are
     screams from the backyard,
where chickens walk in unified circles.

and i often noticed it
girl leaves the light on in the dark
illuminating novice neighbors walking adjacent down steep hills, where i took
     your hands
where i sailed through your winds

those melancholy tunes
dancing between the tunnel
of you and me swimming, swaying beneath the breaths of air where when playing house meant growing up
where the idea felt a little realistic

that i reflected in a dreamless state
flying aeronautical between your hands
that our individuality — heaven and other fictitious truths where these roads
     leave me behind to think
where saying goodbye wasn’t said

so now i can pinpoint to
unpainted room walls where tears fall from the ceiling uneaten, soggy cereal
     stays in the sink
when i think of you where you dropped me back off to park place,
where you left
© 2021 by Lydia Downey

Untitled: Allen

© 2021 by Mallory Allen

A Silent Baptism

I tried to squeeze myself into the tiny hole
I found in my $15 “NEW YORK” sweatshirt
from Penn to become
a new woman.
I tried so hard
to be bathed
in the dirty puddles around
the streets of Times Square,
dressed in a robe made of
others’ trash and adorned
in a crown of rats.
I kept lying to myself that
this was the way,
this was the place
to be reborn.
But the truth behind my
baptism is that it
was initiated in the
stolen moment between
me and you.
On the train ride
into the city, warm
to-go cups of coffee
in our hands
We each shared an earbud
and listened to the music
that made the 1100-mile distance
feel like you were in the same
room with me.
I remember watching out the giant
and smudged window as the
city came into view, the
Empire State Building becoming
much larger than a figurine, and yet
all I wanted to do was sit with you
on that dirty train full of strangers
and watch city line after city line
pass us by.
Listen to the same songs over
and over and over
until they had flushed out
all the bad parts of myself
and you could sit quietly next to me
and watch my rebirth strike.
© 2021 by Rachel Sankey

Untitled: Grunwald

© 2021 by Nicole Grunwald

Pink Ribbons

I am not here for you
to tangle between your fingers,
a cat’s cradle endlessly manipulated—
I have walked through deserts alone,
I have anchored myself to the bottom of the sea.
I am not unknown to fear.
Tomorrow is something new and you can call for me,

that does not mean I will be there.
Tighten your tie, tuck in your shirt,
act like you don’t need me to stand upright.
Snakes hiss from inside your chest and
you fasten bows around their necks as if
that makes the poison less lethal.

© 2021 by August Wiegman

Forever a Ballerina

Functioning in a dazzling dreamlike state,
Ambling around on scorched pavement in bare feet,
Harsh textures and temperatures rough on each foot,
Smoking a tongue burning cheap cigarette,
Letting the lit tip burn her fingertips.

Returning home while humming tunelessly,
Stumbling over the doorway into the building,
Tapping a rhythm on the railing in the stairwell,
Soul crushing pains in her ankles,
Taking each unbearable step one at a time.

Caressing her doorknob as she wanders in,
The cat lays hidden in the pillows that crowd the couch,
Her mottled feet guide her there,
The monotonous act of petting the animal seems too much,
The brazen creature hisses with a bad attitude.

A swift movement to the bathroom,
She glares into the mirror,
Staring at the pale papery thin skin that covers her body,
Veins of different shades of blue and purple show through,
It’s unpleasant.

She stands there,
Takes the medication,
Stares for so long she forgets what she’s doing,
Lost in her own eyes,
Fingers gripping the basin of the sink.

Conjuring up enough courage,
Lifts onto her tiptoes,
A former ballerina,
This impacts her aching legs more than she knows,
Glances at her nightmarish appearance one more time.

The windows in the living room show the darkness of outside,
Moonlight shows through,
She spins and dances towards the door,
Leaving her apartment,
Out to the street again.

The sidewalk meets her faltering feet,
They move in a graceful elaborate fashion,
Warm lunar winds flow through her hair,
The elaborate dance she performs is for no one but herself,
Performing a routine, she used to know like the back of her hand.

Spin one,
Her knees buckle,
Spin two,
Ankles crack,
She stumbles.

Spin three,
Elbows bend,
Spin four,
Arms are placed in a circular position,
She closes her eyes.

Spin five,
A deep breath inhaled
Spin six,
She collapses

Laying curled position on the sidewalk,
No will to get up,
Blinking slowly,
Hugging her knees,
No will to get up.

© 2021 by Evelynn Ehrlich

Untitled: Underhill

Untitled work by Kayla Underhill

© 2021 by Kayla Underhill

An Unorthodox Life Lesson

"My long term goal is to become a writer on sciences surrounding psychoactive substances and overall harm reduction because I really feel that the best way to help people is to educate them.”

These golden words are from Brandon’s “Getting to Know You” questionnaire that I, like many professors, distribute to my students at the beginning of the term. True to form, Brandon stood on this very platform and did not budge all semester; at each and every writing opportunity, he explored the battle; the victories, defeats, and draws—the consequences of being human. Our perfectly imperfect childhoods, our coming of ages—often, our voids and our vices. 

What is important to note as we continue to grieve the loss of such a radiating star on our campus, in our community, and in the world—Brandon did indeed meet his goal of educating; he transcended that, however. He empowered and inspired in this very piece, which he chose to share with the class at our end-of-semester reading celebration when students have the opportunity to choose their favorite body of work for the term—from creative nonfiction to classic expository. This was the body of work he most wanted to be heard. There was magic in his reading; there was healing for him in the way that words give us freedom to feel. There were many personal truths shared that December day, but this one, in particular, was movie-moment triumphant. I will never forget it. Ever. I remember very clearly wiping tears and telling him how proud of him I was and what a “lionheart” he was. One of the charges I give to all of my students in every class I have or will ever teach is to use their voice to right wrongs and to speak for those who cannot. While Brandon ran out of time, he had the spark and the true ability to set the world on fire. What he wanted most was to understand so that he could help others be understood—what he wanted was to make an impact. I am—we are—here to tell you—that in our classrooms, on our campus, in his courage to share his struggles—in his place in the world—in his moments of freedom and triumph, and ultimately, in his tragic and untimely death—that is indeed what Brandon did. We are so much better for it.

Professor Roshelle Amundson

I can still remember that long car ride back to Wisconsin from Ohio after the court hearing, well over a decade ago. I have a distinct memory of looking out of the window silently, watching the cars go by on the other side of the highway. My mother and grandmother argued about what was to come next while my baby sister screamed and cried in the car seat next to me. I was so deep in thought about what had just happened that my sister’s screams didn’t even exist as far as I was concerned. Seeing one’s father sentenced to prison is traumatic enough for anyone to experience, let alone an eight-year old boy.

The talk my mother had with me was painful; I could see it in her tear-filled eyes. I was only a child, but even then I knew this wasn’t an easy thing for her to talk about. My sister may have been too young to understand what was going on, but I wasn’t. My mother knew this, and she knew she had to tell me the truth of what was going on. My father was a boilermaker, and he was on a job in east Ohio. After work on the night before Christmas Eve, he and his coworkers went out to the bars for drinks. When the night of partying and drinks with friends came to an end, my father made the decision to drive himself back to his apartment. Intoxicated, he was traveling down the snow-covered road. A young, eighteen-year-old woman on her way home from a night at work was making her way across the crosswalk of the street and crossed his path. Impaired and unable to bring the speeding truck to a halt on the snow- and ice-covered street, he struck the girl. She was pronounced dead on arrival.

My father was promptly arrested and sentenced to fifteen years in a federal penitentiary. He served six years of his sentence behind bars, and the other nine on parole. Being at such a young age when I witnessed my father’s life fall into such a dark and hard place, I knew even then I had to do better. I refused to let myself follow that same path. The entire situation is an incredibly tragic event to have occurred, and it’s a direct result of poor decision-making. I’ve made my fair share of poor choices, as well, of course; I’m only human. However, I constantly have to remind myself to do better and to be better whenever I catch myself screwing up. I have to constantly keep myself in check, because I must learn from the mistakes of my father.

All in all, it breaks my heart that things had to happen the way that they did. It saddens me even more that it was my own father that caused this tragedy. Growing up without a father not only was difficult, but also a bit depressing due to missing out on a number of things a child shouldn’t have to miss out on. Having one’s dad attend a sporting event or explain what it means to become a man are things everyone should have as a child growing up. But I used them as a constant reminder that my choices impact not only myself but also those around me, and I have to remember to make those choices carefully.

© 2021 by Brandon McFadden

Rachele at Sunset

© 2021 by Cindy Bailey

Inside the Elevator

I get on the elevator and you get on the elevator. We don’t know each other. I hit the button for the 12th floor, and you hit every single button for every single floor. It’s grueling and you take forever. Too many pushed buttons. The elevator breaks down and we’re trapped. We have no choice but to fall in love in the confines of the small box suspended in air. Eventually we get hungry. We feed off each other’s hearts and the rest of our flesh decomposes. It’s getting harder to breathe. You ask, Do you still love me? and I pretend that I can’t hear you since both my ears have fallen off. Someone finally fixes the elevator and I reach the 12th floor. When the door opens, I walk out with only the remains of my skeletal structure. I don’t look back.

© 2021 by Rachel Sankey

Late December

I was 15 when the world decided I’d still be alive and you wouldn’t. That was the day all lights dimmed and went foggy, like streetlights in the rain at 3 a.m. The only time they became bright again was when I found you in my subconscious late at night. You became my nightmare. Appearing in my bathroom, poker-faced, unmoving. I called out to you, but my voice sounded so far away. Like it was drowning. I blinked the brightness out of my eyes and watched yours turn black. Your mouth gaped open like it couldn’t support itself. I couldn’t tell if it was you or me that started screaming. You began to dissolve into a black puddle on the floor. I wanted to reach out, to grab you, to save you—but I stood as if frozen in a block of ice. Maybe if I would have had the strength to reach out, the darkness would have sucked me back into the river where you spent your last moments. The December water would numb our skin and fill our cavernous mouths, the black and starry sky our last image. We’d only have to wait a few hours for Dad to find us coasting near the bank, cold and lifeless.

© 2021 by Rachel Sankey

Oh, What I Would Give:
A Shakespearean Sonnet

i remember the day i first saw him
like an angel, walking into the room.
life then felt so hopeless, empty and dim
but meeting him put an end to that gloom.

all those stolen moments he and i shared
will be forever etched into my mind.
no other boy i’d met even compared
wish i could go back to then, press rewind
i truly believed that he’d be the one
hopes and dreams filled my mind, lying awake.
thought our love story had just begun, but
he was only one more painful heartbreak.

months have passed now, but this much remains true:
oh, what i would give to be loved by you.

© 2021 by Mallory Allen

Untitled: Marquardt

 —© 2021 by Abby Marquardt

From the Mouth of a Racist

I’m not a racist;
what I say and do is, but
I’m not a racist.

© 2021 by Mara Allen

Dust of the Phoenix

I am from hospitals
From call the ambulance and stay with us
From IV drips and blood draws that left me bruised, broken, and pale
I am from the evening
Weekends spent alone with popcorn, movies, and games
I am from the morning
Rising and searching for proof of my worth
I am from enemies 
From everything people say about me
From you’ll never succeed on your own, and quit while you’re ahead
The people who made me what I am
But I don’t know if that’s a good thing
I am from beads of sweat and tossing the sheets
Never comfortable in one place for too long

I am from the gardens I helped plant
From beads of sweat and summer jobs
From old habits that live long and die hard
I am from dirt
The sweet smell of clay sticking to your fingers
I am from sunsets
From rooftops
From the reckless abandon that drives everything I do
Too stubborn to let go and too hard to forget
I am from the ground
It was there I was built up
Where I left my footprint and cemented it in stone 
I am from farmers and carpenters and craftsmen
From the people who value the simple because that’s who they are
I am from more than words
More than what I can fit on a page
From who I am
And who I am destined to become
I am from shipwrecks
Disasters on the coast of my home
Fires that killed my family and made the survivors stronger
I am from faith
I am from strength
I am from dust and to dust shall I return
Because I am from the Phoenix
© 2021 by Elisha Voskuil

Pantoum on Park Place

Walking down the jagged street near my home,
My mother and sister sob from inside
I do not dare to look back
And observe their silhouettes.

My mother and sister sob from inside,
As my dad carries a bloody towel to our neighbors
And observe their silhouettes waiting for us
As we knock on their front door.

As my dad carries a bloody towel to our neighbors,
I dare not cry in front of him
As we knock on their front door
Tiny puddles swell underneath my eyelids

“Don’t you dare cry in front of him,” I think
Walking back down the jagged street near my home
Tiny puddles swell underneath my eyelids
I do not dare look back.

© 2021 by Lydia Downey

Orsay Clock

 —© 2021 by Tracy Fernandez Rysavyr

The Ruined Canvas

“Artists keep such odd hours,” mused the hotel clerk as he watched the young woman trudge upstairs with her luggage. He squinted at the clock and clicked his tongue at the folly of young people. Of course, the artist didn’t notice him. Helena Jacobs was wondering how she was supposed to pack everything by morning.

Once inside her suite, she dropped her bags unceremoniously and sunk into a nearby armchair. A quick glance at the easels told her they were ready to be stored. Rising with a groan from her seat, Helena shuffled towards the table. A heavy knock at the door made her whirl, hair standing on end. A second later, she was across the room and leaning towards the peephole, smiling with glee as she swung the door open and flung her arms around the person waiting there. “God, you scared me.” Eyes shining, she clasped their hand tightly within her own. “I’m sorry you’ve caught me early, but you can stay while I gather my things.”

The young woman huffed in mock irritation as she turned towards the table and began to fuss with papers and boxes, loading the canvases one after another into a hay-filled trunk. “One day I’ll learn to start packing early.” Fingers on her arm made her pause, and before she could turn around, whispered words fell against her ear. The color left her tawny skin and dripped around the thing that was slid between her ribs. Helena sagged over the table, blood seeping into the canvases before she crumpled to the floor.

At six a.m., a concierge knocked on Helena’s door. “Ms. Jacobs? Your cab is waiting; would you like some help with your bags?” Silence. He rapped his knuckles on the door one more time, then strode down the hall to inform the cabby their patron was not answering. At six-thirty, the concierge returned and knocked again. Ms. Jacobs did not answer the first, second, or fifth time he called her name. At six forty-five, hotel management unlocked her door. They all saw her at once, and the concierge screamed before he fell into the doorway and bounced back into the hallway.

The manager stepped over him and strode hastily down the hall, waving away worried guests and reassuring them, “There’s nothing to worry about, please stay in your rooms while we handle the situation.”

She almost took one step down the stairs, but the shrill cry of “Murder!” from the risen concierge made her start to run.

Inspector Lestrade stood over the body, rolling his pencil between his fingers as he suggested to no one in particular, “It was probably a suicide.” A snort behind him told him that backup had arrived, and he flipped his notepad open, glancing over his shoulder at the pair crossing the threshold.

Sherlock Holmes cast a condescending look at the rest of the police force present in the suite before devoting his attention to the body sprawled on the floor. “Inspector, tell me what you know.”

Inspector Lestrade tipped his head to Dr. Watson before launching into the facts. “She was Helena Jacobs. We found her with her fingers wrapped around this dagger in her heart. The physician says she died around midnight.”

Inspector Lestrade watched as Sherlock crouched to inspect the body, then rose to study the evidence laid on the table. The man continued to read his notes, trying not to watch as Sherlock began holding the bloodstained paintings up to the gaslights. “Twenty-five years of age, single, has a sister in America,” Lestrade continued. “She was employed at Christie’s Auction house; she was one of their art appraisers. Looks like she was trying to make it in the art world, but debts were stacking up. She had an address in Paris written in her notebook, along with a couple of names and numbers. Tiffany Heath and Meline Fontaine. Friends of hers, I’m assuming. I’m sure that they could have helped her; it didn’t need to end like this.”

Sherlock laid the last painting down, removing his gloves and putting them in his coat. “Like what, Lestrade? You act as though she could have stopped her own murder.”

The inspector sputtered for a moment before whispering, “Murder?!”

The consulting detective smiled as if humoring a small child. “Correct, dear Lestrade.”

Later that morning, Sherlock and his assistant Dr. John Watson arrived at Christie’s Auction House, Helena’s former place of employment. Once inside, they were greeted by a pleasant-looking woman who introduced herself as, “Ms. Heath, how can I assist you, Mr.—?”

Watson admired the ornate lobby while Sherlock explained, “My name is Sherlock Holmes, and this is Dr. John Watson. I’m here investigating Ms. Helena Jacobs. May I speak to her employer, Ms. Heath?”

Ms. Heath tilted her head a little and glanced between the two men before lowering her voice. “Is Helena alright? Why are you investigating her?”

Watson stepped forward and answered quietly, “Ms. Jacobs was found dead in her hotel this morning.”

Ms. Heath paled, red lip shaking for a moment before she could compose herself. “I am very sorry to hear that. Helena was well-loved by everyone here.” She rose from her desk, smoothing a wrinkle in her skirt before leading them down the hall. “Mr. Tennet, I’m sorry to interrupt, but this can’t wait. This is Sherlock Holmes and Dr. John Watson. They’re here investigating Helena.” Ms. Heath covered her hand with her mouth, holding in a sob as she rushed back to her desk.

Joseph Tennet was left with little choice but to wave the two men inside, rising to shut the door behind them and make apologies for his dramatic receptionist. “Sorry about her; she’s been a tad hysterical this morning. Is this about the thefts?” Upon seeing their blank expressions, Mr. Tennet continued, “We’d received a complaint from someone in the office that Ms. Jacobs had been lifting petty change and also”—he tugged at his collar and continued in a quieter tone—“she’d been bringing undesirable company.”

Dr. Watson leaned in close. “Was she involved with a young man, perhaps?”

Mr. Tennet shook his head vigorously, color creeping into his sallow face. “Worse,” he groaned into his handkerchief, “A young woman, former client of hers I believe.”

Sherlock leaned back in his chair, glancing over to Watson, who was red up to his ears. He sighed and returned his gaze to Tennet. “It hardly makes a difference; when did the money go missing?”

Mr. Tennet shrugged his shoulders and began to rifle through his desk drawers, staring intently at the mess of receipts. “I noticed some notes missing earlier this week, as did some of my associates. It was very troubling. Her and that woman. Our clients started to notice; they didn’t like it. We have a reputation to uphold here; we can’t have a lesbian bringing down the establishment.”

Watson’s fingers curled against his palm as he answered, “So, Helena had to go. Was killing her necessary?”

Mr. Tennet fell backwards in his chair, eyes bugging out of his skull. “Ms. Jacobs is dead?! That’s why you’re here?”

Sherlock nodded gravely, “She was discovered earlier this morning. Thank you for your time, Mr. Tennet.”

As they left the office of the speechless man, they nearly collided with Ms. Heath, who was carrying a stack of files. She mumbled an apology and rushed past them down the hall into the next office.

Upon their arrival at 221B Baker. St., their landlady Mrs. Hudson greeted them and said there was a young Frenchwoman in mourning waiting in their living room.

Sherlock and Watson entered their quarters and bowed to the young woman before taking their seats. Sherlock immediately invited her to tell them about her relationship with Helena. The woman gasped in shock, and Watson began to apologize profusely. She shook her head a little and murmured, “No, that’s right; it’s why I’m here.”

“My name is Meline Fontaine, I am— was a close friend of Helena. We met at an auction, and Helena showed me around. She was so charming, although I wasn’t sure if she was more interested in me or my antiques. Helena was so enthusiastic about everything; she approached everything headfirst. I started bringing little pieces for her to appraise while she was on her lunch break, just to have an excuse to see her. Then one day, Helena greeted me with the news that she had found a patron in France who was a huge fan of her paintings. Helena had only shown her work at a few exhibitions, and the chances of landing a patron were incredibly slim. Ever since then, it was all Helena would talk about, until last week. I had barely taken a step into the building when Helena ran up to meet me in the lobby and said rather breathlessly that she wanted me to come with her to France. I begged time to think about it and left before Helena could say more. I hadn’t visited Helena since that day and only heard of her death when I went to her hotel.” A sob racked Meline’s body, and she struggled to regain her composure long enough to ask, “Is there anything else I can do for you, Mr. Holmes?”

Sherlock shook his head and rose from his seat, offering her his arm as he led her from the room. “I now have everything I need to bring Helena’s killer to justice.” Once he saw that Mrs. Hudson was escorting her down the stairs, Sherlock returned and shut the door to their quarters.

Watson puffed a bit and checked a loose thread on his sleeve, “Well, that solves the mystery of Helena’s young lady friend. What is not clear to me, Sherlock, is why she would steal from her employer and not put the money towards her debts? It doesn’t make any sense.”

Sherlock nodded his agreement, tapping his fingers against his cheek. “Exactly, Watson. Considering her work was the most important thing in her life, and she was excited to move to France, why would she start stealing? It was a very clumsy set-up,” muttered Sherlock. “Considering her preference for women, France would be far more friendly than England. If Helena had been stealing petty change, she could have put it towards her debts. Not to mention if she was about to reach her life’s goal, she wouldn’t kill herself out of guilt on the eve of escape.”

Watson shrugged his shoulders and lit his pipe, leaning back into his favorite chair. “She would have had a hard time of it, either way; it’s such a shame she didn’t get to be happy.”

Sherlock huffed, laying his gloves on the table beside him. “It’s a shame Tiffany Heath’s jealousy cut her life short.”

Watson went slack-jawed, sitting bolt upright and about to launch into a flurry of questions before a raised hand from Sherlock stopped him. “Let me explain, dear Watson.” The detective smiled, watching Watson roll back into his seat before continuing. “Helena was a charismatic, selfish kind of person. She didn’t understand why Meline was startled by a sudden proposal. She also did not understand that the receptionist was in love with her—yes, Watson. Ms. Heath would watch Helena and Meline go back and forth on their lunch dates. She would be forced to listen to Helena gush about her fascinating new friend. She probably took the petty change from Mr. Tennet’s office and suggested it was Helena. Of course, Mr. Tennet was in no hurry to fire her, until it came out that Helena was a lesbian. I assume that Tiffany began to regret drawing attention to the woman she loved and did her best to keep Helena’s attention off the accusations, but that only meant that Helena spent even more time talking to her about Meline. It became unbearable, so she made a plan to separate the two lovers: send Helena a letter claiming to be a French patron who wanted her to join his studio. Helena indicated to us that she accepted with no further thought; she didn’t have much foresight. Imagine Tiffany’s shock when Helena announced in the lobby that she wanted to take Meline to France. Granted, Meline didn’t answer, but Helena had, accidentally, made her point in a rather callous way.

She had her heart set on Meline. This would not do. All Tiffany had to do was come to see Helena before she left for the station. Of course, Helena was happy to have company, and once she turned her back on her visitor, the receptionist killed her. If she couldn’t have Helena, then nobody would.”

“But how did you know it was Tiffany?” Watson asked.

“Mr. Tennet said she’d been hysterical all morning—but she indicated our visit was the first she’d heard of Helena’s death. Plus, her eavesdropping at the door instead of simply remaining in the room in case Mr. Tennet needed her was suspicious.”

“She also didn’t recognize you, when everyone else in the hotel had.” Watson stared down at his shoes, raising his gaze when Sherlock called for his attention.

“People are so very irrational, Watson,” Sherlock said with a sigh, leaning over to pick up the phone to dial the inspector. “Falling in love can be a mistake.”

© 2021 by Indigo Ramirez

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—© 2021 by Kasie Bazan

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