October 11th, 2008

A couple of Todd’s coworkers were manning the late shift in Thibodeaux #3’s cramped lobby, checking student IDs and processing off-campus guest sign-ins. A tiny freshman girl was vomiting in a trashcan, near the line for the elevators. A friend held her hair back. The RAs working the desk all wore the same gold uniform and had the same “I’d rather be asleep or studying or out drinking or literally anywhere besides babysitting all these drunk assholes” look plastered on their faces.

The red-headed sophomore with the Introduction to Juvenile Delinquency and Juvenile Policing textbooks open in front of her was in charge of the ID swiping station. She did not smile when Todd approached.

“Enjoying your night off? Must be nice.”

She took Todd’s student ID and swiped it.

“It’s been wonderful.”

Todd flashed his most charming smile, but his peer still didn’t react. Todd’s face flushed with frustration. He hid the anger quickly, but Todd wasn’t fast enough to keep Melika from noticing his facade starting to crack.

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October 10th, 2008

Melika had just started telling her closest friends that she was a woman. She was wearing makeup to queer bars. She was finding dresses and women’s formal wear that she felt comfortable in. Melika didn’t know if she’d ever be able to afford hormones or surgery, but she was going to exist as a woman and do so outside the confines of her own head.

Melika had heard the rumors about Jardin and wanted to explore those lustful impulses for herself. As Melika prowled the dance floor, she received invitations to the multitudes of sexual congress. Queer women and femme-leaning genderqueers waved beckoning fingers and stole hungry glances, but, after an hour, Melika was sitting at the Rosebud, sipping a screwdriver, and trying not to cry.

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Homes and Self-Portraits

Sabine hated the glad-handing of big gallery shows.

They hadn’t sold a piece in over a month, and their rent was due in two weeks. Sabine was happy to have one of their works at Terre for the 2018 Pittsburgh Art Crawl. They had begged and pleaded with Severin for a spot. They were not, under any circumstances, asking their mother to help cover the rent… again. Sabine was a grown ass adult. They were a working artist. They could pay their bills.

Or, at least, that’s what Sabine told themself each day as they pushed aside the rational impulse to find a job with benefits and a salary.

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Not Quite Midnight in the Jardin of Arsene and Virgil

Stuttering percussion and icy synths reverberated across the surging dance floor, and Jardin‘s swelling patronage was being swept up in the triphop’s intoxicating physicality. The shuffling, arrhythmic beats pulsing through the bar sent waves of color that folded in on themselves and back out, unfurling and blooming, each permutation an aftershock of the endless reflections.

From her high bar stool, just off the disco’s center, on a little diamond of the labyrinthine, elevated walkway, Virgil scanned the club for familiar faces.

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May 16th, 2009

Robin Goldberg met Virgil Keller the night that Robin graduated from Hodges University.

Robin was wearing a royal purple one-piece bathing suit. She’d ordered the swimwear from the official Omikron Epsilon Delta merch catalogue. Robin didn’t like how most swimsuits looked on her pale skin, but dark purples brought out the chestnut in her hair. The collegiate gear felt appropriate since her Brothers and Sisters were the ones that had brought her out to celebrate in the first place.

That evening was Robin’s first trip to Jardin, and the disco throbbed in lavender and rose eternity. The nightclub’s walls were mirrored, and the mirrors had built in strobes. The lights were arranged as blooming, lush flowers. The night was just finding its own rhythm, and the lights embedded in the walls were creeping up to a frantic pace. Jardin‘s ceiling and floor were also mirrored as were all sides of the elevated bar seating that crisscrossed the dance floor in a spider-web of reflection. Fractal, electric Kool-Aid lighting suffused every molecule of the room, and getting stoned for the light show and tunes at Jardin had been a burner rite of passage for decades.

On Jardin‘s more architecturally conventional evenings, a large dance floor dominated the center of the club. A cozy, plush red bar rotated in the middle of the dance floor. Arsene liked to call the bar their Rosebud. Most of the lesbians that haunted the place called it “the Clit” instead. Arsene had never corrected them.

The evening that Robin started to fall in love with Virgil, Jardin had embraced an aquatic décor. The polyamorous, pansexual party traded in dresses and suits for speedos and bikinis… and less if you weren’t shy. Few were by the time they left Jardin.

The dance floor had been replaced with sprawling hot tubs and more raised, glass walkways between the tubs. There were open areas of blanketed glass with pillows, lubricants, and prophylactics, of course.

The tubs were steaming. Between the mist and the reality-shifting haze of pure color, Robin’s slow descent into disassociation was, perhaps, understandable.

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April 8th, 2010 – 12:05 AM

Orchid

Vol. 1: Overture

By Dawn Saas and Nic Frankenberry

Powered by the Apocalypse and the work of D. Vincent Baker

as well as

Urban Shadows by Andrew Medeiros and Mark Diaz Truman

Microscope by Ben Robbins


Content Warning: Drug Use, Gender Dysphoria, Implied Sexual Violence, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Depictions of Severe Depression and Anxiety


Sabine knows.

Melika Ghazi’s hand shuddered as she took the joint from Sabine.

Sabine couldn’t help but notice Melika’s shaky hands. Melika took a deep drag and coughed out a swirling pillow of white smoke.

The dissipating cloud was whisked away by a spring breeze that tore across the second floor balcony where Melika and Sabine leaned against the railing. Sabine Almeida’s cropped mop, a feathered hallucination of purples and pinks,  refused to budge. Melika’s shoulder-length black hair flew across her face.

The hair isn’t fooling anybody either.

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