The Four Rivers Fountain, Shannon Roybal

Pheonix Rising, Faith-Amy Beveridge

The Four Rivers Fountain, Shannon Roybal

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Through twisting alleys garnished with thick, green ivy. The air thick with the smell of fresh bread, pasta, cappuccino, and gelato. Cobblestones jut from the ground, wobble from centuries of heavy foot traffic. Suddenly the path opens, sprawling into a wide piazza. A rising wave of voices swirls from the masses turning, spinning, walking, sitting, laughing, singing, and watching, all filling an elongated oval.

In the middle it rises, demanding attention, reaching toward heaven—a statue, a fountain, four rivers.

            A marble dove perches on top, a small branch clutched in its beak. The sun glints behind it, just setting behind the marble dome of the church. Beneath the dove stretches an obelisk. Petite engravings trace down the faces of the marble, detailed, and too far away to read, as un-Roman as the skinny, camera-toting, American. Four men sit upon the four legs strutting out beneath the obelisk. Each captivating.

            His right arm rests on the carved stone, left arm reaching up as if to block the sun. Eyes turned toward the heavens. Bald except for the twisting beard on his chin. Overlarge ears. A band on his lower right leg. A cloth drapes over his left shoulder, down over his upper thigh, covering nothing except his would-be exposed shoulder. Coins dot the edge of his perch. He is not European; he is from another land. From far away or only across a sea? Torn from the thick jungle of his home, placed on a ship, and sent to a new world.

            A veil, with its folds and creases, covers his eyes before flowing down his back and falling onto his right leg like liquid, like softness, silk. He braces himself against the perch with his right arm and with his left he attempts to lift the marble veil that must be heavier than its gracefulness lets on. Muscles strain against the marble, his beard curling. A sliver of smooth face shines through, a peering eye just able to see—to see the edge of the fountain? The glimmer of Euro coins in the twilight?

            Twisting, he is almost tilting from his perch: one arm raised for balance, as the other reaches behind him, creates his imbalance. A braided crown separates the wavy hair from the wavy beard. His cloth falls similar to Plata’s cloth, hardly covering, but rather exposing more of the marble flesh. His right hand touches the lower portion of the coat of arms. Two tiny flags on top, with twisting poles, are attached to an ornate, papal crown. Below, shaped like a shield, three fleurs-de-lis above an etched dove and branch.

            The oar is perched between his knees. Casually his left hand holds it steady. He leans effortlessly against his perch, his exposed body softly cupped against the curve of the marble. His cloth extends from his shoulder down to the rock on which he reclines. A leafy crown sits atop marble waves, which flow down into the curls of his beard. His gaze is fixed outward: large, white, marble eyes forever gazing at the shifting and passing of the masses in the piazza. Not hard, not weak, steady and understanding, knowing.

            Four arches stretch below and between the statues. In one, a lion bends down, ready to lap up the glittering water. His curly mane twists down his spine, disappearing into the column. His large paws have tufts of fur ruffled along them. Another arch holds the swishing tail of the lion; his back paws dipping into the lukewarm water. The other two arches hold a galloping horse, mane whipping in the wind, charging through the water. A snake circles just beneath the obelisk. His mouth stretches open, emitting a low hiss forever. In the water are several scaled, marble fish, spitting water from their pursed lips, fins uselessly splayed beneath the blue water.

            Slowly as the light fades, the masses in the piazza melt away. The rush and splash of the fountain begins to permeate the air; each man sits above the spout of his river as it cascades into the wide basin below. Shadows creep over the figures until the details flicker into a marble mass, and reluctantly I turn from the masterpiece, and find a curving alley to take me away, green vines dropping behind me like a curtain.


Pheonix Rising, Faith-Amy Beveridge 

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It was an easy decision to make, right? Just take four white pills and all the problems of the past few weeks would melt away. No more sleepless nights, no more stress and anxiety, it would all disappear. I put them into my mouth, shoving them in to dissolve against my cheeks. “Did you take some Vicodin too?” I nodded, my mind drifting, waiting for the pain.

I noticed the nausea first. I would go into the dorms and the smell of the food would make me retch. I stopped eating but the nausea wouldn’t go away. It came while I was driving, it came when I was tired, it came in the mornings, and it came in the evenings. I thought it was stress—my first semester of college, perfectly normal. “Lover, please let me buy you some tests, just for the peace of mind it would give me?” My boyfriend pleaded with me. His eyes were desperate, spooked. I didn’t know what his problem was: I knew there was nothing wrong with my body. I would be able to tell. I agreed anyways, if only to shut him up. He had been begging me for a week, but every time I blew him off. He was overreacting like he always did when he thought something was wrong with me. It was sweet, but annoying. We went to Walgreens later that day, picking up the cardboard box that would make or break the rest of my life.

            I held the instructions in my hand, reading over them carefully—these tests were so finicky and I didn’t want to mess it up and scare The Boyfriend. I peed in the cup, inserting the plastic tab and counted to 15, as told. Afterwards I pulled it out and waited five minutes. I was still cocky, knowing the results would be negative because there was absolutely nothing the matter with me. I checked the tab. “There must be something wrong with it,” I thought. I drew another out of its foil pouch, peed again, and redid the test. The results were the same. I started to get nervous, my palms were sweaty and my heart was beating too fast to be normal. “The sample must be contaminated,” I decided. I rinsed the glass, pouring boiling hot water over it. The biting pain as the heat poured over my hand kept me thinking clearly. I realized it was useless. Two in a row meant there was no fluke. Suddenly all I could focus on was cleaning up the evidence so no one could realize what I’d been doing in the bathroom for twenty minutes. I carefully wrapped the wands in their foil. He would want to see them. I walked into the dining room where the sounds of conversation washed over me; the drunken laughter was the only thing that registered in my consciousness, that and the loud, deep bark of Mike’s voice as I floated past.

“Lover, can I talk to you?” I asked. My voice was strained, forcibly cheerful.

“Sure, I’ll be right there.” He was caught in the dialogue, swept up in the current of speech. I turned and plodded back to the bedroom. My feet were too heavy to lift, so I sat down. I waited.

The waiting room was comfortable; the nurses friendly in the business-like way that only a person who deals with the sick every day can manage. The door opened and a large woman no older than thirty stepped towards the chairs of expectant people. “Chelsea?” She inquired to the room in general. I stood. My boyfriend eyed me nervously, grabbing our stuff as he followed me into the back room.

“Are you a smoker?”


“When was the first day of your last period?”

“September 17, I think…”

“What brings you in today?”

“Alright Chelsea I need you to undress…”

“This might feel cold…”

“Put your feet here for me”

“There’s a towel to cover yourself with”

“…Surgery does have risks of scar tissue”

“Here are the numbers of some clinics, I recommend that you see a therapist”

            The shower water poured over me, ice-cold, keeping me conscious as I floated around the words of Jane Eyre that He read to me. My vision darkened then lightened, then darkened again. I was terrified that if I entered the darkness, let it envelop me, I would never wake up again. So I forced myself to stay awake, curled up on the porcelain floor. His hand stroked my hair. He was so good. So good for letting me choose. So good for helping me. So good for staying with me.

            “I thought something like this was going on,” said my mother, over the phone. I had called her to share the news, too scared to see her face. The distance made me feel safe. “Well honey, I hope you’re making that boy pay for it.” Typical of a family that grew up on a budget, money always comes first, always. Her lack of any other response made me want to curl up and cry in her arms, but she was cold and callused to me. I couldn’t tell my father: he’d only think I had gotten what I deserved for having a serious boyfriend at nineteen. He’d never forgive me.  

             “What would you do Becca?” I asked my friend as she trotted around the arena.

            “I don’t know,” she replied, “I think you’re doing the right thing. You aren’t ready for it. You would have to give up so much. I mean, how would you keep your horse? And what about school? You’d have to drop out, not that that means much to you, but an education is important.” I guess. My fingers twined through my horse’s mane as we stood in the center of the indoor arena. I couldn’t give him up: he was the only thing that made me feel real.

            In the end I did it for my dad. I could rough through the years without a horse, and I’d find a way to manage financially, but I didn’t want him to be disappointed in me for becoming a statistic. I didn’t want to lose my dad, so I went into the clinic. The nurse recited the procedure over and over again to my boyfriend and me. I couldn’t go home without my dad finding out, and I couldn’t stay in the dorms, so I went to my boyfriend’s parents’ place. I opted for medication, I opted to stay in school, I opted for an induced miscarriage, I opted to stay comfortable. I opted to kill my baby.

            I always thought choosing would be easy. Logically it’s obvious, you want the best for your child, so why have it when you’re a freshman in college, unprepared physically, emotionally, and financially? Yet there is an emotional side, one you don’t realize is there until the choice has been made for you. I wanted that baby. I wanted small hands in mine, a happy face grinning and calling me momma. I wanted to watch him grow up, wanted to help her with her science fair projects, teach him how to read.

For three days I laid in His bed. My body was gripped by cramps that ripped open my uterus twisting it, contracting it, forcing the life out of it. The blood ran down my thigh. Sea monkey in the toilet. Mom visiting. Becca visiting. Him holding me. A cry pulled from my throat as my stomach convulsed again. The parade spun faster and faster. Then it was done. Gone. Completely.

I couldn’t have sex for months. Every time I was with him I thought of our child. A mother would walk past me pushing a stroller and my heart would sink with grief. I upped my birth control, since the pill obviously wasn’t working for me. The roller coaster of hormones only made it worse. I wanted my baby. I wanted my tummy to be growing. I wanted to be picking out colors for her room—tan and blue or yellow and green? I wanted a baby shower. I wanted to sit with my Boyfriend at night, fascinated by his small kicks. I wanted my mom to be fighting with Jill over who got to fuss over me. I wanted to call her up in the middle of the night because my belly wouldn’t allow me to sleep comfortably. I wanted this to be a joyous time, like having a baby is supposed to be, not something to cry over.

  I pulled the wrinkled photo from my wallet. My heart ached as I looked at it: the small white smear on the scan, clearly developing into a fetus.            

            “I think I have a name for her,” I said to Him.

            “What?” He looked up from his paper at me, his eyes that soft green they get when I’m on his mind.

            “Phoenix. Because even though I destroyed her, there’s a chance he’ll rise again.” My voice cracked and tears ran down my face, pooling on the picture.

            “Oh Lover.” He was there, wrapping his arms around me, rocking me like I should have been rocking my child.

            May is close, my birth month and Phoenix’s as well. There’s going to be a small gathering, just my boyfriend and I. There will be a small box, a dollhouse really, with a little bed and a little window. There might even be a little book if I can find one. I haven’t decided on the color of the walls yet. I’m thinking yellow and green.

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