II) The Starvation Phase by Paige Towers

There is no food. Those television shows lied to us—the ones where you watch men pulling up edible roots, thick and juicy, like radishes, or where they twist a bit of wire around and a short time later pull a rabbit out of the snare, its neck already snapped back in death. There is no food. When I was a child, I used to hike to the ravine in the back of my parents’ house after supper. I’d squint my eyes until the distant lights from the neighbors’ porches dissipated from my peripheral vision. Then I could imagine how it would feel to be alone. Here are the woods, you’re wearing boots and a coat and thin cotton mittens that cost a dollar—go! Five minutes, ten minutes, thirty: I wanted to grasp what it’d be like to not have the option of going back inside. To not have the option of turning on a faucet. Boiling water for peppermint tea. Watching a movie under a blanket. Heating up a piece of pie in the microwave. I wanted to feel the fear but couldn’t summon the courage, or recklessness, to walk into it. I thought about all those times I’d played around with the idea of survival later when the shock of being lost in the forest hit me in the gut. Low blood sugar and my hands trembled. There is no trail just like there is no food, just soggy leaves and worms I vomit up. Or—look here—a rotted deer carcass; another patch of mushrooms I do not recognize; the countless small, unroasted birds that look down and sing my demise; an open refrigerator door inside my head with a light wide enough to highlight the outer reaches of my hips. Until that light becomes a sliver of a spotlight. And then an even narrower, fainter glow. And then it’s gone. Yes, my god—it’s gone.



Paige Towers is a creative and freelance writer who earned her BA from the University of Iowa and her MFA from Emerson College. She currently lives in the diverse Riverwest neighborhood of Milwaukee and is at work on a book of essays about sound. She’s also the Senior Editor of TRUE, a weekly publication from Proximity Magazine. Her writing has appeared in The Harvard Review, The Baltimore Review, McSweeney’s, Midwestern Gothic, Prime Number, Rock & Sling, So To Speak, and many other publications. You can read more of her published work on www.paigetowers.com.