student-run literary magazine
published in Dominican International School
Taipei, Taiwan



dead stars

June 28, 2017

On the morning of my wedding, I was told that my wife would one day cheat on me. I laughed when it happened.

I remember that I was in front of the door to the wedding hall, waiting for guests to fill up the room, when a little girl (around four years old, dressed in a hideous shade of magenta), came to me and pulled at my sleeves. She told me to bend down. So, I did. She cupped her hands around her tiny mouth and whispered into my ear.

“I think that she’ll find a new prince one day. Don’t you agree?”

She pointed at my wife and looked back at me. I looked at her. I remember thinking about how modern parenting has failed. All the trash TV shows and cartoons that these kids watch is what is leading to all this “prince and princess” romance bullshit. One day, they’ll realize that marriage is really nothing but a social necessity. So I carried on with the rest of my day. I waited as my father-in-law led my wife down the hall. I remember putting the ring on her finger and kissing her, thinking that I, though not the luckiest man in the world, was happy enough. I talked to some guests, had a bit too much champagne, made a fool of myself on the dance floor— you know, all the typical things.

I don’t know why, but despite the absurdity of things, I still couldn’t help but recall how the pink girl at the wedding dared to mark my fate with her words. It wasn’t really what she said that bothered me. That was irrelevant. What struck me was my nonchalance to her words. I think that I was supposed to feel something, be it anger, sadness, or disbelief. This dawned on me for days. My apathy towards the “prophecy” began to expand and characterize itself in other parts of my life.

Things happened in the following months. I was cut from my job because the company I worked for went bankrupt. I didn’t tell her though. I would leave the house at seven in the morning and return home at far later hours. I didn’t think she would want to know about my new state of unemployment. I was felt uncomfortable to stay home with her all day. I guess I lied and isolated myself from the good of the both of us.

We continued living like this for another year. I got myself a part time job cleaning and serving at a bar. I earned enough to get us by. She never complained though. It was strange how she chose to remain with me even after how I have managed to fuck up my jobs. Every time I see her at home, she would smile at me faintly— as if looking at a lost lover.

One day after work, I decided to stay at the bar for a couple of drinks. I forgot to call home that night. Half intoxicated, I arrived home at half past three. To my surprise, she was waiting up for me. I expected her to be mad. I expected her to yell at me. But when she saw me walk into the room, all she did was tell me to get some rest. When I heard her say this, something in me snapped. The kid was right. My wife didn’t care anymore. There can only be one way to explain how she has managed to put up with an unsuccessful and useless man life me.

As messed up as it sounds, I still imagine her there with me when I stayed out with other women. I disgusted myself. I told myself that this was meant to happen anyways. When a woman from a high standing family marries you, you realize that you will never be enough for, no matter how hard you try. As I think back on it, I realize that I would really like the girl for telling me what she did. If I hadn’t known, I would probably have been heartbroken if I found out she cheated on me . It was just a matter of time. Instead, by knowing the truth, I could at least fulfill what was missing from my life, from my marriage.

She wasn’t surprised when I brought her the divorce papers. She told me she knew. I told her I did too.

“I still remember the day we got married. He was happy, I think. I don’t know what happened. I still loved him. I guess he decided he didn’t anymore. I laughed when he told me he ‘knew’ that I would have left. He didn’t know shit. I loved him. He didn’t. It’s that simple”


June 3, 2017

“I have two priorities in this world (or at least in what we see of it)– my established systems of deception and acceptance.

Now, if you ask me which comes after the other, I will tell you to stop embarrassing yourself. You’re only trying to act witty because you think people like this version of you. I will tell you to stop because frankly the chicken or the egg debate gets old.

People trying to assert superiority over one another with petty speech and cheap humor isn’t anything new. I like to tell myself that these people could be shifting this attention to solving the world’s problems– stopping global warming, curing cancer, and whatnot. It’s funny to imagine a world where people actually do useful shit with their lives. Then again, what would happen to the businesses that feed on the misfits of society? Entertainment businesses would lose capital because people would be busy maintaining productivity; the drugs, alcohol, and sex industries would play a lesser role in our capitalist system. If you look at the big picture, people in this world would also think they’ve achieved self sufficiency when really they’re just feeding back into their individual egos.

But, back to me. I have accepted that I will inevitably need to lie to myself for a sane state of mind; with this, necessitates the maximum level of acceptability to my conscious will . I believe I am happy because that is what I have chosen to tell myself. Who gives a fuck if I cut myself every night and drink myself to sleep? I tell myself things to keep myself sane. I tell other people things to keep them sane. We all accept what I say because we all accept the easiest answers– well, at least the majority of us. Some people think they’re above all that and instead choose to confront the hardest truths. That’s kind of stupid. Choosing to make your life harder doesn’t make you any more respectable. We all know somewhere in there, you’re just trying to prove that you deserve better, that because you’ve gone through hell and back, you now deserve all the glories humanity can offer. All of this only adds on to why lying to yourself and accepting those lies is the best approach to living.

I don’t think I’m a coward for thinking this. Wouldn’t you just love to think this way? All you have to do is let yourself.”

Amidst your words,
do you hear how alive the trees are?

“The Season of Divorce”: Literary Analysis and Its Criticism on Male Dominance

In “The Season of Divorce” by John Cheever, the story of a couple is told from the perspective of the husband. Their marriage is disturbed when Dr. Trencher, a neighbor, falls in love and begins to pursue Ethel, the narrator’s wife. Though Dr. Trencher succeeds in emotionally moving Ethel through his expression of love for her, Ethel remains faithful to her husband. Through the events that occur in the story, one can sense the lack of fulfillment Ethel feels in her marriage; this feeling is magnified as readers perceive the lack of affection in which the narrator treats Ethel with. Throughout the story, the narrator’s passive tone suggests a detachment between him and his wife, ultimately appealing to the readers’ feeling of sympathy for Ethel. The lack of regards that Ethel’s husband treats her with is evident, providing justification for her desire to leave him and touching base on the idea of male dominance that readers can later come to explore.
The lack of connection between the couple can immediately be perceived in the introduction we are given about Ethel. Instead of depicting her as an individual- one with various qualities or experiences in life the narrator merely describes her physical appearance. According to the narrator, “because [their] lives are confined by [his] modest salary, the surface of Ethel’s life is easy to describe.” This tells us that the narrator’s scope and understanding of his wife is limited to her visible and tangible qualities This is peculiar, as one would expect a husband to refer to his spouse with much more depth, as opposed to providing what seems like a basic profile of a stranger. The narrator’s inability to present his wife with a greater level of insight suggests a sense of detachment and a lack of understanding. Their lack of connection is taken a step further as the narrator begins speaking of his wife with a sense of inferiority; he degrades Ethel when referring to her educational background, calling her possession of a diploma “a short-lived joke”. When learning about Dr. Trencher’s pursuit of Ethel, he responds in disbelief –believing that no one would make a move at Ethel given her choice of clothing. In addition, the fact that Ethel never directly refers to her husband by his name reinforces the disconnection between the two. The lack of a name given to the narrator gives us little to no information regarding his identity, creating an unreliable voice that may cause readers to find it difficult to accurately judge his viewpoints in the story. This can be regarded as an intentional quality given to the husband, further depicting the story in justification of Ethel’s position.

Ethel’s story is greatly undermined by the narrator. One can see how Ethel has become restricted to her role as a housewife after her marriage, living a life that merely revolves around tending for her children and taking care of housework. She is confined to the boundaries of her home. Despite Ethel’s contributions to her marriage, the narrator takes her for granted, treating her words with little to no significance. When the narrator questions Ethel about her relationship with Dr. Trencher, she responded by expressing her lack of satisfaction at herself and at the life she is living. She says, “I am ashamed at my incompetence, ashamed of the way I look. Oh, I guess I love you, I do love the children, but I love myself, I love my life, it has some value and some promise for me and Trencher’s roses make me feel that I’m losing this, that I’m losing my self-respect.” Essentially, after experiencing the romantic treatment by Dr. Trencher, Ethel realizes the lack of self-worth she is deriving from her marriage; the newfound understanding that she should be treated with respect and equality, thus, makes her feel as though she is losing her self-respect. Instead of seeking to further understand his wife’s feelings, the narrator quickly dismisses and cuts off Ethel’s statement, telling her to go to bed. The notion of Ethel’s dissatisfaction is explicitly reiterated at the end of the story as she breaks down and cries. She addresses her husband’s questioning of her crying, saying “I cry because my father died when I was twelve and because my mother married a man I detested or thought that I detested…I cry because of some unkindness that I can’t remember. I’m tired- because I’m tired and I can’t sleep.” This statement is one of the most powerful parts of the story not only because of the strong emotions of Ethel’s words but also as it is the only part of the story where we do not hear a response from the narrator’s thoughts. Readers can see the ending that resulted from everything that Ethel has had to hold in, from her father’s death to the lack of regard the narrator treats her with. Overall, readers may come to perceive Ethel’s initial attraction to Dr. Trencher as justified because of the outlet he provides for her outside of the monotonous life she lives; his genuine care and affection towards her introduces the type of treatment that has been missing from her marriage.

Ultimately, though some may perceive the return of both families to their normal lives as a consolation and a positive ending to the event, a different interpretation of the conclusion can be given from a contrasting perspective. Readers may decide that Ethel deserves to be treated with greater respect by her husband and that her staying with him would mean that she will never be able to reach a feeling of satisfaction or fulfillment in her life. The image at the end of the story of her return to a normal life as a housewife shows the lack of excitement and interest, creating a contrast with the times she spent with Dr. Trencher. She acquiesces to her responsibilities as a mother and wife; she “then… feeds [her children], bathes them, and sets the table, and stands for a moment in the middle of the room, trying to make some connection between the evening and the day. Then it is over. She lights the four candles, and [the family] sit down to [their] supper.” The reoccurring image of the candle, in this case, symbolizes Ethel’s feelings for Dr. Trencher. When Dr. Trencher is kicked out of the house, the narrator throws one of the candles at him, as though making an end to the bond Dr. Trencher had with his wife. The fact that it was picked back and restored at the end of the story shows that despite Dr. Trencher’s exit from Ethel’s life, she still retains him in her mind and may yearn for an alternative life. In reality, however, Ethel has to act as though everything is in place with her marriage and accept the return to her role as a housewife.

It is, in a sense, ironic that Ethel’s name means “noble” as the life she lives is far from what would be expected of royalty. The confinement she faces in her life shows the patriarchy and notion of male dominance that continues to prevail within so many aspects of our lives. The narrator’s treatment of Ethel reflects upon the societal norms that allow the degradation of the female role in a household. It also reflects upon the idea of female inferiority and touches base on how the husband figure in a household is dominant—capable of leading to the events like those that occur in the story. In conclusion, “The Seasons of Divorce” explores themes of detachment, gender roles in a family, and the lack of fulfillment that so many people struggle with in their everyday lives, through the poignant story of a familial rift.


student-run literary magazine
published in Dominican International School
Taipei, Taiwan

Table of Contents

note from the editor

1. (Un)broken Vow

2. A Part of me Always Will

3. Revivable Love

4. Reminiscence

5. Untitled

6. By Day’s End

7. Dreams

8. Four Seasons

9. Mirror

10. Magic

11. Oracle

12. The Fallible Truth

13. Earthquake in Tainan

ESCAPE// Issue I