Olivia Boler ’93 is a freelance writer and author of the novels Year of the Smoke Girl (2000) and The Flower Bowl Spell ( 2012), from which the following excerpt is taken. Boler received her master’s degree in creative writing from UC Davis, and has published short stories in the Asian American Women Artists Association (AAWAA) anthology Cheers to Muses, the literary journal MARY, and Facets Magazine, among others. She lives in her native San Francisco with her family.
I’ve always known that rats live in the Muni Metro tunnels, but this morning, after I almost fall onto the tracks, I find out that fairies hang out there too.
This should come as no surprise to a person like me, even though I banished magick from my life two years ago. In that time, I haven’t come across anything like fairies or talking sparrows. Not one rag doll has tried to jump into my shopping cart in ages. Yet, all at once, magick has come back to me.
In the Castro Street station, waiting for an M, L, or K car to take me to work downtown, I stand on the edge of the platform with a trickling crowd of morning commuters. Teenagers heading to Union Square for midsummer shopping sprees mingle with hipsters and Asian elders. There are a couple of indigents, one slumped against the wall, the other pacing and muttering. They wear shabby clothes with dirty, threadbare cuffs. Their BO could be bottled for biological warfare.
Poet and activist Gary Snyder described Olivia Boler’s first novel Year of the Smoke Girl (Dry Bones Press, 2000) as a “dense weave in the cross-cultural multi-racial world of complex, educated, hip, contemporary coast-to-coast America… It is a fine first novel, rich in paradox and detail.” A freelance writer who majored in English at MHC (and minored in Biology), Boler received her master’s degree in creative writing from UC Davis, and has published short stories in the Asian American Women Artists Association (AAWAA) anthology Cheers to Muses, the literary journal MARY, and FacetsMagazine, among others. She lives in her native San Francisco with her family.
It starts, a dropping stab of jagged glass in her belly. No, Amy thinks, it’s lower, near her bladder. She grabs for the armrest but Carlton is covering it with his elbow as he reads the newspaper. She nudges his arm away and squeezes, eyes closing as the cramp rides over her, crunching its way up her abdomen, into her ribs. Her body is hot all over, and she tears off her sweatshirt, catching some strands of her long black hair under her nails. Outside the train, the interstate and countryside flash by in a high-speed chase.
“What’s wrong?” Carlton asks.
“I don’t know.” She is perspiring a little, and she feels his hand on her forehead.