Light and Dark Magazine’s name is also part of their mission: to publish work that displays both the light and the dark side of humanity. The online issues are bite-sized and easy to digest, providing just a few pieces to take in throughout the month until the next issue is published. The November 2018 issue features two new pieces of fiction—“You Do What You Have To” by James MacDonald and “Santa Madusa” by Siolo Thompson—and cover art by Abigail Bonnanzio.
In “You Do What You Have To,” James MacDonald’s narrator, Claire, faces both the light and the dark in her relationship with Ray. They meet each other at the right time, they’re the perfect person for one another, and they whirlwind around the world together. But Claire, older than Ray, is suddenly aware of her age: “It didn’t hit me all at once, but I started to feel like that girl who’s been in college for 7 years and hasn’t picked a major yet; that girl who’s twenty-five or twenty-six and still goes home with frat boys.”
While Claire focuses on making changes to give her security, Ray continues to party, he’s hungover and vomiting when she tries to discuss a job offer with him, and he keeps smoking cigarettes in secret even when Claire quits. Claire seems to be leaving him in the dust. When he gets sick, she takes care of him but leaves him in the dark about her feelings of discontent. MacDonald makes the reader consider being in Claire’s shoes. Would we tell the truth about our feelings in the face of a dying loved one, and if we decided not to, would we regret it like she does?
Siolo Thompson explores the ideas of lightness and darkness a little more literally (and spiritually) in “Santa Madusa.” Main character Marina has middle onset macular degeneration, a “progressive disease, which was progressing,” causing her to slowly lose her vision. As she loses bits of her previous life—sight, her girlfriend, her ability to drive, her desire to be seen in public—Medusa starts to become Marina’s personal patron saint, a woman “who was blessed with an avenging and protective sight.”
Thompson weaves Marina’s and Medusa’s stories together, moving back and forth between the two. The use of Medusa instead of the other saints that line the shelves at her grandmother's house and stand watch in her doctor’s office highlight Marina’s defiant strength and resilience in the face of loss and solitude. She rejects the images of comfort others cling to, finding her own stand-ins for spirituality:
The light from the windows dances and she thinks of the virginal saints and their visions, their eyes filled with the glory of God and the omnipresent maleness, naked and hung, of the body of Christ. Marina does not see Jesus.
When she holds her hands up to the light, she sees the curving bodies of the women she has loved and the pink blood-light between them when their limbs are laid skin to skin.
Marina could feel sorry for herself and wallow in darkness, but with Medusa’s story always on her mind, she’s able to find her own strength, her own source of light. Readers who are sick of taking in the feel-good holiday stories floating around right now should find some reprieve with Marina’s “I’ll do things my own way and I don’t care if you like it” attitude.
This November 2018 issue of Light and Dark Magazine offers readers two different interpretations of the journal’s theme, giving a good taste of what the magazine presents throughout the year. Whether you want to step into literal lightness and darkness, or explore the highlights and shadows of relationships, this issue is a great place to start.