The Beginning of the End

The Beginning of the End: Or is it? Erin Murphy Have you ever went out to eat alone? If so, did you ever notice right after you tell the host “Just one,” and you’re led to a specific section of the restaurant (which is most likely an area designated for new members of the waitstaff due to their lack of experience and incapability of handling large parties) what happens next? Most often than not, the host will remove the other place setting and silverware from the table. They’ll perform this action violently almost, and it’s not because they’re angry. It’s because they’re focusing on advertising the current restaurant specials. They’re focusing on delivering the dialogue correctly, just the way their manager instructed, and they are completely unaware that even the right words still make them sound robotic. So they rip the other place mat away, attempting to maintain their integrity as a hard worker while conserving place mats and silverware, and they fail to notice your reaction. I remember one time specifically, I was on my way home from a coworkers house in Haledon, New Jersey. Working odd restaurant hours myself, I used to forget necessities of living like eating on a regular basis. It was 3 A.M as I pulled out of my work friend’s neighborhood and I realized I was starving. Well fuck, I can’t go home. There’s nothing but UTZ chips and refrigerator cereal at my house. For those of you who don’t know me, my Father […]

Passing out Flyers

Passing out Flyers Downtown on a Saturday Erin M. Murphy On the night I visited 11 Walton Street for the first time (the same night I agreed to rent a $400 tiny room in a ghetto neighborhood), the dog behind his fence and Michael Tree weren’t the only living beings I met when I arrived. Steven was also here, and I learned later his father is the one who actually owns the Walton house. Steven stood there on the back porch in darkness with his long black hair and checkered pajama pants. Even with the lack of lighting (which is more eerie now looking back than I remember it feeling then—considering I was standing with two strangers…in a junkyard…in the ghetto…) I could still make out traces of mysterious hair attached to his pants. They were thick, white, animal-like hairs just dangling there against the patches. As far as stereotypes go, Steven looked like a stoner. Back then I wasn’t aware that most people here in Asheville rarely fall under stereotypical categories regardless of their appearances. They’re all different from what one might initially suspect, yet they’re all the same too. Despite these facts, I was right. Steven is most definitely a stoner. “Hey, if you’re not doing anything tomorrow and would like to hand out flyers for me Downtown, I’ll get you a free ticket to my show tomorrow night.” Steven told me. Being that he just witnessed me agree to rent a random room after only three minutes […]

My Cousin’s Wedding

My Cousin’s Wedding Erin M. Murphy I arrived at Cocoa Beach around 5:30 A.M and the sun was just about to rise. Sitting there on the beach, watching the birth of a new day set me into a trance. I thought about how many people, even me, often fail to appreciate the beauty of this world we inhabit. I thought about photography and how it might be the hardest form of art known to man. It’s nearly impossible to recreate something as beautiful as an ocean’s dawn through the snap of a picture. It would take an extremely talented photographer to recreate even a fraction of the feelings I felt sitting there in the sand that morning. Watching the clouds trail across the horizon in thick puffs of patterns shaped like people, it reminded me of “heaven”. It made me think of my friend who passed away. I imagined him up there amongst the puffy pattern people and I fixed my eyes on a cloud that could have resembled my old friend if I squinted my vision hard enough. I wonder if that’s how it works. I wonder if the ones taken away from us spend the early morning hours sitting on the horizon waiting to greet the sun. Then when it finally rises, they float upward away from the golden light and yield to its every need. Maybe the temporary shade of a summer day on the beach is merely the sun taking a lunch break and the clouds […]


Caged I was up all night and well into the morning trying to write, so of course I couldn’t sleep after. The sun was already up which never makes it easy even with the blinds closed. I kept tossing and turning while feeling depressed and delirious. The sun was creeping desperately through the cracks, so I drew back the blinds and allowed the light to fill the room. My lack of sleep wasn’t the sun’s fault, so why should it be punished? I laid there looking out the window at the house across the street. A dog lives in the front yard of this house. Not the same house where the gang members were evicted, the one right next-door. It’s a mustard colored building with chipped paint and a brick porch. That dog was the first life that greeted me here on Walton Street. That first night, I was alarmed by the vicious sounds of barking as I unexpectedly locked eyes with it right after getting out of my car. He scared the living shit out of me, which is probably why I decided to stay and rent the room. All my fear was gone. As time went by living at this house in the ghetto, I became grateful for the dog. His voice became a constant alert that a stranger was out there on our sidewalks. A sound that initially seemed vicious, somehow became comforting. I sat there this morning staring at the dog, caged behind a fence in […]

Couch Surfing vs. Feeding the Homeless

Couch Surfing vs. Feeding the Homeless   It’s Thursday night and I just walked through the front door to find a young girl holding a guitar in her lap sitting across from a tattoo faced man with half his ear missing, both on the kitchen floor. “Oh good you came! I’m Erin,” I shook their hands. They were finishing up the dinner my roommate cooked. “Should I go out to pick up some beer?” I asked. “We were just talking about that. I was saying I think I’m too full to drink anymore,” the young girl was sincere as she looked up in the direction of my face. “Well, I’m going to run out to get some. I was gonna on the way home, but I got distracted. Do ya’ll need anything else?” Did I just say ya’ll? Fuck, I did. “No, we’re okay!” I walked across the front junkyard to my car and thought about how different it felt, actually EXPECTING guests for once. It was nice, almost. Hours earlier, my roommates told me they invited some random street people over for dinner on a whim. These people had a sign that read: “We’re hungry.” There’s a difference in EXPECTING strangers to be in the middle of the house when you arrive home, and there’s a difference between offering dinner to the homeless and hosting couch surfers. My brief education on couch surfing has taught me that those sort of guests, the “couch surfers” that is, are expected to […]

Angels & Deviled Eggs

 Angels & Deviled Eggs It was Memorial Day and I was at the Book Exchange again. I spent the entirety of Sunday sitting in this same spot, writing in my red composition notebook for four hours. One of the main reasons I came here to Asheville was to write, so at first it didn’t feel wrong. I just moved into a room at 11 Walton Street on Saturday morning, so sitting there amongst the book shelves on Sunday felt good. I didn’t force myself to poeticize every word, I just wrote. Then there I was again on Memorial Day, flicking the same pen while rubbing at my eyes. I came here to write, I thought. Why can’t I do it? The way I did it yesterday. I looked beyond the book shelves, squinting through their cracks. I couldn’t make out a specific image, all I saw was a bright blinding light. That’s the sun. It’s Memorial Day, the sun is shining and I’m in North Carolina. I need to be out there. It would be an insult if I sat here staring through a shelf. So I left the Book Exchange and went walking. Downtown was just the way I remembered it from my visit in November, only now there was sun and now there was time. I passed a man playing trumpet on the corner of Wall Street. I remember back in November this same man directed me toward a bar I was trying to find late one night. […]

An Unfinished Story-Michael Tree

An Unfinished Story-Michael Tree   “Also, pay attention to your dreams within the next couple of days.” My roommate instructed after the Full Moon Ritual. I liked the sound of that. I’ve been doing a lot of sleeping. This could give it a purpose. Last night I dreamt of Ryan on a surf board, paddling out to conquer the ocean’s rage. It seemed like some sort of competition, because I was just beyond the shoreline with my arms around my knees while I sat there in the sand watching. Dreaming of Ryan isn’t out of the ordinary. I have dreamt of him many times before. I’m always rescuing him from something, which is understandable–he’s my baby brother. If I’m not trying to save the world from zombies, I’m trying to save my brother in the dreamworld. Those are the only heroic ones I’ve had. Or remember having. I was sitting there on a beach somewhere, and I felt nervous. Those waves are too big, he’s going to get hurt. *** Michael Tree is making far too much noise right now. Doesn’t he understand the rest of us are in our rooms for a reason? We’re trying to focus. We’re trying to make art. Well, Mitch and Cara are making art, but all I’m trying to do is sort through my feelings without punching a wall. That doesn’t sound like an art form, but when you think about the effort and patience needed to practice such a task, it most definitely […]

Full Moons and Fickle Hearts

Full Moons and Fickle Hearts “I saw you there the first night, and I wanted to know you. Ask my roommate. I said, that girl dancing, I need to know her. Then you came again last Sunday and I couldn’t believe it. I was nervous. It took me a couple of drinks to gain the courage to talk to you. I don’t even remember what I said.” “You sat down next to me and I complemented your tattoos. Tattoos aren’t my thing. But you have one of a tree on your forearm that reminds me of home. It’s beautiful and detailed and real.” I traced his forearm with my index finger. “And you have another tree on your leg, a Truffula tree. Dr. fucking Suess. It took me a few minutes to notice that one too, but once I did I thought to myself ‘shit. this guy might actually understand.’” He laughed. He didn’t understand. “Then what did I say?” “You showed me the other one you have on your chest. A girl’s name. Jade. Inside a heart on top of your heart. Then I ate the pickles off of your dinner plate.” “I’m sorry. Did I tell you the story behind that?” “Sort of, but I was a bit distracted by the dancing.” “Well…” “Shhh. Here, hold on. I have this thing in my purse. Here. Write it in here.” I sat there for a couple seconds watching him write an answer to a question I wrote in one […]

Just the Tip

Just the Tip   I walked inside and found Michael Tree sitting naked on the toilet in the dark with candles lit. Christ, I just had an absurd night and now I’m about to walk in on this motherfucker masturbating. Or doing some weird Ashevillian witchcraft meditation. The world won’t let me rest. I slowly tip-toed toward the hallway attempting to sneak into my bedroom. He must have heard the front door shut, because when I looked up again he was staring directly at me in between groans. “Take me to the hospital, I had bad milk.” That’s when I noticed a trashcan filled with vomit on the bathroom floor. “Okay man, sure. But wait. Try a gatorade first. And bad milk? Are you sure you aren’t drunk?” I was drunk and I was sure. Drunker than I’d been in a while. Drunk enough to wind up in a vault somewhere Downtown with my egg-shaker and a nice boy who I didn’t bother warning about my fickle heart. I felt like I was just getting back from Shoprite Bar in Jersey. Nothing gets me drunker than Shoprite Bar. “And I ate some mushrooms. They might have been bad too.” “I KNEW it. This organic food you are always raving about must be just as poisonous as everything else. Or maybe it has something to do with all of the flies laying babies on the food left in the kitchen.” “No. Psychedelic mushrooms.” He continued to throw up into the bucket. […]

The Beginning

“Well that’s what they get for moving into a black neighborhood.” I woke up hearing talk between two men in a yard across the street. They were cleaning the front lawn of the previous tenant who had recently been evicted for “gang violence”. I thought Asheville was made up of a bunch of drum playing hippies. I parted the blinds with my right index and middle finger (GREATER THAN. That’s what my fingers look like, if I remember correctly, although math is one of the things I’ve always failed at), as I squinted through tired eyes to get a visual. Bryce. One of them is Bryce. I just met him a couple of days ago when I was sitting on the porch reading Bukowski. He’s from Burlington, Vermont. “Oh, are you the artist?” Bryce asked. “Uh, I don’t think so. I just came here from New Jersey yesterday.” “Look at that mess over there.” He said, referring to the pile of garbage left behind by the evicted. “It doesn’t bother me that much. I’m an easy neighbor to have around. If you need anything, let me know.” I said. “You like to party?” Bryce said. “Sometimes.” “Well then, if you need anything you let ME know.” Wait, what does that mean? And that was the last time I heard his voice until now. I watched them lift the trash for half a moment, then let both of my fingers relax against the blinds so they could get busy rubbing at […]