Orange Media Network


Orange Media Network


Orange Media Network



An Excerpt by Rhys Hodson & a Visual Feature by McKenzie Klecker

Wings of an Unsuspecting Serpent by McKenzie Klecker. Acrylic on Canvas.


Excerpt from “Waltz of Shattered Glass”


“We should marry!”

What?” I repeat, incredulous. I am too shocked to even wrench my hands out of his grip.

“No, listen, think about it,” he continues, grin growing bigger and bigger. “Once I am king, and you my consort, we could make real change, Yuin. Just like we’ve been talking about.”

I slowly pull my hands away. “Your father wouldn’t like that.”

Atrius’ shining visage darkens, and I feel a twinge of guilt at the hurt that flashes in his eyes. I know it’s a cheap tactic, his father’s untimely death a sore spot I’m poking like a bruise. “Don’t say that.”

“It’s true, though,” I push. I’m not sure why—logically, I shouldn’t. I should be agreeing and going along with it so I can pull off Alwyn’s plan. But there is some part of me—some deep, frantic, scared part of me—that maybe does want to push Atrius away from the idea. Some part that wants any excuse to not have to execute the plan I had been sent here to do in the first place. “Your people won’t take kindly to you marrying a foreigner. And once they learn that I’m actually a witch? It will cause riots in the streets! They’ll think you’ve gone mad, or that I’ve put you under some spell to take over the kingdom for myself!” Which, all things considered, wouldn’t be too far off from the truth.

Atrius is withdrawing further and further in on himself, hands tucked under his arms, hunching over more and more on the bench. “My father… My father was wrong about a lot of things. He felt threatened by magic, scared of the power your people hold. But, Yuin,” Atrius unfolds himself and moves to take my hands again, “it doesn’t have to be that way! People can change! Opinions can change! For all the power I’ll have when I’m king, what’s the point if I don’t use it for good? If I don’t offer sanctuary to your people while they’re suffering?” Atrius looks down, then, and speaks in a softer voice that sends tingles down my spine. “My life changed the first time I saw your magic. I saw a whole new world open up in front of me. How many others might feel the same way?”

I remember that night clearer than I would like to admit—the first night I told him what I am. The low-hung moonlight overhead was soft, our faint shadows cast on the plush flower beds in the garden. We had been huddled on a bench in the pavilion, breaths intermingling in the cold air. He had taken the news well, all-considering, but divulging my magical identity had still been a massive risk on my end. A calculated one, of course. I saw a path clear ahead of me, and I knew that if I really want to succeed in a way that will make a meaningful difference, I would have to take the risk. But even as the word “witch” left my mouth—or rather, my country’s word for “witch,” a beautiful word with none of the tainted connotation his people have given their version of it—I sat on my hands so I wouldn’t have to feel them tremble. His eyes were dark, serious, and for just a moment I thought I had made a huge mistake. But then he leaned in, and with an intensity I had not seen from him before, he said, “Can I see?”

And so, huddling even closer and using our bodies to create a blockade from anyone who could potentially look in, I whispered an incantation under my breath and produced a spell in the cupped palms of my hands. It was a nothing-spell, really, something even a toddler back home could do. Three small orbs of light of varying sizes blipped into existence, hovering above my palms. I let them wink between colors, blue,then purple, then pink. When Atrius didn’t say anything, I glanced up, and the puffs of my breath in the cold night air abruptly stopped.

His eyes were wide with wonder, mouth open ever so slightly. His gaze was fixed on the orbs, and I could see them reflected in his eyes. Every edge of his face was softened, transfixed, as if he had lived underground his whole life and was seeing the sky for the first time.

So naive. So ignorant. So good-hearted. I didn’t know someone like Atrius could exist before coming here, let alone the prince I was meant to overthrow. It aggravates me just as much as it endears me. Is this not why I was drawn to him in the first place?

I agree to his proposal. I have to. I cannot pass up an opportunity like this.




Rhys Hodson

Biography: Rhys is a creative writing/English major from Eugene, Oregon. They are queer and disabled, and have a passion for creating stories that reflect those experiences. He has been writing for as long as he can remember, and hopes to one day publish all the stories rattling around in their head.

Artist Statement: I have been writing stories for as long as I’ve been able to hold a pencil. Influenced by media like Studio Ghibli, I like to tell stories about messy, complicated relationships and structures where no one person is the bad guy–and in fact, where maybe the “bad guys” are actually just victims of a larger structure. My goal is to make even just one person feel as touched by my work as I have with my own favorite stories–and as a queer and disabled individual, helping bring more representation and understanding is just another bonus!


McKenzie Klecker

Biography: My name is McKenzie Klecker and I am a junior studying Creative Writing and Spanish. Likewise I am a lover of all things creative including words, language and multi-media art. Acrylic on canvas is my preferred medium but I began with the fundamentals of pencil and paper cultivating black and white realistic sketches. Since, I have adventured into the world of abstract and surrealism and enjoy playing with vivid colors and imagery.

Artist Statement: My art tells stories and conveys emotions that I find I cannot express in other ways. It is an outlet for me when I feel the happiest and when I hit my darkest patches. In that way, art is there for me when no one or nothing else can be. I create art because it gives me meaning and I hope for others to find meaning of their own in my work. I feel the most beautiful when I am being creative and the most connected to myself and for that, I will forever be grateful to my inner artist and the other creatives in this world who’s art I too can enjoy and pull inspiration from.

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Selene Lawrence
Selene Lawrence, Student Correspondent
Selene Lawrence (she/they) is PRISM’s Lead E-campus Volunteer and online student correspondent. She is an author, poet, musician, and visual and textile artist. Selene is pursuing a major of her own design: Traditional, Folkloric, and Popular Cultural Studies for Mass Media Communications with a writing minor. Above all else, she is a proud Ecampus student, and is working with PRISM to break down the barriers in online education to help students make the most of their college experience.

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