plain china: best undergraduate writing

Volume One : Issue Two

King of Hearts


by Jillian Fragale

Untitled, 2008 by Mattheis Carley Untitled, 2008 by Mattheis Carley

After a series of minor breakdowns and chronic health problems, I have had it with life. It’s spring break and I am visiting my boyfriend in San Francisco. I know that all I need is a bed and perhaps someone to make me some soup; unfortunately, Jason is unable to do that. After our day and half in bed, my cold resurfaces, as does my self-pity. He is annoyed by my presence. When I tell him I’m thinking of leaving San Francisco early, he replies with, “Are you really going to ask me to talk about things when my shows are on?”

Instead of staying with him for the rest of my vacation, I book a flight home to Arizona, weak and bitter.


Fall 1990. My dad wakes my sisters and me in the middle of the night. Julie is twelve, Jenny ten, I’m seven and Janel is four. We can’t help but be confused in our excitement. Daddy came home late, but didn’t forget the ice cream sundaes he promised us. We all sit in the kitchen devouring our treat and laughing as Daddy takes turns squirting whipped cream into each of our mouths. My mother grudgingly laughs. She is mad that he woke us up, but enjoying herself like the rest of us. Family time.


My sisters and I sit silently, focused on the television, trying to ignore the argument echoing in our ears from the kitchen. It’s Christmas Eve, 1991. I am eight years old. It’s been going on for a while now. We know our role on these occasions. But he has been relentless and we all fidget with fear. Perhaps we were silly to think that a family holiday would keep him at bay.

Daddy is screaming and Mommy, running. I wish a magic hole would appear in the wall for Mommy to get away. Instead the wall blocks her escape and he finally gets her. I cannot see, but I hear gasps.

The shadows of the lit tree reach his glowing wedding band as he grips my mother’s neck. Hate and fear create a concoction of stillness within me, as I freeze and stare. My oldest sister, Julie, is screaming at him to stop; my own throat is choked with shock.

It stops as quickly as it began. He rises as my mother crumples to the ground, her lungs heaving for air. I think he has suddenly awakened from his trance-like act of rage. But what woke him? Was it his oldest daughter’s cry? The desperation in my mother’s paling face?

He is walking toward me. My eyes penetrate him in his stride, narrow with disappointment and pain. I am blocking his only path out of the living room. I know I should move, but my legs are frozen. With one swift push, I am out of his way and no longer standing.

It was the first time I ever witnessed him lay a hand on her, the first time he felt the shame from his children’s glare, and the only time I ever got in his way.


Ten years old, Thanksgiving, 1993. They are arguing. Poppop and Daddy. I lay on the floor, sleepily gazing at the TV. Thanksgiving football games always make the yells in the kitchen seem farther away. Their pride is at a boiling point and Poppop storms towards his bedroom. My grandfather gets a bat and comes down the hallway. Mommom and Aunt Cathy run towards Poppop. They push him ferociously into his bedroom, pinning him down with all their strength.

Aunt Cathy yells at my father, “Robbie, get out of here. Now!” Her cry surpasses the cheering fans on the television.

Daddy’s stubby legs work quickly toward the front door, but not before his eyes glance my way. My fright meets his shame. It’s the first time I realize my father has had to live with the stress of his father.

Perhaps he recognizes the fear in my young eyes—fear for him, fear of him. He knows I am too young to see the cycle being created; he is not. No child of his will ever be enough to end his sadness, because the bat—along with his pride, insecurity, inferiority—still lies in my grandfather’s grip.

The Cowboys make another touchdown. Aunt Cathy and Mommom return to the kitchen and try to hold back their angry tears. I follow them into the kitchen, hoping I can do something. Poppop remains quiet and alone in his room. Time passes and I smile, nervous, learning to hold back my pain and remain quiet, the way I think I am supposed to.

Poppop soon enters sullenly, hoping to go unnoticed. He is wearing a blue-pocket t-shirt he wears every day and a Kettle Creek ball cap. We all do our best to maintain our conversation, until the phone rings. It’s Daddy, asking for my mom. She excuses herself hurriedly and I watch Poppop’s eyes run to the cold, still coffee in his emptying, aged mug.

For lack of understanding, I learn to forgive too soon, to keep quiet.


December 2005. My life is intact. Twenty-two years old and on my way out of my hometown. Pennsylvania’s gray skies will only bring me down for another three weeks and then I am gone—Arizona, college. I spend my days doing inside sales for a steel company and my nights with family and friends. My life on the east coast is busy; time left is important and fading.

I am on my way out the door when the phone rings. I wonder whether I should answer, but I pick up anyway, “Hello?”

A soft familiar voice answers, “Is Jill available?” Ben. I’d know that voice any day.

Ben and I met in middle school but we haven’t spoken much in years.
We catch up briefly. He lives in Hungary now, and is only visiting the area for a few weeks. He has called and left messages before over the years, but I never called him back. I always had this uncertain feeling about him and never felt like exploring it. We are both leaving in a few weeks, so I figure, why not? Tuesday night, we will meet up for dinner.

Village on Main is the newest mini mall along the forty-mile strip of mini malls on Route 30. There are only eight days left to shop and the parking lot is a fucking mess. I search for Ben while dodging the rushing drivers and nonchalant pedestrians. I spot him, cloaked in an ankle-length, black-button wool jacket, black leather cap and poised posture. I quickly park in a handicapped parking space, turn on my blinkers and run out. “Hey, Ben.”

He walks toward me with a small smile. “Hi, Jill. It’s good to see you again.”

“You, too, Ben.” I hug him uneasily.

We fall skeptically in love that evening, telling each other of our accomplishments over the past few years and our plans for the near future, weaving in our shared passion for books and history. Neither of us makes a move until two days later when we are watching a movie at my mother’s house. After our first kiss, snuggled on the couch, he tells me about his girlfriend.

The next two weeks go by quickly; we spend as much time together as we can before we leave. Lovemaking, sullen tears of the anticipated future, dinner with my family. Watching movies, reading to each other, keeping people up at the Comfort Inn. He makes me a special dinner for New Year’s Eve under the suspicious eyes of his parents. The day before we leave is traumatic. We sit in his room; I sob, skeptical of seeing him again.

Ben and I keep in touch through love letters and 500-dollar phone bills over the next few months. He breaks up with his girlfriend and invites me to Maine for his family reunion. It’s the only vacation he will have back in the States. Throughout these months he and his ex have moved to another city in Hungary together because they found better jobs, the hitch being that the new job bought an apartment for them. We argue. I don’t talk to him for a while, and then decide that if we are going to make this work, I need to show that I trust him, even if he is living with his ex-girlfriend of three years. When we don’t talk, he sleeps with her.

We meet in Pennsylvania. Cry, make love, argue, forgive, find a way. Maine is beautifully awkward. His grandfather mistakes me for Ben’s ex. I bake with his cousins, play with his nephew, cry on the dock alone. He is here, but I miss him. He returns to Hungary and I bawl for three days, then decide to max out my credit card on a ticket to Budapest. He is as shocked as I am, but we are both glad to see each other. I speak with his ex on the phone before I purchase my ticket. She is reassuring, offering her ear; she knows how much of a recluse Ben can be. I thank her, trying to be optimistic for the coming doom. Ticket booked.

The apartment is nice and too small for the tension the three of us hold. I try to befriend Alicia; she tries to hang out with us too much, oversteps her boundaries; Ben and I leave the next morning for ten days of travel. We return. She and I respectfully hate each other. Ben takes me to the airport. We cry between kisses; I leave.

I break up with him a week after returning to the U.S. He has gone back on his word about coming to see me, about moving back to the States.

I call him when my grandmother dies and he says, “I feel like you want something more from me.” I hang up the phone and we never speak again.


November 1990. Daddy has had a few beers and is giggly. He decides to let his four daughters put makeup on him and dress him up like a woman. We have a wig left over from a Halloween costume. It is blond and long, making his dark mustache more noticeable. Julie paints his fingernails carefully as Jenny and I put blush on his cheeks. He is speaking to Janel in a high-pitched voice, trying to sound like a woman. We all laugh and try to make him walk to our neighbor’s house; he declines in his crackly best woman’s voice, “No, honey, I don’t think so,” sounding like an adolescent boy going through puberty.


Fifth grade: insecurities, adolescence. My father was recently arrested for cocaine possession and my peers have no problem mentioning that they heard all about it on the radio. I begin to fake being sick, so I don’t have to go to school. I can’t figure out what I am most embarrassed about: the fact that my father is the hot topic of conversation in my town or that I still love him. I am too young to understand the difference between love, pride, and embarrassment.

One day I stay home from school and watch TV all day, anticipating a date with Daddy. He is taking me hunting. He comes home early and gets his hunting gear ready. Mom says I’m not allowed to go because I stayed home from school. Daddy pulls through and we leave for the wilderness.

Duck hunting. He parks his Bronco off in the brush and I can’t help but notice the bright “NO TRESPASSING” signs posted on every tree. He leads me up a steep hill that plateaus on the edge of a quarry. The geese squawk above us, flying away. Daddy takes out his bird caller. They flock above us as I make the call and Daddy aims his gun. The shots ring alarmingly and I cover my ears after I make the call.

I beg him to let me shoot, but he insists that my job as the bird caller is crucial. We stay for an hour with no luck, just as the sun slowly descends into darkness and the sharp scent of gunpowder disintegrates in the frigid air. When daylight becomes a thin line across the horizon, we make our way back to the Bronco.

He takes me to McDonald’s afterward for dinner. We sit on the stools with our faces peering out the window and our backs to the restaurant. I can’t help but look around. This is the first time I’ve been alone with Daddy in public since his arrest. I turn my head every so often, pretending I have a crick in my neck. By the time I finally begin to enjoy the greasy, chicken-like nuggets sliding down my throat and the alone time with Daddy, I hear familiar voices: the most popular girls in school. They call my name and I pretend not to hear. They call again, and I turn and wave. I am not sure if I am more afraid they will tell on me for ditching school or that their mothers will tell them that they shouldn’t play with me because my dad does drugs.

On the way home we stop at a convenience store and he tells me to wait in the car. A cop car pulls in next to Daddy’s truck. I sit nervously and try to ignore the fact that the cop is watching Daddy closely in the store. When Daddy comes back outside, the police officer shines a flashlight inside our truck. I look at the police officer and back at my father. My father smiles and waves at the cop. A genuine smile, mixed with fear and resentment. He climbs into the Bronco and delicately buckles his seat belt. When we pull out of the parking lot, he sighs, “Why can’t they just leave me alone in this town” I reach for his hand because the words are stuck in my throat.


New Years Eve, 2002, nineteen years old. I show up at my friend Carolyn’s house for the evening’s festivities. I enter the mass of people searching for Carolyn. Everyone has red plastic cups full of Newcastle. I grab a cup and fill it with water. Alcohol only intoxicates my anxiety and I am not sleeping here tonight.

East Coast temporary hippies disperse through the rickety house and meander over the frosted dead earth towards the bonfire. “Don’t harsh my mellow” kind of hippies, who unfortunately cannot escape their longing for excitement and fast-paced things. So they overcompensate with weed, alcohol and falsely advertised, laid-back attitudes.

Winter in eastern Pennsylvania is always frigid and ruthless. I wander from one meaningless conversation to the next, lighting cigarette after cigarette. Vicki, a steadfast example of an East Coast temporary hippie, stands in front of me as I lean on the porch. She is talking to a group of people. We laugh and smile when we’re supposed to.

Satiated lips part to ask my name. No jacket, but a woolly sweater drapes his full torso. Hazel intuitive eyes peer beneath the brim of his winter cap.

“Jill,” I say.

Bryan.

The night happens around us as we sit in a hallway, falling—people stumbling up and down the stairs, passing through, passing out. Four a.m. and we are in his car making our way to the West Chester Diner. He tells me about a French Film, Fortuneteller. He is in love with the lead actress.

The story goes like this: A woman goes to a fortuneteller. The fortuneteller explains that the seeker will find her soul mate on a certain day. The woman meets her mate, as she is told. They share the same birthday, so they have the same fortune: each other.

The smoking section is filled with drunken stragglers and the colorful laughter of Judy, the night shift waitress. She is wearing a 2002 tiara, joyfully serving a group of happy drunks ready to start a new year that won’t include trips to diners at four in the morning. There is a haze in the drab atmosphere; perhaps it’s from Judy’s smile. Her kindness creates buoyancy in the restaurant. I am electric in my happiness.

“We have a pretty great connection, huh, Jill?” Bryan asks.

“Yeah, I think so. We haven’t breathed except to speak for hours,” I bite my lip while I blush.

“Look, Jill, I can tell you like me. I like you, too—but I still have feelings for another girl,” he confesses.

“You’re cute, but not that cute,” I say. Our conversations continue over sticky lips, French toast and strawberries. The tension ebbs and flows with our exchange of stories. The breaking dawn streaks the Maxfield Parrish sky. The horizon pinks and we return to Carolyn’s.

I am sucked in by his every word. Sitting on the porch alone with my journal, I revel in the evening. The door opens, “Hey, do you want to go on a road trip?” Bryan asks.

“What?”

“Some guy passed out and his friends left him here. I’m going to drive him to Media.”

“No,” I say. “I think I’ll try to get some sleep. Thanks, though.” I smile.

“That’s a nice journal. Where’d you get it?”

“Carolyn got it for me for my birthday.”

“When’s your birthday?”

“October third.”

“That’s my birthday,” he says.

We stare at each other.

“Shut the fuck up.”

“I swear to God and I never swear to God. October 3rd, 1983.” We remain motionless, looking at each other. The door opens.

We scribble our numbers on ripped pages from my journal—such an impersonal, polite gesture. On a night like this, who needs phone numbers? We are bound to see each other again.

Bryan never calls, but shows up at the bookstore where I work a few days later. Points. We hang out often, talking about spirituality, philosophy, writing and life. He leaves after two weeks to return to college. We talk on the phone four hours at a time; Bryan is the only person who has made me literally weak in the knees. He comes home for spring break and we’re awkward. Still no kiss, he leaves. A few days later I get a letter from him, with a hundred dollars inside. It is a gift; he wants me to use the money towards the upright bass lessons I wanted. I cry and call him, he shrugs it off, afraid to admit to the depth of his gesture.

The phone calls become less frequent and he returns home for the summer. I decide it is time for me to tell him how if I feel. He says he doesn’t feel the same way, kisses me and stops returning my phone calls. I call him a few weeks later; he is in California. He apologizes for not talking to me and tells me he just needed to find closure with his ex-girlfriend before he could start a new relationship; basically, telling me he has feelings for me without saying it directly. He will call me when he gets home.

He doesn’t call until the night before I move to Connecticut, weeks later. He comes over and tries to give me material things, like a plane ticket and a boom box. I am hesitant. Bryan, I don’t want these things. I want you. He confesses to kissing another girl, explains that it didn’t mean anything. I tell him I don’t want to talk about it and he is taken aback; I tell him it is late and I have to go to bed.

When I am settling in Connecticut, he calls me to ask if I want to participate in an assignment he has for his poetry class. He writes a poem on a postcard and when I retrieve it I send him one back; it’s for the entire semester. Sure. He sends me the first one and it is a love poem, not about me. I write him a scathing poem back, but call him before I send it. We argue; I talk too much, he too little. The end of the conversation is soft, but bitter. I send the poem the next day.

He calls me at work months later, when I am back in Pennsylvania. I do not take the call.


December 1992. I am nine years old; Julie, fifteen; Jenny, twelve; and Janel, five. It is after midnight and they have been fighting since dinner. The dishes lay caked on the kitchen counter; my sisters and I left the table once we knew it wasn’t going to stop anytime soon. Wrapped in blankets, we sit on the stairs listening, because the distant echoes from our bedroom are more frightening than hearing the details. The arguing stops and Daddy walks down the hallway. It is too late for us to reach our bedrooms without being heard. We remain seated, gritting our teeth in anticipation of his response.

“Go to bed, girls. It’s too late for you to be up.”

We begin our ascent. I look back and see Julie and Mommy whispering.

“Mom, I didn’t know what else to do. I called a half hour ago. They will be here any minute,” Julie whimpers in fear.

“It’s okay, Julie. I’ll tell him. Go to bed, honey.” My mother’s face wrinkles with worry, yet gratitude for Julie’s concern.

“I’m not going upstairs until they are here.”

The front door opens and Aunt Cathy and Uncle Jack walk in.

“Where is he?”

“In the kitchen,” my mother responds.

They head towards the kitchen; Julie and Mommy follow.

I watch them disappear through the railings of the banister and go to my bedroom. Jenny returns to her bedroom, alone, shutting the door behind her. The yelling begins again. They move to the basement. The shouts are muffled but ferocious. There is a loud bang. My little sister, Janel wakes up crying. I climb down from my bunk bed, turn on the light and sit beside her. She says nothing, only cries with her eyes jammed shut. I know she heard it, but pretend she awoke from a bad dream. I cradle her, hush her. “It’s okay, Janelly, shhshhhshh. Just a bad dream. Shhhshhhshhh. Just a dream.” My whispers are rhythmic and my own tears slide onto her face. I wish this were a dream. She will wake tomorrow remembering nothing; no one will remind her.

Time passes and I hear Julie and Mommy walk Aunt Cathy and Uncle Jack to the door. The stairs creak and it is too late for me to turn out my light unnoticed. Luckily, it is only Julie. “Aww, Jilly, you still up?” Her eyes are raw and lined with sadness. “You want to sleep with me tonight?”

I gently pull the covers back so as not to disturb Janel, turn out the light, and follow Julie to her room. In her bed, she starts crying, “Julie…” My voice trails. She sucks in air.

“Jill, if I tell you something, you have to promise you won’t say anything. Not to anyone, okay?”

“I promise.”

She tries to gain composure. “Daddy tried to shoot himself tonight.” The sobs begin again. “If it wasn’t for Uncle Jack,” the tremble in her voice quiets, “he would have died.”

I rub her arm and cannot help asking questions. “What do you mean if it wasn’t for Uncle Jack?”

Julie cries harder. All I can comprehend is that my father had a gun to his head, safety off, finger on trigger and my uncle pushed the gun away just in time to save his life. Mommy, Julie, Aunt Cathy were all there, witnesses. My mind is thick with visions of the scene, and I lose the ability to comfort Julie or myself.

“Can we turn out the light, Julie?”


March 31st, 1996. My father hangs himself in the basement of our home; he is thirty-eight years old. I am twelve. Luckily I am not home. Had I been, I would’ve been awoken by Julie’s screams. I have spent the night at my Uncle Mike and Aunt Joanne’s house, babysitting my two cousins. After a long day of being carted around from place to place with the nauseating notion that something was wrong, I am finally reunited with my mother and three sisters at my maternal grandparents’ house. My mother cries in my aunt’s arms as she tells me, “Daddy died last night.” My face warm under the concentrated stare of my sisters, I sit silently. My mother reminds me that it’s okay to cry. Still I sit mute. Now is not the time for details, so I ask if I can be excused.

The next days happen in a blur. I keep to myself, hiding behind the closed door of my grandparents’ guest bedroom, listening to a piano piece on the new Smashing Pumpkins album. My Uncle Stan comes in once to check on me. He comments on the music and struggles to find a way to reach me.

“Is there anything you want to talk about, Jill? I know your father and I didn’t get along, but that doesn’t mean anything. If you want to talk, I’m here.”

I am silent. “Just know that I am here, okay?”

I can’t wrap my head around any of it. Yesterday, I was looking at my father in his Carhartt attire, short legs and graying hair. Now, I am looking at my uncle telling me that he is there to listen, but all I really hear is that my father is gone.

As the funeral approaches, my family continually asks me if I have written anything. The thought has never crossed my mind, but about an hour before we leave for the funeral home I sit alone and write. I read it to my sisters and mother before we leave.

You lay so still, so quiet in your blue soft bed which is fit for a king and you are a king.
The king of hearts.
The king who tried so hard to comfort everybody.
The king who gave and expected nothing in return except a hug and a soft sweet kiss.
The king of hearts. Our king of hearts.

I don’t read it at the funeral, but I do finally cry.

A few days later Jenny and I sit watching The Price Is Right, a favorite pastime at my grandparents’ house. My mother walks in with something in her hand. “I thought you might want this, Jill. It was in Daddy’s wallet.” She hands me a playing card: it’s a wrinkled and bent King of Hearts.

I stare at her almost long enough for one of the buds on the tree hovering over the window to bloom. “What’s wrong, Jilly? I thought you might want it.”

“You got this from Daddy’s wallet? When?”

“I just found it going through some of his stuff. I thought you might want it back.”

“Mom, I’ve never seen that card before. I didn’t give it to Daddy.”

The three of us remain motionless, trying to grasp this moment. I look at Jenny and her mouth is gaping and eyes watering. I take the card and leave the room.


January 1997. My mother makes a settlement on our old house and we move out of the borough, out of our home. I am thirteen and have just begun junior high school. Our new home is on the same small cul-de-sac as my current crush’s, Chris. Through afternoons of getting high while our parents are at work, we become better friends. We do everything together. Summer comes and we finally hook up, even though I have a boyfriend, even though we have been drinking and smoking all night. We don’t talk about it for a while, and a few weeks later we are sitting alone on his parents’ bed watching television. We inch our way closer to each other until we are cuddling and no longer staring at the TV. He asks if I want to play; saying nothing, I kiss him. He goes down on me, I come.

Chris and I date over the summer, experimenting with drugs, alcohol and each others’ bodies. It is playful. He breaks up with me in the fall when he starts high school. We remain friends and begin a cycle. He dates other girls, doesn’t speak to me and then calls me the minute they break up and we fool around. It gets dirty and disrespectful.

On two occasions he puts his dick in me, but doesn’t move. We just lay there, him on top of me, inside me. My friends tell me that it isn’t “real” sex because he doesn’t move in and out; he just sits there. The first time he pulls out and comes all over my stomach; I lay still and ask him for a towel. He throws it at me and turns his head as if he is ashamed to watch me clean up the mess. The second time he puts his long shirt over his cock, as if it is adequate protection, and comes inside of me. I ask him if he wants to borrow a shirt; he zips up his jacket and says he’ll be fine as he walks out the door. He never asks if it’s okay; I never tell him to stop. I am not sure if I want him to.

I wonder if I am still a virgin.

I am obsessed with him and will do anything he wants and he knows it. I get depressed and he gets more addicted to drugs. I have to go to a special school where kids like me who are grieving get together for group therapy all day, with one hour of academics. Chris goes to rehab. During this time, I go to my regular therapist twice a week. I finally realize that I am angry. I am angry at Chris for how much he hurts me; I am angry at my father for leaving.

It takes me years of fixating on the sound of Chris’ car driving past my house and placing my hate on his girlfriends to figure out that my relationship with him was my trying to make up for the time lost with my father. I saw him as my father: a handsome, insecure drug addict. I made myself my mother, afraid to pack up and leave, afraid to stay. I built Chris up like I built up my father, only to realize that they both let me down. Chris was the only one around for me to blame. This is more fucked up than I realize. I think about the time in the beginning of our friendship, when he held my arm and punched it repeatedly. It was funny at first, playful, but then he didn’t stop and I had a bruise from my shoulder to my elbow. I’ll never forget how confused I felt. Why did I let him do that?

We finally stop fooling around. Years go by before I let anyone else touch me. Years go by before Chris and I learn from these experiences, grow up and become real friends.


April 2008. Jason hasn’t spoken to me for two weeks. He hasn’t checked in on me, knowing that I have bronchitis. He doesn’t even know that just a few days ago was the twelve-year anniversary of my father’s death. The biggest anniversary for me, knowing that at twenty-four I have lived half of my life without my father; from here on out, each year I have lived my life more without my father than I have with him. Jason doesn’t like to talk about these things. He especially would like not to be bothered while watching TV.

When he finally calls, I ask if he has anything to say and he says no. He doesn’t even apologize until I inform him he hasn’t. I play nice, while standing my ground, letting him know he hurt me, but waiting for him to tell me that he still wants to be with me. By the end of the conversation we are both crying. I ask if this is what he really wants and he says he has to go. I hang up the phone and begin to hyperventilate. If he had called me back over the next few days, I would have tried to make things work. I’m glad he didn’t call.

My sisters and I all seek out certain vices in men: physically abusive, controlling, jealous, disrespectful, addicted: unavailable. This is what we know love to be: a constant struggle with a few saving graces here and there, a few late-night sundaes.

I relate to my mother much more than my sisters. Since my father passed away, she hasn’t dated much. There were a few guys, but it never seemed to work out. She used to tell us that she didn’t want anyone else to raise her kids and now that we are all grown, I haven’t heard her say much about it. She would rather be on her own. I used to join in with my sisters, hounding her about dating, but now it seems strange to me to hold on to such fantastical ideas about relationships—especially since a friend of mine pointed out that The King of Hearts is the suicide king and my cousin informed me that The Fortuneteller was a film about a psychotic obsession. These dreams about love aren’t even nice dreams; the truth behind them turns it all into nightmares. The King of Hearts is a dying dream.

These days I keep to myself; I get it.

About the Author


Jillian Fragale

Prescott College

Jillian M. Fragale graduated from Prescott College in 2009 with a dual degree in creative writing and gender and sexuality studies. Since her return to the East Coast, Jillian has worked as a landscaper, home care assistant, and secretary, while volunteering as a fiction editor for First Step Press. Currently, she is working on a new fiction piece and applying to residencies.