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Ardsley High School Volume 37

“Bag & Apple” Lizzie Brennan Oil Pastel

Dear Readers,

Why don’t Americans have British accents? a. They talked a lot with the natives b. The weather confused them c. They didn’t want them d. All of the above

After hours of working on the 2009 issue of the Criterion, this is the point we reach. Once the track team leaves, and the school becomes eerily silent, and the sun dips past the windows of the Mac lab, this is just one example of the delirium that sifts through the club members. As we sit typing and discussing pieces and art with someone’s iPod on shuffle, some word will grab our attention, start a google search, cause the search menu to drop down and the question “Why don’t Americans have British accents?” to incite a fifteen minute laughing fit. It’s the bizarre moments like these that make our club so unique and intimate. It’s these moments of hilarium and delirium that inspire, motivate and fuel us to keep reviewing, editing and formatting. Our goal for the magazine is to expose the talents and emotions of students that become lost in daily spoken language. Literature and art have the ability to reveal novel perspectives. Thus, we aim to showcase these forgotten components to not only the school, but also the community through this issue. It would be impossible to “classify” or “define” our eclectic magazine. It is filled with too many unique, disparate and contradicting ideas and emotions to ever encompass one word in the English language. If the club was ever assigned the task to discover that one word, many bouts of delirium, hysteria, cartwheels and brownies later would lead us to conclude that the only way to describe us is the Criterion, and that reading this issue is the best way to understand us.

I hope you enjoy our magazine!

Sincerely, Eesha Dave Editor-in-Chief

Criterion Staff Editor-in-Chief:

Eesha Dave

Patrick Tekula Samantha Gordon Becca Bohrer

Elana Schlossberg Maria Palij Alex Brinas

Francesca Rodriguez Lily Qin Ali Roberts Grace Kim

Mr. Baird

Mrs. Rosen Dr. Haubner Aldan Press

Managing Editors: Designers: Editors:


Special Thanks to:


The Criterion is the literary and art magazine of Ardsley High School in Ardsley, NY. It is published annually with a press run of 300 copies of 40 pages. This year’s magazine was typeset on a Mac using InDesign CS3 in Futura and Tw Cen MT fonts. Our printer is Aldan Press, under the guidance of Dan Mazzara and Sean Wilson.


Table of Contents Fiction

Death by the River, by Valerie Granzo..............................................................7 Dystopia, by Lianne Neiger..................................................................................10 Expression, by Dominque Cheung.....................................................................12 A Helping Hand, by Lily Qin............................................................................13 Willow, by Patrick Tekula...................................................................................20 Frozen Time, by Yuriko Nakatani...................................................................32 Invisible, by Lianne Neiger...................................................................................35


Holding On, by Lizzie Brennan...................................................................................4 The Five Year Old, by Stephanie Wank...................................................................5 Halfway Home, by Lizzie Brennan...........................................................................15 My Spark, by Daniel J. Pericic..................................................................................17 The Day & the Life of a Chinese Grandmother, by Lily Qin...............................21 My Currency, by Eesha Dave....................................................................................27 Memoir, by Sydney Frankel.......................................................................................29 My Frog for Christmas, by Annie Sourbis................................................................30 Pizza, Pasta and Jackals, by Daniel Davidson......................................................34 At Twilight, By Nara Sandberg................................................................................36


We Know, by Zach Grant.....................................................................................3 Prescription: Life (Funny Business for Grown-ups), by Stevie Camal............9 Confined in the Dungeons of the Mind, by Lauren Soares...........................14 Time, by Samantha Gordon...............................................................................16 LIVE, by Kate Montgomery.................................................................................22 Streetlight Wanderers, by Gabe Alvarez.......................................................24 Rip Open the Seams, by Julia Brady................................................................25 Why to Try Not to Die, by Ben Barber.............................................................28 The Mail, by Max Brivic.......................................................................................31 Dust & Bone, by Joey Farber..............................................................................33


“Revulsion”, by Nick Ozemba......................Front Cover “Guitar”, by Hugo Jenab............................................17 “Bag & Apple”, by Lizzie Brennan..Inside Front Cover “Flash”, by Huascar Torales Acosta...........................18 “Woman Tree”, by Hugo Jenab.................................20 “People”, by Huascar Torales Acosta...........................3 “The Chair”, by Hugo Jenab.......................................21 “Fish”, by Huascar Torales Acosta.................................4 “Swinging Girl”, by Lizzie Brennan..............................5 “You Spin Me Right Round”, by Jacey Nacarella...24 “Bowie”, by Stevie Camal..............................................6 “Firelady”, by Huascar.................................................25 “Fine”, by Shayna Shah..................................................8 “Girl in Red Dress”, by Carly Silver..........................26 “Squid”, by Hugo Jenab...............................................11 “Stool in Light”, by Hugo Jenab.................................28 “Dawn”, by Sara Cha...................................................12 “Eerie”, by Alex Brinas................................................30 “Carly”, by Huascar Torales Acosta...........................13 “The Failed Hero”, by Nara Sandberg....................31 “Bedroom View”, by Hugo Jenab...............................14 “Skull”, by Huascar.......................................................33 “Girl Smoking”, by Amanda Aiese.............................15 “Still Life”, by Carly Silver..........................................34 “Clock & Violin”, by Haley Fine..................................16 “Effulgence”, by Alex Brinas......................Third Cover 2

“People” Huascar Oil Pastel

We Know

Zach Grant They call us the wanderers, just looking for some motivation. Looking for something to feed off of, to be inspired by This time, and not just another pointless recitation. We’ll be somewhere in the streets, living off of danger. They say ‘what the hell are you supposed to be?’ And we smile and reply, we are nothing but strangers. But we meander on, finding the joy in all this destruction. We’re protected through community, and discover new Ways to be free, with little hesitation or obstruction. The odd glances we receive serve to make us proud. We’re not vain, nor rude, but these stares are our Recognition; we have no issues with being loud. They say there will always be a price to pay, some form of cost. But the road we travel will never end, its blood will never come to rest; for not all those who wander are necessarily lost. 3

“Fish” Huascar Oil Pastel

Holding On

Lizzie Brennan As the elevator dribbled through the shaft I peered up at the window as the numbers slowly went down. We finally reached the first floor and the anticipation to escape the scent of moth balls had almost ceased. The elevator door slid open and I tried to push the outside door but my grandfather helped as always. I marched through the lobby and pretended to fix my already fixed up hair, then waited at the door so Grandfather could open it, for the handle was over my head. As we proceeded down the stairs, the landlord stopped us to admire how much I had grown. I watched nicely and flashed a practiced smile. The bread in the bag was clamming up my hand, and was instantly going stale. We started up the block, hand in hand, strolling up the hill and being very careful not to step on any cracks– “don’t want to break mommy’s back.” We neared the curb, stopped, looked both ways, and only when the “go” light flashed; did I proceed. A couple of blocks later, we crossed Yonkers Avenue, and upon reaching the other side, I stuck out my hand to follow the giant stone wall to the entrance. We walked the paths of Mount St. Vincent until, after miles of walking, we reached the bridge. I ran ahead to peer over the edge, and stared down, in awe at the giant orange scaled fishes. These fish were the largest I’d ever seen, at least three feet long. I pulled out the first piece of bread and started to tear it down the middle. “Here, Papa.” He un-nested his hand, from within his pocket and stretched it out, and cringed at the cold, so it was now at my eye level. I gave him half of my slice. He began breaking off pieces and tossing them far into the water. The water rippled as the fish jumped, racing to the food that only one could receive. Toes balanced against the ledge, I stared down into the water as I released a small crumb. A swift shift of the golden spotted glare rushed towards my hand. I could see it’s unforgiving smile as it floated for a moment beneath me before I tossed in another piece, and it scuttled away. I was soon distracted by my shimmering face, mystically still above the rippling water. My head extended as my grandfather stepped up. Smiling, he dropped in the last piece. I stood in silence as the celestial creatures broke through the reflective seal, forever embracing the eternal life


The Five Year Old Stephanie Wank

I sat down in an empty seat. A young girl plopped into a chair beside me. She was wearing bright pink leggings and she looked up at me. Abruptly, she turned her head and dazed into the direction of the bima where she admired the designs on the ark. All too quickly, she became uninterested. “Hi,” she said. “I have a loose tooth.” “Oh really,” I said back to her looking at the loose tooth she now had her fingers on. Wiggling it back and forth, I noticed another one was missing next to it. “How much money are you going to get for this tooth?” I asked. “Ummmm,” she paused. “Two dollars.” “Wow, that’s a lot of money.” She knew that services were about to begin when the Rabbi gently stroked the strings of his guitar. At only five years old, the kids in the temple were wide awake at 9:30 and ready to learn. They immediately quieted down and began to sing along. In between songs, the young girl, whose name I later found out was Gabi, confronted me again. “My grandpa just died,” she whispered. “I’m so sorry to hear that.” She gazed at me for a minute; I looked back at her. I felt like I should say more, but I wondered what she was thinking. Did she really understand what it meant for her Grandpa to die? Was she ever close with him? Wisps of black hair covered her face in random streaks; she brushed them away. She then resumed looking at the Rabbi and began mumbling the words to the Hebrew songs. The Rabbi had made a short speech to the kids about the seasons changing, and without asking her, Gabi told me that her favorite season was winter. After services, she got up, and obediently got into line with the rest of the students. She grasped onto my hand and we walked into the next room for song time. Clapping her hands jovially in music class, she looked at me to join into song with her. When it was time for snack, she became wide eyed at the display of cookies.

“Swinging Girl” Lizzie Brennan Graphite

“Can I have one?” she asked with engaging blue eyes. I noticed her slyly hide her current cookie and politely ask for another one. “I see that missy,” I exclaimed to her. “You think you are so sneaky.” She quickly gobbled it up and asked for yet another one. As the teacher read the kids a story, Gabi was enchanted by the vibrant pictures running across the pages. She was intrigued with the simplicity of characters like Elmo, and Ernie. Later on, the kids were allowed to go onto the swings. Gabi sprinted out to her favorite one, grabbed it and asked for a push. While the other kids played in groups. Gabi sat on the swing completely satisfied, and she sang a song to herself. She stopped for a brief second and asked me how old I was. I told her and she replied that she was five. “I can’t wait until I’m sixteen,” she said with glee. “I wish I was still five.” 5

“Bowie” Stevie Camal Tempera Paint


Death at the River Valerie Granzo Death walked along the edge of a slow-moving river, whistling and thumping a wooden stick rhythmically as he went along. He paused as he neared a clearing in the wood, and looked into the translucent water. He crouched to his knees, and plunged his bony fingers through the smooth surface into the too-cold currents below. When the hand resurfaced, it was cupping pitcblack mud, and death returned to the clearing to deliver his treasure. From underneath the folds of a heavy cloak came an ivory knife, plain but sharp. Death sliced two diagonal lines into the mud, cuts which seemed to pierce through the earth itself. Death stood back and watched the spot as the mud began to bubble, slowly at first but gradually increasing in speed. The texture of the mud began to change, and it rose up, expanding rapidly and hardening as it grew. Mud turned to clay, and finally to an almost marble, ebony wood. Razor sharp leaves sprouted at the tips, and bloody poison berries blossomed among the branches. At the end, a tree stood unnaturally tall, a misfit amongst all the other. Death looked critically at the tree, from roots to tip, craning his head to see every last leaf. His expression remained unchanged, and except for a slight curl of the lip, almost untraceable. He turned away resuming his steady hike alongside the river, whistling the beginnings of the flower duet.


“Fine” Shayna Shah Pen & Ink


Prescription: Life (Funny Business for Grown-ups) Stevie Camal

Remember when I said you were my friend Analyzing, memorizing that uprising trend Remember the world as it once was Lingering, fingering, through you—maybe it’s because What was real is now fake An imitation, proclamation you got to make You…you’re…you are ours Forever in the system Forgetting what you are missing, now listen When you start with your dissing Forgetting, regretting what and who you are kissing Lips to lips, he skips my lips This downward trend we got to mend It’s running through your mind ‘Cause you want to find What it is that makes us tick That fell for his trick, forget it Now stick it to us Just want you to do us Don’t make it all go away Please leave, no stay, stay I never thought you’d be the one to run; to hide But you’ve hid behind this mask and it’s obvious you lied You tried and I cried, I did ‘Cause now I’m having to fall back On this grown-up-too-fast kid and It’s becoming clear to see You’re choosing to pass up this opportunity “We’re worried about you,” they recite And try to get through to you with all their might But they can’t…isn’t that a shame? Wondering who in your life is to blame Help yourself if you’d even want to You’re only reminded about the fact that you can’t do You walk it out and talk it out then Forget about it all, fly high like birds when You shut up your thoughts and spit words like men You take a downer ‘cause they’re feeding you across the counter Now eat up.



Lianne Neiger The little boy ran, his large shoes hitting the concrete with sharp, angry sounds. He was told by his mother that they were a promise for the future—that he’d grow up to be a strong, tall man, like his father. But at that moment, as a short youth, he was running too fast. His feet were stinging as if they had been burnt, and his heart was beating so fast that he could hear the rhythm without trying. He could feel the blood rushing to his face and the sweat gathering on his dark forehead. Strangers stared at him as he passed. He paid them no thought, simply focused on his destination, but their eyes followed the boy with awkwardly long limbs. They shook their heads, baffled by the energy of adolescence. For him, though, only one thing mattered. In a few moments, the little boy would be a part of something big. Maybe when he sat at the dining-room table that Friday near all of his older cousins, he’d contribute to the conversation. Perhaps he’d impress them with news about the famous painting that arrived at their tiny local museum. A painting done by some famous man…only what was his name? Didn’t it start with an “f”? No, a “b”. And it ended with a “lini” or something like that. Oh, well. Whoever he was, the little boy knew he must have been important, as every time an adult said his name, he’d make a sort of flourish with his hand. It was this certain twist of the wrist that assured the little boy that this painter was a “big deal”. He continued his way down the street, only skipping now. Foot after foot, step after step. His father taught him to chant this as he walked, because he had the tendency to trip. As he obeyed the inner instructions, he listened to the crunching of the autumn leaves beneath the soles of his sneakers. He noticed they were getting a bit worn, with torn edges and dirty laces. The laces were untied—something his mother often scolded him for. But she worried too much; he could handle himself. As the thought ran through his head, the little boy miscalculated a step forward. The tip of his left shoe connected with the heel of his right, and the boy was about to have a too-close encounter with the ground. Thankfully, he caught himself at the last minute on a nearby rope. But why was there a rope in the middle of the street? When the little boy looked up, he wished he hadn’t. A frowning face glared down at him, with eyes straying pointedly to the little boy’s hand clutching his suit pants. The little boy muttered his apologies to the old man and hurried to regain his stance. Still, he was glad. The grumpy guy was the last one on the line, waiting to enter the museum. The little boy tilted his head to try to sneak a peak at those standing in front of him. They all appeared the same to him, with faces that were weary and anxious. Each time a person moved as much as a centimeter, those behind him closed that distance. They were the picture of condescension and impatience. Not that the little boy could blame them for the latter, of course. He himself was close to abandoning all of the manners his mother had taught him, and cutting


through. Something in him—perhaps honor—kept a leash on the immoral thought, though. He kept his place, and stayed silent. The wait was so long that, after a while, he began squirming. He fiddled with the longer strands of his hair, and traced the veins of leaves with his eyes. He named every ant he saw, and finally he found himself next in line to go in. The little boy was terribly excited. Every adult that came out of the small building was chatting with friends, with exhilarated looks on their faces. The painting must have been something truly special! With clammy hands, he handed his entrance ticket to the elderly woman behind the counter. She thanked him, and pointed to the door. He turned the knob quickly, hurried to get inside and view what had to be a masterpiece. He couldn’t wait to tell his mom all about it. She, after all, had given up her chance to see it by giving him her ticket. He had been hesitant about taking it, but she pushed until he consented. “I’m giving it to you so you’ll see the work of a true artist. You said you wanted to become a painter, didn’t you?” she asked. “Yeah, I did.” the little boy replied. “Then, good. After you see it, maybe you’ll give me more things to put on the refrigerator.” She had pointed at the small piece of paper kept on the fridge with a magnet. It was a sheet filled with colorful swirls. The little boy knew it was nothing fancy, but he really liked it while he was making it, and liked it still. He strode towards the loud noise of many people whispering, knowing it lead to the newest painting. When he got there, he was faced with a tricky situation. Surrounding the painting was a crowd of people, all huddled in front of it, only giving the little boy a slight glimpse of black frame. The little boy figured he had no choice, so he lowered himself to the floor and crawled through the spaces provided for him under the many grownups. He raised his chin happily with the knowledge that he had reached his goal. Yet something was wrong. On the large canvas, the boy couldn’t find anything. There were no colors; the plaster was completely white. There were no figures of animals, objects, or people. It was just a blank. The little boy turned around, and searched in the eyes of the adults standing around him, trying to find out if this was a joke. Nobody was laughing. They were all very serious, and—what’s more—some were even tapping their fingers on their chins in thought. The little boy could feel his stomach clench in disappointment. This was what he had run all the way for? This was what everybody was talking about? He looked at the small plastic square beneath the hateful “painting” and read the single word written on it. “Dystopia.” Muttering words that no little boy should ever mutter, he left the museum. He didn’t know the definition of that word, dystopia, but judging by the way he felt, it had to have been something absolutely horrendous.

“The Squid” Hugo Jenab Colored Pencil



Dominique Cheung “Like this?” I ask, trying to make the brush create smoother strokes. “No,” he laughs gently at my attempts that end up looking like haphazard dashes. His hand slides over mine, guiding my brush’s movements, helping me create the elusive strokes I could not accomplish alone. We’re sitting outside in a sea of easels. They dot the lawn, as the quiet murmuring and the scrape of brushes against canvases puncture the early morning air. The sun slowly sweeps across the lawn as I continue. My hand holds the smooth wooden brush handle as I try to transfer the image in my head onto the canvas. Eventually, his hand leaves mine—he knows no more of the picture in my head. The last details are mine alone. He lets the image flow solely from me, through the fine-haired brush onto the canvas. We stand there, watching the picture form. A bird lands on my spare brush that waits in a cup next to us. The small red-feathered being cocks its head, as if evaluating my piece. Staying only to watch some red added to the colors’ dance on my canvas, it chirps its approval before taking to the skies once more. The sun climbs higher and we both watch as the lines and strokes start to form a clearer picture. Small, subtle strokes crescendo to bolder, more confident ones. Colors harmonize to create the image that had long yearned to push from my mind onto a blank slate. With a gentle nudge and the expressive morning air, it had finally taken flight. The sun trickles through the leaves of the tree looming over us. The previously continuous rhythm of my hand finally slows. Ceases. We look at each other and the same smile lights up our face—full, all eyes—a peek into our matching souls.


“Dawn” Sara Cha Acryllic Paint

“Carly� Huascar Graphite

A Helping Hand Lily Qin

A hidden castle in her heart was lit by candles whose lights pulsed intimately. It was dark

and surrounded by the life of soulless trees. The mildew ground was damp as each second was swallowed by tears of fallen hope. She was paralyzed, unable, deceived and hurt. Suddenly, the sound of footsteps shuffled its way in front of her. A tissue swayed onto her lap. Confused but touched, she forced a look up and smiled.


Confined in the Dungeons of the Mind Lauren Soares A piercing scream in the darkness Can scare, and pull back the buried dreams of The heaviest of sleepers Penetrate the strongest of minds And even wake the sinners The curtain falls It blinds us, steals our happiness And feeds off of hope The poison begins to seep Marbles of chaos begin to hit the floor Conveniently slanted Each taken from an indestructible cabinet in our minds In which room is only made for loneliness, sorrow, terror and war Breathe in the fear Exhale the pain We are eventually torn out from under the curtain The poison no longer spreads We are lost in darkness, unless Found in the warmth of another Or the soothing sayings of our mother Manipulation of the mind A dungeon in one’s own body Slashes into the flesh of today And any day Will save us in the end

“Bedroom View” Hugo Jenab Charcol


Halfway Home

“Get up.” The girl grasped the tips of her friends’ hands Lizzie Brennan with her last two fingers, carefully balancing one her The tree looming over the bus stop had be- toes to prop herself up. The girls rounded the mausolegun to blossom, its large punk snow clouds and the um smoke still in hand and followed the narrow pavepatchy grass underneath finally filing in. Staring at ment uphill. When they reached the top, they walked the ground, watching the kicked up gravel bounce over to the first stone row, bowing down to the flag up ahead. Staring out into the west, a cliff cut through the from the rubber of her shoe, she dragged herself sailing sunset. The girl reached into her purse, taking around the corner only lifting her head courteout her Cowboy Killers and Arabian Nights incense. ously acknowledging the old lady sweating over Lacy took the box and lit the end of the stick with the the geraniums. No jacket, just the bag draped below her shoulder, and a lighter bulging from the flame of the girl’s lit smoke. She held the wooden end in her mouth as she reached into her pocket for a tight denim patch beneath her waist. The double small knife. The wind lifted her hair and the sun cast yellow lines pulled forward as they dragged out her toes, extending to the end of the block. Once bold shadows across her face. Lacy slid the blade passing the mirage covered hilltop, she could see across her fingertip as blood began to bead out over the metal edge. Slowly the lids fell over her pupils, her her friend strolling down the center of the road. eyes drifting back into her head. “Hey girl!” she waved excitedly. “I’ll beat you.” Her friend Lacy ran, getting a head start by sprinting downhill, almost flying with each step. The other girl had to sprint uphill, her legs burnt by the strain. She finally collapsed at the curb on the inside of the gate. She lay back, chest beating strong, now at rest, beginning to sweat. “Want one?” Lacy offered. The girl on the ground just stared back, pupils raised to a half crinkled forehead. Lacy redrew her hand but was stopped when the girl stooped up to grab something from her pocket. Feet planted, she sat again, this time sitting upright, leaning right against the ledge. Lacy held out the smoke in the palm of her hand, the girl taking it, putting the filter between lightly shaded lips. Cupping the end, she lit the paper, sucking up the blue fumes through the tube, “Told you I’d beat you.” The girl smirked. “Unfair fight.” “It’s okay, I know you love me.” Chin raised, the friend turned her head round to see if anyone was watching. Although safely guarded by the gate and bushes, you could hear the lives of others bustle from down the road…it was okay for now. “Thank God I got out of that house,” Lacy puffed out, staring straight out through the treetops. The wind pulled up in a gentle gust,.“What do you want to do?” Eyes closed, the girl replied. “Let’s go to the top.” She fought hard against the light coming back to the curb, sitting there, cigarette smoke tangled in her hair. Lacy grinned and popped up, “Girl Smoking” blocking the light off the girl’s face. Amanda Aiese Charcoal



Samantha Gordon A clock shatters in the presence of a hummingbird. A calendar shreds in the midst of chaos. Markers make age worthy, a kiss, a hug, and embrace, All relative. The hummingbird sees no ending or beginning eat, sleep, sing, no marker, no clock. 12 years, a year, a month, an hour evaporate with a lover, a friend Crash the clock breaks. Left in a world to fend for ourselves, time commits identity theft. Who are you? Who am i? The hummingbird knows.

“Clock and Violin� Haley Fine Graphite


My Spark

Daniel J. Pericic I am in love. I am an addict. And I am a married man. Music is my wife. She holds me, caresses me, entrances me, seduces me, tames me, riles me, and teaches me. I need her around me constantly to get me through the day, for she is the fuel on which I run. I could spend all day with her, just listening to her sonic masterpieces galloping throughout my ears. I sit, perched behind my drums or cradling a guitar, and I try to mimic her, try to reproduce her ethereal purr. Her melodies often elude me with their complexity and creativity, but this does not stop me from trying. I yearn for that power over noise that she wields; I feel as if it is just us two alone in a world full of stray sound. I remember when we first met. My friend introduced me to her one day at his house. From that very first day, I knew that there was something special about her; I knew that we would be together in some way. My friend took me upstairs to his room and sat me down. He started preparing something, and then, all of a sudden, I heard her voice. Her siren song overtook my body it filled my soul with an over whelming sense of ecstasy.

“Guitar” Hugo Jenab Colored Pencil

“Listen to that incredible riff,” my friend said with a knowing smile. I was speechless stunned by her otherworldly beauty. She was a goddess with no equal. I knew about Music before, but had never really cared for her all that much. She seemed fake, boring and unoriginal. However, this song, this gift, revealed to me who she truly was, and it graciously allowed me to glimpse at her epic splendor. Unfortunately, my joy was put on pause when I had to leave. Her voice was trapped in my head—her song haunting me wherever I went. I wanted her. She persuaded me to do something that I had always wanted to do – to learn how to play drums. And because of her, I came to recognize my particular lust for acoustics. To be deaf would be to be dead. Whenever I hungered for sound, I would call up my band and tell them to bring their munitions for our own maelstrom. We played together, unleashing a fusillade sound, and we rocked together, basking in our little oasis of noise. More than thought we became brothers – a group fused together by our shared need for Music. We would look at each other, and we would see that fire burning within us all, that flame that cannot be doused, that buns solely for Music. And whenever I spend time with Music, I always try to temper our fiery relationship. We sing together. Sometimes I know the words and sometimes I do not, but Music always knows. When we embark on our lyrical voyages, our voices merge and become the same – a single harmonious moan. We are a chorus of two, but our beings are one. Music is a strong woman. She has the power to move people, and she commands the respect of legions of musicians. I want to be able to do the same I will be the first to tell you that I am far from a musical maestro, yet I crave to achieve that immortality that one can only achieve though art. I want to listen to my creations and be moved by them. I want people to think about Music and her magnificence when they hear what my instrument has to say. I want people to associate my name with hers. I want to be able to put “Musician” under “Occupation.” I want all of these things – want them more than you can imagine – but I never want to stop playing.


“Flash” Huascar Oil Pastel


Patrick Tekula I have spent countless times on this bench in the past few weeks. I just sit here, in this park, waiting. Watching for her. A crisp October wind rushes through the park, causing me to shiver and wrap my pea coat around myself. They open sky above me grays and darkens, readying itself to drop a light rain, or snow, down on the earth. My eyes graze over the sloping terrain of the park before me, into the ice cool waters of a small duck pond at the center of this small world. The snap of a twig fills the quiet air, and I look up, only to be met with my angel’s figure standing a mere few feet away from me, under one of the large, ancient seeming Weeping Willows that borders the pond, with their large, dipped branches swaying in the crisp breezes, causing small ringlets to brake the mirror surface of the still waters. The girl crouches by the edge of the pond and brushes her small hand through her raven hair. Oh, her hair! I can’t tell you how much I love that hair! The way it runs, stick straight down her shoulders and almost seems to polarize her fair, milk white skin. She dips her tiny hand into the pocket of her pale trench coat and pulls a small piece of bread out. With a rare elegance, she places the bread into the pond. Her laugh trills out into the air as she watches a trio of small goslings rush for the crusty bread. God, I love her. In the past few times I’ve watched her, I have fallen harder and harder. In fact, in watching her from afar, I think it is the only way I can love her. I can love her for who she is, but also, I can mold her into what I want to love. Endearingly, I have come to name her Serena, because that is exactly what she is. She is equally graceful and fragile, but also, most importantly, serene. She brings to me a sense of calm that no one has ever been able to bring to me. Today, I have decided, is going to be different. After watching from afar for days, I have decided that it is about time that I make a move, lest I be forced to give her up completely. It’s too hard, you see, to have all this love inside, and not let it out. Not share it. No, no more! I can’t stand any more of this. Slowly, I rise from my bench—my safe haven, and make languid, cautious steps toward the oversized trunk of the Willow tree. “C-cute little fellows, aren’t they…” She turns to me and, with a small grin, she lights up my world. “Oh yes, I love coming here to see my babies,” she lets out a small breathy giggle at this. “I’m Bianca,” she states, easing my nerves by introducing herself, making the first move. “I’m Margaret.”

“Woman Tree” Hugo Jenab Colored Pencil


The Day and the Life of a Chinese Grandmother Lily Qin

Waking up at 6:30 sharp, Lin Ma steps off her bamboo covered mattress into her cold slippers. She brushes her teeth, washes her face and climbs up the basement stairs to the kitchen. As usual, the house is still quiet and as usual, she starts making breakfast. She knows her grandchildren, Samantha and Miranda, will only need a pop-tart as they run after the school bus, and her son and daughter-in-law will only need a cup of coffee as they leave for work. So, she starts the coffee machine and she lays out two pop-tarts onto two clean napkins. The sound of the alarms instantly goes off and a new day begins. As the grandchildren shuffle their way to the bathroom and her son and daughter-in-law get ready for work, she continues stirring her porridge so none will stick to the bottom of the pan. In thirty minutes, her grandchildren, her son, and daughter-in-law have left; the house is quiet again. Lin Ma picks up her bowl of porridge, chopsticks and an assortment of food dishes and places them onto the dining table. She pulls out the head chair, sits down and begins her traditional Chinese breakfast. After washing the dishes, Lin Ma does not know what to do. This is the dilemma that occurs every day because there is very little for her to do, or rather, that she can do. She has the house to herself and the only thing she can think to do is practice her Chinese calligraphy. She walks back down to the basement where she has set up her own little table. She takes out a piece of authentic rice paper, opens her jar of paint from China, lifts up her calligraphy brush and starts writing “family” in Chinese. Seven hours pass and Lin Ma has practiced her calligraphy, read a book given by a family friend, practiced her Tai Chi, and finished a Chinese soap opera.

It is now 2:30pm and the doorbell rings. She gets up from her chair to answer the door, already knowing that it’s just her grandchildren. She opens the door, Samantha and Miranda greet her out of respect, they run up-stairs, flinging their jackets over the staircase, and Lin Ma calls after them asking if they are hungry. The reply is always no, but she can’t help but ask. She picks up the jackets, hangs them in the closet and walks back to the TV. Five PM comes and Lin Ma starts preparing for dinner. She knows her daughterin-law will probably come home at 5:15pm and make dinner herself but Lin Ma just wants to help out. As usual, when her daughter-in-law comes home, she tells Lin Ma that she’ll start making dinner and that because she is getting old, Lin Ma should take a nap. Of course she steps away from the kitchen and walks down to her bedroom, but she’s not tired. A while later, Lin Ma is called up for dinner. She sits at the head of the table, ready to eat. Miranda turns on the kitchen T.V. and Samantha walks down with headphones plugged in her ears. As they are eating, no one “The Chair” talks. This is customary at Hugo Jenab a traditional Chinese dinGraphite ner, but back then family members weren’t distracted by T.V. or music. Lin Ma finished her dinner in silence, gets up to put her dishes in the kitchen sink and sits back in her seat to wait for everyone to finish. After everyone finishes dinner, her grandchildren run back upstairs so she helps her daughter-in-law clear the table. After showering and brushing her teeth, Lin Ma slips into comfortable sheets. There is still noise coming from the room upstairs but she doesn’t care. It’s nine and her day already ended by eight thirty. It was time to sleep, so that she would have enough energy to repeat her day over again.


LIVE Kate Montgomery They would have you believe That the existence of your world is determined by how well you can translate Julius Caesar; that the Universe hangs on your ability to solve a quadratic equation. But it doesn’t. They’re wrong, urgency unfounded, it’s your time they’re spending, fast as you go through chewing gum. But just do as is demanded. Be a good little drone, Play their game or They’ll screw you over, and then where will you be in a world where your future balances on a college degree. But while you go about their strictly regimented idea of how you should be living, Remember Life. Remember the beauty that is Life, everywhere. Beauty in the tragic lowing of a cello. Beauty in the naked branches of the trees Etched into the anaemic winter sky in patterns Of delicate entropy. Beauty in the candy-apple rouge of someone’s shoes Walking in the gilt sunlight. Beauty in the blue hues of the earth at gloaming. Beauty the taste of a stolen scoop of cake batter before it goes into the oven. Beauty in hearing the birds in the morning come new spring, Sweet trills trickling from throats thawing After a long winter. Beauty in the stars like millions of krill in an ocean noir. Beauty in hot chocolate when the snowflakes are coming down soft and heavy, muffling the world in a shroud of white. Beauty in the stained glass design of new leaves painted on the warm blue sky. Beauty in having created something, maybe for your eyes only, that ignites even the barest spark of pride instead of the cringing disgust of your essay that you wrote at the three in the morning when you were just so sick of it all. Beauty in everything falling into place.


En fin, Synapses snapping simultaneously—behold the light of Logic! Beauty in sweet sleep when finally you are allowed to drop off, freed from the English essay, the History homework, the studying, studying, studying, the myriad rehearsals. Beauty because for at least a little while, not a thing has to occupy your head, though in waking hours, God and the New York Board of Education forbid you exist for a day, an hour, a minute, a moment without the thought of math scores, GPAs, Regents exams, SAT scores, NYSSMA scores (after you got just that one point away from all state, all area, all that work, all for naught). Beauty in getting to an unexpected ending because for once, FOR ONCE, you didn’t have to analyze each idea, each phrase, each word, until you wanted to BURN the damn book. Behold, around you is the sweet song of Life. Forget not that there is a world BEYOND your textbooks, alarm clocks ringing, mothers shouting and banging on doors at ungodly hours. It is not the forbidden fruit of Tantalus nor a Sisyphean realm. So do not let them lie, Don’t let them confine your minds To point values determining your worth, going once, going twice, SOLD to the highest scholarship because you followed in their neatly chalked footprints to greatness. Don’t let them contain your brain In a forty-five minute incremented day, Or define you by Your ability to theorise, Ability to memorise, Ability to analyze, Ability to subdivide, One-e-and-a, two-e-and-a, three, HOLD FAST. Hold fast to the promise of Life, To the beauty that surrounds you, To the knowledge that you, inside your mind, are a free person, That the future is assuredly Bright As a single flame in the crushing night.


Streetlight Wanderers Gabe Alvarez

The urban afternoons Don’t give up their time for us Anymore Instead Dry heaving The daylight collapses upon itself Carries us Dazed, spent, cradled in Slow afterburns Sidling up to the oncoming traffic That once flanked our wanderings Beside the industrial automotive rivers That spanned our travels Speeding past, vainly Attempting to break our Silences, yet Noiseless, distant and muted We would match our pace Hands intact Eyes to the spreading distance And cabs blaring by We would smile, Relish that their precious, shining Autobodies were mounted by the parasitic Ad-Leeches Screeching their marqueed agendas While the taxis flew by Racing, bobbing, weaving to rid themselves Bound to the streets of the Lower East Side And its drowsy curbside orbits


Liz used to glance at me Fingers curled around her ‘decaf’ Colt 45 Absentmindedly tugging At the cardboard heat shield Our golden guise We would soak In what remained of the city’s warmth Like those ebbing horizons That matched the blunted, beaten Soles of our shoes As we made our way down dark-tinted avenues We used to walk to the edges The outskirts Taking our silent delights as we watched the cafes and souvenir shops Wane and crumple, exhausted And slowing in their frequency Unable to continue, to follow us Where we tread Past the warehouse districts And the cooling concrete highways To where one chanced to find On one fading summer day The occasional streetlight wanderers.

“You Spin Me Right Round” Jacey Nacarella Digital Photography

Rip Open the Seams Julia Brady

Rip open the seams on the lips of the world to scream words out at the seas of people: hands over ears, feet stomping, beat the drum. Let the wax handcuffs melt off your wrists and let the energy, Burst. Let me pull the trigger on your imagination, till your mind explodes with new ideas and creation, create: shrieking sparks on the tracks of the train that rolls between. Ignite ideas in the dark abyss of your mind. with the lantern lit bright. Burn down into ashes the cobwebs that cocoon with dusty thread, the file cabinet inside your head.

“FIrelady� Huascar Colored Pencil


“Girl in Red Dress” Carly Silver Graphite & Colored Pencil


My Currency Eesha Dave Sometimes I feel like a cage full of rattling words. They jump and scream and rack my insides and some days all I need is a pen and paper to tame them. If I don’t let words out, it’s as if I’ve silenced myself. My thoughts, emotions and ideas are expressed most fluidly through them. They strum the notes of my heart and flow onto the page. Pen and paper are my currency. My writing has taken me on adventures. It has taken me to places I’ll never see or feel. It has made me become characters I’ll never meet or touch. Words are the keys to my passage of travel. I can journey from one realm to another. I remember my writing once took me to a summer beach story. I lived as the character who could not remember. I became a part of her mystery, felt her desire to know why her past was simply purple. As she wandered along the shore of the beach looking for purple shells, shards that would connect her to her past and complete a quixotic puzzle, she became friends with a curious boy. He illuminated her world. Through him she saw past the purple shells, discovered fragments of herself in the pieces of nature. The two mingled together and he helped her remember. And there I was, an invisible ghost creeping alongside them, sipping blue slushies with them, feeling their excitement and curiosity, wondering why words are like my purple shells, the ones that give the world depth. My writing has led me to a foreign realm, where I met campers haunted by the eerie legend of silver monkeys that once lived on their campgrounds. With them I rolled in wonder at the legend, squinting and winking, battling gullibility and skepticism. Yet I sat there on the wooden log around the campfire and listened intently as the counselors spoke and shared the legend. The campers leaned forward, hugged themselves in the night air and I found myself doing the same. I rocked in the firelight burning with curiosity, dipping my fingers into my childhood, dreaming of sleepaway camp, a place I never went. The words rumble within me, ready for battle, fighting to jump off my fingertips and onto the pages, parachutes in hand. They speak for me, replace the words that will never flow from my mouth. With them I travel to another world, a place where I can dream and learn. They teach me different perspectives, how to be the polite outsider. And I wonder if they can make me an outsider in my own world. And I find that they can. I narrate my own life, word for word in my head. I’m the incessant storyteller. I’ll sit by the window and stare as the October leaves fall to the ground. I’ll bask in their fleeting nature and realize that all emotions and thoughts in my life are ephemeral. So I’ll turn to writing to capture the moments—the warmth of the dusk, the smell of smoldering wood. I know that the world will change, but what I write, make permanent, never will. And in that I find some comfort. For I know that although words transport me to foreign realms, let me live as distinct characters, they are still parts of me, imprints in my scroll of life.


Why to Try Not to Die Ben Barber

We sleep, we wake, we live, we die. We sit down, and life moves us around. Each of us wants another try. Ideas in our heads race their way by But when we need them, they are nowhere to be found: We sleep, we wake, we live, we die. We think we can beat it; we think we’re sly And though we know we’ll all end up in the ground, Each of us wants another try. You could have been great, but all you did was cry Cry about the world, cry about our whimpering sounds We sleep, we wake, we live, we die. You’ll do it later, but now you must fly, Lost up and away until you no longer feel a thing, not even your heart’s pound And yet even you want another try. We look back on our lives, and naught but sigh For although we can see that life’s possibilities did abound , We slept, we woke, we lived, we died. Each of us wants another try.


“Stool in Light” Hugo Jenab Charcoal


Sydney Frankel

My first major encounter with death was when I was three and a half years old. At the time, I didn’t fully understand it but I realized it was something big, something major. It was my dad who died. He was only forty-nine years old. Almost fifty—a landmark he never saw. He had been diagnosed with cancer when I was one. It was brain tumor. He had brain surgery but there was nothing it could do for him. Everyone knew he was going to die and watched him as his health steadily declined. The cancer ran in the men in his family. His father had died of it just seven years before him. However, his father was older when he died—he had had a full life. I was an only child I always had been and always would be. That was how I faced this— alone. Sure there were the adults: my mom, grandmas, uncles, aunts, friends, and family. But they all understood; they knew what death was. I didn’t. They tried to explain it to me, especially my mom, but still I never fully understood what it was. There was no one my age who was there with me, just as confused as I was. I remember we would go to visit him at the Hospice and most of the time I would just play. I remember I would be bored and would ask mom when we were going home. Maybe if I understood it would have been different. We never went along; there were always people with us. Friends, family would come to see him before he died. He always enjoyed the company. I don’t remember how long he was in the hospice but I don’t think it was very long. He died in August, three months before his next birthday. However, I am glad he died when he did because, even though I didn’t know it, I’m sure he was suffering. I remember for his funeral, mom asked me to draw some pictures. I did and they were thrown in the ground on top of his coffin. My babysitter was there taking care of me for my mom couldn’t at the time. She was too upset. In Judaism you are supposed to bury your own dead. This means throwing dirt in the grave. My babysitter walked me up to the big hole in the ground and helped me throw some dirt in. I had my own plastic shovel and pail, like the kind I would use for the beach. I remember looking back and seeing my uncle’s fiancée comforting my mom as she broke down crying. She looked like a totally different person. I wondered why she was so upset. Only being three and a half, I couldn’t wrap my head around the concept of death. I just didn’t get it. I knew there was something with dad, but that was basically it. Before we left, we all went looking for some stones for his grave. Mom told me to look for some cool ones that dad would like. I found a lot of stones. Our cousin Marty found one that was heart shaped. We placed them all at his grave. They are still there today along with the new ones we add. We drove home in our car like any other day. I don’t remember much of what else happened. It took me a while to fully understand what happened to Dad. I used to wish he would come back on all my birthday candles. I eventually realized that that wasn’t going to happen. I finally came to understand that he was gone for good. But that didn’t happen for a while. I remember Mom had changed. She had less energy, less time to play with me. I now know it was called depression. I changed too, I guess, but more gradually. I first had to understand what happened—how we all would be in a big hole in the ground one day just like Dad.


My Frog for Christmas Annie Sourbis With shredded paper encircled around me, I look down at my lap at the freshly opened present-a forest green, floral pattern frog, sitting there looking up with its black, beady, little plastic eyes. I hated it. But instead of politely accepting it, I abandoned everything I was taught about how to be considerate of others’ feelings. Instead I threw a fit. I lay there on my stomach in the living room floor with my fists pounding into the carpet. I was amazed that I could begin to cry for such a stupid reason. Throwing fits was not something I did. Throwing fits was something my teenage sister did. When I opened the present I had realized then that I could simply just throw the frog out later. But it was not the frog that bothered me. It was just my desire for attention. My mother never ended up throwing the frog away. Instead she kept it on the bottom shelf of the antique end table next to the tacky blue sofa. The next few months felt like years. That little polyester frog haunted me like a buck haunts a hunter’s dreams after his first kill. I would rush through the living room to get to the front door so, I wouldn’t have to think about how I acted. I tried to spend as little time as possible in the living room because of the remorse I felt. I knew I had overreacted. I knew my mom had tried to give us the best Christmas possible. Even though money was tight at the time, she had tried to surprise me with a nice gift. But I had chosen to ignore this and act immature about it. A few days before Easter, I was in the office and in the corner of my eye I could see my mom through the doorway lying on the couch reading her ABC soap opera magazine. Then I saw the frog that I had been trying to avoid for the past months. It was exactly where she had left it—sitting on the bottom shelf of the end table; next to the arm rest she was resting her head on. I went to my mom on the couch and apologized for acting so spoiled. She said that it was ok; that it wasn’t a big deal, and that she had saved the frog for me in case I ever wanted it. l told her no.

“Eerie” Alex Brinas Digital Photography


The Mail

Max Brivic

The mail is always waiting, Waiting to be opened, to be delivered, to be read. But we are always waiting too For the mailman, For the red plastic flag For the slashing, ripping, thrashing, opening of mail. E-mails have subject lines and attachments But an envelope has no summaries and JPEGS You squint and shake and shove it into the lamplight Interrogate its contents and maybe it will squeal. Sometimes the mail is soggy, Drenched by the windy rain. Sometimes the mail open, Felt up by the perverted neighbor. Sometimes the mail is crinkled, Bruised and beaten by the mailman. Sometimes the mail is boring, Shined and scrubbed by Madison Avenue.

“The Failed Hero” Nara Sandberg Digital Photography

But we like to get the mail Because we know There’s a chance That this letter Will be New.


Frozen Time

Yuriko Nakatanie August 6, 1945 8:00AM. In Hiroshima, Japan, a little girl woke up on her futon, and wiped sweat from her brow. She yawned, her pink mouth wide open. Clutching her blanket, she tiptoed down the wooden hallway to where her mother was sleeping. “Oka-san.” She shook her mother gently. “Mmmf,” her mother groaned. “What is it Nanako? It’s still early.” Nanako’s mother Kiyoe opened one bleary eye. “Oka-san, something’s wrong,” Nanako murmured, her mouth puckering into a worried frown. “Something bad is going to happen, I can feel it.” “Nana-chan, nothing is going to happen to you. Go to sleep for one more hour and I’ll make you breakfast. Your Oni-san will be back today. Everything should be ready for him.” With that Kiyoe fell back into the futon. Realizing it was useless to wake her mother up, Nanako decided to take a walk. She won’t mind if I disappear for a few minutes. Besides, I want to be the first one to greet Oni-san if I see him, she thought. Then, she returned to her futon. She took her watch--that her father gave her for her eighth birthday--and skipped out the glass door, being careful not to make any noises. The morning mist still hung in the air, and Nanako drew in the August scenery. The sunflowers in the florist next door stretched far above her head in full bloom. The streets were silent, no candy sellers, nothing. Suddenly, Nanako heard a dog whine. She turned around and saw a puppy crouching low under one of the street vendors’ carts. Its ears were flat against its head, and it seemed frightened of something. “Do you feel it too? Like something’s wrong?” Nanako asked the puppy, squatting down. The puppy whined again. “Yeah…me too, but I’ll protect you.” She reached under the cart and pulled the puppy out; it started licking her nose. “Hey, I know! I’ll take you home and you can live with me!” Nanako grinned at the puppy and turned towards her home. Nanako stopped in her tracks. There was a tall figure at the end of the street looking at Nanako’s house. He waved, and Nanako realized it was her brother, coming back from his school in Tokyo. She started to run towards him, ready to jump into his outstretched arms. Then Nanako saw something out of the corner of her eye; she looked up. With a burst of light and wind, a bomb exploded over the city of Hiroshima. A burnt watch clattered to the ground; its needle read 8:15.


Dust and Bone Joey Farber

“Skull” Huascar Colored Pencil

I went down to the graveyard To get some free advice But my prayers were interrupted By the sound of shuffling mice As the shovels made the bugs squirm When it cracked the dirty ground Leaves were rustlin’, wind was howlin’ But he didn’t make a sound And my insides crawled and rattled And it rocked me to a shiver His eyeless gaze, it told me That this was no ordinary digger So I asked this hellish villain Who the rotting man once was Before his body was submerged Beneath the dirt and left to rust And his shovels hit the crust And he replied, “Why does it matter, He’s half way in the dust.” For if you lived in the golden kingdoms Or slept on a bed of rocks Now you peacefully decay Within an empty wooden box Whether you suffered life in gutters Or you sat upon a throne When the flesh withers away There is only dust and bone


Pizza, Pasta and Jackals Daniel Davidson “Hey, move it!” It was the muffled voice of a man seething as he honked his car horn at a group of kids sluggishly crossing the street. It was not entirely their fault that they were moving so slowly; there were so many distractions. The defining shouts and honks, the blinding lights, the rush of the masses as each individual strives to reach their destination as quickly as possible. There is only one place that contains this type of hustle and bustle: New York City. This was the landscape on the path to the Bleecker Street Theater in Greenwich Village. However, once inside that small building--which, from the outside, looked more like a rundown abandoned warehouse--the scene went through a drastic metamorphosis. The hoards of young adults scurrying from place to place became a calm collection of the elderly. It was an odd crowd to be gathered for the performance of a modern-day comedian. There could not have been more than five people under the age of forty in the sold out theater for the presentation of “Sleepwalk with Me”, the latest routine of rising comedian Mike Birbiglia. However, everyone, regardless of age, seemed to enjoy Birbiglia’s humorous telling of his life stories. He focused mainly on dreams which had triggered his sleepwalking disorder, including when he jumped out of a hotel window to avoid a cruise missile; when he jolted out of his apartment while flinging furniture in order to escape Brad Pitt who was trying to pour acid on his hand (apparently he had fallen asleep watching Fight Club) and, his most revisited story of the night: when he sprang out of his bed in a karate pose to fight off a floating jackal. In the middle of all this excitement and laughter, I heard a faint snore behind me. So I, along with several other audience members, whirled around to see an extremely overweight woman with her head down, eyes closed, hands in her pants and making sounds similar to a wild boar. This did not take away from the experience. In fact, it happened to add to the comedic aura of the evening. After about an hour, the show had ended, I was approaching John’s Pizzeria for the final stop of the adventure. As the door swung open and I stepped inside, I was overtaken by the aroma of fresh, overcooked pizza. We were seated by the host and given menus to begin our exploration. Some time later, the waiter arrived with the ravioli and meatball pizza we had ordered. That same mouth-watering aroma crept up my nostrils again and I could not wait to dig in. “There’s nothing like real New York pizza,” my dad told me as we treated ourselves to the first delectable bite. When all was said and done—the food was finished, the check was paid; we were on the road again—it was time to head home. Although the night was over and school would inevitably resume the next morning, it was an experience that will not soon be forgotten. It was a night filled to the brim with laughs, exceptional food and brand new stories to tell.

“Still Life” Carly Silver Oil Pastel



Lianne Neiger He was sitting there, on the blue swings. He made no move, just sat with both feet on the ground. The playground was filled with children, but for whatever reason, the area of the swing set was empty except for him. I just observed him for a little while, until I felt a pull. I cautiously came closer, wondering if I was needed. What else could the pressure on my chest mean? Then he shifted, setting off a lonely melody. The plastic of the swing seat screeched, and twisted the connected metal links. Those links rattled, the sound cold, like a penny falling into a pile of change. He didn’t appear to notice any of this, but to me it couldn’t have been any clearer. The song called for me to step in. With a ready smile, I made my way forward, turned, and sat on the swing next to his. I created no noise, but he sensed me, and looked up. I kept the sure grin in place. The disappointment in his eyes was discouraging, but I didn’t falter. He needed me, and for him, I would remain as happy as possible. Nobody likes a depressed friend. “Why are you here?” he asked, and sighed. “I don’t understand.” I replied quietly. A young girl laughed in the background, reminding me of those early days spent with him near the lake. Watching him as he tossed a stone into the water and giggled excitedly when it skipped three times before sinking. “I’m asking you,” he said slowly, his voice lower than before, “why are you still following me?” “Because I’m your friend, and I have nowhere else to be.” “Nathaniel.” he inhaled heavily. My nerves danced, thrilled to hear my name spoken by him. “You have to go.” I didn’t let this request affect me. I knew he didn’t mean it. “But I can’t go. What would I do if I left? What would you do if I left?” “I’d move on! I’d make new, real, friends! You know this can’t continue, Nathaniel. People can’t understand what we have, and now I’m sick of it too. We’ve been friends ever since I can remember, but don’t you think it’s time to let it go? I’m not so little anymore.” My stomach clenched. How could he say such terrible things? So what if people didn’t understand us? That didn’t matter to me at all. And so what if he wasn’t so little? I could keep up. Nothing he said made sense to me. I examined his face, hoping to find some hesitation. Instead, I noticed things I hadn’t intended to come across. He was right. He really wasn’t the little boy from my memories. His face had become longer; his cheeks had lost their rosy freshness. His hands, grasping the metal chains, were larger and had a certain strength.

The shadow he cast on the ground stretched on and on. I wondered why I hadn’t noticed that before. “Why now?” I whispered. “I don’t get it.” “If not now, then when? I need to move on. Look, it’s not that I’m mad at you or anything like that. I just…I need to be with other kids. That’s just how it’s supposed to work.” “Oh. I see.” I lied. I stared at the earth before me, uselessly willing a shadow of my own to appear. “Yeah.” Our roles had reversed. This time, he was the one smiling and I was left twiddling my thumbs absently. After a while, the motion became blurry to me. Desperation clawed at my throat. “Do I really have to leave?” “I think you do,” he replied gently, “It seems right.” “I’ll miss you.” I mumbled, getting up from the swing. Everything in me screamed ‘stay’ but I knew that was impossible. If he wanted me gone, that’s exactly what I would be. “I’ll miss you, too. Thanks, Nathaniel.” I nodded. I hated those kind words. They felt so final. I walked away slowly, kicking at the grass, wishing my feet had some effect on the long blades. A small, purple beach ball rolled past me, and a young boy came running after it. The contrast between the innocent boy and the one that had just pushed me away hurt. The boy grabbed the ball, squealing, and ran back to where he came from without granting me a single glance. Well, it’s not like that was out of the ordinary. The something happened that actually was. A girl wearing a floral dress skipped in the opposite direction from me and passed through me with a rush of sickly sweet bubblegum scent. I found it immeasurably rude, even if I couldn’t feel it. Then I realized, with ugly jealousy, that she was heading toward my friend. There she sat, on the same swing I had been on, the chains rattling accordingly. The sound this time was energetic, though, not lonely. She tipped her head back and giggled. I recognized that she had been the one to laugh before. “Hi, I’m Rachel.” the girl introduced herself. “I’m Nate.” “Want to climb up those ropes with me?” I heard her inquire. “I’m scared to do it alone.” I saw my friend’s back tense, and his shoulders straighten. “Sure.”Both of them got off the swings. They linked arms and the dark figures under them melded. “Who were you talking to before?” she questioned. “It was like you were talking to yourself.” I awaited his answer, wanting to hear my name one more time. “Huh? Oh, no, I was just whistling.” I felt myself deflate. The girl shrugged, and they were off to the jungle gym, ready to pull themselves up the ropes. I sat down on the moist grass, resting my head on my knees. My job was over. Little by little, I faded away until Nathaniel, the imaginary friend, was a thing of the past.


At Twilight

Nara Sandberg “Crossing a bare common, in snow puddles, at twilight, under a clouded sky, without having in my thoughts any occurrence of special good fortune, I have enjoyed a perfect exhilaration.” —Ralph Waldo Emerson Crossing a deserted street, in downtown Manhattan, at twilight, without having any sense of direction or particular destination, I have enjoyed a perfect exhilaration. * * * I got on the subway, and decided that tonight, I would get off at a stop I had never been to before. I took the subway downtown and got off at an unfamiliar station. Walking up those tattered steps, I glanced upwards, discovering, as I often do, uncharted territory. Only this time, I was alone, it was 12:30 a.m., and I had no specific destination in mind. I decided to turn right after my ascent up the subway steps; it looked more alluring. The street was quiet and tranquil, but rather than seeming eerie, the emptiness created a comforting serenity, sharply contrasting with the everyday hustle and bustle of Midtown Manhattan where I was working that summer. The air was slightly crisp, but with remnants of hot humidity from the long summer day. Glancing upward, I found the starry night sky, interrupted by the city lights, which, while out of place and mismatched, complemented the starry night, saturating it in an oddly satisfying manner. I continued to roam and it occurred to me that this was no purposeless meander, though my purpose was a bit ambiguous at the time. Even though I was alone, and the streets were nearly empty, I did not feel that apprehension and desolation that often come with solitude. Instead my aloneness seemed to open up all kinds of possibilities. Suddenly, with no destination or obligations, in an unfamiliar area, with no one else’s wants or demands weighing me down, I was free, and the night was open to be whatever I wanted it to be. For one of the first times in my life, I was independent, even if it was only temporary. Tonight, I could explore to my heart’s content and no one was there to tell me when and where I had to stop. I wandered past a movie theatre and stopped inside, and quickly backed out, out of the overly airconditioned, faux-butter-scent-saturated air, and back into the slightly crisp, slightly polluted, summer city air. Walking further, I came upon a Starbucks.


Not really in the mood for an over-processed, overpriced, semi-coffee drink, I kept walking, and turned a corner. I didn’t recognize the area, didn’t recognize the street names. This probably should scare me, or faze me at the very least, I thought. After all, I was out of my normal comfort zone of gridded, perpendicular streets. And after all, I was a seminaïve, sixteen-year-old little suburban girl in the big city. These twisty, turny streets should terrify me. But instead, I felt invigorated by the unknown. Almost as if to mock me, at this exact moment, a middle-aged, disheveled looking man stepped out from one of the underground storage rooms, nodded, and said, “How you doin’?” I smiled nervously and stumbled before continuing my walk. So much for any chicness from the young Versace intern. I came upon a bus stop and determined that the bus that would be stopping here was indeed heading uptown, towards my summer residence at 75th Street and 2nd Avenue. While awaiting the bus’s arrival, in the middle of a conversation with my mother, my phone beeped “low battery” and powered down. I began to worry about what my mom might be thinking, but the bus soon arrived. I got on, sat down and asked a woman sitting across from me to borrow her cell phone. She said yes. This struck me as rare amiability in the midst of a notoriously unfriendly city, especially on a mostly empty bus in the middle of the night. What could have been a night of fear-inducing panic became an evening of satisfying discovery. I sat down and glanced out my window, and watched as my bus slowly glided back into the familiar grid, past various familiar areas—Grand Central, work (the Versace Press Office) and finally, “home” for the summer—the Upper East Side. Exited, I walked the few avenues over to “my” building, and headed upstairs to “my” apartment. I turned my key and quietly headed inside. The clock read 2:32 a.m. as I put down my dead phone and Metro Card on “my” kitchen table. The ability to call something like an apartment in Manhattan “mine” seemed, and still seems surreal, but for that summer, it was my reality. I looked out “my” bedroom window and was once again perfectly exhilarated by a simple glimpse of the polluted starry sky.

“Effulgence” Alex Brinas Digital Photography


“Revulsion” Nick Ozemba Colored Pencil

Criterion 2009  

Volume 27 (Released June 2009)