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THE CRITERION EZINE – SPRING 2017 EDITION President of the College Dean, School of Business, Arts and Sciences

Vincent Maniaci Susanne T. Swanker

English Department Head

Lori A. Paige


Julie R. Bodnar

Featured Writers & Photographers Jacob Boatman


Emily Murray


Jazmine Baehr


Emily Murray


Jazmine Baehr


Justin Cohen


Rebecca Gray


Marisa Najarian


Kaitlyn Grimshaw


Tiana Shakir


Jacob Boatman


Ryan Lafrance


Steven Hernandez


Sheldon Rhoden


Ryan Lafrance


S. Jordan


Rebecca Gray


Sharleen Santiago


Shiane Wilkins


Vika Maklakova


Vika Maklakova


Vika Maklakova


Kyle Boyer-Tucker


Jacob Boatman


David Padilla


Cover Art, AMARA by Emily Murray All text and artwork © individual contributors.

The Bench by Jacob Boatman


The Mansion on the Mountain By Emily Murray Long ago, there was a young man so powerful, so handsome and so rich that he could control anything he laid his eyes upon. He had a beautiful mansion that sat atop a hill which overlooked small fishing villages along the coast. He had land as far as the eye could see, a fleet of the strongest ships man could build and the charm to get most anything he wanted. He came from old money and inherited his father’s trade business when his parents died tragically at sea on the eve of his sixteenth birthday. With his young mindset and his father’s knowledge, he quickly expanded, and by the age of eighteen, he was one of the youngest and most revered trade investors Europe had ever seen. Girls would fall to his feet, and he took plenty up on their offers. Always seen with a new, beautiful girl on his arm running about town every night. Kings from faraway lands even offered their daughter’s hand in marriage, but he always turned them down. This handsome boy’s name was Charles Hudson Marst. Occasionally causing trouble with his friends on the weekends, he was known by the townspeople for abusing his power and for being arrogant. Those younger than him aspired to be him, those his age envied him, and those older resented him. There came a time where you could find an enemy talking about undermining Marst at every corner. Groups of men would talk under hushed breaths about getting rid of him and stealing his business in every pub. But Marst was smarter than that and knew how to handle himself in sticky situations. At least he thought he did. He knew people talked and he didn’t care. Power meant protection, and his naivety helped him believe that was so. One night, as he was walking home alone from the pub, he was approached by an old beggar woman. He had seen this woman in various places around town and had no pity for her. She was known for her eccentric banter about the people that passed her by. Her hair was white as snow, and she was constantly hunched over. So bent from years of begging that she could barely look you in the eye when she spoke. She was a nuisance, the town’s very own mad woman. “Do you have a few pennies to spare for a poor old woman such as me?” she then said


through her gnarled teeth. His pockets heavy and jingling, Marst drunkenly replied, “I have nothing but one bit of advice for you, seek refuge in another town. Everyone no longer pities the old beggar woman on the streets here. Get out of my sight at once, or I’ll have my friends come and help you along.” The old woman grew angry. Marst didn’t know if it were the ale or some witchcraft, but he could have sworn she became younger in her face, taller in her appearance; more powerful. “You watch your tone Charles Marst. You mark my words. You have it all, and it can be taken away in an instant. All it takes is a few secrets to fall into the right hands and a few whispers to drift into the right ears. Your worst qualities have consumed you, and you will become a shell of what you once could have been had you been raised properly.” Marst began to back away from the woman, growing more terrified with each step. She continued, “Heed my words for they are not for the faint of heart. You will be cursed to lose what you love the most and live with your demons for the rest of your years. Each one that passes bringing you deeper into the depths of the curse making it harder to escape until you grow old and weak. You have made your choice, and now you must live with it” Marst took another step back and tripped up the curb. He fell backward and cringed as if he had something to fear from this woman. He regained himself and looked up only to see that the woman had mysteriously vanished. He got up, almost completely sober now, and ran home as fast as he could too terrified to look back. The next morning he awoke with a headache and couldn’t believe what the previous night had entailed. He knew that it had to have been a dream or ~5~

something to that effect. After all, this crazy old woman called him by name and what he saw with his eyes couldn’t have been possible. He had a meeting on the docks, so he decided to shrug it off and forget the whole thing even had happened. He put on his best clothes because the meeting meant a great deal potential money, so he wanted to impress. He walked along the docks talking to his colleagues who were much older than he but respected him just the same admiring the detail in his giant ships. All of the sudden, off of a passenger boat ahead, a young woman stepped off the ramp and caught his eye. In an instant, all sound ceased, and nothing else mattered. She was short and fair. Hair as black as night that floated effortlessly in the sea breeze and eyes paler than ocean waves. She had a beautiful crimson red dress on that made her look stunning with ribbons in her hair to match. In all of his years of living, he had never seen a girl like this and had certainly never felt this way before. He introduced himself and it wasn’t long before the two were inseparable. Her name was Amara Penelope Frank, and she was the love of his life. They began to do everything together, him and the girl with ribbons in her hair. On the eve of the 17th of October, he planned to propose to Amara. That night he planned a ball in his mansion and invited what seemed to be all of Europe. Little did he know that the old woman had teamed up with those who had been plotting against him all throughout town. People that were sick of his troublesome ways and sick of his power. People that wanted to not only hurt him but also make it personal. A group of men from the village, disguised as noblemen, snuck their way into the party. They charmed their way through conversation until they came across Amara. She looked gorgeous in a big flowing blue ball gown. Blue ribbons were tying up her hair. Marst wanted to get some fresh air on the terrace, but Amara had too much fun dancing, so he kissed her cheek sweetly and headed off. This was their chance. The men sweetly approached Amara and convinced her that Marst had a surprise planned for her out front. Once they got her alone, they kidnapped her and brought her to the docks, tying her ribbons on the fencepost as they left. They made her change her clothes and cut her beautiful hair. She was forced onto an unmarked ship in ~6~

shackles where was never to be seen of again. “You ever try to return to this town again, we’ll have his head. You’re lucky we’re letting you off this easy,” one of the men said. She nodded, and they left. She then cried uncontrollably as the ship pulled away. Back at the party, Marst had noticed he couldn’t find his love anywhere. It was almost time to propose, and he began to grow more and more anxious. He looked everywhere inside and nothing. Checked the back of the house and still nothing. He ran to the front of the property, his heart now beating out of his chest when he saw it. Her ribbons were blowing gently in the breeze. His stomach was in his throat as a carriage pulled up alongside the gate where he had been standing. It was the men. “Have you seen her?!” he cried, “have you seen my Amara?!” One of the men then dropped his head as he spoke, trying to hide his crooked smile, “I saw a beautiful young woman board a ship not long ago. Hair as black as night. She seemed in a hurry.” Marst knew it was her. How could she? He knew their love was real… wasn’t it? Why would she leave him like this without even a single word? He couldn’t believe it. Then, in a fit of rage, he began to scream uncontrollably. He removed everyone from his home and began to tearing everything apart. Something had happened to her. He refused to believe that she would leave and never return. Over the next couple of years, he spent a large sum of money and plenty of ships looking all across Europe for her. He posted ads with her description, but nothing turned up. He was lost without her. Nothing that used to please him felt right anymore. He could have all the money and power in the world, but without her he was nothing. He began to lose hope and retreated to his mansion more and more until he was never seen from or heard of again. Only two of his servants were allowed to the docks once a week from business and the rest of them remained inside. Deliveries were made to the house, but no one saw him. Over the years women had heard of his wealth and his long lost love and posed as Amara to try and gain power. He grew more and more bitter with each woman who came to lie just for greed. By the time he was forty, he had refused all guests. His only friends were the characters in the books he read and his staff that he had had since he was a child. Twenty years had passed, the townspeople grew old and moved on. His company thrived, and without his arrogance, Marst became a distant memory for most. His house became part of a legend with the children of the town as did he. They would say that a monster lived in that house ~7~

and that’s why no one was ever seen coming or going. That he became evil one day long ago and morphed into a beast so great, he could swallow you whole. The children would dare each other to run into the yard or knock on the door, but no one ever had the bravery to touch the property. Marst was now sixty-five, and one of his most trusted maids had passed away. He needed someone new, so he sent two of his most trusted butlers to go to the docks and find someone fit for the job. As the two were searching, they came across a wonderful little old lady wandering asking for work. She seemed sweet enough with salt and pepper hair and a smile that could warm even the coldest of hearts. They approached her about the position, and she politely accepted. “What is your name kind, madam?” One asked. “My friends call me Penny,” she replied. As they approached the house, Penny became more and more anxious. “Is everything alright dear?” the other asked as they pulled into the gate. Penny looked down into her lap, clasped her hands tight and said, “I’ve heard stories of this house. I didn’t expect it to be the one I would be working in” The two men turned to one another. One finally said with a sigh, “There is something you need to know about Mr. Charles Marst.” They then spent a short while explaining to the woman about Marst’s past and how the love of his life had abandoned him. Penny seemed visibly shaken, but the two men brushed it off. Who wouldn’t be overwhelmed by such a sad tale? Over the next couple of weeks, Penny had worked closely with the staff but had never seen Marst himself. Finally, after three weeks she was allowed into his study to bring him some tea. The chair was turned towards the fireplace. As she approached, he said, “You're late,” in a raspy, weak voice. She set the tea down and finally saw him. The years of sadness could be seen in the depths of the lines on his face. His eyes were sunken in as if all of the tears had run their wells dry. His bitterness showed in his posture, and he had a permanent scowl on his face. She was taken back by him but did not shy away like most did. Instead, she smiled warmly and asked, “I apologize, sir, would that be all?” The voice was unfamiliar to him but made him feel a warmth he hadn’t felt in years. He turned toward the voice to look at Penny. Their eyes caught as the fire glowed below them and his face became softer. Just then he saw them. Eyes paler than the ocean waves themselves. He forced himself out of his chair, amazing himself with how quickly he stood and he took her hands. With tears running down his cheeks he spoke, “It’s you. I have been waiting a lifetime for something I thought I would never see and here you are. My Amara. My love.” She squeezed his hands tight and said, “I have been waiting my whole life too my dear. I ~8~

had to remain in hiding until I knew it was safe to return to you. You are and always will be the love of my life.” She then explained that night and what had happened. Marst, being much older and wiser, had seen the error of his ways and instead of seeking revenge, he kissed his beautiful Amara. As their lips met, something happened. Suddenly the mansion had been filled with light it hadn’t seen in decades. He began to feel young again as did she. The years were washed from their faces, and as they released their embrace to look at one another she was the young and fair girl he fell in love with, and he was eighteen again. “How is this possible?!” he shouted. Amara looked puzzled. “My love I don’t quite know what you’re talking about,” she said with a giggle. It had seemed that she had no recollection of what had happened. Still, in shock, he then heard a knock at the door. It was the old beggar woman. “Charles Marst I am proud of you. You have finally found the true beauty and importance life has to offer. Instead of being petty and filled with hate when given a chance you chose to love and forgiveness. Second chances are few and far between so enjoy this and keep it our little secret.” She winked and headed off. When he returned to Amara, she asked who had come to the door. He told her it had just been an old friend wishing them well. Mr. & Mrs. Marst would live in the mansion atop the hill filled with love, happiness, and laughter for the rest of their days to come. Photo of The Grand Foyer at the Palais Garnier By Jazmine Baehr Photo of Amara By Emily Murray Photo of The Front Balcony at the Palais Garnier By Jazmine Baehr ~9~

Reading By Justin Cohen A good book Is the perfect escape From all of life’s worries To a world not your own You live among characters Watch their lives unfold Witness passion and drama Among terror and anguish Diesel by Rebecca Gray Your vocabulary expands And so does your imagination As these passageways to other worlds Have more to offer you than simple excitement But then it’s that time again Peel your eyes off the page Time to put down someone else's story And return to your own.

~ 10 ~

The Case of Dear Abigail Kipling By Marisa Najarian (1832) The story presented below is true. The remnants of her diary were found within the months after her death in 1869. The diary permanently resides on display in the Museum of London. “The night was unexpectedly warm for early May in London. All the windows were opened in the busy house, overflowing with people. One could not escape the sound of laughter, babbling, and clinking of glasses as the party continued. The heat of the bodies could be seen, rising in a type of fog around the chandlers. The pitiful women were fanning themselves, regretting the choice of the thick corsets and petticoats. Father was in the middle of the mess, hugging strangers as if they were family, I thought wouldn’t be able to pick them off the street right now. I couldn’t complain. Father was happily drunk, interacting with people other than the servants, which had not occurred in a long while. Mother had been only gone for a year; the grey cloud seemed to have temporarily risen from around father’s head now. I was perched on the windowsill, allowing the occasional breeze to kiss my face as I gazed at the swollen moon. It seemed to glow a yellow light, giving the sky the sleepy appearance. The clock tower suddenly struck eleven from within the darkness. The bell continued to chime when on the final sound a ghostly pale hand appeared next to me. The sudden appearance gave me a fright. I looked up to find the owner, a tall young man. His hair was dark, pushed back to expose his chocolate brown eyes. He was dressed in a nice suit and appeared unbothered by the heat. “I could not stop myself from coming over.” His voice was like piano keys. “I was about to take a stroll through the gardens, and needed a beautiful companion.” Being a sixteen-year-old I could not resist a handsome man, so I placed my hand into his as he guided me to the door. I took a breath, relieved by the change of temperature. The garden laid out in front of us was full of bloomed flowers. They lined the pathways and around the fountain that stood sparking in the moonlight in the center. I kicked off my shoes with a girlish shriek before dancing upon the grass. The man watched me with a laugh as I twirled around, allowing blades of grass to entangle around my toes as I danced. He walked over to me with grace, stopping me mid-spin. “What is ~ 11 ~

your name, you beautiful pixie?” The words made my heartbeat increase. “My name is Abigail. And yours, sire?” I curtsied with the hand he was not holding; it was cold in mine. “Lord Augustus.” He bowed his head towards me, and my cheeks grew warm. “Shall we begin our stroll?” “Of course,” I said, doing my best to control my excitement. Lord Augustus and I walked for a bit in silence. My heart was beating against my ribcage with each step we took. We made it to the fountain, which was within the center of the garden and was protected by large bushes, creating corners around the marble basin. “Come with me,” whispered Lord Augustus as he swept me behind the large bush, blocking the view from the house. “I can not wait any longer.” Lord Augustus began to kiss my hand softly, starting from the back of my hand and making his way to my forearm. I began to form goose bumps, even with the heat, my heart felt warm and beat with anticipation. Lord Augustus paused from the kissing to gaze at me, he moved hair from face. My lips parted just as he moved in for a kiss, his lips moving slowly against mine. The kisses became passionate, quickly and hard. I could barely breath from the pace. It was then that Lord Augustus began to move to my jawbone, working his way to my neck. His hands grasped my waist hard towards him. The feeling was intoxicating; I never wanted him to stop kissing me. Suddenly a sharp pain occurred. I ignored it and took it as horseplay until I felt something wet move down my collarbone. His grip around my waist began to ache, from my body fighting for air. A scream was building within my throat, though nothing was coming out as a tear slid down my cheek. I began to pray; pray that someone would find me. The thought died knowing that no one knew I had left or would even be able to hear me over the party. Oh God, I begged someone please stop this man, if he even was a man. I couldn’t leave my father, his only daughter soon after his wife. The idea would surely have killed him. That’s when I heard it: an incredible, horrible shrieking sound. The man pulled his face away, revealing a deep red stain formed around his mouth. He was there one moment looking at me, and the next he was gone, into the darkness. It was then as I began to walk around the corner to see the house once again. People running towards me told me that I was the source of the screaming. My father’s face read as horrified at the scene as he ran to me. It was then that I blacked out.

~ 12 ~

I awoke to find myself lying in bed at home, my father sitting next to me, holding my hand with his eyes closed in prayer. “Papa” I spoke with a raspy voice, strained from the screaming, “what happened?” His head quickly rose at my words. With a smile upon his face and tears in his eyes, he pulled me into an embrace. “Oh my darling Abigail, I truly feared the worst!” My father through more tears spoke of what had transpired. “The party came to a halt as a blood-curdling scream pierced through the window,” father started. “That’s when I searched the room for you. I began to scream your name as a flock of people ran into the garden.” He began to shake as he continued on, so I reached for his hand “ when I made it outside, I saw you stumbling towards us. Still screaming as you fell to the ground, your dress soaked with blood from the neck.” I reached then, touching the right side of my neck and winced from its tenderness. I looked back at father, waiting for him to continue. “I scooped you up and took you inside to wait for a doctor while the others chased whatever had attacked you” Once he spoke this, anger grew across his face. “Someone had recognized him as Thomas Lafayette.” My heart rate picked up at the thought of the man, putting the face to the name. “He was a stable boy in a town over, but the boy had died over a year ago.” That is when my blood turned cold. I didn’t want to admit the fact that this was no man that attacked me, but also charmed me. The memory of the kisses upon my lips brought back for only a moment. “I could not believe it” father continued, “so a few of the men and I went to the Highgate cemetery where the boy had been buried. When we found his grave, we dug to open the casket.” He looked away from my eyes, as if he could not bear to see me as he spoke. “When we opened it, the boy was there. Blood smeared across his face, stomach swollen from what he had done.” Father squeezed my hand tight, and looked back at me. Moving a strand of my blonde hair as he finished “I took care of him, darling. Nothing will harm you ever again” My father left to allow me to rest, but I could not close my eyes without seeing the man’s beautiful eyes. I am grateful to be alive, I am. Though it would break my father’s heart to ever read this, I still long for the man named Thomas. I still dream of his lips brushing mine, though I know I shouldn’t. I pray to God every night to remove these impure impulses. To this day, I still believe I can see his hand out of the corner of my eye, wishing to adventure a long quiet walk. ~ 13 ~

Mom By: Kaitlyn Grimshaw The hand no longer to hold The hug no longer to give The kiss no longer to receive All things are taken for granted till they are gone. The shows no longer watched The discussions no longer discussed Faded memories and now tears The cats no longer meowing The dogs no longer barking The caregiver to them as she is to me The love she gives is limitless Greater than the moon, stars, and universe combined. One day it won’t be here. One day the inevitable will come, and she will be gone. The cries shall come from the one who loved her the most. The tears shall come from me the most. A grateful child Whose mother would do anything to take away their pain Take away their suffering. The fear is of it all being gone one day I don’t know how I’ll live. The day she goes is the day I fear the most.

Untitled by Tiana Shakir

The day she goes is the day I know I shall cry the most.

~ 14 ~

The Peach Office by Jacob Boatman ~ 15 ~

Chair? Nope! By Ryan Lafrance I saw a woman lift a chair and set it on top of a table; she pointed to it and asked, “What is this?” Well, of course, it’s a chair. My uninhabited brain knows that. Well, why? Um. That next hour was just that, trying to defend what a chair is, and the woman asking “Why?” or “How do you know that?” Sometimes she just responded with a blatant, “No.” I think I know what a chair is, right? Is it not that thing you sit in? Well, I guess not. This was when all my hopes and dreams crashed into millions of pieces like a pretty vase sparkling from the light above as it floats from the wooden countertop and smashes on the tile floor. Who are you to tell me a chair is not necessarily for sitting on? According to the hand-dandy, a chair is “a seat, especially for one person, usually having four legs for support and a rest for the back and often having rests for the arms.” Well, okay dictionary, you helped zero. I said all those things, and every single time the woman could annihilate my claims by saying it wasn’t enough. So, what is a chair? I still have no idea; it’s that simple. I received no hints. My whole life is a lie. What else have you been lying about? Even the dictionary was in on it. Okay, so we know what a chair is, at least that it is that thing you picture when you think of a chair. How do you know it is a chair? Well, it seems as if we were born knowing it is a chair. You were told at a young age that this object is a chair, or you’ve had so many experiences with it you just know. She says that’s not true; if your parents tell you that your dog is a chair, is it a chair? Nope. Okay. So, you and I, we’ve lost. Unless you’re in on it too and I'm just alone in this world. How many times can she tell you a chair is not a chair before you just give up. Alright, well let's think a tiny bit more, there are more definitions of a chair. Alright, now I give up. I don’t understand what she is asking. Everything I believed a chair to be she said was wrong. The only way I can successfully provide a better answer to what a chair is by being more descriptive. So once again here goes nothing. A chair often seats one individual, but sometimes a couple of the young’uns can squeeze on as you read them Dr. Seuss’s If I Ran the Zoo in front of the fireplace. The warmth brings sparks that pop and proceeds to flutter up the bricks of the chimney. Black stains the bricks. Mother is chopping celery in the kitchen. The dog lifts his head and grumbles at lights that peak through the shutters. The chair it too cozy to stand up. The arm ~ 16 ~

is rested on the chair’s armrest, and the antique wood slightly digs into the skin. The hardwood floors are an enchanting addition to this lakeside cabin that these residents reside in during the warm summers. A chair also most often has a back and stand with legs for support. Chairs can come in different shapes and sizes. Chairs can be made from many different materials such as leather, wood, or plastic. To me, a chair is a chair. A chair is something so common that it is hard to describe. Picture a chair in your mind. That is what a chair is. Now can you tell me why? “Nope!”

Untitled By Steven Hernandez Thirty-two nations competing in one country thousands of people waiting to enter the stadium only comes around once every four years players prepare themselves their whole life millions of people watching all over the world everyone stops what they are doing players playing ninety minutes’ plus fans on the edge of their seat some crying of joy that their nation won others crying because they lost players leaving their heart on the field and play for the badge on their shirt the beautiful game the game that brings the world together the game that has millions of people on their feet the World Cup ~ 17 ~

Black By Sheldon Rhoden Slaves to president Power through adversity Beat the statistics

Chain-link Fence by Ryan Lafrance

~ 18 ~

Where Did You Go? By S. Jordan I woke up one day to you not being there No phone calls, no visits, just me and the air Where did you go? I begged and I pleaded, I screamed and I cried My heart bled for you, and for me you couldn’t try Where did you go When I needed you the most? Left someone in your spot and all they played was host You left me alone To fend for myself Scarred Broken Bruised

Smile in the Flames by Rebecca Gray ~ 19 ~

I am By Sharleen Santiago I am rice with green pigeon and chicken. I am from a house filled with screams and jumping all around. I am the oldest of five siblings. I am the first to attend college. I am the first to move out of the house. I am the happiest I can be. I am learning day by day to be a responsible adult. I am happy in my own home. I am now someone who is destroyed from things that no one can explain. I am someone who lost their partner in crime and best friend in the same day. I am the person everybody looks at and talks about. I am still confused and left with unanswered questions. I am the first to move right back to my mothers. I am the one who feels lost. I am someone who is taking it day by day. I am strong.

Molly – A Little Mouse for the Time Being By Shiane Wilkins As I stared at the painted purple sky above me, my eyes began to drift. A flash of light shined on my cheek alerting me of its presence. I slowly pushed myself up off of the soft textured grass to see a ball of light hovering in front of me. The ball of light moved further away; I followed it as fast as I could. I ventured into the night chasing it with every turn it took. No matter how far it went my legs kept going, and the light never got closer. The light kept its distance away from me no matter my speed.

~ 20 ~

As the night grew darker, the light grew brighter. I stopped my movement as a cave stood before me. The ball of light traveled further as it was almost vanishing into the cave. My body froze for a second as fear crawled on my skin. I bit my lip as my feet left the ground bolting towards the light down the endless cave. All I could hear was grass below me as it softened my steps. My hands followed the wall as the soft flowers started to grow leading me further. The light seemed to stop as if it hit a dead end. The light vanished as three doors became visible. These doors stood tall in front of me, as each door told me something different. The first door on my left was blue and had many yellow sunflowers, and red roses with its steam trying to reach for the yellow door handle. The second door was to my right; it was green and had tree roots growing from it with two small branches across the yellow door knob. The last door, stood tall in front of me with a starry night sky. All the clouds looked gray as it felt as if they were moving through the sky. As I stood there observing each door I decided to explore. Of course, I knew which door I was going to choose. Part 1 The Flower Door I turned to the left as the flowers called out to me. I grabbed the door handle as the flowers wrapped around my wrist (to) make a bracelet. The door opened with a bright light and a warm glow. I started to walk in the door as my feet felt something soft below me. The light started to fade a bit as green began to fill the area. There in front of me was green grass and flowers that towered over me. I started to walk forward moving around every flower I passed. O, the further I went the more flowers I saw. Each flower I saw was different from the others, but that didn’t matter. Every turn seemed like I was going in circles. A pink light shaped in the corner of my eye. I turned; it was floating around me and upwards toward the flowers. As the pink light vanished, I could make out a girl sitting on top a bright yellow sunflower. This girl had long black hair with a bright pink dress and black leggings. “Hello little one, I am one of the fairies residing over all that is beyond this door. I am considered a guardian my friend. Let's go on an adventure to see what this world has to offer.” The pink fairy started to fly away and I was tagging along. The moment I was trying to follow I was slowly falling behind. Each flower stem was dragging me down as they blocked my view from following the fairy. Slowly I was getting lost with where I was going. By the time I could see the sky between the flowers the pink fairy was no longer to be found. ~ 21 ~

This was a moment of loss as every time I turned there were just tall flowers. I could hear a voice faintly saying something to me. “Hey, are you lost?” I answered back “Yes, I am; can you help me find a pink fairy? I was following her, but she flew away.” “Oh yes. I know where she went. I will help you.” There was a shadow coming down from above of something with two antennas. I couldn’t believe my eyes there was a talking ladybug in front of me. This ladybug had four dots on its back and cute big eyes. “Here climb on my back.” The ladybug said to me. I decided to ride on the ladybug's back to adventure forth to find the pink fairy. The moment we hit the open sky with clouds that reminded me of cotton candy in space. We flew along until we found a small pink light on a window sill at a small house. I knew this house, it seemed so familiar because I knew it was home. I closed my eyes and there home was. “Wake up little one. Time for school.” A lady said outside of the room. I turned my head to my lamp; there was a small lady bug crawling over the lamp shade. The ladybug flew out the window as the sun shined down on my face. There I left the room to the bright shining light. As I grabbed my backpack, readying myself for another long journey. “Get in the car little one.” The lady said. As I rushed off I saw the flowers move in the wind as a ladybug flew on my finger and then off into the bright new sky. I thought, “Molly, thank you for taking me through door one – beyond the painted, purple sky.”

~ 22 ~

Darkroom By Vika Maklakova I am sitting here, in the dark room Which can't relief my eyes from pain. This room is so cold and gloomy -That I am feeling so miserable and lonely. This room like grayish sky, which call the wind and rain And says: "Come the rain, wind and cold," and frowning sky will cover you with anguish. My life for other people seems okay, Then why my heart in pain? Then why I can't stop dreaming -To fly up the somber clouds, To the bright, warm-shiny sun.

Darkroom Photo by Vika Maklakova

~ 23 ~

He Gave Me Power to Reign Over You By Vika Maklakova 1 You think that you are winning, but I am going to disappoint you; now listen— You are Losing because you can't defeat me. You try to ensnare me, but you truly Lost. The one who lives inside of me is much stronger to the one who leaves in this world. The one inside of me—is my strength, The one inside of me is my living water. He appeases my hunger with sacred bread and quenches my thirst with living water. You are—above—is my daily bread and water, You are—the one—is my love and purpose in the life You are the one who can't leave me sucking down in the swamp, much deeper and deeper You came and stretched your arm to me— You the one who never will abandon me 2 Yesterday on this holiday day, you tried to entrap me again, but don't you forget who I am? You might say that I am that offspring, The one whose ancestors created you— Yes—I agreed that my progenitor had created you, but this is my biggest shame from all. But listen now, you no one to me, And you can't dictate your rules to me Do you understand that? I warn you. I declare that you no one in my life and that I am free now. The one who was—who is—and who is coming, Had ransomed me—he paid the full price for me So, I can be free from you, and live with him up there forever and ever after

~ 24 ~

Fear By Kyle Boyer-Tucker Fear is the mind killer, It is the emotion that brings total obliteration, Each day as I walk through the valley of death, I will face my fear, And I will allow it to pass over me and through me, And when it has passed I will acknowledge fears path, and there will be nothing only I will remain

Jazz Player by Jacob Boatman

~ 25 ~

The Unique Medium By David Padilla I reported this story to the police long ago, but it is too bizarre for me not to tell! I don’t expect you to believe the story that I am about to recount, but it is completely true. I may risk sounding like a madman, but if this story is not told then I feel everyone could be at risk. I can’t possibly fathom why this story has not been told yet, so here it goes… It was a beautiful evening in London that night, so it was enjoyable to walk through the city. I was invited to a gallery opening in this new building on Brushfield Street. The artist was pretty new from what I’ve uncovered about her. I was still unsure how she found my address, but then again the internet makes the world a much smaller place than it truly is. After a short time I had arrived at the building, the address is burned into my mind until this day: 61 Brushfield Street. It was only a one-story building, but it somehow encompassed all the beauty and grandeur of an old Gothic church. I walked in through the ornate mahogany door, and was immediately transported into a different world. The walls were made of a gorgeous black onyx and the floors were the purest white marble you’ve ever seen. There were pieces of art hung all over the walls, and even some hanging from the ceiling. The gallery was full of people, and they were all marveling at the art. Everyone was dressed so elegantly; there were extraordinary, and expensive, gowns and tuxedos everywhere. One person seemed to stick out amongst the crowd, and it was this woman who seemed to stand protectively next to a beautiful porcelain statue. She reminded me of the classic image of Marlene Dietrich in the tuxedo from “Morocco”. She even had the top hat to complete the look. The only difference between this woman and Marlene was their physical appearance. She had straight, shoulder-length red hair, eyes like the darkest amethysts you have ever seen, and striking dark red lips. She also had on bronze stilettos, which seemed unique in comparison to the rest of the outfit. I chose to just explore the paintings that were along the walls. I passed by each painting with more and more admiration growing. All the paintings were in the style of the baroque and were beautiful, but incredibly macabre. The artist even had a painting of ~ 26 ~

Mary Jane Kelly before and after her demise at the hands of Jack the Ripper; being that we were around the corner from where her corpse was discovered, it felt like the artists was paying homage to the dark history of London. I then stopped at this one painting and just stared in admiration at it. It was this stunning image of this beautiful angel in a romantic embrace with a demon. The beauty of this image is replaced by horror when you realize that the demon’s, hand is right through the angel’s, chest with her heart in his hand. The face I once thought was filled with ecstasy was that of pain, and death. There was something incredibly different about the red used for the blood, and the brown used for the earth and the angel’s tattered dress. “I was inspired through a recent experience; the holiday season wasn’t very kind to me. In effect, that man did exactly what that demon did to that angel, to me.” I turned around to face the artist, and to my surprise it was the woman who I called Marlene Dietrich! I apologized for the circumstances which she just described, but I congratulated her on this masterpiece. “Thank you for your kind words. Forgive me, I should introduce myself. My name is Asmo Deus. I am from London, but I’ve lived all over England. I can’t stay in one location for an extended period of time.” As she spoke we were walking back towards the statue that I had initially seen her standing by. We continued to discuss art, and when we arrived at the statue her eyes lit up staring at it. She began to speak of it fondly and melodiously, “This piece of art is my most prized creation, and I would never sell it. It is a statue of my sister. She’s been gone for so long. I made this so I can never forget how she looks. She also helps me in a crucial aspect in events like these. I guess you could call her my muse.” There was something in her the way she spoke that suggested an alternate meaning. I was curious as to what she could have possibly meant. I noticed her feeling the pedestal of this statue which in essence seemed odd. I brushed it off and just rationalized it to be a sign of remembrance toward her sister. Then she spoke in a booming voice, but her once lustrous tone now sent a chill through me. “Ladies and gentlemen… I would like to thank you for attending my gallery opening titled ‘Akeldama’. I would like to start the bidding on select pieces. May you all gather around in front of my loving statue?” Everyone congregated around the front of the statue, but it seemed as if they moved in a dream-like state. I was in front of the group and stood closest to Asmo. There was a twinkle in her eye, but not one of joy, I could tell. She then spoke again, “The first piece to ~ 27 ~

be bid on is number 2 titled “The Anguish of the Angel Astrea”. For those who are still unsure it is the painting of the angel having her heart ripped out. I warn you all it may cost an arm and a leg! Let’s start the bidding at…” She looked directly at me, and then her face contorted into the most horrific, and psychotic smile I’ve ever seen. Then she screeched, “…Your life!” She pressed something on the statue’s pedestal and the floor out from beneath us all. There were cries of terror and confusion as we all fell into the darkness of whatever lay under this building. I awoke sometime later in immense pain, but then my senses were suddenly assaulted. My nose was overwhelmed with the smell of copper, and death. I heard screams of anguish and fear surrounding me. Lastly, I saw all the carnage that was surrounding me. There were pools of blood all around me, and mutilated corpses were strewn about. I turned to look to my left and there was a dead body no more than two meters away from me. I thought he was just unconscious until I realized he was turned in an unnatural way. I felt fear and anxiety overflow within me. My instinct was to run, so that’s what I tried to do. I saw a hallway that seemed like an exit, but the second I reached it Asmo appeared and hit me across the head with a large metallic object. Once again, I was knocked unconscious. I’m not sure how long I was out for, but when I awoke I was in a new room. I tried to move but I realized that I was chained to something. I suddenly realized there was a woman screaming in the same room as me. I looked ahead and saw a couple strapped onto a table. This woman in a purple gown, or it was purple at one point, was staring in horror as Asmo latched onto the neck of her lover and drank the blood. Before I could cry out in terror, she had finished with the man. The woman cried out in anguish for her now deceased lover. She began to go between hysterics over the loss of her lover and begging for her life. I could already tell that no matter what she said Asmo would not change her course of action. In the midst of this woman’s cries Asmo picked up a knife on another table. Then with an inexplicable grace she slit the woman’s throat. Her blood just flowed forth into a wide barrel. I cried, and held back from vomiting, as the woman gurgled and took her final breath. Asmo immediately turned her now dark, garnet like eyes toward me, and yelled demanding I shut up. I did so without having any control over it. She smiled revealing her large fangs that were once white, but are now tainted with streaks of crimson across them. She then spoke softly, “Thank you. You may wonder why this is happening aren’t you? Well sweetie I can assure you that this isn’t the first group of people this has happened to. You actually remind me ~ 28 ~

of one of my previous victims, unfortunately he got away. Don’t expect that you will live through this my dear. Since you were incredibly polite to me in the gallery, and indulged me in my reminiscing, I shall explain to you what is going on.” As she spoke she had noticed I was struggling to escape from my bondage. She grabbed me by my cheek roughly and looked right into my eyes, “Stop struggling! You’re chained to the leg of my sister’s statue. You don’t want to hurt my Lucy do you? Her full name is Lucy Furr, we just loved word play. Anyway, let me indulge you on the situation. My sister and I are what you call Empusas. This means we are vampires who originated from Greece, we’re supposed to have this hideous mule legs, but thank heavens for shape-shifting. Am I right? How unappealing would that be in this field! Anyway, we were both artists; well renowned all throughout Europe. Then it was during the French Revolution that I lost my dear Lucy. They beheaded her because of her close ties to Marie Antoinette, she was their resident painter. I paint in honor and memory of my sister. To avenge her, I killed those who brought about her death. If they were men, I would tease and seduce them, but soon after drink their blood. I admired the beautiful hue of blood, so I got the marvelous idea to use it in my paintings. I would kill two victims per night, one for sustenance and one for medium…” As she went on about the loss of her sister I began to observe the surroundings. I had to find an escape; she said that one person got away, so it possible that I had a chance. It was then that I saw that in the far-right corner of the room was a door. It was then that I formulated the plan. She continued to talk, but her question snapped me back to her attention, “Do you recall the brown in the angel painting? Well I learned from experience in the art community that one could use mummies to create a brown pigment. I applied this practice by doing a similar mummification process to my victims, and make them into my brown paint. To each their own, right? Sweeney Todd and Ms. Lovett made their victims into pies and I make mine into art, but I digress. I used this gallery as a ruse to get a bunch of people together because: A) I needed to feed, and B) I plan on painting a mural that will rival the greats, so I needed enough medium for it. It worked perfectly because, forgive my pun, you all fell straight into my trap. Now if you’ll give me a moment I have to prepare their bodies.” Asmo turned back to her most recent victims, and I worked to put my plan into action. I began to rock all my body weight from one side to the other. Eventually I built up enough momentum that the statue rocked with me. Finally, the statue of Lucy tipped over and crashed to the floor. The chains around me were now loose enough that I slid right out. Asmo turned around and shrieked ~ 29 ~

in horror. She turned toward me ferociously and instantly began to launch her attack. As I ran, I realized that, though she seemed to be running, it was more like she moved at a slight jog. Her speed did nothing to diminish the fury radiating from her, almost pulling me in. I ran toward the knife, hid it behind my back, then forced my way into the far-left corner. She reached me and grabbed me by my throat. There was a fire in her eyes, and she yelled, “How could you do that! You destroyed my sister! You’re dead!” She reared her head back ready to rip me to shreds, but it was then that I shoved the knife into her throat. She let out a scream in pain and dropped to the floor. I pulled the knife out and stabbed again, this time through the heart. She lay on the ground in silence and stillness. I screamed out to see if there was anyone else left alive. I found only six other survivors out of the close to one hundred people who were in attendance - four women and only two men. We all ran through that door and up two flights of stairs, which led back into the main room. The room was back to normal, and we ran outside. We called the police, and they arrived soon after. I gave my report to the police, and fled the area. Soon after my report, I moved to the U.S. I searched tirelessly for any reports made about this situation, but there were none. Nothing in the paper, or on the news. The gallery was destroyed and replaced with a boutique called “Traffic People.” Ninety-three lives were lost that day, and not one peep was made. I guess the only people who will know and tell what happened that night will be me, and the six others. You may all think I’m crazy, but I know what I experienced that day. I don’t know how one kills an “empusa,” so if you ever meet a woman named Asmo Deus, just run. Get away from her, unless you truly can destroy her and her kind.

I Will By Emily Murray Of all the things misplaced and forgotten, And of all the things lost and unseen, I am the most silently patient, Waiting for the day you come find me.

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For I know not why you have wandered, Or where you have journeyed off to. But I know you did not mean to stray, Taking my soul along with you. An empty space resides within me, As the piercing silence allows it to grow. And the boundless love I pour out for you, Seems to be taken and swallowed whole. This underappreciated feeling, That once could radiate through an entire room, Has gone unchanged in meaning, But instead rips me into two. For my love cannot be shared, Without allowing the stain of sorrow to show. Therefore, I am left with a painful choice: Live in darkness or let pieces of you go. And before I can choose to be selfish, Time begins to speak for me. For as the days give way to years, You begin to fade from memory. First it was the sound of your sweet voice, Then the warmth of your embrace. I searched in the depths of my heart to find you, Only to see you had drifted quietly, without trace.

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Happiness is woven with grief, Feeling guilt for laughter and light. Frantically trying to remember how to live, Giving way to sleepless nights. It is hard to describe this feeling, Living on while a piece of you dies. It is only known once you've looked love in the face, While death forces your final goodbyes. So, I vow here, in this moment, To live and love as you would have seen fit. Although, I will continue to stay silently patient, Waiting for the day you no longer have to be missed.

Untitled by Jacob Boatman

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2017 Criterion  


2017 Criterion