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THE

CRITERION

EZINE


Cover Artwork: Mali the Golden—A Map of West Africa’s Waterways by Rain Bowrys All text and artwork © individual contributors.


THE CRITERION EZINE – SPRING 2020 EDITION President of the College................................................................................................. Vincent Maniaci Dean, School of Business, Arts and Sciences .......................................................... Susanne T. Swanker Editor-in-Chief................................................................................................................William Steffen Layout....................................................................................................................... Kat Lombard-Cook Featured Artists Isaiah A. Longs Jr.

Blood Brothers (Non-Fiction)...................................................... p 2

Rain Bowrys

Flow (Artwork)..............................................................................p 6

Kyasia William

Ode to Melanin (Poem)................................................................p 7

David Lopez

Culture for the Heart and Soul (Artwork)....................................p 7

Lyanne Y. Rolon Alvarez

Afraid of the Unknown (Poem)....................................................p 8

Brandon Anderson

The Garden (Non-Fiction)............................................................p 9

Anonymous

Direct Dialogue (Non-Fiction)...................................................p 10

Demoni Gilkes

Art from Around the World (Artwork).......................................p 11

Kyle Kalin

Carmilla: The Next Chapter (Fiction).........................................p 12

Regine Winifred

An Interpretation of the Confederate Flag (Artwork)................p 17

Zakala Coffman

Dear Forgotten Friend (Fiction).................................................p 18

Esther Aquino

Red Balloon (Artwork)................................................................p 19

Katelynn Gordner

Ode to Suffering (Poem).............................................................p 20

Jeshua Darnell

Instrument (Artwork)..................................................................p 22

Lyanne Y. Rolon Alvarez

Dialogue (Fiction).......................................................................p 23

Rain Bowrys

Mali the Golden (Artwork).........................................................p 24

Jarred Huggins

One Sentence (Non-Fiction).......................................................p 25

Rebecca Herman

Poverty in College (Non-Fiction)................................................p 25

Emma LeBlanc

Facing Death (Non-Fiction).........................................................p26

Brandon Anderson

Ode to the Janitor (Poem)...........................................................p 27

Margarita Velazco

Me (Artwork)...............................................................................p 27

Anonymous

The Locker Room (Non-Fiction)................................................p 28

Lui Sitama

Instrument—DJ Set (Artwork)...................................................p 28

Roxan Foster

One Sentence (Non-Fiction).......................................................p 29

Vanison Showell

One Sentence (Non-Fiction).......................................................p 29

Zakala Coffman

Time (Poem)................................................................................p 30

Sara Guntin Barreiro

Cultures Around the World (Artwork).......................................p 31

–1–


Blood Brothers

by Isaiah A. Longs Jr. It’s sometime between June and July of 2008. “It’s morphing time!” Those were the words I exclaimed anytime I felt it was necessary for me and my big brother to conquer evil. After all, what could be any better than to re-enact one of the most memorable 90s movies, after watching it for the tenth time that year? My brother never did reject my annoyances, especially when he very well could have been doing something else that was more important. Couch to couch, I leap and jump over space boulders. The face of concentration he wore while engaging in nothing more than a child’s fantasy could never be emulated. His eyebrows draw closer in concentration with each space pirate he shoots for me. I had never felt a bond like that. Then, suddenly to my surprise, “Oh no, my brother! The bad guys got you. I must destroy you now. I’m sorry.” I roll around on the ground and try to subdue my brother under what I think is a substantial amount of force. But then: “Cuco! What the hell is that banging?” It’s my mom, about to lose her mind. “It’s me ma, sorry,” he says. She quickly responded with one of her usual lines. “Yeah, I’m sorry too. Sorry for your mother.” My brother was surprisingly quick to take the blame sometimes. In fact, he only ever took the blame when we were already enjoying each other’s company. The battle goes on anyway. I am just about to subdue him, and he says, “Kill me, go ahead. You have to in order to save the world from people like me.” I hesitate until he takes my dollar-store-bought Nerf sword and pretends to drive it into his chest. That moment was all too real in my eight-year-old mind. “That’s not how the game was supposed to go, Cuco,” I say. He responds, “Yeah, well, sometimes you have to get rid of the bad guys even if they were once good.” I tell him, “That doesn’t make sense. It could be better than that. Stories that end like that are stupid.” Moments later, I’m waiting in the kitchen for my brother Cuco to get out of the shower. He truly did take living-room horseplay to an extreme level, even as a nineteen-year-old. The sound of my own heels banging against the deep freezer on which I am not supposed to be sitting, drives me crazy. Frustration begins to grow in me. My mom stares at me, asking me, “What do you want? Is it to input the cheat codes for you in your game? Because I can do it, I think?” I tell my mom it is okay; I tell her that he never spends time with me. Although not too long after I say that, I feel like what I would describe today as a scumbag. I sit in my room. It is quiet and dark, an unfamiliar setting to me if my brother is around. Just moments later, Cuco, my second oldest brother, walks in the door in a hurry. “Okay, I have fifteen minutes to play before I have to leave,” he says, barely breathing. I give him a befuddled looked and ask in disgust, “Why are you coughing? Why are you so tired? Where are you going? Can I come?” “No! I’m just going to a friend’s house.” I left it alone. I was just glad I had a friend there. Someone who understood what I couldn’t and who was willing to make light of all the frustrating moments when I tried to learn something new. Eventually I –2–


became frustrated. “Whack!” There goes his PlayStation remote, I thought. Actually, my first thought was, which way am I going to ball up before I get the classic big brother beat down. To my surprise, I just looked at him. “Don’t get mad at me because you can’t do the cheat codes, fatty,” he yelled with a stern voice. I had heard all of his insults a thousand and one times throughout the years of arguing with him. I was super overweight when I was a child. Sometimes he took that as a point to attack, and other times he would give me insults to say back to kids who would pick on me. It was inevitable that this verbal altercation would turn physical, and when it did, my mom rushed inside the room as if she possessed the might of Zeus. The even weirder aspect about the relationship I had with Cuco is that sometimes it took someone else punishing me for what I did for him to ultimately end up defending me in the end. In the case of Cuco’s Play Station remote, I was yelled at and threatened with having my own PlayStation sold back to the store. But in contrast to what one would assume might come from my brother, he told my mom that she was going too far, and that it was “Never that serious.” This often led to my brother attempting to defend my wrong-doings, and then both of us being scolded as a result. More times than not, the entire family was calmer than before because of the cluster of emotions that took place beforehand. Cuco’s plans, for whatever reason, had been postponed to later that night, so in the meantime he took me to his old middle school, Van Sickle, to play basketball during open gym. Walking on to the court with so many older kids was nothing short of intimidating. My brother yelled to a random group of older guys, “Yo, my brother is playing too today.” The look in his eyes was not the look that gave those guys on the court any question of whether he was asking or telling them to let me play. My brother already had a reputation for being involved in some things that he shouldn’t have been involved in, which surely gave him an intimidation factor. I knew my brother enough at that age to know that he would be willing to fight anyone for his family—verbally, physically, or any other way that could be thought of by the opponent. “Just make sure you step with this foot here, Isaiah.” Looking back at it, I know I was terrible at whatever move he was teaching me. Cuco would still stand there though, hunched over with his hands on his knees, his eyes focused on whatever movements I could pick up from watching him. At the time, he was an astronomically better athlete than me. Not just because he was older than me either. Some of the basketball players would come up to me and ask, “Do you know how to shoot, big man?” I replied, “No, but my brother is going to show me how!” Simultaneously Cuco would come back from getting an escaped ball, staring at whoever he had been talking to me until they walked away in peace. It was soon dark, and I was looking forward, as usual, to telling him about the list of girls I planned to ask out in my fourth-grade class at the dinner table. Cuco just nodded his head most of the time, but it made me feel like he felt some type of concern with what I was saying. The last vivid memory I have of Cuco that night was me waking up to the sound of his friend yelling for him to come outside. “Cuco! Come on, bro. We have to go downtown. They’re fighting. We got to go!” My dad stopped by the door and calmly said to my brother, “Cuco, you go out there if you want, but I’m telling you, they’re knuckle-heads. Think about your mom and what you would be putting her through if you walked out that door.” I heard the slow creak of the steps from where I lay, barley awake on my couch. I saw my bother dragging himself upstairs to his room. –3–


Sunday, May 12th, 2019: Mother’s Day “Did you buy your cap and gown yet, Isaiah?” my dad asks. “Yeah dad, I’m all set.” Basketball replays in the background against the usual sound of my mom kicking the basement door open to bring up the dirty clothes basket. “Mom, do you need help?” I ask. She yells back at me all the way from the kitchen, “No, I got it! I’m fine.” My hands are cramping from the constant writing for my final projects before my last year as a gradeschool student. I take a quick break and check my Instagram. The usual. Clickbait political stories, kids I know from my school who are pretending to be tough in pictures, and the occasional Power Ranger fan art picture that gives me a nostalgic daydream. Everyone is doing their own thing, and I’m hard at work on a research project. My job is to find data on possible sources of bad relationships amongst peers in schools and how they correlate to relationships at... “Isaiah,” my mom says in a still voice. I instantly know what she wants. It’s eight o’clock at night and I don’t know if I really want to put up with this another night. I argue with myself in my head on my way to grab the phone from my mom’s hand. “Isaiah, are you dumb? Just talk!” I contemplate, “I want to, but it would be cool if I didn’t either, I guess.” My mom hands me the phone and I rub my eyes for no reason to try to hide the blank look of carelessness. But then I rub my head in uncertainty, questioning whether I should call this emotion “carelessness.” I can only rub my eyes and fidget my hands for so long in this situation because time is money. I quickly try to compute a list of topics. “Football, basketball, school, school, school…dammit I can’t think of anything.” I pull the phone up to my ear. “Hey, Cuco.” I get no hello in return. Instantly he says, “I love you.” And I whole heartedly reply, “I love you.” We run our usual routine of the same questions. He asks: Have you been okay? How is your knee healing up? How’s school? Are you excited to be graduating? Do you miss training? Then it’s my turn to ask my usual questions: Are they treating you okay? Are you staying out of trouble? Are you sleeping okay? On both ends, it’s usually the same answers. I say to him, “You should take advantage and start reading up on some of the trades you might go into when you get out.” An awkward silence. My mom stews down at her cigarette tray and brushes her hair back in disbelief. “Not yet. They won’t let me into the library yet. Not at this jail.” I start swinging my foot around in circles, leaning against my kitchen countertop. “Well, are you ready for the Jets this year?” They’re his favorite football team. “Yeah, we’re supposed to be getting a new wide receiver. Can you actually look up the trade rumors for me please?” he asks. “Yeah, hold on,” I say as I scramble to find my phone, which I hoped I would not need. In my mind, my mom, my brother’s girlfriend, and his two older sons are staring at me. In my mind they’re wondering why I even deserve to use up any of their time talking to him. I start to feed into the uncomfortableness, but I don’t quite give the phone back yet. I manage to bring up some new topics—just about girls I’ve been hanging out with, but just as friends. It feels as if the flow of our conversation resembles a bro–4–


ken record player that occasionally decides to work. Every time I have a conversation with him leading up to this most memorable conversation, I am haunted by the uncomfortableness of always discovering a new privilege he has no right to because he is incarcerated. It always feels as if I am the kid in the classroom who is caught cursing by the teacher. After a few laughs and some newly found topics to discuss with my brother during that conversation, I feel as if I could say much more than what I end up saying, and say it without sounding like a babbling idiot. I never looked forward to entering the conversation, but I was also glad I took part in it. Soon after, it reminded me of the leap of faith I would take into a mosh pit of compiled pillows and blankets that my brother had constructed when we played whichever imaginary game I demanded. I didn’t like the feeling leading up to it, but I was free once it was over. And that is what I spent the rest of the night trying to figure out: I questioned whether that feeling should be there or not. August 2019 Over the summer, I worked at a camp that was primarily for kids with special needs and for kids who have come from unfortunate places in their lives. One little boy attended the camp with his foster brother. They had lived together for several years, and although they were foster brothers, I had expected them to be a lot closer. A coworker of mine asked one of the boys while at the basketball court, “How come you are so mean to your brother at camp?” “I don’t know,” my camper said, shrugging his shoulders and carelessly kicking up dirt, “but he probably won’t be my brother for a long time anyway.” That was a scary thing to watch, and it didn’t get rid of the tension that was present every time I spoke to my brother on the phone. But what it did show me is that one will feel how they feel. The question of whether or not they should they feel that way is of less practical use. I walked away from that experience learning to take what I have and to be grateful for it, even if it is a feeling of uncomfortableness and dread when it comes to talking to my brother—my brother, who put himself in the position he is in by going against everything I teach kids not to do today. That’s what my goal is: to prove to Cuco that the good guy turned bad really doesn’t have to be sacrificed like he once thought in that battle. He’ll be able to work with what he has once he is free, and he will make the right decisions, just as he did when he was called to fight that night.

–5–


Above: Flow by Rain Bowrys Artist Statement: It is intended to portray motion. It represents the movement of energy throughout the world and is inspired by lyricist J. Cole in his music video, “Change.” This piece also reflects meaning held within the song. I highly recommend listening to it if you wish for a deeper understanding of this image.

Opposite: Culture for the Heart and Soul by David Lopez Artist Statement: This piece is to honor those of African American culture. I made a collage of very memorable African American figures. The collage forms a heart to resemble life and is shaped to honor the great lives in the collage. I chose these people because all of them are a part of African American culture and history. And all the photos used are the iconic photos of these people.

–6–


ODE TO MELANIN By Kyasia Williams

Oh melanin, How beautiful you are. Secretly the most beautiful of them all. Rich like honey, Vibrant and captivating! As your existence has stood the test of time Manipulated and mutilated, Yet here you are. Oh melanin, You come in different shades, From brown like the changing autumn leaves, To as black as blackberries. From as bright as the sun on a summer’s day, To as dark as the night on a chilly winter’s day. With hair that varies like our tones, Some with the texture of the softest silk, Some with the coils of a tight spring. Able to be braided and tied, In ways that makes people wish they had tried. Oh, how no matter the shade and curl, You glow ever so bright! Rich with radiance that captures everyone’s sight. Oh melanin, We’ve seen you change the status quo, Breaking barriers each generation. For you are What makes the world around us unique! Without you melanin, I’m sure you can see how everything would be bleak. Oh melanin, Thank you for making us Us. Though some may hate, Some may embrace. Though some may feel ashamed to be, I am appreciative of thee.

–7–


Afraid of The Unknown by Lyanne Y. Rolon Alvarez

Sitting in my car, waiting for the lights to change. I was feeling anxious, wondering how her day went. I got out of my car rushing my legs to walk faster. When her gaze stopped me, instantly, I felt like a bucket of cold water had fallen on top of me. She tried to walk fast, desperately trying to get to me. She couldn’t hold her tears any longer; I couldn’t hold them either. I didn’t know how big her fear was, but my heart felt it all. Almost running to the car her eyes were screaming at me to take her away from school. The clouds were hurrying me to get home, the same way her tears were screaming for a hug. “What’s wrong, princess?” “I don’t like the school, the teachers, students. I don’t like nothing. My head hurts; I feel like I’m going to have an anxiety attack.” We were on our way home; the radio was too loud. She turned it off. My love, it’s your first day of school. You must give yourself time to know the teachers, your classmates, and the school. I know it can be scary and intimidating, the first day of middle school. The first time of everything can be scary; the unknown is intimidating. “You say that because you are an adult. Tell me one time you felt scared.” When I knew that I was having you in my belly I felt very happy, but when the time of having you in my arms came, I felt very nervous and scared. I was afraid of the unknown. “What do you mean?” I didn’t know how painful it was going to be to have you in my arms. All the contractions I felt were a new experience for me because I didn’t know what to expect from the next one. I wondered if the next contraction was going to be painful or not. But what I knew was that all the tears, sweat, and the pain had a purpose in my life. I was willing to go through anything to have you in my arms. When I saw your face, I forgot the past ten hours of pain and fear. All to have you in my life! We are going to feel scared for different reasons in our lives, but it is up to us to not let the scare intimidate us. The sun came out. She smiled. WE GOT HOME!

–8–


The Garden

by Brandon Anderson Madison Square Garden is located in midtown Manhattan between 7th and 8th Avenues in New York City. Nicknamed “The Garden” or MSG, the arena is home to the New York Rangers and the New York Knicks. The Garden does not only house the Rangers and the Knicks; it also hosts many other events— such as boxing matches, wrestling events, concerts, and UFC fights. The Garden first opened on February 11, 1968, where the first event was a Rangers game. The Garden symbolizes home to native New Yorkers; it’s where rising basketball players look to play their championship game, where people dream to perform. MSG is one of the few centerpieces of New York. All the history and memories of millions are all in one building. Some of the Garden’s most memorable events are the 1970 Knicks NBA Championship, the Rangers 1994 Stanley Cup, and “the fight of the century” between Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier in 1971. The mecca of basketball, Madison Square Garden was resurrected on Wednesday, October 16, 2019 as the New York Knicks started their basketball season. The Knicks, who have been among the bottom teams in the NBA, look to turn there misfortunes around with their newly-constructed roster. They are hoping to bring that energy and enthusiasm back to the Garden and rejuvenate the fan base with a winning season and playoff berth this year. The Knicks have been a longtime staple of the Garden. The Garden was the only basketball arena in New York until 2012 when the Barclays Center was built. The Garden will soon be electric with all the assets the Knicks were able to acquire as they seek redemption. Why is MSG so special? For one, the Garden offers world-class facilities and provides impeccable media coverage. It is an epitome of live sports and entertainment and much more. Madison Square Garden has remained the most celebrated center of New York life since its foundation was laid in 1879. The Rolling Stones named it “the coolest arena” in the US, while Billboard labeled it the “venue of the decade.” Overall, MSG is iconic to the state of New York, and it is known around the world. It is the home of so many memories to sports and music fans who have travelled far and wide to see an event there. It is second to none; it is home to some of the richest sports teams in America. If you are from New York, your dream might be to come back to your hometown and perform in front of a sold-out crowd at the Garden. Madison Square Garden is one of the best places you can ever go in America. Its reputation precedes it. Furthermore, its legacy will endure for generations to come.

–9–


Direct Dialogue by Anonymous

As I walked into the coffee shop, my heart felt like it was about to fly out of my chest. I saw him sitting there, his blonde floppy hair and his ocean eyes looking into mine. As I made my way over, I remembered why exactly I was here. I needed to ask him why he did what he did to me, because I have been hurting for about a month now trying to figure out why he would cheat on me after dating me for three years. I gave him everything that I could, and it still was not enough. I needed closure, and I told myself this was going to be what I needed. But as I neared him, I realized that this might’ve been a mistake. Nick: Hi, you look good. Penny: Thank you. So do you. We sat there in an awkward silence and ordered our drinks and scones. He kept looking at me, but I could not bring myself to look at him, worried I would cave and take him back. Nick: So, what have you been up to? Any guys that I should know about? Penny: Nope. Not that it is any of your business. Nick: Well then, sorry for asking a simple question. With the eye roll he gave me, I decided to just jump out as ask him what I had been wondering for months now. Penny: Well, I have a question for you. Nick: Finally, she starts a conversation. Penny: What made you think it was okay to cheat on me with my best friend? Was I not enough for you? Or did you not love me? Or... what even happened? His face turned bright red and the tough guy that I was looking at a few minutes before started to slouch in his chair, avoiding eye contact. Penny: So you’re just not going to answer that? You’re just not going to talk at all anymore? Nick: I don’t really know what to say. Penny: Just tell me why you did what you did. It’s not really all that hard to do, is it? Nick: It’s not that it’s not hard to do. I just don’t want you to leave here feeling more upset. And God forbid I see you cry one more time. Penny: It’s really not that hard to explain something that you did not once, but twice. Nick: Fine. You really want to know why I did what I did? Penny: Yes, Nick. I really do. Nick: For the first year of our relationship, I was so in love with you. I gave you everything I had and more. You were the love of my life, and I would have done anything for you. I fell out of love with you, though. I didn’t feel the same. Penny: Why didn’t you just tell me that? Did you love me at all after that first year? –10–


Nick: I was going to tell you, but I didn’t know how to. I realized that you were still going to give me everything that you had, and I asked myself why I would give that up when I could so easily just stay with you and use you and then have another girl I actually like? I never meant for you to find out about the other girl. But when you did, I wasn’t that upset when you broke up with me. Penny: So you were just using me to get what you wanted for the last two years that we were “dating”? Nick: I mean if that’s how you want to put it, then I guess you can put it like that. Penny: So you really did not feel anything for me for two years? Nick: I don’t understand why you can’t get that through your head. I. WAS. USING. YOU. After he said that, I decided that this was not something that I wanted to be a part of anymore. I did not want to associate myself with him and I no longer needed a reason to know why he did what he did. He was someone that I didn’t know anymore, and someone that I did not want to associate myself with. I got up to leave and started to put my coat back on. Nick: Yo, where are you going? Penny: I got all of the answers that I need. I do not feel the need to talk to you anymore or to even know you anymore. You hurt me more than I have ever been hurt before in my life, and that is not fair. You made me feel so small for so many years and I am finally ready to live my life and not have to worry about you all the time. I was there for you when times got hard for you and you were never there for me. And you just used me. I hope that I never have to see you again or talk to you again. Have a nice life, Nick. I hope you’re happy with the decision you’ve made. As I walked out of the cafe that day, I could feel his eyes following me out the door. That was the last conversation that I had with him. He has called me and texted me and tried to talk to me when I would see him in our small town, but I have never responded or even given him the time of day. I still have trust issues, and I could never get back with someone who would treat me like that. Learning to move on is something that is hard for a lot of people, especially when they are hurt so bad.

Art from Around the World by Demoni Gilkes –11–


Carmilla: The Next Chapter By Kyle Kalin

After her classes, she set out for the museum into another gloomy rainy day. Leaving the Uber and walking into the museum, she realized that she would likely be the only one there aside from the curator, who let her in for free, remembering her from the day before. Cristen instantly hurried to the statue, eager to examine it one last time. This time, however, as she paced around the statue, she noticed something on the base, something terrifying and confusing. On the bottom of the statue was a faded but still distinguishable insignia, her family crest. Goosebumps instantly ran down her arms and legs and a chill ran down her spine. Her heart began to beat faster, but her excitement was interrupted by a hand on her back. She turned, expecting to see the curator behind her, but found a devilishly familiar sight, the girl with the umbrella. And at this moment, she realized the girl resembled the statue. “We have a lot to talk about, Cristen. I have been waiting so long to meet you.” Terrified and trembling, Cristen managed to mumble, “Who are you?” The girl smiled and responded, “A very old friend. But you can call me Mila.” Some months earlier… Cristen Hollis had lived what many would consider an average life. She grew up in rural New Hampshire knowing the same people seemingly from birth to when she graduated from high school. Life had been a typical roller coaster for her, as it is for many, but the prospect of going away for school had given her a new outlook on life. She had no problems with her home, her family, or her friends. But she felt as though it was time to leave Woodstock, New Hampshire for new experiences. She would miss her family and the White Mountains she roamed with her friends, but she knew there was more out there for her to find and conquer. With that, when the University of North Carolina’s acceptance packet came in the mail, she knew it was her next step. Four months later, she was on campus and ready for her new adventure. Cristen longed for her family, but she was comforted by the necklace her grandmother had given her before she left for school. It was a silver locket on a box silver chain that shined bright when the light caught it from any angle. On the outside, the locket brandished a large engraved “C” and the elaborate family crest, which, according to her grandmother, the family had used for generations. The inside held a picture of Cristen’s parents and grandparents to keep her grounded when she felt homesick. The locket rarely left her neck, and when it did, it stayed close by, even on trips to the shower, trips out with friends, and to bed every night. Her first semester was going well. She was particularly fond of a specific European history class. Initially, she didn’t think she would be interested in the course that she had to take to fulfill a gen ed. After a few weeks, however, she became involved in the stories of Romania and Transylvania, where she knew from her grandmother older generations of her family had lived before emigrating to America. The old folktales and traditions of the 1800s were fascinating to her, primarily because some of the traditions were still practiced by her grandparents, though in a slightly different form. Because of this, she was exhilarated to learn that her class would be taking a trip to a local art museum to examine some artifacts from the era they were currently studying. Upon hearing this announcement, she left the class with a smile on her face, and the next day seemed to fly by as she prepared for her trip to the museum.

When the day came, the weather was not cooperative. It was a gloomy overcast day with clouds –12–


that looked like they would give way at any second. As they arrived, the class all but ran into the concrete building to flee the now blistering rain. Cristen joined them, but she quickly realized once inside that she had forgotten her notebook on the bus, which was still parked outside. Eager not to miss any of the tour, she hurried back outside where she found the rain had intensified into a torrential downpour. With no umbrella, she prepared to embrace the trip back to the bus, but she was stopped by a hand on her back as she was about to set off. She turned to see a girl about her age who she assumed was in her class, but who she hadn’t met before. The girl’s face was slender and soft in appearance with eyes that shined grey against the overcast sky. “You’re not going to run out there in this, are you?” the girl asked. “At least let me come with you with the umbrella.” Cristen nodded, and they took off for the bus. Their feet were soaked as they splashed their way to the bus, where Cristen had to bang on the door for the bus driver to open up. She quickly grabbed her notebook and hurried back with the girl to the door. Once under the overhang, Cristen turned to thank the girl that had helped her, only to find no one standing there. The girl at her side seemed to have vanished. Perhaps she simply walked away. Either way, Cristen went inside eager to catch up with the tour. To the majority of the class, the artifacts were of little interest. But to Cristen, they were amazing, and prompted furious scribbling throughout the tour. After the tour, the class was brought before a marble statue of a dainty looking girl from the early 1800s. It was explained that not much was known about the statue aside from when it was made, and even less was known about who was depicted in the work. Cristen studied the statue intently. Something about it attracted her. The bust seemed almost familiar in a way that Cristen could not explain. Inevitably, her investigation was forced to stop as she was pulled away by her classmates, who were eager to leave and return to school. That night, Cristen could not sleep. She simply could not stop thinking about the statue at the museum. The raging thunderstorm outside her dorm only exacerbated her restless mind. The depiction seemed so life-like, so real to her, and so familiar. She tossed and turned until the loudest crack of thunder she had ever heard prompted her to shoot up in her bed. She looked around as everything seemed to shake with the tremendous force of the thunder. Her roommate was fast asleep and oblivious to the commotion. Unable to go back to sleep, Cristen decided to do some research about the statue at the museum. She learned that the statue was discovered in an abandoned castle in the hills of Transylvania and had just recently been imported to the United States. As she searched, her fascination with the statue grew, particularly with its eyes. The eyes still seemed to glow, despite the two centuries of wear. They looked real, as if they were staring back at her from her computer screen. She stared intently, trying to discern where she recognized the face from. Just then, another bolt of lightning danced across the sky, followed by a resounding crack of thunder. Suddenly, Cristen was alerted to the presence of someone behind her from their reflection in her laptop screen. She turned to see a girlish figure, perhaps the same one depicted in the statue, standing menacingly, yet absolutely still, as if frozen in time, over her sleeping roommate. Cristen attempted to scream to warn her roommate, but her voice was frozen in fear. No matter how hard she tried, she couldn’t get out a warning. Then, without warning, as if prompted by her attempt to scream, the figure dashed across the room at incredible speed, pausing just long enough for Cristen to catch sight of its steel-colored eyes and its shining pearl-glossed canines that protruded from its mouth. The teeth instantaneously found their way through the sensitive, pale skin of Cristen’s neck, producing a wave of shock, butterflies, and an ever so slight pain that consumed her body. The overload of her senses caused Cristen to close her eyes. –13–


When she opened them, she found herself asleep at her desk. Instantly, she felt for her neck, which the girl’s teeth had penetrated so effortlessly. But to her surprise, she found no evidence of such an event. “It was so real,” she said to herself. “What was?” her waking roommate asked. Cristen, at a lack for words, simply said, “I need to go back to the museum.” In the present… “How do you know my name?” “I’ve followed you since you were very young—since before you were born, actually. You wouldn’t believe me if I told you how long I have been waiting to meet you.” Taken aback and frightened by Mila’s strange words, Cristen quickly scanned the room around her as the rain peppered the windows above her. Cristen was looking for any way to get away from this crazy girl. “I wouldn’t do that if I were you,” said Mila starkly. “Do what?” asked Cristen. “Try to run. You won’t get far. I’m faster than you think,” Mila chuckled devilishly. How could she have known what she was thinking, Cristen wondered. Immediately after this thought, however, Cristen heard Mila’s voice in her mind. “Please don’t be too afraid, there’s a lot I can do that you would not understand. Like I said though, I need to talk to you. Can I buy you a coffee?” Mila extended her hand confirming that Cristen wasn’t going crazy. Mila could read her mind and speak to her within it without speaking. Cristen realized that she didn’t really have a choice in the matter and reluctantly agreed to talk with Mila, who turned, motioning for Cristen to follow, and saying playfully, “That’s the spirit.” When they walked outside, the rain had stopped, despite the gloomy sky remaining with sparse beams of sunlight breaking through the cloud cover like spears of light. They began the short walk to the café down the street from the museum. Upon reaching and entering the café, Mila asked what Cristen wanted. She motioned for her to sit down until she returned with the drinks. Cristen sat alone, still scared of the mysterious girl who had all but kidnapped her. At least she was happy to be somewhere in public view. When Mila returned with Cristen’s Latte, she sat facing Cristen and seemed to stare into her very soul with her almost metallic eyes. Once again, Cristen heard her voice in her head. “I feel it’s only fair that you get to ask your questions first. These people cannot hear my answers, so just think of what you would like to ask me, and I will answer.” Confused but intrigued by the concept, Cristen nodded. She looked at Mila began to think of what she wanted to ask her. “Who are you? Where did you come from? What do you mean you’ve been following me? And how can you speak to me like this?” Still somewhat startled, Cristen again heard Mila’s voice in her head as she chuckled, “I have gone by many names over the years, but today I am Mila. I admittedly do not know where I was from originally. I have been on the move for many years. And I can speak to you like this because of a certain condition I have. As for following you, it is hard to explain, but to make it simple, I have been with your family for generations.” Cristen sipped her coffee, still desperately confused. Again she thought, “You keep mentioning the years you’ve been around, but yet you look like you’re my age. How old are you, exactly?” –14–


“In all honesty, I don’t know. Maybe 250, or around there. The years tend to blend together,” responded Mila telepathically. Cristen thought she was joking at first. How could this girl who looked no older than twenty be over 200 years old? In fact, how could anyone be? “It’s another symptom of my condition,” responded Mila. Cristen was surprised that Mila was still listening to her thoughts, and she realized she would have to be more careful. Cristen pressed on. “What is this condition you keep talking about? And considering it doesn’t seem like we are going anywhere anytime soon, what do you mean you’ve been around my family for generations?” “Well, it depends how you spin it, Cristen. Some people have called it witchcraft over the years. Some have called it possession. Some prefer just plain demonhood. But the best way I could explain it to you in your time is Vampirism. I have been with your family since the 1800’s when I met the love of my life, your long-forgotten ancestor Laura, of whom you are the direct descendant and who you resemble very much.” Cristen sat stunned in her chair. She was frozen from head to toe with fear, curiosity, and confusion. It couldn’t be a real-life vampire, could it? And on top of that, one that knew her ancestor. “Prove it,” she thought. “Believe it, Sunshine,” remarked Mila, placing a locket on the table that was identical to Cristen’s, but obviously much older. The fear brought back memories of the nightmare Cristen had had the other night, which prompted her to ask, “Was that you in my dorm the other night?” “Of course it was.” “You bit me!” Cristen shouted out loud, attracting the attention of the only other two customers in the café who gave both Cristen and Mila an odd look. Cristen apologized to the room at large and stared back at Mila expecting one hell of a response. “I saw how long you spent researching my statue, and I wanted to come to see you. But when you turned around, you were going to scream and wake your roommate, so I did the only thing I could think of. I put you to sleep with my bite and put you to bed hoping I would see you at the museum today.” Angered but beginning to understand, Cristen shrugged and said, “So what do you want from me?” Mila smiled and said as politely as she could out loud, “I want to get to know you. And I want you to get to know me. I meant what I said when I said you look and act just like Laura, and I have waited almost a century to meet someone like her again. And now you are my chance.” Taken aback and flustered by the apparent weakness being displayed by the seemingly immortal being in front of her, Cristen was unsure of how to react. Was she really just asked out by a vampire? “What the hell does that even mean?” barked Cristen again, bringing stares from everyone in the café. Mila sensed the other coffee-drinkers’ mounting annoyance, and suggested that she and Cristen leave the café for her home, where they could continue their conversation. Cristen, having gained some trust for Mila, agreed, and they left together for the Uber Mila had called. Upon arriving at the apartment, Cristen looked over the dilapidated building that seemed to be barely standing, let alone up to code, and reluctantly followed Mila inside. Walking through the door, Cristen was amazed at the room she saw before her—an impossibly clean living room filled with luxurious leather furniture, pieces of art, spotless carpets, and a beautiful crystal coffee table. Mila took a seat on the sofa and asked if Cristen would like something to drink or some food. “I don’t have much, but I am sure –15–


I could find you something to eat,” Mila added. Cristen declined, not feeling any hunger or thirst. She felt only a burning curiosity about her new companion. Mila got up and went into another room while Cristen sat on the sofa and began to wonder about all she had been through that day. But quickly, another thought took control of her mind, and once again she was mortally terrified. If Mila was what she claimed to be, was Cristen about to be her next meal? Returning to the room, Mila began, “I was waiting for that question.” This caught Cristen by surprise, who again had forgotten that Mila could hear her thoughts. “But no, I am not going to kill you. Again, I really just want to get to kn—” “You kill people?” interrupted Cristen. Mila, embarrassed by the question, reluctantly answered, “I have gotten better in my ways over time. There was a point when, yes, I would feed on whoever I came across. But you become wiser with age, and I know now that that was wrong.” Somewhat relieved despite the vagueness of the answer, Cristen pressed on. “So how do you ‘feed,’ as you call it?” Mila responded somewhat reluctantly, “I feed off of animal blood most days. It is so easy to get in today’s world; it’s great for me. But because I care for you, I must be honest. On a rare occasion, the need and desire become too great, and I do need human blood to sustain me.” Seeing Cristen’s terrified expression, Mila continued on. “I know that isn’t what you wanted to hear, but again, I want to be honest with you, and I want to explain something to you. While I do have to feed on humans on rare occasions as I said, I have become better in my ways. I only feed on the worst of the worst in society; that has become my way of sustaining myself without hurting good people. I hope you can understand. In fact, you have seen some reports of my feeding. Do you remember the killing of those two murderers in Lincoln last year”? Cristen always believed that people who did awful things deserved to be punished just as awfully. She vividly remembered the news story of the two men who had killed five girls, all around Cristen’s age, and how relieved she was when she had learned they had been killed themselves. “It’s a lot to take in, but I can understand what you are trying to do and the good you mean by only going after terrible people like those men.” Relieved, Mila smiled and took in a big breath to calm her nerves. “I am just going to come out and say it. I have always been drawn to you, and you to me. Ever since you were given the locket that matches mine, you have been drawn to me, and I to you. That is why you came down to North Carolina for school. That is why you were fascinated by my statue. And that is how I found you at last. We are destined for one another, Cristen. I know it is a lot to hear, but I have waited so long for you to come along. Please forgive my eagerness and give me a chance.” For the first time she could remember, Mila was at another’s mercy. Startled by the outward emotion, Cristen looked at the nervous vampire in front of her. She had to admit Mila was absolutely beautiful. Cristen had never told anyone, but she always felt that she was more attracted to other girls than to boys. She hoped college would be her chance to explore these feelings. As she continued to look over Mila’s slender body, finally locking eyes with her cold steel pupils, Cristen blushed, and thought—knowing that Mila would hear her thoughts—“How can I say no? How many people can say they’ve dated a vampire?” –16–


An Interpretation of the Confederate Flag by Regine Winifred Artist Statement: This artwork is my interpretation of the confederate flag. I purposely had the stars falling off, showing as time goes on there are more and more people who do not stand for racism and are willing to fight against it. The white cotton balls around the flag represent cotton picking, a huge part of my African American culture and representing slavery, a part of history that should not be forgotten. The images at the bottom with the brown represents Henry “Box” Brown’s story, who shipped himself to freedom in the 19th century.

–17–


Dear Forgotten Friend by Zakala Coffman

Tracy grunted as she pushed the latch to her former treehouse, unlocking the door, which slowly creaked open. She climbed inside. A subtle sound of disgust escaped as her palm caught its first cobweb upon entry and then another seconds later. “Fuck!” She cursed the moment her head bumped into one of the beams belonging to the wooden roof. Her old hideout was proving to be much smaller than she remembered. Faint light seeped in through the cracks of the wood that constructed her playhouse. The interior looked as abandoned and as old as it felt. Dust showered the floor, and more cobwebs with spiders attached sat in the farthest corners. The drape of old weathered cloth of the small window danced in the wind as she tried to make herself comfortable. Her neck felt stiff as it tilted to keep from bumping into yet another object. Her favorite toy chest sat under the window with its yellow paint chipped and faded. “What took you so long?” A shiver ran down her spine as Tracy’s eyes glanced across the treehouse floor, her eyebrows knitting together. “Who’s there?” Silence filled the space as Tracy found nobody to match the voice. She readjusted herself and moved to the window, pushing aside the curtain to spy outside. “Hello? Is anyone out there?” No response. Tracy slowly dropped the curtain and moved back with slight confusion and discomfort. Surely, someone had spoken. Maybe she was imagining things, or maybe she overheard the neighbors just a yard over or something, but someone had said something, right? Tracy tried to reason with herself and to come up with an explanation. Two minutes later, satisfied that whatever she heard was probably a rush of the wind outside against the old wood of the treehouse, harking back to all the times as a child she had thought monsters were outside her bedroom window or worse, Tracy gave one more glance around her old playground. “It’s been a while, huh?” She smiled, then started for the exit, the wood creaking underneath her. “Are you leaving already?” It was the same voice from earlier. Tracy stopped in her tracks, convinced it had been a voice after all—a voice that came from within the treehouse. More eerily, she began to suspect the voice had come from her toy chest. Slowly, she turned around. Inching her way closer, Tracy hesitated before lifting open the lid. What she saw she was not prepared for. Sitting up on its own was her old teddy bear, its ear still split from the time her brother threatened to cut it off for tattling on him. What frightened her was the waving of her old teddy. It smiled, then frowned. “You aren’t leaving already, are you? You just got here…” Tracy tried hard not to freak out. “What?” “You said you would come back, so I waited and waited but you never did…” His expression looked even sadder than a second ago, his little fluffy head drooping. “Then finally you came back. But why are you leaving again...without me?” –18–


Something tugged at Tracy’s heartstrings, melting her frightened heart, as she watched him. “I... I’m sorry?” She took in a deep breath as the teddy bear raised its head. “Did you forget about me?” Guilt took over the shock, confusion, and fright. “No... I mean yes... Yes, I did…” “But you promised... you said you wouldn’t forget. You’d come back for me. Does that mean you lied?” His little teddy bear heart ached. Tears were forming in her eyes as she tried to explain herself. “I know… I didn’t lie. I just forgot. Life happened. I went off to school and then puberty came and college and relationships. Heartbreak. I’m so sorry I forgot you.” She leaned down and picked up the teddy bear. “I really am sorry, Mr. Snuggie.” Mr. Snuggie sighed in response. “I forgive you, but are you still going to leave without me?” “No. I might have forgotten you, but I’m not going to leave without you this time.” The teddy bear smiled. Tracy crawled her way through and climbed out of her treehouse, holding him close. Tracy never played with Mr. Snuggie again, but she did keep him with her wherever she went. When she had children, Tracy passed him on to them, and they passed him on to their children. Mr. Snuggie lived on, happy as can be. Red Balloon by Esther Aquino Artist Statement: Banksy is one of the most controversial street artists in the world. However his identity remains unknown. He has worked with many different types of street art media and street art types. The most interesting thing about his artwork is that his art combines subversive humor with social and political commentary. One of his popular art pieces that stood out to me was his piece called “Balloon girl.” The work depicts a young girl, whose hair and dress are blowing in the wind, reaching for—or releasing—a red, heart-shaped balloon that has slipped away. The red balloon evokes fragility or what it stands for: innocence, dreams, hope, and love. Whether you see the girl as losing the baloon or about to catch it, it can be interpreted as a loss of innocence or the arrival of hope, love, and dreams. This gave me inspiration in a way. I wanted to portray how our society and the world is. The body—person/man—represents humanity as a whole. The bpody itself is broken up because in my eyes society today is broken and dammaged. To this day we still struggle to find peace in this world. Inequality, poverty, racial and religious conflicts, government corruption, climate change, and even now with the Corona Virus. However the red balloon is floating above humanity, illustrating the fact that there is still hope, love, and the arrival of something that’ll give us answers, or somewhat heal the human race. –19–


Ode to Suffering

By Katelynn Gordner Hands shaking, heart bleeding Can’t stand up, feet keep slipping Down, down, down Face against the ground, Face to face with Suffering The weight of Suffering is crippling I can’t get up Or do I not want to? Flat, flat, flat Flat against the ground Face to face with Suffering Suffering is like a plague that spreads to your inner man to the chronic point where even your Heart and Mind agree (they no longer bicker, or fight, or wrestle between their hope and logic, They become friends Like one of the same they agree) That this is death I’m dead, dead, dead. Dead against the ground, Face to face with Suffering The glorious brave caterpillar builds its cocoon knowing what awaits I didn’t know, oh I didn’t In its chrysalis the caterpillar digests itself to be nothing but mush mush mush Nothing but a soup of cells But then, Oh but then, (the but is important, it is the most painful and beautiful part) But then, The mush (gradually, oh gradually) transforms into a butterfly –20–


How wonderful that the caterpillar is given a new name Butterfly, butterfly, butterfly And how lovely it is given a pair of indescribably beautiful wings! wings! wings! After such a strenuous death. The magnificent majestic tree is not afraid of Winter When all its leaves break off like brittle bones Its trunk and branches splintery and fragile When it echoes of death death death I echo of death death death Making it appear like a gentle breeze would turn it to dust When winter comes even in it’s near-death the tree does not fear For it simply knows that it’s empty-handed nakedness being stripped of its leaves every ounce of life tasting death itself is the only way to be clothed with the fullness of life (They know Spring always, always, always, Follows, follows, follows) You see, death isn’t coming It is leaving. You see, life isn’t leaving It is coming. With my face pressed against the dirt I wonder As my tears turn the dirt to Mud mud mud Or is it mush mush mush? I ponder What will I be when this is all over? Oh the grace of God that He works everything everything everything for the good of those who love Him (And I love Him, very much so.)

(Continued) –21–


There, there, there, There against the ground Hands still shaking Heart still bleeding Feet still slipping Weight still crippling Face to face with God. (The hope of wings now in my heart) I whisper, “Thank you.”

Instrument by Jeshua Darnell Artist Statement: I made this artwork because it represents my life. Each string represents what I went through in my life. The boarder is me in a nutshell. The first string represents the bad times I had in high school. While the middle string represents everything that was going on with football. And the last string is what I went through with all my friends and relationships in the past. And when I turn those strings to tight them and play it, I’m playing away all my pain and starting over. Making this was one of the best creations I made in all my life of art.

–22–


Dialogue

by Lyanne Y. Rolon Alvarez On December 24, 2016, Caroline’s brother-in-law came to her house for Christmas dinner with his partner. Her daughter heard him calling him “Baby” when they were having a conversation. This was the first time she experienced the situation of seeing her uncle talking like that to his boyfriend; she thought he was her uncle’s friend. She had an idea about it, but never asked any questions. This time, instead, she imagined how he would act with his friend, the same way she imagined it when her cousin spoke to her about it. She felt curious about the situation all night until finally, she couldn’t hold her questions anymore. At the end of the night, she came to me and started to ask a lot of questions, and we started the conversation. Daughter: Mami, tonight I was seeing uncle Angelo with his friend and I heard him calling him “Baby.” Is uncle a gay person? Is his friend his boyfriend? Caroline: What makes you think that your uncle is gay? How you came to that conclusion? Daughter: I saw and heard him calling him “Baby”! Caroline: Well… My love, yes! He is gay and his friend is his boyfriend. Daughter: But why? Isn’t it supposed to be a girl and a boy in order to be in a relationship? Caroline: Not all the time. Just because they are both boys doesn’t mean that people can’t be together. In life, you are going to see different people together. What matters is what you feel in your heart. In different parts of the world, you are going to see a girl with a girl, a boy with a boy, and a girl with a boy just like mommy and daddy. In life, people have the right to choose whoever makes them happy. Daughter: I thought that you only can be with the opposite gender of what you are. That’s what I see in the TV and in our family—until tonight. Caroline: I understand what you say and the way you used to think; because when we are little, we don’t understand these kinds of situations. Us as parents, we tend to avoid this type of conversation with our babies because it’s a topic that’s sometimes hard to understand for a ten-year-old just like you. But you are extremely smart, and you figured it out faster. Daughter: So! Do you know how he found out that he liked boys instead of girls? Caroline: I cannot tell you when he found out about it, but I can tell you when I started to know about the situation. But let’s go to sleep, because if you don’t sleep, Santa is not going to stop by to leave the presents. And you want your presents, right?! Daughter: But mommy! I want my presents, but I also want to know more. Let’s talk for five minutes more. Please? How did you find out that he was gay? Caroline: Ok, five more minutes. That’s it! Uncle Angelo used to live with me for about a year and in that time, he had cute girlfriends, but his relationships never lasted. One day, he came to me and started to talk to me about his confusion and the way he was feeling at the time. Daughter: How he was feeling? He was sad? Poor uncle. He must have felt miserable at that time. Caroline: Yes, he was confused and very sad at the time. He wasn’t happy because he was afraid to tell the family that he was gay. He said that he always felt that way since he was little, but was always was afraid –23–


to tell anyone, so he chose to never say anything to anyone. (Daughter yawning) Caroline: Ok! Let’s sleep. Tomorrow we can keep talking about it! Daughter: Ok, mommy! I love you. Good Night! Caroline: I love you more. Good Night! A conversation with your child about sexual orientation is necessary for them to know and to understand that people around us have different preferences. As parents, we must explain to them that people have the right to love and to be with whomever they want, no matter who the person is. What matters is their happiness. In this case, Caroline’s daughter asked her, and Caroline responded to her with honesty and told her the truth. Some families make the mistake of trying to hide this situation rather than face it by explaining the correct information. Caroline chose to explain to her the truth because she was going to see it all the time. This is not going to be the only time she sees a gay couple in her life.

Mali the golden—A map of West Africa’s waterways by Rain Bowrys Artist Statement: I made this one in respect to our visit of the Pan African Historical Museum. I learned many things about culture and the value of gold, salt, and water in the times of our ancestors. This piece is intended to address what I learned while highlighting the knowledge and history of the land. –24–


One Sentence

by Jarred Huggins It was the end of my first season as a high school hockey player when I learned it, something that would forever change the way I play the sports I love, watching the seniors, taking their jerseys off for the last time, tears running down their faces as if a dam in a river had just broken, or like a part of them was taken and could never be replaced, and I didn’t understand why they were emotional because it was only moments before I was trying to process how to handle a two-on-one rush while my stick had just broken and my defensive partner had fallen down, and I was still thinking about the game, and they were crying, and it didn’t make any sense to me until I myself had to deal with the same sadness and harsh reality that it doesn’t last forever, the feeling that you’re on top of the world and everyone is looking up to you, skating, playing, and representing your town and community as a member of the hockey team or as a member of any team for that matter is and forever will be one of the greatest adrenaline rushes a young athlete can have, only now, a new chapter has started in my life, one where I represent a new team, a new school, and a new community, which I take pride in being a part of by playing a sport I love and cherish every moment of, and I love going to practice and trying to get better every day so I can compete at the highest level possible, even when things get difficult (sometimes really difficult), but just like for the high school sports teams, the difficult stuff should always be done in a way to make it fun and to keep the reason why we play always present, the reason we work out and take the extra time to get better and do the little things that a lot of other people would find difficult or annoying—the 6 AM bag skates, the after-practice conditioning, the extra reps in the weight room—all to get just that much better, and now for you as an athlete just starting out, realize now that it will be difficult, it will be annoying and tedious, but when it is all over and you walk over the field, or course, or skate off the ice and take the uniform off for the last time, knowing it will never be put back on, you will finally see the memories you were making with friends you will have for the rest of your life—whether it be scoring the winning goal against your school’s rival to make playoffs, or beating the number-one ranked player in the league in the last golf match of the season to help your team win the league, or the lesson you were learning about life and the way to interact as a team player, or the overall fun you were having—so appreciate the hard work and the struggles to be great, because when it is all said and done, you want to be able to look back and say, “I did everything I could to be great, and I loved every second of it,” because just like the final buzzer, the period always has to come at the end of the sentence.

Poverty in College by Rebecca Herman

Last night, my boyfriend and I had a very romantic dinner of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream on his bed, where we debated if Domino’s was too expensive for us to have delivered (of course it was) considering we are both college students on a budget who had a bit of guilt when buying name-brand ice cream that set us back maybe four dollars each, but what made our poverty even more exposed was when we shared a plastic spoon that has been circulating between all different types of food for days (we washed it of course), passing back and forth, back and forth, both of us completely ignoring the fact that this spoon tasted of Ramen, Campbell’s soup, Kraft Mac and Cheese, and now ice cream, which put us to sleep (on our twin-sized bed) until our alarm woke us up to get ready for a 9:25 class, when we went through the same routine we go through every morning, fighting for the last drop of toothpaste, wrestling for the last cereal bar, which makes me worry about providing for my future family, since I can barely take –25–


care of myself (examples include and are not limited to having a bad diet, not getting enough exercise, not having as much time to clean the dorm, and not being able to afford basic necessities such as food and clothes), because I don’t even want to imagine having to take care of children who depend on their parents for survival since I am in college and have nineteen years of age, and because I hate asking my mother for any type of support since she didn’t have parents she could depend on, and because she took care of herself from a very young age, which is why she raised me to be independent—I would hate the idea of my mother thinking I cannot take care of myself since she was able to, even before my age, even though this college is taking all of my life savings, but I am sure that I am putting good use to the money I am spending to be at college, so that, one day, I will be able to support someone other than myself.

Facing Death

by Emma LeBlanc Soccer has always been a way for me to relieve any stress or anxiety I have, especially anxiety, and it was a way to try and get my mind off the bad and onto the good, so I walked onto the soccer field knowing my close friend was no longer cheering me on in the stands but instead is cheering me on from above, and the moon was bright, the stadium lights were on, and the crowd was full, and in that moment I began to think about him—he would have been there with everyone else—but I knew I needed to stay focused, to go into the game and score, so I walked onto the field and the whistle blew, and now I’m in total game mode, throwing my body into a girl to get the ball, starting arguments, yelling at my teammates, doing things I shouldn’t be doing, playing a way that just wasn’t me, like I wasn’t in my game, only the next thing I know I’m on the bench and my coach is talking to me, telling me to calm down and to do my thing, then we wait and it’s half-time, zero zero, and you can see the steam coming off our bodies as we walk into the locker room, and the coach says the basics, and we all go and fix our hair, the usual half-time as always, and I think to myself, what am I doing, why am I playing like this, my team is going to hate me, and I realize I need to score, and so when we walk out of the locker room and I see the fans cheering us on with the clock set, we are ready to go, and the game starts and we go back and forth, offense to defense, offense to defense, but we are controlling the field when suddenly the ball gets kicked to the outside, and the girl dribbling down the side cuts back and plays to the midfield, and they move up together and she kicks it to the other outside player, and I’m in the box now and I have no way of getting the ball because I’m covered by the defense, so I move more outside—I go to the top of the box and I find the ball, I get open for a pass from the outside and I look up to find the defender is playing me soft, and I think to myself, that’s her mistake, and I laugh, launching a shot from outside the box, and it goes into the top right corner, so the fans cheer and my teammates hug me and in that exact moment I realized even though my friend may have passed and I had to face it all without him, he was still there for me from above, and I learned to keep everyone close while I can enjoy my life like he would have wanted me to, and this was the only time something in my life has impacted my game, but I got through it and did what I knew I could do. Opposite Page: Me by Margarita Velazco Artist Statement: The piece of artwork was made to represent my culture and what I consider defines my culture. The art piece started off with a cut-out of the back of my head and two pompoms. I believe in myself as “never looking back, just forward.” Then I began to fill my pompoms with curls and the back of my head was filled with the swirls to represent my grandma’s fence. This piece of artwork has every little thing I believe makes me who I am and makes my culture. From the roses in my hair to the cross and the coqui and the Taino symbols etc. This piece of artwork is a part of me just like AIC. –26–


Ode to the Janitor by Brandon Anderson

Oh to the janitor, The unsung hero of the campus. In before dawn, and out after dusk. A person who is known to clean up a mess. A mess throughout campus and a mess throughout life. You truly go unnoticed. All our lives, we are told to do good in school so we don’t become a janitor. But what would school be like without you? In fact, what would this world be without you? A world unclean and untidy, a world that’s unimaginable. You truly don’t get enough credit For what you actually do—for what you actually do is obscured from view. Not obscure because things aren’t clean, but because you are a man unseen. You are a true jack of all trades, fixing plumbing issues, electrical wiring, and landscaping, Someone who has to knows a little of everything. Today I want to shine light on the things you do that go unnoticed, Things such as emptying the trash from all the res halls, sweeping and mopping the entire hallway, cleaning all the glass windows, shoveling snow, turning on the heat, and so much more. You truly give this campus life. Your hard work and dedication don’t always go unnoticed. There are people who care Throughout all this, you manage to come to work every day with a smile and very few complaints. Thank you for all that you do and all that you’ve done.

–27–


The Locker Room by Anonymous

“A locker room on a sports team should be a place where you let all of your problems and stress behind. When you walk into a locker room, the girls there—whether you are friends or not—should be like your family. There should be no talking bad about your teammates in a locker room, or any problems between one another. This locker room should be a sanctuary for all the girls on the team,” said Coach Isa during an all-team meeting. A locker room is every sports player’s sanctuary. It is a place to have fun with your teammates and forget about all of the homework or drama going on in your outside life. “There is no better feeling than walking into a locker room with the music blasting and seeing all of your best friends dancing, singing, and laughing with each other,” said one of the captains of the AIC women’s soccer team. Luckily enough for me, I have had the opportunity to know what it is like to be on the inside of this team sanctuary. The welcoming laughs make all the problems that people may be having outside of the team disappear. I can speak first-hand on what it is like to have outside problems, and then walk into that locker room and just forget about the problems and have fun with the girls on the team. Everyone cares about everyone and always makes sure that you are happy. They try their best to help you out when you are having a bad day. “We are a family, and this is our house. We will not bicker or fight in our house,” said Coach Isa. The locker room is one of the safest places in the whole world for an athlete, and everyone who has ever been on a team will know that.

Instrument—DJ Set by Lui Sitama –28–


One Sentence by Roxan Foster

To be the only child for my father and the second of two for my mother sometimes can be a very scary thing due to the fact that I grew up alone as the only child because my sister is a couple years older than I am, so I am extremely attached to my parents (more than you can imagine), but losing them is the last thing I would ever want to happen—in fact it is the only thing I really fear in my life up to today, because I really can’t imagine losing the only two people I grew up with, the only two people who, every night before I would go to bed, I would say, “Goodnight mama, Goodnight papa” to, and I would never close my eyes until they would reply, “Goodnight, mi daughter,” and that is something we would do every night, even if I was not close to them, because they are always just a phone call away, and because it is just a part of our daily living, and because my parents are also my support system, who stood by my side when no one else did, and I can remember clearly like it was yesterday during my high school track and field season when everyone turned their back on me and stopped giving me the support they used to give due to the fact that I had a severe injury and wasn’t able to compete as well as I used to—but that didn’t stop my parents from being there for me regardless, from giving me the support I needed, and they have never in my life made me feel like I’m failing, because these two people are the only two people who are mentally, physically, and emotionally sad whenever I am, because they are my other half—they cry with me, laugh with me, and rejoice with me, and it is just impossible to imagine myself living without them—I tried to imagine it, but I failed, or I refused to—because I love my parents to death, and if it was in my power to spare their lives, to allow them to live to see eternity, I would surely grant them that life without any doubt or second thought, because they are literally my life.

One Sentence Vanison Showell

Walking around campus with fluctuating blood sugar levels can be a nuisance; no matter how hard you try to control it, the disease always finds a way to harm your body, which will cause health complications later in life, and I don’t know if I will get any health problems later in my life, and that’s what scares me, because I run eight miles or more a day, yet my blood sugar continues to be high, so I ask myself: will my life suddenly end one day, will I have health problems later in my life—these questions infect my mind like a virus—will the first virus (diabetes) eventually replicate and cause widespread damage across my body (nerves, eyes, higher blood pressure, and ketoacidosis)—the future is very unclear to me, but at the same time, I’m a track athlete: I shouldn’t be worrying that I’m going to get health complications, because exercising regularly is what’s supposed to manage your blood sugar, yet my blood sugar is still fluctuating, ever since I contracted this disease in seventh grade, so that now I feel like the more that I run, the more my body becomes more resistant to my vigorous exercise, which causes my blood sugar to remain high and not fall within normal levels, so it’s hard to say whether I will live a long “healthy” life, fighting an endless battle day in and day out, because all I know is to keep running, and if my blood sugar becomes resistant to the vigorous exercise, then I will just have to increase my weekly mileage, and I will continue to run for as long as I can until my body reaches a breaking point and starts to break down (old age), but right now, I am currently eighteen and in college, so every day I get up, go to class, run, and do homework, and doing this every day takes a toll on both my body and mind, so I don’t know how much will power I have left, and I don’t know if I will get health problems later in my life, and I don’t know anything about my longevity it the future—all I know is that if I do nothing, I won’t live for too long, and so this thought is all I have left if I want to live a long “healthy” life. –29–


Time

by Zakala Coffman Life honors a mysterious role. Coexisting with time, It waits for no one. Seconds upon seconds, Even hours upon hours, fly by like nothing. Everything Grows old or crumbles away as time passes. Yet The history of life before repeats itself. Time treated my father cruelly. Locked away from Sun and shine—the world—his life sucked away from Him, he came home grey and confused. Home no longer felt, Smelled, looked, or tasted like home. To the man who returned home to family and friends after Ten years and discovered he had nothing, family turned To dark strangers and friends to enemies, Everyone resembling leeches, and liars, and zombies. Know that you are loved. History repeats itself, history repeats. You left angry. You left confused. You left depressed. The same issues prior to the incident that locked You away come racing back to you. Now That you’re home, it welcomes you. It hasn’t Forgotten you like those you used to call friends. You have no job because you can’t keep one For reasons I still don’t fully understand. You get a job but complain of a stomach ache, You apply for assistance; you apply for section 8, Anything to help you feel better. You can’t work, You can’t keep friends, you feel abandoned by Those that stand right next to you. Someone reaches out a hand and you feel they Are pulling everything from you—that they are Trying to hurt you, whether it’s true or not. I wish I could see life through your eyes because You clearly see things differently. Where People aren’t people; a chair is not a chair, True love is hatred. You accuse my mother of so many Things because of your insecurities. You’ve admitted That to me. Independent as she is, she has given you A chance, yet time to herself is supposed to be time For you. She takes a step outside and you feel like She has left you for dead. You admit yourself to a suicide rehab Because everything is too much. Breathe. Please breathe Because you’ll be okay. You admit yourself for only A few hours, this second time around because –30–


Their rules clash with your ability to hold in your feces. Speak up. You always mumble when you talk, reminiscing, Your times in jail when you wanted conversations private. Despite it all, my love for you has not crumbled And aged with time. My father, my dearest baba, I’ve been standing here right next to you, Listening and watching. Trying to let you know That I know you’re there. That despite the craziest shit you put yourself through, I respect and love you.

Cultures Around the World by Sara Guntin Barreiro

–31–

Profile for American International College

The Criterion Ezine - Spring 2020 Edition  

The Criterion Ezine - Spring 2020 Edition  

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