WordFlirt 2017 WordFlirt is an Upper School activity that celebrates the literary, creative, and visual arts at Brooklyn Friends School. The magazine is published at the conclusion of each academic year. From the fall through the spring, the editors, staﬀ, and faculty advisors work to encourage students to create and submit their work for publication. The WordFlirt staﬀ meets regularly to review, edit, and choose work. We strive to be representative of all grade levels in the Upper School and thank those students who have shared their voices and their talents in this 2017 edition. Valerie Magan ’17 and Tyler Roberts ’17 Editors Dalia Kijakazi ’17 Alexandra "Nicole" Adriano ’21 Editorial Staﬀ Liz Heck and Sarah Levy Faculty Advisors
The Here and Now, Betsy Allen
2 My City, Anonymous 3 Do the Right Thing, Harrison Knox
Sidney E. Bridges Head of Upper School
5 Indescribable, Jackson Kipper 6 The Mother of My Child, Francisco Verastegui 8 Anger, Jaden Bodden 9 The Power of Goodbye, Anonymous 10 Letter to Authority, Amanda Mai Becker 12 On Top of the World, Betsy Allen 13 Fly Blind, Nicole Adriano 14 Blackouts, Alydia Wells 18 Short Story #2, Anonymous 20 Machina - Catalyst, Jackson Kipper 22 The Things I Carry, Kwesi Cuffy-Scott 24 Si Me He Perdido, Amanda Mai Becker
Cover Art by Janine Sharpe ’19 Art on this page by Valerie Magan ’17
WordFlirt© 2017, Brooklyn Friends School, Brooklyn, New York
The Here and Now Betsy Allen ’20 Enjoy it Cause it’s all you’ve got Take in the wind, the water, and the sun The friendly smiles of strangers and creepy stares of lurkers Enjoy it Cause it’s all you’ve got Remember the sound of tinkling laughter and booming thunder The somewhat empty stares of Monday morning commuters Enjoy it Cause it’s all you’ve got Bask in the warmth of touch and emotion The end of summer laziness and the start of school year frenzy Enjoy it Cause it’s all you’ve got Live for the here and the now Forget the past and the future Enjoy it Cause it’s all you’ve got Leave behind the anxiety and the breaths that never seem deep enough The tears that never let go and the thoughts that always remain Enjoy it Cause it’s all you’ve got Imagine a time in which the present is the only thing As if there is nothing more to this except the words falling from my lips and the happiness glittering in my eyes Enjoy it Cause it’s all you’ve got One life One time One moment To live and laugh To let go and to feel To be overwhelmed by the here and now
Monet Massac ’17
My City Anonymous New York City has given me the gift of understanding that the world is in a constant state of chaos. It is impossible to live in New York without a certain amount of both love and hate for it. There are many situations that are downright chaotic – my life would not be complete without them. For example, the experience of walking on the piers of the Hudson River on a warm summer day. In this experience I am never alone. One is accompanied by the strong, relaxing wind from the water, the runners getting their daily exercise, the tourists consumed by the beauty of seeing the view for the ﬁrst time, the ﬁshermen sitting with their rods leaning over the edge of the walkway waiting for a catch, the young children playing on the fresh summer grass, the seagulls that don’t seem like they belong, and the fresh sea air that replaces the smell of the inner city. To be able to declare love for something is rare, but I love the chaotic euphoria that I ﬁnd on the Hudson River promenade. Even if I am surrounded by strangers, there is a sense of community, and an experience available for everyone to enjoy. The city oﬀers me the opportunity to experience this form of chaos, where disorder and diversiﬁcation is a positive thing. 2 WordFlirt 2017
Do the Right Thing Harrison Knox ’20 Ella was in her mother’s car, on her way to school, when she had an unusual feeling, thinking that her mother was stressed or worried about something. They parked in front of Ella’s school, New Orleans Elementary, and her mother told Ella to go straight into the building. As she looked through the car window, Ella saw crowds of people protesting and being held back by police. The crowd was vicious and scary, but it separated to let her pass. She did not feel that they were trying to harm her, but as if they were angry about something more important. She has seen cases like this on television. As she entered the school, Ella was greeted normally by her teachers and was assured that everything was ﬁne. Ella walked to her classroom and witnessed a white parent shouting at the principal. The hysterical woman said, “I will not let my children attend a school with that n*****!” Ella was confused about what the problem was – she and everyone else in her class this year was white – that’s how it has always been. After seeing the outraged mother being forced out of the room, Ms. Bridges, the teacher, told the students to write the date, April 11, 1960, on the blackboard. After an unusual day at school, Ella returned home excited to see her best friend, Rose. Rose and her mother had been coming to Ella’s house every day for the past ﬁve years to clean and cook for the family. Since then Ella and Rose had developed a strong and loving friendship. Other children in the neighborhood often looked at Ella, bewildered as to why she was associating with a “colored girl.” Ella, however, did not care what they thought. Ella then walked into the living room and told her mother, “Look mama, I found a ball Rose and I can play with today!” Her mother faced her with a look of sympathy, but with a
very cold touch to it. She said, “Rose won’t be coming today; she won’t be allowed in this house ever. I don’t want you to talk or even associate with her at school.” Ella, trying to keep the tears in, remembered the times they shared with each other; playing jump rope, causing drama in the house, and most importantly, watching each other grow together, just like seeds turning into a ﬂower. Baﬄed by the news, Ella thought to herself, But Rose doesn’t even go to my school. She then realized why everyone looked so angry that morning – why her mother acted diﬀerently in the car – and why she saw that venomous crowd protesting outside her school.
Rachel Freedman ’19
It was all because of Rose. Rose must have been the ﬁrst black girl to attend a white school, here in New Orleans. Ella aggressively threw the ball at her mother and ran to her room crying. She hid herself under the colorful bedsheets and wished she was in a dream. Ella did not see Rose until recess that day. Ella was playing “hopscotch” with her classmates, when Rose went over and asked Ella if she could join in. Harvey, a boy in their class, said, “Oh no, why does the black kid want to play?” Rose looked at Ella with desperation in her eyes, almost as if they said, Please Ella, just please let me play. Ella looked back at Rose and wanted to say yes more than any3
thing, but was worried what her other friends, and more importantly, what her mother would do if she said this. She told Rose, “Sorry, but my parents won’t let me talk to you.” The words spilled out like boiling water, burning both of them. Rose turned around, feeling as if her heart was a weight and her memories a myth. That night, Ella walked through the door feeling completely empty, as if she was missing something emotionally. Ella felt awful. She felt betrayed. She was going through a time of depression and dramatic change. She could only imagine how Rose must be feeling. Ella wanted to make it up to Rose more than anything, but she worried about the consequences from her mother. Although Ella was experiencing a terrible time of mourning, she thought to herself, Why does it matter if I’m best friends with a black girl? Why is that so
Fatima El Baghir ’17
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bad? Rose is as human as any of us! Yes, the color of her skin may be diﬀerent, but on the inside we are the same. Ella decided to make a commitment to start over with Rose, by bringing to school something that would reignite their friendship. At recess, Ella saw Rose all alone sitting under the slide. As she walked up to her, all the kids stopped playing and looked. Ella heard shouts from the children she once thought of as friends saying, “You traitor!” as well as much more colorful language. Ella stood in front of Rose and took out the jump rope they played with when they ﬁrst met. She said, “I’m sorry for what I did yesterday, and I thought we could restart our friendship from the beginning. Would you like to play jump rope with me?” Rose looked up, smiled, and said, “Who says we can’t?”
Luca Jorsling â€™19
Indescribable Jackson Kipper â€™20 I hope that there is a word out there in the world that truly BRINGS JUSTICE to the way humans continue to push forward, no matter the cost that has to be paid and with absolute conviction. A term for the human drive, something stronger than the most impervious metal, harder than the most unbreakable diamond, and more everlasting than the most eternal soul. This beautiful and purely human trait, one that has been around for millennia, yet no one has given voice to, if only we had, for it is so sad... That no one has given this to us! 5
The Mother of My Child Francisco Verastegui ’20 I was at mass when Rosey began to tear up, for it had been one year since Marissa died, having choked on a banana. After a few seconds, I looked up at the priest, distracted by his blackrimmed square glasses and green robe. He was speaking of how Marissa was a great woman, and how she is now with God in heaven looking down upon us, wishing the best for Rosey and me. I tried my best not to cry, and I didn’t. I didn’t want to be seen as weak. When the mass ended, everyone came to console me. They would say, “How are you doing?”, “Are you holding up alright”, “It’s okay, I bet she’s in a better place right now.” What I found to be funny was the realization that I did not know most of the people who were at the mass, and I was pretty sure that Marissa did not know most of them either. During the ﬁrst year of her death I had stopped going to mass; heck, I even stopped praying altogether. I was so infuriated at God that I didn’t care to go. I did not want to be close with him. In fact, today was the ﬁrst day since her death I came to mass. Rosey, being only four, seemed not to mind not going to mass. I don’t blame her though, because I was the same way when I was her age. My little rebellion did not help, sadly, since there were now two holes in my heart. Being so depressed, I decided to pray, wishing Marissa back. I can recall saying – that night of the mass dedicated to her – how I missed her so dearly and how she didn’t deserve to die. If you are a Roman Catholic you would realize that what I said was extremely selﬁsh and hypocritical because, as a Catholic, I am supposed to believe that everything happens according to the will of God and that it’s for the best. But who cares? I certainly did not. After I ﬁnished the prayer, I fell asleep. I am not entirely sure of what I dreamt about but all I knew was I had a nightmare. It was so bad I woke up covered in sweat. After collecting myself I tried to go back to sleep. As my head was falling on to the memory foam pillow I had I heard, “Are you okay honey?”
Claire Stohlman ’18
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I jumped oﬀ my bed, turned around, and saw a dark ﬁgure. As I squinted to see who it was I realized – it was Marissa. When I asked her what she was doing here, she responded, “What do you mean?” I do not know why but out of pure joy I just went with it. I went next to her on our old king size bed and fell asleep.
Nicole Adriano ’20
The next day Marissa and I did our favorite things we used to do as kids. We went to the carnival down by the pier, riding the rusty but still functioning ferris wheel, we rode the merrygo-round while eating our cotton candy from Jerry’s, we dined at Nathan’s Famous Hot Dogs, we went on an old roller coaster called “The Rocket,” and in the end, we went bike riding on the boardwalk while watching the beautiful red sun dip into the dark blue waters. When Marissa and I arrived at our small brown house, we entered our bedroom knocked out cold from all the fun we had. I woke up the next day to ﬁnd a letter in place of where she was sleeping, and in it she wrote about how she wanted to take advantage of the time she had left and visit her family and see the world, while she still can. Reading the note, I felt a small tear race down my cheek, just how Marissa and I used to when we rode our bikes. As I fell to my knees Rosey came in asking what was wrong. I responded with a smile and something I had just noticed. I said, “Y’know, you look just like your mother.”
Anger Jaden Bodden ’19 Control That was one of the first things I was taught To suppress my emotions Never let any feeling out To be stoic and emotionless Because feeling is a sign of weakness And if I show any sign of weakness, I’ll be used Made out to be the loud-mouthed, Violent, Angry, Irrational, And dangerous black man At first, control was easy I did as I was told, did as I was taught But something grew As I saw what the world was What my community was, something emerged A hungry, malicious animal formed in the pit of my stomach that refused to go away No matter how many deep breaths I took No matter how many times I looked at the positive aspects of a situation, it wouldn’t disappear Instead, it just decided to grow So I put a cage around the monster, hoping that would stop it I decided to continue with what I was taught But the sight of blood being spilled on the streets Families starving And innocent people being caught in the crossfire of a wicked person’s war only feeds it Sometimes I wonder why I keep it locked up Especially when I have to look at people who can’t even see past themselves To care about others Or when I know the people I love are being hurt by the world in one way or another So it feeds on my detrimental feelings Until it grows stronger and even more malevolent So I watch as it escapes And hope it doesn’t take full control of me 8 WordFlirt 2017
The Power of Goodbye Anonymous A goodbye is what you make of it. Every goodbye I say presents positives and negatives. When I say goodbye there is a possibility to make the last experience richer and more signiﬁcant. Saying goodbye also has the ability to transform my once complex and positive experiences into ones where I can only remember the sad end. In my opinion, as a young person who has had to say goodbye to too many places and people, as I move around the world, the best goodbye is one that you don’t know is your last. The best goodbye is when you experience the thing for the last time like you are experiencing it for the ﬁrst time. When you know you are experiencing your last, you tend to behave dramatically, and this drama, in my opinion, just ruins the experience and casts a negative light on it all, something I would never want to happen. When I was eight and got a pixie cut, I remember holding on to a lock of my once long hair and never wanting to let go. This feeling of never wanting to let go was toxic to me as it polluted my memories with sadness and melancholy feelings. When I let myself be consumed with these sad thoughts it is clear to me that the anticipation of saying goodbye has ruined the actual goodbye. I let saying goodbye to my grandfather be consumed by sad thoughts that still cloud the many amazing experiences I had with him. There was not enough time for me to process what was happening and remember all the fun we had. Even now, when I picture my grandfather, a strong and funny man, I catch myself picturing the frail version of him that I said goodbye to. I am picturing him at his worst, and that is a problem with goodbyes that simplify a once dynamic thing, experience, or person down to their last, and force you to remember them that way. On the other hand, it is possible to argue goodbyes and closure are a necessary part of human nature. When I have had suﬃcient time to process the fact that my experience with a person or thing will be the last, I often am able to remember the good. When I was uprooted and moved halfway across the world in a matter of days I had no time to say goodbye or have any closure, and that made my transition harder. I believe that moving so far so quickly was too much of a change to not say goodbye. In this example I needed to say my farewells to all of my relationships, my home, the places, and the culture in one big goodbye. For me it was much too big a band-aid to rip oﬀ so quickly. In times like this I believe in the power of goodbye, to be able to have closure and one last good experience. Maxine Simons ’19
Letter to Authority Amanda Mai Becker ’18 Inspired by Kafka (father/son) To whom it most deﬁnitely concerns, I ﬁnd that as your physical state (and mental state, may I add) declines and our time withers away, it is important that I convey to you the lifetime of words trapped in my “hollow head”, as you would put it. I wish I could have told you earlier. Perhaps we would be in quite a diﬀerent place; however, I doubt you would have listened to me. It is understandable that you, a man of such great honor and dignity, would ignore the whining of a child (but oh! What you could have learned!). Now, so many years later, I try to recount, with little diﬃculty, the thoughts I had and still have about who we are and who we could have been. You sent me oﬀ to school at barely a year hoping I would grow to be a genius. You kept big books with complex words and inﬁnitely long sentences in every corner of the house hoping I would pick one up and suddenly begin to rattle oﬀ Being and Time with great ease and full understanding of each and every word and idea, despite the book being in a foreign tongue. Every parent wishes for their child to grow to be intellectually gifted, to be able to use knowledge to access the entire world. Oﬀ to boarding school I went when I was old enough to speak. Each weekend you would come and visit me, not out of aﬀection, but to discuss my progress with teachers and to teach me yourself. You came each weekend until I was eighteen. I remember you visited on the snowiest of all days. You had taken two buses and a train, complaining about how I must have devised a plan to keep you away. You came barging into the classroom and, upon seeing the book being taught, promptly dragged me out by the wrist. You
Tyler Roberts ’17
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yelled at me for what had seemed like an hour, saying that one mustn’t learn from stories with mythical creatures. You said it had corrupted my thoughts and my being. You did not look at me when you asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, as the shame still stung you deeply. Thus, with all the courage I could muster up at the time I informed you that I wished to be the king of a palace, just like the character in the story. I remember your face freezing in place, the color ﬂeeing your face as if chased oﬀ into the forest of your hair. You only had ﬁve words which spat from your mouth: You will be a doctor.
Elsie Richter ’20
You are a doctor, a highly esteemed one at that. You wanted me to be just like you. To honor our family, but more importantly to honor you, without impeding on your spotlight as the god-like ﬁgure in the family. You are my father, my mentor, and my role model; thus, I am in debt to you. I owe you for making my upbringing oh so pleasant. You guided me towards a prosperous path and I thank you. I know your father failed to do the same, that his harsh words he claimed came from God and the strictness that wrapped around your neck like a noose ultimately had no end. For me, you employed a rigid structure like your father, but you possessed a goal. Yet somehow, your words bit me hard just as your father’s bit you. I still have the scars across my body and D-O-C-T-O-R emblazoned upon my wrists. Your venom, it seeped into my veins, ﬂowing towards my mind, and even into my soul; yet, you do not believe in souls. Just as there is no place for fairy tales in education, there is no place for the soul, more speciﬁcally religion, in medicine. Perhaps, if you had uncoiled from the arms of your throne and slid down to my level, wrapping your long limb around me and coaxing me with your little rattle out into the light and up onto my own two feet, we might see eye to eye, share the spotlight, and for once show respect. However, this will never happen. Not so long as your intricate markings and beautiful colors bask in the only rays of sunshine. If only you had thought of me and moved in the slightest so that I could bask alongside you. Instead, you stared down at me, your long, twisted body casting a bizarre yet threatening shadow down upon me. Thus, I festered and disintegrated beneath your throne, out of sight, as you kept your glassy eyes piercing out into the distance. Keep this in mind (if there is any space left in that “hollow head” of yours) as you dig deeper into the hole you have built for yourself. All the best, The First Son 11
Janine Sharpe ’19
On Top of the World Betsy Allen ’20 I climbed until my legs ached Until my hair stuck to my neck Sticky with sweat Until my lungs burned And I could’ve sworn I breathed ﬁre I climbed until my eyes wept Until my feet cramped Until my ears screamed From the pounding wind I climbed until I felt the sun against my face Until the rain poured down my eyelids Until my cheeks burned from smiling too hard The sky stilled The air quieted The clouds told stories of long lost ghosts I could see miles and miles of untraveled roads And rustling forests I climbed until my hands reached the sun Until my feet reached the bottom of the earth Until my head was in the clouds And in that moment I could’ve sworn I was invincible And then I fell
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Fly Blind Nicole Adriano ’20 Memories shall give him a hazy ignorance. He is hidden from the pain he will receive when he spreads his wings, to return to his memories. He ﬂew on with the whistling wind, unaware of his Strenuous journey back. There has to be Some way to explain The way he wanted to see it but drowned in regret after he did. The way On his ﬁrst He waited patiently — until the air was as still as stone.
The way stands in between him, And his home. The way he forced his way, through the storm as the raindrops pierced his feathers with needles just to see it — once more On his third. Finally! The sun reaches out only to be crushed by dusk. But even still, He ﬂies through the happy sorrows. To see —
Nicole Adriano ’21
Blackouts Alydia Wells ’19 I’ve had a long history of blacking out. It’s never the same each time. We say “black out” when we don’t or can’t explain what actually happened. The experience is similar to when your mind goes blank. A weight pressing down on your eyes, not enough to close them. Just enough to make it slightly uncomfortable. Uncomfortable to the point where all you could do is sit forward with a half-dead look, mouth open, staring at nothing in particular. We black out in anger, boredom, or happiness. We all do it, some of us more often than others. There are theories. When I was little, I believed that when I felt that a blackout happened, an alter ego would arise. She would be a projection of the current emotion, and she ruled my actions when I felt too much. She was me, just more intense. Of course, as she was just a theory, she existed only in my head. Her excuse for her actions was a blackout. Me, myself, I never thought to tell someone. What’s worse than feeling crazy? “You have a what? An alter ego? What the hell?” “No, it’s more like a breaking point.” “You mean more like a breakdown. You’re insane. LOL!” “Ya totally...” I never was good at explaining things. She, on the other hand, solved and explained things in a diﬀerent manner. Actions one would classify with violent intentions. I’m not going to water down the truth, but she would. We were on the bus on our way to a pumpkin farm. Picking pumpkins seems to be the normal school trip around this time of year. I had a bone to pick with a kid in my class in about 3rd grade. The kid was a menace, and in my defense, I was doing our whole school a favor. It was cold, and I was annoyed beyond belief at the two guys yelling and screaming like banshees in laughter behind me. My migraine would get worse, like a stabbing pain in my head, every time the bus would ﬂy over a bump, without any seatbelts, we would ﬂy up in our seats. The only safety was the ability to hold on to the freezing metal frame of the window. I used the last of my energy to sit up with my tiny frame, fac-
Gabriela Sanchez ’18
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ing the back of the bus. I surveyed what was going on behind me seemingly to ﬁnd the source of the commotion. It was mostly to get the attention of the back of the bus. A silence fell, and the boys behind me looked up at the small child. “The hell you lookin at, Midget?” “Ya, turn around before you ﬂy out the window.” I closed my eyes for a quick moment as the bus ﬂew over yet another bump, and my head slammed against the roof of the bus. Immediately, laughter rose. She was the one who sat back up holding the rest of her dignity as well as the crown of her Rosemary De La Cruz ’18 head. Tightly gripping the seat, facing the ones apparently at fault, she screamed curses at them in frustration, and a ﬁght ensued. Fists ﬂying and scratching, it was brought apart by the teacher who, only now, chose to intervene. Both children were sent back in their seats. A few minutes passed in silence. A hand sneakily reached through the space between the seat and window and quickly yanked one of her braids. Her head slammed against the window, and she could hear the roar of laughter rush through her ears. There was also a ringing, and in that ﬁt of anger, she turned her head, and her jaws clamped down on the hand retreating back. An earsplitting scream rang through the bus and it only made her headache worse, so she clamped harder. The scream was shrill and she almost smiled in satisfaction when it turned into cries of pain. The teacher, running to the back of the bus pried her oﬀ, and she was brought to sit in the front under strict directions not to move. The boy received gauze and was given special treatment by the teachers once we reached our destination. I stayed on the bus that whole trip, staring out the window at the autumn colored leaves trying to remember why I had done such a thing. From that day on, I was alienated by classmates and enlisted to a psychiatrist. At that age, it was settled. I would be the outcast, and it was all my fault. I had a blackout. I was diagnosed with explosive personality disorder, and my parents were now sentenced to constant meetings with teachers and the principal over the “victims” of my outbursts. I still had a pleasant childhood. I was blessed with a few friends who knew and understood. They would help me control my anger. My parents didn’t really seem to understand, nor did they attempt to try. I was just being a child to them. My mother comforted me, but my father told me to suck it up, and when I told him of my stories, he had no varying reaction. It was either a disappointed sigh or a grunt and then he went back to whatever he happened to be doing. I went through life at home unawares of what went on behind closed doors. As my life went on, as much as I tried to ignore it, it became increasingly obvious. My family was falling apart. Constant ﬁghts everyday over small things. They were petty as hell. I remember once as I was sitting on the kitchen counter doing math homework. My mother and father were ﬁghting as my mother was leaving for work. As she closed the door and went to her car, my father chucked a glass clock at the closed door. As it shattered he screamed at the closed door, grabbed a beer and went downstairs without a word. I quietly swept up the glass, earning a few cuts on my feet as well as some on my hands.
I grew up hating my father, which did not help my condition, but, it wasn’t constant. Because he was my father I could not help but love him. That was the part I hated. Nonetheless, he never taught me much because I was a girl and I was sure he wanted a boy. But, that is not the story I want to tell.
Amina Washington ’19
I could take things out of hand quite often; when I was sad, it was mostly anger. My tantrums were never to be handled normally. That would often result in more anger. I wasn’t a miserable child, though. I was always happy with a smile on my face, but once something angering arrived, I would quickly explode. I was plagued with constant ﬁghts. In school, if my friends were bullied or pushed, a ﬁght would start. In that way I felt my anger was justiﬁed and I felt I had controlled it. The control didn’t last long though.
My parents divorced around my last year of middle school. My mother, sister, and I moved, not far away from our old house. I didn’t concern myself with the details or the cause of things. I just didn’t care after that. Any sadness after that was blocked oﬀ because I knew this was going to happen eventually. In fact, I was happy. However, if something happened, even with the separation, I got angry. I was angry that something had gotten through the wall I had built. So she grabbed a hammer and walked to her old house. She was not aware of what she had gotten the hammer for, but she felt she’d know when she had arrived. She found glass jars sitting on the front porch. She didn’t know what they were for, but in that moment she didn’t care. She grabbed the hammer and set up each jar in the yard of the house. She smashed them all. She didn’t stop till the glass strewn over the yard resembled the glass clock that was thrown years ago. When she ﬁnished she looked around the yard and her anger had faded. I realized there was no one home. I looked down at my arms. I was wearing a tanktop, and the glass she had smashed cut my wrists and ﬁngers, staining my shorts and ﬂip ﬂops. With no water to wash the blood, I walked slowly back home. I walked slowly wondering why on earth I did such a thing. There was no pain, but I was aware of the blood dripping down my wrists and dripping oﬀ of the tip of the hammer. When I arrived home; I hid the hammer in the garage, not bothering to wash oﬀ the blood. I only remembered some of this incident when I found the bloodstained hammer weeks later. I remember, I had a blackout. This is the part of the story I wanted to get to. I want to lie, but she is the one writing and she doesn’t lie. She tells the truth as it is. In school, I got into a ﬁght. It was a ﬁght that ruined my childhood even further. It was the reason I changed schools. We were in the staircase, late for class. One of my best friends brought up my parents. It was a ﬁght triggered by something that happened earlier, but once he brought my parents into the ﬁght, she got angry. It was yet another thing that slipped past her wall of insecurities. I could not justify this one. It was not merely protection, but also selﬁshness. Fists ﬂying and feet kicking, we fought. I punched and he punched back. I pushed and he slammed my head against the wall. Then we fell. Both of us mid-punch fell down the marble stairs. Each step on the way was more painful than the other. When we hit the bottom, I couldn’t feel my legs.
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I looked over at my friend and tears ran down my cheeks. I cried for several minutes in that staircase. His arm was broken, and that much I could tell. He was also not moving. He hadn’t opened his eyes. Thankfully, he was breathing. I realized I had not surveyed myself yet. When I looked down I saw I had bruises on my legs, a cut running up my arm, my left foot was dislocated, and my right foot was sprained badly. I popped my left foot back in its socket. Wiping my tears, I took a napkin out of my pocket and wiped blood oﬀ my arm. I pulled my body up the stairs. There was so much pain in my right foot, almost as if it had been ripped oﬀ. Looking at my watch I realized that school was over. Not looking back at my shame, I straightened myself. Hiding pain that I was used to at this point, I walked up the stairs to after school. In afterschool we were practicing for a dance concert, and ignoring my swollen and bruised foot, I danced. Each turn and jump sent pain through my legs, and I kept in tears of guilt. My teacher realized my pain and attempted to investigate. She saw the horrible state that my foot was in and she went on with her interrogation. With no answers, without even the ability to lie to her, I looked down at my hands and twiddled my thumbs. At that moment, the cut on my arm dropped a string of blood down my arm and onto the ﬂoor. My mother was called and I was sent home. I never heard much more about my friend except that he was sent to the hospital. He was in a coma, and my mom never asked me to explain. My body healed and I was moved to a diﬀerent school. Not even a graduation, No goodbyes, No questions. I talked little the following months. The new school was not aware of my problems, and I never told. It was like a strict don’t-ask-don’ttell policy. My outbursts happen less and less now. I’ve only had two incidents of getting out of hand so far. Finally, I think I have her under control. She hasn’t done anything these past years, but part of me knows. Some stories are never meant to be told, and this one is dangerously close to being classiﬁed as such. Stories like this can start something, they can awaken old feelings, and in this case they cause Blackouts.
Simon Esvandjia ’19
Short Story #2 Anonymous He was my focus point, my love, my everything; he was mine. I felt myself fall in love with him, and everything about him. I didn’t want anything at the moment. I turned everyone else down in my life, but in that exact moment all I wanted was him. Day after day, he sat on a bench in Washington Square Park, with an adequate distance from a homeless man who would fall into a deep sleep everyday. Music blasted through my earphones and I found my lips moving on their own to the lyrics of “Lady Stardust.” His face was covered by a huge smile that made my stomach drop. His dirty converse shoes made their way over to me. They cut me oﬀ as I went to exit the park. “Those aren’t the right words. Not a real Bowie fan huh?” He smirked. Although he had attempted to insult me, I felt myself get nervous and my head hurt from how amazing he looked. “I love Bowie. Let me guess. You’re one of his crazy fans?” I snarked back. He rose his hands like I was holding a gun to his head and started to laugh. “Touche! Coﬀee?” I didn’t even know his name, but I couldn’t help but wonder what it would be like to have coﬀee with him. “Mmh” was all I could say. He led me to the exit of the park. His curly brown hair went unruly at its tips and his brown eyes went deep into his mind. His height left me feeling towered over, not in a threatening way, but a comforting one; his Serena body would give the best feeling when wrapped around me Griffiths ’20 in an embrace. His lips looked soft and delicate. He had this cute little dot on the left side of his face right under his eye. This is where our love started. We had a diﬀerent kind of love, a stronger love than others. We both felt things way stronger than others, had a strong love for music and love for nature. We had diﬀerences, diﬀerences that separated us. Experienced the prime time of our lives and did what we wanted to pursue. He left Washington Square Park, New York, and me. He went on tour for his music, and his beautiful voice continued on through album production. I wanted acting. I moved back home to Los Angeles to start my acting career and to be with my parents. I didn’t see Dylan for months on end, sending letters back and forth. I longed for that hug. Some nights, I would lay in bed unable to shut my eyes. The only thing I felt was the absence of his body. The clock hit 2:07 and I couldn’t help but call him. I pulled my phone oﬀ the cord and dialed his number. “Ring...Ring...Ring...Hi, It’s Dylan. Sorry I couldn’t get to –” I hung up and bawled. This pain and absence I felt was as if he had died. It had been months since we had seen each other and it killed me every hour we weren’t together. I lay in bed and looked to the side; I imagined him lying there, in his striped grey t-shirt that I loved, with his arm wrapped around me, giving me that sense of security. 18 WordFlirt 2017
I opened the drawer of my nightstand that held all the letters we sent to each other; they had all been signed oﬀ with “Carter & Cash.” I took out a piece of paper and wrote another letter expressing how much I truly loved and missed him. I fell asleep that night, tears wetting my eyes and pillow. I woke up the next morning at 10:25, threw my blanket oﬀ, and went into the bathroom. The mirror revealed my puﬀy eyes and sunken in cheeks. I threw on his denim jacket that he left the last time he was here, which felt like years ago. I put my hair up into a ponytail and got ready to leave, not bothering with trying to look nice. I took the letter and brought it to the mailbox on the corner of Montague and Hicks, and made my way to a small café. Opening the door released a strong smell of coﬀee. I ordered a small latte and made my way back home. The mailman was waiting outside, opening the entrance door to my building. “Are you Ms. Matthews? 5A?” He asked. I nodded in response and he handed me an envelope. The returning address read, London. It was from him. I walked up the ﬁve ﬂoors into my apartment. I was careful with the letter, treating it like it was a snowﬂake and that any heat from my body would make it melt in my hands. I opened the letter and read the ﬁrst line: You know I’ll be loving you always but this is too hard...this isn’t serious..., we live too far away...want diﬀerent things...it will never work…Your love and this relationship is now a chore… Love, Your Johnny Cash
Theo Yanacopoulos-Gross ’17
Machina - Catalyst Jackson Kipper ’20 Audiolog 426-14: It’s been awhile since I’ve done one of these. You may remember the last time you were being informed about the events of that fateful day. God, the people we lost, the sacriﬁces we made, the victories we accomplished – none of that mattered because of that one event. That one slip-up of mine destroyed everything that A.R.C. had fought for. But for some odd reason, some strange feeling I felt I then I did not fully understand until now. Everything else that happened that day was outweighed by the death of one person: a single hybri-synth with whom I shared some quite fond memories and experiences. I now know the emotion that I felt and continue to feel for him; that feeling is love. This truly human sensibility that I developed for him should not have been possible due to the fact that I deactivated my emotional response matrix in order to make my strategic capabilities sharper and more accurate. Yet, I cannot avoid this feeling for this person, even more so now that he’s gone; I also feel an intense sense of loss that I cannot seem to shake oﬀ. However, it seems that through the discussion of him with you, I am able to recover from this mental burden that I carry; I believe this is what humans call mourning. To let him go down in history as merely another casualty would be a betrayal to him, the bond that we shared, and also the promise that I swore to him.
Milly Berman ’20
20 WordFlirt 2017
Now in order to avoid these undesirable consequences and also to relieve the psychological pain that has been ravaging me like a virus for so long, I am going to tell you his story. I am going to tell you the story of Ada DiMa Codsworth Valentine. The events that transpired during our ﬁrst encounter proved to both of us that we would be close friends and also rather indebted to each other. We had just saved each other from getting ripped apart and sold for scrap metal. Putting the raw danger aside, that whole thing was really hilarious. It was an average day for me. I was rescuing a group of what the Regime considered to be “Undesirables” from a battalion of the Regime’s Sweeper Squadrons. Sounds of particle riﬂes blare Professor: Go! Go! Go! Everyone get to the relay portal! The Regime has called in auxiliary forces, and if we don’t all get back soon, we’re not getting back at all. Aug Refugee 1: But sir, how will we ever get to the portal?! They have us severely outgunned and we are slowed down by the number of children and elderly persons with us! Professor: Don’t worry, I have a plan. Spread the word that there’s a system of secret tunnels in that hill over there. If we can get everyone to the hill, I can create a smokescreen in order to distract the Regime’s soldiers just long enough for you guys to get through, then I will meet you on the other side. Never fear – they don’t know about these tunnels, so they won’t be suspecting this. Aug Refugee 2: Oh, thank the Architect! We are ﬁnally going to be safe! Unfortunately, none of this went according to plan in any way, shape, or form. I have not been able to deduce how they were able to ﬁgure out about these secret tunnels. They had been disguised and shielded from prying eyes in the most advanced ways we currently had at our disposal. They were waiting where the tunnels let out, and they rounded everyone up, including me. I could see that they weren’t going to even bring us to a camp; they were just going to execute us right there and then. I wasn’t afraid to die and was even prepared to die. I was inconsolable, though, for the lives of the people I had failed people I promised safety and had not delivered. Right as I thought it was all over, he showed up.
Ada DiMa Codsworth Valentine: Away from my brother, you Regime scum! I’ll rip you to shreds if you hurt them. Sweeper Troop Commander: Soldiers eliminate enemy Undesirable. AAARRRGGHHH!!!! He tore through them with a passion that I had never seen before; it wasn’t some sort of violent rage, but instead he was doing it swiftly and for a cause that was righteous and pure. When the smoke cleared, I lay there in astonishment. Looking up, I saw his ﬁgure outlined in the sun, as if I were some sort of stereotypical “damsel in distress” gazing at a valiant knight who had just come to my rescue. The fondness that I had for him at that moment was the most intense that I’ve ever felt in regard to someone in my life. Professor: Thank you, you saved our lives, I’m forever indebted to you for your service to the Resistance. Ada DiMa Codsworth Valentine: Don’t sweat it, I know you would have done the same for me. As soon as I saw your existence markings and current situation, I knew I had to do something. Professor: Well I – um– stuttering nervously you seem like you could be invaluable to our cause. Why don’t you come with me back to the base; we could really use someone like you. To save you the long and rather dreary explanation of some of the events that happened after, I’ll just cut to the chase. After he saved all of our lives, I brought him back to the Resistance base, after I had knocked him unconscious and put a bag over his head, you know, just to be safe. He got along extremely well with the rest of the Resistance, and he saved our lives on more missions than I can count. I don’t know how he did it, but the actions of that beautiful hybrisynth made me do something I had never done before; I fell in love with him. We spent as much time together as we could, but our happiness was cut short by the Regime’s invasion. Gunﬁre blares Ada DiMa Codsworth Valentine: Professor, we have to get our people out of here. If they don’t survive, there will be no one to live to ﬁght another day! Professor: I agree, love, but if we are to successfully escape, we need to make sure the access tunnels are not – KABAM!!! – Mother of God, what the hell was that?! Resistance Trooper: Sir, there’s a situation. They have destroyed the main escape tunnel. We can’t get out! Professor: What now?! Ada DiMa Codsworth Valentine: Professor, there’s one way that most of us can get out of this
Frankie Stolke ’20
alive, but you’re not going to like it. Professor: No Ada, you can’t. Ada DiMa Codsworth Valentine: We both know it’s the only way! If I distract the Regime and then blow all the rest of the escape tunnels, you can lead everyone out and establish a new base of operations in our Fail-Safe location. Professor: There has to be another way, I’m not leaving you to die! Ada DiMa Codsworth Valentine: Look, I love you too, but we have to think about the bigger picture here. I’ll always be with you as long as you don’t forget; promise me you will end this and that you will not let the Resistance die. You will make a future for all of us, promise me that! He pulled me in and kissed me just as he pushed me into the escape tunnel with the rest of the Resistance and destroyed the base. Professor: Noooooooo!!!!!!!! Ba-Boom!!! Now that I’ve told you all of this, I realize what I must do. I have been true to the mission he gave me on that fateful day, but I’m not done yet. For me to fully accomplish the promise that I made to my love and to fully get over this pain and agony, I must hunt down the leadership of the Regime. That means all the way up to their Supreme Dictator who stole power all those years ago in 2016, and plunged us into an age of darkness and oppression. This is Resistance Commander codename Professor, and this is my ﬁnal message to you all. Goodbye.
The Things I Carry Kwesi Cuffy-Scott ’19 January 2, 2016, 12:00 a.m. was the day I realized who I truly was. A growing young man, a growing young black man, a growing young black man with many superstitions about the world. Realizing that today’s world is messed up, realizing that I may die earlier than them white folks you see walking around Crown Heights or maybe even Canarsie, the white folks who are so oblivious to their surroundings, the white folks who walk down the block where Tito and his boys smoke dope, walking down where them dope boys call out “Ayo mami lemme holla at you real quick,” walking down where the gunshots went oﬀ less than 1,000 feet away from my house, just oblivious. There’s no more space in Fort Greene, so they gotta live somewhere. Some days I carry around a book, you know a book, the things that black people are supposedly afraid of, “To hide money from a black person put it in a book,” they say. Some days I read The Autobiography of Malcolm X on the train, good book actually. The way the white folks look at me makes it seem like they never have seen a young black man read a book on the train before, kinda weird. One day when I was riding the 4 train to go to school, this white man, late twenties, who got on at Nevins, sat next to me. He was wearing a nice suit, navy blue jacket, blue on white striped shirt, what seemed like navy blue silk pants, but when I look down at his feet he was
Kwesi Cuffy-Scott ’19
22 WordFlirt 2017
wearing two diﬀerent types of shoes, same color, same style but one sole was bigger than the other. When he sat down I could tell with my peripheral vision that he was looking at me. He looked like an ugly version of Justin Bieber or maybe even a young Liam Neeson. “Good book?” he asked. “Yup, it’s Malcolm X, back in the day where black people couldn’t sit near white people, back in the day where if you look at a white person the wrong way you get lynched, back in the day where black people weren’t allowed to even read, where the black women were raped,” I said with anger and passion. As soon as I ﬁnished saying what I had to say, a couple of kids laughed, an old black woman said amen, and this lady that was on the other side of me chuckled under her breath. I think I made the white man uncomfortable. As I was packing my Malcolm X book in my bag because it was my stop to get oﬀ, I just stared at the man; he looked like he was going to wet his pants, maybe even dirty them. He was gripping his Trader Joe’s bag very tightly like he was gonna swing a punch at me or something. If he did, it would’ve been embarrassing for him. Still staring at him, I got up and told the man, “Good day, white man.” As I walked out all you heard was applause throughout the whole train car. Black is a color, Afrikan American/Americans is an ethnicity/ethnic group. I use a “K” to denote the invasion and enslavement of the continent many years ago by imperial colonial thieves from the western world. I can’t lie. I don’t always call myself Afrikan American, I do say black. I say black more than a white person says ni**a or ni**er. Just thinking of that word gets me mad, it brings so much fury to my soul. It just carries so much history behind it, a derogatory word. My ancestors were called ni**ers – the white people called them that name so much, the slaves actually thought it was their real name. They carried that word around for hundreds of years, and maybe still today. Walking down school hallways, you hear white people saying the word like it’s just another word. One thing they don’t know is that if I catch one of them saying that word, I’m going to grab them, look them in their eyes, look so deep into their eyes that I could feel their soul quiver from inside out and ask them, what do you carry? DO you carry the feeling that you might get killed by a police oﬃcer every day? DO you carry around people looking at you differently because of your skin color? DO you carry around knowing that your ancestors were treated like cattle, whipped and raped like they weren’t human for hundreds of years? What do you carry?
My name is Kwesi Not Crazy, not Tracey, grew up with a mommy and a daddy, see my skin, I got lots of melanin, see my nose, nah it ain’t thin, one word, Black. Well, let me tell you something about being black. Black ain’t wack I’m black I don’t snort crack, I don’t smoke crack, I don’t sell crack. Now let’s go Back I have a mommy and a daddy who love me. My mom is a teacher, she never changed her features, my father is an electrician, he never went to prison And....They....Do....Pay.....Full....TUITION. I’m Kwesi Cuﬀy-Scott, the boy with the speaker in his backpack, playing music from way back, no I ain’t gonna attack, in fact, my brain intact, when I’m talking to you I make eye contact. At times I do speak eloquently and I can pronounce all my T’s. I’m proud to be Black, Black ain’t Wack, you better remember that. 23
Si Me He Perdido Amanda Mai Becker ’18 Si me he perdido, por favor Devuélveme... No sé...
Mi casa reconstruye La misma estructura Una cara diferente
Mi casa es de barro Es una mezcla de trozos Es un fragmento de todo el mundo Barrieron juntos en un lío de experiencias
Mi casa está arriba Solo para caer
Mi casa es débil A través de la lluvia A través de la nieve A través de todas las condiciones Mi casa se desintegra Sube y baja como la marea Tirado por la luna, manipulado por la gravedad Viaja por el mar hasta que encuentra la orilla perfecta
Charlee Liebeskind ’17
24 WordFlirt 2017
Mi casa es débil Pero Mi casa es fuerte Mi casa me sigue No importa a donde voy Mi casa me sigue Siempre Mi casa no tiene límites Y Si me he perdido, por favor Devuélveme a... No importa a donde voy porque Mi casa me sigue Siempre
Joy Yi Lu Freund ’18
“The mind is not a vessel to be filled but a fire to be kindled.” – Plutarch
Joy Yi Lu Freund ’18
“The mind is not a vessel to be filled but a fire to be kindled.” – Plutarch